Monday, July 25, 2011
Lonergan joins United
Leeds United have signed Preston North End goalkeeper Andy Lonergan for an undisclosed fee.
The 27-year-old signed a three-year deal at Thorp Arch on Monday afternoon as he completed the formalities of his move across the Pennines.
A former England under-21 international, Lonergan was Preston's player of the year in 2009/10 and is a proven consistent performance, having made 147 consecutive starts for his hometown club.
He has made almost 250 career appearances, the majority coming for Preston with only a handful of appearances being made elsewhere on short-term loans earlier in his career.
The Preston-born goalkeeper was attracting interest from Everton, and United manager Simon Grayson was delighted to complete the signing of his long-time target.
"This is something that has been ongoing for a while and some deals take longer to be concluded than others," said the boss.
"Contrary to the speculation we weren't chasing a lot of goalkeepers, Andy was always my number one choice, and I'm delighted we could bring him here.
HONOURS EVEN AT HILLSBOROUGH
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY 1 (Prutton 8), UNITED 1 (Gradel 83 pen)
Sheffield Weds: Weaver, Buxton, Bennett, Prutton, Jones, R Johnson, Sedgwick, Semedo, Madine, Amond, J Johnson. Subs: O'Donnell, Beevers, Jones, Reynolds, O'Connor.
United: Rachubka, Connolly, Kisnorbo, Clayton, Bromby (Bruce 85), Parker (Bodor 12), Gradel, Brown (Osbourne 67), Paynter (McCormack 46), Nunez (Sam 46), Mendy (White 74). Subs: Cairns, Lees, N Turner, L Turner, Taylor, Thompson.
Referee: M Haywood
United manager Simon Grayson included another new trialist in his squad for the trip to Sheffield Wednesday, Hungarian international Boldiszar Bodor being named among the substitutes.
Alex Mendy, who impressed as an un-named trialist at Rochdale in midweek, was again included in the starting line-up while former Aston Villa youngster Isaiah Osbourne was also in the squad once again.
The game marked a first outing for United's new black pin-striped away kit, and a huge travelling support was present to see the players emerge with Leeds fans filling the majority of the upper tier of the Leppings Lane end at Hillsborough.
But that support was almost stunnined inside three minutes when the woodwork came to United's rescue after a long throw-in was hooked into the danger zone and Chris Sedgwick planted a header against the bar.
United responded almost immediately, Mendy releasing Max Gradel, whose strike was deflected over the top for a corner.
It was the home side who were in front on eight minutes, though, when former White David Prutton cut inside from the left before delivering a superb strike which left Paul Rachubka with no chance at all.
There was more disappointing news for Leeds moments later when Ben Parker was on the wrong end of a hefty challenge, and was forced into limping out of the action. Parker's departure paved the way for trialist Bodor to make his entrance.
United had looked a little off the pace, but there were still some neat passages of play, Mendy and Adam Clayton both linking up well in one attack with some intelligent movement.
But Prutton, whose Leeds career ended under Grayson, was playing like a man with a point to prove and he won a free-kick on the edge of the box when he threatened again with the ball at his feet. Jermaine Johnson's strike was deflected for a corner and the same man had a shot blocked as the Owls pressed again from the set-piece.
United were next to go close, on the half-hour, when Ramon Nunez tried his luck from distance with a dipping shot which beat Nicky Weaver, but went just over the top.
At the other end, a Jermaine Johnson header was deflected for a corner and Padraig Amond went close as the hosts tested Leeds. in reply, Mendy fired into the sidenetting and Gradel whipped in a teasing cross which was scramled away for a corner.
Billy Paynter also sent a shot wide of the mark after Mendy pulled the ball back from the right wing and in the moments leading up half-time, Weaver hammered a clearance straight at Michael Brown, but the ball bounced to safety.
Grayson only made two changes at the interval this time with Ross McCormack replacing Paynter and Lloyd Sam coming on form Nunez.
McCormack's first touch was to send a shot skidding wide of the mark, but as he let fly he slipped to the turf and immediately called for assistance from physio Harvey Sharman. Thankfully, the Scot was swiftly back on his feet.
And United were almost level on 51 minutes when Paul Connolly picked out Gradel, who in turn released Sam, whose low angled strike rattled against the base of the post after flying past Weaver in the Owls goal. Moments later, McCormack curled a free-kick over the bar.
Tempers flared shortly before the hour when players from both sides became involved in a melee that ended with Gradel and Jermaine Johnson receiving a lengthy talking-to from the referee. United were awarded the free-kick, and Clayton could consider himself unfortunate to see a powerful shot blocked.
But Wednesday responded immediately and Jermaine Johnson made an advancing run without being challenged before tucking his shot just wide of the upright.
There was an undercurrent to the game, though, and Brown and Jose Semedo were next to have an altercation and the referee was again handing out lectures with United captain Paddy Kisnorbo in the throng.
As the game headed towards it final quarter, Gradel forced a good block from Weaver as he cut in from the left and Jermaine Johnson was also called upon to head clear when Mendy put the ball back into the box. Julian Bennett also made a timely intervention when the ball was swung in again.
But it was the hosts who went close again in the 75th minute when Jermaine Johnson fired across the outside of Rachubka with an effort that flew just wide of the mark. Johnson also sent another effort over the top after capitalising on a lost ball in midfield.
With eight minutes left on the clock, United had a chance to get back in the game. Gradel was forced to the ground while looking to get on to the end of a high, looping cross, and the referee pointed straight to the spot. The Ivorian dusted himself down, and promptly smashed home the resultant penalty with aplomb.
The strike ensured that honours ended even from the game, making it four unbeaten for Leeds in pre-season, and United boss Simon Grayson left with food for thought regarding his trialists as he finalised his squad in readiness for Tuesday's trip to Norway to face Sandefjord.
Nunez fights for first team place INTERVIEW
By Phil Hay
Leeds United have a recent tradition of finding gems in obscure locations.
Jermaine Beckford and Davide Somma created a trend which Ramon Nunez, the Honduran international, plans to follow at Elland Road.
He might have been on the periphery of United’s squad last season but, at Leeds of all clubs, he should not need to be told about the virtue of patience. Beckford took a year-and-a-half to make a telling impression and Somma’s league debut came after 12 months of doubt and a loan at Lincoln City. The lesson seems clear enough.
Nunez’s situation is more akin to Somma’s than it is to Beckford’s.
At the beginning of May, before Leeds took up the option to extend his contract by a further year, it was not entirely clear whether Nunez’s career in West Yorkshire had anywhere left to run.
His appearances for Leeds numbered two and his time on the field totalled 42 minutes until he was loaned to Scunthorpe United in March.
Yet, in keeping with the progress of Somma, Nunez received the guarantee of a “big opportunity” from his manager, Simon Grayson, last week and has so far done what he can to grasp it. His fine goal at Motherwell, the highlight of United’s tour to Scotland, displayed his name in lights for the first time.
The obvious question for a player like him is how he coped with the uncertainty of his first year in Leeds.
United signed him last summer on a six-month deal and then extended his agreement for a further six months, without any sign that Grayson planned to use him imminently.
A temporary transfer to Glanford Park, where Grayson said Nunez “began to understand what’s required in the English game”, was United’s way of saying that the 25-year-old’s time would come later.
“I found the last year a bit frustrating but I guess that’s natural,” Nunez conceded. “However things looked for me, I kept my head up and made sure I was focused and positive. It’s all you can do and it’s the only way to move forward.
“Being positive makes a difference to the way you play and I think that’s shown in pre-season so far.
“I’m getting a bit more of an opportunity and I feel in the right frame of mind to take it. It seems like I’ve got a good chance of getting into the starting XI.
“Other players here have been in my position and Somma’s situation is something you have to look at. It lets you know that if you play well enough and work hard enough, your chance will come eventually.
“He’s a great example of that and I hope I’ll be next.”
United’s reticence in selecting Nunez last season was not shared by his home nation, Honduras. The Central American republic continued to call up the 5ft 5in attacker as a matter of course and used him last month in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, a tournament where Honduras reached the semi-finals.
Nunez appeared five times as a substitute but his competitive commitments in a month when the majority of United’s players were on holiday allowed him to report back to Thorp Arch in fine health.
From the outset of pre-season training, Grayson made it clear that the former Deportivo Olim man would be as involved in United’s friendlies as any other squad member. At Falkirk last midweek, he stood out in a mundane friendly, and at the weekend his winning goal stole the show at Fir Park. Nunez made another 45-minute appearance at Rochdale on Tuesday and will play again in Sheffield this weekend, with the start of the season a fortnight away.
Injuries to Somma and Luciano Becchio have scarcely harmed his prospects of starting at Southampton on August 6.
“I feel very good and very positive,” Nunez added. “I’ve been trying to work as hard as possible to earn a spot, as everyone has.
“I’m very happy and I think that comes from all the work I’m putting in.
“I had a good summer, did well with my national team, and that’s helped me coming into pre-season. What I want now is a good start to the season.
“I’d have liked to have a go at it last season and unfortunately that wasn’t possible but this year is going to be very different. I know that.
“I kept my mind very positive and my time at Scunthorpe was a good way of showing myself off and earning a chance this season. A few games there will definitely have helped me.”
Nunez scored three goals in eight appearances for the Iron, enhancing his own prospects if not those of a club who were relegated from the Championship. Scunthorpe’s manager, Alan Knill, said Nunez had “showcased his skills and probably won a few admirers”.
Grayson wanted the player to learn about the Championship and familiarise himself with the division’s pace and requirements. Nunez says he is “completely adapted” after his loan stint and considers himself settled in both Leeds and England.
“This is where I want to be,” he said. “I’m settled in England and I’m happy at Leeds. They’re a team with a lot of tradition and a lot of history. Ideally, I’d like this to be a long-term thing for me.
“I grew up in America, so there are a lot of similarities with England. It hasn’t been hard for me to fit in.
“The fans have been supportive and that’s a great feeling for a player – another thing that’s given me the extra confidence I need – and I want to thank them for that.
“The gaffer hasn’t said too much to me, but what he has said has been very positive. That’s always great for a player. It gives you an extra push.
“I see myself having a big role here and I want to help Leeds get promoted next season. Everybody wants to see Leeds in the Premier League and I think we’ve got a good chance of getting there.”
The dilemma for Grayson is where best to utilise Nunez, a versatile player who can operate as a winger or a forward.
Max Gradel and Robert Snodgrass are likely to occupy either flank when the Championship season starts, but the loss of Becchio and Somma has forced United’s manager to reconsider his options in attack.
If Nunez’s short time at Scunthorpe proved one thing, it was a steady eye for goal.
“I definitely feel more comfortable in behind a striker,” Nunez said. “But I’m also willing to put in the work on the wings.
“Wherever the gaffer decides to play me, I’ll be up to it.”
Sunday, July 17, 2011
UNITED SEE OFF MOTHERWELL
Grayson's men win second Scottish game...
MOTHERWELL 1 (Murphy 39), UNITED 2 (Bruce 68, Nunez 75)
Motherwell: Randolph, Hateley, Hammell, Lasley, Craigan, Hutchinson, Humphrey, Jennings, Higdon, Law, Murphy. Subs: Saunders, Hollis, Page, Lawless, McHugh, Halsman, Forbes, Smith.
United: Rachubka (Cairns 85), Connolly (L Turner 74), Kisnorbo (Lees 66), Howson (N Turner 66), Bromby (Bruce 46), White (Parker 46), Clayton (Gradel 46), Brown (Thompson 52), Paynter (Nunez 62), Sam (Snodgrass 46), McCormack.
Referee: W Collum
Att: 4798 (1913 Leeds)
Having beaten Falkirk in midweek, United manager Simon Grayson was again looking to utilise his full squad for the game against SPL side Motherwell.
And it was Leeds who created the first opening of the game when Lloyd Sam sent over a cross which Billy Paynter puled back across goal inside the first minute.
It was a lively opening to the game and Paul Rachubka was also called into action inside the opening five minutes to make a decent save at the near post after good build-up play by the home side.
Motherwell midfielder Keith Lasley received a stern talking to early in the game following an altercation that was ended by an intervening Paddy Kisnorbo.
Leeds were backed by a terrific away following at Fir Park, too, giving some atmosphere to the game.
Michael Brown and Adam Clayton were the sitting central midfielders for United with Jonny Howson being given licence to play in an advanced role.
And Clayton was the instigator of what appeared to be the opening goal. The youngster whipped in a cross from the left and Paynter poked the ball home from close range - but the effort was ruled out by an offside flag.
Moments later, Motherwell mounted a raid down their left and Steven Hammell smashed a shot against the post after cutting in at an angle.
As the half wore on the rain started to fall, making the pitch greasy, and two Motherwell defenders may have struggled a little when they combined to send Sam sprawling on 34 minutes to win a penalty for United.
Ross McCormack, Scotland international and one-timer Motherwell favourite, stepped up to take the spot-kick, but his effort was saved by Darren Randolph, who dived low to his left.
Motherwell had an opportunity themselves after Kisnorbo was somewhat harshly penalised on the edge of the box, but the resultant free-kick was over the head of Paul Rachubka and over the bar.
The hosts did get their noses in front on 39 minutes, though, when Chris Humphrey found space on the right and his low cross was converted by Jamie Murphy who slid the ball home at the far post.
Just over 60 seconds later, McCormack had the ball in the net at the other end after good work by Sam, but the whistle had already gone for an infringement.
And shortly before half-time, Aidy White embarked on a run that saw him carry the ball a full 50 yards before his pull-back cross was cleared over his own bar by Motherwell defender Shaun Hutchinson.
Grayson made four changes at half-time with Alex Bruce, Ben Parker, Max Gradel and Rob Snodgrass all being handed run-outs. The rain also returned with vengance at the start of the second period as the game kicked off in a torrential downpour.
The home side started brightly and after Paul Connolly cut out one cross, Alex Bruce headed away a corner from underneath his own bar.
But Bruce was involved at the other end moments later when he had a header turned over the bar after McCormack saw a shot turned wide.
Snodgrass was also denied with a header, following a good cross from Gradel after Paynter had charged down a poor clearance.
Gradel threatened again on 60 minutes when he had a shot deflected to Randolph in the Motherwell goal, but the home side came storming back up the park and Rachubka showed good command of his box by coming out to punch the ball clear.
Zac Thompson was next to be denied after a move he started and finished. He released McCormack with a good ball and collected the return before being denied by Randolph. The Motherwell goalkeeper also pushed the resultant corner over the top under pressure from Snodgrass.
But the next corner proved decisive as Randolph failed to collect and Bruce was on hand to convert from close range to make it 1-1.
Motherwell responded when Rachubka had to save a Michael Higdon header and on the break Thompson saw a shot deflected wide for United. The hosts again failed to deal with the set-play and Randolph had tol be alert to make an instinctive block to deny Bruce once again.
Moments later, United were in front, though, courtesy of a stunning solo effort from Ramon Nunez. The Honduran showed great skill to weave his way through on goal before working an opening for himself to slip the ball home to make it 2-1.
Having surrendered leads like this last season, Grayson was looking for his troops to close the game out and both Rachubka and Parker made good clearances when Motherwell came forward.
Gradel almost created a third, but was denied by a good challenge when McCormack was waiting in the middle, while at the other end substitute goalkeeper Alex Cairns warmed his hands by collecting a free-kick, curled in from just outside of the area. Cairns also made another decent save late on.
And that proved to be the last real action of what was another impressive pre-season outfit as United ended the week in Scotland by recording a second successive victory north of the border.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Falkirk v Leeds United: Lively Whites get off to a solid start
By Phil Hay
Drawing entertainment from the earliest pre-season friendlies requires imagination on the part of the spectators in attendance.
A small number passed the opening 90 seconds of last night’s game between Leeds United and Falkirk by aiming insults at an absent Alan Smith.
The midfielder is persona non grata among an undefined number of United’s supporters but, on the evidence of the club’s first appearance of the summer, Leeds cannot afford to be so choosy.
Their manager, Simon Grayson, might argue otherwise but the honest view of his resources in Falkirk was that he is a handful of players short of a convincing Championship team and a further handful short of a fully-loaded squad.
It should not come as a newsflash to the thousands in Leeds who have followed the close-season with a degree of nervousness.
Whether Smith will be part of the answer to many quiet prayers is, as yet, unconfirmed – one bookmaker shortened odds on his return to a significantly slim price on Tuesday – but the purpose of United’s friendlies in Scotland, predominantly fitness exercises for players who turned out yesterday for the first time since May 7, is in keeping with the state of Grayson’s existing squad.
More recruitment will be necessary before he can turn his mind to settling his defence, establishing his midfield and bringing together the pieces in front of him. For all the inactivity at Elland Road, the strands of an agreeable line-up remain, lacking still a sense of completion.
Grayson was treated to an easy victory over Falkirk, though his attitude at this time of the year is never to bother with results that are not spectacularly good or depressingly bad. An own goal conceded late in the first half helped Leeds put their hosts in their place during a game which often proceeded at a canter.
With time against him and the summer receding, Grayson sought encouragement from his existing players last night and found it in certain quarters.
Ramon Nunez – the hitherto untested Honduran international – showed the quickest feet in a rusty first half and teased a break in the deadlock before his shift ended at the interval. Robert Snodgrass extended United’s lead in the 57th minute, leaving no doubt about the outcome and ensuring a satisfactory start to a critical period of preparation.
It is a bonus for Grayson that in nine-and-a-half weeks of English transfers, Snodgrass has not been among them.
Grayson’s philosophy in previous pre-seasons guaranteed that he would throw his entire squad at yesterday’s fixture, but a glut of injuries narrowed his choice of players.
Davide Somma sat at home with a knee injury while his colleagues prepared themselves, and Luciano Becchio and Andy O’Brien gave in to injuries on the morning of the game.
They were minor inconveniences, the like of which Grayson would find more unhelpful in three weeks’ time.
All three are known quantities in his mind but last night’s friendly was a chance to gently blood Michael Brown and Paul Rachubka, the only signings confirmed by Leeds in the past two months.
Significant too were the 63 minutes negotiated by Patrick Kisnorbo, signed four days earlier to a two-year contract in spite of his protracted recovery from a mangled Achilles tendon. Minus his distinctive headband, Falkirk failed to stretch him at all.
Rachubka, as the only senior goalkeeper taken north by Grayson, was one of six players asked to complete more than an hour in Falkirk. His save after 12 minutes, diving to smother Kallum Higginbotham’s scuffed shot, was an easy starter for an experienced professional but Rachubka looked less comfortable beneath the header from Stephen Kingsley that looped beyond his far post 12 minutes later and the volley from Ally Graham which struck his crossbar before half-time.
In response, Leeds were largely speculative. Nunez cleared Falkirk’s bar with a swing of his right foot and a Robert Snodgrass’ free-kick sank into the side-netting. Billy Paynter’s failure to meet a curling cross wasted the best delivery produced by Snodgrass from the right wing.
On account of his first season at Leeds, Paynter’s need for goals might be more pronounced than any other player at Elland Road but an early finish eluded him when he broke clear and pulled the ball wide of Michael McGovern’s net.
Lloyd Sam outwitted Falkirk’s keeper two minutes later but saw Rhys Bennett arrive to lash his toe-poke away from a vacant goalline.
In those moments, the game found some welcome rhythm. Graham shook Rachubka’s bar in the absence of a marker and Nunez forced the opening goal in the 36th minute when he tempted Tam Scobbie to stretch out a leg and stab the ball into his own net.
Grayson retired five players at half-time, sparing Brown and Nunez among others, and the addition of Jonathan Howson to the centre of his midfield brought energy with it.
Snodgrass converted an unmarked header when he met Sam’s cross in the 57th minute and Sam ought to have done likewise after Snodgrass returned the favour.
His tame attempt fell kindly into McGovern’s hands and the keeper was helped soon after by a foot on his goalline as Leigh Bromby worked the ball towards the corner of Falkirk’s net.
Grayson could find little fault to pick, and the limp which briefly forced Max Gradel from the pitch created short-lived concern nine minutes from time.
His manager can only hope that West Ham United do not force a more permanent exit.
The Earl of Harewood obituary
Grandson of George V whose work with English National Opera helped transform British attitudes
George Lascelles, the seventh Earl of Harewood, who has died aged 88, was unusual for a member of the royal family in deserving a substantial obituary on account of what he did rather than who he was. His overriding concern was to help transform British people's attitude to opera, most notably through his work as managing director of Sadler's Wells Opera (1972-85), via its change of name in 1974 to English National Opera (ENO) and then as chairman (1986-95). The company, built up by Lilian Baylis during the 1930s, had moved from the Sadler's Wells theatre in north London to the larger and more central London Coliseum in 1968, and the new title he obtained for it further enhanced its status. His previous experience had been at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, first as a member of the board (1951-53, and again 1969-72), then as casting manager on the staff (1953-60).
The fact that he succeeded Stephen Arlen, the force behind the move to the Coliseum, in charge of the English-language company – on Arlen's unexpected death – was a huge endorsement of the policy that Sadler's Wells Opera had been following. It was acquiring a reputation for grand opera and Wagner, for serious singing and conducting, that had often been snobbishly regarded as the preserve of Covent Garden.
The competition between the Wells and Sir Georg Solti's Garden, which faintly echoed the royal operatic rows involving Lord Harewood's Hanoverian forebears in Handel's day, was good for opera in Britain generally: the Ring cycle conducted by Reginald Goodall in the 1970s, with Norman Bailey, Rita Hunter and Alberto Remedios, was the jewel in the crown of what became the ENO: but the regent wearing that crown was Harewood. Another fruitful collaboration was with Charles Mackerras, the great pioneer of Janacek and music director from 1970 to 1977, whom Harewood regarded as "probably the most complete opera conductor of his generation". As managing director of English National Opera North (1978-81), he established a new base in Leeds. Outside the opera house, Harewood was artistic director of the Edinburgh festival (1961-65), the Leeds festival (1958-74), and the Adelaide festival in Australia (1988).
His career coincided with the creation of a proper British operatic tradition by Benjamin Britten, virtually single-handed and against all the odds. The peer's patronage of the arts was not just decorative or social, but positively enabling. Thanks to his first wife, the pianist Marion Stein, daughter of Britten's publisher Erwin Stein, Harewood enjoyed a close friendship with the composer, who was 10 years his senior, and his partner, Peter Pears.
Harewood's sincere commitment to music and opera, and his acquaintance with many other singers, musicians and composers, made a real difference. He was, after all, one of the few royals who genuinely valued British music and knew a great deal about it. As Queen Elizabeth herself once put it to the general director, Peter Jonas, in the royal retiring room at the London Coliseum, on a rare royal visit to the ENO when Harewood was chairman of the company, but equally rarely when her cousin was unavailable to greet her, "Funny thing about George. You know, in most respects he's perfectly normal."
Harewood's innate sympathy for the arts developed into a powerful practical force. He founded Opera magazine in 1950, and also edited, and thoroughly revised, Kobbé's Complete Opera Book (1954) – having damningly reviewed an earlier edition in Opera.
Harewood was in the line of succession to the throne because his mother, Princess Mary, was George V's only daughter, and Princess Royal. When he was born, his grandfather, the fifth Earl, still presided at Harewood House, the beautiful 18th-century Adam family seat off the road between Leeds and Harrogate. George was born in Mayfair, in Chesterfield House at the bottom of South Audley Street – the family's London residence, given up for a more modest "grace and favour" address in Green Street when he was eight. But his childhood was mostly spent in Yorkshire, and at Harewood after his father, the sixth Earl, inherited the title in 1929.
It was an idyllic interwar childhood. George and his younger brother Gerald enjoyed country pursuits, were coached in cricket by the Yorkshire and England player Herbert Sutcliffe, and entertained at Windsor by their royal grandparents. He was sent away to school at nine, and added a love of football to his liking for cricket.
The two Lascelles boys took part in royal ceremonial such as their grandfather's funeral procession in 1936 and the proclamation of King George VI after the abdication of his elder brother, Edward VIII. George was at Eton college when he was called upon to be a page at the subsequent coronation. He enjoyed his schooldays, won the history prize at prep school, loved music, but never progressed much at the keyboard.
At the age of 19, he was commissioned as a Grenadier Guards officer, and was severely wounded and then captured in the Italian campaign. He passed through a series of Italian hospitals and German PoW camps, ending up for a time in Colditz because of his "prominent relations", which was a formative experience, though less democratic than it might have been, since his fellow prisoners were also all well-connected. In the Spangenberg camp, near Kassel, he read Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians as far as the letter S.
From his mid-teens, he seized every opportunity to attend performances. Privileged status gave him an entree to the world he sought to work in, but somehow he managed to combine being a director of the Royal Opera House with doing a kind of rapid apprenticeship as an administrative assistant who was soon heavily involved in casting.
Harewood was, as he admitted in his autobiography The Tongs and the Bones (1981), a fundamentally shy man. No doubt this helped foster his considerable ability as a listener. His fascination with performers such as Maria Callas, whom he engaged for many roles at Covent Garden, was not the deference of a fan, but the grateful friendship of somebody who really knew what the adoption of an artificial role could cost and what benefit it might bring people. He once, in the early 1960s, spent the better part of a whole night driving Carlo Maria Giulini – who had just conducted the young Luciano Pavarotti in Rigoletto – around Rome. The maestro was so wound up he could not go to bed, and needed somebody to talk to.
Born into the line of the British succession, Harewood was, by contrast and choice, a retainer in the world of music and theatre. In a sense he saw the performing arts as a form of mediation very little different from that of constitutional monarchy, on whose periphery he was raised. He was fascinated during his time at ENO with operas that dealt with regents and courts.
The leadership he provided in the arts was very much that of a presiding constitutional monarch, whose moments of positive intervention were considered, tactful and carefully supportive of the creative and vital talents with which he was associating. To understand him, according to the so-called "Power House" team that he brought to prominence at ENO – music director Mark Elder, artistic director David Pountney and Jonas – you had to realise that he took genuine pleasure in the time he spent getting to know performers. Well-read, sensitive, and highly intelligent rather than intellectual, he was unsentimental in dealing with people. But he adored observing how artists felt and thought.
He particularly appreciated the company and character of mezzos and sopranos, just as he loved shooting and fishing and enjoying his Yorkshire estate. Both his wives were musicians – he moved from a pianist to a violinist, and was devoted to his Australian second wife, Patricia Tuckwell, the sister of the horn-player Barry Tuckwell, whom he encountered while at Milan airport.
He treated people with respect and civility – though he could pull rank. He had a breadth of vision and sympathy, both rare and welcome in the music business. His love of travel and foreign landscapes, as well as of his native Yorkshire, meant that his leadership had a relaxed and open quality different from the hard focus of more meritocratic managers and impresarios. He would say, at ENO meetings, "I will lie down in the road over this one," if a project dear to his heart seemed threatened. His commitment to the new was unwavering. ENO's reputation for daring in its 1980s production style did not always lead to shows he could endorse, but he never questioned the policy of renewal.
His renewed enthusiasm for football coincided with his time working on casting at Covent Garden. Just before Christmas 1961, he became president of Leeds United, the team he had supported as a boy. The club at that time was at the bottom of the second division and threatened with relegation. The improvement in its fortunes over the following years was not down to Harewood primarily, but to a local businessman, Harry Reynolds, who a few weeks later became its chairman. Don Revie had asked Reynolds for a letter of recommendation to work at another club as player-manager – but instead Reynolds brought him in as manager.
In 1964 they were second-division champions, and a year later they nearly toppled Manchester United at the top of the first. Revie, Harewood wrote, "welded together an ensemble – that is what a team is – which was the envy of others, and he and I used sometimes to talk into the night about how you build football teams and operatic ensembles and then inspire them so that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts".
Harewood was president of the English Football Association when England won the World Cup in 1966. He was also the first royal in modern times to obtain a divorce and then remarry – with the necessary permission from the Queen under the Royal Marriages Act, 1772. He and Patricia finally married, in the US for reasons of legal convenience, in 1967, three years after the birth of their son Mark, and a few days after the divorce had come through. By Marion he had had three sons.
George – as colleagues called him – was unconventional, though not quite as unclass-conscious as he was sometimes assumed to be. Opera in English, and opera in Britain, benefited from his far-sighted leadership. He was the right royal, in the right place, at the right time. Indeed the only thing that was not right about him was his politics, which were liberal and democratic. He is survived by Patricia and his four sons.
George Henry Hubert Lascelles, 7th Earl of Harewood, opera administrator, festival director and writer, born 7 February 1923; died 11 July 2011
SADNESS AT PASSING OF OUR PRESIDENT
George Henry Hubert Lascelles, the 7th Earl of Harewood, first cousin to Queen Elizabeth II, passed away at the age of 88.
Lord Harewood was due to celebrate his 50th anniversary as club president later this year and a surprise celebration party was being organised for September when many former players, managers, and fans were due to be invited.
Lord Harewood became president of the club in 1961 and he, along with his wife Patricia, were regulars at Elland Road. A former Prisoner of War, his loves were football and Leeds United, and he had a passion for opera.
During his involvement with Leeds United, he has witnessed both the highs and lows over the past 50 years and in the words of the club's anthem Marching On Together he was there throughout the ups and downs. He was also a friend to many within the club and to those who have passed through the doors over time.
Leeds United chairman Ken Bates said: "Although he was royalty, he always treated me as an equal and I feel like I have lost a true friend. Leeds United has also lost a great friend and the greatest tribute this club could give him is by being promoted this season."
Leeds United sign former Sheffield United man Brown as Woodgate joins Stoke
By Ian Appleyard
LEEDS United have signed former Sheffield United midfielder Michael Brown following his release by Portsmouth.
But Leeds have lost out to Stoke City to the free transfer signing of central defender Jonathan Woodgate.
Brown, now 34, has signed a one year deal and is set to make his debut in tomorrow night’s friendly against Falkirk.
Manager Simon Grayson said: “We’re delighted to finalise things with Michael. He is a player that I have long been interested in and I’m glad we’ve been able to sort things out for him to come here. He has experience and know-how, and he has played at the highest level. He fits the bill in terms of the quality of player I was looking to bring in and he will be a great addition to the squad. He met up with the lads when we arrived in Scotland and we’ve been able to conclude things quickly so he can start training with us here.”
Woodgate joins the Potters after his contract at Tottenham expired and has signed a one-year deal.
The 31-year-old former England international started out at Leeds before having spells with Newcastle, Real Madrid and Middlesbrough in a career blighted by injury.
Speaking from the club’s pre-season training camp in Austria, manager Tony Pulis said: “The lad is a top-class player and it’s been well documented that he has had his injury troubles, but we believe that if his fitness is managed properly, he will play games for us.
“We know that other Premier League clubs were keen on signing Jonathan, so we are delighted he has chosen us. It’s a chance we are taking, but one we were keen to take because of the stature and quality of the player.”
He added: “We’ve effectively taken him on a pay-as-you-play deal which just shows how desperate the lad is to get his career back on the right track.”
Stoke chief executive Tony Scholes added: “There is no doubt that we have acquired a player with outstanding quality and experience but he is one who has clearly struggled with injuries over the past two years.
“However, sometimes a fresh start can trigger a change of fortunes. Jonathan has been working very hard throughout the summer on his fitness so he is desperate to make the most of this opportunity and to play in the Premier League.”
Woodgate made just four first-team appearances over the last two seasons at Tottenham due to a groin problem.
Bucking the trend of the previous couple of years, when they had unveiled their new kit in the final game of the previous campaign, United held back on launching their 2011/12 kit until 7 July.
The previous day, club Head of Media, Paul Dews, announced that the club would be releasing news of arrangements shortly, but then photos of the new home shirt, as modelled by club captain Jonny Howson, started circling on Twitter and the truth was accidentally confirmed by Lloyd Sam on his personal Twitter account.
The following day, the club's website carried the official news at the same time as the identity of the new sponsors was revealed.
Leedsunited.com reported as follows: "The kit for 2011/12 is a retro style shirt in white fabric and is influenced by the 1991/92 championship winning season which the club is celebrating this season. The shirt features include the shiny fabric and distinctive royal and yellow tipping on the sleeve. The home kit is launched on Saturday 16th July at 8am from the Elland Road and Online Superstores exclusively."
Jonny Howson toed the party line: "The new kit is something the players always look forward to seeing. All of the lads were wanting a look as soon as it arrived and you feel like the new season's on the way now. It's a great shirt and the start of new things."
The Scratching Shed fansite offered the less flattering comment: "Aside from the enormous cartoon sponsor on the shoulder and the enormous sponsor in the middle and the tacky white shiny material they've made it out of, I think you'll agree this is still one of the worst Leeds United kits ever. Fingers crossed it's a hoax!"
Jagsnorbens tweeted: "Tell Jonny he needs to shave that bum fluff off. He looks like a 15-year-old trying to get into Yates'."
Enterprise Insurance were identified as the new main sponsor. "Enterprise Insurance Company plc was established in 2004 and is based in Gibraltar, one of Europe's leading insurance centres. Enterprise provides a wide range of general insurance products - including motor, household, warranty and legal expenses on a wholesale basis - for client companies in the UK, France, and Greece. In the UK, Enterprise Insurance has over two million customers and provides products to a number of well-known blue chip companies.
"Leeds United Chief Executive Shaun Harvey said: 'We are delighted that we have reached an agreement with Enterprise Insurance to become the main club sponsor. It's great to align our brand with a rapidly growing European Insurance company. There was considerable interest in becoming the main club sponsor and we believe that the relationship with Enterprise will deliver significant benefits to the club and our fan base.'
"Commenting on the announcement of the sponsorship, Enterprise Insurance Managing Director, Andrew Flowers, said 'We are delighted to be main sponsor for Leeds United. It's a terrific club with a great history, and an even greater future. On a personal note, as a lifelong supporter of Leeds, the deal has an added significance beyond the undoubted advantages it will bring to both the club, and to us as a company. We are looking forward to playing our part, together with the club management, the team, and the supporters, in the continuing Leeds success story.'
"Part of the new sponsorship deal will involve the launch of a new Leeds United branded portfolio of Insurance Services, in association with Motorway Direct plc, a business partner of Enterprise Insurance. Together the companies have in the region of 5 million insurance clients in the UK.
"The agreement is for an initial one year term and will see all first team playing kit, training wear and replica kit branded with the Enterprise Insurance logo."
The kit was used for first time in the first pre-season friendly, a 2-0 victory at Falkirk on 13 July, when the first goal came rather ingloriously courtesy of Falkirk defender Thomas Scobbie deflecting a cross from Ramon Nunez past his own keeper after 36 minutes. Rob Snodgrass was the first Leeds man to score in the new strip 18 minutes later with a header.
Saturday, July 02, 2011
Norwich move for Leeds Utd’s Bradley Johnson
NORWICH will sign Bradley Johnson, subject to the relevant paperwork being completed, after the midfielder’s contract with Leeds expired.
Johnson had no hesitation in signing on to Paul Lambert’s Carrow Road revolution.
The 24-year-old is set to become Lambert’s fifth new addition of the summer as the Canaries boss bolsters his squad which secured successive promotions back into England’s top tier for the first time since 2005.
With strikers James Vaughan and Steve Morison, winger Elliott Bennett from Brighton and young Belgian defender Ritchie de Laet on loan from Manchester United already on board, Johnson, who was out of contract at Leeds, admits it was an easy decision to head to Norfolk.
“Paul Lambert has done a fantastic job since he arrived at Norwich and that was one of the main factors in me signing with the club,” Johnson told the club’s official website.
“I am over the moon really to get the chance to play in the Premier League with a big club like Norwich City and under a great manager who I have a lot of respect for.
“Norwich have already got some good players there and I have had some great battles with some of them over the past couple of years in my time with Leeds.
“They proved they were a good team by getting back-to-back promotions, and another deciding factor was to join a team that enjoys playing football and is hungry and has got that desire to succeed.
“I cannot wait to join up with the squad and meet everyone, get training and get a good pre-season under my belt.”
Johnson, born in Hackney, started his career in East Anglia as a trainee at Cambridge, before joining Northampton in 2005, and transferred to Elland Road three seasons later.
The combative midfielder made more than 100 appearances for Leeds, scoring 17 goals including a long-range strike in last season’s FA Cup replay against Arsenal.
After Leeds missed out on promotion, finishing seventh in the npower Championship, Johnson is relishing his first taste of top-flight action with the Canaries.
“I have dreamed of playing in the Premier League since I was younger and I feel I have done a lot of hard work to get there, coming up from the Ryman League now all the way to getting a chance in the Premier League, I just can’t wait to get started,” he said.
Lambert feels Johnson can hit the ground running in the Premier League.
“Bradley’s a strong midfielder and will come in and give everybody here a hand,” said the Norwich manager.
“He has played against Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United in the FA Cup so has played in that big game environment, and for a big club in Leeds United so he’s used to playing in front of crowds.
“I believe he will be another great addition to the club.”
Whites linked with Real Madrid goalkeeper
By Phil Hay
Leeds United have added former Liverpool goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek to their list of viable options to replace departed first-choice Kasper Schmeichel.
Dudek is the latest player to catch the interest of Simon Grayson as United’s manager considers how best to follow up the controversial sale of Schmeichel to Leicester City.
Schmeichel’s move to the Walkers Stadium – a deal which Grayson said was negotiated at his instigation – left the goalkeeping jersey at Elland Road vacant, and Dudek is among the group of alternatives being seriously considered by Leeds.
The Pole is a fringe member of the squad at Real Madrid but plans to leave the Bernabeu this summer with no prospect of regular first-team appearances for the Spanish club.
Dudek has entered the twilight of his career and turned 38 in March but he is thought to have received contact from Aston Villa since the end of last season. Grayson has also identified him as a player worth considering after the swift exit of Schmeichel from Leeds.
United signed one keeper last week, bringing Paul Rachubka to Elland Road from Blackpool, but Grayson is working to recruit another with Leeds’ first pre-season friendly due to take place two weeks today.
Dudek is best remember in England for his six-year spell with Liverpool, a period which peaked with his match-winning performance in the 2005 Champions League final.
Madrid took him to Spain two years later but Dudek was never likely to be anything more than cover behind the immovable Iker Casillas.
He appeared in only one La Liga fixture last season and recently admitted that he was looking for a fresh start, though his preferred option is a switch to another Spanish club.
Dudek said: “My priority is to not change the country but I have an offer from Spain, Turkey and England. What is clear is that wherever I go, I have to play.
“Although I have been happy at Real Madrid and I consider it my home, it’s now time to play again.”
United have been linked with a raft of keepers since agreeing to the sale of Schmeichel. The club are long-term admirers of Huddersfield Town’s Alex Smithies but Town made it clear that they would resist any effort to take the 21-year-old from the Galpharm Stadium during the close season.
Lee Grant and Fraser Forster are other possibilities, while United were credited with an interest in Iain Turner and Tomasz Kuszczak, the former Manchester United player, over the weekend.