Monday, February 28, 2011

Yorkshire Evening Post 28/2/11
Swansea City v Leeds United: Whites Welsh woes worsen
On their first and only other appearance at the Liberty Stadium, Leeds United all but conceded defeat in their pursuit of the League One title.
In the same arena on Saturday afternoon, the club’s chance of automatic promotion from the Championship went much the same way.
An eight-point deficit with 12 games to play? “If people want to right us off then that’s up to them,” said United’s manager, Simon Grayson.
“I still think a lot will happen yet.” Ever the optimist, despite a game which left him with a face like thunder.
Mathematics did not make the League One trophy an impossibility when Leeds were beaten in south Wales at the end of 2007 but they accepted their loss as evidence that they would have neither the skill nor the endurance to outrun Swansea City. As it did on Saturday, United’s defeat to a distinctly better team gave rise to sober reflection about their competitive limits.
Those of sympathetic disposition will talk of the header that shook Swansea’s crossbar and a valid penalty appeal which caught referee Phil Dowd and one of his linesmen asleep but the truth of Saturday’s pivotal fixture was that Leeds deserved nothing from it. Swansea hold a reputation for fluid football and ripe confidence and their swaggering performance did not weaken it. “We were wonderful,” said coach Brendan Rodgers.
The Welsh city spent much of last week reminiscing about 1981, the year when their football club produced – in the words of one former player – the “biggest win in our history” and routed Leeds by a margin of four goals. Saturday’s victory could be more significant for a club who have methodically cleared a long path to the Premier League. On Saturday’s evidence, the division would be pleased to include them.
United are rarely found as devoid of vigour as they were in Swansea, and Grayson’s pride does not allow clemency for days so forgettable. It will be some time before Leeds cross a team as unbridled as Swansea were. But the timing of a sorry lull was expensive, as Grayson knew it would be. City were five points better off than United before kick-off and eight by full-time. The chase of second position might now defer to a defence of sixth, barring a change in the Championship’s landscape.
A goal from Scott Sinclair at the start of each half was all Swansea needed to profit from their concerted dominance. Luke Moore’s tap-in made the final 18 minutes a formality. How heavily a second defeat in 21 league games rested on Grayson’s failure to recruit a new player and employ a five-man midfield against a persistent Swansea attack is open to debate – by the final whistle it felt like a serious handicap – but Leeds were examined with wholly unflattering results.
“You can talk about systems,” Grayson said, “but it doesn’t stop you running around and putting in a shift.” He had no appetite for such comments after a four-day window in which four points went begging against Norwich City and Barnsley. He will look back on last week with no fondness at all, aware of the damage it has done to the league table.
It was United’s intention to agree and announce a signing before Saturday – the club’s team bus transported shirt-printing equipment to south Wales in anticipation of a last-minute transfer – but their attempts to prise a suitable midfielder from another club came to nothing. In the absence of the suspended Bradley Johnson, Grayson fought fire with fire by throwing Davide Somma into his line-up, the most aggressive option available to him.
It would be argued by some that Somma should be part of Grayson’s team regardless, on account of a record which runs close to a goal a game, but there was still a sense that United’s boss had been forced into adopting the lesser of two formations. It did not follow that the use of a lone striker was more appropriate at home to Barnsley than in the depths of the Principality. The difficulty of the game in Swansea took no time to sink in. In the sixth minute, the immensely elusive Stephen Dobbie controlled a pass from Nathan Dyer and stroked the ball against the legs of Alex Bruce. Kasper Schmeichel’s left-hand post repelled a deflection which the goalkeeper could not have read. He was as vulnerable again when Sinclair met the resulting corner with a loose volley inside United’s box.
Sinclair is Swansea’s leading scorer and it went without saying that he would not need many chances of that nature to punish Leeds. In fact, he needed only one more. With 13 minutes gone, the winger exchanged passes with Luke Moore and met an exquisite back-heel with an equally delicate shot which curled around Schmeichel and crashed into the net.
By that stage, it was doubtful as to whether Somma had touched the ball in a meaningful sense. His isolation was symptomatic of a team trapped in their own half. Eric Lichaj received the game’s first booking after flattening Sinclair and Robert Snodgrass narrowly avoided the same punishment for picking fault with Dowd. Midway through the half, Glynn Snodin appeared on the touchline with urgent instructions for Neil Kilkenny and Jonathan Howson, both of whom looked visibly unsettled in the centre of midfield. The strain on Leeds was barely disguised.
Grayson’s consolation was a scoreline that could have been worse. Schmeichel saw off a shot from Dyer with his body in the 23rd minute and George McCartney cleared a side-footed finish from the same player off his goalline. Luciano Becchio’s miss-hit effort only just passed as a serious attempt on Swansea’s goal. Injustice was prevalent, however, when Dowd decided to look away as a shot from Snodgrass struck the flailing arm of Alan Tate inside City’s box.
The appeal came amid a sudden surge of inspiration among United’s players and shortly before Somma hit the bar in the penultimate minute of the half. “It was blatant,” said Grayson. “How they’ve have missed it I’ll never know.” As he berated the fourth official, Swansea lost track of Somma and left him lurking beneath a cross from Kilkenny, free to produce a header which De Vries touched onto the woodwork. Unmerited though an equaliser would have been, those moments were key.
Ten minutes into the second half, Max Gradel clipped the heels of Dyer on the very edge of Schmeichel’s area and Sinclair hooked a penalty to the left of the keeper. The game might not have been up had Somma beaten de Vries on the hour after finding himself unmarked and in possession 12 yards from goal but United’s chance to avert their demise did not come again.
Swansea exerted themselves again when Mark Gower rattled a post, and Sinclair attempted to complete a hat-trick when he confused Lichaj with his control of the ball and lashed it a yard wide. Eighteen minutes from time, Moore anticipated Dobbie’s sweet through-ball and dinked a finish over Schmeichel. Between the movement and invention of Rodgers’ expansive armoury, Grayson’s players were run to a standstill.
The majority felt his wrath and Dowd did too. “I spoke to him at half-time,” Grayson said, “and I’m not going to waste my time by speaking to him again.” Dismal though the official’s contribution had been, the greatest share of the blame for Saturday’s defeat belonged at the door of others.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Telegraph 26/2/11
Swansea City 3 Leeds United 0: match report
By Rob Stewart
Swansea City remain on course for a place in the Premier League courtesy of two goals from Scott Sinclair and a third from former West Bromwich Albion striker Luke Moore.
Sinclair, the 21-year-old former Chelsea starlet, struck either side of half time, to earn Brendan Rogers' side an 11th home win of the season and a ninth in their last 11 Championship games.
Moore, who couldn't buy a goal in January, applied the finishing touch to a sublime Swansea performance, with his second in as many home games.
In contrast, Leeds United, who had lost only three of their previous 16 away matches, were a shadow of the side so deserving of their place in the top six.
However, they were unfortunate not to have been awarded a first half penalty when Alan Tate's blatant handball went unpunished. Still, they were second best for much of the contest and threatened only twice, through South African David Somma.
The 25-year-old striker, who earned Leeds a point against fellow high-flyers Norwich City at Elland Road seven days ago, saw his first half header beaten onto the bar by Swansea goalkeeper Dorus de Vries and was denied once again, by the Dutchman, after Neil Kilkenny's precise pass 10 minutes into the second half.
Having scored eight times in their last three games, since losing to Cardiff City three weeks ago, Swansea might have been three goals to the good before Sinclair's well-executed finish.
Stephen Dobbie struck an upright after five minutes, Sinclair volleyed high and wide from Mark Gower's corner and Nathan Dyer ballooned his shot over the top.
The goal itself was reward for Sinclair's sublime movement in the final third. After collecting the ball deep in the Leeds half, the young forward exchanged passes with Moore before side-footing the ball past Kasper Schmeichel.
Leeds knew their luck was out when Tate handled a Robert Snodgrass shot, a dozen minutes before the break, but got away with it. A minute later, de Vries added to the visitors' frustration by rising well to push Somma's header onto the bar.
Max Gradel's clumsy challenge on Dyer, eight minutes into the second half, gave referee Phil Dowd little option but to award a spot kick and though Leeds remonstrated, Sinclair kept his cool and made safe three more valuable points.
Gower's 67th minute free-kick was pushed around the post by Schmeichel, but the visitors were powerless to prevent Moore from nipping in to seal the spoils.
Mail 23/2/11
Leeds 3 Barnsley 3: Trippier rescues point for dogged Tykes
Kieran Trippier scored an 82nd-minute equaliser as Barnsley twice came from behind to derail 10-man Leeds' npower Championship promotion push by picking up a deserved point.
They took the lead early on when Jason Shackell powered home but the hosts started to show their class as the half wore and they equalised through Luciano Becchio.
Max Gradel was awarded, and then stepped up to convert, a controversial penalty in the 37th minute before Matt Hill dragged the visitors level.
Bradley Johnson was then dismissed for a second bookable defence and it looked like the game was slipping away from Leeds.
However, Gradel capitalised on Shackell's error to put Simon Grayson's men in front once again.
Dogged Barnsley refused to give up though and Trippier's 25-yard free-kick ensured the spoils were shared.
The Tykes were quickest out of the traps as they broke the deadlock inside the first two minutes. Trippier's right-wing cross was cut back into the centre by Danny Haynes at the back post and Shackell followed up to blast past a helpless Kasper Schmeichel.
The visitors were on the receiving end of some luck moments later when Gradel's 25-yard free-kick came back off the crossbar and hit goalkeeper Luke Steele on the back of the head before going inches wide.
However, Leeds are the highest scorers in the league and their persistence paid off as they drew level in the 23rd minute - thanks, in part, to an error from Steele.
The Tykes shot-stopper failed to get anything on Neil Kilkenny's inswinging left-wing cross and Becchio pounced at the far post to head into an empty net.
The hosts were given a major let-off when Garry O'Connor volleyed over from a good position and they capitalised on their luck even further when they were awarded a fortuitous penalty.
Gradel, who was causing no end of trouble for the Barnsley defence, burst through on goal and an innocuous looking challenge from Hill was deemed to be an unfair one by referee Mark Clattenburg, who promptly pointed to the spot.
Gradel got up to take the kick and he made no mistake by sending Steele the wrong way to put his side in front eight minutes before the interval.
Hill atoned immediately after the break though as the visitors, once again, came out all guns blazing. The defender powered forward from defence and latched on to Jacob Mellis' through ball before calmly slotting past Schmeichel in the 48th minute.
Leeds' task was made even harder when they were reduced to 10 men two minutes later as Johnson was dismissed for a second bookable offence following an ill-timed challenge on O'Connor.
Schmeichel saved well at Haynes' feet as it looked Barnsley would seize the initiative. However, after dispossessing Shackell on the edge of Barnsley's area, Gradel grabbed his second with a lovely curling effort that found the far corner of the net in the 70th minute.
To their credit, Mark Robins' men refused to give up and they hauled themselves level once more eight minutes from time when Trippier's tame free-kick found its way through the Leeds wall and past an unsighted Schmeichel.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sporting Life 19/2/11
GRAYSON LEADS THE SOMMA LOVING
Leeds manager Simon Grayson believes Davide Somma is too good to be labelled a 'super-sub' after the South African striker stepped off the bench to rescue a point for Leeds in a thrilling 2-2 draw with Norwich.
Somma replaced Leeds midfielder Neil Kilkenny in the 74th minute with his side trailing 2-1 and slammed home a fine volley with his first touch 60 seconds later for his 12th goal in 22 appearances this season, 11 of his outings as substitute.
Leeds had taken a 16th-minute lead through Luciano Becchio's header, but npower Championship promotion rivals Norwich hit back with Henri Lansbury lashing home an equaliser in first-half stoppage time.
Wes Hoolahan fired the Canaries into a 69th-minute lead, but Somma had the final say.
Somma has also been an unused substitute eight times this season and Grayson said: "He's a great lad. He's never once complained, he understood when I left him out last weekend, he understood today.
"He's got a fantastic attitude, he works ever so hard and is a massive team player and I wouldn't say he's best coming off the bench because he scores for us when he starts as well.
"He appreciates what we've done for him in terms of bringing him to this football club, of what he can be and what we've made him.
"But he's a great lad to work with and I'm sure he'll only get better.
"I don't know his goals ratio to minutes he's spent on the pitch, but it can't be far away from a goal a game now.
"That's a fantastic effort for him. He went to Lincoln last season and got a lot of goals there too and that's why he signed a long-term contract for us earlier this season."
Grayson said both sides deserved great credit for providing a fine advert for Championship football and could both soon be playing in the top flight.
He added: "We're hopeful of getting there. We had two fantastic games in League One as well last season and a great game this season down at Carrow Road.
"Both mine and Paul (Lambert's) philosophies are to try and play in the right manner, get hard-working lads who can also play and hopefully we can fulfil that ambition of getting Norwich and Leeds back in the Premier League.
"We've seen their following today. They have a vast amount of supporters, averaging 25,000 I think and we've had nearly 32,000 today.
"(We are) two clubs who have been in the Premier League, who will soon be back in there."
Norwich boss Paul Lambert felt the draw had been a fair result and was delighted with his side's display.
Lambert said: "The lads have been brilliant for me. This is a hard place to come, there's no doubt, with the crowd they've got behind their back.
"But I thought we gave as good as we got. I don't really bother with the table at the minute because I know how many games there are left, but what we've done is make it exciting for everyone connected.
"I'm absolutely over the moon with the 18 months I've been here.
"It's been a huge rise after the disappointment of being relegated (from the Championship). What we've done is terrific."
Norwich were in danger of being swept away in the first half by Leeds who twice hit the woodwork before the visitors responded after snatching a first-half equaliser.
Lambert added: "Leeds did that to Arsenal. They're a really good side and their fans are terrific.
"You know you're going to have to withstand a storm, but all credit to my team, they were brilliant again."


BBC 19/2/11
Leeds 2 - 2 Norwich
Second-half replacement Davide Somma earned Leeds a share of the points against promotion rivals Norwich.
Leeds came into the game with just one loss in 18 games and looked on course to extend that when Luciano Becchio headed in on 16 minutes.
Henri Lansbury's third goal in as many games drew Norwich level in first-half injury time, and Wes Hoolahan shot them in front on 69 minutes.
But substitute Somma had instant impact volleying in from Becchio's knock-down.
Becchio and Leeds skipper Jonny Howson both hit the woodwork in the first half, as did Norwich's top goalscorer Grant Holt, as a crowd of over 31,000 were treated to an action-packed game at Elland Road.
Howson shot inches wide on four minutes with Becchio heading Robert Snodgrass's free-kick onto the post as the home side began full of enthusiasm, taking a deserved lead on 16 minutes.
Max Gradel's cross from the left was flicked on by Snodgrass and Becchio eased past defender Adam Drury to head home his 15th goal of the season at the far post.
David Fox drew a fine save from Kasper Schmeichel with a 25-yard shot as Norwich sought a foothold in the game, but the woodwork soon came to their aid for a second time, as Howson drew a good save from John Ruddy and then hit the post with the rebound.
Just before half-time, Norwich got on level terms when Holt knocked down Andrew Crofts' cross and Lansbury applied the finishing touches.
The game continued at the same lively pace after the break, with Leeds having the best move of the game on 55 minutes.
George McCartney, Gradel and Snodgrass all combined to put Howson clear, but his low drive was deflected just wide.
Norwich were not out of it, however, with Holt flicking the ball onto the post, and two minutes later his side took the lead.
Crofts played in Hoolahan and the midfielder's low right-footed shot was deflected into the net by Eric Lichaj.
On 74 minutes striker Somma came on for midfielder Neil Kilkenny and within a minute he had volleyed his side back on level terms with his first touch.
Another replacement, Billy Paynter, almost snatched the win for Leeds right at the death but John Ruddy's full-stretch save earned his side a deserved point.

________________________________________
Leeds manager Simon Grayson on Davide Somma:
"He's got a fantastic attitude, he works ever so hard and is a massive team player and I wouldn't say he's best coming off the bench because he scores for us when he starts as well.
"He appreciates what we've done for him in terms of bringing him to this football club, of what he can be and what we've made him.
"But he's a great lad to work with and I'm sure he'll only get better.
"I don't know his goals ratio to minutes he's spent on the pitch, but it can't be far away from a goal a game now."

Norwich manager Paul Lambert:
"This is a hard place to come, there's no doubt, with the crowd they've got behind their back.
"But I thought we gave as good as we got. I don't really bother with the table at the minute because I know how many games there are left, but what we've done is make it exciting for everyone connected.
"I'm absolutely over the moon with the 18 months I've been here.
"It's been a huge rise after the disappointment of being relegated (from the Championship). What we've done is terrific."
New pages uploaded at mightyleeds.co.uk

1914/15 season review – Ten years in the making

Part 1 – Ravaged by war

An assassination in Central Europe throws the entire globe into turmoil and leaves football in a chaotic mess

Read the full story at
http://www.mightyleeds.co.uk/seasons/191415.htm



Part 2 – Ten years in the making

City celebrate the tenth anniversary of their birth but start the season with a poor run of results

Read the full story at
http://www.mightyleeds.co.uk/seasons/191415part2.htm



Part 3 – Erratic in the extreme

The Peacocks' form teeters on eccentrically through the spring and the season ends in a whimper

Read the full story at
http://www.mightyleeds.co.uk/seasons/191415part3.htm



Part 4 – Results, table and transfers

All the results, scorers and attendances and final table from the 1914/15 season

Read the full story at
http://www.mightyleeds.co.uk/pdf/season191415part4.pdf



Matches – 12 December 1914 Leeds City 7 Leicester Fosse 2

In the midst of a dire season for City, inside-forward Arthur Price returns to the side and snatches a second half hat trick as Leeds go to town against a struggling Leicester Fosse outfit

Read the full story at
http://www.mightyleeds.co.uk/matches/19141212.htm



Matches – 16 January 1915 Hull City 2 Leeds City 6

It's a personal triumph for Billy McLeod as he nets a record five goals at Hull and Leeds win at Anlaby Road for the first time with amateur international Ivan Sharpe completing the scoring

Read the full story at
http://www.mightyleeds.co.uk/matches/19150116.htm



Billy Scott (goalkeeper) 1912-14

Ireland international goalkeeper who was a big name signing by Herbert Chapman from Arsenal

Read the full story at
http://www.mightyleeds.co.uk/players/scottbilly.htm



Webb Richardson (right winger) 1913-14
http://www.mightyleeds.co.uk/players/richardsonwebb.htm





Neil Turner (right winger) 1913-14
http://www.mightyleeds.co.uk/players/turnerneil.htm

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Yorkshire Post 19/2/11
Invisible man now stepping into the limelight
Richard Sutcliffe talks to Leeds United’s unassuming attacking midfield man Robert Snodgrass, whose return to top form is driving them towards another promotion challenge.
As if to reflect Robert Snodgrass’s growing reputation as one of the most promising talents outside the Premier League, a reporter from a leading children’s football magazine visited Leeds United’s training ground earlier this week to interview the Scot.
The 23-year-old was asked all manner of questions for a feature that will appear in a forthcoming issue and clearly enjoyed the experience of wracking his brains on a number of off-the-wall topics.
One of these was the enquiry, ‘What super-power would you like to possess?’ Straight away, the United midfielder replies: ‘Invisibility’ before adding: ‘It’s a question I have been asked before and that is still my answer’.
Unfortunately for Snodgrass, this wish seems likely to be one that will not be granted after an amazing few weeks that have made him impossible to ignore.
Spectacular goals, rave reviews, man-of-the-match awards and a first international appearance for Scotland are just some of the reasons why the Glaswegian midfielder has become the man of the moment, a point underlined yesterday by the fulsome praise afforded him by BBC pundit Steve Claridge.
It means all eyes will be on the United man today as he looks to continue that scintillating run of form when Norwich City visit Elland Road on an afternoon when four of the Championship’s top six meet courtesy of Cardiff City’s trip to Nottingham Forest.
To some, being thrust into the spotlight so suddenly might be a problem. For Snodgrass, however, it is something he has learned to take in his stride.
“I am not the type of lad who lets things like that affect me,” says the 23-year-old when speaking to the Yorkshire Post about the praise that has been lavished on him in recent weeks. “When I was younger, there were loads of bad things written about me and I learned then the key for a footballer is not to let things like that affect you.
“Anyone can write or say what they want. What matters is what you think and believe yourself. That is why I don’t take any notice of what is written, such as when someone says, ‘You’re the best’ or something like that.
“In football, you are only ever one game away from having your worst performance of the season and I never lose sight of that.”
Such a level-headed attitude has clearly served Snodgrass well since swapping his native Scotland for Yorkshire in the summer of 2008.
Brought south by Gary McAllister, the signing from Livingston was best known for having turned down the chance of a trial with Barcelona as a teenager. He had also spent time at part-time Stirling Albion after a fall-out with the coaching staff at Almondvale a couple of seasons earlier.
The truth, as ever, did not quite match the tale with Snodgrass insisting no such offer had ever been made by the Catalan club and that the matter was more a misunderstanding between the two clubs. Likewise, his spell in the Scottish Second Division with Stirling followed a serious foot injury that had kept him out of the Livingston side for several months.
Once at Elland Road, it soon became apparent to his new club’s fans what a special talent Snodgrass possessed – a fact the rest of the country, and new Scotland manager Craig Levein, seem to have finally woken up to.
“I am really enjoying my football,” admits the Scot whose wonder goal at Bristol City last week took his tally to five in United’s last 11 games. “This is the best level I have played at – it is better than the SPL (Scottish Premier League) – and things are going well.”
Snodgrass’s stunning form over the past three months is all the more remarkable considering the serious knee injury he suffered during pre-season courtesy of an awful challenge in a friendly against SK Brann of Norway.
Initially, it was feared the Scot might be out for up to six months only for his return to come in a little over a third of that time. More bad luck was to follow, however, on his second appearance of the season from the bench when he was sent off in the closing stages of the 1-0 derby win over Sheffield United at Elland Road, incurring a one-game ban in the process.
He recalls: “I couldn’t have wished for a worse start. It had gone well in pre-season and I felt very strong but then I got injured and missed the next couple of months.
“Then, once I got back it took me a while to get my sharpness back. It wasn’t until we went to Coventry (on November 6) that I started to feel physically strong.”
It is, seasoned watchers of United this season will surely testify, no coincidence that the stirring run of just one defeat in 18 league outings began for Simon Grayson’s men at roughly the same time Snodgrass regained his sharpness.
During that run, the Scot has left a trail of destroyed Championship left-backs in his wake with his current form being perhaps best summed up by last week’s goal at Ashton Gate when he showed tremendous close control and poise to beat former England international David James.
Coming just three days after his international debut in Scotland’s 3-0 win over Northern Ireland, it proved once again what a special talent Grayson has in his team.
Today, it is Norwich’s turn to try to find a way to stop the Scot as the promotion race gathers pace.
“I love playing for Leeds,” says Snodgrass. “Ever since I came down here, Leeds has felt like a Premier League club. That may sound strange, especially as we were in League One at the time. But it did.
“Sometimes, the fans have let their voices be heard when we have not been performing. That is perfectly normal. I have loads of mates back home who work nine to five and pay their money for a season ticket at Celtic or Rangers.
“They show their disappointment when things are not going well. The one thing they do appreciate, though, is a player giving his all and that is exactly what the Leeds fans are like.
“We want to repay that support and get the club back where it belongs. The Championship is a very competitive division where anyone in the top six or seven can win it. QPR have not been through their bad spell yet and if they do then it is going to make it a really tasty final few weeks.”

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Yorkshire Evening Post 17/2/11
Leeds United: Clean sheets are so important - Snoddy INTERVIEW
Robert Snodgrass committed a Freudian slip last weekend when he acknowledged what he thought was the first example of successive clean sheets recorded by Leeds United this season. In fact it has happened once before, just too long ago for many to remember.
The Scottish winger dominated the agenda at Elland Road between victories over Coventry City and Bristol City, excelling in both matches and making his Scotland debut in between, but nothing struck him as more significant than the sudden solidity within United’s defence. “They’ve been magnificent,” he said. “People talk about Robert Snodgrass scoring goals but the defence have been superb.”
It may be modesty on the 23-year-old’s part but Snodgrass is of the opinion that Leeds’ promotion to the Premier League will rest on performances as rigid as that seen at Ashton Gate on Saturday. Prolific though the club might be, he argued that United are at their most dangerous when their defence clicks as it did in the west country.
Leeds pushed their luck during the final 30 minutes against Bristol City but the clean sheet registered in a 2-0 win was as much to do with a flawless first hour when goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel had no saves to make. The result followed a 1-0 win over Coventry City and yielded back-to-back clean sheets for the first time since September. Snodgrass was not alone in needing the record books to see when that achievement last occurred.
Simon Grayson’s defence have suffered their share of criticism this season, not least because of the consistency shown by Leeds at the opposite end of the field. It has often been said that United possess an attack capable of promotion and a backline more likely to invite relegation but, amid favourable attention on his own performances, Snodgrass did not allow the contribution of others to go unmentioned in the aftermath of two valuable wins.
“The defence have been first class,” he said. “These results are a credit to them. They’ve defended for their lives.
“They haven’t had as much attention as some other players here but if we’re going to get to the Premier League then this is the way it needs to be. If we keep clean sheets then we’re in business because we’re a team who score a lot of goals.”
The win at Ashton Gate completed what Snodgrass said was a “good week for Leeds United.” It was a better one for him personally. His debut for Scotland three days earlier realised a long-held ambition, though one which Snodgrass was careful never to flaunt too openly. As driven as he was by representing his country, he was wary of allowing that aim to override the priority of earning his salary at Elland Road.
His call-up by Scotland coach Craig Levein was not before time in the eyes of the general public but Snodgrass refused to see it as such. Scotland’s 3-0 victory over Northern Ireland last Wednesday – a match in which he played for half an hour – made it clear to him that the country are not at all short of capable footballers. Several of those selected by Levein were drawn from English Premier League clubs.
“Playing for your country is something you dream of as a little boy, and to make that step in my career is massive for me,” he said. “I’ve always taken the attitude that if I give 100 per cent for Leeds United then the chance might come. But I don’t think it was overdue.
Not at all. The manager makes his decisions and I’ve got to respect his decisions.
“The performance against Northern Ireland was excellent and that tells you how much talent there is in the squad. Quite a few of the Scotland players are playing in the Premier League regularly. They’re young and hungry and they’ll give Scotland a bright future.
“But for me, it’s only right to focus on Leeds United. If you focus on playing for the national team more than you focus on playing for your club then you’re doing something very wrong. International calls only comes if you’re doing well for your club anyway but you’ve got a contract there and you have to respect that – you have to respect the fans who come week in, week out and pay their money to see you play. If you’re not giving 100 per cent in every game then you’re cheating them. That’s not on.”
Leeds have rarely been guilty of short-changing their crowd this season. Saturday’s defeat of Bristol City moved United onto 52 points, a total which in Grayson’s mind put the club beyond the reach of relegation. Even he might not have expected a squad promoted from League One last season to reach that position with 15 games to spare.
The Championship table was fluid on Saturday afternoon, swinging initially in United’s favour before late winning goals for Norwich City, Cardiff City and Swansea City pressed Grayson’s team back into sixth place. On account of Nottingham Forest’s draw at QPR, however, Leeds are two points short of second place with critical games against Norwich and Swansea to come before the end of the month.
“You don’t look at the table too much,” Snodgrass said, “But you do have little glances. I’d be lying if I said that you don’t.
“You need to have some awareness of where you are and what’s going on around you but the main time to focus on the table is when you come to the last couple of the games. That’s when you know what you really need and where you can finish.
“Right now, there are still so many points to play for. We all know that. The only thing you can think about is getting back on the training ground and getting ready again for a tough game against Norwich. But we’re up there on merit, not by luck, and if it wasn’t for us conceding a few silly goals then we could have been touching on (Championship leaders) QPR.
“We’re going in the right direction.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus 14/2/11
Scotland winger links up with Gradel to supply goals
Bristol City 0, Leeds United 2
What a week for Robert Snodgrass. The Leeds ace made his international debut for Scotland on Wednesday and then ganged up with Max Gradel at Ashton Gate to keep United on course for promotion.
It took Snodgrass just 17 minutes to spin on to Gradel’s pass inside the box and turn the ball past veteran keeper David James.
The winger then repaid his team-mate five minutes into the second half, skipping past Jamie McAllister and cutting in to see his shot deflected to Gradel, who scored from an acute angle.
United kept successive clean sheets for the first time since September but they were extremely fortunate not to concede as Kasper Schmeichel pulled off two spectacular saves and City twice hit the woodwork.
Leeds manager Simon Grayson decided to ease Davide Somma back on the bench after the South African’s long journey from international duty against Kenya in Johannesburg, so Neil Kilkenny came in to the midfield and Luciano Becchio was the lone striker.
Eventually Grayson sent Somma into the fray but the man who had scored in his last four Championship games missed a good chance in time added on, spooning his shot over the bar.
Grayson was high in praise of Snodgrass, saying: “It has been a really big week for Robert, with his international bow followed by an excellent performance for us.
“The lad deserves everything that comes his way because he works so hard at his game.
“Everyone recognises his ability but in the 92nd minute he was still closing down Bristol’s full back and working his socks off.
“Max Gradel is a similar type of player on the other wing. He also took his goal well and played a big part.”
Grayson, whose side could not stop conceding goals earlier in the season, was delighted to shut Bristol out.
“The clean sheet was a credit to our players because Bristol had some chances and we had to make some last-ditch saves and challenges,” he said.
“Ashton Gate is a difficult place to come. They have some good players, and scored four against Preston last week, but we gave a really professional performance.
“In the first half we were excellent, controlled the game and got the goal. We could have had a couple more if we had showed a bit more composure in the final third.
“I knew they would come out in the second half and have a really good go at us but Max got his goal and I was delighted that we kept them out and gained the victory.”
Mail 12/2/11
Bristol City 0 Leeds 2: Gradel and Snodgrass keep promotion bid on track
Leeds extended their unbeaten run in the npower Championship to five matches with a 2-0 victory over Bristol City at Ashton Gate.
Robert Snodgrass put United ahead with a superb solo effort with 17 minutes gone before Max Gradel doubled their lead with a clinical finish five minutes into the second half.
The home side pressed for a way back into the game and hit the bar twice in a matter of seconds but it was not to be their day and Leeds held on for the win.
Bristol City made a bright start and fashioned the first meaningful chance of the game when Jamie McAllister got forward and crossed for Martyn Woolford who headed over.
However Leeds went in front after 17 minutes through a fine goal from Snodgrass.
The Scot collected a pass from Gradel and turned superbly before fashioning some space and slipping the ball past Bristol City goalkeeper David James.
Leeds immediately went in search of a second and the impressive Snodgrass left fly with a shot from 25 yards but James made a fine save to tip the ball round the post.
From the resulting corner, Snodgrass found Alex Bruce but his shot went wide.
The home side eventually found their rhythm but Louis Carey fired over from 20 yards.
With half-time approaching Marvin Elliott had a sight of goal but could not direct his shot on target as the Robins finished the half strongly.
Bristol City continued where they left off at the start of the second half with Woolford and Brett Pitman both firing wide.
With 50 minutes gone Leeds delivered another sucker punch when Snodgrass' shot was deflected into the path of Gradel who swivelled and finished well past James.
It almost got worse for the Robins a minute later when Snodgrass found Bradley Johnson with a pinpoint cross and his header just went over.
Bristol City pressed forward in search of a way back into the game and Andrew Keogh had a chance from six yards out but Andy O'Brien made a good block.
At the other end Jonathan Howson played in Gradel but he fired over with James scrambling.
The game was going from end to end and Leeds had goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel to thank for keeping their two-goal lead intact when he made a good reaction save from David Clarkson's shot.
The Robins were left wondering quite how they did not score with 75 minutes gone when a goalmouth scramble saw Albert Adomah hit the bar before Elliott also hit the bar with the follow-up shot.
Woolford had a shot blocked by Bruce late on but Leeds were not to be denied and saw the game out.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

leedsunited.com 9/2/11
CHAMPIONSHIP - A LEAGUE ONE REPEAT?
United chairman Ken Bates says the promotion race in the Championship could prove to be just as dramatic as last season's battle in League One.
After being seemingly home and hosed at Christmas, we were eventually overtaken by Norwich and on the final day of the season we were battling with four other clubs for the right to secure the second automatic promotion
It was a dramatic end to a dramatic season, and the United chairman firmly believes this term could come to an equally tense conclusion.
"We're three points behind second place which makes it very tight and very entertaining," the chairman told Yorkshire Radio.
"There are six clubs that are creeping away. There's four points difference between sixth and seventh. There are games in hand, but these are equalling out.
"It should make for a very exciting games between now and the end of the season. I think it's even closer this season than last season in League One.
"We were all worried that the clubs who get relegated would be front-runners and they simply aren't.
"You could say that the majority, with the exception of ourselves, are the more unfashionable clubs in the league with the giants at the other end, with Preston being the outstanding surprise and disappointment."
United head for Bristol City on Saturday before promotion rivals Norwich City arrive at Elland Road on Saturday week.
Simon Grayson invested in three Premier League players during the transfer window and has the full support of the chairman for the opening of the loan window.
"You may find we don't do anything straight away and wait until next week," said the chairman, referring to the maximum 93-day loan rule which would prevent a player from staying on for the Play-Offs if he joined immediately.
"It's Simon's decision and we will back him to do whatever he wants."
Bradford Telegraph and Argus 7/2/11
South African grabs decider as Leeds find winning formula
By John Wray
Leeds United 1, Coventry City 0

Leeds goal hero Davide Somma has set himself a double target for the season – 20 goals and automatic promotion to the Premier League.
Whoever chose to put Somma’s picture on the front page of the match-day programme must have been clairvoyant as the South Africa striker scored the game’s only goal – his fourth in as many league games and his 11th of the season.
Somma, who is on international duty against Kenya in Johannesburg this week, has had to be content with substitute duty for much of the season, manager Simon Grayson preferring a system with Luciano Becchio as the lone striker.
But Somma partnered Becchio up front in the 2-2 draw at Hull and kept his place against Coventry as Grayson again adopted a 4-4-2 formation.
“We have been drawing a lot of games so it was a relief to get the win,” said Somma.
“The season is going like a dream come true for me. I hope I can finish with 20 goals. There are enough games left, so we will see, but I just want us to pick up as many points as we can. We are fighting to finish in the top two and win back-to-back promotions.”
Wingers Robert Snodgrass and Max Gradel turned on the style as United collected only their second win in ten matches and climbed to fifth place.
Snodgrass, who hopes to make his Scotland debut against Northern Ireland on Wednesday night, ran himself into the ground, while Gradel gave Coventry’s teenage right back Jordan Clarke a torrid time and helped to set up Somma’s 56th-minute winner.
Somma said: “The wingers are working the hardest for the team. They are the ones who are going to create the goals.”
United kept the side which hit back from two goals down to draw at Hull, with Sanchez Watt still ruled out by a hamstring injury.
Coventry, without a league win since early December, had taken just one point at Elland Road since 1996 and the drought continued.
With Westwood, Eastwood and Wood in their starting line-up, it was tempting to describe the visitors as wooden, Leeds creating and squandering four excellent chances in the opening 28 minutes with Becchio and Gradel the culprits.
To be fair to Gradel, he set up his own opportunities with slick footwork leaving poor Clarke mesmerised. But Becchio should have made contact with a fine cross by Snodgrass and the Argentinian striker somehow contrived to miss the target from six yards after a sweeping length-of-the-field move started by goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and carried on by Becchio, Gradel and George McCartney.
Coventry had little to offer in attack during the first half, although Richard Wood’s deflected shot as early as the eighth minute was not far wide of the mark. The interval arrived goalless despite the considerable efforts of Snodgrass, whose energy output was exceptional.
Coventry were more adventurous after the break but Leeds continued to threaten down the flanks and when Gradel once again got past the hapless Clarke, the winger found Jonny Howson beyond the far post and United’s captain planted the ball into the six-yard area for Somma to apply the finish.
Keiren Westwood’s full-length save denied Snodgrass the goal his enterprise deserved but United rode their luck in the 65th minute when Lucas Jutkiewicz fired wide with only Schmeichel to beat.
Somma’s lobbed ‘goal’ was rightly disallowed for offside and after Neil Kilkenny left the bench for his first action since helping Australia to runners-up spot in the Asia Cup, Clarke finally took out his considerable frustration on Gradel and was booked for a scything tackle.
Becchio left the field in the 88th minute with his head bandaged from an earlier injury and United were indebted to Schmeichel for a desperate save when Clive Platt’s angled shot deflected off Alex Bruce just in front of the Leeds keeper.
Referee Mick Russell ordered five minutes of added time and Snodgrass was desperately unlucky to see his deflected shot clear the bar by inches.
Grayson said: “Our two wide players were exceptional. We had to battle and scrap for the points and we kept a clean sheet, which was pleasing.
“Davide was in the right place at the right time again. His ratio of goals to starts is phenomenal.”

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Leedsunited.com 5/2/11
SOMMA STRIKE SEALS SPOILS FOR LEEDS
UNITED 1 (Somma 55), COVENTRY CITY 0
United manager Simon Grayson named an unchanged side for the visit of Coventry City in the wake of the 2-2 draw at Hull in midweek.
Coventry arrived without a league win since early December, but they had the first chance when Richard Wood fired wide from close range after United failed to clear a corner.
There were a few lively early challenges with both Robert Snodgrass and Carl Baker being on the wrong end of a couple during the first 15 minutes.
It wasn't the most entertaining opening, but Leeds almost nicked the lead on 18 minutes. Snodgrass delivered a good cross from the right and Luciano Becchio stabbed his shot just wide of the mark.
Moments later, Max Gradel used his trickery to cut in from the left, easing past Jordon Clarke brilliantly, but his shot was just wide of the mark.
Within two minutes, Gradel tied Clarke in knots again before delivering another effort which was just wide.
Just before the half-hour, Gradel again instigated an attack that saw Becchio turn a George McCartney cross inches wide of the upright.
United continued to take the game to Coventry, Gradel and McCartney were linking up superbly, and Bradley Johnson felt he had claims for a penalty when a cross appeared to hit the hand of a visiting defender.
McCartney also made a timely clearance at the other end shortly before the break as Coventry mounted a rare raid forward.
But it was the visitors who were defending again at the end of half, first clearing a Snodgrass then blocking a Paul Connolly delivery.
United also started the second half on the front foot, and again Coventry had some early defending to do.
Coventry's rearguard was eventually broken on 55 minutes, courtesy of Somma. Gradel supplied the cross from the right, Jonny Howson knocked into back into the box, and Somma converted from close range.
Moments later, Snodgrass went close for Leeds when Keiren Westwood pulled off a great save, but Coventry did fashion a half-chance on 64 minutes when Aaron Gunnarsson went close.
Somma thought he had put the game beyond doubt on 72 minutes when he latched on to a flick-on to deliver a superb chipped finish - but he was denied a second goal by an offside flag.
Alex Bruce was next to go close when Coventry failed to clear a corner, and the central defender turned on the edge of the box with a great strike which went just wide.
Tempers flared with 10 minutes remaining when Clarke was booked for Coventry after a late challenge on Gradel.
Both Neil Kilkenny and Billy Paynter were brought on as the game headed towards its closing stages, and barring one great save from Schmeichel to deny Clive Platt, the visitors offered little in the way of trouble.
Snodgrass almost added a second goal in stoppage time, but one proved enough as United maintained the pressure on the leading pack in the Championship.

Yorkshire Evening Post 3/2/11
Grayson focusing in on loan market
By Phil Hay
Leeds United manager Simon Grayson insisted today that the signings he failed to secure in the January transfer window could yet materialise in the Football League's loan market after admitting to a "difficult" deadline day.
Grayson confirmed his intention to make improvements to his squad with the help of emergency loans after the final hours of the January window passed without significant activity at Elland Road.
United struck a deal to sign Colombian international goalkeeper David Gonzalez on a half-season loan from Manchester City but Grayson's attempts to bring outfield players to Leeds came to nothing on Monday as the transfer deadline passed at 11pm.
The club were widely expected to sign a central midfielder and defensive cover after selling centre-back Neill Collins to Sheffield United and allowing utility player Andrew Hughes to join Scunthorpe United.
The Leeds boss said the refusal of Premier League managers to release squad members on a long-term basis had hampered United's negotiations, and he defended his decision to step back from the market once it became clear that his chosen targets were beyond his reach.
Grayson, however, expects a number of those players to be made available for short-term loans when the Football League open their temporary market on Tuesday morning.
United are understood to have pursued Blackpool's Keith Southern as the January deadline approached, and the prospect of a deal with Manchester City's Michael Johnson – a player who expressed a firm interest in taking up a contract at Leeds – was diminished by a minor injury suffered by the 22-year-old last month.
Grayson will be able to sign players for a maximum of 93 days under Football League rules regarding emergency loans, but he reiterated his wish to avoid recruits who would be no more than "squad players" for the rest of the Championship season.
Grayson said: "I had many players offered to me and there are plenty who I'd be able to bring in on an emergency loan next week. It gives their clubs the option of taking them back after 28 days and I'll utilise that in a week's time or whenever I need to.
"The transfer window was difficult for us and for other teams because clubs are quite reluctant to let players out on loan until the end of the season unless they're sure that they're not going to need them.
"Sometimes the players who are on offer aren't right for you either. We weren't in the market for squad players – we were in it for top players.
"But I'd have thought that some of the players I was looking at will be available (on emergency loan).
"I've spoken to four or five managers about that, all of whom are in the Premier League. The players I'm looking at will definitely make us better as a team and I'd like to think they'll be available as and when I decide to get the business done."
Grayson completed his most significant dealings at the start of January, signing Andy O'Brien from Bolton Wanderers despite firm interest and a concrete offer from Cardiff City, another prominent Championship side.
United's boss was also able to negotiate a half-season loan for Sunderland left-back George McCartney, a deal which Leeds said was funded in part by their FA Cup third-round ties against Arsenal, but the end of the window was largely dominated by departures from Elland Road.
A bid for Collins from Sheffield United was accepted less than a year after Leeds signed him from Preston North End, the second time in quick succession that the defender has seen a transfer end in failure in a matter of months.
Grayson said Sheffield United's offer was "good for the club", and Collins' departure followed Federico Bessone's transfer on loan to Charlton Athletic.
Decisions were also taken to cancel the contracts held by defender Jason Crowe and two of the younger professionals at Leeds, goalkeeper Alan Martin and striker Tom Elliott.
Gonzalez's arrival from Eastlands broke the trend of exits and Leeds welcomed midfielder Neil Kilkenny back from the Asian Cup late on Monday afternoon. Club captain Richard Naylor was also in contention for Tuesday's draw at Hull City after recovering from knee surgery.
Grayson said: "We did a little bit of business early on in the window with Andy O'Brien and George McCartney and we've brought a keeper in from Manchester City.
"I was close to doing a couple of deals on Monday but at the last minute the clubs changed their minds.
"I could have brought in half a dozen other players quite easily they wouldn't have made us too much better. They'd only have been squad players and when I went into the market, I was going in for top-calibre players.
"Unfortunately it didn't quite happen for us but the level of player I was going at was very high. I said early on that people who come here have to be good enough to go straight into the team. We've already got good players here and it would be unfair to bring others in if they're not going to have much chance of playing.
"I'd still like to have a few more players, and you can see what we've got. But Kilkenny's back now and one or two others have recovered from injury.
"We do have a good squad but I always want to add to it because that's what made us successful in the past and that's what'll make us successful in the future."

Yorkshire Post 2/2/11
Hull City 2 Leeds United 2: Tigers are denied by United's stunning fightback
By Richard Sutcliffe at KC Stadium
AS the dust continues to settle on a transfer window when English football finally took leave of its senses courtesy of a jaw-dropping £225m outlay, a welcome semblance of normality was restored last night by a rip-roaring Yorkshire derby.
There may have been no £50m strikers on show at Hull City's KC Stadium, nor any player whose monthly wage packet touches seven figures.
But what the sell-out crowd were treated to on a cold night by the Humber was a good, old-fashioned blood-and-guts tussle between two teams who gave everything in the pursuit of victory.
Come the final whistle, honours had ended even thanks to a stunning fightback from Leeds United that saw first-half goals by Matty Fryatt and James Chester cancelled out by equally clinical strikes from Robert Snodgrass and Davide Somma.
For the Tigers, a point must have felt like scant reward for their efforts on a night when they created the better chances.
But, nevertheless, Nigel Pearson's side can seek solace in playing such a full part in a contest that in so many ways was the perfect antidote to the madness of the previous day when Andy Carroll had somehow become a £35m striker.
To the rest of the country, Hull versus Leeds may not be the most obvious of rivalries due to the two clubs being 60-odd miles apart and having spent much of the past half century residing in different divisions.
A sense of antipathy does, however, run deep between East and West, with Hull's recent two-year stint in the Premier League as Leeds floundered in the third tier going down as well at Elland Road as any success involving Leeds had done in the East Riding during the days when Hull was the biggest conurbation in Europe never to host top-flight football.
The role-reversal in recent seasons meant a first meeting between the two clubs at the KC in four years was always going to be a big draw, as proved by Hull being last night watched by their first sell-out crowd since being relegated back to the Football League.
At kick-off, there was an unmistakeable sense in the air of an era having come to an end following Tigers stalwart Ian Ashbee's departure to Preston North End the previous day – leaving only Caleb Folan, courtesy of a solitary appearance when on loan from Leeds in 2001, as the last playing link to the club's days at Boothferry Park.
This new dawn in Hull's history almost enjoyed the dream start with it taking just 30 seconds for the home side to create the game's first chance when Alex Bruce failed to cut out Fryatt's rolled pass from the right flank.
Aaron Mclean was the beneficiary but could not take advantage as the £1.3m signing from Peterborough United somehow shot wide despite being unmarked just three yards out.
The early carving open of the Leeds defence did, however, set the tone for much of what followed at breakneck speed during a hugely entertaining first half, at the end of which the visitors were just relieved to still be in the game at 2-1 down.
That United still sensed a way back at the halfway mark was down, largely, to the agility of Kasper Schmeichel.
He made three stunning saves to keep out the Tigers, the pick of which was arguably the one-handed effort that turned a dipping shot from Robert Koren over the crossbar.
Schmeichel was also on hand to keep out Anthony Gerrard's header and an attempted block by Andy O'Brien that was heading goalwards,
The Dane was, however, unable to do anything about the two stellar strikes that became City's reward for such an enterprising first half.
First, a slide-rule pass from Mclean on 33 minutes allowed Fryatt to race clear and shoot past the Leeds goalkeeper.
Then, as the visitors' defence failed once again to deal with a set-piece, Chester was able to power a header in from close range after being picked out by Andy Dawson's corner.
A two-goal lead was just reward for Hull's display at that stage but Leeds snatched a lifeline just before the break when Snodgrass marked his Scotland call-up earlier in the day with an exquisite curled free-kick beyond the despairing dive of Brad Guzan.
Parity was restored 11 minutes into the second half when Somma's shot bounced down over the line off the underside of the crossbar to set up a thrilling finale.
Leeds threatened when a searching cross from Jonny Howson was bravely cut out by Guzan at the feet of the on-rushing Luciano Becchio.
Hull's response was equally impressive with it taking a clearance off the line by Lloyd Sam to deny Fryatt a second goal of the night.
Sam then repeated the trick to keep out a goalbound header from Anthony Gerrard to ensure honours ended even with the only black spot on the night being the sight of Liam Rosenior being stretchered off in stoppage time.