Friday, December 30, 2011

Yorkshire Evening Post 30/12/11
There’s no crisis here - Grayson
By Phil Hay
Simon Grayson denied that he and Leeds United were facing a crisis as he backed his squad to arrest their poor form over the next 72 hours.
Leeds are looking to end a run of three games without a win this weekend, and Grayson claimed clashes with Barnsley and Burnley either side of New Year were an ideal opportunity to restore public confidence in his squad.
United travel to Oakwell for a 1pm kick-off tomorrow before hosting Burnley at Elland Road on January 2, and the club are in need of a profitable spell having dropping out of the Championship’s play-off positions after their Boxing Day defeat to Derby County.
Grayson sought to deflect talk of pressure in the wake of a 1-0 loss at Pride Park, and United’s manager has repeatedly defended his players amid a period of disappointing results and performances.
But he underlined the importance of preventing greater concern developing, saying: “Whenever you lose a couple of games you want to stop that run quickly and get back into a winning habit.
“That goes for us and for other teams in the division too.
“We’ll be looking to win tomorrow and again on Monday, and our target is promotion and the play-offs at the very least. We still maintain that.
“We’ve not won in three which is a major, major crisis – not.
“Everyone can go on a poor run but it’s not like we’ve got five games to go. There are 20-odd left.
We’ve given ourselves an opportunity and I hope by the end of the season we’re talking about promotion, rather than the little wobble we’re on at the moment.”
Barnsley inflicted a 2-1 defeat on Leeds at Elland Road in November – one of a number of results which saw criticism aimed at Grayson and his team – but the Tykes are also out of form after three straight losses to Ipswich Town, West Ham United and Blackpool.
Keith Hill’s side conceded nine goals in those three fixtures and the Barnsley boss described his injury-hit squad as “down to the bare bones” ahead of tomorrow’s Yorkshire derby at Oakwell.
Grayson said: “It’s the nature of the division that clubs go on these runs.
“One minute you’re cast as promotion certainties or play-off certainties. Then you have a couple of bad results and everyone is pessimistic. You just have to keep believing in what you’re doing and Keith with be doing that. We’re doing exactly the same.
“Many teams who’ve been top of their division over the Christmas period have dropped right out of the play-offs, never mind winning automatic promotion. I still think everyone will be looking at the top two places (in the Championship) but you’d need to go on a decent run to achieve that.”
Yorkshire Evening Post 29/12/11
Protests put investors off club - Bates
Ken Bates has claimed that the actions of some dissenting supporters is jeopardising hopes of future investment in Leeds United, writes Leon Wobschall.
The United chairman, under fire from sections of fans since the start of the season, insists that criticism is having a negative effect and putting off potential new investors.
Speaking on Yorkshire Radio, Bates said: “We’re still looking for more investors and we’re talking to them on a regular basis.
“But the difficulty is the difference between what they say and [what they] can do. Of course, when they see chants and banners in the papers, they often say: ‘I don’t want any of that, why should I be bothered – I don’t want to get involved’.
“It’s a matter of public record that a very good, would-be investor was going to go into Everton and then said: ‘It’s not for me, I don’t want my kids to take the muck that the existing directors take, at school. So they didn’t go in.
“Fans have to realise that we’re now on a world-wide stage and everything – be it Facebook, Twitter and all the other nonsensical sites – what you say may create consequences which you haven’t planned.
“But having said that, we’re in a good shape.”

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Yorkshire Post 27/12/11
Defeat sees United Leeds drop out of play-off places
By Richard Sutcliffe
SIMON GRAYSON has reaffirmed Leeds United’s intent to strengthen during the January transfer window.
But the United manager admits that complications including the club’s own busy schedule and the FA Cup third round means predicting just when signings will be made is nigh on impossible.
Leeds fell out of the play-off places for the first time since early November yesterday when former Sheffield United striker Jamie Ward settled an entertaining contest at Derby County.
Grayson still feels his side are handily placed for launching a push for the Premier League in the second half of the season but admits to wanting to bring in at least a couple of new faces.
He said: “I’ve had meetings with the chairman (Ken Bates) and we have had targets identified. We will try to bring them in once the window opens.
“Every chairman in the Championship wants to get promoted and a club this size needs to be in the Premier League.
“We are still in a decent position but a couple of new players here and there would help. We have had those discussions.
“When you bring them in is another question. A lot of teams have got FA Cup ties coming up and we have got a busy schedule over New Year as well.
“There are factors that don’t help you get players in but we are working hard to do that.”
Danny Pugh’s £500,000 deal from Stoke City has already been agreed between the clubs and will go through as soon as the Football League offices are open for business in January.
Grayson was reluctant to discuss whether any new arrivals would be on a permanent basis or brought in on loan.
Speaking after the 1-0 defeat to Derby, he said: “I like to do my business in private.”
On United’s fifth straight defeat to the Rams, Grayson added: “The team who deserved to win it was probably us.
“We were frustrated with how we played at Watford and disappointed with how we played against Reading but you’ve seen the response from the players here.
“No-one who knows football can say we didn’t deserve to draw or win the game. If you lose a game there’s a right way and a right manner to lose. We have lost in the right manner. But I would rather play poorly and win.”
Telegraph 26/12/11
Derby County 1 Leeds United 0: match report
By Ian Edwards, at Pride Park
Simon Grayson has retained his dignity under increasing public pressure from Ken Bates in recent weeks. The Leeds United owner’s ultimatums about the need for promotion and the consequences of failure for his manager have not been open to misinterpretation. The pressure on Grayson’s shoulders will have intensified following this latest disappointment.
Whether Grayson will remain in charge long enough to bring in the possible new additions to the squad he has identified and “discussed” with Bates remains uncertain. According to Grayson, Bates is “willing to invest” and improve the squad who have been inconsistent of late, but sources close to the club have reservations about whether Grayson will be trusted to spend whatever funds are available when the former Chelsea owner releases his grip on the purse strings.
“We are looking to bring in players and we have had meetings. Every chairman wants to push on and we know we need to be in the Premier League. We are still in a decent position and a couple of new players would help us push on,” said Grayson.
The fact his side had remained around the top six all season, despite a run of one win in their last six homes games, says more about the paucity of genuine talent in the Championship than it does about Leeds’s promotion credentials.
Jamie Ward’s third goal of the season provided some rare festive cheer for Derby, helping them to only their second Boxing Day victory in 13 years. It pushed Leeds out of the top six for the first time since the beginning of November and placed greater emphasis on Leeds’s New Year’s Eve local argument with Barnsley, before the home game with Burnley. Anything less than four points could end Grayson’s tenure and the whispers about a potential move to Elland Road for Chelsea coach Roberto Di Matteo will only intensify.
When asked if he expects patience from Bates, Grayson said: “He has given me three years, which is two years longer than most managers get, but there is always pressure for anyone managing Leeds United. The expectations are so high.”
On another day his side would have at least taken a share of the spoils, but excellent goalkeeping from Frank Fielding and Luciano Becchio’s inability to direct his header from six-yards on target late in the first half, prevented Leeds from taking anything from this game.
For Grayson it was the “right way” to lose. Both he and Bates would have preferred the wrong way to win, and the wait for a league victory over Derby now runs to seven years - much to the relief of Nigel Clough.
The Derby manager, who had to endure some distasteful chants about his late father Brian, was able to celebrate only a second victory in nine matches thanks to Ward’s perseverance. Ward was aided by Craig Bryson’s incisive pass which gave the midfielder the opportunity to force a save out of Andy Lonergan before he found the net with the rebound.
Derby’s victory would have been more comprehensive if Nathan Tyson had marked his first start for the club since signing from Nottingham Forest in the summer with a debut goal. The striker, clearly lacking match sharpness, fired his close-range effort straight at Lonergan.
Clough was just happy to have Tyson, who has been battling a groin injury, back on the field of play, along with Shaun Barker. The Derby captain was back to his imperious best yesterday having missed the majority of the season so far after knee surgery.
“That is the side we wanted to put out at the start of the season and it has taken until Boxing Day. It is hard when you lose key players for a long period and it is no surprise we look better when they are back,” said Clough.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Yorkshire Evening Post 19/12/11
‘I still believe in the players’ - Grayson
Simon Grayson denied that he was under growing pressure after a toothless performance from Leeds United ended in a 1-0 defeat to Reading.
Leeds were booed at the final whistle as a crowd of over 23,000 vented their frustration at a tepid loss, but Grayson expressed confidence in his squad and reiterated his promise that new signings will arrive at Elland Road in the January transfer window.
United’s struggle against the Royals came seven days after a forgettable outing at Watford – a display which prompted Grayson to say his side “have to play better than that” – and it occurred on an afternoon when chairman Ken Bates spelt out the challenge in front of his manager and squad.
Writing in Saturday’s programme, Bates said: “The fight for promotion is getting interesting. The future is in the players’ hands. We need to avoid the customary Leeds United lapse at Christmas and the New Year and we should be there.
“Simon and his backroom staff don’t have a bad record. This year is the ultimate challenge for him, his staff and just as importantly, the players.
“For those whose ambition is to play in the Premier League, get us there. For those who are seeking a substantial pay rise, get us to the Premier League and we can afford it. If you don’t then if you are still with us, we will pay you what we can afford.”
But asked if he felt additional pressure on his shoulders after almost three years as manager, Grayson said: “No, not at all.
“Everyone wants to get promoted and you have to do something about it. You can’t just expect to turn up, get your wage and say ‘if we win today then happy days. If we don’t then I’m not bothered’. You’ve got to earn your money and that’s what this club, the supporters, the chairman and myself demand from the players every week.
“If these players don’t want to do that then other players will have to come in. But I do believe that the group we’ve got, with one or two additions, will keep us where we want to be.
“Even if we were 15 or 20 points clear we’d be looking for players in January, or if we were 10 points adrift at the bottom of the table. Every club wants new players and hopefully playing for this club is an attraction which makes it easier to get people in.”
Leeds held onto the Championship’s last play-off position despite falling to Simon Church’s solitary goal in the second minute, but another poor display asked fresh questions of Grayson and his players.
Church scored with a lob over goalkeeper Andy Lonergan – back in Grayson’s line-up for the first time since breaking his finger and named in place of the ineligible Alex McCarthy – and the United boss described the early goal as a “big body-blow”.
Grayson refused to blame Lonergan’s hesitancy for the concession, saying: “It got to an angle where Lonners wasn’t sure whether to come or not. Should he have come for it? That’s a difficult question and it was a good finish from Church.
“But it was a really big body-blow. You can’t give away an easy goal after a couple of minutes. It knocked the stuffing out of us and I’d wanted a positive start. We never really recovered.
“We huffed and puffed but the performance was like the performance at Watford. We didn’t have any spark or enough possession of the ball. We gave it away too much and when we didn’t have it, we didn’t have the energy to close Reading down.
“In the last couple of games, too many players have played below par in terms of the standards they’ve set. You can get away with that when one or two are doing it but when you’re taking about six or seven then it’s difficult for the team to win.
“The biggest cheer we got was when Michael Brown went into a hard tackle and that’s what supporters want – players playing for the shirt and running through a brick wall. There wasn’t enough of that.
“Reading are a good team and they’ve got the nucleus of the side who got the play-off final last year but the concerning part is that we never threatened them.
“We seemed stretched when we were defending but their goalkeeper didn’t have much to do. Players have got to take responsibility by trying to get on the ball and passing it better, but they will.”
Grayson rejected the claim that his side were suffering from damaged confidence, saying: “Watford wasn’t good enough and the performance against Reading wasn’t good enough, but I’ve got a lot of belief in the players and I’ll get performances from them.
“When the window opens we’ll hopefully get one or two players in, just to freshen the squad up. We’re still in a good position with half of the season to go.”

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mail 17/12/11
Leeds 0 Reading 1: Royals on the rise thanks to Church's early strike
Simon Church struck the winner in the second minute as Reading followed up last week's win over West Ham by claiming another prized scalp to close the gap on play-off rivals Leeds.
Church produced a quality finish into the top corner after controlling Jobi McAnuff's pass inside the penalty area with only one minute and 53 seconds on the clock.
Leeds, without injured skipper Jonny Howson, enjoyed plenty of possession but lacked guile where it mattered and rarely opened up the visitors' solid defence.
Simon Grayson's side remain in sixth place on goal difference despite a fourth home league defeat of the season, while Reading, having steadily climbed the table virtually unnoticed in recent weeks, have cut the gap on the Yorkshiremen to two points.
Leeds goalkeeper Andy Lonergan returned to the starting line-up as on-loan Alex McCarthy was not allowed to play against his parent club, while striker Ross McCormack and midfielder Michael Brown were also recalled.
Reading midfielder Hal Robson-Kanu, defender Andy Griffin and Church returned to the visitors' starting line-up.
Church wasted little time in chalking up his sixth goal of the season in Reading's first attack. The Wales international, 23, collected McAnuff's ball into the penalty area and planted a perfect angled finish beyond Lonergan and into the top corner from 12 yards.
Leeds went in search of a quick riposte and monopolised possession without creating a clear opening before McAnuff pulled a shot from the right edge of the area wide following a swift Reading counter-attack in the 13th minute.
McAnuff was denied by Lonergan's sprawling save seven minutes later as the visitors threatened to increase their lead and Kaspars Gorkss headed Mikele Leigertwood's free-kick over the crossbar as half-time approached.
For all Leeds' possession they failed to fashion a single attempt on goal until McCormack headed straight at Reading goalkeeper Adam Federici in time added on at the end of the first half.
Reading continued to keep Leeds at arm's length after the restart, but home midfielder Danny Pugh went close to an equaliser in the 59th minute when his angled drive from inside the area was well saved by Federici.
Royals midfielder Jem Karacan was forced off injured and replaced by Jay Tabb moments later, while Leeds manager Simon Grayson made three tactical substitutions in the 65th minute in an effort to break out of Reading's stranglehold.
Striker Andy Keogh and midfield pair Mika Vayrynen and Lloyd Sam replaced Adam Clayton, Brown and McCormack.
Keogh lashed a shot from inside the area over the crossbar within a minute of coming on following Snodgrass's free-kick, but as Leeds probed Reading almost snatched a second when defender Alex Pearce headed wide from just six yards.
Pearce then rescued his side at the other end when deflecting Leeds midfielder Pugh's goalbound shot from 25 yards for a corner, but it was as close as the home side were going to get to rescuing a point as Reading comfortably held on.
Sky 17/12/11
Boss demands more from Leeds
Grayson calls on United players to raise their game
Simon Grayson echoed chairman Ken Bates' call to raise standards at Elland Road after Leeds went down 1-0 to Reading.
Leeds keeper Andy Lonergan, back after injury, was beaten inside two minutes by Reading's Simon Church, whose two goals sank West Ham a week earlier.
Chairman Bates threw down the promotion gauntlet before the game when he wrote in his programme notes: "This year is the ultimate challenge for Simon, his staff and, just as importantly, the players.
"For those whose ambition is to play in the Premier League, well ... get us there! For those who are seeking a substantial pay rise, well, get us to the Premier League and we can afford it."
The Yorkshiremen, though, were clearly second best, Jobi McAnuff and Kaspars Gorkss missing opportunities to increase the Royals' lead.
Grayson made a triple substitution in the 65th minute, Andy Keogh, Lloyd Sam and Mika Vayrynen replacing Ross McCormack, Michael Brown and Adam Clayton, but it made little difference and Leeds have now won only two of their last seven home games.
The manager, who completes three years in charge next Friday, said: "Too many of our players have been below par over the last couple of games. We are still in a good position with half the season to go but as individuals we have to raise the bar.
"We can't give away early goals like we did today and expect to win football matches. The players have to accept responsibility."
Simon Grayson Quotes of the week
"We can't give away early goals like we did today and expect to win football matches. The players have to accept responsibility.
"Everybody wants to get promoted but you can't just expect to turn up, get your wage and think 'if we win today, happy days, but if we don't we are not particularly bothered'. You have to earn your money.
"That is what the chairman, supporters and myself demand from the players every week. If they don't want to do that, other players will have to come in but I have a belief that the ones we have, with one or two additions, will keep us around where we want to be."
Reading manager Brian McDermott, who completed two years at the helm on Friday, saw his side climb into seventh place, now just two points behind their opponents.
He said: "It was a very satisfying performance. We might have been two or three goals up and in the second half we were very resilient.
"It was a good start and Simon Church showed excellent finishing for the goal. Everyone has come up to the mark today and this is never an easy place to come."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Mail 11/12/11
Watford 1 Leeds 1: Heartache for Hornets as Snodgrass is spot on in stoppage time
Robert Snodgrass scored a last-minute penalty as Leeds salvaged a draw against Watford in the npower Championship.
It came as a bitter pill to swallow for Sean Dyche's Hornets, who missed a penalty of their own with just two minutes of normal time remaining.
Wolves loanee Michael Kightly scored the opening goal after 28 minutes and the hosts should have put the result beyond doubt but Marvin Sordell saw his spot-kick saved by Alex McCarthy before Snodgrass showed him how it was done deep into stoppage time, netting his fourth goal in three games.
Troy Deeney's early acrobatic effort hit team-mate Sordell as the hosts started much the brighter. Patrick Kisnorbo did well to nullify the threat of Kightly as the midfielder shaped to shoot moments later.
The visitors' first sight of goal saw Danny Pugh lift a left-footed 20-yard effort over the bar with 10 minutes on the clock. But they were soon on the back foot again and when Kightly got the better of Kisnorbo he unleashed a superb angled effort into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
With their tails up, the Hornets pressed again but Prince Buaben picked the wrong option when he tried to play Sordell in despite the fact Kightly was in acres of space.
Recent away wins at Leicester, Burnley and Nottingham Forest, combined with the fact they occupied a play-off spot, made Leeds strong favourites for this game but they struggled to find their rhythm in the first half. However, influential midfielder Snodgrass was presented with a great chance to level the scores before half-time but his chipped effort comfortably cleared the bar.
And it took a brilliant piece of defending from Nyron Nosworthy to deny Luciano Becchio as he looked to get on the end of Paul Connolly's teasing cross.
Simon Grayson was spurred into making a change around the hour mark after seeing Sordell spurn an opportunity to double Watford's lead, firing over the bar after his own excellent work left him one-on-one with McCarthy.
The United boss introduced 11-goal top scorer Ross McCormack as he tried to rally his side for a late charge. Connolly picked out McCormack within a few minutes of his arrival but the striker planted a firm header over the bar.
Recognising the growing threat being posed to his side, Dyche withdrew goalscorer Kightly from the action and put midfielder John Eustace on to add some defensive know-how.
But just as the home side were beginning to focus on holding on to their lead, Kisnorbo's foul on Sordell in the area gave them a chance to add to it.
Sordell picked himself up to take the 88th-minute penalty but saw it tipped onto the post by McCarthy before being smuggled away. Leeds pressed late on and forced a penalty in the last attack of the game as Nosworthy brought down substitute Mika Vayrynen.
Snodgrass stepped up and powered it home to extends Leeds' unbeaten run on the road to four games.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Yorkshire Evening Post 10/12/11
McCarthy penalty save the turning point - Grayson
Leeds United manager Simon Grayson has tipped goalkeeper Alex McCarthy for the top after describing his 89th-minute penalty save as the turning point which allowed his side to rescue a 1-1 draw against Watford with the last kick of the game.
Watford were already leading 1-0 at Vicarage Road through Michael Kightly’s strike when Marvin Sordell stepped up to take his penalty with one minute of normal time remaining, but on-loan Reading goalkeeper McCarthy tipped his effort on to the post.
The former England Under-21 shot-stopper, whose loan ended on December 10, then denied Mark Yeates before Leeds were awarded a penalty with the three minutes of injury time already up. Robert Snodgrass stepped up to secure a point for the visitors.
“We probably didn’t deserve the point if you look at our performance,” Grayson said.
“The big turning point was the penalty save and it gave us a chance to get something out of the game and it is great that the players had the determination to go until the end.
“Alex’s loan finished today and I spoke to (Reading manager) Brian McDermott on Friday about his performances and we said we would talk after the weekend.
“I am not saying we will re-sign him, that is down to Reading and also what we decide to do as well. What I will say is that he has been outstanding for us and we are thankful to Reading for letting him come and he has shown all the potential and promise that he will be a top goalkeeper in the future.”
There was little to separate the sides in the first half but it was Watford who led at the break as they counter-attacked with pace and on-loan Wolves midfielder Kightly finished with style from 20 yards.
The Hornets were comfortable for the majority of the second half and could have secured the victory through Sordell’s 89th-minute penalty, after he was brought down by Patrick Kisnorbo, and Yeates’ late strike.
Leeds substitute Mika Vayrynen then went down in the box under a challenge from Nyron Nosworthy and Snodgrass snatched an equaliser.
Watford boss Sean Dyche refused to blame referee Eddie Ilderton for the penalty decision and concentrated on his side’s display.
He said: “I don’t feel robbed because that is the reality of football; it can spin on a knife edge.
“One tiny moment and a refereeing decision changed the feel of it but the performance was good from us throughout and I am disappointed not to take all three points.
“I thought it was a soft penalty, and I have seen it again, but referees have a very tough job.
“Obviously you are always disappointed if those key decisions do not go your way but that is all it is, people can decide themselves. You have seen them given and you have seen them not given.”
BBC 10/12/11
Watford 1 - 1 Leeds
Robert Snodgrass scored an injury-time penalty as Leeds salvaged a draw against Watford in the Championship.
It was cruel for the hosts as they had missed a penalty of their own with just two minutes of normal time remaining.
Michael Kightly, on loan from Wolves, scored the opener after 28 minutes,
Marvin Sordell had his penalty chance after being fouled by Patrick Kisnorbo, but Alex McCarthy saved, and Snodgrass made Watford pay by equalising after Nyron Nosworthy fouled Mika Vayrynen.
Watford started the game much better than Leeds and were rewarded when Kightly got the better of Kisnorbo and unleashed a superb, angled effort from the edge of the area past McCarthy, who was playing his final game of a loan spell from Reading.
Leeds struggled to find their rhythm, although Snodgrass was presented with a great chance to level the scores before half-time but chipped over the bar.
It took a brilliant piece of defending from Nosworthy to deny Luciano Becchio as he looked to get on the end of Paul Connolly's teasing cross.
Sordell spurned an opportunity to double Watford's lead on the hour mark, firing over the bar when one-on-one with McCarthy.
Leeds started looking more threatening late on but Kisnorbo's foul on Sordell in the area gave the hosts a chance to extend their lead.
Sordell's kick was tipped onto the post by McCarthy before being smuggled away.
Leeds pressed on and forced a penalty in the last attack of the game - in the fifth minute of injury-time - as Nosworthy brought down substitute Vayrynen.
Snodgrass stepped up and powered it home to extend Leeds' unbeaten away run to four games.
Watford manager Sean Dyche: "I don't feel robbed because that is the reality of football; it can spin on a knife edge.
"One tiny moment and a refereeing decision changed the feel of it but the performance was good from us throughout and I am disappointed not to take all three points.
"I thought it was a soft penalty, and I have seen it again, but referees have a very tough job.
"Obviously you are always disappointed if those key decisions do not go your way but that is all it is, people can decide themselves. You have seen them given and you have seen them not given."
Leeds manager Simon Grayson: "We probably didn't deserve the point if you look at our performance.
"The big turning point was the penalty save and it gave us a chance to get something out of the game and it is great that the players had the determination to go until the end.
"Alex's loan finished today and I spoke to (Reading manager) Brian McDermott on Friday about his performances and we said we would talk after the weekend.
"I am not saying we will re-sign him, that is down to Reading and also what we decide to do as well.
"What I will say is that he has been outstanding for us and we are thankful to Reading for letting him come and he has shown all the potential and promise that he will be a top goalkeeper in the future."

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Mail 3/12/11
This is for you, Speedo: Brave widow visits Elland Road shrine
By John Helm
They came in their thousands, still incredulous at the passing of a footballer whose popularity transcended even his deeds as a player.
Gary Speed has gone at the age of 42 and left behind him a wife, two sons, a multitude of memories and mystery as to how it could have happened.
The build-up to Leeds’ game against Millwall was a true celebration of a young life which promised so much more. Fans of the former Wales midfielder and manager clapped until their hands were sore.
There were similar scenes around the Premier League, too, with Tottenham’s Wales star Gareth Bale removing his boot after scoring at another of Speed’s old clubs, Bolton, to reveal the message: ‘RIP Gary Speed’.
At Elland Road, Speed’s widow, Louise, left the ground just before half-time to inspect the massed tributes around Billy Bremner’s statue with other family members. They spent about 15 minutes looking at the scarves, shirts and photographs fans had left in what has become a shrine to their loved one.
They picked up many of the tributes to read the messages, sharing some with each other. Pinned to the statue was a headline from the day Leeds won the last First Division championship title in 1992 above a photograph of Speed and Gary McAllister celebrating.
Speed started his career at Leeds, winning a League title after making his debut as a 19-year-old in 1989. The affection for him at Elland Road was clear. Prolonged applause broke out as supporters waved scarves and chanted ‘Speedo, Speedo’.
The travelling Millwall fans joined in, capturing the spirit of the day, and at the conclusion of one 11-minute bout of singing Speed’s name between the 11th and 22nd minutes, everyone in the ground stood to give a rousing finale.
Hours before kick-off hundreds of fans had mingled around Bremner’s statue. Toddlers were lifted on to shoulders, grown men wept, some said silent prayers — all wanting to pay their respects to a favourite son of the club.
McAllister, who was sitting next to the former Wales manager and old pal on the BBC’s Football Focus sofa less than 24 hours before he was found dead at his home last week, has been distraught.
‘Alan Shearer broke the news and I turned to jelly’ he wrote in the programme. ‘He’s just a guy we all love. Not necessarily as a footballer, but just as a good friend.’
Eddie Gray, who signed Speed and current Leeds manager Simon Grayson on the same day as 14-year-olds in 1984, added: ‘Gary was one of the most popular players to grace this club. As everyone has said, no-one ever had a bad word to say about Gary. He seemed to have so much going for him. That’s what makes it all so hard to comprehend.’
Applause rang around the ground as a four-minute video of Speed’s greatest goals — he scored 57 in 291 games for Leeds — were shown on a giant screen before kick-off.
Prior to the scheduled minute’s applause, McAllister and David Batty flanked Gordon Strachan, the other member of the illustrious midfield instrumental in Leeds’ last title success, as they walked to the
centre circle.
Strachan, along with managers Grayson and Kenny Jackett, laid wreaths on either side of the halfway line, and the large lunchtime crowd applauded thunderously at the words: ‘A player who will never be forgotten, Leeds United No 11 Gary Speed.’
It was the first time Batty, who flourished along with Speed under manager Howard Wilkinson, had been back to Elland Road since his retirement as a player.
Mrs Speed took her place in the stand shortly before kick-off along with Speed’s father, Roger, a former Wrexham player.
The crowd chanted Speed’s name incessantly, at one point urging one another to ‘stand for Gary Speed’ — and, of course, everyone did.
Leeds and Millwall fans have seldom been united but the memory of a universally respected player achieved that.
Leeds chief executive Shaun Harvey said: ‘We wanted the family to have the opportunity to see how much Gary Speed meant to everyone here at Leeds United.
‘I think the reception and recognition Gary received spoke volumes for the person he was. Equally, we would like to thank the Millwall fans for their appreciation as well.’
Grayson added: ‘It was fitting Gary got the acknowledgement of everybody connected with this club.
‘He was a fantastic player and person who will be sorely missed and never forgotten.
‘We started here together 28 years ago and our mums and dads were friends. My dad chatted with Gary’s mother and father before the game.
‘I told our No 11, Lloyd Sam, at half-time that he was wearing the same number Gary used to wear and that Gary scored a lot of goals.
‘It would have been fitting if Lloyd had scored, but he made Snodgrass’s second. That was good enough.’

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Yorkshire Evening Post 3/12/11
Grayson targets promotion after emotional win
Leeds manager Simon Grayson today said the biggest tribute the club could pay Gary Speed would be to win promotion this season to the Barclays Premier League.
The Whites clinched their first home league win in five attempts thanks to a brilliant double from Robert Snodgrass in the space of two second-half minutes in a 2-0 win over Millwall.
Snodgrass curled home a 25-yard free-kick just after the hour-mark and then threw himself at Lloyd Sam’s cross two minutes later to head home the second.
It was the second time in as many matches that the memory of Speed, found dead at his home in Cheshire last Sunday, had served to inspire Leeds.
Speed’s father Roger, wife Louise and sons Edward and Thomas were in attendance as Elland Road paid its final tribute to one of the club’s favourite sons.
Grayson, whose side won 4-0 at Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night, said after another emotional day: “This week’s been difficult and it’s obviously dedicated to Gary.
“The biggest tribute we can do is, come April and May, we can get into the Premier League, where Gary spent a huge amount of his career and was very successful.”
Grayson was joined by Speed’s former team-mates from the 1992 Championship-winning side, David Batty, Gary McAllister and Gordon Strachan, before kick-off when he and Millwall counterpart Kenny Jackett laid wreaths in each half of the pitch.
Grayson, who signed for the club as a schoolboy on the same day as Speed, added: “Gary was an Evertonian and his dad realises that, but that’s why they’re all here today because this is where it all started 28 years ago.
“We signed on here with his mum and dad and my mum and dad and my dad met Roger this morning, which was very nice.
“That’s what it’s all about. Our club is very passionate about players who have done well for the club and the recognition was there for everyone to see and everyone can be really proud of what they’ve done this week.”
Leeds lost skipper Jonny Howson (knee) and midfield partner Michael Brown (ankle) to injury in the first half and the latter’s replacement Lloyd Sam helped turn the game in Leeds’ favour after a forgettable first half.
Sam, wearing the same number 11 on his jersey as Speed in his playing days at Leeds, provided numerous telling crosses from the right, one of them leading directly to Snodgrass’s second goal.
Grayson said: “I said to him at half-time, ‘Look, don’t you forget who wore that shirt. I want you to be as positive as Gary was’, and he did contribute to the game.
“Lloyd has got the talent to go on and do that. It would have been fitting for him to score, but let’s not be greedy.”
Millwall manager Kenny Jackett accepted his players faced an uphill task to stem the tide of emotion, but he had no complaints about their effort.
Jackett said: “We did well for an hour and were solid defensively and had some chances on the break, but once the free-kick went in it was tough for us.
“The atmosphere at the ground stepped up and it was tough for us to get back in the game. It was a great free-kick, the keeper didn’t move.
“I wouldn’t say I was disappointed, but it was hard for us to come here today and get a positive result.”
BBC 3/12/11
Leeds 2 - 0 Millwall
By Peter Scrivener
Robert Snodgrass scored both Leeds goals against Millwall as Elland Road paid a moving tribute to former player Gary Speed, who died last Sunday.
Speed played in United's title-winning side in 1992 and team-mates Gary McAllister, Gordon Strachan and David Batty laid a wreath before kick-off.
Snodgrass curled in a 25-yard free-kick and headed in a Lloyd Sam cross as United ran out comfortable winners.
Darius Henderson came closest for the Lions, but his header was well saved.
A video montage of Speed's goals preceded the game and Leeds fans chanted his name for 11 minutes, from the 11th minute, in recognition of his shirt number as they had done during their midweek 4-0 win at Nottingham Forest.
Gary Speed was an absolute first-class person and an absolute privilege to work with. He was someone dedicated to making the best of what he had. I tried to sign him when I came to Leeds United, but Bolton nicked him.
Former Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra
On the pitch though, Leeds' inconsistent start to the season looked set to continue as they struggled to break down the visitors in the opening half.
Their best chance was fashioned by Snodgrass, whose clipped cross-shot looped over visiting goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall but was easily headed off the line.
And United had their keeper Alex McCarthy to thank for keeping the scores level at half-time when he dived to his right to push Henderson's downward header round his post.
Millwall started the second half brightly, with Scott Barron's driven 20-yard free-kick testing McCarthy.
However, Leeds, who lost midfielders Jonny Howson and Michael Brown to leg injuries before the break, took hold of the game with substitutes Sam and Andy Keogh looking lively going forward.
Keogh headed an effort straight at Mildenhall, while Sam volleyed a difficult chance into the crowd and Snodgrass drilled a 25-yard effort a couple of feet wide.
Winger Snodgrass finally broke the deadlock just after the hour mark, curling a free-kick beyond Mildenhall's outstretched left hand.
Three minutes later he doubled the lead as Leeds ended a run of five league games without a home win.
Snodgrass timed his run into the box to perfection to nod Sam's right-wing cross into the net - in a manner that former Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell, who was commenting on the game for BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, thought was reminiscent of Speed in his Elland Road prime.
Telegraph 29/11/11
Leeds United inspired by memory of Gary Speed to overcome Nottingham Forest
Leeds United won, Gary Speed 11. These were the salient facts as the City Ground, and Leeds fans in particular, paid a fitting tribute to the Wales manager whose death at the weekend has provoked such grief and mourning in the game.
By David McVay, at the City Ground
Despite playing for Newcastle, Bolton and Everton at the highest level, Leeds was Speed’s first club and spiritual home. Leeds supporters may have their detractors but they honoured one of their own in the East Midlands with passion and good grace as their side obliged by romping to a conclusive victory over a wretched Nottingham Forest.
Yet, if it was a night of high emotion for those on the terraces, there were similar feelings in the Leeds dressing room where manager Simon Grayson dedicated this win to his former team mate.
“I was proud of my players and the supporters,” said Grayson, who signed as a schoolboy for the west Yorkshire club on the same day as Speed.
“We chatted about Gary and what he meant to Leeds before the kick off and Glynn Snodin [Grayson’s assistant] talked to the players. I don’t know what he said because I couldn’t have held it together talking to the players. But they produced the sort of performance right out of the top locker that would have delighted Gary Speed. Gary was a fantastic person and a fantastic football player.”
A minute’s applause before kick-off, which was respected by the entire crowd, was a poignant prelude to events, the same 60 seconds of relentless clapping that resonated around the country as every club playing last night observed a similar ritual.
As promised, the travelling supporters, almost 4,000 of them, began to chant the name of Gary Speed in the 11th minute of the game, a reminder of the number shirt he sported at Elland Road in a Leeds team that was the last to win the old Division One title, in 1992.
Outside the ground, one of the Leeds fans counted himself as having briefly known a young Speed, echoing the thoughts of many that he was simply ‘a lovely lad’.
“We used to go to college one afternoon a week when he was a young trainee at Leeds,” said Martin Pattinson, a former Bradford City professional and Leeds fan who now lives in Rochdale. “He is and always will be a Leeds legend to me and all our fans.”
The initial chanting was intended to be an uninterrupted 11 minutes but football intervened when Robert Snodgrass deservedly opened the scoring with a left-foot belter in the 20th minute. The vocal tribute resumed seamlessly and ended with a rousing ‘There’s only Speedo’.
Jonathan Howson atoned for earlier profligacy with an explosive volley that doubled the Leeds cushion and the Speed chants returned sporadically after the interval as Luciano Becchio headed Leeds’ third. Adam Clayton pounced on a Lee Camp fumble for a routine fourth.
Forest were a spent force long before Andy Reid was sent off. Wearing the No  11 shirt, the irony would not have been lost on Speed, a consummate professional throughout his career imbued with impeccable manners and discipline on and off the pitch.
“Can we play you every week?” they taunted from the packed Bridgford End layered with tiers of white scarves, reflecting a hostility between these two teams inspired over the decades by diverse forces from Brian Clough to the miners’ strike.
Doubtless, the city of Leeds and its sporting fans will pay more tributes when another bitter old foe, Millwall, visit this Saturday lunchtime.
For now, Leeds and their fans were in fine form and on their best behaviour. Gary Speed would have been pleased.

Yorkshire Evening Post 29/11/11
Match report: Nottingham Forest v Leeds United
Leeds United kicked off what promises to be a long goodbye to Gary Speed with an emotional and impressive win at Nottingham Forest.
Whites legend Speed was found dead at his home on Sunday aged 42 and Leeds, with whom he won the old First Division title in 1992, were the first of his five former clubs to play since the tragic news broke.
Manager Simon Grayson, who forged a lifelong friendship with Speed after they signed schoolboy forms with Leeds on the same day when they were 14, asked his players to win the game in Speed’s memory.
And they duly produced their best performance of the season to do so, with first-half goals from Robert Snodgrass and Jonny Howson and second-half strikes from Luciano Becchio and Adam Clayton doing the damage.
Leeds’ dominant on-field display was almost a backdrop to a celebration of Speed’s life off it, though.
Prior to kick-off the two sets of fans shelved historic animosities dating back to the feuds of Brian Clough and Don Revie to join together in a minute’s applause, while the travelling support chanted Speed’s name for 11 minutes during the first half.
Speed predominantly wore that shirt number throughout his 312 appearances for Leeds and it was during that vocal tribute that they opened the scoring.
They had started the better of the sides with Snodgrass twice going close, before Becchio’s flick played in Howson and he drew a save from Lee Camp. Michael Brown, making a first start since September 10, then worked the keeper somewhat harder from 30 yards.
The pressure soon told and in the 20th minute, Leeds took the lead. Snodgrass picked up possession midway through the Forest half and, after a handful of paces, he beat Camp with a crisp left-footed drive from 20 yards. The goal was celebrated no more vehemently than by Grayson who was close to breaking down on the sidelines.
Forest had no answer to Leeds’ pressure and Becchio soon broke through looking to make it two but Joel Lynch made a last-ditch saving tackle, before Lynch’s defensive partner Wes Morgan made an even more impressive block.
Seven minutes before the break Snodgrass got clear and, although Camp left his goal to meet him, Snodgrass won the tackle between the two. He then tried to find the vacant goal but Morgan managed to get back and deflect his 25-yard effort over.
A jinking run from Snodgrass then laid on a simple chance that Howson should have finished, although it mattered little as the two combined to greater effect just seconds later.
Becchio’s touch found Snodgrass, whose cushioned pass set Howson free down the right. He was still 25 yards from goal but hit a first-time half-volley that gave Camp no chance and found the top corner for his first goal since his effort during a 4-1 win over Forest in April.
Forest introduced the powerful Ishmael Miller at half-time in a bid to start a rescue mission, but their task got all the harder in the 49th minute when Becchio rose to head in a Brown cross for his second of the season.
Miller’s arrival did give his side a new outlet, though, and his header, although comfortably held by Alex McCarthy just before the hour, marked his side’s first real chance.
However it was only a momentary spark for Forest and with 24 minutes left Leeds made it four. Howson robbed Greg Cunningham of possession just outside the area and, although his shot was parried by Camp, Clayton was on hand to despatch the rebound.
Forest midfielder Andy Reid saw red for a second yellow card with 11 minutes to go to cap an awful night for his side.
BBC 29/11/11
Nott'm Forest 0 - 4 Leeds
Leeds paid the best possible tribute to former number 11 Gary Speed with an emphatic win over Nottingham Forest on an emotional night at the City Ground.
Applause before the match for Speed, who died at the weekend, was followed by 11 minutes of chants from the 11th minute by Leeds fans.
Robert Snodgrass put the visitors ahead and Jonny Howson smashed a second.
Luciano Becchio's header and Adam Clayton's finish sealed the win before Andy Reid was sent off for Forest.
Leeds manager Simon Grayson, who forged a friendship with Speed after they signed schoolboy forms with Leeds on the same day when they were 14, had asked his players to win the game in Speed's memory and they did not disappoint.
They bossed the game from start to finish, to the backdrop of constant chants from the away support about their former midfielder.
It was apt that Leeds's first goal came almost exactly at the end of the United fans' 11 minutes of concentrated chants for Speed, with Snodgrass picking up the ball midway into the Forest half before unleashing a crisp strike that beat home keeper Lee Camp.
The goal was reward for an opening the visitors had dominated and they continued to do so after with Becchio seeing two efforts blocked by defenders and Snodgrass denied a second goal by a last-ditch intervention from Wes Morgan.
However, Leeds did make it 2-0 late in the half when Snodgrass set up Howson to crash home a superb 25-yard half-volley into the top corner of Camp's net.
Forest had barely registered a chance in the first half and brought on Ishmael Miller after the break in a bid to remedy this, but they were left reeling again four minutes into the second half when Becchio headed home Michael Brown's cross.
Miller did get in on the action on the hour but his header was comfortably saved by Leeds keeper Alex McCarthy.
This was only a momentary spark for Forest, though, and Leeds were amongst the goals again soon after when Clayton was on hand to finish from close range after Camp had saved Howson's initial effort.
And Forest's awful night was compounded late on when Reid's game was cut short when he received a second yellow card for a foul on Aidan White.
Leeds United manager Simon Grayson: "It's been a difficult couple of days for myself and Gary's family, supporters of Leeds United and supporters in general."
"Gary Speed was a fantastic person and I wanted my players to go out and produce a performance for him tonight.
"That was right out of the top locker of our performances tonight. It was very poignant that the first goal [from Snodgrass] came right as the 11 minutes of singing ended and was a left-footed shot.
"Gary Speed scored many goals like that. It's been difficult, but I'm a very proud manager tonight. I'm delighted to have got a result for Gary Speed."
Yorkshire Evening Post 28/11/11
Honest Grayson holds hands up
Simon Grayson held his hands up to an unimpressive performance after Leeds United’s Yorkshire derby with Barnsley ended in a 2-1 defeat.
Grayson blamed a lack of spark and invention for United’s failure to record a third straight Championship victory at Elland Road on Saturday.
The United manager said his side had missed an opportunity to consolidate valuable away wins over Leicester City and Burnley and admitted Barnsley deserved three points from a low-key contest.
Leeds were forced to fight a two-goal deficit after Ricardo Vaz Te and Craig Davies scored in the first half, and Grayson’s players fell short despite Ross McCormack pulling them back into the game with an impressive free-kick on 54 minutes.
Grayson had attempted to heighten his team’s attacking threat by recalling Luciano Becchio for his first league start of the season but United mustered only six attempts on Barnsley’s goal and did not look like claiming an equaliser until injury-time when Ramon Nunez saw a close-range shot brilliantly parried by goalkeeper Luke Steele.
Grayson said: “It’s frustrating. When you look at the results we’ve had from two away games, you’d like to think you can build on them. But we didn’t play well enough.
“We started okay without making any reall opportunities and after that we slowed the play down too much. We didn’t play any one-touch football. It allowed Barnsley to get players behind the ball and we started forcing the issue and giving the ball away.
“Barnsley have got good enough players to hit you on the counter-attack and that was the problem – we were forcing the issue and not moving the ball quickly enough, That’s unusual for us. Movement is usually one of our strengths.
“Right throughout the game, and even after we scored our goal, we still didn’t work their goalkeeper or their back four enough. In terms of looking a threat, they were more of a threat than us and they worked our keeper more than we worked theirs. We had a lot of possession and that wasn’t a problem but we were too slow in our play.”
Vaz Te opened the scoring in the 28th minute with a finish which bounced into the ground and looped over keeper Alex McCarthy, and Leeds were punished again just before half-time when McCarthy parried a shot from Jacob Butterfield and watched Davies convert the rebound.
McCarthy was brought to Leeds on loan from Reading in the aftermath of Paul Rachubka’s personal humiliation in a 5-0 loss to Blackpool earlier this month, and Grayson said: “I’m not going to criticise Alex. He’s a good keeper and he’s done very well for us.
“With the first goal, Lloyd Sam slips and lets their lad in. The ball’s bobbled into the ground and gone over Alex. With the second, the ball’s swirling in the wind and it’s difficult for Alex to palm it away. We didn’t react well enough.
“These are goals we could have stopped and that does frustrate me but the overall performance was disappointing. We can play a lot better than that.”
McCormack’s goal was his 11th of the season but his first in eight games, beautifully converted from a position five yards outside Barnsley’s box. The striker had spoken before the game about a feeling of concern over his lengthy run without a goal, saying “you think about it every day and after every game when you don’t score.”
Grayson said: “It was a great free-kick and it’s what he needed. He needed a goal for his confidence.
“We said at half-time that if we got the next goal then we could get something out of the game but I still think that overall we could have been better in the final third. You can’t fault the players for having a go. We just didn’t have that spark or someone to get us out of trouble when we needed it.”
Becchio has so often been a source of telling goals for Leeds, scoring 20 last season, but he was peripheral for over an hour and was substituted by Grayson in the 68th minute.
The forward’s season has been affected by the hamstring operation he underwent in July, and Grayson said: “I don’t think he’s 100 per cent match-fit yet because he has not played enough football.
“Physically he’s very good and he trains every day but he needs a run of games.
“He did okay and we know he’s going to get better with games but that’ll obviously be dictated by me playing him.”
Telegraph 27/11/11
Gary Speed found dead: Wales manager was a fine footballer, good manager and a wonderful man
A light has gone out in football and the sport suddenly seems a far darker place. A fine footballer, good manager and wonderful man, Gary Speed has gone, leaving behind a grieving family, a sport in mourning and countless friends shivering with a feeling of utter desolation.
By Henry Winter
Speed gave so much to the game and he had so much more to give. It’s such a waste, such a tragedy. When news broke of his death on Sunday, a wave of despair swept through the sport he served so well. Speed was so well-liked. He played the game the right way: with commitment, with honesty and with a sense of adventure.
Those seeking Speed’s legacy need only look around.
It’s there in the photographs on the walls of Elland Road, pictures that capture for eternity the image of him and his Leeds United celebrating the 1992 title. For Leeds United fans, and all who love attractive football, memories will never fade of that well-balanced midfield quartet of Gordon Strachan, Gary McAllister, David Batty and Speed. Only 22 at the time, Speed played with a maturity beyond his callow years. His intelligence shone through.
His legacy can be seen in the sight of Aaron Ramsey and a vibrant young Wales side winning four of their last five games, a tribute to the organisation and spirit instilled in them by their manager. Far more personally, Speed’s legacy remains in the sporting potential of two young sons, whose depth of loss cannot even begin to be imagined.
Speed achieved so much in his 42 years. One of the many tragic strands to this numbing story is that he had so much more to offer. After the Football Association of Wales released that sorrowful statement, I received a call from one of his horse racing associates.
I mentioned that Speed “loved racing”, to which his friend replied: “Gary loved everything." And he did. He loved his family, his profession and his many, many friends.
He spent part of Saturday morning organising events for this week, a round of golf with a friend here, a meal with an old team-mate there.
Professionally, life was good. Under his guidance, Wales were on the rise, even peaking at 45 in the Fifa world rankings after a low point of 117. Speed was enjoying deserved plaudits.
As a man, Speed had many qualities. Even after long reflection, it is hard to think of many more popular individuals in his chosen industry. He was just a nice guy in a sport that can turn people cynical.
Incredibly generous with his time, Speed would engage any fan wanting an autograph or photograph. He would always look people in the eye, always treat them well. There was none of that superstar dashing to the supercar arrogance. A mixture of politeness and banter spilt from his lips. Any time in his company was uplifting.
Whenever football is being decried by assorted critics, defenders of the faith could always point to Speed, a footballer who never left the fray without his shirt soaked in sweat, who trained as he played, who deservedly was appointed MBE for services to football in 2010.
Using that dexterous left foot, Speed manipulated the ball, whether still or moving, over short range and long. He earned respect for his industry, his willingness to play a range of roles and for his remarkable consistency. His dedication to his craft was seen in his holding the record for most Premier League appearances until overtaken by David James. He never let a club down. Speed was first into training, first to help with community projects and first to the ball.
He took responsibility, a trait ensuring frequent association with the captain’s armband. From Leeds to Everton, Newcastle to Bolton and Sheffield United, his clubs all shook with pain and disbelief as the dreadful news emerged.
The great esteem in which Speed was held was seen in the reaction of his former team-mates. John Hartson could not face broadcasting at the Liberty Stadium and returned home, the big man inconsolable. Tears slid down the face of Shay Given as he prepared to keep goal for Aston Villa against Swansea. Up at Anfield, one of his closest friends, Craig Bellamy, could not bear the idea of focusing on a mere sport at a time like this. “He taught me so much," tweeted Newcastle’s Shola Ameobi, “not just on the field but off the pitch as well." Nobody could believe “Speedo”, their friend, their mentor, was gone.
He’d seemed indestructible. Just as his name was always on the team-sheet, week in, week out, season in, season out, so Speed seemed part of the football landscape for years to come. Photogenic, eloquent and full of thought, Speed could have gone into the television studio but management always appealed to him.
During his days at Bolton, his passion for a future in management was inescapable when I encountered him at the training ground. He talked of the great managers he had worked under, legends of the game like Sir Bobby Robson, and how they had inspired him. During their time at Newcastle, Speed lived close to Robson and the midfielder often acted as chauffeur to the manager, and would spend the journey to the training ground listening to the oracle, absorbing knowledge.
Interviewing Robson one day, I noticed a smiling Speed in the background, waiting patiently. I mentioned it to Speed a month or so later, apologising for delaying his passenger, pointing out in mitigation that once Robson was in full flow, particularly when reminiscing about Italia 90, nothing could stop him. Speed laughed, rolling his eyes at the image of the beloved Bobby chatting away.
Speed was very much the team man, the ultimate in selflessness, even running the London Marathon for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. He also admitted being happy to bide his time, knowing how many tips on the managerial art would come his way on the drive home.
Those craving an insight into the characteristics that made Speed a manager of increasing substance need look no further than Ramsey.
Strong questions were asked of Speed when he appointed Ramsey as captain of Wales. Too inexperienced, said the critics. Too inhibited, they added. Too scarred psychologically after that Ryan Shawcross tackle.
Speed confided later that he found the extensive criticism of his decision difficult. Yet he was vindicated. Ramsey has grown into the role, grasping the responsibility with increasing alacrity, assisted by Speed’s able man-management.
Having noted how Ramsey froze alongside the warrior-like John Terry in the tunnel at the Millennium Stadium before last season’s Wales-England match, Speed worked on Ramsey, telling him that he was good enough for this level. Because the words came from Speed, such a likeable individual with so much experience, Ramsey listened, learned and grew. Speed leaves so much good behind — and so much anguish that a special person has gone.

Guardian 27/11/11
Howard Wilkinson on Gary Speed: 'He leaves a huge, huge void'
Gary Speed was honourable and trustworthy. Above all he was a lovely person. For him to leave us at 42 is such a tragic loss
Howard Wilkinson
Gary Speed was honourable, trustworthy and a joy to manage. He was honest, he was a role model and he was a great bloke. An avid learner, he recognised responsibility and he was always fully committed. Above all, he was a lovely person. Out of all the players I've have had under my wing, he remained a real favourite.
The players I worked with represented all colours of the rainbow in terms of character but, as the ultimate professional, Gary was a star in the true sense. For him to leave us at 42 is such a tragic loss. As a manager he had a life of success to look forward to, I'm sure. He had started so promisingly in charge of Wales, I imagined his managerial career would follow a steadily upward curve.
His horrendous passing represents an unbelievable loss to his family and the football world. He leaves a huge, huge void and I can't begin to try to think what his parents, his lovely wife, Louise, and his boys are going through at this time. I'm finding this very, very difficult to come to terms with. It's unbelievable. I'm still struggling to get my head round it.
I knew his parents, his dad in particular, very well because when I became manager of Leeds United Gary was one of what was then known as the "groundstaff boys" (young players who would be later labelled apprentices).
My first meeting with Gary was in 1988 when I joined Leeds and I quickly realised he had a lovely personality. My first memory of him as a footballer relates to shortly after that when I watched him play left-back in a youth game.
After working with him in training a few times I was soon telling him he could play in a few other roles, most notably wide left and left midfield. I think by the end at Leeds, I'd played him in nine or 10 outfield positions but, unlike some players, Gary never complained, never, ever, showed any dissent. He just got on with things and, whatever job he was asked to do, invariably did it very well.
He was a terrific footballer, not as naturally gifted as some, but he worked so hard, listened to advice and made the very most of everything he had. As a man, I've rarely come across a better, more balanced or more genuine person. He had a lovely family and, as the years passed, I was pleased to be able to get to know his wife and his two sons, Tommy and Ed, one of whom is a gifted footballer and the other a talented boxer. Playing in our title winning midfield at Leeds, Gary became particularly close to Gary McAllister and Gordon Strachan. They were his big, big mates and mentors and they stayed close friends until the end.
I'm proud that Gary attributed the extraordinary longevity of his playing career to things he learnt from being with us at Leeds. He felt the knowledge he acquired about fitness, diet and hydration during those early years at Elland Road helped him keep going for so long at Bolton before he finally decided to become a coach.
Unlike some well known players, Gary really believed in coach education and attended every course he could. When he took over as manager of Sheffield United he used the skills he'd learnt to help bring young players through to the first team and, later, he showed real commitment to the development of coaching in Wales.
In many ways his approach to coaching and management was exactly the same as his approach to playing: he was absolutely dedicated and always eager to learn as much as possible. You could see how well he was starting to apply that knowledge in his job with Wales.
Gary's death is a mystery – Gary McAllister says that, on Saturday, he seemed his normal, bright self – but these men are not born footballers. Like everyone else, they had a talent and football became their job but basically they are born human and subject to all the stress and strains and the good things that happen to people in life. My thoughts are with his family.
Howard Wilkinson managed Gary Speed at Leeds United from 1988 to '96, where they won the last of the old First Division titles in 1992. Wilkinson has managed a number of other teams, including England on a caretaker basis and Sunderland, and recently stepped down as a non executive director at Sheffield Wednesday

Sabotage Times 27/11/11
Leeds United’s Gary Speed: An Inspiration
By James Brown
One minute you’re running round a park training with 20 young footballers and the next you have to pull over to cry your eyes out...
One minute you’re running round a park training with 20 young footballers and the next you get back to your car and find texts and calls coming into your phone telling you a Leeds United player you know and admire is dead. You drop the boys off home and then sit by the side of the road crying your eyes out. If ever there was a player you could point to as a role model it was Gary Speed. Maybe one of those kids I train, or the boys they play against, or any other kid running over muddy parks all over the country this morning will become as great a footballer and sportsman as Gary Speed. That’s what you hope for, but they’ll have to go some way to achieve that.
Right now twitter, sky sports and 5Live are over-run with the outpouring of grief for this admirable man. Many are assuming, in the vacuum of details and in the light of Stan Collymore’s open portrayal of his depression, that Speedo was depressed. But as far as I know that’s just speculation, whatever has lead Gary to take his life is probably more personal than illness.
Last night I was stood in the Leeds United manager’s office at Elland Road with Simon Grayson and my two closest Leeds United supporting friends. One of them is Gary’s friend and agent. All four of us have known Gary Speed to differing degrees. None of us could have predicted that 12 hours later Gary would be found dead at home by his wife, Louise. The manager’s area, reception, and players lounge at Elland Road are covered with pictures of the great players who made their names under Don Revie, Howard Wilkinson and David O’Leary. It wasn’t always that way, when Howard Wilkinson, arrived at the club at the end of the 1980s he insisted they take down the images of the Revie legends who were proving too great a team for subsequent groups of players to measure themselves against.
It was Wilkinson’s aim to create a new generation of players who would create a name for themselves. Gary Speed was a vital, vibrant part of the success Wilkinson steered the club to. Of all the pictures of the great Jack Charlton, free-kick expert Ian Harte, midfield dynamo David Batty, and the images of the British Forces soldiers in their Leeds kits the one I looked at longest yesterday was the group image of Howard Wilkinson’s squad celebrating their winning the old League Division One championship.
If Batty was the tenacity in that great midfield, Speed was the pace and the cutting edge, McAllister was the passer, Strachan pulled the strings, but it was Speedo streaking forward with the ball that was the youthful threat the team needed. With Batts, Speedo represented the present and also the future. His recent success after a wobbly start as the Welsh national football manager has given similar hope and optimism to a nation for whom footballing success has been sparse. He was instrumental in helping Leeds United recapture glory and there’s few who could argue that he hadn’t started something significant with his young Welsh team.
If Batty was the tenacity in that great midfield, Speed was the pace and the cutting edge
Back in the early 90s at Elland Road some fans would mock Speedo for growing his hair long, he could have come out in a pink afro for all I cared, so long as he made up the fourth place in the fantastic midfield line-up and carried the game to the opposition like he did. His friend Ryan Giggs might have had that added elan to his play that won him the extra-attention but Speed was pretty much the all-round midfielder, as reflected in the quality of clubs he played for and the men like Alex Ferguson and Fabio Capello who coveted him. When I think of Gary on the pitch I think of a player who works and runs constantly, who can score all sorts of goals.
Those who knew Gary Speed very well, his friends and colleagues in and out of football, are as shocked as the rest of us who simply admired him. But it didn’t matter if you played for Wales, Manchester United or were just a fan of football he would have time for you. He was an inspiration. Everyone who ever met him will tell you what a nice guy he was but that’s the word I would use Inspiration.
We are so often taught to respect our elders that it becomes strange when the footballers in the team you support are younger than you and you find yourself admiring them. Go on twitter or turn on the TV and you will see new and old quotes from the greatest British footballing talent of the last 25 years paying tribute. Sky will be telling you about his appearance records, transfer fees and fitness. I will leave them to deliver the stats and quote the tributes.
For me this is more personal. I’ve been where his family are right now. My mum took her own life in February 1992 and when Leeds won the League that year it was the first time I felt happy. Maybe that’s why I’m still sitting here in tears. Speed was part of something that’s bigger than just football results and performances. He contributed to something that made people feel their lives were better because of it. He was a good man who was good to people and you can’t really ask for any more than that. Most suicides leaving you feeling ‘it’s just not right’ but some deaths are sadly inevitable. Gary Speed’s wasn’t, his death is truly shocking and has rocked the world of football and beyond. He will be painfully missed by those that knew him, those that enjoyed what he gave to the world of sport and for those young kids legging it round the parks this morning hopefully his passing will prompt them to take some time to find out about him.
People like Gary are the reason I still play football, still travel hundreds of miles to watch my team, still get up in the rain and go and train ten year olds after 6 hours sleep. They are what is great about football. He played to the best of his ability and with enthusiasm. Gary Speed was a good man I admired. I can’t say any more than that.
RIP Gary Speed

leedsunited.com 27/11/11
THE LOSS OF A TRUE FRIEND
Simon Grayson's shock at Gary Speed passing...
Simon Grayson has expressed his shock at the loss of "a true friend" after learning of the passing of our former player Gary Speed.
Simon signed schoolboy forms with Leeds United on the same day as Gary and the pairing's friendship dates back over 25 years.
"It is an unbelievably sad day," said Simon, who was stunned to see the reports on Sunday morning.
"Speedo was a true friend and a very, very popular man.
"Our sympathies are with Louise, his children, his dad, and all his family.
"We signed on the same day and played in the youth and reserve teams together.
"We also did all our coaching badges together. He was a good friend and this is a very sad day.
"Gary was such a popular person and this is a hard time for everybody."
Yorkshire Evening Post 27/11/11
Wife found body of Leeds United legend Gary Speed

The wife of Leeds United legend Gary Speed found him hanged at their home, an inquest was told today.
The 42-year-old father-of-two was found dead at his Cheshire home on Sunday morning.
Detective Inspector Peter Lawless, of Cheshire Police, told Cheshire coroner Nicholas Rheinberg that Speed’s body was found by his wife Louise just before 7am.
He said there appeared to be no suspicious circumstances and a post mortem examination found Speed’s death was caused by hanging.
Mr Rheinberg said: “I adjourn this inquest until January 30, 2012. The inquest will be heard in Warrington and will commence at 2pm.”
There was a huge media presence at the inquest in Warrington but members of Speed’s family did not attend.
The coroner asked the media to “respect the privacy” of Speed’s family.
Earlier today Welsh Assembly Members observed a minute’s silence in the Senedd, Cardiff Bay, while flags continue to fly at half mast outside the Welsh Assembly buildings Ty Hywel and the Senedd.
Speaking on behalf of the footballer’s widow, Louise, and the family, Speed’s agent and best man at his wedding Hayden Evans said last night they had been “overwhelmed” with messages of support and condolence.
Tributes to the former Leeds United, Everton and Newcastle United midfielder, also poured in from a host of public and sporting figures, led by Prime Minister David Cameron.
Mr Cameron said: “I know he meant an enormous amount to people and people feel very, very sad on his behalf and on his family’s behalf.”
The Football Association of Wales chief executive Jonathan Ford said the organisation had received messages from UEFA and FIFA, with the Welsh flag at FIFA House in Zurich flying at half-mast.
Mr Ford said: “He was such a great person and he is such a loss.”
Tottenham winger Gareth Bale, one of the brightest talents in Speed’s Wales side, said it was a “massive shock”.
“It is a tragedy, everyone still can’t get their head around it and all our condolences go out to his family and his kids. It is a hard time,” Bale told www.tottenhamhotspur.com.
Supporters have left scarves, football shirts and flowers across several football stadiums - including Everton’s Goodison Park, Leeds United’s Elland Road, Newcastle United’s St James’ Park and The Millennium Stadium and Cardiff City Stadium, where Wales played their home games.
The FAW has opened a book of condolences at its offices in Cardiff allowing fans to express their feelings about Speed’s death.