Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Leedsunited.com 31/1/12
Andy O'Brien will resume training this week with Leeds United and will be available for selection.
The club brought disciplinary action against the player following his refusal to play against Burnley on the 19th November 2011. It was announced at that time that the player's future would be determined after a full investigation.
The investigation has led to a fuller understanding of the issues that the player has faced since the start of the season, which has seen him seek specialist medical treatment at the Sporting Chance Clinic for depression. It is felt he is now ready to recommence training and the club will facilitate any further teatment that is required.
The club said: "We were exceptionally disappointed when Andy refused to play before the Burnley game and felt let down. It is now apparent that there were a number of issues that he was dealing with at that time which affected him in a way we could not imagine and he was not in a right state of mind to make such decisions. On this basis we believe he deserves a second chance and we will do everything we can to assist him."
The club would appeal to its fans to support the player on his road back to first team action.
Sky 31/1/12
Grayson delight at Smith deal
Leeds bring in Spurs youngster until the summer
Simon Grayson has expressed his delight that Leeds United have secured the services of Adam Smith on loan for the rest of the season.
The Whites bolstered their backline on transfer deadline day with a right-back who had been helping MK Dons challenge for promotion.
Spurs recalled the 20-year-old from his loan with the League One side on Monday in order to facilitate his switch to Leeds until the summer.
Grayson has admitted tracking the England Under 21 international for some time and feels the youngster has a 'bright' future.
Leeds have already raided White Hart Lane for Andros Townsend this month while Grayson brought in Jake Livermore on loan last season.
"Adam is a player we've been monitoring for a few months now at MK Dons. He has done very, very well and we're delighted we could get his services," he told the club's official website.
"We know how highly thought of he was at MK and on top of the reports we've had, he's had some great recommendations from Stuart Pearce and Harry Redknapp.
"Adam is an England Under 21 international with a bright future and he is a great addition for us."
Meanwhile, young keeper Alex Cairns, who signed a new two-year contract last week, has joined Blue Square Premier club Barrow on a month's loan.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Yorkshire Evening Post 30/1/12
Death of Leeds United legend Gary Speed may have been accident

By Paul Robinson
Leeds United legend Gary Speed may have killed himself accidentally, a coroner ruled today.
In a narrative verdict, Cheshire coroner Nicholas Rheinberg gave the cause of death as hanging but said “the evidence does not sufficiently determine whether this was intentional or accidental”.
The inquest at Warrington Coroner’s Court heard that Speed texted his wife days before his death and “talked in terms of taking his life”.
The couple also “had words” on the night before he was found dead after they had been to a dinner party at a friend’s house.
Speed, who played for Sheffield United, Everton, Newcastle, Leeds and Bolton, was found hanged at his Cheshire home on November 27 last year by his wife Louise.
But Mr Rheinberg said today, in a narrative verdict, that the football manager may have “nodded off” while sitting with a rope around his neck on the stairs in his garage. Mrs Speed told the inquest her husband had talked in terms of taking his life in the text exchange days earlier but that he “dismissed it”, saying that he was “excited” about the future with his wife and two sons.
Mrs Speed said the text referred to their “ups and downs” but went on about “how important the boys were” and about “moving forward”.
“We walked in the house and we had an exchange of words about something and nothing,” Mrs Speed said.
She said she suggested she go for drive but her husband blocked the door and told her she “wasn’t going anywhere”.
“I went upstairs and lay on the bed for probably about five or ten minutes,” she said.
“Then I decided to go for a drive, to clear my mind (and for) space to think.”
Questioned further by Mr Rheinberg, she said she only drove to the “top of the road” before she stopped to ring her husband’s mobile phone.
After getting no reply, she returned to the house and tried, unsuccessfully, to ring him again.
“I decided to keep the car running and stay there until I could get into the house,” she explained.
After getting some sleep in the vehicle she told the hearing she woke up at about 6am and went to the outside bathroom.
She said she noticed some shed keys missing which were usually stored there and went to the shed to see if Gary was there, before moving to the garage.
Blinking away tears she said: “I went to the window and there I saw him.”
She nodded as Mr Rheinberg asked: “Could you see Gary on the stairs?”
He continued: “Was it apparent that Gary was hanging?”
“Yes,” Mrs Speed told him.
She said she then woke the children to open up the house and called the emergency services.
On their advice, she cut her husband to the ground as paramedics were sent to the scene.
The sportsman was hanging from a bannister with a piece of television aerial, the court has heard.
Mrs Speed confirmed there was no note or message left by her husband before his death.
In a statement read out after the inquest, Mr Speed’s family said the day of his death was the “worst day of our lives” but his memory “shines brightly in our thoughts”.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Yorkshire Evening Post 22/1/12
Whites handed points on a plate
By Phil Hay
This manic defeat of Ipswich Town finished with a promise from Simon Grayson not to “paper over the cracks”, which was just as well for him and his club.
At the end of a week when mutiny hung in the air around Elland Road, a moment of honest humility was the least expected of him. Grayson would have been alone in thinking that 20 minutes of comedy football mitigated all that had gone before.
Saturday’s game was bordering on farce, decided by laughable errors from three different goalkeepers and another from a defender whose lunacy exceeded everyone else’s. By full-time, Leeds were banking a 3-1 win and Paul Jewell, the Ipswich manager, looked like a man whose house had been burgled twice in one afternoon.
“We all make mistakes,” Jewell said, “but these mistakes were glaring.” And so they were, on both sides of the fence. United’s victory came in spite of Andy Lonergan shipping a tame shot from Andy Drury and gifting Town a lead which they defended until late in the second half.
But when Jewell’s team imploded, they did so spectacularly. Alex McCarthy, the keeper who served Leeds on loan earlier in the season, spread panic among Ipswich’s players in the 71st minute by handling outside the box and incurring a red card. Three minutes later, Ibrahima Sonko knocked a suicidal backpass to Robert Snodgrass three yards from goal and watched the net ripple.
Not to be outdone, McCarthy’s placement – Arran Lee-Barrett – promptly misjudged a loose pass from Adam Clayton and gave Ross McCormack carte blanche to walk the ball over the line. The reaction of the crowd, while not embarrassed, was best described as dignified, and Luciano Becchio’s injury-time strike gave Leeds the distinction of winning the game without fashioning a single, self-produced chance.
All in all, it left Grayson with no choice but to tell it like it was. United’s out-going captain, Jonathan Howson, left last week with obvious doubts about Leeds’ ability to rise above the Championship, and little on show against Ipswich suggested he was wrong: not Fabian Delph or any of the players who are struggling on gamely.
Like Howson, the supporters who watched this win – the latest in a line of scrambled results and tactical failures – made it clear that large numbers of them are running out of patience. That much was evident in the hours after news of Howson’s move to Norwich became public knowledge, and Saturday’s match was almost a fitting conclusion to a bad week.
Their anger is not simply about Howson or the fact that he of all people has been sold. It is an issue of ambition and vision, both of which United’s support believe their club lack. That point was made by protests against chairman Ken Bates outside Elland Road before kick-off and again during the game itself. But nothing spoke more loudly than the laboured effort to prise three lucky points from a ludicrous Championship match.
The protesters who gathered around the Bremner Statue numbered several hundred but Bates was not there to see them, absent on holiday in South Africa. His programme column did his fighting for him, quoting United’s “player budget” at £11.2m or “23 per cent over budget” in the days after the club chose to cash in on Howson. The figure alone satisfied few of the questions thrown at the club in the previous 72 hours.
On the subject of where and how Leeds’ annual income is being spent, Delph gave an answer of sorts. Signed on a month’s loan from Aston Villa, the one-time United academy player started against Ipswich with expectation on his shoulders, and the pressure to weave his magic told. It remains to be seen whether this is, as Grayson’s hopes, is a deal to lift the mood of a club where morale is shot to bits.
It has been that way in Ipswich throughout this season and Jewell arrived at Elland Road looking every bit as embattled as Grayson. The mutual lack of assurance shared by both teams infected the first half, though not without offering up the occasional chance.
Town’s first two came in the space of a minute, with Tom Lees dispossessing Lee Martin as the midfielder ran onto a quick free-kick from Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Zac Thompson appearing in the right place to clear Daryl Murphy’s header off the goalline.
At times Leeds were able to make their visitors feel as anxious, and Aaron Cresswell came close to heading into his own net when McCormack dinked the ball across the face of McCarthy’s goal. McCormack might also have scored himself but for Tommy Smith turning a Snodgrass pass behind.
It was tentative and fraught, as Elland Road so often is these days.
The game finally opened up after half-an-hour when Jason Scotland did what Ipswich had been threatening to do and slipped Martin in behind United’s defence. Lonergan, Grayson’s chosen captain, rushed out to meet the midfielder’s shot with a fine piece of goalkeeping and Emmanuel-Thomas smashed the rebound over an open goal.
However, Lonergan contrived to hand Ipswich the opening goal with a bad misjudgement four minutes later. Drury exchanged a short corner with Martin and produced a 20-yard shot which lacked the power to trouble United’s keeper. Unsighted or distracted, Lonergan allowed it to trundle by him and slink into the net.
That was that for the first half until Emmanuel-Thomas clipped the crossbar in injury-time with an audacious shot from well outside Lonergan’s box. Delph trode water in a deep midfield position and Mikael Forssell drifted around like a striker with as few games behind him as he has. McCarthy’s return to Elland Road, where he spent November and December on loan, was a stroll until his red card. Lonergan, on the other hand, was constantly in danger and his quick reaction at the start of the second half dug Darren O’Dea out of a hole after the centre-back allowed a bouncing ball to drop into the path of Scotland.
Not until the hour did Leeds reach the level of urgency sought by 22,000 people around them. Snodgrass was first to produce anything like a sniff of a goal when he dived to head Danny Pugh’s cross behind and McCarthy escaped with his clean sheet intact after dropping a routine cross to substitute Aidan White. Carlos Edwards stifled the danger with a timely tackle.
At the other end, Murphy swept a volley narrowly over and a Sonko shot deflected wide with holes gaping in Grayson’s defence. But Ipswich’s poise was lost when a random through-ball forced Sonko to nod a header back towards McCarthy who caught the ball outside his box. The keeper accepted his fate and was already walking towards the tunnel when referee Geoff Eltringham pulled out the red card.
Jewell looked for his players to steady themselves but instead they buckled. When White burst clear during United’s next attack and teed up McCormack for a deflected shot, Sonko inexplicably played the ball directly to Snodgrass inside the six-yard area. Lee-Barrett could not stop the winger sliding it into the net.
Yet again it seemed that United’s luck was in after two previous flirts with defeat against Crystal Palace and Burnley, and so it was. In the 82nd minute, Lee-Barrett’s rustiness caught up with him as he dithered over a poor pass from Clayton and allowed McCormack to force the ball through him.
Becchio finished the game off in injury-time with a cute finish under Lee-Barrett, ending the worst of all goalkeeping cameos.
Unbelievable it might have been but the turn of events fooled no-one, least of all the crowd who made their view of Bates clear. He should not be tricked into thinking the wounds of last week have been healed.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Yorkshire Evening Post 21/1/12
Sending off changed the game - Grayson
Manager Simon Grayson admitted the sending off of Ipswich Town goalkeeper Alex McCarthy on his return to Elland Road changed the game as Leeds United came from a goal behind to win 3-1.
The Tractor Boys led through Andy Drury’s soft 34th-minute goal but McCarthy, who played six games on loan for the Whitesfrom Reading earlier in the season, was shown the red card in the 71st minute when he raced outside his area and handled Ibrahima Sonko’s headed back-pass.
Arran Lee-Barrett took over in goal, and three minutes after leaving the bench he was beaten by Robert Snodgrass after Ross McCormack’s shot was played into the Scot’s path by Sonko.
McCormack then took advantage when Lee-Barrett was slow to come for Adam Clayton’s through-ball, rounding the substitute keeper and walking the ball into the net, with substitute Luciano Becchio adding Leeds’ third in stoppage time when he slotted home from a narrow angle after latching onto a long ball.
Grayson said: “We were poor in the first half - there is no getting away from that.
“We went behind to a soft goal but the sending-off changed the game. You could sense the anxiety of our players until our first goal went in.
“They were a different animal after that and showed their character.
“Players are not robots. They make mistakes at times, as we saw today. We managers are all under pressure at times because it is a ruthless industry but you keep faith in your ability.”
Ipswich had the better of a tame first half but it was Leeds keeper Andy Lonergan’s 34th-minute blunder that gifted Jewell’s men the lead. Drury took a short corner to Lee Martin on the left and, after accepting a return pass, tried a speculative angled shot which somehow passed through Lonergan’s hands into the net.
The blustery conditions did nothing to enhance the game’s quality for a largely subdued crowd whose silence was regularly broken by calls for chairman Ken Bates’ departure.
Grayson made a double substitution on the hour, Aidan White and Becchio replacing Andros Townsend and Mikael Forssell, but with Fabian Delph playing a deep midfield role on his return to the club from Aston Villa, goalscoring opportunities were few and far between until McCarthy’s dismissal.
McCarthy earned a rebuke from manager Paul Jewell.
Jewell said: “It was poor decision-making between McCarthy and Sonko that led to the sending-off and Leeds didn’t have to work hard for their goals.
“It was just a catalogue of errors. We controlled the game until our keeper was sent off. Everyone makes mistakes but the mistakes we made today were glaring errors you don’t expect to see at Championship level.
“We restricted Leeds to very few chances.”

The Scratching Shed 21/1/12
Comedy football and dissident uprising
Either Leeds United recently employed a Leprechaun to administer huge doses of luck when all hope seems lost or I’m at a total loss to explain today’s events.
For the first hour or so, Leeds United were second best. Behind thanks to an Andy Lonergan blunder and incapable of stringing half a dozen passes together, there was no creativity, no inspirational leading figure and absolutely no chance we were going to take anything from this game. In short, there was no belief – not from the players and certainly not from the fans.
It was painful to watch. As news spread that Robert Snodgrass has ended contract talks with the club, citing a lack of ambition and broken promises as his reasoning, the cries of the dissidents were understandable. What we were witnessing was the death of a football club.
The seven year long asset-stripping, under-financed reign of Ken Bates had clearly taken it’s toll. The fans had lost faith and the players had too. As easy as it is to point to Simon Grayson’s tactics and failure to motivate when your team is struggling, there is little anyone can do in this situation. All the tactical wizardry in the world won’t change the fact our players have lost all faith in the club itself.
Ken Bates had his say of course, pointing to a £2m overspend on the club’s £9m “transfer budget”. The only problem with Ken Bates’ definition of a transfer budget is that it’s actually our wage budget, but we’ll cover that wonderfully crafted piece of misdirection in a separate post (now published here).
Anyway, as one man’s yawn contagiously spread around The Kop, the epically proportioned bit of luck Leeds United required started with Alex McCarthy who was sent off for handling outside the box. This seemed an incredibly basic error for such a hugely talented goalkeeper to make, leaving some fans to question which side he was playing for – had he taken pity on us?
That was followed by Ipswich Town’s centre-back passing the ball to Robert Snodgrass who must have felt embarrassed by the charitable equaliser he was allowed to slot home. 1-1.
Soon after that, Ross McCormack put Leeds ahead as Ipswich Town’s replacement goalkeeper got caught in two minds making it far too easy for Leeds’ top goalscorer to add a second. Paul Jewell’s defence had crumbled and his team were masters of their own downfall. 2-1
That just left Luciano Becchio to round things off and bring an end to the most bizarre twenty five minutes of football you’re ever likely to see. Even Paul Rachubka’s meltdown paled by comparison as this had spread throughout Ipswich’s entire team almost instantaneously.
In summing up this match, words fail me. The only way I can describe it is that this could be the only time in the history of professional football where a team has won 3-1 and their highest player rating was 4/10 – and even then I think I may have been generous.
Finally, the comedy on display almost overshadowed the dissident protests. Large numbers of fans gathered before the match to call for an end to Ken Bates’ reign and there was no real let up inside Elland Road either. The chants were a common theme, banners found their way in and stewards ejected some fans as tensions rose.
Despite the result this was a dark, but nonetheless necessary day for Leeds United. Seven years since Ken Bates “saved us” (from administration I presume…? oh wait…) our homegrown club captain has been sold and Robert Snodgrass is looking set to follow. At the start of this season our optimism was based on the midfield trio of Max Gradel, Jonny Howson and Robert Snodgrass.
Two down, one to go…
New pages uploaded at mightyleeds.co.uk


16 May 1973 – Leeds United 0 AC Milan 1

"It was wholly, indisputably and wretchedly bent..." Leeds United suffer the torment of being denied another trophy after the sort of dubious refereeing decisions they would never forget

Read the full story at

9 May 1973 – Leeds United 6 Arsenal 1

After a disappointing League campaign where they had never fully convinced anyone of their title credentials and a debacle against Sunderland at Wembley, United come good in a breathtaking finish to their League campaign

Read the full story at

7 May 1973 – Leeds United 3 Celtic 4

A big night for a big man! Jack Charlton says farewell to his playing careers and a twenty year-plus association with Elland Road with a star studded celebration against Celtic

Read the full story at

5 May 1973 – Leeds United 0 Sunderland 1

One of the lowest points in the club's history came in early May 1973, as they sought to defend the FA Cup. They were the hottest favourites for years, considered certainties to beat Second Division opponents

Read the full story at

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Yorkshire Post 21/1/12
Leeds exit door will close after Howson - Bates faces critics
EMBATTLED Leeds United manager Simon Grayson last night moved to assure fans that no other key players will be following captain Jonny Howson out of Elland Road during the transfer window.
The Championship club have had a difficult week with the £2m sale of the Leeds-born midfielder to Norwich City having left supporters furious and accusing the board of lacking ambition.
An impromptu protest was held by around 150 disgruntled fans on Thursday night at the Billy Bremner statue and it is expected that chairman Ken Bates will come in for further criticism today when Ipswich Town visit West Yorkshire.
Grayson, however, insists Howson’s departure, which was last night edging closer as the England Under-21 international underwent a medical at Carrow Road, was in the club’s best interests due to the midfielder being able to leave on a free transfer in the summer when his contract runs out.
The Leeds manager said: “I can understand everyone’s frustration and I am as frustrated as everyone else.
“Jonny has done very well for us but, ultimately, when the offer came in, I spoke to Jonny and he confirmed his desire to play in the Premier League.
“I am sure he would have liked to have done that with us but no one knows what the future holds. He felt it was too good an opportunity to turn down and we thought it was a good opportunity in a business sense. We can utilise the money to bring players in during this window.
“If the bid had been half as much then we wouldn’t even have considered it but we decided it was in the best interests of everyone to sell Jonny.”
Norwich’s interest first emerged last Monday and came as a major surprise to everyone at Elland Road, including Howson, who has been out for almost six weeks with a knee injury.
Grayson added: “We had a long meeting on Monday and we couldn’t afford the luxury of him getting out of contract and walking on a free. We have tried to tie Jonny down but this is what happens with the Bosman rule.
“We have chipped away in trying to get something done but Jonny has made it clear he wants to play in the Premier League.
“It was a difficult decision for Jonny but he had to weigh up many things. He felt the best opportunity was to secure Premier League football now.
“Nobody likes to lose their best players, especially on free transfers.
“It is difficult in this day and age with the Bosman ruling. (Gary) Cahill at Bolton is an example of players who have to be sold in the last year of their contracts. They have had to take half the money they were offered in the summer.
“Sometimes you can’t extend contracts because of the finances involved in it all. You never know if a player might get injured, then you would be stuck with someone on a lot of money who is not contributing to the team.”
Howson’s imminent departure comes two years on from the transfer window that saw Leeds turn down a £2m bid from Newcastle United for Jermaine Beckford due to their belief that the striker’s goals would help secure promotion from League One.
Asked by the Yorkshire Post if the decision to let the club captain leave was a sign that United had resigned themselves to not going up this time around, Grayson replied: “No, not at all. The money we have got in will go back in to bring players here. With Jermaine, we were a League One team, Newcastle were a Championship team and he didn’t want to go to the Championship.
“He was always going to hold out until a Premier League club came knocking to sign him on a free transfer. He didn’t have to move there and then to fulfil his ambition of going to a better league.
“We felt that the money could be utilised in a way that would give us a better chance of promotion and that was how it turned out. He was one who got us to the Championship.
“Would Jonny have got us to the Premier League? That is a difficult question to answer because he is still injured.
“He could be back in two weeks, a month or six weeks. It is still in the balance. That was a factor when we looked at it.
“We can use the money to bring in three or four players to make us stronger and that is what we are trying to do.”
With Howson on his way out, speculation as to whether Robert Snodgrass, Ross McCormack, Tom Lees and Adam Clayton could also be on their way has been a major talking point in Leeds over recent days.
Grayson, however, insists that no one else will be leaving this month as United look to bounce back from a disappointing run of just one win in six league outings.
He said: “Jonny’s deal suited us and him. But any other deal has to suit us, not the individual, because all the other players apart from Aidy White are all under contract for at least 18 months. We don’t have to do anything. If they want to leave then tough. They have got enough time on their contracts to make sure they are not going anywhere.
“We have got a group here who we feel can get promoted but it is all about succeeding in that. It is not a sign of a lack of ambition that a club is signing one of our players.
“Our ambition will be shown by speculation linking three or four of our others players with other clubs. But that won’t be happening and they won’t be leaving. It is utter nonsense.”
Yorkshire Evening Post 19/1/12
Local lad Howson was always destined for top
Andy Ritchie, the ex-Leeds United academy manager, remembers Jonathan Howson as a player ahead of his time and ahead of his age group.
By the time he turned 14, Howson was already a member of United’s Under-16 squad and he signed his first professional contract as a 17-year-old.
It set the tone for his entire career with Leeds – the squad’s leading appearance maker at 22 and club captain at 23. “Watch this lad,” Richard Naylor once said. “The sky’s the limit for him.”
That limit will be reached with Norwich City or wherever Howson finally peaks; somewhere other than Elland Road. In keeping with the midfielder’s development at Leeds, he is moving on with unforeseen haste, eager to continue climbing the ladder as he has for several years. His senior debut came in 2006, somewhat lost in the aftermath of a Carling Cup tie against Barnet.
Howson played for 14 minutes as a substitute but Kevin Blackwell, then United’s manager, was sacked the following day.
Only when Dennis Wise turned to him for a Yorkshire derby against Hull City towards the end of the year did Howson’s name begin to reverberate.
That start at Elland Road on December 23 was to be the first of 162 in league fixtures for Leeds, and one of 225 appearances in all. He was a bit-part player under Wise but found Gary McAllister more accommodating. Under Simon Grayson, he was trusted to the point of completing an ever-present season last term, the first by an outfield player at Elland Road since Harry Kewell in 1999.
It was never Howson’s choice to play as a central midfielder – brought up as a forward, Wise sought to convert him and future managers followed suit – but it became his niche for all but the second half of last season when Grayson let him loose in an attacking role.
At his best, he conjured moments of brilliance like his second goal in the 2008 play-off semi-final at Carlisle United and his game-changing finish against Bristol Rovers on the day of United’s promotion from League One.
On his poorer days he polarised opinion – a magnet for criticism and, more recently as captain, a point of reference for the media. When Leeds were routed at Southampton on the first day of this season, Howson took it upon himself to face the music. “The fans come all this way and we put on a performance like that,” he said. “I look at them and think ‘you don’t deserve this.’”
Comments like that revealed his appreciation of the responsibility he carried. You never questioned if it mattered to him. But there was always a danger of confusing Howson’s character with a lack of ambition or self-determination; a danger of assuming that a youngster from Morley who held the armband at Leeds would be forever happy with his lot.
Back in October, it became clear that Howson would only sign a new deal if United were promoted. It was a tacit admission that the grass might be greener – green and gold, in fact, if he chooses to move to Carrow Road, the scene of his first goal in Leeds colours.
The loss will be a sad one.
Yorkshire Evening Post 16/1/12
Snodin’s joy with Snodgrass
Glynn Snodin expressed relief at Robert Snodgrass’ quick recovery from emergency surgery after the winger’s ninth goal of the season earned Leeds United a 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace.
Snodgrass returned to United’s squad just 16 days after undergoing an operation to remove his appendix, and he rescued a point at Selhurst Park with a 64th-minute strike.
Manager Simon Grayson named the Scotland international as a substitute on Saturday but turned to him early in the second half as Leeds fought to overturn a 1-0 deficit against a team reduced to 10 players.
Snodgrass struck eight minutes later, arriving unmarked to slide a shot past Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni, and first-team coach Snodin admitted that the 24-year-old’s talent had been missed by Leeds during his three-game absence.
Snodin said: “He was playing well before he had his appendix out and he’s scored some stunning goals for us. He was at his peak and to be honest we’ve missed him.
“We thought about what to do after he trained on Thursday and said ‘shall we start him?’ But we felt it was best to put him on the bench and use him if needs be. Luckily for us he came on and scored the goal.”
Snodgrass was sent for an unscheduled operation on December 29, less than 48 hours before Leeds’ New Year’s Eve game at Barnsley, and United feared he would be missing for several weeks.
The former Livingston player has spoken for the first time about his emergency procedure, saying: “We had the day off and when I woke up I was in agony for maybe 14 hours.
“I thought it was stomach cramps – it was the same kind of pain. But then I got a sore head and started feeling sick without being sick. Those are the symptoms. I went to see the surgeon and it was a case of rushing me in straight away. Forty-five minutes later it was done.
“Anyone who’s had their appendix out can’t walk because your stomach is too sore. You doing nothing for three or four days and then take it from there. I was laid low for 10 days and then got going.”
Snodgrass has been United’s most influential outfield player this season, scoring nine times and creating a further nine goals, and he answered Grayson’s call on Saturday by cancelling out an early Chris Martin strike.
“First and foremost it was great to get on the park,” Snodgrass said. “I was missing it badly.
“I thought I was going to be out for bit longer than I have been, and it’s one of those things you have to deal with. I just tried to get as fit as I could and the gaffer threw me right back in.”
Saturday’s game was nevertheless a frustrating experience for Leeds, who fell behind after seven minutes and were denied a victory by a Palace side who lost winger Sean Scannell to a red card at the end of the first half. Snodgrass eventually found a way past Speroni but United’s pressure in the closing stages of the match failed to deliver a winning goal, and the club fell to 11th place in the Championship at full-time.
Snodin stood in for Grayson at the post-match press conference with Grayson undergoing physiotherapy on a long-standing knee problem, and the United coach declared him satisfied with the 1-1 scoreline.
“They came out firing in the first 10 minutes and went 1-0 up,” Snodin said. “They’d done that to us last season too and at the end of the day it was a good point.
“I thought we did well and we tried to get the ball out wide to break them down.
“When we got our goal we thought we could push on again and win the game but Palace are good on the break. Even though they were down for 10 men, we had to make sure the back door was closed.
“But they were always going to put players behind the ball and sometimes you can find it hard to play against 10 men. Everybody sits in and looks to run at you on the counter-attack. Our game plan was just to keep getting balls into the box and getting balls out wide, not go central because there were a lot of players packed in there. We hoped it would get us the result but unfortunately we’ve only come away with a point.”
Leeds were denied on three occasions by excellent saves from Speroni but Snodin was critical of United’s composure around Palace’s box, saying: “The quality probably wasn’t there at the end of it all.
“You work hard to get up to the 18-yard line and when you get there you want quality balls into the box.
“But it’s only right to say that they’ve got quality defenders, and they got bodies in the box. They did their jobs as well.”

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Mail 14/1/12
Crystal Palace 1 Leeds 1: Snodgrass snatches point for United
Robert Snodgrass stepped off the bench to rescue a point for Leeds against 10-man Crystal Palace just over two weeks after undergoing surgery on his appendix.
The Scotland international, a surprise inclusion in the Leeds squad, struck from close range in the 63rd minute to cancel out Chris Martin's early opener for Palace.
The hosts played the second period with 10 men after striker Sean Scannell had been sent off on the stroke of half-time for a second yellow card.
It was the second game running Leeds had come from behind against 10 men after Ross McCormack's stoppage-time winner against Burnley in their last league outing, but the point did little for either side's npower Championship play-off aspirations.
Palace, with one eye on Wembley in the Carling Cup, have won just three of their last their last eight league games and have dropped to 13th place, while Leeds slipped to 11th, albeit just one point adrift of the top six.
Palace wasted little time in picking up where they left off in their Carling Cup semi-final win over Cardiff on Tuesday night - Anthony Gardner's goal gave them a slender lead to take into the second leg - to take a sixth-minute lead.
Martin cut inside on the left side of the penalty area and arrowed an angled shot into the bottom corner beyond Leeds goalkeeper Andy Lonergan for his second goal of the season.
Leeds spurned their best chance when unmarked midfielder Danny Pugh lashed Adam Clayton's corner over the crossbar from six yards.
Julian Speroni then pulled off two fine saves in quick succession to keep his side ahead.
The Palace keeper smothered Clayton's effort from inside the area and then parried defender Tom Lees' shot in the 36th minute.
Palace were reduced to 10 men on the stroke of half-time. Scannell, already booked for a foul on Andros Townsend, was shown a second yellow card by referee David Coote for his clumsy challenge on Pugh.
Returning Ross McCormack's close-range effort was blocked by Paddy McCarthy and Speroni saved again, from Lees' header, as the visitors looked to make their extra man count after the break.
Leeds manager Simon Grayson sent on Snodgrass for defender Aidy White in the 56th minute and was rewarded seven minutes later.
McCormack slipped the ball to his fellow Scot inside the box and Snodgrass tucked the ball into the bottom corner from six yards.
Republic of Ireland defender Paul McShane, signed on loan from Hull this week, made his Palace debut when replacing Mustapha Dumbuya in the 67th minute.
But Leeds continued to press. Snodgrass, Pugh and Clayton were all off target with long-distance efforts, while Speroni denied Leeds an 86th-minute winner when keeping out substitute Mikael Forssell's close-range shot.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Mail 10/1/12
Heads up! Keown gets smacked on the head by wayward ball at Arsenal
Thierry Henry may have grabbed the limelight at The Emirates Stadium on Monday night with his winner against Leeds - but another former Arsenal favorite also showed he could still cut it.
Sportsmail columnist Martin Keown rolled back the years to produce an impromptu bullet header while working as a pitch side pundit for ESPN.
Keown was talking to presenter Rebecca Lowe and fellow pundit Robbie Savage when a wayward ball smacked against the back of his head.
But, after years of clearing the lines as part of the Arsenal back four, Keown was able to brush off the accident with a smile and a thumbs up like a true professional.
The miss-hit ball was believed to have been hit by a Leeds player while he was warming up before the game.

Yorkshire Post 10/1/12
Grayson is left feeling proud of Leeds’s Cup endeavours
By Richard Sutcliffe
SIMON GRAYSON feels Thierry Henry’s match-winning return to English football was “written in the stars”.
The 34-year-old came off the bench to settle a hard-fought third-round tie in Arsenal’s favour with a trademark finish after being picked out by Alex Song.
Henry’s goal meant United crashed out at the third round stage for a second consecutive year at the hands of Arsenal.
Grayson, however, insists there were plenty of positives from last night’s defeat.
He said: “I thought our young boys did extremely well. We had an average age of 23 to 24 and they never looked fazed.
“They left with their heads held high but we were disappointed. I felt we defended well and our shape was good. The desire and attitude was fantastic and we came very close to getting a result.
“It was probably written into the stars what happened but that is the class of Thierry Henry. How many times has he been in that left-hand channel and bent one into the bottom corner?
“He is someone who can do something out of nothing. I just wish he had signed for Arsenal a week earlier so we might not have had all this furore about him ahead of our visit. Even after that, though, we had opportunities through Ross McCormack and Mikael Forssell. But we can be proud of what we did.”
The Cup exit means United’s sole focus for the rest of the season is the Championship promotion race and they return to action this Saturday at Crystal Palace.
Robert Snodgrass, who has missed the last two games following appendicitis, returned to training yesterday and could line-up against the Eagles.
Grayson does, however, want to add to his squad with Leeds understood to be interested in a host of players including Blackburn Rovers midfielder Keith Andrews, Leicester City defender Sean St Ledger and Liverpool full-back Martin Kelly.
While neither confirming nor denying his intended targets, Grayson said: “We know we need a couple of players in the window to make us better. A lot of work is still to be done but we have made contact with clubs and their representatives. Hopefully, we can do something before Palace.
“Based on the Arsenal game, though, maybe the younger lads deserve an opportunity to play on a regular basis.
“But we know we need players because it is going to be a long second half to the season.”
Guardian 9/1/12
Arsenal 1 Leeds United 0
Kevin McCarra at the Emirates Stadium
The match had impeccable manners. This FA Cup tie did little to distract a crowd from its thoughts of Thierry Henry while he was still on the bench. The long stalemate was just scene-setting. The forward decided this FA Cup tie after a five-year absence from Arsenal and sent the side on to a meeting with Aston Villa in the fourth round.
It was a goal perfectly reminiscent of his great days with the club. Alex Song slipped the ball through in the 78th minute and Henry, on loan from New York Red Bulls, came in from the left to slant a right-footed shot across the Leeds United goalkeeper, Andy Lonergan. The movement and finish were so typical of the scorer that the episode would have been a cliché had it not felt so exhilarating.
There are plenty of cautionary words to be uttered since Leeds are only eighth in the Championship but no one else in Arsenal's ranks had come up with the technique and poise to settle the outcome. The impact of a 34-year-old Henry cannot be taken for granted in, say, the Premier League but adrenaline flooded through this club after Arsène Wenger released him from the bench in the 68th minute.
Henry, too, will be elated after notching a 227th goal for Arsenal. Circumstances will not always be as suitable as they were here, with an admirable Leeds starting to toil after being so composed and efficient for much of the occasion. This evening, however, was a fillip for a club currently outside the top four in the Premier League and keen to ready themselves for the resumption of the Champions League.
It could be that Henry's influence will be short-lived but his presence galvanised Arsenal here. Stern judges could think it an indictment of Wenger that he had to dip into the club's past but the immediate benefit was well worth having, no matter how the forward fares in the weeks to come. The spectators had more to discuss than, for instance, their usual disappointment with, say, Andrey Arshavin and Marouane Chamakh.
This match also had a ring to it even before Henry took the field. While the true aspirations of Leeds are for an eventual re-emergence in the Premier League, the FA Cup came as a break from all that earnestness. Here was an occasion that would excite a team that also understood there was scant risk of recriminations or disgrace.
Arsenal had trouble making a breakthrough, since the visitors were obdurate in their 4-1-4-1 system. Wenger's players attacked but early in the night there was little precision in front of goal. Chamakh was in action prior to joining Morocco at the Africa Cup of Nations but did not make his presence felt when collecting Aaron Ramsey's pass and sending his finish soaring over the bar in the second minute.
Though the Arsenal centre-half Sébastien Squillaci had been wasteful when heading off target from a Mikel Arteta free-kick in the second minute, Simon Grayson's team were generally composed. Their opponents had to cope with exasperation and an injured Francis Coquelin had to make way for Nico Yennaris after half an hour.
It would still have been a distortion to pretend that frustration had seeped into the Emirates, though there may have been a little wistfulness about one absentee. Robin van Persie was excused the game so that he could enjoy a family holiday in Dubai, even though the club often appears dependent on the Dutchman for goals. His name would have begun to be more prominent still in the thoughts of the Arsenal fans when there was a protracted deadlock.
There ought also to have been regard for the opposition among those in a sportsmanlike mood. Leeds were composed and there was also a wish to go on the attack, despite the fact that they had not inconvenienced the Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny at that juncture. A bid for promotion can be a treacherous task but Leeds, by the interval, would often have had the impression that, if Arsenal were any guide, the Premier League might not be so intimidating after all.
It was not for sentimental reasons that chants for Henry broke out in the opening moments of the second half. The Arsenal winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain did show urgency when cutting in from the right before shooting off-target in the 47th minute. Even so, it would have been unjust to write off this fixture as a non-event.
Whatever else happens, this scene, before a crowd of 59,615, should motivate Leeds all the more to persevere in the quest for Premier League status. The focus here was largely on containing the hosts.
That was being done only with difficulty as the second half developed. When Chamakh laid the ball off to Arteta in the 54th minute, the drive was saved by Lonergan. With the win achieved, there is a danger that Arsenal will forget just how they toiled. The night belonged to Henry but, if his team is to prosper, others will have to strive for the standards he has set.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Yorkshire Post 7/1/12
Chairman Bates acts to ease the pressure on Leeds manager Grayson
KEN BATES has told Simon Grayson to ignore the pressure and get on with the task of managing Leeds United.
The United chief’s future has been a huge subject of debate in recent weeks, most notably after the three-game losing run that preceded Monday’s dramatic win over Burnley.
Ross McCormack’s stoppage-time winner was the cue for delirious scenes all around Elland Road with Grayson even setting off on a Jose Mourinho-style charge down the touchline in celebration.
Grayson’s emotional response suggested he believed beating the Clarets was important for his future job prospects following the abject manner of United’s performance in losing 4-1 to Barnsley just two days earlier.
With that in mind, therefore, it is perhaps an appropriate time for the Yorkshire Post to ask Bates if he still has faith in his manager.
“I knew you would bring that up,” replied the Leeds chairman. “He is now probably the longest-serving manager in the Football League.
“His record over the last three years is in the first year we got to the play off semi-final, the second year he got us promotion and in the third year we finished seventh.
“This year, despite the fact we have had our blip early, we are one point off the play-offs. We are also ravaged by injuries.
“He is the manager. Don’t start putting pressure on him.
“Don’t forget they (supporters) were talking of sacking (Sir Alex) Ferguson when he lost 6-1 (to Manchester City) earlier in the season. Then, they were talking of sacking Wenger. Who else are you going to sack?”
Bates’s plea about not putting extra pressure on his manager is understandable, even if the Leeds chairman admits that it comes with the territory. He added: “If you are chairman, you have to live with pressure. If you win on Saturday, it’s, ‘Yeah, we’re going to win the league’. But if we lose, it’s ‘We’re getting relegated’ and they shout ‘sack the board’.
“When they chant your name and cheer, thanks very much. But (remember to) take it with a pinch of salt. And when you get the reverse, take it with a pinch of salt and get on with it. As Harry S Truman once said: ‘if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen’.”
Leeds head to Arsenal on Monday for a repeat of last season’s FA Cup third round tie between the two clubs with Spurs loanee Andros Townsend certain to play after being granted permission by Harry Redknapp.
Thierry Henry will go straight into the Arsenal squad after returning on a short-term loan deal from New York Red Bulls.
Whether United will have any other new signings in the line-up remains to be seen but the club is actively searching for additions with Grayson seeking the capture of a midfielder, a right-back and the bolstering of his options at centre-half, injuries to others having left only Darren O’Dea and Tom Lees fit ahead of the trip to north London.
Supporters are also keen to see signings made, especially after what many of the Elland Road faithful considered to be a disappointing summer transfer window that saw Max Gradel leave along with Neil Kilkenny, Kasper Schmeichel and Bradley Johnson.
Asked if Grayson has money to spend, Bates replied: “With our manager, the reason why Leeds are successful financially is that we do our budgets.
“We have 17 cost/profit centres and everything is okay. We have 220 full-time staff, 700-800 part-time staff and I think we also employ half the police in West Yorkshire – or that is what it looks like when I see the bill coming in.
“We do our budgets. I add up all the income, deduct all the expenditure, use it as a credit balance, take off a sum for contingencies and then say to the manager, ‘That’s how much we have to spend, wages and transfer fees’.
“I then say to him, ‘If you sell any players that money comes into the pot. If you spot any players that money comes out of the pot. You are the manager, you will stand or fall by your decisions, therefore they are your decisions’.”
Sabotage Times 3/1/12
Leeds United Half-Term Report: Fear The Return Of Barn Door Billy
The sting of three shattering defeats over the festive period was taken away slightly by yesterday's last minute win against Burnley, but things still aren't right...

Football is my religion, Elland Road is my Church. A half way summary of Leeds United, football’s real sleeping giant.

What’s going right?
We have seemed to have lowered the amount of goals conceded per game compared to last season (apart from Barnsley), which is pleasing and also surprising as the Leeds defensive coaches seemed incapable of organising a lash-up in a brewery never mind positioning at corners.

What’s gone wrong?
Well honestly, quite a lot. After 3 festive ruining defeats against Reading, Derby and ending up on the wrong end of a 4-1 defeat to our Yorkshire rivals Barnsley we find ourselves 11th in the table with the wheels well and truly off our promotion challenge. These results left many Leeds fans were left grumbling over their post Christmas turkey sandwiches wondering what was causing this sudden loss of form. The massive loss of the captain Jonny Howson due to injury left a huge hole in the centre of our midfield and broke up the partnership he had with the young Adam Clayton. If that was to leave a sour taste in the mouth then the sudden appendix surgery needed for our Scottish talisman Robert Snodgrass was a like a blow to the crown jewels by a sledgehammer, looks like it’s back to “hoof ball” then.
The goals have dried up from Ross McCormack who started the season like a house on fire, and the fan favourite Luciano Becchio has somehow forgotten how to play football all together, and has lead to thoughts of “The Return of Barn Door Billy”. These factors along with rumours of in-fighting and the manager losing the dressing room has left fans looking frighteningly at the prospect of falling out of the play-off contention at such an early stage but worse still the possibility of a relegation fight if performances don’t improve.

Got the right manager?
Yes and No. The recent performances of the team has left Simon Grayson’s job in a shaky situation with some fans calling for a change at the helm. A recent poll started on a large Leeds United internet message board showed results that 288 people voted to keep Simon in Charge with a view to “long term sustainability” with 135 wanted him out with one fan saying that they were “sick to death of how bad we can sometimes be under him”.
Simon Grayson will always be remembered by myself for the heroics performed at Old Trafford, White Hart Lane, the pure emotion he shows when we score a goal and most importantly the holy grail which was promotion from League One (eventually), but he will also remembered for the near cock up of promotion that season with Leeds eventually stumbling over the line on the final day.
It’s hard to keep churning out excuses after every defeat to the loyal fans that pay good money to follow the team far and wide only to sit through a 90 minute long horror show starring main offender Darren O’Dear. Simon Grayson may have the majority on his side at the minute, but defeat against Burnley today could’ve seen Leeds United searching for a new manager sooner rather than later.

Star player? Leeds United Fifa 2012 winner Robert Snodgrass, a single shining light in these turbulent times. A real threat down either the left or right flank, a dead ball specialist and a left foot which earned him a Scotland call up. I fear what January may bring with the Premiership clubs sniffing round our young scot offering Kenneth another couple of million to spend on the stadium and “Snoddy” the chance to double, maybe even triple his wage. After the departure of our only other decent attacking threat Max Gradel in the summer due to a transfer request myself and other Leeds United Fans pray we can hold onto him.

Who would you like to sell in January? How long have you got? We have a massive squad and are wasting wages on garbage. Number one would Billy Paynter, the guy couldn’t score in brothel.

Who do you want to sign?
Andros Townsend the excited winger has joined on a season long loan from Spurs which wet the mouths of fans hoping for a busy January transfer period but awaiting the excuses of “greedy agents” or Simon’s favourite “irons in the fire”. Everything sways on whether cuddly Ken is going to open the so called transfer “war chest”. Having said that I would love to see Sammy Clingan in a Leeds United shirt and a possible move for out of favour Leicester and ex Leeds sticker Jermaine Beckford to kick start a promotion push.

Best chant so far?
Forest away,
“He eats what he wants,
he eats what he wants,
he’s Andy Reid,
he eats what he wants”.
As one fan put it, watching Andy Reid chase Aidy White was like watching the old Reebok “Belly gonna get ya” advert.

Biggest **** of the season so far?
Without doubt it has to be Andy O’Brien. Refusing to play for Leeds again for reasons unknown and demanding a transfer to West Ham? Jog on son, you won’t be missed.

End of season prediction?
With the right investment in January I believe we can turn this form around, and as I write this article, Ross McCormack has just scored the winning goal for Leeds in 95th minute against Burnley starting joyous celebrations around Elland Road. Can anybody remember Mark Robins goal that saved Old Whisky nose’s Job? I think we have just witnessed a goal of the same magnitude but on the other side of the Pennines this time. This win moves us up to 8th in the table and 1 point off the play-offs, thankfully I think the light at the end of the tunnel has brightened slightly today.
Yorkshire Evening Post 3/1/12
Leeds United v Burnley: What a relief! - Grayson
By Phil Hay
Simon Grayson celebrated a “massive result” after Leeds United eased the pressure on him with a sensational victory over Burnley.
The United manager punched the air in relief as a winner from Ross McCormack in the fifth minute of injury-time averted a fourth straight defeat.
Grayson’s future as manager looked doubtful after Charlie Austin’s 69th-minute strike put 10-man Burnley within reach of three points, but two goals in the dying moments at Elland Road – one an own goal from Brian Easton – salvaged a vital 2-1 win.
McCormack’s last-gasp effort sparked dramatic celebrations among United’s players and staff, and Leeds climbed to eighth place in the Championship after their first win since December 3.
Grayson, who made five changes to the team routed at Barnsley on Saturday, said: “It shows the relief amongst everyone – the supporters, the players and the staff. I wasn’t going to stand on the touchline and do nothing because this is a big result for us.
“It’s massive because we don’t want to fall adrift of the play-off positions. The players responded after being criticised on Saturday and rightly so. We had a team meeting on Sunday, watched the DVD, and they’ve actually done what we wanted them to do at Barnsley.
“With five minutes to go we were staring down the barrel of another defeat but we played well enough to win and we deserved to win.
“We showed a bit of character and got a bit of luck with both of our goals. It stops the rot. When you’ve lost three on the bounce, you don’t want to make it four, especially at home. It’s a big result for us all.”
Asked if he feared for his job as the Clarets defended a 1-0 lead in the closing stages, Grayson said: “No, not really. I believe that my team are good enough to get results and football’s all about results.
“Other people decided those things (his future) but one thing I won’t do is shy away from the challenge or from hard work.”
United were inspired by an impressive debut from Andros Townsend, who joined on a half-season loan from Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, and McCormack was on hand to bury the rebound after Burnley goalkeeper Lee Grant failed to hold Townsend’s shot.
Grayson said: “He’s a talent and he’s played against us a few times over the years. He only trained briefly with the team on Sunday and he had to have his boots sent up from Tottenham by taxi yesterday morning, but he gave us something we’ve been missing – pace and directness.
“I made five changes and I could have made 11 after what happened at Barnsley, but I felt that certain players would respond. This season’s going to go to the wire and I said that when we were winning games. We’ve got a group here who are capable of anything and the Championship’s so tight it’s unbelievable.”
Burnley were hit by the first-half dismissal of defender Kieran Trippier, booked by referee Mark Brown for two fouls on Townsend and boss Eddie Howe was incensed by the red card, saying: “The second booking wasn’t even a foul.
“It’s a disgraceful decision and I hope he looks at it and learns from it because I felt he was totally swayed by the crowd.”

Monday, January 02, 2012

Sky 2/1/11
Grayson hails 'massive' win
Leeds boss delighted to stop rot after last-gasp win
Leeds manager Simon Grayson watched his side end a horror run with a dramatic win over Burnley and declared: "We can achieve anything".
Three successive defeats had seen the 42-year-old, who is carrying the burden of chairman Ken Bates' public demand for promotion with him, come under scrutiny.
That only looked set to intensify when Charlie Austin put Burnley ahead with 21 minutes left, some 40 minutes after his side had lost Kieran Trippier to a second yellow card.
But Leeds were given a leg-up by Brian Easton's 86th-minute own goal and then turned things around in the fifth minute of injury time, when Ross McCormack pounced on goalkeeper Lee Grant's error, sending his manager off on an emotion-charged run down the touchline.
"I've had a bad knee and I thought it might go, but it showed the passion and belief of everyone," Grayson said of the late drama.
"It's massive for us. We're at home, we don't want to get adrift of the play-off positions and it's important we win football matches. I made five changes today and we could have made 11."
Simon Grayson Quotes of the week
"I wasn't going to just stand on the touchline and accept it. We can achieve anything, because the division is so tight. A couple of wins gets you up there."
In Grayson's own words, Leeds were "embarrassing" in losing 4-1 at Barnsley on Saturday, and he stayed true to his pledge to change things around, making five alterations to his side, the most notable of which was giving a debut to on-loan Tottenham winger Andros Townsend.
Both of Trippier's cautions came for fouls on the livewire winger, and it was his shot that Grant spilled into McCormack's path.
"He's a talent, he's played against us a few times and (Spurs manager) Harry Redknapp rates him highly," Grayson said of Townsend.
"He trained with us briefly, he had his boots sent to us by taxi this morning. I might try and send the bill to (Bates' home) Monaco!
"With five minutes to go, we were staring down the barrel of another defeat. I thought we played well and had enough chances. I'm delighted we stopped the rot.
"It's massive for us. We're at home, we don't want to get adrift of the play-off positions and it's important we win football matches. I made five changes today and we could have made 11."
Burnley manager Eddie Howe pinpointed the dismissal of Trippier as a key moment.
His second foul on Townsend did appear soft at best, and Howe was in no doubt as to how crucial a decision it was.
"I'm bitterly disappointed," he said. "I'm proud of the players and I thought we deserved all three points for the defensive display. It was heartbreaking to concede but we can take great heart.
"At 11 v 11 I thought we were the better team. The ref changed the game with a really poor decision that made it a difficult afternoon for everyone. The second booking isn't even a foul and it was a big decision to make. A disgraceful one.
"Townsend told Kieran he slipped. Even if it was a foul, the referee has to use common sense. But I thought Townsend was excellent and we had aimed to keep him quiet."
Yorkshire Evening Post 2/1/12
Match report: Leeds United v Burnley
Ross McCormack struck what could prove to be one of the most vital goals of Simon Grayson’s time in charge of Leeds United five minutes into injury time, as the Whites overturned a one-goal deficit to come from behind and beat 10-man Burnley.
Going into the game with a three-game losing run behind him and a very public demand of promotion from outspoken owner Ken Bates hanging over his head, some could have been forgiven for writing Grayson’s Elland Road obituary when his men fell behind to Charlie Austin’s 69th-minute opener.
But the under-pressure boss was given a leg-up by Brian Easton’s own goal with four minutes left and, when it looked as though he would have to take a draw against 10 men back to his chairman, McCormack pounced on Lee Grant’s fumble of Andros Townsend’s long-range strike to send his manager on an emotional charge of celebration down the touchline.
The end result was perhaps harsh on Burnley, who had looked set to record an eighth win in nine games when Austin scored - his goal coming some 40 minutes after Kieran Trippier had been sent off for two bookings, both of which came for fouls on lively debutant Townsend.
But it was Leeds who had the last word, with top scorer McCormack coming off the bench to grab his 12th and most important of the season.
Grayson said after Saturday’s 4-1 loss to Barnsley that some players may never play for him again and he stayed true to his word, making five changes, although it was Burnley who started better with Austin spurning a one-on-one chance.
Leeds then lost captain Patrick Kisnorbo to a 14th-minute knee injury that forced Grayson into another reshuffle, and he was thankful to see Andy Lonergan turn Austin’s opportunistic 25-yard drive over as he changed his side around.
Burnley began to fade after that second Austin effort and Townsend in particular opted to try and swing momentum in favour of the home side. Tripper was the man in his sights and twice in the space of six minutes he torched past the full-back, with referee Mike Brown brandishing a yellow card on both occasions, with the second one perhaps only worthy of a warning.
In between the two bookings Townsend ran at the Burnley defence and drilled wide but, after that and Trippier’s dismissal, both sides seemed without idea and limped through to the interval.
Leeds displayed a shade more invention at the start of the second half, with Ramon Nunez twice putting in crosses that caused Grant problems and Townsend fizzing a strike over from the corner of the area.
Townsend was relentless in his pursuit of whoever was occupying Burnley’s right-back berth and, after he drew a foul and a booking from David Edgar, Leeds mounted their first real spell of pressure which saw Brian Easton head away from under his own bar and Darren O’Dea then clip the top of the goal with a looping header.
Ben Mee then received the fourth yellow card of the afternoon awarded for a foul on Townsend, and from the subsequent free-kick, Nunez worked Grant for the first time.
Leeds rookie Zac Thompson then saw a volley scrape past Grant’s post from 25 yards, before Austin went one better at the other end, giving Burnley the lead out of nothing.
A long ball from Dean Marney fell to him in the box and, as the Leeds defence held back, he snapped at a half-volley on the turn and found Lonergan’s bottom corner with his 10th of the season.
Leeds were initially stunned, but got a fortuitous break when Easton turned Adam Clayton’s corner beyond Grant with four minutes left and then, when a draw looked on, McCormack pounced to offer his boss some welcome relief.
Townsend’s 25-yarder should have been a regulation save for Grant, but the keeper shelled the ball and McCormack did the rest.
Yorkshire Evening Post 2/1/12
Whites serve up spineless show
By Phil Hay
Farewell to 2011, a year of promise that Leeds United contrived to waste. Few today could say what 2012 holds, and least of all Simon Grayson.
These are dangerous times for United’s manager with the club’s season losing its thread and his squad losing the plot. Fourth in the Championship a month ago, Leeds entered the new year down in 10th after running aground at Barnsley.
Grayson’s future was the elephant in the room before Saturday’s derby in South Yorkshire but the fragility of his position became the topic of open discussion after Ricardo Vaz Te and Craig Davies inflicted Leeds’ third straight defeat with four goals between them at Oakwell.
United’s confidence in Grayson is a matter for their owner and his board but it is not difficult to imagine pensive faces in the corridors of Elland Road. December will go down as a pitiful month in which Leeds failed to average a point a game, and the comparative inconsistency of the rest of the Championship is no longer helping them. Grayson could ill afford defeat on Saturday, let alone one as spineless as the beating that ensued.
The crowd of 5,760 Leeds supporters who turned out at Oakwell chanted occasionally in support of him and aimed their harshest criticism at chairman Ken Bates. It is clear that something must change immediately, if only the club’s debilitating results.
“Embarrassing, shambolic,” said Grayson quietly after Vaz Te’s hat-trick and a second-half strike from Davies put Leeds to the sword.
It was, for 50 minutes, a repeat of their defeat to Derby County on Boxing Day – a scenario which could have been avoided with better finishing but a performance that Leeds have given too regularly.
Grayson’s team were in the game for 51 minutes but rarely dominant; occasionally creative but often found at arm’s length. He has never found goals so hard to come by in three years as boss and United’s disgraceful contribution to the second half did not deserve so much as Luciano Becchio’s injury-time header.
At a time of difficulty and arguably crisis, Grayson must have craved his strongest team to fight with. Saturday’s line-up was far from that, more makeshift than matter-of-course – Mika Vayrynen given his second league start and Ramon Nunez his fourth; Andy Keogh usurping Becchio and restoring United’s most productive partnership of the season.
Nunez had the most gaping void to fill and he tried like few around him, replacing Robert Snodgrass as the Scot recuperated from an operation to remove his appendix. Concern over Snodgrass’ well-being stifled any other emotion but the overnight loss of a match-winning asset was a withering blow at an uncomfortable moment.
In his final weeks as Leeds’ manager in 2008, Gary McAllister suffered among other problems from the loss to injury of Jermaine Beckford, a goalscorer who might have saved his bacon without a torn hamstring. Snodgrass’ illness stripped Grayson’s squad of its most creative player but the telling factor at Oakwell should have been Barnsley losing their own after 14 minutes.
Grayson employed Vayrynen, Danny Pugh and Michael Brown as a midfield three, perhaps with the intention of denying Jacob Butterfield the freedom and influence he experienced at Elland Road in November.
Butterfield showed a glimpse of his skill in the fourth minute by skipping out of the centre-circle, evading Darren O’Dea’s tackle and forcing Brown to bring him down with force. If that small victory belonged to Butterfield then the limp it left him with was apparently to Leeds’ advantage. Bruised and unable to run, he was substituted soon after.
More useful than Butterfield’s exit would have been a clinical finish from Keogh when the game’s first chance presented itself on eight minutes. Ross McCormack flicked Keogh into space six yards from goal but the striker dragged the ball in front of Luke Steele, showing the lack of killer instinct which might dissuade United from signing him permanently this month.
Nunez produced a better effort which dropped narrowly wide from 25 yards and Butterfield made way soon after, bringing Vaz Te off the bench. Within seconds, Vaz Te – the scorer of the first goal in Barnsley’s 2-1 win over Leeds on November 26 – snatched the rebound from Patrick Kisnorbo’s challenge on Craig Davies and cracked the ball beyond Andy Lonergan.
With his first meaningful touch, Vaz Te’s goal unpicked a promising start from Leeds. Barnsley’s nerves subsided and they pressed forward, forcing referee Neil Swarbrick to take close look when Jay McEveley’s cross smacked against the left arm of Aidan White inside United’s box. The decision was questionable at best.
Nunez attempted to turn the tide with another searching shot from long range but Steele dived to turn it away with both hands. Moments later, Davies showed up unmarked in front of Lonergan and tied himself in knots with a poor touch that allowed Kisnorbo and O’Dea to smother him. When O’Dea was called upon to halt another attack on 33 minutes, his foul on Matt Done earned him the match’s first booking.
A half of relatively few opportunities saw two more before the interval, with Davies shooting over United’s bar from close range and Keogh nodding Nunez’s cross into the arms of Steele. Grayson’s players were put through an impromptu warm-up before the start of the second half but they were caught cold again in the 51st minute.
Vaz Te found himself without a marker when Done floated a cheaply-conceded corner towards the back post, and he controlled the ball before lashing it through several bodies and past Lonergan. Keogh’s sliding block on the line merely helped it into the net.
For Leeds, Vaz Te’s second goal made a write-off of the derby and Davies curling finish on 61 minutes amid pathetic defending on the edge of the box was hardly necessary. The same was true of Vaz Te’s third which came 18 minutes from time after Paul Connolly missed a header on left wing and left the Portuguese front man careering towards a blameless Lonergan.
Becchio pulled a goal back at the death but his header was worthless. In that lonely spot of management, the technical area, Grayson watched and twitched as the clock ran down, back against the wall and seemingly abandoned by United’s players. His should not have been the only mirror occupied on Saturday night.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

leedsunited.com 1/1/12
Leeds United have signed Tottenham winger Andros Townsend on loan until the end of the season.
The youngster, who has had previous loan experience in the Championship with Millwall, Watford and Ipswich Town, recently signed a new contract with Tottenham until 2016 and has scored twice in eight appearances for the London club.
United manager Simon Grayson said: "Andros is a quality young player with proven experience at this level and we're delighted to be able to bring him to Leeds."
Andros is available for Monday's Elland Road clash with Burnley.
Yorkshire Evening Post 31/12/11
Grayson fumes after ‘embarrassing’ loss
Simon Grayson rounded on his Leeds players after they slumped to a third successive defeat at Barnsley, being undone by a Ricardo Vaz Te hat-trick in a 4-1 defeat at Oakwell.
Grayson has been placed under some considerable pressure by owner Ken Bates who has demanded promotion to the Premier League this season, but has been unable to deliver results equal to the outspoken veteran’s lofty ambitions.
This was Leeds’ fourth game without a win and comfortably the worst performance of that sequence. Luciano Becchio netted a late consolation after Vaz Te and Craig Davies had done the damage for Barnsley.
Grayson does still have the backing of the supporters, though, who have opted to direct their anger at Bates for a perceived lack of investment in the team.
The former Chelsea chairman’s commitment to spending is set to be tested over the coming days too, with Grayson warning his current crop that today’s performance was not acceptable and that some of them could have played their last game for the club.
“Where do you start?” Grayson asked at the post-match press conference.
“There are so many words you can use to describe the performance. Embarrassing, shambolic, too many to say.
“When you play for Leeds United you have to earn the right to wear the shirt. Too many of them didn’t do that and that’s embarrassing. A lot of stuff is going to have to happen over the next couple of days.
“Any footballer can have a poor day at the office, but unless someone chops your legs off, you can run around. It’s embarrassing to be the manager of the club. They’re my players and my team. One or two might not play for the club again.”
Grayson calmed talk about his future after the Boxing Day loss at Derby, making light of the fact that Bates has already allowed him three years in charge. Monday’s clash with Burnley would be his 165th at the helm, but he accepted that results are not helping his cause.
“It’s not making it easy but I won’t shy away from the work or responsibility needed,” he said.
“I will guarantee I can work hard and anything that happens beyond that will not be my decision. I’m proud to be this manager.
“Every one of the players has to look themselves in the mirror tonight and be embarrassed by what they’ve done today and make sure they do something about it on Monday.
“I want to get to the Premier League with this club and my staff do. One or two players are too comfortable in just earning their money and they have another thing coming.”
Vaz Te stole the show with his treble, all clinical finishes, but was never meant to be on the pitch by the time his 15th-minute opener arrived. He was an early replacement for stand-out captain Jacob Butterfield who limped off after a challenge from Michael Brown.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Barnsley manager Keith Hill, who has finally got the best out of the 25-year-old after a nomadic career so far.
The Portuguese now has 10 goals for the season, but Hill had a word of warning for him afterwards.
“I think he was disappointed not to start the game and I’m glad he has responded,” Hill said.
“But I think he was getting lazy. His function is not just to score goals, they’re the bonus. He has to defend. We know what sort of player he can be and unless he educates himself, he’ll be a sub wherever he plays in the world.
“It’s important that when you have a vice, you work on it.”
Butterfield, widely expected to leave the club in January owing to his excellent form and expiring contract, has suffered knee ligament damage and is expected to miss three weeks.
“It was a challenge that belongs in the past,” Hill said of the incident.
“We’ve all fallen foul of it. It’s an old pro’s challenge. He (Brown) is an excellent, clever player who has done a job on him.”
Guardian 31/12/11
Barnsley thrash Leeds to heap more pressure on manager Simon Grayson
Barnsley 4 Leeds United 1
David Hopps at Oakwell
Chants of "Bates out" sounded from a sizeable contingent of Leeds United fans as their side stumbled to their most humiliating defeat of the season, but old chairmen do not depart as automatically as an old year. As much as they would like to see the back of Ken Bates, the man who increasingly looks in most danger is Simon Grayson.
Disenchanted as they were, Leeds' supporters dredged up a brief show of support for the manager, but after three successive defeats, and now lying 10th, four points adrift of the play-offs, Grayson's reputation has never been lower in his three years in charge. His side is going backwards.
Barnsley's Portuguese striker Ricardo Vaz Tê sunk Leeds with a hat-trick after his early appearance from the substitutes' bench to replace the injured captain, Jacob Butterfield, their outstanding player of the season, had initially left the home supporters fearing the worst. "Everything happens for a reason," said Barnsley's manager, Keith Hill, a South Yorkshire philosopher in the making.
Austerity Leeds were not a pretty sight. They were a shambles in central defence, lacked pace and imagination in midfield and were defeatist in attack. Bates, who likes a promotion challenge, even if it does not actually end in promotion, will be re-examining his loyalties in his Monte Carlo retreat.
Peter Lorimer, a Leeds striker in their heyday, former publican, and now a director, is regarded by many as Bates' mouthpiece and had been critical enough before kick-off. "I'd be lying to the fans if I said I wasn't worried," he said. "The situation for Leeds is precarious."
As chants for Bates's removal broke out, Lorimer briefly swung round in the directors' box to glower in their direction before watching an increasingly inept display in silence.
Grayson did not underplay Leeds's lack of cohesion and spirit. "It was embarrassing, shambolic," he said. "We didn't show passion or desire.
"We had too many players making wrong decisions, playing as individuals rather than collectively as a team.
"Any footballer can have a poor day at the office in terms of passing and giving the ball away but it doesn't stop you running around, and that's a massive downside to our team today. It's embarrassing to be the manager of the club. I take responsibility because it's my players, my team, but one or two of the players might not play for the team again."
Robert Snodgrass, Leeds's most creative force, was absent after an appendix operation. Someone also seemed to have ripped the heart out of the Leeds side.
Vaz Tê put Barnsley ahead with his first meaningful touch, shooting past Andy Lonergan after Patrick Kisnorbo had failed to cope with Craig Davies's direct run. Things could have been worse – Aidy White survived handball appeals after a left-wing cross by Jay McEveley and Darren O'Dea looked a liability.
Leeds's only replies came from a couple of long-range efforts by Ramón Núñez, who was the only player applauded off by the supporters at half-time.
Vaz Tê's second goal came from a corner, an angled shot from beyond the far post as a disorganised central defence left him in yards of space. Grayson tried to pep up Leeds by throwing on Luciano Becchio and Adam Clayton, only for Davies to take advantage of more weak defending to curl in a superb third goal from the edge of the area.
Vaz Tê's hat-trick came 18 minutes from time when he cut in from the left, making light of O'Dea's challenge. Becchio headed in an injury-time reply for Leeds from Núñez's free-kick.
Leeds have not beaten Barnsley since they knocked them out of the FA Cup in 2001, but it is this year's third round that now fills them with dread. As Barnsley's fourth goal flew in, they voiced it. "Bring on the Arsenal," they chanted.