Saturday, March 31, 2012

Yorkshire Post 31/3/12
Promotion helps Leeds to impressive £3.5m profits
LEEDS UNITED made a profit of £3.5m in their first year back in the Championship.
The Elland Road outfit enjoyed a major financial boost by returning to the second tier as gate receipts soared along with central funding from the Football League.
Turnover was up 19 per cent as a result to £32.6m as Leeds saw the total profit the once-troubled club has made since exiting administration in 2007 break through the £10m barrier.
United’s figures, which relate to the year ending June 30, 2011, compare favourably with recent financial trends across English football.
In 2010-11, Nottingham Forest and Bristol City both lost more than £11m after over-stretching themselves in the push for the Premier League.
Sheffield United, meanwhile, lost £13.6m last season.
Following the release of the figures yesterday, Leeds have now made a surplus in four consecutive years with 2007-08 seeing the club make £4.5m.
The following 12 months saw United make £15,000, while in 2009-10 – when promotion from League One was secured – a profit of £2.072m was posted.
Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of the most recent figures, however, is that a surplus was made without having to sell any players.
In 2009-10, for instance, the sale of Fabian Delph turned what would have been an operating loss of £670,000 into a seven-figure surplus.
Players sales were also responsible for the small profit made in the previous year.
Last season, however, United made an operating profit of £939,000 before player sales were taken into account.
A major reason for this was the huge increase in central payments from the League that clubs in the Championship receive compared to those in League One.
For Leeds, this meant a substantial rise from the £757,000 banked in their promotion year to £4,637,000 last term.
Other income that rose considerably once back in the second tier included gate receipts, which were up 8.3 per cent to £12,711,000 – or around 39 per cent of turnover.
Taking Arsenal to an FA Cup replay also boosted the Elland Road coffers due to both ties being shown live on television.
Costs also rose following promotion to the Championship with the wage bill rising significantly from £7.7m to £11.6m.
The rent on Elland Road and Thorp Arch also went up during the year – a rise is factored in every October as part of the 25-year lease signed in 2004 – but these increases were more than offset by the extra income promotion brought.
One recent outlay not included in the figures released yesterday was the cost of building the new East Stand extension, which opened just before Christmas.
According to Leeds City Council’s planning documents last summer, the cost of the work was around £7.5m. United have taken out a loan of £5m to part-fund the development, suggesting they were able to cover a third of the money from existing club funds.
Yesterday’s figures also revealed Leeds City Holdings, the parent company of Leeds United, made an overall profit of £2.98m on turnover of £34.445m. Operating profit was £509,000. Last season saw Leeds finish seventh in the Championship.
Yorkshire Post 30/3/12
Warnock gets his building underway and looks to keep five as foundations
By Richard Sutcliffe
NEIL Warnock has held provisional talks with five of Leeds United’s key players about possible new contracts.
The United manager sat down with Robert Snodgrass, Ross McCormack, Adam Clayton, Aidy White and Darren O’Dea earlier this week to discuss their future plans.
White will be out of contract this summer and O’Dea is due to return to Celtic after a year-long loan stay at Elland Road. Snodgrass, McCormack and Clayton all have a little over 12 months remaining on their existing deals.
Warnock, who is keen to finalise his plans for next season as early as possible, told the Yorkshire Post: “They are just provisional talks and I am going to put together certain things. Then, when the chairman comes over at Easter I hope to have a meeting with him and tell him my views on all five players, including Darren O’Dea.
“I have talked to them all. I have explained my situation – about what I feel about their contribution. I have also said that if we can’t agree anything then I accept in certain cases they might have to go.
“But at the moment we haven’t talked about that. I just want them all to stay.”
On the need to formulate plans early for the 2012-13 campaign, Warnock added: “We have got to be positive this year and we have got to sign players at the end of this season, not in August.
“This has got to be a massive summer. There is no way I can put up with inconsistency or mid-table next season. That’s not my scene at my age.
“In the past we have let little things drift a little too much but you realise that you’ve got to plan ahead.
“There are lads who I have asked to pledge their future to the club and I will be putting that to Shaun (Harvey, chief executive) and the chairman (Ken Bates) at Easter.
“It is a great pull having a club like Leeds United. If you can agree terms, I don’t think there is another club I would want to go to if I was a player – not with fans like we have got and the stadium. And the manager.”
Warnock’s determination to thrash out the futures of five players who, between them, have played 193 games this season is understandable.
In the past couple of years, Leeds have lost Jermaine Beckford, Bradley Johnson and Neil Kilkenny as free agents after failing to agree new contracts with the trio.
Max Gradel and Jonny Howson also left earlier this term due to both players having less than a year to run on their deals.
Sitting down with McCormack, Snodgrass and Clayton was, therefore, a priority for Warnock, as was speaking to White about whether the left-back can be persuaded to stay beyond the end of this season.
However, the news that he has also discussed the future with O’Dea is more of a surprise – especially considering the United manager is still upset with the manner in which the Republic of Ireland international incurred a two-game ban at Millwall last weekend by picking up a 10th booking of the season.
O’Dea, who collected the yellow card following a tangle with Lions striker Andy Keogh, must sit out tomorrow’s home game against Watford and the Good Friday trip to Reading.
Warnock said: “It is a bloody soft suspension. If he had gone to the referee instead of walking away, he wouldn’t have booked him.
“What is the point in that? It is bloody stupid and now it will affect us.
“He will be sat at home with a lollipop with not a care in the world, while we are fighting fights.
“It is irresponsible and I don’t like that. If he would have gone straight to the referee he wouldn’t have got booked.”
Leigh Bromby and Andy O’Brien came through a behind-closed-doors reserve game unscathed earlier this week but will not be risked in tomorrow’s match with Watford.
White is a major doubt after not training yesterday due to an ankle injury.
Warnock added: “He went over on it at Millwall but we coped well.”

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Observer 24/3/12
Leeds get lucky as Ross McCormack's goal seals victory over Millwall
John Ashdown at The Den
Neil Warnock could afford a wry smile after watching his side keep their slim Championship play-off hopes alive. "The winners today were the two sets of fans," said the Leeds manager. "They were amazing from the touchline, the noise they made. It's a fabulous arena for a match, apart from the cold water in the showers afterwards. You'd think they'd fix it in two years. I've never had a warm shower here."
Regardless of water temperatures in the away dressing room, this fixture is something of an oddity on the football calendar – it has the tone and atmosphere of a derby, despite the clubs being separated by 200 miles.
Victory or defeat is the important thing, rather than the effect either has on the league table. Nevertheless, Ross McCormack's goal midway through the second half took Leeds to within three points of the play-offs (although those above have games in hand), while Millwall are five clear of the bottom three. Even so, only optimists and pessimists in the respective camps will envision their sides starting next season in a different division.
Warnock was not alone in enjoying the rambunctious nature of the day. "It's a passionate place, that's its appeal," said the Millwall manager, Kenny Jackett. "I love it, it's terrific. It has got that passion and it was there today. Not to me, because I'm disappointed, but to a neutral I'm sure it was a great game."
Sadly, in this regard, Jackett was mistaken. There was that raucous derby noise off the pitch, but a typically derby-esque scrap on it – a few feisty exchanges could not disguise the overall shortage of craft. The only moment of quality was enough to secure all three points, Robert Snodgrass's perfectly delayed pass to McCormack giving the striker a simple chance to bundle home from a couple of yards out.
Much of the rest was sound and fury. It took 80 seconds for the game to ignite. Snodgrass went thundering into a challenge with Millwall's Jack Smith and arrived late. Fans bayed for red, players surrounded the referee, Lee Probert, but the official remained calm and, once the dust had settled, issued the yellow card that the tackle probably warranted.
Either side of half-time frustration spilled into aggression. Millwall's Andy Keogh and Darren O'Dea of Leeds were the first to square up. Jimmy Abdou and Adam Clayton followed suit, then the home captain, Paul Robinson, and Luciano Becchio went briefly nose to nose. Tensions simmered constantly, but thankfully never boiled over.
Jackett might have done post-match after seeing his side denied an immediate equaliser to McCormack's 65th-minute strike. Within seconds of the goal, Millwall's Andy Keogh was tripped in the area and though Harry Kane lashed home the loose ball, Probert's premature whistle meant the home side had to score again from the spot. Darius Henderson failed to do so thanks to a superb low stop by Andy Lonergan.
The Millwall manager, though, was typically phlegmatic. "Usually you get the benefit of doubt," he said. "But there's nothing I can do about it now."
Soon after the penalty miss, Robinson's header clattered the underside of the bar from a corner, but the home side failed to muster the frenetic finish the atmosphere deserved
For Warnock and Leeds it was a fine response to the 7-3 humbling by Nottingham Forest at Elland Road on Tuesday. They were over-cautious at times – conceding seven at home to relegation-threatened opposition can do that to a side – but at least showed an appetite for the battle that was lacking in midweek.
"The thing about the Championship is you need to know what you're going to get out of your players every game," said Warnock. "I'm learning about these players all the time. And the crowd – what can you say? They're hostile, they gave me some stick. I think it's great. I hope they stay up because I like Millwall. Apart from the showers."
Yorkshire Evening Post 23/3/12
Warnock set to clear decks
By Phil Hay
Leeds United manager Neil Warnock will look for a major overhaul of his squad this summer after spelling out his financial requirements to chairman Ken Bates.
Warnock has revealed that a clearing of the decks is planned at Thorp Arch in preparation for an all-out attempt to win promotion from the Championship next season.
The Leeds boss outlined his future vision with the Elland Road club struggling to qualify for this year’s play-offs.
United travel to Millwall on Saturday, the first of eight remaining games, with a six-point gap to overcome, and Warnock played down their chances of mustering the form needed to make promotion possible
The 63-year-old said he had identified players he intends to sign ahead of another term in the Championship, and he has already spoken with Bates and Leeds chief executive Shaun Harvey to outline the wage bill and budget he requires to take the club into the Premier League next season.
Warnock saw winning promotion with Leeds as his “last big challenge” after becoming their new boss last month and he has vowed to retire from management when his contract expires at the end of the 2012-13 term. He admitted to doubts about the ability of his current squad in the wake of a record 7-3 defeat to Nottingham Forest on Tuesday but insisted United’s supporters “believe I can remedy this. That’s how I feel when I talk to them.”
But asked whether he felt he could solve Leeds’ inconsistency and disappointing league position, Warnock said: “Without being cruel, I don’t think we’ve got enough tools in the cupboard at the moment.
“I’d think there would be quite a lot of changes over the next few months. That’s how I see it. The whole club has to do that together – the chairman, the staff, everyone. We all need to pull together.
“I’ve got three or four players I’d like to bring in in the summer and it’s just a matter of getting a wage bill that’s sustainable and which the chairman agrees with.
“I’ve told Shaun and the chairman what I think I would need to get promotion next year. They’re quite clear in their minds that they’re going to try and provide that for me. It’s the only chance we’ve got.
“I don’t want to waste a year of anybody’s time. I haven’t got a year. Everything’s been positive in our talks.”
Warnock’s first six matches as manager produced a series of encouraging performances but only one win, and he looked on as Leeds conceded seven goals at home for the first time in their history against Forest on Tuesday night.
Speaking ahead of the clash with Millwall, Warnock said: “I don’t know what’s around the corner at the moment. I don’t know whether I’m going to find a bag full of tricks or a bag full of wet, old newspapers. I haven’t got a clue.
“Am I asking for consistency that some lads can’t maintain? Am I asking certain lads to do more than they can do? All these questions I’ve got to look at.
“It’s a big club, Leeds, and you have to have the right mentality in place. I need a while to sort it out. I could do with two summers!”

Bradford Telegraph & Argus 20/3/12
Neil Warnock 'embarrassed' as Nottingham Forest beat Ell out of Leeds United
Leeds United 3 Nottingham Forest 7
Garath McCleary scored four times as Nottingham Forest humiliated Leeds at Elland Road to leave the home side’s Championship promotion hopes in tatters.
The Whites looked to be on course for their first home win under Warnock when Robert Snodgrass slotted home an early penalty but a stunning strike from on-loan midfielder Adlene Guedioura and McCleary’s first goal of a memorable evening gave Forest a half-time lead.
Dexter Blackstock made it 3-1 early in the second half but Leeds fought back with two goals in as many minutes from Luciano Becchio and Michael Brown to draw level.
Forest were not to be denied, though, and they ran riot against a poor Leeds defence as the hugely impressive McCleary struck three times in the space of 15 minutes to stun the Leeds faithful.
Blackstock added a seventh goal as Forest gave their hopes of avoiding relegation a massive boost and left Leeds – who conceded seven goals in a league game at Elland Road for the first time in their history – shell-shocked.
Warnock cut a dejected figured in the technical area as he was taunted by the Forest fans and on this evidence his hopes of securing a play-off place will have to wait until next season.
He admitted he was cringing as the goals flew in.
“I’m quite embarrassed about the result,” said Warnock. “But I don’t think you learn much about your players when you’re winning, you learn things when things go against you, who stands up and who you want in the trenches with you.
“I’ve learnt probably more than I have in the other games, but in fairness some of them were just shattered.
“We’re a bit thin on the ground, but I don’t think the centre-backs played poorly, I just thought every shot was going to go in.
“We’ve fought back really well but the fourth goal was terrible, it was a Sunday League goal. You’ve got to be stronger mentally in certain areas to avoid results like that.”
Guardian 20/3/12
Nottingham Forest score seven to humiliate Leeds in Championship
Garath McCleary scored four times as Nottingham Forest humiliated Leeds at Elland Road to leave the home side's Championship promotion hopes in tatters.
Leeds looked to be on course for their first home win under Neil Warnock when Robert Snodgrass slotted home an early penalty, but a stunning strike from the on-loan midfielder Adlène Guedioura and McCleary's first goal of a memorable evening gave Forest a half-time lead.
Dexter Blackstock made it 3-1 early in the second half but Leeds fought back with two goals in as many minutes from Luciano Becchio and Michael Brown to draw level.
Forest were not to be denied, though, and they ran riot against a poor Leeds defence as the hugely impressive McCleary struck three times in the space of 15 minutes to stun the home faithful.
Blackstock added a seventh goal as Forest gave their hopes of avoiding relegation a huge boost and left Leeds shell-shocked.
Warnock cut a dejected figured in the technical area as he was taunted by the Forest fans and on this evidence his hopes of securing promotion will have to wait until next season.
Leeds were in front after just four minutes, when Ross McCormack skipped past a Forest defender before being bundled over by Guedioura and Snodgrass emphatically dispatched the resulting spot-kick into the top-right corner of the net.
Forest were level within just three minutes, with Guedioura making amends for giving away the penalty by unleashing a venomous right-foot drive from 35 yards out which gave the Leeds goalkeeper Andy Lonergan no chance.
McCleary was a constant menace and it came as no surprise when he gave Forest the lead in first-half stoppage time as Leeds were caught on the break. Guedioura picked out the advancing McCleary, whose right-foot strike was palmed into the air by Lonergan and found the far corner of the net.
Leeds were booed off at half-time and whatever Warnock said at the break clearly fell on deaf ears as Forest increased their lead just six minutes into the second half when Andy Reid's inviting cross was headed home by Blackstock.
But Leeds were back in it a minute later, when Becchio slotted home from close range after being picked out by Snodgrass. And they were level just two minutes later, when Brown fired into the bottom-right corner with a fine right-foot half-volley to stun Forest.
But the home side always looked vulnerable at the back and they were only level for around a minute, as McCleary latching on to a neat Blackstock flick and drilled a clinical right-foot strike past Lonergan.
Leeds could simply not handle the Forest winger and he deservedly completed his hat-trick after just 58 minutes, slotting home with his right foot after being picked out by Reid.
Camp produced a fine save to deny Snodgrass in the 69th minutes, before the outstanding McCleary ended Leeds's hopes of mounting another fightback when he beat his man and found the far corner with a measured left-foot finish.
Leeds's embarrassing evening got even worse 10 minutes from time, when Blackstock slotted home his second goal of the evening with his left foot to prompt a mass exodus.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Yorkshire Evening Post 19/3/12
Late agony for brave Whites
By Phil Hay
More than anything else, Neil Warnock wanted to avoid appreciation of a gallant defeat. But the sound of Leeds United being applauded from the field after drawing with West Ham United was just as unpalatable.
There are worse results to be had in the Championship but this of all results will hurt the club and hurt their manager. Warnock had much to be proud of and much to appreciate but the middle of March, as he said himself, is not the time for excusing precious points lost.
For the briefest of moments it was, as the late ITV commentator Brian Moore once said, up for grabs. Promotion back on and a season-defining win all but sealed against the biggest-hitting Championship club; the afternoon as Warnock visualised it.
Everything about Saturday’s game against West Ham appealed to him: the history behind it, the stature of the clubs involved and the promise of the Midas touch exactly when Leeds needed it. After 83 minutes of unremarkable but powerful sparring, Luciano Becchio poached his second goal in a week and took the match by the throat.
A grin spread across Warnock’s face and the crowd he sought – in excess of 33,000 and the largest at a league game at Elland Road for 18 months – struggled to contain itself, daring to believe in a previously hopeless term. When Danny Collins equalised in the final time of normal time, the weight of the blow was withering.
Warnock put on a brave face afterwards but was nonetheless aggrieved; aggrieved that a team with so many problems a month ago had passed up a telling win, and aggrieved that referee Peter Walton stood idle when Carlton Cole collided with Darren O’Dea as Collins rose to score.
West Ham were worth their point, according to Sam Allardyce and most others watching, but their efforts on target numbered three. “I’ve never been this disappointed,” Warnock said. “Or if I have, I can’t remember when.”
Sixth place is on the horizon still, five points away rather than four, but the trek there will be arduous. Twenty-two points from a possible 30 was Leeds’ target before the weekend. Twenty-one points from a possible 27 is now the order of their final nine fixtures. “You’ve got to win games like this,” said Warnock in frustration.
Becchio’s strike and Collins’ reply were two of the few moments when the match broke free of the competitive mayhem generated by a passionate crowd. In an atmosphere so expectant, the football could only be manic and fierce, and it was from the the off.
Jack Collison introduced himself to Adam Clayton by sliding through the midfielder’s legs and Clayton returned the challenge with interest in front of Walton, just in case the official thought he might glide under the radar.
Paul Robinson and Michael Brown upped the ante with brutal tackles in the second half.
For as long the game remained unsettled, chances to score were fleeting and scrambled. West Ham’s first came courtesy of an error by goalkeeper Andy Lonergan, whose clearance struck the head of Nicky Maynard before bouncing to safety, and a shot from Tom Lees deflected wide off the legs of Kevin Nolan at the other end. They were exploratory punches in a heavyweight contest.
Leeds found soon enough that when they pushed West Ham’s defence, gaps appeared. Abdoulaye Faye stood up to Robert Snodgrass at the fourth attempt after the winger cut back and forward through the visitors’ box, and Collins plucked a convertible opportunity off the feet of Ross McCormack eight yards from goal.
But Warnock was wise enough to expect trouble of his own and Lonergan succeeded in averting it after 23 minutes when Matt Taylor’s pass ran kindly to Maynard, vacant between Robinson and Darren O’Dea. Maynard’s first touch was heavy and Lonergan met him on the edge of his box, parrying the ball and then gathering it at the second attempt.
Warnock’s tactics were as laid out by his first four matches as manager – hassle without the ball, be sensible with it. West Ham tried to exert themselves, prompted by the driving runs of James Tomkins in the centre of midfield, but there was no scope for bulling Leeds. Those days appear to have passed.
A goal eluded Snodgrass by inches before half-time when Taylor handled 20 yards from West Ham’s goal and Snodgrass whipped the free-kick past Robert Green’s far post.
Clayton, too, lacked a small amount of accuracy when Faye sent a clearing header spinning into his own area, and Snodgrass had the ball in the net in injury-time, only for Walton to spot a foul by Becchio. Warnock made no attempt to argue and bounded towards the tunnel with a spring in his step when the interval came.
Tomkins – West Ham’s most intuitive player – was less mobile, taking a kick in the last minute of the half and limping from the field long after the rest of the players. He did not reappear for the second half.
That half started like a game of chess, and Allardyce waited 10 minutes before asking Carlton Cole to end Maynard’s unproductive shift as a lone striker. Cole’s first useful act was to clip a cross narrowly in front of Taylor six yards from goal as the game gathered pace again, and his close-range header which failed to test Lonergan wasted an inviting free-kick from Taylor.
It was rather Green, one of two England internationals on the field, who pulled off the most notable save with 19 minutes left, diving to meet Paul Connolly’s glancing header with both hands. Tense as the game was, it was still an afternoon when both keepers were left in relative peace.
Brown started a superficial scuffle soon after by aggressively fouling Tomkins’ replacement, Gary O’Neil, but the argument of the day seemed to have been settled in the 83rd minute when Connolly nodded a Snodgrass cross against the bar and Becchio followed up to cushion the rebound into the net.
Yet West Ham’s resilience abounded and when Mark Noble stabbed a corner deep into Lonergan’s box with suspicions of fouls everywhere, Collins looped a header over the stranded keeper and found the far corner of the net.
Allardyce smiled a knowing smile as a post mortem began in United’s penalty area. When full-time came, Brown grabbed the ball in anger and hacked it the full length of the field.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Independent 18/3/12
Collins' last-minute strike denies Leeds victory
Leeds United 1 West Ham United 1
Simon Hart
Elland Road attracted its biggest attendance for 18 months but for long periods of a contest high on sweat but low on sparkle, the 33,366 present could have been forgiven for wondering what all the expectation had been about.
Eventually, a game that appeared to be meandering to a goalless draw came to life in an exciting denouement as Luciano Becchio headed Leeds in front before Danny Collins nodded West Ham level in the 90th minute to seal a result that did no favours to anybody.
West Ham may be unbeaten in eight matches but after slipping out of the top two in midweek they lost further ground because of Southampton and Reading's away wins, and they are now three points behind the latter in third.
Sam Allardyce, the visiting manager, was grateful for the point but did bemoan his team's recent run of home draws. "It is not a slip-up today for me, it is a slip-up at home against Palace, Watford and disappointingly Doncaster, that has been the crux – too many draws," he said.
It might have been even worse for West Ham after Leeds struck with seven minutes remaining. When a Robert Snodgrass corner was only partially cleared, the Leeds winger put the ball back into the six-yard box where Robert Green palmed the ball only as far as Paul Connolly at the far post. The full-back headed against the crossbar, with Becchio first to the rebound.
Leeds appeared to have a significant victory in their grasp but instead Danny Collins, West Ham's on-loan Stoke defender, got free of his marker Tom Lees and headed Mark Noble's corner past Andy Lonergan.
Manager Neil Warnock was unhappy with a "blatant push" by Carlton Cole on Darren O'Dea as the corner came over, and voiced his frustration that Leeds' last two home performances, against Southampton and West Ham, had yielded only one point.
"I don't think they had a chance other than the set piece," Warnock said. "I am disappointed because we are running out of games and should have had four wins out of five since I've been here. We have played West Ham and should have won and we battered Southampton but have come away with one point."
There was little to entertain the crown in a scrappy first half. When Taylor handled just outside his box Snodgrass went close with a dead-ball strike that curled just past the far post. Then Adam Clayton was wide with a shot on the turn. On the stroke of half-time Leeds got the ball in the net but Snodgrass's volley from Becchio's flick was ruled out by Peter Walton for a foul by the Argentinian.
West Ham lost James Tomkins, playing in a holding midfield role, after he suffered a trapped nerve, meaning Gary O'Neil came on for the second half in his place. The arrival of Carlton Cole, replacing Maynard in the 56th minute, "made a difference" according to Allardyce and certainly the visitors were now carrying a greater threat, as both Abdoulaye Faye and Cole himself went close with headers from set pieces.
Allardyce also introduced Ravel Morrison, whose two goals for the club's development squad in midweek earned him his first senior outing since joining West Ham from Manchester United in January.
With 20 minutes remaining, Green made his first save of a tight second period to keep out a Paul Connolly header and the tension threatened to boil over with an outbreak of handbags after Michael Brown's late tackle on O'Neil. Allardyce admitted his team are "a little edgier" after falling out of the promotion places but hopes for better at home against Middlesbrough on Tuesday.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Mail 17/3/12
Leeds 1 West Ham 1: Desperate Danny's last-gasp leveller floors hosts

Loan defender Danny Collins scored a vital last-minute equaliser to earn West Ham what could prove to be a vital point at Leeds, as they extended their unbeaten run to eight games.
When Luciano Becchio nodded Leeds ahead with seven minutes to go, the ever-changing npower Championship promotion picture was not looking too favourable for the Hammers, with top two rivals Southampton and Reading both winning.
But, right on cue, Collins rose the highest to head in a Mark Noble corner and peg Leeds back in an act of damage limitation for Sam Allardyce's men, who are now five points off the lead and three points shy of second.
It was just the second goal Leeds have conceded under new manager Neil Warnock and perhaps one of their most costly of the season.
Since the veteran replaced Simon Grayson a month ago, a renewed play-off push had seemed a possibility.
A win was needed, though, and until Collins struck, it seemed they had got it.
Warnock had succeeded in his wish to see Elland Road sold out for the game, but those inside had little to cheer about in a chanceless opening 10 minutes.
Things livened up after that, with Leeds defender Tom Lees' scuffed effort scraping just wide and Robert Snodgrass jinking his way into a shooting position, only to be crowded out.
West Ham's players were then angered by Paul Connolly's tackle on Kevin Nolan - deemed legal by referee Peter Walton - but had more to be concerned about moments later when Nicky Maynard missed the game's first genuine chance.
The striker nipped in ahead of Darren O'Dea to find himself through on Andy Lonergan's goal with 22 minutes gone, but his first touch was heavy and the goalkeeper was able to get out and smother the ball at his feet.
More clever play from Snodgrass then saw him create an angle to set Ross McCormack free but Matt Taylor nicked possession from him, before Snodgrass flashed a free-kick from the corner of the box just wide of the post.
Maynard's chance remained the best going into the break, though, but both sides had cause for complaint when the whistle was blown, with West Ham claiming a handball in the box against Michael Brown and Leeds confused as to why Snodgrass' touch beyond Robert Green was ruled out for apparent pushing by Becchio.
The Hammers had to replace James Tomkins, so effective in the sweeper position, at half-time, and his replacement, Gary O'Neil, skimmed an effort just wide within 60 seconds of his introduction.
With Maynard isolated and getting little change out of Lees and O'Dea, Allardyce opted to replace him with the more physical Carlton Cole and the former England striker nearly made an immediate impact, putting a ball across the six yard box that evaded everyone.
A couple of thundering tackles from loan defender Paul Robinson then helped whip up the home crowd, but it was West Ham who continued to probe with greater intent - Abdoulaye Faye nodding wide from a corner and Lonergan denying O'Neil after Jack Collison's shot flew loose.
Cole then arched a header over the bar from a Noble free-kick, before Green was forced to make his first save in the 70th minute when he showed terrific reactions to turn away a Connolly header.
Connolly rarely ventures into opposition territory but, when he did again with 83 minutes on the clock, it created the opening goal.
Snodgrass' cross got to the back post, Connolly headed against the bar and the ball fell to Becchio who did the rest.
The lead would only last seven minutes for the home side, though, as West Ham secured a deserved point when Collins connected with Noble's well-taken corner.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012 12/3/12
Taylor links up with Millwall...
Leeds United goalkeeper Maik Taylor has joined Millwall on loan until the end of the season.
The 40-year-old Northern Ireland international, who has made almost 600 career appearances and last featured for his country in October, joined United on a short-term deal shortly before Christmas.
Maik, who signed an extension until the end of the season in January, hasn't made a senior appearance and has been an unused substitute on 12 occasions.
Maik will join Millwall to provide competition for David Forde with the Lions other goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall currently sidelined due to injury.
Fellow goalkeeper Paul Rachubka is also currently out on loan, at League One club Leyton Orient.
Yorkshire Evening Post 12/3/12
Middlebrough v Leeds United: The season is not over yet!
By Phil Hay
The end of Leeds United’s season has been nigh for some time, but the club are not going quietly into the night. Not while Neil Warnock has any say in how long or hard they fight.
Defeat at The Riverside might have done for Leeds and their pretensions of contesting the Championship play-offs, but an immaculate win over Middlesbrough will make the division wonder. Unlikely yes but not impossible. What is impossible when Warnock’s nous takes hold in this league?
The worry for him before yesterday’s game was that Leeds under his management had regained their defensive aptitude while forgetting how to score. A win of near embarrassing ease against a club nine points better off displayed no such problems or lack of balance, sealed by Robert Snodgrass, Luciano Becchio and another clean sheet.
Ninety minutes on Teesside delivered some of the most complete football played by Leeds since their restoration to the Championship almost two years ago, and Snodgrass and Becchio savaged Middlesbrough in the first half-hour. The home crowd soon began to bite with the same ferocity, upset by the mis-match in front of them, and a late red card shown to Barry Robson was an apt coup de grace.
As Southampton did after their lucky win at Elland Road nine days ago, Boro and their manager, Tony Mowbray, will ask how they can reach such depths of mediocrity while holding fourth position in the Championship this late in the season. They were poor yesterday and made to look poor.
Warnock sought much from The Riverside but he did not expect to oversee a cakewalk. Boro, or so he claimed beforehand, possess a “great chance” of winning promotion. Theirs is better than United’s even after yesterday’s result, but Leeds are threatening to make their run-in interesting at a time when their players seemed free to begin planning summer holidays.
The game of sudden-death rolls on to this Saturday when West Ham United visit Elland Road. They will find Leeds as bubbly as they were when the clubs squared off at Upton Park in August.
The conditions on Teesside were as perfect as conditions can be in early March – warm, still and helped by a pitch far removed from the battered surface Leeds endured at Hull City last Tuesday. The day offered Boro no mitigating factors beyond their ineptitude and the conviction of the team sharing their stadium.
Sombre appreciation was offered beforehand during a minute’s applause for Jack Watson, a Middlesbrough scout who died this week at the age of 90, and the six soldiers of the Yorkshire Regiment killed in Afghanistan. Perspective given and well received, the game’s context remained unchanged.
Leeds in particular, and in the opinion of Mowbray, required a victory at The Riverside to save their season from a meaningless end, and the urgency of Warnock’s players embraced that pressure. They did not delay in cutting to the chase.
Holes in Boro’s defence gaped wide from the outset and their midfield went missing just as quickly. Leeds attacked them willingly and Ross McCormack sliced the ball wide after Becchio’s flicked header dropped kindly to him. During United’s next attack, an over-hit pass from Snodgrass pushed McCormack out wide with the striker free in the box and calling for another invitation to shoot.
Boro’s tentative attitude was at odds with a team whose previous five matches produced four wins and whose strength was maintained by the recovery of every one of Mowbray’s fitness doubts. Before long, Robson was arguing with a member of Boro’s coaching staff on the touchline and the inevitable happened in the 18th minute.
Joe Bennett, Mowbray’s left-back, misjudged a high ball and headed it to Aidan White, recalled by Warnock in place of Danny Webber. The 20-year-old lifted his head and waited for Snodgrass to arrive and slot his pass under the body of goalkeeper Jason Steele. Leeds had been threatening that and Boro had it coming.
The goal was United’s first with Warnock as manager, 288 competitive minutes after he officially took charge, and it suited his strategy perfectly, allowing Leeds to depend on their rapidly improving defence. Under their previous boss, a single goal at The Riverside would have guaranteed nothing. Yesterday, Snodgrass’ strike was United’s ticket to an essential win.
Repeatedly, their energy pushed Boro over the edge. Paul Robinson, on his debut, turned back Lukas Jutkiewicz with an uncompromising challenge inside United’s box and Adam Clayton ran Nicky Bailey into touch to the sound of appreciative applause from Warnock. Soon after, with 28 minutes played, Leeds struck again.
The goal was as generous as Snodgrass’, gifted to them when Justin Hoyte failed to put his foot through a delicate pass from Becchio. McCormack seized possession and squared the ball into an empty six-yard box where Becchio was waiting to do the rest. Hoyte lay full length on the turf, desperate for it to swallow him.
Marvin Emnes looked as sheepish when Robinson flattened him unceremoniously on the left wing, and the full-back appeared on his goalline to prevent the resulting corner from curling inside the near post. It was Boro’s misfortune to be reduced to recording such speculative chances.
Leeds in contrast could have scored for a third time when Becchio drilled Michael Brown’s chipped pass into the ground and over the crossbar, again without a defender near him, and White’s rash volley wasted an even better opportunity to score.
Mowbray spent as much time staring at the ground as he did the pitch, bewildered by his team’s no-show before half-time.
Early in the second half, Snodgrass stretched the side-netting after Andy Lonergan’s long clearance bounced easily through to McCormack, giving the impression that Boro’s concentration was at home in bed.
Rhys Williams nodded a Robson free-kick wide but Warnock barely flinched at the sight of a first Boro chance after 53 minutes. There were few others to come.
The rest of the second half was a treat in the spring air for the away crowd of 2,914, and Steele’s parry denied McCormack a deserved goal five minutes from the end.
Robson, meanwhile, compounded a hopeless afternoon for his club by kicking Clayton and earning a straight red card, and Boro’s deflated following left The Riverside with nothing more pleasing than a pre-Easter tan.
It is far from clear where either club will lie in the table when that religious festival arrives.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Mail 11/3/12
Middlesbrough 0 Leeds 2: Warnock's men on play-offs hunt after cruising to away win
Leeds kept their push for a play-off spot alive with an impressive victory over Middlesbrough, Neil Warnock's side cruising to a comfortable three points after two first-half goals.
Robert Snodgrass was the man to bring Warnock his first away goal since he succeeded Simon Grayson in February, dragging the ball underneath Boro keeper Jason Steele in the 18th minute.
Luciano Becchio doubled the lead just nine minutes later following a dreadful mistake by Justin Hoyte. Barry Robson's late dismissal in a tussle with Adam Clayton added insult to injury for Boro.
Despite a much-improved performance in the second half, Tony Mowbray's men were unable to overcome the two-goal deficit and reduce the gap on the automatic promotion places.
Warnock's Leeds, however, remain in 10th place but are now within four points of making a late surge for the play-off places.
A period of applause in tribute to Middlesbrough's long-serving recruitment co-ordinator Jack Watson, who passed away aged 90 yesterday morning, preceded kick-off.
Becchio glanced a header across the box only for Ross McCormack to skew wide under as the visitors poured on the early pressure.
Nicky Bailey drove aimlessly over Andy Lonergan's bar as Leeds sat deep, content to restrict their hosts to speculative efforts.
Lukas Jutkiewicz and Darren O'Dea then clashed heads, the latter coming off worse, and as the action resumed Marvin Emnes bustled into space to clip a promising strike into the away fans.
But the Dutchman's verve failed to inspire Boro and they soon fell behind.
In the 18th minute, O'Dea sprayed a perfectly-weighted ball down the right flank for Aidan White.
The Leeds-born winger dragged the ball across to the waiting Snodgrass, who slotted underneath Steele to register a first Leeds away goal under Warnock's stewardship.
And less than 10 minutes after drawing first blood, Leeds doubled their lead.
Hoyte failed dismally to clear a Becchio through-ball, allowing its intended recipient McCormack to claim ownership and turn the ball across the goalmouth for the Argentinian to coolly convert from six yards.
Robson forced Lonergan to punch behind as Boro pressed to gain a foothold in the game, but it might have been three to the visitors at the break if Becchio had coped better with a glorious long ball into Steele's box.
The Leeds offensive showed no signs of abating as the second half got under way, with Snodgrass quick to ripple the side netting with a fearsome drive that the away fans thought had beaten Steele.
Mowbray had opted to make no substitutions during the interval, but his side's renewed vigour soon showed. Rhys Williams angled a bullet header just wide of a post as Robson lofted a fine free-kick across the goalmouth.
Boro's momentum was interrupted, though, as Williams pulled up following a clash with Becchio, and Leeds took advantage to test Steele once more.
Clayton picked his spot, his dipping drive nicking off Matthew Bates to nestle on the top of the net with the home stopper flat-footed.
The struggling Williams was withdrawn as part of a double substitution after the hour mark, Jutkiewicz also removed as Kevin Thomson and Curtis Main took to the field.
A period of quiet tension preceding the final 20 minutes was only puncuated by a blazing drive beyond the near post from the eager Clayton.
McCormack was just shy of dancing on to a White back-heel in the 73rd minute as Leeds sought to put the game to bed.
But the result was surely beyond Middlesbrough as recent substitute Thomson took a kick to the head, to be replaced by Bart Ogbeche.
And in a final blow to Boro's chances of a late recovery, Robson was shown a straight red card for raising his hands to Clayton as time ticked away at the Riverside.
Leeds rode out the seven minutes of injury time to claim a valuable victory and delight the near 3,000 travelling fans.
Guardian 11/3/12
Robert Snodgrass ends Leeds goal drought as Middlesbrough fall short
Middlesbrough 0 Leeds United 2
Louise Taylor at the Riverside Stadium
The Championship's promotion pretenders will be glancing, nervously, over their shoulders after Neil Warnock's first win as Leeds United's manager propelled his new side back into play-off contention.
Although Leeds remain 10th they are only four points behind sixth-placed Cardiff and six points short of Middlesbrough, who stay fourth. If a top-two position looks well out of reach, few would bet against a Warnock side prevailing in the play-offs.
On a soothingly soporific March day so untypically mild that the visiting manager patrolled his technical area wearing a T-shirt, Tony Mowbray's Boro played as if half asleep. To make matters worse, a frustrated Barry Robson was controversially shown a straight red card late in the second half and will be suspended for three matches.
The familiar strains of "Marching on together" were soon ringing around the Riverside as Leeds fans celebrated the first goal of the Warnock era. As this was the fourth game under Warnock's management one was overdue and it duly arrived thanks to the influential Robert Snodgrass.
When Darren O'Dea launched a long ball forward it was brought down and crossed low by Aidan White, leaving Snograss to direct a shot beyond Jason Steele.
If Joe Bennett, Middlesbrough's uncharacteristically shaky left-back, might have done better against White, the goalkeeper should surely have denied Snodgrass but the way Steele subsequently made a point of shielding his eyes from the low, unseasonably warm March sun suggested he may have been dazzled by its brightness. Either that or he was getting his excuses in early.
Poor Steele was beaten again before half-time. This time Luciano Becchio's low shot was too good for him following the striker's slick, defender-confounding exchange of passes with Ross McCormack. As Warnock celebrated with customary abandon Justin Hoyte hung his head. Mowbray's disappointing right-back knew he should have cut out McCormack's dispatch.
A long way short of their best, Boro were handicapped by the cramping of Robson's customary right-sided midfield style. Inhibited partly by the need to keep an eye on the dangerous Snodgrass and partly by Paul Robinson's defensive attentions, Robson was far from his usually dynamic presence. That said, well into the first half he did deliver Boro's first shot on target, Andy Lonergan doing well to push his fierce volley away for a rare corner.
Otherwise the Leeds goalkeeper was generally well protected by a defence that has tightened appreciably since Warnock's arrival. On the odd occasions when O'Dea and Tom Lees got themselves in a tangle Robinson, newly arrived on loan from Bolton, raced across from left-back to sort things out.
It all spelled frustration for Mowbray's well-policed strikers, Marvin Emnes and Lukas Jutkiewicz, although the latter did direct a close-range header into Lonergan's arms. Warnock's side weathered a spell of fairly intense, if rather blunt, second-half Boro pressure but the home side – who saw the substitute Kevin Thomson taken off after receiving an accidental boot in the face from Adam Clayton – never seriously tested Lonergan.
It got worse for Mowbray when Robson was sent off for raising a retaliatory arm then kicking out slightly during a tussle with Clayton, who was booked. Boro's day was subsequently summed up when Seb Hines missed a sitter from two yards.
All that remained was for choruses of "One Neil Warnock, only one Neil Warnock" to echo in the spring air as, arms folded, Mowbray contemplated his highly polished shoes.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Independent 10/3/12
Neil Warnock: I never realised how big a club Leeds was until I found myself on the inside
What I Learnt This Week
Neil Warnock
There are never enough hours in the day when you join a football club in mid-season, especially in the situation I find myself in at Leeds, where we've one eye on reaching the play-offs this season, the other on building a promotion-winning squad next season, and half-an-eye on what we will need if we do go up this season. Then there's the off-field aspect to sort out as well, like finding somewhere to live.
As I mentioned last week, I've moved into a nice little cottage, and after three weeks at Elland Road there's also been good progress on the football front. Defensively we've been good, only conceding once, to the league leaders, in three games. The problem is we've not scored at the other end. I'm hoping that will change in our televised match at Middlesbrough tomorrow lunchtime.
We certainly won't come closer without scoring than we did against Southampton last week, when we hit the woodwork more than once and their keeper was superb. We were outstanding and that is all I can ask. The atmosphere really whetted the appetite for our next home match, against West Ham, when we won't be far off having 30,000 in the ground.
When you arrive at a club the first thing you need to do is assess what you've inherited – not just the players, the whole set-up. Everyone is important at a football club; you need a united sense of purpose, from the gateman to the centre-forward. So I've got to know Claire, the cleaning lady, who's been here at least since David O'Leary was manager. I said to her: "You've seen a few managers off, and I expect you'll outlast me too."
Every match, every training session, I am learning something about the players. All that information is vital, because as well as trying to pick teams to win matches I need to make a decision on players whose contracts are winding down. I've already started speaking to a couple of them as I plan my squad.
Like every manager, I'm always looking to strengthen and I brought in Paul Robinson on loan from Bolton this week. He'll add experience and leadership to our defence. I'm still looking for other players before the loan deadline.
What has surprised me is just what a big club this is. You don't appreciate it until you are on the inside. We've supporters' clubs all over, from Ireland to Dubai. Every night there is a function to do with supporters. You want to go to them all so you can get to know people and get a feel of the club, but that's impossible.
I've really enjoyed it, though it's in at the deep end. On the way to Hull someone said to me: "This is Hull's biggest game of the season, a Yorkshire derby, and it'll be Middlesbrough's biggest on Sunday." Then they added: "And we still have to go to Millwall and Cardiff." I'll have to get my crash helmet out again.
I've been enjoying being back in the Yorkshire weather. Last weekend Sharon and the kids came up and I took them to the training ground on Sunday morning. What a good welcome. It was snowing, sleeting and minus two degrees. There were under-nine, under-11 and under-13s scheduled and all had to be cancelled. It was so cold some of the under-nines were crying as they went through a warm-up!
We then went in to Wetherby, which is a lovely town, and did some shopping. Guess what Amy bought amid the snow and freezing weather. A pair of shorts and a bikini.
Yorkshire Evening Post 10/3/12
First goal of Warnock’s reign would suit desperate Webber INTERVIEW
By Phil Hay
Having purged Leeds United of their defensive sins, Neil Warnock wants a goal.
Numerous members of his squad would fancy themselves to supply it but none are more keen to do so than Warnock’s first signing, Danny Webber.
The drought under Warnock is barely even that – long enough for him to acknowledge it but not yet serious enough to represent a problem. Three games and 270 minutes have passed since Luciano Becchio pole-axed Doncaster Rovers with an injury-time winner three weeks ago.
Webber, in contrast, last experienced the sensation of scoring in January 2010, during a Premier League fixture between Portsmouth and West Ham United. A forward like him could be consumed by the need to scratch the itch and if Warnock’s first goal as Leeds manager comes at Middlesbrough tomorrow, Webber would delight in claiming it.
“I’m dying for a goal,” he said. “It’s been a long time since it happened and I want to hit the back of the net again. I’d like to remember the feeling.
“The gaffer’s been having a bit of a jest about us not scoring under him yet, but the lads have scored enough times this season to know the goals will come. If we maintain our work-rate and keep clean sheets then the goals will flow, I’m sure of that.
“But the gaffer’s doing the right thing by getting the basics in place first. There’s no point scoring three times if the opposition score four.”
Warnock took that view after watching Becchio’s goal earn a win over Doncaster in the ninth minute of stoppage time.
Watching from the West Stand at Elland Road, hours after agreeing to become United’s new boss, he found it hard to imagine that a team a porous as Leeds would ever meet his defensive needs. He was as surprised as anyone to see a clean sheet registered at Portsmouth the following weekend and again at Hull City on Tuesday night.
The results so far have demonstrated what Warnock will bring to Elland Road over the duration of his contract – organisation, discipline and rigid structure. What they have failed to do is give the club a greater chance of promotion than they had when Simon Grayson, Warnock’s predecessor, was sacked on the first day of February.
There was never more than a faint chance of Warnock conjuring a run to the Championship play-offs over the short course of 14 games. The possibility was so remote that he will take his squad to Middlesbrough believing anything less than a victory on Teesside will essentially bring their season to an end.
Webber could be part of United’s line-up again having unexpectedly appeared from the start of Tuesday’s derby at the KC Stadium.
Warnock claimed before the game he was unsure of Webber’s ability to complete 90 minutes – the forward was without a club for eight months before joining Leeds a fortnight ago – but Webber saw out a scrappy goalless draw in East Yorkshire.
After making his debut in last weekend’s defeat to Southampton, an evening when he had two excellent chances to score, he already feels that his short-term opportunity is gathering speed.
The former Manchester United trainee is not new to Warnock’s management but the past two weeks have reminded him about the 63-year-old’s finer attributes.
“There’s no beating around the bush,” Webber said. “With him it’s exactly what it says on the tin. If you’re not pulling your weight he’ll tell you: ‘pull your finger out!’
“But he knows how to manage players and man-management is probably the biggest thing.
“There are managers who get a lot of out a bunch of players who aren’t necessarily the most technical. On the other hand, there are managers who don’t have good man-management skills and can’t get a lot out of very good players.
“If you do what he asks and do what’s necessary then you’ll get his backing. He’s always like that, whether you’re going through good times or bad times. It’s why so many of his teams have had so much success.”
Webber’s inclusion in the starting line-up at Hull was a surprise to many. It was certainly a surprise to him, four days after his first competitive appearance of the season.
He had featured for little over half-an-hour of Leeds’ unlucky defeat to Southampton, impressing in the time given to him, but did not anticipate a better chance to materialise so soon.
Asked if he was aware of Warnock’s plans against Hull, Webber said: “No, not at all. It surprised me.
“The gaffer told me at five o’clock before the game and just said ‘I’m going to play you – are you up to it?’
“I said ‘yeah’ and I was always going to say that. I need games and I need as many minutes on the pitch as I can. Sometimes it’s easier being told late because there no time to think. An hour or so later you’re out there warming up and then an hour after that you’re playing. You don’t get side-tracked.
“I blew a gasket after 75 minutes but I’m really pleased to have got through 90. You can’t replicate match fitness through training alone. I’m just dying for a goal now.”
Whether it arrives tomorrow, against a club who tried to sign Webber in 2009, remains to be seen but a first victory of Warnock’s reign is imperative if Leeds are to make something of a season which has rarely shown great promise since it began at Southampton on August 6.
Boro’s advantage over Leeds has grown to nine points in the past month and today’s Championship fixtures are likely to nudge United further adrift of sixth place than they were after their draw in Hull. Yet Warnock shows no sign of admitting defeat, even while his team’s prospects remain so slim.
“The manager’s put the fight back in the team,” said Webber.
“I also think there are lads here who are realising they’ve got a lot more fight in them than they thought they had. It’s good to see everyone pulling together.
“For me, that’s made it much easier to settle in. I’ve been accepted and it’s great being part of something like this, gearing up and looking to go forward.”

Friday, March 09, 2012

Yorkshire Evening Post 9/3/12
Robinson’s joy at Whites move INTERVIEW
By Phil Hay
Paul Robinson hopes his transfer to Leeds United will mark a fresh start in his career as he faces up to a “big decision” over his future this summer.
Robinson, who signed for Leeds on loan from Bolton Wanderers this week, spoke of his delight at moving to Elland Road after enduring a period of frustration and inactivity with his parent club.
The left-back last started a league game for Bolton on Boxing Day when he played in a 2-0 defeat to Newcastle United, but he is in contention to make his United debut in Sunday’s must-win Championship match at Middlesbrough.
Robinson is approaching the end of his time at the Reebok Stadium with his contract set to expire at the end of the season, and Leeds manager Neil Warnock signed him initially until April 9 with a view to keeping the defender at Elland Road next term.
Robinson – 33 years old and a veteran of more than 500 senior appearances for Bolton, West Bromwich Albion and Watford – said he was open-minded about a permanent deal with United but vowed to consider his options carefully when the campaign ends.
“I wanted to get out and play football,” Robinson said. “I wanted get a fresh start and see some new faces. This is all about enjoying my football again.
“I was getting frustrated at Bolton, not playing when I thought I should be. That’s football and you deal with it in different ways. I’d go in, work my socks off and not get anywhere.
“For me, the most frustrating thing for a player is when you’re working hard and not getting anywhere. Then it’s a no-brainer to go and get some football somewhere else.
“I’m out of contract in the summer and I’m looking for a club. It’s a big decision for me as I’ve done a lot of travelling over the last three years and it would be nice to be close to the family again.
“My family are in Birmingham and it’s difficult when you are not around the kids. But you never know, and things in football always change. I’ll have a big decision to make at the end of the season but at the moment I’m not thinking about that. I’m just concentrating on what’s happening with Leeds.”
Robinson has been with Bolton since 2010 when he ended seven years of creditable service at West Brom by moving to Lancashire.
He appeared regularly in Wanderers’ defence last season but has struggled to hold down a place in Owen Coyle’s side since August.
Warnock identified Robinson as a loan target after becoming United’s manager last month and he completed the signing ahead of Tuesday’s match at Hull City, where Robinson sat as an unused substitute.
Robinson said: “I read about it (the move to Leeds) a few times in the papers but didn’t really take any notice. Nothing was happening.
“But I got a phone call from Neil and he wanted me to come on loan. I couldn’t say no because he’s such a great character. You want to work for that sort of person. That was it for me and I wanted to get out and play football again.
“I’ve played against Neil’s teams before and he’s always been on the touchline shouting at me. It’ll make a change being on the same side as him!
“He’s a great character and football needs that type of person. You can see what the game means to him – he’s on the touchline trying to win every ball and encouraging everyone. It’s great for me to be around someone like that
“I just want to get my head down now, work hard and hopefully get this club into the play-offs where they belong. It’s a massive club and I know the expectations are high. Hopefully we can deliver.”
Yorkshire Evening Post 8/3/12
Warnock’s happy with his defenders O’Dea and Lees
By Phil Hay
Leeds United boss Neil Warnock could call off his search for new centre-backs after giving a vote of confidence to current pairing Tom Lees and Darren O’Dea.
Warnock is considering sticking with Lees and O’Dea for the rest of the season on the back of their performances in his first three games as manager.
The 63-year-old planned to make changes to the centre of his defence after taking charge last month, and he recently expressed an interest in loaning Leicester City’s Matt Mills until the end of the season.
His hunt for fresh blood was encouraged by United’s poor defensive record but the club have leaked just one goal in their last three outings – conceded in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Southampton – and Lees and O’Dea have played their part in clean sheets registered against Portsmouth and Hull City.
Warnock’s side are currently struggling to keep themselves in contention for play-off qualification, and the former Queens Park Rangers boss is expected to overhaul the squad at Elland Road if United are left planning for another Championship campaign this summer.
But Lees came in for special praise from Warnock after Tuesday night’s goalless draw with Hull and O’Dea also appears to have won his favour during the past two-and-a-half weeks.
“Young Lees was superb and he’s improved in every game,” Warnock said. “And apart from the goal on Saturday, Darren’s done everything I’ve asked of him. He got caught out for one goal but he’s done well.
“I’d like to (bring new players in) and I was after a centre-half but when I look at the two I’ve got at the moment, I don’t think I could get much better than that.”
Mills became available last month after a full-out with Leicester manager Nigel Pearson but Leeds were unable to secure a deal to bring him to Yorkshire for the rest of the Championship term.
The £5million defender has since been linked with a temporary transfer to Championship title contenders West Ham United while United are rumoured to have shown an interest in Portsmouth centre-back Jason Pearce.
Portsmouth are fighting administration and their perilous financial position could see departures from Fratton Park before the Football League’s emergency loan window closes in two weeks’ time.
But Warnock, who previously described his squad as “quite a bit short” of Championship’s leading clubs and has already signed two new players, seems willing to give much of his existing squad an extended chance to impress him.
Warnock claimed right-back Paul Connolly - out of favour under former boss Simon Grayson - had set the perfect example by turning in a solid display on his first start for more than two months against Hull.
“I might give everybody an opportunity,” Warnock said. “Look at someone like Paul Connolly. He’s grasped a shirt and now it’s his shirt to lose.
“He told me that he didn’t think he was ever going to play for the club again so it’s good to see someone like him doing well. I couldn’t fault his performance.”

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Yorkshire Post 7/3/12
Dropped points will hurt Leeds more than rivals Hull
Hull City 0 Leeds Utd 0: This was a result that suited neither side.
On a night when sixth-placed Birmingham City were otherwise engaged in the FA Cup, both Hull City and Leeds United were unable to claim the win that would have put real pressure on the Blues.
Instead, the Yorkshire rivals fought out a largely dull goalless draw in front of the KC Stadium’s biggest crowd of the season.
The Tigers had the better of the few chances that were created – particularly in the final 15 minutes of the first half when the visitors’ goal came under heavy pressure.
During that bombardment, Andy Lonergan proved to be the visitors’ saviour with a couple of vital stops to keep out Corry Evans and Cameron Stewart.
That brief spell apart, however, United were largely comfortable and, if anything, had the better of the second half as the Hull midfield tired.
Despite that, Leeds rarely looked like making the breakthrough to extend what has become a damaging run of results against the promotion chasing pack.
After being held to a second goalless draw in three outings under Neil Warnock, United have now claimed just one win – at home to the Tigers in August – in 13 meetings with teams sitting above them in the table this morning.
It is a record that explains why Leeds sit five points adrift of the top six and are struggling to force their way back into the promotion reckoning.
Hull’s position admittedly looks more encouraging, Nick Barmby’s side being just two points behind Birmingham and with enough fixtures remaining to make a real impact.
With 16 clean sheets to their name, Hull also boast the kind of defensive foundation that can make all the difference during a run-in when results have to be ground out.
The worry, however, is that the Tigers’ attack lacks sufficient cutting edge to claim the wins that will be needed to extend their season beyond April 28.
Last night’s shut-out against Leeds was the seventh time in 11 Championship outings that Barmby’s men have failed to score.
It is a worrying statistic and one that needs addressing sooner rather than later if the Tigers are not to blow what is still an excellent chance of winning a return to the Premier League.
The game had started slowly, it perhaps speaking volumes for the standard of entertainment on offer during the opening half-hour that the biggest cheer came when Luciano Becchio, in challenging Aaron Mclean on the touchline, managed to fire the ball over the East Stand roof.
Once the half had reached the final third, however, Hull did step up a gear to finally put the visitors under a concerted spell of pressure.
Stewart was the first to go close with a drive that flew over the top before Robert Koren tested Lonergan with a 20-yard shot that the Leeds goalkeeper did well to turn around a post.
Lonergan then had to deny Evans and Stewart in quick succession, the save from Evans in particular being of the highest quality as the Leeds goalkeeper not only blocked the low drive but also managed to divert the ball away from on-rushing Matty Fryatt.
The late onslaught from the Tigers meant Leeds were relieved to hear the half-time whistle, especially as their better moments had come in the opening exchanges.
Becchio and Robert Snodgrass both fired over during that early attacking spurt, while Adam Clayton and Danny Webber were guilty of not looking up to spot an unmarked team-mate when trying to forage through a mass of Hull bodies on their own.
The second half was a similarly ragged affair to the opening half-hour.
Both sides did produce plenty of endeavour in an attempt to make the all-important breakthrough.
They also both kept pressing to the very end in the hope that the elusive first goal of the night would arrive.
But, in truth, neither Hull nor Leeds did enough to warrant claiming all three points in a disappointing second half.
That is not to say they did not have the chances to do so. They did.
But, as with the opening 45 minutes, the type of quality finishing needed at Championship level was missing.
For Leeds, Ross McCormack created a decent opening for himself midway through the half only to shoot straight at Vito Mannone, while Adam Clayton had a half-volley blocked by Koren.
At the other end, Mclean wasted another decent chance by firing over before Paul McKenna drilled a low effort in stoppage time that Lonergan held at the second attempt.
It meant when the final whistle blew moments later that both Hull and Leeds had a point apiece for their efforts, a decent reward though one that hardly advances either side’s promotion chances to any real degree.
Mail 6/3/12
Hull 0 Leeds 0: Lonergan is United's hero as Warnock fails to reignite play-off push
By John Edwards
Andy Lonergan seized the opportunity to make the right impression on Neil Warnock, but it was scarcely enough to put a smile on the face of the new Leeds manager at the KC Stadium.
After a goalless draw at Portsmouth and home defeat by Southampton, Warnock was looking for a positive impact from players further up the field after outlining the requirements for a late tilt at a play-off place.
Instead, with his front players misfiring for much of the night, it was left to Lonergan to keep Leeds in contention with a string of spectacular saves.
It was meant to be the start of a three-match winning run that would launch Leeds into the thick of the promotion battle, but no-one would have guessed from the way Hull tore into Warnock’s team in a one-sided first half.
Leeds’ manager had boldly declared that maximum points against Hull, Middlesbrough and West Ham were essential for reigniting a promotion challenge that had faltered prior to his arrival.
The opener, against a Hull side just three points and one place better off, was supposed to be the least demanding of the three, though it hardly looked that way as Leeds increasingly found themselves on the back foot.
A Robert Snodgrass volley that narrowly cleared the bar and a Luciano Becchio header that was saved underneath it were the only moments of respite for Leeds.
Robert Koren was at the heart of Hull’s best attacking endeavours, starting with a 23rd-minute burst from the halfway line and pass to Cameron Stewart that the winger fired wastefully over from 15 yards.
A Koren volley brought the best out of Lonergan on the half-hour, and Leeds escaped again four minutes later when Aaron Mclean steered an unchallenged header wide from Andy Dawson’s inswinging corner.
Lonergan excelled himself with a full-length reflex save from a Corry Evans volley in the 39th minute, following more impressive approach work from Koren, and the Leeds goal survived another near-miss seconds later as Hull scented a breakthrough.
The threat again came from Koren, whose left-foot drive from 25 yards beat Lonergan all ends up but struck the support post. Hull continued to make the running at the start of the second half, though poor finishing like Mclean’s 48th-minute effort that went yards over, may have been a concern to Nick Barmby.
The Hull boss said: ‘Full credit to their keeper for three or four really top-class saves. We were the better team and would have won, if only we’d taken one of those chances near the end of the first half.’
Warnock refused to concede his side’s promotion chances had gone but said: ‘We have got to win on Sunday now.’

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Yorkshire Evening Post 5/3/12
Leeds United v Southampton: Kelvin repels the white tide
By Phil Hay
So exactly how far short of the Championship’s leaders are this Leeds United squad? In a table which apparently never lies, not so far as the division suggests.
A goal from Rickie Lambert carried Southampton four points clear at the top of the league on Saturday night, but if Neil Warnock saw this game as a comparison between his team and the best the Championship can offer, the contrast was not what he expected or feared.
United’s manager took the view that Leeds, at first glance, were “quite a bit short” of a side like Southampton, and the table says he is right. But on Saturday, their ability to dominate a club so prominent was indisputable, least of all by Southampton’s harried players. Be it the Warnock factor or an off-day on the part of United’s guests, something clicked at long, long last.
Defeat was unavoidable in spite of their rampant football but Leeds have pilfered enough points in unconvincing fashion this season to be philosophical about the occasional injustice against them.
Their campaign is slipping towards an unspectacular end and the play-offs are ever more remote, but this period of Warnock’s reign was not solely about chasing down promotion. It is a window in which careers at Elland Road will be bought and sold, and the bullying of Southampton did not suggest that many players are ready to go. The club, from top to bottom, will quickly warm to such a brutal level of intensity.
This was as well as Leeds have played during three matches in Warnock’s care, and as well as they have played for months; perhaps all season. Lambert scoring after 16 minutes – the only occasion before half-time when a Saints player came within shooting distance of Andy Lonergan – was a setback which Warnock could easily forgive on an evening of so few failings.
It is to his credit that a squad he has coached for less than a fortnight made better work of Southampton than they did under Simon Grayson at St Mary’s on the first day of the season. The result aside, it was a role reversal of sorts as Leeds set the rhythm and their opponents clung to the inevitable goal scored by Lambert.
Ultimately, Southampton manager Nigel Adkins owed everything to the immense resistance put up by his goalkeeper, Kelvin Davis.
Reports of a groin injury affecting Adkins’ stellar winger, Adam Lallana, were not exaggerated and the absence of his name from a strong visiting team was no disappointment for Leeds. It bothered Southampton, who missed him badly.
Lallana is one of two Saints players nominated for the Championship’s Player of the Year award, on a short-list of three. The other, Lambert, started as planned at Elland Road after nursing a twisted ankle through the week.
It was a player of Lambert’s ilk who Warnock wanted to compare his own against but containing Southampton was not enough of a plan after results earlier in the day cut United six points adrift of the play-offs. Leeds have long since run out of matches to waste.
Warnock’s earliest view from the touchline pleased him and the first 15 minutes played out around Southampton’s box. A shot from Robert Snodgrass which clearly struck the arm of Jose Fonte and a volley from Adam Clayton that Davis grasped on his goalline gave Adkins’ players something to ponder, and they stumbled nervously through a wave of purposeful attacks. The boot of Jos Hooiveld pinched the ball from Luciano Becchio as the Argentinian moved to strike a dropping ball at the far post, another incident which left the visiting defence exchanging uncertain glances, and it was cruel on Leeds, yet typical of their visitors, that Lambert scored with his first chance.
Quick movement of the ball passed Jack Cork into space on the right wing and Tadanari Lee met his cross with a cushioned header towards Lambert. The unmarked forward sized up the ball and lashed it past Lonergan with a vicious volley from eight yards.
The scoreline was predictable but it was a skewed interpretation of the balance of play. Within minutes, Aidan White presented Snodgrass with a more difficult version of Lambert’s opportunity and United’s captain hammered it wide of Davis’ right-hand post. Ross McCormack’s finish at the end of White’s knockdown was inches from creeping into the net.
At the same moment, Leeds lost right-back Leigh Bromby to the same sort of muscle strain which forced Alex Bruce out of Saturday’s line-up, and it seemed Warnock’s luck was failing him. Davis added to the sense of frustration by dropping down to make a point-blank save from Becchio after McCormack’s cross whipped in front of Fonte.
And so it went. Referee Nigel Miller – no great friend of Leeds United’s – turned a blind eye when McCormack and Morgan Schneiderlin collided inside the Saints box, ruling that the coming together on 26 minutes was accidental, and Fonte got his body in front of Michael Brown’s shot after the midfielder seized on a loose pass. Southampton can rarely have struggled to merit a goal as badly as they did Lambert’s.
Miller’s part in the drama became more overbearing and contentious as the first half wore on, picking and choosing fouls without consistency, and Warnock’s temper simmered. Snodgrass should have lifted his mood seven minutes before the interval but curled a shot narrowly beyond Davis’ far post. All the while, Southampton’s stray passing invited more of the same.
Adkins did not even attempt to hide his concern at half-time, replacing Jason Puncheon – an ineffective stand-in for Lallana – with Dean Hammond at half-time and asking Guly Do Prado to be less anonymous than Lee.
As an attempt to tighten Southampton’s shape, it failed miserably. Becchio almost scored three minutes into the second half when he prodded a Snodgrass delivery onto the roof of the net, and Warnock tried to force the issue by handing Danny Webber his debut four days after signing the winger on a free transfer. A limping White made way for him.
It took two sensational saves from Davis to thwart the onslaught in the 61st minute when Becchio nodded Clayton’s cross over the Southampton keeper and tried to force the ball into an apparently empty net. Twice Davis recovered to push the ball off his line, and his fingertip save from Webber seconds later was as difficult to believe.
In between those moments, Lonergan played his part by blocking a Lambert effort after the striker made a rare appearance behind United’s defence, but the exhibition of phenomenal goalkeeping came from Davis.
When the ball reached Webber in another dangerous position, Davis reacted in a flash to block the ball with one arm.
By the 80th minute, Southampton’s survival had become almost comical and Webber contrived to bundle the ball wide after Frazer Richardson, Leeds’ former captain, unintentionally deflected it to him four yards from goal.
Warnock wasn’t laughing and it beggared belief when Snodgrass and Darren O’Dea hit the crossbar from the same McCormack corner with chaos ensuing and four minutes to play Southampton’s players mobbed Davis at full-time but the ovation for Leeds was standing and resounding. Warnock must know how rare that is.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Mail 3/3/12
Leeds 0 Southampton 1: Davis keeps United at bay as Lambert powers Saints clear
By Steve Martyn
Nigel Adkins rated Kelvin Davis’s virtuoso goalkeeping among the best he had ever seen as Championship leaders Southampton made it seven league games unbeaten.
And new Leeds manager Neil Warnock confessed that Davis had ‘done enough to win five Man of the Match awards’.
Rickie Lambert’s classic smash-and-grab goal secured the three points but Leeds paid the price for failing to embellish their slick approach play with goals.
Davis was in unbeatable form and Saints manager Adkins said: ‘His performance was right up there with the best I have seen. He was outstanding.
‘In the first 15 minutes we were chasing shadows for whatever reason. We looked second best to a very good Leeds team but Kelvin made some fantastic saves.
‘We had to grind out a result because we were not at our best. We defended resolutely, showed real resolve and character and kept our sixth clean sheet in nine games, which is pleasing.
‘We have a lot of matches in March and April but we have a strong squad to cope with that.’
The woodwork came to Southampton’s rescue twice in rapid succession near the end from headers by Robert Snodgrass and Darren O’Dea and, in the immediate aftermath, Tom Lees shot wide.
Luciano Becchio hit a post and substitute Danny Webber was twice denied a debut goal by the magnificent Davis, who made himself Leeds’ Public Enemy No 1.
Lambert’s 20th league goal of the season and his 24th in all competitions arrived in the 16th minute.
Former Leeds defender Frazer Richardson created space on the right for Jack Cork. His deep cross to beyond the far post was headed back into the danger zone by Tadanari Lee for Lambert to power home a perfectly executed volley.
‘Rickie’s goal was pure quality and it was a great header back to him by Tadanari Lee,’ purred Adkins.
But it was the only menacing attack the Championship leaders could fashion in a first period which saw them camped in their own half for long spells, with Leeds stringing together their passes but unable to make a breakthrough.
Nor did Leeds come under any sustained pressure after the interval. While Davis was in danger of exhaustion, Leeds keeper Andy Lonergan was a virtual spectator as Leeds fans in a crowd of more than 20,000 tried to will the ball into the net, but to no avail.
When the sides met in the opening game of the season Leeds were swept aside 3-1 but they have already shown a huge improvement during Warnock’s brief stewardship.
The Leeds manager felt his side should have had a first-half penalty when Jose Fonte raised his arm to block a left-wing cross from Snodgrass.
Warnock, tasting defeat in his first home game in charge, said: ‘You don’t always get what you deserve. It was a certain penalty when the lad raised his arm.
‘I spoke to the referee and he said he had never seen it, which is worrying. That performance has whetted my appetite.
‘I knew we had a vociferous crowd and we gave them something to get them going.
‘The way we played, with real style, was very pleasing but we should have done better with our chances. When you are top of the league, like Southampton, you tend to get the rub of the green.
‘We dominated the best team in the league for 89 minutes and you can’t ask for more than that, but we need wins.
‘We were punished for one bit of sloppiness when Darren O’Dea slipped at the wrong time and Lambert scored. Lambert would have had five or six goals if he had been playing for us!’

Thursday, March 01, 2012 29/2/12
New signing brings experience...
New signing Danny Webber is hoping his experience as a Championship promotion winner can play part as Leeds United look to keep alive an assault on the Play-Off places.
The 30-year-old was part of the Blades side which clinched promotion to the Premier League in 2006 under the guidance of our new manager Neil Warnock, and Danny knows he has joined a club with a real chance of progress.
"Leeds is a massive club," said Danny.
"You can see the history and the great set-up of the place, and I played under Neil Warnock at Sheffield United and am looking forward to playing under him again. I've had some good parts of my career under him.
"He knows how to get the best out of players, he knows how to motivate people and hopefully he can do that with everyone here. He looks after you, and he'll be back you. That's important when you're playing.
"It's touching distance where we are at the moment, and It's case of a good run between now and May and you never know where you might end up.
"It's a case of sticking together and doing the little things right that make up the bigger picture. There's good experience here and there's some good youth to crack on."
Danny left Portsmouth last summer after a campaign dogged by injury, and he has spent much of the current season in training at both Queens Park Rangers and Manchester United, the club where he started his career.
"I did my pre-season at QPR under the gaffer, but I got injured and it took me a couple of months to get up and running again," he explained.
"The boss at Man United let me train there to build myself back up again, and that's where I've been really. I've not played matches for a while, I've been training, but there is a difference. I'll put it in, though, I'll go through the pain barrier and do what it takes.
"I got a phone call to come here and have a look and it's all gone well. You never take anything set in stone, especially in this game, but I'm happy I got the call and I'm raring to go. The gaffer knows how I play. I can play in numerous positions and I can come in and get stuck in very quickly."
Danny made his first appearance in a Leeds shirt on Tuesday afternoon when he played the first half of a behind closed doors game against Middlesbrough at Thorp Arch.
"It felt good to be in a football match again," he said.
"The more minutes I can get, the fitter I'll get, and the better performances I'll be able to put in."
The next game on the horizon is now Saturday's Elland Road clash with league leaders Southampton, and with a run of matches coming up against promotion contenders, victory against the Saints will give United a huge boost.
"Southampton have been flying, but everybody's there to be beaten," added Danny.
"I remember when we were at the top with Sheffield United and everyone wants to come and beat you and it's no different now, we will want to beat them on Saturday."