Monday, February 27, 2012

Yorkshire Evening Post 27/2/12
Warnock bags first point
By Phil Hay
Evolution not revolution, and change in small steps.
Ken Bates predicted as much after installing Neil Warnock as Leeds United’s manager and it is what the club can expect from him after Saturday’s draw at Fratton Park.
There was a glimmer – just a glimmer – of anticipation about the overnight effect on a gridlocked club of Warnock’s popular appointment, but the loss of two points against Portsmouth supported his view that anyone demanding promotion of Leeds should look for it next season, not this.
Insolvent Portsmouth are hardly the battered punchbag they seem from afar but on the day of Warnock’s first game as manager they were a team who Leeds were required to beat; partly because of their fractured state and partly because of what comes next.
Southampton, Hull City, Middlesbrough and West Ham United – four hard, exacting Championship matches in a 15-day period that should give Warnock a clear impression of strengths and weaknesses of the squad he inherited.
Whether United’s season can survive that examination is a matter of conjecture but their goalless draw at Fratton Park was not the key to the door.
Leeds had moments of anguish in Portsmouth, not least when Ross McCormack struck the crossbar with a shot which crossed the goalline and Robert Snodgrass followed in to score in the shadow of an offside flag.
Intense
But stalemate was an appropriate outcome after 90 minutes of intense, direct and unyielding football.
Snodgrass’ disallowed header came during United’s most convincing spell of the game, a spurt of creativity around the hour mark, but Portsmouth gave Leeds no more of the contest than that.
Their own chances were more numerous and, at times, as clear-cut, forcing an extraordinary save from United goalkeeper Andy Lonergan in the second half.
Warnock nevertheless took with him the satisfaction of a clean sheet – the first against 11 players since December 3 – and the realisation that Leeds’ failure to score need not be the inevitable road to defeat it became under Simon Grayson.
Portsmouth, meanwhile, used Saturday to tell the Football League that neither the club nor their team are ready to breathe their last breath.
Already destitute and facing bankruptcy, 33 of Portsmouth’s staff were sacked by the club’s administrators last week and a wage deferral among their playing squad followed soon after.
They will not go quietly into the night, or not while capacity crowds flock into Fratton Park and keep the blood flowing. Three players – Greg Halford, Liam Lawrence and Joel Ward – sold the few remaining tickets on Friday afternoon and Portsmouth did not feel like a club with death at the door. The next six weeks are critical for them.
Their starting line-up, as Warnock expected, was still of decent Championship stock, despite the loss of striker Erik Huseklepp on loan to Birmingham City.
Warnock made only one change to his own team and included no substitute goalkeeper, as tends to be his way.
His most telling decision was naming Robert Snodgrass – in many people’s eyes the stand-out choice – as Leeds’ new captain.
The devil was in the detail of Warnock’s formation, rather than the players selected. His system was a step away from the rigid world of 4-4-2, with Snodgrass relocated into space – little though there was – between Luciano Becchio and the midfield pair of Adam Clayton and Michael Brown.
Warnock’s view of the squad left behind by Grayson was mixed: a satisfactory wealth of attacking nous devalued by deficiencies in defence.
His tactics in Hampshire, unfrilly and pragmatic throughout, redressed that balance slightly in a line-up change at late notice by Andros Townsend’s strange defection from Elland Road.
Portsmouth moved quickly to harry United’s defence, testing Lonergan’s handling with a header from Ward and a rising shot from Hayden Mullins, and Warnock found himself altering personnel after only 10 minutes when a pulled hamstring dragged Alex Bruce from the pitch. Leigh Bromby stepped up from the bench, the revival of another Leeds career which died a death under Grayson, and he joined in the resistance against Portsmouth’s energetic surges. “You’d have taken nil-nil in the first 20 minutes,” Warnock said, “but not after that.”
Mullins pulled another shot wide after Ward wriggled free from Bromby’s grasp and slipped the ball to the edge of the box, and Clayton escaped unpunished when a missed header allowed George Thorne’s corner to reach Jason Pearce. The arrival of the ball surprised Pearce and his crucial touch was wayward.
Leeds crafted the odd chance of their own in the first half but Clayton hooked his first into the stands and Becchio cracked a free header six yards wide. Snodgrass ran tirelessly but looked frustrated and Becchio struggled to do Warnock’s bidding by winning his share of dropping balls. Halford, meanwhile, plagued United’s defence with long, low throws from the right wing.
Under pressure, Leeds hung in and almost snatched a goal in the penultimate minute of the first half when Aidan White’s effort from 25 yards forced an anxious save from Stephen Henderson, Portsmouth’s nervous-looking keeper, but United survived a convincing penalty claim on the stroke of half-time when a throw struck the arm of Lees. “It’s a certain handball against us,” said Warnock later.
Referee Phil Gibbs, motionless in front of an incensed Fratton End, made his way from the pitch with boos echoing around him but Portsmouth’s players let the incident go.
Six minutes into the second half, Becchio headed the ball against the frame of his own goal while defending a Scott Allen corner as Gibbs blew for foul amid a mass of players.
Leeds were not alone in riding their luck. Two minutes later, McCormack beat Henderson with a brilliant volley from the edge of the box, smashing it off the underside of the bar.
The ball appeared to the naked eye to have crossed the line and Snodgrass finished the attack off by heading the ball into an empty net.
An offside flag appeared against him immediately and Gibbs declined to revisit McCormack’s original shot. One way and another, Portsmouth escaped with their skin.
It was exposed again within moments as Clayton found the run of Becchio with a long pass out of his own half. Becchio made Pearce lose his footing but cutting inside him but, with only Henderson to beat, he dragged his finish against the keeper’s knees.
For the first time, a spring was seen in United’s step.
Floated
Again, Bromby could have beaten Henderson when McCormack floated a cross to the far post and it took a covering block from the embattled Pearce to see Leeds off.
In bright sunshine, Portsmouth began to look stretched and fatigued and Clayton gave them respite by failing to pass to either Becchio or McCormack as Portsmouth’s defence fought growing pressure.
The impetus built up in that spell would have been decimated in the 67th minute had Lonergan – staring into the sun – not reacted to Thorne’s stinging volley with a brilliant one-hand parry at his near post, bludgeoning the ball behind.
But Portsmouth found a second wind and Allen swung a free-kick inches beyond the same post with his last act of the game, heralding the introduction of Benjani from the bench.
Portsmouth thought they had their win when Halford’s throw bounced straight through Lonergan’s area and into the far corner of his net but, understanding the rulebook, Gibbs realised that the ball had failed to touch another player and ruled the goal out.
The crowd moaned briefly but soon resumed their chant of “we’re not going to die” – the theme of the afternoon – as the remaining time petered out. The next four matches should decide whether United’s season does the same.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Independent 26/2/12
Warnock calm as Pompey make a point
Portsmouth 0 Leeds United 0: New Leeds manager praises his side's effort but troubled south coast club show plenty of spirit
Nick Szczepanik
Fratton Park
Neil Warnock's second match as manager of Leeds United lacked the drama or the points return of the first, when his new club overturned a two-goal deficit to beat Doncaster 3-2, but a gritty Portsmouth team with a statement of their own to make can take much of the credit for that. In administration, unpaid and unsure of their future, Michael Appleton's team fought hard and could have won.
However, Warnock's new side stood up to what he called a "bombardment" and made good chances of their own, which suggests that they could still make a late run for the play-offs. "I think there are stronger teams outside the top six than us," he said. "But it would be great to finish my career with another promotion.
"It's massive, this club," he added. "There's 50-metre swimming pool at the training ground. You don't get that at Hartlepool. I work better when I've got crowds behind me, and the Leeds fans have made it clear that they want me. You look at the numbers here, miles from Yorkshire – that's what whets your appetite. I'm hoping there'll be 30,000 [at Elland Road for the visit of Southampton] next week."
Portsmouth yesterday did their best to show what raucous support can achieve. For their first home match since entering administration for the second time in three years, they had cut admission prices by £5 in a bid to "pack the park", but although the crowd was over 2,000 below the best of the season, those who turned up made plenty of noise.
In response, Portsmouth were quicker to every ball in the first half but could not make their superiority count. Joel Ward's header from Greg Halford's throw was held by Andy Lonergan, the Leeds goalkeeper, and Hayden Mullins' shot went through Lonergan's hands but over the bar.
In first-half injury time, Phil Gibbs, the referee, failed to spot a blatant handling offence as the Leeds defender Tom Lees punched away Halford's ball in from the left.
After the interval, Leeds' quality began to tell. Ross McCormack's rocket shot rebounded from the underside of the crossbar, and both Luciano Becchio and Leigh Bromby were denied by Stephen Henderson.
"McCormack's shot was a metre over the line, I've seen the replays," Warnock said. "In fairness, it's a cert handball against us in the first half."
Portsmouth came again, Lonergan clawing aside George Thorne's 20-yard effort and getting lucky when Halford's long throw went into the net for a goal-kick despite claims by Benjani that he had got a touch.
"The first half was 100mph, like Wacky Races, but I thought we made some good chances in the second half," Warnock said. "I can't fault the effort and endeavour."
Despite a brave display, Portsmouth are second from bottom of the table and without without a win in five matches. "It's not easy, but we've got to move on," Appleton said. "Next week is the start of eight games in a month, and regardless of how the table looks now, it's the 28th of April that I'm worried about."

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Yorkshire Evening Post 25/2/12
McCormack ‘goal’ should have stood - Warnock
Leeds United manager Neil Warnock claimed Ross McCormack was denied a obvious goal in the Whites goalless Championship draw at Portsmouth.
McCormack came closest to breaking the deadlock at Fratton Park when his exquisite chip from the left corner of the area after 54 minutes struck the underside of the bar.
The ball appeared to bounce over the line and Robert Snodgrass followed up to head the ball home, but his effort was ruled out for offside.
Having watched the incident back after the final whistle, Warnock was convinced McCormack’s effort crossed the line.
He said: “McCormack’s shot was a metre over the line. It’s embarrassing really when you see it. It’s not even close.
“Apparently the television pictures here are not so good, but if they want to borrow ours, they’ll see it’s not even close.
“I’ve asked the official and he said he was in line about 12 yards away. He obviously didn’t see it.
“But in fairness, there was a certain handball against us in the first half and that was the same linesman. The sun was obviously causing a problem out there.”
Portsmouth were denied a penalty in first-half stoppage time when Darren O’Dea appeared to handle in the Leeds area.
The resulting penalty would have given Pompey an opportunity to claim three points, which would have lifted their Championship survival hopes.
Instead the draw left them second from bottom following their 10-point deduction for entering administration and boss Michael Appleton was keen to forget his side’s latest slice of misfortune.
He said: “I felt that it looked like a blatant penalty and having watched it back, it has told me what I thought at the time.
“But that’s the way it is at the minute and we have to move on quickly.”
Appleton’s side were well backed by a partisan 17,571 crowd at Fratton Park and the manager admitted he was delighted with the unity in the Pompey camp.
The squad agreed to defer their January wage packets to help keep the club afloat, and Appleton said the move has brought the players closer together on the pitch.
He said: “The players are pretty much galvanised together and the unity they’ve got comes from making decisions like they’ve had to make with the wages.
“To be quite frank, if they didn’t do what they did, where would the club be? Would we have a club?
“Everyone wants the same two or three things. Firstly, we want to try and stay in the Championship, and we’ve got 14 games to do something about it.
“Secondly, we want to find an owner who wants to take the club forward, stabilise it for a number of years and not use it as a stepping stone or somewhere to hog the limelight for a year or two.”
Guardian 25/2/12
Neil Warnock's Leeds held by Portsmouth in his first game in charge
Ian Winrow at Fratton Park
In an encounter between two managers with very different targets, it was Portsmouth's Michael Appleton who had more reason to be satisfied with a draw than Neil Warnock, who failed to mark his first official game in charge of Leeds with a win. Yet while the point may prove invaluable to Portsmouth as they battle the combined threat of relegation and financial meltdown, results elsewhere meant they still capped another desperately painful week by sinking to second-bottom in the Championship.
Warnock's eyes are trained upwards and after accepting Ken Bates's invitation to succeed Simon Grayson he will have hoped for much more than a solitary point that maintains Leeds's position in 10th, four points off the top six.
The manager's impact in his new job had been immediate, with his unplanned half-time visit to the dressing room at Doncaster last weekend contributing to Leeds's subsequent success in transforming a losing position into a 3-2 victory. That gave the manager the start he wanted but he knows he will have to coax a consistent run of form from his new players if they are to progress from the fringes of the play-off positions and secure a return to the Premier League.
The challenge confronting Appleton could hardly be more different. The Portsmouth manager and his players are working to remain in the Championship and if they succeed, they will have done it despite the 10-point deduction imposed after the club went into administration nine days ago and the climate of uncertainty that now surrounds the club.
Thirty-three members of staff have been made redundant, while other staff – including the players – will be forced to wait for unpaid wages. Trevor Birch, the joint administrator of the club, has warned that even more challenging times lie ahead, using his programme notes to reveal the club could "run out of cash within the next couple of months".
The departure of their leading scorer Erik Huseklepp on loan to Birmingham City last week – a deal driven by the need to cut costs – has added to the sense of gloom.
Appleton's players, however, responded well after yet another difficult week in the club's history, providing an enterprising first-half performance that should have seen them take the lead and force Warnock to reprise his Doncaster team-talk. Joel Ward forced a save from the Leeds keeper Andy Lonergan in the eighth minute and Hayden Mullins twice came close with powerful shots from the edge of the area.
Leeds offered little by way of response but any satisfaction Portsmouth may have drawn from their first-half display was replaced by a feeling of intense frustration at being denied a penalty moments before the interval when the Leeds defender Tom Lees clearly appeared to handle a cross.
The incident might have deflated Portsmouth but Appleton's side quickly shrugged off the disappointment and started the second period as they had ended the first, pressing Leeds back and causing further discomfort for Lonergan.
To Warnock's relief, though, Leeds finally began to find their feet as Portsmouth's exuberance started to fade and the visitors came close to taking the lead in the 54th minute when Ross McCormack drilled a left-foot shot against the underside of the bar; the offside flag saved the home side when Robert Snodgrass headed in the rebound. Three minutes later Leeds were again denied when Stephen Henderson – one of four Pompey players to help out in the ticket office this week – produced an excellent save to deny Luciano Becchio after the striker had run clear of the Portsmouth defence.
Mail 25/2/12
Portsmouth 0 Leeds 0: Warnock suffers Fratton Park frustration
Neil Warnock's first game in charge of Leeds ended in frustration as Portsmouth turned in a battling display in a bid to stave off relegation from the npower Championship.
Warnock saw his latest side snatch a last-gasp win from the stands at Elland Road last week, but will be disappointed Leeds failed to convert one of several chances.
Leeds striker Ross McCormack came closest to breaking the deadlock when his shot hit the bar and bounced down on to the goalline early in the second half.
Robert Snodgrass headed home the rebound, but his follow-up effort was ruled out for offside.
The point gained is of little use to either side.
Leeds remain four points adrift of the play-offs and Portsmouth, who dropped into the bottom three after being docked 10 points for going into administration, slipped another place courtesy of Coventry's win over Barnsley.
Pompey manager Michael Appleton, forced to sell top goalscorer Erik Huseklepp to Birmingham this week, once again struggled to fill his substitutes' bench and handed a debut to 21-year-old midfielder Scott Allan, who joined on loan from West Brom on Thursday.
Defender Greg Halford returned to the side, while striker Dave Kitson was suspended.
Michael Brown was back in Leeds' starting line-up in place of the departing Andros Townsend, while Warnock handed the captain's armband to Snodgrass. Leeds were dealt an early blow when defender Alex Bruce was forced off injured in the 11th minute and replaced by Leigh Bromby.
Goalkeeper Andy Lonergan tipped away Portsmouth midfielder George Thorne's corner soon after, while Adam Clayton drove the wrong side of the post for Leeds.
Allan almost made a dream start when his long-range shot flashed wide and Pompey team-mate Hayden Mullins' angled effort was blocked.
Both sides were finding it difficult to carve out clear-cut chances.
Pompey defender Tal Ben-Haim tried his luck with a wayward 30-yard shot before Leeds came closest to breaking the deadlock just before half-time when Snodgrass's shot from a half-cleared corner was brilliantly saved by Stephen Henderson.
Leeds almost took the lead with their first meaningful attack in the second half.
McCormack's thumping drive from the left edge of the penalty area hit the crossbar and bounced down on the goalline and although Snodgrass followed up to head home, the Scot was deemed to have been in an offside position by referee Phil Gibbs.
Pompey pair Ward and Mullins fired in long-range efforts that were blocked and comfortably saved respectively before Henderson rescued his side again, this time saving with his feet to deny Luciano Becchio inside the penalty area in the 58th minute.
Henderson saved with his feet again to keep out Bromby's close-range shot, but just as Leeds began to dominate, Thorne unleashed a 20-yard shot that forced Lonergan into a fine save.
Aidy White almost caught Henderson out with a cross-shot that was tipped over, fellow Leeds defender Darren O'Dea headed straight at Henderson in the closing stages and Brown lashed a shot over the bar in the 94th minute.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Yorkshire Evening Post 21/2/12
Whites have finally landed Mr Right
By Leon Wobschall
It’s taken as read that pressure will always go with the territory at Elland Road, whether you be a manager, coach or player.
It has been the making of some, while proving the sorry downfall of others, which has been the case for the last half-century since Don Revie picked up a footballing giant firmly by the bootstrings and stirred it into life, making the footballing world take note.
To be manager of Leeds United, like the other great one-club city in England in Newcastle United, means you are pretty much under the microscope 24-7.
Every decision and quote is pored over and dissected by its army of supporters whose insatiable appetite for news on their club is ravenous. Switching off isn’t much of an option either.
Neil Warnock has the broadest of shoulders and has always been able to look after himself in a managerial sense and those qualities will stand him in good stead for arguably the biggest challenge of his long managerial career.
Loud, proud, opinionated and passionate, football’s very own Marmite Man provokes love and hate emotions in equal measure among football supporters. But one thing is crystal-clear, you never ignore him. And while he can give it, he can also take it.
Great copy for journalists and never short of a line he may be, but invariably there’s plenty of method in his musings and in terms of keeping the heat off his players, Warnock is a past master.
The Sheffielder hogged plenty of the limelight in a seven-and-a-half-year association with boyhood club Sheffield United from 1999 to 2007, famously feuding with the likes of Stan Ternent, Phil Thompson and Gareth Southgate along the way and grabbing plenty of back-page headlines in the process.
But he is remembered chiefly by Unitedites for putting the club firmly at the top of the Steel City pecking order, with former Blades and Leeds striker turned radio pundit Keith Edwards confident he will prove as big a success just up the M1 at Elland Road in his own inimitable way.
Edwards said: “Neil will give people a lot of headlines and that’s why everybody likes him.
“I always say it’s about players, but you’ll find that Neil will take a lot of pressure off the players by creating all of the attention on himself.
“There are no two ways about it, at Leeds United there will be players who maybe feel a bit of pressure. But Neil will take it off them, that’s what he tends to do, he takes the pressure on his shoulders really well.
“With the reputation of Leeds in the past, there’s always pressure to do well. We had it when I played there in the FA Cup semi-final and play-off final.
“Neil will be the man who wants to do really well and put Leeds on the map. The job will have a certain ring about it for Neil. With respect to the other clubs around Leeds, they haven’t got the same name as Leeds.
“It’s an intriguing appointment, but I think it’s the right one.
“I think it’s fair to say Leeds will be guaranteed to have some fun under Neil. I loved the comment when he left Queen’s Park Rangers when he said he takes full responsibility for where they are now – the Premiership!”
After leaving Loftus Road at the start of the year, Warnock, who turned 63 in December, announced his intentions to have one last managerial hurrah before riding off into the sunset. Or in his case, his beloved Cornwall.
The task of taking on United was always likely to prove an irresistible one for the Yorkshireman and while the odds on him orchestrating a successful promotion charge via the Championship play-offs in 2011-12 are fairly long, Edwards for one wouldn’t put it past Warnock.
Just 14 matches remain in United’s season, with Warnock’s new side currently in 10th place in the Championship. They are only three points behind sixth-placed Birmingham but have played more games than virtually all of their play-off rivals.
United also have a teak-tough run-in and have still to play all of the current top five, along with fellow play-off aspirants Hull City and Middlesbrough, but you sense it’s a situation Warnock will grasp and relish.
And in terms of short-term fixes, the veteran gaffer has previous, with one of the most unheralded yet truly remarkable achievements coming in the south west footballing backwater of Torquay United, who he saved from relegation out of the Football League in 1993 following a sterling Great Escape mission.
Edwards added: “I think it’s the right appointment for Leeds. Neil’s got all the experience in the world, hasn’t he.
“I’m sure Neil will be having a good go at it (promotion), with Leeds being on the fringes of it (the play-offs).
“Leeds, like Sheffield United, are crying out for success and if they get into a play-off spot, they will take their chances from there.
“Neil’s record in the play-offs isn’t brilliant, unfortunately, but there’s no reason why Leeds can’t do it because in this division in this particular year, the teams are all of a muchness.
“If anyone can organise a team and make them very difficult to beat, it’s Neil. His teams, without being disrespectful, invariably grind results out. That’s his strength, getting the best out of average players with all the respect in the world.
“Yes, Leeds have some quality players. But at Sheffield United, it was mainly about his organisational skills and we’ve got no axe to grind with him whatsoever as he got us into the Premiership.
“You will soon see a very hard-working side who are prepared to graft for each other.
“When we got promotion, I can’t recall a side working as hard for each other as we did.
“Promotion will be tough, but Neil will absolutely love a challenge like that.
“In the past, he thrived on saving teams, now he’s got the challenge to get Leeds into the play-offs. He’ll thrive on that pressure and the attention he will get at Leeds.
“He’ll enjoy the challenge, that’s the difference between him and a lot of other managers. He’ll love Leeds as a football club and the fact they could get crowds of 30-odd thousand. He’ll thrive on it and why not!”

Monday, February 20, 2012

Yorkshire Evening Post 20/2/12
Warnock calls for a united front
By Phil Hay
Neil Warnock today called for a united front at Elland Road after vowing to inspire a late run to the Championship play-offs.
Leeds United’s new manager urged the club and their supporters to put aside recent differences and come together for the last 14 games of the campaign, admitting: “I don’t want to write this season off.”
United’s search for a new boss ended over the weekend when Warnock was named as Simon Grayson’s replacement on a contract until the end of next season.
The 63-year-old played an active role in Saturday’s injury-time win over Doncaster Rovers, and he took charge of his first training session at Thorp Arch yesterday morning.
His appointment comes after weeks of unrest in Leeds, with the club’s disappointing league position leading to protests against their board, but United’s pulsating defeat of Doncaster kept alive their hopes of promotion to the Premier League.
Warnock said: “It’s an opportunity now to put to bed these differences and the problems they’ve had over the past few months. Everyone get behind the team.
“We’ve only got 14 games left for heaven’s sake. Let’s put that all to bed and everyone be like they were on Saturday. It’s a great club when it’s like that.”
Mick Jones, Warnock’s long-standing assistant, has joined his staff as United’s number two, and coach Ronnie Jepson, who worked under Warnock at Crystal Palace and Queens Park Rangers, was also present at Thorp Arch for yesterday’s training session.
Further additions to Warnock’s backroom team are expected in the coming days, and he is hopeful of securing at least one new signing before Saturday’s visit to Portsmouth.
Defender Clint Hill and former Leeds midfielder Shaun Derry, both of whom were part of Warnock’s squad at Queens Park Rangers, are potential targets, and Warnock has stressed the need for new signings to chairman Ken Bates.
Warnock said: “The chairman was supportive when I spoke to him. He knows I feel we need two or three players, if we can get the right ones, to supplement what we’ve already got. Ideally I’d love to get somebody in before the weekend.
“There are areas we have to improve if we’re not to write this season off. I don’t want to write this season off, not just yet – even though the bookies aren’t giving us much opportunity.”

Independent 20/2/12
Neil Warnock: I haven't got a clue what we can achieve, but let's have some fun
Why it's fantastic to be manager of Leeds, one of the biggest clubs in the country
Neil Warnock
It is exciting to be back and it is even more so to be at a genuine, big club like Leeds United.
I've spoken to three or four clubs in the last 10 days and I've been really pleased with being wanted. Leeds was the one that I listened to a lot and I saw the fans' forums. They seemed to be united that they wanted me. I do feel that when you've got potentially 30,000 people it's a bloody fantastic place to be. I reckon Leeds are the fourth- or fifth-biggest club in the country.
I love it at my age. I have nothing to fear. If things go wrong, I will call it a day. As long as I enjoy it, I will see how it goes between now and the end of the season. My contract is until the end of next season, but I've spoken to Ken Bates, the Leeds chairman, and if we know it's not working – I'm not into contracts now, I was when I'm younger – we'll go our own way. I've always got on all right with the chairman. I know how he runs his clubs, he gets them organised. I know they've had lot of protests, but I'm saying to fans: "We've got 14 games to go, put everything to bed and let's have some fun."
I honestly haven't got a clue what we can achieve. If you'd seen the first half against Doncaster on Saturday, you'd have said, "Let's avoid relegation." If you saw the second, you'd say, "Let's go for it." We've got some good players, and the crowd is an extra player.
I regretted not putting myself on the bench after 10 minutes of the game. I said that to Mick Jones. I went down at half-time and changed three or four things and that really helped us. They're a very keen set of lads, they all want to do their best. That's great for me.
Yesterday was a warm-down and a chat so we could get on with it the next day. I had a word with the lads I didn't see. It's a clean slate. With me leaving QPR there were one or two comments about players who had been left out. It reminded me so I said to the players here, "No rude comments in the press about the past manager ... or me!"
I first spoke to Leeds 10 days ago. They asked me my situation. I didn't know what I was going to do. Over 10 days, I had two interviews with other clubs and another close one before then. Then everything at Leeds happened in 24 hours last week. I spoke to Wolves on Wednesday, I don't think they wanted to make a quick decision. I spoke to Ken on Thursday. He said, "Come over and I'll tell you about the club, you can start on Sunday and meet them on Monday."
I went back and thought that would be a waste of a game and I wanted to make sure we got three points against Doncaster, which we did – even if it didn't look possible at 2-0 down. It wasn't a bad first team-talk! They responded to the changes. Neil Redfearn was already shouting at them when I went in. I let him do that. I wanted to be the good cop! It was fantastic when the third goal went in at the end, it was hairs on the back of your neck time. The lads know it will give them belief, that has probably been missing. We will get better for next week. We will be more organised after a week's training, and then another week training gives us a great chance to get sorted out.
I would imagine a betting man would say the play-offs would be difficult. We have to win every game. If we lose a couple it's beyond us. But I've been in to the academy and you've never seen anything like it. It's the biggest academy complex at a club I've been at, by a mile. It's "top of the Premier League" standard.
I tell you what: it feels good to be back!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Leedsunited.com 19/2/12
THIS IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST - NEIL
New Leeds United manager Neil Warnock firmly believes he has joined one of the biggest clubs in the country.
Warnock was confirmed as the club's new manager on Saturday lunchtime after agreeing a contract until the end of the 2012/13 season.
The former Sheffield United boss, who has won seven promotions during his career, was also being heavily linked with the vacant managerial positions at Wolves and Huddersfield.
But after being confirmed as the new Leeds boss he arrived at Elland Road on Saturday and he immediately had an input into the 3-2 win against Doncaster Rovers which he watched from the stands.
"It was a fantastic welcome on Saturday, from turning up at the ground and seeing all the supporters," said the new manager, who parted company with his previous club QPR just six weeks ago, less than 12 months after leading them to the Premier League.
"Over the last few days that's been the big pull for me. I've never been so popular which is unusual for me! It was great to be wanted by a number of clubs, but the crowd here has always been special and I just felt it was the right club both in terms of what I was looking for and what they were looking for, and it could be a good mix.
"I've not slept for a few days, I thought I was going to one place and then another, and then I went to Monaco on Friday and talked to the chairman. He was very positive in what he said and I think he understood where I was coming from as well so rather than delaying things we decided to get it done.
"We were going to leave it a couple of days, but I felt if I was coming it was important that I was there against Doncaster and have an input, and I was glad I was there."
The move to Elland Road represents a return to Yorkshire for Warnock, who has already managed Scarborough, Huddersfield Town, and Sheffield United in the White Rose county.
"This is a fantastic club," he said. "The club itself must be one of the top half a dozen in the country. There's no local rivals, it's a one club city and it's got everything.
"I enjoyed myself at QPR and it broke my heart when I left, but it was a similar situation when I took over there because some of the fans were 'well, we didn't really want you Warnock, but we're glad you've come.'
"Yorkshire people are like that and I think they appreciate straight people who give it their best. I'll do that and I feel I have something to contribute to the club."
Warnock is viewed as one of the great characters of the game and he could be seen on his feet in the old directors box at Elland Road on Saturday when Luciano Becchio fired home a late, late winner to sink Doncaster.
"I manage with a lot of energy, it's the way I am," he said.
"My demands of the players are very strict, but I enjoy it and I want to enjoy it, and as long as I am enjoying it I'm going to manage. If I stop enjoying it I will call it a day.
"I want to be at a club like this. I can't remember jumping as high for a third goal as I did on Saturday. It was good, talking to the players before and at half-time and getting a response."
Independent 19/2/12
Warnock's pep talk inspires Leeds
Leeds United 3 Doncaster Rovers 2: New manager delivers half-time verdict and then watches as his new squad complete comeback
Simon Hart
Elland Road
The fanzine seller outside Elland Road was in no doubt that, for once, Ken Bates had got it right. His publication, The Square Ball, was carrying a piece titled: "Why it has to be Neil Warnock", a conclusion Bates had reached just a couple of hours before when confirmation of Warnock's appointment as Leeds United manager came through.
Warnock, who had met Bates in Monaco on Friday and shaken hands on a contract until the end of the 2012-13 season, was greeted by the supporters here, though there was no high-profile presentation of a manager grudgingly admired for his achievements at three other Yorkshire clubs; just an introduction over the Tannoy as he took his seat.
The contest that unfolded showed just why Warnock could not reject Bates's overtures; he saw Elland Road come to life as Leeds overturned a two-goal deficit to win against the Championship's bottom club through a Luciano Becchio goal in the ninth minute of injury time. The result lifted Leeds one place to 10th in the Championship, within three points of a play-off spot.
"The attraction is the situation they're in, a massive club with great fans," said the 63-year-old Warnock. "I enjoyed the support of the QPR fans but having 25,000 to 30,000 behind you is brilliant. I spoke to Wolves on Thursday and then to Ken in Monte Carlo on Friday. It was all a bit rushed and I hadn't planned to finalise anything but it all seemed to fit. I didn't want to stay out of football any longer.
"I think today showed how far we have to go. We are a long way from being a top side but the lads have spirit and showed it."
Warnock's goal in his 13th managerial post will be the eighth promotion of his career. "He has a proven record, knows what it takes, and he gets value for money out of players," said Bates, who tried to lure Warnock to Chelsea after he had taken Notts County into the top flight in 1991.
Bates had decided on Warnock after Leeds suffered defeats by Brighton and Coventry under caretaker manager Neil Redfearn. The academy coach seemed destined to end his temporary tenure with a third loss when Don-caster took a two-goal lead, and he gave credit to Warnock for the part he played in inspiring their second-half fightback. "He's had a big input today, he came in and addressed the lads before," Redfearn said. "He came in at half-time and made one or two points. He's an experienced guy and the information he gave has helped."
As the former Leeds player and manager Eddie Gray noted beforehand, Warnock's first task will be to sort out Leeds' defensive frailties, which were apparent once again. Doncaster might have begun the match with 10 men – Pascal Chimbonda having been ordered by Keith Stroud to remove his earring back in the dressing room – but by the 54th minute the division's lowest scorers before kick-off had scored twice.
Mamadou Bagayoko got the two goals, the Mali forward's first in English football since his January arrival. The first came after 32 minutes, soon after he had replaced the injured Habib Bam-ogo, Bagayoko rolling the loose ball home after Andy Lonergan saved at the feet of James Hayter. El-Hadji Diouf's through-ball was the catalyst for that goal, and in the 54th minute he turned a Tommy Spurr ball across goal for Bagayoko to score his second.
If that was the good of Diouf's contribution, the bad and the ugly followed after the final whistle when he and Ross McCormack exchanged words. As he entered the tunnel, the Leeds defender Alex Bruce raced after him and the plastic walls of the tunnel began shaking. More than a dozen police officers were soon rushing to the tunnel, though Redfearn did not comment and Dean Saunders, Doncaster's manager, did not attend the post-match press conference.
All that followed Leeds' revival. Thrown a lifeline by on-loan Tottenham midfielder Andros Townsend's first Leeds goal 60 seconds after they had fallen two behind, they had a let-off when Lonergan denied Bagayoko from close range before drawing level through a first-time Adam Clayton volley from Robert Snodgrass's left wing-cross.
Injuries to Spurr and Ronnie Rogers meant there were 10 minutes of added time, and in the ninth minute Becchio sealed the comeback, curling a shot past David Button after his initial effort had come off a defender. The Warnock era is up and running.

Telegraph 18/2/12
Dazzle or divorce for Neil Warnock and Ken Bates at Leeds United
Warning: fireworks alert. Stand well back. The fuse has been lit on the Neil Warnock-Ken Bates axis and sparks could fly between the Old Irascibles.
By Henry Winter
Yet look beyond their public images of prickly martinets and a picture emerges of old-school footballing men with much in common, notably a hunger to prove a point.
It could just work. The chemistry may be right. Warnock and Bates, the Odd Couple of Elland Road, could be a marriage made in heaven for a while.
It may eventually end in divorce, the papers probably served via toxic programme notes, but it could prove a productive relationship for Leeds United until then.
Warnock and Bates are already being painted as Statler and Waldorf, the Muppets legends who spend their life heckling biliously from the balcony yet actually agreeing on many issues. Warnock and Bates care about the game and certainly care about their own place in the English footballing firmament.
Each wants to get back into the Premier League. Each wants to answer critics. They know what they are getting into. Bates considered making Warnock manager at Chelsea. They are street-fighters in suits, driven by what Warnock called yesterday “the big challenge” of revitalising the biggest club outside the Premier League in terms of support.
Like Bates, Warnock is a figure of sustained controversy, although there was sympathy for the manner in which he was dismissed by QPR.
Like Bates, Warnock is tough, obdurate and occasionally obnoxious. Yet these are precisely the gritty qualities Leeds require in the scrap to climb out of the Championship. It’s no catwalk; it’s a hard slog requiring resilience.
Leeds fans will surely put aside their reservations about chairman and manager if they combine to lead the team back into the promised land.
It is an oft-expressed adage in the game that Warnock is arguably better suited to the Championship, organising and motivating average players, getting them to “run through walls for me” to borrow one of his favourite expressions.
As a Crystal Palace fan reflected on Warnock’s strength yesterday, “He’s a one-trick pony but a good trick until you’re promoted.”
The messages of goodwill from QPR fans towards Warnock were plenty yesterday, remembering how he had guided them up and also worked with strong personalities in the Loftus Road board room.
Even Warnock’s critics, and he has many within the game following falling-outs with officials and rival managers, would not be surprised if a re-galvanised Leeds went on a run, rising from mid-table into the play-off positions.
Warnock at Wembley on May 19? Don’t bet against it. The fireworks could be celebratory ones. It will certainly be worth watching.
Mail 18/2/12
Warnock takes charge at Leeds ahead of rival's £1m lure
By Joe Bernstein
Promotion specialist Neil Warnock rejected a £1million-a-year offer from ambitious League One club Huddersfield to manage Yorkshire rivals Leeds United.
Warnock was pursued by both clubs, with Huddersfield owner Dean Hoyle attempting to gazump Championship side Leeds by also making large funds available to try to get his team all the way to the Premier League.
Leeds owner Ken Bates met Warnock in Monaco on Friday and, while not able to match Huddersfield's basic salary, Warnock felt the chance to go to Elland Road was too good to turn down.
The move is a huge blow to Huddersfield, who were counting on recruiting Warnock when they sacked Lee Clark last week.
With the team fourth in League One, they hoped they would be more attractive than Leeds, whose fans are protesting against Bates for not investing in the team.
Warnock, sacked by QPR last month, has won promotion from the lower leagues seven times.
Bates and Warnock were spotted outside the Café de Paris in the appropriately titled Casino Square in Monaco on Friday.
Warnock said: 'I feel I have one big challenge left in me and believe Leeds is a club that should be in the Premier League.
'I want to be the man who is able to deliver this for a set of fans who never cease to amaze me with their numbers and their loyalty.
'Having met with Ken Bates it was an easy decision to take up the challenge and with his support, we share the same vision of getting Leeds United in the Premier League.'
Bates added: 'We believe the appointment is arguably the most important we have made. The objective was to appoint a manager who had for a proven track record of getting teams promoted and in Neil we have a man whose record is second to none.
'We want to be in the Premier League and we will support in the quest to get us there.'
The chairman later told Yorkshire Radio: 'Neil flew out to Monaco on Friday morning and we spent about six hours together. We discussed all aspects of the club, the squad, and we shook hands on a deal about 6pm before he flew home.
'He's confident. We go back a long way. I first tried to recruit him as manager when I was at Chelsea. I said to him it won't be long before people are referring to us as the odd couple.
He has a proven record, he knows what it takes, and he gets value for money out of players. Saturday is an important game, but there's still 42 points to play for after that and it's anybody's race. It's like when won promotion from League One with clubs knocking each other about a bit.
'This gives us a fresh start with a fresh attitude, and the players have to prove to the new manager they are worthy of playing for Leeds United.'
Bates described it as the most important managerial appointment since arriving at Leeds in 2005.
He said: 'It is. We've got everything else right, we're one of the most progressive clubs in the league, when you read about the troubles at others clubs which are coming out almost daily.
'We're stable, we have a good squad, a big squad, and an experienced manager and hopefully this is the last piece in the jigsaw to take us back where we belong.'
Warnock has been told he can bring in his own backroom staff and will ask his former assistants at QPR - Mick Jones and Keith Curle.
Neil Redfearn takes charge for Saturday's Championship game against Doncaster before returning to his role with the club's academy.
Warnock jumped to the top of Leeds' wish-list after Mick McCarthy made it clear he intended to take at least a month away from management following his dismissal by Wolves.
And Bates has wasted no time in making his move, knowing that the 63-year-old was also approached by Wolves.
Warnock would no doubt have been reminding Bates that QPR were the third club he'd taken into the top flight in a 32-year career which has seen him win promotion seven times.
Ray Fell, chairman of Leeds' supporters club, told Sky Sports News: 'He's a man that can motivate us and reopen our season.
'There's no money available so he may bring a loan player in or two - but he'll give us experience and get the most out of the players on the books, which for the last period hasn't been happening.'
Yorkshire Evening Post 15/2/12
Coventry City v Leeds United: McSheffrey breaks Whites hearts
By Phil Hay
The purpose of sacking Simon Grayson, or so Leeds United said, was to breathe life into their pursuit of promotion.
Two weeks on and wounded by a shocking defeat to Coventry City, that target looks more remote than ever.
Leeds took the view that dispensing with their former manager was an essential factor in making play-off qualification possible but so too were victories over teams as embattled as last night’s opponents. United’s chance seemed slender before kick-off at the Ricoh Arena and worse by full-time.
Saturday’s loss to Brighton, one of the Championship’s credible play-off contenders, muddied the club’s plan to install caretaker Neil Redfearn, Grayson’s temporary replacement, as manager until the end of the season but defeat to a Coventry team lodged at the foot of the league was more damning by half.
It was a match which United’s chairman, Ken Bates, termed “winnable” and a fixture that Leeds could not afford to waste while a gap of four points lay between them and sixth position.
Their campaign is not yet dead but it might be soon if more go begging before a difficult run-in begins at home to Southampton at the start of next month.
Leeds’ decision to risk a vital stage of the season on caretaker management seemed deeply misguided as the dust settled on a turgid contest in Coventry.
Ross McCormack’s first-half goal almost rescued a point for Leeds but it was not Redfearn’s intention to be rescuing anything against a club with so much to worry about.
From the moment Gary McSheffrey – a player who takes the unpopularity of loan signings among United’s support to a unique level – converted a penalty in the 20th minute, Leeds’ performance took on an anxious feel and a second penalty from in injury-time put his former club to the sword.
Redfearn uttered the tried-and-tested clichĂ© of “no easy games” before last night’s match but Coventry were at the softer end of the spectrum: sitting ducks with no form, minimal hope and fewer fit players than they required.
Their spine was badly weakened by injuries to Sammy Clingan and Richard Wood, two reliable campaigners.
Leeds, as expected, were unchanged with nothing more notable than the inclusion of Andy O’Brien among Redfearn’s substitutes.
It marked the completion of his re-integration at Elland Road and his first appearance in the club’s squad since their 1-0 win at Leicester City on early November.
That visit to the Midlands seemed an eternity ago.
Redfearn’s players did not take long to discover the thickness of Coventry’s hide.
McCormack was allowed to shoot unhindered after receiving Danny Pugh’s throw-in in the second minute, and basic interplay between McCormack and Luciano Becchio two minutes later saw Aidan White flash the ball over Joe Murphy’s goal. Coventry had the manner of a team waiting to be stretched.
News of their problems has not been exaggerated.
The Ricoh Arena was half-empty last night and a virtual ghost town in some parts.
What further damage relegation would do to the club is anyone’s guess.
Thorn’s players were willing but hampered by brittle confidence until McSheffrey’s goal gave the night an unexpected complexion.
From there, they were the better side and their win was utterly deserved.
It was Coventry, too, who saw more of the ball in a quiet first half which deserved the eerie atmosphere created by a vacuous ground.
The game cried out for a goal from the outset and it came in the 20th minute after Danny Pugh clipped Alex Nimely’s heel inside the box.
Referee Pat Miller had no option but to point to the spot but confusion surrounded a flag waved by one of his assistants as Nimely broke into United’s area.
Miller ignored it despite Lonergan’s attempts to direct him to the touchline and McSheffrey stroked home a composed penalty. His celebration in front of the away crowd was as well received as his stint of service at Elland Road in 2010.
It was not the scenario Redfearn envisaged and the composure of his players threatened to fail them. Adam Clayton overran the ball and was dispossessed by a sliding tackle as McCormack stood unmarked, waiting for a pass 10 yards from goal but an equaliser materialised quickly enough, scored by the Scottish striker in the 32nd minute.
The build-up to it was scrappy and unintentional with Clayton forcing a pass to Luciano Becchio and the ball deflecting kindly to the feet of McCormack.
Amid a suspicion of offside, he picked his head up and found only Joe Murphy in front of him, and his delicate finish found the corner of the goalkeeper’s net.
The reassurance that gave Redfearn was almost shattered when Becchio met Clive Platt’s goalbound header and flicked it over Lonergan’s crossbar, and United’s keeper handled McSheffrey’s shot safely after scrambled defending in front of him in the closing minutes of the half.
Pugh was also called on to hook the ball clear from under his own bar after Adam Smith conceded possession and left his side exposed on the right wing and vulnerable to another header Platt.
United’s contribution to the first 45 minutes barely passed as satisfactory and nor did the scoreline.
Redfearn attempted to elicit an increase in United’s urgency at the interval but the early stages of the second half did not bode well.
Tom Lees blocked a vicious volley from McSheffrey, and a deft through-ball from the winger gave Carl Baker a chance which he lobbed wastefully over Lonergan and the bar.
Injury
Redfearn’s response – enforced by an injury to Fabian Delph – was to send Michael Brown into the trenches with half an hour left.
Within moments, a glorious opportunity fell to Aidan White who reached the edge of the box and drove a shot against Murphy’s foot but Coventry came just as close when Oliver Norwood’s free-kick whipped through a crowded box and bounced beyond the far post.
It was anyone’s game by then and horribly tense.
McCormack saw the whites of Murphy’s eyes again as the clock ticked on but snatched at his shot, and the substitution of McCormack on 83 minutes drew howls of protest against Redfearn and Bates from the mass of 3,214 away fans.
It also prompted chants in support of Grayson, and McSheffrey finished United off after Nimely was brought down eight yards from goal. Suffice to say, this is not what was intended.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Yorkshire Evening Post 13/2/12
Leeds United v Brighton and Hove Albion: Redfearn’s bid suffers knock
By Phil Hay
The problem for Neil Redfearn is that this was always a game of results.
Other candidates for the manager’s job at Leeds United can seduce the club with CVs and track records but Redfearn will live or die as caretaker on the strength of scorelines like Saturday’s, harsh though it was.
No matter that Brighton’s victory relied on an injury-time goal or that Leeds felt the rougher end of the stick wielded by an erratic referee. No matter, either, that the effort of Redfearn’s players justified their many votes of confidence in him.
Two goals to one in black and white and a defeat which weakened the prospects created for Redfearn by a win over Bristol City and a three-match trial from chairman Ken Bates.
Ruthless as it sounds, another loss in Coventry tomorrow could draw a line under this experiment and return Leeds to the drawing board in search of the appointment they might have made immediately after sacking Simon Grayson on the first day of the month.
It was asking much of Redfearn, United’s academy coach, to steady a ship that sank slowly under Grayson, and a 3-0 victory at Bristol City was as good a start as any. Had Leeds shaded a 50-50 match against Brighton, a game in which their rigid system strangled Albion’s flair, his stock would have risen on Saturday night. But the automatic reaction to the outcome at full-time was to ask if United’s board were twiddling their thumbs while Rome lies short of the play-offs.
Alan Navarro struck the telling blow, beating United goalkeeper Andy Lonergan with an opportunistic hit from the edge of the box. The timing of the strike in the first minute of stoppage-time was decisive, leaving no scope for a repeat of the fightback mounted by Leeds 19 minutes earlier.
Craig Mackail-Smith necessitated that by scoring three minutes after entering the fray as a substitute but Luciano Becchio equalised almost instantly, creating a wealth of possibilities.
Redfearn rued Navarro’s finish, just as he rued the failure of Graham Salisbury to award the most obvious of penalties in the first half. He might also ask if more forthright use of his bench in the 20 minutes leading up to Mackail-Smith’s goal would have tipped the balance in the home side’s favour.
The 46-year-old spoke afterwards of ingrained weakness and familiar problems; the issues, in short, which cost Grayson his job. It is unfair to expect that Redfearn, for all his experience of professional football, could eradicate them in the space of four matches or invoke an alternative style. Nothing about the season’s struggle is his fault or even his responsibility but this was a mirror-image of Grayson’s team and tactics.
Leeds look ever more like a club seeking fresh blood off the pitch and fresh blood on it.
Their game at Ashton Gate a weekend earlier was a challenge for Redfearn, 72 hours after Grayson’s dismissal. United’s meeting with Brighton felt more like an opportunity, the start of a window given to him by Bates to prove that he can be more than a stop-gap.
How comfortably his appointment would sit with the club’s rank and file is questionable – more so after Saturday’s loss – and a march organised by the Leeds United Supporters’ Trust before the loss to Brighton was a demonstration of their disillusionment. West Yorkshire Police estimated a turn-out of around 1,000 during a rally between Leeds City Square and Elland Road.
Redfearn had vowed to divorce himself from matters beyond his control, and the division between club and a section of United’s fans was certainly that. Head down and eyes fixed on Albion, he made no changes to the team which dispatched nine-man Bristol City.
Gus Poyet, the Brighton manager, pulled an age old-trick by dropping Mackail-Smith in the same week as claiming there was “no chance” of the striker losing his place. The scorer of two goals in Leeds’ 3-3 draw at The Amex in September had claimed only two in 23 games since. It was Redfearn’s misfortune to see his touch return.
The danger to United, statistically at least, was Will Buckley whose goals earned Poyet a nomination for manager of the month in January, but Leeds cornered him on the right wing and denied him a sniff before his substitution at half-time.
Sniffs in general were few in number, but Leeds dictated a tight first half. Becchio skewed a header wide after Robert Snodgrass worked enough space out of Joe Mattock to deliver a cross, and it took 12 minutes for Salisbury to reacquaint himself with the Elland Road crowd.
Weight
The Lancashire official is remembered in these parts as the referee who dismissed Max Gradel on the afternoon of United’s promotion from League One. Salisbury’s picky display against Barnsley in November tarnished an already dubious reputation and he exceeded himself by refusing to penalise Brighton defender Adam El-Abd for pole-axing Ross McCormack inside Brighton’s box. El-Abd flattened the striker with the full weight of his body but looked up to find Salisbury motionless and unimpressed by McCormack’s collapse. At first sight the decision looked indefensible and replays of the foul did Salisbury no credit.
In arriving second to that challenge, El-Abd summed up Brighton for 25 minutes: rarely in the game and unable to bring any weight to bear on Lonergan. For Redfearn, it was a more convincing advertisement of his coaching nous than the first 40 minutes at Aston Gate a week earlier.
Navarro saw both of Brighton’s first two chances in the space of a minute, slashing one volley over the crossbar and driving another more controlled attempt into Lonergan’s arms from 20 yards. Gordon Greer knocked a corner into the stands as criticism of Salisbury’s officiating grew vociferous. The half threatened to belong to him, as it had once before, and his loss of footing in the 34th minute was manna from heaven for the spectators.
A change in the wind seemed evident by the time Lonergan dived to punch away Liam Bridcutt’s sweetly-hit shot, but the remaining minutes before half-time were disjointed and wayward. With 43 gone, Sam Vokes narrowly failed to apply the touch need to bury Ashley Barnes’ knockdown and claim a goal Brighton had scarcely earned.
The opening stages of the second half alone were more promising than all that had gone before. Becchio failed by inches to slide Snodgrass’ cross into the net and two excellent saves from Lonergan – both with his fingertips – denied Mattock and Vokes at the other end. Vokes should have converted the corner which followed his own effort but connected weakly with a cross from Buckley’s replacement, Craig Noone.
The tit-for-tat exchange was akin to the clubs’ first meeting of the season, and the promise of a goal hung in the air. Adam Smith, United’s right-back, hooked the ball over Peter Brezovan’s net after Kazenga LuaLua’s misplaced pass left Albion vulnerable and McCormack did the same when Adam Clayton found him with a clever pass over the head of El-Abd. The attacks checked a Brighton side whose reputed skill was starting to show itself.
Redfearn watched and waited as Tom Lees scuffed a header kindly into Brezovan’s hands and Becchio struck El-Abd in the face, earning one of a clutch of yellow cards. But Mackail-Smith’s entrance came in the 74th minute and so did Brighton’s route to victory, opened within three minutes when the striker side-footed Vicente’s corner into the net from point-blank range.
Just as quickly, Becchio met Snodgrass’ corner with a deadly header, guiding it with precision through a crowded box and beating Brezovan at his far post.
His finish left the game on the edge and there it remained until Navarro struck, driving the ball home as Albion’s players swarmed all over United’s box with the intention of shooting to kill. “Wherever we play,” said Poyet, “we play to win.”

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Mail 12/2/12
Leeds United 1 Brighton 2: Bates under fire from gun of Navarro
Alan Navarro struck an injury-time winner for Brighton than keeps them unbeaten in 2012, denting Neil Redfearn's hopes of becoming the next Leeds manager in the process.
The 46-year-old has been granted what amounts to a four-game interview to impress after the sacking of Simon Grayson 10 days ago and, after winning at Bristol City last weekend, looked to have remained unbeaten when Luciano Becchio cancelled out Craig Mackail-Smith's opener.
But, just as four minutes of injury time were displayed, Liam Bridcutt won the ball in midfield and played in Navarro and his low drive from the edge of the box went in via a deflection off Adam Smith to silence Elland Road.
It was unfortunate for Redfearn and his players who had done enough to at least warrant a point but, once the final whistle was blown, the anger from the terraces - which had prompted a pre-match protest march against chairman Ken Bates - returned, with several fans voicing their disapproval at Redfearn's temporary appointment.
The former Barnsley midfielder was the first man since Grayson to occupy the home dugout since December 2008 - a home defeat under Gary McAllister - and his side set off as though a loss was not an option.
They should have been ahead inside four minutes - Becchio's header grazing the post after Robert Snodgrass has turned inside Joe Mattock - and had a seemingly solid shout for a penalty turned down not long after.
Smith's cross from the right fell to Ross McCormack and, as the 15-goal striker teed up a shot, he was clattered to the ground by Adam El-Abd.
Referee Graham Salisbury did not agree with the protests of the Leeds players, though, leaving Redfearn to open a heated conversation with the fourth official.
McCormack, a scorer of two goals when these sides drew 3-3 in September, then shot over from an ambitious 35 yards before former Leeds loanee Sam Vokes, now on a temporary deal with Brighton, played in Navarro whose effort was also too high.
That effort signalled the start of some Brighton pressure, with Navarro and then Bridcutt working Andy Lonergan from distance, with Leeds responding through a near-post drive from Smith that nearly caught Peter Brezovan napping in the away goal.
Neither side was particularly able to get in behind the other during the opening half, but that changed within 60 seconds of the restart and only some desperate defending from Mattock kept Brighton level.
Aidan White's pass put Snodgrass into the area and, after his low cross was shelled by Brezovan, Mattock prevented Becchio from bundling in at the back post.
If that was the game's closest shave it was quickly bettered, with Lonergan producing a fine one-handed save to keep out Ashley Barnes, although the Leeds captain nearly undid his good work with two fumbles from corners - the second of which saw him eventually fall gratefully onto a Vokes header.
With both sides now fully committed to attacking, Snodgrass worked some space for Smith whose edge-of-the-area scoop floated over, before McCormack was also off target after Adam Clayton's outside-of-the-boot ball from deep in his own half had cut Brighton open.
But, having made the majority of the running, the home side would fall behind with 13 minutes remaining, with Mackail-Smith doing the damage just three minutes after replacing Vokes.
The Leeds defence lost the Scotland international in the box and, once Vicente's cross had picked him out, his eighth goal of the season duly followed.
However, their lead would last no longer than two minutes, with Becchio peeling off his marker at the front post and glancing a Snodgrass corner into the far corner.
But there was still more drama to come, with Bridcutt winning the ball and giving Navarro the chance to seal victory - an opportunity he duly took.
Yorkshire Evening Post 12/2/12
Leeds United fans stage rally and protest march
By Bruce Smith
FREEZING temperatures failed to weaken the determination of disenchanted fans to make their calls heard across the city centre for changes in Leeds United’s team and club management policy.
Several hundred joined a demonstration followed by a protest march to the ground to make their grievances heard once again.
The protesters co-ordinated by the Leeds United Supporters Trust, gathered in City Square Prior to the home match against Brighton and Hove Albion.
Flanked by police on foot, horse and motorcycle back, they waived their banners proudly proclaiming “Premier League Not Premier Inn” and “Morons” while chanting calling for club owner Ken Bates to go.
They were there to highlight the continuing concerns of many fans about United’s failure to achieve promotion to the Premiership, the lack of top player purchases despite extensive investment in ground facilities, the loss of proven team members, the reliance on loan players and paying Premiership size ticket prices to watch lesser Championship football.
Under close police escort and headed by vans with blue flashing lights they marched chanting down a prearranged route down Bishopgate Street to the Dark Arches and Neville Street before heading along Meadow Lane and into the commercial back-streets of Holbeck along Sweet Street, Ninevah Road, Stocks Hill, Top Moor Side and Cemetery Road over the M621 and down to Elland Road and the ground.
At the ground they continued to waive their protest banners and sing their strongly worded anti Bates slogans as they gathered at crowd barriers put up around the entrance to the club building watched by security guards.
Finally having given voice to their grievances they dispersed to enter the ground and watch the Whites lose 2-1.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

New pages uploaded at mightyleeds.co.uk

Season Review 1972/73

Part 1 - Rebuilding from the back
Don Revie moves into the transfer market to solve the knotty problem of having to replace two England international defenders


Part 2 - Defending the Cup
United begin their campaign ro retain the FA Cup they won for the first time in May 1972 with a marathon encounter with Norwich City


Part 3 - The Revie-Clough wrangle
The early months of 1973 were dominated by irritable bickering between the managers of Leeds United and Derby County

Link
Part 4 - The Revie for Everton affair
Don Revie was in bits after the Sunderland debacle and was tempted by a new start at Everton as United prepared for the Cup Winners Cup final


Part 5 - Results, Table and Transfers
All the results, line ups, scorers, attendances, final table and transfers from the 1972/73 season

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Yorkshire Evening Post 8/2/12
Whites ponder next move in hunt for new manager
By Phil Hay
Leeds United are poised to step up discussions about their next manager after narrowing down the list of candidates for the vacant job at Elland Road.
United are understood to have reviewed applications for the post on Monday, and further consideration of their preferred options is set to begin with chairman Ken Bates arriving in Leeds ahead of Saturday’s match with Brighton.
The club’s senior squad are expected to remain in the hands of caretaker manager Neil Redfearn this weekend, his second match in temporary charge, but Leeds look ready to move forward with their search after taking time to consider the flood of interest in the vacancy at Elland Road.
The list of options includes ex-Queens Park Rangers manager Neil Warnock, while sources close to Dave Jones have confirmed that the former Cardiff City boss is keen on replacing Simon Grayson.
Jones has been out of work since leaving Cardiff at the end of last season having failed to win promotion from the Championship with an expensively-built squad, but he is ready to speak with United if the club move to make contact with him.
One-time Derby County and Nottingham Forest manager Billy Davies has also come to the fore in the past 48 hours but the YEP understands an offer to him is unlikely.
Leeds decided against rush to judgement after axing Grayson last Wednesday so United’s players have been under Redfearn’s command this week and, barring a sudden announcement, the 46-year-old is likely to be on the touchline in a caretaker capacity on Saturday, and his tenure could extend beyond the Brighton clash with Leeds facing another league fixture at Coventry on Tuesday.
Redfearn’s reign began with a 3-0 victory at Bristol City and United’s refusal to make a snap appointment raised the possibility that Redfearn might be left at the helm for the remainder of the Championship season.
Leeds have 17 matches left to play and are two points outside the play-off positions.
Redfearn, the club’s academy coach, has steadfastly refused to comment on his long-term prospecs, saying only he had “been told to keep going and keep doing the job until I’m told otherwise. It’s indefinite until a decision’s made”.
Bates was returning from a holiday in South Africa on the day of Grayson’s sacking and planned to fly into Leeds towards the end of this week for the first home game since Grayson’s departure.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Yorkshire Evening Post 6/2/12
Redfearn among bookmakers’ favourites for job
By Lee Sobot
Neil Redfearn is now among the bookmakers’ favourites to become the next permanent Leeds United boss with the 46-year-old expected to be in charge for this weekend’s home clash with Brighton.
Caretaker-boss Redfearn became market leader for the first time since Simon Grayson’s departure yesterday – replacing former front-runners Neil Warnock, Lee Clark, Bryan Robson and latterly Dave Jones.
Former Nottingham Forest boss Billy Davies then became the sixth manager to lead the betting market yesterday and he has refused to rule himself out of the running.
Asked if he would be tempted by a move to Elland Road, Davies said: “I’m prepared to listen to anybody. I’ve got no preference – Scotland, England or abroad.
“I’m very happy and very much looking forward to discussing with any interested party.
“That will be at any level. I don’t care what division it is in. I will always give them the courtesy.”
But Redfearn remains quietly fancied to get the Elland Road job and looks almost certain to be in charge for Saturday’s visit of Brighton.
Victory there would see Redfearn’s odds shorten further and increase his prospects of landing the role – whether it be as part of a permanent deal or on a rolling basis until the end of the season.
The former midfielder did his prospects no harm whatsoever on Saturday when leading the Whites to a 3-0 success at Bristol City who finished the game with nine men.
That victory left United ninth in the Championship table - level on points with Saturday’s visitors Brighton and only two points off the play-offs.
Academy coach Redfearn has received nothing but glowing praise from United’s first team players and has stated his desire to take the United reins permanently.
Overall favourite for the role at present is former Forest boss Davies who became the fourth manager to be odds-on for the position yesterday following similar market moves form Warnock, Clark and Jones.
However, those market moves are only thought to have materialised because those managers concerned are seemingly interested in the job.
Available at double figure prices are Chelsea assistant boss Roberto Di Matteo and former Sunderland manager Steve Bruce while former Sheffield United boss Robson has drifted right out to 20-1 after his brief stint as favourite on Saturday morning.
Former Real Madrid, Barcelona and Serbia coach Raddy Antic who has definitely applied for the job is also available at double-figure odds.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Mail 4/2/12
Bristol City 0 Leeds 3: Whites bounce back to savage nine-man Robins
Robert Snodgrass, Ross McCormack and Luciano Becchio were all on target at nine-man Bristol City as caretaker-manager Neil Redfearn steered Leeds to their first npower Championship win on the road in five matches.
Redfearn, who has refused to rule himself out of the running for the job on a permanent basis after Simon Grayson was sacked on Wednesday, made a winning start to life as temporary boss thanks to Snodgrass' 12th of the season at the end of the first half, McCormack's 15th in the 79th minute and a late Becchio strike.
But Redfearn and Leeds were given a big helping hand by City pair James Wilson and Yannick Bolasie, who were both sent off by referee James Linington.
Defender Wilson was shown a straight red card for a professional foul after bringing down McCormack in the 44th minute and the home side were reduced to nine men when winger Bolasie was booked twice in three minutes early in the second period.
Former Leeds midfielder Neil Kilkenny was back in City's starting line-up against his former club, while defenders Liam Fontaine and Wilson were also recalled to the side.
Danny Pugh replaced Andros Townsend on the left side of midfield for Leeds and new loan signing Adam Smith made his debut in the back four following his deadline-day arrival from Tottenham.
City began to look the more impressive side after a scrappy opening. Bolasie forced Leeds goalkeeper Andy Lonergan into a full-length save with a shot from outside the area and Kilkenny was also on target with a thumping drive that was well held.
City were the dominant side but created little and save for Albert Adomah's angled drive, which was brilliantly turned away by Lonergan in the 38th minute, had nothing to show for their efforts.
Leeds then took the lead against the run of play with their first meaningful attack.
A swift break involving Becchio, Pugh and McCormack set up Snodgrass on the edge of the area and his low shot wrong-footed City goalkeeper David James.
The home side were then reduced to 10 men just before the interval. Wilson gave chase after McCormack had darted clear on goal and after hauling down the Scottish striker, the City defender was dismissed.
City manager Derek McInnes sacrificed playmaker Kilkenny in order to send on Ryan McGivern, another defender, at half-time.
But McInnes' plans were in disarray within 12 minutes of the second half following the sending-off of Bolasie.
Having just been booked for his foul on Leeds debutant Smith, the Congolese was shown a second yellow card for another poor challenge on the same player and City's uphill task suddenly became mountainous. Leeds moved the ball from one side of the pitch to the other to stretch City's nine men and after creating numerous chances made the game safe with a second goal in the 79th minute.
Midfielder Adam Clayton clipped a fine ball over the City defence into the path of McCormack, who lashed home a low angled shot inside the far post from the edge of the area, and Becchio completed the scoring by firing home Aidan White's cross in stoppage time.
Yorkshire Post 3/2/12
Redfearn now has opportunity to turn talisman in Leeds cause
By Richard Sutcliffe
DURING a career that has taken in not only tragedy and joy but also stints at a host of Yorkshire clubs, Neil Redfearn has become a familiar figure to the region’s football fraternity.
Revered in Barnsley as the talismanic midfielder that dragged Barnsley into the Premier League for the first time, the 46-year-old is also fondly remembered in Bradford, Doncaster, Halifax and Scarborough for the commitment and desire that characterised his every deed.
Now, Leeds United are hoping Redfearn can provide a safe pair of hands in the wake of Simon Grayson’s departure after being asked to step into the breach by chairman Ken Bates.
Barring a dramatic turn of events, he will be in the dugout at Bristol City after taking charge of training for the last couple of days and determined to make his mark.
“What happened to Simon did come a bit out of the blue (on Wednesday),” said United’s caretaker manager. “I have been here at Leeds for the three years that Simon was here.
“Him and the other coaches who have left did a terrific job.
“It is a sad day because I have worked with the guy for three years and it is difficult when these things happen.
“But after taking the news in, I then had that night to think about the lads and what I want to do against Bristol City.
“I have watched all the home games this season and I am well aware of what the players are capable of. The key is going to be getting them over it (Grayson’s sacking) pretty quick and getting them ready for Bristol City.
“I have put one or two things in their mind (during training) and obviously I am not going to make wholesale changes. But I need to get them comfortable with what we are doing.
“We have got the talent to go there and get a result, it is just a matter of setting them up right.”
Asked how the players had reacted to the news of Grayson’s departure, Redfearn added: “They are okay but it is difficult because it got dropped on them. But now they have got new ideas and a new voice.
“They have worked hard and all I have worked on is getting them focused (for tomorrow’s match).”
Redfearn says Leeds have no fresh injury problems following the 4-1 defeat that brought an end to Grayson’s reign other than “bruised pride”.
One player who will not be involved tomorrow, however, is Andy O’Brien, the defender having only returned to training yesterday from treatment for depression.
Redfearn, a former team-mate of O’Brien at Valley Parade, said: “He is going to need a little bit of work because he is short of match fitness.
“But it was good to have Andy back because he is a good player. He is familiar with the lads and everyone knows him. Andy also brings experience and he is like having a new signing.”
Redfearn’s playing career started as a teenager with Bolton Wanderers before a move to Lincoln City meant he was in the Imps side at Valley Parade on May 11, 1985, when fire ripped through the main stand.
Fifty-six fans died that day and the harrowing experience went a long way towards forming the character that became such a popular figure throughout his career.
As a manager, he twice took temporary charge of Halifax Town before being appointed at Scarborough in 2005. After a year on the East coast, he moved on to Northwich Victoria and York City as youth team coach before joining the Leeds Academy staff three years ago.
The chance to take charge of the first-team, albeit on a temporary basis, is one Readfearn is relishing.
He said: “I have been handed the caretaker job for the time being and it is important that we put a side together who can get a result at Bristol City.
“I have got to focus on that and make sure the lads are ready. This is a blank canvas for them. I know a few from the reserves and this will give them a chance to get back in.
“I don’t expect to make too many changes at this stage. I was at the Birmingham game and it was surreal. For 45 minutes, we played well, but then the big fella (Nicole Zigic) had a purple patch and it became a difficult night.
“The key now is make sure the lads move on. It is always about your next game.”
Asked about whether he would be interested in the job on a full-time basis, Redfearn replied: “It has all happened very quickly so things are still a bit raw.
“I am focused on the game and want to get a result. I am enjoying myself immensely at Leeds United.
“I have not put myself under any pressure. I am in this position and I want to help this club through. I am capable of making the step up, that goes without saying. But the bottom line is up to the club.
“The decision is out of my hands. From my point of view, I am only interested in the Bristol City game and making sure everything is ready. Whatever happens, I will take in my stride.
“I look in on everything that goes on and you take a big interest in everything because you are part of it. You want it to go well.
“I have been watching from afar and watching things develop but it has dropped in my lap and it is about being ready.
“But it is about the lads, not me. What matters is how you react and pick up the pieces after a shock like this. We have got a big game at Bristol City now. What is important is that we rally round and get a result there.”
Yorkshire Post 2/2/12
Fairytale comes to an abrupt end for man with Leeds in his heart
By Richard Sutcliffe
EVEN when the pressure was on with speculation raging over his future as Leeds United manager, Simon Grayson was rarely someone to be fazed. Nor did he lose his sense of humour.
Typical was Monday’s exchange with this reporter when, after answering questions about all manner of subjects from the January transfer window through to his own job security, there was a slight pause.
“So, are you going to ask me about Alan Smith?”
The one-time Leeds United hero, a major transfer target of Grayson’s the previous summer, had joined Milton Keynes Dons on loan just a couple of days earlier so was on the list of topics to be covered.
“Okay, Simon, Alan Smith. Was he on your list of targets during this window?”
The reply was succinct and to the point. “No comment.” Then, as if affronted by the question, a stern-faced Grayson stood up as if setting off towards the door before turning back at the last moment with a broad smile on his face.
For the next couple of minutes, the United manager then outlined his stance on Smith and why his lack of football had deterred the club making a fresh approach for the Newcastle United midfielder.
It was Grayson all over, keeping from all but his close and loyal circle of friends the undoubted pressure he was feeling after what had been a testing couple of months which had also included the enforced sale of his captain Jonny Howson.
The same could be said about similarly difficult periods earlier in his 37-month reign – even the chastening home defeats to the likes of Swindon Town, Blackpool and Preston North End were unable to shatter the veneer of calmness that Grayson invariably exuded.
By Tuesday night, however, something had changed. I was in the Elland Road tunnel when Grayson emerged half-an-hour or so after the final whistle had blown at the end of United’s 4-1 defeat to Birmingham City.
For the first time, he looked a beaten man, his eyes betraying the emotions of a man who sensed a fatal blow had been inflicted on his tenure at the helm of a club he has supported since childhood.
Listening to the interview he then conducted with Eddie Gray for Yorkshire Radio merely added to my belief that even Grayson’s ability to ride the knocks that come every manager’s way had been stretched to the limit.
He was saying all the right things about “needing to work hard on the training pitch” and taking “confidence from how we played for an hour”.
But, for the first time, Grayson’s words sounded hollow – almost as if he did not believe them himself.
Less than 12 hours later, the 42-year-old’s reign was over – the final act coming via a summons from chief executive Shaun Harvey to Thorp Arch, where he and his coaching staff were told of their dismissals.
Sackings are, of course, a sad fact of life for any manager.
No one bar Sir Alex Ferguson in the modern game is immune from the axe, with even Arsene Wenger having come under increasing pressure at Arsenal over the past 12 months.
What Grayson was able to do, however, amid the sadness of having to clear his desk yesterday morning was look back with pride on the job he has done at Elland Road.
Certainly, Leeds United are in a much healthier shape than they were when he walked through the door to succeed Gary McAllister just before Christmas, 2008.
During the intervening years, promotion from what to Leeds was fast becoming the wasteland of League One was secured along with the end of a near-three decade wait for a victory at Old Trafford against bitter rivals Manchester United.
Battling draws at Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal in the FA Cup were also notable, not least for allowing United’s long-suffering supporters to bask in the glow of their club being back in the spotlight for all the right reasons.
Restoring that sense of pride to Leeds mattered to Grayson, a boyhood fan who went on to realise his dream by joining the staff as an apprentice.
Handed his debut by Billy Bremner, Ripon-born Grayson may have then had to leave Elland Road to become an established first-team regular, but he never lost his links to Leeds. Coming back as manager, therefore, felt right. It also meant he understood the joy that winning at Old Trafford gave supporters.
He also knew just how vital escaping League One was for United and that the manager who then took the club back into the Premier League would be assured a place in history.
As Grayson celebrated his second anniversary in charge at Christmas, 2010, it looked increasingly like he could be that man to end the club’s exile from the elite.
A 2-0 victory over runaway leaders QPR at Elland Road on the final Saturday before the festive season had nudged Leeds up to second in the table.
They were there on merit, too, with the manner in which Neil Warnock’s side had been comprehensively beaten suggesting United had the artillery to rein in even the Londoners during the second half of the campaign.
Coming on the back of a thrilling fightback at Burnley a week earlier that had seen a 2-0 deficit at half-time turned into all three points come the final whistle, the sky really did seem the limit for Grayson.
With hindsight, however, that win at home to QPR was, even allowing for United’s 1-1 draw at Arsenal a couple of weeks later, to be the last true high point of his reign.
On Boxing Day and eight days after QPR had been dismissed, a two-goal lead at Leicester City was squandered and Leeds had to settle for a point. It was the same story two days later when Portsmouth escaped with a point despite seeming down and out at 3-1.
The defensive frailty that had peaked in the autumn when Preston North End became the first side to score six goals in a league game at Elland Road had returned.
And, despite wholesale changes in personnel at the back over the past year and a switch of goalkeeper in the summer, it never really went away, culminating in the four-goal salvo from Nikola Zigic that brought the curtain down on Grayson’s reign.

Yorkshire Post 2/2/12
Favourite Warnock unlikely to snub a second offer to work for Elland Road boss
By Richard Sutcliffe
WHILE the noises coming out of Elland Road last night suggested caretaker manager Neil Redfearn will still be in charge at Bristol City on Saturday, there can be little doubt time is of the essence for Leeds United’s hierarchy.
That much was made clear by Ken Bates and chief executive Shaun Harvey, who in the wake of Simon Grayson’s sacking both said a place in the play-offs remained a viable target.
Any delay, therefore, in terms of getting a new manager in could seriously damage those hopes which led to speculation yesterday that the club are keen to make a quick appointment
Once the inevitable betting markets that follow every major sacking these days had opened, former Sheffield United Neil Warnock emerged as the early favourite ahead of Roberto Di Matteo and Gordon Strachan.
Of that trio favoured by the bookmakers, the Yorkshire Post understands Warnock is very interested in the job and would relish the challenge of making Leeds the fourth club he has led into the top flight of English football.
Sacked by QPR last month, the 63-year-old has, according to sources in Suffolk, been sounded out about his potential interest in the Ipswich Town job should Paul Jewell be sacked or quit.
It is Leeds, however, and a possible return to his native Yorkshire that really appeals to Warnock, who more than 20 years ago was offered the chance to become Chelsea manager by Bates.
He turned that opportunity down, opting to remain loyal to Notts County having just led the Meadow Club to promotion from the old Second Division.
The rejection is not believed to have been held against Warnock, who three seasons ago was seen enjoying a drink with Bates at Elland Road after his Crystal Palace side had been beaten 4-0 in the Carling Cup.
Di Matteo, meanwhile, remains a close friend of Bates and his wife Suzannah from their days together at Chelsea.
The former Italian international led MK Dons to the League One play-offs before being lured away by West Bromwich Albion.
In his only full season at The Hawthorns, Albion won automatic promotion to the Premier League.
He is now on Andre Villas-Boas’s coaching staff at Stamford Bridge, meaning any return to the Championship is likely to involve a pay cut on his part.
A further complication could be his links with SW6 given how reluctant Leeds supporters were to embrace another Chelsea old boy when Dennis Wise succeeded Kevin Blackwell in 2006.
Completing the list of early favourites in the betting market last night was Strachan, who has been without a job since leaving Middlesbrough last season, and former Huddersfield Town manager Steve Bruce.
Another name linked with the vacancy has been that of Gus Poyet but it is understood the one-time assistant is not in the running due to Leeds being unhappy with the manner of the Uruguayan’s departure to Tottenham in 2007.
Whoever succeeds Grayson will be expected to hit the ground running. He will inherit a squad with sufficient quality to be challenging for promotion but one that has lost its way in recent weeks.
The opening hour against Birmingham on Tuesday apart, United have struggled since claiming back-to-back wins over Nottingham Forest and Millwall during the emotion-charged aftermath of Gary Speed’s death.
Results may not have been too bad with the three games preceding Tuesday’s 4-1 defeat to Birmingham yielding seven points.
But the level of performance has been poor with the suspicion being that United were only able to fight their way back into the games against Burnley, Crystal Palace and Ipswich Town due to all three being reduced to 10 men.
A fresh voice may well provide the key which unlocks the undoubted potential that exists at Elland Road. The only question now is to whom that voice will belong. Over to you, Ken.