Tuesday, July 30, 2013

‘Radio Ken’ goes quiet as Leeds pull plug on Yorkshire station

YEP 30/7/13
by Paul Robinson
LEEDS United have dramatically pulled the plug on their in-house radio station.
Yorkshire Radio will be going off air at 6pm today, the club announced in a statement.
The statement said United wanted to concentrate their digital media output on their website and LUTV online television channel.
Leeds managing director David Haigh said: “This is one of the toughest decisions we have made, and we would like to place on record our thanks to all the staff at Yorkshire Radio, who have worked tremendously hard over the years to build up a Yorkshire sports station on DAB.”
Yorkshire Radio was launched in 2006, just over a year into Ken Bates’ time in charge at Leeds. Speaking at the time, he said: “This gives us a potential audience of some four to five million listeners. Since coming to Leeds I have been very impressed by the people of Yorkshire and the vibrancy of the county and I think they deserve a radio station to match.”
Bates was removed as president at the end of last week by the club’s recently-installed owners, Dubai-based investment bank GFH Capital.
A message posted on Twitter by Yorkshire Radio director Ben Fry said: “Thanks to everyone who has listened to the station over the last seven years and to those who have contributed on air and supported us.”
Yorkshire Radio covered a wide range of sports and clubs but its biggest attraction for listeners was the full United match commentaries it provided. But the writing had been on the wall for the station since GFH signed a deal last month that allowed BBC Radio Leeds to resume United match commentaries after a lengthy absence.
Writing online after news of the BBC deal was announced, Yorkshire Radio’s United commentator Thom Kirwin said: “Listener choice is only going to be a good thing for everyone and whichever way you choose to listen this season let’s just hope it’s a successful campaign, that’s all we want and all that matters. Myself and (regular co-commentator Eddie Gray) will be covering every game this season.”

McDermott wants one more

Leeds boss Brian McDermott has not given up on bringing one more player to the club before the start of the new season.
McDermott has signed three players during the summer, but had suggested he would have to sell in order to add anymore new faces to his squad.
The former Reading boss revealed after the weekend defeat to Nuremburg however, that there had been some interest in one of his current players and this could lead to one more new arrival ahead of Saturday's opening league fixture against Brighton.
"We've had a little bit of an enquiry," McDermott said. "Monday, Tuesday we'll see what happens.
"Maybe that would let me do something the other way.
"If someone left the building, someone could possibly come in. That's how it is."
Leeds closed their pre-season fixture programme with a 4-0 win over Irish side Shelbourne on Monday evening.
Winger Ryan Hall scored twice, while Noel Hunt and Ross Killock were also on the scoresheet.
McDermott told the club's official website: "I was delighted with the whole group.
"We got up at 4am, travelled out here, played at night, and did very well.
"It shows the attitude of the group. They applied themselves well and were professional.
"I was very happy, it was a good mix we had with us."

Saudi Prince Plans to Buy Leeds United, Eqtisadia Newspaper Says

Bloomberg 30/7/13
By Wael Mahdi
Prince Abdullah bin Musaad, a former president of the Al-Hilal soccer club, is targeting a stake in Leeds United and another soccer team in the English Premier League he didn’t identify, al-Eqtisadia daily reported. * Prince says he is very close to buying a club and he will make an announcement on a deal in coming few days, newspaper says.

Defender looking to start well

leedsunited.com 30/7/13
Stephen Warnock looking to season opener...
Stephen WarnockUnited defender Stephen Warnock is looking to get the new season off to a flying start at the weekend when Brighton are the visitors.
United lost to German outfit FC Nurnberg at Elland Road on Saturday, but although the match ended with United on the wrong side of the result Stephen feels it was worth it.
"I think it was probably what we needed," said the defender. "The manager said before the games that we've had in pre-season have been tough games.
"There is no point going into the season having won every game three or four nil, you need testing.
"We knew Nurnberg would be a tough game, they have finished the last three seasons well in the Bundesliga, we enjoyed the test though.
"We could have done a bit better but we know that. The training is still pre-season training and we had a tough session on the Thursday before the game. The training this week I'm sure will be different gearing up to the Brighton match."
With the new Sky Bet Championship season due to get underway in less than a week the United defender feels that it is important to start the season well.
"You want to go into the first game of the season and start well, and we need to start well," said Warnock. "Hopefully we'll start as well as we can to go on and climb the league from the start.
"You've got to try and get the momentum going as quick as possible and if you can do that then you've got every chance of starting the season well.
"It's an old cliché but I think you've got to take each game as it comes but we need to start well against Brighton. If we start well against Brighton we'll hopefully get on a roll from there."
The season opener at Elland Road on Saturday could see a crowd of over 30,000 and this is something that the United defender is excited by.
"That's what you want, that's what everyone wants." Said Stephen.
"That's why the club is so big. If we can get a big crowd in for the first game then it will hopefully give the lads a lift and we'll give them a reason to keep coming."

Monday, July 29, 2013

Shelbourne: Four star win for United

leedsunited.com 29/7/13
Hall at the double against Shelbourne....
SHELBOURNE 0, UNITED 4 (Hunt 15, Hall 28, Killock 59, Hall 79)
United: Cairns, Thompson, Killock, Taylor, Drury, Austin, Hunt (Walters 60), Dawson (Coyle 70), Mowatt, Smith, Hall. Subs: Grimes, Cook, Mowatt, Parkin.
Att: 2,177

The friendly trip to Shelbourne was arranged to give extra game time to some of Brian McDermott's squad, and the first half saw a real quality display across the park.
Skipper Rudy Austin took the individual plaudits for his efforts in the middle of the park, both with the quality of his passing and the ease in which he broke up play and protected the back four.
That said, there were good efforts everywhere. Zac Thompson delivered some great balls for Matt Smith, youngsters Alex Mowatt and Chris Dawson showed real promise, and the back four were assured.
There were also first half goals for Noel Hunt, who delivered a great finish after latching on to a long pass from Austin, and for Ryan Hall, playing just behind in a central role, who showed good feet to turn and finish.
The second half started in similar vein to the first with United assuming a tight grip on proceedings.
Smith was thwarted after a good ball in by Drury and Dawson tried his luck with a stinging shot, but it was 3-0 before the hour when Ross Killock headed home after a corner was returned back into the box.
Hunt was withdrawn after an hour, but his replacement Lewis Walters looked to cause problems and United's dominance continued. The home keeper had to avert the danger of Smith once again, and Shelbourne made a couple of important blocks.
But a fourth goal did come when Hall latched onto a good ball forward and delivered a great finish over the keeper.
Thompson almost got his name on the scoresheet, but fired over, and Hall sent one wide in the dying moments as United cruised to an emphatic victory against the Irish side.

Leeds face legal battle as Ken Bates sacked as president

Yorkshire Post 29/7/13
by Richard Sutcliffe
LEEDS UNITED were last night facing up to a possible legal battle after Ken Bates insisted the reasons given for his sacking as president had “no validity”.
The 81-year-old, who stepped down as chairman at the end of last month, was dramatically removed from the post on Friday night by owners, GFH Capital.
At the time, no reason was given for the decision but it has since emerged a number of issues were raised by GFH Capital in a letter hand-delivered to Bates while on holiday in Italy last week.
These include Bates, when still chairman, committing United to a three-year contract with a private aeroplane company, 247 Jet, to ferry him to Yorkshire from his Monaco home. A similar deal had been in place throughout his eight-year stint at the helm.
Bates, who is due back in West Yorkshire tomorrow following the end of his holiday, insists the new travel contract was covered by the agreement signed when he sold the club last December but GFH Capital clearly disagree.
A spokesman for GFH Capital declined to comment when contacted last night, other than to say they planned to stick to the confidentiality agreements in place.
On the three-year deal with 247 Jet, Bates said: “Part of the contract (when United were sold to GFH Capital) was that they would pay my expenses in the same manner that I’d been paid expenses for the last eight years. I don’t take a salary and never have done.
“I had a chance of renewing that travel expense contract at a price that was cheaper than the existing deal. I checked with a solicitor and he confirmed that a director had the authority to commit a club or a company. So I did and thought nothing more about it.
“That was on June 27. On (Wednesday) July 24, I had a hand-delivered letter telling me I had broken the agreement and asking me for my comments.
“I rang the lawyer concerned and got the answerphone. I said, ‘There is a perfectly reasonable explanation, let’s have a board meeting when I get back (from holiday)’. Then I got another letter (on Friday) telling me they’d terminated my contract.
“In all that time, not one person rang me from GFH to discuss the matter. I’ve spoken to one of their directors on a fairly regular basis and he hadn’t even mentioned it. That is most unusual conduct.
“They (GFH Capital) drew up the contract. I only signed it. I have been doing that mode of transport for eight years and they included it in the contract. There is nothing new there and I don’t have to justify it. It is in the contract.
“There is nothing I can do about it until I get back and then we will see what happens. But the real problem, I suspect, is that because they haven’t been doing well recently – as far as running the club is concerned – then this is a diversion tactic to take the real problems off the headlines.
“There is no validity in this.”
Bates stepped down as chairman officially on June 30. Since then, several of his close allies have also stepped down with Shaun Harvey, chief executive throughout Bates’s eight year reign as chairman, relinquishing the post earlier this month. He is expected to sever all ties with Elland Road in the near future.
Likewise, Gwyn Williams, the club’s technical director who had previously worked under Bates at Chelsea, has been placed on gardening leave, while Yvonne Todd, United’s long-standing finance director, has also departed.
Other matters have seen relations between Bates and GFH Capital sour in recent months. In the immediate wake of December’s takeover, for instance, Bates had been hoping to strike a deal whereby he would buy the club’s in-house television station LUTV, Yorkshire Radio and United’s official website for £2m.
The proposal was to merge all three into one company, which in the future would then launch other broadcast stations and websites. As part of the deal, United would have been handed a near quarter shareholding in the new company.
However, despite Bates believing a deal had all but been struck in March, no such agreement was eventually made and the talks collapsed when United recently signed a new three-year commentary deal with BBC Radio Leeds. Bates has since set up a new media company called Plantagenet, which he intends to base in Yorkshire.
A proposal to set up a charitable foundation that would finance and operate a club museum at Elland Road has also fallen by the wayside with Bates insisting he is still waiting for a response from the club’s owners to his plan.

McDermott cool on Diouf move

YEP 29/7/13
by Phil Hay
Brian McDermott poured cold water on claims that he is looking to sacrifice El-Hadji Diouf from Leeds United’s squad as he crossed his fingers for transfer developments in the next 48 hours.
United have fielded an enquiry for one of their senior players, raising McDermott’s hopes that a departure from Elland Road will allow him to complete his fourth summer signing before Leeds kick off their Championship season against Brighton on Saturday.
McDermott, who has been told to reduce United’s wage bill before bringing new players in, revealed the approach after his side rounded off pre-season with a 2-0 defeat to German Bundesliga club Nuremberg.
But the Leeds boss reacted cooly to suggestions last week that Diouf is on the list of names he is ready to move on. Diouf has a year to run on his £10,000-a-week contract and McDermott said: “Whatever suggestions there are about him didn’t come from me. All I know is that he’s got to get himself training and he’s got to get himself fit.
“He hasn’t done any training yet. He got injured and then he got this really nasty infection but he loves his football, he loves playing and training and he’s desperate to get back.”
Beyond Diouf, Ross McCormack and Aidan White were linked with moves to Blackpool on Friday and the Lancashire team are known to hold a firm interest in McCormack.
The Scotland international is a former Rangers team-mate of Blackpool coach Alex Rae and has been on the list of targets at Bloomfield Road all summer.
McDermott did not reveal the identity of the player attracting interest but he said: “We’ve had a little bit of an enquiry. Monday, Tuesday we’ll see what happens. Maybe that would let me do something the other way. If someone left the building, someone could possibly come in. That’s how it is.”

Leeds United 0 Nuremberg 2: New Whites chapter but doubts remain

YEP 28/7/13
by Phil Hay
A new season awaits and the old broom has gone. Elland Road was free of Ken Bates for the first time in eight-and-a-half years on Saturday and most who were there seemed glad of it.
Symbolically, his chapter at Leeds United is over, even if legal battles lie ahead.
The club’s former chairman lost his influence many months ago, but the abrupt end to his reign as president on Friday banished him completely. Saturday’s defeat to Nuremberg should have been his first home game in the role, but the divorce came through 24 hours earlier, 25 days into a three-year term.
The question of whether Bates had been pushed was answered by the incredible revelation that Leeds’ owner GFH Capital sacked him for committing the club to an expensive contract to fly him by private jet to and from Monaco over the next three years. The club will say nothing beyond the fact he has left, but Bates planned to attend this weekend’s game against Brighton and many others besides.
His seat at the top table has been withdrawn and Bates now threatens to sue. Leeds might see him in the court before they see him in Elland Road’s East Stand again.
The 81-year-old leaves behind a club with their finger on the popular pulse, but pressure to do what he could not – finance a team with the strength and class to shoulder the wishes of the thousands who turn out religiously. The air on Saturday was fresh before kick-off, but Nuremberg’s accomplished win made Leeds look stagnant. United were beaten by cheap finishes in either half from Daniel Ginczek, a German striker with an eye for a goal.
Nuremberg’s credentials are plentiful enough – 10th last season in the German Bundesliga, Europe’s flavour of the month – and they were able to play within themselves for all but a short period of the second half.
Brian McDermott gave a less than glowing appraisal of the friendly, but was able to rule on which of his players will start against Brighton in six days’ time. Nuremberg was a final trial.
He said: “I know my team for Saturday and what my 18 will be too. There’ll only be decisions to make if something goes wrong – an injury or something like that.
“You want to win games in pre-season, obviously you do, but we’ve got 46 league games ahead of us and that’s what this is all about. Friendly games are what they are. On Saturday, Elland Road will have a different complexion and atmosphere. It’ll be a different place. I can’t wait to get going.”
Ticket sales for Brightoncrept past 25,500 on Saturday morning, promising a higher attendance than any league game last year. Bates’ dramatic exit might have encouraged business, but much as those who opposed him delighted in the news, the promises of the GFH Capital era are not altogether certain. Leeds head into this season in as unpredictable a state as they were when Bates stood at chairman 12 months ago.
McDermott’s squad has changed only marginally throughout he summer and the land at Elland Road lies awkwardly. Selling players to sign players is a necessity for him and he was hoping to advance an inquiry about an unnamed squad member today in the hope of creating scope and money for an incoming deal.
Nuremberg were skilful and confident, pleasing on the eye, but United’s struggle to make them uncomfortable is a concern which McDermott did not duck. He was unhappy too to see Leeds concede to soft chances in the third and 70th minutes.
He added: “We were playing a good side, a top 10 Bundesliga side, but it’s disappointing to lose a goal after three minutes, especially from a set-play. Then we lost another from a set-play. That’s something to be aware of.
“We need to create more chances, get more crosses and shots. It’s going to come over time and we’ve got work to do, but while we’re doing that, we’ve got to try and win games as well.”
Leeds emerged from pre-season with a record of three wins and four defeats and their limitations as clear as their strengths.
McDermott persisted for six games with a diamond midfield but put it to one side on Saturday to use a 4-2-3-1 formation with Luke Varney alone up front.
Prior to Ginczek’s second goal, Ross McCormack’s clever shimmy and shot – saved with one hand by Raphael Schafer – was Leeds’ only effort of note. Nuremberg themselves created few chances, but looked like a team in a low gear. Ginczek scored with the first attempt of the match, appearing unannounced at the far post and hammering Hiroshi Kiyotake’s free-kick goalwards.
Varney met the ball under his crossbar, but did not persuade linesman Danny Markham that he had cleared it in time. Nuremberg’s raucous support of over 650 fans were satisfied within three minutes and enjoyed their afternoon immensely.
The first half offered no more than that but the second period was compelling in its own way.
McCormack tested Schafer for the first and only time in the game, while the mood also began to sour. The Scot and Berkay Dabanli went head-to-head in front of the Kop and other players fought running battles. Referee Andy Haines struggled to maintain control until Nuremberg did their bit by substituting Javier Pinola, a player intent on fighting anything in gold and blue.
United threatened on occasions, with Lee Peltier’s header hitting a defender on the line and Luke Murphy and McCormack angling shots wide before Ginczek, who also struck a post, netted an easy header following Dabanli’s corner to wrap up the win.
Leeds United: Kenny, Peltier, Lees, Pearce, Warnock (Drury 63), Green (Tonge 63), Murphy, Poleon (Smith 75), McCormack, White, Varney (Hunt 63). Subs (not used): Cairns, Pugh, Brown Norris, Thompson, Hall, Lenighan.
Nuremberg: Schafer, Pogatetz, Balitsch, Feulner (Stark 81), Gebhart (Frantz 75), Ginczek, Kiyotake (Drmic 69), Mak (Esswein 85), Dabanli, Pinola (Plattenhardt 64), Chandler. Subs (not used): Angha, Rakovsky, Mendler
Referee: Andy Haines (Tyne and Wear).
Attendance: 9,455.

Bates hits back over dismissal

YEP 28/7/13
Ken Bates claims he was sacked as Leeds president after a disagreement over travel expenses.
It was reported that former chairman Bates, 81, renewed a contract with a private jet company without the approval of the Sky Bet Championship club’s owners GFH Capital.
Bates, who was on holiday in Italy when he received a hand-delivered letter informing him of his dismissal, insists he attempted to get in touch with the Whites’ hierarchy to inform them of his actions, but to no avail.
Explaining his view of the situation, he told talkSPORT: “Basically I had a chance of renewing that travel expense contract at a price that is cheaper than existing and at the same time, more importantly, it was in sterling and protects Leeds’ (accounts) because all gas is bought in dollars and most of the handling charges are in the EC.
“So, I checked, very interestingly, with the solicitor who wrote me the letter when I met him socially and he confirmed that a director had the authority to commit a club or a company in which he was a director.
“So I did it and he left the details at the office, thought no more about it.
“That was on June 27. On July 24 I had a hand-delivered letter telling me that I had broken the contract or agreement and asking me for my comments.
“I immediately rang the lawyer concerned and his office was closed and I left a message on his answerphone on which I said ‘there’s a perfectly clear explanation for this, let’s have a board meeting when I get back and we’ll sort it out around the table’. That was on July 26.
“On July 28 I get another letter telling me they have terminated my contract. In all that time, not one person from GFH had rung me to discuss the matter.
“In fact, I’ve spoken to one of their directors on a very regular basis and he had not even mentioned it. There’s nothing I can do about it until I get back next Tuesday and then we’ll have to see what happens.”

Bates, directorship and a question of ethics

So it seems that the only question in Ken Bates' mind when it came to signing THAT contract was whether he could do it, whether as a director he COULD commit the club to a half million contract, for his personal expenses. For most ethical people the question would have been whether he SHOULD do it, whether it was morally right to do so.

The first duty of directors, as most of them will readily acknowledge, is to the good of their organisation and they would know with every fibre of their being that serving their own interests at the expense of the firm is wrong.

It's impossible for the outsider to know whether Bates was actually a director at the time (chairman doesn't automatically confer that privilege) and it is interesting that Bates chose to take the decision in the final few days before he moved into the honorary role of president. But aren't we glad that the ties are now severed?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Driven to succeed

Sky 28/7/13
Sacked by Reading less than a year after guiding the club to the title, Brian McDermott is preparing for another assault on the Championship with Leeds United. Adam Bate caught up with McDermott to discuss his hopes for the new season.
The atmosphere is good at Thorp Arch. Making your way through the main entrance at Leeds United's training ground, young defender Sam Byram is strolling around in his flip-flops trying to get a signal on his mobile phone and exchanging pleasantries with the ladies on reception. His manager also has a spring in his step. But don't let this relaxed environment fool you. Brian McDermott is a man in determined mood.
As recently as January, McDermott was the Premier League's manager of the month after guiding newly-promoted Reading to come-from-behind wins over West Brom and Newcastle before earning a dramatic point at home to Chelsea. Four league games after collecting the award, he was sacked and replaced by Nigel Adkins. It's a grievance that is serving to motivate the 52-year-old coach.
"There's no hiding behind that," he tells Sky Sports. "I'm driven by the fact that I did lose my job at Reading. That's gone now. Reading are happy with the manager they've got and I hope Leeds are happy with the manager they've got. But I am driven, there's no doubt about that."
While McDermott would never have wished it this way, Reading's subsequent relegation means he will come up against his former club this season as the manager of Leeds United. The Yorkshire club have not featured in the Premier League for almost a decade but their new manager is acutely aware that in many ways it represents a step up.
"Travelling away from home has been the big thing," he points out. "We went away to Slovenia and there were hundreds and hundreds of fans. I don't even know how they got there! At Walsall there were 1500 of them. There were 1400 at Stevenage. It's not just in Leeds, it's all over England - there are Leeds fans coming up to us.
"That's great. I like that. They've got these expectations and good luck to them. They deserve success and we'll do everything we can to try and give them success. You have to build something as well though. We can't just make statements about how we've got to do it this year. We have to work hard to be as good as we can possibly be every day and then we'll see where we end up."
McDermott is preparing for his first full season in charge since replacing Neil Warnock in April and pre-season results have been mixed. Consecutive defeats in Slovenia were followed by an alarming loss at Walsall but a three-goal victory over Stevenage provided more encouragement and the manager's high hopes for the forthcoming campaign are unlikely to be dented by Saturday's 2-0 defeat to Nurnberg.
"You're always optimistic going into a new season," says McDermott. "You have to be. We've come back right for the summer training and worked really hard every day. It's been good for us for all sorts of reasons whether the performances have been good, bad or indifferent."
This mantra of hard work runs is a recurring theme for McDermott and was at the core of his success at Reading. The Royals went on a run of 15 wins from 17 games to win the Championship title in the spring of 2012 and while the set-up is different at Elland Road all the indications are that the beliefs which sparked that remarkable run are unlikely to change.
"You have to recreate an environment," he explains. "That's really important. What we're trying to do is create an environment that's conducive to work - where everybody is in a relaxed state and a focused state. But you have to come to work and enjoy it. That's so important."
Perhaps that explains some of the thinking behind bringing in former Reading forward Noel Hunt. "Noel is someone I've known for five or six years and he's a real catalyst around the place," adds McDermott. "He's a good lad who is great in the dressing room and good on the pitch as well. We've also signed Luke Murphy as well who is a good young player. We've got Matt Smith in as well who is getting better and better all the time. They're all good lads who work hard and have got talent."
With the transfer window open well beyond the big kick-off against Brighton at the weekend and reports of Premier League interest in the likes of Byram, it represents a complication of sorts for the Leeds boss. McDermott knows the speculation is unavoidable and admits there are still areas he needs to strengthen.
"The transfer window is what it is. We've signed three players and a lot of players have left during the summer. We are short in certain areas and that's something we need to address, there's no doubt about that. If we can do that then hopefully we can do that sooner rather than later."
So is promotion realistic? "I don't know what's realistic for Leeds but I know what's realistic for me. We'll try to get a team on the pitch that puts on a performance for the fans. I just look at it each day. We'll do the best we possibly can and then see where we end up come May."
If he can succeed in fostering the dressing room spirit he enjoyed at Reading then those Leeds supporters might just be surprised how far that can take them - and McDermott could earn another shot at that Premier League he's so determined to get back to.

McDermott no further forward with transfers

Leeds United boss Brian McDermott reiterated the fact that no-one will be coming into the club until someone leaves after Leeds latest defeat in pre-season.
Leeds went down to a 2-0 defeat at Elland Road against German Bundesliga side Nurnberg on Saturday, their fourth defeat in seven pre-season games.
So far, McDermott has brought in just three players this summer and he is still desperate to add to his squad with just under a week to go until the new season starts.
He has admitted recently that he cannot afford to bring in any fresh faces until players leave the club, something he reiterated to Eddie Gray when speaking on Yorkshire Radio after the defeat on Saturday. "If somebody leaves the football club this week then I will try to get somebody into the football club. It is that simple," the frustrated sounding McDermott told him.

Ken Bates' career traced change in football from game to big business

Guardian 27/7/13
Abrupt departure as Leeds United president brings to an end an often controversial five decades in the sport
David Conn
Ken Bates was famously portrayed in the 1960s classic The Football Man, by the Observer's Arthur Hopcraft, as the epitome of a new, dynamic, commercial club chairman – raising prices at Oldham Athletic, urging football to see itself as a business. If his abrupt departure one month into an agreed three-year stint as president of Leeds United on Friday finally brings his five decades in football to an end, Bates's extraordinary career can be said to trace the arc of the game's changed relationship with money.
A tax exile in Monaco – having sold Chelsea to Roman Abramovich in 2003 and Leeds to the Bahrain-based Gulf Finance House (GFH) in December – Bates received the news that his presidency had been terminated by hand-delivered letter, while on holiday in Italy with his wife, Suzannah.
Speaking to the Observer from there, Bates said he had been sacked by GFH from his role as club president. He said this was after he committed Leeds United, for the next three years, to paying for a private jet to fly him from Monaco to Leeds whenever he needed. The cost to the club of the contract with the corporate aeroplane charter company 247 Jet is thought to be about £500,000 over the three years.
Bates argued it was unfair and "ridiculous" to be sacked for committing the club to the private-jet contract. He said it was saving the club money because it was in pounds sterling, not euros, and he had been advised that, as a director in June, he did have the power to bind the club to the contract.
Bates said his arrangement with Leeds included "certain expenses" that had not changed in the eight years that he was there. That is understood, from sources who have seen the club's accounts, to have included travelling by private jet between Monaco and Leeds at the club's expense. That service from 247 – which offers, according to its website, "total flexibility, security and privacy" with "no long tedious check-in procedures" – is understood to have latterly cost the Championship club Leeds around £120,000 a year.
Bates always said from 2005 that he did not own Leeds, who had serious financial difficulties when he arrived, dating from the era of "living the dream" under the former chairman Peter Ridsdale. Instead, he said, he had been appointed chairman by anonymous investors in offshore funds who held Leeds via the Forward Sports Fund, registered in the Cayman Islands and administered in Switzerland. In 2011, after concerns raised by a parliamentary select committee that the Leeds owners were unknown, Bates announced he had bought the club from the unnamed investors, via his company, Outro, registered in the tax haven of Nevis.
He was never paid a salary, a point he and Suzannah emphasised, but he confirmed he was paid expenses as the Leeds chairman. According to the sources, these also included €6,000 (about £5,000) a month office expenses in Monaco, paid by the club. Asked about that, and the private-jet contract, Bates declined to confirm details or precisely what the money covered, but said his expenses had not changed for the eight years he was at Leeds.
"GFH knew what my expenses were when they did due diligence and they signed them off," he said.
It is also understood that a deal done in December 2011 with a company, Lutonville Holdings Ltd, connected to Outro, by which Lutonville paid £3.2m for preference shares, involved a regular payment by the club to Lutonville. Leeds paid a "set-up fee" of £100,000 to Lutonville for the £3.2m, which was used to repay creditors, principally Caddick Construction. They were paid £10m by Leeds for developing the centenary pavilion and conference and banqueting facilities in the Elland Road east stand.
Under the terms of the agreement, Leeds United paid Lutonville a "monitoring fee" of £40,000 every quarter. When Bates sold Leeds to GFH in December, the £3.2m preference shares were repaid at £4m, an £800,000 profit. Leeds United's published accounts state that "Lutonville Holdings is a related party by virtue of its connection to Outro Limited". However, Bates said Lutonville is not in fact his company. Of the monitoring fee payment, he said he could not comment because he did not have the details in front of him.
The Leeds accounts are also understood to reveal the high cost of legal disputes fought by Leeds during Bates's tenure as chairman. He pursued a former director, Melvyn Levi, for £190,000 that Bates claims is owed from 2005 – which Levi denies, saying Leeds owed him £1.4m – and lost an action for harassment Levi brought after statements about him in Bates's chairman's programme notes and on the club-owned Yorkshire Radio. The fees for Carter Ruck solicitors, paid by Leeds United, are understood to have amounted to £1.26m between 2010 and 31 May 2012. It is unclear what they relate to.
Leeds are facing the new Football League season still with financial difficulties, which GFH told the Guardian in February is due to Bates having mortgaged two years of season-ticket money for £5m, forward sold the Elland Road catering contract for £2m and borrowed £1.5m from the club sponsor to help pay the £10m cost of the building work. Bates insisted that was a good decision, which many fans believed came at the expense of strengthening the team. "We built 4,000 corporate seats and that is where you make money," Bates said.
He argued that the cashflow problems Leeds faced after he sold the club to GFH was not due to the building work, but to GFH, who had effectively been in executive control since June 2012. He did not expand on which GFH decisions taken, or expenses incurred, had caused the need for a cash injection since the takeover of between £13m and £15m.
It is thought that further money, close to £10m, will be required to keep Leeds going financially with a Championship squad this season. Bates, who argues he has transformed Leeds since 2005, claimed that GFH had struggled to pay the club's wages in March and he said he had "arranged" for Lutonville – although not his company – to lend the club £1m. Bates said this £1m should have been paid back at the end of June, and had not been, so he is planning to sue for it. He also warned that he is likely to sue over his departure as president, which he and Suzannah argued was "unfair".
GFH told the Observer they have signed confidentiality agreements with Bates and so declined to comment on any of it, including the reasons for his tenure as president being so suddenly terminated. Thus a near 50-year career in the people's game nears its final destination, for one of England's most notable football men.

Ken Bates: I was sacked as Leeds president because of jet contract

Guardian 27/7/13
  • Bates says he 'did it in the best interest of the club'
  • Cost of jet thought to be £500,000 over three years
  • Abrupt exit brings to an end five controversial decades
David Conn
Ken Bates says he was abruptly sacked from his tenure as the Leeds United president by the new owners, GFH, after he entered the club into a contract with the private aeroplane company 247 Jet that could be used to fly him to Leeds from his Monaco home.
The cost of this contract to which Bates committed the Championship club, which is under financial strain, is thought to be £500,000 over three years.
Previously Bates has been flown by private jet. The costs of use of a private jet to the club is understood from sources who have seen the Leeds accounts to be around £120,000 a year. He told the Observer that his expenses had not changed for the eight years he was Leeds chairman, and that GFH were well aware of them when they bought the club in December. He declined to cover the details of precisely what they covered.
A key sticking point with GFH is that Bates did not gain the approval of the board for the new, three-year private jet contract. Bates argues he was not able to do so, and he was advised in June that as a director of the club, he was able to bind the club into the contract.
"I saved the club money, because this was a sterling contract, rather than euros," Bates said. "I did it in the best interests of the club."
Currently on holiday in Italy with his wife Suzannah, Bates said he received a hand-delivered letter last Wednesday from GFH, raising concerns. He expected to deal with it on his return from holiday, but instead: "Two days later, they told me I was sacked."
Describing his treatment as "despicable," Bates said he is considering suing. GFH said there were confidentiality agreements in place, and declined to comment.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Pre-season ends with defeat

leedsunited.com 27/7/13
Ginczek double secures victory for Nurnberg...
UNITED 0, NURNBERG 2 (Ginczek 3, 69)
United: Kenny, Peltier, Lees, Pearce, Warnock (Drury 63), Green (Tonge 63), Murphy, McCormack, White, Varney (Hunt 63), Poleon (Smith 75). Subs. Cairns, Pugh, Brown, Norris, Thompson, Hall, Lenighan.
FC Nurnberg: Schafer, Pogatetz, Balitsch, Feulner, Gebhart, Ginczek, Yikotake, Mak, Dabanli, Pinola, Chandler. Subs. Angha, Stark, Frantz, Crmic, Plattenhardt, Rakovsky, Mendler, Esswein.
Referee: A Haines
Att: 9,455

Leeds United welcomed FC Nurnberg to Elland Road for the final pre-season fixture before the Championship opener against Brighton and Hove Albion just one week away.
United manager Brian McDermott had the services of Ross McCormack for Nurnberg's visit after the striker recovered from the knock he sustained in the midweek victory at Stevenage to make the starting line-up. Luke Varney kept his place in the United starting eleven after scoring a hat-trick at Stevenage on Tuesday night.
Ross McCormack vs NurnbergThe game started at a fast pace and it wasn't long before the deadlock was broken. It was the Germans that took in the lead within the first three minutes of the match. Daniel Ginczek was the man with the goal for the away side after he connected well with Hiroshi Kiyotake's free-kick. It looked like the ball had been cleared off the line by Varney but the linesman awarded the goal.
United responded well to going behind and attacked from the restart, some good pressure led to two corners in quick succession but the home side couldn't take advantage.
The away side continued to threaten throughout the opening quarter of an hour, but after some good build up play from the visitors a great piece of defending from Paul Green prevented a clear opportunity for the scorer of the opening goal.
Just after the half hour mark brought United's first real opportunity of the afternoon. McCormack had a strike at goal after Varney's cushioned header landed in his path but the striker saw his effort go wide of the mark.
McCormack was involved again as the half was drawing to a close. After good build up play by Luke Murphy and Varney, the striker crossed for Green at the back post but the ball was just to high for the midfielder to connect.
However, there was still time for the away side to have an other strike at goal when a mix-up in the United defence left Ginczek through on goal but his shot sailed over the bar.
United began the second half well but it was the away side that had the first meaningful attempt at goal when Paddy Kenny saved well from Markus Feulner in the 50th minute.
Lee Peltier vs NurnbergMoments later some great play from McCormack opened up some space for an attempt at goal. It took a great one-handed save from Rapheal Schafer to prevent a United equaliser.
The chances were coming thick and fast in the opening fifteen minutes of the second half, as the away side hit the post and Lee Peltier saw a headed effort cleared off the line.
Just after the hour mark United manager Brian McDermott rang the changes when he introduced Noel Hunt, Michael Tonge and Adam Drury to proceedings.
Just as United looked to be gaining the upper hand in the tie the away side doubled their advantage in the 69th minute. Ginczek doubled his tally for the afternoon when he was along at the back post from a corner to head into the roof of Kenny's net.
Just as in the first half, United responded well to conceeding but Aidy White's cross was intercepted well by the Nurnberg goalkeeper.
United continued to attack the away side and some great build-up play from Murphy led to White gaining some space in the oppostion's penalty box. White then pulled the ball back for Murphy to strike but he saw his effort go just wide of the mark.
With the game heading into the final 10 minutes another mix-up in the United defence almost gifted Nurnberg their third goal, but Niklas Stark's poked attempt trickled just wide.
Minutes of the game remained as Kenny was called into action again when Tomothy Chandler struck but the United goalkeeper was upto the challenge and palmed the ball round the post.
Chandler's strike proved to be the final meaningful effort of the afternoon with Ginczek's brace enough to ensure victory for the German side.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Statement: Ken Bates tenure ends

leedsunited.com 26/7/13
Former chairman's departure announced...
Leeds United today confirmed that Ken Bates has ceased to be club President.
Leeds United MD David Haigh said: "Ken Bates has ceased to be President of Leeds United Football Club. Mr Bates will now no longer have any role within the football club."

McDermott not keen on loan signings

With Leeds United boss Brian McDermott still struggling to add to his squad he says he doesn`t want to bring in loan players unless it is with the view to bring the player in on a permanent deal.
McDermott`s hands seem to be tied until he can offload players, having signed just three players so far this summer.
The Leeds boss released six players in the summer with first team experience last season but with time running out until the new season kicks off his thoughts might turn to the loan market, something he is not keen on.
Speaking on Yorkshire Radio, McDermott said, "I would consider it but it is not something I like doing.
"I would sign a loan player if there was a chance that we could sign him permanently.
"If you sign a player for six-months it can destabilise the squad. I like to have Leeds United players, so if it is a loan player with a view to a permanent deal, then that would be my ideal scenario."

Leeds United boss issues gloomy transfers update

YEP 26/7/13
by Phil Hay
Brian McDermott is facing up to the prospect of starting the new season with his existing squad after admitting he has “no idea” if Leeds United will pull off any more signings before August 3.
The United manager was unable to offer encouragement about new arrivals at Elland Road with his transfer targets still dependent on players leaving the club first.
McDermott has been asked to reduce the wage bill at Leeds before adding to the three signings completed this summer. Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s friendly against Nuremberg, United’s last pre-season friendly, the Leeds boss said: “We’ve nothing to report.”
United are a week away from the first day of the Championship season and their opening match at home to Brighton next Saturday.
Luke Murphy, Noel Hunt and Matt Smith are the club’s only deals to date and a projected fourth signing – identified by McDermott as a “key player” many weeks ago – has been delayed by the financial situation at Elland Road.
McDermott’s senior squad numbers more than 25 and he has an excess of central midfielders, many of whom were signed by his predecessor Neil Warnock.
He admitted after last weekend’s loss at Walsall that United “need a player to go out the door before we can bring one in” but Leeds are yet to receive any firm approaches for members of their squad.
United have enquired about the availability of Matt Mills, the Bolton Wanderers centre-back, but McDermott does not anticipate any movement before tomorrow’s friendly and is unclear about the likelihood of a breakthrough next week.
Asked if new players would be on board before the clash with Brighton, McDermott said: “I’ve got no idea. “There’s nothing to say on that at the moment.
“There’s no point in saying things and saying nothing because that’s all I’m doing. We’ve nothing to report.
“What I think is that we’ve got the players we’ve got.
“I’m happy to work with the players we’ve got because that’s what I’ve got.
“There’s no point talking about players I don’t have. I’ve never done that in the past and I won’t do it here.
“We’ll work with the players we’ve got, do the best we can and see where we end up at the end of August.”
McDermott added: “You can talk about being frustrated but there’s no point in getting frustrated either.
“I’ve just got to get on with my job with the players we’ve got here.”
Despite the uncertainty surrounding his transfer plans, McDermott said: “The players are in good shape, physically fit and ready.”

Diouf faces axe as McDermott aims to continue overhaul of his Leeds squad

Mail 26/2/13
By John Edwards
Leeds are ready to sacrifice El Hadji Diouf to help finance manager Brian McDermott's plans for a major overhaul of his under-performing squad.
McDermott knows he has to offload players to free up funds for his recruitment drive and is anxious to remove top earner Diouf from the wage bill to clear the way for more signings in time for the new season.
Controversial former Liverpool and Bolton forward Diouf is paid between £10,000 and £12,000 a week and could be heading out of Elland Road after attracting interest from Championship rivals QPR, as well as Qatar.
His departure, with 18 months left on his contract, would give McDermott the means to continue a rebuilding programme that has already added Oldham target man Matt Smith, Crewe midfielder Luke Murphy and vastly-experienced former Reading striker Noel Hunt to a squad that flirted with relegation towards the end of last season.
Moves for two other players he managed at Reading, Kevin Doyle and Stephen Hunt, floundered due to financial restraints, but there could be a late rush of new arrivals, should buyers be found for players McDermott is ready to sell.
Apart from Diouf being lined up for Loftus Road or abroad, Sportsmail understands Blackpool are closing in on striker Ross McCormack and versatile Aidy White.
With Hunt and Smith both jostling for positions up front, Leeds can afford to lose McCormack and may also be tempted to listen to offers for the pacey White, who can operate as a full-back or winger.
McDermott has laid down a challenge to winger Ryan Hall, who was excused the recent tour of Slovenia after his partner gave birth but has been left pondering an uncertain future after also being left out of Leeds' subsequent pre-season friendlies.
'I have spoken to Ryan and told him to get his head down, work on getting as fit as possible and get himself back into the squad,' he said. 'He is part of things here, but he needs to work hard.' While saving Diouf's hefty wage would give McDermott more leeway in the transfer market, Leeds could be heading for another financial boost after considering a stadium naming rights deal with Red Bull.
Talks have taken place with the energy drink company about shirt sponsorship, but it is understood the possibility of adding their name to Leeds' iconic Elland Road ground has also entered the equation.

Defender announces his retirement

leedsunited.com 25/7/13
Leigh Bromby joins coaching staff full-time...
Leeds United defender Leigh Bromby has announced his retirement from playing - but he is set to remain in the game as Under-16s coach at Leeds United.
The 33-year-old has not played since he suffered a serious knee injury during Leeds United's Championship clash with Cardiff City in April 2012.
"I've been advised by the surgeon Andrew Williams to retire from the game," said Leigh.
"It's become clear over the last 14 months that I wouldn't be able to continue in a playing capacity and it's with a heavy heart that I've decided to formally retire as a player.
"People say as one door closes another opens, and I'd like to thank Leeds United for giving me the opportunity to take my first steps in coaching with the Under-16s.
"The club were good enough to allow me to gain experience last season by working with young players and I'm delighted to have the opportunity to continue that work on a full-time basis now.
"I've had a wonderful career, and played for some wonderful clubs, and I wanted to finish at a club I've always supported.
"I'd like to thank the physios at Leeds, Harvey Sharman and Paul Perkins in particular, for their hard work and support during what was a tough year.
"I'd also like to say a big thank you to my family, who have supported me throughout my whole career and helped me achieve my dreams."
Leigh made 388 career appearances after starting out with Sheffield Wednesday. He went on to make 100 appearances for the Owls and clocked up over a century for Sheffield United where he won promotion to the Premier League in 2007. He also made 66 appearances for Leeds, scoring one goal, and was a promotion winner with the club in 2010.
"My personal highlights were winning promotion with Sheffield United and winning promotion with Leeds," Leigh added. "The aim when I came to Leeds was to win promotion back to the Premier League and I hope that can still be achieved while I'm at the club."

Door’s still open for Ryan - McDermott

YEP 25/7/13
by Phil Hay
Brian McDermott has left the door ajar for forgotten Leeds United winger Ryan Hall by denying that the 25-year-old’s Elland Road career is already over.
McDermott told Hall to “get his head down” and fight for a place in United’s plans as he clarified the position of a player who has failed to feature once during the club’s pre-season schedule.
Hall was left out of Leeds’ travelling party for their recent tour of Slovenia with his partner due to give birth but his continuing absence from McDermott’s line-ups appeared to indicate that he had no future under the United manager.
McDermott cast further doubt over Hall’s situation after last weekend’s defeat to Walsall by failing to mention the former Southend United and Crystal Palace player while bemoaning the current shortage of wingers at Elland Road.
Hall was missing for the sixth game running during Tuesday’s night’s 3-0 win at Stevenage and he is not expected to feature in Saturday’s friendly at home to Nuremberg, United’s last first-team match before the start of the Championship season.
But McDermott said: “I’ve spoken to Ryan and I’ve told him to get his head down, get himself as fit as he possibly can and get himself back into the squad.
“He needs to do the best he can but I’ve had a good conversation with him and he’s had his baby recently as well. It was important to make sure that things were done right as far as that was concerned.
“Time will tell with that but he’s part of things here, he’ll work hard and we’ll see what happens.”
Hall is less than a year into a difficult spell at Elland Road during which time both Neil Warnock and McDermott have repeatedly overlooked him.
Ex-Leeds boss Warnock paid £150,000 to bring Hall north from Southend United, committing those funds after a two-and-a-half month loan spell in which the winger played just five times.
Hall has made four further appearances since agreeing a two-and-a-half year contract in January and did not play at all under McDermott during the closing weeks of last season.
Earlier this month, Hall took to Twitter to deny claims that he had submitted a transfer request and insisted he was “happy and ready to sit and fight for my place”.
McDermott spoke out about the lack of wide options in his squad after Leeds limped to a 1-0 defeat at Walsall last Saturday.
“We’ve got a squad with no wingers, bar Aidy White,” 
he said. “I’ve never had that situation before. When I was at Reading we had five.
“Wingers by definition don’t come cheap and there’s no point in buying a winger for the sake of it, someone who can go in one direction but not the other.
“You need a winger who can be offensive and defensive. I’ve had that in the past and they made the difference.”
White was one of the more impressive performers during Leeds’ 3-0 win at Stevenage, completing the first hour and shining in a tight and cagey period of the game.
The youngster has made limited progress since agreeing a new three-year deal with Leeds last summer but McDermott said: “I thought he did well. He was very lively.”

You’ve not seen the best of me - Varney

YEP 25/7/13
After successfully reverting back to a striking role at Stevenage, Luke Varney has targeted a big season. Phil Hay reports.
There can be few more enthusiastic members of Luke Varney’s army than his manager, Brian McDermott.
Only twice has McDermott felt the wolves at Leeds United’s door and on both occasions he was indebted to Varney for seeing them off.
The forward’s hat-trick at Stevenage on Tuesday was less significant than the two headers which ended fears of relegation during McDermott’s first game in charge last season but it mattered nonetheless. McDermott, after all, described Saturday’s loss to Walsall as his “worst day as manager” of Leeds. The friendly at Stevenage was one he wanted to win.
Victory was slipping away until, with half-an-hour of a goalless contest left to play, he summoned Rodolph Austin and Ross McCormack from the bench and allowed Varney to drift into a lone position up front. Varney buried a header on 71 minutes, scored again in the 75th minute and sealed his hat-trick with a penalty 10 minutes from the end. McCormack – United’s allotted penalty-taker – graciously gave him the honour.
For all the difficulty of his first year at Elland Road, Varney has a tendency to throw in these flashes of inspiration. His early goal was the catalyst for a rousing FA Cup win over Tottenham Hotspur in January and his brace against Sheffield Wednesday on April 13 earned a crucial victory on a day when relegation was threatening to bite. Lose this, McDermott thought at the time, and Leeds would be in trouble.
The common theme in all three matches – Spurs, Wednesday and Stevenage away – was the decision to field Varney as a striker. The 30-year-old’s ability and contribution divides opinion and he was a maligned presence at Leeds last season but, obvious as it sounds, using Varney in his most comfortable position has repeatedly maximised the return.
Varney thinks of himself as a striker and came to United with the expectation of playing there. When he figured under Neil Warnock, the manager who signed him from Portsmouth for £200,000, he operated most often as a winger and found the crowd hard to please. As an out-and-out forward, he believes he has far more to offer.
His hat-trick against Stevenage was his first since he scored three times for Crewe Alexandra at Chesterfield in 2007. The goals were also his first of the summer.
“Sometimes you like to make your mark early in pre-season to feel good about yourself,” Varney said. “As you get more experienced, you realise that pre-season’s more about the work you do and I got some good work in when we were on tour in Slovenia but I didn’t feel sharp enough around the goal.
“That can start playing on your mind but I got a couple of chances against Walsall on Saturday and I’ve started to feel better gradually. I had a good training session on Monday and I’m pleased that the goals have come to the fore now.
“I played out wide a lot under Neil Warnock and I didn’t have a problem with that. I quite enjoyed it. But I’m a striker really and getting the chance to play up front was what I wanted. Once Luciano Becchio left (in January) it created a bit of a void and it gave me a chance to play up top. The new manager let me loose and I thrived on the opportunity. I don’t think the people have seen the best of me here and putting on a bit of a show like I did at Stevenage is much more like it. I feel like I’ve moved on from the difficult times and I want to hit my peak this season.”
The difficult times for Varney were the pre-Christmas months in which nothing went right. He failed to score a single league goal and was substituted in a game at Cardiff City in September having come off the bench himself. A bizarre miss from a yard out in a League Cup win over Southampton said it all. Yet again in that fixture, Varney’s selection as a striker led to a better performance, from him and the team behind him. Leeds won 3-0 and won at a canter. He was well aware of criticism coming his way and resolved only to persevere in the hope that nights like Tuesday would come eventually.
“I never gave up and I never felt like giving up,” Varney said. “The dressing room’s always been fantastic with me. “Things can get difficult on the outside but if you don’t have that support on the inside then you’re in trouble. Fortunately, it’s been there when I needed it.
“I had a difficult start and maybe I let that get to me a bit. I was frustrated but only because I’d come to Leeds to do well. In your head you imagine signing for a club, settling in quickly and getting going early doors. It’s annoying when it doesn’t quite go to plan.
“All I want now is to build on the back end of last season. I enjoyed my football from Christmas onwards and I think I’m on the up. If I can keep creating chances, score a few goals and keep the fans onside then hopefully I’ll be a major part of what’s happening here.”
McDermott admitted after Tuesday’s 3-0 win that Varney is the essence of a confidence player; a striker who benefits from encouragement. “That can make a big difference to someone like him,” McDermott said after Varney left the field to a standing ovation. “Leeds United – and Elland Road especially – can be a daunting place to play,” Varney said. “A few lads will be making their debuts there on Saturday and I’ll be doing what I can to help them through.
“But if you switch that around it can be a fantastic atmosphere and great environment to be in. You saw that during the Sheffield Wednesday game last season. When things turned around, the mood was unbelievable. It’s such an advantage. All the fans want from us is good performances. They’re clever and they know you’re not going to win every game but they do expect you to play well. I still maintain that we’ve got enough in the dressing room to compete in this league, to put on good shows and to keep the fans happy. We just need to show it more often.”
This weekend’s friendly at home to German Bundesliga side Nuremberg is the time to show it. The final game of pre-season will be McDermott’s last chance to settle the debate in his head about what his line-up should be for United’s Championship opener against Brighton.
“You’d like to play at least one game together before the Brighton game,” Varney said. “Saturday could be a dress rehearsal and a lot of lads will want to play. If you start in that game then you’ve got to stamp your authority and hope to stay in the team against Brighton.
“But we’re all really close here. I’ve been at clubs where the players are a bit tentative – worrying about who’s going to play and not really wanting to get too close to one another – but this is different. If players go into the team ahead of me against Brighton then they’ll get my full support. I’m expecting the same support if I get the nod.”

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Reaction: Confidence growing

leedsunited.com 24/7/13
Luke Varney on Stevenage performance…
Varney and PoleonUnited striker Luke Varney said earlier in the week that the players were looking to put things right on Tuesday night and after a 3-0 victory he feels the squad can now move on.
The striker secured the victory for United with a nine minute hat-trick in the second half but Luke was quick to praise the whole squad for a much improved showing at Stevenage.
"It was a good team performance," said a delighted Luke. "They were a strong team but we were expecting that.
"The talk before the game was to battle it out and stick in there and our football will come through.
"Towards the back end of the first half we started to get a bit of space and then fortunately for me Rudy managed to put a great cross in the box and I managed to get a good connection on it and saw it go in.
"I suppose after that I grew in confidence and Browny put a great ball through, and I scored again.
"Then after that it was really pleasing that Ross (McCormack) gave me the penalty to finish it off."
The United striker's three goals on Tuesday evening were his first of the pre-season schedule, the forward will now be full of confidence with the season's opener just 10 days away.
"Sometimes you like to make your mark early in pre-season so you feel good about yourself. But as you get more experienced it's about putting in the hard work which I got in Slovenia.
"I have said previously that I didn't feel sharp enough around the goal and not had many chances and that can play on your mind. I had a couple of chances against Walsall and started to gradually feel better.
"I'm just pleased that came to the forefront and I managed to get some goals on Tuesday night.
"The gaffer just wanted a reaction and we're delighted that that we have moved on quickly," said Varney.
"We can now forget about Saturday, not dwell on it and now look forward to a tough test on Saturday against Nurnberg at Elland Road."

Leeds United owner David Haigh targets Premier League promotion

Sky 24/7/13
Leeds United's new owner has stated that the club are targeting promotion to the Premier League within two years.
Managing director David Haigh, who is also the deputy chief executive of GFH Capital ltd, insisted that Leeds were English football's 'last sleeping giant', and committed to returning the club to the top tier of English football for the first time since 2004.
Leeds have already signed talented youngster Luke Murphy from Crewe, and Brian McDermott will look to add to a squad that finished in 13th position under Neil Warnock last season.
"Our ambition is to be back in the Premier League in two years and we think that's a realistic goal, it's what we are aiming for," Haigh told The Sun.
"We have said we want to build a sustainable future for Leeds and bring the last sleeping giant in English football out of its slumber.
"There's so much untapped energy at this club. I have been at Leeds when there has been 9,000 fans there and when it's been full to the brim.
"The atmosphere can be supercharged.
"We will need that in pursuit of our goals and we don't think it's unreasonable for us to aim for the Premier League in two years' time."

Stevenage 0 Leeds United 3: That was much better - McDermott

YEP 24/7/13
by Phil Hay
Luke Varney hammered Stevenage with a nine-minute hat-trick to draw a line under Leeds United’s lame defeat to Walsall and stake his claim for a starting place on the first day of the season.
The forward produced a flurry of goals late in the second half as United ended a run of three successive pre-season defeats with a 3-0 win at the Lamex Stadium last night.
Manager Brian McDermott made eight changes to the side beaten by Walsall on Saturday – a result which drew scathing criticism from United’s boss – and Varney’s rapid treble put the forward in line for another opportunity against Nuremberg this weekend, Leeds’ final friendly before they begin the Championship term at home to Brighton.
Varney has faced constant criticism since his £200,000 transfer from Portsmouth last summer but the forward’s finishes last night – coming in the 71st, 75th and 80th minutes, the latter scored from the penalty spot – gave his manager something to ponder with the new campaign closing in.
McDermott said: “In his position confidence comes with scoring goals and if Luke can get goals and get the crowd signing his name, it’ll get his head right up.
“That can make all the difference to someone like him and he took his goals really well.
“I wanted people to make the most of their opportunity and he and a few others did that.
“We’ve got a few lads who can play up front for us and Luke is one of them. He’s done himself no harm.
“But as a squad we needed a reaction to Walsall and we spoke about putting that game to bed,” he said.
“I don’t want to feel like I did after Walsall again and we’ve beaten a tough Stevenage side.
“The feeling in the dressing room afterwards was so much better.
“You have to earn the right to play in games and we did that tonight.
“Against Walsall we didn’t earn the right to play.
“It was a big lesson and we were good value against Stevenage.”
Matt Smith and Jason Pearce missed yesterday’s match with minor niggles and Ross McCormack is a doubt for Saturday’s clash with Nuremberg after suffering a groin strain in the second half.

Stevenage 0 Leeds United 3: Varney’s rapid-fire treble lifts the gloom

YEP 23/7/13
by Phil Hay
Watford went to Stevenage on Saturday and wiped the floor with them, despite the story a 2-0 scoreline told.
An easy afternoon was had by last season’s play-off finalists, a club who are gathering in numbers again for a second attack on the Championship’s top end.
Leeds United will soon find Watford and their ilk where Stevenage stood last night and a visit to the Lamex Stadium asked more of Brian McDermott’s players but Luke Varney’s hat-trick earned them a heavier win. Stevenage, McDermott hoped, would right the wrongs of Saturday’s sorry defeat to Walsall. The second half did just that.
Prior to the interval, United’s manager was finding more questions than answers and wondering where to turn next.
He has 72 hours to draw his conclusions before Leeds meet Nuremberg – the final friendly of the summer – and it might be that he reverts largely to the team bullied by Walsall in the hope that Saturday was an off-day.
There was little in yesterday’s match for him to nail his colours to, aside from the lively running of Aidan White, until Leeds and Varney found the taste for blood and began to run riot in the last half-hour.
Crucial to that surge in performance was the 60th-minute arrival from the bench of Ross McCormack and Rodolph Austin, both of whom pressurised a tiring Stevenage team and broke them open.
It is McDermott’s misfortune to have Austin suspended on the first day of the season. With momentum gathered, Varney struck on 71 minutes and again four minutes later before converting a penalty to stem a run of three straight pre-season losses. The flurry of goals was a welcome shot in the arm.
McDermott is still at the stage where he needs a big weekend, full of energy, electricity and players putting their hands up as Varney, White and others did in Stevenage. Signings he needs too but circumstances at Elland Road seem to be tying his hands.
He is no further forward than he was when he outlined a one out, one in transfer policy after full-time in Walsall. His midfield diamond survived last night but most of the players beaten over the weekend did not.
Eight lost their places and Zac Thompson and Adam Drury were asked to supply the width from full-back which was chronically absent at Walsall.
If anything, Thompson and Drury were more restricted and reluctant than Lee Peltier and Stephen Warnock had been but the game opened up eventually and Stevenage began to suffer.
Without wingers on whom he feels he can rely, McDermott’s right-back and left-back are two of the more critical links in the chain, there in theory to attack freely while Paul Green covers the open space behind.
Green kept his place against Stevenage, as did Tom Lees and Paddy Kenny, but McDermott cut the rest of his team to pieces. Niggles accounted for Matt Smith and Jason Pearce.
The is no likelihood of United’s manager pressing ahead with Danny Pugh in the centre of defence or a line-up identical to last night’s but the only alternative to a complete rethink was to allow the loss at Walsall to pass quietly, something McDermott refused to countenance. He might still find himself returning to his original ideas when Nuremberg come to Leeds.
The brighter moments in the first half - few in number as they were – belonged in the main to Stevenage, much to McDermott’s consternation. To describe Stevenage’s early openings as chances was stretching credibility but Oumare Tounkara and Jordan Burrow were dispossessed before they could shoot from close range and Luke Jones’ free header from a deep header would have done well to beat Kenny, even if the centre-back had not sent the ball towards the corner flag.
As Stevenage persisted, their misses became closer. Tom Lees dispossessed Tounkara with a risky sliding tackle on the edge of the six-yard box and Kenny dived to beat Jon Ashton’s header off his goalline. United’s goalkeeper could consider himself the form player at Elland Road.
Stevenage’s Chris Day made his first save in the 25 minute, clasping an overhead kick from Varney after Poleon failed to connect in the same manner, but Green’s swipe over the crossbar after the home defence lost their bearings summed up most of the half. Tansey’s deflected attempt on the half-hour was inches from slipping inside Kenny’s left-hand post.
Only on the cusp of half-time did United finally click, with Aidan White exploiting his pace on the left wing and dinking a cross to Poleon at the far post. The ball held up nicely but Poleon headed it into the ground, allowing Stevenage to clear amid suspicions of a foul on Varney.
For the first time, Leeds took hold of the friendly and Day used his feet to keep out a Michael Brown free-kick and repel Poleon’s follow-up in the last minute of the half but Kenny dug Leeds out of trouble 10 seconds after the interval, bundling Tounkara’s strike wide after the striker ran away from Pugh.
David Norris hacked a volley over at the other end after a purposeful exchange of passes with Poleon and his effort prompted another flicker of promise leading up the hour mark as United’s passing and running wore their hosts down.
Tom Lees drilled a header wide with the game flowing deeper into Stevenage’s half, and McDermott turned the screw by throwing McCormack and Austin into the fray. But Varney took it upon himself to bring the night to life with a hanging header at the far post on 71 minutes, a chance teed up by Austin’s delivery, and his close-range finish four minutes later settled the contest. When Varney was felled inside the box with 10 minutes to play, the crowd of 1,400 behind Day’s net saw to it that the penalty had one name on it. Varney made no mistake.
Stevenage: Day, Wedgbury, Ashton, Jones (Deacon 75), Charles, Freeman, Heslop, Tansey (Dunne 68), Tounkara, Lopez, Burrow (Hills 60). Subs (not used): Thompson, Akins, Ball, Shroot, Bruna.
Leeds United: Kenny, Thompson, Lees, Pugh, Drury, Green (Austin 60), Brown, Norris (McCormack 60 (Murphy 82)), White, Varney (Hunt 81), Poleon. Subs (not used): Cairns, Peltier, Warnock, Lenighan.
Referee: Mick Russell (Herts).
Attendance: 2,751 (1,400 Leeds).

Varney hat trick seals win

leedsunited.com 23/7/13
United leave Lamex as 3-0 winners... STEVENAGE 0, UNITED 3 (Varney 71, 76, 80).
Stevenage: Day, Wedgbury, Ashton, Jones, Charles, Burrow, Heslop, Freeman, Tansey, Tounkara, Lopez. Subs. Thompson, Hills, Dunne, Akins, Ball, Shroot, Deacon, Bruna.
United: Kenny, Thompson, Lees, Pugh, Drury, Green (Austin 59), Brown, Norris (McCormack 59, Murphy 82), White, Varney (Hunt 81), Poleon. Subs. Cairns, Warnock, Peltier, Tonge, Lenighan.
Referee: M Russell
Att: 2,751
There was a much changed starting line-up for United's final away pre-season trip to Stevenage.
Brian McDermott made eight changes from the team that started at Walsall three days earlier, the only remaining names on the teamsheet were Paddy Kenny, Tom Lees and Paul Green.
During the opening exchanges neither side were given the time to settle on the ball with both sides closing down well.
The first clear opportunity of the half went to the home side on the quarter-hour mark. Good work from Luke Freeman made an opening but Lees made a decisive block.
The home side attacked again five minutes later, and it was Lees with an inch perfect challege that prevented Oumare Tounkara having an attempt on goal.
Kenny was also called into action for the first time on 22 minutes when he made a great block to deny Jon Ashton.
On the half hour mark United created a first meaningful chance of the evening. Good hold-up play by Dominic Poleon led to a great chance for Green to strike at goal, but his attempt went over the bar.
Moments later United carved out the best chance of the half when Aidy White carried the ball 20-yards, beating three men in the process but Poleon couldn't connect with the midfielder's cross.
With the half drawing to a close it was United that pushed for the opening goal. Michael Brown struck a free kick that brought a great save from Chris Day and the midfielder's effort proved to be the final attempt of the half.
United started the second half brightly, White was involved again and his good work led to David Norris seeing his strike fly over Day's goal.
United started to control proceedings and 10 minutes after the interval Zac Thompson's through ball set up Poleon, but the striker saw his effort saved.
United's early pressure almost brought the opening goal when Luke Varney's headed effort went just wide. The United boss rang the changes on 60 minutes by introducing Ross McCormack and Rudy Austin to proceedings.
The fresh faces sparked Brian McDermott's side into life and it wasn't long before the deadlock was broken. Great build-up play from Thompson was followed by Varney converting Austin's cross and heading the ball past the Stevenage keeper.
The goal was Varney's first of pre-season and he doubled his tally five minutes later when he made no mistake after being put through on goal, to finish calmly past Day.
And just minutes after the restart Varney completed a nine minute hat-trick when he converted from the penalty spot. Moments later the striker received a standing ovation after being replaced by Noel Hunt.
With just five minutes of the game remaining Brown almost capped off the evening, but he saw his 20-yard lofted effort skim the crossbar as it went over.

Brian McDermott got the response he wanted from his players on Tuesday night after a disappointing performance against Walsall on Saturday.
Brian McDermott's side travelled to Stevenage for the final away pre-season match and after three second half goals from Luke Varney the manager feels lessons have been learnt.
"We didn't need that on Saturday and when you get something like that against Walsall you have to learn from that," said Brian.
"The big lesson is that you have to earn the right to play and we did that on Tuesday. We played some good stuff and got three good goals.
"The most important thing is that we learnt from Saturday because that hurt, I didn't like that at all.
"We don't want loads of our fans coming to watch a performance like that, we had a lot of fans there on Tuesday night and they will go home happy, that's the main thing."
Hat-trick hero Luke Varney will take the plaudits from the evening but the manager was happy with the whole team's performance and how they reacted from the defeat at Walsall.
"It's great and the crowd singing his name will be good for him and his confidence," said the boss. "A striker scoring a hat-trick, I'm delighted for him.
"He has been a bit unfortunate so far during pre-season, but he is good in the air and he scored three good goals on Tuesday.
"I'm really pleased with the whole group, we had a good meeting on Monday and we all had our say and we got our rewards on Tuesday night."

Injured Byram set to miss big kick off

YEP 23/7/13
by Phil Hay
Leeds United manager Brian McDermott admits he will be ‘surprised’ if star turn Sam Byram is fit enough for the big Championship kick-off at home to Brighton and Hove Albion on August 3.
The talented right-back is on the rehabilitation trail following a niggling hip injury which affected him at the end of last season and forced him to miss this summer’s Under-20 World Cup with England after originally being called up.
He has yet to feature in United’s pre-season programme – and the game against the Seagulls in just 11 days time is likely to come too soon for him.
McDermott, whose side play their penultimate pre-season friendly, at League One side Stevenage this evening (7.45pm), will continue to monitor the fitness of Byram, who was an ever-present last term before being forced to miss the final two games.
Keeper Jamie Ashdown and El-Hadji Diouf, who also haven’t played in any of United’s five pre-season fixtures so far, will also miss tonight’s trip to Hertfordshire.
On the likelihood of Byram being ready for the start of the league season for United – who yesterday named former Blackburn Rovers deputy chief executive Paul Hunt as their new acting CEO – McDermott said: “I’d be surprised, Sam has been out quite a long time now. There is always a hope, but I’d be surprised.
“Dioufy is looking better and is doing a little bit more, but not a lot.
“Sam is still doing his running, but we need to step him up as soon as we possibly can and Jamie Ashdown is going to have a injection and we’ll see where he is on Thursday.“
Meanwhile, McDermott has revealed he held a productive meeting with his players yesterday morning in the wake of Saturday’s hugely disappointing 1-0 friendly loss at Walsall on Saturday – a day he promptly labelled as his worst since taking over as Elland Road boss.
Now eager to draw a line in the sand following the poor Saddlers showing – United’s third successive pre-season reverse – McDermott is demanding two far more positive performances from his players in their final two pre-season games – at Stevenage and at home to Bundesliga side FC Nurnberg at Elland Road on Saturday.
McDermott said: “We had a meeting on Monday morning and talked about what is required in whatever game we are involved in.
“It was a good meeting, everybody’s got a say at the club and it is important that we all have our say. We have to remember that there is two weeks to go till the start of the season and we want a good performance on Tuesday. “It wasn’t good on Saturday, but we know that and have to accept that and we have to move on now.
“That is what pre-season is for, that’s why we have pre-season games. Sometimes you get a game that isn’t quite right and you learn from it and move on really quickly.”
Meanwhile, McDermott has revealed there have been no fresh transfer developments - having revealed at the weekend that he needs to remove players from the club’s wage bill to bring in new recruits.
He said: “There’s nothing concrete yet. There’s no point me saying anything of any relevance. There’s nothing concrete as we speak.”
meeting on Monday morning and talked about what is required in whatever game we are involved in.
“It was a good meeting, everybody’s got a say at the club and it is important that we all have our say.
“We have to remember that there is two weeks to go till the start of the season and we want a good performance on Tuesday.
“It wasn’t good on Saturday, but we know that and have to accept that and we have to move on now.
“That is what pre-season is for, that’s why we have pre-season games.
Sometimes you get a game that isn’t quite right and you learn from it and move on really quickly.”
Meanwhile, McDermott has revealed there have been no fresh transfer developments – having revealed at the weekend that he needs to remove players from the club’s wage bill to bring in new recruits.
He said: “There’s nothing concrete yet. There’s no point me saying anything of any relevance.
“There’s nothing concrete as we speak.”

No-one guaranteed to start against Brighton - McDermott

YEP 23/7/13
by Phil Hay
First-team places remain very much up for grabs ahead of Leeds United’s Championship opener in 11 days’ time.
That’s the emphatic message from Whites boss Brian McDermott, who is challenging all members of his squad to do their level best to nail down a starting spot in the side’s last two pre-season friendlies at Stevenage tonight (July 23) and at home to FC Nurnberg on Saturday afternoon.
McDermott will make a raft of changes from the side who lined up in Saturday’s lacklustre defeat at Walsall and will again tinker with his line-up for the Elland Road clash on Saturday, with all members of his first-team squad to be handed the chance to impress him this week.
He said: “It’s up for grabs (for the Brighton game) and we need to nail that down and take it for the first game of the season.
“There will be different players playing on Tuesday. I think what we have got now is that every player has played a certain amount of game time, but obviously come the Nurnberg game things will change again.
“And then we’ll try and settle the team down and get a team that is going to play for a certain amount of time and everyone is fighting for places.”
McDermott was critical of his players’ collective efforts at Walsall at the weekend, with the lack of energy shown by his side and principally their work-rate when not in possession of the ball something that was particularly alarming to him.
And it goes without saying that it’s an area in which he is demanding improvement in the next two matches before their Championship opener against Brighton.
He said: “The thing for me is that we have to be much, much better without the ball. We have to make sure that when the opposition has the ball, we get in their faces and we have to close down and that’s what we worked on in training on Monday.
“I know these guys can pass it and are good players ,but without the ball we have to be much better.
“When the ball goes dead we have to remain switched on and everything about that and the details will be nailed down in the next 10 days or so.
“We had a reaction in training on Monday which was good and the atmosphere was good as well. We are looking forward to the game on Tuesday night now.”
In that respect, tonight’s opponents Stevenage, well known for their robust, high-octane style, should a perfect test for United, with McDermott looking forward to renewing acquaintances with a familiar face at Broadhall Way in the shape of home manager Graham Westley.
McDermott added: “Graham is a good friend of mine. I spent a bit of time with him (earlier) in the summer and I like him a lot.
“He has been a very successful manager at Stevenage and he is a good man and he works very hard.
“He spent a bit of time with me at Reading and I did the Pro License with him as well and I’ve got a lot of time for him.”
Ross McCormack has missed out on a place in Scotland’s squad for the glamour friendly against England at Wembley on August 14.
Tartan Army boss and former Whites captain Gordon Strachan has named a 29-man squad, which includes ex-United winger Robert Snodgrass.

Monday, July 22, 2013

United unveil new gold away kit

Just a couple of weeks away from the opening day of the new season, Leeds United revealed their new away kit, the club’s official website going for dramatic effect under the headline, “Time To Shine,” and continuing with: “The wait is over and our golden treasure has been found.”
The club had used Twitter over the preceding few days to trail #LUFCTreasureHunt, with reference to the fact that the new shirt was largely of a distinctive gold in colour with “navy detailing teamed with navy shorts. The collar of the shirt is a gold and navy rib which is reflected in the socks, completing the kit which will be worn by the team on their travels over the forthcoming season. The shirt and shorts feature a tonal navy and gold crest which can also be seen on the new range of training wear which has already received a great response from supporters… The shirt features the logos of Main Club Sponsor, Enterprise Insurance, and brand new Secondary Shirt Sponsor, Help Link UK"

Key appointment made at Elland Road

leedsunited.com 22/7/13
Club appoints acting CEO...
Leeds United are delighted to announce the appointment of Paul Hunt as the club's new acting CEO.
Paul brings a wealth of footballing experience to the club having previously been Deputy CEO at Blackburn Rovers and Commercial Director at both Leicester City and Wigan Athletic.
Paul has already been assisting the club on a consultancy basis and his appointment as acting CEO comes with the start of the new Championship season less than two weeks away.
Managing Director David Haigh said: "We are very pleased with this appointment as it strengthens the existing management team we have in place. Paul has already been working with the club in an advisory capacity and in his new role he will have a key part to play in the day to day management of the club."
Paul Hunt said: "I'm delighted to have the opportunity to join Leeds United. It goes without saying that this is a huge football club with a terrific history and fanbase.
"Having already witnessed the enthusiasm and dedication of the staff here during my time as a consultant, I am looking forward to working more closely with them and the owners."

Leeds United in transfer stalemate - McDermott

YEP 22/7/13
by Phil Hay
A concerned Brian McDermott revealed that he was operating a ‘one out, one in’ transfer policy at Elland Road after Leeds United suffered their third successive pre-season loss.
The United manager outlined the financial constraints affecting him as he reflected on a sobering 1-0 defeat to Walsall on Saturday.
Weaknesses and limitations in Leeds’ squad were highlighted by a lacklustre performance against a League One side who earned their win through Craig Westcarr’s 12th-minute volley.
McDermott described the afternoon as “the worst I’ve had as manager here” but he was unable to offer hope of quick additions to his squad after admitting that he was under pressure to remove players from United’s wage bill.
The club’s owner, GFH Capital, has delivered three signings so far this summer but a drawn-out and as yet unsuccessful attempt to secure a fourth player during the past fortnight has raised questions about the funds on offer to McDermott with the Championship season less than two weeks away.
He and United’s managing director, David Haigh, met for talks on Friday after McDermott returned from a tour of Slovenia with no new arrivals in sight.
McDermott said: “Am I making any progress? We’ll see what this week brings. I’m saying the same things and saying nothing really. There’s one player I’ve been trying to get for a number of weeks and that hasn’t changed.”
Asked why his fourth target was proving so difficult to capture, McDermott said: “From our point of view I’d suggest we’re in a situation where we probably need a player to go out the door before we can bring one in the door. That’s where we’re at.”
But McDermott, who helped to fund the recent arrival of Noel Hunt by allowing Steve Morison to join Millwall on loan in June, admitted that interest in his own players was scarce, saying: “We’ve had nothing concrete yet. We’ll have to see what happens.”
Leeds were troubled throughout Saturday’s match by a lively Walsall team who rode their luck on occasions but created regular chances. McDermott said: “Walsall were good, very good, but we didn’t get going from the off.”
Leeds travel to Stevenage tomorrow night for their penultimate pre-season friendly.

Walsall 1 Leeds United 0: McDermott ‘concerned’ by a lamentable performance

YEP 21/7/13
by Phil Hay
Leeds United’s collapse in Domzale nine days ago was excused by Brian McDermott on the grounds that a lesson learned so early in pre-season need not be a bad thing.
Domzale, he claimed, was a “good reminder” delivered at the right time. By contrast, United’s lamentable defeat to Walsall on Saturday left their manager stewing. “We weren’t at our best, far from it,” he said. “I don’t want performances like that and I didn’t see that one coming. It concerns me, of course it does.”
Full-time at Walsall arrived to the sound of booing from sections of the away crowd and perplexed looks all round the press box. It took a few words from McDermott to confirm that Leeds’ performance was as bad as it looked and a few more to highlight his main gripes: no wingers, no money and no certainty about what the next fortnight will bring.
United start the new Championship season in less than two weeks’ time and it was plain on Saturday that their squad is not ready. Fit and healthy, perhaps, but not a fluent, settled machine and not far enough removed from the side that diced with relegation in April. McDermott named a team which passed as his strongest but he has no alternative but to experiment against Stevenage tomorrow, the penultimate friendly of the summer.
“We’ve got a chance to get straight back into it,” McDermott said. “I’ve got 20-odd players here and I’d suggest that there are places up for grabs on the first day of the season.
“That performance wasn’t anywhere near what we’re looking for. It’s the worst day I’ve had as manager here. We weren’t good enough and we weren’t bright enough. There wasn’t enough energy. I’m glad we’ve still got two weeks to go before the season starts.”
Leeds were beaten by a solitary goal from Craig Westcarr, scored on the volley in the 12th minute after Adam Chambers and former United trainee James Baxendale cut through McDermott’s defence with a couple of searching passes.
Walsall offered up openings too – Tom Lees had an early header tipped onto the crossbar and Matt Smith’s first-half shot was cleared off the line by Chambers’ twin brother James – and the introduction of Dominic Poleon as a second-half substitute gave Leeds a shake.
Poleon, Noel Hunt and Michael Tonge might all have equalised – Tonge was denied by a sharp save from Richard O’Donnell soon after half-time –but McDermott spent much time scratching his head as Walsall played freely and found gaps in front of Paddy Kenny. Walsall’s victory was in spite of 11 substitutions in the second half, among them a 16-year-old schoolboy called Rico Henry. Ashley Hemmings and Ben Purkiss should both have scored further goals.
Leeds were unimaginative, disjointed and above all narrow. McDermott’s commitment to a midfield diamond – featuring Paul Green, Luke Murphy, Michael Tonge and Ross McCormack on Saturday – has been predominantly a means of compensating for an acute shortage of wingers, a position where he was blessed with numbers at Reading. Without much natural width, McDermott saw the diamond as the best way of playing to the strengths of his squad. The loss to Walsall and the patches of the game in which his midfield were outrun made him think twice.
“We’ve got a squad with no wingers, bar Aidy White,” he said, omitting to mention Ryan Hall. “I’ve never had that situation before. When I was at Reading we had five.
“Sometimes it’s very difficult to do what you’re trying to do because you’ve only got the personnel who are here. It’s something we need to look at but it’s not easy to make changes.
“Wingers by definition don’t come cheap and there’s no point in buying a winger for the sake of it, someone who can go in one direction but not the other. You need a winger who can be offensive and defensive. I’ve had that in the past and they made the difference.
“But I have to find a way within the squad to make it work, either with this system or another one. What you can’t afford to do is get carried away with a performance like this, just as I wouldn’t if we’d had a really good performance. It’s a bad day but we take it on the chin because we have bad days together like we have good days together.”
Walsall: O’Donnell (Roberts 80), J Chambers (Purkiss 65), Benning (Griffiths 80), Holden (Butler 65), Downing (Hewitt 65), Featherstone (Sawyers 65), Baxendale (Henry 80), A Chambers (McQuilken 46), Lalkovic (Mantom 65), Westcarr (George 65), Hemmings (Morris 65). Subs (not used): Flanagan, Heath.
Leeds United: Kenny, Peltier, Lees, Pearce (Pugh 80), Warnock, Green, Tonge (White 60), Murphy, McCormack, Hunt (Varney 72), Smith (Poleon 46). Subs (not used): Cairns, Brown, Norris, Thompson, Drury.
Referee: Oliver Langford (West Midlands).
Attendance: 3,900 (1,707 Leeds).

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Walsall 1 Leeds United 0: Leeds come up short…by about four players

Fear and Loathing In LS11 21/7/13
Ken DeMange
Back to England, back to the harsh realities of domestic football. Gone was the inspiring, mountainous backdrop of Domzale, in its place the two tiered majesty of the Tile Choice Stand and the pollution spewing M6; gone was the happy, drunken haze that did much to mask the ordinariness that typified performances in Slovenia, instead a barely adequate, 3 pint reality cushion was all we had to hide behind.
Brian McDermott described the day succinctly by branding it his worst as manager of Leeds United – it was hard to argue. While his arrival in April brought a renewed sense of hope, a sudden renaissance in passing football and the opportunity for a long suffering fan base to finally able to emerge into the sunshine and out of the shadows of the Warnocksaurus, it was always going to take more in the longer term.
At the start of the summer it was plain that Leeds needed a new centre back, a creative midfielder, two wingers and (once Morison had departed) a proven striker. With a fortnight remaining ahead of the season’s opener against Brighton, in Luke Murphy, we’ve filled only one void. That’s not to criticise the purchases of Matt Smith and Noel Hunt, the former, although very suspect with the ball at feet in front of goal, is undeniably a threat in the air and a useful option in the short term off the bench (assuming we can provide service from wide positions), while Hunt has struck up an immediate rapport with supporters and the experience and goals he’ll provide amongst a predominantly young pool of forwards could prove invaluable.
But the gaps remain; the same players who failed last season again are showing little to suggest this season will be any different. At the back, Pearce continues to function as if his brain is one from the Neolithic era and his feet something more akin to the Jurassic period: the way in which his movements appear to be so deliberate and thought out when doing something as elementary as playing a short pass simply doesn’t scream ‘footballer’ at you. Beside him, Lees still looks uncertain, particularly with the ball at his feet, while Warnock, although less of a concern has yet to hit his stride either. At right back, it’s possible to feel a little more sympathy for Peltier, having been lumbered with a role on the left for much of last season to accommodate the emergence of Sam Byram, it’s Byram’s absence now that’s served to ensure he’s being denied a chance to establish himself in the middle where he’s looked most comfortable…certainly more so than Pearce or Pugh.
In criticising the defence it would be remiss not to acknowledge the role that those in front play in exacerbating their difficulties; the midfield remains the most urgent area for attention. Brown, Green, White, Norris – four nondescript passengers, just as they were under Warnock. Tonge, while a useful squad player doesn’t appear cut out for playing on the right side of a diamond; he can’t cover the ground, while Murphy looks peripheral and wasted on the left.
In the attacking third at least there is hope; especially in Poleon who arguably stood out above all overs in Slovenia and who alongside his partners, McCormack and Hunt has already built the kind of rapport with Leeds fans that too few other players have done in recent years.
So what of the game? It was every bit as bad as the manager would have you believe and the frustrations in the dug out are clearly as palpable as they are in the stands at this point. McDermott, to this point at least, has pursued a diamond formation; an acknowledgement of the lack of pace of width in the team. Watching the team again yesterday though, it’s hard not to suspect that while McDermott’s intentions to employ the formation were to accommodate those shortcomings, maybe he’s also underestimated the lack of intelligence and ability in some individuals to adapt to a more fluid and flexible approach to playing the game.
It certainly appears so if Walsall is to provide a benchmark; but for a couple of short spells either side of half-time, Leeds were comprehensively outplayed, even looking second best against the host’s second XI. Although the winning goal arrived on 11 minutes, it already seemed overdue at that point, while in contrast it took Leeds over half an hour to create anything of note. When it came, it was courtesy of a deep cross from Peltier – sadly a fairly isolated incidence and until Byram is fit, wingers are signed, or Poleon is given an opportunity on the right, there appears little hope of providing any sort of consistent service from wide areas. As an increasingly resigned away following watched the game play out and passes misplaced, a half-hearted chant of “We’re not going up!” came and went in a whimper, much like Leeds had.
Doubtless there’ll be the typical dismissive remarks about overreactions and friendlies counting for little, while a markedly improved display at Stevenage may also calm nerves a little. However, there’s no disguising the fact that the problems that blighted the side last campaign are not going away and McDermott knows that as much as anyone; there’s only so much coaching, formations and tactics can compensate for a lack of ability, intelligence and simple desire in some of those players currently on the wage bill.
When Paddy Kenny is the outstanding Leeds player in a clash with Walsall, there’s evidently a lot of problems still to address before the big kick-off.
Four more players…