Sunday, October 27, 2013

White to join Sheffield United until the New Year

Leeds United utility man Aidy White is set to join Sheffield United on loan.
The versatile youngster will join the League One strugglers, who are now managed by Nigel Clough, until January.
Leeds boss Brian McDermott expects a deal to be completed with the blades at the start of the week.
Speaking on Radio Leeds, McDermott said, "We have had discussions with Sheffield United about Aidy White. We have an agreement with them for him to join them until January."
Clough has been a long-time admirer of White, having tried to sign the 22-year-old in the summer of 2012 whilst he was Derby boss.
White turned down a move to Barnsley on transfer deadline day in August as he wished to fight for a first team place at Elland Road but he has made just three appearances this season.

McDermott disappointed to come away with nothing

Leeds United boss Brian McDermott couldn`t hide his disappointment after seeing his side lose 3-2 at Huddersfield Town.
Leeds went ahead early but defensive mistakes cost Leeds dear and McDermott says they need to start closing games out on their travels.
Speaking on Radio Leeds, McDermott said, "We didn`t defend one-v-one situations well enough. We had an opportunity to go 2-1 up but didn`t take the chance and we had a stonewall penalty not given at the end.
"We started really well and then they score from nothing, I am disappointed today because we should have got something.
"I thought we would go on and win at 2-2. We have to start managing and controlling game a better away from home."
Leeds made the dream start when Matt Smith headed home in the second minute but they were caught out with a sucker punch on ten minutes in Huddersfield`s first attack of the game.
Danny Ward was given time and space on the edge of the area from a corner to pick his spot and bring the hosts level.
Luke Murphy missed a gilt edged opportunity to bring Leeds level but he somehow managed to miss the target from six-yards out and Leeds were made to pay when Tom Lees headed into his own goal.
Dexter Blackstock scored with his first touch in Leeds colours when he headed home to bring Leeds level but the parity lasted just a matter of minutes as Jonathan Stead was given too much time to turn and shoot.
Matt Smith headed wide from point blank range in the final minute and referee Neil Swarbrick waved away Leeds penalty claims in the dying seconds when Blackstock appeared to be pushed in the back.

Blades set to raid Leeds for versatile White

Sheffield United boss Nigel Clough is hoping to secure his first signing for the club with the arrival of Aidy White from Leeds United.
Clough has enquired about the versatile 22-year-old who has made over 100 appearances for Leeds.
Speaking on Radio Sheffield, Clough said, "We have made an enquiry for him and we will know a bit more on Monday or Tuesday.
"He can play anywhere on the left hand side. He has good quality, his career has stuttered in the last eighteen months and I think he is a good player."
The speedy player can play on either wing or in defence and he has represented both England and Republic of Ireland. He represented England at under-19 level before switching to the Ireland under-21side.
White has made just three appearances for Leeds this season.

Huddersfield Town 3 Leeds United 2: McDermott rues missed penalty

YEP 26/10/13
Huddersfield manager Mark Robins refused to let talk of a training ground bust-up between Adam Clayton and Martin Paterson overshadow his side’s thrilling 3-2 derby win over rivals Leeds.
Midfielder Clayton and Northern Ireland international striker Paterson were both left out of Huddersfield’s matchday squad following reports of a fight between the pair during training on Friday.
But after Jon Stead’s second-half winner clinched his side’s first win in six league games, Robins played down the incident.
“There’s bits and pieces happening in training up and down the country every day,” said Robins.
“There’s nothing to report, nothing sinister, nothing serious. Their omission was nothing to do with what may or may not have happened on the training ground.
“My decisions are based purely on the good of the team and football club. Every decision I make, I try to do that.
“It’s great to be sat here winning the game because those decisions are fully vindicated, so I’ll continue in the same vein.
“I’ll pick the team that I feel is capable of winning the game for us, but also a togetherness, team spirit and bond between the players - that’s massively important.
“They will be back in training (on Sunday) and whichever days next week.”
Huddersfield striker Stead upstaged Leeds’ new loan signing Dexter Blackstock by firing his first goal in his second spell for his hometown club.
Stead turned sharply to arrow a low shot into the bottom corner in the 77th minute, four minutes after Blackstock, signed this week on loan from Nottingham Forest, had headed an equaliser for Leeds with his first touch, less than 60 seconds after stepping off the bench.
In the early stages of the match, Leeds striker Matt Smith headed his third goal in two matches to give the visitors the lead.
Huddersfield winger Danny Ward smashed home a 10th-minute equaliser and Tom Lees’ headed own goal just after the hour-mark gave Huddersfield a 2-1 advantage.
Stead hit the post after rounding Leeds goalkeeper Paddy Kenny in the second half, while Luke Murphy and Smith were both guilty of glaring second-half misses for the visitors and referee Neil Swarbrick was unmoved after Blackstock went tumbling in the box in the closing stages.
“Jon was excellent from start to finish,” Robins added. “I’m really pleased for him because before that he’s gone through, round the goalkeeper and done everything right and hit the outside of the post.
“And then to get an opportunity to win the game, in what I think is his first derby game against Leeds for Huddersfield, I’m delighted for him.
“Long may that continue because that gives us another avenue to go down.”
Leeds boss Brian McDermott could not hide his disappointment after a fifth straight away defeat and a fifth loss in seven league games for his team.
He also felt referee Swarbrick got the decision wrong when denying Leeds the late penalty they wanted.
“The ref’s missed a stonewall penalty right at the end,” McDermott said.
“I’ve just seen it, three times. He was close to it as well, so it’s unfortunate he’s missed it.”
Leeds midfielder Luke Murphy was guilty of a glaring miss on the hour mark with the scores level at 1-1, following a brilliant interchange between Sam Byram and Rudy Austin.
“We created an awful lot of chances, but have to learn how to manage games away from home,” McDermott said.
“For a long time now, away from home, Leeds haven’t been doing what they need to do to get results.
“The football for Luke Murphy’s chance was terrific, it really was.
“It was good football and if that goes in maybe it’s a different game.”

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Huddersfield 3 Leeds 2 match report: Jon Stead's first goal since returning to the Terriers breaks six game winless streak

Independent 26/10/13
On-loan Dexter Blackstock had put United level less than 60 seconds after coming off the bench.
Mark Walker
Huddersfield striker Jon Stead's first goal in his second spell at his hometown club clinched a thrilling 3-2 derby win over Leeds.
Dexter Blackstock, signed on loan from Nottingham Forest this week, headed home a 73rd-minute equaliser with his first touch less than 60 seconds after stepping off the bench to draw the visitors level.
But four minutes later Stead rifled home an angled shot into the bottom corner to seal Huddersfield's first win in six league matches.
The goal was his first since returning to the Terriers for a second spell after his contract at Bristol City had expired in the summer.
Huddersfield winger Danny Ward smashed home a first-half equaliser after Leeds striker Matt Smith had given the visitors an early lead and Blackstock struck with a fine header after Tom Lees' own goal had edged the home side ahead in the 62nd minute.
Leeds raced ahead in the second minute when Smith brushed aside marker Joel Lynch at the far post to head home Alex Mowatt's corner.
It was Smith's third goal in two matches and his fifth of the season following his summer arrival from Oldham.
But the visitors' lead lasted barely eight minutes as Huddersfield equalised following their first corner.
Adam Hammill delivered the perfect ball to Ward on the edge of the penalty area and the winger took one touch before slamming home an unstoppable left-footed shot beyond Leeds goalkeeper Paddy Kenny.
Huddersfield grew in stature as the first half progressed, with Hammill going closest after teasing Warnock on the edge of the area and curling a super effort that Kenny did well to tip over the crossbar.
Ward pulled a right-footed shot wide after swivelling into space inside the area, but that was the last of the goalmouth action before half-time.
Huddersfield replaced teenage midfielder Duane Holmes, who had made his first start for the club, with Sean Scannell during the break and were first to threaten at the start of the second period.
Right-back Jazz Richards' deep cross was headed wide before Smith robbed Paul Dixon at the other end and fired a low shot off target.
Leeds missed a golden chance to regain the lead on the hour when a brilliant interchange between Byram and Austin set the visitors' captain free, but his cross to the far post was skewed wide by Murphy from six yards.
Leeds were made to pay soon after when another curling cross from Hammill skimmed off Lees' head and bounced inside Kenny's left-hand post.
Stead then hit the outside of the post after he had rounded Kenny in a one-on-one as the home side threatened to run away with the game.
But the introduction of Blackstock for Murphy in the 72nd minute proved inspirational.
Mowatt swung over a free-kick from the touchline and Blackstock rose unmarked to head home with his first touch less than 60 seconds later.
However, Huddersfield were not finished. Hammill cut the ball back to the edge of the area after being played in down the right by Scannell and Stead turned sharply to arrow his shot into the bottom corner.
Smith was guilty of a glaring miss at the far post in the 87th minute and referee Neil Swarbrick was unmoved when Austin was bundled over in the area in the closing stages.

Huddersfield 3 Leeds 2: Stead settles stunning West Yorkshire derby

Mail 26/10/13
By John Drayton
Jon Stead settled a topsy-turvy West Yorkshire derby as Huddersfield came from behind to beat Leeds.
Brian McDermott's visitors took an early lead, only for the Terriers to go in front after the break in the pulsating encounter.
Dexter Blackstock scored with his first ever touch for Leeds and looked like he had rescued a point, but Stead swept in Adam Hammill's cross for a precious three points.
Matt Smith drew first blood for the visitors after just two minutes.
The big striker rose highest at the back post from a Alex Mowatt corner to power past Alex Smithies.
If that second minute strike shocked Huddersfield they didn't show it.
Mark Robins' side fought back almost immediately and equalised eight minutes later.
Hammill skipped towards the Leeds penalty area as the ball fell to Danny Ward, whose stunning effort rocketed beyond Paddy Kenny.
The winger himself drew the very best out of Kenny midway through the first half when he saw a curling left-footed effort well tipped over the bar.
Huddersfield completely turned the game on its head after the break. Hammill was again at the centre of it, whipping a wicked delivery that was flicked on at the near post and into his own net by Lees.
Moments later Stead hit the post as Town tried to put the game to bed.
But Leeds hit back. Blackstock - the club's 75th loan signing since 2004 - climbed off the bench to score with his first touch from another Mowatt corner.
The scores only stayed level for five minutes before Hammill crossed for Stead to make amends for his earlier miss and seal the points.

Leeds United complete Zaliukas deal

YEP 26/10/13
by Phil Hay
Leeds United have completed the signing of Lithuanian international Marius Zaliukas.
The former Hearts captain has joined the club on an initial contract until the end of the season.
The central defender has spent the past week training at Thorp Arch, and he made his debut in Tuesday’s 3-3 Professional Development League draw with Sheffield Wednesday.
The 29-year-old brings a wealth of experience, having made over 200 appearances in the Scottish Premier League, and he boasts 21 international caps, the most recent of which came last week.
United manager Brian McDermott told the club website: “I’m delighted sign Marius. He is a player with a lot of experience, he’s played for his country, and he’s a good age for a centre-half. It’s fantastic to have him on board.”

End of the line looks nigh for winger Hall following Twitter rant - Hay

YEP 26/10/13
Run a toothcomb through Ryan Hall’s Twitter account and you’ll find more than just his take on how estranged footballers should treat their work.
His “business head on” monologue led to a two-week suspension from Leeds United on Monday but telling the world that the time had come to sit back and take the money was not as misjudged as his series of retweets over the weekend of October 12.
That particular weekend was nothing special. Leeds were in the middle of the international break and Hall, on loan, laid on a goal for Sheffield United. They lost at Coventry City and stuck fast at the bottom of the League One but no matter. An assist is an assist.
And so the retweets: “we need you on the wing at Elland Road”; “lufc are desperate for a winger, give him a chance”; and the pièce de résistance, “wake up McDermott”. If you need convincing of how poorly Hall grasps the machinations of professional sport, it’s there in a direct challenge to his manager’s authority. Whether Hall endorsed the comments is an argument over semantics.
No doubt he meant what he said when he spawned a slogan for Britain’s 2.5million unemployed by tweeting “if your not getting played take the L out and get payed.” It was that and subsequent remarks which tipped the apple cart. Hall was hauled from the gym at Thorp Arch on Monday morning, read the riot act and sent him home for a fortnight on full pay. His wages are intact but his prospects are not. Hall looks finished at Elland Road, if indeed he ever began.
A resolution to the dispute will be found, naturally. His contract permits a maxiumum two-week suspension and he will be free to return to the training ground a week on Monday. He has the PFA in his corner and, in the grand scheme, taking a salary he’s entitled to is not murder one. It’s a dense and insensitive attitude but footballers have done worse. Hall will likely receive no more than a fine. But out of kilter with the ethos of his club, there is little left for him here. Apart from the many months on his contract.
Comparisons were drawn between Hall’s misdemeanour and the tweet by Davide Somma in 2011 which brought an outright ban on players at Leeds using Twitter. You could say both players were too honest. But Somma’s mistake was honest, an innocent comment about the severity of his knee injury made before the club had spoken themselves.
United might have said nothing had it not been the case that as Somma’s tweet went live, Simon Grayson was sat in a supporters’ function in Stirling telling the audience that he was still waiting to receive the results of scans on the striker’s knee. The embarrassment oozed and Somma heard about it that night but even Grayson conceded that the world was still spinning. “I wanted the news to come out in the right manner,” he said. “But Davide’s a good lad.”
Can McDermott say the same of Hall? The signs so far have not been encouraging. The winger returned from the summer in mediocre shape – “not as fit as he could have been,” to use McDermott’s words – and played no part in United’s pre-season tour of Slovenia. His partner was expecting a baby at the time but reading between the lines, he would have stayed at home regardless. Hall, more than any other player should have appreciated the significance of the close season; a fresh start with a new broom for a winger whose entire spell at Elland Road has been a mystery.
In that respect you sympathise. Hall is not lumbered with a dead-end job but he is at a dead end. Who knows if he has had a chance? Neil Warnock, the coach who signed him, saw no reason to play him and McDermott is even less obliged to do Hall a good turn. United invested £150,000 in the transfer and more besides in a two-and-a-half year deal but there has never been so much as a pretence of painting him as a star in the making. A passenger would be closer to the truth.
Signing Hall was altogether without sense. He is 25 and has nothing in the way of time on his side; certainly not enough to kick his heels. He also has the sort of chequered history which clubs only gamble on in cases of extreme talent. Put bluntly, you wouldn’t sign Hall for his personality. You’d sign him to tear up the wing.
The pages of today’s YEP are juxtaposed: on one, a model professional in Fabrice Muamba who lost his livelihood aged 23 and counts himself lucky to be alive. On another, Ryan Hall who seems to think he has nine. Football’s a short career according to Hall. It is when you treat it like he does.

Brian McDermott: Hungry Dexter brings us ‘a bit of everything’

YEP 25/10/13
Brian McDermott hopes Dexter Blackstock will bring a “bit of everything” to Leeds United after signing the striker on a three-month loan.
McDermott claimed that widespread interest in Blackstock was proof of the forward’s calibre in the Championship, despite his peripheral role at Nottingham Forest this season.
Brighton, Sheffield Wednesday and Doncaster Rovers all made approaches for Blackstock and Brighton believed a deal for the forward was imminent at the start of the week.
But his switch from Billy Davies’, pictured, Forest to Yorkshire yesterday has strengthened McDermott’s attacking resources and the United manager said: “He’s right for us.
“He’s a good age, he’s not been playing a lot this season and he’s hungry.
“He seems like a good fit. He can hold the hold the ball up, he’s a strong lad, he’s scored goals over a period of time and he’s got pace – a bit of everything really.
“A lot of clubs in the Championship were interested and the fact that it was Leeds United made a big difference. I think that’s the reason he decided to come.”

Leeds United are aiming to tie up deal for Zaliukas

YEP 25/10/13
Leeds United were attempting to finalise a second signing in the space of 24 hours today after offering a contract to trialist defender Marius Zaliukas.
The Lithuanian international is weighing up United’s terms and will be in contention to feature in tomorrow’s West Yorkshire derby at Huddersfield Town if he accepts the deal.
Zaliukas, who has been out of contract for several months, joined Leeds on trial last week and played in a development-league fixture between United’s Under-21s and Sheffield Wednesday which ended 3-3 at Thorp Arch on Tuesday.
The 29-year-old has previously rejected offers from Rangers and Queens Park Rangers but United manager Brian McDermott appears confident of securing his signature having initiated contract negotiations with Zaliukas’ representatives.
McDermott made one breakthrough in the transfer market yesterday by securing striker Dexter Blackstock on a three-month loan from Nottingham Forest, and Blackstock will be part of the squad named at Huddersfield.
“We’re trying to do a deal with Marius and we’re close to a contract,” McDermott said. “We’ll hopefully have some news on that today.”
Asked if Zaliukas could be involved tomorrow, the Leeds boss said: “We’ll have to see. Possibly.”
Zaliukas has been limited to appearances for Lithuania’s national side since parting company with Scottish club Hearts in the summer but he turned in a composed performance in the development squad’s draw.
Speaking to the YEP after his outing, Zaliukas said: “Obviously I’m looking forward. (Leeds) are a good place, a good team and a good league. It would be a challenge.
“The type of game here suits me best. I was expecting to be sorted out (with a club) a couple of months ago and my situation is probably talking for itself. It would be good to finish all that.”
Zaliukas is thought to have rejected a contract at QPR due to doubts about his prospects of regular involvement under Harry Redknapp, and the London club filled the defensive vacancy in their squad on Wednesday by signing USA international Oguchi Onyewu.
McDermott is likely to stick with his existing back three of Tom Lees, Scott Wootton and Jason Pearce against Huddersfield but those three players have an average age of 23 and Zaliukas would offer an older alternative to them.
“He’s got experience, he’s tough and strong and for me you always try to build from the back,” McDermott said. “We’re trying to get that part of our team right.
“We’ve got three younger lads who are doing a great job and did a great job against Birmingham last weekend but they’d benefit from having him around.”
United’s boss, meanwhile, refused to shed any further light on the situation surrounding winger Ryan Hall, who Leeds suspended for a breach of discipline on Monday. Hall has been banished from Thorp Arch for up to two weeks on full pay following comments made by him on Twitter last weekend, and the players’ union – the Professional Footballers’ Association – is working to resolve the dispute.
McDermott said: “I can’t really comment. I got a phone call from David Haigh (United’s managing director) regarding that and the club have done what they’ve done. We’ll see what the outcome will be.”

Leeds United: Striker Blackstock pleased he chose ‘big club’

YEP 25/10/13
by Phil Hay
There is a debate to be had over how prolific a striker Dexter Blackstock truly is but his record against Leeds United is nothing short of deadly: five goals in five games against his new team.
The 27-year-old traditionally saves his best for Leeds and has often found United at their worst, scoring once in Nottingham Forest’s 4-2 win on Boxing Day last year and twice in a ludicrous 7-3 rout of the Elland Road club nine months earlier.
Blackstock remembers the second result – United’s heaviest-ever home defeat – as an “eventful night” but his habit of producing goals in West Yorkshire is one he intends to foster during three months on loan with Leeds.
“I’ve been able to score basically every time against them and it’s been a good fixture for me,” Blackstock said, speaking to the YEP after completing his transfer from Forest.
“I dont know why that is but Leeds are one of those clubs where you walk into the stadium as the opposition, you look around and think ‘wow’.
“They’re a proper big club and that makes everyone raise their game.
“We had the 7-3 game – that was an eventful night – and I hope I can continue to score goals at Elland Road.
“It’s on my mind to impress here, that’s without doubt. It’s on my mind to win matches and push Leeds up the table.”
Blackstock’s record shows an average of one goal from every four league appearances made by him but he has the stock and reputation of a striker whose career has taken him to Southampton, Queens Park Rangers and latterly Forest.
Chances for him have dried up at the City Ground but he completed his loan move to Leeds yesterday with no promise of an immediate chance to play.
He will be in United’s squad at Huddersfield Town tomorrow but Brian McDermott has essentially confirmed that Blackstock is destined for a seat on the bench.
An unchanged line-up is inevitable after Sunday’s 4-0 rout of Birmingham City and Blackstock took in that performance at Elland Road, 48 hours before speaking to McDermott and deciding to accept an offer from Leeds.
“I watched them on Sunday and it was a very good performance, a very comfortable victory,” Blackstock said.
“I’m here for when the manager needs me and he’ll pick a team he thinks will win.
“Every game’s different but I’m ready to come off the bench or do whatever the manager needs me to do.
“I’m here for three months, not one game, and I’m raring to go. If needed I’m definitely ready.
“Before I agreed to come, I sat down with the manager and went through his plans. I was very impressed with what he had to say.
“There were a few clubs interested in taking me but as soon as a club like Leeds come in, it’s very difficult for other clubs to compete. It ticked all the boxes.
“The ambition’s here for this club to move forward and I imagine the expectation’s very high, just like Nottingham Forest where the fans demand good football and entertaining games.
“The club seem to be moving in the right direction and I wanted to be part of that.”

Friday, October 25, 2013

Leeds United: I just want to play says hitman Dexter

YEP 25/10/13
by Phil Hay
New signing Dexter Blackstock has promised to make a lasting impression on Leeds United, insisting: “I’m not a bit-part player.”
Blackstock spoke of his relief at being free of the frustration of a fringe role at Nottingham Forest after agreeing a three-month loan move to Elland Road.
The 27-year-old completed his transfer after training with United’s players yesterday morning and he will be part of Brian McDermott’s squad for Saturday’s clash with Huddersfield Town.
Blackstock’s emergency loan runs to January 25, allowing him to play in 15 league matches, and Forest sanctioned his move to another Championship club after using him just three times in the first two-and-a-half months of the season.
Blackstock has drifted to the fringes of Forest’s plans less than a year after signing a new long-term contract at the City Ground but he refused to concede that his career in Nottingham was over.
The striker, however, said: “There’ve been massive changes at Forest over the summer, a lot of investment into the squad, and for whatever reason I’ve not be involved as much as I would have liked. That’s always disappointing.
“It would have been fairly easy for me to stay at Forest and be bit-part but I’ve never done that during my career. I’ve never been bit part at any of my clubs and I was missing playing on a Saturday afternoon.
“I’ve not played a lot of games but my fitness feels good. In terms of match fitness, you’re not going to get that without playing and you’re never going to get sharp until you play games but I’m raring to go when the manager needs me and it’s on my mind to impress.”
Both Blackstock and McDermott were reluctant to discuss the possibility of the loan from Forest becoming permanent in January, saying only that they would reassess his position in the transfer window.
Blackstock is tied to a four-a-a-half year deal and he has been a prominent player at the City Ground since joining Forest in 2009.
Blackstock said: “What surprises you in football these days? Very little in terms of things changing quickly. That’s what happens. I’ve been at Forest for almost five years and it’s a big part of me. I’ve still got a long-term contract there and it’s definitely not over completely. It’s a case of me coming out and getting games under my belt.
“In terms of a permanent deal, I can’t really talk about that because there’s no agreement between the two clubs. It’s strictly a loan for three months and it’s something we’d have to sit down and reassess in January.
“Both parties at the moment are fixed on a loan but you never know what the future will bring and all I know is that for the time I’m here I’ll do my best for the club, help us pick up some results and move up the table.”

DEXTER BLACKSTOCK FACTFILE Born: Oxford, May 20, 1986.
Age: 27.
Position: Striker.
Weight: 11st 9lbs.
Height: 6ft.
Previous clubs: Oxford United, Southampton, Plymouth Argyle (loan), Derby County (loan), Queens Park Rangers, Nottingham Forest.
Senior debut: for Southampton v Everton, October 16, 2004.
Senior appearances: 311.
Senior goals: 84.
under-21 caps: 2 for England Under-21s (2007-2008).
International caps: 4 for Antigua and Barbuda.
International debut: for Antigua and Barbuda in a 4–0 friendly defeat to Trinidad & Tobago on February, 2012.
International goals: 1. Scored in 2014 World Cup qualifier against United States on October 12, 2012.

Leeds defender Ross Killock joins Chester on one-month loan

BBC 24/10/13
Chester have increased their defensive options by signing Leeds United's Ross Killock on loan for a month.
The 19-year-old is yet to make a first-team appearance for his parent club.
Killock, who had a loan spell in the Conference Premier with Alfreton last season, is free to make his debut in Saturday's FA Cup tie with Gateshead.
Neil Young's Chester side, who won the Conference North title last term, are 22nd in League two, having won just one of their last seven games.

Forest striker signs up 24/10/13
United snap up Blackstock in a loan deal...
Nottingham Forest striker Dexter Blackstock is joining the club on a three-month loan.
The 27-year-old arrives in a loan deal that will see him join the club until January 25 to further boost Brian McDermott's striking options.
Blackstock, who has scored 83 career goals in 306 appearances, brings a wealth of experience, having also featured heavily for Southampton and QPR, and is a player that the United manager knows well.
The boss said: “I’ve known Dexter for a long time, being brought up in Oxford. I’m really pleased we’ve managed to secure his services.
"He’s a really good age for a striker and I’m sure he has many good years in front of him. We are all really looking forward to working with him.”
The striker is likely to go straight into the squad for Saturday’s trip to Huddersfield Town.

Official: Blackstock joining Leeds from Forest on three-month loan

Yorkshire Post 24/10/13
LEEDS United have completed the signing of Nottingham Forest striker Dexter Blackstock on a three-month loan.
Blackstock, 27, joins Elland Road on loan from the City Ground until January 25.
The striker, who has struggled for games under Billy Davies at Forest, was on the verge of joining Brighton last weekend but a late attempt by Leeds to bring him north has paid off.
The forward has played only three times for Forest this season and his career in Nottingham has taken a turn for the worse since he signed a new four-and-a-half year deal at the start of 2013.
He will now go straight into Whites manager Brian McDermott’s squad to face a Championship derby at Huddersfield Town on Saturday.

Leeds United borrow undisclosed Dubai sum

YEP 24/10/13
by Phil Hay
Leeds United have borrowed an undisclosed sum from another company in Dubai – with the loan funded personally by managing director David Haigh.
The Elland Road club secured money from Berrydale Seventh Sport Holdings last week, four months after receiving cash from Dubai-based Brendale Holdings.
United’s owner, GFH Capital, declined to comment when contacted by the YEP last night but Haigh – one of the three board members at Leeds – is understood to have financed the loan paid on October 15.
Haigh controls Berrydale Seventh Sport Holdings and a debenture lodged with Companies House reveals that he was responsible for sanctioning the payment on the firm’s behalf.
His decision to invest personal funds comes on the back of a previous loan from Brendale Holdings, another Dubai-based company which lent money to United in June. Haigh is also a director of Brendale Holdings.
GFH Capital is almost a year on from its takeover of Leeds and remains the majority shareholder at Elland Road, despite the sale of sizeable stakes to club chairman Salah Nooruddin and Bahrain’s International Investment Bank (IIB).
United’s financial position is less than clear but Nooruddin painted a positive outlook during an interview with the Yorkshire Evening Post on October 1.
“What we’ve done in a short period of time is significant,” Nooruddin said. “Our first objective was to stabilise the club financially. We did that.”

Leeds United: Boss Mac’s forming a winning mentality

YEP 24/10/13
After the impressive display against Birmingham City, the new 3-5-2 formation looks like becoming a permanent fixture. Phil Hay reports.
It was significant on Tuesday afternoon that Leeds United’s Under-21s lined up as their senior counterparts had against Birmingham City on Sunday: three central defenders with wing-backs either side of them and three midfielders behind a front two.
Matching formations provide continuity between the academy and United’s first team and Brian McDermott’s lesson in developing a “winning mentality” was also shared with the club’s younger players after they contrived to draw a game with Sheffield Wednesday which was all but won with 15 minutes to play.
The result spoke for itself and McDermott did not allow a late collapse to go unchallenged but more relevant on Tuesday was the attempt to introduce fringe players to the 3-5-2 system which bamboozled Birmingham. One comprehensive win at Elland Road is all it has taken to convince United’s manager that the set-up can work week after week.
United trialled the formation during the recent international break and ran riot against Birmingham with four unanswered goals. McDermott’s team should remain unchanged at Huddersfield Town on Saturday but Tuesday’s development-squad fixture at Thorp Arch was a chance for Leeds to experiment further.
Aidan White played as a wing-back, creating United’s second goal and hitting the post at the very end of a 3-3 draw. Noel Hunt started up front and scored a hat-trick. Leeds were picked apart late on but the value of the match might be in schooling their wider squad in a strategy which McDermott intends to stick to.
“On Sunday we got far more balls into the box and probably created 10 really good chances,” McDermott said. “In the 20 games I’ve been involved in here, we had more chances in that game than we’ve had for a long time – and we scored four goals.
“That’s what I want my team to be about and that’s what we are about. People say that my teams only play this way or that way but that’s not true. I play whatever way suits the boys and this seems to suit.
“(Paul) Green can play central midfield for us and (Michael) Tonge too. Lee Peltier could play right wing-back and Adam Drury or Aidy White could start on the left if we needed them to. It works.
“The bottom line is that you can’t play in front of teams. You have to get in behind them and some of our balls from the back against Birmingham were excellent – great long passes and then some good, intricate play. That’s what people want to see and that’s how I want us to play.”
McDermott admitted that his shift towards Sunday’s fluid formation had been made possible by Sam Byram’s recovery from a hip injury, a problem which looked for a time like it would lead to surgery.
United resisted that option at the start of August, choosing to restore Byram’s fitness through careful rehabilitation, and the club’s player of the year turned out as a wing-back with obvious freedom during Leeds’ victory over Birmingham.
“At the start of the season I didn’t have Sam so I worked on a formula with the players I had,” McDermott said. “But this system seems to suit someone like Sam because he can get forward. He did that really well on Sunday.”
The key for McDermott is the attitude of United’s players, from top to bottom. Last Friday he and his staff staged a lengthy discussion with his squad, stressing the need for belief and conviction in their performances. Elland Road was devoid of the mentality he spoke of last month and he was less than impressed by Leeds’ Under-21s surrendering a 3-1 advantage at Thorp Arch on Tuesday.
“We were 3-1 up and we got a 3-3 draw,” he said. “This is what I’m talking about – you should win that game and Neil (Redfearn, United’s academy manager) will have spoken to the players about it afterwards.
“When we had our meeting last week, this is what I was trying to say.
“That game against Sheffield Wednesday should have been done and dusted.
“Football isn’t just about going out to play. You have to have a mentality where you’re going to win the game whether you play good, bad or indifferent. The outcome is always the same – you get a result.
“Successful teams do that. I watched Manchester United win the Premier League last season and I’d probably say that they played really well six or seven times. On the other occasions they got results. That’s what the best teams do.
“Burnley are doing it in our league at the moment. They went to Ipswich on Saturday with nothing in the game and they won 1-0. That’s what I call a winning mentality and that’s what I’m trying to create and foster.”
McDermott believes he is being helped in that by the commitment of those around him.
In a week when Leeds suspended winger Ryan Hall for comments made by him on Twitter, McDermott has made a point of talking up the character of others. He went further than that on Sunday by naming Danny Pugh and Michael Brown on his bench – a rare opportunity for two players who have trained quietly without inducement for much of the season.
“What I’d say about Danny Pugh and Michael Brown is that they’ve been nothing less than excellent professionals,” McDermott said. “The way they’ve conducted themselves has been excellent.
“There’s a right way to conduct yourself and the alternative to the right way is the wrong way. That doesn’t work for me and they’re very much part of the squad. Everyone knows they’ve got a chance here I hope but you can only get 18 into your squad.
“It all comes down to having the right attitude and that has to be the way. There’s no negotiation on that.”

Leeds United secure loan

Square Ball 23/10/13
A document from Companies House today revealed that Leeds City Holdings, the parent company of Leeds United, have entered into a loan agreement with Berrydale Seventh Sport Holdings. This will provide the club with funds.
Whilst in principle, a loan isn’t an ideal thing for a club to require, the loan is very situational. Firstly, Berrydale Seventh Sport Holdings seems to be a subsidiary of Gulf Finance House, not least because David Haigh is a director of the company. This loan is, therefore, likely a method of investing into the club without incurring unnecessary expenses, as suggested by George Dyer on Twitter:
This is also a legacy of the Bates era at Leeds, and relates to the working capital shortfalls the club has experienced since last summer. The risk taken on the East Stand development led to a need to front-load various incomes due to the club (for example, sponsorship money), which means there is often a shortfall in cash flow. The document even refers to one of these agreements, with Compass Group. The loan is likely just an attempt to rectify that heading forward, and may relate to a need to fund an impending signing or two.
Whilst loans are not ideal, it is a sign of investment from GFH.

Whites closing in on Zaliukas

YEP 23/10/13
by Phil Hay
Marius Zaliukas will return to Thorp Arch for talks with Brian McDermott tomorrow after edging closer to a contract offer from Leeds United.
The Lithuanian staked his claim for a deal with an appearance for United’s development squad yesterday and he will speak to McDermott about his future in the next 24 hours.
United secured international clearance in time for out-of-contract Zaliukas to play on trial in a 3-3 draw with Sheffield Wednesday, and McDermott has not ruled out the possibility of adding the former Heart of Midlothian captain to his senior squad.
Zaliukas is available on a free transfer having rejected offers from Scottish club Rangers and Championship side Queens Park Rangers, both of whom took the centre-back on trial after his summer release from Hearts.
McDermott admitted last week that he was keen to add an experienced central defender to United’s existing pool of Tom Lees, Jason Pearce and Scott Wootton, and Zaliukas looked largely comfortable against a Wednesday line-up featuring 6’6” striker Atdhe Nuhiu.
Zaliukas told the YEP: “It was a hard game because I don’t know a lot of the players here and that makes communication quite difficult, but basically it was good.”
Asked if he was hopeful of winning a deal at Elland Road, Zaliukas said: “You would have to ask the gaffer.
“Obviously I’m looking forward. It’s a good place, a good team and a good league. It would be a challenge.
“The type of game here suits me best. I was expecting to be sorted out (with a club) a couple of months ago and my situation is probably talking for itself. It would be good to finish all that.”
McDermott watched Zaliukas’ performance at Thorp Arch alongside assistant manager Nigel Gibbs and he hinted that an offer to the defender could be forthcoming after his short trial.
Zaliukas is understood to have resisted the chance to join QPR due to doubts about the likelihood of him playing regularly under Harry Redknapp but the West London side remain interested in the Lithuania international.
McDermott said: “You can see his experience and I thought he was comfortable.
“He hasn’t played a lot of games but he did play for Lithuania against Edin Dzeko last week. There’s a good player there.
“I’m not in two minds about him but I need to have discussions with my staff and go from there. We’ll bring him back in tomorrow and have a conversation.”

I deserved the chop admits honest Hunt

YEP 23/10/13
Dropped for the Birmingham City game, striker Noel Hunt responded with a hat-trick for Leeds’ Under-21 side. Phil Hay reports.
Noel Hunt admitted last night that Brian McDermott was right to leave him out of Leeds United’s win over Birmingham City, saying: “I’d have done the same in his position.”
The out-of-form striker, who raised his spirits with a hat-trick for Leeds’ Under-21s yesterday, said his omission from McDermott’s squad on Sunday had been a “fair decision” in response to his performances since a free transfer from Reading in July.
Hunt was notable by his absence from United’s teamsheet at the weekend, left out along with midfielder Paul Green as McDermott implemented sweeping changes to his formation and line-up in the aftermath of a chronic spell of results.
The 30-year-old was one of McDermott’s most high-profile transfers in the summer, brought to Elland Road after Leeds sent Steve Morison on loan to Millwall, but the United manager revealed that Hunt and Green had been dropped for the defeat of Birmingham, rather than injured.
Michael Brown and Danny Pugh were preferred as substitutes – the latter involved in a senior fixture for the first time in almost a year – and Matt Smith justified his inclusion up front with two goals in a rousing 4-0 win.
Hunt, who has failed to score in eight first-team appearances for Leeds, told the YEP: “It was tough to be left out and I don’t like being in that position but I’ve got the utmost respect for the manager and, to be honest, I agreed with his decision. I’d have done the same.
“I haven’t been great and if I haven’t been great then how can he justify putting me in? It’s not the first time he’s dropped me in his career or mine and I’ve never once felt that he was treating me unfairly.
“I don’t know if he was nervous about telling me but he was superb in the way he handled it and it left me thinking ‘yeah, fair enough.’ Managers don’t pick players who aren’t playing well, or good managers don’t.
“He (McDermott’s) the sort of guy who would leave his son out if he had to. He’d leave out anyone who didn’t deserve a place. I don’t expect any special treatment just because I’ve played under him before or because we know each other well. I won’t get special treatment and no player should.”
Sunday’s emphatic result – United’s biggest Championship victory for the best part of two years – justified McDermott’s approach to a game which was crucial in reasserting his control of a darkening atmosphere at Elland Road.
Leeds had been backed into a corner by five defeats from seven league games ahead of the international break but his revised team – fielded in an uncharacteristic 3-5-2 formation – picked apart a woeful Birmingham defence, putting the game beyond City’s reach inside 45 minutes.
Smith’s two goals came on his full league debut and McDermott said later that the inclusion of Brown and Pugh among his substitutes reflected their “professional” attitude in the face of few opportunities for either player this season.
“The team were superb on Sunday,” Hunt said.
“The manager changed the shape and it did us the world of good.
“We put endless balls into the box and if we’re laying on balls like that, we’ve got players here who will attack them and score.
“All the strikers here are well capable of chipping in and Sunday made that clear.
“Credit to big Matty Smith – he took his chances superbly and his finishing was top draw. I’m genuinely delighted for him and he deserves his place now. He deserves it big time.
“We’ve got a good squad here and certainly not as bad a squad as people have been making out. It’s maybe boring to talk about attitude and so on but that’s what makes you bounce back when you’re under pressure. We played great against Birmingham, definitely, but the attitude through the international break and leading up to the game was right on the money. You can’t discount that.”
McDermott offered more words of support for Hunt attitude after his three goals earned United’s development squad a 3-3 draw with Sheffield Wednesday at Thorp Arch yesterday afternoon.
Hunt converted a penalty and a header in the first half and completed a hat-trick by nipping in behind Wednesday’s defence midway through the second.
Having led 3-1, Leeds contrived to throw away two points with late concessions.
“It’ll be good for him to get a few goal and I’m pleased,” McDermott said.
“It’s fair to say that it hasn’t really worked for him yet but he’s got a great attitude. You can’t fault that.”
Hunt said: “Every player goes through patches where their form dips and I’m not going to shy away from the fact that it has for me. I’d rather put it right.
“So I work hard and I try to score goals for the reserves or whoever I’m play for.
“I’m not the kind of guy who sulks and I’ve nothing to sulk about, other than my own form.
“I’ll defend myself in as much as I’m genuinely working myself into the ground but things haven’t been coming off for me so this is a time to take stock and get back in there.
“A hat-trick does me no harm I guess and it’s nice to feel the goals flowing naturally but if the team keep churning out results like we did on Sunday then I’ll be a happy man. I’d be gutted not to be involved and I’m desperate to get going but I’d sacrifice my own ends for results like that all season.
“I really would. No player’s bigger than the club.”
United dropped from sixth in the Championship to 14th place in the space of three weeks last month but their rout of Birmingham pushed the club up to ninth position ahead of an inviting run of games against Huddersfield Town, Yeovil Town and Charlton.
Hunt admitted to being surprised by the severity of the criticism of United’s players before the international break, saying: “People were writing us off. I find that hard to accept.
“We’re only a quarter of the way through the season and we’re ninth in the league, four or five points off the play-offs. It’s not perfect but it’s not a disaster either. It’s really not a disaster.
“We’re going to lose games here and there because every team does but if we play like we did on Sunday then we’ll win more than we lose.
“That’s for sure.”

Sheffield Wednesday staged a second-half fightback to deny Leeds United’s development squad a second league win of the season.
Caolan Lavery and substitute Mani Dieseruvwe struck in the closing stages to overhaul a 3-1 deficit and earn Wednesday an unlikely 3-3 draw at Thorp Arch yesterday.
United appeared to be cruising to victory after a hat-trick from Noel Hunt twice gave Neil Redfearn’s side a commanding advantage.
Leeds were two goals to the good at half-time through a seventh-minute penalty and a 40th-minute header from Hunt and they established a 3-1 lead after Lavery pulled a goal back amid suspicions of offside.
After the Owls drew level, Aidan White hit the post in the dying seconds. United’s team featured two trialists, Lithuanian international Marius Zaliukas and 19-year-old Luis Morrison-Derbyshire, a former Arsenal trainee, while Dom Poleon played the full game.
Leeds: Cairns, Killock, Zaliukas, Morrison-Derbyshire, Coyle, Purver, Dawson (Walters 84), Lenighan, White, Poleon, Hunt. Subs (not used): Atkinson, Thompson, Parkin, Philips.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

McDermott on Blackstock - Watch this space

Leeds United boss Brian McDermott refused to rule out a move for Nottingham Forest striker Dexter Blackstock when talking to BBC Radio Leeds today.
Leeds have been strongly linked with the out of favour striker, who has made just three appearances for the City Ground side this season.
McDermott was talking with Adam Pope from BBC Radio Leeds this afternoon when he was asked about Blackstock and the possibility of him arriving at Elland Road on loan.
"Brighton are amongst a number of clubs interested in him. You will just have to watch this space," McDermott told Pope.
Leeds were keen on signing the 27-year-old in the January transfer window before he agreed a new four-year deal with Forest.
McDermott is desperate to add to his attacking options and he admitted only last week that he had been knocked backed by around six managers when approaching them about the availability of players.
United are giving a trial to young defender Luis Morrison-Derbyshire.
The 19-year-old joined fellow defender and trialist Marius Zaluikas in the side for the development squad game with Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday afternoon.
Morrison-Derbyshire has been playing for Finnish side FC YPA Ylivieska with his most recent appearance coming in the 3-2 win at ORPA on the 5th October.
The defender, who started out at Stevenage, as had an interesting six months in Finland, picking up six yellow cards and two reds in 21 appearances.
Both Morrison-Derbyshire and fellow trialist Zaluikas completed 90 minutes in the 3-3 draw with the Owls with Leeds throwing away a two-goal advantage late in the game.
Leeds both Brian McDermott watched the game at Thorp Arch and he is to sit down with Zaluikas over the next few days.
The Lithuanian international is also a target for Queens Park Rangers.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Clearance granted for defender 22/10/13
Marius Zaliukas free for Development fixture…
The club has received international clearance for former Hearts skipper Marius Zaliukas.
The Lithuanian international went straight into the side for the Development Squad fixture against Sheffield Wednesday (12noon) at Thorp Arch on Tuesday.
Zaliukas has been training with the club since the back end of last week and United manager Brian McDermott is keeping a watchful eye on the defender.
The central defender made over 200 appearances for Hearts and was close to joining Queens Park Rangers before heading north.

Leeds United: Smith’s delighted to have staked a claim

YEP 22/10/13
Matt Smith was handed a rare start for Leeds and responded with two goals. Now he tells Leon Wobschall he’s wants a regular run.
A TWO-GOAL haul on the sweetest of Sunday lunch-times against a team from the city of his birth – Matt Smith would be forgiven for thinking he has finally ‘arrived’ in a Leeds United jersey.
United’s cup was brimful to the top with gushing positives following a sumptuous dismantling of Lee Clark’s Birmingham City, with the 4-0 victory their most emphatic since a stellar showing at Nottingham Forest in November 2011, when the Whites’ fittingly honoured the memory of the late Gary Speed with a classy four-goal triumph.
The good news for the Whites was headlined by a two-goal showing from summer signing Smith, who kick-started his United career in front of the watching TV audience, the fourth time this calendar year in which the 6ft 6in forward has proved not to be camera shy.
Smith’s previous three contributions propelled him to national prominence, the first being his brace in an almighty FA Cup third-round shock at Boundary Park in January when he inspired his former club Oldham Athletic to a stunning 3-2 victory over Liverpool.
The blue half of Merseyside were also tormented by Smith in the next round, with the giant targetman repeating his heroics of the previous round by netting a late equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Everton – ahead of powering home a towering header in the 3-1 loss in the replay at Goodison Park.
It was displays like those which started to mark the card of scouts and managers regarding Smith, out of contract with the cash-strapped Latics in June and destined for elevation to higher things.
Elland Road was the destination Smith was headed for, despite rival Championship interest and after a largely quiet start to life with the Whites, a clear statement finally came on Sunday.
Smith’s next task is backing it up, conscious that United have bragging rights to attend to as well as points in Saturday’s big West Yorkshire derby at near-neighbours Huddersfield Town.
Smith said: “I have been given an opportunity. I have played a bit-part role so far with my starts in the cup and coming on regularly in the league. But I hope to keep it going now.
“The thing I have noticed, certainly from coming from part time to full-time football is that you need that consistency. That’s what makes a good player; a great player week-in, week-out – delivering performances.
“I will enjoy this moment, but make sure I’ll come back fighting for the next game.”
While Smith was afforded a portion of the limelight on Sunday, plenty of others shone, including the likes of Rudy Austin, who crowned an exhilarating display with an outstanding goal, Alex Mowatt – looking more and more of a find – and Ross McCormack.
The latter provided plenty of menace alongside Smith at the business end of the pitch and conjured a fair few twists to bewitch the Blues defence, with the Scot very much United’s version of the Magic Man.
On his partnership with McCormack in a classic big-man, little-man combination, the 24-year-old said: “We have got a good relationship on and off the pitch.
“We are friends away from it and on the pitch, he’s very clear in his communication and where he wants the ball when it comes up to me. He tells me near enough exactly where he wants the ball.
“Obviously, he’s a terrific player and he’s got a lot of magic. He can turn a game on his own sometimes.
“It’s great to play with someone who is confident and comfortable on the ball. You know he will always put in crosses and create opportunities for you.”
Despite several contenders, the man entitled to the biggest backslap on the day was United manager Brian McDermott after he found a solution ‘in house’ to arrest a worrying run of form and provide a momentum swing for Leeds, who went into Sunday’s game on the back of a poor streak of five defeats in seven Championship matches.
McDermott’s switch to a fluid 3-5-2 system worked a treat after being tried out in a training-ground dress rehearsal against Rotherham United, with United backing up the promise shown in that performance when it mattered against the Blues.
Smith, whose fine header to wrap up proceedings to make it 4-0 on was the stock in trade of all big centre-forwards worth their salt, acknowledged: “It was obviously pleasing to see what takes place on the training ground gets replicated on the pitch. It worked well for us, we got balls out wide and crosses into the box and created chances from start to finish.
“We also got in behind them with willing runners all over the park.
“I was delighted. Obviously, our run of form has not been great, so it was good to hit back with a very good performance. A clean sheet, four goals and I don’t think you can ask for much more than that.
“The first goal was a deflection, which came off the keeper and bobbled out to me on the edge of the box. I saw him coming across, so I decided to back away because I thought his momentum would have taken him the way he was going. The second goal was an unbelievable cross from Alex Mowatt. We know he’s got that ability on his left foot to put in crosses like that all day. It was a phenomenal cross and I managed to put my head on it.
“Credit to the team, we created chances from start to finish and kept going. It’s easy when you are 3-0 up to let your standards drop and we knew that they were going to come out with momentum in the second half.
“But we managed to stay strong and resilient and kept them to shots from distance and Paddy (Kenny) made a few great saves. All around, it was a great performance.”

Blackstock on horizon as Hall banned on return to Leeds

Yorkshire Post 22/10/13
by Richard Sutcliffe
RYAN HALL’S surprise suspension by Leeds United is believed to have been triggered by his use of a social network medium.
The 25-year-old was informed of the punishment yesterday – which means the winger must stay away from Elland Road while an internal investigation takes place – when he returned from a month-long loan spell at Sheffield United.
Leeds, who are keen on bringing Nottingham Forest striker Dexter Blackstock in on loan, then released the news of Hall’s suspension via an official statement, confirming only that a “disciplinary issue” was the cause.
The Yorkshire Post understands that Hall’s use of social media platform Twitter over the past week or so is behind the player being told to stay away.
Last weekend, Hall, after being omitted from the Blades’ squad to face Port Vale, made a controversial reference to his footballing situation when he tweeted: “Look on the bright side if your (sic) not getting played take the L out and get payed (sic).”
When criticised for displaying such an attitude by a number of Leeds fans over Twitter, Hall replied: “Football is such a short career and can end at anytime with an injury so do whatever you can to earn as much money as possible.”
On Sunday morning, he then further annoyed his critics by tweeting: “Just woke up and seen all these tweets(.) what small minded people.”
It is, however, a message from a Leeds fan that Hall retweeted to his 16,000 plus followers that is likely to have landed him in hot water.
Supporter Carl Smith wrote a message directly to the Leeds winger that read: “Ryan Hall comes on and sets up a goal from a decent cross. Something we’ve been missing all season so wake up McDermott.”
By re-tweeting the message on October 13, Hall could be seen to have endorsed the sentiment.
It is unclear what punishment he could face if Leeds find him guilty of breaking club rules on the use of social network websites.
The 25-year-old, whose contract runs until the summer of 2015, has endured a miserable time at Elland Road since joining last season under then manager Neil Warnock.
He has made just two starts for Leeds and was loaned out to Sheffield United earlier this season.
However, after featuring five times, Hall was dropped from the squad to face Port Vale last Saturday and has now returned to Leeds.
This is not the first time that Twitter has caused problems for the Elland Road club with former manager Simon Grayson banning all his players from using the platform during his time in charge.
Grayson had been angered by news of a serious injury to Davide Somma being revealed by the player and took the step of preventing any United players from posting on the site to prevent a repeat.
Leeds, meanwhile, are keen on bringing Blackstock in on loan to pep up an attack that, even allowing for Sunday’s 4-0 win over Birmingham City, has scored just 14 goals in 12 outings this term.
The striker has previously been linked with a possible move to Brighton & Hove Albion.

Leeds move for Dexter Blackstock

Square Ball 21/10/13
Having been linked with the Nottingham Forest striker last January, Leeds United seem to be on the cusp of bringing Dexter Blackstock in on loan.
McDermott’s search for a new striker has clearly not been abated with yesterday’s thrashing of Birmingham City. The 4-0 victory was capped with a brace from Matt Smith. McDermott’s bench was not particularly strong, however, and a loan move for Blackstock would likely improve the options available to the Leeds manager significantly.
Leon Wobschall from the Yorkshire Post had the following to say:
Leeds have struggled for goals so far this season, and McDermott highlighted the need for a new striker several weeks ago. The international break was a frustrating one for the Leeds manager, with as many as six approaches for various loan signings being rejected by their parent clubs. McDermott will have been buoyed, however, by the improved display from his charges, who benefitted from a switch in formation.

Winger Hall suspended by Leeds United

YEP 21/10/13
by Leon Wobschall
Leeds United are carrying out an investigation into a disciplinary issue after suspending winger Ryan Hall, which is believed to relate to comments he made on his Twitter account at the weekend.
Hall, due back at Leeds after a one-month loan period with Sheffield United, made controversial reference on Saturday evening on his Twitter account to his footballing situation, tweeting: “Look on the bright side if your not getting played take the L out and get payed.
“Football is such a short career and can end at anytime with an injury so do whatever you can to earn as much money as possible.”
Leeds have a code of conduct regarding useage of Twitter and former boss Simon Grayson famously banned his players from using it back in July 2011.
That came after striker Davide Somma posted details about his knee injury on his Twitter account - breaking club’s rules on social networking by revealing that he would be out of action for five or six months.
Earlier that summer, ex-keeper Kasper Schmeichel famously used Twitter to strenuously deny the club’s claims that he requested a move, ahead of his £1m sale to Leicester City.
Hall was eligible for the Blades’ League One clash with visiting Port Vale on Saturday - the final game of his loan spell - but was not involved.
With the Blades having crucial back-to-back games with Vale and at Peterborough this evening, caretaker-boss Chris Morgan, mindful that Hall’s loan would have expired ahead of tonight’s game and wanting some continuity in selection, elected to not include him in his plans.
But Morgan praised the contribution of Hall during his time in South Yorkshire, stating: “His contribution here was good. Often you get players who come on on loan who you are a little bit unsure about. But Ryan mixed in well and mucked in with the rest of the lads and made a positive contribution.”
No further comment will be made at this stage by the club on the Hall issue, a brief Whites statement read yesterday.
Ex-Whites chief Neil Warnock signed Hall from Southend United for £150,000 in December, with the 25-year-old penning a two-and-a-half year deal following an initial loan spell.
But he has failed to establish himself under both Warnock and Brian McDermott, with question marks over his Elland Road future first arising in the summer.
Hall was left out of Leeds’ travelling party for their pre-season tour of Slovenia with his partner due to give birth and didn’t feature during the close-season as he worked on his fitness.
Ahead of the season getting underway, McDermott left the door ajar for the wingman and denied that his United career was over. But following the Twitter controversy, Hall’s days at the club appear numbered.
Hall has featured just four times for Leeds this calendar year, making just one start.
He has made just one brief appearance under McDermott, as a late sub in the win at Watford on the final day of last term.

Leeds United suspend Ryan Hall

By Pascal Lemesre
Leeds United have suspended Ryan Hall from the club because of a "disciplinary issue".
The club's statement relating to the matter was very brief and revealed no further details on the matter, but rumours suggest that it is do with the 25-year-old's social media conduct.
The statement read: "Leeds United can confirm that Ryan Hall has been suspended from the club pending an investigation into a disciplinary issue.
"No further comment will be made at this stage."
The suspension could relate to tweets that Hall sent about earning as much money as you can from football even if you're not getting picked to play.
Hall recently spent a month on loan at struggling League One side Sheffield United.

Boss delighted with team display 21/10/13
Brian McDermott gives his reaction to Sunday's win against Birmingham…
United manager Brian McDermott was full of praise for his side after the Sunday afternoon victory over Birmingham City.
Ross McCormack, Rudy Austin and a Matt Smith double put the Midlands side to the sword with United turning in the best Elland Road performance of the season.
The squad spent the international break working on a new-look system - the experiment was put into practice during a behind closed doors game against Rotherham at Thorp Arch last midweek - and the reward was a four-goal victory and a strong team performance.
“I was really pleased when the break came because we are trying to find a system that suits the players that we have got,” he said.
“We are also trying to find a way of getting some width into the team and we did that on Sunday.
“I thought we were excellent on Sunday. I thought that we started the game on the front foot. It wasn’t just about the system, it was about mentality.
“We need to have that winning mentality. We spoke about the players being brave at Elland Road and when playing for Leeds you have to be brave on the ball.
“I thought we saw two really young midfield players (Alex Mowatt and Luke Murphy) who were really brave on the ball. I thought that Rudy Austin played with freedom, he ran forward and the role he had suited him...Ross McCormack, Matt Smith I could go through the whole team.”
The strike pairing of McCormack and Smith delivered three of the four goals and the boss was delighted for both players.
“I was delighted for Matt Smith and I was also delighted for Ross McCormack,” said the boss. “I think that we have been guilty of playing in front of teams but we didn’t do that on Sunday.
“We could have scored six or seven goals. We had a couple of one-on-ones. On Sunday we got in behind them and that was important. Any good side, and I don’t care who you are, you have to get in behind teams.
"I was delighted for the supporters as well, it was a good day for them.
"The good thing about the game was that we created numerous chances. If you look back at the Millwall game we created one chance but on Sunday we created 10 or 11 really good chances.
“This is what the fans pay their money for, they want to see teams that can play with energy. I’m trying to find a way, the best way for us to move forward and Sunday was a good day for us.”

Skipper shares the plaudits 21/10/13
Rudy Austin gives his verdict on Sunday's win...
United skipper Rudy Austin was quick to share the plaudits after Sunday's win against Birmingham City by paying tribute to the performance of his team-mates.
The Jamaican returned from international duty to score his first Leeds goal of the season as United swept aside Birmingham by four clear goals.
Austin, who played in an advanced role in a new-look midfield, was named man of the match by both Sky Sports and the club’s sponsors, but he was keen to share the plaudits.
“It was a very good display and we are very thankful for the win,” he said.
“We needed the win and the three points, and the boys were hungry for it. We did well.
“It’s an honour to be captain and represent this club, but this was a very good team performance.”

Leeds United: Let’s have more of the same - Mac

YEP 21/10/13
by Phil Hay
Leeds United banished the blues with a barnstorming defeat of Birmingham City, prompting a delighted Brian McDermott to demand more of the same from his rejuvenated team.
United brought a smile back to the face of their manager as a deadly first-half performance destroyed a woeful Birmingham side and set up a 4-0 victory at Elland Road.
Ross McCormack, Rodolph Austin and Matt Smith took advantage of City before half-time and Smith sealed an impressive result with a header on 74 minutes.
The display was an emphatic response to a severe loss of form before the international break, a spell which saw Leeds take six points from a possible 21, and McDermott was pleased to see United reassert themselves after coming under attack during their poor run.
“That’s the way it is in football,” McDermott said. “Especially in 2013.
“You can make a disaster out of anything and unfortunately that’s how it seems to be but I try and live on an even keel and at Leeds United in particular we need to live on an even keel.
“We need to create something very good going forward because we’ve got a great club here.
“This was my 20th game and I’m trying to find the best way to get this group of players to work. We found it today and the manner of the victory was really, really good.
“It sends a message out to our dressing room about how you win and why you win.
“Now that’s got to be done on a consistent basis, not just as a one-off – especially in this league.”
Beleaguered Birmingham paid a heavy price for their ineptitude, with a bad misjudgement from goalkeeper Darren Randolph leading to McCormack’s opening goal on 18 minutes.
City had no answer to United’s ambitious performance, despite a flurry of chances in the second half, and their manager Lee Clark was visibly furious as he faced up to an eighth loss of the league season.
By contrast McDermott had no complaints, saying: “I always enjoy winning and that’s what we’re in football for but the manner of the win was important too.
“We played some terrific stuff.”

Leeds tactical switch: thoughts on Sunday’s win

Square Ball 21/10/13
Amitai Winehouse (@awinehouse1)
Three at the back
The move to playing three at the back is an interesting switch to make. In a league where having to deal with two strikers is more common, the third centre back gives you the spare man that is considered ideal in defensive terms. It becomes interesting, however, when the defence has to square off with a single striker and wingers, as we did on Sunday. Marking becomes more difficult immediately: if the centre backs mark and defend against the three, they no longer have the spare man; if they only mark the single striker, there’s two spare defenders, and, more likely than not, the opposition will be given far too much space in front of the defence.
Our defending on Sunday was very astute, therefore, and shows the extent to which this defence have been taught over the international break. The three picked up Birmingham’s front three. Importantly though, one of the two wing backs dropped back when necessary to provide the spare man, track any runners and avoid an overload. The defence clearly knew what it was doing against Birmingham. Three man defences provide additional stability, granting a platform for the forward players to play.

Austin in the hole
I remember watching Austin play as the most advanced midfielder for Jamaica in September 2012 against the USA, and by all accounts he plays there for the Reggae Boyz in games they are more likely to win. It was 2am when that game kicked off, and admittedly I was half asleep, but what I saw that day impress me.
Since the end of last season it’s been clear that whilst Austin is great at breaking up play, it’s a waste of his forward thinking talents to have him sit in front of the defence. To use a comparative example, Yaya Toure only shone as brightly as he can in his first season at Man City when De Jong was brought into games, allowing the Ivorian to attack. Austin can charge with the ball, something few others in our side can do, and he’s shown his ability to run with the ball at times in the white shirt. It’s simply quite scary for an opposition defence to have Austin bearing down on it.
On Sunday, his range of passing was also incredibly impressive. His goal combined his best two attacking traits. He picked the ball up and drove out of defence, before playing a sublime pass to McCormack out wide. From there, Austin did not stop, supporting McCormack by getting into the area, before ultimately heading the ball into the back of the net.
An experiment worth continuing.

Leeds take wide route and hand out thrashing

Yorkshire Post 21/10/13
by Richard Sutcliffe
at Elland Road
no one at Leeds United will be getting carried away despite the club yesterday claiming their biggest league win in almost two years.
A 4-0 victory over Birmingham City helped lift United into the top half of the Championship table.
It also helped sweep away many of the storm clouds that had been building over Elland Road following a chastening run of five defeats in seven games.
Matt Smith’s double plus strikes by Ross McCormack and Rodolph Austin capped what was comfortably United’s most impressive performance of the season.
However, despite the convincing manner of yesterday’s triumph, McDermott is adamant that the demolition of Birmingham should be merely a stepping stone to where he wants to be.
He said: “I will always say that things are never as bad as you think they are and never as good. That is the way in football and especially in 2013 – you can make a disaster out of anything.
“Unfortunately, that is how it seems to be but I try and live on an even keel if I can.
“At Leeds United, in particular, we need to live on an even keel and create something that is very good going forward. We have got a great club here.
“The reason you are at this level is to win. You have to find a way to win, whatever it involves, and the more games you win, the more you learn how to win.
“We are learning how to win together. This has been a tough six or seven games. We haven’t got the results we wanted and we need to know why that happened.”
Yesterday’s 4-0 triumph – their best result in the league since winning by the same scoreline at Nottingham Forest in November, 2011 – nudged United up to ninth in the table, five points adrift of the top six.
Asked about a possible promotion push, McDermott said: “You can talk about the play-offs but I have got no interest. I am not very good at talking about stuff like that.
“I have done this all my career. There is no point looking forward and what’s gone is gone. We had a good day against Birmingham, but that is all it is.
“The most important thing is that we have skipped up a few places and we have got closer to where we need to get to.”
United’s win meant three Yorkshire sides claimed maximum points over the weekend, Barnsley having beaten Middlesbrough and Sheffield United seeing off Port Vale the previous afternoon.
Otherwise, it was a pretty grim time for White Rose football with only Sheffield Wednesday claiming any kind of reward for their endeavours courtesy of a 1-1 draw at Bolton Wanderers.
McDermott may be keen to keep everyone at Elland Road on an “even keel” following the Birmingham triumph, but there was a refreshing zip about United that suggests a corner may have been turned.
Fielding a 3-5-2 formation for the first time this season, Leeds ripped the visitors apart and could, with steadier finishing, have triumphed by an even wider margin.
Explaining the change of tactics, McDermott said: ”We wanted to get some width. My teams have always had width.
“Anyone who watched my Reading side will know we had width. I had five wingers at Reading. and if you haven’t got wingers then find another way. We did that against Birmingham. The international break came at a really good time for us. After (losing 3-1 at) Derby, we were disappointed with the manner of defeat.
“This was my 20th game and I am just trying to find the best way to get this group of players to work. Against Birmingham, we found it.
“I don’t know (if Leeds will stick with the same formation). I felt it was right for this game. We set that back five up against Rotherham in a recent behind closed doors friendly. No one was able to see it and I felt we looked really good.
“We have been working on that for 10 days. We haven’t just gone into it without working on it.”
On an afternoon when several United players impressed, McDermott was loathe to pick out any individuals. However, he did take time to praise the Leeds board for fighting so hard to retain McCormack during the last transfer window amid several failed bids from Middlesbrough.
“You have to say the board backed me on that one,” said the 52-year-old, who revealed that injury had played no part in both Noel Hunt and Paul Green dropping out of the 18 against Birmingham.
“Middlesbrough offered decent money for Ross but they (the board) didn’t take it. That is good for me and good for the club. Ross wanted to stay here, too. I thought he was excellent and showed real pace and intelligence.
“The partnership between him and Matt (Smith) was very, very good. But I could go through the whole team.
“Luke did excellently in midfield and showed great understanding with Alex Mowatt. Alex has played five games and looks a real good prospect. He has the mentality to play for Leeds United.”
McDermott’s satisfied mood was in stark contrast to that of his managerial counterpart Lee Clark.
The former Huddersfield Town chief said: “I don’t do excuses. I do reality. That is not acceptable to the badge on the front of that jersey.
“We didn’t do anything right in the first half. Our defending was very, very poor. The whole 11. Our play was very, very average. We improved in the second half but it was a very frustrating afternoon. We got what we deserved.”

Leeds United 4 Birmingham City 0: Clinical United are quick to dissect woeful foe

Yorkshire Post 21/10/13
by Richard Sutcliffe
at Elland Road
A FOUR-WEEK period that surely offers Leeds United a golden opportunity to get their season back on track began in encouraging fashion yesterday as Brian 
McDermott’s side rediscovered their scoring touch.
A comprehensive victory over Birmingham City – achieved courtesy of Matt Smith’s double plus predatory strikes by Ross McCormack and Rodolph Austin – brought the smiles back to Elland Road after a chastening period.
Five defeats in the previous seven games had left McDermott pleading in Saturday’s Yorkshire Post for more time to get things right.
However, any negativity that had been building amid the poor run of results that preceded the recent international break was swept away in style by the rampant hosts.
Birmingham were, admittedly, wretched in the first half, but the clinical manner in which McDermott’s side preyed on the visitors’ defensive shortcomings was sufficiently impressive to send the United fans in the 21,301 crowd home in optimistic mood.
Not only did those supporters witness Leeds scoring more than twice in a league game under McDermott for the first time, but the four-goal winning margin was also the most convincing since Nottingham Forest were beaten by the same scoreline at the City Ground almost two years ago.
No wonder, therefore, that the home side left the field at both the interval and full-time to a standing ovation.
The hope now for those appreciative Leeds fans is that their side can take the momentum of such a dominant display into next week’s eagerly-awaited derby against Huddersfield Town, who will be without talisman striker James Vaughan through suspension.
After that, Leeds host bottom club Yeovil Town and visit struggling Charlton Athletic before the Championship takes another breather for the third international break of the campaign.
A decent points return from that trio of fixtures to add to yesterday’s triumph and, suddenly, things would look very different for the Yorkshire club.
As it is, United sit ninth in the table this morning and are five points adrift of the play-off places. Considering how below par Leeds’s performances invariably were between the first and second international breaks of the season, such a lofty standing may seem a rather fortunate one.
What is clear, however, is just how much of a marker McDermott’s side laid down in dispatching Birmingham in such a ruthless manner.
Lining up with a 3-5-2 formation for the first time this season, the hosts were a revelation.
Gone were the often leaden-footed offerings of the previous six weeks to be replaced by a brand of passing football played at a tempo so swift that Lee Clark’s Blues simply could not cope.
Both Sam Byram and Stephen Warnock, operating as wing-backs, played a key role in this dominance by providing the width Leeds have lacked for much of the season, while Luke Murphy, Alex Mowatt and captain Austin controlled the centre of the field admirably.
This dominance allowed United to take an early hold on proceedings and they should have taken the lead long before McCormack opened the scoring on 18 minutes.
First, McCormack could only find the legs of goalkeeper Darren Randolph when played clear by a blunder from the hapless Dan Burn.
Then, Jason Pearce headed over from close range when it seemed easier to hit the target before Birmingham’s third let-off in quick succession came as Randolph again blocked an attempt from McCormack.
Considering how hard goals had been to come by for United this season – just 10 in 11 league outings before yesterday – such profligacy could have proved costly.
Instead, Leeds’s dominance finally paid off when McCormack fired into an empty net following an almighty mix-up between Randolph and Burn.
United doubled their advantage 15 minutes later and this time McCormack turned provider by curling over an exquisite cross for Austin who, after initially spraying the ball out wide to the Scot on the left, raced 40 yards before heading past Randolph.
Birmingham, whose only effort of note in the first half had come when Chris Burke fired wide following a rare mistake by Mowatt, were by now displaying all the signs of a team who knew the afternoon was going to end badly.
So, when Leeds added a third on the stroke of half-time there was little surprise that McCormack was again involved.
The ever-threatening Scot’s first-time shot was blocked by Randolph only for Smith to guide in the rebound.
Damage limitation was then the order of the day for Lee Clark, who before yesterday had never lost at Elland Road in three visits as a manager.
He introduced Andrew Shinnie and Nikola Zigic, so often the scourge of Leeds in the past, from the bench during the interval in the hope that the Blues could regain some semblance of pride.
They did, even if a much improved second-half display was not enough to bring what would have been a deserved goal.
David Murphy went closest to denying Leeds only their third clean sheet of the season with a curled free-kick that struck a post, and Chris Burke was left similarly frustrated when his looping effort was cleared off the line by Tom Lees.
Paddy Kenny also had to save smartly from Burke and Zigic, while at the other end the chances continued to flow as Austin saw his shot saved smartly by Randolph.
The Birmingham goalkeeper also kept out Smith with a smart stop, but the tall striker would not be denied.
His bullet header brought his second goal of the game to cap a fine afternoon for both himself and United.

Leeds United 4 Birmingham City 0: Smith and Austin hail fine team display

YEP 21/10/13
by Phil Hay
Rodolph Austin and Matt Smith acknowledged a fine team performance after their goals against Birmingham City helped to lift a veil of negativity from Elland Road.
A brilliant header from Austin and two clinical finishes from Smith rounded off a 4-0 win over Birmingham City as an under-pressure Leeds United side returned to form in compelling style yesterday.
United shook off criticism stemming from a run of five league defeats from seven previous matches to dismantle Birmingham with their biggest Championship victory since November 2011 and climb up to ninth in the table.
Manager Brian McDermott made key changes to his side by adopting a 3-5-2 formation and giving Smith a full league debut up front as he tried again to resolve the shortage of width and goals which contributed to his side’s mediocre results.
Austin followed up Ross McCormack’s early finish with the decisive touch at the end of a fine attacking move, and Smith struck late in either half to seal a heavy win at Elland Road.
Austin said: “It was a great display by the team and we’re very thankful for the win.
“We needed it badly and you could see that the boys were hungry for it.”
McDermott refused to talk about United’s chances of competing for promotion this season but Smith said: “That puts us up to ninth and it’s important to stay in or around the play-offs.
“It’s important that we give ourselves a chance and hopefully this can kick-start a run for us.
“When you play for a club like Leeds United, expectation is always immense but we need to focus on our next game now. That’s the way the manager likes to view it.
“I’m delighted with my performance but also with the way the team played. We needed the points.”
McDermott’s system was a notable break from other formations used by him and he went further in his overhaul by recalling Scott Wootton, Luke Murphy and Sam Byram and leaving Paul Green and Noel Hunt out of his squad completely.
Byram and Stephen Warnock were used as wing-backs to impressive effect and McDermott said: “We wanted to get some width. “My teams have always had width and anyone who watched my Reading side will know that.
“I don’t know if I’ll stick with (the formation) but I felt it was right today.
“We set that back-five up against Rotherham in a behind-closed-doors friendly on Tuesday and we looked really good. We’d been working on that for 10 days, we haven’t just gone into it.”
McDermott held a lengthy meeting with his players before training on Friday morning to discuss the failures of the past month and underline the importance of a period in which Leeds play Huddersfield Town, Yeovil Town and Charlton Athletic.
“We spoke about mentality and needing a winning mentality,” McDermott said.
“You can’t go into games just to play the game. The reason you’re at this level is to win and the more games you win, the more you learn how to win.
“The last six or seven games were tough because we didn’t get the results we wanted and we need to know why that happened. It’s a sin if you don’t know why. Today we know why we won. You can all talk about the play-offs but I’ve got no interest in doing that. I’ve done this all my career. There’s no point looking forward, and what’s gone is gone.
“We’ve had a good day but that’s all it is. There were 105 points to play for and now there’s 102.”

Leeds 4 Birmingham 0: Blistering first-half sees McDermott's men smash sorry Blues

Mail 20/10/13
By John Edwards
Leeds manager Brian McDermott admitted he may finally have hit on a winning formula after his side raced to their biggest league win in two years at Elland Road on Sunday.
McDermott used Sam Byram and Stephen Warnock as wing backs in a five-man midfield which completely outplayed Birmingham.
‘It has been a case of trying to find the right way of getting the best out of these players and I think we may have found it,’ said McDermott. ‘I wanted some width, because my teams always have that. If you haven’t got wingers, you need to come up with another way and that’s what we did.’
In contrast, Birmingham manager Lee Clark blasted his players after a first-half defensive shambles cost his side three goals. Clark withdrew centre back Dan Burn and striker Lee Novak at half-time.
But it could not prevent Matt Smith putting the gloss on an emphatic Leeds performance with a 74th-minute header.
‘I don’t do excuses, I do reality, and the fact is that wasn’t good enough,’ said Clark. ‘I never tell anyone what is said in the dressing room, but that was unacceptable to the badge on the front of the jersey.
‘We didn’t do anything right in the first half. Our defending was very poor, our passing very average and our attacking play very average. It was an extremely frustrating afternoon, and we got what we deserved.
‘Dan has been brilliant for us, but he is a young boy of 19, just one year older than my son.
That’s what we are dealing with. He had an indifferent afternoon, like any young player is liable to have.’
As well as saluting his players McDermott praised the club’s owners, GFH Capital, for turning down a £2million offer from Middlesbrough for Ross McCormack shortly before the transfer window shut.
McCormack signed a new four-year deal, instead, and the long-term benefits of resisting Middlesbrough’s overtures were plain to see as he orchestrated the first-half destruction of hapless Birmingham.
He fired into an empty net after keeper Darren Randolph dashed from his line to clear from Smith in the 18th minute, and he provided the left-wing cross for skipper Rodolph Austin to head home from close range in the 33rd minute.
Finally, on the stroke of half-time, Birmingham were out of contention after Randolph could only block McCormack’s shot into the path of Smith for a routine finish.
Birmingham perked up in the second half, doubtless due to a stream of Geordie invective from an incandescent Clark. They could count themselves unlucky in the 63rd minute when Chris Burke’s chip floated over Paddy Kenny and was dropping into the far corner until Tom Lees appeared from nowhere to head off the line.
David Murphy hit the post with a 68th-minute free-kick, and Burke was denied by a goal-line clearance, this time from Byram, as Birmingham sought to claw back some self-esteem.
As Clark conceded, though, the damage had already been done. It got worse on 74 minutes as Smith headed home an Austin cross, just moments after being thwarted by a Randolph wonder save.
‘We were offered decent money for McCormack, but the board backed me on that,’ said McDermott. ‘Ross wanted to stay too, and was excellent today.
‘He showed real pace and intelligence and formed a really good partnership with Matt Smith, which can only be positive.
With Byram and Warnock tearing down the flanks, Leeds could easily have been even more in credit.
As former Leeds great Mick Jones observed as he filed past the press box at the final whistle: ‘Summat to write about, eh, lads.’
You said it, Mick.

Leeds United 4 Birmingham City 0 : A Star is Born in the Space of Seconds

Fear and Loathing in LS11 20/10/13
Ken DeMange
In the realms of physics, the Doppler Effect explains the change in frequency of a wave for an observer, relative to its position; most commonly the phenomenon is cited in regard to sound waves, illustrating why the received pitch from an approaching siren is higher than the emitted frequency during the approach of the vehicle, identical at the moment of passing and lower as it moves away.
This universal law is also one that is typically applicable to the mood on Leeds United match days; come the morning, the mood is good, anticipation is high, a communal sense of fever pitch builds in the pubs of the surrounding hinterlands, then as the ref’s whistle signals kick-off, a sense of perspective, a look at the relative strengths of the team and a degree realism corrects expectations; then as the game passes, so the vibe flattens, slowly dissipating until it is no longer detectable…
But not today, for Leeds United decided to cast aside the ‘The Big Book of Dubious Physics Analogies’ and subverted every fundamental truth within. Today the pre-match buzz was more of a pre-match “meh”, the intrusion of football on the weekend almost worthy of resentment following a blissful two week recess from misery and self-doubt, add the opposition, the early kick-off and the Sky TV factor and the indifference that infiltrated The Old Peacock’s beer garden was understandable.
All things considered, it was somewhat of a surprise that over 21,000 chose to pass through the turnstiles – for once it was a sound judgement call by those who did. Leeds strode out purposefully, sporting a new formation designed to address defensive frailties and shortcomings in wide areas…and it worked!
Opportunities, so often at a premium were conspicuous from the start; McCormack disappointingly spurned a one-on-one, Pearce characteristically cleared the bar with a header, but they continued to come. McCormack again threatened from a sweeping Austin pass but again found the keeper…a spectacle was unfolding in front of our eyes.
With 18 minutes on the clock a lamentable Blues backline joined the party. A lofted ball forward for Smith caused mass panic, Darren Randolph rushed from his line to take control of the situation, but not the ball, Austin pounced and laid it off to McCormack who leisurely swept the ball home from 20 yards. Elation and relief amongst the Leeds ranks as the scorer chose to mark the occasion with a salute; desolation and recriminations amongst the Birmingham ranks as Randolph brilliantly chose jumping up and down on the spot as way of expressing himself.
Euphoria cautiously punctured pockets of support in the Kop, even the spine chilling sight of Danny Pugh warming up following an awkward Warnock stretch couldn’t dampen the mood. Mercifully Warnock recovered and went on to produce one of his strongest performances in a Leeds shirt on a day when a few others could claim the same. Most imperious of all was Austin. In the 33rd he swept a sublime crossfield pass to the feet of McCormack who in return delivered the ball back into his path as Austin swallowed up the ground between the Leeds 18 yard box and the Birmingham 6 yard one – 2-0! A superb goal.
Birmingham looked shellshocked, the defence playing like strangers; it was like watching the Leeds backline at Pride Park, only today the goalkeeper had come to the party too. As half-time approached so did another catastrophe: three centre backs, two strikers, one goal…a free header for Smith and a free pop at goal for McCormack and then the ball came back to an unmarked Smith who sidefooted home. It almost felt cruel taking advantage of such a ramshackle showing.
Lee Clark looked on forlornly; the shadows of a 3-0 deficit even longer than those cast by his rapidly expanding waistline; the mumbling Geordie may have long given up claims of being unbeaten in the football arena, but clearly no ‘all you can eat buffet’ has yet to claim his scalp. He was already halfway to the dressing room as the home side marched off at half-time to ringing acclaim.
So to the Birmingham response: Nikola Zigic – who else? The man who always seems to treat Leeds with the same regard that locals have for pigs in Deliverance…a hint of apprehension around Elland Road was suddenly evident.
The visitors, Zigic and all, improved significantly and Paddy Kenny and Tom Lees both came to the rescue during their best spell, but Leeds too continued to threaten; Mowatt played both Austin and Smith through on goal, the former denied by the keeper, the latter by a marginal offside decision.
Shortly afterwards, Smith looked to the heavens/skies* (*delete as appropriate, according to religious beliefs) again as Randolph confoundingly clawed away a close range header following another fantastic McCormack delivery. If he questioned whether his luck was out for the day he was to get his answer inside minutes. Mowatt again broke forward, found Austin and gestured for a return pass, what happened next was so sublime that it possessed the power to make grown men cry…
The debates on just how good Alex Mowatt is has rumbled on ever since his debut, a precious talking point to take solace in while the team has faltered. Better than Byram? Delph? In the space of a few seconds, Mowatt did enough to suggest he’s not only potentially better than both of those…but I’d throw Lennon and Milner into the equation too; not since the days of Jonathan Woodgate has a young player slipped into the side and played with such astonishing assurance; while today (for once) he wasn’t the outstanding player on the pitch, he still provided the outstanding moment. Now back to that goal…
So Austin sees Mowatt call for the return pass and plays the ball back towards him, Mowatt then as he gets ready to receive the ball, casts the shortest of glances into the box, it’s barely a blink, yet enough for him to develop the clearest of pictures of what’s happening and where Matt Smith is, his eyes then return to the ball which he sweeps in first time in one glorious movement, straight into the path of Smith who simply couldn’t miss.
It was the sort of moment of which only the very best players are capable, such speed of thought, such an intuitive understanding of what is going on around him and the ability to deliver that final ball. While Byram, Delph, Lennon and Milner are all special talents, even at this stage, Mowatt has the look of player who can exist on an even higher plain, that to which the vast majority of pros can only ever aspire. His exchanges too with Byram, all speed of thought and fleetness of foot provided joyful vignettes to intersperse the rough and tumble around them. You suspect the only dangers to Mowatt’s progress as things stand are injuries and getting lost in his own hype. In terms of the latter, on the evidence of today there seems little to worry about; when the Kop rose to acclaim him as he took a late corner, he shied away, choosing to keep his head down and concentrate on the game. Similarly, come the full-time whistle, he was the first to make his way to the tunnel, happy to applaud the crowd but shying away from milking the adulation.
Four goals, a clean sheet and the first clear suggestions that Elland Road is nurturing its biggest talent since the O’Leary era. Turned out better than expected, eh?