Thursday, January 31, 2013

Whites ambition appealed to Warnock INTERVIEW

Yorkshire Evening Post 31/1/13
New signing Stephen Warnock says the ambition of Leeds United and the feeling of being wanted was what drew him to the Whites.
The ex-Aston Villa defender has signed a two-and-a-half year deal with the club after moving up from the Midlands.
He told the club website: “I wasn’t needed at Villa, we’d had a couple of calls of interest and Villa said I was free to speak to clubs.
“Leeds offered me a contract and at first it was a shorter term contract, but I was on my way to West Ham earlier in the week and Leeds came back in and really made me feel wanted.
“There were a couple of clubs interested, but when you see the size of Leeds and the magnitude of the club there’s only one choice, and once I’d spoken to the manager I knew I wanted to come.
“Obviously I’ve not been playing at Villa, and when you have a manager who wants you to play and has confidence in you it’s nice to hear.”
Warnock is the second signing of transfer deadline day, joining striker Steve Morison.
“I haven’t come here to be a Championship player and I’m sure Steve Morison is the same,” said Warnock. “I played against him last year, he’s a very powerful player and I’m sure he’s the sort Leeds fans will like to see.
“When you look at the position at the moment, a couple of wins throws you into the promotion chase. “The new signings will hopefully lift the squad a little bit because that usually happens. Leeds is a huge club and we want to take it back to the Premier League.
“It’s a strong squad here. You look back at the QPR and Sheffield United teams the manager assembled. They were tough teams who knew how to win games, and they were hard to play against.”
Warnock has been allocated squad number 15 and could come straight into the reckoning for Saturday’s Elland Road clash with league leaders Cardiff City.
“I’m fit and ready to go,” he added. “It’ll be up to the manager whether he wants to play me or wait, but I’m fit and ready.”

Habibou has the chance to impress

leedsunited.com 31/1/13
African international joins up...
The club have completed the signing of African striker Mouhamadou Habib Habibou on loan until the end of the season, subject to international clearance being received.
The Central African Republic international will join from Belgian side SV Zulte Waregem, where he has scored 20 goals in 57 league appearances, initially on loan with a view to a permanent deal in the summer.
United boss Neil Warnock said: "He's a player we've had across for a few days and we liked what we saw.
"We had the opportunity to take him on loan and that gives us a chance to have a longer look at him.
"We think he could be an exciting prospect."
Habibou said: "I'm very happy to be here. I know about the background of the club and the expectations around the club, and I'm happy to sign and start playing."
The 25-year-old started his career in France with Paris St Germain, but after failing to breakthrough there he moved to Belgium and joined R Charleroi S.C. He has also had loan spells with AFC Tubize and Steaua Bucuresti.

Villa defender joins the club

leedsunited.com 31/1/13
Warnock captures Warnock...
Stephen Warnock The club have completed the signing of Stephen Warnock from Aston Villa.
The 31-year-old joins us on a permanent basis from the Premier League club after the terms of the deal were finalised on Thursday evening.
The experienced defender completed his medical at Thorp Arch and will meet his new team-mates for the first time on Friday.
United boss Neil Warnock said: "I'm absolutely delighted again. Stephen has the experience I think we need in that position.
"He is a former international who, for whatever reason, has been allowed to leave Aston Villa.
"He's a player I've tried to sign a few times before and I'm pleased he turned down West Ham to come here."
Stephen arrives at the club having made over 200 Premier League appearances during spells with Liverpool Blackburn, and Aston Villa.
Born in Ormskirk, Stephen started his career at Liverpool and cost Blackburn £1.5m in January 2007. He joined Villa two years later and made 104 appearances for the club. This term he spent almost three months on loan at Bolton, where he made 15 appearances.

Steve sets sights on a Premier return

leedsunited.com 31/1/13
New signing aiming high...
New signing Steve Morison is firmly focused on making a swift return to the Premier League - in the colours of Leeds United.
The 29-year-old signed a three-and-a-half year contract on Thursday morning after an exchange deal was agreed with Norwich City that saw Luciano Becchio heading to Carrow Road.
And the Welsh international admits he jumped at the chance to move north when he learnt of the proposed deal.
"I got a phone call to say Norwich had agreed a swap for me and Luciano Becchio, and it didn't take long to make my mind up," said Steve. "I'm pretty happy.
"There were lots of rumours going around, but I've been out injured and was concentrating on getting fit. This has all happened quickly in the end, but when Leeds come in for you and you see the place it's a no-brainer.
"I've played at Leeds a few times. I even managed to score on one of those occasions and it's a fantastic place to be with all the history. When I was at Millwall games against Leeds were always big, and it'll be nice to play in front of that crowd every week."
Steve, who netted nine Premier League goals last term, says he wouldn't have made the step down to the Championship just for anyone, having established himself at the highest level last season.
"I don't think Leeds are a million miles away from the Premiership, and the club is geared up for the Premier League," he said. "The goal is to get to the Premier League and I wouldn't have gone to a club that I didn't think could fulfil for that.
"Of course there's pressure on, and the gaffer wants to win promotion, but I think I'm very grounded, and I want to be back playing in the Premier League.
"I've come here to play football and score goals. Fingers crossed I can replicate my form from last season. It's a tough league and there's a lot of tough defenders.
"The fans are going to want to see goals and that's what I'm hoping to give them. Hopefully I can use my unpredictability to my advantage.
"I've spent a lot of time watching football this year and hopefully I can take my frustration out on the pitch soon."
A thigh injury will rule Steve out of Saturday's game against Cardiff, but he is hoping his debut will only be a further week away. "This weekend might be a bit soon," he added. "I haven't done much over the last month. Hopefully the week after when we've got four games in 10 days I should be back."

Keeper joins Stanley on loan

leedsunited.com 31/1/13
Rachubka links up with League Two club...
Goalkeeper Paul Rachubka has joined Accrington Stanley on loan until the end of the season.
The 31-year-old has already made six appearances for Accrington this season while on loan with the League Two club.
Paul follows Danny Pugh, Paul Connolly, and Paddy Kisnorbo in moving out on long-term loan deals during the transfer window.
The former Blackpool goalkeeper has made just seven appearances since joining the club 18 months ago, and hasn't figured in the senior side since November 2011.

Morison signs up for United

leedsunited.com 31/1/13
Boss delighted with striker deal...
The club are delighted to announce the signing of Norwich city striker Steve Morison.
The 29-year-old joins us in an exchange deal for Luciano Becchio with a further undisclosed sum to be paid by Norwich.
Steve completed the formalities of his move on Thursday morning and has signed on a three-and-a-half year contract.
The Welsh international cost Norwich £2.8m from Millwall in June 2011 and he has netted 12 goals for the club, including 10 in the Premier League.
Steve, who has made 27 appearances this season, scored 40 goals in 95 appearances for Millwall before his move to Carrow Road.
United manager Neil Warnock said: "I'm absolutely delighted that we've been able to bring Steve in.
"Even before Luciano put in his transfer request we had enquired about Steve - he was at the top of my list in January to bring in - and I can't tell you how delighted I am.
"Steve meets all the requirements of the striker we've been looking to bring in. For me, he is a player who has everything. He can score goals from anywhere - whether it's 25 yards or a tap-in - he has pace, and he has all the attributes you want."
Becchio heads the opposite way, having spent four-and-a-half seasons with the club. Since joining in the summer of 2008, he has made 221appearances, scoring 86 goals.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Whites closing in on Warnock UPDATED

Yorkshire Evening Post 30/1/13
By Phil Hay
Stephen Warnock was edging towards a transfer to Leeds United last night as the Elland Road club geared up for a busy finish to the January window.
A deal to bring Warnock in from Aston Villa took a big step forward as Leeds’ offer of an 18-month contract scuppered a bid by West Ham United to sign the 31-year-old left-back.
West Ham believed they had secured Warnock’s services after approaching him over the weekend but manager Sam Allardyce revealed that a “more long-term” proposal from a side in the Championship had tempted the defender to drop down a division.
Leeds and Villa have spent the past 24 hours attempting to agree the terms of Warnock’s departure but Villa have made no secret of their desire to remove his £40,000-a-week salary from their wage bill.
Warnock’s deal in Birmingham expires at the end of June and he is expected to leave on a free transfer.
The former Liverpool player has been twice capped by England but his career faltered after a move to Villa in 2009 and he completed the first half of this season on loan at Bolton Wanderers.
Leeds were initially interested in signing him on a temporary basis but the club tabled a more substantial offer after seeing West Ham and Wolverhampton Wanderers join the bidding.
West Ham are believed to have proposed signing Warnock for the remainder of this season.
Allardyce said: “(A transfer) was a goer but another club in the Championship have made him a more long-term offer and he’s decided to take it.”
Leeds have used Aidan White at left-back for the past two games but the loss of Adam Drury to injury and Lee Peltier’s selection in the centre of defence reduced their options at left-back.
A deal with Warnock would give Leeds boss Neil Warnock his first signing since his acquisition of midfielder Ross Barkley on loan from Everton on January 11 and United are anticipating a hectic conclusion to the transfer window.
The Elland Road side are in the market for a striker and a winger and their dealings in the last two days of the month are still likely to be dictated in part by the fate of Luciano Becchio, pictured right.
United are still to agree a deal to sell their 19-goal forward, despite multiple bids from abroad and firm expressions of interest from unnamed English clubs.
Becchio is understood to favour a move to Turkey and Leeds will allow him to leave if another club meets their valuation, rumoured to be around £3million.
The 29-year-old submitted a transfer request last week and was left out of United’s thrilling FA Cup victory over Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

Swap deal for Becchio and Norwich City’s Morison on cards?

Yorkshire Evening Post 30/1/13
Sources in Leeds were indicating last night that a swap deal involving Norwich City’s Steve Morison and Luciano Becchio could become a possibility before tomorrow’s 11pm deadline.
The Premier League club are involved in a long-running fight to sign Gary Hooper from Celtic but have so far failed to persuade the Scottish champions to sell him.
Norwich – a destination for several ex-Leeds players in recent seasons – are thought to be one of the English sides monitoring Becchio.
The 29-year-old submitted a transfer request last week and was left out of United’s thrilling FA Cup victory over Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
Leeds are keen on Norwich City’s Steve Morison but Norwich seem unlikely to weaken their squad until their own hunt for a new forward pays off.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Whites close to clinching Warnock deal

Yorkshire Evening Post 29/1/13
By Phil Hay
Leeds United are in advanced talks over the proposed signing of left-back Stephen Warnock from Aston Villa.
United and Villa appear close to reaching a deal which will allow Warnock to take up an 18-month contract at Elland Road.
An agreement has not yet been finalised but Villa are expected to sanction a free transfer in return for a switch which removes Warnock’s £40,000-a-week salary from their wage bill.
Wolverhampton Wanderers and West Ham United have also attempted to sign the defender but West Ham manager Sam Allardyce appeared to admit defeat today.
Allardyce, who is thought to have offered Warnock a six-month deal, said: “[A transfer] was a goer yesterday but another club in the Championship have made him a more long-term offer and he’s decided to take it.”

Nunez departs the club

leedsunited.com 29/1/13
Honduran free to move on...
Ramon Nunez has parted company with Leeds United.
The club have terminated the Honduran's contract by mutual consent and he is now free to find an alternative club.
The 27-year-old joined the club in the summer of 2010 and made a total of 25 appearances.
Ramon scored five goals for Leeds United, his last coming at Doncaster in August 2011.
The player, who also had a loan spell at Scunthorpe in 2011, was placed on the transfer list last summer by manager Neil Warnock.
Ramon, who wasn't given a squad number, remained after the transfer window closed and suffered an injury in a Development Squad clash with Wigan at Elland Road in September.

McCormack ready and willing to take Becchio’s mantle of leading Leeds line

Yorkshire Post 29/1/13
By Richard Sutcliffe
ROSS McCORMACK hopes netting the goal that fired Leeds United into the FA Cup fifth round will cement his place at the head of the Yorkshire club’s attack.
The Scottish international showed tremendous poise and ability to net United’s second in Sunday’s 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur.
In the process, McCormack made it three goals in as many games and after spending most of the season playing either out wide or in midfield, he hopes that mini-burst of scoring form will persuade Neil Warnock to play him up front every week.
The 26-year-old said: “This season has been frustrating, for one reason or another. I have said from day one when I came to this club that I am a striker and that is where I want to play.
“Hopefully, (by scoring against Spurs) I have maybe given the gaffer some food for thought that I can play that role.” Luciano Becchio’s submitting of a transfer request last week paved the way for McCormack to move up front alongside El-Hadji Diouf in Sunday’s Cup tie.
McCormack, who now has five goals to his name this season after netting 19 as a striker in 
2011-12, added: “When Luciano was playing well and scoring, it was hard to get a game up top.
“Now, obviously, with what has happened and the circumstances, maybe I will get a chance and a half decent run up there.
“If I played in that position I would be expected to score goals. I think when Luciano is in the team, I change my game completely for the good of him to create a lot more than I would like to because, like I have said, I am a striker. I am here to score goals and if I play up front, that is going to be my priority.”
Becchio’s future remains unclear with the transfer deadline looming large amid continued interest from China and Turkey.
Leeds have rejected several bids for the striker already, but the 29-year-old remains keen to secure a move that would see his £13,000-per-week Elland Road wages rise significantly.
Along with the Becchio saga, manager Warnock is focusing on the need to bring in “two or three new faces” ahead of the window closing at 11pm on Thursday.
With Leeds due to host runaway leaders – and McCormack’s former club – Cardiff City this weekend, the need to strengthen is obvious as Warnock’s men try to bridge a six-point gap on the play-off places.
On the chances of United gate-crashing the top six, McCormack said: “We’re not daft. We know we are two or three quality players short. But if we can get them, you never know.
“What’s the gap? Six points? That is nothing in this league.
“The fans have every right to expect more consistency from us. They come here and pay their money, they get behind the team and the lads want to give them the success they deserve.
“We just hope they keep turning out in their numbers and if we do get some additions into the squad, then hopefully that will kick us on.
“We have to take the Cup win into the league. When a Premier League team comes to Elland Road, the attendance goes up and the atmosphere is electric.
“It is easier to get yourself up for the game. The fans will say we should be able to get up for all the games – and I do (agree).
“But it just means when you come here on a Saturday against a side in the Championship, the fans are expecting you to entertain them and get them off their seats. When the fans turn up against Tottenham, Everton, Southampton, they are on the ball.”
Luke Varney, United’s other goalscorer on Sunday, is also hoping to use the Spurs tie as a springboard for a happier few months after coming in for some unwarranted stick from supporters since his summer move from Portsmouth.
McCormack added: “He has (had some stick) because of a lack of goals, but since the gaffer has come in I have played most of my time wide left so know it is difficult to get goals from there. Given a good run of games, he will get the fans’ backing.”
Leeds were last night still waiting to hear if their fifth round tie at Manchester City will be shown live on television.
Meanwhile, former Player of the Year Max Gradel has ruled out a possible return to Elland Road.
The St Etienne wideman said: “I love Leeds and hope one day to go back there. But right now I am in the top league (in France) and want to move forward and play Champions League football.”

Becchio nears Elland Road exit after Warnock moves closer to deal for striker Habibou

Mail 28/1/13
By John Edwards
Luciano Becchio’s Elland Road exit has moved a step nearer after it emerged that Leeds are closing in on giant striker Habib Habibou to replace him.
Habibou was a target for QPR earlier this month but looks to be bound for Elland Road, amid claims that Leeds have had a bid accepted by his club Zulte Waregem.
The move should hasten Becchio’s departure, after Leeds manager Neil Warnock insisted his main striker’s transfer request would only be granted on the condition a replacement was found.
Warnock appears to have settled on 6ft 4in marksman Habibou, born in Bria in the Central African Republic but a French passport holder.
The 25-year old has scored 20 goals in 57 appearances for his Belgian League club, including six in 13 this season, and has a reputation for being a fearsome physical presence as an attacking spearhead.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Gradel rules out Leeds return

Former Leeds United player Max Gradel has ruled out a return to Leeds at this moment in his career.
Gradel, who enjoyed two seasons at Elland Road, has been linked with a move back to Leeds recently but the winger who currently plays in the French top flight with St Etienne, says he cannot return to Leeds whilst the are in the championship but he hasn`t ruled out a return one day.
Speaking on Radio Leeds, Gradel said, "I saw some news saying that I was coming back. I know they tried to speak to my agent about coming back but as much as I love and respect Leeds and the fans, who have been fantastic. Football wise, I have to try to improve and move on.
"I love Leeds and I hope one day I will come back but right now, I am in the top league and I want to move forward and play Champions League football.
"Leeds are in the Championship right now and footballing wise, I can`t go back to Leeds, but you never know, things move quickly and I might be back at Leeds one day."
Gradel spent just under two years at Elland Road, helping the side win promotion from League One and then finish seventh in their first season in the championship.
The 25-year-old was the Fans and Players Player of the Year in 2011, in a season where he scored 18 goals before departing Leeds to join St Etienne, where he is a regular in the side.
Gradel is currently on African Cup of Nations duty with Ivory Coast and he has played in both of their group wins so far.

Transfer news: Leeds are lining up a move for Reading defender Kaspars Gorkss

Sky 28/1/13
By Pete O'Rourke
Sky Sports understands Leeds are lining up a move for Reading defender Kaspars Gorkss.
Gorkss has found himself out of favour at Reading in recent weeks and has not featured for Brian McDermott's men since the Premier League defeat to Arsenal in December.
The 31-year-old is thought to be interested in a move away from Reading in search of regular first-team football.
The news has alerted a number of clubs to Gorkss' possible availability before the close of the transfer window.
Leeds are thought to be in the market for a new defender after seeing Alan Tate return to Swansea following a loan spell at Elland Road.
Leeds boss Neil Warnock is a big fan of Gorkss having worked with him during his time in charge of Queens Park Rangers and he is thought to be considering a move to be reunited with the Latvian stopper.

Becchio set for switch to Turkey LATEST

Yorkshire Evening Post 28/1/13
By Phil Hay
Luciano Becchio looks set to depart for Turkey before the end of the transfer window after Leeds United left him out of their brilliant FA Cup win over Tottenham Hotspur.
The club’s leading scorer did not attend Elland Road for the fourth-round tie and he is understood to be pressing Leeds to bow to repeated approaches from the Turkish Premier League.
United have rejected three bids from an unnamed club in Turkey while also turning down an offer from a side in China but Becchio’s departure in the final days of January seems inevitable after his omission from the clash with Spurs.
The 29-year-old forward submitted a transfer request last week after turning down a new three-and-a-half year contract and learning of foreign interest in him.
Leeds offered to improve the wage of their highest earner but claimed Becchio was asking for a salary “beyond a level we could support”.
His agent, Horacio Rossi, responded to that claim over the weekend by saying the improvement in Becchio’s current wage – believed to be worth around £15,000 a week – was “insufficient” and accused Leeds of a lack of effort in negotiations.
United do not plan to increase their offer to him and Becchio is believed to favour the option of an immediate move to Turkey with his career at Elland Road seemingly at an end.
Manager Neil Warnock said: “We’ve had a few offers from abroad and one or two enquiries from England without an offer so I’d imagine that the next three or four days will be busy.
“We’ve not agreed a fee with anyone yet. I saw what his agent put out and it was a bit naughty saying that we’ve not made enough effort. That’s rubbish.
“He’s already our top earner and we’ve offered him a three-and-a-half year deal on more money so let’s put that to bed. We’ve offered him a cracking contract.
“If we don’t sign a replacement then he can’t go anywhere whether he likes it or not. But if we do then he’s quite welcome to go because you only want players who want to be here.”
Warnock was due to meet with club chief executive Shaun Harvey and director Salem Patel – an employee of Leeds owner GFH Capital – today to discuss Becchio’s situation and their own transfer targets with the January deadline set for 11pm on Thursday.
Asked if he now expected Becchio to leave, Warnock said: “I don’t honestly know. “I don’t think I’ll know until Thursday night. The only thing I’d say is that if he’s going to Turkey or China or wherever, that will take a little more organising.
“Salem’s here all week and we’re getting together today. I still want two or three players in.”
The likelihood of Becchio’s sale has increased the urgency for new arrivals at Elland Road, and Warnock was expected to resume his attempt to sign Aston Villa left-back Stephen Warnock on loan today.
But the mood around Leeds was lifted by a stunning win over Spurs who fell to goals from Luke Varney and Ross McCormack.
Varney’s early strike was the catalyst for the dramatic victory and proved a timely response to the stream of criticism aimed at him since his move from Portsmouth in July last year.
The winger stepped in to replace Becchio in United’s starting line-up and he took his first chance with a calm finish after an error by Tottenham full-back Kyle Naughton.
Warnock said: “He does get a little bit of stick from the crowd and to play him instead of Becchio was a difficult one. But when he scores like that, it helps a manager in his decisions.”
He added: “We had a few problems a few weeks ago with a bit of dissent around the place but that was a good match to report on.
“We’ve had negative press on some of our results yet we’ve won six on the trot at home.
“But in Leeds the glass is always half empty. It’s never half full. That might be a Yorkshire trait.”

Leeds manager Neil Warnock to discuss January transfers

Independent 28/1/13
Manager wants reinforcements following win over Spurs
Mark Walker
Leeds manager Neil Warnock will sit down with representatives of the club's new owners this week to finalise plans to strengthen his squad after his side pulled off another FA Cup upset by beating Tottenham 2-1.
Warnock is under increasing pressure to give Leeds' npower Championship play-off chances a boost with the expected departure of leading goalscorer Luciano Becchio before Thursday night's transfer deadline set to leave him short of strikers and upset fans.
Becchio, whose agent claims he does not want to leave, played no part against Spurs but was hardly missed as goals from Luke Varney and Ross McCormack early in either half secured them a fifth-round tie at Manchester City.
Tottenham, without the injured Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor, on African Nations Cup duty with Togo, lacked firepower at Elland Road and although Clint Dempsey pulled a goal back in the 58th minute, Warnock's side deserved their victory.
"We've had a few offers from abroad and we've had one or two enquiries from England without an offer," Warnock said of 19-goal Becchio.
"I would imagine over the next two or three days there will be a lot - not just at our club, but at most clubs, of players looking to see what they can get.
"I'm no different. I'd like two or three new faces in before Thursday. Whether you get them or not, it's scandalous really the transfer window, I still don't know why we have it.
"I suppose it's good for you guys and helps sell papers."
On Becchio Warnock added: "I saw something his men put out, a little bit naughty, saying we and the board hadn't made enough effort, that's rubbish that.
"He's already our top earner and we've offered him a good three-and-a-half year deal on more money than that, so let's put that to bed.
"We offered him a cracking contract and if we can't find a replacement, he can't go anywhere whether he likes it or not.
"If we do, he's welcome to go because you only want players who want to be here."
Asked whether any Premier League clubs had enquired about the Argentinian, Warnock said: "Possibly.
"If he's going to Turkey or China or where ever it is, that would take a little bit more organising, time-wise, but (Leeds director) Saleem (Patel)'s here all week and (chief executive) Shaun and we're going to get together (on Monday) and all three days and see what develops because I'd still like to get two or three in."
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas said Leeds deserved credit for the competitive nature of their performance and admitted that after conceding an early goal his side were always chasing the game.
He said: "It was difficult as we were always chasing the game and this is a difficult place to play, and we couldn't play our football as well as we could have. "We wanted to go through in the competition, but we were knocked out by a Leeds team who were extremely competitive, and you have to give credit to them."
Villas-Boas confirmed absent striker Defoe had been injured in training, but was expected back in time for Saturday's trip to Norwich.
The Portuguese also said he would not be looking to bring in any forward cover before the transfer deadline.

Leeds United v Tottenham Hotspur: Boss Villas-Boas in tribute to ‘competitive’ Whites

Yorkshire Evening Post 28/1/13
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas said Leeds United deserved credit for the competitive nature of their performance after his side crashed out of the FA Cup at Elland Road.
Luke Varney ran clear to give United an early lead as Tottenham failed to convert a series of first-half chances.
Ross McCormack made it 2-0 after more poor defending allowed him to turn inside Steve Caulker and slam home. Clint Dempsey headed home to give Spurs hope and the visitors knew their luck was out whenLee Peltier got back superbly to deny substitute John Obika with a last-ditch challenge late on.
“It was difficult,” said Villas-Boas, who made five changes to his side. “At 2-0 Leeds got further inspiration and we wanted to get back quickly.
“We had a good 15 minutes before the goal when we had some good chances, and I think it was important to score early. It was difficult as we were always chasing the game and this is a difficult place to play, and we couldn’t play our football as well as we could have.
“We wanted to go through in the competition, but we were knocked out by a Leeds team who were extremely competitive today, and you have to give credit to them.”
Tottenham were without Emmanuel Adebayor, who was on duty for Togo in the African Nations Cup, while Villas-Boas confirmed absent striker Jermain Defoe had injured himself in training.
But the Spurs boss refused to comment on whether he would be drafting in any forward cover in the final week of the transfer window, and did not accept his side would benefit from yesterday’s defeat in terms of their bid for Champions League qualification.

Warnock - It wasn't right to play Becchio

Leeds United boss Neil Warnock revealed after the game that he had told want a way striker Luciano Becchio that he would not feature in the FA Cup clash with Tottenham Hotspur in the early part of last week.
Becchio has handed in a transfer request at Elland Road after turning down the offer of a new deal with a number of clubs, both home and abroad chasing the clubs leading goalscorer.
Warnock decided to stick with the side that defeated Birmingham City in the previous round and he felt it wasn`t right to include him in the side, with his form being affected in the past month with the on-going transfer speculation.
Speaking on LUTV, Warnock said, "I didn`t think it was right to play him. I told him earlier in the week that I wouldn`t be playing him."
Leeds have already turned down four offers for the striker from abroad and they have had enquiries from the England, without a firm offer being made. With the transfer window closing in just four days, Warnock says he is still unsure whether Becchio will remain at the club come February 1st.
"I don`t know if he will be here at the end of the week, we will just have to wait and see," continued Warnock.
Luke Varney replaced Becchio in the side, having played in the tie at Birmingham and he rewarded his managers faith with the first goal of the afternoon as Leeds went on to cause a cup upset in a 2-1 win at Elland Road.

Warnock - Captain's performance from Brown

Leeds United boss Neil Warnock says midfielder Michael Brown was magnificent as he rolled back the years to help Leeds defeat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 in the FA Cup.
Brown was named captain of the side for the day against one of his former clubs and he snapped and snarled at the ankles of the Tottenham midfield all afternoon.
The veteran midfielder, who celebrated his 36th birthday on Friday, never gave England international midfielders Scott Parker and Tom Huddlestone a moment`s peace and his over exuberance almost spoilt what had been a great performance when he gave away a needless free kick in the final minute of the game when he clattered into Parker.
Leeds managed to clear the resulting free kick and boss Warnock says he would have been in trouble had they equalised but he could not fault his overall performance.
Speaking on LUTV, Warnock said, "Apart from the free kick in the final minute, which I would have crucified him for had they equalised, I thought he was magnificent. When I came to the club, I was told he was finished but he just gets better.
"I made him captain today against his old club and I thought he played like a captain, he was fabulous."

Leeds set tone with Rodolph Austin's swoop on Tottenham's Scott Parker

Guardian 27/1/13
Energetic pressing against Spurs from first minute led to a constant, aggressive tempo that gave Leeds the edge
Michael Cox
From the opening minute, Leeds' defensive work in the opposition half hinted at an upset. The game was only 30 seconds old when Rodolph Austin closed down Scott Parker, forced him into a mistake, and the home side gained possession high up the pitch to an approving roar from across Elland Road. It set the tempo for a fierce, aggressive and tactically brave performance.
Leeds' pressing was energetic, but also impressively consistent throughout the game. Unlike his opposite number, Neil Warnock is not a modern, suave strategist with buzzwords and detailed instructions for individuals – his final pre-match words probably involved encouraging his charges to "make a nuisance of themselves" when Spurs had possession, although with both Michael Brown and El-Hadji Diouf in his starting XI, such direction was probably unnecessary. Still, that duo were not merely wind-up merchants – Brown's ability to prevent Parker distributing the ball positively was key in slowing Spurs' attacks and Diouf was very disciplined positionally, dropping off the front and occupying Tom Huddlestone, while Ross McCormack made constant lateral runs to close down Steven Caulker and Jan Vertonghen.
But Leeds' commitment in the opposition half led to a lack of security when Tottenham worked the ball forward. There was space in between the lines, occasionally exploited by Aaron Lennon or Gareth Bale when they drifted inside, but surprisingly not by Gylfi Sigurdsson, who had another quiet game, failing to link midfield and attack. There was also too much space in behind the defence – Clint Dempsey got into a couple of promising positions from simple balls over the Leeds back four, although Spurs failed to make the most of these opportunities.
In stark contrast, Leeds ruthlessly exploited the space in behind the Tottenham defence. Their best chances – and both goals – came when they attacked directly. Diouf switched expertly from being an extra midfielder to a useful attacking option, providing the assist for Luke Varney's opener with a clever volleyed flick, and lofting the ball over the defence in the second half for McCormack's composed finish.
Tottenham's defective offside trap was clearly a contributing factor – Caulker and Vertonghen were surprisingly troubled by simple runs from McCormack – but the reality was that Spurs' entire spine performed poorly. Dempsey is not a natural No9 – he found himself on the scoresheet thanks to a fine header but that was his sixth attempt at goal, and possibly the most difficult chance of the lot. The midfield zone, too, was out-of-sorts – Parker still looks extremely rusty, while Huddlestone can distribute the ball delightfully but, against constant pressing, lacks either a burst of pace or dribbling ability to skip past opponents.
That obvious weakness made it surprising André Villas-Boas did not introduce Mousa Dembélé at half-time, and waited until Spurs had conceded a second. Kyle Walker came on for Kyle Naughton and pushed Varney back, while the youngster Jon Obika replaced Sigurdsson, allowing Dempsey to move deeper. Obika provided pace in behind, and had a golden chance to equalise, from a long Benoît Assou-Ekotto ball over the defence, but it was no better an opportunity than McCormack's one-on-one with Brad Friedel at the other end, following Assou-Ekotto's stumbled attempt to cope with yet another ball over the top.
Parker and Brown had a squabble at the final whistle, following a typically unnecessary lunge from the Leeds midfielder in stoppage time but it was fitting that Parker's struggles bookended the game. Even Parker, the all-action, scrappy midfielder who would run through a brick wall for his side was rattled, flustered and unable to cope with Leeds' determined midfield pressure.

Neil Warnock rounds on his critics after Leeds United's great FA Cup victory

Bradford Telegraph & Argus 27/1/13
Leeds United 2, Tottenham Hotspur 1
Neil Warnock took a swipe at the Leeds United boo-boys after his side pulled off another shock result with a 2-1 win over Tottenham at Elland Road to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup today.
Leeds striker Luke Varney held his nerve after being sent clear by skipper Michael Brown’s through-ball in the 15th minute to open the scoring, and Tottenham’s hopes of a fightback were dealt a blow five minutes after the break when Ross McCormack slammed home a fine second.
Tottenham forward Clint Dempsey deftly headed Gareth Bale’s excellent cross inside the far post eight minutes later, having earlier spurned a gilt-edged chance to reduce the deficit, but there was no way back for the Londoners.
Leeds, in fact, could have added to their tally with McCormack guilty of two bad misses in either half.
Home defender Lee Peltier then ensured Warnock’s side exacted revenge on Spurs for their triumph at Elland Road at the same stage of the competition after a replay in 2010 with a brilliant last-ditch tackle on visiting substitute John Obika in stoppage time.
“I’ll probably open a bottle of champagne tonight and have a few little tipples,” said Warnock, whose side were criticised by fans after the recent league defeat at Barnsley.
“I’m sure I’ll be able to do something like that. I might even treat myself to a bag of crisps.”
Some Leeds fans are angry at the expected departure of leading goal-scorer Luciano Becchio, but Warnock said today’s display should help lift the gloom.
“We’ve had negative press on some of the results lately and yet we’ve won six on the trot at home (now seven),” he said.
“But in Leeds the glass is always half empty, it’s never half full in Leeds. That might be a Yorkshire trait.”
Warnock rated today’s win among the best since he joined the club in February last year.
“It’s a fabulous day for everybody,” he said. “Not just because we won the game, but we had a few problems a few weeks ago, there was a little bit of dissent around the place.
“We go to Birmingham and nobody expected us to win and 1,500 fans followed us, and today was a thank you to them because they got behind us and we ended up winning that game, which gave us the opportunity to play Spurs.
“I really enjoyed the match. We didn’t get anything other than what we deserved today and we had a few chances as well.
“It was a typical FA Cup game. They were like that when I was a kid.
“They played a strong team. To see Bale, Lennon and Parker in that team and to beat them is fabulous because we had a very young team.”
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas said Leeds deserved credit for the competitive nature of their performance and admitted that after conceding an early goal his side were always chasing the game.
“It was difficult,” said Villas-Boas, who made five changes to his side. “At 2-0 Leeds got further inspiration and we wanted to get back quickly.
“We had a good 15 minutes before the goal when we had some good chances, and I think it was important to score early.
“It was difficult as we were always chasing the game and this is a difficult place to play, and we couldn’t play our football as well as we could have.
“We wanted to go through in the competition, but we were knocked out by a Leeds team who were extremely competitive today, and you have to give credit to them.”
Tottenham were without Emmanuel Adebayor, on duty for Togo in the African Nations Cup, while Villas-Boas confirmed absent striker Jermain Defoe had injured himself in training.
But the Spurs boss refused to comment on whether he would be drafting in any forward cover in the final week of the transfer window, and did not accept his side would benefit from today’s defeat in terms of their bid for Champions League qualification.

Champagne and crisps on the menu for Warnock after superb cup win over Spurs

Mail 27/1/13
By Ian Ladyman
Leeds manager Neil Warnock was preparing on Sunday night to celebrate his team’s FA Cup win with a bottle of champagne and a bag of crisps.
Goals from Luke Varney and Ross McCormack were enough to beat a Tottenham side showing five changes from the one who drew with Manchester United seven days earlier. The visitors ultimately paid a heavy price.
Afterwards Warnock said: ‘This is a fabulous day for everybody and I thought we were fantastic. We’ve done this for the 1,500 supporters who followed us to Birmingham for last week’s replay.
‘When I was a kid these were the type of games that I loved. It was a classic FA Cup tie and I have to say that I don’t think we have got anything other than what we absolutely deserved.
‘When you put heads in and tackles in at the end, that is what I love about English football. When you see games likes that it is a fabulous advert for the FA Cup.
‘I’m on my own tonight. My wife and family aren’t up here so I will open a bottle of champagne and have a few tipples.
‘I may even treat myself to a bag of crisps as well.’
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas went into this game without an out-and-out centre forward. England’s Jermain Defoe suffered a pelvic injury in midweek and may yet need surgery.
Defoe has had an injection in the hope of being fit for Wednesday’s fixture at Norwich but the fear at Spurs is that it nags away or worsens, requiring an operation.
Villas-Boas defended his selection at Elland Road and also refused to blame his team’s defending.
He said: ‘I had full confidence in my players and I don’t think I made aggressive changes from last week.
‘But we played against a team who were extra-competitive. All credit to them. They played well.’
'It's a fabulous performance,' Warnock told ESPN. 'It's a great day for us. The atmosphere was good, two cracking goals.
'There were a lot of heroes today. It was a typical FA Cup tie today.'
With Jermain Defoe ruled out through injury, Spurs relied heavily on wing pair Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon but the duo rarely got any change out of Leeds full-backs Sam Byram and Aidy White.
And Warnock was full of praise for his defensive duo after seeing two of the most dangerous wingers in the game kept quiet.
'I thought Aidy and Sam got done occasionally, but they've learned so much today against top-class opposition,' he said.
'It's not very often that Aaron Lennon has an ineffective game as he did today, and we handled Gareth well as well.'
Leading scorer Luciano Becchio was not involved for the hosts as a move away from Elland Road looms, but Warnock admitted the situation with his Argentinian striker had not been a distraction in the build-up.
'If I'd have thought Becchio would have been fit today or in the right frame of mind I would still have played this team,' he said.
'The lads knew on Wednesday I was going to play this team.'
Varney handed Leeds the lead on 15 minutes with just his second goal of the season, and the striker was delighted to set his team off on the right foot.
'We've set out all week to be positive and we're all delighted,' he said.
'The lads grafted and we really hung on at the end, but two quality goals eventually made the win so we're delighted.
'I was really pleased to start us off. Just buzzing to be fair.'

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Neil Warnock’s sewer rat leaves Andre Villas-Boas on cup rubbish dump

Independent 27/1/13
Leeds United 2 Tottenham Hotspur 1
Ian Herbert
By the end, there were plastic bags and crisp bags skittering across the turf of a club which has long since been cast out of the big time and onto the Premier League’s refuse tip.
But that was the only rubbish on view. This was a day when Leeds simply didn’t flinch in the face of a fixture with history which, to quote their manager Neil Warnock’s observations beforehand, “runs off the tongue naturally”.
For his Tottenham counterpart Andre Villas Boas there was the substantial gamble of starting the game without any recognised striker – a risk which he is willing to take with the remainder of the Premier League campaign, judging by his declaration last night that Tottenham will not be bringing in new players. But the minimal chances his side created made the absence of Jermain Defoe or Emmanuel Adebayor a theoretical concept, even though Defoe might have done better with the chance that the rookie Jonathan Obika squandered at the death.
The most decisive factor in Leeds’ progress was actually the Premier League side’s inability to deal with the long balls which caught them so desperately flat. It is the kind of tactic for which sophisticates of the game like Villas Boas have little time but it frequently caused him and his high defensive line problems when he managed Chelsea. Perhaps Neil Warnock sensed that, because it was the factor which put Tottenham out of the FA Cup.
Warnock has always been willing to employ the unfashionable methods which others might discard and El-Hadji Diouf’s integral role in this victory revealed the rewards. It was a gamble bringing Diouf across from Doncaster Rovers after an English career blighted by the controversies which famously led Warnock to brand the Senegalese a “sewer rat”.
But Warnock told The Independent earlier this season that he was the team’s “matador” and that much was certainly true yesterday. He was at the crux of both his side’s goals and in his partnership with the 26-year-old Scottish striker Ross McCormack, whose curled finish proved the difference between the sides, there was something Tottenham could never match.
For Tottenham, Scott Parker displayed the type of bite which Dave McKay used to in a Tottenham shirt, in the days when he and Billy Bremner would slug it out. Aaron Lennon, who started on the right, switched to the left and drifted inside, was buoyed enough by his return to the club where he played 45 times before his £500,000 move to White Hart Lane, to show that he is now the finished product.
But these individualists sorely lacked partners. The reason given for Jermain Defoe’s omission from the squad was a knock to the hip, though Villas Boas’s acknowledgement that he will be fit for Norwich on Wednesday suggested that Premier League considerations came into an equation. Warnock certainly thought so.
Leeds’ lead at the break did not feel like another morality tale about a Premier League side’s complacency. Spurs had played the better football by then. But Warnock had taken a gamble with his strikers too – deploying Luke Varney instead of Luciano Becchio, the Argentine whose refusal to accept a new deal clearly rankles. Varney has had his moments this season but he displayed the calmness and presence of mind to provide the finish which sent his side ahead.
Michael Brown’s flick up and volleyed punt from his own half, helped on by Diouf, was only speculative but Kyle Naughton was leaden and Varney was liquid, racing into the penalty area and clipping the ball right-footed past Brad Friedel just as he reached the six-yard box.
Spurs allowed no immediate sense of optimism for a Championship club who led Chelsea 1-0 at half-time in the League Cup earlier this month and wound up losing 5-1. Bale’s solitary first half excursion past his full back Lee Peltier, putting the ball through the defender’s legs and following it, felt like a premonition – though a tame cross followed. But Diouf and the strikers he operated just behind looked like the ones with the plan. McCormack gave and went, racing onto Diouf’s return ball which he eased back behind Steven Caulker and, after looking for options on the edge of the box and finding none, bent a left-footed shot past Friedel to double Warnock’s money.
Warnock had said his defenders were looking forward to “pitting their wits” against Bale but the two men billeted to stop his left foot launching a grenade couldn’t prevent the cross from which Clint Dempsey’s looping header halved Leeds’ lead within eight minutes.
But thereafter Brown marshalled a rearguard in which 22-year-old centre half Tom Lees stood particularly firm. Resilience was written through the spine of the team. Obika, running onto a lofted ball a minute from time, was crowded out by Paul Green but it was McCormack – racing behind Benoit Assou-Ekotto again – who had the better chance to extend the scoring. The strong right hand of Friedel repelled him.
The good old days feel like a long way off for Leeds. The new owners, GFH Capital, have endorsed the widely held view that they are experiencing an “acute lack of cash.” The fans’ frustrations were clear last night in the way Warnock lamented their sarcasm towards the players. “The glass is often half empty, never half full, in Leeds. Maybe that’s a Yorkshire trait, that,” Warnock said.
But they were kings for this day, at least, and well deserved their coronation.

Leeds 2 Tottenham 1: Toothless Spurs sent packing after poor display at Elland Road

Mail 27/1/13
By Wayne Gardiner, Press Association
Toothless Tottenham bowed out of the FA Cup at the fourth-round stage on Sunday as they were beaten at npower Championship side Leeds.
With Jermain Defoe reportedly injured and Emmanuel Adebayor on international duty, manager Andre Villas-Boas went into the Elland Road clash without a recognised striker and it showed as Spurs, Clint Dempsey's consolation strike aside, repeatedly failed in front of goal.
Leeds actually had striking problems of their own ahead of the game - leading scorer Luciano Becchio was not involved as a move away from Elland Road looms - but they gave no suggestion of it as Luke Varney and then Ross McCormack found the target to send Spurs packing.
McCormack's effort was a stunning 50th-minute strike that gave Neil Warnock's side some breathing space. Varney's 15th-minute opener had earlier set the tone, with Leeds sharper in the final third.
With no out-ball up front, Villas-Boas relied heavily on wing pair Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon but the duo rarely got any change out of full-backs Sam Byram and Aidy White and, when chances did come to Dempsey, he was largely unable to take them.
With 19-goal Becchio watching at home as his agent and the club disagree over a contract offer, it was surprising to see Leeds so sprightly in attack, even if they did have to weather an early Tottenham storm during which Dempsey dragged wide and Gylfi Sigurdsson headed at Jamie Ashdown.
Dempsey also put a header over but after that Leeds settled and went ahead through Varney, a player who has been a target for the boo boys this season for his anaemic record in front of goal.
This was just his second of the campaign but he took it with the confidence of a man who had more, opening his body to beat Brad Friedel after he got clear on Michael Brown's hopeful punt forward, with El-Hadji Diouf's faux flick confusing the visiting defenders.
Spurs could have responded through Dempsey, but he was unable to get the ball out of his feet when put in by Lennon, while Ashdown did well to get down quickly when Tom Huddlestone caught him cold with a snap-shot.
Bale then drifted into the game and beat two men on a mazy run which lacked a finish, but Leeds ended the half the stronger and McCormack was denied by Friedel.
A second goal duly arrived five minutes into the second half, though, with McCormack producing a memorable strike that gave Friedel no chance.
The Scotland international pulled a long ball out of the sky and laid it off for Diouf before racing ahead to collect his strike partner's return pass.
With Stephen Caulker in front of him he checked, cut inside from the right and thumped a curling strike beyond the American.
Dempsey should have made it 2-1 almost immediately but scuffed wide from six yards after Lennon had got to the byline, but he got the goal his effort, if not his finishing, deserved with 58 minutes gone, getting a head on Bale's cross to beat Ashdown.
Leeds' two-goal cushion should have been restored when McCormack got away again with 72 minutes gone, but this time he allowed the angle to get too tight and Friedel shut him out.
The miss would have no consequence, however, as Leeds held on for the win, with Tottenham not really able to get a sight of their goal apart from Lee Peltier's last-ditch denial of Jon Obika, with the frustrations of Bale all too obvious as the home side's youthful back four constantly locked him out.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

LUFC Tate - Chinese interest in Becchio

Former Leeds United loan defender Alan Tate says there has been interest from China for Leeds want away striker Luciano Becchio.
Becchio has handed in a transfer request at Elland Road today and the club admitted in a statement that they had turned down bids from two separate foreign clubs.
Tate, who returned to Swansea City this week, ending his loan at Elland Road, says he knows there was interest from China as well as Premier League side Wigan Athletic.
Speaking on Talksport, Tate said, "I knew it was coming. Being in the dressing room, you hear things.
"I got on well with Becchio and I know he had interest from China and from Wigan.
"It is now up to him what he wants to do. He has been a very good player for Leeds and had five great years with them.
"He deserves his chance in the Premier League. I hope he doesn`t leave Leeds to go to China if he has the chance to play in the Premier League."
Leeds also stated that they were unwilling to sell Becchio unless a bid reached their valuation of the player who has netted 19 times this season. Becchio, who arrived at Leeds in the summer of 2008, as just eighteen months remaining on his current deal at Elland Road.

Tate - Loan over because of money situation

Former Leeds United loan defender Alan Tate says he had to return to Swansea because of the money situation at Elland Road.
Tate was due to return to parent club Swansea City after Leeds game with Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday and Leeds boss Neil Warnock says he allowed him to return to Swansea, as a defender was not his priority in the January transfer window.
Swansea boss Michael Laudrup said over the festive period that he expected Tate to remain with Leeds for the rest of the season but Leeds only extended the loan into a second month after his initial loan ran out on January 2nd.
Worryingly for Leeds fans, Tate says it was because of the money situation at Elland Road, which meant he could not remain with the club.
Speaking on Talksport, Tate said, "My contract was not technically over until Sunday, but for different reasons I have returned to Swansea.
"I was enjoying my time up there, things went well but with the money situation up there, I couldn`t stay longer."
His statement is more alarming by the fact that the club have just been taken over by GFH Capital and fans were finally hoping for an influx of players, with cash available to Leeds boss Neil Warnock, rather than seeing the star players leave Elland Road.
It already looks like a case of déjà vu with leading goalscorer Luciano Becchio handing in a transfer request at the club today after Leeds could not match the players wage demands.
Since Leeds promotion to the championship in 2010, the fans have seen high profile players Jermaine Beckford, Bradley Johnson, Max Gradel, Kasper Schmeichel, Jonny Howson and Robert Snodgrass all leave the club.

Luciano Becchio submits transfer request

Scratching Shed 24/1/13
Leeds United’s top goalscorer and highest earning player Luciano Becchio has today submitted a transfer request.
The 29-year-old Argentinian striker has been at the centre of continuous transfer speculation since mid-December, with Neil Warnock revealing earlier this month that he’d “had his head turned”.
A statement on Leeds United’s official site revealed the club has already rejected two bids while trying to agree a new deal with the striker.
As the blame games commence, it’s worth considering that Luciano Becchio’s next contract is likely to be his last and most profitable. Had Leeds United been in a position where promotion looked likely, I’m sure he’d have waited until the end of the season in the hope of being able to agree a Premier League pay hike. Unfortunately, the chances of Leeds United achieving promotion this season are slim to none.
From the owners perspective, Luciano is already the highest paid player at the club and they’ve offered to increase his salary. But there’s only so much you can offer players as a second tier club. If other interested clubs are offering substantially more, Leeds can’t be expected to match that. Not with attendances of 18,000 and promotion out of the question.
In this instance, I don’t think anyone’s at fault. Luciano Becchio has been a great servant to the club and should leave with our best wishes. GFH meanwhile have offered to increase the Argentinian’s salary and he’s decided to leave regardless. This isn’t the same as it was under Ken Bates, he would have sold Becchio when the first offer arrived before channelling the funds into another pointless vanity project.
That’s not to say GFH shouldn’t be judged by this saga. The real acid test for our new owners isn’t whether they can hold onto key players or not, we have to be realistic in that respect, we’re a second tier club, every time we find someone a little bit special it’s going to be a uphill struggle to retain them. Instead, our verdict on GFH should be based on what happens to the funds from the sale of these players.
If said funds are reinvested into the team, then that’s good enough for me. It would represent a seismic shift in policy from what we endured under Ken Bates.
It’s interesting that the Becchio news coincides with the Yorkshire Evening Post’s report on a possible return for Max Gradel. Maybe it’s coincidence, maybe it’s a PR stunt, or maybe, just maybe, Max Gradel is the player Neil Warnock is planning to spend money from Luciano’s sale on? Max Gradel has already admitted he’d like to return to Leeds and there can be few signings the fans would be happier with.

A club statement: Luciano Becchio

leedsunited.com 24/1/13
The club has issued the following statement...
Luciano Becchio scores Luciano Becchio, who has been the subject of two separate bids from foreign clubs during the January transfer window, has handed in a transfer request to the club, as financially he believes his best interests are served by a move away from Leeds United.
Both bids have been rejected and the player will only be allowed to leave in the event that an acceptable offer is received.
The club have sought to agree the terms of a new contract with the player, who is already the highest earner, but the requested terms were beyond a level that we could support, particularly in view of the regulations relating to Financial Fair Play that will be effective in coming seasons.
It is disappointing that this situation has occurred when he is under contract until 30th June 2014.

Whites enter bidding to sign Aston Villa defender Warnock

Yorkshire Evening Post 24/1/13
By Phil Hay
Leeds United have entered the bidding to sign Stephen Warnock by approaching Aston Villa about a loan deal for the out-of-favour left-back.
Sources in the West Midlands last night revealed that both Leeds and Wolverhampton Wanderers have expressed a firm interest in 31-year-old Warnock, who spent the first half of this season on loan at Bolton Wanderers.
United’s range of left-backs was recently weakened by the loss to injury of Adam Drury and Villa are ready to release Warnock on a long-term loan having failed to use him in a single first-team fixture since the end of last term.

Max Gradel back on Whites radar

Yorkshire Evening Post 24/1/13
By Phil Hay
Max Gradel is back on Leeds United’s radar after the Elland Road club made the first move towards recapturing their one-time player of the year.
The Yorkshire Evening Post understands that an enquiry about Gradel’s availability was made in the past week amid on-going attempts by manager Neil Warnock to strengthen his squad before the end of January.
A deal to sign the popular winger – voted Leeds’ best performer in 2011 – is likely to be complex with Gradel under contract at St Etienne until 2015 and the French club reluctant to sell him in this transfer window, but the 25-year-old has spoken previously of the attraction of returning to English football.
Gradel was a product of Leicester City’s academy and turned professional at the Walkers Stadium before moving to Leeds for a fee of around £200,000 in January 2010. He featured prominently in the squad which won promotion from League One in 2011 but was sold to St Etienne for close to £2million later that year with United unable to agree an extension to his contract. He left Leeds with a record of 25 goals in 84 games.
Speaking last month after rumours of a move back to Elland Road first materialised, Gradel said: “I have a contract here (at St Etienne) until June 2015, I’ve settled well and I’m enjoying my football. But I’m a lover of English football and its atmosphere. I’m 25 years old and I know my love affair with English football is not finished yet so you never know.
“At the moment my French club is doing well so I am happy here but things happen quickly in football.”
Gradel is currently present at the African Cup of Nations with the Ivory Coast’s national squad but his involvement in the tournament in South Africa has not stopped Leeds from exploring the possibility of signing him.
His salary in France could prove prohibitive, however, with the winger thought to be earning more than £20,000 a week – a wage above that of any player in the Elland Road squad.
United’s new owner, GFH Capital, is still to demonstrate the full extent of its financial clout following its buy-out of Leeds shortly before Christmas.
But manager Neil Warnock admitted yesterday that he was prioritising the recruitment of attacking players with the January window set to close in a week’s time, and former United loanee Jerome Thomas appeared to open the door to another approach from Leeds by revealing that West Brom are yet to approach him for negotiations about a new deal.
Thomas, who played six times for Leeds during a brief loan at the club in November and December, returned to The Hawthorns at the start of this month with the intention of winning an extension to a deal which expires in the summer, but the former Arsenal trainee said: “We’ve had no discussions with the manager or hierarchy.
“Is this a window to force a new contract? My performances should do that but I’d have thought my performances over the last few seasons would have done that anyway.”
Albion were widely expected to retain Thomas this month regardless of his contractual situation after seeing their squad weakened by the loss of Zoltan Gera to a serious knee injury.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Leeds United: The right backing’s key to Whites success

Yorkshire Evening Post 23/1/13
By Phil Hay
The financial disparity between Leeds United and the clubs who were once their peers is never more pronounced than when one or other of England’s cup competitions produces a tie like Sunday’s.
Neil Warnock’s record signing at Elland Road – defender Lee Peltier – cost somewhere in the region of £800,000. There are players in the Premier League who earn as much in a month and some at Tottenham Hotspur who are not far behind; a different league in more ways than one.
But even in the Championship the playing field is less than level. Chris Waddle, the former Spurs winger and a player who cost almost £5million at a time when that figure meant something, looks at Leeds and sees a club whose spending power opens few doors. Promotion matters more to Leeds than progression in the FA Cup this weekend but Waddle does not speak like a man who would put his house on either possibility.
The prevailing view of United’s situation is that they have much to do both in terms of rectifying the Championship table and exploiting a transfer window which in 23 days has shown little sign of taking off. The vital month, as Warnock once called it, is fast becoming a vital week with next Thursday’s deadline drawing close.
“I see a lot of Championship football through watching Sheffield Wednesday,” Waddle said. “It’s a very unpredictable league and only Cardiff City are running away with it. Everybody else is much of a muchness.
“Neil Warnock knows that better than anybody, having got out the division with Sheffield United and QPR. He always brings in players who other clubs might not want to take a chance on but he gets the best out of them.
“The big picture, though, is that some clubs are paying a lot more money for players than Leeds can. Whether you get promoted is often down to the right finances and the right backing. When teams like Southampton and Norwich went up, people looked at them and wondered how. But they were paying decent wages.
“Leeds are a big club and obviously things have gone the wrong way for them. They’re determined to get back to the promise land but it’s frustrating for the club and the fans because you can only do what you’re allowed to do financially.”
Investment in the squad at Elland Road has been a sore point for several years. In recent weeks, the attention of disgruntled supporters has focused more keenly on Warnock and his players, despite the run of six straight home wins which is keeping Leeds in sight of the Championship’s last play-off position.
In all, United have suffered only four defeats at home this season and one of those against Chelsea in the Capital One Cup. The fact that Sunday’s FA Cup fourth-round tie is bringing Spurs to Leeds offers more chance of an upset than it might have done had United been sent to White Hart Lane. Their most recent away victory under Warnock came on December 1; their last before that on September 29.
The upshot of that contrast has been a consistent position beneath the Championship’s top six. The fear that another season might be slipping away boiled over at Barnsley 10 days ago as Warnock faced calls from United’s supporters for him to be sacked.
His squad dampened the mutinous mood by grinding out a 1-0 win over Bristol City on Saturday.
“It’s strange for the fans to be getting on the manager’s back after such good home form,” Waddle said.
“Often the frustration of indifferent away form can boil over. Teams are winning at home and moving up a couple of places then the following week they go away from home, lose a game and drop back down two or three places.
“I empathise. It’s always baffled me. A pitch is the same size, home or away.
“Pitches are so good these days there’s no difference in standards. I don’t understand it.”
Warnock was critical of the pitch at Elland Road after United’s win over Bolton Wanderers on New Year’s Day but it might not disappoint him if Tottenham are forced to cope with a rough and uneven surface.
There are few squads more suited to slick, flowing football than Andre Villas-Boas’ – Waddle called them “one of the best counter-attacking teams on the continent” – and the Spurs manager is not renowned for fielding heavily weakened line-ups in meaningful cup games.
“The early stages of his tenure at White Hart Lane have restored a reputation savaged during his short time at Chelsea.
“He’s got Spurs playing the Tottenham way,” Waddle said. “He’s got them playing in that certain attacking way. Spurs have got a good thing going at the minute.
“I don’t judge him (Villas-Boas) on his time at Chelsea. I judge him on the very good job he did at Porto and what he’s doing now at Tottenham. It was a brave decision to appoint him but he’s fully merited it.
“For me, they’re only one or two players away from being a top side and going from strength to strength, and if you ask Villas Boas then he’ll be taking (Sunday’s tie) seriously. He’s never really rested players in any cup games and he’ll be desperate to have some success on his CV.
“We’re in for a cracking tie and Tottenham would be a big scalp for Leeds. They’ve already beaten Southampton and Everton in the League Cup. All right, Chelsea gave them a good going over, but why not?
“You know for definite that Neil Warnock will have his team up for the game. He always does. But if Tottenham perform to the best of their abilities then Leeds will have to play very well to get something out of them.”
ESPN will air live and exclusive coverage of Leeds’ FA Cup clash against Spurs on Sunday from 11am. ESPN is also searching for fans’ all-time favourite FA Cup moments at espn.co.uk/facuppoll

Warnock’s tribute to loanee Tate

Yorkshire Evening Post 23/1/13
By Phil Hay
Neil Warnock admitted he was prioritising attacking additions to the squad at Leeds United after ending his interest in re-signing Swansea City’s Alan Tate.br /> Tate has returned to his parent club after two months on loan at Elland Road, cutting short a deal which was due to end this weekend and ruling out the option of a move to Leeds for the rest of the season.br /> The 30-year-old centre-back played 11 times for United after joining the club in November and he was in line to make the final appearance of his short-term loan in a Championship match against Middlesbrough on Saturday.br /> But Leeds’ progression to the fourth round of the FA Cup, earning them a meeting with Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, saw the club and Tate go their separate ways after Warnock excluded him from his matchday squad for last weekend’s win over Bristol City. Warnock said: “He’s been a really big help for us, especially in the games after we first signed him, but I need to think about sorting out the attacking end of the squad before looking at anything else.br /> “That’s where my priorities lie and I felt it was important to have those players in place before adding to the defence. I don’t think we’re short of good defenders.”br /> Warnock signed Tate on November 22, the final day of the emergency loan window, and originally planned to keep the 30-year-old for the remainder of the Championship term having extended his stay for a second month at the start of January.br /> But Tate struggled to maintain his early form and lost his place after a weak performance in Leeds’ 2-0 defeat at Barnsley on January 12. Tom Lees and Lee Peltier were used at centre-back against Bristol City.br /> Tate’s arrival at Elland Road coincided with successive Championship wins over Crystal Palace, Leicester City and Huddersfield Town – results which dug Leeds out of a pre-takeover crisis – and Warnock said: “He came in at a time when we really needed him.br /> “I made no secret of the impact he had.br /> “He improved us and he helped us steady the ship. We’d have had a problem without him but I really have to look at other areas.”br /> Warnock gave no indication of whether progress in the transfer market was likely before the weekend and again declined to comment on firm suggestions of interest in Norwich City’s Steve Morrison and former Portsmouth forward Aruna Dindane.br /> Out-of-contract Dindane is understood to have asked to train with Leeds but United are yet to commit to a deal to sign him.br /> Warnock gave no indication of whether progress in the transfer market was likely before the weekend and again declined to comment on firm suggestions of interest in Norwich City’s Steve Morrison and former Portsmouth forward Aruna Dindane.br /> Out-of-contract Dindane is understood to have asked to train with Leeds but United are unlikely to commit to a deal to sign him.

Defender makes Swansea return

leedsunited.com 22/1/13
Time is up for loan man...
Alan Tate Loan man Alan Tate has returned to Swansea City.
The 30-year-old's loan spell was due to come to an end at the weekend and he has now returned to South wales.
Alan spent two months on loan with the club and made 11 appearances.
"We can't thank Alan enough for his help over the past month, and thanks also to Swansea for allowing him to come here," said Neil Warnock. "He has returned to Swansea now and we wish him all the best."

Leeds close to signing Aruna Dindane in Middle East deal

Yorkshire Post 22/1/13
By Leon Wobschall
LEEDS UNITED are closing in on a deal to sign former Portsmouth striker Aruna Dindane – who is understood to be in Yorkshire today to meet with club officials.
The 32-year-old frontman is a free agent after recently leaving Qatar-based Al-Sailiya Sport Club following a six-month spell with United set to hand him a contract for the rest of the season.
Dindane, capped 67 times by Ivory Coast, has been playing in the Middle East for the past three seasons, but has been keen to make a return to England – following a successful loan spell at Fratton Park in 2009-10 after joining from French side Lens.
Dindane struck 10 goals for Pompey – including a top-flight hat-trick against Wigan Athletic in October 2009 – but failed to earn a permanent deal following the cash-strapped club’s relegation from the top-flight.
Shortly after, Dindane headed to Qatar, but after a two-and-a-half-year spell with three separate clubs, he has expressed an interest in heading back to the UK.
The forward revealed a desire to return to the Premier League only last month, with West Brom, Swansea City and Southampton tentatively linked to the much-travelled player.
The player also confirmed interest from clubs in France, Portugal and Turkey.
But Whites boss Neil Warnock, keen to bolster his forward ranks and with ongoing uncertainty regarding the future of top-scorer Luciano Becchio, appears to have won the race for his services.
Meanwhile, Warnock’s hopes of signing another forward in Norwich City striker Steve Morison are on hold, with the Welsh international currently on the injured list with a minor tear in his thigh.
Morison’s Carrow Road future is uncertain with Canaries boss Chris Houghton keen on supplementing his forward line, having been linked with moves for Swansea City’s Danny Graham and Celtic’s Gary Hooper.
Leeds and Blackburn Rovers are believed to be monitoring developments with Morison, who is set to return to action in the next week or two.
The agent of Bradford City hot-shot Nahki Wells has confirmed United are one of a host of clubs watching the striker.
But he has added that the Bantams, in Capital One Cup semi-final action tonight, are currently not looking to sell with only a massive offer likely to lead to them cashing in with the club having not received any bids yet.
Agent David Threlfall said: “I know Leeds are watching him, but everyone seems to be. Because Nahki is doing well, a lot of clubs are watching him in every game. “But to my knowledge, the club (Bradford) have had no sniffs for him.”

Leeds United: Agent of Bradford City striker Wells confirms Whites interest

Yorkshire Evening Post 22/1/13
The agent of Bradford City hot-shot Nahki Wells has confirmed Leeds United are one of a host of clubs watching the striker.
But he has added that the Bantams, in Capital One Cup semi-final action tonight, are currently not looking to sell with only a massive offer likely to lead them cashing in – with the club having not received any bids yet.
Agent David Threlfall said: “I know Leeds are watching him, but everyone seems to be. Because Nahki is doing well, a lot of clubs are watching him in every game.
“But to my knowledge, the club (Bradford) have had no sniffs for him.”

Monday, January 21, 2013

Warnock remains optimistic as Leeds close in on wanted men

Yorkshire Post 21/1/13
By Richard Sutcliffe
NEIL WARNOCK is delighted that Leeds United do not have another Championship game before the end of the January transfer window as the club look this week to step up their attempts to strengthen.
The Elland Road chief has managed to make just one signing – Everton loanee Ross Barkley – since the turn of the year despite having enquired about a host of potential targets.
United, who beat Bristol City 1-0 on Saturday in a scrappy encounter to remain five points adrift of the play-off spots, were linked with Norwich City’s Steve Morison and former Portsmouth striker Aruna Dindane over the weekend.
Warnock is remaining tight-lipped over the identity of the players he wants, but claims Leeds not being in league action until February 2 – when leaders Cardiff City come to West Yorkshire – can only be a positive.
He said: “I am delighted that the league game with Middlesbrough (scheduled for next Saturday but postponed due to both clubs being involved in the FA Cup fourth round) is off as we won’t have another league game until the window shuts.
“Shaun (Harvey, Leeds chief executive) has made a lot of calls and I know he is speaking to people on Monday. He just needs that to kick into place.
“We just need a little bit of luck with a club accepting our offer and the player wanting to come.
“Hopefully, it will be someone that can play against Tottenham (in Sunday’s FA Cup tie) and Cardiff and look forward to it in an arena like this. We just have to cross our fingers.
“I know Shaun is working as hard as he can behind the scenes. A couple of the clubs we are speaking to won’t consider the player we are after until they get someone else in.
“That is the situation in January. Clubs are loathe to lose their better players if they don’t have replacements.
“I am looking at a few positions where we think it is necessary. Get three players in and, with the situation we are in, I think we should look forward with optimism.”
Ross McCormack’s 66th-minute winner against Sean O’Driscoll’s Robins was enough to seal a sixth straight home win for United in the Championship.
Coming on the back of last week’s Cup replay triumph over Birmingham City at St Andrews, Warnock believes Leeds have “put to bed” the chastening defeat to Barnsley nine days ago that led to a section of the club’s 5,000 strong travelling support at Oakwell calling for a change of manager.
The Leeds chief continued: “The win over Bristol City was a massive one. We got a battering last week against Barnsley but I can’t fault how the lads have responded.
“The players knew this was the first chance for a lot of our fans to see us since then. There were 1,500 of them at Birmingham in midweek, but the vast majority coming along against Bristol City had not seen us since Barnsley.
“I thought we put that to bed in the second half and I don’t see there being any problem in the future.
“It won’t be a problem in the next couple of games (against Spurs and Cardiff) as they will come to create a fabulous atmosphere.
“How many teams have won six on the trot? Not many. We have bounced back all season long. The most difficult thing about management is getting a drubbing.
“We got thrashed by Watford (6-1 in early November) and that was probably the worst 90 minutes of my career.
“It took me a little bit of getting over. But what do you do? Do you listen to them and chuck it in? Or do you organise yourself and think, ‘Let’s go again’?
“That is what you do as a manager and that is what I will do as long as I am here. We want to win games and get up the table.”
United’s win over the struggling Robins was watched by 18,146, the lowest crowd for a weekend game at Elland Road since the club’s return to the Championship in 2010.
A sizeable number registered their displeasure during the first half when a couple of late efforts on goal by the home side were met by ironic cheers. The half-time whistle was then greeted by a smattering of boos.
Warnock said: “It is easy to criticise. But in the second half, when the fans relaxed and got behind us, I felt the players relaxed. First half, it was almost like they were expecting a mistake or a goal by Bristol City. I could sense that on the touchline. But the lads reacted in the right way. They got hold of the ball.
“I said to them at half-time, ‘It is a brave player who gets hold of the ball’. That is what we did. We wanted the ball.
“You can’t please everyone, even when you have six wins. They would rather play like Real Madrid and lose.
“But the Championship is a hard league and you are playing against different opposition every week.
“The most difficult games are when you play against Bristol City, who will get some points now Sean’s gone in.
“So, to come away with the points and knowing where we are in the league while we try to strengthen, the glass should be half-full, not half-empty.
“Personally, I don’t think many teams will get six home wins on the trot. I am delighted.
“We have got to look at our form away from home and I have my own ideas about what we will do, but we’re not away from home for three weeks so I will keep that to myself.”

Leeds United v Bristol City: Warnock delight as Whites tough it out

Yorkshire Evening Post 21/1/13
By Phil Hay
Elland Road on Saturday had more empty seats than full. This on an afternoon when Leeds United registered a sixth successive league win at home. Not even the introduction of half-season tickets could better the stadium’s average.
Those statistics were juxtaposed as the debate raged about how the club and their manager should be judged. It may not matter to him in the slightest but Neil Warnock is patently aware that certain supporters regard Leeds as a team lacking in culture. More of that criticism was heard after their 1-0 victory over Bristol City.
“You can’t please everybody,” Warnock said, “even after six straight wins. They’d rather see you play like Real Madrid and lose. But the Championship’s a hard league and I don’t think many teams could get six home wins on the trot.”
For him, Saturday’s game was entirely about the result. United’s owner, GFH Capital, has said nothing about the security of Warnock’s position as manager – a column published by the company in the matchday programme did not mention him or the loss suffered by Leeds at Barnsley seven days earlier – but it stood to reason that a second defeat to the Championship’s bottom side in little over a week would encourage GFH Capital to start asking questions. That awkward scenario was duly avoided.
Ross McCormack’s 67th-minute header, his second goal in as many games, settled a flat match and earned Leeds another home win, while Bristol City drifted further away at the foot of the division.
This is United’s most consistent spate of results at Elland Road since a long run of victories carried them into the League One play-offs in 2009. Back then the final game of their winning sequence was watched by more than 34,000. The applause at full-time on Saturday bordered on polite. The uninitiated might have asked if United’s season was dead in the water.
For now, Saturday’s win has kept Warnock’s squad in the running, five points behind sixth place and reliant in the short term on Watford failing to stretch that gap when they take their turn at hosting Bristol City in a rearranged fixture a week tomorrow. In the meantime, Leeds will play Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup before locking horns with Cardiff City, the Championship leaders. February should re-examine Warnock’s theory that his squad have a tendency to thrive when the onus weighs more heavily on the opposition.
“The most difficult games are when you play against the likes of Bristol City,” he said. “I don’t think there’s a problem when we play Cardiff or Spurs because the crowd come to the game expecting nothing.
“When you play teams at the bottom of the table, you can see the frustration in certain things at Elland Road. It’s a difficult place for players to play and you have to stand up and be counted.”
Bristol City know the feeling. Seven points from safety after their first game under new manager Sean O’Driscoll, their defeat at Elland Road was another nail in the coffin. They had occasional chances of note – two in particular that O’Driscoll was left to rue – but Leeds blunted their attack after McCormack scored the game’s only goal.
Having gambled slightly by keeping faith with a central defensive pairing of Lee Peltier and Tom Lees – chosen over Jason Pearce and Alan Tate as they were in Birmingham last Tuesday – there was no call for Warnock to defend that decision.
Beyond his defence, there were other strands of satisfaction. Ross Barkley, United’s loanee from Everton, mixed over-elaboration with welcome positivity and McCormack’s enthusiasm was well rewarded. El-Hadji Diouf looks ever more like a steady influence who Leeds would be lost without but United took a long time to find any fluency.
Warnock admitted that his players seemed “apprehensive” in the first half and they left the field at the interval to the sound of mild booing.
The opening 45 minutes were littered with fouls and half-chances. Liam Kelly and Neil Kilkenny, the former Leeds midfielder, received bookings for blatant fouls and Barkley scuffed United’s best opportunity after Luciano Becchio obscured his line of sight as Diouf angled a cross into the box.
McCormack was fractionally short of turning a Barkley delivery into the net with a minute of injury-time ticking by but Richard Foster let Leeds off the hook when he broke into space 10 yards from goal and drove a shot directly at Paddy Kenny.
Kenny was on hand again at the start of the second half when his two-handed parry prevented Tom Lees from stabbing Foster’s cut-back into his own net.
“At the start we were apprehensive,” Warnock said, “especially one or two of the younger lads. We played a little too deep.
“With Rudy (Austin) and (Michael) Brown, I didn’t want them picking it up from the centre-halves 20 or 30 yards inside our half. I didn’t understand that. But we pushed on in the second half and played a lot more football. We got a grip and the goal was a cracking goal.”
It came, as it often does at Elland Road, amid a short and sustained flurry of pressure. Barkley worked himself into space on the right wing and dinked a cross to the far post where McCormack jumped above his marker and nodded the ball goalwards. From a couple of yards out, he could barely miss and goalkeeper Tom Heaton jumped helplessly to his right as McCormack’s header flashed beyond his left hand.
United have not struggled to protect a lead at Elland Road this season and so it proved again. O’Driscoll used three substitutions but the impact was minimal and Kenny went untested in the final 20 minutes.
“If we’d walked off the field 0-0 we’d have been jumping through hoops,” O’Driscoll said afterwards. “If someone had said the players would perform like that for me after four days, I’d have taken it.”
Warnock was a more satisfied man, admitting the week had gone better than it might after the beating at Barnsley.
“Bristol City will get some points now Sean’s gone in there,” he said, “so to come away with the points, knowing where we are in the league and that we’re trying to strengthen the squad, the glass should be half-full, not half-empty. I’m delighted.”

Leeds United v Bristol City: Kilkenny’s surprise at slump in crowds

Yorkshire Evening Post 21/1/13
By Phil Hay
Neil Kilkenny admitted he was surprised by the dwindling crowds at Leeds United after making a return to Elland Road during Bristol City’s 1-0 defeat on Saturday.
The Australian international, who spent three-and-a-half years as a Leeds player, was at a loss to understand the low-key atmosphere as Elland Road witnessed its smallest attendance of the season for a league game staged on a Saturday afternoon.
A second-half goal from Ross McCormack earned United a precious win – their sixth straight league victory at home – and kept the club on the fringes of the Championship’s play-off positions while worsening Bristol City’s prospects of survival.
Kilkenny was part of the Leeds squads who won promotion from League One in 2010 and finished seventh in the Championship the following year but crowds at Elland Road have dipped significantly since he moved on to Ashton Gate in the summer of 2011.
“When I was here we used to get 30,000 most weeks and now they say it was 18,000,” Kilkenny said. “I don’t know what’s gone on over the year-and-a-half that I’ve been away but it’s disappointing.
“It was great to play here in front of 30,000 but it can get daunting when results aren’t going too well.
“You need to have big balls and take it. That’s what we did (during his time at Leeds) and that’s why we succeeded.
“In my last season we finished two points off the play-offs and that was a massive disappointment.
“We’ll see if Leeds can beat that because they didn’t last year. They could push on still and they need to push on because the fans demand success.”
Kilkenny expressed gratitude to the Elland Road crowd for clapping him from the field following his substitution on 72 minutes.
The 27-year-old has been critical in the past of United’s struggle to retain key players and openly admitted his disappointment after failing to agree a new contract with Leeds in 2011.
“Hopefully they (the supporters) remember what I did for the club,” Kilkenny said. “People know I love this club.
“They’ve got players like (Tom) Lees and (Sam) Byram coming through but a lot of talent has left.
“That’s disappointing for the fans and the club but what can you do?”
It is still not clear whether another key player might move on from Elland Road this month with Leeds into the final 10 days of the transfer window and still to offer firm reassurance about the future of top-scorer Luciano Becchio.
The striker was recalled after illness on Saturday and completed 90 minutes but he struggled to involve himself and saw few opportunities.
McCormack’s clinical header on 67 minutes was enough to hand Leeds yet another home win.
Warnock admitted prior to the clash with Bristol City that he wanted to see what Becchio’s “head was like” after questioning whether the temptation of a transfer elsewhere was distracting the Argentinian.
Speaking after full-time, Warnock said: “He’s definitely got to play better. I don’t think he was at his best.
“But when February 1 comes, if everything’s put to bed, he’ll hopefully start again.
“I’ve had a chat with him as far as I can but when players nod their head and say ‘yes gaffer’, you don’t know if they mean it or if they’ll go outside and ring their agent.
“You don’t have a clue.”

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Leeds United v Bristol City: Warnock hails his great Scot

Yorkshire Evening Post 19/1/13
ROSS McCormack earned Neil Warnock’s praise for heading Leeds United to a sixth successive home league win as Sean O’Driscoll made a losing start to his reign as Bristol City boss.
Warnock admired McCormack’s all-round contribution as the resurgent striker collected his second goal in as many games in the 1-0 win at Elland Road.
“I thought if anyone was going to score today it was Ross,” Leeds manager Warnock said.
“It was a cracking goal, he deserved it and he covered lots of ground. He was a fraction away from putting one in at the end of the first half and looked very sharp.”
Boos rang out from Leeds fans after a dull opening 45 minutes but Warnock said: “We knew it would be hard work because they have a new manager and are fighting for their lives.
“We got a grip at half-time and were a lot more positive in the second half.
“Tom Lees and Lee Peltier were fabulous at the back for us. Unfortunately, you can’t please everyone, even when you have won six in a row in the league at home.
“For me, the glass should be half full, not half empty.”
Despite the defeat, O’Driscoll gathered his players together for a pitchside pat on the back after the final whistle.
He explained: “I’ve had three days with them and I thought they deserved a ‘well done’. You don’t get many chances to say that when you are still bottom of the league.
“We wanted them to be well organised, hard to beat and bright in the opposition’s half, which they were. I was pleased with their application but disappointed with the result. They are an honest bunch and I will just give them some direction.”
Asked if he was optimistic about avoiding the drop, O’Driscoll replied: “Optimism in football is a dangerous emotion. You have to be realistic and we are in a dangerous position, but if we can maintain the level we set today and add a couple of players there is no reason why we can’t give ourselves a chance of retaining Championship status.”
City showed ample commitment, which sometimes spilled over into rash challenges, with Liam Kelly, Neil Kilkenny and substitute Wes Burns collecting bookings and Greg Cunningham and Liam Fontaine fortunate to escape the same fate.
Leeds enjoyed overwhelming possession but rarely tested Tom Heaton, with Fontaine and Louis Carey standing firm at the back. The biggest threat to Leeds goalkeeper Paddy Kenny was a close-in backpass from defender Tom Lees.
McCormack’s opportunity arrived on 66 minutes when Ross Barkley, on his home debut, tricked Stephen Pearson and crossed from the right for the striker to out-jump Richard Forster and head in at the far post.