Thursday, February 28, 2013

Warnock calls a halt to his loan search

YEP 28/2/13
By Phil Hay
Neil Warnock admitted today that he was increasingly reluctant to make further additions to Leeds United’s squad, claiming the arrival of a new winger would put him under pressure to change an in-form team.
Warnock appears to have suspended his search for a loan signing after United’s performances against Blackpool and Blackburn Rovers persuaded him to keep faith with the current squad during the week ahead.
The United manager is likely to name an unchanged line-up for the third match running at home to Millwall on Saturday and he will consider throwing the same side in key games at Leicester City and Crystal Palace if their fitness takes the strain of three fixtures in eight days.
Warnock failed to sign a winger on the final day of the January transfer window and has continued to look for available players in the emergency loan market, claiming recently that Leeds were continuing to suffer from the loss of former club captain Robert Snodgrass. The Scotland international was sold to Norwich City for £3m last July.
Warnock said: “If the right option had come up then we’d have signed someone by now but I’ve thought about it a lot and I’m not sure this would be the right time. I won’t be doing anything for the next week at least.
“The level of player we’re looking at means they’d come here expecting to play, and rightly so, but I don’t think we need that pressure. I can’t justify changing the team on Saturday and I don’t want someone coming in, sitting on the bench and getting frustrated. I’d be causing a problem for no reason.
“The way we’ve played in the last two games means that, as a manager, you’ve got to keep the faith. The lads don’t deserve to have someone take their place. Whether they’ve got the legs to get through three games in eight days I’ll have to see but I’m very happy with how things are at the moment – the attitude, the energy, the mood. I’m having to hold everyone back on the training ground.”
Warnock’s refusal to commit himself to starting on-loan players as a matter of course was behind the decision which sent Everton’s Ross Barkley back to Merseyside at the end of his recent spell at Leeds.
Barkley made four appearances for United but rejoined his parent club after Warnock used him as a late substitute in a 2-2 draw at Wolverhampton Wanderers and left him out of his squad at Middlesbrough four days later.
The Leeds boss admitted that an earlier decision to select Barkley after the 19-year-old midfielder missed an impressive FA Cup win over Tottenham Hotspur had been made because of an agreement with Everton that Barkley would feature regularly.
Speaking at the time, Warnock said: “I can’t guarantee playing him – and I did say I’d do that when I took him.
“I didn’t really want to change the team after the Tottenham game but I did and I felt a little guilty after that. I shouldn’t have promised to do that.”
In Barkley’s absence, Leeds have shifted gradually towards a midfield and a system which Warnock is ready to commit to. So often reliant on banks of four defenders and four midfielders, the combination of David Norris, Paul Green and Michael Tonge has given rise to a front three of Luke Varney, Ross McCormack and Steve Morison, an attacking line which came up short at Blackburn Rovers but had ample opportunity to win the game.
The goalless draw at Ewood Park did neither club a favour, with both lodged beneath the Championship’s play-off places, but Warnock felt he had more to be pleased about than his counterpart, Michael Appleton.
“I thought we were the stronger team, the more dominant in midfield and the more likely to win the game,” Warnock said. “We need luck with injuries now but we’ve come into form. We’re looking stronger at the back than we have done at any stage and the only thing we lacked on Saturday was goals. We just need the likes of Luke and Ross to go on a scoring run but you can feel a spark amongst the players again.
“As a group, they were so annoyed to be in a position where it looked like the season was done. We had three games – Cardiff, Wolves, Middlesbrough – where everything that could go wrong did go wrong and it felt like a huge kick in the teeth.
“But rather than give up, it was as if the players wanted to make a point. We all did. I’m not going to start saying ‘we’re going to do this or we’re going to do that’ but we’re not out of the race. No manager in the league would say we’re out of it. It’s very open still.”
Most managers in United’s division have found this season to be a struggle. Blackburn lost heavily at Leicester City on Tuesday, shortening their own chances of reaching the play-offs, and Middlesbrough were inconvenienced by an FA Cup tie against Chelsea last night.
There are certain teams in a run of good form – Brighton and Bolton Wanderers significantly, the latter coming good after dipping towards relegation – but the past week has maintained Leeds’s chance of a top-six finish and prevented Warnock’s position as manager from becoming untenable.
The United boss, who is out of contract in June, seemed resigned to a disappointing finale after a heavy FA Cup loss at Manchester City followed a costly league defeat to Middlesbrough on February 12 but the 64-year-old said: “We’ve stuck at it and I see a chance for us. I’m actually looking forward to going to Leicester and Palace because I feel like we’ll have a great chance of beating them. That’s the difference.”
Rodolph Austin has missed United’s last two games but the Jamaican midfielder should be available for the clash with Millwall after resuming full training on Tuesday.

Warnock: Leeds nearly chucked it all in

Yorkshire Post 28/2/13
NEIL Warnock believes Leeds United are approaching the Championship run-in without nerves, claiming the crisis which developed at Elland Road earlier this month lifted a weight of expectation from his team.
The United boss said he and his squad were at the point of “throwing it all in” after a defeat to Middlesbrough on February 12 appeared to end their season but he spoke of a buoyant camp today as he rallied the club for their clash with Millwall.
Leeds would rise to within three points of the play-offs, albeit temporarily, with victory in Saturday’s lunchtime game and they will kick off in ninth place after midweek losses suffered by Blackburn and Burnley left their league position unchanged.
Warnock seemed to be on the brink of parting company with United 10 days ago as public criticism of his performance as manager spiralled and his team drifted away from the top six but he insisted that Leeds had emerged from an embattled spell with new-found belief.
Warnock said: “We all knew the situation we were in. Everyone could see the pressure I was under, the players knew it, and we could have thrown it all in. I could have thrown it in. But I got them together and said ‘listen, I don’t want to finish up with the fans on my back.’
“From the players point of view, I don’t think they wanted to go through more nights like (Middlesbrough) either and in a strange way that period lifted a bit of the pressure. It was a case of ‘what the hell. Let’s play freely and see what we can do.’
“In the performances against Blackpool and Blackburn last week, I couldn’t see any nerves or anxiety at all. Other teams will be feeling it more than us. We’ve nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
Warnock admitted over the weekend that United’s prospects of overhauling a six-point gap to the Championship’s last play-off place would depend on them surviving the coming nine days in which the club host Millwall before travelling to Leicester City and Crystal Palace.
Leeds have been held back by persistently poor results away from home - no team in the league has claimed fewer away wins than United’s tally of three this season - but six of their final 10 matches will be played at Elland Road.
Warnock said: “This is a big week for us.
“We need points from the game against Millwall and we need points from the games at Leicester and Palace. That’s how it is for us now. But there’s a huge incentive for the players because if we manage that, we’ll go into the last 10 games with a shout.
“The way we’ve played in the last two games has been a breath of fresh air. I’m looking forward to going to Leicester and Palace because I know we’ll cope against those teams and at those grounds. That might not have been the case a week or so ago when everything was doom and gloom.
“The way we all felt back then, we just wanted to give it our all and see where the results took us. The last two games kept the glass half-full.”

The latest twist in the ownership saga

YEP 27/2/13
Ex-Leeds commerical director wants success with current rugby club, Hull FC. Phil Hay on the latest twist in Leeds’ ownership saga.
Adam Pearson brought attention on himself when, in an interview with Yorkshire Business Insider on February 7, he talked of returning to English football’s front line and named Leeds United as the ideal club to buy.
Through coincidence or not, the article was published in the same week as rumours of impending investment at Elland Road grew legs, some of them naming Pearson as a possible figure behind a firm offer to purchase Leeds. But the ex-Hull City chairman backed out of the spotlight yesterday, claiming the chance to run the Championship club was “not for me.”
Pearson’s latest comments were equivocal enough to imply that his interest in running Leeds is dormant rather than dead but they appeared to rule out the possibility of him featuring in or actively influencing on-going talks between potential investors and existing owner, GFH Capital. Suggestions that the Dubai-based firm is on the brink of selling a club it purchased less than nine weeks ago remain unconfirmed.
GFH Capital announced on February 10 that it had rejected a bid for a majority stake in Leeds, three days after Pearson appeared to express an interest in acquiring the club.
The offer was Yorkshire-based and, despite claims of Pearson’s close involvement, is believed to have been driven by local businessman Steve Parkin, the chairman of distribution firm Clipper Logistics. Parkin denied fronting the offer when contacted by the YEP but several sources have indicated that it was he rather than Pearson who made the grab for a large share in the Elland Road club earlier this month.
Pearson, who presently runs rugby league side Hull FC, sought to clarify his position yesterday, saying: “It’s a funny one because Hull FC is mine. I own the club, it’s my baby and I want to grow and develop it.
“Football is my business and I’ll always get rumours and connections in football as that’s my industry.
“Leeds is a club that I live close to and I’ve worked there before so I understand how big it is.
“But at this minute in time, it’s not for me. My focus is completely on Hull FC and my other business interests.
“There’ll be no movement to Elland Road in the near future.
“I’d like to squash those rumours once and for all. I’ve not made a single comment in the press about it and all my focus and financial backing is on this club (Hull).
“Certainly I won’t be leaving FC until there’s some silverware and we’re established as a top Super League club.
“I want to win something and try to get into the top four.”
Pearson was commercial director at Elland Road for a period of Peter Ridsdale’s reign as chairman and he has worked as chairman for both Hull City and Derby County since moving on from United.
He hinted strongly at an imminent return to the English game on February 7, saying: “I’ll definitely get back into football. I would like to go in with a consortium with a club that has huge potential. The one that stands out is Leeds.”
Both Pearson and Parkin have been involved in previous attempts to buy Leeds, with a Pearson-led consortium failing with a bid while United were in administration in 2007 and Parkin mounting a long but unsuccessful effort to gain control at Elland Road midway through 2004.
Led by Ken Bates, the Forward Sports Fund (FSF) became United’s new owner in 2005 before Bates himself bought a majority stake in April 2011, 20 months prior to the 100 per cent sale to GFH Capital.
Speculation about a third takeover at Elland Road in the space of two years has been encouraged by consistently sceptical analysis of the financial position of GFH Capital’s parent company, Bahraini investment bank Gulf Finance House.
Gulf Finance House’s result for 2012 – published on its website on Friday – showed an annual profit of less than £7million while appearing to show that GFH Capital paid around £21million to acquire Leeds from Bates on December 21. Executives at GFH Capital have faced repeated questions about how the firm financed its buy-out and how it intends to fund its strategy for United at a time when the club are suffering from cash-flow pressures.
GFH Capital injected a seven-figure sum into Leeds last week in order to “stabilise the club’s cash position.”
The company is open to the option of selling a 30 per cent stake in United in return for a substantial cash injection but, responding to questions submitted to it by the YEP last week, GFH Capital denied that it was interested in relinquishing control of United.
“We consider the club to have very good potential and wish to benefit when that potential is realised,” it said in reply.
Asked if Leeds would face unmanageable financial pressure without immediate investment, the company said: “No, it won’t. While we have the funds to take the club forward without the need for additional investors, we are of the belief that building a strong consortium of strategic investors will better serve and protect, and build our great club.”
GFH Capital also confirmed that the Yorkshire-based bid for a majority shareholding in Leeds had been rejected but United are still the subject of interest from that party and one other, a Saudi Arabian individual who hovered on the fringes of proceedings while GFH Capital closed out its own takeover in November.
United’s present owner continues to insist that it will remain in charge in the long term, and representatives of the firm – David Haigh and Salem Patel – took part in the first official board meeting since its takeover at Elland Road last Monday.
The meeting was followed by Leeds’ home match against Blackpool for which the club drastically reduced ticket prices and pulled in a crowd of more than 25,500, 4,000 up on this season’s average for league games. The club have not published comparative figures but gate receipts from home supporters are understood to have exceeded those for midweek clashes against Hull City and Leicester City earlier in the term – games which attracted attendances of 19,750 and 17,717 respectively.

Adam Pearson distances himself from Leeds United takeover rumours

Independent 26/2/13
Leeds' owners GFH Capital open to investment
Wayne Gardiner
Adam Pearson has distanced himself from a takeover of npower Championship side Leeds owing to his commitment to rugby league.
Pearson, the 49-year-old owner of Super League side Hull, has been widely linked with a move back to the club he used to serve as a director in recent weeks, having admitted he was keen on a return to football and that Leeds were a club which interested him.
With Leeds' owners GFH Capital - who completed their purchase of the club on December 21 - saying they are open to investment from the right partners, Pearson was thought to be someone who was looking to get involved.
But despite strong reports to the contrary, Pearson this morning told Hull FC Live that he is remaining at the KC Stadium. "It's a funny one because Hull FC is mine. I own the club, it's my baby and I want to grow and develop it. Football is my business and I'll always get rumours and connections in football as that's my industry," he said.
"Leeds is a club that I live close to and I've worked there before so I understand how big a club it is but at this minute in time, it's not for me. My focus is completely on Hull FC and my other business interests.
"There'll be no movement to Elland Road in the near future. This is my complete focus and so I'd like to squash those rumours once and for all. I've not made a single comment in the press about it and all my focus and financial backing is on this club."
Pearson took over at Hull in the summer of 2011 and has been robust in trying to establish the Black and Whites as one of the game's powerbrokers.
The signings of big names such as England forward Gareth Ellis have backed up his ambition, but with silverware yet to arrive, he concedes he still has work to do.
"I'm incredibly passionate about the club. Watching the team and the commitment and effort they put in, and the supporters are so passionate about the club, you can't help but reach those levels of passion yourself," he added.
"Certainly I won't be leaving FC until there's some silverware and we're established as a top Super League club. I want to win something and try to get into that top four.
"There are some really strong clubs who all want to do the same thing, with some good owners and some good coaches. We'll just keep battling away but it won't be a lack of effort or a lack of commitment if we don't reach those goals. We are going to be going all out to make sure we succeed here."
Last month Pearson gave an interview in which he said: "I will definitely get back into football. I would like to go in with a consortium with a club that has huge potential. The one that stands out is Leeds United."
Just days later, GFH Capital said they turned down a bid from a consortium, of which some believed Pearson to be a member, to buy a controlling interest in the club.

Tonge: How Leeds can getecrash Championship play-offs

Yorkshire Post 26/2/13
MICHAEL TONGE says Leeds United must get in touch with their caring side in their quest to gatecrash the Championship play-off picture.
The midfielder has impressed on his return to the first-team, which has helped yield a useful haul of four points in United’s past two matches against Blackburn Rovers and Blackpool and provide some much-needed relief following the desperate FA Cup exit at Manchester City.
But despite a presentable point at Ewood Park on Saturday, ninth-placed United failed to make inroads into the six-point gap between themselves and the final play-off position, now occupied by Brighton and Hove Albion following another setback for faltering Middlesbrough.
Ultimately, for the fourth league match in the last five, it represented another case of the ‘if only’s’ for United’s players, manager Neil Warnock and supporters who were again left to lament several gilt-edged opportunities going begging.
With the clock ticking and just 13 league games remaining this term – United need to manufacture a win glut fast with Warnock’s side currently 24 points – eight wins – away from the 70-point threshold, which has proved a minimal requirement for play-off entry over many years.
Tonge said: “I thought we dominated the game at Blackburn. We just needed to take a little bit more care in the final third and we would have scored a goal.
“I thought we played well as a team. Although we should have had a little bit more nous attacking-wise – if we had done that, we probably would have won.v “Even Blackburn’s most loyal fan would have admitted we deserved to win. But I think we have got to take the positives and move on to the next game against Millwall at home.
“If we can reproduce the Blackburn form from now until the end of the season, we will be there or thereabouts.”
Tonge has found that patience has proved to be a virtue after being recalled for the clash with Blackpool last Wednesday, with the 29-year-old – who signed permanently last month – making up for lost time by doing his bit to inspire a morale-boosting victory against the Seasiders and doing well again at Rovers.
Boss Warnock elected to stick with the successful 4-3-3 system he utilised against Blackpool for the clash at Blackburn three days later, with Tonge hoping United have struck upon a winner after the engine-room trio of himself, David Norris and Paul Green dovetailed adeptly and dominated their Rovers counterparts. He said: ”We have not played 4-3-3 that much this season. We played it against Blackpool partly because they played that way and we matched them up, but it is working alright.
“We are managing to get the ball down and move it to the lads up front with pace in Steve Morison and Varns (Luke Varney), with their running down the sides and Ross (McCormack). We have good options with the ball.
“We all played together in the middle earlier this season in a slightly different formation where Greeny was playing on the right. He is playing a little bit narrower now and Nozzer (David Norris) has moved more forward as one of his main strengths is getting into the box and scoring goals and he was dangerous versus Blackburn.”
On his returning to the starting fold, Tonge added: “On a personal note, it is nice to get back involved. In the last few games, I have enjoyed it.
”It’s been a little bit frustrating (not playing), but I understand it. The lads have been playing well.
“Really, we lost to Cardiff, draw at Wolves and lost to Middlesbrough when we really could have quite easily got nine points. “You have got to be patient and try to encourage the lads who are playing because at the end of the game, it is a squad game.”

Promotion still on Leeds agenda: Warnock

Yorkshire Post 25/2/13
NEIL Warnock insisted today that Leeds United would be poised for a strong finish to the season if they kept their promotion bid alive heading into the last 10 games.
Warnock said he was confident of a late surge from his team after Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Blackburn Rovers but warned that their chance of making the play-offs rested on forthcoming matches against Millwall, Crystal Palace and Leicester City.
Leeds have 13 fixtures remaining and their goalless stalemate at Ewood Park – a game in which missed chances cost Warnock’s side dearly – maintained a six-point gap between the club and the Championship’s play-off zone.
Warnock was enthused by another strong performance, conceding that United’s away form through much of this season had been “diabolical”, and he claimed that Leeds would be well-placed for the run-in if they make the most of this weekend’s clash with Millwall and subsequent visits to Palace and Leicester.
Six of the United’s final 10 matches will be played at Elland Road, a venue where they have taken 32 points from a possible 48 this term. “We can win every game,” Warnock said. “That’s how I feel now. I don’t think there’s a game coming up that we can’t win.
“We’ve got Leicester and Crystal Palace away after Millwall at home and they’re a tough few games but I still think that in the 10 games following that we’ve got great opportunities.
“It’s a wide-open division and we’ve got this team together in time to give everyone a game, home and away. If we’d had this team from the start of the season we’d have done better and been higher in the league.
“Away from home, a couple of our games have been diabolical but I could take this team anywhere. I’m looking forward to going to Leicester and Palace.”
Leeds dominated a poor Blackburn side at Ewood Park but opportunities wasted by Tom Lees, Ross McCormack and Luke Varney denied them a precious victory.

Blackburn Rovers v Leeds United: Resilient Whites just lack a cutting edge

YEP 25/2/13
By Phil Hay
It was possible at the start of last week that Leeds United’s manager was days away from becoming an ex-Leeds United manager.
Neil Warnock could see a scenario where he woke up this morning unemployed, unattached and packed off to Cornwall.
Instead, his players dug deep enough to claw four points from two games and delay a separation which, to gauge by Warnock’s comments, will come to pass if and when Leeds no longer have an interest in the play-offs. He left Ewood Park on Saturday night with mixed emotions: underwhelmed by the result but pleased with the week behind him.
United’s goalless draw with Blackburn Rovers – their first goalless draw since Warnock’s first game as manager, 12 months and 55 matches ago – was taken from the chapter of the textbook entitled “goals win matches”. His players were organised, aggressive and defensively sound but incapable of drawing blood. Warnock counted three instances which looked to him like gift-wrapped chances, the best falling to Ross McCormack early in the second half.
Three months ago, their performance at Ewood Park would have represented encouraging progress but Leeds are counting down fixtures at a rapid rate and running out of time to profit from their improvement.
Middlesbrough, a club who lost their bottle in 2012, relinquished sixth place on Saturday after another defeat but still retained a five-point start on United.
Little wonder that Warnock was inclined to talk about the two that got away in Lancashire.
“We were super at the back and good in midfield,” Warnock said, “but you’ve got to take your chances. Tom Lees should have scored, Ross McCormack should have scored, Luke Varney should have scored.
“But this side has only played together for two games on the trot and if I’d had this side from the start of the season, we’d be a lot higher up the table. I’m pleased we’ve got 13 games left to have a go.
“We’ve come away from home to a tough place, dominated large parts of the game and gone away disappointed. It’s a start.”
February 23 was late in the day for Warnock to be talking about a start. It is not long since United’s boss – out of contract in June – was talking in a manner which suggested he was finished. The 64-year-old is more than 50 matches into his tenure and might have no more than 13 left but he gave the impression at Ewood Park of a coach who had finally established an agreeable line-up.
United’s win over Blackpool last Wednesday decreed that Warnock should name an unchanged team, trusting again in the attacking tendencies of central midfielders Michael Tonge and David Norris and the hard, forward running of McCormack, Varney and Steve Morison. As it did against Blackpool, the formation hemmed Blackburn in and exposed the fragility of a team who, their recent results notwithstanding, are the epitome of a paper tiger.
Tonge and Norris bullied a veteran in Danny Murphy whose star is dimming and a junior in Ryan Lowe whose star is still to properly rise, giving Leeds a monopoly on possession. Blackburn’s moment came and went on the hour when Lee Peltier coughed up the ball to Murphy and opened the door for Jordan Rhodes to run forward and shake the side-netting.
Otherwise, Rovers’ £8m striker was sacrificed in a hopeless pursuit of chances.
Nothing in Blackburn’s broken display suggested that their dalliance with promotion is any more credible than United’s. Their new manager, Michael Appleton, was philosophical at full-time.
“When I walked into the club, no-one had any thoughts of getting in the play-offs,” he said. “Then you win a couple of games and people start to talk about it.
“It was a good game to watch and a good game to be involved in.
“You could see it was a game that both teams wanted to win. But if either side got a winner, it might have been harsh on the other.”
In respect of his own players, Appleton was being generous. They were on the wrong end of most of the fixture’s chances and spared only by United’s inconclusive finishing.
The chance from six yards which Lees scuffed into the hands of Blackburn goalkeeper Jake Kean after five minutes of the game was a sign of things to come.
Paddy Kenny had his own saves to make but nothing beyond the routine. Colin Kazim-Richards forced him into a diving block with a volley from 16 yards midway through the first half but the threat to Kenny was meagre. Kean, in contrast, found himself exposed on enough occasions for Warnock to believe that a goal should have come.
McCormack had the opportunity of the afternoon on 48 minutes, played into space inside Kean’s box by Morison after Kazim-Richards lost the ball in a tackle on the halfway line. McCormack took a touch and steadied himself but cracked a shot into the advertising hoardings behind Kean’s net.
Warnock sensed that Leeds’s moment would arrive again and it did, dropping to Varney in the final 10 minutes.
Again, the winger snatched at the ball and scuffed it into Kean’s gloves with Appleton’s defence in disarray. A full bench sat behind Warnock but he chose to resist any substitutions and turn a deaf ear to chants of “Warnock, make a change” from the away crowd.
It seemed churlish to criticise him on an afternoon when his players let Blackburn slip the hook, despite manoeuvring Appleton’s side into the position where United wanted them.
Warnock was in no mood to talk about promotion afterwards, saying: “We’re a long way from that. I’m just glad to be in a job this week!
“It’s just one game at a time for us. Lose last Wednesday and lose on Saturday and I’d have been in Cornwall on Monday. So I’ll worry about anything else later.”

Sunday, February 24, 2013

"Leeds to be sold again next week" -Castles

To Ell and Back 24/2/13
Sunday Times journalist Duncan Castle's reckons the club will be sold again next week to a consortium consisting of former whites' director Adam Pearson and Saudi Arab investors.
Castles writes today "THE Leeds United manager Neil Warnock could soon find himself working for a third set of owners in one season. The Championship club are close to being taken over for the second time in a little over two months after a round of negotiations between the current owners, Gulf Finance House, and a consortium fronted by the former Hull City chairman Adam Pearson. According to sources, a Share Purchase Agreement was drawn up between the two parties last week in preparation for a scheduled completion meeting."
Castles believes Leeds could be under new ownership again as early as next week!
However I understand GFH Capital, Leeds current new owners have described the story as "100% incorrect" and are consulting their lawyers.
It has not been an easy nine weeks or so for GFH since they seized control of the club from Ken Bates. Although two of their directors Salem Patel and David Haigh went on a fans charm-offensive largely instigated on twitter, cracks soon appeared.
The decision to retain Bates as Chairman and appoint him as honorary President was heavily criticised by many supporters who campaigned for Bates to sell the club. Questions were also raised as to whether or not GFH had the funds to move the club forward as our moves in the January transfer market were largely funded by the sale of Luciano Becchio to Norwich.
I honestly feel that GFH both under-estimated the size of the task and the collective anxiety of the fans, who's expectations demand a return to the Premiership.
I think Adam Pearson, who has publicly spoken about wanting to invest in Leeds would be welcomed by many, myself included as he is a proven winner and experienced football man not a grey suited banker working between Beeston and Bahrain looking utterly ridiculous draped in bright white scarves!
If GFH do "flip" and make themselves a nice little earner, it would be one in the eye for Bates too!
Although it is likely they will dismiss Castles story, it is no secret GFH seek and need other investors on board and everything has its price. Although they have turned-down a bid from a consortium believed to be fronted by Pearson I wouldn't be surprised if he came back with another offer following his very public comments three weeks ago.

Leeds take a point from bore draw at Blackburn

To Ell And Back 24/2/13
Tim Whelan
Our goalless draw with Blackburn Rovers wasn’t the most enthralling of encounters, with Leeds dominating the possession but lacking the cutting edge we needed to take advantage.
Before the kick-off this seemed to be shaping up to be a great day out, with large numbers of Leeds fans in town and the police taking a relaxed attitude as we took over the ‘Postal Order’ Wetherspoons and made great noise. And inside Ewood Park the big screen showed the goals from our immensely enjoyable 2-1 victory here in 2004, which remains to this day our last away win in the Premier League.
But then the match began. Neil Warnock opted to start with the same eleven players who began the victory over Blackpool in midweek, and at seemed to be working as we enjoyed a lot of possession right from the start. But the trouble was that Blackburn were content to drop very deep for a home team and we had to break them down, and we spent much of the time passing the ball round outside the area, looking for an opening that never came.
The result of all this was that the game developed into a dour struggle with the two sides putting plenty of effort into the game but very few decent chances being created. The best two chances of the first half came when Lees forced Kean into a good save from a corner, while Kenny was alert at the other end to deny Kazim-Richards when Blackburn finally did venture forward.
It goes without saying that the 3,500 Leeds fans were making most of the noise, while the crowd was looking a bit sparse in most of the home stand. The only Blackburn fans making any noise was a small group down in the corner nearest to our stand, and a few of those were teenage girls.
The second half was a little bit more eventful, and it began with a great chance when McCormack was put through on the left hand side of the box, but with the ball on his weaker foot he could only put it into the side netting. But on the hour we presented Blackburn with an excellent chance of their own.
A Blackburn fan at work had warned me that although they might bore us to death, but if we gave the prolific Jordan Rhodes an opportunity he was likely to punish us. And so it nearly came to pass, as Peltier slipped and gave the ball away in the centre and it was played out to Rhodes down the right the Rovers talisman tried a shot that curled in towards the bottom corner, but thankfully ended up in the side netting.
Leeds kept pressing with Varney working hard down the right, and he was unlucky to have one shot saved and another blocked. But we could have done with some fresh legs to try and get a breakthrough in the closing stages, but Warnock opted not to use any substitutes. Morison was starting to struggle a bit and still looking a bit short of fitness, so maybe Diouf could have had a brief cameo to give us the bit of invention we needed.
Instead we had a bit of defending to do as Blackburn finally woke up with time running out, and it would have been cruel if we’d lost to a late goal after dominating the possession for much of the game. Thankfully we didn’t, with Kenny making a good save from Rhodes and the defence rallying round to block several other Rovers attacks.
This result probably isn’t much good to either side, with both needing three points to close the gap on the top six from their mid-table positions. Earlier in the season we might have been happy with a draw in this fixture, but we’re starting to run out of games, and our chances of making the play-offs are starting to look more and more remote.

Blackburn Rovers v Leeds United: Warnock longs for a Whites cutting edge

YEP 23/2/13
LEEDS United manager Neil Warnock felt a lack of cutting edge undermined an impressive effort from his players in the goalless npower Championship draw at Blackburn.
United enjoyed the better of the chances but could not make it back-to-back wins following their 2-0 triumph over Blackpool on Wednesday night.
Warnock felt the tangible sense of disappointment in the visiting dressing room afterwards was indicative of a fine performance.
“You don’t tend to come away to Blackburn, end up 0-0 and be as disappointed as we are,” he said.
“I don’t know how we’ve not won the game really. I never thought they were going to score, even at the death when they had a couple of corners.
“I thought we were super at the back, did well in midfield - you’ve just got to take your chances.
“When I’ve looked at the chances - Lee (Peltier) should have scored when he mishit it into the goalie, Ross McCormack should have scored, Luke Varney should have scored.
“It’s a start because we asked them to give a performance like they did on Wednesday night against Blackpool - they were super against Blackpool.
“Away from home, in a couple of games we’ve been diabolical but this side’s only played together two games on the trot and if I’d had this side from the start of the season we’d be a lot higher.”
Warnock remains on the lookout for attacking reinforcements in the loan market but no deals are close to being completed.
He then went on to praise the efforts of forward trio Varney, McCormack and Steve Morison.
“We probably need another striker/winger type to give us that little bit but I don’t think I can fault anything,” said Warnock.
“Away from home you’ve got to start with the front lads and we’ve not had front lads who’ve worked like that this season.
“Varney’s come back and hit a good vein, Morison works his socks off and Ross is doing the best he can.
“He’s working harder than he’s ever done. He’s disappointed he didn’t score that opportunity that Morison set up for him.”
Warnock had to endure calls for his head from Leeds’ travelling supporters during last weekend’s 4-0 FA Cup defeat to Manchester City and he refused to take his immediate future for granted.
“I just take one game at a time,” he added. “If we’d lost on Wednesday and lost today I’d have been in Cornwall on Monday.”
Blackburn manager Michael Appleton revealed afterwards that midfielder Dickson Etuhu is set to miss the rest of the season due to a recurrence of his medial knee ligament injury this week and full-back Martin Olsson will be sidelined for a month after a ball struck him in training yesterday and caused internal bleeding in his eye.
Colin Kazim-Richards added his name to the casualty list, limping off with an ankle problem early in the second half to deal a further blow to Rovers’ play-off hopes.
Blackburn sit seven points behind sixth-placed Brighton in 10th, a point and a position shy of Leeds, but Appleton believes they could mount a late charge following a fifth clean sheet in his ninth game at the helm.
“When I walked into the football club nobody had any thoughts whatsoever about getting into the play-offs,” he said.
“I think a lot of the damage was done before I arrived but, saying that, there’s 13 games to go.
“The message to the players after the game was you just need to keep knocking on the door.
“If you keep knocking on the door and asking questions hopefully someone will slip up, and generally someone does.
“There’s still a lot of games to go and if we’re still in and around it with six or seven games to go, that’s the time to really start putting the pressure on.”

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Blackburn 0 Leeds United 0: Promotion hopefuls play out bore draw

Mail 23/2/13
By Dominic Farrell, Press Association
Blackburn and Leeds played out an uneventful goalless draw at Ewood Park - a result that does little for either side's npower Championship play-off hopes.
Leeds pinned the hosts into their own half for much of the early action but the only save of note in the opening 45 minutes came when Paddy Kenny denied Rovers forward Colin Kazim-Richards.
Ross McCormack wasted Leeds' best chance shortly after half-time while Blackburn's top scorer Jordan Rhodes brought Ewood Park to its feet with a shot into the side netting.
Rovers returned to their miserly defensive ways following Tuesday night's 2-0 defeat at Hull to keep a fifth clean sheet in nine games under Michael Appleton but strike pairing Rhodes and DJ Campbell were badly starved of service.
It was a similar story for Leeds, whose attacks lacked the bite given to them by Luciano Becchio before his deadline day move to Norwich.
If Middlesbrough beat Millwall in this evening's late kick-off, Neil Warnock's Whites will lie eight points shy of the top six with 13 games to play - one more than Boro - and a point ahead of Blackburn, who also hold a game in hand.
David Bentley was handed a first start since returning to Blackburn on loan from Tottenham , as was QPR loanee Campbell as injured duo Lee Williamson and Martin Olsson made way - the latter absent after being hit in his eye by a ball during training yesterday.
Warnock named an XI unchanged from Wednesday night's 2-0 triumph over Blackpool.
Leeds set about a lethargic Blackburn in the opening exchanges as Grant Hanley twice blocked bravely from McCormack and Tom Lees connected tamely with the same player's left-wing corner when well placed.
Hanley got himself in the way once more to thwart Steve Morison in the 17th minute and Luke Varney shanked the rebound wide from the edge of the area.
Blackburn struggled to get up to speed but Kazim-Richards collected Danny Murphy's pass to force a fine save, low to his left, from Kenny before the half hour.
A further wave of Leeds pressure followed before Rovers belatedly enjoyed a period of sustained possession. Chances were not forthcoming.
McCormack spurned a golden opportunity two minutes after half-time when Morison found him with space and time in the Blackburn box, only to fire wide of the near post.
Rhodes, a peripheral figure for the first hour, nearly opened the scoring after Murphy dispossessed Lee Peltier and his side-footed effort rippled the side netting.
The game became slightly stretched in its final quarter and Blackburn centre-back Scott Dann almost put through his own goal, glancing McCormack's cross behind in the 72nd minute as Leeds counter attacked to good effect.
Chances arrived at either end for Michael Tonge and Rhodes in the final 10 minutes but Kenny and opposite number Jake Kean would not be beaten.

Leeds United boosts GFH's profit

National 23/2/13
Sean Cronin
Leeds United Football Club is helping its heavily indebted Bahrain-based owner repay creditors.
Gulf Finance House reported US$10 million (Dh36.7m) in profits for last year with receipts from the Championship club emerging as one of the biggest contributors to earnings in the fourth quarter.
In 2011, GFH had barely scraped into the black with a profit of $380,000. "Despite the slowdown in the international, regional and local economies, we at GFH have met the challenges and have continued to maintain its growth momentum and remain profitable," said Esam Janahi, the chairman of GFH.
The Manama-based Islamic investment bank has restructured hundreds of millions of dollars in debt after it was hit by losses from a number of soured property deals in the wake of the 2009 financial crisis. It said it had made progress in extending terms on a number of loan facilities. The bank said it had successfully restructured the $45m remaining debt on a facility worth $100m.
It also obtained approval from its sukuk holders to restructure its outstanding debt amounting to $105m.
All debts will now mature by 2018, the bank said in a statement.
GFH had a net profit before provision of $12.9m during the fourth quarter of last year with net profit after provision of $2.5m.
That compared to a net loss of $4m in 2011. The bank attributed the gain to income generated by Leeds United, which it acquired last year through its Dubai-based unit, GFH Capital.
The company wants to return the club to the English Premier League in an effort to avail itself of increased revenues from a renegotiation of television broadcasting rights.
The move has drawn criticism from some commentators.
"We find it uninspiring for creditors that GFH can continue to restructure its debts while at the same time magically and rapidly sourcing enough capital to take over a sports team," wrote analysts at Exotix, the distressed-debt specialist, in a report last month.

Leeds United: Long fight just beginning to capture hearts and minds of fans

YEP 23/2/13
By Phil Hay
On Wednesday, GFH Capital channelled a sum in excess of £1m into Leeds United. This, the company said, was to “stabilise the club’s financial position.” Or to put it another way, plug a hole in the accounts.
When the Football League introduces the full remit of Financial Fair Play, that solution to cash shortages will have its limits. Next season, owners of Championship clubs can invest a maximum of £6m, falling to £5m in 2013-14 and £3m the following year. The Football League will wave a transfer embargo at anyone who breaches those boundaries.
So Leeds United need to raise their income and stem the haemorrhage of money outlined by their last set of financial results. The club have a high turnover by Championship standards – over £30m – and a modest wage bill in percentage terms but player sales subsidised an operating loss of £3.3m in 2011-12. Judging by Wednesday’s cash injection, GFH Capital is now meeting the shortfall. Only the firm can say how long it can afford to keep doing so.
Certain millstones are too heavy to shift: the annual rent paid for Elland Road and Thorp Arch – unless GFH Capital follows through with pre-takeover hints that it would buy one or both properties – and the commitment to using income from next season’s season tickets to pay for the contentious redevelopment of Elland Road’s East Stand.
Savings elsewhere should be possible, not least among £5.2m of “unknown” administrative expenses. But Leeds in their present state cannot thrive. If cash from GFH Capital is needed to stabilise United, rather than take them forward, the club must either stand still or find another way.
The immediate answer? Ask the empty seats at Elland Road; the same seats that Leeds were too often willing to leave flapping in the wind so long as their break-even attendance was met. In the mind’s eye, the path to pots of gold ends at the door of the Premier League and high-end sponsors – take a look at Manchester City’s sponsors for the definition of high-end – but neither will help GFH Capital in the interim. Additional investment aside, the company can only look to a woefully under-nurtured support to raise United’s revenue. As Wednesday night showed, it already has.
The promotion of cut-price tickets at Elland Road was so long overdue as to be laughable. Like the introduction of half-season tickets in a ground which sits half-empty, you can only guess why no-one bothered before.
Clubs can name their price for a premium product when supply outstrips demand. Any fool knows that a Championship team who are struggling to suck 20,000 into a 38,000-capacity stadium would benefit from self-promotion.
The figures on Wednesday were thus: a crowd increased by 4,000 on this season’s average for league games and 6,000 higher than the attendance seen at United’s defeat to Cardiff City.
There were ample reasons not to bother with their meeting with Blackpool and many would have used them had usual category prices demanded that adults pay £30-plus. Instead, the atmosphere was enhanced.
Ken Bates always argued against these promotions on the basis that money lost through reductions was rarely recouped by increased sales and other income and the financial workings of all this is not irrelevant. But the absence of these schemes in each and every season since United’s relegation from the Premier League has been criminal. Breaking even is fine until the day you wake up to find that the accounts are in the red and supporters who said they would walk away were not making idle threats.
It is sobering to imagine how many would-be fans have been lost to the past 10 years; kids who were never hooked and never will be. This has been the worst time to shun pro-activity, a period in which there has been saturation coverage of professional football. How many impressionable youngsters will have watched televised coverage of Leeds United’s FA Cup tie at Manchester City and decided that the team in white were worth following? How many would rather sample the Etihad?
I live near a young City fan, Yorkshire-born and bred. When he saw me last Sunday, he asked: “Do you have to watch that every week?” Touché. But the experience of attending Elland Road, which many had on Wednesday, should engender a different attitude and a firmer sense of loyalty. Leeds are a club who, for many years, have reaped what they’ve sown.
In one respect, Bates is right. Selling tickets at £15 for adults and £5 for juniors 23 times a season is unfeasible. Nor is it fair on season-ticket holders.
When GFH Capital comes to sell season tickets, it might find that prices are only part of the battle. No less influential will be clarity over Neil Warnock’s position, the company’s plan for replacing him as manager and the credibility of its promises for a first summer in charge. Much as it sought to deal with media inquiries this week, including questions from this newspaper, the answers were nowhere near candid enough.
To its credit, the company seems to have grasped the severity of one of United’s many shortcomings and shown some understanding of the fact that properly exploiting a fan base is not the same as fleecing it. This is a long fight but it had to start somewhere.

Gulf Finance House net profit hits $10 million

Gulf Daily news 22/2/13
MANAMA: Gulf Finance House (GFH) yesterday reported a net profit of $10.03 million last year as compared to $0.38m in 2011.
The bank attributed profitability in 2012 to income from profitable investments as well as significant restructuring.
During the fourth quarter of 2012, GFH posted a net profit before provision of $12.9m with net profit after provision of $2.5m as compared to a net loss of $4m for the corresponding previous period.
This is due to income generated from the Leeds United football club investment and others.
"The results are a testimony to the determination of the board and executive management to turning around the bank positively following the financial crisis," GFH chairman Esam Janahi said.
"Despite the international, regional and local slowdown, we have met the challenges and have continued to maintain growth momentum and remain profitable.
Operating profit before provisions for the year saw an increase of 140 per cent to $20.43m compared to $8.5m in 2011.
Additionally, the bank saw a 31pc year-on-year reduction in operating costs from $62.87m to $43.15m, mainly due to streamlined operations and reduced facilities.
"The positive results come from our streamlining approach implemented in 2012, which resulted in a restructuring of investments. The value of this can be seen in the overall profitability," acting chief executive Hisham Alrayes said.
During the year, GFH successfully restructured the $45m remaining debt on a syndicated wakala facility worth $100m.
In addition, the bank also obtained approval from sukuk holders to restructure outstanding debt amounting to $105m.
GFH also obtained Westlb Syndicates approval to restructure $80m remaining from a $300m facility.
"Over the last 12 months we settled more than $100m of debt. All debts will mature now gradually by 2018 and will provide us with a two-year grace period for the repayment of the principal.
"This resulted in stronger liquidity position by the end of last year," Mr Alrayes added.
In 2012, GFH made significant forward movement on existing projects which stresses the bank's commitment to existing infrastructure projects and achieving successful investor exits.
Positive news came in the form of a reiteration by the new Tunisian government to support Tunisia Financial Harbour project and the underlying critical adjustments to adapt to the changing market conditions for The Royal Ranches Marrakech.
The bank progressed on all fronts and supported investments to foresee early partial investment redemption for Mumbai Economic Development Zone clients.
Furthermore, GFH undertook new investments, which indicates entrepreneurial initiative in exploring new areas and establishing new standards.

Warnock calls for more of the same from Leeds

Yorkshire Post 23/2/13
Neil Warnock has challenged his Leeds United players to replicate the form they showed in midweek in the dispensing of Blackpool.
United turned in arguably one of their more polished performances of the season in ruining Paul Ince’s first game in charge of the Seasiders.
But if they are to prove that the 2-0 win was not a flash in the pan, and that there is life left in them in the race for the play-offs, then the manager wants them to repeat that performance at Blackburn today, and beyond.
“It’s one of those now where we’ve got to get the same level of performance,” said Warnock.
“We’re playing a top team, but Blackpool are a good team and three out of the next four are probably the toughest three games we could have away from home – Blackburn, Leicester, Palace.
“It’s going to be a test of us now, but I do think we’re a better side now than we’ve been for a long time. But this (stretch) will put us to the test because all three of these teams have got to fancy being in the play-offs.”
One of the main reasons why Leeds find themselves six points adrift of the top six is their away form. From their 16 road trips in the Championship they have garnered just three wins and four draws, with nine defeats the prominent statistic.
To improve their fortunes on the road, Warnock said: “We have to be better on the ball, better up front. When our forwards play well you tend to think that we play well, and that hasn’t happened of late away from home.”
Gulf Finance House, the parent company of Leeds United owner GFH Capital, have announced a profit of around £6.5m for 2012. The Bahraini investment bank made $10.03m in the past 12 months, up from $0.38m in 2011.
Gulf Finance House is technically the owner of Leeds having authorised executives of GFH Capital to lead the takeover of the Championship club last year.
Gulf Finance House’s latest balance sheet shows that around £21m was spent on the “acquisition of subsidiary”, a possible indication of the true cost of buying out ex-Leeds owner Ken Bates.
The subsidiary concerned is described as “held for sale”, a term which often indicates a plan to sell the asset in the near future.

Neil Warnock: I’ve already said if Leeds United don’t get promotion I’m going to leave

Independent 22/2/13
What I Learnt This Week
Neil Warnock
I went shopping on Thursday. When I picked up some toilet roll it was a packet of six. Sharon said: ‘Don’t you think you should just get two!’...
...we both started laughing. Two blokes alongside us started laughing.
I said: "We've got Blackburn, Leicester and Palace coming up away from home so you're right, we'd better make it a two."
Don't get me wrong, I want to stay at Leeds as long as I can. We have 15 games left and 15 games is a lot of points to play for. I think the play-offs are still a possibility. I'd like any manager to get more out of the group of players than I did against Blackpool; they gave me everything.
One report said: "The contest opened up in front of a sparse Elland Road crowd..." – 25,500 on a Wednesday, on a freezing cold night! It was a fabulous crowd. The new owners put the prices down and it was fabulous to get that many there.
After Sunday's FA Cup defeat to Manchester City, it was good to get back to winning ways. I thought it was a fabulous result and the performance was as well. We have to get wins to get back into it. Anything but a win would have been a disaster. We got the win and I think the fans appreciated that.
The away fans were right behind the dugout. I could hear them singing: "Neil Warnock is a so and so". I turned around to where our fans were sitting and I said: "Is that the Blackpool fans or our fans?" They all laughed.
I have got to take it. Yes, I want to win. I do feel we've been unlucky. I don't feel I warrant such criticism. At the Etihad I didn't warrant the fans' abuse. They were a team that cost £250m and ours cost £1.2m.
I decided after Man City that not only was I going to try and win the next game, against Blackpool, but that I was going to try and enjoy it as much as I could.
I didn't let my family go to the Blackpool game. The manager's job is difficult enough and if the fans do turn on you, you don't want your family listening to it all. They wanted to come, but I said: "I'd rather you stop away tonight."
Management is a lonely job sometimes. I can't complain, though. I've had a good career. I've not been out of work long!
I think I started to develop a thick skin early doors. Managers don't like to hear it when they get stick, I don't care what anyone says, but you have to get used to it. At some stage you will get the sack or you will leave a club. I think you have to have a thick skin and a sense of humour.
I've already said if we don't get promotion I'm going to leave. I won't change that. At a time when a lot of managers are on a long contract and they cost clubs a lot of money, Leeds have got a good deal with me – my contract ends at the end of this season.
As for the shopping, how many loo rolls did I leave the shop with? I took a pack of two!

2. On William watch
I had a chat with Paul Ince before and after we played Blackpool on Wednesday. I admire Paul for going to Macclesfield when he started as a manager. I thought it was a no-win situation and I admired him for doing it.
He's had ups and downs in his managerial career, but you get that. I think Blackburn Rovers was too early for him. There was too much politics behind the scenes there.
Sometimes, as a manager, when you go to a club you don't really have a chance from the start. I think that's how it was for Paul at Blackburn.
He told me he'd enjoyed his time out watching his son play. I said to him, "I've got to be honest, I'm looking forward to doing that."
I'm looking forward to watching William play. He's in the academy at Plymouth Argyle. As he gets older I'm hopeful I can have a good few years watching him play.
I must admit when he was in the under-10s I went to watch him play and it was so simple what they had to do to win the game. I'm shouting on and he's telling me to be quiet. It was only five-a-side and they lost. He said to me after the game: "I don't want you to come any more!"
So for William's sake I have to get Leeds promoted!

3. Jose loves the Blues
There's only one club for Jose Mourinho and I think it's Chelsea. I think they'll get back together, them two!
I think the love affair is ready to start again. They drifted, but they can get back together.
He's the type of bloke that could soon make up with them. It's sometimes better the devil you know and he will be supported.
I hope Roberto Mancini keeps his job at Manchester City. I think he's done a great job. He's transformed that club.

4. I'm The Gaffer
I've had meetings with my publisher, Headline Publishing, this week about my new book, The Gaffer.
I've been a bit unlucky in that the last two clubs I've been at have had takeovers, first at QPR and then Leeds. That creates a lot of problems and issues for you to deal with. It's interesting to talk about them, and some of it is surprising. Anyway, it's out in June.

Blame the players, not the boss – McCormack

Yorkshire Post 22/2/13
By Leon Wobschall
ROSS McCormack has urged Leeds United supporters not to lay the blame for the club’s indifferent recent results at the door of Neil Warnock – and says the players are culpable.
United got their act together in highly-impressive fashion in Wednesday’s 2-0 home win over Blackpool which ended a four-match winless streak and kept their play-off hopes alive.
While it was a key win in the context of United’s season, it was also for their under-fire manager, berated by fans in the recent defeats to Manchester City and Middlesbrough – which striker McCormack feels was unfair.
He said: “We wanted to win for the supporters and for the gaffer too.
“The stick he has been getting has not been nice and (the blame) it is really down to the players. The gaffer puts us on the pitch to go and deliver a performance.
“Unfortunately, managers always get the blame. But it is really the players.”
The much-needed home triumph moved United up four places to ninth and within six points of sixth-placed Boro with a game in hand ahead of tomorrow’s big Roses clash at top-six rivals Blackburn Rovers.
And while you would still get healthy odds on United gatecrashing the top six by season’s end, McCormack wants everyone to keep believing.
He said: “Anything is possible. I have been at the other end of it and in the play-offs all season with Cardiff and fallen out on the last day. The day you stop believing is the day you should not be a footballer.
“We have a good group of lads who want to work hard and do well and we believe we can do it.”
Meanwhile, Whites chief Warnock has revealed that while he may be destined for managerial retirement if United do not clinch promotion this term, staying in the game as an adviser to young bosses in future years would seriously appeal to him.
The 64-year-old said: “I do fancy helping a younger manager out or something like that. An in-between.
“I do not think there is much liaison between a board of directors and managers. I think it is them and us, but there is an opportunity for me to use experience, without me screaming at referees and linesmen.
“I will still keep my hand out and come out every January until May to keep a team up.
“I will be a Red Adair of football. I won’t be able to leave it. I’ve got quite a bit of media stuff to do, but I do enjoy the cut and thrust.”

Leeds United players have apologised to me for poor form - Neil Warnock

Bradford Telegraph & Argus 21/2/13
Leeds United manager Neil Warnock has admitted that some of his players have apologised to him after they had only taken one point from three recent npower Championship games.
In the aftermath of United’s 2-0 home win over Blackpool on Wednesday, the 64-year-old, who has said that he is unlikely to be at Elland Road beyond the end of this season unless they get promotion, said of his players: “They were aware of the situation involving myself, and over the past few weeks a few of them have apologised because we should have had nine points from the three league games before Wednesday night.
“To take just one is criminal but that’s how it is.”
However, he added: “But I can’t fault any of them this time. They gave me everything.
"They say it is never over until the fat lady sings and we have plenty of points to play for.
“We’ve got the best side since I have been here. We’re lacking a Snodgrass or a Thomas to change the game but (Steve) Morison was outstanding and the back lads too – you never saw (Lee) Peltier he was that good.
“People talk about a different manager but can you find another who will get a performance like that out of them?”
Second-half goals by David Norris and Steve Morison gave Leeds their first league win in four games, reviving hopes of a top-six spot.
Warnock said: “I couldn’t pick a star. They were all nine or ten out of ten.
“Paddy (Kenny) made a couple of great saves and I couldn’t see him being beaten.
“We played with a freedom we haven’t shown for a while and go to Blackburn on Saturday in a lot better spirit.”

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Neil’s not a quitter but his honest words were surely spoken in haste

YEP 21/2/13
By Peter Lorimer
It is Neil Warnock prerogative to take decisions about his career, his future and his job at Leeds United.
I read his comments after Sunday’s defeat to Manchester City and he was very honest in his views.
But I think it might have been better to have waited until the club were completely out of the running for the play-offs before speaking like that. It felt a bit like giving in too early.
I often wonder how sensible it is for managers to speak to the press so soon after the end of a game because emotions run high and you are forced to speak in haste about subjects which need serious consideration.
It might be that Neil said what he wanted to say at the Etihad but I do wonder if, by the time he got home, his mood had changed.
I’m not blind to what’s going on and all of us can see the criticism he’s taking but talking as he did on Sunday made it sound like the season is over.
It’s not in great shape, that much is true, but nor are the play-offs an impossible ask either.
To throw the towel in early would do a massive favour to a few sides who are making hard work of claiming sixth place themselves.
Look at Middlesbrough. They beat us last week but that match aside, they’ve struggled to pick up a point. What a shot in the arm it must be to them to hear that Leeds United are admitting defeat. One less team and one less rival to worry about.
Put it this way, as of last weekend we had 15 league matches left. That’s a total of 45 points to play for.
Yes, it’s asking a lot to get up to 70 or 75 but I’d like to think that the players will have a go for it as long as they have a chance.
And I suspect that despite what Neil said in Manchester, he’ll have gone back into Thorp Arch and fired the squad up. I really don’t think he’ll let promotion go until it’s gone.
The abuse of him at the Etihad must have been hard to take. Let’s be honest, it’s been building up over a number of weeks and it wasn’t really a reaction to the FA Cup tie itself but it’s galling for a manager to have to listen to that when his side are being outclassed by a team as good as City.
I came away from the tie with no doubt about the gulf between the position we’re in now and the level that a club like City are playing at.
It’s a phenomenal difference. They’ve got world-class quality in every position and the ability of their front two, Tevez and Aguero, is superb.
Leeds were given no chance and, realistically, they were never likely to have much chance. What they’ve done in the cup this season – upsetting quite a few Premier League sides – has been really impressive. It’s easy to forget that when so much attention is paid to the league.
Sunday was one of those days when criticism was uncalled for.
But I do understand the frustration of the fans. They’re seeing another season getting away from the club and, understandably, they’re not very happy about that.
I’ve said before that I don’t think this is purely about Neil. The frustration has built up for so many reasons over such a long period of time and he’s the guy in the firing line.
It’s one of the many reasons why I never fancied management. The difficult times must be tough to cope with.
He seemed a bit resigned to his fate on Sunday but I’ll say this – Neil Warnock is not a quitter and I don’t expect him to walk out on this job, not while there’s a slim chance of turning the season on its head.
We’ve got a pretty big squad and a fully-fit squad and underneath it all I still believe Neil would love to create a situation when his team are making everyone else in the Championship think.
Those teams immediately above Leeds can’t aim for anything higher than sixth place now but when I look at Boro I see a very vulnerable side.
We’re at Blackburn on Saturday and that’s another six-pointer which could change things significantly in our favour. It’s a lot of ifs and buts and I’m hoping for a fightback rather than expecting one. But in spite of all that’s happened, I’d hate to see us give up too soon.

Whites hopes lit up by Seasiders triumph

YEP 21/2/13
By Phil Hay
There is life in the old warhorse yet, or so it seems. Three days on from what almost passed as a resignation speech, Leeds United gave Neil Warnock cause to think that all at Elland Road is not quite lost.
His squad entered the last-chance saloon yesterday evening and saw out 90 minutes against Blackpool without spilling their drinks. A comprehensive win on a night when Leeds deserved nothing less was enough to make their manager reconsider the state of an apparently hopeless cause. With the play-off places six points above them, it might make the Championship reconsider too.
Promotion is no more probable now than it was a week ago, not in the eyes of those who know how the Championship works, but Leeds are part of the shake-up still and a team whose attitude against Blackpool was that of a side with little to lose. If Warnock’s decision to ruffle the white flag on Sunday was a case of reverse psychology, it had the desired effect.
His comments after United’s FA Cup defeat to Manchester City were an open invitation for United’s owners to terminate a contract which expires in June but the decision which GFH Capital was free to make on Monday morning is unlikely to interest them today. One of the company’s executives, Salem Patel, was in the crowd at Elland Road last night and well aware that the enthusiasm for a public hanging had dissipated drastically.
Warnock was castigated by the club’s supporters at Middlesbrough and Eastlands but found himself listening to chants of ‘give us a wave’ after Steve Morison left Blackpool trailing 2-0 with 64 minutes gone, following up David Norris’ strike seven minutes earlier. It is the second time since the turn of the year that the 64-year-old has ridden out a heavy storm and he will not dismiss the threat of dark clouds gathering again. But nor will he suffer the humiliation of a season caving in before February is out.
This has been a torrid month for Leeds, a month of galling failures prior to last night’s win. Alongside valid criticism of United’s results under Warnock, there was room for sympathy too. Robbed by Cardiff City and Wolverhampton Wanderers and on the wrong end of a tight contest at Middlesbrough, Leeds have been the Championship’s self-harmers for three long weeks. With Blackpool at their mercy from the earliest stages, they found their taste for the kill again.
Warnock’s promise to go for broke in the final 15 games of the season and chase the dangling threads of the play-offs was backed up by the recall of Morison and the inclusion of two ball-playing midfielders – Michael Tonge and David Norris – in the centre of the pitch. It was not quite the arrival of the cavalry, but it refreshed an area of the team which Manchester City overran on Sunday.
Blackpool did likewise at Bloomfield Road in August but the past six months have not been kind to them. Relieved of two managers by other clubs this season, Paul Ince took up residence in the dug-out last night with relegation worrying him more than promotion. He reversed the bizarre decision made by caretaker Steve Thompson at Ipswich Town on Saturday and elevated his son, Tom Ince, from the bench. Blackpool’s disjointed manner was unchanged.
They were confronted by an abnormally large crowd at Elland Road – abnormal for this season at any rate – as the promotion of cheap tickets run by United’s owner, GFH Capital, pulled 25,532 through the turnstiles, and Leeds did not allow Ince to see much of his team in the first half. Mid-table fever was more apparent in the visitors than it was in Leeds.
The encouragement from Warnock’s players was the sight of Blackpool’s defence shaking on the earliest occasions when United pressed. Luke Varney dragged a shot wide when Morison broke down the right wing and crossed into a crowded box, and Craig Cathcart was fortunate to see the ball land at his feet a yard in front of his own goal as a mistake from Kirk Broadfoot set Morison free on the other side of the field.
Under constant pressure from the outset, it seemed unlikely that Blackpool would stem the tide for long.
Matt Gilks parried a goalbound header from Varney which would have buried itself in the net had it not flown straight at the goalkeeper and a desperate tackle from Stephen Crainey prevented David Norris from steering a loose ball into the far corner of Gilks’ goal.
Manager Ince quickly grasped why Blackpool, for all their flair, are nowhere near the running for the top six.
That flair showed itself on occasions, with Matt Phillips running onto a delicious pass from Tom Ince and attacking Paddy Kenny’s near post without success.
But Tonge and Norris controlled a midfield in which Barry Ferguson and Isaiah Osbourne were lost completely.
There were further chances before half-time – McCormack volleying two yards wide from the edge of the box and then driving a glaring opportunity against Gilks’ legs after tense and reckless defending invited another Leeds attack on the half hour – and the occasional opening for Blackpool too.
Kenny’s athleticism as strikes from Ludovic Sylvestre and Phillips flew towards the top corner of his net resisted Blackpool’s search for a barely-deserved sucker punch in the closing stages of the first half and on the balance of play, the visitors’ retention of parity at the interval was a travesty.
United continued to chip away at the start of the second half and McCormack caused trouble again when he anticipated Norris’ lobbed pass and scraped Gilks’ side-netting from a tight angle, but Blackpool’s football showed a touch more poise.
It took a desperate recovery from Stephen Warnock – caught ball-watching beneath Broadfoot’s long clearance – to stop Phillips beating Kenny from close range in the 54th minute.
Nevertheless, the defensive frailty within Paul Ince’s side was a permanent ailment and the key to the opening goal three minutes later.
Norris pounced on the rebound from a lofted McCormack corner, catching the ball sweetly and rifling it beyond Gilks from 14 yards out. It was a long time coming, but thoroughly deserved.
One goal became two in the 64th minute when Blackpool’s backline caved in again, failed to cut out Sam Byram’s cross and left Morison unmarked inside the box.
The striker’s powerful finish – his first since joining Leeds from Norwich City on the final day of January – was sharp and unerring, too fierce for Gilks to stop and destined for the top corner of his net.
It begged the question of where United’s season is headed as optimism showed itself for the first time in weeks.

Neil Warnock pleased with the freedom Leeds played with 2-0 Blackpool win

Sky 20/2/13
Leeds manager Neil Warnock was delighted with his side after they revived their play-off chances with a 2-0 victory at home to Blackpool.
Some Leeds supporters were calling for Warnock to leave during the FA Cup loss to Manchester City at the weekend but second-half goals from David Norris and Steve Morison eased the pressure on the boss.
It was a first league victory in four for Leeds and they are now just six points adrift of the play-off spots.
Warnock said: "I couldn't pick a star tonight. They were all nine or 10 out of 10.
"We started on the front foot and limited them to just a couple of opportunities, which would have been cruel if they'd gone in. Paddy (Kenny) made a couple of great saves and I couldn't see him being beaten.
"If you brought another manager in, I couldn't see him getting more out of those players than you saw tonight.
"They played with a freedom that they haven't shown for a while, so we go to Blackburn on Saturday in a lot better spirit."

Leeds 2 Blackpool 0: Ince family fortunes hit by sorry start thanks to second-half strikes

Mail 20/2/13
By Richard Gibson
For one manager a new beginning, for the other the beginning of the end. At least that was how the opening of Paul Ince’s reign as Blackpool manager appeared to be against a man in the opposite dug-out whose days were looking increasingly numbered.
However, the fresh optimism Blackpool arrived with at Elland Road was nabbed for Neil Warnock by his spirited Leeds team.
They claimed only a second Championship victory since New Year’s Day — courtesy of goals from David Norris and Steve Morison — to rekindle hopes of a top-six finish.
Warnock revealed after Sunday’s FA Cup exit to Premier League champions Manchester City that he expects to be out of a job unless promotion is secured in May. It is also understood Warnock, 64, will not seek a new deal if they fail.
This week, which marks the first anniversary of his tenure, and also includes a trip to Blackburn, appears to be key to any play-off push.
Leeds’s current mid-table place has led to apathy among supporters, who expected greater investment in the squad last month. However, new owners GFH Capital have preached patience as they seek further investment, and used their programme notes to confirm they turned down a bid for a majority shareholding this week.
If Warnock fails in his bid for a record eighth promotion as a Football League manager, he insists his legacy will be a squad of great character.
Indeed, the Yorkshire team’s endeavour could not be faulted and Luke Varney had several early chances. A fifth-minute snapshot on the turn sailed wide, and two headers were repelled by the visitors’ goalkeeper Matt Gilks.
The best chance fell to Ross McCormack in the 11th minute but, following Steve Morison’s exposure of a Kirk Broadfoot error, he could not get a shot away. When McCormack did strike cleanly on the half-hour, Gilks saved well.
Ince recalled son Thomas and three times in the opening period, the England Under 21 star had shots saved by Paddy Kenny.
However, Kenny’s best save came not from Ince but Matt Phillips in first-half injury time. Kenny flung himself to his left to claw a 20-yard drive out of the bottom corner and was relieved an offside flag ruled out Gary Taylor-Fletcher’s effort on the rebound.
Leeds continued to squander openings after the break but Norris and Morison both found the net either side of the hour.
Warnock’s team took the lead when McCormack’s corner found its way to Norris, who fired in through a crowded goalmouth. Morison, a makeweight in the January deal that took Luciano Becchio to Norwich, then doubled the advantage with a composed side-footed finish.

Neil Warnock's Leeds overcome Blackpool to spoil Paul Ince's big night

Guardian 20/2/13
Paul Ince's latest stab at becoming a successful manager ended in defeat on Wednesday night as his new club, Blackpool, went down 2-0 to Leeds United.
A fixture graced a year ago by Jonjo Shelvey's hat-trick for them when on loan from Liverpool was this time an intriguing clash that had Ince selecting his son, Thomas, for a second time in his career following their spells at Notts County two seasons ago. Late on Blackpool's Alex Baptiste steered wide but it was Neil Warnock's side who made up three points on sixth-placed Middlesbrough.
This left Blackpool 11 from a play-off position and Ince striking a realistic note. "I'm not saying we forget the play-offs but our most important thing is to get to 50 points, then build from there," he said. "It's probably the hardest league in Europe to get out of. Obviously it would have been nice to start with a win but this last week I was sitting in me lounge walking my dog in me garden."
This was Ince's sixth jump on to the managerial merry-go round after previous stops at Macclesfield Town, MK Dons (twice), Blackburn Rovers and Notts County, from where he departed "by mutual consent" in April 2011 having lost five games on the bounce.
The Blackpool website stated that the former England midfielder has spent the last 14 months watching the club where his son signed on in the summer of 2011 from Liverpool and to where he came close to returning in last month's transfer window before money, not unusually, became a sticking point.
To Ince Sr's CV – which includes the blue-chip clubs of Manchester United, Internazionale and Liverpool in his playing days – was now added Blackpool, whom he referred to as "we" in discussing last season's 5-0 rout here beforehand.
The opening half of Ince's tenure featured him standing in an expensive looking overcoat as his team held their own against Warnock's side, though there were lean pickings in the chances created column. Ince Jr, Blackpool's top scorer with 17 in the league, dipped one corner into a crowd of players in front of Paddy Kenny's goal and, when the ball broke back to the winger, an attempt to smash goalwards was blocked. Matt Phillips, operating on the opposite left flank, tested Kenny from close range on the angle but the goalkeeper beat the ball out.
It was from precisely this position that Leeds' lone striker, Steve Morison, forced Matthew Gilks to save before the rebound evaded an onrushing Ross McCormack. Later David Norris made Gilks use his feet to keep the score goalless and, when play broke, Ince showed why Liverpool – and United – have shown an interest. The 21-year-old slipped smoothly into too high a gear for the trailing home midfield as he swept effortlessly to the left byline before playing in a ball that begged to be finished.
His father said: "Yeah, he's a good player, he's shown that throughout this season. He's very good at this level and we had some chances: I think we can't always rely on Thomas. Other people have to contribute to scoring goals."
Norris's goal came after a McCormack corner broke to him and he unloaded a bullet of a shot which gave Gilks no chance. Morison, a January signing from Norwich City who Warnock claimed would become a "legend" at Leeds, then profited from Baptiste's error. The Blackpool captain inadvertently passed the ball straight to the No9 and he belted it beyond Gilks.
Warnock has publicly stated that, if Leeds are not promoted, he will no longer be at the club. Does that mean he will retire from football completely? "No, I don't think so," he said. "I do fancy [a role] helping a younger manager out. I don't think there's much liaison between a board of directors and managers. So I'll still keep my hand in and probably come out every January until May to keep a team up, like a Red Adair of football."
Ince is not yet involved in a firefight at Blackpool but he knows there is work to do. "We're not structured. You can see that," he said. "We've still got that gung-ho mentality where we feel if they score one, we're going to score two. That's not something that's right. It'll take time."

Leeds United owners put in the spotlight: Q&A

YEP 19/2/13
In response to a request for an interview with GFH Capital’s David Haigh and Salem Patel, the YEP was asked to submit written questions about their plans for leeds united. Here are their replies:
Q: In the press release of September 25, 2012, GFH spoke about how they were going to “lead and arrange” the takeover. Many took that to mean you were working in tandem with other investors. Did that change? And if it did, was there a time when you had second thoughts about continuing with the purchase?
A: It did not change. We are an Investment Bank and our model is to bring investors to investments.
Q: Where is your funding coming from? Are suggestions that you have a wealthy backer inaccurate and was that ever the case at any stage of takeover negotiations?
A: The acquisition of the club and injections of working capital have come from GFH Capital’s own resources and that of several of its clients.
Q: Is it correct, as reported on Saturday, that you are willing to consider offers of investment for a 30 per cent stake in Leeds United?
A: We are an Investment Bank and as discussed at our first meeting, we are seeking strategic investors.
Q: What are your reasons for looking to sell 30 per cent of the club?
A: As above, we are an Investment Bank and as discussed at our first meeting, we bring investors to investments. This has never been any secret.
Q: If investment on that scale is not found, do you have the resources to take the Leeds United forward regardless or will it leave the club under significant financial pressure?
A: No, it won’t. While we have the funds to take the club forward without the need for additional investors, we are of the belief that building a strong consortium of strategic investors will better serve and protect, and build our great club.
Q: Are you open to or actively seeking offers to buy either a majority stake or a 100% shareholding in Leeds United?
A: We are not open to or actively looking to sell 100%. We consider the club to have very good potential and wish to benefit when that potential is realised.
Q: Can you confirm whether an offer for a majority stake in Leeds United (as confirmed on the club’s website) remains on the table? Or has it been rejected?
A: It has been rejected.
Q: What investment has GFH Capital made in Leeds United so far?
A: The figures are confidential.
Q: When we spoke on December 21 after the press conference to confirm the takeover, you mentioned that cash flow was a worry. How will you be able to rectify that in the short and long-term?
A: Cashflow is an issue at most football clubs, simply due to the nature of the business.
Q: How has the day-to-day running of Leeds changed since December 21 and what further changes do you envisage over the coming months?
A: For most members of staff there has been no change yet, but we are slowly trying to impose a more corporate structure on the club. We are also still continuing with our review and, as a result, there may be further changes in the future.
Q: Have there been many surprises in the two months since taking over? And if so, what were they?
A: Not really surprises as such, but this is a unique industry. I suppose the biggest surprise, and given the fact we attended a number matches before taking over it shouldn’t be, is the level of support and how deeply people care about the club. This has been apparent both with the fans – the show of support at the Etihad was amazing – and with the staff, the majority of whom are here because of the club and are fans themselves.
Q: You said in an interview with the Guardian that building projects at Elland Road have negatively affected the club’s financial state? Is that the case and do you feel that those building projects were a mistake?
A: We don’t feel they were a mistake as such, but we would not have chosen to undertaken them at the time that they were done. That said, the club now has a stadium that is ready for Premier League football.
Q: Were you aware of the exact burden and cost of those building projects prior to your takeover i.e. once due diligence was complete?
A: Yes. The due diligence process gave us a clear view.
Q: Much has been made of the financial position of Gulf Finance House (GFH Capital’s parent company). You’ve said before that you’re a different company with different balance sheets but clearly you’re 100 per cent owned by Gulf Finance House so if the bank encounters severe problems then so would you. Can you outline Gulf Finance House’s financial position as you understand it and explain why recent years seem to have been a challenge for the company?
A: You need to wait until Thursday/Friday when q4 financials (Gulf Finance House’s results for the last quarter of 2012) are published for a better picture. Like any bank in the world, GFH has suffered due to the global financial crisis, but we think GFH has done better than a lot of others in trying to recover from that.
Q: Eight weeks on from the takeover, can you outline GFH Capital’s motivation for investing in Leeds United?
A: It’s the same as what was said on the day of the takeover – this is a great club with relatively little debt and huge potential.
Q: Are you speaking to Neil Warnock about what is going to happen with regards to the manager’s job? In Saturday’s Guardian, you spoke of wanting a younger man to come in and that suggested a change is on the way.
A: We speak to Neil regularly and as you know his contract expires at the end of this season.
Questions compiled by Phil Hay

Leeds United: Funds already in position - GFH

YEP 19/2/13
By Phil Hay
Leeds United owner GFH Capital last night confirmed that it had rejected outright the recent attempt to buy a majority stake in the club - and claimed funding was in place to support United without immediate and substantial investment.
Responding to a series of questions submitted to it by the YEP, the Dubai-based firm appeared to rule out the possibility of a quick change of ownership at Elland Road by revealing it was unwilling to accept the offer made by a local consortium for a 51 per cent shareholding in Leeds.
A representative of the Yorkshire-based group tabled their takeover bid a fortnight ago, seven weeks after GFH Capital completed its own buy-out of United chairman Ken Bates.
Businessman Steve Parkin is believed to be involved in the consortium, with ex-Hull City chairman Adam Pearson also rumoured to be supporting the bid six years after fronting an unsuccessful attempt to purchase Leeds while the club were in administration.
Executives of GFH Capital admitted over the weekend that the company was willing to sell a 30 per cent stake in United, raising fears that it was already under pressure to secure a major cash injection, but asked if United would face financial problems in the absence of investment, GFH Capital said: “No, it won’t.
“While we have the funds to take the club forward without the need for additional investors, we are of the belief that building a strong consortium of strategic investors will better serve and protect, and build our great club.”
GFH Capital also denied that the takeover offer submitted this month was still open to consideration, saying: “It has been rejected.”
United’s owner did not clarify its immediate plans for manager Neil Warnock, despite the 64-year-old stating on Sunday that he was ready to step aside if Leeds failed to win promotion this season. The club are eight points short of the play-offs with 15 games to play.
“We speak to Neil regularly and, as you know, his contract expires at the end of this season,” the firm’s statement read.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Warnock - A year at Elland Road

YEP 19/2/13
By Leon Wobschall
February 18 marked the first anniversary of Neil Warnock’s fraught time in charge of Leeds United.
You would probably have struggled to find a more inauspicious occasion.
Don’t expect for one minute that anything resembling a celebration – even in the loosest sense of the word – will have taken place at United’s Thorp Arch training ground among Warnock and his staff.
Or for that matter among United’s multitude of the punch-drunk supporters, who suffered another blow to the solar plexus after witnessing the tortuous FA Cup exit at the hands of Manchester City in a TV shocker on Sunday afternoon.
The milestone was truly a cursory one. While in an ideal world, Warnock would have been envisaging his side preparing for a definitive business end of the season which would hopefully culminate in a record eighth promotion to guild his hitherto impressive managerial career on his first anniversary, the reality has proved starkly different. And how.
For the third time in the space of five weeks – and for the second successive away game – the 64-year-old was subjected to chants of “Warnock, time to go” during Sunday’s wretched 4-0 loss at the Etihad Stadium – with the former Sheffield United and QPR chief admitting for the first time after the game he was prepared to leave United before his planned exit in May if owners GFH Capital felt it was in the club’s best interests.
It’s all a far cry from 12 months ago when Warnock breezed through the doors at Elland Road with a fair bit of fanfare. Just as Whites legend Gordon Strachan did when he arrived at Middlesbrough in October 2009, only to step down just under a year later.
In Warnock, here was the no-nonsense manager to whip United into organisational shape and collectively get them to ‘man up’, sort out the flakiest of defences and bring some spirit back into a demoralised and fractious dressing room which was laid bare in the final weeks of the Simon Grayson era.
In those areas, perhaps Warnock’s biggest success has been in uniting a playing camp that palpably lacked spirit a year ago.
But while the effort has been there, the quality has by and large been negligible, with the Achilles heel of a leaky back four, which has bedevilled United since their return to the second tier, also stubbornly refusing to be repaired.
Ahead of taking his place in the stand for the home derby with Doncaster Rovers after being appointed on the morning of February 18 last year, Warnock will have looked at the Championship table and seen the sight of United in 11th place with 45 points after 31 games.
It won’t be lost on many supporters that is almost a mirror image of where Leeds find themselves now, albeit one place lower and three points worse off in 12th spot – eight points behind the team in the final play-off position in Middlesbrough and interestingly only the same amount in front of the side currently third-from-bottom, in Barnsley.
Just as with last season, United remain marooned in the Championship never-never land, one of number of clubs with grand designs on recovering what they see as their rightful place in the top-flight, but without a firm and coherent strategy to achieve that which resonates with fans.
United have stood still and failed to move on during a static 12 months.
In mitigation, Warnock has regularly voiced his frustrations at the behind-the-scenes situation at United – a common theme of a forgettable campaign, where the only light that has been provided has come courtesy of both domestic cups.
But despite mounting a defence of his time at the club, insisting after Sunday’s game that he ‘deserved a medal’ given what has gone on away from the pitch, you sense he is passing the point of no return with many Whites supporters, with the vast majority of the 6,100 fans who headed across the M62 to the Etihad delivering their own withering verdict in song. A saying goes that if you lose your away supporters, your hardcore fans who follow their team week-in and week-out, you are in big trouble.
And whatever your take on whether Whites supporters have been within their rights to call for Warnock’s head or not, United’s faithful, as the song says, ‘do what they want’ and say what they want as Warnock is unfortunately finding out for his sake, with his time at Leeds becoming a sad postscript to a largely distinguished managerial career.
Offering his own take on Warnock’s arduous first year in charge, former Whites captain Brendan Ormsby said: “Neil has so much experience at these levels in football and when he took over, I thought that he was probably one of the best men we could get at that moment as Neil knows the divisions inside out and the players he needs.
“But looking at it, I think he hasn’t set things on fire here really, apart from two decent cup runs. But cup runs are always just a bonus for clubs like us, the league is the bread and butter and what you are judged on.
“The games against Chelsea, Southampton and Everton were all well and good. But the fans will be looking at the league and thinking: ‘Where the hell are we?’ Quite simply, the team is nowhere near good enough for the Premier League and that was proved on Sunday.
“I do not think some of the players that Neil has brought in have been good enough and some of them are below the level we need to get out of this league.
“I have previously thought there wasn’t that much difference between the Premier League and the Championship. But you could really see there was at Manchester City.
“On the pitch, although it is not nice to say, we were totally outclassed and outplayed.
“You could see the difference between the two teams in terms of the two levels they are playing at and when it got to 2-0, I thought it was going to be a cricket score.
“In terms of the criticism of Neil, I actually had earphones as I was working, but I was told the Leeds fans were singing: ‘You’re nothing special, we get beat every week’ and I know the supporters were also having another go at Neil after doing so at Middlesbrough.
“That’s the way it goes, I’m afraid.”

Odds on Di Canio becoming next Leeds United manager shorten

Scratching Shed 19/2/13
Paolo Di Canio is now the second favourite to become Leeds United’s next permanent manager after he resigned as Swindon Town manager last night.
Sky Bet have odds of 4/1 on Di Canio being GFH’s first managerial appointment while Nigel Adkins remains a narrow favourite at 7/4.
Adkins and Di Canio are followed by Neil Redfearn at 10/1, Owen Coyle and Sean O’Driscoll at 12/1 with Phil Parkinson and former Leeds United captain Gordon Strachan at 16/1.
Other former players in the list include Richard Naylor, Nick Barmby and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, all with odds of 20/1, Lucas Radebe, Noel Whelan and Gary McAllister at 33/1 and if you really want to give your money away, Tony Yeboah at odds of 66/1.
Gus Poyet meanwhile is considered to be no more likely to get the job than David O’Leary, both sharing odds of 25/1, while another name constantly thrown around by fans, Robert Di Matteo, isn’t even in the list. Champions League to Championship a little too far-fetched for Sky it seems.
Next Leeds United manager odds (Sky Bet)
Nigel Adkins 7/4
Paolo Di Canio 4/1
Neil Redfearn 10/1
Owen Coyle 12/1
Sean O’Driscoll 12/1
Phil Parkinson 16/1
Gordon Strachan 16/1
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink 20/1
Nick Barmby 20/1
Alan Curbishley 20/1
Karl Robinson 20/1
Steve McClaren 20/1
Alex McLeish 20/1
Richard Naylor 20/1
Stuart McCall 20/1
Mark Hughes 20/1
John Pemberton 25/1
Mick McCarthy 25/1
Gus Poyet 25/1
David O’Leary 25/1
Paul Jewell 25/1
Phil Brown 33/1
Lucas Radebe 33/1
Gary McAllister 33/1
Keith Curle 33/1
Noel Whelan 33/1
Nigel Clough 33/1
Lee Clark 40/1
Kevin Blackwell 40/1
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 40/1
Terry Connor 50/1
Steve Kean 50/1
Tony Yeboah 66/1