Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Leeds boss McDermott looks back on 2013

leedsunited.com 31/12/13
Brian McDermott reflects on the year that was...
As the year reaches its conclusion, United manager Brian McDermott will look back on an eventful 2013 as a year of change and a year of progress.
McDermott took over the reins in April with the team battling against relegation and as the club heads into the New Year, his side are seventh in the Championship at the half-way mark of the season.
“I think that you have got to consider where we were when we first came in during April,” reflected the boss.
“We were struggling and the team was in a bit of a state as far as where we could have ended up. We got ourselves out of trouble and worked really hard in the summer on the training ground.
“The owners have done an awful lot away from the pitch trying to galvanise everybody and I think they have done a really good job.
“The majority of the fans are right on board and they can see what we are trying to do. We’re seventh in the league with 23 games left so we have everything to play for.
“I am absolutely more determined than ever, especially after seeing the Forest game to make sure that we give ourselves every opportunity to get to where we want to get to.”
Less than 12 months ago, McDermott was at the helm of Reading, but a dramatic turn of events saw him lose his job at the Premier League before taking over at Elland Road just over a month later.
“It’s been an interesting year,” said the boss. “I got Manager of the Month in January in the Premier League and got sacked in March. Then I had a month off and I got a phone call to come to Leeds.
“We played against Sheffield Wednesday and we were 1-0 down at half time and I though, ‘what am I doing?’ And then we came back and we won the game in the second half. That was a great result because we needed to win that game.
“I’ve had an amazing time at Leeds as far as the welcome I’ve had personally and Nigel Gibbs and Jon Goodman. We are not from this part of the world but the people here are just fantastic. You get a real good welcome and you get a sense that there is a real devotion to this football club. It is astonishing, it really is.
“It has been an interesting year and I’ve learnt an awful lot. I’ve got an unbelievable drive to get us to where we need to be. That’s not just me but the staff and the players as well. There is a real good feel factor.
“I’m really pleased to be here and come May let’s hope that we are in a really good place.”

Leeds United: Mac’s on the transfer trail

Yorkshire Evening Post 31/12/13
by Leon Wobschall
Leeds United manager Brian McDermott has confirmed he is fairly well ‘down the line’ regarding the capture of one of his January transfer targets – and wants to do all of his incoming recruitment sooner rather than later next month.
The transfer window opens tomorrow and United are being strongly linked with a move for Hull City winger Cameron Stewart, whose loan spell at Charlton is due to end after their New Year’s Day clash at Ipswich Town.
Stewart will be out of contract in the summer with the 22-year-old recently acknowledging that his days at the KC Stadium are virtually numbered, with the Mancunian effectively on the look-out for a new club.
Charlton would ideally like to keep the wingman, but it is thought finances could be an issue.
McDermott revealed he spoke to one target and his agent yesterday, having given the club a list of four transfer targets.
But one name on his wish-list has been chalked off, with the player set to join a Premier League club instead.
Confirming he spoke to an unnamed player and agent yesterday, McDermott – whose side start 2014 at home to Blackburn Rovers tomorrow afternoon –said: “They (club owners) told me to have that conversation and I think what I have to do is try and line things up first and then go to the owners and say: ‘Look, this is what we have to do, can we do this deal?’ That’s what I’ve done in the past.
“I have had a conversation (with another target) and that’s not going to happen. He’s going to go to the Premier League apparently, so that’s that.
“There’s a couple of players who we would (also) have to do deals with, with other clubs and then you would have to go from there. That’s where we are at and I’d like to think things will hopefully fall into place.
“Transfer deadline day right at the end (of January) is exciting, but it doesn’t do it for me. I’d rather it was done and dusted beforehand and I think it’s important to try and get players in as early as you can. I’m not one for trying to get one done, so Sky Sports can do a big piece on it at midnight.
“With one particular one, we think we are fairly down the line. That’s a start.”
One player who has also been linked with a return to United is former fans favourite Max Gradel, currently at St Etienne.
McDermott acknowledges he has monitored the form of Gradel, 26, but he will not be pursuing his signing on sentiment alone and will only do so if it is right for the club, with several factors to consider.
He said: “I think with Max Gradel, it’s going to be an expensive deal. He was very good for Leeds United two-and-a-half years ago. But you can’t sign a player on the back of what happened then – that’s wrong.
“I’ve got a scout in France who has seen him play a few times so I have done my homework on that situation.
“I know how many games he’s played and goals he’s scored and how many times he’s come off the bench. (But) I wouldn’t just do a deal because he was a favourite at Leeds. It needs to be the right player for now at this time. That’s not to say Max wouldn’t be that player, it’s just we need to make sure my homework is right and everything is in the right order because it won’t be a cheap deal.”
McDermott admits he is unsure about the availability of another Elland Road old boy linked with a return to the club earlier this season in Luciano Becchio, firmly down the pecking order at Norwich City.
McDermott said: “He plays for someone else and I wouldn’t know if he’s available or not. We’ll see.”
Stewart is expected to return north after his four-month stint at Charlton ends tomorrow, having also spent spells on loan at Burnley and Blackburn last season. Speaking about his future just before Christmas, the ex-Manchester United winger said: “My contract is coming to an end at Hull and once it ends that will be it.
“I had a great time at Hull and it’s great to see them doing well in the Premier League. But if there was any chance of them extending my deal, then I’m sure I’d have heard something by now.
“At the moment, I’m going to have to find a new job, so it is about playing as well as I can and scoring as many goals as I can because I’m in the shop window.”

Leeds United: McDermott looking for a creative edge

Yorkshire Evening Post 31/12/13
Brian McDermott expects Leeds to kick-on in the new year from their better-than-expected seventh place. Leon Wobschall reports.
IT remains to be seen what the fates decree regarding the second half of Leeds United’s season, but Brian McDermott is sure on one thing.
Namely that the club’s supporters, hand on heart, would have taken seventh place in the Championship table going into the New Year.
As ever, January remains a hugely pivotal time for United, who by common consensus need to display a degree of New Year transfer ambition conspicuous in its absence in years gone by to ensure they remain the real play-off deal until May – and aren’t just ultimately cast as wanabees.
Now is the time to kick-on, although for Leeds to be in a position to strike is an achievement in itself, according to McDermott.
United have come a long way since he took the reins in the spring when the club harboured some relegation genuine concerns.
And while former boss Neil Warnock is of the view that Leeds only require just a few choice additions to potentially get over the line as regards a successful promotion crusade, McDermott doesn’t necessarily take that view.
But what cannot be denied is that United have travelled a heck of a long way in the tenure of McDermott, who has rung every last drop out of his charges and the squad options at his disposal.
As it stands, promotion to the top-flight – given the financial parameters he has worked under – would represent an achievement to rank alongside the more remarkable Championship promotions of recent times.
Yet there is plenty of work to do before anything like that materialises. No-one would say any different.
Offering his half-term report for United, who for the second successive campaign go into the New Year with 35 points and within spitting distance of the play-offs, McDermott said: “It’s good, no doubt about it in my opinion.
“When you consider where we were when we took on the club in April and where we were going and where we are now, I’d imagine that the majority of fans would say that seventh at this moment in time is something they would take.
“I think the players have done us proud. They are working really, really hard.
“We know our shortcomings and what we need to do. We know we need to improve and get players in.
“But the most important thing is that the club is united. And that’s probably not been the case over a long period of time.
“I look at where we are now and where we were in April ... I think the previous manager did an article in a paper recently saying that all I needed to do was put the icing on the cake with the squad that he left. I am not sure that is correct.
“When we came in in April, we definitely had issues as far as making sure we stayed in this division. Where the boys and club has come now with the ownership, manager, staff and players and fans, everybody is onside and going in the right direction. There’s no doubt about that.
“No-one said it was going to be an instant job here. It certainly hasn’t been. But in the short period of time; we’re doing alright.”
United’s seasonal form has been solid and substantive for the most part – especially at Elland Road, albeit with the odd bump in the road, particularly on their travels.
A festive haul of one point from admittedly tough Christmas tests at the City Ground and Bloomfield Road represented a disappointment, but you sense it was the goalless stalemate with lowly Barnsley just before Christmas which represented the main source of frustration.
McDermott is the first to admit some offensive aspects of their last few performances could certainly have been better, with the issue of width – or a lack of it – having sporadically flared up.
The Whites boss feels the supply line to the central strikers has left a fair bit to be desired of late, with the propensity to go long in their attempts to pick out Matt Smith having proved counter-productive – both for the team and their big targetman.
A bit more subtlety and invention is required, according to McDermott, with some new options on the wing likely to be near the top of his wish list come the opening of the transfer window. McDermott, whose side welcome Blackburn Rovers at Elland Road to herald in the New Year tomorrow – their fourth game in the space of ten days – admitted: “I don’t think we are playing the way we want to play at this moment in time.
“We need to get the ball through midfield and into the wide areas. It’s about the performance where the fans want to watch us as well. Listen, we all want to win; no-one more than me. But we want to try and evolve and get in a situation where we are playing really good football. That’s the ideal scenario.
“You can get a bit of stick when you don’t win games. That’s fine, we expect that, because we are Leeds United.
“But there’s a certain honesty about the group, which I like. They are trying every single game. With half the season to go, let’s see where we can take this team.
“We have to play on the front foot and take the game to Blackburn and it’s important we get crosses in and attack and get shots in and play exciting football. Predominantly, we’ve done that at home quite well. The Barnsley game was a disappointing result, which we should have nicked, but didn’t. Previous to that, our home form has been really, really good.
“We need to get back to creating things. We’ve had a spell when we’ve gone too long into Matt Smith and we need to play through midfield and get crosses in. I feel really sorry for Matt as he’s challenging and working really hard. But we haven’t had enough crosses in during the past two or three games. That’s what we’ve got to work on for Blackburn.”

Leeds United v Blackburn Rovers: Kenny in race against time to be fit

Yorkshire Evening Post 31/12/13
BRIAN McDERMOTT will give Paddy Kenny as much time as possible to prove his fitness ahead of the New Year’s Day home clash with Blackburn Rovers.
Kenny suffered an ankle injury in the first 20 seconds of Sunday’s loss to Nottingham Forest and bravely soldiered on, despite being in obvious discomfort. Alex Cairns, whose sole senior United appearance came in November 2011, is on standby to replace Kenny – who has not missed a first-team game this term – if he misses out.
Teenage midfielder Alex Mowatt is on the mend after having an injection to help clear up a back problem picked up last summer. On Kenny’s prospects, McDermott said: “We’ll see.
“He’s had ice on his ankle, which was stiff overnight.
“He did really well to get through the game. We’ll give him the opportunity to get it right.”
On Mowatt, he added: “Alex has had an injection in his back and we are hopeful. I had to take him out of the team because he’s had a bit of an issue over the summer, which has kind of come back.
“We’re thinking we might have got rid of that, so we’re hopeful Alex might be back.”

Monday, December 30, 2013

Leeds boss set for player talks

leedsunited.com 30/12/13
United boss outlines his January plans...
Brian McDermott is stepping up his efforts to bolster his squad ahead of the opening January transfer window.
“I was meeting with a player on Monday,” revealed the boss.
“One player that I was going to go for is looking like he is going to the Premier League so that one has gone. But I’m meeting with a player on Monday and I’ll be having a conversation with him and his agent to try and do a deal.”
The boss says he has identified a small number of players he is interested in and is in ongoing discussions with the club’s owners about potential moves in January.
“I’ve never put the owners under any pressure to do anything that they don’t want to do and what they don’t feel is right for the club,” said the boss.
“I think that it is evident that we do need to add and help out the players that are already at the club.
“I’ve spoken to the Chief Executive and I’ve got three or four players that I would be interested in trying to do deals with. We have to then try and do something with that. That is how it works. If we can, we can, if we can't, we can't.
“If we can do a deal with the player and if we can do a deal with the club then I’m sure a lot of players would want to come to Leeds United.”
Despite all the talk of strengthening, the boss has been quick to praise the efforts of his current squad.
“I think that we have got a solid base now,” he said. “Scott Wootton is not in the team at this moment in time, Stephen Warnock is not in the team and Sam Byram hasn’t been playing. So if you look at that we look ok.
“You look at it and you try to find the right options. I felt that against Barnsley and against Blackpool that we were solid. I though that we were unfortunate not to come away with 1-0 results. If that would have happened at Blackpool we would have said that it was a decent away performance.
“I thought that it was an ok away performance but maybe you need something different sometimes. You need someone to just make the difference with the ball. Someone who can just create that little chance that could win you the game 1-0.
“Ross is doing it. Ross is doing something that little bit different. He is a match winner and he did that against Doncaster when it was 1-0 and he scored an unbelievable goal.
“Sometimes you just find a player that fits into a team and that just works. That happened for me at Reading with Jason Roberts. Jason was available and we took him. He was a big character and he lifted the dressing room.
“Sometimes a player like that can just make that difference. People stand up and look at him as a character as someone who has been there, seen it and done it. They are the sort of players but they are few and far between.”

Brian McDermott: Leeds United boss unsure of Max Gradel return

BBC 30/12/13
Leeds boss Brian McDermott says a deal for St Etienne's Max Gradel will only happen if it is right for the club.
The 26-year-old winger has been linked with a return to Elland Road in the January transfer window.
Gradel scored 25 goals in 77 league appearances for the Whites before moving to France in August 2011.
"He was very good here but that was over two years ago and you can't sign someone because they were a favourite before," said 52-year-old McDermott.
"I've done my homework on Max and I know how many games he's played and how many goals he's scored.
"Any deal for him would need to be right for now because it wouldn't be a cheap one."
McDermott's saw his side lose for the first time since 30 November when they went down 2-1 at Nottingham Forest on Sunday.
Despite the setback, the former Reading boss is pleased with the progress the club have made since his appointment in April.
"The previous manager (Neil Warnock) did a piece in the paper recently saying I only needed to put the icing on the cake with the squad he left. I'm not sure that's correct," McDermott told BBC Radio Leeds.
"We had work to do to keep the team in the league but everyone is going in the right direction now and we're seventh.
"No one said it would be an instant job here, and it certainly hasn't been, but I think we're doing alright."
Leeds, who were knocked out of the play-off places on goal difference by Ipswich after the loss to Forest, host Blackburn on New Year's Day.

Leeds United: New takeover set for green light

Yorkshire Evening Post 30/12/13
by Phil Hay
Brian McDermott has given Leeds United a list of four transfer targets with the group behind a takeover of the club expecting to secure Football League approval within days of the January window opening.
Sources close to the impending buy-out of Leeds told the YEP last night that the governing body is likely to ratify the purchase of a 75 per cent stake in United once it reaches the end of the Christmas holiday period.
The development came as McDermott voiced concern about the depth of his squad and highlighted the importance of new signings next month after Leeds lost 2-1 to Nottingham Forest yesterday.
A tired display at the City Ground, where a stunning goal from Matt Derbyshire on 83 minutes knocked Leeds out of the Championship’s play-off zone, led McDermott to claim that his side would struggle to compete for a top-six finish without the arrival of players in January.
His ability to sign them depends heavily on the completion of a takeover which is being fronted by United managing director David Haigh and backed by Andrew Flowers, a senior figure at Leeds’ shirt sponsor Enterprise Insurance.
The consortium are on the verge of purchasing a majority shareholding from the club’s current owner, GFH Capital, having struck an agreement with the Dubai-based firm on November 30.
United initially indicated that the sale would go through before the end of 2013 but the legalities and formalities of the change of ownership at Elland Road – among them the need for the Football League to approve the deal – appear to be close to completion.
The January window opens in 48 hours’ time, however, and McDermott’s side will reach it in seventh position in the table after two draws and a defeat from their last three games.
McDermott said: “I’ve spoken to the owners and I’ve given them four names who I think would be good additions next month. We now have to try and do a deal with their club. Can we do a deal, do we have the money? We’ll see what happens.
“But it’s pretty evident where we are as a club, a team and a squad. We definitely need to add to what we’ve got. But I’m sure the owners see that. There’s no reluctance on their part. They want to do the best they can for Leeds United, that’s definitely the feeling I get.”

Leeds takeover on course to be finalised by Haigh in New Year

Yorkshire Post 30/12/13
by Richard Sutcliffe
THE second takeover of Leeds United in a little over 12 months is expected to go through early in the New Year, sources close to the group looking to take control at Elland Road have told the Yorkshire Post.
A consortium led by United managing director David Haigh is bidding to buy a 75 per cent stake in the Championship club, who yesterday ended 2013 with a disappointing 2-1 defeat at Nottingham Forest.
Last month, the group – which includes Andrew Flowers, the managing director of current shirt sponsors Enterprise Insurance – signed a share acquisition agreement with GFH Capital, the Dubai-based firm that purchased United from Ken Bates a year ago.
Since then, the working out of the deal’s legalities, which has included Football League approval, has been the priority for Haigh’s consortium and sources have suggested to this newspaper that these are all but done. The deal, therefore, will go through once the festive holidays are out of the way.
That will see Haigh head over to the League’s Preston headquarters for the second time in a little over a year, the club’s managing director having been a pivotal figure in the GFH Capital takeover of December, 2012.
Providing there are no late hitches, supporters will then be expecting Brian McDermott to be backed in the January transfer window as the United manager looks to turn a promising position at the halfway stage – they head into the New Year sitting seventh – into a concerted push for promotion.
Following yesterday’s defeat – which was more comprehensive than the final score suggested – the Leeds chief revealed his list of targets contains four names.
He said: “We definitely need to add to what we have got. The lads have done fantastically well for me and we are seventh in the league. But we need a bit of help, there is no doubt about that.
“I am sure the owners see that. There is no reluctance on their part. They want to do the best they can for Leeds United. That is definitely the feel I get from the owners.
“Everyone is travelling in the same direction. They know the history and want Leeds United to do well.”
Defeat at the City Ground meant United fell out of the top six but McDermott, who has fitness worries over Paddy Kenny (ankle) and Ross McCormack (hamstring) ahead of the New Year clash with Blackburn Rovers, said: “We are in an okay position in the league. There are 23 games to go and I know where we are at.
“I have spoken to the owners and I have given them four names who I think would be good additions.
“Many things are involved. You have to try and do a deal with their club. Can we do a deal? Do we have the money? We will see what happens.
“Sometimes, these things happen naturally. Players come in and players go out. That has happened in my first eight months at the club.
“I have never said there is any quick fix. I have always said it will take time. I think the fans appreciate that. The majority, at least.
“We are trying to get there as quickly as we can. There has been a lot of improvement at the club, both on and off the pitch. Vast improvements. But we need to keep that going.”
United were bossed for the opening 45 minutes yesterday but looked to have rescued a point when Ross McCormack cancelled out Greg Halford’s first half strike.
However, just 70 seconds later, Matt Derbyshire netted the winner to ensure that, on the balance of play, justice was done.
McDermott added: “I thought we looked a bit leggy. If you look at the end we had three young players in terms of experience coming on. I feel sorry for Matt Smith because we’re not working the ball through the midfield the way we want to and we need to work on that to get to crossing areas for Matt to play to his strengths.”

Derbyshire downs Leeds to boost Forest promotion push

Telegraph 29/12/13
By Les Scott, at the City Ground
Goals from a full-back-turned-striker and a late substitute proved enough to give Nottingham Forest victory over Leeds United in a game Forest dominated from start to finish. The victory extends Forest’s unbeaten run to six matches and strengthens their position in the Championship play-off places.
“It’s where I planned for us to be come January,” said Billy Davies, the Forest manager. “First objective was to be in the play-off places come the new year. I have spoken to the chairman and if we are to achieve objectives two and three, which is to stay in the play-off places and eventually achieve promotion, then we shall have to strengthen in the January window.”
Possible new recruits apart, Forest did their promotion credentials no harm at all with this convincing win over a disappointing Leeds side who aspire to promotion themselves. On the evidence of this game, bookies will be offering by far the shorter odds on Davies’s side.
Forest started the brighter and their endeavour paid dividends in the 24th minute when an Andy Reid free-kick found Greg Halford lurking at Paddy Kenny’s left-hand post. The makeshift striker headed firmly home for his second goal in as many games since being converted from full-back.
A minute later, Andy Reid came close to doubling Forest’s tally when his 20-yard drive skimmed Kenny’s crossbar. Forest continued to dominate with Leeds showing only flashes of the form that had left them unbeaten in their previous five matches.
As half-time beckoned Djamel Abdoun cut in from the left but Jamie Mackie missed a good opportunity to make it two when his resultant effort was weak and wide.
Leeds were much brighter after the break but it was Forest who looked the more likely to snatch a goal and came close in the 74th minute when Nathaniel Chalobah set up Reid whose thumping drive from 25 yards came back off a post.
Forest appeared to be coasting to victory. In the 83rd minute, however, during a rare forage forward into the Forest penalty area, Leeds equalised. The previously solid Forest rearguard failed to clear their lines and Ross McCormack bundled the ball home for his 18th goal of the season.
Leeds’s joy was short-lived. From the restart the ball was worked to substitute Matt Derbyshire on the right. Leeds switched off, let the former Blackburn striker advance and choose his spot before hitting a screamer from 25 yards across Kenny.
Forest almost made it three when Simon Cox fired narrowly wide.
“We dominated them from start to finish,” said Davies, “Actually I’m a little disappointed not to have kept a clean sheet. The goal they scored was their only real effort. Derbyshire’s goal was an absolute beauty, worthy of winning any game and no more than we deserved.”
Davies refused to be drawn on who he hoped to sign in the January window other than he had two players in mind and was “very hopeful” of adding to his already weighty squad.
“It was frustrating,” said Leeds boss Brian McDermott. “We didn’t play well but we hauled ourselves back into the game only to lose concentration and the game.
“I’m looking to bring in four players I believe can make a big difference to us and our promotion push.”

Nottingham Forest 2 Leeds United 1: McDermott recognises need for fresh faces

Yorkshire Evening Post 29/12/13
Brian McDermott warned that a top-six finish would be an ambitious target for Leeds United’s existing squad after a lethal Matt Derbyshire goal left him looking enviously at Nottingham Forest’s resources.
McDermott gave credit to his side for their form in the first half of the Championship season but said the range of players on offer to Forest manager Billy Davies was a key factor during Leeds’ 2-1 defeat at the City Ground yesterday.
Derbyshire won an eventful game with a sublime shot from 20 yards, scored in the 83rd minute and a matter of seconds after Ross McCormack scored an equaliser for a United team who McDermott described as “leggy”.
Forest signed Derbyshire from Olympiakos in 2011, one of a number of expensive transfers completed by them in the past two years, and Davies was able to call him up from the bench towards the end of yesterday’s clash.
The Forest boss is planning to make further signings in January and said after their win over Leeds that “this is the time when people avoid relegation, when they get promotion and when they set themselves up for the rest of the season.”
The three substitutes used by McDermott – Sam Byram, Dominic Poleon and recent recruit Gboly Ariyibi – had an average age of 19 and his side found no answer to Derbyshire’s late finish.
“It was a great strike and that’s the quality they’ve got,” McDermott said.
“They’ve spent a lot of money over the years.
“Forest are trying to get out of the division and that’s where they’re at.
“I expect them to be right up there with the spending power they have.
“My lads have done fantastically well for me and we’re seventh in the league.
“We’ve got results and we’re in an okay position.
“But we know we need to add to what we’ve got next month.”
McDermott is slowly nearing the end of his first year in charge of Leeds having taken over from former boss Neil Warnock in April with United in relegation trouble.
“I have never said there is any quick fix,” McDermott said.
“I’ve always said it will take time. And I think the fans appreciate that. The majority at least.
“We’re trying to get there as quickly as we can.
“There’s been a lot of improvement at the club, both on and off the pitch. Vast improvement.
“We’ve 23 games to go but I think it’s a tall order to keep this going with the current squad. We need a bit of help, there’s no doubt about that.”
McCormack’s 82nd-minute goal – his 18th of the season –looked to have snatched a point for after Greg Halford scored with a first-half header.
United, who relied on goalkeeper Paddy Kenny to see out the game with an ankle injury suffered in the opening 20 seconds, struggled to find their rhythm in Nottingham and did not find a way to trouble Forest until midway through the second half. McDermott, however, bemoaned a fixture list which forced his squad to contest two away games in three days after Christmas while both of their opponents – Blackpool and Forest – appeared twice at home.
“At this time of the season it’s an advantage to play at home on both Boxing Day and December 29,” he said.
“I wish we had been able to do that. To me, it’s a huge advantage.”

Nottingham Forest 2 Leeds United 1: Whites undone late on

Yorkshire Post 29/12/13
A spectacular strike from substitute Matt Derbyshire helped Nottingham Forest beat Leeds 2-1 and claim back-to-back wins for the first time since August.
The Reds’ promotion push had stuttered recently, but Derbyshire’s 25-yard stunner secured a hard-fought victory that followed up the the Boxing Day success over QPR.
Promotion rivals Leeds looked to have secured a point when Ross McCormack fired home in the 83rd minute to cancel out Greg Halford’s first-half header - but Derbyshire came up with his match-winning moment just a minute later.
It left Forest only five points behind second-placed Derby in the Sky Bet Championship table.
Leeds almost made a nightmare start as Tom Lees fed a short back pass to Paddy Kenny in the first 30 seconds, leaving Halford to chase through. The keeper just managed to beat the striker in the race for the ball, but took a clattering for his trouble, as Halford - quite fairly - slid in to challenge strongly.
Jamie Mackie fluffed his lines when Andy Reid had picked him out with a clever pass, with the former QPR man failing to make proper contact with a shot with the goal at his mercy.
But when Michael Brown brought down Reid crudely for the second time in the game in the 23rd minute - the Leeds man was booked - Forest inflicted further punishment.
Reid regained his feet to deliver a precise ball to the far post, where Halford rose to plant a towering header back across goal and into the net.
Two minutes later and it might have been 2-0 to the home side, with Reid seeing a spectacular dipping shot skim the roof of the net.
Following more good work from Reid, Radoslaw Majewski’s near-post shot was pushed away well by Kenny.
Matt Smith could have done better with a header at the other end, which he flashed wide of the upright having risen unchallenged.
Leeds were clearly aware of the threat posed by Reid, who was clattered for the third time in the game, this time by Rodolph Austin, who was also booked.
After winning possession wide on the left in the second half, Mackie embarked on a driving run, before feeding Djamel Abdoun on the right side of the box, where the Algerian forced a good reaction save from Kenny with a rising shot.
Reid was then unlucky not to score when he smashed a spectacular effort against the outside of the post.
And it looked to have been a pivotal moment when Leeds almost immediately charged up the other end of the pitch to equalise.
Following a melee in the box, the ball broke for McCormack and he lashed a low shot inside the post.
But, almost straight from the kick-off, Forest were ahead again, with Derbyshire pulling a goal right out of the top drawer.
There seemed to be little danger when he collected possession 25 yards out, but the striker sent a breathtaking shot high into the corner of the net.

Nottingham Forest 2 Leeds United 1: Flat Whites suffer Forest reality check

Yorkshire Evening Post 29/12/13
by Phil Hay
The pragmatist in Brian McDermott will call this a lull but perhaps the strain is starting to show.
A hard Christmas and the fall-out from it encourages the view that he and his Leeds United squad have exceeded their true capacity to master the Championship this season.
Leeds approach the new year with the play-offs directly above them but with wounds to lick after their defeat at Nottingham Forest yesterday. It was not the result itself which resonated so much as the cost of seven short days in which all but two points have gone begging. Matt Derbyshire’s late bullet at the City Ground took Forest’s return to seven.
McDermott might drag up the fixture list and argue that – last Saturday’s derby against Barnsley aside – the final week of 2013 had the potential to end this way after the Football League dropped back-to-back away matches on Leeds, both against teams with an eye on the play-offs. But the run from Barnsley and Forest – interspersed with a 1-1 draw at Blackpool – had an undercurrent of fatigue that Leeds would be rash to ignore.
This is, technically, a season without expectation insofar as the board at Leeds are asking their manager for nothing more than a finishing position which exceeded last season’s – 12th or higher – and there was limited confidence at the outset of Leeds finishing the year as prominently as they have.
McDermott refused to be drawn on how he thought the squad he inherited and tweaked in the summer would fare, saying he had “genuinely no idea”, but he has never shouted the odds about promotion either. The new year will tell whether Leeds have been punching above their weight or are simply the victims of a brief, festive wobble, but reinforcement of their team would help. It is no bad thing to see January 48 hours away.
United were beaten at Forest by Derbyshire’s sublime finish in the 83rd minute, a 20-yard missile produced seconds after Ross McCormack’s equaliser gave Leeds a shot in the arm. For a few brief moments it appeared to have teased a point from a scrap in which McDermott’s only fit and proven goalkeeper, Paddy Kenny, played through the obvious pain of an early injury and his midfield experienced one of those tired, gruelling, inanimate days. Derbyshire did not even give them time to enjoy it.
Leeds have experienced more profitable yuletides, and two points from three games amounts to a stutter in a long week. In its entirety it felt less like the post-Christmas annihilation suffered on Neil Warnock’s watch in 2012 but the club’s league position is begging United’s board to set McDermott loose in the transfer window.
Forest are one of the clubs who intend to invest next month – Davies said before yesterday’s game that he was looking for “some firepower and depth”, with Forest already fifth in the table – and McDermott might believe himself that Leeds would be asking too much of his own squad unless they commit to doing the same.
A takeover has been pending at Elland Road for several weeks, fronted by club managing director David Haigh and backed by Andrew Flowers, the managing director of Enterprise Insurance, and those working on the buy-out expect the Football League to approve the deal within days of the transfer window opening. The claim from the outset was that McDermott’s spending power in January would be better because of it, a promise which ought to hold water.
For four months Leeds have ridden the imbalance of their resources and the limitations of a group of players who made hard work of keeping relegation at arm’s length last season, and they have ridden them well. But a heavy weight rests on a small core of professionals and the first 20 seconds of yesterday’s defeat at Forest reminded McDermott of that.
The game had barely passed the kick-off when Marius Zaliukas sold Kenny short with a mis-hit pass and obliged his keeper to expose himself to the full weight of Greg Halford’s challenge for the ball. Halford walked away while Kenny writhed on the ground. Several minutes of treatment followed.
United have been without Kenny’s understudy, Jamie Ashdown, since April and recent X-rays of Ashdown’s broken toe did not offer much encouragement of a swift comeback. Alex Cairns was McDermott’s alternative at the City Ground – a youngster with the experience of only one prior appearance, that as a substitute in a 5-0 defeat to Blackpool two years ago – and the United boss left Kenny on the field. It was apparent before long that Kenny was struggling to kick the ball with any clout.
If Forest were aware of his handicap they took time to exploit it. In his haste to shoot, Jamie Mackie scuffed a meek, 13th-minute strike in no particular direction as United’s defence parted in front of Kenny and Leeds made the effort to keep stretches of the game in Forest’s half of the pitch. But they were picked apart in a flurry of self-destructive football on 23 minutes.
Michael Brown drew a booking which had been on its way from the moment he caught Andy Reid in the back of the head in the opening exchanges by hacking down the same player with a sliding tackle 40 yards from goal. Reid, whose assists this season are about to run into double figures, pinged the free-kick to the far post where Halford leapt above Zaliukas and planted a header beyond Kenny’s reach.
Within seconds of the restart Reid appeared unmarked 18 yards from Kenny’s goal and attacked him with a chip which beat the keeper and landed on the roof of his net. By the half hour, Kenny was urging his bench to pull him from the fray as Cairns warmed up on the touchline. Leeds pressed on and Jack Hobbs intervened to prevent Matt Smith nodding Luke Murphy’s corner into the corner of Forest’s net on 33 minutes.
Forest had two more sights of Kenny before half-time, with Radoslaw Majewski forcing him to push a rising shot around a post and Jamie Mackie hooking Djamal Abdoun’s cut-back wide. Leeds gave their keeper a once-over before the second half and allowed him to continue. Again, the pressure on him was sporadic.
Abdoun brought a two-handed parry from Kenny midway through the half but Leeds hung in for long enough for the stadium to grow tense. Gboly Ariyibi was sent on for his debut and saw bright lights of a dream start when Smith’s knockdown fell to him. A wild volley sent the ball out for a throw-in.
If McDermott had the feeling that this was not his day, the closing stages confirmed it. Reid struck a post with a deft hit from 20 yards and watched as Leeds broke forward and teed up McCormack. A low shot from Byram was cleared against the body of Forest keeper Karl Darlow and dropped kindly for McCormack who turned the ricochet into an open goal.
The impetus swung but reversed immediately as Forest’s attack from the kick-off played Derbyshire to the edge of United’s area where a bludgeoning swing of his foot hacked the ball into the top corner of Kenny’s net. The irate argument that ensued between the keeper and Austin was frustration personified.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Leeds United: Peltier’s happy with goal if not the result

Yorkshire Evening Post 28/12/13
Lee Peltier is hoping his goal against Blackpool will be the first of many for Leeds, but the team comes First, as he tells Phil Hay.
Lee Peltier is not the sort of player who haggles over goal bonuses. His most recent strike before Boxing Day was so long ago that he could hardly visualise it. “It must have been at Leicester or something like that,” he said, unable to remember where or when.
It was indeed at Leicester, scored in the final month of his one and only season in the Midlands. Even that owed much to Doncaster Rovers goalkeeper Carl Ikeme who fumbled Peltier’s weak cross into his net. His first Leeds United goal was such a collectors’ item, taken with a cute header against Blackpool on Thursday, that his team-mates asked if he’d buried it by mistake.
Goalscoring has never been Peltier’s forte – seven to his name in eight years as a professional and one in 67 appearances for Leeds – but it is a weakness in his game that Brian McDermott wants him to think about. The wing-back profited from his own ambition at Bloomfield Road, drifting quietly into Blackpool’s box and meeting Danny Pugh’s cross with a precise finish from a difficult angle. “It was a terrific goal,” McDermott said.
Peltier’s 25th-minute effort was worth no more than a point, to his frustration and that of his manager. An organised performance fell foul of Blackpool’s first shot on target, a deflected strike from Tom Ince which wrong-footed Paddy Kenny and level the score a 1-1 midway through the second half. Until that moment, Peltier’s first goal in 20 months was opening the door to United’s first Boxing Day win for four years.
“I’m buzzing about the goal and I’m just gutted it wasn’t the winner,” Peltier said.
“I honestly can’t remember the last one I scored. It must have been at Leicester. All the lads have been caning me, saying I didn’t mean it and that I meant to aim it over the crossbar.
“But it was a great ball from Pughy and the gaffer’s been on at me to get myself into the box more. I stay back for corners and so on and I don’t get forward as much as I would like to but I think I’m decent in the air and decent at set-pieces. I saw the chance at Blackpool and it paid off.
“The result frustrating, though. Their goal was a deflection and to honest I think Paddy was about to pick it out the air. It didn’t look like it was going to bother him at all. Apart from that I don’t think they hurt us. But you take the point.”
It made for a steady start to the post-Christmas schedule, rather than a rousing one. A victory of any type at Bloomfield Road would have lessened the pressure on tomorrow’s game at Nottingham Forest, the second half of a peculiar, luck-of-the-draw system in which United drew the short straw and landed two away games immediately after Christmas. Both Blackpool and Forest had the luxury of a home fixture on Boxing Day and again this weekend.
McDermott admitted after Thursday’s match that his priority was to reach January and the start of the transfer window with a play-off position in United’s hands. “We’re trying to stay in the top six,” he said, and their draw at Blackpool did exactly that. A similar result at Forest – the only Championship side who Leeds are yet to play – might not be enough to do the same again.
“We’re still scoring goals and we’re still creating opportunities,” Peltier said. “I think the main thing is that you keep on taking points from every game – one point here, three points there. Whatever you can get you take it, so long as it keeps on moving you up the table.
“Forest had a bit of a dip of form before Christmas but the expectations there are very high with all the money they’ve had coming in. But we’ll be looking to get three points tomorrow. And if not that, we’ll make sure we take a point again.”
Leeds will have Luke Murphy available after suspension and Marius Zaliukas fit and available despite two inadvertent attempts to break his legs. The Lithuanian was the victim of a reckless tackle by Barnsley’s Marcus Tudgay last weekend – a challenge which earned Tudgay a straight red card – and was pole-axed again by Kirk Broadfoot in the final minute of Thursday’s draw. Broadfoot’s dismissal was Blackpool’s ninth of the season.
“It was a horrendous tackle which could have really hurt him,” Peltier said. “It was worse than the one against Barnsley.
“I’m just happy he’s alright because he’s been a great signing for us. We call him Ivan Drago (the fictional Russian character in Rocky IV).”
More contentious than that incident was referee Scott Mathieson’s refusal to dismiss Broadfoot for a 68th-minute foul on Ross McCormack as United’s leading scorer ran in behind Blackpool’s defence and shaped to shoot.
Mathieson booked Broadfoot amid strong protests from Leeds and McDermott later accused the official of missing a “certain sending off.” It was a pivotal moment with the game level and delicately balanced.
“I thought it was a clear red card,” Peltier said.
“Ross was in on goal and in the form he’s been in, it would have no surprise at all to see him stick it in the back of the net. The ref obviously decided to give a yellow card but I think 90 per cent of people there will have thought it was a straight red.”
The benefit of the doubt given to Broadfoot was symptomatic of a week in which Leeds have waited in vain for something to fall for them. Their result at Blackpool was a creditable result away from home but followed on from a more costly draw with Barnsley at Elland Road. McDermott’s decision to field Peltier at at Bloomfield Road was a bold one on account of the defenders ineffective outing against Barnsley. The 27-year-old had been substituted after 45 minutes last weekend, replaced by Sam Byram, but he took less than half-an-hour of United’s Boxing Day fixture to justify his inclusion again.
Peltier has started all but four league games this season and most of them in his preferred position on the right side of defence. Byram’s prolonged battle with injury helped to tip the balance of the fight for that particular role in Peltier’s favour but McDermott has had Byram available for the best part of two months. United’s player of the year has barely featured.
“Sam’s a good player and obviously I’ve got to do what I’m doing to get the nod ahead of him. But I’m working as hard as I can because I love playing here. I’m buzzing that the gaffer’s got confidence in me and wants me to be in the team. But me and Sam are good mates and all the lads get on. That’s part of the reason why things are so good here,” said Peltier.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Shifting sands starting to solidify as Leeds United toe the right lines - Hay

Yorkshire Evening Post 28/12/13
by Phil Hay
They will remember 2013 as a year when lines were drawn by Leeds United: one through Neil Warnock, another under Ken Bates and overdue lines of communication established between the club and a disenchanted support.
It also saw the start of United’s 10th consecutive season outside the Premier League and the appointment of their ninth full-time manager since David O’Leary was told to clear his desk in the summer of 2002. Some might call it a nothing year in footballing terms; others will think of 2013 as a time of transition with highlights, lowlights and all the hallmarks of a club who never sleep...

Player of 2013
Ross McCormack. His goals for the calendar year number 23 which, for the sake of relevant comparisons, is seven more than Charlie Austin and five fewer than Jordan Rhodes. He has matured to the point where the presumption of influential performances sits easily with him, as it did with Robert Snodgrass and Luciano Becchio before him, and there is captaincy material in McCormack which barely existed before. Good players are not always the same as big players and in the past 12 months he has crossed over from one category to the other. The unfortunate realisation is that at no point in that period have United found a way of adequately supplementing McCormack’s goals or compensating for his droughts. But look – here comes the transfer window.

Young Player of 2013
Alex Mowatt. It turns out that United’s 18-year-old prodigy is fallible after all. One laboured performance against Barnsley and scrutiny of Mowatt’s physical and mental prowess begins. But half of the battle with prodigious teenagers is knowing when to save them from themselves and Mowatt was in need of a rest over Christmas. All in all, his achievements this year have been exceptional – captain of a title-winning Under-18 squad, the pick of the bunch during an FA Youth Cup tie at Liverpool in February, and a first-team initiation which earned him a new contract within four months of his debut. Mowatt’s England Under-19 call-up proved that he is more than a star in his own back yard, and the Premier League have cottoned on quickly.

Goal of 2013
Rodolph Austin v Burnley, April 16. Total football by Championship standards – patient retention of possession around the halfway line, a neat touch and a pinpoint pass towards the penalty spot by El-Hadji Diouf and a nonchalant finish from Austin as the ball dropped over his shoulder. Only the Jamaican’s goal against Birmingham in October deserves to be placed in the same bracket.

Signing of 2013
Marius Zaliukas. A strange choice until you consider the alternatives: Stephen Warnock, Steve Morison, Habib Habibou, Matt Smith, Luke Murphy, Noel Hunt, Scott Wootton and Dexter Blackstock. Murphy has had his moments but not necessarily as many as you’d want from a £1m signing. Smith gives Zaliukas a run for his money too. But the centre-back’s impact has been more immediate and telling than that of anyone else on that list – a fact that says more about United’s business in the past year than it does about him.

Performance of 2013
Leeds United 2 Tottenham Hotspur 1, January 27. For a man whose interest in cup competitions was virtually nil until his daughter laid a guilt-trip on him, Leeds were never more dangerous under Neil Warnock than in those games where Championship football took a back seat. The FA Cup was a prime target for the now-departed AVB – as demonstrated by the first-rate team he fielded at Elland Road – but Spurs suffered a sound defeat and were beaten by splendid goals from Luke Varney and Ross McCormack. Nothing spoke more highly of their humiliation than Gareth Bale declining to take Sam Byram’s shirt as Byram collected his.

Moment of 2013
Luke Murphy’s goal against Brighton. The million-pound man on the first day of the season in front of a crowd in excess of 33,000. The neutrals will shout for handball every time they see the replay (and Brighton did exactly that) but his breathless winner on 94 minutes was a champagne moment and a sublime way to set the season in motion. Anything seems possible on a day like that.

Championship moment of 2013
Troy Deeney’s play-off winner against Leicester City. Watford’s methods of player recruitment are highly dubious and you’d be less than delighted if your daughter brought Deeney home for tea. But his strike in the play-off semi-finals is why football never lets you off the hook; a saved penalty at one end of the pitch followed seconds later by Deeney volleying past Kasper Schmeichel at the other. Gianfranco Zola ruined his suit in his haste to celebrate and never quite regained his feet at Vicarage Road.

Story of 2013
Ken Bates’ sacking as United’s president. You got the feeling that GFH Capital would be happier without Bates in the background at Elland Road but the allegations leading to his dismissal on July 26 were wholly unforeseen (see the column of November 30 for a full shake-down). A private jet contract, disputed expenses and a range of arguments which Bates and Leeds will fight out in the High Court. You didn’t expect him to go quietly.

Chant of 2013
“You can’t fault their effort, they’re a great set of lads.” So many chants are plagiarised, banal or uninspired but from time-to-time subliminal messages creep through – like the Kop singing the tune of Match of the Day to Alan Shearer while his Newcastle team were being turned over at Anfield. Warnock rarely faulted the effort of his Leeds players and the sound of Elland Road chanting one of his stock phrases during a fateful defeat to Derby on Easter Monday was a damning vote of no confidence. United sacked him later that night.

My duty to Mowatt - Leeds boss McDermott

leedsunited.com 28/12/13
Brian McDermott on Alex Mowatt and Gboly Ariyibi...
Brian McDermott says he will continue to monitor teenage midfielder Alex Mowatt to ensure his development isn't hampered by over playing.
The youngster, who has established himself as a key player since making his debut earlier this season, was left out of the squad which travelled to Blackpool on Boxing Day, with the boss saying the midfielder needed a break from the action.
"I have to look after Alex Mowatt," explained the manager.
"Sam Byram played a lot of games last season - I don't think he missed one until he got injured at the back end - but then he didn't have a pre-season this summer and was playing catch-up.
"We have to be mindful of that with Alex too. We'll see how he is before Sunday. I'll speak with the physios and we'll make a call then. He was tired against Barnsley and we have to look after him."
While the boss praised Michael Brown and Michael Tonge who came into the midfield on Boxing Day, there was another teenager on the bench hoping to make his first appearance.
Gboly Ariyibi is a young winger who hails from America and who was at Southampton's Academy last season. He impressed in training with United and has joined on a short-term basis.
"It wasn't right at Blackpool to bring him on, but we will when the time is right," said the boss.
"I'm not putting pressure on Gboly. He hasn't played for us yet. He has to work hard, which he is doing, and when it's right we'll play him."
United now head for Nottingham Forest on Sunday. Luke Murphy is available again after suspension.
"It's traditionally a fantastic place to play football and we'll look forward to it," added the boss.

Blackpool 1 Leeds United 1: Ref cost us - McDermott

Yorkshire Evening Post 26/12/13
Brian McDermott accused referee Scott Mathieson of missing a “certain sending off” after Tom Ince’s deflected goal denied Leeds United a Boxing Day victory over Blackpool.
McDermott bemoaned Mathieson’s decision to book Kirk Broadfoot for a professional foul on Ross McCormack moments after Ince struck in a 1-1 draw at Bloomfield Road.
Defender Broadfoot tripped McCormack as the Scot broke towards Blackpool’s box in the 68th minute but Mathieson cautioned him as United’s players appealed strongly for a red card.
The official later dismissed Broadfoot for a 90th-minute foul on Leeds defender Marius Zaliukas but the sending off –Blackpool’s ninth of the season – came too late for United to make anything of their numerical advantage.
McDermott said: “It’s a certain sending off and when the referee looks back at it he’ll realise that he’s made an error. It’s unfortunate for him and for us.
“It’s a massive moment because if (Broadfoot) lets Ross go then Ross scores. He’s got the ball under better control than I thought he had and Broadfoot knows himself that he’s going to get sent off. For whatever reason, the referee made the wrong decision.
“Apparently he said to someone that he didn’t think Ross did have the ball under control. If that’s what he’s said to someone else then that’s what he’ll say to me.”
The point gained at Bloomfield Road last night was enough to keep Leeds in a play-off place and extend their unbeaten run to five games but Ince’s equaliser on 65 minutes denied them the chance to seriously strengthen their position in the table.
Lee Peltier had given United control of the game on 25 minutes with his first goal for the club, a looping header from Danny Pugh’s deep cross.
McDermott said: “I thought we were pretty comfortable and their first shot on target has taken a massive deflection.
“Thomas (Ince) is a great player but that one deflected and unfortunately for us it’s flown into the back of the net.
“Overall I thought we were solid and resolute. They were running out of ideas before their goal and in the last 10 minutes it could have gone either way. But you need to keep the results ticking over and we have.”

Blackpool 1 Leeds United 1: Peltier joy cut short by dangerman Ince

Yorkshire Evening Post 26/12/13
by Phil Hay
Christmas comes once a year and so statistically do Lee Peltier’s goals.
Tom Ince has a habit of producing them more frequently and the ace up Blackpool’s sleeve was used again last night as Leeds United fell short of a precious win.
This season is Peltier’s eighth as a professional and his exquisite header at Bloomfield Road the seventh goal of his career; his first as a Leeds United player, naturally.
Taken with precision after 25 minutes of a game which was crying out for something from anyone, his header opened the door to all sorts of possibilities until Ince carried Blackpool with a deflected equaliser.
The England Under-21 international scored with his and his club’s first shot on target, helped by a wild flick off the body of Marius Zaliukas, United’s Lithuanian defender. With 65 low-key minutes played, it made a mess of an evening which Leeds had controlled easily; an evening which before that point was painting the Championship in a remarkably healthy light.
The January transfer window is days away and Leeds were less than half an hour from travelling to Nottingham Forest on Sunday – their final match of 2013 – with three points protecting their place in the play-offs and six between them and second place; a sizeable gap but not the yawning chasm it was when Brian McDermott’s squad turned their fire on upper reaches of the league in early November.
There was no panache in United’s performance and nothing extraordinary about their football but for more than 60 minutes a tactically adept and disciplined approach dealt with the first leg of a difficult run to the end of the year.
As Blackpool prayed for the inspiration given to Leeds by Peltier of all people, Ince turned the tide with a strike from 20 yards, converted amid a crucial absence of markers but diverted past Paddy Kenny by Zaliukas.
A fraught finish was not tense enough for United to feel content with a point by the sea.
They were hampered by a referee who shied away from sending off Kirk Broadfoot seconds after Ince’s goal and a midfield who ran out of energy towards the end of the second half. It was notable again that McDermott resisted all the options on his bench, reluctant to look to his substitutes for assistance as Blackpool belatedly warmed to a freezing occasion.
The dilemma for him over Christmas dinner was how best to replace the suspended Luke Murphy, the first and only Leeds player to have earned five yellow cards and a statutory one-match ban.
By the time Leeds arrived at Blackpool, he went further than one change and dropped Alex Mowatt after the teenager’s brief and off-colour outing against Barnsley.
The selection of Michael Tonge and Michael Brown was a sharp swing from raw exuberance to hard-nosed experience in the centre of midfield, though Mowatt’s flaky contribution last weekend merited a chance for him to draw breath.
The 18-year-old was not even afforded a place on the bench, his seat taken by Gboly Ariyibi, the young winger signed by Leeds on a free transfer earlier this month. Ariyibi has been around the squad at Thorp Arch for little more than a fortnight but McDermott’s urge to blood him was evident from the outset and Ariyibi’s recovery from an innocuous injury gave him the opportunity yesterday.
Ariyibi offered a turn of pace that was missing from United’s line-up but Blackpool’s tight pitch was never likely to be conducive to wide-open conflict.
A Boxing Day slog threatened to set in before Peltier dipped his oar into a meandering river and claimed the opening goal.
Brown stuck his in at the first opportunity by sliding through the legs of Dan Gosling – a tackle worthy of a booking which never came – but the football waited quietly for its moment to shine; Blackpool passing in front of Leeds and Leeds giving Blackpool’s defence minimal trouble with direct chips towards the head of Matt Smith.
The message from 20 minutes of congested, chance-free exchanges was that goals might be scarce barring a spanner in the works of either team.
Smith made a pretence at meeting Danny Pugh’s deep cross but was running out of play by the time he got his head to the ball, and Blackpool dithered on the few occasions when Kenny’s 18-yard line was breached.
But just as it seemed that both sides could play to next Christmas without scoring, United crafted a precise goal for the most unlikely candidate on the field. Tonge’s persistence on the left wing gave Pugh enough space to drill the ball towards a crowd of three Leeds’ players beyond Matt Gilks’ far post, and Peltier beat the goalkeeper with a deft, hanging header which looped over Gilks’ right hand.
The nature of the game placed high value on the first goal and Blackpool’s attempts to redeem Peltier’s header were blatantly telegraphed and badly disjointed. Broadfoot crashed a free header over the crossbar after Ince planted a corner into the zone in front of Kenny but Blackpool were as relieved to see Barry Ferguson clip the ball away from Ross McCormack’s feet in front of their goal two minutes later.
There was an air of Ince-or-bust in Blackpool’s play and Leeds wrapped him up as tightly as they could.
Around him, the lack of conviction was a palpable problem for his father and manager. Long-range shots from Broadfoot and Jack Robinson early in the second half were a dream for Kenny who waved them safely over his net. By the hour Leeds were looking for ways to pick Blackpool off.
Rodolph Austin mis-hit a volley from a useful position, bundling his shot wide, and almost provided the finishing touch at the end of a counter-attack started by Peltier and McCormack.
Paul Ince sat tight for 62 minutes before asking substitute Nathan Delfouneso to do what Gosling couldn’t.
Instead it was his son who proved his value again three minutes later by wriggling into space outside the box and lashing the ball against Zaliukas.
Kenny was already committed to a dive across goal and grasped at air as the ball sailed past his right hand.
Blackpool raised their tails immediately and chased a winning goal without coming closer than another delicate strike from Ince which curled around a post. Broadfoot ruined United’s best opportunity by tripping out McCormack as the striker broke clear but referee Scott Mathieson angered McDermott’s players by issuing no more than a booking.
He was eventually compelled to send Broadfoot off in the final minute of the game when the defender caught Zaliukas outside his own box with a loose and reckless lunge. These days red cards are the only thing more predictable in Blackpool than the positive influence of Tom Ince.

Blackpool 1 Leeds United 1: Referee cost Leeds away win, claims McDermott

Yorkshire Post 26/12/13
Leeds boss Brian McDermott believes referee Scott Mathieson cost his side victory against Blackpool by failing to dismiss Seasiders’ defender Kirk Broadfoot earlier in their 1-1 draw at Bloomfield Road.
Broadfoot, who was eventually shown a straight red card in the final minute for a nasty challenge on Marius Zaliukas, hauled down Ross McCormack on the edge of the area when the striker was seemingly clean through on goal.
Referee Mathieson produced only a yellow card and Blackpool eventually held on for a point.
Midway through the first half, Lee Peltier had nodded Leeds in front but Tom Ince’s 65th-minute deflected strike ensured Blackpool ended a run of four straight defeats.
Leeds remain in the play-off places and unbeaten in five but McDermott is convinced Mathieson cost his side all three points. “The referee made an error when Ross McCormack ran through on goal,” said McDermott.
“Kirk Broadfoot brought him down and he’s going in on goal, he’s got the ball under control and the referee has made the wrong decision. He’s given him a yellow card but it had to be a sending off.
“It’s a massive moment in the match because he’s one-on-one with the goalkeeper and if he scores, which I’d back him to, then we probably go on to win the game.
“Marius (Zaliukas) has taken a nasty tackle for the red card towards the end but luckily he’s okay and he’s a brave boy because it was a bad challenge.
“Overall we’re happy, sometimes you go away from home and be solid and we’ve done that. We’ve kept the points ticking over away from home and we move on to Nottingham Forest.”
Blackpool came into the match on a run of two defeats from their last three at home in the Championship but they did miss several chances.
And assistant Alex Rae was full of praise for Ince while admitting the the Seasiders squad is set for a major shake-up in January.
“We told them to be patient and tried to switch the play plenty, which is where we got plenty of joy,” said Rae.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Leeds United: Hard work is starting to pay off for Lees

Yorkshire Evening Post 26/12/13
by Phil Hay
TOM LEES admits the 2013-14 campaign has been an up and down one from a personal perspective – but he is confident things are turning for the better.
The 23-year-old, in his third season as a fully-fledged regular at United, says his early form represented something of a disappointment, with the centre-half known to place high standards upon himself and one who analyses his own performance levels somewhat assiduously.
Slowly but surely, Lees feels his form is getting back to the levels of 2011-12 and 2012-13, which culminated in him representing England in last summer’s Uefa European Under-21s Championships in Israel.
Coincidently, in his last three matches in a United jersey, the club have not conceded a goal and Lees, operating on the right-hand side of a central defensive trio, is hoping it’s a sign of things to come.
He said: “It’s been an up-and-down season for myself really. I had a long summer playing, although I am not using that as an excuse. (Although) maybe I was a bit tired coming back from that tournament in the summer.
“I wasn’t at my best for the first five games; it’s as simple as that. I spoke to the manager and he told me what he wanted me to do. I’ve just tried to keep my head down really.
“I spoke to him and he told me what he wanted from me. Fair play, he gave me my chance again and I came back in and I am doing all I can to be the centre-half he wanted me to be. “I think he has got very strong views on how he wants us three to play at the back. Our job at the moment is to keep clean sheets and luckily enough, we got one this week and last week and against Wigan. We have got to keep doing that.”
He added: “I don’t think I’ve been awful, but I have high standards for myself. In the first games, I wasn’t reaching those levels.
“I think in the last few games, I’ve come back into a bit of form.
“I am really enjoying it.
“I came out of the team and since I have come back, I have been trying to do everything I can to hold onto my shirt. I am just going to try and hold onto my spot now for the rest of the season and do what I can to keep improving; like I do all the time.”
McDermott’s employment of a 3-5-2 system with three central defenders has yielded fruit since the last international break, with Marius Zaliukas providing a reliable middle man either side of Lees and the rejuvenated Jason Pearce.
Wootton is in the fray again following an ankle injury sustained in last month’s victory at Charlton Athletic and if the ankle problem which Zaliukas picked up in the latter stages of Saturday’s derby draw with visiting Barnsley clears up, boss Brian McDermott will have three centre-halves chomping at the bit and fighting for three places.
Other mini personal battles to claim a United jersey are taking place across the park and Lees is of the view that the competition can only be a good thing.
He said: “There’s a lot of competition. People saw that on Saturday when Pelts (Lee Peltier) came off for Sam (Byram). Maybe that’s because the manager thinks that might give us a bit more coming forward.
“The manager is fair enough, he is going to pick what he thinks will win. At least, he’s not afraid of saying if you are playing well or not playing well, then you are going to be in or out. You’ve seen with people like Danny Pugh this season, who has come in and done fantastically well when he’s had the chance.”
Despite the disappointment of a bumper crowd not witnessing a home win last weekend, Lees says United’s cup should very much remain half-full – especially with the side moving up a place to fifth despite being pegged back by the Reds.
He added: “We came off after getting a draw against the bottom of the league and went up a place.
“It just seemed the longer the game went on, we had more and more chances. But it didn’t seem like we were going to get one. But we were pleased to keep a clean sheet at the other end and that’s all we can do at the back.”

Leeds United: Mac will shuffle his pack for busy run

Yorkshire Evening Post 26/12/13
by Phil Hay
Brian McDermott is preparing to utilise his squad resources over a strength-sapping schedule of four matches in the space of ten days – starting with the Championship trip to Blackpool.
The Whites boss must make one enforced change with Luke Murphy serving a one-match ban after accruing five yellow cards, with Michael Tonge the favourite to replace him.
Tonge’s 45 minutes on Saturday represented his first taste of league action since the 3-1 reverse at Derby on October 5.
The former Sheffield United midfielder is one of a number of senior players who have found themselves on the periphery for spells during the first half of the campaign, with others to cool their heels on the bench for significant chunks of 2013-14 including Paul Green, Michael Brown and El-Hadji Diouf.
Between them, the quartet have started just 16 league between this term, with Luke Varney and Stephen Warnock also on the fringes for stints.
McDermott has consistently said that players will get their opportunities when the chances arise, with the recent elevation back into the first team of Danny Pugh proof that the door remains open to all his first-team squad.
Meanwhile, Scott Wootton is standing by to replace Marius Zaliukas if he misses today’s game with an ankle injury.
McDermott, whose side face games at Blackpool, Nottingham Forest and Rochdale along with a January 1 home clash with Blackburn to negotiate in just under ten days, said: “It’s a tough spell and this is a period where you need all of your players.
“It’s why you have a squad and why you need the squad to be strong enough to cope with the games because they come at you so quickly.
“We’ve got players who are ready for a game and wanting to play. Look at Tongey. He came on against Barnsley and made a difference. That’s what I’d expect people to do. Sam (Byram) came on and so did Dominic (Poleon) and you’re looking for lads like them to make an impact.
“I’ve spoken a lot about the importance of the group and the fact that everyone who’s here is involved and has a chance. I mean it.
“Over the years, you get used to Christmas and the turnaround. But you do need to be careful with players and you do need to think carefully about your teams. I always give lots of thought to my line-up – usually at about two o’clock in the morning – but it is one of those times where you might have to make changes and think about the players’ condition.
“Recovery is everything at this time of year. It’s just as important as training.
“There’s a lot of pressure on everyone at Christmas, but I don’t not enjoy it.
“I love being involved in football and you don’t get more football than you do over Christmas. It’s a good time.”
While Murphy sits out today’s game, his midfield colleague Alex Mowatt, on four bookings, also has the threat of a one-match ban looming if he picks up another caution before the new year.
In general, United’s discipline has been another of the redeeming features of a positive 2013-14 and McDermott wants to keep it that way.
McDermott, who substituted Mowatt on Saturday to protect him from another caution, said: “It’s important to be disciplined. You want to keep players on the pitch and suspensions can cost you.
“You’re going to get yellow cards, that’s part of the game, but what you try to avoid is stupid bookings or needless bookings. “One or two here and there come at a cost if it means you end up getting suspended.
“Obviously Luke’s missing Boxing Day but he’s the only one (to have reached five bookings) so we’ve done well in that respect.”

Christmas is cancelled until May by McDermott

Yorkshire Evening Post 24/12/13
Leeds United’s squad will be made to train on Christmas Day this year with manager Brian McDermott saying: “We’ll have our Christmas in May.”
Leeds are to use the pitch at Elland Road on the evening of December 25 to run through final preparations for their Boxing Day game at Blackpool.
The players at United were given Christmas Day off by McDermott’s predecessor, Neil Warnock, last year but suffered a sound defeat at Nottingham Forest the following afternoon and took nothing from a visit to Hull City three days later.
McDermott said: “We’ll probably train at Elland Road at 5.30pm then we’ll travel. Then we’ll play the next day.
“For me the most important thing is the game. We’ll have Christmas in May.”
But the Leeds boss is wary of overworking his players between four league matches in the next fortnight.
“All you talk about at this time of year is recovery,” he said.
“Steve Coppell used to say that you can lose a game on a Friday but never win it. What he meant was that you can over-train on a Friday and take the energy out of the players’ legs.
“You have to be mindful of that. But we’ve got great staff and know what we’re doing.”

Football before festivities for Tom Lees

leedsunited.com 24/12/13
Tom Lees on a busy Christmas...
There’ll be no complaints from Tom Lees or his Leeds United team-mates when they hit the training ground on Christmas Day in readiness for the Boxing Day trip to Blackpool.
The United squad were back in on Christmas Eve preparing for the Bloomfield Road outing, and they were due to train again on Christmas Day evening before heading across the Pennines ahead of the first of three games in the space of seven days.
“You can’t really moan being a footballer, but if you can have a moan it would be about the Christmas period,” said Tom. “We’ve got a good balance, we’ve got some time off but we will be preparing like we normally do.
“We’ll be in on Christmas Day making sure that we are right for Blackpool. It’s important. I’ve done both sides so I know what it is like to play on Boxing Day without training the day before.
“We are giving ourselves the best chance, we are doing it properly and hopefully that will reward us in terms of points.
“They will be up for the game, Sky Sports will be there and the place will be packed.
“It’s always a bit of a party atmosphere, especially for the Leeds fans so we need to try and give them something to cheer about on Boxing Day.”
United go into the Christmas period in fifth place in the Championship and have lost just one in eight.
“I think that we have realistically given ourselves a chance,” said Tom, who scored a rare goal at Blackpool last season.
“If we can get into mid-January in the position that we are in now, come out of the busy Christmas period, we will have a real chance. Who knows what could happen?
“It is that consistency that we are after and we are just starting to get that in the last few weeks and we have got to carry that on after the Christmas period. We are fully focused and preparing for every game to try and do that.”
With Elland Road crowds on the increase – the last home game before Christmas saw over 31,000 for the visit of Barnsley – and away ticket allocations selling out in a matter of hours, there is a real buzz developing within the city.
“Living in Leeds you sense that everywhere you go that there is a real buzz this season,” added Tom.
“It’s really nice because sometimes playing at home the team can feel under pressure, sometimes look a bit nervous. Now we have come together as one and we’ll be United going forward. We are making it a tough place to come.”

Ross McCormack: Leeds United on a festive mission

Yorkshire Evening Post 24/12/13
by Phil Hay
Championship top gun Ross McCormack is calling on Leeds United to maintain their upward momentum over the festive season – to strengthen boss Brian McDermott’s transfer hand in January.
The Scot has been in the form of his life for the Whites this term and tops the division’s goalscoring charts at Christmas with 16 league goals, three more than nearest rival Danny Ings.
That haul represents exactly half of United’s league goals tally so far in 2013-14, with the in-form striker having fired in 11 of Leeds’ last 16 goals.
His exploits have helped United rise to fifth place in the Championship, with McDermott’s side currently joint-second in the form table for the past six games.
Only Derby County have taken more points, with United having tasted defeat just once in their last eight league outings.
Despite those impressive vital statistics, neither can the recent reliance on McCormack’s goals be ignored, although the 27-year-old’s sole concern is on United being firmly established in the play-off positions by January 1 – in time for the opening of the winter transfer window.
A consortium led by United managing director David Haigh – backed by Andrew Flowers, managing director of United shirt sponsor Enterprise Insurance – are hoping to take control of the club by then.
United have already opened discussions about a deal to re-sign one-time crowd favourite Max Gradel from St Etienne and the sight of the club cementing their top-six credentials would also add to its allure for other potential signings if the purse-strings are loosened.
Setting out United’s yuletide mission, which sees them call in at Blackpool on Boxing Day ahead of visiting Nottingham Forest on Sunday, McCormack said: “We want to be in the top six (in January), as high up as we can be as that will maybe give the manager more power with the owners to get a few more players because we need it.
“It’s going to be a long season and we need all the quality players we can get.
“If you got the choice of going into the top six or mid-table or the relegation zone, it’s obvious where you’re going to go. “The manager will have his targets. Hopefully he can get them.”
McDermott has already revealed his hopes to bring in at least two new players next month to supplement his squad, although McCormack has stopped short of suggesting that the addition of some perspective new acquisitions has served as an extra incentive to United players in their current good run.
With the Leeds boss having utilised his squad members throughout the first half of the campaign, the players’ sole focus has been staying in the team and the squad, with it being competition which is bringing out the best in United, according to McCormack.
He said: “I don’t know if that (promise of January signings) is maybe bringing the best out of the boys because everyone knows that we’ve got to keep playing well not only to stay in the team, but the squad.
“Every week there are players who are missing out on the matchday squad as it is.
“If we bring another two or three in, then there will be even more missing out. We all know how important it is to play well.”

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Blackpool v Leeds United: Murphy out and Zaliukas is a doubt

YEP 23/12/13
by Phil Hay
Marius Zaliukas is an early doubt for Leeds United’s Boxing Day game at Blackpool with manager Brian McDermott bracing himself for the loss of key players.
The Lithuanian centre-back is nursing an ankle injury after a heavy tackle on him earned Marcus Tudgay a straight red card during Saturday’s 0-0 draw between Leeds and Barnsley.
Tudgay caught Zaliukas as the pair dived for a loose ball in the 85th minute and was immediately dismissed by referee Keith Stroud.
Zaliukas played out the last five minutes and a lengthy period of injury-time with three Leeds substitutes already on the field, and McDermott is not yet certain if he will be passed fit to play at Bloomfield Road on Thursday.
McDermott said: “It was a red card. It’s not a good tackle. Danny (Barnsley manager Danny Wilson) will be disappointed when he sees it again and so will the player. He’s gone over the ball.”
Wilson, who was in charge of Barnsley for the first time on Saturday attempted to play down the nature of Tudgay’s foul, saying: “He does pull away from the challenge.
“His body shape is side-on so it looks a lot worse but it’s not malicious or anything like that. He’s just a striker and they can’t tackle to save their lives.
“He’s not that type of guy but I’ve no qualms with the referee. He was right on top of the incident.”
Zaliukas – signed by Leeds as a free agent in October – has been an impressive fixture in McDermott’s line-up for five games running and United are at risk of losing him ahead of the flurry of matches after Christmas.
The club have Scott Wootton available, however, following his stint on the sidelines with a twisted ankle suffered against Charlton Athletic last month.
Wootton was not involved in Saturday’s derby but he was put through a training session with United’s youngsters earlier in the day and could earn a recall against Blackpool if Zaliukas fails to recover.
Midfielder Luke Murphy, meanwhile, will definitely miss the Boxing Day trip to Lancashire after a first-half booking took him over the threshold of five yellow cards. He was cautioned for a first-half foul on Jacob Mellis, one of seven bookings issued by Stroud.
The midfielder is the first of United’s players to reach the five-booking limit this season – a limit which will be applied by the Football Association until the end of this month – but youngster Alex Mowatt has reached four after a caution at the weekend. McDermott chose to substitute Mowatt at half-time.
“We’ve done well with our discipline,” McDermott said. “It’s been really good. But Luke’s suspended so I’ll have to see what team we put out now.”
Leeds’ draw with Barnsley extended their unbeaten home record to seven matches but they were frustrated by a team who are bottom of the table and raised themselves for Wilson’s first game as manager.
Matt Smith had the best of United’s chances – the clearest an early volley which Jack Butland saved from point-blank range – but Barnsley threatened on occasions and Tudgay missed a glorious opportunity to open the scoring shortly before half-time. The result was still enough to lift United up to fifth in the Championship, their highest ranking under McDermott. The club are eight points short of the automatic promotion places but behind only Burnley, QPR, Leicester City and Derby County.
McDermott said: “It was new manager syndrome for us again. I said to my players beforehand ‘play like you’ve got a new manager.’ They didn’t but that’s life.
“The first half wasn’t good but having said that, we did have a really good chance to make it 1-0 through Matt Smith.
“They’ve had a good chance too and could have gone in at half-time 1-0 up so give them credit. We take the point and move up to fifth.”

Monday, December 23, 2013

Leeds United 0 Barnsley 0: Leeds are unable to shake off curse of the Reds

Yorkshire Post 23/12/13
by Richard Sutcliffe
at Elland Road
BEFORE kick-off against Barnsley, Elland Road’s giant electronic screen played a video montage that, in marking the first anniversary of GFH Capital buying Leeds United, made much of what had changed over the last 12 months.
New era, new faces, new approach, new thinking, new ambition, new alliances, new contracts, new initiatives… you name it, they all got a mention to the backdrop of the Shed Seven lyrics ‘It’s getting better all the time’.
The question that such an exhaustive list of self-congratulation begged, however, was whether this ‘new’ Leeds would also include a long overdue change of fortunes against Barnsley, a club who since United’s promotion from League One in 2010 have held something of an Indian sign over their neighbours from just up the M1.
Come 5pm and the end of the United owners’ first birthday celebrations, we had the answer. And it was a resounding ‘no’, thanks to the Reds, with new manager Danny Wilson at the helm, having maintained their impressive recent run of form against Leeds with a hard-fought goalless draw.
Of the two goalkeepers, Barnsley’s Jack Butland may have been the busier with his saves to deny Matt Smith in the first half and Ross McCormack after the interval being of the highest order.
But, on the balance of play and chances created, the visitors were full value for their point – not least because it came after they had played the final five minutes of normal time and six minutes of stoppage time with 10 men following Marcus Tudgay’s dismissal for a late challenge on Marius Zaliukas.
For Leeds, it means they have now lost four and won just one of their seven meetings with Barnsley since winning promotion from League One. Considering the Reds have finished 21st, 21st and 17th during that period and will go into this Christmas rock bottom of the Championship, that is not a sequence of derby results to give anyone at Elland Road any satisfaction.
For Barnsley, though, it is an accurate indication of their performances against Leeds thanks to the Reds having continually reserved some of their best football for taking on the West Yorkshire club.
That was again the case on Saturday, as Wilson’s new charges made a mockery of their lowly standing in the table. Compact and solid in defence thanks to a 4-1-4-1 formation, the visitors also passed the ball impressively and, with steadier finishing, could have claimed all three points.
No wonder, therefore, that the Barnsley camp were in satisfied mood at the final whistle.
Loanee goalkeeper Butland said: “We knew with the game being a derby and with 31,000 here that we would be in a fight. But we had a game plan and that was all about being solid.
“You have to keep clean sheets away from home and it was a fantastic team performance from everyone. We dug it out at times when under pressure.
“But I also thought we got forward and created a few chances. Of the two managers, I would imagine ours will be a little bit happier.
“I thought it was the sort of defensive performance that we all relished – getting blocks in and sliding tackles.
“It is always great to come away with a clean sheet. Maybe the save gave the lads a boost, as after that we restricted them to few chances.
“In the changing room, we were disappointed not to nick a goal but this is a good result and a point that we fully deserved.”
The first half had been all about spurned opportunities, Leeds being culpable in the early stages before this inability to hit the target spread to Barnsley in the latter stages.
Smith, the United striker, was guilty of wasting two excellent chances inside the opening 12 minutes. First, he rushed a shot that Butland was able to block with a fine reflex save when a defter touch would surely have resulted in a goal.
Then, after being set up wonderfully by McCormack, Smith fluffed his effort to allow Barnsley’s goalkeeper to save with ease.
After those two early let-offs, Wilson’s men improved markedly and it took a tip over from Paddy Kenny to keep out Tudgay’s header seven minutes before the break.
Tudgay then had an even better chance just seconds later when, after holding off a challenge from Zaliukas, the loanee from Nottingham Forest shot wide from just 10 yards.
That miss ensured the two sides went in level at the interval and it was a similar story after the restart as McCormack’s looping header from a corner was clawed to safety by Butland.
At the other end, Jacob Mellis fired wastefully into the side netting following a loose pass from Sam Byram before Jim O’Brien shot straight at Kenny when the midfielder seemed ideally placed to break the deadlock.
Tudgay’s red card for his clumsy challenge on Zaliukas then raised Leeds hopes of a late winner but Barnsley stood firm to claim deserved reward for their efforts.
For Leeds, a consolation came with the news they had moved up a place but it was far from the celebration owners GFH Capital had been hoping for on their first anniversary.
Defender Lees said: “We had done well at home so, from that point of view, it was disappointing. But we also went up a place despite drawing at home.
“We also kept a clean sheet. It was the sort of game where we were piling men forward and in the second half we were all over them. To be honest, it was a bit of a leveller with the new manager so we couldn’t look at it like they were bottom of the league. Give Barnsley credit, they played well in the first half.
“We are getting that consistency now. If we can get through this busy period to mid-January in the same position then that would be a nice place to build on.”

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Unit of Bahrain's GFH buys London residential property

Arabian Business 22/12/13
By Andy Sambidge
GFH Capital, a fully owned subsidiary of Bahrain-based Gulf Finance House and the owners of UK football club Leeds United, has announced the acquisition of a prime central London residential property.
Located in Kensington, the property is a Grade II listed building, overlooking the Queens Gate Gardens.
"This investment is in line with GFH Capital's strategy to identify attractive opportunities in developed markets like the UK, where it has already made considerable investments," the company said in a statement without disclosing the value of the deal.
Hisham Al Rayes, managing director of GFH Capital, said: "We are delighted to announce the conclusion of another successful transaction in the UK.
"The property we have acquired is located in the heart of prime central London, where we expect above average capital appreciation to continue over the medium term. Demand for this type of property is coming from investors all over the world and we expect this dynamic to continue due to the favourable conditions of London."
Salem Patel, head of investments at GFH Capital, added: "We believe the prime central London residential real estate market will continue to perform strongly. However, we also see value and upside potential in other real estate markets such as the US and we expect to make additional investments in these markets as well."
GFH Capital has undertaken and structured investments of more than $3 billion in over 40 companies and across 25 countries. It bought Leeds United in December last year following lengthy negotiations, but sold more than half of its 100 percent holding less than six months later.

McDermott - Not a great day at the office

Leeds United boss Brian McDermott seemed happy with a point after a 0-0 draw with Barnsley in
their final home game before Christmas admitting, 'it wasn`t a great day at the office`.
Despite dropping points at home, as they failed to score at home for only the second time this season, Leeds climbed a place into fifth in the championship and McDermott preferred to reflect on the positives after the game.
Speaking on LUTV, McDermott said, "In the first half, thankfully that is 45 minutes of our life that we will never get back. In the second half, we huffed and puffed and we were better.
"I have seen games like that when you lose 1-0 and that was my biggest problem because I thought we could lose the game 1-0.
"Barnsley played well but we were too predictable in the second half but over 46 games we will get games like this.
"You have to keep a clean sheet to get something and today we have moved up a place, so I can`t be too disappointed because I saw the game and how it went.
"We will now move on and we will try to be better in the next game.
"It wasn`t a great day at the office but I will take the point, the clean sheet and moving up a place."
Leeds failed to break down a stubborn Barnsley defence who seemed buoyed by the arrival of new manager Danny Wilson and the visitors had their own chances to win the game.
Matt Smith, Ross McCormack and Danny Pugh all forced Jack Butland into good saves whilst at the other end; Marcus Tudgay wasted the visitor`s best chance when he fired wide when he was in behind the Leeds defence.
Leeds now move on to a busy festive period with three games in six days. First up is a tough looking trip to Blackpool before going on the road again to face Nottingham Forest, with both clubs still harbouring ambitions to make the play-offs this season.
Blackburn Rovers visit Elland Road on New Year`s Day with Leeds looking to gain quick revenge for the defeat at Ewood Park at the end of November, Leeds only defeat in their last eight games.

Leeds United 0 Barnsley 0: Tudgay deserved his red card, insists McDermott

Yorkshire Evening Post 21/12/13
Danny Wilson is convinced rock bottom Barnsley can survive in the Sky Bet Championship after they chalked up only their second clean sheet of the season.
Wilson made an encouraging start to his second spell in charge of the Tykes, who restricted high-flying Leeds to a goalless draw in a combative Yorkshire derby watched by over 31,000 at Elland Road.
The performance was marred by an 84th-minute red card for striker Marcus Tudgay for a two-footed tackle on Leeds’ Lithuanian defender Marius Zaliukas, but Wilson was upbeat about his team’s display.
He said: “It was a very good performance. For large parts of the first half we played really well after our keeper had made a good save.
“We made some chances and if one of them had gone in it would have given us an even bigger incentive.
“We had to defend in great numbers, which is to be expected when you come to Leeds. Brian McDermott has put a good team together and there is no doubt in my mind that they will be right up there come the end of the season.
“We deserve a bit of credit for how we played with a really positive attitude. We didn’t come just to make up the numbers.
“The result and performance are bound to give us confidence for the task ahead and the quality is there to survive. They have shown they can defend and we have something to build on.”
Wilson said he would not be appealing against Tudgay’s straight red card.
“It looked a bad challenge but it wasn’t malicious,” he said. “He just can’t tackle and it looked worse than it was, but the referee was right on top of the incident and it looked as if Marcus went over the top,” he said.
Leeds manager Brian McDermott felt Tudgay deserved to be sent off.
He said: “It was a red card offence.
“It was not a good tackle. Danny will be disappointed when he sees the tackle again and so will the player who went over the ball.
“If Barnsley play like they did, they have a major chance of staying up, but with so many matches to play and so many twists and turns to come, no-one can make those calls.“
McDermott admitted Leeds had underperformed against their Yorkshire rivals.
He added: “The first half wasn’t good from our point of view. That’s 45 minutes of our lives we’ll never get back.
Matt Smith had a good chance to make it 1-0 but their keeper made a good save. We will take the result and move up one place to fifth.
“It was one of those days. We will all forget the game very quickly and move on to Blackpool on Boxing Day.”