Thursday, August 28, 2014

Bradford 2-1 Leeds: James Hanson scores late winner in West Yorkshire derby to pile pressure on United boss Dave Hockaday

Mail 27/8
Bradford came from behind in the dying minutes to beat Leeds
Matt Smith put Leeds in front eight minutes from time
Billy Knott and James Hanson hit back immediately for Bradford
Luke Murphy was sent off for Leeds in the first half
If Dave Hockaday is to prolong what appears a doomed existence as Leeds manager then a first West Yorkshire derby defeat in 28 years – in which another of his players was sent off and he was mocked by his own fans – will hardly aid his sorry cause.
The 56-year-old cut a shocked and lonely figure amid the cauldron of noise that greeted the climax of a pulsating tie which – for 115 seconds – had even threatened the most unlikely reprieve for the under-fire boss.
That two-minute period was the time between Matt Smith’s 82nd-minute breakthrough for 10-man Leeds and Billy Knott’s stunning leveller. Fast forward another 90 seconds and Bradford, thanks to James Hanson’s header, were in front.
The reward for the League One side – beaten finalists in this competition two years ago – is a trip to MK Dons – conquerors of Manchester United - in four weeks’ time.
Hockaday, though, cannot look beyond Saturday’s visit of Bolton. Indeed, he may not make it that far, for owner Massimo Cellino had exited Valley Parade even before the late drama and chants of 'You're getting sacked in the morning' emanating from the away end.
In the wake of last weekend’s 4-1 defeat at Watford – in which Giuseppe Bellusci and Sam Byram were dismissed – there was talk that Cellino was set to axe the former Forest Green Rovers manager just five games into his surprise tenure.
But Hockaday has hardly been helped by his players’ indiscipline and Luke Murphy was red carded after just 31 minutes. The midfielder had already tried his damnedest to be sent off for a knee-high lunge on Gary Liddle before he collected a second yellow for an equally irresponsible challenge on James Meredith.
And Hockaday said: ‘One player has given us a mountain to climb. But we pretty much climbed that mountain.
‘The rest of the team were magnificent to a man. As the game wore on we got stronger and got our reward with the goal.
‘When we scored I was proud of the boys and then thought “right, how do we kill the game?”.
‘But sometimes you have to say “that’s a great strike”. Then we had to steady it down but a couple of lads slipped in the box and their player got the run on them and he’s scored the winner.'
Is Hockaday confident, then, he will see the weekend?
‘I’ve got a job to do and the players are behind me,’ he answered. ‘They have come to see me and they’re desperate to do well for Leeds.
‘We’ve been written off and we’re making it difficult for ourselves on the pitch with the red cards. But the team spirit is there and we have to take this on the chin.
'It’s a difficult situation and the sooner we win a game the better.
‘But my approach has just been one of determination. I’m a fighter, not a quitter. My concern is the team but I just feel things aren’t going their way.
‘In the dressing-room they are devastated and we do feel we can turn things around. We cannot wait for Saturday and that is where we are now looking.’
Opposite number Phil Parkinson, meanwhile, was thrilled with his side’s comeback, achieved thanks to Knott’s 25-yard fizzer and Hanson’s stooping header.
‘We created chances but we just had to be patient against 10 men. We went behind and it took a bit of inspiration from Billy to get us back in – it was top class,’ he said.
‘To then get the winner was brilliant and I’m proud of my players, it was a crazy end but it was a fantastic night for the club. It’s a big moment for this club because we know what it meant to the people of Bradford.
‘We gave everything to make a bit of history and won at Valley Parade for the first time in over 80 years.’

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Leeds United: Skipper Pearce is not for sale - Hockaday

Yorkshire Evening Post 27/8/14
by Phil Hay
David Hockaday has categorically ruled out the sale of Jason Pearce amid a flurry of interest in the Leeds United captain.
Hockaday said Pearce was “not available” and would remain with Leeds beyond the transfer deadline after Sheffield United confirmed that they were looking to buy the centre-back.
Pearce – a £500,000 signing from Portsmouth – has been with Leeds for the past two years and his contract at Elland Road runs until 2016
The 26-year-old has started all of United’s games this season and he was given the captain’s armband by Hockaday before the campaign started.
United’s head coach said: “I know that one or two clubs have expressed an interest in him but he’s not available.
“He’s my captain, he’s happy and we’re happy to have him here. That goes in the bin straight away.”
The remainder of the transfer window is likely to see departures from Elland Road, however, with Noel Hunt and David Norris among the players who United will allow to leave.

Leeds United: Club and team back me - Hockaday

Yorkshire Evening Post 27/8/14
by Phil Hay
A defiant David Hockaday insisted he had the backing of Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino and the club’s senior players after a bizarre weekend in which he narrowly avoided the sack.
Hockaday claimed he was unaware of any threat to his position, despite Cellino’s publicised plan to dismiss him, and said the subject had not arisen during a two-hour discussion between them on Sunday.
United’s head coach, meanwhile, revealed that four members of the club’s first-team squad had come to him to offer their support in the aftermath Saturday’s defeat to Watford amid clear signs that Hockaday’s job was on the line.
The 56-year-old’s tenure was set to end after only five competitive games in charge on Saturday as a furious Cellino reacted to a 4-1 loss at Vicarage Road by vowing to remove Hockaday from his post. The Italian changed his mind the following day, however, in a remarkable turnaround which saw Cellino publicly blame himself for Leeds’ mediocre start to the season and point the finger at new signing Giuseppe Bellusci for the penalty and red card which condemned United at Watford.
Hockaday will be back on the touchline at Valley Parade tonight for United’s Capital One Cup second-round tie and he refused to discuss his future ahead of the game, saying: “I can’t comment on what people have or haven’t said.
“I had a two-hour conversation – a calm conversation – with the president on Sunday.
“We talked about the game and the defining moment in that game.
“We talked about the players we need, everything. It (his job) wasn’t even addressed.
“The president just told me to keep working hard, that he believes in me and that he needs to get me players.
“That’s brilliant and that’s fair. It’s all I can ask for.
“I’m here, I’m coaching, I love my role and I love my players. I can control the controllable. Anything outside of that is out of my hands and for me to go into conjecture isn’t my thing and isn’t my job. I’m just a hard-working guy who loves his job.
“Four of the senior players have come to see me and said ‘gaffer, we’re 100 per cent behind you, is there anything we can do? “We love what you’re doing, we love the training, it’s as good as we’ve had.’
“They’ve said complimentary things but all we can do is train harder and win games.”
Hockaday – a surprise appointment when Cellino plucked him from obscurity and named him as head coach in June - has been in charge of Leeds for just 68 days and has handled only five competitive games.
Hockaday said United’s performances had been affected by both the loss of players to injury and suspension and the late arrival of several new signings in the transfer window.
“I’m as good as the players I’ve got and I think I’ve got some really good players,” Hockaday said. “But everyone knows we need to strengthen. We need to score more goals.
“Our goal threat isn’t great enough but we’ve got (Aidan) White, (Steve) Morison and (Souleymane) Doukara out. That doesn’t help. There’s going to be a transitional period but saying that, it sounds like an excuse even to me. We’ve got to get on with it.
“I believe we’re turning a massive ship around. It’s been going in a certain course for eight or 10 years and that isn’t going to change overnight. It’s going to take patience and I know there’s no patience in football but that’s how it is here. It’s not happening as quickly as people would like but I am turning it around.
“Against Middlesbrough, it was sweetness and light. Then we lose to Watford and it’s the other way. That’s football but I’m a good coach, I’ve got a calm head and I believe in myself and my players.”
Leeds will be without the suspended Bellusci tonight after his red card at Watford earned him a one-match suspension. Liam Cooper is in line to replace him in the centre of defence.
Sam Byram is also beginning a three-game ban after Leeds were forced to accept his late and contentious dismissal at Vicarage Road due to a lack of video evidence.
Gaetano Berardi is ready to step in at right-back after completing a ban of his own but new signing Casper Sloth is awaiting international clearance and “high unlikely” to be involved, according to Hockaday.
The drama surrounding Hockaday’s job has overshadowed tonight’s tie at Valley Parade - United’s first visit there for almost 14 years.
But Hockaday said: “It’s a big game. I was always told that this is one of the six major (derbies) in the league. It’s a massive game for both sets of fans.”

David Hockaday wants to guide Leeds United back to Champions League

Guardian 26/8/14
David Hockaday was a surprise appointment at Leeds, having only previously managed Forest Green.
David Hockaday has launched a defiant defence of his position as the Leeds head coach and stated his desire to be with the club on a journey to the Champions League.
Fourteen years have passed since Leeds were competing with Europe’s elite and Hockaday is the latest man to have been tasked with setting the club back on the road to former glories.
His time in charge looked to have ended at the weekend, though, when the owner, Massimo Cellino, decided to sack him just five games into his tenure, only to perform a dramatic U-turn and then place the blame for the club’s poor start to the Championship season on himself and the defender Giuseppe Bellusci.
The Italian – who infamously sacked and reinstated Brian McDermott inside a mad 24 hours back in February – decided that Bellusci was at fault for getting sent off in the 4-1 loss at Watford and that he himself had to shoulder responsibility for not giving Hockaday enough players. That earned the former Forest Green manager Hockaday an unexpected reprieve, but he insisted on Tuesday that he had never been aware that he was on the verge of losing his job anyway.
“I can’t even comment on things I have read, what people have said or reportedly said. I had a calm, two-hour conversation with the president on Sunday, we spoke about the game, the defining moment of the game,” he said.
“We talked through players needed and everything and so it wasn’t even addressed. It is what it is, I’m here, coaching, I love my role, my players and I am getting a lot out of them.
“I run my life by controlling the controllables. I will manage the game when it’s being played, coach my players and anything outside of that is out of my hands. I’m just a hard-working guy who loves his job and that’s what I will continue to do.”
With Forest Green the only club on his managerial résumé, Hockaday was a surprise appointment when Cellino unveiled him after being tipped off about the 56-year-old by someone he claims he cannot remember. As such, and with Cellino earning a reputation as the “manager eater” after going through 36 managers in 20 years at Cagliari, few gave Hockaday as much time as he has already had – at present 68 days.
He said, though, that despite the sideshow about his future, he is determined to be a part of what Cellino is trying to build at Elland Road.
“When I have a conversation with the president and we talk about the club and the way forward and getting players in, that makes me happy,” he added. “It shows me there’s a future for everybody. It shows me that the president, however he is portrayed, is unbelievably passionate about this football club. I am not just saying it, I mean it.
“This guy wants Leeds to be in the Champions League, he does. I believe over time that will happen. I think it’s inevitable. The timescale I don’t know, I want to be part of that journey, a big part of that journey. I am going to fight tooth and nail to be here for as long as I can, to be as successful as I can.”

Leeds: Cellino Knows He's F****d Up & Hock's A Dead Man Walking

Sabotage Times 26/8/14
by Paul Sherman
Cellino's made an epic balls up and needs to fix it before it's too late...
The mangiallenatori chewed up and spat out his first manager at Leeds United early doors and is masticating furiously with his second, unbelievable scenes at Elland Road.
McDermott never had a chance having been appointed by the witless, clueless GFH crew and Hock getting the job based on anonymous tip off after a lengthy meeting in a hotel during which you can bet your bottom dollar Massimo did the vast majority of the talking had as much chance of success as a Doncaster virgin remaining intact on a Magaluf weekender.
McDermott was somebody else’s mistake, Hock is 100% self inflicted.
Cellino has done so much right at Leeds, from buying the club out of the evil clutches of the sand jockeys to bringing in a dozen new recruits, a good looking mix of experience and potential to giving our own talented youth a chance.
Appointing Hock and Junior was a brain fart of hurricane proportions, akin to appointing me after a successful spell with my lad’s under 14s 5-a-side.
Come to think it my scintillating blend of defensive solidity, imaginative midfield and predatory strikers playing a high tempo pass and move with explosive finishing would not only be more attractive to watch but also deliver success and results.
The current squad plus boy wonder aka Cellino’s lovechild Adryan & Sloth who despite his name is a promising Danish midfielder and a couple more with an injection of crucial width and pace roared on by the army of fans, even with meddling micro manager Massimo minus the deadwood is a massive opportunity for a proper coach.
After Saturday’s capitulation at Watford, the world held it’s breath as the Sheriff’s finger twitched over the trigger waiting for the bullet to be fired.
There is no doubt Cellino is hurting and the fact that his experimental pluck from obscurity based on no more than a tip off and one meeting allied to a scattergun recruitment policy has delivered a set of unacceptable results. He is absolutely committed to making Leeds United a success and seeing them once again eat at the top table.
The Cellino regime expenditure so far is huge in our recent history, including an inflated purchase price, the full package has since been renegotiated, payment of a lot of existing and historical debt, court cases and an estimated £10 million in new contracts plus transfer and loan fees as well as contract pay offs.
The playing squad turnaround has been massive, 17 out, a dozen in with more to come and an expected splurge of activity including contract terminations before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.
In an epic outpouring of pure, unadulterated, honest emotion featuring the biggest climb down since the latest descent of Everest, Massimo said he had decided to sack Hockaday on Saturday and was ready to do so until he spoke to him on Sunday evening. “If I fire the coach I should fire myself because I haven’t signed enough good players. How can that be his fault.”
Cellino says he’ll wait until the squad is finished before judging Hockaday. “Maybe he’s not a good coach but I can’t say yet.”
The cynics or perhaps realists or maybe just plain speculators all think that the stay of execution for Hock is merely waiting for Cellino’s next choice to become available, the rumoured names are already flying around.
Hock is a dead man walking, the already anti fans have had enough and are in a state of shock that he wasn’t a goner on Saturday, once a coach loses the fans, even the ones who were prepared to give him a chance, he has more chance plaiting fog than winning them round.
Knowing the president and his crazy ways, don’t be surprised if, in a bid to avoid any more controversy, he appoints Malky Mackay with Big Ron Atkinson as director of football.
Cellino is certain to be at the eye of a storm of frantic activity this week in a huge effort to finalise the squad, he hates being embarrassed, his ego will not contemplate failure and he bought Leeds United, a football institution, to succeed.
He has made one balls up of epic proportions, he must sort it out sooner rather than later, finish the squad but most important of all put them under the control of a proper coach and stop feeding a gourmet menu of players to a medieval peasant.

Oscar Garcia puts Fulham and Leeds on alert as he decides to quit Maccabi Tel Aviv

Mail 26/8/14
Oscar Garcia set to leave his role as manager of Maccabi Tel Aviv on Tuesday due to the ongoing conflicts in the area.
The former Brighton manager is back at the Israeli club for the second time, after resigning in 2013 and moving to England.
However, with Israel locked in continuing conflict with Hamas in Gaza, and rockets being fired at Tel Aviv, Garcia has decided to leave the region.
He is under consideration at Leeds and Fulham as they consider their options in the face of recent results.
Garcia had a succesful one-year spell in Tel Aviv two seasons ago, culminating in winning the Israeli Championship in 2013.
But results on his return have been less good, with the club going out of the Champions League qualifiers to Maribor, and needed to overturn a two-goal deficit against Greek side Asteras Tripoli on Thursday to reach the Europa League group stage.

Blades confirm interest in Leeds skipper Pearce

Yorkshire Post 25/8/14
LEEDS UNITED captain Jason Pearce has been linked with a move to Yorkshire rivals Sheffield United – whose manager Nigel Clough has confirmed his interest in the defender.
The Blades are keen to boost their defensive ranks following the departure of Harry Maguire to Hull City, with Pearce figuring high on Clough’s wish-list.
Clough admits that financing any prospective deal for Pearce would represent a considerable outlay for the League One club, but he is not ruling out the prospect of a successful move for the 26-year-old.
That said, it remains to be seen whether Leeds – who yesterday completed the expected signing of Danish international midfielder Casper Sloth for an undisclosed six-figure sum from AGF Aarhus – would entertain the prospect of doing any business regarding the former Portsmouth man, an ever-present this term and one of the club’s more consistent players during the 2013-14 campaign.
Clough, who has also not ruled out trying to persuade Hull to loan back Maguire to Bramall Lane - with any prospective deal likely to hinge on the Tigers’ involvement in Europe – said: “We hve looked at him (Pearce) certainly, yes. But I think he will be a bit beyond us with his contract at Leeds.
“Being a Championship player and what they’d want for him might be a bit beyond us. But yes, we’d like Jason Pearce.
“It is going be difficult to tempt a club to let somebody go who is currently in the first team. But we are trying to do that, if necessary.”
Following the signing of Sloth on a three-year contract, subject to international clearance, United are expected to turn their attentions towards landing 20-year-old Brazilian play-maker Adryan.
Sloth has become the 12th summer signing at Elland Road, with Leeds having agreed terms of a three-year deal with the Aarhus schemer, who has made eight appearances for Denmark, late last week.
United are thought to have paid around £600,000 to land the midfielder.
The 22-year-old played over 130 times for Aarhus, relegated from the Danish top-flight last season and made his debut for the national team in a friendly game in Istanbul against Turkey in November 2012.
The previous month, Sloth was named as the Danish Superliga’s Player of the Month.
The midfielder, capped many times at youth level for the Danes, appeared for Denmark in their friendly clash against England at Wembley in March, when he impressed, despite a 1-0 defeat for Morten Olsen’s side.
United are understood to have beaten off interest from French Ligue 1 side Evian to sign him.
After the capture of Sloth, United president Massimo Cellino and sporting director Nicola Salerno have now set their sights on attempting to persuade Flamengo to cut short Adryan’s loan at Cagliari and send him to England.
Meanwhile, League One outfit Oldham Athletic have been linked with a swoop for former United goalkeeper Paddy Kenny.
The 36-year-old recently left Leeds by mutual consent, with an agreement reached with Kenny, who had a year left on his Elland Road deal.
Talks have reportedly taken place between the Latics and Kenny’s representatives.
Ex-Whites keeper Paul Rachubka is the current number one at Boundary Park.

Leeds United complete Sloth signing

Yorkshire Post 25/8/14
LEEDS UNITED have completed the signing of Danish international midfielder Casper Sloth for an undisclosed fee, believed to be in the region of £600,000.
The 22-year-old has become United’s 12th signing of a busy high-summer of transfer activity at Elland Road, with the schemer having signed a three-year deal.
Sloth has made eight appearances for Denmark with Leeds believed to have beaten off interest from French outfit Evian to sign him from Aarhus.
Sloth has been capped at various youth levels by Denmark and he became a full international in 2012.
He made his debut for Aarhus in Denmark’s Superliga as a 17-year-old and he has appeared over 100 times for the club, who were relegated from the top flight last season.
Sloth will wear the number 33 shirt at Leeds.
United remain in talks aimed at bringing 20-year-old Brazilian play-maker Adryan to the club, with president Massimo Cellino and sporting director Nicola Salerno attempting to persuade Flamengo to cut short his loan at Cagliari and send him to England.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Leeds United: Hockaday to continue as boss

Yorkshire Evening Post 24/8//14
by Phil Hay
Leeds United head coach David Hockaday received a dramatic stay of execution tonight as owner Massimo Cellino abandoned a plan to sack him and said: “I’m to blame.”
In an astonishing turnaround, Cellino confirmed that Hockaday would remain in his job until the the Italian had “a fair chance to judge him” - just 24 hours after a 4-1 defeat at Watford placed Hockaday’s future in serious doubt.
Senior officials around Cellino were told to prepare for Hockaday’s dismissal in the aftermath of a result at Vicarage Road which left Leeds a point above the Championship’s relegation places.
United were expected to announce the 56-year-old’s departure today, just 66 days after naming him as head coach, but Cellino backtracked suddenly after talks with Hockaday around 6pm.
Speaking to the YEP, the Cellino said the defeat at Watford had come down to a “s*** mistake” by new signing Giuseppe Bellusci, a 58th-minute blunder which led to the defender’s dismissal and gifted Watford a penalty with the game level at 1-1.
Cellino also admitted that a summer in which 11 players have arrived at Leeds had been “harder than I thought” and claimed the dismissal of Hockaday would have punished the head coach for United’s failure to complete their squad before the start of the season.
“Yes, at Watford I decided to sack him,” Cellino said. “I said ‘he’s finished.’ I wasn’t happy. I was ashamed of the performance and it (sacking Hockaday) was what I wanted to do.
“But in my life I’ve learned that with your decisions, take 24 hours. Why should I blame the coach? The squad isn’t finished and that is my fault. Signing players has been harder than I thought so if I fire anyone, I should fire myself or else I’m a coward. I have to control my ego.
“This coach, he might not be a good coach, but sacking him now is not fair. I cannot say if he is good or not. When the squad is finished, I’ll see what he does then. But for now you blame me for the results. I blame myself because the fault is mine.”
Hockaday faced chants against him from an away crowd of 2,100 at Vicarage Road and Cellino’s initial plan to sack him after only five competitive games in charge appeared to reflect the mood of a large section of the travelling support.
But Hockaday defended himself and the performance of his team afterwards, saying Bellusci’s red card - shown for a trip on Fernando Forestieri inside United’s box - had dictated the course of an otherwise even match.
Troy Deeney converted the resulting penalty and further goals from Forestieri and Daniel Pudil sealed Watford’s win. Leeds were reduced to nine men in injury-time when Sam Byram was dismissed for an alleged headbutt on Pudil, a decision which United could appeal today.
Bellusci, 24, joined Leeds on loan from Catania a fortnight ago but Leeds paid more than £1.5m to make the move permanent last week, a deal agreed before Bellusci made his first-team debut.
Cellino said: “Bellusci is a good defender and what he did yesterday was a s*** mistake. We lost because of his mistake. I see that now. I didn’t see it yesterday.
“If he didn’t f*** up and we win the game, would I be firing the coach? No. So it’s wrong to blame the coach for the results. We are missing four or five players still. We are not good enough. I am the president so I should only sack myself, not Hockaday.
“I want to do everything too fast - I want 15 new players, I want to be in the Premier League, I don’t want the old coach, I want a new one. I want to build Rome in 12 hours but it doesn’t happen. If another coach comes in and we have the same problems, we are back in the s***. So I’ll wait.”
Leeds are close to their 12th signing of the summer after agreeing the terms of a three-year deal with Aarhus midfielder Casper Sloth on Friday evening.
The Elland Road club will pay around £600,000 to complete the deal.
Flamengo midfielder Adryan - currently on loan at Cagliari - remains a target and discussions aimed at cancelling his deal in Sardinia and bringing him to Elland Road will continue in the days ahead.

Dave Hockaday staying as Leeds manager... after owner Massimo Cellino has bizarre last minute change of heart

Mail 24/8/14
Dave Hockaday will remain as Leeds United manager
Owner Massimo Cellino decided to sack Hockaday before changing his mind
Leeds are close to the Championship relegation zone after losing three of their opening four games
Hockaday only signed a contract two months ago despite no experience in Football League
Dave Hockaday is staying on as Leeds United manager after a bizarre 24 hours at the football club.
Owner Massimo Cellino had made up his mind to sack the boss after a dismal defeat away at Watford on Saturday. But the Italian has now had a dramatic change of heart after a series of discussions at Elland Road on Sunday.
Speaking to a reporter from the Yorkshire Evening Post, Cellino said: 'Yes, I decided to sack him. I said ''he's finished.'' But I learned a long time ago to wait on a decision for 24 hours.
'If Bellusci didn't f*** up and we win the game, would I be firing the coach? No. We lost yesterday because of one s*** mistake from Bellusci. I see that now. I didn't see it that way yesterday.'
Cellino also said he will wait until the squad recruitment complete before judging Hockaday. 'Maybe he's not a good coach but I can't say yet,' he added.
'If I fire the coach I should fire myself because I haven't signed enough good players. How can that be his fault.'
The first team squad squad had been called back from the away coach after the 4-1 drubbing at Vicarage Road by Hockaday as talk intensified over his future.
It has been made clear that Cellino was ready to wield the axe after just four Championship fixtures this season - three of which Leeds have lost - before reflecting on the game.
Hockaday has found himself behind the eight ball from day one after signing a two-year contract in Yorkshire two months ago.
He has no previous managerial experience in the Football League and was sacked by Forest Green last October.
It is understood that Hockaday has been undermined in the transfer market by the owner, who doesn't trust the 56-year-old to build a squad capable of reaching the Premier League.
In an interview with Sportsmail at the beginning of the month Cellino said: 'He has asked me about five or six players,' said the Italian before unintentionally damning his new manager: 'Don't forget where he came from; league five.

Watford 4 Leeds United 1: United’s flaws exposed by Hornets

Yorkshire Evening Post 24/8/14
by Phil Hay
The choice was Massimo Cellino’s in the beginning and he had it to make again on Saturday: to stick with this experiment and the head coach he plucked from nowhere or to back away from a long-odds gamble and take a different view.
The Italian’s next move was all but assured as he drove home livid after Leeds United’s defeat to Watford. It seemed cruel that questions about David Hockaday were rife and legitimate after four league games but this is football and this is Cellino; hard, reactive, unforgiving. Yet the Italian showed a forgiving side and by yesterday evening Hockaday was safe. From the sack to a second chance in 24 hours.
Cellino stuck his neck out when he introduced Leeds to an unknown coach whose last job earned him a wage in the Conference, and it stood to reason that in the midst of scepticism Cellino’s own faith would be tested eventually. A 4-1 loss at Vicarage Road, tainted further by the collateral damage of two red cards, did exactly that. Hockaday survived but only just, and who knows for how much longer.
There are several ways to outline United’s position but one of them is this: lose to Bolton Wanderers this weekend and the club will spend the season’s first international break inside the Championship’s relegation places. These are early days but critical ones, days in which direction is usually set. “I strongly believe that with the players I’ve got I’m doing a good job,” Hockaday said as he broached the subject of his future on Saturday. “I see lots of green shoots.”
He might have thought so but opinion around him differs. Sources close to Cellino say he “went crazy” at the end of Watford’s win, despite the result owing much to a red card in the second half, and promised that Hockaday was finished. More criticism poured from the away end, during and after the match. Hockaday claimed to have heard none of it, saying: “This isn’t me being deaf or dumb but as a coach I totally focus in on the game. I genuinely don’t hear anything. You can tell me what was said and that’s fine. People are welcome to their views. All I know is that the fans were excellent in general.”
Impatience and ire on social media is one thing but dissent from those paying to be present is a bigger, more unavoidable worry – something Cellino cannot kill. United’s away support were the last to abandon Brian McDermott, long after Twitter sided against him, but Hockaday is alone after five competitive games. He can call for restraint and ask for time but thousands of minds are already made up. Thousands made up their minds when Cellino appointed him in June. His only means of ingratiating himself was through results of a standard above what even Cellino demanded this season. They have not materialised and after four Championship fixtures, Leeds lie 21st with three points – above three beleaguered clubs in Fulham, Blackpool and Bolton. Cellino conceded last week that Hockaday was working without a complete squad but his head coach is struggling to make the best of it.
Watford have problems of their own, or so it is said, but Leeds are a club who provide respite for the Championship’s divided and unhappy lot. Vicarage Road is awash with talk of infighting and arguments between their coach, Beppe Sannino, and certain players in his squad, and they played with reticence until the dismissal of Giuseppe Bellusci invited them to massacre Leeds. But the massacre came all the same. Bellusci was 58 minutes into an orderly debut and the game level at 1-1 when he attempted to float the ball out of defence and paid for a flashy pass by slicing it horribly into the path of Fernando Forestieri. Bellusci chased the striker and clipped his heels 12 yards from goal, incurring a red card and conceding a penalty. Troy Deeney took it and dispatched a shot low to the right of goalkeeper Marco Silvestri.
“It went wrong for us in whatever minute the penalty was awarded,” Hockaday said. “The momentum swings. You’re a goal down and a man down. I’ve spoken (to Bellusci) about it in no uncertain terms and he’s apologised to the team, for what it’s worth. It’s something I can’t legislate for. We’re trying to turn a big ship round here and moments like that don’t help.
“Up until then I thought we looked very comfortable. We were passing the ball well. Watford were getting animated and agitated on their bench and I thought we’d come here and done a very good job.”
His assessment was not unreasonable. Watford scored in the 20th minute when Deeney and Gianni Munari worked a corner to Forestieri who drove a shot against Silvestri’s arms and then nodded the rebound into the net but Leeds equalised 12 minutes later. Mirco Antenucci, their new signing from Ternana, played Billy Sharp into space on the right wing and Sharp’s fierce cross caught the leg of Gabriel Tamas before flying past Heurelho Gomes. Leeds’ midfield – the same diamond midfield tormented by Brighton last Tuesday – found encouragement in that and began to flood Watford’s. Sannino’s team became static and passive, detached from Deeney and Forestieri up front. United’s ability to disrupt is their best weapon under Hockaday, as it was against Middlesbrough, but their creativity was nil and their chances few; four efforts in all over 90 minutes. When Bellusci went, the heads did too. Deeney put away his penalty and Hockaday moved to replace Sharp with centre-back Liam Cooper. The withdrawal of a likely goalscorer prompted audible cries of “you don’t know what you’re doing.” Forestieri made the change irrelevant on 67 minutes when he danced through several half-hearted tackles and screwed the ball past Silvestri off the inside of a post. The away end responded by telling Hockaday he’d be sacked in the morning.
“Bringing Billy Sharp off was tactical,” Hockaday said. “He’s put in a few shifts and Antenucci had fresher legs. We tried to contain it but at 3-1, the game’s gone.”
Sadly for Hockaday, it wasn’t over. In injury-time Daniel Pudil beat Silvestri with a free-kick from 30 yards. Pudil milked the crowd as a snooker trick-shot specialist might. As the seconds ticked down, he and Sam Byram squared up off the ball and referee James Linington sent Byram off. A headbutt was blamed but even the officials seemed a little unsure. “The linesman said he saw something,” Hockaday said. “I’d like something a bit more specific than that.”
A three-match suspension will be Byram’s punishment unless Leeds choose to back up his angry protests with an appeal to the FA. None of that was likely to be Hockaday’s concern until Cellino drew breath and resolved to spare his coach the bullet. “It’s out of my hands,” Hockaday replied, when asked how much time he thought he had left. Of that there is no doubt.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Leeds United owner Massimo Cellini poised to sack Dave Hockaday after defeat at Watford

Telegraph 23/8/14
Manager's short time in charge at Elland Road set to come to an end as Italian owner prepares to wield the axe
Dave Hockaday’s brief spell in charge of Leeds United appeared to be close to an end on Saturday night after they lost 4-1 at Watford.
The defeat left Leeds one place outside of the relegation places having lost three of their first four games and owner Massimo Cellino is now poised to act.
The two sides went into the break level after a Gabriel Tamas own goal cancelled out Fernando Forestieri’s opener.
But Watford pulled clear after the break when Troy Deeney scored a penalty after Forestieri had been fouled by Giuseppe Bellusci.
The defender was sent off and Forestieri and Daniel Tozser added the third and fourth goals. Leeds’ misery was compounded when Sam Byram was sent off after clashing with Daniel Pudil in stoppage time.
Hockaday had no doubt the game swung on Bellusci’s foul on Forestieri and the subsequent penalty.
Asked if Bellusci had to carry the can for the defeat, Hockaday replied: “Yes, he knows that.
“I’ve told him in no uncertain terms, he’s apologised to the team for what it’s worth but it’s something I can’t legislate for with regards to the coaching. The players are taking on board the way we want to play, I think everyone can see that. We’re trying to turn this big ship around which is going to take time but moments like that don’t help.”

Watford 4-1 Leeds United - Hockaday in trouble

Yorkshire Post 23/8/14
Dave Hockaday is reported to be on the verge of losing his job after Leeds United were thrashed 4-1 by Watford.
Leeds are fourth bottom after four games with head coach Hockaday already under pressure.
Owner Massimo Cellino has a reputation of not sticking by managers for long, and asked whether he thought he would be given time, Hockaday said: “That’s not my decision.
“I’m comfortable I’m getting more out of these players than anyone else could.
“The boys are giving me everything but we need up to four players with Championship experience.”
Watford kept their place among the Championship’s early-season pace-setters with a 4-1 win.
The sides were level at the interval after Fernando Forestieri’s opener had been cancelled out by a Gabriel Tamas own goal, but the game swung in the hosts’ favour after the interval when Giuseppe Bellusci was sent off after bringing down Forestieri in the penalty area.
Troy Deeney dispatched the spot-kick and Forestieri applied the gloss soon after with a fine third.
That looked like it would be the end of the scoring until added-time when Daniel Tozser added the Hornets’ fourth from a long-range free-kick before Sam Byram became the second Leeds player to be sent off for an apparent elbow on Daniel Pudil.
Watford started the brighter of the two sides with Forestieri and Deeney having early efforts and their attacking endeavours were rewarded with the opening goal in the 20th minute.
The move was started and finished by Forestieri, who initially did well to bring under a control an over-hit Tozser corner before stepping inside a challenge and laying a pass off to Deeney. The striker back-heeled the ball into the penalty area, Gianni Munari helped it on and, after seeing his first shot saved by Marco Silvestri, Forestieri kept his eye on the ball to head the rebound past the Leeds goalkeeper.
The Hornets continued to look comfortable but a slice of good fortune got Leeds back on terms in the 32nd minute when Billy Sharp’s low cross from the right was turned into his own net by the outstretched leg of Tamas, with goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes powerless to do anything about the equaliser.
Having been pegged back, the home side spurned a great chance to retake the lead four minutes later when Almen Abdi’s right-sided corner picked out the unmarked Tommie Hoban but he headed over from no more than five yards out.
Both sides had opportunities to take the lead within the first two minutes of the second half; Forestieri curling a shot from the edge of the penalty area just wide before Jason Pearce headed a free-kick narrowly over the top.
But the complexion of the game changed in the 57th minute when a mix-up in the Leeds defence gave Forestieri the opportunity to break on goal, only for him to be fouled from behind by Giuseppe Bellusci.
Referee James Linington had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty-spot before brandishing a red card in the direction of the Italian debutant for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity and Deeney comfortably dispatched the spot-kick.
The excellent Forestieri then made it 3-1 in the 67th minute, latching on to a Munari pass on the left side of the penalty area and evading challenge after challenge as he jinked his way across the 18-yard box before finding the bottom corner via Silvestri’s right-hand upright.
Watford added a fourth in injury time when Tozser fired home a superb 30-yard free-kick, before Leeds were reduced to nine men when Byram was shown a straight red card for elbowing Pudil.

Watford 4-1 Leeds: Fernando Forestieri steals the show at Vicarage Road as Leeds end the match with nine men

Mail 23/8/14
After a testing week in which his managerial methods were scrutinised and his Watford ‘family’ looked close to a break-up, this was a satisfying afternoon for Beppe Sannino.
Finding himself on the receiving end of a volley of abuse when Lloyd Dyer scored at Rotherham in midweek, the Italian was forced to admit that as ‘father’ to a squad of ’24 brothers’, he couldn’t possibly keep everyone happy with enough game time.
It led to rumours of a widening rift within the squad but, with Dyer dropped and unity restored on the pitch at least, it was very much a happy home at Vicarage Road on Saturday as woeful Leeds United were comfortably beaten.
Two wonderful goals from Fernando Forestieri, a free-kick from Daniel Tozser and a Troy Deeney penalty after debutant Giuseppe Bellusci had been dismissed brought back the Hornets’ harmony and, as Leeds hover above the Championship relegation places, turned up the pressure on Dave Hockaday.
Watford’s opener was a thing of beauty. From Tozser’s inswinging corner, Deeney and Gianni Munari whisked the ball between statuesque Leeds defenders to free Forestieri.
He saw his initial low shot blocked by Marco Silvestri but the ball popped up obligingly for Italian-Argentine to head home.
But after such a moment of such quick minds and swift feet came a lapse in concentration and a clumsy boot that gifted Leeds an equaliser.
Billy Sharp found space to cross low from the right and, though the ball was heading for nobody in particular, it was diverted beyond Heurelho Gomes by Tamas’s outstretched leg.
It was pretty much all Leeds created. Sharp was lively, as was Michael Tonge, but debutant striker Mirco Antenucci, signed from Serie B outfit Ternana in the week, struggled to keep pace.
The other new boy Bellusci, the centre-back known as ‘The Warrior’ by fans at his previous club Catania, wasn’t exactly heroic when he allowed Tommie Hoban a free header from Almen Abdi’s corner. Luckily for Leeds, he put it over the bar.
But that was just the beginning of Bellusci’s problems. Shortly before the hour, Forestieri burst into the Leeds box and the Italian hacked him down. Referee James Linington had little choice but to show a red card.
Deeney had impressed most for Watford. His vivid orange boots acted as a beacon for pretty much every attack. Always willing, always running, he was adept at holding the ball up and sparking his team into life.
He proved reliable at penalty taking too, sending the ball straight down the middle to restore Watford’s lead.
From then on, it was one-way traffic and the livewire Forestieri, collecting the ball on the left-hand side of the box, skipped past challenge after challenge before seeing his shot trickle in off the inside of the post for his third of the season.
Surely it couldn't get any worse for Leeds? It certainly did. Tozser fired home a lovely free-kick in injury time, before Sam Byram saw red for a senseless head-butt on Daniel Pudil.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Watford v Leeds United: Leeds need more quality, admits Hockaday

Yorkshire Post 23/8/14
RAIL closures in the south of England are likely to make travel to Watford a little tricky today for Leeds United supporters; many, meanwhile, will make the trip hoping their side is not about to come off the rails.
Tuesday’s 2-0 defeat at home to Brighton and Hove Albion was a demoralising affair with even a second-half rally unable to lift spirits at Elland Road.
Coming just three days after a morale-boosting win at home to Middlesbrough, the below-par display continued the early roller-coaster feel to United’s season and supporters will be hoping that their side can bounce back this afternoon at Vicarage Road.
Dave Hockaday, who revealed in the wake of the Brighton loss that his squad had been suffering from a virus, will be on familiar ground today after spending seven years on the Hornets’ coaching staff.
“We have been keeping the ball very well other than the first half against Brighton,” said the Leeds head coach. “I have watched the game back a few times and, again, our defensive shape was good. They played very well and had a lot of the ball in the first half but they had only one shot on target.
“We didn’t work hard enough to keep the ball but, in the second half, we dominated and camped in their half pretty much.
“I feel we’ve got some very good players in there but maybe we could add one or two more.
“We have got lots of numbers if you involve the kids. But when you look at actual strength and depth in terms of the Championship, I would say we need more quality.
“All the players have been given an opportunity but if you look at the bench of the teams we’ve played and the seasoned Championship players they have then I still feel we’re lacking.”
Striker Mirco Antennuci could be handed his debut after the 30-year-old joined from Italian club Ternana in midweek.
United were on the verge of signing Casper Sloth last night after agreeing the terms of a three-year contract with the Danish midfielder. Sloth is poised to complete a move from Aarhus for a fee of around £600,000.

Phil Hay: Hockaday needs to establish some roots at Leeds United

Yorkshire Evening Post 23/8/14
by Phil Hay
The end of the press conference after Leeds United’s defeat to Brighton on Tuesday was more revealing than the press conference itself. “We’re still alive,” David Hockaday said as he left his seat and prepared to leave the room.
Managers and coaches are prone to speaking like that but usually in March when death is creeping or the play-offs lie at arm’s length. Still alive after three games. It’s almost a contradiction in terms.
On Tuesday the comment was quite appropriate. Hockaday let his guard down. It isn’t customary for a coach as new to the job as him to be talking so defensively, and Sami Hyypia did nothing to betray Brighton’s laboured start to the season, but Hockaday felt the need to shield himself. And so did many of us.
For all the holes in his credibility, he’s not a naive man. He knows what’s going on around him and can sense that the balance of support is weighted against him. His throwaway comment on Tuesday was an unwitting appeal for all and sundry – supporters, the press, perhaps the club – to stay with him, and it left you thinking about the unfairness of it all: a coach steadfastly backing himself while the majority around him wait for him to fail.
Leeds as a club are prone to mood swings, something Hockaday says is accentuated by the sheer number of supporters they have. That might be true but only in context. United have a bigger following than many English clubs but size isn’t the issue. The issue is the extent to which that following has been abused, misled and taught to distrust. The consequence is that a coach who feels a softening of attitudes towards him on Saturday can expect to be back in the dog-house and listening to cat-calls by the middle of next week.
It would have helped on Tuesday had Leeds or Hockaday done anything to extend the truce established by their win over Middlesbrough. There might be a day when Elland Road accepts a 70-30 per cent split of possession in favour of the opposition but none of us will be alive to see it. When Hockaday speaks about the “new philosophy” he is implementing, he makes it sound like the innovative, forward-thinking approach that Leeds have been missing for years. But on Tuesday, Hyypia’s tactics looked like football from 2014. United were lost somewhere else and eventually reliant on the intense, overbearing effort that never quite worked for Brian McDermott or Neil Warnock.
Hyypia managed Bayer Leverkusen before he wound up at Brighton so it stands to reason that the German model has influenced him – back-to-front interplay with goalkeeper David Stockdale as a poor man’s Manuel Neuer. Swansea City were the pioneers of this ideal in the Championship a few years ago; rigid in their style but good enough to pull it off. Brendan Rodgers reinvented Dorus De Vries – a keeper without the ball, the equivalent of an outfield player with it – but took care not to neglect his defence. They went up in 2011, as ready for the Premier League as any club promoted since.
Rodgers achieved that in the space of a season so the benefit of time was not really his. What is pertinent, aside from Rodgers’ undisputed talent, is the steady and organised club he inherited at Swansea. Hyypia has his goals at Brighton but Albion have spent the summer flogging their most expensive players and his team is no more finished that Hockaday’s. Every club in the division is “work in progress” but some are starting, others are continuing and a few are finishing off. Where Leeds are concerned they suffered last season from an inferior midfield. The transfer window shuts a week on Monday and at this point the additions to that are of their squad stop at an 18-year-old from AC Milan who apparently isn’t match fit.
Massimo Cellino’s view of the situation at Elland Road is that United’s team isn’t complete. He is more inclined to talk about the players than Hockaday. There is no sense of him pointing the finger at his coach and he argues still that Hockaday will do what he needs him to do, provided he has the resources. It is, on reflection, what an owner should be saying two months after making his choice of head coach.
But the niggle with Cellino is his track record. If anyone in the Championship is going to think again quickly, it’s probably him. And so you have a uneasy combination – an owner who reacts impulsively and a coach who needs strong, unequivocal support from the top. Cellino may have more conviction about Hockaday’s ability than he is given credit for but on the outside, nobody feels it. Hockaday is experiencing what Diego Lopez had at Cagliari last season – a situation where each and every defeat brought questions about how long he had left. Lopez was never able to establish any roots.
To wish the same fate on Hockaday would be nonsensical and counter-intuitive; as the man in the seat, it is in the club’s interest for his appointment to work. But on Tuesday is was apparent that this season won’t settle down until the head coach does too. Hockaday calls football a results business. Isn’t it just.
SACKED from his position as honorary Leeds United president 13 months ago, Ken Bates is due to have his day in court in October.
The case, if it goes that far, stands to cost someone a small fortune.
Leeds took action against Bates over a range of disputed costs, the largest a private jet contract negotiated by the 82-year-old to fly him to games from Monaco.
Bates was dismissed for gross misconduct but denied any wrongdoing and filed a counter-claim for wrongful dismissal. His position carried an annual salary of £250,000 – money Bates agreed to waive provided his three-year tenure as president did not end “other than for a permitted reason.”
The dispute was between Bates and Gulf Finance House, United’s former owner and the Bahraini bank who bought Leeds from him in 2012. Like most of GFH’s legacies, the court case fell into the lap of Massimo Cellino, when he replaced the bank as majority shareholder in April of this year.
A feature of Bates’ time as Leeds chairman was a heavy outlay on court cases. Shaun Harvey, the club’s chief executive for as long as Bates ran United, once said they were costing “a fortune”. But there is expectation that Cellino and Bates will settle amicably and out of court after three meetings between the pair this week. Harvey – now CEO of Football League, the governing body which tried to block Cellino’s takeover – attended at least one of them, for reasons unknown.
In an interview with his new radio venture, Radio Yorkshire, Bates said that in “the dispute between myself and Leeds United, we’re having very constructive discussions and I believe they’ll be resolved sooner rather than later.”
The interesting aspect of an agreement will be the part that the rights for live radio commentary of United’s games plays in it, if any. BBC Radio Leeds is in the second year of the three-year deal it negotiated with GFH in 2013 but the corporation does not bid for exclusive rights. As a public broadcaster, it leaves the door open to other stations to commentate in tandem.
Yorkshire Radio, the now defunct station which Bates established in 2006, commentated exclusively on Leeds’ fixtures for five years from the start of the 2008-09 season. The station folded in the summer of 2013 but Bates launched Radio Yorkshire this year, basing the station directly opposite Elland Road. Several sources claim that if Bates and Cellino shake hands, commentary rights will pass between them. Watch this space.

Leeds United: Whites on the verge of signing Sloth

Yorkshire Evening Post 23/8/14
by Phil Hay
Leeds United were on the verge of signing Casper Sloth last night after agreeing the terms of a three-year contract with the Danish midfielder.
Sloth is poised to complete a move from Aarhus for a fee of around £600,000.
The 22-year-old and his agent travelled to Leeds for talks yesterday and United are preparing to make him their 12th signing of a busy summer.
Sloth, a Denmark international, is in the last year of his deal at Aarhus and has been linked with a move away from his homeland throughout the summer.
French club Evian hold a long-standing interest in Sloth, but Leeds agreed a fee with Aarhus earlier this week and finalised personal terms with the youngster last night.
Sloth has more than 100 appearances for Aarhus and made his debut for them in Denmark’s Superliga as a 17-year-old.
The club were relegated last season, however, and Aarhus are ready to sell him with Sloth less than 12 months away from the end of his contract.
Sloth is one of two midfielders who Leeds are known to have been pursuing.
Separate talks aimed at bringing 20-year-old Brazilian Adryan to Elland Road will continue next week, with United attempting to persuade Flamengo to cut short his loan at Cagliari and send him to England.
A series of tweets from Adryan yesterday appeared to stress his commitment to Cagliari, but he is not involved with their first team at present and could depart Sardinia next week.
United, meanwhile, look likely to avoid a late bid from Sunderland for talented right-back Sam Byram after Sunderland manager Gus Poyet hinted that Leeds’ asking price had ended his interest.
Southampton failed recently with an offer over £4million for Byram and quickly moved onto other targets, and Poyet – the former Leeds assistant – said: “He’s a player we like and I’ve known him for a long time. Like young English players, sometimes they are a little bit too expensive.”

Leeds United Fail With Late Bid For Leonardo Pavoletti As Nicola Salerno Charm Offensive Falls On Deaf Ears

Inside Futbol 22/8/14
Leeds United have failed with a late, late bid to win the race for Sassuolo striker Leonardo Pavoletti, with not even a personal visit from the English club's director of football able to turn the tide in their favour.
Pavoletti is heading to Serie A side Genoa on a three-year deal, with the Rossoblu then having agreed to send him instantly on a season-long loan to Cesena.
However, the man who was prolific in Serie B for Varese last term, hitting the back of the net 20 times in 36 games, was the subject of a late approach from Leeds.
According to Italian broadcaster Sportitalia, Leeds director of football Nicola Salerno appeared in Italy to submit a lucrative offer to Pavoletti.
Salerno was hoping to beat Genoa to the 25-year-old's signature, but saw the striker reject Leeds' proposal, having already agreed to move to the Rossoblu.
Leeds have shopped extensively in the Italian market this summer, making good use of Salerno's contacts, as well as those of club owner and former Cagliari supremo Massimo Cellino. However, they have come off second best in the race to sign Pavoletti, who will play his football in Italy's top flight in 2014/15.

Leeds United: Illness in Elland Road camp adds to the pressure on team

Yorkshire Evening Post 22/8/14
by Phil Hay
Leeds United’s squad were troubled by a virus during Tuesday night’s sorry defeat to Brighton, according to head coach David Hockaday.
Hockaday said “at least half a dozen” players felt the effects of a bug as a one-sided first-half set Brighton up for a 2-0 win at Elland Road.
The illness is United’s only major concern ahead of tomorrow’s visit to Watford, though Hockaday admitted that Leeds were carrying “knocks and niggles” after four games in the first 11 days of the season.
“I don’t like saying it but we’ve had a viral bug going around,” Hockaday said.
“To be fair to the players on Tuesday, at least half a dozen of them were struggling with it. It was a messy place in the dressing room afterwards. It wasn’t very nice.
“We’ll see how everyone is for tomorrow but there are going to be knocks and niggles because we’ve had four games in two weeks. We need to be careful.
“There are lots of players in our squad but with all due respect, we don’t have a lot of experience on the bench. We need to juggle our squad.”
Souleymane Doukara, Aidan White and Lewis Walters will all be absent at Watford through injury.

This Is How Leeds United Identify And Sign Players – David Hockaday On Recruitment Process

Inside Futbol 21/8/14
Leeds United manager David Hockaday has explained how transfer targets at the club are identified and his role in the recruitment process.
Hockaday's remit is to manage and coach the team, then selecting the side for matchdays, while the player recruitment side of the Yorkshire giants is handled by director of football Nicola Salerno and president Massimo Cellino, in a decidedly continental style.
With the vast majority of Leeds' signings this summer having been players from Italy, questions have been raised as to how much input Hockaday has into new arrivals.
And the former Forest Green Rovers boss has outlined the process for selecting and then moving for transfer targets.
"We get in a room and names are put in a hat, and we all do our homework on them. And this one [latest signing Mirco Antenucci, ed.] got all the green lights. Then it's a case of the powers that be go and do their job", he told a press conference.
"It's a really interesting way of doing it, because I'm involved. And then we all go away and do our homework and talk to people, and yes, there's lots of green lights, there's lots of good players out there.
"Then you've got to go and get them for the right price and that's been the stumbling block, because it's been very, very difficult for the president and the director of football to get a lot of players over the line because of the finances. They're not going to do bad business."
Hockaday's men went down to a 2-0 defeat at Elland Road on Tuesday night to Brighton and will bid to bounce back when they lock horns with Watford this coming weekend.

Leeds United: Whites target Denmark midfielder Casper Sloth

Yorkshire Evening Post 21/8/14
by Phil Hay
Leeds United are tracking Denmark international Casper Sloth amid a late push to bring new midfielders to Elland Road.
The YEP understands that the Aarhus youngster is one of a number of targets on United’s radar ahead of the closure of the transfer window a week on Monday.
Sloth, 22, is a central midfielder and an established member of the first team at Aarhus, a club he made his debut for at the age of 17. His contract has entered its final year and expires next summer.
He was capped repeatedly at various youth levels by Denmark and made his first senior international appearance at the end of 2012 amid much expectation about his potential.
Leeds are looking to strike a deal to bring him to Elland Road before the end of the month, strengthening an area of their team which was badly exposed in the first half of Tuesday’s 2-0 defeat to Brighton.
United have already made 11 signings this summer but are still to make serious alterations to their midfield, and the club’s interest in Sloth comes as talks about another potential recruit – 20-year-old Brazilian Adryan – continue in the background.
Leeds owner Massimo Cellino is attempting to sign Adryan for the second time having taken him on loan from Flamengo while he was in charge of Italian side Cagliari last season.
Adryan’s loan at Cagliari is due to run for 18 months but United have been exploring the possibility of an agreement which sees Flamengo recall him early and then send him onto Elland Road.
Discussions have been active for more than a week but they look likely to run beyond Saturday’s clash at Watford and into the final days of the FIFA transfer window.
Head coach David Hockaday is anticipating further arrivals, saying: “We’ve got numbers here but when you look at actual strength and depth in terms of the Championship, we need more quality. If you look at the bench of the teams we’ve played and the seasoned Championship players they’ve got, I still feel we’re lacking.
“Ideally you’re looking for a squad of 20 to 22 senior players – combative, competitive players. I don’t think we’ve got that yet, and I know we haven’t got that yet. Not the ones we want.”
Striker Mirco Antenucci became Leeds’ latest new signing last night, joining from Ternana for an undisclosed fee.
The 30-year-old has accepted a two-year deal and is waiting for international clearance to give him the chance of a debut at Vicarage Road on Saturday.
Antenucci captained Ternana last season and scored 19 times, keeping the club clear of relegation, and his move came a day after Leeds confirmed that Souleymane Doukara would be absent for a month with ruptured ankle ligaments.
“He’s a very good goalscorer, very powerful and explosive with good link-up play,” Hockaday said.
“He had a great goalscoring record last season and he’s somebody we’ve been trying to get to the club for a long time. It’s great news.
“It’s most opportune that he’s come at this time because obviously Souley is going to be missing for four weeks. The timing couldn’t be better.
Giuseppe Bellusci, the Italian centre-back who joined Leeds from Catania last week, is still waiting for his first appearance after an unexpected delay in securing international clearance from Italy.
The necessary paperwork took seven days to arrive – a wait blamed on an Italian bank holiday last Friday – but Leeds are confident that Antenucci will be involved at Watford.
“I’m hoping that he’ll be registered and he’ll be in the frame to play,” Hockaday said.

Leeds United: Bellusci loan deal made permanent

Yorkshire Evening Post 21/8/14
by Phil Hay
Leeds United have made Giuseppe Bellusci’s transfer to Elland Road permanent, a week after signing the defender on a season-long loan from Catania.
In an unexpected development, Bellusci signed a four-year contract today, committing himself to Leeds until the summer of 2018.
United negotiated an option to take Bellusci on a full-time basis next summer but have now paid an undisclosed fee to activate that redemption clause without the centre-back making a single appearance.
The decision frees up space for another loanee in Leeds’ squad, with the club still looking to make further signings before the end of the transfer window.
Bellusci was one of three loan signings at Elland Road, alongside Catania forward Souleymane Doukara and AC Milan’s Zan Benedicic.
Among the players being targeted by United is Brazilian midfielder Adryan - currently on loan at Cagliari from Flamengo.
Football League rules limit clubs to a maximum of five loanees in their 18-man matchday squads.

We Need To Dump Hock But Who'd Take His Place?

Sabotage Times 21/8/14
by Paul Sherman
Trouble is: who'd want to work for such a mercurial boss?
In a private box high in the East Stand at Elland Road after the match/debacle last night, Massimo Cellino and his inner sanctum very likely had a discussion, actually it was probably more of a presidential diatribe.
Cellino bought Leeds United to succeed, to take the club back to the promised land of the Premiership where it belongs, he will not abide failure and craves success like an alchy does booze.
Massimo has a huge desire, passion and ego, he asked Sky not to show the Boro game because his creation wan’t ready, he wants to show the world his creation, in all it’s glory, shiny and new and attractive.
If he reacts again in a similar way to post Millwall, expect the squad to grow fast with urgent need for trimming than the end of Movember.
He said at the beginning of the season that he would have a good idea of what’s what after three games, well here we are and we’ve seen crap, lucky and crap and in the first and third games the lack of fight was frightening.
What is the point of buying all these new, shiny, potentially exciting, technically adept players then sending out a team containing too many of the failed journeymen bought by those football dinosaurs Warnock and McDermott?
More crucially why feed caviar to a pig by giving Hock and Junior access to this feast of talent? Our leader made a mistake, he has to admit it now, get rid and move on.
I wavered a little, even considered that Hock might be a masterstroke appointment, I admit the lads are fitter than in previous seasons but right now realise that I was right first time and for all Hock’s hackneyed bulls*** about “putting a shift in”, teams will not get an easy ride against us, we will work harder than anyone else.
Hock and Junior are out of their depth, they must go now – it’s time to crack on.
It’s simply not true, we rolled over far too easy against both Millwall and Brighton and beat Boro with a mixture of luck and sheer passion, driven by the crowd, sentiment and the bare chested Billy Sharp.
The big question is: which coach in his right mind will come to Leeds and work for our mercurial master? We fans demand a credible manager to get out of this division, we demand good football but most of all we demand that the lads who pull on the shirt play with pride in it.
The attempted midfield diamond last night had one major flaw, it left a gaping hole the likes of which hadn’t been seen since Jordan last gave birth, right down the middle of the pitch.
The turgid threesome of Austin, who can’t pass, Tonge, who can but has the engine of a 1963 Morris Minor and the legs of a 63 year old Tiller girl and Murphy who is the biggest waste of £1M since that chav lottery winner went on a spending spree, do not have the mobility, nous or apparent interest in playing what is now known as a false diamond, it certainly should not be for ever!
Paddy Kenny left this week by mutual consent, in other words, Massimo made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. Mr. President needs to do the same with the rest of the contracted carthorses, Hunt, Morison, Norris, Warnock [I know, he was man of the match on Saturday, but back to disinterested dogs hit last night], Wootton and White [as soon as he is fit].
Assuming the Antonucci abd Adryan deals are consummated successfully, the squad looks the strongest for years with the ability to play different formations, I quite fancy a new variation which would get our three best defenders on the pitch at the same time and hopefully stop the easy concessions.
Defensive solidity, width & pace offered by wing backs. Press hard, pass & move, it can’t be that difficult for a squad brimming with talent.
Just get a proper coach in Massimo, please, now, for us but most importantly for you.

Leeds United: Benedicic battling towards full fitness

Yorkshire Evening Post 21/8/14
by Phil Hay
David Hockaday says a lack of match fitness is behind Zan Benedicic’s absence from Leeds United’s league games.
Hockaday revealed that Benedicic was still to put himself in serious contention for a starting place after leaving the Slovenia international out of Tuesday’s defeat to Brighton.
Benedicic was missing from United’s 18-man squad for the second time in four days having failed to merit inclusion in their 1-0 win over Middlesbrough on Saturday.
The 18-year-old – signed on a season-long loan from AC Milan at the start of this month – was an unnamed substitute at Millwall on the first day of the season and came off the bench for his debut in Leeds’ League Cup win over Accrington Stanley last week.
But asked about Benedicic’s lack of regular involvement, Hockaday said: “It’s about him getting match sharp.
“He’d been with Milan in America (for the club’s pre-season tour) but he hadn’t played any games. He came to us, he trained with us and then we played him against Accrington Stanley but it was very obvious in that game that he lacked match fitness.”
Leeds fielded Benedicic in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Rotherham United yesterday, giving the youngster a chance to hone his fitness ahead of this weekend’s trip to Watford.
Hockaday’s midfield came in for criticism after Brighton overran Leeds at Elland Road and Benedicic – an attacking midfielder who has been with AC Milan since 2011 but never played for their first team – is an option available to United’s head coach in the aftermath of a poor loss.
“We’ll see where he is,” Hockaday said. “There are one or two other players who need match practice too.”
United suffered from a chronic lack of possession in the first half of Tuesday’s defeat and fell behind to a fifth-minute goal from Joao Teixeira, a young Spaniard on loan at Brighton from Liverpool.
Kazenga LuaLua’s 84th-minute free-kick confirmed Leeds’ second loss of the Championship season. Hockaday bemoaned United’s performance before half-time but denied that his midfield was suffering from fundamental weaknesses, saying: “In most of our games I’d say that’s not the case.
“In the first half on Tuesday I’d say yes (there was a problem) but in the second half we moved the ball around very well.
“We were at sixes and sevens but we got the players focused at half-time and got the game-plan sorted out. We had one great move and one great chance, and we had to put that away. If that goes in – a chance in the six-yard box – then we’re dominant because they couldn’t get out of their half.”
Hockaday conceded that his team were being hampered by a lack of pace and width but played down the idea of targeting out-and-out wingers in the remaining days of the transfer window.
“Brighton didn’t have any wingers but they had lots of width,” Hockaday said. “It isn’t about that. People go on about this winger thing but in football you need people with pace.
“I honestly think that the days of the winger who just stands out on the touchline, gets the ball and dribbles have gone. You can’t do that now. Everybody has to be involved. The game’s more tactical.
“But I take the point that we need more pace and quality and we’ve been saying that since day one. After the Middlesbrough game, I didn’t change my tune – it was still a work in progress and we know where we are.
“We’ll look at the Brighton performance again but this league is relentless. We’ve got a game on Saturday, then Wednesday and Saturday again. We’ve got to pick ourselves up because no-one’s going to feel sorry for us.”

Mirco Antenucci joins Leeds on two-year deal as Italian striker completes £1m move

Mail 21/8/14
Italian striker Mirco Antenucci has joined Leeds for £1million from Ternana
The 29-year-old had been at Elland Road for talks on Wednesday
Leeds confirmed two-year deal subject to international clearance
Italian striker Mirco Antenucci has joined Leeds for £1million from Ternana.
The 29-year-old had been at Elland Road for talks on Wednesday and tweeted a photograph of himself in front of the pitch as well as one of him signing his papers with the club's football consultant, Graham Bean.
'Proud to be a part of this club,' he wrote. 'I hope to give you a lot of satisfaction.'
Leeds then confirmed he had signed a two-year deal subject to international clearance.
Antenucci has done the rounds in Italian football, playing for the likes of Giulianova, Catania, Ascoli, Torino and Ternana, for whom he scored 19 goals last season.
His best return came in the 2009-10 campaign when he scored 24 times for Ascoli to win the Serie B golden boot.
He arrives at the Leeds the day after their 2-0 home defeat to Brighton - their second loss from three Championship games under new coach David Hockaday.
Antenucci's signing is Leeds' 11th of the summer and he becomes the fourth Italian purchased by owner Massimo Cellino.
The former Cagliari president said last week that he still hopes to sign a further five or six players and is understood to be pursuing a move for Adryan, the Brazilian playmaker on loan at his old club from Flamengo.

Leeds United seal capture of Italian striker Antenucci

Yorkshire Evening Post 20/8/14
Leeds United last night sealed the signing of Mirco Antenucci, landing the striker on a two-year deal from Italian club Ternana.
Antenucci put pen to paper after a day of talks at Elland Road and is now awaiting international clearance ahead of United’s game at Watford this weekend.
Leeds paid an undisclosed fee to make the former Torino forward their 11th signing of the summer, strengthening an attacking line weakened by the loss of Souleymane Doukara to injury.
Doukara will be out for at least a month after rupturing ankle ligaments in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Middlesbrough but Antenucci is in line to make his debut away at Vicarage Road if Leeds secure the necessary paperwork in time.
Writing on Twitter, Antenucci said: “Proud to be part of this club. Hope to give you a lot of satisfaction.”
United have been monitoring Antenucci for the past fortnight and stepped up their interest in him after a £850,000 bid for Rotherham United forward Kieran Agard collapsed.
Agard failed to agree personal terms during negotiations with Leeds last Friday and is now set to join Bristol City in League One.
Antenucci is well travelled in the Italian divisions and has played for Catania, Venezia and a number of lower league sides during a lengthy career.
Leeds, meanwhile, are continuing to press for a deal to sign Adryan, the 20-year-old Brazilian midfielder on loan at Cagliari from Flamengo.
Negotiations over Adryan’s signature look likely to run into next week but United owner Massimo Cellino remains hopeful of securing a player who he described as a “natural number 10.”

Elation quick to dissipate as Leeds United stumble against Brighton

Yorkshire Post 20/8/14
by Richard Sutcliffe
AFTER the delight, the dejection. Such is the up and down life of a Leeds United fan right now.
Just 80 hours on from an uplifting victory over Middlesbrough, a crushing sense of reality returned to Elland Road last night as Brighton & Hove Albion claimed not only their first points of the new season but also their first goals.
Joao Teixeira and Kazenga Lua-Lua got the all-important strikes that capped an impressive display by the Seagulls.
However, the boos that rang out at both half-time and full-time told their own story about how poorly the home side performed on a night when United were out-classed in every department.
Leeds’s set-up was all wrong, four midfielders of similar ability and style strung out in a line so rigid during a one-sided first half that they did a passable impression of the statuesque figures on a table football game rod.
Brighton, in contrast, fizzed about the field with an energy and enterprise that shamed their hosts. The upshot was United chasing shadows for long periods as the fleet-footed visitors passed the ball through and round those in white shirts with an ease that, especially in the first half, was embarrassing.
Leeds did improve in the second half, but, even then, Dave Hockaday’s side managed to fashion only one real chance of note and that was spurned, on 69 minutes, by Michael Tonge.
It was a bad miss, though perhaps one that saw justice done as even a point for the Yorkshire club would have been something of a travesty considering how Brighton dominated for long spells.
The tone was set in the opening exchanges, with Brighton’s play being as bright as their day-glo orange away shirts and Leeds having little answer to the visitors’ probing.
United’s response was to resort to some industrial-strength challenges, which were clearly designed to knock Albion out of their stride.
All the hosts managed, however, was to incur the wrath of referee James Adcock as, first, Rodolph Austin and then Stephen Warnock found their way into the official’s notebook inside the opening five minutes.
The second of those yellow cards proved the most costly, Warnock’s intent on flattening Craig Mackail-Smith on halfway meaning that, as Adcock waved play on, Brighton were able to exploit the space where the United left-back should have been.
A sliderule pass from Bruno Salter did the trick by releasing Joao Teixeira down the Leeds left, allowing the midfielder sufficient time and space to pick his spot past Marco Silvestri.
After that, Brighton continued to play the neater football with the excellent Kemy Agustien dictating play as United chased shadows.
The only consolation for Leeds at the break was that a tendency to over elaborate on the part of the visitors meant they fashioned just one other chance of note when Inigo Calderon headed over from a wonderful cross from Adam Chicksen.
In contrast to the pacey vistors, United laboured in possession and were deservedly jeered from the field at half-time.
Changes were clearly needed and Hockaday’s response was to send on Nicky Ajose for the ineffective Matt Smith.
Without the 6ft 6ins striker to aim at, United stopped firing aimless balls forward and started to pass to feet.
This, together with some incisive running off the ball down the right by Sam Byram, meant they posed much more of a threat after the interval.
A barn-storming run from Austin caused sufficient panic in the Brighton ranks that the Jamaican was hacked to the ground just three or four yards outside the penalty area.
Tonge stepped up to take the resulting free-kick, but could only fire into the wall. It was disappointing but, at least, an indication that Albion were no longer going to have things all their own way.
An incisive passing move down the Leeds right flank then ended with Sam Byram squaring to Tonge who, despite being unmarked and just eight yards out, could only slice his shot wide.
With that went any chance of United rescuing even a point as, just a couple of minutes after Rohan Ince had struck the outside of a post, Brighton doubled their advantage when Lua-Lua fired a free-kick under a defensive wall which chose that exact moment to jump in the air.
An entirely fitting way to end a night when any hopes of the weekend win over Middlesbrough kick-starting the season at Elland Road were shattered in comprehensive fashion.

Leeds United: Bruised Whites up the Ante

Yorkshire Evening Post 20/8/14
by Phil Hay
MIRCO Antenucci will arrive in England for advanced negotiations with Leeds United today ahead of proposed transfer from Italian club Ternana.
Antenucci was scheduled to fly to Manchester from Rome this morning before travelling to Leeds to meet with owner Massimo Cellino and discuss the details of his contract.
United stumbled to a 2-0 Championship loss at home to Brighton last night but 30-year-old striker Antenucci appears to be closing in on a permanent move to Elland Road and could become Leeds’ 11th signing of the summer in the next 24 hours.
Antenucci, who is co-owned by Serie B side Ternana and Serie A club Catania, has been heavily linked with Leeds for the past week and the club’s interest in him intensified after their move for Rotherham United forward Kieran Agard fell through.
United had an offer of more than £800,000 for Agard accepted by Rotherham last Thursday but the transfer collapsed after they failed to agree personal terms with Agard during talks on Friday morning.
Antenucci is a more experienced option than 24-year-old Agard and a striker who has played for more than a decade in the Italian leagues, predominantly in the lower divisions.
His career took him to Catania, Venezia and Torino before Catania signed him for a second time in 2012.
Antenucci’s recent opportunities at Catania have been limited, however, and he captained Ternana in Serie B last season.
Today’s talks with Antenucci come as Leeds attempt to finish off their transfer business before the summer deadline on September 1.
The club are continuing to speak to Flamengo about a possible deal for midfielder Adryan, a 20-year-old Brazilian who is on loan at Cagliari but wanted by Cellino.
Adryan joined Cagliari on a temporary 18-month contract last season and Cagliari have an option to sign him permanently for around £5m.
But Cellino was behind that transfer during his time as owner of the Sardinian club and he is negotiating with Flamengo, Cagliari and Adryan’s agent in a bid to secure a deal which sees the youngster recalled by Flamengo and then transferred immediately to Elland Road.
Cellino has described discussions over Adryan as “difficult” but said the Brazil Under-20 international was a “natural number 10.”

Leeds United 0 Brighton 2: Whites are brought back down to earth

Yorkshire Evening Post 19/8/14
ONE step forward and a quick step back as is so often the Elland Road way. The euphoria of Billy Sharp’s debut against Middlesbrough blew itself out last night as Brighton dragged Leeds United down to earth.
The club know better than to leave the ground for long but their head coach, David Hockaday, will wonder how the buzz created by his team on Saturday was lost so comprehensively four days later. The journey from appreciation to booing inside Elland Road was nothing if not quick.
There was disquiet at half-time after Brighton waltzed around the pitch unhindered and again at the end of the match as an attempt to redeem those 45 minutes came to nothing. An early goal from Joao Teixeira, a loanee from Liverpool, separated the teams for most of the match but the disparity in dominance and technical proficiency was far wider. Albion had problems before yesterday, or so it was said. Their visit to Leeds was an easy way to get their season going.
Teixeira struck with the first chance of the game, beating Marco Silvestri from a tight angle, and Leeds were denied a shot on target for well over an hour as Brighton spread the ball around the field and challenged United to do the same.
The balance of the game swung eventually and Brighton were compelled to dig in but other teams have had harder appearances at Elland Road. Middlesbrough for one. Michael Tonge saw the only chance of note for Leeds, albeit one which should have earned the club a point, and Kazenga LuaLua killed the game by converting a free-kick six minutes from time.
There is something afoot in Brighton and unhappy noises emanated from the south coast over the weekend. The summer that followed their appearance in the play-offs has been an odd period in which the club achieved little more than the sale of their better players, the most recent Will Buckley to Sunderland for £2.5m.
Two defeats in as many games brought Albion to Elland Road in a chastened mood and without a point to their name. The pressure before kick-off was unexpectedly weighted in United’s favour, despite a fixture list which promised them trouble, but Brighton found solace in Leeds and quickly rediscovered their touch.
United’s late win over Boro bought Hockaday some grace, increasing the swell of people who seem willing to reserve judgement of him, but yesterday’s result was limp retreat. Hockaday tweaked his team before kick-off, using Matt Smith to fill the gap up front left by Souleymane Doukara - a player who arrived at the ground with a protective boot on his injured ankle - and Tonge also came into the team, a fair decision in response to his influence in the closing minutes of the victory against Boro.
As the days pass, Hockaday is finding himself with more and more to work with. Another striker could sign this afternoon if Leeds successfully conclude negotiations with Ternana’s Mirco Antenucci, and the chase of Brazilian midfielder Adryan goes on. On the evidence of last night and two previous league games, the midfield is where most attention is needed before the transfer window shut and where United’s deficiencies lie. Brighton’s possession in the first half ran to 70 per cent.
The game did not reach the fifth minute before Hockaday’s team were asked a question they failed to answer. Brighton broke from midfield after Stephen Warnock committed himself to a sliding tackle near the halfway line and Teixeira ghosted in behind Liam Cooper before driving the ball across Silvestri and into the far corner of the net.
The tension in United’s football was palpable and the lack of width painful as Brighton ran the contest. Adam Chicksen lashed a volley over the crossbar with enough space on the edge of the box to do better, and David Stockdale - the Albion - was alone in his box for the first 20 minutes as Leeds’ midfield struggled with their ball retention and gave Brighton free rein.
The possession Albion saw did not amount to much, even though Leeds looked at certain junctures like they were waiting for Sami Hyypia’s players to cut them open again. Kemy Agustien scuffed an effort wide without worrying Silvestri and the match was almost half-an-hour old by the time Luke Murphy tried to test Stockdale with a shot which struck a defender. Tonge’s 20-yard effort soon after came no closer to forcing an equaliser.
The rest of the half followed a familiar pattern as Brighton hogged the ball without finding a route to Silvestri. Chicksen became Albion’s regular outlet, appearing unmarked on the left wing so often that even the crowd began pointing the problem out. Billy Sharp was belatedly used to offer some resistance as Leeds limped to the interval.
Smith was sacrificed at half-time - an unlucky victim in the circumstances - and Nicky Ajose took his place. With a different system, Leeds worked their way into the match and left Brighton to look for chances on the counter, and the opportunity that Hockaday hoped for came in the 69th minute.
Sam Byram created it by producing a trademark sprint towards the visitors’ byline and cutting the ball back to Tonge who bundled it against Calderon on the Albion goalline. Stockdale was nowhere but other defenders were waiting to see off the danger as Sharp grimaced.
Brighton substitute Rohan Ince did the same 10 minutes from time after he galloped onto Craig Mackail-Smith’s through ball and shook Silvestri’s right-hand post but the cost to Albion was not high. Soon after, Jason Pearce conceded a foul on the edge of his box and LuaLua drilled the free-kick under the wall and into an unguarded net. Game over, as it seemed to be from the outset.

Leeds 0-2 Brighton: Sami Hyypia earns first victory as boss of Seagulls

Mail 19/8/14
Brighton achieve first Championship win of the season with 2-0 victory against Leeds
Sami Hyypia enjoys first league victory as Brighton boss
Joao Teixeira gave Brighton the lead after five minutes
Sami Hyypia has former Liverpool team-mate Steven Gerrard to thank for his first league victory in English football.
The Brighton boss spoke to Gerrard about 21-year-old Reds playmaker Joao Teixeira last week and the Portuguese duly headed south on a season-long loan deal.
Teixeira – signed from Sporting Lisbon for £830,000 in 2012 – made his first start at Elland Road last night and was on target as he inspired Hyypia’s pointless side to a much-needed win.
The ex-Liverpool defender was already under pressure having opened the season with back-to-back 1-0 losses against Sheffield Wednesday and Birmingham.
A conversation with Gerrard, however, helped change that and, on this evidence, Teixeira could well have a first-team future at Anfield when he returns next summer.
And Hyypia said: ‘Joao is still young and can improve and hopefully we are the stepping stone to the first eleven at Liverpool. He showed tonight he can really play football.
‘I’m grateful that Liverpool let him come here and hopefully it works both ways – we’ve got a quality player on our hands and we hope he can play many games - that would also suit Liverpool.
‘He would not have got much time on the pitch (at Liverpool). He needs to play games to improve. I’m very happy to have him here.’
The game was only five minutes old when livewire Teixeira broke the deadlock, Bruno Slater springing him clear and he defied a narrow angle to slide across Marco Silvestri and into the bottom corner.
The Portugal Under-21 youngster was at the heart of everything good about his side during the early exchanges and, after wriggling free of two white shirts inside the area, he teed up Craig Mackail-Smith only for his shot to cannon into a defender.
The Seagulls should have doubled their advantage before the break but the unmarked Inigo Calderon headed over at the far post having been located by Adam Chicksen’s left-wing delivery. That chance – effortlessly fashioned by Brighton – drew boos from a frustrated home crowd.
But Leeds should have been level after the break when the energetic Sam Byram - a reported target of Liverpool - broke clear down the right and drew back to Billy Sharp, lurking on the penalty spot. The former Southampton man had the whole goal to aim at but fired straight at the sliding Calderon, much to the angst of the Elland Road fans.
That allowed substitute Kazenga LuaLua to make sure of Hyypia’s first points of the season when he smashed home a late free-kick.
And Hyypia - appointed in June having been sacked by Bayer Leverkusen in April – reflected: ‘We showed what we can do, especially in the first half.
‘But we had to dig in and keep our concentration on the defensive side. I was very happy that we kept a clean sheet.
‘If you want to play football you need good footballers on the field. I was a defender so I don’t know if it’s strange I want to play this way, but that’s what I like.
‘I think we can take a lot of confidence from this performance and I hope we can play our way out of the Championship. I think the players will enjoy playing this way.’
Meanwhile, Leeds manager Dave Hockaday said: ‘I can’t tell you how disappointed I was with the first half. We didn’t work together and we gave the ball away cheaply.
‘We gave it a go in the second half but lacked a cutting edge.’

Monday, August 18, 2014

Leeds United 1 Middlesbrough 0: Sharp is back as he pounces to banish ‘fat lad’ tag

Yorkshire Post 19/8/14
by Nick Westby
Billy Sharp has been scoring goals at Championship level since long before Leeds United had become the apple of Massimo Cellino’s eye.
The diminutive striker first started tormenting second-tier defences when playing for unfancied Scunthorpe in the 2006-07 season, round about the same time that Mr Cellino was on his 23rd manager at Cagliari.
Sharp’s latest goal – some 100-plus strikes later – is one that gives the next man in Cellino’s firing line a precious bit of breathing space.
Dave Hockaday had started his tenure in the Leeds dugout in circumstances befitting the most inauspicious of head coaching appointments, but the healing power of a single goal – Sharp’s 87th-minute close-range pounce – can not be under-estimated.
It gave validation to Hockaday’s reign, reassurance to the striker that he can still contribute at this level after a couple of nomadic years, and the Elland Road faithful something to smile about at long last after a summer in which there have been precious few positives.
It also vindicated the owner’s decision to act swiftly in the wake of the listless season-opening defeat at Millwall by strengthening the squad available to Hockaday with the signing of not only Sharp, but also Liam Cooper from Chesterfield.
Former Hull City defender Cooper looked confident in the heart of Leeds’s defence, bringing the ball out from the back to great effect and helping central partner Jason Pearce to limit Kike – Middlesbrough’s big summer signing – to nothing more than scraps.
But it was Sharp who stole the headlines, as he has done on so many occasions down the years, whether it be for Scunthorpe, Sheffield United, Doncaster Rovers or even Southampton, a Premier League club where his face never really seemed to fit.
“I just had a feeling the ‘keeper was going to drop one. I thought he was going to in the first half but I managed to get onto this one and tap it in from two yards, which I like to do,” said Sharp, who pounced when Tomas Mejias spilled Michael Tonge’s 87th- minute shot.
“I’d been beating myself up for five minutes after missing a header that I should have scored, but I thank the lads for grinding it out and Tongey for having a good shot.
“He (Mejias) is not usually in the net for Middlesbrough so I wanted the lads to have more shots. I should have probably had one in the first half, but as a striker you’ve just got to keep gambling, especially after missing one a little earlier.
“Luckily for me, I got the chance.”
Coincidentally, Sharp’s previous goal had been scored in front of the Revie End, for Doncaster Rovers in March – a fact his father reminded him of upon his signing for Leeds on Wednesday.
“It’s nice to get another one there and, hopefully, I can get many more,” added Sharp, whose goal was greeted with an enormous outpouring of relief by the Elland Road faithful and resulted in the striker ripping off his shirt in celebration.
“It’s a superb club, the fans are amazing and I just wanted to show how delighted I was when I scored and try and get rid of the ‘fat lad’ tag I’ve got – or rather, I made for myself, but, hopefully, I’ve got rid of now.
“I’ll take the yellow card (for the shirt removal). Obviously you’re not supposed to do it but I was overjoyed.
“I won’t do it every time but for the first one I was more than happy to do it.”
It was the third time Sharp has scored on debut, with Scunthorpe and Reading fans also getting an early glimpse of his poaching prowess.
He nearly had one after 90 seconds when he raced onto a through ball to which Mejias beat him before Daniel Ayala retreated behind his goalkeeper to scoop Nicky Ajose’s follow-up shot from off the line.
Other than the header Sharp knows he should have scored from 10 minutes before he did slide in the only goal, Leeds barely threatened against a Middlesbrough side who looked neat and tidy in possession, if a little toothless in the final third.
Lee Tomlin, playing in support of Kike, was a constant threat in the first 30 minutes before Leeds finally shut him down.
Boro should have been rewarded with a goal on 25 minutes when poor defending from a long throw saw the ball bounce through to Albert Adomah, who swivelled and launched a boot at it to send it into the bottom corner.
Referee Stuart Attwell, though, deemed the foot to be too high and too close to the face of Stephen Warnock.
Leeds would be thankful for Warnock’s interventions either side of the break that denied what would have been clear shots on goal, one of them to thwart Adomah, who was left bemused at the decision to rule out his earlier strike.
“It’s a shame, I thought it was a well-taken goal,” said the Middlesbrough winger. “But the referee obviously thought differently, he saw a high foot and disallowed the ‘goal’.
“Everyone else thought it was a goal. Even the linesman. I was speaking to the linesman afterwards and he said it was down to the referee.”
Adomah’s manager, Aitor Karanka, had empathy, but was wise enough to accept that his Middlesbrough side did not sufficiently threaten a home team who, while at times too narrow and a little anxious, did have enough character to stay in the game and then possessed the vital element in poacher-extraordinaire Sharp to win it.

Leeds United: Hockaday backs his coaching credentials

Yorkshire Evening Post 18/8/14
David Hockaday secured his first league victory as Leeds United head coach and then vowed to vindicate Massimo Cellino’s controversial decision to pick him for the job at Elland Road.
United got their season moving with a dramatic 1-0 win over Middlesbrough on Saturday, earned by an 88th-minute goal from new signing Billy Sharp and produced seven days after a dismal opening day at Millwall.
Hockaday and his players came in for criticism after a 2-0 loss at The Den but a competitive performance against Boro saw Sharp claim three points with a poacher’s effort.
Hockaday, whose previous job in professional football was as manager of non-league Forest Green Rovers, said he was “proud” of Saturday’s victory and “fortunate” to be occupying the position of head coach at Leeds.
The 56-year-old was an obscure appointment when Cellino unveiled him as his replacement for former boss Brian McDermott in June, but Hockaday said: “I want to prove the president right.
“The president did his homework and he picked a British coach. We’re great at knocking ourselves in this country but there are great coaches here if they’re given a chance.
“I’m head coach at Leeds United so really, how tough is that? I love it. I’m genuinely honoured and for someone to give me the opportunity, I can’t thank (Cellino) enough.
“I’ve been in football for 40 years so pressure’s my middle name. If you’ve been in football this long, you’re used to it. It’s a results-based business and I know that. This is a very good start at home.”
Middlesbrough dominated the early stages of a tight game and were denied the opening goal when referee Stuart Attwell ruled out an overhead kick by Albert Adomah.
But Leeds played their way into the contest and Sharp – one of two debutants on Saturday – snatched a 1-0 win when he punished an error by Boro goalkeeper Tomas Mejias two minutes from time.
“My players were different class and whatever the quality, nobody can say they didn’t sweat for the shirt,” Hockaday said. “I don’t know a top team that doesn’t work hard and you have to get the fundamentals right.
“You’re not going to dominate a team like Middlesbrough for 95 minutes but we weathered the storm and got a break. I don’t know about their goal, I don’t know why it was disallowed, but we came out stronger in the second half.”
Hockaday also paid tribute to Sharp, saying: “That’s what he does but there’s more to his game than scoring goals. His was a complete performance.”
Sharp became United’s 10th summer signing when he joined the club from Southampton last week but Leeds are continuing to look for other recruits ahead of the closure of the transfer window in a fortnight’s time.
The club are being strongly linked with a deal for Mirco Antenucci, a striker who is involved in a complicated co-ownership deal between Catania and Ternana, and they are keenly interested in Adryan, a Brazilian midfielder at Cagliari. Cellino was responsible for taking Adryan on loan to Cagliari from Flamengo last season and the 20-year-old’s future is unclear after he was omitted from friendly between Cagliari and Celta Vigo on Saturday night.
Hockaday said: “We need to strengthen but I’m not going to name names or positions. The players we’ve brought in have added to the mix and I’m happy with them. I think between us we’ve got an eye for a good player.”
Noel Hunt appears to be surplus to requirements, however, after Sheffield United boss Nigel Clough revealed that he declined an offer to take the forward from Leeds last week.
Striker Souleymane Doukara is a doubt for tomorrow’s game at home to Brighton after suffering an ankle injury in the second half against Middlesbrough.