Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Respite for Leeds as Mowatt avoids surgery

Yorkshire Post 30/4/14
ALEX Mowatt has avoided surgery and should be fit for the start of Leeds United’s pre-season schedule after undergoing scans on the injury he suffered at Birmingham City on Saturday.
The 19-year-old midfielder was given the all-clear following examinations of his knee on Monday and he is expected to be ready to begin training with the rest of United’s squad when they report back for pre-season around the start of July.
Mowatt was stretchered from the field in obvious pain towards the end of Saturday’s 3-1 win over Birmingham at St Andrews, jarring his knee in injury-time as Leeds closed out their last away game of the season.
Manager Brian McDermott said after full-time that he hoped the youngster’s injury would not prove to be serious but Mowatt underwent scans 48 hours later to establish whether he would require an operation ahead of the summer.
Speaking yesterday, McDermott said: “He’s fine and he won’t need an operation.
“We’ve had him looked at but there’s nothing serious there. It’s a relief for everyone and for him most of all.”
Mowatt featured as a second-half substitute at Birmingham, taking to the pitch moments before Matt Smith’s 58th-minute header inspired a third win from four games for Leeds.
The England Under-19 international, who is in line to win the club’s young player-of-the-year award at their end-of-season-dinner this weekend, has been in and out of United’s side since January but he produced an impressive half-hour at St Andrews, helping to seal comfortable result.
Mowatt will miss the last match of the term at home to Derby County but the positive prognosis on his knee alleviated fears that an innocuous injury would negatively affect his second year as a senior professional.
The Doncaster-born youngster made his debut for Leeds last August and shone throughout the first half of the term, earning a new three-year contract in December.
He was called up by England’s Under-19s for the first time in October and made his debut against Turkey last month.
His sudden emergence is an echo of Sam Byram’s rapid and unheralded progression during the 2012-13 term, though Byram has missed much of this season due to fitness problems.
The 20-year-old full-back will not be involved against Derby on Saturday either.
Byram’s injury concerns stem from the hip he damaged last April and he is currently recovering from a hamstring strain picked up in United’s 1-0 defeat to Wigan Athletic at the start of this month.
Leeds have been out of the running for promotion from the Championship for several weeks, and Byram said: “Saturday’s one of those games where I could have been involved at a push if there was something riding on it. If we’d been going for the play-offs and we’d needed everyone, I could have taken the risk.
“I’m virtually there but I’m looking to pre-season now and it wouldn’t have made much sense to play this weekend and suffer a setback. It’s the right decision from the physios and the manager.”
McDermott, meanwhile, remains in the dark about his future as manager with the last game of the league season looming.
The United boss is still awaiting talks with club owner Massimo Cellino, who was due to arrive in England from Sardinia yesterday.
Cellino travelled to Italy on Saturday to take in a game between his Italian club Cagliari and Parma, a match which safeguarded Cagliari’s Serie A status for another season.
The 57-year-old has been negotiating the sale of Cagliari to a group of US investors but reports in the Italian media suggest that deal is on the verge of collapse amid indications that businessman Cellino might opt to retain control of a team he bought back in 1992.

Two More Cagliari Players Linked with Leeds as Serie A Club Look at Summer Rebuild

Inside Futbol 29/4/14
Cagliari are looking at a major turnover in players this coming summer, as stars from the Serie A club continue to be linked with switches elsewhere, including Massimo Cellinio's new club Leeds United.
Already Cellino, who owns Cagliari and has acquired 75 per cent of Leeds, has been linked with moving to take Colombian striker Victor Ibarbo and Brazilian defender Danilo Avelar to Elland Road.
Now other players have popped onto his radar.
According to Tuttosport, Cellino has added Swedish midfielder Sebastian Eriksson and Italian midfielder Andrea Tabanelli to his wanted list, the latter having come very close to joining Leeds on loan in January.
Elsewhere, defender Davide Astori, a player who has attracted interest from Manchester United, is wanted by Roma.
There are also doubts about Andrea Cossu, Daniele Conti and Vlada Avramov continuing at Cagliari into 2014/15.
In store for Cagliari could well be a huge shake-up in playing personnel, with several stars shipped to help Cellino's new project at Leeds, where he is eyeing promotion to the Premier League from the Championship within two years.

‘Humbled’ McCormack aims to end season with milestone

Yorkshire Post 29/4/14
PROLIFIC Leeds United marksman Ross McCormack admitted to being ‘humbled’ at recognition by his peers after being named in the PFA’s Championship Team of the Year.
The 29-goal striker, who has one more opportunity this term to reach a seasonal milestone of 30 goals, in United’s final-day home clash with Derby County on Saturday, was honoured at a glittering awards ceremony at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel.
The other forward named in the select PFA Championship line-up was Burnley hot-shot Danny Ings, with the side also including three representatives each from the promoted duo of Leicester City and Burnley.
McCormack tweeted; “Thanks for all the messages. Really humbled to be in the team of the year.”
Manager Brian McDermott added: “I’ve been proud of Ross this year. He is the captain – 29 goals overall this season is phenomenal.”
Ex-Whites custodian Kasper Schmeichel was named as the goalkeeper in the Championship XI, with fellow Foxes team-mates Wes Morgan and Danny Drinkwater also earning a place.
Burnley’s representatives were Kieran Trippier, Jason Shackell and Ings, with Derby midfield pair Will Hughes and Craig Bryson also chosen along with Ipswich’s Aaron Cresswell and Nottingham Forest’s Andy Reid.
Rotherham United midfielder Ben Pringle earned a spot in the League One Team of the Year, but there was no place for the likes of 25-goal Kieran Agard, Lee Frecklington, Craig Morgan and Kari Arnason, despite stand-out campaigns.
Sheffield United central defender Harry Maguire beat the likes of Morgan and Arnason to earn selection, with the line-up including five Wolves players.
There were no Yorkshire representatives in the Premier League and League Two representative sides.

Ross named in Championship team of the year

leedsunited.com 28/4/14
PFA Championship Team of the Year announced…
United striker Ross McCormack was named in the PFA’s Championship Team of the Year at Sunday’s 2014 award ceremony.
McCormack, who is the league’s top scorer with 28 league goals and has started every league game this season, was named along with Burnley’s Danny Ings in the striking positions.
Speaking after Saturday’s victory at Birmingham the United boss Brian McDermott said: “I’ve been proud of Ross this year. He is the captain. 29 goals overall this season is phenomenal.”
Ross has already been named the LUSC Player of the Year and LUDO Player of the Year and is one of three nominations for the club’s official Player of the Year award, which will be announced on Saturday night.
Full Championship Team of the Year Line-up: Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester), Kieran Trippier (Burnley), Aaron Cresswell (Ipswich), Wes Morgan (Leicester), Jason Shackell (Burnley), Danny Drinkwater (Leicester), Andy Reid (Nottingham Forest), Craig Bryson (Derby), Will Hughes (Derby), Danny Ings (Burnley), Ross McCormack (Leeds).

Birmingham City 1 Leeds United 3: Mac hails players as City swept aside

Yorkshire Evening Post 28/4/14
by Phil Hay
It could be any day now for Brian McDermott and if the tap on the shoulder comes this week, he goes out of Leeds United with an agreeable result behind him.
There are stellar moments in a manager’s career and there are games like Saturday’s win at Birmingham City but in this of all seasons McDermott will take whatever consolation he can.
He is at the stage where every game could conceivably be his last.
If Massimo Cellino thinks otherwise then he has a funny way of showing it. United’s owner did not make the journey to St Andrews but Benito Carbone was there without him, sat in the directors’ box, wearing a club tie and present in a capacity which only he and Cellino knew.
Cellino later revealed that Carbone had come to Leeds as part of the restructuring of the club’s academy and was not being lined up as a replacement for McDermott.
Positioning him in the stands at St Andrews without first defining his role lacked a certain amount of class but the wind is blowing through Elland Road and blowing strongly.
McDermott and Carbone, the former Bradford City striker, met on Friday, though United’s manager claimed he was unaware of Carbone’s intentions or even Cellino’s. McDermott expected to meet Cellino last week and hoped to do so this week, but on Saturday he was unable to say when or if meaningful dialogue would take place.
“I’ve just got to build up to the last game against Derby,” McDermott said. Cellino promises that they will talk.
McDermott has been here before, as recently as January when Gianluca Festa was wandering around the training ground at Thorp Arch with employment on his mind. The signs are ominous but McDermott was happy last week to immerse himself in a match which mattered intensely to Birmingham and acted as a sideshow for Leeds.
He was at pains afterwards to remind everyone that a 3-1 victory was United’s third win in four games, a patch like few others this season.
“We’ve had a tough time over the past few months but since the ownership’s been sorted, we’ve won three out of four,” McDermott said.
“The players haven’t had a lot of credit but I hope they get some for this. They deserve it. We’ve played three teams fighting for their lives, two away from home, and we beat Blackpool who’ve now gone to Wigan and won. That tells you what you need to know about this league.
“My job is to make sure that whatever happens away from the pitch, everything on the footballing side is right. That was the only job I had last week. The only agenda you ever have is to win the next game.”
The muted appraisal of United’s three wins is a reflection of the opposition beaten: two sides in Blackpool and Barnsley who toiled all over the pitch and another in Birmingham whose record as home is comparable with the worst in Europe. When a better calibre of team showed up at Elland Road last Monday, Nottingham Forest won at a defensive canter. McDermott sat up until 3am that night, replaying the game and trying to figure the problems out.
He magicked an improvement at St Andrews, watching a tight first half that City shaded before relaxing in a second which found Leeds at their most carefree and fluent for months. Matt Smith scored a glancing header against his father’s old club and Danny Pugh took a close-range chance two minutes later.
Paul Caddis’ own goal – one which Ross McCormack tried to claim – made Federico Macheda’s late reply irrelevant.
If nothing else, three of the past four games have reminded Leeds that they are not the only club with problems. Birmingham are two games from relegation, stewing in their own depression and haemorrhaging supporters at a scary rate. On average they have lost 10,000 supporters in three years and Smith’s 57th-minute goal exposed brittle bones under wounded skin.
“The nervous tension kicked in and when the first goal went in, you saw our Achilles heel,” said City’s manager, Lee Clark. “A couple of minutes later, it’s two. We’re fighting for our future.”
Birmingham sold themselves short before half-time, particularly in the 10th minute when Tom Adeyemi took Lee Novak’s pass and flicked it with his heel between Tom Lees and Scott Wootton.
Primed to score from 12 yards, he shanked a shot over Jack Butland and the crossbar.
As Carbone tapped away on an iPad, Leeds saw little of the game but Michael Tonge tested Darren Randolph when he anticipated Ross McCormack’s ball and cracked it against the goalkeeper’s legs.
Tonge doubled for Luke Murphy on Saturday, advancing into the box repeatedly as Murphy had against Blackpool.
Murphy’s afternoon never started and McDermott replaced him with Alex Mowatt in the 57th minute, making the most of a concerted period of dominance from his side.
Sixty seconds later, Tonge’s cross picked out Smith who glanced a lovely header inside Randolph’s left-hand post. Within moments of the restart, McCormack knocked a loose ball to Pugh who appeared six yards from goal and couldn’t miss.
“Against Forest we had 65 per cent possession, whatever that meant,” McDermott said.
“It was ineffective. But in this game we got a really good goal and then another.
“Then we started to play and pass. We earned the right.”
He does not need to be told that Leeds have failed to do that enough.
So late in the season, the shortcomings he and others have identified are more likely to be solved through targeted recruitment than day-to-day training. Cellino will not be inclined to dwell on Saturday’s win when the time for ruthless decisions comes.
Caddis confirmed United’s victory on 78 minutes by sliding in and turning McCormack’s cross past Randolph. Lodged on 29 goals, McCormack tried to pinch it by saying his pass was going in anyway.
“If he says that then it’s good enough for me,” said McDermott, his mood unaffected by Macheda’s close-range finish seven minutes from time.
In one more game, a horrible season will be over. “In this year of all years, I’ll probably need a holiday,” McDermott joked. He knows himself that he might have all the time in the world.

Leeds United: Carbone is installed to ‘rebuild academy’

Yorkshire Evening Post 28/4/14
by Phil Hay
Massimo Cellino said he was giving Benito Carbone the chance to “help me rebuild the academy” at Leeds United as he moved to dampen speculation that the former Bradford City player is primed to replace manager Brian McDermott.
Carbone has joined the youth team set-up at Thorp Arch after reaching an agreement which Cellino claimed would see the 42-year-old work without wages for at least six months.
United’s Italian owner invited Carbone to England last week and Carbone visited United’s training ground on Thursday and Friday before travelling to Saturday’s Championship game between Leeds and Birmingham City at St Andrews.
His appearance in Birmingham fuelled speculation that Cellino was lining up Carbone – to date a coach with limited experience in the Italian lower leagues – to take McDermott’s job but he will instead be involved in running an academy which Cellino said was “not giving us enough, or anything.”
“Benito knows English football,” Cellino said. “He wants to be a coach in England so he came to me and we spoke about him coming here, coaching the Under-21s. I have known him since he was a boy.
“The academy at Leeds, it costs us £2million a year and we don’t grow any players or not enough. It’s not giving us enough, or anything. Benito will help me to rebuild the academy, to make it good, to make it better.”
United’s academy has a healthy reputation and was recently awarded category two status under the newly-implemented Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP).
The club’s Under-18s, coached by ex-Leeds captain Richard Naylor, won their division last season and development-squad manager Neil Redfearn has controlled the youth-team system to good effect since April 2012.
Five members of McDermott’s 18-man squad at Birmingham were self-produced and development-squad player Lewis Cook was called up by England’s Under-17s for the forthcoming European Championships last week.
Carbone’s arrival, however, will be the first of numerous changes as Cellino imposes himself on the club he bought from Gulf Finance House earlier this month.
The ex-Bradford and Sheffield Wednesday player, who retired in 2010, has been coaching Italian side Saint Christophe Valle D’Aosta but is relocating to England on a deal which Cellino said would pay no money in the short term.
“We are not a rich club,” Cellino said. “I have money but this club, it loses money. It’s like an ex-rich man but instead of eating cheese, it still eats caviar.
“When I spoke to Benito, we didn’t worry about money. I’ll pay what it costs for him to live with me here and in six months, if we’re a rich club again, then we talk money. It doesn’t matter, it’s not a problem.”
Cellino gave no indication of what impact Carbone’s appointment would have on Redfearn or other prominent members of United’s academy staff.
McDermott, meanwhile, said he had spoken to Carbone on Friday, before United’s senior squad travelled to Birmingham, but had not been told about the Italian’s role at Thorp Arch.
“I’ve no idea,” McDermott said. “I haven’t been told.
“It’s not unsettling or frustrating. I met him on Friday and said hello to him. He was a reallygood player but I don’t know him. “Things like this happen at football clubs but the most important thing is Leeds United, not me personally. It’s the only agenda I’ve got.”
Leeds claimed a deserved 3-1 win at Birmingham, though the result was overshadowed by a potentially serious knee injury suffered by midfielder Alex Mowatt.
Mowatt was stretchered off in injury-time and McDermott said: “It’s difficult to analyse that straight after a game. He heard something in his knee.”

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Leeds United: Cellino offers McDermott new hope

Yorkshire Evening Post 28/4/14
by Phil Hay
Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino has offered Brian McDermott fresh hope of avoiding the sack by insisting the club’s manager was “my last problem” and denying that he had spoken to other coaches about taking the job at Elland Road.
Cellino said he and McDermott would “speak to each other, 100 per cent” in the days ahead and voiced sympathy for United’s boss, saying: “This situation would have been impossible for anyone, not just him.”
Previous comments from the Italian have given few hints of outright support for McDermott, and Cellino’s failure to meet with the 53-year-old last week – a meeting at which McDermott planned to discuss his retained list and summer transfer targets – cast further doubt on the likelihood of the ex-Reading manager remaining at Elland Road beyond the end of this season.
McDermott has two years left on his contract with Leeds but is yet to receive Cellino’s backing or any firm assurances about his future.
United have one game of the season remaining – at home to Derby County this weekend – after beating Birmingham City 3-1 on Saturday.
Cellino missed the victory after flying to Sardinia to watch his Italian club Cagliari play Parma yesterday.
Speaking to the YEP, Cellino said: “I’m going to talk to Brian.
“We will speak to each other 100 per cent and I will speak to him honestly. There is so much going on at Leeds and already I’ve changed my mind 10 times about a lot of things. But let me tell you, the coach is my last problem here.
“There are much bigger problems.” Asked if he had approached potential replacements for McDermott, Cellino said: “I haven’t talked to other coaches.”
United have won three of their last four league games, the club’s best sequence of form since November.
Cellino was conciliatory towards McDermott and directed criticism at Gulf Finance House, the Bahraini bank he bought out on April 7.
“Brian’s a good man but they (GFH) took his soul and he’s unhappy,” Cellino said.
“He had a dream, he had promises but then he came here and found a f****** nightmare.
“Because of that, I don’t think he’s been able to be himself. He’s been someone else.
“He started on the wrong foot, he was told a lot of bulls**t and the best coach in the world wouldn’t have done better. That is true.
“He was a good coach at Reading and maybe he can be a good coach here. But he isn’t a manager.”

Birmingham 1 Leeds 3: McDermott shrugs off Carbone speculation

Yorkshire Post 26/4/14
Matt Smith and Danny Pugh scored second-half goals as Leeds inflicted a 3-1 defeat on strugglers Birmingham, who slipped into the bottom three of the Sky Bet Championship for the first time this season.
It was the 17th successive home game in which Birmingham have failed to win and highlights their current desperate position.
The Blues played with plenty of commitment until a tragic two-minute spell when Smith and Pugh displayed superb finishing.
Their tale of woe was completed when Paul Caddis turned a Ross McCormack cross past his own goalkeeper in the 78th minute.
Substitute Federico Macheda popped up with an 83rd-minute goal but it was only a consolation effort.
Leeds’ win was their third in four games and they have all come against struggling teams - Blackpool and Barnsley - in the bottom four.
In the process, they completed the double over crisis club Birmingham following a 4-0 success at Elland Road.
Meanwhile, Leeds boss Brian McDermott claims he is not frustrated about stories of him losing his job and being replaced by former Sheffield Wednesday, Bradford and Aston Villa winger Benito Carbone.
McDermott said: “I spoke to Bernie on Friday. He was a really good player but I do not know him.
“These sort of things do not frustrate me or unsettle me. The most important thing is Leeds United and what is best for this football club and what is best to take this club forward. That is the only agenda I’ve got.
“The future is looking brighter as we have won three of our last four games. We were top five at one stage but we had a lot of things going on with the ownership, which was really difficult.
“These are mitigating circumstances and not excuses. We are now as safe as houses in this league and looking to do well next season.”

Birmingham 1-3 Leeds: United win sends struggling Blues into relegation zone

Mail 26/4/14
Matt Smith and Danny Pugh scored second-half goals as Leeds inflicted a 3-1 defeat on strugglers Birmingham, who slipped into the bottom three of the Sky Bet Championship for the first time this season.
It was the 17th successive home game in which Birmingham have failed to win and highlights their current desperate position.
The Blues played with plenty of commitment until a tragic two-minute spell when Smith and Pugh displayed superb finishing.
Their tale of woe was completed when Paul Caddis turned a Ross McCormack cross past his own goalkeeper in the 78th minute.
Substitute Federico Macheda popped up with an 83rd-minute goal but it was only a consolation effort.
Leeds' win was their third in four games and they have all come against struggling teams - Blackpool and Barnsley - in the bottom four.
In the process, they completed the double over crisis club Birmingham following a 4-0 success at Elland Road.
In such a crucial game, Birmingham adopted an attacking policy at the outset and it very nearly worked. However, they ran out and steam and were destroyed by Leeds' fine finishing.
Early on it had looked promising. Lee Novak had one attempt just off target but the best opportunity fell to young Tom Adeyemi in the seventh minute.
He cleverly flicked Novak's waist-high pass forward and in the process created a clear opening, but with only former Birmingham goalkeeper Jack Buckland to beat, Adeyemi carelessly floated his shot high over the bar.
Leeds finishing was hardly any better at this stage. Leading marksman, McCormack, was kept relatively quiet and it fell to Michael Tonge to attempt to give the visitors an early advantage, but his finishing also left a lot to be desired.
At this stage Leeds' defence appeared far from confident and Birmingham's determination was clearly a feature of the proceedings.
There was some frantic play and it only briefly abated when Jason Pearce was booked for a reckless tackle on the bustling Nikola Zigic.
Leeds weathered the storm and they created a smart opening for Tongue but the former Stoke player's shot was blocked by goalkeeper Darren Randolph as the first half petered out goalless.
Birmingham continued to strive for the vital goal, but clear-cut chances never materialised despite some good attacking play by stand-in skipper Chris Burke.
In their quest to score, Birmingham left themselves exposed and Leeds took full advantage with two goals in two minutes from Smith and Pugh to completely demoralise the home side.
The turning point of the game occurred in the 58th minute when Smith rose high to head home a Tongue cross.
His goal deflated Birmingham and before they had time to recover their composure they were two goals in arrears, when Pugh drilled a low shot into the corner of the net cutting in from the left.
To add to Birmingham's disappointment Caddis then scored an own goal when he turned in McCormack's short cross.
Substitute Macheda pulled back a goal with a powerful left-footed shot seven minutes from time but the damage had already been done.

Birmingham City 1 Leeds United 3 match report: Black day for Blues as they drop into bottom three

Independent 26/4/14
Birmingham's streak without a win stretches to 17 games and their alarming slip could result in relegation from the Championship
SIMON HART
If Manchester United fans think they have had it bad this season, they should spare a thought for Birmingham City’s long-suffering supporters. Their team have not managed a home victory since 1 October, and their total of two wins at St Andrew’s in this Championship campaign explains why they now find themselves in danger of dropping into the third tier for the first time since 1995.
This latest home failure – and ninth loss in 12 matches – dropped them into the bottom three for the first time this season thanks to Blackpool’s victory at Wigan, raising the stakes ahead of their own match against Wigan on Tuesday, their game in hand on the teams above them.
“At home it hasn’t been good enough,” said their manager, Lee Clark. “We have to rectify that and fight for our lives in the next two games.” Birmingham visit Bolton on the final day.
They were full of running in the first half but, with chances scarce, were left to rue Tom Adeyemi’s miss in the ninth minute when he broke through the middle but shot over. Instead the game slipped away from them around the hour mark when Leeds struck twice in three minutes.
The visitors’ big striker Matt Smith headed in from a Michael Tonge cross and Ross McCormack then teed up Danny Pugh to add the second. McCormack had a hand in the third goal too, as his cross for Smith was turned into his own goal by Paul Caddis.
Birmingham substitute Federico Macheda pulled a goal back with a neat, low finish for his 10th goal of the campaign, but by then the damage had been done. Macheda is one of 21 loan signings Clark has made during two seasons at a club effectively paralysed by owner Carson Yeung’s court case. With Yeung now imprisoned for money laundering, the Blues are up for sale, but whether they are sold as a Championship or League One club remains to be seen.
Leeds know all about the damaging impact of behind-the-scenes turmoil, of course. “Since ownership has been sorted we’ve won three games out of four,” noted their manager, Brian McDermott, though his future under Massimo Cellino – the new owner and convicted fraudster, who has already sacked him once – is uncertain.
Benito Carbone, the former Sheffield Wednesday and Aston Villa striker, was at Leeds’s Thorp Arch training ground on Friday, and was a face in the St Andrew’s crowd yesterday. McDermott said he had “no idea” about Cellino’s plans for his compatriot, but stressed he was not “unsettled”. Like Clark, though, he looked like a man in need of a long holiday.

Birmingham City 1 Leeds United 3: Carbone watches Whites victory

Yorkshire Evening Post 26/4/14
Benito Carbone watched from the stands as Leeds United claimed a 3-1 win over Birmingham City in their final away match of the season.
Carbone - in line for a coaching role under Leeds owner Massimo Cellino - took in a scrappy contest at St Andrews which Matt Smith and Danny Pugh turned United’s way with second-half goals.
An own goal from Paul Caddis sealed a deserved success for Leeds and Federico Macheda’s late strike was no consolation for struggling City.
The YEP has been told that Carbone is in line to take charge of the academy at Leeds but the ex-Bradford City striker’s presence in Birmingham increased speculation about the future of manager Brian McDermott.
The United boss is yet to be told if he will survive under Cellino but a header from Smith and a low finish from Pugh in the space of two minutes gave him the satisfaction of a third victory in four games.
The onus was on Birmingham to force the pace and claim a result and they were first to threaten after five minutes when Lee Novak’s sliced volley whipped beyond Jack Butland’s far post.
City’s Tom Adeyemi should have opened the scoring five minutes later when Novak’s flick played him in behind United’s defence but he smashed a wasteful finish over the crossbar with only Butland to beat.
United’s earliest effort was a volley from Michael Tonge which bounced well wide but Adeyemi went close again when his strike from inside the box struck a defender and flew behind for a corner.
Birmingham goalkeeper Darren Randolph denied Tonge shortly before the break as Leeds’ best move of the half ended with a shot against Randolph’s legs.
McDermott’s players began to dominate after the interval and Smith guided home a classy header after rising to meet Tonge’s cross on 57 minutes.
Pugh put the game beyond doubt soon after when the ball ricocheted to him inside the box, leaving him with a simple chance six yards out, and Caddis put the match beyond Birmingham on 79 minutes when he turned Ross McCormack’s cross into his own net.
Macheda reduced City’s deficit towards the end of the game, drilling the ball past Butland from close range, but Birmingham failed to mount a fightback.

Leeds United: Cellino looks set to overhaul way season tickets are sold - Hay

Yorkshire Evening Post 26/4/14
by Phil Hay
Leeds United have been later with their season-ticket prices, but only just.
Insolvency saw to it that in 2007 the club delayed renewals until the last week of May, inviting supporters to commit to a season which United were not entirely certain of starting.
The club’s financial problems were so bad that the board at Elland Road were told to ringfence the money to ensure that it could be repaid if Leeds were forced into liquidation before a ball was kicked. It’s a reminder of how bad that summer became.
More often than not, United – not least during Ken Bates’ (right) eight years as owner – moved to pull in a precious source of income as quickly as possible, announcing renewal prices as early as January. The timing was equally dubious, asking for payment at a stage where Leeds had no idea about which division they’d be playing in. The club defended themselves with the flimsy guarantee that costs would not increase regardless of whether they were promoted.
In England, income from season-ticket sales is often the single biggest flow of revenue for a Championship side. United’s gate receipts for the 2012-13 financial year ran to almost £10m, around a third of their annual turnover. But in the past two years, much of the cash was spent as soon as it arrived, used to pay off a loan from Ticketus which funded the costly redevelopment of Elland Road’s East Stand in 2011.
According to director Salem Patel – still officially on the board at Elland Road after Massimo Cellino’s takeover – the final fee owed to Ticketus last spring was £3.3m – a huge chunk of the money raised from season tickets.
Gulf Finance House, which cut prices ahead of the 2013-14 season, wanted to launch renewals for the 2014-15 term more than two months ago but Cellino refused.
“It wasn’t right,” the Italian said. “It was like taking money from the fans without any promises.” At the time Cellino was in the middle of his buy-out of GFH. Besides the issue of short-changing United’s supporters, he might also have been wary of allowing GFH to pull millions of pounds into Leeds at a stage where the Bahraini bank was making no effort to fund operating costs itself.
Prices for the 2014-15 season will finally be announced this Wednesday and if Cellino sticks to his historical policy, the renewal date at Elland Road is likely to remain static as the years go by.
In contrast to the approach of English clubs, he has never favoured selling tickets midway through a season which is already paid for and still in the balance. On occasions at Cagliari, he refused to sell season tickets at all.
I asked him why in an interview earlier this month.
“Because I was p****d off with the fans or I wasn’t sure of my engagement with them,” he said. “So I say ‘no season tickets. You pay three times more.’”
He was unrepentant about the unrest it caused. “Sometimes if we don’t win, if the team play bad, I give them back their money,” he said. “I’m a player, a man who likes to play. We have fun.”
It won’t take him long to discover that ticket prices in Leeds are no laughing matter.

Cellino’s top-flight target is realistic, believes McDermott

Yorkshire Post 26/4/14
“INCREDIBLE” might not be how most Leeds United supporters would choose to describe this season.
Instead, all manner of words could be used – most of which are not suitable for a family newspaper such as The Yorkshire Post.
Brian McDermott, however, has labelled the current campaign as just that ahead of today’s final away game of 2013-14.
“It has been an incredible season if you think about everything that’s gone on,” said the Elland Road chief, who expects to sit down and discuss his future next week with new owner Massimo Cellino.
“If you look to where we were up to the away game at Blackpool (on Boxing Day), I thought, ‘We will definitely get in the top six with this group’.
“But then we went to Forest (on December 29), got beat late on and we went on a run of games where – and I have never seen anything like it – our form dipped alarmingly.
“It got to the point where you were starting to look the other way. I can say that now because we have got enough points to be safe. It was an alarming dip. From where we were to where we are now.
“But you have to learn from that and you have to take positives from the season.
“Ross McCormack is the top scorer in the Championship, while Matt Smith has scored goals in his first season in the Championship. There are positives we can take. We have to.”
Since finally completing his takeover earlier this month, Cellino has vowed to lead United into the Premier League within two years. It is an ambition that McDermott insists is realistic.
The Leeds chief added: “There is an awful lot to be done in the summer, an awful lot to be done next season but that is a realistic target.”

Phil Hay: It’s time to stick or twist with Leeds United boss McDermott

Yorkshire Evening Post 26/4/14
Leeds United’s owner Massimo Cellino needs to decide whether to stand by Brian McDermott or put him out of his misery and bring his own man in.
You know that Brian McDermott is manager of Leeds United because he’s where the manager should be: sat behind a microphone or stood in front of the dug-out. The proof that he still has a job is the absence of any evidence to the contrary.
Massimo Cellino has left him be, in a way which should prepare McDermott for the worst. Leeds have been Italian-owned for three weeks and Italian-funded for far longer than that, but for all of Cellino’s spectacular rhetoric, he says most about his manager by saying nothing.
A colleague of McDermott’s, sacked by a different club a few years ago, said he knew his time was up when his chairman stopped making any effort to reassure him behind closed doors. In public, the party line was rigid and supportive but privately the man who mattered kept his distance.
McDermott will relate to that. He has received what can only be described as deflated votes of confidence from Cellino – “He is our employee, we are paying him. Why should I get rid?” – but United’s owner is not breaking his back to seek McDermott out and lay his cards on the table. They arranged to meet this week but didn’t. They are due to meet next week and must. McDermott has dangled for long enough. Either cut the string or pull him up. There is nothing guarding the 53-year-old now, other than a contract which would cost Cellino more than £1m to pay up. There is little protection for anyone at Elland Road. Employees there expect a bloodbath over the next few weeks, the combined effect of a new broom and an abomination of a season, but in footballing terms the revolution starts with the manager. And it starts once Cellino decides if McDermott has any part in it.
The decision is more benign than it was when Cellino tried and failed to sack McDermott in January. This time he needn’t worry about supporters chasing his taxi in and out of Elland Road, or about his safety at the following home game. McDermott’s personal guard is diminished and less reactive than it was. His dismissal would cause disappointment with some but the mood won’t stretch to outrage. Drastic change is unavoidable at Leeds; people have come to accept that, whatever form it takes.
It could be argued that the constant frailty of McDermott’s position has radicalised some who previously resisted the idea of replacing him but really, he is a victim of performance. Lose games like Leeds do and play as Leeds play and the masses start to question what it is about a manager they like. McDermott has a decent streak about him, a decent man who exposes himself to a prying media with as much openess as you could ask for in the circumstances, but clubs don’t pay for decency. They pay for effective management and they pay for results. And these days, they deal ruthlessly with deficiency.
When Soccernomics, the unique analysis of football and finance published in 2009, compared the performance of different coaches in England between 1974 and 2010 it did so with those who had worked in management for five seasons or more on the basis that in a shorter period “luck plays a big role.”
True or not, the attitude in English boardrooms has moved in the opposite direction; so far, in fact, that time, stability and continuity are managerial cliches. Virtually no coach experiences those things. They barely exist. All you find are differing levels of chaos in which managers survive for as long as they can. Even Manchester United have joined the party.
In parts of his dicey tenure at Old Trafford, David Moyes was let down by his club. But what killed him was the repetitive trend of players and tactics doing the same. McDermott has suffered that way since Christmas, which is why Cellino doubts his ability. It is also a reason for the Italian to gut United’s squad, safe in knowledge that players who failed Neil Warnock and are now failing McDermott cannot blame inaqeduate management. For them the truth lies closer to home, and their futures elsewhere.
Some close to McDermott feel he was weakened by Cellino’s attempt to sack him in January. McDermott himself has questioned whether his squad began to think that they were working under a soon-to-be-gone coach. The impact on McDermott’s authority is difficult to gauge but the statement issued by Paddy Kenny’s agents on Thursday raised a red flag, questioning the goalkeeper’s absence at a time when he is supposedly fit.
It turns out that Kenny was taken ill this week but it is also true that he has been absent from United’s squad on days when he was available.
That said, statements like Thursday’s rarely drip from an on-the-same-page club.
More and more, the set-up at Leeds makes your ears prick. On Thursday, McDermott said that at Christmas he was confident of finishing inside the play-offs. But revisit his quotes after United’s defeat to Nottingham Forest on December 29 and he describes a top-six place as a “tall order” without serious investment in players. It makes you question how much confidence was ever there. Serious investment hasn’t occurred under him but most of his signings he made are struggling to blossom. If that comes down to luck then it is extremely bad luck.
Back in January, Cellino had a plan. On deadline day he wanted to sign as many as seven foreign players. Given that he intended to replace McDermott at the same time, it goes without saying that those transfers were arranged without his manager’s approval. Cellino is said to have changed tack since then. He is thought to favour a coach with experience of the English leagues and a transfer policy to match. But if January was typical of his ownership, what Leeds need is a manager who can adhere to and handle his strict control. He can delay no longer in announcing whether McDermott is that man.

Leeds United: Cellino looks set to hand Carbone Academy role

Yorkshire Evening Post 25/4/14
by Phil Hay
Massimo Cellino is considering handing control of Leeds United’s academy to ex-Bradford City striker Benito Carbone in what would be a dramatic start to Cellino’s reign as owner.
Carbone flew into England from Italy this week and made an initial visit to Thorp Arch on Thursday before returning to United’s training ground today.
The 42-year-old’s sudden appearance fuelled speculation that he was in line to replace Brian McDermott as manager of Leeds but the YEP understands that Cellino is on the verge of naming Carbone as the club’s new head of youth development.
United’s junior and development squads are currently run by Neil Redfearn, their ex-academy manager who moved into a dual role of development squad coach and first-team coach following McDermott’s arrival last April.
Redfearn assumed control of the youth teams at Leeds from Chris Sulley in 2012 and the ex-Barnsley midfielder has been widely credited for the recent success of the academy and the rise of current first-team players Sam Byram and Alex Mowatt.
The club’s Under-18s won their league title last season but Cellino looks set to overhaul the junior coaching structure at Thorp Arch as part of his wider plans for Leeds.
The Italian, who officially bought 75 per cent of United from Gulf Finance House on April 7, is not thought to have finalised Carbone’s appointment but the retired forward is a leading candidate for an academy role and could take charge in the next fortnight.
Carbone is best known in England for his spell at Sheffield Wednesday and his expensive transfer to Bradford City in 2000, a deal which contributed to Bradford’s subsequent financial implosion.
He spent time on loan at Derby County and Middlesbrough before seeing out his playing career in Italy. Lower league coaching jobs followed his retirement in 2010, the most recent with Italian side Saint Christophe Valle D’Aosta.
It is not clear what Carbone’s employment at Thorp Arch would mean for Redfearn, though Cellino is thought to hold a high opinion of the 48-year-old.
McDermott’s future, meanwhile, remains unclear as he and Leeds prepare to complete the final two games of the Championship season.
United play Birmingham City at St Andrews tomorrow ahead of a planned talks between Cellino and McDermott next week.
A meeting between the pair, scheduled for this week, did not happen.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Leeds United: McDermott at a loss to explain decline

YEP 25/4/14
Brian McDermott has spoken of his bewilderment at Leeds United’s “alarming dip” this season, admitting he believed the club were headed for a top-six finish at Christmas.
As he prepared for United’s final away game at Birmingham City tomorrow, McDermott lamented his side’s chronic loss of form and said he had “never seen anything like” their limp descent from fifth place in the Championship.
Leeds were well placed to reach the play-offs at the turn of the year and sat eight points short of the Championship’s second automatic promotion spot on Christmas Day after two defeats from 10 games.
But McDermott’s team will finish the season more than 40 points back from title-winners Leicester City and far adrift of the top six after a four-month spell in which the club suffered from a protracted change of ownership, a severe downturn in results and their worst league defeat for 55 years – a 6-0 loss at Sheffield Wednesday.
The dramatic collapse has threatened McDermott’s position as manager and his future could become clearer in the next seven days with the 53-year-old and club owner Massimo Cellino expected speak face-to-face before their season ends at Derby County next Saturday.
Leeds play Birmingham City first, travelling to St Andrews tomorrow to meet a team on the brink of relegation, and McDermott cut a frustrated figure as he reflected on the events of a term which showed initial promise but leaves him fighting for his job.
“It’s been an incredible season if you think about everything that’s gone on,” he said.
“Look at where we were up to the Blackpool game away (on Boxing Day).
“We drew 1-1 there and I thought ‘yeah, we’ll definitely get into the top six with this group.’
“But then we went to Nottingham Forest, got beat late on and went on a bad run of games.
“For whatever reason, our form dipped alarmingly to the point where you’re starting to look the other way.
“I can only say that now because we’ve got enough points to be safe.
“It was an alarming dip.
“To be absolutely honest, I’ve never seen anything like it – from where we were to where we are now.
“But you have to learn from that and you have to take positives from the season.”
McDermott pointed to striker Ross McCormack’s 29-goal haul and Matt Smith’s return of 11 in his first season in the Championship as encouraging aspects of a disappointing term at Elland Road.
Asked why United’s form had suffered such a severe downturn – characterised by a run of eight defeats from nine games in March and April – McDermott said: “You can talk about the uncertainty of the ownership as much as you like and people will just say that’s just an excuse.
“Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t but it didn’t help at certain points.
“We also lost confidence at times but the only important thing now is to talk about the future and stability and get a squad together who you can compete.”

Leeds United: Mac and Cellino set to meet after Birmingham fixture

Yorkshire Evening Post 25/4/14
by Phil Hay
Talks between Massimo Cellino and Brian McDermott about the future of Leeds United’s players and McDermott’s own position as manager have been delayed until after the club’s game against Birmingham City.
Cellino and McDermott were scheduled to speak this week about the Italian’s plans for his first summer as owner of Leeds but they are now expected to meet before United’s final match of the Championshipseason, at home to Derby County next Saturday.
Cellino, who completed his 75 per cent buy-out of Leeds almost a month ago, is back in England after spending time at his home in Miami, and staff at Elland Road are awaiting the first telling signs of change with a difficult season almost complete.
Nine of United’s senior players are out of contract in July and young left-back Charlie Taylor, who is currently on loan at League Two side Fleetwood Town, is also near the end of his deal.
McDermott said he was “certain” about which squad members should be released and which of those with longer contracts he would try to move on, but he is yet to speak to individual players directly and is still waiting for clarification from Cellino about his own job.
The 53-year-old is 12 months into a three-year contract at Elland Road but Leeds have struggled during the second half of this term, and a prolonged patch of poor results could tempt Cellino into a change ahead of his first full season in charge.
Sacking McDermott would cost United more than £1m and Cellino, who attempted to remove the ex-Reading boss from his post before his takeover was complete in January, has taken time to consider his options since sealing his buy-out of Gulf Finance House on April 7.
McDermott, however, expects his future to become clear soon and is likely to discover Cellino’s intentions when they meet in person next week. Asked if discussions with Cellino had taken place, McDermott said: “Not yet. We’re just concentrating on this game (at Birmingham).
“We’ll concentrate on everything else afterwards.”
He admitted that he was still unsure of remaining as manager, saying: “That decision is going to be up to Massimo. All I’m doing is concentrating on this game and nothing else. Nothing else can detract from that.
“It’s difficult and obviously (your future) does cross your mind. But that’s not in my hands really, that’s for someone else. It’ll happen sooner rather than later I’m sure.
“There’s a massive amount of work to be done here, full stop. We’ve got to get going.”
Cellino was quoted in a recent interview as saying he would consider himself a failure if he was unable to guide Leeds into the Premier League by the end of the 2015-16 season.
“I think that’s realistic,” McDermott said.
“There’s an awful lot to be done in the summer and an awful lot to be done next season but that’s realistic.”
Despite the doubt surrounding him, McDermott hopes to finalise some of United’s pre-season programme before their final-day clash with Derby amid suggestions that Leeds will spend parts of the summer in Sardinia, the home of Cellino’s Italian club Cagliari.
“We know what pre-season will look like, the schedule,” McDermott said. “What we don’t know is where we’re going to go, and we need to arrange games. That’s got to be done and it’ll probably be done next week.”

Leeds United: Question marks raised over Kenny’s first team absence

YEP 24/4/14
by Phil Hay
Paddy Kenny’s agents have placed a question mark over his continuing absence from Leeds United’s matchday squads by claiming the goalkeeper is fit for selection and intent on seeing out the last year of his contract at Elland Road.
A statement issued on Kenny’s behalf by First E11even SportManagement said he was “fully recovered” from the ankle injury which cost him a place in United’s line-up and had been “training hard over the last few weeks” in an attempt to force his way back into contention.
Kenny has not played for two months after succumbing to an injury he originally suffered around Christmas and subsequently carried through January and most of February in the absence of experienced cover at Leeds United.
McDermott eventually withdrew him after signing Jack Butland on loan from Stoke City before their goalless draw at Middlesbrough on February 22, and theEngland international has started every game since. Butland is expected to start at Birmingham City on Saturday and again at home to Derby County next weekend, United’s last game of the season and the final match of his loan from Stoke.
Kenny was always likely to face a fight to oust Butland from Brian McDermott’s side once he recovered from injury but the 35-year-old has been conspicuous by his recent absence from the bench, omitted in favour of Alex Cairns despite appearing to be available.
Cairns has been United’s second choice throughout this season but McDermott chose to ask Kenny to play through an ankle injury in the weeks after Christmas, rather than gamble on his inexperienced academy graduate.
Kenny is rumoured to be considering his future with the summer transfer window about to open but the firm representing him moved to clarify his position, saying Kenny wanted to stay at Leeds for the final 12 months of his three-year contract.
A statement from First E11even Sports Management said: “As Paddy’s management company, we thought it timely to issue an update on our client in response to a number of enquiries we have received from the media and Leeds United supporters.
“Having fully recovered from an injury that he played with for several games until cover came in, Paddy has been training hard over the last few weeks to ensure he’s doing all he can to reclaim his position as first-choice goalkeeper at Leeds.
“Paddy has really enjoyed his time at the club, especially the relationship with the supporters. Having 75 first-team appearances and with another year left on his contract, he’s hoping he’ll have the chance to add to that total in the future.”
Kenny is likely to be the only under-contract keeper left at Leeds when the Championship season ends.
Cairns and Jamie Ashdown - a player whose second year with United has been wrecked by injury - are expected to move on after their contracts expire on June 30, and Butland is due to return to Stoke City at the end of his loan.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s game at Birmingham, McDermott said the possibility of a fresh approach for Butland was still to be considered.
“Jack will go back to Stoke and we’ll assess everything in the summer,” he said.
“The owner (Massimo Cellino) prefers - and I prefer - to get permanent signings rather than loan players. You can get a loan player but with a view to signing them at the end of that deal. That’s the ideal scenario.”
Kenny was ever-present for Leeds until he hurt his ankle in the opening seconds of a 2-1 defeat at Nottingham Forest on December 29.
He coped with the injury for a further eight games until Leeds moved to sign Butland after a 1-0 defeat at Brighton.
McDermott admitted that Kenny was fit and available prior to United’s recent Yorkshire derby against Doncaster Rovers at Elland Road, though the ex-Sheffield United keeper suffered a minor knee problem the following week.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

After Forest rout, McDermott readies summer cull at Leeds

Yorkshire Post 22/4/14
BRIAN McDermott admitted last night that a complete overhaul was needed at Leeds United after a trademark defeat to Nottingham Forest.
United’s manager will tell new club owner Massimo Cellino that major changes to his squad are required when the two men meet to discuss their plans for the summer later this week.
Cellino was not at Elland Road yesterday and missed a sorry 2-0 loss which United brought on themselves by conceding twice in the opening 16 minutes.
Two Matt Derbyshire goals in the early stages of the game condemned Leeds to yet another league defeat and prompted McDermott to concede that deep cuts were necessary before the start of next season.
Cellino, who secured control of United from Gulf Finance House earlier this month, is yet to indicate whether McDermott will definitely continue as manager next term but the Leeds boss has already drawn up a list of transfer targets and will present his strategy to Cellino in the coming days.
McDermott said repeated performances as weak and ineffective as yesterday’s meant the loss to Forest was “no accident”, saying: “That sums up the last three months – not the season because we started the season well and we were fifth at Christmas, but that sums up the last three months.
“We gave a couple of goals away early on and were chasing the game. We had a lot of possession but didn’t hurt them and that needs to be addressed in the summer.
“We need to plan for players, the squad and how we’re going to do things. We need to definitely look at players coming in and we’ve got changes to make to the squad, there’s no doubt about that. We need to address things.
“We’ve got a list of targets and we need to do deals.”
McDermott has two years remaining on his contract at Elland Road but no fewer than nine of his players are free agents in July and most look likely to leave after a grim campaign.
United have suffered 21 league defeats and the the club have two matches left, away at Birmingham City on Saturday and at home to Derby County seven days later.
Asked why United were so prone to caving in, McDermott said: “It keeps happening and because it keeps happening, it isn’t right.
“It’s happened too many times and if it keeps happening, you’ve got to change things.”

Leeds United 0 Nottingham Forest 2: Derbyshire’s double does for sorry Whites

Yorkshire Evening Post 22/4/14
by Phil Hay
Nottingham Forest have made an unholy mess of their season but now, at the last, they might salvage something from it.
For Leeds United there is nothing left to gain and little left to lose. League position, reputation and credibility went out with the bathwater weeks ago.
The cost of defeats is found in the manner of them and Leeds have been unrivalled in collapsing inwardly since Christmas.
Forest’s form has been equally dull but their results are not the same litany of hammerings.
Most Championship teams have the means of losing games without surrendering their dignity as well. At Elland Road, surrender is becoming second-nature.
Leeds were beaten at Forest four days after Christmas by a 20-yard bullet from Matt Derbyshire, a top-draw goal which gave his club the honour from a game they dominated throughout.
Derbyshire settled yesterday’s contest at Elland Road again but with none of the same brilliance, converting a gift of a chance after one minute and 32 seconds and scoring again 15 minutes later.
Gary Brazil, Forest’s caretaker, must have dreamt of that scenario on Sunday night.
The final weeks of the season bring their own, stressful pressure but Leeds were the team under a heavy weight yesterday, despite the fact that they will finish clear of the Championship’s relegation places and can climb no higher than 15th in their last two games.
The club’s new owner, Massimo Cellino, was not present at the game but he will travel to England from Miami this week with questions to ask not only of United’s week-to-week performances but of the club’s brittle psyche and fundamental failings.
Victories over Barnsley and Blackpool were, with hindsight, recorded against two of the poorest sides Leeds have encountered since August, and Forest were alive to United’s weak spots from the earliest seconds.
Derbyshire opened the scoring with their first attack and tucked away their second, leaving the visitors with 70-odd minutes to play out safely.
They put their backs to the wall in the second half and turned the contest into a defensive training exercise.
When these teams played at the City Ground in December, their respective coaches spent post-match talking about the play-offs – Billy Davies with more optimism than McDermott, admittedly.
The similarity now is the unmitigated shambles both clubs have become.
That Forest are still in contention for the top six after two wins from 15 games says so much about the way the Championship works.
Forest sacked Davies last month and McDermott’s survival at Leeds has been in spite of circumstances and results.
The first taste of foreign ownership was sour in Nottingham and Leeds, and this summer will be a time for lengthy reflection at both clubs.
In appointing Stuart Pearce as boss from July 1, Forest have at least given an indication of how their shortcomings will be addressed.
They are one of several Championship sides at risk of breaching the Football League’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules, but the legacy of their expenditure is a useful squad for Pearce to inherit.
The changes at Elland Road should be more vast and there was no experimentation from McDermott yesterday, no risk-free blooding of youngsters. Barring Ross McCormack, this season has slowly destroyed so many of his players.
Marius Zaliukas and Matt Smith dropped out of United’s line-up and Rudy Austin and Noel Hunt stepped in, taking Leeds back to their starting point this season the diamond midfield.
It let McDermott down back then and was cracked in no time yesterday, as Jamie Mackie threaded the ball through to Derbyshire in the second minute, inviting the striker to advance on goalkeeper Jack Butland and slot the ball past him.
It was apparent then that United were at risk of another hiding, as much because of their own ineptitude as Forest’s ability.
In the 16th minute, Scott Wootton lost possession outside his own box and Derbyshire made light work of rounding Butland neatly and guiding a shot into the net.
Game over, there and then.
The strategy of Brazil’s players never wavered and every one of their counter-attacks had United trailing backwards.
Derbyshire headed over from a yard out on the half-hour, flagged for offside but lost completely by McDermott’s defence as Leeds chased shadows.
When United were caught short of numbers again, Derbyshire and Jamie Paterson did them a favour by tackling and injuring each other.
The only convincing riposte was a free-kick from McCormack on 40 minutes, awarded on the edge of the box for handball against Mackie.
McCormack’s set-piece beat Dorus De Vries but whipped past the post, a fraction away from the striker’s 30th goal of the season. It is all Leeds have to aim for now, collectively and individually.
Their tactics yesterday seemed to stop with flighted, hopeful balls from the halfway-line, the sort of ploy used by Barnsley to ill-effect at Oakwell on Saturday.
Minus the tall presence of Matt Smith, the knockdowns were few and uninviting.
Forest mopped up everything and turned the crowd on McDermott’s players before half-time.
Yet again, the changes at the interval could have run to 11 but McDermott left his starting side to fight the scoreline.
A spell of pressure came as Forest took time to warm themselves up, and De Vries was lucky to see the ball roll into his hands after Luke Murphy’s shot caught the heels of Hunt.
The goalkeeper’s two-handed save from McCormack’s free-kick on 55 minutes was a sharp reaction, denying the only player who threatened to conjure something from nothing.
McDermott tried to find another by replacing Hunt with Smith on the hour, to the sound of more jeers at Hunt’s expense. McCormack whipped a difficult volley into the crowd and Wootton and Smith fared no better with similar opportunities as Forest dug in.
An effort from Tonge, also on the volley, flashed wide and a cross from substitute Danny Pugh clipped the crossbar.
They were desperate hits; pot-shots in the twilight of a season which really needs to end.
United have had their fill of it.

We Need Someone with Pace, Someone to Create – Leeds Manager Brian McDermott

Inside Futbol 21/4/14
Leeds United require someone who can run at and beat players, manager Brian McDermott has admitted, following the club's 2-0 home defeat against Nottingham Forest today.
The defeat left Leeds sitting 16th in the Championship table and thoughts have quickly turned to next season, with McDermott explaining he has a meeting scheduled this week to discuss potential transfer targets.
And the former Reading boss is clear about the type of player he feels Leeds are lacking at present.
"No, [we haven't got anyone who can go by people]. I think that's something we need to address in the summer time", McDermott explained to LUTV.
"We need some pace in the team", he continued.
"When they were 2-0 up they just sat back in there.
"We need someone who can create something, make something happen and use their pace and I don't think we had that in the team today."
However, McDermott was in no mood to blast his players for the shift they put in against Forest at Elland Road.
"We couldn't criticise for effort and endeavour", he concluded.

Leeds 0-2 Nottingham Forest: Derbyshire double keeps Brazil's side in play-off hunt

Mail 21/4/14
Matt Derbyshire's two-goal salvo kept Nottingham Forest's Sky Bet Championship play-off hopes alive as Leeds' mini-revival spluttered to a halt.
Derbyshire has only started six games this season but his Saturday goal against Birmingham ended Forest's 13-match winless run and the former Blackburn striker's rich vein of form continued at a subdued Elland Road.
With a visit to Bournemouth and a home task against Brighton to come, Forest are just one point outside the top six after winning 2-0 in West Yorkshire.
They made a dream start with two goals from Derbyshire in the first 16 minutes.
The game was just one minute and 32 seconds old when Scotland international Jamie Mackie threaded the ball through the centre of the Leeds defence to Derbyshire, who took it forward before picking his spot.
Forest doubled their lead when Derbyshire took advantage of a slip-up by Leeds defender Scott Wootton by clipping an angled shot past Jack Butland from 12 yards.
It was a painful wake-up call for Leeds who had won their last two matches, albeit against strugglers Blackpool and Barnsley.
Derbyshire, who scored Forest's winner against Leeds in December, escaped his marker again before heading just over the bar and, with Forest very much on top, Butland had his hands stung by Stephen McLaughlin's speculative shot from 30 yards.
There was anxiety for Forest when Derbyshire and Jamie Paterson needed lengthy treatment after a collision but they recovered sufficiently to carry on.
Five minutes before the interval Leeds' top scorer Ross McCormack was inches away from netting his 30th goal of the season in all competitions.
Mackie handled just outside the penalty box and McCormack's rasping free-kick zipped fractionally outside the near post.
Leeds' defence remained vulnerable and Butland had to move smartly to his left to hold Osborn's low drive from distance.
Leeds needed to summon a massive improvement in the second half and they began with more purpose.
Rodolph Austin had a shot blocked in the goalmouth, Luke Murphy's deflected effort made keeper Dorus De Vries change direction to save and the keeper then did well to claw McCormack's bending free-kick round a post.
Matt Smith's arrival from the bench in place of Noel Hunt drew approval from the home crowd on the hour mark and Leeds later brought on Danny Pugh and young midfielder Alex Mowatt in the hope of turning the game round.
Leeds enjoyed more possession in the second half but Forest's defence proved hard to break down, with Leeds lacking genuine quality which can only be rectified by summer recruitment.
Forest replaced injured keeper De Vries with Bulgarian Dimitar Evtimov 10 minutes from the end and he made a smart save from Smith's stoppage-time header.

Monday, April 21, 2014

McCormack will shun Premiership offers to stay at Leeds

Yorkshire Post 21/4/14
ROSS McCormack moved to the brink of 30 goals for the season with a classy winner at Barnsley and then played down talk of a summer transfer to the Premier League by saying he would extend his deal with Leeds United if the club put an offer in front of him.
The Scotland international continued his exceptional campaign with a 29th goal at Oakwell on Saturday, earning Leeds a 1-0 victory and taking himself to the verge of a rare landmark.
McCormack stands to become only the second Leeds player in 22 years to hit 30 goals in a single season and he is two strikes away from reaching that figure in league games alone – a feat last achieved by John Charles in the 1950s. The 27-year-old’s form has bucked the trend of a poor term for United and increased the prospect of top-flight sides tabling bids for him when the FIFA transfer window opens next month.
McCormack signed a new four-year contract at Elland Road last August following a concerted attempt by Middlesbrough to sign him and he was the subject of approaches from West Ham United and Cardiff City in January.
But he indicated that he was willing to remain with United in the Championship, saying: “I’ve got a couple of years left on my contract and whether the new owner (Massimo Cellino) wants me to extend that or whatever, that’s up to him. If he puts a contract in front of me to sign, I’ll be part of this new regime and hopefully take the club forward.”
Manager Brian McDermott conceded last week that close-season offers for McCormack were inevitable but he is hopeful the United captain will stay at Elland Road next season.
McDermott said: “We all want to be in the Premier League. Everyone does. Every player should want to play in the Premier League but we all want to do it with Leeds.”
A 16th-minute effort from McCormack was enough to settle an unremarkable derby. The result redeemed a series of poor defeats suffered by Leeds at Oakwell in recent seasons and McCormack said: “Personally I’ve been here a few times and we’ve rolled over. That’s not good enough for a club of this size. On this occasion we rolled our sleeves up.”

Barnsley 0 Leeds United 1: McCormack’s gem edges Tykes to brink

Yorkshire Evening Post 21/4/14
by Phil Hay
Leeds United are bigger than Ross McCormack and so is the summer in front of them but the club will be built from the ground up if the Scot decides to hang his hat elsewhere.
Players come and go from Elland Road but 30-goal strikers don’t pass through Leeds often.
United have had two in the past 40 years and that bare fact alone is all the warning Massimo Cellino needs about the risk of flogging McCormack before his first season as owner begins.
There are other forwards in circulation and McCormack’s price tag has an upper limit but instincts like his is rare and effective.
When Jermaine Beckford cut loose in 2010, Leeds won promotion. When Lee Chapman did likewise in 1992, they won the first division.
That McCormack’s strike rate – one short of 30 with three games to play – has done nothing more than fend off relegation is another way of telling Cellino that he has little else to cling to. McCormack is his asset, the clean patch on a blemished canvas.
The striker reached 29 goals for the season at Barnsley on Saturday and this evening’s game against Nottingham Forest gives him the chance of a 30th.
A brace would make McCormack the first Leeds player since John Charles to amass that total in league fixtures, a comparison which harks back to the days of black-and-white photographs and arguably the finest footballer ever to wear United’s badge.
“It’s good to be talked about in the same breath as someone like John Charles,” McCormack said after his winner at Oakwell. “I’m definitely looking to get two goals.
“It would be a nice personal end to the season after everything that’s gone on. It’s not been easy.”
A trying season would have been blacker without him; perhaps as dire as the Tykes’ is turning out to be.
The South Yorkshire club are as good as relegated after Saturday’s 1-0 loss and it is only because of McCormack’s finishing that United are in no danger of joining them in League One.
United have won two league games without the help of a goal from their leading scorer, two league games in a season of 43.
It could not be said that his form has been wasted when Leeds sit far beyond the Championship’s bottom three but as Beckford, Chapman and Charles showed, there is more to be made of a striker so prolific.
Cellino showed his appreciation of that when he stonewalled a bid for McCormack from Cardiff City late in the January transfer window.
“We are where we are and the bottom line is we’ve not been good enough,” McCormack said.
“At the end of the day, the league doesn’t lie and we are where we are because of performanceson the pitch – regardless of what went on with ownership and what went on in January with the takeover.
“We were fifth up to Christmas with a fighting chance and we should have added a few people to the squad and had a right go at the play-offs.
“It wasn’t to be and everyone in the dressing room regrets the season but the beauty of football is that you always get a chance to put it right.”
The club’s manager, Brian McDermott, is tempted to think that the turnaround is underway after back-to-back wins over Barnsley and Blackpool and two clean sheets for good measure.
The past 10 days have been a sharp relief for a club who were beset by their own disorganisation, tempered only by the realisation that the teams beaten by McDermott’s squad were as poor as the Championship has to offer.
Blackpool looked like a team on the way to League One last weekend and Barnsley are cut from the same cloth, seemingly doomed after McCormack’s 16th-minute goal – a wonderful slick strike – freed Leeds from the hell that Oakwell had become.
Viciously battered on their last three visits there, United found peace by quietly murdering a Barnsley team whose poise and direction deserted them.
If relegation shows in a side’s body language, Danny Wilson’s squad were down with 10 minutes to go.
“It was a poor game,” Wilson said later. “A typical derby minus goalmouth action.” His summary was fair. Barnsley extinguished their own threat with useless long balls towards Chris O’Grady and hoofed passes down the throats of three grateful centre-backs. The combination of Michael Brown, Michael Tonge and Luke Murphy smashed Barnsley’s midfield.
The pressure translated into a single goal and few chances but it gave Leeds a calm experience on a ground where they are used to being tortured.
“We haven’t won here since 1997 apparently and I’m glad no-one told me that before the game,” McDermott said.
“It was settled by a piece of real quality from Ross and after that, I thought we deserved the win. It was a tough day, very windy, and Barnsley needed to win that game but we wanted to win it too. That’s two clean sheets in a row now and I’m delighted.”
McCormack took his goal with a blink-of-the-eye finish, turning his marker on the edge of the box by flicking Matt Smith’s header over his shoulder and sweeping the ball past Luke Steele with his left foot.
In 90 minutes plus five of stoppage-time, the other moments which counted as chances could have been saved by any member of the crowd. Several of the more wayward shots required supporters to fish the ball from row Z. Butland plucked headers from O’Grady and Dale Jennings from the air during the second half but the protection of United’s goalkeeper was rigid and unusually disciplined.
He will wonder where that defence was during the worst of his loan at Elland Road. Wilson tried to shake the derby into life by introducing Paddy McCourt and Nick Proschwitz from the bench but both were passengers, and Barnsley’s well was as empty as Oakwell when full-time came.
McDermott spoke at length about McCormack afterwards, describing him as a “match-winner”.
“You get players who score three or four goals in a 5-1 win but he gets the goal that wins a game 1-0 or 2-1,” McDermott said. The striker has done it countless times for this season, a light in the gloom at Elland Road. The task for United now is to convince him that another year in Leeds is worth his while.

Leeds United: McCormack’s keen to stay at Elland Road

Yorkshire Evening Post 21/4/14
by Phil Hay
Ross McCormack moved to the brink of 30 goals for the season with a classy winner at Barnsley and then played down talk of a summer transfer to the Premier League by saying he would extend his deal with Leeds United if the club put an offer in front of him.
The Scotland international continued his exceptional campaign with a 29th goal at Oakwell on Saturday, earning Leeds a 1-0 victory and taking himself to the verge of a rare landmark.
McCormack stands to become only the second Leeds player in 22 years to hit 30 goals in a single season and he is two strikes away from reaching that figure in league games alone – a feat last achieved by John Charles in the 1950s. The 27-year-old’s form has bucked the trend of a poor term for United and increased the prospect of top-flight sides tabling bids for him when the FIFA transfer window opens next month.
McCormack signed a new four-year contract at Elland Road last August following a concerted attempt by Middlesbrough to sign him and he was the subject of approaches from West Ham United and Cardiff City in January.
But he indicated that he was willing to remain with United in the Championship, saying: “I’ve got a couple of years left on my contract and whether the new owner (Massimo Cellino) wants me to extend that or whatever, that’s up to him. If he puts a contract in front of me to sign, I’ll be part of this new regime and hopefully take the club forward.”
Manager Brian McDermott conceded last week that close-season offers for McCormack were inevitable but he is hopeful the United captain will stay at Elland Road next season.
McDermott said: “We all want to be in the Premier League. Everyone does. Every player should want to play in the Premier League but we all want to do it with Leeds.”
A 16th-minute effort from McCormack was enough to settle an unremarkable derby. The result redeemed a series of poor defeats suffered by Leeds at Oakwell in recent seasons and McCormack said: “Personally I’ve been here a few times and we’ve rolled over. That’s not good enough for a club of this size. On this occasion we rolled our sleeves up.”

Leeds United: Stability is reflected in results says McDermott

Yorkshire Evening Post 21/4/14
by Phil Hay
Brian McDermott welcomed the return of calm to Leeds United after his players claimed an overdue win at Barnsley and recorded back-to-back victories for the first time since his reinstatement as manager in February.
McDermott said United were settling back into the motions of a normal, organised club ahead of discussions with new owner Massimo Cellino about the future of the squad at Elland Road.
The Leeds boss will sit down with Cellino in the coming days to begin compiling a retained list and start the process of rebuilding a team whose disappointing form ruled them out of contention for the Championship play-offs several weeks ago.
United’s 1-0 win over Barnsley on Saturday, following on from a defeat of Blackpool seven days earlier, gave their points tally more respectability but the club lie 16th in the table with three games to play.
They host Nottingham Forest in a televised match at Elland Road this evening.
McDermott is preparing himself for a summer of substantial changes with Cellino in charge – a close-season in which his own job might be threatened – but he said the Italian’s 75 per cent takeover of Leeds had revived a depressed and unhappy club and helped to turn his team’s form for the better. The Italian’s multi-million buy-out of Gulf Finance House came after the collapse of a previous takeover bid and a failed attempt by the Football League to disqualify Cellino from taking charge of United.
The confusion and uncertainty led to a serious financial crisis last month in which a six-figure tax bill went unpaid and McDermott and his players were forced to defer wages.
“You can never say for sure whether it affected the results but I know there’s a different air around the place,” McDermott said.
“You can see that. There’s a different air around the training ground and the players have got a couple of results now. Call it a coincidence if you like bt we’ll see.
“I’ve been banging on about the need for stability and we’ve got that now because the ownership is done. It’s sorted out.
“There weren’t any stories coming out of Elland Road this week. The only story was playing the game at Barnsley. We can all look forward now.”
Ross McCormack’s 29th goal of the season ended United’s appalling sequence of results at Oakwell, among them a 5-2 defeat in 2011 and a 4-1 loss in 2012. Saturday’s victory – their first away to Barnsley since 1997 – left Danny Wilson’s squad on the brink of relegation.
Leeds last won two matches in succession at the start of February, beating Huddersfield Town at Elland Road before claiming a 2-1 victory at Yeovil Town seven days later. McDermott missed the first of those matches after Cellino tried to sack him on the final day of the January transfer window.
McDermott reclaimed his job 48 hours later but those events have hung over him ever since, begging the question of whether Cellino – with Leeds finally under his control – will seek to change manager in the summer.
Wins over Blackpool and Barnsley have strengthened McDermott’s position slightly but the Leeds boss said: “I never worry about my own future.
“I always do the best I can and I’ve done the best I can in the last three months – and the year I’ve been at Leeds.
“I might look back at these last three months and say actually, I did pretty well to dig in. I’ve certainly had to do that.”
United’s meeting with Forest tonight looked destined to be a dead rubber a week ago but results over the weekend combined with Forest’s victory against Birmingham City have kept them within touching distance of the play-offs.
McDermott is likely to be forced into at least one change after defender Marius Zaliukas limped out of Saturday’s win at Oakwell with a calf strain.

Barnsley 0 Leeds 1 match report: Woeful Barnsley left on the brink

Independent 19/4/14
McCormack meets meek resistance to settle derby and leaves Wilson clutching at straws TIM RICH
The last time Barnsley were relegated under Danny Wilson it was a downfall laced with heroism. When the team bus returned to Oakwell after a 1-0 defeat at Leicester in May 1998, it was to a throng of supporters who wanted to thank the players for a remarkable season in the Premier League.
Yesterday evening, after a feeble surrender to Leeds, Wilson thought he would have to win his final three games to survive. Barnsley’s relegation could all but be confirmed should they lose at Derby County, tomorrow. This time the reception will be rather more muted.
It is not exactly a surprise that Barnsley are heading down. In recent seasons the club have not so much flirted with relegation as been photographed in bed with it. The emotion as their supporters drifted away would have been the aching regret that they were going down so meekly.
This time last season, their then manager, David Flitcroft, had organised a ferocious rearguard action that culminated in an emphatic 2-0 victory over Hull. This was another Yorkshire derby but it felt very different. In his programme notes, Wilson, buoyed by a fine 2-1 win at Charlton on Tuesday night, had written of: “blood and thunder”. In fact, the only crackle of lightning came with the balletic turn that saw Ross McCormack lose his marker and shoot into the corner of Luke Steele’s net. It was McCormack’s 29th goal of the season and, given how much of this season has seen Leeds drifting without aim or direction, it is an astonishing achievement.
“He gets goals that win you matches 1-0 or 2-1,” said his manager, Brian McDermott, who remarked that McCormack was as good a goalscorer as he had ever worked with. If he notches one more, he will become the first Leeds player since John Giles to score 30 times in a season. It was also the one moment real quality in the afternoon.
When the referee, David Webb, threw Barnsley a thin, final lifeline by finding five minutes of stoppage time from somewhere, they responded by playing even worse against a team who had won once at Oakwell since 1986.
When the Leeds fans who jammed one end greeted each error with a chant of “That’s why you’re going down” it would have appeared hurtfully true to supporters who have now not seen Barnsley score at home in five successive matches. Those from Leeds chanted long and loud, celebrating the fact they would be staying in the Championship, which is a feeble achievement given the resources and expectations at Elland Road.
But they had secured their immediate future with a win over Blackpool and, now the club has been taken over by Massimo Cellino, they could revel in the discomfort of others. When Leeds were last involved in a Yorkshire derby, a 2-1 defeat by Doncaster at the end of March, matters appeared much bleaker. McDermott’s players had not been paid and Cellino’s takeover had been blocked for the very understandable reason that the Italian had been convicted of fraud.
Cellino, having been approved as a ‘fit and proper person’ by the Football League, chose to return home to Miami rather than travel to Barnsley. The players have been paid and so has the rent on Elland Road and the Thorp Arch training complex.
McDermott, who Cellino had tried to sack in January, prowled the touchline in a tracksuit rather than a suit after his daughter told him she did not want him “looking like a politician”. Lately, the Leeds manager had looked like a cabinet minister under cross examination from Jeremy Paxman.
More relaxed now, he remarked that the football correspondent of the Yorkshire Evening Post had rung him in the week because “for the first time in forever there were no stories coming out of Elland Road. We have won two games and that might not be a coincidence.”

Barnsley 0-1 Leeds: Ross McCormack strike leaves Tykes stranded in bottom three

Mail 19/4/14
By MIKE DAWES
Ross McCormack's first-half goal gave Leeds a 1-0 win at Barnsley to deliver a blow to the home side's Championship survival hopes.
Fresh from their 2-1 victory over fellow strugglers Charlton, Barnsley were looking for another three-point haul to boost hopes of pulling off a late-season rescue act.
But they never seriously threatened to drag themselves back into this Yorkshire derby after falling behind to McCormack's early goal.
It was a game played at a fast pace from the off with Leeds having the better of the opening exchanges.
Barnsley keeper Luke Steele was called into action to keep out a header from Matt Smith and Leeds' Luke Murphy was the next to threaten when he had a header blocked.
McCormack gave the visitors a 16th-minute lead after Smith's knock-down found him free inside the area and he fired low past Steele for his 29th goal of the season.
Leeds defended well during the opening 45 minutes, keeping the hosts largely at bay.
Barnsley's solitary effort on goal before the break was a looping header from Dale Jennings which was easily gathered by keeper Jack Butland.
Tomasz Cywka also volleyed wide after connecting with a cross from Stephen Dawson.
Early in the second half, Jennings' tame shot was easily saved by Butland.
Barnsley's Kelvin Etuhu then saw his shot blocked before putting the follow-up well wide.
McCormack tried a 20-yard effort which went over and his team-mate Noel Hunt, on as a substitute in place of Mariius Zaliukas, had a shot blocked.
As the visitors continued to press forward in search of a second goal, Smith put a header on target following Tom Lees' free-kick but it was straight at Steele.
Barnsley continued to be frustrated in their attempts to force an equaliser, with Jennings seeing his header saved by Butland.
Barnsley manager Danny Wilson, who had earlier sent on Paddy McCourt in place of Kelvin Etuhu, withdrew midfielder Dawson and replaced him with striker Nick Proschwitz.
After Liam Lawrence put a 25-yard effort over, Hunt threatened to find a way through at the other end following a defensive lapse before finding his route to goal blocked by Jean-Yves M'voto.
In the five minutes of stoppage time added by referee David Webb, it was Leeds who looked the more likely scorers and McCormack fired in a low drive which went wide of Steele's left-hand post.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Phil Hay - Inside Elland Road: Ross, Ken, Mass, Mac Hisham and David

Yorkshire Evening Post 19/4/14
Season 13-14: It is not the latest super group, but a collection of characters who have made this season jaw-dropping even by Leeds United’s standards.

Elland Road Lifebelt Award –Ross McCormack
How heavily have Leeds United leant on their Glaswegian striker this season? Well, here’s a stat. Between their victory at Bolton on September 14 and their defeat of Blackpool last weekend, the club did not win a single game in which McCormack failed to score. That’s seven months and 37 matches back-to-back. And they tell you it’s a team game.

Director of Football Award – Hisham Alrayes
For his letter to Brian McDermott in January, informing United’s manager that all line-ups, formations and tactics must be approved by Alrayes and United chairman Salah Nooruddin 24 hours before kick-off. You can picture the two of them sat in Manama, sipping coffee, rejecting the diamond midfield and arguing over Aidan White’s best position. Football men, those boys from Bahrain.

Welcome to Yorkshire Award – Jack Butland
An England goalkeeper who came to Leeds with one eye on the World Cup in Brazil. “The summer is obviously a massive target and I’d love to be able to go,” he said. His experience since then? Twenty four goals conceded in 12 games, including five against Bolton and four against Reading and Bournemouth. There will be other World Cups.

Sacking of the Year – Ken Bates
Like a bolt of lightening on a sunny day. At least with Brian McDermott’s ham-fisted ‘dismissal’, you could see it coming a mile off. But Bates – United’s ex-owner and chairman – was dispatched late one Friday evening in July with no more than a cursory online statement. He’d been president at Elland Road for just 26 days.

Lawsuit of the Year – Leeds United FC v Ken Bates
The inevitable result of Bates’ unceremonious overthrow. Leeds (or Gulf Finance House) allege among other things that Bates breached his contract by renewing a private jet contract, claimed expenses he wasn’t entitled to and took money from the club’s safe and shop. Bates denies all claims against him and is counter-suing for wrongful dismissal and compensation of up to £750,000. Coming to a courtroom near you soon,

Cuckoo’s Nest Award – Gianluca Festa
An ally of Massimo Cellino’s who tried to secure a seat on the bench for Leeds’ 1-1 draw with Ipswich on January 28. That invasion of McDermott’s personal space failed but three days later Festa was lined up to take charge of the first team as Massimo moved to replace McDermott with his own man. Riots ensued, Cellino backed down and Festa watched a 5-1 win over Huddersfield from the East Stand. He has barely been seen since.

Board Member of the Year –Salah Nooruddin
AKA Santa Claus. United’s chairman has been absent from Elland Road since Christmas but give him his due: he knows where to put his foot. His tweet after a 2-0 defeat to Millwall in September, criticising the result while taking a veiled dig at McDermott, was a cracker, and his premature text message to Cellino on January 31 – informing the Italian that the club was his – sparked the madness of transfer deadline day. The spiteful reaction to Nooruddin’s tweet on April 6, congratulating “Massimio” on his completed takeover, should tell him that his days here are numbered.

Best use of Twitter – Ryan Hall
It’s going some to outdo David Haigh’s 131,000 followers (twice the number who follow @LUFC) or Salem Patel’s smiley face but Hall’s decision in October to tell the world that he would sit around and take his money at Leeds reminded you of that old equation: footballers on Twitter equals water plus burning fat. Young Ryan has had further scrapes since then, but the less said about the recent twitterings of his ex-partner the better.

Document of the Year –Project Athena
A dossier complied on Gulf Finance House’s behalf which was designed to smear, criticise and discredit Cellino. It did precisely that. So GFH sold 75 per cent of Leeds to him anyway. “How much? Deal.”

Best Racial Stereotype – GFH
A few months ago the bank informed McDermott that he should seek signings from the top European leagues, “and Brazilians.” Pele, Romario, Kleberson, Roque Junior. They’re onto something here.

Best Transfer Target – Ashley Barnes
The story sounds apocryphal but we’re assured that it’s true. As McDermott fought to sign Barnes from Brighton in January and GFH resisted, a message came back from the bank pointing out that Barnes had a lower rating on Football Manager than Luke Varney and was therefore a dubious target. Why waste money on a scouting network when you can download software for £15? Barnes has cried himself to sleep ever since. He’ll have to slum it in the Premier League next season.

Media Breakthrough Act –White Leeds Radio
A recently-launched pirate station which initially sounded like a parody. Stretches of silence were interspersed with calls to random takeaways as listeners killed time by using the station’s message board to exchange abuse. Then, on March 29, the presenter landed Ken Bates live. The following night, he broadcast a spectacular ‘interview’ with Cellino who proceeded to wash his dirty linen in public. Neither man knew he was being recorded and the lawyers were not amused as the audio went global. But Cellino quickly relented. “Maybe it wasn’t so wrong,” he said. “That was me.” Every ******* ounce of him.

Hand of Friendship Award –Massimo Cellino
David Haigh, poised to become United CEO: “I spent a lot of time with Massimo and realised he was someone I could work with.” Cellino a month later, informing Haigh of a change of plan: “You’re fired. David has to go. I’ve had too much of him.” Haigh resigned last week and is seeking repayment of a £1.7m loan from the club.

Leeds United: A crazy year in quotes

Yorkshire Evening Post 19/4/14
Leeds United are nearing the end of an astonishing season of takeovers, turmoil and chaos. Here are those 12 months in quotes...
May 1 - David Haigh (straying into the grounds of grim, immoveable imagery): “There’s a picture of a fish tank in the offices downstairs. It symbolises what happened here a decade ago. It acts as a reminder, like taking a picture of yourself in Speedos and sticking it on the fridge door so you don’t eat that extra slice of cake.”
June 20 - Brian McDermott (starting to wonder if GFH’s promise about transfer funds was 100% watertight): “We did a lot of our work early and players are in place if we can get the deals done. It’s very simple – have we got the finances to do the deals? Can we do the deals? I need clarification.”
July 22 - Brian McDermott (on the overwhelming influx of three new players): “From our point of view, I’d suggest we’re in a situation where we probably need a player to go out the door before we can bring one in the door. That’s where we’re at.”
July 25 - Leeds United statement (boom): “Ken Bates has ceased to be president of Leeds United. Mr Bates will now no longer have any role within the football club.”
July 27 - Ken Bates (rolling over and accepting his fate): “We’ll see what happens. The real problem, I suspect, is that GFH hasn’t been doing well running the club and this is a diversion to take the real problems off the headlines. There’s no validity in this and a degree of viciousness, quite clearly. Someone’s got a screw loose.”
August 3 - Luke Murphy (after his dramatic, hand-assisted winner against Brighton): “We’re not on the list of leading odds in this division and, while I don’t think that’s fair, we’ll take it. But hopefully by the end of the season we’ll be there or thereabouts.”
September 30 - Brian McDermott (beginning to worry after a 2-0 loss at Millwall): “We didn’t turn up. I asked the question of the players – tell me what that was about. It’s a shock to my system. The players here are decent players but they’re not at their full level at this moment in time.”
October 3 - Salah Nooruddin (on a rare appearance in Leeds): “GFH and myself are standing here to support this club for as long as it takes to achieve our objectives. Financial objectives have to go alongside the passion and emotion of a club.”
October 19 - Ryan Hall (feet on the ground, head in the clouds, spelling book in the attic): “Look on the bright side if your not getting played take the L out and get payed.”
November 11 - Ross McCormack (after sticking four goals past Charlton): “You have to assess it. Would you rather go to a Premier League team who might be in a relegation fight or do you stay here and try to become one of the top scorers ever at this club? It was a no-brainer for me.”
November 24 - Leeds United statement (these are starting to get good, and shorter): “Leeds United can confirm that Ryan Hall has left the club by mutual consent.”
November 30 - Another Leeds United statement (announcing a takeover by Sport Capital which is done, bar the shouting that followed): “The consortium includes a number of high profile businessmen. It is anticipated that the investment will be in place for the January transfer window.”
December 20 - Brian McDermott (blissfully unaware of a crisis ahead): “We’re a work in progress and we’re evolving. We’ve got more to come, I know it. Week by week the team’s getting better. And I always enjoy the second half of the season.”
December 31 - Salem Patel (via Twitter): “Let’s make 2014 even better than 2013. Happy New Year all.” :)
January 13 - Hisham Alrayes (in a memo to Brian McDermott, days after United’s 6-0 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday): “For each game now onward, you will be required to submit a report on strategy to be undertaken, list of players and squad formation a min. of 24 hours prior to each game for Group CEO and chairman’s approval.”
January 23 - Massimo Cellino (acting only as an advisor to others and playing down a mooted takeover, which is done within days): “We are far away from buying. I am proud that they (an unnamed consortium) called me. We have spoken to Leeds. They are like a friend.”
January 30 - David Haigh (abandoning Sport Capital as Cellino moves in): “Unfortunately, some of the consortium’s backers ultimately didn’t feel able to deliver the financial backing we had hoped was agreed to take the club forward.”
January 31 - Brian McDermott (hours before he is ‘sacked’): “I swear to you, I don’t want any sympathy. I’m manager of Leeds United. How can you want sympathy? It’s a privilege, an absolute privilege. No-one has to have sympathy for me.”
January 31 - Salah Nooruddin (via text message to Massimo Cellino): “Congratulations. You are the new owner of Leeds.”
February 1 - Leeds United statement (issued midway through a game against Huddersfield, as boards do): “The club would like to make it clear that Brian McDermott remains our first team manager. He has not been dismissed from his post as has been suggested and we look forward to him continuing in his role.”
February 3 - Brian McDermott (reinstated and back in charge, having never been sacked): “Basically I’m responsible for all football matters at the club. Nobody will be invited to the dug-out, the dressing room or speak with the players unless the manager okays it. I’ve been given assurances that I answer to GFH and GFH only.”
February 4 - GFH Capital statement (or Gulf Finance House, whichever of them isn’t funding the club): “Under the ownership of GFH Capital, Leeds United has always met its financial obligations and it will continue to do so.”
February 7 - Salah Nooruddin (in Bahrain, naturally, and announcing the sale of Leeds to Cellino): “Those who go absent for a long time, come back with goodies. All the talk of a storm at Leeds, there’s no basis for it. But I do apologise to the supporters. We’ve put them through a difficult situation.”
March 13 - David Haigh (18 days before HMRC serves a winding-up petition on Leeds): “The club is not in any kind of precarious financial position. Either now or in the future. It’s not true and never has been.”
March 24 - Football League spokesman (sending Cellino hence): “Mr Cellino was recently found guilty beyond reasonable doubt by a court in Sardinia. Having fully considered the matter, the board agreed unanimously that the decision of the Italian Court does constitute a disqualifying condition under its Owners’ and Directors’ Test.”
March 25 - Brian McDermott (putting the cat among the financial pigeons) - “There’s all the talk of who’s going to be in as owner, talk of who’s going to be paid. I’m not going to make excuses but it does affect results.”
April 5 - Tim Kerr QC (shredding Cellino’s eviction notice): “Mr Cellino’s appeal accordingly succeeds. He is not, at present, subject to a disqualifying condition and is not disqualified from holding office or acting as a club director at a club.”
April 11 - David Haigh (quitting as managing director before Cellino sacks him): “I had to deal with and manage what can only be described as the crazy situation of very limited support from those who should have supported the club, whilst at the same time having little or no decision making ability.”
April 12 - Massimo Cellino (now officially United’s new owner): “I was raised as a manager, not as a bulls**t president who puts his tie on, eats some roast beef and f***s off home. I look after everything. In 2015-16, if we don’t go into the Premier League then I’ve failed. You can tell me I’ve failed.”
The story continues...