Sunday, July 27, 2014

Leeds United: Viviani agents set for last-ditch talks

Yorkshire Evening Post 27/7/14
by Phil Hay
Federico Viviani’s advisors will hold a last round of talks with Leeds United tomorrow in an attempt to salvage his move to Elland Road.
Representatives of the Roma midfielder plan to speak to the Championship club again in the next 24 hours, despite United owner Massimo Cellino calling off the transfer over the weekend.
Cellino told the YEP that Viviani was “out” after three days of discussions in Leeds last week failed to secure an agreement over his season-long loan from Serie A.
The 22-year-old flew home to Rome yesterday believing a transfer to Elland Road was still a possibility, with Nicola Salerno - Cellino’s right-hand man - promising to continue negotiations tomorrow.
Viviani’s camp indicated that the Italy Under-21 international wanted to use the weekend to make a final decision over his future with a number of Italian clubs interested in signing him, but Cellino said: “I’ve already decided. He is out.”
Giovanni Ferro, one of Viviani’s representatives, said he was “surprised” by Cellino’s comments, saying: “When we left, Mr Salerno told us that we could have more contact.”
Asked if he thought the deal was dead, Ferro said: “I’ll talk with director Salerno again (tomorrow).”
Viviani’s temporary switch from Roma appeared to be a formality in the early stages of this week after he travelled to England to tie up his move.
He watched Leeds lose 2-0 at Mansfield Town on Tuesday night and was expected to sign before yesterday’s friendly at Chesterfield but his camp opted to return to Italy with his contract unsigned on Friday night.
Viviani is a highly-rated prospect who has captained Roma’s youth team and was recently called up by Italy to a pre-World Cup training camp.
He has three years left on his contract at Roma having signed a five-year deal in 2012.
With his transfer in serious doubt, United’s search for new players is becoming increasingly urgent with the Championship season less than two weeks away.
The club claimed a late 2-2 draw at Chesterfield, with Rodolph Austin scoring twice from the penalty spot.
Speaking afterwards, head coach David Hockaday said: “We’re still looking to strengthen and it’s pretty obvious that we need to. The Championship’s a tough, uncompromising league.”

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Leeds United: Viviani deal off, says Cellino

Yorkshire Evening Post 26/7/14
by Phil Hay
Federico Viviani’s transfer to Leeds United appears to be dead after club owner Massimo Cellino said he was abandoning the midfielder’s loan move from Roma.
Viviani’s advisors expected talks with Leeds to resume on Monday after three days of discussions this week, but Cellino said: “I’ve already decided. He is out.”
United had arranged a deal to take Viviani on a season-long loan and he came to England from Italy on Tuesday to seal the transfer.
But negotiations in the past 72 hours failed to force an agreement and Viviani and his camp were due to fly back to Rome today.
His agent was quoted by Italian media as saying that Viviani would take the weekend to reach a final decision on his options with Serie A sides also interested in signing him but denied that the player would be speaking to any other clubs.
Cellino, who has been abroad all week, spoke with confidence about the proposed deal on Thursday, saying “I think we’ll be fine”, but his latest comments seem to have drawn a line under a protracted saga.
Viviani is an Italian Under-21 international and a defensive playmaker who has played six times for Roma. He has also captained the club’s youth team and was in line to become Leeds’ sixth summer signing.
United have already recruited four players from the Italian leagues - Marco Silvestri, Gaetano Berardi, Souleymane Doukara and Tommaso Bianchi - but an attempt to sign Giuseppe Bellusci from Catania fell through after Cellino refused to meet the centre-back’s wage demands.
In an interview with the YEP last week, Cellino said that another “five or six” signings would be made by Leeds in this transfer window and set the club’s budget for new players at £15m.

Leeds United: Viviani move in fresh doubt

Yorkshire Evening Post 25/7/14
by Phil Hay
Federico Viviani’s proposed transfer to Leeds United is mired in confusion tonight with the midfielder and his advisors preparing to fly back to Rome with no agreement reached.
Viviani’s camp have arranged to return to Italy from England tomorrow following a week of protracted and unsuccessful negotiations over the 22-year-old’s loan to Elland Road.
A season-long move from Serie A club Roma appeared to be a formality on Tuesday after Viviani travelled to Leeds and attended United’s pre-season friendly at Mansfield Town.
But discussions in the past 72 hours have failed to push the deal over the line, despite Roma’s apparent willingness to send the Italy Under-21 international to the Championship for the whole of the 2014-15 season.
Neither Viviani’s agent nor Leeds owner Massimo Cellino, who has been abroad all week, have commented on the reasons behind the impasse, though the midfielder’s advisors are known to have been concerned about the standard of United’s performance in their 2-0 loss to Mansfield.
Viviani - a defensive playmaker who has played six times for Roma and captained their youth team - was expected to become Leeds’ sixth summer signing and Cellino insisted he was confident of pushing the transfer through yesterday evening, saying: “I think we’ll be fine.”
But Viviani’s agent, Giovanni Ferro, cast fresh doubt over the move tonight, saying: “Tomorrow we go back to Rome and see (what happens) in the next few days.”
Reports from Italy say talks will begin again on Monday.
United have already signed four players from the Italian leagues - Marco Silvestri, Gaetano Berardi, Souleymane Doukara and Tommaso Bianchi - but an attempt to land Giuseppe Bellusci from Catania collapsed after Cellino refused to meet the centre-back’s wage demands.
In an interview with the YEP last week, Cellino said that another “five or six” signings would be made by Leeds in this transfer window and set the club’s budget for new players at £15m.

Leeds striker Walters may need surgery after Mansfield injury

Yorkshire Post 25/7/14
Lewis Walters’ prospects of a first-team breakthrough at Leeds United have been hampered by the news that the striker could require surgery on a knee injury.
Walters is to undergo examinations by a specialist consultant as Leeds wait to learn if the damaged cartilage he suffered in their friendly at Mansfield Town will force the club to send him for an operation.
The 19-year-old academy product limped out of Tuesday night’s 2-0 defeat at Field Mill after injuring himself off the ball.
Walters attempted to play on but was substituted minutes later when he collapsed in more pain inside Mansfield’s box after heading a half-chance wide.
Head coach David Hockaday predicted immediately after full-time that the forward would be missing for “a few weeks at least” and initial assessments of the injury have raised the possibility of Walters going under the knife.
“It’s quite serious, or potentially quite serious,” Hockaday said. “It’s damage to the cartilage and I think it’s a bad one, although at this stage we’re still not 100 per cent sure.
“How long that will take to heal we don’t know as yet. We need to let the swelling settle down. He’s had a scan on the injury and he’s going to see a consultant so we’ll take it from there.”
Hockaday has used Walters throughout pre-season, giving clear signs that the teenager would be involved with his first-team squad when the Championship term starts.
Walters, who turned professional and signed a two-year deal with Leeds last summer, began pushing his claim for a senior debut towards the end of last season and made the bench for United’s visit to Bournemouth in February.
Leeds were run ragged at Dean Court, losing 4-1, and Walters sat as an unused substitute throughout the game.
Hockaday, however, took him to Italy for United’s recent tour and said the striker was in line for a meaningful role this season. He is set to miss the club’s remaining friendlies, however, and the start of the 2014-15 campaign.
Hockaday said: “Lewis has been playing really well and he’s a big loss to us.
“He was beyond the fringes of the first team and he was right in there, playing really well, making intelligent runs and getting in behind defences.
“His work ethic was good, he’s a product of the academy and as I keep saying, I’m into giving young players a chance. It’s unfortunate for him.”
Noel Hunt was also injured during Tuesday’s match, over-extending his hamstring as he attempted an overhead kick in the opening minutes, and he will sit out of tomorrow’s trip to Chesterfield.
But Hockaday said: “He’s looking at about two weeks so it’s not so serious.
“He tried the overhead kick, didn’t connect and he over-extended his hamstring. He felt it again later on so we took him off as a precaution.”
Hockaday, who is still awaiting the outcome of protracted negotiations between Leeds and prospective signing Federico Viviani, reiterated his plan to use his preferred formation and strongest possible line-up at Chesterfield.
The 56-year-old denied that United’s first Championship opponents, Millwall, would gain any advantage from him showing his hand two weeks in advance, saying: “I can’t not play my team. We have to get used to playing with each other. Millwall are looking at us and we’re looking at them. There’s no secrets.
“I’ve named the starting XI. There were people happy, people relieved and other people who said ‘okay, how am I going to get in the team?’ The whole group were super.”

Leeds trying to push Viviani deal over the line

Vital Leeds 23/7/14
Leeds United have reportedly hit a snag in their attempts to sign Roma midfielder Federico Viviani.
Viviani and his representatives were present on Tuesday night as Leeds lost their pre-season game at Mansfield 2-0 and it is believed they were not impressed with what they saw.
Leeds sporting director Nicola Salerno met with Viviani and his representatives today as they looked to seal a season long loan with a view to a permanent deal and the two parties had different opinions on how the deal was progressing. Salerno told la bottega del calciofilo
A number of Italian clubs also wants the 22-year-old Italian under-21 international and Leeds are hoping they can tie up the deal when they meet again this evening.
It is believed that owner Massimo Cellino is now talking with the representatives despite being away.

Mansfield Town 2 Leeds United 0: Poor errors cost us - Hockaday

Yorkshire Evening Post 23/7/14
by Phil Hay
David Hockaday blamed individual errors and insisted Leeds United were showing definite signs of improvement, despite a 2-0 defeat to Mansfield Town last night.
Leeds suffered their first loss of pre-season after a brace from Mansfield’s Liam Hearn in the final 20 minutes took advantage of bad mistakes from Steve Morison and Zac Thompson. Hearn struck from the penalty spot in the 70th minute after Morison’s mis-hit back-pass forced goalkeeper Marco Silvestri to bring down one of Mansfield’s four trialists, and he scored again in the closing stages after Thompson lost his footing as he chased a through ball.
The loss to a League Two side came less than three weeks before the start of the new Championship season and United’s first league game away to Millwall. A number of new signings are likely to arrive at Elland Road before then, however, and midfielder Federico Viviani, who watched the match at Field Mill yesterday, is expected to complete his loan move from Roma later this afternoon. The 22-year-old travelled to Leeds from Italy yesterday to finalise a season-long transfer,
Hockaday, who promised to field his strongest starting line-up during this Saturday’s friendly at Chesterfield, said: “I was happy for a lot of the game.
“Mansfield set up to stop us playing and showed us respect but I couldn’t see them scoring unless we made mistakes – and we did make mistakes. We also got in some great positions and created chances that we should have been burying.
“The two goals were from individual errors and we can eradicate that. I’m not saying we ripped the seat off Mansfield but we were dominant, we were comfortable and we should have come away with 0-0 minimum.
“The thing that disappointed me is that we got into a lot of good positions but didn’t find that final pass or put the ball in the net. With better quality, that would have been a comfortable victory for us.
“I’m not saying results aren’t important because I’m a competitive man and I want to win games but there’s more to pre-season games than results. I’m seeing an improvement in our performances.”
Leeds lost striker Noel Hunt and Lewis Walters to injury in the early stages of last night’s match.
United are still to fully diagnose the damage but Hockaday said both players were likely to be missing “for a few weeks.”

Mansfield Town 2 Leeds United 0 - Whites handed an early wake-up call

Yorkshire Evening Post 22/7/14
When David Hockaday says that nothing in his planning for Leeds United’s season is “etched in stone”, he genuinely means it. The club’s head coach is working on shifting sands at Elland Road, waiting for the ground around him to settle.
Leeds are three games into their pre-season programme but still in the realms of fitness exercises and yet to fully break the back of the transfer market. Hockaday’s tactics and formations, like those used in a fairly painful friendly at Mansfield Town last night, are being used in the knowledge that five or six more players could join his squad before the football matters.
One of those, Federico Viviani, is in the final throes of agreeing a season-long loan from Roma and should officially join United later today. The 22-year-old travelled to Field Mill yesterday with his transfer pending, a spectator at a game which was never a spectacle, and the list of other potential signings continues to evolve too – Andy Delort, a goalscorer who displayed a prolific streak in the French second division last season, the latest to be credibly linked with Leeds.
Viviani is renowned as a playmaker with sharp technical ability and a dangerous free-kick. Delort is a through-and-through striker whose record with Tours in 2013-14 shows 24 goals from 36 matches. Both are the sort of footballers – on reputation at any rate – who Leeds could do with as the Championship term draws nearer.
Two late goals from Jason Pearce and Matt Smith saw off Guiseley over the weekend, on an afternoon when chances generally eluded Leeds, and a Mansfield team with four unnamed trialists in their squad provided more ambitious resistance on a warm and pleasant evening. Hockaday’s players are fit enough and drilled enough but by his own admission, creativity needs to show itself soon. That is Viviani’s strength, according to those who have watched him in Italy.
Last night’s friendly – settled in Mansfield’s favour by a second-half brace from Liam Hearn – was a role-reversal from Saturday’s win over Guiseley: the team used for the final 30 minutes at Nethermoor penned in for a full hour against Mansfield as the push towards full appearances continued. Chesterfield away this weekend is likely to see several players break 90 minutes and might also give the first indication of how Hockaday sees his current team at its best.
“Chesterfield and Swindon (next Tuesday) will give me a real good picture,” Hockaday said after United’s 2-0 victory over Guiseley. “I’m not saying Mansfield won’t but the nearer you get to the start of the season, the closer I’ll get to my starting line-up.”
Viviani’s first chance to find his feet should come at Chesterfield and Gaetano Berardi was given his debut last night, four days after signing on a two-year deal from Sampdoria.
The right-back attended Guiseley without playing and Hockaday named him on the bench at Mansfield but declined to use him again after his original plan was broken up by early injuries to Noel Hunt and Lewis Walters.
Hunt has found himself in the thick of recent interviews given by United owner Massimo Cellino, left in no doubt that he is part of the furniture at Elland Road despite a difficult first season here.
Cellino talked last week of Hunt blossoming again, about the possibility of him becoming prolific, but the striker was bothered by a tight hamstring from an early stage at Field Mill and conceded defeat in his attempt to run it off after 16 minutes. A similar strain was at the root of some of Hunt’s problems last season and Leeds will diagnose the severity of his latest injury today.
Nine minutes later, the situation got worse. Walters was injured off the ball, pulling up in a similar fashion to Hunt, and despite asking to stay on the pitch, he was promptly removed when he headed a half-chance wide and crumpled to the floor in a heap.
Those two unexpected losses brought Tommaso Bianchi and Dominic Poleon into a game which was already going nowhere.
The first half passed without a chance of note for 41 minutes, with Leeds trapped in a narrow system. Rudy Austin drove one free-kick into the crowd and Simon Heslop did likewise at the other end, clearing Stuart Taylor’s crossbar by the height of the stand behind it.
Taylor made only one save, from a curling cross which his defence left for him.
Fergus Bell eventually produced a better stab at goal with a 41st-minute shot which bounced a yard wide and Alex Fisher wasted an opportunity to steer the ball into an empty net a minute later when Taylor found himself exposed 12 yards in front of his line. Leeds rallied briefly after that and Bianchi should have scored when he met Sam Byram’s cut-back with a loose finish beyond a post.
The pace of the game rose noticeably after half-time and Mansfield’s trialist keeper denied Matt Smith with his legs after Luke Murphy slotted the ball through a hole in the home defence. Murphy began to see possession just as his shift ended but Hockaday stuck to his strategy and introduced 10 substitutes on the hour.
They fell behind 10 minutes later as another game which looked destined to finish goalless produced a breakthrough late on. Steve Morison sold Marco Silvestri short with a horrible back-pass which committed the keeper to a challenge on one of Mansfield’s trialists.
Silvestri took the players legs and Hearn stepped up to take the penalty, slotting it to the keeper’s right and winning the match at a stroke.
For good measure, Hearn scored again seven minutes from time as United’s defence made a mess of a simple through-ball and allowed him to stab the ball past a helpless Silvestri. An absent Cellino will digest the feedback with interest.
Mansfield: Trialist, Sutton, Dempster, Riley, Beevers, Murray, Heslop, Trialist, F Bell, Palmer, Fisher. Subs: Trialist, A Bell, Marsden, McGuire, Clements, Rhead, Hearn, Trialist.
Leeds United: S Taylor (Silvestri 60), Byram (Thompson 60), Pearce (Lees 60), Wootton (Killock 60), Warnock (C Taylor 60), White (Norris 60), Austin (Tonge 60), Murphy (Cook 60), Hunt (Bianchi 16), Walters (Poleon 25), Smith (Doukara). Sub (not used): Berardi.

Two-Year Contract at Leeds United for Nicola Salerno

Inside Futbol 22/7/14
Leeds United have handed Nicola Salerno a two-year contract at the club, formalising the role he has already been playing for the Elland Road outfit.
Salerno served as sporting director at Cagliari under current Leeds owner Massimo Cellino, but departed when Cellino sold the Serie A side earlier this summer.
He rejected an offer to head across Sardinia to Palermo and opted to join Cellino at Leeds, helping the president identify and sign players from the Italian market for his new club.
According to Italian outlet Tutto Mercato, Salerno has penned a two-year contract at Elland Road, with the formal announcement set to be made in the near future.
Salerno has played a key role in guiding Leeds' transfer policy this summer.
It is a policy which has already seen goalkeeper Marco Silvestri, right-back Gaetano Berardi, midfielder Tommaso Bianchi and striker Souleymane Doukaka land at the club.
They are set to be joined by Roma midfielder Federico Viviani.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Leeds battle with Chievo for former Italy international defender Alessandro Gamberini

Express 22/7/14
LEEDS are planning an ambitious swoop for Napoli defender Alessandro Gamberini but face competition from Serie A side Chievo Verona. By: Alex Harris
According to reports in Italy, Napoli boss Rafa Benitez is willing to sell Gamberini who has eight caps for his country.
The 32-year-old spent part of last season on loan at Genoa and news of Benitez's desire to sell has alerted United.
Gamberini has plenty of experience having made nearly 200 appearances for Serie A giants Fiorentina and he was part of Italy's Euro 2008 squad.
United have signed a number of Italian's and players from the country's football leagues since Massimo Cellino took charge such as keeper Marco Silvestri and midfielder Tommaso Bianchi,
The club are also set to seal a deal for Roma midfielder Federico Viviani.
Dave Hockaday's side are also interested in Serie B outfit Siena's Italian defender Fabrizio Grillo.
The 27-year-old left-back spent last season on loan at Varese and Siena's financial difficulties means that he is free to leave.
"I have offers from Italy, I'm glad because there are a couple of concrete ones in England too", the defender told the press in Italy.

Leeds United opens talks with Roma midfielder Viviani

Yorkshire Evening Post 21/7/14
by Phil Hay
Leeds United have opened talks with Federico Viviani after negotiating a deal to sign the midfielder from Roma.
United are attempting to agree personal terms with Viviani and make the 22-year-old their sixth signing of the summer.
Finalising the details of Viviani’s contract appears to be the only remaining obstacle to a transfer after Roma granted him permission to speak to United.
The former Italy Under-21 international has interest from other clubs in his homeland but is on the verge of a move to Elland Road this afternoon.
Sources close to the player indicated last week that any move to Leeds was likely to be on loan with a view to a permanent deal but Roma have been open to the option of selling Viviani.
Leeds took their tally of new signings to five on Friday by landing right-back Gaetano Berardi on a two-year deal from Sampdoria.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Big time beckons at Leeds for teenager Lewis Cook

Yorkshire Post 21/7/14
TEENAGER Lewis Cook marked himself out as Leeds United’s next academy success story as coach David Hockaday hinted that the 17-year-old will be in the thick of the forthcoming season.
Cook caught the eye with a consummate display in Saturday’s 2-0 win at Guiseley, leading Hockaday to admit that he is ready to blood the midfielder and other United youngsters when the Championship season starts next month.
Hockaday fielded Cook in his starting line-up at Nethermoor and the England youth international produced the pick of the performances in a tight and competitive pre-season friendly.
Cook’s reputation has grown in the past six months on account of his involvement in the England squad who won the European Under-17 Championship in May, and he was taken on United’s tour of Italy earlier this month.
He was one of three young professionals used by Hockaday at Nethermoor, with centre-back Ross Killock completing an hour and striker Lewis Walters featuring for the final 30 minutes.
Hockaday said: “If you chopped Lewis’ head off and put an older head on his shoulders, you wouldn’t be surprised.
“From what I’ve seen, he along with one or two others have a very good chance here. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with a lot of the younger players and I’ve got a history of giving young players a chance. If they’re good enough, they’ll get their opportunity.”
Cook, who is under contract at Elland Road for the next two years, played as the defensive tip of an experienced midfield diamond containing Michael Tonge, David Norris and new signing Tommaso Bianchi.
Hockaday gave two other foreign recruits – goalkeeper Marco Silvestri and forward Souleymane Doukara – an hour on the pitch at Nethermoor, and goals from Jason Pearce and Matt Smith snatched a late victory.
Watched by owner Massimo Cellino, United struggled to get on top of Guiseley and appeared to be heading for a goalless draw with the Conference North side until Pearce converted a free header five minutes from time.
Smith’s tap-in completed a 2-0 win in injury-time.
Hockaday conceded that the club’s new signings would need time and patience to settle in, saying: “They’ve got to acclimatise to the English culture, the language, the tempo of the games and what we’re looking for.
“Some of them will fly early doors and some might need a bit of time to walk before they run and fly so we’ll have to be patient. We need them to be ready for Millwall on August 9.”
Gaetano Berardi – the Swiss right-back signed by United from Sampdoria on Friday night – was eligible to play at Guiseley but only took part in the half-time warm-up with a view to making his debut at Mansfield Town tomorrow.v
“He came in on Friday and trained for the first time so he wasn’t ready,” Hockaday said.
“If we’d needed him in the last few minutes then we could have thrown him on.” Leeds are continuing to pursue the signature of 22-year-old midfielder Federico Viviani from Roma but Hockaday confirmed that trialist Andre Blackman will not be joining United.
Left-back Blackman began training with Leeds last month and travelled on their tour of Italy but he was not present at Thorp Arch last week.
“We had a look at him but it’s not right,” Hockaday said.
“We wish him well and we move on.”

Guiseley 0 Leeds United 2: Hockaday happy with friendly victory

Yorkshire Evening Post 21/7/14
by Phil Hay
The value for money at Nethermoor was in the seats beside Massimo Cellino. For 60 minutes in intimate surroundings, Leeds United’s owner gave a riotous running commentary to the sound of hysterical laughter and the smell of cigarette smoke.
Even Cellino’s animation ran out of steam as a stereotypical friendly between Leeds and Guiseley ground towards full-time but he was roused before the end by goals from Jason Pearce and Matt Smith.
This was not football as he dreams of it but pre-season rarely is – and few owners of United go looking for it at a non-league ground in West Yorkshire.
His predecessors were not inclined to attend matches with such a low profile.
At stages of last season it seemed hard enough dragging representatives of Gulf Finance House to games of much greater importance.
As he rocked and rolled at the back of Nethermoor’s main stand, you wondered how Cellino’s heart would put up with 46 league fixtures a season and all the stress surrounding them when a simple friendly caused such fervour and anxious chain-smoking.
Saturday’s friendly was a simple contest – tight and rusty, as games so often are this far out from the season – and while Cellino fizzed, Leeds kept their powder dry.
The Lions are four levels below United in the English pyramid but they were fit, disciplined and organised enough to keep the game goalless for 85 minutes.
Pearce eventually cracked them with a header from six yards and Smith put the result beyond doubt as referee Adrian Holmes prepared to blow up in injury-time.
In previous summers, Leeds have used non-league opponents – Guiseley, Farsley, York City and others – to start their pre-season schedules and in a sense, Saturday’s friendly was their first.
Guiseley are a Conference North side but a world away still from the village team beaten 16-0 by Hockaday’s squad in Italy or the Leeds-on-Leeds practice match arranged after Romanian club Viitorul Constanta pulled out of a scheduled game eight days ago.
“Guiseley are Conference standard, a good footballing team,” said Hockaday, who along with his players was taken by Cellino for lunch at an Italian restaurant in Leeds before kick-off.
“The game served its purpose because what I wanted was to dominate possession, keep a clean sheet and win the game.
“What we do with the ball is what we need to work on now but the basic culture of the team is different.
“We want to try and keep the ball but in the final third we need to get better.
“If we’d done that, we could have run out very comfortable winners. But winning isn’t the be-all and end-all of pre-season games. At the moment it’s about match fitness and coming through unscathed.”
Hockaday understands the scepticism caused by his appointment at Elland Road and has ridden through it without flinching but his promise of patient football – a promise made at his first press conference – was in evidence at Nethermoor.
That United’s football felt heavy and underwhelming did not change the fact that it was devoid of the anti-Christ which has come to be known as ‘hoofball’ in Leeds.
There is, all the same, plenty left for the club and Hockaday to iron out.
Eleven players completed an hour against Guiseley including three of United’s foreign signings.
Hockaday started and persisted with a diamond midfield, the formation which failed Brian McDermott last season.
Tom Lees took the armband from the outset and Pearce captained Leeds for the final half-hour.
There was no Dominic Poleon – sent instead to Garforth Town with the Under-21s – but 17-year-old Lewis Cook played from the start and stuck his head above others around him.
How much should anyone read into any of that? “Absolutely nothing,” Hockaday said.
“We’re having a look at lots of formations and combinations – people playing with different people to see if the chemistry’s right.
“We had Lees as captain in the first half and Pearce as captain in the second but we’ll give the captaincy to other people now and then see what’s what.
“In pre-season, every place has to be up for grabs. You can’t just say ‘on the back of last season, that’s your position.’
“Everyone is fighting for the jersey and fighting for it is the easy bit. The hard bit is keeping it.”
It is during the traditional jostling for position that pre-season usually throws up a surprise.
There is money already on Cook providing it. The teenager’s talent is an open secret at Thorp Arch – broadcast further afield by his role in England’s European Under-17 Championship-winning squad – but United’s support will look for him now, the next academy story.
Used as the hindmost point of the diamond on Saturday, his strengths were obvious: intelligence and energy in front of the defence and feet which can trap a ball like glue.
Cellino is said to have singled out Cook’s ability already Hockaday did not try to shield the midfielder afterwards. “I think highly of him,” Hockaday said. “Very highly.”
Twenty yards behind Cook, Marco Silvestri’s 60 minutes in goal amounted to a quiet hour in which he tipped a Danny Forrest shot over his bar but did little else.
Jake Lawlor should have opened the scoring early in the second half but dinked the ball around Silvestri’s right-hand post and the match lost its way at each end of the pitch.
In the last half-hour, Guiseley lost their way too. Leeds were annexing the home penalty area in the minutes before they finally scored. Width in Hockaday’s team came predominantly from left-back Charlie Taylor and his cross created the first meaningful chance which Steve Morison headed into the side-netting after 13 minutes. Morison was paired up front with Souleymane Doukara, a French recruit with the physique of Carlton Cole but more mobility about him. There were flickers of vision and movement from Doukara but quiet periods too. “He’s only trained for a day-and-a-half and it’s obvious that he isn’t match fit yet,” Hockaday said. “We wanted to start him and make it hard for him.”
Tommaso Bianchi, the midfielder brought to Leeds from Sassuolo two weeks ago, had much the same experience: involved in patches but passed out of the game in others. His shot on the half-hour – tipped away brilliantly by keeper Steve Drench – was as close as Leeds came to a goal until the final five minutes.
Hockaday withdrew his entire starting line-up around the hour and fresh legs took hold of the match.
Pearce was first to score on 85 minutes when Dench midjusged Aidan White’s corner and allowed the defender to head into an empty net, and Smith struck from point-blank in injury-time when Sam Byram rose above the combative standard to pick him out with a clever delivery.
“It’s a good foundation,” Hockaday said. “I’m happy with that.”
Guiseley: Drench, Holdsworth, Parker, Lowe, Hall, Lawlor, Brooksby, Stockdill, Boyes, Forrest, Rothery. Subs: Toulson, O Johnson, Harrison, Ible, Porritt, Crossley, Marshall, Walker, Scott.
Leeds United: Silvestri (S Taylor 60), Thompson (Byram 55), Lees (Wootton 60), Killock (Pearce 60), C Taylor (Warnock 60), Cook (Austin 60), Tonge (Murphy 60), Bianchi (White 60), Norris (Hunt 60), Morison (Walters 60), Doukara (Smith 60).

Leeds to meet with highly rated French striker

Vital Leeds 20/7/14
Leeds United are amongst the clubs chasing striker Andy Delort from French Ligue 2 side Tours.
Delort was the joint leading goalscorer in Ligue 2 last season with 24 goals in 36 games and la Nouvelle Republique (English translation) report that Delort is set to meet with Leeds in the next few days.
Spanish side Atletico Madrid are currently leading the chase to sign Delort with English Premier League side Southampton amongst a number of other clubs also reportedly showing an interest in the 22-year-old.
Leeds are keen to bring in a striker after the sale of Ross McCormack to Fulham earlier this month.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Lewis Cook stars in Leeds United win

Club Call 20/7/14
Three of Leeds' summer signings started against Guiseley, but it was youngster Lewis Cook who starred in a 2-0 victory. The England Under-17 international pulled the strings in the Whites' midfield as coach Dave Hockaday played two line-ups - the first XI playing an hour. Marco Silvestri, Souleymane Doukara and Tommaso Bianchi were also involved from the off, while goalkeeper Stuart Taylor came on for the last 30 minutes. Jason Pearce headed home Aidy White's corner to put Leeds in front with just four minutes remaining before Matt Smith wrapped up the victory.

Leeds miss out on Swedish international Robin Quaison

Vital Leeds 20/7/14
Leeds United have missed out on Swedish international Robin Quaison after he joined Italian Serie A side Palermo.
The 20-year-old midfielder chose newly promoted Palermo after being recommended by new Leeds sporting director Nicola Salerno before his arrival at Elland Road.
Salerno was then keen to bring Quaison to Leeds but he has missed out after he signed a three-year deal with Palermo.
Quaison has made his name with Swedish side AIK and his form saw him called up by the Swedish national side, scoring two goals in four appearances.
Leeds were amongst a number of clubs to miss out on Quaison with Dutch giants Ajax Amsterdam and Premier League Queens Park Rangers amongst the other clubs interested.

Young striker Robbie McDaid hits Leeds United hat-trick in rout

Vital Leeds 20/7/14
Young striker Robbie McDaid started his Leeds career off with a hat-trick as Leeds under-18`s beat York City 8-0 on Saturday.
McDaid signed for Leeds from Northern Ireland side Glenavon in the second half of last season. The 17-year-old striker stayed with Glenavon for the remainder of the season before joining up with Leeds at the start of pre-season.
McDaid has made ten senior career appearances already despite his tender age and he made a name for himself with Glenavon last season when he came off the bench with twenty minutes remaining to score twice in the 4-2 local derby win against Portadown.
His form brought him to the attention of Leeds, earning him a successful trial with the club, he has also represented his country at under-19 level in the past year, and he has started his Leeds career off with a bang thanks to his hat-trick at York.
The game also saw exciting young Zimbabwean Munyaradzi Mbanje score a hat-trick as the Leeds side, which contained a number of players from the under-16s thrashed York. Mulhern and Oduor were the other scorers for Leeds in the rout.
The under-21s also enjoyed a comfortable win beating Garforth Town 4-0. Leeds included Alex Cairns, Chris Dawson and Dominic Poleon with first team experience.
Leeds led 3-0 at the break thanks to Tom Lynan, Dominic Poleon and Kalvin Phillips before Piteu Crouz added a fourth from the penalty spot in the second half.
The future is looking bright for Leeds with fellow youngsters Sam Byram, Lewis Cook, Ross Killock, Lewis Walters, Charlie Taylor and Zac Thompson, who have come through the Leeds academy, on first team duty on Saturday as Leeds beat Guiseley 2-0.

Match report: Guiseley 0 Leeds United 2

Yorkshire Evening Post 19/7/14
by Phil Hay
An animated Massimo Cellino watched from the stands as Leeds United claimed a 2-0 win over non-league Guiseley at Nethermoor.
United’s Italian owner joined a crowd of 2,200 for a tight and even contest which played out in wet and humid conditions and was settled by late goals from Jason Pearce and Matt Smith.
Cellino had taken his players and staff out for lunch in Leeds prior to their first domestic friendly of the summer and Pearce and Smith delivered a victory in return after a long spell in which Guiseley frustrated United.
Head coach David Hockaday stretched the legs of his starting line-up by playing them for an hour, using new signings Marco Silvestri, Tommaso Bianchi and Souleymane Doukara from the outset.
Gaetano Berardi’s move from Sampdoria yesterday evening was processed too late for the Swiss right-back to play but he travelled with the squad to Nethermoor and could make his debut at Mansfield Town on Tuesday, the first of United’s friendlies against Football League opposition.
Guiseley are four rungs below Leeds in the English pyramid but this afternoon’s match was still the most competitive staged by the Championship club so far following a 16-0 rout of an amateur side in Italy last week and the cancellation of a planned meeting with Romanian side Vittorul Constanta.
Guiseley’s team included two familiar names - ex-Leeds left-back Ben Parker and Gavin Rothery, once a promising member of United’s academy at Thorp Arch - and the non-league side made a tight contest of the first half.
Leeds saw only two clear chances, with Steve Morison heading a Charlie Taylor cross into the side-netting and Bianchi forcing an excellent, one-handed save from Steve Drench with a curling shot from outside the box.
Danny Forrest could have scored at the other end, however, and his rising shot forced Silvestri to tip the ball over with his fingertips.
Jake Lawlor should have opened the scoring for Guiseley at the start of the second period but dinked the ball wide of an exposed goal and Silvestri stood up well to claim a rising effort from Rothery.
Doukara saw a rare chance deflected shortly before Hockaday introduced a different line-up for the last 30 minutes and Leeds were denied a penalty when Aidy White’s cross struck the arm of Ryan Toulson.
Lewis Walters almost snatched the opening goal when his strike on the turn on 74 minutes was beaten away by Drench but the keeper’s failure to read a corner from White on 85 minutes left Pearce with the task of heading into an empty net.
And Smith sealed the victory five minutes later when he ran in to covert Sam Byram’s cross from point-blank range.
Guiseley: Drench, Holdsworth, Parker, Lowe, Hall, Lawlor, Brooksby, Stockdill, Boyes, Forrest, Rothery. Subs: Toulson, O Johnson, Harrison, Ible, Porritt, Crossley, Marshall, Walker, Scott.
Leeds United: Silvestri (S Taylor 60), Thompson (Byram 55), Lees (Wootton 60), Killock (Pearce 60), C Taylor (Warnock 60), Cook (Austin 60), Tonge (Murphy 60), Bianchi (White 60), Norris (Hunt 60), Morison (Walters 60), Doukara (Smith 60).

Leeds Have Ended Giuseppe Bellusci Talks Reveals Nicola Salerno

Inside Futbol 19/7/14
Leeds United deal-maker Nicola Salerno has revealed that the Elland Road outfit have pulled out of the race to sign Catania defender Giuseppe Bellusci due to financial reasons.
The Championship side have been keen to snap up Bellusci from Catania, who were relegated from Serie A last season, but have struggled to push a deal over the line.
And now Salerno, who worked as sporting director at Cagliari with current Leeds owner Massimo Cellino, says a deal is off.
"We have discontinued the negotiations with Catania for the defender Bellusci, finding no economic agreement", Salerno explained to Itasportpress.
With Leeds having already brought in four players from the Italian market (goalkeeper Marco Silvestri, right-back Gaetano Berardi, midfielder Tommaso Bianchi and striker Souleymane Doukara) however, Salerno feels there is much to be pleased about with their transfer work.
"I think we can be satisfied with that", he added.
Leeds are not expected to slow down their recruitment though, with Cellino having promised as many as six further new faces before the transfer window slams shut for the summer.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Leeds United: Hockaday confident new faces will gel

Yorkshire Evening Post 19/7/14
by Phil Hay
David Hockaday says he is optimistic that Leeds United’s increasingly continental squad will blend together in time for the start of the season with the club continuing to look to the Italian market for new signings.
United’s head coach admitted that the influx of players from abroad was “a gamble” but said the attitude of United’s foreign recruits was encouraging him to believe that they will integrate quickly in readiness for the club’s first Championship game on August 9.
Hockaday’s squad was strengthened by the arrival of two Italian players – goalkeeper Marco Silvestri and midfielder Tommaso Bianchi – and French forward Souleymane Doukara during the club’s pre-season tour of Italy, and United owner Massimo Cellino is close to securing fresh arrivals from the continent.
One, Sampdoria right-back Gaetano Berardi, flew into England on Thursday and tied up a permanent transfer last night, agreeing a two-year contract, with an option of a third.
The Switzerland international has been at the centre of talks between Leeds and Sampdoria all week and becomes United’s fifth summer signing after training at Thorp Arch yesterday.
Leeds have also made a firm approach for Roma midfielder Federico Viviani, a 22-year-old who won 10 caps with Italy’s Under-21s. A deal with United would most likely see Viviani join them on loan but he has offers from a number of Serie A sides and is still weighing up his options.
Goalkeeper Stuart Taylor is the only domestic recruit signed by United since Cellino bought the club in April and the 58-year-old indicated to the YEP on Thursday that he was likely to pursue more targets from abroad.
Silvestri, Bianchi and Doukara have been training with the club’s squad at Thorp Arch this week ahead of today’s friendly at Guiseley and asked how he expected the foreign arrivals to gel, Hockaday said: “Time will tell.
“It’s unproven and that’s the excitement and the gamble of football. You can go and get any player – and the higher up they are the less of a gamble they are – but nothing’s ever etched in stone. The chemistry can be right at one club but not at another.
“What we want are honest, hard-working lads with quality and these lads have certainly got that. The main priority is that they’re hungry to play for Leeds United.”
Cellino revealed on Thursday that Leeds have a transfer budget of £15m – a figure which is likely to cover wages and other costs, on top of fees paid for players – but Hockaday said the club’s transfer policy was “not about budgets, it’s about hungry players.”
“Thankfully, I’m not going to get involved in (budgets),” Hockaday said. “I’m a coach, I identify positions where I feel we need strengthening, I talk to the president and we come up with names together.
“We then look into it and if it’s two ‘yeses’, we move on it. It’s not about budgets, it’s about hungry players.
“What we’re getting quite a lot is situations where the first thing people want to talk about is money.
“But we don’t want people who just want to come and earn money. We want people who will come and play well and earn their money. “I’m sure that’s what the supporters would want.”
The friendly at Guiseley later (3pm) will be United’s first serious pre-season game after a 16-0 rout of a local amateur side in Italy was followed the cancellation of a scheduled match against Romanian side Viitorul Constanta. Today’s’ visit to Nethermoor is a sell-out.
Hockaday said: “A number of players have laid claim to the shirt and it’s up to them to keep it but we’re still in pre-season so a lot could happen.”

Sampdoria’s Berardi on brink of sealing Leeds move

Yorkshire Post 18/7/14
SAMPDORIA right-back Gaetano Berardi is on the brink of sealing a move to Leeds United after linking up with the club’s squad at Thorp Arch.
Berardi - a 25-year-old Swiss international - is understood to have taken part in a training session today ahead of his proposed move from Serie A.
United have been working to finalise his sale from Sampdoria for the past week and he flew into England yesterday as his transfer edged towards completion.
Reports in Italy say Berardi will sign on a two-year deal with the option of a third year when his initial contract expires in 2016.
He is poised to become Leeds’ fifth new addition this summer, following Stuart Taylor, Marco Silvestri, Tommaso Bianchi and Souleymane Doukara to Elland Road.
Speaking about Berardi yesterday, United owner Massimo Cellino said: “He’s a good guy.
“I’m offering less money than Sampdoria, he’s playing in Serie A and played 150 times in Serie A, and he’s a national team player but he’s wants to come.
“The agent of Berardi is a good friend of mine. He (Berardi) said he wanted to go to Cellino in England. I said ‘how much do you want?’ and offered less. If you’re good, you’ll get a bonus. You have to show me that you want to come here, not for money.
“When you sign players, you can always raise the wage. You can never lower the wage. So if you trust yourself then trust me. I’m not going to take advantage.”
United, however, appear to have backed away from the option of adding English left-back Andre Blackman to their squad full-time.
Blackman - a former Arsenal trainee who was with non-league Maidenhead United last season - joined Leeds on trial in June and feature in their pre-season tour of Italy, used in a more attacking role by head coach David Hockaday.
But the 23-year-old did not attend Thorp Arch for training yesterday or today and looks unlikely to land a contract.

Cellino pledges Leeds United fans will no longer be ripped off

Football League World 18/7/14
BY WILL MATTHEWS
Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino has pledged to the fans of the club that they will no longer be ripped off according to reports in the Daily Mirror.
Cellino has said that the club was in disarray with daily running costs of £125,000 when he took over the club, and that the best interests of the club were never put first.This club is going to have more quiet time and fewer problems now,” said Leeds’ owner. “And the people who used to rip the club off, they’re going to stop. I’ll protect the club from everyone – including myself.”
“For the first time in 12 years, this club wants to go to the Premier League, but it doesn’t need to go to the Premier League, that’s my message. We might have to suffer a little bit, but in my life I never saw anything good or important without hard work.
“We have to work hard and face pain to get to the Premier League, but we don’t need to go there to pay wages or debts. We’re not plagued with that desperation. The debts are paid, or they’re going to be paid.”
Cellino also disclosed that he is still annoyed with Ross McCormack, but was looking on the bright side that the money will help the club buy back Elland Road.
“I’m still p*ed off about McCormack,” he said. “If I was working just for Massimo Cellino, believe me, I would not have sold for one billion pounds.
“For a while I was keeping him for my satisfaction, to show him I was stronger than him. Then someone asked me ‘are you not selling him for the good of Leeds or just to show that you’re stronger than him?’.
“I had to do what was right for Leeds. So I told Fulham ‘OK, you say £10million, I say £11million’. And we sold him.”
“If we have a mortgage, instead of paying £1.6million-a-year in rent, we pay £600,000 on the mortgage,” he explained.
“By November, we’ll buy the stadium. If we have to pay cash, then we will. The money is there. I’d prefer to pay cash. Because I’m Leeds, Leeds, Leeds.”

Leeds United: Cellino looks to reasssure fans over future of Matt Smith

Yorkshire Evening Post 18/7/14
Millwall’s chances of signing Matt Smith from Leeds United appeared to weaken last night as United owner Massimo Cellino played down the possibility of the striker leaving Elland Road.
Cellino described Smith as a “nice player” who was “growing” at Leeds amid reports from London indicating that Millwall are ready to move on from their pursuit of the 25-year-old.
Millwall had an initial offer for Smith rejected by Cellino last month and United are believed to have given the Bermondsey club, who they play on the first day of the new season, no encouragement over the past few weeks.
Leeds are already working to compensate for the loss of Ross McCormack, the 29-goal striker who recently moved to Fulham in an £11million transfer, and a deal to sell Smith would cost the club a forward who scored 13 times last season.
The former Oldham Athletic played has only one year left on his contract but Cellino said he would be staying with United next season along with the experienced pair of Steve Morison and Noel Hunt.
Cellino said: “Smith is growing, he’s a nice player and I think he wants to stay.
“A new forward is coming to help (Steve) Morison, (Noel) Hunt and Smith.”

Friday, July 18, 2014

Leeds United: The town has a new sheriff says Cellino

Yorkshire Evening Post 18/7/14
Leeds United’s colourful owner Massimo Cellino talks to Phil Hay about his first 101 days in charge of the Elland Road club.
This is Leeds and in the words of Massimo Cellino, it’s his town now. Leeds United’s owner is buying a house in the north of the city and his wife intends to move in from Miami. His daughter has chosen to leave university in New York to continue her studies in the north of England.
“The town has a new sheriff,” Cellino says, and in the case of Leeds United he’s right. It is months and years since the city’s only professional football club was run with the authority the Italian exerts. Cellino’s way has shed tears and jobs, deconstructing the business he bought in April, but this way is his and his alone.
And so, 101 days on from his takeover, Cellino thinks he can see “light coming from the sky.” The relief is understandable. Of all the cost-cutting carried out through the summer, no saving mattered more than the deal reached in the past few weeks with Gulf Finance House, the Bahraini bank who sold Leeds to Cellino shortly before the end of last season.
On top of a purchase price of £11m, Cellino agreed to service a debt of £24m built up during GFH’s time as majority shareholder at Elland Road. Much of the money was owed to GFH itself or associates of the bank. Cellino took issue with that debt when the state of the club became clear and his message to the bank’s officials was simple – either compromise or prepare for a fight.
Under the terms of a new agreement between them, GFH is understood to be willing to wipe out half of the debt immediately and take repayment of the remaining money if and when Leeds are promoted to the Premier League. It effectively frees United and Cellino of scheduled lump sums originally due to be paid by December 2017, one as high as £6.5m. GFH remains as a minority shareholder with Cellino’s blessing, a potential point of conflict resolved for now.
“We’ve fixed the past with GFH,” Cellino says. “They understand now that their 25 per cent is worth something and they understand too that they have to do something here.
“I told them: ‘I don’t want to fight with you but are we partners or not?’ They’ve realised that we’re partners. I’ll take my money, they take theirs, we start again. I’m very happy.
“With GFH I was ready to fight them but they didn’t want to fight because they’re happy with my work. We found a way to get peace and we’ll work for Leeds. There’s no issue.”
They said at Cagliari, the Serie A club which Cellino owned for 22 years, that he always got his way in the end. Or more truthfully, he always followed his own mind. Leeds have seen the same attitude and the same single-mindedness.
Cellino was briefly rattled by the reaction to his attempt to sack former manager Brian McDermott in January – “supporters wanted to kick my arse but we were going down and I wanted to shake the place up” – but he has rarely allowed himself to be swayed since: dismissing staff, temporarily closing United’s training ground, appointing the little-known David Hockaday as head coach (an appointment made in the face of fierce scepticism) and looking to the continent for most of his signings.
In all it amounts to major procedural change at a club where Cellino felt change was essential. At the time of his buy-out, he says Leeds were costing £125,000 a day to run, of which £70,000 was essentially losses. A reduced wage bill and substantial cuts are starting to reign the expenditure in.
“This club is going to have more quiet time and less problems now,” Cellino says. “And the people who used to rip the club off, they’re going to stop. I’ll protect the club from everyone – including myself.
“For the first time in 12 years, this club wants to go to the Premier League but it doesn’t need to go to the Premier League. That’s my message. We might have to suffer a little bit but in my life I never saw anything good or important without hard work.
“We have to work hard and face pain to get to the Premier League but we don’t need to go there to pay wages or debts. We’re not plagued with that desperation. The debts are paid, or they’re going to be paid.”
Over the weeks, Cellino has counted his victories. In only one situation has he been forced to concede defeat – the sale of club captain Ross McCormack – and even then he succeeded in pulling in a huge sum from Fulham. Cellino says the fee for McCormack was £10.75m and will be put towards the repurchase of Elland Road, rather than new players for a Championship season which starts on August 9.
“We already had our budget for players,” he says. “We had a £15m budget to buy players and we’re doing that. The money from Ross is not for that. It’s for Elland Road. McCormack’s money, we mustn’t waste. If we buy a few players more because I suddenly feel rich then I can’t buy the stadium anymore. No – we buy the stadium. I’ll buy players anyway.”
Cellino maintains that McCormack was an asset he wanted to keep. At the very least, he wanted to avoid selling him to another Championship club – “15 goals a season to one of our competitors.”
“I’m still p***ed off about McCormack,” Cellino says. “If I was working just for Massimo Cellino, believe me, I would not have sold for one billion pounds.
“For a while I was keeping him for my satisfaction, to show him I was stronger than him. Then someone asked me ‘are you not selling him for the good of Leeds or just to show that you’re stronger than him?’ I had to do what was right for Leeds. So I told Fulham ‘okay, you say £10m, I say £11m.’ And we sold.”
The fee raised from McCormack’s departure, minus 15 per cent owed to Cardiff through a sell-on clause, equates to around two thirds of the cost of repurchasing Elland Road. The buy-back clause which Leeds hold over the stadium – and which increases annually – currently stands at £16m. Cellino says he will exercise the clause by November, via a mortgage if a bank will lend to him or in straight cash if not.
“If we have a mortgage, instead of paying £1.6m a year in rent we pay £600,000 on the mortgage,” he says. “But there is no bank in Leeds that will give us a mortgage. What’s the risk? If we’re paying £1.6m in rent, how can we not afford £600,000 a year?
“The money we have we might need to renovate the stadium, to make a new stand, to clean it up or do something else nice. But by November, we’ll buy the stadium. If we have to pay cash then we will. The money is there. And I won’t go to the city of Manchester for a mortgage. I won’t give them the money. I’d prefer to pay cash. Because I’m Leeds, Leeds, Leeds.”
His commitment to owning Elland Road is not shared with Thorp Arch, United’s training ground near Wetherby. Cellino says he has spoken to the local council in Leeds about two or three different pieces of land which could house a new complex in future.
He is rumoured to be looking at an area on Kirkstall Road, a stone’s throw from Elland Road. On one hand, he wants the players closer to home. On the other, he wants to free the club of the £600,000 rent United pay each year to use Thorp Arch. To sit with Cellino is to watch a man juggling countless balls. He has advisors around him – financier Andrew Umbers and Graham Bean, formerly of the FA but no chief executive or managing director. Besides core business matters, he is in the thick of United’s transfer dealings and keenly aware of Hockaday’s day-to-day work. He went to Italy last week to watch the second game of United’s pre-season tour – a game which was cancelled at short notice – and has sharp, personal views on each of head coach Hockaday’s first team players.
“I didn’t buy a big club here,” Cellino says. “I bought the biggest club in England. You understand? This club has been 12 years in the s**t but I have this chance to do something good. I’m going to die but I’m going to do something good as well. You know how many people have come here asking to buy this club in the last 40 days? Four. Big companies. I told them I wouldn’t sell for 100 billion. They said ‘for 1 billion, you will.’
“I tried to explain to them, what is going to change if I sell for one billion? I don’t have time to drink a glass of water so if I have one billion, so what? One kilo of caviar, 100 kilos of caviar...I’ll work for my soul and the satisfaction of bringing this club back. How much is that worth? There’s no price.”

Cellino pledge on Leeds United squad

Yorkshire Evening Post 17/7/14
by Phil Hay
Massimo Cellino has revealed that Leeds United’s summer signings were likely to run into double figures as he waited on the completion of a deal for Sampdoria’s Gaetano Berardi.
In a lengthy interview with the YEP, the United owner said he planned to bring another “five or six” new players to Elland Road on top of the four already signed by the Championship club.
His comments pointed to a major overhaul of the squad at Leeds and a sweeping response to the club’s mediocre performance in the Championship last season, a season in which they finished 15th.
United have already signed goalkeepers Marco Silvestri and Stuart Taylor, midfielder Tommaso Bianchi and forward Souleymane Doukara, and Cellino confirmed that an offer for Sampdoria’s Berardi was virtually in place.
The right-back, a Switzerland international, has been made available by Sampdoria and Carlo Osti, the Serie A club’s sporting director, appeared to indicate that a deal was done on Wednesday night, saying: “Berardi will go to Leeds.”
Cellino said: “Berardi I haven’t signed yet but I hope to. He’s a good guy.
“I’m offering less money than Sampdoria, he’s playing in Serie A and played 150 times in Serie A, and he’s a national team player but he’s wants to come.
“The agent of Berardi is a good friend of mine. He (Berardi) said he wanted to go to Cellino in England. I said ‘how much do you want?’ and offered less. If you’re good, you’ll get a bonus. You have to show me that you want to come here, not for money.
“When you sign players, you can always raise the wage. You can never lower the wage. So if you trust yourself then trust me. I’m not going to take advantage.”
United have opted against the option of taking Brazilian defender Rodrigo Ely from AC Milan. Ely is moving on loan to Serie B side Avellino but Leeds are continue to chase Federico Viviani, Roma’s 22-year-old midfielder.
Viviani’s agent told the YEP earlier this week that Viviani had a spate of offers from Serie A clubs to consider but Nicola Salerno, the former Cagliari sporting director who has joined Cellino at Leeds, was quoted tonight as saying: “We have good chances to take Viviani but the deal isn’t done yet”.
Leeds have just three weeks to finalise their senior squad for the opening game of the Championship term, away to Millwall, but Cellino said: “We’ll sign another five or six. We need that. I don’t want to say names because you test your luck.
“We’ve got more than 50 games next season and we need players, good players. We were missing that last season.”
Cellino has made just one addition from the English league - keeper Taylor on a free transfer from Reading - and he said his current lack of knowledge about English players and the cost of signing domestic talent was likely to see further arrivals from abroad.
“I’m just starting in British football,” he said. “I try to understand the best players over here but I don’t know much about them because you need time to watch games.
“I love British players but if a forward scores 26 goals in France, he costs me four million euros. Here, they ask me for £9m.
“At Cagliari we looked at players from France, Sweden, Germany, Argentina and Brazil but most of them I didn’t think were right to play in the Championship. Because here the players are like Vikings. They’re going to kill the other guy! So I need to decide which players have the right skills but are also strong enough to play in England. This is high-level, physical football.”

More Leeds signings soon promises Hockaday

Yorkshire Post 17/7/14
LEEDS United head coach David Hockaday has promised that more new signings will be coming to Elland Road - and left the door open the possibility of taking controversial striker Nile Ranger on trial.
Hockaday refused to rule out the option of inviting Ranger to train at Thorp Arch and said further additions to United’s squad were necessary after four transfers in the past fortnight.
Italian right-back Gaetano Berardi is set to become Leeds’ fifth summer recruit following successful negotiations between Leeds and Sampdoria but Hockaday expects other deals to materialise before the Championship season starts on August 9.
“There are areas where we need to strengthen and it’s not rocket science,” Hockaday said. “We’re working hard to improve those areas.”
United’s attacking options were significantly reduced at the start of the month when the club agreed to sell captain and top scorer Ross McCormack to Fulham for £11million.
The club took forward Souleymane Doukara on loan from Sassuolo last weekend, signing him with a view to a permanent deal, but Doukara is not renowned as a prolific goalscorer and a replacement for McCormack is still one of United’s priorities.
Ranger, 23, is without a club after leaving Swindon Town, the most recent club to take a chance on a forward whose once-promising career has been blighted by disciplinary issues.
Hockaday and Ranger worked together in the youth-team set-up at Southampton in 2007 and Hockaday is thought to be contemplating the option of handing the striker a trial.
Asked about Ranger, Hockaday said: “People are putting two and two together. There are players I’ve worked with who I keep in touch with and Nile’s one of them.
“I’m not going to pick out individuals (who Leeds are interested in) because I could be here for a fortnight saying yes, no, yes, no but we’re looking at a lot of players. If I get drawn into one then I’ll get drawn into others.
“Anything’s possible in football but most things aren’t going to happen. I know a lot of players and Nile’s one of them. We know where we need to strengthen.
“But we’re not going to be rushed or do anything silly. We want the right people for the right reason at the right time. If we can get it done in a day, great. If it takes a month it takes a month.”
Frenchman Doukara should make his first appearance for Leeds during their pre-season friendly at Guiseley on Saturday having joined the club towards the end of their recent tour of Italy.
Midfielder Tommaso Bianchi and goalkeeper Marco Silvestri will also feature at Nethermoor, with Hockaday indicating that his starting line-up will be given a 60-minute run-out.
Defender Scott Wootton, who has been suffering from a ligament injury, was due to resume training today while midfielder Alex Mowatt has almost recovered from a twisted ankle and should train with the first team at Thorp Arch next week.
Hockaday said: “Every day in pre-season is massively important. It’s money in the bank.
“Guiseley’s part of the process and you’d want to win every game and keep a clean sheet but if we can get 60 minutes of match fitness, come away with no injuries then that’s a step in the right direction.
“Friendlies are friendlies and what I’m looking for is a performance and for people to improve their match fitness. The first thing I demand is that they put in a shift.
“But I think we’ve come a million miles from when I first came here with regards to getting the team together. That’s a big bonus. We’ve still got a few million miles to go but we’ve made massive strides in the last two weeks.”

Leeds United look set to take a chance with trial for Nile Ranger

Yorkshire Evening Post 17/7/14
Leeds United’s players will resume training after a two-day break this afternoon amid persistent rumours that Nile Ranger is poised to begin a trial at Thorp Arch.
The controversial striker, who has prior links with United head coach David Hockaday, looks set to be given an unexpected opportunity by Leeds despite the chequered record which has hindered his professional career.
Ranger, 23, is without a club after a hamstring injury and disciplinary issues ended his year-long spell at Swindon Town in May.
Swindon signed the forward during the summer of 2013, several months after Ranger and Newcastle United agreed to sever his contract at St James’ Park.
Ranger’s senior career began at Newcastle but he was embroiled in controversy throughout his time on Tyneside, finally leaving the Premier League club after 62 appearances, most of them made as a substitute.
He and Hockaday – himself a former Swindon player – are believed to have crossed paths in 2007 when Ranger was an academy player at Southampton and Hockaday was part of the south-coast club’s youth-team coaching staff.
United are in the market for at least one more striker this summer after sanctioning the sale of Ross McCormack to Fulham earlier this month.
Frenchman Souleymane Doukara joined the club on loan from Italian side Catania last week but the 22-year-old is not regarded as an out-an-out striker and was on United’s radar prior to the sale of McCormack.
Leeds showed an interest in Daniele Cacia, the 30-year-old Verona forward, earlier in the summer but have given up on him as a target.
The club, meanwhile, are waiting to complete their fifth signing of the summer after lined up a deal for Sampdoria right-back Gaetano Berardi.
Roma midfielder Federico Viviani, a 22-year-old who has played six times for Roma and moved on loan to Serie B club Latina last season, is the latest player to be linked with United.
Viviani has been capped by Italy at Under-21 level and made his Serie A debut at the age of 19.
His agent, Giovanni Ferro, told the YEP: “We are speaking with Leeds United but the player has a lot of interest from Italian Serie A clubs. We’ll take a decision in the near future.”
United’s new recruits – Doukara, Tommaso Bianchi and goalkeepers Marco Silvestri and Stuart Taylor – will take part in their first sessions at Thorp Arch tomorrow having linked up with United’s squad for their pre-season tour of Italy.
Leeds’ players returned from the continent on Monday afternoon and were given Tuesday and yesterday off.

Leeds United: Agent reveals Viviani talks

Yorkshire Evening Post 16/7/14
by Phil Hay
The agent of young Italian midfielder Federico Viviani has confirmed that he is speaking to Leeds United about a possible transfer from Roma.
But Giovanni Ferro played down the possibility of Viviani moving to the Championship by revealing that the 22-year-old was attracting widespread interest from Serie A clubs in Italy.
Viviani - an ex-Under-21 international - is expected to leave his current team this summer having been crowded out of a high-quality squad in Rome.
He has played six times for Roma since making his debut as a 19-year-old in 2011 but most of his senior appearances have been amassed on loan, most recently at Serie B side Latina last season.
Ferro told the YEP: “We are speaking with Leeds United but the player has a lot of interest from Italian Serie A clubs.
“We’ll take a decision in the near future.”
United have already signed one Italian midfielder, landing Tommaso Bianchi on a four-year contract from Sassuolo.
The club are continuing to work towards a deal for Sampdoria right-back Gaetano Berardi after adding Bianchi, Marco Silvestri, Stuart Taylor and Souleymane Doukara to their squad.

Message of support for Haigh from senior Leeds United Supporters Club members

Yorkshire Evening Post 16/7/14
by Phil Hay
Prominent members of the Leeds United Supporters Club have sent a message of support to David Haigh, the former United managing director who has been under arrest in Dubai for two months.
Chairman Ray Fell and three other senior figures at the Supporters Club - Phil Beeton, Dave Gaertner and Chris Hall - said Haigh’s imprisonment over allegations of fraud had left them “upset, dismayed and angry at the treatment apparently afforded to you.”
Haigh was detained in Dubai on May 18 and has been held without charge for the past nine weeks following claims by GFH Capital, United’s former owner, that he embezzled almost £3m during his time as the company’s deputy chief executive.
The 36-year-old denies any wrongdoing but remains in jail after a court set the cost of bail at close to £4m. Haigh’s global assets were frozen last month as prosecutors in Dubai investigated the matter.
GFH Capital has launched a civil case against him in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Court but no criminal charges have yet been brought.
Haigh was a key figure behind GFH Capital’s takeover of Leeds in 2012 and he worked as the club’s managing director until April of this year, leaving his post after Massimo Cellino’s buy-out of Leeds.
He held the position of deputy chief executive at GFH Capital until February.
Haigh attended a Supporters Club meeting shortly before resigning from his post at Elland Road and in a letter to him, the four LUSC officials said: “The ongoing reports of your detention leave your friends within LUSC upset, dismayed and angry at the treatment apparently afforded to you.
“Whilst we are in no position to comment on the accusations levelled at you (or not!) to be detained for so long with, apparently, no charges being levelled seems to be totally at odds with what we are accustomed to as UK citizens.
“We continue to hope that you are given the earliest possible opportunity to present your case to the appropriate authorities to enable not only justice to be done, but seen to be done.
“Whilst not representing LUSC as an organisation, we the undersigned officials would like to offer our individual support to you in your current plight, and assure you that our thoughts are with you.”
GFH Capital accuses Haigh of creating false invoices and arranging payment of money to bank accounts unconnected to the firms charging for services.
Speaking to the BBC last month, GFH Capital senior executive office Jinesh Patel said: “We had no intention of having anybody incarcerated or having him in a condition that is going to have him in an uncomfortable position.
“Our plan and our aim is to get recovery of the assets that have been fraudulently taken from GFH Capital.
“The fact that the Dubai authorities are doing their job very, very well and are undertaking due process is out of our hands. We can’t control that process.”
Haigh’s supporters say he is innocent and being denied access to funds and information needed to defend himself properly.
It was reported last week that two publishers, including one in the UK, are looking to approach Haigh with book deals.

Young striker Robbie McDaid sets high target as he talks about joining Leeds United

leedsunited.com 16/7/14
Young United striker Robbie McDaid has set himself high targets as his career at the club begins.
The 17-year-old signed a two-year contract with the club in March this year and admits that following his arrival from Northern Ireland side Glenavon he is here to work hard to improve himself as a player.
“I’m not going to go to a club and pretend to be something that I’m not,” said the youngster. “What you see is what you get with me.
“I think the club liked my style of play. I am an old fashioned centre forward. I’m physical and I think that suits the English game,
“The step up is massive. In my opinion English teams are the best in the world.
“It is now just a matter of working hard. You have to work hard and you have to be disciplined. You have to live it everyday and you have to want it everyday.
“I want to be here and I want to work hard. I want to progress.”
Robbie has been part of the Under-21s pre-season schedule and has played against Grimsby Borough and Harrogate Town in recent weeks. But the striker’s overall aim is to prove his worth in the Development Squad before making the step up to United’s first team, and he admits he wants to help take the club back to the Premier League.
“My aim right away is to cement my position in the Under-21s by Christmas and then I want to progress,” explained McDaid. “I will work hard and I will get better as a player every single day.
“I’m not coming here for a two year holiday, I am here to work. I want to play for the Leeds Untied first team.
“I want to progress as a player, I want to improve as a player and I want to take Leeds to the Premiership to be honest.”
United will travel to the striker’s old club Glenavon on Wednesday July 30 (7.45pm) as part of the club’s pre-season schedule.

Now Leeds in race for Berardi and two centre-backs

Yorkshire Post 16/7/14
Leeds United remain in the hunt to sign right-back Gaetano Berardi and will attempt to land two new centre-backs before the start of the season after running into problems with the proposed transfers of Jonathan Rossini and Giuseppe Bellusci.
Leeds pulled out of a deal to take 25-year-old Rossini on loan from Sassuolo last week and the club look unlikely to secure the signature of Bellusci, despite productive attempts to negotiate the sale of the Italian defender from Serie A club Catania.
United are believed to be willing to meet Catania’s valuation but have been put off by Bellusci’s wage demands. Owner Massimo Cellino is now considering other options but right-back Berardi is poised to become Leeds’ fifth signing of the summer with talks about a switch from Sampdoria on-going.
Berardi, 25, is a Switzerland international who moved to Sampdoria in 2012 after starting his career at Brescia.
He made a steady impact with Sampdoria during the 2012-13 season, playing 21 times, but struggled for games last season and look set to move on in the coming month.
Sam Byram is the only specialist right-back in United’s squad and the talented teenager suffered from a series of injuries last season, though he has come through the early stages of the club’s pre-season schedule without any set-backs.
Scott Wootton – another alternative in that position – has been recovering from injury throughout the summer and missed the club’s recent tour of northern Italy.
Sources in Italy, meanwhile, confirmed yesterday that United have made initial enquiries about AC Milan youngsters Rodrigo Ely and Zan Benedicic.
Milan head coach Filippo Inzaghi is thought to have ruled out the departure of Benedicic – an attacking midfielder from Slovenia – while the YEP understands that Leeds are likely to opt for more experienced defenders over Brazil-born Ely, despite rating the youngster highly.
Ely, 20, is yet to break into Milan’s senior side and completed time on loan at Serie B club Varese last season.
Swedish midfielder Sebastian Eriksson – currently on the books of Cellino’s old club Cagliari – is another player being monitored by United, through the 25-year-old is carrying a knee injury.
Leeds’ Championship fixture list has been altered again after Sky Sports chose to televise their Yorkshire derby at Rotherham United. The game will now take place on Friday, October 17, a day earlier than planned.

Leeds to offer former Newcastle and Swindon striker Nile Ranger a trial

Mail 15/7/14
Leeds are to offer Nile Ranger a chance to train with the club
23-year-old is a free agent after leaving Swindon
Ranger scored seven goals in 19 appearances last season for Swindon
By SIMON JONES
Leeds United are to offer Nile Ranger the chance to train with the club.
The troubled 23-year-old is a free agent after leaving Swindon Town at the end of last season.
Ranger's young career has been marred with controversy since he made his professional debut five years ago at Newcastle.
Ranger made his debut for the Magpies in August 2009 in a Championship match against West Brom.
He scored two goals in 51 appearences on Tyneside - which included spells out on loan to Barnsley and Sheffield Wednesday.
Last season the former England Under-19 striker scored seven goals in 19 games for Swindon.
Ranger could be seen as a possible replacement for Ross McCormack who moved to Fulham in a £11million deal earlier this month.

Leeds United: New faces highlight fresh approach to transfer market

Yorkshire Evening Post 15/7/14
by Phil Hay
Leeds United’s players arrived back from their tour of Italy yesterday talking positively about the intensity of their training camp but the football played during two weeks in the Dolomites did little to showcase the true ability of the new faces who flew home with them.
A record-breaking rout of a local amateur team and an 11-a-side match arranged at short notice after opponents from Romania failed to show up were games on which nothing could be gauged beyond the fitness of United’s squad but five domestic friendlies between now and August 2 will shed light on the foreign signings made in the past fortnight.
The club’s pool of senior professionals was three heavier on the flight home than it had been when they travelled from Manchester to Verona on June 30, increased by players whose profiles have grown immeasurably in Yorkshire since they finalised transfers to Elland Road. United made English goalkeeper Stuart Taylor their first signing of the summer but Marco Silvestri, Tommaso Bianchi and Souleymane Doukara are better examples of how United’s approach the transfer market has changed.
That approach is driven by Massimo Cellino and unashamedly so. The recruits are players he has either previously taken to Cagliari - as in the case of goalkeeper Silvestri - or found reason to admire during his years as a club owner in the Italian leagues. All three met his requirements and accepted an invitation to play in England for the first time. United’s five home-based friendlies, starting at Guiseley on Saturday, should demonstrate how well they are likely to meet the requirements of the English game.
Doukara is the youngest of the three at 22 - a versatile forward who was born in Paris but played professionally in Italy alone. Rovigo and Vibonese, two small, lower-league sides, were his first clubs but he joined Catania in 2012 at a time when the Sicilian team held a place in Serie A.
Catania blooded him cautiously without ever cutting him loose. His time on the pitch in the 2012-13 season amounted to 270 minutes or thereabouts - the equivalent of three full appearances - and Juve Stabia, a Serie B club, took him on loan in September 2013. Doukara played 17 times and scored six goals but Juve Stabia were rapidly relegated with 19 points.
Renato Maisani, assistant editor of goal.com in Italy, said Doukara was more comfortable as a winger than a centre-forward and at his best as one of the wide attackers in a front three. He described Doukara as “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” and said the youngster appeared to have found his level during his loan at Juve Stabia.
“When I watch him during friendlies or training he seems to be a very good player but during official matches he struggles,” Maisani said. “Perhaps because he is young.
“Last season on loan at Juve Stabia, especially when the team was virtually relegated, he coped very well. This maybe confirms that he suffered from pressure (at Catania). Serie B is surely more suited to his talent.
“But in England he could make a good impression because English football is closer to his abilities. He is physically strong but he’s also quick. He misses too many chances but I think he can improve, especially his killer instinct.”
There is a common theme between Doukara, Silvestri, Bianchi and others who Cellino has identified as potential signings. The majority are, or were, Serie A players with no real or immediate prospects at their Italian clubs.
Silvestri is a well-regarded keeper, a former Italy Under-21 international, who signed for Cagliari on loan from Chievo while Cellino ran Cagliari last season. Aged 23 and 6’3” tall, he was permanently trapped behind other, more experienced options at Chievo and completed loans at Padova and Reggiana before coming to Cellino’s attention.
Silvestri was, in Cellino’s mind, a must-have player this summer and a preferred replacement for Paddy Kenny, United’s first choice for the past two years but a keeper who is out on the cold and missed the club’s pre-season tour. Silvestri’s transfer was set in motion in the early stages of June and the fee paid to Chievo last week is thought to have been in the region of £400,000.
Vincenzo Sardu, a Sardinian-based reporter, predicted that Silvestri would thrive over the course of a four-year contract at Leeds, a deal which will take him beyond his 27th birthday.
“Silvestri is a great goalkeeper,” Sardu said. “He needs time and patience and but has good technical qualities.
“He’s courageous, he’s got good reactions and has quite discreet but explosive power. Of course he’s very young and he must have time to grow but I think in Championship he’ll get by quite well.”
Bianchi’s experience, while largely gained in Serie B, is in a different league to that of Doukara and Silvestri. Between Piacenza, Modena and Sassuolo - the club who Leeds signed him from on a four-year deal - he amassed almost 200 appearances.
Bianchi became an Italian Under-21 international against Wales in 2009, named in a squad which also included Mario Balotelli and Federico Macheda, though he failed to sustain his international involvement for long.
United’s head coach, David Hockaday, portrayed Bianchi as an attacking midfielder, saying he could “play on the left, on the right, in the number 10 role and he can score goals.”
Journalist Emanuele Giulianelli, who has watched Bianchi for several years, said the lifelong Inter Milan fan was taken on by Sassuolo in 2011 at a time when the club were showing themselves to be a “very ambitious side in Serie B.”
“When Sassuolo gained promotion to Serie A, the central midfield was made up of Francesco Magnanelli and Tommaso Bianchi,” Giulianelli said. “Of the two midfielders, Bianchi had more quality.
“Despite of his young age, he always showed good personality and last season he played as a real leader for Modena in Serie B, scoring three goals in 38 appearances and getting to the play-offs for promotion.
“The fact that Cellino decided to buy him and sign him to a long contract shows how much he believes in Tommaso. He’s a silent leader in midfield with all the features to be a key man. He likes to play in an offensive team and he has enough quality to be very suited to English football.”
Leeds expected to complete a fourth foreign signing last week but a deal to take defender Jonathan Rossini on loan from Sassuolo collapsed over the weekend amid concerns about the Swiss centre-back’s fitness and suggestions that he was reluctant to leave Italy.
Cellino claimed Rossini “didn’t have the right attitude to join Leeds” and Rossini gave his own explanation in a statement, saying: “With deep regret I am unable to accept a transfer to this prestigious club, of which I would be honoured to be a part.
“The reasons are strictly personal and do not relate to contractual issues nor approval of the destination.”

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

David Hockaday - My feet still haven’t touched the ground

Yorkshire Evening Post 15/7/14
MAD MONTH: It’s been a non-stop four weeks for new United head coach Dave Hockaday who tells Lee Sobot about his first impressions of the club.
PRESIDENT Massimo Cellino’s views on the residency of his Leeds United players have been well documented.
And those views are echoed by head coach David Hockaday for whom a house move to Yorkshire is next on a chock-full agenda.
The 56-year-old is loving life at Leeds almost four weeks into his tenure with Hockaday buzzing at the “fervour” shown by Leeds United’s fans.
Hockaday will have been Whites head coach for four weeks on Thursday – the day United’s players return to training after a two-day break handed to them following the hard graft of a two-week training camp in Santa Cristina in Italy.
Hockaday put his troops through training three times a day – re-iterating his desire for his new team to be the hardest working outfit in the Football League Championship.
And also high up on the head coach’s agenda is a requirement for his squad to live within close proximity of Leeds and that goes for the head coach as well.
Hockaday’s playing career centred around four settled periods at Blackpool, Swindon Town, Hull City and Shrewsbury Town.
Throughout all of those spells, Hockaday lived within close proximity to the club that employed him, and it was the same scenario when coaching at Cirencester Town and Watford and manager of Forest Green Rovers in Gloucestershire.
And now a permanent house move to Leeds is on the agenda, that is if United’s head coach can finally find five minutes to get his feet on the ground after a hectic but enjoyable initial rollercoaster ride with Leeds. Hockaday told the YEP: “As a player I always went and settled in within 20 miles of where I played. I just think that’s the right professional thing to do and that will now involve me as a head coach. I’m going to do it and we expect the players to do it.
“My feet haven’t really touched the ground because I came in and it was chaos and then we have been away to Italy. I’m in the process of moving and that’s going to happen over the next week or so. I want to get my feet under the table and be around Leeds as soon as possible.”
The Sedgefield-born manager says he was delighted with United’s training camp in spite of Sunday night’s scheduled opponents failing to show up.
And two factors dawned on Hockaday in Italy – the commitment of his players and the sheer passion of the team’s supporters.
“The place itself is ideal for pre-season training because there’s no distractions,” said United’s head coach.
“You’re in the mountains, there’s a training pitch, there’s a walk down and a walk back up to the hotel and the hotel was superb.
“The food was perfect for what you want – lots of carbs, lots of proteins and lots of vitamins and it was just a perfect base for me to get to know the players and vice versa. The players trained incredibly hard and the maximum they ever have which was good. I’d like to think it’s been a very, very positive two weeks of pre-season.”
Admitting he has already been somewhat staggered by the dedication of Leeds United’s fans, Hockaday beamed: “I’m just continually pleasantly surprised with the fervour of the Leeds fans and how far they will travel to go and watch their team play. Everybody seems to be behind me and the team and it’s basically a case of the last eight years haven’t been great in the club’s history. And they just want to see a team go out and give an honest hard-working performance and they will have that. That’s one thing I will guarantee. I’m looking forward to getting playing against English opposition and I obviously I cannot wait for my first game with Leeds United at Elland Road. That’s going to be special and something that will stay in the memory for a long, long time.”
That outing will present itself on Tuesday, August 12 when United welcome Accrington in the League Cup first round, three days after the Championship opener at Millwall. The head coach’s first home league game will be on Saturday, August 16 when the Whites welcome Middlesbrough. Hockaday believes Leeds United and Massimo Cellino will prove a match made in heaven and a marriage that he plans to be a big part of.
Hockaday revealed: “I met the president a number of times before I was officially introduced as the head coach and I had done my homework on him. I had no doubt that he would sort Leeds out.
“He came in and did what he had to do and he didn’t enjoy making unpopular decisions but if they needed to be done then they needed to be done.
“I’ve no doubt that the club will get stronger and stronger and stronger because he is a very clued up guy and he knows his football business as well as other business. I think it’s going to be a great marriage between the president and Leeds United football club and I think the club is going to get stronger and stronger.”
It’s certainly been a month to remember for Hockaday who must be about the only manager in the world to have won his first game in charge 16-0 against FC Gherdeina.
Hockaday now hopes he can continue to deliver the results to satisfy Cellino but United’s head coach knows he was actually dangerously close to potentially giving United’s owner something of a headache in his first game in charge. Cellino’s superstitious disliking of the number 17 is well documented and Hockaday said: “I’m just glad that we didn’t score another goal! “We told the referee to blow up early so that we didn’t score any more goals.
“Marco Silvestri also went goal for them and that’s probably why we didn’t get that extra goal because he made a couple of great saves.
“I’m glad that we put him in.”

Leeds United: Hockaday rules out panic buys

Yorkshire Evening Post 15/7/14
by Lee Sobot
HEAD coach David Hockaday says Leeds United won’t panic and be drawn into rushed transfer activity following the sale of Ross McCormack.
United returned from their pre-season camp in Italy yesterday with the Whites having so far made four pre-season signings in ’keepers Stuart Taylor and Marco Silvestre plus midfielder Tomasso Bianchi and striker Souleymane Doukara.
The latter joins on a season long loan from Calcio Catania to boost a forward line that had been limited to just Matt Smith, Dominic Poleon, Noel Hunt and Steve Morison following the sale of star striker McCormack to Fulham for £11m.
However, while Hockaday insists that key departures will be replaced, the head coach is adamant he will not rush into transfer activity without careful assessment.
Speaking just an hour after landing back into the UK, Hockaday told the YEP: ”I’ve said before that Leeds had some good players here last season and a number of them have gone including Ross.
“From my point of view, if we need to replace them we will replace them and we’ll do that as quickly as we can, but we won’t panic and we won’t do anything silly. We might have to show patience in some positions and some things might move quicker than others but it’s one of those things where if there’s a gap to fill we’ll fill it properly and professionally, but if needs patience we’ll show patience.”
Asked if there would be any recruits arriving this week, Hockaday replied: “That would be inappropriate to say and I’ve got to sit down with the president. We are back training on Thursday so I will have a chat with him then and we’ll see where we go from there.”
In the forward department, United have been linked with a move for AC Milan’s 19-year-old striker Andrea Petagna who spent part of last season on loan at Sampdoria. United have already landed two Italian recruits in Bianchi and Silvestre – both of whom have played for Italy’s under-21s.
Other names linked with a move to Leeds include Sampdoria’s Swiss right-back Gaetano Berardi and AIK midfielder Robin Quaison – but he looks to be on his way to Serie A side Palermo.
Leeds had also been linked with Rochdale striker/winger Scott Hogan though United issued a specific statement this weekend denying that there had been any approach for him.
The latest name added to the transfer speculation pot yesterday was centre-back Alex Bruce who could be in line for a second spell at the club if he leaves Hull City.
At present, 22-year-old French striker Doukara is the club’s most recent recruit and Hockaday says the loanee will typify the work ethic that he is looking for at Leeds United.
“I had his agent on trial at Watford many, many years ago and what I have said about us is that we will be honest and hard-working,” said Hockaday.
“That’s Doukara. He’s honest, he’s hard working and he will put in a shift.
“The Leeds United fans whatever he does or doesn’t do, they will not be able to say that he hasn’t put in a shift because he’s a hard working lad.”
After having today and tomorrow off, United’s players will return ti training on Thursday ahead of the club’s second pre-season friendly at Guiseley.
The Whites then visit Mansfield Town next Tuesday.
United’s first team have played just one official pre-season friendly so far which came through a 16-0 hammering of amateur side FC Gherdinia while in Italy.
Sunday night’s proposed opposition - Romanian side Viitorul Constanta - failed to show up leaving Hockaday to orchestrate an in house friendly between two United sides.

Only special players will make the cut at Leeds says Cellino

Yorkshire Post 14/7/14
LEEDS United owner Massimo Cellino has spoken of the need to have “special players” st Elland Road following the club’s surprise decision to pull out of a deal to take Swiss centre-back Jonathan Rossini on a temporary basis from Sassuolo.
Cellino said: “We want special players at Leeds United. Rossini didn’t show enough during the three days he trained with the rest of the team.”
Leeds completed deals with midfielder Tommaso Bianchi and striker Souleymane Doukara at the weekend. Bianchi, a former Italy Under 21 international, signed a four-year deal with Leeds after joining from Serie A side Sassuolo.
French-born Doukara arrives from Catania on a season-long loan deal with a view to a permanent switch.
25-year-old Bianchi, who spent last season on loan with Modena, had been training with Leeds at their northern Italy pre-season base for a number of days prior to his move being confirmed.
Head coach David Hockaday told the club’s official website: “Tommaso can play on the left, on the right, in the number 10 role and he can score goals.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Leeds United: Leeds forced to play Leeds after no-show from opponents Viitorul

Yorkshire Post 13/7/14
by Phil Hay
Leeds United were forced into a game between two sets of their own players after Romanian side Viitorul Constanta failed to turn up for a scheduled friendly.
United’s second pre-season fixture of the summer – due to be played at 4pm yesterday – was cancelled at the last minute following a bizarre no-show from Viitorul Constanta.
The Romanian top-flight club – owned by the legendary Gheorghe Hagi – had agreed to round off Leeds’ two-week tour of Italy with a match in Santa Cristina.
But United head coach David Hockaday was left to field two Leeds teams against each other in the absence of any opposition.
The cancellation ended a strange week in which United opened their pre-season programme with a 16-0 rout of local amateur side FC Gherdeina, setting a new record for their biggest ever pre-season victory.
A short statement from the club read: “United’s friendly match with Viitorul Constanta has now been called off due to the Romanian side failing to show up.
“The two sides were due to meet at Mulin De Coi for a scheduled match on Sunday at 5pm local time. But United have acted quickly and will now play a Leeds XI against a Leeds XI.
“This is for fitness reasons but mainly for the travelling United supporters that turned up to watch the friendly contest.”
Viitorul Constanta, whose first-team players have also been training in Italy, were asked to comment but are yet to respond.
Around 200 of United’s supporters were in Santa Cristina for yesterday’s friendly, a match which Leeds arranged towards the end of last month.
Hockaday’s squad have spent the past two weeks training in northern Italy but are returning to England today ahead of their next friendly at Guiseley on Saturday.
New signings Marco Silvestri and Tommaso Bianchi both featured in a contest staged between two United sides during three 20-minute periods.
The match finished 3-1 with Steve Morison, Noel Hunt and Rodolph Austin on target for the winning line-up and Matt Smith finding the net for the beaten team.
Leeds confirmed the addition of French forward Souleymane Doukara on a season-long loan over the weekend but did not involve him in their hastily arranged 11-a-side practice game.
The club, meanwhile, have unexpectedly pulled out of a deal to take Swiss centre-back Jonathan Rossini on a temporary basis from Sassuolo.
Like Doukara, Leeds planned to sign Rossini on a year-long loan with a view to a permanent move next summer and were on the verge of completing the signing last week, but the club are understood to have developed concerns about the defender’s fitness following his arrival at their training camp on Friday.
Owner Massimo Cellino said: “We want special players at Leeds United. Rossini didn’t show enough during the three days he trained with the rest of the team.”
United are continuing to chase Sampdoria right-back Gaetano Berardi, a 25-year-old who began his career at Brescia has been capped once by Switzerland’s national side.