Saturday, November 29, 2014

Leeds United: Redfearn set to unleash Adryan

Yorkshire Evening Post 29/11/14
by Phil Hay
Leeds United head coach Neil Redfearn plans to pin his colours to Adryan and give him free rein this season, admitting the Brazilian’s flair will be central to the club’s results.
Redfearn highlighted the increasing influence of Adryan at Elland Road and said the 20-year-old deserved licence to attack at will in the Championship after his recent performances.
Adryan’s impact has increased gradually since a belated debut away at Rotherham United last month and he turned in his most convincing display yet during a narrow defeat at Blackburn Rovers seven days ago.
The midfielder took more than a month to fight his way into the first team following his move to Leeds on a season-long loan from Flamengo but he has established himself over the past six weeks and will start for the sixth game running at home to Derby County today.
Redfearn, who is using Adryan behind a frontline of strikers Mirco Antenucci and Souleymane Doukara, said: “He’s more aware of where to go and where to receive the ball now. We need to get him in between the lines and shake him free.
“That’s down to other people’s movement. We’ve got to let him have that little bit of sugar and let him go and attack. If we do that then he’ll work the rest out – how to go past people, how to link in.
“The strikers’ movement when he gets free is important. If we can get Mirco and Souley down the sides of defenders then we’ll be dangerous. But Adryan’s done really well so far. His attitude’s good and he’s a driven boy.”
United owner Massimo Cellino worked relentless on a deal for Adryan in the summer, persuading Flamengo to cancel a previous loan at Cagliari and send him to Elland Road instead.
Leeds have an option allowing them to sign Adryan permanently for around £3m next summer, an option which the club are highly likely to take up if his form continues to impress.
The youngster has the reputation of a prodigious talent who lost his way in Brazil but he has already alleviated doubts about how he would cope in the Championship.
“He mixes it,” Redfearn said. “Particularly in the first half against Blackburn, he was instrumental in the good things we did.
“It’s now just about understanding how to get him on the ball.
“In this country with a number 10 usually the opposition stick somebody in there with them but the more we work with him, the more he’ll create and score himself.”

Phil Hay: GFH & Haigh should leave Leeds United out of their bitter row

Yorkshire Evening Post 29/11/14
by Phil Hay
Gulf finance house and David Haigh should leave Leeds United out of their very public squabble says YEP chief football writer Phil Hay.
Leeds United’s accounts for the 2013-14 season go to the Football League next week. They might actually be in the mail by now, ready for Monday’s deadline.
Analysis of 12 months in the hands of Gulf Finance House will demand a long drink and a comfy seat. Compiling them must have required Valium.
Business accounts are notorious for their lack of specific detail but given that the events of the last financial year fall squarely on GFH’s head, these figures might be more explicit than most. How much we see and when we see it depends on the club – Companies House don’t publish the accounts until the end of March – but at some stage the books will open.
If the numbers and the financial management exonerates GFH then we’ll take it back. We had them all wrong. They used to tell us that we had them all wrong, the Bahraini bank and David Haigh, but ordinary people take as they find. It’s hard to shake the impression of desperate men fighting over scraps of dignity when GFH and Haigh squabble as pathetically as they did last week.
The exchange between them was amusing, puerile stuff. Last Tuesday, the website of GFH Capital – GFH’s private equity firm – began re-directing Internet users towards pages it would rather not be associated with. By Friday, its Twitter account was tweeting personal contact details of senior GFH staff and other choice messages referencing to Leeds United. The website is still active but the Twitter account has gone. Enough fun for a few days.
GFH blamed “associates” of Haigh, who is under arrest in Dubai and facing allegations of fraud made against him by the bank. Haigh did not deny involvement but, in a long-winded response, accused GFH of hacking his own online accounts. This is how it went at the start of the year when Leeds were for sale and GFH and Haigh were desperately trying to tie Massimo Cellino’s money down: claim, blame, counter-blame, bulls***. A world of accusations where no-one was culpable and everyone else had more to answer for. Tired of it? I’d say we were.
The deflection was tiring. The flimsy PR was tiring. Among the points of interest in the 2013-14 accounts will be the amount of cash spent by Leeds on media agencies in that period, at a time when the club had a very capable press office. Tens of thousands of pounds, according to some. In a recent court hearing in Dubai – part of the ongoing dispute between GFH and Haigh – the judge, Justice Sir David Steel, stated that Haigh continues to spend around $10,000 a month on “PR/Media”. Old habits, dying hard.
Haigh’s latest statement, issued on Monday, ran to 1,315 words. Some of them are longer than Lord of the Rings. GFH is just as active when the subject of his arrest arises. It’s their prerogative but they are crossing a line in pretending that this is somehow Leeds United’s business; that Leeds United are at the centre of the argument. The truth is more brutal. The club want nothing to do with either of them. The club’s owner wants nothing to do with either of them. Cellino is in with GFH, a partner of sorts, but he would prefer to see them gone from Elland Road. Given the chance he would end GFH’s time as minority shareholder tomorrow.
What GFH wants from Leeds beyond money and a profitable return is unfathomable.
When it negotiated its Share Purchase Agreement with Cellino, the bank demanded specific shareholder rights: a corporate box on level four of Elland Road’s East Stand, two seats in the Lord Harwood Suite, two executive seats at away matches and parking spaces for both of its directors. Except it never uses any of that. It never comes near the green rectangle. Perhaps they don’t fancy the welcome they would get in Leeds. Or perhaps they are that disinterested.
Haigh made a fascinating comment in Monday’s statement. “GFH have no place in Leeds United and having been the one that (brought) them, I can only apologise to you,” he said, for the benefit of the club’s support. “I feel at least in part at fault for the shambles they created and the mess they left behind.”
Diminished responsibility, in other words, for a company he represented without knowing its true colours. A company he worked for at a senior level from December 2007 to April 2014. A company he was ready to discuss employment with again when GFH Capital invited him out to Dubai in May, only to have him arrested. It’s a poor attempt to play to a crowd who already hold the pre-Cellino regime in total contempt.
Haigh’s situation in Dubai is intolerable. There’s no morality in a legal system which detains someone without charge for six months.
The only caveat to that is that he does have the right to bail. It’s simply been set at the exorbitant cost of £3.5m and Haigh appears to have no-one rich enough or supportive enough to offer surety.
Without seeing the intricate details of the allegations against him or sitting through detailed court sessions in Dubai, all you can hope is that justice prevails. But there are two separate processes here: one, a legal case between GFH and Haigh over alleged financial irregularities. And the second, an attempt to apportion blame for all that went on at Elland Road during the 16 months when GFH had its way with the club.
On Monday, Haigh accused Hisham Alrayes – GFH’s chief executive and an ex-Leeds director – of instructing private investigators to remove data from computers in the Elland Road offices of former chairman Ken Bates, former chief executive Shaun Harvey, former technical director Gwyn Williams and former manager Neil Warnock. “This was carried out without permission or knowledge of the staff or those who were targeted,” Haigh said.
The claim is extraordinary but it is also vague. When exactly did this happen and how did it happen? What information did the investigators remove? When did Haigh learn of this and were Bates, Harvey, Williams or Warnock told of the raid? And if not, why not?
It brings to mind so much of what was said from January onwards: scratch beneath the surface and the substance is light. The accounts will expose more than any of the bitching. We’re being asked to pick sides and if any of it made any material difference to Leeds United then we might. But this isn’t football. Football is the games that GFH doesn’t want to watch. It’s the away crowd of almost 7,000 at Blackburn which neither they nor Haigh has ever been part of. It’s what’s happening on the ground and on Cellino’s difficult watch.
Quite whose interests are being served by this bitter dispute is hard to say but it’s easy enough to work out whose interests aren’t. So fight amongst yourselves, do what you have to but leave the club out of it. And give us peace.
****

Jordan Ibe is due at Elland Road with Derby County this afternoon, an 18-year-old loanee from Liverpool.
Alex Mowatt will be on the other side of the halfway line, a fixture in Leeds United’s first team.
The last time these two players shared the same pitch was at Anfield in March of last year. Ibe scored twice and Mowatt caught the eye as Liverpool’s Under-18s eliminated Leeds in the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup.
That’s the beauty of the Youth Cup. It’s a little glimpse of the future. The competition doesn’t allow for an over-age quota or any bending of the rules. It’s pure, unadulterated Under-18s football which jogs your memory a few years down the line.
Mowatt’s accomplished performance at Anfield – one of many in a season when he captained the Under-18s to the league title – put his hand up for a first-team debut. Ibe’s did likewise.
The following month, the winger played for Liverpool in a 1-0 win over Queens Park Rangers and again at home to Arsenal a year later.
He’s on loan at Derby County now and, like Mowatt, faring well. Others who played on Merseyside that night have come to prominence at Leeds – Lewis Cook, Chris Dawson, Lewis Walters, Alex Purver and Kalvin Phillips. Richard Naylor, who was Under-18s coach at the time, predicted as much.
“Some of them will definitely have a career in the game,” he said.
“Don’t worry about that.”
Leeds enter this season’s competition in the third round on Tuesday, at home to Chelsea. The scenario is similar to their tie at Liverpool two years ago: a squad which United have high expectations of against a group of players assembled at great expense.
Chelsea are top of their development league and took Arsenal’s Under-18s to the cleaners a week ago. The prospects of young players at Stamford Bridge is a moot point of discussion when each summer brings a Fabregas, a Diego Costa, or both but Chelsea spare nothing on their academy or their operations in general.
The unusual kick-off time of 7.05pm on Tuesday has been agreed at the request of Chelsea TV, slotting into their daily schedule. Tickets for Elland Road on Tuesday cost £5 for adults and £2.50 for concessions.
There are far worse ways to spend a fiver.
The FA Youth Cup is today’s kids becoming tomorrow’s players – as Mowatt and Ibe, the picks of the game at Anfield, have both proved since that match.

Doukara wants more goals

leedsunited.com 28/11/14
United’s top scorer Souleymane Doukara wants to add even more goals to his game as he becomes more confident on the pitch.
To date the frontman has netted seven times for United – five times in the league and twice in the Capital One Cup – and he says that goals give him confidence on a matchday.
“When you score goals you gain confidence,” said Souleymane. “You know your partner and they know you.
“I want to score in every game.
“English football is my football. I love all the stadiums in the England and when I get onto the pitch I want to score and win the game . I want to play well.
“This is a hard league. You have to run and work hard to earn the game.
“It is physical and it’s not easy for new players to come into the Championship. I enjoy the physical side of the game, this is not a problem for me.”
The striker was among 15 new arrivals in the summer and he has praised some of the fellow new signings.
“We have a positive squad,” added Doukara. “We want to win all the games but that isn’t easy. We can win the game on Saturday.
“Adryan is a very big player for the team, so is Marco Silvestri. They are both big players for the team and I think they can do well for the whole season.
“Adryan is getting stronger and his confidence is getting better.
“I played against Mirco (Antenucci) last season in Italy and he is a very good striker.
“He is a big striker for us and I think he’ll score more goals for the team.”
United’s next game is against league leaders Derby County and Souleymane has spoken about remaining focused for the whole 90 minutes.
“I’m confident with the table. We just have to win some games and we’ll move up the table,” he said.
“We have a very good squad. We are happy to all stay together. The team is happy.
“It will be a big game and we will have to stay focused for the whole game.
“We want to win the game for the fans.”

Play with confidence - Redfearn prepared for Derby County's visit to Elland Road

leedsunited.com 28/11/14
Head coach Neil Redfearn wants his side to "play with confidence and enjoy the occasion" as they prepare for the visit of league leaders Derby County to Elland Road.
The Rams currently sit three points clear at the top of the Championship and have won their last three games on the bounce, while United’s form remains a concern with just one win from the last 10.
But Redfearn is encouraging his side to relish the challenge and believes the home advantage could play its part after enjoying victory last time out at Elland Road against Blackpool.
"I think they’ve had a fantastic season and it’s a great game for us," said Redfearn.
"Everybody will expect them to come and get a result against us but I think we’re in this position now where we’re an unknown quantity for teams . "I think we’re playing well. The last three performances, in general, have been good.
"We like to play at home, you can see that. We’ve had most of our better victories at home.
"We’ve got to go out there and play with confidence and enjoy the occasion.
"It’s a great game to play in and I know the players will rise. They’ll want to go and play in this sort of game, it’s a great game for them. It’s a good game to look forward to."
Derby endured Play-Off Final heartbreak at the end of last season but are now among the favourites to secure a return to the top-flight after an impressive turnaround since Steve McClaren’s appointment last September.
"If you look throughout the side, they’re quite a young side and they’ve got good balance in the side," said Redfearn.
"He’s changed one or two people. The boy Jordan Ibe who’s come in from Liverpool is going to be a threat if he plays from the left.
"Then there’s people like Will Hughes, these are outstanding young players. Then Chris Martin is central to everything they do.
"The ball goes into Martin and they get runners off him. They’re a dangerous side.
"But we’re aware of what they can do and I’ve made the lads aware of how they play and how they look to create."
However, Redfearn insists he would rather focus on the strengths of his own side and the direction he is looking to take them.
"I’m more interested in us, I’m more interested in what we do and how we perform because we’re trying to build on things," he said.
"We’re trying to build on performances, we’re trying to get results and if we can play anything like we have been playing in the last few games, it’ll be a good game.
"Then we need to be tough at both ends of the pitch to get the result."

Leeds United: Ipswich Town boss accuses Cellino of damaging Hunt’s career

Yorkshire Evening Post 28/11/14
by Phil Hay
Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy has welcomed the arrival of Noel Hunt on loan from Leeds United – and then accused Leeds owner Massimo Cellino of damaging Hunt’s career with false claims about the striker’s wages.
Hunt joined Ipswich on an emergency loan yesterday, securing a move to a side that is fourth in the Championship despite making only two appearances this season and failing to score a first-team goal in 18 months at Leeds.
McCarthy said he had signed a “very good Championship player” and suggested Hunt’s prospects at Elland Road had been ruined by Cellino’s claim that the 31-year-old was earning £25,000 a week. The allegation was made in a telephone conversation held with Cellino and recorded without his knowledge prior to his takeover of Leeds in April.
Hunt’s weekly wage at United is substantially less than the figure quoted by Cellino. The Italian is thought to have been referring to Jimmy Kebe, the winger on loan with Leeds at the time. Asked why Hunt had struggled for games, McCarthy said: “Part of the reason might be that somebody announced he’s on 25 grand at Leeds and he can’t walk down the street because they (the supporters) turn on him. That’s not helped him at all but he’s on nowhere near that much. The new owner said it before the takeover and it’s had a detrimental effect on his career at Leeds. I’m delighted to get him. He’s a very good Championship player. Who knows what will happen between now and Christmas? We’re okay at the moment but if we get injuries then we’d start scratching around. You can’t have too many strikers.”
Hunt has joined Ipswich until January 3. The terms of his loan prevent him from playing in next weekend’s game between Leeds and Ipswich at Portman Road.

Leeds United: Redfearn rallies behind Silvestri

Yorkshire Evening Post 28/11/14
by Phil Hay
Leeds United goalkeeper Marco Silvestri will retain his starting place against league leaders Derby County after a glowing vote of confidence from head coach Neil Redfearn.
Redfearn rallied behind Silvestri after his recent mistakes and said the 23-year-old was assured of selection at Elland Road tomorrow, describing him as a “top young goalkeeper.”
Silvestri took the blame for the costly blunder which contributed to United’s 2-1 loss at Blackburn Rovers last weekend, the second time in a month that the former Chievo player has been at fault for a goal.
Redfearn reacted to the incident – a hurried clearance which struck defender Liam Cooper and presented Blackburn striker Jordan Rhodes with a tap-in – by saying Silvestri “needs to learn” and eradicate errors from his game.
Leeds’ 3-1 defeat at Cardiff City at the start of November was sealed when Silvestri collided with Giuseppe Bellusci five minutes from time, leaving Kenwyne Jones to find an empty net.
But Redfearn, who has former Arsenal and Reading keeper Stuart Taylor in reserve, reiterated his faith in Silvestri last night and said he had given no thought to dropping him for tomorrow’s clash with Derby.
“The number of points he’s won us this season far outweighs the number of points he’s cost us,” Redfearn said. “We’ve got to put these things into perspective.
“I was as frustrated as the players after Saturday and I wear my heart on my sleeve so perhaps at that moment there was no perspective in what I said.
“He’s a top young keeper and he’s been outstanding. I think back to the first game I had as caretaker (in August) when we played Bolton. He was absolutely unbelievable and he won us the game. At 1-0 they came onto us and put us under pressure and if he hadn’t have played like he did then it would have been a different matter. You’ve got to give praise where praise is due.
“Every now and again people are going to make mistakes. The difference in professional football is that when you make mistakes you’ve got 20,000 who see it. In the average workplace, you and your mates see it.
“We’ve got to give him belief but he isn’t a problem. He’s a confident boy anyway and for me, he’s playing well.”
Leeds brought Silvestri – a player who United owner Massimo Cellino described as the “best goalkeeper in Serie A” – to Elland Road from Chievo in July, signing him on a four-year deal for a fee of around £400,000. His position has rarely been threatened by the more experienced Taylor and Silvestri has started all of United’s 18 league games.
Redfearn admitted that he had been overly critical of his side in the immediate aftermath of their loss at Blackburn, a result which dropped the club to within two points of the Championship’s 
bottom three, saying: “The bottom line is that we played well. It was important they understood that on Monday.
“There’s no point in me talking about the importance of performances if I let my heart rule my head when the lads play well. But when we play well we do need to win. It’s about getting that happy medium.
“By and large we defended quite well against Blackburn but keeping clean sheets is about minimising mistakes and making the right decisions.
“We want to pass and be creative but sometimes when you’re under pressure you just have to clear your lines. They do it everywhere in the world, even at Real Madrid. We’re no exception.”

Leeds United striker Ajose admits he wanted to leave for ‘months’

Football League World 27/11/14
BY SAM ROURKE
Nicky Ajose, who is currently on loan at Crewe Alexandra from Leeds United, has admitted he has wanted to leave the Yorkshire club for months.
The 23-year-old striker was signed by ex-Leeds United head-coach David Hockaday back in August, however he found his first-team opportunities severely limited at the Championship outfit.
Speaking to the Crewe Alexandra official site, Ajose said: “I`ve wanted to come out for probably about three months now. It`s been difficult to say the least to get out to come and play football. It`s been going on a while now for the possible opportunity to come and play here and finally it`s been done and I`m looking forward to getting back to doing my job.
“I want to play football on a Saturday afternoon. I`ve been training on Saturday afternoons for the last three months so having that opportunity to get involved with a squad on a Saturday is something I`m going to relish.”
Ajose has an abundance of Football League experience, having had spells at Bury, Peterborough, Scunthorpe, Chesterfield,Crawley Town, Bury, Swindon and Leeds United.
Crewe Alexandra currently lie rock bottom of the Sky Bet League One table, having accumulated only 15 points from 18 league games, and manager Steve Davis will be hoping Ajose can inject some much-needed goals into the team.

Haigh and Nooruddin finally quit Leeds board

Yorkshire Post 27/11/14
Companies House confirmed today that David Haigh and Salah Nooruddin have resigned from Leeds United’s board - several months after the two men actually quit as directors.
The departures were announced on Companies House’s website, despite Haigh and Nooruddin tendering their resignations around April of this year.
Haigh stepped down as United’s managing director days after current club owner Massimo Cellino completed his takeover.
The 36-year-old, who is currently under arrest in Dubai and facing allegations of fraud, was in line to become chief executive under Cellino but left Elland Road after a fall-out with the Italian.
Gulf Finance House - the Islamic investment bank which sold 75 per cent of Leeds to Cellino - confirmed today that Nooruddin also resigned from the board in the aftermath of Cellino’s buy-out.
Nooruddin held the position of chairman at Elland Road and, under the terms of the Share Purchase Agreement between GFH and Cellino, was due to stay in that post until the end of this season.
But a statement from GFH said: “Salah chose to step down as chairman following Massimo’s takeover.”
No explanation has been given for the delay in Companies House confirming his resignation or that of Haigh.
Nooruddin - a minority shareholder at Leeds - was one of two directors appointed to the board by GFH, which continues to manage a 25 per cent share in United.
Salem Patel remains as a director and GFH revealed that Jinesh Patel, the CEO of Dubai-based GFH Capital, joined him on the Leeds’ board earlier this year. “In addition to Salem, who remains, Jinesh Patel was appointed to the board since July,” the statement added.

Leeds United: Wootton joins Rotherham United on loan

Yorkshire Evening Post 27/11/14
by Phil Hay
Leeds United defender Scott Wootton has joined Rotherham United on loan.
The former Manchester United and Liverpool trainee will stay with Rotherham until January 10.
Wootton, who moved to Leeds from Manchester United in the summer of 2013, has struggled for opportunities at Elland Road and follows Noel Hunt and Nicky Ajose out of the club.
Hunt joined Ipswich Town earlier today and Nicky Ajose’s emergency loan to Crewe Alexandra was confirmed yesterday afternoon.
The Football League’s loan window close at 5pm tonight. Leeds are not expected to make any new signings before the deadline.

Leeds United v Derby County: Redfearn urges fans to keep the faith

Yorkshire Evening Post 27/11/14
by Lee Sobot
NEIL Redfearn has urged Leeds United’s aching fans to keep the faith, insisting a change in fortunes could be imminent ahead of Saturday’s visit of leaders Derby County.
United sit 16th in the Championship table and just two points above the dropzone after picking up just one victory from their last ten league games.
However, Redfearn knows his Whites side were mightily unlucky to lose 2-1 at Blackburn Rovers last weekend with the head coach insisting the United tide will turn if performances such as last Saturday’s are matched on a continued basis.
The Whites head coach also believes United’s fans recognise his side’s recent improvement - with the 49-year-old believing a passionate home crowd could be integral in dealing with the division’s leaders on Saturday afternoon.
Redfearn said: “Our crowd is a massive advantage - anywhere really as we take numbers wherever we go but particularly at home at Elland Road when it’s a full house.
“And I think to be fair to the fans, even looking back to the Blackburn game - I know they were disappointed with what happened at the end but they got behind the lads for most of the game and they could see we were trying to do the right things.
“They could see we were trying to play football the right way.
“It’s frustrating that we don’t get the right result - I understand that - but I know full well from experience in my own career that successful sides are built on the performance being right.
“After that the results usually follow and I think we’re going down that road.
“We’re only a few games into this process after the caretaker role and I think we are are going in the right direction.
“Playing Derby is the toughest fixture in the division at the moment - it has to be because they are top of the league.
“But it’s a good game for us. We’re an unknown quantity to them but we know we’re playing well.”

Hunt heads for Ipswich - Striker departs in loan deal until January

leedsunited.com 27/11/14
Striker Noel Hunt has joined Championship rivals Ipswich Town on an emergency loan deal until January 3.
Hunt, who arrived at the club from Reading last summer, has made just two United appearances so far this season and has been out of the first-team picture since mid-August.
The 31-year-old, signed by Brian McDermott in July 2013, has been playing regularly in the club’s Under-21s side after falling down the pecking order at Elland Road.
His debut season at United also proved to be a frustrating one as he was hampered by injury problems and failed to score in any of his 20 appearances.
Hunt will now link up with Mick McCarthy’s side and older brother Stephen at Portman Road, where United travel on December 6. However, the striker will be ineligible to play against his parent club.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Leeds United must do better, insists Antenucci

Yorkshire Evening Post 26/11/14
Leeds United striker Mirco Antenucci says the club are under-performing in their current league position, but will click into form soon with Saturday’s game against Championship leaders Derby County looming.
Antenucci urged Leeds to “get out of this situation” after a cruel 2-1 defeat at Blackburn Rovers last weekend left the club two points above the relegation places and facing up to a run of one win in 10 matches.
United turned in one of their strongest away performances of the season at Ewood Park, but a defensive error and a late penalty – an incident which led to accusations of diving against Rovers striker Luke Varney – resulted in an eighth league defeat.
Antenucci, who almost won Saturday’s visit to Lancashire with a late shot which struck a post with the game level at 1-1, expressed his disappointment at Leeds’s league position, but said he was confident of a marked improvement after four months with the squad.
Derby come to Elland Road this weekend, seven days after moving three points clear at the top of the Championship following a spirited away win at Watford.
“We can and we must do more because the team has the potential to do so,” Antenucci told Italian media.
“On a personal level the goal is to score as many goals as possible and help the team collect more points. We have to find continuity and get ourselves out of this situation, but I’m sure it will improve soon.”
A quarter of United’s league goals this season have come from Antenucci, the forward signed on a two-year deal from the Italian side Ternana in August. The 30-year-old almost notched his sixth of the term in the closing stages of Saturday’s match, but was denied when his low strike crashed off the inside of a post.
Souleymane Doukara claimed United’s goal with a 33rd-minute finish against Blackburn, his seventh in all competitions, but head coach Neil Redfearn reserved praise for Brazilian playmaker Adryan after his lively contribution at Ewood Park.
Adryan laid on Doukara’s goal from a corner having earlier gone close with a shot from 20 yards.
The 20-year-old came to England on loan from Flamengo with a reputation for unfulfilled potential, but Redfearn said: “He’s getting better and better because he’s getting fitter and fitter.
“He looks the part now and his touch, his awareness, his movement and his range of passing are there to be seen. He’s a tremendous talent and we’ve got to utilise him and get him on the ball as much as we can.”

Leeds United: Crewe Alexandra linked with loan move for Ajose

Yorkshire Evening Post 25/11/14
by Phil Hay
Crewe Alexandra are being linked with a loan move for Leeds United striker Nicky Ajose ahead of Thursday’s emergency deadline.
The out-of-favour forward could complete a switch to Gresty Road until January, provided Leeds and Crewe succeed in reaching a deal over his wages.
Ajose has been made available by United head coach Neil Redfearn just four months after joining Leeds in a £150,000 move from Peterborough United.
The 23-year-old - a target of former United boss David Hockaday - signed a three-year contract in August but has drifted away from the first-team picture after only a handful of appearances.
Crewe are bottom of League One after taking just 15 points their first 18 matches and have targeted new strikers after averaging less than a goal a game.
Ajose is one of several players who Redfearn is looking to move out of Thorp Arch before Thursday’s 5pm deadline.

Leeds United: Hunt heads surplus to requirements list

Yorkshire Evening Post 25/11/14
Head coach Neil Redfearn is unlikely to have any new arrivals before the loan transfer market shuts. Phil Hay reports.
The emergency loan window has always been a biannual event for Leeds United. The club often used it to compensate for the investment they failed to make in the weeks of FIFA’s official transfer window.
This season, Leeds have barely shown an interest in the loan market. Or have barely shown an interest until now. Massimo Cellino was not joking when he said that short-term signings were “a waste of money” and the equivalent of “coaching another team’s player.” This type of move he tends to avoid.
The temptation to use this emergency market, especially in the days before Thursday’s deadline, might have got to Cellino on account of the fact that he expects to incur a transfer embargo from the Football League in January – imposed for a breach of Financial Fair Play rules – but the loan window is likely to close at 5pm on Thursday without any new arrivals.
Cellino carried out his business before the start of September and, in his view, 15 summer signings provided enough resources to see Leeds through both halves of the Championship season.
The last-minute deals for striker Brian Montenegro and centre-back Dario Del Fabro – neither of whom have featured significantly for the first team – were sealed with the specific purpose of preparing for a January embargo and guarding against a shortage of players.
Leeds, like every other Championship club, have until this Monday to supply the Football League with their accounts for the 2013-14 season and the governing body will use those figures to determine which clubs have breached their FFP regulations.
There has been talk at Leeds recently of potential loopholes or the possibility of an amnesty ahead of the January window but speaking on November 4, Cellino said: “We took on a bad financial situation and I covered that. But we are facing an embargo.”
Regardless of that impending punishment, the club’s priority in the next 24 hours – and the priority of their head coach, Neil Redfearn – will be the negotiation of agreements which ship surplus players out of Elland Road. Redfearn has spoken with Cellino and Leeds’ sporting director, Nicola Salerno, about the option of bringing in new players – finding what he called “a bit of help and some Championship experience” for a team who are playing well enough but have recorded just one league win in 10 – but Redfearn is more focused on the negotiations of departures.
The late arrival of Montenegro and Del Fabro in August took the number of names in United’s first team squad to more than 30. In basic terms, Leeds have numbers to work with but Redfearn has all but erased certain individuals from the picture.
Shortly after his appointment as head coach, the 49-year-old began “thinning down” his squad; creating two training groups by dividing the wanted and unwanted players. “It’s not personal,” said Redfearn, “and I can’t fault the attitude of the lads who aren’t involved but some of them aren’t going to play and some of them need to move on. They realise that themselves.
“It’s not healthy to have a big squad where a group of lads know that they’re going through the motions in training. We need to get players out.”
Cellino’s dislike of incoming, short-term loans is matched by his dislike of cut-price, emergency exits. United’s owner has stated in the past that he is averse to transfers where clubs allow footballers to leave while continuing to pay a large portion of their salaries. His preference would be for teams interested in available professionals to take on most if not all of their weekly wages.
There are, however, a number of relatively high earners among those who Redfearn is happy to lose. Noel Hunt, whom Cellino talked about as a potential club captain at the start of the summer, is understood to earn over £10,000 a week. He has played only twice this season. United’s head coach is also ready to listen to offers for Luke Murphy, David Norris, Nicky Ajose and Scott Wootton. Between them those players have started eight league games since August.
Norris is believed to have attracted interest during the summer transfer window and was looking to leave on loan before the start of September. A move failed to materialise. Cellino has considered the idea of negotiating settlements to terminate both his and Hunt’s contracts but both players remain on the books.
Leeds have had expressions of interest in a number of players in the past week and Redfearn and Cellino met on Monday afternoon to discuss their next move. Redfearn is adamant that deals need to be done.
“It’s about getting the squad right,” he said. “It’s not that we don’t have numbers here or that we don’t have experienced players – it’s just that some of those players need a change of scene or a fresh start.”
In the meantime, he is also looking for Leeds to finalise the appointment of an assistant coach, almost a month after he took on the job full-time.
Redfearn has identified Huddersfield Town’s Steve Thompson – his former Bolton Wanderers team-mate – as the coach he wants and Huddersfield manager Chris Powell admitted last week that he would not obstruct an approach from Leeds if Thompson wanted to move to Elland Road.
Huddersfield, though, are insisting on a payment of compensation for Thompson, who joined the club as Mark Robins’s No 2 earlier this year, and they and Leeds are yet to meet in the middle.
“It’s ongoing at the moment and I can’t force it any more than I have,” said Redfearn. “The club are trying to do their bit and that’s where it’s at – an impasse at the moment. Ideally, we can get that sorted sooner rather than later.”

Leeds United: Players unable to make an impact at Elland Road
Phil Hay casts his eye over the players who he thinks could leave Leeds United by the end of the loan transfer market.
The players who could leave:
Noel Hunt - “A beautiful guy,” Massimo Cellino calls him but a player who would seem to have no future at Leeds. Hasn’t played since the first week of the season.
Luke Murphy - A £1m signing whose impact at Elland Road failed to match the price tag. Looks highly unlikely to figure under Neil Redfearn.
David Norris - Easy to forget that the midfielder’s still here. Norris - a Neil Warnock signing - has been anonymous for a year and a half.
Nicky Ajose - Brought in by David Hockaday and took up a three-year contract as recently as August. Hasn’t had a look in for three months.
Scott Wootton - Made a couple of league starts earlier in the term but has consistently struggled to nail down a place following his transfer from Manchester United.
Zac Thompson - United have persevered with Thompson, a youngster they took from Everton’s academy but the versatile defender is a long way from the first team now.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Seniors must step up says Warnock as Leeds hover above drop zone

Yorkshire Post 25/11/14
STEPHEN Warnock has vowed to use his experience to lift Leeds United’s young players in the aftermath of Saturday’s cruel 2-1 defeat at Blackburn Rovers.
A youthful Whites looked to be heading for an important victory after Souleymane Doukara’s strike had given Neil Redfearn’s side a 1-0 lead at the break. But a mix-up between ’keeper Marco Silvestri and Liam Cooper gifted Jordan Rhodes an equaliser and despite having Tom Cairney sent off Rhodes snatched victory with a late penalty awarded for Sam Byram’s foul on Luke Varney.
United are now two points above the drop zone ahead of Saturday’s visit of leaders Derby County but Warnock said: “We are a young team aside from myself and probably Mirco (Antenucci) and us and the rest of the lads around the place such as (Michael) Tongey and Stewie Taylor have got to try and lift the place and get them going. We are senior players and that is what senior players do. I am sure Redders will try and lift the lads this week and I am sure the senior boys will do that as well.”
Head coach Redfearn has just three days if he wishes to strengthen the club with a new loan signing with the emergency loan window closing on Thursday.

Blackburn 2 Leeds United 1: We paid penalty for our mistakes - Warnock

Yorkshire Evening Post 24/11/14
by Phil Hay
Stephen Warnock described an “angry” dressing room and said Leeds United were paying the price for “stupid mistakes” after a second-half blunder and a debatable penalty led to a 2-1 defeat at Blackburn Rovers.
Leeds were left to rue their own failings and the award of a contentious, 88th-minute spot-kick as Blackburn fought back from a goal down at Ewood Park to snatch a victory with only 10 men.
United opened the scoring in the first half through Souleymane Doukara and looked comfortable for the best part of an hour but Jordan Rhodes equalised when a collision between Leeds goalkeeper Marco Silvestri and defender Liam Cooper presented the striker with a tap-in.
Both Leeds head coach Neil Redfearn and left-back Warnock laid the blame for the 71st-minute concession at Silvestri’s door but Redfearn in particular was angered by the match-winning penalty which Rhodes converted two minutes from the end.
Referee Kevin Wright punished a challenge by Sam Byram on ex-Leeds striker Luke Varney, who Redfearn accused of “simulation”.
Warnock claimed later that the Cambridgeshire official was “waiting to give it.”
“There is a bit of anger with the stupid mistakes we made with their first goal,” Warnock said.
“It cost us the game because it put them on the front foot. Sometimes that drags you down. A few heads dropped and we should have reacted a lot better. We knew we had enough in us to score another goal.
“We need to cut out the errors because if they don’t score that first goal, we win the game. I’m confident of that.
“We all know what this league is like. You don’t have to be the best team in the league to get out of it. You have to be organised, resilient and well-drilled. At the moment we are to a certain point but we’re conceding silly goals.”
Silvestri was guilty of dithering over a straightforward clearance, eventually striking it against the body of a retreating Cooper and giving Rhodes clear sight of an empty net.
United’s Italian keeper – a leading performer for much of this season – was guilty of a similar mix-up with Giuseppe Bellusci during Leeds’ 3-1 defeat to Cardiff City at the start of the month.
Warnock said Silvestri should have given Cooper space to hack the ball away himself or advanced quickly from his goalline to avert any danger.
“Everyone knows he made a mistake and he knows it,” Warnock said. “I think we’ll probably speak about it (today). It needs addressing because it’s happened a couple of times now.
“He either stays on his line and makes Coops make a decision or, if he is coming, he comes all the way. It’s as simple as that.
“If he keeps a clean sheet and Coops goes off injured or whatever then so be it. That’s not being nasty to Coops. You’ve got to make a big decision and keep the ball out of the net.”
Warnock, however, said Leeds felt “robbed” after Wright’s decision to penalise Byram for his tackle on Varney. Blackburn had been reduced to 10 men eight minutes earlier, with Tom Cairney dismissed for a second bookable offence, and the penalty came 10 minutes after United striker Mirco Antenucci struck a post.
“Sam doesn’t believe it was a penalty,” Warnock said. “But in and around the box, you know that once you stick a leg out anything can happen. The referee was waiting to give it.
“The referee couldn’t wait to give it and that’s the way the game has gone. We feel a bit robbed.”
Leeds are 16th in the Championship with one win in 10 games, though Redfearn insisted afterwards that United had shown promising signs throughout Saturday’s match.
Warnock, pictured above, said: “We did very well. There were periods in the second half where the game got stretched and we were resilient. But once the goal goes in, it’s a different game suddenly.
“You always worry when you’re in a (league) position like ours so the quicker we get results, the quicker we start climbing the table. Then everyone will be happy.”
Warnock, meanwhile, paid tribute to United’s support after a crowd of 6,839 – the biggest Championship following of the term – made the trip to Lancashire on Saturday.
“We were probably the only club in the country, especially in the Championship, who would bring that many away fans,” the former Liverpool defender said. “It was incredible.”

Blackburn 2 Leeds United 1: Whites lament what might have been

Yorkshire Evening Post 24/11/14
by Phil Hay
There is nothing at Leeds United – no breathing space or margin for error – allowing the club to lose as they lost at Ewood Park. Neil Redfearn knows it and the road home from Blackburn on Saturday was long and quiet for him.
His team cannot capitulate like this. Not when they play as well as this. Not when they lead until the 71st minute, stifle one of the Championship’s better striker partnerships, finish the game with an extra man and benefit from an away crowd half the size of Clitheroe’s population.
There was a difference of opinion about all sorts of issues afterwards and while Gary Bower, the Blackburn Rovers manager, talked up his side and the penalty which won the game, Redfearn lamented a day when everything that could have gone wrong did.
“We deserved to win,” Redfearn said, and it seemed possible that Bowyer might privately agree that Leeds had earned more than a post mortem. Rovers’ strikers, Jordan Rhodes and Rudy Gestede, have 17 goals between them this season but Rhodes needed a hideous error and a late penalty to settle the match. Two finishes from him in the final 19 minutes made Souleymane Doukara’s earlier goal a distant, irrelevant memory.
Those wounds denied Redfearn the chance to dwell on pleasing subjects like Adryan’s class in the first half, the general attitude of his players or two centre-backs who faced down Rhodes and Gestede in open play. Instead, he focused on the confusion between Marco Silvestri and Liam Cooper that presented Rhodes with a tap-in and the penalty which the Scotland international buried two minutes from time.
Bowyer said the penalty – given for a challenge by Sam Byram on Luke Varney, the player who Brian McDermott bombed out of Elland Road last season – was a “stonewaller”. A few yards up the touchline, Redfearn saw a dive. “That’s never been a penalty,” United’s head coach said but the referee, Kevin Wright, thought otherwise.
Rhodes, who had missed his previous spot-kick at the same end of Ewood Park, tucked it safely to Silvestri’s left.
Blackburn were playing with 10 players at that staged, reduced in numbers by the sending off of Tom Cairney for a second yellow card on 80 minutes. Seconds before Cairney’s exit, with the scores level at 1-1, Mirco Antenucci had ghosted in behind Rovers’ defence and hammered a shot off the inside of a post. It was one of those days, and no mistake.
“Blackburn didn’t deserve anything,” Redfearn said. “They huffed and puffed in the second half but we dealt with them and we were the better side.
“We gave them the first goal and the second goal was a penalty which has never been a penalty. But there’s no point in me berating our luck.
“This is a young side and we’ve got to learn to get across the line because for 70 per cent of the game we were excellent. Blackburn got frustrated.” Rovers’ discomfort was evident from the moment Doukara turned home a corner on 33 minutes to the crucial juncture in the second half when Silvestri hacked a dithering clearance against the body of Cooper, leaving Rhodes to run the ball into an empty net.
The goalkeeper – one of Leeds’ better players this season – has been here before and very recently; involved in an identical blunder which confirmed Leeds’ defeat at Cardiff City three weeks ago.
Blackburn’s equaliser came during their firmest spell of pressure, and Redfearn may wonder in hindsight if earlier substitutions would have kept Leeds in a higher gear, but the concession was self-induced. Prior to it, Cairney had hit the crossbar with a curling shot from 20 yards and Ben Marshall’s low shot drew a scrambled save from Silvestri but their attacks in the first half were at arm’s length, a mile away from Rhodes and Gestede.
Leeds played in Redfearn’s fashion before half-time; passing religiously in open and tight spaces and squeezing Rovers until Bowyer’s defence gave in after the half-hour. Goalkeeper Jason Steele delayed the opening goal with a brilliant save, getting his fingertips to Adryan’s beautiful hit from the edge of the box, but Doukara was unmarked from a corner that followed and bundled the ball in at the far post.
There was class and precision in that period, and Redfearn duly highlighted it, but Leeds are two points above the Championship’s bottom three at the early stage of a hard month and in a league which, Blackpool aside, is dangerously tight.
Bowyer was chipper at full-time, talking about Blackburn’s “desire, commitment” and the usual attributes managers seek but Saturday was not a game where Leeds looked 10 points or 10 places worse than the team who hosted them.
That, all the same, is what the table shows.
Blackburn, as Redfearn said, grafted in the early part of the second half and gradually they saw more of the game; more space, more gaps, extra seconds in possession.
Silvestri parried away a rising volley from Rhodes before his horrible tangle with Cooper opened the floodgates but the onslaught provoked by the equaliser should have been stopped dead by Cairney’s dismissal.
The former Leeds academy player had been booked in the first half for a foul on Tommaso Bianchi and he left himself prone by flying into a tackle on Cooper. “I’ve no complaints with that at all,” Bowyer said. “The ref got it right.”
Redfearn looked immediately for a winner, quickly forgetting about a chance which Antenucci drove against a post two minutes before Cairney’s sending off.
Leeds broke quickly after Jason Pearce knocked Marshall’s cross off his own goalline and Adryan’s pass sent Antenucci clean through.
The Italian sized up Steele and beat him with a clean hit but watched the ball come back off the frame of the goal.
“It was a good chance and usually Mirco sticks them away,” Redfearn said.
“He was unlucky really because it’s hit the inside of the post and come out. To be honest, I’m more concerned about the mix-up for Blackburn’s first goal. At that point Blackburn were struggling to create anything.”
There was little coming their way in the closing minutes until the ball arrived at Varney’s feet 70 yards up the field.
The forward ran at Byram, tempted the right-back to poke a leg out and tumbled with all the theatrics he could muster.
It went without saying that the incident would cause a disagreement between Redfearn and Bowyer but Rhodes kept his head and sent Silvestri the wrong way, stroking the ball safely into the net.
Redfearn’s players looked rattled at the final whistle and an away crowd of almost 7,000 – a phenomenal following which proved once again that nothing Leeds do will ever kill the addiction – drifted off in bewildered disappointment.
“There’s that something about us,” Redfearn said. “Whether it’s youth or a lack of experience, we’ve got to be more ruthless. There won’t be many people in the stadium who didn’t think we were worth a point. And to be honest, I’d have been gutted with that.”

Leeds United: Varney in the dock over dive accusation

Yorkshire Evening Post 23/11/14
by Phil Hay
Neil Redfearn accused former Leeds United striker Luke Varney of diving to win the penalty which condemned the Elland Road club to a dramatic defeat away at Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.
Redfearn, United’s head coach, claimed Varney had conned referee Kevin Wright into penalising a tackle from Sam Byram and handing Blackburn the chance of a 2-1 victory at Ewood Park.
Byram and Varney – a player who left Leeds for Blackburn on a free transfer in July – came together inside United’s box on 88 minutes with the game level at 1-1 and Rovers down to 10 men after the sending off of Tom Cairney.
Jordan Rhodes converted the opportunity to earn Rovers an unlikely win with his second goal of the game.
Blackburn manager Gary Bowyer described the penalty as a “stonewaller” but an angry Redfearn criticised Varney for “simulation” as he reflected on an intensely frustrating visit to Lancashire.
“The penalty was a joke,” Redfearn said.
“It’s difficult for referees, I understand that, but these are the decisions they’ve got to get right. What should have happened was a free-kick to us and a yellow card for simulation.
“It has to be said that it was a poor decision. I’ve seen it and looked back at it again but straight away it looked like a dive. It’s not good for football.”
Bowyer defended Varney, saying: “From where I stood, and I haven’t seen it again, it looked like a stonewaller.”
The incident rounded off an infuriating afternoon for Redfearn, whose side opening the scoring with a 33rd-minute goal from Souleymane Doukara and looked to be on course for a first away win since September.
Blackburn created little until the 71st minute when a woeful misunderstanding between Leeds goalkeeper Marco Silvestri and centre-back Liam Cooper left Rhodes clear and free to knock the ball into an empty net.
Silvestri, who commited a similar error at Cardiff City earlier this month, dithered as a through ball approached his box and a late reaction saw his clearance rebound off Cooper and into the path of Rhodes.
Redfearn said: “The goalkeeper’s coming onto that and he should clear it. If you’re coming onto it you’re favourite to clear it.
“It happened before at Cardiff and he’s got to learn from that.”
Leeds were supported by the Championship’s biggest away following of the season on Saturday, some 6,839 in a total attendance of 21,432, and Doukara’s sixth goal of the season took advantage of a positive and aggressive performance in the first half.
Doukara steered home an Adryan corner which dropped him inside Blackburn’s box, giving Leeds the scent of a first away success since their 3-1 win at Bournemouth more than two months ago.
Blackburn’s fightback, however, left United two points above the Championship’s relegation places, in the thick of a group of 10 clubs between 14th place and 23rd who are separated by just four points.
United’s next game is at home to leaders Derby County on Saturday. Derby are three points clear after a 2-1 win over Watford at Vicarage Road.
“The performance was very good,” Redfearn said. “I’ve got to take that fact into the next game. It’s building blocks for us at the moment and we’re young. We are prone to mistakes.
“If you look back through the season we’ve been accused of doing well in the first half and then going off it in the second but for most of this game we were good and we passed the ball really well.
“If we want to be successful and climb the table then we’ve got to get across the line but We defended as a team, we passed the ball, we countered and we played the ball out of tight situations.
“The result I’m disappointed with.”

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Blackburn Rovers v Leeds United: Redfearn rues late penalty

Yorkshire Evening Post 22/11/14
BITTERLY-DISAPPOINTED Leeds United head coach Neil Redfearn was left to rue a ‘poor decision’ by referee Kevin Wright in awarding Blackburn Rovers a controversial late penalty as the Whites dramatically went down 2-1 at Ewood Park.
Leeds were good value for a first-half lead thanks to Souleymane Doukara’s seventh goal of the season in the 33rd minute, only for two cheap concessions to turn the tables in front of almost 7,000 stunned travelling supporters.
A crazy concession on 71 minutes saw Rovers draw level when Marco Silvestri provided a horror moment in failing to make a routine clearance when racing out of goal, with Jordan Rhodes tucking the ball into an empty net.
Then, two minutes from time, Rovers, down to ten men when ex-Leeds junior Tom Cairney was dismissed following his second caution on 82 minutes, were awarded a penalty after ex-Whites striker Luke Varney went down in the box after what looked like minimal contact from Sam Byram.
Rhodes coolly sent Silvestri the wrong way for his second goal of the game and secure the Lancastrians an unlikely win.
Redfearn rued: “We deserved to win and I don’t think Blackburn deserved anything. We gave them the first goal and the second was never a penalty. Referees have to get these things right.
“It was a poor decision. At the time, it looked like a dive and I have seen the DVD and it’s not good for football.”
Despite being furious with the penalty award, Redfearn admitted Leeds were architects of their own downfall for the equaliser 19 minutes from time, when Silvestri produced a horror moment akin to the game at Cardiff when failed to clear when racing out and bundling into Liam Cooper.
Redfearn said: “I was very concerned about the mix-up for the first goal. It happened at Cardiff.
“It should have been managing the game for Blackburn and making it difficult for them. It’s part of the learning process for us.”
Redfearn took solace from the visitors’ performance for seventy minutes in front of the biggest travelling support in the Championship this season and despite the crushing nature of the defeat, he insists that he won’t give the chance for players heads to be down after the demoralising nature of the loss.
He added: “You look at the supporters and the way they got behind us and the way they enjoyed what happened. It was only that last little bit that has let everything down.
“But that was the most important bit. And we have got to get across the line, if we are to be successful and win things and get back in the Premier League, which we do. These things are happen.
“I won’t give them chance to get down and they are not allowed to get down because at the end of the day, they are in a privileged position and have got to pick themselves up and battle and fight and play good football against Derby and go and get a good result and that’s what we have got to do.”

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Phil Hay: Thorp Arch not to blame for Leeds United’s ills

Yorkshire Evening post 22/11/14
Leeds United’s training ground has its detractors, but since it opened has produced its fair share of players – and financial income – for the Elland Road club.
The good news for Kalvin Phillips this week wasn’t the prospect of a day trip to Blackburn Rovers. It was the realisation that Leeds United are starting to think of him in that context. This is how is goes for graduates at Thorp Arch: a sniff, a taste and then the watershed.
On occasions Leeds dangle the carrot without offering an immediate chance to bite. Alex Purver, an 18-year-old midfielder, travelled to Birmingham City in September but did not make the bench and has not made his debut. Likewise, the intention with Phillips is to open his eyes, not to drown him at the deep end against an adept Championship club. In the end Leeds chose not to take him to Blackburn but his chance will come. The point is that he and others are on the doorstep. The line of academy players edging into the party shows no sign of ending.
It will be longer by default on the basis that Neil Redfearn is United’s head coach. He knows the kids, he’s loyal to them and he more than anyone will feel a duty to test their potential. You would call him a partial judge were it not for the fact that the players he puts forward keep shaking the ground. The past month has been Alex Mowatt’s best without exception. He’s the same Alex Mowatt whose face didn’t fit in David Hockaday’s light brigade.
There were other notable achievements during the international break. Eric Grimes, United’s 19-year-old goalkeeper, made his debut for the Republic of Ireland’s Under-21s. Eoghan Stokes, a teenage striker, scored for the Republic’s Under-19s in a European Championship qualifier against Malta. They all want what Mowatt, Lewis Cook and Sam Byram have got – domestic exposure and first-team appearances – but in terms of focus, Thorp Arch has become a broad church. Most of Leeds’ young professionals are finding a way of amounting to something.
All of which makes you question whether Thorp Arch deserves to be under threat. United’s training ground is under threat and has been since Massimo Cellino bought the club in April. He dislikes the complex and he has his reasons. The lease on the training ground is punitive and makes no financial sense. The location of Thorp Arch, 15 miles north of the centre of Leeds, is prohibitive for families who lack the means to transport youngsters. Back in the day, Fabian Delph needed three buses to reach the academy, albeit from his home in Bradford.
It strikes Cellino as an unlucky place too, though that’s as maybe. The facility as it stands was largely completed in 2002, the point when so much began to go wrong, but the brainchild of Howard Wilkinson made United the progressive club they were for several years before the collapse. Blaming Thorp Arch then was like blaming Thorp Arch now. The cost of rent aside, it’s the last of the problems if it even classes as a problem at all.
In an interview with the YEP before the international break, Cellino touched on the subject of building a new training ground. Since his takeover United have looked for suitable pieces of land in the centre of Leeds and have spoken to the city council about the many issues involved. Money is bigger than most. Southampton’s new academy cost £30m to build and Brighton are paying a similar amount for theirs. That consideration is secondary to discussions about how Leeds might extricate themselves from lease at Thorp Arch which runs until 2029 and currently costs £600,000 a year.
Youth development comes into the equation too. United’s academy has been under severe pressure for years, constrained by falling budgets, but something is working. Cellino was asked whether quitting Thorp Arch might weaken a decent production line. “The academy could do better,” he replied. Of course it could. By definition, a category-two academy could be better. But gaining a superior classification is, again, as much about money as it is a case of improving productivity.
The Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) is already so ingrained in English football that Leeds cannot attempt to work outside it. Their reputation, their attractiveness and their output will be maximised by acquiring category one status. But EPPP is not an Ofsted report. It’s not purely an analysis of working practices or coaching ability.
Category One academies need an operational budget of at least £2.5m. They need a minimum of 18 full-time staff and a certain standard of facilities. Last season, United’s bid for category two status was disrupted by a delay in installing a 3G astroturf pitch at Thorp Arch. The project was one of many things that ran out of cash towards the end of Gulf Finance House’s ownership. Cellino effectively footed the bill and the club passed the EPPP audit but that example demonstrates the tight framework that academies work within. Left to its own devices, United’s seems to cover the bases. That’s proven by the players who are streaming out of it. Something will give with Thorp Arch eventually. Cellino, quite reasonably, is bewildered by an agreement where Leeds pay rent through the nose forever and a day (or until 2029). But there’s risk involved with decamping at haste, whatever the motivation. Certain things have let Leeds down. Thorp Arch isn’t one of them.

**********
Gulf Finance House, Leeds United’s former owner and existing minority shareholder, rebranded itself on Monday. The Bahraini bank is now called GFH. That should make the world of difference.
Meanwhile, over in Dubai, GFH Capital – the private equity arm which arranged GFH’s takeover of Leeds in 2012 – was undergoing a more bizarre rebranding of its own. On Tuesday morning the company’s website began redirecting Internet users towards a newspaper report alleging that GFH’s buy-out of United was paid for in part by money from Iran, potentially in breach of UN sanctions. At the time of publication, GFH denied the suggestion and said it was “deeply defamatory.”
Later that day the website changed tack and instead displayed a tweet referring to unflattering reports about Esam Janahi, the main man at GFH when the bank bought Leeds.
By Wednesday morning a new link had appeared – this time showing the homepage of Naftiran Intertrade Company, a Swiss-based subsidiary of the National Iranian Oil Company. There was also a redirection to the complaints section of the Dubai Financial Services Authority’s website. GFH Capital was asked to comment on the significance of it all and explain what was happening with its homepage. Before a reply came, GFH Capital’s twitter feed joined in the fun yesterday by tweeting and retweeting messages openly attacking the company. Contact details for GFH employees Hisham Alrayes and Jinesh Patel were also published.
The domain name for GFH Capital’s website is controlled by David Haigh, the firm’s former deputy chief executive and United’s one-time managing director.
Haigh is presently under arrest in a Dubai police station, as he has been since May 18 when authorities there locked him up over allegations of financial wrongdoing made against him by GFH. As has been widely reported, the bank alleges that Haigh falsified invoices during his time as GFH Capital’s deputy CEO and defrauded the company of more than £3m.
Haigh denies the claims and has not been charged with any criminal offence, despite his long incarceration.
He is making counter-claims against GFH and says his arrest was designed to stop him levelling accusations of wrongdoing at the bank. Tuesday marked six months to the day since Haigh was detained. At the same time as GFH Capital’s website began going haywire, the 37-year-old’s Twitter account tweeted: “Everything starting to fall into place about the real wrongdoing and wrongdoers. Reports made to law enforcements agencies.”
That message was followed by an excerpt of the poem ‘Invictus’, written by William Ernest Henley as he recovered from the amputation of one foot following the onset of tuberculosis.
Invictus is best known as the poem read by Nelson Mandela to fellow inmates during his years of imprisonment on Robben Island.
Weirder and weirder.

Leeds United: Sharp is raring to go – Redders

Yorkshire Evening Post 22/11/14
Neil Redfearn believes Billy Sharp is ready to get his Leeds United career going after a quiet start to life at Elland Road.
United’s head coach said Sharp was looking fit and in-form following his recent return from a thigh injury and expects him and Steve Morison to begin putting pressure on the starting places held by Souleymane Doukara and Mirco Antenucci.
Sharp was one of United’s major summer signings and he scored a dramatic winner against Middlesbrough on his debut at Elland Road in August. But the 28-year-old has failed to find the net since then and last started a league game two months ago.
Morison has been limited to just two starts.
Redfearn said: “To be fair to Antenucci and Doukara, to say they’ve come from overseas and this is their first experience of the Championship, they’ve given a good account of themselves. They’ve put themselves in a good position.
“But that’s not to say there isn’t competition. Billy’s a proven striker and Steve’s a proven striker and they’ve done it the right way in training, They’re competing and that’s what I want.”

Ex-Leeds United owner GFH target of remarkable Twitter attack

Yorkshire Evening Post 21/11/14
by Phil Hay
Gulf Finance House, the ex-owner of Leeds United, appears to be the target of a remarkable attack in which contact details of senior bank officials have been published online by its own private equity firm.
A feed run on behalf of GFH Capital, the Dubai-based arm of GFH which bought Leeds in 2012, began attacking the bank earlier today in a series of rogue tweets aimed at the bank and leading employees.
The development came after a week in which GFH Capital’s official website began displaying a newspaper report alleging financial wrongdoing by the bank during its takeover of United two years ago, an accusation GFH denies.
Tweets on GFH Capital’s feed this afternoon have now published what it claims are private phone numbers of Hisham Alrayes and Jinesh Patel.
The account, which had been dormant since November 2012, began posting the extraordinary messages around lunchtime.
Alrayes is chief executive of GFH and was a board member at Elland Road until he resigned from that post in September 2013.
Patel is GFH Capital’s chief executive officer, a job he took up earlier this year. He holds a different role to Salem Patel, an existing Leeds director and GFH’s current head of investment management.
GFH owned Leeds for 14 turbulent months before finally selling a majority share in the club to Massimo Cellino in February.
The Bahraini investment bank continues to hold a 10 per cent stake and manages a minority shareholding of 25 per cent.
In a statement, GFH denied that the online sites had been hacked and blamed “associates” of former GFH Capital CEO and ex-United managing director David Haigh for the breaches.
“We can confirm that there has been no compromise of our corporate computer systems,” the statement read.
“We have now established that the ex-deputy CEO of GFH Capital, David Haigh, retained administrative rights over these web accounts after his employment ended and we believe that Mr Haigh, through his associates, is responsible for these malicious attacks on our web presence.
“We are taking urgent action to recover these web accounts and will pursue legal action against those that have perpetrated and assisted in these malicious acts while spreading false accusations and misinformation.”
GFH is currently involved in a bitter legal dispute with Haigh.
The 37-year-old was arrested in Dubai in May after GFH accused him of misappropriating more than £3m of funds during his time as GFH Capital’s CEO.
Haigh, who denies the claims and says he has evidence of wrongdoing by others at GFH, has been imprisoned without charge for the past six months.
He resigned from his post at GFH Capital in February but flew out to the Middle East on May 18 to discuss the offer of a new job from the firm. Haigh was arrested by local police shortly after arriving at the company’s offices.
Today’s tweets included what appeared to be text messages from Alrayes ordering the sacking of former Leeds manager Brian McDermott in January.
GFH is understood to have called for McDermott’s dismissal at half-time of a 6-0 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough on January 11.
Haigh - the only Leeds board member present at the game - refused to carry out the order and McDermott continued in his post.
Despite residing in a Dubai Police Station, Haigh’s twitter account has directed a series of critical messages at GFH this week.
One of them, which was posted on Tuesday, read: “Everything starting to fall into place about the real wrongdoing and wrongdoers. Reports made to law enforcements agencies.”

Leeds could take academy star Phillips to Blackburn

Yorkshire Post 21/11/14
LEEDS United academy product Kalvin Phillips could take a big step towards his first-team debut by featuring in the club’s travelling squad for tomorrow’s game at Blackburn Rovers.
Head coach Neil Redfearn - United’s former academy boss - is considering taking Phillips to Ewood Park on the back of his impressive run of form for Leeds’ Under-21s.
The 18-year-old midfielder caught the eye with two goals in a recent development-squad game against Nottingham Forest and Redfearn said last week that Phillips was “knocking on the door” of senior involvement.
Redfearn took another youngster, Alex Purver, to United’s Championship match at Birmingham City in September, naming Purver in his travelling group before omitting him from the final squad of 18.
Phillips, who signed a two-year professional contract in the summer, might be given the same treatment this weekend as Leeds go looking for their second away win of the season.
“It’s been in my mind,” Redfearn said. “Sometimes it’s good to give the young lads that experience.
“I did it with Alex Purver at Birmingham and It’s good to get them in the squad, round about it all. That’s an option for me.”

Leeds need to earn respect of league rivals, urges Redfearn

Yorkshire Post 21/11/14
Neil Redfearn wants Leeds United to evolve into a side that no team fancies playing in the Championship.
The Whites are eight points outside the play-offs when they resume play after the inetrnational break tomorrow with a a trip to Blackburn Rovers. It’s the first game in a sequence of tough-looking fixtures for Leeds.
Derby County, who head the division with 32 points, come to Elland Road next weekend and Leeds will play Ipswich Town, Fulham, Nottingham Forest, Wigan Athletic and Derby again before the start of January.
“It’s not so much crunch time,” Redfearn said, “but it is a tough run of games.
“We’ve got to get ourselves into a position where we’re more consistent and more thorough so Blackburn look and think, ‘oh, we’ve got Leeds on Saturday’; so Ipswich think ‘oh, we’ve got Leeds on Saturday’; so Derby think ‘we don’t fancy going there.’
“We’ve got to make them think about us so the more consistent we are and the more we portray that image, the better we’ll be.
“At the moment I think other teams aren’t sure about us. They’re not sure what they’re going to get.
“They realise that on our day we’re a decent side and Leeds United coming to town is a big deal. Slowly we’re getting to a position where we’re carrying that tag better.
“But we have to reduce the difference between our maximum and our minimum. It needs to be closer together.”
United will have a near full-strength squad at Ewood Park with Giuseppe Bellusci, Billy Sharp and Tommaso Bianchi all fit after minor injuries.
Rodolph Austin will be assessed on his return from international duty with Jamaica today.
Aidan White and Lewis Walters are still absent, however, and on-loan AC Milan midfielder Zan Benedicic is beginning his recovery from knee surgery.

Leeds United: Benedicic likely to be out until the new year after knee surgery

Yorkshire Evening Post 20/11/14
by Phil Hay
Zan Benedicic is likely to be out until the new year after undergoing knee surgery but the on-loan AC Milan midfielder will remain with Leeds United for the length of his deal.
Benedicic travelled to Belgium for an operation on the injury he suffered in September but his agent, Amir Ruznic, said the problem was minor and would not threaten an early end to his time at Elland Road.
Leeds signed Benedicic on a season-long loan from AC Milan in August but fitness problems have limited him to two first-team appearances and he was consigned to surgery by damage sustained around the time of Darko Milanic’s appointment as head coach.
Ruznic, who worked to negotiate Benedicic’s move to England from Milan, said the 19-year-old Slovenian had required treatment on the meniscus in one knee but claimed the impact of the operation was “not serious”.
Benedicic is currently abroad but should return to Leeds next week to begin a programme of rehabilitation. He is not expected to make his comeback until after the club’s Christmas schedule.
Ruznic told the YEP: “It’s not serious but I don’t know how long he’ll be out. I think he’ll be back in Leeds next week.”
United have an option to sign Benedicic permanently next summer but he is yet to start a first-team game and his only league appearance came in the 1-0 defeat of Bolton Wanderers in August.
He was previous used by former head coach David Hockaday in a League Cup win over Accrington Stanley but Hockaday voiced concerns about the midfielder’s match fitness and did not field him again.
Benedicic was subsequently unavailable throughout Milanic’s 32-day reign as boss.
Current head coach Neil Redfearn, whose side travel to Blackburn Rovers on Saturday, said: “He’s been between surgeons for a while. It was important to make sure he got the right treatment.
“He’s had knee injuries before and he’s only young so he needed to get the right care. At the moment it’s hard to know when he’ll be fit again.”
Benedicic is one of Leeds’ few injury worries ahead of their visit to Ewood Park.
Aidan White and Lewis Walters are long-term absentees but centre-back Giuseppe Bellusci is available after serving a one-match ban.
Midfielder Rodolph Austin, however, is facing a late return to England after a run of appearance for Jamaica in the Caribbean Cup.
Jamaica won the final of that tournament on Tuesday night and Austin, who scored the decisive penalty in a shoot-out against Trinidad and Tobago, was named man-of-the-match.
Redfearn said: “We’re not expecting him home until tomorrow so I’m not sure what part he’ll play (at Blackburn).
“He was injured recently and he’s played a lot of football in a short period with Jamaica, on top of all the travelling. I’ll only know what shape he’s in once we get the chance to assess him.”

Leeds United: Fan power is huge boost for us - Redfearn

Yorkshire Evening Post 20/11/14
by PHIL HAY
AWAY attendances are Leeds United’s forte. In the past four years their crowds away from home have outstripped the rest of the Championship, peaking at an average of almost 3,500 in 2010-11.
Their largest turn-out during that season – a total of 6,763 – came in Barnsley and no bigger away crowd has been recorded since then but Leeds are close to exceeding it at Blackburn Rovers this weekend; close to selling an allocation of 6,900 tickets.
Twice in two years Ewood Park has drawn a following this large. Twelve months ago Leeds took 6,727 supporters to Blackburn, one of the few clubs in the Championship who are able or willing to provide so many tickets. Leeds are involved in a constant fight for increased allocations and Blackburn obliged ahead of Saturday’s game, bumping up an initial offer of 4,200 in the Darwen End.
“It’s a huge bonus for us,” said United’s head coach, Neil Redfearn, but the 49-year-old accepts that a following of close to 7,000 does not come free of charge. He travelled with Leeds to Ewood Park last season, a member of Brian McDermott’s coaching staff, and he remembers the flat performance which ended in a 1-0 defeat. A goal from Tommy Spurr, bundled in with his shin, settled the match and disappointed the masses seconds before half-time.
Leeds’ statistics on that afternoon – two shots on target and only one chance of note – told a story of a side who failed to rise to the occasion. On Saturday, Redfearn expects a different game and a different atmosphere.
“Sometimes it goes that way,” he said. “There was quite a big build-up to the game last season, a lot of talk about the crowd we were taking, and it almost reaches the point where the football can’t live up to the expectation.
“It was a bit drab, a bit flat, and I suppose it was a missed opportunity with a crowd like that behind us but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m aware of the numbers going this weekend and the players are aware of it too. If I was them I’d be buzzing about it. Ask yourself this – how many times do you get to play in front of that sort of following? It’s special and pretty rare.”
The contradiction of United’s huge travelling crowds last season was that McDermott’s team were eminently beatable away from home. Their results are following a similar pattern this term – a respectable record at Elland Road offset by a return of five points from eight matches elsewhere.
Four of those points were accrued during Redfearn’s spell as caretaker, in between the dismissal of David Hockaday and the ill-fated appointment of Darko Milanic as head coach, and a 3-1 win at Bournemouth in September was a high-value reward for a second half when Leeds played with abandon. Redfearn promised the same approached at Ewood Park, against an accomplished Blackburn side on the fringes of the play-offs.
“I’m not looking for us to be gung-ho or reckless but I want us to be a team who always go forward,” Redfearn said. “With respect to the fans who are with us, I think you can harness their support and make it work for you better if you play positively and play to win. You’re giving them what they want.
“The way we play and the way we are, I’d like to think that we’ll always be in games. I’d like to think that we’ll carry a threat, even when we’re behind or when things are tight. And when we’re ahead, I don’t want us to sit on a 1-0 lead. I want us to close games out. I was like that as a player and I’m no different as a coach.
“Obviously there’s expectation on us to perform and the pressure increases when you’ve got a huge crowd with you. Of course it does. But to be honest I’ll be very disappointed if we don’t rise to it. I’m not worried about that.
“The foreign players who’ve come in, the likes of Mirco (Antenucci), Marco (Silvestri) and others – they’re loving these crowds. It’s quite new for them and you can tell that they’re feeding off it. As for the English lads here, they know that this is Leeds. It’s part of the appeal, surely.”
United’s 3-1 win over Blackpool before the international break was a first victory in nine games – the right result at the right time, prior to a month of difficult fixtures. Redfearn’s squad is largely in tact, with Tommaso Bianchi recovered from the clash of shins he suffered against Blackpool, but Rodolph Austin is due to return to England from international duty tomorrow and is not certain of featuring at Ewood Park. The Jamaican international was used as a substitute against Blackpool, in a second half which Lee Clark’s side controlled, but the performance which earned United a 3-0 lead at half-time will prompt few changes tomorrow if any. Redfearn’s key decision is whether to recall Giuseppe Bellusci after the Italian defender’s one-match suspension.
“We’re in decent shape and the international break’s been good for us,” Redfearn said. “It’s been a chance to reiterate certain things – working the ball in tight spaces, working the right options, that sort of thing.
“It’s not rocket science and I’m not reinventing the wheel but the group were a bit low and a bit short of confidence when I took the job on a few of weeks ago. You get confidence by going through the basics again and the international break gives you time to do that.
“Over time we’ll improve, I’m sure of that, and we’ve done okay so far. If you’d offered me four points from the last three games then I might have settled for that, just to get us going again.
“I wouldn’t rule us out of anything this season because you never know where the games will take you but my priority, and what we really need, is a year which lets us hit the ground running next season. I don’t think that’s too much to expect.”

Leeds United: Redfearn confident of securing services of Thompson

Yorkshire Evening Post 20/11/14
by Phil Hay and Leon Wobschall
NEIL Redfearn remains confident that Leeds United will secure his preferred choice of assistant boss, with Huddersfield Town’s Steve Thompson still in line to land the job.
United’s head coach has been waiting to confirm the appointment of a number two for the past week-and-a-half but he said the club had assured him the matter “will be sorted.”
Thompson - Chris Powell’s first-team coach at Huddersfield and formerly a team-mate of Redfearn’s at Bolton Wanderers - was Redfearn’s first choice after his own appointment as head coach earlier this month.
Redfearn has operated with the support of goalkeeping coach Neil Sullivan and fitness coach Matt Pears during the past three league matches but he and Leeds owner Massimo Cellino agreed on the need for a full-time assistant following the sacking of previous head coach Darko Milanic and his number two, Novica Nikcevic.
“I know who I want and I’ve left it with the club,” Redfearn said. “I’ve been concentrating on getting training right and I’ve been told it’ll be sorted.”
Huddersfield Town manager Chris Powell admits that the prospect of Thompson leaving to join Leeds United ‘could happen’ - although he would ideally like him to stay on at Town. As yet, Leeds have not made an official approach to their West Yorkshire neighbours to enlist the services of Thompson, who shares first-team coaching duties at Town with Steve Eyre.
On the current situation, Town boss Powell said: “Steve is here today and has not gone anywhere and is part of my coaching staff that I would like to remain.
“I understand it has been floated around for the last few weeks and I know Neil knows Steve very well and is looking for someone.
“So if we add it up, it may be something that could happen. I haven’t spoken to Neil, but I’d like Steve to stay - but equally, I have been in this position before.
“If that comes up and there’s a possibility of him going, then I am sure he may want to talk to them and then it will be his decision.”

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Leeds United: Benedicic set for rehabilitation after surgery on knee injury

Yorkshire Evening Post 19/11/14
by Phil Hay
Leeds United midfielder Zan Benedicic has undergone surgery on a knee injury and will return to England to begin his rehabilitation next week.
Benedicic - on loan at Leeds from AC Milan - travelled to Belgium for a specialist operation on damaged meniscus, his agent confirmed to the YEP.
The 19-year-old has been nursing the injury for almost two months and is unlikely to be fit until the second half of the season.
United signed him on a year-long loan from Milan in August but the Slovenian youngster has played only twice since moving to Elland Road.
His agent, Amir Ruznic, said: “It’s not serious but I don’t know how long he’ll be out. I think he’ll be back in Leeds next week.”
Benedicic’s career has been affected by previous knee injuries and United boss Neil Redfearn said: “He’s been between surgeons for a while. It was important to make sure he got the right treatment.
“He’s had knee injuries before and he’s only young so he needed to get the right care.”

Leeds transfer window: More players leaving, few arriving

Yorkshire Post 19/11/14
LEEDS United will prioritise outgoing loans over new signings in the last week of the emergency window, head coach Neil Redfearn revealed last night.
Redfearn is focusing on moving surplus players on from Thorp Arch and said he had sidelined a number from first-team training sessions in an attempt to “stop my message getting diluted.” The Football League’s loan window closes at 5pm a week tomorrow and Leeds have not negotiated a single move in or out of their squad since the market opened in early September.
The club’s Italian owner, Massimo Cellino, is resistant to the idea of short-term signings but Redfearn admitted before the international break that he was looking for additions to his squad and “a bit of help” for a young group of players.
United’s new head coach hinted that arrivals were possible before next week’s deadline but, he reiterated the importance of finding alternative clubs for players with no prospect of featuring in his line-up this season.
Noel Hunt, David Norris and Luke Murphy are among the names who Leeds are likely to listen to offers for, and forward Nicky Ajose – a summer recruit from Peterborough United – could also be given the chance to move on, despite signing a three-year contract less than four months ago.
Redfearn said: “I’d say that moves out are more likely than moves in.
“I’ve spoken to Massimo and we’ve got a couple of good ideas (for new signings) but whether they’ll happen now or at a later date, I’m not sure. We don’t have too much time.
“I’d like to give the young players here a bit of help and the right support, but at the same time we need to move a few lads on.
“It’s nothing personal and I’m not being difficult with anyone but there are players here who aren’t going to play any football.
“That’s not good for them, it’s not good for anyone and we’ll try to help them if offers come in.
“We’ve had a few enquiries and I’ve already started thinning down the main training group, setting up two different groups – just to stop my message getting diluted.
In fairness to the lads who aren’t playing, it’s hard for them to feel properly involved and it’s easier to get my message through to those who are.
“The core of the squad is good. I’m pretty happy with it. But we do have a lot of bodies at Thorp Arch and it’s been like that for too long now.”
Hunt and Ajose were fielded in an Under-21 game against Sunderland at Thorp Arch yesterday and scored the goals in a 3-2 defeat.
Defenders Scott Wootton and Zac Thompson also started.
United have used in excess of 30 different players in 17 Championship matches this season but Redfearn said new signings would still be welcome before the loan window shuts.
“It’s about getting the squad right,” he said. “It’s not that we don’t have numbers here or that we don’t have experienced players - it’s just that some of those players need a change of scene or a fresh start. I think they realise that themselves.
“The fact that we’ve got a big squad doesn’t mean that we don’t need extra players. In certain areas we’re looking for different ones.” Leeds are close to confirming a travelling support of 6,900 for Saturday’s game at Blackburn Rovers - the biggest away attendance in the Championship this season.
United set the last season’s record at the same venue, taking 6,716 fans to Ewood Park.

Leeds United: Redfearn looking to build up consistency

Yorkshire Evening Post 18/11/14
Kick start: United head coach hoping work on training ground during international break will start to pay dividends.
Leon Wobschall reports.
CONSISTENCY, THAT oh-so-precious footballing quality governing the fortunes of a host of Championship sides, with Leeds United no different.
For a side still evolving after being almost thrown together in the close-season when United made a spate of signings in the build-up to the start of the campaign at Millwall on August 9, it is something that has proved elusive to the club, onto their third permanent head coach already in 2014-15 with the season not yet three-and-a-half months old.
The Whites nation are hoping, some probably praying, that some continuity and coherence, both on the pitch and in the dug-out following the arrival of Neil Redfearn, will provide some order in United’s season in the coming weeks to stabilise matters.
In a line-up which contains a number of continental players still acclimatising to Championship life and young stars aiming to make their mark on a regular basis in a man’s league, getting consistency is no mean feat.
November has been a time in the recent past when United had flirted with consistency, only to fall back into bad habits.
Back in the nearly-season of 2010-11, a powerhouse run in late autumn and winter saw Leeds flex their muscles and go 12 matches unbeaten to make a statement in the Championship promotion race, only to fall away in the spring.
In the following campaign, in 2011-12, United shrugged aside a calamitous 5-0 home drubbing to Blackpool to win four of their next five games, winning successive away fixtures at Leicester City, Burnley and Nottingham Forest.
The latter win represented the perfect on-pitch tribute following the tragic passing of Gary Speed, who died two days prior to Leeds’ 4-0 triumph on an emotionally-wrought night at the City Ground on November 29, 2011.
Three consecutive losses, including a 6-1 home capitulation to Watford, represented the worst introduction to November of 2012, but back-to-back home wins over promotion contenders Crystal Palace and Leicester City provided some order and hope for the months ahead.
Twelve months ago, November also represented a time to look forward for Brian McDermott’s side in a month which saw Ross McCormack plunder seven goals.
That golden haul included a four-goal showing at Charlton when the Scot became the first Leeds player to hit four goals in a game since veteran Brian Deane dined out at QPR’s expense on November 20, 2004 in a 6-1 triumph for United.
After beating Middlesbrough 2-1 at Elland Road on November 23 of last year, Leeds were well placed in sixth spot in the Championship.
But the less said about the rest of the season, the better.
The challenge now for United is to fare better, grow into a season and avoid what has happened in previous years. It won’t be straightforward Redfearn is fully aware of the need to find some hitherto elusive consistency, not just over the course of a run of fixtures, but during each individual game with Leeds veering from excellence to the moribund on several occasions or vice versa so far in 2014-15.
Think Bournemouth, Rotherham, Wolves, Blackpool and you get the drift.
Redfearn said: “What we have got to try and be with a young side who have been put together in a short space of time is be as consistent as we can.
“That is why these international breaks and little breathers of space are important as you can start putting things back in place.
“If you are off track a little bit, you can put things back on track or kick on a bit. We have got to take every game as it comes as there’s no easy games in the Championship. I think we have proved on our day that when we do play well, we are a decent side. But we have got to be more consistent.
“The deficiencies that have shown themselves have mainly been because the squad is new.
“Sometimes, one half has gone away from us and if you are a side who have played together or been together for a while and understand one and other’s games, those sort of games are easier to stop being wrestled away than for sides which have just been put together.”
Whisper it gently, but it has been a quiet international break so far at Elland Road and for that many will be grateful.
Certainly Redfearn, who has been using the valuable time afforded him in a fortnight’s break between fixtures to fully ingratiate himself with his charges and get his coaching ethos across ahead of a busy run-in to the end of the year.
He said: “The break lets you settle things down and concentrate on the areas where you want to improve and get back to the stuff you want to do.
“It was difficult before the break and the (Wolves) game and then the rest and recovery and then the Cardiff game and the three games in a week with Cardiff, Charlton and Blackpool.
“Really everything was based around the games and the management of players and making sure everything was right in preparation. It wasn’t time where you could really get your ethos and ideas across.
“This has handed a space in time and breather to work and give the young lads a rest as well as a lot of them have played a lot of football as well.
“This has given us a real opportunity to do the things we have wanted to do.”
Starting with Saturday’s Roses test at Ewood Park, Leeds have a daunting looking fixture list to negotiate up to the New Year.
A double-header with bogey side Derby awaits along with tough trips to Ipswich and Forest, not forgetting a home clash with Fulham, who are showing signs of getting their act together.
Not that Redfearn is reading anything into the forthcoming itinerary.
He added: “I looked at the Blackpool game and everyone spoke about it is as being a given.
“But I can see Blackpool beating teams and sides at the bottom starting to pick up results.
“Bolton are a prime example of that, while Birmingham have a new manager who has come in and are picking up.
“All the teams are capable of beating one and other on any given day.”

Leeds United: Redfearn won’t write off top-six hopes

Yorkshire Evening Post 18/11/14
by Leon Wobschall
NEIL REDFEARN insists he is not discounting Leeds United’s prospects of propelling themselves firmly into top-six contention in the Championship – despite an indifferent start to the current campaign.
Leeds resume after the international break with a tough-looking clash at Blackburn Rovers on Saturday, with the club having recorded back-to-back league wins just once since mid-April.
United lie in 15th spot in the Championship and remain a work in progress with almost three-and-a-half months of the season gone, just four points above the bottom three and eight points off the play-off pace.
But head coach Redfearn is not writing off their hopes of making a bid for the play-offs if his side can gel together on a consistent basis in the weeks and months ahead. Given a close-season which saw 15 players come in and a host of others depart during a frenetic summer transfer window, the smart money was on some form of transitional period being on the cards in the opening months of the season, more so with Leeds having so far had three permanent head coaches.
Redfearn is aiming to buck the trend by providing some stability and consistent results and hopefully build some on-pitch momentum in the process.
Despite Leeds’ stop-start season, they will be backed by a travelling army of around 6,000 fans in Saturday’s Roses clash at Ewood Park, representing the biggest Championship away support of any club in the division so far this term.
Redfearn is hoping to reward their faith and while he accepts that getting Leeds within sight of the top six is a considerable task, he sees reasons to hope. Redfearn, who believes his side have been energised by the zestful performances of the likes of Alex Mowatt, Lewis Cook and Sam Byram heading into the international break, said: “It could be two forward and one back and one of those sort of seasons.
“But there’s no reason why if we can’t get a settled side and things going that we can’t go on and get ourselves in there. We have got to find our way and our feet and the way that is right for us and drive on.
“If you look at the last couple of games, the pleasing thing is that it was basically the same side that played against Charlton and Blackpool.
“I could see improvement in the Charlton game and then the Blackpool one. If we can get ourselves in the position where the consistent is the majority and the variable is the minority, then we can pick up and start maybe being more consistent and understanding each other’s game and developing.”
Midfield man Rudy Austin is set to lead Jamaica in their Caribbean Cup final clash with opponents Trinidad and Tobago later today. The midfielder helped the Reggae Boys book their place in the final with a 2-0 win over Haiti in their Group B encounter in Montego Bay, having found the net in the 85th minute in the 3-0 victory over Antigua and Barbuda on Friday. The final will be staged at the Montego Bay sports complex.