The Game's Gone Crazier

For all the latest on the exploits of Uncle Festa, Godfather Cellino, Friar Brian, Old Big Gob, GianFredo Zola, Butterfingers Green, 'Arry the Albatross, The Grand Puppet Master, Il Duce Di Canio, Timmy Sherwood and a cast of thousands!

Friday, 31 May 2013

Everybody is ganging up on Watford - Leeds, Nottingham Forest, QPR, Leicester...

This is so unfair! Poor old Watford, already robbed of a place in the Premiership by on loan geriatric Kevin Phillips's extra time penalty, now find the whole Football League ganging up on them to prevent a repeat Play Off Final appearance next season.

I started complaining about the Lend Lease policy employed by the Pozzos very early in the season, and I received threats of legal action as a result. It took the likes of Holloway and the powers-that-be at the Football League a little longer to catch up - and Leeds Legend Peter the Poodle Lorimer didn't appreciate what was going on until the final game of the season - but it now seems that the rules are to be changed, and the "loophole" that everybody associated with Watford claims isn't a loophole, is about to be closed. Suddenly Watford will have to play players that they own, rather than players owned by the Pozzos!

Watford fans will of course squeal. But as a West Ham fan, I struggle to understand why we were fined  six million quid for the Tevez deal sanctioned by Mr Scott Duxbury, whilst Watford have been allowed to populate a squad with players they do not own and over whom, the Pozzos could conceivably exercise a Third Party influence.

Of course, I have to stress that Watford have not broken any rules and have not cheated - yet. However, following next week's vote,  that will no longer be the case if the rules are changed and Watford continue with the same policy. And meanwhile, Watford's options will be further restricted by a transfer embargo that applies until the end of August because of rule breaking by the former owners.

Poor GianFredo has been painted into something of a corner here and the Watford fans may just discover that the Pozzos may not be the best thing since sliced pane after all!

All together now at the Football League, "Gangnam Style"!

What does the Stoke chairman know that nobody else does?

Mark Hughes? Come on! What a joke after his monumental balls up at QPR. I know that following the Warnock into a job isn't easy, as poor McDermott is likely to discover at Leeds United, but Sparkless's record at the Hopeless Hoops has to be considered one of the most inept managerial performances in the history of the game. Worse than Avram at West Ham. Worse than 'Arry at Southampton. Worse even than McClaren and Revie in the England job!

Never mind the Wally with Brolly, or the Wally with Canine Tax Shelter, or the Wally with the Dossiers or the Wally with the Circumcision or the Wally with the Laptop, Hughes was the Wally with the Mountain of Dosh, and boy how he blew it!

How on earth does somebody get another job in the Prem so quickly after that performance? Stoke players will have received texts warning them about their new manager's inability to people manage already. What the hell does Coates think he is up to?

Stoke are all of a sudden a bloody good bet to go down next season!

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Is Pogatetz destined for a place in the West Ham Hall of Fame?

We have had some shockers down the years, but Pogatetz has to be up there as one of the worst players ever to pull on a West Ham shirt. Mind you, we do seem to specialise in crap centre backs. Off the top of my head, giving it hardly any thought at all, I can think of Breen, Song, Hilton and Davenport - and I'm sure others could add to that list of horrors without taxing their brain cells too much.

In fact, it doesn't say much for Allardyce and his team of scouts that Pogatetz and Chamakh both arrived in the same window, and given the wages they were on, it seems probable, even without a loan fee, that the club chucked away over £1m to pay for them to keep the bench warm.

Hall of Fame? Yep in the Claret & Blue Chamber of Horrors!

Suarez about to bite Liverpool on backside and head for Madrid

So poor little Luis is upset because the Big Bad British Press keep picking on him! How unfair. He hurls racist abuse at an opposition player and the nasty old press criticise him. He boasts about cheating and those terrible hacks write negative things about him. He bites an opponent and the newspapers scream foul. It's victimization, pure and simple.

So Suarez wants out! Never mind that Liverpool have backed him to the hilt. Never mind that the fans have treated him like a god. He doesn't want to hang around at Has Been Liverpool when Happening Real are expressing an interest.

Of course, it has nothing to do with the money and Luis loves the fans of the club so nobody should feel bitter about his decision. Poor Suarez has been left with no other choice!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Massive injury blow to Leeds United's Green

What a shame for Paul Green and for Leeds United Football Club. It's not often, these days, that any player associated with  the club gets the opportunity to play at Wembley, so the hamstring injury that has ruled Green out of Ireland's game with England, and subsequent games against the Faroe Isles and Spain, is a huge blow.

Still, it will give Green a longer summer break and, from a selfish Leeds perspective, that may be good news in the longer run.

Playing for your country has not always been a huge deal for Leeds players anyway. Those with long enough memories will recall Paul Madeley telling Ramsay where to stick the World Cup when he was offered the opportunity to replace Reaney in the 1970 squad for Mexico. Madeley had already made plans for the summer you see, so going to the World Cup just seemed like a terrible chore.

You had to love the players in that Revie squad!

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Irony and Karma Strike Pozzos and Watford in bucketloads

Oh the irony! I've only just realised that goal scorer Kevin Phillips is still on loan to Crystal Palace! Talk about being hoisted by your own petard!

So, with the world and his wife outside of Watford and Udinesi Calcio expressing concerns about the Lend Lease policy of the Pozzos, along comes a loan player to consign Watford to another season in the Championship!

Shame for Zola, shame for the Watford fans, but it serves Pozzo and Duxbury right in my book. What goes around comes around as they say.

How about a new television series entitled, 'My Name is Pozzo'?

Monday, 27 May 2013

Heartbreak for Watford and Zola

What a shame. I don't agree with the Lend Lease policy employed by the Pozzos and will never forgive Scott Duxbury for his part in the Tevez affair and subsequent events at Upton Park, but I wouldn't wish a play off final defeat on anybody, unless West Ham were the opposition of course.

We have suffered defeat in the Final against Palace ourselves but made it up the following year. Chin up to the Watford fans. There's always next season.

Do the people of Leeds deserve a good team?

What was the average gate at Elland Road last season? Somewhere around 18,000 in a stadium with a capacity of 39,000? Shocking.

Of course, those looking for excuses blame Bates, Warnock and extortionate prices. So what happened when GFH Capital came in, Warnock was sacked and prices were slashed? The stadium remained half empty!

Now the nation has been embarrassed by appallingly poor attendances at Headingly for the test match with New Zealand. The Ashes battles at Lords and the Oval were sold out ages ago - I have my ticket for the Saturday at Lords - but there were wide open spaces on the terraces at Headingly yesterday and the crowd is even smaller today, despite the tight Tykes reducing prices for kids to a fiver.

Shame on the Mums and Dads of Leeds! Every child in the city should be at the ground today enjoying a day of international sport, especially given the success of Bairstow and Root, both of whom have batted today.

Don't give me crap about cricket being boring, only if you lack the mental capacity to understand the game. Who knows, there could be a kid hanging around with glue sniffing mates on a Leeds estate today who might have had a career in international sport had their parents been as responsible as Joe Root's!

We have precious few opportunities to witness great sportsmen "in the flesh". I am lucky enough to have seen Moore, Hurst, Peters, Giles, Eddie Gray, Brooking, Tevez, Lampard, Sobers, Warne, Tendulkar, Dravid, Boycott, Waugh, Lara, McGrath, Botham, Gooch, Gower, Cook and many, many others thanks to my Dad engendering a passion for sport in me at a young age. If Leeds can't muster a full house for a bank holiday test featuring two young home grown stars, you have to wonder if the city deserves to host test matches or a Premiership football team.

Is Pardew intent on building a relegation team at Newcastle?

So tell me, what is the logic behind signing players who have just been relegated from the Premiership? Time and again clubs do it, and time and again, clubs regret it.

Teams are relegated for a reason, and that reason is that the players are not good enough. Take that guy Fletcher up the road at Blunderland. He went down with Burnley, so he moved to Wolves. He went down with Wolves, so he moved to Sunderland. And but for Wigan's Cup run, he would almost certainly have gone down with Il Duce's Black Shirts too.

How about Ben Haim? He's gone down with Portsmouth, West Ham and QPR.

And Rob Green? Norwich, West Ham and QPR.

And Christopher Samba? Blackburn and QPR.

Anybody watching Samba in a QPR shirt wouldn't pay £1m for him, let alone the £10m that Pardew is rumoured to be offering! And as good as Remy looks, QPR maintained relegation form when he was in the team.

£20m sounds like absurd money to pay for two players who featured in a team that mustered just 25 points in a 38 game Premiership season. It seems that Pardew is hell bent on rewriting that old adage as, "If you can't beat anybody, join Newcastle!"

Sunday, 26 May 2013

A new crest? Everton fans have more important things to worry about!

How laughable, with QPR's 'Arry linked with Everton, the Toffee fans have got their knickers in a twist over a change to the club's crest! Wake up guys, there are bigger issues confronting your club!

Unless Moyes has made a pact, the biggest concern should be that the likes of Baines, Fellani, and Howard could be off to Manchester United.

Then there's the little matter of not having a manager lined up to replace Moyes. Everybody knew the guy was going, so why the hell wasn't his replacement sorted months back? The latest suggestion is 'Arry, and if he gets the job, it's not the crest the fans have to worry about, it's the bloody family silver!

Mind you, if 'Arry does get the job the crest should be redesigned again. Put a dog with two dicks in the window of that tower with Inland Revenue investigators at the bottom looking up forlornly!

Why Don Revie is overlooked despite his achievements at Leeds

There was some anger expressed last week when the BBC listed the great post war managers, and overlooked Don Revie. Leeds fans, understandably, vented ire and made the claim for Revie's inclusion in the list of all time greats. So why was he overlooked?

Leeds fans will, of course, blame Southern bias and all that baloney, but the truth of the matter is that Revie remains something of an embarrassment - in part because of the way his great Leeds team played (and I have not used that adjective sarcastically) but mostly because he was found wanting when in charge of England, and then betrayed the nation when taking the oil money and walking out on his country.

Again, those who love him will make the excuse that Revie only walked because he knew the FA were about to stab him in the back, but that misses the point. Revie left the England job in 1977, and in 1973 OPEC (the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries) had plunged the Western world into recession. Rightly or wrongly, many in Britain held the Arab nations to blame for losing their jobs and for the pain of cost push inflation, allied to soaring unemployment.

It was against this backdrop - and there were 5.6million unemployed  whilst inflation was running at a terrifying 15.8% - that Revie jetted off secretly to the United Arab Emirates, selling his story to the Daily Mail before he had even told the FA he was going. His massive salary - £340,000 for four years - seemed to confirm what everybody thought, that the Arab nations were destroying our once proud nation because of greed. And Revie was regarded as a traitor.

None of that should detract from Revie's achievements at Leeds, but some will argue that his record was not that great anyway. The big criticism of Revie's reign at England was that he was negative and concerned more with stopping the opposition than playing to England's strengths, and despite the fact that Leeds had far and away the best squad of players in the country in the early 1970's, Leeds had a terrible habit of coming second.

But even allowing for that, Revie, of course, deserves huge credit for what he achieved at Leeds, but his skills did not transfer to England - along with McLaren he is the only England manager to fail to qualify for two major tournaments - and his treachery and greed live longer in the memory for all non Leeds fans. For this reason, he will never be acknowledged as a great by anybody outside of Leeds.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Root and Bairstow show Leeds United the way

What a great day to be a Yorkshireman! It's a real shame that Bairstow couldn't follow young Root's lead by claiming a century of his own, but their partnership was a joy to watch and proved that old adage, "If they're good enough, they're old enough."

With Nice Guy Brian looking to sign upwards of seven players, he must not overlook the kids in the Academy and the young players already in the first team squad. Maybe, just maybe, a new era could be built on youth, with Byram, Poleon, Hall and other young guns coming through under the guidance of Anthea Redfearn.

It must be good news for the youngsters that Anthea has been promoted by McDermott. Poleon got his chance against Watford and didn't let anybody down. Maybe he and Hall could inject the pace that Leeds lacked all last season.

But back to the cricketers, Root proved today that he is a real class act who promises to be a mainstay of England's batting for the next 15 years. Congratulations to the kid and to the people of Yorkshire for continuing to produce cricketing greats.

The QPR Curse Hits Tottenham's Townsend

I posted last week that QPR were, and would remain, cursed under Malaysian owner Tony Fernandes. Well the curse has now struck young Townsend, who spent time on loan with the Hopeless Hoops this season, with the exciting midfield prospect charged with betting offences.

'Arry must be so pleased he didn't join QPR earlier, because there's no way he would have won that tax evasion trial with Fernandes perched on his shoulder like a plague infested rat. In fact, Redknapp will be sweating over any other skeletons he may have hidden in his cupboard and may well decide that discretion is the better part of valour.

I would get out bloody quick if I was 'Arry!

Why Leeds are a good bet to win the Championship next season

Reading, QPR, Wigan, Nottingham Forest, Leicester and the losers of Watford and Palace are likely to head the betting and whilst it may seem a bit early to have a dabble on Leeds to win the Championship, I will take anything around 14-1 on an each way bet.

The Leeds squad aint great but will get better, with McDermott apparently under no pressure to sell and chasing down five, six or seven new signings. Leeds weren't that far off the pace for much of last season and have the core of a decent squad: Byram is the best young player in the Championship and will be better next season; Podgy Kenny and Warnock Junior offer good experience at the back; Lees shows promise and Peltier is a decent understudy.

In midfield, Green is a decent player but needs more support - this has to be a priority area for McDermott, as does the recruitment of a couple of decent strikers. Can young Poleon emerge as a Championship star next season? It's not impossible and the same applies to Hall.

By Championship standards, McCormack and Hell Hadji are also on the right side of decent, and Morison may yet come good if his confidence is rebuilt in pre season.

Meanwhile, McDermott has a track record of success in the division and will be a breath of fresh air on the training ground after the halitosis of Old Big Gob Warnock. If Leeds can get off to a good start, confidence could surge and, with the passionate fans behind them and the shadow of Master Bates all but removed, Leeds may gather the momentum of a runaway train.

Leeds United chasing Unigate raider?

Leeds fans can relax, it looks as if their milk is safe! There were rumours that the oil rich Yorkshire club were chasing out of contract Motherwell winger Chis Humphrey, but it looks as if the former West Brom trainee is heading into the Scottish second division instead, with a deal with the once mighty Glasgow Rangers in the offing.

Mind you, it was a close run thing. And after, at last, burying milk snatcher Thatcher, it would have been a cruel blow indeed to milk lovers across the city had there suddenly been a Humphrey about!

To see the speedy and elusive Humphrey in action, follow this link:

Friday, 24 May 2013

Mark Hughes to Stoke? Ask Warnock for a reference!

Mark Hughes? Really? After his disastrous stint at QPR stepping into the shoes of 'hoof the ball hard and hit the opposition harder' merchant Warnock, the poor club's Pulis?

Old Big Gob would be delighted to give Stoke a reference and it would read something like this: "I left behind a decent bunch of lads and the makings of a good team. Then along came that twat and destroyed everything."

So why exactly would Stoke want to appoint him? I know Coates is looking for a new direction, but that direction doesn't necessarily have to point down to the Championship!

Hughes well and truly queered his pitch at QPR and some dreadful stories have emerged about his inept man management "skills". His only answer at QPR was to wave the cheque book and where did that get him exactly? QPR finished rock bottom for a reason, and that reason included Hughes.

I would love to see Stoke appoint him as that would be one of the three relegation spots booked. Add in Hull and one of Watford or Palace and the rest of the division could relax!

Il Duce treading on Black Cat tails at Sunderland

Well it didn't take long did it? Il Duce Di Canio's reign at Sunderland is starting to unravel already after his all too typical rant about the attitude of players, which has brought complaints to the PFA and a warning from Gordon Taylor that the crazy Italian can't do as he pleases.

Titus Bramble is already off - no loss there - but the problem is, who will want to join? Word is out that Di Canio is an abusive bully and if you are a millionaire player, would you want to work under a guy whose management style has been compared to a hand grenade?

Di Canio can't help himself. When things are going well, he's probably great to have around, but when the going gets tough, Di Canio starts pointing fingers, ranting and blaming everybody except himself. The guy is an absolute arse and once his comedy value has been exhausted, he serves no useful purpose.

Leeds United can't afford Bolton's Matt Mills

According to the Yapping Post, Bolton have still not received a firm approach from Leeds for Matt Mills and, given the wages he is on, is it any wonder?

Although Mills is desperate to link up again with Nice Guy Brian, and Bolton are anxious to offload, there's no way in a million years that Leeds are going to stump up twenty five grand a week in wages for a rank average defender.

Remember, Becchio left because Leeds wouldn't meet his wage demands and the Warnock's hopes of signing Wood were scuppered because Leicester were able to offer him much bigger bucks. Now Leeds want another centre back, whereas they were - and are - desperate for two strikers. So why would they blow on Mills what they wouldn't invest in Becchio and Wood exactly?

Is there any way the deal will be done? Only if Bolton agree to meet 50% of Mills' wages until the end of his present contract!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Leeds United Ambassador Cries Foul Over Watford's Loan Policy

Interesting that a man who many regard as Master Bates' s poodle should use the term "I don't have a dog in the fight" when referring to the Play Off Final on Monday. Of course, many animal lovers might take offence at this apparent reference to illegal dog fighting by Lorimer, but that's a side issue.

More to the point is that an official Ambassador of the club has seen fit to voice concerns over Udinese Calcio's lend lease policy, with the Scottish thunderbolt revealing that he will be supporting Crystal Palace on Monday because he doesn't agree with the way Watford have exploited a "loophole" and betrayed the "spirit of the game" in the process.

Aware, perhaps, of the litigious nature of the club under the Pozzos, Lorimer is careful to say that "they haven't broken any rules" but he expresses the belief that Watford will "not be able to get away with it" again next season now that the "authorities" have "cottoned on".

Lorimer goes on to dismiss both Watford and Palace as unworthy promotion candidates, claiming he wasn't impressed by either team when they played Leeds, which is a tad odd given the 1-6 reverse at Elland Road. But I suppose it is difficult to get a clear view of the pitch when you are watching the game from deep inside Ken Bates's anus.

Most peculiar of all is the revelation that it took Lorimer until the last game of the season to understand what Watford were up to! Lorimer, appropriately sounding off in the Yapping Post, whines, "When we went to Vicarage Road on the last day of the season I looked at their match day programme and was really surprised to see just how many members of Udinese’s squad have been in England for Watford’s benefit." So, a guy on the payroll of Leeds, who also earns a crust from sports journalism, reveals himself to be utterly clueless about one of the biggest controversies of the Championship season!

Of course, it is more than a little ironic that a member of THAT "Dirty, dirty" Revie squad should speak out against a club betraying "the spirit of the rules"! Talk about pots and kettles!

Next stop Leeds for Jerome Thomas?

Deemed surplus to requirement at West Brom, Jerome Thomas would be a nailed on certain signing at Leeds if the Warnock were still in charge; but Nice Guy Brian may have other ideas.

Most Leeds fans regarded Thomas as a success during his loan spell last season and would welcome the winger back, if not with open arms, then at least with a shrug of the shoulders and a muttering of "Beggars can't be choosers".

Is he on McDermott's Magnificent Seven list? Possibly.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Is West Ham's Carlton Cole heading for Leeds or QPR?

Released by West Ham, Carlton Cole is now looking for a new club, and the Patron Saint of Barn Doors might well become a target for Leeds and QPR.

Nice Guy Brian tried to sign Carlton as recently as January but West Ham refused to do business with Reading, and Cole wasn't keen to leave. McDermott's need for a target man is far greater at Leeds than it was at Reading and Carlton may fit the bill. Fans who scoff at his scoring record fail to understand the qualities that Cole brings to the table, and anyway, a record of 14 goals from 28 starts in 2011-12 shows that even Carlton No Goals can find the net regularly when playing against Championship defenders.

However, McDermott may face competition from 'Arry, who could calculate that adding a two thirds fit Cole to the half fit Johnson and Zamora would make up two fit strikers between them. Like Nice Guy Brian, 'Arry has been linked with Cole before, although the mooted move to Spurs never materialised.

The big problem for Leeds may be Carlton's wage demands and his love of London. He is used to playing for a big club and he may baulk at joining Leeds therefore, whilst the prospect of moving North of the Udinese Calcio Gap may not appeal.

Key Target Rejects Leeds

Well that's a kick in the cobblers for Nice Guy Brian. Key target Khizanishvili has decided that life in Turkey is preferable to a stint in Leeds and has elected to sign a new contract with Kayserispor rather than resume his working relationship with the new Leeds boss.

This is a particular blow for all those Leeds fans who were hailing the ex-Newcastle, Rangers, Reading and Blackburn player a great signing only yesterday.

Now everybody will be singing a different tune of course: too old, never very good, bit of a yard dog, not what we need, Lees and Pearce are better anyway...

Twenty four hours is a long time in football!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Leeds United deserve an award for honesty!

Well in this money grubbing world where a lad from Norwich would sell his much loved sister for a tenner, it's refreshing to see that one club, Leeds United, are standing up for that good old fashioned value of honesty.

Some clubs will spin any old yarn in an attempt to coax fans into buying season tickets, but not Leeds United. No thrill a minute promises here. No claims that fans will be on the edge of their seats all season. No punchy strap lines like, "All Revied up for the new season" or "Hell Hadji in Spit On Your Grave. The Sequel."

No. Quite the reverse. The Official Site honestly proclaims, "Get 0% interest on your season ticket"! Well, with Reg Varney leading the line, what interest can the long suffering Leeds fans expect exactly?

First Leeds Signing of Summer on his way?

If you believe the rumours, Zurab Khizanishvili is on his way to Elland Road. An experienced centre back, he looks like a useful addition to the squad, although at 31, going on 32, he will do nothing to bring down the average age of the team and appears to be a typical Warnock / Leeds / Bates signing - long in the tooth and a free transfer!

Perhaps GFH Capital are saving the money ready for a big splash or three later in the summer! 

Monday, 20 May 2013

Reading's Plight is Food for Thought for Leeds Fans

Any Leeds fans getting carried away by the appointment of Brian McDermott might like to reflect on the final league position of Reading this season. The Premiership is, of course, a huge step up from the Championship, but Southampton and West Ham managed to survive, where-as the Team that Brian Built is heading straight back down. Champions last season, barely in the running this.

12 months ago, Reading came to Upton Park and murdered West Ham. At that stage, the team were high on adrenaline, their impossible run of victories - with one blip excepted - carrying on from week to week to week. McDermott was surfing a Tsunami and whatever team stood in Reading's path were flattened - West Ham included. Yesterday was different.

Apart from a ten minute spell in the first half and the first 20 minutes of the second, Reading were a shadow of the team that crushed all in their path from November 2011 to May 2012. In fact, they looked pretty much like the Reading team that stuttered and stumbled their way through the first quarter of last season.

The guy who made the difference yesterday was Le Fondre - Reading's player of the season and a guy who both McDermott and Adkins seemed reluctant to start. West Ham fans were enraged at times last season by Allardyce's insistence of playing 4-3-3 / 4-5-1 rather than 4-4-2, and, at Leeds, McDermott seems to be gripped by the same obsession.

The introduction of Le Fondre yesterday saw Reading revert to a good old fashioned 4-4-2, and suddenly West Ham were stretched right across the back four, with centre backs obliged to pick up a man each and so unavailable to cover the full backs. 2-0 became 2-2 in no time at all, and Reading looked favourites to win the game until their absurdly high line allowed Nolan - hardly a Ferrari - to race through one on one on young keeper McCarthy.

And the relevance to Leeds? Well, the Elland Road faithful should consider the following:

1. McDermott's success at Reading was short lived. The team won promotion on the back of an adrenaline pumped run the like of which comes along once in a blue moon. Repeating that is not impossible but is frankly unlikely.

2. The Reading team built by Nice Guy Brian isn't that good. Even if he does inspire a promotion charge next season, you have to fear for Leeds should they make it to the Prem.

3. McDermott is now a disciple of 4-3-3 and appears a rigid adherent to the latest fashion in footballing formations. The trouble is, 4-3-3 only works if you have the right personnel and, McCormack and Hell Hadji apart, Leeds don't have the personnel. Who plays down the middle and scores the goals? Morison aint up to it and Reg Varney, fitness drive or otherwise, would be like a number 37 bus in a Grand Prix.

4. The selection of McCarthy yesterday by Adkins indicates a conservative streak in Nice Guy Brian. The boy was badly at fault for West Ham's first goal but he is meant to be one of the best keepers in the country - and he pulled off one hell of a save to stop Nolan scoring. So why was McDermott reluctant to use him? Most Leeds fans are of the opinion that kids need to be given a chance to blossom - with young Poleon a prime example - but is McDermott the man to bring through young talent, or like the Warnock, will he favour a safety first policy?

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Yeovil in the Championship - Quite a journey from Cliff Myers joining Torquay!

Well, I will be honest, I never thought I would see the day. Back in the day, when I was a regular at the old Huish, watching Stewart Housley and John Clancy tearing up the wings and crossing onto the head of Dicky Plumb, we dreamt of a place in the Football League but were constantly frustrated by the re-election year after year of Bradford Park Avenue, Workington Town and Stockport County.

When we did have a sniff, Cambridge United and Wimbledon stole our thunder. Oh and Hereford. Well, where are any of those teams now? None are in the Championship and Wimbledon aren't even in London!

They were great days nevertheless. Plumb was an old style centre forward - combative, belligerent and clumsy. We saw him shoulder barge Dicky Guy of Wimbledon into the net and the goal was given! Like Cyril Davies, a gifted midfielder, he was given his chance at Charlton but neither really had it in them to play in the top half of the Football League.

Myers too, left for league football, joining Torquay. And if memory serves me right, had the decency to miss a penalty as we beat them 2-1 in a Cup game. Or is that wishful thinking? Maybe Myers scored the penalty before joining Torquay; it's all so long ago now!

Other players of that era who stand out in my memory are Mike Penguin Hughes, the pot bellied player manager, and Len Harris who was grounds man at our school.

Back then, as I say, making it into the League was an all but impossible dream. Yeovil Town was a West Country back water club with no local allies. The teams in the North West re-elected each other to maintain receipts from derby games and avoid expensive travelling costs - and back then, Bristol Rovers and City were not in the bottom division so could not support us.

There was that game against Arsenal - which we lost 3-0. I seem to remember a cup victory over, coincidentally, Brentford which we won 2-1. West Ham played a friendly at Huish and won 2-0 or 3-1. I remember Paul Brush scoring for the Hammers. Those games apart, the diet consisted of derby games with Weymouth and fixtures with the likes of Dartford, Romford and Nuneaton Borough.

Back then, Yeovil Rec was a joyous wilderness, the Duke of York served beer to fourteen year-olds, the old cinema was still open  (and, aged 14, I dressed up in a flared suit to get in to Ken Russell's The Devils), the Grammar school wasn't a housing estate, John Peyton sat in the safest Tory seat in the land and the biggest supermarket in town was Keymarkets managed by the terrifying, and now deceased Mr Hart. oh, and there was a petrol station on the Mudford Road in front of the water-buck and a shop to the left that sold football stickers!

So much water has gone under the bridges that cross the Yeo. Where are Chris Hoddinott, Michael Maggs, Chris Mills, Jimmy Hodder, John Tiffin, Bolton and Blackburn, Stagg, Cross, Looby J Reid and Paul Saunders now? John Parish is, of course, playing with P J Harvey.

Well done to Yeovil Town! West Ham won today, but your victory was so much more significant! Today, Yeovil Town, you came of age. And you made this old boy from the East End very proud!

Were you watching Sheffield United and Bristol City?

Yeovil Town 2 Brentford 1! Yeovil Town are in the Championship! Yeovil Town will be playing Derby County, Nottingham Forest, QPR, Leeds United and Birmingham City! What a goal from Madden!

Were you watching Tony Currie? Were you watching Alan Woodward? Were you watching Podgy Kenny? Were you watching Neil Warnock? Were you watching Kevin McScab? That's how you win a Championship playoff final! The Yeovil boys gave the Brentford boys one hell of a beating!

And were you watching Bristol City? Regretting sacking Gary Johnson are we? Being a decent guy, he will no doubt give you a wave as Yeovil pass you on your way down to the old Third Division!

Brilliant! And Botham didn't mention it as England were thrashing New Zealand. Hang your head in shame Ian! The bunting will be out in Combe Street Lane tonight!

Leicester City's Pearson Going, Staying, Gone?

So what is happening at Leicester City? There were rumours that Pearson had been sacked, there are rumours about who will replace him and there's suggestions that he will stay.

There's only one reason why he won't be replaced, and that's pride fcuking with the Board. The decision to sack Sven revealed a twitchy finger and the stealing of Pearson from Hull was bordering on the unethical. To replace him now would make the Chairman look like a twat.

But if they Do a Dolly, and stand by their man, they could look very stupid indeed. Leicester's form from the end of January would have seen them relegated and only a last gasp victory at Forest, as both sides threw caution to the wind, salvaged the season.

True, the Mangy Foxes only lost to Watford because of that missed penalty, but why was a 20 year old allowed to take the penalty in the first place? Nugent had two in two games, his tail was up, he should have been nominated by the manager.

O'Neill is unemployed and, if interested, would surely revive spirits amongst players and fans. It's no brainer for me. Pearson should have gone two months ago!

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Congratulations to Bradford City

If ever a team deserved promotion through the play offs, it has to be Bradford City. It would have been a crying shame if, after their epic exploits in the Capital One Cup, the Bantams had ended the season empty handed. Instead, justice was done and after an arduous 64 game season, Bradford City have what they deserve.

Should Everton appoint former Liverpool boss Benitez?

With Moyes suggesting that Everton "recruit from within", perhaps it is time for the Everton board to think outside the box. Whilst Moyes is being treated as a departing god, there is no escaping the fact that, despite building two or three impressive teams at Everton, the Scot won precisely nothing in terms of trophies. To recruit from within would simply perpetuate the "finishing fifth or sixth mentality" therefore.

What Everton need is a winner, and thus far, they have been linked with men who, like Moyes, have achieved moderate success, but who have failed to deliver trophies - unless we credit Martinez for buying the FA Cup with relegation from the Prem.

The obvious choice, therefore, is Benny Benitez.

Love him or hate him, he has a track record of delivering trophies, and whilst the idea of appointing a Liverpool messiah may initially stick in the craw of Everton fans, they should consider the pain it would cause across Stanley Park!

Liverpool fans have never let go of Benny. Even the return of King Kenny could not compensate for the loss of the popular Spaniard, the man who brought home the Champions League and who pushed Ferguson closer than any Liverpool manager since the early 1990s. If Everton were to appoint Benitez, the pressure on Rodgers would magnify a million fold. Suddenly, he would be measured directly on a weekly basis against Benny, and Liverpool fans would wail displeasure at every dropped point and at every Everton victory. So, the only reason that would hold back the appointment of Benitez might be the best reason for appointing him.

Benny wants to stay in England. He loves the city of Liverpool. He is a winner. It's a no brainer, isn't it?

Leeds United fans increasingly side-lined by Arab owners

The spin doctors have been hard at work again this week. The Official Site has given details of a "very positive and encouraging" meeting between representatives of GFH Capital and Brian McDermott at which all sorts of wonderful things were discussed, including "player acquisitions".

The trouble is, this press release, through the club's official organ, is full of platitudes and contains nothing of substance. Yes the training ground was discussed, yes new signings were discussed, yes Nice Guy Brian's philosophy of all pulling together was discussed, yes McDermott had the opportunity to explain how he sees things, but what commitments were given?

Once again, there seems to be a lot of hot air - blown in from Dubai perhaps - but nothing concrete. In fact, this meeting with Hisham Al-Rayes sounds as if it covered exactly the same ground covered by McDermott and Patel's "chat" in the penultimate week of the season.

The meeting took two days for pity's sake! What takes two days? McDermott arrives, pleasantries are exchanged, an agenda is circulated, McDermott asks how much money he has to invest in the squad and what his targets are for 2013-14, the Board inform him, McDermott asks about the training facilities and commitments are given, everybody smiles, hands are shook, everybody kneels and faces Mecca as the call to prayer sounds, then they all go home. Two hours? Three hours tops. But two days? It sounds like there must have been some disagreement doesn't it?

What must be frustrating for Leeds fans is that they are becoming increasingly side-lined. When Bates was in charge, he was blunt and to the point and Leeds fans knew where they stood - up to their noses in shit so best not to open their mouths. The new regime is suggesting there has been a change, but there is no evidence of it. The press releases are utterly devoid of substance and detail and read like New Labour policy aspirations - lots of gloss and based entirely on what people want to hear, not on what is actually going to happen.

Who are Leeds being linked with today? Ian Harte! Too old for relegated Reading but cheap, available and a fans' favourite. Bloody hell, the guy is a classic Warnock signing!

Change? What change?

Friday, 17 May 2013

Who is the mystery man buying shares in Leeds?

It's like an Agatha Christie novel isn't it? Somebody is buying shares in Leeds United, but in the new era of openness and honesty instigated following the resignation of Master Bates from the Board, nobody is allowed to know who.

Apparently, the shares have been acquired by Board members, narrowing the field, and assurances have been given that Big Bad Ken no longer has a finger in the Leeds pie. But why keep it all hush hush? Apparently it's all to do with confidentiality clauses and GFH Capital and Leeds United are big on those, as we discovered during the long, protracted take over.

So, not only do Leeds fans not know who will be in the team next year, nor how much will be made available to Nice Guy Brian for recruiting new players, they don't know who owns the club either!

It's all a bit rich isn't it? Or not if you look at GFH's accounts!

Hopes of Leeds fans dashed as Beckham announces his retirement

What a blow. After playing for some of the greatest clubs in the world - Manchester United, Real Madrid, LA Galaxy and PSG - some Leeds fans cherished the hope that Golden Balls might bring down the curtain on his glittering career at Elland Road. But sadly that is not to be.

One disappointed fan in Golden Acre Park lamented: "I've come to this park today in honour of David. I really did think he might come to Leeds as a player coach, forming the perfect team with Brian McDermott. They are both such nice guys."

Another fan, watching the cricket in a Currys superstore, added: "It would have been a great way to put one over on the Scum and prove that we are still one of the biggest clubs in the world. They took Cantona off of us, how good would it have been if we had pinched Beckham back? I've very sad at David's decision."

Talking outside Kirkstall Abbey, a third fan said: "I don't understand David's decision. He would have felt at home in the Leeds dressing room. Thanks to Warnock, most of the players are around about his age!"

And one of many fans spotted urinating in the wind complained: "I have it on good authority that David desperately wanted to join Leeds and the only thing that stopped him was Ken Bates. We are hugely disappointed but with the financial muscle of GFH Capital behind the club, we are confident of signing six or seven world class players over the summer. And then, who knows, David may have a change of heart."

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Fernandes' Stewardship of QPR is cursed to the delight of West Ham

The arrest of Loic Remy following allegations of rape, simply confirms what has been obvious for the last 9 months, Fernandes and QPR are a match made in Hell, and as long as the Malaysian remains at the club, one disaster will follow another.

I jokingly posted that QPR were chasing a player called Hubris a while back, and that tongue in cheek article looks more and more authentic with the passing of every week. Fernandes tried to elbow his way into West Ham, and when that failed, set out to prove to the Upton Park faithful what they had missed by playing Billy Big Bollocks at little old Loftus Road.

Suddenly one stupid signing followed another as a five year plan was launched and a new stadium was sought, even though QPR couldn't fill Loftus Road most weeks. It was a joke, as I kept warning, to the chargrin of the gRRRs who kept telling me that QPR would be a dominant force in the English game within three seasons.

Well 'Arry the Albatross is now warning that QPR will struggle to compete in the Championship, never mind dominate in the Prem. The Warnock was sacked and replaced by Hughes, Hughes was sacked and replaced by Redknapp, but the man who needs to go is Fernandes.

The guy's reign at QPR is cursed. QPR fans should implore him to go because heaven only knows what other misfortunes have been stacked up in the pipeline by the Claret and Blue Karma!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

"If Byram leaves Leeds"...the phrase Leeds fans don't want to hear in early May!

Oh dear. The Yapping Post has started speculating on who Leeds will buy to replace Byram if they are "forced" to sell England's future right back.

The bright star in an otherwise dark cupboard has been linked with a move to Manchester City and Spurs, and Arsenal may yet emerge as suitors, but McDermott assured everybody, before he jetted off on his hols, that he expected Byram to be a Leeds player next season. However, whilst Nice Guy Brian's away, the GFH Capital spin doctors can play!

The odds on Byram leaving have just shortened and the idea of a "forced sale" will alert potential bidders to the possibility of signing the kid at a reasonable price. What would it take to prise the boy away? Five million would be five times the total profit made by the Arab Bank Built on Sand last year. That might be tempting figure, especially if the merchant bankers - and the rhyming slang is deliberate - are looking to turn the club at a profit; and they have already admitted that they are looking for an early exit haven't they?

Marching on Together? The Arabs, like Revie, may just want to bugger off to the Middle East with as much cash as possible!

Boring final day in Prem with only Spurs and Arsenal with anything to play for

What a damp squib of a final day. Wigan are down, joining QPR and Reading; the Manchester clubs have finished first and second; Chelsea are in the Champions League because of their goal difference; Newcastle, Sunderland, Villa and Norwich are safe...

What a nightmare for the marketing men! Somebody got the script very badly wrong this year. Just imagine if Arsenal take an early two goal lead at Newcastle and Spurs fall a goal behind to Sunderland - we might as well all pack up for the summer at that point.

And imagine the atmosphere at Wigan! The ultimate oxymoron. What do the fans do, drink champagne from the Cup or fill it with their tears? Wigan v Villa promised to be a relegation shoot out, but now it is a sad, sad side show.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Maloney Super Goal Keeps Wigan Hopes Alive - So Far!

What a goal! Super free kick from Maloney so it's all square at half time at Arsenal. Come on Wigan!

Matt Mills a strange acid test for Leeds owners GFH Capital

This is a bit of a strange one. Matt Mills hasn't exactly been successful since he parted from McDermott, but if you believe the Yapping Post, Bolton are keen to offload him and Mills is desperate to make the move to Leeds.

Leeds undoubtedly need another centre back and Mills did well for McDermott before he was sold to Leicester - all the pieces seem to fall into place quite nicely so surely this will be the first deal of the summer for Leeds. Or will it?

To begin, this is all speculation and Nice Guy Brian may not fancy Mills any more. But if he does, there is still the little matter of a transfer fee.

I use the phrase "little matter" advisedly, because Bolton are apparently willing to accept just one million for the guy that McDermott sold for four and a half times that amount when more money than sense Leicester came calling.  The big question, however, is whether GFH Capital will stump up even that modest amount to finance a push for the Prem. Warnock tried to sign the guy on loan in the January window and was knocked back, and the cash wasn't made available to buy him then.

Leeds fans should watch what happens - or doesn't happen - very closely. Mills is a litmus paper. If GFH Capital turn blue at the thought of shelling out a million, their lack of intent will be clear for all to see.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Kevin Doyle for Leeds? Or Ipswich? Or QPR?

He's only 29 and it's not so long ago that Wolves paid 6.5 million for the guy. And McDermott knows him well of course, because of his days at Reading.

The Irishman would appear to tick all the right boxes and would bring some real quality to an otherwise rudimentary Leeds team. He won't want to sink into the third tier of English football and Wolves will be desperate to get him off the wage bill.

But there's the rub, of course. Can Leeds fund his wage demands, or, like Chris Wood, will the Elland Road faithful see a rival club snap up the man they need? Ipswich are rumoured to want him and it's the sort of canny deal that 'Arry might be interested in.

I've always liked Doyle as a player and he is the sort of guy that GFH Capital should move Heaven and Earth to sign. Whether or not they make a move may indicate their level of ambition. Becchio on loan, Doyle on a permanent deal, Morison in reserve. Leeds might then have the fire power to push for promotion. Sign a speedy wide man and a decent centre back and they might suddenly figure amongst the division's favourites.

Did Leicester City's Nigel Pearson deserve to lose to Watford like that?

How cruel. I'm just catching up on events at Vicarage Strada and only heard about the dramatic penalty miss and breakaway winner late last night. What a finish by Deeney! And what a lay back too! It was a brilliant goal and, given the huge pressure, it was fantastically executed.

But what about poor Nigel Pearson? When that dodgy penalty was awarded - the latest attempt by the rival families to block Udinese Calcio's promotion charge -  Pearson must have have been planning his team for Wembley and running through the tactics in his head. Then came the save, and the follow up save, and Pearson was thinking about extra time as Watford broke, no, no, no, no, nooooooooooooo!!!!!

Did Nigel Pearson really deserve that? Of course he didn't. It should have been Hull City breaking away to score the winner. Oh no, sorry, the club he walked out on are already in the Premiership aren't they?

Karma? They are making a series entitled "My Name is Nigel" as we speak!

Manchester United's Ferguson Compared to Leeds Legend Don Revie - What a joke!

Well I've heard everything now. According to that other great Leeds Legend, Brendan Ormsby, Sir Alex Ferguson is "in the same bracket as Don Revie".

Oh yeah, in the sense that if both dressed up in frocks and had a sing song at the piano, they might pass as Hinge and Bracket perhaps? Because their record as managers stands no comparison.

How many European Cups did Revie win exactly? How many titles? How many cups? The answer would be 0, 2 and 5 counting the Inter Cities Fairs Cup and the Cup Winners Cup. Now how does that compare with Ferguson? Well the figures there would read 2, 13 and 10 if we ignore things like the Charity Shield and the World Club Cup.And that's just his record at Manchester United!

Same bracket? It's a different bloody universe!

If you want somebody in the same bracket with Revie, you might cite Clough, but of course he did win two European Cups more than the Don and his overall record is better than Revie's with his stats reading, 2, 2 & 4. And, of course, he did it with two clubs, not one!

Ormsby, of course, dare not mention Brian in the same sentence as Revie and is courting the favour of Leeds fans when he draws the ridiculous comparison between Ferguson and Revie. On that basis, Ormsby is on a par with Giles, Bremner, Hunter, Gray, Cooper, Varney and Lorimer!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Redknapp queering his own pitch at QPR

The guy may be speaking from the heart and saying what he believes, but how Redknapp thinks he is helping QPR's cause by rubbishing his own players, only 'Arry and God knows.

Maybe he is getting his excuses in early when he claims that his current side wouldn't finish in the top half of the Championship, but how exactly is he going to move on his overpaid dross when he tells the world how crap they are?

Surely a more sensible approach would be to blame a culture of defeatism rather than label the players as sub Championship standard. 'Arry admits he has to offload players before he can sign replacements and accepts that won't be easy, but he is only making it harder when he announces,

“It's down to lack of quality. People keep talking about character, work-rate. But they [the players] try. It's not them not trying. We haven't got a lot of quality in the team. We're short of good players who can really play at the top level. People might think they can because they played somewhere a few years ago, but t doesn't work that way.”

Right, so nobody's going to sign them then, are they? Well played 'Arry!

Watford are at Wembley! Leicester stay North of the Udinese Calcio Gap!

Congratulations to GianFredo and his lend lease Calabroni. I didn't see the game, but to score three times to win the match was a fantastic achievement. Vydra found his scoring boots right on cue and Deeney made amends for that red card against Leeds. Now, with the wind in their sails, Udinese Calcio could go all the way to the Prem!

As for Leicester, it's another year of underachievement.

Leeds United's Defectors see Norwich through to Premiership Survival

How choking must that be? As Nice Guy Brian jets off on holiday scratching his bald pallet and wondering how he can ever get Leeds back into the Prem, Norwich thump West Brom 4-0, with two of their goals scored by Robert Snakeinthegrass and Jonny Howson; with even Becchio getting on to the pitch for the last 4 minutes of normal time.

Mind you, if Wigan go down, Whelan should sue West Brom who played with as much fire in their bellies as a QPR team under Mark Hughes and 'Arry Redknapp!

Lightweight Gulf Finance House Seeking Early Exit From Leeds?

What a mess. New manager, new transfer window, new hope, new opportunities, new season ahead - and same old mess at Leeds United.

The club desperately needs three things: money, new players and stability. What are Gulf Finance House / Gulf Finance Capital offering? Very little money so far, no pledge on signing new players and an atmosphere of uncertainty, bordering on chaos.

Poor Nice Guy Brian, no wonder he needs a holiday. He's given the Board his wish list and now he needs a break. He's only been in charge for a month but he's off, turning his back on the cloud that hangs over Elland Road.

The cloud? What cloud? Leeds fans will demand in Sunny Jim Callaghan fashion. Well perhaps it's not a cloud, perhaps it's a sand storm. The Arab Bank Built On Sand made a profit last year. A profit of one million! That means buying one leg of Adam Le Fondre would take the entire company into loss! What a farce!

Now the parent company has confirmed that it is seeking "an early exit" from its strategic investments. Is it any wonder? Leeds have been bought as a trading chip and the trouble is GFH were duped into buying a club that nobody else is interested in.

Leeds fans hoping for a flood of new players had better readjust expectations quickly. There may be a few free transfers and a few loan deals but there won't be a lot more. And meanwhile, Sam Byram will be burning a hole in the Arab bank's thawb. £8m is eight times the entire company's profit last year!

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Could Becchio make a quick return to Leeds from Norwich?

You win some, you lose some, and eventually Norwich were going to sign a duff from Leeds - and Becchio seems to be it. Since his switch to Carrow Road, Norwich have been shite, but the Argentine has still seen very little game time. Like nutmeg in Delia Smith's shepherd's pie, he is the wrong ingredient for the wrong dish.

So if Norwich do survive another season in the Prem, what are they going to do with Becchio? One simple solution would be to loan him back to Leeds, paying a chunk of his wages to make the move possible.

The advantages to Leeds are obvious. The club get a proven goal scorer in the division on the cheap and a guy who knows his way around Elland Road, with plenty of friends in the team. Sure the fans may be a tad resentful at first, but if Becchio starts banging in the goals, all would be forgiven very quickly.

It may seem like an absurd proposition but Southampton signed Sharp for half a season and then, when it was clear that he was not Premiership standard, loaned him out to Forest, so the precedent has been set.

It would be a little embarrassing for Norwich, but why pay £25k a week to a guy to do nothing when they could pay £15k? Everyone's a winner!

As Leicester's Nugent finds his scoring boots, where has Watford's Vydra put his?

The first leg was a tale of two non scoring strikers. Nugent, one of the worst players ever to wear an England shirt, hadn't netted since the end of January, whilst Vydra lost his way as soon as he was linked with a move to Arsenal, and following GianFredo's decision to withdraw him in the Wolves game that ultimately cost Udinese Calcio automatic promotion.

It's true that Nugent didn't need scoring boots to net his goal, just boots with a spring in the heel, but it looks like Vydra traded his for a pair of Czech clogs back in early March. His effort when clean through on Thursday was nothing other than pathetic and said everything about a man out of form and devoid of confidence.

So now Udinese Calcio have to come from behind and Leicester know that should they score, they will have a massive advantage - because netting three times in any must win game is a huge ask. Zola's men cracked under the pressure against Leeds and are now favourites to do so again against Leicester. Yes Deeney's back, but Deeney aint Ronaldo is he?

Thursday, 9 May 2013

A golden opportunity for Arsenal to mortally wound Spurs

Life's a bitch! A draw against Chelsea, under normal circumstances, would be a good result, but Spurs are now off the pace in the race for the Champions League and have to rely on either the Gunners or the Plastics slipping up.

And this year has far more hanging on it than simple qualification for the Champions League. Ronaldo may well leave Real Madrid, opening the door for Bale to replace him. And if Spurs are in the You're Ropey League, why would the World's third best player want to hang around at White Hart Lane?

AVB has had a good first season in charge, but if Spurs miss out and Bale bales out, his chances of still being in the job come the end of next season will be slim. Arsenal have one foot on Tottenham's skull and the club is raised ready to be smashed down on the Cocky Fool upstarts.

Unless Pardew upsets Wenger again!

McDermott's words should concern Leeds fans

Ouch. It would appear from Nice Guy Brian's carefully re-crafted words on the Official Site that he has had his conversation with Messrs Haigh and Patel and that he has been told not to expect much money to invest in the squad.

How else can you interpret his assertion that: "We want to upgrade the training ground as well. We want to build this football club. We want to make this a great football club again. It's not just about building a team. We need to build it from each stage from where we are to where we need to get to, and I'm really looking forward to the challenge.The training ground is a great facility, but we just think we can improve certain things to make it absolutely top class because we want things to be top class at Leeds United"?  To me, that sounds like a shift in priority away from the present squad and towards less expensive investment. There is also a whiff of revised timescales.

There's no mention here of chasing promotion next season, instead the notion of building "stage by stage" implies a much longer timescale. Let's get the training facilities right, then paint the Director's lounge the following season, then upgrade the public toilets the following season, then hopefully some of the kids will come through and we can start thinking of sending out a team fit to challenge for promotion.

Look at what McDermott is now saying about new signings! Instead of  the bullish mantra of getting deals done early, Nice Guy Brian sounds a much more sobering, some may say sombre note, when he warns, "I've also done a list of players I think will be good for the squad. Ideally, you'd like them in when you start pre-season, but my experiences of transfer windows are that things move slower than you'd like. What will be will be, and we will try and recruit the best we can."

Does that sound optimistic to you? Does that sound like a man who has been promised a transfer war-chest?  Does that sound like a man who expects to attract the best, or even the second best? "The best we can" sounds like somebody shopping in second hand stores because he is unable to afford Primark prices! Meanwhile, the "what will be will be" has a horribly fatalistic ring about it.

Leeds fans will protest that I am reading too much into this, but the contrast between this "on script McDermott" quoted on the Official Site, and the off script McDermott talking from the hip to the Press couldn't be more marked. He doesn't even say that the club and chasing his targeted players, simply that he thinks they would be good for the squad.

Maybe, just maybe, Nice Guy Brian is beginning to wake up to the truth that GFH Capital are not in a position to finance a push for the Prem. A case of 'Out of the Reading frying pan and into the Leeds fire!' perhaps.

Leeds United announce first deal of roller coaster summer

Well, Nice Guy Brian wasn't messing when he said he wanted to get deals done early this summer! No sooner has the season ended than the Official Site announces the club's first deal of what is sure to prove a roller coaster summer. Yes folks, as the Official Site proudly announced yesterday, season ticket holders and members get a 50% discount at Flamingo World!

The idea of disgruntled Leeds fans rocking up at the theme park desperate for excitement as the play offs begin has a certain wicked appeal. Mind you, the new Leeds United roller coaster ride, entitled the Whites Knuckled Gentle Dipper doesn't sound too promising. Punters climb aboard camel shaped cars and the ride gently climbs up to a height of eight meters, before sliding back down again, before climbing again to a height of eight meters, before sliding back down again, before climbing again to a height of eight meters before sliding back down again, before climbing again to a height of eight meters, before sliding back down again, before...

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

A huge missed opportunity for Leeds United

When the history books are written, there's a danger that the chapter dedicated to the 2012-13 season will be entitled "A huge missed opportunity". The season started full of hope and ended with a pathetic whimper.

Of course, some will say, so what, the same applied to the previous season! But 2012-13 was different, because in 2012-13, following the promotion of West Ham, Southampton and Reading, there were no outstanding teams in the division and promotion was there for the taking.

Looking ahead to next season, will Wigan, QPR and Reading perform as badly as Wolves, Blackburn and Bolton following their relegation? It seems unlikely. QPR and Reading know the division and know how to get out of it. It's true that QPR may implode, but if they retain 60% of their present squad, they would have to be amongst the favourites for an automatic promotion spot. And you would fancy both Reading and Wigan to be there or thereabouts.

Bolton, meanwhile, are likely to offer a more sustained challenge next season, whilst you would expect the three play off losers to be contenders and Nottingham Forest to be stronger with Billy Davies at the helm for a full season backed by Arab cash.

Meanwhile, Leeds must reflect ruefully on the fact that Leicester qualified for the play offs with a paltry 68 points, SEVEN points less than sixth placed Cardiff achieved last season, whilst Hull secured automatic promotion with SEVEN less points than West Ham amassed the previous season when finishing third. The fact that Cardiff were able to storm the division with a squad not significantly stronger than the one that finished sixth the previous season says everything about the poor standard of the Championship this time around.

Of course, Leeds fans are hoping that McDermott will have a stronger squad at his disposal next season, but there's no getting away from the fact that had GFH Capital grasped the nettle in January and signed two or three decent players, Leeds would probably now be in the playoffs given the way Leicester collapsed but still qualified. It was a huge miscalculation not to invest in that window and until we see the colour of GFH Capital's money, there must be a doubt as to whether they are actually able to finance a push for the Prem.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Sunderland still in deep trouble!

In the end, you have to say that a point is better than nothing, and playing with only 10 men for most of the game, Blunderland fans must have feared the worst. But is one point enough?

Sunderland now face two difficult games and, without a striker or creative midfielder worthy of the name, they could well end up losing both. At best, I expect them to pick up one point, which will leave them dependent on the results of others to stay up.

Wigan's game at home to Swansea is now critical. If they win that one, Newcastle and Sunderland will be in deep, deep shit!

Sheffield United put to sword by little old Yeovil Town

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. So the velvet Glovers have vanquished the Blunted Blades. Another play off campaign, another abject failure for McScab's Shafting United. And this is set to continue for as long as the club holds on to the Devil's coinage. Give back the twenty five million extorted over the Tevez affair, and you will be allowed out of Purgatory. Until then, you will burn!

What a performance from Yeovil! The Championship is now just one game away! Just imagine, Yeovil Town versus Leeds United in a league game! Back in the day, when I stood on the terraces of the old Huish, cheering on Myers, Clancey, Plumb, Davies and Housley, Yeovil were in the Southern League and Leeds United were the best team in the country. We did not dare dream of ever playing in the same league! What a journey!

Monday, 6 May 2013

Can Leicester slip into the Prem ahead of Watford on the back of relegation form in the Championship?

I posted last week that Leicester could still slip into a play off place, despite diabolical form since the end of January, and the improbable happened courtesy of an implausible combination of results. With Forest over committing in a desperate attempt to snatch a winner, Leicester broke and Wood showed excellent composure to set up the winner. Now it is all to play for!

Can Leicester do it? Well the play offs are not the lottery that most people seem to think - with the team finishing third making it to the Prem more often than not - but in this crazy, crazy Championship season, you have to believe that there is another freak outcome in store. If Peterborough can go down with 14 more points than the team that finished fourth from bottom last season, anything is possible!

In truth this is a rank bad division where luck and confidence play a disproportionate role. Look at the Leeds victory at Watford which enabled Hull to secure promotion despite missing a penalty minutes before the end of their game against Cardiff - Leeds scored twice but both goals were jokes and down, sadly, to a rookie keeper playing because of injuries to the first choice keepers. Hull weren't promoted because of their efforts, they went up because of Keystone Kops keeping from a kid.

Never mind that Udinese Calcio finished nine points ahead of Leicester, what counts is the psychological state of both sets of players as they go in to the two legged head to head. Watford know that they blew it on Saturday, and no matter what GianFredo says, there will be recriminations in the dressing room. Look at the amiable Italian's face as Deeney walked passed him after seeing red on Saturday! Zola will try to raise his players spirits but two more games may seem like a bloody chore for a bunch of players who are not even employees. Unpaid overtime? Eating in to their holidays? Why take on yet another game, even if it is at Wembley?

And meanwhile the mangy Foxes are on a high. They have no right to be in the play offs given their results since the end of January but they are there regardless. Destiny awaits. Fate demands. And Leicester can play without fear because they were dead and buried 7 days ago!

The Guessing Game starts at Leeds

So does Nice Guy Brian want "six or seven" new recruits, or does his list include options, should his first and second targets prove unobtainable? That's the first of so many questions provoked by news of the "hit list" passed by the bespectacled boss to his GFH Capital employers.

It could be the Warnock speaking last summer as McDermott warns, "Giving a list and getting players over the line isn’t the same and it’s not easy to get players over the line. My experience of football is that sometimes it takes longer than you’d like" and we all remember that, like Brian, Old Big Gob was keen "to do business early" because "Recruitment is going to be really important for us.”

Of course, there's no surprise that McDermott wants to recruit - every team in the Championship will be planning to do exactly the same thing - but the big question, which remains unanswered, is how much GFH Capital are prepared to invest. Many Leeds fans hope that the parsimonious approach adopted in January was prompted by the knowledge that the Warnock was leaving, and will repeat the mantra that it would be stupid to announce how much there is to spend, for fear of alerting selling clubs and so raising prices, but some sort of public commitment from the Board would be reassuring.

Do Leeds really need seven? Two strikers should be the priority, then there's a need for somebody with pace to play wide, and then there's a crying need for a play maker. The defence is decent but perhaps an additional centre back is required. That's five. Invest £2m on each recruit and that's only an outlay of £10m, and that's not much of a punt with the megabucks of the Prem as the jackpot.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Leeds so lucky at Watford

Any Leeds fans taking the game at Watford as a guide for next season should not get too excited. On paper, a 2-1 win away to Udinese Calcio sounds bloody impressive, but watching the highlights, it has to go down as one of the luckiest wins of the century.

If the Warnock was in charge of the Italian loanees, he would have rocked up for the press conference armed with a laptop to show the nation's press how, "Honestly, it was daylight robbery out there. It was criminal. Diabolical. There was only one team who was going to win that game and it wasn't Leeds." Oh, and Old Big Gob would have told everybody that Deeney was "Stupid" because he had "Let everybody down out there. Me, himself, the chairman, his team mates, the fans, the Pozzos, Vladimir, Estragon, the people of Italy..."

All season Leeds have struggled to score goals, and neither of their "strikes" against Watford was fashioned by skill nor judgement. For the first goal, Poleon deserves credit for chasing lost causes but it was a terrible mix up by keeper and defender that gave him the opportunity to net from a yard out. And the second was painful to watch because young Bonham is so hopeless as McCormack makes a hash of his attempted chip but still ends up on the score sheet. A joke!

On the positive side, Leeds only shipped one goal, but they were playing against 10 men for one third of the game and Anya looked like Messi for the goal, weaving round half the Leeds team before setting up Abdi. And Podgy had to make an excellent save to prevent 10 man Udinese taking the lead.

So it was a famous victory of sorts, but only because it facilitated the promotion of Hull City. For Leeds, it was a bit of fun but a poor indicator for next season. Any talk of "domination of the division" next season based on this game would appear absurdly optimistic and indicative of the problem that has dogged the club for almost two decades: unrealistic expectations.

Nice Guy Brian should be pleased with the result but concerned about the reaction. It's going to take time and money to float the Leeds boat, but I'm not sure he will be given either. I expect Haigh has already planned his conversation with McDermott: "Money to revamp the squad? Why when we have the players to win away to Watford?"

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Can Watford sign a goalkeeper from Udinese on an emergency loan?

With keepers going down like skittles, GianFredo Zola must be regarding the playoffs with a degree of anxiety. He can say as many Hail Marys as he likes, but if he is obliged to rely on Bonham between the sticks, Udinese Calcio's chances of making the Prem would appear to be slim.

You have to feel sorry for the kid, pitched into such a crucial game when not even on the bench an hour or so before kick off; but all the sympathy in the world isn't going to set the boy's head straight, so with Almunia ruled out today and his replacement Bond nursing a broken nose and suffering from concussion, Udinese Calcio face a keeping crisis.

So is Zola allowed to go to Pozzo to ask him for yet another loanee? There will be many who cry foul if he does, but there are special dispensations for keepers and you can be sure that the rules will be bent any which way in a desperate attempt to secure promotion to the Prem.

Wigan's victory keeps pressure on Sunderland, Newcastle and Norwich

Have Wigan begun their long awaited charge? The late equaliser against Spurs should have alerted their rivals that they weren't going to go down with a whimper, and victory at West Brom today, after twice being behind, will set alarm bells ringing in the North East and in Norfolk.

Norwich host West Brom next week, and the Baggies are an unpredictable outfit, as their victory at Southampton showed last week. The Canaries must pick up at least one point from that game because they finish at the Etihad - and you wouldn't fancy their chances of getting anything there even if their lives depended upon it!

Newcastle might also live to regret today's result. At face value, a point at Upton Park was satisfactory, but should Pardew's Posers slip up at QPR, their last game at home to Arsenal will be fraught with danger.

Sunderland have an easier run in, but who knows how Il Duce's troops will cope under pressure. And Wigan's run in is the easiest of the lot. There's more water to flow under the relegation bridge yet!

Stunning end to Championship season for Hull, Watford, Leeds, Leicester, Nottingham Forest, Bolton, Peterborough and Wolves

Bloody hell, talk about the implausible, the improbable and the downright illogical. Leeds with the second worst away record in the division, and on the back of two defeats, go to Udinese Calcio, who stuffed them 6-1 at Elland Road, and win 2-1, courtesy of a last minute winner; whilst Hull do their level best to help Zola's men win automatic promotion by failing to beat Cardiff, yet still go up.

Meanwhile, even more sensational events conspired to allow Leicester, truly hopeless since the end of January, to claim the final play off place by winning at, of all places, Nottingham Forest, at the expense of Bolton who couldn't capitalise on a final home game against Blackpool; what a missed opportunity for the Trotters!

Mind you, Bolton fans might look back on the season with a sense of relief given the way Wolves slipped straight through the Championship into the old Third Division and the way Blackburn did their level best to join them. Bolton themselves spent half the season in the wrong half of the table so, despite a good run in the final third of the season, did not deserve a return to the Prem.

But your heart has to go out to Peterborough. They started the season abysmally but have been one of the form teams of the division since Christmas - yet amazingly they go down on 54 points! Talk about Sod's Law!

And let's stick with Sod's Law shall we? Because this was a great day for Leeds, avenging that Elland Road thumping at the hands of Udinese Calcio, with young Dominic Poleon scoring into the bargain; but horror upon horrors, their victory enabled rivals Hull City to return to the Premiership. Life's a bitch when you support Leeds United isn't it?

Watford have edge over Hull because Leeds are far weaker than Cardiff

Never mind the relative strengths of Udinese Calcio and Hull City, today's playoff shoot out boils down to the quality of the two contenders' opponents. If Cardiff are still focused, Hull are at a massive disadvantage because, as Nice Guy Brian is beginning to understand, the Leeds squad he has inherited is woefully inadequate.

After the 6-1 home humiliation at the hands of the Calabroni, Leeds should have their pride to play for, but the Warnock convinced them after the game that they were the better team and had been robbed by poor refereeing decisions. In fact, the guys in the Leeds dressing room don't understand that they have lost a game all season. It was always down to the officials or stupid Tom Lees. And nothing has changed under Nice Guy Brian who blamed the absurd sending off of AllAgro for the last Leeds reverse.

All that said, Zola is absolutely convinced that the families have united to block Udinese's promotion to the Prem. If Leeds are awarded a dodgy penalty today, or a Calabrone is dismissed, expect cries of ingiusto.

Watford have to be clear favourites to win the game, even if the officials are wearing Leeds kits when they run out on to the pitch, which puts all the pressure on Hull and Steve Bruce.

Hull's recent form is poor and their strikers have forgotten how to score - which is bad news when you are playing against the divisional Champions who have built success on a water tight defence. If Cardiff score early, or news comes through that Watford are ahead, alarm bells will start ringing and the players will start to panic. The only hope for Hull is if Cardiff arrive unfocused because their season is over.

Meanwhile, Leeds are cast in the embarrassing role of "making up the numbers". Three of the clubs involved are dreaming of the Prem; Leeds fans are simply relieved that the club is not involved in the battle to avoid the drop which involves all eight clubs beneath them.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Leeds United Wield The Velvet Axe!

Oh dear, what a shame - and I don't mean that sarcastically. The decision not to offer contract extensions to Bromby and Somma following their injuries is genuinely sad. But full marks to the club for keeping the door open to both players, giving them hope of redemption in this time of dejection. Bromby is staying on as a coach for the youth team and Somma will join in pre season training. So Nice Guy Brian is living up to his nickname!

Mind you, there's a harder edge to the axe for 8 other players - and the biggest loss is unquestionably Monty Gimpel. With a name like that, poor Monty was never going to go far in the game, but this blog has missed all sorts of headline opportunities because of the decision to release him. I was itching for him to make his debut so I could post "Bring out the Gimp"!

Haribo has also been shown the door after barely kicking a ball for the club. There was much excitement when the sherbet fountain was signed but it seems he was more of a jellybean than an allsort.

Still it means there's plenty of spaces in the squad for McDermott to fill - if GFH Capital will alow him!

West Ham fans cheering on Yeovil against Sheffield United

Yeovil in Somerset: Population 40,000.

Sheffield in Yorkshire: Population 550,000+

Yeovil Town FC  ground capacity 9,565

Shafting United's ground capacity 32,609

Yeovil Town operate on a shoestring budget but have declared a profit for 3 years in succession; Shafting United have received £20m+ from West Ham as compensation for having a shit team and getting relegated. It's a bit like a poodle taking on a pit bull.

Every West Ham fan will be cheering on Yeovil tonight!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Former Leeds Manager Warnock defends his record after criticism by QPR's Fernandes

It's not often I agree with Old Big Gob but just how he is to blame for QPR's relegation is beyond me. When he was sacked, QPR were not in a relegation place, and despite the absurd money spent by Fernandes, Hughes and Redknapp, the hapless Hoops have never reached the heights achieved under the Warnock.

Fernandes is, of course, desperately trying to deflect the blame. He was wrong to sack Warnock. He was wrong to appoint Hughes. He was wrong to leave Hughes in charge until November. And he was wrong to sanction the mad, mad, mad signings of Warnock, Hughes and Redknapp.

Old Big Gob was surprisingly restrained when replying to the ludicrous Fernandes charge, suggesting that he may be operating under some sort of gagging order. Either that or he is biding his time until his biography is serialised in one of the nationals!

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Former West Ham Boss Redknapp Calls Leeds History

Charming. Leeds fans got terribly excited when QPR's old codger 'Arry found his way to the press room and remembered the names of a few football clubs currently condemned to the Championship. Like a contestant on a quiz show challenged to name ten teams in the second tier of English football, 'Arry started with the big ones - Derby and Nottingham Forest and then, with the great Brian Clough clearly in mind, he stumbled upon Leeds United.

But listen to him closely and 'Arry dismisses the club as "history", when he says, "Leeds United – one of the great football clubs in history in my opinion."

Ouch! Like Lithuania once had a kingdom stretching across Northern Central Europe, and Steps once dominated the UK charts, and Yorkshire once were a power in English County Cricket, Leeds United were once one of the great football clubs but, as 'Arry says, that's "history".

Still, credit where credit is due, and Leeds fans get very excited about the smallest of things these days. - and to have a former West Ham manager mention their team is a huge honour. After all, 'Arry did play in claret and blue with the three guys who won the World Cup for England!

;   }

Leeds fans hoping Bates is President for life

Well, the agreed term of Master Bates Presidency is fixed at three years so 99% of Leeds fans will be hoping that Master Bates dies in his honorary role!

Given all that granite is going spare after the aborted plan to build the Warnock's statue, I wonder if it will be used to build a bust of Bates' head? If positioned appropriately, with mouth open, it might at least stop the Leeds fans pissing in the wind!