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!

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Leeds 0 QPR 1 - Class is permanent, history is...well, history

I know it must be McGalling but, when two teams take to the field of play, what happened in the previous McCentury really has no bearing on the McOutcome. 'Arry talked up the Leeds of yore but when asked about the club's prospects of making it to the Prem inside the next two years was pretty damn disdainful. And that was before today's McVictory!

You have to feel sorry for the Leeds McFaithful. They were getting genuinely excited, and with the Mighty McCormack signing a McContract to keep him in McDonalds for the next four years, everything in the garden was suddenly coming up McRoses before today's McGame. And then along came Mc'Arry to pop the bubble and derail the McFeelgood McFactor McExpress to the English Prem.

Once again, Leeds looked McToothless going forward when up against decent opposition and this first McDefeat of the season puts everything into perspective - because one win from three home games really isn't the form of promotion contenders.

Where will Leeds be come the end of the afternoon? Seventh? Eighth? Ninth? Or lower? So much, it seems for the McDermott McRevolution!

And yes, I admit it, I was wrong. This Leeds team are not as good as I McThought they were!

Agent pulls out all the stops to secure McCormack a 4 year deal at Leeds

Ok, there are some players who spend years and years and years outside of the top division who, when eventually given their chance, suddenly shine. Lambert at Southampton is one. But they are few and far between. Generally, the Premiership scouts know what they are up to, and if they suspect a player isn't up to it, for the most part, the player doesn't merit a chance.

And Ross McCormack is almost certainly one of those "nearly men". Fine, he has played for Scotland but that's akin to saying that you have run the London Marathon - in a time of fifteen hours and 45 minutes!

He is now 27 and apart from 11 games for Glasgow Rangers has never come near to playing at the top of the game. True, he has had an impressive start to the season but his goal against Ipswich was a keeper error and he only scored from the spot against Donny. If everybody is honest, Ross is a journeyman player who, through endeavour, makes the best of his limited God given ability.

So the excitement at him signing a 4 year deal, although understandable, is somewhat over the top. The Leeds board have set a target of being in the Prem in two years time, so what will they do with Ross for the last two years of his contract?

Of course, a player signing a contract extension is no guarantee that he will stay. It simply means that his sales value increases and he is in a stronger position to negotiate a higher wage at a buying club, but with the window due to slam shut on Monday, it looks as if McCormack will be at Leeds until January at least. Tony Nobody must almost certainly look elsewhere.

But the question is, did McCormack's agent engineer a better deal for his client than the Leeds United board needed to pay? Mind you, Leeds fans won't give a toss if the Scot scores the winner that sinks QPR today!

Friday, 30 August 2013

QPR v Leeds - Clash of the second tier Titans!

So this is the big one! Leeds have punched their weight against all comers thus far, but now there is a belt at stake and a stronger chin will be called upon to withstand the ex Premiership punches.

Favourite backers will push the case for the Hula Hoops but the omens for the Reverend's choir boys are good. 'Arry  'as a complex. West Ham's record against Bastard United is dreadful, as all you Leeds fans delight in telling me, and I genuinely suspect that former 'Ammer manager and player 'Arry in in awe of Revie's boys.  Why else talk up the club unless he is scared of losing?

Sensibly, the Wheeler Dealer Dog Financier Extraordinaire should be banging the "Has been" drum, playing upon all sorts of insecurities and touching nerves that this blog presses almost by the day. Like it not, and Leeds fans detest it, history counts for sod all. Just ask Manchester City and Chelsea! And Preston North End for that matter!

Great club? For two narrow windows of the last century sure, but little old Lithuania once had an empire extending across the best part of North East Europe! Time waits for no man, as they say, not even a man of the cloth like Reverend McDermott.

And player for player, QPR should piss all over Leeds. McDermott dreams of having a striker of the calibre of Johnson, Austin or Zamora, and Redknapp has all three! I'm no fan of Green, but at least he has to spread himself to block a shot, unlike Podgy who just breathes out and fills two thirds of the goal without moving a muscle. And so it goes on.

But QPR will arrive angst ridden courtesy of Redknapp's outdated awe for the ultimate All Our Yesterdays club, whilst McDermott will be telling his team that, with faith, you can climb any mountain. And I back passion and belief to overcome superior skill and mega expenditure. Correct score for tomorrow? My money's on a 2-1 win for Leeds!

Dare Sessegnon show his face in Sunderland again?

What a disgrace! Given the night off as his team battled for a place in the next round of the Capital One Fan Cup, pacey striker Sessegnon was arrested for drink driving. Now, of course, lots of people will get up on their high horses about that and rabbit on about how footballers should be setting an example to youngsters, blah, blah, blah.

And presumably his prospective new employers, Al-Jaish, might be just a tad concerned given Qatar is a Muslim country.

But how can you blame Sessegnon? Talk about mixed emotions! Just imagine being in his shoes. His agent rings him up and says, "Great news, I've found a way for getting you out of Sunderland" and pauses as Sessegnon ejaculates in delight and punches the air in celebration, before adding. "You're going to Qatar instead!" Talk about out of the shit hole and into the sewer!

But all of this could have been forgiven by the Blunderland fans but for one thing. Where was Sessegnon when arrested? Only in bloody Newcastle!

Thursday, 29 August 2013

All aboard the Leeds United Feel Good Factor Express to the Prem!

Well, another game, another win! This really is becoming something of a habit! True it was the Capital One Fan Cup - and Old Big Gob Warnock did well in that - and true it was only little old Donny - but so what, a win is a win, and the more wins you accumulate, the better the morale and the easier the next win becomes.

All credit to the Reverend. He has been preaching positivity ever since mounting the steps to the Leeds United pulpit and, so far, he is making the Board at Reading FC look total twats. Leeds fans won't know this, but I was scathing in my criticism of the Berkshire club when they sacked McDermott because the club owed him so much for getting them to the promised land in the first place. For that reason alone, I hope Leeds finish above them come the end of the season.

Most pleasing of all for Leeds fans is that the kids did well, with the new lad from the Scum scoring on his debut, Poleon playing well and Smith also netting. True, Leeds left it late to find the second and third goal, but I often find myself saying that West Ham have scored too early. Get them late and the opposition don't have time to retaliate.

No negatives here. McDermott deserves the Freedom of the City and half a dozen camels for what he has achieved so far. Who knows, that Feel Good Factor Express might even make a stop at Wembley - and I don't even mean in the play offs!

Monday, 26 August 2013

Middlesbrough's Mowbray compares Leeds United's McCormack to Rooney and Suarez!

Ok, Tony Nobody wasn't comparing the playing ability of the Scottish international with the granny shagger and the Uruguayan cannibal, but even mentioning the three in the same breath is inviting a degree of ridicule. Mind you, given the way Miserablebrough ended last season, Mowbray must be quite familiar with ridicule.

The point he was making is that the door has not yet closed on the McCormack transfer saga. Suarez may yet go, albeit to Real Madrid rather than Arsenal, and Rooney could yet leave Manchester United. Both clubs have insisted their men are not for sale, but the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. Mowbray could, of course, have mentioned Gareth Bale whilst he was about it.

To be fair, in all three cases, the players have been pressing for a move, whereas McCormack has repeatedly said he is happy at Leeds. But that's before he has heard the salary Boro might be willing to offer him.

It's an old clichĂ© but true nevertheless - money talks; and despite the history of both clubs, the Smoggies have more of it than Leeds. Past glories will not give McCormack the financial security he and his agent will crave, and if Boro dangle a big enough carrot, the Scotsman is not going to prove the stereotype wrong in a hurry.

Tony Nobody concedes that it will "not be easy" for Leeds to part with a player who has scored 3 goals already this season, but he insists, "I don't think it's over."

Leeds fans will point to the on going contract negotiations as proof that McCormack is going nowhere but he is under contract anyway so this is irrelevant. A longer contract and a higher wage simply inflates McCormack's transfer value and puts him in a stronger bargaining position when negotiating terms should he move.

And Middlesbrough may not be his final destination. Blackpool have bid for him and are now flush with £5m from the sale of Phillips. And I still have a hunch that 'Arry will make a last minute bid.

If Mowbray hasn't given up hope, Leeds fans shouldn't take anything for granted.

After West Ham game, Newcastle are learning the cost of buying French!

With Cabaye refusing to take to the field against West Ham, and those who deigned to do so playing with all the passion of a eunuch on potassium bromide, poor old Pants Down is learning the cost of banking on the French. Basically, they show up when they want to, but when not in the mood the best you are going to get out of them is a shrug of the shoulders and an oral ejaculation which is less "Over the top lads" and more "Pah!"

As a West Ham fan, I was delighted with the ease with which we protected our own goal on Saturday. That freakish cross shot apart, we didn't look in the least bit troubled all afternoon, with the back four looking as water tight as the Italian national team in their miserly pomp. It wasn't that the Newcastle team lacked ability, it was that they lacked any drive and desire. It was almost as if they thought they were still in pre season.

Now we have seen at World Cups how a French dressing room can settle into a collective sulk when they decide somebody else should porter la boite de conserve and another failure against Fulham is likely to trigger all sorts of mutterings about the manager, the tactics, the unflattering kit, the miserable weather, the uncultured women, the horrible English food, the traffic jams, the distance from La Manche, the Director of Football, British television, the state of the pitch, the odd way that Pardew looks at their wives, the funny currency, warm beer, the failure to assign masculine and feminine to nouns, the inability of the locals to speak French, the inability of the locals to speak English and living in a country with a monarchy! Mon Dieu!

These are worrying times. The imminent departure of Cabaye will leave Newcastle little or no time to source a replacement, and the Laurel & Hardy of football, messers Pardew & Kinnear, are unlikely to agree on targets anyway. Pardew said he should be judged after the next two games; well half way in, and the guillotine is being sharpened!

Could Millwall loanee Morison be sent back early to Leeds?

Ouch. Literally. The Welsh Goal Machine that is Steve Morison faces surgery on an abdominal injury which, depending on the recuperation time, could see him sent back to Leeds and back on to the wage bill.

With the Reverend McDermott already under pressure to reduce that wage bill, this is the last thing Leeds need. Even when fully fit, Morison isn't wanted, so imagine the chagrin at the thought of paying him wages inflated by a stint in the Prem, whilst he lies on the treatment table cuddling a stuffed sheep.

Nice Guy Brian is still keen to sign one more player - a wide man it seems rather than an out and out striker - and is desperate to free up some wages by offloading unwanted players. The trouble is, Old Big Gob Warnock offered a comfortable resting place to a whole host of washed up journeymen, and nobody else seems keen to give them an alternative home.

After the excellent win at Ipswich and an impressive start to the season, the last thing McDermott wants is pressure to part with a first pick player to ease the financial pressures at the club. Miserablebrough are still hovering!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

QPR's capture of Phillips is scary news for Nottingham Forest, Wigan, Watford, Leeds, Leicester and all the other promotion wannabes

It's increasingly looking as if only one automatic promotion place is up for grabs this season because, on the eve of Financial Fair Play, QPR are going shit or bust on pocket jacks.

Redknapp has made some sensible signings, has retained the core of a decent Championship team and now, in the form of Phillips, has added a genuine ace to the pack.

This boy is good. He's quick, skilful and is unquestionably one of the better players in the division. Johnson, Austin and Zamora will thrive on his crosses, if they can stay fit, and it will now take one unholy cock up, or a dreadful plague of injuries, to stop QPR bouncing straight back into the Prem.

I was no fan of Fernandes in the Prem because he was chucking his money around as if QPR had a right to sit at the very top table, but buying total mediocrity. The gRRRs couldn't see it, of course, and like Leeds fans under Warnock, hailed the arrival of every journeyman signing as if he was Gareth Bale. And Rangers got what they deserved, a bloody nose.

But full marks to the QPR Board now. It may blow up in their faces, but when there is a huge pot on the table and you have a pretty decent hand, you have to play it for all its worth. Whilst clubs like Leicester and Leeds use FFP as an excuse for penny pinching and navel gazing, Fernandes has said, "Bollocks, let's get out of this pox arse division before the penalties cut in." And all credit to him.

The fans of other teams will chunter away about the need for a level playing field but clubs like Leeds enjoy much bigger gates than QPR and with more visionary leadership, could be sending out a similar message. McDermott has said he wants a winger, and would no doubt have given his right arm to sign Phillips. But despite history, Leeds are now a financial minnow alongside the rainbow trout that is QPR.

So Forest, Wigan, Watford, Leicester, Leeds and co are all now competing for one place, or a ticket to the misery that is the play offs.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Sheffield United's spell in Purgatory set to continue

Oh dear. Another game, another defeat for the Blunted Blades, this time against newly promoted Yorkshire rivals Bradford City. Already a gap of 8 points has widened between Shafting United and the teams at the top, and there's nothing to suggest that a push for promotion will follow anytime soon.

There's only one way of ending this nightmare spell in Purgatory, and that's for the club to pay back the £25m blood money extorted from West Ham over the Tevez affair. But, of course, that's not possible because the club have somehow frittered it away.

£25m? That would be enough to buy a team capable of winning the Championship, never mind the old Third Division, but such is the incompetence of McScab and the managers he has appointed since the departure of Old Big Gob Warnock, that Sheffield United continue to slide.

How ironic that Sheffield United's benefactor in chief, Scotty Duxbury may be back in the Prem next season with little old Watford whilst McScab's mob continue to rot in an ante room of Hell.


McCormack adds £500,000 to value with third league goal for Leeds

Well if Middlesbrough want McCormack, they are going to have to up their offer now! Just as I predicted, Leeds won and, just as I predicted, Reg Varney maintained his goals per game ratio, but much more importantly, McCormack netted the winner again, showing exactly why Tony Nobody wants him, and why GFH would have to be in dire financial straits to let him go.

This really was a big win for Leeds. The three previous results were arguably par for the course, but in view of recent history, a win at Ipswich seems to indicate that a corner has genuinely been turned.  And given McDermott's teams traditionally start the season slowly, 8 points from 4 games - with no defeats - is a wonderful return, and Leeds fans will be gloating justifiably tonight.

There's only one cloud on the horizon. Redknapp still has money burning a hole in his pocket and he may yet take a fancy to Ross. Never mind £2m, 'Arry would gladly part with £5m of Fernandes' money if he thought he would strengthen his squad and weaken a rival team!

Ashes Splashes - A great opportunity for cricket to recover credibility tomorrow

So there's two options for tomorrow's final day of the Ashes summer. Either England could "do the professional thing" by batting on and nailing down a 3-0 series win, or the captains could get together and set up a thrilling final day. If play starts on time, England should declare immediately in return for an Australian promise to declare with the lead at 285, leaving England the remainder of the day to chase the target and giving the Aussies the chance to win the game by taking ten wickets.

Sod the draw. Cricket fans have paid good money for a ticket and after the dire third day, and the wash out today, the England team have a duty to prioritise entertainment. Even if the Aussies win, it will mean nothing. Psychologically the engineered result will prove nout, and in any case, Cook's negativity since the second test has already breathed life into the previously moribund lungs of the Australians.

I'm sure Clarke would accept any offer from Cook - he's that sort of guy - and so the onus is on England team - management and players - to show that they care about the sport. Let's pray the rain stays away, the declarations are made and, going in to the final over of the day, England need six runs to win and the Aussies one wicket.

Middlesbrough's Mowbray Threatens Leeds in Pursuit of McCormack

Well, it wasn't subtle! Tony Nobody has put a gun to the temple of GFH Capital and threatened to pull the trigger, by warning that Boro may look elsewhere if the Arabs aren't careful. Anybody who thinks he has given up in his pursuit of McCormack is very much mistaken, and anybody who thinks that Leeds have slammed the door shut on a possible deal is blithely misguided.

Why haven't Boro signed Becchio? Because they want McCormack. Why are Boro expressing an interest in the former Leeds top scorer? To show Leeds that they have other irons in the fire and are not over a barrel, desperate to sign the Scot. Why are Boro still sniffing around? Because nobody at Leeds has categorically stated that Ross isn't for sale.

Yes Leeds have rejected three bids, but it seems that the highest figure offered thus far is £1.5m. Now, given his form so far this season, and the fact that he has been recalled to the Scotland squad, that obviously isn't enough. GFH are committed to getting "value" for their assets, they don't want to give them away.

And frustratingly for the Arab Bank Built on Sand, only Boro have bid so far. What's needed is for another club to up the ante. The trouble is, QPR apart, all the clubs in the Championship have one eye on Financial Fair Play, and none of the teams in the Prem - not even Norwich City - seem to rate McCormack's prospects of doing the business in the top division. So Leeds are playing brinkmanship, trying to hold out for £2m in a buyer's market and Boro are biding their time, seemingly confident that the Leeds Board will cave in sooner or later.

How else can you explain Mowbray's latest comments: “The conversations continue... It will only intensify as next week starts to run away and September 2 looms...they will know that offer will be off the table when time runs out and they either need the money or they don’t...if one deal comes in that we like we will just forget and never go back...That’s not a veiled threat, it’s reality and I’m sure they know that."

Now, whether or not GFH respond to this threat remains to be seen. In fact, the result today could be a factor. If Leeds win, and a promotion push looks a genuine possibility, then it would be financial madness to part with McCormack; but should Leeds lose, and GFH calculate that in all probability, the club faces another season in the Championship, then £1.75m may be too tempting.

Leeds fans should not be counting their camels yet!

Chelsea's Mourinho Mocks Spurs as Will I Am Bales out of Tottenham Move

Shame. Just when Spurs thought they were about to land a goal provider to replace the departing Bale, in step Chelsea and Jose to cock up the plan.

Actually, from England's point of view, this is probably good news. From what I saw of young Townsend, he looks decidedly tasty, and it would be good to see him given an extended run in the team. He is pacey, skilful and, based on his crossing, intelligent.

So the laugh may be on Chelsea, because Spurs may have saved themselves a fortune! Let's hope so, because putting aside petty club rivalries, it would be great to see Townsend develop into the real deal.

Friday, 23 August 2013

West Brom's Clarke admits that Anelka is not in a good place!

Now I know that West Bromwich is a super sized toilet and that the Baggies are not even the Barcelona of the midlands, but it comes to something when the manager admits that a new signing is not "in a good place"!

Talking about the Incredible Sulk's threat to retire following the death of his agent and friend (and just imagine how crippled the world's economy would be if everybody refused to work when a friend died), Clarke told reporters:

"Nicolas went to Richard on Thursday and indicated that he wasn't in a good place. I went in and had a very brief chat with him, and he wasn't in a good place. So the club have decided just to give him a bit of time to go away and think about it and get himself in a better place for the future."

A better place for the future? Presumably that won't be China, but it surely has to be a long way away from the Hawthorns!

Meanwhile, news is arriving from Syria that the uprising is over because insurgents are too upset to fight on because of the death of friends. And with 2000 deaths anticipated in the UK today, we can expect a lot of people not to show up for work for a few days, even though this will mean that they cannot pay their mortgages and feed their children.

Some might say that Anelka's agent would want his friend to carry on as normal - but Anelka is, he is drawing his salary and not playing!

Leeds United's McDermott must wash the Ipswich bogey right out of his hair!

What's all this talk of a bogey team? Just because Leeds have had a player sent off on each of their last three visits to Ipswich and haven't won at Portman Road since 2001, the doom and gloom merchants are talking down the prospects of getting a result that would confirm Leeds as promotion or play off contenders for the coming season. What nonsense.

Past performance has no relevance for the here and now. Leeds are unbeaten after three and Ipswich have only won one out of three. That's the key stat. Presumably the Tractor boys don't bribe the referee with a dozen eggs and a side of bacon before kick off, so there's no reason why a red card should be shown again; indeed, statistically, it must be close to an impossibility for a repeat red.

It is true that Ipswich have won their only home game so far this season and that Leeds drew both their one away game and the last home match, but look at the opposition. The result at Leicester was very decent and the home draw against Wednesday was highly predictable. Yes Leeds are struggling to score, but the Reverend McDermott has built a much more compact, much more resilient unit that are not derailing under pressure as they did under Old Big Gob, as a record of two goals conceded in three games illustrates.

McCormack has his tail up, meanwhile, and Hell Hadji is on his way back, though given the red card history at Ipswich, it would be a brave man who brings him back for this one! Reg Varney is also due a goal around about the 85th minute based on his career record stats. Some are talking up Mick McCarthy but that really is taking the Mick, the guy is a dinosaur like Warnock, and the Reverend should be able to out think him comfortably.

Yes it is a long round trip, which some seem to be blaming, but last season Leeds chugged across travelling Warnock Third Class; now everybody has climbed aboard the Feel Good Factor Express so even the journey should be fun.

My money is on a 1-0 win for Leeds.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Will Middlesbrough have the last laugh on Leeds United?

Well three bids for McCormack have apparently been rejected so Mowbray and Gibson are now trying a different tactic, seemingly shifting their focus to a new target, one Lucy Becchio no less.

Now whilst Leeds fans will be rightly delighted if the Board stand firm and tell Boro where to stick their money, it could be the Smoggies who laugh last and longest if Lucy makes the move from Norwich and rediscovers his scoring boots.

In amongst all the mutual back slapping on the Leeds United Feel Good Factor Express, it may pay to glance out of the window and see exactly where the train is heading. Yes it is great that the McCormack bids have been rejected, and yes it will be even better if the Scot is still a Leeds player in September, but it comes to something when a club like Middlesbrough feel they have the financial muscle to intimidate Leeds into parting with a key player in the first place. And it must be even more galling that the Smoggies can afford to buy a player that Leeds couldn't afford to retain.

How many titles have Middlesbrough won exactly? How many times have the Smoggies played in the Champions League? They are a much smaller club than the mighty Leeds United; so how the hell can they afford to buy Becchio?

Leeds fans will fall over themselves to say that Middlesbrough are welcome to Lucy, but if Becchio bags 18 plus goals and Leeds miss out on a play off place for want of goals, it will be the Boro fans laughing longest.

McDermott thanks Leeds owners but still needs a striker

So far so good! Three games unbeaten in the league and progress in the Capital One Fan Cup - and better still, Leeds have signed another player and haven't, as yet, let anybody go. So Nice Guy Brian has done the polite thing and thanked the owners.

Crucially, the third Middlesbrough bid for McCormack has been rejected. If this offer was close to £2m, as some reports have indicated, this really does suggest that GFH Capital are trying to be true to their word, as the new Chairman claims.

If the window closes and nobody has left, well nobody important, then the Feel Good Factor Express will be back on track and chugging along gleefully. I may then have to rename Reverend McDermott the Fat Controller and start evolving Thomas the Tank Engine themes!

Contrary to some peoples' opinions, I neither support Leeds nor wish ill upon the club. I will confess to being surprised that the last bid for McCormack was rejected and I have a small humble pie in the oven ready for eating on September 1st if the Scot is still at Elland Road.

Perspective must be kept of course. The stats suggest that Leeds are still lacking firepower up front so, ideally, a striker needs to be sourced, even if he is only on loan. Norwich are looking to bring in yet another striker so Becchio back on loan still looks the best bet to me. He may not be ideal, but he has scored goals at a goodish rate in the Championship and that is exactly what McDermott needs.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Leeds United's Owners Prove Sceptics Wrong

Well there's a turn up for the books. Leeds were rumoured to be trying to sign Scott Wootton on loan but instead have landed the Champions League defender on a three year deal. And there we were thinking GFH Capital were in the game of asset stripping.

If we ignore the fact that Wootton featured in a 5-4 defeat against Chelsea, conceding a penalty into the bargain, this looks like an exciting signing - for the future. And thinking about it, conceding five against Chelsea in the Cup is something Leeds know all about!

However, given Leeds are playing in the here and now, this seems a slightly odd signing. Leeds already have the highly promising Lees and Sam Byram in the back four, so do they really need a promising kid low on first team experience?

Manchester United clearly don't fancy the boy, otherwise a loan deal would have suited them better; and the Mancs don't make many mistakes when they let players go - albeit West Ham are hoping they have captured an unpolished gem in the form of Ravel Morrison.

And talking West Ham, what do the Hammers and promoted Hull City have in common? Answer, one Abdoulaye Faye, who was at the heart of the defence when both clubs were promoted from the Championship. Faye is now 35 years old so was 33 when promoted with West Ham and 34 last season with Hull. Now Leeds are chock full of old codgers as we know, but there are two positions perfectly suited to a gnarled old pro - goal keeper and centre half.

It's true that Warnock is no spring chicken, but he will have his work cut out marshalling a defence with three promising kids in it. Old Big Gob slammed Lees after a "schoolboy" error last season, and was only marginally more forgiving when Byram made a big boob. The Reverend McDermott may be a little more forgiving, but it is hard to imagine a defence full of choir boys succeeding in the rough and tumble Championship.

But hang on, what am I saying? Who says Wootton has been signed to play alongside Lees and Byram? Maybe one is about to leave!

Monday, 19 August 2013

Is Ross McCormack's exit from Leeds imminent?

O dear, o dear, o dear. Sky are reporting that Middlesbrough have put in a third bid for McCormack and that negotiations are on going. The Feel Good Factor Express looks as if it is about to derail just three games into the season!

If McCormack does go, what will that say about GFH Capital exactly? Leeds have only scored three times in three Championship games, and McCormack has bagged two of them, so to sell him appears as close to footballing suicide as you can get.

The Reverend McDermott is desperate to keep him and McCormack himself wants to stay, so now there can be no excuses made for the Board if they decide to cash in. But they will only be honouring the pledge of the parent company, of course,  who are openly seeking "to extract value from existing assets". Though never mind extracting value, they would be extracting the urine too if this deal goes through!

These are dark times for Leeds fans. This window should be about recruiting for a promotion push, not selling the club's blue chips. And where will Nice Guy Brian stand if the Board undermine him and sell McCormack against his wishes? If he has any balls, he will threaten to resign and carry out that threat if GFH Capital show that they value money over honesty, decency and ambition.

But McCormack is off and soon, as he hints when he says, "If the club were to give me a longer contract, then I am more than happy to sign it. Whether that comes or not could be a different story."

You see, he knows the GFH Capital ownership of Leeds isn't a fairy story where everybody lives happy ever after!

Ex West Ham left back Twocapchelski leaving Leicester for QPR?

Quite how Konch managed to collect two caps and play for a club like Liverpool will puzzle historians of the game in years to come, but it appears that he will soon be swelling the West Ham connection at Loftus Road.

We have fond memories of Konch. He did a goodish job at Upton Park and, of course, scored in the greatest FA Cup Final ever, albeit he was trying to cross the ball. He only left because Alan "Turds" Curbishley hated his guts after a falling out at Charlton.

At 33, he is no spring chicken, and it is hard to see him doing any sort of job should QPR win promotion, so this looks like classic 'Arry short termism. One wonders how QPR will offload him in 12 month's time and how much in wages Fernandes will be paying to the ageing left back - he is presumably on a good whack at the moment given Leicester chucked money around like confetti under Sven, and he was signed from free spending Liverpool.

'Arry fancies him because he is a trier, and after last season, all 'Arry values is commitment. The big disappointment for West Ham fans is that he didn't fancy McCartney instead!

Leeds loanee and former West Ham player helping to sink Millwall fast

When Becchio was sold and Morison arrived as part of the deal, Leeds fans fell over themselves to claim the Yorkshire club had got the better of the deal. Morison was pacey, intelligent and would add a new dimension to the Leeds team apparently. Well he did, for about 20 minutes of one game.

The Reverend McDermott quickly realised that Leeds didn't have a prayer of promotion with the former Millwall and Norwich man up front, so told him to find himself another club, and signed rhyming slang gem Noel Hunt instead.

And where was poor Morison to go? All the Welsh clubs were in the Prem so he turned, instead, to his former employers, hoping to discover past glories. But he couldn't have timed his return more poorly, arriving as Steve Lomas, a former Hammer favourite, took charge of the toothless Lions. Bad, bad, bad mistake.

Tell me, why would Millwall appoint a Hammer to manage the club and why would a Hammer agree to take the job? Okay Bonds did it too, but that didn't work out well for either party did it?

Every manager walks a tightrope, and when results don't go for a club, the fans are likely to call for his head. But the extent of the bile is guaranteed to be magnified a thousand fold when the appointment is unpopular from the off. George Graham was never going to be accepted at Spurs. Geordie Bruce was always on borrowed time at Blunderland. And Blunted Blades Boss Warnock was always going to fall foul of the boo boys once Satan incarnate Master Bates stepped back into the shadows.

You have to feel sorry for Lomas. Despite their cup exploits, Millwall struggled once Wood was allowed to leave and only narrowly avoided the drop last season. It is quite an achievement to score less goals than Leeds but the toothless Lions have managed it, with a grand return of no goals from the first three games of the season. That just shows what good judges those Leeds fans were who hailed Morison a fantastic signing doesn't it? But those very same fans argue that GFH are good for the club!

Mind you Leeds fans aren't paid to make these decisions, so you have to wonder at the judgement of Lomas. Unless, of course, he is a Secret Agent working for West Ham. Mr Double 0 Zero!

Dissent growing in the legions of Leeds United fans

It didn't take long did it? One bad result at home to Sheffield Wednesday, and suddenly there's a ruck on the Feel Good Factor Express and a group of moaning old codgers are demanding to get off at the next station - unless the Board stop taking the piss and start "speculating to accumulate".

Now, of course, when this is said in a Cockney voice everybody gets hot under the collar and, with fingers in their ears, scream, "Not listening. West Ham are shit anyway. Things are fine at Leeds, just leave us alone and let us listen to the happy mood music." Including a certain Rob Atkinson, an old adversary of the blog.

But strangely, the same Mr Atkinson is now saying what I have been saying for some time - namely that the new owners are still "taking the fans for mugs" and, for good measure, recognises that without positive steps and investment in the squad, Leeds could end up "perpetually moribund, like a bigger version of Preston or Huddersfield."

Now to be fair, the comments left on Mr Atkinson's article are mixed, but it seems that he is not alone in expressing grave concerns about what is still going on at Leeds. And if these voices of dissent can be heard now, when Leeds remain unbeaten, one can only imagine the level of protest come Christmas if Leeds are still in the mid table doldrums.

The Reverend McDermott is still singing from the carefully scripted hymn sheet but some in the choir are already beginning to lose faith in the message and are already breaking step despite the Marching on Together mantra. Three goals from three league games tells a story, and although many refuse to listen, some are waking up to the fact that although he is a nice guy, Brian is not a messiah and can't work miracles or turn ditch water into champagne.

It promises to be an interesting few months if Leeds don't significantly strengthen before the window closes.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Bale Man of Match as Spurs struggle to overcome Crystal Palace

What a performance from Bale. Everywhere you looked, you could see his absence. Lennon ran up blind alleys all afternoon, Chadli looked like Gareth's double, without the pace, skill, composure, finishing and chimpish features, and Soldado took his penalty well but didn't look like he was worth a quarter of a Bale.

Yes Spurs won, but only courtesy of a lucky penalty. Palace couldn't complain about the award, but it was clearly ball to hand with no intent to commit the offence. Yes the arm was raised, but try lifting your leg above hip height without your arm going up with it. Impossible.

Most worrying of all for Spurs was the way Kevin Phillips, complete with bus pass, terrorised their back line after he came on. The Cockyfools won and enjoyed the bulk of the possession but Lloris had more meaningful saves to make over the course of the 90 minutes.

Is Bale worth £85m? Based on today's struggle to overcome a team that cost twenty five quid to put together, you bet he is!

Is Wenger's time up at Arsenal?

To call for a manager's head after just one game is, of course, absurd. But it is not the result that is the issue here, nor even the manner of the defeat, but the prelude to the game and the shameful aftermath.

Wenger arrived in the British game with the tag of the Professor, but is now the biggest moaning Minnie in the game, somebody who never accepts personal responsibility and who looks always to blame the referee following defeat. For a while it was a joke how he never saw an Arsenal offence, but now it is tiresome to hear his absurd assessment of a game every time Arsenal lose. Yesterday's defeat had nothing to do with his failure to bolster the squad, of course, nor with rash decisions by his keeper and his defenders, it was all down to the "spirit" of the referee.

Well as the MOTD panel pointed out, that referee got almost every important decision right. Yes Vlaar could have seen red as well as Koscielny, but that wasn't what Wenger was whining about. Awarding two penalties to the opposition was two too many, even though both decisions were, to excuse the pun, spot on. But the accuracy or otherwise of a decision doesn't count for Wenger, because awarding penalties against his team is, of itself, not in the "spirit" of the game it appears.

It is now beyond a joke. Wenger is a walking, talking self parody and his magic wand has disappeared so far up his own arse that he can no longer wave it. One week into the season, and Arsenal are already three points behind defending Champions Manchester United, despite having the easier opening fixture on paper, and there is already an injury crisis and widespread disaffection amongst the fans. If Suarez didn't want to stay at Liverpool before, he will want to stay now if Arsenal is his only alternative!

How much longer can this continue? Ferguson has gone and maybe it is time for Wenger to follow.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

10,000 Leeds United Fans Abandon McDermott and GFH Capital

Well it didn't take long for the Leeds United Feel Good Factor Express to derail did it? Week one and 33,000 poured through the turnstiles to cheer Leeds on to an epic 2-1 victory over Brighton No Hope Albion; week two and just 23,766 traded the KFC Family Bucket and 20 cans of Carling from Tesco for the opportunity to watch the once mighty Whites squeak a draw against local rivals Sheffield Wednesday.

So, three games in, two of which were at home and only one of which was against a team likely to challenge for a place in the top 8, and Leeds have settled into familiar territory, 9th place in the Championship, with two teams below them - Wigan and Doncaster - having a game in hand; and should either win, Leeds will slip to tenth.

Of course, the good news is that Leeds remain unbeaten after 3 league games and one Cup game; the bad news is that 3 league games in and only 3 goals have been scored, with McCormack - who may yet leave - bagging two of them! McDermott is busy looking for a centre half when clearly a goal scoring striker is urgently needed.

Mind you, Leeds fans who listened to me will be a little bit richer tonight. I predicted 1-1 before the game and I had a tenner on at 13/2. I hope others followed my lead - because then they might be able to afford that family bucket and attend a game!

The big Leeds United mystery

So who does own Leeds United? There are more claims and counter claims here than in the Suarez affair!

According to the parent company, GFH have sold 52% of the club's shares, but with this news leaked, the Board were quick to deny it and insist that a majority share holding had been retained. So where does the truth lie?

In a sense it does not matter. What matters is that the myth of openness has been exploded wide open. If the fans aren't even allowed to know who owns the club, what confidence can there be that the club is being honest and open with the fans, as the Reverend McDermott promised? And if the fans can't believe what they are being told, how can there be any confidence that key players such as McCormack and Byram won't be sold before the window closes?

But never mind any of that. The little matter of a Yorkshire derby kicks off at Elland Road this afternoon, and with extreme bad blood hanging over from last season, there's likely to be a greater sense of harmony in Cairo this afternoon than on the terraces for this battle.

Leeds have started adequately, but the clever money will be on a 1-1 draw today.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Have Gulf Finance House taken Leeds fans for a ride?

La plume de la ma tante! Did the Board of GFH Capital arrive at Elland Road in a yellow three wheeled van with the number plates DHV 938 D? Only a little more than six months after the takeover, and the "new owners" have already turned half the club's shares and made a three quarter of a million pound profit. There's commitment for you!

Leeds fans still haven't accepted what is happening to the club. Master Bates may have been a tight arse, but at least he played the "long game", restructuring the club and putting it on a sound financial footing before selling it on.

But Gulf Finance House, for all the Feel Good Factor claptrap, are only in it for the money and Leeds fans have no idea who they are selling shares to and how committed to the future of the club the new owners may be. Had they sold 49% of the shares the old line of bringing in capital investment may have washed, but with more than 50% of the shares sold, GFH are arguably looking for a way out.

So who will end up owning Leeds in the long run? With shares being sold piecemeal, the fans will have no idea and it may be that the club will simply find itself as a trading chip, with the threat of an asset stripper cashing in at some point should somebody like Byram offer an opportunity for turning a quick buck.

But Leeds fans won't be concerned. They have climbed aboard the Feel Good Factor Express and are looking forward to away day savers at Blackpool, Bournemouth and Yeovil. On with the Kiss Me Quick hats guys and enjoy the ride.

Because this time next year, GFH could be millyonaires!

Leeds United feeling the pinch of lack of ambition as rivals invest big

Leeds fans were moaning under Master Bates and Warnock but, strangely, seem to have swallowed the spin from GFH Capital and Nice Guy Brian, accepting a lack of ambition and financial commitment in return for climbing aboard the Feel Good Factor train, albeit the destination is probably nowhere.

With Forest recruiting no less than nine new players over the summer and now sniffing around Vaz Te, and QPR launching another spending splurge, with Austin already signed and with Parker and Defoe in the sights, Leeds have done next to no business over the summer. Yes Murphy, Hunt and Smith have arrived, but with an outlay of little more than a million, the once great Leeds have barely been at the transfer races and it seems as if McDermott will have to sell before he can buy again.

Never has the gap between the Prem and the Championship been greater. Little old Hull have captured Huddlestone, an England international, and have recruited a host of new players and Cardiff have broken their transfer record three times over the summer. Meanwhile Norwich have brought in seven players, spending the sort of money that would double the operating profits of Gulf Finance House.

It's all very well for Leeds fans to talk about gradual progress but there's not much point in making small steps when a Grand Canyon size chasm is opening beneath your feet. At some point you have to make a commitment and leap into the void, or accept that you will fall further and further behind clubs like Norwich, Hull and QPR.

That old saying, "You have to speculate to accumulate" has never been more true. McDermott has the basis of a decent team capable of pushing for the Prem but still needs two or three quality players to make it over the line. £10m would go a long way to transforming the club into live promotion candidates and that £10m would unlock the door to untold wealth. If GFH are genuine about "extracting value from existing assets" then surely they should make that financial commitment?

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Suarez extracting the urine out of Liverpool fans as Arsenal await

Calm down, calm down, when he said he was now staying at Liverpool, Suarez, it seems, meant that he was staying at Liverpool for now, until the details of his transfer are sorted out. Of course, his initial statement, which he has now denied, was designed to get Liverpool fans excited so that the effect of his volte face on the apparent volte face would be all the more powerful.

What Suarez wants now is hate, and lots of it. He wants the Liverpool fans to turn on him, he wants the calls for him to be jettisoned to increase, he wants the Board to be harangued by the fans into letting him go. And he is probably loving every minute of this, taking the piss out of the very fans who backed him to the hilt and beyond.

And sadly, you can see why he is so anxious to go. Liverpool claim that they do not want to sell to a rival, but that hardly explains why they won't sell to Arsenal. The days when Liverpool were in competition with the Gunners are now long gone.  Let's face it, even with Suarez, Liverpool only finished 7th last season, 12 points shy of Arsenal in 4th place, despite Wenger's men having a poor season. In truth, if Liverpool don't want to sell to a rival, they shouldn't have agreed to sell Carroll and Downing to West Ham, because both teams will be battling for a place in mid table obscurity next season. 

Liverpool really should look at the Suarez deal another way. By selling him to Arsenal, they may increase the chances of their bĂȘte noirs Manchester United not winning the title. And let's face it, that's just about the best Liverpool fans can hope for next season!

Is Redknapp simply digging the QPR grave deeper?

Apart from Tottenham, where Levy kept him on a very short leash, Redknapp has a history of leaving clubs in a bigger mess than when he joined them, with the sort of financial headaches that saw Woolworths disappear from the High Street. Bournemouth, Southampton, Portsmouth, West Ham - they all went bust or were close to going bust after Redknapp's wheeler dealing antics.

And he's up to his old tricks again. How much did he spend guiding QPR to relegation last season? And how much is he now spending in his bid to get them back up again?

Of course, Sparkless Hughes has to take his share of the blame for QPR going down, but Redknapp had more than enough time to save them, and was given huge financial backing from Fernandes. But the Hula Hoops went down with a whimper regardless, maintaining relegation form throughout 'Arry's time at the club.

And Fernandes still seems blind to what is going on. The latest move for Parker is so, so typical of 'Arry and of QPR's folly under the misguided Malaysian owner. The guy was never brilliant and is clearly on a downward slide. Injuries have blighted his career, and there are many who believe that the last one took its toll permanently. And anyway, Parker, even at his best, would not transform a team like QPR in the Championship.

Yes the guy runs around a lot and yes he gives you 100% in terms of effort, but he doesn't hurt the opposition and rarely, if ever, changes the course of a game. To gauge his effectiveness, just look where West Ham finished in what most would concur was Parker's best ever season - rock bottom! Great!

God knows how much QPR will be paying him in wages and you have to wonder what will happen if promotion is not achieved and Financial Fair Play cuts in. And if QPR do win promotion, what use will Parker be in the Prem? If he was good enough still, QPR wouldn't stand a chance of signing him whilst in the Championship. So why has he been offered a three and a half year contract?

The answer to that is simple. Parker's agent negotiated a crazy 5 year deal with West Ham, which secured him a 4 year contract at Spurs, which now has shrunk down to three years, with a half year bonus to compensate for giving up on his World Cup dream. Can anybody see Parker playing in his all effort style when he is 36? No chance!

So, in 12 months time QPR will be paying a fortune to a shot Parker and will have a host of disaffected players returning to the club after their loan deals have expired. If still in the Championship, QPR will be severely penalised under the FFP rules; and if in the Prem will have a squad that has already been shown to be inadequate. It doesn't bode well, does it?

But 'Arry won't care - he will walk away considerably wealthier than when he joined.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

West Ham fans laughing as Tottenham's Parker closes in on QPR move!

Player of the Year when West Ham finished bottom of the Prem, whilst Nolan, whose goals fired Newcastle to safety in their first season back up, was overlooked, Parker wasn't interested in hanging around and playing in the Championship when we were relegated and refused to sign for any club other than Tottenham. We were over the proverbial barrel and forced to accept a cut price offer from Levy; but Scotty didn't care - he only signed that contract extension when wheeler dealer Redknapp spied a better deal for Van der Vaart at the last moment and Parker was left high and dry at West Ham with no other suitors.

How ironic, therefore, that just two seasons later, Parker is about to slip down into the second tier of English football as Spurs cut their losses on the circle spinning, all effort, no impact, Scotty The Most Overrated Player of the C21st Parker!

How many goals has Parker scored in his two seasons at Spurs? One I think. How many assists? It may be as many as three! What a joke.

Of course, those who seek to defend Parker will babble on about him being a holding midfielder and claim that his contribution in the offensive third is therefore irrelevant, but that is nonsense. Parker thinks he is a box to box player and his positional discipline is therefore poor. And for a 'holding midfielder', his tackling is shocking. How many times does he find himself on the wrong side of an opponent, diving into a tackle and conceding a free kick? Answer, far too often. How many times does he concede free kicks because of poor tackling technique? Answer, far too often. Anybody remember the penalty he conceded at Upton Park last season? Classic Scotty!

In truth, the guy is a master con man. He runs around a lot. He plays with passion and desire. He kisses the badge and the arses of the manager and the fans. But he is decidedly ordinary as a player.

That's why only Redknapp wants him. If he is as good as his admirers claim, why isn't there a queue of Premiership clubs looking to sign him? So why does Redknapp want him? Well Scotty is a family friend and will run through walls for 'Arry, not that running through walls helps win football games, but it looks impressive!

There are still many who regard Parker as a West Ham legend, but he was booed at the Boleyn last season, as an increasing number woke up to the fact that Parker had used us shamelessly to engineer his dream move to Spurs. Well, like Rob Green, he is about to get his just deserts. With Downing and Carroll joining West Ham to enhance their chances of playing in the World Cup in Brazil, Scotty and Rob can look forward to games at Yeovil, Bournemouth and Doncaster. Brilliant!

Monday, 12 August 2013

England Win Ashes Despite Brave Australian Fight

Well that's it then, the Ashes haven't just been retained, but won, and we go into the final test at the Oval with a 3-0 lead. Broad was immense today, and Bell was superb yesterday. Bresnan and Swann also played their part with important runs in the morning and vital wickets in the afternoon.

299 looked an impossible target when Warner and Rogers went out to bat, but all credit to them, at 109 without loss, the stress levels were building. Rogers has been superb in this test and, although an Aussie, it was good to see a solid journeyman making the best of his opportunity at the grand old age of 35.

Warner is a different kettle of fish, but annoyingly I have found myself warming to him. He handled the abuse superbly at Old Trafford, interviewed well and batted with bravado in the second innings of both the tests he has played in. It took a superb ball from Bresnan to remove him today, and that was the turning point in the game, albeit Broad's brilliant delivery to bowl Clarke was every bit as important.

From that point forward, Broad was unplayable, although you have to feel sympathy for the Aussies because of the muddled way DRS is being employed. Bresnan benefitted from the "Umpire's call" when on 12, even though the ball was shown to be hitting the top of the stumps; yet both Watson and Haddin were dismissed with the marginal call going the other way because the Umpire's finger had already been raised. Cruel indeed, especially after England had wasted their two referrals.

There's no disputing that we are the stronger team, but Australia have pushed us close in all but one of the tests, and have been unlucky with both the toss and with DRS decisions. Yes we are winning 3-0, but it could so easily be 2-2 now - and huge credit for that has to go to Lehman and Clarke.

Like Warner, Clarke has made it impossible to loath him. We all laughed when he said, after Lords, that Australia could still win the Ashes, but if rain had not spared England in Manchester, who knows what might have happened? Australia were leading this game for two days and were still standing toe to toe until tea time today. And throughout, Clarke has been a model of dignity whilst proving a very astute captain. His bowling changes have been clever and his field placings often superb.

Credit also has to go to Ryan Harris who, for me, has been the stand out bowler so far. His spell this morning was every bit as good as Broad's this afternoon, and the ball that did for the brilliant Bell was superb, as was his throat ball that accounted for Broad.

So the last game at the Oval is now a dead rubber and the hope is that England give an opportunity to some fringe players ahead of the winter rematch. Bairstow has not done enough to merit his place and it would be good to see Taylor given a chance. Anderson, meanwhile, has been rank in the last two tests and could do with a rest. Tremlett knows the Oval pitch well and will be suited to the hard wickets in Australia, so is an obvious call. A case could also be made for Jos Buttler to come in for Prior, not because Prior should be jettisoned, but because he probably needs a break and it would be interesting to see what his young understudy can do.

Meanwhile, Clarke has admitted that Australia are being "outplayed" and that must be a huge worry for the Aussies given three key England players, Cook, Trott and Prior have been well below par in this series. If they get it right in Australia, we should win the series comfortably.

Middlesbrough still sniffing around Leeds United's Ross McCormack

It's not quite the Arsenal-Suarez saga, but Middlesbrough seem to think that they are still in with a chance of capturing Ross McCormack. Knocked back with a one million pound offer last week, it's been reported that an improved bid of £1.3m has been tendered - and rejected.

Good news for Leeds fans in a sense, because the Reverend McDermott is remaining true to his word. But it may be a little worrying that Boro seem to have heard "No" as "No unless you pay more."

So what is the figure that will trigger a sale? Gibson is a businessman and will understand exactly what those words "extract value from our existing assets" mean. GFH need to reduce running costs and want to generate cash. They only paid £20m for Leeds so if they could generate £1.75m from the sale of a player, they would recoup 8.75% of their initial investment, and that, I suspect is the figure they would settle on.

Now it may be that Middlesbrough will not go that high, but that still doesn't mean McCormack will stay at Leeds. He is one of the higher wage earners at the club so, as with Becchio, savings on salary may compensate for a lower offer of, say, £1.5m.

And it may be that Boro will prove to be a stalking horse. As QPR shift out their higher wage earners, Redknapp will look to stock up on players with a track record in the Championship - and if he fancies the Scot, Fernandes will stump up £2m without any argument. And that really will test the club's resolve.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Is Liverpool's Brendan Rodgers a double agent working for Everton?

What the hell is Brendan Rodgers up to now? It's almost as if the guy is hell bent on destroying Liverpool.

If we are honest, he was given an easy ride last season. After the fans had forced out Woy and even turned on King Kenny, it was perhaps inevitable that the latest managerial appointment would be shown a little more respect. Benny Benitez aint coming back and what manager in his right mind would want the job if Rodgers were to make an early exit? The Liverpool bed has been made and now everybody has to lay in it.

But without Suarez, where would Liverpool have been last season? And that total dependence on one player has made Rodgers and the entire club hostages to fortune. The support shown to the Uruguayan after the biting incident was humiliating for a once proud club and it is surely bruised egos which have dictated the latest Rodgers folly - the insistence that Suarez apologises before he is allowed back into the fold.

Apologise? Why would Suarez do that? He wants to go and seems to believe that Rodgers promised him that he could go, so what has he got to apologise for exactly? Liverpool FC felt that no apology was necessary after the racist insult of Evra, so to demand an apology now because Suarez has expressed a wish to move to an alternative employer seems a bit rich.

So what is Rodgers hoping to achieve by insisting on an apology exactly? He wants to keep Suarez, yet he seems hell bent on opening a chasm between himself and the cannibal prima donna. You don't bite the hand that feeds - even Suarez knows that! - but Rodgers seems to believe that he has to humiliate Suarez to assert his own personal authority; and can anybody see the Uruguayan backing down and then giving his best in a Liverpool shirt?

Rodgers may force Suarez to stay and may even force a grudging apology, but we will never again see Suarez giving 100% in a Liverpool shirt.

Leeds send out promotion message

Well it wasn't the most scintillating performance, to put it mildly, but a point at Leicester is not to be sneezed at, and if Leeds can win their home games and draw the majority of their away fixtures, they will be there or there abouts come the end of the season. So far so good will be the prevailing sentiment.

Without wishing to put any sort of dampener on things, however, the lack of creativity and firepower, so evident today, is likely to prove a limiter as the season unfolds. The club were right to let Morison go, but McDermott's search for another centre back seems a classic case of confused priorities. The return of Hell Hadji may help but he is not an out and out goal scorer and that's what the team is crying out for.

Hunt was signed in the summer but a record of just 80 league goals from 324 games isn't really what the doctor ordered. One goal in four starts is poor when the team is playing two up top, one goal in four starts from the lone striker is pathetic. But what are the alternatives?

McCormack's 68 goals have come at a very similar rate - one every 3.75 games - and Reg Varney has a ratio of one per 3.72 games, even when you include those netted for meat substitute team Quorn. Hell Hadji has only scored 59 career league goals over a long career and Smith only managed 9 in 62 appearances for Oldham, in a division down from the Championship.

So how does McDermott expect to score the necessary number of goals to secure a top two finish? Watford struck six yesterday and it is difficult to imagine Leeds getting half that number in any single game with the personnel presently at the club. Yes another centre back would be useful, but what Leeds need most is an out an out goal scorer - and I still reckon Becchio on loan would be the best bet.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Brighton form line an increasing concern for Leeds fans

So, just as I warned when Leeds edged the game last Saturday, the result wasn't as good as their fans seemed to believe. Brighton have now played three games, and lost all three. And Leeds are the only team that needed a late, late goal to secure victory.

What's even more worrying is that, after the game, Leeds supporters were arguing that the Seagulls looked like a decent team. Well it now seems that Leeds may have made them look like a decent team, because they haven't looked any great shakes in either of their subsequent fixtures.

The truth of the matter is that Brighton are reeling after the departure of Poyet and are easy pickings at the moment. Leicester are therefore likely to offer a much more searching examination.

Meanwhile, Watford signalled their intent with a 6-1 thrashing of Bournemouth, suggesting that they are likely to there or there abouts come the end of the season, along with QPR, Wigan, Forest, Reading and Leicester.

The Tottenham Hotspur kids are more than alright!

From what I saw tonight, as Tottenham's U21 side comfortably defeated Chelsea's kids, Championship clubs such as Leeds, QPR, Leicester and Watford should consider approaching Spurs regarding loan deals for young Tom Carroll, Harry Kane and Yago Falque.

Falque scored twice and is a wide player with the physique and pace of Aaron Lennon.  He probably lacks the physical strength for 90 minutes of blood and thunder football in the Championship, but coming on with 20 minutes of the game to play would terrify the carthorse defenders in the division as their legs start to tire.

Kane is a big unit and although looking disinterested by the game, still managed to get five or six shots on target, score, assist and force a parried save which led to the fourth goal. He also bent a free kick narrowly over the bar. This guy looks to have a future and, like Chris Wood, would almost certainly impose himself in the Championship.

But for me, the best player on show was Tom Carroll. He is a very intelligent looking footballer who dictates the play from midfield, finding space all over the pitch, reading the game well and seeing a pass before he has even received the ball. They are excited by young Barkley at Everton, but this lad seems every bit as good to me and looks a real prospect.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Hull City Tigers show Leeds, Leicester, Newcastle, Liverpool, Everton and others the way!

Exciting developments at Hull, with the club moving with the times and changing their name to improve branding opportunities. Bored by old fashioned Hull City, Egyptian owner Assem Allam has decided to incorporate the club's nickname into the official title of the club. No doubt the City will be dropped altogether in due course, and Hull will become Hull Tigers or simply, The Tigers.

Wolverhapton Wanderers led the way some time ago, of course, with their name readily abbreviating to The Wolves and Tottenham are known as The Spurs. For some clubs, this new trend will be very simple to adopt. Should the Dildo Brothers adopt West Hammers, it may upset the purists, but The Hammers versus The Tigers has a feisty ring about it for the Sky marketing boys. Arsenal Gunners also works easily of course. Southampton Saints is another good one and the Glasgow clubs already operate as Rangers and Celtic.

However, for some clubs, the nickname doesn't have the right ring about it. Leeds Whites may be deemed racist or cowardly. Leicester Foxes has a mangy sound about it. Liverpool Reds works, I suppose, but isn't very exciting and other clubs might argue they have as much right to the name. Everton Toffees doesn't sound terribly imposing, does it? And Newcastle Toons sounds a bit too Looney Tunes even for a club that has a slapstick feel about it 99% of the time. As a contributor says below, the real nickname is The Magpies, and that could work I suppose but it doesn't really sound aggressive does it?

So what names might clubs adopt into the future? Leeds Cloggers works for me or the club could go the whole hog and opt for either Damned or Bastard United. Liverpool Cheats has a nice ring about it, given the commitment to retaining Suarez and the number of benefit claimants residing in the city.

How about Leicester? Well given the car park excavations, maybe the Leicester Hunchbacks could work. The Newcastle Barcodes also works, given all the players have a price under Ashley, or maybe the Newcastle Frogs would be more suitable given the composition of the squad and the way the team croaks every time they get a sniff of a trophy.

Any other suggestions? 

Leicester City the first real test for born again Leeds

There's lots of early season excitement buzzing around Elland Road, provoked by two consecutive home victories. With relatively new manager Brian McDermott doing every thing he can to promote a feel good factor, Master Bates gone and 33,000 flooding through the gates for the opening day fixture, everything in the garden suddenly smells of roses. For now.

The trouble is, both games were highly winnable and so, arguably, prove nothing. Brighton are, at best, in transition and possibly in disarray. They followed up that defeat at Elland Road by crashing out of the Capital One Fan Cup so a narrow win, with a late, late goal, does not suggest Leeds are about to dominate the division.

The Whites' follow up win in the Cup over Chesterfield can be largely ignored. Leeds fielded close to a reserve team and the match could so easily have gone into extra time. Poleon was, perhaps, the one truly bright light on the night.

Ask Warnock, and from beneath his replanted Bodhi Tree in Cornwall he would say, "The lads gave one hundred per cent and I couldn't have asked for more in terms of effort. Just like they did for me in home games last season". And there's the rub. Apart from Murphy and Hunt, this is still Warnock's team and Warnock would have expected two home wins from those opening two games -and would probably have got them. So Leeds fans may well be cheering a chimera!

We will have a much better idea of how Leeds are likely to fare after the game at Leicester. Like Leeds, the Foxes started with a highly winnable fixture, against hopeless Miserablebrough, so there is no real evidence yet that Pearson has arrested their decline. After the corresponding fixture last season, Leeds fans were filled with hope as Warnock's team came so close to a play off push fuelling victory, but Leicester were close to their nadir at that point, and the play off jaunt must have given the players some sense of self belief.

Warnock's team drew this fixture last season, so that has to be the minimum target for the born again team of Reverend McDermott. Should Leeds win, it truly will be hallelujah time, but if Leicester win, it could be time to drop to the knees and pray or simply accept that the stint in Purgatory is likely to extend for yet another season.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Who would be Leeds United's best bet, McCormack, Becchio or Sharp?

So, two bids have been rejected for Ross McCormack because they do not match the club's valuation of the player. Apparently, to realise the value of the McCormack asset, Leeds want a sum closer to £2m than £1m. Fair enough, he is a goodish Championship player and, as such, is probably worth somewhere in the region of £1.75m.

But that's not to say that an offer close to that figure won't be received before the window closes. Redknapp may fancy him. Bolton might sniff a deal. Blackburn could bid. And don't rule out a move from Wigan if they are forced to sell some of their more talented players.

But Leeds fans shouldn't see this as a negative. McCormack isn't that good is he? As an out and out striker he is distinctly average and as the wide man in a 4-3-3 formation, he isn't much better. Tell me, who would score more goals for Leeds over the coming season if leading the line, McCormack, Becchio or Sharp? Or Noel Hunt for that matter?

One thing's for sure, a move for both Sharp or Becchio is out of the question unless McDermott can sell first, due to GFH's drive on cutting costs across their portfolio and Leeds United's inflated wage bill. Should Leeds win promotion, all three options would be useless in the Prem, so what would be the sensible strategy? Retain McCormack and hope he suddenly becomes a goal machine? Or take the money and bring in either Becchio or Sharp on loan, both of whom have a track record of scoring goals in this division, and neither of whom would then clutter up the squad if promotion is achieved.

The case for offloading McCormack looks fairly compelling to me, but I'm sure others may see things differently!

McDermott insists McCormack is staying at Leeds

Interesting, Despite McCormack's tweet, Nice Guy Brian insists the Scot is going nowhere. Two bids have been rejected and, according to the bald headed management maestro, "Ross is staying here. He wants to stay and we want to keep him."

So that's that then. Isn't it?

Perhaps. But why isn't McCormack allowed to say he wants to stay at Leeds himself? And what will it say, after such a categorical denial from McDermott, if the Scottish international does now leave?

My money is still on McCormack departing as the Board put pressure on McDermott to reduce the wage bill. As the changes for the Chesterfield game proved, Leeds have an unnecessarily large squad, and as the struggle to win the game proved, quite a few of them aren't worthy of the wages that Warnock negotiated for them as he mopped up any old lags on offer.

Now McCormack doesn't fall into that category, but with Warnock out of work, who is going to take his carthorses off Leeds' hands? And if you need to raise cash, you sell assets that somebody is willing to buy.

Keeping in mind GFH's pledge to "extract value from existing assets", perhaps the Board are simply holding out for a higher price.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Ross McCormack fuels speculation of Leeds departure

Interesting tweet on Twatter by Ross McCormack. The wanted Leeds man talks about being humbled by all the tweets from Leeds fans but then adds, "Not aloud (sic) to speak about the speculation sorry."

Now, apart from the dreadful spelling error, this is not what Leeds fans want to read. Why, exactly, isn't he allowed (that's the way to spell it Ross!) to talk about a possible deal unless there is some substance in the rumours? How easy would it have been to post, "I'm not going anywhere guys. End of."

And if Leeds aren't entertaining the bid, why would they ban him from making such a clear cut statement? Nice Guy Brian has said how honesty is everything, and how the fans just want to be kept in the loop. So why is Ross not allowed to tell the fans what is going on; unless a deal is in the offing, of course.

And this must be read alongside the profits drop at GFH and their pledge to "extract value from existing assets" as part of their drive to reduce operating costs. Two and two usually add up to four and it would be a foolish man who now bets against the Scot leaving Leeds before the window closes.

Pressure on McDermott to sell as Leeds United's owners' profits sink lower?

With rumours that Middlesbrough are sniffing around Ross McCormack, the last thing Leeds fans want to hear is that GFH Capital continue to struggle, with profits once again falling.

When word started circulating about the takeover, Leeds fans came on here in their droves, boasting about how oil money would fund an early return to the Prem and then domination of Europe, but as I warned, things were not quite as the misguided numpties chose to believe. This was no oil fuelled mega bank, more a camel pot outfit built on sand.

And apart from the one million capture of Murphy, very little money has been made available to Nice Guy Brian to spend. When Becchio left, Leeds fans took their heads out of their backsides to exclaim, "We've got Morison, we've got the better part of the deal". It always sounded a bit hollow, but with Morison now loaned out to Millwall, the truth of the matter has been fully exposed: Becchio went because Leeds couldn't afford his wages; and Morison has been moved on because he is crap and McDermott has been told to shrink his wage bill.

No surprises there, of course, when you read that GFH are seeking to "extract value from our existing assets" to bolster plunging profits. It is very sobering to see that the whole business made a paltry profit of just $4.2m on the first half year of trading, and that was only achieved by operating costs being reduced by $7.3m. Take away that cost saving, and you can only slash costs so far, and the bank would actually have posted a loss of $3.1m!

So, the bank is struggling, it is on a cost cutting drive and it is, according to its own statement, looking to "extract value" from its assets. Tell me, what are the implications to McDermott and Leeds?

Instead of pondering who Leeds might sign before the window slams shut, the question is, once again, who might they sell? It was Captain Snakeinthegrass last summer, Becchio in January and now? Maybe McCormack. Or maybe, God forbid, young Byram. It has to be a worry when the sale of a young footballer, carrying an injury, could, even if sold at a knock down price, more than DOUBLE the half year profits of the entire company!

Master Bates claimed his sacking was a smokescreen and this latest profit statement lends credence to his assertion. Yes Leeds beat Brighton on Saturday, but Brighton lost at home to Newport yesterday so any cockiness may be a tad out of place. Poor McDermott is doing his best to reshape the squad but he appears to be doing so with both hands tied behind his back, and the fear must be that even if players are sold, the cash will be retained rather than reinvested.

And before Leeds fans go off on one, tell me, what exactly does "extract value from our existing assets" mean? McDermott seems to know given his statement that honesty is everything!

Will Liverpool fans turn on Suarez now?

They backed him when he racially abused Evra - but what's a bit of racism between friends, when Hitler is rumoured to have lived in the city for a while, and Liverpool was built on the slave trade anyway?

They backed him when he admitted cheating to win a game against a team from the third tier of English football. But if the city turned its back on cheats, Iain Duncan-Smith wouldn't need to reform the benefit system and Britain would be one giant stride closer to escaping austerity.

They backed him when he turned cannibal, but how can a bite compare with Lucas Neill's attempt to break Jamie Carragher's leg like?

They even cheered him in Stevie Gerrard's testimonial despite his refusal to commit to the club ahead of the new season. Show him the love, make him feel one of our own, and Suarez will never walk away alone.

After all, this is Anfield! We are Liverpool! Like that matters now Liverpool can't even qualify for the Your Ropey League. And anyway, why should any Liverpool player show loyalty to the club after the way Reina was treated?

But now Suarez has come out and said what everybody knew. He doesn't just want to go, he is more desperate to get out than Ryan Giggs was when his brother walked into his marital bedroom.

How galling must this be? Like a stereotypical Scouser, Suarez has been drawing benefit without working throughout his extended close season, and now with the action about to start for everybody else, he is squealing to get out.

And we all know that he will go because if Liverpool are foolish enough to make him stay, he will be as committed to the cause as Blair was to socialism. He may dress up in a red shirt but he will be blue blue blue and will play like a velvet fist in a velvet glove.

But then Liverpool the club and its myopic fans deserve everything they don't get from Suarez. The club has demeaned itself appallingly ever since King Uncanny ordered his players to wear those infamous shirts in support of Suarez after the Evra incident. The failure to condemn the bite and to kick him out showed that the club no longer has any pride.

It's time to change that sign to "This is Shamefield!"

Surely Middlesbrough must sack Mowbray now!

Middlesbrough, on a clear day.

How much longer can this go on? Up until Christmas, Boro were genuine promotion contenders, tucked nicely into the play off pack waiting for the inevitable Leicester slip up. The Foxes inevitably obliged but, oh dear, Mowbray's misfits nosedived faster than a drone on an Afghan wedding party.

Middlesbrough's form in 2013 hasn't just been bad, it has been catastrophic. I have money on them to go down on the basis that without an immediate change of manager, they are doomed; but Gibson seems as committed to the ugly Mowbray as Richard is to the even uglier Judy.

The money I pocketed from Leicester's win on Saturday was a gift from the bookmakers, who, like Gibson apparently hadn't woken up to the fact that the Smoggy patient wasn't just critical but terminal. And last night's home defeat against Accrington Stanley simply confirmed what anybody with any footballing sense understood at least four months ago. Under Mowbray, Middlesbrough are going nowhere other than down.

But incredibly, Mowbray retains the support of a fair section of the Boro fans, as does Chairman Gibson; presumably because, as The Platters sang, smoke gets in your eyes. Just up the road, Blunderland showed what a change of manager can do when the form of the team collapses, and O'Neill's record was nowhere near as bad as Tony Nobody's.

When even Kieron Dyer calls time after a spell in the Mowbray treatment room, you know the end is nigh!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Leeds United's McCormack to Middlesbrough? Why trade a run down semi for a squat?

So the latest rumour - propagated by Sky no less - is that Miserableboro have tabled an offer for Ross McCormack as Tony Nobody desperately flails around looking for a way of saving his job. But the immediate reaction is, why on earth would the Scottish international swap a promotion push with Leeds for a relegation struggle in what a Tory Lord  recently described as the North East wasteland? This is surely a fracking non starter from the off!

Apart from anything else, McCormack appears key to Nice Guy Brian's plans. He can play up top or he can play out wide. And he is better at both than Reg Varney who would be much more in Miserableboro's league and who is well used to relegation struggles after his stint at Portsmouth.

I have money on Boro to go down. Their form since Christmas was dire - except when they played Leeds! - and they will continue to struggle for as long as Mowbray stays in charge. He has lost the plot. He has lost the dressing room. He has even managed to lose Kieron Dyer, and he is more difficult to shake off than AIDs!

So tell me, if you were McCormack, why would you agree to the move, even if the Arab Bank Built on Sand fancied cashing in? He's escaped Scotland once, so why move closer to the border? And why agree to play for a team as fashionable, outside of Glasgow, as tank tops and loons?

But if he does go, what will that say about the new owners at Leeds or about McCormack's sense of ambition?

It's a non starter for me! Leeds fans will be praying that GFH Capital agree!

Leeds United Board Treat Bates Shoddily

Well I am flabbergasted! I returned from two months travelling, taking in Bulgaria, Dubai and Italy, expecting Nice Guy Brian to have completely revamped last year’s tepid Leeds squad, and what did I discover? The biggest news coming out of Leeds, apart from the narrow win over Brighton and the usual homophobic chanting of the ironically named Marching On Together fans, is that Master Bates, life President and saviour of the club, has been given the big heave ho. Outrageous.

True not every Leeds supporter is a fan of Papa Bates, but surely he deserved better than to be stabbed in the back without so much as a “Hello Ken, can you come into the office for a chat please?” They sacked him in a letter! This is the man who took the club through the pain barrier, into administration and the third tier of English football, and then part way back up again. You wouldn’t have stabbed the Grand Old Duke of York in the back part way through his journey would you?

Who can forget that epic giant killing defeat of Manchester United? Impossible without Bates. Who will forget last season’s giant killing triumph over Gareth Bale inspired Spurs? Impossible without Bates.  Who will forget the glory of winning promotion from the old Division Three? Impossible without Bates.

And what’s the guy’s final crime exactly? Signing a contract for a private jet to fly him from his home in Monaco to Leeds United games! How did GFH Capital expect the poor old sod to make the journey, on his Senior Citizen bus pass perhaps?

Some might say that the new owners of Leeds have demonstrated a complete lack of class, reneging on their promise to the man who trusted them to run the club he saved. The Bates Haters might like to consider the plight of Portsmouth (as many league titles as Leeds) and Coventry (more recent winners of the FA Cup than Leeds) when evaluating what the former owner did for their club. They might also reflect on the fact that it is not so many years ago that the now mighty Manchester City were in the third tier of English football. And Bates has followed the Sky Blue Print by selling to Arabs, albeit Arabs seemingly on their uppers.

But Ken knows exactly what GFH Capital are up to, courting popularity by slaying the big bad dragon whilst they try to hide the mess they have been making of running the club. Thatcher had the Argies, Blair the Iraqis and, if you believe The Dethroned Master Bates, GFH Capital are parading poor Ken’s bearded head around on a wooden stake to win the popular vote. It’s not right. It’s not just. It’s not fair.

Is it?

Don’t be surprised if Bates asks a Judge to decide. And how much might that cost Leeds exactly?

Monday, 5 August 2013

Leeds United Fans Smiling At Long Last!

I’ve just checked and it isn’t December, but all Leeds United fans' Christmases seem to have come at once! Ken Bates has gone. GFH Capital are muttering about buying back Elland Road, and to top it all, Leeds didn’t just kick off the new season with a home win, they scored TWICE and new million pound man Luke Murphy scored the winner!

True, the victory was against a Brighton team which, following the departure of Poyet, appears to be in disarray. True too, Oscar Garcia reckons the winner should have been disallowed for handball. And true too, that Leeds fell a goal behind and left it late to plunder that winner. But let’s not be churlish. Leeds are off and running, Nice Guy Brian is smiling, and everything suddenly looks rosy.

Mind you, talking Rosie, QPR’s victory over Sheffield Wednesday must be a worry. As must be Wigan’s thumping of Barnsley. And Reading’s victory over Ipswich. And Leicester’s win at Miserableborough. And Udinese Calcio's away win. And the away points for Bolton and Blackburn. It is a stronger Championship this year so Leeds will have to improve considerably to figure in a promotion push.

But back to the positives. Leeds won without Byram. Poleon came off the bench. And 33,000 fans flooded into the Bateless Elland Road. Happy Days!
For now at least!