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, 30 November 2013

Leeds fans can afford to smile, even in defeat!

Well, if there was ever a good time to lose, it was today. I posted last week that the game at Blackburn looked tricky, and so it proved; but happily for Leeds, on the same weekend when leaves on the line delayed the Leeds United McFeel Good Factor Express to the Premiership, Europe, Infinity and Beyond, QPR, Burnley, Watford and Forest all contrived to lose as well. So Leeds are down to seventh, but remain very much in touch with the promotion race.

And happily, Friar Brian knows exactly why Leeds lost. Showing a degree of perception that would have left previous boss Old Big Gob Warnock shaking his head in admiration, the Bald Professor declared, "The first goal today proved to be the most important." And honestly, it is difficult to take issue with such a keen assessment, other than to suggest a slight revision so it reads, "The ONLY goal today proved to be the most important."

Of course, it would have been a different story had Pugh taken his golden chance. Flack me, any one of Barney, McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble or Grubb would have buried that one!

Still, with so many of the rivals losing, Leeds needn't worry too much. True Reading, Leicester and Blackpool all recorded victories but it could have been so much worse. Mind you, should Derby draw or win against Wigan, Leeds will settle back into eighth, the very position I predicted they would finish the season in!

Watford's horses hoping Zola resigns before something terrible happens!

Well, it was always going to happen sooner or later, but Watford fans refused to see it.  The longer you leave Gianfredo in charge, the more his authority wanes. When things are going well, he's great to have around - so positive, so upbeat, so smiley; but when Lady Luck closes her legs, pulls out a vibrator and tells him to roll over instead, Zola is clueless and simply relaxes his sphincter and thinks of Italy.

A 3-0 reverse at home to bottom club Yeovil is catastrophic. Dear God, in 16 games prior to this match, the Glovers had only scored 10, so Watford managed to ship in 90 minutes a third of the goals Yeovil had "amassed" in the previous one thousand four hundred and forty!

Still, Gianfredo has at least woken up to the fact that Watford are now in crisis! Suddenly it's not the fault of the referees and bad luck, suddenly it has something to do with the team he is sending out to lose each week! Not that the players themselves are to blame - dear me no - as with the squad he had at West Ham, he accepts that they are all trying and he retains his faith in them; it's just that their confidence is shot to pieces.

Zola then says something very interesting, claiming "To play this type of football you have to be full of confidence." And what type of football is that exactly? Zola football. Football that only the best can play. And that's Zola's problem, he doesn't understand that you have to cut your suit according to the cloth you have available - and if you have Primark offcuts, you don't try to fashion an Armani suit out of it!

The lovable Italian has admitted that he is "not happy" and that he doesn't need the threat of the sack to make him react. Maybe not, but a horse's head in his bed might just drive home the message!

And meanwhile, if I was Gianfredo, I wouldn't go out fishing on Tolpits Lake in a hurry!

Monday, 25 November 2013

McDermott pulls another rabbit out of the Leeds United hat!

Credit where credit is due, Friar Brian keeps pulling rabbits out of the hat, with the latest being Danny Pugh.

The former Manchester United starlet's career seemed to be going nowhere under Old Big Gob and with McDermott ignoring him until all the other options had been exhausted, it looked as if he was booked on the first train out of the club, rather than on the Leeds United McFeelgood Factor Sleeper Express to the Premiership, Europe, Infinity and Beyond. But given an opportunity, he grabbed it with both hands and now has seemingly secured himself a place in the team.

His emergence is, of course, a huge bonus for McDermott and the former Reading maestro must even now be searching through the dusty cupboard at the back of the training ground entitled "Warnock's Rejects".

Who knows with this Pugh raising eyebrows, McDermott may stumble upon his twin brother, along with a host of other forgotten talent going by the name of Barney, McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grubb. You can picture McDermott now, barking the orders to his boys, "Right men, action stations! No, no, not the hose!"

And Flack me, Leeds United may actually be in with a chance of promotion!  Steadily, sensibly; never too quickly, never too slowly, edging their way to the Premiership!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Zola fiddles as Watford Calcio burns and Leeds surge!

Oh dear, poor Gianfredo looked so good last season, but now? Well, sadly, he seems destined to wake up some time over the next 12 months with a horse's head in his bed. Watford aren't now just adrift of the automatic promotion triumvirate, they are drifting away from the play off flotsam.

Three home defeats on the trot is not what the Pozzo Family demanded. According to Gianfredo, the recent slump has nothing to do with his formation. One win in seven games? Don't blame the tactics, blame bad luck, referees and the phases of the moon apparently!

There's not even much point in working on how to defend set pieces because, to quote Gianfredo, "Sometimes you can train and work as hard as you want but some sides are just very good at them". So the answer it seems is to accept you are going to concede whilst striving to "capitalise further when we have an advantage". Not terribly re-assuring is it?

Of course, Watford Calcio fans don't accept that the club has gone backwards since last season. They know that Zola is doing a brilliant job. Much better than that idiot Dyche would have done. You know, that red haired tosser who never played international football for Italy and who never back heeled a wonder goal but who presently has Burnley top of the division!

Meanwhile, as Watford slide down the table, so Leeds charge up it! What a performance against Miserableboro, securing an epic victory even after the Smoggies had their keeper sent off and then had the cheek to equalise McCormack's opening goal.

There's no stopping Leeds now! Although next week's game at Blackburn looks tricky!

Still, things could be worse for Watford fans. You could support West Ham!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Radebe could derail Leeds United's promotion push

Just when everything seems to be going swimmingly, along comes Lucas Radebe to announce his interest in buying into the club, triggering another round of destabilising speculation.

McDermott needs this like he needs a second hole in his arse. Everybody has to be utterly focused on what is happening on the pitch right now, not worrying about who might own the club come the end of the season.

Tell me, what is the point of Radebe going public at this stage? If he genuinely has the best interests of the club at heart, he would conduct negotiations in the deepest, darkest secrecy. It's not as if an injection of cash at this stage would make any difference - the transfer window is shut until January. So, if the Radebe fronted consortium is serious, there's time to thrash out a deal and ride in on a Whites charger just as the cash is required. And let's face it, if the £7m figure reported is anywhere close to accurate, there's no full take over on the cards.

Given the way Radebe and his chums are playing it, you can't help feeling that this is a publicity stunt at best, and at worst a tactic designed to derail the present promotion push - because if Leeds go up, the price will rocket.

So why has the Pearson / Radebe consortium come out now? To try to buy a stake on the cheap, knowing that if Leeds miss out on promotion they have paid the right price, but aware that should a Premiership deal be secured, they will land the deal of the decade.

And in the process, they are endangering the nascent Leeds United surge.

If GFH Capital have been talking to Radebe behind the scenes, they must be pretty bloody angry that he has unilaterally announced his interest to the press. Meanwhile, there's the little matter of a game with Miserableboro at the weekend for Leeds to worry about!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Time for authorities to clarify FFP rules in relation to QPR

So a newspaper claims that QPR face a massive fine under the Financial Fair Play rules and Tony Fernandes has come out and said that the gRRRs should ignore the article, claiming that it is simply evidence of the size of the QPR "brand".

As a football fan, I might have a bit of an issue if a foreign owner put my club on the same level as Durex and Andrex, but that's another matter. It is surely now time for somebody in authority to clarify the situation: what are the rules, exactly, and how are they going to apply to QPR?

One thing is for certain, on gates of 18,000 QPR are in breach of the rules as every other club seems to understand them. Ridiculous money was spent last season and with 'Arry in charge, spending has continued this year too. Now Yossi may be about to join the League of Mercenaries that Fernandes has enlisted, swelling the wage bill still further.

So, do the rules apply to QPR and what action can football fans expect to be taken? At the moment, it looks as if the Hula Hoops are cheating, driving a coach and horses through rules designed to safeguard the game and  so surely all fans deserve to have those rules clarified once and for all.

Let's hear it, what penalties can QPR expect to face? If any.


Monday, 18 November 2013

Should Leeds risk the crocked McCormack against Middlesbrough?

With news breaking that McCormack has pulled out of the Scotland squad with a "slight hamstring injury", the question arises as to whether he should be risked in the game against Miserableboro.

McCormack is convinced he will be 100% ready for the game, but players themselves are not always in the best position to make the call. He is hungry at the moment - not surprisingly after his four goal performance at Charlton - but, for that very reason, he may need to be saved from himself.

How sickening would it be if he started and that slight injury became a pull or a tear? And do Leeds really need him to beat the very modest Smoggies? Sometimes, discretion is the better part of valour and resting McCormack may be the sensible course, with a host of winnable games on the horizon.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

LUST want GFH Capital out of Leeds United

Interesting. It seems that ex Leeds director Adam Pearson may have made another enquiry about buying a controlling interest in Leeds, trying to sugar the deal for Leeds fans by including Lucas Radebe in the consortium - and LUST have fallen for it hook, line and sinker with Gary Cooper choking on his KFC Bargain Bucket when hearing the news.

According to Cooper, "Leeds United winning promotion back into the Premier League with a group involving Lucas, who is loved by all Leeds United supporters, would be an ideal scenario.

"He knows what it takes to be successful at Leeds United, because he was part of those great European nights in the late 1990s and early 2000s."

Of course, there are a number of presumptions made here. Leeds are not even in a play off place at the moment and, according to GFH Capital, no bid has been made anyway.

And meanwhile, the figure quoted for a 51% stake in the club - a miserly £7m - sounds absurdly low. That money could be recouped by selling young Byram if he ever regains full fitness!

LUST, of course, welcomed GFH Capital with open arms - now it seems they can't wait to get rid of the Arabs. Fickle friends indeed! Or maybe Mr Pearson has promised Bargain Buckets all round if he swings the deal!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

The best day for years for Leeds United!

Could it have gone any better? A 4-2 win at Charlton was pretty damn special, but add to that Burnley's inability to beat Bournemouth, QPR's draw at Reading, Blackpool's defeat at home to Ipswich and Watford's failure to beat Middlesbrough, and almost every result was perfect for Leeds. Maybe, just maybe, a share of the spoils in the Forest v Leicester game would have suited Friar Brian's men better, but victory to the Nottingham club means than even Leicester are now catchable! And West Ham lost to Leeds United's second team, Norwich City!

As for McCormack, well the guy is on fire! If he keeps banging them in at the present rate, the only concern is that Norwich will come in for him in January. Still Becchio might then return in his place!

Amazingly, this victory was achieved without Byram and Warnock so, in theory, there is scope for further improvement!

The ghost of Old Big Gob Warnock has been slayed. The team is now McDermott's and is playing to McDermott's tune. And as he showed at Reading, when this guy gets inside his players' heads, he can inspire them to perform far, far better than the sum of the parts.

So, it's all aboard the Leeds United McFeel Good Factor Sleeper Express to the Premiership, Europe, Infinity and Beyond once again. Leeds may still be in the all too familiar position of eighth but are now just one point shy of the play offs - and next week's game is at home!

How does that poem by Larkin go?

That season, we were late getting away:
    Not till about
Three thirty on the sunlit Saturday
Did our three-quarters-empty train pull out,
All windows down, all cushions hot, all sense   
Of being in a hurry gone. We ran
Behind the backs of houses, crossed a street
Of blinding windscreens, smelt the fish-dock; thence   
The river’s level drifting breadth began,
Where sky and Lincolnshire and water meet.

All afternoon, through the tall heat that slept   
    For miles inland,
A slow and stopping curve southwards we kept.   
Wide farms went by, short-shadowed cattle, and   
Canals with floatings of industrial froth;   
A hothouse flashed uniquely: hedges dipped   
And rose: and now and then a smell of grass   
Displaced the reek of buttoned carriage-cloth   
Until the next town, new and nondescript,   
Approached with acres of dismantled cars.

At first, I didn’t notice what a noise
    The weddings made
Each station that we stopped at: sun destroys   
The interest of what’s happening in the shade,
And down the long cool platforms whoops and skirls   
I took for porters larking with the mails,   
And went on reading. Once we started, though,   
We passed them, grinning and pomaded, girls   
In parodies of fashion, heels and veils,   
All posed irresolutely, watching us go,

As if out on the end of an event
    Waving goodbye
To something that survived it. Struck, we leant   
More promptly out next time, more curiously,   
And saw it all again in different terms:   
The fathers with broad belts under their suits   
And seamy foreheads; mothers loud and fat;   
An uncle shouting smut; and then the perms,   
The nylon gloves and jewellery-substitutes,   
The lemons, mauves, and olive-ochres that

Marked off the girls unreally from the rest.   
    Yes, from caf├ęs
And banquet-halls up yards, and bunting-dressed   
Coach-party annexes, the wedding-days   
Were coming to an end. All down the line
Fresh couples climbed aboard: the rest stood round;
The last confetti and advice were thrown,
And, as we moved, each face seemed to define   
Just what it saw departing: children frowned   
At something dull; fathers had never known

Success so huge and wholly farcical;
    The women shared
The secret like a happy funeral;
While girls, gripping their handbags tighter, stared   
At a religious wounding. Free at last,
And loaded with the sum of all they saw,
We hurried towards London, shuffling gouts of steam.   
Now fields were building-plots, and poplars cast   
Long shadows over major roads, and for
Some fifty minutes, that in time would seem

Just long enough to settle hats and say
    I nearly died,

A dozen marriages got under way.
They watched the landscape, sitting side by side
—An Odeon went past, a cooling tower,   
And someone running up to bowl—and none   
Thought of the others they would never meet   
Or how their lives would all contain this hour.   
I thought of London spread out in the sun,   
Its postal districts packed like squares of wheat:

There we were aimed. And as we raced across   
    Bright knots of rail
Past standing Pullmans, walls of blackened moss   
Came close, and it was nearly done, this frail   
Travelling coincidence; and what it held   
Stood ready to be loosed with all the power   
That being changed can give. We slowed again,
And as the tightened brakes took hold, there swelled
A sense of rising, like an arrow-shower   
Sent out of sight, somewhere becoming a dream!

Friday, 8 November 2013

Leeds United's McDermott shows nasty side and refuses request to play the White man

Poor Sheffield United. As if they don't have enough problems to deal with! Back into the bottom four of the old Third Division, they now face a tricky FA Cup trip to the mighty Colchester and, thanks to the mean spirited formerly Nice Guy Brian, they have to do so without the services of the great Aidy White.

It never rains but it pours for the poor old Blunted Blades. Just when they thought they had signed their own Carlos Tevez - or at the very least the next Eddie Gray - the "third party" that is Leeds United, tells them that they can't play the guy!

And why did West Ham pay Shafting United twenty five million quid? Because, in THEORY, a third party could have told the club not to select Tevez for a game!

Still, Colchester can't select West Ham's goal machine Elliot Lee either, so Nigel Clough can't complain too much. But here's hoping ex Hammers Dominic Vose and Freddie Sears dump McScab's scum out on their arses regardless!

Sunday, 3 November 2013

The Leeds United McPromotion Express pulls out of Siding as Burnley, Reading, Watford, Nottingham Forest and Derby stumble!

Well, without wishing to sound cocky, it all went pretty much as I predicted on Thursday. Leeds dispatched Yeovil Town with the mcminimum of mcfuss whilst rival teams cut one another's throats. Burnley avoided the defeat I anticipated, but only courtesy of an own goal after going two goals behind. Mark my words, the Clarets will now slip down the table and will do well to finish in the top six.

And that is great news for Leeds. Leicester and QPR will probably remain out of reach, but Blackpool are no great shakes and are eminently catchable, whilst Watford and Forest are now within striking distance. Reading's defeat at Sheffield Wednesday meanwhile, will put huge question marks against the Royals promotion credentials. At the end of the day, sixth place is all that matters, and then Leeds have a ticket for the one in four lottery.

And courtesy of McCormack's goals, Leeds are now just three points shy of a play off place despite a truly dreadful October. As I have written before, Friar Brian's promotion charge at Reading didn't start until early December with that 3-0 thumping of nine man West Ham, so at present, Leeds are arguably ahead of schedule.

McCormack is back in form, Smith is finding his feet (which can't be easy when you are that tall!), Blackstock is an alternative and the new Lithuanian is now available to bolster the defence. What a shame that Albrighton wasn't snapped up on loan, because I suspect he could have proved the vital ingredient to turn a decent team into a good one.

The big question, of course, is whether or not Leeds can do away from home what they can do at Elland Road. If the gap swells back out to six points next week, the Leeds United Feel Good Factor Sleeper McExpress to the Premiership, Europe, Infinity and Beyond will again be shunted into a Championship siding, but a win at mediocre Charlton will result in a build up of steam, and then God help Miserablebrough when the Smoggies chug into Elland Road.

Leeds fans can hope, and this time hope with some justification!

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Is Zola moving in to borrowed time at Watford?

Oh dear. Yes the first goal was farcical, and no manager can be blamed for keeper stupidity - except Zola signed Almunia of course - but conceding three goals in two home games on the trot must invite questions about a manager's tactics.

Gianfredo will, of course, keep bemoaning his bad luck - deprived of three points at Brighton because of the absence of goal line technology, and falling behind today to a freak goal - but the truth of the matter is that the automatic promotion places are already a distant dream, and Watford now find themselves as the bridge between mid table and the play off places, with Leeds, Wigan, Blackburn et all closing up on their shoulder.

Until now, Watford fans have retained patience with the diminutive Italian, refusing to accept what is obvious to everybody else - that the Hornets are flying in reverse, based on last season's third place finish. The trouble is, Zola started well at West Ham, but then ran in to problems in his second season and it is increasingly looking as if we are in for a repeat at Vicarage Road.

The squad is more than good enough to challenge for automatic promotion, so the buck has to stop somewhere, and nice guy though he is, it may be that Zola lacks what it takes when the going gets tough. Yes he managed well the cards dealt unfairly to him by Pozzo last season, but this season his players know that their futures are in the Championship cul de sac and so, perhaps, are not so hungry to prove themselves worthy of a place in the Udinese first team instead of the Watford Calcio shadow squad.

Duxbury, Nani and Zola are best mates, of course, and he seems to have his sponsors in the Pozzo Family, but sooner or later, patience will be exhausted unless results turn around. I had Watford down as a banker for the top six a few weeks back, but now I'm not so sure.

One Wally replaces another Wally at QPR

So, with the Wally with the Brolly departing for Derby County, 'Arry 'as moved quickly to replace him with another Wally - appropriately given the Hula Hoops' recent slump in form, called Downes.

Any gRRRs excited by this appointment might like to check out West Ham's defensive record with Wally in charge of our back four, and our record since his departure. To save them the effort, I can confirm that we have been vastly superior since the only man at the club capable of making Big Fat Sam look slim was shown the especially widened door.

'Arry is "delighted" with the appointment - and so he should be as, with all his self promotion activities, he needs somebody to oversee the training between games. It is difficult to see quite what Downes will bring to the QPR table, apart from freeing Redknapp up from tiresome training chores, however as his coaching and management career, one season at Reading apart, is mediocre at best.