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Leeds United News from The Sporting Life    Yorkshire Evening Post


May 31: The chairman is doing what he can to hold on to one of our most prized assets - but the statements issued from Elland Road increasingly sound like they're paving the way for Harry Kewell's departure. The Prof said: "We remain hopeful that we can sign Harry to a new deal but it does depend on whether he is hell-bent on playing in the Champions League next season." He went on: "I hope he will stay and Peter Reid wants him to stay - but if we are not successful in persuading him to sign a new deal then we are not going to sell him for silly money." And he reiterated the statement Peter Reid made some time ago: "We are not seeking to sell anybody unless they feel they want to leave." So if you won't sign a new deal Harry, don't try to kid the fans that the club forced you out...

May 31: If you are judged by the company you keep, then I'm a bit worried about Mark Viduka. Once again his lowlife agent Andrea d'Amico has been stirring things up by trying to make out that Champions League winners AC Milan are interested in the big Aussie. D'Amico oozed: "There's nothing confirmed at the moment. Milan need a striker like Mark who is very talented and very powerful. Milan have Andriy Shevchenko and Filippo Inzaghi, but Mark is also a very good player." And he said: "I was in Manchester with Milan this week and we are working on this idea." So, if we translate that to reality what actually happened was this: Ancelotti comes out of OT and tries to get on the coach with the Milan team. "Carol! Carol! Errr... I mean Carlo!" says our agent chum. "Move along sonny," says six-foot-wide security man. Agent Scum: "I represent Mark Viduka and he'd love to play for Milan Signor Ancelotti sir!" S-F-W-S-M: "Oi! I thought I told you to move along and stop bugging this gentleman!" Agent: "Here's my card - please call me when you get a chance Signor Ancelotti!" S-F-W-S-M: "Now look - he's NOT signing autographs. Move it. NOW!" "But you don't understand - I represent a player who could help your side to undreamed of heights - you could start winning things if you signed him! You....ach....aaarrggh!" S-F-W-S-M: "Sorry about that sir, hope you weren't too inconvenienced by that gentleman. And congratulations on winning the European Cup."

May 30: Leeds Ladies have a new manager: Julie Chipchase has been appointed to the role recently vacated by Mark Hodgson. Julie was at Doncaster Belles last season, and has taken them to the Women's FA and League Cup finals as well as running Fulham - fairly - close in the league last season.

May 30: Two days to the deadline and the papers today carry a story that Chelsea are about to slap £4 million on the table to take Danny Mills back down to London. Mills is only just into a new four-year deal, but with Gary Kelly's return to form and Frazer Richardson coming through the ranks - and with Mills' poor form for much of last season - I guess he's one of the players we might be able to countenance losing if it meant keeping the likes of Paul Robinson, Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka.

May 30: Peter Ridsdale has been involved in talks with the current owner of Barnsley - the Mayor no less - to take control of the Oakwell club according to the papers today. Peter Doyle took over last season and has been promising a big cash injection and the rescheduling of debts necessary to bring the club out of administration, but there have been countless delays to such an extent that disgruntled Barnsley fans have set up "AFC Barnsley" - along the same lines as the club set up by Wimbledon fans unhappy at the prospect of a move to Milton Keynes. Doyle has denied that any discussions have taken place with the former Leeds chairman, although he said he'd be happy to welcome him on board if he was prepared to invest in the club. Although nothing is finalised yet, a press release blew across the windswept car park at Oakwell in which the new chairman spoke of his lifelong love of the club, and told how he missed five days' work down t'pit queuing for tickets for the local derby against Rotherham when he were nobbut a bairn. Further signs of an imminent takeover were evident later in the day as a group of men from a nearby travelling fair arrived at the boardroom door carry several small water-filled polythene bags in which - it is rumoured - small carp were seen to be swimming.

May 30: The ballots are stuffed, the counting is rigged and the returning officer has been well and truly bribed. The end of season poll results are out there. Thanks to everyone who took part - take a look and see how your thoughts on the season matched up to everyone else.

May 30: Arsenal are preparing to offer around £5 million cash plus a player in exchange for Harry Kewell - with Ray Parlour and Francis Jeffers the two favorites as makeweights. The real problem will be persuading the players to move up to Leeds - although both are not automatic first team choices, the chance to get a decent run in a side that is playing in the Champions League is a big draw, and Parlour would have to forego a big testimonial payday in a year or so (like he needs the money!). From Leeds' perspective, Parlour would be an excellent choice to strengthen the midfield - not that he could really offset the loss of Kewell of course! After an absence of further discussions due to the Prof being on holiday, Harry Kewell's agent is now out of the country and unavailable for another week or so. Presumably Kewell plans to go on holiday himself in mid-June so that Leeds can sweat just that little bit more before they find out his plans for the future, but it's very long odds now that he will start the new season in a Leeds shirt.

May 29: Brian Kerr's squad for the two crucial Euro 2004 qualifiers includes Ian Harte and Stephen McPhail, but Gary Kelly misses out once again due to continuing problems with shin splints. At least the players won't have too far to travel during their notional summer holidays: the two games - against Albania on June 7 and Georgia on June 11 - are both at Lansdowne Road. Also in the squad are old boy Robbie Keane and transfer target Colin Healy of Celtic.

May 29: Sunday marks the point at which the transfer window reopens - allowing the movement of under-contract players between clubs. Of course, such movements involve fees, so don't expect Leeds to be much involved on the buying side of the equation. But there are several half-decent players being released at the end of their contracts that Leeds might consider picking up as squad players - Jody Morris was highly-rated at Chelsea at one stage even though he seems to have slipped down the pecking order a bit now, and David May is being released by Man U and might be worth a punt to give us a little bit of experienced centreback cover given the dodgy state of the knees of Dom and The Chief. On the way out - well the tabloid transfer speculation says that Fergie is preparing a £7 million bid for Harry Kewell, but that the player himself would favour a move to Arsenal. Liverpool - who have only UEFA Cup football to offer this season - are now a much less likely destination.

May 29: With another incredible display of a total lack of understanding of how the media works, Eirik Bakke finds himself in hot water with Norwegian coach Nils Johan Semb after appearing in a set of photos showing him and Steffen Iversen with a bunch of empty beer glasses and with a caption having a dig at Scandi-rivals Denmark. Bakke - who was found guilty of drink-driving just a couple of weeks ago - said that he didn't think they were going to publish the pictures. Earth to Eirik: DUH!

May 28: Darren Huckerby will not be staying at Nottingham Forest next season after they failed to make it up into the Premier League through the play-offs. Although he had a good start at the City Ground, it looks like his wage expectations, the need to keep costs down and the excellent prospects that Paul Hart has been developing mean that he'll need to spend the summer looking for another club.

May 28: Reserve/youth team left back Tom Newey has turned down a move to Darlington after all. He did well in a loan spell there this season and the Quakers had hoped to make the move permanent, but it seems that he thinks he will be able to rustle up a better deal elsewhere, so declined their offer.

May 28: Lucas Radebe revealed that he had come close to finally calling it a day on his career as this season came to a close. On the official website today, he says: "There was a point when, a few games ago, I went home and I was very disappointed because I was limping. It was so painful I couldn't even get up the stairs at home." But he's determined to get through this one last season with Leeds, and he says he doesn't mind the injuries so much because he enjoys the game. "You only get one chance to do this, and that time is now. They are my battle scars."

May 28: Birmingham manager Steve Bruce has poured cold water on suggestions that Nigel Martyn might be about to move down to St Andrews in the summer. Bruce insists that existing keeper Nico Vaesen - who missed the back end of last season through injury - and Ian Bennett were to continue, and the Blues were offering Bennett an extended contract. And the move for Martyn was "a load of nonsense - absolute rubbish." So we'll expect to see Nige getting lost on Spaghetti Junction in the morning then.

May 28: Just over two and a half years ago, we all had a good laugh among the cheering as Milan's Brazilian keeper Dida helped Lee Bowyer's late and speculative shot into the net to give Leeds a famous Champions League win which really kick-started the run in that competition. Two seasons later and the clown is picking up the Champions League trophy at Old Trafford after saving three penalties in the shoot out while we're just grateful to have avoided relegation. Wonder who's laughing now?

May 27: With the deadline for simple renewals set at the end of the week (transfers can be requested in the fortnight beyond that), it's reported that less than 14,000 - just over half - of the existing season ticket holders have responded to the club's pleas and begging letters and stumped up the cash. Since this was supposed to be a key factor determining how much PR will be allowed to spend - or indeed who he must sell - this isn't too heartening, but on the positive side this is about the same level of renewals as at the corresponding point of last summer. 2001-02 was a poor season by any standards, but the expected massive drop in season ticket sales never materialised: will the level of blind loyalty continue to outweigh the common sense and value-for-money attitudes that us Yorkies are well-known for? I guess we'll see over the next few weeks.

May 27: Matt Jones had a bit of a bad day at the office yesterday as Wales were defeated 2-0 by the USA in San Jose. Jones picked up a yellow card and conceded a penalty towards the end of the first half, and followed that up with a second yellow for handball just as the second half got underway. Wales manager Mark Hughes had some sympathy for his player: "It was unfortunate for Matt - it hit his hand, but the ref was a bit too quick to get his card out."

May 27: Teddy Lucic has found himself a new club in pretty short order: he's switching to Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga next season. Lucic found himself out in the cold under Peter Reid after arriving on a season-long loan from AIK Solna of Stockholm, and Leeds declined to take up an option on his services at the end of the season. He didn't want to go back to Sweden, and must be hoping that next season at Leverkusen will be an improvement on the relegation battle that both he and his new club have had to endure in the last campaign. Lucic said: "Leverkusen are a huge club who've had a miserable season and I'm really looking forward to playing a part in their revival."

May 27: David O'Leary and Aston Villa have been given permission by Leeds to talk to reserve team coach Roy Aitken and chief scout Ian Broomfield. It's understood that both men are likely to join O'Leary at Villa Park in similar roles for the new season, leaving Peter Reid with an almost completely free hand to bring in his own men at Elland Road: only Andy Ritchie plus the physios now remain from the DOL days.

May 27: Andy Gray and Danny Hay both started on the bench in tonight's international between Scotland and New Zealand at Tynecastle. Scotland took an early lead but let the visitors back into the match at the start of the second half. The game finished 1-1 - not the confidence-boosting preparation that Berti Vogts was hoping for ahead of their crucial Euro 2004 qualifier with Germany on June 7. Gray played for the last half hour but Hay's ankle injury kept him out of the game.

May 26: Obviously the good Prof's efficiency drive has not yet got round to the merchandising department and Nike: the new Whyte and Mackay logo white and yellow shirts and the all-new-design blue shirts won't be available until the end of August as a result of the late date the new sponsors were announced and the amount of time it takes Nike to take a shirt from design to shelf. Vaguely reminiscent of the post-Championship season when the all-new Admiral home shirts didn't go on sale until the second week of the season (I remember stopping off at Elland Road to buy one on the way up to a 1-4 hammering at Ayresome Park) and the away shirts weren't available until after Christmas (though those bloody awful blue-with-puke-marks shirts were never going to sell many). A great commercial opportunity went begging then as the bandwagon-jumpers missed out on their chance to buy the Champions' shirt. I guess this time round it's a bit less of an issue, since us loyal mugs will still be hanging around when they eventually get it into the shops.

May 25: Birmingham boss Steve Bruce is looking to strengthen his squad this season - and Nigel Martyn is being mentioned as a possible target as Bruce tries to strengthen his defence. Without a look-in this season, Martyn still has a couple or three seasons left before he finally hangs up the gloves, and if Leeds can persuade Paul Robinson to stay then Martyn might choose to look elsewhere for a first team chance. Less believably, DOL is said to be interested in taking Stephen McPhail to Villa Park. Since O'Leary more or less froze McPhail out in his time at Elland Road, it's hard to see him getting another chance at Villa.

May 25: In a no-real-news-day article Peter Reid was quoted in today's Mail on Sunday as saying that he wanted to hang on to Harry Kewell. Reid said: "We don't have to sell him and I'd love him to stay. I have told him what I think and what my hopes are for the club." Preparing for the inevitable though, Reid added: "If anyone leaves, it will be of their own choice - I don't want to stand in the way of anybody who wants to go because nothing less than 100% commitment is essential."

May 25: This week's Euro round-up starts in Spain, where the chase for the top spot in La Liga is now a two-horse race between Real Madrid and Real Sociedad. Deportivo knocked themselves out of the race on Saturday when they lost 3-0 at Galician rivals Celta Vigo - Edu scoring two of the three second-half goals for the on-form home side. Real Madrid went back to the top of the table on Saturday when two Ronaldo goals in the Mestalla proved too much for Valencia, who could only muster a single striker from Fabio Aurelio in response. In tonight's televised game, Sociedad were under a lot of pressure from Malaga in the Rosaleda, but a couple of dreadful refereeing decisions turned the game in their favour in the second half. First the ref missed a fairly obvious handball by a Sociedad defender that would have meant a penalty for Malaga - and probably a red card for Sociedad - and booked the home side's Sandro for arguing the toss. Barely 10 minutes later, Sandro got the faintest of contacts with his arm on the ankle of another Sociedad player: the ref was on the spot straight away and Sandro was shown a second yellow for one of the softest challenges of the game. I think he also picked up a third booking for telling the ref exactly what he thought of him after he finally agreed to leave the field. The game became increasingly fractious with 8 more bookings, but Sociedad finally went ahead through sub Gabilondo, and Kovacevic wrapped up the points with 3 minutes to go. The upshot of all this is that Sociedad lead Madrid by a point with three games to go. Depor are 5 points further back, and they have a further 9 point buffer on Celta Vigo, who moved into the last Champions League place ahead of Valencia. Bilbao are in pole position to join Valencia and Mallorca (winners of the Cup) in the UEFA Cup slots, but Atletico Madrid, Sevilla, Barcelona - and even Real Betis down in 11th - are contesting the final place. Espanyol's 2-0 win over Alaves secured their place in the top flight for next season - but it's looking increasingly desperate for Alaves, facing the drop just a couple of years after making it through to the UEFA Cup final.

On the last day of the Bundesliga, Bayer Leverkusen saved themselves with a Basturk goal against relegated Nurnberg - finishing just one place and four points above the drop zone just one season after being runners-up in both the Bundesliga and the Champions League. Arminia Bielefeld join Nurnberg and Energie Cottbus in leaving the top flight. Cottbus may be down, but they played a significant role in the final placings at the top of the table yesterday: Stuttgart started the day in third place and did their bit to move up and secure the second automatic Champions League spot with a 2-0 win over Wolfsburg, but Borussia Dortmund had their fate in their own hands and screwed up when they allowed Cottbus a second-half equaliser to Rosicky's first-half goal, and now they face a qualifier to get into the money-making bonanza that is the Champions League next season.

Serie A finished with a few intriguing twists. Juve were crowned champions a couple of weeks ago, and they finished in style with a 4-3 win over Chievo - which was scant reward for the visitors' Oliver Bierhoff who signed off his Serie A career with a hat-trick but no points as the one-time Champions League contenders dropped to seventh. Juve's goals came from Marcelo Zalayeta with a pair, inevitably one from David Trezeguet and the 87th minute winner from Cristian Zenoni. Inter finished second - two goals from Hernan Crespo should have been enough to secure the points in the San Siro, but they let Perugia score in the first and last minute of the second half to share the spoils. Milan were obviously thinking about the visit to Old Trafford for the Champions League final on Wednesday, losing 4-2 at relegated Piacenza. Claudio Lopez scored for Lazio - but their 2-1 defeat in Udinese left them in 4th spot and hoping for some Champions League success next season. The relegation battle couldn't have been closer: four teams finished on 38 points but Empoli's 0-2 defeat to Parma didn't make any difference to their chances since they had the best record against the other three teams (which is how relegation is determined in the Italian league). Modena also survived when they hung on for a 2-2 draw at Brescia having been 0-2 up after 20 minutes. So that leaves Atalanta and Regina, who both won this weekend, facing a two-legged play-off to determine who stays up and who goes down with Piacenza, Como and Torino.

After a round of midweek matches in France, Lyon were certain of the title bar a trouncing from En Avant Guingamp while Marseille hammered in a cricket score at Nantes. As it was, Guingamp did grab a 1-4 win, but Marseille went down 1-0 at Nantes - which also allowed AS Monaco to sneak into the second automatic Champions league place with a 6-0 win at home to bottom side Troyes. Two Pauleta goals gave Bordeaux the win over Lille and 4th place, while the other UEFA Cup place went to Sochaux, whose 2-1 win over Sedan put them ahead of Auxerre on goal difference, despite Auxerre's 2-0 win over PSG. AC Ajaccio hung on for a goalless draw with Strasbourg to secure their place in Ligue 1 at the expense of Le Havre, who must have been hoping that their 2-1 win over Nice would have been enough to keep them up.

It's down to the final week in Holland: with PSV beating Utrecht 2-0 with goals from Bruggink and Kezman and Ajax winning 1-2 at FC Twente Enschede, that leaves Eindhoven with a 3 point and 6 goals lead on Ajax. PSV visit Groningen - just above the drop zone - next week, and Ajax host Heerenveen, who hammered six unanswered goals past RBC this weekend. It should be a formality for PSV - but you never can tell. Game of the weekend was a relegation zone thriller between Excelsior and Vitesse - 8 goals shared evenly, 4 bookings and a dismissal: now that's what football is all about!

Sparta Prague are the Gambrinus Liga champions after a 1-1 draw at home to Olomouc this weekend gave them the point they needed when added to the three they picked up in the committee room in midweek from their abandoned game at Bohemians. Slavia's 3-0 win over Viktoria Zizkov left them four points adrift with one game to go, so despite the fact that they've only lost two games this season to Sparta's four, Slavia's ten drawn games left them with just too high a mountain to climb. The race for third will go down to the wire: Slovan Liberec and Viktoria Zizkov are even on points, with Liberec having a small advantage in goal difference. Bohemians joined Hradec Kralove in a lower league next season.

May 24: Patrik Berger's agent says that he'll be in England next week for a meeting with "a Premiership club" - but will it be us or Pompey - or even Spurs and Everton? After three injury-troubled years, he would be a bit of a gamble for any club, but if he lives up to previous form he would be a valuable addition to a midfield that has suffered much from injury, transfers and poor form over the last year. The Prof is back from his holidays next week - so expect to see an increase in the pace of our transfer activity as we get into June.

May 24: Michael Bridges will wed his long-time girlfriend Kate in the north-east tomorrow. The young striker has had a thoroughly miserable couple of years on the field - here's hoping tomorrow marks a change in his luck and fitness as well as the start of a happy married life.

May 24: Harry Kewell told Eurosport how much he'd enjoyed the UEFA Cup and Champions League runs of the last couple of years - and how much he wanted them to continue. He once again referred to the possibility of a move to Italy or Spain, and it is believed that his representatives have had semi-serious discussions with at least two major clubs from the continent. He's still not made any formal announcement on his future - but will come under pressure from Peter Reid and the Prof to sign his new Leeds contract before the end of June or move on - although his presence in the side next season would be invaluable, his departure on a Bosman remains unthinkable, so a sale will be forced through if he continues to prevaricate on extending his existing deal.

May 24: It sounds as if there's no possibility of Lucas Radebe continuing to play football beyond the end of his contract with Leeds - which runs to the end of next season. Radebe's commitment in playing through the pain this season has been tremendous, but he knows that he can't afford to do it for much longer without suffering serious long-term damage - that's why he's had to step down from the South African national side. I feel I can't carry on any longer. I have been battling with injuries and I will now have to focus on my career at Leeds. If I can help Leeds get back into Europe again that would be a great way to finish."

May 23: Mark Hodgson - manager of the Leeds United Ladies team - has left the club "by mutual consent" as they say. Hodgson has done much over the last couple of years to introduce a degree of professionalism into the ranks, but with the FA's failure to establish a professional women's league as they originally intended, and with the general financial problems at Elland Road, this isn't the most surprising decision that's been taken this summer. A successor will be appointed shortly - though odds-on the new manager will be part-time.

May 23: Lee Bowyer finally agreed to become a Newcastle United player today. His agents agreed a deal with the Magpies that will keep Bowyer at St James Park for 4-5 years - and pay him a large chunk of cash into the bargain. I'd be very surprised if Bobby Robson had not insisted on a clause in Bowyer's contract to claw back money from the highly-paid midfielder when his absences from the side are caused by off-field misbehaviour.

May 22: Lucas Radebe's international career came to an end tonight with a defeat for South Africa against England. England took the lead after less than a minute when Gareth Southgate met a Beckham free kick with an excellent header, but Danny Mills allowed the hosts back into the game halfway through the first half when he was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box. Paul Robinson came on at half-time and was rarely troubled, and Emile Heskey sealed the win for England.

May 22: The earlier rumours surrounding Leeds' interest in Patrik Berger are gathering momentum. The Czech star will be available for free, and his salary expectations will not be huge - and although such a move would have had us scratching our heads a year or so ago, now it looks like it might not be bad acquisition if he can reproduce the form he showed for Liverpool a couple of years back - and he's only 29 so there's still some life in him yet. Other rumours say Peter Reid is interested in being reunited with Sunderland's Gavin McCann - another midfielder - so it's clear where Reid's initial concerns lie.

May 22: ...Roy Aitken and Lee Bowyer according to the latest reports. Aitken was brought in by O'Leary and has primarily been working with the youngsters. He was linked with a move to take charge of Brann Bergen earlier in the year, but that fell through and it's said that he's the new Villa manager's first choice to join his coaching staff. And on the playing side, DOL's first signing could very well be Bowyer - a player that DOL has praised in the past and for whom he's clearly got a lot of time: he was a lot more forgiving of Bowyer's on-pitch "indiscretions" than the considerably less sly incidents involving Alan Smith. But Bowyer's advisers are giving nothing specific away, merely saying that several clubs are interested and doing their best to drum up some interest in their client before he ends up knocking on Division 1 doors to find someone willing to take the risk on his dodgy knee, his suspect motivation and his ability to stay out of trouble in all aspects of his life for a season.

May 21: Although several news sources were reporting Olivier Dacourt's move to AS Roma had completed today, the i-dotting and t-crossing has still not been done. Leeds received a faxed offer from Roma which seems to be generally acceptable to the board, so the formalities should be complete by the end of the week. Meanwhile Lee Bowyer's agent says that his move to Newcastle is not yet definite and that other clubs are interested (rough translation - "Won't some London club make an offer for me: come on Chelsea - you're seriously lacking in the rat-faced midfielder department since Dennis Wise retired"). If he doesn't watch out he might find that Newcastle adopt the same attitude that Liverpool took last season when faced with his reluctance to commit to a move.

May 21: Lucas Radebe today met up with Nelson Mandela on the eve of his final game for South Africa. Radebe is the last player still active who appeared in South Africa's first post-apartheid international in 1992. The Chief said: "I want to go out with a bang and what a way to go out, against a team like England, where I played so much of my football." The Leeds centreback will be a key supporter of the SAFA World Cup bid, and David Beckham - who had requested the meeting with Mandela - presented him with an England shirt and promised to support South Africa's bid. Beckham said that he hoped to be around to captain England, even though he would be 35 by then. The meeting with the former president was surprisingly missed by several of the England squad, among them Danny Mills. Apparently they had decided "to let their bodies rest for the game" according to the FA - meeting up with an almost universally-admired world statesman and Nobel Peace Prize winner is obviously going to take a lot out of them ahead of a friendly match, so that's alright then.

May 21: No less an authority than the official ManU website says that Harry Kewell looks set to rule out a move to Old Trafford. The wages at OT wouldn't be much more than he's getting at the moment, and it would be difficult for him to be rewarded comparatively better than Rio - the man he left sitting bemusedly on the floor when the Socceroos beat England at Upton Park. Of course, this could be yet another smokescreen to mask a deal that is widely believed to have been finalised when Bernie Mandic was a guest of the club for the Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid...

May 21: The Prof revealed just how bad things would have been if we had been relegated last season. The overall budget would have been slashed by around 40% - and as well as losing a large number of first-teamers, the club would have been forced to close the Academy as well - which in the long-term would have made things even worse for the club. Yesterday he likened LUFC to an oil-tanker which took a long time to turn round: it's now clear we were on the point of a beachful of greasy gulls and sad-looking seals. Here's hoping we never come that close to the rocks again.

May 20: Lee Bowyer is close to signing up to join Jon Woodgate at St James Park on a 4-year deal worth an estimated £40,000 a week. Bowyer had only signed up with West Ham until the end of the season and was free to leave when they were relegated, so there's no signing on fee to be paid. With noted party animals Bellamy and Dyer already up there with Woodgate, landlords in Bigg Market have been urgently contacting estate and travel agents as they try to figure out what to do with their soon-to-be-inflated takings.

May 20: To the great surprise of nobody - least of all the bookies - David O'Leary was confirmed as the new manager of Aston Villa this evening. Despite several high-profile departures and some expensive flops, Villa do have a few good young players breaking through into the first team, and it will be interesting to see if DOL can work the same trick in developing those players as he did with some of the youngsters at Leeds. Note to Doug Ellis: buy a new padlock for your chequebook for when the manager tries to convince you to spend multi-million sums on acquiring a seventh striker and yet another injury-prone midfielder. O'Leary admitted he made some mistakes at Leeds, saying: "The biggest one is that I became too opinionated in newspapers and you won't have that from David O'Leary again."

May 20: A Leeds XI will be playing at Kettering's Rockingham Road ground on Wednesday 6 August with a 1945 KO. Leeds were due to send a side down there last year, but realised at the last minute that the first team had to jet off to China and the youngsters were due to play in Northern Ireland, so they pulled out at the last minute but promised to return this summer. Shutty is no longer there, but the beer in the Supporters Club is as good as ever, so get the date pencilled in your diaries now.

May 20: There's an excellent interview with the good Prof in today's YEP in which more of the profligacy of the Ridsdale years is revealed. As well as the well-documented company car fleet, the huge payoffs to O'Leary and Venables (£5.7 million between them!), the chairman reveals that Leeds were spending £70,000 a year on executive jet travel for senior management and £20 a month leasing goldfish for the chairman's office. Needless to say most of those expenses have now been cut! McKenzie said: "The club has been guilty of indulgent spending on several fronts. This is unacceptable at any time, but especially at a time when the club was losing vast amounts of money." Tonight Ridsdale hit back at his successor's claims. "Since leaving Leeds United I have kept a dignified silence," he said. "Today's comments by my successor John McKenzie are therefore extremely disappointing as they make reference to expenditure and a culture which are in some cases taken out of context, in some cases sensationalised and in some cases inaccurate. I will continue to keep a dignified silence whilst wishing Leeds United all the best for the future." Which is a shame - because I'd love to know in what context the contract severance terms were agreed, why a publicly quoted company of this size thought it could fund executive jet travel and why one employee was headhunted, paid a huge chunk of relocation expenses only for him to leave 6 months later. But I guess we'll never know - until the inevitable book comes out around Christmas that is...

May 20: Just a quick note on something I mentioned on Sunday night. The game between Bohemians and Sparta in the Gambrinus Liga ended when the linesman was attacked by an irate spectator for failing to flag for offside after Sparta took the lead and looked set to clinch the title - and leave Bohemians in serious relegation trouble. Needless to say the player in question was well onside and Sparta now look set to be awarded the title in the committee room on Thursday when the Czech FA are expected to award them a 3-0 win. Although you can't possibly condone such an attack (even such a tame one as I'm told this was), you've got to ask how long it will be before something similar happens over here. We've seen some truly atrocious refereeing decisions this season, both for and against us, while at the same time seeing a lot more aggro, abuse and general nastiness in the stands. Who will be the first Premier League club to be hauled over the coals when someone crosses the fine line between verbally questioning an official's visual acuity/honesty/sanity and takes to the pitch to physically confront them?

May 19: You've only got the remainder of the week to cast your vote in the end of season poll. Get your votes in for the heroes and zeroes of this season now.

May 19: AS Roma sporting director Franco Baldini says that Olivier Dacourt will be confirmed as a Roma player within the next 24 hours. "Dacourt will stay in Rome until 2006," he said. "I have sent a fax to Leeds this morning regarding our talks last week and the deal should be officialised between Monday and Tuesday. The amount agreed is slightly lower than the amount previously requested by Leeds and there will not be any Roma players included in the agreement." Roma are believed to have put £3.5 million on the table - which should be enough to secure the player, even if it's less than what was originally agreed - but Leeds have yet to confirm that they've received the offer never mind accepted it.

May 19: Although it's widely accepted that Harry Kewell will be running out at Old Trafford wearing the hideous red monstrosity that passes for a shirt in those parts next season, stories today link him with a move a bit further down the East Lancs Road. Liverpool were interested in Damien Duff - but Blackburn's £15 million price tag is putting them off somewhat, so their attention is wandering and Harry Kewell - at a bargain nearly-on-a-Bosman-so-we're-desperate £6 million - is said to be their target. More worryingly it's said that Liverpool might offer us Patrik Berger in part exchange.

May 18: Paul Robinson is quoted in today's News of the World as saying that the boardroom changes have left him in limbo. Peter Ridsdale (aka "Santa") promised him an extended and improved contract shortly before he was forced out. But he'd had a meeting with the good Prof and been told that the club would not necessarily be able to offer him an improved deal straight away. "He said the club wanted to wait until the end of the season before making any decisions for the future. So I'm back to the awful uncertainty of not knowing whether I'm going to stay or whether I'm going to be sold." So what the Prof actually said was that the club couldn't agree a new deal until we knew which division we were in - which sounds entirely sensible. Robinson went on: "It certainly does make you wonder what the club is planning. I mean what are you supposed to think, what are you supposed to do when that happens?" Sounds to me like someone's agent has already got a deal lined up and has advised his client to start making "I love Leeds but I'm being forced out" noises to keep the fans on his side and avoid the abuse that was heaped on certain other trans-Pennine defectors. Leeds issued a statement on Sunday making it clear that the Prof had NOT met with Robbo, but had spoken to his advisers and had indicated that Leeds would consider looking at his contract once we knew where we were going to be playing next season. But Leeds also pointed out that Robbo still has three years of his deal - signed just a year ago anyway - to run and would expect him to honour that contract.

May 18: Today's Sunday People says that Newcastle want to sign up Michael Bridges for £1.5 million - and some of that would be appearance-based. Although he's had a number of injury problems, I'd rate a fit Bridges as most likely of all our strikers to bag 20-30 goals a season - and if we see Leeds accepting an offer at this sort of level then we can assume either that the Leeds doctors are dead certain he'll never play more than a handful of games again (and have convinced the board that they know better than the Magpies' quacks) or that our financial position is still deteriorating despite the cutbacks of the last 6 months.

May 18: The bookies have DOL as favorite to step into the breach at Villa Park following last week's resignation of Graham Taylor. O'Leary has been out of the game for a year, but having settled with Leeds is keen to get back into top flight management. Villa would certainly present him with a challenge - but the big question is whether he and "Deadly" Doug Ellis would manage to get along. George Burley and Walter Smith are the other two front-runners for the job, although England U21 boss and former Villa Park favorite David Platt is also being mentioned, despite his disastrous turn in the hot seat at Forest.

May 18: The Irish Times has us playing a 4-way pre-season mini-tournament in Dublin over the weekend of August 9/10. It's not quite the same level as the Lazio/Liverpool tourney over there a couple of years ago - likely opponents are Shelbourne, St Pats and Villa (maybe they know something about who Villa's new manager will be).

May 18: South Africa national coach Ephraim Mashaba has been sidelined for one game and replaced by Jomo Somo for the friendly against England this Thursday. And that's good news for Lucas Radebe: Mashaba had been adamant that any player who had missed a training camp earlier in the year would not be eligible, so Radebe - along with Quinton Fortune and Shaun Bartlett - was ruled out of the side, despite the fact that he was injured and so unavailable for the camp. But SAFA announced at a press conference today that Sono was running the side for this one game, and so Radebe returns to captain the side and make a record 70th appearance for his country.

May 18: La Liga first, where Depor slipped up yesterday, going down 1-2 to Valencia in the Riazor thanks to a goal in each half for the visitors from Fabio Aurelio. So today it was down to Real Sociedad to take the initiative, which they did - just - with a Nihat goal the only thing that separated them from relegation-threatened Recreativo Huelva. Real Madrid got off to a flying start - 3-0 up inside 20 minutes against Malaga, and two more goals in the second half gave the hosts a 5-1 win and kept them just a point behind Sociedad. Valencia's win yesterday has pulled them back into fourth place - the final Champions League spot - because Celta Vigo had Luccin and Mido sent off after 20 minutes at Villareal and went on to lose 5-0. Other highlights include a pair for Patrick Kluivert as Barca played Mallorca in the Nou Camp: unfortunately one of them was an og, and Carlos bagged a winner for the visitors three minutes from the end to pull them into UEFA contention while pushing Barca back into mid-table despair.

In Serie A, there were wins for Inter, Milan and Lazio to clinch the Champions League places with just one round to go. Chievo are in pole position to grab a UEFA place after their goalless draw with Roma, but Parma's comeback from a 0-2 deficit at home to Piacenza to win 3-2 has kept them in contention - and relegated Piacenza into the bargain. Udinese's 0-2 win at Perugia also keeps up their euro-hopes.

Bayer Leverkusen - now onto their third coach of the year - climbed out of the drop zone with a 3-0 win over 1860 Munich. Champions Bayern Munich did Dortmund a favour by beating Stuttgart 2-1 to allow second-placed Dortmund to build a cushion on third-placed Stuttgart - but they could only manage a goalless draw with Kaiserslautern. Dortmund must be grateful they have a home tie against bottom club Cottbus next week to guarantee them an automatic Champions League place while Stuttgart must face mid-table Wolfsburg.

A hat-trick from Pierre van Hoojidonk - two from the spot - gave Feyenoord a morale-boosting 3-1 win over champions-elect PSV. Ajax were a goal down inside a minute at home to de Graafschap - but did their goal difference a power of good when they produced seven goals with no further answer. With two games to go, Ajax trail PSV by three points and five goals and all four crucial matches pit the leading two against teams with little to play for in the middle/bottom half of the table.

In Belgium, last week saw the winding-up of relegation-threatened Lommel by the Belgian FA after they failed to convince the authorities that they could pay their debts. After the reordering of the league caused by their removal, Brugge were confirmed as champions - but could only draw 1-1 with Germinal this weekend. Anderlecht have the other Champions League place - they won 1-0 at home to La Louviere yesterday - and Lokeren clinched a UEFA spot despite a 2-1 defeat at Lierse when St-Truidense could only manage a 2-2 draw at Genk. The other highlight of the Jpulier League this weekend was a four-goal haul for Jef Delen as Westerlo won 0-4 at Excelsior Mouscron.

Not too sure what's happening in the Gambrinus Liga: Sparta could have made certain of the title this weekend if they'd have managed a win while Slavia lost. Sparta came back from a goal down at Bohemians to lead 1-2 yesterday, but it seems the match was abandoned (maybe someone can enlighten me?). Slavia's 1-2 win at Blsany closes the gap to 3 points with two rounds - plus Sparta's abandoned game - to go. Viktoria Zizkov had a threee point lead on Slovan Liberec at the start of this round, but Zizkov could only draw 1-1 at home to Brno, so Liberec can close the gap when they travel to face Zlin tomorrow.

May 17: Teddy Lucic said he had no regrets about coming to Leeds for a season, even though he didn't manage to secure a permanent move. He said: "I had been happy enough to take the loan period and I have enjoyed my time in Leeds playing Premiership football. Although we lost quite a few games and had a difficult season, I think that playing with Leeds has benefited my career... I learned the English type of play."

May 17: For the second game in succession, Andy Keogh scored the only goal of the game to give the Leeds U17 side the win and the title in the end-of-season play-off final at Maine Road. The match was goalless after 90 minutes, but Leeds just managed to squeak the win with 10 minutes of extra time remaining.

May 17: Not much Leeds-related to be honest! Lee Bowyer - now available on a free from West Ham - is being linked with a move to Everton so that David Moyes can use him as an example of how not to behave for Wayne Rooney. Paul Okon's agent has made it clear that his client would expect to have a chance of getting a game for Leeds if he is to stay for the remaining two years of his contract. Leo Karis said: "Paul feels he can still offer something at this level and he is determined to go to the next World Cup, so he must look not just at his short-term future but his long-term as well." He's been out in the cold since Peter Reid took over - deservedly so in the view of most regular Leeds-watchers - and it's really down to the player to improve his own standards if he wants his career to regain enough momentum to get one final chance of World Cup glory in 2006.

May 16: Shane Cansdell-Sherriff has been offered a further year on his contract to see if he can make it into the first team. He's now 20 years old - so you'd expect the manager to be able to make the call on whether he'll be good enough for the Premier League inside the next 12 months. He played a few games while on loan at Rochdale this season, but has yet to appear for the first team outside the pre-season friendlies. It was also announced that Jacob Burns and Tom Newey - whose contracts expire on June 30 - will not have their deals extended. Newey is already on loan at Darlo and Burns has attracted some interest from Feyenoord, but neither has anything definite sorted for next season yet.

May 16: Mark Viduka's agent seems to have been watching Bruno Satin and Bernie Mandic and doing his best to combine all their worst points. He just can't help but talk about how much interest his client is attracting from so many clubs and how a really low bid would secure his services. Maybe it's time for him to replace his Ferrari and he needs his 10% of a nice fat signing-on fee. Or maybe he really is acting in Leeds' best interests by making it impossible for any club to put in a bid for the Aussie striker without being successfully sued by Leeds for having had illegal discussions beforehand. But somehow I think that's unlikely so in the meantime our message to Andrea D'Amico is "SHUT THE **** UP!"

May 16: The club have announced some details of the second string's pre-season games. The reserves/youth team (aka a "Leeds XI") will play Bradford Park Avenue on Monday July 28 with a 1945 KO, followed by a game at Chesterfield the following Saturday at midday, and finally the regular fixture with Harrogate Town on August 12, again with a 1945 KO. It's expected that the club will announce further first team fixtures in addition to the games at Hull and Burnley shortly.

May 16: Although Teddy Lucic has played his last game for Leeds United, it seems that he won't be going back to his former club AIK Solna. Although he's quoted on Leeds' official website as saying that he would be heading back to Sweden, his club was assuming - and budgeting for - the fact that he wouldn't be playing for them again, and his agent makes it sound like he would view a return to Solna as a step backwards. So expect to see the bullet-headed one on the books of a bottom-half Premier League/ambitious Division 1 club sometime in the summer.

May 15: Eddie Gray and Brian Kidd are to leave the club as Peter Reid reshapes his off-field team for next season. Peter Reid's decision isn't entirely unexpected - any new manager would normally do the same thing - it's just a shame the club couldn't find a role for Eddie after all the good work he's done developing the youngsters who were a key component of our successes over the last couple of years. Reid said: "In my spell at Leeds I've enjoyed working with Eddie and Brian. Nobody can doubt Eddie's status as a Leeds legend or Brian's proven track record as a top coach. I wish them both well in the future but I feel changes have to be made if the club is to progress in the way I want it to." Both Kidd and Gray were on 12-month contracts, but both have been released with immediate effect after agreeing a settlement with the club.

May 15: Norman Hunter spoke for many fans when he said: "!I would have thought [Reid] may have found a role for Eddie given how popular he is at Elland Road, but overall I'm not surprised given the financial state of the club." And a rather important point when considering who he brings in next: "But whoever he brings in won't be better coaches because Eddie's a very good coach and Brian is an England coach, and look at what he also did at Manchester United." Note to Elland Road management: getting in one cheap coach at the expense of two on top-level money might not be the worst financial decision you'll make this year, but short of selling Kewell for a fiver I don't expect to see many worse ones. Reaction I've already received from a variety of Leeds fans ranged from "I guess it was expected" to "I'm absolutely f***ing gutted". Certainly Eddie's reaction makes it sound like it came as a surprise this morning - although he did seem to be savouring his last wave to the crowd on Sunday, so maybe he had an inkling then. At the moment I think I'll hold fire on this one: Reid has said he's going to have a long think about who he wants to bring in - but if it's the same coaching team that made Sunderland relegation certainties by Christmas, then our new manager may find he's dissipated all of the goodwill he's built up in one fell swoop.

May 15: The good Prof made it 100% clear that neither he nor Peter Reid had any intention of selling Mark Viduka - and he slammed Viduka's agent for stirring things up. "If Mark had asked for a transfer I would have told the fans and we'd have been very honest and open about it. But that simply hasn't happened," he said. McKenzie said that they did not intend to report Spurs over what was clearly an illegal contact with the player's agent, but added: "This is just an example of an agent acting in an unsatisfactory manner and to say I'm unhappy with it all would be an understatement. As far as I'm concerned Mark Viduka is not for sale - that is the be all and end all of the situation."

May 15: Dom Matteo was scheduled to go under the knife today to clean out his knee joint (ugh!) and give him a real chance of being fully fit for next season. "I've had the problem for a couple of years now and it does take its toll on you when you're constantly playing with an injury," he said. "I tend to feel the knee towards the end of games because of all the pressure put on it during the match, and then it takes me a lot longer to recover because the pain is often really intense straight after the game." There was a suggestion that he would be going over to see Dr Richard Steadman in the USA - the man who has operated on Michael Bridges and many other top players - but Matteo's op is being performed on this side of the pond. He should be able to get back into light training a week or two before the rest of the team start their preseason work on July 9.

May 14: Sutra - the Leeds club part-owned by Rio Ferdinand - has closed down less than a year after the player was sold to ManU. Some people ascribed its failure to Rio's eagerness to jump ship, the fact is it doesn't have a prime location and was a bit of a pricy drinking hole in a crowded and competitive market. Having said that, nobody wants to line Rio's already bulging pockets - so the player finds himself about one hundred grand (aka two weeks' wages) out of pocket.

May 14: James Milner put England's U17 side a goal to the good after just 20 minutes in today's tournament semi-final clash with Portugal. But with the ref playing stoppage time, England allowed Portugal a late late equaliser and the tie went to penalties. Milner struck again from the spot, but by that time England had already missed their first two attempts and Portugal soon wrapped up the shootout. Aaron Lennon also had another impressive game and will be hoping for a further chance to shine in Saturday's third place play-off.

May 14: Mark Viduka's agent has been in talks with Spurs, it was revealed today. Andrea D'Amico said that he'd met Spurs chairman Daniel Levy to talk about a possible move for the player, and said that he thought Viduka would be available for less than the £6 million Leeds paid for him three years ago. "At the moment it is only interest from Spurs, and there are a lot of clubs in Europe who are interested in Mark," he said. That would be the Mark Viduka with three years on his contract, 20 league goals last season and who said he was happy at Elland Road would it? I only ask because even in today's transfer market, anyone contemplating buying a 20+ goal striker had better have pockets that could stand to lose at least £8 million - if not more besides! Needless to say, Elland Road was quick to deny the likelihood of any such move taking place - and it might be time for Mark to find a less loose-tongued agent for the future. The Prof said: "I am surprised to hear the claims of talks between an agent and Spurs because if this is true it would clearly constitute an illegal approach. Anyway, our position is that Mark Viduka is not for sale."

May 14: The Prof has been having talks in London with Roma officials about finalising the deal to complete the sale of Olly - and he's having none of their delays or proposals to cut the fee or extend the payment terms. He's hopeful of a positive outcome - but it's understood that the Giallorossi have until next Thursday to confirm details of an acceptable offer - somewhat closer to the agreed amount of £4.2 million than they are at present.

May 14: In a nutshell, there aren't any. Yet. Rumours yesterday linked Leeds with a move for Fulham's veteran midfielder Lee Clark, and there's also hints that the Whites will revive their interest in Celtic's out-of-favour midfielder Colin Healy - who is available on a Bosman after failing to agree terms for a new contract at Parkhead. A non-starter in the transfer stakes at the moment is Kevin Phillips who has indicated he wants to leave Sunderland - not just because they have been relegated but also because he feels he's become "stale" at the Stadium of Light. Reid has indicated he's happy with the striking options available to him - although Kewell's departure would leave us with the (hopefully no longer) injury-prone Michael Bridges and the (also hopefully no longer) suspension-prone Alan Smith to partner Mark Viduka. Speaking of Sunderland, it seems that Mick McCarthy might be interested in taking Stephen McPhail off our hands - if he's available free and can fit into Sunderland's wage structure. McCarthy kept faith and had McPhail in his Ireland squad even when the talented but lightweight midfielder wasn't appearing for Leeds, and he might just be the sort of creative influence that could help Sunderland return to the top flight at their first attempt.

May 14: Peter Reid has denied reports that he intends to bring in his old Everton team-mate Adrian Heath to supplant one or more of the current coaching staff. Heath has been seen at several Leeds games and had been seen as ideally suited to replace Brian Kidd and/or Roy Aitken on the coaching side, allowing Reid to concentrate more on the "managerial" side of the role.

May 13: Ian Harte and Stephen McPhail are in Brian Kerr's squad for the Republic's Euro 2004 qualifiers against Albania and Georgia at the start of June, citing the shin splint problem that has left him playing through the pain this season.

May 13: Olivier Dacourt's agent Bruno Satin says that he expects Roma to finalise the purchase of his client - but they might try to reschedule the payments since Leeds are unwilling to accept a reduced fee or a player in part-exchange. Satin said: "The way Leeds are restructuring the club - and with the way they have been selling players - I think as long as they cannot pay the wages then they will be happy."

May 13: Dom Matteo will be going under the knife to sort out his troublesome knee very shortly. He's seeing a consultant tomorrow and will have the op and allow it to recover while on a family break before returning to get in some work ahead of pre-season training on July 9. Matteo was injured when he signed for Leeds and has spent most of the last season either out injured or playing through the pain. Here's hoping the op is a success.

May 12: There was more success for the U17 side as they beat Arsenal's youngsters 1-0 in the semi-finals of the Academy play-offs. Andy Keogh scored the only goal of the game to take Leeds through to the final against Manchester City.

May 12: James Milner saved England's U17 side yet again last night with a second-half equaliser against Spain. John Peacock's side drew 2-2 and so clinched second spot in the group and a semi-final clash against Portugal on Wednesday. The game is live on British Eurosport and you might also get a chance to see Aaron Lennon who has also been in the side.

May 12: Paul Robinson and Danny Mills were called into Sven's 25-man squad for the friendlies against South Africa and Serbia/Montenegro leading up to the crucial Euro 2004 tie with Slovakia. There's no place for Alan Smith in this side - he needs to get back to scoring goals and staying on the pitch for 90 minutes if he wants to earn himself a place in the national squad.

May 12: Olivier Dacourt's agent, Bruno Satin, today indicated that AS Roma were likely to complete the purchase of the French star, but that they would look to renegotiate the payment schedule if Leeds weren't going to move on price or take another player in part-exchange. Satin said: "The way Leeds are restructuring the club and... selling players, as long as they cannot pay the wages then they will be happy."

May 11: The ever-decreasing Sunday night Euro round-up starts in Italy this week, where Juve were crowned champions of Serie A for the 27th time - although a last-minute equaliser for Perugia slightly dampened the celebrations in the Delle Alpi. Internazionale could have drawn out the agony for a further week had they managed to beat UEFA-chasing Parma, but they too let a 1-0 lead slip to a 1-1 draw in the San Siro to leave themselves 8 points adrift of Juve with just two weeks to go. Milan's defeat at Brescia and Lazio's 0-2 win at Bologna has closed the gap between third and fourth place to just a point, while Chievo maintained their outside hopes of a Champions League spot with a 2-4 win at relegated Como.

Real Madrid are really taking their eye of the Liga ball in Spain: after last week's 5-1 hammering by Mallorca, they could only manage a goalless draw at relegation-haunted Recreativo Huelva. Mallorca failed to repeat their trick of last week, going down 1-3 at home to Sociedad, allowing their visitors to leapfrog Madrid into second place in the table. They trail new leaders Deportivo La Coruna - 0-2 winners at Malaga - on goal difference. Valencia's 1-2 defeat in the Mestalla to Villareal has allowed Celta Vigo to knock them out of the final Champions League place - and with 5 games remaining, the title race is down Depor, Sociedad and Madrid. Barca are now up to 7th place and in with a shot at a UEFA Cup slot after their goalless draw with Sevilla in the Nou Camp tonight.

In the Bundesliga the hunt for European places continues. Borussia Dortmund grabbed a lifeline of direct entry to the Champions League when Stuttgart slumped to a 0-1 defeat at home to Werder Bremen, winning 4-1 at home to Nurnberg and moving into second place on goal difference. Bayern went a goal down at Hertha Berlin, but made it clear why they are champions as they came back to hammer their hosts 3-6, Elber grabbing a hat-trick. Energie Cottbus's 3-0 defeat at 1860 Munich condemns them to the drop.

Our old chum Frank Lebouef was in the headlines for the wrong reasons in France: he was one of two Olympique Marseille players dismissed as they blew their title chances with a 3-0 defeat at Sochaux. No change at the top though: Sonny Anderson's goal gave Lyon a 1-0 win over PSG, answering Monaco's 3-1 win over Montpellier and restoring their three point lead with just two games to go.

PSV moved to within one game of the title in style - Mark van Bommel scoring 4 of their 7-0 thrashing of Excelsior. Ajax and Feyenoord both won and trail the leaders by six and seven points respectively, Feyenoord host PSV next week and will be desperate to deny them the title, so it might just delay their coronation until after the home game with Utrecht in two weeks' time.

More Euro-details tomorrow.

May 11: Not that it counts for much, but you can get your votes in for the May Player of the Month poll here: two games, two wins - lots of candidates to choose from!

May 11: Out with a bang rather than a whimper. Leeds set off at a great pace, dominated the early play and deservedly took the lead when Ian Harte smashed home his second goal in two games after Vidooks was tripped. But then we let them back into it: the midfield backed off, Mark Halsey blew his whistle every time a Villa player fell over, and although the equaliser came from the ref's worst decision of the match there's no denying the quality of Gudjonsson's shot nor the fact that Villa deserved to be on level terms at the break. With the midfield battle being lost, replacing Eirik Bakke with Stephen McPhail at half-time didn't seem to be a stroke of tactical genius but Leeds gradually clawed their way back into the game and when Barmby bundled the ball home from Harte's corner and Matteo's flick it looked as if he'd have the distinction of scoring the first and last goals of the season for Leeds (admittedly with sod all in between). Villa kept trying, ably assisted by their twelfth man but Vidooks popped up in injury time to hammer home his 20th league goal of the season and make it 14 goals from the big Aussie since the start of March. Excellent atmosphere at Elland Road - one of the best for a long time. Let's hope we have more of the same in a much more enjoyable and entertaining new season.

May 11: Is this Paul Robinson's last game for Leeds? Although the Prof and Peter Reid are obviously fending off all questions and speculation on the future of all the team at the moment, Robbo is seen as one of the most likely departures during the summer based on his marketability and value. As Peter Ridsdale pointed out back in January, we can only sell players other teams want to buy, and the painful truth is that we don't have too many of that sort of player. Robbo may be personally happy and committed to Leeds, but if Real Madrid or Man U do come calling with the offer of more money and Champions League football then he would be mad to refuse: that sort of prominence would guarantee him the England place he deserves and would only serve to improve him as a player. And if he were to move it wouldn't leave Leeds in the lurch: Nigel Martyn remains an excellent keeper and he would be more than capable of returning to the first team for a season or two, while the highly-rated Scott Carson would have the opportunity to gain a bit more experience in the reserves before stepping up after Nige retires.

May 11: Harry Kewell was missing from the starting line-up today due to a bereavement. Our condolences go out to him and his family. Let's hope that the crescendo of transfer speculation building around his near-certain move to Old Trafford (if you believe some sections of the press) doesn't prove too distracting at such a painful time.

May 11: I hear strong rumours from Elland Road that the pre-season games in the summer could very well feature a visit to Dublin to face Shelbourne or a Select XI. Hopefully more details on this soon.

May 10: The chairman spoke a bit more about Peter Reid's "incentivised" pay deal. "In most businesses incentivisation is not a dirty word. It doesn't mean you get tuppence as a basic salary. It means there are incentives for winning things. I've spent my life being incentivised for one thing or another and I think there's no reason why a manager and players at the club should not operate the same way. If we're doing well and succeeding, everyone should be fantastically paid and the fans would accept that. If we're not doing well then there should be a limit to how much you can pay high salaries and high wages." More common sense from the good Prof - he's done an awful lot of good work in the last month or so to convince all of the doubters that he's more than just a City placeman with a brief of breaking up the club and selling off the players. More of the same please.

May 10: Peter Reid is already thinking about the comings and goings of the summer now that he is confirmed as manager. "I've now got control of football matters which is right. Maybe there will be some players I might have to make decisions on." But he's clear what one of his key criteria will be: "But the basic thing for the club is that I want everyone who's here to want to play for Leeds... I will work with the players and they have got to want to work with me. If that's not the case, they will have to move on." And it's clear that Harry Kewell was one of the key targets of that message: Kewell has been on the point of agreeing a new deal for 4 months now if you believe his agent's press statements, so now it's time for him to sign up or shove off.

May 10: Looks like Peter Reid will name the same starting line-up as the one that beat Arsenal when we face Villa tomorrow. James Milner will not be on the bench because he's still on international duty, but otherwise all of our injuries appear to be patched for this final game. Gareth Barry returns from suspension for Villa, and Graham Taylor is bringing a large squad to Leeds and will look to give some of his youngsters a chance.

May 09: The judge in Wetherby gave extremely short shrift to Eirik Bakke's suggestion that he failed to understand what was being asked of him when he was asked to give a breath sample to the police when under suspicion of drink driving. Bakke has been with Leeds for nearly 4 years now, and claiming a poor command of English cut little ice with the bench. Judge Roy Anderson said: "There is persuasive evidence that his apparent difficulties were, in reality, a ruse to delay and obstruct the proceedings which he eventually acknowledged and which ruse he eventually abandoned." Bakke was fined £5,000 plus a further £1,000 costs and banned from driving for two years. Serves him right: it's one thing being a little unlucky and being caught a couple of percent over the limit - but if you're caught with alcohol levels more than twice the legal limit you shouldn't be driving. It's not as if he couldn't have afforded a taxi home, is it? Let's hope this is the last time a Leeds player has to face a law court for a long time.

May 09: The Prof joined Peter Reid in hoping that Harry Kewell will soon decide that his future lies with Leeds and sign a new contract. The Prof revealed that he'd already started talking informally with Kewell's agent and hoped to move things on soon. "It was a greatly timed meeting, half an hour after West Ham won their game and before we played Arsenal," he said. "It wasn't a sensible time for anyone to shake hands on a contract - but it was a very cordial discussion. We'll be getting together as soon as Harry and his agent are ready - and I think Harry wants it settled pretty soon." Here's hoping...

May 09: To nobody's great surprise, Peter Reid was confirmed as Leeds' new full-time manager at a press conference this afternoon. He's signed up to a one-year rolling deal (thus minimising the costs to Leeds should he be fired, unlike the last two appointments) but has a contract described by the Prof as "one of the most heavily incentivised in the UK football world." Reid welcomed the opportunity to continue the job he started a couple of months ago. "To be manager of a club like this is a great challenge and one I am really looking forward to. This place is itching to get back into the big time and it's my job to do that." He told the press conference that the hard work was just beginning. "There are no easy jobs in football, but this is a club with a great tradition and massive support." As yet nothing has been revealed as to his intentions for his backroom team - but it's highly likely that Brian Kidd's services will be dispensed with, and Reid's former Everton team-mate Adrian Heath is a prime candidate to come on board to replace Kidd.

May 08: Eirik Bakke appeared in court today on three driving-related charges. He was up before Wetherby Magistrates Court in relation to an incident on January 14 when police thought his car might have been stolen, but after turning up at the player's house they saw him returning home with the car. The police noticed his breath smelled of alcohol, arrested him and got him to give a breath sample - which turned out to be more than twice the legal limit. His defence counsel set out various points claiming that he had not understood the caution procedure and his legal rights, and that the custody officer failed to take account of his poor grasp of English when informing him about the breath test procedure. The custody officer said that at one point, Bakke became "obstructive and abusive" and started crying. One of the charges - related to driving without insurance - was dropped with no evidence offered by the prosecution. The case continues.

May 08: Harry Kewell is a doubt for Sunday's game against Villa with a calf injury, but is hopeful of recovering in time. Eirik Bakke is also undergoing treatment on an ankle knock but he too is likely to be ready to start.

May 08: DOL was NOT on the shortlist discussed by the board and Peter Reid is NOT a shoo-in for the job according to reports in this morning's press. The Prof said: "Peter has done a fantastic jobover the last few weeks and is obviously a strong candidate...but there are a lot of people who would be interested in managing Leeds United." Reid, along with the obvious trio of Paul Hart, Micky Adams and Gordon Strachan were the names discussed, but Leeds still harbour hopes of luring Martin O'Neill from Celtic. They're back on top of the SPL and are one game away from a European trophy - so if O'Neill were to leave Parkhead it could certainly be on a high note. But the question will remain about his long-term plans: it looks likely that Alex Ferguson will continue in the hot seat at Old Trafford for at least another season, and that's seen as his real goal.

May 07: James Milner was due to appear for England tonight for the first game of the European U17 Championship in Portugal. Leeds had agreed with the FA that Milner would stay with the club until after Premiership safety was assured, so Sunday's win meant he could join up with teammate Aaron Lennon in the national side. England will face Italy and Spain in pretty short order and will be hoping to progress to the latter stages. Milner's journey proved to be a very worthwhile one: he scored England's winner in the 54th minute as they came from behind to take the game 2-1. Spain top the group after a 2-0 win over Italy, so it looks like Sunday's game will be the crucial one for John Peacock's side.

May 07: William Hill have closed the book on who is to be the next Leeds manager - and although no announcement is due until at least after the board meeting on Thursday, it now seems certain that Peter Reid will be the man selected to take us into next season. He knows it's not going to be easy, and although there remain calls for others to come in from outside, it would be a very harsh call to say "Thanks for keeping us up - goodbye" to the down-to-earth Reid.

May 07: DOL says he wouldn't mind his old job back - but former Leeds star Peter Lorimer reckons that would be a mistake. O'Leary says that he didn't think the fans would have a problem with him returning, and indicated that the changes at the top had opened the door on his return. He said: "I didn't want to leave the place and if I was asked again - if I could sit down with the right people and talk to them - yes, I would take it again without a doubt." In press interviews over the last week he has come across as someone who has learned from his mistakes - although he still has pretty strong opinions about the rights and wrongs of his time at Elland Road. He stands by his record on player trading, but admits that he now shudders at the thought of the book that caused so much friction within Elland Road and bad publicity outside. But Lorimer says that it would not be a good idea for him to return. "There will be a few fans who remember us getting to the Champions League which was a great achievement - but from then on, things went dramatically downhill." Lorimer pointed out: "We didn't make the Champions League, so by his own admittance he failed," and pointed to the way he had criticised his own players in public articles.

May 06: There will be no sentiment in Peter Reid's team selection for Sunday's game - which means no place for David Batty. Reid said: "David is in a catch-22 situation. He's not good and I don't think mentally or physically he's able to play." He went on: "His plan now will be to have a real good pre-season, get some games and then see how he is next season." It will be interesting to see who is between the sticks though - because Paul Robinson took a knock against Arsenal that had Nigel Martyn warming up, and he didn't look fully fit for the rest of the game, so maybe Nige will finally get a look-in this season after all.

May 06: AS Roma are said to still be interested in taking on Olivier Dacourt permanently when his loan spell ends - but they will try to get Leeds to reduce the fee and follow what happened between many of the Serie A clubs last summer and offer players rather than cash to complete the deal. The option on Dacourt is due to expire next week, but Roma will want to know where they stand on European competition for next season before making any decisions: at the moment they are in with a shout of a UEFA place, but might need to get in via the InterToto, and a big-money Champions League spot is out of the question, so they're facing almost as grim a financial time as Leeds.

May 06: The next pre-season friendly has been announced for the summer, and it's over to the exotic delights of Turf Moor for a game against Burnley on Sunday 27 July with a midday kick-off. The only other game announced so far is at Hull's new ground on August 1, although Leeds did promise Kettering a game for this year after pulling out of last summer's scheduled game at short notice.

May 06: There's a board meeting scheduled in London tomorrow at which the few remaining board members (the Prof, Allan Leighton and Microsoft's Neil Holloway) will be sitting down with a few items on the agenda, but none so urgent as determining the identity of the next Leeds manager. Peter Reid's achievement in putting a bit of a backbone into the side won't be overlooked, and despite the competing claims of the supporters of Paul Hart and Micky Adams, Reid wants the job and remains in pole position to get it. Obviously the funding available to the new manager will be discussed - as will any further financial changes needed to ensure that next season doesn't repeat the mistakes of the last couple of years, and with Harry Kewell and other players apparently waiting to hear who will be giving the team talks before committing to any extended deals (or even to staying for next season) then a rapid executive decision will be most welcome.

May 06: The Academy U-17 side face Arsenal this weekend in the semi-finals of the Academy league play-offs. The youngsters pulled off a 2-1 win over Sheffield United on Saturday (hope the senior side were there taking notes on how it's done) despite losing keeper Scott Carson for allegedly punching one of the Blades' players. The highly-rated Carson has been promoted to playing for the Reserves for quite a bit of the season, so the regular youth team keeper Mark Wilberforce will return if Carson fails to get an opportunity to overturn the decision.

May 05: Mark Viduka doesn't know what the future holds for him. Although he said he "definitely" would like to stay at Elland Road next season (note also the ostentatious badge-kissing at the end of the game yesterday), he remains uncertain as to whether he'll actually start next season in white. "We'll have to wait and see. What does that depend upon? I suppose a lot of thing - you never know what happens in football." Though he dropped a pretty heavy hint that further significant sales in the summer might make his mind up: "To compete against the likes of Arsenal, you need to have good players." Unfortunately, his performances towards the back end of this season have been exactly the sort of thing that gets clubs - and agents - sniffing around trying to unsettle a player, particularly when there's a hint of financial problems at a club. Well we've still got a whole bunch of financial problems, but maybe when we start getting the rest of the money for the likes of Keane, Fowler and Ferdinand, and with a couple more minor players released the club will be on enough of an even keel to hang on to the current side for next season and push once again for a place in the UEFA Cup.

May 05: Now that the dust has settled and we're safe in the top flight for another season, Peter Reid has come out and made it clear that he does want the job full-time. But he's added a strong caveat that the club cannot continue to sell its best players to ease a short-term cashflow problem. Reid said: "I was quite happy to take on the job on that [short-term] basis. We need to sit down in the summer but I have certainly enjoyed it. It's just great that we have got the points that have kept us in the league." Mark Viduka backed Reid for the job after being impressed with what he has seen so far. Vidooks said: "Peter Reid has done wonders with the team in the short space of time that he has had. I have definitely enjoyed my football more since he arrived and I would love him to get the job permanently, but unfortunately I am not the one who gives out jobs." And Viduka knows that next year we cannot afford to have a repeat of this season's dire league form: "It should never have got to this stage of the season with us still not sure of survival. We must all ensure that this does not happen again."

May 05: Peter Reid was somewhat happier with the outcome of this visit to Highbury compared to his previous one. "Last time I was down here I got the sack! That's football - and it's terrific to come here and be involved in such a smashing match." He added: "In the end I'm really pleased about the victory because it means a lot to the club. The three points guarantee us Premier League football which was the objective, and to get it here against a quality side is even more pleasing." And he went on: "In the end it's just great to have got the points that have kept us in the league." And so say all of us!

May 04: Euro round-up time sees teams desperately trying not to win the title all over Europe: only Arsenal actually succeeded in this over the weekend.

First up Serie A yesterday saw Juve have the chance to take the title by beating Lazio in Rome after Inter conceded an equaliser at Atalanta with 15 minutes to go. But Lazio are made of sterner stuff - and have their eyes firmly set on the fourth Champions League place and held on for a goalless draw that denied Juve until next week's home game against Perugia at least. A penalty from Inzaghi and a second-half goal from Nesta brought Milan the three points and emphasised why Como are going down. Chievo are keeping up the chase on Lazio and look certain for another season of UEFA Cup football.

High-scoring thrillers involving the top two teams in La Liga this weekend, and the huge surprise came yesterday in the Bernabeu. After nearly 50 games - two and a half years - unbeaten in the league at home, Real Madrid took a 1-0 lead through Ronaldo into the interval against Real Mallorca. But the sort of holes that Man U exposed in their defence reappeared in the second half as Walter Pandiani hammered home an equaliser just two minutes after the break, and it went downhill from there for Madrid. Roberto Carlos's own goal made it 1-4 and when Mallorca brought on a Carlos of their own in injury time, he made it 1-5 with more or less his first touch of the match. Not great preparation for this week's Champions League semi-final! Real Sociedad struggled to a 0-1 win in Sevilla to close the gap at the top to just a point, and they were replaced in second place tonight when Depor hammered five past Recreativo Huelva - Roy Makaay inevitably leading the rout with a hat-trick. Valencia's 2-1 defeat at Racing Santander leaves them in serious danger of missing out on the final Champions League place.

Bayer Leverkusen's 3-1 win over Arminia Bielefeld pulls them to the edge of safety - if they can get a few more points from the last three games they might still climb clear of the drop zone and remain in the top flight.

PSG came from behind to beat Monaco with a Ronaldinho penalty in the second half and damage the visitors title hopes. Lyon's 0-4 win at Strasbourg sees them two points clear of Marseille - 2-1 winners at home to Bastia - and a further point ahead of Monaco with three games to go.

PSV decided that they'd try to leave the Dutch title race running for a week or so longer by going 0-2 down at home to AZ. The visitors had two players dismissed as PSV came back with two goals from Arnold Bruggink. Ajax had a 6-1 win over fourth-placed RKS Waalwijk (fourth in this case means 24 points behind third) to maintain their position in second place, while Feyenoord managed a 1-2 win at Utrecht despite playing over an hour with 10 men.

In Belgium Club Brugge could have sewn up the title - barring a ridiculous GD swing - but dropped two points in a 1-1 draw with St Truidense, allowing Anderlecht to keep the race alive for another week with their 4-0 win over Germinal.

In yet another it's-not-over-yet tale, Sparta Prague went down 2-0 to Viktoria Zizkov: Slavia play tomorrow and could close the gap to 4 points if they beat Banik Ostrava. Slovan Liberec fell back from Zizkov with a 1-1 draw against Blsany.

May 04: Phew! On a hot and sunny afternoon, one bunch of fans got behind their team while the other lot sat quietly on their hands. And at the end of the game, it was the ones who made the most noise who were happiest. What an up-and-down game! After Robbo was forced into an early save, a long punt set Harry free to ram home the first, and he should have made it two barely 5 minutes later. A bit of shoddy non-marking and a short-of-perfect reaction from Robbo and it was all square again. A deflected Harte free-kick from a nothing foul got us back ahead early in the second half but more slipshod marking let them back in. But the Leeds players showed excellent fighting spirit - spurred on by yet more thuggery from Bergkamp and one of the most home-blind refereeing displays I've seen all year. A little bit of luck with the offside flag let Vidooks in as the game died - but by then half of what we had taken to be another mural had got up from their seats and headed for the exits in the knowledge that the title had gone. Bigtime celebrations all round from the excellent travelling support, including the 40-odd Jimmy Savilles who joined the rest of us in a mass pogo around the Clock End when the final whistle blew.

May 04: Ahead of the game, DOL wrote off Arsenal's title chances for this season. "Leeds are getting them at the right time because I think the psychological blow of being eight points behind will hit Arsenal hard. I'd rather Leeds had the points now for the sake of their survival." It sounds like he's setting his stall out for a return to management in the summer, and although he's not specifically ruled it out it's unlikely he'll be back at Leeds - despite the departure of Peter Ridsdale. Although his claim for unfair dismissal has now been settled, he had a last dig at the former chairman: "He said to me, 'Dave, you've established us as a top four club now' and, although he didn't exactly say it, the implication was that they needed someone else to take them to the next level. Well, see where they've gone now."

May 04: Dom Matteo has been on the sidelines far more often than he'd have liked this season, and it's clear he's seen the same games that the rest of us have: "We can be brilliant one day and sloppy the next. We keep thinking we've turned the corner, then go out and get a bad result. I'm gutted about it and I think the others are. We've not had any real consistency throughout the campaign, especially at home, where we've let ourselves down." He thinks the players let El Tel down and failed to perform - but it's a bit telling that he picks out one specific change under Reid: "The new gaffer's maybe given us a little bit more edge. We were for a while playing a bit more individually but he's got us back playing more as a unit, given us a bit more bite and told us to get back to the work ethic." And although it's not intended to, I think that firmly lays to rest any claims TV might have thought about making for the title of Greatest Living English Coach: if you can't turn individuals into a team and raise their commitment and workrates then Premier League Manager is not a job you should be applying for.

May 04: "We can't try to win tomorrow - that would give Man U the title" say some completely wrong-headed folks. While I'd be more than happy to see the Premier League title race last until the final day of the season, any Leeds fan with half a brain cell - and any that can remember 20 years back - will tell you that anything is better than relegation.

May 03: Robert Molenaar will play his final game for Bradford tomorrow after being told that his contract will not be renewed in the summer. Big Bob has been a key part of their defence over the last two and a half seasons and might like to consider coming back to Elland Road if the unthinkable happens next Sunday!

May 03: Former Leeds youngster Nathan Lowndes came off the bench and scored the only goal of the game almost with his first touch to give Plymouth a win over Wycombe this afternoon.

May 03: Peter Reid is hoping for a strong performance from ref Alan Wiley at Highbury tomorrow - particularly in light of the events of Leeds' last visit there and Reid's other experiences at the ground. Danny Mills and Lee Bowyer were both dismissed at the start of last season courtesy of their volatile temperaments and Ashley Cole's thespian skills, and Reid added: "I've been sent off once in my career as a manager and it was at Highbury where I had also had two players sent off, which I didn't think were excellent decisions by the referee." He went on: "I have to say sometimes you need strong referees because nowadays I don't think it is very difficult to outlaw tackling. But I think when teams are fighting for their lives, they have every right to try and go win the ball." Reid said that Leeds would show Thierry Henry some respect - but the players must not be afraid of him. "You respect his ability and we've got to defend properly against him, but fear doesn't come into it."

May 03: Come on you Blues! That's what we were saying earlier this afternoon but it did no good. Paolo Di Canio came on as a second-half sub and inevitably scored the only goal of the game to give West Ham some hope of avoiding the drop - and ensuring that we'll have a few palpitations before the season ends. Of course we could always win tomorrow and be able to sit back and relax next weekend...

May 02: Team news for Sunday sees the return of Lucas Radebe to play alongside Doobs at CB, with Dom Matteo moving up into midfield and Harry Kewell paired with Vidooks up front. Alan Smith misses the last two games with suspension, and Eirik Bakke and Gary Kelly are carrying injuries but should be fit enough to play in this crucial game. For Arsenal, Sol Campbell's gentle waft of the arm that disturbed one wisp of Solskjaer's chin-fluff has cost him a ban starting Sunday, and Patrick Vieira also looks like he won't be back from injury in time. 5 minutes of the Bolton game accounted for Ljungberg, Cygan and Lauren and all are likely to be missing, as is Gilberto Silva - knackered after being dragged halfway round the world for a friendly by Brazil in midweek.

May 02: Peter Reid says that all this talk about the board selecting the long-term Leeds manager doesn't bother him. Reid said: "If the club are doing that then they've every right to do it. I've come in to do the eight games, and I've two to do, and nothing has changed on that one." And Reid made it clear he'd still like the job himself: "I know I'd certainly rather be manager here than at some other clubs. It's a great club to manage." Reid made it clear he expects a big effort from his charges on Sunday: "You talk about pressure and having bottle, this is one of the matches in football that highlights it. This is a game to be relished... From my managing and playing days, it's one of those places you want to go. If you don't want to play in it, then you shouldn't be at a club like this." Reid said that he'd told the players what he wanted them to do - and where he saw their failings after the Blackburn game. He went on: "To be fair the players gave their input as well, but defensively we have to be up for it because we haven't concentrated in that area often enough while I've been at the club in the games we've had... You can try to legislate for individual mistakes, but some goals we've given away have been poor. We have to cut it out because we've proven we can keep clean sheets."

May 02: The "Leeds are talking to a couple of managers" rumour turned into the absolute certainty that Leeds were having secret talks with former player Micky Adams, who has done a great job under difficult circumstances by leading Leicester to promotion this year. But Adams denied having any contact with Leeds, and the good Prof reinforced that position. The chairman said: "I have never met Mr Adams, nor do I have any arrangements or plans to meet with him. These rumours are not particularly helpful to anyone when we are all working together to staying in the Premiership. They are particularly unhelpful to Peter Reid, who has our full support. It unsettles him and it unsettles the players." So that's clear then. Paul Hart and Gordon Strachan are the inevitable other suspects, although there are also suggestions that Leeds would rekindle an interest in Steve McLaren if he indicated he would be prepared to leave the Riverside.

May 02: The reserves finished off their campaign with a win at Everton last night. Harpal Singh and Shane Cansdell-Sherriff got the goals for Leeds as they came back from a goal down to take the game 1-2. Simon Johnson had a penalty saved in the first half and Henry McStay was sent off for a professional foul in the second half when he brought down an Everton player who was clean through on goal.

May 01: Lucas Radebe says that the poor performances that the team has produced this season have given rise to conflict in the dressing room - but that conflict had made the team's bond stronger. The Chief said: "You all want to do well, but things aren't going well and you end up having a row. That brings you all together as a group again and that's the crucial point. You then stick together and form a strong chain bent on getting success." Unfortunately, we've only twice seen that chain hold for a full 90 minutes since Peter Reid took over - but Radebe thinks the team can pull through: "We have quality players here, though, and it's still in our hands to make sure we survive."

May 01: Management rumour of the day says that Leeds are talking to two different - and currently employed - managers with a view to persuading them to come to Leeds. Leaking this sort of information at such a crucial time is hardly going to do much for Peter Reid who has expressed an interest in doing the job long-term even though he's not managed to work a blinding miracle by turning round a losing team inside a month. I'm sure the League Managers Association - and the FA itself - will have things to say about Leeds making covert approaches to other clubs' managers. But everybody else is doing it, and it was the absence of a definite candidate to replace O'Leary that had us rushing headlong towards ElTel last summer, so if we can confirm the interest of a preferred candidate before making a move then so much the better.

May 01: Peter Reid is still optimistic that the team will bounce back from the reverse against Blackburn to turn in a good performance at Highbury. Michael Duberry's handball was a particular low point of the last game, but Reid said: "Dubes will react positively. Whatever we say about the Blackburn game is history now and we look towards the next game and Dubes needs to perform." Reid also had praise for Ian Harte's recent improvement in form, but insisted that the defence as a whole would have to perform much better if we wanted a result at Arsenal. "I've said since day one that we will always score goals. The trouble is it's too many for us to win a match at the moment."

May 01: The long-running saga of Harry Kewell's new contract will take a step further forward next week when Bernie Mandic - Kewell's agent - meets with the Prof to discuss serious terms. It seems that all of those "we're having serious talks and he's about to sign" press statements that came out before aren't exactly true: there have been no properly detailed discussions to date. Kewell has always said he's happy to stay at Leeds (though what he'd say if we were relegated is another matter) but rumours of a move to Old Trafford or Anfield persist - and as with Paul Robinson's rumoured and denied move to Old Trafford - such a move wouldn't necessarily mean much home-front disruption for the player and his family. So let's see what comes of next week: how much can we afford to offer Kewell to tempt him to stay, or at least sign an extended contract now so that we can get a decent wodge of cash rather than lose him on the cheap as we try to avoid losing him on a Bosman.

May 01: Teddy Lucic is set to return to AIK Solna after the Villa game after Leeds failed to take up their option to purchase him by April 30. In the circumstances it's hard to see how we could fork out for any new players at the moment, so Lucic will have a short break before getting back into the swing of the Swedish League in July.

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