The Times, Sunday Times and Telegraph now seem to require registration to view articles on their sites, with the Times and Sunday Times charging readers outside the UK. The Times/Sunday Times has also moved some of the older articles into an archive which requires separate registration and requires you to pay to access the content. The Independent now charges for access to articles more than a week old.
Twelve noon on a Sunday is no time to be playing a football match (especially against a second rate Premiership team); anyone can tell you that and if you didn't believe it before, the somnolent crowd would have rammed it down your throat (if they weren't so busy being bleary eyed and wishing they were still in bed...)
The players seemed to think so as well in the first half, as were treated to a "nice" game of football - none of the needle of recent seasons - just good football the Glenn Hoddle way. Leeds won the first half at a canter, with Bowyer at his perpetual motion best; anywhere and everywhere, and for the first time for a while, on the end of a number of moves with attempts on goal. The best of which found Ollie winning the ball and squirming a pass through for Bowyer's perfectly timed run to beat the offside trap. Bowyer one on one obviously missed.
Keane ran his bollocks of as usual and the other most memorable chance of the first half came when a ball down the wing saw him wriggle one way, then the other, then other and then... well you get the idea, 'til he crossed for Kewell to try a spectacular volley, which was hit too far into the ground.
Suddenly Seth was stripped and ready, Bowyer for some reason was limping, hadn't seen him in a nasty tackle, but we were sure he was going to come off for Seth (oo-er).
Now, I hate (OK, love) to say I told you so, but Mark Bursa and I were extolling Seth's virtues after the Derby game, and after this showing we were right! He just slotted straight in, looked unphased by it all, passed the ball neatly and was Battyesque in the challenge. He looks a hard bastard and he is!
Nil nil at half time, but surely a goal would come in the second half. It did. But surprisingly it was Spurs who came out in the second half much the better team and Poyet (as bloody usual) got the goal. A skip past Seth (who might have got a foot in) and curled a beauty past Nige's despairing dive into the right hand corner of the net. Shit, weird feeling, couldn't think why 'til it dawned on me it was the first goal conceded in the league at home this season.
This finally woke up Leeds and started an onslaught of chances. Some people thought it was one all after Ollie clipped the ball over the defence for Pieman to volley a neat finish home, but the soon to be absent Australian was offside. Keane was sent through, perfectly beating the offside track; suddenly one on one with the keeper he obviously missed. (Anyone else notice a pattern here?)
The equaliser came courtesy of Harte - bloody good job too 'cos his defending had been mighty poor up 'til then. A non trademark open play right foot shot (although that's at least the third right foot goal he's scored that I can think of) that Sullivan should have saved easily but could only parry into the net. The chances continued, Bakke having a fierce shot tipped over for no corner (sic).
On came Smith for a seriously unamused Keane, don't worry Robbie, there's a few weeks where you surely *can't* get subbed coming up. Smith looked great, added some real bite, caused them problems.
Finally the winner, a throw in headed back towards Sullivan who came out for it, but he seemed to hesitate and Kewell nipped in to steal the ball away and into the empty net. Two comical mistakes from Sullivan. Taggart will surely be signing him up shortly.
A fully deserved win leaves me with one question. What's the fuss over Ledley King? He looked distinctly average...
Martyn 7 - Quite a quiet game really. Had no chance with Poyet's thunderbolt from 3km out. Why Hoddle thought Spurs were the better team when Martyn was a virtual spectator compared to the overworked Scottish No.1 Sullivan, defeats me.
Mills 7.5 - You know what you get with Danny these days. He's hard, he's fast, he's bald. Not much class but he's as solid a fullback as you can expect to get at this level. A vast improvement on last season. Didn't give Ziege any real chance to get forward and made some good advances himself.
Harte 7 - As bad as a defender as he is - he doesn't half pop up with vital goals. I was interested in reading today that one year Sir Alex - as a psychological game - told his squad that he had the names of 6 players in an envelope of whom he was worried about. He said he would open it at the end of the season. Man U won the double. If O'Leary had an envelope then Harte's name would be in it (six times). Today he scored a great goal and we rightly forgot his couple of defensive lapses.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 05/11/2001.
With every point dropped by Manchester United and every game drawn between two of the supposed big five, the conviction grows that this will be the closest title race for years. Following fast on the news from Anfield yesterday came further evidence here, where Leeds United returned to top spot with their first victory in five weeks.
October had been a drawn month for Leeds, though given that they met Liverpool and United away and Chelsea at home it was no mean feat. But only Aston Villa exploited Leeds's point-to-point sequence to take the league leadership, and that was for only a week before Leeds resumed the lead here with another performance that lacked the verve of last season.
Yet David O'Leary's insistent team retain the only unbeaten record in the league and the manager was chuffed that Harry Kewell's 82nd-minute winner emerged from nowhere to overcome a defensively disciplined, occasionally fluent and increasingly impressive Tottenham Hotspur.
Copy from The Independent of 04/11/2001.
Harry Kewell undertakes the long haul to Melbourne tomorrow after scoring a goal that restored Leeds United to the Premiership summit yet which did nothing for confounding sterotypical notions about Scottish goalkeepers, even if Tottenham's Neil Sullivan does hail from a Surrey clan.
Leeds, who remain the only unbeaten club in the English game, were eight minutes from a fourth consecutive draw yesterday when they won a throw-in level with Spurs' area. Even when the Leeds-born Dean Richards mis-headed Danny Mills' throw, Sullivan had what looked a routine collection. But he and Chris Perry left the ball to each other, allowing Kewell to steal in between them and flick the ball into an unguarded net. Leeds, who had swiftly nullified Gustavo Poyet's fine opener with a goal which Ian Harte will claim but was arguably an own goal by Sullivan, thus clinched their first League victory in five weeks and restricted Liverpool's tenure on top to half an hour.
Neither Kewell nor Mark Viduka is available for Leeds' next two fixtures, at Sunderland on 18 November and home to Aston Villa a week later, or for the Uefa Cup trip to Grasshopper Zurich in between. They fly out this week for Australia's controversial friendly with France and the ensuing World Cup play-offs.
David O'Leary, the Leeds manager, views the period as crucial. "If we can still be there or thereabouts by the end of November, when we get all our players back, we'll be in with a chance," he said. "We've played well in the big games when we've a full squad available; we beat Arsenal away and could have won at Manchester United and Liverpool." Notwithstanding events at Anfield, O'Leary still sees Manchester United as "the team to beat", saying: "Arsenal and Liverpool won't be far away but United will be thereabouts because they have a great manager and great players."
Leeds deserved the points, having shown a cohesion lacking in their Uefa Cup scrape in France. Several times this season they have won while below their best. Until Sullivan took a hand, or rather did not, it seemed one of their best displays might be rewarded by a first defeat.
Spurs moved the ball around at times with a confidence born of three successive wins. They spurned a gilt-edged chance midway through the first half when Darren Anderton's cross passed through Les Ferdinand's legs, much as a stoppage-time chance would elude the otherwise excellent Richards.
But Leeds, with Olivier Dacourt as inspirational as he was ineffectual at Troyes, dominated the first half. Lee Bowyer was culpable in front of goal before limping off with a hamstring strain, enabling Seth Johnson to make a spikily impressive debut following his £7m switch from Derby.
The newcomer was at fault, however, when Spurs went ahead. First he relinquished possession in midfield; then, after tracking back as Teddy Sheringham and Christian Ziege worked the ball into a central position, he was too easily rounded by Poyet. The Uruguayan's rising shot from 20 yards was the first Premiership goal Leeds have conceded at Elland Road this season. The lead lasted only nine minutes. Viduka's deep cross was laid back by Kewell to Harte, whose right-footed drive from 18 yards was pushed on to the post by Sullivan only for the rebounding ball to strike him on the back and cross the line.
Kewell's opportunism left O'Leary admitting he was still waiting for the match-winner "to explode". Glenn Hoddle, who felt Spurs were unlucky to lose and had made better progress than he expected this early in his reign, was asked whether Sullivan had held his hands up in the dressing-room. "Not high enough," came the Spurs manager's sardonic riposte.
Goals: Poyet (52) 0-1; Harte (61) 1-1; Kewell (82) 2-1.
Leeds United (4-4-2): Martyn 6; Mills 6, R Ferdinand 8, Matteo 7, Harte 6; Bowyer 6 (Johnson 5, 38), Bakke 5, Dacourt 8 (Batty, 81), Kewell 5; Keane 6 (Smith 5, 73), Viduka 5. Substitutes not used: Duberry, Robinson (gk).
Tottenham Hotspur (3-5-2): Sullivan 4; Perry 6, Richards 7, King 5; Taricco 6, Poyet 7 (Davies, 87), Freund 4 (Rebrov, 87), Anderton 6, Ziege 6; Sheringham 6, L Ferdinand 4. Substitutes not used: Bunjevcevic, Thatcher, Keller (gk).
Referee: S Bennett (Orpington) 6.
Bookings: Leeds: Johnson; Tottenham: Poyet, Sheringham, Ziege.
Man of the match: Dacourt.
Copy from Yorkshire Evening Post of 04/11/2001.
A WEARY David O'Leary will today pack his bags ready for a well- deserved holiday safe in the knowledge that Leeds are back on top of the Premiership.
This 2-1 victory over rejuvenated Spurs was the perfect send off in many ways for the Leeds camp as players disperse all around the world on various international duties.
And the manager himself will use this break to re-charge his batteries - and earn some brownie points with wife Joy as they celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary.
It will certainly help him to relax knowing that his Leeds side are once again top dogs in England.
However, his plans for a happy holiday were so nearly wrecked yesterday by a Tottenham side who became the first Premiership outfit to score at Elland Road this season.
Gus Poyet's stunner on 52 minutes shocked the home crowd and for a 10- minute period it seemed as though Leeds' unbeaten record was under threat.
But, as we have already seen so many times this season, Leeds found that little bit extra just when it was required and they dug deep to pull another crucial three points out of the bag - even if there was a touch of good fortune about it.
Ian Harte's shot just after the hour was spilled by Spurs keeper Neil Sullivan, it struck the post and rebounded back off the Scotsman's head before dropping into the net.
And then Harry Kewell completed the nightmare for Sullivan by nipping in to poke the ball home when the keeper and defender Chris Perry dithered over a loose ball.
It was the perfect leaving gift from Kewell who departs today with fellow countryman Mark Viduka to play for the Socceroos in a friendly with France and in a two-legged World Cup qualifier.
Indeed, it was smiles all round.
"The best team won," said O'Leary. "We dominated the game and I was very disappointed at half time that we weren't a couple of goals up.
"We just didn't take our chances. Then with their first chance they scored a very good goal, even though I thought it was a soft goal on our part in letting the strike come in.
"But it inspired us and full credit to the players because I thought we looked stronger than they did, yet we had played in Europe and they'd had a fresh week.
"The players were feeling tired. They'd had a tough match in France and didn't get back until the early hours of Friday morning and that makes you vulnerable.
"But I was delighted with the performance of the players in those circumstances. It was a really good three points against a team which had been on a good run."
O'Leary admitted that United's storming start to the season had taken its toll on him and after four months of solid work he needed a bit of a break.
"I'm going to strengthen myself and have a break," he said. "I've not had a day off for three to four months, so I'm going to let the wife see me for six or seven days.
"We will have been married 20 years next week and for putting up with me I think we deserve a week.
"I don't think she can believe she's going to be spending all that time with me, but there's no point being at the club because there's only going to be about three players there.''
When O'Leary comes back he will get stuck into the task of keeping United's quest for the Champions League on track.
He has already predicted that November is going to be the toughest period for his young side and maybe the rest is just as well before the real hard work starts.
"I know if we can keep the squad together then we've a chance for the Champions League," said the United boss. "We've gone to places like Arsenal and Manchester United and we've had all our top players available and at those places that is important.
"We've played well against the top teams, so in the big games we've raised our game and the standards and against Spurs I thought we looked fit and were the stronger side.
"I hope we don't start peaking until we get fitter and stronger, but we're building up momentum and gathering points in the bag.
"I think Manchester United are still the team to beat, while Arsenal are a good side who won't be far away either - and the same goes for Liverpool.''
O'Leary had sprung a few surprises in his team selection for the Spurs match with captain Rio Ferdinand and Harry Kewell fit enough to take their places in the starting line-up.
New signing Seth Johnson again had to be content with a place on the bench, but he was to get his chance after only 39 minutes when Lee Bowyer hobbled out of the action with a leg injury.
After a shaky start, Johnson settled well and looks a decent buy for the Leeds squad.
The first half had been an entertaining affair with both sides attempting to play decent football, but with Leeds looking the more dangerous.
Bowyer had seen a couple of decent chances saved by Sullivan while Kewell and Eirik Bakke had also gone close before the break.
But it was Uruguayan Poyet who broke the deadlock, picking up a ball from Sheringham before turning Johnson on the edge of the box and blasting a shot past Nigel Martyn.
It takes something special to beat Nigel Martyn these days and this goal certainly met that category.
United had been slow out of the traps for the second half and the goal gave them the wake-up call they required.
Harte's strike levelled matters, Danny Mills shot straight at Sullivan and Keane should have done better when he was put through by Olivier Dacourt but his weak effort was again saved by the Scottish stopper.
There was only ever going to be one winner and as Kewell poached in between the dithering Perry and Sullivan it confirmed Leeds as Premiership leaders and meant everyone could pack up their bags and join their respective teams with a smile on their faces.