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.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 15/04/2002.
If Graham Taylor wants to take his team to the Champions League he now knows how much they must improve. Here they played a side who have been there recently but will miss out next season, a side shorn through injury of all their central defenders; and still Villa lost. But perhaps Taylor should be worrying more about his side heading downwards than up.
There is something of the Leicester City about Villa. Having been a fixture towards the top of the Premiership for the last few years, albeit longer than the Foxes ever managed, they are suddenly leaking and creaking. On Saturday they can measure their descent against the originals when they visit Filbert Street.
Taylor talks of "the bigger picture, and is already planning for next season. So far this planning has largely consisted of releasing Peter Schmeichel, who on Saturday agreed to join Manchester City for next season, and resigning himself to the departure of Juan Pablo Angel. The other bit is winning only once in 10 games.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 14/04/2002.
At the end of another troubled week for the club, Leeds United stayed in pursuit of the fourth Champions League place courtesy of Mark Viduka's sixteenth goal of the season. Much the better side in the first half, they came under sustained pressure in the final 20 minutes when Aston Villa finally responded to the promptings of the Holte End - and their three substitutes.
Graham Taylor has only a single win in 10 matches since succeeding John Gregory. Taylor has already indicated that the wind of change will blow through Villa Park this summer. Little he saw yesterday will alter his thinking.
With a knee injury forcing Rio Ferdinand to miss his fifth successive match and Jonathan Woodgate's broken jaw keeping him out for the rest of the season, Danny Mills, as expected, partnered Dominic Matteo in a makeshift central defensive partnership for Leeds. Less expected was a rare start for Robbie Keane, with Robbie Fowler on the bench.
Copy from Yorkshire Evening Post of 15/04/2002.
LEEDS UNITED were forced to dig deep into their resolve to keep their European hopes alive at Villa Park.
The single-goal success was far from pretty, but it proved enough to guarantee a minimum of sixth spot in the Premiership and, following yesterday's FA Cup semi-final results, a place in next season's UEFA Cup.
Some will view it as qualifying for Europe through the back door, but United had to grit their teeth to secure the points at Villa and sixth place is no less than they deserve.
Champions League football is also still a distant prospect and United's success keeps alive outside hopes of beating Newcastle and Chelsea into that all-important fourth spot.
On final reflection there will be disappointment that United aren't safely in the Champions League already the club has invested near on £100m over the past couple of years and a place in the UEFA Cup could be viewed as scant reward.
But David O'Leary's side still have three games to go and while they are now relying on other teams to do them favours, if they show the same steel for the remainder of the season there is an outside chance Leeds could scrape their way to fourth place.
For sure they will play far better than they did at Villa, but at this stage of the season it's results that count and not performances.
Leeds started off lively, but finished the contest well and truly on the back foot and were hanging on throughout the final minutes to claim what has proved to be a valuable victory.
United knew they had to win this game, irrespective of how they played, and O'Leary's side were more than up for the fight against a team who are still harbouring hopes of qualifying for the Intertoto Cup.
In truth, Villa looked poor and Leeds could have had the game sewn up long before Mark Viduka's superb winner on 29 minutes.
But Graham Taylor's men adopted a never-say-die attitude after the break and made United sweat for the points.
The hosts dominated the final hour of the clash after Leeds had scored and will consider themselves unlucky not to come claim at least a point. But, while Leeds threw men behind the ball and looked content to battle for a result, Villa lacked any real inspiration and their only troublesome efforts came from outside the box.
The loping Juan Pablo Angel hit a couple of lazy efforts at Nigel Martyn in the first half before being substituted and Peter Crouch, who was well shackled by makeshift centre back Danny Mills, forced Martyn into a great save late in the game.
But Villa weren't threatening enough and Leeds had plenty left in the tank as the hosts mounted their final onslaught. A lot of that was down to United's rearguard which was superbly marshalled by Mills and Dominic Matteo.
Mills only took over at centre back as a late replacement for broken jaw victim Jonathan Woodgate yet, apart from a couple of rash clearances which put Leeds under pressure, the England man looked assured.
The only disappointment was that Mills collected his 10th Premiership booking of the season it was inevitable in a clash which detoriated into a series of personal battles and could now face another FA rap.
Martyn also played a huge part in United's gritty success, pulling off two superb saves to deny the impressive Thomas Hitzlsperger by showing lightning reactions.
The Leeds midfield also worked tirelessly throughout with Alan Smith again a revelation as he charged up and down the right flank with real zest.
While Smith was working hard at both ends of the field, the trio of Lee Bowyer, David Batty and Eirik Bakke all dug in well and were more than prepared to mix it in what became a war of attrition.
Up front, O'Leary sprang a surprise by leaving out Robbie Fowler, but Robbie Keane snapped up his chance and was a constant threat.
Keane should have put Leeds ahead as early as the sixth minute when he latched on to Smith's incisive pass, but the assistant referee ruled out his cool finish with an offside flag. However, that chance set the tone for much of the first half.
Viduka missed a golden opportunity to score when he poked the ball wide after a Hitzlsperger error, but the Aussie made amends four minutes later.
He showed sublime skill to turn defender Mark Delaney and made no mistake by nudging the ball home with the outside of his right foot. Batty and Keane both had a hand in the build-up, after an error by Olof Mellberg, but it was a tremendous piece of skill and was worthy of being the match-winner.
After the goal United should have gone on to win at a canter, but Villa slowly began to take control.
The scrappy contest, which was littered with needless offsides, never really came to life until midway through the second half when Villa threw everybody forward.
Even then United held firm and with a good slice of luck Steve Stone missed a sitter when he failed to control to ball they were able to hang on claim three vital points.
The final whistle was greeted by a mixture of joy and relief by the travelling fans who are now safe in the knowledge that there will no unwanted trip to Estonia in the Intertoto Cup in July.