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Copy from Football Unlimited of 13/05/2002.
Lee Bowyer fears he may become the highest-profile victim of the expected end-of-season sale at Leeds United.
The controversial 25-year-old midfielder is in talks over a new contract to replace the deal which expires next summer. However, he knows that Leeds will have no compunction over allowing him to leave.
Harry Kewell, rated at £18m by Internazionale, Ian Harte, Michael Duberry, Jason Wilcox and Robbie Keane have also attracted admiring glances from other clubs.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 12/05/2002.
ALAN SMITH ENDED the season with a flourish by firing Leeds into fifth place above Chelsea in the Premiership courtesy of his fifth goal of the campaign. Smith, who also scored in the season-opener here, netted the only goal in the 63rd minute to hand Middlesbrough a fourth successive league defeat.
For Steve McClaren's side, who also started the season with a run of four losses, it was a desperately disappointing finish.
A fifth successive season in Europe beckons for Leeds , a record not matched since the days of Don Revie, but that is not good enough for United's paymasters who had been demanding Champions League football.
Copy from Yorkshire Evening Post of 13/05/2002.
THE relief was evident on all the faces inside Elland Road.
After one of the most troubled seasons in the history of Leeds United Football Club, it was a pleasure to finally draw a line under the last 10 months and look to the future.
Alan Smith's goal had ensured that the campaign would finish on a high, but those fans who stayed behind to cheer their heroes on a lap of honour will no doubt expect so much more from the next campaign.
One time possible title challengers, nobody ever imagined they would miss out on the Champions League and have to make do with the UEFA Cup. Football has a funny way, however, of bringing people down to earth with a bump.
Whether feeling bitter to have missed out on the big-time, or sweet to have at least reached European football for the fifth year running nobody can deny that season 2001-2002 has largely been one to forget.
Those who expected overnight glory will now be demanding silverware next season, those more realistic among the Leeds fan base will understand that every side aiming for greatness will, inevitably, have a down season.
This was most definitely United's.
For one reason or another David O'Leary's boys never got going. The free-flowing attacking football of the last few years never materialised and, despite an early run of fine results, the quality was never up to their usually high standard.
It's hard to imagine the same supporters who enjoyed Saturday's finale, providing a similar send-off next season if the campaign follows a similar path. Leeds fans will only ignore their disappointment for so long they will expect results next year and manager David O'Leary knows it.
In a way he could be forgiven for the way things have panned out this time around. The trial of Lee Bowyer and Jon Woodgate, the resultant unwanted publicity and the constant disciplinary problems on the pitch made it a hard life for anyone connected with Leeds.
It is hoped, by everyone I am sure, that there will be no such problems come the start of August. O'Leary could certainly do with a season where all he has to think about is football, and not what is going to appear on newspaper front pages.
He was just glad to get Saturday's game finished and out of the way. But he will also feel proud that his side were able to end the season with a victory and claim that fifth spot and an automatic place in the UEFA Cup without hand-outs from Chelsea and Arsenal.
Pride pushed Leeds along to victory just as it had done two weeks before when they disposed of Derby in the first of the 'meaningless' end of season games.
But the same old problems, which have haunted the side all season, were evident on the final day as Leeds failed to capitalise on their possession and did not turn the domination into goals.
Indeed, they so nearly lost the initiative at the end, relying on the safe hands of Nigel Martyn to secure the three points as he made a stunning save from Nemeth.
Their failure to kill games off after taking the lead has cost them dear this season and unless O'Leary can shore things up and teach his players how to see out games by nullifying opponents then he will always be fighting uphill battles.
Middlesbrough were well organised and with the defensive partnership of Gareth Southgate and Ugo Ehiogu looked solid at the back. However, they should not be in the same class as Leeds' array of international superstars.
The home side created enough chances to have buried Boro who for all their bluster and hard running should never have caused Leeds so many problems.
Robbie Keane was the biggest culprit, sending a one-on-one with keeper Mark Schwarzer wide of the target in the opening few minutes he then saw a series of strikes trundle past the post or straight at the Aussie stopper.
Harry Kewell too struggled to find his shooting boots as he blazed high and wide while Lee Bowyer, Alan Smith and even Dominic Matteo came close to finding the net.
At the other end Middlesbrough were a non-entity in the opening 45 minutes. They only woke from their slumber in the second half as they sniffed the chance of a final day upset.
Fortunately for Leeds their visitors had the same trouble finding that quality finish.
It was left for Alan Smith to show how it should be done as he raced through the Middlesbrough defence undetected to latch onto a Keane over-head kick and smash the ball high into the net past Schwarzer.
A quality strike from a player who has had his problems during the season but who deserves to finish on such a high note.
Even then Leeds almost threw it away. Former white Noel Whelan headed wide from three yards when it seemed easier to score and Nemeth, clean through, saw his low shot brilliantly saved by Martyn.
It was a story we had all seen before during the previous months. O'Leary will, no doubt, be working hard over the summer to ensure there are no such repeats on view come the resumption of hostilities in August.