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Leeds United News from The Sporting Life    Yorkshire Evening Post

December 31: Former Leeds captain Gary McAllister was awarded the MBE in the New Years Honours List, published today.

December 30: Depending on which red-top you read, you'll believe that Steve McManaman will or won't be joining Leeds. Either he's coming in to join his good mate and racehorse co-owner Robbie Fowler, or DOL has dismissed the idea and is looking to spend his money elsewhere. You pays your money, you takes your choice.

December 29: Old boys round-up. At lunchtime, Darren Huckerby scored Man City's 5th against Burnley - only one goal was scored at the other end. Noel Whelan scored his first of the season for Boro at Highbury following a dreadful mistake by Sol Campbell - but came out on the losing side as Arsenal came back to score twice and go top. Brian Deane got Leicester's second against the (then) nine men of Bolton - but the home side got a goal back and then an injury time equaliser after Leicester had been reduced to 10 men themselves. Lee Matthews scored Bristol City's third goal in 4 minutes as they came from a goal down at Ninian Park to beat Cardiff 3-1. Finally Mark Tinkler got Hartlepool's third (the first scored by swallow-diving cheat Gordon Watson) as they beat Leyton Orient 3-1.

December 29: Just when we'd given up hope, a Lee Bowyer goal sent the away end mad at St Marys this afternoon. Saints defended well and must feel a bit aggrieved - but Leeds had one goal ruled out for offside, saw a Harte free kick come off the woodwork and had the best of the chances before Bowyer latched on to a through ball from Vidooks in the 89th minute to capture the 3 points.

December 29: Robbie Keane is going under the knife and could be out for two months. His ankle has caused him problems for some time, and now it seems that an op is the only way to get rid of these nagging problems, so he'll go in for some exploratory work next week to try to sort out the problem once and for all and ensure he is match fit and available for the World Cup in the summer.

December 29: Michael Duberry's agent has dropped a strong hint that his client could still quit Leeds despite signing a contract extension last week. Phil Graham says that Doobs wants to have a chance of first team football and he's prepared to fight his way into the side - but there needs to be some light at the end of the tunnel if he is to stay.

December 28: Injury update for tomorrow: Seth Johnson, Robbie Keane, Dom Matteo, Harry Kewell and Eirik Bakke have all been left at home for the trip to Saints to allow them time to recover from their injuries - with Johnson actually needing a minor op on the leg injury he picked up a couple of weeks ago. So that probably means that Frazer Richardson or Jamie McMaster could get their chance to warm the first team bench - the starting line-up is likely to be: Martyn - Mills, Woody, Rio, Harte - Batty, Bowyer, Kelly, Smith - Viduka, Fowler, and with Robbo, Doobs, Wilcox and McPhail on the bench. Wilcox or McPhail might just get the nod ahead of Kelly or Smith just to give a little bit more left-sided balance to the side, and we all know how important that can be with Ian Harte at left back! For Saints, Matthew Oakley is looking more confident of starting, but Paul Williams is likely to miss out, and new signing Fabrice Fernandes is in line for a place on the bench. DOL has clearly taken an overdose of bleedin-obvious pills cos he said: "Now is the time for us to put on that little run of wins to keep us up there at the top." And he's keeping up the dosage on the cliche tablets too: "People say that going to Southampton will be a tough game, but I don't think you really get anything other than tough games in the Premiership." No doubt it will be a game of two halves tomorrow, but in the end the best team is bound to win.

December 28: Ever get the feeling we were jinxed with injuries? Danny Milosevic is back from Wolves because he picked up a hand injury in training session. Dunno what we're paying physio Dave Hancock, but I hope it's not an hourly rate cos the club will be bankrupt by the end of the season at this rate.

December 28: Michael Duberry has rubbished reports in today's papers saying that he is on his way to Leicester. Despite all the protestations of the club to the contrary, the personal problems between himself and Jon Woodgate might make any future for Doobs very hard to manage for all concerned, and even though we're very much short-handed for decent defensive cover, he might just find it better for himself to move on. Dave Bassett is reported to have made a bid of £3 million, but Leeds are officially standing firm - and have in fact signed him up to extend his contract to five years (but since they're doing the same for Woodgate the club would face even more bad publicity if they weren't seen to be doing the same for Doobs. Peter Ridsdale said: "I am unaware of any interest from Leicester or any other club and far from trying to sell him (Duberry) I can confirm he has signed a new five-year contract prior to Christmas."

December 27: Team news ahead of Saturday's trip to St Marys. For Leeds Dominic Matteo is almost certainly out after suffering a hamstring injury against Bolton. Eirik Bakke may return after being forced off early at the Reebok following a tackle by Paul Warhurst. For Saints, Gordon Strachan has injury worries over Paul Williams and Matthew Oakley, but hopes to complete the signing of French left-sided midfielder Fabrice Fernandes from Rennes on Friday - and he would almost certainly go straight into the side.

December 27: Smiffy came in for more praise from DOL today for his performance against Bolton. "The way he sacrificed himself for the team, he is an absolutely fantastic lad. The way he ran at the end to close the full-back down - he was a revelation." In DOL's new book (in the shops now) one of the first things he mentions is the potential that he saw in Smithy but which George Graham had dismissed, and it's been clear in the past that the manager will tolerate the occasional on-field explosion. The manager said: "I hope I am going to be here for many years to come and as long as I am here, he'll be here."

December 27: Danny Granville looks set for a move from Manchester City back down south to Crystal Palace before the end of the year with a fee of around half a million expected.

December 27: Old boys round-up from yesterday: Gary Speed and Jamie Forrester scored for their clubs with very different results: Speed's goal was part of a comprehensive thrashing of Boro that sent the Magpies back to the top of the Premier League, while Forrester's was a late effort that was no more than consolation for Northampton as they went down 2-3 at home to Colchester and remain bottom of Division 2. And speaking of the nether regions, Carlton Palmer's og was just one of many problems experienced by Stockport as they lost at home to Barnsley leaving them 10 points adrift in Division 1.

December 26: Post-match reaction from this lunchtime's win. DOL praised Robbie Fowler - but tempered that with a bit of a dig over the striker's missed penalty. He said: "The penalty was rubbish. He felt right then changed his mind and totally messed it up." Sam Allardyce noted that this is a Robbie Fowler who is still not fully match-fit after an in-and-out start to the season with Liverpool: "Robbie Fowler has got a cutting edge and once he gets fit he will be even more dangerous." He was also clear about the problems facing his side - slipping down the table now after an excellent start to the season: "We had lots of opportunities but you can't go defending like that and it's cost us." DOL also had some encouragement for Jon Woodgate's performance: "It was a good, solid centre-half performance," he said - pointing out the contrast with the last three games, where defensive frailties have cost us 5 points.

December 26: Despite being reassured by Peter Ridsdale that he has a future at the club, rumours are once again circulating about Michael Duberry's departure. Southampton, Charlton and Leicester are all said to be interested in signing the centreback - and with his ex-best-friend Jon Woodgate preferred from a footballing perspective by DOL, never mind the apparent abuse from "Leeds fans" it's not hard to see why he might be interested in leaving. However we're very light on cover at the back, and with Dom Matteo's injuries seeming to be increasingly hard to shake off, the last thing we want to do is lose a decent squad player like Duberry as cover. Charlton are believed to be prepared to pay £3 million for the former Chelsea man - which is well short of what Leeds shelled out a little over 2 years ago, and Peter Ridsdale's statement that he is not for sale might just be intended to move the price up a bit.

December 26: Jon Woodgate is set to sign a new 5-year contract with Leeds. There will be a pay rise for the centreback - and it seems clear that he figures in DOL's ongoing plans - witness his start at the Reebok today. Peter Ridsdale expects the club's backing of the player to be repaid: "I have a meeting arranged with his agent at the beginning of next month but I fully expect the player to sign [the contract]."

December 26: Fowler facts: that was Robbie's 9th hat-trick in his club career, and the second time he's done it against Bolton. He's also scored a hat-trick twice against Southampton - what's the chance of that becoming a hat-trick squared on Saturday?

December 26: Robbie Fowler is starting to find his feet and his form for Leeds now. He bagged two first half goals for Leeds against Bolton at the Reebok to leave Leeds in a good position despite the continued injury problems. With Danny Mills suspended, Seth Johnson and Harry Kewell missing through injury and Ian Harte (finally) dropped, Dom Matteo started the game and Jon Woodgate also came in for his first start for a long time. Unfortunately Eirik Bakke was forced off after just five minutes following a late challenge by Paul Warhurst to be replaced by Jason Wilcox, and Matteo left the field just before half-time with a groin strain, subbed by Ian Harte. In the second half Bolton enjoyed a lot of possession and pressure but Leeds held out, and when Lee Bowyer was fouled in the area, it seemed inevitable that Robbie Fowler should step up to make it a hat-trick - but he missed from the spot. Still, he made up for it a few minutes later when he rounded the keeper to roll the ball home and make it clear that the ace goal-poacher is back with a vengeance.

December 25: A new deal for Lee Bowyer could be agreed soon now that the court case is over. Peter Ridsdale said: "A new deal has been on the table for the last four months because we have been conscious of the fact he only had 18 months of his present contract to run." Obviously he'll be in line for a pay rise - but it should be payBACK time for the club and the fans who have supported him over the last two years.

December 25: Tomorrow (27th) is John Charles' 70th birthday - and if you're in Wales you'll be able to see a special tribute programme to the great man on BBC1 at 2235 on Boxing Day featuring contributions from the Charlton brothers and celebrity fan Michael Parkinson.

December 24: I guess that's all the pre-Christmas news that's fit to print: don't expect too much in the way of news tomorrow cos both myself and all of the less reputable journalists out there will be spending some time with our families rather than fabricating news about our beloved club. Have a Happy Christmas, don't eat so much that you need a crane to shift you from the table, and here's hoping that Santa brings us 3 points on Boxing Day.

December 24: With Danny Mills suspended from Boxing Day's visit to Bolton, and Ian Harte arguably responsible for a number of conceded goals and dropped points over the last month, who will we play in defence? Dominic Matteo has been suffering from a groin strain and it might not be a great idea to put him up against Michael Ricketts and Rod Wallace. However, both Ricketts and Wallace are injury doubts - as are Per Frandsen and Gudni Bergsson. For Leeds, the other doubt is Seth Johnson with a recurrence of the dead leg that saw him replaced against Leicester. So will we see Jon Woodgate getting a start? If the players are fit and available I'd be interested to see us play with Rio, Dom and Woody at CB with Mills (alternate Kelly) and Johnson (alternate Harte) as overlapping wingbacks, Bowyer (alternate Bakke), Dacourt (alternate Batty) and Kewell (Wilcox or Johnson) in the middle and whichever pairing you fancy up front.

December 24: After his remarks at the weekend suggesting that Lee Bowyer would not be signed by Leeds if he came on the market today, Peter Ridsdale has moved to reassure the midfielder - and the fans - that he has a long-term future at Elland Road. He also spoke out backing Michael Duberry's prospects, despite the death threats he has received from so-called Leeds fans.

December 24: The latest court hearing in Turkey was adjourned after three of the 10 men due in court failed to turn up. Solicitor Phillip Howell - representing the family of Kevin Speight - said that the case could drag on for several months yet. "Under Turkish law both sides, the prosecution and defence, can appeal if they don't like the outcome." Most of the accused are out on bail: only Ali Umit Demir is still in prison - and could face a sentence of up to 30 years if found guilty. The next hearing is scheduled for February 11.

December 24: 19 men will appear in court in Istanbul today in connection with the killings of Chris Loftus and Kevin Speight 20 months ago. Ali Umit Demir has admitted stabbing the two men, and 18 other men who face lesser charges of being involved in a fight which caused a death will be making their 15th appearance in court - and this is unlikely to be the end of the saga by a long chalk.

December 23: Not many updates today I'm afraid cos last night someone tried to hack into my system while it was connected and I've spent several hours rechecking my system security, checking all the checksums and file sizes and updating the various security tools to make sure that the little scrotes out there don't get a hold on my system. I run Linux - so I don't get bothered by all those lovely Windows scripting viruses - but this was a useful wake-up call. Whatever your operating system - update your anti-virus package on a regular basis, get yourself on a couple of the security advisory mailing lists, lock down any network services that you might have installed, and never ever run executables that you aren't 100% confident in. This has been a public service announcement by a very p***ed off Jabba.

December 23: DOL to ManU? Although the rumour mill went silent on that front a few months back, is it just me who thinks it's a bit of a coincidence that they're restarting just after the trial? With Marcello Lippi now favorite for the Old Trafford hot seat - and Louis van Gaal recently on the market for a new post, speculation is rising as to who Fergie's successor will be when the end of the year comes round, and now O'Leary says: "I don't think it's scary. The truth is, I think it's a complete managerial turn-on." He's always said that he'll stick with Leeds and that he wouldn't walk away from his contract - and the balance sheet shows just how much the Leeds board have backed him - but with Fergie due to make his suggestion known to the MU board in the new year, DOL isn't exactly talking himself down. "If you have anything about you, and you know exactly what is on offer, why should you be intimidated or doubtful about taking on United." Will he stay at Leeds? Probably - but the flak the club - and the manager himself - have taken over the last couple of weeks must have had some not totally positive bearing on how he views his long-term future.

December 23: We're back down to fourth tonight after Arsenal pulled off a superb win at Anfield. Ref Paul Durkin had a total mare of a game, dismissing Giovanni van Bronckhorst for diving when all he'd done was stumble, get up and look to get on with the game (what's that? Jabba accusing a Gooner of *not* diving?). The ref later decided to not award any foul but also not to book Robert Pires when the Frenchman stumbled under a challenge and then screamed blue murder for a penalty. When Dudek flattened Ljungberg in the area, Durkin awarded a penalty but left the keeper on the pitch for some reason best known to himself. Henry scored from the spot and somehow Arsenal hung on for an hour and ran out 2-1 winners in the end. Earlier at Stamford Bridge, Bolton had taken a very early lead and looked to be doing pretty well until the last couple of minutes of the first half when JFH and Gudjohnsen combined to make it 2-1 to the Blues. The second half was one-way traffic and Chelsea ran out 5-1 winners.

December 23: Euro-updates in brief: PSV hammered Groningen 8-0 in the last game before the winter break in Holland. Leaders Ajax lost at Utrecht but are one point ahead of Feyenoord. PSV are in third - a further point behind Feyenoord but having played two games more.

The weather caused postponements across France due to frozen pitches over the weekend - but in the few games that were played L'Estac went down 1-0 at Nantes - and the champions' win actually lifted them off the bottom of the table. Lens lead the table by eight points from Lyon, having played just one game more.

In Portugal, our former opponents Maritimo drew 1-1 at home and are heading for midtable mediocrity. At the top, Sporting continue to lead the league with a 1-0 win at home to Vittoria Setubal and Porto remain second despite a 2-1 reverse at Santa Clara, but with the third and fourth placed sides - Boavista and Benfica - having a game in hand on the top two it's very close.

In Spain, Depor beat high-flying Real Betis to climb back to the top of the table on Saturday, and Barca continued to slip with a 2-0 defeat at Espanyol. Celta Vigo won 0-1 at Sevilla to maintain their challenge near the top of the table. Real Madrid could only manage a draw at Real Mallorca, so go into Christmas in 3rd place.

One player from each side was dismissed as Chievo were turned over 0-3 at home by Roma on Saturday - the win being enough to take the visitors top of Serie A. Three players received their marching orders as Piacenza played host to Inter on Sunday afternoon - two from the home side - and it wasn't until the 83rd minute that Vieri scored to give the visitors a 3-2 win and allow them to return to the top of the table.

December 23: Injury news from yesterday: Harry Kewell was subbed because he had hurt his back, but it's not thought to be too serious and he should be available for the rest of the festive period.

December 23: Lee Bowyer was fairly effusive in his thanks to the Leeds fans for their support after yesterday's game - and DOL has suggested that it's time to repay that support by signing an extension to his contract - which has just 18 months to run.

December 23: DOL thinks that Bobby Robson was a bit out of order in suggesting that Mark Viduka should have been red-carded for his challenge on Dabizas. O'Leary said: "I have seen Bobby defend Alan Shearer for several seasons now so I am surprised at that. But, Jesus, does he harp on about that?" DOL does have a point, but frankly, I think that Robson was right from what I've seen from the replays - although I do disagree with him when he describes this as Jeff Winter's only mistake of the game: quite what Eirik Bakke was supposed to do with his hand when the ball was kicked at it from 2 feet away is anybody's guess.

December 22: Peter Ridsdale told the press that he would not sign Lee Bowyer if he was offered him today - but he appreciates that hindsight is of little use to anyone and now that he's at Elland Road wants to make sure the midfielder signs a new contract. He also had positive words for Michael Duberry - unfairly labelled 'a grass' in certain quarters. He said: "Michael Duberry did exactly the right thing. That's why the club are looking after him. Michael and Lee Bowyer have a long-term future at the club."

December 22: The bigtime bungles continue and the last unbeaten home record in the Premiership goes. 3-1 up at home, we concede a soft header to Elliott and then a terrible refereeing decision by Jeff Winter allows Newcastle to equalise, then for the second time in the game we see Dyer leave us wondering if Ian Harte knows what his job is supposed to be and producing the ball in that lets them win 4-3. Happy Christmas Newcastle - you're top, we're going nowhere fast. Still - we thought the same in January this year when Newcastle won at Elland Road to leave us more in danger of relegation than European football - so maybe things ain't as black as they seem right now.

December 22: Peter Ridsdale re-iterated that he knew nothing about David O'Leary's book until very recently - and pointed out that contractually, he has no control over what the club's employees do unless they reveal financial details about the club. "I probably wouldn't have stopped it. Do I wish it had not appeared? Of course I do." He also referred once again to the statements made by Suresh Grover about the club's attitude to the Najeib family, pointing out that the club had received legal opinion that any contact would be inadvisable until after the trial in case it was misconstrued. And that's a problem that could continue for some time with the civil action likely to go on for some time into the New Year.

December 21: Liverpool have moved to strengthen their front line after the departure of Robbie Fowler and with the continuing fragility of Michael Owen. Their request for a work permit for Milan Barros has been approved - and they've signed Euro-fidget of the year Nicolas Anelka on loan to the end of the season.

December 21: By their friends shall ye know them. In the Mirror - which seems to have set itself up as some sort of moral arbiter on the whole booze/football/trial arena - we had a quote saying "Boozing Players Are Dragging Our Game Into The Gutter." And who is it espousing this pearl of wisdom? Why, it's none other than that noted abstainer, Mr George Best! The Mirror today managed to find someone who claims that Lee Bowyer assaulted him - and knocked him off his barstool - while he was on holiday two and a half years ago. Of course, he's only just remembered about it this week with all the publicity, and didn't see fit to make anything of it when there might have been any witnesses who could come forward with accounts of the incident fresh in their minds. He's a Special Constable too - so better make sure you don't do anything wrong near him or you could find yourself in serious trouble - in 2004.

December 21: DOL is looking forward to tomorrow's game and wants a win as a Christmas present for the team and the fans. He said: "What a way it could be for us to finish off a miserable few weeks - to win the game and be top for Christmas, it would be the perfect gift for everyone here at Leeds." But he's not underestimating the opposition. He added: "Newcastle are a side who are going very well and who played against a very good side the other night against Arsenal and won the game. It was a great victory." Newcastle chairman Freddie Shepherd thinks that Bobby Robson's side should fear nobody at the moment. He said: "The whole of Tyneside is buzzing after what happened at Highbury on Tuesday night and it has been a great Christmas present to our fans to be top of the Premiership." But he's realistic about their targets for the season: "We are not getting carried away by any of this but we are just concentrating and working to get a place in Europe next season."

December 21: Alan Smith has completed his suspension, Lee Bowyer is just about fit - and even Jon Woodgate could be ready for a bench start - so maybe we can start putting the injury crisis behind us. Obviously Mark Viduka and Robbie Fowler will start the game unless either has an injury, so Alan Smith will have to make do with a benchwarming start. Big questions will start to be posed in midfield: David Batty had an excellent game midweek, you can't see Harry Kewell being dropped and Seth Johnson is coming into his own. But makeshift right midfielder Gary Kelly has produced more good crosses in the last 3 games than he'd done in the last 7 years at right back, so it would be a bit harsh on him to be dropped. On the negative side, the ref will be our good friend Jeff Winter whose card-flourishing performance at Highbury earlier this season will long be remembered by all those who witnessed it.

December 21: After giving out what can only be described as mixed messages on the Bowyer and Woodgate front this week, the manager has tried to set the record straight and make it clear that he expects a high standard of behaviour from his players. "It sets a bad example to young fans who look up to them, it's bad for them as athletes and I just believe they cannot expect to take all the money and the perks that come with the job and still be able to go out to bars and clubs like ordinary people." Too right mate. He goes on: "If they want to earn the big money, enjoy the fancy cars, the luxury houses and the first class lifestyle, they must accept there is a price to pay for that." And in a clear warning to his players, he finished up by saying: "If they can't cope with that, don't want to put up with it, don't want to pay the price, they should get out of football. It's as simple as that."

December 21: Danny Milosevic has gone on loan to Wolves to give them a bit of cover for Michael Oakes as the season reaches a crucial stage. Milosevic has been on the bench for Leeds on a number of occasions but has yet to make his first team debut after signing from Perth Glory two years ago.

December 20: Lee Bowyer will be available for selection for the team on Saturday after he agreed to settle with the club. Peter Ridsdale did not give any specific details, but made it clear that Bowyer would be making a payment of a sum that was in the region of the fine, and had requested it be used for the club's inner city programme and for a children's hospice. The settlement was agreed by the club, the player, his agent and his legal advisor and was mediated by Gordon Taylor of the PFA. Peter Ridsdale stressed: "Leeds United would like to make it clear this is an internal disciplinary issue and in no way relates to the case at Hull Crown Court." It sounds likely that the club might have backed down on the full amount of the 'fine' on the understanding that Bowyer makes a 'donation' of an equivalent amount. Nobody loses face, the public and (hopefully) press finally think they've got their pound of flesh from a man whose sole offence was to have a few sherbets too many one night, and we get back a key member of the side at a crucial time of year. As for the future and contract renewals - who can say?

December 20: The Najeib family's "advisor" Suresh Grover's allegations that Leeds United had taken the court case "frivolously" and had paid scant attention to the family was refuted by Peter Ridsdale today. He said: "When I first found out about the attack on Sarfraz Najeib, I immediately and publicly expressed my concerns at what had happened and wished Sarfraz Najeib a full and speedy recovery." However, once the police began investigating the players, it would have been inappropriate for the club to comment further. The chairman added: "Contrary to Mr Grover's assertion at one stage in the press conference that he had no contact with the club, I had a meeting with Mr Grover and representatives of the Najeib family within days of our players' arrests." The meeting lasted an hour - but what was discussed there has obviously slipped from Mr Grover's memory. And as for not taking things seriously, again the trial rather prevented the club from pre-judging the matter, but Mr Ridsdale pointed out: "Within two working days of the conclusion of the trial, Leeds United had taken disciplinary action against both Jonathan Woodgate and Lee Bowyer whilst also recognising that a jury had found Lee innocent of all charges made against him."

December 20: The Najeib family started to reveal their plans to sue Lee Bowyer, Jon Woodgate, Paul Clifford, Neale Caveney, Tony Hackworth and Leeds United over the assault. Full details are not expected until the New Year, but their solicitor should be taking a large dose of legal advice about starting such proceedings against two innocent men and their employer, which had nothing to do with the assault. The family will also claim that there was a racist motive to the attack - a fact that the police, prosecution and judge all stated was not the case during the criminal trial. Family friend Suresh Grover said: "The family believe that this action is necessary, not only to ensure lasting justice for Sarfraz and Shahzad, but also to ensure that these incidents are treated with the seriousness that they deserve and that they do not occur again." He added: "The family want to know if these four or five defendants were not responsible for this attack at Mill Hill, then who was?" Since various witnesses said that there were ten or so people doing the chasing, a more pertinent question might be "Who were the other five?". Sarfraz's father Muhammad said that he wanted to see justice done and that the verdict on Friday was "a blow from which we may never recover".

December 20: Jon Woodgate has returned to training and will start trying to regain some of the fitness and a bit of the one stone in weight that he lost during the trial. He's got to fit this in around his community service - and it would be a bit of a surprise to see him start a game before he's completed that, but he impressed the coaching staff with a good session at the start of the week. DOL said: "Jonathan has been able to get some training under his belt on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and I am quite surprised at how well he has done. I would not say that he is too far off a return now. He looks in really good shape and what he needs now is football work more than anything else."

December 20: Michael Duberry seems to be another victim in the events surrounding the assault on Sarfraz Najeib. He told an ITV Tonight special that he didn't enjoy being called a grass. "It's not nice even now going to stadiums when I've been warming up and the whole of the away end is calling you a grass." I'd hope that he won't have to suffer too much more of that - and maybe his consolation is that he'll sleep a bit sounder having told the truth instead of covering it up. Duberry told the interviewer that Woodgate had begged him not to testify, and had said "You've murdered me," to his former friend.

December 20: Match reaction: DOL was understandably disappointed with end of the game, but was happy at the result. He said: "We have been very, very sound defensively all season and in two games now we have conceded two goals in each that have all been disappointing." Opposite number Walter Smith described the match as a "strange game". He said: "There were periods in the game where if we had had a wee bit more belief in ourselves then we might have managed to cause one or two more problems." But he had no quibbles with the result: "We cannot complain about the result because Leeds were a better side overall." O'Leary was particularly pleased for his most recent signing. He said: "I was delighted for Robbie Fowler. I felt he was playing well and all he needed was a goal to really kick him off. I know there will be more from him."

December 20: DOL told the press what went on when he told Lee Bowyer that he would be fined. DOL told Bowyer that his behaviour was inexcusable and was "not what I want my athletes doing on the streets of Leeds". Bowyer's reaction was that he didn't think he deserved any punishment - and even if he did then all the club could do was fine him two weeks' wages. He told the midfielder that his actions had set the club back many years, and made it clear that he will remain on the list unless he accepts his punishment.

December 19: We nearly threw it away again. Three goals to the good with five minutes left on the clock and it took a quick sprint off his line by Nige to deny Radzinski at the death. David Weir's injury-time goal recalled his equaliser at a similar point in that 4-4 draw at Goodison a few years back - but at least we've got a win under our belts again. Now for the leaders on Saturday.

December 19: DOL has defended the publication of "his" book - written in conjunction with some of the press folks at Leeds by all accounts. He said: "I've got a lovely book coming out which I am proud of and I stand by it without a doubt." He went on to say: "I don't know how I am doing any damage with the book. I am just putting the record straight about what has been happening at Leeds United."

December 19: Peter Ridsdale has hinted that Lee Bowyer may come to some sort of compromise with the club over the fine - in a day when two Premier League clubs (believed to be Spurs and Boro) have contacted Leeds to express an interest in the £15 million rated midfielder. DOL backed the club's decision and said: "My chairman likes him and doesn't want to sell him and I don't want to sell him. We are going to lose a great player but we have got to be seen to be doing the right thing for this football club." Bowyer and Woodgate are expected to attend tonight's game - which is a fairly positive sign.

December 19: The club have announced details of the trips to Holland for the PSV game next month: the day trip is £185, and one night in a hotel in Eindhoven will cost you £250 a head. With a hotel in Amsterdam, train and flights, I'm doing this one for £80 - even if we end up having to get new flights because of a rumoured TV-driven switch to Tuesday we're still doing it at half what the club has managed to offer.

December 19: DOL was waiting for Seth Johnson and hoping that he'd recover from his dead leg in time for tonight's game. Robbie Keane is expected to be back fit, but Thomas Gravesen and Alan Stubbs are both missing for the visitors. DOL knows that the three points are an absolute essential if we are to hope to challenge for honours this year. "It would be nice for us to get the points on the board over the next five matches because they are all matches that we would expect to win if we want to challenge this season," he said.

December 18: The Bowyer to-ing and fro-ing goes on. Bowyer said that he'd been listed against his wishes and that he still wanted to play for Leeds. He was not invited to the disciplinary hearing, and said: "I have not refused to work in the club's community programme. I have done so in the past and would continue to do so as part of Leeds United's normal programme. Given these circumstances I could not accept the disciplinary findings. However, I wish to place on record that I still wish to play for Leeds United." Peter Ridsdale responded on BBC Radio 5, saying that he wanted Bowyer to resolve his issues with the club and stay. The chairman justified the fine, saying: "Lee, by his own admission, had an excess of alcohol on the night in question in January 2000. We take very strongly that these players are role models and it is inappropriate to be in a city centre late at night as a professional footballer with an excess of alcohol in the body. We think we need to demonstrate that." He said that he wanted Bowyer to get in touch with the club to discuss the fine - what's up? Doesn't he have Bowyer's mobile number? Wasn't the player getting physio at Thorpe Arch today? This sort of thing should be sorted out behind closed doors and is a remarkable gaffe for the media-aware Ridsdale. Of course, it could be a bit of a double bluff here: Bowyer has 18 months to run on his contract, and has not yet signed an extension as far as we know. Leeds must be facing up to the possibility that Bowyer would not renew his contract and go on a Bosman in summer 2003, and this is a convenient way for the club to be "forced" into selling him but being able to turn around to the fans and say "there was nowt we could do about it - the player was breaking club discipline". Or maybe I'm an old cynic.

December 18: Peter Lorimer (landlord) on Lee Bowyer: "I don't think it's inappropriate for players to go drinking in public full stop. Others go out and it's not a problem, it's a question of how you behave when you're out. Ultimately, you have a responsibility to the football club and therefore they've got to go along with the rules of the club." Lorimer added: "From the fans to the directors to the players, no one man can dictate what goes on and this would seem to be the case here." As Lorimer's team-mate and captain's motto had it: "Side before Self". Bowyer would do well to visit the statue of Billy Bremner when he returns to Elland Road and consider whether a bit of loyalty to the club that has stood solidly behind him for two years might be in order. Of course, there is also a school of thought that believes that the manager must be subject to some sort of sanction - even if it's only a public rebuke - for the insensitive timing of the release of his book, and Bowyer's feeling of injustice can only be exacerbated by the absence of any official reprimand for O'Leary.

December 18: Harpal Singh has been recalled from his loan period with Burnley. The young Asian player is a right-sided midfielder or winger and has been a great success in his loan spell - but if Lee Bowyer is on his way, and looking at the injury situation anyway, a place in the squad could be in the offing for the player.

December 18: We could be facing the leaders on Saturday: Newcastle were a goal down and on the wrong end of their famous London hoodoo at Highbury tonight, but managed an equaliser from Andy O'Brien, got a hugely fortuitous penalty decision - converted by Alan Shearer - to go ahead and then scored again in injury time to win 3-1. Ray Parlour and Craig Bellamy were sent off - again for not particularly terrible offences, but Newcastle nearly made it 4-1 in injury time.

December 18: Just when you thought we were out of the woods, the bears come out and pounce. Jon Woodgate has been fined 8 weeks' wages by the club, ordered to take a leading role within the club's community programme and given a final warning as to his future conduct. Woodgate has accepted the fine - even though the PFA standard only allows the clubs to fine players a maximum of 2 weeks' pay - and has requested that the fine be put towards the club's work with inner city communities, which the club are happy to accept. BUT - and this is one huge but - Lee Bowyer has also been fined for breaching club discipline by being drunk in the town centre. The chairman and manager decided that he should be fined 4 weeks pay and also be required to take part in the club's community programme but the midfielder has refused to accept this punishment, and so has been transfer listed with immediate effect. He will not be available to play unless he accepts the club's discipline - and a whole bunch of managers will be beating a path to their chairmen's doors to get the cheque book out to pick up the best young midfielder in the country. Whether or not the chairmen will decide to back such requests - bearing in mind the furore that has been banging around the country since the verdicts were delivered, anyone who tries to sign him up will expect to face the same protests. Maybe it will all blow over and he'll accept the fine - or maybe he's played for Leeds for the last time. May you live in interesting times...

December 18: If you're having problems finding an away kit for Christmas, you're not alone. Demand has vastly outstripped supply and also surpassed the figures for the home kit last year, with the result that they ain't available for love nor money - and the hyper-efficient (and almost certain to be dumped at the end of the contract) Nike won't be shipping the next batch until well into the New Year.

December 18: Speaking of the commercial side, Leeds yesterday announce a deal with World Sports Solutions - an international sports management firm - to promote the club as a brand around the world over the next 5 years.

December 18: The scariest MP in Parliament doesn't like us! Oooo! We're scared! Gerald Kaufman - who it seems has always borne a grudge against Leeds since he was victimised at school in the city - said that the verdicts on Friday were a "travesty of justice". It's not totally surprising that one of the New Labour control freaks who are pushing through so many laws which erode long-held rights and remove all chance of judicial review of executive decisions wants to overturn the legitimately-made decision of a jury. He's also discovered a new interest in team selection, saying that Jon Woodgate should never be picked for England. He hasn't yet called for convicted drink driver Tony Adams to be similarly banned or to be stripped of his caps, neither has he requested that players who have confessed to taking class A drugs be removed from their employment. But with the way that lot want to run every aspect of your lives, don't expect to have to wait too long for that now they've got interested.

December 18: Infamy! Infamy! They've all got it in for me! That's what DOL's saying about the refs today. "I'm concerned referees may now view our games with preconceived ideas. There is no way we are a dirty side." He was speaking after we've picked up more than a few unjust bookings and after Neale Barry had a right royal whinge about the Villa game. "There's not a great deal I can do as a manager to prevent people giving us that name," he said. "I suppose all we can do is roll up our sleeves and adopt a siege mentality, one where we shouldn't feel sorry for ourselves." But the manager isn't asking for special treatment: "We do not want special treatment, all we want is consistency."

December 17: The FA will now proceed with the misconduct charges against Lee Bowyer after the "elbow" on Gary McAllister in January (although they never got round to speaking to our former captain for a couple of studs-first specials on Bowyer and Harte), and also for Bowyer and Danny Mills in relation to their rather freely given opinions at Arsenal when ref Jeff Winter bought the cheating tactics of Ashley Cole hook, line and sinker and dismissed the two Leeds players thanks to the Highbury Highboard Artist's superb gymnastic performances.

December 17: Putting the court case behind us - NOT - department. The family of Sarfraz Najeib are apparently thinking of suing the players and the club in a civil case, where standards of proof are generally a lot less stringent than those in criminal cases. Quite how they see the club as a legitimate target is another matter: if I punch somebody in the street tomorrow, I wouldn't expect my employer to be liable unless I did it while specifically employed on their business, so how can they think that LUFC are responsible for the actions of their employees when they're out for a drink. It's believed that the family will also try to sue Tony Hackworth, who had all the charges against him dismissed by Mr Justice Poole in the first trial for lack of evidence.

December 17: Mark Viduka wants Leeds to focus on the football and concentrate on the future now that the court case has finally finished. "We have had headlines for all the wrong reasons. It does affect you because you want to see how things are going with the case," he said. "We have to put the past behind us and start concentrating on the league." Too right mate - and that's something that everyone including the manager would do well to remember.

December 17: Eirik Bakke's booking means that he will miss the New Year's Day game against West Ham. Seth Johnson remains a doubt for the Everton game on Wednesday night, but at least Bakke and Matteo's return gives us a bit more depth. Alan Smith remains banned for the Everton game but is once again available for Saturday's visit of Newcastle, but fellow striker Robbie Keane might make it into the squad for the Everton game after his absence on Sunday but he's by no means a certainty.

December 17: Old boy round-up from the weekend: Gary Speed's goal helped Newcastle come from behind to beat Blackburn at St James' Park, while a late goal from Jamie Forrester helped Northampton climb off the foot of the table with a home win over Bournemouth. JFH, needless to say, scored one of Chelsea's 4 on Sunday.

December 16: Ultra-quick Euro round-up, cos I've got a whole pile of stuff to do after being in Leeds since Saturday lunchtime.

Holland: PSV and Feyenoord shared a goalless draw: Feyenoord remain top, four points clear of our next Euro opponents who have played two games more.

Italy: shock horror time as Chievo beat Inter 2-1 at the San Siro yesterday to retake the lead of Serie A. Roma's victory over Milan leaves them well set, but it was the other side from Verona who sprung the other surprise of the weekend, with Hellas beating Lazio 3-1 to move within a point of their visitors.

Spain: normal service is resumed as Real Madrid go top with a 3-1 win over Real Sociedad (about to sign Liverpool's comedy keeper Sander Westerveld). Depor could only draw at Malaga and Alaves lost at home to Seville, so it's Real Betis moving into second spot, level on points with Madrid after a 1-0 home win over Mallorca. Barcelona won at Villareal and lie in seventh spot - but they're only 4 points off the lead.

December 16: In a continuation of their strong form to date, Leeds Ladies beat Charlton 2-0 today with goals from Tanya Panasar and Lucy Ward.

December 16: The manager was not at all happy with today's performance and said that Leeds were "diabolical". "It's shocking to throw away two points like that. It was a wonderful first half from us and they think they can coast." He thought Mark Viduka's disallowed goal should have been allowed to stand - but he speaks for us all now when he plays down hope of the Championship: "I think it's two dropped points and as for the title, it makes it hard for yourself."

December 16: DOL has set himself up for a serious slating with his book - "Leeds United on Trial" (which only has a small part about the trial) - serialised starting today. The book will be published in the New Year, and although he lays into the players, his own judgement will be called into question. He said: "They were guilty in my eyes for failing to exercise control, lacking in responsibility and for failing to behave as professional footballers should. What did they think they were doing, boozed up and running through the streets? Was that not inviting trouble?" In return, he should be asked why he allowed that sort of behaviour - and why the club obviously continues to allow it today, as witnessed by the players' behaviour in Leeds last week. He also has a go at the FA over their treatment of Lee Bowyer "They have handled this disgracefully. I am disgusted with the way Lee has been treated. You are innocent until proven guilty in this country, but they denied Lee the chance to play for his country when he should have been available." Remember that this is the same FA that were happy for Dennis Wise to continue playing after he was convicted of assault (though he was later cleared on appeal). Our naive young manager is no fool, and this book will not be anything other than a well-considered step, planned to continue to further his career: it will be interesting to read the less sensational (and therefore not serialised and talked about in the papers) sections when it finally appears. One thing that has come out is that he's insisting on Woodgate leaving his Middlesbrough home and moving closer to Leeds to move away from people who are seen as a bad influence on him.

December 16: Robbie Keane missed today's game after injuring his ankle in training.

December 16: After walking all over Leicester for the first half - but only scoring the one goal, we let them back into it far too cheaply (great marking Ian - maybe you can look up the meaning of the word "defender" in a dictionary when you get home and try to understand how the term might be applied to you in future) and with well-taken goals from Brian Deane and James Scowcroft we found ourselves still in 4th place and two points worse off than we should be. Chelsea showed us all what you should do when you're two goals up later in the afternoon when they kept on attacking, rode their luck (McAllister's penalty for a Riise dive well-saved by Cudicini) and scored two more goals to climb into fifth place.

December 14: Last bit about the trial today: Michael Duberry did not want to give evidence, left the country at one point, hired a bodyguard and had a panic button installed at home after concerns that he might become a target for attack. Several Leeds fans had threatened Duberry for the evidence he gave in the first trial - and he says that he still hears abuse directed at him from the terraces in every game.

December 14: David O'Leary has backed Lucas Radebe to make a return to the side, despite yet another setback with his latest injury. DOL said: "The bottom line with Lucas is that he is one of football's great warriors and you can never write him off. I have no doubt that he will come back and he will show that bravery and tenacity that we all know he has." The man himself was disappointed but fairly positive about his injury. He said: "I thought I was nearly there. I was within touching distance of a first team recall. This reserve match with Sunderland was going to be the game where it was decided whether or not I was going to be in the squad. I was on a high and looking forward to getting back into the first team but this is bad news." He added: "It could have been worse and I am delighted that nothing is broken. I have really really damaged the ligaments on my ankle and unfortunately it is very bad." We're now hoping he'll be in a position to come back around Easter.

December 14: Mr Justice Henriques gave the reasons behind his apparently lenient sentence on Woodgate and Caveney. He said: "A young man of good character in ordinary circumstances would be most unlikely to lose his liberty for this crime as a first offence." He added: "Prominent in the mitigation for both of you is the fact for two years you have faced the possibility of a long prison sentence. You have spent six months of your life in court and it is right to say that each of you has impressed everyone in this building with your courteousness." The sentences for affray go up to 5 years - but as the judge stated, a first offence where no violence by the accused was proved is not the sort of thing that normally draws a custodial term, and despite the publicity around this trial, it should not be viewed any differently to similar cases.

December 14: Finally, the trial is over. Nearly two years after the events that left Sarfraz Najeib unconscious and bleeding in a gutter in Leeds, the jury have returned their verdict. Paul Clifford's teethmarks in the victim's face were probably decisive, and he was convicted of affray and GBH with intent and sentenced to 6 years in prison. Neale Caveney and Jon Woodgate were clearly judged to have taken a much lesser role in the assault: they were both acquitted of GBH with intent, but found guilty of affray and sentenced to 100 hours community service each. Lee Bowyer - who has maintained throughout this process that he was never even in the street where the assault took place - was acquitted of both charges. Afterwards, Bowyer thanked friends, family, the legal team and the management and fans of Leeds united "for sticking by me". Woodgate expressed sympathy for the Najeib family, and said that he now wanted to put the episode behind him and continue with his football career. The family were less impressed with the verdict, and in a press conference that might have Lee Bowyer's legal team reaching for the libel case book, they said that they did not feel that justice had been served, and that the result was a "tremendous disappointment" and that the "5" men responsible for the "racist" attack should all have been jailed. They also expressed their unhappiness that the club had not apologised - although Peter Ridsdale later pointed out that, while he had always acknowledged that a crime had been committed and expressed sympathy for the victim, it would not have been appropriate for him to say any more until the trial had finished. "Leeds United was not on trial," said the chairman. Mr Ridsdale also stated that Woodgate would be punished by the club on top of the sentence handed down by the court, and pointed out Leeds' success and commitment in rooting out racist abuse among supporters. Costs were not awarded, so Bowyer and Woodgate both face a substantial bill for their defence in both trials. Woodgate would not be sacked - the chairman said that he had been clear that - if he had been convicted of the more serious offence - Woodgate would have been out, but he was now available for David O'Leary to select whenever the manager required him. The FA have now stated that Bowyer will be considered for selection for England, but they are still examining Jon Woodgate's case. Bowyer should be in the squad for the game in Holland in February - and then again for the friendly against Italy at Elland Road next year will be a great chance for him to make his debut.

December 13: As a result of the UEFA Cup games, the home game against Charlton, the away game at Everton and the midweek visit of Ipswich are put back by one day.

December 13: The jury are still out in the trial in Hull, but were briefly recalled by Mr Justice Henriques today to clear up any doubts around the players "misbehaving" at the club Christmas party at the weekend - he stated categorically that Jon Woodgate and Lee Bowyer were not among the players alleged to have been "misbehaving".

December 13: A little bit more info has emerged on the Robbie Fowler 'incident'. After the players were told by DOL to avoid any trouble, it seems that Fowler was getting a minicab back from the party with a (non-footballer) friend. The cab stopped at a petrol station with Robbie asleep inside, and shortly afterwards, a photographer turned up and tried to get a picture of the striker. Robbie's friend remonstrated with the intrusive snapper, and in the confusion it seems that a camera (worth £10,000 - yeah right) and a mobile phone were damaged, and there is talk of civil charges to recover the costs of repair.

December 13: Lucas Radebe picked up a leg injury in the reserve match at New Ferens Park last night. At first it was feared that the Chief had broken his right leg, but it turns out that it's "only" ligament damage - and he'll be out of contention for a further three months, just as he was returning to full match fitness. Lucas left on crutches after a clash with Sunderland striker Ross Marchant, and was carried off the field on a stretcher before leaving the stadium on crutches. Leeds lost the game 2-0, not that it matters much. Robbo saved two penalties, and Lucas was the only real first team player around - and the pitch was apparently very bumpy and frost-bound, much to the displeasure of the majority of the players.

December 12: JFH scored a last-minute winner for Chelsea in the Worthington Cup tonight as they extended Newcastle's awful run of form in the capital. At Anfield, Liverpool were probably expecting an easyish win - but Fulham defended well, attacked on the break, and - helped by the woodwork on a couple of occasions - held the home side to a goalless draw. That's the first time that they've failed to score in the league this year, and means that they don't stretch their lead quite as much as they could at the top. Man U finally lifted up a rock and found their form - a 5-0 home win over Derby pulls them up into fifth place - 4 points behind Leeds and 9 adrift of leaders Liverpool having played a game more than both.

December 12: The jury are still out in the trial in Hull.

December 12: Olivier Dacourt may be injured and out for 6-8 weeks, but DOL continued to have a non-too-subtle dig at the player who refused to play out of position against Fulham. The manager said: "I don't want selfish people around the football club because you will win nothing with them." He picked out Alan Smith, Eirik Bakke and Robbie Keane as deserving praise for moving into unfamiliar roles to help the team - and pointed to the spirit that the team had when under pressure last season. "That is what you have to create at a football club, not having fifteen individuals doing their own thing. You've got to gel together and have that belief and spirit." Special praise too for Gary Kelly, who did a pretty good job on the right side of midfield against Blackburn after spending all season in the reserves and watching Danny Mills make the right-back slot his own. "It has been hard for him not being in the team, but he has been an absolute credit to himself given the way he's trained and the fact he has not sulked." It's clear that O'Leary has a wrong side and a right side - and players are seldom left in doubt where they stand!

December 12: Chairman Peter Ridsdale isn't thinking about a repeat of the 1992 'Battle of Britain' against Glasgow Rangers - all he's concentrating on in the UEFA Cup is the PSV game. He said: "I think it is the most difficult of all the ties possible [PSV were top-ranked of the unseeded teams] and they knocked us out the last time we played them. But at the end of the day, if we want to progress in this tournament then we have to play against the top teams and we are looking forward to playing them." Maybe Leeds will actually do better if they're the underdogs - our Euro form so far against Maritimo, Troyes and Grasshopper has left a lot to be desired in ties we were expected to win comfortably. Gary Kelly agrees: "When you look at some of the teams left in the competition you would think that we are now one of the so-called lower teams," he said.

December 12: Robbie Fowler was arrested in Leeds last night along with another 25-year-old man following an alleged incident of criminal damage. The suggestion is that they were being pestered by paparazzi after the Christmas Party and the "damage" to some photographic equipment. Both men were released without charge, and Peter Ridsdale said that the club were happy with Fowler's behaviour and would not be taking the matter further.

December 12: The draw has been made, and we're paired with our old friends from PSV Eindhoven. We're at the Philipsstadion on February 21, with the return leg at Elland Road a week later. If we get past that particular obstacle, we'll face the winners of Rangers vs Feyenoord, at home on March 14 and away on March 21. Easyjet prices from Luton to 'dam are now double what they were when we booked our flights (seconds after the draw was confirmed, smug smug) but there are plenty of possible routes to get out there. The PSV lot we met with last time were a good bunch - even if the police presence was somewhat heavy-handed. Hopefully they now appreciate what a lovely bunch of lads we are and let us wander around enjoying the culture unmolested. The Philipsstadion holds 33,500 - so we're hoping that getting match tickets won't be a problem (particularly since we were at Troyes and Zurich) - but the club are still waiting to hear what the allocation will be. For those of you who don't remember the games in question, we totally bungled the home leg against PSV in 1995, letting them win 3-5, and then more or less gave up in the return match, allowing them a more or less untroubled 3-0 win. Better luck this time, we hope. The other matches in the draw are: AC Milan vs Roda JC, Lille vs Borussia Dortmund, Valencia vs Servette, Lyon vs Slovan Liberec, Hapoel Tel-Aviv vs Parma and Inter vs AEK Athens. On ratings, form and the draw, that might suggest a final four of both Milan sides, Dortmund and errr... Leeds. Is this the year we finally make another Euro Final? The bookies seem to broadly agree - Milan are favourites at 3/1 with Inter at 5/1 and Leeds ranked third at 11/2.

December 11: Leicester's Matt Elliott is keeping his fingers crossed that he will be able to start the game on Sunday after being ruled out of last weekend's game with a mystery leg infection. The problem is clearing up, but the leg is still swollen. Matt Jones scored for Leicester reserves last night and has a decent chance of forcing his way into Dave Bassett's plans with that loveable Dennis Wise suspended.

December 11: Reports in Europe today say that ex-Leeds goal king Tony Yeboah is set to leave Hamburg during the winter shutdown and join up with an Arabian football team. Yeboah was at Elland Road for two and a half years, in which he played in just 66 games - but scored 32 goals, many of them goal-of-the-season candidates.

December 11: The jury are still out in the trial in Hull.

December 11: With Soccer Australia missing out on the cash bonanza that would have accrued from qualification for the World Cup Finals, there are suggestions that coach Frank Farina could be replaced - and that's a decision that would not go down at all well with the players: Kevin Muscat, Craig Moore and Harry Kewell have all suggested that they would consider their international futures if the popular coach is ousted.

December 11: Ref Andy D'Urso has promised to take a look at the video of Robbie Fowler's booking in the Blackburn game and see if he thinks that the card should be overturned. Meanwhile the FA are going to look at the incident which saw Graeme Le Saux carried off in the Worthington Cup clash with Leeds at the end of November. From where we were sitting it looked like he just collided with Alan Smith and Danny Mills and was badly winded - but I'm sure that the always even-handed FA will find some hook to hang a charge on Smithy or Mills if they possibly can.

December 11: The draw for the UEFA Cup 4th Round and Quarter-Finals takes place in Geneva tomorrow, with Leeds' possible opponents narrowed down to PSV, Lille, Roda JC (Holland) and Servette Geneva. Get your fingers poised on that 'book a flight' button on!

December 10: "I don't go for quick fixes. In the summer I had a nice kitty to spend and I could have bought one player, but I felt the price was too high." So says DOL, who is nonetheless concerned at yet another injury crisis which is leaving the expensive squad looking thin again. "We are not under-achieving, with the players we have and with the players who are missing I think we are achieving everything that we possibly can." And he speaks for many of us when he says: "If you had said to me at the start of the season that we would be in the top three at the start of December and we had put the UEFA Cup to bed until February then I think we would have taken that."

December 10: The jury have been sent out to consider their verdicts in the trial of Jon Woodgate, Lee Bowyer, Neale Caveney and Paul Clifford. Mr Justice Henriques said that he required a unanimous verdict from them, and explained the grounds they would have to consider in the charges of affray and GBH with intent, which all the defendants deny. The judge explained that to convict for an offence of GBH would require the jury to believe that the defendant had punched or kicked the victim, encouraged the attack or prevented someone from going to the victim's aid. An offence of affray would have been committed if someone had threatened violence such that a person of "reasonable firmness" would be in fear for their own safety. The jury were sent home for the night.

December 10: The FA have refused Cardiff's request to move the FA Cup tie to the Millenium Stadium, so the game will now take place at Ninian Park on Sunday 6 January. Expect a very early start as the authorities do what they can to avoid clashes between Cardiff's notorious hooligan following and Leeds' travelling supporters. I've already had three separate pieces of advice from Cardiff-supporting or Welsh-based mates warning me not to bother turning up unless I'm in riot gear and ready for a battle. It's back to the 1980s - with the one angle that "I Love 19xx" missed out: great hooli-battles of the year. Can anyone remember if we had this sort of trouble when we went down there in 1984? We weren't exactly choirboys in those days but have a somewhat better reputation now - are Cardiff just 20 years behind the times and trying to catch up?

December 09: Leeds Ladies pulled off an excellent result today as they came from behind to beat league leaders Everton 4-3 at home. Lucy Ward scored a late winner for the Ladies, and the win takes them up into an excellent 4th place in their first season in the top flight.

December 09: A quick whiz around Europe to see what's happening out there - remember the draw for the next round will be in Geneva on Wednesday.

First up, let's see how our former Euro-opponents are doing. Grasshopper moved up into 3rd place in Switzerland with a two late goals from Stephane Chapuisat and Roland Schwengler sealing a 4-1 defeat of Neuchatel Xamax, and climbing over Young Boys (ooo-er) who succumbed to a last-minute penalty from St Gallen. Basle continue to top the table, with a 1-0 win at bottom club Lucerne keeping their lead at 5 points.

In France, L'Estac slipped up 0-2 at Bastia and are now down to eighth place after Frederic Danjou's dismissal with an hour to play left them unable to overcome the home side. It's getting tighter at the top with Lens losing at Guingamp and allowing Lyon and Auxerre the chance to close the gap with wins at home to Bordeaux and Monaco respectively. The sad sad season of Nantes continues: the champions took the lead at home to Montpellier but still lost 1-2 and lie 2 points adrift at the bottom of the pile.

We've not peeked at Portugal for some time: Maritimo are in 7th place in what is quite a tight league after their 0-1 win at Man U's victims Boavista this weekend. Uniao Leiria did wonders for their goal difference with a 7-0 hammering of Salgueiros, but Sporting sit on top of the pile today, leapfrogging Porto and Benfica by winning at home to Varzim while their rivals lost.

Possible Euro-opponents Roda JC won 1-2 at AZ yesterday, but remain in the bottom half of the league in Holland. Feyenoord climbed back to the top of the charts with a 5-0 hammering of NEC, getting ahead of Ajax and leaving Heerenveen drifting in third place after they could only manage a come-from-behind 2-2 draw at Willem II.

Bayern Munich have now dropped to fourth place in the Bundesliga - their 3-3 home draw with Wolfsburg allowed Kaiserslauten to overtake them, but Dortmund now have a bit of a cushion in second place and Bayer Leverkusen restored their winning ways in style with three second-half goals securing a victory over Nurnberg and cemented a two point lead.

On to the big boys: Alaves remain top in Spain with a 0-2 win at Real Zaragoza. Depor needed a penalty from Diego Tristan to see off Valencia at the Riazor, while Real Madrid's ominous charge up the table continued with a 0-2 win at Tenerife. Celta Vigo and Barcelona failed to close the gap on Real Betis and Athletic Bilbao as the latter two both drew their games - but Celta would feel happier than their hosts since they left the Nou Camp with a point after being 2-0 down with 20 minutes to go.

Won't somebody please tell Chievo to stop winning and let the "real" teams get on with it? Inter remain top - and Ronaldo scored the first goal of his comeback - with a 3-1 win at Brescia, but Chievo got back to winning ways with a 2-1 win at home to Lecce and stay in second place. Juve drew with Milan in the San Siro, while both Rome sides were victorious - Lazio at home to Fiorentina and Roma at Parma - so there's not much change in the upper reaches of Serie A.

December 09: DOL will be asking the impossible of the FA again this week when he asks ref Andy D'Urso to wipe out the yellow card shown to Robbie Fowler for diving at Blackburn. The TV replays are pretty clear that there was contact between Henning Berg and Fowler, and O'Leary said: "Let's start putting pressure on people and let's see them be brave enough and man enough that when they make wrong decisions they then reverse them." D'Urso was able to reverse Alan Shearer's dismissal last week after examining the video evidence - but referees and the FA do not currently have the power to void any bookings made during the game. Graeme Souness was more than a bit unhappy that his side had failed to take full advantage of some decent periods of possession during the game, but recognises Leeds as genuine title contenders: "Liverpool, Arsenal and Leeds will be the teams there at the finish - but to tell you the truth I'm not really bothered with that right now."

December 09: Cardiff chairman Sam Hamann reckons that his side are "substantially" bigger than Leeds, and is talking about switching the third round tie from the 15,000-capacity Ninian Park to the giant Millenium Stadium. He said: "If we were in the same division as Leeds and with the same quality team and with the same stadium, we would get bigger gates than Leeds get at the moment." Yes Sam, and if Leeds were in La Liga with the same quality team as Barcelona, we'd be pulling in 100K spectators per game.... The Welsh Rugby Union have indicated that they'd be amenable to City switching a big tie to the Millenium Stadium - but it will need approval from the FA, who - realistically - are unlikely to want the Final venue being used for a third round game.

December 09: Olivier Dacourt will be out for up to six weeks after dislocating his right shoulder in today's game. DOL said: "It is another bad blow for us, because we are already down to the bare bones. We are losing players badly, and I do not know where we go from here."

December 09: Villa blew a 2-0 half-time lead at Highbury to lose 3-2 to Arsenal, with Thierry Henry scoring in injury time to move the Gunners back to second and Leeds down to third.

December 09: Leeds have been drawn away against Cardiff City in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup, to be played on the weekend of January 5. Leeds famously faced Cardiff at this stage for three years in succession in the 1950s - losing each tie 2-1, but have since beaten them on 3 successive occasions in the cup, most recently 4-1 in 1975. The last visit to Ninian Park was in 1984, where Scott Sellars scored but Leeds went down 1-2.

December 09: After a good start, Leeds were second best for much of the second half, and had the woodwork and Nigel Martyn to thank for going in to the break all square. Brad Friedel was also called into action, and Mark Viduka could have had a hat-trick with a bit more luck and a bit more placement. Gary Kelly - playing in midfield in the absence of Bowyer, Bakke, Johnson and Smith - then got the away fans out of their seats with two great runs that gave Harry Kewell a pair of goals. Leeds had already had four players booked when Robbie Fowler fell in the area - and although he didn't appeal for a penalty, it looks like Leeds are now marked out as a bunch of cheating divers who need to be punished, with Fowler's card ensuring Leeds will be up in front of the FA having had five different players booked. Olivier Dacourt was forced off after two heavy challenges by Short and Tugay, and Blackburn increased the pressure. That pressure finally told when Henning Berg forced the ball home in a goalmouth scramble that left Nigel Martyn needing treatment. Despite more pressure, Leeds held on to move back into second place (at least until Arsenal play later today).

December 08: Graeme Souness made it clear to his own players what he thinks they'll be up against tomorrow in heaping the praise on Robbie Fowler. He said: "I think he's the best natural finisher around in British football." Souness thinks that Fowler has suffered with the rotation system at Liverpool and will do well at Elland Road: "It's because he has not played enough games. He will get games at Leeds and he will prove to be an outstanding success."

December 08: The day after Gary Kelly had a rather public message that he needed to be playing, DOL has praised Danny Mills as being the best in the country in his position: "Danny is one of the great success stories of recent months and he has quite rightly earned himself a regular spot in the England squad." He also pointed out how useful he'd be in an international squad. The manager said: "You can see what he offers, and when you are selecting a group of people it doesn't do Danny any harm that he can fill in at left-back or centre-back." But DOL expects Kelly to fight for his position, just as Mills had to on his arrival at Leeds. "You need the competition for places, so there's no way I will let him go."

December 07: In Hull today the judge continued his summing up for the jury, and told the jury that they should look at what the players said to the police, and compare it to what they subsequently said in court. Mr Justice Henriques said that the jury must determine whether any discrepancies were out of a "desire to conceal guilt". He pointed out that Jon Woodgate had initially refused to identify the men who were with him that night, and stated: "The prosecution say this was not to protect his friends. It was to protect himself". Lee Bowyer's failure to name the men who were with Woodgate also came in for scrutiny by the judge. "If you decide he was misleading police you are going to have to ask yourselves why," the judge said. Woodgate and Bowyer deny charges of GBH with intent and affray alongside Neale Caveney and Paul Clifford. The trial was adjourned until Monday.

December 07: Seth Johnson and Alan Smith are suspended for Sunday's visit to Blackburn, and Dominic Matteo is looking to have a decent chance of playing. With Eirik Bakke and Stephen McPhail still not ready to return, Gary Kelly has a chance of retaining his place in the side, but maybe playing in midfield, unless DOL decides to continue with an attack-minded formation similar to that seen on Thursday night. For Blackburn, Gary Flitcroft has not overcome a groin injury, and former Liverpool defender Stig Inge Bjornebye is also unlikely to start with a calf injury.

December 07: Gary Kelly thinks he might have to pass up a major pay day at Leeds and move on before he has a chance to pick up the benefits of a testimonial game at Leeds if he is to stand a chance of playing in next year's World Cup. Kelly has been displaced by Danny Mills, and now only appears when we need injury cover - and national manager Mick McCarthy has made it clear that he expects his players to be regular first-teamers. Kelly knows what he wants and what his priorities are. He said: "I'm Leeds through and through, but I had a taste of the World Cup at 20 and believe me they don't come much better than that. To experience two at the age of 27 would be unbelievable."

December 07: DOL has singled out Alan Smith for special praise for his performance in the last two games after the striker found himself called into action on the right side of midfield. The manager said: "Alan was willing to sacrifice himself for the team by playing out of position because we had no one else to go in there." Obviously "no one else" includes Olivier Dacourt, who apparently told the boss that he wasn't prepared to fulfil the role against Fulham and seems to be doing all he can to engineer an exit from the club - maybe as soon as the transfer window opens in Italy in the New Year. DOL continued: "Smithy takes a lot of stick, especially from some parts of the media, and we all know there are areas he needs to work on but no one can ever doubt his commitment to the team."

December 07: The draw for the next round takes place in Geneva next Wednesday. Leeds will be seeded for the draw, and so will avoid the "stronger" teams. Leeds are ranked fifth, behind Valencia, Inter, Parma and Borussia Dortmund, but ahead of Lyon, AC Milan and Feyenoord - so it looks like a trip to Italy is off for the moment. However, a return to Switzerland is possible with Servette still in the competition. PSV and Rangers are in the bottom half, so offering us a chance for some revenge for European defeats in the early 1990s. Lille and Roda JC of Holland should be quite easy to get to, with AEK Athens requiring a bit more travelling, Slovan Liberec closer but a little bit harder to reach, and Hapoel Tel Aviv probably the hardest to get to (and thus the most likely draw, based on previous experience with our good friends of UEFA). Whoever we end up facing, David Batty will miss the first leg after his booking last night took him to three cards for the competition this year. The manager meanwhile has downplayed Leeds' chances of winning the competition. "It makes me laugh that people are picking us to go right through this competition. You only have to look at the other sides left in to see how difficult winning it is going to be. The Milan teams are not too bad and Valencia are very good," he said. And who does the manager want us to get next? "I understand Servette got through. That would be a nice trip in February. I like Switzerland. It's a nice country."

December 06: It's late (=early) so only the briefest of updates. The game was played in a relaxed and easy-going way, and only when they scored did we really look hungry for it. Disappointing to concede the late goal - but we're in the next round and hopefully not too drained ahead of Sunday's visit to Blackburn. Harry's goal was grade A fantastic - check it out on TV when you can!

December 06: It's been announced that yet another game will be shifting to accommodate TV: the Blackburn home game in March has now been put back to a 1400 kick-off on the Sunday for PPV viewers' benefit.

December 05: Team news for tomorrow? Well, not much really. Dom Matteo is only 50/50 for the game and Robbie Fowler and Seth Johnson are ineligible. If Matteo is unfit then Danny Mills will continue at centre back and Gary Kelly at right back. Jason Wilcox or Robbie Keane are likely to make up the numbers in midfield, with Alan Smith and Mark Viduka up front - leaving just Paul Robinson, Michael Duberry and Wilcox or Keane on the bench.

December 05: Peter Ridsdale has taken a very quick hop over the pond to talk about naming rights for the new stadium with some large American companies. A few possible candidates have been ruled out already due to various connections and restrictions - but the chairman is expecting to be able to talk up a bit of a bidding war for what could be quite lucrative rights.

December 05: The trial entered its final stages today as Mr Justice Henriques began his summing up for the jury. He specifically warned the jury to take care with identification evidence. He said: "There have been wrongful convictions in the past as a result of such mistakes." One witness had picked out Bowyer and Woodgate after seeing photos of them in the press, but the judge warned: "Once a witness has seen a photograph any subsequent act of identification is just as likely to be of the photograph as it is to be of the individual observed at the scene." He said that it was clear that some of the defendants had told lies about what happened that night, but the jury had to consider the reasons for those lies: "It is only if you are sure they did not lie for an innocent reason, that their lies can be regarded by you as lies counting towards their guilt."

December 04: There were two surprises in the Champions League tonight, with Arsenal beating Juve 3-1 at Highbury and Depor going down 3-0 at Bayer Leverkusen to leave all four teams on three points going into the winter break. There were also wins for Real Madrid at home to Panathanaikos, and Sparta Prague at Porto. Meanwhile in the UEFA Cup, Borussia Dortmund, Hapoel Tel Aviv and Roda JC all qualified for the next round - maybe they will face Leeds!

December 04: The summing up continues at the trial in Hull, with Nigel Sangster QC appearing for Paul Clifford today. He cast doubt on evidence from expert witnesses for the prosecution, who suggested that his client had bitten Sarfraz Najeib. Their evidence was fallible, and he pointed out that both prosecution and defence dental experts had agreed that working from photographs taken several weeks after the incident took place had caused "real problems". Clifford, Neale Caveney, Jon Woodgate and Lee Bowyer all deny charges of GBH with intent and affray.

December 04: Nottingham Forest have had their shares suspended as a result of their failure to file accounts, and the whole sorry financial situation at the City Ground could be set to give Leeds an advantage as they renew their interest in Forest's young winger Jermaine Jenas. Man U are also interested, and unless things take a positive turn for the former European Champions, they could be forced into accepting just about any offer for the talented youngster.

December 04: Despite the horrendous nature of the challenge on Stephen McPhail by Jokanovic last week, it's now looking like the young Irishman might be ready to return next week rather than after Christmas as was first feared. He said: "I have come out lucky from the injury though, especially having seen it on the tape. He's caught me high up but it's lucky my ankle gave way or it could have been worse."

December 04: A whole bunch of you told me what you thought was important in the design of the new stadium a couple of months ago - now you have the chance to put your points to the club. Mail with your suggestions, whether it's on the provision of decent real ale (rather than Strongbow, Carling et al) or adequate transport links - take the opportunity to tell them what you think.

December 04: The Chief came through last night's reserve game against Sheffield Wednesday unharmed - and now believes he's just one more match away from challenging for a first team place. And he's pretty confident that the team can finally win a pot for the mantelpiece. He said: "When the time comes that we pick up the silverware, we will all celebrate together." Craig Farrell and Jamie McMaster scored for Leeds in a 2-0 win over the Owls.

December 03: Lucas Radebe was due to form part of a strong back line tonight with Jon Woodgate and Lucas Radebe as the reserves faced Sheffield Wednesday at Bootham Crescent. Radebe's long climb back to fitness has finally got round to him playing in a real game - let's hope he can make that final step back up to the first team squad without suffering another breakdown.

December 03: Lee Bowyer's counsel summed up in the midfielder's defence today. Desmond de Silva QC told the jury that suspicion alone was not enough to convict his client. He said: "The more you look at this case the more you are driven to the conclusion the prosecution have put in front of you a selective picture." Mr de Silva pointed out that one of Sarfraz Najeib's friends, who was chased by the group of men from outside the Majestyk was a football fan, and would have recognised Bowyer. However, he had told the polcie that he had not seen Bowyer do anything wrong. He then told the court that although Bowyer's fellow-accused - Jon Woodgate, Neale Caveney and Paul Clifford - had originally said that Bowyer had been part of a group who had chased other men outside the club, they had subsequently told the court they were mistaken. Bowyer had maintained all along that he had never entered Mill Hill, and no evidence had been produced to prove that he had. All the men deny charges of GBH with intent and affray.

December 03: What a shame - Dennis Wise's booking for his altercation with David Ginola on Saturday means that he's reached 5 for the season and will miss Leicester's visit to Elland Road on Sunday 16 December.

December 03: Blah blah blah department: Olly says he's not going anywhere and loves at Leeds and there must have been some mistake in translation. Yeah, right. He said: "I have a new contract and I know my place is here playing for this great football club." Speaking about transfer plans, Peter Ridsdale made it clear that money from the controversial securitisation and other sources was still available for the manager. He said: "We will keep adding quality and if players don't fit into the manager's plans, we will let them go for the best price we can get. That doesn't mean we would not have bought Robbie if we had been forced to sell to buy him." And DOL once again insisted we look at the net figures on the transfer front, saying that he'd only spent £60 million overall, and that Leeds had received an offer of that magnitude for Rio Ferdinand. I know he's good - but 200% inflation in a year is stretching anybody's credibility. But since there aren't two players remotely as good as Rio, there's no point in taking that sort of money, even if it would leave the club in an excellent financial position.

December 03: The Leeds Ladies - one of whose games I must get to see at some point when they stop scheduling the games against first team outings - had an excellent win at the weekend. Playing in Bromley against Charlton yesterday, they ran out 1-0 winners and look to be well and truly safe in their first season in the top flight.

December 02: Sunday night is Euro night. It's all change at the top of La Liga: Depor slipped up at Espanyol, losing 1-0, and allowing Alaves - 2-0 home winners over Barcelona - to take a one point lead at the top. After a dreadful start to the season, Real Madrid moved up into third place with a 2-1 win over Osasuna.

In Italy, AC Milan did city rivals Internazionale a favour when they beat long-time leaders Chievo 3-2 to allow Inter to take over at the top with a 4-2 victory at Atalanta - even though the home side held a 2-1 advantage for 40 minutes. Roma were down to 10 men - losing Aldair for an early bath - and facing the prospect of two dropped home points against bottom club Venezia when Fuser scored a last-minute goal to secure them third place. Lazio won away and Juve at home, and the top of Serie A is now taking on a more familiar look.

In the Bundesliga it was hiccup week for the leaders, with Bayer Leverkusen's unbeaten record going at Werder Bremen, and Bayern Munich going down at Hertha Berlin. Dortmund moved up into second place, and Kaiserslauten closed in on third-placed Bayern with wins at Cologne and at home to Freiburg respectively.

In Switzerland, Thursday's opponents Grasshopper had a one-goal majority in a nine-goal thriller at leaders Basle and move up into fourth place, but remain six points adrift of the leaders.

Finally, in Holland Heerenveen pegged back leaders Feyenoord with a 1-0 win at home and now sit in third place, a point behind second-placed Ajax and three behind the leaders.

December 02: Post-match reaction from DOL was fairly low-key. He reckons that Robbie Fowler will need a decent run in the side to show his true form, but he was pleased with what he saw today. "I was delighted with Robbie. We all have off days but for a lad who has been training with us for only two days he did well." He added: "He holds the ball up well and he has great movement, but only time will tell whether I am right or wrong. I think it is an excellent price and I think we can get the best out of him." Overall, DOL was half-pleased: "With that performance I am delighted with the result. We are a passing team and didn't pass it too well."

December 02: That was not a great way to spend the afternoon. It wasn't particularly cold, damp and miserable day in London, but the football was dire, with Leeds waiting until the 73rd minute before managing a shot on target. The right side of the field was a write-off: with Danny Mills moved to centreback and Gary Kelly filling in, and with Alan Smith switched to the right side of the midfield, we barely had one attacking effort down that side. Mark Viduka was a doubt beforehand with a stomach complaint (we've all had complaints about his stomach before, so it's nice to see he now agrees with us ;-). Robbie Fowler was the best of the strikers, but it took some good defensive work from Danny Mills and Rio Ferdinand to keep the home side out. But that's two points won from the last nine in the league and we really need to win every game between now and the new year if we want to keep up a challenge for the title.

December 02: For the second time in a couple of days, it's been hinted that Stephen McPhail could be on his way out of Elland Road. Having been linked in a swap deal for Forest's Jermaine Jenas, this weekend's press had him lined up for a £4 million move to Newcastle before he picked up the injury against Chelsea. And DOL sees a few of the squad players heading out of the club, but denies that any of the stars would be leaving, despite rumours of a £20 million bid for Harry Kewell from Inter (ha! is that the deposit or are they taking the mickey?).

December 02: Old boys round-up from yesterday: Gary Speed's goal for Newcastle looked set to bring an end to their long run of failing to win in the capital when they visited The Valley. Unfortunately for the Magpies, Charlton equalised, and that lovely Mr Shearer finally ran into an official who realised that his use of the elbow on defenders was illegal and produced the red card. Earlier in the day, JFH had scored the second goal for Chelsea as they won 3-0 at Old Trafford to inflict the biggest home defeat on Man U in eight years. Darren Huckerby scored from the spot for Man City as they beat Grimsby 2-0, and Jamie Forrester opened the scoring at the Racecourse Ground, but his Northampton side went down 3-2 to Wrexham.

December 01: Da Yoof ran out 1-0 winners against Liverpool in extra time last night, with the visitors playing the last half hour with just 10 men.

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