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Leeds United News from The Sporting Life    Yorkshire Evening Post


March 31: Injury news for tomorrow: Harry Kewell left Elland Road on crutches and is rated as a no-hoper, and Olivier Dacourt is similarly ruled out again. Rio Ferdinand will travel hopefully (it's better than arriving apparently) and face a fitness test to see if he'll be able to start.

March 31: It's Euro time again, and starting in Holland there were two big surprises at the top of the league today when Ajax went down 3-1 at Vitesse, whose recent good run has pulled them into contention for a European place next season, and Feyenoord needed a late goal from Pierre van Hooijdonk to scrape a 1-1 draw at home to RKC. Ajax now top the table, 2 points clear of Feyenoord but having played a game more, while PSV and Heerenveen are 5 points behind Feyenoord, and their game in hand kicks off at noon tomorrow when they face each other at the Philipstadion.

Bayer Leverkusen have opened up a bit of a gap at the top of the Bundesliga after a rollercoaster game at Kaiserslauten. They were two goals up after quarter of an hour, but were pegged back to 2-2 early in the second half. They went back in front with a penalty with 15 minutes to go and sealed the game with a goal on 86 minutes. 2nd-placed Dortmund went down 3-2 at Stuttgart and now trail by 4 points, but they remain 3 points clear of Bayern who could only manage a 0-0 draw at Hamburg.

All the Serie A games were played on Saturday, and yet another goal from the on-form Vieri was enough for Inter to take the 3 points away from Fiorentina, retaining a 3 point lead over Roma, whose 3-1 win over Bologna dented their visitors' hopes of holding on for a Champions League place - two Inzaghi goals helped Milan to a 3-1 win over Parma to bring them to within a point of Bologna. Juve needed a David Trezeguet equaliser to salvage a point at home to Lazio, and they're now 3 points behind Roma in 3rd place.

Real Madrid retained the leadership of La Liga on goal difference from Valencia. Madrid won 0-1 at Sevilla thanks to a first half strike by Ivan Helguera that took a major deflection from an offside Claude Makelele, and Valencia had a similar margin at bottom club Tenerife thanks to Aimar's 77th minute strike. That was obviously the key for some action, since the home side managed to record 4 bookings and a dismissal in the last 5 minutes of the match. Depor came from behind to draw 1-1 at Real Sociedad, so now sit 4 points behind the leaders, and only a point clear of Celta Vigo, 3-1 winners over Alaves this weekend. Barca's miserable season continues - they are now down in 6th and had Patrick Kluivert dismissed following a 1-1 draw with Las Palmas at the Nou Camp.

Finally in the Gambrinus Liga, mid-table Jablonec shocked leaders Sparta Prague with a 2-0 win, allowing Slovan Liberec to take over at the top thanks to a 1-3 win at Drnovice. Viktoria Zizkov can close to within a point of Sparta if they win at home to bottom side Opava tomorrow.

March 31: Smithy still wants to remind Sven that he's around, despite the limited chances to impress the England manager ahead of the final decision for the World Cup squad. He said: "There are many games to go in the Premiership and my comfort is that the England manager seems to watch each and every one of them." The England manager was fairly non-commital, saying: "There are big Premiership games still remaining before I pick the squad so, yes, it could be possible for him to get there." Realistically - like Jon Woodgate and Paul Robinson - Smith will have to aim for the Euro 2004 tournament as his main target, when he could face stiff competition for a place from Michael Bridges as well as Robbie Fowler and all the others.

March 31: Lucas Radebe has spoken of his desire to get back into first-team action and maybe even the national squad for the World Cup. With the South African coach looking to take a fairly young side, Radebe feels his age could be an asset. He said: "The team to go to the World Cup will consist mainly of youngsters. I'm not trying to blow my own trumpet, but my experience will definitely stand the squad in good stead should [SA coach Jomo] Sono decide to pick me." He picks out African Nations Cup winners Cameroon as the African side likely to progress furthest in this summer's tournament.

March 31: Deportivo boss Javier Irureta is the latest in a long line of foreign managers to be linked with a move for Mark Viduka. With Diego Tristan a target for AS Roma (where he'll probably replace on-form striker Vincenzo Montella who doesn't seem to be in Fabio Capello's good books), a bid of around £15 million for the Aussie hitman could be on the cards.

March 30: Old-boys news: Clyde Wijnhard got himself on the scoresheet for his new club Preston as they beat Portsmouth 2-0 to keep up a challenge for promotion. Gunnar Halle came off the bench for Wolves and found himself on the end of Alan Moore's elbow: Moore was sent off and Wolves held on to beat Burnley 2-3. Darren Huckerby scored two goals in 5 minutes at the end of the first half against Forest at Maine Road, and when City were awarded a penalty in the second period, Huckerby stepped up to complete his hat-trick from the spot, taking his tally to 16 goals this season.

March 30: Post-match injury round-up: Harry Kewell had to have 6 stitches in the leg wound that Nicky Butt inflicted on him and which forced Harry off early on. Jon Woodgate also picked up a knock in the game as did Alan Smith, following a collision with Eirik Bakke.

March 30: The defence came in for some stern criticism from DOL after today's game. What with Woody and Mills colliding, Nige spilling the ball into the path of their striker and the total lack of numbers (or tightness) for their 4th, it's understandable. He said: "We proved we are a team with goals in us but we did not defend well. The fourth goal summed it up for me as they ran from one end of the pitch to the other unopposed. They are a quality side and you just can't afford to do that." Leeds did have a couple of chances to retrieve the game near the end. The manager said: "We had a great chance with Robbie Keane and a great chance with Ian Harte near the end. I think Fabien Barthez thought it was going in himself. Unfortunately for us, they didn't go in."

March 30: Still no wins over Alex Ferguson for DOL - but there were several positives to take out of today's game. Lee Bowyer looked ready to reclaim his place and did pretty well, we actually made some genuine tactical substitutions and the ref had a blinder! I'm not always last in the queue to denigrate the b*****ds in the black, so praise where it's due to Mr Elleray today - he kept the cards to a bare minimum, ignored a couple of obvious dives, calmed several flashpoints and played a great advantage that allowed Leeds to equalise.

March 28: Gunnar Halle has moved on loan from Bradford to Wolves just before the deadline to strengthen Wanderers' push for promotion.

March 28: Peter Ridsdale was today pushing the line that Leeds would listen to offers for Mark Viduka and Olivier Dacourt but that no offer had actually been made. He said: "If and when we get any offers for any of our players we would consider them and put them to the players concerned before making up our minds whether they were even worth thinking about." Errrr...surely it's the other way round? If someone makes an offer you think about if it represents good value and if the player could be replaced for the same amount or less, and THEN ask the player if he wants to move. Ridsdale added: "We are not desperate for money - even less so if we qualify for the Champions League." How can you be less desperate than "not desperate"? Does that mean you'd be so undesperate that you could afford to give money to passing strangers?

March 28: Jon Woodgate was today convicted of speeding at Richmond Magistrates Court. He was found guilty of doing 97mph on the A19 at Thirsk last July - and with his three previous convictions in the last three years this won him a 6 month ban, a £500 fine and £250 costs. He plans to appeal against the disqualification - and let's hope this was one final aberration before he gets his life together and concentrates on being a professional footballer instead of acting like a teenager on a permanent bender.

March 28: Danny Mills was happy with his first start for England - doubly so because it was at Elland Road. He said: "It's always nice to come on and play for your country but the first start means a lot to me, especially as it was here at Elland Road in front of the Leeds fans." After a pretty decent performance he said: "I just have to keep on doing what I am doing and hopefully I will do enough to go to the World Cup." Sven Goran Erickson was also upbeat about Mills' performance and will be at Elland Road on Saturday to have another look at several players in a game that is just about as big as a World Cup tie.

March 28: Dominic Matteo is the latest injury doubt for the big game on Saturday. He picked up a calf injury in Scotland's 5-0 hammering by France, and so it looks like he could miss the game. With Rio also doubtful, we could end up with Woody and DMIFB at centreback, with Gary Kelly making a return to the side at right back. Olivier Dacourt is also very unlikely to feature, but Eirik Bakke might just recover in time to win a place on the bench.

March 27: An Ian Harte header opened the scoring at Lansdowne Road tonight, and with Robbie Keane following that up with the second goal from 25 yards out, it was Leeds 2 - 0 Denmark. Clinton Morrison added a third goal in injury time. No luck for the Scots - Dominic Matteo was part of a Scottish defence torn to shreds by the World and European Champions, going down 5-0 to France.

March 27: Nigel Martyn had a trouble-free first half at Elland Road tonight, with Danny Mills looking solid at right-back. In the second half, Martyn was replaced by David James - and he had little chance to stop Italy's equaliser from the in-form Vincenzo Montella. Equaliser? That's right - they were a goal down thanks to a superb finish by Robbie Fowler after Joe Cole had helped to rob the Italian defence. In the final minute, James might have done enough to set Nigel Martyn's place at the head of the Seaman-replacement queue in stone with a rash challenge that gave away a penalty, allowing Montella to take Italy to a 2-1 victory.

March 27: So are we selling or aren't we? It's harder still to judge today following Peter Ridsdale's comments to an Italian news agency. He said: "In life, everyone has a price. If you know a few Italian club presidents who are ready to give me at least £30 million for Viduka, then give them by number and tell them to call me. Otherwise, none of them are going, and it's the same price for Kewell. Why should we sell, when, more than money, we need quality players?"

March 27: Michael Bridges commented on his surgeon's thumbs up to restart training. He said: "I'm chuffed to bits. It has been a rough ride, a complete nightmare in fact, but I never gave up hope because I knew I was in good hands. Mr Steadman has been terrific, but so have the medical staff at Leeds. The help I've received has kept me going, along with the telephone calls from other people like Alan Shearer, who has been through the same thing as me." All he needs now is some steady work, and with luck he could be back to scoring 20 goals a season starting in August.

March 27: Once again Galatasaray have managed to come up smelling of roses after being involved in ugly scuffles in Rome the other week. Roma were fined CHF 200,000, and had two players banned for 3 matches and one player banned for one game, as well as a one match touchline ban for Fabio Capello and - more damagingly - being forced to play their next home euro-fixture away from the Stadio Olimpico. The Turkish team escaped with a far smaller fine and no bans for the players - although UEFA are now appealing against their own commission to get two of the GS players banned for their actions. What do they have to do to receive serious censure? Their fans have rioted home and away, they've caused the death of their own and opposition fans in European and domestic competition, and still the club is allowed to compete in all competitions with negligible sanctions. Where are the bodies buried? Who in Istanbul as the dirt on UEFA? Answers on a postcard please....

March 27: U21 boss David Platt had plenty of praise for Alan Smith's performance at Valley Parade last night. He said: "I thought Alan did very well, especially in the first-half where he relished the battle of coming up against the Italian defenders and was happy to work right up against them. I thought he had a very good game and what he did show was his enthusiasm" His striking partner Jermain Defoe was equally impressed with the advice and encouragement he received from Smith, saying that he had a lot to learn from the Leeds player.

March 26: A relatively strong reserve side lost 2-0 against Everton tonight. Lee Bowyer, Jason Wilcox and Seth Johnson were all in the side, with Jacob Burns also appearing. All 4 first teamers also managed to appear in the ref's notebook too, so that's a good start towards the next suspension for Lee. Everton scored a goal in each half, and leap over Leeds in the reserve league table.

March 26: Alan Smith and Paul Robinson both featured prominently in tonight's U-21 game against Italy at Valley Parade. Smithy played the whole game, and although he didn't have any clear cut chances he worked well to open the game up for the others, and miraculously stayed out of the ref's book, despite some theatrics from the Italians. Robbo played for the first 79 minutes, having no chance with the Italians' opening goal but producing a couple of great reaction stops later to keep England in the game.

March 26: Batts is going nowhere according to his agent. With the summer clearout speculation gathering pace, Batts is one of those mentioned as a possible departure, and Man City are said to be interested. He's always made it clear he's not interested in reserve team or lower division footy, and agent Hayden Evans said: "It was always his intention to retire as a Leeds player, and that has not changed. He has a contract that takes him up to the age of 35, and he sees that as the ideal time to bow out." He's 34 in December, so realistically that's at most two more seasons from the great man.

March 26: Good news/bad news: Michael Bridges has been given the green light to restart training from his American surgeon after 18 months on the sidelines with injuries. Don't expect to see him competing for a place before next season though. Maybe there's some light at the end of the tunnel for Lucas Radebe - he's making good progress at last and might be fit enough to press for a place towards the end of the season. Less positive is the news on Rio: for the game in which we'll probably need him most this season it's likely he'll not be ready. Looks like it's down to Woody to keep van Nistelrooy under lock and key on Saturday. Seth Johnson came through the game against Leicester with no ill-effects, and both Olivier Dacourt and Eirik Bakke are responding well to treatment - so where will that leave Lee Bowyer who will be available for league selection for the first time since the dismal performance against Liverpool at the start of February?

March 26: Leicester City chairman John Elsom is indicating that he might look to ban Leeds fans from the next game against Leicester (whenever that might be) due to the racist abuse from a small section of the crowd on Saturday. Elsom said: "City does not want racists in the stadium. Supporters and players should not have to put up with abuse of this nature. We want all supporters to chant and sing non-abusively inside the stadium. Racist behaviour is not acceptable and will not be tolerated." Peter Ridsdale once again concurred and made it clear that such behaviour would not be allowed. "We hope the Leicester police have video evidence available of those supporters who caused offence at Filbert Street," he said. "We have on our club database names, addresses and photographs of all the adult travelling Leeds fans. We will do everything in our power to help the police put names to faces."

March 25: Leicester chairman John Elsom hit out at the racist chants from Leeds fans at the game on Saturday, saying: "Leicester City does not welcome the racist comments by Leeds United fans. City does not want racists in the stadium." Not to worry mate, we won't be back next year. It must have been quite localised, because I heard a couple of the usual chants but nothing sustained or particularly loud and abusive - certainly not enough to prompt Elsom to speak out like that. Peter Ridsdale backed his counterpart's stand: "I totally endorse John Elsom's views. We will not tolerate racism of any kind. We condemn anybody who chants racist abuse." Okay, so now it's down to people who were there, and heard it or saw it: write to the club, tell them the seat number and let's see if there's a ban or two forthcoming.

March 25: Jon Woodgate has received some backing from an entirely unexpected source - England captain David Beckham! With the Man U game just a few days away, Beckham said: "Jonathon is a talented footballer, I'm sure everyone knows that." He thinks that Woody will return to the England squad after the World Cup, saying: "Everyone has to overcome obstacles in their life and I'm sure he will."

March 25: Nigel Martyn had some positive things to say about Jon Woodgate's form both on and off the park. He said: "I thought he was excellent against Blackburn last Sunday. He is good enough for international level. He is a popular, likeable lad among the players, so we all want him to do well and he has the ability to go with that." Bearing in mind the injuries suffered by Sarfraz Najeib (for which, admittedly, the courts decided that Woody bore no responsibility), Martyn's next statement was not that well-chosen: "He has shown tremendous strength of character to come back from what he has been through." Nige is hoping to be given the chance to play in an England shirt on his home ground: "It would be nice to run out at Elland Road in an England jersey, but it's not for me to judge. Sven will pick his team and look at whoever he wants to look at. Everyone respects that."

March 25: Harpal Singh has returned to Elland Road after being unable to settle down at Bristol City. He's impressed on the pitch, but after talking to City boss Danny Wilson he has gone back up north. Wilson said: "Harpal was not happy here and I admire his honesty in explaining the situation rather than letting it drag on." Speaking of loans, it seems that Frazer Richardson is more important than we thought: DOL refused to let him go on loan to Rotherham last week, saying that we'd have a need for him in the run in.

March 24: Round Europe we go, starting in Holland where PSV have slipped to 4th place. They drew 1-1 with leaders Ajax this weekend, and the draw could be could news for second-placed Feyenoord who have a game in hand on the leaders and are now just three points back with a better goal-difference after today's 0-5 hammering of second bottom side Sparta. Heerenveen's 4-0 win over NEC leaves them equal on points to PSV with a single goal advantage.

In France, leaders Lens slipped up again - drawing 1-1 at Sedan. Lyon and PSG closed the gap at the top with a 2-0 win at home to Lorient and 0-1 away win at Guingamp respectively. Best-placed to challenge though are Auxerre, 6 points off the lead but with two games in hand and benefiting from a last minute winner at Lille today. Yesterday Nicolas Gousse scored twice at the Stade de l'Aube to give Troyes a handy victory over Bordeaux.

The top 5 all won in Germany this weekend - Liverpool's Champions League opponents Bayer Leverkusen remain top after picking up 4 unanswered goals (and 5 bookings) against 1860 Munich. Borussia Dortmund's ride against Energie Cottbus got easier after 18 minutes when the visitors went down to 10 men, and the 3-0 scoreline was probably less than the home side had hoped for. Bayern did very little in the first half against Cologne, but roused themselves to score three unanswered goals in the second.

A hat-trick from Hierro kept Real Madrid on top of La Liga, leading them to a 3-1 win over Real Zaragoza today. It took Valencia 50 minutes to score after Osasuna were reduced to 10 men with only 27 minutes gone, and when Sanchez's goal was equalised by ex-Cov Aussie John Aloisi, the Mestalla crowd must have been ready to walk out. If they stayed to the end, they'd have seen the home side take the points with Ruben Baraja making up for an earlier penalty miss with a last minute header. Third-placed Depor also won - 3-1 at home to Tenerife - and with Barca coming from behind to beat Valladolid 1-2 there wasn't much change at the top. Celta Vigo handed out a 1-6 thrashing, moving up to 4th ahead of Real Betis who failed to score at home to Sevilla, despite playing for 40 minutes with a one-man advantage.

There was a predictable bad-tempered game at the San Siro today, but a first minute goal from Alvaro Recoba got Inter on their way against Roma, and Vieiri made it 2-0 before half-time. Totti pulled one back for the visitors in the second half, but Recoba scored again and Jonathan Zembina got his marching orders with just over 10 minutes to go to blow Roma's chances of taking anything from the tie. A late dismissal for Inter's Emre Belozoglu didn't make any difference and they now lead the table by three clear points. Inter are top and Roma remain in second place because Juve fell to a surprising 1-0 defeat at Parma yesterday, the home side easing their relegation worries thanks to an 88th minute strike by Sabri Lamouchi. The final Champions League place will go to one of Bologna, Chievo or Milan who all won this weekend.

Slight changes near the top of the Gambrinus Liga: Sparta were 3-0 winners over Drnovice to nobody's great surprise, but Slovan Liberec go from strength to strength when a very late red card was followed by a last minute goal to give them victory over Viktoria Zizkov, and jumping over the visiting side into second place.

March 24: Rio's knee injury doesn't look too serious - and he might even be in a position to play against Man U next weekend. DOL said: "If that is too soon, then maybe he has got a chance of facing Tottenham on the Easter Monday. It's not too serious." There's more concern over Olivier Dacourt, who tweaked his hamstring and had to come off after just 13 minutes on Saturday. At least Seth Johnson is now back, and Lee Bowyer is finally available again after a 6-match domestic ban.

March 24: Must be going blind in my old age: I totally failed to notice Danny Mills' name in the England squad for the friendly against Italy. Mills had another great game in front of Tord Grip yesterday, and it's good to see he's getting a final chance to make an impression in an international, despite his disciplinary problems this season.

March 24: Peter Ridsdale has said that he would be "very disturbed" if it turned out that political pressure had been brought to bear on Sven Goran Erickson in order to exclude Jon Woodgate from the England World Cup squad. The chairman said: "The bottom line is that Jonathan has fulfilled his obligation to the court through completing his community service - and he has already been banned by the FA for more than two years. Those people who want to see him banned for life for a misdemeanour that the courts decided was worthy of 100 hours' community service, I think their views are highly inappropriate and misguided."

March 23: Post-match reaction from today's game. DOL talked up the side's league position, and was happy to see a third straight win. "For all that we have come through - some of it is self inflicted - we are in with a chance of a top-four place," he said. "We've given ourselves a chance. Coming into this game, I thought it was going to be like eight cup finals. We've won one, now we've got seven to go." DOL had praise for Robbie Fowler and his finishing - but Dave Bassett could only wish that he had someone half as good available to him. Pointing out Fowler's hat-trick for Liverpool earlier this season, he said: "It comes to something when you can say that Robbie Fowler is the top goal scorer at Filbert Street this season."

March 23: Jon Woodgate will not be selected for England this season - so that's his World Cup hopes gone. Let's hope the defenders picked in his place can do half as good a job as Woody would have done. Dave Bassett had earlier stated that he thought Woodgate should be in the squad, pointing to the examples of Tony Adams - who actually went to prison - and Paul Merson. "Are we going say 'we're going to hold that against you for evermore'?" he asked. "If you are a good enough footballer, you should be picked - and it will be hard if he is going to be kept out on the basis of what happened." In the squads today, Nigel Martyn, Robbie Fowler and Rio Ferdinand (who is injured) were named in the squad for the friendly with Italy at Elland Road. Paul Robinson and Alan Smith were picked for the U21 squads.

March 23: A solid win at Filbert Street today - never really any doubt once Mark Viduka broke his 11 match goal drought even though we're still not looking totally confident, but an injury-riddled Leicester side were never going to be able to do enough to trouble Leeds. Generally good atmosphere all round (though a couple of people reported hearing some of the "less desirable" chants, this seems to be dying out), and a superb reception for Olly - who was captain for the day - and Smithy who took on the armband when injury forced the French star off.

March 23: Old boy news: Clyde Wijnhard went on a free from Huddersfield to Preston last week - he's only recently returned from a serious injury sustained last season in a motor accident. Bob Taylor kept up the Baggies promotion chase last night with a late goal against Forest after coming on as a second half sub. Today David Wetherall scored Bradford's opener as they beat Crewe 2-0.

March 22: More injury bits: Eirik Bakke misses Norway's friendly against Tunisia next week due to a thigh injury. For Leicester, Frank Sinclair could return after missing last weekend's draw at Southampton with a calf injury, but James Scowcroft and Andy Impey are out.

March 22: Lee Bowyer will be making a decision in the next seven days as to whether he'll stay at Leeds or allow himself to be sold. The club have set out the terms of a new contract in front of Bowyer and his team, and chairman Peter Ridsdale said: "I have put numbers to David [Geiss] and I think they are fair in our pay structure and he said he would come back to me no later than Easter week." But will he stay? Rumours today placed him in a hotel in Wales with Phil Thomson and Sammy Lee, with a £15 million plus move to Liverpool mooted. On the incoming side, we're still interested in River Plate's young striker Andres D'Alessandro who might be available for less than £10 million.

March 22: Rio Ferdinand has gone and injured himself in training - straining a knee. So he's now out of contention for the game at Leicester, and has also been pulled out of England's friendly against Italy next week. All of which makes things quite interesting: for Leeds, there's no obvious problem, with Dom Matteo partnering Jon Woodgate at the back and Ian Harte retaining his place at left back. But for England, the possibility of Jon Woodgate getting a game rears its head, just when the powers that be had thought it was behind them. Discussions about his selection have been held, and we're unlikely to know the final outcome until Sven announces his squad on Saturday night, but with Martin Keown out of the picture with a broken leg, Rio injured and Gareth Southgate not exactly a secure incumbent, the chances of Woody - much admired by the England coach - gaining a recall would seem to be on the up, despite the inevitable public breast-beating that would follow. Leeds' greatest-ever left back Tony Dorigo (and yes, I have thought about the brilliant Terry Cooper) is certainly in favour of Woody's return to the international scene: "We do need to get a settled side going into the World Cup. Sven has tinkered with the squad already but there are still one or two places he is unsure about and centre-half must be one of them. Certainly looking to the future I can see Woodgate getting in there and being a rock in the England defence."

March 21: It was PSV's turn to be suckered by a late goal this week - Mark van Bommel had given them the lead at Feyenoord in the 76th minute before Pierre van Hooijdonk got his head on the end of a Brett Emerton cross in the second minute of injury time to level the tie. Extra time saw no further scoring - although there was some incident with van Bommel dismissed for a second bookable offence - so it went to penalties. Both sides showed good form before Georgi Gakhokidze for PSV had his saved and van Hooijdonk stepped up to convert the final kick and win the shoot-out 5-4. In the other games, Hapoel Tel Aviv had their 1-0 first leg advantage overturned by AC Milan, with the Italian side winning 2-0 at the San Siro, and Slovan Liberec were hammered 4-0 by Borussia Dortmund. Nicola Ventola gave Inter a first half lead in the Mestalla, and Valencia were unable to find a reply despite the visitors keeper being dismissed late in the second half, so Inter are through 2-1 on aggregate.

March 21: Good news on the injury front ahead of Saturday's visit to Leicester: both Olivier Dacourt and Harry Kewell have shaken off the knocks picked up against Blackburn and will be fit to play. Dominic Matteo is available again after serving a one-match ban and if he plays it will most likely be at the expense of Ian Harte. Michael Duberry pulled a hamstring in a training session, so will not be available as cheerleader and benchwarmer.

March 21: Today's Leeds-player-heading-for-Italy story concerns Harry Kewell, who was seen in the directors' box at Anfield when AS Roma were playing Liverpool on Tuesday night. He was seen speaking at length with agent Giovanni Branchini during the game, but Peter Ridsdale scotched rumours of an imminent move, pointing out that Branchini represents Harry in Europe, and the meeting was just an opportunity for the two to get together for a chat while the agent was in the UK. The chairman said: "We have great relations with Roma and we would expect them to contact us for permission to speak with the player. If Harry has met the Roma people then they would be in breach of regulations. I have had no approach whatsoever about Harry and therefore I am not concerned."

March 21: So what's the story with Olly? It now seems that a verbal offer was made to Peter Ridsdale in Rome last week, and the chairman told Sergio Cragnotti to put it in writing, and if it was deemed an appropriate value then the offer would be put to the Leeds board this week. The Italian transfer window runs from July 1 to September 1, so he wouldn't be on the move until the summer if Leeds accept, and if Dacourt can agree terms. Lazio's fans have a bit of a reputation for racism - and Sinisa Mihajlovic was fined for racially abusing another player last year - so Lazio might not necessarily be Dacourt's first choice. The player made it clear that he was actually quite happy to stay at Leeds. His agent, Bruno Satin, said: "He has a four-year contract and has no intention of leaving. He's very popular with the fans and his only aim at the moment is to get fourth place and a Champions League position. The boy is happy in Leeds, he is very settled is his life." Further update from this morning: Olly spoke to DOL, and the manager told him that he didn't want him to leave. He said: "Maybe the club have talked with someone before they talked to me but I don't care as I will not go anywhere I don't want to go."

March 20: Wesley Boyle has had his contract with the club terminated "by mutual consent". Boyle's one first-team appearance came in 1996 as a substitute against Newcastle, and has gone to Hull on trial (now there's a phrase I didn't want to have to type again).

March 20: Lazio have agreed a £15.5 million fee with Leeds for Olivier Dacourt according to Lazio president Sergio Cragnotti. Leeds have denied that a deal has been done, but according to the Rome club, all that remains is to agree personal terms. Dacourt joined Leeds from RC Lens less than two years ago for £7.2 million, and would be moving to a club in a very similar situation to Leeds: with a large but manageable debt, and just about challenging for a place in the UEFA Cup.

March 19: Olivier Dacourt (now going to Lazio according to today's rumours) says that DOL's return to a more hands-on role in coaching could be the crucial factor as Leeds strive for a Champions League place. "With the gaffer out it lifted us and everyone was wanting to show him how much they wanted to play," he said. The game against Blackburn was more reflective of what had been going on on the training ground and of what the players were capable. "We're getting back to playing the type of football we know we can play," he said. "With eight matches to go we have to believe that anything is possible."

March 19: Goals but not much success for the old boys tonight. Warren Feeney equalised an early Cambridge goal, but although Bournemouth went ahead in the second half, they were pegged back to 2-2 soon after. Lee Matthews got a late consolation goal for Bristol City - but Chesterfield had scored two and took the points. Carlton Palmer's Stockport - relegated at the weekend - pulled off the shock of the season with two goals in the last five minutes that overturned leaders Man City's one goal lead.

March 19: Robbie Keane, Ian Harte and Gary Kelly have all been included in Mick McCarthy's Ireland squad for the friendly against Denmark at Lansdowne Road next Wednesday.

March 19: Alan Smith is keeping his fingers crossed that his newfound versatility might just be the edge that wins him a place in the England World Cup squad. He's obviously first and foremost a striker, but his willingness to work and play on the right side of midfield have done his confidence a lot of good - and it was from the left wing that he produced a great cross to give Robbie Fowler his second on Sunday. Smith said: "I know I've developed as a player this season which is vital." He added: "The more positions you can play then the better it is for the squad, the manager, and my career." Another positive from Sunday's game was his remarkable calmness in the face of some pretty cynical late challenges from Mark Hughes - the old stager clearly trying to wind him up and provoke a reaction which never came.

March 19: DOL is focusing on Newcastle as the team aim for a Champions League place - and a win this weekend against the bottom side is vital, particularly with Newcastle not in league action due to the FA Cup replay against Arsenal. "Last weekend people will have seen Newcastle at home to Ipswich and expected Newcastle to win. It was the same a couple of weeks ago when Manchester United went to Derby: the bottom line is we have got to go to Leicester and get the maximum three points." He's also hoping that a rejuvenated David Batty will make a big difference in the run-in. After missing the Eindhoven games and only coming on as a sub against Charlton, he's been a lot sharper in the games since. "He badly needed a break but we could not do it because of all the injuries and the suspensions." O'Leary added: "It was lovely to be able to give him that rest because we then brought him back against Ipswich and I thought he was outstanding. I thought he was outstanding again against Blackburn."

March 18: Micky Adams has clarified his "promote me or I'm off" demand of last week that caused a bit of consternation at Leicester. "I feel slightly embarrassed and I'd like to issue an apology to Dave Bassett first of all and to chairman John Elsom and the board of directors. I wouldn't say it was a throwaway quote that I made but all I was trying to reiterate to everybody was that I saw my long-term future as a manager." He added: "I certainly don't think I'm good enough to say 'I want to be manager or I'll quit'. I'm not that naive to think I am that good, that I can hold a gun to people's heads and I certainly don't want to do that."

March 18: Alan Smith and Harry Kewell both picked up knocks in yesterday's victory (hey - you didn't expect tactical substitutions now did you?) but both reckon they will be fit in time for Sunday's visit to Leicester. Smith said it was probably just as well that he was replaced: "I might have aggravated the knee and probably would not have played in the next match. It wouldn't have done the team any good anyway if I had stayed out there only half-hearted."

March 18: John Arne Riise's kid brother is coming to Leeds for a trial this week after Kevin Keegan refused to fork out the £1 million transfer fee set by his club Aalesund. Riise is under contract until the end of the year, and is in dispute with the club - wanting to be released for a smaller fee so he can play abroad - but his club might just hold on and let him go on a Bosman rather than capitulate and sell him for little financial return.

March 18: Dominic Matteo was named in Berti Vogts' first Scotland squad, to face France in a friendly next week. Vogts has gone for youth rather than experience, having failed to persuade Duncan Ferguson or Gary McAllister to come out of international retirement and help the team qualify for Euro 2004.

March 18: Gary Kelly isn't going anywhere, according to the club. They denied yesterday's reports of a link-up with Sunderland, saying that they were unaware of any interest in the right-back. Other reports today say he *is* going and the Smithy will move too, but it's unlikely Sunderland would have much to tempt the young striker with. Leeds are also said to be in talks to bring Mattias Almeyda in on loan from Parma. Just at the point when Batty, Bowyer, Bakke, Dacourt, Kewell and Wilcox are all getting to be fit/free of suspension we want to take an expensive midfielder on loan. Right....

March 18: Harry Kewell has picked up another award - voted in as Oceania Player of the Year by sportswriters Down Under. He beat Mark Viduka to the title by just 4 votes to win it for the second time.

March 18: Further comments from DOL after yesterday's game: "The table has a healthier look about it. It is going to be difficult but we have given ourselves a fighting chance." Hopefully I've been reading too many weekend tabloids, so the following sentence doesn't imply there are any transfer dealings afoot: "For the price we got him for I am delighted. He will always score goals, no matter who he plays for." Looking forward to this weekend's visit to Leicester, he said: "It is a tough but winnable game for us and we have to try to get the maximum number of points because Newcastle are playing in the cup and a win would put us just two points behind them in the league."

March 17: Round Europe we go, and we'll start in Holland. Ajax beat Heerenveen 2-0 this afternoon and remain top - 5 points clear of Feyenoord who have a game in hand and who kept up the pressure with a 3-0 win over Den Bosch. PSV were less successful, only managing a goalless draw at fifth-placed Vitesse Arnhem.

A 0-2 win over Stuttgart yesterday kept Bayer Leverkusen at the top of the Bundesliga, but a 1-5 win over Freiburg for Borussia Dortmund today kept the gap down to just a point. Only goal difference now separates Bayern in third from Schalke in fourth after Schalke's 1-2 win at 1860 Munich this afternoon followed Bayern's goalless draw at Kaiserslauten, despite the home side finishing with just 10 men.

Lyon's abysmal away form let them down again as they slumped to a 2-0 defeat at Lille - they are six points behind leaders Lens who failed to press home their advantage, losing 2-1 at Bordeaux tonight. PSG are just two points behind Lyon now after a 3-1 win over Troyes - a result that leaves L'Estac in 7th place and hoping for an InterToto place again. Auxerre came from two goals down at home to Metz to win 3-2 and could move up into 2nd place midweek if they win one of their two games in hand on the other contenders.

By special request, we stop off in the land of great cheap beer (if my memories from two years ago aren't too addled) and take a look at the Gambrinus Liga in the Czech Republic. They're having a similar year to several other leagues around Europe, with normal winners Sparta Prague only just clear at the top, and our opponents of two years ago Slavia languishing in mid-table. Round 22 this weekend saw a 1-1 draw between leaders Sparta and second-placed Viktoria Zizkov - which was a good result for home side Zizkov since they took a 4th minute lead but were down to 10 men before 20 minutes were up. Slovan Liberec - who have lasted longer than us in the UEFA Cup - failed to take advantage, only managing a goalless draw at Sigma Olomouc.

There's no stopping Vincenzo Montella at the moment - the Roma striker scored his second hat-trick in two games as his side temporarily climbed to the top of the pile in Italy on Saturday with a 3-1 win over Atalanta (which is where Man U reject keeper Massimo Taibi is now plying his trade). Inter jumped back to the top this afternoon with two goals from Alvaro Recoba took the points from Lecce. Juve are just a point behind the leading two after Pavel Nedved's goal proved to be enough to beat Verona. Next weekend sees the top two meeting at the San Siro in what could be a championship decider. In the trailing pack both Bologna and Chievo could only manage draws against the bottom two sides Fiorentina and Venezia, all of which let Milan jump up into 6th place with a 2-1 win over Torino tonight.

In Spain, Real Madrid crept back to the top of the pile on Saturday with a 1-1 draw at the Nou Camp, in a game that was disrupted by some of the anti-globalisation crowd who had nothing better to do with their time once all the world leaders had gone home. Deportivo are coming up fast on the rails though, and a Diego Tristan hat-trick saw them to a 1-3 victory over Osasuna and third place, just two points off leaders Madrid and Valencia. Real Betis struggled to a 1-1 draw at relegation-chasing Real Zaragoza and so lost their chance to reclaim third spot today There were wins for Celta Vigo - 3-2 at home to Las Palmas - and Athletic Bilbao - who came back from two goals down to win by a similar margin at Alaves - and both of these clubs jump over Barca in the table. It remains tight though - just 4 points cover the 5 teams in 3rd to 7th places. Last round's leaders Valencia suffered a hugely surprising defeat to bottom club Rayo Vallecano tonight, despite going a goal up in the first half and playing the last 25 minutes against 10 men.

March 17: Post-match reaction of course sees DOL over the moon at Leeds' second win in succession. "It was a good start to a good game. Even though we were 2-0 up we could have really killed the game off completely because I felt we could have scored more in the first 15 minutes before Blackburn had even started to play." He still talks about a Champions League place as a goal, but isn't counting any chickens yet, saying: "Hopefully this is the start of things turning for us, but I won't get carried away because I know this game can kick you right in the face." Graeme Souness, by contrast, was disgusted with the way his team gave away two early goals. "That was as weak a performance my team has put in since I have been at this club. It's the easiest three points Leeds will get in the Premier League this year." From my armchair I thought that Blackburn came back into the game well, but Souness was extremely negative about his side's display: "I think the second goal was offside, but that doesn't matter because we didn't deserve anything and we got nothing, so I am deeply disappointed, particularly given the position we are in."

March 17: A cracking start today saw Leeds spring into an early lead and it should have been more before half-time. Blackburn were never out of it though, with Damien Duff and Matt Jansen both giving the defence something to think about. Seconds after Brad Friedel pulled off a stunning save to keep Blackburn in it, DMIFB and Woody confused each other and left Jansen running clean through on goal - he made no mistake and it was a slightly shaky 20 minutes before a Leeds break got the ball wide to Harry Kewell for a clinical finish to seal the points.

March 17: Gary Kelly is rumoured to be the first player out of the door in the Grand Summer Clearout, according to the Sunday People today. He will make a switch to Sunderland this week for a relatively low fee according to the report.

March 17: Danny Mills' optimism truly knows no bounds. With just two games to show his league form to Uncle Sven, he's talking up his chances of making the squad. "My belief is that if you're good enough for England you'll be in the squad. Everybody has the odd indiscretion.... It didn't affect David Beckham when he got sent off against Argentina." He pointed out that over his whole career he's not had that bad a disciplinary record. He was remorseful over the incident at Newcastle: "What I did shouldn't have happened. You do things in the heat of the moment that you instantly regret. What you have to do is learn from those and hopefully some good will come out of it."

March 16: The Academy side beat Watford 1-0 in the first of their play-off games. Wrexham and Crystal Palace make up the rest of the group - which is played on a round-robin basis over the next couple of weeks.

March 16: Old boy round-up for today. Brian Deane scored two goals for Leicester to give them hope at St Marys - but Marian Pahars scored from the spot with just 3 minutes to go to add to his earlier goal and squaring the match. Stephen McPhail's debut for Millwall didn't go the way he wanted - he was red-carded on 81 minutes for violent conduct. Millwall boss Mark McGhee described the tackle as "clumsy" and thought that the ref's decision wasn't unfair but was a bit harsh. Kevin Sharp - now at Wrexham - also saw red today - due to play-acting by the opposition according to Wrexham's website - his side slumped to a 4-1 defeat by lowly Northampton today. Carlton Palmer's Stockport finally got beyond the mathematical point of no return today - they became the first team to have their fate determined this season as defeat at Wimbledon saw them relegated. Not Leeds-related, but worthy of comment was the game at Bramall Lane, where Sheffield United keeper Simon Tracey was sent off early on and was later joined for an early bath for two of his team-mates as West Brom went into a 0-3 lead. But with all subs used, a Sheffield United player went down injured and was unable to continue, leaving United with just 7 players and the ref having no choice but to abandon the game. The Football League will rule on what happens next sometime next week.

March 16: According to an academic analysis, Leeds fans don't have a great variety of songs and aren't very good singers. In fact, we come 16th out of 20 teams in the PL - only Fulham, Villa, Spurs and Bolton are better according to the survey, which looked at variety, rhythm and tunes as well as absolute volume.

March 16: Danny Mills has been taking the "hopeless optimist" tablets during his absence from the league side. He said:"If we win the nine games and get 27 points then there's every chance we will get into the Champions League." Back down on Planet Earth he added: "Realistically, we can certainly pick up more than 20 points, and hopefully we will do that." He's hoping to use the next two games to impress Sven Goran Erickson and convince him to include Mills in the squad for the World Cup. And he doesn't see the Blackburn game as an easy ride: "They are going tobe desperate for three points as well. They are still too close to the relegation zone for comfort, so it's going to be a tough, battling game."

March 16: Stephen McPhail is hoping that his move to Millwall will come just in time to revive his international chances ahead of the World Cup. He spoke to international colleagues Richard Sadlier and Steven Reid, and was impressed with what he heard about the setup. He added: "With all the Irish lads here I've always kept an eye on the club's results, and it's nice to see some friendly faces."

March 15: Mickey Adams has indicated that he will resign if he is left in limbo at Leicester. It's expected that Dave Bassett will be booted upstairs - but his successor will need a combimation of good brainwork and good coaching skills - and Adams has had some success at Fulham and Brighton and wants to progress further. "I want to be a manager next season. I'll be a manager at Leicester City - or somewhere else." I'd set your sights a bit higher mate!

March 15: Hey - we've been linked with another left back! This time it's Heerenveen's 23-year-old Swedish player Erik Edman. Heerenveen moved into 4th place in the Dutch league - just a point behind PSV and Feyenoord after their win in midweek, in which Edman once again impressed the observers. He's already been attached to clubs back home in Norway, in Italy an Germany before winding up in Holland at a club which is clearly no slouch. And would he move? "It's cool that it is Leeds, they are no small club we are talking about." So that's a maybe I guess.

March 15: Craig Short and Andy Cole are suspended from Sunday's game - as is Dominic Matteo after his dismissal at Everton. Jon Woodgate looks set to return to the defence, but it might be a game too early for Seth Johnson. Danny Mills has now completed his domestic ban and will be back, and Blackburn's Matt Jansen is over a stomach bug and will almost certainly be partnered by recent signing Yordi up front.

March 15: All of a sudden everyone wants to stay at Elland Road. Peter Ridsdale has refused/never received (delete where applicable) a £20 million offer for Olly from Lazio. Of course, Olly would never consider leaving. Meanwhile, nothing can contain the delirium and sheer joy that Mark Viduka feels about playing for Leeds: "There is always going to be speculation at this time of the season. It is the time when clubs make plans to change their teams, but there is a really long way from being linked to other clubs to actually moving. I like being here in England. I like Leeds and being part of this team and to be honest I don't feel like moving anywhere."

March 15: Stephen McPhail is set to make his Millwall debut against Sheffield Wednesday tomorrow afternoon at the New Den. Might go along and give him some support (if the body armour has been washed).

March 14: UEFA quarter-final day (sob) and only one team has come out of it with a lead. Step forward Hapoel Tel Aviv, 1-0 winners over the mighty AC Milan. How we laughed when Chelsea found themselves knocked out by this colossus of football - could they go all the way? There was a goal either side of half-time in Eindhoven - Mateja Kezman equalising Pierre van Hooijdonk's injury time opener two minutes into the second half. The game finished 1-1, so Feyenoord will probably be happier having scored an away goal. There was a similar result in the San Siro, where Inter went a goal up through Materazzi, saw visitors Valencia reduced to ten men just five minutes later, and then watched as Rufete scored a vital away goal to take the match back to the Mestalla all square. Slovan Liberec and Borussia Dortmund shared a goalless draw at Sparta Prague's Letna stadium.

March 14: Knock me down with a feather! Both Smithy and Vidooks were cleared by the FA this morning and will not receive any punishment. The FA declared that both incidents arose from contact that was normal in a physical sport. Patrick Vieira was cleared of an elbow on JFH in a separate hearing in the afternoon.

March 14: Danny Hay is our latest long-term casualty to go under the knife. He's been having intermittent problems for 18 months now, and will face an exploratory op on his stomach next week to try to find out once and for all what the cause is.

March 14: Alan Smith has learnt his lesson, and promises to do better at keeping his temper on a leash in the future. "I know that I can control myself when I am playing, people would have seen me prove that when we were playing in the Champions League last season - apart from the semi-final of course." He also made an almost valid point about his most recent dismissal: "Everyone jumped on the bandwagon and started having a go at me but if you ask anyone about that incident then they would say that I did not deserve to be sent off." Anyone other than Andy D'Urso and the FA unfortunately. Whatever - the proof of the pudding will be seen next season.

March 13: We're being linked with so many left backs it's inevitable that the occupant of the number 3 shirt next season will be none other than Ian Harte. After West Brom's Neil Clement, the latest in a long line of vehement deniers is Coventry's Marcus Hall. I'm not clear as to whether we're working on a region-by-region basis, or just working our way down the divisions. Either way, Stoke and Port Vale had better watch out... So where is Harte going? Rumour of the Day says that Inter have made an offer for the left back.

March 13: It's a big day for Leeds tomorrow with the FA hearing the cases against Alan Smith and Mark Viduka. Smith's collision with Graeme Le Saux will almost certainly be ruled as deliberate, and he will be offered the choice of a life ban or deportation to Outer Mongolia. Viduka's tangle with Martin Keown will probably be dealt with a similar severity: even though there's no clear evidence against the player he will be offered the choice of a lengthy ban or a court order forbidding him to come within 100 metres of any pie shop, burger joint or pizza shed in West Yorkshire. Shares in McDonalds dropped 20% as news of this drastic punishment became public.

March 13: Stephen McPhail has gone on loan to promotion-chasing Millwall to the end of the season. Bearing in mind the limited chances that have been afforded to him this season, this looks like a precursor to a more permanent departure. Lions' manager Mark McGhee was pleased to land his man after several attempts - although he admits that he won't be able to make the move permanent at the moment (though promotion to the top flight would make some more money available). "Stephen is an international class midfielder who I hope will encourage us to play a bit more football over the remaining games." Realistically, the best Millwall can hope for is a play-off berth, but they're in the right position at the moment and just need to keep their form over the next month or so to put themselves three games away from the Premiership.

March 13: JFH scored a hat-trick against Spurs in tonight's London derby, with the visitors unable to reply. That's Chelsea's game in hand on us gone - but it moves them 2 points above us and with a superior goal difference. We've got to keep up the pressure if we want to avoid the I****-T***.

March 12: Jon Woodgate has now finished the 100 hours of community service imposed on him by the court in Hull last year and so is nominally available for England selection. However, the FA will want to talk about this interminably in the hope that the problem will go away, and with just the Blackburn and Leicester games to play ahead of the Elland Road friendly against Italy, and with Woody just back in full training after an injury it looks like the powers that be will get their wish and the embarassment of England being represented by a man with a criminal record will go away of its own accord. It's only recently that they were happy for the team to be managed by someone about whom a judge had some very uncomplimentary things to say - I wonder if we didn't have Rio Ferdinand and Sol Campbell would their attitude be any different? Speaking of differing attitudes - did anyone see the Spurs/Chelsea game on Sunday? Reffed by our good friend Mr D'Urso, this match featured an off-the-ball kick on a Chelsea defender by Les Ferdinand: what's the betting that the card he produced would have been red instead of yellow if it had been Alan Smith doing the kicking? Considering this is the prat who refused to reconsider his decision over Smith's sending off at Cardiff, I think we can fairly conclude that he is a clueless buffoon who is incapable of evenhandedly applying the laws of the game, and that those high-minded individuals in the FA's Temple of Propriety in Soho Square will find themselves with no alternative but to dispense with his services immediately.

March 12: The reserves are in action at Sheffield Wednesday tonight - but it's a very different side to the one which lost 3-1 against Sunderland last week, with only Paul Robinson and Stephen McPhail from the first team squad scheduled to appear. Update: Shane Cansdell-Sherriff scored the only goal of the game with a header after 21 minutes to secure a Leeds win.

March 12: Robbie Fowler was excused training today so that he could go to Cheltenham to see his racehorse in action. Seebald - jointly owned with his former (and future?) colleague Steve McManaman - finished second in the 2:35.

March 12: Lee Bowyer is either ready to sign on the dotted line as early as next week - or is lined up for further talks on his future depending on who you believe. The club seem pretty hopeful that - despite the minor problems surround his fine in December - he's happy to stay at the club and is willing to commit to an extension to keep him at Leeds for five more years. Other arrivals or departures: Mark Iuliano (who he?) the Italian international defensive midfielder is unsettled at Juve and will be allowed to leave, and a bid from Leeds might just succeed, since the very top Italian teams can be very reluctant to let their players go to Serie A rivals (unless it's for a HUGE pile of cash). And Leeds are now ready to listen to people wanting to pick up Danny Milosevic - with Nigel Martyn and Paul Robinson in place - and Shaun Allaway coming through - there's not going to be much opportunity for the Aussie U-23 keeper to make his mark and Wolves could be interested in the player they briefly had on loan last year.

March 11: Not much real news today, so here's a quick dump of the transfer garbage doing the rounds. First up, let's have a good laugh at Alex Ferguson - he was in Rome "on holiday" yesterday, apparently watching Alessandro Nesta in the Rome derby. The fact that the defender was subbed at half-time after seeing his side ship three first-half goals. Leeds are interested in signing West Brom's left back Neil Clement - what's wrong with Wayne Bridge guys? And Olly's agent now says he's happy at the club and is "99% certain" to still be here next year. Bruno Satin (smooth operator?) said: "Everything you read last week has not been said by Dacourt. The situation is very clear, he is at Leeds and I hope he will stay with Leeds. It is a good club with a good chairman, and everything has been done to strengthen the team." And Michael Duberry has once again said he wants to stay and fight for a starting place: "Some say I should go to a lesser club and play more football and there have been times when I've thought about that, but this is the career path I decided to take and I'm determined to fight for my place."

March 10: So what's the transfer story this weekend then? Well, not much really - Kevin Keegan is interested in signing Alan Smith or Robbie Keane. And Peter Ridsdale clarifies (a little) the summer clearout situation: "We could see five go and two come in. But we're not talking about selling the crown jewels. Players like Rio Ferdinand and Robbie Fowler are going nowhere." So farewell then to....?

March 10: Round Europe in a flash: let's start with Holland where there were convincing wins for the top three, with Ajax, Feyenoord and PSV all scoring 4 goals and winning - our nemesis Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink picking up two goals, and Kevin Hofland seeing red on the hour. Heerenveen kept up the chase with a 2-0 win over RKC and are 4 points adrift of PSV but have a game in hand.

The top three won in the Bundesliga as well. Bayer Leverkusen had a comfortable 2-0 win over Energie Cottbus, and second-placed Borussia Dortmund finally returned to winning ways with a 3-1 win over Borussia Moenchengladbach in a game that saw an own goal for each side. Bayern missed a penalty and needed all of the second half injury time that was made available to them to grab a winner against city rivals 1860. This afternoon Bart Goor helped Hertha Berlin do wonders for their goal difference - scoring 4 of his side's 6 unanswered goals at home to SV Hamburg.

Roma jumped up to the top of Serie A this afternoon with a stunning 1-5 demolition of local rivals Lazio - striker Vincenzo Montella scoring 3 goals in the first half, and another in the second before skipper Francesco Totti finally managed to get another name on the score sheet for the "away" team. They jump ahead of Inter and Juve who drew 2-2 in the San Siro with Clarence Seedorf nicking his second goal of the game deep into injury time to salvage a point for the home side and former leaders. Bologna now strengthen their hold on fourth place, winning 2-0 at home to Milan while Chievo could only manage a 2-2 draw at Torino after going a man down halfway through the first half.

In France there were no weekend league games - but midweek saw wins for Lens, Lyon and PSG so there's no change at the top. Troyes also got back to winning ways, but are in 7th place - 5 points behind Bordeaux. It was cup quarter-finals instead - PSG were surprisingly beaten by Lorient, and they now join Sedan, Bastia and Nimes in the semis.

The ref had a lot to do at the Mestalla tonight - 11 bookings were dished out, two leading to red cards when Sevilla came to town. Valencia scored the only goals of the game - both in the second half - and maintain their one point lead at the top of La Liga. Real Madrid shrugged off their disappointing King's Cup performance in midweek to beat Villareal 3-0 at the Bernabeu yesterday and keep up the chase in second. Real Betis are 4 points behind Madrid in third place, and scored all three goals (one into their own net) as they beat Barcelona 2-1 on Saturday. Deportivo are a further point back - slipping off the pace slightly as they threw away an early lead from Walter Pandiani by having a player sent off in the 14th minute and allowing bottom side Rayo Vallecano to get a goal back and leave the Riazor with a share of the points.

It's a two-horse race now in Portugal - Porto's 0-3 defeat on Friday night and Sporting and Boavista winning this weekend gives the top two an 8 point lead. Maritimo are 7th - but could be up to 5th if they beat Guimaraes tomorrow night.

March 10: Leeds Ladies drew 1-1 with Doncaster at Bracken Edge this afternoon. England captain Karen Walker was a bit too vocal in a disagreement with a linesman and was dismissed after 30 minutes, but the visitors still managed to take the lead in the second half. Lucy Ward equalised for Leeds shortly after that, and that's how it finished: Leeds remain in second place although Doncaster have games in hand.

March 10: Noel Whelan scored the first goal for Boro as they netted three in just seven minutes against Everton in today's FA Cup quarter-final. Everton had no reply, so Boro are through to their second ever FA Cup semi where they'll face the winners of Arsenal and Newcastle's replay. In the other quarters today, Chelsea demolished Spurs at White Hart Lane (Mr Sweetness and Light Le Saux walking with a red card close to full time when Chelsea were leading 0-4) and Fulham squeaked past West Brom at the Hawthorns.

March 10: Rob from the Bristol City Net Centre has this to say: "Harpal Singh was the breath of fresh air everyone had hoped he would be, taking players on from the word go, endless running, got past their full back with ease and got to the byline to deliver a stream of dangerous crosses in the first half, which we really should have made more of." Reminds me of a young lad who used to play for Leeds....what was his name again... Harry something or other?

March 09: Gordon Strachan is the latest in what seems to be an unending line of people queuing up to dump on the Leeds fans who shouted for Brian Kidd's head at Everton. He said: "Everybody in professional football accepts that expectations can be unreasonably high and that the reaction of fans towards chairmen, managers and players when these are not fulfilled is liable to be nothing if not ugly. However, when disgruntled supporters start pouring abuse on members of a club's backroom staff - as has happened in the case of Brian Kidd at Leeds United - you do wonder where on earth it is all going to end." He's not surprised by the warmth shown towards Kidd by the players, pointing out that it's usually the number 2 who is the "soft cop" in the team. Okay guys - you've all made your point and now that we've got a win the boo boys will be quiet about it all for a while. Now can we get on with the football?

March 09: Warren Feeney scored Bournemouth's opener against Northampton this afternoon. The visitors equalised on half-time - despite having been reduced to 10 men on 39 minutes. The second half was a bit more one-way, with Feeney scoring the Cherries' fourth goal as they romped to a 5-1 win. Jason Blunt scored Scarborough's equaliser as they came back from a goal down at home to Stevenage. Mark Jackson was also on target in the very last minute for Scunthorpe as they beat Hull 0-1. Harpal Singh made his debut for Bristol City, playing alongside Lee Matthews - and apparently did well throughout the game and forcing Cambridge's keeper into a good save as they won 2-0 to keep up their hopes of securing a play-off spot. On their official website, Harpal seemed very pleased with his (temporary) new home: "The fans were tremendous to me. I go out to entertain specators and hopefully I can do that here. I love the way the team play and I felt at home straight away."

March 09: Flattery will get you - almost - everywhere if you're Berti Vogts. Gary McAllister has said that he will speak to the new Scotland boss after all: "I've not spoken to him yet, but I've heard what he has said about me in interviews. Out of courtesy, I'll speak to him. It'll be interesting to hear what he has to say, what his thoughts are on the upcoming campaign. If I can help in anyway, I'll be willing." He's also been linked with a possible move to Rangers with new boss Alex Mcleish admitting an interest. McAllister said: "I'm flattered to be linked with Rangers. I never thought at my age that I'd get a move to Liverpool so I would never say never."

March 09: Peter Ridsdale has decided that this summer will be best spent at Elland Road - no doubt manning the phones as Leeds try to get rid of a net 4 players worth of talent. He had been intending to go to the World Cup to keep an eye on players out there and to rustle up some sponsorship.

March 09: Harry Kewell has continued the co-ordinated fan-slatng after the anti-Kidd chants at Everton. In an article in today's Times he says: "Any fan should see that abuse for one of the coaches is not going to help us get out of a rut." He admits that his form hasn't been great of late and that DOL has had a bit of a go at him. Unlike Olivier Dacourt, he's not talking up his prospects of moving - and after Inter's president saw him in action on Wednesday and reportedly wondered what all the fuss was about and why he should consider paying £20 million or more for a player who was barely involved maybe that's not surprising. But he does say that another season without silverware must be seen as underachievement and doesn't come across as too downhearted, saying: "We have a duty to ourselves to finish as high as we can and, in the meantime, I would like to prove a few people wrong."

March 09: There's a big game for the Ladies side at Bracken Edge tomorrow: they take on Doncaster Belles in the Premier League who are just three points behind them, albeit with several games in hand. It only costs £2 to get in for adults and £1 for concessions, and all proceeds go to the Radio Aire "Cash for Kids" charity.

March 08: Darren Huckerby continued his excellent run of form for Man City with the first goal in a 0-2 win at Bradford that took City back to the top of Division 1 and looking well on course for promotion.

March 08: The trading figures for the plc showed an expected drop when they were published today. What with the failure to qualify for the Champions League and the additional signings of Robbie Fowler and Seth Johnson, it was always expected that there would be a deficit. Revenue in the second half of last year was £38.3 million - down £1.7 million on the same period in 2000. There was an operating loss - before transfers - of £2.4 million compared with a profit of £6.2 million last time. Gate receipts were also down, but the payroll cost increased by a massive 22%. Peter Ridsdale said: "Our priority for the remainder of this season will be to qualify once more for a European competition with our ultimate objective being once again qualifying for the Champions League," and he went on to state that players would have to be sold to balance the books, with an aim to get the squad size down by 4 for next season. Lucas Radebe will almost certainly be one of those four - but bringing in no income. It's looking increasingly likely that the other three will be Viduka (Roma), Dacourt (Juve) and Kewell (Real Madrid) - and taken together the fees we could expect from those three could instantly leave O'Leary looking at a small profit - rather than a massive deficit - on his transfer dealings over the 3.5 years he's been at the helm and thus strengthen his case for a little more spending to rebalance the squad (McManaman to link up with his old mate Fowler and ideally Wayne Bridge from Southampton to provide us with a left back who can defend as well as attack). Meanwhile a couple of fringe players (Burns, McPhail, maybe Milosevic if Shaun Alloway has impressed enough) will also be allowed to leave to trim the overall wage bill. Will this be a bad thing? Probably not - although the likes of Dacourt, Kewell and Viduka are quality players, their departure could fund the arrival of a couple of pretty decent bodies, freshen things up within the squad and seriously improve the overall financial position of the side. Meanwhile we do need to get our act together on the Youth front again - maybe Andy Ritchie will be able to get the production line up and running again.

March 07: Despite the presence of so many stars, the reserves lost 1-3 at home to Sunderland tonight - Robbie Keane with the only goal for Leeds.

March 07: Harpal Singh has gone on loan to Bristol City for a month to help the Robins push for a play-off place.

March 07: Would you like fries with your transfer rumour sir? Viduka to Deportivo in the summer says the Daily Mail (but he's already signed for Roma according to "informed sources"). Keane to Boro where he can compete against recently on-form ex-Leeds lad Noel Whelan in yet another season of relegation avoidance (I don't think). Inter have confirmed that they were told it would cost them £30 million for Harry Kewell (which was presumably an "enquiry" rather than an "offer", allowing Mr Ridsdale's verbal gymnastics to remain true).

March 07: The wheels of justice in Turkey continue to grind on to an eventual conclusion. Prosecutors today called for the dismissal of all charges against 12 of the 19 men who have been accused in connection with the deaths of Chris Loftus and Kevin Speight due to lack of evidence. Four men are charged with killing the two, but since it's unclear exactly who struck the fatal blow the maximum sentence will now be 15 years instead of 30. Five men have been charged with fighting and one faces a concealed weapons charge. Ali Umit Demir - the main suspect - remains in jail until the trial resumes on a new date of April 4 when a verdict may finally be reached.

March 07: Danny Mills will be in Leeds' City Centre store on Monday to promote a new range of dual-branded Leeds/England clothing ahead of the World Cup this summer. I'd like to think he'll be out there, but realistically there's only Rio likely to start any of the games now that David Seaman's fit, and Robbie Fowler still has a little bit to prove to Sven if he wants to be more than just a sub in the summer.

March 07: The reserves will be playing Sunderland at Bootham Crescent tonight - despite worries that the recent adverse weather would leave the pitch unplayable. Jon Woodgate is expected to return to action as he tries to get himself fit in time to replace the to-be-suspended Dom Matteo when we play next. Danny Mills - whose suspension is now over - will also take some part, along with a few other first-team squad members anxious for some match practice.

March 07: So everyone's happy and the fans are now great. After the public show of support from the players on Monday, Brian Kidd was warmly welcomed by the crowd in the West Stand, and Ian Harte's goal celebration made it clear that the team stand squarely behind the coach. "The crowd were brilliant, they were absolutely brilliant," said O'Leary. Meanwhile, back on the pitch he was obviously pleased with the result and what it means for next season. "We want a top four place - that was our target - but we're striving for automatic European football. If we can get it in the Champions League, then brilliant. If it's the UEFA Cup we'll be delighted under the circumstances." Mark Viduka pointed at the side's recent bad luck, and was glad that it has finally changed. "Everybody has been giving us a bit of stick recently because of the bad results, but it is not all doom and gloom as we are not that far off the pace. In football, anything is possible and we can catch Newcastle - whether we do catch them remains to be seen."

March 06: Other significant or interesting things from the other games tonight. Chelsea gave up the lead twice at home to Fulham but Forssell scored the fifth goal of the game to keep them hot on Leeds' trail - a point behind, with a game in hand and better goal difference. Noel Whelan found the net for Boro at Southampton - his goal equalising Saints' first half effort from Svensson. Andy Gray scored the first of Forest's two equalisers at home to Wolves - a 2-2 draw will be seen as dropped points for the league leaders from Molineux.

March 06: Wow! The first goal in 440 minutes was followed by another, just 30 minutes later. And then we made a substitution. Aaaarrrgghhhh! That's just the sort of result we should have been getting in other games this season, but maybe we've turned the corner at last. But after the latest batch of dross in the press I still think it's time for a serious change - of behaviour if not personnel - in the management of both on and off-field activities at Leeds.

March 06: Rio Ferdinand has come through his race to be fit for tonight's game after his back injury at the weekend. Olivier Dacourt is close to being fit and may start on the bench.

March 06: We're all a disgrace according to our wonderful manager. We lack faith and we don't show any passion. That's the way to get us all behind you David! "It is a test of where the fans are at, I would like to see them really get behind the team, what is lacking among the players is a bit of confidence and strong support can do them a world of good." We tried that for some time David - when it didn't work we switched to hunting a scapegoat. He reckons that we don't get behind the team for the whole game - "But that is the way Leeds fans are and that is the way it has always been here." Makes you wonder why he bothers to get out of bed in the morning. Oh, hold on, I remember - it's because our support helps to pay him a reported £1.5 million a year. That will cushion the blow of having to manage a team supported by such a bunch of sad cases like us. I don't care what the result is tonight - but this really is the final straw. There's no alternative available but if this is what he really thinks then O'Leary should go now.

March 06: Carlton Palmer has been charged with misconduct by the FA following his comments about the ref who sent him off last week. They're only doing it to burst his bubble after Stockport finally recorded a win against Bradford last night.

March 06: Yet another blindingly crap piece of press management by Leeds appeared in the papers today. Olivier Dacourt - who has not exactly kept his ambitions under cover - today says that he will nobly leave the club in order to keep it alive. "Leeds will have to sell lots of players in the summer because from what I have been told they need to pay back something like £60 million from June." He added: "Joining Juve would be a dream for me, when a great club like that shows an interest in you, you do not close the door." On the positive side, this did appear in that well-known paper of record, the Daily Star. On the downside it seems that O'Leary's ghost writer - the Leeds communications director - has once again allowed the blunderbuss to be loaded, aimed at our foot and done nowt to stop the trigger being pulled. We are turning into a total laughing stock.

March 05: Very belated Euro-round-up held over from the weekend. Feyenoord and Ajax drew 1-1 in Holland - which was good news for PSV who had their match with Heerenveen cancelled and are in third place, level with Feyenoord and just 5 points behind Ajax with a game in hand.

In France there weren't many games played at the weekend - and tonight's game between Marseille and Auxerre was abandoned due to rain. Leaders Lens were 0-2 down at home to bottom side Metz with 20 minutes to go but pulled it back to scramble a point with a penalty two minutes from time. Lille are now in 5th - level on points with PSG in 4th - after a 1-0 win at home to Troyes.

Freiburg with two goals up at home to Bundesliga top dogs Bayer Leverkusen, but their visitors equalised and remain a point clear of Borussia Dortmund at the top after they could only draw 1-1 at home to 2nd bottom St Pauli on Sunday. Four points now cover the top four, with Kaiserslauten and Bayern both winning at the weekend.

It's now formally a four-horse raise for the Scudeto. Inter were victorious in the Milan derby thanks to a goal from Vieri and now top the table. Juve are second after coming from behind to beat 4th-placed Bologna 2-1 thanks to a late own goal. Roma slipped this weekend, with a 1-1 draw at Lecce but they're 9 points clear of Bologna.

Things are looking more and more familiar in Spain: Valencia top La Liga after winning 0-1 at Real Zaragoza, but Real Madrid remain in close pursuit with a late Raul goal securing them the points at Celta Vigo. Roy Makaay scored the only goal of the game for Deportivo La Coruna as they won at Sevilla, and fourth place is now occupied by Barca, who demolished 5-1 at the Nou Camp with a Kluivert hat-trick.

March 05: In his first sensible utterance in months, DOL has told Leeds fans to forget about Manchester United. "I will leave it to the fans how they react, but I think they should forget about Manchester United and start supporting Leeds." Couldn't agree more David. I'm sick and tired of being in a crowd more interested in standing up if they hate Man U than marching altogether.

March 05: Team news for tomorrow: Rio is in with a chance of returning, but Olivier Dacourt will remain sidelined, Jon Woodgate needs a couple of reserve games before returning and Lee Bowyer and Danny Mills remain suspended domestically (though it is the last game of Mills' ban). John McGreal missed Ipswich's 1-3 defeat by Southampton on Saturday due to a suspension and will return - probably displacing Titus Bramble. Sixto Peralta remains on the injury list for the visitors, with Chris Makin and Jermaine Wright also facing late fitness tests. The ref will be Dermot Gallagher, whose only Leeds game this season was the sensibly-reffed match at Old Trafford. Let's hope he does the same again tomorrow.

March 05: Peter Ridsdale will face no further action following his attempt to communicate with Leeds fans at Everton on Sunday. Although the local police weren't too impressed - and wrote to the FA and both clubs over the incident, the FA are satisfied that Ridsdale was simply trying to calm the fans down rather than incite them.

March 05: DOL was talking about what might happen in the summer, and with some departures already clearly on the cards, he's talking things up by speaking about the arrivals. His comments also had a bit of a dig at the current squad: "We've got to get people hungry again we need competition for places. There are two players I want though there are definitely going to be a few players going out in the summer to freshen it up." He went on: "Bobby Robson said to me - 'never be afraid to sell a player because there is always someone to replace him'. He also said he had always worried about our crowd being strange and fickle." Fickle? A sight more loyal than the Geordies who deserted St James in their dark days I'd say! On the transfer front, Empoli's sporting director has indicated that Leeds are interested in Australian midfielder Marco Bresciano. No other English clubs are currently in the chase - but Inter and Juve have been mentioned as keeping an eye on the situation.

March 05: More on the training front. So DOL has confidence in Brian Kidd - but he's decided to get involved with the full training sessions from now on. Sounds like a vote of confidence to me (or, to be fair, putting himself into a position where he has clear and direct responsibility for the team). DOL said: "When the manager is not there, training is never the same. There is always more tempo when the boss is there. Brian's sessions are interesting but if he is one per cent short of being the complete coach it is that he should be a bit more confrontational with players. He lets them get away with things I don't think he should." Former Man U player Clayton Blackmore was another to back Kidd: "You can't point the finger at one - on a Saturday, you can point the finger at eleven - it is the ones who are on the field who are not winning the games. I think it's very narrow minded of them just to point the finger at Kiddo. David O'Leary has the final word on who plays, and then it is down to the players on the field."

March 05: John Charles was awarded the freedom of his native Swansea yesterday in a ceremony in the town. Charles is without question the greatest player ever to pull on a Leeds shirt and was also voted all-time number one foreign player by the fans of Juventus. A few of the current squad would do well to look at his career and follow his example (but NOT by going to Juventus I hope!).

March 04: DOL has said that he will now personally take all of the training sessions - at least to the end of the season. To keep his workload under control, he's left the first hour or so of the session to Brian Kidd for several months. He's not lost confidence in Kidd, but with the remaining 30 points on offer vital for the future of the squad (and possibly the management team) he'll now be in attendance for the whole of every session. Be interesting to see just how much of a difference that will make - if at all.

March 04: What do points make? We all know the answer - and the manager has finally come out and said that he is willing to change things around in order to scramble the necessary results that will get us back into Europe next year. "It may be against my principals of playing attractive attacking football but that's life. That is the way we have got to go. You have got to change your approach to meet different situations." So how about the following side for Wednesday then (based on who's fit)? Robinson, Richardson, Duberry, Matteo, Wilcox, Batty, Bakke, McPhail, Singh, Keane, Smith. Fowler, Viduka and Kewell to sit on the bench and get hungry for success again (or eat pies depending on personal preference) and the 11 on the park to take the game by the scruff of the neck and get us the three points. Rio Ferdinand and Olivier Dacourt will continue to have treatment as they try to overcome the injuries that kept them out of the Everton game. On the long-term front, neither Michael Bridges nor Lucas Radebe are expected to play anything more than practice matches (and even reserve games are out of the question for Bridges) before next season.

March 04: The cat is well and truly among the pigeons. The anti-Kidd chants have hit a raw nerve with DOL, and some of the players as well. At a press conference today, Rio, Nige and Smithy were wheeled out - sorry, stepped forward of their own volition - to back Kidd. Interesting that it should be three of the players who the fans regard as having put the most effort in and not, say, Viduka, Kewell and Harte. Martyn said: "The fans have a right to be frustrated but it is wrong to blame one coach for it. We don't want this thing against Brian Kidd getting any bigger. I am one of the players who did hear the chants and I was quite shocked by it. The players should remember that Kiddo is one of the top coaches in Europe and we are lucky to have him." Smith concurred: "We are 100% behind David O'Leary and Brian Kidd. On behalf of all the lads we are happy with Brian's coaching and we want him to stay." Rio said: "I think it's because of the link with Manchester United that the supporters are having a go, but if you speak to any of those boys at Old Trafford they will tell you they have the highest regard for Kidd." Sad to say he's right - and for those who are jeering Kidd for that reason, I have four words for you: Gordon Strachan, Johnny Giles. Both ex-"Scummers" who helped drag Leeds from mediocrity to being one of the top sides in the land. Maybe Kidd is the best coach ever, maybe he's not - but like any other employee of the club it's in his best interest for the team to do well. Either he'll stay and continue to bask in the success or he'll find it easy to move on to another well-paid job. If the team fail because of his efforts, he'll find it harder and harder to get a top-flight job and will suffer as a result. Loyalty to one club, and a long-term associations are wonderful things if you can have them, but now more than ever in football, chairmen, managers, players and fans want success, and we should use every person or method we can afford within our budget to achieve it.

March 04: Peter Ridsdale's attempt to talk to Leeds fans after yesterday's game provoked a massive over-reaction from the Merseyside police. Although the police are not taking the complaint any further, they have said that they will mention the issue to the FA and both clubs. Chief Superintendent David Willman said: "I appreciate why he did it and no doubt it was well intentioned but it was ill-advised." He went on to say: "It was a smack in the face for the Everton fans and could have caused a problem." I don't know which ground he was in, but in the Goodison Park that I attended yesterday, a load of the Everton fans were heading for the exits with 5 minutes to go - and by the time Ridsdale came across to the Leeds fans there can't have been more than a couple of hundred Everton fans left in the ground. Ridsdale maintained he'd done nothing wrong and was simply trying to keep a lid on the unrest brewing among the supporters. He said: "I told [the fans] that the manager, coaches and players are doing their best to put things right. I thought it was important to get that over to them."

March 03: There's been a big reaction to the chants from a small minority of the supporters that were aimed at Brian Kidd. Kidd is seen by some as the scapegoat for our recent poor form - his Man U associations obviously show him to be guilty of something as far as some people are concerned. Peter Ridsdale came round to the Leeds end after the final whistle and tried to speak to some of the Leeds fans - but was hauled away by the police for some reason. DOL has more or less said "If Kidd goes I go" and is "disgusted" with the fans. "I will stay here as long as people want me to stay here and only when that opinion is revised will I then go," he said. Well David, the fans don't make those decisions - the board of the plc does. But slagging off the people who keep on turning up and buying tickets to watch a side that hasn't won in two months and has now gone nearly 400 minutes without scoring is not a smart move. The fans were totally behind the team for pretty much the entire game today - and if certain players showed the same commitment as half of the people in the away end we'd still be top of the table and in Europe. DOL says that all the people at the club are impressed by Kidd and like him, adding: "After the game the players had a little chat amongst themselves in the dressing room because what the fans said had an impact. But they have turned around and said they will stay here as long as Brian Kidd and myself are here. That's where they stand."

March 03: Only just got back from Everton, so no time for the usual Sunday night stuff. Man of the match today was Eirik Bakke by a long chalk: he was terrible for the first half hour in midfield but once Matteo had been dismissed and he switched to centreback he was magnificent. Matteo's first booking was a joke - much less of a foul than several things that Leeds-hater D'Urso had allowed Everton (and Leeds) to get away with. The second one was deserved - and Matteo should have known better to push his luck with such a pointless challenge. D'Urso could arguably have given Everton a penalty, but equally he totally abdicated his duties by only booking one of the four or five dives that Everton's cheating Canadian striker Radzinski attempted to con him with. Smith was booked for a typical Smithy tackle - and was rightly incensed (and confronted the ref rather stupidly) when an Everton player went straight through on him but escaped totally unpunished. What did you expect Alan? Fair treatment from the worst ref in the country? D'Urso has totally lost it - not just in Leeds games - and needs a long spell reffing on the parks before he is allowed anywhere near a professional game again. Anyway, Smithy ran his socks off and should have been subbed to save him from a possible second yellow and give us a bit more breathing space at the end - of course he wasn't. Kewell just gave up trying with 30 minutes to go: let's hope his putative future employers at Real Madrid weren't watching, otherwise they might decide to spend their £25 million elsewhere. Doobs also deserves some credit for the result - he did nowt wrong under a lot of pressure, and David Batty gave a clear demonstration as to why he should have been in the side last Thursday. But who he was demonstrating it to is a mystery, because everyone connected with Leeds with the possible exception of the management team knew that anyway.

March 03: Rio Ferdinand will miss the game today after injuring his back. Hopefully he'll be back for Wednesday.

March 02: Mark Tinkler equalised for Hartlepool at Kidderminster - but the home side came back with a late goal to make it 3-2. In the Premier League, Liverpool won at Fulham, but Newcastle lost at home to Arsenal, and Chelsea went down 2-1 at the Valley to give us the chance of going back to 5th tomorrow. Villa and Spurs both won - so if we slip up one more time' we'll find ourselves battling for 8th place :-(

March 02: Surprisingly little news today - and what there is mainly reflects the fallout of yesterday's DOL pronouncements. On the positive side, Lee Bowyer is looking more likely to commit to a long contract. On the less positive side, the chances of us retaining the likes of Kewell, Viduka and Dacourt is being publicly talked down in the press with the sort of confidence that comes from hearing it from the agent's mouth.

March 01: Very brief injury round-up ahead of Sunday's game. Olivier Dacourt remains a doubt due to his leg injury but Alan Smith's domestic ban is over. Gary Naysmith will be missing from the Everton side with an ankle injury, but Lee Carsley is back after missing the Crewe game due to being cuptied. Alexandersson and Campbell are both doubtful and may not be risked with the FA Cup quarter finals due to be played next weekend.

March 01: In an interview published in tomorrow's Independent, DOL makes the astonishing claim about the court case that "It would have made it easier if they had both gone inside." And in a nutshell, there's the problem. He also seems worried about how other fans perceive us. Why? It doesn't seem to bother Alex Ferguson that the rest of the country are cock-a-hoop when Man U slip up or when Roy Keane gets sent off. He just gets on with it and deals with all disciplinary matters behind closed doors. It might not make him the most popular person in the world, but a manager's job is to lead and inspire - and with his attitude and approach that's something that Ferguson has done time and time again, and it's the key thing that seems to be missing from the Leeds side at the moment. He also defends the book - yet again: he either chooses not to see - or refuses to admit publicly - just what damage that book did both internally and externally, but then quite openly has a dig at the players for their effort and application and the fans of the club for being "fickle" and getting on the team's back. "PLC to David! PLC to David! Remember we need those fickle fans on top of the twenty thousand hardcore support if we want to fill that nice new stadium. Don't drive them away until we've got their money."

March 01: Rio was obviously unhappy to be eliminated from the UEFA Cup last night, although he made no excuses for Leeds' performance. "We created a lot of chances, but we didn't put them away and got punished at the end. You've got to keep a clean sheet and we didn't manage to do that." But he's still not ruling out the possibility of making it into the Champions League next season - but that's got to start with three points on Sunday.

March 01: Mark van Bommel reckons that we're better than Manchester United, comparing the two UEFA Cup games this year with the two Champions League matches against the Reds last season. He said: "We knew they had a good squad with plenty of quality and they're almost a top side. Manchester have maybe the best squad in Europe, but all the Leeds players impressed me."

March 01: It's a bit worrying that DOL says that he now feels that we've got to rebuild team spirit after last night's UEFA Cup exit against PSV. He said: "This is a challenge for everybody within the club to try and rebuild team spirit and morale." Actually, it looked to me as if half the team was knackered, not dispirited with 15 minutes to go, and the team's inability to vary the tactics and adapt to what the opposition are doing seems to be a bigger concern than spirit. And the latter will follow on from the former once we've seen how that can lead to winning matches again.

March 01: Peter Ridsdale, speaking on Radio 5 last night, said that we were likely to make a net gain in the transfer market during the summer. The mid-season purchases of Seth Johnson and Robbie Fowler have put the squad size over the level agreed with DOL, and that will need to be trimmed in the summer, although he didn't rule out any purchases. With 5 fit strikers - plus Harry Kewell - there's obviously scope for cuts there, Lucas Radebe must be close to retirement, and it's questionable whether David Batty would relish a season spent on the bench or with the reserves. Latest rumour doing the rounds is for Harry Kewell to move to Real Madrid with Steve Mcmanaman coming back to join his mate Robbie Fowler and bringing £5-7 million with him.

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