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Leeds United News from The Sporting Life    Yorkshire Evening Post


April 30: There was disappointment for Leeds old boys Neil Edwards and Richard Jobson tonight as Rochdale lost 1-2 to Rushden and Diamonds at Spotland to go out of the play-offs 3-4 on aggregate after finishing 5 points clear of their visitors.

April 30: Will Gary Kelly leave Leeds this summer? He said today that he wanted to be playing first team football, and despite Danny Mills' all too frequent absences this season, Kelly is clearly the second choice at right back now. He said: "I love it here at Leeds. I still have five years left on my contract and would love to stay but you never know what will happen in football we will see how things work out next year." Kelly supported Celtic as a young lad, and he pointed out that everyone always wants to play for the team they followed in their youth (ask Smithy!). There are still tickets available for next week's testimonial, priced at £20 for adults, £10 for concessions and £50 for a family ticket. Gordon Strachan will be returning to pull on a Leeds shirt - it's all in a good cause so get on down there if you can. If you've got a decent pile of spare cash, you can even try your hand at beating Nigel Martyn: the YEP is having an auction for the right to take three shots from the spot at half-time during the match. Get your bids in to Penalties, YEP Sports Desk, Wellington Street, Leeds LS1 1RF now!

April 30: Uh-oh! It looks like Gareth Southgate will have recovered from his broken nose in time for the game at Elland Road on Saturday week. Southgate has made a bit of a habit of scoring against Leeds, and Steve Mclaren will be over the moon that his top centreback will be available after losing Franck Queudrue to a 3-match ban following a red card against Blackburn.

April 30: Lucas Radebe has been named as a backup player for South Africa in their preliminary World Cup squad, announced today. The squad are due to meet in a training camp next week, with a friendly against Madagascar on Sunday week. Radebe will not join up with the squad unless Leeds give him medical clearance, and is one of 19 European-based players in the squad. Radebe isn't the only one to have missed a lot of football: Mark Fish has been out for 18 months as well. Radebe will be hoping that his knowledge and experience will count for him when coach Jonah Somo names his final 23 in 3 weeks time.

April 29: Well, if you liked this season, you'll love the next. DOL has already written off our chances of lifting the title next year, saying that we can't do that until we've regularly qualified for the Champions League. He said: "I have raised the profile of Leeds but it has been knocked back by what has happened off the pitch." Like that oh-so-well-received profile-raising book maybe? "I want to put Leeds in the Champions League consistently year in, year out. If we can do that then we can start thinking about competing with Manchester United and Arsenal for the title. Next season, why we can't expect to qualify for the Champions League until we've spent a few years in a UEFA Cup spot.

April 29: The reserves beat Newcastle 1-0 tonight with a goal from Harpal Singh in the second minute. That win for Leeds gives the FA Premiership Reserve League title to Manchester United this season, since Newcastle have now played all of their games and trail Man U - whose last game is at home to Leeds next Monday - by a single point.

April 29: DOL was seen in Holland at the weekend - watching the Feyenoord/Heerenveen game - and rumours have been spreading that Leeds have jumped the gun on the auction for Feyenoord's Brett Emerton with an £8 million bid. Liverpool and Newcastle have both been linked with the Aussie midfielder, but Leeds have denied making a bid, with the official website suggesting that O'Leary was actually there to watch another player.

April 29: Frazer Richardson has been called up for the England U-20 squad that will play in a tournament in France this summer. England's opponents will be Brazil, Portugal, Poland and China, and the young defender will be hoping to make enough of an impression to make DOL seriously consider him for a few senior games next season.

April 29: The reserves face Newcastle at Elland Road tonight, with Olivier Dacourt and Lucas Radebe both likely to get a run out. Remember that a Leeds XI are still due to appear at Barrow on Friday night to mark the centenary of their hosts - get along and give them some support if you're in the area.

April 29: Old boys news from the weekend: Kettering Town - managed by Carl Shutt - clinched the Dr Martens Premier League title on the last day of the season by winning 1-2 at Tiverton while rivals Tamworth - who had started the day level on points but ahead on goal difference - could only draw 3-3 at Folkestone. Another ex-Leeds player from that era - Mike Whitlow - finally received his Championship medal late last week, nearly 10 years after the fact. The PFA noticed that he was due a medal earlier this month, because he had played enough games for Leeds in the 91-92 season, even though he moved on in March before the title was clinched, and the Football League have finally come through with the medal.

April 28: We're an ungrateful bunch of fans, according to our wonderful manager. "Getting into the UEFA Cup is a great achievement as we could easily have finished up mid table. I think the fans should be grateful for that. 99% of Leeds fans are absolutely fantastic, but we have a bunch that don't let you down but they always moan." This isn't the first time that DOL has lashed out at the people whose support ultimately pays his wages, and once again he appears to be missing the point. The fans who are probably the most critical are also the most appreciative of where we are now: having seen Leeds play abysmal football and lose to the likes of Stoke and Oldham (not too much offence to any Stoke or Oldham fans reading), and having seen a team of less individual talent - but far greater application and team spirit - win the title, the criticism (that's another one of those irregular verbs in action - I criticise, you whinge, he moans) of the team is based on the fact that these players are not achieving what they are capable of, not the fact in itself that we've not brought home any silverware. We now have a squad of world-class players, and although there are a couple of weak positions and some of the long-term injury absences have been a problem, it's the dropped points at home against Bolton, Leicester, Charlton, Fulham rather than away defeats at the likes of Newcastle, Chelsea and Spurs that have blown out our title or Champions League ambitions for this season. These problems are fixable - and the only way to fix it will involve the bruising of several egos and more than a couple of losses will need to be cut. Next season's title campaign starts now.

April 28: Euro-time - and in Germany we see that Bayer Leverkusen could be about to choke yet again. Although they're in pole position to make it to Hampden Park in the Champions League final, they lost 0-1 at home to Nurnberg while Borussia Dortmund managed to win by the odd goal in 7 at Hamburg. Dortmund now top the table by a point, and Bayern Munich's 0-1 win at Wolfsburg leaves them a point further back - but the final round next week could see Bayern win the title: all of the top three play at home, but Bayern face lowly Hansa Rostock, while Dortmund and Leverkusen play Werder Bremen and Herta Berlin who are sixth and fourth respectively.

Not much change at the top in Holland: two goals from Machlas gave Ajax a 2-0 win over Den Bosch, PSV had a convincing 3-0 win over Sparta, and Feyenoord came back from being a man down and 1-2 down at home to Heerenveen to win 3-2. Ajax only need a draw at NEC next week to clinch the title: if they lose then PSV will need any sort of win at De Graafschap to clinch the title.

Lens and Lyon will decide the title next week when the top two meet next week. Both sides won this week - leaders Lens running out 4-1 against Guingamp with two goals from Diouf, and Lyon winning 0-1 at Bordeaux thanks to a Sonny Anderson goal after Christophe Dugarry and Marc-Vivien Foe were dismissed for fighting. Any one of the bottom three could still escape relegation, with Metz having their fate in their own hands if they can beat bottom side Lorient at home. Guingamp host L'Estac and need to do better than Metz to save themselves.

Valencia are almost home and dry in Spain: Ruben Baraja turned the match around for the hosts at the Mestalla with two goals in the second half after Espanyol had taken the lead from the spot in the first period, and Valencia's Amedeo Carboni had been red-carded. Three second half goals from hosts Real Sociedad saw Real Madrid slump to a defeat that leaves them 4 points behind Valencia with two games to go. Valencia travel to Malaga and then host Real Betis on the final day, and although Madrid's home game against Mallorca should bring them three points, a final day trip to the Riazor could see Deportivo deprive them of the title. Depor's were a goal down and then a goal up at home to Malaga - but an 80th minute penalty squared the game for the visitors, and Nourredine Naybet's dismissal just before full-time capped a disappointing day for the home team. Barca shrugged off their midweek disappointment after a shaky start at the Nou Camp: Villareal went a goal up in the first half and held on for 40 minutes before conceding four goals in a quarter of an hour and now sit in 4th place, just ahead of Celta Vigo on goal difference - their 0-1 win at Real Zaragoza leaves their hosts second bottom, three points shy of safety.

Internazionale will have to wait for one more week to seal their title after the top 5 all won in Italy. A hat-trick from David Trezeguet and two from Alessandro del Piero gave Juve an apparently easy win over Brescia - although the visitors held the scoreline at 1-0 until the 70th minute and after being reduced to 10 men. Roma also scored five without reply against Chievo - Vincenzo Montella completed his hat-trick with a penalty in the 51st minute before Emerson and Cassano completed the rout. By contrast, leaders Inter had a close contest with Matuzalem equalising for Piacenza after Cordoba gave the home side the lead early on. The visitors held out until Sommese was red-carded, and after goals from Recoba and Ronaldo had sealed the points, goalscorer Matuzalem also found himself needing an early bath. The top three are all on the road for the final game next week with Inter at Lazio, Juve at Udinese and Roma at Torino. None of the home clubs have much to play for other than pride, so it's there to be won by someone!

There was a surprise defeat for Slovan Liberec at Teplice on Friday night - a win would have kept them 9 points clear with two games to go and clinched the title. Viktoria Zizkov closed to within 6 points with a 1-2 win at Drnovice, despite being reduced to 10 men for the last 20 minutes, and Sparta Prague can go ahead of Zizkov on goal difference if they win at Brno tomorrow. Either way, Slovan Liberec should tie up the league next weekend when they host Brno themselves.

April 28: Transfer rumours and lies for the weekend: we're interested in Standard Liege right back Ivica Dragutinovic, valued at £3 million. Ian Harte's position at left-back continues to be threatened - this time we're apparently about to shell out for Auxerre's Jean Sebastian Jaures - but Harte needn't worry - Spurs and Internazionale (I know who I'd sign for) both want his signature. Olivier Dacourt is prepared to swallow his fears over the racist element among their fans and sign for Lazio at last - but Leeds will want serious financial guarantees from the club, since it's known that they're almost as financially sound as Atletico were when they wanted JFH from us. Finally, on the way out to random destinations are DOL's least favorite striker Robbie Keane, Stephen "couldn't make an impression in Div 1" McPhail, plus several others who are on the fringe of the squad or maybe just getting to be past their best: Batty, Wilcox and Duberry are the recurring names.

April 27: Post-match blah has DOL soothing Sven's fears over Robbie Fowler's injury. The striker left the ground on crutches after being subbed after just 20 minutes on the pitch - but it seems it's just a jarred hip and he should be okay for the Boro game and beyond. The manager wasn't happy with the linesman's hair-trigger reflexes: "I thought it was a joke; take no chances and bang, flag for offside," he said. DOL was happy with the result anyway: "The attitude of the players was good. We had talked beforehand about desire, pride and about finishing the season off with two good results." John Gregory was less happy, saying: "Other than the youngsters there was not much to impress me from this game." Unfortunately, many of them may be sold in the summer to balance the books, so it's the older unimpressive ones he'll need to get them back up from the Nationwide.

April 27: A not totally convincing performance at Pride Park today was still enough to bring home all three points. A flick by Alan Smith set Lee Bowyer free to lift the ball over Mart Poom to take the lead in the first half. Harry Kewell played for most of the game and had some decent runs without ever creating a clear-cut opening. Still, the three points means we've kept up the pressure on Chelsea and still have a chance of finishing in 5th place. A big hello goes out to the Maverick Whites who all turned up as Elvis for the last away trip of the season, and cheers to whoever brought the paddling pool: it enlivened a fairly dull second half.

April 27: Super-stud Sven has said that both Lee Bowyer and Jon Woodgate are in line for England selection after the World Cup. He referred to the "distractions" that both had suffered this season, saying: "Both [Bowyer] and Jonathan Woodgate have had a difficult year or two. We have a lot of good midfielders in this country so the competition is very hard. But at some stage, I am going to pick both of them, very soon after the World Cup."

April 26: Worrying signs ahead of the summer (latest in what could be a long series). Rio has said that he's unhappy not to have qualified for the Champions League, and he's not particularly looking forward to another season operating on the second tier of European football. "I came here to play Champions League football - it's as simple as that....to not be in it this year has been hard and it will be even harder not to be in it next year. It's simply not good enough." But this is criticism directed at his team-mates rather than a warning for the fans: "We have to make sure that we put it right, next season will be a new beginning and hopefully we can take the positives from this campaign and really make a determined push next year." Because if we don't, Rio and a few more besides will be on their way.

April 26: Terry Yorath has been confirmed as the new boss of Sheffield Wednesday after he managed to keep the Owls in Division 1 by a single point this season. Although his record at Hillsborough hasn't set the world on fire, the board have pointed the finger of blame at the players, and have released nine to enable him to have a fairly clean slate to start again next year. He has previously been the manager at Swansea, Cardiff and Bradford, and had a five year stint in charge of the Welsh national side from 1988 to 1993.

April 26: Mark Viduka is definitely ruled out of tomorrow's visit to Pride Park due to his ankle injury. Harry Kewell and Olivier Dacourt have more of a chance of playing but with very little to play for, they might be rested to avoid further aggravating their injuries. Seth Johnson is hoping to be involved - not just because it is his old club, but also to try to finish a difficult and interrupted season on a positive note. "Leeds has been a great move for me, but it has been a real stop-start period for me with injuries and suspensions and also I have been cup-tied. We have only got two games left so it would be nice to be involved. It will be a bit strange going back to Derby, where I had two very good years and really did enjoy my football." He's been in touch with some of his old team-mates and doesn't expect an easy game tomorrow: "They are all gutted, but they want to try and re-build for next season now and come straight back up... They will want to do well in front of their own fans and they will want to put on a show. They will not just sit down and let us walk all over them." Well, if they show as much spirit as they did last time round when they came back from a goal and a man down to earn a draw, it will be interesting to see how a Leeds side who were so unimpressive against Fulham will respond.

April 25: The reserves were beaten 0-2 by Manchester United tonight, conceding both goals in the opening 10 minutes - the second to Luke "Plug" Chadwick. Harry Kewell and Olivier Dacourt both played for around an hour, and Lucas Radebe completed his first 90 minutes since his comeback from injury. Michael Duberry also got a full game in: looks like the players are all coming back to fitness just when we don't need it.

April 25: DOL has given the team a clear warning that he expects them all to keep their heads down and stay out of the public eye off the field next season after two years of PR nightmares have disrupted almost every aspect of the club. "I'm convinced we must stay out of the headlines more than we have this season, and the players have a responsibility to see that happens," he said. He also pointed to the welter of transfer speculation and how unhelpful that was at this stage of the season - although in many cases transfer and other stories were started by the players or their agents. "Mind you, they cannot have it both ways," he said. "That's why I refused to answer questions about Jonathan Woodgate recently. I was totally disgusted by what happened, but I have dealt with it internally and that's the way things should be done."

April 25: Robbie Fowler is just one of Leeds' England players backing an idea to raise money for charity around the World Cup. Cancer Research are suggesting that firms allow people the time off to watch the England games - but at the cost of one hour's pay, to be donated to charity. Fowler said: "This is a fantastic way for Leeds fans to give us and our fellow England team mates support for this important match and, at the same time, raise money for research into cancers that affect men."

April 25: Tonight's reserve game against Manchester United could see the surprise and welcome return of some of our injury victims: Olivier Dacourt, Harry Kewell and Michael Duberry are all due to return for at least some of the game and if they come through that okay then they may get to play in Saturday's visit to Derby.

April 25: Gary Kelly is not intending to pack his bags and move on just yet, despite much speculation that his services are in demand elsewhere. "Last year I signed a five-year contract and you don't do that after 10 years at a club unless you want to stay. Leeds United is home from home for me."

April 24: Quite a significant occurrence in tonight's Champions League semi-final clash between Manchester United and Bayer Leverkusen: notwithstanding the German side's good performance in taking a 2-2 draw into the second leg, Gary Neville is reported to have broken a metatarsal bone (similar to David Beckham): with the World Cup a couple of weeks closer than it was when Beckham picked up his injury, it looks like this will almost certainly rule Neville out of the squad for the Finals - and that can only be good news for Danny Mills' chances of making the final cut!

April 24: Lucas Radebe has received a desperate plea from the new South African coach Jomo Sono, asking him to be ready to play in the World Cup Finals for his country. "He desperately needs experienced players, people who have played in big tournaments and played in European football," said Radebe. Radebe hopes his long-term injuries are now behind him, and he will be able to use the remaining reserve games and testimonials to build up to full fitness in time for this summer's tournament. Radebe captained the side in the last finals, with the side going out at an early stage: "It was very disappointing in France 1998, we have had that experience now and we want to do better this time," he said. "Unfortunately, it is not the same set of players going this time but if we can include a few of the experienced players like myself then it is a stage where everybody can make a name for himself."

April 24: Gary McAllister has been confirmed as the new man in charge at Coventry. Although he's 37, he still intends to play on for another season, but it will be interesting to see just how many times he feels the need to play himself as Coventry aim to return to the Premier League. The former Leeds skipper said: "People might see it as a gamble and I knew that question would arise. It must represent a gamble by the board but I don't see it as such. It has been a disappointing season for Coventry and I see it as a very exciting opportunity for me."

April 23: Random tinkering for no apparent reason department. UEFA have declared that the golden goal is to be retired: in the event of a tie being level at the end of normal play, there will be 15 minutes of extra time: if a team is ahead at that point, they will win, otherwise there will be 15 minutes more, followed by a penalty shootout if necessary.

April 23: Lucas Radebe will be hoping for another successful run out for the reserves when they take on Manchester United at Elland Road on Thursday night. He remains intent on getting himself fit enough to compete for a World Cup place - but it's equally important that he doesn't do himself any long-term damage and gives himself the chance of playing on for a season or so longer, though - like Michael Bridges - his hopes for a place in the first team are only likely to be achieved in Gary Kelly's testimonial next week.

April 23: Alan Smith has come in for some qualified praise from the manager, and DOL indicated that he wanted Smith to be a part of the Leeds setup for some time to come. Needless to say, the downer has been his all too frequent suspensions: "When we've been able to use him, Alan has looked an excellent player who can play in different positions. I'm a big fan of his but we haven't been able to use him enough."

April 23: With Gary McAllister set to be unveiled as the new Coventry manager - subject to the finalisation of a few details - rumours have been doing the rounds that he would ask fellow Scot Eddie Gray to join him as coach. Gray has denied any suggestion of a move, saying that he's happy at Leeds - and this does have the hallmarks of a typical press stir-up off the back of the much publicised anti-Kidd feelings shown by the fans earlier this season.

April 22: The reserves beat Bradford 0-3 tonight. Lucas Radebe played for 55 minutes in this latest stage of his comeback. Leeds fielded a fairly strong side, including Stephen McPhail, Jacob Burns, Harpal Singh and Jamie McMaster. Leeds went ahead from the spot in the first minute with Craig Farrell netting. Jamie McMaster doubled the lead shortly after, but it wasn't until the very end of the game that Leeds extended their lead, with Shane Cansdell-Sherriff completing the scoring.

April 22: After his soaring early-season ambition to make it into the Champions League has been thwarted, David O'Leary has his sights set on the next best thing: fifth place in the league. "There'll be no let-up over the last two games even though we can't now qualify for the Champions League. The best we can do is finish fifth and that's what we'll be looking to do." Colour me apathetic, but it's a good job I've already booked my tickets and travel for the last two games, cos with that to aim for I think I'd be tempted to stay in bed.

April 22: Michael Bridges might get his chance to show his face to the Leeds fans for one game this season after all. He's made good progress since his operation and his training is coming along well, so he might get the chance to have a few minutes on the pitch for Gary Kelly's testimonial a fortnight tomorrow. Lucas Radebe's comeback continues with a run-out planned in tonight's reserve game with Bradford.

April 21: I just flicked the channels on the TV tonight in time to see Pablo Aimar's free kick take a deflection of Duscher (he of the Beckham-crippling fame) to give Valencia a 1-0 lead in the Mestalla. Seven of the visitors went into the ref's notebook plus a further three from the home side - but there were no more goals, so Valencia move back up to the top of La Liga after just 24 hours in second place. Real Madrid's 4-1 win over bottom side Tenerife had given them a 2-point lead on Saturday, but Valencia are in pole position to take the title, and might even be helped by tonight's opponents: Real Madrid must visit the Riazor on May 12 and if they've dropped any more points between now and then, Deportivo might even be able to overtake them if they win. Yesterday Rivaldo scored in the last minute for Barca - but Celta Vigo had scored twice earlier, and not only took the three points, they also moved ahead of their visitors on goal difference. This coming week, La Liga pales into insignificance next to the first meeting in Europe in years for Real Madrid and Barcelona: Luis Figo has once again managed to avoid returning to the Nou Camp by getting a tactical suspension, and it seems that Spanish sports fans will be talking of little else as the government versus Catalan rebel mindset kicks in again.

Bayer Leverkusen must have been thinking a bit too hard about their upcoming semi-final too: they slipped up yesterday at home to Werder Bremen, so now just lead Borussia Dortmund by 2 points after the second-placed side won 2-1 against Cologne. Bayern should have been out of contention by now - but three second half goals against Hertha Berlin leave them 4 points behind the leaders with just two games to play. It could be all over by next weekend if Bayer Leverkusen win at Nurnberg while Dortmund fail to win at Hamburg - or it could all go down to the wire.

A solitary goal from Mido was enough to keep Ajax firmly in control of the Dutch league today. They've now got a 6 point lead on PSV, who came from behind to draw 1-1 at FC Twente, and a further point on Feyenoord - 1-2 winners at bottom club Fortuna Sittard on Friday night. Ajax have just two games to go, but PSV and Feyenoord have a game in hand on the leaders. Vitesse managed to leapfrog Heerenveen into 4th place by winning 0-1 at Sparta while Heerenveen were drawing 0-0 at home with Roda JC.

The top two in Serie A both drew today: Inter allowed Chievo to get a last-minute equaliser after Ronaldo had made it 1-2, and Roma shared a goalless draw in the San Siro with Milan. That allowed third-placed Juve to climb into second place thanks to a very late goal by Pavel Nedved which was enough to beat Piacenza 0-1 - although they were very lucky to not have a penalty awarded against them deep into injury time. Match of the day was definitely the clash between Lazio and Verona in the Stadio Olimpico. The visitors went a goal up early on, but Jaap Stam equalised for Lazio on half an hour. When Stam was dismissed for a second booking with 15 minutes to go, the home side probably felt pretty secure, having built up a 4-1 lead, and they extended it two minutes later through Hernan Crespo. Verona came back strongly though, and three goals in the last 11 minutes pulled it back to 5-4 before the final whistle went.

In the Gambrinus Liga, Sparta Prague have all but blown it: a 2-3 defeat at home to Teplice leaves them 9 points adrift of leaders Slovan Liberec with just 3 games left. Viktoria Zizkov are 7 points off the lead in second place, but play tomorrow afternoon and should close the gap and give themselves the chance to take the title race into the last two games.

April 21: Transfer rubbish from the weekend: DOL has not yet decided who he wants to lose or chase this summer, despite the rumours flying around certain particular members of the squad. The talk on Dacourt appears to have died down a bit - so expect his move to be confirmed soon - and now that Manchester City are officially promoted, they might start getting a bit more serious about their interest in Robbie Keane and Lee Bowyer (although Liverpool are also rumoured to be interested in the midfielder, but still more sources say his pen is poised above the paper to sign a new contract before the end of this season). In more low-key news, York City's battle for financial survival may lead to the departure of their England Youth International keeper Russell Howarth - and Leeds are inevitably said to be interested - trying to maintain a stranglehold on all the England goalkeeping talent for the next 20 years with Paul Robinson, Shaun Allaway and now this young 'un.

April 21: Old boys round-up from this weekend: Jamie Forrester scored from the spot as a 2-2 draw with relegated Cambridge left Northampton 1 place above the drop zone. Gary Speed scored Newcastle's first and set up the third as they had an easy win against Charlton. Darren Huckerby scored yet again for champions Manchester City this afternoon as they cruised to a win over Portsmouth. And as if Bob Taylor weren't enough of a hero to Baggies fans everywhere, he scored West Brom's second goal today to settle their nerves and secure the second promotion spot to the Premier League. There was success too for Nigel Worthington - Norwich's 2-0 win over Carlton Palmer's Stockport County helped them claim a play-off spot and sets their fans up for a dream season of being promoted while Ipswich get relegated.

April 21: Injury news: Mark Viduka's ankle - injured in a 5-a-side on the training pitch on Friday - has swollen up and remains a doubt for next weekend's visit to Derby. Eirik Bakke was sick in the dressing room after the game - it's not yet known what the cause is, but let's hope it's not too contagious - although if it was, maybe we'd see a bit of interesting experimentation with players and formations in the last two games of the season that we would otherwise be denied.

April 21: Post-match reaction from the game had the Fulham management team over the moon after what they described as "the result of the season". Fulham's assistant manager Christian Damiano feels that they're all but safe: "I feel we need 41 points to be safe and so that means we need one more point." Although neither side carved out many openings, Fulham had probably deserved to edge it for their discipline and tight approach to the match, but Leeds' profligate finishing once again proved to be their downfall. DOL was disappointed to lose that final bonus of a Champions League place, but was nonetheless pleased with the UEFA Cup qualification: "I still want to finish the season off right. I would have loved to have had a magic wand to take it down to the last game with Middlesbrough."

April 21: A dreadful and half-hearted display yesterday afternoon from a team that seems to have resigned itself to underachievement. Sure, getting to the Champions League spot was always going to be a long shot - but to roll over so badly against a side that was only just hovering above the drop zone is nowt to write home about. We failed to take our chances - and should have made a load more - and conceded a scrappy goal. Symptomatic of the season, really - I'd give us a C-: must do better.

April 20: No news updates today - I'm staying up in Leeds after the Fulham game for a quick beer or three. Normal service resumes on Sunday.

April 19: It looks like Rio will finally have shaken off his troublesome leg injury ahead of tomorrow's game - and Dominic Matteo's withdrawal from the Scotland squad looks to have served its purpose so he too could be fit again for thus crucial game.

April 19: Eirik Bakke hasn't given up hope of Leeds finishing a little higher than the current 6th place. "It's good that we don't have to think about qualifying for Europe now because we can just aim for the Champions League," he said. "There is no pressure on us whatsoever and it's a case of us winning our games and seeing what happens. Last Saturday at Villa wasn't the best, but we can take heart from the performance because everyone worked hard." He knows that we need three wins from three - and although Fulham won't be easy, they'll need to be turned over if Leeds are to finish any higher this year.

April 19: The Sunday Mirror have been found to be in contempt of court and fined £75,000 plus costs of over £50,000 as a result of the article published last year that halted the original trial of Lee Bowyer and Jon Woodgate.

April 18: Transfer rumours of the day: Bowyer to Liverpool, Keane to Villa (replacing Vassell who's off to Liverpool) and Leeds in for the "Norwegian David Beckham", Morten Gamst Pedersen - although his coach says he's going nowhere.

April 18: Well, they (and I'm definitely one of them) said that Lucas Radebe's career was over, but tonight he made a big step on the comeback trail, playing 45 minutes for the reserves in a 0-0 draw with Boro at Bootham Crescent. He's got to this stage before and the big question mark will be over his reaction after this game. He'll play at least one more reserve game soon, and with the current defensive crisis might even find himself on the bench for the Derby and Boro games. The Chief is taking things one step at a time: "Obviously I would like to go the World Cup with South Africa but it is a lot different from playing in the reserves for Leeds. Before I can think about the World Cup I have to prove I can get through a reserve game without any reaction and take it from there. That is when I can say to myself 'yes there is a chance'."

April 18: Stephen McPhail has returned from his loan spell with Millwall after failing to make much of an impression in the Division 1 side's push for the play-offs - not helped by the suspension he incurred after getting sent off in his first game for the Lions.

April 18: Ireland boss Mick McCarthy was full of praise for Robbie Keane after his performance in last night's friendly with the USA. "He has been getting better and better and back to his best in terms of his movement and fitness. He is now working the whole back four and in the channels. He is back to his impudent and cheeky best and it is a pleasure to watch the things he does. He is coming good at the right time." Let's hope DOL was watching and takes note.

April 17: Nigel Martyn and Paul Robinson will be cutting the ribbon tomorrow on a new hand surgery unit at St James's Hospital in Leeds. The new unit will allow more patients to be treated as day cases - and it's obviously something they're keen to support but not that keen to sample for themselves!

April 17: Both the Fulham and Boro games have now sold out - the Boro match didn't even make it to general sale, selling out to Striker Card holders.

April 17: Danny Mills played at centreback for the second half of England's friendly with Paraguay at Anfield tonight - and Robbie Fowler was also there, getting himself on the scoresheet with one of the three goals in the second half that were all scored with the help of a deflection. Michael Owen had opened the scoring early in the first half and it turned out to be quite an easy 4-0 victory in the last home game before the World Cup for England. Gary Kelly, Ian Harte and Robbie Keane turned out for the Republic on what resembled a paddling pool rather than a football pitch. Ireland beat the USA 2-1, and the most important thing from tonight was that nobody picked up any more injuries.

April 17: David Batty is worried for the future of the team after yet another season of promise but ultimate failure. He said: "This has been a disappointing season, there is no doubt about it, and when that happens at a big club like ours you can expect some players to come in and some to go out. None of the players are safe in the knowledge that they will be here next season so it's a question of waiting to see what happens during the summer." He's never made any secret of the fact that he has little appetite for continuing to play the game at a lower level and that he sees this spell with Leeds as being the closing chapter on a great career. But he's not quite ready to hang up his boots yet: "I'd like to think I still have a lot to offer the club." Depending on who stays and who goes in the summer, it looks like he'll still be needed for a bit longer as the midfield anchor, and his vision and passing have improved with age - and let's hope he manages at least one more goal before finally signing off.

April 17: Roland Nilsson and Jim Smith have been unceremoniously dumped by Coventry after a poor run in the second half of the season blew their chances of promotion. Nilsson was appointed by the ousted Coventry City chairman in succession to Gordon Strachan, and there's some feeling that he wasn't given much of a chance and that this wasn't a decision taken on purely footballing terms, but there's now a vacancy and Gary McAllister is being mentioned as a candidate to fill it. McAllister had 4 decent years at Highfield Road before leaving on a Bosman for Liverpool, but after a season in which he played a major part in their great cup successes last year, he's been a much more peripheral figure this year, and at the age of 37 he is unlikely to see much more action on the pitch at the top level.

April 16: Lee Bowyer was spotted talking to Kevin Keegan at Maine Road today - but his agent denies that the midfielder is planning to leave Leeds. Keegan knows he'll have to improve his squad if he is to keep City up in the Premier League next season, and he has previously been linked with a move for Nigel Martyn (though he's now got Peter Schmeichel, so speculation has died there) and either Alan Smith or Robbie Keane. His agent David Geiss said: "The negotiations [with Leeds] are going very well. You can never say never in football and we have got to get the terms formally agreed. With regards to Manchester City, Lee has been seen everywhere. He was with me when he was supposed to be in Liverpool and we were on our way to see Peter Ridsdale."

April 16: More Bowyer news: he may try to recover some of the costs of the second court case via the European Court of Human Rights. His solicitor says that he may also sue the Sunday Mirror for its part in the halting of the original trial. The judge's costs ruling may not be appealed against, but that in itself may be the basis for an appeal to the ECHR.

April 16: Alan Smith, Paul Robinson and Seth Johnson all figured in tonight's U21 international with Portugal at the Britannia Stadium, which saw England beaten for the first time since David Platt took charge. Robinson played for the first half, having not much to do and no real chance to keep out a bullet header from a free kick. Smithy played for just over an hour, doing a good job as a target man, holding the ball up well and playing in a couple of good crosses, despite not having much support from midfield. Johnson saw quite a bit of the ball and produced a couple of outstanding passes and free kicks - but like most of the midfield he gave the ball away far too often, although he stayed on until 10 minutes from the end.

April 15: It's getting close to the end of the season - so it must be time to pour some petrol on the transfer flames. Brett Emerton is the putrefying zombie from the pits of transfer hell come to haunt us from beyond the grave. He's been banned from the UEFA Cup Final after being booked for timewasting in the semi - although Feyenoord are appealing because the linesman apparently told him to move the ball when he was about to take a corner. Liverpool are also interested in the Aussie youngster, who is expected to move on in the summer for around £8 million.

April 15: Dominic Matteo has pulled out of the Scotland squad for the friendly against Nigeria at Pittodrie on Wednesday because he's got a back injury. That's all we need - another crocked CB!

April 15: Rio Ferdinand was the only Leeds player named in the PFA's Premiership team of the season at the awards dinner last night. There weren't many surprises in the team selections - only Shay Given in goal (Cudicini and Dudek must have had a pretty strong claim) and Steve Finnan of Fulham at right back (and having written that I'm now trying to think who else might have got that slot: maybe he benefited from an "anyone but Gary Neville" vote!).

April 14: Nigel Martyn doesn't want DOL to make wholesale changes to the Leeds squad in the summer. "I don't think our manager, David O'Leary, is going to rip it up and start again - at least I certainly hope not." Of course, the keeper's slot itself must be seen as being in the balance, with the presence of the excellent Paul Robinson in the wings. Martyn went on: "We don't know if we are playing for our places. If a player is sold, the rest of the squad is usually the last to know. I hope that doesn't happen."

April 14: Time for the Euro round-up, and we'll start in Holland where the Dutch Cup semi-finals were played in midweek. Nothing special there, other than the fact that while Ajax were playing in one semi, Ajax reserves were playing in the other. The first team made it through to the final, but unfortunately the reserves went out to Utrecht on penalties, so we're denied the opportunity of seeing a very strange final. Back in the league, Ajax kept a strong grip on a small lead, winning 0-4 at Sparta with a hat-trick for Mido. PSV moved into second place, 4 points behind but with a game in hand thanks to a 2-0 win over Feyenoord with both goals coming from Mateja Kezman. A last minute goal secured the points for Heerenveen at De Graafschap, and they are now just two points behind Feyenoord.

It wasn't a good weekend for the top sides in France: Lens were surprisingly beaten 3-1 by Bastia, who have dragged themselves clear of the relegation zone with the 3 points gained. Lyon failed to take full advantage: after having a player dismissed on the hour, they weren't too unhappy to hold out for a point in a goalless draw with Montpelier. There's just a point in it at the top now, and the clash between the top two will decide the title. But the pot might end up going to Auxerre, whose 2-0 victory over Sochaux pulls them to within 3 points of Lyon and with a game in hand. If Lyon and Lens draw the game on May 4, it could give Auxerre the chance to sneak in and grab the title at the death.

In Germany Bayer Leverkusen came into the weekend on a high after their victory over Liverpool in the Champions League quarter-final in midweek. They didn't quite maintain that momentum, and after exchanging a goal apiece with hosts Hamburg in the first 15 minutes held out for a draw. But with Dortmund going down 1-0 at Kaiserslauten today, they've actually extended their lead at the top, and have a five point lead over Dortmund with just three games to go. Two points further back are Bayern Munich, 1-2 winners at Nurnberg yesterday with goals from Elber and Pizarro.

In Serie A there was no significant change at the top, with the top three all winning. Inter went behind at Brescia, but two goals in three minutes from the fit-just-in-time-for-the-World-Cup Ronaldo saw them take the points. Roma had a convincing win at home to Parma, taking the game 3-1 after Marco Delvecchio had set them on the way early on. An own goal from Jose Chamot was the only thing that kept Juve on course at home to Milan. That defeat for Milan and a 1-2 home defeat for Bologna allowed Chievo to leap up into 4th place and keep their Champions League dreams alive.

There are 4 games to go in La Liga - and it's all up for grabs again. Valencia were probably kicking themselves after only managing to take a point from lowly Mallorca on Saturday, equalising through Baraja after the home side had gone ahead through Luque. But Real Madrid made a major and unexpected slip this evening at lowly Osasuna. The home side were already two goals to the good when Ivan Helguera was sent off on 45 minutes - and the second half was even at a goal apiece, but the result leaves Valencia a point clear at the top and pulls Osasuna out of the mire at the bottom. Roy Makaay and Diego Tristan more or less killed the game against Espanyol within 2 goals within 6 minutes, and when Makaay scored again just after half an hour had gone, Deportivo had guaranteed the three points. The visitors got a goal back in the second half, but La Coruna are now 1 point behind Real Madrid. Results are also going Barca's way at last with a 3-2 win at the Nou Camp over Alaves and defeats for Celta Vigo and Real Betis leaving them pretty secure in 4th place.

In the Gambrinus Liga, Sparta Prague seem intent on self-destruction: they suffered yet another defeat on Friday, going down 1-0 at Ostrava and allowing Slovan Liberec and Viktoria Zizkov to get a gap at the top with wins over Slavia Prague and Sigma Olomouc respectively.

April 14: A big thank you goes out today to Arsenal and Chelsea - they both won their semi-finals today and so guaranteed Leeds a place in the UEFA Cup if Newcastle or Chelsea fail to slip up to allow us to squeak into the Champions League.

April 14: Injury news - and with just three games to go, three of the most significant players of the season still injured but hopeful of a comeback. Harry Kewell (foot/ankle), Rio Ferdinand (hamstring) and Olivier Dacourt (shoulder). Ferdinand needs to be back for Derby - and that's the aim - since Danny Mills will not be available due to suspension for that and the Boro game, and Olivier Dacourt is in training, but only doing fitness work at the moment. The gash on Kewell's leg is more of a concern, and it's possible that he won't be risked again this season to allow a full recovery. From an England point of view, Rio's fitness is even more of an issue after today's FA Cup semi-final saw Sol Campbell carried off the field with a hamstring problem.

April 14: Seth Johnson joins Alan Smith and Paul Robinson in the U-21 side to play Portugal at Stoke on Tuesday night.

April 13: DOL had fulsome praise for the strength and character of the team after today's performance. He even had some words of comfort for Danny Mills after his late booking: "I thought Danny Mills was outstanding and after 90 minutes like that I felt his booking was unjust. I don't want to dwell on his suspension now. We will worry about it in a couple of weeks' time." He said: "They were chucking everything at us at the end and we were lucky that a couple of things went our way." Graham Taylor was disappointed: "The thing I cannot explain, and neither can the players, is our first 45 minutes. All teams at times play badly but you should never play without spirit, which is something the supporters expect." He gave an honest assessment of a fairly mundane game, saying: "We are shooting ourselves in the foot at the moment and the gods aren't shining on us, but then you cannot expect them to if you don't play consistently for 90 minutes."

April 13: There's no place for Lee Bowyer in the squad for England's friendly with Paraguay next week - so that's his World Cup finally kicked into touch. There's also no call-up for Alan Smith - although Matt Jansen is added to the senior squad. Danny Mills, Nigel Martyn and Robbie Fowler are Leeds' representatives for next Wednesday's game.

April 13: Old boys news from today: Brian Deane did well to give relegated Leicester a two goal lead at Goodison, but a half-time teamtalk by David Moyes turned the home side around and they managed to come back and grab a late equaliser thanks to Duncan Ferguson. David Hopkin scored Palace's opener as they beat Preston 2-0 at Selhurst Park, and Darren Huckerby scored the last of Manchester City's goals as the Division 1 Champions won 1-3 at Gillingham. Warren Feeney scored the second of Bournemouth's three goals as they beat Chesterfield 3-1 at home: Feeney is included in the full Northern Ireland squad for next week's friendly.

April 13: Good news/bad news from the game today. Mark Viduka's goal was a brilliantly executed turn and well-placed shot - it seems he's finding his form just a bit late. The three points keep up the pressure on Chelsea and Newcastle - though realistically gaining 5 points on the Geordies now looks unlikely after they came from two goals down to win at Derby. Danny Mills got to within two minutes of avoiding a suspension - but his late foul on Vassell earned him a yellow card and so he'll be out of the games at Derby and at home to Boro for reaching 10 yellows for the season. At least Rio should be fit again by then!

April 12: It seems that a second - unnamed - player was out on the town with Jon Woodgate on Tuesday night. The club have not yet identified the player concerned, but he apparently left before the incident in which Woodgate broke his jaw occurred. Someone must have seen 'em out there - drop me an email and let me know if you did!

April 12: Rio Ferdinand will continue to sit on the sidelines for tomorrow's game, where he is now joined by centreback partner Jon Woodgate. Harry Kewell's injured leg (caused by a vicious and reckless challenge by Nicky Butt - in no respects different to the foul on David Beckham that has provoked national agony) will not have healed enough for him to play, so it will be a patched-up Leeds side taking the pitch tomorrow afternoon. Villa are likely to be unchanged - but it was announced today that Peter Schmeichel will not have his contract renewed at the end of the season, so maybe he can let us have a bungle or two for old times' sake.

April 12: Jon Woodgate will probably face a disciplinary charge from the club and could be fined up to two weeks' wages as a result of the incident that left him with a broken jaw earlier this week. Peter Ridsdale and David O'Leary are reported to be anywhere from "disappointed" to "furious" that Woodgate chose to spend his day off training by touring the bars of Middlesbrough. Woodgate is due to move into a new flat near the Leeds training complex at Wetherby very shortly - but if the reports that reach us of the players' pub crawls around that part of North Yorkshire are even remotely true, that's a move that might not have the effect desired by manager and chairman.

April 12: Sarfraz Najeib and his family have kicked off legal proceedings against Lee Bowyer in connection with the assault on Najeib 2 years ago. The family said that Bowyer would face claims for "assault, battery, conspiracy to injure and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice". Their solicitor said that Jon Woodgate and three other men would face similar action, and they earlier indicated that they would try to sue the club. The victim's father had denounced the verdict of the jury, who decided to clear Bowyer after listening to several weeks of evidence from numerous witnesses. He had said: "The violent and racist incident nearly cost my son his life, but the verdict was a blow from which we may never recover."

April 11: Is Olly really going to Lazio? According to the Italians, they are in talks with his agent, Bruno Satin and the player will be looking to double the £25,000 a week he currently earns at Leeds. Lazio are currently holding the line on the wages, and Dacourt is apparently still a bit reluctant to move when the club's fans have an openly racist element. But money talks, and if it says the right things he'll be on his way for twice what Leeds paid Lens for his services, and a chunk of that money will be used to tempt Mark van Bommel to Elland Road.

April 11: The Football Association of Wales has moved just about as fast as its English counterpart in addressing the issues surrounding the FA Cup tie with Cardiff in January. They've finally announced a date for their hearing - and it will be on May 16 and the sanctions against Cardiff could be anything from a fine to closure of all or part of Ninian Park for subsequent league or cup games.

April 11: Peter Ridsdale has cleared Jon Woodgate of any blame for the incident that left him with a broken jaw on Tuesday night. The defender has apparently indicated that it occurred after some "horseplay" outside a pub in Middlesbrough, and that he was not rolling drunk at the time. A spokesman said: "Having spoken to hospital officials we are satisfied that Jonathan had not indulged in excessive drinking." However Woodgate may face further disciplinary action as a result of the incident - which is the real issue here: he needs to understand that he can't continue to follow this sort of lifestyle if he wants to make it to the very top as a professional footballer. Other reports today said that Woodgate had tried to break up a fight between two girls, and that he was attacked by two men when he did so. There was no question of there being a racial or revenge motive in the attack though. One witness said: "It's wrong to assume Asians did this. Woodgate is unpopular with everyone because he is arrogant and flash. On Sunday night he was in the Dickens Inn being a right flash harry, throwing his money about. There are as many white lads as Asians who dislike him."

April 11: Injury news for Saturday's game is not too positive. After being down to just two strikers at one point in the season, then finding the midfield so threadbare we had to field Gary Kelly and Alan Smith out of position, Jon Woodgate's injury comes at a time when Lucas Radebe is finally just back in training, when Rio's hamstring makes him doubtful for both Saturday's visit to Villa and next week's England friendly, and fringe players Danny Hay and Michael Duberry still on the treatment table, it could be a very makeshift defence that comes out on Saturday. Danny Mills could switch to centreback, with Gary Kelly returning at right back, or we could go for the more radical option of playing Eirik Bakke alongside Dominic Matteo after the Norwegian's excellent performance in that position at Everton in March.

April 11: In the light of David Beckham's injury last night, Olivier Dacourt has told Sven Goran Eriksson that Lee Bowyer would be the man to call up for next Wednesday's friendly against Paraguay. "Bow is a very talented player who should be playing for England. His form went through a bad patch but that's behind him now, Lee has all the qualities to be a top England player for years to come."

April 10: Just as Jon Woodgate has managed to convince a few people that he's grown up a bit and has started to show his form on the pitch, here's another personal and PR disaster for the centreback. He was out yesterday evening drinking in Middlesbrough (hello - there's a game at the weekend?) with some of his friends, and he was involved in a fight at around 10pm when they left a bar, apparently looking for a taxi. Woodgate ended up with a broken jaw which will keep him out for the rest of the season, and which came to light today because he missed yet another court appearance for another speeding offence - this time being caught doing 91mph on the A1 in North Yorkshire 3 months after he had been previously caught for doing 97mph nearby. He's been banned for 6 months as a result of the latest offence and has abandoned his appeal against the previous conviction as a result. The police have not yet been involved in the incident which broke his jaw, and Woodgate and his family have not made a statement to the press or police about the incident. Leeds had insisted that Woodgate move away from Boro to escape the influences and associations which have led him into trouble of this nature on at least two occasions in the past: Peter Ridsdale must now consider whether this extremely talented young defender is worth the seemingly constant stream of negative press that he seems to generate, or whether the club should wash their hands of him and sell him to the highest bidder as soon as possible.

April 10: Leeds are trying to catch 'em younger and younger: apparently Hull have rejected a bid for their 16-year-old striker Russell Fry who has been knocking them in for the juniors this season but who wants to play for his hometown club before moving on to the big time. Slightly bigger transfer rumours involve West Brom's leftback Neil Clement, who has yet to sign a new contract. Bigger still is Roberto Ayala, who could be on his way out of Valencia in the summer.

April 10: John Charles was rushed to hospital last night after collapsing at a speaking engagement held by the Scarborough branch of the Leeds United Supporters Club. He's now resting at home, and seems to be making a good recovery. Peter Lorimer was also there, and he said: "It was quite hot in there and I think he just had a funny turn. It's good news that he's feeling all right again."

April 10: The InterToto draw was made in Switzerland today, and if Leeds are forced to enter the competition they'll face the winner of the previous rounds' games between the entrants from Estonia, Portugal, Bosnia and Switzerland. It's pretty much certain that Leeds would be involved at the third round stage - which takes place in the third week of July.

April 10: Gary Kelly's testimonial against Celtic will take place on May 7, and tickets will go on sale on Friday. Celtic have been allotted the East Stand for the game and are expected to bring a sizeable crowd. Tickets are priced at £20 for adults, £10 for concessions and £50 for a family package, with all proceeds going to cancer charities in memory of Kelly's late sister. The PFA have been quick to praise Kelly and Niall Quinn - whose own fundraiser will take place 5 days later. A spokesman said: "Players on high salaries have been criticised in the past for cashing in with a testimonial, so we are delighted to see players like Niall and Gary give something back to the game." He added: "The money the players could make from these games would safeguard their future, so we take our hat off to them for giving it up and giving something back."

April 09: Lazio are still indicating that they want to sign Olivier Dacourt - even though the midfielder has indicated his doubts about a move to that club, and even his agent claims not to know anything. Lazio's general manager remains upbeat about their chances of picking up the midfielder though, saying: "This next week will be crucial. But I must say that I'm much more hopeful of signing Dacourt than van Bommel."

April 09: Dominic Matteo is in the Scotland squad to face Nigeria at Pittodrie on April 17, and Eirik Bakke is in Norway's squad for their friendly against Sweden in Oslo the same day.

April 09: Mark Viduka could be on his way to Valencia - according to the Sun this morning. The Spanish side are prepared to pay up to £30 million to get the big Aussie leading their line in La Liga. Total rubbish says Valencia president Jaime Orti - his club are not interested in such a move. "There's no interest. He's a great player but Valencia are not interested in him and therefore we have not made any contact." Another normal day in transferland....

April 09: Robbie Keane will stay and fight for his place. Although he's been out of favour and seems to be regarded as 4th in the striker pecking order, he's done well when he's been given the chance and his goal on Sunday will hopefully lift him in DOL's estimation. "I love Leeds, it's a good club, and I feel at home here," he said. "I've heard the speculation loads of times before." He added: "Of course there is frustration in not starting, particularly as I know I'm playing well for Ireland and playing well for Leeds when I come on. But I feel good and I feel sharp, and I will just have to keep doing what I'm doing."

April 08: A meeting was held in Leeds at the weekend to initiate a Supporters Trust organisation for Leeds. The rationale for this organisation would be to acquire shares in the club and use the voting power on behalf of fans. This sort of thing has been successful in smaller clubs as they fight for financial and league survival, but it's questionable what it will do at Leeds: with the existing Supporters Club infrastructure (which in the main is not much more than a ticket distribution channel) and the recently established Fans Forum, Leeds already have well-established links with the fan base, and although the share price has dropped so far that the club could probably be purchased for the price of a couple of good-condition-one-careful-owner Jags, the dominance of the old Caspian shareholders remains an obstacle to this sort of thing having any real impact on the way the club is run.

April 08: Lee Bowyer has said that he wants to stay at Leeds for the near future at least. He said: "Of course I want to stay. The support here is great. Where can I get support like I've had here? It's impossible." Bowyer's legal and financial representatives have been in negotiation with the club, and are expected to come to an agreement on a new deal soon.

April 07: DOL had praise for Lee Bowyer in his post-match comments today. We've all seen that his form slipped earlier in the season, and O'Leary said: "I would have liked to have taken him out because things had all caught up with him, but I was unable to do that. But following his suspension, he has come back as fresh as a daisy again and it's the Lee we know. The break has done him the world of good."

April 07: Euro-time! Ajax's midweek 4-3 win over FC Groningen has put them 4 points clear at the top of the league in Holland, and Feyenoord's goalless draw at home to NAC today means that the Rotterdam side have squandered one of their two games in hand and no longer control their own fate. A second half strike from Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink gave PSV a win over 3rd bottom Den Bosch, and they are now level on points with Feyenoord. Fourth-placed Heerenveen drew 0-0 at fifth-placed Vitesse, so no changes there.

In France the title race is really hotting up, and with leaders Lens held 0-0 at home by Troyes, Lyon took their chance to close the gap to just 2 points with a 0-1 win at Auxerre that more or less ends their hosts' title challenge. PSG are still in with a shout, despite a 1-1 draw at home to Nantes yesterday, but the title will almost certainly be decided on May 4 when Lyon will want to make full use of their home advantage and take all three points from Lens.

Bayer Leverkusen may have slipped up at Anfield in midweek, but they made no mistake at home yesterday - a 13th minute penalty converted by their keeper Butt setting them on the way to a 2-0 win over bottom club Cologne, and maintaining their 4 point lead over Borussia Dortmund who came back from a goal down to beat 1860 Munich 2-1 this afternoon. Schalke are now in 3rd place after beating Hamburg 2-0, while Bayern conceded a last minute equaliser to Werder Bremen - the game finishing at 2-2 and leaving the home side 9 points off the top with just 4 games to play.

Christian Vieri scored again for leaders Inter in Italy - but the San Siro was stunned by a goal either side of that for visitors Atalanta: Inter came away with nothing and would be down to second today if Roma had won. The fact that they got a draw was down to two penalties awarded to them in the last three minutes of their game against bottom side Venezia: Vincenzo Montella converted both and salvaged a point for Roma. Juve closed the gap on Roma to just one point with a 0-4 thrashing of Perugia.

Real Madrid's 3-1 win over Ray Vallecano keeps them top of La Liga, but Valencia are closing the goal-difference gap, winning 4-0 at the Mestalla against Real Sociedad this afternoon. Deportivo La Coruna are four points off the pace, but they bounced back from their midweek defeat by Man U to record a 5-0 win over Mallorca at the Riazor, set up by a first half hat-trick for Diego Tristan. A goal in each half from Saviola gave Barca a 0-2 win at Athletic Bilbao, and they move up to 4th thanks to Real Betis and Celta Vigo both dropping points - but Barca remain 8 points off the lead with 5 games left.

After Friday's 1-1 draw between Sparta and Slavia opened up the top of the Gambrinus Liga, Viktoria Zizkov blew their chance of drawing level on points with leaders Sparta, only managing a 1-1 draw at Marila Pribram. Second-placed Slovan Liberec are at home to mid-table Jablonec tomorrow and could move into a 3 point lead with 5 games to play.

April 07: Leeds Ladies suffered a surprise defeat today at Brighton. Leeds took the lead from the spot in the 10th minute, but conceded a goal in each half to drop the points, and allow Charlton to move to within one point of taking third place from them.

April 07: Bob Taylor's goal for West Brom gave them an early lead today - and he had a broken hand at the time - but a second half equaliser for Rotherham kept the Baggies to just one point - although that was enough to take them a point clear of Wolves and into the second automatic promotion spot: their fate is now in their own hands.

April 07: A manic start by Leeds created plenty of chances and it was no surprise that Leeds managed to take an early lead - although Jody Craddock was a little unfortunate that his interception of Alan Smith's cross should loop so perfectly over the keeper and under the bar when he'd done well to get to the ball ahead of Mark Viduka. Robbie Fowler was inches away from a second goal and should have done better with a couple of other chances, and Patrick Mboma blazed Sunderland's best chance over the bar as they enjoyed some sustained possession in the second half. A minute after Mboma's chance, the game was over: Robbie Keane was played onside by an injured Sunderland player hobbling out much slower than the rest of the defence, and he despatched Mark Viduka's pass with ease. Sunderland battled well but the fact that they didn't manage one shot on target in the whole 90 minutes shows what problems they've had away from home this season: they're probably just clear of real relegation worries but need a bit of a summer shake-up if they're not to repeat this again next season. And finally - I've not been slow to criticise Ian Harte for his defensive lapses, but today he did well for the side in defence - producing a couple of crucial blocks and heading the ball off the line with Nige well beaten. Maybe he did give the ball away a couple of times going forward, but this was a far more solid performance from Harte, and with Mark Viduka managing to look like he was still able to break into something more than a jog for the full 90 minutes, the big question must be "What have they put in the water?" :-)

April 07: DOL is relieved that the season is finally coming to a close: "Like many others here, I have been through the mill this season. It's not been an enjoyable experience at times," he said. However, he's not totally negative about the whole experience: "It's made me a better manager." He pointed out that his development of the players had increased the squad's value considerably more than his expenditure, and that wasn't all that had improved: "This club has come a long way in the 3 years since I took charge. Gates are up by 10,000, we have put ourselves in that elite top six in the Premiership and a lot of money has been made along the way. We are also a name once again throughout Europe."

April 06: Darren Huckerby scored his second hat-trick in a week today as Man City hammered Barnsley 5-1 at Maine Road. Clyde Wijnhard's scoring run continues for his new club - he got the opener for Preston against Coventry today as they went on to beat their visitors 4-0. JFH scored twice in the first half as Chelsea kept the pressure up on Newcastle by beating Everton 3-0 at Stamford Bridge today. Jamie Forrester scored Northampton's 3rd as they beat Wycombe 3-1. Finally, Noel Whelan's chances of playing in next week's FA Cup semi-final took a knock when he was carried off in the first half today with a hamstring injury, but Boro still managed to beat Villa 2-1 with both goals scored by ex-Villa players, Carbone and Ehiogu.

April 06: We've got 5 Cup Finals to go this season according to DOL - and we want to win them all. The manager said: "The desire is certainly there among the players to go on and win every game, and we can do it if we get the same type of performance, effort and will we showed against Manchester United, even when we were 4-1 down."

April 06: Details of Gary Kelly's testimonial have been finalised: Leeds will take on newly-crowned Scottish Champions Celtic at Elland Road on May 7. The proceeds will be donated to the Drogheda Cancer Support Centre in the Republic of Ireland and Teenage Cancer Support in Leeds. His sister Mandy died of breast cancer 4 years ago, and Kelly said: "I think everyone knows I lost her to cancer, and I think everyone knows someone, either in their family, friends, or friends of friends that have this horrible disease we can't get rid of. It would be nice if we could find a cure for it, so I'm looking to make a good night of it, get a few bob and hopefully the proceeds will help along the way." And he's hoping that the example set by him and Niall Quinn will be followed by other players who can well afford it: "I'd like to hope what Niall and I are doing will spur other players on to do the same."

April 05: Danny Mills has to be on his best behaviour for the next two games: if he picks up one more booking that will take him to ten for the season and invoke an automatic 2 match ban from the FA. If he gets past April 14, then he's safe and will not suffer any further sanction for additional bookings - but Sunderland has traditionally been a bit of a fiery fixture so let's hope that he takes a leaf out of Alan Smith's book and shows a bit of common sense on Sunday.

April 05: Lee Bowyer has agreed broad terms for a 5 year extension to his contract with Peter Ridsdale. Yesterday's negotiations went very well, and Lee confirmed he wanted to stay at Leeds. The chairman said: "We have a little ground to make up on a part of the negotiations which I expect to finalise at a further meeting in the next week or so."

April 05: Eirik Bakke says that the team owe the fans a win on Sunday after this season's poor performance at the Stadium of Light and the team will be going all out to bag the full 15 points available from the last 5 games of the season. He said: "Our fans have been brilliant all season. I know they are disappointed that we are not higher up the league, but so are the players. We have been working extra hard in training to try to put things right, but it's been a hard season both on and off the pitch."

April 05: Transfer lies and rumours: Leeds are interested in taking Chris Sutton away from Celtic - as if he'd add anything to what we've got! The fact that this rumour comes out just as Celtic are about to clinch the title might lead some paranoid Bhoys fans to assume that this is just the press out to destabilise them again. And Mark van Bommel now says that he would consider a move to Leeds. He said: "They are a big club and I was impressed with the way they played against us in the UEFA Cup. If they want to talk, I'm happy to listen." Would that be because his negotiations with other clubs have fallen through perhaps?

April 04: It could have been us.... In tonight's UEFA Cup semis, Feyenoord took a surprise 0-1 win away from Inter at the San Siro after Ivan Cordoba scored an own goal in the second half. Marcio Amoroso struck a first half hat-trick in the other match as Dortmund took Milan to the cleaners in Germany, ending up 4-0 winners.

April 04: The InterToto draw will take place in Switzerland on Tuesday of next week, and it's a measure of Leeds' desperation that they have agreed to enter at either the second or third round stages: the second round starts barely a week after the World Cup ends, and all of the other big teams who have put their names forward have said that they'll only enter if they can start in the third round on July 20. But we'll be in the UEFA Cup anyway, so it will all be irrelevant :-)

April 04: Gary Kelly's chances of playing in the World Cup Finals were boosted today with the news that Spurs' Stephen Carr has been told to rest for 8 weeks to cure a knee problem, and he will now not be available to play until next season.

April 04: Another young England call-up to report: keeper Shaun Allaway is in the squad for the U-19's European Championship play-off with Lithuania. The first leg is away in Kanus on April 17, with the return to be played at the City Ground on April 21. It's a Sunday afternoon with not much else on - so get on down to cheer the England youngsters on if you're in the area.

April 04: Former Leeds defender Mickey Adams will be taking over as manager of Leicester from Monday, with Dave Bassett moving up to take a "Director of Football" role (whatever that means).

April 04: The never-ending trial of the men accused of killing Kevin Speight and Christopher Loftus 2 years ago was due to reach a conclusion today - but was adjourned yet again because one of the defence lawyers has a cold. The trial will resume on May 1 when another poor excuse for a postponement will be wheeled out.

April 03: Mark Viduka really is staying at Leeds - and Celtic won't be seeing their share of his fee - according to today's reports. The Glasgow club had negotiated a chunk of any profit Leeds might make from a sale - believed to be about 15% - but the Aussie striker said: "I think it's all rumours. I'm happy at Leeds. Why would I want to leave? There was speculation last year too. In this game anything can happen. But as I've said a 1000 times it would have to be something extra special to get me out of here because, although we've had some bad results lately, I think there's a bright future at Leeds and I can fulfil my ambitions here."

April 03: Skipper Rio Ferdinand blasted the team's performances this season, stating quite simply that the team has not been good enough. "Looking back I don't think we've had two back-to-back games where we've played really well," he said. But he thought that the players could learn a few lessons, saying: "Hopefully it's a good basis for us to work from for next season." With a UEFA place to play for - and 5th place prize money rather than 6th - there's still something to compete for this season. He added: "It's not a time for looking pretty, it's a time for just getting the result. That's the most important thing."

April 03: Tomorrow is D-Day for Lee Bowyer: Peter Ridsdale will be meeting his representatives to discuss the new contract that the club have offered. The chairman has previously indicated that Bowyer would be sold in the summer if he fails to agree a new deal, and it will be interesting to see just who thinks they have the upper hand in these negotiations in the light of the near-collapse of ITV Digital and the - almost - certain future prospect of Murdoch's SkySports using that as a club to hammer down their Premier League broadcast contract when it comes up for renegotiation soon: players are going to have to accept that the cake will be a lot smaller in future, and they'll have to do a lot more to justify a large slice.

April 03: England are putting a U-20 squad together for a game next week, comprising of a load of players you've probably never heard of unless you're an unhealthy football obsessive (hi there!). Peter Crouch of Villa, Matthew Etherington of Spurs, Kevin Nolan of Bolton and Bobby Zamora of Brighton are probably the most recognisable names, but they're joined by Leeds full-back Frazer Richardson for the game on April 10.

April 03: Willem Korsten has linked up with NEC Nijmegen - where he started his career, playing 4 times for them in 1992-93 - and will take up the position of youth coach from next season. Korsten was invalided out of the game earlier this season after failing to shake off the latest in a long line of injuries.

April 03: Paul Robinson had a bit of a bad night last night: the only recognised first team player in the reserve squad, he had to pick the ball out of his net 5 times at Bootham Crescent, with Leeds failing to trouble the scorers.

April 02: Transfer rumours today (note, it's no longer April 1) linked Michael Duberry with a move to Celtic. Martin O'Neill has been interested in signing Doobs before, and his position at the back of the centreback queue at Leeds, despite his stated intention to fight his way back into the starting line-up must make a move for the big defender a strong possibility - either from north of the border or from one of the promoted teams for next season.

April 02: InterToto here we come? Or will we be shrugging our shoulders and squeezing into the UEFA Cup by next week? Well, the 4 Champions League slots look beyond us now, and even though Chelsea could only draw against Ipswich, we've let them steal a march on us and might struggle to finish above them in the league. But if Chelsea and Arsenal beat Fulham and Boro in the forthcoming FA Cup semi-finals, then we'll be home and dry for the remaining UEFA Cup place before we've finished our Easter eggs!

April 02: Harry Kewell looks certain to miss the Sunderland game, and possibly the Villa game as well after having his foot jumped on by Nicky Butt on Saturday. Rio should be ready to return for next Sunday's game, provided his knee responds to some intensive treatment sessions this week.

April 02: The reserves play Blackburn Rovers at Bootham Crescent tonight - it's not expected that many of the first team regulars will be in action, since they are all either injured or were in action yesterday.

April 01: Gary Kelly has announced that - like Niall Quinn - the proceeds from his testimonial game, which could raise up to half a million quid - will be given to a cancer charity. "I know some people will say that we are only following Niall's lead and that's fair enough. But it's irrelevant as far as I'm concerned," he said. Good on you mate - and I don't think anybody would dream of criticising the decision. In fact, there's quite a few others out there who should be encouraged to do likewise - lining the pockets of players who have generously foregone a slice of a massive transfer fee to stay at one club, but have pocketed an even larger pay packet into the bargain is not what testimonials should be about.

April 01: More criticism of the defence from the manager after today's defeat. "Our general play today was good but we went two goals down through two bad defensive errors. The players don't mean to do it but they do it because they are human." Aha! The O'Leary 5-year mission is now clear: he'll seek out new defenders, new keepers, he'll boldly spend money in transfer markets where no manager has gone before!

April 01: Harry Kewell and Sheree Murphy have set the date for their wedding. They'll be having a quiet do - apparently overseas next month with just a few friends and family present.

April 01: The big game in Holland today saw PSV get to within two points of leaders Feyenoord after a 4-1 win over Heerenveen with goals from Hofland, Ramzi and Rommedahl.

April 01: Clyde Wijnhard scored again for Preston today but it came when they were already two goals behind at Barnsley, and that was the last goal of the day. Bob Taylor scored the only goal of the day as West Brom kept up their promotion challenge with a 0-1 win at Coventry. Mark Ford scored the fourth of Darlington's five unanswered goals that finally condemned Halifax to a second spell in the Conference.

April 01: Mark Viduka has shrugged off talk of a £30 million move to Deportivo in the summer. "It is part of football that players are bought and sold, but I know nothing about this offer and it's all just rumours," he said. Scratching his ear and looking down (any body language experts in the house?) he added: "As I've said before I'm happy at Leeds. I love the club, the city and the fans are brilliant." He's still hoping for direct qualification to Europe next season though: "The players here don't want to be involved in the Intertoto Cup and coming back early from our summer break, so we now have to work hard to make sure we qualify for Europe directly."

April 01: Yet another performance that was not quite there from Leeds. A decent opening in the first half, plenty of chances, two stupidly conceded goals and doing almost but not quite enough to get something out of the game. And if anyone has a spare watch, could they please send it to Mr Rennie c/o the FAPL. Despite a fairly lengthy stoppage in the first half, plus all of Keller's timewasting he called for a minute to be added - and played what seemed like half of that, and with 4 subs used plus a good minute to fix the corner flag plus Keller again wasting time, to have just 2 in the second half would seem a little economical with the timekeeping. Having said that, we could probably have played for another half hour and not scored :-(

April 01: Fans at today's game at White Hart Lane will receive a leaflet from the club warning that anyone found guilty of racist chanting and abuse will face a life ban from Leeds games. The club were forced to take the latest action after a few chants at Leicester caused their chairman and fans to speak out to the national press. The leaflet says: "On behalf of everyone at Elland Road we ask you to support Leeds United in the right way. We don't want to hear racist chants today or at any future games. We are proud to be part of a club that welcomes players, fans and employees of all nationalities and colour. People who chant racist abuse will face life bans from Leeds United. We back this stance, so please support the club in the right way."

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