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Leeds United News from The Sporting Life    Yorkshire Evening Post


August 31: Strange refereeing decisions part 17. With Roy Keane's book in front of the FA this week, you'd have thought he'd be on his best behaviour. So elbowing Jason McAteer in front of the referee would not be on the list of things to do. Remarkably, Uriah Rennie made a sensible call and gave Keane a straight red - so he should miss the visit to Elland Road. Fergie ignored the evidence of the camera and said it was a bad decision and that McAteer made a meal of it. As it is, that red card should have reduced Man U to 7 men after Rennie's remarkable tolerance of bad fouls by Phil Neville and David Beckham who were already carded, and a blatant goalline handball by Laurent Blanc that would have seen any non-OT player in the dressing room within 5 seconds. Still, you've got to laugh at Keane: this latest transgression might just be one too many for the FA who might finally find the guts to give this thug an exemplary ban.

August 31: Very late news: Leeds have signed Teddy Lucic on loan from AIK Solna until the end of the season. Lucic is a Swedish international defender who plays in particular at....left back. Harte's corners and free kicks were abysmal today even if his defensive play wasn't that bad for once - but this looks like it could be the beginning of the end.

August 31: What can I say. A truly dreadful performance by Leeds against a team that quite simply wanted the win more than we did. Eirik Bakke was dire and Nick Barmby barely touched the ball in a midfield that was outnumbered for the majority of the game. Okay, we hit the post twice, but this formation is one that works if we manage to score first but is an out and out disaster if we have to retain possession and put the opposition under pressure. Credit to Brum: their fans made a lot of noise, their players wanted it more and their organisation was far superior to ours. A few sour grapes with Robbie Savage of course: his gesture to the Leeds fans at the end of the game was incitement that would have been hammered by the FA if it had been done by Lee Bowyer but we can expect nothing more than a gentle slapped wrist at most for Savage. With Newcastle and Man U up next, El Tel has a massive job to do if we aren't to find that the season is over by the end of September.

August 30: Quick update - it now seems as if the UEFA Cup away leg will be played 60 miles from Zaporizhzhya in Dniepropelrovsk - a mere 270 miles from Kyiv according to the Telegraph.

August 30: Jon Woodgate is set to start tomorrow - with Lucas Radebe knocked to the sidelines with injury problems. Seth Johnson is also doubtful, so it's going to be interesting who picks up the two slots in the team/on the bench: will it be Doobs and Wilcox - or will Tel give a couple of the youngsters a chance?

August 30: Well that told us department. Brazilian Edmilson - currently with Olympique Lyonnais - has been offered the possibility of playing for Leeds - but doesn't want to take a step down. He said: "Both clubs are a little under Lyon on the European scene, and in those conditions I cannot see the interest in leaving the champions of France."

August 30: Leeds have agreed a knockdown fee of just £7 million with Spurs for the sale of Robbie Keane. Keane was travelling down to London today for a medical, and it's a great shame to lose him. El Tel said: "He did ask to go. He stated that last week, even though I thought he was settled. Obviously he was not. We are now going to have to go with all the players we've got - we still have three strikers in the squad, while Robbie Fowler is only four weeks away from returning from his injury." In other deadline day deals, Villa have signed former Wimbledon and Liverpool midfielder Oyvind Leonhardsen from Spurs on a free, Sunderland have swooped for Tore Andre Flo and Marcus Stewart, Jari Litmanen has gone back to Ajax after it was made clear to him that he had no real future at Anfield, Charlton have picked up ex-ManU player Jesper Blomqvist and former Boro midfielder Robbie Mustoe. Much-travelled Andrei Kanchelskis has landed at Southampton, and two new keepers join the Premier League - but only as backup: Rami Shaaban of Sweden joins Arsenal and Ricardo of Spain steps into the injury breach at Old Trafford.

August 30: Young keeper Shaun Allaway will go to Blundell Park to give Grimsby cover - and hopefully gain some first team experience - for the next 3 months. Allaway was signed in a big fanfare from Reading and has mainly played for the Youth team so far and is a regular for the England U-20 side but has yet to make it to the bench for the first team. He'll probably be on the bench for Grimsby's visit to Millwall on Saturday.

August 30: So we've been drawn just about as far from home as is possible in the UEFA draw. FC Metalurg Zaporizhzhya (or Zaporizhzhye or Zaporizhzhia depending on what spelling you trust) is in TransCarpathia, about 350 miles southeast of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, and just about equidistant from Odessa on the Black Sea coast. It sits on the bank of the Dnipr river and is a major industrial centre for the region. You need a visa to visit Ukraine, and it's an overnight train ride (or maybe an internal flight to nearby Dnipropetrovsk) from Kyiv, but you can get a (relatively) cheap flight to Kyiv on Ukraine International Airlines: flights from London are about one fifth the price of the equivalent on BA. Looking forward to visiting this farflung footballing outpost - but can't help feeling that a nice little trip to Budapest to renew our acquaintance with Ferencvaros wouldn't have been an easier - and cheaper - way of starting the UEFA Cup campaign. The home leg will be played on September 19, with the visit to Zaporizhzhya on October 3. The stadium apparently has a capacity of 24,000 - so I'd hope we won't have any problems getting tickets if we go under our own steam. If you've got web access, then just click here to see where it is.

August 29: The UEFA Cup draw takes place at 1400 CET (1300 BST) tomorrow and at last the full list of qualifiers is known. The 96 teams in the draw will be divided up into 6 groups of 16, each group comprising 8 seeded and 8 unseeded teams (Leeds are 4th seeds overall) based on geographic regions, with the aim of keeping apart teams from the same country (and also avoiding England/Scotland clashes). Ipswich, Aberdeen and Livingston all made it through the qualifying round tonight where they join the likes of Zimbru Chisinau of Moldova, Excelsior Mouscron of Belgium, Siroki Brijeg of Bosnia and Leeds' former opponents Hajduk Split and Ferencvaros. Tomorrow lunchtime could be a race for the atlases, never mind the flight schedules!

August 29: Mark Viduka has been playing with a dodgy ankle, he revealed today. He missed the Rangers game with a mystery ankle injury that cleared up for him to play in the first games of the season, but he reckons he's got tendonitis. "It is a difficult injury to treat. If you rest it, you can come back for the next game and still find it hurting, so the best way is to go through the pain and try to keep training and playing." He added: "I could have surgery but if that happened it would put me out for a long time, so I am trying to avoid it." Not least because he might find himself at the back of a queue of 5 talented strikers if the others enjoy success in his absence! He is positive about his prospects and is trying not to dwell on the worst case: "This is the same sort of injury that Harry, Macca and Batts had, though I hope it won't turn out to be as bad as theirs... I'm just trying to play it cool and get through it as well as possible."

August 29: A new phrase entered the English language yesterday, as El Tel commented on last night's game. Speaking of the incident which everyone in the ground bar the ref knew to be a foul inside the area, TV said: "I felt it was a stone banker penalty. Gray came in when Viduka was about to head it. He's not even looking at the ball. He's just decided he's going to go into him and keep his fingers crossed that no one sees him - which is what happened!" He was realistic and expected that Sunderland wouldn't be the only side to adopt such negative tactics at Elland Roadthis year: "We've got to expect teams to come and play like that and we've got to be able to overcome that. Sometimes you just have to grind out a result." And unlike his predecessor, he had a bit of sympathy for the fans who booed the side off the pitch at the end of the game. "If they do it at the end it's ok. As long as they are with you during the game and help keep you going, it's up to them how they feel they should react." And looking forward to Saturday's game he said: "We've go to brush ourselves down and get ready to go to Birmingham on Saturday. I hope this makes us that much more determined to achieve again."

August 28: A mistake at the start of the second half by Harry Kewell let in Sunderland for an easy goal, and although Leeds were denied a blatant penalty when Mark Viduka was flattened a few minutes later, they never looked like scoring against a well-organised and smothering Sunderland defence. So there goes the unbeaten start, unbeaten home record, 41-year unbeaten record at home in the league to Sunderland and the chance of staying top for the month.... El Tel has a big job on to pick up the team ahead of a difficult visit to St Andrews on Saturday: the Blues will be up for this one.

August 28: Jon Woodgate is expected to have a talk with Sven Goran Erickson and discuss his responsibilities as an England player now that he's available for selection again. FA chief exec Adam Crozier said that Woody was available for selection - but the choice was ultimately made by Erickson. Crozier said: "There will no doubt be some people who disagree but I think the majority of people would think that a ban of two years and nine months is a long time. He has also done all the right things since the court case such as his community service and working with fans. You have to draw a line and move on at some point."

August 28: Robbie Keane is coming down to London for talks with Glenn Hoddle today ahead of the deadline of tomorrow that Leeds have given for potential buyers to bid by. Hold on, he's playing tonight so he isn't going anywhere today. Or in the longer term - he's staying at Leeds. All these messages came out of the club with the high-priced PR man today: maybe the intention is to confuse the press pack to death so they won't be able to write nasty things about us.

August 28: David Hopkin has gone back to his roots, returning to Greenock Morton - the club where he started his professional career on a free transfer.

August 27: The mist finally clears around the last few UEFA Cup places as tonight saw the InterToto finals and some more Champions League qualifiers. An Inamoto hat-trick saw Fulham easily through against Bologna, winning 3-1 at Loftus Road, Malaga won their InterToto final with a 1-1 second leg draw at home to Villareal and Stuttgart left it until 8 minutes from the end before equalising and then overturning a first leg one goal deficit. Sporting Lisbon, Sparta Prague, Partizan Belgrade, Fenerbahce and Man U's opponents Zalaegerszeg all suffered in the Champions League qualifiers - but none of these are likely to be our opponents when the draw is made at 1400 CET on Friday due to the seeding system. There are a further 11 Champions League qualifiers tomorrow before the UEFA Cup Qualifying Round has its 2nd leg on Thursday. Will Birkirkara overturn a 0-3 deficit against Zaporizhya? Are Grevenmacher and Anorthosis football teams or just strange respiratory infections? And more to the point, does Ryanair fly to Zimbru or Litex? And can I use these names the next time I play Scrabble?

August 27: Team news for tomorrow looks pretty good for Leeds with Jon Woodgate's knee not suffering too badly following Saturday's game at The Hawthorns, so Leeds are likely to start with an unchanged side. Sunderland midfielder Gavin McCann injured his ankle against Everton and is ruled out, and new signing Matt Piper could get his first start. The ref tomorrow will be Graham Barber: he's produced 12 yellows and one red for us in 4 games over the last two years, but has been pretty even-handed, dishing out 11 yellows to the opposition: he's booked Danny Mills twice and sent him off once, but we've had quite a law-abiding start to the season this year. For Sunderland new signing Stephen Wright will be hoping to break his run of a yellow card in each game so far this season.

August 27: El Tel says that Robbie Keane can leave Leeds if he's not happy with the current situation. Keane expressed some dissatisfaction in the press at the weekend, saying that he wanted to start games, not just come on as a sub. Venables said: "If there's any interest I will look at it and if he doesn't want to be here, I will feel the same. He's probably thinking 'do I stay now for four months or do I try and get a club now where I can play every week?'" But he knew that when the approaches were made by Spurs and Sunderland - and Keane needs to make his mind up very very soon.

August 27: El Tel says it's nice being on top of the league and captain Dom Matteo says the boss came up with some good tactics and formation changes on Saturday that have really made a difference. Yawn. TV: "It is very nice to be top of the league. We all know it is very early on - even in ten games time it will still be early - but I am proud.... It gives the boys confidence and makes them think that maybe what we are doing on the training field and out on the pitch is along the right lines." Dom: "We're all versatile and if things need changing we'll do that, and it was good thinking on behalf of Tel and the staff. If we can keep it tight and, with the players we've got we will score goals, that's why it's important for our midfield and backline players to really do a good job, then if we get the ball to our forwards they'll do a job for us."

August 27: Could the Emerton deal be back on? Hard to say really - but there's not much time to move for the talented midfielder, and he'd be out of the running for any Euro games this year. Bobby Robson is refusing to go any higher than £8 million - which is still £3 million short of Feyenoord's valuation, so Leeds have a chance to nip in if El Tel can persuade the board to buy again.

August 27: Leeds will definitely not be taking control of Sydney Sharks in Australian National Soccer League. Sharks chairman Nick Politis revealed that Leeds had finally pulled out after talks that had been going on intermittently for several months. Do any of these commercial/football deals that we try to set up ever work? There was this, the Oldham academy, the all-new sponsored stadium and of course - back in time - we had the motor racing team (car supplier Reynard are in administration so that's probably the end of that whatever they might say) and further back still the ice hockey team that were going to play at the multiplex/restaurant/shopping/ arena complex we were going to build....

August 26: El Tel hasn't given up hope of retaining Lee Bowyer's services. "If he wants to leave at the end of this year then I will be very disappointed. It has happened to me before but I have no problems with that if it happens." He made it clear that although he is a supporter of the freedom of contract players gained under the Bosman ruling, it did have its downside. "I don't think - and I've felt for a long while - that it is the golden egg that everyone felt it was going to be. There are going to be a lot of good players that can't get clubs." And Venables knows the question isn't going to go away - particularly when Bowyer keeps scoring goals like the cracker he managed on Saturday. "It is clear the fans appreciate what a good player he really is and I am sure with every week that goes by and every good performance he puts in then we will be talking about the same things over again."

August 26: We ate all the pies according to Tesco. Their research shows that Leeds is the biggest city for pie consumption in the UK, outstripping the likes of Liverpool by 20%. Over 1.2 million savoury pies have been eaten in Leeds in the last 6 months, and although earlier stats are not available, the numbers must have been boosted by the presence of a certain goalscorer. A Tesco spokesperson said: "It's great news for the British pie industry and great news for pie fans too."

August 26: In an interview in today's Times with Rick Broadbent (author of "Looking for Eric"), Peter Ridsdale had a few interesting things to say about Rio, DOL and Lee Bowyer. He complained about the abuse he'd received since Rio's transfer went through. "The letters I've had since Rio Ferdinand left have been appalling, threatening stuff that make you wonder about people's psychological state. It shocks me that they can be so vitriolic towards me and it's a reminder of how passionate fans can be in a negative way." He knocks DOL's infamous book, pointing to what it did to team morale and performance: "We were top on January 1 and then had an appalling two months. The attitude and motivation of the players wasn't what it should have been." Speaking about Bowyer, he said he regretted saying that he regretted signing him, and had apologised to the player, but that Bowyer had not really accepted Ridsdale's apology. Read the full interview here.

August 25: With the UEFA Cup draw looming on Friday (Easyjet, Ryanair, Go and Buzz get ready for a flood of bookings on Friday lunchtime) it's time to take a look at who's doing what around the continent.

In the Bundesliga, Bayer Leverkusen are trying to avoid last season's late disappointments by playing badly early on. Yesterday they went down 2-4 to league leaders Bochum despite taking the lead early in the first half. Hansa Rostock are in second place after hammering Energie Cottbus 0-4, but it looks like Bayern Munich are in pole position as the campaign gets underway, sitting pretty in third place after beating Hamburg 3-0.

Nice top the pile in France following a 2-1 after Kaba Diawara scored again in their 2-1 win over Montpelier. A Sonny Anderson hat-trick saw Olympique Lyonnais well on their way to a 4-1 win over Bastia, but Girondins Bordeaux missed out on their chance to go top when they were beaten 1-2 at home by Racing Strasbourg. Nantes could have joined Nice and Auxerre on 9 points at the top if they'd held on to a 2-0 half-time lead, but they allowed RC Lens back into it and the visitors held on to make it 3 draws in 4 games.

In the second round of Eredivisie games, Feyenoord slipped at Roda JC, squandering a 0-1 and 1-2 lead and allowing Ajax (1-2 winners at Arnhem after being a goal down) and PSV (squeaking a 1-0 win at home to Groningen thanks to a late goal from Johann Vogel) to steal an early march on them at the top of the table. However, the top team after two games is RKC Waalwijk, cementing that place with a come-from-behind 1-2 win at Heerenveen.

Anderlecht and Club Brugge both recorded 0-2 wins at Standard Liege and Westerlo respectively and they top the table with 100% records. The two other teams with perfect records before this weekend - Lokeren and Excelsior Mouscron - lost at Lommel and Antwerp. Lierse now sit in third place and are the only other unbeaten team after their 0-2 win at Beveren.

Will somebody in Switzerland please give Grasshoppers a run for their money? The leaders won 2-4 at Delemont yesterday and are now 9 points clear after Basle lost 4-2 at Thun. Second place is now held by Grasshoppers city rivals Zurich (whose ground saw several confused Leeds fans turn up last November) after they won 4-2 at home to Neuchatel Xamax.

Football resumed in the Czech Republic this weekend - and it's the same old story. Sparta Prague chalked up a 3-0 win on Friday night at home to FC Synot, with Slavia Prague winning 1-3 at FK Teplice and Slovan Liberec scoring the only goal of the game after just 6 minutes to beat Bohemians. Jablonec notched a 2-1 win over Viktoria Zizkov today to jump over their visitors (and Slavia who have played one game less) into 3rd place, and the only other unbeaten record went down the pan as Olomouc lost 1-2 at home to Boby Brno, despite the visitors being reduced to 10 men after just 20 minutes.

August 25: Leeds Ladies drew 2-2 at home to Charlton this afternoon with Leeds' goals coming from Chantel Woodhead and Lucy Ward.

August 25: Not much transfer gossip around people coming in and going out of Elland Road, but Newcastle are said to be renewing their interest in Brett Emerton (though stopping short of a bid) and JFH's agent has been making it clear that he didn't speak to anyone about his client's desire to play for Barca and that he's really happy at Chelsea honest and he loves London and the Spanish phrasebook that he was reading on the coach was just an example of his client's commitment to broadening his horizons and extending his education. Finally, bizarre-but-maybe-true story of the weekend has somersaulting ex-Newcastle star Tino Asprilla in talks with Darlo. After Newcastle he was at Parma and subsequently back in Colombia, but Darlo chairman George Reynolds might have the money to back the deal (witness the impressive new stadium) if a work permit is forthcoming.

August 25: Robbie Keane - who has already turned down a firm offer of a move from Sunderland and a tentative one from Spurs - is quoted in today's tabloids as saying he wants a move unless he gets a starting place at Leeds. Although he loves playing for Leeds, and admits: "I realise no professional footballer can be given a cast-iron guarantee of first-team football," he's adamant he needs to be a starter: "At this stage of my career, I can't afford to spend week after week on the bench waiting for a chance to impress in the closing stages of games." Guess it depends what you want Robbie: a regular start at a team with little chance of European football or a top 3 finish, or being part of a squad challenging for honours on multiple fronts at home and abroad. It's a tough call for the player to make - but there's plenty of demand for his services out there, so the decision will be his to make if the clubs stump up the money.

August 25: Lee Bowyer has adopted the Harry Kewell "I'd love to play in Italy one day" line for his own purposes - but for Bowyer the target is playing in London, and if he's got any ambition that can only mean playing for Arsenal. He said: "I'm not going to deny the fact I'd like to go to London one day, but I don't know when that will be. I didn't go to Liverpool because to me it was like I was running away from my problems." Speaking further about the failed move to Anfield he said: "Everyone else seemed to be saying I wanted to go, how I wanted to leave to further my career but I didn't see it that way." Since it was his own agent relaying those words a month or so ago, that's just asking us to suspend a little bit too much incredulity Lee. Give us a straight answer or persuade Arsene Wenger to sign you this week.

August 25: Paul Okon said that he knew he didn't have a guaranteed place in the Leeds line-up. He said: "[Venables] can't guarantee any players games but he said if I was willing to take on the challenge he'd love to have me. I had my heart set on this and if it had fallen through I don't know where I'd be now." Okon is stlll a little short of full match fitness but should be ready to start challenging for a place next month - just when the European games start to come up and the visits of Manchester United and Arsenal and a trip to St James Park will ask some serious questions of the current squad.

August 25: Post-match reaction from the managers was more or less on the same lines as last week. El Tel said: "They threw everything at us early on and did extremely well to give us a lot of problems. Sometimes it's hard to stem that - but in the second half we played some excellent football." Gary Megson felt a bit hard done by: "We missed a lot of chances and defended badly - but in between both boxes we did okay. We've just got to learn lessons quickly about finishing. We couldn't do much more regarding creating the opportunities - but we turned down the opportunity to shoot a number of times. Yet when Leeds were in the same position it was 'bang'." He added: "I don't think 3-1 was a fair reflection of the game. If we'd got the first goal it might have been different - but 'if' is a big word."

August 25: Old boys in the goals yesterday included Darren Huckerby who took one of a dozen chances that came his way to send Newcastle to defeat at Maine Road. Brian Deane was on target again for Leicester as they beat Reading 2-1. Simon Johnson opened the scoring for Hull against Bury, but the visitors equalised in the second half and that's the way it stayed. Clyde Wijnhard scored the second of Oldham's two second half goals as they disposed of Lancashire rivals Tranmere 2-0.

August 24: Generally good time had by all up in Baggieland. Most of the locals were friendly and welcoming - but there was some 1970s style trouble just outside the ground as the fans left. With the police paying no attention to anywhere other than the immediate vicinity of the stadium, a scuffle kicked off between a few rival supporters that saw one lad crack his head on the pavement and - laid out cold - be the subject of several vicious kicks from a couple of West Brom's cave-dwelling tendency. Not a nice note to end the day on for anyone - and most of the other West Brom fans told the thugs to stop. On a day when a minute's silence was impeccably observed by all the fans at The Hawthorns and all the other grounds around the country for the two murdered schoolgirls, this was the last thing any sane person wanted to see.

August 24: With the fans chanting "Sign your contract for the lads", Lee Bowyer might start to take the hint. Or he might not. Terry Venables says the ball is in the player's court: "I'm not going to keep pressing him about it - it's in his hands not ours. When a player has a year to go he can sit and wait - it's his right to do that. But he's working really hard in training every day and I'm really pleased with his whole attitude."

August 24: Jon Woodgate made a surprisingly quick recovery from his knee injury and started the game today. He was solid enough, if sometimes part of a defence that still gives away too many chances but has yet to come up against a class finisher. All three of Leeds' goals had something special about them: Viduka's play to hold up and run with the ball from inside his own half that set up the first, Kewell's backheel and Bowyer's inch-perfect finish for the second, and the perfect timing and clinical finishing by Vidooks for the third. Shame we had to blot our copybook by letting them get one back at the end.

August 24: Today's Daily Mail reports that DOL is getting ready to take Leeds to court after failing to agree a settlement following his dismissal in the summer. This would be the first time that any sacked manager has done this in over 10 years and would be yet another embarrassment for the club just when things had started going quiet.

August 24: TribalFootball says that Leeds will offer a contract to Cameroonian triallist Roger Pandong. He's played for short spells in a couple of reserve games and has been training with the club for a couple of weeks and would be available on a free transfer.

August 23: El Tel sounded a note of caution over tomorrow's game against relegation favorites West Brom. "West Brom had a very good home record last season and we know that they will be looking for a cracking start at home once again on Saturday. They did look very organised against Manchester United in what was a very tough match for them." He went on: "I feel sure they will come at us right from the very start and give the lads something to think about but we will need to be ready and it will again be interesting to see how we can handle things."

August 23: Nigel Martyn thinks that he's got little chance of making it into the national side while he's playing for the stiffs. "I'd have thought that I'd have to be playing regularly at first team level for me to be even considered at international level. I don't really think that I can hope for a call-up just because I have performed well for the reserves against Blackburn Rovers at Wakefield." He had a frustrating summer with his fruitless trip to the Far East with England and then finding that his call not to make the huge tour back out that way with the Leeds squad had given Paul Robinson the chance to stake his claim to the starting place. But he's realistic about his current situation and his prospects. "To be honest, I haven't really thought about quitting but I have to admit that it was very frustrating during the summer to be going out with your country and then not even playing one match.... Right now England is the last thing on my mind and I'm more concerned about making sure I earn my Leeds place back."

August 23: One-game wonder Wes Boyle has found a new club after being released in the summer. Boyle has joined Portadown in Northern Ireland after an initially promising career at Leeds never quite got off the ground.

August 23: Jon Woodgate's knee injury reopened on the training pitch, so he's out of contention for tomorrow's game, so both Leeds and the Baggies expect to field unchanged sides after Dominic Matteo made a miraculous recovery from the injury that kept him out of Scotland's disappointing midweek game against Denmark.

August 22: We always rant on about what's wrong at Elland Road but nobody seems to listen. Well, now there's an official suggestion box where you can put your thoughts and comments on just about anything from the Euro games, stewarding, community issues and anti-racism initiatives. The Fans Forum is soliciting feedback and for volunteers to work on a variety of issues, so if you've got some time - or just an opinion you feel strongly enough about - drop them an email here.

August 22: I'm sure he was misquoted, but our one-time striker hasn't done much to endear himself to Chelsea fans today: he's more or less made it clear that he'd like to leave and stated where he wants to go. JFH said: "Barcelona are one of the big clubs and Louis van Gaal one of the best coaches in the world. We are talking about an excellent combination and I would like to form part of it. At the moment, Barcelona have the potential to win the Champions League and I could contribute to that." And they, of course, could contribute to his ever-expanding bank balance a little bit more than cash-strapped Chelsea.

August 22: Could be good news for the likes of Alan Smith, Lee Bowyer, Paul Robinson and Jon Woodgate: Sven has said that he plans to bring in some new faces for next month's friendly against Portugal. There are two Euro 2004 qualifiers lined up against Slovakia and Macedonia in October, and this will be a big chance to impress the coach and snatch a place in the team. Erickson said: "It will not be a big revolution though because the squad that we had in Japan will continue to be our base and a lot of them are still very young. But, yes, we will probably see some new faces."

August 22: Leeds Ladies kick off their home campaign on Sunday at Garforth Town's ground with the visit of Charlton Athletic. They've signed some good players this season - and it's a cheap way of seeing some decent football on a Sunday afternoon - so give them your support if you're in the area. If you're planning a really full weekend next week, you can stay over in Brum after Leeds play the Blues to see the Ladies repeat the fixture on the Sunday.

August 22: Villa's unsettled Turkish midfielder Alpay is in talks with Leeds according to his agent. But not according to the club he isn't - nobody seems to have any idea what the agent is talking about. And neither is anyone aware of an offer for Boro's Mark Gavin. And I'm sure they're in the dark about Sorin too...and any transfers out as well, despite the proximity of deadline day. Meanwhile Olivier Dacourt - who was regarded as a certainty to depart in the summer - is talking up the club's prospects for this season. "It is very good here, and the new manager is good. I think we will be successful this season. You have to believe in yourself." And he added: "It is time we won something. There is good competition in the squad but that is a good thing not a problem."

August 21: The possibility of Nigel Martyn moving to Southampton appears doubly doubtful today: as well as the player denying that he wants a move and saying that he'll fight for his first team place, Gordon Strachan's side have made a move for Hearts' Finnish keeper, Antti Niemi.

August 21: There was a goal for Robbie Keane and appearances for Ian Harte, Gary Kelly and Stephen McPhail in Ireland's 0-3 win in Finland tonight.

August 21: Lazio look to be in serious financial trouble. With the remainder of the fee on Jaap Stam due to Man U, and with the start of the Serie A season delayed due to arguments over the TV deal, they've had three transfers blocked by the Italian authorities. The Rome club were trying to buy players from Chievo and Verona - but their finances are in a pretty parlous state, more so without the TV money, and they couldn't guarantee to make the minimum 30% downpayment. Maybe now would be a good time for Leeds to stick a cheeky offer in for Juan Pablo Sorin - although Man U might be more interested now that their original left back target, Julien Escude of Rennes, managed to sprain his ankle while out walking his dog.

August 21: Leeds look like they're not going to pursue the Adelaide triallist Iain Fyfe - after a week with the club he's understood to be heading down to Southampton to see if he can make an impression on Saints boss Gordon Strachan. In other Australian news, the deal for Leeds to take control of Sydney Olympics appears to be stalling: the instability of the National Soccer League and general lack of willingness to commit funds abroad in a small speculative investment when the club is pressed to cut back at home is the key factor. Got to say that from where I'm standing, it could represent decent value for money. Leeds could take over for less than £1 million, so depending on what it costs to run the club per year all it would take is for the Olympics to find and cultivate one half decent player and Leeds' investment would be returned manyfold.

August 20: The reserves beat Blackburn 3-0 at Belle Vue tonight. Michael Bridges opened the scoring from the spot after Olivier Dacourt was brought down, Harpal Singh knocked a long-range effort in just inside the second half and Dacourt finished off the scoring with 20 minutes to go. Seth Johnson also got a run out, and triallist Roger Pandong came on for the last 15 minutes after the game was safe.

August 20: TV has committed to making full use of the young players at Elland Road - and the way things are going at the moment that could come sooner than some of them are expecting it. Venables talked about the stringencies imposed by the transfer window and said: "Even the younger players in the reserves have to prepared to play whenever called upon. It could give the younger players a chance they would not normally have got. I won't be frightened to call them up and use them in the Premiership." With Jon Woodgate's injury still causing concern and Dominic Matteo forced to pull out of Scotland's squad for tomorrow's friendly against Denmark, one of Venables' more obvious options would be to switch Danny Mills into the centre of the defence, leaving room for Frazer Richardson to stake a claim ahead of Gary Kelly at right back.

August 20: DOL says that it was the Bowyer/Woodgate trial that cost Leeds the title last season. "We led the league two years back up to March and then ran out of steam, getting involved in a Uefa Cup semi-final." Although he praised Rio, he was very positive about the players left at the club, and Jon Woodgate in particular. "But the thing [Woodgate] has to do is grow up. He can be a tremendous player on the pitch, great talent, but he has got to mature and look after himself much, much better off the field." O'Leary has been linked with the as-yet-unvacant job at Sunderland, where Peter Reid has faced a slow drain on his support as his transfer dealings have failed to bring any improvement to the club. But DOL says he's not going to take a job for the sake of it: "I just won't take a job because it is the first one that comes up. I'll take the job that is right." Without wishing Reid out of a job (at least not until we've turned over his disaffected players), Sunderland might be just the sort of out-of-the-shining-spotlight job DOL needs to refocus on the things that he did so well at the start of his time at Elland Road and restore some of the lustre to his reputation.

August 20: The driver of the car in which Peter Mitchell was travelling when it crashed has been charged with driving without due care and attention and driving without insurance. The driver - who has not been named - is a 19-year-old team-mate of Mitchell, who is currently in hospital with spinal injuries.

August 20: Clyde Wijnhard is back in England and trying his luck at Oldham for a week as he tries to find a club. He'd earlier been on trial at Barnsley and turned down a more permanent move to Oakwell to have a go at getting a contract in Istanbul with Galatasaray.

August 20: The reserves are in action at home to Blackburn tonight. Nigel Martyn, David Batty and Michael Bridges will be among the senior players in a strong side for the first game of the season. Also expected to make an appearance is Cameroonian triallist Roger Pandong.

August 20: Just an update for those of you Down Under who want to get in touch with the new supporters/social club in Victoria. They can now be contacted at: leedsunitedvictoria@yahoo.com.au.

August 19: Dominic Matteo has pulled out of Scotland's squad for the friendly with Denmark on Wednesday with a knee injury sustained in Saturday's game with Man City. It's not too serious, and he's hoping to be for the visit to The Hawthorns next weekend.

August 19: Alfi Haaland is in the US for treatment on his injured knee. He's seeing the same surgeon who handled Alan Shearer and Michael Bridges in the hope of saving his career after two doctors over here told him to give it up after three failed ops.

August 19: Saints boss Rupert Lowe reckons that Leeds are asking a bit too much money if they want to offload Nigel Martyn before the transfer deadline. Leeds are believed to want at least £3 million if they are to part with the keeper, but Lowe said: "Martyn has proved himself at international level but we are not going to pay over the odds." Arsenal are also rumoured to be interested after the Carini loan fell through.

August 19: Leeds Ladies got their season off to a winning start with a 0-1 victory at Everton yesterday. Meanwhile Doncaster Belles - who were very much the team to beat a few years ago before Arsenal started to carry all before them - found out just how much the world has changed when the fully professional Fulham Ladies side came up and turned them over 0-4.

August 19: El Tel's further reaction to Saturday's result was - of course - very upbeat. "This was a special day for me. The reception from the crowd was very special and I was just happy that we could produce the kind of result that we all wanted." And he emphasised again that he didn't want to be forced into selling off players just yet: "How we got six strikers at this club I don't know and it will be difficult keeping them happy. However, it is not about keeping people happy it is about being professional and trying to compete at the very top." And talking about Robbie Keane, he said: "He doesn't want to leave and I don't want him to go, but what happens after that is a 'let's wait and see' situation. Whether I'm allowed by the board to keep them all will be discussed in-house." After Saturday's performance let's hope he wins that argument.

August 19: King Kev had praise for Lucas Radebe and El Tel after the weekend's games. "I thought Radebe was outstanding. Considering he has been out of the game for so long with injury, he came back and showed what a quality player he really is." And the manager: "I really like him as a man and as a terrific coach of football. He has got a terrific squad of players here and I feel sure they will be challengers this season."

August 19: DOL commented about his dismissal on Sky Sports' coverage of Arsenal/Brum yesterday. He said that he'd been sacked for the article he did in the People and the followup interview on Sky in which he seemed to publicly contradict what he'd agreed with the board. O'Leary clarified his muddy position on the Rio sale: "I had no objections with the club raising £30m from Rio Ferdinand's sale but, in the last four years, [Ridsdale] had told me he wanted us to be better than Manchester United and I thought the last thing we needed to do was to sell Rio Ferdinand to Manchester United." And he was adamant that stories about him losing the players' faith were untrue. "If you have 20-odd players, you're always going to have a couple who are out of favour but of those who mattered, I had their respect. They rang me and still keep in touch with me." And for the future: "I wish them well and I wish the supporters well...I'd love to be there because I loved the place and the fans."

August 18: Vidooks has pleaded with the club not to offload Robbie Keane just to balance the books. He said: "I think if we let him go it will be a big loss to us.... When he came on he devastated their defence and scored a beautiful goal." He went on: "He sparks us back up again when he plays that way. I'd love him to stay."

August 18: Euro round-up time. In the Bundesliga, Arminia Bielefeld's stay at the top lasted just a week: after winning 3-0 last weekend, they crashed to earth with a 6-2 hammering by Bayern Munich. Borussia Dortmund came from a goal down to draw 1-1 at Bayer Leverkusen. Schalke had a good 1-3 win at Kaiserslauten, and they are joined on 6 points by Hansa Rostock - 2-0 winners at home to Nurnberg - and Bochum, who hammered Energie Cottbus 5-0.

Guingamp and Girondins Bordeaux are the early leaders in France with 7 points apiece. Guingamp took Rennes to the cleaners with a 3-0 win this weekend (that's where Man U hope to find a new left back - but Rennes are saying that they're insulted by the bid from OT and Escude is not training with his teammates) and Bordeaux hung on for 45 minutes with 10 men after Jemmali saw red on half time to win at Montpellier. Champions Lyon shared a 1-1 draw with Marseille on Friday night, PSG blew a 2-0 lead at home to Ajaccio, and Nantes had a rollercoaster ride that ultimately ended up in a 4-2 defeat at Sochaux: down to a 2nd minute penalty, they equalised, had a man sent off, took the lead and then had another man sent off before conceding three goals in the last 15 minutes.

In Belgium the Jupiler League is only two games into the season but it's already looking like the usual suspects. Anderlecht's 4-1 win over Mechelen and Club Brugge's 3-0 win at home to Beveren leaves them in 1st and 2nd place in the table, but Excelsior Mouscron (great name!) and Lokeren also have a 100% record.

The Eredivisie kicked off on Friday night with a 1-1 draw between RBC and FC Zwolle, but there were few surprises over the weekend as Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord won - Brett Emerton scoring their second in a 2-0 win over NEC. The most exciting game of this round was at between AZ Alkmaar and Heerenveen with the visitors leading 0-1, 1-2 and 2-3 before a 70th minute goal for AZ squared the match and ended the scoring.

Grasshoppers got back to their winning ways in Switzerland - a 4-1 home victory over FC Thun leaves them 6 points clear of Basle, who conceded two goals in the last 5 minutes to gift a 2-3 victory to Lucerne.

It looks like the flooding across central Europe has accounted for the Gambrinus Liga this weekend - hope everyone out there is okay and hasn't suffered too much in these terrible weather conditions (Hi Robin!).

August 18: Transfer rubbish for the weekend: Rayo Vallecano are closing in on Ricardinho, and he's now more likely to pitch up in Spain than England. Albert Luque's move to Depor has been in the pipeline for some time - but could that pipeline take a quick diversion northwards and end up in Leeds or North London? Probably not....

August 18: Old boys update: Andy Gray scored a last minute goal for Bradford - but it was to no avail as they fell 2-1 at Stoke. Dennis Irwin scored the middle of three for Wolves as they disposed of Burnley - who had been favoured for a promotion place - at Molineux. For Bournemouth, Warren Feeney scored a second-half equaliser as the Cherries drew 1-1 at home to Cambridge. Lee Sharpe opened his account for Exeter - scoring the first of three for the home side as they dismantled Hull 3-1. And as for the managers: Carl Shutt's Kettering opened their Conference season with a goalless draw at Chester, Nigel Worthington's Norwich are doing well with a 0-2 win at Brighton taking them into second place, but Carlton Palmer's Stockport are yet to really get underway with just 2 points from 3 games after a goalless draw at home to Notts County. And at a slightly lower level, Jon Newsome's Gresley Rovers opened their season with a 0-1 defeat at Evesham.

August 18: Our old friend Ashley Cole took nearly 75 minutes of the first game of the season before getting up to his old tricks. With Arsenal clearly in command of the game and leading 2-0, Cole's follow-through on a clearance caught Birmingham's Cisse on the knee and the Arsenal left-back collapsed in a great heap, shot once again by the Invisible Assasin. Cisse - who had already been carded for an earlier tackle - was dismissed, with ref Mike Riley later saying it was for a "reckless" tackle. That's reckless as in "not managing to avoid being kicked". Speaking on Sky after the game, our naive young ex-manager made the point that Cole has "started to develop a certain reputation" and that he would have a job shaking it off. Personally I think O'Leary is being over-fair: Cole has persistently stepped over the line between making the most of contact and blatant cheating and diving, and he's mainly managed to gull the match referees at the time. So it's down to our good friends at the FA to do something about it before his reputation at club level causes England to lose out when an international ref who has seen Cole in action puts that knowledge to use in a vital World Cup or European Championship game. A few years ago, the FA had the chance to do something about the petulance and casual hacks of another talented young player, but - afraid of riling the player's manager and club - they sat on their hands. David Beckham seems to have learned his lesson as a result of what happened there - but the FA show no sign of learning anything themselves.

August 18: Post-match reaction from the managers from yesterday's game. El Tel: "It was excellent - it's a great start for everybody....It was a very open game - too open for my liking, too open for any coach - especially in the first half - but second half I thought we were a lot better, more compact." King Kev was unhappy with the scoreline but didn't have many complaints about the outcome. He said: "When you see a scoreline at 3-0, I suppose up and down the country, people will look at it and think Leeds have had a great start and dominated this game and Man City are going to struggle. But I don't think that would be a fair summary of this game. My players never stopped trying, they never stopped battling, they never stopped believing they could get something."

August 17: Well that's the season off with a bang! A below par game overall but with a pretty decent result by any stretch of the imagination. Good debut for Nicky Barmby, goals for two strikers and a clean sheet for the defence (kudos to Matteo and Radebe). 3-0 flatters Leeds and does ManC down: we were the better side but we weren't that much better. Kev's defence needs a lot of work, and our midfield was slacker than would be ideal against tougher opposition but what the heck: one game down and three points on the board. That's enough for me!

August 16: There's a new Leeds United Supporters/Social Club being set up Down Under. It's officially sanctioned by the club and will be based in Victoria. There's nowt quite like watching a match with your mates - so if you're a Leeds fan in exile then get in touch with them at this email address.

August 16: That Tackle looks like it could end up in court. Man City and Alfi Haaland will be jointly suing Roy Keane and his club after Keane's admission in his autobiography that he set out to injure Haaland. The club issued a statement saying: "It has been agreed to jointly instruct a leading firm of solicitors regarding the circumstances surrounding Roy Keane's tackle on 21 April 2001. This action has been taken with a view to commencing legal proceedings against Roy Keane and his employers Manchester United Football Club." Meanwhile the FA have still not managed to read and react to Keane's book a week after the comments were made public. An appeal has gone out for someone who can read without moving their lips and running their finger along the page to report to Soho Square as soon as possible - they could be awarded a gold star if they do a particularly good book report.

August 16: Team speculation for tomorrow is positive for Leeds: Dom Matteo is over the worst of his ankle injury and will start alongside Lucas Radebe in the middle of the defence. Nick Barmby will debut in place of Olivier Dacourt, and Mark Viduka's ankle has recovered enough to win him a place in the starting XI.

August 16: Stories in this morning's papers had Nigel Martyn more or less packed and halfway down the M1 on the way to Southampton with Saints making a bid of £2-3 million for the England keeper. Admittedly TV's comments seem to favour Robbo as the man to start tomorrow, but we could ill-afford to lose Nige until Robbo really is established, and any hint of a slip in form by the youngster would see Martyn restored to the side. Leeds later denied that Nige had been sold - but Saints might well bite if they can extract a better deal from Leeds. In other transfer news, Batts is interesting Villa (but not vice versa).

August 16: Now I'm the first to play down any suggestion that we sold our best player - or even our best defender - during the summer, but Peter Ridsdale's justification of the situation - and further dig at Rio's behaviour - stretch the point a bit. It seems we splashed out a British record transfer fee on a player who was just seen as cover for Jon Woodgate! "We only actually bought Rio in the first place because Jonathan Woodgate's position was uncertain due to his involvement in what turned out to be two trials....People say we have sold our best player but you have to take a view on whether that is actually the case or not."

August 16: El Tel has barely been at Leeds a month and already we're talking about extending his 2-year contract before a ball has been kicked in anger. The chairman said: "We are a club that likes to reward success and that is what will happen if things work out as planned. If we believe it is the right way forward then he will be offered another contract that will be longer, provided both parties are in agreement." The indications are that talks will take place during the season with TV's signature expected to set up a lucrative 5-year deal by next summer.

August 16: The news down in London is that Leeds are strongly touting Robbie Keane as the answer to Spurs' problems - and that he can be had for a bargain £9 million in straight cash. My Spurs-supporting mate is telling me how bad their strike force is and it would certainly give Keane a chance to show what he can do when he has a regular start - but Spurs aren't exactly the team in the spotlight and Europe at the moment, so it would be a bit of a big gamble on his part.

August 15: Nick Barmby had the following garbage to say about our manager: "You only have to look at Terry Venables' track record to see that he's fantastic. From winning the title in Spain with Barcelona right up to Euro 96 and then on to Middlesbrough he's proven beyond all doubt that he's as good, or better, than anyone in the game." And Australia losing to Iran and Portsmouth sort of get swept under the carpet. Did I mention I'd been down the pub tonight?

August 14: Worrying news ahead of Saturday's game: Dom Matteo is struggling with an ankle injury (again) and might miss the big kick-off. At least we've got a few alternative ways of shuffling the defensive pack with Lucas Radebe back, Gary Kelly and Danny Mills both fit and Frazer Richardson looking increasingly impressive, but with Woody also doubtful due to the knee injury sustained against Rangers, it's a bit of a poor way to start the season and will do nothing to help the side build momentum and cohesion when they need it most.

August 14: Rio Ferdinand could be forced to lock up his flash cars for a few months (or spend some of his vast salary on employing a full-time chauffeur after being done for speeding. He pleaded not guilty to a charge of doing 92mph on the M1 back in March, but the plea was lost by court officials and he was found guilty in his absence. That would take him to 12 points and a ban - so he'll now have to convince Leeds magistrates that the conviction was wrong and that he shouldn't be banned after all.

August 14: Positive attitude from Danny Mills ahead of the start of the season. Unlike our previous manager, El Tel is telling the players that the aim should be to win the league, not just attempt to qualify for next year's Champions League. Mills said: "Forget about focusing on simply reaching the Champions League, our key has to be finishing top of the league. There is little doubt that we have the players to do that." And he gave a hint or two as to what we can expect to see: "Terry has started to put his own theories into practice. He wants us to play in a new system which has 3 playing up front and 3 in the midfield, and we seem to be settling in very well."

August 14: Glenn Hoddle may have been backing away from moving for Robbie Keane - but a training ground accident has knocked Gus Poyet out for up to 8 months and he doesn't seem any nearer to landing Morientes from Madrid, so forking out (please just cash and not Anderton) for cover might become essential with their existing 100-year-old strike force of Sheringham and Ferdinand.

August 14: Danny Hay made his debut for Walsall tonight, coming on as a 9th minute sub for the injured Matt Carbon at Molineux. Not the most auspicious debut though: the visitors conceded three and only scored one and have now lost both of their opening games.

August 14: David Batty says he's not been told about anyone bidding for his services and that he intends to stay at Leeds, despite his lack of prominence in the pre-season games to date. He said: "I am unaware of any approaches for my services outside Leeds and therefore cannot comment on that. My only future as I see it is at Leeds United." He's got two years left on his deal - but retirement at the end of this season can't be ruled out.

August 14: Brett Emerton more or less ruled himself out of a move anywhere significant last night when he played for Feyenoord against Fehnerbahce in the Champions League qualifier. He's now cup-tied for all European games this season, so will be of far less interest to Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle and all the other sides that have been linked with the talented young Aussie.

August 14: Simon Johnson made a rapid impact for Hull last night. Coming on with his side a goal down at Bristol Rovers, he scored the equaliser with just 5 minutes to go. Jamie Forrester also got his first goal of the season as Northampton came from behind to draw 1-1 at Wycombe.

August 14: Late news from last night's friendly between Halifax and a Leeds XI. Goals from Jacob Burns, Michael Bridges and Jamie McMaster put Leeds 0-3 up after less than half an hour. The home side pulled a goal back just before half time and scored again in the second half but Leeds held on for a 2-3 win.

August 13: The bookies do have some faith in us: El Tel is evens favorite in the "Top Ex England Manager" stakes, ahead of Bobby Robson at 13/8, Glenda at 7/1, Kev at 9/1 and Graham Taylor at 14/1 with William Hill. However, TV is fairly short odds at 2/1 to be sacked: Peter Reid and Gary Megson are joint favorites at 4/6, with Arsene Wenger 10/1 and Fergie obviously not as secure as he used to be at 8/1.

August 13: One thing we can say for certain is that there's at least one Australian who won't be playing at Elland Road on Saturday: Danny Tiatto has withdrawn from Man City's squad with tendonitis and will miss a week or two to recover. Attending that game will be Sven Goran Erickson - no doubt interested in the form of Danny Mills and whoever TV selects in goal, but particularly interested in taking a look at the newly available Jon Woodgate (subject to knee injury) and Lee Bowyer for the first of the Euro 2004 qualifiers.

August 13: Nick Barmby and Paul Okon are both missing from tonight's line-up at The Shay. Interestingly enough, we finally seem to be probing the African market at last and there's an 18-year-old Camerounian on the bench by the name of Walter Pandong. The youngster is on trial at Leeds, and would be eligible to play over here by virtue of his French (i.e. EC) passport.

August 13: That paragon of virtue Roy Keane - or at least his ghostwriter, noted Leeds-hater Eamonn Dunphy, - has landed in very hot water with his new autobiography. In it, he details some of the grudges he has carried during his career - and one with Alfi Haaland has been given considerable prominence. Keane's reckless hack at Haaland in a match at Elland Road ruptured the ManU player's ligaments and ended his season - but the way Haaland remonstrated with him for the tackle and - seemingly - for faking the injury to avoid punishment from the ref wound Keane up. When a Manchester derby came round, Keane took his revenge with a disgraceful challenge that has kept Haaland out of regular first team football since. Keane is quoted in the book saying: "I'd waited long enough. I ******* hit him hard. The ball was there (I think). Take that you **** and don't ever stand over me again sneering about fake injuries. And tell your pal (David) Wetherall there's some for him as well." Haaland is having more medical checks in Norway to see if he will be able to sustain a comeback, and has hinted he might sue the much-lauded thug. He's trying to focus on his recuperation after his sixth op in the two years since that challenge. "Each time I think I'm ready to play again, I realise that I'm not. I don't know what the latest scan has shown yet. But I'm still in pain." Meanwhile the FA want to see the full text of the book: Keane was sent off and suspended for the tackle, but an admission that he set out to injure a fellow player must surely carry a lengthy ban. And the CPS - with multiple camera angles as evidence and a published admission of guilt - surely must take a look at what criminal charges can be laid at the man Alex Ferguson has described as the best ever player at Old Trafford.

August 13: Quick transfer round-up. The Spanish press seem intent on plugging the interest shown in Ian Harte by Barca - with a fee of up to £8 million mentioned (keep waiting - at £5 million a day the club will be able to give us all free tickets and travel for a season with the proceeds by the end of the week if the fee continues to increase at this rate). Louis van Gaal apparently sees him as more a left-sided midfielder - i.e. somewhere where his defensive lapses are less likely to cost too many points. Leeds admitted that an inquiry about Michael Bridges had been received from an unnamed club - but laughed off suggestions of a derisory £1 million bid from Newcastle. Bradford are said to be interested in taking advantage of David Batty's lack of opportunity at Leeds by offering him one last season of first team football ahead of his pre-avowed retirement age. He'd probably have to take a pay cut to do it though, and if TV makes it clear that there's no prospect of a regular start for Leeds, it's more likely that Batts will decide to bring forward his retirement rather than continue with the training and reserve games he professes to hate.

August 13: Paul Okon seems to realise that his role will be as a squad player and benchwarmer - but nevertheless is eager to get working with El Tel again. "I am looking forward to playing a part in bringing success to Leeds United. I am a bit behind the other lads in terms of fitness because I have missed out on some pre-season training and I will be working hard to get to full fitness....Because of the number of matches to be played I think there is room for everyone. Most of the teams who are looking to win trophies have big squads and hopefully, when called upon, I can do my best and play my part."

August 13: We bring you news of yet another Australian player due at Elland Road. Adelaide City's 20-year-old defender Iain Fyfe worked with El Tel when the Leeds manager was in charge of the Socceroos and is a highly-rated prospect. Why not just move the whole club to Melbourne or Perth and be done with it?

August 12: Players look forward to new season and think new manager is great shock. Vidooks: "We have a good squad and, while it is not good to blow your own trumpet too much, we know that we can do well," and: "It was great to play under Terry for Australia. I remember that we had some very good results when he was in charge and we played some very good football, something we were not doing before." Eirik: "We have nothing to lose, we want to be up there with the best teams and we are confident that we can do that," and: "The manager has his new ideas and he has come in and changed a few things. He has made an impact and I have been impressed so far....He is a brilliant coach." Tomorrow: manager says what a great squad he has and how much he's looking forward to the season.

August 12: Details of the car crash involving the Youth Team players came to light at the weekend. Although three of the four players in the car escaped serious injury, 18-year-old Peter Mitchell from County Londonderry has sustained serious injuries to his spine and faces an uphill struggle to walk again, never mind play football. Every first team player has pledged £10,000 to set up a trust fund for the youngster and help him rehabilitate.

August 12: Dominic Matteo was named in Berti Vogts' first international squad of the season.

August 12: You may recall at some time in the past being asked by the club what you thought about moving to a new stadium. Apparently - although I was hard-pressed to find it among people who actually went to games - there was a majority in favour of moving. Well, now it seems we might not be moving after all. After the talks and globetrotting to find a new sponsor, we still don't have anyone pinned down and signed up - and the whole plan to fund the new ground by naming rights and sale of Elland Road remains in the air. The chairman said: "We are still in on-going talks with two major parties interested in sponsorship agreements with the club. One of these parties would insist on us moving, the other would not necessarily do so." With Leeds council set to take a loss as it sells its Leeds United shares - but with an equal gain in prospect as it sells the car park - it's hard to say just which option that favours: either letting the club acquire the land on which to build the extension or allowing the club to maximise their profit in selling an integrated site to a developer. Maybe we should just nip up the road and get ourselves a "Hurssstvanka" self-assembly football stadium - not forgetting the essential "Plink Plink" floodlights and "Voomitt" pie stands - from Ikea.

August 12: Lee Sharpe has signed on a match-by-match contract with Exeter City. He was released from his contract by Bradford and had been on a trial at Grimsby - although the Exeter chairman reckons he was keen on a move abroad rather than back to his West Country roots.

August 12: Ian Harte is the surprise transfer target of Barca's new boss Louis van Gaal according to some reports today. The Dutch coach is preparing a £3 million bid for the left back. "Chomp!" Ah - I think that was the sound of Peter Ridsdale biting his hand off.

August 12: Nick Barmby is likely to make his Leeds debut at the Shay tomorrow night as a Leeds XI take on Halifax. Michael Bridges will use the match to continue to sharpen up, but it will mainly be reserves in action, so you've got your chance to cheer on some of the stars of the future if you turn up and pay a tenner on the gate.

August 12: Peter Ridsdale once again stressed that arrivals had to be preceded by departures at Elland Road from now on, and although we'd had a few nibbles in the transfer market, there had not been any serious bites for the players we want to offload. "Interest has been shown in several of our players but the clubs have been unable to complete the deals." Venables obviously couldn't contradict his chairman, but still sounds a bit reluctant to get right behind that policy: "I still think the squad is a bit light, but if the chairman says players must be sold before we can buy again that is the case. Barmby and Okon are versatile players and I think you need that with four months coming up when you can't buy players because of the closed transfer window."

August 12: Paul Okon finally completed his signing for Leeds today following a medical at Elland Road. He becomes the seventh Australian-born player at the club - and the eighth in all (Tony Dorigo being the first).

August 11: Round the rest of the leagues we go for the Sunday Summary.

First, some old boy news. Andy Gray played his first full game for Bradford today as they held Wolves to a 0-0 draw at home. David Wetherall had a solid game at the heart of the Bantams' defence - even if he did get beaten for pace a couple of times late in the game.

After exactly one game in the Bundesliga, new side Arminia Bielefeld are top of the pile: they were already a goal and a man ahead of Werder Bremen when the ref produced a red card for a second member of the visiting team in the last minute of normal time, and the home side took advantage to score twice before the final whistle. All of the usual suspects - Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen and Kaiserslauten - drew their opener, so no early advantage for anyone there.

The Jupiler League also got underway this weekend - and there was only one draw in the 9 games. Club Brugge followed last week's Super Cup victory with a 1-2 win at La Louviere, and Anderlecht needed until 3 minutes from the end to score a second goal and kill off Westerlo 0-2.

Only Nantes - champions the season before last - have a 100% record after two games in France - and they needed an 86th minute goal to see off Bastia 1-0 at home yesterday. Champions Olympique Lyonnais got themselves back on track after last weekend's dropped points with a 6-1 hammering of Sedan, although they did leave it until the last minute of the first half before equalising an 8th minute goal from the visitors. Christophe Dugarry received his marching orders on the stroke of half-time for Girondins Bordeaux - but PSG's Andre Luiz was dismissed at the same time and the game ended goalless. Kaba Diawara might have been a disaster at West Ham, but he scored a hat trick for Nice in their 4-0 win over Strasbourg.

In Switzerland, Grasshoppers came down to earth with a bump as they lost their 100% record with a 1-0 defeat at Lucerne - only the second win of the season for the home side. Second placed Basle closed to three points of the leaders with a 0-4 hammering of third-placed FC Zurich who have won only one game at home but all three aways so far this season.

In the Gambrinus Liga, Slavia had a great 10 minute spell in the middle of last Monday night's game, coming from behind to beat Bohemians 4-1. Sparta's 3-0 win over Banik Ostrava yesterday gives them a 100% record and leaves them top of the league, now two points clear of Jablonec who could only draw 1-1 at Zlin today. Slavia could go second if they win at Marila Pribram tomorrow afternoon.

August 11: Peter Ridsdale is reported to have had talks with Brazilian star Kleberson - but no move is expected until Ridsdale has achieved his oft-stated aim of clearing out some of the Leeds fringe players. And Leeds are one of many clubs mentioned as a destination for Verona's Romanian striker Adrian Mutu - like we need more forwards at present...

August 11: A little bit of UEFA Cup (well, InterToto, but it's almost UEFA Cup) news that squeezed by in the week. Troyes have been chucked out of the competition after their two-leg win over Villareal. Our French opponents from last year were found guilty of fielding an ineligible player in one of the subs who came on with 10 minutes to go in the second leg of the tie. Troyes are obviously not as well-connected at UEFA as a certain German team were 10 years ago - no replay option offered to the French!

August 11: Newcastle, Villa and West Brom are all said to be interested in relieving Terry Venables of a selection problem by taking on Michael Bridges. A return to the north-east would be most likely, but Graham Taylor does need to beef up the strike force at Villa Park if he is to stave off Deadly Doug's axe before the end of the season.

August 11: Simon Johnson has been confirmed as a loan-out to Hull - initially for a month but possibly for the whole season depending on Jan Molby's impression of the youngster.

August 11: Michael Bridges says that he's not quite ready to start playing competitive football again just yet. "The football side of things will take a while to be honest. I have got my fitness back and I am flying in training but it is just a case of getting used to match situations again and really learning to play all over again." With Robbie Fowler already injured and Mark Viduka with a dodgy ankle, it's obviously in everybody's interests that he returns as soon as possible, but Bridges said: "The manager has told me to take my time and just keep working away."

August 11: If you're facing the eternal "where to park" quandary when you get to ER (club car park = wait an hour to get out, up in the back-to-backs = worry that you'll come back to a broken window and no stereo) and if you've got a car that's worth protecting (no offence to my 6-year-old Escort but...) then you might want to contact brownsdeluxecarpark@hotmail.com - they're offering 32 spaces just 2 minutes walk from the ground. The parking is guarded and fenced - and you can even get the car valeted while you're there. Drop them an email or call them on 07740 173534 for more info.

August 10: Leeds old boys on the mark today were Brian Deane, who scored two goals in short order at the start of the second half to take Leicester to a 2-0 win over Watford in the first league game at the new Walker Stadium. Mark Tinkler also got a brace - scoring just before half time and then again twenty minutes from the end as Hartlepool won 1-3 at Carlisle. Former Leeds Youth player Nathan Lowndes got a late goal for Plymouth as they gave Mansfield a scare - coming back from 4-1 to get within a goal of their hosts at Field Mill. Meanwhile at Old Trafford, a certain high-priced defender was forced to limp off the field early on in a charity friendly between Man U and Boca Juniors.

August 10: Corinthians' Brazilian midfielder Ricardinho could be the next to arrive at Elland Road - but still no firm word on who is on the way out. The player revealed that his agent and manager were in negotiation with a Premiership club - although he refused to confirm it was Leeds.

August 09: Nick Barmby is looking forward to picking up some silverware with his new side and playing alongside the Leeds squad. "The players here, ability-wise, are second to none - up there with any other team... I have only been with them a short time but you can see the players are hungry for success. It was only two years ago Leeds were in the semi-finals of the Champions League with virtually the same squad. There is no reason why that can't happen again."

August 09: There are 4 Leeds players named in Mick McCarthy's Ireland squad to face Finland on August 21: Robbie Keane, Gary Kelly, Ian Harte and - getting a call-up despite the fact that he is not getting much football at Leeds - Stephen McPhail.

August 09: Clyde Wijnhard might still sign for Barnsley - but he's currently got himself a trial in Turkey with Galatasaray.

August 09: Paul Okon has agreed terms on a three year deal with Leeds that - subject to a medical - should be signed and sealed on Monday. He's 30 years old and has previously played for Fiorentina and Lazio - as well as Boro - so he's clearly no mug, but he looks to be no more than useful cover and a squad player rather than a first choice starter.

August 09: Michael Bridges, Stephen McPhail and Seth Johnson were the key first-teamers on show at Farsley last night in a match that the Unibond League side did well enough to hold a Leeds XI to a goalless draw. Bridges must be considered a possible to start with Robbie Fowler out after his hip op and Vidooks and his mystery ankle injury.

August 08: Paul Okon is likely to sign tomorrow - and Jon Woodgate has a pulled muscle that could keep him out of a game or two at the start of the season.

August 08: Nick Barmby signed on the dotted line today - he said:"My first challenge at Leeds is to establish myself in the starting line-up. I can play across the midfield, so I have no preference. I just want to force my way in. This will be the third time I have worked with Terry in my career. I learned my trade under him at Tottenham and he taught me everything I know. I don't have a problem saying he has had the biggest influence on my career."

August 08: There was no score in tonight's game at Farsley - more info later.

August 08: Remember - tonight's game at Farsley Celtic will feature quite a few first team players in the "Leeds XI" appearing there. There's one final pre-season game lined up next week at Halifax - it's not yet clear whether that will be an official Leeds United side or another Leeds XI - i.e. focusing on the reserves and youth players.

August 07: Hull are interested in signing S Johnson from Leeds - but that's SIMON not Seth. Manager Jan Molby has been taking a look at the youngster who has been on the fringes of the reserve team, but who doesn't look like he'll make the grade at the very top level, and is interested in picking him up. He said: "We'll have a word with the people at Leeds and take it from there. Our chairman has close connections with Leeds and that's how the trial came about... We might get him to training with us for a week but he definitely made a good first impression."

August 07: Nick Barmby is still not quite a Leeds player - although he's now undergone a medical and looks certain to agree personal terms tomorrow. Peter Ridsdale made it clear that there would be some activity in both directions on the transfer market in the next few days: "We agreed when we offered Terry the job he could bring in two or three players he wanted and he told me who they were. This could be the first of them but we have also still got to reduce the squad size. I said in February there were four too many and only Rio has gone, so you can expect some movement both ways over the next few weeks." Will one of those inbound players be Brett Emerton? The Aussie midfielder said that the Antipodean contingent at Elland Road made it an attractive option - and although he's in no rush to move, he knows that next week's Champions League qualifier where Feyenoord take on Fehnerbahce could blow his plans out of the water if he was forced to play. "That means I will be less attractive for other teams and that is something I have to consider." But he added: "I am only 23, there is plenty of time for a transfer. This doesn't mean that when a club comes along I will not think about it. But again, I will only leave Feyenoord for a great club, one I think suits me." And as we reported earlier, Paul Okon's deep conversation with El Tel in Oz looks like it could be leading to a move: he's a free agent and could be a Leeds player by the weekend.

August 07: A first half goal from Alan Smith put Leeds in front at Ibrox tonight, but Jon Woodgate had to be helped off the field after a poor challenge from Fernando Ricksen with just 23 minutes gone. The second half had barely started when Ian Harte brought down Caniggia for a penalty - scored by Shota Arveladze to square the tie. Smith had the ball in the back of the net but disallowed for offside, and Keane wasted a golden opportunity - but Rangers were offered few chances throughout the game. Jon Woodgate needed 8 or 9 stitches in the knee wound he picked up - hopefully that will have closed up sufficiently for him to start the season on Saturday week.

August 07: David Batty will not be playing at Ibrox tonight - because he's not keen on flying and that's how the squad will be getting up to Glasgow. He could probably beat them to it from Thorpe Arch if he drove up to York and hopped on a GNER service, but it looks like figure in El Tel's first choice squad, and he'll be playing for a Leeds XI at Farsley Celtic tomorrow night instead.

August 06: Leeds have agreed a fee of £2.75m with Liverpool to sign up Nick Barmby. Personal terms are due to be discussed tomorrow, with a medical the day after - TV wants to be able to play the former Spurs and Boro player (errr...where was it El Tel used to manage?) on the wing to allow Harry Kewell to take a more advanced role. Peter Ridsdale said: "You can expect some trading both ways in the next couple of weeks. Given that we've now got transfer windows, we have to make sure the squad's got the right numbers. Fingers crossed we can bring in Nicky. He's already at our training ground and I'm due to meet his agent on Wednesday."

August 06: Leeds confirmed that PR dude Max Clifford is doing some work for the plc and club. With the poor press that the club has been receiving over the last year (including the book written by DOL with the club's director of communications), this isn't too surprising a move - although Clifford is more associated with the kiss'n'tell tabloid stories rather than the back pages, so it will be interesting to see what sort of spin gets put on the news from Elland Road this season.

August 06: Former Leeds winger Andy Gray is having a trial at Bradford after being released by Forest - and even managed to score a cracking goal in a friendly against Boro last night which the Premier League side took until the 90th minute to equalise.

August 06: The Leeds United Supporters Club have decided not to give Rio the Player of the Year Award that the fans voted for last year. It's been made pretty clear what sort of reception he can expect when he returns to Elland Road, so the LUSC will make the award to "a more deserving cause" (probably Dom Matteo if there's any justice) although Rio's name will go down on the official Player of the Year list for posterity.

August 06: Expect somewhat disjointed updates this week as the GBBF rolls into town and I try to respect the great efforts made by the CAMRA volunteers by sampling as many of the beers as I can.

August 05: Mark Viduka is doubtful for Wednesday's game at Ibrox with an ankle injury. Of course, the Parkhead old-boy isn't scared of the Blue Menace, nooooo....it's just that we don't want another striker out with long-term injury before the season has even started, honest.

August 05: The mystery surrounding the identity of El Tel's favorite Leeds keeper got another stir today as the manager talked up the achievements of Robbo - while still praising Nige. "Robinson has done very well and Martyn is an outstanding goalkeeper. In fact, we've got three very good keepers, with those two and Danny Milosevic." But, Venables pointed out: "It's a luxury that becomes a problem, but I've got time to decide before the first game."

August 05: Transfer garbage of the day has us putting in a bid for Celtic's Johann Mjallby: £6 million is the quoted figure from hacks whose desperation for some real contract action increases every day. Paul Konchesky of Charlton and Neil Clement of West Brom remain under observation as we try to figure out what to do with that troublesome left-back position (Seth Johnson maybe?). Speaking of transfers, El Tel has set a deadline for Lee Bowyer to make his mind up about his future - and it's just 4 months away. "When the current transfer window closes on August 31, we have until January 1 before it opens again... If he [likes the setup] then hopefully he will stay." But Venables warned: "There is going to be a time when I am going to have to make my own plans for the future because we don't want to be left not knowing late on."

August 05: Man City's defence will be slightly stronger than expected for the opening day game at Elland Road. For some reason the FA allowed an appeal by City that their new signing Marc Vivien Foe should not have to serve the remaining 3 games of a 4 match ban incurred when he was at West Ham two years ago. Call me paranoid, but you just can't see the same leniency being shown to a Leeds player, can you?

August 05: One-time Leeds left-back Kevin Sharp has agreed a one year deal with Huddersfield Town. After Leeds, he's had spells with Wigan and Wrexham but his career has faltered a bit of late and he will be looking to get back on a solid footing with the Terriers.

August 05: The Birmingham away game on August 31 (which clashes with the one-day final for Yorkshire at Lords) has been pulled back to a noon kick-off for "safety reasons".

August 05: Leeds old boy Gary McAllister is pretty hopeful that his first job in management will be a successful one. "I believe Coventry are capable of housing a Premier League side in their city. They managed to stay in the top flight for such a long time." With Gary Breen and Marcus Hedman gone from the side, there is a rather big condition though: "But as long as we don't lose any more players, Coventry can be challenging those teams that will be going for automatic promotion or promotion through the play-offs...that's part of the reason I have come back."

August 04: The season is already underway in various parts of Europe, so here's a very brief round-up of what's happened this weekend. Gretna are the most recent club to join the Scottish League after Airdrie's collapse - and they started off in style with a goal after less than 20 seconds against promotion favorites Morton. Morton equalised just 5 minutes later, and that's how it stayed. Normal service was instantly resumed in the SPL with Henrik Larsson bagging a first day brace for champions Celtic as they beat Dunfermline 2-1, but Rangers slipped up at Kilmarnock, allowing the home side a late equaliser after going 0-1 up.

Olympique Lyonnais got their title defence off to a shaky start as they blew a 3-1 lead against Guingamp, conceding goals in the 89th minute and injury time. AS Monaco were somewhat more emphatic in their opener - a 4-0 hammering of Troyes - last season's UEFA Cup opponents are still concentrating on the InterToto Cup. PSG, Nantes, Bordeaux, Montpellier and Le Havre also won their openers.

The Swiss Ligue Nationale is well underway, and in this week's 6th round of games, Grasshoppers maintained their 100% record on top of the pile with a 4-0 hammering of Young Boys in the Hardturm-Stadion. Basle are in second place and are undefeated with a 4-2 win over Servette brightening their weekend, but three draws in their other games leaves them 6 points adrift of Grasshoppers.

The Gambrinus Liga is now in its second week in the Czech Republic - and with just about everybody else drawing their first game last weekend, Sparta Prague went top with two wins out of two after a 1-3 victory at Ceske Budejovice on Saturday - Jablonec are the only other side with two wins from two games after this afternoon's 1-0 win at home to Pribram.

The Bundesliga and Belgium's Jupiler League kick off next weekend (Club Brugge beat Genk 2-0 to take the Super Cup this weekend), with Holland's Eredivise following the week after. Serie A and La Liga are the laggards in Europe - they don't get underway until September 1.

August 04: More deafening silence on the real transfer news front today, so the rumours, in brief, are: Gary Kelly still interests Sunderland, one of the West Brom websites suggests that Michael Bridges could be released by El Tel and hints that the Baggies would be interested in the striker for around £3.5 million (come on guys - we're not that desperate to sell are we?). TV was seen in deep conversation with Paul Okon out in Oz, and has apparently been seen in a London restaurant with Brett Emerton - so maybe there's a hint towards the signings to come there. The manager reflected on the games he's seen to date, saying: "We've got to harden up, but it's been quite pleasing - we've now had four wins against tough opposition. We're learning about each other and I've had the chance to talk to them all individually just to find out what their thoughts are about different things." Like playing for a different club maybe... Bowyer's continued failure to sign a contract means that Leeds are still keen to find a home for him before his contract expires, and the Kleberson rumours are also doing the rounds again.

August 03: Don't go to Glasgow unless you have a ticket. That's the message from Leeds and Rangers with the 1000 away tickets sold out ahead of next week's game. Leeds fans will not be admitted to other parts of the ground, and both clubs are keen to keep the numbers of ticketless fans down to avoid any possible confrontations.

August 03: The manager hinted once again that a sale could be on the cards, with the strike force most likely to suffer in the interest of balancing the side. He said: "My squad is a good one but it is not balanced. We have six top strikers. But most likely I have got to let one go."

August 03: Another grand day out spoiled by a game of football. Despite Midland Mainline and Arriva's best efforts, we arrived in plenty of time to sup a quick one ahead of the game and made it into the ground in plenty of time. A strangely jobsworth Leeds fan complained that he had paid good money for the seats we were occupying - we pointed out that the stewards had told us to sit anywhere and he should have turned up earlier - resulting in extreme huffiness. The game was pretty disappointing - Danny Mills scored the only goal of the game with his left foot after breaking into the box in the second half, but Leeds only required one more serious save from Andy Marriott when Robbie Keane's goal-bound header was blocked after an excellent cross from Jason Wilcox. Eirik Bakke had a good game, playing initially in front of the back four, and Ian Harte again proved why he cannot be trusted as a defender at the highest level. Harry Kewell was massively disappointing against Division 2 opposition, and you would have expected Bowyer and Dacourt to carve out more opportunities between them. On the positive side, Robbo made a couple of excellent saves (though he still has the tendency to beat down shots rather than catch them), Danny Mills and Jon Woodgate were solid at the back and Mills made some good runs forward. Massive cheers for Lucas when he emerged to take the captain's armband from Dom Matteo in the second half, and also for El Tel as he walked up the touchline. Shame that Venables wasn't able to sign a few autographs for the eager fans - but the security staff at Oakwell bundled the manager away before he had the chance. Final mention to the throwback we saw on the way back to the station: with an early 80s mullet and the IQ of a sea slug he tried to taunt any passing Leeds fan with Galatasaray and Rio grunts - fortunately nobody took the bait and he was left to try to find a fight among his fellow Barnsley fans. Clyde Wijnhard played the last 20-odd minutes for Barnsley, but never received enough of the ball for them to make a judgement on his Oakwell future.

August 03: A few of the key players will not be taking part in this afternoon's game at Barnsley: rather they will be playing 90 minutes of a practice match this morning. Nigel Martyn, Gary Kelly, David Batty, Michael Bridges and Michael Duberry will miss this afternoon's friendly after playing a full part in a 90 minute session this morning.

August 02: Paul Clifford - convicted of GBH on Sarfraz Najeib last year - will try to appeal against his conviction and sentence. His solicitor confirmed that the High Court will examine his application for leave to appeal in a couple of months, with the full appeal going ahead probably next year if leave is granted. At the risk of pre-judging this one, it's hard to see how someone whose teeth marks were found on the victim's cheek will get his conviction quashed although the sentence could be judged to be disproportionate when compared to those for similar or more serious assaults handed down by the court.

August 02: El Tel said that he was "disappointed" in Rio's decision to move on, considering he was less than two years into a five year deal. Venables said: "When we started talking with Rio after I arrived, we agreed he would not be leaving." But... "I can understand Rio being ambitious and Manchester United is very appealing to him. But there is no point in signing a long-term deal if you are not going to stand by it. Otherwise there's no reason for having contracts." Quite right too mate - what is the point in having contracts at all if one party is at liberty to break them at a moment's notice with limited compensation or redress for the other party (okay, 30 million isn't "limited" but that's not the point...).

August 02: The Rangers game will be shown on PPV around the country with Setanta Sport carrying next week's friendly on channel 435 of Sky Digital for £7.99. Right - time to find a London pub showing it....

August 01: Transfer rumours appear to have taken the day off today. The nearest we come to one is that the Italian papers are claiming that Juan Pablo Sorin's agent will be talking to Leeds when he is in England.

August 01: Liverpool supremo Rick Parry revealed today that he had doubts about signing Lee Bowyer from the start. When initial negotiations opened, Parry said that he was not convinced the player wanted to become part of the Anfield set-up. "We offered him a fantastic chance to relaunch his career and help him get back in the England squad. The longer the discussions went on, the less convinced we were that the player had his heart set on joining us." Parry added: "We have a real desire to win trophies. At the end of the day, if that's not enough to fire a player's desire to join us, what is?"

August 01: Robbie Fowler's hip problem is more serious than thought - and it seems he's been carrying it for some time. A second scan revealed the problem, and the solution was to shave a piece of cartilage from his hip - but that will now keep him out of the side for up to 10 weeks. Still, it's not as if we're short of strikers at the moment, is it?

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