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October 31: Post-match reaction from the managers has El Tel happy with a "fair result". And he gave some credit to our opponents: "They were very smart up front; they have technically very good forwards and midfielders. But I thought we snuffed them out in the second half and moved the ball a lot more quickly." He went on: "We hit the woodwork three times, which I think is a measure of how we were trying to find the target, and ultimately we got what we deserved." Hapoel coach Drar Kashtan still believes his team can cause an upset in the second leg: "I think Leeds have to be thankful to Mr Robinson. He is the man of the match because he prevented three certain goals."
October 31: Well, at least we won it tonight, and it was played in more style than the games in the previous round. And it's true that without the intervention of the woodwork we'd have been looking very good for the next round. But Robbo had the harder saves to make, and the number of times a very fit Hapoel side cut through the defence with diagonal balls to embarrass Gary Kelly and Ian Harte you'd have thought that they'd have managed a goal. Barmby had another anonymous game, Bakke was pretty dreadful throughout, and Olly showed why the fans think he should be picked (great passes, strong runs) and why it's reasonable for El Tel to disagree (missed tackles, giving the ball away). Smithy was superb - once again really up for it but stupid to pick up a last-minute booking, Michael Bridges made more intelligent runs, delicate touches and well-judged lay-offs in 20 minutes than we've seen from the rest of the team in several games, and even Harry Kewell escapes my wrath tonight - looks like he's finally getting back into some sort of confidence and form. Roll on Florence - there's still a lot to do to win this tie!
October 31: Leeds old boy (and Gaby's dad) Terry Yorath has resigned as boss of Sheffield Wednesday. He took over in April but after a poor start to the season the final straw seems to have been the defeat by Millwall at Hillsborough on Wednesday night. Chris Waddle has been named as a possible successor.
October 30: If you're in London tomorrow night and for some mysterious reason aren't planning a 400-mile round trip to see the game then check out the Rampage pub at 32 Great Queen Street in Covent Garden. The landlord will be resisting the undoubted temptation of Celtic vs Blackburn to screen the Leeds game for the bunch of Leeds fans who have made the pub their home from home.
October 30: Leeds Lards will be in action in a three-way tournament tomorrow afternoon. The 5-a-sides will take place at South Leeds Sports Centre between the Leeds fans side, a bunch of Hapoel fans and a team drawn from the local Jewish community. The games will start at around 1430 so if you've nowt else to do why not go along and cheer them on.
October 30: Hapoel's skipper is looking forward to a second chance to take on Mark Viduka. He said: "I played against Viduka three seasons ago when we played Celtic in the UEFA Cup - he didn't score then and I hope he will not score again." But he knows that Leeds will be no pushover: "They are also a powerful side so I'm expecting an interesting encounter."
October 30: Clarity and resolution on the Boateng front? George Boateng issued a statement in which he retracted his reported claim that he had accused Nick Barmby of making racist remarks. "Following weekend press reports, Monday's Leeds United press conference and intense media speculation, George Boateng wishes to clarify a number of matters which have been inaccurately reported and debated in the media. First of all, while there was clearly an altercation between George and Nick Barmby at the end of Saturday's game and words were exchanged in the heat of the moment, George wishes to make clear that he has never accused Nick of making racist remarks as he knows this to be untrue." He went on to say that he wanted to put their disagreement behind them and move on. The FA will still want to speak to him about the spitting incident even if this statement draws a line under the verbals.
October 30: Dom Matteo will miss tomorrow night's game having failed to complete his recovery from the knee op he had a couple of weeks back. With Teddy Lucic unavailable haing played in European competition for his Swedish club, that probably means the return of Ian Harte at left back. For the visitors, centreback Asaf Domb is almost certain to miss the match with a hamstring injury. There are still plenty of tickets left, and despite the visiting fans taking up 1500 tickets, the stadium is unlikely to be much more than three-quarters full. El Tel is hoping for a decent atmosphere to get the team motivated. He said: "I'd appeal to the fans to make it a great European atmosphere to spur us on. But we want that all the time because the crowd can make such a difference. It's been proven many times. Look at Newcastle last night - the team weren't functioning as the fans would like, but [the supporters] kept going." For those of us who were at the previous round's game at Elland Road, the team's practice-match performance made raising the smallest cheer all but impossible.
October 29: Brian Deane was on target for Leicester again tonight - his last-minute header sealing a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Gary McAllister's Coventry at the Walker Stadium. Gary Speed equalised for Newcastle as they came from a goal down at St James Park to beat Dynamo Kiev 2-1. The first UEFA Cup games of this round were played tonight: a Denilson goal gave Real Betis a 0-1 win at Viktoria Zizkov, Legia Warsaw game back from 0-2 down to pull Schalke back to 2-2 - but then conceded again in the final minute, and Bordeaux scored a 0-1 win at Djurgarden.
October 29: The FA will be investigating the incidents at Boro on Saturday. In a statement today they said: "In addition to match officials' reports, video evidence will be considered. FA officials will also be interviewing key individuals involved." Meanwhile George Boateng's agent has hit back on behalf of his client. It seems it's the press that have been twisting his client's words: "George has been quoted out of context. No one has actually heard him say that. It was just a quote that has come from somewhere." He went on: "It did come as a bolt out of the blue that Nick Barmby had this press conference. I think it was Nick Barmby - rather than Leeds - who had the press conference. It has been blown up, I think, out of all proportion, mainly by Nicky Barmby having this press conference which has now taken it to another level." Errr....chicken, meet egg: whose remarks accused whom of being a racist? His agent went on to suggest that Boateng would be cleared by an FA enquiry: "I think something went on on the pitch, but I don't think it's as major as everyone is making out - it's nothing that cannot be sorted out with a little bit of common sense from all sides."
October 29: For some reason there were rumours going round that Robbie Fowler was about to make his comebac on Thursday night - despite missing last night's reserve game. This idea has been laughed off the pitch by Leeds, but Michael Bridges might be in line for another step forward on the comeback trail. El Tel said: "He is an excellent goalscorer and we want him to recapture that. He's been frustrated because when it's looked like he's back, he's done well and he's in the picture, then he's been injured again. But he worked hard at Middlesbrough. He came on at a time when we needed him to do a job. There's now a lot of games coming up in the next five weeks or so with the League Cup, UEFA Cup and the Premiership so we'll need him again." Let's hope we see a lot more of him over the next few months.
October 29: Owls boss Terry Yorath is said to be ready to try again in his attempt to persuade Michael Duberry to have a loan spell at Hillsborough. With injuries and suspension leaving him very short at the back ahead of an important game against Norwich
October 28: It's all been happening on the George Boateng front today. With the spit-happy Boro midfielder likely to face an FA charge should ref Rob Styles consider the video evidence of what took place at the end of the game, he's come out and tried to shift the blame for the incident onto Nick Barmby. Boateng said: "Nick Barmby just came and headbutted me and he kept going at me. I do not know why." He claimed that he'd spat on the floor - but the TV pictures do seem to bear out that he aimed in the general direction of Woodgate even if he didn't intend to hit him. "He started saying these things about my brethren and my wife. I wanted to go and apologise because it was not nice from my side and not nice from his side either." Lucas Radebe was close to the incident and tried to intervene - although Boateng pulled the linesman out of the way to try to have a go at Radebe too. The Chief said: "Emotions were running high when we left the field because our lads felt as though we should have won the game. But spitting is a bad thing and should have no place in football. ...George Boateng just wanted to fight me." An altercation also took place in the tunnel apparently involving the Boro player, and Barmby sported two large scratches on his face when he appeared after the game. Today he issued a statement in which he said: "I totally reject any allegation I made racist remarks to George Boateng or any other Middlesbrough player. That accusation is categorically untrue and I feel devastated by it. My reputation has been seriously undermined by an opponent who appears desperate to justify his own actions. Words were exchanged between George and me on the field. I said absolutely nothing of a racist nature, did not butt him or abuse his family." Serious stuff - and likely to lead to legal action unless Boateng withdraws his remarks. Barmby pointed out that Boateng had tried to apologise after the match through Boro officials. El Tel wasn't happy with the situation either. He said: "This is a dangerous precedent and I think the questions should go to the other side and the answers delivered by them....This accusation about Nicky has come like a bolt out of the blue... There is no way he should be sitting here defending himself." Venables said that the club would require a public apology since the incident - and Boateng's subsequent remarks - occurred in public. "We were prepared to forget this matter but if Boateng said he had made a mistake it would be very helpful." Barmby also indicated that Boateng had lied about what happened after the game: "George has also gone on record to say we shook hands and he apologised to me personally after the game and that we met in the players' lounge. These claims are also untrue. He didn't personally apologise to me afterwards and I didn't even go in the players' lounge." This one will run and run.
October 28: With Craig Farrell doing well at Carlisle we're letting another one of the promising youngsters have a spell of "real" football - albeit at a slightly lower level. Larry Farren - a 19-year-old Irish defender - has gone to Hyde United on a month's loan.
October 28: Alan Smith's one-match ban after his dismissal against Boro will see him sit out the West Ham game on November 10.
October 27: Got time to do a full Euro round-up this week for once - and we've got quite a few surprises in the major leagues this week.
October 27: Several goals but not much success for the old boys yesterday. JFH scored Chelsea's first as they strolled to a 2-0 home win over West Brom. Brian Deane opened the scoring for Leicester at Forest, but Forest came back from 0-2 down to square the game in the last 15 minutes. Dennis Irwin pulled Wolves level after Grimsby took an early lead at Molineux - and it was plain sailing for the home side after that, cruising to a 4-1 win. Jamie Forrester scored his third goal in two games to get Northampton off to a good start at home to Cheltenham - but the visitors turned it round to win 1-2. Carlton Palmer is still turning out for Stockport and he was on the score sheet with a last minute header against Brentford at Edgeley Park - but that was just a consolation for County in a 2-3 defeat. Craig Farrell's time at Carlisle continues to yield goals - this time a penalty at the start of the second half in a 2-2 home draw with Swansea. And he's not quite a Leeds old boy, but Eddie Gray's son Stuart was also on target this weekend - bagging Rushden's equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Hull.
October 27: El Tel played down the row about George Boateng's actions at the end of the game. Boateng spat at Jon Woodgate and then manhandled a linesman as the Leeds players remonstrated with him and had to be dragged down the tunnel by Geremi. In a Wenger-like pronouncement, TV said he saw nowt: "I was in the dressing room so I did not see anything, but I know what I heard. There was a bit of a fracas and the less said the better." Any further action now depends on what ref Rob Styles says in his report - Vieira copped for a £25 grand fine and a four match ban for something pretty similar, so no doubt Boateng will be given a medal and a pat on the back if the FA follow the usual pattern of throwing the book at one or two constant victims and letting everyone else get away scot free.
October 27: El Tel said yesterday that we may not be good enough for Europe this year. "Everybody would love to be in Europe year in, year out. At the moment, the reality check is: maybe we can't. Hopefully we can, but some clubs have a better chance than others." Well, it would save me some money and time off work (but blow the excuse of not being able to go to the Worthington Cup games because I need to save my days off) - but this is either (a) incredibly defeatist or (b) an attempt at shaking up the team and getting some better performances out of them. Let's hope it's the latter.
October 27: Yesterday's Sun carried the story that Boro were about to pounce and snap up Danny Mills. When Mills wins his next England cap he will be due to have his contract renegotiated and he's looking for an indication of what sort of terms they will offer. Steve Mclaren rubbished the rumour: "That's typical speculation - I don't know where it's come from, obviously, but I don't know anything about it." The Olly to Juve rumours - shortly to have their first birthday party, please bring a bottle - are getting more and more solid with each passing game. The fans chant his name but TV doesn't pick him. If he does make the move in January (for £13 million if you believe some stories) then that would open the way for Leeds to close in on Phillipe Christanval of Barcelona.
October 26: No time to say much about today's game other than the fact that the ref plumbed new depths of incompetence. Rob Styles' decision to dismiss Smithy for a second bookable offence for a collision with Southgate as he challenged for a 50:50 ball was the worst of many poor decisions. On a day that saw Gary Flitcroft dismissed for a fair challenge and Dennis Bergkamp get away scot free for stamping on a Blackburn player, surely the time has come for a major review of how games are controlled. And having just seen The Premiership we now know what caused the handbags session at the end of the game: as the ref blew the final whistle George Boateng spat at Jon Woodgate - if the FA see fit to ban Vieira for a few harsh words towards a ref, Boateng must surely be looking forward to a spell on the sidelines.
October 24: The unsubstantiated rumour department hears that the real reason why Batts isn't in the side is that he was banished after turning up at training on his motorbike despite being told he wasn't allowed to use it. Batty's love of bikes and the sport is well known - and he has bent the odd ruling over not using them in the past - but this rumour seems so petty but typical that it must be true.
October 24: Leeds old boy Terry Yorath has failed in his second attempt to pick up a loan signing from his former club. The Sheffield Wednesday manager inquired about the availability of David Batty earlier in the season - and has just had a request to take Michael Duberry to Hillsborough for some first team football. However the injuries to Dom Matteo and Lucas Radebe, plus the fact that Teddy Lucic has only managed one game himself - forced Leeds to reject the loan.
October 24: Michael Bridges is raring to get another game in the first team after his recent appearances for the reserves. "I've had another game for the reserves and it was great to line up with Robbie Fowler. I'm fully fit now and ready to play for the first team," he said. With Smithy still a doubt - and Vidooks under orders to shed a few pounds - maybe Bridges will get the chance to show what he can do in the North-East - but I'd still lay odds on him being no closer to the action than the bench with Pieman and H lining up as our strike force if Smithy doesn't make it.
October 24: A few of you wrote to me to tell me that I'd been a bit intemperate in my criticisms of the manager following his recent team selections. Well, I admit I might have been a bit OTT after some of the uninspiring performances we've seen lately. But now I think we should all re-evaluate our position on El Tel following his pronouncements on a certain Leeds player. "X has done well in several different positions for us and for England and he has done alright whenever he has played. He does not look out of place on the ... side of midfield and may well be the answer to the England problem out in that position. He has proved he can play there for club and for country." That's Nick Barmby he's talking about there. Now maybe Barmby will have a totally inspired game against his former club on Saturday, but having seen most of his 10 appearances for Leeds (albeit through a vodka haze in Dnepr) I can only conclude that we must be talking about a different player with the same name. At 28, there's still time for him to recover some of the form he displayed a couple of years ago - and that would be very welcome to see - but if he is showing that sort of form it must be on the training ground cos we've not seen hide nor hair of it at the games.
October 24: Alen Boksic was back in training today after failing to make Boro's game against Charlton with a foot injury picked up during the international week and Steve Mclaren is hoping that the experienced Croatian will be ready to give his striker force a bit more bite than they displayed at The Valley. Meanwhile Juninho's latest stint at the Riverside looks no closer to getting going with the news that he's headed back home to Brazil for further treatment on his damaged cruciate ligament.
October 23: Robbie Fowler is over the moon to be back and playing again after the hip op which has kept him out since the pre-season games. "After being out for so long it's just great to get a proper game in," he said. Fowler scored in last night's reserve game against Villa - and the goal was a welcome confidence boost. "It wasn't the greatest goal I've ever scored, but it's a great feeling to score again in a competitive match." And with the team so low on form at the moment, you've got to hope he's right when he says: "Hopefully me coming back will be a boost to everyone and I'm sure it's only a matter of time before things start happening."
October 23: George Boateng is likely to miss out on Saturday's game after suffering a tackle he described as "horrendous" from Charlton's Shaun Bartlett in their 1-0 defeat on Sunday. Other Boro casualties are Alen Boksic and Robbie Stockdale who are both undergoing treatment and hope to have a chance of making the squad for the game.
October 22: On-loan striker Craig Farrell scored once during the 90 minutes to take Carlisle into a 1-3 lead at Oldham and then again 7 minutes into the Golden Goal period to give the visitors a 3-4 win in the LDV Trophy match tonight. Jamie Forrester did almost exactly the same - opening Northampton's account in the first minute at Hereford and then netting from the spot 6 minutes into the Golden Goal period to win that tie, also a 3-4 final score.
October 22: Michael Bridges played the entire game and Robbie Fowler got just over an hour in the Reserves' 1-1 draw with Villa at Belle Vue tonight. An og from Shane Cansdell-Sherriff put Leeds behind in the first half, but Fowler levelled the game 10 minutes into the second half. Olly and Nigel Martyn were the other big names involved, but there were also appearances for Frazer Richardson, Jamie McMaster and Harpal Singh. But no sign of Batts - not even on the bench.
October 22: Alan Smith is still a doubt for Saturday's game with Boro - but Leeds will leave it as late as possible before making a final decision. Smith's leg - gashed in a bad challenge by Jamie Carragher - might just need a bit too long to heal up, so we may finally see Michael Bridges getting his chance up front. Or TV might just play Kewell and Viduka with Olly starting in the midfield.
October 22: The papers are reviving the old story about Leeds moving for Brazilian midfielder Kleberson - with Olly on the way out, he's seen as the man to drop in to the middle of the park and hold it all together. On current form we need him last week.
October 21: Robbie Fowler will take his comeback up a gear tomorrow night as he appears for the reserves at Wakefield for the game against Villa.
October 21: The second negative DOL story in a day crawls out from under a Cliff. Graham Taylor's position at Villa is looking increasingly untenable with poor form coupled with terrace hostility - just like Peter Reid a month or so ago. Tonight's defeat by Strach's Saints won't have done anything to enhance that, despite the dubious refereeing decision that sent the luckless Peter Enckelman to the stands. O'Leary said he had not put his name forward nor allowed any of his representatives to do so."Agents who do not represent me are hawking my name around clubs. We are trying to find out who is doing this. My lawyer Michael Kennedy and I know all about this and are trying to track down where it's coming from." In fact, DOL says he has avoided going to certain games to limit the possibility of people seeing him and making 5 from 2 2's. O'Leary said: "Graham Taylor is fully aware of the situation and I have made a point of talking to him personally to explain what is going on."
October 21: Peter Ridsdale hit out at the council's attitude in its approach to the club over plans for a new stadium. He said: "Whether we build away from Elland Road or develop our existing site, we do need both a co-operative and sympathetic partnership with the local authority." After sniping - notably from the Tory side in the Town Hall - he said: "There are regrettably some people who feel it is in their best interest to play politics with our aspirations and are therefore proving to be less than helpful." He also dismissed suggestions that Leeds would be looking for a handout or a land gift for the ground, saying that he was happy to pay a fair price for anything necessary to make the stadium happen.
October 21: According to today's YEP DOL was on the point of sacking Eddie Gray at the end of last season - and the Leeds legend's job was only saved following the intervention of Peter Ridsdale. It has also been revealed that O'Leary told the board in May that David Batty and Lucas Radebe would never play for the club again as long as he remained manager, and that - although he feigned shock and surprise at the sale of Rio, O'Leary had been involved in talks to sell one of Leeds' biggest stars without the board's approval. Of course, the proximity of the release of this story with DOL's tribunal hearing is - I'm sure - purely coincidental and not part of a concerted campaign to do our former manager down.
October 20: Round Europe in a hurry - and for a change we'll take a quick look at Norway. With their league season out of sync with the rest of us, they're close to the end and we see Rosenborg setting a European record by taking the title for the 11th successive time.
October 20: Leeds Ladies slumped to a home defeat against lowly Everton at Wheatley Park today. Leeds went a goal down when ex-Leeds player Mickey Thomas's daughter Jade put the visitors in front. Karen Burke equalised for Leeds but two more goals in the second half gave Everton their second surprise win of the weekend.
October 20: DOL will be the first to test out the Premier League's 7-year-old tribunal process when he begins his appeal for compensation for dismissal this week. Sitting in London, the panel will consider his claims for around £2 million.
October 20: The day after we failed to score for the fourth time in ten league games, Robbie Keane grabbed a pair for Spurs to take them up into third place in the table. JFH got the third goal for Chelsea yesterday to take them further ahead of us. And yesterday Mark Tinkler celebrated his birthday with a hat-trick for Hartlepool as the leaders beat Wrexham 4-3. Derek Lilley opened the scoring for Dundee United as they went into a 2-0 lead over Livingston - but they let that crumble into a 2-3 defeat, conceding three goals in nine minutes in the second half.
October 20: Alan Smith's injury isn't as serious as had been feared. Although he was forced to come off the field and have six or seven stitches in a wound, it should be healed sufficiently to allow him to play against Boro on Saturday.
October 20: El Tel reckons that Harry Kewell's miss could have been the goal of the year. "He did so well. It was a great cross from Mark Viduka, Harry controlled it, dragged it back and then put it over top." And that's the problem of Leeds in a nutshell: even when we do get our approach play right we're toothless in front of goal. Venables claimed that the Liverpool goal came against the run of play and said: "We've had indifferent displays this season but we played very well and didn't deserve to lose. We had to get to grips with Liverpool and we did. All in all we should have got a draw." Gerard Houllier in contrast had few worries during the game - Kewell's late chance aside. He said: "Apart from the one chance Leeds had at the end, we were always in control and we had good shape. If we keep working and doing the things we are doing well, then I can have no complaints." After chants of "One David Batty" were replaced by "O'Leary", Venables seems prepared to take the criticism from the terraces but won't back down. "The supporters will always complain about my team selection and there will always be discontent if they are not getting results. That's understandable." He went on: "They must do what they want to do. I have to do what I do and that makes me happy, whatever happens. It's up to everybody else to make their own decisions about the game. I feel I do what is right. If that's going to be good enough, only time will tell."
October 19: Bakke, Barmby, McPhail, Kewell. Not good enough. Batty, Dacourt - not viewed as worthy players by our manager. Bridges: fit enough for an hour midweek but not even 20 minutes today. Sicknote Anderton: due to arrive to boost his old chum "Invisible" Barmby. Bloody dreadful performance this afternoon and it's clear the manager will be too pig-headed to make the changes we all see as necessary. And so the Great Leeds Adventure comes to an end as the Clueless Cockney fiddles while the team crashes and burns.
October 18: Dom Matteo and Lucas Radebe are both doubtful for tomorrow's game - but Michael Duberry and Teddy Lucic will be available. Captain Matteo said: "Obviously I only had the operation last Monday, but Dave Hancock and the medical staff have been working around the clock. I'm desperate to play, but it's still touch and go. I don't think I will know anything for certain until just before kick-off because we'll leave it as late as possible." He added: "I'm staying positive in the hope that I will make the game."
October 18: Lee Bowyer has said that he wants to stay at Leeds - sort of. "I just didn't feel comfortable with the move at the time and if you are going to make a move, you have to be sure," he said. "I am comfortable here, with the players and the manager and I know I have the Leeds' fans backing. It will take a lot for me to leave." He went on: "It's a hard situation because I really don't want to leave here, as mad as it sounds. People say 'Why haven't you signed?', but there is more to it than that.`It's going to have to be something that pulls me away because everybody here is so good. I know people will say 'I am sick of hearing him say that', but that's the way it goes.'"
October 18: A 31-year-old man was arrested and questioned in connection with an allegation of assault occuring at the Leeds/Man U game earlier this season. He has been bailed pending further enquiries. Fabien Barthez was born on June 28 1971.
October 17: Alan Smith hasn't had to suffer unanimous condemnation for his dismissal yesterday - mainly because most of the papers were focusing on David Seaman's latest mistake. Smith was backed by the England manager though - Sven said: "Alan had a good game and was unlucky not to score. Their goalkeeper saved them on many occasions... Alan Smith did well and so did Wayne Bridge on the left side." So why did you take Wayne off then Sven? Rio Ferdinand was equally sympathetic to Smiffy's dismissal. He said: "I think it was frustration. He was working hard, but he forced the referee to make a decision."
October 17: Steven Gerrard, Emile Heskey and reserve keeper Chris Kirkland are all on Gerard Houllier's injury list ahead of Saturday's visit to Elland Road. Heskey missed the England game against Macedonia as a result of a groin injury, and the hip injury that Gerrard picked up during that game now threaten to keep him out of the Leeds game as well as the Reds' visit to Spartak Moscow next week.
October 17: Alan Smith wasn't the only Leeds player to see red in last night's internationals: old boy Martin Hiden got his marching orders as Austria crashed 0-3 against Holland - just 3 minutes before he'd have had the chance to face up against former team-mate JFH who played the last 10 minutes for the visitors. In other internationals, Olivier Dacourt came on for the last 20 minutes as France strolled to a 0-4 win in Malta. Eirik Bakke was also in action for Norway, 2-0 winners against Bosnia-Herzegovina in Oslo.
October 16: One of my website guests has just pointed me at some photos from the game in Dnepr - here. The text is in Russian but maybe we should have a caption competition for what El Tel is thinking in that photo at the bottom.
October 16: Oh dear dear dear. After Smiffy was awarded his first start in a competitive England game he blew his big moment by picking up two stupid yellow cards in a frustrating 2-2 draw with Macedonia at St Mary's. Woody held onto his place at the back - and he had a pretty solid game, unlike Sol Campbell whose mistake let in the visitors for their second goal. Woody also had a decent scoring chance - but it fell to his feet rather than his head, and he scuffed the chance to put England 3-2 up. There was a bit of hope for Paul Robinson: David Seaman was rooted to the ground as Macedonia opened the scoring after 10 minutes with a corner that curled straight in. Smiffy did have a pretty good game until his temperament once again let him down: he held the ball up well and laid some pretty decent passes for Owen, Scholes and Beckham but his shooting was a bit underpowered on the two occasions he got a decent sight of goal. Steven Gerrard was carried off in the second half and must now be a doubt for Saturday's game.
October 16: Jamie McMaster gave the reserves a first-half lead at Bolton, only to see it cancelled out by Jonathan Walters. But Leeds came back to take the points with late goals from Michael Duberry and Caleb Folan.
October 16: Gary Speed won his 70th cap for Wales in a great night of football in the Millenium Stadium. Simon Davies opened the scoring for Wales in the first half, but Alessandro Del Piero got a lucky equaliser when his shot hit a defender and looped over Paul Jones. But Trappatoni's side were brought down - and dealing a big blow to his possible future in charge - when Craig Bellamy made it 2-1 on 70 minutes.
October 16: Gary Kelly and Ian Harte were on the losing side at Lansdowne Road as Mick McCarthy saw his team's hopes of qualifying for Euro 2004 take a big knock with a 1-2 defeat at the hands of Switzerland. Ireland went a goal down at the end of the first half, but having got back into it with an own goal 15 minutes from time, they conceded a second with just 3 minutes left on the clock.
October 16: After a long injury-related absence, Danny Hay has been called up for the New Zealand side as the Kiwis take on Poland in a friendly.
October 15: Leeds are taking part in the campaign to eradicate racism - in football in particular - and are planning a variety of events this week to coincide with the national campaign. A giant poster - made up of cards to be held by fans in the Family Stand - will be the centrepiece on Saturday, and badges, magazines and stickers will e distributed at the game. In the wake of the abuse suffered by players of English club sides and the national team in games in Europe over the last month, this is particularly topical and has the full support of everyone at the club. Olivier Dacourt said: "I am a black, French player who plays for an exciting English team and I am very proud to be here. The fans are fantastic, but at away games I sometimes get racial abuse to try and put me off my game. It just makes me more determined to win." Peter Ridsdale stressed the club's commitment to the cause: "We are pleased to be at the forefront of action this week through the varied initiatives organised by the club. The club has been working with local schools and community groups in our resolute campaign against racism."
October 15: Paul Okon has suffered a setback in his attempt to win a place in the squad: he suffered a hamstring injury in training and will now be out for up to a month.
October 15: Roy Keane was found guilty of two charges of bringing the game into disrepute following publication of his autobiography in which he said he had deliberately set out to injure ex-Leeds player Alf-Inge Haaland. Keane was fined £150,000 (ooh - almost two weeks' wages - that will sting!) and banned for 5 games. He will be able to play Champions League games during that period and unless he appeals, the ban takes effect three weeks from now (which is when he was due to return from his op) and although he will miss league games against Liverpool and Newcastle the ban will - surprise surprise - end in time for him to play against Arsenal on December 7.
October 15: Peter Ridsdale has splashed the cash on the club and shown his faith in the financial side of things anyway. He's bought 1 million shares in the club - which is about £50,000 worth at current prices - to take his overall stake in the club to just under 1%.
October 15: Official travel club package prices have been released for the game in Florence - and once again, you're left wondering just how much margin they need to make on these trips. Okay, so we booked early with a budget carrier, but including train fares (but not match ticket) this trip will cost us just over £150 for flights, 2 nights in a 3* hotel in Pisa and a return to Florence on the train. Official price for a similar package (albeit including the match ticket): £349! They're doing a day trip for £235 for which you could probably buy an Alitalia return from Heathrow direct to Florence and still have change from your match ticket to fund a plate of pasta and a bottle of Chianti when you arrive. Independent Travel are doing a 1-night stop with a hotel in Florence - prices are to be announced but if you've not got anything else sorted, I'd suggest you contact them. Although some of the organisation around our Dnepr trip was a little shambolic, the fact remains that they managed to organise the trip at a reasonable price considering the difficulty of getting us in and out and if we can support them on trips like this it means they're more likely to help us out with the difficult ones again. If you've got more money than sense (to borrow from Alexei Sayle - I've got a fiver, so nearly there!) then you could spend £699 to get yourself a single room on the corporate 5* trip. Or you could let me have half that amount next time and JabbaTours will sort you out: you get a good trip and I make a profit and a charitable donation into the bargain. JabbaTours is not ATOL protected, ABTA recognised or even vaguely incorporated. But we get you there as cheaply and as luxuriously as possible and our contacts can offer an unparalleled insight into pubs, clubs, restaurants and sleeping in railway stations and airports.
October 15: Billy McAdams - who played for Leeds for half a season in the early 1960s - died on Sunday. He made his name with 62 goals in 127 league games with Manchester City but suffered several injuries and rarely managed a full season for any of the teams for which he played. Despite that, he kept up an excellent scoring record when he did make an appearance. The highlight of his career was undoubtedly the hat-trick he scored against West Germany at Windsor Park in 1960 in one of 15 games he played for Northern Ireland. He finished his career with Barrow and stayed in the area after his retirement.
October 15: It took until just after half past four this afternoon, but UEFA have finally come out and ratified the Artemio Franchi as the venue for the "away" game against Hapoel Tel-Aviv. Those of us with cheap flights can breathe a sigh of relief that we've not wasted our money, and the stampede to confirm hotel rooms starts. Now, I wonder if there'll be any problem getting a match ticket :-)
October 14: Still no official word on what's happening with the UEFA Cup venue - it's still looking likely to be Florence according to hints coming out of Hapoel but tomorrow is the latest date for announcing the venue according to UEFA rules. The whole issue of whether or not it was ever official and why Leeds' official website released the information as such (picked up within minutes by the BBC, Ananova and all the major news services as well as hundreds of fans waiting to book with Ryanair and Go) is the big one: when Rupert Murdoch's Sun carried the story that morning that Florence was the likely venue, followed up by an item on Murdoch's SkySportsNews at 0900, then the fact that the Sky/Planet-run official site carried it as definite isn't too great a surprise, but surely someone in the Communications/Press Office of LUFC must have known what would happen when the venue information was presented in that way - and why did it take them 4 hours to notice and take it down? All of this will be moot if Florence is confirmed as the venue but provides yet another useful lesson for LUFC on news management. I thought that's what we'd brought Max Clifford in for!
October 14: Leeds have played down rumours that Robbie Fowler has suffered a setback as he recovers from his hip op. There had been some hints that he might be back in time to play against Liverpool on Saturday, but the end of October/start of November was always the real target for a full recovery and return to match fitness. We'll see if there's any truth in the rumours if he fails to appear for the reserves by Bonfire Night.
October 13: Transfer lies and rumours of the day. Olly is a little bit closer to leaving Leeds with the stream of comments coming from both player and agent starting to sour his chances of being part of the core team around which El Tel will build his future side. Batts might provide some of the midfield stability much needed by an underperforming team - but that team could be Newcastle rather than Leeds as Bobby Robson considers whether to bring the midfielder back to Tyneside for a final year and use him to take some pressure off his below par back four. And speaking of Newcastle, both Leeds and the Magpies have been mentioned as a possible destination for out-of-favour Barca defender Phillipe Christanval. He's already turned away interest from the two English clubs, but after not getting a game so far this season said: "If my current situation at Barcelona stays the same and I am still not playing in a few months, I will have to have a rethink and possible listen to the offers from England." And finally, Lee Bowyer's much-cherished move back to London could be to White Hart Lane rather than Highbury. That would be "advancing your career", wouldn't it Lee?
October 13: Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba has moved to pour oil on the troubled waters of SAFA's relationship with Lucas Radebe. He denied accusing Radebe of being dishonest over the knee injury which has kept him out of the African Nations Cup qualifiers. Mashaba said: "I just said that he was the only one who did not know he had been called up, I have nothing against Lucas."
October 13: Very little news to report today - not even a Euro round-up with the internationals accounting for any league action this weekend. Olivier Dacourt was an unused sub for France as they hammered Slovenia 5-0, but Eirik Bakke did play for Norway in their 0-1 win over Romania. One game that looked incident-packed over the weekend was in the Spanish Second Division, where Oviedo hosted Getafe. The home side were two goals down after 25 minutes but pulled one back from the spot five minutes later. Having had a player dismissed just after that, they scored twice before half-time to lead 3-2, but gave that up by scoring two own goals in the second half. Value for money games - that's what we're missing this season!
October 12: Woody was the only starter in tonight's fortunate win for England. Alan Smith came on with about 15 seconds to go, but in fairness Emile Heskey did have a pretty effective game, and Michael Owen did score a goal - despite doing nothing else for 90 minutes. The off-the-field problems looked more worrying though, with further riot police attacks on England fans following up the various beatings and shootings of yesterday.
October 12: Well, we've had a Grand Day Out. Despite an incompetent ref who would have been perfectly at home in the Premiership dismissing a Kettering player with nearly 30 minutes to go, Carl Shutt's Poppies held on to a one goal lead brilliantly and thoroughly deserved their second win of the season. Shutty brought himself on in the last minute - and in a useful lesson for El Tel made certain his players came down to applaud the Kettering fans at the end of the game. One of the real downers of the trip to Dnepr was the fact that - with the exception of Robbo, Eirik Bakke and Smiffy - most of the team totally blanked the 300-odd Leeds fans who had moved hell and high water to get out to support the team. Shutty understands what loyalty and support for the side is all about - TV would do well to take note.
October 11: Rumours surrounding the selection for tomorrow's international say that Woody might be the player who starts with Danny Mills and Alan Smith on the bench. Clearly this Ulrika business is going to Sven's head if he thinks that Gary Neville is better than Mills, or that Heskey or Vassell would make a better partner up front for Michael Owen. But he's the boss, and until the Sun starts printing root vegetables on its back page that's the way it will stay.
October 11: So it might not be Florence then! After putting out information on the official website that the game was definitely on at Florence, the club withdrew the text from that webpage and substituted a new page on which they say that the game is now awaiting confirmation from the Italian FA and subtly updating the remainder of the article. Let's hope the game does get the go-ahead (somewhere in northern Italy at least), otherwise there's a few hundred Leeds fans out there who are going to get a very nice but unwelcome holiday and the club could very well find itself subject to a civil action or two to recover the costs of those trips following the misinformation disseminated by the official site (which was, admittedly, also carried as fact by every other news organisation around).
October 11: Stephen McPhail is looking forward to getting back onto the international stage following his recall at club level. He said: "Mick McCarthy always stands by his players. He's loyal and he likes his players to play and look forward to training." But he sounded a word or two of caution after the hyped-up performances of the summer: "It's totally different to last year because we're favourites going into every game and we've got to make sure that we get to the championships. Expectations for winning are a lot harder for any side because you've got to make sure you go out there and do it." The Republic were well and truly hammered in Moscow and will be desperate not to repeat that performance against the Swiss. McPhail said: "We were disappointed with the way we played and the way we defended in Moscow and we've got to put things right against the Swiss."
October 11: The always-confident DOL has said that he's looking for compensation of around £2.5 million for being sacked during the summer. He's still looking for another job, but I'm sure he's cushioned from the cold winds of unemployment that so many people across the country are suffering from. After all, 4 years as one of the best-paid managers in the Premiership, plus the income from the Sunday People column and that book where he managed to castigate his team's supporters and players in equal measure - plus his TV fees for uttering platitudes so bland they make Wilko's statements sound like a call to the ramparts. In fact, now I think about it I think the fans should put in for compensation for DOL for hurt feelings for his numerous remarks about us, and for betting the club's future on his signings and man-management skills and then signally failing to deliver. He got paid a massive amount while he was at the club, he failed and paid the price: he should be big enough to walk away and admit it without having one last slurp from the fat cats' feeding trough.
October 11: So it's Florence then! As I was unfortunately embargoed from releasing to you all yesterday, we'll be playing Hapoel Tel-Aviv in the Stadio Artemio Franchi - a 47000-capacity ground that used to be the home of Fiorentina - until they were chucked out of the league in the summer! Florence is handily-placed for lots of cheap-flight airports (but prices are going up very quickly - the flights I booked this morning are now £70 more expensive) with Pisa the most convenient - just a 1 hour train ride away. Bologna is another possibility - or you could just bite the bullet and fly Alitalia to Florence for £200 or so. Plenty of space in the ground - so no excuses for not attending this one!
October 11: It seems I made a slight error in yesterday's news update. Wilko's assistant at Sunderland will be Steve Cotterill - who was in charge of Stoke City until his "resignation" on Wednesday night - and not Kim Cattrall of Sex and the City as I reported. An easy mistake to make, I'm sure you all understand.
October 10: A crowd of over 3000 turned up at Belle Vue tonight to watch the reserves face Everton's second string. Michael Bridges made it through the entire game, and Teddy Lucic was subbed after 80 minutes. The match finished 1-1 after a first half goal from Alan Moogan had given the visitors the lead, but a 25-yarder from Caleb Folan 10 minutes from time restored parity. Bridges, McMaster and Singh all had chances to score but all came through uninjured and hopefully Bridges will now be available to play in Saturday week's crucial game at home to Liverpool.
October 10: After his agent has blabbed, now Olly is dropping his ever-so-subtle hints that he wants a move. "I feel fine in Leeds but it is true that if I am not rated, anything is possible. Since I was called up [for France] by Jacques Santini last week I have not played at all with Leeds." He went on: "We've changed managers and we've just come out of three beautiful seasons, but now we are suffering a sudden break and we were recently thrashed by Arsenal. Regarding my relationship with Venables, I don't want to comment on that. The only thing I can say is that I don't know if I am part of his plans." Sounds like exactly the sort of thing we thought *wouldn't* happen if we brought in El Tel - he was supposed to be the one smoothing the ruffled feathers of all the prima donnas and making them all work together as a team. Seems like he's not been as successful as we'd hoped.
October 10: So where on earth are we going to play the away leg then? Despite indications that the information would be released by the end of the day, the smoke signals were still black from Hapoel. A little bird tells me that it won't be Bergamo as was first hinted, and that the decision is all but made - just a bit of i-dotting and t-crossing is required - and will be announced either tomorrow or Monday at the latest.
October 10: Socceroos boss Frank Farina has said that Paul Okon's lack of first team football are blowing his chances of being involved in the qualification for the next World Cup. Farina said: "To be honest Paul is struggling. He's not playing and I need to have a good look at his situation. Last year it was all about qualifying for 2002 and now I'm looking ahead to 2006. It is a very difficult situation and I have to handle it in a different way." Quite when and where he's going to get to see Okon is questionable - unless we have a disastrous injury crisis he'll be hard-pressed to get ahead of the current players (unless El Tel manages to add to Batts and Olly on the list of disaffected midfielders).
October 10: A former Leeds manager has taken over at Sunderland as seemed likely. The surprising part of the story is that it is neither GG nor DOL but the one and only Sgt Wilko who has taken on his own Mission Impossible - Saving the Mackems! He did a huge amount for Leeds in his time at Elland Road, and it pains me to wish that lot good luck, but Wilko deserves the best wishes of every Leeds fan in all of his work. He's appointed "Sex and the City" star Kim Cattrall as his assistant - should get the crowds up at the Stadium of Light!
October 10: Come and meet the mind behind the daily news and stats! Yours truly will be down at Farnborough vs Kettering on Saturday to cheer on Shutty's boys and then find a local hostelry in which to watch the England game afterwards. Me and Wiggy will be the ones wearing the Kettering away shirts generally making a nuisance of ourselves.
October 09: It's international week so there's no *real* football to distract us. So on a completely different note, why not try the 3 movie quizes here. You'll need a reasonably up-to-date version of MS-Excel or a workalike (works fine in Star Office for me). Particularly like the Grovers in Quiz 4.
October 09: GG has ruled himself out of the running for the Sunderland job - it seems it wasn't the right opportunity or the right time (or the right number of miles from London - i.e. zero). DOL is looking less likely to take up the reins at Sunderland: his ongoing dispute with LUFC over compensation for his dismissal might just be seen by Sunderland and O'Leary as too much of a distraction right now - although both parties seem keen to keep the move alive. Mick McCarthy is now installed as favorite to take over at the Stadium of Light. He'll need nowt short of a miracle to save them if the players keep on the way they have done, and he could soon find himself back in the familiar land of Division 1. That other patron saint of lost causes and sleeping giants, John Gregory, is also in the frame.
October 09: Leeds City Council might now hang on to their stake in LUFC, despite rumours that it would be sold in order to avoid the question of a possible conflict of interest. The fact that the shareholding is worth substantially less than the book value the council took on a few years ago might be a factor, although the official line was that they wanted to retain some community influence over the club (which they could accomplish by handing control of the shareholding to the Supporters Trust if they really wanted). Meanwhile Peter Ridsdale is understood to have asked the council to sell the car park land - which the council still owns - at a nominal price to the club to help finance the redevelopment of Elland Road, an option which the chairman now apparently favours. The club would develop some commercial facilities on the site in order to be able to afford to make the necessary improvements to the current ground. Maybe we should have a vote on what the fans want to do here? I wonder what the outcome would be this time round?
October 09: Uncle Sven is showing many signs of confusion in his team selections and surely the biggest manifestation of this is the hint that Gary Neville may be preferred to Danny Mills at right back for the upcoming Euro 2004 qualifiers. Unless the absence of Sol Campbell and Rio mean that he's intending to switch Mills to centreback, it's barely credible that the one-paced ManU journeyman could be favoured over Mills, when the attacking options offered by the Leeds player might be crucial in a group where goal difference could end up deciding qualification. Altogether now: "If Neville plays for England so can I...."
October 09: Bradford's ex-Leeds star David Wetherall has flown out to Denmark in a bid to sort out the hip injury that has kept him out of the side since the start of the season. He's had a number of hip and groin problems over the last couple of years, and he's now heading out to Copenhagen to see if his surgeon can finally get to the source of the problem and get him back to long-term fitness.
October 09: El Tel knows that the game against Hapoel will be no picnic - after all, they managed to dismiss Chelsea from the competition and were only just stopped by AC Milan last time round. The manager said: "The standard of the top clubs in Israel has vastly improved in recent years and the form book is there for us from last season when they knocked Chelsea out of the UEFA Cup." Getting your excuses in early Tel? Tickets for the home leg are priced at £15 or £10 for concessions with family packages at £40. Season ticket holders have until October 15 to claim their tickets, then it's Striker Members until October 19, then they go on general sale. Don't get trampled in the rush folks!
October 09: The whole Lucas Radebe/SAFA situation gets more and more confused by the day. The Chief flew out to South Africa at his own expense so he could show them just how unfit he was and have a chat with the officials over there to get a few things cleared up. The SAFA now say that he wasn't informed about his call-up by Leeds. Leeds however say that Lucas was surprised to be called up bearing in mind his injury, and that the SAFA withdrew his selection an hour later. Sounds like there's some world-class buck-passing going on.
October 09: The reserves are in action tomorrow night, facing Everton at Belle Vue in Wakefield. It will be your first chance to get a sight of Teddy Lucic in action, and it should also see Michael Bridges once again try to cement his comeback from injury. Nigel Martyn and Michael Duberry are also likely to play, with Harpal Singh, Jamie McMaster and Jacob Burns the fringe players who will get a look in.
October 08: Stephen McPhail revealed that he had been prepared to walk out of Elland Road during the summer if David O'Leary had remained as manager. And he was extremely happy with the transformation that Terry Venables has effected within the club. He said: "It's been difficult for me with the injuries and everything, but I feel mentally stronger now and it's just great to be playing games again - the manager wants us to get the ball down and pass it, and get the forward lads involved and that will suit my game." He went on: "It's a lot happier in the camp now and we feel a lot stronger, like we can do a lot more this year." And as a slight wake-up call to the early "El Tel Out" brigade, he said: "I hope that the fans don't get too frustrated with us because things will take time, but we'll get it right."
October 08: Stephen McPhail, Gary Kelly and Ian Harte are all in Mick McCarthy's Ireland squad for their Euro 2004 qualifier with Switzerland at Lansdowne Road next Wednesday.
October 08: Sven says that the only reason Lee Bowyer was left out of the England squad was poor form (from the man who picked Frank Lampard!). He said: "That is the only reason that he has been left out. I am sure he will play better in the future and he might be picked next time. I think Lee Bowyer's a good man and a good player. I think he can play better than he is doing at the moment, so I have chosen other players for that reason."
October 08: So the draw has been made for the next round of the UEFA Cup and we're still none the wiser about where and when we're playing although at least we know the "who" now. Hapoel Tel-Aviv are our opponents, and the draw indicates that we should be at Elland Road on October 31: and at "their place" on November 13. The only problem is that "their place" in the UEFA Cup has been the Georgi Asparuchov Stadium in Sofia this season, and since Levski Sofia are resident there and are scheduled to play their home leg at the same time as Hapoel, we have a bit of a problem. The tie could be put back to the Tuesday - but that would cause problems for Leeds, since the Sky PPV game against West Hame is scheduled to be played on the Sunday afternoon. The other alternatives are to switch the home and away legs - in which case we're due in Sofia in two weeks so make your minds up quickly chaps - or move the tie to another ground. Bergamo in Italy has been suggested - and it looks ideal. Ryanair call it "Milan" airport - but the airport is just 5km from Bergamo and would be great for the English fans to get to. There are other low-cost flight options to the area too should those flights sell out early - Brescia and Treviso are also served by Ryanair and wouldn't be too inconvenient for travelling to the game.
October 07: Leeds Ladies have matched the men's achievement in getting 4 players into the England squad for the crucial World Cup play-off tie against France. Leanne Hall, Sammy Britton, Sue Smith and Karen Burke are the lucky quartet - and Leeds are one of just 5 clubs with representatives in the squad - the others being Arsenal, Fulham, Charlton and Doncaster Belles. The first leg takes place at Selhurst Park and will be on Sky Sports on the evening of October 17.
October 07: It didn't take long for Olly's agent Bruno Satin to pick up on his client's unrest at being left out of the squad on Sunday. El Tel had said: "When you look at the subs I had two strikers and two defenders because I felt that we had the numbers in midfield and I could move people around." And it's true - you could move Barmby around all day and he'd make no impact wherever you played him (apart from in goal where his lack of inches might prove to be a problem). Olly isn't happy and said: "I don't want to talk about why I'm not in the Leeds team - I'm just glad to be back in the France squad." He went on: "It's a difficult time at Leeds, so it's good news to be called up and going away... I think it shows I must be doing something right to get the call-up but not everybody seems to have the same opinion." Satin reckons that if Leeds need to sell then the best thing they could do would be to play him and let the player make the best of the shop window (not that Lee Bowyer or Harry Kewell are bothering to make the sort of effort that would bring clubs flocking to the door in their desire to play in London or Spain/Italy. Satin said: "If the coach is straight then there will not be a problem. Olly will play soon or he will be transferred if a big club comes in." Let's hope we find a slot for this talented player before we have yet another disaffected high-earner in the reserves.
October 07: Peter Reid has finally been sacked as manager of Sunderland. After an abysmal start to the season - which of course featured a win at Leeds - Reid was shown the door after 9 league games. DOL and GG are both in the frame to take over, although Niall Quinn is also said to be interested in his first managerial role. O'Leary said: "I'm gutted for Peter - but I'm an out of work manager and I'm happy to talk to anyone." Graham meanwhile had the following comment: "I'm keen to speak to any club whose ambition matches my own." Legal reasons mean I'd better not add my own comments to that particular statement. Quinn would certainly be popular with the fans - but might be seen as a bit too closely connected with the regime that has got Sunderland into their current mess.
October 07: So now we're a bit clearer on our possible destination for the next round of the UEFA Cup. Leeds are the top-seeded team in a group of 6 seeded and 6 unseeded teams, with the final draw for the ties taking place tomorrow. The unseeded teams are: last season's UEFA Cup opponents Grasshoppers, Hapoel Tel-Aviv (they've played their home games so far in the Georgi Asparuchov stadium in Sofia where we had the rearranged game against Spartak Moscow in 1999), Legia Warsaw, Viktoria Zizkov, Levski Sofia and Djurgardens of Sweden. With Slavia Prague and Viktoria Zizkov sharing the use of the Strahov Stadium for UEFA games, one of these games will have to move if both clubs are drawn at 'home' tomorrow - and you can bet that they won't be keen to have two games being played on the same night - so expect at least one of the games to be shifted to the Tuesday and hold fire on that flight-booking button until you know what's what!
October 07: Many years ago in a galaxy far, far different from ours, a football manager called Terry Venables uttered these words: "We've been involved in a lot of attractive games that haven't always gone for us. Now the reality sets in of saying let's get stubborn and keep a clean sheet because mostly I think we've got a goal in us at some stage." In our small corner of the Universe, this is plainly nonsense. Arsenal apart, Leeds have not been involved in any attractive games this season, and "a goal" is the maximum we have in us these days, but with all those spare strikers (now where did I put them all?) a failure of the starting partnership to score can always be rectified by making a change. Don't get me wrong - I'm not part of the knee-jerk "Venables out" crowd - after all, he's had less than a dozen games and a pre-season that left the players lounging around airports rather than working on their fitness (and it shows). The performances we're seeing from the side are no worse than those under the last dark days of DOL - but TV needs to show that he's got the team's strengths and weaknesses figured, and the players motivated to perform by Christmas otherwise that long-touted but rarely proved tag of "Best Coach in the Game" will be looking somewhat tarnished.
October 06: Leeds Ladies did what the men couldn't this weekend - score! Sue Smith got a hat-trick and Caroline Thorpe scored from the spot as Brighton were hammered 4-0.
October 06: Round Europe we go - no doubt I'll have to add an extra country to the round-up on Monday when we find out what far-flung corner UEFA might be sending us to for the next round.
October 06: Rio Ferdinand's absence from the scene gives Jon Woodgate a chance to continue his rehabilitation at the top level. Woody is named in the England squad for the two Euro 2004 qualifiers and will be competing with Gareth Southgate and Ugo Ehiogu for the place alongside Sol Campbell. Paul Robinson also retains his place in the senior squad, along with Danny Mills and Alan Smith, but there's no place for Nigel Martyn or Lee Bowyer.
October 06: Dominic Matteo will go under the knife this week to clean up some of the debris in his knee and hopefully get him clear for the rest of the season. This will rule him out of Scotland's Euro qualifiers at the weekend - but may give him an outside chance of facing his old team-mates from Liverpool on Saturday week. Matteo's former defensive partner is also having an op: Rio will miss at least a month as he tries to shake off the problems that have dogged the start of his Old Trafford career.
October 06: Post-match reaction from the managers had Graham Taylor bemoaning his team's poor finishing but praising their work-rate. "We have dominated the game but we have not been able to convert our chances and we did not work their goalkeeper enough." He went on: "I have got nothing but praise for the commitment of the players and it is not easy when you are dominating and not scoring...The only thing we are missing is putting the ball in the net." Us Leeds fans know how you feel Graham! El Tel also talked up the performance of the home side, but if he meant that to reflect well on his own team's performance it doesn't cut any ice with the poor sods who had to sit through this 90-minute bore-fest. Venables said: "It was a hard-fought game which we expected because Villa have been doing well at home this year." And he also thought we made the best openings: "We had the best two chances of the game from Danny Mills and Lee Bowyer but it has not been a bad week for us. We have had two difficult games with the one in the UEFA Cup and now this one and we've ground out a couple of good results." He explained the omission of Olivier Dacourt from the bench in terms of his desire to ensure there was adequate defensive cover and the chance to change things round up front if necessary. He didn't explain why a player who has been called up into the French national squad should be considered less able to contribute something to the Leeds effort than the invisible Barmby.
October 06: Two shots remotely close to the goal in 90 minutes is not a good return by anybody's standards. We were clueless going forward today - Smithy had no support from the midfield and once again Barmby was missing presumed having lunch. Kewell finally made a couple of decent runs but we were always outnumbered in the centre of the park, and yet another dreadful refereeing display was the main talking point: having ignored three scything challenges on Bowyer and Smith that would have seen the victims booked or dismissed if they'd been the ones doing the tackling, the ref waited until Danny Mills was wrestled to the floor before getting the book out and carding Mills rather than Samuel. Vassell finally got booked himself after a spectacular collision in the box left him feeling hyper-aggrieved in the last minute. He may have had a case, but earlier theatrics didn't help his cause. Also a special word for the assistant ref who was running the line in front of us: "Idiot". He made 3 clearly wrong offside calls, flagged late the rest of the time and called fouls and throws based on some bizarre rulebook that the rest of us haven't read. And speaking of throws, when there are some dodgy tackles going in during the game it speaks volumes for the ref's awareness that he reserved his most frequent complaints for when the players tried to steal a yard or two at the throw-ins.
October 06: One thing I didn't pick up on yesterday was Craig Farrell's immediate impact at Carlisle: he equalised for the home side against Torquay in his first start, although they succumbed to a very late winner to lose 1-2 and now sit third from bottom of Division 3.
October 05: Not much old boy news today. Scott Sellars netted Mansfield's second as they came from behind to beat Tranmere 6-1. Danny Hay was dismissed after picking up two yellows as Walsall drew 2-2 at Derby - two goals from Malcolm Christie for the hosts being ultimately equalised by a 90th minute penalty for Walsall. Carl Shutt's Kettering side blew a 1-0 lead in a 5 minute period either side of half-time, allowing Telford to take a 1-2 lead and then leaked another with just 5 minutes to go and both sides added a goal in injury time to leave the score 2-4. With no game lined up next week, why not come on down to Farnborough and cheer the Poppies on and then dive into the pub to watch the England game afterwards. 30 minutes from Waterloo on the train - and almost certainly better facilities at the ground than at the Meteor Stadium!
October 05: There could be a UEFA investigation into some of the on-field incidents from Leeds' game with Metalurg on Thursday. El Tel complained about the physical approach of our opponents but said that the club would not be making an official complaint, although the dismissed Milosavljevic was seen spitting at Barmby and other players complained of similar treatment. Venables said: "Most people would rather take a punch than be spat at and some of the incidents that went on were hard to accept." UEFA are waiting for the ref's report before deciding what to do.
October 05: The draw for the next round will be at 1100 BST on Tuesday - but you'll be able to start your outline planning on Monday when UEFA once again draw groups of 4 seeded and 4 unseeded teams together with the usual provisos of being unable to play another English team - Blackburn and Fulham remain in that half of the draw. We could face a rematch with Grasshoppers, or make an almost-easy trip to the Czech Republic for a game with Slovan Liberec or Viktoria Zizkov. Besiktas, Fenerbahce and Denizlispor would be seen as high-risk games simply because feelings against Turkey still run high among Leeds fans, and Crvena Zvezda or Partizan Belgrade of Yugoslavia will probably be the hardest to get to (though Amica Wronki of Poland might run them a close second, and I've yet to place Midtjylland or Djurgardens of Sweden on a map).
October 05: El Tel thinks we'll have a difficult game at Villa Park tomorrow - despite their recent poor form. "Villa are a capable side who have had it hard. They haven't had the best time of it, but they're working very hard for that win." He's hoping to give Teddy Lucic the chance of a game soon: "We want to see what Teddy can do. He's a very fit lad with some good experience and I'm keen to have a look at him." Whether a Premiership game is the place to do that looking is another matter. We've not done well against the middling sides so far and really need a win to kick start the league season - Liverpool at home and high-flying Boro away will not be easy games and games like tomorrow's are exactly where we need to pick up points.
October 05: Leeds have been drawn away at Sheffield United in the next round of the Worthington Cup. The game will be played in the week commencing November 4 - precise date to be confirmed later - and will be the first meeting between the two clubs since the Blades were relegated in 1994. The last time we played them in the League Cup was in 1978 when former Bramall Lane favorite Tony Currie scored for Leeds along with both of the Gray brothers as Leeds ran out 1-4 winners.
October 05: Craig Farrell has gone to Carlisle on a month's loan. The 19-year-old striker has done well in the reserves and will now be looking for some first team experience to take his game forward.
October 04: Team news for Sunday's visit to Villa Park sees Lucas Radebe still sidelined, and Dominic Matteo's ongoing injury problems must mean it's unlikely he'll see out the full 90 minutes. Jon Woodgate should be over his hamstring injury and on-loan Teddy Lucic is now fit enough to be considered for his first appearances since joining Leeds just before the transfer window closed. Michael Bridges is another who could find himself on the bench - he's over the knock he took on his "other" knee in training and will be keen to get himself into the side and force his way to the head of the queue before Robbie Fowler comes back on the scene and while El Tel seems to be harbouring some doubts about how to best use Mark Viduka.
October 04: SA coach Ephraim Mashaba laid into Lucas for his failure to make a pointless journey while injured and thus impede his recovery. With SA due to play an African Nations Cup qualifier against Burundi, Lucas has understandably pulled out of the squad - he didn't play for us last night after all! But the Bafana Bafana coach seems to take this as some sort of snub to the entire nation. He said: "I feel there is some dishonesty in the player. Correct me if I'm wrong, but FIFA rules state that if a player is called up, whether he is injured or not, he must travel back to his country to be checked and assessed, but our guys just ignore this." In fact, Leeds' doctors advised the player not to travel, since they felt that 20 hours in a plane was no way to recuperate from a knee knock. Mashaba continued his rebuke, saying: "We are putting players with no patriotism in the park," and threatening the players with exclusion from future squads. El Tel is not at all happy with Mashaba's comments. Today he said: "I think it's outrageous. Everyone knows what Lucas is like - he wouldn't let anyone down, not Leeds United supporters or the South African people. If there's one person whose word you're not going to doubt, it's him. They shouldn't be saying some of the things that have been said. I really feel sorry for him." Leeds had offered to pay for a specialist of South Africa's choosing to assess Lucas in Leeds but SAFA had gone public with their outrageous comments before replying to Leeds.
October 04: Dom Matteo was named in Scotland's squad for the Euro qualifiers - and I'm sure he'll do his best to get himself fit in time, but his recent injury problems must make it very likely that he'll play. Olivier Dacourt was a surprise call-up for France's games against Slovenia and Malta: he's not been a regular starter for Leeds this season but must have done something to impress the French coaching staff - or maybe they're just trying to shake things up after their disappointing performance in the summer's World Cup. Meanwhile - just a couple of days after his agent pronounced on the unlikelihood of a move away from Elland Road - Dacourt's name is being linked with a transfer window move to Roma - but the Italian side will need to sell a couple of players before they fork out for another.
October 04: TV had praise and condemnation in turn for the players and the referee of last night's game. Smiffy once again got a big thumbs-up after he came through a game in which he was fouled throughout the game but kept his temper. Venables said: "Alan has been criticised in the past for his temperament, but I thought out there he was a credit to us." But the ref is not as well-treated: "I do feel the referee was lenient. I accept you have to be tolerant, but as time goes by I have more and more difficulty with what goes on." Venables admitted that the game hadn't been the prettiest to watch but that wasn't the point at this stage of the tournament. "It's about results, which is what we stand and fall on in this game. This was a difficult match over two legs which we have come through."
October 04: Back safe from a vodka-soaked visit to Dnepr. Strange place - locals pretty friendly but officialdom (in the shape of the local police chief who read us the riot act before we'd even got through immigration) hidebound and in love with red tape and procedure. Dreadful game but at least we're through to the next round where we'll - hopefully - be drawn somewhere a bit more accessible.
October 02: So it's off to Leeds/Bradford Airport we go - an eyeball-achingly early flight tomorrow morning, followed by a few hours in Dnepr, then the match and then straight back. Keep an eye out for us all on the TV! You'll probably get 2 copies of this batch of news because I'll be off before this one goes and on my way back when the next one goes out - updates will be out as soon as possible.
October 02: Just about to head off and checking round tonight's Worthington Cup games I see that our Championship-winning midfield have had a grand day as managers. Strach's Saints scored in the 1st minute and went on to beat Tranmere 6-1, while Gary Mac's Cov hammered Rushden 8-0 after their visitors had two players dismissed. Meanwhile Clyde Wijnhard has just put Oldham 1-2 up in extra time at Derby - will this signal the end of John Gregory or will the Rams fight back before the final whistle.
October 02: Doobs is hoping for a recall to the centre of the defence with the current injury crisis gripping the club. And he knows tomorrow's game will be no pushover: "You can't take anything for granted in European competitions. It's only four years ago that we were the minnows in games like this and we can't be complacent."
October 02: Metalurg coach Oleg Lutkov doesn't have a particularly high regard for his opponents tomorrow. "There will be quite different football in Ukraine. A 1-0 [from the first leg] is not so bad for us and I am sure our team will be more attacking and next time we will try harder." As for the players, only three impressed him: "I would take Bowyer for my team, Woodgate and Smith," he said. We'll see how things transpire tomorrow to see if his opinion is justified.
October 02: Olly's agent now tells us that his client will not be leaving Leeds - well, almost certainly anyway! He said: "The possibility that Dacourt leaves Leeds in order to play in Italy in January is practically nil. The opportunity was there in the summer, but Juventus and Lazio procrastinated."
October 02: The tabloid speculation about Ian Harte's future at Leeds continues - and Juve are mentioned once again as a possible buyer. Quite why the Italian Champions would be prepared to splash £6 million on a player whose confidence is currently zero is a question that has gone unanswered in all of these press reports. Should we sell him? If his form doesn't improve and someone offers us that sort of cash, then of course we should! But the best outcome would be for him to get some fitness, pace and self-belief back, removing the need for us to find some cash for a replacement: he's still relatively young and could yet give us another 8-10 years of service if he gets himself sorted.
October 01: Places we won't be going if we make it past Metalurg (part 1): Aberdeen - 1-0 losers at Hertha Berlin; Donetsk - Shakthar won 1-0 in the Ukraine but Austria Vienna's 5-1 1st leg victory means that we'll need to use all of our local currency out there on Thursday (unless we get Dinamo Kiev later!); Geneva - Servette won 1-2 at Amica Wronki (Poland) but went out 4-4 on away goals. The draw for the second round - if we're still in it (well, even if we're not in it but you know what I mean) will take place at UEFA's HQ in Nyon on Tuesday 8 October. The bookies have us at 8/11 to win on Thursday, with the home side at 100/30 and the draw priced at 11/5.
October 01: Noel Whelan scored Boro's second goal tonight as they won their Worthington Cup tie with Brentford at a stroll, ending up 1-4 victors. Darren Huckerby spared Kev's blushes with an 87th minute goal to give Man City a 3-2 win over Crewe: the visitors had gone ahead in the first minute, then equalised with just 5 minutes to go after an og had put City in front. Let's all laugh at: Wolves - 1-3 up at Rotherham but losing on pens after a 4-4 extra-time scoreline, and Charlton - a goalless 120 minutes at The Valley was followed by a 6-5 win on pens for Oxford. Elsewhere Peter Reid's Sunderland shook themselves into life with a 0-7 thrashing of Cambridge - a win that prolongs the manager's career for another couple of weeks at least.
October 01: The ref from the Arsenal game, Alan Wiley, came out and said that he thought that Arsenal were almost certain to win the title and could do well in Europe. He said: "It was incredible. I came off at half time thinking to myself that I had just been in the middle of something exceptional." As opposed to his refereeing, which was sadly unexceptional and what we've come to expect of the men in the middle. Booking Smith and Vieira on the basis of their reputation rather than what they did, ignoring Cygan's double kick at Bowyer, allowing the Arsenal players to continue without leaving the field after receiving treatment while sending the Leeds players to the touchline and penalising Lucas Radebe for being the victim of the worst foul of the game - a potential neck-breaking "back" by Kanu while The Chief was airborne. Looks like Mr Wiley just can't cope with the pace and flow of the modern game. Not that his performance made one iota of difference to the outcome of course - on the form we saw on Saturday, Arsenal would have still beaten us even if Wiley understood what a foul was and the Leeds players had managed to pass the ball to each other and close down space rather than playing statues for 90 minutes.
October 01: Thursday's game will be televised live by Channel 5, with the programme starting at 1540 BST, KO at 1600 BST. Out there it looks like it will be a reasonable day weatherwise, with a dry, cloudy day predicted for Thursday - daytime temperatures in the low teens, falling to near freezing overnight (but we'll be on the plane and on the way back by then). So definite scope for a half-time shirts-off "Champions of Europe" then :-) Leeds have sold around 250 tickets for the game (where's mine got to guys?), and it wouldn't be too much of a surprise to see a few folks turn up and pay on the day, but this will be one of the smallest number of travelling supporters we've seen in Europe for a while (apart from the exceptional circumstances of Maritimo last year of course).
October 01: Terry Yorath has admitted that Sheffield Wednesday did try to have a chat with David Batty about his future - but says that Batty remains committed to Leeds and wants to end his career at Elland Road (though he didn't say when!). Yorath's alleged interest in Stephen McPhail doesn't look likely to go far with the young midfielder finally getting a run in the side.
October 01: Starting the new month with a grimace, we find that our three first-choice centrebacks are doubtful for Thursday's game. Woody's hamstring, Lucas's newly swollen knee and Dom Matteo's knee/ankle problems make them borderline for the away leg in Dnepr - which would probably leave us with a back line of Kelly, Mills, Duberry and Harte (unless El Tel decides it's time to give Frazer Richardson or Shane Cansdell-Sherriff their debuts). In fact, things are so bad that Matthew Kilgallon has been included in the 20-man squad that flies out tomorrow morning. The young defender has been a regular with the reserves this season and could find himself on the bench after it was decided that Woody and the Chief would not travel out in a bid to get them fit for the trip to Villa at the weekend.
October 01: Leeds Ladies' reward for their weekend victory in the League Cup looks set to be yet another trip to Arsenal - should the Gunners beat lower-division opposition Sheffield Wednesday. The tie will probably take place towards the end of October.
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