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Leeds United News from The Sporting Life    Yorkshire Evening Post


December 31: A very Happy New Year to all my readers and contributors out there. Here's hoping for health and happiness for you all and that 2003 will have a few more positives on the pitch than we've had in this last 12 months.

December 31: Leeds' request for more tickets was turned down by Scunthorpe after the allocation of 2000 sold out within hours of the tickets going on sale. Scunthorpe are currently selling to season ticket holders and members only, with general sale starting Thursday and they have made it clear that there will be no ticket sales on the day to ensure that they can maintain crowd segregation. It's possible that this could be the first sell-out crowd ever at Glanford Park.

December 31: Robbie Fowler is the subject of a £7 million bid from Manchester City according to today's papers. Kevin Keegan will - just - be able to afford that sort of fee for Fowler, but if Terry Venables wants to hang on to the striker, it's understood he'll have to forego one of his main transfer targets - Gabrial Milito or Kleberson - or face the sale of one of the crown jewels of the side - Woody, Harry or Smithy - in order to keep the money men happy. If the transfer happens quickly, Fowler would find himself facing his former team-mates at Liverpool in an FA Cup clash at Maine Road, and if it takes a little longer then the final visit of Leeds to City's current ground could see the striker make his debut.

December 31: Richard North has resigned as a non-executive director of Leeds United in order to devote more time to his recent appointment as head of Six Continents (Bass as was). This just leaves Allan Leighton as the only non-exec on the board and that won't fill the city institutions who hold much of the Leeds stock with great delight, since they are understood to want more independent oversight of the club's activities, and with Leighton and Peter Ridsdale due to offer their plan for restructuring the finances and organisation in the New Year, that won't give any newcomers much time to get their feet under the table and take a balanced, informed view.

December 31: Mark Viduka insists he's happy at Leeds and has played down the rumours of his impending departure. "I can't help it that there have always been rumours about me leaving," he said. "Having been dropped to the bench a couple of times this season, I am definitely more determined to prove I am worth a starting place....Sometimes I need a kick up the backside." He wasn't happy watching the team perform badly from the stands or the bench and adds: "I just want to see that winning atmosphere come back, and for us to start winning games."

December 31: Harry Kewell now looks set to come back for the Brum game tomorrow. Terry Venables was hopeful that our top scorer would be available again, saying: "It was a dead leg and he couldn't move it, but it shouldn't be too much of a problem."

December 30: The injury to Harry Kewell that gave James Milner his opportunity to come on against Chelsea could give the youngster a start against Birmingham. Kewell's dead leg hasn't responded to treatment, and with Eirik Bakke's knee injury also likely to rule the Norwegian out it looks as if Milner could make his first Premiership start. Robbie Fowler could start alongside Mark Viduka - but whether both could last 90 minutes is open to question and it might be better to keep Fowler in reserve. For the Blues, Kenny Cunningham came out of their defeat at Old Trafford with a hamstring problem and Oliver Tebily, Steve Vickers, Darren Purse and Martin Grainger all carry injuries which make their participation unlikely.

December 30: The supporters - on his back a month ago - deserve the recent wins according to El Tel. "The supporters here have been fantastic and they deserved it on Saturday," he said. "It's been like that for a few weeks now, where they have been right behind us, and it's definitely a boost to me and the players. I can honestly say that the noise made in the Southampton game was unbelievable and, in all my years in football, I have never heard support like that. The fans have been terrific and I'm pleased that we finally got that win at home for them." What has been happening at these games is quite simply that the fans have decided that they'll be with the club come what may, and it's better to sing for the club and show some commitment rather than slagging off the below-par performances from players who clearly don't know just how good a thing they're onto. *WE* are Leeds!

December 30: Paul Okon has had a solid enough series of games for Leeds and seems to be finding his feet a bit better now. He's determined to make the most of his chance to impress the manager before injuries clear up and new players arrive in the transfer window. He said: "I take nothing for granted but given the opportunity I'll do the best I can and play my part in turning our season round. Results are improving but the time to judge us is at the end of the season. I enjoyed working with Terry Venables for Australia and Middlesbrough and was keen to play for him again at Leeds. It's good to have a run in the side and I'm enjoying it."

December 30: Harry Kewell is the latest voice to be heard in praise of James Milner. "The first time I saw him in training he took the ball past about three of our defenders. From that point onwards he always had a spark about him and we knew what he was capable of." Kewell knows all about the pressures of being identified as a great talent and future star at a young age, but reckons it won't affect Milner. "When you're young, you just go out there and play football - you don't worry about anything." He went on: "James has got a brain about him now so I think he'll know what he's got to do. He trains well and he's gone out there again and proved it wasn't a fluke."

December 29: The transfer window is almost open so it's time for more fevered speculation on who's going where. Lee Bowyer is on his way to St James Park, where Bobby Robson will be hoping to harness the player's talent and get his temper under control. Alpay looks set to leave Villa Park after a bust-up with a team-mate on the training ground, and Leeds could step in after TV failed to convince the board to spend on William Gallas in the summer. Meanwhile Gerard Houllier wants to revive his flagging Liverpool side by signing Harry Kewell after Blackburn closed the door on a bid for Damien Duff.

December 28: Both managers were full of praise for James Milner after today's game. Terry Venables said: "He is a fine young fellow. The sort of guy you want to be involved in your football club and in your squad. He is the kind of person who will make it better for longer, the sort of solid character which we already have many of here at Leeds." And after Claudio Ranieri conceded that he'd made a mistake in making 7 changes to rest players in a busy period, he admitted that Leeds had deserved to win. Of Milner he said: "He was fantastic. He is quick, clever, has two good feet and well done to him, but I think it is important to leave him calm and let Terry handle him."

December 28: James Milner is now the second youngest player to score in the Premiership as well as the youngest. His 18-yard cracker this afternoon sealed the win just before half-time, and despite the panto-villain JFH being wheeled out for the second half Chelsea couldn't find the target and Robbo had one of his easier games. All of a sudden we seem to be back on track.

December 28: Andy Gray was on target yet again for Bradford as they won 1-2 at Wolves. Brian Deane's second half strike of Watford completed a comeback win for Leicester. Mark Tinkler got Hartlepool back on track after recent hiccups to help them to an excellent 3-0 win at home to third-placed Cambridge and climb back to the top of the table.

December 28: Danny Mills today revealed the facts behind the "personal reasons" that kept him out of the side in November. His wife was carrying their third child, but following a scan just after the Sheffield United game, it turned out that the baby had no hope of survival. He echoed Mark Viduka's earlier comments in rubbishing talk of a dressing room fight between the two after the Bramall Lane game - saying that there had been a fairly frank exchange of views after the game, but that there was no problem between any of the players and the only reason he'd not spoken out before was for the entirely understandable reason that he had other things on his mind.

December 28: James Milner is not exactly being well-rewarded for his efforts at present. Since he's under 17, he's still on an Academy contract and gets the princely sum of £80 a week. When he turns 17 next week he can expect to have a zero added to that amount, with performance and appearance bonuses on top of that. Maybe we should pay a few more people £80 quid a week if this is what we're getting for our money!

December 27: Our manager has a lot of time for what Claudio Ranieri has managed to achieve with his former club, and reckons they could challenge for the title this time round. "They finally appear to have clicked. They're certainly looking consistent, and that is why where they are now." He went on: "Manchester United and Liverpool have had a bit of a splutter and it's Chelsea who have slipped into key position. But it's still those three and Arsenal who will be around at the end of the season." Carlo Cudicini could miss out again with a calf injury - but Ed de Goey has been a capable deputy. Frank Lampard, William Gallas and Eidur Gudjohnsen came off the bench as Chelsea tried to grab a win at home to Southampton yesterday and could start tomorrow. For Leeds, Jon Woodgate faces a late fitness test on his ankle injury, Alan Smith's facial injury which he sustained at Sunderland is on the road to recovery and he is likely to return, and Lee Bowyer's suspect ankle might be risked in this game rather than being saved for Birmingham and Scunthorpe.

December 27: Eddie Gray wants a return to the old "Fortress Elland Road" mentality. He said: "Elland Road has traditionally been a tough place for teams to come and we've got to get back to that. It's a lack of confidence and sometimes you can sense that with the players. They tend to sit deeper thinking they have to defend a goal." He went on: "We've got to start winning home games. It's always been a difficult place for opponents and I'm sure it will be again. A couple of wins and I think that will happen." Since the East Stand went up in place of the Lowfields, and the subsequent conversion of the all-standing Kop to the all-seater Revie Stand has done much to rob the place of atmosphere, aided and abetted by a stewarding policy more suited to a library or theatre than a sporting venue. In fact, the recent adversity has done more to improve the atmosphere and the support for the team than anything we've seen since we won the title 10 years ago.

December 27: TV has praised FIFA's decision to award a World Cup Final place to Oceania directly for the next finals - without having to go through the play-off hoops that have dogged the Socceroos' last attempts to qualify. Venables said: "It's fantastic. It's a great step forwards and I'm delighted for them. I'm really, really pleased." He went on: "Football doesn't get a look in. America are showing up well now because of their competitiveness and their fitness. Just like South Korea and Australia, that's what they're great at. Australians have to leave their own country to make a mark and travel all round the world to make a mark on the game." I'm sure I'll get my knuckles rapped if I don't mention that the current Oceania champions are New Zealand - although Australia have got closer to the World Cup finals in the last two competitions.

December 27: The Liverpool away game will now be shown on Sky's PPV so that means it moves back to Sunday March 23 with a 1400 KO.

December 27: There has been praise aplenty for James Milner after his record-breaking goal yesterday and El Tel has been leading the cheering. "He has a good future and I will not be afraid to start him if necessary. After all I wasn't afraid to put him in at 16, for him to be involved, and he has edged ahead of some people," he said. He sounded a note of caution about talking such a young lad up so soon in his career: "We're talking really about his age and it's early days for the boy. We've seen lots of young lads do well but their attitude is more important than anything. They've got to keep their head straight and make sure they don't get fancy ideas about what they are, because at the moment he hasn't achieved anything and he's the first to know that."

December 26: Great result from the Sunderland game - a victory after being behind is a rarity indeed these days. Couple that with James Milner's first goal - making him the new holder of the "Youngest Ever Scorer in the Premiership" title - and the general improvement in team spirit we've seen over the last month and maybe we can dare to believe that the corner has finally been turned.

December 26: Old boys round-up from the Boxing Day games. Robbie Keane spurned plenty of chances at White Hart Lane - but finally popped up with a goal to start Spurs' comeback from a 0-2 deficit against Charlton. The game ended all square and with Christian Ziege receiving his marching orders for the second game in row. Andy Gray scored an equaliser from the spot for Bradford after Stoke had taken an early lead, then rounded off the game with an 89th-minute strike that sealed the points in a 4-2 win for the Bantams. Craig Farrell also scored from a penalty to give Carlisle the lead at home to Darlo, but the game ended 2-2. Paul Shepherd was yet another penalty-scorer in Scarborough's home match against Doncaster - but his side were 0-2 down when he put his spot kick away and went on to lose 2-5 after being reduced to 10 men for the last 10 minutes.

December 23: Martin Carruthers scored the only goal of the game in tonight's delayed FA Cup replay between Carlisle and Scunthorpe - so it's off to Glanford Park on January 4 for us. Peter Ridsdale watched from the stands - and hopefully brought a nice big pile of tickets back with him.

December 23: Teddy Lucic is upset for El Tel after yet another 2 points slipped away at the last on Saturday. "We feel for the manager when results like this happen. It's tough for him, but it's tough for us players too. You are always disappointed to lose two points the way we did when you are leading 1-0 and then with a minute to go you concede a goal. I don't know why we keep conceding these late goals, but it's nothing to do with a lack of concentration because when you are winning with a couple of minutes to go, you are concentrating 100%."

December 23: Nick Barmby will be out for up to 8 weeks after an exploratory op revealed the seriousness of the achilles injury he picked up while warming up at Spurs. Lee Bowyer is now over his ankle injury and Eirik Bakke returns from suspension and will be back in contention for a place at the Stadium of Light on Boxing Day. Also possibly involved there could be Olivier Dacourt after El Tel seemed to offer a truce in the war of words between club and player - smoothing things over no doubt ahead of the transfer window opening.

December 23: When the transfer window opens in January we could have a surprising new signing: Paul Gascoigne. Well, that's if the player himself has anything to do with it. We were linked with him many years ago in those glorious times when Bill Fotherby would wander around Europe trying to persuade the biggest players to join us - and succeeding in his quest when he brought back Tomas Brolin. But Gazza is adamant that he'd like to link up with the coach who understands him best: "I could do a job for Terry. He will turn that club round come January... I always call him my second dad." He went on: "I'm desperate to get back and prove I can still do it. I don't want any presents on the 25th. I just need to get back on that field because I am missing it a hell of a lot... I'd love a Premiership or First Division club to take me on."

December 22: So Steven Gerrard has said he's "sorry" for his outrageous two-footed tackle on Gary Naysmith in today's Merseyside derby. If only Lee Bowyer had thought of using this method as a way of avoiding bad press after stamping on Gerardo - I'm sure the management of both sides would have been more than happy to sweep Bowyer's incident under the carpet in exactly the same was as Gerrard's latest thuggish assault on a fellow player is about to be.

December 22: A quick look to see how things went in Europe this weekend as we all wind down for Christmas.

Leaders Real Sociedad were a goal down against bottom side Recreativo Huelva but were back on level terms withing two minutes, played the last half hour with 10 men and still managed to win 1-3 to maintain their grip on the lead. Valencia remain in second place, but a first-half goal from Roy Makaay in the Mestalla saw Depor take the three points and close to within two points of their hosts. There were a couple of eventful games yesterday: Malaga were two goals up on Real Madrid after 40 minutes, but a goal from Zidane just after the break was followed by a goal from Raul and a spot kick from Luis Figo to clinch a 2-3 win. Madrid now sit just 8 points behind the leaders with a game in hand. The hanky-waving seems to have had the desired effect at Barcelona: Patrick Kluivert scored a hat-trick and Marc Overmars added the other as they strolled to an easy win in Mallorca after their hosts were reduced to 9 men after 32 minutes. Barca are now - just - back in the top half of the table but are 16 points off the pace.

Only goal difference separates the two Milan sides at the top of Serie A tonight. Milan's goalless draw at home to Brescia left them top of the pile but gave Inter the chance to join them, which they did with a win at Parma: Biagio's first-half strike cancelled out by a Zanetti og before Recoba won the game from the spot with a quarter of an hour left. Inter lead Lazio by a point after the Rome side could only draw 1-1 at home to Bologna. Chievo's 2-0 win over bottom side Como leaves them in fourth - heading Juve on goal difference after their 92nd-minute winner secured the points at Perugia.

Of the top 5 in France, only Guingamp could muster a win this weekend. Marseille remain top after a 1-1 draw with Monaco who now sit in 4th place. Nice and hosts Strasbourg both had a player sent off in the first half, but neither could muster a goal, leaving the visitors second. Guingamp were a goal down after 23 minutes, but scored three in five minutes and then held out with 10 men for the last 10 minutes at home to Ajaccio, and Lyon blew their chance of taking the lead when they conceded an 89th-minute equaliser at Sedan

PSV won 1-0 at home to Vitesse Arnhem and Ajax scored in the first minute and then five minutes into the second half to record a 0-2 win at Excelsior, but Feyenoord slipped up again at 4th-place NAC Breda - their sixth minute strike cancelled out 5 minutes from the end for a 1-1 draw, and they now trail leaders PSV by 9 points. De Graafschap are showing signs of life in the basement - their 3-2 home win over second-bottom Zwolle now means there are 3 clubs on 13 points at the foot of the table and starts to open up the fight against relegation.

Club Brugge maintain their dominance of the Jupiler League with a 3-0 home stroll against third-bottom side Lommel. Anderlecht are finally hitting their stride - a Jestrovic hat-trick the highlight of their 7-1 thrashing of Beveren - but they still trail Brugge by 11 points.

December 22: TV revealed today that he'd lined up a replacement for Rio - but then couldn't sign him due to lack of money. Chelsea's William Gallas was the target, and Venables said: "I can't help feeling frustrated when I see how well Gallas has performed at centre half." He went on: "The word was he might have been available for £7 million. It sounds a cracking bargain now."

December 22: Today's Sunday Mirror has Robbie Fowler on his way to Man City now they're no longer interested in Lee Bowyer. Meanwhile occasional Leeds target Kleberson now sounds like he could be moving north of the border to Celtic - no doubt inspired by their great achievement in staying in Europe beyond Christmas for the first time in 25 years.

December 22: El Tel had to dash off at the end of the match yesterday so it was Eddie Gray taking the press conference. He said: "Obviously we're disappointed with this result because we got ourselves in to a winning position and we let it slip at the end. But it was important that we finally stopped the run of defeats here and got a point. Terry is at least pleased with the week following the good result at Bolton. He is quite happy." And he knows we've not quite turned the corner yet. He said: "I think once we win a game or two here at Elland Road and start playing with that little bit of confidence then things will be different."

December 22: Not really much old-boy news to report from yesterday - Rod Wallace made the only significant contribution to a result with the opener in Gillingham's 4-2 win over Burnley. Oh yes - then there was Gary McAllister's Goal of the Season contender - a 30-yard first time volley that rocketed in and set Cov on their way to a 3-0 win over Derby.

December 22: In the end it was a bit disappointing to concede a goal in the last minute of normal time - but only a one-eyed fan could deny Saints deserved their point yesterday. We remain weak in midfield and could really have looked to bring on Seth Johnson to stiffen up the middle after going a goal up - but that's life. Praise too for ref Chris Foy - first time we've had this bloke and although there wasn't much for him to deal with he kept his cards in his pocket until Chris Marsden's tirade of abuse won him a yellow for dissent, and generally kept the game going pretty well.

December 21: Carlisle now look set to play their FA Cup replay against Scunthorpe on Monday night - weather permitting. The game is now unlikely to be screened by Sky - losing the club around £100,000 in TV money.

December 20: Team news etc ahead of tomorrow's game. Alan Smith returns from suspension - but Eirik Bakke is now out after getting to 5 bookings this season. Mark Viduka should be ready to return after his shoulder injury, but Lee Bowyer's ankle is thought likely to continue to keep him out. Olivier Dacourt has only played an hour of reserve football so is less likely to return, but Seth Johnson must be in with a chance of an appearance after coming on against Bolton on Monday. Nick Barmby will need an op on his achilles injury and won't be available until the back end of January.

December 20: Brian Deane scored the only goal in tonight's game between Brighton and Leicester to move Mickey Adams' side to within two points of leaders Portsmouth.

December 20: El Tel says he's against the concept of the transfer window - not a totally surprising position from the arch wheeler-dealer. He said: "I can't see how the transfer window is for the betterment of the game. I don't see how it helps the clubs, the players, the manager or the team." And it's not just the constraints on the manager's ability to buy and sell - it's the restriction on players moving when they're unhappy that he's talking about: "Sometimes it suits the player to go and this window has made that very difficult. You can't do anything and the player is just stuck there - and more than anything that's bad for the supporters." I wonder who he could be talking about?

December 20: Paul Robinson has shrugged off talk of interest from Barcelona and made it clear that he sees his future at Leeds. He said: "It's very flattering if a club like Barcelona even know who you are, let alone express an interest in signing you. Most players can only dream of playing for them. But Leeds need me to be at my best. I'll be focusing on that and nothing else." He went on: "Leeds gave me a start and I've a very close relationship with the fans. The team owes it to them and the manager to turn it around." Well said mate - it's nice to see a player acknowledge the support the team receives like this.

December 19: There's an interesting interview in tonight's YEP (read it here) in which deputy chairman Allan Leighton talks about his role at the club and offers his thoughts on where the club - and football as a whole - is going financially. Interestingly, one of the things he says is this: "The issue is that there is this thing across the whole club at the moment. There is a lack of confidence... Basically it's a good squad of players that we've got, but because we're not performing on the pitch we're not performing off it and therefore does everybody in the club feel under pressure? Yes they do. And rightly so because the measure of everything is performance." And so say all of us. At least he's not trying to sweep the current problems under the carpet or spin them all away!

December 19: Tonight's FA Cup replay between Carlisle and Scunthorpe was frozen off after a cold snap in the North-West. No date has been fixed yet for a replay - and with the Christmas programme already crowded it's hard to see how they'll fit the game in in time to arrange tickets and police cover for the visit of Leeds to the winners on January 4.

December 19: Paul Robinson is the transfer window target of Barcelona according to some reports today. The young keeper has been one of the few positives from the disappointing start to the season - but Barca might not be the best place to go at the moment with both coach van Gaal and president Gaspart under siege from a furious and frustrated set of fans for whom their great run in the Champions League does not compensate for their bottom-half spot in La Liga. A fee of around £5 million is being mentioned - now you know they're having a laugh! Other reports today link El Tel in a transfer swoop for Leicester's Muzzy Izzet as a replacement for Lee Bowyer. That would certainly be one in the eye for the knuckle-draggers who habitually chanted "Die Turkey Die" whenever he had the ball in the last game at Leicester - but with the new consortium about to take over at Filbert Street providing some new funding and with Mickey Adams' side pushing for promotion, a move to Leeds must be seen as unlikely.

December 19: The Reserves beat Brum 0-5 away from home last night. Olivier Dacourt and Harpal Singh scored a goal apiece but the star of the show was James Milner with a hat-trick. Okay, it's only a reserve match against the Blues but it's not bad for the young lad. Lucas Radebe continued his comeback with a 70 minute run out in the match in Solihull.

December 18: The Office for Supervision of Solicitors has thrown out all the complaints made by the National Civil Rights Movement - who were among Sarfraz Najeib's advisers around the trial - against Peter McCormick. McCormick was a director of the club as well as acting for Michael Duberry at the time of the case and was accused - among other things - of having a conflict of interest and that he had acted improperly and unethically in advising Duberry.

December 18: Now that the transfer window is off the latch and ready to be opened, it's time for more random speculation! Lee Bowyer is free to negotiate with other clubs from January 1 with a view to leaving on a Bosman in the summer - and those negotiations have more or less been completed with Spurs if some reports are to be believed. Bobby Robson wants to solve his defensive problems with a move for Jon Woodgate that would return the big centreback to the North-East - though he'll be under even stricter instructions to avoid Middlesbrough if he signs for Toon. Speaking of Boro, Steve Mclaren is worried about the loss of form of Massimo Maccarone and would be very interested in signing Mark Viduka - and the big Aussie might want out unless he finds himself back in the starting line-up when he gets over his injury.

December 18: Olivier Dacourt should have a run-out in a Leeds shirt - probably close to his last - for the reserves tonight. After a very public falling out with Terry Venables, he's a racing cert for a move in the transfer window, so tonight's game at Birmingham could be the end of his Leeds career.

December 18: Danny Mills is in talks with the club to extend his current deal to five years - even though he's got another 30 months to run on this one. Arsenal are known to be interested in the defender - even more so after his excellent World Cup - but he's happy enough at Leeds, and his agent has opened negotiations with the club, saying: "We've had initial talks with the chairman with reference to a new contract for Danny and I would like to think they were positive. Now [Peter Ridsdale] has gone away to digest what we have put to him and the ball is in his court now." Mills is thought to want to double his current £20 grand a week - and despite Leeds' financial problems such a salary should not be out of the range of Leeds for a top player. Monday night's goal against Bolton couldn't have come at a better time!

December 18: If you've not yet bought a festive gift for that Leeds fan in your life - and you happen to live in West Yorkshire - then get yourself over to Asda in Pudsey where they'll be selling Leeds shirts at 20% discount to the official prices - and it's being done with the club's agreement! With an OFT investigation into the price of kits currently underway and the prospects of major fines for clubs found guilty of price-fixing, it's a positive step for Leeds, and the Consumers' Association said: "Leeds United and Asda are to be congratulated - and Leeds in particular for putting the interests of their fans first and helping them cut the cost of Christmas." Now all they need to do is to extend it to a few more stores and we'll all be happy. The Asda in Southgate would sell at least one Leeds shirt if they got some stock in :-)

December 17: Lee Bowyer's ankle injury that kept him out of the starting line-up last night is expected to clear up in time for the visit of Southampton on Saturday. Alan Smith will also be back from suspension so it will be interesting to see where TV makes the changes after the great team performance last night.

December 17: Lee Bowyer will learn his fate on January 8 when the UEFA Control and Disciplinary panel next meets. The general consensus seems to be that he'll be hit by a fine as well as a ban from European competition whenever the club he happens to be playing for at the time manages to qualify.

December 17: TV was happy with the result last night but stressed the need to build a run from such a strong start. He said: "We've got four more games coming up very quickly and, before this game, I felt we needed to get something out of all five of them... If you lose a couple, or three, then all of a sudden it gets hard to raise yourself." And he pointed to a recent example of good form as an indication of what it could mean to us: "You see a team like Manchester City who were going leg for leg with us. They've got a couple of good results and now they are talking about Europe."

December 17: Harpal Singh is the latest loan player to return to Elland Road after a spell at Bradford. He's done less well this time than he did in his time at Bury last season, playing in just three matches in which Bradford lost each time.

December 16: The manager looked pleased but not exactly overjoyed after tonight's game. He cast a quick glance in the direction of the cheering fans at the end of the game but didn't really acknowledge the genuine support that the team had received throughout the match. Venables said: "We were very positive, worked hard and showed good discipline. We were a lot tighter and it was obvious we had been practising our long-range shooting." (tongue obviously in cheek there). He went on: "After a string of bad results the players kept their mental toughness. The pressure was more than on them but they came up trumps. When you lose, it's hard to keep going and hard to raise yourself." Sam Allardyce reckoned he'd had a bit of bad luck tonight: "The only difference was that Mills hit one from 20 yards with his left foot which he doesn't do and Wilcox hit one from 25 yards which he doesn't do. Then we gift them a goal, which I say was offside and we miss a penalty." Still Sam, your future is very much in your hands for the next game against the one team below you in the division!

December 16: "What the f*** is going on?" sang the Leeds fans at Bolton tonight. And well they might ask - a 0-3 away win? What was Terry thinking of? And as for those 25-yard screamers from Mills and Wilcox - they should have passed the ball, greedy sods. The players made a point of celebrating their goals with the bench and the travelling support made a huge amount of noise to back the team. The away fans also had a few uncomplimentary things to say about Mr Poll - which was probably a little unfair in the circumstances: when he awarded a penalty to Bolton for handball by Ian Harte he was unsighted and had to go on the word of his linesman who got it hopelessly wrong. Still, a great save by Paul Robinson more than matched Chris Kirkland's effort yesterday to see justice done. Leeds had a lot to thank the ref for in the second half when Paul Okon committed a late studs-first challenge on Frandsen, and having already seen a yellow card in the first half was very lucky to be allowed to complete the full 90 minutes. Still, that's 3 points we didn't have before - now to follow it up with the same again on Saturday!

December 16: Lee Bowyer will have to wait until the New Year before he hears about a ban from UEFA for his stamp on Gerardo in last week's game. A UEFA spokesman said that they would view video evidence when it arrived but there was no rush to deal with the case since Leeds were out of the UEFA Cup. Bowyer can expect at least a 3-match ban for the foul - possibly more in the light of his previous ban for a similar offence against Valencia in the Champions League two years ago.

December 16: Jamie McMaster has returned from his loan spell with Cov after damaging medial ligaments in training last week.

December 15: It's going to be a while before we're playing in Europe again (unless we win the FA Cup or get high enough to get in the InterToto) but there's no harm in keeping an eye on what's going on out there.

Real Mallorca took the lead against top side Real Sociedad today with Samuel Eto'o at the start of the second half. The leaders hit back quickly and were 2-1 in front within 10 minutes and held on to clinch the points. Louis van Gaal is now under possibly terminal pressure - a disappointing run of form has left Barca well off the pace, and tonight he found his team 0-1 down to a Casquero penalty after just 5 minutes. Two further goals in the last 15 minutes of the game gave Sevilla a surprise win but could have sealed the Dutchman's fate at the Nou Camp. Valencia have been hit by a few injuries lately, but John Carew bagged a pair in ten minutes in the second half to keep them in second spot with a 0-2 win at Villareal. Real Madrid were 0-2 down in the Bernabeu to bottom side Recreativo Huelva after just 15 minutes, but powered back to a 4-2 win that takes them into third spot. A late goal from Luque gave Depor the win over Malaga, while Celta Vigo followed up their UEFA Cup exit at the hands of Celtic by losing 3-0 at Santander.

The top three all won in Italy - though none without a little difficulty. Milan went in front at bottom side Como through Massimo Ambrosini but could only hold their lead for a minute before the home side equalised. Andrei Shevchenko restored their lead just before half time and that was the scoring done. Lazio were one down to Pavel Nedved as they took on Juve at the Stade delle Alpi - but as soon as Nedved had scored, Stefano Fiore went up the other end and equalised, and then made it 1-2 five minutes after half time. Inter needed a 70th minute strike from their African striker Mohammed Kallon to despatch Atalanta, and Chievo's 0-3 win at Piacenza allowed them to overtake Juve and move up to fourth.

After getting gubbed at home by the Poles in the UEFA Cup, Schalke surprised leaders Bayern by holding on for a gutsy goalless draw, allowing Borussia Dortmund and Werder Bremen to close up at the top. Dortmund were easy winners - 0-4 at Energie Cottbus with a Jan Koller goal at the start and end of the game. Bremen also had a fairly straightforward win over Borussia Moenchengladbach, and they now trail Bayern by 6 points. Kaiserslautern are on the mend a bit - a penalty two minutes from the end gave them a 2-1 win over Hertha Berlin - although they remain second bottom. Bayer Leverkusen's slump continues - a 0-2 home defeat by Nurnberg leaves them hovering just above the drop zone - a massive 19 points behind Bayern.

Leaders Nice blew it at Bordeaux today - going down 4-0 in a poor display that left Marseille on top of the pile for the first time in 3 years after their 2-1 win at Sedan yesterday. Champions Lyon could have taken over at the top if they had not conceded a 90th-minute equaliser at home to bottom side Montpelier, and Auxerre also blew their chances of leading when they could only manage a goalless draw at home to Strasbourg. Rennes won yet again - 1-0 at home to PSG and from looking dead and buried a few weeks back, now seem to be climbing clear of trouble at the bottom.

There was a change at the top of the Eredivisie in Holland this weekend when PSV won 2-4 at Ajax - two second half goals from Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink finishing off the former leaders. Feyenoord hammered AZ 6-1, but still trail Ajax by 5 points. De Graafschap showed why they are the bottom team: visitors Willem II scored in the first minute, and despite being reduced to 9 men they held on for a 1-1 draw.

Club Brugge now lead the Jupiler League by 11 points following their 1-3 win at Germinal today. Anderlecht's 1-2 win at La Louviere moves them into second place thanks to Genk's 0-1 win over St-Truidense on Friday.

December 15: Brian Kidd - linked with the Ireland job just last week is now once again being named as Steve Mclaren's successor in the England setup. Kidd would take the job on a part-time basis and is favorite for the post after Sven polled the England squad for their opinions.

December 15: Terry Venables faces a make or break game at Bolton tomorrow night (as if we needed more pressure). With a board meeting scheduled to take place on Tuesday, a defeat on Monday night might be the spur to action even though the club can ill-afford another big pay-off when we've still not settled with DOL and have all the other debts. George Graham reckons Venables deserves more time - "he hasn't become a poor coach overnight" and TV also gets some backing from Old Big Head himself, Brian Clough. The one-time Leeds manager said: "I'm surprised things haven't gone a bit better for him. But he's only been there five minutes and if you think a man has ability - as I think Terry has - then eventually in time it will come out."

December 15: Who did what yesterday: Rod Wallace opened the scoring for Gillingham in their 0-2 win at Hillsborough, ditto Gary McAllister for Cov as they enjoyed a similar win at Molineux. Robert Molenaar scored the only goal of the game as Bradford shook off their recent poor form to win 1-0 at home to Forest. Finally a bit of good news for Matt Jones who came on for an entire minute for Leicester - might not sound much but it's the first action he's seen in nearly a year due to injury.

December 14: Errrr....really there's not much news today. Honest. Venables is still in charge, we're not buying or selling anybody and Peter Ridsdale has kept his mouth shut for an entire day. Sorry...I know you expect a bit more from me...

December 13: Michael Bridges' injury last night puts Leeds in yet another short-handed position for Monday's trip to Bolton. With Alan Smith suspended and Mark Viduka uncertain if he will be over a shoulder injury, we're left with the recently-return Robbie Fowler - who we don't want to exhaust by overplaying too soon - and Harry Kewell, who has been under the weather with a virus. Maybe we should switch to the comedy formation we adopted against Chelsea in the Worthington Cup last year and play Doobs up front.

December 13: A fan jumped over the barriers during the game last night and tried to errr...make a point to our manager before he was dragged away by the security staff. Venables claimed not to have noticed it much, but he's clearly upset by the chants for Batts and Eddie and telling him it's time to go. He said: "I've been aware of the fans' chants for a long time but I keep going. I'm not deaf, but that has no effect at the moment. It's become a way of life really." He went on: "It's not pleasant, but I've got used to it and I'm a professional."

December 13: Lee Bowyer has admitted he stamped on - well, stepped on the face of - Malaga midfielder Gerardo last night. He will almost certainly find himself facing a 3-match ban for whoever he ends up playing for when he's next involved in a European competition. Probably won't be Leeds and certainly won't be next year so I guess we shouldn't be too bothered. Peter Lorimer and Joe Jordan have been among many current and past players lining up to take a pop at Bowyer for his petulant streak and pointing out how poorly he is playing now compared to the Champions League run two years ago.

December 12: So it's bye-bye to Europe. Leeds - a team flirting with the bottom of Europe's 3rd strongest league - were beaten by a solid top-half team from Europe's strongest league. Should we be surprised? Probably not - and although our visitors took gamesmanship to a new height tonight, the plain fact is that they'd probably have beaten us more convincingly if they hadn't come to play like a team of 11 Emile Heskeys, permanently tumbling to the ground and looking in pain at the ref and then making miraculous recoveries that saw them sprint 70 yards. Leeds made far too few chances throughout the game and there can be few complaints about this result when Paul Robinson was once again the star of the show for the Whites. The Kop went off on a bit of a tangent with chants of "One David Batty" (though even with tendinitis he might have controlled the midfield a bit better), an "Eddie Gray" or two but most rousingly "Terry Terry Time To Go!" If he lasts to Monday, anything less than three points from Bolton will surely spell the end.

December 12: Michael Bridges caught his studs in the turf after just 8 minutes tonight and ruptured his achilles tendon. It goes from bad to worse for the lad - he'll now miss the rest of the season.

December 11: Lee Bowyer could be back in the side tomorrow night after seemingly recovering from an ankle injury that kept him out of the dire capitulation at Loftus Road on Saturday. Alan Smith's half-time illness has now passed and he will be available, but Mark Viduka's shoulder is still likely to keep him out and Harry Kewell will have a late check to see if the virus that has left him drained and listless for the last week has cleared up. Malaga's Uruguayan star striker Dario Silva flew out with the squad after missing the first leg with a rib injury and should be fit to play, as is midfielder Romero who needed stitches in a head wound at the weekend.

December 11: Brian Kidd - already linked with a part-time role for England - is apparently in the frame for the vacant job as Ireland manager. He apparently told Mick McCarthy he was interested in the role and would like to have another go at being in charge of a team - although the role of national coach will certainly be different to running Blackburn. Maybe he's in the frame because he's seen as likely to be able to build bridges with Roy Keane? There are plenty of Leeds fans who would be glad to see him go and who link his appointment as head coach in March 2001 - just as Leeds were coming to the climax of the Champions League run - with a total change in the style of play and levels of fitness and commitment seen in the players. Of course, the drop-off in form since then might be purely coincidental, and the Leeds players were quick to give him their backing when he first came under attack from the fans last year. Just like they're wheeling out in formation support of El Tel now in fact...

December 11: Olivier Dacourt's time at Leeds creeps ever closer to an end with the news today that he has been fined as a result of the comments he made in an interview in the French press at the weekend. Venables said: "Olivier has been fined and as far as I am concerned it has all been dealt with and it is finished. Olivier says the English press were exaggerating and took it all out of context. Well I've seen the transcript and if that's the case he should be thinking about suing the English newspapers." Sounds like Terry has already written off any hope of getting anything out of Dacourt before he goes.

December 11: We'll get a chance to see our FA Cup 3rd Round opponents decided next week - the Carlisle vs Scunthorpe replay will be shown live on Sky on Thursday 19 December. Thus leaving almost no time to get the tickets out in time for the fixture. Excellent....

December 11: Leeds youth team stars Aaron Lennon and James Milner are in action tonight for the England Under-17s in their game against France.

December 10: Losing at Fulham has pushed TV to the brink - certainly in the minds of the bookies. The manager is now 11/10 ON favorite to be the next Premiership manager to receive his marching orders. A couple of battling performances have won Glenn Roeder a temporary reprieve and he's now out at 5/4 second favorite.

December 10: The Dacourt row rumbles on. His agent, the normally silent Bruno Satin, said that what he said in an interview with a French paper was mis-translated, and that what his client had actually said was that it was a shame that the team was doing so poorly. Satin said: "Olivier does not want to get involved in a slanging match even though he does feel insulted by what Venables said." In a manner not at all designed to prolong the conflict he added: "Attacking a player who has not played for a month, after not only losing at Fulham but being saved from a heavier defeat by his goalkeeper, was perhaps a convenient way of deflecting criticism." Dacourt is due to meet with Peter Ridsdale tomorrow to discuss his future at the club. If Venables remains, you can bet your boots it will be a very short discussion.

December 10: Stories in the press today say that Peter Ridsdale has vetoed TV's one major signing for when the transfer window reopens. Independiente's Argentinian defender Gabriel Milito has been mentioned in connection with Leeds on several occasions and it's understood that just £5 million would have brought him to Elland Road. The chairman wasn't impressed enough to give the thumbs up to that relatively cut-price deal, even with the player on mid-ranking wages of £25 grand a week. So now Milito will be available to all and sundry out there and TV has his excuse for leaving or end-of-season failure lined up.

December 10: Eirik Bakke has issued a rallying cry to the team ahead of Thursday's game. "We're a bit down but it's a new game on Thursday and hopefully that one can lift us a bit," he said. "It's good for us to get away from the league now because it's not going well for us. Hopefully it will be a different game on Thursday and we just have to keep our heads up." Don't worry Eirik - a few more performances like the one we saw on Saturday and we'll be getting away from this Premier League thing permanently.

December 10: For all those stuck down in London on Thursday, I've been asked to remind you that the Rampage on Great Queen Street in Covent Garden will be providing its usual excellent combination of beer and Leeds on the TV. Must admit it seems a sight more tempting than driving 200 miles up there in the cold and rain to watch the match, but I'm sure it will be one of those once-in-a-lifetime hammerings if I don't make the journey. Enjoy your beers in your nice warm pub folks.

December 09: There were a few totally unfounded (yeah right) rumours going round tonight that El Tel has been told that we need at least three league wins by the end of the year if he is to retain his job. The board are understood to have met today, but it's not known if they made any call on the manager's future, although the success of Paul Hart and Mickey Adams on meagre resources at Forest and Leicester - as well as Gordon Strachan's revitalisation of Southampton - must grant them serious consideration on any shortlist that might emerge. Of course taking over a club in a relegation is not exactly a great carrot to dangle but we live in hope.

December 09: Allan Clarke has offered his two pennorth on Olivier Dacourt's comments this weekend - and he's not impressed. "Terry should fine Dacourt two weeks' wages for his comments. The players should stand up and be counted. There are a lot of players at Leeds who are not giving 100% in every match. They are delighted to pick up the big wage packet but they are letting down supporters who are backing them to the hilt and that is unacceptable." Top bloke, that Clarkey. Shame his management helped get us relegated.

December 09: TV says he's not looking for excuses - but then produces two. First up, the injury situation - "freaky and unbelievable" according to our manager. "Not that different from the last couple of years" according to those of us with memories. Remember the team that got turned over at OT and went down 4-0 in the Nou Camp - but went on to the semi-final of the Champions League and a top 5 finish? Oh - and the number of games that the poor overworked loves have to play is also an issue: "We want to win in the UEFA Cup, but can we deal with the amount of games? We can't at the moment and are finding it difficult." Please don't try to get knocked out on Thursday to solve that particular problem Terry. And finally, it was all the fault of the pre-season tour: "I had eight or nine days by the time we'd had the tour and everything. Six weeks would have meant we had our structure and work done. But we've always been chasing that." In fairness, he's not pointing the finger at the fans: after early abuse from what we saw as unacceptable home defeat by Sunderland and away at Brum, the fans are getting behind the team during the game - although there were a couple of "Time to go" chants on Saturday, the loudest one was probably "It's all our fault again!" as yet another three points was washed down the pan.

December 09: The latest transfer blah has Inter's Hector Cuper ready to fork out up to £20 million for Woody. Cuper has been impressed by the recovery in the defender's form this season and after conceding three goals at the weekend must be getting desperate for someone to firm up his backline. Leeds are refusing to consider any bids - particularly for the core trio of Robinson, Woodgate and Smith - and even though the money would come in very handy, bids for the three players to have emerged consistently with credit this season must be refused if the board and manager are to have any credibility at all when it comes to convincing talented players to join us when the transfer window reopens. TV knows he has to sell someone - and it looks like Roma could be the ones to bid for Olly first, but now that his comments have laid bare the internal dissent and his personal battle with the manager they will almost certainly bid as low as to not seem totally laughable.

December 08: Round Europe in a flash - with a quick check in England where Robbie Keane hit Spurs' second goal just when it looked like West Brom were going to make their dominance pay off with an equaliser: the game finished 3-1 to Spurs.

Two games on Saturday saw the lead at the top of Serie A change hands again. Leaders Lazio were cruising 3-0 up at home against Inter after 35 minutes courtesy of a Claudio Lopez hat-trick. A second half comeback by the visitors squared the game, and so the Inzaghi goal that gave Milan a 1-0 win over Roma took them to the top. Juve could have jumped over all of them today, but their first defeat of the season - a 2-0 reverse at Brescia - saw them slip to 4th place.

Real Sociedad continue their grip on the top spot in La Liga with a 0-1 win at struggling Sevilla yesterday, but Valencia kept up the pressure with a 2-0 win over Racing Santander in the Mestalla thanks to goals from Angulo and John Carew either side of half-time. Celta Vigo are up into third spot after their 2-1 home win against Alaves while Mallorca were getting hammered 1-5 at home by Real Madrid - a brace apiece for Ronaldo and Raul, one for Guti and a red card for the home side's Walter Pandiani. A second-half goal for Rayo Vallecano increased the pressure on van Gaal as Barca lost their fifth game of the season and now trail the leaders by 13 points. Malaga were a goal down and a man down to Villareal before Dario Silva popped up with an equaliser - Rojas the man given his marching orders this week.

Roque Santa Cruz scored twice and Alexander Zickler bagged the other of Bayern's three unanswered goals at Stuttgart. They now lead Borussia Dortmund and Werder Bremen by 8 points after the former won 3-1 at home to second-bottom side Kaiserslautern while the latter drew 1-1 at fourth-placed Schalke. Bayer Leverkusen remain in the bottom half of the table despite a 0-3 win at 1860 Munich.

It was League Cup weekend in France - so there was a full league programme midweek. Nice climbed back to the top with a 3-0 win against Ajaccio while Lyon went down 2-0 at PSG. Nice lead four sides - Lyon, Guingamp, Auxerre and Marseille - by two points. At the foot of the table, Troyes failed to take advantage of an extra man for over an hour in a goalless draw at home to Lens, while the astonishing revival of Rennes continues with a 1-3 win at Strasbourg.

PSV closed the gap on Ajax to a point at the top of the Eredivisie - the leaders surprisingly dropped two points at bottom side De Graafschap with goalscorer Mido dismissed in the second half as they drew 1-1. PSV were two goals up inside 5 minutes at Utrecht and went on to win 1-3. Heerenveen are now just a couple of points off midtable safety after they came from a goal down to beat Feyenoord 3-1 at home - a result that leaves their visitors now 7 points behind PSV.

After last weekend's reverse, Club Brugge scored a convincing 5-0 midweek win over third-placed Lokeren and followed that up with a 2-1 win at home to Anderlecht yesterday: they've now caught up their games in hand and lead St-Truidense by 9 points. Lokeren remain in third place, a point clear of Anderlecht.

After Basle's 1-4 hammering of FC Wil 1900 yesterday, third place in Switzerland should have been a formality for Thun - all they had to do was beat bottom side Aarau today. But that simple task was beyond them, although their goal difference should have been enough to keep them in third spot despite a 2-0 defeat. That reckoned without FC Zurich - in fifth spot at the start of the day and down to 10 men and a goal behind after just 20 minutes at Delemont. They came back into the game and got themselves a 1-2 lead that would have won them third spot before conceding a goal in the 89th minute that blew their big hopes.

Keeping track of our former opponents, it seems that defeat in the UEFA Cup did Hapoel Tel-Aviv a power of good - they won again yesterday, 2-1 at Hapoel Petah Tikva.

December 08: Leeds Ladies went down 2-1 at Tranmere this afternoon. The home side took the lead after just 15 minutes, and although Leeds hit back through Michelle Walsh, Tranmere were back in front before half-time and that was the end of the scoring.

December 08: The FA Cup draw has been made - and we're at Scunthorpe or Carlisle in the third round in the first week of January. They shared a goalless draw at Glanford Park yesterday and replay at Brunton Park on December 17. We have only played Carlisle once in the cup - also in the 3rd round - in 1950, running out 5-2 winners at Brunton Park. The only time they have ever beaten Leeds was in a Division 2 game in 1983. Leeds faced Scunthorpe in the third round in 1984, also the only time the two sides have met in the FA Cup. It took three games to decide that tie with Tommy Wright scoring in each of the matches, but Allan Clarke put one over on his former employers as his side produced a 4-2 win at the Old Showground in the second replay.

December 08: El Tel has hit back at Olivier Dacourt's comments in the press yesterday and it seems that the Frenchman will have a lot of apologising to do if he is play for Leeds again. Venables said: "I was disappointed to read comments from Olivier Dacourt complaining at the way I have treated him at Leeds. I think his timing speaks volumes about the kind of person he is. Everyone knows we are going through a tough time at the moment but Olivier clearly isn't too bothered about that. He's a man who plays for himself - and speaks for himself. He really isn't too concerned about how it affects his own team-mates. Who does he think he's hurting when he calls the team a 'disgrace' on the morning of an important game for us all?" Venables was speaking in the News of the World and was so forthright in his views you could almost believe he was a Yorkshireman. "Dacourt claims he loves England - well, let me tell you this: he's been engineering to find a way out for the last 12 months and that includes the period when David O'Leary was manager here as well." And he finishes the job in no uncertain terms: "If he wants to go to Italy - and if someone is interested - I will personally drive him there." Once again, you may have an issue or three with the way his team is playing, but at least he's absolutely clear on where everyone stands.

December 07: JFH scored Chelsea's second goal at Everton today as they beat Everton for the second time in a week, winning 1-3 at Goodison. Andy Gray opened the scoring for Bradford at home to Gillingham - but saw the visitors score three times in the second half, rounding off their 1-3 win with a Rod Wallace goal in the last minute. Danny Granville completed an eventful week by scoring the only goal of the game as Palace saw off Millwall 1-0 at Selhurst Park.

December 07: How much longer has the manager got? After today's disaster he said he had no idea. "It's a concern for everyone every time a game ticks by - and if you ask me if I've made mistakes, I'd say 'yes'. It's obvious we'd all have done things differently if things haven't been going well. There are many contributions as to why we're in this position - but I don't think we're in a relegation battle." Bloody hell Tel - you could have fooled us! "If we don't turn it round shortly and pick up points, there is the likelihood we'll be in a relegation battle." Now that's worth £1.5 million a year of anyone's money! With insights like that I'm amazed that he's not been snatched up by some TV company to spout off about the state of the game on a regular basis. Hold on a minute....

December 07: There's really not much left to say. The away support for the team was once again tremendous, we got behind the lads and sung from start to finish. But the midfield was missing presumed inadequate and too many of the team were clearly playing while unfit or not yet ready to come back for a full game. I presume the manager understands this since even a particularly shortsighted and somnolent sloth can see that we aren't producing the sort of results that we can. But with a couple of possible exceptions it's hard to see how he could have picked a much different side today, and if you pick your best team and they lose, there's not a lot a coach can do. Even so, by the end the cries rang out clearly from the stands: "Terry - it's time to go." The way we played and the way the team looked this afternoon, I can't see how they'll win another game this season - it's as if they've forgotten something important but can't quite figure out what. So expect a hefty victory over Malaga on Thursday then...

December 06: Terry Venables has made a list and he'll be hoping Santa brings him what he wants - if not at Christmas then early in the New Year. He's not had the chance to do much in the transfer market - and like as not will have to sell if he wants to buy. But if he is going to really rebuild the squad for the future, it will need to take a major step forward in January, and Venables said: "I have done a lot of planning and I think now that I know what I would want to do if everything goes well. I don't know yet what we can do or what we can't." He acknowledges the money problems the club is facing, but will try to work within that without letting it constrain his options too much: "I can only do my bit and put together what I want to do, it all depends on whether the feelings upstairs are positive."

December 06: Olivier Dacourt edged a bit closer to the exit door today as he described Leeds' current form as "a disgrace" and admitted to having a less than perfect relationship with the manager. He said: "If I continue not to play, I will wonder. I want to play for my country so I need to play." Dacourt went on: "I had an excellent relationship with David O'Leary, who signed me. We appreciated each other and talked a lot. Today, the contact is more distant... When I was called into the French squad against Slovenia and Malta, Venables, without any explanation, put me on the bench, then put me in the stands."

December 06: Plenty of injury news to report ahead of the game tomorrow - and it's our opponents who appear to be suffering! Facundo Sava was injured in their midweek defeat by Wigan and is likely to be out for a fortnight. Louis Saha and Barry Hayles are both carrying injuries and Steve Marlet and Alain Goma are both suspended. Beanpole centreback Zat Knight is also an injury worry after coming off at half-time at Wigan. For Leeds we've already seen Michael Bridges and Robbie Fowler continue their comebacks, and Seth Johnson and Paul Okon are also pretty close to a return. However a shoulder injury in the reserve game looks to have accounted for Mark Viduka, a virus infection means that Harry Kewell will probably be sidelined and Lee Bowyer turned an ankle in training so he's also set to miss out.

December 06: Leeds physio Dave Hancock has been a busy man of late - but he still found the time to tell the press that Robbie Fowler's recent injury could have ended his career. The hip injury he sustained in last season's clash with Derby plagued him through the summer and he finally had to have an op just before the season started. Hancock said: "A lot of people don't realise some of these injuries like Robbie Fowler's have been serious injuries, not just your run-of-the-mill soft tissue injuries such as Freddie Ljungberg had at Arsenal." Hancock said that Fowler would need careful handling on his return to first team action, but says it's now down to the player to confirm he feels okay to manage a full game - and the manager to select him. "He's had other complications with his back so for him to get where he has is good. We just keep working and working with him, and it's up to him to keep coming in and keep working with us to keep him on the park."

December 05: Former Leeds striker Joe Jordan is taking Huddersfield to court after he was sacked at the end of the summer along with manager Lou Macari after the Terriers failed to progress beyond the play-offs. Jordan was told he was fired while he was on holiday and isn't at all happy. He's claiming unfair dismissal and breach of contract after he was contacted by a journalist while he was abroad to be asked what he felt about losing his job - before the club had told him that he was out of work. Town chairman David Taylor said that they had attempted to contact him but only reached his answerphone. They claim that Jordan was on a fixed term contract which had reached its end, so there was no question of him being dismissed or made redundant.

December 05: Peter Ridsdale was at the opening of Leeds' new Academy and training facilities at Thorp Arch and said that the players had no excuses for underperforming. "Apart from the fact they are all very well paid individuals, they are all now very well looked after individuals. If any of them are listening back through there on Saturday I would like three points please and let's get back to putting our season together."

December 04: Deputy chairman Allan Leighton says that El Tel will be given a bit more time before the board pull the plug on him. "My view is that you have to do the right thing. Everybody is human, and people know themselves when it is not working out. It is not a decision that you suddenly make one day, and that is it." And he dropped a heavy hint as to where he sees the real blame lying. Referring to some of the crowd chanting for Venables' removal he said: "All the noise makes a difference, but you have to think what the noise is about. If it is about not performing then people have to perform."

December 04: Jacob Burns was the surprise scorer in a Leeds Reserves side featuring Mark Viduka and Robbie Fowler as well as the surprisingly early return of Lucas Radebe. Burns' goal was cancelled out by Matt Turner of West Brom in the fixture at Belle Vue tonight.

December 04: David Batty and his agent have consulted their lawyers about the remarks made by Peter Ridsdale at last week's AGM. They'll be sending a letter to the club requesting clarification of what the chairman said and won't be making any further public comment until they have received a response. Watch this space...

December 04: Shane Cansdell-Sherriff has had his loan period with Rochdale cut short following an injury in their match against Torquay last week. He suffered a knee injury and could need to go under the knife to get it fixed. He had impressed the coach and fans at Spotland and they had been hoping to extend his loan for a further month. Rochdale are a bit short of defensive cover at the moment - but Leeds old boy Richard Jobson is still there and continues to play at the age of 39.

December 04: Lucas Radebe is scheduled to make a surprise early return tonight in the reserve game against West Brom. It was anticipated that he would be out for several months following his injury in Italy in the Hapoel Tel-Aviv away game, but reckons he is ready to start his comeback. TV said: "Lucas Radebe is an amazing person and I feel very proud to be involved with him. This year we've had so many injuries and he has played when he's not been fit. Lucas always gives everything he's got. He's a true champion." Let's hope he's not rushing his comeback too much - he's done that before and has been out for a very long time as a result.

December 04: If anyone is heading off to the Fulham game on Saturday, we're planning to meet up in the Bushranger pub just outside Goldhawk Road tube station at midday to grab a pint and watch the lunchtime game on Sky. We'll be the old fat blokes talking even more nonsense than the rest of the pub. Speaking of beer and footy, a few of us will be heading up to see Carl Shutt's Kettering take on Scarborough at Rockingham Road on Saturday 14th. Shutty's team have been suffering with both injury and financial problems and need all the help they can get, so if you're free why not come along - the ground's easy to find and the beer in the supporters club was excellent when we were last there. Midland Mainline do cheapo train tickets too - 44 quid for 4 people to and from pretty much anywhere on their routes if you book before this Saturday so it won't cost an arm and a leg.

December 03: The Youth Team - captained by James Milner - beat Gillingham 4-0 at Elland Road tonight, thanks mainly to a hat-trick from Aaron Lennon. They will now face Cambridge United in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup away next month.

December 03: Danny Granville was rather harshly sent off for violent conduct tonight after he tried to tackle Oldham's Michael Clegg in the Worthington Cup tie at Selhurst Park. Granville had already made the first goal when he was dismissed in first half injury time, and saw his team-mates extend the lead and hold on to win 2-0.

December 03: Olivier Dacourt resumed full training today, and with Lee Bowyer's injury from the Charlton game looking less serious than was originally feared and with Seth Johnson also on the mend it looks like we might actually be able to field a sensibly balanced midfield - maybe as soon as Saturday's trip to Loftus Road for the Fulham game.

December 03: Jason Wilcox has obviously been taking a degree in the Bleeding Obvious - he said that the results hadn't been good enough so far this season and it was down to the players to change it. "We can play as much pretty football as we want, but if we are not getting results then it is no good, so it is now a case of getting back to basics. We have to get back to working hard and grinding out results."

December 02: Robbie Fowler's house was broken into while the family slept upstairs last month, and the thieves got away with his car. Fowler lives on an exclusive estate in Alwoodley and has spent a lot of money on security measures - but he's now apparently looking to move his family back to Liverpool - for better security!

December 02: The to-ing and fro-ing over Mark Viduka's remarks about Harry Kewell continues. Kewell hit back at Viduka's claims that he never speaks to anybody, saying: "I have never had a problem with Mark and have no idea what he's trying to achieve with his comments. I'm sure his comments will disappoint fans of Leeds and Australia alike." But Viduka said that the press had lifted what he said and twisted his words: "The comments in the interview are taken totally out of context. I have never had any problem with Harry at all... it is totally untrue to say that we have not spoken for two years."

December 02: Paul Hart has been mentioned by some as a possible successor to TV - but he's in no rush to return to Leeds and is yet another top football bloke (John Charles was another at the weekend) who thinks that Venables can sort Leeds out if he is given the time. Hart didn't rule himself completely out of contention, saying: "I'm not able to retire, I've got to keep working. Football is a fickle business, you've always got to keep one eye open - but we're doing pretty well at Nottingham Forest, I'm at a very good club that is making good progress. However, I feel that Terry Venables should be given more of a chance because he is a very good coach and a very good manager."

December 01: El Tel is now 2/1 second favorite to be the next Premiership manager to part company with his club. The only runner ahead of him in the stakes nobody wants to win is Glenn Roeder: a little over a year ago the West Ham boss survived and his opposite number Stuart Gray of Southampton was given the boot after coming off worst in a match between the two teams. Gordon Strachan's Saints go to Upton Park tomorrow night and there's a lot of money on an away win marking the end of Roeder's reign.

December 01: The Sunday night Euro-round-up could be the closest I get to European footy for some time unless we buck our ideas up - so I'd better make the most of it.

A nasty injury to Valencia keeper Canizares after a collision with Alaves' Jordi Cruyff was a bigger worry for the visitors than their failure to secure more than a goalless draw and return to the top of the pile. Real Sociedad showed that they aren't going to give up their lead easily with an excellent 2-1 win over Barca thanks to two goals from Darko Kovacevic after the visitors took the lead on half an hour. Barca had Motta and ex-Arsenal man Overmars sent off to make life a little easier for their hosts. Sociedad now lead La Liga by 3 points after Real Mallorca fought out a tough 2-2 draw with Depor in the Riazor. It was inevitable that Walter Pandiani should score against the side who loaned him out to Mallorca at the start of the season, and so he did - equalising Roy Makaay's opener. Despite being down to 10 men Mallorca took the lead through Eto'o on half-time, but another Makaay strike in the second half squared the game. Real Betis and Celta Vigo both won to close the gap on Valencia and Mallorca, and our UEFA Cup opponents Malaga went down 1-0 at Racing Santander with Josemi and Sanz both dismissed and 4 other players picking up yellow cards.

In Serie A, Internazionale shook off their torpor of recent weeks in style with Christian Vieri bagging all the goals in their 4-0 demolition of Brescia. That puts them equal on points with Milan and Juve who both drew this weekend against mid-table opposition: Milan came from behind to draw 1-1 at Empoli courtesy of Andrei Shevchenko's equaliser, and Juve came back from a 2-0 deficit against Roma to draw 2-2 thanks to del Piero and Nedved in a game that saw three players dismissed in the last 5 minutes (Candela and goalscorer Totti from the home side and Birindelli from Juve). Which means that the surprise new leaders are Lazio - barely able to scrape two euros together to pay their bills and 2-0 down at Piacenza after 25 minutes, they were level at half time through Diego Simeone and Claudio Lopez, and stole all three points and the top spot in the last minute through Bernardo Corradi.

Two goals from Michael Ballack gave Bayern their customary three points at home to Hertha Berlin this weekend and they remain 6 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga. Werder Bremen left it to the last 10 minutes before they scored the two goals that took them away from Stuttgart in a 3-1 win. Borussia Dortmund came back from a third-minute shock at Nurnberg to record two second half goals and they remain 2 points adrift of Bremen. 1860 Munich must have thought they were cruising - 0-4 up with 10 minutes to go at bottom side Energie Cottbus. Sales of heart medicine will no doubt have rocketed in the area after the home side scored three goals in six minutes - but couldn't quite manage the final goal to grab a point. In other shock news, Kaiserslautern actually managed a win - 2-0 at home to Wolfsburg but they remain 5 points adrift of Hannover 96 and the climb to safety.

Champions Lyon are back on top of the pile in France after they came from behind to beat Strasbourg 2-1 at home today. Former leaders Nice crashed 3-0 at Sedan yesterday, but it's tight for the minor places - just 4 points separates third-placed Guingamp from eleventh-placed Lens - but more immediately Guingamp had the right end of a 1-3 win at Lens to position themselves at the front of the pack. Rennes are still bottom - but won't be for long if they can reproduce the form they showed yesterday in a 5-1 win over Lille - Piquionne chipping in with a hat-trick.

Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord maintained station at the top of the Eredivisie with each recording a 2-1 home win over Twente Enschede, Utrecht and Willem II respectively. Heerenveen would have been hoping for more than a draw at second-bottom Groningen, but at least that point takes them a little bit further away from danger.

A genuine(ish) shock in the Jupiler League this weekend as leaders Club Brugge went down 5-2 at third-placed St Truidense. Lokeren took their chance to close the gap at the top to 4 points with a 4-0 win over Mons courtesy of a Beule hat-trick. Brugge still have a game in hand and face Lokeren midweek in a game the visitors need to win to keep their real hopes of the title alive.

Show over let's go home in Switzerland: Grasshoppers won 1-2 at Basle to give them a 4-point lead at the top of the table. FC Thun skipped over FC Wil 1900 with a 3-0 win that puts them level on points but one goal to the good on their visitors: since Thun go to bottom side Aarau next week while Wil go to Basle, third place looks to be settled barring a major upset.

Finally, Hapoel Tel-Aviv continued their good form with a 3-1 home win over Maccabi Tel-Aviv.

December 01: A bad day for Leeds - and a bad day for Leeds old boy Alan Maybury today. He received his marching orders for two yellow cards as Hearts got hammered 4-0 by Rangers, although his boss Craig Levein thought it was a very harsh decision and won't be fining the player, and Levein's opposite number Alex McLeish admitted that Neil McCann - the Rangers player whose entanglement with Maybury led to each receiving a yellow - was lucky not be dismissed as well.

December 01: El Tel refused to discuss his future when questioned after today's defeat. He was understandably unhappy with the result but had no complaints about the backing that both he and the team had received from the fans. "I feel like we have been mugged. The players have done well and the crowd were fantastic. They got behind the players and it showed because they played with confidence and some good football." And looking forward, there's Fulham next week to focus the team's efforts on: "It leaves us with another game at the weekend. That's the only thing that matters. It's a very disappointing result."

December 01: Another up and down afternoon today, with a fairly nondescript game nearly ending up all square. Leeds shaded the first half and just about deserved the half-time lead from a cracking Harry Kewell shot three minutes before the interval. In the second half, things were a bit closer, but Leeds failed to extend the lead and when Charlton turned a Leeds attack into their own break, there weren't too many complaints when the ball broke to Kevin Lisbie to equalise with just 10 minutes to go. On the positive side, the fans had been behind the team and the manager throughout the game, and El Tel showed some commitment to getting the result by making a double substitution straight away - Michael Bridges and Robbie Fowler coming on for McPhail and Lee Bowyer, who had taken a bit of a knock. With 2 minutes to go Bridges rattled the woodwork and saw a cross unmet and Fowler headed over from just 6 yards out, but the goal never came and Leeds were knocked over for the ninth time in the league this season when Scott Parker ran through three tackles and half the length of the field to grab an injury-time winner for the visitors. Leeds are three points away from a relegation place and the management team face a very worrying run up to Christmas.

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