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Leeds United News from The Sporting Life    Yorkshire Evening Post

January 31: Sneaking in under the transfer deadline wire we find that we've actually managed to entice someone to Elland Road. Admittedly it is just a loan signing to the end of the season, but maybe Raul Bravo of Real Madrid might just help us sort out the problematic left back slot and give us some balance and solidity in defence to enable us to put together a stable platform for a late challenge for a Euro place. Raul Bravo hasn't exactly been a regular for Madrid, but seems to be a decent prospect and has been learning at the feet of a real master - Roberto Carlos. He won't be available for the cup replay against Gillingham so we could see him make his debut against West Ham on Saturday week. Madrid have made it clear that there is no option to buy the player - there's a sell-on clause of £16 million in his contract (no doubt a relic from better years) and they're expecting him back at the Bernabeu at the end of June.

January 31: Newcastle unveiled their surprise new signing - Jon Woodgate - at a press conference at 1600 today. He might even be fit for their game against Arsenal next week - and will almost certainly be ready in time for Newcastle's visit to Elland Road in three weeks time. Good luck Woody - you've been brilliant for us on the pitch and deserve our best wishes. Let's hope that Bobby Robson manages to impart a bit of maturity and wisdom to add to your undoubted skills on the park.

January 31: El Tel came into this lunchtime's news conference with a dark and angry expression on his face following his pre-conference chat with Peter Ridsdale. But he gave us all some hope - for the short term at least. "I think it's fair to say I am leaning towards staying," he said. "The more I think about, it would be irresponsible to do anything other than stay. That's the way I feel. Coming here this morning I was full of mixed emotions, but the more I think about it, the more my mind is beginning to be made up." He reckons he owes it to the remaining players - and the fans - to keep on going. He reiterated his surprise at the sale of Jon Woodgate once Robbie Fowler's transfer deal had gone through, and referring to the chairman and the undertakings he had made said: "We are both being tested. Peter has had to do a job on one side and me on the other both looking out for the same ends - the good of the club." Venables has gone from being a hate figure among the fans to one who is viewed with deep sympathy and support for the mess he has inherited and for the way he is seen to have been screwed by the board in the same way that they are screwing the fans. I hope he stays at least until the end of the season: his experience might just be enough to squeeze us into an InterToto place or even a UEFA spot (okay, I've had a bottle of wine and my optimism pills tonight) but most importantly he has the personality, tactical knowledge and man management skills to pick the current squad off the floor and recreate a winning team from the players whose morale and confidence has been shattered by the board's incompetence. He wasn't my first choice in the summer and I still disagree with some of the things he's done, but for now the manager needs all of our support as he tries to get us back on the road to recovery.

January 31: At today's lunchtime press conference, Peter Ridsdale more or less said "back me or sack me". He read from an open letter to the fans and attempted to explain the current situation: "The lack of Champions League football meant a loss of income to this club of approximately £30m. It is acknowledged the transfer system has imploded." And he went on: "Jonathan Woodgate is a player we didn't want to sell. As a supporter I didn't want to take the offer, the manager didn't want Jonathan to go and he made that absolutely clear to me." His key point - and the one that I take the most issue with is this: "If the Leeds supporters believe that this wouldn't have happened had I not been here, then they need to think again. This decision was right for Leeds United. If I have to consider my future as a result of that, then so be it." The point is Peter that not so much that any other chairman would have had to have made the same decision: we don't dispute that given the circumstances the club finds itself in. What we need to examine is why the club found itself in this precarious position in the first place and the real question is "Would we have been in the same position if someone else had been making the decisions?" Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I think it's blindingly clear that Ridsdale is now trying to do what his erstwhile best mate O'Leary did when things turned sour and blame everyone bar himself. It was YOUR responsibility Peter and YOU - and your board colleagues - are the ones who should be holding their hands up right now and taking the whacks you are due, up to and including the sack. Have the good grace to admit your past failures and go with our thanks for the good times - or stay on and face a long and rancorous battle with the fans and press who will despise you for your failure to face up to your mistakes.

Ridsdale even - sort-of - admits that he lied to the manager. "When I gave Terry the assurance that Jonathan would not be sold, it was in the belief and hopeful knowledge that we wouldn't have to sell another player. If Terry feels I let him down, he is fair to feel that. If he feels he was misled he may be right, but not deliberately so." So you're so in control of the business you don't know whether or not we need to sell a prized asset to stay operating? Where is Max Clifford when you need him to tell you to stop opening your mouth merely to change feet?

His final insult was to belittle the fans without whom the club would be nothing. He pointed out the value of the bid was over half the market capitalisation of the club - and more than the club received in season ticket sales and more or less asked what right we had to complain about Woody's sale. Well why not go the whole hog and sell all the players, build a new supermarket on the ground (I'm sure Mr Leighton will be able to put you in touch with some interested developers) and wind the company up with one final dividend to the shareholders - who can then go home and stuff their cash in the mattress and hope they will get a better return? Ridsdale's contempt for the average fan seems to be showing through his old chummy facade now and he's clearly in thrall to the money men and has neither the intention nor desire to represent the fans' interests, or indeed remind the shareholders that the future goes beyond the next dividend payment. Resign now or face the bitterest battle of your life.

January 30: SACK THE BOARD! That's the obvious knee-jerk response to what we're seeing at the moment. But is it the right one?

Certainly the Director of Media should go for a start. David Walker presided over the fiasco of O'Leary's book (that was just 13 months ago remember!) and has been responsible for the screwed-up communications strategy that left the previous manager slagging off his own players in the press and the boardroom and dressing room leaking like a colander.

The financial director clearly has to take some blame here - if the numbers don't add up then somebody has to carry the can. The auditors? Well, this is hardly Enron but whoever took a look at our accounts over the last two years needs to be fired and drummed out of the accountancy profession (it's not as if there's a shortage after all, so if they lost someone who can't add up that's probably a good thing).

Allan Leighton? He's not been in place for quite as long as Peter Ridsdale - he joined the board as deputy chairman in early 2001. But quite how he manages to fit in any time for Leeds when he's simultaneously slashing jobs and reorganising the Post Office/Consignia/Royal Mail/MegaPostCorpInc and also has time to team up with one of his retail buddies to put together a multi-billion pound bid for Safeway is not clear. If he's a non-exec - as is new recruit from Microsoft Neil Holloway - then that shouldn't be a problem, but Leighton does seem to have had more than a little finger in many of the more recent decisions and was certainly around when the acquisitions of Robbie Fowler and Seth Johnson were sanctioned. And if he's a non-exec, what does that say about his powers of observation - or the effectiveness of his oversight of the operational decisions - that things seem to have deteriorated so far while he's been around? Sorry Allan, but if the stables are being cleaned I think it's best that you took a walk too and made way for someone with a bit more time to devote to Leeds United.

And Peter Ridsdale? This I guess is the toughest call to make. Ridsdale put himself across as a man of the people, a fan - one of "us". He ingratiated himself at the time of George Graham's departure when Leeds were being sinned against, coming into the away fans end in Madeira and setting the record straight. The way he handled himself in the aftermath of the murders in Istanbul was nothing short of exemplary. Until recently he's always been open with the fans and has made a point of answering sensible questions when he gets recognised by random Leeds fans in the street. But ultimately he's the top man and he must carry the can for a business strategy that could only have succeeded in the most optimistic case possible. It was on his watch that we adopted a plan that relied on us being in the Champions League - not even the UEFA Cup would do - if we were to remain financially viable. And he went from sensibly backing his manager's judgement to handing an open chequebook to David O'Leary and not knowing when to say "enough". Sure, DOL should take some of the blame, but if he says "I want X and I think Y is a fair price" and the chairman agrees he can fund it, it's not the manager's job to do cashflow projections and figure out when the crunch will come. Maybe he's now doing what he sees to be his duty - to clear the decks and restore some stability to the club before stepping down and enabling a successor to take up the reins with a clean slate and able to plan for a bright future without having to get through a terrible present. And if that's the case, then I think we have to respect him for it and support him while he attempts to undo some of the mess that he is responsible for.

Leeds United needs a business leader who understands that the long-term interests of the fans is the same as the long-term interests of the shareholder. Success for the club on the pitch will bring in the rewards on the balance sheet and in the dividends. But fans and shareholders need to understand that both sides must take the occasional bit of pain if the club is to prosper in the long-term. Like it or not, we won't be able to always hang on to our best players - and if we're selling them to Real Madrid and Inter Milan rather than Newcastle and Spurs then the fans must accept that. Similarly shareholders must understand that we can't make a profit every single year - and that just about every corporation on the FTSE-100 carries medium and long-term debts taken on to finance the development of the business, so you can't take a totally simplistic view of the balance sheet and scream whenever you see a splash of red. But for this to have any chance of succeeding, you need someone at the helm who has the confidence of all the stakeholders of the club: investors, supporters and workers - both on the playing and commercial sides. And I'm afraid that at Elland Road, Peter Ridsdale is no longer that man.

On Saturday I'll be at Everton, and I'll be up at Elland Road next Tuesday. And although I'll probably be voicing my opinions at varying volumes before and after the game, for the 180 minutes that the ball is in play, the only noise I'll be making will be in singing for the team and I'd urge everyone else to do the same. We're Leeds and we're proud of it - let's not forget it. Jabba.

January 30: After Peter Ridsdale spent a long time talking to the manager at Thorpe Arch, the club insisted that there was no way that Terry Venables would be leaving the club. They then further stretch our credulity by saying: "There has been no suggestion from Terry that he is preparing to resign from his position. Indeed, he spent Thursday afternoon preparing for Saturday's game against Everton." Well we don't believe you. You've consistently lied to the fans and we have no reason to think that you've stopped. There will be a press conference tomorrow morning at which the chairman and manager will make the club's position clear - apparently these sales have put the club on such an even keel that we might even be able to buy someone in the summer. Ridsdale said: "I know how the fans are feeling but I'm paid to look after the shareholders and the financial side of the club - which I'm doing to the best of my ability. [The board] are charged with making the right decisions - it's easy when it's good times but it's not easy when it's bad times." As for El Tel - well earlier in the season I said he should be given time to get things right and that he had a tough job on - what do we think now? There's a vacancy at the Nou Camp after van Gaal finally caught the bullet on Monday, and although Barca already have a caretaker in place, the prospect of a few months in a warmer climate with a team in the Champions League must seem a much nicer prospect than grinding out the last few months of the season at Elland Road.

January 30: If we can get past Gillingham in the cup replay next week, we'll be playing live on Sky with a 1300 kick-off on Sunday 16 February at Anfield or Selhurst Park. The other televised games will be Man U/Arsenal (surprise surprise), Stoke/Chelsea and Wolves/Rochdale.

January 30: After a morning full of rumours, it was finally confirmed in the middle of the afternoon that Leeds had in fact accepted a bid for Jon Woodgate of about £9 million and that it was now down to the player to agree terms with Newcastle United. Angry fans at Elland Road hung a "For Sale" sign around the neck of the statue of Billy Bremner and you can expect a massive protest at Everton on Saturday and - if anyone actually turns up - for the FA Cup replay against Gillingham next Tuesday night.

January 30: Robbie Fowler signed on the dotted line for Manchester City this morning. He said that Kevin Keegan's personal efforts to talk him round had finally won him over to the move he rejected last week. "It was a big decision to make. I didn't want to be seen to be a player who moved from club to club. But with the situation at Leeds they needed to sell. Kevin Keegan came back in for me and that proved how much he wanted me."

January 30: Harry Kewell, Mark Viduka and Paul Okon were all named in Frank Farina's squad to face England at Upton Park next month. Farina is hoping that England will pick a strong squad for the game - the first meeting between the two countries for 10 years. He added: "I am due to ring Eriksson about the substitutions. Our line is to treat it like any other international, and we won't be making a big number of substitutions."

January 30: A board meeting this morning will - hopefully - reject a derisory bid of £8 million - plus a further £1 million to come depending on Newcastle's European success (so no chance of that then) for Jon Woodgate. The bid falls at least £3 million short of what Leeds believe to be fair value for the best English centre half in the country, but the way they've been acting of late ` I'd not be surprised if they persuaded Newcastle to take him off our hands for £5 million and present it as a triumph to the fans.

January 29: According to Robbie Fowler's agent George Scott, Fowler will become a Manchester City player in the morning. As has been the case in most recent transfer deals, we seem to be getting a worse deal now than was on offer a week or so ago with just £3 million up front and up to £3 million more depending on appearances. Well, if that sale means we don't have to sell anyone else then I suppose we should be grateful - but how many more players will need to be shown the door in the summer? However, uninformed rumour continues to suggest that Newcastle's move for Jon Woodgate might yet succeed: cue massive protests at the West Ham game (and a good few "sack the board" chants at Everton) if he's not a Leeds player in February.

January 29: Mark Viduka will appeal against the red card he received for clashing with Gillingham's Andy Hessenthaler on Saturday. Maybe now that everybody's had a chance to see the video and interpret the lack of movement in Viduka's arm - and Hessenthaler's glance at the referee before reacting to the "pain" - then we can see the red card rescinded and his possible ban lifted. Like that's going to happen for a Leeds player!

January 29: Leeds have been linked with a move for Celtic's Colin Healy for around £350,000. The Cork-born midfielder was a fixture in Ireland's U-21 side and was almost called in to the World Cup squad as a replacement for Roy Keane, but hasn't featured much at Parkhead over the last two seasons. He spent the back end of last season on loan at Coventry, scoring 2 goals in 17 league appearances. He's close to the end of his contract at Celtic - hence the relatively low price - and at 23 could be a useful investment for the future.

January 29: Leeds Ladies' rescheduled cup game against Aston Villa has been switched to Altofts after the original tie at Garforth was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch and the new date of next Sunday didn't look like being much drier.

January 28: An average performance from the best available team for El Tel tonight. We didn't deserve to win - but should have held on to a 2-1 lead when we had it. We could have conceded more and it's not insignificant that all three goals came through the left back channel where we were woeful. Middle of the park also appeared to have been vacated by all Leeds players too - don't anyone tell me that Bakke or Okon played well tonight cos they didn't: there was a massive hole in front of the defence and nobody to fill it. Smithy and Wilcox had to play too deep and Mills at CB takes away a big attacking option. BUT a defeat to a good Chelsea side at Stamford Bridge is nowt to be ashamed of. Gudjohnsen's goal was superbly taken and Zola bossed the midfield and put in an effort that put the Leeds boys to shame. Everton on Satdi? Can't say I can see us taking three points on this form.

January 28: The news in brief: Fowler is - or is not - going to Man City. Rumours circulated today that the deal was back on, were then denied by his agent and subsequently turned into the belief that he will make his mind up one way or the other tomorrow - hence his absence for extra "training" tonight. Shame - we could have used a spare striker.

January 27: I'm always dumping my views and thoughts on the world on the rest of you - why not listen to someone else for a change? Read what Bucky has to say here - and if you've got something you want to tell a few thousand Leeds fans out there then why not drop me a line.

January 27: It seems that Danny Milosevic broke his wrist on Saturday and will be out for some weeks, forcing Dario Gradi to attempt to pick up another keeper as soon as possible. Another goalkeeping injury at the weekend could be a bit more positive - for a Leeds player at any rate. Chris Kirkland has ligament damage that is likely to keep him out for the rest of the season so Paul Robinson must fancy his chances of getting at least a half against Australia at Upton Park next month.

January 27: JFH will miss tomorrow night's game against Chelsea with the ankle injury he picked up against ManU. Marcel Desailly is back after a ban but Enrique de Lucas and Mario Stanic both miss out with injuries. Danny Mills is available after his ban and Seth Johnson is in the squad following his aborted move to Boro - but Jon Woodgate's thigh injury continues to keep him on the sidelines and Lucas Radebe tweaked a knee at the Priestfield and is doubtful.

January 27: If Leeds get past Gillingham in next week's replay we'll be travelling to Anfield - or Selhurst Park - in the next round of the FA Cup. The last time we faced Palace it took a replay at Elland Road and a goal from Rod Wallace to take Leeds through after a 2-2 draw away from home in round 3 in 1997 although we did beat them 8-1 in 1930. The only time we've ever beaten Liverpool in the cup we went on to win it in 1972 when Allan Clarke scored twice in a 2-0 win in round 4. Leeds were a bit unlucky losing 0-2 at home to the Reds in 2001, but the last meeting at Anfield in the cup was a massive disappointment to those of us who saw it - a 3-0 defeat and an all-round poor performance putting Leeds out in a 6th round replay in 1996./p>

January 27: The Seth Johnson deal is definitely off - for now - after Boro's medical advisers were not convinced that he has been able to shake off the injury. Steve McLaren hinted that Boro might try to revive the deal in the future but it seems unlikely he'll move before the deadline.

January 27: Terry Venables is trying to keep his head down and get on with the job - but it's not easy. "My job is to look after the football team and do whatever I can to make things work on the pitch. Sometimes decisions go above your head where, in the past, they did not used to. However, in a plc I am just an employee. The finances have to be satisfied but there is little doubt that the team is suffering for it." And as has been widely circulated, things are clearly not "as advertised" at Elland Road: "There was a figure mentioned when I took the job that we would need to save in transfers but it has changed." But he did go on to say that Peter Ridsdale is doing what he can for the manager: "The chairman has told me that he is doing everything that he can to try and keep Jonathan and I have to believe him."

January 26: It's Sunday night so it's Euro Round-up time. And let's start in Spain where Barca president Joan Gaspart must be considering picking up the phone to Peter Ridsdale for advice. Two second-half goals gave Celta Vigo all of the spoils at home to van Gaal's side, which now sits just 3 points off the relegation zone. After last week's home defeat to Valencia, there was a near riot at the Nou Camp and despite their attempts to stand firm, both van Gaal and Gaspart might find themselves replaced before the club resumes its massively successful Champions League campaign. Elsewhere Real Sociedad extended their lead at the top when Darko Kovacevic put them 1-2 in front at Atletico Madrid yesterday and they now have a 5 point lead on Real Madrid, who could only draw 1-1 at Bilbao today after Ronaldo put them a goal up just before the hour mark. Pablo Aimar's first half goal against Sevilla in the Mestalla was the only one of the game, and that win closes Valencia's deficit on Madrid to just 3 points. Roy Makaay put Deportivo in front after just three minutes at Espanyol, but barely 20 minutes later they were 3-1 down and that's how it stayed, allowing Real Betis to climb above them and into 4th place courtesy of a brace from Denilson in a 2-1 win over Villareal. Kiki Musampa scored the only goal of the game for Malaga against Mallorca to move them into 9th place - but the middle of the table is massively congested with just three points separating 8th from 16th.

Last week it was Inter suffering a shock defeat, this week leaders Milan fell 1-0 to Udinese, despite the hosts being reduced to 10 men at the start of the second half. Inter bounced back - or at least Christian Vieri did, scoring a hat-trick in 15 second-half minutes at home to Empoli and restoring parity with their city rivals at the top of the pile. Lazio blew their chance to join the Milan clubs at the top as they went down 0-1 at home to Reggina. It was a fairly sombre weekend in Serie A following the death this week of Fiat/Ferrari/Juve owner Gianni Agnelli with a one-minute silence observed in all games and muted celebrations from the players when Alessandro del Piero and Pavel Nedved scored the goals that beat Piacenza 2-0 in the Stade delle Alpi. Olivier Dacourt must be wishing he'd never left Leeds as he saw two goals in the last ten minutes give bottom side Como a 2-0 win that leaves Roma in the bottom half of the table and well and truly off the pace for European qualification next season.

The Bundesliga got underway after its winter break and wasted no time in getting to business-as-usual when Owen Hargreaves opened the scoring for Bayern, who went on to beat Borussia Moenchengladbach 3-0 while second-placed Dortmund conceded a last minute goal to Marcelino, allowing Hertha Berlin a 2-1 victory, slip 9 points behind leaders Bayern and see Werder Bremen overtake them when they shared 4 goals equally with Arminia Bielefeld.

In France there was another round of midweek games, with the final outcome seeing Lyons, Nice and Marseille equal on 39 points at the top of the table and Auxerre and Monaco trailing by 2 and 3 points respectively, while our former UEFA Cup opponents from Troyes see themselves adrift at the bottom. Lyon had a convincing 4-1 win over Sochaux, Auxerre and Marseille played out a goalless draw as did Nice and PSG. In the cup this weekend things went more or less to plan, although Laval beat top flight Le Havre 2-1 and the biggest tie of the series saw PSG run out 2-1 winners at home to Marseille, but not before extra time and not without a red card apiece.

Club Brugge slipped up at the top of the Jupiler League when they let Beveren score twice in the last 5 minutes. Unfortunately for their hosts, the leaders had already scored 6 before the home side scored - and managed another one between their pair, so a 2-7 win didn't upset the position at the top too much. St-Truidense strolled to a 1-3 win at lowly Lommel, but Anderlecht left it to the last minute before scoring the second goal of the game to kill off bottom side KV Mechelen 0-2. 4th-placed Lierse stayed level on points with St-Truidense and Anderlecht thanks to a second-half hat-trick from Wilde in a 0-3 win at La Louviere.

January 26: Danny Milosevic's incredible run of bad luck continued yesterday when he had to be replaced after 50 minutes with an injury as Crewe won 1-3 at Oldham.

January 26: The manager is not at all happy about the way transfers are being arranged without his knowledge - but he stressed there was no split with the board. He said: "I am trying not to be confrontational. Peter knows fair and square where I stand on the issue of selling Jonathan Woodgate or any first-team players, and I can do no more than say what I think." He pointed out that he is supposed to be the main man when it comes to transfers - although he acknowledges that a degree of pragmatism is needed. "In my contract it says I am meant to have the last word on buying and selling but it wouldn't be a very sensible situation if my stubbornness let the club go bust." He also played down the impression he'd left after Friday's press conference that he would leave if Woodgate was sold. It's understood that the board aren't happy with the way he is portraying the situation, with strong hints that Venables will be called in to remind him of his status as an employee and of everyone's responsibility to the shareholders first and foremost.

January 26: Leeds announced that they have sold off the travel arm of the operation to a London-based company for a nominal sum. They made a loss of £200,000 last year - although their inability to organise a trip to the Ukraine and the fact that most of their trips to matches in mainland Europe tended to be priced at almost exactly twice what a flight on Easyjet and two nights in a decent hotel could be obtained for might just give some clue as to why they haven't managed to ramp up their client base and turn in a profit. The company also provide travel services for several business clients, and none of the five positions in the Leeds office are thought to be at risk.

January 25: Leeds boys in action today included offloaded reserve striker Craig Farrell bagging the first and last of Carlisle's three unanswered goals at home to Leyton Orient, and Andy Gray equalised from Bradford as they came from behind to win 1-2 at Grimsby. Meanwhile, former Leeds keeper Neil Edwards pulled off several tremendous saves - including one from Gary McAllister - to give Rochdale a surprise 2-0 win over Cov.

January 25: Boro are still hopeful of signing Seth Johnson - despite the problems shown up by his medical. Steve McLaren said that things will be clearer by Monday - though whether that means they'll know if they need to fall back on Johnson after getting knocked back over his former Derby team-mates Malcolm Christie and Chris Riggott is questionable.

January 25: Neale Barry has defended his decision to give Mark Viduka a straight red card this afternoon. "I was in a very good position and Mark came in with a very high arm and in my opinion it was an act of violent conduct. It was extremely dangerous. I was very confident from two to three yards away that I was in the perfect position to make the decision."

January 25: So, a 1-1 draw away from home is all we can manage against lower division opposition these days is it? We'd have been better off drafting in noted Leeds fans Colin Montgomerie to the squad to give us a chance of negotiating the bunkers and sand traps on the pitch today, but even then the fact that we made so few chances was bound to count against us in the end. Harry Kewell wasted a dream chance with just a prone keeper to beat and Viduka's stupid elbow on player-manager Andy Hessenthaler was bound to lead to a red from Neale Barry who - remember - thinks that Leeds were responsible for the "most evil" game he's ever reffed. Well Mr Barry, you were probably right about the red card decision - but what about the times that Smithy was pulled back by the shirt and arm (automatic yellow) or Hessenthaler's dive just outside the box (automatic yellow for gamesmanship/feigning injury)? And why was Vidooks looking for Hessenthaler? Maybe because of an equally bad challenge by the Gills' boss on him just moments earlier which Mr Barry's blinkers prevented him from seeing. And while we're on "looking", it was interesting to watch the replay and see how the mortally wounded Hessenthaler had the time and presence of mind to look up from the floor to see what was going on before realising just how much pain he was supposed to be in and clutching his head in "agony". We should have made enough chances to render the incompetence of the ref inconsequential to the result. We didn't - and Gillingham deserved a draw on the overall balance of play - so we're back for a replay at Elland Road (no doubt the board will be happy about that) but don't expect many more than 20,000 there to see it (less if they price it at more than £15 a head).

January 25: There was a board meeting in London this morning which we understand has sanctioned the sale of Jon Woodgate to Newcastle for an initial payment of £7 million with more to follow depending on appearances and success. Newcastle will now be able to talk to Woody and discuss personal terms - IF the player wants to move. We'd hope he'd reward the club and fans for the loyalty he's been shown over the last 3 years, but with the club in almost total disarray it would be understandable if he decided his future lies with a club that isn't run by YoYo Finances Inc. Meanwhile, one of the key things the board need to consider is what will happen to the manager if this transfer goes ahead: El Tel has made it clear that he has not been consulted about this and can't be expected to continue in charge if he has no control over the comings and goings at the club.

January 25: Unnoticed among all of last week's transfer hoo-ha was the move of former Leeds striker Jamie Forrester from Northampton to Hull on a free/nominal.

January 25: Protest? What protest? At Priestfield Stadium today there were a few dozen bits of red paper with very small printing on it and a banner that nobody could see because we were all stood in front of it. Which is not to say there's nowt to protest against. The board owe it to the fans to let us know just what is going on: there's no pretence about being in a position of strength and selling at the top of the market as we managed to do with Rio - this is a fire sale and the world knows we're in trouble, and the fans deserve some sort of consideration and information on just what the club needs to do to stay in business.

January 24: Very late-breaking news suggests that Seth Johnson might not have come through his medical at Boro with flying colours as earlier stories indicated. Detailed tests and scans have shown that his knee injury has still not cleared up, and that - backed by the fact that he's barely managed two games in a row for Leeds in over a year at the club - could scupper the deal. And if we don't sell Seth, we might just need to sell someone else...

January 24: Dom Matteo is hoping that the fans will have something to smile about tomorrow and said that the team are concentrating on the matches and trying to ignore what is happening off the pitch. "As far as we're concerned it's been business as normal and we've worked hard this week," he said. "We've got to go out and win the battle - it will be a tight ground and teams love to play against big players. They will have been talking about all week, but so have we and we're fired up." With Danny Mills suspended and Seth Johnson a dotted i and a crossed t away from being a Boro player, it looks like we'll see the same starting line-up that drew with the Baggies last week. It will be interesting to see who fills the two bench slots - the obvious choice of Michael Duberry and Stephen McPhail (subject to injury) or Ian Harte might just be tweaked to allow Jamie McMaster or Harpal Singh the chance of a day out with the first team even if they don't make it onto the pitch.

January 24: There's a banner protest planned for the game at Gillingham tomorrow - asking our suddenly-shy chairman to step forward and let us know just what is going on at the club. Whether it will have much support is open to question - provided it's not during the match and doesn't make it look like we're not behind the team then it might have some backing, but the 1200 of us going down there will be the usual bunch of dedicated and long suffering fans who have seen managers and chairmen come and go but still follow Leeds United with pride and passion.

January 24: El Tel is "considering his future" at Leeds as the furore over player sales rumbles on. He said he was "seriously unhappy" and "beside himself with anger" over the possibility of Jon Woodgate going to Newcastle. "I'm obviously responsible for the comings and goings at the club but that has been overruled in certain situations because the club feel it has to be." And he went on: "There comes a time when you become so frustrated, but what do you do? Do you say 'ignore it and go on', or do you do something about it? There's no timetable on that - you decide when you feel that the time is right to have a sit down and a team talk with yourself."

January 24: Ian Harte is uncertain about his future at the club. "I've been to see the manager three times but he just won't tell me why I am no longer part of things." He went on: "Every time I go to see Mr Venables we have a good chat - he says he likes the way I play and my passing and then I don't get picked. I'm prepared to do anything he wants to get back in the side, but he won't say what I'm doing wrong. I don't know whether he fancies me or not." And as for the future: "I need the club to tell me so that I can make some plans. I have three-and-a-half years left on my contract and could run around in the reserves picking up the money, yet that's not my style."

January 23: Newcastle's bid for Kleberson has apparently undervalued the Brazilian star and Atletico Paranense are said to be unmoved by the bid from the Magpies.

January 23: Frazer Richardson is waiting to hear whether or not he can play for Stoke at the weekend. He's on loan in the Potteries and will have to wait until Saturday afternoon before he knows if he can play against Bournemouth in the FA Cup: if Leeds have beaten Gillingham then El Tel is likely to keep the ban on Richardson in place to avoid him being cup-tied for subsequent rounds.

January 23: The Youth team will face Blackburn in the 5th round of the FA Youth Cup at Elland Road on 11 February with a 1900 KO. In the previous two rounds, Rovers have scored 11 and conceded just 1 against Blackpool and Exeter.

January 23: Leeds' game at Old Trafford will now take place at 2000 on Wednesday March 5 after Man U made it to the Worthington Cup Final. It hasn't yet been decided if the game will still be on Sky.

January 22: Man U's 1-3 win at Ewood Park tonight takes them to the final of the Worthington Cup - and shifts the date of our visit to Old Trafford to some as yet undetermined midweek slot since we were due there on March 1 - the day before the final in Cardiff.

January 22: Brian Kidd has been confirmed as Sven's coaching assistant for the national side. He'll be taking the role on part-time - and let's hope that he knows where his priorities lie should any conflict arise. Sven said: "He already has international experience and that made him an ideal candidate. Secondly, he knows more than half of the players in the squad and is very popular among the players. Naturally, we had some other names to consider but, talking to a lot of people, including some of the players, and listening to what they had to say, he became the obvious choice and I am very happy about that." Brian Kidd, as everyone "knows" is the real architect of Leeds' downfall - it will be interesting to see what impact his arrival has on the national side.

January 22: Lucas Radebe was doing his best fence-mending act today, saying how nice it was that Robbie Fowler would now be staying at Leeds. "It's nice to see him back because we never wanted Robbie to leave. It was good to see him come on against West Brom and get a part of the game." He went on: "He adds some real firepower up front and he's a skilful player. He gives us an attacking option and we need to keep hold of players like that." But presumably we can let players like Woody and Seth go at will...

January 22: Matthew Upson has gone to Brum after all - he admitted that Leeds had come in for him, so make whatever conclusions you want from that. Brum will pay around £1 million initially, rising to as much as £3 million depending on the usual set of unlikely circumstances arising (i.e. Brum actually winning something). Meanwhile, El Tel claimed that he was totally in the dark over any move to sell Jon Woodgate. He said: "I knew nothing of this approach over Woodgate. I am beside myself with anger. I would be seriously unhappy if he goes and would do anything and more to keep him." Meanwhile Seth Johnson's talks with Boro continue but we have apparently put a genuine and official bid in for Gabriel Milito (which probably means we've accepted we're not getting Kleberson.

January 21: The reserves played out a goalless draw with Boro at Belle Vue tonight, with Robbie Fowler's "quest for fitness" giving him 75 minutes on the pitch but no great return. Stephen McPhail was subbed in the first half after taking a knock on his knee. Ian Harte and Michael Duberry also played the whole game - if the sales continue at the present rate we'll need both in the defence by the time we arrive at the Priestfield on Saturday!

January 21: Leeds have said that they'll have no problems with Brian Kidd taking on a part-time role within the England set-up if - as is expected - the FA approach him and confirm that he's their first choice this week.

January 21: Newcastle were strongly rumoured to be on the point of buying Woody this afternoon - but Leeds insisted: "We have not allowed Newcastle United permission to speak to Jonathan Woodgate because the clubs have not agreed a deal." So that's it then: not "He's not for sale," just "We've not agreed a deal." Well, we sold the second best centreback in the country for £30 million 6 months ago - even allowing for the fall in the transfer market, the best one must be worth more than the £10 million Newcastle are reported to have offered. Woody's move would explain the problems Brum are having in signing Arsenal's Matthew Upson: Upson had been due to be unveiled at the weekend but his move is now in doubt and Leeds are in the frame to buy him for around £1.5 million. Could Newcastle offer us anything else? Well, they are also the only other serious players in the race to sign Kleberson at the moment, so maybe they'll step back from that if they get Woody. But if we sell him, then all bets are off: Alan Smith, Paul Robinson, Harry Kewell and Danny Mills can't be regarded as unbuyable and our expectations must be adjusted seriously downwards for the foreseeable future.

January 21: Seth Johnson could be on the point of resurrecting his connection with Steve McLaren. They were together at Derby, and Johnson was pulled out of tonight's reserve game to travel up to the Riverside with his agent for discussions on a four and a half year deal that will add £4 million to Leeds' coffers.

January 20: There's still quite a bit of uncertainty surrounding the club's financial position - and the manager is starting to worry that it's impacting his ability to build for the future, not knowing who will be around next season (or even next month). He said: "This season we have been letting quality players leave the club. It's a position created by a market that saw both transfer fees and wages greatly inflated and there is no doubt that, over the next couple of years, we have to bring down the wage bill. But it is as unwise to sell without caution as it is to buy without caution and the best players obviously will cost more, so we have to decide what our ambitions are." He went on: "We must work within our means. We don't want to gamble money on the hope of getting back into the Champions League [so that's one policy changed - Ed] if it means being up against it should we miss out. We need to know we can afford what we are spending and that it is sustainable." And he added a final reminder - not that we need it: "We may have to accept that we may not achieve Champions League football every season, but then this club knows better than most that even spending big money doesn't guarantee you that place." At the moment, I'd take a UEFA place, never mind the CL - but even that could be beyond us unless we start beating the bottom clubs at home.

January 20: Danny Milosevic has moved to Crewe on a month's loan after both of their first choice keepers - were ruled out through injury. This must mean that any chance of a move by Nigel Martyn is now out of the question at least until the summer. Let's hope that Danny has more luck at Crewe than in his previous two injury-ridden loan moves.

January 19: Old boys in action this weekend sees Dylan Kerr - aka "A Trialist" scoring twice for East Stirlingshire in their 3-4 win at Queens Park - his first after beating two defenders and lobbing the keeper and the second a 20-yard screamer from a free kick. Andy Gray netted for Bradford yesterday with a second half penalty at Rotherham - but it wasn't enough and the Millers ran out 3-2 winners.

January 19: Round Europe in a dash. Barca coach Louis van Gaal says that he doesn't want to sign JFH after all. He will cling on to his post despite yet another defeat this weekend. Valencia came to the Nou Camp and left with all three points and a 2-4 win despite losing keeper Canizares in the first half after he brought down Patrick Kluivert. Real Sociedad remain top after a tough 1-0 win at home to Celta Vigo. Real Madrid remain in second place but slipped back after a stormy derby match against Atletico. Javi Moreno put Atletico one up from the spot early in the second half, and looked to be in a good position when Ivan Helguera was dismissed. Two goals from Luis Figo gave Real a half-time lead, but a last minute Albertini strike squared the game after Atletico had also been reduced to 10 men. Deportivo came from behind in the Riazor to beat Bilbao 2-1.

AC Milan top Serie A by three clear points - but they had a scare when visitors Piacenza went a goal up early in the second half. Within a minute Pirlo had levelled from the spot, and Rivaldo struck for the hosts to secure a 2-1 win. Lazio won by the same scoreline at home to Udinese, but it was Internazionale's 4-1 hammering by Perugia that stood out this weekend. Perugia were 4-0 up and facing 10 men after the dismissal of Luigi di Biagio before Christian Vieri pulled one goal back from the spot. Chievo had their progress rudely halted by Juve, David Trezeguet completing a hat-trick with a penalty and Alessandro del Piero scoring another spot kick as they won 1-4 in Verona. Olivier Dacourt's presence isn't doing much for Roma - they went down 2-1 at Atalanta and had Emerson dismissed into the bargain and they are now 16 points off the top - and 12 away from a Champions League spot.

It was a cup weekend in France, so there were few league games on offer. Nantes and Lille went through to the semi-finals on penalties, where they were joined by Metz and Monaco who won in the more traditional way. Lyon were knocked off the top of the table in midweek when they went down 2-0 at Bastia allowing Nice and Marseille to take a two point lead with their results.

The Belgians are back with us this week and immediately set about making it less of a contest. Brugge won 3-0 at home to La Louviere and second-placed St Truidense could only draw 1-1 at home to Germinal and trail the leaders by 14 points. Anderlecht's 0-2 defeat by Westerlo and Lierse's 2-1 win over Lommel see them join St Truidense on 35 points.

January 19: Bobby Robson is saying nowt about a possible move for Jon Woodgate. After apparently having a bid of £10 million turned down a couple of weeks back, it seems they're taking the unusual course of bidding lower this time round - paper reports say they've put £8 million on the table. If we hold out for another week and a half we could get as much as a fiver. Bobby Robson said: "We are not idling away but we can't say anything. The ones we like are the ones everyone likes. Some are not available and some could be available but at silly money, so that kills it anyway."

January 19: Our FA Cup opponents Gillingham have taken themselves off for a 4-day break at La Manga to get some rest, relaxation and warm weather training in ahead of next week's tie.

January 19: DOL has poured cold water on all suggestions of transfer impropriety during his time at Elland Road. He said: "I can state categorically that I have nothing to hide with regard to any transfer dealings that took place during my time as manager of Leeds United." And looking forward to the upcoming arbitration hearing to settle his disputed departure from Elland Road, he added: "I look forward to this hearing being judged by an impartial tribunal on the hard evidence put before them, rather than by the tactics of smear and innuendo."

January 19: El Tel has explained why he only gave Robbie Fowler 11 minutes on Saturday. "I was tempted to put him on earlier, but what you've got to remember is there's no point in putting people on for the wrong reasons. He hasn't trained all week and because of that and given the fact that he has been here, there and everywhere and having medicals, I could have decided to rest him." Just how much cotton wool do these people need wrapping in - and how unfit are they that a few days missed training can blow their fitness in the middle of the season?

January 18: A disappointing result really - a goalless draw against the bottom side and playing the last 20 minutes against 10 men. Not much more to say really - the Baggies came for a draw and got it: Leeds failed to create enough chances and didn't beat the excellent Russell Hoult in the visitors' goal.

January 18: JFH could have played his last game for Chelsea this afternoon after Barca moved to open negotiations with the Blues for the striker's services. Leeds are believed to have offered Mark Viduka to Barca after Robbie Fowler's move to Maine Road collapsed, but it's Hasselbaink the Catalans want with club president Joan Gaspart desperate to offer the fans something with the club struggling in the league. JFH is 31, so it's thought that he'll not be offered much more than a 2 year deal and Chelsea are understood to be willing to sell for around £6 million. As it is, he hobbled off in the first half with an injury - will this stop the transfer?

January 18: Leeds might still be in the market for Kleberson after all! None of the other interested clubs have sent anyone out to talk to Atletico Paranense in Brazil, and with no other offers on the table he might be available for around £3.5 million - the Brazilian club are in a worse financial state than Leeds and need the money, so a loan move is not in their interests, even if it does lead to a sale in the summer. Kleberson's English representative Simon Clifford said: "The player wants to sign for Leeds. He knows Leeds are an ambitious club and we've worked hard selling the city to him. Celtic were interested in taking him on loan at one stage, but I honestly don't believe other clubs have shown any serious interest." El Tel wants the player in his squad as soon as possible. He said: "Kleberson is a real energy player and he can manipulate the ball well. I do see him fitting in well in the side."

January 18: The YEP today carried a story saying that somebody has been trying to blackmail Paul Robinson. An 18-year-old man from Walsall has been charged with demanding money with menaces from Paul Robinson. It's not clear what he was attempting to blackmail Robbo about but it's understood he was trying to extract the sum of £20,000 from Leeds' star keeper.

January 18: Apparently Terry Venables has said that Leeds will lay on a chauffeur to make Robbie Fowler's life easier now that he's said he'll stay at Leeds. Fowler is having to drive all the way from Merseyside and back every day after moving his family out of his hugely expensive house on this side of the Pennines after a break-in. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but we're paying this bloke FORTY TWO THOUSAND POUNDS a week and you're telling me he needs us to provide him with a chauffeur as well?

January 17: Leeds Ladies' game against Southampton has been postponed as a result of Saints' County Cup involvement.

January 17: Jon Woodgate has picked up a thigh injury which could rule him out of 6 weeks of action (convenient timing huh? lose your best player just before the transfers start happening...)

January 17: Just got back from Cambridge and the Youth Cup game with the happy news that we went through 2-4. Not an inspiring performance from da Yoof with a saved penalty in the middle of it all. Aaron Lennon was too quick and nippy for the opposition by a mile, but playing alongside Lee Chapman's younger and less talented brother didn't show him in the best light. Leeds were a goal up in the first half before buckling down and really showing the opposition who's in charge. However we didn't take advantage of the possession and let the Us go 2-1 up at the start of extra time before superior fitness won the game - and a 5th round tie with Blackburn - for Leeds.

January 16: Robbie Fowler's transfer to Man City is off! After passing the medical, he declined to sign the contract offered to him. His agent George Scott said: "During the medical he had time to reflect on the deal and realised it was not the right move for him." Kevin Keegan said: "We fully respect Robbie's decision. Robbie is as top-class professional, an excellent player, a great person and I am bitterly disappointed that he will not be joining us." So that's £7 million not coming in - which might be partly the reason why we're now out of the running for Kleberson - just a day after the deal was described as 99% done and dusted. Leeds director David Walker was out in Brazil yesterday to discuss terms with his club, but left without inking a deal - and that now looks to be out of the question despite the player's interest in coming to play in the Premier League.

January 16: Is Nigel Martyn a bit closer to the exit door? Terry Venables was talking up number three keeper Danny Milosevic today. "Danny has had some really bad luck, but I would be happy to give him an opportunity to play first-team football if the opportunity arose. He has worked very hard in training and it is up to him to get that competitive edge." He went on:"He has been unfortunate because with Nigel and Paul at the club he hasn't even been getting a game in the reserves." But with Arsenal still keen to sign some cover for David Seaman, he might just decide to take his chances at Highbury since he doesn't seem to have much hope of dislodging the in-form Paul Robinson, and he realistically hasn't got more than two or three years left at the top level.

January 16: James Milner's breakthrough into the first team has come at just the right time for the Academy set-up, according to Andy Ritchie. He said: "We're all still walking around on cloud nine with what's happened with James. It gave everybody a lift because it showed just what is possible." He went on: "The young lads can look at someone like James and think 'that could be me', and it spurs them on a bit. It also gives the signal that Terry is not afraid to give these young lads a chance if he thinks they're good enough and that's important when we're trying to convince youngsters to come to Leeds ahead of other clubs that might be interested in them." Well, if you're interested in seeing what the youngsters can do, remember there's the Youth Cup tie at Cambridge tomorrow night! The game kicks off at 1900, and we'll be there (and in the bar afterwards) to give them some support.

January 15: Still no finality on Robbie Fowler's transfer to City. They're still waiting on the results of a medical - and given his problems over the last couple of years I'd imagine that would be a very stringent check indeed! Maybe tomorrow...

January 15: Roy Aitken has turned down the chance to manage Brann Bergen, preferring to stay at Elland Road and working with the youngsters. He said: "I spoke with Terry Venables at the weekend and he told me that he was keen for me to stay so I have more or less taken his advice."

January 15: Transfer target du jour is Malcolm Christie of Derby County. Derby are up an even bigger and smellier creek than we are on the financial front so a joke offer of £2 million or so might just secure his services. But he's not a left back so we still need to buy. Meanwhile one of our main targets - Brazilian Kleberson - has said he won't be leaving Brazil until he has married his 15-year-old girlfriend! The young lady in question turns 16 on Valentines Day - and that is when they plan to wed.

January 15: Harry Kewell has told the club he's happy to stay on at Leeds and would be prepared to sign another contract. Captain Cynical comes to town and says "Strange that this information is being released just as we get into serious off-loading mode." Of course, he could just prevaricate over the details of his contract for 6 months or so, then suddenly go on a cut-price deal to a club playing Champions League football in August as Leeds realise that he's going to take a Bosman no matter what the press leaks say.

January 14: The Leeds Youth team are in action at Cambridge on Friday night. It's a 1900 kick-off at the Abbey Stadium, and there's going to be a few of us coming up from London and nearby to cheer the youngsters on. Not sure if we'll have the chance to see James Milner with the West Brom game the following afternoon, but Aaron Lennon has been receiving rave reviews and it will be good to see them in the flesh. If you fancy coming along then drop me an email and swell the throng!

January 14: Robbie Fowler has agreed terms with Manchester City and is expected to finalise his contract with them tomorrow afternoon subject to a medical. The fee to Leeds is understood to be in the region of £7.5 million. Hopefully that will allow El Tel to further his pursuit of Kleberson and - more importantly - left back Gabriel Milito to strengthen the squad for the second half of the season.

January 14: Jon Woodgate's goal against Chelsea has been taken away from him. The FA's Dodgy Deflections Committee decided that William Gallas's deflection of Woody's header was too hefty to allow Woody credit for the goal, so it's now down as an og against Gallas instead. I'm sure he's thrilled.

January 14: Gills star striker Marlon King picked up a knee injury at the weekend and looks set to be out of the side for 4-6 weeks - making him an absentee from the FA Cup tie on Saturday week barring a miraculous recovery.

January 14: Eirik Bakke was arrested in Alwoodley early this morning after being found to be over the limit while driving home. He spent the night in Chapeltown police station and will face a court appearance to answer the charges on Friday. I just cannot believe the stupidity of the lad in doing this. Isn't ten grand (or more) a week enough to allow you to pay fifty quid for a taxi home? The club needs to make it absolutely clear to the players that - never mind the driving - drinking to excess during the season is absolutely out of the question. And if they can't accept that discipline, they should sod off back to playing footy on the parks on a Sunday morning.

January 14: Seth Johnson was withdrawn from last night's reserve game as a precaution after his knee injury flared up yet again. We've all said he looks to be a useful prospect but he can't seem to shake these problems off and if he's only going to be available for one third of the season we might as well take Boro's £3.5 million right now.

January 14: It seems that Danny Mills will actually miss the Gillingham game through suspension rather than the Chelsea game. And for the game at Stamford Bridge, Carlo Cudicini will be between the sticks for the home side after the FA decided that the red card he received for attempting to knee Dean Windass in the face was sufficient punishment for the offence. At the risk of sounding paranoid again, if that had been a Leeds player...

January 13: The reserves drew 0-0 at West Brom tonight in what was described as a diabolical game with almost no chances for either side on a dreadful pitch.

January 13: Leeds have agreed a fee with Manchester City for the services of Robbie Fowler - now it's just down to the player to negotiate terms with Kev, although it's likely he'll have to take a cut on his current £50,000 a week package if he makes the switch to Maine Road. Fowler's adviser is currently on holiday in the Canary Islands so it might take up until the weekend to sort out the details. If this is a forced sale - and it certainly looks that way - then surely it's time for the man behind the spend-and-sell disruption which is pulling the club apart to hold his hand up, accept responsibility and resign. We may have made £12 million on Rio, but by the time Olivier Dacourt's sale is added to the Robbies Keane and Fowler then we'll have lost that same amount there. Seth Johnson now seems to be worth half what we paid for him a year ago and we managed to alienate Lee Bowyer to the extent that we couldn't persuade him to sign an extension and so lost out on £10 million or so. Meanwhile the banks and shareholders appear to have lost confidence in the business to the extent that they are demanding a realisation of any assets not nailed to the ground.

January 13: Ian Rush - another ex-Liverpool striker who had a brief spell at Elland Road - has returned to Anfield to help Gerard Houllier by providing some coaching assistance to the strikers.

January 12: The winter break is coming to an end across Europe, and Serie A restarted this weekend. In yesterday's games, Lazio could only manage a goalless draw at Brescia, which allowed both Milan sides to open up their lead at the top this afternoon. Milan remain top after taking Bologna's 100% home record with a 0-2 win courtesy of second-half goals from Shevchenko and Serginho. Inter were at home to Modena and had the game in the bag before quarter distance, Alvaro Recoba and Hernan Crespo scoring a goal apiece in a 2-0 win. Juve jumped up to fourth place - just a point behind Lazio - with a 5-0 hammering of Reggina. They also managed to leap over Chievo on goal difference, despite the team from Verona scoring a last-minute goal to beat Roma 0-1 in the Stadio Olimpico - the home side seeing Olivier Dacourt mark his debut with a pretty impressive performance.

The top two were in action yesterday in Spain and Real Madrid are now within a point of leaders Sociedad. A 6th-minute goal from Ronaldo was all it took for Madrid to win at Celta Vigo, but Real Sociedad have little to be ashamed of after they came back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 in the Mestalla against champions Valencia. Roy Makaay equalised a 1st-minute strike from Mari with just 5 minutes on the clock - but two goals in three second half minutes gave Atletico Madrid the points - and left Deportivo clinging on to third place on goal difference ahead of Valencia. Barca's poor league form continues - they could only manage a goalless draw in the Rosaleda in a bad-tempered game against our UEFA Cup conquerors Malaga.

After the cup games of last weekend, the French league is back although quite a few games fell victim to frozen pitches. In the games that did beat the frost, Marseille conceded a goal - and the league lead - just before half time at Lyon on Friday night. Nice leapfrogged both of them on Saturday with a 2-0 win over Lille. Monaco are in 4th after clinging on for a goalless draw despite playing the second half with 10 men at home to Bastia. And towards the bottom, Rennes continued their progress to safety with a 2-1 win at home to Guingamp, but the prospect of a return to Troyes in the UEFA Cup is looking increasingly distant as last year's opponents went down 1-0 at Auxerre and they're now only holding themselves off the bottom on goal difference.

Belgium's Jupiler League restarts next week, with the Dutch Eredivisie resuming at the end of January. Meanwhile in Israel Hapoel Tel-Aviv scored the only goal of the game to secure a 0-1 win at Beitar Jerusalem.

January 12: Brian Kidd is set to be offered a job on the England coaching staff this week after receiving near unanimous support from the players. However there could be a sticking point if Leeds demand some compensation for the time he'll be away from the club. Whether or not Peter Ridsdale - now freed from his role on the FA's international committee - will want to make a stand against his former colleagues is uncertain: he needs to weigh up the likelihood of Kidd's absences disrupting Leeds' progress at a crucial point in the season with the positive spin that the club - and he himself - would receive if they are seen to be magnanimous in letting Kidd take up the role.

January 12: A hat-trick for Robbie Keane today was a timely reminder of what we're missing right now. Keane scored three times in just over 30 minutes in the second half to give Spurs a 4-3 win after they'd been a goal down within 10 minutes of the start.

January 12: Leeds Ladies had an easy 4-0 win at home to Merthyr Tydfil in 4th round of the Women's FA Cup. Stacey Daniel sent Leeds in 1-0 at the break with a 39th minute goal, and the visitors then collapsed in the first 15 minutes of the second half, conceding goals from Michelle Walsh, Cath Davies and Caroline Thorpe. Leeds will be at home to Aston Villa or Reading Royals in the next round on January 26 - if the weather allows them to complete their tie by then.

January 12: Roy Aitken is believed to be ready to join Brann Bergen next week, despite strong local opposition. I don't know if it's just blind chauvinism or something personal, but several leading supporters and investors are threatening to walk away from the club if Aitken is appointed. One said: "What do you get with Roy Aitken? Egotism, and everybody here will have to adapt to his beliefs, not the other way around." Aitken is seen as taking the job just to give himself a way of getting back into management over here, but Brann only just retained their top flight status last season, so can't expect the world's leading coaches to be beating a path to their door.

January 11: Robbie Fowler seems to be already on his way to City - much to the unhappiness of the manager. El Tel said: "I'd be very disappointed if Robbie goes, especially now he is returning to full fitness and is back in contention. I want him to stay." He knows he might have to sell again before he gets the money to rebuild the squad, and added: "I already need two or three players - now I might lose Robbie."

January 11: Old boys on target today included JFH from the spot as Chelsea hammered Charlton 4-1 on a real quagmire of a pitch which should be relaid by the time we visit later this month, and Noel Whelan, starting Boro's comeback from 0-2 down to draw 2-2 with Gordon Strachan's Saints.

January 11: Back to square one. Sure, we had a cut and dried penalty denied when Vidooks was hacked in the area, and Niclas Jensen produced a goal he's unlikely to be able to repeat in the rest of his career, and the ref was a grade A homer, ignoring repeated dives by Sun Jihai, hacks on Smithy and Kewell and then booking Matteo and Danny Mills for sod all. But we made almost no chances all game. Apart from picking the ball out of the net in injury time, Schmeichel had one vaguely serious save to make. We occasionally got the ball into the area but never produced anything really threatening until James Milner came on, and with Kewell's profligacy and Fowler's inability to get involved it was a pretty sorry show. El Tel reckons we deserved a draw, Stuart Hall reckons City were majestic and wonderful. The truth lies somewhere between: City weren't that great but they did enough to merit the three points. Our consolation goal was made by a through ball from Jon Woodgate that left their defence sliced open - shame that none of the midfielders had sufficient vision to do the same in the preceding 90 minutes.

January 11: DOL says that West Ham should go the whole hog and make Lee Bowyer captain! PL records show that West Ham only paid £100,000 for his services - an even bigger snip than we previously thought. O'Leary had some praise for the midfielder: "Sure, he does at times do silly things on the pitch. And he really has got to cut out his stupid bits. But I'm convinced he will because he is mature enough now to realise you cannot go on doing the kind of things he did in that UEFA Cup tie for Leeds last month. He will be a revelation for the Hammers." He went on: "I reckon playing for the team he has always supported since being a kid will bring out the best in him,"

January 10: Teddy Lucic will have a late fitness test ahead of tomorrow's game. If he's fit then Dom Matteo will switch back to the centre of defence with Jon Woodgate and let Danny Mills return to his favoured right back slot. Robbie Fowler - still a transfer target of City - will be on the bench with Mark Viduka and Harry Kewell looking to get the goals which will let Leeds leapfrog City. City name new Algerian signing Djamel Belmadi in their squad, but Kev is not yet sure where to best use the 26-year-old. After a poor performance against Liverpool in the cup, City will be looking to bounce back and score a few goals again. Steve Howey and Richard Dunne are due to return at the heart of the defence, but Danny Tiatto is still out.

January 10: Transfer rumours today - and Nigel Martyn is mentioned again with a move to Arsenal a distinct possibility. his agent Phil Graham said: "Nigel would be interested in Arsenal if they came in for him. He would probably be on the bench initially, but he feels - as he is three years younger than David Seaman - he could play for Arsenal for two or three years." Leeds have continued to be linked with a move for Stan Lazaridis from Brum even though Michael Duberry's move in the opposite direction is less likely. And we're apparently one of the front runners - with Brum and Brescia - for the signature of experienced Spanish star Pep Guardiola, currently at Roma but not in favour with Fabio Capello.

January 10: Roy Aitken held talks with the management of Brann Bergen in Leeds today to discuss their offer of the manager's job at the Norwegian side. Aitken was appointed by DOL and wasn't that happy to see him sacked, but had done a decent job with the Youth side - although it's hard to see how he could use that as a springboard to a management appointment in England. More talks will be held over the weekend.

January 10: One last dig from Olly as he joined up with Roma. He said: "In Leeds I have had two great years. I have had the opportunity to play in in the Champions League and the UEFA Cup. It has been a great experience. However, in my last time there, Venables has referred to personal things about me that I didn't like and the feeling was broken." And he added that he'd be sending TV the bill for his plane ticket after the manager failed to drive him to Italy as promised.

January 10: Leeds apparently tried to persuade West Ham to agree to leave him out of the squad for their game at Elland Road next month - but the Hammers stood firm and he should be running out to an interesting reception from the home fans on February 8.

January 10: Frazer Richardson has gone on a month's loan to Stoke. The defender has found his opportunities for first team football limited with Danny Mills in possession and the revival of Gary Kelly's form. Richardson made his debut against Hapoel Tel-Aviv in Florence, and will hope to get more competitive experience at the Britannia Stadium.

January 09: Paul Okon has put his injury-ridden start to the season behind him and now has one more thing to celebrate as Frank Farina announced that he would be skippering the side in their friendly against England at Upton Park next month. Farina said: "When Okon plays well, I think teams play well. The unlucky thing for Paul is that he's had a lot of injuries. But I have been one of his biggest supporters."

January 09: Transfer rumours today have Boro about to make a cheeky bid of £3.5 million for Seth Johnson - less than half of what we paid for hima year or so ago. With Lee Bowyer and Olivier Dacourt gone, that would leave the midfield somewhat threadbare to say the least. Meanwhile we've been linked with another keeper - on the assumption that Nige might like to find himself another job rather than stay in the reserves (Newcastle maybe?). And the nationality of the keeper that we're interested in? Well, he plays for Oldham but arrived there from Parramatta so of course we must be interested in signing him. Lesley Pogliacomi is his name, and in fairness to the lad he's had more than a few decent games this year and has managed 14 clean sheets for Iain Dowie's side.

January 09: We've been allocated 1200 tickets on uncovered terraces for the Gillingham game - that's about 10% of the ground so I'm sure we must be due a few more but we probably won't get them. With a 1230 KO for Sky, it will need to be a very early start for any of the Leeds fans coming down from the north (nice for us exiles though). The Gills are taking a bit more care with their ticket sales than our previous opponents: after all the furore around Scunthorpe allowing season ticket holders to buy as many tickets as they wanted, Gillingham are selling one match ticket per season ticket or membership card, and when they've completed that phase priority goes to those with ticket stubs from the Sheffield Wednesday game. Gills player Paul Shaw is hoping for a bit of an upset. "I don't think Leeds will fancy coming here, we are still on a good run and hopefully we will be when we play Leeds," he said.

January 09: Olivier Dacourt has completed his loan move to AS Roma after successfully coming through a medical today. He's on loan until the end of the season, at which point Roma will have the option to pay an agreed amount to Leeds to make the deal permanent. It's understood he's signed a provisional contract that will tie him to Roma until 2006. Fabio Capello is hoping to have him in the squad for the weekend match against Chievo. He said: "He's a player I have always liked and his style will allow him to quickly fit into the Italian league." It's not clear if Terry Venables did drive the French midfielder to Italy as he earlier promised to do - which is a shame because he might have picked up a few clues from Capello as to what a good midfielder looks like. Whatever else you can say about our mini-revival it's not been caused by a sudden attack of mastery and creativity in the middle of the park.

January 08: Late this afternoon West Ham confirmed that Lee Bowyer had completed his transfer to Upton Park and was likely to be in the side for the Newcastle game. This morning's papers had the inevitable batch of talking heads complaining about Bowyer, accusing him of being a racist and generally ignoring the fact that a jury who sat through several weeks of evidence came up with a not guilty verdict rather than do as all the hacks and knee-jerk anti-racism industry wanted and send him down for life. Needless to say, the joke rag Mirror - from which stable came the incompetence and biased pre-judgement that led to the abandonment of the first trial - was the leader in this field, pulling out an article from an Asian West Ham fan who seemed to have bought the "Bowyer is a racist" verdict that the journos need us to believe in order to sell newspapers. I can't say I'm overjoyed to see such a talented - but flawed - player leave Elland Road. Lee Bowyer did much to contribute to the success of the club on the field in his time with Leeds, and it's a great shame that those achievements will always be overshadowed by his inability to control his temper, and the failure to follow club discipline - and basic common sense - that led to his involvement in that incident in January 2000. And it's a bigger shame that the attitude of certain people within the club did much to alienate Bowyer after standing by him throughout the trial - if nothing else he might have signed an extension and brought in a bit more cash when he moved. But the biggest shame of all is the continued damning indictment of the state of the press in this country when they feel they can choose to ignore a court's verdict and pursue a shameless vendetta accusing someone of racism two pages away from another tirade against the evils of asylum seekers and immigrants and why this country shouldn't accept any more refugees who have risked their lives to escape torture, oppression and starvation. But I guess that would be the same press that sees no irony in cheerleading the shooting and bombing of foreigners while simultaneous getting indignant on the increased use of guns over here. This has been Jabba's Soapbox of the Month. Thanks for listening.

January 08: Alan Smith thinks we've turned the corner and can look forward to an improved run in the future. He said: "It was difficult during the bad run, but by sticking together we've come through it and the manager has instilled confidence. The work we've done on the training ground is paying off and there's been more consistency in our performances." He added: "The fans have also been outstanding and I think we all needed a lift. We can push on from here. Everybody is behind one another and everybody is behind the manager."

January 08: The FA Cup tie against Gillingham will now be screened live on Sky Sports with a 1230 kick-off following the FA agreeing to Farnborough's request to transfer their tie with Arsenal to Highbury for safety reasons. Sky had said they would only screen that match if it was at Farnborough's Aimita Stadium - hoping for a giant-killing on a muddy pitch closely surrounded by 5000 fans, but the Conference side will make more money from the bigger crowd at Highbury - as well as the obvious improvement on the safety front - so Sky will now show Leeds' visit to Priestfield.

January 08: Lee Bowyer has been handed a six match ban from European competition by UEFA following his stamp on the head of Malaga's Gerardo. UEFA labelled the attack "an act of assault" and gave the midfielder one of the longest bans it has ever applied - which, of course, will only take effect when his new side qualify for European competition.

January 07: Gillingham were a goal down at home to Sheffield Wednesday early on tonight - but came back to win 4-1 and set up a 4th Round tie with Leeds at Priestfield on January 25. Leeds have faced Gillingham twice in the past - in a two-legged League Cup tie in 1984 where Leeds won 2-1 away and then 3-2 at home. Rod Wallace is currently there, although he missed tonight's game through injury and he will no doubt be hoping to put one over on his former team-mates. The Gills are currently mid-table in Division 1, but made it to the quarter-finals in 2000 and will be no pushover.

January 07: Lee Bowyer is still not a West Ham player - but all the signs are that Glenn Roeder will be able to make use of the player in the Hammers' game against Newcastle at the weekend after he completed a medical today and spent some time in contract negotiations. Leeds will receive £300,000 for the player, and Bowyer has agreed to repay the legal fees owed to Leeds. Bowyer will receive the same pay as he is on at Leeds, plus a bonus of £1 million if West Ham avoid the drop. Leeds will also receive a bonus if Bowyer helps West Ham to stay up - but since the deal is just to the end of the season (with an option for two more years) West Ham have an easy get-out if they get relegated and can't afford to pay Premiership wages.

January 07: Olivier Dacourt's move to Roma will not now be finalised before Wednesday. Agent Bruno Satin said: "There are still minor details to discuss, but I think we can close it in the next two or three days."

January 07: Sam Allardyce has dismissed as "paper talk" the rumours linking Bolton to a move for David Batty. Batts was the target of an earlier bid from Sheffield Wednesday, but it looks like he'll see out this season in the reserves at best - and that only if he gets fit and the reserves are desperate since he wasn't being played when the injury situation was far worse earlier in the year.

January 07: Norwegian press speculation says that Roy Aitken is the strong favorite to take over at Brann Bergen. Aitken is currently running the youth teams at Leeds having previously managed Aberdeen and seems interested but not exactly keen on returning to team management: "I wouldn't be against going back into management at some stage... I've said all along that you keep your mind open to these things. I am enjoying my job at Leeds, but I'm always open to progressing professionally." Well later reports say that his denial of direct knowledge is a bit surprising since El Tel has given him permission to speak to the Norwegians. More later no doubt.

January 07: Terry Venables' bid to turn Leeds into a small part of Australia could be set to continue: transfer rumours today have Michael Duberry going to Brum with Stan Lazaridis and cash coming in the opposite direction. We should just take the money and let them keep the player if you ask me.

January 06: Peter Ridsdale is in Rome today according to the press, negotiating the final details of Olivier Dacourt's move to AS Roma. Ridsdale said: "Talks are ongoing but I fully expect the deal to be negotiated within the next 24 hours." With Olly and Bowyer off the books there should at least be some headroom to sign on somebody else, since their wages alone will be making a sizeable dint in Leeds' bank account, and when they're not appearing on the pitch that's money we can ill afford. Olly will go on loan to the end of the season with Roma making a down payment now and the balance in the summer - a figure of £6 million is Leeds' target, some 16% less than we paid for him.

January 06: The FA Cup draw has set Leeds on the road again, travelling to the winners of the Gillingham/Sheffield Wednesday tie that was cancelled due to adverse weather on Saturday and replays tomorrow night at 1945.

January 06: The PLC announced the appointment of a new non-executive director to the board today. Neil Holloway - who holds a senior position at Microsoft in Europe - is the man to move in to replace Richard North who quit at the end of December. Holloway is understood to be a keen Leeds fan - which helps - but let's hope we don't suddenly find the team playing a version of the game incompatible with the Premier League and suffering a General Relegation Fault.

January 06: Leeds have agreed a fee with West Ham for Lee Bowyer. Since he has refused to sign a new contract, Leeds have decided to cut their losses and gain some cash for the player rather than letting him rot in the reserves for the next 5 months. Bowyer will have contract talks with West Ham today, and will have to consider how to fund the £850,000 legal bill that he owes Leeds following his acquittal in the trial at Hull.

January 05: Not much going on around Europe at the moment - but Real Sociedad slipped in Spain as they twice allowed Malaga to equalise. Real Madrid closed the gap at the top to 3 points with a 4-1 hammering of Valencia. Ronaldo's goal had given Madrid the lead, but the champions had come back through Ayala early in the second half. Pablo Aimar got his marching orders shortly after, and within 5 minutes Madrid had the lead through Zidane and went on to wrap the game up in the last 5 minutes through Guti and Portillo. Deportivo had an easy 3-0 win against Celta Vigo and jump over Valencia into third place. In France as in England it was a cup weekend, and our former UEFA Cup opponents from Troyes found themselves on the receiving end of a giant-killing, going down 3-1 at Schiltingheim.

January 05: TV was quietly pleased with Leeds' win yesterday. "There's always one upset and you just hope it's not you," the manager said. "You have to get it right on the day and, although this was a tough game for us, in the end we did all right." He went on: "It was a major plus to get Dominic back. He did well, giving us good drive down the left-hand side, especially in the second half." Brian Laws was happy that his team acquitted themselves well in the game, saying: "Leeds were totally under pressure and I was hoping it would take its toll on them, but they have gone into the interval 1-0 up against the run of play. When you're playing Premier League sides you need to score first, but Leeds got the goal that gave them a bit of breathing space and then came out for the second-half with a lot more confidence."

January 05: West Ham are the latest team expressing an interest in taking Lee Bowyer. A move back down to London would certainly suit the unsettled midfielder - but (apologies to my West Ham-supporting friends here) a move down to Division 1 would definitely not be on the cards, and it would be a very brave move for Bowyer to go to Upton Park with the team currently looking hot favorites for the drop.

January 04: Olivier Dacourt's agent says he has agreed terms with AS Roma for a loan move for the rest of the season - all that needs to happen now is for Leeds to agree the details with the Italian club. And with Peter Ridsdale anxious to reduce the wage bill and Dacourt out of favour with El Tel, that should be a formality.

January 04: Well, we found an open pub without too much trouble (at 1 minute past 11) in the centre of Scunthorpe, saw a few over-excited plod charge up and down outside wielding their riot sticks with vigour for no obvious reason and made it to the ground with minimal incident. Overall it was a poor game but Leeds were rarely threatened and had plenty of time to sit back and pass the ball around. Paul Robinson was rarely troubled, and Leeds could have had 5 if we'd had a striker playing instead of Harry Kewell. Chants of "Happy Birthday" to James Milner and the welcome early return of Dom Matteo were the other highlights of the game. After keeping us in for 10 minutes at the end, the police let us go even though the ground was still surrounded by home fans (so what was the point in keeping us in?) and they then proceeded to get ratty with people for walking on the road rather than the crowded and icy pavements. There were plenty of catch wagons in evidence and they made a big effort to surround anything that looked like a group of Leeds fans and march them off to the station. Was it necessary? Probably not - but we did see a big group of locals hiding in a side street who went running over towards one group of Leeds fans, trying to start trouble. It's a sad reflection that we can't go 50 miles down the road for a cup game without this sort of reaction from the police and locals but I guess it's something we'll have to live with.

January 03: Birmingham want to take Lee Bowyer on loan for the rest of the season. Hahahahahahahahahahaha...bonk.

January 03: Olivier Dacourt is in Rome discussing a possible move to AS Roma according to some sources today. A loan move to the end of the season looks likely if personal terms can be agreed between the club and his agent.

January 02: Lee Bowyer is no closer to signing a new deal with Leeds, despite the fact that he has had improved terms offered to him for over a year now. This is Leeds' last chance to make any money on the midfielder, and it's still thought most likely that he'll leave on a Bosman in the summer, even though Leeds have not exactly been overwhelmed by the rush of clubs competing for his signature. Meanwhile, Leeds are saying that no formal offers for players have yet been received - despite the apparent truth in Newcastle's offer for Woody. There has not yet been any contact about Robbie Fowler's move to Maine Road, nor anything on any of the other players thought likely to take advantage of the transfer window. Peter Ridsdale was ambivalent in his statement about what we can expect - he said: "Whatever business takes place over the next few weeks you have my assurance the objective will be to give the manager the resources to build a winning team, while at the same time doing the right things for the long-term financial health of the club." Which I interpret as "We'll let Tel buy people provided it's at the right price and we might sell people if a big enough offer comes in and we're feeling particularly desperate."

January 02: Saturday's FA Cup tie at Glanford Park is a sell-out - and there was trouble at the ground today when a massive queue formed to buy the remaining tickets. Season ticket holders had been allowed to buy as many tickets as they wanted, so there were only about 1000 left to go on general sale today, and after seeing how long the queue was, sales were restricted to one per fan. With some people queuing for more than three hours, tempers were obviously heated when the tickets finally sold out with people still waiting, and some fans accused the club of not doing enough for its loyal supporters (though I'd have thought that by allowing season ticket holders the chance to bring along their friends and family that was exactly what it was doing). The pitch will be covered overnight to ensure that the game doesn't fall victim to a late frost after all the recent rain.

January 02: Mixed news on the injury front. Dom Matteo has returned to training following his knee op and will be ready for a first team comeback by the end of the month. Teddy Lucic remains a doubt for Saturday after pulling out of the Brum game with a tight hamstring, and Lee Bowyer's ankle injury is proving more troublesome than expected, though I've no doubt that the prospect of a lucrative transfer deal will see him back to full fitness and sailing through a medical.

January 02: And so the real transfer stuff starts with a bid of £10 million coming in for Jon Woodgate from Newcastle. Needless to say this was rejected but how high will Newcastle go - and will that be enough to convince the board and manager that the best English centreback in the country can leave the club. Leeds have already made it clear to Arsenal that a bid for Paul Robinson much less than £12 million will not be given house room - although Nigel Martyn might be available for a couple of million to replace the injured Rami Shabaan - or in the light of yet another blunder today - David Seaman. As for any buys, Terry Venables said: "The chairman knows what I want to do. He says he's doing the best he can, and now it's just a matter of time to see what happens. But Leeds are an attractive proposition for players. It's a good club with a good name."

January 02: TV is happy that the winning run has continued through into 2003. He said: "It's a good start to the new year. You cannot be unhappy with 13 out of 15 points, but I just hope we can keep it going." Leeds were a little lucky at times - with a couple of penalty shouts turned down for the Blues and a goal-line clearance, but the manager saw plenty of good things on the pitch for Leeds: "I just want to maintain our improvement and keep up the work-rate we are showing, while defensively we look stronger and are holding the line a lot better."

January 01: Whenever you end up playing against a lower-division side it seems as if you're back in the 1980s again in so many ways. And with Scunthorpe on Saturday we've got the local police telling everyone that there will be a big presence at the game and in the town and encouraging all of the local landlords to shut up shop rather than provide a beer or two to the 2000 Leeds fans (plus 7500 Scunny fans) who are off to the match. Of course, it's arguable that 2000 Leeds fans wandering the streets in search of somewhere to have a drink might be seen as a bigger threat to public order than if they were safely ensconced in a pub, cheering on Pompey against ManU in the FA Cup on Sky. And that all this will mean is a whole bunch of coaches stopping off at pubs 10 miles or so away and then turning up in one bloody great rush 10 minutes before kick-off and crowding the turnstiles trying to get in. But then, I'm not a public safety officer and clearly have little understanding of how this sort of thing works.

January 01: All of a sudden we're in the mid-table comfort zone and today's 2-0 win puts us in a great position to get back into the top half and within touching distance of a European place after the visit to Maine Road next week. Decent enough performance again today and a deserved win - but we still need to improve.

January 01: Former Leeds Youth Cup winner Paul Pettinger has gone on loan to Telford United who are in need of a keeper following an injury to their current number one Paul Edwards. Pettinger was part of the side that beat the Man U team containing the likes of David Beckham and Paul Scholes, and is currently at Lincoln City.

January 01: Terry Venables has hinted that some transfer decisions may be outside of his control - particularly any departures. With rumours about Robbie Fowler's move continuing, Venables said: "As far as I'm concerned I know nothing about it but if I did I wouldn't discuss it....Sometimes these things are out of your control and you've just got to try and do the best you can." He went on: "I want as many of these players that I can to be here." Kevin Keegan is targetting a top-six finish and a European spot for his side, and reckons that City are once again a big enough club to attract good players. But for all our troubles, we're only 3 points behind City at the moment and just 7 points away from 6th spot, so maybe a Euro place next year might just be achievable.

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