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Leeds United News from The Sporting Life    Yorkshire Evening Post

February 28: You may have heard of the ridiculous state of affairs at Darlo where chairman George Reynolds banned a 16-year-old fanzine editor from the ground for articles that he saw as insulting. The Football Fans Census are interested in your views on banning orders - what should cause the authorities to ban someone? Take the survey here.

February 28: Leeds have decided not to go in for the InterToto after all. Leeds secretary Ian Silvester said: "I was informed by the chairman that following discussions between the board and the manager, Leeds have decided not to enter the Intertoto Cup." With Villa and Spurs both pulling out that only leaves Newcastle as England's entry - and given that they're looking likely to qualify for the Champions League England won't have any entrants in the competition this year.

February 28: Jon Woodgate is set to make his Newcastle debut at home to Chelsea tomorrow, a month after his controversial move to St James Park. Ironically he comes into the side to displace Titus Bramble or Andy O'Brien just as they seem to be sorting out the defence up there.

February 28: Birmingham's Evening Mail has a rumour for us. They suggest that our close-season target will be none other than Gary Megson. Leeds won't be able to afford a big-money replacement if El Tel leaves - as it seems he is expected to in some quarters - and although Megson's West Brom have been on course for relegation since day one, he's seen as having done a good job with very limited resources.

February 28: James Milner is likely to join Wayne Rooney and Jermaine Jenas in missing out on the FIFA World Youth Championship in Dubai next month. Coach Les Reed would like to take the strongest possible U-20 team to the tournament, but it's understood that the FA have listened to the clubs and have agreed that - where the player is currently a regular in the first team - they will not invoke the FIFA regulations and forcibly select the player.

February 28: The minutes of the meeting between Peter Ridsdale and the execs of the Leeds United Supporters Club from a couple of weeks ago have finally been released, and they don't reveal much of what hasn't been said before. Ridsdale revealed that he couldn't understand what Terry Venables' problems were with David Batty, and said that he would have given Batts a game or two in the side if only to prove to the fans and Batts himself that he no longer had the pace for the Premiership. The club approved the content of the minutes prior to their release to ensure that no financial information was released ahead of the half year figures being published, but like most people connected with the club I've heard various stories about what was said at the meeting from the proverbial man in the pub, and indeed the world and his dog. Peter Ridsdale said that he'd learnt a lot about managing the manager from the time DOL was in charge and appreciated that they'd given the manager too much leeway and had not exercised sufficient control over transfer spending. I've also been told that he revealed that DOL turned down the chance to sign Jermaine Jenas before Newcastle moved for him, saying he'd only play him in the youth teams. And don't ask me which player the manager allegedly opted to spend his cash on rather than buy Kieron Dyer for a similar amount.

February 27: The big issue for the safety authorities at Bramall Lane appears to be the use of flares by the Blades fans this season. Their chief executive said: "History this season, especially with regard to flares, makes stewarding and policing at Bramall Lane very difficult." The police were worried - and are quite surprised that nobody has been seriously injured yet. However Leeds are pointing out that the problem lies with the home fans and that it would be wrong to penalise the Leeds supporters because the Sheffield fans have caused problems. A final decision is expected by the weekend - but Leeds are already sending out what tickets they have to people high enough up the priority list.

February 27: It's a big game for Leeds - and it will be a big game for Raul Bravo when Leeds go to Old Trafford next week seeking a first win in 22 years over there. Bravo said: "This is a game that everyone wants to play in... It will be a chance for us to prove ourselves - we're not far away and can get better because we have the team to do so." He's settled in well at Leeds and is determined to enjoy his short stay in English football and he's glad to be getting some first team games in. "I am very happy," he said. "The people have received me well."

February 27: Fulham's all-conquering women's team play Leeds Ladies this weekend at Garforth. It will be a tough test for Leeds - Fulham lead the league, and when the teams met last year Leeds were on the wrong end of an 8-0 scoreline.

February 27: Former Leeds goal-king Mick Jones reckons that the Academy will be our saviour, and says that the progress into the first team made by some of the yound stars will do much to encourage the others. He said: "I think in a few weeks the time will be right to give more of them a chance to show what they can do in the first team, especially if Leeds get knocked out of the FA Cup. They are not going to qualify for Europe through the league and they are not going to be relegated, so what do they have to lose by experimenting?" But we're not going to get knocked out of the cup now, are we folks?

February 26: The details of the presentation made by Dr Bill Gerrard to the meeting of the Independent Fans Association last week are up on their website. You're probably better off with the PDF version since that's only a few K - as opposed to the main link which points to a 3 meg JPEG here. If his comments provoke any thoughts or questions you'd like us to ask Peter Ridsdale, drop me a line.

February 26: It's still not been confirmed what the ticket situation will be for the cup game at Bramall Lane on Sunday week. The proposed gate reduction of 4,500 seems to be falling disproportionately on the visiting fans, with the Blades indicating that Leeds will be offered just 2,500 tickets rather than the 4-5,000 that we are due under the FA Cup regulations, which stipulate that the away team should get 15% of the gate. Leeds are supporting Sheff U in their attempt to get a higher capacity - not least because the club could miss out on around £100,000 of revenue if the ground isn't full.

February 26: The reserve game away at Villa will be played at the Bescot Stadium (Walsall's ground) rather than Villa Park on March 11. Villa top the Premier Reserve League at the moment - Leeds are not doing badly but have slipped back after a good start.

February 25: The Youth team were knocked out of the cup tonight, going down to the only goal of the game against Charlton at Elland Road tonight. Aaron Lennon was missing, but the team did have the benefit of James Milner's services for the whole game - but that wasn't enough to get the edge in a tight game.

February 25: Rod Wallace scored his 7th goal of the season for Gillingham tonight to give them a good home win over Norwich - a win that dents Nigel Worthington's team's play-off hopes.

February 25: Teddy Lucic is not sure if he will still be at Leeds next season. With the financial situation still uncertain, Lucic doesn't know whether Leeds will take up the option to retain his services beyond the end of his loan spell. He said: "I don't know what will happen. I think the clubs have spoken a little bit but nothing is 100% certain yet... I cannot allow myself to start looking toward next summer and what will happen. I have a job to do now."

February 25: Sheffield United have been ordered to close parts of Bramall Lane for the quarter-final game after trouble at several games there this season. After the trouble in the Worthington Cup tie with Leeds, there have been incidents involving flares, coins and pitch invasions, so the local police and council have decided that the lower tier of the Bramall Lane end and the G and H blocks in the Laver Street stand should be closed to allow better segregation and control. This will knock the maximum gate down by about 4,500.

February 25: Leeds have announced that they will be applying to the FA for one of the two English places in the InterToto Cup next season. Peter Ridsdale said: "It's been company policy to apply for the Intertoto, usually in the hope that we wouldn't have to compete in it. We've done it in the past and the decision to apply again was re-affirmed by the whole plc board at the weekend. I consulted Terry Venables about it and sought his views." And I'm sure his views were "You've got to be joking!" This could involve Leeds' season starting in the second week of July - if we're allowed in. Not only will we have to climb the table a little to finish ahead of the likes of Villa, Boro, Southampton and Spurs, we'll need to finish in the top 12 as UEFA are now insisting that teams entering the InterToto need to have shown some decent league form rather than letting teams who have just escaped relegation in. Of course we could always get into the UEFA Cup by winning the FA Cup...

February 25: I've been offered the chance to meet Peter Ridsdale to put a few questions to him and get some background on what's going on at the club. I'm not going to be able to make it on account of living at the wrong end of the country and being a bit too busy to make it up to Leeds for teatime on the day in question - but I've got someone lined up to go along and report back. What I'd like from all of you folks out there is a set of - sensible and non-abusive - questions that I can amalgamate and put to our chairman. Drop me an email with anything you'd like me to put to him and I'll see what I can do to get some answers to the serious questions you all no doubt have.

February 24: Leeds have been cleared of any wrongdoing surrounding the transfer of Rio Ferdinand. After questions were raised about the propriety of various payments made to agents, accountants Deloitte and Touche and law firm Addleshaw Booth carried out a review of the dealings and passed their findings to the plc's audit committee. A statement issued to the Stock Exchange said: "The report confirms that the expenditure and payments for the transfer, including agents' fees, were properly authorised in accordance with Leeds United policy." It goes on to state that procedures will be improved in the future without detailing what those improvements will be.

February 24: Be thankful for small mercies and Graham Barber's dodgy refereeing decisions. But for a terrible red card/penalty call against Fulham tonight they might have managed to hang on to their one goal lead at Spurs and we'd have been down to 15th place. As it is we're only ahead of them by virtue of having scored two more goals - and it's ManU and Liverpool away in two of the next three league games...

February 24: Dom Matteo is hoping to be fit for the trip to Old Trafford next week - or at least for the cup tie the following Sunday. He's been out for just over two weeks and it would be a miraculous recovery for him to make it back - hopefully he's not pushing himself to another long-term breakdown in his rush to help the defence sort itself out. For Sheff U, Peter Ndlovu's was dismissed as well as Wayne Quinn at the weekend so both will be banned for the quarter-final. Their star player Michael Tonge and veteran defender Steve Yates also look set to miss out through injury.

February 24: Pretty much all police leave has been cancelled in South Yorkshire for the cup tie at Bramall Lane on Sunday week. Supt Martin Hemingway of the South Yorkshire Police said: "The timing of this match is very important. There was a great deal of trouble inside the stadium when the two teams last played. Holding the game at a time when there are limited opportunities to drink beforehand is a very important factor in helping the club to maintain a safe environment inside the ground. We've worked closely with club safety officials and football authorities." Whether or not that will involve stopping the Sheffield fans invading the pitch and charging at the Leeds end isn't yet clear, but there's been all the usual "We're going to kick your heads in" posturing on a variety of the bulletin boards and chat forums nominally associated with the likes of the Service Crew but usually populated by 14-year-olds whose main method of assault would be to squeeze their zits at you.

February 24: Remember that it's the Youth Cup quarter-final tomorrow night - and El Tel himself would like you to turn up if you can. He said: "Although producing first-team players of the future is the aim of the Academy, the youngsters have done really well to get this far in the FA Youth Cup and deserve a big crowd to cheer them on in another big tie. So I hope the fans will turn out in force and give them a real boost." And no naughty "Sack the board" chants mind!

February 23: Is it only a week since I last said "It's round-Europe time"? Well it is, and in Italy we find the authorities getting more than a bit worried after the match between Torino and Milan had to be abandoned at the Delle Alpi yesterday with the visitors 0-3 up. Two goals from Clarence Seedorf and another from Filippo Inzaghi had put Milan on course to keep up their pursuit of Juve and Inter when a pitch invasion - and the tear gas the police had to use to control the crowd - forced the game to be abandoned. After problems back in December in the Serie A game between Como and Udinese, and also trouble at a Serie B game involving Cagliari, the Italian FA and the government will be taking a strong line on any offenders. Juve recovered from their midweek defeat at Old Trafford - and had enough players recovered from flu - to stroll to an easy 1-3 win at bottom side Como. Two goals in three minutes from Christian Vieri - the first just two minutes after Batistuta had netted the opener - helped Inter to a similar margin at home to Piacenza. Lazio could only manage a goalless draw at home to Atalanta, but Chievo blew their chances of closing the gap on the Rome side when they went down to a late goal at Modena.

Real Sociedad returned to winning ways with a 2-0 home win over Osasuna - and it's just as well they did get the three points because the chasing pack all won. Valladolid had the temerity to score first in the Bernabeu, but Roberto Carlos and Ronaldo had restored order after 20 minutes, and a second half goal from Portillo made it 3-1 to Madrid. Valencia hammered second-bottom Rayo Vallecano 0-4 in tonight's game and closed the goal-difference gap on Madrid to just 2. Depor demolished Alaves in the Riazor yesterday, with a hat-trick for Diego Tristan and a brace for Roy Makaay as they ran out 6-0 winners. Barca's new coach appears to be working wonders for them - they stormed up into 8th place after a Saviola hat-trick helped them to a 4-0 win over Real Betis.

Bayern now have a 10 point gap at the top of the Bundesliga after their 2-0 win over Nurnburg yesterday, Lizarazu and Elber on target for the champions-elect. Dortmund came back from 2-0 down at Schalke to draw in a game where both sides finished with 10 men. Stuttgart eased away from Schalke and closed to within a point of Dortmund with a 4-0 win over Borussia Moenchengladbach today - two goals in the last three minutes against ten men rather flattering the hosts. Werder Bremen also seem to be blowing it big-time: they conceded a 5th minute goal at home to bottom side Energie Cottbus and failed to recover, allowing their visitors to climb up to third from bottom. They'd have made it even higher if Bayer Leverkusen hadn't suddenly remembered how to win - two goals in the last 10 minutes giving them the points at fellow strugglers Hannover 96 but coming a week too late for Klaus Toppmoller.

A goal in each half for Marseille at home to Lille kept them at the top of the pile in France, but Monaco kept up the pressure with a 3-1 home win over Auxerre - completing a miserable week for Guy Roux's side following their UEFA Cup defeat by Liverpool on Thursday. Champions Lyon are doing what they can to hang on to their crown, but they still trail Monaco by 4 points after a 4-1 win over Stade Rennes. Nice drew 1-1 at Bastia to slip a little further behind the leaders. At the bottom Montpellier lost again - 4-0 at Lens - so L'Estac's 1-0 win at home to Strasbourg took them off the bottom of the pile and closed the gap on Sedan and Ajaccio, but relegation for our UEFA Cup opponents from just 18 months ago remains on the cards.

There's a 7 point gap at the top of the Eredivisie now: Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink scored the only goal of the game for PSV as they struggled to beat mid-table NAC Breda. Ajax - who impressed so much at Highbury last week - fell to a 1-0 defeat at Utrecht. Two goals from Pierre van Hoojidonk and another from one-time Leeds transfer target Brett Emerton in an 7-minute spell just after the half-hour mark killed off Groningen, allowing Feyenoord to take the game 4-1 and close to within 4 points of Ajax.

Club Brugge's lead is now up to 16 points at the top of the Jupiler League: their hosts Gent held out for over 50 minutes before conceding an own goal and opening up to the leaders - a last minute goal for the home side was no more than a consolation in a 1-4 scoreline. Of the distantly chasing group, second-placed Anderlecht lost 1-0 at Excelsior Mouscron despite playing against 10 men for over half an hour, and that allowed Lierse to overtake them - which they struggled to do in a 1-1 draw at Standard Liege. Mechelen pulled off a bit of a shock this weekend as they managed to hold St-Truidense to a goalless draw to claim their 11th point from 22 games.

In the Gambrinus Liga, Slavia blew their chance to steal a march on Sparta when they conceded a late equaliser at bottom side Bohemians and ended up at 1-1. Sparta play at home to Ceske Budejovice tomorrow. Teplice started the weekend in third but allowed visitors Banik Ostrava to score the only goal of the game, so Jan Nezmar's goal for Slovan Liberec in their 1-0 win over Brno yesterday takes them ahead of Teplice and they now trail Slavia by just 4 points.

February 23: Leeds Ladies suffered another reverse in their Premier League game today, going down 3-4 at home to Birmingham. Leeds were 2-0 up after 15 minutes through Laura Humphries and Stacey Daniel, but found themselves 2-3 down just past the hour mark. An equaliser by Sarah Dobby gave Leeds hope with 15 minutes to go, but Brum scored 5 minutes later to take the 3 points and ease their relegation worries.

February 23: In Saturday's Sun, Alan Smith chalked up another brownie point or two as "one of the fans" when he told the world that Woody's sale was a loss that he felt personally. "For me, it felt like losing a special friend who I'd known since I was 12 years of age and had grown really close to." And he fully understands the reaction from the supporters - and was as much in the dark as the rest of us ahead of the sale. "They felt they had been betrayed after being told that the club would never sell its crown jewels... He'd been at the club ever since he was 13 and our supporters absolutely loved him... His departure came as a massive shock to me and everyone else."

February 23: Eddie Gray was very disappointed with the way the team capitulated yesterday, and said that the team needed to take more responsibility. "For 45 minutes we competed reasonably well, but when the second goal went in it was disappointing to see heads go down and they then took complete control of the game." He went one: "It's a lesson for our lads because if we want to get back to the top this is the type of team we have to compete with and in the second half we didn't do that."

February 22: Leeds were fairly ripped to pieces by Newcastle today and we can't really have any complaints. The first half was not totally one-sided, and Harry Kewell had a good chance to equaliser Kieron Dyer's opener, but Andy Griffin cleared well. Forced to bring on James Milner at half-time to replace the injured Wilcox, any hope of chasing the game was stopped almost instantly with a second well-taken goal from Dyer and followed inevitably by yet another strike against Leeds by Alan Shearer. "Sack the board" sang the Newcastle fans to applause from the Leeds end. "Are you Sunderland in disguise" met with a slightly less cheerful response. Shearer's loose elbow caused Lucas Radebe to be subbed - but attracted no sanction from the officials: you can't help thinking what would have happened and the outcry there would have been if Alan Smith and done the same to their centrebacks. Newcastle wasted three or four great chances - and Robbo made some good saves - in the last 15 minutes and could have won by more. Kieron Dyer was subbed early by Bobby Robson and left the field to a round of applause from Leeds and Newcastle fans alike. If our former manager appears on TV pontificating on what's happened to "his team" he could do well to remember that he was the one who chose to sign Michael Duberry when offered the choice between him and Kieron Dyer for the same money.

February 22: Andy Gray continued his run of good form this season with the opening goal of the game for Bradford at Coventry, and his side increased the lead 5 minutes from the end to win 0-2. Jamie Forrester scored for the second week in succession, bringing Hull back onto level terms at home to Cambridge from the spot after a foul by on-loan Leeds player Tom Newey. Elsewhere today Wayne Quinn was dismissed for Sheffield United - which I think means he'll miss the FA Cup quarter-final a fortnight tomorrow.

February 22: Some reports from Down Under suggest that Harry Kewell will leave Leeds in the summer. He was supposed to be on the point of signing a new contract nearly two months ago, but no progress has been announced - and with him able to go on a Bosman at the end of next season, Leeds will be more or less forced to look for a buyer in the summer if he's not signed an extension by then. Former Socceroo and West Ham player Robbie Slater said: "I think it's time for Harry to go. Leeds are a good club, but he needs to be at a club where he can challenge for big honours year in, year out. I'm talking about Barcelona or AC Milan or a club like that." Well, I guess that shows how much Slater follows La Liga, but there you go. Another former international Paul Wade told The Age: "Harry needs to be winning things, but Leeds are not big enough. He's a world-class player and needs a world-class club - a Barcelona or an AC Milan or a Real Madrid or, if he wanted to stay in England, a Manchester United." And Bernie Mandic is being diplomatically silent on the issue, merely stating that Harry remains happy at Leeds and enjoys a good relationship with the chairman. I think we'd better accept that this will be his last season with Leeds unless something changes radically at Elland Road or if the Italian and Spanish leagues all suddenly become insolvent.

February 22: Terry Venables misses today's game with a bout of flu - so Eddie Gray will be in charge. Raul Bravo is in for Ian Harte, who drops to the bench, but otherwise there are no changes to the line-up that won at Palace last week.

February 22: Alan Shearer says he's a bit worried about this afternoon's games - because of the man in charge. "Leeds will test us because of the management team there. Terry Venables is one of the best coaches I have ever worked with." He went on: "He is technically excellent and a great man manager, very similar to our manager here." And he reckons that rumours of Venables' intentions of cutting and running are far from the truth. He said: "He will tough it out - he is well experienced in these situations. He is very knowledgeable and not daft enough to think there won't be tough times ahead. He will get it right, I am sure he will. He will not walk away, he is a winner."

February 21: Eddie Gray has welcomed Jon Woodgate's decision to not stoke the fire at Elland Road any more and stay at home on Saturday. He said:"Under the circumstances it is probably good for us that Woodgate is not coming back to Leeds because there are still a lot of our fans who are disappointed that he has gone." He reckons Woody will do well at Newcastle (well duh!) and thinks that Leeds now need to focus on the future and improving what we're left with. What we're left with is a squad that runs out of strikers and centrebacks to the extent that we've played plenty of games using fullbacks in the middle and midfielders up front, barely 6 months on from the point at which we had a surfeit in both departments. The anger and rage surrounding the financial mismanagement of the club appears to have died down a little - but the board had better believe that it has not gone away. Season Ticket holders will be getting their renewal forms in the next month or so - it will be interesting to see how the club reacts if a few thousand of them decline to renew in the light of the board's mismanagement and outright lies to the fans about the club's financial position.

February 21: Mark Viduka completes his three match ban by missing tomorrow's game - and there's no chance of Dom Matteo and Eirik Bakke taking part. Paul Okon has been a doubt all week but might just make it, and Nick Barmby will be hoping to take his recovery to the next level with some time on the pitch tomorrow.

February 21: TV is very happy with the way that Harry Kewell has improved his game now that he's playing up front. "Harry's shown a great hunger this year. He knows he's let time slip by him and he's proved that, he's not just talked it." He went on: "He's training every day and working hard and I think he's got the hunger to do well. He certainly won't let anything slip away." It's true that his work-rate and application have improved out of sight this season compared to what we've seen in the last couple of years but he's still not progressed to being a good scorer of goals rather than just a scorer of good goals: he may be our top scorer but his ratio of goals to chances is not as good as it should be. But if playing him up front is keeping him happy and he continues to improve then so be it - and Venables was using his previous experience of working with Kewell for Australia to make the call. He said: "When you're out on one side, you need the ball and if people don't get the ball to you you're complaining about others. Harry relies on the ball and that's why we wanted him more involved." Let's hope he gets plenty of the ball in the Newcastle game tomorrow.

February 21: The reserves drew 0-0 with Newcastle last night - and there was no sign of David Batty or explanation of his absence. Nick Barmby played for a half - but is expected to be on the bench for Saturday so was replaced by Harpal Singh at half time, and by all accounts young Paul Keegan had an excellent game against a Newcastle side that included quite a few players with first team experience.

February 20: It's understood that Peter Ridsdale has invited supporters to meet him to discuss the situation at the club - and why we were forced to sell Jon Woodgate - at Elland Road on March 3. Well that will sort out anyone lucky enough to live near Leeds at the time - maybe the rest of us who travel miles for the home games never mind Europe and the rest will be offered a similar opportunity at some point in the future.

February 20: Jon Woodgate is close to being able to start a game for Newcastle - but both fitness and contractual issues rule him out of Saturday's game, and Bobby Robson said that Woody would not be travelling with his new team-mates given the circumstances and furore surrounding his departure. Robson said: "We don't think there is any point in him being at Leeds this weekend. He would like to be there but we just feel that it is a situation where he should duck low and stay out of it. Solano will be missing from the Newcastle side after picking up a knock and Hugo Viana has returned to training but is not yet fit enough after suffering a dislocated shoulder.

February 20: Looks like the ref for Saturday will be Alan Wiley - and if the precedent set by last week's "lucky" ref Dermot Gallagher is anything to go by, we're doomed: Wiley has reffed twice at Elland Road this season - the 1-4 hammering by Arsenal and the 2-4 defeat by Bolton. Shearer and Bellamy are back for Newcastle - this might be a good one to bury your head in the sand and avoid.

February 20: They've finally decided on the timing for the game at Bramall Lane - it will kick off at 1130 on the Sunday morning and will be shown live on Sky. Away season ticket holders and Striker Card holders who went to Bramall Lane earlier in the season or Selhurst Park last weekend will receive priority on the 5000 tickets that Leeds will receive.

February 19: Still no decision on the timing of the quarter-final match at Bramall Lane. The Beeb will be showing Arsenal v Chelsea on Saturday at 1715, the Saints/Wolves match will be Sky's 1600 tie on the Sunday so that leaves the Yorkshire derby and Watford vs Fulham/Burnley to drop into the early and late slots on Sunday - and South Yorkshire police are pretty clear that an early kick-off is preferable after the problems at Bramall Lane last time round.

February 19: The board have appointed independent auditors to look at recent transfer deals at the club after allegations in the press that Leeds made payments to agents who were not entitled to receive them, and that Peter Ridsdale in particular was responsible for agreeing various fees and transfer payment structures that were not exactly transparent. In particular the involvement of Rune Hauge - who was closely associated with the downfall of George Graham at Arsenal - in the acquisition of Eirik Bakke and Rio Ferdinand has been noted as giving cause for concern. The board have repeatedly stressed there is nothing to hide and that everything has been above board and legal, so let's hope the accountants don't uncover some more nasty facts that end up dragging Leeds' reputation through the mud yet again.

February 19: Going, going, gone! If you want to get yourself to an away game this season you're running out of time to buy your tickets. Arsenal, Man U and Liverpool are already sold out, so that just leaves Charlton and Southampton as the only two away games with tickets still available. Get your order in now before they all go!

February 19: The reserves will be in action at home to Newcastle on Thursday night ahead of the senior tie on Saturday. David Batty is expected to be part of the team turning out at Belle Vue, making his second reserves appearance in succession and maybe starting to come back into some sort of contention for the first team squad.

February 18: After the abysmal policing and stewarding at Bramall Lane for the Worthington Cup game, Leeds are hoping that the FA Cup tie will be handled a bit more sensibly. Leeds secretary Ian Silvester said: "As for any game, hopefully they will make the proper preparations. We did protest to Sheffield about crowd arrangements at the Worthington Cup-tie. They have had several big games since then and we hope lessons have been learned." He didn't mention the number of run-ins the Blades have had with other fans - including a flare that hit a young Wednesday fan in the face during the Sheffield derby. On the footballing side, TV was pleased: "It's just great to be in the quarter-finals. Nobody expected us to get this far and it gives everyone a lift after everything that's happened." And on the financial side it could provide a big boost to Leeds - getting to the final could bring in around £2 million, and winning it double that amount. And then there's always Europe next year if we're lucky... But the manager isn't counting his chickens yet and he knows it will be a tough game. "We will look forward to going back to Bramall Lane...We will have plenty of respect for Sheffield United. They have shown everyone what they are capable of doing so there can be no surprise factor."

February 18: Seth Johnson has said that he's pleased to still be at Leeds - despite almost departing for Boro during the transfer window. "I never said I wanted to leave. I did speak to Middlesbrough - only for the deal to collapse because they weren't happy with the state of my knee. But Terry Venables has given me a chance in the last couple of games and I'm determined to try to keep my place."

February 18: If you can think of a use for red plastic forks, have a word with Mick Bailey who runs United Fisheries down by the ground. Quite simply he's found that Leeds fans going in for a bag of his fine fish and chips before a game will quite happily use the yellow or white forks - but the red ones stay unused. He said: "It's got to the point where I've had to throw all the red forks out and start using wooden chip forks because at least then they're a neutral colour. It's unbelievable."

February 18: The Youth Cup quarter-final tie against Charlton has been scheduled for next Tuesday at Elland Road with a 7pm kick-off. Admission is only £3 or a measly quid for concessions, so get yourself along and cheer the youngsters on. The reserve match at Everton which was due to be played on the same night gets postponed as a result.

February 17: Today's cup draw paired us with Sheffield United for the second time this season - hopefully we'll do better than we managed in the Worthington Cup. Leeds have faced Sheffield United twice before in the FA Cup - at the same stage in 1968 when Paul Madeley scored the only goal of the game, and prior to that in 1936 when a massive crowd of over 68287 saw Leeds beaten 1-3 in the 5th round. With Arsenal and Chelsea drawn against each other, this season really is presenting itself as a great opportunity to go all the way. The other two ties see Dave Jones return to his old stamping ground as Wolves take on Southampton and the winners of next week's replay between Fulham and Burnley are at Watford. The games will be played in the weekend of March 8/9 - and you can bet your life that South Yorkshire Police will want an early kick-off, so bank on a midday Sunday start.

February 17: Lucas Radebe thinks that Leeds could be on for a surprisingly good end to the season. He said: "The way things are working out this season we have suddenly found ourselves in a great position... It's been a while since we've had a really good run in the FA Cup but, hopefully, this is our year." He also had words of praise for his defensive partner, Michael Duberry. He's come in for some stick in his time at Leeds, but The Chief said: "Michael was outstanding. He's a pleasure to play alongside because he talks a lot and helps you a lot. He's a big guy and he goes for some of the awkward balls so it means that I don't have to!"

February 17: El Tel was over the moon for the way his makeshift side made it through to the quarter-finals. He said: "We had lads playing out of position, but everyone pitched in and did their bit. Kelly looks terrific in midfield, Wilcox did really well and I thought Dubes and Radebe defended excellently." He admitted that Leeds had a stroke of luck with Palace's disallowed goal: "It looked like the ball went over the line twice, but that's the lucky break we needed and what we have been looking for." He also had special praise for Harry Kewell's goal: "It was a superb effort and it proves that Harry is a worthy match-winner," he said. As for poor old Trev, he's taken it pretty well and given credit to both our scorers: "Gary Kelly's goal was great thinking and Harry Kewell's was special. You don't see that sort of thing in the first division," he said. But he called for the introduction of new technology to rule out the sort of controversy that surrounded their goal: "You can't bring it in for everything, like a handball, but you can ask if it crossed the line or not."

February 17: Sounds like young Tom Newey didn't have the greatest of days on his league debut on Saturday. They went to Swansea - who were sitting on the edge of the relegation zone - and were soundly beaten 2-0. One of the match reports rated him as 5/10 and said: "The proverbial torrid debut for young Tom as he was given the runaround by the bigger, more experienced Williams. But let's not dismiss him after his first League game ever, eh?" Don't know what it is about us and left backs, but he was taking a whole bunch of free kicks, throw-ins and corners - though obviously without the desired final effect - for Cambridge and he's likely to keep his place in the starting line-up for the visit to Bristol City in the Southern semi-final of the LDV Trophy.

February 16: Round Europe time starts off in Spain this week where it was a great week for Valencia in particular. Two second half goals at the Mestalla on Saturday gave them a win over Malaga and brought them level on points with Real Madrid and just two points away from leaders Real Sociedad. With Madrid going to Osasuna - hovering just above the drop zone - they must have been confident about re-establishing a 3 point gap today. But they found themselves a goal down before half-time and then saw Luis Figo receive his marching orders with 30 minutes to go, so no points for them and relief for Osasuna. In tonight's televised game leaders Real Sociedad scored twice in 5 minutes to overturn an early 1-0 deficit at Real Betis. But they then allowed the hosts to equalise with 5 minutes of normal time remaining, and then saw the ref win the "sucker of the week" award for not realising that Betis's Dani was backing in to the Sociedad defence so much he was almost horizontal of his own accord, and when the centreback stepped away to let him fall to the floor, ref Jesus Tellez Sanchez pointed to the spot with three minutes of injury time played to allow the home side to win it. That's just one point from the last nine for Sociedad, but they must be happy that most of their rivals are failing to take too much advantage. Raddy Antic got his first win as new Barca coach in the Barcelona derby, running out 0-2 winners at Espanyol - but they remain in 15th spot.

In Serie A, leaders Inter slipped up at Chievo yesterday, going down to two first half penalties from Corini and only mustering one in reply from Vieri. Juve had a fairly easy 1-2 win at Parma, denting their hosts' European hopes and putting the Old Lady back on top of the table on goal difference. Milan had the chance to join Inter and Juve on 45 points tonight, but looked in danger of blowing their unbeaten home record when they trailed 4th-placed Lazio 0-2 at half time, but Inzaghi got them back into the game on 62 minutes and Rivaldo passed the ball into the net after a great move 8 minutes later to leave the game all square and leaving Lazio still 4 points behind their hosts.

In the Bundesliga, Bayern Munich remain 8 points clear at the top after strolling across town to beat 1860 Munich by 0-5 with Mehmet Scholl bagging a hat-trick and all five of the goals coming in just 22 second-half minutes. Second-placed Dortmund were a goal down to Bochum after 8 minutes and it took them nearly half an hour to get back on terms. The game turned around half-time with Jan Koller putting the home side in front 2 minutes before the interval and Torsten Frings scoring from the spot in the last minute of the half. A further Frings penalty in the second half completed the scoring. Schalke closed the gap on Stuttgart to just one point when they completed a 2-0 win over the third-placed side, climbing over Werder Bremen who lost 1-0 at Nurnberg. Energie Cottbus climbed off the bottom of the table with a 3-0 win over Hannover 96, and they are now level on points with Bayer Leverkusen, for whom a 1-2 home defeat by Hansa Rostock proved to be the final straw for the board who dismissed Klaus Toppmoller - last season's "coach of the year" - today. It was the day-after-Valentines-day massacre in Holland yesterday with FC Zwolle the victims and PSV the assailants - Mateja Kezman had a hat-trick in 25 minutes and PSV went on to beat second-bottom Zwolle 6-0. Ajax - who face Arsenal in the Champions League midweek - nearly slipped up at home to FC Groningen, allowing the visitors to score to pull the game back to 2-1 with 15 minutes to go, but they held on for a win and trail PSV by 4 points. March 23 is going to be the crucial day in the title race when Ajax will go to the Philipsstadion almost certainly needing to win to have a chance of taking the crown. Ajax now lead Feyenoord by 7 points - earlier slips have cost Feyenoord dearly and they look to be out of the running despite a fairly easy 1-4 win over AZ yesterday.

Club Brugge continue to maintain their 14-point cushion at the top in Belgium - an 89th-minute goal for Standard Liege gave the 4-2 scoreline barely deserved respectability in yesterday's game. Nenad Jestrovic of Anderlecht completed his hat-trick with a penalty in their 4-1 win over Antwerp and Lierse remain level on points with Anderlecht with their 3-0 win over bottom club Mechelen. Biggest surprise of the weekend was Charleroi suddenly remembering where the goal is in a 5-0 hammering of Excelsior Mouscron, a hat-trick going to their Congolese striker Boeka Lisasi. They're still adrift and only kept off the bottom by Mechelen's even less impressive form - mebbe we should sign him up!

The Gambrinus Liga got itself underway again this weekend - and the big surprise yesterday saw Sparta Prague go down to the only goal of the game in the last minute at Teplice who move into third place. Slavia closed the gap with a 4-0 hammering of second-bottom Hradec Kralove. Slovan Liberec and Viktoria Zizkov kept up their pursuit of the leaders with wins over Olomouc and Blsany respectively. Bottom side Bohemians scraped a point in a thrilling 3-3 draw at Ceske Budejovice.

February 16: For once the arch anti-Leeds moaner Trevor Francis has some justification for his whinging. Although Leeds took a professional approach into today's game and stood firm - almost - all the time in defence, Palace did have a lot of pressure and made some good chances. And they did have a goal or penalty disallowed towards the end of the first half where the lino claimed he hadn't had a clear view of the ball bouncing behind the line, and Dermot Gallagher said he'd seen no handball (though in fairness Michael Duberry's chest did seem to take the brunt of the impact) and that would have put a totally different complexion on the game. Gary Kelly scored with a free kick taken Palace weren't really ready (though they'd had nearly 10 seconds to set themselves when he curled in his first goal since January 1997). Harry Kewell again took some time to get going but after being wound up a bit by some slightly harsh calls from the ref scored a brilliant solo goal, holding off two Palace defenders and leaving Berthelin with no chance from 18 yards out. In between the two goals, Leeds were unlucky that Julian Gray's shot took such a massive deflection, since Kewell appeared to have it covered as he waited on the line. Anyway, we're through to the next round and await Monday's draw with interest. One downside is that the card Kewell picked up near the start of the second half was his 5th of the season so he must serve a one-match ban which I think means that he misses the trip to Old Trafford.

February 16: Looks like Soccer Australia's new chairman Remo Nogarotto has picked up where Basil Scarsella left off by getting into an argument with Leeds. He told the press that he'd had a major argument with Terry Venables over Harry Kewell's availability for last week's international. He said: "It was a very heated discussion and neither Terry nor I left anything on the table. There was a fair bit of yelling and I think we were at each other for about an hour." Glossing over the fact that Kewell had missed Leeds' two previous games and hadn't even been fit enough to make the bench just 5 days beforehand, Nogarotto said: "I let him know exactly what I thought of his and Leeds' treatment of Harry. They put him under immoral pressure and at first they said he was prohibited from playing in the game full stop." And that differs from Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger's attitude how exactly? He accused Leeds of trying to "bludgeon" Frank Farina into just playing Kewell for a half, and added: "They acted with such arrogance and pressured him so badly and then Harry comes out and plays like that." there's something - maybe we should try to treat him like that all the time and see what happens for Leeds?

February 15: Old boy news today sees Rod Wallace score twice in the first 15 minutes for Gillingham as they went on to beat Grimsby 3-0. Jamie Forrester equalised Scunthorpe's opener for Hull, but the home side scored twice in just over 5 minutes to take the game 3-1.

February 15: Mark Viduka says he's no Pom-basher - but he's enjoying Australia's current run of success against various English teams. He said: "To beat them at home at football is a great result for us. Can we leave you something? Billiards? Only joking!" He went on: "I hope we can keep that momentum going with people now having a good interest in soccer. I really hope we can organise some more good and testing games and that people everywhere can respect us a little bit more in terms of being recognised as a decent team." And he did his bit to avoid kicking us English when we are down - he said: "We might have caught them off-guard a bit on Wednesday but I am sure they will bounce back. Don't be too hard on them!"

February 15: Tel says that it will be tin-hat time for him at Palace tomorrow - but denies that he did anything to be ashamed of in either of his spells with the Eagles. Venables said: "I think it's fair to say [Mark Goldberg] offered me a very, very good contract and I accepted it - I'm guilty of accepting a contract. I wasn't the highest-paid person at the club anyway, and they had just come down from the Premier League, so the wages were high." He also explained that at the time of his earlier departure from Palace to QPR: "They had to sell and we wanted to buy. I knew what I was buying and it was a good position to be in. But they tell me I'm not in for a good reception, so the tin helmet will have to come on again." Venables was assistant coach to Malcolm Allison when they sprung a shock 4th-round defeat on Leeds in 1976. "We had looked at Leeds and we went there with a plan," says Tel. "That same season we also beat Sunderland and Chelsea and we had a really good run in the Cup...They were great times for me at Palace."

February 15: Frazer Richardson faces another anxious wait tomorrow before finding out whether or not he'll be facing Chelsea for Stoke in the Cup. If Leeds are knocked out, then manager Tony Pulis will be able to include him - almost certainly as a starter - in the Stoke side for the game that kicks off just over an hour after Leeds' game at Palace finishes. But if Leeds progress to the quarter-finals, Richardson will not be allowed to play because TV doesn't want him cup-tied in case the current injury crisis gets any worse. Pulis - one-time manager of our previous opponents Gillingham - said: "Frazer has been terrific for us," said Pulis, who does not hold out much hope of being able to make a permanent signing. He's a good young player and we're pleased that Leeds have allowed us to take him on. But I know they rate him as highly as we do and they'll want him back."

February 14: Lucas Radebe is looking on course to partner Michael Duberry in the heart of the defence on Sunday after recovering from a head injury. Paul Okon is a doubt after sustaining a hamstring injury in the midweek international at Upton Park. Alan Smith and Harry Kewell should both be ready, and Nick Barmby has an outside chance of making it into the side after his return to the reserves on Wednesday.

February 14: Tom Newey has finalised a month's loan move to Cambridge. His contract runs out in the summer, so this is his big chance to make a name for himself and he's expected to be in their squad for the Swansea match tomorrow.

February 14: The older folks out there will remember Gordon McQueen and all the furore surrounding his departure to O** T******* in the 1970s. Well now BBC M*nch*st*r are making a programme about betrayal, and McQueen and they are going to film a piece in Peter Lorimer's pub - the Commercial - on the afternoon of 27th February. Thing is, they need some fans who felt betrayed to take part - Gordon and Peter will be involved and you can sup a beer or two into the bargain. If you were one of those tearing your hair out, shouting abuse at the big Jocko Jessie and writing infuriated letters to the YEP - or just suffering in silence, drop a line to take part.

February 14: David Batty is most definitely not a target for Nottingham Forest, despite the latest batch of rumours. Paul Hart has always gone for youth rather than experience (well, Darren Huckerby excepted) and Forest don't intend to spend the money they've made from the sale of David Pruton on a player who realistically only has another season or so in him.

February 13: El Tel can expect a hot reception at Crystal Palace if a net poll is anything to go by (they're always so reliable!). Nine out of ten Palace fans are going to give him a hostile reception to express their unhappiness with the way he handled things at Selhurst Park when he returned in 1998 (although some still had a downer on him for the way he walked off to QPR in the 1970s!). Signed by the hated chairman Mark Goldberg, he proceeded to make some expensive signings - acting as agent for some players - on high wages and then presided over a disastrous slump in form before leaving with a big pay-off.

February 13: Mark Ford is the surprise new signing for Conference ` side Leigh RMI on loan from Darlo for a month. On the permanent move front, reserve striker Caleb Folan has signed for Chesterfield on a free with a two-year contract. Folan hasn't made it into the first team squad for Leeds, and although no money has changed hands, there's a sell-on clause in his contract that will bring Leeds some money in if they manage to sell him at a profit.

February 13: Palace's big Aussie defender Tony Popovic will miss out on Sunday's game after picking up a groin strain in last night's international. Good news for us I guess, but on the positive side for Palace, Finnish international Aki Riihilahti could make a surprise return from a thigh injury which has kept him out for two weeks.

February 13: Bad news for Eirik Bakke now that he's finally had a scan on his injured ankle. The scan showed ligament damage as feared and he could now be out for up to 6 weeks. Looks like we'll need another stand-in striker on Sunday unless Alan Smith gets over his bronchitis. Lucas Radebe might be available to bolster the defence if he gets the all clear from a check-up on his head injury.

February 12: The reserves played out a goalless draw with Sheff Wed tonight - and Batts played the whole match (not that Terry was there to see it - he was at Upton Park of course). Nick Barmby also managed an hour as he returns from injury.

February 12: Ian Harte was the only Leeds player involved in Ireland's 0-2 win against Scotland tonight. Stephen McPhail was on the bench - as was Alan Maybury - but neither player was called into action in what turned into a fairly straightforward win for the visitors. Gary Speed captained Wales to a 2-2 draw against Bosnia-Herzegovina - their ninth unbeaten game in a row, a new national record. They had to come from behind twice to do it, and the match also saw a return to international football for Matthew Jones after a long absence through injury. Raul Bravo missed out on a place in the Spanish squad for the game against Germany because he had a cold.

February 12: England 1 - 3 Australia. Not the greatest of results for England but pretty hopeful from a Leeds point-of-view. Harry Kewell looked very much on form tonight, tormenting the England defence for the first half and leaving Rio sitting in his wake and David James on the floor as he scored the second goal. Let's hope he takes some of that form into Sunday's game - he came off after 55 minutes looking none the worse for wear. Mark Viduka played most of the match (though since he's suspended for the next two games that's fair enough) and held the ball up well, produced some decent lay-offs and required a superb back-pedalling save from David James when he flicked on a well-flighted cross. The first Socceroos goal was scored by the big defender Tony Popovic who plays for Palace, so we'll be seeing him on Sunday unless he's picked up an injury. Paul Okon captained the side and had a fairly quiet but solid game, and in the second half the England side was also captained by a Leeds player - Danny Mills was wearing the armband as the most senior pro when all 11 England players were swapped at half-time. Robbo made a couple of good saves on his England debut, and although he was nutmegged when Brett Emerton tucked away the visitors' third goal, there wasn't a huge amount he could do after being left exposed by a flat-footed defence.

February 12: David Batty is due to finally make an appearance for Leeds tonight in the reserves match at Hillsborough. The stiffs will also include Tom Newey after Cambridge couldn't agree terms to take on the youngster.

February 11: The Youth team came from a goal down to beat Blackburn 3-2 at Elland Road tonight with a hat-trick of penalties from Henry McStay. Two of the three spot kicks were given as a result of fouls on the highly-rated and very nippy Aaron Lennon, and the result puts Leeds into the quarter-finals of the competition against Sunderland or Charlton.

February 11: Rod Wallace scored his 5th goal of the season for Gillingham last night, but a late strike from John Salako on top of an equaliser from on-loan Luke "Plug" Chadwick gave Reading the win and kept up their play-off challenge.

February 11: It's not just the current batch of defenders who are crocked - Bradford's Leeds old boy David Wetherall has finally come through a proper training session after breaking down in the opening game of the season and should be ready for a run-out in the reserves in the next week or two.

February 11: Harry Kewell is set to defy Leeds' club rules and take the field against England at Upton Park tomorrow night. El Tel said: "It's a club rule where if they're not fit on the Saturday they don't play internationals." The man in charge of Leeds' media and external relations showed no sign of having developed a sense of diplomacy since that ridiculous press conference a week or ago. "We recognise Harry Kewell would like to play for Australia, but technically he shouldn't be playing on Wednesday. There will be a problem if he plays and then misses games for Leeds. I don't want to have to say it, but Soccer Australia don't have a lot of money do they?" Mr Pot - meet Mr B Kettle. Paul Okon is allowed to play for his country and is looking forward to the match. He said: "To have the opportunity to play against England is great. If we play well, there is a good chance it will lead to other games in the future against quality opposition. I hope that other top teams will think 'if Australia are good enough opponents for England, then they are good enough for us'." And maybe if those games are in Europe we won't find ourselves in a constant battle with Soccer Australia over releasing the internationals whose wages are paid by Leeds United.

February 11: Cambridge United are said to be on the point of signing young Leeds left back Tom Newey on loan. Newey has played quite a bit for the reserves after graduating from the youth teams, but at the age of 20 needs to start making some serious progress if he is to come into contention at the top level, or he needs to set his sights a little lower. Either way, a move to a lower division side that gives him regular first team football could be a good thing for the player and both clubs. A final decision on the move is expected shortly.

February 11: Lucas Radebe reckons that his international career could very well be over. After making an encouraging return to the Leeds side he's picked up further injuries which have kept him out of contention, and he's currently on a flying visit to South Africa while recuperating from his latest knock to fly the flag and support his country in the cricket World Cup. He said: "It's looking very bleak. I don't know where I stand with the team." He went on: "The coach Ephraim Mashaba has not contacted me since he took over after the World Cup." He opted out of a training camp after suffering concussion in the Gillingham game, and he wasn't alone in avoiding the camp with the likes of Mark Fish and Shaun Bartlett also staying away.

February 10: Leeds old boy Alan Maybury - on the scoresheet for Hearts at the weekend - has been called up into the Ireland squad to face Scotland on Wednesday. This is his first call-up since May 1999 and reflects his good form in Scotland, and is helped by the withdrawal of Robbie Keane, Gary Kelly, Damien Duff and Mark Kennedy from the squad.

February 10: Leeds have received a second batch of tickets for the game at Selhurst Park on Sunday (what - spare tickets for Selhurst? Unheard of!) which will be on sale to Striker members from Wednesday morning.

February 10: James Milner has signed on the dotted line as a professional for Leeds, and his Dad is as happy as the lad himself. "James is over the moon. He thinks it is fantastic. Everything has happened so quickly but he is very level-headed and has taken to it like a duck to water. It has to be good news for James and Leeds, who have had it tough lately. James thinks the world of Terry Venables and is delighted to be involved."

February 10: Dom Matteo's injury from Saturday has turned out to be a torn hamstring - and that will keep him out for up to 6 weeks. Eirik Bakke's possible ankle ligament damage could also be a long-term problem - but the full extent of the damage won't be known until the swelling has gone down and he can have a scan later in the week. Alan Smith seems to have bronchitis now (hence his exclusion from the England squad) and Raul Bravo picked up a foot injury as well.

February 10: The manager was very happy with the way his patched-together side had performed on Saturday. "Situations like this always give players opportunities. If you play badly they say it's a patched up side, but if you play well they say it's good a team effort." He had particular praise for Eirik Bakke's efforts up front, and also for James Milner: "James makes it very balanced. He's not not frightened and his work rate is terrific. His skill comes through and I was very pleased with him." He also became the latest in a long line of top managers to come up with sympathy for Glenn Roeder. "You have to say well done to the way Glenn has handled things. They looked a very strong side and their bench was also strong. They need a good result to pick things up because they are one of those sides who are capable of beating anyone on their day."

February 10: Leeds Ladies got back to winning ways with a 4-3 win over Tranmere on Sunday. Recent signing Sarah Abrahams scored the winner - but Leeds were once again forced to replace the keeper when Clare Farrow - in for Leanne Hall after she sustained a broken leg in the last match - was kicked in the face and needed stitches towards the end of the game.

February 09: In response to what I've been writing and what Bucky has put forward over the last couple of weeks, here are a couple more voices putting their views forward on the current state of the club. Drop me a line with your thoughts if you want to get something off your chest.

February 09: The Sunday night Euro round-up starts in Italy. If you've got satellite or cable you're probably used to ignoring British Eurosport for most of the year (unless you're a ski or tennis fan) until the Tour de France comes on in the summer. Well, they're now carrying a live game from Serie A every week and tonight's match didn't look that promising but ended up being a five goal thriller. Atalanta looked to be doing an excellent job of dragging themselves away from the relegation zone with two first half goals from Alex Pinardi, but two Signori penalties in five second half minutes brought Bologna back on terms, and a late save from ManU reject Massimo Taibi kept Atalanta in it with injury time beckoning. But with nearly 5 extra minutes played, Fausto Rossini got the very last touch of the game as he poked the ball into the Bologna net. At the top, Inter are now three points clear following two goals from Sierra Leone international Mohammed Kallon on top of an early Christian Vieri strike that gave them a 3-0 win at home to Reggina. Milan blew their chance to keep up when they lost 1-0 at Perugia, and there's absolutely nothing - not points, goal difference or goals scored - separating them from Juve who struggled to a 1-0 win over Empoli courtesy of a David Trezeguet penalty yesterday. Of the chasing pack, Lazio and Chievo both drew, and Olivier Dacourt doesn't seem to be having much of a positive influence at AS Roma: they remain in the bottom half of the table and needed a last-minute equalizer to draw 1-1 at Modena.

The gap at the top of the Primera Liga is now down to two points after Real Sociedad followed up last week's defeat by Athletic Bilbao with a goalless draw at home to struggling Espanyol. Real Betis took a 0-1 lead into the interval in the Bernabeu, but goals from Raul, Figo, Zidane and Ronaldo (not a bad bunch!) went unanswered in the second half to give Real Madrid a 4-1 victory yesterday. Recreativo Huelva may be doomed at the bottom of the table but they still managed to take the lead against Valencia and hold out until the 85th minute before Fabio Aurelio equalized, and 4th-placed Deportivo La Coruna also came from behind for a 1-1 draw in the Riazor against Osasuna. Rayo Vallecano remain second bottom but narrowed the odds on reaching safety with a 2-1 home win over Malaga. Finally, tonight's televised game from the Nou Camp saw Barca with a new coach - Raddy Antic and no president following the departure of Joan Gaspart in the week. The fans were smiling after quarter of an hour when Marc Overmars made it 2-0 to the home side, but one-time Leeds transfer target Juan Pablo Sorin gave away a penalty just after half time that allowed visitors Bilbao back into the match, and just a few minutes later they were all square when Yeste despatched the ball from 6 yards from a deflected free kick. Barca are now in 15th place - and just 2 points away from the relegation zone - and Antic must be wondering what he's let himself in for.

In the Bundesliga, the hand-it-on-a-plate-to-Bayern campaign continues apace. Although a last minute goal from Naohiro Takahara of Hamburg pegged them back to a 1-1 draw at home today, second-placed Dortmund lost 1-0 at third-placed VfB Stuttgart and Werder Bremen blew a 1-0 lead at home to lose 1-2 to 1860 Munich. At the bottom, Energie Cottbus managed to scrape a point in a goalless draw at Hansa Rostock, allowing Kaiserslautern to creep ahead of them on goal difference with a 2-0 win over third-bottom Moenchengladbach. There's no let-up for Leverkusen though - their 2-1 defeat at Bochum leaves them just one point clear of the drop zone.

After a midweek round of games in addition to this weekend's matches, a gap is starting to appear at the top of the table in France. Olympique Marseille were the only team of the leading trio to win both matches - yesterday's 0-2 win over AC Ajaccio keeping up the momentum from their 2-0 win over Le Havre. Monaco's excellent 2-0 win over Lyon on Tuesday was followed by a goalless draw at Rennes yesterday, and they now trail Marseille by two points. Nice are in third place after conceding the only goal of the game after three minutes at Troyes on Wednesday and then taking a 2-1 lead with 10 men against Sochaux yesterday before conceding an equalizing penalty 10 minutes from the end. At the bottom it seems as if I've written off Montpellier too early: their 1-3 win at PSG yesterday on top of a 2-1 win over Strasbourg midweek has brought them to the brink of escaping the drop zone, but despite Troyes following up their midweek win with another good result - a goalless draw with Lyon - they remain 4 points adrift of the rest and at least 7 away from safety.

In Holland PSV extended their lead with a 0-1 win at RKC Waalwijk while second-placed Ajax drew 1-1 at home to third-placed Feyenoord. Heerenveen did their goal difference a power of good with a 5-0 hammering of AZ Alkmaar, but they remain firmly in the middle of the table and out of reach of Europe next season.

In the Jupiler League Brugge have a 14-point gap at the top and were already 42 points ahead of KV Mechelen, so a win at the bottom side was no surprise, and the 0-8 scoreline - helped by the home team being reduced to 10 men when they were just 0-4 down after 37 minutes might seem excessive but can't have left many shocked. Anderlecht, Lierse and Lokeren kept up their token pursuit of Brugge with wins at Gent, Westerlo and La Louviere respectively, but St-Truidense slipped off the pace with a 2-1 defeat at Beveren. The match to see while sipping a nice Trappist ale this weekend was the visit of Excelsior Mouscron to Genk: the visitors led 0-1 and 3-4 but the home side ended up with a 5-4 win thanks to 4 goals from Wesley Sonck.

February 09: DOL is the latest person to point out how much the furore surrounding Leeds' player sales has taken the pressure off the current manager. He said: "I don't think Terry can lose now. The pressure has been taken off and everything has been deflected away from him. I don't think he can go wrong, no matter what he does. I hope he does well as I want the players to do well."

February 09: Danny Mills and Paul Robinson are the only two Leeds names in the squad to face Australia on Wednesday. Alan Smith's claims to a place are ignored in the face of such compelling success stories as Darius Vassell and Francis "Whoops I've Tripped Again" Jeffers.

February 09: David Batty has played his last game for Leeds, according to caretaker boss Eddie Gray. He played well enough earlier on this season but had started to look a bit lost for pace before picking up his latest injury (though he's still an order of magnitude more useful than Jody Morris). Gray said: "I have made a decision that I will not be using David again this season and I have done that purely from a footballing point of view." Batty's agent Hayden Evans said: "David was asked into a meeting and told of the decision. As you can understand, he is extremely disappointed."

February 08: 1800 and I've just heard news of police having to move in to clear a demonstration against the board by Leeds fans after the game at Elland Road. More news when I get it.

February 08: Harry Kewell failed a fitness test just before kick-off and with Vidooks suspended, Michael Bridges a long-term injury and Alan Smith not over the flu yet, we were completely out of strikers today. So James Milner and Eirik Bakke were our two notional front men against West Ham, but it was Seth Johnson finally looking like he's put months of injury behind him with a 20th minute strike. Lee Bowyer had a mixed reception - more pantomime villain than outright hatred - and got the biggest cheer when he was booked for dissent early in the second half. Freddy Kanoute's off-the-ball assault on Seth Johnson was eventually spotted by the officials and resulted in a red card. It was bad news at the end of the game though as Dominic Matteo overstretched to make a clearance and tweaked his hamstring. He was carried off and Matthew Kilgallon came on to make his league debut and with injury time underway, Eirik Bakke went down with a leg injury on the edge of the area and was replaced by Jamie McMaster.

February 08: Old boys news today sees Alan Maybury open the scoring for Hearts at home to Kilmarnock, with Jambos going on to win 3-0. Bad news for Stockport player-manager Carlton Palmer - two first half yellow cards gave him the chance to watch the remainder of the game from the stands - but they scored twice in the last 15 minutes to beat Cheltenham 0-2. Warren Feeney scored the only two goals of the game in three second half minutes for Bournemouth at home to Wrexham. JFH scored Chelsea's third from the spot as they casually dismantled Brum 1-3 at St Andrews.

February 08: Paul Okon will captain Australia in the friendly against England at Upton Park next week - but there are doubts about Harry Kewell's fitness and availability. Frank Farina wants to see Kewell beforehand anyway - he said: "I expect him to join our pre-game training camp on Sunday and then we'll see. If it helps I'll call Terry personally."

February 08: Danny Mills has joined Alan Smith in agreeing a new long-term deal with Leeds United. He's agreed all the key points of the deal and will be on a similar package to Smith - around £30,000 a week (not the 40K that Smithy was originally said to be getting) - in a deal that could keep him at Elland Road through to 2008. James Milner is also on the point of signing a professional contract with the club that should give him at least 20 times his current £80 a week.

February 08: The Football Fans Census is trying to gather your thoughts and opinions - at the moment they're interested in what you all think about how much players get paid and whether a salary cap might work. Why not visit their site and fill in their survey.

February 07: Rio Ferdinand has hit out at Peter Ridsdale after keeping pretty quiet about his transfer for the last 6 months. He said: "I didn't want to say anything then, and don't have to now because the situation has taken care of itself and the real reasons are coming out. I laughed when I read that about being a stand-in." In today's Guardian, Danny Mills asked fans to back the chairman and understand that he could not be expected to shoulder all the blame for the team's failures this season. "Financial realities have affected Leeds, but it is unfair that the chairman is taking the majority of the stick." He went on: "The board - not just the chairman - have had a very difficult decision to make and hopefully time will prove them right."

February 07: Seth Johnson has asked Leeds fans to lay off Lee Bowyer when he returns to Leeds for the first time tomorrow. Johnson said: "It will be interesting. I'd love to play against him, but we will have to see what happens. I just hope he gets a good reception because he did well for us in his time here, but I don't know how the fans will react to him." For the visitors, Freddie Kanoute is due back from yet another injury, and Don Hutchison's midweek goal for the reserves must also give him a chance of taking some part. Rufus Brevett will make his full debut following his arrival from Fulham, but Nigel Winterburn's wrist injury keeps him out and Ian Pearce - like Alan Smith - is doubtful with flu. For Leeds, Mark Viduka starts a three match ban, and with Harry Kewell's hamstring still raising questions about his availability we could see a front pairing of Eirik Bakke and Jason Wilcox. Lucas Radebe's concussion rules him out, and Teddy Lucic is equally unlikely to be available. So we should see a return to right back for Gary Kelly, Raul Bravo's debut at left back and Michael Duberry coming in to join Danny Mills at centreback. The midfield will be anyone who happens to be fit - bring your boots!

February 07: Terry Venables defended skipper Dom Matteo's decision to quit international football today, saying: "It's obviously something that has been playing on his mind, and I think it's that one too far for Dom. I think he has been a bit embarrassed he has had to pull out on occasions. But Berti Vogts has been excellent because he has accepted it when he has done so." Speaking about Matteo's ongoing knee injury, he said: "We give him rest, and he then plays. At some stage if it doesn't go away then it will have to be looked at a lot more closely. He'll see a specialist, but that will be at the end of the season. Until then he will be able to play at times and maybe he will have to rest."

February 07: The reserves went down 2-1 at Blackburn last night, with Jamie McMaster pulling the goal back for Leeds after the hosts had scored two quick goals at the end of the first half.

February 06: Frazer Richardson has extended his loan spell at Stoke by a further month after settling in well and getting some good first team experience.

February 06: Lucas Radebe has declined to join up with the South African national squad for a training camp. For those of us who have seen how he finished the last couple of games that's no surprise and Bafana Bafana coach Ephraim Mashaba has said he won't be taking any action against the players who have not responded to the call. He said: "This is disappointing but life will have to go on. If they don't want to come then we'll have to give others a chance. We have talent in abundance in this country."

February 06: Dominic Matteo has announced his retirement from international football - at the age of 28 and after winning just six caps. National coach Bert Vogts said: "Dominic was very open with me about the problems he faces. He has a long term knee injury which has already caused him to withdraw from several squads over the past year. It is very disappointing that he has come to this decision, as I know he was very keen to play for Scotland and he could have played a key role in my team. I hope that he is able to get the best specialist treatment for his injury." He's been in and out of the Leeds team with this very injury for some time, and it flared up after the Everton game. Makes the decision to sell Jon Woodgate look even more dubious really...

February 06: Frank Farina has denied that there is any rift between Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka, despite the press-driven "spat" between the two a couple of months ago. The Socceroos' coach said: "They are a pleasure to deal with both on and off the field. Obviously they are both different characters, but that is what a team structure is made of... I can only reiterate that in my time in charge over the last three-and-half-years they have been a pleasure to deal with." Viduka is suspended from domestic football - but it's thought likely that he will play in the friendly between England and Australia at Upton Park next Wednesday.

February 06: Raul Bravo has been awarded the number 11 shirt - Lee Bowyer's old number - and will go straight into the squad for Saturday's game against West Ham. He said that Steve McManaman - who is a close friend and former team-mate of Robbie Fowler and Dom Matteo - had told him enough about Leeds to sell him on the prospect of playing at Elland Road. Although he's playing for the Spanish national side, Roberto Carlos is keeping him out at Real Madrid, and he made it clear why he was coming on loan: "I need to play to continue being a regular in the Spanish side, and if I don't do that Inaki Saez might not count on me any longer [for the national side]. There is no option to buy, in June I will return to Madrid. I never contemplated joining Leeds permanently." But he added: "If I am still not a regular when I return, I won't mind going back out on loan, but the only thing I want is to be a first- team regular at Real Madrid for many years." So we're second fiddle to Real Madrid - but that's no great embarrassment.

February 06: More brilliant handling of the fans by the club last night. Just as the meeting of LUISA, LUST and other interested fans was about to start, Operations Director David Spencer presented guest speaker Bill Gerrard with a solicitor's letter to stop him saying anything too derogatory about the club. The financial expert was reportedly fuming about the obvious affront to his integrity, but spoke anyway outlining the challenges faced by football clubs in general, and how the financial side of the game has changed. LUST chairman John Boocock wasn't impressed with the club's approach either, but has agreed to help facilitate meetings between the disparate fans' organisations and Peter Ridsdale over the next few weeks to allow the chairman to put the board's point of view.

February 05: Peter Ridsdale this afternoon said that he was planning to organise a series of meetings with fans - as well as shareholders - after the half-year results come out next month so that he can explain to everyone face-to-face what it means for the club. This is a welcome step forward - if somewhat belated - but once again you've got to question why they haven't been doing this as an ongoing process with the Supporters Club, the Fans Forum or even through the programme, the web site or the press. But then communications and external relations don't seem to be our strong point, despite having a director in charge of that AND Max Clifford to boot.

February 05: Our next FA Cup opponents will be Crystal Palace away at Selhurst Park on February 16. The game is a 1300 KO and will be on Sky. Palace had battled well to get a replay at Anfield - and surprised a lot of people with a decent performance that saw them take the lead, lose a player and then extend that lead and hold on to win 0-2. Despite everything else, this season could turn out to be a good year in the cup for us, because there will only be ManU or Arsenal and Chelsea left of the "big" clubs for the quarter-finals. Could even give us a back door into the UEFA Cup - now that would be a bit of a boost!

February 05: Leeds have made a new signing - to the board! Prof John McKenzie is an authority on investment in the Far East and it's hoped he'll bring his expertise and understanding of those markets to the club and help build the Leeds United "brand" out there - attract some fans away from the red-following sheep and turn their support into a bit more income for the club.

February 05: Will there be a protest on Saturday after all? Last night's muted reaction suggested that the furore over the way the board has "managed" the club of late is on the wane. But the newly-formed Leeds United Independent Supporters Association (not to be confused with the Leeds United Supporters Club, the Leeds United Fans Forum, the Leeds United Supporters Trust and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Leeds United) was having a meeting tonight to discuss what can be done to show the fans' anger at the way the board has treated us. Peter Ridsdale said that he'd have like to have said more and explained some of the details behind the recent financial implosion but was prevented from doing so by Stock Exchange rules since the plc are close to issuing the half-year results. Doesn't explain why he said nowt in the last 4-5 months of course, but it's nice to know he's thinking of us.

February 05: Jon Woodgate will not be facing Leeds this season - despite the fact that he is likely to be fit by the time Newcastle come to Elland Road. Leeds and Newcastle agreed a clause in the contract that Woody would not play against Leeds - offering us one last chance to take advantage of their leaky defence and heading off the focus of some likely protests and anger for the Leeds fans. Leeds tried to get West Ham to agree to the same clause for Lee Bowyer - but they weren't having it, so expect a traditional Yorkshire welcome for the midfielder on Saturday.

February 04: With 4 Johnsons in the squads for tonight's game it could have been a commentators' nightmare - but there was no real fast and frenetic action until the last couple of minutes. Alan Smith was out with the flu so we started with Eirik Bakke up front alongside Mark Viduka, and with Lucas Radebe and Dom Matteo both hauling their injury-ridden frames out in support of the cause. Both went off injured - Lucas in the first half and Dom towards the end and we've got to keep our fingers crossed for the weekend. Vidooks turned deftly and hammered home a sharp riposte to the Gills fans who were trying to get on his back, and Eirik Bakke headed home an Ian Harte free kick to allow Leeds to cruise towards an easy win. Then we nearly blew it - with Danny Mills outpaced for the second time in four days, this time by Guy Ipoua latching on to a through ball and lofting it past Robbo, who really should have stayed on his line. A mishit clearance deep into stoppage time by Doobs gave them a gilt-edged chance to take the match into extra time but they spooned it wide. Not much protesting during the game, a hundred-odd disgruntled fans in the West Stand car park after the game, but with a crowd of nearly 30,000 the board must be hoping they've ridden the storm and are over the worst.

February 04: It was confirmed today that Alan Smith had signed on the dotted line in a deal that will keep him at Elland Road until 2006. The deal is understood to be worth up to £40,000 a week to the striker.

February 04: Robbie Fowler's arrival at Maine Road means that there's no space for Darren Huckerby anymore, and it's Paul Hart who is the front-runner for his services. Huckerby is set to join Forest on a 3-month loan on February 24 - so that he's there through to the end of the play-offs - but Kevin Keegan is thought to be ready to let him start training at the City Ground sooner than that. The sales of Jermaine Jenas last year and David Pruton just before the transfer deadline, combined with Hart's astute development of young talent have got Forest back on an even keel financially and they look to have a good chance of promotion this time round.

February 04: Alan Sugar has urged Leeds not to sack El Tel - because that's what he reckons the manager wants to happen. Sugar can hardly be seen as an impartial observer in this case, and his feud with Venables at Spurs was very public and very well-documented. He said: "The dilemma for Venables is how to get out with a pay-off... Although Tel says he's staying, I wouldn't hold your breath, Peter - and whatever happens, don't get sucked into sacking him." Like Ridsdale, Sugar received threats from disgruntled Spurs supporters, but unlike Ridsdale he supervised the renovation of White Hart Lane, sorted out a brand new training complex and refused to get sucked into a massive wages and transfer fee spiral, leaving the club in a far better financial state than when he took over. Okay, so they haven't made it to any Euro semi-finals but they did manage to actually win a trophy while he was in charge, which is more than you can say for us. Getting back to slaughtering the manager, Sugar said: "His results since August have been useless. With tens of millions of pounds worth of players bought by David O'Leary at Venables' disposal the fact is he couldn't get them to perform. Secretly some players might be asking themselves what's so good about him? ...For the first time in his life he was stuck, the so-called tactical genius, with one of the best squads in the league." And he continued: "Ridsdale saying he misled Tel over the Jonathan Woodgate sale, has handed him a golden excuse on a plate. Again he has pulled off a masterstroke of deflection." As I said, he's hardly impartial, but his comments do add a little counterweight to the "Poor Old Terry" stories that the press have been peddling for the last week.

February 04: Robbie Fowler is the latest voice urging Leeds fans to lay off Peter Ridsdale. He said: "I was upset to hear he has received death threats over the transfers - that sort of thing can't be right. It's obviously a very difficult situation, but I think the chairman was trying to do the best for Leeds and the fans in the long run." Hear hear Robbie. But he still won't admit the extent of the mistakes and mismanagement that we've finally seen revealed.

February 03: Team news ahead of tomorrow night's FA Cup match has Leeds in serious defensive difficulty. The knee which kept Dom Matteo out for so long has flared up again, and he's being kept out as a precaution, Teddy Lucic is out with concussion and Lucas Radebe slipped on ice while putting the bins out (yes really) so the defence will almost certainly be Gary Kelly, Danny Mills, Michael Duberry and Ian Harte with Matthew Kilgallon in with an excellent chance of making the bench at least. Up front, Harry Kewell has a tight hamstring and has had a precautionary scan, so he might miss out too.

February 03: Peter Ridsdale continues to be the target of abuse and threats from Leeds fans - again. Whatever we think of the way he's managed the club, threats of violence and abuse of the man's family have no place in the fans' legitimate protest and I can't speak lowly enough of the people who stoop to such behaviour. A few ideas have been floated for a major protest on Saturday, including throwing your Keane/Bowyer/Woodgate/Fowler shirts onto the pitch, and photoshopping some fivers and tenners so that we can hand out free "Bank of Rid-sale" notes to all and sundry at the game. If the board are to remain in place, they need to come out with a very clear statement on what is really going on at the club and why they viewed the fire sale as necessary (and more to the point, why it seemed to take us unawares). It seems to be the case that Leeds are/were making a considerable operating loss and ultimately that, plus the need to find some cash to pay off the second instalments on Fowler and Johnson as well as - hopefully - make something available for team strengtening and the lower-than-expected income from TV and Europe as a result of poor performances all combined to back us into a corner. But all of that could have been communicated to the fans months ago, and the impression we're left with is of a board burying its head in the sand and being surprised when the money suddenly dried up. Somebody somewhere must take responsibility, and until a hand is raised they can expect the fans' protests to continue.

February 03: DOL has settled the dispute with Leeds over his sacking last summer. Leeds are paying DOL compensation plus undisclosed legal costs and have vowed to put the episode behind them and not drag it out into the public arena again. A joint statement said: "The club completely disassociates itself from stories in the press implying that there was any financial impropriety on David's part concerning his dealings on behalf of the club. Leeds United and David wish each other every success in the future. David in particular would like to record his thanks to the fans of the club for their support." Yet another issue with a line drawn under it and all the financial aspects closed out. Wonder how much of Woody's fee went on that particular deal?

February 03: Smithy's agent says that his client still wants to stay at Leeds despite the recent turmoil and that he's on the point of signing a new deal that could be worth around £40,000 a week and committing himself to the club through to 2006. This would be a great boost to the club - but there is one worry here, and that's the fact that we seem to be boosting the players' wages shortly after clearing a few high-earners off the salary bill. And when the club is consistently making an operating loss - with salaries a large proportion of the expenses - the last thing we need is to push the wage bill back up.

February 03: Harry Kewell's agent Bernie Mandic has said that his client was happy at Leeds and wasn't looking for a move - despite delays in signing a contract extension that was said to be imminent three weeks ago. Mandic said: "Harry still wants to stay at Leeds. He is having a very good season there so why would he want to leave?... As a team unit, everything is fine there and I have not heard anything to the contrary."

February 03: El Tel has told the squad he will see out the current campaign - although there are rumours doing the rounds that the board has already sounded out a successor and were not at all happy with his public expression of internal conflict. Venables said: "I have had a few things to get off my chest and I've done that now. I think what I have decided is the grown up thing to do." And he went on: "I know how the fans feel and I think we have got a lot in common in that area. I'd now like the fans to do what they have been doing all year and support the team - as they have been doing - because they have been magnificent."

February 03: Mark Viduka's appeal against the red card he received courtesy of Andy Hessenthaler's theatrics has been lost, so he now faces an imminent three match ban.

February 03: Leeds Ladies suffered a double blow at the weekend. They went down 3-0 at home to Villa in the cup and lost keeper Leanne Hall for the rest of the season into the bargain. Leeds were already a goal down when Hall collided with a Villa player and a defender, and with no keeper among the three on the bench Leeds were forced to reshuffle and conceded two further goals despite enjoying a good deal of possession. Leeds can now concentrate on the league - after last season's good start in the top flight, Leeds are 7th this year but should be safe from relegation (a bit like the men's team really).

February 02: More thoughts from Bucky on the Woodgategate scandal at Leeds - read them here. Thanks for all the feedback on his previous piece - and on what I've had to say over these last few days. If any of you out there want to put together a few coherent thoughts and share them with Leeds fans all over the world, why not drop me a line.

February 02: Sunday night is round-Europe night where we see how all those clubs we've no chance of playing again for a couple of years are doing.

Starting in Spain we see that Real Sociedad's unbeaten record finally ended at the hands of Athletic Bilbao. After an unprecedented 19 game run from the start of the season, they crashed 3-0 in Bilbao tonight. However nearest rivals Real Madrid could only close in by one point - and they were lucky to manage that much after Espanyol went 2-0 up by half-time. Roberto Carlos and Luis Figo scored the goals that brought Madrid back into the match but they still trail Sociedad by 4 points. Valencia's 1-0 win over Real Mallorca brought them to within a point of Madrid, and second-half goals from Diego Tristan and Roy Makaay gave Deportivo La Coruna a 0-2 win at Real Betis, leapfrogging their hosts into 4th place into the bargain. Barca's freefall continued with a 3-0 reversal at Atletico Madrid: the Catalan side are now just three points above the drop zone, although the table is very tight in the middle and a run of victories could lift them into contention for a UEFA Cup place.

Andrea Pirlo and Filippo Inzaghi took Milan temporarily clear at the top of Serie A this afternoon with a 2-1 win at home to Modena, but Buruk Okan and Christian Vieri netted against bottom side Torino to restore points parity for Inter this evening. Juve were a goal down at Atalanta before coming back for a 1-1 draw, but that leaves them 3 points adrift of the two Milan sides, and 4 points clear of Lazio who had Diego Simeone to thank for a late equaliser as they were held 1-1 in the Bentegodi by Chievo.

Bayern Munich were surprisingly held to a goalless draw by Arminia Bielefeld yesterday and with Werder Bremen slipping to a 1-0 defeat at Hamburg, that allowed Borussia Dortmund to climb up to second place thanks to a 2-0 win at home to Bayer Leverkusen, who now sit just a point clear of the drop zone. A win would have propelled Schalke into third spot, but despite leading twice they could only draw 2-2 at home to bottom side Kaiserslautern - the once high-flying side now look racing certainties for the drop.

Just three points separate the top seven teams in France, and Monaco, Nice and Marseille are only split by goal difference at the very peak. Marseille have been pulled back into the pack following their 3-1 defeat at Bordeaux, but both Monaco and Nice were at home and took all three points with a 3-0 win over Sedan and 1-0 over Guingamp respectively. Auxerre could go top if they win their game in hand, and although they were rueing their midweek 2-0 reversal at Bastia they had a 2-0 home win over Sochaux this weekend. Our friends from Troyes are now two points adrift at the bottom - and 12 points away from any sort of safety - as they and Montpelier are falling away from the pack and look as if they won't be able to escape relegation.

Snow and rain disrupted the programme in Holland this weekend - but that didn't stop PSV maintaining their lead with a 3-0 win over RBC on Friday night. Ajax kept up the pressure with a 0-6 hammering of Willem II, and Feyenoord are solid but off the pace in third following their 4-2 win over Twente Enscheden.

Nothing from Belgium this week - the entire league programme was cancelled due to the adverse weather conditions.

February 02: Gillingham went down 3-0 at Preston yesterday and injuries picked up in that game will almost certainly rule out Barry Ashby with a broken bone in his foot and Paul Shaw with a tweaked hamstring, while captain Paul Smith is hopeful that he will be fit enough for the Elland Road game after sustaining a knock on his knee.

February 02: After the fans made their views clear yesterday, there has been support for El Tel - and condemnation of the Leeds board - from other quarters today. Johnny Giles said: "Leeds' actions in all of this have been a disgrace. They have been totally irresponsible and have misled everybody." And he reflected the opinion that was widely voiced at Goodison Park yesterday, asking: "I wonder if Peter Ridsdale has any real say in the buying and selling at the club?" Giles reckons that season ticket holders should get a refund on the grounds that the tickets were bought under the misapprehension that Leeds wouldn't be selling off players left right and centre and would be able to challenge for the Champions League places. And he finishes his condemnation of the money men, saying: "The board do not appear to be pursuing a steady policy. They spent a lot of money, it didn't work out and now they are going the totally opposite way of selling all their players." George Graham has also come out in sympathy for Venables and questions the board's failure to include the manager in the decision to sell Jon Woodgate. He said: "It wouldn't surprise me if the board wanted Terry to resign... On Wednesday they told him that if Robbie Fowler went Jonathan Woodgate could stay, yet within a day they sold Woodgate without asking for his opinion." GG questions whether some of the better players will want to stay with the club apparently in a financial tailspin and added: "If you were a Leeds fan you would be wondering what will happen in the summer because they have sold quality players and have no real hope of challenging for a Champions League place for a couple of years at least."

February 02: Not much old-boy action yesterday. Craig Farrell was on the mark again for Carlisle, scoring their equaliser at Bristol Rovers as they came from behind to win 1-2 despite being reduced to 10 men. And Warren Feeney got a very very late winner for Bournemouth at home to Boston. The Cherries had been a goal down going into injury time before Neil Redfearn scored an og to square things up in the third extra minute. The ref still hadn't seen enough though, and Feeney's winner came in the seventh minute of stoppage time to take all three points.

February 02: Will he stay or will he go? The manager that is... El Tel says that he's not yet made up his mind about his future but seems to be staying at least for the next few days. "I need a few days to sort the thing out and that is not possible at the moment because of the games we have coming up," he said. It seems pretty clear that if he does stay we will either need a new chairman or see Peter Ridsdale put in a lot of work to regain his manager's trust and confidence. Venables said: "The chairman said on Friday that he has handled the sale of Jonathan Woodgate as he thinks it should have been handled. But I feel I was kept in the dark. So if the right way to handle it is to keep me out of it, then I'm not the right man to manage Leeds United." More worryingly he added: "After selling Robbie Fowler to Manchester City I was led to believe we had enough money in the bank. So why the sudden change? And why wasn't it discussed with me?" We're forced to draw the inescapable conclusion that Peter Ridsdale either doesn't know what's going on himself and is no longer in charge of events at the club, or that he doesn't trust the manager (or indeed anyone) and is quite happy to lie to Venables and anyone else who gets in his way. He didn't sound at all happy when interviewed after the game yesterday, but Venables said: "I am not going to be pushed into making a judgment on my future. Hasty decisions are often the wrong ones. I want to get this right."

February 01: On the field we were not remotely impressive today, barely forcing a single save out of Richard Wright ("just as well cos he's crap" said a few Evertonians in the Head of Steam afterwards). The Leeds support was magnificent in both getting behind the team and pointing out the treachery of the board. "Support the team, sack the board" went the chants. "One ****ing liar - there's only one ****ing liar" we sang at Ridsdale. Add in a few "Where's our money gone" and "No surrender to the plc" songs and you're just about there. Best atmosphere at a match for ages - and a long way from the silence at Gillingham. "Lies United" said one banner. Ridsdale has said that he'd go if it was made clear that the fans no longer wanted him. After today it's pretty clear what our opinion of the man is and what his immediate future should involve. As for the squad, it was a disappointing second half after a battling first period, and although Everton were a bit lucky to get a penalty for what looked like a tangle of legs (in yet another episode of Radzinski Falls To Earth) we never made enough in front of goal to justify a point never mind three. Still, there's always the FA Cup as an avenue to success....

February 01: Jon Woodgate spoke about the decisions he'd had to make to tear himself away from Elland Road. "I've been at Leeds since I was 13 and loved it there - I made some good friends but I've moved on now," he said. He went on: "I'd like to thank all of the players, the staff, Mr Venables and the brilliant Leeds fans for some great memories in the first part of my career. Also I would like to pay special thanks to the chairman, Mr Ridsdale, who has continually stood by me." On that front you're probably alone at the moment Jon but I'm sure our opinion of the lying two-faced tosser will moderate in time.

February 01: So Peter Ridsdale has hired some bodyguards because he's had a death threat or two! If you're responsible for these stupid warnings to the chairman give it a rest - it only serves to make him feel more important and vital to the club's success. If we ignore him he might go away. The ever-shy Max Clifford said: "It's frightening. this is the horrible face of football and I feel for him and his family.There have been messages like, 'You won't be around much longer' and the club have taken it seriously." Well, sorry Peter but you won't be around for much longer - and that;s not a threat of violence, merely a statement of fact.

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