I'm not online 100% of the time (and even if I were, my bosses would take a dim view of me spending time updating the web pages in real time), so for the absolute latest news, check out the "professional" links.
April 30: Danny Mills reckons that the team's form is one of the main reasons he has lost his England place to Gary Neville. On the FA's website he says: "I thought I had done enough during the World Cup to hold my place for the qualifying games, but it wasn't to be." It's true that it was criminal for him to be dropped so soon after the World Cup when he was clearly the form player, but to be quite honest, Sven and Tord Grip will have seen the same games that we've been watching all season, and there's no way that Mills should be in the starting XI on current form. Mills added: "It is the manager's choice which is something I have to live with. I have got to prove that I am a better player and deserve the place more than he does." Great idea Danny, why not start on Sunday at Highbury?
April 30: Ian Harte and Robbie Keane were both playing for Ireland in tonight's 1-0 friendly win over Norway in Dublin. There was no Eirik Bakke for Norway due to a recurrence of his ankle injury - and no Gary Kelly and Stephen McPhail for Ireland either: Kelly and Bakke will be struggling to get fit in time for Sunday's trip to Highbury. Olivier Dacourt appeared in a pretty strong French side that demolished Egypt 5-0.
April 30: Leeds have announced that they will continue to use Wakefield's Belle Vue stadium for their home reserve games next season. There have been some big gates there over this season, with the average attendance being nearly double what the previous couple of years at York's Bootham Crescent have seen.
April 30: Mark Viduka was named Opta Player of the Month for April following his hot goal-scoring streak in which he scored 8 times in 5 games.
April 30: Have you got an old football shirt sitting at the back of a drawer somewhere, unloved and unworn? If you're not an inveterate hoarder like me you'll probably have a couple and if you want to free up some space but can't be bothered to ebay them away then why not support The Shirt Amnesty, as backed by our very own Lucas Radebe? Basically they're collecting shirts to send to projects helping deprived children in South Africa get a bit more out of life through sport. So grab that shirt and stick it in the post to: Shirt Amnesty, Locker Freight Ltd, Haleview Road, Huyton, Liverpool L36 6DD.
April 29: I'm reliably informed that Sunday's trip to Arsenal will be Jimmy Saville Day. If you remember the last game of the season last year at Derby, the Maverick Whites turned up in force all dressed as Elvis. Well this year the theme is the immortal silver-haired children-fixer - so cigars and medallions at the ready for the big day on Sunday.
April 29: We made both the front and back pages of the London Evening Standard today as it reported that more cost-cutting measures were inevitable, including more redundancies and a reduction in the number of company cars. Now I can understand why a couple of our scouts, possibly a couple of the sales and marketing people - and maybe the manager - might need a company car (though on Premier League manager wages you'd expect to be able to fund a set of wheels yourself). But why on earth are there 76 (yes, that's SEVENTY SIX) employees of LUFC deemed worthy of the perk that is the company car? Let's hope the man from Ernst and Young has a slightly firmer grasp on reality and value-for-money than his predecessor.
April 29: The Ridsdale era gets ever more distant at Elland Road. Finance Director Stephen Harrison today resigned from the board. Being a little harsh I could say that you'd have thought he'd have been the first rather than one of the last out the door but there you go. A senior director of Ernst and Young - who specialises in corporate recovery - will take his place while a replacement is found, but do spare a thought for the financial genius who has made such a difference at Elland Road and now finds himself surplus to requirements with a pifflingly small pay-off of £224,000 to tide him over. Meanwhile the good Prof has announced that he will be taking direct day-to-day control of the club's affairs. The chairman said: "I will be taking full control of the club, at least the non-football part. Because of the outcome of the spending over a period of time there is a great deal to do. I'm sure this will be my last full-time job and I'm determined to try and sort things out. I care deeply about this football club and I believe I've got some of the skills which we need to get back on track. The administrative side does need sorting out and over the next few months I'll be giving up my other posts to concentrate fully on the job." Better not let Allan Leighton hear you talk about the need to give up other jobs to make sure you do your main one to the best of your abilities: if he's not chaired board meetings for three different companies by lunchtime he spends the rest of the day in a huff. It was simultaneously announced that the board have found annual savings of £5 million - £2 million more than reported a few weeks back - and plans are also in place to secure a £15 million refinancing package to finally get things back on an even keel (which I'm sure I remember us being told was where we were after selling Jon Woodgate).
April 29: Today's paper rumour of the day has Man U cooling their interest in Robbo in favour of Saints' Antti Niemi (which is probably just their way of trying to drive our price down). And trying to drive our price up, we find that Real Madrid see Robbo as a better long-term prospect than the two-years-older Iker Casillas - despite the excellent performances their home-town boy has turned in over the last few years as their first-choice stopper.
April 29: Danny Mills' hack on Gresko will be reviewed by the FA's video panel since Paul Durkin failed to see the incident at the time (surprise surprise) and didn't mention it in his match report. The hack was worth at least a yellow card but maybe not a direct red, so we'll see what happens - and who he ends up serving a suspension for if it comes.
April 28: A young reserves side came from behind to beat an equally inexperienced Manchester United reserve side 2-1 in the final home game of the season tonight. Leeds went a goal down early in the second half, but an equaliser from Henry McStay restored parity with half an hour to go, and inside injury time Sean McDaid snatched the winner for the Whites when he latched on to a knockdown from Matthew Kilgallon.
April 28: There have been worse seasons at Elland Road than this one - but not many. With just one home game to go, we've only recorded 6 league wins. We've only done worse or similar to that on two previous occasions (apart from the wartime "leagues"). Those two occasions were 1946-47, when Billy Hampson's aging side slipped back down into Division 2 in the first full season after World War II, and then in 1981-82 when Allan Clarke's side scrambled and nearly managed to avoid relegation - before slipping up in the last couple of weeks and going down anyway. The record of 9 home league defeats was only beaten by Hampson's team in 1946-47 when they were turned over 10 times in a season, and equalled by Jack Taylor's relegated side of 1959-60. The omens don't look great - and although our fate is notionally in our own hands I think we're relying on others to keep us up. Despite Arsenal's recent slump, I can't see us getting anything from Highbury - especially when such a result would see ManU almost certainly crowned as champions. Villa have shown some decent patches of form recently and Graham Taylor has introduced some hungry players who have been unlucky not to pick up more points in their last few games, and we'll need to turn up and play like we did at Charlton to get more than a point. But in the end I think that Chelsea's push for a Champions League spot might just come to our aid when they face West Ham next weekend - and the Hammers' final-day trip to Brum won't be a cakewalk either. But of all the other sides at the bottom end, West Ham have got the players with the talent to score a few goals, so don't write them off. Fulham are the other team who look vulnerable to me: games against Everton and Charlton will not be easy, despite the improved attitude that Chris Coleman seems to have brought to the side. Villa should be secure with a home game against Sunderland next week, and you'd have to fancy Sam Allardyce to motivate Bolton to a victory over Boro in the Reebok on the last day. In the end we've got to grit our teeth and cheer on Chelsea on Saturday - apologies to my West Ham-supporting friends but that's how desperate we've got.
April 28: Dennis Irwin was named in the Division 1 PFA Team of the Year at last night's awards dinner. Mark Tinkler was one of four Hartlepool players to make the Division 3 team. No obvious other involvement from Leeds players, though I'm pleased to say that one-time Leeds target Jermaine Jenas was voted in ahead of Wayne Rooney in the Young Player of the Year poll: Jenas has been consistently good and a regular in Bobby Robson's side throughout the year and is far more deserving of the award when you look at the whole season - though John O'Shea's performances have made me wish we'd said "Sod £30 million for Rio - we'll take 20 and that young lad" on more than one occasion.
April 28: Jason Wilcox has joined the "I'm Backing Pete" party and is wearing his Monkeyheid badge with pride. Obviously he knows that first and foremost we've got to stay up, but the official website quotes him as saying: "The sooner everything is sorted out on the managerial and playing side the better for everyone... I think we all respect the manager and we all want him to stay." And Wilcox finishes: "The sooner the situation gets sorted out the better, one way or another." It's always interesting watching what the official club website says and seeing how it differs from pronouncements in the programme and through other media channels. I guess if the club promotes three different messages there's a chance that one of them will turn out to be the right one.
27: As the nights get shorter, so does the Euro
April 27: Peter Reid is no wiser as to his long-term future with Leeds after 5 weeks as caretaker. But he's not worrying too much about that right now. He said; "From day one the football club and I have had an agreement and I don't think there is any reason to change that. I'm here to do a job. I am manager as though I'm the manager, which is why we have been getting pre-season sorted out and I'm working with the players. That's how it is and that's how it will be." And he's still trying to get the players to avoid the basic mistakes: "What you can't do is put your hand up in the penalty box and give a penalty away, get beaten by a simple bouncing ball in the middle of the park and fail to pick up a free man at the back stick at corners," he said. But as countless managers before him have found, you can talk to the players until you're blue in the face, but once they get on the park all you can do is sit and watch.
April 26: Not much old-boy news from today's games other than Mark Tinkler who popped up to score the middle of Hartlepool's three unanswered goals at home to all-but-relegated Shrewsbury.
April 26: Danny Mills' hack on Gresko has broken a bone in the player's foot, ruling him out for the rest of the season. Wonder if that will make him want to come to Leeds instead of Blackburn when his loan there expires? Souness was a little unhappy with some of the tackles. He said: "You can't blame the referee because the pace of the game today is such that things will be missed. He is one of the best referees around and today he got most things right." Clearly Mr Souness was watching a different game from the rest of us, and he had nothing whatsoever to say about Short's challenge on Harry Kewell or the miraculous way his players would get "injured", get back to their feet long enough to delay free kicks and then fall down "injured" again rather than move the three feet that would take them to the touchline to allow them to get as much treatment as their no doubt painful "injuries" required. Souness didn't like Alan Smith's challenge on Neill either. Souness said: "It was dangerous. If you look at it he is clearing the ball up the line and a foot has been left in. That's when you get serious damage as Vrapi got today." Peter Reid wasn't as public and direct with his criticism of the team this week, but was clearly unhappy. With relegation still a possibility, he said: "I think I might have a shower, put a suit, shirt and tie on and go to Maine Road tomorrow with everything crossed," said Reid. That's disappointing because we should have done it today, but the errors we made cost us."
April 26: Today's game in summary: Durkin was bad but we were worse. The clueless whistleblower missed a couple of blatant handballs by Blackburn - one just three feet from his face, failed to send off Andy Cole despite the Blackburn player committing two bookable offences after being cautioned, declined to give a penalty to Harry Kewell when he was brought down in the area and deep into injury time decided that a shove in the back that took Simon Johnson off the ball when he was in the area and ready to shoot was a fair challenge. I suppose he did also miss Smithy's rather late challenge on Lucas Neill and Danny Mills' cruncher that reduced the visitors to ten men when he flattened Gresko, but balancing out his bad decisions doesn't make him a good ref. Despite all of that, Leeds can have no complaints about the result: put simply we scored two decent goals and made an absolute gift of Blackburn's trio. The midfield was never close enough to the defence with the result that we were put ourselves under pressure from every clearance. We made some decent chances, and if you score two goals in every game then you'll do pretty well, so not too many problems on the attacking front, but this was far too slapdash a performance from the team when relegation remains a possibility.
April 25: Peter Reid echoed the thoughts of many fans today when he said he wanted the Leeds that played Fulham rather than the one that appeared at St Mary's to face Blackburn tomorrow. "It was the same players in both games and we have to start showing some level consistency. We've shown what we're capable of, but good sides do it on a consistent basis and we're not doing that at the moment." He knows what a challenge he's up against, with Graeme Souness having put together a tough team at Ewood Park. "With the likes of Yorke, Sukur, Cole and Duff, Blackburn have some good players, but if my lads go out and work as they did on Tuesday we should be okay."
April 25: Team news for tomorrow, and it looks like there will be minimal change for Leeds. Alan Smith's ban starts with the Arsenal game, so he'll play his last game of the season here, and Lucas Radebe is over his knee injury but might be left on the bench rather than bringing him straight back into the side to make sure he doesn't suffer an immediate relapse. For Blackburn it looks like Henning Berg will shake off his hamstring problem in time to make the starting line-up, but Keith Gillespie's ankle knock will keep him out.
April 25: This morning's papers have Alex Ferguson ready to stage a massive clearout at Old Trafford - including selling David Beckham - after Real Madrid's casual dismantling of his multi-million pound side over two legs in the Champions League. So we can all have a good chuckle about that. Unfortunately it seems that Paul Robinson is high on his list of targets - and with Barthez as his first choice keeper it's hard not to understand why. Robbo has been linked with a move to Arsenal, but it's believed that Arsene Wenger is more interested in Rustu Recber of Fehnerbahce who will be available on a Bosman in the summer. And Fergie's long-term target Damien Duff might decide to go somewhere other than Old Trafford or even - horror of horrors - stay at Blackburn! Which means the OT boss will be looking for a left-sided attacking player, and I'm sure the presence of Bernie Mandic at Old Trafford was purely coincidental and connected with his charitable work and interest in watching a great game of football rather than laying the groundwork for a move for Harry Kewell.
April 25: This may seem hard to believe, but Terry Venables is up for an award. No, not "Most Confusing Tactics By a Premier League Manager", and not "Least Done With Most Resources" either. El Tel is up for an award for his TV work at this year's TV Sports Awards as best pundit!
April 24: Emerging from a stunned silence after the departures of manager and chairman, Bucky has another batch of interesting comments about the events of the last month - and of what went before in the lead-up to our massive public implosion. Have a read and drop me an email to let me know what you think about it all.
April 24: Dom Matteo has decided that he's going to have to go under the knife one more time to sort his knee out - but he's leaving it until after the end of the season. He's played in about half of the games this season, but problems with the knee and a hamstring injury have kept him out of matches when we were in desperate need of his defensive ability and leadership. He said: "The main problem comes after matches. I couldn't even walk after playing against Southampton." He went on: "It definitely needs doing but at the moment it's important we try and get a result against Blackburn on Saturday." Now he's got a trip to the States lined up as soon as possible after the Villa game in order to give him a fighting chance of making a full recovery and being ready to start the pre-season training in July.
April 24: Youth team star Aaron Lennon is one of a handful of aspiring youngsters Leeds have agreed to offer a full Academy contract to for next season. Lennon's pace and finishing ability have attracted attention from other clubs, but he's always had his eyes on Elland Road. He said: "My dream is to play for the Leeds first team and I have seen what players like Alan Smith have done." He's caused problems for much older defenders throughout the season - let's hope he can continue to do that at all levels and doesn't turn out to be a good-for-his-age type who never quite makes it at the top level.
April 24: Mark Viduka has denied claims that he is looking for a move - with Spurs being the frequently-mentioned destination by the Capital-loving press. But the back-on-form striker says he is settled and has no intentions of going anywhere. "As I've said before, I'm happy here. If Leeds want to sell me then that's out of my hands to some degree, but I'm not looking to leave," he said. And he's hoping to persuade fellow Aussie Harry Kewell to see it the same way. Viduka said: "I hope Harry stays at Leeds. He's in demand from other clubs but it would be a big loss if he moved on." Of course if Kewell doesn't put pen to paper on a new contract soon, then the club may find they have no financial option other than to realise some value on his contract while they still can. Giggs to one of the Milan clubs and Kewell to OT is the rather unsavoury rumour being bandied around in some quarters for those who thought that a move to Liverpool would be bad!
April 24: I know it's a long shot, but if anyone out there knows of someone with up to three spares for Striker-Card-holding fans who are coming from abroad for the Arsenal game, can they drop me a mail off-list and I'll put them in touch with the hopeful fan in question. Thanks.
April 23: Somebody's ears will be stinging tonight. In the YEP today, there's a letter from former chairman Leslie Silver in which he is pretty unequivocal in his opinion of the Ridsdale years. He says: "I have deliberately refrained from making any comments at all over this past five years - despite much provocation. I was Peter Ridsdale's unpaid predecessor for 13 years and was involved in the battle for promotion with Howard Wilkinson in the late 80s, achieving promotion in the 90s and the Championship in 92 (with a bonus Charity Shield). Having maintained a balanced budget throughout, one can only be horrified at the rapidity of the rising debts and excessive When the club was sold to Caspian in 1996, and the shareholders were paid out, £14m went into the club bank account - £10m to pay off the overdraft at the Co-op Bank and the balance into the club for working capital. To see this converted into a deficit of some £80m in five years is horrendous. It has to be a sign of enormous incompetence." Silver calls on all Leeds fans to support the new chairman, and says he believes we can recover from the current position. You can't really put this down to sour grapes: Silver kept the club afloat and forked out for Leeds United when half the press wanted to close the club down because of the hooligan element and the rest of the press saw us as an irrelevance that would soon be down in the old Third Division. One final word from Mr Silver: "Ridsdale has left an enormous mess and he was obviously incapable of doing the job. Despite all the nice words, his ability did not match his ambition." If I remember my history correctly, we did sail rather close to the wind on occasion - the continual attempts to sell McAllister, accepting a ridiculously low bid for Eric Cantona, selling David Batty - but we never had anything like the fire sale we've been forced to witness this season.
April 23: The reserves went down to a 0-2 defeat by Birmingham at Belle Vue tonight. Nick Barmby, Simon Johnson and Harpal Singh all failed to finish decent chances before the Blues scored twice around the hour mark. The final reserve game of the season sees ManU come to Wakefield on Monday night.
April 23: Michael Bridges has finally been given the thumbs up to resume light training - basically running and other things that impact and stretch his ruptured-and-repaired Achilles tendon. Bridges went down after just five minutes of the Malaga game back in December - the latest in a string of horrific injuries that the young striker has suffered. He's now hopeful of getting some decent sessions in, and physio Dave Hancock is pleased both with his recovery and his continuing positive attitude. Here's hoping we see him back and fresh for the start of next season - and playing for Leeds not Newcastle or anyone else!
April 23: Rugby League chiefs yesterday announced that Elland Road will host the replay of the Challenge Cup Final if this weekend's match between the Rhinos and the Bulls ends all square. It's over 20 years since the last time a Cup Final replay came to Elland Road - 1982 saw Hull beat Widnes after a draw at Wembley. Let's hope that it doesn't do too much damage to the pitch ahead of what remains an important game against Villa on the final day of the season: with each position in the PL bringing in a wodge more prize money, any cash we might rake in from staging a rugby match could easily be wiped out by a final day defeat due to a rugby-induced divot.
April 23: Mark Viduka's goal-scoring last night might have been at least partly down to a carpeting from Peter Reid. The manager said: "Mark is a fantastic footballer but his time-keeping is poor. He was late for training on Monday and he was late again yesterday. I dragged him in the office before the game and asked him for a couple of goals because he's had the needle, and he's come up with them." Reid went on: "I hope he's late every time from now on and I hope he scores a couple of goals every time." Reid also had some positive comments for the way the whole team had played just a few days after their sad capitulation on the south coast. "Certainly the players were up for it. When Fulham were in possession I lost count of how many times we won it back." Viduka in turn went on the record to talk up Reid's impact on the club. "Training is exceptional and he has been like a breath of fresh air since he came in." Of course many of them said the same about El Tel - and look what happened there. The manager will be trying to do enough to win himself the chance to continue at Elland Road next season - but only the eleven men on the park have the power to turn Reid's plans and hopes into reality. Far too many of those players have shirked their responsibility throughout the season - last night's game seemed to show more of the same excellent work ethic we saw at the Valley. All they have to do now is repeat that performance for another 270 minutes and we can all take a long and relaxing break for the summer.
April 22: A slight reshuffling of the pack for today's game saw Dom Matteo drop into centreback, with Danny Mills reverting to his more accustomed right-back position. Matt Kilgallon replaced James Milner on the bench to provide added injury cover for our patched-up defenders. Fulham were never really at the races: Mark Viduka rose unchallenged to head in the opener after just 4 minutes and settled a lot of nerves. Leeds responded to the manager's request for a more combative performance by not allowing Fulham any space in the first half, and Viduka repeated his trick early in the second half to effectively seal the game when he pounced on a deflected shot to make it 2-0.
April 22: Celtic chief executive Ian Mcleod is leaving the club with their crucial UEFA Cup tie against Boavista just days away, and he's the favorite in the frame to take up Peter Ridsdale's Chief Executive hat at Elland Road. Now that Professor John McKenzie is firmly installed as chairman, he'll be looking for someone to take on the detailed operational management of the club - and the sometimes controversial Mcleod could be the man for the job. Mcleod has previously worked for Asda - so no question of cronyism or the chairman appointing his old workmates. Now where was it our deputy chairman used to be chief executive?
April 22: Alan Smith has been fined two weeks' wages - £50,000 - by Peter Reid for his red card on Saturday. Reid said: "I've had a chat with Alan and he's apologised to me, but that still doesn't alter the fact that he's got to learn to control his aggression. Some of the indiscipline at Southampton was borne out of frustration, but that does not excuse the fact that you still have to go about it in the right way, even when things are going wrong for you."
April 22: Peter Reid has reiterated his displeasure with the team's showing at Southampton. "It's no good just having ability," he said. "We've got to fight to earn the right to play. If we want to be a good team we've got to do our best consistently and we are not doing that at the moment." He said he was asking for pride in their play: "The fans deserve it and I demand it. I'm sure with the backing of the fans we can get enough points to see us safe." He went on: "Those fans who went to Southampton were fantastic. The supporters were singing and they got behind the team - but the players didn't respond."
April 22: Quick old-boy round-up from yesterday's games. Brian Deane opened the scoring for Leicester against one of his other old clubs - Sheff U - after just 4 minutes. But Micky Adams' Foxes were soon pegged back by Carl Asaba and conceded another to Asaba deep into injury time to go down 2-1. Robbie Fowler responded to Kevin Keegan's criticism of his lack of goals with the middle of City's unanswered three at home to Sunderland. Robbie Keane equalised for Spurs at West Brom on the stroke of half time and then popped up with the winner close to the end after West Brom had again taken the lead and thrown it away. JFH scored the second of Chelsea's four against Everton, and finally Tom Newey opened the scoring for Darlo at home to Hull - a game they went on to win 2-0.
April 21: Lucas Radebe's knee problem might not have cleared up in time for tomorrow night's game with Fulham, and Dom Matteo is also a doubt after his long-term knee injury flared up again. Matthew Kilgallon is on standby to bolster the defence, and Nick Barmby will also be hopeful of a recall after his goal from the bench at the weekend. For the visitors, Alain Goma could return after missing their surprise win over Newcastle with a calf injury. Louis Saha is a doubt after barely lasting a quarter of an hour before being subbed on Saturday, and Barry Hayles will also be given a thorough check after completing his first game in 6 months. Steve Marlet carries a back injury and will also be checked but is hopeful of starting, but first choice keeper Edwin van der Sar will be lucky to make it back this season so Maik Taylor continues in goal.
April 21: Today's games haven't exactly been kind to us: West Ham's win over Boro brings them to within three points, and Bolton's goalless draw with Blackburn pushes us down into 17th place. Even if we manage a win at home to Fulham to climb up to 15th place tomorrow, we'll still be within reach of the Hammers if they can win their remaining games.
April 21: It's been confirmed that Alan Smith's dismissal was for a second yellow card, so he gets an automatic one-match ban for that, but it's extended to two games because it's his second dismissal this season. Since suspensions start two weeks after the incident that means he's available for the Fulham and Blackburn games but misses Arsenal away and the final game of the season at home to Villa.
20: Euro-time again. A couple of weeks back it looked
like Real Madrid were waltzing away with the title - but Real
Sociedad and Deportivo La Coruna now trail Madrid by just one point
after this weekend's games. In Saturday's inevitably bad-tempered
match in the Bernabeu, Ronaldo's opener was cancelled out by Luis
Enrique, and although that ended the scoring there were no less
than 10 bookings, and Madrid finished with 10 men after Salgado
picked up a second yellow card with three minutes to go. In today's
games bottom side Rayo Vallecano held Real Sociedad almost until
the interval - Pedro scoring from the spot in the last minute of
the first half. But the floodgates opened in the second period,
with four unanswered goals for the home side taking the final score
to 5-0 and doing wonders for Sociedad's goal difference. Sevilla
look to have a good chance of getting a UEFA Cup spot - but that
didn't stop them losing 3-1 in the Riazor, with Roy Makaay scoring
two of the goals that kept up Depor's pursuit of Real Madrid.
Champions Valencia are now pinning their season's hopes on the
Champions League following a 1-0 defeat at Valladolid yesterday
which leaves them 11 points off the top. A last-minute goal for
Dario Silva gave Malaga a 0-1 win at Alaves, boosting our UEFA Cup
opponents' chances of qualifying for the competition again next
year and turning the screw on third-bottom Alaves as they find
themselves getting detached in the drop zone.
April 20: Leeds Ladies shocked title favorites Fulham when Sue Smith scored an early goal in today's league game. But Fulham soon came back with an equaliser and scored two more in quick succession to make it 3-1 after just 25 minutes. That was the end of the scoring - and it leaves Fulham just needing one more win to clinch the title.
April 20: Peter Reid is or isn't the new favorite as the permanent manager for the club depending on which paper you read. In some quarters, he's seen as having already done enough to win the confidence of players, supporters and - crucially - the chairman as the man to take things on next season. But for other folks, the capitulation to Saints shows that there's still a bit more convincing needs to be done before the thrashing of Charlton is seen as more than a flash-in-the-pan and Paul Hart is seen as the main target. As for the man himself, Reid seems quite happy to get on with the task in hand and dispense his wisdom without fear or favour: "A manager always wants to protect his players but I can't take a performance like that - and I don't want to, he said. "I've enjoyed it up to now but we were out-thought, out-fought, out-played and out-scored by Southampton. They were brilliant at Charlton a couple of weeks ago but the difference at Southampton was that, as a team, we just didn't work hard enough." Expect some hard work to be required on the training pitch tomorrow, because nobody deserves any time off even if there's a massive game against Fulham on Tuesday night.
April 19: If anyone doubted Peter Reid's ability to call a spade a spade, they were disabused of that notion after today's game. Reid made his displeasure with the team - and Alan Smith in particular - clear. "He deserved [the red card] and it has happened too many times... I thought the referee had a poor day and was dying to do something but Alan certainly gave him the opportunity. I don't want a witch-hunt for the boy because he'll be dealt with at the club but he has got to learn. It is all right being aggressive but he oversteps the mark." Not the first time we've heard a Leeds manager say those words I know. And the team? "We made it too easy for Southampton because we didn't tackle and didn't pass it. We scored two goals at the end but it was never that close. We had nothing in the middle of the park and Southampton certainly deserved to win... We never gave ourselves a chance. Players have to take some responsibility." Oh to be a fly on the wall in the away dressing room at St Mary's.
April 19: Not a great day out for Leeds - another defeat, Danny Mills' form continues to go into reverse at high speed and yet another red card for Alan Smith. Strangely enough, Leeds finally showed a bit of fight once it was 10 against 11, but the revival was too little and too late. Fortunately West Ham's defeat at Bolton looks to have filled the third relegation spot - but the other results today leave us sitting uncomfortably close to the drop zone.
April 19: Old boys in action today sees Clyde Wijnhard extend Oldham's early lead with a first-half goal to make it 2-0 against Chesterfield and then scored again with 15 minutes to go for 3-0. For Bradford, Andy Gray was on target from the spot yet again as they restored their lead just before half-time at home to Watford.
April 19: Only a month or so to go before the summer transfer window opens - so it's silly season story time. Newcastle are said to be interested in a move to take Michael Bridges back to the north-east - despite their seeming abundance of strikers and Bridges' injury-riddled history. Alan Shearer can't have that many more seasons left in him, and a fit Bridges would be a more complete striker than Bellamy or the others - but any offer from the Magpies would almost certainly be of the "laughably low" variety. We can expect a lot more of these in the next few weeks.
April 19: Peter Reid has hinted that the out-of-favour trio of Raul Bravo, Teddy Lucic and Paul Okon might still have a part to play in the remainder of the season. Despite the return to winning ways at Charlton, the defence looked to be back to the old slipshod ways against Spurs, and the injury to Lucas Radebe has once again required changes to the back four. Reid said: "We've got a busy programme coming up and I wouldn't be surprised if one or two of them were involved at some stage." And Reid poured cold water on the idea that the trio were out in the cold because they were El Tel's signings: "I think there's an idea that because Terry brought them in I've bombed them - but that's not the case at all. It's what I felt was right for these games coming up." Reid went on to say that he'd explained to Paul Okon what he was trying to do with the midfield, and that the player understood his reasons even if he wasn't in agreement with the selection decision. "But there's no suggestion of him being ruled out entirely, and there's been no suggestion of Bravo or Lucic going home early," said Reid.
April 18: Leeds star Lucas Radebe became the latest in a long line of people to talk up the prospects for Leeds under Peter Reid. Radebe said that Reid was the main person responsible for the team's recent change of form: "We're getting stronger and that's thanks to the gaffer who has come in and given us more encouragement and the belief He is a very confident, upbeat manager and that comes across to the players. If the mood with the manager is good then it leaves us thinking 'what have we got to lose'." And Radebe added: "The morale is good and we're enjoying ourselves especially in training. We are willing to work hard and there's a lot of talking between the players.
April 18: The Sun today spreads the rumour that Spurs want to sign Vidooks for £5 million. 20 goals a season for £5 million - how desperate do they think we are?
April 18: Chris Marsden is suspended for the Saints as they entertain Leeds tomorrow. Recent signing from Forest David Prutton will be the likely candidate to replace Marsden in midfield, while Jason Dodd is also doubtful after missing Saints' last three games. Anti Niemi remains an absentee through injury so Paul Jones continues between the sticks.
April 17: The reserves went down 2-0 at Altrincham's Moss Lane ground tonight against a ManU side that - understandably - had few names that anyone would recognise. Goals either side of half-time decided what was a fairly even contest in the home side's favour.
April 17: It looks like we could be facing a leaderless Fulham next week. It seems that Jean Tigana has left the club five weeks early, leaving Chris Coleman in charge until the end of the season (or until Al-Fayed poaches Keegan back from Man City or eats enough humble pie to admit to Micky Adams that he made a mistake sacking him in the first place all those years ago).
April 17: Jon Woodgate's name has cropped up yet again in connection with a ruck outside a pub in the centre of Middlesbrough earlier this week. It was about this time last year that such an incident ended with a broken jaw for the player - and a requirement for him to move down to Leeds to get away from the problems he seems to attract in his native North-East. This time, there's no immediate suggestion that he was directly involved in the fight and he stated he was happy to help the police if they needed him. I'm sure Newcastle fans will be delighted to hear that he was seen out on the town shortly after their humiliation by ManU at St James Park drinking alcopops with his mates - although a barmaid from the pub is on record as saying that he hadn't seemed to be involved in the trouble and hadn't been drinking too much. But if he wants to get paid 40 grand a week and be a Premier League footballer, then midweek alcopops during the season should not be on the menu: this isn't the 1970s where a couple of pints or a whisky before the game wouldn't be seen as out of the ordinary - nowadays players who aren't at their physical and mental peak end up playing for teams that let in six goals at home. Oh....hold on...
April 17: Ian Harte, Gary Kelly and Stephen McPhail are named - as in Robbie Keane - in Brian Kerr's Ireland squad to face Norway in a friendly in Dublin on April 30.
April 17: You can't expect Olivier Dacourt to keep his mouth shut about transfers for more than a month, so here's his latest proclamation. He says that he wants to stay with Roma but will return (subtext: and sulk around, pick up a mystery "injury" or two and contribute to any mood of unhappiness or discontent he can find) if the clubs cannot agree a fee. He said: "I have a contract for another three years. If both clubs decide that I have to return then I will, but if I had to choose I would like to stay here." Of course, Roma might decide that he's not worth the money Leeds will require to buy out those three years, but in the end the Prof's desire to get more high-wage players off the books looks almost certain to lead to Dacourt's sale being sanctioned at some knockdown price when the Italians realise just what a state we're in.
April 17: Lucas Radebe has been carrying a knee injury all week and is a doubt for Saturday's visit to Southampton. With Eirik Bakke also ruled out of training this week and Dom Matteo likely to need to drop back into defence to replace The Chief, the midfield that has been the basis for much of the improvement we've seen in the last two games will need to be rejigged unless the players in question manage a speedy recovery.
April 17: Yesterday's rumours, today's facts. In a statement issued to the Stock Exchange this morning, Leeds United revealed that Peter Ridsdale would be stepping down as a director of the club, but he has said that he will be holding onto his shareholding. The new chairman said: "Peter has other business interests that he wishes to pursue and we have agreed that it is in the best interests of both parties that he stands down from the board of Leeds United and of the football club." Ridsdale said: "I've had 16 years as a director and enjoyed every minute, but given that there are other avenues I am now pursuing it could be seen as a conflict of interests to remain any longer." The top job at the FA remains unfilled - but he may find some serious questions about his credibility being asked if he goes for it despite his experience in charge at Leeds and on the FA's top committees. He added: "I can now enjoy the Leeds games as a season ticket holder and I sincerely wish all the best to Professor McKenzie, the management team, the players and particularly the fans." Apart from those who sent him death threats obviously. Wonder if he'll be renewing his season ticket early and if he'll have any problems paying for it in four instalments rather than the six on offer last time round?
April 16: There are strong rumours doing the rounds that Peter Ridsdale is about to end his long relationship with Leeds United after both the old and the new chairman came to the conclusion that his association with the financial mismanagement that got us into our current predicament would mean a total lack of support and belief from fans and shareholders alike. A statement to the Stock Exchange could be issued as early as tomorrow morning.
April 16: It's looking increasingly likely that David Batty will not make it back onto the pitch for the first team this season. He has been pulled out of tomorrow night's reserve game against Man U and - although he's agreed with Peter Reid to step up his fitness programme - the position of the club and the way that the other players have responded to Peter Reid's management mean that there's no point in risking his long-term fitness just to get him on the park this time round.
April 15: Lucas Radebe's 8 years at Elland Road nearly lasted just a handful of months due to the weather and the tough slog needed to break into the first team. He said: "I always kept my plane ticket in my pocket and I nearly went back home at one point. I remember thinking that if I was still unhappy at Christmas I would just go to the airport." But in the end the attitude that has made him such a popular figure with Leeds fans told him to stay and make a go of it. "There was something in me that said I would rather fail having tried. You don't get opportunities like this and I made my mind up I was going to give it my best shot." And we're all glad he did. He has been a star in the heart of the defence and usually takes a defensive position for corners, so he's not troubled the scoreboard operators that often - only three times in fact. But the memories of his overhead kick in Heerenveen to give us the lead against Partizan, and in the same season the late late goal at Elland Road that knocked out Spartak Moscow will still be there for him and all of those who saw them for many years to come.
April 15: Peter Reid reiterated Terry Venables' opinion that Leeds could not enter the InterToto Cup. Although the deadline for entry is long gone, there was some suggestion that a Premier League team might be offered a place if one was requested, but Reid said: "I do think it's important that your players get the rest they need. If you got six or seven injuries you would never forgive yourself and at the end of the day it's the Premiership that's most important." The planning for the summer's pre-season games continues - only the visit to Hull has been confirmed so far.
April 15: Carl Shutt has parted company with Kettering after a season in which injuries and financial problems left his team up against it from the start. They were finally relegated after a home defeat by Forest Green - although the writing has been on the wall for some time.
April 14: There were hints today that Jacob Burns' time at Feyenoord might have been more successful than was originally indicated. The Dutch club are apparently preparing to take him on in the summer - although it's not clear if a transfer fee would figure in this, and the player himself is said to prefer to have one last push at getting into the Leeds first team squad rather than decamp overseas.
April 14: Lucas Radebe was today named as the Premier League player who has made the biggest contribution to the community in the last 10 years. The awards panel looked at the huge amount of work he has done both around the Leeds area and back home in South Africa. FAPL chairman Dave Richards said: "Lucas Radebe has done ample to deserve this accolade and is an example for us all to follow as someone who has not just worked hard for the people of Leeds, but has also found the time and energy to help the communities of his homeland." Radebe has been the focus of numerous anti-racism initiatives backed by the club and has also done much to help the Leeds United Book Challenge succeed in improving literacy in all ages. On top of that, he has also made strenuous efforts to improve the lot of deprived communities in South Africa - which helped him with the FIFA Fair Play Award in 2000. It's amazing he finds the time to play football! The Chief said: "I am delighted to be the recipient of this award. It is a great honour for me and my family... Professional football is under the microscope for many reasons but few people notice the good work that is being done in education and grassroots football by the kind of community-related activities we have at Leeds United and other clubs. FIFA chief Sepp Blatter and UEFA's head honcho Gerhard Aigner were among many people keen to applaud Radebe's efforts. Sports Minister Richard Caborn said: "Lucas Radebe has set a shining example for his fellow professionals in the area of community work. His tireless efforts in the last decade and more, help to tackle the image of footballers as people whose only focus is on their pay packets and the high life." The FAPL's 10 Seasons awards also mentioned Gary Speed: his spells at Leeds, Everton and now as an essential part of the Newcastle midfield (see how much they missed him at the weekend?) have made him the player with the most FAPL appearances.
April 14: Another not entirely unexpected bit of news from Lucas today when he announced that he will be formally retiring from international football at the end of this season. "I have played for 10 years for South Africa. I think I have done not enough, but as much as I can - I think now it's crucial for me that I focus more on my club than the national team." Lucas is in the final year of his contract at Elland Road and we've all been amazed by the fact that he's managed to play so many games this season, but with his knees in the state they are nobody would wish him to continue playing too much longer if it meant inflicting more damage and a painful retirement. Peter Reid is well aware of what his player is going through: "Every time he gets on the pitch I know he goes through an awful lot of pain - he's a great example to other players."
April 14: Mark Viduka thinks we were a bit unlucky to only come away with a draw on Saturday. The last six games have yielded nine goals for the big striker - but only a win and a draw for the club. He said: "We started the game like a house on fire. We were at them straight away and they didn't have much of a plan. But as soon as they scored their first goal we dropped off and then we conceded another pretty quickly - it surprised us a little bit the way the game turned around." But as I mentioned on Saturday - can anyone imagine the TV team grabbing that equaliser and pushing on for a win? Reid might not have the same great media connections as our former manager but he's certainly instilled a great work ethic in the team - and that's something that we've seen far too little of in the last couple of years.
13: Is it Sunday again already? The weeks are just
flying by, and a lot of the leagues around Europe are starting to
throw up the winners and losers in the title - and Champions League
April 13: Leeds Ladies suffered a not particularly surprising defeat yesterday: despite the progress Leeds have made over the last season or two, Arsenal (and obviously now Fulham) remain the standard to be judged by. Even so, there wasn't much positive to say about Leeds' 1-4 home defeat.
April 13: You may remember a few months ago how all the players were queuing up to tell the world what a wonderful coach El Tel was and how privileged and happy they were to be working with him (while at the same time rolling over and playing dead when it mattered). Well today Mark Viduka has come out and said that maybe TV wasn't that great after all, and noted the difference since Peter Reid turned up: "Peter's brought confidence back into the team. He's got a lot of energy and a lot of passion for the game. I think some of the players needed a bit of motivation. When things aren't going well team morale goes down - it starts spiralling, and confidence goes. But Peter's brought with him fresh views, motivation - and you can see that by the way we are playing."
April 12: Old boys news from today's games. Mark Tinkler opened the scoring for Hartlepool at home to Leyton Orient and added another from the spot in the second half to give the Division 3 leaders a 4-1 win - but wins for Wrexham and Bournemouth today means that Hartlepool have to keep the promotion champagne on ice for another week before mathematical certainty catches up with reality. Noel Whelan got Palace's second at Grimsby as they piled on the pain for the Mariners with a 1-4 victory that leaves their hosts second bottom and needing help from other clubs if they are to escape the drop.
April 12: Peter Reid described the goals we conceded as "daft" - and from where we were sat just behind the net in the Revie Stand I heartily agree. The manager said: "There was a flick-on from a corner to the back stick - which is about basic defending." And for the second goal, where Robbie Keane skipped through a crowd of defenders, Reid said: "...our tackling left a lot to be desired. When you are facing a player like Robbie Keane you've got to stay on your feet, but we paid the penalty." And it looks like he's aware of what the team will be doing in their training sessions next week: "Defensively we have got to tighten up. If we can get clean sheets from here on in then we can win games." Glenn Hoddle bemoaned his team's luck with the penalty won by Harry Kewell - and the one that Rob Styles failed to award at the other end when Simon Davies made a six course banquet of a challenge from Lucas Radebe that caught the Spurs player - and the ball marginally first - on the edge of the Leeds box in the last couple of minutes. Hoddle said: "In the end, two decisions have cost us because Kasey Keller felt he had the ball, whilst Simon Davies could have got a penalty at the other end."
April 12: Two points dropped or one gained? Well if you'd have asked me after 30 minutes I'd definitely have said the former. But once Vidooks had produced yet another superb finish to open the scoring, we switched off and conceded two simple goals which - though well-taken - can only be put down to poor defending. Keane's in particular made our defence look like a bunch of one-paced laggards as he waltzed through three tackles before leaving Robbo with no chance. For the Leeds of Venables, that would have been the end. But after a half-time motivational chat from the new boss, Leeds came out looking much brighter. Kasey Keller had also changed tactics at half-time: every dead ball situation was stretched out as long as he could in timewasting tactics disgracefully ignored by ref Rob Styles. But then this was the dingbat who thought Smithy's fair challenge on Gareth Southgate at Boro was worthy of a yellow card so what do you expect. Not only can Styles not manage to count to six seconds, it also took him over 70 minutes before he realised that when Gardner had two handfuls of Smithy's shirt he was supposed to award a free kick. And it took him a further 10 minutes before he got to grips with the complex difference between a fair challenge and a push (here's a clue Rob: when Stephen Carr is standing behind one of our players, extends an arm rapidly into the back of our player and then watches him fall to the earth, that's what most normal people call "a push", and I believe the rules of the game require you to do something about that). Styles displayed amazing leniency in leaving Keller on the pitch to defend the penalty he'd conceded, but Vidooks took it brilliantly to square the game. Both sides had a chance or two late on, but on balance this can be seen as more good and positive progress. We're not out of the woods yet but we're heading in the right direction.
April 11: Well it's not quite manager of the month, but Sky's Soccer Saturday should show Peter Reid picking up an award tomorrow for the best performance of last weekend. Reid meanwhile has poured cold water on the suggestion that he will pick up a huge cheque if he keeps Leeds up. "There is no bonus. I have a basic wage and I am paid on the performances but there is no one-off payment at the end of the season if I keep the team up - I keep reading about how I am going to be picking up all this money if we stay up but nobody has told me about it." He went on: "Some of the figures which have been quoted are rather healthy though and I wish they were true."
April 11: Robbie Keane should be fit to return to Elland Road for the first time since his departure earlier on this season. On the positive side, neither Jamie Redknapp nor Steffen Iversen are ready to return, and Dean Richards has been making progress but is also unlikely to figure in the visitors' side tomorrow. Anthony Gardner comes back into their side after a long absence with a hamstring problem, but Peter Reid is unlikely to change anything of the side that came back to life so spectacularly last weekend.
April 11: This morning's Guardian was the latest in a long line of papers to hint that Robbo's stated intention of finding an investment property in North London was a very thin smokescreen for his planned move to Arsenal. With no possibility of offloading the squad players for any sort of cash - and with the debt mountain needing to come down still more - the departure of one of our more saleable assets in the summer looks inevitable, and Arsenal's need for a world-class keeper - and Robbo's desire to be in the front of Sven's mind with Euro 2004 coming up next summer - will seal the deal.
April 10: Peter Reid spoke today of his sympathy for the injury problems that have been ganging up on Michael Bridges over the last couple of years - and looks forward to having him back next season. "I lost four years on and off through injury when I was in my 20's, but with the way medical science is now, I'm sure if he works hard he can still come back as good as ever." And Reid noted: "He's working hard on his rehab, he has got a talent and I didn't want to lose him [when he was at Sunderland] but those things happen in football." I think one thing all Leeds fans can agree on is that the squad would benefit immensely from Bridges' return - despite the refound form of Alan Smith and Mark Viduka - and we all hope that there will be a shining light waiting for him at the end of his tunnel.
April 10: Norwegian papers - and today's YEP - carried reports that head scout Ian Broomfield was out in Norway watching a Viking giant. The player in question is 22-year-old Brede Hangeland, a gangling centreback who plays for Viking Stavanger - the team that knocked Chelsea out of the UEFA Cup - but he's sufficiently versatile that he's also been operating as a midfielder. I guess an extra CB would come in handy with Lucas Radebe and Dom Matteo both having had long-term injury problems, and after all the publicity, there can't be much question of a club out there thinking they can hold us to ransom on a fee if we're interested.
April 10: Peter Reid reckons that one more win will be enough to clinch safety for Leeds - and that all he wants for Saturday is a repeat performance of last weekend's romp. Spurs have not been good travellers this season - but our own home form has been nothing short of dire. "It would be a massive result if we could beat Tottenham on Saturday, especially winning two games on the trot," he said. "We should be exuding confidence for this game against Tottenham - who have a lot of quality - but we've got to go out there again and do the job," stressed Reid. And with the remaining games on the fixture list, Reid thinks that three more points - just one win - will keep us up. "Two will definitely do it, but I'll be smiling if we beat Tottenham on Saturday." Won't we all, Peter...
April 09: Leeds in left-back-link shock. Some reports today say that Leeds have told Parma they would be interested in picking up Vratislav Gresko if Blackburn - where he is currently on loan - fail to exercise an option to buy. Raul Bravo looks to be out in the cold well before his loan spell finishes at Leeds, and although Ian Harte has shown some signs of a return to form, it is the position on the pitch where we have been most exposed for some time.
April 09: Ready for next season? Well, Leeds almost are! The first pre-season tie to be confirmed was announced today, and it will be the well-trailed visit to Hull's new Kingston Communications Stadium for a match against the Tigers on Friday August 1. This will be the fourth different away ground we've faced Hull at: before the war the games were played at Anlaby Road, a couple of wartime games were at The Boulevard, and after the war they switched to Boothferry Park. Boothferry Park was also the venue for a Leeds 'home' game at the start of the 1971-72 season after crowd trouble set off by a certain referee's failure to apply the offside law at the end of the previous term. At least the idiocy of a tour of the Far East won't be on the menu this year - the SARS virus is hammering the nail in that particular coffin. A trip to South Africa to drum up interest in Leeds out there - and maybe encourage a few youngsters to follow in the footsteps of Albert Johanneson and Lucas Radebe - is a possibility, as are a couple of 3/4-way mini-tournaments on the continent. The board will be taking Peter Reid's input on a suggested itinerary, but that doesn't mean that he's a shoo-in for the manager's job permanently.
April 09: It's hardly surprising that HP Bulmer won't be renewing their sponsorship deal that put the Strongbow name on Leeds shirts given the fact that their financial position isn't totally dissimilar to the one we're all too familiar with at Elland Road. Next season's shirt sponsor was unveiled today - and it's Whyte and Mackay - the Scotch Distillers (surely they should be sponsoring our shorts?). The 3-year deal is worth £3 million as a base with success incentives for the club that could more than double that amount.
April 09: David Batty's bad back kept him out of the reserve game with Manchester City last night. Time must be running out on the 34-year-old's attempts to come back for this season with only six first-team games - and an even more restricted reserves programme. James Milner, Simon Johnson and Harpal Singh all put Leeds one goal in front, but City came back strongly and equalised three times, including a goal apiece for Shaun Goater and Jon Macken. Speaking about the absent Batty, Peter Reid said: "He's had a back injury because of the hard pitches. It's unfortunate. Although he is pushing himself, he keeps getting injuries... It's a frustrating time for the lad, but if he keeps getting slight injuries, there is nothing we can do about it - we've just got to get him as fit as possible, as soon as possible."
April 08: Captain Dom Matteo said he was happy to continue to play in midfield following his excellent holding performance on Saturday. He said: "I have done it occasionally for different clubs and I quite enjoy playing there. You can get a few tackles in and pass the ball - I've told the gaffer it is a position in which I feel I can play." And Mark Viduka had further positive things to say about our biggest league win since we gave Bradford a gubbing at the end of 2000/01, and the best away win since we managed a similar scoreline at Hillsborough on the way to the title in 1992. The big striker said: "There's definitely a sense of putting the past behind us and kicking on from here now... If we can perform like that against Charlton, who have done really well this season, then we can do it against anybody."
April 08: David Batty's attempt to take some part in this season continues with the reserves against Manchester City tonight. The tie - which will be played at Hyde United's ground - should also see Simon Johnson brought back down to earth after his first team debut at the weekend, plus the return from injury of Danny Milosevic and from Holland of Jacob Burns (it's not clear how his trial with Feyenoord went - and obviously they wouldn't be able to sign him until the summer transfer window opened if they were interested).
April 07: Danny Mills spoke up today to say that he didn't intend to be the next player out of the door at Elland Road and that he had no regrets about signing a contract extension (I'm not surprised considering how much he'll be paid!). "I have never had any second thoughts about making that long-term commitment to Leeds. Why? Because I honestly believe this club has a bright future - and I want to be part of it." And he reckons that the same players who have flopped so badly this season can turn it around next time: "I don't think anybody can look at the players here already and have any doubts it is packed with enormous talent. We have the nucleus already of a really good squad, so I don't see any reason why we can't rebuild and be back up there challenging for Europe again this time next year." I really hope he's right, and after Saturday's game it looks just a little bit more of a possibility than it did a month or so ago.
April 07: A rumour about Harry Kewell's imminent move to Manchester United for just £6 million appeared and was squashed in less than a day. The Daily Star carried the story this morning, but Leeds swiftly moved to issue a statement in which they said they "categorically denied any club had even made an approach for the 24-year-old, let alone agreed a deal". Which sounds suspiciously similar to what was said about Rio - but for the moment this is just tabloid rumourmongers trying to stir up a real story.
April 07: Dom Matteo spoke about how the team had come together and produced a blast-from-the-past performance on Saturday. "We got all our success in Europe closing down from the front to the back, and that was one of our best performances for a long while." And he had no hesitation in picking out one player for special praise. "Viduka, Harry and Smithy were all outstanding, but Smudger was definitely the man of the match." He's not pointing the finger at TV's laid-back attitude, but it's clear that Peter Reid's approach is considerably different to that of his predecessor. The skipper said: "Peter has been like a breath of fresh air. We're back to playing football and enjoying ourselves." But he's well aware that a single win isn't going to turn the club around. "We're not out of it yet. I'm really looking forward to the games coming up and hopefully we can carry that performance into the Tottenham game."
06: So what's been going on in Europe this weekend
then? Starting in Spain, we find Real Madrid with a six point
cushion at the top of the pile. Real Sociedad failed to keep up
their pursuit despite taking a 0-1 lead at the Riazor. Nihat's
opener was cancelled out by a goal in each half from Fran, and
Darko Kovacevic's penalty miss compounded the visitors' misery.
That win takes Deportivo into second place - ahead of Real Sociedad
on goal difference, and were close to being just three points
behind Real Madrid when relegation-threatened Rayo Vallecano took
an early lead in the Bernabeu and held on until 5 minutes from the
end. A Fernando Morientes goal brought that game level, and a
further strike from the same player in injury time won the match.
Portillo added another 90+ minute goal to rub salt in Vallecano's
wounds. Valencia had Roberto Ayala and Ruben Baraja dismissed in a
bad-tempered 2-0 reverse at Real Betis. Barca were dragged back
down into the mid-table morass, defeated by two penalties and
reduced to ten men at Villareal, while our UEFA Cup opponents
Malaga put some distance between them and the drop zone with a 0-1
win at Osasuna.
April 06: Nigel Martyn let his season-long frustrations out into the open today, telling the Sunday People that the current situation at the club was "nothing short of a disaster". He pointed out that the off-field problems hadn't exactly helped the players concentrate on the job in hand, but said the current poor league position was "... as much the players' fault as anyone else's. I know the board have taken some responsibility for what's happened off the pitch, but we have to stand up for what happens on it and it has not been good enough."
April 05: Robbie Keane opened the scoring for Spurs as they beat Brum 1-2. Noel Whelan restored Crystal Palace's one goal lead over Sheffield United, but Palace conceded a late equaliser to leave the game at 2-2.
April 05: Post-match reaction to today's excellent result from all corners was that of general amazement. But Peter Reid wasn't too surprised. He was as pleased as the rest of us with the way all the players closed down space and tackled with more bite. "When the whistle blew, Gary Kelly shut someone down almost immediately and, when we were 6-1 up in the last minute, there were still three of them shutting someone down. The catalyst for our win was the work ethic. The players let their football do all the talking." The optimism has obviously got to him - he said: "We've got six games left and let's try to win all of them." Alan Curbishley gave credit to the Leeds players, but criticised his own squad, and branded their performance as "shocking" and described it as the worst he had seen in his time at The Valley. "We looked like a team that had just been thrown together and didn't know each other from Adam. In fact, it looked like an end-of-season performance from a team going nowhere. It's going to be a long week for us now." Which is exactly what we expected our manager to be saying after the game: one swallow is not making a summer, but the turn-around in attitude and application that Peter Reid has managed in just over a week is fantastic - now let's keep that momentum going at home to Spurs next week.
April 05: "What the f*** is going on?" we sang. How on earth did we manage to produce such an excellent performance on the back of a season of dross. Vidooks, Kewell and Smithy - particularly Smithy who made the first five goals - were superb, and with the exception of a slightly flaky performance against his old club by Danny Mills, the team as a whole finally produced something like the form of two seasons ago. Now all we have to do is repeat that three or four more times this season and we'll find ourselves able to hang on to a few more players than originally anticipated. A final word of credit to Ian Harte: his penalty-taking has been under some question after failures for Leeds and - very publicly - Ireland in the World Cup. But he was confident enough to tell Mark Viduka to leave it to him for the first spot kick and despatched it with great aplomb. He even looked more confident in defence - maybe he's finally getting his old form back! But sod all that - this was a top team performance and right now I am over the moon.
April 05: Today is the third anniversary of the murder of Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight in Istanbul. Although Ali Umit Demit has been convicted of the murder, the inquest has yet to take place - and the England game up in Sunderland this week showed that many people have neither forgotten nor forgiven Turkey as a whole for the Leeds fans' deaths. A large proportion of the 100 or so arrests were from Leeds and the Yorkshire area, although there were a number of fans from other teams turning out in numbers to confront the police and the visiting fans. It seems likely that the inquest will now take place in September - just before the reverse fixture in Istanbul - and if Wednesday's events are anything to go by there is a serious likelihood of the tragedy of April 2000 repeating itself when England play their key Euro 2004 qualifier. To play the game with no England fans in attendance would be to offer moral victory to the thugs and murderers who have regularly caused havoc at Turkey's national and club games - but equally England's travelling support isn't beyond reproach. Maybe a solution similar to that adopted by Leeds when we were drawn against Besiktas - to have an organised trip and to keep our fans under close guard and away from the home fans at all times - is the best way forward.
April 04: Midfielder Scott Parker returns to the Charlton side after missing out in their 1-1 draw at Boro a fortnight ago, but Graham Stuart won't have the chance to be dismissed in the same fixture two years in a row: he picked up a calf strain and is likely to be out until for at least another two weeks.
April 04: David Batty is out of contention for tomorrow's game at Charlton with a minor back injury after playing 90 minutes for the reserves during the week. Earlier, Peter Reid had expressed hope at involving the midfielder - but caution that we were under so much pressure that we couldn't afford to give him the chance to prove his fitness in a real game. Reid said: "He is not really fit enough to go in, but he needs matches and we haven't got them to get him fit, which I've talked to him about. I've told him to work as hard as he can on the training ground and then having a day-to-day chat about his fitness."
April 04: One little news item which escaped my attention yesterday: congratulations are due to Andy Gray who made his full international debut for Scotland in Lithuania. Unfortunately he was on the losing side after a hugely dodgy penalty went the way of the home team but it's nice to see a talented player getting some recognition after finally harnessing that talent with hard work in his season at Bradford. Teddy Lucic, Raul Bravo, Eirik Bakke also turned out in their respective Euro 2004 qualifiers.
April 03: The hysteria surrounding the Leeds chairman hasn't changed much despite the new man in the job. Prof John McKenzie will be given protection from the still-irate fans at the matches following the need for similar cover to protect Peter Ridsdale as he tried to cling on to his position. He has stated up front that he will be taking a lower profile role, and told the YEP: "If you're high profile you also enjoy the crowning moments. I'm not criticising Peter, but I won't be as high profile as he was. I want to have a reasonable life living in the Leeds area. I don't want to have my wife subjected to problems, or me either."
April 03: Peter Reid has wasted little time in making up his mind on the people he sees as most likely to contribute to a successful battle against relegation. So staying at home tomorrow when the team come down for the Charlton game will be Paul Okon, Raul Bravo and Teddy Lucic. Dom Matteo looks set to come straight back into the side - I guess we can only hope he doesn't break down straight away. Gary Kelly and Michael Duberry are also back, as is Harry Kewell - likely to be used as in a Ryan Giggs/left wing role if Peter Reid follows through on his announced preferences. Simon Johnson's reward for his recent run of good form for the reserves is a place in the squad, though it's unlikely he'll make the final cut. Reid said: "I feel this squad is the right squad to go down there and compete against Charlton," said Reid. "I am a great believer that if young players do well in the reserves they get their rewards."
April 03: It seems that now we have a less high-profile chairman, we no longer have need of the services of expensive PR people. Max Clifford has been informed that he has done all he can for the club - we're not quite sure what it was he did in the first place - so that's a bit more cash saved for the summer.
April 02: Peter Reid is telling us that we're too good to go down. Gulp. The manager said: "You just shake your head at how good this club is. I look around the place in amazement. The only place for this great club to be is in the Premiership. There's more than enough here to improve that situation. You've got to impress that working hard ethic and that's what I'm trying to do." And that really is what's been lacking from too many of the performances this season - good old-fashioned application and gumption. He pointed to the wins over ManU and Newcastle earlier on in the season - it is indeed hard to believe that the same side that did so well in gaining 6 points against those two clubs in September could have found it so hard to gain wins and draws against far easier opposition for the rest of the season. Reid referred to the financial disaster zone but says he's trying to ignore that side of things and focus on the last seven games. "There's no extra pressure. This club has got to be in the Premiership next season and I'm not thinking about anything else."
April 02: Those imminent contract talks that Harry Kewell was definitely going to have with the club have been postponed until the summer when the future will be somewhat clearer. With relegation still a possibility and new chairman Prof John McKenzie saying that he couldn't rule out player sales, it's not too surprising that Kewell wants to hang around. It's also probably of benefit to the club - the board will need to know just what sort of weekly payouts and indeed transfer budget the club can bear, and that will depend on which division we're in next season. Kewell's agent Bernie Mandic said: "I'd be very surprised if the contract is resolved before the end of the season. Even before Peter Ridsdale went, Harry said: "Let's concentrate on the football and make the club safe."".
April 02: Kleberson has hinted strongly that he would still like a go at playing in the Premiership - although the likelihood of him becoming a Leeds player as was much-rumoured earlier in the year is zero (how were we going to find the money if his club had said yes to our offer in January by the way?). He said: "It is a dream for me to play one day in England. Gilberto [Silva] talks of how well contested the matches are in the Premier League." Maybe he will get his wish - but it's more likely to be Newcastle resurrecting, but not improving, the bid they made in January.
April 01: Simon Johnson scored twice for the reserves tonight to earn a draw with Sunderland at Belle Vue. David Batty came through the full 90 minutes unscathed, but remains short of match fitness, and both Michael Duberry and Gary Kelly look to be over their recent injuries as they too completed the game. Kelly picked up a booking late on but must be down as a racing certainty to start on Saturday at Charlton.
April 01: Today's papers were full of analysis, comment and doom and gloom on the situation at Elland Road. But new chairman Professor John McKenzie is taking a positive view - though he knows it won't be easy. He said: "I'm not in this for the short term. It's not a case of two doses of antibiotics and you're fit. This will take time." He's a long-time season ticket holder at Leeds and wants to bring back those European nights to Elland Road - but his experience in turning round companies and organisations with similarly dire financial problems tells him that it's most important to get the books balanced first. "The City is more comfortable when they see you have a situation where the problems aren't getting any worse. A large portion of the debt is long-term - it's not a crisis, but it can't be allowed to grow and needs to be brought down," he said. He won't guarantee that Leeds won't sell any more players to balance the books - but hopes to be able to hang on to the ones who are happy to stay at Leeds. Chelsea's results were also out - and they look to be in almost as bad a state as Leeds, with the obvious difference that their real estate is worth quite a bit more than Elland Road. Having said that, it's clear that there are too many players at Stamford Bridge on massive pay packets who are not really performing to the standard to justify their bulging wallets, and Claudio Ranieri will not be making any big signings in the near future.
April 01: Rio Ferdinand has received a 6 month driving ban with over five grand of costs and fines after being caught speeding for the third time in four years. Ferdinand was doing over 90mph in his Cadillac when stopped last year. Poor love, he'll have to spend a week or so's pay on employing a chauffeur for six months - doesn't your heart bleed?
April 01: Leeds old boy Jamie Forrester will be out of action for the rest of the season after damaging ankle ligaments - and breaking a bone into the bargain - in Hull's win over Shrewsbury last week. Hull are firmly planted in the middle of Division 3 with no real chance of a play-off place and in no danger of relegation, so Peter Taylor will be using the remainder of the season to work out a few things and see what he can do with his limited resources to give them a head start on the promotion race next season.