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June 30: Leeds have attracted another new signing to the club - but this is on the management side of things. Shaun Harvey will become Leeds' new chief operating officer after quitting as Bradford's MD with the Bantams on the point of extinction. Harvey will continue to offer assistance to Bradford as they fight for survival, but their finances are in such a mess (thanks, in no small part, to Geoffrey Richmond) that they could find themselves subject to a winding-up order before the weekend. Harvey said: "I have secured permission from the Leeds board to continue assisting Bradford City in whatever way I can should they request it. Leeds want me to go and work for them but are happy for me to answer the call of the administrators at Bradford. The club are in a very difficult position and with me leaving it means there are unlikely to be any directors left on board for the start of the season. I may be moving to Leeds but I do not want my decision to be of detriment to City."
June 30: No confirmed new arrivals or departures to report so far today, but a bit of speculation doing the rounds nonetheless. First up, we have the stories following on from Peter Lorimer's comments yesterday which seemed to indicate that James Milner was on the point of departure. The papers this morning suggested that Newcastle had put a £5 million bid in, with 75% up front, and that the board had agreed to accept it and ask Milner if he could agree terms with the Magpies. And will the long-awaited departure of Mark Viduka finally materialise? Boro chief exec Keith Lamb travelled out to Croatia to catch up with the player and his family last week and it's believed that Viduka will head straight up to the north-east for a medical on his return rather than reporting back for pre-season training on Monday. There's still some dispute over Viduka's fee - but almost anything over a couple of million net would make the board very happy if it meant getting his wages off the books.
June 30: To the sound of jaws dropping in amazement across the land, Leeds' opening game of the season against Derby at Elland Road will be televised by Sky. The game has been brought forward to a 1215 KO to accommodate the cameras - no doubt the first of many to be shifted at Rupe's behest if we manage a half-decent campaign this season. The visit of Millwall on December 18 has been put back to the Sunday, with a morning/noon kick-off expected. Meanwhile, tickets for the visit to Hibs are now on sale to season ticket holders or folks with last season's Striker Card - £15 apiece or a fiver for concessions.
June 29: Leeds director Peter Lorimer has confirmed that Nick Barmby is leaving the club, with a reported pay-off of £1 million going to the player as compensation for his cancelled contract. Lorimer said: "We will lose money and not get a transfer fee but we will save on what he's owed in wages." Hull City remain favorites to grab the player who was part of the England squad that hammered Germany 5-1 what seems like a lifetime ago.
June 29: Although Nick Barmby might be about to move in at the KC Stadium, Jamie Forrester is on his way out. The much-travelled striker has signed up on a three year deal with Bristol Rovers. Meanwhile, Rotherham's hopes of retaining Jody Morris for next season have taken a knock with the news that Millwall are offering him a two-year deal that will have the added attraction of a (no doubt brief) spell of European football and a return to the capital for the former Chelsea man.
June 29: Michael Duberry is back training at Thorp Arch early this summer - and he's still a Leeds player, contrary to all expectations after failing to seal a deal with Wolves. Ian Harte is another player who has been linked with several other clubs who has yet to agree a move, and with Dominic Matteo, Stephen McPhail, Danny Mills and Mark Viduka all still Leeds players, that spells bad news for the prospects of retaining James Milner. Peter Lorimer sounded like he was preparing the way for a bad-news press release today, when he said: "We've almost doubled [Milner's] salary and in the present situation it would be impossible to offer him more. We hope the kid will stay, but we appreciate he is a much-wanted young player and if he wants to go and gets a better offer there is not much we can do about it. This club has lived well beyond its means in the past and we cannot go down that road again. We are trying to rescue the club, not make the cash situation worse." But Milner's agent poured cold water on Lorimer's statement. He said: "It is important that I make it quite clear that no discussions have yet taken place about a new contract for James. We are very disappointed that speculation has appeared which is totally unfounded. Talks are on hold until Mr Richmond returns from holiday next week and we are looking forward to hearing what Leeds have to offer. Until that happens there is nothing else I can say." More brilliant press relations from LUFC - wonder if we can persuade arch-spin doctor and Burnley fan Alistair Campbell to avail us of some of his spare time.
June 29: With Nick Barmby's contract cancellation deal agreed, Leeds have moved quickly to secure the services of out-of-contract Ipswich midfielder Jermaine Wright. Wright has been mentioned in connection with a Leeds move several times, and now it's finally happened. And yesterday's rumours about Matthew Spring look to be coming true as the player underwent a medical at Leeds this morning. Kevin Blackwell said: "He is a good, strong midfielder who isn't afraid of putting his foot in. He is the sort of player we need in this division. He's got good desire and he's hungry to play here." He went on: "When I spoke to him we never talked about money. That was never an issue because he just wants to play for Leeds. Joe Kinnear worked with him for a few years at Luton and wanted to take him to Notts Forest. He knows all about him and the fact he was keen to sign him speaks volumes." Brum's Ian Bennett and Everton's Steve Simonsen remain on the target list - but it's not clear if they'd be back-up for the talented Scott Carson or if they'd be first choice. From the limited view I had of Carson in a couple of reserve games and at Old Trafford and Chelsea, he deserves his first-team chance, but that's a call for Kev to make. Finally Stephen McPhail is due back from honeymoon shortly and will enter negotiations with Barnsley on personal terms for his move to Oakwell.
June 28: No new signings or sales to confirm today, but Lees have been linked with a move for Luton midfielder Matthew Spring (who he?). Oh, and Ian Harte is apparently wanted by newly-promoted Spanish side Levante: they want him to grace La Liga for his deadball skills but have yet to deny any suggestion that their coach has a vendetta against the bloke who sits in Row Q just behind the goal. Danny Cadamarteri and Michael Ricketts should complete the formalities of their moves to Elland Road this week.
June 28: New signing Julian Joachim says that he wants to help Leeds bounce right back into the top flight next season. He said: "I know what the Premiership is all about and I hope we can go straight back up to that level. I had some good times at that level with Leicester and some especially good seasons with Aston Villa. I'm keen to play in the Premiership again because that's where every player wants to be. The manager is bringing in players who have already played in the division immediately below the Premiership, and that's good. With a strong squad I definitely think we are capable of winning promotion next season." Brave words - let's hope the players can deliver on it!
June 28: Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell says that the signing of Michael Ricketts has sent out a signal to other teams that Leeds are serious about promotion. Blackwell said: "I know that us signing Michael surprised a lot of people in football. It's certainly raised a few eyebrows. He was in the England squad less than two years ago and we have to try and get him back up to that level. We know he can score goals and we also know that's he's done it before at this level. Signing Michael shows everyone the intent of Leeds United and he will be a real asset next season." Hmmmm... next season maybe - but if we do manage to go up, expect him to be dropped faster than Vinnie Jones unless he does discover something like the form that won him an England cap.
June 26: James Milner's representatives are set to meet the at the start of July to discuss a new deal for the player. Milner is represented by PFA deputy chief exec Mick McGuire, who didn't seem to reflect his client's stated enthusiasm to stay at Elland Road when he said: "David Richmond is going away shortly but I'll be speaking to Leeds when he returns from holiday. The situation needs to be discussed and by doing that it may also focus other clubs who want to come in for him because there's been a bit of interest. You don't get too many 18-year-olds in England who attract the attention that he has." But he doesn't want to leave and we don't want to sell him - so unless he's already been tapped up with an offer then surely it's in nobody's interests for McGuire to be making comments like this.
June 26: Yet another player associated with Leeds has been pulled by the police on drink-driving charges. Terry Yorath - currently number two at Huddersfield - was arrested on Thursday night after his Jaguar collided with a woman on Harrogate Road in Leeds. The woman is said to be in a stable condition in hospital, and Yorath was released on police bail.
June 26: Leeds' big-time defensive flop Roque Junior is said to be of interest to Bayer Leverkusen. Leverkusen lost Lucio to Bayern Munich in the summer, and have lighted on the Brazilian World Cup and European Champions League winner as a possible replacement. Amazing how players like this have done so well after failing to impress at Leeds: Raul Bravo was made to look like a worse defensive prospect than Ian Harte, but for all their failures this season, a regular starting place at Real Madrid would have seemed an impossible leap for someone who didn't make an impact at Elland Road. Ditto Teddy Lucic - forced into the background under Peter Reid, but in the Sweden squad for Euro 2004 and a big part of their plans until a rib injury forced him out. So maybe Roque Junior might end up being a big success there after all!
June 25: The fixture list has been out for a day and already we have our first change: the Watford match has been put back from August 30 to August 31 - expect the Sheffield United game the previous weekend to follow suit as soon as Sky make the call on the televised games.
June 25: Nick Barmby - one of the higher earners and the last paid-for signing at the club - could be on his way out. Reports today suggest he is in discussions with the club over terms for ending his contract a year ahead of time, and a move over to Hull City is widely rumoured if that comes off.
June 24: Leeds have announced the new membership scheme for next season, without which you won't be allowed to buy tickets for away games. It's free to season ticket holders, but to those of you who haven't the time or money to commit to making it to every home game this season - for example if you live down in the SouthWest and can only make a couple of games like Plymouth and Brighton, it will cost you a cool £20 just to be allowed the privilege of following the team in the odd away game. The "Forever Leeds" club has a second tier of membership - an extra tenner (or twenty quid if you're a season ticket holder) gets you a couple of magazines and a few bits of Leeds merchandise that probably came straight out of the big pile of cardboard boxes in the club shop at the end of the season. A club spokesman said; "Forever Leeds is a new fan club to take us into a new era. Things change in football - players come and go, clubs' fortunes rise and fall - but supporters are always loyal, often from childhood to retirement. Forever Leeds is one way United fans can feel close to the club and display their loyalty to the world." Rumours that you receive a badge saying "Cash Cow - Please Milk Frequently" have yet to be denied.
June 24: The club have reported that they're well on the way to hitting their target of 18,000 season tickets sold. They've already shifted over 15,000, and with the new season's fixtures out today will be hoping for a boost to get up to the target they've set themselves.
June 24: The fixtures for our campaign in Division 2 (as I will be calling The Coca-Cola Championship from now on in order to avoid any possible confusion with a league that matters) were released today, and we start at home to Derby on August 7. Some genius in Football League HQ has us playing away at Plymouth, Gillingham and Reading on midweek nights (cheers lads) - although it's equally tough on Plymouth, dragging them up to Elland Road in the middle of the Christmas break. The last game of the season is at home to Rotherham, but April will be a tough month if we're in any sort of contention: you'd expect at least five of Wolves, Sheffield United, Watford, QPR, Ipswich and Leicester to be in contention for a play-off spot or outright promotion and it could make or break our own chances depending on how we do in that crucial spell. Chairman Gerald Krasner is happy to see Leeds start at home: "We start a new season with a clean sheet and a reasonably new team. We wanted our first game at home, I think every club does, and to finish at home with a derby is a bonus but hopefully our destiny will be decided by then." He went on: "If we win our first three games then everybody will be delighted, if not they will be dreadfully unhappy and worrying for us again, so it's important we start well." No we'll-sack-the-manager-if-we-don't-win subtext, honest. He went on: "It's good to start with some big games at home, we're hopeful of good crowds to welcome our new players and what is a new beginning for this club."
June 23: Leeds will pay part of Stephen McPhail's wages for next season in a bid to get him off the books and free up some more cash for other players. He still has a year to run on his Leeds deal, but Peter Ridsdale indicated that he's agreed a deal with Leeds which will see the clubs split his pay packet. All PR has to do now is get Paul Hart to persuade him to drop down to Division 3...err I mean Division 2... or "Coca-Cola Division 1" as the third division of English football is now known.
June 23: Gerald Krasner was quoted recently as saying that there would be no more purchases without guaranteed sales of current squad members in place. Well from where I'm sitting, we've not managed to offload any player who wasn't out of contract since Alan Smith signed off, so the apparently imminient arrivals of Danny Cadamarteri and Michael Ricketts could be taken as an indication that the departure board is about to light up. The players are back for pre-season training in just over a week - it will be interesting to see how many of the relegation squad are still around when Kevin Blackwell has his first real session with them.
June 23: Former Leeds defender Neil Aspin is to join the coaching staff at Darlington after making a part-time contribution to the Quakers last season. As well as long stints at Leeds and Port Vale, Aspin spent a bit over a season at Darlo, and has recently been managing Harrogate Town.
June 23: The medical staff at Thorp Arch are certainly busy at the moment! After processing Danny Cadamarteri on Tuesday, they're now set to run the rule over Boro's Michael Ricketts as Steve McClaren looks to offload another expensive flop from the Riverside. Ricketts cost £3.5 million less than 18 months ago, jilting Spurs in favour of a switch to the north-east, but has made little impact up there and few Boro fans will be sad to see him go. A Pompey fan at the final game of last season told me that he was so overweight, he couldn't run properly because his shorts were too tight: maybe a bit of poetic licence, but he's fallen a long way since he made his England debut against Holland after spearheading Bolton's promotion campaign in 2001. It's thought that Ricketts will be a nominal or free transfer but with a bonus payment due to Boro if Leeds manage to win promotion back to the top flight.
June 22: Mark Aizlewood - described in some papers as a "former Leeds player" despite the fact that he played more games for Luton, Charlton and Bristol City - was fined £1,500 for assaulting a reporter, pushing her down some stairs. No doubt if he'd still been at Elland Road, the prosecution would have applied for the reintroduction of the death penalty for the same crime.
June 22: The reserve team will continue to play their home games at Wakefield's Belle Vue next season. The club had considered using Elland Road, but decided against it on the grounds of cost (opening ER is a lot more expensive than at the much smaller ground) and also on the grounds that the pitch would suffer, particularly given that we'll be playing more games this season.
June 22: Kevin Blackwell has turned down the chance to take Newcastle's midfielder Hugo Viana on a season-long loan as part of a package designed to tempt Leeds to part with James Milner. Viana's contributions in the Premier League have been fitful, and the Leeds coach thinks he's too lightweight to cope with the demands of Division 1. Speaking of which, Leeds have agreed terms with Barnsley for the departure of Stephen McPhail, although the player himself has still to agree personal terms with Peter Ridsdale. Ridsdale said: "We have agreed a deal with Leeds that will see Stephen come to Oakwell, but he's on honeymoon and we will have to wait. We have permission to talk to him now but there are other clubs watching developments with interest." Of course, if PR brings his world-renowned poker-face negotiating skills to the table, McPhail and his agent will probably knock him over in the rush to sign on the dotted line before anyone with half an ounce of sense stops him doling out another huge chunk of salary on a no-incentive basis.
June 22: A couple of big-name striker signings to report today. First up, we have Karen Walker joining Leeds United Ladies from Doncaster Belles. Walker is one of the best-known footballers in the women's game, and retired from international football last season with 40 goals in 83 matches. She said: "I think Leeds can challenge this season and I am looking forward to being part of it. Having played under the manager and the coach before at Belles, I know how they work I am looking forward to pre-season training." Meanwhile Danny Cadamarteri - okay, that's a long name rather than a big one per se - was in Leeds for a medical today after the club beat off stiff competition from high-rollers Chester, Wigan and Stoke to snap up the 24-year-old Bradford player. Much was expected of him after a good start to his career at Everton, but injury left him sidelined for much of last season.
June 21: With Leeds being mentioned in connection with every other player on the market, it's hardly surprising that there should be the suggestion that someone who scored against us should receive a shout. But Swindon chief exec says that there's no truth in the rumour that Leeds had made a bid for their striker Sam Parkin, who netted in last season's League Cup game at Elland Road. He said: "There has been no approach or offer, official or unofficial, from Leeds United with regard to Sam Parkin. I have no idea where some of these stories come from to be honest. It's obviously a quiet time and maybe some people are looking for speculation to fill space. They see Leeds linked with one Division Two striker, it doesn't happen, so they move on to the next player, who happens to be Sam Parkin. We are not in a position where we have to sell Sam and we feel he has an important part to play in the forthcoming campaign." Simple fact is, there appears to be no more cash in the kitty until we see some more departures, so get ready for a long, painful summer.
June 20: Chairman Gerald Krasner has been taking the happy pills - and it's all down to us. Apparently our "realistic" expectations are making things a bit easier for them all at Elland Road. He said: "The supporters are much more realistic about next year's aspirations than the media give them credit for. We are back on the sports pages where we belong now and we are getting on with things. I wouldn't say the mood has become more optimistic but I would say that the reality is if we win our first three matches of next season then everybody will be less critical." That's one big if! Fixtures are out next week, so we'll see just who those three games are against real soon (and you can bet they'll be on Sky so don't go booking your train tickets just yet!).
June 19: Leeds chairman Gerald Krasner says that the tidal wave of departures from Elland Road could soon be at an end - and not just because there aren't any players left! Danny Mills, Dominic Matteo, Mark Viduka, Michael Duberry and Stephen McPhail are all on the point of making their exits - but Krasner is rock solid that James Milner is staying. He said. "There will come a time when we've got rid of all the players we want to get rid of and there will be an announcement." Yeah, on deadline day at the end of August!
June 19: It seems that we're cooling our interest - whether due to terminal lack of funds, the player's requirements or the fact that Kev has decided against them on football grounds. Either way, we've pulled out of the race to sign Liam Lawrence after the player failed to meet with club representatives this week, and interest is also cooling on Barry Hayles - and Paul Gerrard appears to have been replaced in our attention by Ian Bennett. So it looks like we really will have to wait and see who leaves first before any more bodies come a-knocking at the Elland Road door.
June 19: Harry Kewell is taking Gary Lineker and the Telgraph to court over an article which appeared nearly a year ago, criticising the manner of the Australian's switch from Leeds to Liverpool. I've read what I think is the offending article, and to be quite honest I've no idea what Kewell is on about when he alleges libel: Lineker seems to suggest that he's in receipt of bad advice - or maybe it's Kewell's interpretation that Lineker is saying that he's too stupid to recognise how bad a deal he's been cut when his agent can walk away from a deal with almost as much as the player himself. Whatever - look forward to this coming to court and hope it ends up as a jury trial with me as unvbiased foreman :-)
June 18: The failure of Mark Viduka's agents to find a club willing to take the player's huge salary onto its books has held up Kevin Blackwell's bid to add more players to Leeds' Division 1 squad. It's pretty clear from what's been said over the last week that Blackwell has more or less hit his budget limit until the board have a guarantee of further departures - so that means we could miss out on Liam Lawrence, Jason McAteer and Brum backup keeper Ian Bennett. Still no sign of a move for Danny Mills either - so that's at least 100K a week that we need off the wage bill before we can make any nore transfer moves.
June 17: With no sign of any solid action on player sales, the deadline for repaying a chunk of cash to Jack Petchey is approaching - and with it the knowledge that we might be forced to lose our last "crown jewel" at a knockdown price. James Milner didn't want to jump out of the Elland Road frying pan into the White Hart Lane fire, but could be persuaded to move to St James Park, to play alongside Kieron Dyer and Jermaine Jenas - some of the next generation of England midfielders. But mere cash won't be enough to prise him away from Leeds: if we are to sell him to the Magpies, we've asked for the services of Gary Speed in return. Except Speed - with the Premier League's appearance record and still looking good at 34 - reckons he can still do a job in the top flight and is not yet ready to do "a Strachan" and help drag Leeds back up.
June 17: The latest lower-division player to be added to Kevin Blackwell's wanted list is Mansfield winger Liam Lawrence, according to some reports today. However, Leeds' failure to sign Torquay's David Graham - because Wigan offered better personal terms - does not augur well for our ability to compete with other clubs with aspirations for promotion. Blackwell said: "The first week or two in July will be when you find most progress is done in the transfer market. The situation is we are waiting on a few moves from here to other clubs going through before we can bring in more new additions to the squad. When those players do leave the picture will also be clearer and I will have a better understanding of how much is in the pot for me to spend. At the moment we're looking and putting out the feelers, but we're having to be patient." Rough translation: we're screwed.
June 17: Jermaine Pennant remains committed to fighting for his place at Highbury - despite some reports today saying he's ready to walk away and join France boss Jacques Santini's efforts to rebuild the side at White Hart Lane. Santini indicated he wanted to focus on the midfield, and Pennant's performances last season would certainly merit a place in a Premier League side, but realistically not that of the Champions unless he shows far more consistency and a better end product. So maybe a move away would be the right thing for him, but surely a move to Arsenal's bitter rivals (that's rivals in more or less the same way as we are to ManU - a few miles apart geographically, (usually) in the same division, but not really on the same planet whatever the fans may think) would be out of the question.
June 16: David Batty's agent today confirmed that he would be retiring from the professional game when his contract expires at the end of this month - but denied stories that he was going to move into the world of Superbikes. Batty's love of two wheels is well-known, and stories this morning suggested that he would set up his own racing team - possibly in the USA - but Hayden Evans dismissed the suggestion out of hand.
June 16: Gary Kelly today opened a support centre for cancer sufferers in his home town of Drogheda, built in memory of his late sister and funded from the money raised in his testimonial game against Celtic. The centre will be named after Kelly, and will offer free counselling and support to all sufferers in the area. Kelly's agent said: "This is a bit of an upside for Gary after such a disappointing season for him personally. There was about another half a million Euros raised locally and this appeal has really caught the imagination of people here, the fundraising efforts have been fantastic." The player himself, speaking to Radio Leeds, said: "It's not just a special day for the Kelly family, it's a special day for the people of Drogheda too, there's an awful lot of people affected by cancer and without everybody's help this would not have been possible."
June 16: The reserves have two new games added to their pre-season schedule. They face Scarborough at the McCain Stadium on July 17, with a 3pm KO while the first team are over in Sweden, and they then take on Billingham Synthonia at Central Avenue a fortnight later.
June 15: Although Kevin Blackwell is now heading off for a break before the start of pre-season training, there's still some work going on behind the scenes, and he expects to see at least five more players sign on before the start of the new season. Obviously enough, Leeds still need a keeper for cover, and despite the arrival of Julian Joachim, a new striker will also be needed, as will some more creative players in midfield. And a new left-back if Danny Pugh is played in midfield (unless Ian Harte rediscovers any sort of form during the next fortnight). Blackwell said: "We're still looking for another five players at least, and we're confident we can do that. Some of them will be done in July, and some will be squad players as well because one way or another over the past year we have lost what I call our back-up." He went on: "There was no strength in depth last season, when we had a few injuries that was it, we were struggling to put 11 players out at times. You play more games in the First Division and you can't account for injuries, so I want to make sure we are prepared." And Blackwell is stressing that he's looking for - and finding - the right sort of people: "None of them have asked for outrageous money or made any demands, the main thing for them was whether they could come up and get the chance to talk to me. I have to say that is very pleasing from a coach's point of view, and what we want as fans and staff is players who want to play for the club first and foremost, the money side of things comes later. What I have found is that these players want to come to Leeds because of the club and be part of a new era here."
June 15: Everton boss David Moyes has joined the race to sign Dominic Matteo, but Blackburn remain favorites. Moyes said: "He's one of a number of players we are interested in. We are keeping an eye on his situation." Which probably means somewhere between "We are actively trying to convince him that we'll offer more money and a better chance than Souness" to "Well, if he doesn't sign for Blackburn I guess we could chat to him..." Meanwhile Craig Nettelbeck of Viduka's management team pointed to a possible imminent switch to the Riverside for his client. "Mark is more than interested in Middlesbrough. He rates the club, the manager and the training set-up highly." And he went on: There's a chance he would not even have to move house if he joined them and the fact they are in Europe next season is a big plus. Nothing is set in stone as yet regarding talks. But we will be beginning discussions in the next few weeks."
June 15: Leeds were set to lose out on a late move for Torquay striker David Graham. The player was on the point of agreeing a move to Wigan before Leeds stepped in with a late bid, but Wigan boss Paul Jewell was pretty confident of sealing the deal. Meanwhile, Leeds are also waiting on news of the bid to bring Barry Hayles to Elland Road. Hayles is understood to be reluctant to step down a division - but wants a first team spot that he simply won't be able to get given the current competition at Fulham.
June 14: Danny Mills seems to be running out of first-choice options for his career next season. Now it's newly-promoted Norwich being talked about rather than any of the European contenders. Mills started his career at Carrow Road before switching to Charlton, so it would be a return home for the defender, who is anxious to kick-start his international career. He said: "I will look at every possibility and, if Norwich came in with an acceptable offer, I would be happy to play there."
June 14: Kevin Blackwell's attempts to rebuild the team have continued apace with the arrival of Paul Butler and Julian Joachim. Butler signed a two-year deal (seems the norm now) on Monday afternoon after rejecting a contract extension at Molineux. Julian Joachim also completed a medical at the weekend and like the other out-of-contract players, formally becomes a Leeds player on July 1. Kevin Blackwell says: "I'm delighted that Julian and Paul have agreed to join us, I'm sure they will be great assets to the club and bring with them a wealth of Premiership and First Division experience which is crucial."
June 11: There may not be any rest for the wicked, but this weekend is where I get my break. Once again we're off to sample the hospitality of the good people of Pussay, play a bit of footy and have what should be an interesting night out in Paris on Sunday: I believe there's some football match going on somewhere that we might end up watching... Normal service resumes on Monday afternoon.
June 10: There was some speculation today that David Batty would be offered one last hurrah in his career with a switch to Chesterfield for the new season. But Spireites assistant boss Lee Richardson reckons that's a very unlikely option. He said: "I do not think Batty wants to play football any more and I don't think he'd make us a better team." Ouch! He went on: "I'd rather have Gareth Davies or Derek Niven and if you had Batty in your team you could not play a midfield four because he has not got the legs. Opponents would go past him, he cannot move around or tackle as well as he used to." Don't know where he gets his info from - if you were to believe Batty's agent last season he was as fit as a fiddle and only missed out on tactical grounds!
June 10: The friendly match against Oldham has been brought forward a day now that Leeds have the big pre-season game against Valencia at Elland Road. The Oldham game will kick off at 7:45pm on Friday 23 July, with the Valencia game starting at 3pm on the Sunday afternoon.
June 10: Coventry's out-of-favour and out-of-contract striker Julian Joachim is next on the list for Kevin Blackwell. He's had plenty of experience with Leicester, Villa and Cov, but has had several spells out with injury and has only managed about one goal every four appearances. Barry Hayles remains on the wanted list to give the Leeds attack some teeth next season, but he is still looking for a Premier League club if he can find one.
June 10: Leeds have given Blackburn permission to discuss terms with Dominic Matteo after the Lancashire club made an offer thought to exceed Man City's loan bid last month. Meanwhile Michael Duberry's move to Wolves looks set to complete in the next few days - but the player will have to take a pay cut and Leeds will end up funding half of his wages while he's playing for a direct competitor in the struggle to escape from Division 2...err..I mean Division 1...that is to say the Coca-Cola Championship.
June 09: As the club signed up a player with an acknowledged drink problem, Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell made it clear that he expected both new arrivals and existing players to adhere to the highest standards of behaviour, and the sort of attitude that has seen Seth Johnson, Eirik Bakke, Jermaine Pennant, Jody Morris, Jon Woodgate, Rio Ferdinand and Lee Bowyer all come to the attention of the police - never mind dodgy publicity for several others - will not be tolerated in the future. Blackwell said: "We know there is a line to be drawn in the sand and hopefully this is a point to move forward from. Anyone who comes to Leeds United now will be more than aware that they have responsibilities to this football club, the supporters and to the image of how we want to present ourselves as a club. That point will be hammered home to them." And Blackwell also said the club was going to be working on the disaster area that has been its media relations for the last few years. He said: "It would appear there is a right way and a wrong way of doing things and we have become past masters at doing it the wrong way, that's something the club has to address as a whole. Our PR and appearance to the outside world has to improve dramatically, because for the past three years it has been nothing but a shambles." Can't fault any of that - let's hope the players and board help him deliver on that promise.
June 09: With Danny Pugh and Clarke Carlisle already on board, Kevin Blackwell says that he's got a number of new signings lined up and ready to join Leeds when their existing deals expire on June 30. He said: "We have spoken to quite a few players who are keen to join us and they will undergo medicals next week." Rumours suggest Danny Tiatto, Paul Butler and Jermaine Wright are the main targets - with Paul Gerrard also under the spotlight as backup for Scott Carson. Which still leaves us short of at least a left back and striker by my reckoning - watch this space!
June 09: Michael Bridges has signed a two-year deal with Bolton and is hoping to put his injury problems behind him. He was impressed by what Sam Allardyce had to say, and signed on at the Reebok today - although formally he's still a Leeds player until June 30. Bridges said: "I was impressed by everything at Bolton the gaffer, the stadium and the players at the club. I had a few offers from other clubs, but Sam's influence and their status in The Premiership was a major factor in the move." And he added: "I am looking forward to playing at Bolton next season and with the likes of Jay-Jay Okocha feeding me the chances to score it is exciting. It is a massive challenge and Bolton are on the way up considering how they finished last season and that was a big plus point for me." Meanwhile Lee Matthews has found himself a new club already - looks like he'll be filling the gap left by Portugal-bound Leeds wannabe Steve McPhee at Port Vale, signing a two-year deal after being released by Bristol City. Finally, Stephen McPhail is said to be on the brink of swallowing a huge pay cut in order to get some first team football with Barnsley next season.
June 08: Dominic Matteo's name is now being linked with a move to Blackburn Rovers, with Graeme Souness keen to bolster the defence that left them struggling close to the drop zone for much of the season. Looks like we need a clone machine - we could sell the bloke four times over this summer!
June 08: QPR defender Clarke Carlisle was so keen to sign for Leeds that he cut short a holiday in Tenerife in order to speak to coach Kevin Blackwell. He was due to be in Leeds for a full medical today, and will be free to sign an agreed two-year deal as soon as his Rangers contract expires on June 30. Kevin Blackwell was pleased to land his second signing of the summer. He said: "My understanding is that he has turned down better offers from elsewhere so wages weren't an issue. He is here because he wants to play for Leeds United. He will give is more competition for places at the back and there will be plenty of games next season when we need a big powerful player. He showed good character in coming back from a career-threatening injury to play a big part for QPR last season. He's an articulate lad who wants to do well." Carlisle scored six times in just over a hundred appearances for Rangers and made a major contribution to their promotion last season.
June 08: When most of us get out of school or university, we resolve never to sit another exam again. Not Kevin Blackwell though: the Leeds coach is due to join former Leeds keeper Mervyn Day as the only fully qualified coach in the English game. Like Day, Blackwell is a former keeper, and has a full licence for both keepers and outfield players, a UEFA Pro licence, a diploma in sports psychology and this week is set to add the LMA Certificate in Applied Management. A new wall is being built in his office at Elland Road to support the vast array of paper he has earned from his studies. Now let's see if he can apply his paper knowledge to what goes on out on the field...
June 07: Danny Mills was on the receiving end of some harsh words from Boro today after targeting the club with his own broadside last week. Mills had suggested that the rumours going round about possible transfer targets at the Riverside was purely a publicity stunt designed to boost season ticket sales. But a Boro spokesman rubbished Mills' suggestion, saying: "We are making comfortable progress on the transfer front. Though we have nothing to announce at the moment, we are confident of having three new players of the right calibre in place for pre-season training." And the player is still no closer to signing a new deal with another club.
June 07: Former Leeds striker Lee Matthews has been released by Bristol City at the end of his contract with the club. He's had a variety of loan spells with different clubs over the last few months, but failed to find another club, despite it being made clear he had no future at City and would be available on a free. Matthews enjoyed great success at Youth Team level at Leeds, but only managed three substitute appearances for the first team.
June 07: Kevin Blackwell said that he'd signed Sam Ellis as his new assistant for the depth of his experience and knowledge of the lower divisions. We had the first insight into his deep understanding of the way the Nationwide works today when he said: "Leeds will be a target in this league. Almost the same way everyone in the Premiership will want to beat Arsenal after their great season. Now it's a very different Leeds that will be playing in the First Division but they will still be the scalp everyone wants. Teams will want to beat them more than anybody and they will have a shock if they are not ready for that." Incredible! I'd never have thought of that in a million years. No wonder they're paying this man good money to help Kev. And his further deep knowledge of football was put on show as he said: "Players have got to go and match teams for effort, commitment and fitness. When they're doing that they'll be able to take the initiative and boss teams around. If they don't do that though, they'll be in for a shock because the First Division is tough and we don't want any nasty surprises." He's talking about a team that have been beaten by Sheffield United, Cardiff and Tranmere in recent years, and were taken to penalties by Swindon less than 12 months ago, so I guess that it's probably worth a mention since the players have clearly not learned from past mistakes in that department. Tomorrow, Ellis will be giving a press conference in which he explains that the team that scores the most goals will win the game.
June 07: QPR's out-of-contract defender Clarke Carlisle is set to join Leeds subject to a medical in the next couple of weeks. Carlisle is a lanky centreback with England U-21 appearances to his name, but has also had the sort of problems that should make Kevin Blackwell think once, twice and then again after he missed part of last season when he checked himself in for alcohol rehab. Meanwhile Port Vale's Steve McPhee will quit England according to his agent. SC Beira Mar in Portugal is his destination, after Vale insisted on a large fee from any domestic club that might be interested in taking him on. Another Steve also in the news is "Don't let it bounce" Caldwell. The Newcastle player is another who is out of contract this summer, and with Leeds relegated and less of an attraction it seems he will now revert to his original plan for next season by joining Mick McCarthy's Sunderland side.
June 06: The latest addition to Leeds' target list is Jason McAteer according to press reports to day. McAteer has been released by Sunderland at the end of his contract, and Kevin Blackwell could find himself in competition with his former boss Neil Warnock for the services of the Ireland international. McAteer's performances for Sunderland have been a bit erratic and he looks to be losing his pace - but he might still be able to do a job as a holding midfielder for us - presuming we don't end up selling Frazer Richardson of course. Meanwhile we're also after Ipswich's Jermaine Wright, according to the ever active agent Jonathan Barnett. Maybe we'll see a real move materialise next week...
June 05: James Milner is set to start talks with the club over a new deal and is determined to remain at Leeds. Despite the chance of playing in the Premiership with Spurs, Milner says that he wishes to stay at Elland Road to improve his game for the moment - but it's still anticipated that he will cop for a big pay rise into the bargain. Of course, his tenure at Elland Road might just be cut short if the club fail to receive any more bids to lighten the wage bill - but it's nice to see a bit of commitment from a hometowm player.
June 05: Paul Butler is ready to walk away from Wolves after failing to agree a new deal with the Molineux board, and Leeds could just be his destination. He's extremely unhappy that Wolves have only offered him a one-year deal, despite performing well for the club for the last three years, and is agen Jonathan Barnett says: "We are not planning any further talks with Wolves. If they come back to us then fine, but we think that they have made us their best offer and we already have others to consider. We will accept whatever offer is right for Paul. But as far as we are concerned it is unlikely that Paul will stay at Wolves." Kevin Blackwell has been tracking Butler for a while, but could face some competition for his services from Derby - but maybe we'll see him switch places with Michael Duberry.
June 05: The good folks at the Football Fans Census want your thoughts on the recent England performances. What did you think of the 1-1 with Japan - or tonight's 6-1 win over Iceland? Great preparation for Portugal or flattering to deceive? Give them a click and let them know now.
June 05: Paul Okon's slump from Aussie skipper and Premier League player to barely-employable journeyman appears almost complete. After failing to establish himself in Serie B with Vicenza, he returned to Belgium where he had previously enjoyed success with FC Brugge, but this time playing in the second division with KV Oostende. Well now it seems that he's on the point of quitting them as well, and if he does decide to continue it seems he can't see himself playing at any higher level. He said: "I'm exhausted and seriously considering calling it a day. I think it has been enough for me after a career of 14 years. I'm leaving for Australia next week. I will decide my future with my family but if I do continue my career, it will be at Oostende."
June 04: Danny Mills is burning his bridges and pouring petrol on the flames. He says that there is no chance of a permanent move to Boro - but insists that it's not his wage demands that are the cause of the problem. He said: "I really can't see the point of why they have made these suggestions other than the fact that it is just another excuse to prevent any possible backlash from the fans. It is the fans who I feel really sorry for. The club are continually being linked with big names and releasing statements suggesting they are pursuing this player and that player, just as they insisted throughout my time there they would definitely sign me come the end of the season." He went on: "It's all left a rather sour taste after winning the Carling Cup and I would only describe it as seedy politics. I've not heard a thing from them since the last game of the season. When I read my demands were impossible to meet, it just left me gobsmacked after all their promises."
June 04: Some lucky folks found an early present in the post today when the new home kit dropped on their doormats. For everybody else, the kit hits the streets tomorrow with a big launch party at Elland Road. It's not clear yet whether you will be given one or two items of "Smith 17" clothing with every new home shirt purchased, but would suggest the fire brigade attend just in case an impromptu bonfire breaks out next to Billy's statue.
June 04: David Wetherall could be set to have an extended crack at managing relegated Bradford City next season if the board of the cash-strapped club fail to reach an agreement to extend Bryan Robson's contract. Wetherall had one game as caretaker manager last season, and his agent Hayden Evans said: "It's a position that would certainly interest him. He enjoyed his time as caretaker manager for what it was worth and, like all players at this point in their career, he's starting to look towards management as a future option. David's been taking his coaching badges, and he's done as much as anybody to support Bradford City both financially and in terms of playing. It's safe to assume that he'd consider the position." Wetherall is still only 33 and is still warmly-regarded by Leeds fans - not least for his two goals against Manchester United which both led to victories for Leeds - maybe we could find a place for him in the threadbare squad that we're likely to be left with: he can'tpossibly be any worse than Michael Duberry!
June 04: Former Leeds starlet Matthew Jones has given up on his football career and will look elsewhere for future employment after a persistent knee injury has forced him into retirement. Jones came through the youth system but found himself peripheral to David O'Leary's vision and moved on to Leicester City. Speaking to BBC Wales, he said: "I've had every possible treatment I was recommended and even went as far as having surgery on my back which had a risk of paralysing me from the waist down. Any normal person would probably not do that, but for me I would do anything to get back playing the game love. When I sat down with the surgeon three weeks ago I was nearly in tears. Everything I had ever dreamed for has been taken away from me. I have lived my dream because all my ambitions were to pay football and I achieved that. It was fantastic and I just feel that a couple of weeks ago I was woken up from my dream and someone wouldn't me go back to sleep. I've tried for so many months to fall back into this dream of being a football player again but unfortunately I can't. I've got to accept it and be grown up about it and not feel sorry for myself. I've got to get on with it and make something exciting of my life again." Jones picked up 13 full caps for Wales plus 7 at U-21 level, and played 33 times for Leeds without ever troubling the scoreboard. Hopefully he'll get an insurance pay-off to help set himself up - and if nowt else he probably picked up a decent cut of his £3.25 million transfer to fall back on in hard times. Good luck for whatever lies ahead of you Matt.
June 04: Leeds have made a "derisory" bid for Port Vale striker Steve McPhee. Vale want to hang on to the player, but he has yet to sign a new deal and although he can move on to another club of his own choice, because of his age, Vale will be due a fee. Leeds can ill-afford to go to a tribunal and be forced to pay serious money for the player, but Vale chairman Bill Bratt said: "[The offer] was rejected out of hand. We want to keep Steve McPhee because we believe his future is with us. The amount Leeds offered was, in my opinion, not even worth considering."
June 04: After witnessing the fantastic support that Leeds fans have given to a bunch of highly-paid under-achievers living the high life on the back of the sweat and toil of the fans, I hope that any of you who are in Leeds on Monday manage to take a few minutes from your lunch hour to offer the same sort of support to someone who really deserves it. Jane Tomlinson has achieved national - and international - recognition for her determination and fund-raising efforts since being diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2000. Given just months to live, she has since completed three marathons, a triathlon, a Lands End to John O'Groats bike ride and is now on the final leg of a tandem ride from Rome to Leeds that has taken in many great sights around Europe but - typically - also some amazing challenges such as the ascent of Mont Ventoux, which frequently does for the hyper-fit professionals on the Tour de France. She's due to finish the 2,500-mile ride in her home town on Monday with an ETA at the Town Hall of 1.30pm, and the Lord Mayor and a large number of civic bigwigs will be there to congratulate her on her achievement - but the organisers are hoping for as large a crowd as can be mustered to give her a big welcome home. She's already raised over half a million quid for a variety of charities and already this journey has raised £135,000 more. If you can't make it to the Town Hall on Monday, maybe you'd like to consider donating a small sum to add to the total - it's hard to think of many more worthy causes. Donate online here or send in your donation in the more traditional way to: The Jane Tomlinson Appeal, Yorkshire Building Society, Commercial Street, Rothwell, Leeds LS26 0AW. Sort Code: 57 00 45. Account No: 5349471430 or by phone on on 0845 120 0829.
June 03: Harry Kewell's continual problem with niggling injuries could bring his career to a premature end, according to Socceroos coach Frank Farina. Kewell has missed the latest batch of World Cup qualifiers, and Farina said: "Harry genuinely has a problem - he is looking long term; he's got the larger part of his career to go. If he doesn't manage himself properly now, his career could be cut short. You look at Marco van Basten; he retired early through a bad ankle injury." Awww...poor love. Must be the strain of carrying that bulging wallet in his trousers.
June 03: Leeds chairman Gerald Krasner says he's happy that season ticket sales are hitting the targets the club has set. Apparently they've now got confirmed renewals from 12,000 of us - nearly 3,000 down on last season but not bad in the circumstances. Krasner said: "We are delighted to have passed the 12,000 ticket mark. We confidently expect season ticket sales this season to be somewhere between 16,500 and 18,000, so we are delighted with the response so far. Also the 20-year season tickets are beginning to pick up and that is a sign of renewed optimism of the supporters." Either that or the local happy-pill supplier is running a buy-one-get-two-free promotion or Yorkshire Water are experimenting with new additives in the mains.
June 03: Leeds will play a pre-season friendly at home this summer - and it's quite a coup for the club with UEFA Cup holders and Spanish Champions Valencia returning to Elland Road for a warm-up game. By then, they could be managed by Claudio Ranieri - and if he manages to pick up some of Mourinho's cast-offs there could be more familiar faces appearing in away shirts than in home strips. The game is provisionally scheduled for a 3pm KO on Sunday 25 July - just one day after the currently planned game at Oldham, so it's unclear what will happen to that. Gerald Krasner is clearly not the most sensitive soul - he said: "We are delighted to have the first home pre-season fixture for many years against such glamorous opposition... It's the first pre-season game at Elland Road for many years, and we believe it is right to start a new tradition of having at least one high-profile,glamorous friendly each season at home. What better way to start off than with a game against our Champions League semi-final opponents of three years ago. It should be fantastic." That's right mate, what better way to start off a season in Division 1 with a reminder that three years ago we made it to the last four in Europe's top club competition - fantastic!
June 03: Kevin Blackwell today unveiled his new assistant: Sam Ellis. Who he? Well he was part of Stan Ternent's coaching staff at Burnley last season and has had spells in charge of Bury and Blackpool, where he did a salvage job after they had slipped right down the divisions. Kevin Blackwell said: "Sam is very experienced at First Division level which is just what we need at this club. He will be a valuable asset as we try and get out of this division as quickly as possible." Not quite the sort of high-profile name associated with successful sides you'd have hoped, but maybe he will do a good job behind the scenes. And if the manager wants him, that's the end of the story: Blackwell will have a tough time of it due to the continuing financial mess, but on the footballing side of things he will stand or fall on his own judgement calls, so if he says that Ellis is the right man to be working alongside him, it's only fair we give the pair of them the chance to deliver the goods before we start delivering our judgement.
June 03: Former Leeds reserve keeper Danny Milosevic is still on the lookout for a new club. After blowing his chance at Celtic last season when he went AWOL for "personal" reasons, Milosevic has had a trial at Stockport and did enough to impress boss Sammy McIlroy into offering him a two-year deal to finally get a starting berth in England. But Milosevic has higher ambitions, and has been taken on trial at Millwall. You never know, if that doesn't work out he could always come back to Elland Road as cover for Scott Carson!
June 02: Many of the papers this morning carried the story that Leeds were about to employ former Walsall boss Colin Lee. Lee was sacked by Walsall after he requested that he be allowed to speak to Plymouth after they lost Paul Sturrock. But later in the day, the official website carried a statement from Blackwell refuting the suggestion that an appointment was imminent. Blackwell said: "I have not made a decision on that yet, as we stand I will be speaking to two or three people today. I'm working hard to make sure I get the staff in who will help to rebuild the infrastructure at the club, and who will have the right qualities we need to ensure our players are the best prepared in the First Division next season."
June 02: Brian Deane's brief stay at West Ham will come to an end this summer, and a return to one of his old stamping grounds is on the cards. But will it be Bramall Lane or will he come back to his home town club? Kevin Blackwell's main striking target is Dion Dublin, who also looks likely to return to the site of former glories at Highfield Road, so if that move fails to come off Deano could be a useful fallback option. I guess that this means we've now got a rough idea of what Kev's tactics are likely to be next season anyway! Other incomers are apparently Danny Tiatto and Julian Joachim - out of contract from Man City and Cov respectively. Both have decent top-flight experience, and Blackwell will face stiff competition for Tiatto's signature from West Brom's Gary Megson as the Baggies continue to make gradual improvements to their squad with their second stint in the Premiership in three years. Danny Mills' wage demands appear to be blowing his chances of finding a new club: Leeds only want a nominal fee in order to get his £2 million a year salary off the books, but Newcastle seem set to follow Boro's lead and demur at the size of the right-back's pay packet, leaving the field clear for a move by Steve Bruce at Brum. Finally, Dom Matteo is happy in the north - so last week's putative move to Fulham is now off the agenda, but a switch to Eastlands to bolster Kev's leaky back line becomes more of a possibilty.
June 02: Coach Kevin Blackwell says that players who are after cash rather than kudos are not welcome in his squad. He didn't name any names, but made it clear he wasn't happy with the attitude of some players who were intent on staying at the club on a huge wage packet when they knew the club could not afford it, while not contributing much on the pitch. He said: "We can't sustain our wage bill now we have dropped into the First Division. More players will have to leave and I'm looking to bring in players who want to be heroes. For those players, Leeds is the place to be. If it's about money, they can walk out of the door. I have to look at people who can handle the massive expectations at Leeds, the passion of the fans and those 46 cup finals - so psychologically they have to be prepared. They must be physically strong too because the first division is very demanding." And he said he was hoping for the fans to stick with the club and back the team in the same way they had done as the club slipped out of the Premiership. He said: "[The fans] knew the state of the club, the club was very, very close to the precipice in February and we could well have been out of existence. Instead of me sitting here as manager there might have been no club to manage. All we need now is to march on together, move on as a unit and make sure that gone are the days of boom and bust. I will give everything I have got, if they want to accept me fine but if not then I can't do anything about that, but what I promise is that I will give 120% all the time and everybody that comes here will do the same."
June 01: Leeds chairman Gerald Krasner says there is no danger that the Academy setup at Elland Road will be dismantled to save money. Although the club no longer has any scouts on its books and has just given notice to half of the coaching staff who work with the youngsters, Krasner insists that the Academy provides the club's best bet of improving things in the future. He said: "If you're trying to save a business from going under, you don't cut so deep that it is impossible to recover. The patient needs surgery or he'll die, but you don't cut out more than is necessary. So whatever we do, we'll not be cutting the Academy. Without that, there is no Leeds United." And he went on: "Our immediate priority is to put together a squad capable of winning promotion as soon as possible. We already have some good youngsters, we will retain some experienced players and bring others in, though there will have to be more departures to cut the wage bill." But rumours as to the fate of Thorp Arch persist, and with property developer Simon Morris calling the shots in the board meetings, they are not likely to go away until detailed financial plans for the club's future are released.
June 01: The shadowy forces that control Leeds will soon be appointing a new number 2 to work alongside Kevin Blackwell. With number 17 having already managed a successful escape attempt from Elland Road, security has been stepped up and several players were wandering around in abject terror at the white spherical objects that have been seen flying towards them for much of the season. According to the official propaganda organ, Blackwell's choice as assistant has seven years' experience in Division 1, but it is expected that the indoctrination procedure he will undergo on signing a contract will wipe all of that from his memory. Blackwell announced that there would be a Year Zero approach at the club: "I want a new culture at this football club, we can draw a line in the sand now and anybody who comes into the club knows exactly what is expected of them." And in a wonderful example of making-the-best-of-the-situation, Blackwell adds: "Gone are the days when money seemed to be the answer to all ills, it certainly isn't now." That's right Kevin - we're so far gone that divine intervention is the only way that things are going to improve! Sorry folks, I'm feeling a bit pessimistic today!
June 01: Leeds United Ladies have got three players in the England U-21 Squad which has been named today. The squad gets even less of a break than the men this summer - with the England team having a training camp at Lilleshall mid-June, with an 8-way tourney in Norway in late July. Leeds' talented trio are Alex Culvin, Nicole Emmanuel and over-age player Stacey Daniel.