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July 31: Former Leeds striker Noel Whelan has hooked up with Aberdeen on a trial session. He said: "Hopefully I can do enough to impress the management in the next few days to win a deal as coming to Scotland would be a new start. I haven't played a competitive match in Scotland before and facing new players and teams would be the fresh challenge that I need at this stage of my career. I am very much looking forward to training with Aberdeen and playing at some stage in the game over in Holland." Aberdeen boss Jimmy Calderwood said: "I only heard on Thursday that Noel was available and immediately we were interested because he is a quality player. There are a number of clubs in England who are also tracking him so I knew we had to act quickly."
July 31: New keeper Neil Sullivan wasn't remotely interested in the sort of money he could have pulled in as the fourth-choice stopper at Chelsea - and all he wants to do is play the game he loves. Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell said: "Neil never discussed money at all, he just accepted what we offered him. All he wants to do is get playing football again, that's the most important thing for him. We may not be in the Premiership this season, but he couldn't be getting the opportunity for first-team football with a much bigger club than Leeds United."
July 31: Kevin Blackwell put out a fairly strong side against Hibs today, and also managed to give most of the fit players a run out in the process. This was slightly more than a normal friendly - the club sponsors having put up a "Whyte and Mackay Cup" for the winners - and it was a fairly tough test for both sides. Hibs went a goal up just before half-time, but Leeds stormed back in the second half - particularly after Frazer Richardson came on and took control of the game. Michael Ricketts got Leeds back on level terms just past the hour, and Richardson claimed another to put Leeds in front four minutes later. Ricketts made it 1-3 with 15 minutes to go to seal the win. Kevin Blackwell said: "I thought Hibs looked well organised, they had a physical edge to them, they moved the ball about well. Neil Sullivan might not have had loads of saves to make but Hibs stretched us at times and, as the manager of the opposition, that's the sort of test you're looking for." One slightly sour note came when Brian Deane left a Hibs player on the deck following a tough challenge, and although Deane was subbed straight away neither manager had any complaints. Hibs boss Tony Mowbray said: "It was a physical game and we've got a few knocks and bruises but hopefully they'll sort themselves out during the week... I know Brian Deane, I played against him many times and I'm sure there was no intention from him. He's a good honest pro and he's been around a long time."
July 31: It seems that players don't lose their Leeds jinx just because they've moved away from Elland Road. Harry Kewell has reportedly been hampered by an ongoing ankle injury that is threatening to keep him out of the first few games of the season, Robbie Keane was carried off the pitch in a friendly earlier in the week and looks to be out of action for at least a month, and now Jon Woodgate is also struggling to be fit for the start of the season - missing the latest batch of pre-season games and unlikely to be ready in time to face Boro on the opening day.
July 30: Brian Deane will be number 30 in this season's squad list - leaving the number 9 slot free for another signing maybe? Deane previously held the number 9 shirt for three seasons before relinquishing it to Ian Rush and taking on the number 10 shirt. Previous occupants of the number 30 shirt are backup keeper Paul Pettinger, loan man Mark Hateley and Dutch centreback Robert Molenaar. Still no takers for 1, 3, 8 and 9....
July 30: David Batty is continuing some sort of connection with the game, despite his retirement this summer. He's joined Harrogate Town as vice-president, but there's not hint of a return as a footballer. Club secretary Nigel Pleasants - another ex-Leeds man - said: "We had a few chats with David and his agent in the close season. But he was having a difficult time at Leeds then and he was not sure whether to carry on playing at that time. But he is a Yorkshire lad who has never left the area and with him coming to the games with his boys in the past, we are now glad he's involved with us."
July 30: Steve Guppy and Craig Hignett both appear in the team photo, according to reports today - so they should be able to uncross their fingers and have reasonable expectations of a contract. Having said that, this year's calendar hasn't done anyone any favours with just about everyone who appears as the month-by-month star having left the club. Guppy said: "I'm not used to being on trial but I'd love to stay at Leeds. Given where I've been over the last few years I think I have a lot to offer. It's just a case of persuading the manager." Mark Kinsella, and Joey Gudjonnson have already found new clubs after being cut by Leeds, and Polish triallist Tomasz Rsaza indicated that he had been keen to join as well but financial pressures hammered that option.
July 30: Chelsea back-up backup keeper Neil Sullivan has signed for Leeds and is hoping to appear in tomorrow's friendly against Hibs. He's joining on a free on a two-year deal and the hope is that he will push Scott Carson and give him some much-needed experience.
July 29: Leeds have closed their 20-year season ticket scheme after selling just 181 of the 20-years-for-the-price-of-10 deals. New COO Shaun Harvey talked it up as a success, saying that the money they had received from this limited sale had enabled them to meet the initial payments on the Petchey loan and so avoid some financially ruinous penalties - but this is just the beginning. Harvey said: "I'm delighted that we met the first loan payment date, so that we are moving someway towards repaying the loan and would like to thank those supporters who subscribed. There was some scepticism about the scheme and the club is no longer seeking to advance future seasons' ticket income, as a result the 'United for 20 Year' tickets are no longer available for sale." So it's a great success but they've realised that they've hit the limit of credibility with the fans at less than 10% of their stated target level. Hmmmm... now what might have happened if we'd all put our hands in our pockets and forked out for these tickets? Where would the consortium be now, and just how much of that money would have been made available to improve the team's chances of promotion - and how much would have effectively been used to provide a cheap loan, borrowed on future income, to the directors to finance their purchase of the club?
July 29: Polish defender Tomas Rsaza has been cut from the squad - somewhat surprisingly given the quality of his goal and all-round performances so far. Depending on who you talk to, either both or just one of the French triallists is left at the club: some reports say Mama Traori has left the club already, while some say that both he and Dominic Gourville are still there. Still no confirmed signings ahead of Kev's Friday target - Neil Sullivan remains a possibility as the new keeper, but Blackwell has denied that West Brom's Sean Gregan is at the top of his priority list, despite what earlier reports had indicated.
July 29: The treatment room trio are back in training, raising Kevin Blackwell's hopes that he will have a full-strength squad to choose from on the opening day. Jermaine Wright, Michael Ricketts and Danny Cadamarteri all returned to full training ahead of schedule and could even join the squad for the Hibs game at the weekend. Kevin Blackwell said: "I want to have things as close as I can on Saturday, but if there are any doubts about anyone then I won't be taking any risks. The Hibs game is an important part of our build-up - it's the last time we will play a competitive game before we start properly - but I'm not going to risk someone just for the sake of it. If I do that and anything goes wrong then we have nowhere to go. I'll have a look at the lads and see how they go over the next couple of days. If they come through without any problems it will be good news." Blackwell knows, though, that he can't afford to hammer the first choice XI in every game with such a thinly-spread set of resources. Blackwell said: "I've still got to be very careful though. I've got a strong 16, but I'm mindful of the Derby game because it is important everyone is fit. We'll have a few 11 v 11 games in training next week, so the lads will all get some more match practice before the season starts. We want to start the season well and get some momentum going." Hear hear! The game at Derby is a huge one for the club and will go a long way to deciding just what sort of a season we're going to have.
July 28: Top marks for young Aussie Jamie McMaster last night as he got two of Leeds' goals in the 4-2 win over Darlington - but it wasn't as easy as it sounded. Darlo took the lead early on with a free header from a decent cross giving Adam Federici no chance. The Quakers were nearly two goals to the good before Andy Keogh pounced on a poor clearance to square the game. Polish triallist Tomasz Rsaza slammed in a 30-yard screamer and Jamie McMaster's header beat the keeper to make it 3-1. Darlo got back into the game as Federici was left with little chance to stop a goal from a free kick, but Jamie McMaster popped up again to seal the win. Chris Bart-Williams played a sizeable part of the game and looked okay despite a lack of match fitness, and the two French triallists looked solid enough in their positions - but Steve Guppy didn't do much to impress the fans (and indeed the manager).
July 28: Kevin Blackwell is hoping to add two more players to his squad before the weekend - with a keeper and a midfielder understood to be top of his target list. He said: "I put two bids in today and I'm waiting for the clubs to agree it all. I hope to have one player or maybe two by Friday. I'm hoping that within the next two days I will have a definite answer. I was keen to get the players in, work with them and have a couple of games before we start, but that won't happen now." There's only the Hibs game next weekend before the season kicks off against Derby, although it's possible the club could organise a behind-closed-doors friendly if necessary. But Blackwell insists that he's not making any panic signings. He said: "I don't want players who could be stuck in the reserves for two years. I need players who will make the difference. It is frustrating because I want to get the shape of the team and I've had to wait, but hopefully it will pay dividends."
July 27: Yet more bodies piling in to Thorp Arch to see if they can hitch themselves to the Great Kev Bandwagon. Latest additions are Chelsea's fourth/fifth choice keeper Neil Sullivan - probably available on a free after the arrival of Petr Cech (but at what sort of pay?), and former Villa player Joey Gudjonnson - scored a cracker against us at the back end of the 2002-03 season as I recall. On top of that there are a couple of French midfielders, plus yet another keeper by the name of Federici (there was an Adam of that name, an Aussie who was with Wolves but switched to an Italian lower division side - think it might be him). And then there's Tomasz Rzasa and Chris Bart-Williams as well of course, but not Mark Kinsella and Dutch player Brian Tevreden who have been released. It seems that we'll have plenty to choose from when it comes to keepers, with Rami Shabaan hopeful of securing a place at Elland Road and even the Ian Bennett move not totally dead and buried. Blackwell was hopeful of using several of them in tonight's game at Darlo. He said: "We've still not got the squad quite as we want it and I'm going to try and bring players in on this basis and see if they fit the bill. A lot of the Bosmans have now gone, but we might just unearth something and if that works out, and saves us some money that can be spent elsewhere, then that's the way to go."
July 27: Leeds chairman Gerald Krasner says he can't wait for the season to finally get underway, and pointed to the decent crowd for the weekend's friendly against Valencia as evidence that the fans had not deserted the club (but they might be forced to unless the season tickets arrive soon, hint hint). Krasner said: "It was a new team and a new start. It was a great match and it was great to see plenty of people there as they may have been put off by other events in the area. And they got their value for money. I've been here four months to the week and what hasn't surprised me is the support of the fans." He went on: "If we play like that against Derby then we'll have no problems and if we get off to a good start then all things are possible." Yep - even staying in business until Christmas might be a possibility if we make a good start and pull in some more TV money...
July 27: New club captain Paul Butler says that the team have bonded well and have high spirits with the start of the season barely a week away. He said: "That has been the case since day one of our build-up to the new season but results like the one against Valencia give you an extra boost... With so many players coming in since last season, it has been important to gel as quickly as possible." And he added the obligatory pat on the back to the poor fools who keep on parting with their money to support the club. He said: "We know the fans will get behind us. When I came to Leeds with Wolves towards the end of last season and saw the backing Leeds got, I couldn't believe they were so low in the table."
July 27: Gary Speed said that he knew it was time to move on when Newcastle told him they were prepared to offer him to Leeds as part of the deal to capture James Milner. Newcastle's finances remain a little stretched, and they were looking for ways to avoid shelling out too much cash up front on the youngster, and losing an experienced - well-paid - player like Speed would have double benefits, but Speed wasn't quite ready to quit the Premiership, where he still holds the appearance record. He said: "When a club accepts an offer for you, the writing is on the wall. When Newcastle went to sign James Milner from Leeds, they offered me as part of the deal. Once that happened, I felt I had to go. It was still a big decision and I could have stayed for my final year but my time was up. I have no complaints about my treatment by Newcastle. They were up front and told me I was not going to get another contract. That is business I suppose - at least I knew where I stood."
July 27: A very experimental side ran out 2-4 winners at Darlo in tonight's friendly. More news on that later...
July 26: While the more sober and sensible among us will be down at the Great British Beer Festival next week, Leeds chairman Gerald Krasner will be holding the latest Fans Forum. The event takes place at Elland Road on Thursday 5 August, starting at 1900, and in the company of Kevin Blackwell and COO Shaun Harvey - the poor sod who was lumbered with representing the board at the LUSC AGM less than a week after taking over. Krasner isn't expecting an easy ride - he said: "I expect to be severely criticised over James Milner and one or two other matters but I hope the fans will remember what I said at the last Forum - that there was pain to come." Wonder what he'll have to say this time?
July 26: Leeds Ladies got their pre-season campaign off to a winning start with a 3-5 victory at Sunderland yesterday. Leeds were 2-0 and 3-1 down, but - just as in the men's game against Valencia - a few half-time changes worked wonders as Stacy Daniel, Karen Walker - twice - and an own goal added to Tania Panesar's first half goal to give Leeds a relatively easy win. There are two friendlies coming up at home next week: Thursday night against Blackburn and Hibs on the Sunday afternoon.
July 26: Young Simon Walton was being praised for his performance on the field rather than hammered for his late dismissal by boss Kevin Blackwell today. He said: "I think we have a precocious talent, and what we've got to do is not burn it out in any way, shape or form. I've put him in a position he's not played in before, but he looked more than accomplished there. I was aware that the lad was a very good athlete, and that he could play on the ball. He might only be 16 but he's shown a great willingness to learn." Sounds a bit like another Alan Smith - let's hope he doesn't spoil it all by leaving suddenly! Blackwell also indicated that he was hoping for another 2-3 "major" signings before the season starts, and hopefully before we run out of pre-season friendlies as he tries to hammer his starting line-up into shape for the Derby game on Saturday week.
July 25: Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell has revealed just how close to the edge the club was last season, and said that he had half-expected to find the gates of the ground padlocked shut on several occasions. He said: "Whenever you looked at this club, either on television or in the newspapers, it was always 'crisis at Elland Road', but that's the way it was... To be fair to the board they inherited a situation that was horrendous. Medicine has had to be taken, and I don't know anybody who enjoys taking it, but we've had to do so." He's doing his bit to defend his employers at a time when everyone seems prepared to take potshots at the board over their apparent lack of direction (or indeed cash to support their initial small investment). Blackwell said: "The people who own this club now have had to pick up the pieces and black holes have appeared all over the place which has stunted our ambitions a little because there might be a £10million bill coming from somewhere that wasn't envisaged. These people have had to deal with it and maybe taken flak because fans feel they should be spending money left, right and centre." Which is probably a bit unfair: I don't know any fan who was expecting a return to the profligate days of the past - but neither were we expecting to see James Milner sold and STILL be told that further asset sales were necessary to keep the club afloat. He says that Leeds have learnt from Peter Ridsdale's mistakes: "But you do learn from such lessons and Leeds will definitely not go down the frivolous route they went down before because although they were living the dream, the nightmare has lasted a lot longer."
July 25: Now that James Milner no longer has the unbearable (for the London football writers) stigma of being a Leeds player, it seems he's now a candidate to solve England's left-side conundrum. Playing for a poorly-performing team is not normally a barrier to England selection - ask David James - but a string of gutsy performances throughout last season failed to raise the slightest suggestion that he might be in a good position to step up from the U-21 squad. But now that he plays for Uncle Bobby's Dream Team, the sky is the limit and after making his Magpies debut on the left side of midfield, that 45 minutes in a friendly is enough to get him talked about as just the sort of selection that would get the press talking to Sven about football rather than night-time shenanigans. In today's Independent, the questions are steered towards that suggestion, and Milner says: "I think being able to play in a variety of positions is a help rather than a hindrance. Some people think you're better to have a specialist position, but I think being versatile will help me get more first-team experience... But, yes, I'm fine playing on the left, and if that's where the manager wants me to play then I will do so happily," - whichever manager that might be.
July 25: After exhausting the seam of English second-division free agents and free transfers, it seems that Kevin Blackwell's attention is turning to foreigners. Rami Shabaan had an impressive performance in goal at Oldham on Friday night, and now Polish international defender Tomasz Rzasa has been added to the squad for the Valencia game today. The 31-year-old Rzasa is out of contract after a spell with our former UEFA Cup opponents Partizan Belgrade, but is well-travelled and has also played for Grasshoppers and Young Boys in Switzerland, and De Graafschap from the Dutch top flight.
July 25: Jermaine Wright has added to Kevin Blackwell's worries by tweaking a hamstring in the Mansfield game in midweek. With less than a fortnight to go to the start of the season, Blackwell now faces the prospect of being without one of his key players just as the team try to get off to a flying start after the disappointment of relegation. Blackwell said: "Jermaine felt his hamstring in the warm-up on Wednesday and I didn't think he was anywhere as near as mobile as he can be." He went on: "He could be out for a couple of weeks but we hope he makes it for the first game. Maybe he shouldn't have played but such is the keenness among players they don't want to risk missing out."
July 25: Leeds came back from 0-2 down to earn a 2-2 draw with Valencia at Elland Road this afternoon. Valencia went a goal up in the first half through Mohammed Sissoko, and doubled the advantage inside a minute after Rafete siezed a poor backpass by Matthew Kilgallon. A raft of changes at half-time saw Leeds start to gain more possesion and create a few chances, and when Julian Joachim charged into the box to follow up his own shot, he was brought down. With several much more experienced players in the line-up, 16-year-old Simon Walton grabbed the ball and slammed the spot-kick home - but he was later to blot his copybook when he picked up two yellow cards for a couple of over-enthusiastic tackles. Polish triallist Tomasz Rzasa was also given a yellow for a challenge that would probably have seen him taking an early bath in a real competitive match. But the game finished positively for Leeds with Matthew Spring slamming home a free kick from 30 yards with 20 minutes to go. Finally, and most importantly, it seems that the inflatable Spider-man is back on the Kop. Back to the future...
July 24: In a vain attempt to sell more letters on the backs of the replica shirts, today's Sun reports that Kevin Blackwell is set to give Chris Bart-Williams a run-out against Valencia. Bart-Williams will be the latest triallist given a chance to prove himself, in a game which many Leeds fans are ignoring, not wanting to be reminded of just how much things have changed in the three or so years since Valencia last came to Elland Road.
July 23: An even-younger-than-normal reserves line-up was on show for last night's game against Frickley, with Jamie McMaster switched to the senior squad for tonight's trip to Oldham. Andy Keogh, Harpal Singh and an own-goal were responsible for Leeds' three strikes in what was a good test for the youngsters.
July 23: Triallist Craig Hignett today said he was pretty hopeful that he had done enough to impress manager Kevin Blackwell into offering him a contract. Speaking on the official website, Hignett said: "Managers make decisions about you in games, so the more minutes you get on the pitch the more chance you have of impressing and you have to make sure you give everything." He added: "Kevin Blackwell is in a difficult position, there's not a lot of money, but the quality here is more than enough to be a force in the first division and I am sure when the season is underway they will be flying. It would nice to have a year here where things go brilliantly and we get the club back into the Premiership."
July 23: Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell says that he's already having to play around with the line-ups in the pre-season friendlies in order to avoid losing yet more players to injuries. He said: "I have to be careful because I cannot afford injuries, we have Oldham tonight and I will have to experiment there and I will have to experiment against Valencia on Sunday... You can throw everyone in the pot and hope it comes up trumps with a cake, but it just takes a bit more mixing and we have to mix it a bit more." Mark Kinsella is well short of match fitness, and with Eirik Bakke and Seth Johnson already out for a long spell, and Aaron Lennon awaiting the results of a scan on his Achilles, the additional knocks that Jermaine Wright and Matthew Spring picked up on Wednesday night will be less than welcome as he tries to find a settled line-up from a squad that barely knew each other three weeks ago. Blackwell pointed to unfamiliarity as one of the reasons for the defeat at Field Mill: "Mansfield have been together for a while now and you could see the understanding there, that's what I'm saying, it's about trying to find the understanding but We have to do trial and error until we find out what's right."
July 23: Tonight's game at Boundary Park will see the first appearance of Lucas Radebe in the pre-season games, as the Chief tries to show that he is close to full match fitness and capable of lasting 90 minutes on those infamously dodgy knees. But the surprise inclusion in the squad is Arsenal's third-choice keeper Rami Shabaan who is on trial at Elland Road. Shabaan has played just three times in two years for Arsenal, but could be seen as some real competition for Scott Carson. Radebe said: "I feel good enough at the moment, it's just that I know the rest of the boys have been working very hard and I missed a couple of weeks of that. But I am not really that worried because I know I will be alright for the start of the season." He said he hoped to be in the squad frequently this season despite his injuries: "It's not that I am going to play in each and every game, I know there's a lot of games in this league and it's very tough and physical In some games I will have to step back a bit and look after myself, but to be honest I want to help any wai I can and if selected I will do the very best I can."
July 23: The friendly against Oldham tonight finished as a 0-0 draw. More later.
July 22: Brian Deane says it's great to be back at Elland Road after inking his one-year deal at the club. Deane said: "It's a good move and it's also a big challenge. I can't think of a better place for me this season. I know a lot has happened at Leeds, but it's a challenge we can enjoy and we can take a lot out of it." He went on: "None of us are under any illusions that it will be easy. It's an open book as to who will go up. We are a new side who are learning but we are working hard and by the time the season starts we will know where we are going."
July 22: Mark Viduka scored his first goal for Boro last night, striking from the spot in a 2-2 draw with Rotherham. Playing alongside Viduka was another Leeds old boy - JFH - and it will be interesting to see which of the two strikers wins the goal race at the Riverside this season.
July 22: Leeds Ladies will take on Scottish champions Hibs in a friendly on Sunday 8 August, the day after the men's team kicks off the new season. The game will be player at the Ladies' normal home ground - Wheatley Park in Garforth - with free admission and a start time of 2:00pm.
July 22: Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell delivered a sharp reminder to several of the squad that he wasn't prepared to tolerate substandard play, with a particular dig aimed at the triallists who are hoping for a contract at Elland Road. Speaking after the defeat by Mansfield, he said: "We know now that a couple more players are not going to be good enough for Leeds United Football Club. I have just got to sift through all the triallists and see if somebody can be good enough, but at the moment they are not and we will not be seeing a few of those." By all accounts the Dutch lad wasn't much cop last night but it will also be a sharp reminder to the likes of Guppy and Hignett whose performances to date have obviously not been quite so stellar as Brian Deane's. And no, I never expected to use that phrase either...
July 22: The reserves beat Frickley 2-3 in tonight's friendly. More info later...
July 21: New boy Clarke Carlisle revealed that his family had played a big part in his decision to come to Leeds. Speaking to the official website, he said that he had been a little disappointed with the reaction of some QPR fans when he left after the club had stuck by him through a serious injury and his well-documented alcohol problem, but he's clear where his priorities and loyalties lie. He said: "It is disappointing to leave a club like that, the fans were fantastic to me and I will always appreciate what they did for me. I thanked them on numerous occassions and I will thank them again, but for me personally I wanted and needed to be back up north with my family... I am disappointed there has been a sour tint on me leaving, but this is the way football is, players move on for their families and hopefully their careers and I feel this is right for me." He also revealed that Leeds hadn't been the highest bidders (a welcome departure from past practise!): "Financially it wasn't the best offer I had received but it fulfilled all the other criteria, it meant I could be close to my daughter again and also the status of the club is just unbelievable. The facilities are first class and there's a very good bunch of players here... I just can't wait to impose myself on this situation."
July 21: After Leeds have apparently failed to do a deal with Fulham to snatch Mark Crossley as competition for Scott Carson, attention has turned to Forest's Welsh stopper Darren Ward. However, if Forest want some money for the player then that could be a problem, as reports today indicate that there is absolutely no money in the transfer kitty for Kevin Blackwell to spend on new players - although he may be given a little more leeway to allow him to pick up another freebie or two in order to strengthen the squad. At the time of James Milner's sale, the board let it be known that - although they wanted to hang on to the player - the price was a good one and gave clear indications that the funds from the sale would be made available to the manager to acquire new players. But now it seems that this promise was never formally ratified by the board, and when it came down to trying to get some agreement on money to improve the playing staff at a recent meeting, the majority came down against releasing any more cash. Yet more evidence of the dire financial situation the club continues to struggle against: how much more will it take to push the current owners into the arms of a white knight?
July 21: Former Charlton and Villa midfielder Mark Kinsella has joined Kevin Blackwell's squad for a trial ahead of tonight's game at Mansfield. Kinsella was present for a trainignsession this morning and could also be used in this weekend's friendlies against Oldham and Valencia. Speaking of which, tickets for Oldham will be on sale to Leeds fans on the gate, and after an underwhelming response from the public, the East Stand will be closed for the Valencia game on Sunday afternoon.
July 21: Eirik Bakke will be out for the entire season after his scan revealed that he had snapped his cruciate ligament and also sustained cartilage damage in a freak injury out on the pre-season tour of Sweden. Bakke had an injury-wracked time last season, and this does nothing whatsoever to help Kevin Blackwell's already stretched squad in the battle for promotion. Blackwell said: "It's a massive blow for Leeds United Football Club but it's also a massive blow for Eirik Bakke. He had bad luck with injuries last season and he was hoping to have a major influence this time around but it's not to be. We all wish him a quick recovery."
July 21: Brian Deane today agreed terms to return for a second spell at Elland Road after impressing Kevin Blackwell during the pre-season tour of Sweden. Deane scored 38 times in 168 appearances last time round, and managed 7 goals with West Ham last season, despite making the majority of his 32 appearances as a sub.
July 21: Leeds' unbeaten pre-season record was shattered tonight as the club went down 2-0 at Field Mill. Dutch triallist Brian Tevreden played for half an hour as did Mark Kinsella, with both Mansfield goals coming in the last 20 minutes.
July 20: Didier Domi has permanently left PSG now - he's signed a two-year deal with Espanyol in the Primera Liga. Meanwhile another ex-Leeds player is now also an ex-Newcastle player: Gary Speed has signed a two-year deal with Sam Allardyce's Bolton after it became clear his Newcastle career held little or no prospect of regular first-team football anymore.
July 20: Leeds are set to discuss terms with the three triallists - Craig Hignett, Brian Deane and Steve Guppy - who went out on the Sweden tour after the board agreed to release some funds with injuries already looming over a small squad. Seth Johnson remains a long-term absentee, Eirik Bakke's scan results will reveal whether or not he will join Johnson on the sidelines, and both Aaron Lennon and Clarke Carlisle are carrying injuries. It was also reported today that Irish international Mark Kinsella will also be working with the club and could take part in tomorrow's friendly at Mansfield. Still no new keeper though.
July 20: Alan Smith today gave his side of the story of his departure - saying that he was effectively forced out of Leeds despite the way he seemed to agitate for a move. He said: "When I was growing up, I never thought Leeds would be out of the top division. With the financial situation at Leeds, I've seen a different side of football. Whereas before I'd just enjoyed playing for a team I cared about, it's hard to think the same way when money comes into it. I decided I had to leave and this was the only place I wanted to come." Fergie backed his new player, saying: "The only problem I ever had with Alan Smith was over whether he would want to come here. He has mentioned the point himself, about him being a Leeds boy, and I always found that a difficult one. When I learnt that he wanted to come to us and that he wasn't interested in his past, I said that will do with me because that is courage. That is a brave decision." Can't see that mending any bridges then....
July 19: Derek Lilley has made a surprise return to Livingston - barely two months after signing for Boston United. Lilley's wife decided that she could not settle in Lincolnshire (dunno why - I love it!) and so despite an offer from Boston that would have allowed him to train in Scotland and only fly down to England for the games, Lilley has re-signed for the clib for whom he scored 18 times last season. His agent said: "It left Derek with a dilemma of work commitment against family commitment - and, of course, there was only ever going to be one winner... Boston are understandably in a state of shock, but we must give them enormous credit for the way they have responded to Derek's situation."
July 19: Eirik Bakke will have a scan tomorrow with Kevin Blackwell hoping that the player's knee damage is not a serious ligament injury. He went down without a challenge in the game against Pitea, with Kevin Blackwell pointing the finger at the heavy pitches in Sweden. Blackwell said: "It was one of those where no-one was near him and he just went down clutching his knee. He'll have a scan when we get back to Leeds and we're keeping our fingers crossed that it is not as serious as we all fear."
July 19: Neil Thompson was today announced as the new Academy manager. Thompson has previously been in charge at York and Boston, where he was thrown out when a new board moved in earlier this year. Thompson said: "It's a big responsibility for me, I am just finding my feet here at the moment and fact finding about the players and the club. To be able to work at these great facilities was a huge attraction for me." He's hoping to repeat a few past successes to help the club move forward. He said: "This club has produced some great youngsters, Alan Smith and James Milner are just two of those, and we need to try and produce more of those. Our position is the same as most clubs are having to take right now. Leeds been through a lot of turmoil, but we are still here and we're alive and kicking."
July 19: James Milner opened his account for new club Newcastle at the weekend, scoring an equaliser against Thai side Kitchee as the Magpies cross the Far East on a pre-season tour.
July 18: Kevin Blackwell has been told that he can spend some of the cash that came in for James Milner - but quite how much is another matter entirely. Still looking for another four players - with keeper Mark Crossley topping the list - it's hard to see how the limited amount of up-front cash the club received would stretch that far, and the wage bill is still at the limit set by chairman Gerald Krasner - so someone else would certainly have to move on before any more contracts can be offered. Blackwell said: "I've expressed interest in certain players and it's an ongoing process. When I looked at what I had on show in our first game on Wednesday, they have to be decent players. It's no good me bringing players in for the sake of it because that won't add to this team. He added: "I'm more than happy with the players we've brought in. But I still believe we need to bring in another three or four players who can give the squad some strength in depth. At the moment we have the nucleus of a good team, but a few injuries would leave a big hole." Brian Deane could be one of the players to arrive after impressing Blackwell in training and on the pitch, so a one-year deal could be put on the table to the big striker when the squad returns from Sweden.
July 18: Former Leeds chairman Trevor Birch has stepped down as chief exec of Everton less than two months after taking over. Maybe his skills might be put to good use back at Elland Road should a new bidder emerge to relieve the Krasner consortium of the onerous burden of running Leeds United.
July 18: Leeds just managed to stay on the winning way in the pre-season tour, scrambling a 0-1 win against Swedish side Pitea IF. Danny Cadamarteri struck with a first half header from Julian Joachim's cross, but the Swedish keeper played a blinder, continually frustrating Leeds. Eirik Bakke was carried off with a knee injury - so that will probably put the mockers on any attempt to sell him for the moment.
July 18: Striker Simon Johnson was on the scoresheet and in the notebook today as the reserves drew 1-1 at Scarborough. Leeds fell behind just after the break, but Johnson then hammered a long-range shot home 10 minutes later to square things up. Unfortunately, that wasn't the only squaring up he did, reacting furiously to a bad foul by Scarborough defender Steven Baker. Baker was dismissed for the foul and Johnson for his reaction - which means both players will now almost certainly be banned at the start of the new season (although that will probably impact Scarborough more than Leeds, since Johnson would not appear to be top of the tree in Kevin Blackwell's eyes).
July 17: No updates today - I'm off to shore up the Leeds Lards defence at Worldnet before propping up the bar of several hostelries from Headingley to the city centre after our games finish mid-afternoon. Back tomorrow!
July 16: New striker Michael Ricketts was pleased with his goal against Bodens in this week's pre-season friendly - doubly so because he scored it with his head. He said: "I don't get enough that way - and it was a great ball in by Dubes... We knew they would be a physical side and they didn't make things easy. They were a big team and they wanted to impress, but to get the win is good for us." He's also happy to be getting a chance of first team football again after a disastrous spell at Boro. He said: "This is a massive club that has had its problems, but I'd like to help them go some way towards recapturing former glories. Maybe I was a bit off the mark at Middlesbrough, but if I hadn't have been I probably wouldn't be here and have the chance. All I want to do is work hard and try and impress the manager." Kevin Blackwell tells him he's a 20-goals-per-season striker - let's hope he's right!
July 16: The game at Bramall Lane has been shifted yet again, this time on the advice of those lovely people from South Yorkshire Police. The game now kicks off at 12:30 on the Sunday rather than an even earlier 11:30 start on the Saturday - presumably the police don't want us crawling all over the town centre on the Saturday afternoon and scaring the shoppers.
July 16: Mark Crossley is being targetted as the new number 1 by Kevin Blackwell. With Scott Carson deemed too inexperienced to carry the burden of being Leeds' first choice keeper - despite the fact that he's an England U-21 international and performed brilliantly at Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge last season - Blackwell wants somebody with a few more years behind them to start between the sticks and provide Carson with a few tricks of the trade, while simultaneously taking him out of what could be a very hot firing line. Leeds are said to have bid £200,000 for the Fulham and Wales keeper - but will the prospect of a couple of seasons with a real chance of playing in front of some big crowds be enough to sway someone sitting pretty on Premiership money?
July 16: Eirik Bakke insisted that he had no intention of leaving Leeds, despite strong rumours hinting at interest from several Premier League clubs. West Brom and Palace clearly need to strengthen their squads after promotion - but both will struggle and can't be that attractive a proposition. Everton however must be in with a shout of making the player - or the board - think twice before ruling out any possibility of a switch. But Bakke said: "After being injured all last year I want to play a part again here. I enjoy myself at Leeds. Clubs wanted me to go to the Premiership, but I'm happy at Leeds and I want to help the club get back up. It's good that the manager has said he wants me in the team, particularly after the other players that have gone." Bakke knows it's going to be difficult after so many key players have left. He added: "It's been hard, especially now we have lost key players like Dominic Matteo. That was hard to take because there's been times over the past four years when he has been one of our best players. Not just on the pitch, but off it as well. He's been a good captain and him going was hard, but you just have to get on with it. Now it's a new team."
July 16: Matthew Kilgallon says that he's willing to play anywhere if it means a first-team spot. In today's YEP, he notes that quite a few central defenders are now at the club - but the left-back slot remains a problem, despite the arrival of Danny Pugh, and that's where Kilgallon played the other night. He said: "Left-back is a different position for me but as long as I'm playing it doesn't matter where it is really. I am a centre-half and like playing there, but if the gaffer wants me to do a job elsewhere then I'm happy to give it a go." He knows he will face a tough battle to win a regular place in the squad with club captain Paul Butler and Michael Duberry seemingly the first choice - and Clarke Carlisle and Lucas Radebe also with places to play for. He said: "This is a chance to stake my claim. I know if I play well it will be on the staff's minds that I did well in Sweden they will know that I can do it. I want to put a good performance in and show them I'm good enough to start each game."
July 15: Shaun Allaway is still looking for a club and a first-team chance after quitting Oldham after a couple of training sessions. Maybe Kevin Blackwell will give him a call before long - things are beginning to look a bit desperate!
July 15: Leeds' reserve side got off to a winning start at Farsley Celtic last night. Harpal Singh and young Irish star Barry Corr with a pair were on the scoresheet for Leeds as Steve Agnew's team ran out 1-3 winners. The team included a couple of slightly surprising omissions from the Sweden squad - Jamie McMaster and Simon Johnson - who might not necessarily have been able to cut it in the Premier League but who both looked like they might have something to contribute this season - but it looks like Kev has already made a call - for now anyway.
July 15: Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell was pleased with the team's efforts in the opening pre-season friendly against Bodens last night. He said: "We blooded nine new players and we showed we are shaping up quite well. It's been very wet here so by the end they were tired but it was a very good workout... It's been the wettest summer Sweden has known for years so the pitches are soft and a couple of the lads have picked up slight injuries in training but overall it is going very well." And he also revealed that there was a chance of more additions to the squad. He said: "I'm still hoping to bring in more new players before the season starts but there is nothing imminent." Hmmm....well looking at the squad numbers announced today, I think we can deduce that there's room for a new keeper with the number 1 jersey left unfilled, a left back (Danny Pugh wears 12 not 3) and a couple of attacking players - Deano for number 9 and Hignett for number 8 anybody? Meanwhile, Eirik Bakke could be the next player to leave if today's press rumours have any substance: Everton have been knocked back in their bid to sign Robbie Savage and are said to have turned their attention towards Leeds' Norwegian midfielder.
July 15: Former Leeds striker Tony Hackworth has signed a contract with Scarborough after being released by Notts County this summer. Hackworth spent some time on loan at the McCain Stadium last season and is hoping for a continuation of the good form he showed during his loan spell.
July 15: The ticket office today reported that season ticket sales were well ahead of expectations, after passing the 17,000 mark seen as a litmus test of the fans' continuing support by the board. And their 20-year scheme is still active, with the club reporting that one man today walked in with a cheque to buy a group of 10 tickets for himself and his friends - that's £37,500 for 200 years of footy, a bargain in any terms. Alternatively, it's one week of Seth Johnson's time - a bloody ridiculous deal no matter which way you look at it.
July 14: Leeds "director" Peter Lorimer was once again forced to trot out some trite rubbish about something that the board of Leeds United shouldn't be concerning themselves with given the seriousness of the club's situation. Yesterday, some wag put Elland Road up for sale on eBay - your typical spoof auction with a photo of the ground and a description which read "For sale - one used football stadium, reluctant sale to one careless owner. Must rent back to Leeds United but will consider a ground share with Bradford AFC." Not the funniest gag in the world admittedly, but not one to get hot under the collar about - unless you happen to be one of the humourless trio who pull Lorimer's strings. The former Leeds legend said: "A minority of our fans may think this is funny but I don't think it helps Leeds United in any way. It is a sad thing because things like this make us a laughing stock. It is out of order. Right now Leeds United do not need comedians." Get a sense of perspective mate - things like a joke eBay item do not make the club a laughing stock. Declaring that you're not going to sell a particular player and then biting the hand off the first vaguely acceptable bidder does. Saying that the finances will be okay provided certain conditions are met - and then saying that actually things are much worse the second those conditions occur does. Spending time responding to lighthearted internet jokes as if they were libellous and actionable comments printed in 64-point bold banner headlines in every national newspaper does. Things are looking bleak for Leeds this season - but if we can't raise a smile every now and then we might as well knock the ground down and build a supermarket: maybe then some of the board members will manage a sly grin at the situation.
July 14: Leeds full set of senior keepers (i.e. Scott Carson) are out in Sweden at the moment, so it's not surprising to see Leeds being linked with every other custodian who isn't first choice in a top flight club. Veteran Mark Crossley is the latest name in the frame, but he seems settled enough as second choice to van der Sar at Fulham. Steve Simonsen is definitely out of the picture and Ian Bennett also looks set to escape our grasp. Maybe David Harvey might want to return from his Scottish exile to help out - or will Kev end up using Lucas Radebe's rusty skills between the sticks as backup to Carson while blooding young William Coyles in the reserves?
July 14: Leeds may have been relegated from the Premier League, but the reserve team will still face top flight opposition next season. They start with a visit to Villa opening the campaign. The first home game of the season - at Belle Vue in Wakefield - continues the Midlands theme with the Baggies turning up on September 2. It will be very interesting to see who gets a game for the reserves this season: the squad is so thin that most of the contracted first team players will have to be wrapped in cotton wool to preserve their fitess for the league game as they struggle to escape the second division, so maybe now is the chance for the latest batch of youngsters to make a major breakthrough.
July 14: Leeds centrebacks Paul Butler and Michael Duberry are raring to go ahead of today's first pre-season friendly out in Sweden. Club captain Butler said: "I can't wait to get started playing games now. We've been doing more fitness work, but this is a great opportunity for the squad to get together and work on bonding." He went on: "All the lads are looking forward to the games. When you start playing, the gaffer can start sorting the team out. You get an idea of how we're looking to play and can start working on things in a game situation." And he's hopeful that the big changes at the club will be reflected in a new attitude on the park. He said: "There's been a good atmosphere that started the first day we came back in - there's been a buzz around the club." Meanwhile Michael Duberry says that he intends to thank Kevin Blackwell for keeping him at the club with some top-notch performances on the pitch. "At the end of the day, I know my strengths and weaknesses and with the way I play it shows that I want to win, that I have a desire to win. It's just a shame we never had the ability or enough desire within the team to get through the bad stages last year." I seem to remember Duberry's "desire" to win being reflected in the way he shared a laugh and a joke with Pompey players at Elland Road after his own abysmal defending had left Leeds a goal down: my sympathy for the player as a trier who had done his best evaporated at that point. He said: "As far as I am concerned, I have always been very confident in my ability and if I play to the best of my ability, I am going to hold down a centre-half spot and it's then up to everyone else around me."
July 14: Leeds won their opening pre-season game 0-2 tonight, with goals coming from new signing Michael Ricketts and veteran triallist Brian Deane. Aaron Lennon and Clarke Carlisle didn't get a look-in since they were carrying injuries, but otherwise the entire touring squad got a game.
July 13: It seems that our wonderful supporters have been at it again. Just when it seems we might be getting some sympathy from Grub Street, David Richmond's resignation yesterday appears to have been precipitated by finding his gates padlocked at the weekend and a large sign saying "Richmond get out of Leeds" outside his house. If this was aimed at his father, you could just about understand it. Certain other members of the consortium have been the driving force behind some of the recent unpopular announcements (if the usual leaks are to be believed) and of all of the current board, Richmond - a Leeds fan himself - is the least deserving of such abuse. But I'm sure the perpetrators are aware of all the facts, and have tapes of the board meetings in which Richmond Junior is heard cackling that he's over the moon that the club will be bust by November. I'm always proud to be a Leeds fan - but this is yet another occasion on which I wish I could be a bit more selective about the company I keep.
July 13: In line with official club policy of releasing bad news one scrap at a time, Gerald Krasner has admitted that Thorp Arch could be sold off. After he brought a leaseback deal on Elland Road back onto the agenda on Friday - citing previous statements which said it was always a possibility - dragging the Academy into the fire sale is a new thing altogether (though hardly surprising, as I suggested last week). Krasner said: "Everything is possible." Everything apart from an open dialogue with the fans and transparency in the operation of the club apparently. Today's papers suggest the club's outstanding debt is around £50 million - some £20 million more than had previously been implied at the time of the takeover - and remains far too high to be serviced by the turnover of a second division club. Maybe when the administrators come in we'll finally get a clear idea of just what has been going on over the last three years, but until then the cloak of mystery and secrecy remains.
July 13: Danny Mills is ****ing Gone, as we'll no doubt be singing next season. He completed his move to Manchester City today, with Leeds receiving no fee and continuing to pay a large chunk of his wages for the next three years or so - but saving even more cash on a week-by-week basis with the full burden of his huge pay packet off the club's back. Mills scored four times in 141 appearances for the club, with his last first-team game being against Villa back in May 2003.
July 13: Some photos from the pre-season training are online here - bonus points to the first person who can name all of the players in the pictures without having to browse the web/dig in a reference book.
July 13: New signing Matt Spring gave us an interesting insight into what goes on at one of the medical exams that are de rigeur before a club signs a player up. He said: "I just got a quick phone call the other week telling me I had to be up for a medical on the Tuesday, and it was the longest thing I have ever done. They touched every part of my body but at least I know now that I am fit. We finished everything off the next day." Ooo-er missus! He also told the official website that he had had no hesitation at joining Leeds - despite interest from other second division clubs. He said: "It was a bit of a shock to hear from Leeds at the time. I had a couple of other options but nothing as big as Leeds... The opportunity was there to play for a massive club and here I am."
July 12: Danny Mills is now expected to complete the formalities and become a Manchester City player tomorrow. Kevin Keegan was over the moon with his capture, and said Mills would not be the last signing for the Blues this summer. Speaking in The Sun, he said: "I'm delighted to get a player of Danny's experience but there are other areas of the team that still need strengthening. I'm looking to make one more signing before the start of the season." Mills is due to sign a three-year deal, with Leeds continuing to pay him something like eight grand a week in lieu of any lump sum compensation after allowing him to leave on a free.
July 12: Leeds went down with all guns blazing in the Masters tournament in Sheffield yesterday. After a disappointing pair of defeats against the Blades and the Owls, Leeds shared a 5-5 thriller with eventual winners Liverpool with a pair of goals for Carl Shutt and one each for Chris Kamara, Steve Hodge and Neil Aspin. Andy Williams bagged Leeds' other goal of the tournament in the 2-1 defeat by Sheffield United.
July 12: The trip to the Boleyn ground has been brought forward a day with Sky's customary consideration for the travelling support. That's right, we've now got a Friday night game in the capital, rather than a nice, normal Saturday afternoon game just so Rupe can fill his schedules. At least we've got some notice of this switch, unlike last season's sod-the-fans approach which saw games shifted at less than a month's notice.
July 12: So will Danny Mills be the last player leaving Elland Road this summer? Conflicting stories came out of the club today, with chairman Gerald Krasner giving a relatively large amount of information, saying: "We will have to trim the squad slightly more. That is largely because we are still having to subsidise the wages of some players we have got rid of. A player may have been on £40,000 a week here but may only receive £20,000 or £25,000 elsewhere, and we have to make up that shortfall on his contract. There were 18 players on more than £1m a year when we first arrived." Krasner pointed out that the overall wage bill for the club was now at the very top end of what was seen as manageable, but the club continued to back Kevin Blackwell's football judgement, hence the cancellation of the sale of Michael Duberry. However, speaking in today's YEP, Krasner said: Krasner said: "He will be the final major departure this summer. We're happy that we've got the wage bill down but it's still slightly higher than we would like. However, things have probably gone better than we had hoped for." So that's the last MAJOR name to go, which means Gary Kelly - since Eirik Bakke has yet to prove his fitness, Seth Johnson is still injured and Michael Duberry's sale was canned. Bad news maybe for Paul Keegan, Simon Johnson, Frazer Richardson, Matthew Kilgallon...
July 12: Chairman Gerald Krasner today denied there were any plans to turn Elland Road into a property developer's dreamland. He insisted that football would continue to be played at the ground, and Leeds would stay there - with a guaranteed buyback clause - if they sold the ground. He said: "If it came to that, it would be such a long lease that it would see us paying rent and not interest. There are no plans for anything other than football at Elland Road. There is no supermarket going up outside. There is no building other than a football club here."
July 12: With his backside barely touching the chair after returning from holiday, David Richmond today announced he would be stepping down as MD of Leeds United for "personal reasons". He said: "I told the board this morning that I was intending to resign, and they were surprised. I think they were also disappointed because they feel that I've done a good job in terribly difficult circumstances. This is not a decision which has been taken in the space of 24 hours, I've been considering my position for two or three weeks and it's time to get my life back. Since coming here I've been working 20 hours a day, seven days a week. It has consumed my life. If Leeds United require anything from me then I will always be available on the other end of the phone, but as of today my connections with United are officially at an end." Chairman Gerald Krasner said: "His decision has come as a surprise. He has done a wonderful job with the players and without him we would have had big, big problems... Hopefully David will be around to help us with the changeover. The board wish him well and we are very sorry to lose him." So that's his connections with the LUFC board gone - but doesn't clarify his position vis-a-vis Adulant Force - the takeover vehicle used by the Krasner consortium. Given that the club have appointed a new, high-profile COO in Shaun Harvey, it was always questionable just what the need was for a separate executive MD - particularly in such a small company where money was an issue, but it would seem there is more to his departure than the statements above. Expect the sieve-like Elland Road boardroom to be leaking at least three similar but distinctly different briefs detailing exactly what has happened and why by the end of the week.
July 11: Danny Mills is set to become Kevin Keegan's next signing sometime next week. He is not on the Sweden trip with the rest of the Leeds players and is expected to train with the City squad on Monday. Needless to say there will be no fee heading our way - the big question is whether or not we have to continue to pay anything towards his wages once we've got him out of the door.
July 10: So we've cleared a whole bunch of debt to the bondholders and REFF, sold Paul Robinson, Alan Smith, Mark Viduka and James Milner for real money AND got a whole bunch of other high-earners off the wage bill, while picking up some decent bargains on the free transfer market, all paid "sensible" - i.e. second division - money. Surely now the club must be on a firm financial footing with a manageable debt and ready to move forward - I mean, that's what the men who asked to be judged on their actions told us before they sent out the season ticket renewal forms, isn't it? Well it would seem that - like previous occupants of the Elland Road boardroom before them - they have been a little economical with the actualite. Chairman Gerald Krasner today said that the board were looking to sell Elland Road and become tenants - but he insists that they will demand a buy-back clause and a long-term lease, so that's okay then. It's widely recognised that the sale of the ground in the early 80s was one of the biggest mistakes the club made last time we went down, so it's hardly surprising that this lot don't seem to have learnt from that mistake. Krasner said: "In the talks we're having there is also a clause to buy back the ground. That's at any point during the lease, not necessarily at the end of it," implying that talks were already well underway and making the off-the-record briefing that leaked out from Elland Road on the overall state of play at the club look even more like a cynical attempt to massage opinion ahead of this latest bombshell. Krasner tried to wiggle out of the shock value of the statement, saying that this was consistent with what was said at the time of the takeover - although my memory of their words was that this was to be a last desperate resort if they failed to reduce the wage bill and find buyers for the big earners. Maybe I'm being a bit harsh on them here - maybe it's just that they are as incompetent at reading a balance sheet and cashflow projections as Peter Ridsdale and Allan Leighton were, and for all their grand talk of having saved the club back in February, all they have done is postpone the inevitable. Don't be too surprised to see Thorp Arch go for executive housing, with the council railroaded into accepting that or facing a revolt from voters if the alternative is administration, a points deduction and inevitably relegation.
July 10: Former Leicester midfielder Steve Guppy was announced as a third triallist to join Brian Deane and Craig Hignett with the rest of the first team squad out in Sweden for next week's pre-season friendlies. Guppy is available on a Bosman from Celtic and could fill in on the left side of midfield - something that has been taxing Kevin Blackwell since well before it became clear that Danny Pugh would be playing at left back after Ian Harte's departure. The full squad is: Scott Carson, Gary Kelly, Frazer Richardson, Danny Pugh, Paul Butler, Michael Duberry, Clarke Carlisle, Matthew Kilgallon, Eirik Bakke, Matthew Spring, Steve Guppy, Craig Hignett, Jermaine Wright, Aaron Lennon, Julian Joachim, Michael Ricketts, Danny Cadamarteri, Brian Deane. There's no Lucas Radebe in the squad because he is back home in South Africa picking up yet another honour. He was named Footballer of the Decade at a dinner to celebrate 10 years of democratic change, and was also invited by Luis Figo to play alongside Zidane, Ronaldo and other big names in a fundraising match. Kevin Blackwell said: "To be fair he has probably got the best excuse for missing training that I've ever heard. It is not everyday you are honoured by your country or get to line up with Ronaldo and Zidane, so yes, he has my permission to be over there."
July 09: Terry Venables is about to shock the football world again with a return to club coaching. But after his disastrous spells at Leeds and Pompey, there's no way anybody in their right minds in Europe would offer him a job - although it seems that Down Under his stock isn't quite so lowly-rated. Venables has signed a one-year deal to manage Newcastle's technical efforts and their player recruitment. The Newcastle owner said: "We've seen what Greece did with a German coach - now you'll see what we can achieve with Venables. He's a class act." No doubt Paul Okon and Nick Barmby's agents will be beating a path to Venables' door even as we speak...
July 09: Figures from the Football League show that our old chum Peter Ridsdale hasn't let past problems affect his current behaviour. Since he took over at Barnsley, they have shelled out 50% more than the next-ranked club in Division 3 (Coca-Cola League One that is) on....payments to agents. After all the furore over Rio's agents getting money for old rope - and the subsequent problems with the sale of Harry Kewell, caused in no small part by the contracts negotiated in Ridsdale's era. But he's got a new toy to play with now and he's wasting somebody else's money so I guess we should just sit back and wait for the train wreck that will inevitably follow.
July 09: Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell was the main man who stopped Michael Duberry's sale to Wolves going through, it was revealed today. Because the club had been unable to reach a final settlement with Duberry, the ongoing cost of making up his wages above and beyond what Wolves were prepared to pay him meant that Leeds would almost certainly be spending more money still if they let the transaction proceed and tried to find another centreback as addition cover, after Dominic Matteo's departure left Leeds with just Butler, Kilgallon, Carlisle and Radebe with experience in that position. Blackwell said: "It neither made footballing or economical sense to let Michael go to Wolves under the terms being discussed. What we would have been saving on wages was negligible - and it would have cost us just as much to replace him. Michael expressed a desire to stay at Leeds and I know he can do a very good job for us in the First Division. I would have hated to see him playing for one of our rivals next season while we were still paying the majority of his wages."
July 09: Given the number of departures we've seen of late, it's hardly surprising that Kevin Blackwell today chose Paul Butler as club captain for the new season. Lucas Radebe may have filled the role well before, but realistically his knees won't stand up to a full season of tough games, and the only other obvious candidate was the experienced Gary Kelly: wonder what that says about the possibility of him continuing to stay at the club or getting a regular game? Anyhoo, Butler - as an experienced centreback - seems to be an obvious and sensible choice: if he gives half as good service as the previous holder of the office, we'll have no complaints.
July 09: After nearly 300 appearances for Leeds, and with 39 goals to his name, Ian Harte today left the club to try to resurrect his career in Spain. He's signed a four-year deal with newly-promoted Levante - Valencia's smaller club - joining Celtic's Johan Mjallby as they try to buck the trend and avoid an immediate drop from the Primera Liga. Over the last couple of years his form has frankly been disappointing, both as a defender and a striker of the dead ball, but maybe with a change of scenery and a chance at a new start he can resurrect the sort of form that got him some spectacular goals from open play as well as those fizzing free kicks, which now tend to have the crowd ducking for cover. We wish him all the best for the future. Harte said: "I'm sad to be leaving Leeds as they are the only club I have ever played for but I see this as a fantastic opportunity to further my career. It's exciting times for Levante as they have just been promoted and I'm really looking forward to it."
July 09: Danny Mills' long-discussed departure from the club could finally be on as Leeds agreed terms with Manchester City and gave the player to discuss a deal with the other Kev's mob. Mills spent the last season on loan at Boro, and although he originally looked set to make that move permanent, various issues cropped up that derailed the transfer and Leeds have been desperately trying to shift him to pretty much any club that would take his wages off the books at Elland Road. Newcastle and Brum were the other front-runners, but it looks as though a short trip over the Pennines is now his best hope of Premier League football next season.
July 09: Brian Deane is training with Leeds at the moment - like Craig Hignett, trying to convince the boss that he could be the missing piece in the Leeds jigsaw puzzle for next season while the manager waits for funds to be freed up. Ian Bennett is back to the fore in the keeper chase - although he's likely to want a guarantee of first-team football despite being number three in the pecking order at Brum now. Blackwell stressed that the first-choice keeper position was not going to be a cut-and-dried decision: "We're looking for someone with proven Premiership or First Division experience. But we're also looking at the situation with a view to developing Scott [Carson], to bring him into the team and if he's playing well then he'll stay there. Scott played a handful of games last season but he's got to where he is so quickly it's staggering, he's only 18 and it's important that we look after him because I think everyone agrees he can become a top class goalkeeper." Meanwhile, Roque Junior has been released by AC Milan and is now free to find himself a new club for next season after loan spells with Leeds and Siena last time round.
July 09: Former Owls keeper Martin Hodge has been appointed as the new goalkeeping coach at Elland Road. Steve Sutton had his contract terminated in the summer - and unless we sign someone else sharpish he could end up having to pull the gloves on and sit on the bench himself!
July 08: It's summer so it's Masters time again. A bunch of Leeds players from the Good Old Days will be in action at Sheffield Arena on Sunday in the Masters 6-a-side tournament. Leeds will be represented by Neil Aspin, Ian Baird, Mark Beeney, Gunnar Halle, Steve Hodge, Chris Kamara, Scott Sellars, Carl Shutt, Glynn Snodin and Andy Williams. Paul Beesley and Tony Agana also appear - but for the Blades. Tickets are available from the box office at fifteen quid a pop - or you can just watch the fun on Sky.
July 08: Following hot on the heels of the new Diadora home kit (the one that apparently changes colour with body heat so would have remained all-white on many of the players last season), the club yesterday launched the new away kit. They're reverting to the Lazio-style light-blue kit from a couple of years back - obviously hoping that harking back to the kit we were wearing in the Champions League run might stir a few happy memories in the fans. It can be pre-ordered now for forty quid with delivery on release in three weeks - but check your local sports shop, because my new home shirt was picked up for £25 a week after it was released.
July 08: Leeds have been drawn against near-neighbours Huddersfield Town in the first round of the Carling Cup. Since Millwall qualified for Europe and automatically get a bye to Round 3, Leicester were also given a free pass to Round 2 as the highest-placed of the relegated clubs in order to balance the draw. Other notable ties include a Lancashire derby as Bury face Burnley, and a Thames Valley battle between Oxford and Reading. The Leeds/Huddersfield game will take place on Tuesday 24 August with a 7:45pm KO at Elland Road. Tickets are £12 for adults, £6 for concessions and family packages for £30. Speaking on Sky Sports, Huddersfield assistant manager Terry Yorath said: "I got a tingly feeling in my body and I enjoyed it. I've got a big smile on my face. I can't wait to go back there. Leeds have had their problems recently, but that's nothing to do with us, but these are sad times for the city really. But it will be fantastic. We get decent crowds at Huddersfield so we'll take a lot of people up to Leeds and I fancy our chances of winning." He went on: "We had a good run in the cups last season. We beat Sunderland and Derby. We're a young side, still learning and it'll be a great day for our players."
July 08: Former club captain Dominic Matteo today spoke of how difficult it was for him to walk away from Elland Road. He said: "It was a hard wrench to leave because I have made so many close friends inside and outside of the club since I came to Leeds. It was very difficult, but the club thought it was in their best interests and I wanted to help." He went on: "Maybe they will be able to use the money they have saved to bring other players in and build again." He pointed out how the deteriorating financial situation had destroyed the team bit by bit, but had nothing but praise for the supporters. He said: "The fans have been fantastic ever since I came here. I love the supporters at Leeds and I want to thank them personally for all they have done for me. I hope Leeds can bounce back and I'm sure they will. Leeds were the team that got me playing my best football. I left on good terms and I will be back again next season. The manager has invited me back to games when I get the chance and I will definitely be taking him up on that. A small piece of me will always be Leeds United."
July 08: Mark Viduka's protracted move to Middlesbrough finally completed today. The player was unveiled at a lunchtime press conference, with the transfer fee understood to be around £4.5 million, of which Viduka will probably bag a third. Viduka said: "I really want to win something and I'm very excited to be part of this. I think Middlesbrough should be pushing for the Champions League." When the assembled press corps had dragged themselves off the floor at this side-splitting hilarity, he added: "Hopefully I'll repay everybody with what I'm here for, which is goals... I would love for us to achieve something over the next three years and I think we're going to turn a few heads this year." While Viduka was being paraded for the cameras, JFH was having a medical and could be set to sign on at the Riverside tomorrow - should provide some serious competition for Viduka, because even at 32 he can still bang them in. Ian Harte has flown out to Spain, with Levante announcing that he would be undergoing a medical today and that they expected to be able to show his signature on a contract to the world by tomorrow afternoon. Danny Mills could now switch to Man City, although concerns about the size of his pay packet continue to dog the deal. Finally on the departing front, we have a non-departure to announce: Michael Duberry will not now be going to Wolves after Kev decided he didn't want to let any more defenders go until he had seen what the remainder could do and how fit they looked. Personally I'd have thought that giving a defender of Duberry's calibre to one of our promotion rivals was a terrific idea - give them a 5-10 goal handicap from the start and we're in with a chance. Meanwhile back on the speculation front, Steve Simonsen has signed for Stoke, so Kev will have to find another keeper, and we're interested in diverting Marlon Harewood's proposed return from Upton Park to the City Ground in our direction in order to give the manager that extra bit of choice and firepower up front - but both Norwich and Palace are interested and would have the advantage of being able to offer more money and Premiership football, even if it is just for one season.
July 07: When we're forced to continue to pay the wages of people who plain and simple aren't worth it, it's desperately sad to see us say goodbye to club captain Dominic Matteo. He left on a free transfer today, making the much-trailed switch to Blackburn, where boss Graeme Souness said: "Dominic is a proven player with an impressive track record and I am delighted to have him on board. He is versatile, able to play a couple of roles both in defence and midfield, and that is an important feature." Rumours suggested that he followed Alan Smith and James Milner in waiving his right to a large pot of cash that would have been his due as a "loyalty" bonus for not asking for a move - unlike the likes of Michael Duberry who know just how much of a millstone they are to the club, and despite having another club willing to take them on, hold out for a final suck at the udder of the milk cow that Ridsdale swapped his magic beans for. Good luck for the future Dom - you've always given your all for the club and we'll never forget that night in the San Siro.
July 07: Leeds new chief operating officer Shaun Harvey says that Michael Duberry is apparently "keen" to join Wolves. So why is he still with the club then? Harvey said: "I think he still remains keen to join Wolves, but one of the issues to be resolved is the terms on which he leaves Leeds. Those discussions are ongoing." Harvey also revealed that Ian Harte's agent had been given permission to discuss terms with a Spanish club - believed to be newly-promoted Levante - and he could be on his way soon as well. Finally, the last details of Mark Viduka's move to Boro are still being ironed out - the financial side of things needless to say are the one area of dispute. It's understood Viduka will get about 6 months' money - £1.5 million - from Leeds for cancelling his contract, and it's down to how much Leeds are prepared to fund that themselves and how much they can persuade Boro to offer as part of the transfer deal: a settlement with the Riverside club of less than £4 million is looking likely as they seek to take advantage of our desperate state.
July 07: Sky have picked two more games to televise - and tomorrow's Carling Cup draw could yield another. The Sunderland game at Elland Road will now be played on the Friday night, with a 7.45 KO, and Wigan's visit will be on the Sunday with a 1.00 KO. The trip to Reading is now an 8.00 KO, and the game at Bramall Lane has - surprisingly - been made an 11.30 KO. Tomorrow's Carling Cup draw could pit Leeds against Sheffield Wednesday, Hull and a host of other lower-division Northern clubs in the seeded, regionalised draw: expect Sky to want to televise our first cup exit.
July 06: Speaking to the official website today, Eirik Bakke says that he wants to stay at Elland Road - despite hints of interest from Palace and West Brom. Of course, he's still three years away from the end of his contract, and after a season of serious injury problems and struggling to impress in a troubled side in the top flight, there might not be quite the same level of excitement should he be available on a free and after a successful season as a star in the second division. And given everything else that has happened over the last couple of years, you'll forgive me if I can't quite get the same level of excitement up when a player announces his loyalty to the club. Bakke said: "I want to stay, I like this club and I like the people here. You never know what is happening here but as I have said all the time I want to stay and I have three years left on my contract here, so as far as I am concerned hopefully I will be a Leeds player this season... If something else happened it would be out of my hands." Bakke has been training back home with Sogndal in order to be ready for Leeds' pre-season sessions and is hopeful he'll be ready for the start of the season. He said: "The knee feels fine, it's strengthening every day with my rehab work, so hopefully everything will be alright this season. "
July 06: Nick Barmby's contract was finally paid off today after several weeks of negotiation between the club and the player's representatives. Barmby had two years remaining on his contract, but has accepted a payment - presumably something less than two years of full pay - and is free to find another club. His home-town club of Hull is favorite to grab his signature, with Peter Taylor admitting he'd already talked to the player.
July 06: The good folks at the Football Fans Census are after your thoughts again. This time, the hot topic is the latest rebranding exercise undertaken by the Football League, as Nationwide League Division 1 (or "Division 2" as it used to be known on account of it being the second highest division in the pyramid) becomes "The Coca Cola Championship". We'll be having the traditional national debate about A-Level grade inflation in a month or so - but in the meantime, what are your thoughts on the latest name change?
July 06: Not much time wasted there then: the announcement of Nick Barmby's arrival on a one-year deal at Hull was released almost simultaenous to the announcement of his departure from Leeds. Hull chairman Adam Pearson said: "We could not be happier to sign Nicky. This is massive for the club and town as Nicky's a local lad and he'll be keen to impress. I'm sure he'll do ever so well next season."
July 05: So, if you believe what you read in the press, we're interested in picking up Everton's free agent David Unsworth, still nosing around persuading Brian Deane to come back and have had a second bid for Burnley's Richard Chaplow laughed out of court. Eirik Bakke is interesting West Brom, there are a couple of clubs in Italy who haven't heard just how bad Ian Harte's free kicks have become, and Mark Viduka's sale will finally complete tomorrow, honest. Blah blah blah blah.
July 05: Youth/reserve keeper Shaun Allaway is having a trial at Oldham in the hope of finally getting a first team game. He never made it closer to a game than the bench on a rare couple of occasions in all of his time at Leeds, but there is need for cover at Oldham after their second string keeper switched down to non-league Kettering.
July 05: New centreback Paul Butler says that he will be out to make a point to the Wolves board that they got it wrong when they let him leave the club. Although he was playing well and the manager and fans were all happy with what they saw, the board were reluctant to sanction a new two-year deal for the 31-year-old. Speaking to the official website, Butler said: "I am sad to leave Wolves but it wasn't about the money why I left... Over the past 18 months I've played the best football of my career, so it was a bit disappointing that they couldn't come up with a two-year deal for us. I'm not saying I'm Superman or anything, but I played through injuries for Dave Jones and I wanted him to bend over backwards to get a second year for me. He tried but the board would not sanction it." But he's very happy to be on board as part of Kev's revolution. He said: "There is no turning your back on a club like Leeds."
July 05: James Milner made exactly the sort of noises we'd expected but didn't get from Alan Smith as he left Elland Road today. He pointed out that, not only had he not asked for or expected a move away from Leeds, both of his parents had renewed their season tickets at Elland Road. He said: "I want people to know that I didn't ask for a move from Leeds. I was hoping to talk about a new contract and was preparing for the start of the new season. As far as I was concerned, up until the end of last week I was all set to start the new season with Leeds." But he added: "I did have mixed emotions when I was told that Leeds had accepted the offer from Newcastle because I had never said that I wanted to move anywhere... Leaving Leeds is disappointing because all I have ever wanted to do is play for them." And he finished off with one for the fans: "I'd like to thank the Leeds fans for all the support they have given me and the team. Last season was horrendous, but they kept going and kept singing and I'm sure they will be the same again this year. The way they took to me was amazing and I'll never forget that. I wish the club and the fans all the best and, hopefully, it won't be long before Leeds bounce back."
July 04: Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell is hoping to be able to spend the cash received from the sale of James Milner - but with the board still facing some serious loan-repayment deadlines, that must be open to question. Blackwell was sad to see Milner go, but accepted that it was a good deal for all concerned: "It is disappointing to lose a player of James calibre, someone who is going to have a fantastic future in the game, but it is a deal that suits everyone at this time. James gets to stay in the Premiership, and I know Sir Bobby is looking to build that club with a base of British players, and for my part I now have a bit more money available to build a decent squad with." He went on: "I am delighted with the players we have managed to bring in so far, they all have past Premiership experience or are proven in this division, and having this money now will help us get a better calibre of player." Milner said he was a bit uncertain about leaving Leeds, but added: "I'm very excited about the challenge ahead of me: coming to a club like Newcastle United is fantastic... To play with guys like [Shearer] is a dream come true and can only help me become a better player." So let's see just how wide the board allow Kev to open the wallet then...
July 03: Incredibly enough, it seems we've not seen the last of the sales. Chairman Gerald Krasner today said that we could expect to see more departures in the next couple of weeks as the club strives to get its finances on an even keel. He said: "We haven't finished yet. I won't discuss what's happening next week but there's a number of options... This was the plan from day one. The wage bill was £40million last season, next season it has to be below £20million." But he added: "There will be players coming in to get us back into the Premiership." It's thought that Dominic Matteo could still move to Blackburn, despite apparently offering to take a pay cut to say. But still on the books are Ian Harte, Michael Duberry and Danny Mills - with Mark Viduka almost out of the door - and the continuing commitment to paying their wages remains a big stumbling block to acquiring any more talent.
July 02: Mark Viduka has passed his medical with Boro, but the deal has yet to complete with the final financial details to be sorted between the player and Boro, and between Boro and Leeds over the Michael Ricketts deal. On the positive side, the fact that we're selling him for £4 million does mean that we don't have to pay anything to Celtic, since we're selling him on for less than we bought him. Whatever happens, we've seen the last of the big Australian: his goalscoring talent can't be questioned - it's just a shame that he never managed to show the sort of commitment and application he was clearly capable of for a full season, when a couple of extra goals and points would almost certainly have been enough to keep us up last time round and push us into Champions League contention in happier days.
July 02: The players faced a day of hell yesterday as Kevin Blackwell put them through their paces to determine their fitness levels. Each squad member was given a close-season fitness programme, along with targets they would be expected to hit when they came back in for pre-season training, with Kevin Blackwell knowing that fitness levels play a huge part in successful promotion campaigns, with the ability to keep on going for the full 90+ minutes and eke out the odd extra point here and there being the difference between glory and mediocrity. Blackwell said: "I am personally delighted with the standard of fitness that the lads have shown. The aim during pre-season is simply to get fit. Fitness levels vary because everybody is different, they each have different metabolism and body make-ups but I want them all fit and strong... Even the lads we had lined up for signing were sent out the booklets and were told that today is the day they will be expected to reach certain levels in testing and every one of them has met the targets. I think it sends a message out to everybody that the players are all quietly determined." Not quite Wilko and his Catterick Camp assault courses - but anyone who has seen Leeds play over the last couple of seasons can't fail to have noticed how often the players are done for pace, flexibility but most particularly endurance, and anything whichincreases their ability to concentrate and avoid mistakes for longer must be a step in the right direction.
July 02: This morning, the chairman tried to put a lid on speculation over James Milner's future (ironically kicked off by Peter Lorimer's remarks earlier this week). Krasner said: "The board is not going to be rushed into a final decision because decisions are irreversible and it needs to be carefully considered." By lunchtime, another statement was issued indicating that the board had received an offer from a Premiership club for Milner's services and was considering what to do next. By late afternoon, the ink was drying on Milner's new contract at St James Park. It's understood Leeds will get £3.5 million up front, with a further £1.75 million payable depending on appearances and success. Norman Hunter praised the player, saying: "He can play on either side, and he can play up front with a striker.He's only 18 and he's got a great future. He's willing to learn. Leeds are my first club, but being a Geordie, Newcastle are the club I follow and I'm quite happy that if he's going anywhere, he's going there." Milner's agent Mick McGuire said that the player had wanted to stay, but recognised what his departure meant to the club. He said: "He's glad that the money his move has generated will help Leeds in the longer term. There has never been a more committed player to Leeds and he will always be a huge fan of the club." He went on: "However, it is common knowledge that, as part of Leeds' survival plans, they need to generate income from transfers, so we appreciate their dilemma and understand their decision to let James go because the money this raises helps safeguard the future of the club... James is excited about joining one of the premier clubs, who can offer him a major stage and European football." Now if only Smithy had acted the same way a lot of unpleasantness could have been avoided. Got to wish the young lad luck and personal success, while hoping the Magpies crash and burn spectacularly as their spending spree fails to pay off just like ours did.
July 02: Leeds' Irish international midfielder Stephen McPhail has rapidly agreed terms for a move to Barnsley after returning from his honeymoon this week, and was wheeled out at a press conference this afternoon at Oakwell. So that's another high earner gone - and yet another "great prospect" dropping down to a level where he might enjoy some success. At one point, the description of McPhail as the "next Liam Brady" didn't seem to be overstating his potential, and after David O'Leary gave him his chance in the first team, he produced some good attacking performances even though he was a bit lightweight in the tackle. In recent years though, his form has dipped to the point where his dozen appearances last season showed him up as a weak link in a team performing badly.
July 02: New recruit Danny Cadamarteri says he does not want to throw away the great chance to resurrect his career that is on offer at Elland Road. After off-field issues and knee and hamstring problems curtailed his Everton career, his switch to Bradford was similarly plagued with knocks and twinges, and he rarely managed a regular run in the side. But now he reckons he's fully fit and is raring to go. He said: "I was hoping that with the situation at Bradford something would come up for me in the summer time and I felt towards the back end of last season that I had done quite well. I was optimistic that something would happen that gave me the opportunity to rebuild again and when a club like Leeds United comes along you are not going to take a second bite at it. At the back end of last season at Bradford I really enjoyed my football again when Bryan Robson came in and it was good to be playing. The last few years have been really frustrating for me, at the start of last season I said I wanted a really good season but it didn't work out that way due to injuries, so that was even more frustrating." And speaking about his move, he added: "I certainly didn't come to Leeds because of the wage. I came here because I expect Leeds to be challenging to get back into the Premiership."
July 02: Leeds have actually offered money to secure a player's services - but a six-figure sum wasn't enough to persuade Burnley to part company with Richard Chaplow. New Leeds assistant boss Sam Ellis worked with Chaplow at Turf Moor and will have been instrumental in persuading Kev to slap a bid in, and he admitted a bid had been made but would not be drawn on the details. Chaplow is just 19 and has two years left on his current deal.
July 01: Mark Viduka didn't report back for pre-season training at Thorp Arch today, instead taking himself off to Boro's Rockcliffe training ground for a medical for the Riverside mob. He's taking nearly a third off his salary to move - but it seems his agent has realised that nobody would dream of matching that sort of money these days, so he's off on a deal that will see Leeds receive a £4 million fee (which will probably be reduced to a fiver or so by the time Celtic, the player and his agents have taken a cut). This morning's papers said that James Milner would also be in the north-east for a medical at St James Park - but Leeds insisted that the player was at Thorp Arch and was taking part in the first session with the team after the summer break. Meanwhile, Danny Mills could also be on his way to play for the Magpies, according to this morning's Sun - but only if he sets his wage expectations at a more realistic level. Meanwhile, it seems that the deal to give Nick Barmby an early release is not quite as finalised as previous reports indicated - but discussions between the player and the club are underway and he is expected to depart shortly.
July 01: Professor Bill Gerrard was kicked into action this morning by the news of James Milner's apparent sale to Newcastle, and as ever was not slow to lambast the Leeds board for its lack of ambition and poor financial position. He said: "I think they are desperate and they will sell whoever. I am very pessimistic about the short and medium-term prospects when they are selling players like Milner. I am absolutely gutted. Tens of thousands of Leeds fans will be very upset. It is a real sign of short-termism. I think they will sell whoever they can for whatever they can get and I think there will be a huge reaction. Every decent fan of Leeds United will be absolutely furious, he was the future. Krasner selling Milner is the equivalent of Peter Ridsdale selling Jonathan Woodgate. Selling Milner shows the club have no money and no ambition." Just as well he's not been sold then, isn't it? Well, not yet anyway....
July 01: There's a great prospect floating around on a free transfer - if we can afford his wages. A certain JF Hasselbaink has had his contract paid off by Chelsea and is now a free agent. His agent said: "We have an agreement with Chelsea and Jimmy is now a free agent. We will move things forward from there. There are quite a few interested clubs. There is interest from Scotland and Jimmy is very willing to listen to what is said. One club has already tabled an offer, although I am not willing to say where they are based. There is also a very lucrative proposal from Japan, but Jimmy is not keen on moving there. He has no preference as to which league he plays in. What he wants is to join an ambitious club who are moving forward. He is still very ambitious as a player and wants to go where he can win trophies." Well, he could come to Leeds and help us win the Coca-Cola Championship - what bigger trophy could he want? Alternatively he could stroll around Parkhead for a couple of years and plunder the Scottish defences as a tailor-made replacement for Henrik Larsson. Hmmmm... difficult decision....
July 01: New signing Matthew Spring has said he didn't hesitate to join Kevin Blackwell's fight to win promotion as soon as he heard Leeds were interested. He said: "It was a bit of a shock because I was lined up to go to Forest and I was pleased with that. Then a couple of days later Leeds came in with an offer. I had a decision to make but as soon as I saw Elland Road and thought about the atmosphere of 35,000 fans at every home game my mind was made up. I feel great about it. It's all been a bit of a whirlwind but it's a great opportunity." Don't want to disappoint you Matt, but I think that expecting 35K at every home game is waaaayyyyy too optimistic.
July 01: Jason Wilcox has wasted no time in getting his career restarted as his contract ran out at Leeds. He's signed a one-year deal at Leicester and will be hoping for a few more chances at the Walker Stadium than he has received at Elland Road of late. He made a total of 106 appearances for Leeds, scoring 6 times.
July 01: There were many new faces at Thorp Arch today as the players signed on for the first session of pre-season training, with the first warm-up match less than a fortnight away in Sweden. Paul Butler, Danny Cadamarteri, Clarke Carlisle, Julian Joachim, Danny Pugh, Michael Ricketts and Jermaine Wright were joined by Craig Hignett, formerly of Boro, Blackburm and Leicester. Kevin Blackwell has agreed to allow Hignett to join Leeds' pre-season training squad, but has not promised him a deal - although the experienced striker will be hoping he can do enough to impress Kev that he can still do a job outside the Premiership. Despite all of the new arrivals, Blackwell isn't finished yet and is hoping for a couple more arrivals before too long though. He said:"I do have a few more irons in the fire and hopefully, fingers crossed, we can see if one or two or those can be brought to the club." A keeper and a midfielder are believed to be the targets - with Steve Simonsen the main focus after Paul Gerrard signed for Forest.
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