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Leeds United News from The Sporting Life    Yorkshire Evening Post

August 31: Kevin Blackwell wouldn't be drawn on the prospect of any imminent arrivals at Elland Road, as deadline day passed for the top flight clubs. Blackwell apparently went to Prague last week to watch a player in Sparta's Champions League game against Ferencvaros but wasn't impressed: "It was a complete waste of time. The guy I was watching was very disappointing." Yeah, but come on Kev - it's a great place to visit! Go see the statue of the patron saint of lost causes on Charles Bridge and watch it throw itself into the river when you ask it who you should pick to best partner Michael Duberry in defence - maybe then you'll finally get the message! Meanwhile Blackwell says that Jamie McMaster should continue to put in the effort to grab a first-team place. He said: "The kid has got ability but if you don't work hard that ability means nothing. If a chap is sharper than you and has less ability, particularly if he's a defender, you still won't be able to perform because you'll never get away from him." McMaster has done well in his sub appearances this season, and Blackwell said: "He showed signs that he's doing the things I want him to do and that's to come on and hurt people, get at defenders and force errors out of them." McMaster seemed happy to accept Blackwell's faint praise: "I had a good pre-season, I did a lot of running and have been working hard. I want to keep improving my game and training my hardest and if the boss gives me a chance I can only go out and do my best. This might be the season now so I've just got to keep working."

August 31: Tickets for the Carling Cup game against Swindon go on sale tomorrow morning to Season Ticket holders. Sale to members is next Tuesday and Wednesday with general sale from Thursday onwards. Twelve of your English pounds gets you in - family packages are priced at thirty quid.

August 30: Only a month to go before we have to return to the scene of the start of on-field downfall of David O'Leary's Leeds United - Ninian Park in Cardiff. If the game in the FA Cup less than three years ago has faded from your memory by now I'd be surprised, but while the team let a one goal lead slip, saw the incompetent Andy D'Urso dismiss Alan Smith for trying to detach a defender's arm from his shirt and face a barrage of coins every time they took a throw-in or corner, the supporters were subject to wave after wave of abuse and missiles from the Cardiff fans while the South Wales Police sat around and did nothing. Well, nothing that is apart from attack some Leeds fans who were trying to get back on official coaches in the official coach park. So it will come as not much of a surprise to see that the local plod are a bit uptight about our visit at the start of October, but their novel solution to this possible flashpoint is apparently to insist that all Leeds fans come on registered buses, receiving an escort from the motorway all the way to the ground and then back out again after the game. Presumably so they know where everyone is so they can try to beat us all up again - they must be a bit flush with cash if that's the case because these out-of-court settlements can be quite expensive.

August 30: Andy Keogh continues to impress on his loan spell at Scunthorpe - scoring the opener just before half-time today as Brian Laws side went on to beat Northampton 2-0. Warren Feeney is also right in form for Stockport, pulling them back to 1-1 with less than 10 minutes to go in their clash with Tranmere.

August 30: Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell has roasted his team after yesterday's defeat at Bramall Lane - and the front men come in for particular mention. He said: "The players have to know I will not stand for things being too sloppy for too long. There are certain things I was not happy with. I am looking for more from the strikers and I certainly let them know about it." The reserves are in action at home to the Baggies on Thursday night in a match that could see a few first-teamers given some extra homework, but they will then jet out to Greece for a weekend break and the match against Iraklis Thessaloniki next Sunday.

August 29: The contradiction between Kevin Blackwell's words and his deeds went a long way to costing Leeds at least a point today. The performance on the field was not of the standard Leeds fans are entitled to expect - even in these straitened times. However, the unavoidable fact is that Michael Duberry was recalled in favour of Clarke Carlisle - whose performances against Forest and Huddersfield had been more than serviceable - and not for the first time in his Leeds career, it was Duberry's comical grasp of the basics of defending that were central to both goals. So what price selection on results and performances Kevin? "Where the f*** is Clarke Carlisle?" was the chant from the travelling support, and that's a question that we're entitled to expect an answer to from the manager. As for the formation and selection of the unfit and off-form Michael Ricketts up front - again it begs the question of the manager - "What games have you been watching this season?" Leeds have looked most effective with a four-man midfield with Danny Pugh overlapping on the left, and with Deane and Joachim as an orthodox pair up front - but for some reason the manager chose today to field an experimental line-up, only to find himself comprehensively out-thought by his former tutor. The short version: Ricketts failed to take a decent chance in the first half, but Andy Gray could have had a hat-trick against his former employers if he'd been a bit sharper. Early in the second period, Michael Tonge ambled through a couple of half-hearted challenges, then set up veteran Ashley Ward to slip the ball past an unprotected Neil Sullivan. On 68 minutes, Duberry produced a typically clumsy challenge on Andy Gray, and Jon Harley drilled the resulting free kick past Sullivan - game over. Duberry later hit the bar with a John Pearson-esque effort from inside the box, and with the Watford game cancelled Leeds face the possibility of being in the drop zone by the time the Bank Holiday round of matches are complete. The games against Cov, Plymouth and Crewe have already started to assume a major significance: at the very least a win and two draws are needed, and even then Kevin Blackwell could find the televised visit of Sunderland turn into a show trial of his team selection and coaching ability. I didn't expect to see us bounce straight back into the top flight, and I'm not expecting instant success from the team - but I'm far from alone in expecting Kevin Blackwell to follow through on the honest plain-speaking approach of the pre-season and not ignore the evidence of his eyes and the stats.

August 29: Time once again to get your votes in for the Player of the Month. Vote here or drop me an email if you're web-challenged.

August 29: Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell wants more time and more money after today's embarrassing performance at Bramall Lane. He said: "The result again highlighted where we are short, and now the club have a decision to make. To be fair to them, they are trying to raise finances as we speak, but it's a holding situation at the moment. I cannot go and get any player because any player is not good enough for Leeds United football club." Well I can think of a couple of players who are employed by LUFC who might have been slightly less "not good enough" than a couple of the people who pulled the shirt on today, but there you go. He added: "I have said to the lads, whether they like it or not, they have to handle that thing on their chest which is the badge of Leeds United. Playing for Leeds you have to have that little bit more, but unfortunately it costs money... When I looked at the bench today there was a 16, 17, 18 and a 19-year-old and that is not good enough for Leeds, but that is where we are at the moment." And the age of these players has what exactly to do with it? We had the England U-21 keeper, Clarke Carlisle - with 3 U21 caps, Jamie McMaster with youth caps and a couple of impressive sub performances behind him this season, plus the pace of young Aaron Lennon - who made a few Premier League defenders look stupid last season. With Matt Kilgallon left out of the 16 another U21 cap, there's no denying there's some quality and potential there - despite the lack of depth and experience. But Blackwell insists that more arrivals are essential, saying: "The club has to raise money. But that's not my responsibility, that's the responsibility of the football club. It's clear the club has to do something." Blackwell received a bit of sympathy from Neil Warnock. His former boss said: "You look at the division and there is not an easy game. Leeds, Wolves and Leicester have all lost very good players, and then it becomes much harder with all the other teams wanting to beat those that have come down." True - but maybe we could make it a bit less easy for those other teams to beat us, starting with...

August 29: Alan Smith and Paul Robinson have been named in Sven's squad for the two WC2006 qualifiers against Austria and Poland next month.

August 29: Ian Harte got his career at Levante off to a good start with a goal for the newly-promoted side in La Liga this weekend. Harte's strike late in the first half gave Levante the lead at Real Sociedad, but the home side came back to square the match shortly after the break through Nihat.

August 29: Leeds Ladies finally picked up a point this season - although they remain second bottom of the league. Today they drew 2-2 at Birmingham - Karen Walker opening the scoring for Leeds at the start of the second half, but needing to grab a second goal with 10 minutes to go to ensure Leeds shared the points after the Blues scored twice in a minute on the hour mark.

August 27: Kevin Blackwell has given the sort of grudging backing to Michael Ricketts that seems to give the lie to his insistence that he would only bring in players who wanted to play for Leeds and give their all to the cause. Ricketts' lack of fitness has been evident for all to see and it's clearly causing no small amount of frustration to the manager. He said: "Michael is a frustrating player and I haven't got Michael Ricketts because Leeds had loads of money to spend. Michael is here because of deals that were done, but there's no doubt about it the kid has something and we have to be patient, fans and management alike." He went on: "There's no doubt we pull our hair out at times but if we are patient then we will see some good stuff from him." Rough translation: the board foisted him on me because Boro insisted we take him off their hands (and wage bill) as part of the Viduka deal and now I'm trying to make the best of it." Now watch him prove me wrong with a hat-trick on Sunday...

August 27: Blades boss Neil Warnock knows a thing or two about his opponent on Sunday - and says that Kevin Blackwell has been deploying some tricks he picked up during their long association. Warnock said: "He's been with me for 17 years, and he's done well. He obviously learned something in that time from what he has been saying about playing down their chances. He has signed experienced and young players and I think there will be two good teams playing on Sunday." Leeds have more or less a full squad to choose from on Sunday, with Clarke Carlisle likely to keep his place ahead of Michael Duberry and Jamie McMaster pressing for a start ahead of Steve Guppy after a couple of impressive appearances from the bench. For Sheffield, former Leeds player Andy Gray will be hoping that his good form in front of goal will allow him to retain his place, but Barry Hayles, Jack Lester and the experienced Ashley Ward are all pressing for a chance to start and Warnock has plenty of attacking options. He said: "Sunday will be a great game to be involved in. It should be a classic game with plenty of chances."

August 27: Sheffield boss Neil Warnock has buried the hatchet with Kevin Blackwell after Blackwell's less than totally amicable departure for Leeds before the start of last season. Warnock said: "Yes, I was disappointed with the way he left but time is a great healer. You always want staff around you that you can trust and I could trust Kevin. I knew that if I rang him up at three in the morning and asked him to do 200 miles for me he would." And he appreciates why he left Sheffield: "I'm sure he's still learning things about management but it's a wonderful opportunity for him because Leeds are a huge club." Warnock is also hoping for a trouble-free day on the terraces, in a game shifted on police advice and with Leeds stressing that people without membership cards will not be admitted.

August 27: Alan Smith's great start to his ManU career continues: in a game controversially extended by four minutes (after the ref had indicated three), Smith hammered in an equaliser in the very last minute of injury time with the ref failing to notice Saha's blatant handball to set Smith up. Caleb Folan scored twice late on for Chesterfield as they came from behind to beat Bradford 2-3. JFH hammered in a thunderbolt free kick to give Boro the points against Palace at the Riverside. Finally, Darren Huckerby was Norwich's star player against Arsenal - although they still lost 1-4 courtesy of defensive tactics that played into the hands of the barely-resistible Henry-Pires-Reyes combo. Huckerby's run through the heart of the Gunners' defence should have seen the visitors reduced to ten men as Lauren hauled him down when he had an otherwise unobstructed run on goal: the score was just 0-1 at that point, but by the time Huckerby was next brought down Arsenal were 0-3 up and the well-taken penalty from the ex-Leeds man was nothing more than a consolation.

August 26: Clarke Carlisle is keeping his fingers crossed that he's done enough to secure his place alongside Paul Butler for the Sheffield United game at the weekend. He came into the side against Forest with Michael Duberry suspended, and continued against Huddersfield last night. He said: "I've managed to get into the team for the last two games and have tried to put in consistent defensive performances... It was another clean sheet against Huddersfield and a victory. Now I am looking forward to the atmosphere of another Yorkshire derby at Sheffield United if the manager decides to keep me in the side." Let's hope he gets his wish - the alternative would almost certainly mean the return of Michael Duberry, and all the paharmacists near Elland Road have reported a run on throat syrup as Gary Kelly, Paul Butler and Neil Sullivan stock up in anticipation of another 90 minutes trying to shout basic defensive instructions at the always enthusiastic but frequently mispositioned Duberry.

August 26: Matthew Spring and Aaron Lennon played in a behind-closed-doors game against Rotherham reserves yesterday as they work their way back to full fitness and into contention for a first team place. The pair picked up knocks in the pre-season in Sweden and have yet to make it into the squad but both are now looking a lot closer to offering Kevin Blackwell a few more selection options. Aaron Lennon scored twice and Danny Cadamarteri bagged another as Leeds won 3-0.

August 26: Leeds have confirmed that the Carling Cup game against Swindon will take place on Tuesday 21 September with a 7:45PM KO at Elland Road. Tickets prices are yet to be finalised, but expect them to be priced to sell.

August 26: It was announced today that Leeds have signed a sponsorship deal with Carlsberg - probably the blandest lager in the world - making their particular brand of carbonated pop the official beer of Leeds United for the next three years. Of course, the company that used to be called Carlsberg-Tetley could offer us something entirely more appetising as "official beer", but promoting a cask ale with local roots rather than an international mega-brand flavoured water with alcohol and bubbles added isn't really in line with standard big brewery practise these days. Still, at least it's not Strongbow...

August 26: Tuesday night's game against Watford has been postponed. A statement issued by the club said that - due to international call-ups for the U-21 games, notably for Scott Carson - Leeds needed to cancel the game or face the prospect of fielding an unacceptably weak team. The statement pointed out that Neil Sullivan and Scott Carson were the only two fit and vaguely experienced keepers in the squad, and if Carson was absent and Sullivan got injured then Leeds would have no acceptable replacements available. A new date has yet to be announced, but COO Shaun Harvey said that the club hoped to play the match sometime in November.

August 25: Goal hero Danny Pugh was a bit surprised that he's found himself as Leeds' new top scorer. He said: "It's not normally my forte. I've always liked to go forward but I've spent most of my time playing at left-back over the last couple of years so I haven't really had many opportunities. My first against Gillingham wasn't the same because we lost that game, but it was nice to score last night." And he was surprised by the turnout (I think we all were!): "It was an unbelievable night really because there were 30,000 inside the ground. That shows what this club is all about and I hope we can keep improving." Meanwhile, Kevin Blackwell was relieved to get past a tough local derby test. He said: "This was all about getting through the round and sometimes you take it any way you can get it. Sometimes it's never pretty at this stage. It was a battle, a war of attrition and the banana skin was there for us." But he made it clear that fans - and potential buyers - expecting champagne football clearly didn't know enough about the club's financial state or the sort of game that would win promotion back to the top flight. He said: "I'd love to play expansive football, get the ball down, do somersaults, but it costs money. You get 'owt for nowt' as they say around here. Well I'm trying to put a team together and it has cost me 'nowt'... The first thing I had to do when I took over was put a side together. I didn't have a team six weeks ago, so I've gone out to put that team together for nothing and that's what people have seen... I've got no money, which is frustrating for everybody, especially the Leeds fans and myself which means I can't play lovely, expansive football and buy tricky players. Until that changes I have to make sure we're competitive and at the moment I think we are competitive." The proof of the pudding will surely come on Sunday with the trip to Bramall Lane: anything less than a battling, committed attitude will see Leeds turned over as comprehensively as the sides fielded by Terry Venables two years ago.

August 25: Brian Deane is keeping his fingers crossed that he can get over the knock he picked up against Forest in order to face his former club at Bramall Lane on Sunday. Of the two big strikers, Deane has looked an order of magnitude more mobile, fit and committed than Michael Ricketts so far this season, and if Deane is fit he will surely start against the Blades. But first he's got to get over his ankle injury - we're keeping our fingers crossed that he does.

August 25: In what I'm sure won't be the last such incident this season, there was trouble in Leeds city centre last night as 5000 Huddersfield fans turned up for the Carling Cup tie. Police were swarming all over the train station, and reinforcements were needed when a bunch of visiting fans kicked off in Yates's, smashing windows and causing extensive damage inside the bar. Police herded those that they managed to round up onto buses to be taken straight to the ground and despite a few more skirmishes around the car parks, it was otherwise uneventful. I'm a bit surprised that the trouble caught the police on the hop - and can only hope they're a bit better-prepared when Millwall and Cardiff come to call.

August 25: Leeds have been drawn at home to Swindon for the next round of the Carling Cup. The teams met at the same stage last year - with Leeds needing a late header from keeper Paul Robinson to cling on to a draw and go through on penalties. The tie will be played in the week commencing 20 September.

August 25: Alan Smith struck twice in three minutes tonight as ManU coasted to an easy 3-0 win over Dynamo Bucharest, while Mark Viduka also opened the scoring on his debut for Boro after missing the start of the season for the suspension he incurred from his two end-of-season dismissals at Elland Road.

August 24: Serge Branco remains unavailable for selection after the continued failure of the German FA to release his international clearance - but it's hoped it should come through by the weekend. Meanwhile Leeds are set to take two more triallists on: Celtic midfielder Bobby Petta and Malian international David Coulibaly. Petta has not played at Parkhead for over one year, and made 13 appearances on loan at Fulham last season. He's been with Celtic since 1999, but seems to be well out of Martin O'Neill's current plans. Coulibaly is currently playing the French second division for Chateauroux, but they have allowed him the chance to train with Leeds and see if he can secure a permanent move - despite missing Kev's key criteria of being Northern European and speaking good English. However, Mali are no fools on the international circuit, and if he proves half as sharp as compatriot Freddie Kanoute then he could do well in the second division for Leeds.

August 24: Terry Yorath today escaped a prison sentence for drunk driving when he appeared at Leeds Magistrates Court today. Yorath crashed into a pedestrian, breaking her pelvis and leaving her in considerable pain. He was fined £500, banned for two and a half years, and put on a 12-month rehabilitation order, alongside 60 hours of community service. Judge David Kitson told Yorath that the fact that he had stopped, tried to help his victim and co-operated with the police counted in his favour, and just weighed the balance against a custodial sentence.

August 24: A Danny Pugh goal was all that separated Leeds and Huddersfield at Elland Road tonight. The visitors had the best chances and gave their 5,000 travelling fans plenty to cheer about, but in a surprisingly well-attended game, Pugh was just sharp enough to pounce on the ball after Michael Ricketts had headed against the bar and poke the ball past Ian Gray. Neil Sullivan had a busy first half, but was less troubled in the second period, with Jamie McMaster having the best chance of the half, forcing Gray to make a good save at full stretch.

August 23: A bunch of Leeds old boys will be in action next weekend, taking on a police team in aid of the PC Ian Broadhurst Memorial Fund. Ian Broadhurst was killed in Leeds last year while on duty: event organiser PC Kev Burns said: "Ian's murder has touched every single person who works for the Force in some way. We just wanted to do our part to show Ian's family that we care and that he will be missed by so many people." The game will be at Garforth Town FC next Sunday, with a 3pm KO. David Batty, Peter Lorimer, Bobby Davison, John Sheridan and Ian Snodin are among those who are already confirmed as taking part.

August 23: In a neat reversal of the situation of a year ago, Leeds chairman Gerald Krasner today warned Southampton off making any approach for Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell. It's not that long since Leeds were touted as the next destination of the then Saints manager Gordon Strachan, but now that Rupert Lowe has managed to part company with yet another manager - Paul Sturrock departing after 13 games in charge and a perfectly reasonable start to the season - then it's open season on anyody deemed to be making a vaguely decent fist of their job. Krasner said: "There is no chance of Kevin going to Southampton. This club wouldn't allow it to happen. We are all pleased with what he has achieved here in a short-space of time."

August 23: Leeds' young players got their season off to a good start at the weekend with a 1-4 win at Norwich - Ben Parker, Gavin Rothery and Kevin Smith with a pair being on target for Leeds. However the Ladies look to have blown their chances of improving on last season's finish already with another disappointing defeat - Karen Walker netting a consolation goal late on when Leeds were already 2-0 down.

August 23: Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell says he wishes there were more players out there like Brian Deane. Blackwell pointed to Deane's work-rate so far this season as evidence that he wasn't over the hill. Blackwell said: "People questioned why I brought Brian Deane back to this football club at the age of 36. It's because you cannot buy the experience the lad has got, you cannot buy the Yorkshire passion he has and you can't buy the Leeds' factor. He wants to be here and if I can find a few more like Brian Deane I will sign them."

August 23: New striker Julian Joachim says that he's enjoying it at Leeds and is linking up well with target man Brian Deane. He said: It feels good working alongside Brian because he has so much experience, he has done it all and remains a formidable player. We're Leeds' Little and Large." Too true. And to take the parallel a bit further, there was nobody laughing when you missed your second one-on-one in two games. Still, if you can get yourself elected Prime Minister like Syd Little did, maybe you can get a law passed condemning poor refs like the one we had at the weekend to be put in stocks and pilloried outside the ground every Saturday.

August 23: Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell wasn't taking ref Mike Pike to task for his poor call on the penalty on Saturday - although Steve Guppy pointed out the strange way in which it was awarded. Blackwell said: "I thought it was a harsh decision to say the least, but if I am to be critical of the team then it's that we missed too many chances. I know managers that have moaned after decisions but there's no point doing that. You make your own luck and take your own luck - we couldn't finish them off so it's our own fault... The referee has to sleep with that decision, it just seems very unfortunate that everytime something can go wrong it will. He's made his decision and I am not going to argue with him." But Guppy pointed out that the Forest player had simply collided with him and there was nothing illegal about his actions: He said: "The ball landed in the box, I started to go for the ball but then thought I wasn't going to get it. So I pulled out and as far as I am concerned the player coming in just curled his run so he would run into me. I couldn't do anything about as he just ran straight into me. I looked at the referee and he was shaking his head saying no, but then all their players started getting on his back and unbelievably he gave the penalty." And he added: "It was a horror story of an ending but I am hoping I can build on the stuff before that."

August 23: No problems for either side ahead of tomorrow's Carling Cup clash at Elland Road. Terriers keeper Ian Gray came through the weekend match with the Owls with no ill-effects on his injured hand, and Kevin Blackwell now has Serge Branco available, with Michael Duberry returning from his all-too-short ban.

August 22: Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell insists that any new players at the club must be able to handle the pressure. He said: "They have to want to play for Leeds, wear the shirt with pride and handle the fact it is the premier club. I have not taken just anyone, to fill holes is no good, I have got to make sure it is for the long haul." Leeds are a big target and a high-profile scalp for the other teams in the division - despite the wholesale changes to the side that stormed through Europe a couple of years ago. Blackwell said: "It has been a cup tie in the four games that we have had. Being a premier club there must be more expectations on you than if you are, no disrespect, a lesser club." He went on to reiterate his desire to bring in more bodies - simply so he has some slack to drop players who are not on form and cover for injuries. He said: "I had 17 players to pick from. Two are on monthly contracts, five are under the age of 20 and I have a 16-year-old playing every week at the moment."

August 21: Pretty one-sided out on the park at Elland Road today but the points were split evenly between the two sides after some poor finishing, suicidal defending and abysmal refereeing. Leeds had the majority of the possession, and with Clarke Carlisle coming into the side for the first time the defence looked an order of magnitude more solid than it ever does when Kevin Blackwell's brain explodes and he writes Michael Duberry's name on the teamsheet. The absence of Michael Ricketts up front was understandable - and Brian Deane once again looked far more lively, direct and likely to score than Ricketts. But Leeds continue to suffer from a lack of midfield creativity, and Steve Guppy's selection on the left wing pushed Danny Pugh into the centre, but in doing so removed one of our best attacking channels in the previous three games. Still, Guppy did well to meet Frazer Richardson's cross to head Leeds in front in the first half, and Forest rarely threatened Neil Sullivan's goal. In the first half the ref had already blown up at every possible opportunity, and when the second period started he booked two Forest players and Brian Deane for delaying the taking of free kicks - particularly dubious for Deano's card since all the striker tried to do was move the ball back 10 yards to where the (non-)offence had taken place. More poor decisions followed - in the space of 3 seconds, a Forest player jumped on the shoulders of a Leeds player as the ball bounced around but there was no whistle; immediately after it was a white shirt climbing on a red one and the ref blew up. Paul Gerrard came off his line and ran into one of his own players as Brian Deane tried to get to the ball - and Forest got another free kick. And then Steve Guppy made it easy for the ref to achieve his desire to influence the result by allowing a Forest player to run into him in the area: Sullivan once again guessed right on the pen, but Andy Reid's shot from the spot was well-placed and it was all square. Julian Joachim turned Louis-Jean to burst clean through on goal, but for the second home game in a row he missed a one-on-one chance to snatch the lead back. Deano's header from the corner bounced into the ground and over the bar - and although that was the last of the chances it wasn't the end of the controversy. Jamie McMaster was rugby-tackled on the edge of the box, but the ref only chose to show a yellow card, and after 4 substitutions, at least two times when the trainer was on, the penalty hoo-ha and some blatant timewasting by Forest, the ref somehow thought that we should only be given an extra 2 minutes to grab a winner rather than the 4 or 5 that anyone with a basic grasp of mathematics and timekeeping might have thought. So, plenty to complain about - but ultimately we neither made nor took our chances well enough to deserve the three points - and that's where Kev needs to focus over the next few weeks.

August 21: Noel Whelan scored the only goal of the game as Aberdeen won at Dunfermline this afternoon - his first goal for his new club. On his home league debut, Alan Smith flicked a header on to set up David Bellion for ManU's first goal, and scored a astunning volley for their second as they beat Norwich 2-1.

August 21: Speaking after today's game, Kevin Blackwell said: "If I'm going to be critical we didn't take the chances. We had a long chat in the dressing room afterwards and we are bitterly disappointed not to have taken three points which I thought we deserved. But if you don't take your chances Forest are always a side that can get a goal." But he's not unhappy with what he's achieved with his new team since the start of July. He said: "I'm pleased with them all. Six weeks ago I had two names on a piece of paper - Kelly and Duberry. We created enough chances, played with a bit of flair, we played with passion, we put our foot in where it mattered." Joe Kinnear was understandably happy to get a point. He said: "We chased the game and got rewarded for a little bit of bravery. We were throwing people forward, putting people under pressure and Reid tucked it away nicely and kept his head."

August 20: Cameroun international midfielder Serge Branco has signed a one-year deal with the club - but his international clearance doesn't look to have made the deadline to get him into the squad for tomorrow's game. He has previously played for Eintracht Frankfurt and VfB Stuttgart in Europe, but is currently out of contract so won't cost Leeds anything in transfer fees. Kevin Blackwell said: "He brings real quality to the squad at the time when we need it." He's a left-sided player - and Danny Pugh has done very well there so far this season, so it's likely that one of the two will play a more central role with young Simon Walton dropping to the bench.

August 20: Matt Spring could come into the reckoning for tomorrow's game after all. He's said to be over his hamstring problem - but Kevin Blackwell is still reluctant to risk him in a first-team game before he's had a chance to show some degree of match fitness for the reserves. Clarke Carlisle could also jump straight into the first team squad after scoring for the reserves in midweek. For Forest, Joe Kinear is likely to be without the services of John Thompson, Kris Commons and Michael Dawson.

August 20: Jonathan Woodgate is on the move again! Less than two years after leaving Leeds for St James Park - and after just 37 games for the Magpies - he has been snapped up by Real Madrid as new boss Jose Camacho tries to strengthen their defence and recapture the title from Valencia. Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd said: "We did not want Jonathan to leave Newcastle United, but you have to look at it from both sides. Real Madrid are the biggest club in the world - that's a fact. Jonathan has said that Real Madrid would have been the only club he'd have left Newcastle United for - he certainly wouldn't have joined another Premiership club." He's being sold for £13.4 million - some 50% more than Leeds sold him for in January 2003, but because Leeds were desperate for cash at the time, the club took more money up front by foregoing a sell-on clause, so no windfall for Kev. Of course that does leave Newcastle with a big gap at the heart of their defence - maybe we could sell them Michael Duberry?

August 19: Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell has pronounced himself "thrilled" with the progress the young players in the squad have made. With England U-21 players Frazer Richardson and Matthew Kilgallon securing places in the starting line-up (and surely after Wolves he must realise that Killa - or, indeed your 38-year-old dodgy-kneed correspondent - would be a better choice at the centre of the defence than Michael Duberry). 16-year-old Simon Walton is the real story of the season so far though - he might not look like the next Gordon Strachan but he has put in some sterling performances, very solid tackles and has not been intimidated by far more experienced opponents. Blackwell said: "I'm delighted with them because they are still learning their trade in a very tough league. It's slightly unfair on the kids because they are carrying a major mantle of being at Leeds United Football Club, there is no doubt about that, and I would have liked to have developed them on a gradual basis but I'm having to bring them in." With Duberry suspended and Lucas Radebe joining Seth Johnson and Eirik Bakke on the long-term injury list, the youngsters are going to get even more of a chance to continue to impress him on Saturday. Suggestions that Matthew Spring might join the line-up on Saturday have been played down by the Leeds manager. Blackwell said: "Springy's not had a day's training since we started the season, but this is his last week of rehab and he should be able to join in next week. I don't want to rush him back because he'll need to build up his fitness and, at the moment, it still looks like he's a couple of weeks away."

August 19: Lucas Radebe insists that he will prove the doctors and the doubters wrong yet again and will make another appearance for Leeds United. Speaking after his latest op, he said: "I am pretty confident, despite what many have said, that I will be back before the end of the season. I have bounced back from more serious injuries before and I am pretty confident I will be able to do the same again as I would hate my career to end in this unfortunate way." Let's hope he does - but let's also hope that he doesn't push himself too far too quickly and do some lasting damage.

August 19: Leeds club captain Paul Butler says that he has been impressed with the continued support for the team. No doubt years of sullen and silent Wolves and Sunderland fans has taken its toll on the big defender: he was surprised to find that the travelling support didn't get on the team's back when they conceded a goal at Gillingham last week. He said: "What surprised me most was during the first half at Gillingham when we were 1-0 down for most of the half and they were still constantly cheering us on. I think they could see the commitment we were putting into it and that's all they are asking for." And he suggests that things could start to improve soon: "The quality will come after eight or nine games once everything is settled."

August 18: Stockport and Bournemouth have come to an agreement over the fee for the services of Warren Feeney, who left the Cherries in the summer. Feeney was out of contract, but because of his age Bournemouth were entitled to a fee, so they're getting £45,000 up front with 20% of the proceeds of any subsequent sale going back to Dean Court. He's already scored twice in three games for Stockport, so that could prove to be a bargain.

August 18: Andy Keogh's loan spell with Scunthorpe has been extended by a month - but he won't be allowed to play in the Carling Cup in case Kevin Blackwell needs to use him in a later round (now there is the definition of optimism!).

August 18: Quite a few Leeds names on display in last night's 3-1 win over Ukraine for the U-21 side. Scott Carson had a good game between the sticks, with Matthew Kilgallon solid in defence. Jermaine Pennant was very creative on the wings, and James Milner also turned in a good performance in the hour he was on in the middle of the park. For the senior side, Alan Smith had a middling performance in the first half of England's 3-0 win over Ukraine at St James' Park - in a game where the two highlights were a well-taken goal after an interception and run from his own half by Shaun Wright-Phillips, and the abuse directed at Kieron Dyer's every touch after a reported dressing-room fall-out with Bobby Robson. Gary Speed captained Wales to a 0-2 win in Latvia - his 81st cap for his country. Alan Maybury was in the Ireland squad for their 1-1 draw with Bulgaria but didn't make it beyond the bench.

August 18: After Kevin Blackwell hinted that he would be looking for northern European players on the fringes of teams in the top flight of their respective countries, it didn't take the papers long to rustle up an initial target. David Odonkor of Borussia Dortmund is the first name in the frame: the German U-21 striker finds himself behind Jan Koller and Ewerthon at Dortmund, and would be attracted by the prospect of regular first team football. Having said that, it's hard to see Leeds being able to pay cash for his services, or Dortmund being keen to let one of their better back-up players go out on loan for a season. Not the first of these stories and I'm sure not the last...

August 17: Leeds are said to be exploring the possibilities of opening a casino at Elland Road in order to bring in more cash - shame that some of the best customers of such an establishment have all been sold in the last couple of years. In today's YEP, a Leeds spokesman is quoted as saying: "We are looking at increasing revenue from non-footballing activities and we will look at every avenue possible." So that explains Michael Duberry's presence in the team. Now what about casinos? They went on: "Any re-generation would have to fit in with the stadium and would not affect the football in any way. Everything is embryonic at the moment."

August 17: Leeds kick off the reserve league season tonight with a trip to Villa - and for once it's not just a batch of youngsters on show as Kev continues to see what the triallists and recent arrivals can do. Clarke Carlisle, Danny Cadamarteri and Aaron Lennon are in the squad, on their way back from injuries picked up in the pre-season games, and triallists/non-contract bods Chris Bart-Williams, Craig Hignett and Steve Guppy are also in the line-up.

August 17: Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell says that he's not finished in his search for new talent - and he could even look overseas to complete his squad. He said: "There's balls in all sorts of areas and I am trying to keep them all up at the same time. We have still got to try and get at least three players in for nothing and the English market is fairly well exhausted, so we have to look abroad now." But he dropped in a couple of big caveats: "The lesson from last year though is do not take foreign players in haste. So long as it does not cost me anything to have a look at somebody, I'll bring them in for a trial, but they have to be of a certain standard. Most of them are coming out of the Dutch or German Premier League so I know they will technically be very good - it's whether they can handle the pace and power of the English game, particularly the hurly-burly of the First Division. It will be trial and error but maybe we can bring up another nugget." As well as being able to speak English, Blackwell said there was another key factor to consider: "Some of the players we brought in last season did not have the right attitude to hard work and their attitude to the English style of football was not quite right." Which is a bit harsh on some of the players from last season - in a coaching setup for which he was responsible - since it was clear there was quite a bit of talent and commitment on offer from several of our foreign loanees, but the management team persisted with the same "locals/regulars-only" policy for a large part of the season to no noticeable advantage.

August 17: Lucas Radebe was due to go in for an operation on his injured ankle today, with physi Dave Hancock holding out some hope of a recovery for the player. Hancock said: "Basically they stitch the two ends of the tendon together, he will then be in plaster for the next six weeks and then it's six months recuperation from there. It does not necessarily mean the end of his career. The only thing people are looking at are that he is in the last year of his contract here, so it could be the end of his Leeds career. But whether he plays at this level, or any level again, only time will tell." After all he's been through it would be entirely understandable if he decides now is the time to hang up his boots - and who could blame him? And Hancock had plenty of praise for the South African: "He is the best professional footballer I have ever worked with." Phil Masinga - Radebe's South African team-mate who was brought to Leeds with Lucas by Wilko - said: "This happened at the latter stage of his career. I know he is a strong fighter; he can overcome this as he has other injuries before. I just hope he stays strong and that he must feel blessed as most other players never achieved what he did."

August 17: Villa fielded a couple of big names up front in tonight's reserve game, and it paid off for them with a 2-1 win. Nolberto Solano and Huan Pablo Angel both turned out for DOL's second string, and it was Angel who gave Villa the lead just before the halfway point of the first period. Clarke Carlisle levelled the scores on the strike of half-time but Leeds conceded a second goal with 15 minutes remaining to Mathieu Berson. Aaron Lennon, Simon Johnson and Martin Woods all got on for 20 minutes, with the three non-contract players replaced - no doubt with the aim of keeping them a bit rested ahead of Saturday's game just in case they are needed.

August 16: The Academy side went down 2-1 to Sunderland at the weekend in their last warm-up game before the season gets underway. Leeds held the Black Cats until half-time, with a couple of good chances going begging. But Sunderland took the lead five minutes after the break and doubled it on 73 minutes. Gavin Rothery pulled one back from the spot, but Sunderland held on for a deserved win. Academy boss Neil Thompson said: "It was certainly a tough game and I'm disappointed we did not play as well as we have done in previous games. But we certainly do not lack effort or a good work rate, it's just one or two things that were not quite there. We created a lot of chances for ourselves and we could have done better to prevent their two goals... It's probably a blessing in disguise that we experience our first defeat now, we can get it out of the system and I am sure they will come out stronger for it."

August 16: Clyde Wijnhard could be about to switch to Sunderland after his attempt to link back up with former club Oldham fell through. Oldham were only prepared to offer him a game-by-game deal, but the Portugese authorities insisted on a full contract before releasing his international clearance. Wijnhard was top scorer for SC Beira Mar last season, but parted company with the side in the close season. Sunderland are now favorites for his signature - although there were hints that he could move to Sweden if the right opportunity presented itself.

August 16: Lucas Radebe looks like he's finished his playing career for Leeds - but manager Kevin Blackwell insists that he can still offer plenty to the club for the remainder of his contract. Blackwell said: "He does not know the meaning of the word adversity, he always has a smile on his face and the man was still cheering the boys as they came into the changing rooms because he knows how important that point was for Leeds. I can't afford to lose someone with his enthusiasm, and I still want Lucas around the place no matter what. If he has to come in on crutches he will bejust as good on crutches for me." Looks like he'll have plenty of time to work on those coaching badges to take back to SA with him next year.

August 16: Leeds have received a full allocation of 5,000 tickets from Sheffield United for the lunchtime visit to Bramall Lane at the end of the month. Forest have sold out their allocation for this weekend's game at Elland Road - could be quite a good atmosphere, with all the usual strikers vs scabs antipathy mixed in with the inevitable anti-Clough sentiment.

August 15: Dave Jones reckoned that his makeshift team should have taken the points in yesterday's clash at Molineux. He said: "I felt we should have won but I can't ask any more of the lads - they are all digging deep, We needed a break, got it, but didn't take advantage. What was out there was all we've got - but we will get stronger." Jones had particular praise for young Leon Clarke who was a real handful for Gary Kelly for most of the game. Kevin Blackwell was happy to escape with a point. He said: "If you're coming to Molineux, the first priority is to secure a point and we did that." And he also mentioned how Sullivan's penalty save came about: "Credit has to go to our goalkeeping coach because he really did his homework. He'd been watching all the videos and had been working with Sully on penalties yesterday. When the ref awarded the penalty he just turned to us on the bench and said 'Sully knows which way Miller's going'." The biggest downside of the game was the injury to Lucas Radebe. Blackwell said: "Lucas was moving forward to play the ball and he felt what he thought was a kick and that's usually the tell-tale sign of the tendon snapping. That's why we fear the worst."

August 15: Leeds Ladies may have made some high-profile signings and have a stated aim of improving on last season's finish - but they'll have a hard job if they repeat today's performance. They were turned over 0-8 (yes, nil-EIGHT) by Everton at home on the opening day of the season and were totally outclassed by the visitors. Time to put this one behind them and look forward to the next game as the REAL start of the season...

August 14: Thirty-odd degrees warmer than our previous visit to Molineux, and a much better result - but a scrappy game and (wait for it....) a dreadful ref. When Brian Deane and Michael Ricketts working in tandem up front, it was clear we weren't aiming to get in behind their defence with our pace. Ricketts' failure to jump more than six inches off the ground when the ball came his way gave us even less to cheer. And when Lucas Radebe went down and had to be stretchered off, things looked even more grim. But by the end of the first half, we were matching Wolves in most departments and might have had half a chance of grabbing a goal. But the second half saw more one-eyed refereeing decisions go against us, the midfield in particular got tired and gave Wolves too much space, and up front Ricketts finally stopped doing whatever it was he'd been doing and was replaced by Joachim. It wasn't much of a surprise to see Kenny Miller burst through the defence with 5 minutes to go - but from our angle it looked like Doobs had timed his sliding tackle well, knocking the ball back to Neil Sullivan. The ref was miles behind play and - of course - awarded a penalty. Doobs received his marching orders - not sure if it was a straight red, since he'd already been booked - and Miller stepped up to take the penalty. But he'd not counted on the preparation work that Neil Sullivan had been doing: a well-struck penalty was well-saved, and the earlier chants of "Chelsea's number 5" from the Wolves fans were drowned out by chants of "Scotland's number 1" from the Leeds end. A point at Wolves can't be regarded as a bad result - but we're still not getting the sort of momentum we'll need if we want to challenge for promotion.

August 14: No goals for current Leeds players today, but plenty of action for the old boys. Nick Barmby opened the scoring for Hull at Port Vale - but ended up on the losing side as Vale struck in injury time to win 3-2. Darren Huckerby was the star player for Norwich, scoring their goal and coming close on a couple of other occasions in a 1-1 draw with fellow promotees Palace. Robbie Fowler kept up his good scoring record against Fulham, but City were pegged back to 1-1. Warren Feeney struck Stockport's second as they routed Blackpool 0-4. Jody Morris scored Millwall's first as they turned over Leicester 2-0, Steve Caldwell grabbed a late equaliser for Sunderland in a 2-2 draw at home to QPR, Stephen McPhail got one of Barnsley's three against Luton - unfortunately the visitors to Oakwell scored four. Tony Hackworth opened the scoring for Scarborough against Woking in their 2-0 conference win. And finally in this evening's televised game, JFH controversially scored a late equaliser with his "head" (or other body part that begins with "h", ends with "d" and is four letters long) as Boro came back to draw 2-2 with Newcastle at the Riverside.

August 14: When we saw Lucas Radebe carried off the field today, it must have crossed a few minds that it might be the last we saw of him in a Leeds shirt for a long time. Well it could be the last time we ever see the great man pull on a white shirt for a competitive game. The initial diagnosis is ruptured ankle ligaments, and a layoff until some time in 2005. If we're lucky we might see him in a testimonial game, but realistically it looks like time and general wear and tear have finally caught up with him.

August 14: No surprises that there are no Leeds players in the England squad for the game against Ukraine this week. And fewer surprises too that Alan Smith is suddenly good enough for England now that he's wearing a red shirt. Paul Robinson is also selected, but David James remains the man in possession, and Chris Kirkland is once again fit and ready to compete for the England number 1 shirt.

August 13: Wolves are facing a bit of an injury crisis this weekend with experienced players Mark Kennedy and Joachim Bjorklund both missing the game tomorrow after picking up injuries in their midweek clash with Preston. Dave Jones has been forced to pull a couple of youngsters from a youth team tournament abroad in order to make up the numbers. Meanwhile, Leeds captain Paul Butler will be back on his old stamping ground. "It will seem a little strange to be going back there so soon," he said. "It was obviously a fixture I looked out for when they came out and I know it will be a tough game for us because I think Wolves, like ourselves, have the potential to go back up." He's hoping for a decent reception on his return to Molineux, and pointed out that he left because the club felt unable to commit to anything longer than a one-year contract. "It wasn't about the money why I left. They couldn't offer me anything more than a one year deal and that opened the door for Leeds to come in, and there is no turning your back on a club like Leeds. Fans had been coming up to me and telling me that I was playing 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." Let's hope he can put one over on his old team-mates tomorrow. Jermaine Wright said that the team need to bounce back after losing at Gillingham: "We need to start brightly because we keep shooting ourselves in the foot. If we do start well their fans might start booing them tomorrow, particularly if we keep things tight or it's 0-0 at half-time. The first 20 minutes will be important and we have to use it to our advantage with the fans and try to unsettle them." Wright could be joined in midfield by Matt Spring for the first time this season, and Stephen Crainey will be pressing for a first appearance at left back after finally getting properly acquainted with his new team-mates.

August 13: Leeds have had their initial offer for Sean Gregan turned down by West Brom - and it looks unlikely that they'll come back with any extra cash because it's just not there, and because they've already offered what Kev thinks the player is worth. COO Shaun Harvey said: "The Board wanted to support the manager by providing the finances to fund the acquisition of Sean Gregan. However, Leeds United is not prepared to pay more for a player than we believe is his value, both in the market place and to Leeds United. Kevin's search for players will continue. It is imperative that the players brought in are the right ones, not the short term solutions which the temporary transfer market provides for."

August 13: Scott Carson and Matthew Kilgallon have been named in the England U-21 squad for the game against Ukraine on Tuesday. Joining them is James Milner who now plays for some other club in a dingy outpost somewhere near the Arctic Circle and Jermaine Pennant who is back trying his luck at breaking into the team at Highbury.

August 13: Before the game at Molineux tomorrow, there will be people outside the ground with buckets collecting in memory of Stephen Smith, the Wolves and England fan who was stabbed to death during the Euro 2004 tournament in Portugal. The money collected will go to New Cross hospital to fund a new incubator. I'm sure many of us were dragged back to memories of Istanbul by the news of the stabbing in Portugal, and will be more than happy to stick a few quid in the bucket in a good cause.

August 12: Leeds have organised some European football this season despite failing to qualify for any of the cups. Instead, Kevin Blackwell will make use of the international weekend at the start of September to take a team out to Greece to place FC Irakis Thessaloniki for the formal opening of their new ground on September 5. The team will be out there for three days, and Kevin Blackwell will use it as a further opportunity to get his new players working together as a team. He said: "It would be a waste of a weekend for us at a time when we're looking to develop a team. This gives us an opportunity to get away, play a non-competitive game, and spend some time together away from the training ground. We'll do some work out there, but it's just as important as a bonding exercise."

August 12: Leeds have got yet another triallist on the books. This time it's Camerounian left-winger Serge Branco who was in the Olympic gold medal side four years ago - so he's got a bit of a pedigree - but it will be interesting to see if he can make a bigger impression on the coaching staff than last year's back of African loanees.

August 11: On-loan forward Andy Keogh was on the mark last night, scoring late on for Scunthorpe as they won 0-2 at Cheltenham. Jamie Forrester struck from the spot as Brsitol Rovers twice came from behind to draw 2-2 at home to Bury, and David Wetherall found himself pressed into service as a makeshift striker for Bradford when they were 1-2 down at home to Peterborough: the ploy worked, Wetherall diverting a header in to equalise with 5 minutes left on the clock.

August 11: Clyde Wijnhard could be about to return to the English scene after a spell in Portugal. The striker - brought in by George Graham - didn't have much success at Leeds but did do well in spells at Huddersfield and Oldham, and after terminating his contract with SC Beira Mar is now back in England and has trained with the Latics. Oldham boss Brian Talbot has signed him on a non-contract basis and will be hoping to make it a permanent move if he can sort our international clearance. He said: Talbot added: "He enjoyed his last spell at Oldham and he contacted me and we have signed him on a non-contract basis and let's see what he does. We have not got international clearance yet, we have registered him with the FA but until you get international clearance you can't play for anybody."

August 11: Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell is far from happy with his team's performance against Gillingham last night - although he got a bit of sympathy from Gills boss Andy "Oh dear I appear to have collapsed in a heap for no obvious reason" Hessenthaler. Hessenthaler said: "They've brought some very good Championship players to the club. They're good players for this division. This is a bit of a knock-back but I'm still sure they'll be okay." But Blackwell said: :"It did not disappoint me, it angered me because we have shown ourselves more than capable of defending better than that, I think I have a very good back four, and as a unit we are all disappointed with ourselves." He added: "Gillingham will say they put the effort in and they earned their luck, and they did, no disrespect to them because I am just looking at my club and I want better than that and they want better than that." And looking forward to Saturday's trip to Wolves, he said: "We won't need any getting up for that game - these boys have been looking forward to that one for a long while and we will be ready for it." Maybe we could sell them Michael Duberry ahead of the match like we tried to do in the summer - might just give us the edge we need.

August 11: Kevin Blackwell has asked Leeds fans to be patient with him and the team while they try to reorganise and rebuild a brand new squad this season. After last night's 2-1 defeat at Gillingham, he said: "I'm as impatient for success as anybody else, but I have to be clinically realistic because that's only our second full game together as a team and that takes some doing. I've already stated I need more players and they will be the right players because it is about a season, not a weekend or a couple of games. It's nine months and I'm determined to have good value for a season, not for just a month and repent for the other eight." He went on: "I want good players and if I have to wait and be patient then I will do because I am building a club not just for the next couple of weeks, but the next two to three years." Which probably means that we're not getting Sean Gregan just yet...

August 10: Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell says that the players cannot afford to cruise through tonight's game at Gillingham on the back of a good opening day performance at Derby. He said: "The Derby game has gone now. If we sit on our laurels, we will get a kick up the backside at Gillingham." We've never played Gillingham in the league before - and never been beaten by them in the cup competitions either: let's hope we don't start now!

August 10: Kevin Blackwell has challenged the two non-contract members of the squad to rise to the occasion and put in performances on the training ground and on the pitch to justify a permanent deal at Elland Road. Steve Guppy and Craig Hignett are on match-to-match deals, while Chris Bart-Williams continues to train with the squad in a bid to gain full fitness and do the same. Blackwell said: "The present arrangement is not ideal for Steve and Craig. When I think they are good enough I will sign them. They are desperate to stay at the club because they have no stability at the moment." Of course, the terminal lack of cash at the club does rather mean they're in competition with each other - which just makes it a bit more interesting I guess!

August 10: Leeds transfer target Sean Gregan has slapped in a transfer request at West Brom - and it looks likely to be granted. But - and this is one HUGE but - the Baggies will want to recoup the money they paid for him two years ago. Chairman Jeremy Peacock said: "The board has reluctantly accepted his written transfer request. Sean has figured in 81 of our last 86 competitive games and his contribution as captain to our promotion success last season, particularly during the final weeks, was vital. Having paid £1.75 million to sign Sean only two years ago, we will only let him go if we receive an acceptable offer." And if they want anything like that sort of cash, we haven't got a hope. Sam Hamman's pockets might stretch to it at Cardiff though...

August 10: New signing Stephen Crainey says that he's hoping the switch to Leeds will get his stalled career back underway. After a switch from Celtic to Saints at the turn of the year, the management turmoil on the South Coast pushed him to the fringes. Crainey said: "Paul Sturrock made it clear I wasn't going to be in his plans, so as soon as I heard about Leeds' interest I decided to come here and grab the chance with both hands. This is an opportunity to get my career back on track and I need to show the manager what I can do. I am desperate to get a few games under my belt." Crainey suffered with a couple of injuries at the back end of last season, but he's hoping for a good run in the side once he's actually managed to train with the rest of the team once or twice, and has higher ambitions still: "Once I start playing regularly here, hopefully I'll get back in the Scotland squad. But establishing myself at Leeds is the priority."

August 10: After all the euphoria of the weekend's win against Derby, Leeds crashed back to earth with less than five minutes of tonight's game gone. A shot from 20 yards out from Darren Byfield took a huge deflection and left Neil Sullivan flat-footed as the ball hit the back of the Leeds net. Gillingham grew in confidence and had the best of the chances throughout the game. Byfield hit the bar, and on the stroke of half-time Norwich reject Iwan Roberts tapped the ball in from Patrick Agyemang's cross to double the lead. Danny Pugh scored his first goal for Leeds with 10 minutes to go to instil a bit of hope in the travelling fans, but it was all to no avail as the Gills held on for their first ever win over Leeds. Now it's off to Wolves on Saturday and hoping to erase the memories of last Christmas's painful performance at Molineux.

August 09: The normal rules of maths never apply to football and Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell once again showed this to be the case as he spoke about Saturday's game. He said: "We got 110 per cent out of every fan on Saturday and my job is to make sure that the players give 110 per cent to match their dreams and aspirations." Altogether now: "That's impossible...nobody can give more than 100%...." Looking at the way his team performed in intense heat and under massive scrutiny, he was clearly happy that the lack of commitment and concentration we've seen all too often in the last couple of years was not there. He said: "The first thing that fans of this football club want to know is 'Do you want to play for Leeds United?' Yes, you do? Well, if you give me everything, we will forgive you if you lack a little bit of ability." Hence the hero's welcome for Brian Deane I guess. Frazer Richardson is a long-time Leeds fan - but given recent history in the boardroom and on the pitch that's not necessarily something to shout about. He said: "It was a dream come true. I have been waiting since I was 16 to get to this point and now I am going to grab it with both hands. My dad was up there in the crowd too, it was a great feeling... If we put in performance like this I am sure we will do well this season."

August 09: New keeper Neil Sullivan says that he's hoping his return to first team action at Elland Road will prompt a return to international football. With 28 Scottish caps to his name, he's no novice - but has been overlooked by Berti Vogts since last February. On the official website, he said: "I've never said that I didn't want to play for Scotland. I understand the reasons why I haven't been picked, because of course I haven't been playing regularly. Hopefully if I play week in or week out and get to a good level consistently and the Scotland manager looks at me again then great, but first things first, I have to do it for Leeds." George Burley said that Sullivan's last-minute save to deny Derby a point was "world class": a few more of those and the new number one might have the chance to prove it on a world stage.

August 09: Stephen Crainey today became the first non-free/non-loan signing at Elland Road in two years. After signing a loan deal on Friday because the paperwork would not have been completed for a real purchase if he was to be available against Derby, Crainey has now signed from Saints for £200,000. Kevin Blackwell said: "There's only so long you can carry on [with free transfers] because with the support we have and the expectations of this club, you have to look at adding a bit more quality and unfortunately that costs. So I asked the question of the board and they came up with the answer. They have dug deep and any manager who has money to spend is a very happy manager"

August 08: Andy Gray wasted no time in opening his account for the Blades this season, striking on 52 minutes at Turf Moor to make it 1-1 against Burnley and that's how it finished. Warren Feeney put his new club Stockport 2-1 up at home to Huddersfield, but the Terriers equalised with 3 minutes to go and snatched a winner in the final seconds of injury time. Lee Matthews scored a late consolation goal for his new club - Port Vale - as they lost 3-2 at Walsall. Finally, some bloke called Smith smashed/sliced in a cracker/fluke from outside the area in today's FA Community Shield match - but ManU still lost 3-1 to a Reyes-inspired Arsenal.

August 08: Kev was understandably happy to bag three points from the opening day of the season - but he knows there's a long way still to go. He said: "Everyone wants to get off to a good start and we're no different. I'm just delighted for the players who have really come together for this game. We've only had four weeks working together and I just thought they showed a real commitment." Blackwell is happy that he has managed to bring in some of the talented young players who spent much of a rather depressing season watching from the sidelines last time ound. He said: "When we went down last season there was no doubt there was doom and gloom around the place but quietly I knew there was some decent young players here. It is now my job that they do a good job for Leeds United and improve in their career - which will hopefully be at Elland Road."

August 07: Youngster Andy Keogh has been shipped out to Scunthorpe on loan, as Brian Laws looks for a bit of variety and cover in a stretched side. The 18-year-old striker gets squad number 27 and will be available for selection for today's game against Rochdale.

August 07: Excellent start to the league campaign this afternoon with a 1-0 win over Derby A good solid team performance, characterised by a couple of excellent individual efforts. Frazer Richardson's contribution was far more than just scoring a goal - be was very effective up and down the right wing, ran at defenders and put Derby under pressure when they came forward. Danny Pugh had a good game on the left side of midfield, and before the temperature started to take its toll, Simon Walton put in a tough-tackling performance that some players with 10 years more experience would have been hard-pressed to duplicate and Jermaine Wright played some telling passes. Pretty solid at the back with Paul Butler's leadership evident throughout the game - and a great save at the end from Neil Sullivan and the post when it mattered. We could/should have scored more, and Derby were a bit lucky to see a shot from a corner ruled out by the linesman, but if we keep on picking up three points like this every week, we'll soon be cruising!

August 07: As well as Stephen Crainey's signing on a one-month loan from Southampton, Leeds have also got the signatures of Steve Guppy and Craig Hignett - although both of these two are on non-contract terms for the moment.

August 06: The fans forum at Elland Road wasn't particularly well-attended last night by all accounts, but here's a few things that came out of it. The current level of debt is now £40 million (about £10 million more than we expected given previous statements) and quite a bit of it is interest free. The 20-year season tickets were regarded as "unsuccessful" - and as a result James Milner had to be sold (so it's all our fault again). They'll consider a shorter-term bond scheme with a view to raising some more cash in the near future, The board are in "serious" discussions with an investor that could realise a substantial cash injection for the club in exchange for an equity stake. Finally they said that they expected a top-half finish, but a play-off place or even promotion would be regarded as a massive bonus.

August 06: With just one day to go before the start of the new season, we've got a new body on the books. Stephen Crainey is a 23-year-old Scottish international defender - most comfortable on the left side of defence but who can fillin anywhere. He signed for Southampton from Celtic at the turn of the year. More later...

August 06: Less than 24 hours to go before the start of the season and all of the players are anxious to tell the world just how "up for it" they are this season. Jermaine Wright wants to get into the first game as soon as possible - just so he can find out how well he and his team-mates can really play. He said: "You feel 100 per cent but you don't really know how you'll fare until the first Saturday comes - it's nothing like the pre-season games where you might only be working at 80 or 90 per cent of your capability." And he's hoping to be reflecting on a win by Saturday tea-time. He said: "You just want to get [the first game] over and done with and the first three points of the season in the bag." Meanwhile, skipper Paul Butler is keen to put all of the effort the team have expended in the last month to real use. He said: "Pre-season has been very hard, since we started on the 1st of July it's been a bit like Hell's Kitchen really... It's probably the fittest I've felt for eight or nine years and I think many of the others feel the same way." And he's under no illusions as to what his team-mates have to do. He adds: "First though we have to get over the shock - and it is a shock - of this club being in the Championship as soon as we can. It was a shock to Man City when they went down, and they went down again before they started to come back up so we have to get over this as soon as possible and that starts against Derby County on Saturday and nothing but three points will do." Let's hope he's right! Finally, boss Kevin Blackwell says he wants to win every game and give something back to the fans who supported the club through thin and thin over the last couple of years. He said: "We might not have the ability we used to have, but there's no reason why we can't have the fighting spirit, and I think the fans who came to Valencia and Hibernian have witnessed that and I think it's given a lot of people a lot of heart."

August 05: Former Leeds youngster Chris Armstrong has signed up on a one-year contract with Queen of the South after the Scottish Division 1 side bought out his contract with Rochdale. Noel Whelan has signed a one-year deal with Aberdeen after a successful trial with the Dons, and goes straight into the team for this weekend's game against Rangers. Speaking on their official website, Whelan said: "I'm aware there were other clubs interested but I feel this is exactly the kind of fresh challenge I need. Aberdeen is an ambitious club and the new management team gave up the chance to be in Europe this season to come here. They have big plans for the Dons and I'm absolutely delighted that I have the opportunity to be part of them."

August 05: So what does being out of the Premier League mean to us when it comes to TV coverage? Well probably an improvement in the short term - with Leeds now a big club in a lower division, so very attractive for Sky's second-tier coverage even if it doesn't mean quite so much cash for the club. ITV Sport will be showing a 45-minute round-up of the Coca-Cola Championship every week on Sunday mornings, with regional companies featuring brief highlights in the Saturday tea-time news bulletins, plus a regional round-up across all of the lower divisions broadcast on a Thursday night. Meanwhile on the other side of the world, I'm told that you should be able to see some of the live games this season thanks to Setanta Sport. Saturday's game against Derby will be broadcast on a 2-hour tape delay to accommodate the live SPL game between Aberdeen and Rangers - check out their website for details of where you can go to see it and join the party!

August 05: Leeds are once again being linked with West Brom's Sean Gregan. It now looks like Gregan will be on the edge of Gary Megson's strengthened squad and the Baggies could be persuaded to release him, but we've got competition from those lovely people at Cardiff and might have to wait for a week or so before any definite move is made. The club may also offer non-contract terms to one or more of the triallists - with Steve Guppy and CBW both possibles - in order to ensure a full squad for Kev to pick from for Saturday's opener against Derby. Matt Spring is carrying a groin strain and is a serious doubt for the game - and Leeds were short enough of midfield cover anyway, so a short-term contract might be needed to get 16 first-team players in the dressing room on Saturday morning.

August 05: Today's YEP reports still more chaos and confusion on the off-field front for the club. Security staff at Thorp Arch are being outsourced - and at the moment you can more or less walk in unchallenged and join a training session (why not give it a go - you've got a good chance of making the squad given the current size and fitness status of the players!). Meanwhile other layoffs internally have resulted in further screwups, with several important corporate guests complaining that they've not received either their season tickets or car park passes with just one day to go before the start of the season. Good way of impressing the local business community and encouraging them to invest in the club guys - really professional (but not exactly surprising).

August 04: Kevin Blackwell says that the sudden promotion of Simon Walton to the first team squad isn't causing him any concern, because he knows that Walton will be able to cope with the challenges of Championship football. Blackwell said: "We're well aware that he has only played two or three games and the most important thing from my point of view is to develop him. He will need protecting but, at the same time, he more than acquitted himself well against Valencia and Hibernian. The kid's got talent and he's one for the future." With Seth Johnson and Eirik Bakke out for some time, and with James Milner sold to Newcastle, there's a great opportunity for Walton to stake a claim to a role in the centre of the park. He's not even got a squad number at the moment, but with barely 17 fit players right now he stands a great chance of making the cut for Saturday's match.

August 04: Ten years after it started, it's still going strong. Yep, the Leeds United Predictions League is back for yet another season. If you've taken part before, your email address should still be registered, so get your guesses in for the Derby game now. If you're new to it - it's simple enough to register - but make sure you don't leave it until the last moment otherwise your prediction might not get here in time.

August 04: The reserves were in action in York last night - but as on previous occasions it was more of a youth team than a Championship second string with only Simon Johnson with any first-team appearances to his credit. Leeds went a goal down to former Walsall striker Andy Bishop but came back to equalise through Henry McStay with just over 10 minutes to go.

August 04:'s almost like the old days. Semi-talented player becomes available, Leeds get linked with him. It's less than a year since we were being suggested as the destination for Rangers new boy Dado Prso - on his way to a pretty decent year with Monaco and then with Croatia in Euro 2004 - and although it's a definite lowering of the expectations, it's nice to see us linked with a Premiership player. This time it's Brum's Senegalese midfielder Aliou Cisse: Leeds are said to have made an approach to bring him to Elland Road on a permanent deal - for real money! But the player's agent has indicated that his client would prefer to stay in the top flight, favouring a one-year loan at Palace (who - even with Iain Dowie's undoubted management skills - will only be up there for a year).

August 04: Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell insists his charges will be sharp and ready to hit the ground running on Saturday after intensive training during the summer. The squad's fitness has been a big issue over the last couple of years under Venables, Reid and Gray - but Blackwell hopes to have that cracked this year. He said: "Fitness levels are crucial. You need to be fit to express your ability. Players cannot produce their skills if they are tired. What we have been doing is high-tempo training with maybe as many as 10 separate 400m runs over the course of a two-hour session. I think the work we have put in on the training pitch in terms of building up our fitness to the best possible level has already paid dividends." Blackwell pointed to the 10-man comeback against Valencia and overturning a deficit at Hibs as evidence of the effectiveness of the approach - but we'll need to see a real competitive game or three before we can make a real call on that. New signing Clarke Carlisle was pretty positive about the regime. He said: "It's good to get a competitive edge and get your fitness levels up. We don't want to get caught out early doors in the season because that can set a precedent. I hope we can get into the winning habit early and stay up there."

August 04: Leeds will be allowing the SkySports cameras into Thorp Arch on Friday morning. 24 hours before the crucial first game of the season, Sky will be broadcasting some live footage from the training sessions and will also be interviewing Kevin Blackwell and a couple of first-teamers on SkySports News on Friday.

August 04: Former Leeds star and current Huddersfield coach Terry Yorath appeared in court today on a drink-driving charge. He was three times over the limit when he knocked down and seriously injured a young woman in June. Yorath pleaded guilty and the case was adjourned for sentencing - with the judge indicating that Yorath could face a jail sentence when the case returns to the court on August 24.

August 03: A bit of team news ahead of this weekend's visit of Derby - but not much on the Leeds side! Bosnian defender Mo Konjic has a knee problem that has been nagging away for some time and has barely figured in any of the pre-season friendlies so far. Lee Grant has missed out on goalkeeping duties in a couple of games due to a groin problem, but is expected to be fit, and both Adam Bolder and Richard Jackson are struggling to make it for the big kick-off. Not household names are they - guess we're going to have to get used to it.

August 03: New keeper Neil Sullivan says that he knows that Kevin Blackwell will be expecting him to work with young Scott Carson and get him ready to take up gloves for the first team. Sullivan has a wealth of experience and looks certain to start the season between the sticks for Leeds after signing from Chelsea. He said: "I heard about Scotty and everyone here says what great potential he has. Now if I can help him out in any way and help him to develop that will be great for Leeds. To be honest I think that's part of why the manager brought me here, to pass on a few tips if I can and help him improve. I will be glad of that until he takes my place and then it will be a different matter!" And the manager is more than happy with his pair of custodians. He said: "I happen to believe now that I have the two best keepers in the division, and if I build from the back and get the best defenders, the best midfielders and the best strikers over time, then we will have a bloody good team!"

August 02: Former Leeds left-back Mike Whitlow is the new club captain at Notts County. Whitlow joined the Magpies on a free from Sheffield United in the summer, and was picked by boss Gary Mills for his experience and determination. Whitlow is hopeful for the season ahead - speaking in the local paper, he said: "We have got character as well as ability. You can see already that we are there for each other. It is already starting to feel like a team. I think by the time the season starts we'll have a very strong side."

August 02: The reserve side handed out a right hammering to non-league Billingham Synthonia on Saturday. With the first team in action against Hibs, Steve Agnew's squad but six unanswered goals past Billingham with a brace for Simon Johnson and one each for Jamie Winter, Martin Woods, Stuart Edwards and Derek Tyrell. They now face York at Bootham Crescent tomorrow night.

August 02: New Leeds keeper Neil Sullivan is over the moon about his move to Elland Road, saying: "It is a great move for me because it gives me an opportunity to start playing again. That was my number one aim and hopefully things will work out well for me at Leeds." Sullivan had been well and truly sidelined at Chelsea, finding himself behind Cudicini and Ambrosio - as well as new keeper Petr Cech - after his transfer from Spurs last season, with just a handful of cup games and four league games under his belt through the whole term: he should be on for a few more this time round!

August 02: Simon Walton will just miss the first reserve game of the season after picking up a red card in the friendly against Valencia. The FA have confirmed that his ban will not apply to first team games, so the talented youngster could be in line for a squad place against Derby.

August 01: There's an interview in today's Independent in which Kevin Blackwell has a few interesting things to say about times past, present and future. It's Yorkshire Day, and in celebration of blunt speaking, he says that Peter Reid was treated "appallingly" and adds that the way his own promotion to manager was handled was "a PR disaster". In all of his press statements, he's come across as a solid, down-to-earth bloke and in a not too subtle message to our former chairman, he ends: "We're a lesson for everyone else in football. If you go chasing the dream, and you don't attain it, there's an awful nightmare to follow."

August 01: New season tickets finally turned up in the post this weekend - and it's goodbye to the ticket books of old. Now we get a proximity card to wave at a turnstile - and all match-day tickets will be barcoded too so it looks like we'll also be waving goodbye to that happy and cheerful band of people who manned the turnstiles if everything is now electronic. The club say it should cut forgeries and are also using it as a "loyalty" scheme with points awarded for buying tickets and possibly other services at the ground and ultimately with affiliated retailers. What's the betting the system crashes horrible at five past noon next Saturday when nigh on 20,000 season ticket holders try to get in to the ground at the last moment?

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