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September 30: So what happened to the reserves last night then? Well it seems that Scott Carson had a busy old night - and did well to restrict the visitors to three goals. Leeds were 0-2 down inside 25 minutes, and although Aaron Lennon pulled a goal back just after the break, Wolves restored their two-goal advantage from the spot after Simon Walton was deemed to have brought down a Wolves player: Scott Carson saved the initial kick but was unable to prevent the rebound from going in. To make matters worse, Michael Ricketts picked up a yellow card - and once again failed to find the net.
September 30: Andy Keogh's loan spell at Scunthorpe has been extended for a third month, and he will now remain at the club until at least early November. After an initially impressive start, he's failed to keep up his goalscoring form but has continued to do enough to impress Brian Laws sufficiently to keep him on.
September 30: Chris Bart-Williams has now pitched up in Cyprus after Kevin Blackwell managed to sign up Sean Gregan and decided that he didn't need another not fully fit midfielder. Bart-Williams has now signed a two-year contract for champions Apoel Nicosia.
September 30: Danny Cadamarteri's brief stay at Elland Road has come to an end with Sheffield United agreeing to take the striker off our hands for a nominal fee. Cadamarteri arrived during the summer after his contract at Bradford ended, but pre-season iunjuries and a rumoured falling-out with Kevin Blackwell left him on the fringes of the side, and his only first-team appearances was as a sub against Swindon in the League Cup.
September 29: A few random post-Stoke bits, in no particular order. First up, neither of the Spider-men nor the Hulk made an appearance on the Kop - must be still helping police with their enquiries following Friday night's big fight. We did have an inflatable hammer - very Pink Floyd - and a beach ball though. Random chant of the game: "That's why Duberry's on the bench" when Clarke Carlisle did a neat step-over on the edge of their box and left their defender looking stupid. Ref: a total joke but fortunately he made poor decisions both ways and could easily have sent off Deano either with a straight red for the one he got a yellow for, or for any one of several rash challenges in the second half. Crowd: lowest home league gate since the start of our first season back in the top flight when only 25684 saw Lee Chapman score twice and Imre Varadi chip in with another in a 3-0 win over Norwich. It's a bit worrying - and will be interesting to see how the board react if the level of support continues to hover at a figure well below their worst-case plans.
September 29: Robbie Fowler's lack of form at Manchester City is costing Leeds big money. He's one game shy of the trigger point that will release a further half million quid of the player's transfer fee, but he's out of favour with Kevin Keegan (although City's own financial problems might lead one to speculate that the manager has been told to leave him out of the side in order to keep the cash in their own account).
September 29: Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell was pretty happy with what he saw last night, despite the fact that his side once again failed to trouble the scorers. He said: "I didn't know how lads would respond after Friday. But that was one hell of a response and that is our best performance by a mile. We made Stoke look like a pub team at times. People came up to me afterwards and said it's the best they've seen for 12 months. That's a massive accolade for the players." He admits a concern about the failure of his strikers to find the net, but asked for patience from the fans - and some assistance from Lady Luck. However, there was one thing he saw last night that didn't make him smile: the ref! Blackwell said: "If I say what I want to say I'll lose my wage packet. I don't know what he was doing. It's hard to think we're at Elland Road because we don't seem to get any luck, no decisions go our way and it's unbelievable. Deano nearly had his eye taken out and there was one cynical challenge on Brett Ormerod where he could have broken his leg."
September 29: Clarke Carlisle and Paul Butler were both pretty pleased with the team's performance against Stoke - although both bemoaned the fact that they hadn't had a bit of luck to complement there efforts. Carlisle said: "That was the biggest 0-0 drubbing you'll see for a long time! We absolutely battered them. I don't know what the possession stats were but they must have been frightening." The big centreback was happy that the defence had kept Stoke at bay. He said: "In a game like that it's important to keep your concentration at the back. It's harder to defend when you've had less to do than when you've been involved the whole game. But we kept a clean sheet, we earned a point and that's what we've got to do at times like this." Skipper Paul Butler said: "We're disappointed, everything the gaffer asked for last night we have given him but we just had no luck. They threw bodies in the way of everything. You don't get many 0-0's like that. But, it's a point, another clean sheet that's how we've got to look at it." And he pointed to the improvement since the Sunderland game: "On Friday we didn't get the ball down and play but at least last night we played some great football for the fans. They know how hard we worked but we just lacked that bit of luck. People say that it even's itself out over the season and we just hope that it does."
September 29: A fairly strong reserve side - with only 4 players without first-team experience at Leeds - went down 3-1 against Wolves tonight. More info later.
September 28: Leeds Ladies had a great result at the weekend - knocking eight goals past Liverpool in the league. Karen Walker scored four times, with Mel Cook, Sue Smith, Lucy Ward and Jade Malpas adding the others as Leeds ran out 8-3 winners at Garforth.
September 28: After coming out yesterday saying he was pleased to be playing Stoke so soon after the Sunderland defeat, Kevin Blackwell is now saying that the large number of fixtures in such a short space of time is hitting his preparations. He said: "You are asking players to play more, which is bound to take its toll, but it's a conundrum better men than me are trying to sort out. I would like to do a lot more work with the players on the training ground but at the moment there just isn't time." Win some, lose some Kev...
September 28: After Friday night's disastrous display against Sunderland, tonight's performance against Stoke was a bit of a tonic. Sure, they came looking for a point, and okay, we didn't score any goals. But we had a huge amount of possession, battled well for the entire game and Neil Sullivan was barely called into action for the full 90 minutes. Much improved display from Jermaine Wright, and Stoke needed some help from the ref and a couple of goal-line scrambles to stay all-square - so let me put my negative head to one side for the moment and say that this was not a bad night's work.
September 27: A whole bunch of quotes from different players in the press today, indicating the team's collective intent to bounce back from Friday night's poor performance against Sunderland. Jermaine Wright said that the players had to take responsibility for their performances and buckle down to get the points: "The wheels are in motion now and there can be no excuses. Maybe we could play on the gelling excuse before, but we can't do that any longer. We could talk about it until Christmas but we have to stand up and be counted now. We have proved we can more than match teams in the Championship on our day so we have to keep that belief in ourselves." Meanwhile, Stephen Crainey said: "We just wanted to get that defeat out of our system and it's the same now, though we won't have to wait so long to put things right this time. It's a massive game against Stoke because we want to bounce straight back and start another good run going." And captain Paul Butler had some stern words for his team: "We've got to bounce back tomorrow night now. The beauty of this division is that we're straight back into it again with another game to put things right... We weren't good enough in all areas against Sunderland and we know we can do better. We've now lost two big ones - Sunderland and Sheffield United - in games that we've not performed and that's not good enough." Sounds like there's a lot riding on this game - and even though it's against a team that has made an excellent start to their campaign, a home defeat to Stoke would be a devastating blow to the club.
September 27: Jamie McMaster's loan to Swindon has been confirmed; he join's Andy King's side on an initial one-month deal.
September 27: Leeds have a fully fit squad (long-termers apart) for tomorrow night's game. Brett Ormerod will be okay despite suffering a cut head in the Sunderland game, and he is raring to get out there again. He said: "That was my first game since I played in the first match of the season so I was breathing a bit heavily at the end but I don't want to make that an excuse. I do feel I am short on fitness and I don't feel as sharp as I can be, but that will come with games. I wanted to come here and do well, but after that debut things can only improve." Stoke could be without the experience of Gerry Taggart, after his ankle injury has failed to respond to treatment.
September 27: Despite the abysmal performance on the pitch - never mind the result - against Sunderland, Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell remains upbeat. He didn't feel that Sunderland had that much of an edge on Leeds, saying: "I couldn't see them scoring another goal. I can't remember Sully having to make a save. We were defensively sound but we need to be more creative in the final third." But he knows that the team need to get back out there and lay on a better performance to convince themselves and the fans that the season won't be a complete washout. Blackwell said: "I'm pleased that after such a bad performance that we can get straight back into a game. But I am aware that we seem to have a problem up front and we need to work on that." Well, it's true they didn't have many chance AFTER they scored - but that sort of ignores the fact that they could have been three up by the time the midfield went to sleep to allow them to grab the matchwinner. But I'm sure that's what Kev has told his players out of the public eye, no matter what he says in public.
September 26: Jamie McMaster's wish for a starting place looks set to come true - but not at Leeds. Swindon boss Andy King had agreed to take McMaster on a one-month loan, but the move was put in doubt when Robins striker Sam Parkin picked up a red card - and a three match ban - against Bradford at the weekend. King said: "On Friday night I had agreed the deal but after losing my main goalscorer I will have to think it through over the weekend. [McMaster] was a different type of player - but I don't want to go back on my word."
September 26: Kevin Blackwell sought to explain his team's fluctuating performances this season by pointing to the almost constant changes at the club. He said: "Every week something new is happening at the football club and sometimes we are on an up and sometimes we are on a down. It is trying to get those undulations flattened out and to get some consistency. Time will help us, there is no doubt about that." Hmmm.... and the biggest changes have been in personnel, with Craig Hignett, Steve Guppy and Serge Branco arriving and departing (and what happened to CBW?), Brett Ormerod arriving on loan, Simon Johnson - and it seems now Jamie McMaster - being shipped out on loan... and who controls that Kev? If we need stability on the playing staff, there's one person who can have the greatest effect in that department and his initials are KB!
September 25: Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell refused to point the finger of blame at Brett Ormerod for last night's defeat. After being pulled up by the ref for a foul that ruled out Brian Deane's headed goal, Ormerod made a hash of his penalty attempt, allowing Mart Poom a relatively easy save. Blackwell said: "Brett is a penalty taker at his own club anyway, although he was not the nominated penalty-taker here, that's for sure. But I will not knock him. He took the ball with a lot of confidence and it's not as if he was some lad who just grabbed it and had never taken a penalty in his life before. But unfortunately it's not been his night. He had five stitches to his head, so it's been some welcome for him to Leeds United." Blackwell was confused as to why Deano's goal was ruled out: "I've not spoken to [the ref] yet but I will be doing. There's this half-hour rule so you don't rip his head off! Goals change games, but we never got that one, but had it gone in then again who knows what would have happened?" But Blackwell finally admitted that his team hadn't deserved anything from the game: "We lacked a spark and we weren't bright enough. We had spells, but we switched off for a moment and got caught. We shouldn't have been done like that because our keeper didn't have a save to make all night. Because we switched off for a minute it cost us and that was the difference." And he knows what the key failure was from his side - and it's not workrate. He said: "I can question their imagination, though, because it takes more than effort to break teams down, you need flair and you need to show that bit extra. Our wide men didn't create anything." Well from where I sat, Danny Pugh spent most of the game being pulled inside to cover the gaping holes where Wright and Gregan weren't, and Frazer Richardson's runs up the right were a sight nearer to being creative than anything that Gregan or Wright could muster, so it's a bit stiff to single out the wide men for criticism. But he's the boss and it's his job on the line if the team fail to deliver, so let's see what variations he can throw in when high-flying Stoke come to town on Tuesday night.
September 25: Not much to report on the old boys front today - although Bob Taylor did score his first for his new club as Tamworth drew 2-2 at Exeter, and at the other St James Park, James Milner struck the second of Newcastle's goals as they beat the Baggies 3-1.
September 25: The report from the accountants into the whole financial disaster that was the Ridsdale-Leighton Leeds United has been completed and is now with the DTI. Unfortunately, it's all confidential at the moment and nobody has leaked anything substantive. The DTI will now throw the report into a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying "Beware of the Leopard" for 2-4 months, before releasing it in a hail of non-publicity (3pm on Christmas Eve looks like a good bet) and inaction and muttering something about it being a terrible accident and a series of unconnected mistakes that could have been made by anybody. Of course they might actually throw the book at the clueless fools who - for reasons best known to their shareholders - have yet to be evicted from the boardrooms in which they continue to sit, but only when the butchers start serving wing cuts of bacon.
September 24: The Watford home game has been rescheduled for Wednesday 24 November. The original match was postponed from the end of August after Scott Carson's U-21 call-up left Leeds with only Neil Sullivan available between the sticks.
September 24: Halifax boss Chris Wilder has picked up one current and one former Leeds player as the Conference side try to climb into promotion contention. Midfielder Jason Blunt has signed after being released by Tamworth, and Irish U-21 international Henry McStay has joined on a one-month loan to get some regular first-team experience.
September 24: Sunderland failed to get all of the paperwork sorted in order to make Michael Bridges' move permanent before the deadline yesterday, so he's been signed up on an initial 3-month loan - although they still intend to make the move permanent. Bridges said: "I'm excited to be back. it's amazing how things work out in football. The fact that I started my career here and had such a good rapport with the fans were two of the reasons for me coming back." And manager Mick McCarthy believes he's picked up a bargain - although he agrees that Bridges' injury problems make it a bit of a gamble. He said: "He has been unfortunate over the past few years. He was a top player and I'm sure he wants to get back to that. He got 19 in 34 at Leeds one year. I saw him play when he was doing that well but it was a while ago."
September 24: No complaints about the dropped points tonight - we didn't create a single chance all game, and even though Brett Ormerod had the opportunity to equalise from the spot, the penalty had been awarded for an off-the-ball scuffle rather than any fantastic goalscoring opportunity that had been illegally denied. Mart Poom guessed right and saved well - but the kick was a poor one from the new striker. Anything else to report? Well, Hulk beat one of the two Spider-men in a fight in the Kop in the first half, and Gregan, Wright and Ormerod were largely anonymous for much of the game - prompting chants of "What the f*** is going on?" from the crowd when Frazer Richardson, who had looked like the only player capable or willing to run into the box and create chances - was replaced by Julian Joachim. Slapdash defending for the goal - and Sunderland could have made more of some good chances with a bit sharper finishing. The midfield need to raise their game a very long way if we are to be competitive in this division.
September 23: Michael Bridges' departure from the Reebok came a step closer today as he prepared to take a medical to confirm his return to Sunderland. Given his problems over the last couple of years, he can expect a stringent check, and Mick McCarthy said: "We're interested in taking him and we're looking at him this morning medical-wise. The circumstances have to be right for both parties. I want it to come off but it has to be right for all of us - me, himself and the club. I hope it will be." So why is he leaving Bolton without playing a game? Sam Allardyce says: "It's the strength of the squad that has allowed me to let Michael leave. He needs first-team football on a regular basis but, because of the players we have here now, it was difficult to see where he was going to force his way into the side. That's the idea behind the move. It is good for us and it will be good for him if he goes and grabs his place at Sunderland, which is where he started." If everything works out, he could be in line for a debut tomorrow night - at Elland Road.
September 23: Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell says he wants to see his team keep the unbeaten run going against Sunderland tomorrow night. "We've gone four games unbeaten now and it's important that we keep this run going because you'll find that the confidence just grows and grows when you remain unbeaten." He went on: "We had five rested against Swindon because I know the way I want to play against Sunderland and more importantly the way we'll need to play. It's a chance for the boys to show how far the club has come in eight or nine weeks." And he pointed to one key factor in the unbeaten run: "The fact that we have stayed unbeaten and kept another clean sheet is a massive bonus for us. We haven't been able to keep clean sheets here for a number of years, and it's nice to see our strikers finally scoring. If we keep clean sheets and our strikers are scoring goals, we will win games, it's as simple as that." Let's hope that he's saying exactly the same thing by Wednesday morning.
September 23: Brett Ormerod will be available for Leeds in the game against Sunderland tomorrow night and will be fighting Julian Joachim, Michael Ricketts and Brian Deane for a starting place. In the midfield, Matt Spring must be in contention for a start, with Sean Gregan's lack of fitness and Jermaine Wright's lacklustre performances giving Simon Walton and Jamie McMaster some hope of a breakthrough. Lots of players getting over injuries in the Sunderland camp, with no major doubts for the game. Simon Johnson is fit but won't be allowed to play against Leeds after he was sent up to Wearside on a one-month loan.
September 22: Speaking after last night's game, Michael Ricketts spoke of his relief at finally getting off the mark for Leeds. He said: "It's been a long time coming. I've missed the last three pre-seasons and have struggled with my fitness, but it's been a case of getting fit and hoping my ability would tell." He went on: "I've been doing extra training and I feel a lot fitter and a lot sharper, and I hope some of my touches last night showed my ability is starting to come out a bit." At the risk of sounding my usual pessimistic note - let's see if he can do it against a team in the same division on Friday night.
September 22: Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell today revealed that he had made several of the line-up changes for last night's game with Friday's Sunderland game in mind. He said: "We knew it was going to be hard, I made four changes with Sunderland in mind and I knew it was going to be a risky ploy but we got through which is the main thing. To be fair we should have had the game wrapped up at half time and once again if you don't take your chances, well, it's a cup tie and they're still in the game." Particularly if you take your foot off the gas like we did - by all accounts Blackwell and Sam Ellis spent most of the second half screaming instructions at the team and then shaking their heads in exasperation as their orders were ignored. But Blackwell sounded happy enough with what some of the fringe players had done: "Deano did exactly what I asked of him, he took the ball into the corners and ate up time, Matthew Spring did well, it's another game for Killer, Danny Cadamarteri came on, Simon Walton got another game. It bodes well. All of a sudden it's looking better."
September 22: It seems that Leeds will hold a one-minute silence before the game against Sunderland as a mark of respect for Brian Clough. After his repeated digs at the Revie team, and with the well-documented nightmare of his 44 days in charge, Cloughie was close to the top of many Leeds fans' hate-lists - fighting for top spot along with Ray Tinkler, Christos Michas and Bob Stokoe - but it's to be hoped that the Kop show a bit of sympathy for the man's family and keep schtum on Friday: if ManU could manage an impeccable silence for John Charles when we were at Old Trafford hours after his death was announced last season, I would hope that the Leeds fans in attendance on Friday night don't spend the 60 seconds pointlessly dragging our reputation through the mud in a repeat of the Busby Blackburn silence debacle.
September 22: Leeds have been drawn away to Portsmouth in the next round of the Carling Cup with the tie to be played in the week commencing October 25. You won't need reminding what happened the last time we went to Fratton Park - but if we can repeat what happened in our last cup visit in 1999, a 1-5 win will go some way towards soothing a few painful memories of last year. Of course that's assuming the moronic robocops who made such a pig's ear of crowd control last year allow us anywhere near the ground.
September 22: Kevin Blackwell still wants to sign a couple of new faces - but knows he can't go out splashing the cash. He said: "There is a level we've still got to get to but we can't rush it, we can't do that any more. It's my job to keep planning for the future, to keep getting players in and to build the club up in a slow and proper manner." He's got his eye on two or three additional players, but adds: "I believe those players cost money. Those are the players I need to make the club competitive as quickly as possible again."
September 21: Leeds Ladies midfielder Nicole Emmanuel has been included in the England U-19 squad for the forthcoming UEFA U19 Championship games. England kick off against Bulgaria at York City's ground on Tuesday 28 September, with Romania next up on the Thursday night. Finally, England play Wales at the South Leeds stadium on Saturday 2 October - entry to all games is just a quid.Meanwhile, Sue Smith won her 50th England cap at the weekend in the 2-1 win over Holland.
September 21: Swindon boss Andy King is hoping his side can go one step further than they did last year and hold out for a win at Elland Road tonight. It needed a late goal from Ian Harte and an even later header from keeper Paul Robinson to take the match into extra time last season, and King is keeping his fingers crossed for a similar performance from Swindon. He said: "Maybe it's fate, I don't know. I have a good record at Leeds. I won there in the League Cup while I was at Mansfield and we almost pulled off the impossible last year when they were a Premiership side. We are capable of winning at Leeds United. It's which Swindon Town team turns up."
September 21: New signing Brett Ormerod is raring to get out and show what he can do in Friday night's televised game with Sunderland. He said: "I don't think there's a bigger club in this division than Leeds. I came here because I want to get some games and play some football." He said that he had been impressed by what he saw at Thorpe Arch - although it was a call to former team-mate Steve Crainey that convinced him to move. He said: "I just want to get back playing and enjoying it again. I don't know much about Kevin Blackwell but I rang Steve Crainey up and he recommended the club." And despite what the Saints have said about the move being a short-term one, he adds: "I'd definitely be willing to make the move permanent if that is how things turn out. I never say never. I'm going to take it one step at a time and hope things go well during my month on loan. It could be longer - that's up to the managers."
September 21: Michael Bridges hasn't been able to secure himself a place in the Bolton side since his switch at the end of last season - so now he's considering a loan move that could bring him back full circle. Sunderland are said to be interested and talking to the 26-year-old with a view to taking him on loan, and if the deal happens he could be ready to play in Mick McCarthy's squad on Friday night at Elland Road.
September 21: Leeds extended the unbeaten run to four games tonight - and made it three wins from those four games with a Michael Ricketts goal the difference between the two sides at Elland Road. The lowest home gate since the Port Vale FA Cup replay just before Christmas 1999 saw Ricketts open his account early in the first half, and Leeds were rarely in any serious trouble despite failing to extend the lead. Upsets elsewhere tonight saw Colchester see off the Baggies 2-1 in extra time, Doncaster Rovers had an excellent 2-0 win over Ipswich at Belle Vue. Andy Gray got his name on the scoresheet twice as Sheffield United came from behind to win 2-3 at the Racecourse Ground and knock out Wrexham.
September 20: Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell is extremely pleased to find that Danny Pugh - makeweight in the Smithy transfer to Old Trafford - is just as adept at finding the net as the man who went in the other direction. He said: "Danny came with a reputation as a left-back or left-sided midfield player but his goals have been invaluable. If he carries on scoring and finishes the season as top scorer, I'll take that." As for the player himself, he was less than pleased with Leeds' overall performance. He said: "We had chances to win and we're disappointed because we know we're better than that. We really wanted to win that game." He went on: "There were a few tired legs out there, but we should have been able to cope with that." If they're tired after 6 weeks of the season, we'll be unconscious by Christmas! Pugh went on: "We know we're as good as anyone and we know we can beat anyone, but it's just about doing it on the day and putting in good performances week-in week-out... We can pass better and we can still improve in our play."
September 20: Kevin Blackwell is still debating what his team selection should be for tomorrow's game against Swindon. After last week's trip to Plymouth and then Crewe at the weekend, the Swindon game is quickly followed by two tough home matches in a week with the visits of Sunderland and Stoke. Blackwell said: "I may need to rest people, but the cup is important to us, so I will be very careful about what I do." It's got to be time to give Jamie McMaster and Matthew Spring a start - unless he's saving Spring for Friday night - but it's unlikely we'll see Brett Ormerod since Southampton won't want him to be cup-tied. There are loads of tickets available for the game - it will be a long way short of a sell-out, and there's no chance of it coming close to the massive crowd that saw the local derby against Huddersfield in the previous round.
September 20: Scunthorpe boss Brian Laws is hoping to persuade Leeds to allow on-loan striker Andy Keogh to further extend his stay at Glanford Park. Keogh has done well for the Iron since he joined them at the start of the season, and Laws said: "He's coming towards the end of his second month's loan now and I'll be speaking to Leeds sometime today and see what their feelings are. I know they've been watching him for the last few games and we'll have to wait and see what they say. But on the plus side for us, they have secured a few players in so maybe they'll allow Andy to stay with us for the time being." He's only scored twice in nine games, but Laws remains keen on the youngster, saying: "Andy looked bright on Saturday, but I think he is maybe just trying a little bit too hard at the moment."
September 20: Kevin Blackwell is happy that he's managed to capture an experienced striker - even if Brett Ormerod's recent record in the top flight is hardly stellar. But one thing Blackwell does value is commitment and attitude, and he said: "He has attracted a lot of interest from a lot of clubs, but as soon as he knew we were interested, he wanted to come here." With a dig at his former boss Neil Warnock's insinuations that Leeds were making illegal approaches (after losing out on several other transfer targets who miraculously seem to consider Elland Road a more desirable destination than Bramall Lane), saying: "I spoke with Southampton before talking to Brett, and everything was done in the proper manner. I want to have a squad of players that means we have competition in all departments, and after signing Sean Gregan last week, Brett will add further to that."
September 20: Brian Clough today died after a long fight against stomach cancer. Old Big Head made his reputation in the game as a star striker with 251 goals in 274 games, but after his on-field career was curtailed by injury, he went into management, steering Derby to the title in 1971-72 and denying Leeds the double as the FA forced Revie's FA Cup winners to play their final game of the season barely 48 hours after beating Arsenal at Wembley. Chosen as Don Revie's successor, he came into Elland Road in a blaze of publicity and almost immediately managed to alienate the dressing room. After just 44 days in the job, he was forced out - with a huge financial settlement to cushion the blow - and went on to lead Forest to two successive European Cups. He would never win a popularity contest among Leeds fans or players - although he has latterly admitted that he probably made a mistake in his approach to the Elland Road job - but you can't deny his achievements as a player and a manager mark him as something special, and we offer our sympathy and condolences to his family.
September 20: Serge Branco has wasted little time in finding himself a new club: after being released by Leeds he has now signed a one-month deal with QPR. You never know - we might even get a chance to see him play at Elland Road if he's still with them in November when QPR visit.
September 19: Craig Hignett opened the scoring for Darlo in their game with Northampton yesterday, but his new team could only manage a 1-1 draw. David Wetherall scored Bradford's third goal against Bristol City as the Bantams raced to a 4-1 win. There was another 4-1 win - this time for Hartlepool, with Mark Tinkler scoring their third.
September 19: Brett Ormerod was confirmed as Kevin Blackwell's latest capture, coming in on a one-month loan from Southampton. He's not been seeing much action for the Saints lately, and head coach Steve Wigley said: "We're not looking to sell him. He needs games, though, and hasn't had many here this season. Hopefully he'll come back with the benefit of five or six under his belt."
September 18: Mali international midfielder David Coulibaly has returned to Leeds for a second trial spell according to some reports in France today. Coulibaly currently plays in the second division over there with Chateauroux and has been given a second chance to impress Kevin Blackwell.
September 18: Today's performance at Crewe typified the season - a bit of lax defending, forwards not really creating any chances, but a good fightback for a deserved point. Kevin Blackwell was happy with the fightback, saying: "Their goals came out of nothing but we showed great character to fight back not once, but twice. We were good enough and should have won the game but we didn't finish it off. If we had got a goal up we would have killed off the game but when we went in at 0-0 at half-time I said to the lads we could lose this game. Because the game at times came a little bit too easy for us we drifted back into lazy ways and the passes weren't crisp enough. We were doing so well, the strikers were missing but thinking another chance would come along soon. You have to finish these games off and we didn't do that today - it's a lesson learned." Let's hope that Clarke Carlisle's brain-fade that made him punch the ball inside the area doesn't cause Kevin Blackwell to make any defensive changes. Sean Gregan and Jermaine Wright were completely bypassed for much of the game, but once again we owe Danny Pugh a huge vote of thanks for pulling us out of the fire with his cracking shot from the edge of the area.
September 17: Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Mark Viduka were the stars of Middlesbrough's UEFA Cup win over Banik Ostrava last night. JFH opened the scoring in the second half when he finished off a deflected shot from George Boateng, and Viduka then added a well-struck shot and a header to give the home side a 3-0 win.
September 17: Leeds United Ladies had an excellent win at Doncaster Rovers Belles last night, running out 0-4 winners with goals from Karen Walker, Natalie Preston and a pair from new signing Karen Burke. They next face Liverpool at home in the league on Sunday week.
September 17: Crewe have a couple of minor worries ahead of tomorrow's game at Gresty Road, after striker Steve Jones was stretchered off in their midweek game. Young defender Billy Jones could be rested, and Adie Moses and Richard Walker are set to return. For Leeds, Sean Gregan is expected to play some part, and Matthew Spring is also pushing for a midfield spot after showing what he can do from the bench against Plymouth. Simon Walton is carrying a rib injury and could be one of the players to make way.
September 17: A bit of mutual backslapping from the squad today. New boy Sean Gregan on Jermaine Wright: "I've seen lots of Jermaine and played against him plenty of times before. The way Ipswich played last year at times their passing was frightening, and you could see this morning in training the ability he has at first hand. His game is trying to bomb around and get into the box, mine's about holding the ball up and shoring things up, so I think we will compliment each other's game perfectly." And Wright said of the former West Brom man: "He's won promotion and played at the highest level before, he knows the game inside out and his experience will help all the players. The more experience you get in there the more it helps... It's always good to make quality additions to the squad." Meanwhile, there's a rallying cry from skipper Paul Butler: "We've got our first three points on the road now. We were looking for at least four this week, but now we could get six. That's got to be our aim. It's all a matter of confidence. Once you start to play well and win matches confidence comes as a team... It will be a good test because [Crewe] are a total footballing team. We will try and play and so will Crewe."
September 17: Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell was singing the praises of the board today, after they stumped up the cash to buy Sean Gregan from West Brom. Speaking to BBC Radio Leeds, he said: "The board said they would back me and it shows to people that they have a burning ambition to do well. Hopefully we'll move forward and there will be money to spend. Once I've seen who I want I'm sure the board will do their best to make it happen."
September 16: Finally the ink has been applied to the paper for the Sean Gregan deal. The midfielder joins Leeds with West Brom getting £500,000 up front, £250,000 based on appearances and a further £250,000 if Leeds manage to get promoted with Gregan in the side. Kevin Blackwell said: "Sean is a tremendous player and will be a great asset to our squad in terms of leadership, personality and talent; we're delighted he's joined us." Good wishes going backwards and forwards between the player and the Baggies too - manager Gary Megson said: "I wish Sean all the best at Leeds United. He is joining a fantastic football club. He played a huge part in this club winning promotion to the Premiership and was one of the main reasons we did as well as we did towards the end of last season. We wish him all the best and I hope he enjoys the same success with Leeds." The player himself said: "I enjoyed my time at West Brom and I wish I could have stayed to help them stay up, for the players and the fans, but I have left that behind and I am looking forward now. The supporters were really good to me and I wish them good luck." Since he started out as a trainee with Darlo in 1991, Gregan has played 500 games and scored 21 goals, and was yet another target of Forest boss Joe Kinnear that Kevin Blackwell has managed to nick. Blackwell added: "Everything is agreed. Sean is another leader of men and has the desire I am looking for. We've been working to get him for four weeks and the board have been magnificent in their efforts. His presence will give us a strong spine to the team." After missing out on Stern John and Dougie Freedman, Blackwell is understood to still be on the market for another striker with Matt Jansen of Blackburn in the frame.
September 16: Paul Butler is claiming the goal against Plymouth as his own, despite it being widely credited as a Marino Keith og on Tuesday night. The ball looked goalbound when it took the deflection off the Pilgrims' forward, and Leeds secretary Ian Silvester said: "Paul is claiming the goal and I am registering it with the Football League as his. What they do about it after that is for them to decide. Paul is a big lad and I'm not arguing with him!"
September 16: Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell says that - although he's pleased with the 6 points the team has picked up from the last two games, he's under no illusion that his squad has a long way to go if it is to make it into the promotion shake-up at the end of the season. He said: "I'm not going to say we are there after two wins... The team will get better. That was only the fifth game five of them had played for Leeds. We are still in our infancy. Everybody forgets that we are a brand-new team, on and off the pitch." And he went on: "We have not got the flair or the ability of before but we can go out and defend right, be well-organised and hard-working, and earn the respect of the fans for that. If we do that, we will be okay." Can't say fairer than that: a realistic assessment of where we are now and a recognition of just how much still needs to be done from the man in charge. Keep it up Kev - a confidence-enhancing pair of wins against Crewe and Swindon will leave us set nicely for two tough games against Sunderland and Stoke and we could be sitting pretty by the end of the month.
September 15: After notching up a second successive win, Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell warned his rivals that Leeds were on the march. He said: "We can improve greatly on this." And he was happy with the team's all-round performance, both in keeping a lid on Plymouth's attacking moves and making their keeper work for his money: "Defensively we looked comfortable again and I was pleased with that. It was another clean sheet and that's important for confidence. When we got the goal I knew they would throw everything at us, but we defended well and showed good character and composure."
September 15: Sean Gregan is undergoing a medical and should be ready to complete the formalities of his switch to Leeds by the weekend. Kevin Blackwell said: "Everything is agreed and I think the boy will be a good addition to the club. He is another leader of men and I know he is a good player. He is right for this club and he fits the bill in that he has the desire I'm looking for." Meanwhile Dougie Freedman has turned down the chance of a loan move to Elland Road. Iain Dowie indicated that several offers had come in for Freedman and Tommy Black, but concrete interest in Freedman from Leeds had been dismissed by the player, who says he would prefer to stay and fight for his place at Selhurst Park.
September 14: Kevin Blackwell has told the troops to expect a hot reception at Home Park tonight. Plymouth are unbeaten in over 20 games on their own patch, and are expecting a full house for the game. Blackwell spent some time coaching at Plymouth eight years ago, and several of the youngsters he brought on are now in the team. He said: "I'm aware of a few of the lads at Plymouth. It's great to see them come through as they have. They are hometown boys and that's important to any team. We took something from nothing and it's nice to be associated with it." But Blackwell knows that Leeds will face similar challenges throughout the season: "Leeds is a big club and it is the fixture both opposition fans and players look forward to, hoping to send us home with our tail between our legs. I have a young squad and they must get used not only to the expectations of Leeds fans but also to the reception they are going to get elsewhere. We saw it at Gillingham and it will be the same at Plymouth but it's something we have to come to terms with."
September 14: Reports this morning said that Leeds had captured Sean Gregan from West Brom for around half a million quid - with a bit more thrown in dependent on appearances and success. Kevin Blackwell was quoted as saying:"I'm absolutely delighted because I've been chasing him for ages. He can be an inspirational and influential player for us because he has a wealth of experience." However the club later denied that the deal was complete - although it could be done by the weekend. Blackwell stayed behind at Elland Road when the team set off on the long journey to Plymouth yesterday, hoping to conclude the final bit of transfer business to complete his rebuilding. He said: "I need to add that bit of quality and I think Saturday showed exactly why I am trying to do what I am trying to do. I am after two or three other players who for me are the finished article."
September 14: A good win for Kevin Blackwell's side at Home Park tonight, with a Marino Keith own goal separating the two sides just before the break. Neil Sullivan was once again required to make some good stops to keep Leeds in the game, but Plymouth keeper Romain Larrieu was also kept busy as Brian Deane and Julian Joachim linked up well with the midfield to keep the pressure on the home team. The goal came from when Paul Butler hit a cross/shot back across goal after a corner, and it skimmed the luckless Keith's head and was diverted past Larrieu. Matthew Spring came on for 25 minutes to make his Leeds debut and nearly doubled Leeds' lead with 15 minutes remaining with a rising shot from outside the box. So - two wins from two, and by a bizarre coincidence two clean sheets in a row for a defence deprived of the contribution of Michael Duberry. Speaking after the game, Kevin Blackwell was happy with the way the team had matched Plymouth's effort and created some decent chances, adding: "I'm glad to have got the first away win but feel we have been unlucky not to get it before."
September 13: Leeds United Ladies finally managed to get a win in a competitive game this season - but it was only in the League Cup. They won 0-3 at Blackburn - who are a division below Leeds in the national pyramid - with goals from Karen Walker, Lucy Ward and Alex Culvin. They now face a big away game back in the league on Wednesday night against Doncaster Rovers Belles.
September 13: Steve Guppy has joined Stoke City on a one-month contract after being released by Leeds. Guppy made it into the first team for a handful of games at Elland Road, but the board declined to offer him a longer deal, so he's linked up with former boss John Rudge.
September 13: Camerounian Olympic gold medallist Serge Branco has been released by Leeds without ever making an appearance in a competitive match. He played in a couple of reserve games, and was also in the side for the friendly against Iraklis Thessaloniki, but Kevin Blackwell has apparently decided that he's seen enough of the player and does not see him fitting into the Leeds line-up. That's the same manager who, less than two weeks ago, said: "We all saw what happened last season when foreign players were put straight into the team. Serge has to get used to his new surroundings, work on his fitness and settle in." So much for settling in!
September 13: With a striker's name finally on the scoresheet, Kevin Blackwell is just as happy as the man who scored it. Blackwell said: "It was important that a striker scored because people were starting to pick up on it. It is pleasing for everyone that a striker scored." But with Danny Pugh responsible for nearly half of the total goals scored so far this season, he added: "Funnily enough, the pleasing aspect for me this season is that goals have been coming from different areas." Blackwell pointed out that Leeds had continued to make chances in the other games this season, but a combination of bad luck and lacklustre finishing had meant that goals went unscored - but he's not pointing the finger at the front men: "Everybody has to take the load, it's not a case of them and us, defenders, midfielders - we're all in it."
September 13: There could be some more arrivals at Elland Road this week. Palace players Dougie Freedman and Tommy Black are being linked with loan moves to Elland Road - although an injury crisis and a general search for a winning formula at Selhurst Park have put the mockers on Iain Dowie releasing the pair just yet. And rumours continue to abound surrounding the general dissatisfaction with Michael Ricketts' performances on the park and on the training pitch. Do we have a cheap get-out clause - or can we offload him and his wages and allow Kevin Blackwell some scope to pay for a fit player who knows where the net is?
September 13: The board issued a statement today denying that there was any truth in the rumour that they were in takeover talks with Iraqi billionaire Nadhmi Auchi. The statement read: "The club can confirm that no such negotiations to buy the club have taken place with Mr Auchi. The board of directors are frustrated another story has appeared without foundation. It creates uncertainty." And addressing the suggestion that Auchmi was only following their lead in looking to redevelop Elland Road, they said: "The club is committed to staying at Elland Road and will continue to examine all opportunities open to them." So that's clear then. From Chinese to Arabs to Thais to Iraqis to Yorkshire hauliers: where will the takeover trail head next? After that little band, I guess the only more outlandish suggestion would be from a consortium based in Lancashire!
September 13: Leeds newest young star has just signed a long-term contract at Elland Road. Simon Walton passed his 17th birthday last week, and as such became eligible to sign a "real" contract at Elland Road. He's agreed a three-year deal, and Kevin Blackwell was very happy to secure his signature. Blackwell said: "Players like Simon are the future of this club. We always knew when we signed him that he was a lad that had major potential and he was always going to be offered a pro-contract whether he was in the first team or not. There was and is a lot of interest in Simon Walton and we had to fight to keep him at the club alongside Ben Parker who will also sign when he turns 17." Walton said: "My goal at the start of the season was to break into the first team, so to do it on the opening day of the season was a huge boost for my confidence. It was always going to be a bit of wait-and-see this year with the number of different players leaving and joining, and it will take time for us all to learn how the manager wants us to play and how each of our teammates play. But I am happy with my form and just want to keep playing as many first-team games as I can."
September 13: Bobby Williamson's side may have gone down 3-2 at QPR at the weekend - but at least they came through the game without picking up any further knocks, unlike Kevin Blackwell's squad. Julian Joachim has a hamstring strain and Simon Walton has an ankle injury, and both are doubts for the game at Home Park tomorrow night, although both will travel and face late fitness tests.
September 13: After Spider-man and his "lady" friend for the Forest game, the Incredible Hulk was the star of the Kop in Saturday's match against Coventry. So who's next on the roster? Are we working our way through the Marvel Universe - with the Fantastic Four, Daredevil and Wolverine ready to make an appearance - or are we going to go more mainstream with Batman and Wonderwoman getting it on for the Sunderland game? Personally I'd prefer to see the Flash or Green Lantern - might encourage a bit of speed and imagination on the park: more of the sort of football that they served up on Saturday and we'll be begging for the Golden Age Sandman to come and use his sleep gas to finish off the job that the players started.
September 12: Just when it seemed that things were settling down off the field, rumours this weekend suggest more instability and possible upheaval to come. Today's rumours concern the apparent interest in buying the club by Iraqi billionaire Nadhmi Auchi. He's based in Britain but has international dealings - and indeed it was in France that he received a suspended prison sentence and substantial fine over a huge scandal surrounding kickbacks for oil firm Elf, although he maintains that the prosecution was politically motivated. He would be interested in taking control of the club, building a new stadium away from Elland Road, and redeveloping the current site for residential and commercial use. Will it happen? Well that depends if this guy is another "Sheikh" or if some genuine cash is on the table. Will the Krasner consortium sell? Of course - if they cover their costs and turn a profit (although they may become a bit more desperate as the season goes on and the cash position worsens if we have many more sub-30K crowds). Will there be opposition to a move away from ER? Probably not - at least not on the same scale as their was when Peter Ridsdale's pie-in-the-sky stadium was on offer, since the fans are now more likely to accept ANYTHING that leaves the club debt-free and able to plan for a return to the top flight now rather than in 3-5 years, and if he actually has some cash to invest that would also seem a bit more of a runner than the ever-hopeful former chairman's idea of paying for the stadium by flogging naming rights. Watch this space...
September 11: Peter Reid returned the many compliments of Kevin Blackwell today, with praise for his former protege. Reid said: "Kevin has been handed the job to pick the club up and put them back up among the elite - and there is no doubt he's the man to do it. With all their financial problems, it could be a long job and the first thing Leeds have to do is stop the slide and consolidate. But, given time and a fair crack of the whip, Blackie is the guy who can bring back the good times." Of course Reid wasn't exactly given "a fair crack of the whip" himself at Leeds. He went on: "We had a terrific partnership and he was always supportive of me. He's finding out now that management - unlike working with players as a coach on the training pitch - isn't always a bed of roses. But I know he enjoyed the Premiership experience and he wants it again."
September 11: One of the worst games I've seen in a long while - but we came out of it with three points so what the heck. But don't let a 3-0 win fool you: the goals came from a free kick and two keeper errors from long-range shots: we're still not making enough real chances or being clinical enough when we get the opportunity. Still, at least we've finally got a striker on the scorers list, and with Clarke Carlisle and Steve Crainey both scraping past the fitness tests, the defence played without the 1.5 goal handicap of Michael Duberry. Jermaine Wright was hopelessly anonymous in midfield, the Crainey/Pugh combination tried to pass its way out of trouble inside the box and nearly gave a goal away, and the ref and his assistants once again demonstrated a negligible grasp of the basic laws. But what do we care - three points is three points!
September 11: Mark Viduka netted twice for Boro as they took the points from Brum at the Riverside today. Jamie Forrester opened the scoring for Bristol Rovers at Orient today, but ended up on the end of a 4-2 scoreline, and Danny Granville was similarly unsuccessful, equalising for Palace at Charlton and seeing his free kick bang back off the upright, but ultimately ending up on the losing side.
September 10: It seems that Stern John has decided against Leeds as he aims to move on from Brum - but it's still not clear where he has decided to go. Forest and Cov have tabled identical bids, and Cov currently look favorites to pick up the Trinidadian striker. But Kev says he's not that worried: "I'm not at all disappointed at missing out on him. The way I look at it, if he doesn't want to come here and play for Leeds, then we don't want him." Sounds like a bit of self-comforting if you ask me.
September 10: With Kevin Blackwell telling the world just how thin his squad has been spread, it's a bit surprising to see yet another body go out on loan - particularly to a team in the same division. But that's what's happened with Simon Johnson, who goes to Sunderland on loan for a month today. He won't be allowed to play in the Carling Cup, and will not be allowed to play against Leeds when the Black Cats visit Elland Road in a fortnight. Must have impressed the locals when he scored in the reserve game on Sunday - but with the current set of first team strikers unable to find the net for Leeds, it seems a rather strange decision to make.
September 10: Matthew Kilgallon is pressing for a starting place in the first team squad - and he wants to be in his "real" position of centreback. Speaking to the official website, he said: "I don't want another season on the bench or as a squad player anymore, I want to be playing and I want to be playing centre-half." He's not taking his bat home over this - but his agent was making strong representations along these lines a few months ago when a new contract was on the table, and as an England U-21 player who has developed a decent reputation in his limited league appearances, he'd not be short of offers. He adds: "I don't want to be sitting on benches or watching games from the stand anymore. I'm keeping my fitness up when I go away with England and I am playing at centre-half as well, so I'm showing people what I can do and how good I can be in that position." The official site says that he may have learnt a lot of what he knows of the game from Michael Duberry - so maybe a move away from Leeds would be for the best before his ability and tactical awareness are fatally and permanently compromised.
September 10: Julian Joachim is hoping to finally break his duck against one of his former teams tomorrow. He's missed a couple of very good chances so far this season, and the pressure on all of the strikers is beginning to mount. He said: "Obviously your confidence drops because I've started five games and not scored and I'm very disappointed at that. But at least I'm having chances to score which is good, if I was not then that would be more disappointing but I still expect to have score at least one or two of them." And it's a case of deja vu for the pacy striker. He said: "The first couple of seasons at Highfield Road was very tough because it was a bit like it is here now; they had no money to spend, and having just dropped out of the Premiership they expected success but that wasn't the case."
September 09: Swindon Town fans are proving considerably less eager than they were last season to visit Elland Road. Less than 100 of the 1500 on offer had been snapped up by yesterday for a game that Town boss Andy King must surely fancy for an upset, particularly after they came so close last year. King said: "I think it's one of the best ties we could have had. They're at their lowest ebb."
September 09: The reserves picked up their first win of the season last night, running out 0-2 winners in Durham against Sunderland. Simon Johnson and Matthew Spring scored for Leeds, with Jamie McMaster also performing well enough to suggest he deserves a bit more of a chance in the first team.
September 09: Craig Hignett today revealed that was shocked and surprised not to be a Leeds player right now. He said: "I had verbally agreed a year but there was a board meeting and they decided they're not going to release the money for me. It came as a bit of a surprise to me and Gupps got the same phone call but the manager's hands are tied - he's low on numbers." Not the first time that this board has suddenly had a change of heart when it comes to counting the votes and cutting a cheque rather than just spouting some fine words in public. Or maybe I'm being uncharitable here, and the reason why Guppy and Hignett were dumped was because we're about to see Stern John and Sean Gregan walk out in a white shirt on Saturday. John was in action for Trinidad again yesterday, scoring his side's only goal in their 3-1 defeat by Mexico.
September 09: Young midfielder Martin Woods has been farmed out to Hartlepool on a one-month loan with a view to getting some first team experience. If he has half as much success as Andrew Keogh seems to be having so far, we'll be wanting him back and in the first team by Christmas.
September 08: Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell has once again hit out at the former regime at Elland Road and the "outrageous" way in which it treated Peter Reid. Blackwell was recruited by Reid from Sheffield United, and found himself being asked by the board if the man who had brought him in was good enough for the job. Blackwell said: "It was a horrible situation for everyone and I wouldn't want to come across that situation again." He went on: "He was given a raw deal. The way Peter was treated was outrageous." Blackwell will be hoping to put one over his former boss on Saturday, but was glad that Reid's time at Leeds wasn't counting against him: "I am delighted he is back in football with Coventry and there is no doubt in my mind he will bring success to that club."
September 08: Leeds have released Craig Hignett and Steve Guppy at the end of their initial one-month contracts. Guppy made 4 appearances for Leeds, scoring once in the home draw with Forest, but the closest Hignett got to first team action was the bench in the Carling Cup game against Huddersfield. Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell said: "It was a tough decision but we've decided to let Steve and Higgy move on. I didn't feel I could give them any guarantees and, consequently, I couldn't really offer them anything in the longer-term." He praised their input during the pre-season and the way they applied their experience to help the newly-assembled squad bond. Blackwell said: Right from the trip to Sweden they have been magnificent. They've had a good attitude and they've helped the younger players with their experience... I wish them both well for the future and can't thank them enough for their efforts." Guppy is considering an offer to play in the US, but Hignett has already signed up with Darlo.
September 08: Alan Smith was dropped to the bench for England's World Cup qualifier in Poland tonight, despite a credible performance in the previous game against Austria. And it looks like he might have missed his chance to impress, since his replacement - Jermain Defoe - opened the scoring for England with a sharply-taken first half goal, and as at Old Trafford he will soon face the challenge of a fit-again Wayne Rooney. Paul Robinson finally got to play in a competitive game, replacing "Calamity" James who was widely held to be responsible for at least one of Austria's goals at the weekend. Robbo didn't have a lot to do, and there wasn't a huge amount he could have done to stop Poland's equaliser - so if Sven now sees him as the man in possession, he might finally get the international run that he has been tipped for since producing a set of excellent performances in the Champions League in the dim and distant past. Gary Speed captained Wales to one of their most disappointing results for some time, when they failed to make a man advantage tell against Northern Ireland at the Millenium Stadium.
September 08: Steve Crainey is almost certainly out of this weekend's game against Coventry with a hamstring strain. Clarke Carlisle is marginally less doubtful - but will only be risked if the alternatives are too horrible to consider (a category in which, sadly, Kevin Blackwell does not believe Michael Duberry belongs). With Serge Branco set to play in tonight's reserve game against Sunderland - and with Matthew Spring playing his third game in a week tonight - it seems unlikely that either of those two will be in contention for a start on Saturday so it looks as if Matthew Kilgallon will return to the left back slot. Not much chance of a change up front either, since Danny Cadamarteri and Jamie McMaster also appear for the stiffs in Durham.
September 07: New signings Matthew Spring and Danny Cadamarteri have both got their eyes on places in the first team squad for the Coventry game after both coming back from pre-season injuries. After last week's reserve game against West Brom, Spring played all 90 minutes out in Greece, but knows that he needs to convince boss Kevin Blackwell of more than just match fitness. He said: "I've just got to keep working hard and improve my game. There's people in the team that I can learn from learn from, but first I have to work hard in the first place to get a berth in the first team. That's my immediate aim and then I want to stay in there." Meanwhile, Danny Cadamarteri is also close to full fitness after his own set of pre-season problems - and is clearly getting a little frustrated about the lack of opportunities he's had since his switch from Bradford. He said: "I have been fit for a few weeks and I am just trying to improve my fitness. My fitness is coming on well, I feel a lot better than I did and fitness comes with matches as well." He's keeping his fingers crossed that his reserve team displays will force Kevin Blackwell to give him a chance in the first team. He said: "All I am looking for is to push on and hopefully pressure everyone else in the first team for a place. Sooner or later I hope I can become involved."
September 07: After striking twice in seven games and helping Scunthorpe to the top of the table, young Leeds striker Andrew Keogh has picked up the player of the month award at Scunthorpe. Brian Laws has been impressed with the youngster and has persuaded Leeds to extend his loan spell through to the start of October - although Leeds have insisted on an instant-recall clause given the thin stretch of playing resources at Elland Road at the moment.
September 07: Matthew Kilgallon is hoping to take advantage of Stephen Crainey's misfortune, after the left-back pulled a hamstring in training last week and missed the trip to Greece. Kilgallon started the season in that position - despite the fact that he's a specialist centreback - and played well enough, but the arrival of Crainey saw him lose his place in the squad, despite the continuing and bizarrely inexplicable presence of Michael Duberry in the 16. Kilgallon said: "I'll play anywhere, though I still think I am best at centre-half. You can't get your head down if you're not in the side. You have to keep training well and the next time an opportunity comes along you have to take it. After being on loan at West Ham for a while last season I know what to expect in this division. There are a lot of physical battles and you need to keep working away."
September 07: England's 21 side came from behind to win 1-3 in Poland tonight, with several current and former Leeds players in action. Scott Carson had another good game for the national side: not much he could do about the Poles' opening goal on 5 minutes, but he did make some good stops before and after. James Milner came close to equalising from a Jermaine Pennant cross, and Matthew Kilgallon made an early appearance after Anton Ferdinand went off injured in the first half. England equalised through Carlton Cole just on half-time, with some controversy surrounding the goal and Poland reduced to 10 men as a consequence, with one of their players picking up a second yellow card for dissent. Pennant was brought down in the box to give Darren Bent the chance to extend his run as super-scoring-sub with a spot kick, and Bent added his second and England's third with seven minutes to go.
September 06: Despite a fairly average performance, and despite needing a late goal from captain Paul Butler, Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell says he is very pleased with his squad's early season break in Greece. Speaking to the official website, he said: "We worked hard and the players gave a spirited response after going behind early on. The game was very competitive. It was definitely worth us being here." He had some particular words of praise for Danny Pugh's performances so far this season. He said: "He does read the game well and he has a great engine. We've seen plenty of commitment from him and he's not shirked a challenge since he's been here. I think the fans will adore him here because he will put everything in when it matters." Pugh said:"I've always liked to go forward but most of my football over the last couple of years has been at left-back... so it's very nice when they go in."
September 06: West Brom have once again turned down Leeds' bid for midfielder Sean Gregan. There are those who would say that half a million quid for a 30-year-old who is stuck in the reserves is good business for a club like West Brom - but the Baggies are obviously hoping that our desperation to improve the midfield will continue to loosen the purse strings and net them a bit more cash. But Leeds have moved forward on another - surprising - front. With Mikael Forsell already at the club, joined by Emile Heskey in the summer and now Dwight Yorke, Brum are happy to allow Stern John to move on in search of a regular start. The Blues have agreed a fee of around a quarter of a million quid with Coventry and Leeds - so now it's down to the player to decide whether he wants to work with Peter Reid or Kevin Blackwell, and weigh up the prospects of success with both clubs when he returns from international duty with Trinidad and Tobago later this week. John scored in his nation's 2-1 win over St Kitts and Nevis this weekend. Craig Hignett's future is also likely to be decided soon - but with the player failing to make a single first-team appearance yet this season, and with Stern John's arrival on the cards it's likely Leeds will allow Hignett to take up Darlo's offer of a regular game.
September 06: Leeds U-18 side had an excellent result at the weekend - running out 0-3 winners against Liverpool with the goals coming from Gavin Rothery, Kevin Smith and Damien Reeves. Everton are the next opponents for the youngsters, kicking off on Saturday morning at Thorp Arch at 1130.
September 05: Despite what chairman Freddy Shepherd keeps on saying, it looks like Newcastle are increasingly heading towards a repeat of the Leeds meltdown scenario. Parallels? Well, they've missed out on Champions League football despite having a highly-paid and talented squad. Much-rumoured discontent in the dressing room, leading to the dismissal of the manager with no replacement lined up and no decent candidate available and willing to take the job. Buying/bidding for strikers while selling defenders and more or less ignoring the need to strengthen a couple of key positions. Letting your star defender go to a team you'd love to think of as one of your rivals but who, in reality, compete on a completely different plane to you. And now they could be set to crown all of those achievements with Peter Ridsdale's final, killer mistake: the appointment of Terry Venables. The cockney wide boy, whose abysmal grasp of tactics, player motivation and transfer dealings turned a top-half team into relegation candidates, has been in talks with the Newcastle boss and seems keen to take on the vacant manager's chair. Despite the fact that Shepherd had earlier denied speaking to Venables - worried no doubt by a backlash from the terraces from fans who recognise the similarities to Leeds' plight - the meeting between the two men has become public knowledge courtesy of Venables having a little chat with one of his Fleet Street cheerleaders. Speaking in the News of the World, Venables said: "I don't think there is a club in this country bigger than Newcastle... We had a meeting, a good chat and our conversations will be on-going. I have an open mind about the situation now. Sir Bobby Robson would be a difficult act to follow - but to manage Newcastle is a great opportunity and I am very pleased to be considered." We look forward to an evening out in Newcastle in the 2005/06 season.
September 05: "Blackwell to quit" said some website headlines today. But they meant Dean Blackwell of Brighton - Kev's not gone yet. No update on the Baggies' response to the increased Gregan offer, but today's Sunday People links us with a move for Wigan's Alan Mahon, who can't break into their table-topping side.
September 05: Leeds Ladies are now second bottom of the league with just one point from four games, and after today's 1-5 thrashing by Charlton they have conceded 17 goals. Karen Walker was a high-profile addition to the side in the summer, but it looks as if Julie Chipchase should have concentrated on defensive improvements: the former England striker did score for Leeds, but the score was already 0-4 at the time.
September 05: Leeds captain Paul Butler spared Leeds' blushes in Greece tonight, equalising Iraklis Thessaloniki's 8th minute opener with a header from a corner with eight minutes remaining. Serge Branco got 75 minutes and Matthew Spring managed the full 90 as his comeback from injury continues. But despite the presence up front of first-choice strikers Ricketts and Joachim among others, there was still no goal for a forward.
September 04: After seeing him play for the Baggies' reserves against Leeds earlier this week, Kevin Blackwell has persuaded the board to make the funds available for an increased bid for Sean Gregan. Leeds had a bid of £300,000 turned down last month, but with the player not getting into the WBA first team, Blackwell is hoping that upping the offer to half a million will do the trick.
September 04: Robbie Keane equalled Niall Quinn's Ireland international goal-scoring record today when he struck the Republic's third goal from the spot as they had a routine 3-0 win over Cyprus at Lansdowne Road. Gary Speed - now Wales' most-capped outfield player - gave his side the lead in Baku as they faced Azerbaijan, but a goalkeeping lapse from Paul Jones saw the hosts square the game. Two ex-Leeds players faced each other in Vienna as England took on Austria and both will have come away with slightly mixed feelings. Martin Hiden was part of the Austrian defence that conceded two goals and were under siege for a large part of the game - although he had a pretty solid game himself - and Alan Smith produced some good work up front for England, holding and laying the ball well but missing out on a goal when he had a one-on-one chance against former Arsenal keeper Alex Manninger.
September 03: Leeds left three significant names behind when they flew out to Greece today, but there's better news for Kevin Blackwell as Matthew Spring and Serge Branco both came through the reserve game unscathed last night, and are expected to play a significant part in Sunday's friendly against Iraklis Thessaloniki. Left behind are Clarke Carlisle and Stephen Crainey, who have both picked up hamstring injuries in training this week, and Gary Kelly who stay behind due to a family illness.
September 03: Scott Carson kept a clean sheet for England's U-21 side tonight in their European qualifier in Austria. Carlton Cole and Darren Bent scored the goals in England's 0-2 win, with Jermaine Pennant playing for most of the game and James Milner getting a run out for the last 15 minutes. Matthew Kilgallon was also in the squad, but spent the game watching from the bench.
September 03: Leeds have failed to capture the signature of young Dutch star Sergio Hellings. Hellings currently plays for Anderlecht, who were looking to loan him out for the whole season, and despite a reasonably successful spell training with Leeds in the summer, Hellings instead chose to go on loan to Dutch Division 2 side Heracles.
September 03: Midfielder Matthew Spring said it was good to be playing again after an injury in the summer blew his pre-season away and has kept him out of the first team since his switch from Luton. He said: "I've been training and had a game behind closed doors against Rotherham but this was my first competitive game. I think the gaffer wanted to see if I was fit enough. The game went well and I felt fine and I believe I'm over the injury." He went on: "Now I've got to keep working hard, improve my game and try to get a place in the first team."
September 02: Chris Bart-Williams will not be offered a contract at Elland Road. The 30-year-old former Owls and Forest player has been training with Leeds for a month, but has failed to convince manager Kevin Blackwell that he has the hunger or levels of fitness required to succeed in Division 2 (sorry, I'm NOT succumbing to commercial pressure on this one - we're in the second division and that's the end of it). Bart-Williams now looks set to return to the City Ground to see if a trial spell there can win him a season-long deal.
September 02: Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell says that the club's young players will gain from relegation. After the departure of so many big names, and with the board unable to afford any big-money replacements, the young players coming through the system are likely to get chances to impress and win first-team places that would not have existed if Leeds had stayed in the top flight. Blackwell said: "Another [positive from relegation] is that many established players went and that allowed young or fringe players to be given a chance who clearly would not have had that opportunity before, because you dare not develop them in the Premier League when you are struggling. It's not a time to develop kids. The downside is we've lost many class players and are no longer playing in the Premier League, which a club like this has to be playing in." And he had particular praise for Jamie McMaster, Matthew Kilgallon and Frazer Richardson: "I think all the lads who have been here before have really worked hard. Their attitude has been absolutely fabulous and I look at them now and I think Frazer looks a new player, Killer looks a new player and Macca looks a new player. So I am delighted with that." So why don't you pick all three then Kev? Sorry, I forgot - the Michael Mafia have threatened you with a bed full of horse parts unless Duberry and Ricketts continue to get their first team starts.
September 02: Darlington are trying to lure Craig Hignett back to the north-east. Former Boro midfielder Hignett is on a match-by-match deal at Elland Road, but has yet to make a first-team appearance. Manager David Hodgson told the local paper that the Quakers were hopeful of winning the player's signature: "We're first in the queue if Leeds don't extend his deal. He has a lot to offer and we would love to have him."
September 02: The reserves went down 1-2 at home to West Brom in front of a sparse crowd at Wakefield tonight, but it wasn't all doom and gloom. Matthew Spring played the full 90 minutes, and although he wasn't exactly going full-blooded in to every tackle, had a decent enough game. Serge Branco's performance was probably the highlight for the watching Kevin Blackwell though - setting up Aaron Lennon's goal just before half-time and having a variety of good touches throughout the game. Craig Hignett did very little, and was replaced by Simon Johnson with 20 minutes to go, and Danny Cadamarteri managed 80 minutes on the pitch but still looks well short of match readiness.
September 01: Lucas Radebe has said that he will not be forcing the pace in order to get back out on the park before his injury has properly healed. Speaking in his column in www.kickoff.com, he said that he was keen to further his footballing education and put some more work in towards his coaching badges to lay the foundations of his post-playing career. He also had some praise for the new boss: "I believe that in Kevin Blackwell I have a manager from whom I can learn a lot and I am sure from various discussions we have had to date that he is happy to help me learn. He too learnt from some of the best coaches in England and has progressed to where he is today as first team manager at Leeds."
September 01: Serge Branco has finally received international clearance to join Leeds United following a protracted wait for German bureaucracy to process his departure from Stuttgart. Branco gets squad number 14 - but Kevin Blackwell says that he wants to make sure the player has settled in before giving him his first team debut. Blackwell said: "We all saw what happened last season when foreign players were put straight into the team. Serge has to get used to his new surroundings, work on his fitness and settle in." Branco revealed that he'd picked Leeds ahead of QPR - with whom he'd played two friendlies earlier in the summer - on the advice of Frankfurt technical director Tony Woodcock. He said: "I can play left-back, wide left and I am one of those players the manager can use in many positions in midfield. Some people have told me I play like Claude Makelele; I make many runs and create many options for people. I will play any position if I have to. If the manager gives me a chance I will show all the Leeds fans what I can do and then I think I will have a chance to stay in the team."
September 01: Various members of the squad have been coming out in the press and asking fans and reporters to give them a bit more time to get to know each other before writing the team off. Stephen Crainey said: "New faces in the dressing room will help - but there's a lot of new faces in the dressing room at the moment, including myself, and it takes time to gel. We want it to happen straight away but it just doesn't happen as easy as that. I am sure once the boys have been together for a while it will all come good." Meanwhile, Brian Deane looked for an excuse for the poor start to the season. He said: "The squad has been assembled in a short time so you can't expect everything to be up and running straightaway. This is a massive club and sometimes people expect instant success. It's hard because the club has been through a massive change, but if you can't handle that kind of pressure you shouldn't be at a club like this." And Deane insists that the strikers will start scoring soon. He said: "We have created chances, they might not have been clean cut, but we're in the process of rebuilding at this club and were making sure we're being solid first. People might want to make a big deal about the lack of goals, but they will come. The strikers havent scored, but you learn over time that things can change in an instant - it's more important the goals come, where they come from doesn't really matter.
September 01: Veteran striker Bob Taylor has signed for Conference side Tamworth. Taylor was released by Cheltenham in the summer, and has signed on after getting over an injury sustained in pre-season. Taylor could go straight into the squad for the visit of Farnborough on Saturday.
|2009:||March, February, January|
|2008:||December, November, October, September, August, July, May, April, March|
|2007:||August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January|
|2006:||December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January|
|2005:||December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January|
|2004:||December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January|
|2003:||December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January|
|2002:||December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January|
|2001:||December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January|
|2000:||December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January|
|1999:||December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January|