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October 31: Kevin Blackwell's side gave a distinctly unimpressive performance against the league leaders today. Despite the addition of new signing David Healy, it was once again painfully obvious that the real problem lies in midfield. Brian Deane did get a few chances with his head - but he couldn't do much more than glance the ball into John Filan's arms on each occasion. He did squander the best chance of the afternoon when he managed a similarly direct backpass to their keeper after David Healy made some space down the left and cut the ball back to Deane inside the box. But in the end we just couldn't compete where it mattered and blew another three home points.
October 30: Former Leeds boss David O'Leary has admitted making a few mistakes in the dog days of his reign at Leeds. He said: "In my last year at Leeds I became a right idiot, someone who wasn't me. I had become a real rent-a-quote, never out of the papers. We were right up there competing with Manchester United and Arsenal and there was me spouting off about Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger. I mean, who was I to start talking about them? In the lead up to matches against those sides, I shouldn't even have given an opinion." And he also points out something that clearly never happened at Elland Road: "The one thing I can say about my chairman here is that he has never tried to pick a team for me. He might have stopped me trying to buy a player once or twice but he has never tried to influence me on the football side. He knows how it works." And despite having to work with Deadly Doug, it seems that the current grass is a bit greener than it used to be: If there's one thing I've got here it's an honest bunch of lads who will work very hard. "When I look back to my last year at Leeds, putting out fires all the time with the court case and trying to qualify for Europe - compared to that this is an easy place to manage."
October 30: Despite the seeming reluctance of the board to agree to move forward with the Nova group's takeover attempt, Sebastian Sainsbury is defiant in his insistence that his consortium has the funds and will meet the board's conditions early next week. He said: "We have every intention of fulfilling the requirements laid down by the board and I am looking forward to making another statement on Tuesday. I am in the process of finalising the proof of funds." He went on: "The reaction over the last 24 hours to what we are trying to do has been extraordinary but it has confirmed to me what a great club Leeds United is." Rumours persist that once again the board is split between Gerald Krasner and Melvyn Helme on one side, and the majority owners Simon Morris and Melvyn Levi on the other side will prove the big stumbling block in the sale.
October 30: Kevin Blackwell was very happy to see David Healy turn up at Elland Road after such a long pursuit - and had some words of praise for the board after last week's contretemps over player discipline. He said: "It took a long time and the problem we have is that when the name 'Leeds United' is mentioned it adds noughts and zeroes to the fee. They forget we are skint. There was a time when we could have gone out and got David Healy in a morning but now we have to wheel and deal and negotiate to raise funds.I have got to thank the board for dipping into their own pockets to get David Healy. I believe David, who has just turned 25, has the best years of his career coming up." Healy has been given the number 9 shirt and is expected to go straight into the starting line-up for the game against Wigan. He said: "It has been a long few weeks since I heard about the interest but I am finally here. Leeds are a massive club with a great history and at this stage of my career it is a good stepping stone for me. Preston are ahead of Leeds at the minute but I see Leeds as a club who will be pushing for the Premiership."
October 30: Former Leeds keeper Paul Robinson is having a bit of marital strife after he confessed to having an affair in the run-up to his wedding. Less than a fortnight after tying the knot, he told his wife Rebecca that he had been seeing a dance teacher, and for some strange reason his wife blew her top and walked out. To top it all, he conceded two goals today in front of Sven as Fulham turned over a toothless Spurs side at Craven Cottage.
October 30: David Healy has apparently got a minor case of conjunctivitis but will still be okay to start tomorrow's game against Wigan. Matthew Kilgallon returns from suspension, but Paul Butler misses a second game for his ludicrous dismissal last weekend. Simon Walton is likely to revert to his midfield role, allowing Kilgallon to play at centreback and Danny Pugh continuing at left back in the absence of the injured Stephen Crainey. Matthew Spring has been playing through the pain and could get a chance to prove that he is our best creative hope in the middle of the park. For Wigan, Emerson Thome is struggling to make the game with a hamstring strain, but Nicky Eaden is back in contention after recovering from a hamstring pull of his own.
October 30: Friday night saw Sheffield United blitz Crewe to take a 0-3 lead after just 12 minutes - the second and third goals coming from Andy Gray and Danny Cadamarteri - but it was a lot tougher from then on as they hung on for a 2-3 win. Today there were goals for JFH: it might be credited as an own goal, but I thought it was a superb bit of geometry in action as he cunningly used a Charlton defender to steer the ball around their keeper on the way to a rare win in South London. Clyde Wijnhard scored the only goal of the game from the spot for Darlo as they beat Wycombe 1-0 at home. Jamie Forrester sparked a late late comeback for Bristol Rovers at Boston, scoring in the 88th minute and then seeing team-mate Junior Agogo equalise in the last minute. Finally Ligue 1 in France saw Cyril Chapuis square the match for AC Ajaccio in their home clash with Nantes, the game ending 1-1.
October 29: So just who is behind this takeover bid then? Although Sebastian Sainsbury is the public face of the consortium, there were several questions raised in the press today about the identity of the US side. Nova Financial Partners is a recently-formed Philadelphia-based group, apparently put together for the purposes of this bid. But the credibility of Burl Sheppard - the only specific name identified with this group - has come under scrutiny. He has been described as a "telecoms executive", a "high tech fundraiser" or alternatively as a middle manager in a telecoms company, where a former colleague "I think that's a hoot" when told he was part of a multi-million dollar financial consortium planning to buy a sports team. Sainsbury has interests in exclusive restaurants and bars im London and is also known for his interest in art collecting. Just why they would want to put some money into Leeds is another question: part of their plan appears to be to use the Leeds United "brand" to sell telecoms products in Europe. In which case, despite the fact that the very foundation of our national economy frequently seems to be selling airtime, handsets and ringtones, the alarm bells should be ringing for this bid.
October 29: Kevin Blackwell's hopes of picking up some experience for the side in the shape of Don Hutchison have been dashed by an injury crisis at West Ham. Alan Pardew called off the loan move after Sergei Rebrov picked up an injury in the Hammers' Carling Cup defeat against Chelsea and with Teddy Sheringham also a doubt for the weekend's games. Pardew said: "Don Hutchison was going to go out on loan for a month but I have held him back because he is going to be involved now, with Teddy also missing. We were looking to loan him for a month to get him up to speed - but that doesn't suit us now."
October 29: David Healy completed his move to Elland Road today after he passed his medical and agreed personal terms with the club. With all the usual negotiating skills which have been a characteristic of Leeds' board over the last few years, the club are understood to have more or less capitulated to Preston's terms despite the fact that the player can walk for free at the end of the season - which means around £650,000 although probably paid in instalments. Preston chairman Derek Shaw said: "David told both myself and manager Billy Davies that he wanted to leave and felt Leeds were a big club with lots of potential. As soon as he made that clear we had to make sure we got the best deal for Preston. Although we intend to keep the figure undisclosed as we intend to go into the market, we have reached the figure we wanted and will now move on and put this business behind us."
October 29: Derbyshire police have caused Leeds' trip to Pride Park to be shifted because they're just too busy to cover the game on its scheduled weekend date of Saturday 19 March. Instead, the game will now be played on Wednesday 26 January with a 1945 KO. I suppose I should be grateful, since the new arrival at Jabba Towers is due sometime around mid-March - but if Derbyshire police can't cope with the arrival of a few happy and relaxed Leeds fans on the outskirts of their town on a Saturday afternoon, then I really hope that nothing serious happens that needs their attention, like someone dropping litter on the High Street or crossing the road when the red man is showing.
October 28: David Healy is having a medical today after Leeds and Preston finally agreed terms for the striker's transfer. Leeds had made three unacceptable offers for the player, and Kevin Blackwell's determination to capture him was redoubled when he saw him score a spectacular goal at Windsor Park earlier this month. Speaking on the club's official website, Preston chairman Derek Shaw said: "Leeds United have finally come back to me and offered what I asked them for two weeks ago. We have stood firm and held out for a fee we feel is acceptable for a player of David's standard, who would have been able to walk away on a free transfer in the summer. David told both myself and Billy [Davies - PNE manager] that he wanted to leave the club and felt that Leeds were a big club with a lot of potential and as soon as he made that clear we just had to make sure we got a deal that was in the best interests of PNE." He went on: "Although we intend to keep the fee undisclosed, as we intend to go to market, we have reached the figure we wanted and will now move on and put this business behind us."
October 28: This morning's Yorkshire Post reports that an Anglo-American group are set to take over at Elland Road and finally end the continuing uncertainty over the club's financial future. The Krasner consortium had borrowed heavily to fund their own takeover back in March, and although they are to be applauded for stepping in to keep the club afloat and have significantly reduced both debts and outgoings, they never had access to the sort of cash that would draw a line under the debt problems, finance some slightly more ambitious team rebuilding and give Kevin Blackwell a chance of taking the club back into the Premier League. It was widely believed that the board only had enough money in the bank to continue trading up to November or December - and the sale of Thorp Arch, followed by the agreement to sell land next to Elland Road to build a casino were pointers to their desperate need to bring in money up front rather than focus on long-term income streams. A statement issued by chairman Gerald Krasner this morning said: "The position of the club remains the same, we are continuing to negotiate with various parties. As there is a board meeting later today no statement will be issued at the present time."
October 28: The leader of the consortium looking to take over at Elland Road has issued a stark warning to the current board and the fans that the only alternative to the offer he has put on the table is a continued run of asset sales and ultimately the end of the club. Sebastian Sainsbury - grandson of the founder of the supermarket chain - said: "The board has two options - the option we have put forward or that of selling Elland Road, the pride and joy of Leeds United for the past 85 years. They have to make a decision in the best interests of the shareholders, the players and particularly the fans." He said that he wanted to work with the fans, and although he knew he would have a public profile, he wanted to concentrate on running the club rather than promoting himself. He added a little dig at Krasner's team, saying: "In three months of negotiations I have yet to sit in the same room with more than two members of the Leeds board at any one time. I don't know how you can close a deal in those situations. Today is the first time they will all have sat in the same room and discussed our offer."
October 28: The reserves went down 0-1 at Forest last night, despite enjoying a lot of possession. Scott Carson got an outing in goal, and he did well but couldn't stop the home side grabbing a second-half winner.
October 28: The board have demanded that Sebastian Sainsbury prove to them that he has the money available to fund a takeover before they take any discussions further. After this afternoon's board meeting, Gerald Krasner said: "The board of Leeds United confirms that a number of discussions are continuing with various parties, and at this stage no agreement has been signed. We have always insisted that any interested party must be able to confirm that the necessary funds are available in order to complete any transaction. Despite much press speculation, as we stand now, no party has met our conditions." However the other side are indicating that not only do they have the funds, but they're getting a bit frustrated at what they see as delaying tactics by the current board. Sebastian Sainsbury said: "On Tuesday morning we made a formal offer to buy Leeds and agreed terms and conditions and it would appear today the conditions have changed. They said [it was because] of proof of funds but they were offered a Â£500,000 non-refundable deposit on Wednesday. If that money didn't arrive they could tear up any agreement we had." Speaking on BBC Radio, he added: "We are the right people to take over the club. We will deliver proof of funds. We are not giving up hope, we still have a team in Leeds sitting there waiting to do a deal. I'd like to deliver proof of funds tomorrow, but more realistically it will be on Monday." They certainly sound more serious than any of the previous would-be buyers - and the board owe it to the fans (and to their own future reputations) to give these new investors every opportunity to complete the rescue job which they started earlier in the year.
October 27: Well, it was a bit one-sided for much of the game last night, but Leeds battled well and Kevin Blackwell was proud of what his young team achieved. Neil Sullivan was under siege for a large part of the first half, but made some good saves and eventually the defence got its act together. Leeds had a goal disallowed for offside and a good penalty shout for a handball turned down and by the end the game was a lot more even. Blackwell said: "It was nice to see Portsmouth hanging on at the end. It was a bit different to last season when we lost 6-1 here. That was chaos but this time we showed heart and desire. And the young lads came in and showed that, yes, maybe they do have what it takes to play at this level." He went on: "I'm proud of these lads because we have not got a lot of options with suspensions and injuries and we were up against a team with four of the finest strikers in the league. Yet I thought we coped better than Tottenham did with them in a game I came to watch a few weeks ago." Pompey assistant boss Jim Smith was pleased with the result but was furious that Kamara took off his shirt and picked up a booking after he scored his goal for the second time in two games. He said: "If I knew the Italian for idiot that's what I'd call him. Obviously he's got to learn but he's been told. He's a talented player, no doubt about that but it is no good if he keeps getting booked. I think we are looking for some superglue to stick his shirt to his shorts."
October 27: Don Hutchison's loan move to Leeds was in the balance tonight as he was expected to be playing for West Ham against Chelsea before Alan Pardew makes up his mind on whether or not to allow the loan to go ahead. Apparently there's some competition for the Scottish midfielder, but Kevin Blackwell is hoping that his bid will be successful, even if the Hammers are required to continue to pay a cut of the player's wages during his loan spell.
October 27: Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell praised Gary Kelly's performance in particular in last night's game. Blackwell said: "Kells was superb last night. People knock him at times, but he's given me everything since I came to this club and I think he's been tremendous. He's helped people along and at times when we needed talking last night he gave it to us. The quality of his crosses caused Portsmouth problems. We'd got a plan, and we said to Brian Deane we knew what we wanted from him. Gary got the balls in for Brian in the areas we wanted and he had some good chances." Now all we need is for him to keep doing it....
October 26: Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell says that his team will go for it at Fratton Park tonight, despite the fact that he is desperately short-handed. After recalling everyone bar Michael Duberry from loan spells, Blackwell said: "The bus driver has brought his boots so he could start. These things always happen when you don't want them to but you have to get on with things because you don't really have a choice." He added: "Whoever goes out there I expect them to do their very best, and when you do get injuries or suspensions it becomes an opportunity for someone else to shine. This is a test for us, it would have been without all the problems that have come along in the past few days but we have to get on with it."
October 26: The proposed deal with US-based Nova Financial Partners seems to be moving closer, with Burl Sheppard's group ready to invest £20 million in the club. Given that Krasner's consortium have put very little of their own money in, he'll probably want slightly more than a seat on the board for his investment, and the precise details of the deal are expected to be hammered out when a delegation from Leeds travels out to the States this week. Watch this space...
October 26: Ex-Leeds player and former Stockport boss Carlton Palmer has put his name into the hat for the vacant job at Shrewsbury. Jimmy Quinn split with the club last week, and Palmer is one of several applicants including the likes of Chris Turner, Bobby Gould and Mark Wright. He said: "I have applied. Jimmy did a great job there but this is sometimes how things work out."
October 26: Kevin Blackwell has hit out at director Melvyn Helme's criticism of the team's disciplinary record. Helme showed scant understanding of football or man management when he publicly declared he would be talking to the manager and team after the pile of cards picked up from the moron in the middle at Brighton. But Blackwell isn't taking that sort of advice from just anybody. He said: "There is no problem whatsoever with discipline in my team and anyone who thinks otherwise should really be saying it to my face. Prior to Saturday's game, I think we had the third best disciplinary record in the division so it is wrong to comment on one game in isolation. I am not even going to mention it to the players."
October 26: Kevin Blackwell's makeshift army are certainly hoping they'll be up to the challenge at Fratton Park tonight. Frazer Richardson says it's a good thing to be able to play a Premier League team again: "It's an opportunity for us to show what we can do. It will be a good test, but the message will be to go out and express ourselves and do our best... There are probably no expectations from people, but we'll be giving it our best and we'll try and do what we've been doing." The two young Simons - Johnson and Walton - will also be given the chance to shine by Kevin Blackwell. He said that Johnson was likely to play in midfield: "It's not Simon's usual role, but it's a case of mixing and matching and I know he'll give it his all. We sent him up to Sunderland to gain some experience and let's hope that he comes back and shows us what he can do." Walton was likely to drop into his original role of centreback, while Danny Pugh would replace Matthew Kilgallon at left back: "It shows the versatility of the boy that he can go into a different role in such a competitive level of football and it's been a massive learning curve for him. In Danny's case he will go back into the role we originally brought him in for and it's a position he knows and understands well." Kilgallon meanwhile is desperately unhappy to be missing out: "I'm gutted because I thought I was doing a decent job. I've done okay in the last few games and on Saturday there were no crosses from the right so I thought I did my job.It was my first sending-off ever and I've hardly been booked." Like most of us with eyes, Killa thought that the first card was very harsh: "We both slid in and I've got the ball first. It was a hard tackle, but it's a man's game." Kilgallon will be keeping his fingers crossed that he will still have a chance to make the team at the weekend: even if Stephen Crainey is fit, Paul Butler's continuing suspension will give him the chance to stake his claim in the middle of the defence.
October 25: Kevin Blackwell and Paul Butler were prominent members of the Unhappy Gang after Saturday's defeat by Brighton. Blackwell was not offering any excuses for the team's defeat though - he said: "I am very angry with them because it's the worst they've played all season. We were so off the pace, Brighton were up for the battle and if you don't win the battle you can't play football. We did not win that battle and came off significantly second best." He went on: "I am not going to single anybody out because it is a team game, and we were not good enough and got what we deserved - nothing." But Blackwell did point the finger at the appalling referee - although he also made it clear that the players should have known better. He said: "When the referee is as bad as this fella you keep your mouth shut, and we didn't do that so we got punished... But there was no swearing and if he puts it in his report that there was I will have to challenge it at the highest level." Paul Butler concurred - and was amazed that he had found himself on the receiving end of a straight red card for "foul and abusive language". An absence of video evidence means that Butler won't be lodging an appeal against the consequent two-match ban, but he said: "That's an absolute lie, I have got witnesses on the pitch that can prove I never did that. I have never sworn at a linesman in my life, I have never done it before and I would never do it. I am captain of Leeds United and I would never swear that way... The way he sent me off was a joke." He said that the ref had been unreasonable throughout the game - refusing any attempt from the club captain to communicate. "I tried talking to him in the first half and he said that I should shut up or he would book me. So when he's like that, what can you do? We have had a couple of bad referees this year so we should be used to it by now." Leeds director Melvyn Helme has clearly not attended many football matches in his life, since he seems to think that there's something the players can do differently that will change the way the refs behave - but from what we've seen this season it's clear that the majority of the officials at this level are even more random and capricious than our old friend Uriah Rennie. Helme said: "The directors of Leeds United are not too enamored with the number of bookings we have had today. It is not a policy that we pick up these sort of things, a lot of which were for trivial offences. I will be speaking to my colleagues on the board and we will be having a word with Kevin - the players have got to be more disciplined. I think the lack of concentration and discipline may have cost us the game today and it is not something we would wish to see." I suggest Mr Helme concentrates his efforts on the financial side of things if that's the sort of thing he is going to come out with in the future - hopefully he will demonstrate greater knowledge of balance sheets and land sales than he has done of the 90 minutes for which the whole business enterprise exists.
October 25: Simon Johnson and Andy Keogh have been recalled from their loan spells at Sunderland and Scunthorpe respectively as Kevin Blackwell struggles to come to terms with the departure of Brett Ormerod and the suspension of Matthew Kilgallon and Paul Butler for tomorrow night's game. Julian Joachim should be available after being at his wife's bedside while she was in labour at the weekend, but Blackwell will have to make some changes to the squad on Tuesday with Jamie Winter also coming down to the South Coast to join up with the rest of the team. Martin Woods is cup-tied for the Pompey game, and although Jamie McMaster's loan spell at Swindon has ended, he came on as a sub and lasted just 4 minutes against Barnsley at the weekend after a collision with a team-mate left him with his neck in a brace as he left the ground.
October 25: Leeds Ladies were held to a goalless draw by Bristol City at the weekend in the only top-flight game to survive the weather. Karen Walker nearly managed to break the deadlock, but Bristol's new American keeper was on top form. The Academy side drew 2-2 with Boro after being 0-2 down halfway into the first half. Scott Gardner's shot was spilled by the Boro keeper to give Leeds hope in the second half, and top scorer Kevin Smith squared it shortly afterwards.
October 25: With some big Premier League games coming up, Harry Redknapp will not be fielding his full first team tomorrow night. Youngster Jamie Ashdown will be given a chance between the sticks, and Arjan de Zeeuw could make his first full appearance for the side after an injury lay-off. With Paul Butler, Brett Ormerod and Matthew Kilgallon all out of contention - in addition to Stephen Crainey and Jermaine Wright, we could see something like: Sullivan; Kelly, Walton, Carlisle, Pugh; Richardson, Gregan, Spring, Lennon; Deane, Joachim as probably our strongest line-up - but with Jamie Winter and Andy Keogh both in line for a place on the bench and maybe a first-team debut.
October 24: The club today moved to clarify its position on the recent Home Office report on the behaviour of its fans. A statement from the club was issued as follows: Leeds United Football Club is the most supported club in the Coca-Cola Championship. The club has a very large, loyal following of fans who support The Whites at both home and away games. The number of fans arrested, as stated in the latest Home Office report, is a tiny minority who cause trouble and as a result are dealt with by police authorities. Leeds United works with the West Yorkshire Police and numerous police forces at away venues to minimise disorders, which can ultimately ruin the enjoyment of the game for genuine fans. With tens of thousands of fans worldwide, it is unfortunate that one per cent of those may cause trouble. The remaining 99 per cent are true fans and ambassadors for the club. However, this small percentage of trouble makers gives football a bad name, the Leeds United board takes a very dim view of hooliganism and will take appropriate action to deal with trouble makers.
October 24: Leeds finance director Melvyn Helme says that the club are on the point of attracting new investment. Recent reports have linked Miami businesman Burl Sheppard with the club, and although Helme would not confirm any names, he said: "Talks with a number of parties have reached an advanced stage... I'm not sure which party will come forward in the end." To the surprise of nobody who looked at the people involved and the financial situation when the current board took over, it seems that they view the way out of debt as a property development play. Helme said: "My dream is for Elland Road to be substantially developed. Casinos are the first part of the jigsaw and I see money coming into the club."
October 23: Trains delayed or converted to buses, weather awful, joke stadium, joke ref, joke performance by both sides. In short, a truly wonderful day out. Clueless performance by just about everybody wearing a Leeds shirt (though the home side weren't exactly any better), and although Killa was very unlucky to pick up his first yellow card, he should have known better than to tempt the moron in the black for his second. As for Butler's pair of injury-time cards for telling the ref what he thought of him - it was understandable but he should be experienced enough to know that he should leave that side of the game to the fans. The only vaguely positive thing I can find to say about the whole experience (beer and company apart) was that after the game, the police who held us back were probably the most professional and sensible bunch we've had in years: they talked to us instead of shouting and waving batons, they did their best to get the useless train company to get a rail replacement bus to come up to us - and when that looked like being a lost cause they shrugged their shoulders and said that if anyone didn't want to wait that was fine by them. In short, they treated us like adults and didn't have any trouble as a result. But this was probabl a one-off: expect the same threats of violence and arrest from the boys in blue at Pompey on Tuesday night if last year's visit is anything to go by.
October 22: Brett Ormerod will play his last game for Leeds - in this loan spell at least - on Saturday, and then faces a sprint along the south coast to join up with his team-mates at Southampton as they prepare to face Birmingham City on Sunday. He's clearly enjoyed his time at Elland Road, and is hoping to finish with a flourish to say thank you for the support he has received. He said: "When I came to Leeds I came with the intention of stopping as long as possible. I wanted to stay here for three months at least to try and get into the game. I hadn't come here half-heartedly just hoping to get some games in, I came here with the intention to do well and stop as long as I could. Unfortunately they've had a bit of bad luck down there with the striker situation but that's just the way football goes. I am looking forward to going back but I would also be delighted to stay here - it's just one of those things and you have to get on with it." And he adds: "My only disappointment is that I could have scored a few goals - I am still having nightmares about that missed penalty. Of course it would be great to sign off with a goal against Brighton but I would take the three points rather than me scoring... Another thing is they are a great set of supporters here, they were unbelievable again against Reading and that makes it a brilliant club to be at. I have loved it here, it really is a massive club and I like to think I have played my part for the team."
October 22: Martin Woods has been recalled from his loan spell at Hartlepool as Kevin Blackwell battles to field a full, fit squad for the game at Brighton tomorrow and the trip to Pompey in the cup next week as the team remain on the south coast. Blackwell said: "We had no choce but to recall Woodsy just so we can fill the bus and have cover in case we lose somebody before the game." Jermaine Wright and Stephen Crainey remain out of the picture for a couple of weeks, so the main question for Blackwell will be whether or not to persist with Michael Ricketts ahead of Brian Deane, or whether to bring in the pace of Julian Joachim and Aaron Lennon. Meanwhile, Henry McStay will have a second month on loan at Halifax and is now scheduled to be there until the end of next month, and has also been cleared to play in the FA Cup if needed.
October 22: Leeds have poured cold water on rumours doing the rounds that Eirik Bakke had failed to make any sort of recovery from his summer op and was on the point of retiring from professional football. After internet speculation over the last couple of days, the club issued a statement from Kevin Blackwell saying: "There's no truth in these reports whatsoever, Eirik is making good progress and we hope to see him back in action soon." Realistically, soon will be well into next year though - he's not even started running yet so non-contact games and reserve outings will be well in the future.
October 21: Apparently my preferred mode of transport to football matches makes me one of the most wanted men in the country. British Transport Police say that Leeds fans who travel by train are top of their league table for causing trouble. They say there have been four cases of violent disorder at train stations and nine "anti-social behaviour" incidents, leading to ten arrests. Now call me old-fashioned, but "violent disorder" sounds like it encompasses more than one person having a go, so how come there are so few arrests? Are these people so crap at their jobs that they stand around watching things kick off and somehow it slips their mind to grab the thugs and stick them in the back of a van? Sorry - of course they're far too busy waving batons and attack dogs at absolutely anybody and everybody who gets off a train at the wrong stop, thus ensuring that they alienate the very people whose help would be most useful in rooting out the real troublemakers. And they're promising even more hassle for the innocent in the name of trying to find the guilty: they say there will be special units, drug dogs and banning orders. With only 700 of us at Brighton tomorrow, will we get a sensible reception - or will we face the same sort of Robocop nonsense we had at Crewe, Plymouth, Pompey....
October 21: Leeds keeper Neil Sullivan reckons he still has room for improvement - despite Leeds having the best defensive record in the division. After a couple of seasons on the sidelines, Sullivan is happy to be back as a first-choice keeper. He said: "I feel I have improved by playing regularly again and I think I can get better. I don't regret my time at Chelsea. They had some great players who I was training with every day and that is bound to make you better." A word of praise too for goalkeeping coach Martin Hodge - Sullivan said: "He spends a lot of time with me, not just working hard on the training ground but also talking to me and watching videos. I like his approach and he is definitely helping me."
October 21: Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell praised the efforts of young Simon Walton as being "heroic". He tempered praise for his performance at Reading - and throughout the season - with a bit of criticism, but has been hugely impressed with how the youngster has handled himself this season. Blackwell said: "Simon looked really experienced one minute at Reading and inexperienced the next. He did some good things, but gave the ball away a bit at times. But the kid was at school this time last year and he's performing like a hero for me. I can't ask any more than that and I was delighted to see him get the goal because I know how much it means to him. Break him in half, and he is Leeds. That's what we need, getting back to our own."
October 21: Brighton head honcho Martin Perry is asking Leeds fans without tickets to stay at home on Saturday. With only 700 tickets allocated to away supporters at the Withdean, Leeds will have less than a quarter of the normal number of travelling supporters, but Perry said that those without tickets would be wasting their time if they travelled in hope of getting in. He said: "Leeds have a terrific away support. I'm quite sure they could have sold their allocation several times over, but because of the huge restrictions we operate under at Withdean and a limited capacity we can only accommodate 700 away supporters. Until we get the go ahead for our new stadium this will always be the case. We are aware there may be some Leeds supporters without tickets who are contemplating travelling for this fixture, but I have to tell them they are wasting their time and money. There are absolutely no vantage points outside of the stadium and those without tickets will not get access to the ground. The match, like all of our home games, is completely sold out for both home and away supporters. We wish we were in a position to offer more tickets to both Leeds and Albion fans and give them the chance to see this eagerly awaited fixture, but until we get to our new stadium this is not possible."
October 21: Kevin Blackwell is down to the bare bones of a fit squad after Brett Ormerod's loan spell ending this weekend. He's still looking for a new striker despite professing some degree of satisfaction with Michael Ricketts' turgid display on Tuesday. He said: "Tuesday was the best Michael has played this season. But Michael has got to do more and every player has to do more. They are the standards I'm setting. We still lack a bit of knowledge in the side, but with the exception of Sean Gregan it is a young midfield and they are learning as they go along." Leeds were linked today with a move for West Ham's Don Hutchison - but I'm told that he was by far and away the worst player on the pitch for the Hammers' reserve side in last night's game, so that doesn't exactly sound promising.
October 21: Leeds reserves drew 1-1 with Birmingham in Wakefield tonight. Jamie Winter was the nearest thing to a first-teamer in a very young Leeds side so it's not a bad result for Steve Agnew's team. More later...
October 20: There's an interview in last night's YEP with young midfielder Simon Walton - well worth a read. He sounds a bit Battyish in his approach: "I try not to hold back and be like everyone else. If you go into your shell and act like a boy rather than a man you will get found out in these games, especially against high-quality players. You've got to stick up for yourself and put your foot in sometimes. You can't hide, you have to be like everybody else." And he points out just how rapid and unexpected his rise has been: "To think I used to sit in the East Stand two years ago and watch Leeds - now I'm one of those players I used to watch. It'll probably only sink in when I'm about 35 when I retire. It's a dream come true."
October 20: Kevin Blackwell says that he's hugely happy with the way his young players have responded to the challenges being thrown at them - most recently last night's dogged determination to hang on to a point at Reading. He said: "I'm pleased with the point because the lads showed great fortitude. Many sides would have crumbled under that pressure from Reading who have a great home record - they are a tough side who've been together for two or three years." Blackwell is still trying to bring in new faces though, and with Brett Ormerod's return to Southampton and the continuing poor form of Michael Ricketts, he needs to make some big decisions by the weekend.
October 20: Leeds' latest goal hero Simon Walton can't even remember how he managed to open the scoring - and pick up his first senior goal into the bargain - at Reading last night. He said: "I just can't remember what the goal was like or what happened afterwards. I think I must have run the length of the pitch to celebrate, so I'll get some stick for that." He says that he knows he needs to improve his own game, but was happy with another good result away from home: "It's been a hard game because they are a footballing team, they like to pass it about but I like to think that we stopped them playing as much as we can and that's how we got a result."
October 20: Leeds old boys Stephen McPhail and Jacob Burns didn't have a good night as Barnsley slumped to a 1-3 home defeat to Doncaster. Presumably Peter Ridsdale wasn't best happy either - what a shame. McPhail went off injured after just 6 minutes - so at least he can escape some of the responsibility for the result, which included two OGs for the visitors and two yellow cards for Burns, who received his marching orders late in the second half.
October 19: Not for the first time in our history, we're being told to sit down for tonight's game. The Football Licensing Authority have concerns about safety when there are so many people standing in a sitting area. So why don't they just take the seats out and make it safer for all concerned? Although some people just stand because they want to, a large number of people stand because the sight lines are so poor and given that they have just forked out twenty-odd quid for a ticket are understandably keen to be able to see the game. We're being threatened with a reduction in our ticket allocation for next season's visit to Reading unless we behave. Sounds like an incentive to win promotion to me and avoid the problem.
October 19: Michael Ricketts was given a rocket by Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell after yet another lacklustre performance on Saturday. Blackwell has warned the striker that he could face a repeat of his time languishing in the reserves at Boro unless he can show some decent form. Blackwell said: "I knew it would be a challenge for Michael coming here after he had a rough time at Middlesbrough. There's no doubt he is frustrating to one and all. He has unbelievable ability but we would like to see more of it than we have so far. We hoped his nightmare at Middlesbrough was behind him but I've told him it could come back if he doesn't do a bit more than he has." Ouch! That's just about the harshest criticism I've heard of a player from a Leeds manager in years! Almost makes me sympathetic to the big lunk.
October 19: Kevin Blackwell has told Matthew Kilgallon he has the chance to show he is worth his place in the starting line-up as Stephen Crainey is set to be out of action for at least a couple of weeks. Kilgallon has hinted that he's not that happy about barely making the subs bench when he is seen as good enough for the England U-21 side, but Blackwell said: "I said to Killa in training that the opportunity has arisen for him now and it is down to him to grab it. I hope that when Stephen Crainey gets fit he can't get back in the side, that has to happen at Leeds because that kind of healty competition for places has got to happen. It allows no-one to rest on their laurels. I hope Killa is still here in six weeks playing at left-back because if he is then he will have been playing very well." Kilgallon would prefer to play at his natural position of centreback, but said: "I have just got to keep doing a job for the team and that means I have just got to keep going at left-back. I thought I did alright against Preston but I know I can do better, but if I get my chance at centre-half then I'm definitely going to take it and hopefully stay in there, but of course I will still do a job at left-back... But I love playing football and I love playing for Leeds United, so as long as I am putting that famous white shirt on then I'm happy enough."
October 19: Despite the fact that Preston have made it clear they aren't going to be pushed into selling David Healy on the cheap, Kevin Blackwell still believes the clubs can come to an arrangement to transfer the striker to Elland Road. Blackwell said: "I know we are not a million miles away. We are very close to doing something, however, until it's done it isn't done and that's the frustration. The tenacity amongst the team and the will to work hard for each other whilst grinding out results without the likes of David Healy means we will carry on doing just that until the situation can be resolved one way or another. At the point when it completely breaks down I will look at other targets, which I have got to start to do anyway because the whole thing is dragging on." Doesn't say much for his opinion of the other striking options, does it? He's also hoping to persuade Saints to allow Brett Ormerod to stay on, and was happy that the player himself would have been more than content to stay on. Blackwell said: "Everybody is proud that Brett wants to stay here, he enjoys everything about the football club, he's a northern lad and we'll be disappointed to lose him. I have said it before that as a club, if we are to move forward, then these are the kind of players we should be looking to attract and hopefully sign."
October 19: An early goal from Simon Walton got Leeds off to a great start tonight - but long spells of Reading pressure were helped by another sub-par performance from Michael Ricketts up front, and it wasn't until the second half subs came on that Leeds started to look more comfortable. Still, an away point against a high-flying promotion-contending side ain't to be sniffed at...
October 18: With the government hoping to liberalise the gambling laws to make it even easier for big business to part the working man from his hard-earned cash, LUFC are cashing in. Stanley Leisure have purchased a plot of land adjoining Elland Road from the club for around Â£5 million. They plan to build a giant new casino complex, with a hotel, bars and a restaurant and see Elland Road's location as ideal for the sort of out-of-town development envisioned by the White Paper. Stanley Leisure boss Bob Wiper said: "We are delighted to announce the development of this exceptional site in Leeds which we believe is the best location for a casino in the north of England. We plan to build an exciting casino complex, to rival any other development in the UK, which will be a huge entertainment attraction of which the region can be proud. It is expected that this project will be complete by the end of 2007, subject to planning and deregulation. We estimate that the complex will create over 1,000 new jobs in addition to the jobs associated with the development phase." It's not clear yet if there will be a LUFC theme to the casino, or just how shocked Peter Ridsdale will be if he attends and finds that he has to gamble using his own money and is not handed a wallet stuffed full of cash as he walks out having blown his pension by calling "Twist" with 21 showing on the blackjack table. There are already plans afoot for the Las Vegas Sands group to build a similar complex in Hull, with MGM Mirage interested in Bramall Lane and South African Sun International looking at the Don Valley Stadium - never mind the fact that there are three other sites on the outskirts of Leeds city centre - so they'll face plenty of competition should the project ever get off the ground. Grand plans at Elland Road have the habit of going astray - anyone remember the great ice hockey team that was going to grace the new arena that never quite materialised a few years back?
October 18: The U-18 side went down 1-0 to Sunderland at the weekend, despite dominating the game for long spells and hitting the post early on. A second-half strike was also enough for Arsenal to end Leeds Ladies' recent good run in the league with a 1-0 defeat.
October 18: Leeds assistant manager Sam Ellis says that the crowd played a big part in Saturday's win over Preston. Speaking on the official website, he said: "There was another 30,000 out there today and I cannot believe how good a crowd they are after all they've been through in recent seasons. I'm not sure if they think we're patronising them when we say how brilliant they were - we're not - they pulled the players through today." Ellis had particular words of praise for goal ace Danny Pugh - now on six goals for the season after being bought as a notional left-back. Ellis said: "I think one was his record before this season and he's turned out to be a revelation, and he's learning all the time. We have lots of players like him with tremendous character and they did well for us. We have to have attitude as well as ability and we showed that in abundance."
October 18: Jermaine Wright's achilles problem looks likely to keep him out of tomorrow's game at Reading, but Julian Joachim returns to the squad after being absent on Saturday due to a family bereavement. Matthew Spring's hip problem is still not fully sorted, and Stephen Crainey's groin also needs some attention (oo-er!). Steve Coppell will have to do without star striker Nicky Forster, who has groin problems on his own, and Adie Williams is also doubtful with a hamstring problem.
October 18: Preston chairman Derek Shaw is continuing to deliver his General de Gaulle impression whenever Leeds come calling. Despite being offered a package of around Â£600,000 for David Healy's signature, Shaw continues to utter a resolute "Non!" to Leeds' request to be allowed to speak to the player. A Leeds spokesman indicated that Preston could have called one bluff too many, saying: "We put what we considered to be a very attractive deal on the table, which was rejected even though Preston stand to lose David for nothing in three months time. The player wants to come to Elland Road. However, considering our current circumstances, there's not very much more we can do. Regrettably, it's looking increasingly likely that we'll have to look elsewhere to solve our striking problems."
October 17: Preston striker David Healy made it clear just what he thought of the facilities and reception he received at Elland Road yesterday - but also said that he remained a Preston player and would do his best for the club until that situation changed. He said: "I went out to win the game for Preston because I'm a professional player and will be until told otherwise, so I'll give it everything until then." But he added: "I can't praise this place enough, the facilities, changing rooms, it's all geared for the Premier League. I know they're not in the Premier League flying high like they were a few years ago, but to me they're a massive club with a lot of history and so many great players down the years. Even for this game there were 30,000 fans out there and they gave me a warm reception. They'll have seen the papers and read the interest and it was flattering to see such a vocal support behind the goal chanting my name to give them a wave."
October 16: Matthew Spring is the only confirmed doubt for Leeds in today's game after picking up a hip injury. There are also rumours concerning the fitness of Stephen Crainey - but Kevin Blackwell doesn't want to give Preston any hints on what his line-up will be ahead of time. For Preston, centreback Claude Davis serves a one match ban, while defensive partner Chris Lucketti is struggling with a groin strain after playing for the reserves midweek.
October 16: Leeds Academy may have been flogged off - but at least some of the youngsters who are in the Academy sides are still with us - and they're doing well. Ian Morris and Andy Keogh are the latest pair to get some recognition - this time with a call into Ireland's U-19 squad for their UEFA qualifying tournament in Cyprus. The team will play three games in just over a week, facing Cyprus, Russia and Andorra. Keogh is currently on loan at Scunthorpe, so Brian Laws will have to do without him for three games.
October 16: Leeds have put in a second bid for David Healy just ahead of Preston's visit to Elland Road. After having the initial "laughable" offer turned down, Leeds are believed to have doubled the offer to £200,000 but chairman Derek Shaw was still unmoved: "Leeds came back in with an improved offer but again it is nowhere near a figure we would even consider."
October 16: Hungarian trialist Andras Kohalmi says that he's very keen on trying his luck in England with Leeds after spending some time on trial at Elland Road last week. Speaking to the Hungarian press, the Ujpest Dosza player said: "We had terrific and hard training sessions... If I join United then I can say I'm lucky and will surely improve a lot." Leeds want him back for a second spell in November and will watch him play for his club back in Hungary before deciding whether or not to make a move in the January transfer window.
October 16: Another not totally inspiring game today - but at least we've managed to score and grab all three points. And if his reaction to the crowd was anything to go by, have we got a new signing in the offing? First half was truly dreadful: Neil Sullivan didn't have a single save to make and the Preston keeper was called into action precisely twice for long-range shots that never looked like going in. No Spider-man or Hulk, chants of "We'll score again" and a general feeling of boredom drifting across the ground for most of the 45 minutes, only sparking into life when some appalling refereeing decisions woke us up: a challenge right through the back of Frazer Richardson with the ball 5 yards away was deemed fair, then Sean Gregan's tackle which came from the side and clearly took the ball merited a yellow card. Emboldened by this lopsided decision-making, Preston thought they could get away with murder - but the ref suddenly recovered his common sense and the fourth or fifth bookable offence committed by Preston finally produced a card as the half ended. The Chief got the biggest cheer of the day when he came out at half-time to present things in the latest "Kick it Out" anti-racism effort, but the second half produced more of the same dross. Preston were generally playing better football than Leeds, but Leeds battled harder and came closer to making the keeper work. Brian Deane and Aaron Lennon came on for Ricketts and Richardson - finally a winger playing on the wing - and we instantly looked more of a threat. But the goal came from an unexpected source: Brett Ormerod battled through a crowd of flailing limbs, was pushed over and got up twice and finally found a bit of space on the edge of the box. He pulled the ball back and Danny Pugh turned up to hammer the ball goalwards: it seemed to take a bit of a deflection, but the net bulged, we went crazy and Pugh was booked for a shirtless celebration. "Healy - give us a wave" produced a positive response after the striker was replaced - and he also fluffed a decent chance in a Bridges-to-Newcastle style, so maybe he knows more about his future than he's letting on.
October 16: Leeds have made a third bid for David Healy after Saturday's win over his current club Preston. Assistant manager Sam Ellis confirmed Leeds had made another offer, but would not say how much was on offer. Preston boss Billy Davies praised the striker's efforts during the game: "I think he worked his socks off. He did tire at the end, but it's been a difficult week with all the speculation going on around him." But he's still hopeful of retaining the player at Deepdale: "The offers so far from Leeds have not been anywhere near what we consider the player to be worth and he remains a Preston North End player as far as I am concerned. When I sit down on Sunday we will discuss the David Healy situation, if there is one to discuss."
October 16: Two big bits of old boy news from the Premier League today. First up, a hat-trick for JFH as Boro beat 10-man Blackburn 0-4. Secondly, with Man City beating Chelsea 1-0 and time running out, our good chum Kevin Keegan brought Robbie Fowler on as a sub - and that means that they now owe us a cool half a million: should be enough to persuade Preston to part with Healy if Kev thinks it's justified. Gary Speed has ruled himself out of the running for the vacant post of manager of Wales. Speaking after Bolton's 1-0 win over Palace this afternoon, he said: "If you've got aspirations to be a manager or coach, obviously coaching your country would be a great honour. But you only get one shot at it really and for me this time I don't think I could give it my full attention. We want the best man for the job and I don't think that's me at the moment. I definitely won't be applying for it." Back to the football where David Wetherall produced an injury time header to snatch all three points as Bradford won 4-5 at Prenton Park and go third in League One. Clyde Wijnhard got a late consolation goal from the edge of the box for Darlo as they went down 1-2 at home to Bury.
October 15: Leeds United Ladies enjoyed their first ever double over local rivals Doncaster Rovers Belles on Wednesday night courtesy of a second-minute strike from Karen Walker. That makes it four league wins on the bounce for Leeds - after a disappointing start to the season - and nine successive scoring matches for Walker. Leeds also fielded new signing Michelle Barr. Michelle is an international centreback with Scotland and has spent the last 6 months in Iceland, playing for double cup-winners IBV.
October 15: My irregular columnist Bucky has given voice to a vague concern that has been pestering me all season: just what is Paul Dews on - and can I have some of it? Read his thoughts on the spinning and hyping that Leeds' local paper now seems to regard as "news" here. Drop me an email with your own thoughts and feedback: are we being too negative here? Is the YEP really so desperate to not alienate a major source of its news and reason for readership that it feels it can't print anything remotely non-positive about the club? Let me know!
October 15: After the sale and leaseback of the Thorp Arch training complex yesterday, today's Guardian reports that Elland Road will be the next asset to be auctioned off. The reports says that eight separate mortgages are outstanding on properties owned by the company - mortgages which were taken out to help the Krasner consortium "buy" the club earlier in the year. Chairman Gerald Krasner denied the club was unable to service its debts - but it's clear that the huge interest payments on the Petchey loan are forcing the board into increasingly desperate measures, and they are beginning to realise that only a return to the Premier League will be enough to plug the leaks in the balance sheet.
October 15: Robbie Fowler is said to be close to full match fitness again - and that's good news for the board as it could trigger a windfall of half a million quid. Fowler has been out of favour with Kevin Keegan - but with City desperate for goals, he could be on the bench against Chelsea at the weekend - and one step away from that extra appearance Leeds need to trigger the next tranche of cash from City. With Preston laughing off our bid for David Healy, a share of that windfall might just be enough to persuade the Deepdale board to allow Healy to cross the Pennines.
October 15: Just a couple of months ago, Kevin Blackwell apparently put a block on Michael Duberry's switch to Wolves because Leeds would still be paying three quarters of his wages. After seeing just what the defender can do, Blackwell has been seemingly happy to sanction just such an arrangement with Stoke after it became clear that Clarke Carlisle and Paul Butler are his first choices. Stoke face an injury and suspension crisis at the back, and John Rudge was happy to pick him up: "He has played at the highest level with Leeds and Chelsea and he will add quality and competition to our squad. There is no doubt his arrival gives us a boost."
October 14: Michael Bridges looks ready to start for Sunderland again after a five year gap. The Black Cats face Millwall on Saturday and Bridges says he's finally over his latest injury: "It has healed up fine and I'm back in training now. Thursday will be our first day of full training because of the international games. I'm looking forward to it and I want to get on and do my part now."
October 14: Leeds have finally made a formal bid to Preston for the services of David Healy - but it's unlikely to prompt much more than a derisory snort from Deepdale. Kevin Blackwell was at Windsor Park last night to witness Healy's scorcher for Northern Ireland against Austria, and this morning the club made a £100,000 offer to Preston. Sean Gregan gave his team-mates a warning that his former colleague from his Preston days was a real threat. He said: "I played alongside David for a few years and know what he can do - if you give him half a chance he will bury it. If he is available, I am sure our gaffer and a lot of other managers will want him."
October 14: Scott Carson returned to Leeds today after two clean sheets for the U-21 side against Wales and Azerbaijan and although he's happy to be back, he's enjoyed the challenge of playing in a real game for once. He said: "Peter Taylor has got faith in me and keeps giving me a chance, so hopefully I can just keep repaying him. It does give you a lift and I went back to the club after the last couple of internationals really full of confidence. It really showed in training as well but I can't really do anything with the way Neil Sullivan is playing at the moment." And he went on: "It's all about games. The more you play, the better you are about things so hopefully I can secure my spot here with the under-21s as number one and then just go from there."
October 14: To nobody's great surprise, the club today admitted that the Thorp Arch training complex was being sold in order to keep the club afloat. Leeds will continue to have use of the training ground and Academy on a leaseback basis, and there's an option to repurchase the ground should the finances ever recover - but with outstanding debts of nearly £40 million and some imminent repayments required, yet another asset goes marching out of the door. COO Shaun Harvey said: "In an ideal world it's not an option we would have taken, but our number one priority is to reduce this club's debt so it can operate again under normal circumstances. This arrangement will go a long way to helping us do that. Instead of paying the mortgage on Thorp Arch, we will be renting it instead, with the players continuing to utilise the excellent training facilities available there." Director Melvyn Helme added that he just saw it as good business practice. Helme said: "There's nothing wrong with sale and lease back - it's not the bottom-end of the market. There will be a satisfactory buy-back clause so that if the club wanted to take the training ground back under ownership, it can do. If you do a sale and lease back it gives you much greater security of tenure - we have a guaranteed right to use the facilities. The public's perception is wrong, they don't understand that most of the main institutions in this country, like high street banks and building societies, don't own their own premises." And he'll be saying the same thing when we flog off Elland Road and find ourselves staring at a new casino and hospitality facilities going up on the site with not one red cent of their turnover coming back to the football club.
October 14: To the surprise of nobody, Preston have rejected Leeds' bid for David Healy. Even though he is out of contract at the end of the season, they're not so desperate that they'll accept such a low bid. Preston chairman Derek Shaw said: "We won't be jumping into any offer of that size because we think it's totally unacceptable, a laughable offer." And he went on: "We've talked all along about not wanting to lose David but like everything else we now have to prepare for the game on Saturday. I'm sure Heals will come back full of confidence and in a very buoyant mood after his wonderful goal for Northern Ireland on Wednesday."
October 14: Today's YEP has a couple of extracts from Phil Rostron's "Trials and Tribulations" book about the club's downfall, with extensive quotes from Allan Leighton and Trevor Birch. Allan Leighton smoothly deflects a large pile of criticism onto anybody not called Allan Leighton, saying: David O'Leary always said, 'I will be judged by my plc on whether or not we make the Champions League,' and, in the end, he was. It was a very difficult decision to remove him and, in my mind, it was 51-49. With Peter and David I think their relationship had broken down and you can't have the chairman and manager at loggerheads. Therefore, you have to back one in the end and Peter felt strongly that that was what should happen and the board went with that. I think it was a close decision. And when I reflect back, sometimes I wonder if it was the right decision. That's not a reflection on either Terry Venables or Peter Reid, because they came to the club in different circumstances." Trevor Birch is justifiably happy with his contribution to keeping the club alive, despite the difficult circumstances he inherited. He says: "I think it is essential to a successful club for there to be a good atmosphere and a positive atmosphere, and what I came into here was the most negative atmosphere and a distinct feel-bad factor about the club. That impacts on everybody - most importantly, the players... Remembering what we owed the creditors, there was huge, huge pressure to sell. But, thankfully, we were able to navigate our way through the window and were happily not having to do that." Read the full articles here and here.
October 13: Stiffs boss Steve Agnew says that he was very happy with his side's performance last night - despite the fact that they lost 2-1 against Blackburn at Morecambe. Agnew fielded four 16-year-olds and three 17-year-olds against a relatively experienced Blackburn side. Jamie Winter's goal after the interval brought Leeds back into the game after they conceded twice before the half hour mark, but the youngsters couldn't quite manage to square the game. Hassan Kachloul played the full 90 minutes - but admitted he was way short of match fitness. Agnew said: "I was delighted with what I saw from them tonight. Our general play was good and we saw plenty of the ball and we passed it around well. The second half was similar in terms of possession, we might not have created much but neither did they. I wanted to test some of the younger players at this level to see how they would cope, and although the result is not what we had hoped for, it was a first class performance."
October 13: Harry Kewell was called into action by Socceroos coach Frank Farina for the second leg of their vital Confederations Cup eliminator against the Solomon Islands. Protecting a fragile 5-1 lead from the first leg, the ex-Leeds man played through a groin problem and picked up a foot injury which caused him to be subbed at half-time - but he did manage a goal in the first period as Australia struggled to a 6-0 win.
October 13: Young midfielder Martin Woods will stay at Hartlepool for an extra month after his loan spell was extended today. Woods has made two first-team starts and two substitute appearances in his current loan spell and will now stay in the north-east until November 6.
October 13: Gary Speed announced his retirement from international football this evening after winning a record 44th cap as captain - and 84th overall - as his side slumped to a 2-3 home defeat by Poland. Wales have all but blown their chances of qualifying for the World Cup Finals, and Speed said it was time for someone else to have a crack. He said: "It looks difficult for us to qualify now and it would be wrong for me to carry on. It's time to get someone younger in for the next campaign. I have had a great career and loved every minute." Speed has been linked with the now-vacant manager's job - but has just signed a two-year playing contract with Bolton, and it's hard to see how he could fit both in.
October 13: There was another clean-sheet for Paul Robinson and Rio Ferdinand in Baku this evening, as England struggled to a 0-1 win over Azerbaijan. Robinson once again was barely troubled all game thanks to a good defensive wall in front of him. Alan Smith came on as a second half sub for the ineffective Jermain Defoe and acquitted himself well without ever really threatening to score. Robbie Keane scored both of Ireland's goals as they produced a below-par performance to beat the Faroe Islands 2-0 - that takes Keane clear of Niall Quinn as the all-time leading scorer for the Republic. Steve Caldwell also got a run out alongside brother Gary for Scotland - but their 1-1 draw in Moldova has dropped them well off the pace for qualification and could spell the end for Bertie Vogts. Meanwhile, transfer target David Healy scored a cracking goal at Windsor Park - looping a left-foot shot over former Arsenal keeper Alex Manninger as Northern Ireland held an Austrian side including Martin Hiden in an entertaining 3-3 draw with the home side's final equaliser coming in the fourth minute of stoppage time. In Cyprus, Olivier Dacourt set up Thierry Henry for France's second goal in their 0-2 win. Teddy Lucic was also on the winning side as Sweden hammered Iceland 1-4 in Reykjavik.
October 12: Former Leeds boss Howard Wilkinson has been named as temporary first team coach at Leicester following the resignation of Micky Adams. Director of Football Dave Bassett has called in Wilko for his all-round coaching experience - despite the disastrous run that set Sunderland well on the way to relegation last season.
October 12: Jonathan Woodgate's Real Madrid career is getting off to a dreadful start. After signing from Newcastle while injured, the former Leeds player has just seen his latest comeback attempt hammered as he pulled out of a friendly game following a recurrence of the torn muscle problem that has ridden him for so long. He now faces at least 10 weeks on the sidelines - and may need an op before recovery can really begin. There's a long way to go in the season over there - but Madrid desperately need him back as they sit in midtable, seven points behind leaders Barca and already facing a huge mountain to climb if they want to win back the title.
October 12: Darlington boss David Hodgson says that he's hoping to do a deal to keep new signing Clyde Wijnhard in the north-east for the rest of the season. Former Leeds striker Wijnhard has scored in both home games since his arrival on a pay-as--play deal last month, and Hodgson wants to secure his signature for the rest of the season. He said: "Clyde's been excellent and if he said he wanted to be tied up lock, stock and barrel, I would do it."
October 12: Moroccan international midfielder Hassan Kachloul is ay Elland Road on trial and plays in tonight's reserve game against Blackburn. Kachloul had a fairly successful start to his time in England with Southampton, but a move to Villa didn't pay off and he spent a large part of last season on loan at Wolves. Hartlepool have yet to confirm whether they will be requesting an extension for Martin Woods' loan at Victoria Park - but his one month is up so they need to do a deal quickly if he is to go back to the north-east on his return from international U21 duty. Finally, Preston have moved to deny that David Healy is about to walk away - although other rumours put him on the bus to Leeds for two hundred grand.
October 12: The reserves lost 2-1 at Morecambe tonight against a strong Blackburn side thatincluded, among others, David Thompson on his way back from a long-term injury. More details later.
October 12: The good folks at the Football Fans Census are interested in what you think about the suggestion that Safe Standing areas should be provided in football stadia. This is a followup on a survey they did last year to see if people's opinions have changed - and you can get a 50% discount on a subscription to When Saturday Comes just for taking part.
October 11: Kevin Blackwell has been given the go-ahead by the board to renew his hunt for a new front-man. With just one league goal between the recognised forwards from eleven league games, for all of his talk about the importance of building from the back, he equally realises that we need to worry the opposition defence and midfield more. Blackwell said that he had full backing from the powers that be: "The board have tried to help me every way they can. I have asked the board to do certain things for me which they have done. They played a patient game with Sean Gregan and they delivered, so we are prepared to wait for the right people. Now we are talking again as a board and management team and saying we need certain other things - and they've agreed we'll try and do it." Our next opponents are Preston, and maybe they're just trying to hang on beyond Saturday before agreeing to Leeds' latest cut-price offer for David Healy. Preston chairman Derek Shaw sounded close to bowing to the inevitable when he said: "We may be forced into having to take a much reduced offer for David, if that is what it comes to."
October 11: Former Leeds player Mickey Adams has resigned as manager of Leicester City. Adams had been with the club for three years, presiding over their promotion to the Premier League and subsequent relegation back to the second tier, and after a poor start to the season and with rumours of dressing room unrest, the board finally decided to accept his resignation earlier today.
October 11: Kevin Blackwell today said that he'd asked one of the two triallists who have been training with the squad to stay on for an extra week - but he's not revealing which one! Hungarian Andras Kohalmi and Philippe Delaye of France have both spent a week at Thorp Arch, but Blackwell doesn't want to spark a bidding war for the services of the man he wants. He said: "They both did well, and I've offered one of them another chance. But I don't want to say who it is because that will alert other clubs. If it goes well this week then we'd be looking to sort out something for him in January."
October 11: Leeds Ladies blew the chance to make it through to the next round of the League Cup when they let Fulham grab a late winner from the penalty spot yesterday. The game was played at South Leeds Stadium rather than the usual venue in Garforth, and although Leeds went behind just after the half-hour mark, Nicole Emmanuel levelled things just before the break. Leeds took the lead just after the hour, but Fulham came back to square things up with 15 minutes left and then snatched a penalty with just three minutes on the clock to progress to the next round.
October 10: Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell says that instant promotion back to the Premier League could be a problem for the club. Can't contradict him too much in that - I've said the same all along, in that we'd need to go out and buy almost an entire new team if we were to hope to survive - but at least we'd be back getting Premiership money from Sky, so maybe the pain of a season of struggling back up in the top flight would be financially better. But Blackwell says that a short-term lack of ambition might be better for the club: "In the long term it could be detrimental if we go up this season. Many fans have said they don't want to go up this year - we need a year or two to get back to a level footing, next season we'll have a settled squad." He did add: "There is still pride and we all want to go up. If it happened this season we would take it."
October 10: Ian Harte says that he has no regrets about his decision to leave the Premier League for Levante in Spain. He said: "It has been a great experience for me and I am sure it will prove to be for them as well. It broadens your horizon and it probably is more skilful and technical over here." And he pointed out that his own low-profile move was somewhat in contrast to other English players now plying their trade in La Liga. He said: "It is different for Beckham, Owen and Woodgate because it can be suffocating at Real Madrid, where so much is expected. But with the talent Real have, they can always go on a run and go unbeaten for, say, ten games."
October 09: Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell is determined to hang on to Scott Carson - and reckons that the young keeper can emulate his predecessor Paul Robinson. Blackwell said that Carson's performances had been part of the reason for the excellent displays from Neil Sullivan this season: "Scott Carson has been unbelievable in training and I think that has driven Sully on. He knows he has to play well to stay in front of Scott." And he says that he's hoping that Carson will remain at Leeds rather than succumb to the temptations of a Premier League club - despite not getting a regular start at the moment. Blackwell said: "It's frustrating for me that I can't play him at the level I want to. I know I'm the envy of Premier League clubs in the goalkeeping department. He's got the quality to follow Robbo and go all the way."
October 09: Scott Carson, James Milner and Jermaine Pennant were all in action last night as the England U-21 side beat Wales 2-0. Pennant set up Milner for the first goal just after the break, with the other goal coming from Darren Bent. Scott Carson needed a bit of luck to maintain a clean sheet, with Wales hitting the woodwork, and a late effort just looping over the bar after taking a deflection. Matthew Kilgallon was in the squad, but remained on the bench. Henry McStay was with the Ireland U-21 squad as they visited the Stade de l'Aube in Troyes, but watched from the bench as Don Given's squad lost 1-0.
October 09: Paul Robinson kept his place between the sticks for England, and kept a clean sheet against Wales as England strolled to a 2-0 win. Robinson was barely called into action, with Rio Ferdinand returning to the defence in front of him, and Alan Smith coming on as a late sub for Jermain Defoe. Gary Speed tried in vain to rally his team as he continues to set appearance records for Wales, and created one of the few real chances for Wales when he came close with a lob over Robinson from inside the box. Olivier Dacourt was facing Robbie Keane in Paris - but Dacourt failed to give the sort of commanding midfield performance that we've seen in the past and that might enable him to stake a claim to a regular spot for Les Bleus after a spate of international retirements. Martin Hiden was on the wrong end of a 1-3 scoreline as Poland won in Vienna, but Teddy Lucic had a happier night with Sweden running out 3-0 winners over Hungary in Solna.
October 08: Leeds midfielder Sean Gregan says that the fans can expect more from him as he settles in and gets fully fit. He admits that he's nowhere near as near full match fitness as he'd like to be and is well short of the standard set by the rest of the team. He says: "I had not played competitively since the final game of last season. So to have five games in just under two weeks is tough. It's what I needed though because I am obviously not as fit as I need to be. I did plenty of running during pre-season, but it's game wise that I missed most of pre-season." And he adds: "There's a lot to come from me yet, another five or six games and I will be up to where I want to be... The Leeds fans have not seen anywhere near the best of me, but I am looking to put that right during this two week break and then with more games I'll hopefully feel and play a lot better."
October 07: Clarke Carlisle says that the whole team need to take responsibility for the current lack of goals - not just the front men. He said: "There's a lot of pressure on the strikers at the moment, but what people need to realise is that as long as we score it doesn't matter who gets them - so long as long as we do. The emphasis has to remain on it being a team effort because the moment you shift the pressure onto just one or two players it becomes much harder for them." And he repeated Kevin Blackwell's message about the team's current performances. He said: "I don't think we're performing too badly, we have created chances but not taken them... You might go through a dry spell and then all of a sudden hit a purple patch, and when that time comes we will appreciate it more."
October 07: Simon Johnson's loan spell with Sunderland has been extended by another month after Kevin Blackwell agreed that he didn't need the player at Leeds at the moment. Johnson said: "It's been good to be involved with the first team - I've enjoyed every minute of it. I've said before that I might have been going a bit stale at Leeds and the change of scene has been good for me. You can stay at one club for too long and the loan to Sunderland has really kick-started things for me." Blackwell said: "Simon has been at Leeds for a while now and hasn't been involved recently. I just felt it was time to give him a view outside of this football club and see how he copes. It was a chance for him to do well."
October 06: I'm sure it will come as a surprise to many people to find that Michael Ricketts has decided to put in some extra training sessions in a bid to become sharper and fitter. With Brett Ormerod's imminent departure, there will be another starting place up for grabs up front - and Ricketts is apparently putting in some extra sessions in the hope of honing his fitness levels sufficiently to impress Kevin Blackwell into giving him that place. Funny - I thought that's what they were supposed to be doing all the time...
October 06: Lucas Radebe has finally had the cast taken off his damaged achilles tendon, and is hoping to be back in action before the end of his contract in the summer. He managed just 43 minutes of first team football this seasom before picking up an injury against Wolves, and the general assumption was that we'd seen the last of him in a Leeds shirt as the 35-year-old heads back home to retirement in South Africa - but now he's got his fingers crossed that he'll be ready to take part in a couple of games before the end of the season, as well as appearing in his testimonial match. He said: "I will be fit and then hopefully I will also be able to finish off a few games for the club in the Championship. That's how I want to finish - just before my testimonial." The FA confirmed that Radebe would become the first player from outside the EU to be awarded a testimonial after clocking up 10 years' service with Leeds, and a match involving Leeds players old and new, along with several stars from around the world, will be played at Elland Road before the end of the season. Speaking to the official website, Radebe said: "It's a great honour for me. It might be the best way to say goodbye to everyone who has supported me over the years... I hope there is a big crowd, I have had a great time here because people have been so good to me." Anything short of a full house at Elland Road would be a disgrace: no matter that 15,000 people have voted with their feet since relegation, the "fans" who were happy to come along to Champions League games a couple of years ago should see attendance at the Chief's testimonial as a duty - but one they should be more than happy to complete.
October 06: Simon Johnson says that he'd like to extend his spell away from Elland Road after enjoying his first month at Sunderland. Last night he bagged a brace against Everton reserves and is hoping that Mick McCarthy can agree terms to keep him up in the north-east as the Black Cats face a few injury problems up front. Johnson always had a good record for the reserves at Elland Road - but never quite looked like translating that into Premiership form. However it's hard to see why he isn't being considered as part of Kevin Blackwell's plans now with goals so hard to come by.
October 06: There's a few words of wisdom from Lucas Radebe in today's YEP. He talks about his international career, plans for the future, his injury and thoughts on the current situation at ER - well worth a quick read.
October 05: Brett Ormerod looks 99% certain to return to Southampton at the end of his one-month loan spell. It's not yet clear whether that will include the trip to Reading - which falls at the very end of the month in question - or whether he will just be available for the Preston game on Saturday week. James Beattie's broken toe - coupled with the absence of seven other first-teamers with injury - means that Steve Wigley is just too stretched at St Mary's to allow Ormerod to continue with his planned three-month stay at Elland Road. Wigley said: "We just wanted him to get first team practice. With James out injured it makes sense to get Brett back and hopefully he will feel the benefit of playing regularly."
October 05: Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell says he's not too concerned about the fact that the team are hovering just above the drop zone in 17th spot. He said: "I want to be a lot higher up than we are but I think everyone accepts that this Leeds United team are a lot better than their league position suggests... I'm concerned about performances and if the performances are consistently good then the results will also be consistently good. For me performances are key at the moment and I believe that if you keep playing well and doing things right you will win games." He reiterated his earlier point that he always intended to build from the back, and Leeds' parsimonious defence was a big plus point. He said: "There's loads of games to go and first we must be very hard to beat and we'll go from there."
October 05: Jonathan Woodgate looks like he's finally ready to pull on a Real Madrid shirt after being injured since before his transfer in August. Real have had an appalling start to the season - losing 0-1 to Deportivo at the weekend to find themselves stuck in the middle of the table rather than challenging Barca at the top, and although the likes of Michael Owen and Raul are having problems of their own up front, it's at the back in both the Champions League and La Liga where they need the biggest improvements. Real will play a friendly against lower-division outfit Alcoron a week today, and that should mark the ex-Leeds player's first appearance in an all-white strip since he played for Leeds against Man City in January 2003.
October 05: Former Leeds youngster Warren Feeney has lost out on the chance to add to his three international caps for Northern Ireland because his wife is just about to have their first baby. Feeney has found himself back under consideration after a raft of withdrawals and injuries have hit Lawrie Sanchez's squad ahead of their trip to Azerbaijan for the World Cup qualifier this weekend. But with his firstborn due any day now, he has had to turn Sanchez down. He said: "It would have been a good chance for me. But Katy and myself were at hospital when things went a bit crazy. So really I cannot leave her." Well, I guess we can wish him all the best off the field, even if not on it for the next week or so.
October 04: Leeds United Ladies scored a surprise 1-2 win against Charlton yesterday, with the home side reduced to 9 players by the end of the game. England international midfielder Karen Burke set up Kaz Walker twice to give Leeds a 0-2 lead early in the second half. Charlton then made life hard for themselves when they had a player dismissed for a second bookable offence, and followed that up with a straight red for abusing the ref, but they still managed to pull a goal back late on despite the two-player deficit.
October 04: Kevin Blackwell is hopeful that he can secure Brett Ormerod's services for another two months - but there could be a problem after the Saints' game this weekend. Steve Wigley allowed the striker to come to Leeds for an initial month with the proviso that any extension would be subject to his approval, but James Beattie broke a bone in his foot at the weekend and will be out for a month, so Ormerod could be recalled to St Marys as cover. Blackwell said: "People expect Brett to come straight in and perform at the highest level because he has come from the Premiership, but he needs time. He had played just one game this season before coming to us and he and his family are living out of a suitcase. Hopefully I will try to create something in the transfer market in the areas where we need strengthening."
October 04: Kevin Blackwell is still looking for two more players to complete his jigsaw and it's the front men he's focussing on. But he's not unhappy with what he's done so far. He said: "We've kept eight clean sheets and have lost one in seven, but we haven't been scoring and that's what people want to talk about. I am aware what the team needs, but if I hadn't built from the back we'd have nothing to build on and I want to take the pressure off the front men." Hungarian Andras Kohalmi from Ujpest Doza has joined French midfielder Phillipe Delaye on trial for a week. Blackwell said: "With trialists you never quite know what you're going to get, but there's always that chance you can unearth a diamond and that's what we're looking to do."
October 03: Kevin Blackwell described the penalty awarded to Cardiff yesterday as "shoddy" and was pleased to hold out for a point. He said: "I was told by Cardiff defender Robert Page that this was the best they have played all season, but that doesn't surprise me: everyone lifts their game against us." But he pointed to the improvement in his own side, saying: "My players are beginning to gel - we are not being beaten every week and that is something to build on - though we are finding scoring a little difficult."
October 03: No current Leeds players have been picked in Sven's squad for this week's World Cup qualifiers, but Paul Robinson looks set to hold on to his place in the starting line-up after some good performances for Spurs, and the no-longer-banned Rio Ferdinand looks a certainty to join Sol Campbell in the centre of the defence, displacing the blameless pairing of John Terry and Ledley King. Up front, Alan Smith is also in the side, and can't have done his chances of getting a game any harm by scoring a late equaliser at Old Trafford after coming on as a sub with Man U losing 0-1 to Boro. Mark Viduka missed that game with a hip injury and will miss the Socceroos' Confederations Cup game against the Solomon Islands.
October 03: Kevin Blackwell has another triallist coming in to run the rule over during the international break. French midfielder Philippe Delaye has played for Stade Rennes, Montpelier and is available on a free after a spell with Bastia at the back end of last season.
October 02: Kevin Blackwell hasn't ruled out the possibility of moving for Preston striker David Healy - but he's not exactly talking up the suggestion either. He said: "David is a player I admire but there are many other players I admire. He is a proven international player, a proven goalscorer and a player that if I had the chance to sign, I would be interested in doing so. However, at the moment that is not the case." But he added: "I have not made a specific target of David Healy but if there was ever the chance then I would like to give it a go." He pointed out that agents tend to talk up the possibilities of a move, and Leeds were frequently linked with players by people keen to talk up the transfer price, but he also noted that when he did show a genuine interest in a player, that created problems of its own: "Five clubs came in after I declared an interest in Sean Gregan."
October 02: In the normal scheme of things, I guess an away point is to be welcomed. But the fat that we have now gone for nearly four whole games without scoring (Michael Ricketts' strike against Swindon came inside ten minutes) and that the strikers have managed just one goal between them in 11 league games remains a serious concern if we're to have any hope of making the play-offs. Neil Sullivan once again saved a penalty - although it wasn't the best spot-kick ever - and we needed some more top-class saves from the keeper to stay on level terms. The midfield were barely at the races again, and we rarely stretched Tony Warner at the other end of the park. Kev has a fortnight's break now to get the team out on the training pitch doing constant shooting and passing practice - we need goals and three points from Preston if we want to stay above the drop zone.
October 02: Clyde Wijnhard was on the scoresheet for Darlo today - but his 24th-minute effort was somewhat overshadowed by a hat-trick for Alun Armstrong as the home side ran out 4-0 winners. Darren Huckerby produced a second-half equaliser for Norwich at home to Pompey - the points were shared 2-2 at Carrow Road. Jamie McMaster scored on the stroke of half-time for Swindon to make it 0-2 at Stockport, and although they extended their lead in the second half, an 11-minute spell saw the home side come back to draw 3-3. Lee Matthews got a consolation goal for Port Vale with a 20-yard strike 5 minutes from time to make it 2-1 to Colchester. Former youth team and reserve player Craig Farrell also struck late in the game, this time heading Carlisle to a 1-0 victory over Crawley Town in the Conference.
October 01: Neil Sullivan has described Cardiff chairman Sam Hamman as "a real character". Sullivan knows Hamman from their days back at Wimbledon, and said: "Sam is a real character and football needs characters. He was part of the whole Crazy Gang thing and he let people get away with things they probably wouldn't get away with elsewhere." Hmmmm.... well speaking from a Leeds fan's angle I think that football can well do without the sort of character who panders to the hooligan element in his team's support and who is let off with a slap on the wrist when he incites the crowd in a manner that would see any other chairman receive a prompt, arm-propelled copy of The Book.
October 01: Preston striker David Healy has refused to discuss extending his contract at Deepdale - and Leeds are said to be on his trail as Kevin Blackwell continues to search for a goalscorer. Healy is an experienced Northern Ireland international who started his career at Old Trafford, but is now coming to the end of his contract with Preston, and despite the offer of a three-year deal, he hasn't been falling over himself to sign an extension. Of Kevin Blackwell's current batch of frontmen, only Julian Joachim has got himself on the scoresheet in a league game, and with just 9 goals scored in 10 games (and three of those in a single match), things are obviously getting a bit worrying for the Leeds manager.
October 01: Kevin Blackwell has no new injury worries ahead of tomorrow's game in Cardiff, and is likely to pick the same side that started against Stoke, despite a lack of goals. Cardiff have both suspension and injury worries, with Graham Kavanagh and Alan Lee both out due to the impressive feat of picking up five yellow cards already this season. Willie Boland and former Boro striker Andy Campbell will come into the reckoning to teplace those two, and young striker Stuart Fleetwood has the chance of making the bench if he gets over an ankle knock. However, Cardiff are without several familiar names, with Robert Page, Robert Croft, Richard Langley, Martyn Margetson and Rhys Weston all sidelined with a variety of strains, pulls and tweaks. So no excuses if we don't win then....
October 01: The Football Hall of Fame at Preston looks set to finally honour two Leeds greats - and about time too! Don Revie and Billy Bremner have both been nominated for election to the pantheon at the annual awards ceremony, and according to the organisers they're doing well in the voting to elect two managers and eight players this time round. The awards dinner is on November 4 - no way for plebs like us to vote, so keep your fingers crossed that the Great and the Good do the right thing and put Billy and The Don up there with their peers.