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November 30: Nick Barmby looks set to be offered a one-year extension to his contract after impressing in his spell at Hull so far. He's guaranteed an extension if he passes 20 games for the Tigers, but Hull's chairman Adam Pearson said: "His form over the last six games means he will be getting one anyway, so no problem there."
November 30: Kevin Blackwell said that he was angry with his team - but that their effort over 90 minutes last night should exempt them from some of the stick they received from angry Leeds fans as the final whistle blew. He said: "If I am going to be critical then you have to be more clinical when you have 75% of the play. I knew we needed to get the goal because the longer it becomes and chances don't go in, you are always there to be suckered, and we have been mugged tonight... This is a big blow and I have got to take it on the chin - but it bloody well hurts."
November 30: Leeds Ladies had a good weekend, winning 0-1 at Bristol City with an early goal from Karen Burke. An injury-depleted Leeds squad did well to hold on to the lead and will look to continue their recent run of good form with a win over Everton next weekend, and an attempt to extract some revenge for the 0-8 hammering suffered on the opening day of the season.
November 30: Crystal Palace owner Simon Jordan today laid into Leeds' shambolic dealings in the Shaun Derry transfer. Speaking to the South London Press, he says: "The way they messed Shaun about was a farce... They tried to change the deal three or four times and took the mickey out of Shaun by initially offering him wages that are well below what he deserves." He went on: "It was an insult to Shaun, so I phoned him and told him to come back straight away. Then they wanted him on loan and I agreed, as long as they could guarantee they'd make it a permanent deal. They couldn't come up with that guarantee so the deal was off." Other than this particular deal, Jordan isn't known for having a particular axe to grind - so just what does this say about (certain members of) the current board at Elland Road and the way the club is currently being run? Come in Mr Stubbs, you're needed more than ever...
November 30: Leeds reserves beat Villa 3-2 at Wakefield tonight. More later...
November 29: Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell is determined that his team will avoid defeat at Millmoor tonight - to stop people having a good laugh at us if nothing else. He said: "Sky have set this one up a treat but we've got to try and get away from all the hype that will go with the game tonight. I'm sure there'll be plenty of people hoping we lose so they can have a good laugh at our expense again, but we know that and we have to deal with it." He went on: "We've said it before in other games, but this is one match we have to treat like a cup tie. We don't want to be the side that they break their duck against and if we don't approach it right we'll get a black eye." He pointed to a couple of signs of improvement for Ronnie Moore's side lately - but says his team will stay focused. "We've come up against teams that have been thoroughly fired up and there's been a magic about those games that hasn't been present in others. We've been to Brighton and Gillingham and lost them both, but we should have learnt from those matches."
November 29: Clarke Carlisle echoed manager Kevin Blackwell's warnings about the potential pitfall in tonight's game: "A lot of people will be thinking that this is the game Rotherham are finally going to win. Rotherham are on a really bad run at the moment but we need to make sure that we are on our mettle 100 per cent to make sure their run does not end against us." And he went on: "It's also two Yorkshire clubs facing each other and the form book sometimes counts for nothing in these affairs - we'll be aware of all that. We need a win, we are struggling to put back to back victories together in this campaign, but it will come. As long as we put together an unbeaten run and keep picking up points that's what's important."
November 29: Sebastien Sainsbury has again stuck in a bid for Leeds United, saying: "The proof of funding will be supplied in a manner that I know will totally satisfy the board of LUFC, and this will follow imminently. The offer includes the re-purchasing of Elland Road, the Thorp Arch training facility together with the first-team training pitch. In addition, monies will be made available for the working capital of the club together with the acquisition of new players. I will make no further comments until we have a response from the board." We've heard it all before mate. As it turns out, comment from the board was forthcoming in pretty short order - Gerald Krasner said: "The club are not in discussion with Mr Sainsbury. Yet again there was no proof of funds provided. We can only assume Mr Sainsbury is simply intent on damaging a deal with another consortium we are in advanced discussions with." Krasner went on to confirm that the Stubbs team was moving forward with their bid to buy the club: "The negotiations with the local consortium of United fans are progressing well. The board hope it will come to fruition in the next seven to 10 days, at which time a further statement will be made."
November 29: We're always patsies for somebody's poor run - and we got it in spades tonight. With Rotherham well on course for the worst ever league start by any club, it just had to be Leeds - and on TV too - that ended their 20-match winless run. Clarke Carlisle hit the woodwork three times in the opening ten minutes before hobbling off with an injury. Michael Ricketts stepped over the ball in their six yard box. David Healy hammered it at their keeper when a little bit of elevation was needed. Their goal came from their first shot on target - Simon Walton giving away a silly free kick and the defence then going to sleep to allow two unmarked Rotherham players all the time in the world to hammer in a winner. Boos from the Leeds end at the end of the match - serious discontent all round and patience finally worn too thin. More reaction tomorrow - I'm off to bed now and hope it will all turn out to be a bad dream when I wake up.
November 29: Kevin Blackwell reckons that we were mugged at Millmoor last night. And although he has a bit of a point, the excuses about bad luck and lack of players wear a bit thin against a team that has failed to win in 20 games this season. Blackwell said: "The players will feel hammered by this result. That was just typical of Leeds United at the moment - everything that can go wrong does go wrong. It started when the bus was late, then there was the talk of the takeover and then this. I thought the lads played really well. We hit the bar and the post. We hit the inside of the post and it stayed out - why can't it go in? I would just love for this club to have a bit of luck on and off the pitch. We are not a million miles away but if you are an inch away, you might as well be 10 million miles away."
November 29: Gerald Krasner has promised to issue a statement to fans detailing the current state of the club and providing information on the on-off takeover attempts tomorrow. Meanwhile, Sebastien Sainsbury once again came in for some stick as the smoke and mirrors around the funding for his current bid continued to stir things up. Is it family money, cash from his one-time investment banking mates or cash from various parts of Europe? Whatever - he's not saying anything in public and just letting the usual suspects foment anger against the board without having any clear alternatives. Maybe he thinks we've made so many leaps of faith with new owners before that we'll just say "sod it anything's better than the current bunch"? Well sorry mate - I guess we've now been bitten so many times it's finally gotten through our think Yorkie hides. Stump up or shut up - but whatever you do, do it quickly.
November 29: Further bad news for Kevin Blackwell: Clarke Carlisle's ankle injury could keep him out for three weeks. Carlisle landed painfully as he jumped in the Rotherham area and damaged his ligaments in the game at Millmoor last night. Matthew Kilgallon could get the nod as his replacement after both he and Frazer Richardson acquitted themselves pretty well despite the defeat. However Blackwell may choose to drop Simon Walton back into his natural position and use Matthew Spring in midfield. I guess we'll see on Saturday afternoon...
November 28: Brian Deane is Kevin Blackwell's only new doubt for the game at Rotherham tomorrow night. For the Millers, Andy Monkhouse and Scott Minto are both out with knee and shoulder injuries respectively, but they could give a start to newly-signed winger Jamal Ryce-Campbell. Leeds have a relatively poor record at Millmoor, although the last meeting between the two sides was settled in Leeds' favour with Mark Gavin's first goal for the club coming against a side containing the recently departed Emlyn Hughes. Back in the 1950s, these games could be high-scoring affairs, with John Charles scoring three successive hat-tricks against Rotherham - and following that up with a brace in the next game, although Leeds did lose that one 2-4. The last player to move from Leeds to Rotherham was Jody Morris (albeit via a brief "unattached" spell) last season, and the last player to move in the other direction was Andy Williams - Howard Wilkinson's first signing as Leeds manager back in 1988.
November 28: Terry Venables has rubbished suggestions that he is about to take over at Australian side Newcastle. The club's owner had indicated that was the case, but Venables' agent today insisted it was a non-starter. His agent said: "Terry has been, and still is, quite keen on Australia but he is not able to come because he has a number of other commitments. The timetable for the league has kept changing as well. First of all it was December and now it seems nothing will be happening until next June."
November 27: Loan star John Oster spoke about what the future holds for him as he comes into the final week of his loan spell at Leeds. He said: "I've still got next week here, but I would think I will be speaking to the gaffer over the next few days and I'll be able to get my head around what will happen. It's a long way from saying I'll be staying here because Sunderland will want something for me, so it's hard to say how things will turn out." Kevin Blackwell hasn't yet indicated whether or not Oster will stay - despite his excellent contributions so far - but that's hardly surprising in the aftermath of the Shaun Derry fiasco.
November 27: Leeds' 6-1 hammering of QPR last weekend won the League Managers' Association Performance of the Week award (to no great surprise). A 5-man team - including Fergie and Wilko - made a special mention of Brian Deane's four goals, with Deane picking up the award with manager Kevin Blackwell on Sky's Soccer Saturday programme today.
November 27: Darren Huckerby scored a vital goal today, netting Norwich's equaliser from just three yards out as they came back to draw 1-1 at Birmingham. Michael Bridges scored his first league goal in over four years, coming on as a late sub at Stoke and heading in the only goal of the game 7 minutes from time for Sunderland. Jacob Burns also scored the only goal of the game, smashing in a 25-yarder as Barnsley beat Blackpool 1-0 at Oakwell. In the Conference, Bob Taylor was also on target with a long-range effort at the end of the first half when Tamworth were 2-1 down at Hereford, but the visitors couldn't complete the comeback and that's how the game finished. Down in Conference North, Bradford Park Avenue manager Carl Shutt has been faced with huge injury problems, and has been forced to name himself and his coaching staff as emergency subs in the last couple of games. But he showed that there's still some life in his scoring boot yet, bagging the equaliser today as BPA came from behind to draw 3-3 at home to Ashton. I also notice that Shaun Allaway has found himself a new home: after failing to win a contract at QPR, he's now signed a week-by-week contract with Slough Town (cheers to my Icelandic correspondent whose name begins with a non-ASCII character and exposes my sad lack of knowledge of how to anglicise Nordic languages).
November 26: Matthew Kilgallon got his second red card of the season as he berated the linesman for failing to flag for Liverpool's equaliser offside. Simon Johnson had a load of chances but only converted one after early domination by the visitors. Harpal Singh also came close to scoring after appearing as a half-time sub for Andy Keogh, and Matthew Spring grew in confidence through the game on his return from a hip injury. Liverpool equalised when a goal kick went all the way downfield allowing Robbie Foy to latch onto it and fire home, despite (misguided) United protests that he had been offside.
November 26: Brian Deane is taking a leaf out of Michael Jackson's book (no, he's not doing THAT) and will be spending some long sessions in an oxygen tent as he tries to get over his hamstring injury sustained in the Watford game. Leeds physio Dave Hancock said: "The oxygen chamber gives players a quicker healing rate, so Brian will use it for two days and we'll give him a scan at the training ground on Saturday to assess the extent of the injury." Deane looks certain to miss the Rotherham game on Monday night and must also be doubtful to make it back in time to face two of his former clubs - Leicester and West Ham - at the start of December.
November 26: Matthew Spring was delighted to complete 90 minutes of a game in the reserves' fixture with Liverpool last night after a long lay-off with a hip injury. Speaking after the game, he said: "I didn't feel it at all. I'll probably be a bit stiff in the morning but I came through OK." He went on: "It won't be easy [to break into the team] because the team is playing well at the moment. They have a method that seems to be working and which the players like and when things are going well, it's not easy to break into the side. But there are a few players nearing suspensions and until Seth Johnson and Eirik Bakke are fit again, I'm the only real cover for midfield."
November 26: Steve Guppy is certainly getting around a bit this season. After being released from an initial loan spell at Leeds at the start of September, he switched to Stoke on a short-term contract. But now that too has finished, and on Wednesday night he turned out for Woking reserves, although he's only training with the non-league side prior to another move to the USA as he continues to seek a first-team place.
November 26: Your friendly local rumour mill today spat out another bizarre suggestion. This time, the indications are that Sebastien Sainsbury - who was understood to be nothing more than a front man for the Nova group with little investment of his own - is intent on coming back to the club with a renewed bid, but backed by someone who actually has some money this time. Needless to say the board will treat his approach with extreme scepticism and will require firm proof of funding before wasting any more time on him. Will this turn into a real bid? Well call me a cynic but the fact that he's already started leaking his intentions would suggest we're in for a rerun of the Nova fiasco, but you never know. Meanwhile Norman Stubbs is due back in the country this weekend, and if no other bid materialises, Stubbs and his group could be ready to confirm their investment in the club by the end of next week.
November 25: Noticed a one-line story in today's Guardian that begs further investigation. It says: "The footballer Lee Bowyer has offered a six-figure sum to settle a civil action over an assault in 2001 on Sarfraz Najeib. Bowyer was cleared of the attack." So is he admitting he did something wrong? And if so, what? And what about Woodgate and the others? Maybe more later...
November 25: Brian Deane was due at Thorp Arch this morning for an extensive check-up following his breakdown at the end of the first half last night. He has picked up a hamstring injury - but it's not clear how serious the problem is yet. Kevin Blackwell said: "At the moment we don't know the extent of Brian's injury. It could take a week to get right or he could be out for six weeks. We'll just be guided by the medical experts, but it was a blow to lose Brian."
November 25: Clarke Carlisle came in for a real earbashing from Sean Gregan after his involvement in the first Watford goal last night - but Carlisle glossed over Gregan's own howler that handed Dyer his second on a plate. Carlisle said: "No-one intends to make mistakes. It is testament to Sean's character that his head didn't go down. He still wanted the ball and helped us to get that result. We will rally round him. He shook my hand for getting the goal but he helps me out of the mire every week. It's about time I returned the favour." Kevin Blackwell was a bit less complimentary: "I have had a word with Sean but I just feel the ball into him was a stupid ball, and I've had to tell Danny Pugh that. If someone's coming up behind him and he's only four or five yards off him then there's nowhere Shaun can go, but it was a sloppy pass and Shaun accepts that. If we don't accept mistakes, hold our hands up and learn from them, we're not going to get anywhere." But Blackwell was pleased with the overall effort: "We are Leeds United and we are proud to be here and I want every player at this football club to feel the same. When we come off that pitch we will have given everything we can and our fans give us everything, and that's that way we have to be from here until eternity."
November 25: There were rumours doing the rounds today that more boardroom interference was responsible for Leeds' failure to sign Shaun Derry. With everything apparently agreed, after completing a comprehensive medical and with a formal press release already on the wires, The deal was cancelled at the eleventh hour with director Melvyn Levi allegedly consulting former Spurs boss David Pleat and over-ruling Kevin Blackwell's football judgement. Of course it could be more rumour and conjecture from some of the same sources that fed us a line over the Nova bid...
November 25: Steve Agnew's reserves gave up a late equaliser at Wakefield tonight to draw 1-1 with Liverpool. More later.
November 24: A day after telling us of the wonderful football we're about to witness, Kevin Blackwell now says that the fans will need to be patient and can't expect to see the team score six every week. But Blackwell reckons that Leeds will have to fight for a win against a team with a confidence-boosting hammering of Premier League Southampton under their belts. "Ray [Lewington - Watford boss] has made sure they've gone unbeaten in their last eight games away from home. Our players might have to battle it out because Watford are a well organised side who know how to battle hard themselves, and they are very good at set-plays. Blackwell said: "Watford will come here and be very resolute and very hard to break down, and what we don't need is everybody getting anxious because we're not winning 5-0 at half-time." Come on Kev - do you think we're idiots? We'll be happy with a four goal lead...
November 24: Leeds striker David Healy says that he's still happy to take the spot kicks at Elland Road, despite having his attempt saved on Saturday. After fighting Simon Walton for the ball - admittedly following KB's instructions - Healy hit the ball hard enough but at a very saveable height for QPR's Chris Day. But he said he's not letting one miss put him off: "I am prepared to take all the penalties as long as the gaffer is willing to let me. I am a confident player and I know I should have scored on Saturday but in fairness the keeper made a decent save. I will keep stepping forward and when the next one comes along I will be looking to take it."
November 24: The reserves' home game against Manchester United has been put back from Tuesday 25 January to Thursday 27 January due to the rescheduling of the first team match against Derby from the middle of March to Wednesday 26 January.
November 24: Despite what the club said in a press release last night, it now transpires that Shaun Derry's loan move to Leeds has NOT been sanctioned after all. Brian Morris - speaking for the Leeds board (whatever happened to Peter Lorimer?) said: "We haven't been able to conclude the terms of the transfer to Crystal Palace's satisfaction. The situation is we wanted him on loan for a month with a view to a permanent move but they have not agreed. It could happen in the future if terms are agreed."
November 24: Kevin Blackwell was happy that his side battled to a draw against Watford tonight - but was concerned that the hamstring injury which kept Brian Deane in the dressing room for the second half could ruin the squad's recent run of decent performances. Blackwell said: "Their goal came at a time when Watford never looked like scoring a goal, which gave them a massive lift. But I think the lads have shown massive tenacity to step up a gear and keep playing - and I thought we thoroughly deserved at least a point, anyway." Speaking about Deane's injury, Blackwell said: "I haven't got an alternative and it just highlights why I have got to get some players in." Ray Lewington was a bit disappointed to only come away with a point - but noted the progress his side has made: "It says a lot that we can come to Elland Road and be disappointed with a point. I thought particularly in the first half, we were good. We were very good and we carved out some really good opportunities. I think they did as well, but theirs were from set-pieces and putting the ball in there. I think we carved out some good opportunities by playing some decent football."
November 23: Leeds are set to appeal to FIFA and the European Union in a bid to allow Icelandic international Gylfi Einarsson to start playing for the club before the international transfer window opens in January. Although the rules are normally pretty clear on when players' registrations can be transferred, Leeds are relying on a couple of precedents that seemed to establish that such moves were okay provided the player's existing contract had come to an end (on the not entirely unreasonable grounds that the footballing authorities would be clearly acting in restraint of trade if they prevented an unemployed player from taking up a new position). Kevin Blackwell said: "We're speaking with the relevant authorities and we hope we can get over that bridge and have Gylfi available as soon as he joins. It is difficult because we are crossing international boundaries, but we are hoping we can do something." Blackwell explained that he was extremely keen to get the midfielder on board and that he was confident that Einarsson would be able to offer some real options from the off. He said: "I decided that four people would look at him so we would have a broad consensus. Initially I sent Steve Agnew because he was a midfielder and knows the game well. He came back with a good report, then Sam [Ellis] went over and come back with another good report and we decided to bring him over for a week's training. He was head and shoulders above some of the players he was training with and when we look at what we have got, we had to ask is he better than what we have in certain positions? Yes he is." Hmmmm...that would be as an attacking midfielder would it? Well since John Oster has made such an impression since his arrival on loan, and since Simon Walton and Sean Gregan (plus Shaun Derry if it happens) are clearly defensive players, I guess that means "Move over Jermaine Wright!"
November 23: Leeds' attempt to sign Shaun Derry is in doubt at the moment, with conflicting reports saying that he has been unable to agree personal terms, or that the real issue is with Palace being unable to loan him out for a month prior to making the move permanent once the Stubbs investment in the club has been finalised. Derry was at Thorp Arch on Monday and passed a medical - but it remains to be seen if the deal will go through. His agent said: "There are one or two barriers we still have to cross, but we're hopeful we can get the deal done as quickly as possible."
November 23: The ticket office today announced some limited availability for tickets for West Ham away at the start of December. With the game being pulled forward to a Friday night and transport back from London likely to be hard to come by, it's hardly surprising that what would otherwise be a sellout has seen a significant batch of returns. It's almost as surprising that they've not said the same about Rotherham after the short-notice shift of date - although I guess that making the trip down to South Yorkshire from the Leeds area is less of a bind than for the poor sods from East Anglia, London, Scotland, Wales and the South-West who have all seen money go down the drain on train and bus tickets courtesy of Sky's ridiculously late call to televise the game.
November 23: Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell says that fans can expect some exciting times ahead as his huge array of signings finally start to gel. Blackwell once again singled out Sean Gregan for praise: "He's been playing well for the last three or four weeks after I removed the shackles from him. He's only got to worry about himself now, not everybody else. I am delighted because I know what Sean Gregan can do and I want people to believe that when I sign someone I am a fairly good judge of players." On a less controversial note, he added: "What I am also pleased about it David Healy is showing why I signed him, Sean is showing, Neil Sullivan is showing and Paul Butler is showing them, so all the big players are coming to the fore." And although he dare not speak the P word out loud, he adds: "I said it needed time here to put things right, to do things the way we are being forced to rebuild this club, and I still think it will take time. If we are in and around the half-way mark at Christmas, then who knows what we can do?"
November 23: Leeds look set to field an unchanged line-up against Watford tomorrow night after the weekend's 6-1 triumph over QPR. Matthew Spring may make it back to the bench as he once again tries to put together an injury-free run, but otherwise Kevin Blackwell will stick to the winning combination from Saturday. For Watford, Lloyd Doyley is expected to return at full-back, but they are still likely to be missing Hameur Bouazza, Danny Webber, Marcus Gayle and Paul Devlin. So no excuses Kev...
November 23: Leeds tonight announced that Shaun Derry was now a Leeds player - for a month at least. Derry has signed on loan for an initial one-month period, with the clubs agreeing a fee and the player agreeing a two and a half year deal. However the money to make the signing permanent was not available, and Kevin Blackwell was keen to have the player available for the Watford game, so it's a loan deal for now but with the possibility of the permanent switch being inked before the weekend. Blackwell said: "I'm delighted that Shaun is joining the Whites at Elland Road. His track record for Portsmouth and Crystal Palace has been impressive and his experience in the middle of the park will go a long way to strengthening our squad. Our 6-1 win against QPR last weekend was magnificent and adding a player of Shaun's calibre to the team will, hopefully, mean we can continue our winning streak."
November 22: Kevin Blackwell praised his whole team for their display on Saturday and says that it's how he wants to see his team playing in the future. Blackwell said:"In the last couple of weeks, being able to bring in people like David Healy and Johnny Oster allows us to retain the ball better and play the type of football that I like watching. They got a goal out of nothing and then David Healy goes and scores a sublime goal and from that moment onwards our football was superb." He went on: "We had the penalty miss, a goal disallowed and two or three other good chances and in the end QPR were hanging on by their fingertips to try and get some credibility out of the game." And as for four-goal hero Brian Deane, Blackwell said: "He has a great attitude and when you look at what he brings to the youngsters here, with his professionalism and everything else, I'm delighted It's not just about playing, it's what you do off the pitch as well - but don't forget he scored four quality goals out there on Saturday."
November 22: Crystal Palace's midfielder Shaun Derry is next on Kevin Blackwell's shopping list - and he could even be at Elland Road before the Watford game on Wednesday. He has made just 10 appearances for the Eagles this season and was set to face a medical at Thorp Arch later today. Derry arrived at Selhurst Park in summer 2002 after starting his career at Notts County and moving on to Sheffield United and Pompey. He's another combative midfielder - not he most prolific in front of goal - but could give Sean Gregan some more support or provide an alternate when suspensions and injuries arise.
November 22: Leeds Ladies had an easy win in the West Riding County Cup at the weekend, winning 0-14 at Thorpe United. Karen Walker and Jade Malpas both emulated Brian Deane with four goals apiece, Holly Newman scored a hat-trick, Karen Burke got a brace and Natalie Preston also got on the scoresheet. Back to the league and more difficult opposition next week when they travel to Bristol City.
November 21: The day after we finally find that our strikers can score, the rumours suggest we're going to make a move for another one! This time it's Geoff Horsfield of West Brom - a Yorkshire lad himself - who is coming to the end of his contract at the Hawthorns. However, with Bryan Robson newly-installed as Baggies manager, everything is up for grabs and he could still secure himself a regular place and a new deal.
November 20: Gobsmacked. It's the only word I can use to describe what went on this afternoon. Barely taken my seat when the midfield backs off Gareth Ainsworth, allowing him just enough time and space to hammer a 25-yard shot past Neil Sullivan and the gloom prepares to descend for another 90 minutes. But then something bizarre happened. A fluke/delicate half-volley (not seen the tape yet) from the edge of the area by David Healy got us back on level terms and then Deano knocked one in to put us in front. Jermaine Wright followed up his own shot when their keeper spilled it and all of a sudden it was 3-1. Then Deano added two more before the break and we were 5-1 up. "What the f*** is going on?" was the chant from the Kop. A further effort from Deano in the second half made it 6-1 and it could have been more: David Healy's penalty was well-saved by Chris Day after Simon Walton had gone down under the lightest of encouragements, we had the ball in the net and ruled out for offside in the first half, and in the second John Oster was hacked down inside the box with just the keeper to beat, but a very dubious late flag from the touchline saved Rangers from finishing the game with a deficit of players as well as goals. Clarke Carlisle came close to glancing a header in against his former team-mates, and goal hero Deane had a couple more chances well-saved. So what was different today? Not much really if I was being honest: QPR didn't put us under enough pressure at any time, so the Leeds midfield had a bit more time to play, with Jermaine Wright having one of his best games so far and even I would have to concede that Sean Gregan made a few timely interceptions and decent passes. The main thing was that - the first 90 seconds apart - we didn't make any stupid mistakes today, and it's probably also fair to say that we had a little bit of luck (albeit self-made in several cases) with the bounce of the ball. But that's not to detract from a solid team performance that might just signify that Kev has finally got his makeshift team firing on all cylinders: with two more winnable games in the next week or so, we'll be in a good position to judge if that's the case. And while I'm in a good mood, a couple of words of praise for the ref: Mr Webster didn't have that many tough decisions to make but there were a couple of tackles which some of the nitpicking idiots we've had this season would have been flashing the yellow at before the players involved had stopped sliding. Instead, he let the game flow, talked to the players and the only decision I'd quibble with went in our favour when he decided Simon Walton's swallow dive merited a spot kick.
November 20: Today's game takes Gary Kelly to the top of the appearance charts for the 2000s: he's now made 182 appearances for the club since the big digit flipped on the calendar, one more than Alan Smith. In total, Kelly has made 439 appearances for Leeds - 15 as a sub - scoring just 3 goals.
November 20: It was a bad day for Alan Maybury at Tynecastle today: he made a last-ditch last-man challenge on Martyn Corrigan, earning himself a red card and allowing Motherwell's Richie Foran to score the only goal of the game from the spot into the bargain. Warren Feeney raced clear to get a second-half equaliser for Stockport at Doncaster - but the home side soon retook the lead and ended up 3-1 winners. Finally, veteran striker Bob Taylor showed he's still got his shooting boots on as he scored Tamworth's second goal with 8 minutes to go in their 2-1 win over Gravesend.
November 19: Manager Kevin Blackwell has told his team to go into tomorrow's game with high-flying QPR without worrying about bookings and suspensions. With Danny Pugh, Clarke Carlisle and Sean Gregan all just one card away from a ban and Simon Walton just one caution further back, Blackwell is concerned that his players might be anything less than fully committed - and that could cost us dearly. He said: "You can't have players in fear of making a tackle. And they won't be. If you start getting worried and pull out of a tackle it could lead to injury or a late challenge and another booking." One of the three danger men agreed - Clarke Carlisle said: "You have to win your tackles. It's a tough one to call, but I won't be backing out of anything," as he got ready to face his former team-mates. Blackwell is hoping that some of the recent improvement he has detected in the team's performances will finally translate into a good 90 minutes and three points. He said: "I'm sure there will be times when we play rubbish and win so things will equal themselves out - but we have to put on a performance for our home supporters because they have been brilliant. It gets frustrating saying 'oh we played well and didn't get anything' or 'we didn't play well'. I want to be able to talk about a good performance and a good result."
November 19: Kevin Blackwell looks likely to field the same squad - and indeed the same starting XI - as he had for last week's defeat at Ipswich. For the visitors, Marc Bircham is back from suspension and should replace Marcus Bean, with newly-arrived Adam Miller on the bench.
November 18: Kevin Blackwell is leaving no stone unturned in his attempt to find new players for his under-strength squad. He's had all of his coaching staff out on the road watching Premier League reserve games and travelling to Europe - which has led to the offer to Lillestrom's Gylfi Einarsson. He said: "Every member of staff at the club has been out watching games. From the Academy staff through to the seniors, we want to cover as many games as possible and see what's what.It's important that we know who is around and who is doing what if the situation arises where we can do something." And he stressed an immediate need to increase the squad: "We've got a few players nearing suspension and we're just trying to cover all our bases. Preparation is everything and it's vital we are on top of things."
November 18: Leeds physio Dave Hancock is keeping his fingers crossed for left back Stephen Crainey after it emerged that the defender is in the last chance saloon on his current road to recovery, and another similar setback will mean he has to go under the knife and could miss the rest of the season. So far, Crainey has tried rest and physiotherapy but doesn't seem to be able to quite make it back to full fitness. Hancock said: "We could have decided to go straight to surgery with him but we are trying to rehabilitate him without the need for surgery. Any surgery is not always clear cut; Seth Johnson suffered a set-back when he was operated on and got an infection on his knee, so we'll give him as long as possible to recover without an op. At the moment it's difficult for Stephen because he can feel ok one day and not the next. If he did go for an operation he would not play again this season."
November 18: Brighton's Adam Virgo has been credited with the goal against Leeds at the Withdean by the Football League. The strike was originally put down to Clarke Carlisle as an own goal - but the Leeds centreback will be sort of relieved to find out (not that it makes much difference once the three points have gone).
November 18: The Academy side have been drawn against Wigan in the FA Youth Cup third round (which is the first round that Leeds have been involved in). The game will take place at the JJB sometime before December 18.
November 18: Today's YEP carries an article in which Kevin Blackwell talks about his efforts to boost the squad with loan players - and his intent on not repeating last year's mistakes which gave us the likes of Cyril Chapuis and Roque Junior. He says: "For starters, we try and have players watched in their own countries wherever possible and have a proper scouting report, rather than relying on a couple of videos or word of mouth recommendation." And incredibly enough, we're no longer taking the word of agents when it comes to their current form... Just how much of a mess were we in last year? Given the current situation at the club, it's easy to forget - but things were WORSE this time last year.
November 17: Simon Walton comes in for yet more praise from Kevin Blackwell today - but with a little nudge to the board about his need to pick up new talent in the process. Blackwell praised the way that Walton had stepped up to a first team role in the middle of the park after starting the season expecting to be playing for the reserves and youth team at centreback. Blackwell said: "If I am honest I would have a more naturalised midfield player in there. It is his movement off the ball as a centre-half that reflects itself in midfield, and I need more naturalised movement off the ball as a midfield player in midfield, but his enthusiasm, endeavour and workrate are just what I need right now." And he went on: "He is definitely in the team on merit but in the bigger picture Simon will naturalise himself at centre-half and I will get in what I believe to be a naturalised midfield player."
November 17: The reserves went down to a resounding 4-1 defeat at Manchester City last night, despite having a stronger-than-normal side on show. Sean Wright-Phillips' younger brother Bradley picked up a hat-trick and also missed a penalty. Although Julian Joachim pulled a goal back for Leeds early in the second half, it was a pretty poor all-round performance from Steve Agnew's side who remain at the foot of the FA Premier Reserve League North.
November 17: Two midfielders - one currently at Leeds and one recently departed today asked the fans of their respective clubs to give them more time to show what they can do. Sean Gregan admits that he's not played as well as he would have liked, saying: "I've come in and one I've not played for five months... and ...I've been asked to look after players who've not played as many games in their career as I've played last season - so that's been difficult." Which misses the point about why a lot of Leeds fans have taken against him: not that he's failed to produce a wonderfully creative performance or made more tackles than anyone else: it's simply because the "I missed pre-season so I wasn't fully fit" excuse no longer washes after three months, and if you can't manage to run for 90 minutes once or twice a week then you shouldn't be sitting in the middle of an office not a football field. But Gregan reckons things are improving with the arrival of some more experienced faces: "Now Jermaine Wright's come back, Johnny Oster's come in and David Healy's been playing out there and it's given me licence to concentrate on my own game. I feel in the last two games I've been getting better. Maybe if the last two performances had been at Elland Road it might have got the fans off my back a little bit, but I understand the frustration. I came here with high expectations and I have high expectations of myself but I have not performed at home." And he remains hopeful he can convince doubters like me that he's not Paul Okon Mark II: "That's two decent performances from myself now, hopefully I can build on that and win the fans over." I really hope he does. Meanwhile Harry Kewell's form at Anfield has been pleasingly abysmal since he worked his exit from Elland Road - and earlier this week new Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez told him publicly that he needed to improve both form and fitness. Kewell said: "I've been carrying an injury and it's going to take a while for me to get back to my best. But I've spoken to the boss, he has told me what I need and he believes in me, which is great." And he's got his excuses lined up - although he doesn't shirk the hard truth: "A lot has contributed to my form. As well as carrying an injury I have been flying back and forth to Australia. And although I've been playing week in, week out for Liverpool, the injury does play a large part. But they are all excuses, and once you step across the white line you should be 110%. I wasn't and then my fitness went as well, so I have got to work hard. I wouldn't say I'm back in the big time, there's still a long way to go but we're working away at Liverpool."
November 17: Robbie Keane picked up another international goal in last night's 1-0 win over Croatia for Ireland: Alan Maybury made the bench but was an unused sub. Also last night, Scott Carson kept a clean sheet for the half of the game he played in England's U-21 game with Spain. James Milner also played for just under an hour - getting rested shortly before the home side scored the only goal of the game. Tonight's main event saw Paul Robinson beaten early with a header amid defensive chaos, but pulling some credit from the game with a fine penalty save after the Greek ref completely misread what happened as he pushed the ball away from the feet of a Spanish attacker. Rio Ferdinand also played most of the game, and Alan Smith got more time on the pitch than he would have been expecting as his new club colleague Wayne Rooney once again failed to keep his petulant streak under control and had to be subbed before he got himself sent off (and yes, we do see the irony in Smithy coming on in such circumstances). Teddy Lucic was on the winning side as Scotland slumped to yet another defeat, this time losing 1-4 to Sweden.
November 16: According to this morning's Yorkshire Post, Sebastien Sainsbury says that the Nova bid has not yet fallen by the wayside. After failing to provide proof of funds to the club's solicitors (a problem which might or might not have been resolved had the Nova people managed to complete due diligence in time), the YP says that "sources close to Sainsbury" have said that a deal could still be done by the weekend - but first they have to accomplish the terribly difficult task of getting the funds into a UK bank. Meanwhile, Gerald Krasner has employed a rather interesting turn of phrase when he said that the company that had purchased the freehold of Elland Road and Thorp Arch had no links with the "current" board. Since the company in question appears to be an off-the-shelf company recently purchased from a formations agent for the purpose of buying the two chunks of real estate, while admitting that ringfencing a specific investment vehicle in this way isn't unusual, it does rather muddy the waters and means that the beneficial owner of the company (and thus the freehold) will not necessarily become evident for some time. So whether any former members of the board - or indeed close relatives of the current board - are going to get some benefit out of this deal remains to be seen. Will Nova come back to the table with some real money rather than a pile of pink five hundred quid notes that SS pulled out of his Monopoly set? Will the Stubbs consortium install Wilko as director of football if they manage to take over as another set of barely credible rumours would have it? Will somebody convince Gerald Krasner that he's invisible and that the Melvyns are being run by the Mob? Tune in tomorrow for another exciting episode of...
November 16: Today's Daily Mirror (insert your favorite gag about the reliability of stories found in said organ here) reports that Michael Ricketts will be sold as soon as possible. The arrival of David Healy has pushed the big (BIG!) striker even further down the pecking order and despite hiring his own personal trainer he seems no closer to convincing Kevin Blackwell that he is ready for a first team start - never mind getting that start and convincing the fans. So we're to expect him to be shipped out either permanently or on loan if we can't find a buyer in the January transfer window - allowing Kev to pick up a Hungarian or two, the Icelandic lad mentioned earlier and maybe even make the signing of John Oster a permanent one.
November 16: Aaron Lennon has been given an international call-up for the Englad U-19 squad for Thursday's international against France in glamorous Barnsley. He's made 6 sub appearances this season and has looked pretty lively whenever he has come on - but still looks as if he needs to work on his strength to go with his excellent pace.
November 16: John Oster says that he now believes he has no permanent future at Sunderland and is hoping his spell at Leeds will lead to a move away from the Stadium of Light - either to Elland Road or anywhere else he can get a game. He said: "Mick [McCarthy] has been really good to me. We had a chat and mutually agreed that maybe it was time for a change. He kept me involved during my time on the sidelines and said he would try to help me get fixed up somewhere. He's got to play the lads at Sunderland who are going to be there so I needed a move in order to get some games in." As for a permanent move to Leeds, he said: "I've not spoken to the manager about it. We'll see how it goes and whether or not there is a chance the loan can be extended. It's been a while since I last started a game so it was good to get a couple in again. There's half-a-dozen games over the month so I'm hoping to play as much as I can, and do as well as I can."
November 16: Leeds reserves travel to Manchester City tonight with a relatively strong squad compared to recent games. Michael Ricketts, Matthew Kilgallon, Frazer Richardson, Julian Joachim, Jamie McMaster and Simon Johnson all get a game, with Andy Keogh, Jamie Winter and Harpal Singh set to be on the bench.
November 15: Leeds Ladies recorded a good 1-2 win at Liverpool yesterday, Trailing by a goal just before the interval, Sue Smith equalised on 78 minutes and then fired Leeds into a winning position with an overhead kick just two minutes later.
November 15: After the defeat at Ipswich, the usual suspects had the following to say. Kev: "That's the second game I've had my most experienced side out and it's a side I know is capable of getting results home and away. We didn't sit back we took the game to Ipswich when we could and played some great stuff - it's nice to outpass a team who have a big reputation for passing. I thought we defended the ball very well today and I am proud of the lads." And he went on to say that he didn't feel his team had been outclassed by their high-flying hosts: "Ipswich have gone level at the top but they were hanging on for dear life at the end and for us to come here with a team that's been assembled in three months and put a performance on like that leaves me delighted with them." Sean Gregan said that the goal that split the teams was "rubbish". He said: "We've spoken about it in the dressing room and what we've said will remain in there, but we need to address these kind of things because we keep getting punished for them. We played well and created enough chances but when you are opposite ends of the table to your rivals little things go for them but they didn't for us today. " And although Ipswich's Fabian Wilnis said he was a bit surprised to see the ref not rule out the goal for a foul, Neil Sullivan didn't use that as an excuse: "I don't know if it was legitimate or not - it just kind of popped up off me. I was lying on the floor and saw the ball rolling back to me and I just tried to grab it, and [Bent] tried to slide in and score. I can't say for definite that I had the ball in my hands."
November 15: Leeds look to have beaten Cardiff to the signature of Icelandic international Gylfi Einarsson. Einarsson trained with both clubs but according to reports tonight has agreed a switch to Leeds from Lillestrom on a free transfer. However he is unlikely to be available to play for the club until January - although he should be allowed to train with the squad and get himself fully integrated into the setup over the next 6 weeks.
November 14: Want to play in a Leeds United strip at Elland Road? Well if you're prepared to put up some cash for charity, you might just be able to do that. FootballAid is underway again, giving you the chance to do just that. Pay a decent chunk of cash now or take yur chances bidding for a position later - and you too could wear the shirt that is currently graced by Sean Gregan or Michael Ricketts. Come to think of it, if you can show Kevin Blackwell that you can run around the pitch for 45 minutes you might even have a chance of getting a game for the real first team.
November 14: In recent months I've found myself increasingly at odds with what I've been reading in the Yorkshire Evening Post as their sports pages report games that appear to be totally different to the ones that I've been to, and players who may as well not have been on the pitch get rated as "7 - tried hard" rather than "1 - turned up in the right kit". However I've got to agree with what Paul Dews has to say in this article. The spin and leaks from the Nova group - and not least the apparently irreconcilable split between their claim to have twenty five million quid sitting in the bank and ready to move and their failure to even persuade their own solicitors that the money was available - are unprofessional in the extreme, have given rise to conspiracy theories and splits between fans and further fuelled the paranoid, panicked atmosphere at the club. All of which gives me great cause for concern as to how the club would be run should they ever manage to take over. Meanwhile the board haven't always done themselves favours with their actions, statements and the obvious split between the two factions clearly warning any would-be buyer that it might prove difficult to get to completion. But if there is an honest, willing, solvent group out there who might be interested in taking over at Elland Road, then can I respectfully suggest that their first and best move should be to say nowt to nobody bar their solicitors and Mr Krasner and his team until the ink has dried on the paper, and that Mr Krasner should remind the Melvyns of their collective responsibility and follow in wise monkey mode. Maybe then we can finally look forward to some stability and common sense - and even start thinking about football rather than finance.
November 13: Kevin Blackwell has picked up a second Hungarian player for a trial with the clib. Zsolt Baranyas - who plays for Sopron and has three caps - has arrived for a fortnight of training and trial matches as he tries to win a contract.
November 13: We got the tickets in the post last week, and it's less than a fortnight away but we now find that the game at Rotherham has been rescheduled courtesy of Sky. The match was due to take place on Saturday 27 November with a nice normal 3pm kick-off but will now be on the Monday night with the game starting either at 7:45pm or 8:00pm depending on what our TV masters tell us.
November 13: Sebastian Sainsbury and his Nova chums just won't go away. Despite not even being able to convince their own solicitors that they had the cash, he today issued a statement saying that they were still in negotiations with the board and hoping to complete the deal by the QPR game. But Krasner rubbished the claim, saying: "There were possibilities, so we had to give them time. For the benefit of the club and the fans, we gave them five movements of deadline. They never met one of them, so there comes a point in time when performance outweighs promises. I don't think the American deal was ever going to happen. Time will prove us right." Krasner went on to confirm that the club remained in negotiations with a local business consortium: "Local businessmen who are Leeds United fans who to me will always put the well-being of the club before final financial profit. We have said at the beginning that we have limited resources, some of our consortium have had to pledge and sell assets and there is no more money in our consortium to put in, which is why we are quite prepared to bring in other businessmen on a similar basis. We said we would always consider any further outside investment we have been pursuing that for eight months and it's coming to fruition."
November 13: Another goal-free game for the Leeds frontmen and more points dropped - albeit at one of the better teams in the division. Town boss Joe Royle said that the change of formation forced on him by Tommy Miller's injury helped win the game: "With Tommy Miller's injury I had already made up my mind we were going to go with three up front and we passed the ball better." He went on: "We defended well, and we have just had our third clean sheet in four games. We have said if we do keep clean sheets then we will have a great chance because we usually score." Kevin Blackwell reckoned his side deserved a point: "Ipswich were hanging on at the end. With everything that is going on at the club it is a tribute to the players. I felt my players played well and we pushed one of the top sides all the way. There are plenty of sides that will come here and go away with nothing."
November 13: Warren Feeney scored two of Stockport's goals in their 3-1 FA Cup win over Huddersfield this afternoon. For Sunderland, Steve Caldwell scored the only goal of the game as they won 0-1 at Leicester, but it was a less enjoyable afternoon for Danny Mills - conceding a penalty and picking up a red card into the bargain as Man City let a 1-0 lead slip to a 1-1 draw against Blackburn. Finally Paul Robinson - watched by Sven - conceded five, at least two of which were substantially his fault as Spurs narrowly lost a nine-goal thriller at home to Arsenal.
November 12: There's a press conference organised for 2pm, and it seems certain that they will be announcing that Nova's move to buy the club has failed and that the current board will have to do a sale and leaseback on Elland Road in order to continue to make debt repayments. It's also possible that more information might be released on the Norman Stubbs takeover/buy-in approach.
November 12: Scott Carson is in the England U-21 line-up for next week's international against Spain. Also included are James Milner and Jermaine Pennant - neither of whom are getting much football for their respective clubs at the moment: shame we can't persuade them to come back for a regular start. Leeds Ladies players Sue Smith and Karen Burke have been called into the England squad for next week's training camp.
November 12: Former Leeds striker Clyde Wijnhard has signed a permanent contract for Darlington. The 31-year-old has scored four times in six games on a match-by-match contract and has now committed himself to the Quakers until the end of next season. Darlo boss David Hodgson said: "He's a proven goalscorer and has impressed everyone since he came in last month."
November 12: It was confirmed today that Sunderland will only be giving us 1500 tickets for the Boxing Day match rather than the expected 4000. They were forced to take the decision by the local licensing authority, which looked at previous Leeds visits to the Stadium of Light and also at comments from other grounds we've visited this season. Consequently, the Ticket Office has announced that they will be allocating tickets using the "loyalty points" scheme introduced earlier this season.
November 12: The Sainsbury/Nova deal is well and truly off, and the board are selling Elland Road to the same bloke who bought Thorp Arch on similar terms - but the plus point is that this will pay off Jack Petchey and enable the club to go forward without a financial millstone around its neck. Gerald Krasner said: "As a result of this sale and lease back Mr Petchey will no longer have any involvement in Leeds United by way of loans and we will avoid any further interest payments," confirmed Krasner. There is a formula for buying back Elland Road if further funds are available to us. The lease would be for a starting period of 25-years. Our strategy on day one was to consider a remortgage or a sale and lease back of both Thorp Arch and Elland Road, but that football will continue to be played on both properties. What is important to us is that the team goes forward and plays football, albeit that we might not own the ground but rent it." And in a riposte to the many knockers out there (and I admit from time to time I've not exactly had the kindest words to say about them), he added: "I am hopeful that by next week instead of the debt being north of Â£30m we will be well under Â£25m in debt - which is from a starting point of Â£105m. We have kept this club afloat and we are now consolidating. We are doing exactly what we said we would do on day one - we have not deviated." And at the moment, I've got to say they remain pretty much the only game in town.
November 11: After John Oster's arrival at Elland Road seems to have sidelined Simon Johnson - who looked pretty impressive in his brief appearances - there's a suggestion today that Johnson could be back on Wearside and maybe even on a permanent basis if Oster continues to impress Kevin Blackwell. Oster is at Elland Road on an initial one-month loan, but seems to be happy enough to stay if it means he gets first team football. He said: "At the moment, it's a month and we'll see how it goes and whether there is a chance that the loan can be extended. I'm happy with the way it's started and I just hope we can carry on getting results." Meanwhile Mick McCarthy never wanted to let Johnson come back to Leeds but was forced to do so when the recall clause in the loan was activated - but a swap deal involving the two players might just tickle his fancy.
November 11: Stephen Crainey has been knocked off the road to recovery after breaking down in training as he neared a comeback from a groin strain. It now looks like he'll be out for at least another month, and Danny Pugh or Matthew Kilgallon will have to continue to provide cover. Don't want to jinx Crainey so soon, but does anyone remember David Robertson?
November 11: Football finance experty Bill Gerrard today said that he found it "infuriating" that once again the future of the club was being decided behind closed doors, with information on the financial standing and future plans of the Nova group sketchy in the extreme. In today's Yorkshire Post, he says: "The fact is we found out more about Adulant Force once the deal had been done in March and it was all bad news... I was totally against the current board from the start. They have done more harm in eight months than Peter Ridsdale did. I said in March what would happen and the board have done everything I expected. Far from saving the club, they have systematically destroyed it." And with anothe repayment due to Jack Petchey tomorrow and the cupboard once again nearly bare, another asset sale would appear to be on the cards: "The sale of Elland Road will be the board's only option. The best case scenario would then be the ground being sold on Friday afternoon and the Petchey debt wiped out. The board will have to hope Norman Stubbs can come through with the money to buy them out."
November 11: As promised, Hungarian midfield Andras Kohalmi is back at Elland Road for a second trial spell and hoping to pick up a move in the January transfer window. After playing for Ujpest Dosza last night, he's heading straight over to England this morning to let Kevin Blackwell finally make up his mind. Kohalmi said: "I'm very optimistic before my trial because it looks like United would like to sign me. If they are satisfied with me then it's almost certain that my future will be decided in a week." Let's hope they don't want a lot (i.e. any) money for him, because unless this takeover happens he's going to be one unhappy chappy.
November 11: Despite UEFA giving plastic pitches the thumbs up the other day, Leeds today denied that Elland Road's turf would be ripped up. Contradicting his positive approach from just a few days earlier, COO Shaun Harvey told the official website: "We will not be installing a synthetic pitch here. Our groundstaff take great pride in providing a quality surface at Elland Road and we do not have any concerns over the pitch." So that's clear then...
November 11: Youth team left-back Ben Parker has signed a full contract with LUFC after turning 17 on Monday. He has made several reserve team appearances as well as playing for England at U-17 level. After signing a deal that takes him up to the end of the 2006-07 season, he said: "I am very grateful to the club for showing so much faith in me, it is a great thrill to have signed my first professional contract. The club has been going through a lot of change, but having the likes of Simon Walton here sets a great example for all us youngters to follow. I know that if I perform to the best of my abilities, sooner or later I will get a chance in the side."
November 11: Former Leeds striker Tony Hackworth - whose first team career of just three games started in Barcelona in the Champions League, ended at Elland Road against Lazio and had the League Cup defeat at Tranmere in the middle - is now at Scarborough, and they will take on a Leeds XI in a behind-closed-doors game tomorrow which will feature mainly youth team players but could also see Hungarian triallist Andras Kohalmi given a full game to show what he can do.
November 11: It would seem that the Nova takeover deal has hit a slight bump. To nobody's great surprise, due diligence is taking somewhat longer than the allotted time (given the parlous state of our finances and huge pile of outstanding payments due to managers, agents, players and board members never mind charges against various bits of real estate, did they think there would be a simple accounts book to leaf through?). The upshot is that no bank in their right mind would want to release funds - assuming they actually hold them - until such a process is completed and in unattributed reports tonight, it appears that's what has happened. So quite what that means for the likelihood of completion tomorrow ahead of the latest deadline for paying back a chunk of the Petchey loan or being hit by its usurious penalty clauses we can only speculate. But right now it's looking increasingly likely that a sale and leaseback of Elland Road will have to go ahead, and give some encouragement to Norman Stubbs' group's takeover attempt.
November 10: Former Leeds MD David Richmond today poured cold water on suggestions that he was trying to scupper the Nova takeover deal. Rumours have been doing the rounds over the last few days that the Richmonds had tried to intervene in the negotiations between Michael Lucas, Sebastien Sainsbury and the board, demanding cash in addition to the repayment of his earlier investment in the club. But speaking in today's Yorkshire Post, Richmond said: "There have been a lot of rumours flying around about me and the current situation but I can categorically say they are rubbish. I am not a director of Leeds United, I am not party to the negotiations of Leeds United and I have no influence at Leeds United. I put money into the club back in March, which for me was an awful lot of money. That is still in the club but I cannot make any demands on anyone. I am not part of any consortium and for people to talk about me making demands for this amount or that amount of money to push a deal through is absolute nonsense." And he went on: "All I want to do is live a normal life and go watch Leeds United with my kids in the future as a supporter. I am a fan and just want whichever deal is the best for the future of the club to go through." It's clear that there has been some degree of truth in some of the "facts" appearing on a variety of internet message boards and over the general LUFC grapevine - and it would appear that somebody, if not on the inside then perilously close to the edges of the deal is taking a great deal of time and trouble to make these things public with enough real information to make them seem credible. So is it a conspiracy by somebody trying to take advantage of the situation - or is it just some stirring the smelly brown stuff? And is the state of paranoia that the board and fans of Leeds United now seemingly permanently inhabit ever going to be replaced with good old-fashioned doubt and uncertainty - it's clearly too much to ask for the truth. Well we've got 36 hours to wait until the next deadline - time for a quick nap before the fun starts.
November 10: Jamie McMaster will be back in the squad for this weekend's trip to Ipswich after recovering from the neck injury sustained at the end of his loan spell at Swindon. Kevin Blackwell said: "Jamie's been back here for a while and it was just unfortunate he suffered concussion at a time when he might have been able to come in and help us. He's got a bit more experience now and we'll see how that can help us. The main thing is it's another body in the squad."
November 10: Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell says he's still four players short of his ideal squad despite the recent arrival of David Healy. Blackwell said that he was finding it increasingly hard to find players like Brett Ormerod from Premier League sides as injuries and suspensions start to tell on the top flight. Speaking on the official website, he said: "I brought John Oster in but we are open to the same problem we had with Brett Ormerod, with Sunderland able to recall him after the first month - you try and build something but it's taken away from you... I need to get 16 players and use all the youngsters after that to give me a squad of 24 players. At the moment it's difficult trying to get clubs to give me players for nothing." Maybe he'll find it a bit easier to buy after the takeover has freed up all that cash for the transfer kitty (assuming the new owners don't change the manager at the same time).
November 09: Can I be bothered to write anything about the takeover today? Short version: more talks, more press statements, some just-visible progress. Slightly longer version: earlier today, finance director Melvin Helme made it plain that things were at a bit of an impasse: "When somebody in Mr Sainsbury's position says he's going to be chairman and it doesn't happen, then says he's going to take over the club and it doesn't happen, we as a club have to draw a line. The board will be discussing the position between ourselves to see where we go but basically, Mr Sainsbury, please provide proof of funds and then we can all get on with it." Sainsbury meanwhile stirred the apparent boardroom conflict: "It is very clear that the board cannot agree with each other. But the position is very clear. It was agreed between Mike Lucas and Melvyn Helme in front of other people inside the boardroom that we would exchange contracts on Thursday. What is the difficulty in that?" Later on it emerged that there had been some progress yesterday, with Sainsbury apparently securing what he hopes will be sufficient documentation from the Nova group's bankers to satisfy the board, and a spokesman for the club confirming that Nova chairman Michael Lucas had produced some papers which were now with the club's solicitors, and Gerald Krasner went on to confirm that this was the case - although he insisted there was still much to discuss and terms to agree before the deal was done. Steve Parkin - who fronted one of the many failed bids for the club at the back end of the season - is also said to be in with the Nova group and will be on the board if they manage to complete the takeover as part of their attempts to give their bid a more local flavour.
November 09: Matthew Spring will be out for around a month according to some reports today. Spring has completed just two 90-minute stints for the first team so far this season and has been never really shaken off hip and groin injuries that have troubled him since the pre-season tour. Stephen Crainey's return is also likely to be delayed - which could be good news for Matthew Kilgallon - but at least he is looking to be back in action before the end of the month. On a - slightly - more positive note, Kevin Blackwell reported that both Eirik Bakke and Seth Johnson could return to the squad around February. Johnson was expected back sometime in the New Year and has already started running again, but Bakke was thought unlikely to play this season after picking up an injury on the pre-season tour of Sweden and having either of them back will be a huge boost to the team's chances on the promotion run-in.
November 09: Okay, I wasn't going to say any more about it today, but the club have just issued a statement this evening in which they confirmed that - subject to Nova transferring funds to their solicitors by Thursday night, the board would confirm the sale and get completion by 1300 on Friday. Nova chairman Michael Lucas said: "We are looking forward to completing the contract and working towards Premiership status," and Gerald Krasner concurred: "The intention of the Board is to secure the best possible future for the Club and we look forward to completing a successful deal on Friday." The statement also said that there would be no more press statements, leaks, emails or sly mutterings on the subject by either side until Friday when either the deal will be done or the whole slanging match will kick off again (not their exact words, but you get the picture).
November 08: Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell articulated the feelings of many Leeds fans when he described Sean Gregan as "immense". However it seems he was referring to his performance rather than his oil-tanker-like bulk and turning circle. Blackwell said that he owed Gregan an apology for asking him to "bring through" three youngsters alongside him for many of the games so far - which again is a bit strange since from what I've seen it's only the immense energy that the likes of Danny Pugh and Simon Walton have brought into the middle of the park that have minimised the damage caused by Gregan's stately performances. Blackwell said that the new arrivals had made a difference: "We brought in Johnny Oster as a wide man and put David Healy on the opposite side and all of a sudden we were able to keep the ball and we passed it with some aplomb. Sean took a hell of a knock on his leg early on - it's black and blue - we didn't think he'd last the game but that's the sort of player Sean Gregan can be." Now maybe I'm being harsh: I don't know the bloke, barely seen him play prior to this season, sure he's a lovely fella and all that. But all I can judge him on is what he does in the 90 minutes of a football match, and to date I've seen missed tackles and an inability to track runners, late challenges that give away free kicks in dangerous areas and the plain fact that he can't get much beyond the hour mark before the ability to run more than 5 yards deserts him. I'm sure that a fit Sean Gregan would be an immense asset to a second division side - but all we've seen to date is a passenger who hasn't paid his fare.
November 08: New striker David Healy was understandably pleased to bag a brace on Saturday - but he stressed that it was the three points for the team rather than the personal glory that mattered. He said: "As a striker the main thing is for me to get off the mark because it's been three games coming. It's well documented that when strikers don't score goals people and the press start counting the games and the minutes, so for me to get off the mark was a relief. Unfortunately for Preston it's at Deepdale, but I am a Leeds United player now and hopefully I can move on from here and get many more goals." He went on: "The boys knew coming in after Wednesday, where we took a bit of stick off the supporters which was justified at the time, that we were very poor. But the Gaffer's rallied us and the boys knew what the job was all about... It was a good day all round, not just for myself but for Leeds United Football Club as well."
November 08: The board today tried to pressure the Nova consortium into finally agreeing to their terms after a weekend of spin and counter-spin. The board say that they aren't going to waste any of their time - and the club's money - on negotiations and professional fees unless Sebastien Sainsbury and his partners in the States can show clear evidence of the required funds. To add a bit of urgency to proceedings, they set the consortium a deadline of the end of Monday to put up or shut up - although there was some evidence to indicate this might be a bit flexible if the right noises were made by the right people. Still hard to tell whether this is another Sheikh/Uganda bidor whether there's some substance behind the smoke and mirrors. Whatever else has been said about the current board and their motivations, I'm pretty convinced that if someone turned up waving the £25 million then their hands would be snapped off and the ink would now be drying on the contracts. But this is Leeds United we're talking about - and things are never, EVER done the simple way at Elland Road.
November 08: The reserve team game against Boro scheduled for tomorrow night at Wakefield has been put back to cater for the visitors' Carling Cup clash. The game will now take place on Wednesday 5 January.
November 07: Leeds director Simon Morris hit out at Sebastien Sainsbury's claims that his group were ready to move on a takeover and poured scorn on their claims to have proven they had funds ready. Morris said: "The letter says [their solicitor] is being instructed by a third party broker from Florida who in turn says he has been instructed by Nova Financial Partners. The lawyer has confirmed he is yet to engage them as his clients. He has also made reference that they have assured £50 million is available, however, he cannot confirm this himself. I'm not a broker but if anyone can tell me how that constitutes proof that they have £25m then I'd like to know. It's ambiguous to say the least." In a - poorly-spelled and not always grammatically correct - message purporting to come from Sainsbury that appeared on the net today, he hints at the split within the board, praising Melvyn Levi's work and also giving Gerald Krasner some praise - but notably not mentioning Helme and Morris. He also threatens to reveal all if he is forced to step away - but if he's had any sort of engagement with the board he will almost certainly have been required to sign a confidentiality agreement, so I wouldn't put much faith in it.
November 07: Leeds are said to be one of several English clubs considering installing an artificial playing surface at Elland Road if UEFA rule that such pitches would be acceptable in European competition when they meet next week. Leeds COO Shaun Harvey said that things had come a long way from the high-bounce, high-abrasion surfaces that a couple of clubs had in the 1980s. He said: "We already have a state-of-the-art artificial pitch at our training ground which is as near to grass as it can be. The players are delighted with it and a lot of clubs, especially in the lower divisions, would benefit from replacing their grass pitches because they'd be able to use them seven days a week." Of course it would rather put the mockers on staging high-profile events like the Tri-Nations Rugby League Final, but they're few and far between. UEFA spokesman Marc Timmer said that injuries were no more frequent on artificial surfaces: "The main barrier is psychological but someone needs to take a stand and consider an alternative to natural turf."
November 07: Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell says that yesterday's win at Preston could be the start of an improvement in the team's performances. He said: "The signs are that this side is a decent side which just needs time. There wasn't a player who didn't do what I asked them to do."
November 06: Former Leeds youngster Nathan Lowndes has departed Plymouth for a nominal fee, joining Port Vale on a two and a half year deal. Vale manager Martin Foyle said: "I am delighted we have got our man at last, as we needed a striker to share the load. Nathan is a player who we know can get goals at this level, although I am not putting pressure on him to score because we need to spread it out."
November 06: Today's random takeover blah is just more of the same. Sainsbury says the money's there and the deal will be done soon, the board say it's not. Norman Stubbs remains keen to do what he can for the club - but his group is resisting pressure from - some members of - the current board to stump up some more cash to line their pockets to make them go away, while their colleagues would be happy to escape with their money back.
November 06: David Healy struck twice to help Leeds to a 4-2 win against his hapless former club Preston today - but the two big stars on the pitch were new boy John Oster and the much-maligned Brian Deane. Oster had an excellent debut on the right side of midfield, covering a lot of ground and making some telling creative contributions, while Deane - booed by a large number of fans on Wednesday night - answered the criticism in the best possible way with an unmarked header for the first goal and an equally good head back across the face of goal to set up Simon Walton for the fourth. Healy spent quite a bit of the game out on the wing, and Kevin Blackwell said: "David isn't just here to score goals for me. He will be a main contributor to people scoring goals. He is an intelligent man who can play the game at a high level. I have not gone out and signed just anybody. My wider areas have been a problem to me. But by moving David out wide the ball rotation has been better...I am proud of the players, not only did we win it, but we won it with some style." But don't get too excited: we could have been a goal down inside 2 minutes after poor defence let Preston have a free shot deflect just over the bar, and a mix-up between Clarke Carlisle and Neil Sullivan saw Sullivan's rushed clearance bounce off the backside of Preston's Alan Smith lookalike and spin an inch past the post. Obligatory abuse of Sean Gregan: still too slow, off the pace and spiteful in tackles - and was very lucky the linesman didn't have the view we did of his elbow flying in on a Preston player's head. Drop him now before he costs us another goal or another game playing with ten men.
November 06: A few goals to report from our old boys today. Nick Barmby picked up a goal for Hull after just 7 seconds in their game against Walsall as the home side went on to win 3-1. Craig Hignett scored a goal in each half for Darlo as they won 1-2 at Rushden. Robbie Keane struck from the spot but Spurs had already conceded three against Charlton and although they pulled another goal back against their 10-man visitors, they couldn't scrape a point. Former Leeds youngster Caleb Folan scored in the very last minute for Chesterfield as they beat Blackpool 1-0 at home. But pride of place today goes to Bob Taylor: the veteran striker scored a 25-yard screamer and went on to bag a hat-trick in ten second half minutes today, helping Tamworth to come from a 2-0 deficit to beat Leigh RMI 2-3.
November 05: Sunderland midfield John Oster is Kevin Blackwell's latest addition to the squad, arriving at Elland Road on a month's loan and going straight into the squad for tomorrow's trip to Deepdale. The former Everton man has played twice for Wales this year but seems to have fallen out of favour with Mick McCarthy at the Stadium of Light.
November 04: Kevin Blackwell was furious after last night's game - but his anger was directed at his own players rather than the usual target of the ref or the fans who booed the team off the field at the end. In fact Blackwell apologised to the supporters who have got behind the team through thick and thin (and for two years that's increasingly thin) and whose patience has finally snapped, saying: "I can't blame the fans for booing the players off. If I'd been in the crowd I'd have booed as well. The fans here have shown magnificent loyalty and they've had nothing but slaps in the face for the past two or three years." Praise for the crowd - but a big stick for the players: "We showed contempt for a team that went a goal down after 12 seconds. We thought it was going to be a cakewalk and we took liberties. We did everything we could have done for Burnley bar scoring their goals. We gave them everything on a plate." And he further lambasted his squad, saying: "I will not defend the players for an inept performance like that because I owe it to the fans to tell it how it is, not pussyfoot around and hide behind bulls**t - and I won't. We were poor and I apologise to the fans who have been magnificent this year. We got what we deserved and if anyone thinks he can pull on the white shirt of Leeds United and have the right to win he is sadly mistaken." A few digs were directed upwards as well, when he complained about the lack of leadership and asked for the current ownership issues to be resolved as soon as possible.
November 04: The Nova deal to takeover Leeds is still on and will be sealed by the end of the week according to Sebastian Sainsbury. He said: "There are no stumbling blocks. We'll complete some of the compliance issues and some of the contractual issues and then sit down with both parties, show the proof of funds and have a completed agreement we can sign. There's nothing to put us off but there are issues that need to be sorted out and agreed upon between both parties." He insisted that both he and the Americans were committed to the deal. Speaking on Radio 4, he said: "Michael Lucas, president of Nova, has been here solidly for two weeks, and I'm up in Leeds at the moment," he added. "I don't think we'd be sitting with lawyers day in and day out if we weren't serious about completing this deal. Nothing can be guaranteed but we are doing our utmost to make sure it gets done by the end of the week."
November 03: The board are still not satisfied with the financial credentials of the Sainsbury/Nova consortium and are continuing to talk to other interested parties "in the best interests of the the club", or to try to force up the price by traditional auction methods depending on how cynical you're feeling. Former Tay Homes boss Norman Stubbs was part of the Parkin group's abortive bid earlier this year and has retained an active interest in taking a stake in the club. But Stubbs' group acknowledge that they've got nothing like the amount of cash being bandied about by Sainsbury's mob, and as fans themselves would be happy to stand aside if it was clear that the transatlantic bid was in the club's long-term best interests. Sainsbury insisted the deal was going ahead: "We are proceeding for closing the deal on Friday. The banks are communicating with the lawyers and we are trying to put something together which requires a huge amount of regulatory approval and documentation. We have confirmed to the board that the money is sitting in a bank ready to do the deal."
November 03: Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell has hit out at the continued speculation in the press over the club's future. Since he joined the club at Peter Reid's invitation, Blackwell has barely seen a week go by when there wasn't some public speculation about the club going out of business or changing hands, and he is fed up with the way it is unsettling everybody at Elland Road. He said: "For the benefit of everyone at this club - manager, players, fans and directors - it is time people put up or shut up and let's just get Leeds United back on the back pages for football reasons. We have enough pressure as it is. I've had a meeting with the players this week and told them to put the takeover talk out of their minds." He went on: "I don't need to go through the same scenario. Even players on big, big money were affected. Now we have players on a twentieth of those earnings, so certainly they are going to be affected too. They and I don't need that at the moment."
November 03: Young Irish centreback Henry McStay has returned from his loan spell at Halifax with a knee injury. Town boss Chris Wilder said: "It is not looking good. We have to wait until the injury settles down, but the feeling is that he might have nicked his cartilage."
November 03: Kevin Blackwell asked the fans to give him and his team a bit more time to sort things out and get some winning form together. After three defeats in a row, the frustration from the terraces has been growing, culminating in certain players getting the bird in recent games. Blackwell said: "I can fully understand the frustration of supporters. I get totally frustrated not being able to bring the players I want in and being able to do what I want to do. But I did not write the rules here at this football club; I did not lose our team, I did not lose the money an it wasn't the players here that did it. They are trying to get this club back on track very, very quickly whilst dealing with the fact that we are the biggest club in this division and everyone wants to play us and give 110% against us because of who we are." He praised the support that the team had recieved, and pointed to a couple of unlucky results, saying: "I have gone home after the Wigan and Sunderland games and I know we should not have been losing those games, but this time last year we had a totally different squad of players... I hate leaving Elland Road with the scoreboard reading Leeds 0 Wigan 2, it's no disrespect to Wigan football club but we are Leeds United Football Club but it's where we are right now and it's exceedingly hard to accept."
November 03: A goal up after 12 seconds and still we lose. Jermaine Wright's opener from David Healy's flick-on came before many people had reached their seats, but it wasn't long before a loose backpass from Clarke Carlisle and some hesitation from Neil Sullivan had allowed Lee Roche to bring the visitors back into the game. Then just past the half hour mark, Sullivan spilled a headed ball at the feet of Richard Duffy and we were a goal down. Despite having the lion's share of the possession in the second half, we never managed to make the final ball tell and the team ended up being booed off the pitch when the whistle went for full time. Kevin Blackwell knows he has a lot of work to do before Saturday...
November 02: Kevin Blackwell is still backing his young players to succeed at the top, despite a couple of slip-ups on Sunday. Danny Pugh and Frazer Ricgardson were both at fault for Wigan's second goal, but the manager appreciates that he is in a bit of a dilemma. He said: "I cannot give these players experience, they have to learn by their mistakes. Unfortunately for us at the moment I think five under the age of 20 is too many inexperienced players for us to carry in this team, but injuries have dictated things. If you can't have a squad of the size we need you have got to hope that any youngsters that come in hit it off straight away. That isn't going to happen with five of them in the squad. Players with only ten or twelve games under their belt are not experienced enough." He's out looking for more players on the loan market again, and has apparently approached - and been rebuffed by - Arsenal with a request for another month of Jermaine Pennant's services after the England U-21 star's season-long spell with the club last season.
November 02: The reserves went down 2-0 to Newcastle last at Kingston Park last night. None of the senior players were available to Steve Agnew with the fixture falling so close to the first team games against Wigan on Sunday and Burnley tomorrow. Martin Woods, Andy Keogh and Jamie Winter were the most experienced players on show, and the most notable thing about the game was the booking for young keeper William Coyles, given after he belted the ball out of the ground after the linesman ruled that a ball that he thought he had saved had crossed the line.
November 02: It's just like the good old days of January and February. Every day, we get a press comment from the consortium who want to take over saying just how swimmingly everything is going, and every day the club come back and say that no real progress has been made. Sebastian Sainsbury insisted that his pledge to deliver proof of financing by close of business Monday meant Monday in the States, since that's the consortium's base. Speaking to the Yorkshire Post he said: "The money is in place and we are in the process of sending the documents to the club's lawyers, Walker Morris. We have made it clear to the other parties that the money will be arriving to complete the deal on Friday, November 5. We are having to meet the conditions put on us by the club's lawyers. They want proof of funds and also details of where the money has come from, which makes it a complicated process." Rumours indicate that there is a boardroom split (again) between one faction that wants to walk away from the club with their pride and wallets intact, and the other side which thinks that the board members deserve half a million quid each for the six months of effort they have put into keeping the club afloat. Not a bad payday if you can get it. Gerald Krasner issued a statement saying: "In the interest of the fans, players and supporters of Leeds United, the Board has decided to continue its negotiations with all interested parties regarding the re-financing of the club. To date, our lawyers have not had any proof of funds from Nova Financial Partners but if and when any negotiations come to a concrete conclusion, a further statement will be made." In other words, "We're talking to them but we're still trying to flog the ground just in case they turn out to be another Sheikh/Parkin mob." Meanwhile, the background of some of the American members of the consortium remains blurred with Nova president Michael Lucas the latest one to cast a shadow on the proceedings. He has apparently claimed to have three caps for the US football team and to have played against Pele's Brazil side - though he's a bit hazy as to when exactly. Which is strange, because none of the reference books I've been able to dig through have any reference to a meeting between the two countries when Pele was active, and there's no record of a Michael Lucas playing for the national side. But I'm sure that will all be clarified soon, and in no way reflects poorly on their financial position or their readiness to move on the takeover. More tomorrow...
November 02: Matthew Kilgallon has said that Brian Deane doesn't deserve the abuse he got from a section of the Leeds crowd on Sunday. Deane has hardly been prolific since his return to the club - and his wasteful performance against Wigan finally tipped a few folks over the edge and they gave him a bit of stick during the game. But Kilgallon says: "The crowd have got to see how hard Brian works and question the service to him. Sometimes he picks up other people's rubbish with the ball just belted in his general direction. If we didn't have him in the team, I don't know what would happen. He's so strong that he gets all the flick-ons. We have David Healy now and he is sharp enough to profit from Brian's hard graft."
November 02: Preston have asked Leeds fans travelling to this weekend's game to help line their pockets by using a parking lot that makes central London prices look cheap. It's an entire fiver to stick your motor in their "secure stewarded" area - although that does include a shuttle bus for the five minute trip to and from the ground. Off-street parking isn't great and roads tend to be jammed - but a fiver for two hours is extortionate.
November 02: Paul Butler returns from suspension for tomorrow's game against Burnley - but midfield lard bucket Sean Gregan is suspended after reaching five yellow cards in all competitions. Jermaine Wright will almost certainly come into the side as a replacement for Gregan after getting over an ankle injury. For Burnley, John McGreal, Graham Branch, Richard Chaplow, Jean-Louis Valois and keeper Danny Coyne are all carrying injuries and are doubtful to varying degrees. So no excuses for us then if they've got half of their first team out...
November 01: New arrival David Healy says that he is looking forward to showing the Leeds fans what he can do - despite a disappointing start to his Leeds career yesterday. "I've been looking forward to this moment for three or four weeks. It's still a buzz to be here and I can't believe it's happened now." He added: "It was a disappointing result and that is the main thing, but hopefully we can get it together for Wednesday. It's been a long week but I've been looking forward to it for a long time. As a striker the main thing is to score goals and I didn't do that, which is disappointing." And he knows it's not just the fans he needs to impress: "Kevin Blackwell's bought me for a lot of money these days and it's up to me to go out and perform, show that I am a good player and I am worth the money."
November 01: Kevin Blackwell was impressed with what he saw from the visitors yesterday - so much so that he's more or less tipping them for the top. He said: "The Wigan side has been together for three or four years. You can see the understanding amongst the players. They're as good a side that's come out of the division for the last two years. I think that anyone that finishes above Wigan will win the Championship. I've got them in the top two." It remains difficult to forget about the last 14 years and judge things on second division standards - but I wasn't hugely impressed with what I saw from them myself: given an extra man in midfield courtesy of the invisible Gregan, they won that battles, and with the prolific Ellington and Roberts occupying the centrebacks, they did enough in attack to deserve the victory. But Brian Deane had three or four headers that could have gone somewhere other than John Filan's midriff, and as for that shot with the whole goal to aim at and plenty of time to take it... Wigan weren't bad, but we were poor at creating and finishing chances, and if that's all it takes to get out of this division, maybe we're not a basket case just yet.
November 01: Leeds Ladies beat the once-mighty Fulham 4-2 in the league at the weekend. Goals from Sue Smith, Mel Cook and - inevitably - a brace from Karen Walker. They're now up to fourth spot in the league, although they've played five more games for a three point lead over Arsenal who were winning through to the semis of the UEFA Cup.
November 01: Despite the blinding evidence that our real problems are in midfield, it seems that we're being linked with a move for another striker. This time it's Lillestrom's soon-to-be-Bosmaning Gylfi Einarsson, a 25-year-old from Iceland. But we're facing competition from Leicester - where he was originally heading before Micky Adams' departure - and Cardiff where he will get the chance to see the wonderful home support in action against West Ham before attending a Leeds game and hopefully making up his mind.