I'm not online 100% of the time (and even if I were, my bosses would take a dim view of me spending time updating the web pages in real time), so for the absolute latest news, check out the "professional" links.
December 31: Howard Wilkinson is back where his league management career began - at Notts County. This time though he'll be in the board room rather than on the touchline, working as a non-executive director for the Magpies. Wilko said: "I felt an obligation because of the fact Notts County gave me my start in the Football League after I had been player-manager at Boston. I also care about the future of this club and clubs like it who I feel are an important part of the bigger picture."
December 31: Kevin Blackwell has moved quickly to fill the gap left by Brian Deane's injury with the loan signing of Nathan Blake from Leicester. The experienced forward has been at Leicester since the summer, but has only started four league games and scored just once - in the League Cup - and is clearly out of favour at the Walker Stadium. He gets the number 21 shirt left vacant since Dominic Matteo's summer departure to Blackburn. Blake started his career as a trainee at Chelsea, but never made it into the first team squad before departing for his hometown club of Cardiff City. A two-year stint at Sheffield United made his reputation, banging in an average of a goal every other game, and big-money moves followed to Bolton, Blackburn and Wolves before his free switch to Leicester in July. Blake has 29 full caps - as well as honours at Youth, U-21 and B levels - and goes into the squad for tomorrow's game at home to Crewe. It's not yet clear whether or not Leicester will allow him to play in the FA Cup tie at Brum - they face Blackpool in the cup and have marginally more of a chance of remaining involved than Leeds, so may yet find a need for the striker's services in a later round.
December 31: John Oster has been shown the door after the club decided that the incident at last week's Christmas party was one step too far for the player who had already overstepped the mark when picked up by police after a brawl outside a nightclub in Durham. Kevin Blackwell says that he will not tolerate such behaviour from his players: "He was clearly in breach of club rules: enough is enough, whilst I am in charge I will not have players besmirching the club's reputation. The player has stepped out of line and I want us to be seen to do something about it. This club is bigger than any player." Jamie McMaster was fined a fortnight's pay for his involvement in the incident. Blackwell said: "Leeds United will not put up with shenanigans from any players.
December 31: Club captain Paul Butler spoke for many of us when he said that he is desperate for his team to keep a clean sheet after more than two months of careless defending. He said: "It's 16 games now without a clean sheet and that's annoying. The lads all kicked off after Tuesday's game because it had a clean sheet written all over it. We've got to stop leaking goals in the last couple of minutes." He reckons that we might have finally turned the corner: "We deserved a bit of luck. I said West Ham a few weeks ago might prove to be the turning point for us and maybe it was. We've picked up eight points from four games now so hopefully things are coming together. We got a draw with Millwall and then turned Sunderland over, which was really good both for us and the fans. Tuesday was probably our worst performance for 12 games but we got the right result again and got that bit of luck." But Crewe are the division's form side and he knows it won't be easy: "The way they play might suit us better than just sitting in there, but I hope it's not a high scoring game. I'd settle for 1-0 or 2-0 and a clean sheet! We dominated at their place for 45 minutes but ended up with a draw after Danny Pugh scored late on. I'd settle for the same performance, but want a better result."
December 31: Other than the well-documented long-termers and newly-injured Brian Deane, there are no additional injury concerns for Kevin Blackwell, and Nathan Blake goes into the squad for the Crewe match. Dean Ashton and lee Bell both face fitness tests for Dario Gradi's side after picking up knocks in their win over QPR, and Gradi must decide who to use in place of Jon Otsemobor who has returned to Anfield at the end of his loan spell.
December 30: Leeds' Icelandic "signing" Gylfi Einarsson is raring to go when the transfer window formally reopens on January 1. Leeds will then be able to complete the formalities of his capture and he will be in line for a place in the team to play Brum in the FA Cup - the Bank Holiday ensuring that he is highly unlikely to be properly registered in time for Saturday's game against Crewe or Monday's trip to Coventry. Einarsson has been training with the squad since the start of December and said: "I do not have long to wait now before I can start playing so I have just had to deal with it. Because of the rules I can't even play for the reserves, the only games for me are in training but I am keeping fit and can't wait to start playing."
December 30: Brian Deane will be out for up to six weeks after a scan confirmed that the shoulder injury he sustained in the first half against Plymouth was a serious one. Kevin Blackwell is once again forced to reshuffle the pack just when he thought he had a settled side, and without the big frontman will be forced into a major tactical change as well as a personnel switch.
December 30: West Brom are the latest team to show an interest in acquiring the services of Leeds' England U-21 keeper Scott Carson. It's unlikely that he would get an immediate start ahead of Russell Hoult, but Bryan Robson will want to keep his options open as he tries to stave off relegation. No formal bid yet from the Baggies though - Robson said: "We made an inquiry about Scott Carson at Leeds - but that's as far as it has gone. We've been monitoring how the kid has been doing so we just approached Leeds to see what the situation was with him, but I've personally not been in touch with anyone at Leeds." Carson's sale in the transfer window is now looking a racing certainty - the money we receive for him will be welcome but will almost certainly fall short of the amount owed to the taxman and can only postpone for a short while the day when Krasner and co are forced to concede defeat and call in the administrators.
December 30: The curse of Leeds United continues to follow our former players, with Harry Kewell the latest to fall victim. Kewell will be out for at least a month after suffering a groin injury in the Reds' pre-Christmas win over Newcastle. Kewell's form for Liverpool has improved of late, but has never approached the levels he demonstrated at Leeds, and this is just the latest setback for a player who looks in serious danger of turning into a latter-day Lee Sharpe.
December 29: Ex-Celtic winger Bobby Petta has been linked with a move to Leeds again. Speaking to the Daily Record yesterday, he complained that he hadn't been given a chance during his trial at Bolton, but that he had now been contacted by both Leeds and Wigan with a view to a deal in the Championship. He said: "Wigan manager Paul Jewell especially wants to sign me very badly and there's a good chance I'll go there," but it seems that Leeds too are a possibility despite the complete absence of cash at Elland Road.
December 29: After Liverpool's interest in Scott Carson it now seems that Wigan and Chelsea are also on his trail. Wigan have tabled a bid of £400,000 - considerably more than Liverpool's offer but still nowhere near a decent valuation, while Chelsea are obviously keeping an eye on him for the future with their own abundance of goalkeeping talent at present. However, more immediate interest might come from the Blue half of Merseyside after Nigel Martyn was forced off at Charlton with a calf injury and now faces up to six weeks on the sidelines.
December 29: Brian Deane was being scanned today after injuring his shoulder in the victory over Plymouth. Deane was forced off at half-time and Kevin Blackwell is worried that it could be a break or a serious dislocation. Blackwell said: "We'll have to x-ray it today before we know how just bad it is... Deano's been terrific for me, I think people forget that he's 36 going on 37 because he's kept himself in great shape. People questioned it when I brought him back to the club, but I had a specific role in mind and I had wanted to bring in another striker but things didn't happen that way. So he's had to step in and do more than both of us probably expected and he's given us great service this season."
December 29: Kevin Blackwell was full of praise for David Healy after his brilliant lob against Plymouth on Tuesday. He said: "David showed his class again with that finish - it was a terrific goal." And maybe Blackwell knows something we don't with the transfer window reopening on Saturday: "I can't believe I got him in the first place. I am amazed some of these other clubs that were sniffing didn't do anything because that goal against Plymouth on Tuesday was Premier League finishing. This lad will play in the top flight soon," although Blackwell was quick to add: "hopefully with us."
December 28: Well it may be over two and a half months and 15 games since we kept a clean sheet, but today's victory means we've equalled our best undefeated run and run of wins in the league (okay, 4 and 2 games respectively) this season. It wasn't the best we've played all year but on the whole it was a deserved win: David Healy contributing a lot of effort and guile up front, Matthew Kilgallon solid at the back and Aaron Lennon running himself into the ground as he kept the Plymouth defence honest and deep. The OG from Gilbert at the start of the second half came from a great run and cross by David Healy, and you had to have a little sympathy for the defender as he stretched to stop the ball from reaching Aaron Lennon, unmarked and waiting at the far post. The game was occasionally scrappy and very niggly - not helped by some appalling refereeing decisions including two clear foul throws which he allowed the visitors to retake, numerous poor calls for corners and throws, and the worst decision of the match when he pulled Julian Joachim back for a foul after he had fairly muscled a Plymouth defender off the ball and was clean through on goal. Still, even the ref couldn't find a way to disallow David Healy's brilliant lob from 20-odd yards to seal the win, although he did add on 5 minutes to give Plymouth their chance to get back into the game. In fact, this was one of the few decisions by the ref I'd come close to agreeing with: four subs and two fairly length stoppages for injuries probably did merit the time he added, although he'd be hard-pressed to find another referee in the league to agree with him - and the majority of the home support were distinctly unimpressed. We're still a long way off a play-off place, but it's this sort of scrappy win we need to grind out every week if we want to sneak back into the race for promotion again.
December 28: Liverpool have apparently made a joke offer of £250,000 for Scott Carson. The England U-21 keeper is coming to the end of his contract but can't leave for "free" because of his age - the level would be set by a tribunal if Carson decided to leave but the clubs failed to agree between them. However, there's no doubt there will be more predators stalking Carson and other players, but all in the knowledge that Krasner and co need cash desperately, and despite this afternoon's rainbow landing square in the middle of Elland Road as we drove to the ground, it's clear that no pots of gold have been found.
December 28: Bigtime whinges from losing manager Bobby Williamson, who complained about a foul by Sean Gregan which lead directly to Leeds' equaliser. Skating neatly over a number of two-footed horror-shows from his own players to which the ref was equally blind, Williamson said: "Gregan had already been booked, so the referee has got the decision to make and he fouled Doumbe. Matt Doumbe played the ball back comfortably to the goalkeeper and the boy has come in and fouled him. So the ball gets played back by our goalkeeper, while Matt Doumbe is still rolling about, is on his way back up but is playing Healy onside. It has been so costly because the referee and his assistant only assist when they feel it's necessary." But Kevin Blackwell was pretty happy. He said: "We went to Sunderland the other day and there was apparently a penalty given and nobody could quite work out why. Then he gave a free-kick for their second goal and nobody could work out what that was for, either. Unfortunately, it's part and parcel of the game and, if you've been at Leeds as long as I have, you would understand that we have not had an ounce of luck. If that's a bit of luck coming our way, then believe you me, I will take it." And he went on to give a bit of praise to the visitors: "But I've got to give credit to Plymouth. They came here, did a good job, set their stall out with a deep back-four and someone sat in front and playing with one striker. They have obviously had us watched and came here with a game-plan to stop us. But, overall, we deserved the win."
December 28: Unless you've had your head in the sand for the last couple of days, you can't fail to have noticed the devastation and destruction that's hit millions of people across South-East Asia after the Boxing Day Quake. As I write this, the death count is at 50,000 and climbing - just from the initial tidal waves. With no clean water and little shelter available, the prospects for the survivors are pretty grim. So if you got a couple of minutes and a couple of quid to spare, please take the time to make a donation to one of the many charities and aid organisations working to bring urgent supplies into the region - take your pick from a whole list on this BBC News webpage. If you've got an internet connection and fresh running water in your bathroom, believe me you can spare some cash.
December 27: Kevin Blackwell was understandably pleased with his side's performance in beating Sunderland yesterday. He said: "It is always enjoyable to win games. Sunderland is always a cracking to come to and both clubs have got to inspire to get back into the Premiership. We showed steel and determination when we had to and I am very pleased with the players. The crowd here frightens many teams and we are going through a massive transformation." Mick McCarthy was not downhearted by the defeat - not least because the other teams in the top spots also failed to win. He said: McCarthy said: "I am always disappointed when we get beat and the fact we had a crowd of 43,253 only compounds the fact. We did our best and I don't think we let anybody down... It was extremely difficult when we went behind again, but we had chances to clear the ball and, when you put the ball on the head of Brian Deane, it is what he does best."
December 27: On-loan striker Simon Johnson scored twice in two minutes for Doncaster as they beat MK Dons 3-0. Robbie Fowler shook off recent criticism to score Man City's equaliser at Everton - but that wasn't enough to get Kevin Keegan's side a share of the points as the home side came back to win 2-1. Danny Mills picked up a booking and was subbed - only to see his replacement red-carded for a terrible challenge on Bent. Robbie Keane broke the deadlock at Carrow Road as Spurs went on to win 0-2. Andy Gray scored the winner for Sheffield United, popping up at the near post five minutes before the break to make it 1-2 at Coventry. Warren Feeney got on the end of a long ball to score an equaliser for Stockport against Bristol City, but the visitors got the upper hand and went on to win 1-2. Jamie Forrester scored the second penalty of the game - equalising for Bristol Rovers against Leyton Orient in a game with no other goals. Finally Tony Hackworth scored the fourth of Scarborough's five goals in a Bank Holiday 5-1 hammering for local rivals York.
December 27: John Oster and Jamie McMaster have been suspended by the club after an incident during the club's official Christmas party. Oster was only recently reminded of his responsibilities after being picked up after a brawl outside a nightclub in Dublin, and this could be the final straw for his time at Leeds. McMaster will join Oster in front of a disciplinary meeting headed by Kevin Blackwell on Friday and could face a fine. Blackwell said: "We have suspended them pending further enquiries. We are conducting our own internal investigation. Until that is concluded and we have met with the players again there is nothing further I can say."
December 26: Playing away at a team that has a chance to go top with a win - I don't think many people thought we could take three points back to Elland Road (I certainly didn't). But once again, Kevin Blackwell's team surprise us with a well-earned 2-3 win at the Stadium of Light. Aaron Lennon's first goal for the side on his debut doesn't come as much of a surprise to those of us who have advocated him being given a chance all season, but let's give some credit to the players and manager: it's exactly the sort of situation we've blown in the past but today we were well-disciplined and didn't lose our concentration despite conceding an equalising penalty just before the break. Lennon latched onto a pass from David Healy to give Leeds the advantage on the half hour, but Matthew Spring was judged to have fouled Dean Whitehead inside the box to allow Liam Lawrence to equalise with two minutes to go to half-time. Just past the hour, Brian Deane got on the end of a Jermaine Wright cross to give Leeds the lead again, and Julian Joachim came off the bench to seal the points, despite Julio Arca's late cracker from 20 yards. Also nice to see Kev give Martin Woods his first team debut in the dying seconds of the game - the youngsters are going to have to carry a heavy load for the rest of the season.
December 25: Bong goes the clock, Santa gets a surprise when he finds we've had the chimney swept and now have the coal fire working and we all get to eat enough food to keep a normal person going for a fortnight (or "a light lunch" as Mark Viduka would no doubt describe it). Yep, it's Christmas Day so let me wish each and every one of you good health and happiness for you and yours. Probably won't be any news updates tomorrow (unless something HUGE happens) as I get my seasonal dose of drugs that remind me what my real priorities should be and I leave the PC alone for a day.
December 24: Kevin Blackwell said that he still had faith in his summer signings and expected them to come good if they get the time and patience from the supporters. He pointed to Jermaine Wright, who has managed to put in a couple of excellent performances, but that's only served to highlight a lack of consistency. Blackwell said: "I did not expect everyone to settle in straight away, sometimes it takes players 12 months to settle into their surroundings. Jermaine is a talented player but he has not hit the peaks I would like him to hit, but it's like everything else, when you are rebuilding completely you have to handle these situations." Blackwell also noted the massive scale of the team rebuilding he had been forced to undertake and what that meant in terms of the success or otherwise of the new signings: "It's unusual for managers to go out and have to get as many players in as we have, and even then there wasn't enough of them, and we're looking for every one of them to come off - that doesn't happen. Most managers would normally sign four or five players and have a busy summer, but out of those you know one or two might not come off." And he's still taking a positive view of things and blames little bits of bad luck rather than anything serious that he or his team are doing wrong at the moment. He said: "You look at yourselves, is it things that the players aren't doing, is our preparation not right? You look for anything. For the last six weeks it's been about whether the ball bounces left or right. If I felt that we weren't progressing then I would have deeper frustration. Sometimes I feel like there's a force field in front of goal! Every club goes through a situation like that but, for us, it's a situation on top of other situations, on top of other situations. It's a chapter that will go down in Leeds' history and I think it will be called the frustration chapter because, you name it, and it's all frustration left, right and centre."
December 24: Both managers face a couple of selection posers for the Boxing Day game at the Stadium of Light - although it's Kevin Blackwell who has the most serious juggling act to perform. With Sean Gregan, Simon Walton and John Oster all sidelined, he needs to put together a brand new midfield - and maybe it will finally see Matthew Spring given a chance to show what he can do. If Clarke Carlisle is fit, it's quite likely that he will play alongside Paul Butler at the heart of the defence, allowing Matthew Kilgallon to switch to left back, and Frazer Richardson joining Danny Pugh, Jermaine Wright and Spring in midfield. Filling the bench could also be a problem, with Scott Carson, Jamie McMaster, Julian Joachim and Aaron Lennon an obvious four, but number five would either be the out-of-favour Michael Ricketts (unlikely given the attacking nature of the other three outfield subs) or one of the youngsters - Martin Woods, Paul Keegan or Jamie Winter - to make up the numbers. For Sunderland, Mick McCarthy will be considering who to pair up in attack: Michael Bridges and Chris Brown, who started the last game, are likely to be fighting for a place alongside Stephen Elliott who was rested for that match. Marcus Stewart is a candidate for a bench place after recent poor form in front of goal. McCarthy said: "And I still haven't made a final decision on the team for the game against Leeds United. People talk about them being a big, strong, physical side because of the presence of players like Paul Butler and Brian Deane but that's not really the case. They are dangerous from set-pieces because of their height and we'll have to watch for that. But they like to play their football and I expect it to be a proper football game. I think though that we're as good a footballing side as any team in this division and if it's an open match then we've got a good chance to maybe get another win under our belts." Almost a compliment from the man - let's hope our good footballing skills help us take at least a point back to Elland Road as a late Christmas present.
December 24: Looks like things are going a bit slow for the Crewe game on New Year's Day - the club are offering a buy one get one free deal on tickets for the Upper East Stand. Will the freebies also be on offer to people with season tickets for that area? Thought not...it's hardly surprising that there's barely a dozen rows even close to being full up there for most games these days.
December 23: Leeds captain Paul Butler is not at all bothered by the prospect of playing so many games in such a short time over Christmas and the New Year - in fact he's positively looking forward to it. He said: "I'd rather play four games in nine days than do the pre-season we had! We've worked hard, so we should be geared up for what's to come." He's not impressed by the jobsworth attitude from the Leeds-hating lot on Sunderland council who have singled the Whites out for punishment for supporting the team so well by reducing the allocation to just 1500 tickets for the Boxing Day tie: "It's the festive season and people want to go to football and cheer us on, but Sunderland have only given us a few hundred tickets which is a joke when you look at how many supporters they brought down here." Butler says that the bare minimum the team need is two home wins against Crewe and Plymouth and reckons that we could start to work our way back to the old Fortress Elland Road situation: "You only have to look at Reading to see what a good home record can do for you - they are fourth in the league because they have got the best home record in the league and they pick up a few points on the road. But it seems like it's either been down to us not finishing our chances off, or referees not giving decisions our way. I don't know, but we should be winning more games at home." And he ends: "I do think we're playing the right way, though, and slowly but surely things must start turning for us." And so say all of us!
December 23: Former Leeds director David Richmond today admitted that the Krasner consortium never had enough money of their own to properly manage a takeover of Leeds United and said that they did not do "sufficient homework" before going ahead with the deal. This will, of course, come as no shock to anyone who has followed the financial collapse of the club over the last couple of years - but has been trotted out as a tactic that seems more like a diversion from the lack of any substantive progress towards securing the club's long-term future. Yesterday's Guardian revealed that Richmond and Melvyn Levi (and presumably the other board members, though that wasn't stated) had signed lucrative contracts which would entitle them to full and immediate repayment of all loans on the takeover of the club, plus very generous fees and "consultancy" agreements with performance bonuses which run for nearly three years. Richmond however denies that he has received anything from these contracts, stating that they were drawn up when the situation at the club was very different. He said: "I have always been a Leeds United fan, even when a director at Bradford City, and it was a dream of mine to be involved in running the club. But it turned into a nightmare and I have had, without question, the worst year of my life. It has affected my health and also my family. If I could have my time again, I would not get involved. I, along with the other directors, have money in the club and if Leeds United go under then I will lose it." He went on: "The football club owes me an awful lot of money, running into many hundreds of thousands of pounds. To some wealthy people that may not be a lot, but to me it is a fortune. Obviously, I would very much like that money back but it can only come out when the football club can afford it. I may or may not get it back." He also revealed that - despite Krasner's claims at the time - they had pinned all of their hopes on the 20-year season ticket deal which most fans understandably treated with scepticism. It's good to see he can finally admit the truth - it's just a shame that he didn't do it back in March. The terms offered to the creditors by Krasner's band were far more favourable than anything else on offer, and so Trevor Birch was forced to sell the club to the current owners. At the time it seemed a bit of a smoke-and-mirrors affair on the financial front, and now we see just how many straws were clutched at as they tried to make it happen. Unstated of course is the REAL motivation behind the takeover: the gamble that Leeds might just have managed to hang on to top flight status and with it the revenues from Sky that would have made the club a very different financial proposition. We'd still have sold off everything that wasn't nailed down - but we'd have been operating at a profit and offering some very nice cashflow to borrow against for further developments. But all that never happened and now "anyone but Krasner" seems to be the call - even if the proposals being put forward by Stubbs and Sainsbury look to be just as flaky by the third line of a projections spreadsheet. Better the devil you don't know...
December 22: Stephen Crainey has fallen victim to the Curse of the Leeds Left Back and failed to recover from the groin injury which has kept him out for nearly two months. Crainey has a condition called Osteitis Pubis - an injury that is fairly common but much less acute in many footballers, and which is specifically affected by jumping, running and kicking - so pretty much the only thing an afflicted player can do is rest and a bit of swimming. Kevin Blackwell said: "Stephen was part of the defence that was looking really strong and he is a natural left footer who can put quality balls into frontmen. We lost him and had to put Frazer Richardson in there, but he's a right back playing at left-back." Crainey now faces an op to clean up and stabilise the injury - but the length recovery period means he will almost certainly take no further part in this season's games.
December 22: It was revealed today that Kevin Campbell was the main player that manager Kevin Blackwell had been trying to get in on loan last week. With the current strike-force a bit goalshy, such a move is hardly surprising, and although Campbell isn't flavour of the month at Everton anymore he has a pretty good pedigree. However it's understood that Campbell is keen to make a switch to a club where he will get first team football, and he may come to an agreement with Everton to pay up his contract before the transfer window closes in January - and that will offer Leeds a second chance to pick up the ex-Arsenal striker.
December 22: Leeds and Sunderland today pleaded with the travelling Leeds fans to pay particular attention to Sunderland's request that they remain seated for the majority of the game on Boxing Day. The Black Cats reduced Leeds' ticket allocation to a paltry 1500. They point to the letter we've all received with our match tickets, which reads: "All Local Authorities were asked to monitor the behaviour of your fans at away games this season and there has been no significant improvement. Our certifying authority who issue the club safety certificate, following this information, have determined that the maximum number of visiting fans for this fixture should be set at 1500. This level is set in the hope that safety measures and especially persistent standing can be enforced by our club.We hope that this action taken is a 'one off' by our certifying authority and for the benefit of your supporters at future away matches; I ask that you do not persistently stand, and enjoy this important fixture in other ways." I wonder if any of these monitoring authorities have ever (a) been to a game, (b) tried to sit in the flimsy and miniscule piece of plastic that passes for a seat, and (c) then been able to see more than 50% of the pitch at any one time because of poor sight lines. No, don't bother - I know the answer to that one already...
December 22: Kevin Blackwell says that he is proud of what his makeshift team have managed to achieve so far this season. He said: "I feel the players have done a great job here and I am proud of what they have achieved half way through the season. I think we have been unfortunate in the last seven or eight games that we haven't picked up more points." With a rush of four crucial league games in eight days after Christmas, he knows that a couple of good results could push the team right back into play-off contention: "But we are not far off from being a good side, we are getting our shape together and I think people can see from the first six months where we are starting to go... I think the fans accept that the football we are playing at the moment is a lot better than it was at the start of the season. That's because we are starting to understand how I want to play. Now if we can turn some of those decent performances into results we will be ok."
December 22: The Leeds Youth team will be in action in the next round of the Youth Cup on Wednesday January 12. The 4th round tie against Fulham will be played at Elland Road with a 7pm kick-off, and the tie will be decided on the night.
December 21: Peter Ridsdale is understood to be on the point of quitting Oakwell after a disagreement with the man who provided the real financial backing for the takeover. Rumours at the weekend hinted that he had been sacked or that he was being forced out before the DTI report on LUFC was released, but for the moment it seems it's just a plain old-fashioned boardroom power struggle that he has lost.
December 21: Kevin Blackwell today defended his team's disciplinary record after two of the four bookings on Sunday gave rise to one-match bans for Simon Walton and Sean Gregan. The midfield pair will miss the Boxing Day trip to Sunderland, and with Blackwell already having to do without John Oster as a condition of his loan from the Black Cats, it will be all-change in the middle of the park. Blackwell said: "To be fair to the players, they are they first suspensions through an accumulation of bookings this season. So the discipline has been good, other than the situation at Brighton when we had two sent off, although I would have to question whether the official was up to scratch that day." He's not kidding - that guy was a total muppet (sorry Kermit)! Blackwell went on: "Unfortunately, as you go through a season you know you are going to pick suspensions up and we had four players on four bookings going into the Millwall game. We always knew it was going to be a tightrope. Knowing Millwall are a side that test you, it was maybe not the game we needed going into Christmas."
December 21: The FA announced that no further action would be taken against Leeds or Millwall after the trouble that flared up at the end of Sunday's League game. The FA issued a statement which read: "Following discussions with Leeds United and West Yorkshire Police, it has been confirmed that police dealt with incidents outside the ground, No further action will be taken." We can only hope that the police will take some further action - and institute a series of internal backside-kickings for the morons who failed to keep the Millwall fans in the stadium for 10 minutes while the Leeds fans cleared the area. If the same thing happens when Cardiff come to call, make sure you've got your Kevlar jackets and motorcycle helmets on.
December 21: Kevin Blackwell today reveaked that he was still hoping to bring in some new faces to freshen up the squad and cover for injuries and suspensions - but he had no luck in finding someone ahead of the Millwall game. On the official website - and surely of interest to the Inland Revenue after the recent missed tax payment - it states that the board had made funds available to acquire new signings - but Blackwell was stymied by the lack of enticing options. He said: "We looked under every stone, asked every question and went to every manager at every club, and it does seem to be the wrong time of the year to be looking at loan signings. Other clubs are worried about injuries and suspensions too and getting them to let someone go is extremely difficult. In my opinion the closer it comes to Christmas you have no chance of getting the loan signing you want." And he added: "When you are at Leeds you deal with problems, and that's what I'm doing. I'm managing problems, and sure enough I lose a few more players. It means the youngsters will have to step up again, and I'm sure they will do because I think there is a good team spirit and a siege mentality we are having to work under here."
December 20: The FA are apparently going to look at Jody Morris's actions on the pitch on Sunday after all. After being taunted all game, he made a point of baiting the Leeds fans after scoring the equaliser and an FA spokesman said that they were making enquiries. The Millwall fans were not kept back after the game and it seems there was a little bit of a confrontation after the game (I was still stuck at the back of the Kop trying to get down the stairs, so all we noticed was a couple of shouts from outside the ground, and the police reported that 15 arrests had been made. The club insisted the violence was nothing to do with them. In a statement, the club said: "Leeds United works very closely with the police to ensure the safety of spectators at Elland Road, and Sunday's match against Millwall was no exception. The club works in partnership with the police in accordance with national guidelines and current legislation, and the actions Leeds United and the police employed were the most appropriate on the day. No information or intelligence was received to highlight disorder after the match and the disturbance by small a number of supposed supporters, some of whom did not even attend the match, was swiftly dealt with by the police." Meanwhile, Morris's manager defended his player's actions: "Jody had been getting stick all afternoon. But he showed the right attitude, the guts and the bottle to take the penalty." Dennis Wise went on: "I was pleased for him that he stuck it away, which shut everyone up. Jody was not really fussed about coming here, but it's always nice to go back and put one over on your old club. The fans gave him some stick, which is sad. But it's the way football is and the way people are. But the boys love him, and that's all that counts."
December 20: Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell is getting increasingly frustrated about the bad luck or inevitable twists that keep stealing points from his team. Sunday's late penalty for Jody Morris was just the latest example - and he's concerned there's more to come: "There is always something there you have to fear, and sure enough it came up and bit us. You could have written the script. Look at what happened at Rotherham the other week. Because it's Leeds you knew they were going to win. Then Jody turns up yesterday and you know it's going to be him that gets the equaliser. It's the script at the minute. If it can go wrong, it will go wrong." He went on: "Just look at who we are playing in Sunderland, work out the worst scenario and I am sure it will happen." Time to get the gypsy in to sort that Elland Road curse out again.
December 20: John Oster got some positive words from Kevin Blackwell, just days after being carpeted for his late-night encounter with the police. Blackwell said: "Any player who puts himself in a stupid position like he did needs to give everything for the team and to be fair he did. I thought John applied himself very well today, and I am sure he's glad to be playing football rather than getting involved with other things outside of the game. As I have said before, we have had enough of that kind of thing at Leeds and we are trying to redress it. He knew he had done wrong and he apologised for it."
December 19: Feeling a bit negative after this afternoon's game. That's partly down to the fact that I've been unable to shake off this *^%!ing cold for over a fortnight, but mainly because we had a great opportunity to move up the table and get a run underway against opposition who rarely looked like asking any serious questions of Neil Sullivan. One goal was scant reward for the pressure and chances we had - and David Healy was just one of several unlucky Leeds players when he saw a great trap, turn and shoot inside the box bounce inches the wrong side of the post. John Oster was lively, Sean Gregan put in some good passes and was a lot more involved in the game than past efforts and the defence was pretty sound. Brian Deane worked hard up front and David Healy also caused problems both on the wing and getting into the box. Jermaine Wright did fade a little towards the end of the game, and should have been replaced sooner - but maybe Kevin Blackwell had formed the same opinion of the referee as most of the rest of us and decided that the less time Simon Walton was exposed to Mr Leake the better. As it was, Walton's booking came after what looked like a good challenge for the ball which the lino decided was illegal: since it was under his nose that's fair enough, but that doesn't explain why Mr Leake's card was out of his pocket before he'd come within 30 yards of his colleague to get a view from someone who really saw the incident. Walton's booking - and Sean Gregan's caution - mean they now have 5 yellows this season and so both will miss a game under the totting-up process. Jody Morris had been taunted by the Leeds crowd all game, and it was inevitable that he would be the one to go home with a bit of a smirk on his face as he hammered home the penalty - although the league and the police might like to review his "celebrations" which came dangerously close to incitement (sour grapes, us? surely not!!!!).
December 18: Leeds' new "signing" Gylfi Einarsson says that he's ticking off the days on his calendar as he waits for the chance to make his Leeds debut. Due to yet more UEFA/FIFA decisions going against the club, Einarsson has been forced to sit on the sidelines since ending his contract with Lillestrom, but has at least been able to take part in training sessions. Speaking to the official website he said: "It's been a good experience - just a little bit disappointing that I can't take part in games. I do not have long to wait now before I can start playing but until then I just have to deal with it. Because of the rules I can't even play for the reserves, the only games for me are in training but I am keeping fit and can't wait to start playing."
December 18: Kevin Blackwell was facing up to some more selection posers today and warned his young players that he could be asking a lot from them over the holiday period. Matthew Kilgallon and David Healy are expected to be over their injuries - but Clarke Carlisle and Frazer Richardson are both struggling with ankle problems and Jermaine Wright has fallen ill this week and is a big doubt for the Millwall game. Blackwell said: "I could have to change the squad around and certainly bring some youngsters in on the bench. It is that time of year when the strength of your squad is tested. They have got to hold up because after Saturday we have got four games in eight days and we have got five players on four bookings." He went on: "Most clubs are under pressure at this time of year, but along with Burnley we have got the smallest squad in the division and I have got nine players under the age of 20. That's the difference, we are putting a lot of pressure on these kids who have got no experience under their belts to deal with it. This will be the biggest test for these young players because it is the first time they have had a spell of games like this." For Millwall, Dennis Wise is over a calf injury and could start, but Kevin Muscat is still banned.
December 17: Backup keeper Scott Carson has turned down the club's initial contract offer. His contract expires in the summer and he would be free to switch to another club - although a fee decided by tribunal would be payable since he is under 23. COO Shaun Harvey said: "The club intend to keep the dialogue in place with the player's agent and hope that a solution can be found that will be satisfactory to both parties. It is apparent that our initial offer has not met the player's expectations, however, we are committed to trying to keep the player at the club but we have to be aware of the current economic situation in football as a whole, not just at Leeds, and ensure that any contract offer is sustainable in the long term."
December 17: Jody Morris knows that his welcome will be hot rather than warm when he returns to Elland Road on Sunday. After having his contract cancelled 'by mutual consent' after being arrested (but never charged) over a serious assault allegation and then apparently turning up for training under the influence, Morris spent the remainder of the season at Rotherham before switching to Millwall. He said: "I am desperate to beat them. We really have got to try and put a run together over the Christmas period and that means getting a result at Elland Road. It is hard to look on Leeds as a former club for me because of the few games I played. I was not there long enough. It was not like Chelsea, where I spent eight years and played 173 games." And although he doesn't have much of a history at the club, he does give the fans and his former boss a bit of a plug: "It's a fantastic ground with a huge atmosphere and the fans will be right behind the players. And Leeds are starting to do well now. So we have got to start well and keep the crowd quiet. I know Kevin Blackwell well, I always got on well with him - he is a good coach and a genuine, nice man."
December 17: John Oster has been carpeted by Kevin Blackwell and fined by the club after his arrest outside a Durham club. Blackwell said: "I made it quite clear that we have had enough of this at this football club and I, as the manager, will not put up with it. He knows that any misdemeanours outside of the club will not be tolerated by Leeds United." But he added: "That's the end of the matter as far as I am concerned and a line has been drawn under it."
December 16: The Youth side ran out 2-1 winners at home to Wigan in the FA Youth Cup last night. Aaron Lennon set up the first Leeds goal - scored by Kevin Smith and knocked the second in himself as Leeds booked themselves a date with Fulham in the next round.
December 16: Cardiff City have been told that they can only have 1100 tickets for the game at Elland Road - and that all of their fans must travel up on registered buses from South Wales for the game. Which is fair enough - they required the same from us, so no whinges if you don't mind from your oh so hard Soul Crew when the same conditions get imposed on them.
December 16: Here we go again. John Oster was arrested outside a nightclub in Durham this morning after a brawl was spotted on the city's CCTV cameras. It's understood that no official complaint has yet to be made, and the club are making no further comment until they have had the chance to speak to the player and acquire a full set of facts.
December 15: Howard Wilkinson - who was the driving force behind the foundation of Leeds' Academy - warned the club that they would be wasting an enormous asset if they let it be redeveloped for housing. Wilko said: "A good youth development system and facilities gives the club some heart and soul. It's a home and with that goes a tradition of developing a culture and identity for the club. It's something which is part of the process to having professional pride and a sense of responsibility, and that's hard to do in rented accommodation. If you have aspirations to be a big club, it demands excellent training facilities. Excellence is about maintaining quality in all areas. I'm no expert but if you had to start that facility from scratch again, the land, the planning permission and to develop the facilities would cost possibly more than £30m." Needless to say, the board have only realised a fraction of that amount in their recent sale of the property. Wilkinson pointed to the similarities between what was going on now with what he had found when he arrived at the club 16 years ago: "It's gone full circle... It was a question of finding a site and taking it forward. The idea was that it would produce enough players to sustain the club's continued success. Someone sent me the other day a list of those players who came from there and made it in football. Jonathan Woodgate, Ian Harte, Stephen McPhail, Harry Kewell, Alan Smith, Paul Robinson; they came through and made a very good team. It finished second in the league and got to a Champions League semi-final." But he wasn't totally downbeat: "It is not good news but what the club have in their favour is a terrific potential fan base. If they can pull in the numbers, it increases the optimism and the attraction to the investors. It is harder to be successful if you are Crewe than it is if you are Leeds."
December 15: In what will no doubt be seen as a puzzling but not entirely unexpected display of the board's priorities, Gerald Krasner today said that any deal to sell the club was unlikely to go through until the New Year due to the Christmas holidays. I'm sure the Inland Revenue will take a sympathetic view when informed that the board and Sebastien Sainsbury are leaving every stone unturned in their rush to pay the outstanding tax bill. Krasner said: "We cannot do anything until [we have certain things on paper] and I can't see anything happening before the New Year due to the Christmas holidays." The Stubbs deal appears to be up in the air at the moment after the due diligence process revealed that the club needed far more than the £9-10 million investment that Stubbs and his group were intending to provide if long-term survival was to be guaranteed. It just gets better and better....
December 15: Aaron Lennon is set to play for the youth team tonight in the FA Youth Cup in the game with Wigan Athletic. Simon Walton is also eligible to play - but first team commitments mean that he will be saved for Sunday's game with Millwall, while Lennon - who has been more on the fringes of the first team squad - is being given a chance to repeat his performance at the same stage last year when he hammered a hat-trick against Gillingham.
December 14: Today's Guardian printed what it claims are details of the sale and leaseback deals agreed by the board on the club's land at Thorp Arch and Elland Road. Most worryingly, the training pitches are on land recently classified as suitable for development in the local plan, and our club's ever-observant owner have cunningly negotiated a clause whereby the first team will get evicted from those pitches at three months' notice if the developer gets permission to put some house up. It also transpires that a local businessman - David Newett from Wetherby - bought the buildings that hold the Academy, and the club have guaranteed they will support any planning application made for that part of the development for the next 50 years. The Guardian also claims that the buyback options only exist until October 2009, and even then it would be at a premium of around 25% on the original sale price. In short it would appear that the board have flogged off the club's last remaining assets at a massive discount to their true value and have effectively handcuffed any subsequent owners into an appallingly expensive financial transaction that brings negligible benefit to the club. With the Inland Revenue due (but unlikely) to receive a seven-figure sum from the club, administration or a change of ownership looks like the only way of keeping the footballing side of things going, because it's clear that the current board have now executed their original plan of keeping the club afloat long enough to turn a profit and are now out of ideas.
December 14: The club today denied that it had received any bids for Scott Carson - despite suggestions in the press today that Wigan were about to move for the England U-21 star. Interestingly enough, Liverpool's Chris Kirkland once again finds himself sidelined through injury - at the point when there were hints that Rafa Benitez was about to drop him anyway - although the new coach at Anfield has said that his priorities in strengthening the squad lie elsewhere. Meanwhile, the board said that they remained intent on hanging on to Scott beyond the current end of his contract. In a statement today they said: "We are formulating a contract for Scott as we speak, and we met with the player's agent on Monday and there should be a contract completed for him to look at on Wednesday or Thursday and hopefully he will sign it." A bit of advice Scott - if they give you a contract next week, spend a fortnight exercising "due diligence" on it, publicly question where they'll get the money to fund it and then prevaricate some more. Let's see how they react when the boot is on the other foot...
December 14: Matthew Spring was once again one of the star performers for the reserves in last night's goalless draw with West Brom. Although he failed to add to his goal tally, he did set up a couple of good chances and had a good shot himself. But Kevin Blackwell continues to exercise caution when it comes to giving him a real chance in the first team. Blackwell said: "That was Matthew's fourth game for the reserves and he's only played in six first team games since he's been here.He has not been match ready and every time we try and force him in, the tempo at match pace means his body is stretched to its limit and that's where he keeps breaking down. So we have got to try and get him up to the tempo as much as possible in training and reserve games before I risk him again." At this rate he should just about be ready by May though Kev! There's no point in putting him on the first team bench if you're not going to use him when the midfield is looking bereft of any creativity - he might as well be at home, in the gym or on the physio's couch improving his fitness!
December 14: Leeds are understood to be requesting that the Inland Revenue hold off in their demand for payment of a tax bill - dangling the carrot of an imminent takeover and full and final settlement of the outstanding amount. The club are so strapped for cash despite the property sales that they would struggle to foot the latest instalment, and the taxman would be within his rights to initiate winding-up proceedings - leading to administration - almost immediately. But with the talks with Sainsbury's group deemed "constructive" and suggestions that Stubbs and co might join forces with Sainsbury, Krasner is hopeful that the board might finally exit the club and avoid being pulled into another financial disaster. Watch this space...
December 13: Leeds Ladies came down to earth with a bang at the weekend as they went down 2-0 at home to BristolRovers, falling behind their visitors in the league as a result. Leeds have been badly hit by injuries, but still managed to put Rovers under pressure in the first half with Karen Burke and Karen Walker both coming close to breaking the deadlock and Cath Davies netting only to see the goal ruled out for offside. But things went from bad to worse in the first half when Jade Malpas had to go off injured and it was inevitable that Bristol would take advantage of Leeds' missed chances - and that they did with two goals in two minutes. Ladies manager Julie Chipchase said: "We never should have lost that game, we had enough chances to have won by three or four and we gave away two sloppy goals. We had most of the possesion but didnt take advantage of it. Bristol will be pleased with getting a result here and they are a very hard working team, but I believe we should have won."
December 13: David Healy today said that the team were united in their desire to turn the club's poor form around - and that was what was behind the group hug after the West Ham game. He said: "We know that people are criticising our position in the table for how far down we are, and we just wanted to show we are all sticking by each other." He went on: "We are just proving a point to anybody out there that doesn't think we are in this together that we are, and we want to get out of where we are as soon as possible." I don't think that team disunity has ever been a serious accusation against the squad - just what they've delivered on the park. Healy added: "We all showed great bottle - not just me - the whole eleven and even the subs that came on. We were in it together."
December 13: Leeds reserves are in action against West Brom tonight at Kidderminster's Aggborough ground. Once again Matthew Spring finds himself in the starting line-up wondering what he must do to prove his fitness to Kevin Blackwell. Joining him in the squad with a bit more to prove is Michael Ricketts.
December 12: Lee Bowyer opened the scoring for Newcastle in their home game with Portsmouth yesterday - but the Magpies once again failed to hang on to the three points, with the game ending up a 1-1 draw. Darren Huckerby scored from the spot as Norwich came from behind to turn over Bolton 3-2 at Carrow Road. A Clyde Wijnhard header was the middle of Darlo's three unanswered goals against Leyton Orient, and not for the first time in his career, David Wetherall got a vital late goal against Walsall - this time scrambling the ball home to get a draw in the league for Bradford rather than avoiding a third-round FA Cup humiliation for Leeds.
December 11: Not a bad night out in London last night: some of the beer was cheaper than the norm, I managed to get my Christmas shopping done and Leeds sneaked an injury-time equaliser to get a deserved share of the points at Upton Park. Leeds did much good work in the first half and should have had a penalty when Anton Ferdinand took out Danny Pugh as he burst into the box. The second half saw the game tilt towards the home side after an early goalmouth scramble saw Luke "Plug" Chadwick stab the ball home. West Ham had the better chances of that period, but it remained at 1-0 courtesy of poor finishing and good defensive play. Matthew Kilgallon had a stormer, and Sean Gregan's newly-boosted confidence did seem to give his game an extra bit of zip. Up front we are still a long way short of adequate though, and David Healy's enforced exile to the wing can't be a good thing. Jermaine Wright had a poor match, never really settling on the ball, and Deano once again was Mr Sitter. But who's to complain: a ref gives a dodgy penalty decision in our favour and we come away with a point that had looked impossible from the moment West Ham took the lead. We might actually be going in the right direction again...
December 11: Kevin Blackwell and Alan Pardew had very different views of the incident that led to Leeds snatching a point at Upton Park last night. Blackwell said: "I'm just pleased to get a very good point against a very good side. West Ham aren't happy with the penalty. But Danny Pugh should have had a penalty in the first half, and Darren Powell's was a definite handball." But he said he'd have a word with David Healy about the penalty: "I don't condone diving. If the video shows that David has dived I will have a word with him. People call for TV replays - and if we had them tonight we would have won 2-1 with two penalties." By contrast, Pardew said: "We are incensed with the penalty decision. There were two claims earlier - but that shouldn't affect the referee's next decision. It was a desperate dive, an obvious dive, but the referee has given it. We are very disappointed with the point." Well tough luck mate! We've had more than enough bad decisions go against us over the last couple of seasons and it's nice to be on the right end of a mistake for once!
December 11: David Healy today insisted that he had not taken a dive to save a late point last night. He said: "I am not a diver and I am not a cheat. You have to be professional and I thought I was that. I haven't seen it again but I felt Lomas come into the side of me and you can't really tackle anyone in the box like that. You take your chance when you do that." And he said that he'd had to put aside the fury that erupted when the penalty was granted to focus on the spot kick: "But I am a penalty taker and I'm grateful to get on the scoresheet and get the draw that I thought we deserved. We worked hard for each other and kept going right until the end. Hopefully that will set us up now and we can go on from here."
December 10: Leeds chairman Gerald Krasner confirmed that the club were finally going to start talking to Sebastien Sainsbury. Speaking in today's Yorkshire Post, he said: "A meeting is planned between our legal team and Mr Sainsbury's legal team early next week. We will then need time to digest what is said at that meeting so it is impossible to say what will happen after that." Nowt to say about the Stubbs bid then Gerald?
December 10: Jermaine Wright says that Leeds need to come out of the traps at full pelt and silence the crowd at Upton Park tonight. He said: "I've played there a few times and they do turn, but if you give them any encouragement to play the fans get right behind them and it's like an extra man. If we can keep things quiet for them it takes that psychological element out of it... It's like when teams bring lots of fans to our place. when our fans get behind us we've got an extra man on the park, so we have to hope that isn't the case for them tonight." Sounds like someone gave him the Big Book of Footballing Cliches as an early Christmas present!
December 10: Matthew Kilgallon is eager to take the chance to put one over the friends he made during his brief stay at Upton Park last season. Killa had a spell on loan during a period of turmoul at the club, with three different managers in charge, He said: "I enjoyed my time with West Ham even if I didn't play that much. It's a good club and there's always a good atmosphere down there. I'm also looking forward to seeing some of the mates I made down there again." Meanwhile forgotten man Harpal Singh could also make it into the squad as injuries bite. Singh is coming to the end of his contract after failing to make the breakthrough into the first team despite a couple of bright spells on loan. But with Danny Pugh set to return from being rested and other members of the squad likely to be given every chance to get to the point where they can be patched and strapped up for the match, the best he can hope for is a bench slot.
December 10: Sean Gregan today thanked the fans of Leeds for the support he has received after last Saturday's much-discussed "incident". Speaking to BBC Radio Leeds, he said: "I've had about 600 e-mails and cards, several bunches of flowers for my wife and cuddly toys for the little lad. It's just reaffirmed what I thought about this club and the fans. It's a great place, and where I want to be." I really REALLY hope that he repays that trust and faith with a staggeringly brilliant display of midfield solidity for the full 90 minutes tomorrow night, and only needs to employ his over-worked pointing finger when he salutes the travelling Leeds fans at the end of a fantastic win. Nurse! The drugs please...
December 09: Nick Barmby scored twice for Hull last night in front of a huge crowd at Hillsborough. Barmby's opener came halfway through the first half to give the Tigers a 1-2 lead, and he then added a great right-foot volley just before half-time to make it 1-3. Hull ran out 2-4 winners in front of a crowd of nearly 29,000 - would be nice to think we could still get the same numbers if the unthinkable happened and we were relegated again.
December 09: Acceptance or desperation? Not sure quite which applies, but it would seem that the board have finally relented and agreed to meet Sebastien Sainsbury to discuss his bid next week. With less than a week to go before the taxman needs a seven-figure cheque and with little cash in the club to pay it, it would seem that Krasner and co have finally had to give some detailed consideration to Sainsbury's offer to buy the club. I'm still not convinced that the numbers make sense: no matter which way you look at it, there remains a big hole to be filled in the club's finances and it's hard to see why anybody other than a dedicated fan with too much money would be prepared to effectively write off a huge pile of cash. But the board have decided that it is worth talking to Sainsbury as their choices have steadily shrunk and with the axe getting ever closer.
December 09: Kevin Blackwell got a spot of good news today when Brian Deane, Matthew Kilgallon and Gary Kelly all passed their fitness tests ahead of tomorrow's trip to West Ham. David Healy's groin strain could still keep him out, and Clarke Carlisle may be asked to drag his ankle out onto the pitch for the cause despite failing to finish the last two games. For the Hammers, Hayden Mullins and Nigel Reo-Coker are available after serving suspensions - but Gavin Williams is now banned. Veteran Malky Mackay is fit again, and Teddy Sheringham could also make a return to the side after missing much of the season with a thigh strain.
December 08: Club spokesman-of-the-month Bryan Morris today said that the club wanted to hang on to Scott Carson if it could - but in exactly the sort of way that might just prick up the ears of an interested Premier League club. "We are hoping to get his agent to Elland Road to talk about a new contract for Scott this week," he said. "His current deal runs out in June and we want to sort something out because he will become a free agent very soon." Well done - strange how you just noticed this three weeks ahead of the transfer window opening. And although Morris says: "We will do our utmost to keep him at Leeds United," he also indicated that the player would be allowed to make the decision himself if an offer came in. Just like James Milner before him, it seems that Carson will be sacrificed to pay off a couple of short-term debts that the club's increasingly static cash flow cannot fund, and which the men who are holding out for their own slice of the cake from any possible bidders will not cover. The silence from the Stubbs camp is deafening and very instructive: if they've completed due diligence, the only thing that could be holding up the deal is the fact that they've finally illuminated the dark corner of the accounts where the 800lb gorilla of administration has been hiding - and he's looking hungry for action.
December 08: Jermaine Wright says that he and his fellow midfielders need to get their act together to help out the front men when it comes to bagging a few more goals for the club. He said: "Deano's playing as a lone striker at times and he needs people to get in the box with him. We have to score more goals throughout the team - we all know that. Strikers can have off-days as much as keepers, defenders or midfielders can and I think we have the talent in the squad to get goals from anywhere." He went on: "What we need is to put more people into the box. From being a bit cavalier, we've gone to being more defensive and we just have to find the right balance." Wuh? We've not kept a clean sheet in nearly two months - what would things be like if we'd been LESS defensive???
December 08: Club captain Paul Butler spoke out in defence of Sean Gregan who was "victimised" by a "hate mob" according to today's YEP. Now I know we've been over all of this before, but "three people" does not constitute a "mob" by any stretch of the imagination, but then we've come to expect nothing but the official party line from the city's main paper of record. Butler said: "I've spoken to Sean a lot about it since the weekend and he couldn't believe the response he's had from fans offering messages of support. We were all gutted about what happened. We know it was a minority - they were not proper Leeds fans." That's right skipper, it was three people - which is a minority by anyone's standards. As for not being proper Leeds fans - well, as far as I know at least one of them was planning to be at West Ham on Friday so like it or not, that makes him a proper Leeds fan. Butler went on: "If anything it has brought people even closer together at the club, not just the players but their families as well. We all want to do well at Leeds and we've got to stick together. We can't get more players in. We are the players who are here and fighting for Leeds United." And he added: "It'd be massive if he heard his name being chanted and I know it would lift the other players as well because we are all in this together." If Kevin Blackwell had wanted to engineer a sympathy-fest for his favorite player, he couldn't have managed it better himself. And if every other manager in the division had wanted a cushy life for his attacking midfielders, then ditto because it would now seem that Gregan is regarded as undroppable. This will be bad news for the likes of Matthew Spring and Danny Pugh as they see midfield options being closed off to them - but may be good news for the board as they may suddenly find unsettled players who are only too happy to jump ship - particularly when the fans clearly don't appreciate their efforts. In fact the only people who will lose out from all of this would appear to be the twenty-odd thousand Leeds faithful who as a result will end up watching three old blokes and the Under-17s turn out for a hammering by the end of the season. I know I'm the world's biggest pessimist and that things could be turned around - look at the run Palace put together from a worse position last season. But I've just not seen any coherent pattern or progressive improvement in the team's play throughout the season, and none of the off-field shenanigans that continue to beset the club convince me that's about to change.
December 07: The reserves racked up a comeback win at Bolton last night - and maybe dropped a heavy hint to Kevin Blackwell in the process. A strong Bolton side were ahead early on through their Portugese frontman Ricardo Vaz-Te, and after Julian Joachim equalised did it again with Kevin Nolan. Nolan added a second on the hour to make it 3-1. But Leeds didn't let that faze them and goals from Matthew Spring and a second from Joachim brought things level within ten minutes. With just a couple of minutes left on the clock, Jamie McMaster made it 3-4 on the night with his third strike in two games. So what do those three have to do to get a start for the first team Kevin? Unfortunately, it's hard to see the manager dropping Sean Gregan after this week's events, and his continued commitment to field the players he's paid money for plus a big man up front mean that only near-fatal injuries are likely to change his starting XI.
December 07: Former LUFC MD Trevor Birch has found himself a new job - and he's back in Leeds. It's hard to believe it's only a year since Birch was performing financial miracles in keeping the club afloat from one week to the next - well now it looks like that experience has paid off with a partnership offer from Deloitte in the Leeds office. He had briefly taken up a role at Everton, but disagreements with the board put the kibosh on that. He did a great job for Leeds United at a very difficult time and we wish him well in his new role.
December 07: The FA Youth Cup 3rd round match against Wigan has been switched to Elland Road. Next Wednesday's game was supposed to take place at the JJB - but as anyone who saw their senior side hammering Preston at the weekend would know, the pitch there is in a bit of a state, so the tie has been switched back to Leeds with kick-off at 1900.
December 07: Clarke Carlisle has warned his fellow players that they need to turn things round quickly if they are to avoid the drop. Carlisle has been one of the better performers for Leeds this year - despite the odd glitch - and a couple of Premier League clubs are said to be taking an interest in him ahead of the January transfer window. He said: "It is very frustrating for us all at the moment but there comes a point when the lads have got to step forward and take responsibility for what's happening. It was a good performance against Leicester but several individual errors have cost us goals. At the start of the season we weren't conceding any goals at all and now we're finding that we're conceding very scrappy goals that can be practically pin-pointed to single people, myself included. It's something that we need to clamp down on." He went on: "We have to make sure we steer clear of that dogfight which is what we are drifting towards. It is very early to be looking over your shoulder but we are getting to a stage where it is important. We do not want to be involved in that fight where every week every game is a scrappy dogfight."
December 07: Kevin Blackwell's injury problems appear to be getting worse still. With Brian Deane, David Healy and Clarke Carlisle all playing through the pain at the weekend, Matthew Kilgallon and Gary Kelly have now joined the sick list. Kelly picked up a groin strain on Saturday, and Kilgallon played on after a training ground knock on his ankle but could be forced to miss out on Friday on his return to Upton Park.
December 07: Despite the board's insistence that they are able to meet their short-term debt repayments, it seems that they are also still on the look out for any more bits of income they can scrape together no matter what the long-term cost to the club. Reports today say that they are trying to find a buyer for keeper Scott Carson - with Liverpool apparently interested in making a cut-price offer for the England U-21 keeper. Carson is out of contract at the end of the season, but he's not yet been offered a new deal and when the transfer window opens in January he could be in a position to sign a pre-contract agreement with another club. We haven't got many saleable players left - Kilgallon and Richardson spring to mind - and even though the Stubbs investment remains a possible lifesaver, there might not be any life left to save if things drag on for much longer.
December 06: Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell today defended his tactics and his team's performance after Saturday's slump against Leicester. He said: "I believe I am doing the right job. People might say 'you're not winning Blackwell' and they're right, but I've just got to try and ride this rough patch out and get the results the right way round. At the moment the ball is bouncing the opposition's way - I can't wait for the day it bounces our way." He went on to praise the resilience of his team - particularly Clarke Carlisle, Brian Deane and David Healy who all left the treatment table to play on Saturday. He said: "Healy, Deano and Clarke showed their desire to play for the club when it would have been easy to duck out, and I'm proud of them for that. he only criticism of the team is that we didn't take our chances and if you don't take them you deserve to lose." And he concluded: "This side is not a bottom half of the table side, however, the table says we are so we have to make sure we address that."
December 06: So let me get this right. None of the front men seem able to provide a regular supply of goals at the moment, and so what do we do next? We ship out a young striker on loan to a lower division club of course! The baffling logic that has applied to several of Kevin Blackwell's team selections has sent Simon Johnson on a month-long loan at Doncaster Rovers after failing to get a chance at Elland Road on his return from his previous loan spell with Sunderland. Rovers face Bristol City tomorrow night, and Johnson could go straight into the squad for that match.
December 06: According to stories in the YEP and on the official website today, Sean Gregan came under fire from fans after the game on Saturday. The stories say that Gregan - who had his wife and young son with him - was abused in the club car park an hour after the game, describing a "small group of thugs" who "surrounded" his car. Gregan is now said to be considering his future at Elland Road after the incident, and was quoted as saying: "There's a line people shouldn't cross and this is most definitely it. What happened on Saturday was horrendous. These people waited over an hour to abuse me and my family. I can handle any criticism, but when it's your family that are being sworn at it is out of order. My wife is due to give birth next weekend and I had my 14-month-old son with me. I don't want to complain about supporters, but picking on my wife and a little boy is beyond belief - it makes you wonder if it's all worth it." As I may have indicated in the past, Gregan will get little sympathy from me when it comes to any abuse he receives for his appalling performances on the pitch, where his lack of fitness and basic footballing sense have cost us goals and games too often this season - but I've got to agree that turning on a player's pregnant wife is completely wrong and could never be justified (cf the abuse Alan Smith's family have received, no doubt from the same lowlifes who were behind this). Even if the "fans" wanted to vent their anger on the player - what sort of message do they think they're sending to anyone half-decent who we might be able to sign to replace him? Of course, there's always more than one side to a story and eyewitness accounts suggest that "small group" = three people (and as such they'd have a little difficulty in "surrounding" a car), that the abuse wasn't directed at the player's wife (although she was asked fairly harshly and directly if she could persuade her husband to leave Leeds), and that Gregan suggested to one of the fans that their disagreements should be settled with fists round the back of the Revie Stand. Very much in the footsteps of Paul Okon, Gregan has been identified by the fans as the source of many of our woes - which, as with Okon, is a little unfair since he is by no means the only player to have underperformed this season. However it is probably true to say that Gregan's failures have gained a higher profile courtesy of Kevin Blackwell's bewilderingly positive assessments of the player after almost every game. Maybe Blackwell ought to reflect that trying to justify his own sometimes bizarre team selections and substitutions by handing his rose-tinted spectacles to the crowd is not necessarily the most sensible way to retain the backing of a bunch of supporters who have stuck with the club through thin and thinner over these last three years. We're not stupid, and we don't necessarily expect the manager to dump on individuals in public - but sometimes a little silence can be a more effective messenger than a thousand blatantly false words.
December 05: In today's FA Cup 3rd round draw, Leeds have been paired with Birmingham City. The tie will take place at St Andrews over the weekend of January 8. We've played the Blues three times in the FA Cup, winning every one - most recently in 1998 when Rod Wallace and JFH with a pair helped Leeds to a 3-2 win. Our record at St Andrews isn't good in recent years, with our last win being in 1982 courtesy of a Paul Hart goal. Other highlights from the draw see non-league Exeter given a huge bonus with a trip to Old Trafford, Yeading's reward for beating Slough is the visit of Newcastle and a local derby between Oldham and Manchester City.
December 05: Maybe Harry Kewell reads the papers: a few hours after seeing David O'Leary's piece which said how his game had fallen apart after a good start, Kewell got his head on the end of a cross to give Liverpool the lead against Villa - although the game ended 1-1 so DOL was spared some blushes by his team. Robbie Keane scored the only goal of the game as Spurs got their first away win in living memory against Southampton. Less positive news of Steve Caldwell - a bit of petulance cost him a red card and did nothing to help Sunderland as they fell to a 0-2 defeat by West Ham. Tony Hackworth came off the bench to score his third goal of the season for Scarborough in their 1-0 win over Gravesend.
December 05: Leeds Ladies gained revenge for the 0-8 opening day hammering by Everton today when they travelled to Merseyside for the reverse fixture and came away with all three points. Karen Burke, Sue Smith and - inevitably - Karen Walker were on the scoresheet as Leeds came away with a 1-3 win. Leeds are now in third spot in the Premier League although they've played more games than almost everyone else, and Bristol Rovers and Everton - one and two points back respectively - both have a game in hand.
December 05: In the words of Victor Meldrew, "I don't belieeeeve it!" Kevin Blackwell's response to yesterday's defeat is to tell his strikers that they need to be more clinical in front of goal. And he pointed to the excellent performance by Stuart Taylor as if it was some sort of excuse. Blackwell said: "If I am going to be critical, it is that we didn't kill them off when we should have done. Our approach play was good and we had chances, but when you don't take them, you are always liable to get hit - and we were." Truly remarkable comments from our manager. Does anyone have the number of whoever is responsible for regulating opticians in this country - because I think I'm going to have to file a report on the people who supply his contact lenses.
December 04: A two-nil defeat at home to Leicester and nothing whatsoever to redeem this one. Deano misses a sitter. Kelly glides a perfect header past Sullivan. Blackwell makes some frankly stupefying substitutions. Uriah Rennie fails to disappoint those who reckon he's the worst ref in town by missing a couple of blatant penalties and yellow cards - but making sure that the one booking of the game was for a pointless technicality. By the time the final whistle brought this farce to an end (at least two minutes early due to Rennie's inability to operate a stopwatch) a large number of Leeds fans were already on their way home, and those that remained booed the team from the field. "You're not fit to wear the shirt" and "What a load of rubbish" were two of the more printable chants aimed at the team. Any optimism that the wins over QPR and Preston gave us have been totally dispelled, and Kevin Blackwell must turn things around quickly because things have now got to the point where the board may feel that although they can't afford to pay off yet another failed manager, neither can they sit idly by while what's left of their investment is steered towards the third division.
December 03: Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell dropped a bit of a hint for the weekend when he said that he would find it hard to ignore the claims of a fully-fit Matthew Spring. Spring has been plagued with injuries since his summer arrival from Luton, but has looked impressive in the very brief views we've had of him, and Blackwell said: "He's very good on the ball and can pass the ball... Nottingham Forest were very keen on him. Joe [Kinnear] had him for three years at Luton before he went to Forest and there was another club interested. There were many factors in bringing him in. He fitted our wage bill for a start, but first and foremost a fit and firing Matthew Spring can become a more than useful acquisition for this team." With a desperate need to inject some real creativity into the middle of the park, we can only hope it's sooner rather than later.
December 03: Kevin Blackwell says that he's sticking by his recently-adopted 4-3-3 formation despite the team's failure to accumulate many points. He said: "It allows my three strikers to go and find the space they want. The situation was that I didn't had any creativity in the wide areas and I had brought David Healy in to play down the middle, but has had to do a job for me out wide and he's done a great job. Johnny Oster gives me the width on the right and he's done well for us in that role too. Then with Deano's game upfront it allows others to play off him, not just the strikers either as we saw when Jermaine Wright scored - that was from Deano holding the ball up and knocking it down to him." And he went on: "With Sean Gregan sitting in there he tends to see the danger and that allows people like Jermaine Wright to break forward with confidence because he knows if he does lose the ball then someone's there to fill the gap for him." To which I think we can only say: WHAT? We've gone ten games without keeping a clean sheet and picked up just 8 points from 27. We've been a bit unlucky on occasion, but you can't argue with those sort of numbers. We AREN'T picking up midfield runs and spare men at set pieces, we AREN'T being creative enough in midfield and the players seem to be uncertain over their responsibilities and how the system works. Having said that, I'm sure it will pay off bigtime tomorrow with a 5-0 win over Leicester.
December 03: More bad luck for Kevin Blackwell with still more key players in the treatment room ahead of tomorrow's game with Leicester. Brian Deane and Clarke Carlisle were added to the injury list in the last couple of games - but both are making good progress and could be called on in extremis to play through the pain. However, Blackwell will only feel the need to gamble with the pair's fitness if David Healy and Matthew Kilgallon don't come through. Healy was kicked in the groin (ouch!) in Monday's defeat at Rotherham, and Kilgallon turned his ankle in training and both are doubts for the game. On the plus side, Matthew Spring is now fit again, and Jamie McMaster made a good case for his inclusion in the squad with a brace for the reserves. For the Foxes, midfielder Gareth Williams will no doubt come under some aerial pressure if he plays after needing eight stitches in a head wound sustained against Plymouth last week. Former Man City player Danny Tiatto is close to a recall after injury, and Joey Gudjonsson returns from suspension. However sidelined with a hamstring pull is old ugly-bug Martin Keown, and Ian "Ricky!" Walker has a knee injury so is unlikely to be between the sticks.
December 03: Kevin Blackwell said that he was "as low as a snake's belly" after the televised defeat at Rotherham, and pleaded for the board and would-be buyers to sort things out - or at least keep their bickering private - and let him and his players focus on the football again. He said: "We cannot allow ourselves to think about it. We have to focus on what we do. We saw what it did to morale last season - it sapped us and we were relegated. I don't know what's going on with the board. I know things aren't too clever, but we just have to get on with the football." And he's hoping for a change of luck: "You look at everything. You look at how we trained and how we prepared. You think, is it me? Is it the lads? Is it Sam Ellis? What could we have done differently? Not a lot apart from put the ball in the back of the net... We looked a good side, but still got no luck. You think what can you do to change it, but I believe what we are doing is right."
December 02: Andy Keogh was on the point of another loan move earlier this week - but the knock that he picked up against Liverpool reserves during last week's draw means that he will be staying at Leeds for now. Ian Rush was keen to take the young striker on loan after an earlier successful spell at Scunthorpe had revealed his talents.
December 02: Icelandic star Gylfi Einarsson is now formally out of contract and - in theory - free to become a Leeds player. But the arcane player registration rules operating in football mean that he's not allowed to ply his trade for another month - until the transfer window opens. Leeds have appealed to FIFA and are expecting a decision shortly. Einarsson said: "I'm unemployed and they're not allowing me to work. If FIFA says it's OK then I get the green light."
December 02: Former Leeds legend Ian Baird has been appointed manager of Nationwide South side Havant and Waterlooville. Baird had been with the club as a director since the summer, and had been working mainly in a scouting capacity, using his connections to bring players into the club. He has a full set of coaching badges and has been involved with Southampton's Youth side as well as some previous management experience in the Far East since his retirement as a player.
December 02: So what happened on the bid front today? Well not very much apparently. The board say they've still not seen proof of funding - though Sainsbury's camp claims to have shown the evidence to some folks on an internet message board, so that's alright then. There are some hints that Sainsbury's reluctance to disclose the identity of his backers is the new sticking point in the board's eyes. Meanwhile, with Wrexham teetering on the brink of a 10 point deduction for going into administration, the suggestion remains that the next large tax bill to fall due at Elland Road - sometime in the next fortnight - could once again push Leeds to the edge. Despite all the cost-cutting and asset sales, it seems the board will need that extra investment - or to reach into their own pockets - in the very near future or face the prospect of their last remaining asset - the club itself - taking a substantial cut in value as relegation becomes a real possibility. Or everything might just work out swimmingly and beautifully tomorrow...
December 01: Leeds reserves surprised Aston Villa to come back from a 0-2 deficit to win 3-2 in Wakefield last night. David O'Leary's second string are top of the pile and showed why when they took a two-goal lead inside the first half hour. But Leeds fought back with Jamie McMaster continuing his efforts to win another crack at first-team football with a well-taken run and chip just before the break. McMaster squared the match just past the halfway point of the second period when he scrambled Martin Woods' cross home and three minutes after that, Matthew Spring sealed the victory with a deflected free-kick.
December 01: Kevin Blackwell was dealt a serious blow ahead of the Christmas fixture pile-up with the news that Clarke Carlisle has torn his ankle ligaments and will miss around six weeks. In a rare outbreak of sanity at the club, it seems that we're NOT going to take the opportunity to recall Michael Duberry from his loan at Stoke just yet. The world breathes easier...
December 01: Howard Wilkinson reckons that Leeds will come back from the current dire state of affairs - just like it did under his leadership in the late 1980s. Interestingly, he doesn't mention anything about the current management, but draws parallels with what he found when he left Sheffield Wednesday: "When I took over, Leeds resembled a car with a Rolls Royce bodywork but a clapped-out mini engine underneath - from a distance the club looked good, but up close it left a lot to be desired. It seems it has come full circle now as once again Leeds don't own Elland Road and have financial problems. But I believe, without a shadow of a doubt, Leeds will recover. The biggest factor in the club's favour is their tremendous support."
December 01: Gerald Krasner and Sebastien Sainsbury renewed their media war today without either offering the fans any new facts or concrete plans for the future. Krasner once again pointed to Sainsbury's continued failure to show proof of funding, drawing attention to the Nova group's bizarre tactic of producing a photocopied bank statement but refusing to divulge the account holder or allow Krasner to contact the bank to confirm the status of the account. Krasner said: "Notwithstanding the peculiar restriction, the Board gave Mr Sainsbury and his consortium every assistance, by extending a number of deadlines to transfer funds to their solicitors, so that we could proceed. Despite public assurances from Mr Sainsbury and his advisors, this never occurred. We therefore ceased negotiations with the group three weeks ago. No satisfactory explanation of why funds have not been forthcoming has ever been received, and following further enquiries from the Leeds United Board, the Club is confident that it has made the correct decision." Krasner goes on to slate Sainsbury for the timing of his latest "offer" - just ahead of Monday's trip to Millmoor - and again points to the fact that Sainsbury has yet to indicate just where his funds are coming from (given that Nova have apparently walked away and taken their broadband knowledge with them. Sainsbury hit back, stating that he was coming in with a new bidand that Monday's offer was "an opening gambit" to see if the board were willing to do a deal. He fails to address where his funds are coming from, nor explain further why his "opening gambit" was deployed in such a way as to make the likelihood of getting any board co-operation disappear into the sunset, but we've come to expect no more so no surprises there.
December 01: Michael Bridges is set to make his Sunderland move permanent after doing enough during his loan spell to convince Mick McCarthy to keep him on. Bridges' contract with Bolton expires on Christmas Eve and he is expected to sign up at least until the end of the season and possibly longer if the insurers can be satisfied of his fitness.
December 01: Sebastien Sainsbury this evening claimed to have genuine proof of funding for his bid - and not the sort of "Mickey Mouse" paperwork he was waving last time round. What he's offering the Leeds board this time round is a letter on headed paper from a UK bank stating that the funds in question are available subject to contract. If that's the case, then there's no reason why Krasner and co shouldn't talk to him - but in the interests of the fans, then Sainsbury to make clear to the current owners the source of his funds (or at least the level of debt involved) and whether the funds are guaranteed by him and his associates personally, or will they be secured on some aspect of the LUFC operation he wants to buy (despite all of the talk about broadband opportunities, the casino would appear to be a more realistic route to cashflow and ultimate profitability). Of course, the current board might just reflect on the level of personal abuse they've received over the last few months and say "Sod it - that bunch of ungrateful sods deserves the calamitous collapse that is waiting round the corner if we sell but why should we care?"
December 01: Finally some good team news for Kevin Blackwell. Sunderland have agreed to extend John Oster's loan spell at Elland Road for a further month - otherwise Saturday's game with Leicester would have been his last. Oster said: "I would be delighted to stay here for as long as manager Kevin Blackwell wants me, and Sunderland are happy to let me stay." During that month, Leeds visit the Stadium of Light on Boxing Day - but Oster will not be playing against his Sunderland team-mates.
|2008:||August, July, May, April, March|
|2007:||August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January|
|2006:||December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January|
|2005:||December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January|
|2004:||December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January|
|2003:||December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January|
|2002:||December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January|
|2001:||December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January|
|2000:||December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January|
|1999:||December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January|