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Leeds United News from The Sporting Life    Yorkshire Evening Post

August 31: England's U-21 side will be in action at Elland Road on October 7. The junior internationals will face Austria in a European Championship qualifier, kicking off at 7.45. Tickets are on sale for a tenner for adults and a fiver for concessions.

August 31: Eirik Bakke and Michael Ricketts are heading out on loan on deadline day. Bakke is to join Aston Villa as expected, with the initial loan spell stretching through to January when the transfer window reopens. Bakke's agent Rune Hauge said: "Eirik is going to Villa. He will be loaned until January. Then we will see what happens." Ricketts has gone on loan to Cardiff until January 3. Bluebirds boss Dave Jones said: "I'm pleased to get the lad in - a player who at his best will be a big asset. Everybody deserves a second chance and I'm sure that Michael will give his best for Cardiff City."

August 31: The club has indicated that there will be no move for Norwegian defender Brede Hangeland in the current transfer window. Kevin Blackwell said: "I saw the reports yesterday evening but nothing will happen with him today."

August 31: Today's YEP has indicated that Peter Ridsdale and his former colleagues on the Leeds board, whose financial irresponsibility brought the club to the edge of oblivion, may yet face the consequences and a serious penalty. The DTI are still looking at a report prepared by the administrators, and tonight's paper says that Trevor Birch, the Prof and former FD Neil Robson have been interviewed by the DTI's disqualification unit - although none of them are implicated in the club's crash. The DTI have 6 months to make a final decision on what to do next, but Peter Ridsdale believes he's in the clear.

August 31: James Milner found himself on the move in one the last deals to be completed on deadline day. The former Leeds midfielder finds himself reunited with Eirik Bakke and old boss David O'Leary on a year-long loan at Villa Park as part of the deal that took Nolberto Solano back to Newcastle.

August 30: Eirik Bakke is in talks with Villa - but only to see if they can arrange a season-long loan - according to his agent. Villa are thought to be unwilling to risk spending serious transfer money on a player whose injuries have kept him out of first team action for far too long over the last couple of years. On the way in - by the turn of the year anyway - could be Viking Stavanger defender Brede Hangeland. His club are said to want to keep him until the end of the Norwegian season in October, so that could rule him out of Kevin Blackwell's first team squad until the transfer window reopens in January, but the Viking chairman indicated that Leeds had been in contact and were thinking over when - or whether - to make a move.

August 30: Leeds Ladies once again found themselves on the wrong end of a high-scoring game at the weekend. Lucy Ward opened the scoring for Leeds after 5 minutes, but Everton were quick to reply and found themselves 1-3 up with less than 20 minutes on the clock. Lucy Ward scored again just before half-time, but Leeds conceded again in the second half to lose 2-4. The next home game is on September 7 - an evening kick-off against Sunderland.

August 30: The Carling Cup 2nd Round tie against Rotherham has been confirmed for Tuesday 20 September, with a 7.45pm KO at Millmoor.

August 30: Quite a few incidents to report involving Leeds old boys over the weekend. Simon Johnson opened the scoring for Darlo at Chester on Saturday with a spot kick after just 6 minutes. The Quakers held a 2-4 lead courtesy of Akpo Sodje's hat-trick with less than 10 minutes to go - but still only came away with a draw after conceding twice in the last couple of minutes. Johnson struck again yesterday as his team had a little more success, running out 2-1 winners over Rochdale. Nathan Lowndes put Port Vale 1-0 up at home to Doncaster, and the hosts managed to extend their lead just after the break to run out 2-0 winners. Danny Cadamarteri bundled home a Dean Windass free kick to give Bradford the lead on the stroke of half-time at home to Bournemouth on Saturday. But the hosts failed to press home their advantage and allowed Bournemouth back into the game 10 minutes into the second half and went on to lose 1-2. Darren Huckerby followed his failure to trouble the scorers on Saturday with a red card for foul and abusive language in Norwich's 3-1 defeat at Stoke yesterday. Matthew Spring scored his second goal - from a Marlon King knockdown - for Watford, equalising against Derby halfway through the second half at Pride Park. Clarke Carlisle headed home a winner for the visitors a minute from time, and King missed a penalty. Warren Feeney struck Luton's opener in their 2-1 win over Millwall. Andy Keogh put Scunthorpe 1-3 up at Hartlepool with 25 minutes to go, but the home side pulled one back within 5 minutes and equalised with a last-minute penalty. Jacob Burns scored Barnsley's equaliser near the end of the first half at Swansea, but the home side went on to score two unanswered goals in the second period to win 3-1.

August 30: Kevin Blackwell made no bones about the enormity of the challenge facing his side in the battle for promotion. "This is the hardest year of the last five or six. There are 10 or 12 clubs who could get promoted if Lady Luck smiles on them." And although he gets his little plea for sympathy in on player turnover, he acknowledges that he has a much better chance of attracting new talent than much of the competition: "Some [teams] have lost a few but no one can talk to Leeds about losing players - we lost everybody. We are such an attraction for players to come to I think that once we have sorted all the finances out there is no doubt we will draw the better players and I'm sure we will get back to the Premier League sooner rather than later."

August 29: New signing Eddie Lewis reckons that the back-to-back wins over Wolves and Norwich have sounded the death knell for the "secret" of the new-look Leeds United. The American winger said: "While teams are trying to find their feet and get some form, we are not dropping back into the pack. We are up where we belong and hopefully now we can separate ourselves from the rest of the group." He went on: "The team is starting to settle into a type of role, particularly in our away form and I thought we had a very good shape about us on Saturday. We were very stingy defensively and did well to counter them on the break." Let's hope this is one secret the enemy don't decode too quickly.

August 29: Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell says that the win at Carrow Road shows just what great self-belief and confidence he has instilled in the team. "To come to Norwich and come away with a victory gives us a lot of belief. You can't have enough of that as a manager or a player. It helps build all the things you are asking them to do now because they will believe you more and more." With a fortnight before the next game, the manager said: "I said to the lads 'let's go into the break on a positive' and you don't get any more positive than a win at Norwich that's for sure."

August 27: Leeds have been drawn away at Rotherham in the next round of the Carling Cup. The tie will take place sometime between September 19-21.

August 27: Kevin Blackwell was understandably happy, but equally understandably cautious after today's excellent win at Carrow Road. Rob Hulse played despite being an injury doubt, and once again was the difference between the two sides. But Blackwell urged caution: "It's how we do over a season that counts, not four or five games. The results we have picked up so far have given us a platform, a start, and that's all. Now we've got to go out and build on that. We don't take anything for granted at this club. Before Ken Bates took over in January we were on the brink of liquidation so everyone here knows what football can be like. We'll just take each game as it comes, try and win as many of them as possible and see where it takes us. This club is big enough to go up, there's no doubt about that, but I'm not going to say we will go up. There are a lot of good clubs in this division and there is an awfully long way to go yet." Norwich boss Nigel Worthington wasn't pointing the finger of blame at any of his players - even though they've still not managed a home win in four attempts. He said: "I thought the performance overall was very good - that's some of the best passing I've seen from us this season. The one thing that is still letting us down at the moment as a team is our finishing. We are snatching at things and if we could just relax a bit more I'm sure the goals would come. In the six games we have had so far I can't remember us creating as many chances as we did here."

August 26: Leeds youth/reserve striker Ian Morris was on target for the Ireland U-19 squad in their friendly against Bulgaria last night. Morris gave the visitors the lead in the first half, but then received his marching orders with 20 minutes to go. The home side then equalised with a late penalty, and the game ended all square at 1-1. Simon Madden also made the starting line-up for Sean McCaffrey's side.

August 26: Yet another triallist is attempting to impress Kevin Blackwell at Thorp Arch this week. According to his agent, Belgian midfielder Marco Ingrao is training with the club in an effort to win a move from Mons to Elland Road. Ingrao was a fringe player at Genk last season and prior to that was at RFC Liege.

August 26: Dean Ashton and Darren Huckerby are genuine doubts for Nigel Worthington's side tomorrow, and the Canaries' injury problems seem to be increasing with Peter Thorne's knee injury adding another player to a queue for the physio that includes Andy Hughes, Mathieu Louis-Jean, Ryan Jarvis and Adam Drury. Rob Hulse may not be risked after his early return from injury last week, so Richard Cresswell is in line for an early debut for his new club. Jonathan Douglas has a gashed shin but should be fit, and Kevin Blackwell will be forced to make the call between Ian Bennett and the apparently-fit-again Neil Sullivan.

August 26: Leeds captain Paul Butler says that we shouldn't under-estimate Norwich's potential ahead of tomorrow's game just because they've yet to record a home win. Butler said: "Norwich are not really up and running yet but they have only lost one game like we have." And he points out that we're already ahead of expectations on points-gathering: "Looking at both the Wolves and Norwich games you would be happy to take four points out of them, but we have a chance of six now and that's what we are going for. We've got a lot of confidence going into this game, especially after three clean sheets in a row, and getting another clean sheet will be the first priority."

August 26: The trip to Turf Moor has been shifted on police advice - but not by much. Instead of starting at 3pm, the game will now kick off at 12.30pm on Saturday 15 October.

August 25: Kevin Blackwell has indicated that he's done in the transfer market - at least until January anyway. With the arrival of Richard Cresswell he's outspent the rest of the Championship by a country mile, and now wants some stability to make use of his players. He said: "I'm not looking at things in the short term, I'm looking long term and the players we've signed are spot on for the next two to three years.We will improve on that as we go along and the great thing is that instead of there being wholesale changes it will be one in, one out and a steady progress of rebuilding the club to a higher level. That means a high level of player and with that comes extra cost and higher wages, so the whole thing has to be thought about carefully and that's what the chairman and I are trying to do." Meanwhile Michael Ricketts is being linked with a move away from the club: unless Blackwell switches to a 5-0-5 formation, we are probably carrying one too many bodies up front, and Bundesliga outfit Hertha Berlin are the name in the frame for the one-cap wonder.

August 24: No less than 8 former Leeds players were on target in last night's games. Mark Viduka scored twice in the first half for Boro as they beat Brum 0-3 in the Premiership last night. He opened the scoring on 14 minutes, sidefooting home a James Morrison cross and made it 0-2 on the stroke of half-time with a cracking drive. He could have had a hat-trick too if Matthew Upson's attempt to stop him inside the box had been judged a little less favourably to the home side. Simon Grayson scored with a curler from 20 yards to give Blackpool a lead which they held to take a surprising 2-1 win against Hull in the Carling Cup. Danny Cadamarteri scored one of Bradford's five unanswered goals against Rochdale. Michael Bridges came off the bench to give Bristol City a glimmer of hope, making it 2-3 against Barnet, but the visitors scored again to run out 2-4 winners. Warren Feeney got on the scoresheet for Luton in their 1-3 win at Leyton Orient. Jacob Burns bought Barnsley a lifeline when he got a late equaliser at Deepdale, and then put the visitors in front in extra time. Preston came back with a last-minute equaliser from the spot, sending the tie to a penalty shoot-out which saw Stephen McPhail score the decider as Barnsley won 4-5. Danny Granville curled in a 25-yarder with less than 10 minutes to go to put Palace 2-0 up against Walsall, with the home side going on to seal the win with another goal five minutes later. Up in Scotland, Jamie Winter scored a 30-yard screamer to give Aberdeen the lead in their CIS Insurance Cup tie against Berwick. The home side went on to record a 3-0 win.

August 24: Stephen Crainey credited Oldham for putting up a stiff fight last night, but says that the result demonstrated what Leeds could achieve this season: "We showed tonight that we were not prepared to slip up on a banana skin, we concentrated on getting through to the next round and hopefully now we can have a good run in the competition." Crainey points to the increase in size and quality of Kevin Blackwell's squad as a key reason for the improvements: "The manager has a big squad to pick from now and he's been shown now that he can rotate it and the boys will give him a good performance. I think everyone put on a good show. If any boys pick up knocks or are not on form the boss has someone there who can slot in easily. We have two players for every position now near enough and it's a long, long season and I am sure all the players will be needed at some point." The manager also found the game a useful test of the players who haven't had much of a first-team look-in so far. He said: "I was not being disrespectful to Oldham with my team selection, the team I put out is one I know can hold its own in the Championship. That's the size of the club we have built since the Chairman arrived. We have cleared a lot of players out and gone for quality rather than quantity." He went on: "I needed to know about the depth of my squad and I made major changes. What it has proved to me is that the 24 players I have at the club, whilst not large in numbers, have a good quality and they were thoroughly professional on the night." And he gave a nudge to the players who weren't in action last night, reminding them that they can't rest on their laurels once they're on the teamsheet for the league games: "It's about time we had some competition for places at the club because for the last three years you could nearly always name the same people who would start in nine or ten positions, but right now we are blessed with great competition. They have all given me some food for thought for Saturday."

August 24: Jonathan Woodgate has finally made an appearance for Real Madrid - albeit in a friendly against an MLS Select XI. The defender came on for the last five minutes of the game at the Bernabeu yesterday, where he was well-received by the fans. Woodgate said: "It has been a very hard year for me but finally I have made my debut so I am delighted. I need to play a lot more with my team mates but right now I am really pleased. I have got to give a big thank you to the fans because I felt the reception they gave me in my heart."

August 24: Nigel Worthington seems to be trying to lull Kevin Blackwell into a false sense of security: he's indicating that both Dean Ashton and Darren Huckerby - arguably the most potent strike force in the division - will both be out on Saturday. Huckerby is carrying a knee injury and Ashton has a foot injury, and both were rested for last night's Carling Cup match. Worthington said: "We will give them as much time as we can. The players have got knocks and we will assess them over the next few days. They will have to be 100% right because it will be a lively atmosphere and they have to be ready.

August 24: New signing Richard Cresswell says that he's aiming for a place in the top flight, and reckons that Leeds will be the team to take him there. He said: "I got to the play-off finals with Preston last year and now I want to go one better and go up automatically this season. Coming to Leeds, with the players we've got, we've got to have a chance of taking one of the top two places."

August 23: Kevin Blackwell is likely to use tonight's Carling Cup game to make some changes, rest a few weary legs and try out some new faces in the side. Rob Hulse is unlikely to be risked after coming back from injury on Saturday, and Richard Cresswell will probably not complete his medical and other formalities in time to get a run out. Paul Butler is carrying a thigh strain, so Rui Marques could make his Leeds debut - although Matt Kilgallon has equally strong claims for a place, and both could play if Blackwell decides to give Sean Gregan a break as well. However Blackwell is clear he's not going to field a second string side: "I would love a great run because it's a long time since the club has had a good run in any cup competition and I am very aware of that. We are one of those clubs who have been a bit complacent in the past because of who we are. If we do not treat Oldham with the upmost respect we will not be going past Oldham and another season will be out of the way. I want to build a winning culture at the club, and that means preparing properly for every game and going out to win every game." Ronnie Moore will be without Chris Killen, Luke Beckett, Chris Swailes and Will Haining.

August 23: Leeds strolled to a 2-0 win over Oldham tonight, with Michael Ricketts scoring his first goal for the first team in nearly a year. Ricketts opened the scoring on 20 minutes, and Frazer Richardson doubled the lead just 4 minutes later when he latched onto a flick by David Healy. Not much else happened - few chances, no bookings, no more goals. Kevin Blackwell made 8 changes from Saturday's starters, giving Rui Marques his first-team debut and also bringing Stephen Crainey back into the squad after his long injury lay-off. Oldham boss Ronnie Moore had no complaints about the result: "The two goals we conceded were schoolboy errors and after that five-minute spell the game was over. I thought we were second best to be fair but it was a good eye-opener for our lads. I think at 2-0 Leeds realised it was a game, set and match and at this level teams can sit back against you. But we never looked like scoring and have got to make sure we go to Colchester this weekend and get a result."

August 22: Yet another one of the young players who received a squad number this season is on his way. This time it's Brenton Leister joining Halifax on a non-contract basis, where he will join former team-mate Justin Bowler in Chris Wilder's squad.

August 22: Leeds Ladies blundered to defeat from a great position at Borehamwood against Arsenal at the weekend. Sophie Clough gave Leeds a great start with a goal after three minutes, and Faye White doubled the lead on the hour. Arsenal drew level and then got in front, before Lucy Ward grabbed an equaliser. But Leeds failed to hold on for a deserved point, conceding yet again with 7 minutes remaining.

August 22: Kevin Blackwell has insisted that David Healy remains a central part of his plans, despite rumours of an imminent departure from Elland Road. Blackwell said: "There is nothing to clarify about David Healy, I have had no bid for him and he's not going anywhere. I made a decision to leave him out on the strength of him playing international football last week, we talked about it and it was my decision to do that. In both games I have been proven right." And Blackwell insists Leeds are not a forced seller anymore: "We have had a lot of clubs very interested in Leeds United players and that tells us we are on the right lines. I have had good offers for five players at the football club that could have gone by now, two from Premiership clubs and a couple from the Championship, and that shows the level of the players we have reached here now. But I need players here now to develop that understanding, and to know that when they come to work they will be at the club for a while. We are putting some roots down, and the longer we can give them the deeper they will grow and the stronger we will be."

August 22: Former Leeds left-back David Robertson could see one of his players follow in his footsteps to Elland Road. Robertson is now the manager at Elgin City, and his 17-year-old player Iain Vigurs has got a one-week trial at Thorp Arch to attempt to win himself a contract at the club. Robertson said: "It's a good opportunity for him and an honour for the club that our young players are being linked with clubs like Leeds. They've got a nice academy down there and some nice accommodation so I'd imagine they'll look after him and he'll enjoy it. Who knows, he might impress them and get a deal down there, but there's always a chance that he might catch the eye of someone else when he's there."

August 22: The story was more or less broken by Neil Warnock this morning: Richard Cresswell oof Preston is to be our next signing. Warnock was competing with Kevin Blackwell for the striker's signature, but accepted he had lost out. Warnock said: "I've had one or two people tell me things today that I'm keeping to myself. One or two members of their staff have told me where he's going and it's not here. According to them I think it was Leeds that was mentioned." Leeds have agreed a 4-year deal with the player, paying Preston £1.15 million Ken Bates said that the signing showed Leeds meant business: "We don't talk about what we're going to do, we just go out and do it. This signing shows our commitment to the future of this club." Manager Kevin Blackwell said that Cresswell was another Rob Hulse: "Rob Hulse makes a difference by taking a lot of the weight off David Healy and Robbie Blake. To get a lad of Richard's quality in the club is just superb. When Rob missed some games this season we have definitely missed a physical presence upfront so it was decided we should go and do that bit of business right now. We now have some very capable strikers at the football club." So that's Hulse, Cresswell, Healy, Moore, Blake, Ricketts: 6 into 2 doesn't go - so which one or two of that half-dozen can we expect to see take the hint and move on before the transfer window closes?

August 22: Eddie Lewis was understandably pleased to get on the scoresheet against Wolves on Saturday - his first goal for the club - but it was the win that mattered to the USA international. He said: "Getting three points off a team a lot of people say is the team to beat in division was the most important thing but to not only contribute from a team sense but personally is a real bonus for me. I hope it is just the start for me, I have been looking to get forward a lot but I will be just happy to provide goals for other people - that will give me a lot of satisfaction also." He went on: "Keeping a clean sheet, our second in a row, against a team like Wolves tells you just how hard we worked collectively and I think we definitely have to look at the positives from that game more than the negatives."

August 22: Rob Hulse was full of praise for Dave Hancock and the rest of the medical team at Elland Road after making a surprisingly early return to the first team. He was out of action for six weeks after picking up a knock in the first pre-season game in Norway, but it was feared he could have been out for even longer. He said: "It's great to be out again and running about, getting a win and scoring a goal again. I wanted to carry on as long as possible, and to get a goal is something special. The perfect comeback would have been three goals but you can't ask for any more." Cor - some people just want the world on a plate with a cherry on top! He added: "The physio team have been magnificent. I couldn't have done it without them. I've come back early and that's thanks to them."

August 22: Kevin Blackwell says that Saturday's win over Wolves shows that all of his hard work in getting the team to work together is paying off. "We knew it would be tough and it proved to be the case. We changed one or two people today and the goals came from those people doing what was asked of them, but the whole thing was a team effort and I don't think anybody stood out." He added: "I thought the lads put their heads in where it mattered and defended stoutly, and if you're going to do anything in this division you have to do that." Not that anyone was outstanding, but he said: "Gregan and Butler were superb and anything they couldn't head they shepherded home." And of course there was our returning striker: "I asked Rob to give us everything he's got for sixty minutes or so and he did just that and the icing on the cake was his goal. There's a presence about him and a confidence that helps the team. I am pleased to see him back and come off without being injured." Not picking anyone out for praise from the team of course...

August 22: New signing Jonathan Douglas says he didn't hesitate when presented with the opportunity of a season-long loan at Leeds. He said: "I heard on Thursday that Leeds wanted to take me on loan. But Derby were also interested and I went to have a talk with Phil Brown and then came to Leeds and had a chat with the gaffer here and it felt right that I should come here. I didn't take long to decide that this is where I want to play my football. I appreciate the interest Derby showed in me but once Leeds came in and I spoke to the manager I knew this was the place to come." And we've got two former players to thank for helping Douglas make his decision: "Mickey Gray was here last season and he had nothing but good things to say about the club. I wanted to come and have a taste of it myself. I was sat with Dom [Matteo] and Mickey last week chatting about it and they were saying it's a great club."

August 21: A great start for Matthew Spring's Watford career yesterday: he came on as a second-half sub and scored Watford's third (Marlon King opened the scoring) in their 3-1 win over Burnley. Nathan Lowndes got a consolation goal for Port Vale after just 35 minutes: his strike made it 4-1 to Bristol City. Although the visitors pulled another back by half-time, that was the way it ended.

August 21: Kevin Blackwell hailed his returning front-man Rob Hulse after yesterday's win over Wolves. Blackwell said: "He trained on Monday and I kept it a closely-guarded secret whether he would play or not. I just felt if I could get 60 minutes out of Rob, that would be great because he's not just a talisman, he's a quality striker and his play gives us something we've missed since he's been injured".

August 20: Not the most compelling game I've seen - and indeed young Lucas showed himself to be a shrewd judge of the game by taking a nap from the half-hour mark to just before the second half got underway on his first visit to Elland Road. But that's a great three points picked up against a decent Wolves side which threatened Ian Bennett's goal sporadically and not that effectively. Rob Hulse returned to show just what a difference he makes to the side with his strength and finishing ability making the second Leeds goal from an unpromising position. More later - time for bed now...

August 19: Ian Moore is close to a return after nearly two months on the sidelines with shin splints. The striker has been out of action since the pre-season tour of Norway, but could soon rejoin fellow front-man Rob Hulse in full training. He said: "It's been a nightmare start to the season for me. The problem is getting better now though. I hope to start full training again a week on Thursday. Unfortunately, I've lost a lot of fitness because I just haven't been able to do any running. I've been going swimming, but running is important and I need to catch up and my fitness will come." He said: "I'll have to get a few reserve games in before I'm in with a chance of getting selected, but it's all down to the manager and if he thinks I'm fit." He knows he'll have to fight for a place: "We've got good quality strikers here and that's good for the team," said Moore. "The forwards are doing a good job at the minute and you can't complain if that's happening."

August 19: Matthew Spring is heading through the exit door today after Leeds agreed a fee with Watford - undisclosed but believed to be around £150,000. The player is down at Vicarage Road for a medical today. He has played 15 times, scoring once, since his arrival from Luton last summer, with injuries and family issues keeping him on the sidelines for a large part of last season.

August 19: Seth Johnson has returned to Derby County saying "I have nothing to prove". The former Leeds midfielder spent 4 years at Elland Road, costing nigh on a quarter of a million quid per game once salary and signing-on fee were taken into account, and although he's had the odd off-field problem, it's only fair to note that his career has been blighted by injuries and knee ooperations in recent seasons. He said: "I've had so many injuries, this year's been the first pre-season I've managed since I left Derby but I don't feel as if I have anything to prove. I'm just hungry to do well for myself again and also help bring success to Derby." He added: "I suppose I could've afforded to walk away from football and sit on a beach somewhere - but I did that in the summer and I just got bored. Or I could've sat on my contract at Leeds for a year and just gone in to train every day and then gone home again. But I need to play games and if I retired now I'd never be able to live with myself, knowing I could've carried on."

August 19: Former Leeds youth and reserve team striker Chris Jones is on trial at Bournemouth. He previously had a trial spell at Dean Court in March, and will spend a further week or so training and maybe playing a couple of reserve games in an attempt to win a contract.

August 19: Unsurprisingly, there's been precious little demand for tickets for the Carling Cup clash between Oldham and Leeds next Tuesday. Tickets will be on sale on the night but the club are encouraging fans to buy in advance to avoid "the rush" on Tuesday. Ha ha ha plonk. Where's my head gone?

August 19: Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell says that he wants to see the return of the "Fortress Elland Road" mentality from players and fans alike, and that it's essential if we want to go back up to the PL. He said: "In the recent past teams have enjoyed playing at Elland Road too often, we have to make them know they're in for a really difficult game. Results build reputations and we want a winning one. It will be great for us to keep winning at home and it would blow away Wolves record, so we've both got records we're trying to protect and something has got to give." Blackwell is getting a couple of excuses in early: "They've been together for a lot longer than us: the majority of the side has been together for two or three years and they've made some good signings in the likes of Olofinjana, Seol and McNamara. They have not had the disruptive situation we had coming out of the Premiership such as losing all their players." But he adds: "We are stronger than we were last season when we played them but we are still learning, there's been a big turn around in players but I am happy with the squad I have got and all we need now is a bit of time for everyone to gel together and have a bit of longevity."

August 19: Ex-Wolves men Jermaine Wright and Paul Butler warned their former club to expect a tough battle - and the loss of their unbeaten run - when they come to Elland Road this weekend. Butler said: "At the moment they're drawing too many games like we have been, and last time we met we both knew we didn't want a draw but we did just that, it finished 1-1. It will hopefully be a different game for us than we're used to at Elland Road because they will want to come out and attack us. They think they can beat us, just as we do them." Wright said: "They are the draw specialists and we are at home, so the onus is on us and We have to win after the last two games. They're well organised and get plenty of people behind the ball in defence, but if they do play to attack us we can hopefully capitalise on that. Like us they drew a lot of games last season and you have to turn them into wins if you want to be in the play-offs."

August 19: Leeds are on the point of clinching a season-long loan signing of Blackburn's Ireland international midfielder Jonathan Douglas. The player is out of Mark Hughes' immediate plans and was on loan at Gillingham last season. Kevin Blackwell was looking forward to his arrival: "Jonathan is a young lad who did well during his time on loan last season and he is someone who offers me a number of options across midfield. He's also the type of midfielder who can get you a goal when you most need it." By my stats he's got 5 in 61 appearances: that's NOT the sort of numbers to make you think he'll bring in some much-needed midfield firepower.

August 19: Frazer Richardson today signed an extension to his existing contract, committing himself to a new three-year deal at Elland Road. He said: "I am over the moon to sign for another three years. It shows the commitment to the club on my behalf and also the club's commitment to me. I really am delighted to have sorted out my future so early this season, it makes things a lot easier and I can now just knuckle down and concentrate on playing football."

August 19: Rob Hulse could make a surprisingly early comeback to lead the line at Elland Road tomorrow. Neil Sullivan is on the mend but continues to have problems with big kicks, so Ian Bennett could continue to deputise. Eirik Bakke's thigh knock doesn't look as serious as it did at first, and he's in contention - although Kevin Blackwell still expressed his displeasure at the situation: "I don't see Norway wanting to pay Eirik's wages if it turns out he will be out for three or four weeks. We've had this sort of situation with him before. The season has just kicked off and managers lose players with niggling injuries picked up in international friendlies. They've already had lots of friendlies during the summer and I think that should be enough. The way international football is being run at the moment is a debacle and a manager's nightmare. England's friendly didn't do them much good did it. I think you can tell how annoyed I am." For Wolves, Jody Craddock is still carrying a calf injury and is a doubt, but George Ndah and Vio Ganea both look like they're over their long-term lay-offs.

August 18: Kevin Blackwell's latest transfer target is Blackburn's experienced midfielder Garry Flitcroft. The 32-year-old was not in Mark Hughes' squad at the weekend, and has all the hallmarks of a Blackwell Bargain: old, not considered good enough for the Premier League, injury-prone. Leeds don't want to pay a fee to buy him out of the last year of his contract, but would consider a season-long loan - although Blackburn may hold out for cash or an instant-recall clause on a loan given then lack of cover available to Hughes.

August 18: To the surprise of nobody - least of all Kevin Blackwell - Eirik Bakke's return to the Norway side ended in tears. Bakke came on as a second-half sub in Norway's 2-0 defeat by Switzerland only to pick up a thigh strain that could rule him out for a couple of weeks. "I was really geared and motivated to have a good game but i got a blow on the thigh early and it really affected me." Bang goes any chance of flogging him before the transfer window closes - but that might not be a bad thing for our promotion battle.

August 18: David Healy issued a reminder that he's fit, on-form and knows where the goal is with a header to open the scoring for Northern Ireland in Malta last night. Lawrie Sanchez's side blew their lead by half-time, and needed a penalty save by Maik Taylor near the end to secure a draw. It was a good night for Paul Robinson: he kept a clean sheet in the first half but then saw David James - his main rival for the England keeper's jersey - let in four, including a couple of classic "Calamity James" blunders. Rio Ferdinand got the full 90 minutes at the heart of a less-than-convincing England defence, and Alan Smith's decision to stay away might actually prove to be a good one, since the England strikers mustered just one late goal between them as the tabloids gather to gang up on Sven and his men ahead of the next batch of World Cup qualifiers. Steve Caldwell got a rare game for Scotland in their 2-2 draw with Austria, and Ian Harte came on as a sub just before half-time in Ireland's 1-2 defeat by Italy.

August 18: Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell is hoping that Wolves might take their eyes off the ball on Saturday after they broke a club record last weekend: their win over Wolves at the weekend marked their 21st successive match without defeat. Blackwell said: "They are up near the top of the table and that's where they will be at the end of the season. They broke their record last weekend and it's a great record to have but they are there to be broken. They'll be quite rightly proud of themselves for that and it's a case of seeing how they respond here on Saturday." He reckons that the fact that Wolves are a big club with hopes of promotion should make for a good game: "Both sides will allow the other to play. It was a good game when they came here last season and hopefully it will be the same again on Saturday. Wolves are a side we respect greatly, but we don't fear them."

August 18: The visit of Crystal Palace has been postponed due to international call-ups. Primarily it's Palace's Tony Popovic who has to travel round the world and back again for his match with the Socceroos. No date has been fixed for the rescheduled game yet: December is the earliest prospect if both sides fall out of the League Cup.

August 17: The club have put tickets for the South Stand on sale for Saturday's game with Wolves - although the corners remain closed. As with the Millwall game, they're claiming some sort of rush in demand - but at least Wolves will bring a decent away support with them so we might actually get close to 25000 if we're lucky.

August 17: Sean Gregan says that the team are playing well this season - despite the defeat at Cardiff and dropped points at Luton. He said: "I think we are playing good stuff at times, and although we are not firing on all cylinders yet we do look solid and dangerous. We've still got a few players bedding in to the side and it's still very early days yet." As a newly-converted defender, he was particularly happy with the clean sheet against Luton: "It was good to get a clean sheet... A clean sheet on Saturday was important, and it was just unfortunate we couldn't nick it."

August 17: Ian Harte could be coming back to Britain after seeing his Spanish side Levante relegated last season. He said: "My agent has spoken to the president of Levante and he said it will be beneficial if I move to another team in Spain or back to England. As of yet I haven't heard anything. With the World Cup coming up I need to be playing first-team football, and the second division in Spain is like the fourth division in England." There's a suggestion that he could even move to join Leeds legend Gordon Strachan at Celtic, although a move to link with his former Ireland boss Mick McCarthy at Sunderland looks more likely. In which case that will be three relegations in three seasons by the time we get to May 2006 - not the sort of hat-trick to boast about!

August 17: Paul Butler is keeping an eye out for his future career prospects as he contemplates working up to a full set of UEFA coaching badges. Kevin Blackwell has suggested that the experienced defender take a look at picking up the qualifications, and Butler said: "I have got to look at it quite seriously now: it's only since I have come to the club that the gaffer has opened my eyes to it. It's a case of moving my own career forward, and I am just grateful to the gaffer for setting it up for me. Leeds are giving me the opportunity to take my badges and I think the time is right." He's not yet ready to give up playing, but has to consider his future in the game. He adds: "I would love to be manager here one day, but there's plenty of good current and ex-managers who would want to manage this club. It's an honour to play for this club let alone captain it, and that's what I'll concentrate on at the moment."

August 17: Watford manager Adie Boothroyd has confirmed his interest in taking Matthew Spring to Vicarage Road - but not at the price Leeds have set. Spring arrived at Leeds on a free, but Uncle Ken is thought to want somewhere close to a quarter of a million for the under-used midfielder. Boothroyd said: "I like Spring and would like to bring him to Watford if at all possible. But at this moment in time the figures being quoted for Matthew are just not viable for us."

August 17: Seth Johnson is once again a Derby player. The midfielder has spent a week convincing Rams boss Phil Brown of his fitness after several years of injury problems since his move to Leeds. Johnson has been given a one-year contract, and will obviously be hoping to get a few more games under his belt this season than he has managed in the last few years at Elland Road.

August 16: Alan Smith has come in for some more sniping from his good friends on the FA. The ex-Leeds striker has opted to play for ManU reserves this week rather than travelling with England to play in a friendly in Denmark. The player has indicated that this is because he feels he needs a full (semi-)competitive game to get up to full match fitness, and he certainly won't get that by trotting around the park for 45 minutes or less for Sven. But new chief exec Brian Barwick continued the persecution of the previous regime, saying: "Alan Smith was given an opportunity to play for England and chose to play elsewhere. It is probably not the cleverest thing he has done... Sven will pick the next squad and the one after that so he will have plenty of opportunity to either pick Alan Smith or not." But the message from the England coach was a little less harsh: "I haven't spoken to [Smith] directly but it's important to stress that I have nothing against Alan Smith, absolutely not. It does not mean that he is out for the future. I think it's my fault that I didn't communicate what happened to more people. It was also a little bit my fault as I didn't check how many games he had played."

August 16: Rob Hulse is due to return to full training this week, and although he's unlikely to be fit in time to face Wolves, there's an outside chance he could play some part in the Norwich game and should be ready to make a full return early next month. Hulse said: "The ligaments are getting a little bit stronger every day and hopefully I can get back to training with the lads again... I hope to be into training this week and see how it goes, I don't want to rush in too quickly and set myself back further. They said it would take me about six weeks and it will be five weeks today, so if I can get back into training then it will be brilliant."

August 16: Leeds have explicitly denied that any deal has been done to ship Matthew Spring out of the club. Stories have been doing the rounds indicating that he could be the third player to join former coach Adie Boothroyd at Watford, but the club have insisted that no bid has been received for the player. Less explicit denials over Healy and Ricketts: West Ham are said to be ready to come in with a renewed and improved offer for unsettled striker David Healy, and Sheffield Wednesday reckon that Michael Ricketts could offer them a new option up front. If either of those two are to leave, much will depend on how soon Rob Hulse can get himself back into the selection frame.

August 16: Leeds Ladies started the new season with an excellent home win over Fulham. Natalie Preston opened the scoring for Leeds on 5 minutes, but Fulham came back with an equaliser almost immediately. With second-half injury time almost expired, Karen Walker managed to steer home a long free kick to snatch the points for Leeds. Leeds Manager Julie Chipchase said: "I am pleased to get the three points after our recent open day results over the last few years, but we can play much better than that. We need to keep possession more and pass the ball better... We have a tough game on Sunday against Champions Arsenal, but if we work hard and take our chances, who knows? The girls are really looking forward to the game."

August 16: Leeds have been knocked back by Viking Stavanger of Norway in their attempt to sign defender Brede Hangeland. Kevin Blackwell was recently over there to watch the player - but he wasn't the only English scout there, with representatives from several Premier League clubs also present. Viking director Erik Forgaard confirmed a bid had been received from Leeds, but said: "They made us the offer on Friday and we rejected it on Saturday. That is the situation at present, obviously Brede would like to play in a better league and we know he could do a very good job in England so we are aware of that also."

August 16: Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell slammed FIFA for organising an international weekend so early in the season. He's losing Eirik Bakke, David Healy, Eddie Lewis and Gylfi Einarsson to friendlies or World Cup qualifiers, and is not happy: "What if they come back injured? How much have they left in the aircraft after travelling to parts of the world? Last season Dave Healy came back late from a game and he was knackered when he played the following weekend. That wasn't his fault, but it was a classic case of how international football can cause disruption." That's alright Kev, you can leave him on the bench to recover just like you did for most of Saturday. Blackwell pointed to Eirik Bakke in particular: "After so long out, Eirik needs games under his belt at club level, and needs the time to work on his fitness. He's very tired because he's played three games in a week, and when you've been out for so long, that's hard in itself... I've expressed my concern, but apart from that there's not a lot I can do about it. There's a FIFA ruling which prevents us from holding players back and I wouldn't want to deny players the chance to play international football either."

August 16: Former Leeds midfielder Gary McAllister is set to return to the game soon as assistant manager to Phil Brown at Derby. McAllister stepped down as Coventry boss to spend time with his sick wife some time ago, and Brown said: "I've spoken to Gary on a couple of occasions but there are a whole host of people interested in coming here and I want to make sure I get the right one." Peter Reid's erstwhile assistant Adrian Heath has also been connected with the job.

August 15: Kevin Blackwell reckons that his side gained a point rather than dropping two on Saturday. He said: "That is the first clean sheet at Luton in 26 games, so we know they are a difficult side that score goals freely all over the place. When you come to Luton the crowd are right on top of you and when they get going it's a great home ground, it reminds me very much of the Dell down at Southampton where it was always difficult to get a result and Luton at Kenilworth Road are the same. But we had the better chances, the keeper Brill made four or five decent saves and Ian Bennett never really had a save to make." More worryingly, he added: "Luton have a great team spirit and work ethic and if we can bring that into our side a little bit more I think we will do very well." Admittedly, he's made a few signings during the summer, but only four of the sixteen in the squad weren't at Elland Road last season - so it's not like they've only just met and aren't playing for each other yet. What gives, Mr B?

August 15: Kevin Blackwell attempted to justify his forward selection on Saturday, saying that Michael Ricketts had earned a recall on merit. That's as maybe - but at the expense of the player who scored both goals last weekend and set up Leeds' opener at Cardiff? Blackwell said: "Michael has been out a long time and he is trying to get his career back on track. I thought he could have done better with his chance in the first half when he dragged his shot wide, but he is under great pressure because if you are a striker there is nowhere to hide as everyone can see your game. Sometimes if you play midfield you can sit there and let the game can pass you by but not as a striker. Overall I thought he did quite well, so I am not complaining." Has Healy fallen out with the manager? Sources indicate that he wasn't best pleased last season to find himself played permanently out of position, and there's smart money going on a move to a Premiership club by the time the transfer window closes - West Ham being the main runners. Blackwell didn't refer to any transfer unrest, but referring to his team choice said: "The good thing for me is that with Blakey still not match sharp and David Healy not at the level I want him at, Rob Hulse coming back, Ian Moore still not fit and Neil Sullivan was out today, so the signs are we can be a bit more positive in certain areas." If Healy isn't "at the level" after nearly a full season plus pre-season with the club, then Blackwell might as well accept the bid from the Boleyn Ground now.

August 14: A brace apiece to report for a couple of our ex-players yesterday. Julian Joachim opened the scoring for Boston at home to give them the lead against Stockport at York Street, but the visitors came back and took the lead with two goals in three minutes in the second half. But the scoring wasn;t over: Joachim popped up in the final minute to slot the ball home from just inside the box and secure a point for the Pilgrims. Former Leeds coach Adie Boothroyd took a chance on ex-Leeds loanee Marlon King as he makes his mark at Watford - and it looks like he's made a smart call: King scored twice against Cardiff to give the Hornets a 1-3 win (though the Cardiff goal was largely down to Clarke Carlisle's appalling attempt to play offside on the halfway line).

August 14: Jon Woodgate is getting closer to a return to full fitness - but Real Madrid are taking no chances, and will not be throwing him straight into La Liga action. Real coach Wanderley Luxemburgo says that the player will start with the juniors and work his way up the age groups as his confidence and fitness returns. He said: "He has to regain his confidence little by little and then forget the injury he has suffered... He has not played for at least 14 or 15 months and that is a long time to be out of action. With only two weeks of full training with the first team behind him he cannot play straight away."

August 13: Kevin Blackwell and Peter Lorimer will be hosting a question-and-answer session at Elland Road on Thursday 25 August. Former Leeds striker John Pearson will be running the session and a couple of current first-teamers will be present. Not sure how much they'll sting you for on the door (but you can bet the beer won't be cheap).

August 13: Former Leeds youngster Warren Feeney is hoping to make his mark against Leeds today. After leaving Leeds following an injury-ridden end to his spell in the youth and reserve teams, Feeney had a successful stint at Bournemouth before moving on to Stockport last year and joining Luton just before the transfer deadline in March. He said: "When I was at Leeds, I got into two first-team squads and was doing well before I had hernia problems, which just wouldn't go away. My injuries knocked me back and I feel I'm making up for lost time with Luton. It's great to be playing in the Championship for the first time and I want to prove to people that I can compete at a higher level."

August 13: Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell today pleaded with midfielder Eirik Bakke not to go - to Norway that is. Bakke has been recalled to the Norwegian squad after playing just two full first team games - and since he was on international duty two years ago when he first picked up the injury that has seen him forced to watch from the sidelines for so long, Blackwell's reluctance is understandable. Blackwell said: "I don't think Eirik is ready to play game after game yet. We're governed by FIFA and I can't stop Eirik going but if I'm being honest I'd rather he didn't go. It is a real honour to get selected for your country but I'd rather Eirik continued to build his fitness up. I think this game is just a little too early for him. I'll be talking to Eirik about it and I hope common sense will prevail."

August 13: I suppose an away point against the top side in the division isn't to be sniffed at. Luton had most of the pressure and the best chances bar one - Michael Ricketts missing another sitter after being surprisingly selected to start ahead of David Healy. Kevin Blackwell was happy enough with the point: "Luton have already rolled over two big names in Crystal Palace and Southampton and Leeds was the next big name on their list. We battled and you have to if you want to win the Championship."

August 12: Neil Sullivan is a doubt for the trip to Kenilworth Road tomorrow with a thigh injury, and Ian Bennett is on standby to replace him. Sullivan only managed the last week of the pre-season after undergoing a shoulder op back in May, and now he's picked up a knock on the thigh from the Cardiff game. Kevin Blackwell said: "Sully is in an oxygen tent as we speak. He took a whack just before half time and has a haematoma on the front of his thigh, but we are hoping he will still be available." Paul Butler looks set to overcome his foot injury and return to the side after limping off at half-time in Cardiff. There's also a problem between the sticks for the home side: Marlon Beresford is injured, so they could be forced into selecting a 19-year-old to keep out the Leeds strike force.

August 12: Kevin Blackwell returns to his home town tomorrow, but is intent on heading back up the M1 with all three points. As a youngster, he was taken to watch The Hatters by his father, and Blackwell had trials there. He said: "I've seen some good players over the years at Luton. They've had people like Chris Nicholl, Ricky Hill, Steve Foster and Danny Wilson." This will be onlt the second time he's encountered Luton as a coach or manager, but he knows where his loyalties lie tomorrow: "I'm not one for emotion and all that. I'm not interested in the paraphernalia that goes with it. It's rubbish. I'm going there as Leeds United manager hoping to win the game for Leeds United." Blackwell says that he won't be giving Mike Newell's promoted side anything less than the utmost respect: "They are one of the form sides over the past couple of years - they walked League One last season and they are in the Championship on merit. They are a hard-working side, they are playing with a lot of confidence and their team spirit is among the best in this division. I'm expecting a tough game."

August 11: Leeds reserves blew a 1-2 lead to go down 3-2 to Newcastle at Kingston Park last night. Gylfi Einarsson headed an equaliser just before the break after the Magpies' Paul Huntington had opened the scoring on 35 minutes. Michael Ricketts produced a stunning overhead kick to take Leeds in front just before the hour, but Newcastle equalised almost immediately and went on to grab a winner when Ian Bennett spilled a free kick into the path of Peter Ramage.

August 11: There's an England recall for Smith on the cards - but that's Sue not Alan. Leeds Ladies midfielder is back in Hope Powell's squad for the 2007 World Cup qualifiers coming up against Austria.

August 11: Robbie Blake was unhappy that his strike didn't bag Leeds at least a point on Tuesday night - and he's pointed the finger of blame at the ref. Blake pointed to a fairly blatant handball to prevent a goal by Cardiff's Jeff Whitley, and compared that to Matthew Kilgallon's contact with the ball that gave the home side a penalty: "I think the referee has to look at his decision making today because although we didn't play well we were harshly done by on certain decisions. It's frightening to think that the referee can see a penalty from 40-yards away, and fair enough Killa's gone up for it and made contact so it's a penalty, but he was stood five yards away from the other one and I find it amazing that he hasn't given it... The defender's basically done the keeper's job, palmed it off and it's gone between Rickett's legs and it was a blatant penalty. I am not saying we deserved something out of the game, but we should have had that one."

August 11: Paul Butler's foot is NOT broken after all. An X-ray today revealed that all the bones were intact, and there's now hope that he can make it back to full fitness in time for Saturday's trip to Luton. Robbie Blake has a bit of a groin strain, and Eirik Bakke is carrying a calf injury although both are thought likely to be fit for Saturday.

August 10: Kevin Blackwell's 217th triallist of the summer turns up at Leeds this week: Samuel Slovak (of Slovakia, naturally) is currently with Nurnberg in the Bundesliga after a stint at Slovan Liberec. The 29-year-old plays in midfield, and is a current international, despite being out of favour at club level.

August 10: Paul Butler will be out of action for at least a month after it was confirmed he had broken a bone in his foot. The player picked up the injury against Millwall, but had hoped to be able to play through the pain, hence his half-time substitution last night.

August 10: Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell was not best pleased with the team's performance at Cardiff last night. He said: "We went from being totally in control, when we should have finished the game off, to ending up having our backsides smacked... We had a little blip like this against Millwall for 20 minutes where we have a good spell and get on top and for some reason it all seems too easy and we take our foot off the pedal. I am angry because I have some experienced players who should know better than that and I have let them know in no uncertain terms that it isn't good enough." He went on: "We had the chances to finish them off: [Jermaine] Wright should have finished his chance off, there's no doubt about that and we would have been 2-0 up at that point and home and dry."

August 10: Shaun Derry and Dan Harding are back on speaking terms after a spat in last night's game saw Derry booked. Kevin Blackwell was unimpressed to see his players having a pop at one another, and said: "I think that was the frustration of the moment coming out because they were desperate to get the equaliser but it is something I have addressed and have made sure won't happen again. We will deal with the incident in-house." Derry held his hands up over the incident: "It was a heated occasion and it's always going to be heated down here in Wales. I think on my part my temper just boiled over, I have apologised to Dan Harding in the changing room and there is nothing in it."

August 10: Former Leeds lad Andy Gray has made a big-money move from Sheffield United to join Sunderland in the top flight. £1.1 million was needed to make Gray move, and he will sign a 3-year deal. Sunderland boss Mick McCarthy said: "Andy will add experience and know-how to our strike-force. He'll complement our existing strikers and at 27 he's in his prime. His style of play gives us another option."

August 10: Rui Marques is set to start his first game for Leeds tonight as the reserves face Newcastle. Ian Bennett. Stephen Crainey, Simon Walton, Gylfi Einarsson, Frazer Richardson, Matthew Spring, Michael Ricketts and Danny Pugh make up one of the strongest second-string line-ups we've seen for ages. More later...

August 09: Seth Johnson could be on his way back to Derby - if Rams boss Phil Brown gets his way. Johnson has settled his contract with Leeds and is a free agent, and Brown said: "Seth's shown an interest in us and obviously the feeling is mutual. With a bit of luck on Thursday or Friday, he'll come in and train. He came to have a look at us and he was pleased with the character of the team and pleased with the performance. It's in its early stages but with a bit of luck, Seth Johnson might be a Derby player in the future."

August 09: For a man who claimed to be Leeds through and through, Peter Ridsdale's loyalties seem to have switched to his new employers with remarkable speed. Now in charge of Cardiff, the innumerate moron who didn't so much fall asleep at the helm as steer the Good Ship LUFC straight onto the rocks says that he wants Cardiff to win tonight's match. "I will be turning up for the Leeds game as deputy chairman of Cardiff and I honestly hope Cardiff win. If Cardiff score I'll be on my feet, just watch me. I hope we beat Leeds... My whole passion and commitment is now with Cardiff City. I have a job to do for this football club." If anyone happens to have a dictionary with them tonight, please could they pass it on to Mr R, with the pages containing the definitions of "passion" and "commitment" clearly marked, since he's obviously as clued up about words as he is about numbers.

August 09: Kevin Blackwell reckons that his side can take advantage of the Cardiff players' lack of familiarity in tonight's game. With new boss Dave Jones being forced into wholesale changes due to the financial problems at the club (sound familiar?) Blackwell says that his team can show how it's done: "[Dave Jones has] signed seven new players over the summer and he's trying to integrate them into the team, it takes time to get it right, we know that from our own experience. So this might just be a good time to catch them but we have to make sure we take advantage. We are going to have to stand up to them, and to be fair to the lads they did stand up last time. I think we did well in the first half and then took a battering second half, now we have to go there with a positive attitude and we know no-one is going to lie down for us, and equally we must not lie down for anybody and Ninian Park will be a real test for that." Let's hope he's right...

August 09: Leeds have been fined £15,000 due to the number of bookings totted up by the players last season. With 78 yellows and 5 reds in 2003/04 Leeds got a suspended fine of £60,000, and after extending that total to 81 yellows and 7 reds last time round the disciplinary hearing today activated part of the fine, while leaving the balance suspended for the rest of the season.

August 09: A first-half tap-in for Robbie Blake gave Leeds false hope at Cardiff tonight. With Paul Butler forced off at half-time, and sub Jason Koumas revitalising the Bluebirds' midfield, Leeds found themselves on the back foot in the second half. The midfield backed away from Koumas as he ran 20-odd yards to the edge of the box (no, we haven't learnt from our mistakes) and looked on in horror as he unleashed a cracker that left Neil Sullivan with little chance. Seven minutes later, a penalty-area scramble saw the ball strike Matthew Kilgallon's arm, and although Sully went the right way, former Baggie Darren Purse slammed the ball home from the spot. And to cap it all, the stadium announcer bid the Leeds fans a fond farewell from our wonderful ex-chairman.

August 08: Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell cited half a dozen different reasons why he wasn't bothered by the poor turnout yesterday. Holidays, the fact that the game was on a Sunday lunchtime and on Sky, and the fact that the opposition didn't present the most compelling draw in town, but Blackwell does expect the fans to return. He said: "It's early in the season and a lot of crowds were down yesterday and a lot of people are still on holiday at this time of year. It is Leeds' biggest week for holidays, but all we can do is play football. This is a massively-supported club and it will be - it's a long old season."

August 08: There are no new injury worries for Kevin Blackwell ahead of Tuesday's visit to Cardiff. Rob Hulse and Steve Stone remain on the long-term list, but Neil Sullivan came through the full 90 minutes without any reaction, and the Leeds boss is expected to keep faith with the side that took the three points on Sunday. For Cardiff, Alan Lee could start up front but Jason Koumas is out with a groin strain, and Richard Langley and Andy Campbell are both carrying knocks and are likely to miss out.

August 07: In a ground barely half full, Kevin Blackwell's team got the season off to a winning start thanks to a brace from David Healy. Healy hooked the opener into the net from inside the 6-yard box after Millwall failed to defend a corner, but there were precious few chances for either side. Neil Sullivan was left flat-footed by a screamer from Don Hutchison to equalise on the hour mark - a mistake by Dan Harding let Alan Dunne set the veteran up from 12 yards. Healy's winner came from the spot after Eirik Bakke drew a foul when breaking into the box: Healy's finish was nerveless and Leeds grabbed the points. Credit where it's due department: Michael Ricketts who has lost weight and gained some motivation; Sean Gregan for being so strong in the air at the back (if a little flat-footed against pacy attackers); and - surprisingly - Jody Morris for the way he ran the midfield for much of the second half, but mainly for standing up straight away after Derry and Gregan both did dead-cert yellow-card challenges on him, resulting in two talking-tos rather than two bookings. A decent start against a team that came to defend: we'd have drawn this game last season and I guess we've got to give a bit of credit to the coach as well as the players and note that they did a solid job across the park.

August 06: Andy Gray opened the scoring from the spot for Sheffield United yesterday as they went on to record a rather flattering 4-1 win over a Leicester side featuring Jason Wilcox and Alan Maybury. Nathan Lowndes struck twice in the first half to give Port Vale a 0-2 lead at Southend: the home side pulled a goal back but that's as far as the comeback went. Finally, Clyde Wijnhard scored from the spot for Darlo at Rushden, but the home side equalised almost immediately and that was the end of the scoring.

August 05: With the new season dawning, Kevin Blackwell decided to give one final run to the long-in-the-tooth but reliable old favorite that helped him out of many a hole last season. He said: "This time last year we didn't even have a bench for the first game against Derby. So on the Friday at 12.30pm I signed Brian Deane, Craig Hignett and Steve Guppy... I had 28 debuts last season, which I think is a professional record." Sadly, it looks like he's called time on another old favorite: not one mention was made of his lonely time at Thorp Arch with just Gary Kelly for company. Those phrases became close personal friends to many of us last season: they will be sadly missed and mourned until we can find something else to carp on about this time round. On a less flippant note, Blackwell reckons that the team has turned the corner. "If I was to write a report now I would say the long-term future of the club is so much better than I could have dreamt 12 months ago. Don't get me wrong, we are still building from nothing and while I have got a good squad of players they have never played together before. There will be at least six debuts against Millwall on Sunday, but the signs are that we now have a very good unit." Now that's interesting. Bennett, Harding, Blake, Lewis, I'm struggling. Ian Morris, Nick Gray or Gavin Rothery to get a surprise look-in?

August 05: The club today warned fans not to do things the traditional way on Sunday by staying in the pub (if you can find one that's open) until 5 minutes before kick-off and then charging for the turnstiles. New "security" arrangements are in place, which basically mean they'll use it as an excuse to search anyone who they don't like the look of, and loads more besides. They suggest you don't bring bags into the stadium (all very well if you're nipping to the game from your house at the top of Beeston Hill - a bit more of an issue if you've got some travelling to do), and - here's the funny bit - they suggest that you report any suspicious activity to the stewards or police! Over the last couple of seasons we've seen a depressing increase in the frequency and volume of racist chanting at Elland Road, and I have yet to see a steward or a police officer lift a finger to stop it, even when it's being done in their left ear. So I suppose it would be perverse but not entirely unexpected if they insist on evacuating the stadium when some yellow-jacketed genius spots an unattended crisp packet lurking suspiciously near the toilets.

August 05: Keith Gillespie has found a home for next season - and it's just the sort of home that could return to haunt us. The rejected triallist has linked up with Kevin Blackwell's former boss at Bramall Lane and joins the Blades on an appearance-related contract, with Neil Warnock seeing him as cover for Paul Ifill. I'm off to the bookies to get some money on him to score a hat-trick on October 21.

August 05: Clarke Carlisle has been forced out of the club after it was made clear to him that he was effectively 5th-choice centre-half behind Butler, Gregan, Kilgallon and Marques. Leeds agreed a fee of £100,000 with both Stoke and Watford, with the defender opting for the latter after agreeing personal terms. Obviously Kevin Blackwell's in a much better position to judge than us mere mortals, but WHAT? Carlisle seemed to have more pace than all bar Kilgallon, was a threat in the air going forward and was strong in the air in defence, Admittedly he did make a couple of mistakes at the back-end of the season, but I've got to admit I'm gobsmacked we're letting him go given the alternatives currently available.

August 05: A few quick words from the lads ahead of the season's opener. Captain Paul Butler says that the team aren't going to settle for second best: "Last year supporters excused us for some the results because of what was happening at the club, but that's not going to be the case this season. The Chairman and the Gaffer have done everything they can to build a squad here that can compete at the top of the league and that's what we expect to be doing. Promotion is the only thing we will settle for this season, we believe we can do it." He went on: "The standard at this club has been raised so much since the start of the new year and now we have to deliver, because it's time for the talking to stop." Sean Gregan pointed to the sea-change in the club's fortunes over the last 12 months: "Last year everybody was saying we were going to get relegated. I don't think this year will be as bad as all that, hopefully the opposite as people are expecting us to do very well. The facts are we have made some great signings this season and we are in good shape. We have worked hard and let's see what happens on Sunday."

August 05: With somewhere between 19,000 and 22,000 tickets sold for Sunday's opener depending on who you talk to, Kevin Blackwell asked the Leeds fans to come down and back the team. An early Sunday kick-off and the fact that the game is televised has discouraged a few, and the fact that Millwall have declined their allocation - which will almost inevitably lead to some aggro elsewhere in the ground as their loyal fans find a way to watch the team - has also contributed to the slow sales. The manager said that he needed the old "fortress Elland Road" atmosphere: "We need all the supporters to get behind us and make Elland Road a place to be feared. There's nothing like this place with a good atmosphere - it's inspiring. The fans have shown amazing loyalty in sticking by this club in great numbers when it would have been easy to walk away, and I hope they'll do the same again this year." Tickets will be on sale on the day.

August 05: Despite strong rumours linking him to an imminent switch to Villa, Eirik Bakke insists he wants to stay at Elland Road and help the club back into the top flight. He said: "Some clubs might have come in, but I'm happy here and want to stay. I've spoken to the manager and he says he wants me here. I want to draw a line under it. There's nothing it. I'm staying here - end of story." If he can stay fit, he'd be a huge asset to the team at this level, and is one of a few players in the squad who would stand a chance of making it into a Premier League first team. The player said he wanted to lay the rumours to rest after he found that just about every fan he met would ask him about his plans: "I'm only interested in staying here. I think we have a good chance of going up, and I just want to play football and not keep reading stories about me going to this club or that club. I just want to play and hope it all calms down. If someone does come in, I can't do anything about that, but I want to stay here."

August 05: If you've not registered in the long-standing LUPL - or even if you have, I'm told there's another league been set up out there that you can join now. Take a look here for more info - and select Leeds United as your home league.

August 04: Leeds custodian Neil Sullivan says he's raring to go and can't wait to start against Millwall at the weekend - if Kevin Blackwell picks him of course. After making just one full appearance plus one half in the pre-season games he admits he was a bit rusty but reckons he's now ready to face a real game. "The shoulder feels fine, we have got a good medical team at Thorpe Arch... there are no problems now, I just need minutes on the pitch and I will certainly be making myself available for the game on Sunday."

August 04: The club today announced that Seth Johnson has agreed to cancel his contract a year ahead of time. It's not been stated what the settlement will be, but you can bet that he's not foregone too substantial a proportion of his 37 grand a week salary. He's now free to find his own club - and cop for a signing-on fee to cushion the blow if his agent can swing it - after making just 59 appearances in nearly 4 years at Elland Road. With the transfer fee and his salary included, that means that he's cost us approximately A QUARTER OF A MILLION QUID for each appearance he has made. The mind boggles...

August 04: Bernie Mandic sued the SBS Broadcasting Corp over remarks made in Les Murray's TV football program The World Game in which it was alleged that Johnny Warren (former Socceroo captain who died recently from cancer) had slandered Mandic. He claimed that Warren had called him a parasite and a liar over his handling of the Harry Kewell transfer. It took the NSW Supreme Court jury took five minutes to decide there was no defamation. Shame the jury in London failed to give such a decisive kick to other parties involved in that transfer. Cheers to Terry for that story.

August 03: Michael Ricketts scored twice for the reserves as they ran out 1-3 winners at Harrogate Town last night. Neil Sullivan played the full 90 minutes as he stepped up his bid to claim a starting place on Sunday, and there were also full games for Stephen Crainey, Clarke Carlisle, Simon Walton, Matt Spring and Danny Pugh. Harrogate took the lead halfway through the first half, but Ricketts equalised from a Pugh cross shortly after. Nick Gray put Leeds in front just after the break, and Ricketts made it 1-3 almost immediately afterwards.

August 03: Fourteen Leeds fans were sentenced today for their part in "horrific mass violence" at the fixture between Leeds and Cardiff last season. The men received jail terms of up to 21 months plus an 8-year ban from attending football matches. Another man received a 240-hour community service order and a 5-year ban.

August 02: After a massive season last time round, Simon Walton is worried that Kevin Blackwell will overlook his claims for a place this season. He said: "It's been frustrating because chances have been limited and I haven't played a lot yet. There's a lot of new players come in and there's competition wherever you look, but that's good because it makes people play to a higher standard... I played a lot last year and I'm hoping I'll still be involved. I hope the manager doesn't forget about me." Walton wants to play in his favoured position of centreback, but whether there or in the midfield he faces a much tougher fight for a place this season. He says: "I definitely see myself as a central defender - it's where I'd played all my football up until last season and I hope that is where I'll be playing this season. What I've got to do is get my head down in training and the reserves and try and show that I'm ready for the chance. Hopefully by doing that I'll get an opportunity and it's down to me to take it."

August 02: John Oster has finally found a club willing to take a chance on him. After trials at what seems like most of the Championship clubs, Oster has signed on for a one-year stint at Reading after Burnley, Preston and Millwall all declined to take him on.

August 02: For a record-breaking 22nd season, the Leeds United Predictions League stumbles into action at the weekend. Join up here, or if you're already on board from last season just go straight to the predictions page and stick your guess in now.

August 02: Leeds Crown Court heard from the police in charge of maintaining order at last season's Cardiff home game as the people who had entered guilty pleas to charges of affray came up for sentencing today. One senior policeman said that the trouble at the game was the worst he had seen in eight years of policing Elland Road - apart from the Galatasaray game, obviously enough. The nine defendants had all been caught on film in a crowd of a couple of hundred who hung around long after the game had finished with the intention of starting a fight with the Cardiff fans. Another nine defendants will appear in court tomorrow when sentence will be passed. Meanwhile the club have teamed up with Bradford City, Huddersfield Town and Halifax Town and West Yorkshire Police to share intelligence in order to combat violence at games across the county. Assistant Chief Constable David Crompton said: "Football related anti social behaviour, including violence, disorder and racist behaviour, remain significant issues for the four clubs and the Force. We want to eradicate these issues from grounds and surrounding areas, and together we can work towards this target". In a statement, the club said: "Anything that helps work towards improving the enjoyment and safety at a game for the true football fan gets the full support of Leeds United. We believe that by linking up with the police and the three other clubs we can pool information together and cut football disorder, something that tarnishes the game."

August 02: Jermaine Wright says that he's prepared to fight Steve Stone for his place. Wow. A fight against a player who's going to be out injured for three months. That will be one tough battle Jermaine! Wright said: "It's one of those where you have to take your opportunity when it comes because we have competition for every position now and I just want to get in the team. Stoney will have to fight to get the shirt off me, that's how I see it. I am paid to play football, I don't want to be sat on the bench. There's only 11 who can start every week and you have to make sure you're in that 11." Wright had a poor season last time round, and in fairness he admits that and says he's determined to make a difference this term. "I am enjoying it now, that's the difference. There's a lot went on that people don't know about, but you have to keep doing it and that's possibly why I wasn't smiling as much and why I'm happier now. There's no point in moping about it...last season was disappointing, but that's all behind me."

August 01: Our wonderfully realistic and lifelike mascot has a new name: the bloke in the spotty fur suit will henceforth be known as Lucas the Kop Cat. Bet it took them weeks to come up with that one: now, which player can we nominate as Benny the Ball?

August 01: Kevin Blackwell today set out his target for the season, and although he refused to actually say the words, he set a promotion place firmly in the team's sights. "I'm not going to do everybody else's team-talk for them by saying we will be promoted. But I feel we are at the point where we can give it a go and see where we end up. I am saying top-10 plus - and I want it to be a big plus." Given the quality of the squad - we've got to have the best set of strikers in the league - that seems a trifle unambitious, particularly when you consider how much money he's had to spend when compared to other managers. And Blackwell remains happy in the job and doesn't feel the insecurity or pressure that others expect Uncle Ken's chairmanship to entail. Blackwell said: "[Others] said I would be straight out of the door when he arrived. I proved them wrong. They said Dennis Wise would be coming here in the summer. I proved them wrong again. I am still here because I have done a good job and the chairman has accepted that. I want to be at Leeds and make no bones about the fact I want to be here for a long time."

August 01: Rui Marques will bring versatility along with his international experience, according to manager Kevin Blackwell. The Angolan international has played for Hertha Berlin, VfB Stuttgart and CS Maritimo, and can play at centre-back or in either full-back slot. Blackwell said: "He came in on trial and did reasonably well but we couldn't play him in certain games and what we had to do then was to let him join other clubs on trial and he did very well at Ipswich and Southampton and both tried to sign him. Once again though the Chairman has backed us and we were able to do a deal to bring him in." If international clearance comes through he could appear in Tuesday night's reserve outing at Harrogate.

August 01: Ex-Leeds star striker Andy Ritchie says that Kevin Blackwell's side have all the ingredients necessary to go up this season. Ritchie is now in charge at Barnsley, and after watching Leeds run out 1-2 winners at Oakwell at the weekend, he said: "They are a good side and, with the players they have got, they have plenty of quality. We knew Saturday would be our most difficult game in pre-season and so it proved." And Ritchie points to the arrival of Robbie Blake as a key signing: "If they can keep Blake fit he will be massive for them. He's a smashing player and he can score goals. He's a major coup for them and I'm sure he will do well."

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