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.
November 30: Relive the glory (and old second division) days at the weekend when a squad of Leeds United old boys play in a charity match in aid of the NSPCC on Sunday afternoon. The game takes place at Harrogate Town's ground, and the likes of Ian Snodin, Neil Aspin, John Sheridan, Bobby Davison, Andy Ritchie and Peter Lorimer will be in action.
November 30: Rob Hulse says that he's not too unhappy to have failed to find the net in over a month because the team are still picking up the points. He said: "I haven't scored and maybe people look at that, but I've been pleased with the way I've been holding the ball up and bringing others into play. That is important for the team." And he added: "People initially look to see how many you've scored, but that doesn't tell the whole picture and I'm pleased with my performances. As long as we keep hitting the back of the net, I don't mind who scores. It's just important that we score goals. We do need a variety of scorers because if all your goals come from one or two men then that isn't good enough. But we've proved we have the strength in depth to score and no one is more pleased than me. The way I look at it as well is that I scored against Burnley, but it wasn't given. I've seen it again and it wasn't offside. I haven't missed a lot, I'm getting on the end of things and the goals will come. Let's just say I'm not worried."
November 30: Hull City chairman Adam Pearson was happy that the police have finally announced that his team's fans can travel independently to Elland Road - but he still wants to know why they aren't getting a full allocation of tickets. He said: "We are slightly disappointed not to get more tickets, we still cannot understand why 10 per cent of the capacity - 4,000 - cannot be made available to Hull as Leeds will be getting 10 per cent for the return fixture at the KC Stadium. But the main thing is our supporters will now be able to attend without the travel restrictions. I feel they will be pleased that, as a club and a group of supporters, we have helped stop something that was wrong for football.One of the conditions from the police for reversing the decision is that should any of our fans misbehave, they must face severe sanctions. But we hope they all behave as the fans who follow us away from home every week have behaved all season." Leeds CEO Shaun Harvey said: "We are pleased there will be Hull City supporters inside Elland Road and I would like to thank the safety advisory group and West Yorkshire Police for considering the relevant matters in arriving at this decision." Meanwhile Cardiff supporters are being urged to boycott the game at Elland Road because their fans will be subject to the same restrictions that were going to apply to Hull and which reciprocate the treatment received by Leeds fans on their recent trips to Wales.
November 29: Michael Ricketts was on the mark for Cardiff yet again last night against Ipswich - although his old tendency to become Mr Sitter nearly cost the Bluebirds two points, and it took a last minute winner from Jason Koumas to make it 2-1 after the visitors had equalised in the 86th minute. Ricketts also had a penalty saved after Fabian Wilnis was dismissed after just 13 minutes. The striker says he has no idea what will happen when his loan spell expires in January: "I don't know what the future holds because right now I'm concentrating on Cardiff City. I'm here on loan until January and then I'll sit down and discuss things with the relevant people. I'm 26 and I want to be playing in the Premiership. I mean no disrespect to Cardiff City because they have given me the chance to play first-team football and I'm enjoying it here. But, like every player here, I want to play at the highest level. I've been there, I enjoyed it and I want to go back."
November 29: With Neil Warnock the target of Pompey's attentions now that they've sacked "Reggie" Perrin, Sheffield United are already said to be considering who they could get as a replacement should Warnock decide that it's better to ply his trade with a relegation-bound Premiership side rather than a promotion-bound Championship outfit. So who are the Blades interested in as a replacement? None other than Warnock's former assistant Kevin Blackwell! Tonight's YEP says that Blackwell's familiarity with the team and setup at Bramall Lane - as well as his obvious success at putting a winning team together at Leeds - have placed him at the head of the queue. But would he want to leave Leeds? Tune in next week after the Sheffield derby and find out...
November 29: Lee Bowyer has made an out-of-court settlement with Sarfraz and Shahzad Najeib as a full and final settlement of their civil action against him. The civil case came about after Bowyer was cleared of attacking Sarfraz by the court in Hull, with witness after witness failing to place him at the scene despite a huge police investigation. However some of the forensic evidence did seem to suggest he had come into contact with Shahzad, and with the lower standards of proof required by the civil courts there was the possibility that this claim might succeed. Bowyer's lawyers said that the payment was made without any admission of liability, and added: "The payment made is substantially less than claimed and is made in recognition of the simple fact that should he have to prove his innocence once again, the legal costs he would incur would be far greater and would not be recovered even if he defeated the claim once again."
November 29: Just a couple of days after he was hit with a substantial fine by the FA for apparently insulting Graham Poll after Villa beat Brum, David O'Leary came closer to fulfilling the bookies' predictions that he is next in line for the chop in the Premiership as he saw his team of highly-paid internationals slump to a 3-0 defeat in the Carling Cup at Doncaster. James Milner plus the likes of Baros and Angel could not muster a goal between them as Dave Penney's side deservedly went through to the last 16.
November 28: Shaun Derry was forced off the field early on Saturday carry what looked to be a hamstring problem - on top of the niggle in his back that he had picked up in training last week. Kevin Blackwell was worried: "It looks like Shaun suffered a torn hamstring. He came across and it was clear he couldn't run any more but he gave his all. He had a test this morning and I thought of the three players we had concerns about, he was the one nailed on to finish the game, but it turned out to be the other way." We should get more news tomorrow once he's been properly assessed.
November 28: Saturday's yellow cards mean that both Sean Gregan and Jonathan Douglas have hit five for the season, so they'll face an enforced lay-off for next Saturday's visit of Leicester City to Elland Road. As if Kev didn't have enough to worry about...
November 28: The club today issued a statement saying that they were sorry for the behaviour of "a minority" of fans who chanted through Saturday's silence for George Best. The statement reads: "We certainly do not condone this kind of response and feel that those responsible for not observing the silence have let the club down. We apologise to all who were offended by such a response. We have already been in touch with Millwall FC to see if there is anything they can do to identify those responsible." The implication being that they'll take your away privileges from you if they can stick a name to the faces - using some obscure regulation that you signed when you joined the Members Club. Now remind me what Uncle Ken was telling us about how much better-behaved supporters were now that his shiny new Members Club was supplanting the Evil Empire of the no-longer-official Supporters Club?
November 27: Robbie Keane opened the scoring for Spurs on their way to a 1-2 win at Wigan. Matthew Spring gave Watford a short-lived lead at Preston: the home side grabbed an equaliser, and although Watford closed the gap on Sheffield United it now means that Leeds can sneak into third spot if the game in hand yields three points. Julian Joachim twice put Boston in front as they grabbed a 2-1 win over Wrexham. Mark Tinkler headed the only goal of the game to give Hartlepool the points at Bradford. Derek Lilley scored once in each half as Morton ran out 0-3 winners at Cowdenbeath in the Scottish Cup. In this afternoon's game, Mark Viduka opened the scoring for Boro, but West Brom equalised and went 1-2 up before Yakubu grabbed an equaliser for Steve McClaren's side.
November 26: Kevin Blackwell says that he was disappointed by the reaction of a small section of Leeds fans to today's silence for George Best. As expected, 30-odd numpties showed the world just how hard they are by chanting "We hate ManU" during the silence. Wow. Bet that all the other firms are quaking in their boots at just how tough those lads are. What they really showed is that they don't give a toss about the club they profess to love seeing its name dragged through the mud yet again. Sure, Man City and Liverpool fans were equally disrespectful, but it's "Leeds Scum" in the papers again today. It's my opinion that we do tend to have these silences at the drop of a hat these days, and that it doesn't make much sense to have them at grounds where none of the clubs involved had anything to do with the deceased. But if the decision is made to do it, it should be respected. A far better idea was on display at Celtic and Everton among other places: have a minute's applause instead. That way the people who want to show their appreciation can do, and the small hate mob don't have the opportunity to make their voices heard. Blackwell said: "They are magnificent fans, but a few people let us down and we are all disappointed. It was the minority and it's always the minority that ruins society in this country I'm afraid and it's about time that we stood up to that."
November 25: Ken Bates has suggested that the next phase of development at Elland Road could include a pub in the South Stand, to be open all the time and not just on match days. Bates suggests that it could be named after Leeds' inspirational captain from the 1970s - Billy Bremner. He said: "Anyone who comes down here on non-matchdays to buy tickets or visit the shop can't even buy a cup of tea and that's not good enough. I'd like to provide supporters with a proper pub - not a fancy wine bar - and that's what we are looking at."
November 25: Kevin Blackwell faces yet more headaches on the selection front in tomorrow's trip to Millwall. Paul Butler is suspended, and Steve Stone, Gylfi Einarsson and Richard Cresswell remain on the long-term injury list. Liam Miller is waiting to hear if he can play in a cast, Ian Moore's groin strain has still not cleared up, and now Rob Hulse has picked up a stomach injury in training, and Shaun Derry has a back injury that also renders him a doubt. So the message as always when you're going to Millwall is "Bring your boots...".
November 25: Former Leeds Youth player Kevin Dixon is one of Gazza's first signings at Kettering Town. The 25-year-old's career has been blighted by injury both at Leeds, then Barnsley and more recently at Seaham in the Northern League.
November 25: With the death of George Best today, Leeds stars past and present paid tribute to a footballing genius. Fellow Northern Ireland star David Healy said: "I saw videos of George in action and as I grew older he became one of my heroes, people wanted me to emulate what he did - going from Northern Ireland to Manchester United. He will always be one of my heroes and I was lucky enough to get the chance to meet him a couple of years ago. It was a nice day for me, it's not everyday you get to meet your footballing icon and I got a nice picture with him and one of my Northern Ireland shirts. That shirt is something I will always treasure and something I will remember him by." And a former team-mate at Old Trafford, Johnny Giles added: "He was the most naturally gifted player I have ever seen. He had the lot - balance, pace, two good feet, he was brave, strong and a good header of the ball. Pele wasn't as gifted as George Best and I would definitely put George above Johan Cruyff because he had more heart." There will be a one-minute silence in his memory at all games tomorrow: if there is anyone out there crass enough to be thinking of making a racket because he happened to play for the wrong United, just remember what we heard - or rather didn't hear - at Old Trafford on the day it was announced that John Charles had lost his fight for life: 60,000 ManU fans in absolute silence as a mark of respect for a great player with no thought of partisan abuse. Best may have been a deeply-flawed individual, but he was a great footballer who brought pleasure and joy to millions, and that's what we'll be paying tribute to tomorrow.
November 24: Kevin Blackwell claims that Tuesday night's win over Burnley shows that the team are heading in the right direction. He said: "I thought Burnley shaded it in the first half and then second half we really got to grips with the game and created the better chances... The pleasing thing for me was that when we were not on top of our game we worked very hard to make sure they did not get on top of theirs. We started to open up a little bit, our passing was better and we carved out three or four really good chances with some great football and that's what we want to see. For me it is just starting to come together." And he was happy that the players are finally linking up to lay on some decent football: "We got the crowd cheering 'ole', and we almost got Rob Hulse in after the 22nd pass, he was in and his touch just went away from him and that would have been a sublime goal... To finish with some good goals and a clean sheet is a decent day's work at the office."
November 24: Jason Wilcox became the latest addition to the clump of Leeds players in residence at Bloomfield Road today when it was announced he would spend a month on loan with caretaker boss Simon Grayson after losing his first team place at Leicester. Ian Morris is also going to be staying at Blackpool for a further month on loan.
November 24: Today's redtops say that Kevin Blackwell is trying to nick Andy Reid from Spurs on the cheap after the player has failed to establish himself at White Hart Lane following a big money move from Forest. Leeds wouldn't be offering much cash and that could be the sticking point with Spurs unwilling to book a big loss so early in his contract. But Kevin Blackwell denied that he'd made any enquiries about the player: "I don't know why we keep getting quoted as being interested in Andy Reid. I keep reading about it and I feel quite angry about it. I even spoke to Tottenham to ask them if they know why our name keeps cropping up." He did say that he was still aiming to get a loan player but didn't think his chances were high: "We've been trying all week and planned to do so right until the wire, but I'm not holding out much hope. I'm only looking for quality - there's no point in trying to bring people in for the sake of it - but for all the enquiries we've made, there's been nothing doing."
November 24: Jermaine Wright definitely won't be facing us on Saturday after Kevin Blackwell said that Leeds had refused point-blank to let the on-loan midfielder appear against the team that pays his wages. Paul Butler misses the match after totting up five bookings with his card against Saints, and Liam Miller broke a bone in his wrist and will need the go-ahead from the medical staff and a thumbs-up from the ref to allow him to wear a light cast during the game if he is to take part on Saturday.
November 24: Last Saturday's stunning comeback at St Mary's has won Leeds the Performance of the Week award from the League Managers Association. Wilko, Fergie, Dave Bassett, Barry Fry and Joe Royle made the decision and Kevin Blackwell will receive a crystall ball on Sky Sports this Saturday morning.
November 23: Burnley boss Steve Cotterill said that Turf Moor old boy Robbie Blake was the difference between the two sides in last night's game. Blake's free kick more or less settled the game, and Cotterill said: "I don't want to give him any praise, but I thought he was the difference, I thought he was superb." But he didn't think his side deserved to lose: "I thought we were better than them tonight. If anyone was a betting man there would have been only one team you'd be putting your money on at half-time." Blake was extremely pleased with the strike. He said: "It was a special goal for me and against my old club as well, so I enjoyed it but the three points is the most important thing."
November 23: The home game against Crystal Palace has been rescheduled for hopefully the final time. The game jumped around after the initial date was set for the August Bank Holiday, but Tony Popovic's international call meant that the game was postponed outright. Initially it looked as if the game would take place on a League Cup midweek slot in December - but Palace's continuing run put paid to that idea. The latest date is for February 7, with a 7.45pm start - the perfect week-before-Valentine Day gift for that special person!
November 22: David O'Leary says that he wants to hang on to Eirik Bakke for the remainder of the season - despite the fact that injuries have disrupted the Leeds loanee's time at Villa Park. With just six appearances since his August switch, O'Leary said: "We'd probably like to keep him. We'll get to that in January but Eirik is coming up to speed now and getting fit."
November 22: Kevin Blackwell has said that he doesn't expect there to be an on-field war between Shaun Derry and Micah Hyde in tonight's game. Hyde was miraculously cleared by the FA last week under their "Doesn't matter if it's a Leeds player who gets attacked" rule which required them to turn a blind eye, despite the fact that all the evidence pointed to Hyde as the person who caused Derry to need stitches in the head. Blackwell said:" Both are professionals and that must put it to bed, because if it carries on it will lead to more disciplinary problems. We just want to get on and play football." Derry wasn't looking for revenge either - he pointed out that the 3 points that Leeds took from Turf Moor was all the retribution he needed. "I'm not a cocky person, but I outplayed Micah Hyde and he knows that. He took it upon himself to settle the score in a different manner. I'm not like that. I like to settle it in the 90 minutes and if he beats me fair and square tonight he'll have done his job. I've got my way and he's got his."
November 22: Kevin Blackwell says that automatic promotion isn't out of the question for his team, despite the commanding lead currently enjoyed by Reading and Sheffield United. He said: "We're half-way through the season and there's no doubt they're flying. But you've just got to keep playing every game and keep knocking points on the board. It's like a bike race, people go way out in front but it's funny how they get caught." And Blackwell says that it's up to his players to chase down this particular breakaway: "The problem for both of those clubs is that they'll know that they need to keep looking over their shoulder. If we can put any pressure on them then great, but if we can't, we'll just keep plugging away and make sure we're in that top six."
November 21: Kevin Blackwell says that Saturday's remarkable victory over Southampton was one of the best wins he'd ever seen. He said: "It's up there with the top victories because at 3-0 down nobody could see us winning that game. I remember a night with Sheffield United against Leeds United when we were 1-0 down with 2 minutes to go and we won 2-1." Don't we all? Blackwell added: "It was pure entertainment at the end but it doesn't do anything for managers' hearts. There was not one person left the stadium and they couldn't because it was just pure theatre." Apart from the sizeable number of Leeds fans who headed for the pub at half-time. Apparently. Though I confidently predict that by the end of the season at least 10,000 Leeds fans will claim to have been at St Mary's on Saturday. Blackwell praised the fans for getting behind the side, but also put the win down to his team talk at the interval: "I sent the lads out after half time and said you've got yourself in trouble now get yourself out of it. There's not many teams that will come back from that sort of situation. we were not playing well and at 3-0 down you couldn't be any lower, but they have shown unbelievable team spirit... I have said we will get more belief and understanding in the second half of the season and certainly today they've shown the ingredients every team needs to have around the promotion places, and that's spirit - we had that in abundance."
November 21: Robbie Blake said he'd never been involved in a game like Saturday's Great Escape. He said: "It was like a film, it was all end to end and we weren't in it first half but we certainly changed it around in the second half. We are delighted with the three points, they're huge points for us because to come back against a team like Southampton is a massive feat for us." He explained: "I think after the first goal we though "ok, we've got one back," and we were just happy to get a goal and then look for a second. Once we got the second we felt they sat back a bit and felt a bit of pressure themselves. It was a great penalty and then for Liam to get the fourth was great." David Healy's arrival from the bench was seen by many as the catalyst to the recovery, but the player himself said: "The gaffer made things clear at half time to a few people, but our character shone through, we didn't let our heads drop. It's always disappointing going 3-0 down but we bounced back, I think at the end we were creating the better chances... We got lucky today because we got a goal early on when I came on and from there on they took their foot off the gas and we caught them out."
November 21: The U-18s were back on track at the weekend, winning 0-2 at Sheffield United with Kevin Smith grabbing both goals. The Youth Cup clash with Ipswich has been set for Wednesday week - November 30 - at Elland Road, KO 7 p.m. with admission three quid for adults and a solitary quid for concessions.
November 21: Kevin Blackwell hinted that Michael Ricketts' Leeds career might not be over after all. Despite having a wealth of available - and injured - talent up front, Blackwell indicated that the big striker might return from his loan spell at Cardiff as scheduled and come into contention for a place. He said: "It's good for me that he's out on loan doing reasonably well while still a Leeds United player and you never know when that may be to our benefit. I haven't spoken to Michael since he left, but I want him to just get on with it and not be distracted by anything at our club. I've got a lot of time for Michael and he has shown me this season that he's got the appetite to play football." Or it could just be a bargaining position...
November 20: Clarke Carlisle and Marlon King were both on the scoresheet - and Matthew Spring came close - for Watford as Adie Boothroyd's team ran out 2-1 winners over Sheffield Wednesday to cement their hold on third spot. Darren Huckerby added Norwich's second goal as they ran out 2-0 winners over 9-man Luton. Alan Smith was once again called into action as Roy Keane's absence from the ManU midfield became permanent, and the ex-Leeds man reminded us that he used to be a striker with a well-taken shot to open the scoring in a 1-3 win at Charlton. Nick Barmby got Hull back on level terms at Reading, but the second-placed side struck back to win 3-1. In today's game, JFH scored the winner - and was also mainly responsible for an offside goal by Yakubu that was allowed to stand as Boro twice came back from a goal down to beat Fulham 3-2.
November 20: Kevin Blackwell said that he though the match was over at half-time yesterday, and that he was as surprised as anyone at his side's recovery. He said: "All the plaudits go to the players. That's something you see only rarely in football and we're on the right end of it. At the same time Southampton will wonder how they lost that game. At half-time I told them firstly to go out and regain some pride, and then see if you can get a goal, to see how that affects Southampton. That team has got us into the top six, so they deserved the chance to dig us out in the second half."
November 19: Kevin Blackwell has indicated that Richard Cresswell could make it back into contention for a place well ahead of the new year, despite what was first feared. Cresswell damaged a knee ligament against Derby, and has defied all expectations on his recovery time so much so that he could now get a game before Christmas. Blackwell said: "He's maybe three or four weeks ahead of most people, and that's an accolade to him. He's three or four weeks away."
November 19: "At least," said Wiggy with 20 minutes to go, "the fans are now getting solidly behind the team." In the first half of today's game, the players weren't getting solidly behind anything - particularly the ball - and with Dan Harding in particular getting a roasting from nippy youngster Theo Walcott, Saints deserved their half-time.lead. A triple substitution by Harry Redknapp at half time seemed to make no difference either way, but Kevin Blackwell's introduction of David Healy turned the game. Paul Butler scored his first goal for the club - a consolation everyone thought - heading Gary Kelly's corner home with 20 minutes to go. Healy then squared the ball for Robbie Blake to pull Leeds to within a goal of the home side, then calmly slotted home the penalty given when his own cross was handled. With less than five minutes to go, Rob Hulse set up loan signing Liam Miller, and the ManU man made no mistake and grabbed all three points for Leeds.
November 18: The Curse of Kev continues: Gylfi Einarsson's dislocated shoulder will keep him out for two months, leaving Kevin Blackwell with more selection problems. Einarsson picked up the injury in Tuesday's reserve game against Brum.
November 18: With Gylfi Einarsson ruled out of tomorrow's game with a dislocated shoulder, the squad was thinned still further with the news that Sean Gregan and Rui Marques have gone down with flu (didn't they get jabs?) and Ian Moore has a groin strain so is unlikely to be available. Kev today came out and said he thought that the away support in particular had been brilliant this season - but forgot to remind those travelling to St Mary's tomorrow to bring their boots just in case.
November 18: Gary Kelly says that the team could make a serious push for promotion - if they can just keep their concentration and put a solid run of games together. With tonight's win for Wolves pushing Leeds out of the play-off places, Kelly points out where things went wrong: "We got good points against Sheffield United and Reading but by losing at Crewe and drawing to Preston we've seen a lot of teams catch us up now. I don't think we've let ourselves down over the last couple of weeks, the boys have tried their best and worked their socks off, but we've lost ground now." Kelly is hoping that the home side's game plan will allow Leeds some decent attacking chances: "We played Saints a few weeks ago and even though we won it was tough and they had a lot of good opportunities. But on the road we are generally ok because teams have to come out and not sit behind the ball like they do at Elland Road. That suits us and hopefully it'll be the case tomorrow." Kelly reckons that the promotion race will follow the pattern of previous years, and Leeds are in a great position to take advantage: "Someone always comes out of the pack, as we saw West Ham come good later and Preston, and that's what we need to do. We need to aim to stay around where we are at Christmas, and then we can make it interesting."
November 17: Julian Joachim won a penalty and scored two goals of his own as Boston made light of Swindon's superior league status to record a 1-4 win in last night's FA Cup replay. Boston now entertain Doncaster in Round 2 on December 3.
November 17: Leeds have been given a tough draw for the FA Youth Cup opener: holders Ipswich will visit Elland Road in the opening round. This is the second time in three seasons that the clubs have been drawn together, with Leeds losing the previous tie in extra time.
November 16: Leeds reserves again failed to win a home game last night when they drew 0-0 with Brum. Unfortunately for Kevin Blackwell and his plans for the weekend, Gylfi Einarsson dislocated his shoulder when he landed awkwardly in the second half. The Icelandic international was getting a run out after a three-match ban and is now a serious doubt for the weekend's game. Sean Gregan, Stephen Crainey and Simon Walton added some experience to the usual youngsters, who were also missing Gavin Rothery on England U-19 duty.
November 15: Michael Bridges has moved to Carlisle United on loan after his proposed switch to Darlo vanished into thin air. Bridges has been out of favour at struggling Bristol City since Gary Johnson replaced Brian Tinnion, and moves to Brunton Park until the end of December, with a permanent move a possibility if things work out. Carlisle boss Paul Simpson said: "He's a player I tried to sign in the summer, but City got him, so we are delighted to bring him here. He is a very experienced player who can change any game. We're looking forward to working with him."
November 15: Kevin Blackwell revealed that David Healy remains a doubt for Saturday's game at Southampton, and has yet to return to full training with his ankle injury. Blackwell said: "The longer David stays out of full training the more chance there is that his core fitness will suffer. David is not getting the football tempo so his physical development could slightly deteriorate and his touch and receiving balls at pace and at angle, things which take practice, could all drop a little bit. Hopefully he will be back in full training soon and we'll get the best out him for the rest of the season."
November 15: Sports minister Richard Caborn must be an expert doublethinker: last week he and his government colleagues were telling us all how the police knew best when it came to putting 700 years of Habeas Corpus to sleep, now he's saying that they don't have a clue when it comes to something as minor as controlling the crowds at a football match. Caborn said: "This is a big derby game but there is very little trouble inside football stadia nowadays, and it's not as if there are not derbies every other week throughout the country. I would urge the two clubs to work together with police to try and find a solution whereby the hooligans are not dictating to law-abiding football fans. Police could look at known troublemakers signing in at their local police station during the Leeds v Hull game. Let's take these idiots out of the equation because at the moment law-abiding fans are going to be punished with the restrictions being imposed upon them." Leeds CEO Shaun Harvey reiterated the fact that Leeds were only too happy to take money off visiting supporters: "Leeds United would like to see as many visiting supporters inside Elland Road as is practically possible but, as always, there are a significant number of factors to take into account for high profile local derbies... If Hull City fans are not allowed to attend the fixture then Leeds United will suffer financially."
November 15: Burnley midfielder Micah Hyde will face the FA on Thursday over the incident at Turf Moor which left Shaun Derry needing stitches to his head. Hyde has been charged with violent conduct - a charge which he denies and intends to contest in a personal hearing. If the FA run true to form, expect Hyde to be exonerated and sent home with a chocolate biscuit, while Derry will be banned for 3 matches for allowing his head to get in the way of Hyde's flailing limbs.
November 15: The club were today landed with a potentially large bill for damages and costs after an employment tribunal found comprehensively in favour of a worker claiming racial and sexual discrimination. Yvonne Campbell was repeatedly passed over for promotion in favour of other, less experienced candidates. Her manager was said to have made racist comments "under stress" and was said to have discriminated against her, but it was accepted that this may have been subconscious rather than intentional. Ken Bates had a dig at Mrs Campbell in the programme a few weeks back, so it's one in the eye for him and the club, which was said to show "a complete disregard of equal opportunities policies and procedures".
November 14: Leeds have asked the West Yorkshire Police to look again at the decision to deny Hull's supporters the right to travel freely to Elland Road. Hull City chairman Adam Perason said: "We are awaiting news from Leeds United on how their request to West Yorkshire Police went. They have also now asked for restrictions to be lifted but the decision remains with the Police." It's very much in Leeds' interest for Hull fans to be allowed in, since that would almost certainly sell out the South Stand and bring in a huge amount of extra dosh for the club.
November 14: Kevin Blackwell is hoping that he will be able to get a fully fit squad together - bar long-term absentees Steve Stone and Richard Cresswell - for the whole week ahead of Saturday's trip to Southampton. Blackwell was looking forward to getting a fit David Healy back into the training sessions. He said: "Obviously it's still early and we'll have to look after him but hopefully this week we can get in some quality sessions... It just hasn't been possible to do that recently because we've either had to send them off for treatment or when a break has come up, David, Eddie Lewis and Gylfi have been away with the countries. I'll be pleased if we can prepare well for what is a difficult trip to Southampton later this week."
November 14: The U-18 side went down to a surprising 1-2 defeat to Derby at the weekend. After a six-match streak of wins, Leeds fell behind before half-time and despite David Brown pulling a goal back, never made it back on terms.
November 13: This afternoon's televised League 1 clash between Blackpool and Scunthorpe was positively brimming with Leeds old boys. The Seasiders are now in the care of Simon Grayson - on a temporary basis anyway - after Colin Hendry was dismissed. Grayson dropped himself for the game, but did pick loaned Leeds youngster Ian Morris who obliged by scoring twice as the home side recorded a 5-2 win that sprung them out of the relegation zone almost to mid-table. On the other side - but less successful - was Andy Keogh who looked useful but was always up against it after the visitors were reduced to 10 men early on.
November 13: Spurs' midfielder Michael Brown has turned down the chance of a lifetime to come to Elland Road on loan. Kevin Blackwell had made enquiries about a player he knows well from their time at Sheffield United, but despite the fact that Brown is not seeing much first team action at White Hart Lane, he has decided to stay there and take his chances for the moment.
November 12: Former Leeds youth team player Tom Newey hammered home a cracker from 25 yards for Grimsby last night as they beat Macclesfield 3-1 to go top of League 2. Meanwhile in Scotland, Derek Lilley followed up his brace against Dumbarton with another goal for Greenock Morton as they ran out 0-3 winners over bottom club Alloa to cement their hold on second place in Division 2.
November 11: Matthew Kilgallon has thanked the fans who backed him when the manager dropped him - and says he hopes to repay them with Premiership football again. After signing a contract extension that will keep him at the club through to 2008, he said: "I am looking forward to the future now because I've got another two years left here after this and with some luck those two will be in the Premiership. I've been here since I was young, I supported Leeds when I was younger so it's massive for me to sign again but I wouldn't have done that if I didn't think we were going places, but I think we are. There's now a great set of lads here, the gaffer knows what he's talking about and he's got the staff too." He went on: "There's a lot to look forward to and personally I think I've been doing ok but it's results we need though. The fans have wanted me in and I have to repay them by playing well and winning games."
November 11: Kevin Blackwell's stated intention to continue to improve the squad has given rise to the usual batch of random rumours, and today's gruesome twosome are Matt Holland and Darren Potter. Ireland international Holland has been out of favour at Charlton this season, with just 2 League and 2 League Cup appearances and is said to be keen to get some first team football. Liverpool winger Darren Potter also wants first team experience, but knows that he's not going to get much of that in a team playing Champions League football.
November 10: Liam Miller impressed Kevin Blackwell during last night's friendly win in Rodez. Blackwell said: "Liam hasn't had too many first team games and he needs to be playing consistently. If he had rounded that run off with a goal, it would have been sublime, but I want him to be positive and get at people." Blackwell compared Miller to Lee Bowyer: "He's box-to-box, he likes a tackle and if he get into the last third un-noticed it'll be interesting to see how he does. I knew he wasn't playing regularly at Manchester United and it's about getting as many games as he can while he is here."
November 10: Richard Cresswell is on the road to recovery from the knee ligament injury that has kept him out of the side since September. The striker has resumed simple running with no ill-effects and will now move on to a tougher training regime as he aims for a return in the New Year. Kevin Blackwell said: "We have two very big players [Cresswell and Steve Stone] to come back in the new year. They will make us stronger and I have maintained that we will be a better side in the second half of the season." Meanwhile David Healy is joined on the must-rest bench by Eddie Lewis as both use the international break to get over some niggling injuries.c
November 08: Robbie Blake says that he and his team-mates can use the international break to regroup and come back fresh for a crucial series of games as the side pushes for promotion. Blake said: "This break will do us the world of good because we can regroup and prepare for the game a week on Saturday against Southampton. You have to win these tough games to be up there... We have had a tough month in terms of fixtures, we managed to take points off the big boys but Crewe away was very disappointing and picking up a point against Preston wasn't enough. We have to hang in there though because we're not even half way through the season yet, it's not over yet, but the pressure is on the teams around the top to start winning games and that's all we have to do." Simple as that then...
November 08: Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell says that today's trip to France to face Rodez Aveyron might be just a friendly on paper, but it's far more significant for the club. He said: "I believe we have to keep Leeds United's name alive in Europe, it does no harm to see us playing over there, whether it's a friendly or not, the fact is it will be the most high profile friendly game in Europe during that international break and I know a lot of the French press are interested on what has happened to Leeds United after the implosion. So there is a social aspect to this trip but the main one is raising the profile. It's a chance for us to show them how Leeds have moved on." Wish I was going, but I'm all out of holiday...
November 08: Just when he was on the point of winning a recall to the England squad, Jonathan Woodgate's bad luck has pulled him down again. With Rio doing everything in his power short of kicking the ball into his own net to prove that he would be a liability in Germany, Woodgate's return to fitness and regular games in Spain looked set to earn him a place in the upcoming friendly against Argentina. But he went off injured at the weekend and a scan reveals a torn hamstring, which will keep him out for at least a month and means missing Real Madrid's clash with Barcelona as well as the England international.
November 08: David Healy has escaped surgery, but has been given an injection and strict instructions to rest his injured ankle for the next 10 days. Healy saw a specialist yesterday and is hoping that the latest round of treatment will allow him to regain his fitness without going under the knife. He said: "The specialist has delayed any thoughts of surgery and instead, I had a jab. I have been told to rest for the next 10 days and then he will have another look at the ankle to see if the injection has been of any help." Worryingly, he added: "Anyone who has examined me isn't really sure what the problem is. I just hope that something can be done in order for me to get back to full fitness as soon as possible."
November 08: Tonight's reserve game against Manchester City has been cancelled due to a waterlogged pitch. Too much rain? In Manchester? Never!
November 08: All bets are off for the vacant manager's post for Ireland - the bookies reckon that Terry Venables is a shoo-in for the job. Venables, whose clueless contribution as manager was a major factor in Leeds' relegation, miraculously remains in demand for media jobs despite the fact that he clearly can no longer recognise a decent player from a donkey and thinks that tactics are those small mints in a plastic container. Will he accept the job or has the luck of the Irish deserted them?
November 08: Danny Pugh struck the only goal of the game as Leeds ran out 0-1 winners against Rodez Aveyron in the Stade Paul Lignon tonight. Watched by around 300 fans travelling out to support the team, Pugh got on the end of a Nick Gray cross to slot the ball home with just over 10 minutes to go.
November 07: After failing to regain full fitness and hit some sort of goalscoring form at Bristol City, Michael Bridges is the target of Darlo boss David Hodgson. Hodgson has just said goodbye to another ex-Leeds striker in the shape of the considerably more prolific (at this level) Clyde Winjhard, and he said that a move was possible: "We spoke to Bristol City last week and the two big factors are obviously the wage issue here and whether Michael is capable of getting goals for us. There is a strong possibility, but I've got to be very strong here. I can't just dive in for the sake of it. I've got to try and make sure we get it absolutely right." Five years ago, Bridges was on the point of breaking into the England team with his pace, strength in the air, ability the dead ball and a sharp eye for goal. One dodgy lump of turf in Istanbul was all it took to pack him off on a tour of world-class doctors and end up scratching around for a game in the lower divisions. At least he had a real and serious injury as an excuse - what's Nick Barmby's?
November 07: The club have tried to put a positive spin on the publication of recent Home Office figures which show an increase in the number of Leeds fans who had their collars felt last season. A total of 173 "Leeds fans" were arrested last season - an increase from 122 in the last Premiership year but with 8 additional games, one of which was the Cardiff match at Elland Road. CEO Shaun Harvey said: "There are certain league tables published annually that you do not want to be top of and this one in particular. There are many different ways of interpreting statistics but in any calculation one arrest is too many." And he went on to list a variety of reasons including the fact that Leeds have more supporters and there tend to be more police when Leeds go on their travels. But he adds: "That all said if our supporters behave and fully comply then there would be no reason for the police to take action... We believe the standard of behaviour of our supporters home and away is improving, and whilst there is still work for us collectively to do, steps are being made in the right direction."
November 07: David Healy is being checked out by a surgeon today and could go under the knife straight away if the doctors find a problem with his ankle. Healy has been carrying the problem since playing for his country against Austria and his fitness and form have suffered for Leeds since.
November 07: The U-18 side continued their good form with a win at Sunderland at the weekend. The home side had some decent chances but failed to convert them, and with 15 minutes remaining, Gavin Rothery set up David Brown for the only goal of the game.
November 07: Kevin Blackwell is said to be looking for one more loan signing to complete his squad, and he's focusing on getting a right-winger as Steve Stone is looking increasingly unlikely to make any contribution to the promotion push. Current flavour of the month is Bolton's ex-Southampton French bloke Fabrice Fernandes but his agent says that the player would prefer to stay and fight for his place at the Reebok. Blackwell said: "I know we need certain things but I am biding my time because it is almost impossible to get something at the moment. We got Liam Miller in and I know I need something on the wide right with Steve Stone out to give us that more creativity, especially at Elland Road. We hope to have them in for the Southampton game but we've tried certain places already, we had a knock back on one player which surprised many people, particularly his Premier League manager, but we'll keep trying."
He's pointed his blunderbuss at former players, his elephant gun has been trained on the old board, and now Ken Bates points his assault cannon at another easy but far less deserving target - the Leeds United Supporters Club.
Up front I'll declare an interest - I've been a member of LUSC and benefited from coach/minibus lifts to games, and a few years back my car spent a large portion of its life with three or four folks from the London branch in the back as we trolled up and down the M1 for cold February midweekers. But I hold no brief to defend LUSC as a whole: there are several things I've seen done by the Exec that I heartily disagree with, and when Ray Fell was frequently wheeled out on TV and radio to speak for "Leeds fans", I found myself unable to find a single one of the bunch of regulars I travelled with who agreed with a single word he said. Over the years I've seen members of one branch racially abuse passengers on a train, another one smoke en masse in non-smoking carriages and generally act like a bunch of thugs. But I've seen the same behaviour and worse from plenty of other folks - both Leeds fans and other random people unassociated with football, so it's not something you could single out for criticism. There are plenty of things about LUSC that could be improved, but it's not in Bates' style to muster an argument against his enemies: why waste the effort organising facts and building a reasoned case for change when you can just chuck out ad hominem attacks from the bully pulpit of the matchday programme? As any good politician would do, he carefully selects a few facts, ignores the bleeding obvious, adds an outright lie and reaches the conclusion he aimed for at the outset.
First up, he claims that the new Leeds Members Club is an astonishing success with 21000 joining. Well, I've no reason to doubt the veracity of his member count - but given you're automatically enrolled when you buy a season ticket, and have to be a member if you want to buy an away ticket, that's a "success" of default and compulsion. How many people have joined the Members Club because they wanted to find some way of giving the club a few quid for not very much, or because they couldn't wait to buy a pint in the Pavilion rather than stay up at the Brit or the Imperial? I don't have the figures for that and neither does the chairman - but I'd wager a couple of pints of Tetleys that the number would struggle to make three digits.
He non sequiturs from the "success" of the Members Club to look at LUSC. He points out - correctly - that the fans of the club have not had the greatest of reputations in the past, and that the football club has suffered for the misbehaviour of its followers. Also true and hard to contest some basic historical facts. He then moves on to shakier territory, saying that tickets for away games were distributed by LUSC "who organized the coach trips and presumably kept the profits". Well I can remember the last time I got my ticket via the supporters club: when we played at Slavia Prague I had to collect my ticket from an LUSC official because the club had screwed up the ticket distribution but knew they could rely on LUSC to do the job. Like several hundred others, I've got an away season ticket and as such we get first call on away tickets direct from the club: prior to this season generally less than 50% of the remaining allocation went to LUSC branches with the remainder being sold direct by the Ticket Office, so the football club, not LUSC, were responsible for the distribution of the majority of tickets. As for "profits" from travel, that's laughable. I can't speak for every branch, but the ones I know generally break even over the season - full coaches for the big Saturday games offsetting the half-empty minibuses taking the die-hard fans to those distant midweekers at the far end of the country. Branches provide a valuable service getting fans to matches when they would otherwise be able to afford the transport: can you really see the club providing a coach from Colchester via half of Norfolk and Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, or from Plymouth and Bristol to bring a dozen fans to Elland Road? And if by some miracle, Bates Buses offered such a service, what would it cost?
He makes another unsupported jump of logic in claiming that the Members Club is responsible for the decline in arrests at away games - ignoring the fact that he's not even comparing games at the same venues, and the fact that there have been fewer Leeds fans attending these games this time round. This is from the same school of maths that saw Krasner and co sell off an asset for a third of its book value and then claim that they'd reduced the club's debt.
Bates then asks what LUSC does for the club. He says: "I understand that they have sponsored the odd ball or player in the past (although not this year)." Given that the official programme notes that Eddie Lewis is sponsored by the North American Branch of LUSC, that's a blatant lie. The fact is that for many years LUSC has made substantial donations to the club, but this year chose not to given that (among other reasons) they perceived that Bates was about to kick them out and they'd need a new home. Bates goes on to note that they've not offered to raise funds to improve facilities, citing Sheffield Wednesday as an example where this has happened. But at least the fans have an idea of who owns Sheffield Wednesday. Given that Leeds United is being run by a property developer, with the actual ownership clouded in legal dispute, seeming to oscillate between members of the old board and an offshore shell company which may or may not be beneficially owned by Bates, and with the bondholders still lurking in the background, why should LUSC pour money into any facilities improvement? Even if they had dug into their reserves for such a project, would there have been any bar on Bates cold-shouldering them just as he's done now? Of course not!
Bates speculates that LUSC has a considerable amount of money in the bank: so what? It's a private members club and their accounts are none of his business. It might be argued that, in building up a decent contingency reserve over 30-odd years, LUSC has been far better-managed than the club.
Bates adds: "All this makes a nonsense of the Leeds anthem "Marching on Together" because clearly we're not! The good news is that irrespective of status on matchdays, you fans come together and speak with one voice!" Thing is, that's exactly what he's afraid of. If the numerous fans organisations did get together and draw in the great disaffected mass of Leeds fans, he'd find that he would have to sit down and deal with us. But the chance to do that has been and gone. Since he took over, Chairman Ken has done his best to divide and conquer. John Boocock might have gone a bit far with his predictions of doom, but his criticisms of Bates were too close to the mark so he was forced out of LUST while Bates temporarily cosied up to them. LUSC were vaguely kept onside until Bates got his feet under the table. Now they're all seen as surplus to requirements: LUSC, LUST, LUIFA missed their chance to unite and now we're all one uniform mass of Members, our "Club" run by a Sheffield Wednesday fan paid a salary from our "Membership Fees" (which Bates would no doubt denounce as "Outrageous Government Football Fan Tax" if Gordon Brown were to impose a similar levy).
What worries me here is that the chairman, having orchestrated the rescue of the club (though it's still impossible to say just how much of his own money he committed in the process) is taking his eye off the ball. What's the point in picking a fight with all and sundry? The conspiracy theorist in me says that it's an attempt to distract us from some grand scheme that will ultimately be to the benefit of just one man. The sad fact is though, that the only way we'll get back to the Premier League in the remotely near future is to put our distrust on the shelf and back the chairman. He's never made a secret of the fact that being liked isn't high on his agenda, but if he didn't go around beating up people who could bring some positive influence and backing for his actions, it would make life so much easier for all concerned.
November 06: Despite what they'd said before, Hull City's Adam Pearson has indicated that the club will not be accepting their allocation of tickets for the New Year's Eve game at Elland Road. West Yorkshire Police have insisted on all visiting fans travelling in organised groups, but Pearson now seems ready for his team to play with no support. He said: "My view all along has been it is a dangerous precedent. I thought our supporters would still want to have the choice as to whether to go or not, but from the reaction we have had at the club it is clear our supporters would rather not travel. I am delighted to be able to put that view into operation. It is frustrating because we have a great working relationship between ourselves and Leeds United."
November 05: Andy Keogh opened the scoring for Scunthorpe at Bury in the first round of the cup yesterday with a cracking header on 6 minutes. Although the visitors were two up by half-time, Bury squared the match and it took a great injury-time save from the home keeper to stop Keogh from grabbing a late winner. Nick Barmby opened the scoring for Hull against Watford, but Adie Boothroyd's side were soon level and Matthew Spring struck just before half-time to give the visitors a 1-2 victory and a firmer grip on third spot. Macclesfield's Clyde Wijnhard lobbed the Yeovil keeper to give his side the lead early in the second half, but a late penalty from the visitors booked a replay date. Burnley held on for a surprise 2-3 win at Luton, despite playing for more than half the game with 10 men, and with Warren Feeney scoring one of the home side's goals from close range.
November 04: Man U's former Celtic midfielder Liam Miller has joined Leeds on loan until the End of December. Miller has been at Old Trafford since summer 2004 with a total of 19 appearances and 2 goals (both in the League Cup). The Cork-born Miller has 9 international caps to his credit. Blackwell said: "I felt it was right to bring someone in because we need to make sure we are covered in midfield over these next few months. We have a few players one card away from a suspension and if I lose one of them then my options are limited, bringing Liam in alows us to cover midfield and also to freshen things up." Miller goes straight into the squad for the visit of Preston tomorrow.
November 04: Manager Kevin Blackwell says that he's sure his team will come out hungry for a win on Saturday, desperate to erase the memories of Tuesday's capitulation to Crewe. He said: "The players did not go to Crewe to lose but the manner in which we lost upset one or two of the players." Really? All the fans I've spoken to were just overjoyed at our defeat! Blackwell said: "The harder we tried the worse it seems to get against Crewe. We went there positive, and I think the fans felt too, that we could get the three points there and the lads knew what we wanted - we wanted to be third at the end of that game. It was just pure frustration. They do care, it hurt because some of the fans had a go and we accept that, but the club has moved forward. People see us suddenly competing with the likes of Sheffield United and Reading, and the expectations are there to do that, and that's also why it hurt so much on Tuesday." The manager appealed for a bit more patience and understanding from the fans for his team: "When we win we'll celebrate together and when we lose we'll stick together, fans and players alike, but believe me these players will give everything and I think they deserve the backing back."
November 04: A young Leeds Reserves side went down to the only goal of the game at South Leeds Stadium last night. Rui Marques and Simon Walton joined Stephen Crainey as the "experience" in the side, but even that was depleted early in the second half when Stephen Crainey limped off after sustaining a heavy challenge. Crainey had earlier come close with a free kick, but apart from Kevin Smith blocking an attempted clearance Leeds didn't really look like scoring and failed to break their dismal run of home form.
November 04: Eddie Lewis says that Leeds can't afford to underestimate tomorrow's visitors - despite the fact that Kevin Blackwell's transfer kitty has decimated their squad. Preston don't look like the side that was just pipped in the play-offs last season, He said: "Last year Preston were very comfortable at home and I don't know why they are having the problems they are, they are probably a better side than the table suggests and I think people will see that on Saturday. They are a good team, they're organised but if we are on our game we have a lot of options and can take care of business." And in an appeal for a bit of understanding rather than abuse from the visiting fans, he said: "I wouldn't disclose all the personal aspects concerning my decision to move but I made it very clear that I wanted to stay at Preston last year and I was disappointed I couldn't get that sorted out. At the same time, we both decided to move on and I am very happy at Leeds and I think Preston are not going to fall apart just because I have gone. I wish them all the best."
November 03: This morning's tabloids say that Kevin Blackwell is set to enter the loan market and bag a ManU player. Liam Miller - one of the players on the receiving end of Roy Keane's recent outburst - is said to be the target. Maybe Kev should give Fergie a ring - might get lucky and find in a reverse repeat of the Cantona situation, Fergie wants to offload Keane because none of the other players want anything to do with him. Meanwhile the ever-reliable Mirror reports that Jonathan Douglas is eager to make his loan move permanent.
November 03: Kevin Blackwell appears to have changed his tune after the defeat at Crewe. Last week he indicated that he had no immediate intentions of bringing in loan players: what was the point when we couldn't find anybody better than what we already had. But now he says: "I want to make the players know that if I can do something I will do it. There's no one going to rest on their laurels at this football club thinking they've got the shirt and that's it because I've only got 19 players. That's not good enough for me and it won't be good enough for them and I will let them know about it."
November 03: Former Leeds striker Simon Johnson is set to follow the example of Alan Smith and switch from a forward role to a midfield position for his new club. Now at Hartlepool, Johnson has only scored three times and Quakers boss David Johnson thinks that the departure of another Leeds old boy - Clyde Wijnhard, sacked by the club a couple of weeks ago - has forced him to rethink how he uses Johnson. Hodgson said: "Unfortunately because he hasn't been scoring the goals we are going to have to look at putting him an area of the field where he is going to be an asset. Now we have made the decision that we are going to take the pressure of him and we are going to put him in an offensive midfield position. So we are now looking for two strikers."
November 03: Hull City fans are up in arms over the insistence by West Yorkshire Police that only supporters travelling on official coaches will be allowed to attend the New Year's Eve game at Elland Road. Already switched to a noon kick-off to minimise the chance of alcohol-fuelled disruption, Hull are being treated the same as Cardiff and Millwall, and although their fans have had a history of antipathy to Leeds (both at rugby and football), they are hardly in the same league as the gruesome twosome. Unlike Millwall, they insist they'll take their allocation of tickets and come to the game. Hull chairman Adam Pearson said: "It is a very sad day for football. They are draconian and there are all kinds of issues at stake. We are not happy and neither are Leeds. Talks are still on-going and we are waiting to hear back."
November 03: Good news and bad news from some former Leeds players in this week's games. On the positive side, Mark Viduka played the first hour of the game for Boro against Dnipro as he continues his comeback from injury. What's more he scored twice and hit the woodwork as Steve McClaren's side ran out 3-0 winners in front of a pathetically small crowd at the Riverside. Jermaine Wright got Millwall off to a great start at Burnley with a deflected shot finding the net in the first minute. But less positive and less surprising was the fact that Jody Morris was one of four players - three from Millwall and one from the home side - shown the red card by ref Richard Beeby (remember the Brighton fiasco from last season?). Burnley went on to win 2-1.
November 02: Matthew Kilgallon has signed an extension to his contract. The young centreback's contract was up at the end of the season, and after being left out in favour of Sean Gregan and Paul Butler earlier on in the season, it was widely believed he'd be on the move in January. At least now if someone comes in with an offer of a regular place at a higher level we'll get some decent compensation - although the player makes it clear he doesn't want to move: "I am thrilled to have signed a new contract. I grew up at this club and obviously feel very strongly about what has happened in the past few years and what the fans have been through. Everyone here is determined to restore the club to it's rightful place in the Premier League and we are all working hard to make that happen. There is a great spirit here, we have a fantastic stadium, the best set of fans in the country and a very ambitious manager."
November 02: On Tuesday afternoon Kevin Blackwell was singing the praises of his side and telling them they were in a play-off slot on merit. He said: "In the last six or seven games we've played all the top sides and not one of them has managed to beat us. We've just played Sheffield United and Reading - the two front-runners - and we are still up there." He went on: "If we can get through to December, there's only four months of the season left and we are in the homeward straight." After the defeat by relegation strugglers Crewe, he'd changed his tune although he put it down to attitude and application rather than lack of skill. He said: "If the players are not good enough then we wouldn't be where we are. They are good enough and I won't accept last night's efforts. People say we have come a long way but I do not want to be going backwards at this stage. You do have bad days at the office but I don't want them." And he added: "I am very angry and have let the players know that I can't tolerate that. If they think they can play 16 or 17 good games and then have one day off they are wrong. We got our noses bloodied last night and Crewe thoroughly deserved it. You prepare teams, you warn them and they go and play like that. I am bloody angry and I have told the players."
November 01: Kevin Blackwell was disappointed with the team's performance at Gresty Road tonight as the team's unbeaten run came to an end. He said: "If players think that we can have 16 or 17 good games and then think they can have a day off then they are wrong and we got our noses bloodied and Crewe deserved it. I want to let the players know that if I can do something I will do it. There is no-one that is going to rest on their laurels at the football club thinking they have got a white shirt and that's it because we have only got 19 players. That is not good enough for me and it is not good enough for them and they will know about it." Blackwell refused to blame the slippy conditions for his players' under-performance. He said: "You couldn't print what I said at half-time. It is no good dominating the last 20 minutes of the game. We lost composure in front of goal when we had good chances and people like Robbie Blake who is an accomplished finisher was slashing at things at that summed the day up."
November 01: Kevin Blackwell is asking the USA and Northern Ireland to give his players a rest for their upcoming international friendlies. Both players are playing on with niggling injuries and Lewis was a doubt for the trip to Crewe, and Healy has been in and out of the side all season. At least they wouldn't be facing long trips - the USA are due to face Scotland at Hampden Park and Northern Ireland take on Portugal - but Blackwell is hoping that the pair will get rest. He said: "I think it would be stupid at this moment in time for them to think David can keep playing on with this injury. The problem we have got is that he picked up the injury against Austria and we have had to try and get him fit and that's proving near impossible without giving him some sort of break and I am hoping that they will agree. Blackwell says the pair would not be involved in the friendly against Rodez arranged for next Tuesday. He adds: Eddie Lewis... is looking a little bit tired and has picked up a few niggles. Eddie has played nearly 30 games already and we are only just in November."
November 01: Kevin Blackwell doesn't know what to expect at Gresty Road tonight. Sure, the opposition will be Crewe - but which side will turn up? Blackwell said: "One week they can play very well and the next week they will be very poor. They got beat 6-1 by Cardiff and than got a great result against Crystal Palace. So what Crewe side we face I am not quite sure, but they will try and play football and they will enjoy having Leeds United come to town because it will be a sell out again." And the boss hinted that Danny Pugh might get a chance to repeat his match-saving brace of goals from last season: "Danny did exceptionally well against them last season, and if he gets his chance again I am sure he will want to try and repeat it."