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Leeds United News from The Sporting Life    Yorkshire Evening Post


January 31: Kevin Blackwell insists that there will be no late rush to get new players on board as the transfer window closes tonight. Blackwell said: "Everybody seems to leave it to the last minute to sign and sell players but I am under no pressure at the moment one way or the other. It's nice to have my feet up at the moment and not be involved in trying to bring six or seven players in all at once like we did in the summer or like last season." Joel Griffiths has arrived to strengthen the squad - despite problems with his international clearance - and with reasonable cover across the squad, Blackwell seems to be coping with injury and suspension issues. Blackwell said that the chairman was backing his judgement and that there was still some headroom in the salary budget: "The chairman has made it clear that if the time and money is right we can still sign someone on loan. We are not hamstrung in any way."

January 31: Rumours surrounding a move for Chelsea's backup defender Robert Huth are wide of the mark says Kevin Blackwell. Matthew Kilgallon's injury will keep him out for some time, and centreback remains the one area of the squad where there isn't great depth of cover. But Blackwell said that Huth wasn't a realistic target: "We've no chance of signing Huth. Bigger clubs are in for him. There's no more money to spend."

January 31: Only yesterday morning Kevin Blackwell was saying that Ian Moore and Michael Ricketts both had a future at the club. By yesterday afternoon, Ricketts was loaned to Burnley for the rest of the season, and today it was revealed that we'd tried to offload Moore to Ipswich. Town boss Joe Royle said that he'd decided Moore wasn't what he was looking for: He said: "We were offered Moore but we now have Alan Lee, who I'm more than happy with. We have got Adam Proudlock back in the squad after coming back from injury, we have young Danny Haynes and Dean McDonald eager to play and Sam Parkin is getting closer."

January 31: Kevin Blackwell says that his side will be out for revenge after Ipswich's smash-and-grab raid on the points at Elland Road earlier this season. He said: "We did everything but score. Joe Royle said no-one had outplayed them or out-passed them like that for two or three years but we didn't score and they got us on the break. We felt like we'd been mugged at home and it was disappointing to lose the game but there was not really a lot I could have a go at my players for." Sean Gregan will continue as a replacement for Matthew Kilgallon, and Rob Hulse is back from suspension, but Frazer Richardson has yet to fully recover from his hamstring tweak. Ipswich are missing Jimmy Juan (suspended) and Gavin Williams (injury) but Adam Proudlock is back in contention after being out with a knee injury.

January 31: David Healy saved Leeds yet again with a late spot-kick at Portman Road tonight. Leeds had dominated the game early on, but Kevin Blackwell's formation left the team light in midfield and when Ipswich realised that they began to dominate the game. Early in the second half a long hoof over the top left the Leeds defence flat-footed and Neil Sullivan rooted to the line as Ipswich took the lead. Leeds came back into it after David Healy replaced Liam Miller, and when the ref spotted a blatant handball late on, Ipswich spent an age protesting but ultimately Healy was free to despatch the equaliser from the spot.

January 31: Not much to report on the transfer front today. After the shock switch of Robbie Fowler back to Anfield last week, the only former Leeds player on the move was Mark Jackson, moving back into league football with Rochdale after spending a year at Kidderminster.

January 31: No more games this month(!) so it's time to get your votes in for the January Player of the Month.

January 30: Kevin Blackwell says that Ian Moore and Michael Ricketts both still have a future at Elland Road - despite being being Richard Cresswell, Rob Hulse, Robbie Blake and David Healy in the pecking order. The manager said: "We put an exciting strike-force together from the start of the season but it's only been since Christmas that we've really seen it. Moore and Ricketts have just got to keep working hard in training and who knows what's around the corner for them. They all know it's about Leeds United, everybody has to work for the cause whether it's the groundsmen, cleaners or me and the chairman. We are all working for Leeds United and the players are the tip of the iceberg and the one who get the credit."

January 30: Michael Ricketts has been loaned out to Burnley until the end of the season. Given that their striker shortage is - at least in part - down to our buying policy, I suppose that's fair enough given that he's not going to get a look-in at Leeds no matter what Kevin Blackwell might say in public. Ricketts scored 5 times from 17 starts with Cardiff in his loan spell earlier this season.

January 30: After all the furore over season ticket price rises for this season, Uncle Ken has moderated the increases for next time round - provided you show a bit of faith and book early. If you renew by February 28, then you'll be paying no more than thirty quid more than this season's price - even if we do manage to get promoted in the meantime. There will also be an interest-free payment scheme available to those early renewers. A further twenty quid will go on the price if you renew after the first deadline but before April 10. But if we do get promoted and you've not renewed, don't expect any similar favours when you want to secure your seat for Premiership football!

January 30: Simon Walton has ben called into the Football League U-21 side - a sort of pseudo-England thing - to face the Italian equivalent at the KC stadium on February 21. Altogether 33 players were in the squad, though that will be cut to 16 for the match itself.

January 30: A Karen Walker hat-trick gave Leeds Ladies a fairly easy win over Everton as they progressed to the last 8 of the FA Women's Cup at the weekend. They've now received a relatively easy draw - avoiding Arsenal and Charlton - with a trip to Birmingham in the next round giving them a good chance of securing a semi-final place. Manager Julie Chipchase said:" There are no easy games in the quarter finals of the FA Cup, but I am happy with the draw. Birmingham proved they are a good team by beating us before Christmas, that defeat hurt and we were very poor on the day. We have since turned a corner and have been playing well since the new year." The tie will be played on February 12.

January 29: Nearly three years and two clubs down the line, we're still paying some of Robbie Fowler's wages. Fowler's wages at Manchester City were subsidised by Leeds in order to get at least some of that pay out of the debit column of the balance sheet, and that deal will continue until the end of the period he was contracted with Leeds for. COO Shaun Harvey said: "Our agreement is with Robbie Fowler and as such there will be no change. Leeds are not going to be relieved of any financial burden, the deal was agreed that Leeds would continue to pay Robbie Fowler until the middle of 2006 and that deal stands no matter where he plays."

January 29: The much-rearranged League match against Palace has been postponed again after the Eagles drew their 4th round FA Cup tie with Preston yesterday. The league game had been arranged for the slot held open for replays, and at this rate it could be next season before the match takes place.

January 28: Mark Jackson was on target for Kidderminster again, bringing his side back on level terms after they had conceded an early goal to Southport. Jackon's team-mates went on to complete the job with three unanswered goals for a 1-4 win. It was - almost - an all-Leeds effort at Vicarage Road: Matthew Spring scored twice in the first half and Marlon King added a third just short of the hour as Adie Boothroyd's side went on to beat Crewe 4-1. JFH gave Boro the lead at Cov in the Cup just after half-time, but the home side squared the match and took the tie to a replay. Nathan Lowndes gave Port Vale late hope after they had conceded two quick goals to Milan Baros at Villa in the Cup. But DOL's side struck again in injury time to grab their spot in the next round.

January 27: In a surprise move this afternoon, Robbie Fowler rejoined Liverpool. He's left Man City on a free transfer and is on a contract through just to the end of the season. Maybe Cisse's admission that he's better at hitting his wife than finding the net made Rafa Benitez's mind up that an alternative was needed up front.

January 27: After Robbie Fowler's transfer yesterday, two more ex-Leeds players made a switch on free transfers today. Brett Ormerod has been deemed surplus to requirements at Southampton, so he's moved to Preston, and Jason Wilcox has joined loanee Ian Morris under Simon Grayson at Blackpool.

January 26: Sean Gregan says he's not going to pass up the chance to re-establish himself in the starting line-up. He said: "It's unfortunate what's happened with Killa and it's not nice when you get an opportunity because someone else is injured. I think he's been our best player and I wish him a speedy recovery - but it's an opportunity for me and I want to take that. I want to give the manager some food for thought for when Killa comes back."

January 25: Hungarian international Zoltan Boor has turned up at Elland Road to see if he can convince Kevin Blackwell he's worthy of a contract. Boor can play on the right side of midfield - which has been a bit of a problem area for the boss to fill - and is looking for regular first-team football after falling out of favour at his current club Vestel Manisaspor.

January 25: 18-year-old youth/reserve striker Kevin Smith has joined Sunderland on a free transfer. He didn't have much of a chance of stepping up at Leeds with so many experienced forwards available. Sunderland look set to lose another ex-Leeds man Andy Gray to Norwich as the Canaries attempt to fill their Dean Ashton-shaped vacancy. COO Shaun Harvey said: "We are delighted Kevin has been able to find another club. Leeds United wishes him every success in the future."

January 24: Eirik Bakke says that his heart remains with Leeds and he wants to stay at Elland Road rather than grab a move to a Premier League side. Not sure how popular that will make him with the accountants at Elland Road, but he says: "I'm back where I belong now. My heart is here and I'm not going anywhere else. I've not spoken to any other clubs, all my family and friends are here and I'm happy here." He went on: "I've been at Leeds for almost seven years and that's a big part of my life. That is the difference [to Villa]. I've spoken to the gaffer here and I want to try and play a part in our promotion bid."

January 24: David Healy's goal against England has earned him the title of Northern Ireland Sports Star of the Year for the second year in a row. He said: "It means the world to me and my family. Given all the sporting talent in the province, to win it the first time was special and now to do it again is wonderful."

January 24: Leeds are making a formal complaint to FIFA after Neuchatel Xamax continued to drag their feet over new signing Joel Griffiths' international release. CEO Shaun Harvey said: "Leeds United Football Club have officially complained to FIFA after Swiss club Neuchatel Xamax failed to issue international clearance for Joel Griffiths. The club completed the transfer seven days ago and no justifiable reason has been provided by the Swiss club for not issuing the appropriate consent. The FA have raised the matter with their Swiss counterparts and are fully supportive of our position. We hope the matter will be resolved with the minimum of further delay." The player himself is raring to go: "It's quite a big opportunity for me. The club have had some good success with Australians in the past, so it's good for me to come here and help the club get promoted - that's my aim... I can't wait to start games or even come off the bench, I'm looking forward to being part of what we hope is a promotion." He said that it was the manager's attitude that put Leeds ahead of the other clubs who were looking to pick him up: "There were a lot of agents crawling around saying this club and that club are interested, but the gaffer Kevin Blackwell saw me in two training sessions and there was no mucking around, he said let's do a deal and here we are. No nonsense from him."

January 24: Rui Marques scored the only goal of the game to give the reserves a win over Bolton last night. Dan Harding, Simon Walton, Jermaine Wright, Gylfi Einarsson, Danny Pugh and Ian Moore made it an experienced line-up for once, and Marques' goal was just reward for a decent team performance.

January 23: Well we were all a bit worrie dthat Matthew Kilgallon's form would see him snapped up by a Premiership club in the transfer window. That's now looking unlikely since he's done his hamstring and knee ligaments all at once and will not return until late March at the earliest. Kevin Blackwell reckons that Sean Gregan will be a more than adequate replacement: "I thought he had a tremendous game again, he last came in against Millwall and was man of the match there and it looked as if he hadn't been away. Full credit to Sean and I hope people do give him that credit. He's played 19 games for us this year and we've had something like 11 or 12 clean sheets, and that's why it's particularly harsh on Sean when people are ultra-critical of him. The amount of work he gets through in receiving the ball and giving the ball, he's going to make a mistake at some point and you just hope it isn't costly, but that's football."

January 23: Richard Cresswell's brace against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday may have come at high personal cost: his mum's an Owls fan! After the game he said: "I know Mum will be chuffed to bits that I managed to get on the scoresheet and I'm sure she'll forgive me in time. I was getting a bit of stick in the first half so it was nice to quieten the Wednesday fans down a bit. Sheffield Wednesday fans get behind their team like Leeds fans do and it was just nice to get the right result."

January 22: Julian Joachim scored twice in five minutes for Boston as they put their midweek hammering by Carlisle behind them with a 3-1 win over Bury. Speaking of Carlisle, Michael Bridges followed up his midweek hat-trick with another strike yesterday, and that would have been enough to beat Cheltenham but for skipper Kevin Gray's injury-time own goal which squared the game. Jermaine Pennant scored the second of Brum's unanswered five against Pompey in the Premier League relegation battle, and JFH scored a cracking header to pull Boro back into the game against Wigan - but it was in vain as Steve Maclaren's side conceded a late late winner after dragging the game back to 2-2. Mark Jackson gave Kidderminster the lead over Scarborough on the stroke of half-time, with the home side adding a second just after the break on the way to a 2-1 win. Finally Rio Ferdinand settled a scrappy match between ManU and Liverpool with a header from a last-minute free kick - too late to make a point to Sven who had already left Old Trafford: a bit rich for the England boss to describe a player as lazy then not hang around to observe him for the full game!

January 22: Chelsea are using their cash pile to dominate the transfer market at all levels - and this time it's Leeds who are suffering as youngsters Tom Taiwo and Michael Woods are being lured away from Elland Road for sod all despite their credentials as England youth internationals. Chelsea recently signed scout Gary Worthington from Leeds so he's the one to blame.

January 21: Former Leeds youngster Kevin Dixon has returned to Seaham Red Star in the Northern League. The midfielder had been signed by Gazza during his ill-fated stay in charge of Kettering but has now returned to the north-east.

January 21: Kevin Blackwell paid tribute to chairman Ken Bates after the team marked the anniversary of Bates' takeover with a win over Sheffield Wednesday. Two ever-so-slightly dubious goals - Paul Butler twice climbing all over the Owls defence to score the first, Richard Cresswell being equally "strong" in the air for the second - had put Leeds in the clear despite a lacklustre performance, before a good bit of play from Simon Walton set up Cresswell to settle the game in stoppage time. Blackwell said: "It's been a momentous 12 months and what a way to finish it. Hopefully the next 12 months can be just as successful. The club has absolutely turned itself on its head and I don't think any of us would have ever thought that would be the case." He went on: "The attendances are steadily rising and I think people couldn't believe how quickly this club imploded - from Champions League football to then be relegated to the Championship takes some doing. But right now it's a new era for Leeds United Football Club and if it's anywhere near as successful as the Don Revie era - God bless him - then there are good times ahead." Paul Sturrock was positive despite the defeat: "In the end the first goal was key, but I didn't feel it was a 3-0 result. I'm not downhearted and I've learned a few things today about my players. I've learned we are not a 4-3-3 team, but needs must today because we needed to get up there in their faces. You probably learn more in defeat than you do when you win. We're going to get healthier now because we've got 10 days without a game and we live to fight another day."

January 20: Richard Cresswell says there should be no mercy shown to his former club Sheffield Wednesday - or any of their fellow relegation strugglers. Cresswell warmed the bench when the sides last met at Elland Road, and said: "We have struggled against sides in the bottom few and we have to sort that out if we want to do anything this season. It was a really frustrating night [at Hillsborough] because before that I had been back there a couple of times and managed to get decent results."Cresswell does have one small qualm about attempting to put one over on the Owls though - his Mum's a Wednesdayite: "I might have to kick my Mum into the South Stand for the day."

January 20: David Healy poured cold water on the rumours linking him with a move away from Elland Road. He insists that Leeds is the only place for him: "I'm not going anywhere, I am happy, I love the club and I love the players. Leeds went out of their way to sign me last year when things were not as rosy as they are at the minute, and they spent a lot of money and put a lot of faith in me and hopefully I can repay that." He went on: "I want to score as many goals as possible for this club, it's a massive club and well known throughout the world and I feel the fans have taken to me. Even after I missed the penalty on Tuesday night they were still chanting my name afterwards and that says it all for me really. As I said I love it here, I want to progress my career and hopefully that's here in the Premier League next year."

January 20: Matthew Kilgallon is out of tomorrow's clash with Sheffield Wednesday after picking up a knee injury against Wigan. Joel Griffiths has yet to receive international clearance so he's also going to have to watch from the sidelines, and Kevin Blackwell will be keeping his fingers crossed as Eddie Lewis and Liam Miller receive late fitness tests after failing to last the full two hours plus of Tuesday night's match.

January 19: Michael Bridges slammed in a second-half hat-trick last night as Carlisle romped to a 0-5 win over Boston at York Street. A couple more of those and we'll be welcoming him back into the Leeds squad - we could do with another striker!

January 19: After an article appeared in the Guardian and elsewhere a week or so ago on the subject of the club's finances, the Guardian had a letter from one of the club's directors to point out that the situation was not as bad as had been painted. If we get promoted, we are liable to pay £5 million to the bondholders over two years, and there's an additional £500,000 per season we stay up - although that's chickenfeed compared to the extra money that would be coming in. Other than that, we owe the bondholders nothing: the other payments would only have fallen due if a change of control had occurred before May 2005, and although Ken took over at the club he (or the offshore fund he represents) didn't actually take a controlling stake in the club. So ner!

January 19: Young full-back Steve McKeown is on trial at St Johnstone and could end up on loan to the end of the season if the U-19 star impresses Saints boss Owen Coyle.

January 19: Eirik Bakke has returned to Elland Road saying that he'll do what he can to help in the promotion push. Although that might not be much since it's rumoured he could switch to Boro in the transfer window, so he might not end up playing for Leeds at all. David Healy out, Jason Koumas in if you believe some tabloid tattle: West Brom need help up front in their relegation struggle but it's hard to believe they'd expect half a million in cash to turn up with the Northern Ireland international in exchange for their midfielder. Alternatively Everton need some extra bodies up front after losing Marcus Bent so they're now touted as alternative buyers.

January 18: Eddie Lewis, Liam Miller and Matthew Kilgallon were all carrying injuries after last night's battle against Wigan. Lewis and Miller didn't make it to the end, but Killa continued and won plaudits from everyone for his sterling performance at the heart of the Leeds defence. Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell said: "I had to keep an eye on them and didn't want them to damage things further because we have a big game at the weekend. We'll see how they go and hope and pray they are okay for Saturday." And although he hadn't wanted to play the game he didn't complain about the entertaining tie his team helped to create: "Last night was a great cup tie and people all around the world will have been watching the game, gripped to their seats. You have to say that Sky picked a cracking cup tie, it was spot on. We took Wigan all the way. It was a cracker. Wigan had to counter wave after wave of attack and credit must go to our players. The only downside is the cruel way it turned out, but I think people can see what's happening here now and I think there are some exciting times ahead."

January 18: Eirik Bakke has returned to Elland Road before the end of his loan spell - but that doesn't mean he'll be free to play for us again until February (if he stays that long). David O'Leary has given up on the idea of signing him long-term, and he said: "It is about the clubs getting together. Eirik says he wants to stay here to the end of the season. But if Leeds want us to buy Eirik now or make a commitment like that, he would have to go back because I'm not in a position to do that."

January 17: Rob Hulse will miss Saturday's game against Sheffield Wednesday after his late booking at Brighton took him to 5 for the season and a one-match ban under the totting-up rules. He said: "I'm disappointed to miss a Yorkshire derby but it's just one of those things that happen to you as a striker. You go in to challenge for the ball and the referee sees it one way, I was a bit unlucky really."

January 17: Aussie international Joel Griffiths has opted for Leeds after leaving Switzerland's Neuchatel Xamax. The 26-year-old midfielder has played for Sydney United, Parramatta Power and Newcastle United down under, and Kevin Blackwell hopes that the ink will have dried on his 18-month contract and international clearance in time for him to come into contention for the weekend's match with Sheffield Wednesdau.

January 17: David Healy and Rob Hulse both committed the cardinal sin of failing to hit the target with their penalties as Leeds lost out to Wigan in a shootout. Behind three times, Leeds fought back well to equalise through David Healy - once by hooking in a Hulse header from a yard out and once from the spot, and finally from a tremendous 30-yarder from Gary Kelly with just 5 minutes of extra time remaining. GHowever the strikers' inability to force Filan to make a save rendered the successful strikes of Richard Cresswell and Robbie Blake irrelevant as Wigan's players notched 4 from 4 to win the tie.

January 16: Paul Jewell is accusing the FA of going against decades of past precedent and actually daring to favour Leeds. Jewell's beef is that his side played on Sunday (when they managed to lose to 10-man strugglers West Brom) and must now play again barely 48 hours later: he insists that the FA should have made Leeds forego the 6-figure Sky payday and push the game back to Wednesday night: "It's an outrageous decision. Leeds play their games on a Tuesday. We asked for it to be played on Wednesday, but they said 'no'. But I don't think it should be Leeds' decision. It should be an FA decision because it's the FA Cup." Makes a nice change after 1972 and all that...

January 16: Kevin Blackwell says his team need to forget about this weekend's reverse at Brighton and focus on tomorrow's Cup replay against Wigan. He said: "We've got to move on. We were disappointed to lose, but we've had a good run and I'm not going to start criticising people. We were back in today and we've got Wigan tomorrow. We haven't got time to dwell - we just start again."

January 16: Dan Harding is struggling with a foot injury so may remain out of contention for tomorrow night's game - although Kevin Blackwell may choose to switch to his alternate pairing of David Healy and Rob Hulse to start up front, leaving Richard Cresswell and Robbie Blake in reserve. Stephane Henchoz is suspended so Matt Jackson looks set to return, and Wigan are also without Henri Camara (African Nations Cup), David Connolly (hamstring) and Paul Scharner (ineligible).

January 15: There was a big Champions-League era reunion at the City of Manchester stadium yesterday with Alan Smith and Rio Ferdinand coming up against Robbie Fowler. And surprisingly enough, it was Fowler that was on the winning side: his strike in the fourth minute of added time sealing a deserved 3-1 victory for City. Andy Keogh was on the scoresheet for the third game in a row, charging down a botched clearance by the Bristol City keeper and giving Scunthorpe the lead after just 5 minutes. But struggling City grabbed an equaliser just past the hour mark to share the points. Jamie Forrester gave Bristol Rovers a first half lead with a well-taken free-kick at Cheltenham. The home side hit back and were 2-1 up with 90 seconds left, but Rovers struck twice in quick succession to secure the points. Darren Huckerby returned to the Norwich line-up after suspension and scored his 6th goal of the season to secure a share of the points at Plymouth. Finally Derek Lilley helped Morton to come back from a 0-2 deficit against promotion rivals Gretna: Lilley scored with a header just before the break, and the home side went on to equalise with just over 10 minutes to go.

January 15: With the football world waiting to see what Mike Newell has to say to back up his sweeping statement that managers and agents are passing bungs round like candy, Peter Ridsdale has revealed that he turned down a backhander in the deal that brought Robbie Keane to Elland Road. Ridsdale said: "I can confirm that an approach was made to me. I told my director colleague who was on the trip with me immediately and called our financial director in England to make him aware of the approach. I also made it clear to the agent that we do not do business like that and never would do."

January 14: Despite everything that's gone on over the last couple of years, the club has been unable to wean itself off paying large chunks of cash to agents. However the sums are down and heading still lower according to the club. Leeds still spent nigh on a quarter of the total spend across the division. CEO Shaun Harvey said: "This last close season we recruited heavily. A number of these players were recruited on free transfers under stiff competition from other clubs. Agents were used to ensure that we were able to sign players who we felt would be able to take the club forward. In addition we have recruited other players whose overall cost will be in excess of £4million, again utilising agents to ensure that these players were recruited in the most economical manner. We will continue to strive to reduce the sums paid to agents but we accept that, inevitably, further payments will be made to them in respect of the services they provide."

January 14: Although Kevin Blackwell has got the team into a winning habit over the last couple of months, it's only taken one defeat for him to reopen the Big Book of Spurious Excuses. After playing in front of a crowd only marginally bigger than the throngs that saw his players capitulate at Crewe for a cold November midweeker, Blackwell credited the home fans with the Seagulls' victory. He said: "Brighton's fans were magnificent. They were like a 12th man and they made it difficult for us. Brighton treated the match like a cup tie." Although he did admit that the failure to grab any of the points did rest with his own players: "I'm disappointed we came away with nothing but our problems were in the final third. We seemed to create the possession and had plenty of the ball, but I can't remember too many chances." Brighton boss Mark McGhee admitted that his relegation-threatened team was up for it: "There was a cheer in the dressing room because if the season ended tomorrow we would stay up."

January 13: Kevin Blackwell is hoping that history won't repeat itself at Brighton tomorrow. He said: "We went down there last season and, in my opinion, it was one of the defining moments in Leeds United's history. I remember later that night being on the phone for nearly two hours with a board member and saying, 'This is the watershed, we either wake up and smell the coffee or we are in deep, deep trouble'." Melvyn Helme had a typically uninformed go at the team after Paul Butler and Matthew Kilgallon were dismissed late on by the clueless ref Richard Beeby and Helme's comments about players and coach were less than helpful in the circumstances. But Blackwell says that things have moved on now: "People are now seeing the new Leeds United and, hopefully, we can show Brighton much more of a Leeds side because we will go back to Brighton with so many players who were not here last time. I am under no illusions as to what a difficult game it will be. There is no doubt they get fired up for Leeds United. When we went down there last season and got beat 1-0, their players were banging on the dressing-room walls - you could have scraped them off the ceiling. It happens to be a resurgent Leeds United coming to town this time and that will make it an even more attractive proposition."

January 13: Blackburn midfielder Garry Flitcroft has snubbed Kevin Blackwell's attempts to sign him in favour of a move to Bramall Lane - because he thinks they're a better bet for promotion. Flitcroft said: "It was close and I had long talks with Leeds because Sam Ellis (the assistant manager) is a good friend who put me on the road to my career when I was at Manchester City. I felt indebted to listen to what Leeds had to say. They could have come up with anything, but I still wanted to go with the lads at Sheffield United."Kevin Blackwell wished Flitcroft luck but added that his pursuit of Flitcroft didn't have negative implications for current players. "In an ideal world, it would have been great to have him in the club, but I am happy with the players I have got. I am not disappointed in anything at all because we will only do things at our pace and that are right for Leeds."

January 12: Leeds reserves were taken apart tonight as they went down 5-1 to ManU at Hyde United. Michael Ricketts, Dan Harding, Simon Walton and the back-from-injury Gylfi Einarsson all played but could do little to stem the one-way traffic. Gavin Rothery got Leeds' sole score, five minutes after half-time when the home side were already 3-0 up.

January 11: Despite the fact that injuries and suspension have made him less than a regular contributor to Kevin Blackwell's side, Gylfi Einarsson has accepted a contract extension that will keep him at Elland Road until the end of 2008. He is expected back in training and playing for the reserves by the end of the month after dislocating his should in a second string game last year.

January 11: Norwegian defender Brede Hangeland now looks set to miss out on a move to Leeds, despite being personally keen on the club. The Viking Stavanger player has been widely tipped for a move to England, but the club seem to be keen to offload him in the current transfer windown and have opened discussions with FC Copenhagen.

January 11: Andy Keogh was on target for the second game in a row, giving them a 2-1 lead over high-flying Huddersfield in last night's league match. However the home side couldn't quite manage to hold on to grab the three points, conceding a late equaliser to the Terriers' Martin McIntosh.

January 10: Liam Miller says that he didn't hesitate to opt to return to Leeds for an extended loan spell after his initial 3 months expired. Miller said: "There's a great bunch of lads at this club, and Kevin Blackwell made it clear he wanted me to stay here and I told him I would be happy to stay until the end of the season. I didn't really know if I would be going back to Manchester United until I spoke to [Fergie] and he said it would be best if I did go back and got games under my belt. I am very happy to do that. There were one or two other clubs interested but when I heard the manager was happy enough for me to come here, my mind was more or less made up." Miller said that the team was playing strong football and had bonded well: "The manager has got us playing football the right way, we pass it around and obviously you can't do that all the time but we know that ourselves."

January 10: Club captain Paul Butler says that his team-mates need to focus on the next match and not be thinking about the replay against Wigan or the game against Manchester City that could lie beyond. He said: "We've also got to look at the bigger picture and, as far as I'm concerned, that is getting a result at Brighton on Saturday. Once that game is out of the way then we can look at the replay, and you have to say that the incentive is definitely there for both us and Wigan to get through. Going to City in the fourth round would be good for both clubs, and it will add extra spice to the replay by knowing what's at stake. There would be a big crowd at the City of Manchester Stadium and it would be a good day out for the fans." But he warned against any complacency: "Wigan will fancy it too because it's a local derby and they'll want to get through. However, it's something we've got to put on the back burner. Even if we do beat Wigan we have a game against Sheffield Wednesday before the next round of the cup and that takes precedence. It's something for us to think about when the time is right."

January 09: If Leeds can get past Wigan in the FA Cup replay on Tuesday week, the reward is a trip to the City of Manchester Stadium to face Staurt Pearce's unpredictable outfit. Will Robbie Fowler play against us and continue where he left off against Scunthorpe at the weekend? Assuming we get there of course...

January 09: The FA Cup replay against Wigan will be televised by Sky - netting Leeds a six-figure sum and bringing a smile to Uncle Ken's face no doubt. Maybe now they could reconsider the ticket pricing policy - category B with a minimum of twenty quid for adults and a tenner for kids for a midweek televised cup match sounds like a recipe for a sub-15,000 crowd to me.

January 08: Noel Whelan has checked himself into rehab to treat an alcohol problem. Whelan has gone to the Sporting Chance charity, set up by former Arsenal man Tony Adams after his own struggle with the bottle. Boston's ex-Leeds striker has long been known by Leeds fans to enjoy the odd beer or two, but it seems that enjoyment has gone a bit too far. Sporting Chance chief exec Peter Kay (not that one) said: "The reason we're making this public is that Noel has nothing to hide and is facing up to his problems. It takes immense courage to say life has become a little bit tough and admit that you need some kind of support." Whelan has received support from his club chairman, who said: "Along with everyone else at the club, I am hugely supportive of Noel and we will do everything we can to help ensure he makes a full and speedy recovery. I don't know the exact details of Noel's illness but he has clearly recognised he needs to get himself sorted out and I've got enormous respect for that. There's absolutely no question that we wouldn't support him through his rehabilitation, and hopefully he can return to action fitter than ever."

January 08: Rob Hulse says that Leeds should feel pretty upbeat about yesterday's draw at the JJB. He said: "A draw is no mean feat as Wigan are doing well in the Premiership. The last time we played them at the JJB in February, we were battered 3-0. They ran rings round us. It shows how far we have come this season. We are improving as a unit, and I don't see why we can't hold our own next season should we go up."

January 07: Both Kevin Blackwell and Paul Jewell agreed that a replay was the last thing they wanted - but Rob Hulse's late equaliser ensured that was what they got. Leeds took advantage of the fact that Ryan Taylor was forced off with a broken foot with nearly 15 minutes to go - shortly after Jewell had used his third substitution. Jewell said: "Before the game I'm sure this is the result neither club would have wanted. But at the end of the day you never want to lose games, and although we didn't want to replay, we don't like being beaten either. After we scored I think we had the game won, but our injuries took their toll and Leeds threw caution to the wind. Once you go down to 10 men in a cup tie against a team who have got nothing to lose then you are always going to struggle." Jewell added: "It's sod's law that I had used all my subs by the time Ryan came off, but it's no use bleating about it now." Ken Bates will probably be most pleased about an extra game at Elland Road, but manager Blackwell said: "What we really wanted was to win the game outright. But we didn't do that and now we've got a replay, which will at least bring in a bit of money - and keep the chairman happy!" Blackwell thought the team deserved the draw: "My lads then rallied round and in the end I feel we got what we deserved."

January 07: Andy Keogh gave Scunthorpe a surprise first-half lead at Man City in today's cup tie, and the visitors held out until the start of the second half. However Robbie Fowler gave his manager a timely reminder of what he can do when fit, scoring a hat-trick in 17 second-half minutes in his first start of the season.

January 06: Kevin Blackwell seems to have finally seen the light with Matthew Kilgallon. Many were surprised when Blackwell started the season with Kilgallon behind midfielder Sean Gregan as Paul Butler's partner at the back, but now Blackwell regards him as a genuine first-choice. He said: "Matthew is starting to really show the qualities of a strong centre-half. People have questioned his aerial ability but he has been immense in that capacity for us recently. He has been solid and he keeps working harder in every game." He explained what had happened earlier in the season: "At the beginning of the season he possibly thought that when we saw Clarke Carlisle and Michael Duberry depart that he would be an automatic choice, but he didn't do enough in my eyes to get into the team and so the challenge was laid down to him and he worked really hard to get in. Now he's in the team he realises that he can't rest on his laurels because he knows Sean Gregan or whoever else can come in and take his shirt."

January 06: David O'Leary wants to keep Eirik Bakke at Villa Park - but he doesn't have any money to make the deal happen. Leeds won't want Bakke - and his wages - to return to Elland Road at the moment, so O'Leary has a chance of making the deal happen but he'll probably need to do more than offer aged out-of-favour left-back Ulises de la Cruz in exchange.

January 06: Reports today suggested that Joel Griffiths - a 26-year-old Aussie midfielder currently with Neuchatel Xamax - has signed for Leeds. Griffiths has had a trial at Hearts and also been interesting Leicester's Craig Levein. However later reports had Kevin Blackwell denying all knowledge of the signing.

January 06: Liam Miller has seen the light and opted to return to Elland Road for the remainder of the season. The ManU player returned to Old Trafford at the end of his loan spell and has chosen to return to regular first-team football at Elland Road rather than take up a benchwarming/fill-in place for a struggling Premiership side.

January 05: Liam Miller has gone back to Old Trafford after his loan spell expired - and although Kevin Blackwell wants him back it's understood that interest from other Premier League clubs might blow this chance away. Blackwell said: "It's a case of whatever will be will be with Liam. We've done everything we can. We gave him first team football and put him in the shop window so he's had the opportunity. If there is a Premier League chance now then that will cause a problem, but there's not much else we can do. He's got to weigh up the pros and cons now and decide what's best." Spot on - and surely a return to Elland Road will be better from ManU's point of view: he's more or less guaranteed to start every game, and will be playing for a winning, competitive side rather than warming the bench for a team wallowing in the middle of the table or struggling to avoid the drop.

January 05: Kevin Blackwell says he won't be rushed into any panic buys now that the transfer window has opened. And although he's not denying that he's taking an active interest in a few players, he said that he was keeping it all under his hat for now: "At the moment there's no point confirming or denying an interest in any player we are linked with - let's just keep people guessing. We are being linked with a lot of players because everyone knows I am out to get a right sided player. The fact we haven't had Steve Stone has affected my decisions and certain styles I might want to play in games because of the lack of an out and out right winger. If I can find one that fits the bill I am sure the Chairman will help me bring him into the football club." Although the team are on a good run, Blackwell knows that it's important to be able to add depth and a bit of variety at this stage of the season with a tough run-in approaching: "Every team is always looking to improve the squad and we are no different. We did a big job 18 months ago in clearing out all the players and bringing in new players and then did another big time around March last year, another in the summer when we brought nine in and now it's about looking at the single factors that will make a difference for the club. If we stand still we will go backwards."

January 05: The financial situation at Elland Road returned to the sports pages of a couple of nationals today in the wake of the statement issued yesterday clearing Ridsdale and his colleagues of any "intentional" wrongdoing. Today's stories point to the way that Krasner and co stretched the truth when they claimed to have cleared the club's debts and sorted out the bondholders: MetLife and Teachers will be paid a seven-figure sum next month dependent on the club's turnover, and will continue until 2009 whether or not we get promoted. If we do go up, a further five million quid goes out the door to these companies, and the turnover-related payments will also be uprated. So if Krasner and co didn't actually clear the debts when they sold off all of our assets at a fraction of book value, what did they actually do? Of course there's now almost no hope of finding out following the takeover by Ken Bates (or to be more exact, some offshore trust who have installed him as chairman and who he may or may not have provided the funding to): the club is private and no detailed accounts will appear in public.

January 04: Peter Ridsdale and other members of the old board have been cleared of any wrongdoing in the financial meltdown of the club. To the surprise of thousands of fans and shareholders, an inquiry instituted by the administrators could not find sufficient evidence to disqualify him and the other members of the board who came up with a reckless and irrational business plan that left shareholders with nothing and nearly left the fans without a club. In other news, the Government Insolvency Service is urgently seeking accountants, people who can add up and people who are able to see the bleeding obvious when it's staring them in the face.

January 03: Ian Morris will remain at Blackpool until the end of the season. The young striker has made 11 appearances so far in his loan spell and has two goals to his name - both in the 5-2 win over Scunthorpe. Meanwhile Cardiff boss Dave Jones says that he expects Michael Ricketts to return to Leeds since Cardiff cannot afford his wages. He said: "I would like to keep him, but it's complicated. Currently we only pay a certain amount of his wages and if Leeds want the full whack, we can't do it. I would like to keep every player I've got and add to them, but I'm not stupid enough to think that is possible. For me to bring players in, I will probably have to let a few players go first."

January 03: Kevin Blackwell says that he had "a little chat" with Eddie Lewis at half-time last night, and that was key to the team's win over Plymouth. It was pretty clear that he wasn't totally happy with Lewis's tactics in the first period, and Blackwell said: "We had a little chat at half-time. I wanted him to be more aggressive going forward, taking people on and delivering crosses - and he produced exactly what I asked." The Leeds boss said the game had more or less gone to plan: "We knew the first half hour would be tight but after that we started to assert ourselves. You could see we started to get a head of steam up in the first half, we had one or two chances. To come here and quieten the crowd was the first thing I wanted to do - and I thought we did that very professionally." Plymouth manager Tony Pulis conceded that the better side had taken the points: "Once they got their goal, their better players stepped up and showed their class. In the first half we did fine - it was a competitive game without a cutting edge. In the second half once they got the goal we were always chasing the game."

January 03: Time to get the votes in for the December Player of the Month. A couple of slips early on but a great way to end the year with four wins on the bounce.

January 03: Eirik Bakke says that he's keen to remain at Villa Park - but only if the deal leads to a permanent move. Bakke accepts that a transfer in January might not be possible, but he will only sign a loan extension if there's a full move lined up for the summer. He said: "[With] a new environment and a fitness coach I have had before at Leeds, I haven't felt more fit in many years and the form gets better every match." But he added: "It's two hours from Leeds to Birmingham, at least four days a week, I sit more than four hours in the car since my family live in Leeds. I don't want to do that any more."

January 02: Kevin Blackwell says that he won't let Leeds' current run of good form go to his head. He said: "If we can just keep doing what we're doing then you never know, but all we can do is take it one game at a time. Anything is possible, you have to believe that and you have to have confidence in what you are doing." Speaking ahead of the Plymouth match, he said: "We've worked hard over Christmas on how the opposition will shape up and where the danger is and that's what we'll keep doing."

January 01: Dan Harding doesn't look likely to recover from injury before tomorrow's game at Plymouth, so Stephen Crainey should continue at left back. However Kevin Blackwell is thought to be considering a rotation up front, starting with David Healy and Rob Hulse after the pair came off the bench against Hull yesterday. David Norris is suspended for the home side, but Paul Connolly is back from his ban.

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