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It's oh so quiet - Bucky
If I may steal a few words from that pop luminary Bjork "It's oh so quiet".
Everyone seems to have forgotten that we have little over two weeks to find a buyer for our club signed, sealed and delivered.
Very disconcerting indeed. It's not like buying a bunch of bananas - there' s a hell of a lot to get through. I can only hope that the quietness is down to the fact that the powers that be are in serious negotiation, hopefully with Roman Abramovich's wealthier brother!
Despite the horrors that have surrounded our club over the past 18 months, I still think it could be one hell of a going concern if placed in the right hands.
What have all these cities got in common - Liverpool, Glasgow, Manchester, Bristol, Newcastle (sort of!), Sheffield, London, Birmingham, Bristol?
Easy isn't it? All major cities in the UK, all supporting two or more football teams. Comfortably. With the exception of Bristol, they are all major clubs with large fan bases.
Take it European - Paris, Munich, Barcelona, Madrid, Amsterdam, Prague, Moscow, Milan, Zurich, Berlin, Rome, Lisbon, Turin - I could go on!
Even worldwide the same pattern emerges, and in other major sports too.
The fact is Leeds is now recognised by many - maybe even most - as the UK's second city.
Add to this our catchment area. Nothing to the immediate North. Nothing to the North East until Middlesbrough. Nothing to the East or South East. Nothing to the South until Sheffield. Nothing to the West until we get over the Pennines. That is a huge area with insignificant clubs where we could exercise our might.
So we are arguably the second city, we have a huge catchment area and only one team to support. By rights, we should be pulling in 70,000 each game. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that, with the right management, we could be the biggest club in Europe.
However, I should sound a note of caution. The Leeds public have always seemed wary of football. Maybe we are a Rugby League city after all. Those with rose tinted spectacles will recall the great Revie team playing in front of sell out crowds each home game. The facts are quite different. Even this side - possibly the best club side this country has ever seen - was regularly frustrated by poor attendances. Take the Championship season of 68-69. The highest league crowd was over 48,000. But the lowest was marginally over 24,000! Surprisingly, the team struggled to attract spectators to the European ties.
Don't get me wrong - I can't stand the Johnny come latelies but simple economics dictate we need them, as well as the prawn sandwich brigade, to survive.
A lot of the dead wood has now floated down river to Barnsley. We all felt hard done to by Ridsdale - myself especially.
If I could ask Jabba to kindly create a hyperlink to my report of when I met Ridsdale almost a year ago, you will see I was very fair to the man. Very fair indeed. Oh how stupid a man can be. I think I would give Hannibal Lecter the benefit of the doubt, until he ate me with a nice bottle of Chianti and some fava beans....
To say all in that room were manipulated would be a vast understatement. The two Davids - Spencer and Walker were a case in point. Spencer pontificated all through the meeting about how things were going to be handled. Ridsdale smugly went along with this when he surely knew Spencer was getting the boot only the following day! Walker promised us faithfully a full transcript of the meeting. I am still waiting. I would urge Mark Monk of To Ell and Back to release his transcript of the meeting in full. There are things in there we promised not to divulge but, hey, promises made to us were broken so why shouldn't it be released? Of course, Walker is now also firmly in the past, as well as Ridsdale.
We were an unwitting part of an elaborate scam to "prove" to the press that the board were "listening" to the fans. Result of the meeting? Nothing. I take back publicly all my fair and balanced comments on Ridsdale.
Fortunately, our club now seems to be under the control of someone who knows what he is doing and, more importantly, without emotional attachment. He is a hardened businessman.
I like what Trevor Birch says. He doesn't leave grey areas and says it like he sees it. At this moment in time, I am under no illusions - we need to find a buyer before January 19th, or it's administration no players will be sold unless they put in a transfer request.
That will do for me. I know exactly what is going on.
Birch's track record cannot be ignored. It was he who attracted Abramovich away from a host of other clubs, Manchester United included, and "sold" him Chelsea, even with Ken Bates in tow! Quite a feat! Birch then did the deals to bring in some of the biggest players in the world.....and Joe Cole.
I hope I never meet Birch. My impressions of Ridsdale were that he was a slimeball (even when he was singing "Leeds, Leeds, Leeds" to the fans all over Europe). When I met him, I softened a little. Now I hate him! Now I KNOW he's a slimeball!
At this moment in time, I'm really impressed by Trevor Birch. I hope he gives me no cause to change this.
As for the mad albino professor - I never was sure about this one. Where the hell did he come from? He said he didn't want to court the press like Ridsdale, but appeared in the tabloids every day nonetheless! Now I am doubly unsure. He's resigned from the board and sold some shares. What is he planning exactly? He may prove us all wrong and come in fronting up a consortium headed by Xu Ming. At least I'm assuming it's Xu Ming. Then we could be zooming.
What about Russell Crowe? He's supposed to be a big fan, and even more so now he's married a Yorkshire lass. Could he not team up with Headingley Working Men's Club member Liv Tyler and a few other Hollywood legends to bail us out?! Hopefully he looks at this web site. If you do, Mr Crowe, you will probably have £80m down the back of your settee. Can we have it please? I'm also available for filming if you ever do Gladiator 2.....
Enough about what's going down off the pitch (or rather not going down as the case may be). What about on it?
The sacking of Peter Reid left me with the same mixed feelings that O'Leary's and Venables' departures did.
Sentiment said that Reid was busting a gut to get it right and he meant every word he said. I liked him for that. However, my head said he was taking us down. The glut of non English speaking loan signings proved a mistake. And as for Roque Junior??! I am convinced that the REAL Roque Junior is locked up, bound and gagged, somewhere in a Milan broom cupboard. The man we have is Rogue Junior from Cleckheaton.
You could argue that you don't need to be a good defender to win the World Cup with Brazil. Fair comment - they are always on the attack! However, you do need to be a very good defender to play for, and to win the Champions League with, AC Milan!
But this fella is terrible. Ungainly, slow and, to be frank, not up to the job. I was surprised an England full back was sacrificed to bring him in.
Of course, it must be said that Pennant is an exception to this rule. He has been outstanding and will be even better if we give him the bloody ball! I sincerely hope we can find a way of keeping him as he seems to have really taken to Leeds and you can see he is up for the battle, unlike the others.
To be fair, I would also like to see Salomon Olembe given a run at left back. I don't go mental at Ian Harte like some do. He's been a good servant. He is also a good player. He simply lacks pace and, because of this gets found out far too often. His uncle, on the other side, still has a reasonable amount of pace (although nowhere near the heady days when he and Dorigo were bombing down the flanks) but just can't pass the ball!
Moral of the story - I like Kelly and Harte. I like their loyalty. I just think that Mills and Olembe would serve us better at this moment in time.
Having said all that, I think that Eddie has got it about right. When I got home, very drunk, on Christmas Eve night I couldn't sleep properly, excited at Santa's imminent arrival. I put the AC Milan game on the video, the one from the San Siro where Dom Matteo scored a, erm, great goal (this is a family site!!)
I can't remember the team, but I was astounded at how many players started that game (and ultimately secured an astounding result) who are still at Elland Road. I fell asleep after about thirty seconds but I am sure that Eddie must have watched that same tape and taken some inspiration for his team selections.
In his first game against Bolton, we didn't do anything particularly wrong apart from a mad two minutes against a team who went on to beat Chelsea on their own patch.
The other results have been unspectacular. But unspectacular beats out of sight 4-0 and 6-1 reversals.
The display against Charlton (watched live by me outside a bar in 80 degree heat...ahh memories) was very impressive. Charlton are no mugs at all - look at their own drubbing of Crazy Claudio's troops. The win against Fulham was equally impressive - a real desire and fire in the belly was displayed.
The Manchester City away game heralded an acceptable result but a shoddy display. I don't know if it was down to Blackwell's influence but we sat so deep it's incredible the defence weren't in row A watching the game. I would expect an Eddie Gray team, especially one with two wingers, to bomb forward. Manchester City are more than capable going forward but shocking at the back. So surely the tactic, home OR away, is to get at them? Not let them come on to you. Or am I just naive?
The Villa game was also a display in over-caution and, whilst an unbeaten run is nice, I'd rather take a win and a defeat than two draws!
I think most Leeds fans were looking at where two wins against Villa and Wolves would take us in the league, so one point from both games is disappointing, especially taking into account the very small gap between fourth place and the relegation zone.
It is that self same gap that provides some cautious optimism. A run of results can see us burst into the top half, but will it come? A buyer round about now with transfer funds would be very nice indeed. A centre half (although I quite like the look of Kilgallon and it pains me to say that Duberry, dubbed by myself as "the worst Leeds player since Carlton Palmer" has done very well recently) and creative midfielder would top my list.
I hope I am very wrong and a miracle can be produced, but I think we are looking almost certainly at the FA Cup exit door - another income stream coming to an abrupt end.
A friend of mine still swears we are going to make the UEFA cup next season but I think I echo most Leeds fans when I say that my hopes for 2004 are a buyer with serious funds and a serious desire to return us to the top of the pile and simply survival and foundations to build next season.
Oh! And a coaching badge for King Eddie!