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Here's a collection of some of your thoughts and comments you've sent me in response to the current situation at Elland Road.
On the way forward for the club:
'The Third Way' alternative is this: For Akers-type venture capital to buy out the PLC, take us out of the stock market, or at best put us on the AIM, fatten us up again, and then sell on, only this time to football people who know also how to run our type of business: we presently have an unstable combination of a 'fan' as chief executive, who is controlled by a board, who don't know how to run a business of this scale - which lacks the corporate infrastructure of Asda and Microsoft, hence, their only course of action is to asset strip (sell Woodie and whoever) to boost the stock to a level till they can get out, reputations, so the slogans for the immediate future should be 'Down with Leighton et al; down with the PLC; Venables (who is both a dilettante and untrustworthy) out', preserving Ridsdale - who will want ot redeeem himself, and encourage Akkers or whoever back, who should gradually be persuaded to turn us into a membership club (with an ownership status that enables us to raise capital on the money markets - like housing associations), their money meanwhile stabilising the situation, savign us from further humiliation and defeat, following the otherwise inevitable exit of Kewell, Smith, Robinson and the unfairly maligned Harte - to name our four class players (Viduka is a genius and doesn't count).
The decision to sell Woodie is characteristic of the short-termism of UK finance capital (remember UK manufacturing?). Ridsdale has put his personal interests - having a City of London reputation - before the interests of the team, the fans and everyone whose heart is with Leeds FC. To a City man, footballers are interchangeable and separate commodities; we know better - the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. It was always going to be crucial to our success to keep the homegrown class of '97 together (all the imports were expendable); now they have been separated, I find it difficult to see what incentive there is for Smith, Robinson and Kewell to stay. Perhaps Venables is out only hope. Is he up to it ? Is he sufficiently one of us ? Obviously, Ridsdale must be treated with the utmost contempt and scorn: he understands the football game, and he knew what was at stake with Woodie, but he has put his own career first. He must be shown no mercy. Venables, for the moment, must be given our wholehearted support. Not because we think he is the best man for the job, but because, while he is here, there is a chance Smith, Kewell and Robinson will stay.
On the people:
1. Ridsdale, it seems, is to be quietly shunted upstairs, where he should have been all along. Having a 'fan' as chief exec.has proved to be fatal. The 'fans' really need to look at their own naivety for allowing themselves to taken in by a second-rate, publicity-seeking ex-personnel manager. If we are to be a PLC (and I am not at all sure this is the right ownership model for us), then it should be run by professionals, not amateurs.
2. Venables, in my view, has to take some responsibility for what is happening. I have suggested elsewhere that his football philosophy, if not outdated, can only work in exceptional circumstances, those of a national team (where not all games need to be treated as priorities). He is, in any case, a notorious fiddler, with a restless, if undoubted, intelligence, as his various 'formations' at Leeds have shown. Ultimately, he is a football dilettante. Even now Venables is not making best use of our resources - Kewell should be on the left (though I agree that ideally he plays just behind the lead striker), allowing us to make full use of Smith. Duberry, in my view, is a wasted asset, and should be given a proper run in the defence.
3. Nevertheless Venables should be retained, since the players like him, until summer, and then replaced with a younger, more intense, and driving individual, preferably, if he can be persuaded, O'Neill, or even a chastened O'Leary.
And on our manager in particular, after Alan Sugar's comments:
Sugar may be correct re.Venables.
Against Sugar are two things: (a) the squad before Xmas was unsettled by uncertainty about who was coming and going and, while Venables did 'fiddle' instead of maximising existing capabilities and squad strengths, this is a mitigating factor; (b) Leeds is Venables last chance to prove that he can manage a good club side in the English League and, whatever excuses Ridsale has given him to maneouvre for a lucrative sacking, if he walks away Venables will know deep down that he has failed. I don't think he could easily live with that.
Venables knows that he has some responsibility - and was honest enough to say so in November (I think) - for our abysmal performances pre-Xmas, and his reputation does matter to him. My sense is that he might well want to see this through to the end, i.e. beyond the summer,provided he gets some reassurances re. money for players - which they may not want to give him (I'm not sure I would judging by Barmby!).
Venables trump card, provided all goes reasonably well from here to the summer, is that his going in the summer would further unsettle the players. My own view is that I would pay off Venables any day if we could get O'Neil and, probably, only O'Neil. Who wouldn't ?
We are in a difficult position.
My name is Ian Lister. I was born and brought up in Leeds, started watching in 1958 aged 7 and am still doing so...you could say I've the experience to have a view on recent days. The fact that I now live in County Durham and teach a load of Newcastle fans makes me even more qualified, as I have to fight the corner on a daily basis against a bunch of rabid lunatics - worse than Man Utd fans.
I believe that we are going through the darkest days during the whole of my years of support, including div 2. Then we were just a poor football team...every club goes through that. But now, we're the laughing stock of the press, the rest of the football world, and even people who aren't interested. The hatred amongst the media generated years ago during the Revie era, when even the respect was gruding, has finally found its true role, that of vilifying and dismantling everything we hold dear - did you read yesterday how Kewell, Smith and Robinson will definitely leave in the Summer? The death of LUFC is what these people are after, and Ridsdale's over enthusiastic bungling, blinded by the Irish blarney of O'Leary who, ultimately, couldn't handle the job when it started to get difficult has handed them the club's head on a plate.
There's only one answer, and that is that we, the supporters, have to get behind the team and manager like never before and show the board that we are bigger than they are, the media that we are proud of our club and the players that they are going to succeed because we demand the loyalty that we have shown all these years.
Marching On Together has never been more important than it is today.
Let's get things into perspective shall we?
I am absolutely gutted by the events of last week and like many of you, have lost many hours of sleep thinking of how the hell we have got ourselves in this situation. After calming down somewhat over the weekend I am now trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Firstly what good is throwing a season ticket away going to do anyone? Answers on a postcard please.
Secondly if you don't want to renew your season ticket next season that is obviously down to personal choice. However we are all Leeds supporters and your support shouldn't be contingent on success. Of course it would be lovely if we could be an Arsenal or a Manchester Utd be we aren't and probably never will be.
Thirdly Ridsdale is a Leeds fan. Like it or not he is as big a supporter as you or me and we have to face it. Problem is, he has made some huge mistakes and handled the PR like an amateur (how the hell Walker is still in a job I don't know). I personally believe he should do the decent thing and resign but let's get off his back because he is probably hurting a lot more than you and me.
There also should be a statement from the board that Woodgate is the last big name sale for some considerable time.
If we have got money in the bank then this time let's not be silly with it. Finally my last point on the sale of Woody and Robbie. They have gone. Let's get on with it. Smithy, Harry and Robbo are far more important.
The squad we have now is still considerably better than most of the premier league, of course we need to sort our midfield out but we can still compete at a good level. Whether Terry Venables can help us do that i am not so sure.
Our youngsters coming through the academy are the best set since kewel and the boys so the future is rosy. Let's get this season out of the way, re group and support the lads next year through thick and thin.