Cellino Content to Delay Leeds Promotion Charge Until 2016b – by Rob Atkinson

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Leeds owner Cellino, racking his brains

Leeds United owner and all-round-the-bend football nutter Massimo Cellino has confirmed he is content to put back his original target of Premier League football by at least one year, predicting that – despite the evident failure to meet his original target of 2016 – promotion can be achieved by 2016b.

The Italian – so famous for being “one topping short of a pizza” that it’s rumoured he has settled on Barking as his London residence of choice – is a controversial figure for United fans, and has sharply divided opinion among a support whose fanaticism and loyalty are legendary in the game. His crazy insistence on his superstitious whims being given free rein throughout the football club – the programme for our 17th home league game against Nottingham Forest later today will be numbered 16b – is just one manifestation of an owner who puts his own ego first and foremost. It’s stupid and it’s embarrassing but, because Massimo wants it that way, that’s the way it shall be – while the rest of football looks on and laughs at us.

The schism between pro-Cellino supporters and those who want rid of the so-called King of Corn appears to be based broadly upon intellect, or the lack thereof. The more gullible, hard-of-thinking and easily-deluded tend towards a fierce but irrational devotion to Cellino, whereas those fans capable of thinking for themselves (or indeed at all) are largely anti. The Cellino supporters habitually use phrases such as “I would never of thought Evans would be a good manger but to all intensive purposes he’s defiantly doing a job”, whereas those opposed to the Italian are generally able to use their own native language to better effect.

Faced with this bafflingly obdurate (and frequently hostile/aggressive) ignorance, the more rational and thoughtful Leeds fan will doubtless wonder gloomily how Galileo Galilei must have felt when persecuted by those who still believed, against all scientific evidence, that the Earth was the centre of creation. Sadly, we are currently stuck with an owner who seems to hold much the same view about himself – and he’s supported by an uncritical minority who simply can’t seem to see or understand how ridiculous the situation has become.

This grey matter divide in the Whites support is clearly discernible in various Facebook groups, where feelings run high when the less capable “Cellino in” brigade feel themselves out-thought and out-manoeuvred – then resorting to profanity and censorship as their most effective means of coping. In the interests of clarity and transparency, Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything frankly acknowledges that it was initially a vocal supporter of Cellino, but thankfully reason and common-sense prevailed. This blog believes that any rational Leeds United fan will weigh-up the evidence, as we have done, and conclude that the Italian is an overwhelmingly negative factor in the club’s quest even to regain a measure of credibility, let alone return to the top-flight. In this, we are supported by the forthright views of ex-United star and erudite football legend Johnny Giles, who believes Leeds will never prosper under such maverick and irrational control.

We’re right with our former midfield maestro – the best manager United never had, let it be remembered – in maintaining that Leeds must be rid of Cellino if we are to have any real chance of once again becoming a proper football club. If the current situation persists, it’ll be closer to 2116b than 2016b before we once again witness top-level football at Elland Road, which is an almost laughably tragic state of affairs.

Those who persist in their ill-conceived support for a man in Cellino, who has made a laughing stock of a once-great club, are now merely part of the problem. It is down to those of us who can see how bad things really are to leave il Duce in no doubt that he’s not required around LS11 any more. Not by anyone with a proper brain in their head, anyway.

 

More Details of That Elland Road Flypast Revealed   –   by Rob Atkinson

 
More details are now available of the proposed “fly past” apparently arranged by a small group of around 30,000 anti-Cellino Leeds United fans for the home fixture against Nottingham Forest this coming weekend.

It would appear, from the illustrative picture that we have been sent, that the protest will use an aircraft the livery of which is calculated to get under il Duce‘s skin. Massimo Cellino is notoriously superstitious, with a particular aversion for the colour purple, the number 17 and adequate investment into the football clubs unfortunate enough to come under his ownership. These are details that have not escaped protest organisers, who have settled on the design pictured. The basic purple colour and the number 17 will be clearly visible from Elland Road, although Cellino himself is unlikely to be present. 

A separate group of up to a dozen Leeds fans have voiced their objections to the planned protest, saying that it is “silly” and the work of “silly people who are too silly to see how Cellino has saved Leeds United nearly as often as Ken Bates did”. To show their opposition to the protest flypast, these pro-Cellino fans will wear specially made blinkers featuring the Italian flag. Pointy hats with a capital D will also figure. “The D stands for Duce”, said a pro-Cellino spokesman, proudly. “Or at least it was something like that…”

 

A pro-Cellino supporter, yesterday

One-time ‘world’s best’ and latterday laughing-stock Leeds United (aged 97) has had enough – and wishes to become a football club again. 

Leeds United’s Deadline Day Advice to Their Fans   –   by Rob Atkinson

 
Following on from last year’s ill-conceived advice not to go to bed yet, Leeds United are making it clear nice and early that it’s OK for sleepy fans to head up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire, as absolutely nothing of note is likely to happen at Elland Road in terms of slumber-depriving incoming transfer activity. Our source at Leeds has confirmed that “Is too late to do anything, not even in your dreams, my friend”.

Leeds fans are advised to:

  • Make a nice cup of cocoa
  • Turn Sky’s Deadline Day programme OFF
  • Put some nice clean ‘jamas on
  • Book tickets for the next home game
  • Save up for your pie tax
  • Stay off Twitter
  • Go to bed
  • Sweet dreams of the Emergency Loan window

A party to be held at the Elland Road banqueting suite from 11pm until the wee small hours is billed as the “We Got Away With It AGAIN, You Mugs” Party 2016. Ordinary fans are not invited, as they’ll all be fast asleep.

Massimo Cellino is a liar and a humbug.

Leeds United In Massive Deadline Day Transfer Coup   –   by Rob Atkinson

leeds united 1974-75 season

The legends of Leeds United – now being betrayed

Following weeks of transfer speculation, with every conceivable name bandied about in terms of transfer activity both in and out of the club, Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything can reveal the identity of the player involved in the Whites’ biggest coup of the transfer window.

The man concerned is Lewis Cook, United’s foremost young talent, who has revealed in the past few days that he will “still be at the club next week”. And this, more than any possible piece of transfer business on the last day of yet another frustrating window of recruitment opportunity, will represent Leeds’ major achievement in terms of their under-equipped squad.

Cook could easily have been sold to any one of several covetous Premier League clubs, for very good money indeed. The apparent fact that he will be staying at Elland Road, there to participate fully in the remainder of yet another season of dire and hopeless mediocrity, will represent the most positive possible outcome for a football giant that is shrinking by the year. And the fact that Leeds themselves seem ready to regard the retention of young talent as the high water mark of their transfer market ambition is a savage indictment of the depths to which the club has now sunk. 

Meanwhile, clubs like Middlesbrough, Derby County and even Bristol City have shown willing to consider the level of investment needed to rise in this dog-eat-dog league. Leeds United, one-time Kings of English Football, show no such resolve. The club as it’s currently run is a betrayal of the golden tradition forged in the sixties and seventies, with a brief revival in the nineties. There is a complacent, decadent air about Cellino‘s Leeds, and nothing short of a major shake-up from the top down seems likely to change that sad situation anytime soon.

But, cheer up – Lewis Cook, subject to any tragic last-minute about-turn, will see out this latest deadline day as a Leeds player, so we will have him to cheer on in the white shirt, perhaps for another season or so. Until he realises, as the likes of Sam Byram have before him, that if his ambition is to match his talent, he will have to seek the fulfilment of both elsewhere. 

Happy deadline day. Maybe there will be a loan or two to mollify us after all the speculation and all the hollow promises. And, let’s not forget, we took over 6,000 to the Macron.

Isn’t life grand?

If Leeds Secure Limbombe and Campbell, Season is Still Alive – by Rob Atkinson

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Fraizer Campbell – loan target for United?

Opinions vary as to exactly what kind of surgery is needed on this Leeds United squad. Football managers, pundits and supporters will always differ on such thorny issues; it’s debates like these which add a lot of interest to football, outside of the actual 90 or so minutes of play. On behalf of Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything, and with only hours of the transfer window remaining, all I can do is offer my own humble take on the matter.

By common consent, someone is needed up front to share the goal-scoring burden with the likes of Wood, Doukara and Antenucci. The most likely candidate for this role could be Fraizer Campbell, a striker who has already been around a bit at the age of 28, and whose star has fallen somewhat since a highly promising start to his career.  That decline, though, has largely coincided with Campbell’s efforts to perform in the Premier League – his displays at Championship level have been much more fruitful, with a goals return bordering on the prolific. He’s also the kind of sinuous player who could complement the more agricultural approach of Wood, for instance. He would certainly be an asset up front for Leeds, adding something we just don’t have to our current options. It’s rumoured that Leeds have already approached his club, Crystal Palace with a loan deal for Campbell the objective.

While many feel that there are also problems in central defence as well as a vacancy for a “number 10” type of creative attacker, I would say that a higher priority is to provide a more reliable winger to balance out the contribution of Stuart Dallas. Young Belgian wide man Anthony Limbombe of NEC in the Dutch Eredivisie was a United target in the summer, and is now significantly nearer the end of his deal at NEC – and unsettled to boot. A move for this lad could paper over the cracks of Jordan Boutaka‘s less than successful spell at Elland Road; Limbombe’s pedigree appears, on the face of it, to be higher-class.

The Leeds defence will steady, I feel, once Sol Bamba shakes off his current poor form – and with the added protection now offered by the likes of Toumani Diagouraga in front of the back line. With the addition of Campbell and/or Limbombe, the attacking options should allow for enough juggling to allow for added creativity and a better scoring record over the remainder of the season.

Failing these moves, or some equivalent transfer activity – and our continued involvement in the FA Cup notwithstanding – I feel this season will taper off into another disappointingly mediocre campaign. But the addition of new blood could spark a late-season surge that might at least keep things interesting.

As ever, I would welcome the views of readers on a matter where any fan will have a heartfelt opinion.

Latest Cellino Lie Could Signal Late Arrivals for Leeds United   –   by Rob Atkinson

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These are confusing times, even for supporters of such a very baffling football club as Leeds United. In the last few days, the owner and the manager have been singing from radically different hymn sheets, giving your average fan in the street very little chance of divining just what the hell is going on as regards squad strengthening during this transfer window.

If this is just another attempt on the part of the club to “manage fans’ expectations”, it would be disappointing – but hardly surprising. Over the past few years, the standard modus operandi for Yorkshire‘s top club has been to encourage a froth of speculation at these troublesome times of the year, continually talking up the chances of, at first, “getting our business done early” – and then, as the days pass with very little of note happening, turning to coy references to the goodies we might expect to snap up in the emergency loans market, once that bothersome window finally slams shut (sighs of relief from the purse-string holders at Elland Road).

This time around, the story has been quite familiar – names are dropped for speculation purposes and, one by one, these names find comfortable billets at other club. Some incoming business is completed (loan for a winger, loan extension for a midfield enforcer – and even a permanent deal for the boy Dave from Brentford FC), all more than offset by the departure of one of our own (Sam Byram to Eastenders) – said departure having been made inevitable by an insulting contract renewal offer for a young man of high potential who will inevitably play for England.

The new and somewhat disturbing ingredient in this January’s melange of diversion and deception is the sharp variance in the public statements of owner and manager. In the past few days, we’ve had excited positivity from Steve Evans, talk of “going in heavy” for targets unspecified, assurances that no-one is anywhere near the mark speculation-wise – all generally exciting stuff.

Il Duce Cellino, on the other hand, has come out and said that it’s now “unlikely” Leeds will be making any further signings. This is despite another worrying injury to Chris Wood, casting doubt over our already dubious striking options, and well-documented areas of concern in the squad, notably central defenders and attacking midfielders. The thing is that Cellino said something similarly negative just before Leeds moved for Toumani Diagouraga. So who do you believe?

The lesson of recent history is that the answer to that question is “not Cellino”, given his track record for broken promises and a generally dodgy relationship with the truth. This season alone, we’ve heard that he’s selling up and shipping out – a promise that has so far, sadly, failed to come to fruition – although there are fresh rumours of Mr. Parkin circling like a shark around an illegally-imported yacht. The overall effect is that, if you adopt a standard approach of disregarding or disbelieving il Presidente‘s public utterances, you’ll probably end up nearer to the truth than if you naively give him the benefit of any remaining doubt.

This blog, then, having listened to and digested both versions of the current Leeds United stance, will choose to take the glass-half-full approach, eagerly anticipating at least one further arrival before February dawns to banish the last realistic bit of excitement in yet another dreadfully frustrating, disappointing and bleak season (remember, Massimo promised “beautiful football and a season to remember). It’s all been dreadfully forgettable, yet again – another reminder that, if Cellino tells you it’s sunny, you only need to look out of the window to see the rain lashing down like stair-rods.

But the bottom line here is that Leeds United do need to add to the squad in this window – and not, as the popular fiction has gone, to keep alive faint hopes of participation in the play-offs. The reality is that we have lost a top performer in Byram, and the squad as it stands cannot absolutely guarantee safety from relegation, much less any starry-eyed notions of back-door promotion. Last season, we flirted with demotion – and the same uncomfortable scenario could still revisit us, make no mistake. There’s absolutely no point in being complacent on that score.

Besides which, the fans deserve to see better players – and better football. It’s been far too many years of mediocrity now and it’s way overdue that things started to improve around LS11. For this reason above all, and bearing in mind those nagging doubts over Championship security, let’s all hope that Mr. Evans is the one speaking the truth here – and that our less-than-entirely-believable owner is yet again indulging his passion for telling porkies.

The next four days will leave us all that bit more well-informed as to exactly who is on the up and up at Elland Road.

Sky & FL Confirm Today’s Leeds v Bristol City Match Switched to Monday   –   by Rob Atkinson

The Football League Panel, yesterday

The Football League and Sky TV board members – definitely not muppets

The Leeds United home game against Bristol City has been put back to Monday evening for live coverage, a joint statement by Sky TV and the Football League has confirmed. Both bodies have expressed regret at the inconvenience to supporters of the two clubs, and have undertaken to provide at least 24 hours notice in future, except when their own interests dictate otherwise. 

Leeds United FC has reacted angrily to the news, threatening to refuse entry to the Sky personnel on Monday, as well as pursuing compensation for 20,000 heated pies that will now have to go to landfill. “Is not good enough,” stated a senior Elland Road figure, adding somewhat confusingly, “League and Sky, they try to take the peace.”

Bristol City are thought to be considering a formal protest on behalf of their travelling fans, whose char-a-banc had reached the industrial wastelands of South Yorkshire before hearing of the postponement. Sky and the League have remained tight-lipped in the face of resistance to their scheduling plans. “The match will take place on Monday as arranged a full two hours ago,” said a spokesman through tight lips, “We simply can’t have peripheral bodies like clubs and fans dictating to us on fixture matters.”

Newly engaged Rupert Murdoch is 153. 

Leeds Fans’ Forum WACCOE Sets Admirable New Record – by Rob Atkinson

 

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The Leeds United chat forum WACCOE, once famous for its newsworthiness and readability, has lately claimed a notable record in terms of its output over the past few years – during which time it has sadly been run by a clique of fervent attention-seekers and would-be comedians.

In this recent regrettable phase of its history, the once respected fans’ resource has been most notable for the tendency of amateur comics to hijack any thread, no matter how serious a subject was being presented for discussion. Invariably, any topic has lasted no more than the initial posting and maybe one relevant reply, before one of an alarming number of needy “look at me, aren’t I clever” types has ended any chance of serious debate by introducing their own brand of puerile schoolboy humour. Some threads have then gone on to be several hundred pages long, with the content consisting entirely of successive simpletons, each trying to out-do the previous poster for laboured and predictable “comedy”, in the interests of being thought “cool”.

What has become famous as “The WACCOE Syndrome” is well-recognised as an inevitable consequence when a number of tragically inadequate web users, united by a common obsession, are all trying too hard to seek peer approval, a goal they deem to have been met if they can obtain “lols” or other primitive expressions of approbation from similarly motivated members of an established clique. It’s not an uncommon manifestation of needy behaviour across the entire spectrum of the Internet; but the WACCOE Syndrome sobriquet has stuck due to the extraordinary incidence of this particular human weakness on this particular forum. It is thought that only stamp-collecting groups, as well as fourteen or so Web pages dedicated to supporting man united, come anywhere near WACCOE for the tendency to seek attention and approval to quite such a disturbing degree.

However, during the past week, one item on WACCOE has managed to amass a record three responses of impeccable seriousness and undeniable merit, before the usual suspects took over with weak jokes and thinly-veiled pleas to be noticed. Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything has opted not to identify the thread concerned, as it is plainly of historic value and would be in danger of desecration if pointed out to the WACCOE ruling clique.

So far, there is no sign of any other thread on the site approaching this record or duplicating what at first sight almost appears to be a conscious attempt to return to previous group values. This blog will continue to monitor WACCOE in the hope that other signs of better practice may be seen, but there is little reason for optimism. Meanwhile, the one isolated thread which displays this initial flicker of adult behaviour has remained undisturbed up until now, with the initial posting together with those precious three items of sanity still there to be savoured – if you can find them – before normal service is resumed and the kids take over. I can’t expose it to discovery, but I do recommend you try to find it while it’s still there – after all, in context, it’s like a refreshing drink in an arid and limitless desert.

Long may such a shining example of how things used to be done last – in memory of what used to be a half-decent LUFC forum. Sic transit gloria mundi…

Leeds Fans Petition Sky TV Over Short Notice Fixture Changes   –   by Rob Atkinson

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In the wake of yet another Leeds United match being selected for live coverage by Sky Sports, Whites fan Scott Jones of Merthyr Tydfil in Wales, has organised a petition calling on Sky TV to stop causing fixture changes at short notice.

The reasoning behind the petition, hosted by Change.org, is that many fans of Leeds United (and other clubs) live far from the stadium, some even abroad, and they must necessarily arrange tickets, travel and accommodation quite some time in advance. The subsequent rearrangement of fixtures will inevitably cause financial loss and great inconvenience to these fans, who are left feeling that their concerns are of no importance to the big companies concerned.

Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything feels strongly that these fans, whichever club they support, have a solid argument to the effect that a minimum notice period should be observed, without which games should not be rearranged. An alternative course would be adequate compensation for fans thus affected, as a matter of course and with no quibbles.

There are, of course, two sides to every coin. Live TV coverage is of great value to those who, for whatever reason, cannot get along to games in person. And some games will suddenly assume greater significance, with a consequent justification (Sky might argue) for selecting such games at short notice. But match-going supporters remain the lifeblood of football, and their understandable worries and concerns should not lightly be dismissed, nor indeed ridden over roughshod – as it appears all too frequently is happening. At the very least, the issue is worthy of consideration by the relevant bodies, and some attention should be paid as to how supporters’ concerns might be addressed.

For the Leeds United v Middlesbrough fixture just selected for coverage and therefore put back to the Monday evening, I have heard of a large party flying in from Norway, of a group who have paid four figures for an executive box, and sundry other groups and individuals whose long-established plans have been thrown into disarray, just on Mr. Murdoch‘s airy whim. This is simply not good enough. It’s high time Sky stopped messing loyal fans about, fans who have spent time and money making travel arrangements long in advance of the original fixture, from far afield. They lose out big time and Sky doesn’t seem to care one jot.

The Change.org petition started by Scott Jones can be signed here. It’s worthy of support, so please take a little time – out of consideration for your fellow fans – to do just that.

Cellino Deserves to be Judged on This Transfer Window – by Rob Atkinson

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Sheriff Cellino – drinking in the Last Chance Saloon

Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything initially supported the tenure of Massimo Cellino, despite understandable reservations arising out of his track record at Cagliari. But he’d straighten up and drive right now he was in charge of a Porsche instead of a Fiat 500, we assured ourselves. Surely his very purchase of a sleeping giant like Leeds United was evidence of a burning ambition that would be realised through his evident wealth. And, after all, he was going to buy the ground and other assets back, pronto. It was all good. Or so we thought.

Bitter experience has been a harsh teacher in the months that have passed since those early, optimistic days. Far from straightening up, the Italian has become ever more twisted and bent with each passing court case and every glib lie. He’s presided over a revolving-door policy on coaches, recruiting a succession of nobodies and then blaming them for inevitable failure. He’s declined to invest in the squad as a club the size and reputation of Leeds demands. For every half-decent buy, there’s been two or three real lemons – and the drip, drip sale of talent has been maintained. The re-purchase of Elland Road has not happened, and there is little if any sign that it will. Cellino has been, to put it kindly, a big fat disappointment of almost Tomas Brolin proportions. He’s single-handedly made of Leeds United a laughing-stock to rival the David Moyes tenure at man u.

Now, more by the law of averages than good judgement, we seem to have a manager who shows signs of being able to produce winning football in the (admittedly unlikely) event of being left to get on with the job. Steve Evans has made it abundantly clear that the squad needs an influx of quality, and that fact is self-evident to any even half-knowledgeable fan. Evans’ impact on the club has been considerable, given the circumstances he’s had to put up with. There is a noticeable improvement in match-day performances, despite the odd dreadful blip. Even in unfortunate defeat at Hillsborough on Saturday, Leeds were far from outclassed or outplayed. There is good cause for some hope that our current manager can succeed where so many have failed.

So far this window, Liam Bridcutt‘s loan has been extended, and there has been a loan move too for Mustapha Carayol from Middlesbrough. Both have acquitted themselves well, and this is evidence that Evans’ judgement of a player has not been found wanting. We’ve lost Sam Byram to Everton, a tragic event that can be traced back to Cellino’s pig-headed contract renegotiation tactics. Leeds are now at the crossroads of the season, maybe even last-chance saloon in terms of the prospects of this campaign being anything other than yet another dull anti-climax. Cellino has to act positively now, back his manager, invest in quality and trust to a proper football man to do a job when given the tools.

There is still time – not much, but some – for Cellino to reinvent himself as an owner with the interests of what is still a major club at heart. But the clock is ticking. If this month expires to the accompaniment of that old refrain (we’re happy to see what the loan market has to offer…), then many, not least this blog, will take that as a final confirmation that il Presidente is a chancer, a fly-by-night con-man who is leading Leeds United up the garden path to nowhere. If it turns out that, yet again, the supporters’ expectations are being crudely managed with honeyed words and cynically empty promises, Cellino will be exposed once and for all as a fraud in the football world just as in the courts of his native Italy. If he blows this chance, he should not – surely – be granted another.

Put your hands in your pockets, Massimo, and dig deep. Silence those of us who are convinced you’re a waster, if you can. Act now, or pack up and ship out. Leeds United expects. You’ve let us down time after time. Now, you have to stand up and be counted – or it will be the end of the road for you. Tick tock, Signor Cellino.