Should Gutter Rags Mail and Mirror be BANNED from Leeds United? – by Rob Atkinson

Short and sweet this one, folks (at least my trolls will be pleased…)

Many of you will have read my occasional rants about the gutter end of the national press and their entirely destructive attitude towards Leeds United. In pandering to market forces (as, clearly, most of their readership will hate, loathe and detest the very name of our heroes in white), these toilet rolls lose no opportunity to have a dig – the Daily Fail have been at it again today, descending to the type of spite normally associated with pigtail-pulling schoolgirls. I’d provide a link but, on this occasion, I simply can’t be arsed.

Simple question, then, and I value your input as ever – should these two imposters and certain other of the gutter end of the Fourth Estate be banned from Elland Road?

I’d appreciate your views and, if possible, a little bit of the reasoning behind them.

I’d do a poll – but again, quite frankly, I really can’t be bothered. This is one question I just want to get out of the way with as little fuss and bother as possible. After all, it doesn’t affect me, as I never put money into the pockets of these dire excuses for news journals (and I’m sure many of you are the same) – but it does make my teeth itch that the talentless and booze-raddled hacks concerned are infesting the Leeds United press box, and absorbing the gratis hospitality. And no, it’s not envy. Been there, done that; but I was – naturally – coming from a supportive angle, as I love the club. The attitude and agenda of the hostile gutter press is diametrically opposite to mine. And, even though I don’t buy their crap, I’m sick of seeing it happen and reading snippets of their venom online. So, I just wondered what people think about a ban.

Over to you, with thanks.

Downmarket Leeds Fan Site Changes Name from WACCOE to THICKOE – by Rob Atkinson

The new Title - can YOU detect the edit?

The new Title – can YOU detect the edit?

The formerly half-decent Leeds United fans’ forum WACCOE will soon be no more, it has been announced. In a shock move designed to align the site’s core values more closely with the bulk of its readership, it has been decided that a name change is necessary. The old WACCOE name, it is thought, no longer represents the desired direction of what used to be regarded as an invaluable resource for fans of the Yorkshire giants. Instead, in an attempt to sum up the collective IQ of the readership, the title THICKOE has been painstakingly selected.

A spokesman for THICKOE stated, “WACCOE actually stands for We Are the Champions, Champions Of Europe.  Well, sort of.  There’s a “Tuh” in there, for The. We weren’t quite sure what to do with that. But some of us think it’s silly to go on about the past, we wanted something more relevant to US as a group.” When asked what the new acronym THICKOE stands for, our hapless source – southerner Mr Iain Monkey – was unable to help. “I’m not sure about that either, to be honest with you. All suggestions are welcome, it’s a detail we overlooked. We just thought it looked a bit similar to the old one, and that it summed up what we’re all about as a group of Leeds fans who like to swear a lot, spout neo-fascist views, laugh immoderately at each other’s jokes for the purpose of mutual reassurance and – most importantly of all – try to out-do each other for the attention and approval of our betters.”

There is some anxiety though, it would appear, in the re-branded site’s moderation team. A source close to the very top told us that they had tried recently to tailor the forum as per the requirements of its more prominent (jutting mandible-wise) members. “We’ve done our best,” Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything was advised. “We’ve tried to eliminate anyone who’s kicked up too much of a fuss over the site’s support for the Coalition government and our firm but fair stance on asylum-seekers (kick them out), benefit claimants (starve them, then kick them out), teachers (aaaarrrgh), the Labour Party (starve them, then shoot them, then kick them out, then shoot them again). We feel that this brings us broadly into line with our most devoted readership, some of whose best friends are foreign types of a non-Caucasian hue.”

Former and lapsed readers of the site are urged to return and see how things have come on. “We’re going great guns, honestly.  We have some really hard and cool and street nicknames for the new head coach – we call him Whackaday and Hockalot and, ooh, lots of others. It’s really brilliant and so edgy. Anyone who disagrees is silenced, so we don’t even have to worry about intelligent people spoiling things for the rest of us.”

It’s expected that THICKOE will be going live in time for the new season; in the meantime the old WACCOE brand will be discreetly phased out. “We’ve made a start already,” said Mr. Monkey. “If you look carefully at the site banner (pictured above) there’s been a bit of subtle editing going on – though you’d be forgiven for not noticing! No expense has been spared to ensure that the new brand is unmistakable, but that there won’t be anything too unfamiliar for our readers, most of whom haven’t been reading that long, have low, sloping foreheads – and can feel a little insecure.”

Mr. Monkey is 78, but his IQ is only 50.

Tabloid Smears Can’t Mask Growing Optimism at Leeds – by Rob Atkinson

Big Mass

Big Mass

It’s been just another few days in the grubby life of tabloid sports journalism UK style. Those booze-befuddled hacks, desperate to sell more copies than their fellow downmarket scandal rags, wallow happily in a sea of effluent they’ve excreted themselves, pandering to their readership’s darker prejudices. The target, of course, is everybody else’s favourite bêtes noires, our own beloved heroes in white, Leeds United.

This week, it’s been the Daily Heil with a mish-mash of unrelated stabs in the dark, all attempting to add up to a hatchet job. Very poor, very amateur … very Daily Heil. The truly awful Daily Mirror, for their part, attempted to up the ante by luring an unwary ex-United hero, Dominic Matteo, asking him a bunch of loaded questions and publishing the result under the supportive title of “Leeds are a laughing stock and I fear they’ll get relegated”.  Matteo’s recent dismissal from his position at the club is, of course, entirely unrelated to the views he now expresses, which in turn have nothing to do with the soiled wad of banknotes undoubtedly pushed his way from the Mirror‘s own filth fund. This blog understands that Matteo himself is less than impressed with the headline, the poor naïve soul. Bit late now, Dom – isn’t it? For future reference: when you sup with the Devil, you’d better use a long spoon.

The good thing is that neither of these pisspoor efforts at spreading alarm and despondency have been any more effective than a cat-flap in an elephant house. They’re irritating, nothing more – the kind of articles you could predict, almost word-for-word, without even having to glance at them. Such is the parlous state of UK tabloid coverage regarding football in general and Leeds United in particular. These people have their agenda and, once you take that on board, their stuff generally means nothing.

The other good thing is that, slowly but with gathering momentum, the Leeds United locomotive is pulling away from the sidings and getting ready for full steam up. The driving force behind this is, of course, United’s own Signor Loco, Massimo Cellino. There is definitely something about this guy that hasn’t been seen in the vicinity of Elland Road since – well, ever. He’s one on his own is Big Mass, they broke the mould when they made him. From a most inauspicious start, he’s gradually won over more and more of the vast Leeds United army out here. Supporters of the maverick Italian have seemed to outnumber the naysayers and doom/gloom merchants for some time now. In the beginning, the balance was rather different.

 

The wisdom of Cellino

The wisdom of Big Mass

The thing about Cellino is, every time he opens his mouth, pure gold pours out. For a stranger to these shores, he has a way with the language that is at once unique, compelling and deeply memorable. We all remember his observations about buying a bitch for a night, but not being able to buy the love, my friend. Admittedly, he’s not the most PC guy around. But that was a hell of a quotable sound-bite for somebody caught unawares by a phone call out of the blue, more than a touch ‘tired and emotional’ and with his guard distinctly down. There’s a fluency to the quote, a rhythm that lodges it in your consciousness. He’s been coming out with similarly notable pronouncements ever since. Some are less printable than others, but all have that Big Mass stamp of authority, confidence and authenticity about them.  Cellino shoots from the lip, he doesn’t waste words and he always makes his point crystal clear.

Actions, they say, speak louder than words – so it’s encouraging that Big Mass has recently started to show himself as a do-er and not just a talker. Shock waves are still reverberating around the football world at the price he extorted from poor old Fulham FC for a flash-in-the-pan Scottish badge-kisser of dubious motivation and fitness. People keep appearing in social media, all shocked-like, and pointing out another two or three internationals who have moved for a combined fee of less than Cellino got for Rossco. Don Revie described his capture of John Giles from Man U as “robbery with violence” – and so it was. By that reckoning, Fulham have been the victims of an armed blag that John McVicar would have been proud of.

The sale of McCormack was greeted by a kind of astounded approval by the Leeds United supporters fraternity – remarkable when you consider it represented the departure of yet another top performer, even though you did have the feeling that No. 44 might have had difficulty reproducing that annus mirabilis form next time around. But there were no mass protests, there was no real social media uproar. People were just too damned impressed by the amount we got. Naturally, there have been some feeble peeps from the usual doom-monger suspects, bleating about the figure being misleading, blah blah. But for the most part, we seem satisfied with the deal – and why the hell not?

If that wasn’t enough reason for a burgeoning optimism about LS11, then throw in a rash of signings since Ross sulked off down south, mostly unknown to us it’s true – but that doesn’t mean they aren’t quality. Nobody had heard of Hasselbaink before he arrived, or Radebe, or even Yeboah to a certain extent. Cellino and his deal-maker Salerno have form for finding rough diamonds and polishing them up. They managed it in a Fiat 500, and their stock is a lot higher now that they’re in charge of a Porsche. And all the time, Big Mass is there, hands on, sorting problems and building towards the new season, generally smiling, throwing out little nuggets about having millions in working capital – generally creating an atmosphere of positivity around Leeds that we haven’t seen the like of since before Publicity Pete got found out. A 16-0 pre-season win has done nothing to harm this heady feeling of reckless happiness, either (doom-mongers: “Who were we playing, Brazil?? Haw, haw, haw.”)

In such a swaggering manner are we sauntering expectantly towards the new season and 46 acid tests of the new regime. It won’t be all moonlight and roses, we can be sure enough of that. But there does now seem to be a new, unfamiliar optimism in the air, a feeling that last season can be consigned to history with a lot of its baggage now shed and a tasty few signings on board – with more to come. The feeling is growing that the new season will see a Leeds United worthy of our support – and that is support well worth having, when the crowd are up for it and the team are fighting for the shirt. We’ve seen those days before, long ago admittedly – but who knows? Maybe they’re on the point of coming back.

If that is the case – well, it’d take more than a few miserable and talent-free hacks wielding their poison pens to deflect us from our path onwards and upwards.  We’ll be Marching On Together quite shortly now, setting off on that League marathon with a visit to darkest Millwall. Bring it on, then. Forza Leeds and the tabloids can stick their spite and negativity where the sun don’t shine.

£104 for a Standing Season Ticket at Leeds United? Ja, Danke! – by Rob Atkinson

Uli Hoeneß in happier times

Uli Hoeneß in happier times

A stunning quote from a couple of years back drifted randomly across my desktop earlier today – and it fair brought me up sharp. It all had to do with the stark distinction between admission prices in the Premier League as compared with those charged for Bundesliga clubs in Germany. Across the board, the English clubs charged prices well towards the rip-off end of the scale, whereas their German counterparts had a much more enlightened view of match-day revenue – summed-up extremely neatly by this quote, which was not so much food for thought as a veritable feast for a delegation of philosophers.

Before I go any further into that, I should highlight a couple of salient points. The person being quoted is Uli Hoeness, famously and unforgivably the wearer of the number 10 shirt when Bayern Munich cheated Leeds United out of the European Cup in 1975. Hoeness it was, incidentally, after that match, who described Terry Yorath’s early challenge on Björn Andersson as the “most brutal foul I think I have ever seen” – clearly, he was unaware of the thuggish prowess of one Norbert “Nobby” Peter Stiles. Andersson was so badly injured in fact, that he had to quit football and join Abba – just kidding. Anyway, I digress.

Hoeness made this quote, the one that’s belatedly struck me only today, when he was the Bayern Club President – a role he later had to relinquish on account of a conviction for tax evasion, for which he was sentenced to three and a half years in jail. However, I do not accept that either his recent criminal conviction, or his part in the swindling of Billy’s Boys in 1975, constitute any reason to dispute the fact that Uli Hoeness was responsible for the most earth-shatteringly sensible statement in the entire history of football.

So, without any further ado, let’s just look at that quote. Commenting on Bayern’s advertised price at the time for “safe standing” season tickets, Hoeness said:

‘We could charge more than £104. Let’s say we charged £300. We’d get £2m more in income but what’s £2m to us?

‘In a transfer discussion you argue about that sum for five minutes. But the difference between £104 and £300 is huge for the fan.

‘We do not think the fans are like cows, who you milk. Football has got to be for everybody.

‘That’s the biggest difference between us and England.’

Just sit back and take that in. Have you ever heard a simpler, more concise statement of good sense and unarguable logic? The man is stating that, in England, the fans are treated as cattle, to be milked for what they can give – and simply herded from pillar to post the rest of the time. He’s utterly right, indisputably and brilliantly spot-on. The fact of his links to Paris in 1975 – something the mere mention of which can still make a Leeds fan’s ears bleed – is neither here nor there. His tax-evasion and subsequent conviction and incarceration are likewise irrelevant. The guy is simply right – and it’s just as undeniably true today, as we face another football season here and in the newly-crowned leading football nation in the world, Germany.

What’s more, although the figures from the time, two years back, are a comparison between Bundesliga and Premier League, that comparison applies with almost equal impact to the English second tier, the Championship – and this is most certainly true of my beloved but obscenely pricey Leeds United. Have a gander:-

Rip-off England v Value Germany

Rip-off England v Value Germany

Remember, all of these figures are from a couple of years ago – but there are no grounds to suspect that the comparison is any less eye-watering today. The central point that Hoeness was making – that the actual benefit to clubs of higher prices is minimal, as compared to the burden it puts upon hard-pressed fans – is just as valid now as it has always been, and it’s unaffected by the sad fall from grace of the man himself.

Just think of it – what would be the effect if, for instance, Leeds United were able and willing to charge a lower rate of maybe £120 per season for a season ticket – said ticket to be for admission to one or more vast safe-standing areas? The first thing you’d get would be a years-long waiting list for those tickets – the demand would be incredible. Secondly, differentials would have to reduce in proportion, making higher-price seating tickets relatively cheaper. Again, demand would rocket; the stadium would in all likelihood be over-subscribed for every home game. A bigger stadium would become necessary. Leeds United would also be pioneers, the club that broke the mould and stopped ripping their fans off. Didn’t Big Mass himself say something along those lines just the other day?

The fact is that, with increased attendances, everything else improves – including profit margins. Incidental match expenditure would be a much bigger revenue item, as souvenirs, food, drinks, programmes – everything – sold in much higher numbers. Safe standing is, of course, a whole separate argument, with uneasy connotations for anyone who remembers Hillsborough ’89 – but it’s a case that is slowly gathering momentum as the policy is seen to work well elsewhere. The atmosphere under such conditions would improve out of all recognition. The “safe standing” areas would give back an area of the stadium to the fans who always used to generate that atmosphere: the singers, the shouters, the passionate and involved people that really got behind the team. 

Football would, at least in part, be returned to the working man and woman, from whom it has been so rudely snatched in the Sky/Murdoch era. It would be returned to the children too, the raw material for the next generation of hard-core fanatics. Football would be regaining its present and its future. The whole thing would be so incredibly better and more entertaining and inclusive, that people would be scratching their heads and wondering – why had nobody thought of this before? But somebody did, or at least they summarised the philosophy behind it. A former German international footballer, currently languishing in Landsberg Prison.

The current situation in English football is ridiculous when looked at in these terms. The seeds of disillusion for many Leeds fans – and I know this for a fact – were sown long before the club’s dramatic fall from grace from 2004 onwards. For many, the last straw came with the ending of the “East Stand Bond” arrangement, whereby bond-holders, who had contributed £500 each to the construction of the Magnificent New East Stand, had their season tickets pegged at early-nineties prices, and adjusted only for inflation. When that deal ended, those bond holders faced a dramatic rise in the cost of their season tickets because, in the real world outside of the “bond bubble”, match-day and seasonal costs had risen so dramatically. Many were sickened by the sharp elevation in their football expenses, and disappeared off the club’s radar.

The reason for the sharp rise can be divined from a glance at the bottom line on a Premier League player’s wageslip – but as Hoeness said, there’s no real logic to it. Look at that quote again – a club can get a few million quid extra with higher prices – which amounts to a haggling point in one major transfer deal, at the cost of inflicting debt and misery on their loyal supporters. Where’s the sense, or indeed the justice, in that?

As in so many things since the end of the Second World War, Germany gets it right where we get it spectacularly wrong. It just keeps happening time and time again, in industry, culture, sport in general and football in particular – on and off the field. The difference in pricing policy between the two countries’ league structures is not down to Hoeness, of course. It’s a function of logic and common sense on the one side, as opposed to greed, short-sightedness and muddled thinking on the other. It’s just that Hoeness came up with that memorable quote, that devastating logic. You’d think that even a complete fool, a purblind ass, a clueless ditherer without the first idea of how to organise inebriation in a brewery, would be made to see sense by the sheer rightness of his summary.

And on that note, gentlemen of the Football League, the FA and the EPL – it’s over to you.

 

 

Sacked Matteo Takes Mirror’s Thirty Pieces of Silver – by Rob Atkinson

Let me say right from the start – Dominic Matteo is a Leeds United hero. He’s earned that status, as have a select few before and since his time at Elland Road, by virtue of one historic, iconic moment. When Matteo rose at the near post to head home a corner into Milan’s net at the legendary San Siro, he sealed his place in Leeds United folklore – a place cemented by his subsequent performances in the white shirt. Yes, Dom Matteo is a bona fide Leeds hero. But even heroes are not immune from criticism.

Peter Lorimer could doubtless vouch for that, if he was of a mind to. His place in United’s pantheon of greats is a far more elevated and glittering one than even San Siro hero Matteo’s. Lorimer made his debut at the tender age of 15 and went on to forge a fearsome reputation as the rocket-shot weapon in the Leeds locker. Lash, they called him, and legend had it that goalkeepers would dive out of the way of one of his 90 mph strikes, rather than attempt a save and thereby risk injury or worse. Lorimer played a massive part in the golden era of Super Leeds; his “legend” status was surely indisputable.

Except, of course, he’s viewed very differently these days. Peter Lorimer is guilty, in the eyes of many Leeds fans, of selling his soul to the devil, in the not-so-cuddly guise of Wicked Uncle Ken Bates. That such a sparkling reputation as Lorimer’s could be so sullied should be a warning, surely, to lesser lights – that treachery and duplicity will not be tolerated by Leeds fans, no matter what your achievements are. It’s a warning that Dom Matteo, with his peroration in the paper that hates Leeds United more than any other gutter rag you could name, appears to have failed to heed.

In writing for the Mirror – a toilet tissue of a so-called “newspaper” – Matteo risks putting himself outside of the Leeds United family. He risks becoming a pariah – which is how some now see the iconic “Lash” Lorimer. The Mirror is not the only scandal rag currently to have a pop at Leeds – the lamentable Mail, often known as the Daily Heil by those with the inside track on editorial politics, has also had a go. It’s not too surprising; the gin-raddled hacks who staff these chip-wrappers-in-waiting are well aware that bad news about United sells copies among the cluelessly-ignorant, Leeds-hating hoi polloi.

But the Mail are just winging it; the Mirror have managed to lure the presumably unwary Dom Matteo, a contemporary Leeds hero, over to their dark and loathsome operation. It’s not a particularly wise move on the part of Matteo, recently sacked by Leeds – though he would surely claim this has had nothing whatsoever to do with his outburst in the most degraded of all gutter rags, the Sun not excepted. Had wiser counsel prevailed, Dom may well have stuck to disseminating his wisdom through the pages of the Yorkshire Evening Post, which benefits from both a more enlightened editorial stance and a readership to match. At least that way, his glowing reputation among Leeds fans would not stand at risk of becoming tarnished – as it does today.

It’s to be hoped that Matteo was well paid for his intemperate contribution in the slimy pages of the Mirror. Exactly how much it’s been worth to him, we’re likely to be left to guess. Thirty pieces of silver, perhaps? It’s a tad out-dated and probably not all that inflation-proof – but in the circumstances, it does seem appropriate.

Different Rules Apply for the Damned United and the Blessed Man U – by Rob Atkinson

Damned United

The title of this blog is, of course, an exercise in the bleedin’ obvious. We all know only too well that there is a Damned United and a Blessed United. The media in this country drew that distinction long ago – the Damned shall be portrayed at all times in the harshest possible light, whilst for the Blessed, it shall be all soft focus, moonlight and roses, to a background of sweet music. So mote it be.

That’s what the media do, of course. They need their standby heroes and their polar opposite reliable villains; shades of grey are a little too subtle for their target audience. The public they’re catering to is, for the most part, easily led and uncritical. Thinking is not the occupation of choice for most of that vast audience out there so, OK – the papers and the broadcast media will do the thinking, and they’ll tell the people what to think.  The pity of it is that the people who actually run the game in this country go along so easily, all unprotesting, with the clichéd template used by those making the editorial decisions.

The vast difference in the treatment by the authorities of their perennial villains and their cherished angels has been illustrated yet again, in sharp focus, over recent weeks. At nasty, naughty Leeds United, they are 101 days into the reign of Massimo Cellino – or “Convicted Fraudster Massimo Cellino” as the gutter Red Tops like to refer to him. It’s been an interesting time at Elland Road, to say the least. Cellino has gone through the place like a dose of salts, employing the kind of hands-on approach that would put even a full-contact masseur to shame. Dead wood has been cut out, there has been a detailed inventory of the club at all levels, malign influences have been neutralised – even the secret cameras in the bogs and the boardroom have been binned. Now, the new Don of Elland Road is embarking upon a player recruitment campaign in the wake of mugging Fulham FC out of £11 million for a flash-in-the-pan, disinterested and somewhat stroppy Scottish striker.

Many are now saying that Signor Cellino is the best thing to hit LS11 in several decades – yet this is the man the Football League were determined to bar from any involvement in Leeds United, preferring to leave our ailing club to the tender mercies of GFH Capital, whose erstwhile football CEO now languishes in a Dubai jail.  The League did their level best to hound Cellino from these shores, even as they turned a blind eye and cocked a deaf ear to some fairly horrendous wrongdoings elsewhere.  So Blackpool’s rapist director was left unmolested, and Birmingham’s jailed money-launderer was spared any undue attention – but Cellino was pursued with unseemly vigour by the spiteful old men of Preston, Lancashire. Fortunately, the Italian’s legal team knew far too much for the superannuated dolts of the League and he was able to take charge of a football club that sorely needed him, with results we are now beginning to see. But official resentment over that judicial defeat still simmers – and they’ll be out to get Big Mass, if they possibly can.

Meanwhile, over there on the wrong side of the Pennines, an even hotter resentment curdles still over the surprisingly stiff start to last season’s League programme for football’s darlings The Pride of Devon, the one and only Mighty Manchester United themselves.  As I wrote on October 6th last, Man U were positively seething about the relatively difficult early fixtures and – naturally – they complained loud and long, which is what they always do. My satirical spin on the matter was that the League would – equally naturally – lean over backwards to redress the balance for football’s most petulant club. Well, it turned out that I was actually a bit of a prophet, even though I thought I was merely poking fun.

This year’s opening fixtures for the Pride of Devon, you see, are a model of discreet gentleness, an opening six games designed to give Wapping’s Wondermen a maximum 18 out of 18 points fillip to get their season off to just the right start.  Man U face all three promoted teams in that initial phase of the season - Burnley, QPR and Leicester, together with Sunderland, West Ham, and Swansea – not one game against a team finishing in the top half last season. Now, what are the odds on that?? Is there a mathematician in the house??

Clearly, last season’s awkward start still rankles with somebody from the Theatre of Hollow Myths, and it has been made expressly clear that such a thing is not to happen again. True to form, the game’s so-called “ruling body” has rolled over onto its back, legs akimbo, and begged those nice people at Man U to have their way with it. There’s the standard stench of hypocrisy and favouritism about the whole thing, and absolutely no dignity, decency or integrity at all.  Plus ça change… 

The fact is, of course, that for all this breast-beating about how they get the kid-glove treatment, whilst we get the spiky knuckledusters – we probably wouldn’t want it any other way.  I mean – really – would we?  Do you fancy supporting a club that gets everything handed to them on a plate? A club that is open to accusations of crass ineptitude in any season where they don’t win absolutely everything? Not for me, thanks.

By the same token, there’s a kind of perverse satisfaction in supporting a team hated by the country’s media – swill-gobbling hacks to a man that they are – as well as by the supposed great and good in the corridors of power. For goodness sake, just look at these people – they quite literally do not have a clue. Would we even want the support and succour of such a bunch of muppets? I would respectfully submit: no, we most certainly would not. Leave that kind of patronage to Man U and their global throng of armchair supporters, their vast markets of tat-buying dunderheads from Torquay to Singapore. They know no better, they are not equipped to make judgements as to what is and what is not desirable in terms of who their “friends” are – however highly-placed.

No – this blog is quite clear in its own only slightly bitter and cynical mind; Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything would rather see our heroes in white tread the hard road than have everything smoothed over and made easy. It’s a question of self-respect and good taste, don’t you know. The only important thing is that these people should not think we’re sitting here all content, the wool pulled firmly over our eyes. We are not. We know exactly what is going on and, even if the Pride of Devon’s easy start and expected 18-point haul from their opening six games should gain them another unmerited title – we will know how it’s been accomplished. We’ll be watching the referees’ performances with our usual beady eye and, when we’re not fuming over the injustices perpetrated upon the Damned United, we’ll be pointing an accusing finger at every dodgy penalty and offside goal enjoyed by the despicable Chosen Ones.

So just think on. We’re onto you, and we know what you’re all about there, in your ivory towers. Watch it, that’s all. Just – watch it.

Ranger Training with Leeds

Rob Atkinson:

Bad boy Nile Ranger for Leeds United? It’s another controversial one, after the Diouf experiment and its somewhat qualified success. Do we really want to be taking a punt on this lad, after the “issues” that convinced mighty Swindon Town they’d be better off without him??

Originally posted on View From The Press Box:

Leeds United have offered former Newcastle United striker, Nile Ranger the chance to train with the club after his release from Swindon Town.

The striker is currently available to sign on a free transfer after he left Swindon Town at the end of last season, with his personal life and disciplinary issues playing a part in the decision.

The 23 year-old is a former Newcastle United forward, but was plagued with off field issues during his time at the club. Since then he has gone on to play for Swindon Town, where he scored seven times in 19 league appearances. However, the former England youth international had his contract at the club mutually terminated.

Now, the striker has been handed an opportunity to get back into football as new Leeds manager, David Hockaday, has presented him the chance to impress the staff at Elland Road to secure a contract…

View original 3 more words

Ross McCormack Peddles the Same Old Tired Line at Fulham – by Rob Atkinson

Ross McCormack, purveyor of bullshit to the gentry, kisses his last badge but one

Ross McCormack, purveyor of bullshit to the gentry, kisses his last badge but one

We’ve known it often enough at Leeds United – a player signs and, early in his time at Elland Road, there’s the opportunity in an interview to put on the sincere face and say “…there were a few clubs interested in me, but once I heard Leeds United mentioned, that was it – there was nowhere else I was going to go.”  We humble fans are left to wonder about the identity of the disappointed clubs – CF Barcelona, perhaps, or Milan, Internazionale or Paris St Germain.  Or possibly Doncaster Rovers or Scunthorpe.  It’s become part of the transfer scene; it’s expected. Besides, nobody takes it that seriously. It’s all part of the schmoozing that seems to be de rigueur on either side of any transfer involving a club of any history or notoriety  these days.  You just wish the script might vary occasionally.

The thing is, there is a feeling that – here at Leeds, anyway – there is sometimes a kernel of truth concealed beneath all of the bovine ordure we’ve become used to.  Hang on, we think – it’s only right what the guy’s saying.  We speculate as to who else might have been in for him, whoever he might be – and the fact is that any player we might currently be making overtures to is highly unlikely to have a higher-profile option elsewhere. For most of our motley crew of incoming transfers over the past decade or so, Leeds United is the biggest club they’ve ever played for, ever will play for. So why would such relatively humble performers look elsewhere when the chance to sign for Leeds crops up?  That’s not arrogance, it’s simply the way things are, with the club at its present, humble level of the game.  The platitudes may be exactly that – but, used in connection with a move to Leeds, true giants of the sub-Premier League world, they’re at least partly believable.  We have the history, the tradition, the stadium, the support, the training ground – well, perhaps strike that last one.  But Leeds are a bigger deal than most Championship players could aspire to, and that’s an undeniable fact.

When these quotes arise out of a transfer to Fulham, though, it does become slightly comical. And, guess what, our former captain and genuine one-season wonder Ross McCormack, badge-kisser and Twitter-whinger extraordinaire, has actually been and gone and come out with the usual bull – but this time, it’s in a Fulham context.  Try it for size, why don’t you – here’s what Ross said.  “There was speculation in regards to other teams, but Fulham was where I wanted to be.” Funny, isn’t it? Go on, see if you can say it without a giggle.  Ross must have managed it straight-faced, anyway – or he’d have grievously insulted his new friends and fellow cottagers and that would never do.

Ross might be far too busy adding up all of the different figures in his new contract to have any real appreciation of irony or unintentional humour – and let’s face it, most footballers’ brains aren’t wired that way to start off with – but he must surely be kidding himself if he thinks he’s going to convince even a diehard Fulham fan that he’s there for any other reason but the bottom line on his payslip.  Your actual realistic Fulham fan, should such a beast exist, might also refer back to Mr. McCormack’s recent statement that winning promotion at Elland Road would beat playing for just any Premier League – not Championship - club; they might even wonder if, in fact, their new signing speak with forked tongue.  Then again, they might equally just swallow all of this crap. They’re a bit simple, you know, some of these London boys.

It’s a snippet that has raised a smile here at Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything, anyway.  It’s just so blatant, the way that Mr. McCormack has hardly paused for breath in between trying to convince us that he’d only leave for the top flight, and then attempting to convince the Craven Cottage faithful, all 15,000 of them, that he feels he’s joined West London’s answer to Real Madrid. As players’ wage packets and egos continue to enlarge exponentially, it’s something we’ll become more and more used to.  But beneath the essential comedy of it, there’s that hint of disappointment and disillusion too, that these daft lads can honestly expect people to take them seriously when they keep coming out with the same clichés, time and time again.

Mind you, the next time some swarthy Italian B international with an eye for goal and a crafty agent breezes through the door at Elland Road and declares it his ultimate heart’s desire – I’ll probably nod approvingly and believe him implicitly.  And why not?  We’re Leeds United, after all, and that still makes the vital difference – as Mr. Ross McCormack may yet find out to his cost. 

 

Belgium fan scouted by L’Oreal at World Cup dropped after Facebook outs her as big game hunter

Rob Atkinson:

Serves the silly, bloodthirsty cow right.

Originally posted on Metro:

Axelle Despiegelaere, a Belgium fan poses as she waits for the start of the Group H football match between Belgium and Russia at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 22, 2014.  AFP PHOTO / MARTIN BUREAU        (Photo credit should read MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images)

Axelle Despiegelaere was spotted while cheering on Belgium at the World Cup (Picture: AFP/Getty)

The fairytale story of a Belgium fan whose fresh-faced looks landed her a L’Oreal modelling contract has turned sour after her she was outed as a big game hunter by her Facebook account.

A Facebook photo of 17-year-old Axelle Despiegelaere alongside a kill while hunting in Africa caused such an outcry that L’Oreal Belgium opted to cancel her contract just days after signing her to a deal.

The picture of the fan alongside a dead Gemsbok antelope was accompanied by a caption that read: ‘Hunting is not a matter of life or death. It’s much more important than that.’

L’Oreal, which has publicly prided itself on its animal welfare policy, had planned to use the teenager for a social media campaign including a hair tutorial.

The cosmetics giant have stated that while their contractual relationship with the attractive fan is now…

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By Goom, Sum Leeds Fans are Proper ‘Ard to Please, Sithee!! – by Rob Atkinson

What's the point of winning 16-0??

What’s the point of winning 16-0?? Waaaahhh!!

On July 10th in Italy, Leeds United stepped up their pre-season preparations by moving on to an actual game against opposition from outside the club – as opposed to doing the hard yards in training and playing practice matches within the squad.  It’s a natural progression – it makes sense to start with a gentle work-out against a team that, perhaps, won’t provide the stiffest test. The game went well, two distinct United teams getting a 45-minute run-out apiece – and Leeds won by the unlikely score of 16-0, beating their previous best pre-season success by one.  The players seemed to fight shy of scoring that 17th goal which might have caused the superstitious side of the owner’s nature to twitch spasmodically. It’s best to keep on the right side of Big Mass, my friend. But you have to say that this type of game is a worthwhile exercise at this stage of pre-season. As a means of getting into a match situation and preparing for sterner opposition later on, it’s ideal. Isn’t it?

Well, you wouldn’t think so, from some of the social media reaction. To read some of the comments from certain alleged Leeds fans, you’d think that Leeds United had broken into their homes and beaten up their apple-cheeked, silver-haired old Grandma, rather than comfortably winning a football match. There was an air of offended outrage very much in evidence.  Some people, it would seem, feel distinctly happier when we’re losing – as, for instance we did at Harrogate Town last pre-season, or famously at Histon in the FA Cup a few years back.  A 16-0 defeat would presumably have had these characters smiling happily – but a victory by that score opened up the floodgates for a tide of whinging and bitching from the kind of fans who would, quite frankly, feel more at home over the wrong side o’ t’hills, at the Theatre of Hollow Myths.

So what is it about certain Leeds United fans, that makes them react in this unhelpful and frankly irritating way? Is it a need to affect a certain world-weary, windswept and interesting, ostentatiously cynical attitude, in the hope that people will think they’re more complex and profound than they actually are? Do they perhaps feel compelled to act in a certain way in order to impress others? Certainly this type of reaction is typical of the sort of person, generally young, a bit stupid and desperate for attention, who feels the need to inflict their callow opinions on Facebook, Twitter et al. Some of the dafter Leeds United internet boards are likewise infested with these yappy types, falling over themselves to outdo the previous poster for “wit” or what they might see as a “cool” determination to approve of nothing, to criticise and carp on about everything. The abysmal WACCOE and the absurd Service Crew Forum are good examples of the type of “Go on, try to impress me” churl of a supporter, who hasn’t the first idea of what support actually means. It’s always a sad day for this type when there is some undeniably good news. After all, it’s so uncool to be happy and positive – isn’t it?

Sod off and listen to the Smiths, or Leonard Cohen – or go and support the Pride of Devon, why don’t you. At least those of us who are open to the possibility of a new era at Leeds United would be spared your formulaic whinging and clueless rants.  And, next time Leeds United manage to win a game 16-0, could we perhaps expect a bit more in the way of originality from you?  You know – a little less of the “Oh, were we playing the blind school??  Haw, haw, haw”.  At times like this, Twitter seems to be exclusively about daft little prats recycling weak humour with a genuine belief that they’ll somehow get some credit for it.

I blame the parents.  No, on reflection, I don’t – not entirely.  I really blame the proliferation of social media, providing as it does an easy option, for dumb, idle, yap-mouthed kids with too much time on their hands, to create a sort of wall of white noise, preventing the rest of us from being able to have anything like a meaningful conversation or productive discussion. Yes, that’s what I blame. AND the bloody parents.

Roll on the next game and, with all due respect to Big Mass and his weird beliefs, I hope we win this one 17-0.  We won’t, of course – because we’ll be playing a much better team, one that doesn’t need to borrow our goalie near the end just to keep the score down. But I do hope we keep the hammer down and win well.  Because there’s nothing that upsets the kind of Leeds fan I’m railing against, more than a good, solid Leeds United win. The sort of win that used to be the whole point of being a fan – remember that?