“Are We There Yet?” How Leeds Twitter Fans Channel Their Inner Spoilt Children – by Rob Atkinson

Tantrum

The dumb end of the Leeds Twitter feed, in pictures

We’ve probably all had to cope with the tantrums of spoilt kids at one time or another, sometimes in particularly testing circumstances when you just need to get somewhere or accomplish something – and it has to be managed against this irritating background of immature whinging and tantrums. The car scenario is especially annoying, with the petulant classic “Are we there yet??” starting as you turn out of your street and continuing for pretty much the whole journey, as you grit your teeth and turn the radio up. Now, what could be more representative than this tiresome phenomenon, of my current major bugbear, the #LUFC hashtag on Twitter? Especially at this time of the year, when the dreaded January transfer window has these bleating inadequates giving full rein to their endless spoilt brattishness. The resemblance between a car full of screeching spoilt children and the Leeds Twitter feed in January is well nigh inescapable.

It’s embarrassing, too, for those of us who are more inclined to let those who know what they’re doing get on with their jobs. Not for us the tendency to clamour for attention from the likes of Phil Hay or Andrea Radrizzani, addressing them as “mate” or “boss” and demanding to know why United haven’t yet signed this, that or the other multi-million pound striker. There’s plenty who do, though, and – bandwagon jumping being in the nature of the dimmer end of the online Leeds support – more seem to appear with each passing day.

It must surely try the patience of the professionals concerned, just like that harassed Mum trying to drive safely as her infants squall in the back of the car. And yet there seems to be an expectation on the part of each and every clueless tweeter that their particular plea for attention and information will bear fruit – maybe in the form of “Hi, Shane of Beeston, we hadn’t thought of buying Edinson Cavani until you contacted us, but you’ll be glad to know that – because of your message – we’re right on it now. We’ll show PSG your tweet and I’m sure they’ll cave in. Marcelo says thanks.” A greater triumph of hopeless expectation over common sense you could not wish to see, and yet these eager dweebs are queuing up to make themselves look approximately that daft. Well meaning, but dim, just about sums it up.

The other sort are even worse. They don’t bother making suggestions, constructive or otherwise – they move straight on to the conspiracy theories, whereby the Financial Fair Play regulations are just a cunning cover story, so that all of the money invested by fans can go straight into the back pockets of Angus Kinnear, Victor Orta et al, prior to their abrupt disappearance in the direction of Rio de Janeiro. The problem shared by most of the Twatteratti is the apparently certain belief that they know what is going on, better than anybody else. Naturally, they feel the urge to share this superior knowledge with everybody else, repeatedly ad nauseam, until Twitter threatens to make your eyes bleed. It is not an edifying experience.

As I write, we’ve signed a new young goalkeeper, one for the future, and a promising winger from Man City who was courted by Torino of Serie A, and whose prospects of first team involvement may well be more imminent. The reaction of the Twatteratti has been predictably less than positive. The goalkeeper signing was greeted with “Oh, so we need a striker and we sign a keeper, suppose we’ll be playing him up front against Millwall, haw, haw, aren’t I droll”. There is this urgent need among these malcontents to be loved by their similarly-challenged fellow spoilt kids – the desire for lols, likes and retweets supersedes any fleeting thought of keeping their powder dry and seeing what happens.

For those of us with little choice but to trawl through all the Twitter dross in the hope of unearthing the occasional nugget of actual news, or even a Grade A believable rumour, the output of this Legion of the Thick is dispiriting indeed. I guess other clubs suffer from similarly clueless sections among their online support, but that’s quite frankly cold comfort. I’m pretty sure that, if it’s a question of degree, our petulant tendency out-numbers that of most other teams. I suppose that, in a sort of backhanded way, it’s an indicator of the mass appeal of this club. Still, it’s no wonder some call us The Damned United.

As of now, we still need that new striker to provide the competition for Patrick Bamford that any front man needs in order to keep honed the cutting edge of his game. And I’m sure it will happen, sometime in the next few days, barring some other “aren’t we clever” club doing a Swansea on us. But, even if that were to happen, I’m convinced that Leeds United will have done its best during a traditionally difficult window. For what it’s worth, there are some respected voices putting a similar opinion out there, the likes of Hay, Popey etc. So we should perhaps keep the faith, and keep on telling those spoilt kids to pipe down.

Meanwhile, though, it’s really very difficult not to think “Roll on February”…

Leeds United “Fans” Must Take Blame for Paddy’s QPR Penalty Miss – by Rob Atkinson

Bamford

Bamford – a victim of the boo boys

Some so-called Leeds United “fans” – mainly the type who spend most of their existences refreshing Twitter, rather than getting off their backsides to go along and support the team – have a distinctly warped idea of the meaning of the word “support”. It’s a word that should be close to the heart of any real football fan, but some of these tragic individuals appear to be utterly unfamiliar with the whole concept of getting behind a team, encouraging them, displaying some partisan fanaticism and alway, ALWAYS keeping the faith.

The Leeds United support base, for me, is divided between the match-goers – still the best bunch in the game – and the non-attendees, whose number includes a significant minority of people who attach themselves to United with the apparent purpose of delighting in any setback and doing their level best to demoralise and dishearten the players the rest of us support through thick and thin. Some of these will clearly be bogus online presences, but that doesn’t explain the sheer volume and levels of negativity out there. It’s not something I’ve heard anyone explain away, but it’s as irritating and damaging as it is inexplicable. And the damage I’m referring to is being sustained directly by the team and its prospects of success.

Football teams thrive on support – how often have you heard the saying “our crowd is worth a goal start”? In the days before social media, you didn’t need to know any more than that – it was your incentive to get along to the game, sing your heart out and support the lads. Those dear, simple days are far behind us now and while, as I stated earlier, the Leeds matchday support is second to none at home and away, the story on Twitter, Facebook etcetera, is markedly different. The LUFC hashtag on Twitter is best avoided for any supporter with a history of high blood pressure, which is bad enough – but the actual players should certainly be banned from ever even looking at such platforms. Any sports psychologist would surely agree with this position, as much of the output is as negative as it is clueless. The point is that the insidious effect of this drip, drip, drip type criticism is well known and widely acknowledged. So the concerted effect on Patrick Bamford of what he will doubtless have read on Twitter, will inevitably be less than positive.

Strikers, more than most footballers, thrive on confidence. Knock a lad’s confidence and, eventually, you will see a deterioration in performance and output. It’s not rocket science, it’s simply common sense. It may well be that some of these moaning Minnies on Twitter are too profoundly stupid to appreciate the damage they’re doing, but that won’t apply to all of them. Some of that dismal number will know exactly what they’re doing, and will enjoy the idea that they can have such an effect, something they surely can’t often experience in other areas of their lives. To them, I say – please go away, be a man united fan or whatever, just don’t darken our Twittersphere again. And I also say “j’accuse“. It’s your fault we lost at QPR today, just as surely as blame attaches to the appalling referee, so it also attaches to you. In a very real sense, you missed that penalty. Anyone who saw Bamford step up to take it would have been fearing he’d miss. The body language was not typical of confidence and self-belief, and it’s those qualities that have been drained away by these non-fans on social media.

Rant over. It’ll have no effect, of course. I’ll get the usual abusive responses, thin-skinned plonkers telling me that they have a perfect right to say what they like, to whom they like. And, sadly, it’s true. Just don’t think you can say these things in the name of Leeds United “support” – not without being picked up on it and challenged over your supposed attachment to a club that would be better off without you. But that’s not enough to deter people who seem to revel in United’s misfortunes, and who remain silent when things are going well.

If there’s one thing more than any other that can make me wish for the good old days pre-social media, it’s this. In many ways, things were better back then, although the likes of Terry Yorath and George McCluskey among others, who suffered greatly from some minority terrace barracking, might possibly beg to differ. But all that notwithstanding, there was an honesty about support in those days that is absent from large areas of the online LUFC presence. And what worries me is that this great club, which has always relied on the fanatical fervour of its support, may well pay a heavy price for the abominable attitude of some of its so-called fans.

If only we could all go back to “Marching On Together” – but seemingly, that’s just too much to ask.

Happy Birthday to Leeds Utd Legend Eddie “The Last Waltz” Gray – by Rob Atkinson

A dapper Eddie pictured in front of a dapper, all-standing Kop

A dapper Eddie pictured in front of a dapper, all-standing Kop

It’s “Legends Birthday Time” again, and today we almost belatedly celebrate the 72nd anniversary of the birth of Sir Edwin “The Last Waltz” Gray, genius winger, loyal Leeds man through and through and thoroughly bloody nice bloke, as Tim Nice-But-Dim might say – only this time, he’d be spot on.  It was Don Revie who once said of Eddie “If that lad hadn’t pulled a muscle, nobody would ever have heard of George Best”. That’s certainly fulsome praise and a hell of a tribute to a lavishly talented player, surely one of the very best ever to pull on a Leeds United shirt.

The memories of Eddie are many, mainly as that gifted player who would torture full-backs with a genial smile on his face, but also as a manager at Leeds, in charge of a precociously gifted set of youngsters who could have gone far with just that little bit of extra investment – sound familiar? Eddie has also served his time as a pundit, commenting on the latter-day performances of his beloved Leeds United, always straining so hard for impartiality and endeavouring to avoid accusations of bias – indeed, some out here sometimes feel he tried a little too hard in this respect.  But I’ve had the honour of meeting the man a few times, and one of these was on the commentary gantry at Elland Road – when he was preoccupied by the need to find me a chair to sit on, much to my bemused delight – so I’m well aware of Eddie’s professionalism as a broadcaster, just as was the case in his days as a player, manager and of course as the coach in those promising early David O’Leary days.

It is as a player that Eddie will best be remembered and revered by Leeds United fans of all ages.  Those who weren’t lucky enough to see him play in person may well have thrilled to video footage of his bravura performance in the 1970 FA Cup Final when, on an absolute pig of a pitch chopped-up by the Horse of the Year Show, he put in one of his greatest and most tantalising displays of sorcery out wide, reducing David Webb to a gibbering shadow of his normally efficient self.  Legend has it that Webb eventually had to be taken off with severe vapours and twisted blood – sadly he was to have his revenge in a replay gifted to Chelsea by the inevitable Sprake big-match cock-up.

Another vivid memory is of Eddie’s bewitching dance through the Burnley defence in a league match at Elland Road, when he took on and beat opponents just as he pleased before drilling a sublime near-post finish past a bewildered Peter Mellor in the Dingles goal.  It is this match that brings out Mr Gray’s slight perverse streak; he scored two that day and he always insists that it’s the other goal – a superbly-judged 35 yard lob at the Gelderd End – which he remembers as his best.  But nobody who has seen the way he destroyed a top class defence with that mazy run, will ever forget it.  It was a bit like the famous Ricky Villa goal for Spurs at Wembley – except much better.

More generally, it’s the characteristic hunched shape of Eddie Gray that you remember – never totally reliant on speed, he would beat his man with pure skill, manifesting itself in a variety of tricks, shuffles, stepovers and other sundry pieces of magic. His long-term thigh injury, sustained as a mere youngster, led him to rely far more on technique than pace and mobility, although he was no laggard either. But such were his sublime skills that he stands as possibly the last great example of the old-fashioned tricky winger, a man who could play an entire top-flight defence as a toreador plays a bull, a player of prodigious style, skill and élan.

Mere words cannot, of course, do justice to Eddie Gray the player or Eddie Gray the man. Leeds United have been privileged by the service and unstinting support of both, and they have not always played fair by him in his various roles at the club.  But Eddie Gray’s place in the Elland Road Hall of Fame is as secure as that of any other Legend in the whole history of the club; he is synonymous with Leeds, which is after all the place he has lived and worked for most of his life since the age of 15 – not that anyone could guess this whilst trying to understand his impenetrably Scottish accent.

It was my pleasure and privilege to watch Eddie Gray weave his magic for Leeds United many times between 1975 and the end of his playing days, by which time he had become a cultured full-back who also managed the team.  His long and illustrious career gives the lie to Brian Clough‘s infamous remark that, had he been a racehorse, he’d have been shot – a jibe at that long-standing injury.  This was surely the most oafish remark that even Clough – a quite legendary oaf – ever made.  Gray, that most mild-mannered of men, took exception – reminding Clough, who was his manager at the time, that his own career was ended by injury and that he should, therefore, know better than to say anything so crass.  I’d have given plenty to see Old Big’ead‘s face when that shot went home.

Eddie Gray – genius, magician, legend – and not least of these attributes, the nicest guy you could wish to meet.  A slightly overdue, just in time Happy Birthday, Eddie, and many, many happy returns.

Could Leeds United Seal Promotion AND Derby’s Relegation on April 25th? – by Rob Atkinson

Leeds derby

Leeds United and Derby County – not exactly the best of pals

Revenge, they say, is a dish best served cold. If it arrives for Leeds United in the shape of battered mutton cutlets and squarely amid the joy of our own promotion party then, cold or not, the taste of that dish would be exquisite and unforgettable.

Promotion, of course, would be enough and as good as a feast on its own account – but, if we are going to be greedy and demanding, then what could be better than seeing our heroes administer the coup de grâce to Derby County, and watch them spinning into League One, Wazza and all? And just as we finally ascend to the Promised Land, too.

It’s a scenario fit to tempt the palate of any Leeds fan who watched Derby celebrate as if they’d won promotion when our play-off campaign came to an abrupt halt at Elland Road last May. The fact that this represented a false dawn for our sheepish friends was cold comfort, although naturally we did enjoy seeing the Rams fail yet again with defeat to Aston Villa at Wembley. But that Elland Road night and the graceless cavorting of Lampard & Co left a bad taste that took a long time to fade away and, although Fwank has moved on, it’d still be incredibly delicious if Leeds and Derby were to leave the Championship in opposite directions at the end of this campaign.

And, do you know what? It could just happen, if only the football authorities can be trusted to do their bit, with the news today that Derby are being charged with breaches of the Financial Fair Play regulations over their dodgy stadium sale and lease back deal. A decent-sized points deduction for our erstwhile rivals, and they’d be plunged well and truly into the midst of the Championship basement battle – and who knows if they’d have the bottle to survive? Then there’d just be the small matter of Leeds managing not to bottle promotion themselves.

So, I’m beseeching the football gods tonight, not only for a trouble-free run in for my beloved Leeds United towards promotion back to the big time – but also that Derby do suffer the pain of relegation, with their fate finally to be sealed by defeat to the Whites at the incongruously named Pride Park just a day short of the 28th anniversary of us becoming the Last Champions. What with the play offs, Spygate and the Rams’ general “chip on the shoulder” unpleasantness, just how utterly satisfactory and cathartic would that be?

I won’t be counting any chickens, mind, much less any slaughtered sheep. But I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed in the hope of a hefty dollop of Schadenfreude coming the way of all of us three months hence. Almost a year on from that unforgettable night at Elland Road, it’d be the ultimate in revenge for Leeds fans, and the ultimate nightmare for those of a Derby persuasion. Surely, it’s not to much to ask?

Marching On Together – hopefully ever upwards and, fittingly enough, two leagues above those rightly terrified sheep.

Think Leeds Will Blow It? Wake Up and Smell the Costa Coffee – by Rob Atkinson

Can Leeds United Finally Begin a New Elland Road Decade in Style? – by Rob Atkinson

Beckford End

How the last decade started – here’s to the Twenties and more Leeds United success

A new Elland Road decade begins for Leeds United when they host Sheffield Wednesday this afternoon and, as has become usual for the Whites, they are starting that ten year span at the top of their league. It’s the fourth time in a row that Leeds have ushered in such a milestone as league leaders, having been at the top of the old Second Division at the end of the eighties; of the Premier League as the nineties made way for a new millennium; of League One when we saw out the “Noughties” – and now top of the Championship on our entry into what we must hope will be a successful if not roaring Twenties.

So far, so positive – but there are always lessons to be learned from history and, although our league position at the start of each decade has been consistently dominant, it’s not always followed that Elland Road’s first game of a new era has been all that much to write home about. In 1990, we saw a disappointing 1-1 home draw with Oldham, having ended the eighties top of the league despite a 0-1 reverse at Barnsley. The club acted decisively to freshen things up, signing Lee Chapman from Nottingham Forest. Chapman played and scored in United’s next league game, a 2-1 win at Blackburn to get the promotion charge back on track.

At the end of the nineties, there was much fevered and hopeful speculation in the national press about Man Utd seeing in the new millennium at the top of English football and, predictably, the general feeling was that it would be “fitting” if the media favourites could make such a one-off mark. Sadly for all concerned bar gleeful fans of Leeds United, the Whites managed to gatecrash that historical party, taking the honours for themselves, despite a late December defeat at Arsenal. So Leeds will forever be known as the top club when the millennium ticked over, although Man Utd are doubtless confident of matching that achievement for the year 3000. Sadly, Leeds again started a new epoch with disappointment at Elland Road, losing their first home match of the 2000s 1-2 against Aston Villa.

We’ll all remember how the last decade started, with Leeds again on top of the league, albeit only the third tier on this occasion. United had been dominant in League One, and had concluded the “Noughties” with a 4-2 away win at Stockport County to go into their FA Cup date at Old Trafford against champions Man Utd in very good heart. And that positive mindset led to United showing zero respect for the overwhelming favourites, to knock them out of the Cup with Jermaine Beckford’s solitary goal being sufficient unto the day. Ever since then, United fans have celebrated January the third, and rightly so, with Old Trafford’s partisan home end being rechristened by Whites supporters as “The Beckford End” in tribute to that famous finish. But again, Leeds could not follow up with a suitable celebration at Elland Road, being held to a 1-1 draw by Wycombe Wanderers on January 9th.

And so here we are, at the top of our league for the fourth new decade on the trot, courtesy of that epic 5-4 win a Birmingham which was followed on New Year’s Day by a gritty 1-1 draw at chief rivals West Bromwich Albion. Maybe this time, Leeds United will make their first home game of the new Twenties a positive experience, a cause for celebration as we consolidate our hard-earned league position. Sheffield Wednesday will certainly have plenty to say about that – but here’s to a good game, another dominant performance from United – and three more vital promotion points.

Happy New Decade!

Leeds Gloriously Gunned Down at Arsenal (But Don’t Mention the VAR) – by Rob Atkinson

Lacazette

Lacazette – kicking out in a non-violent, VAR-approved manner

Last night’s FA Cup Third Round tie at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium was, for Leeds United, not only a taste of things to come, but also the very definition of glorious defeat. The wider context of what we hope will finally be our promotion season puts the once magical allure of the FA Cup sharply into perspective. Put bluntly, it’s a competition that a club challenging to reach the Premier League can well do without – something Leeds United can save for headier days, when, for a newly promoted side, it may once more provide a realistic chance for silverware. Meanwhile, it was the manner of United’s defeat, rather than the fact of it, wherein lay Monday night’s glory and the source of all the plaudits.

Make no mistake, this FA Cup exit – or more accurately, the nature of the performance given by United – will stand in the top rank of our club’s FA Cup showings going way back to the last century. It was a big stage, a famous opponent, and – importantly, as it turned out – Leeds United’s first encounter with the infamous Video Assistant Referee (VAR) of which so much has been said while we’ve been watching on from the sidelines. Many United fans have been worrying out loud about the effect of this technological innovation upon our club as and when it ascends into the elite group. On the evidence of the Arsenal tie, those worries may well be justified – but more of that later.

As for the game itself, and the first half in particular, there was cause for great pride and no small measure of frank disbelief. We know about the “big” Premier League clubs, the brand of football played, the phenomenally costly overseas recruits who adorn our game with their brilliance. This incarnation of Arsenal is not quite the vintage that North London experienced under Monsieur Wenger, but they’re still a formidable prospect for most visiting teams, as manchester united discovered to their cost only a few days before Leeds rolled into town. The red united had no answer to Arsenal’s intensity and attack, and many thought that the Whites would be crushed in similar fashion – but the reality was somewhat different, as Leeds tore into their hosts from the first whistle and gave them no respite for the whole of that whirlwind first half.

I have to confess, I had my worries about the possibility of getting thumped – I wanted out of the Cup, but not in a humiliating manner. But, as the game got going, I found myself sitting there, jaw agape, hardly able to believe the extent of United’s dominance. They launched attack after attack, first to every second ball, pushing Arsenal back, bombarding the Gunners’ goal with attempt after attempt and generally bossing proceedings. My social media comment at half time was “This can’t last – but we’ve absolutely murdered Arsenal in that first half”.

And it didn’t last. Arsenal woke up after the break, and – although they never dominated as Leeds had done – they got their goal, and they managed to keep us out. So, glorious defeat, and this Leeds fanatic was happy enough.

As for VAR – if we do end up playing top flight football next season, then I see trouble ahead. The Emirates experience included the unaccountable kid-gloves treatment of Arsenal man Granit Xhaka, who could have been sent off twice for two pairs of yellow card offences – and then VAR saw Alexandre Lacazette kick out at United’s Gaetano Berardi, but deemed it unworthy of action. If that’s a foretaste of what we can expect in the Premier League, then, despite our burning desire to be up there, you have to wonder if it’s not better to travel hopefully than to arrive.

Complete Bookmakers’ Analysis on Leeds as Season Reaches Midpoint – by Rob Atkinson

Shield

Most Leeds fans are reasonably happy with the way things are going of late: The team has the meanest defence in the Championship; the team is unbeaten since the 5th October, with an 11-game streak yielding 27 points; and, most importantly, there is currently a 10-point cushion to Preston North End in 3rd place.

In short, Leeds are in prime position to make it back to the Premier League next season, perhaps while putting the Championship trophy in the cabinet on the way. However, it can be difficult to look at things objectively. So, in light of that, we are going to look at what the bookies are saying about Leeds for the run-in. We will also try to pinpoint the best value for backing the team after scouring dozens of betting sites.

Without further ado:

Title Odds:

Despite being two points behind West Brom, Leeds are still odds-on favourites for the title. The best price we can find is the 5/6 with Betway and Bet365, but it’s worth noting that some sites are as low as 8/13. It’s a nice position to be in, of course, but you must bear in mind that Leeds have Preston, Fulham, West Brom and Sheffield Wednesday in the next three weeks. If Bielsa and co are still in the same position in mid-January, we will be a lot more confident.

Promotion Odds:

As you might expect, bookies are really keen on the promotion chances of West Brom and Leeds, thanks to that big gap from second to third place. SkyBet has the best price currently at 1/12, although Leeds are trading a bit higher on betting exchanges. We would, however, ask you to be aware that the likes of Brentford and Fulham are offered around 5/2, so it’s not that the bookies are really sticking their necks out. Again, the busy Christmas period should really tell us whether Leeds have been overbought or not.

Straight Forecast:

A really interesting market if you believe Leeds and West Brom are guaranteed to finish in the Top 2. It’s even at Betfair money for Leeds to finish 1st and West Brom in second, whereas it’s 2/1 for the reverse. Smart punters can back both outcomes for a profit with the use of a betting offer. Sites like Freebets bring you the top free bet offers for all the bookies listed here, so consider visiting if you want to cover your own selection.

To Win the Playoffs:

This is always a muddied betting market, given the fact that teams in Leeds’ position are priced higher due to the fact it’s statistically unlikely they will enter the Playoffs. It’s 20/1 from Paddy Power that Leeds somehow fall of the cliff edge into the Playoff spots, then scramble their way back to the promised land with victory at Wembley on 25th May 2020.

stand

Top Scorer:

Finishing with an area that concerned Leeds fans in the early autumn – goals. Business has, of course, picked up in front of goal lately, and Leeds have scored two or more goals in seven of their last eight games. Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic is way out in front on 16 goals, and he is odds-on across the board to top the list at the end of the season. Patrick Bamford, sitting on nine goals at the moment, can be found as high as 33/1 with some bookmakers.  It’s a tall order, but we still have a huge number of games to play.

 

Posh Patrick Has Become Paddy the Baddy, and Leeds Fans Just Love It – by Rob Atkinson

Paddy the Baddy advising angry Reading fans to pipe down

There may well still be a small section of Leeds United fans who don’t quite “get” Patrick Bamford, although they’ve been noticeably quieter of late – as the majority of Whites fans seem finally to have cottoned on to our number nine’s value to the team. But there’s mounting evidence to suggest that Mr. Bamford certainly does “get” Leeds United, football’s perennial pantomime villains and the club opposing fans just love to hate. Bamford seems to have bought into United’s “the world’s against us and they can get stuffed” mindset, and just lately he’s been feeding off that siege mentality vibe, fanning the flames of opposition hate, thriving on all of that negative energy. It’s been a joy to witness for any Leeds fan who glories in that old maxim “Our history makes us strong, your hatred makes us stronger still”.

Perhaps Bamford’s more defiant and in your face attitude has its roots in his much tougher and more durable physicality this season. He seems to have developed a core of steel, giving as good as he takes in terms of the rough stuff while still retaining his cultured approach and all round ability. Bamford is certainly no soft touch nowadays, and his opponents will know they’ve been in a game after the ninety minute nightmare of trying to cope with his relentless work rate and intelligent movement. But, although this factor is appreciated by the more knowledgeable Leeds fans, it’s that extra edge, that emerging nasty streak and accompanying tendency to rub the noses of opposing players and fans well and truly in it, that has really caught the eye of his admirers this season. Football fans have a word for this phenomenon, but it’s not one that I’d want to use in a family-friendly blog, so I’ll move swiftly on.

But, whatever you want to call it, it’s certainly working wonders for Bamford, in terms of his effectiveness on the field as well as the esteem in which he’s held off it. Recent manifestations of Paddy the Baddy have been sighted at Luton and at Reading, where he has made a point of winding up frustrated home fans after United’s winning goals. Add this to his heartwarming tendency to give direct opponents a physically difficult battle, and you’ve got the kind of striker that will always find a place in Leeds United fans’ affections. Bamford himself admitted recently that he’s “feeling the love” from the fans, a happy situation for a hard-working and committed striker who doesn’t always get the breaks his application and skill deserve in the attacking third of the pitch.

The thing is, even when all this effort fails to reap a goals dividend, it’s becoming clear that Bamford’s contribution is vital to United’s season. On Tuesday night, right at the end of a hard-fought win over Hull City, we saw a neat demonstration of how our Patrick puts in a shift for the team, and is not discouraged when luck is not with him in terms of goals – which, let’s face it, are the life-blood of any striker. And it was somebody else’s match-clinching goal after 86 minutes on Tuesday that summed up the Bamford effect, as he combined with keeper Kiko Casilla to scramble clear a goal-bound effort from a Hull corner. The ball was immediately played upfield, and Bamford put in a lung-bursting run to the opposite penalty area to thud a shot against the visitors’ post. Luckless again, but his narrow miss rebounded to Gjanni Alioski, who buried the chance from a narrow angle to end the Tigers’ resistance.

And that, my fellow Leeds United fans, is the Bamford effect in a nutshell, and long may it continue to manifest itself to our advantage. Because, whether it’s Posh Patrick or Paddy the Baddy we’d rather cheer from the stands, both will have a big part to play if we really are finally going to go up to the Premier League.

 

Ben White Would be a Double Your Money Bargain for Leeds at ANY Price – by Rob Atkinson

Ben-White-Leeds

Ben White – limitless potential and a bargain at any price

Without any doubt, the revelation of the Leeds United season so far has been a young man called Ben White, a lad with no previous experience above League One level, having made zero appearances for his parent club Brighton. The challenge at Leeds for this comparative novice was a stern one. Signing on loan for the season, he came in the Elland Road players’ entrance almost as the iconic Pontus Jansson was making his exit with a shock move to Brentford. Among the United faithful, eyebrows were raised so high that they threatened to wind up on the backs of their owners’ necks. Teeth were gnashed and clothes rent asunder in biblical displays of grief and dismay. Pontus was gone, and we had this tyro no mark in his place, an almost comical proposition that had a section of the Whites support writing off Leeds’ promotion chances before a ball had been kicked. Oh, we of little faith.

Now, just nineteen games into a season that has seen White play every single minute of league action for Leeds so far, the doubters are having to gorge themselves on humble pie, to the extent that there may well be no room for the Christmas turkey in just a few short weeks. Mostly, they are happy to do this, because seeing this young colossus form a vital part of the Championship’s best defence has been a joyous experience. Bloggers such as yours truly have had to reach deeper and deeper into their bag of superlatives each week, and still it’s difficult to overstate just how integral to United’s success Ben White has been. I’ve seen him described as a latter-day Paul “Rolls Royce” Madeley, and it would be difficult around these parts to come up with a more flattering comparison than that. Others see a resemblance to Alan Hansen of Liverpool fame, still others point to the young Jonathan Woodgate, who saw at first hand last weekend just what United and White could do, as his Middlesbrough charges were swatted aside 4-0.

My own view is that White, who will doubtless face far sterner tests than the Boro men managed to set last Saturday, may well end up in a category entirely by himself – he has the potential to become truly peerless. Ben seems to have the lot – skill, composure, tenacity and that innate ability to read the game which is given only to the special few. My nearest comparison out of all the footballers I’ve seen in my 44 years as a fan, would be Franz Beckenbauer, the legendary Bayern Munich and West Germany icon of the seventies. In fact, if you could just graft a bit of moral compass onto der Kaiser, who was not above a bit of skulduggery as Leeds United fans are only too well aware, then you’d have a pretty close match. Ben White deserves to be mentioned in such company, he’s simply that good. He can play for and captain England, he can lift a World Cup, he can win titles, cups and Champions Leagues. Absolutely nothing is beyond this lad.

All of which is why I would say to Leeds United: whatever else you do recruitment-wise over the next couple of transfer windows, move heaven and earth to get Ben White. There is no price too high to make his capture anything but a thief’s bargain; whatever you pay, you could at least double your money five years down the line. It’s a Rio Ferdinand type scenario, buy for £18m, sell for £30m plus – but the return would inevitably be higher still. Never mind Financial Fair Play; dig deep and do whatever you have to do in order to get this player.

You know it makes sense.