Man Utd Fans Show Why Everybody Laughs at Them With Leeds’ Phillips Transfer Demand – by Rob Atkinson

They used to say that the only two things you can rely on in life are death and taxes. Those were more innocent times though, and the list has perhaps grown a little since – you can add Tory lies and elite greed, for instance, to life’s acknowledged certainties. And one more that I will advance with no fear of contradiction is the comical and deluded sense of entitlement exhibited by just about any and every fan of Manchester’s second club – the one that used to be half-decent when they had a manager everybody was scared of. Despite the fact that Fergie is long gone, with the current incumbent of the manager’s office best known for his failure at Cardiff City, these innocents – encouraged, it must be said, by a complaisant media – still believe they follow the biggest and best club in the world, and they do not hesitate to allow this delusion to lead them into flights of fantasy that are guaranteed to make proper football fans dissolve into helpless fits of laughter.

They’ve been at it again today, all over Twitter in the wake of Kalvin Phillips’ midfield masterclass throughout England’s victory over Croatia in their opening game of Euro 2020. Phillips was at his imperious best, supporting Declan Rice in the protection of England’s defence, but also surging forward to add bite and purpose to the Three Lions’ attacking endeavours. In the first half, Kalvin was the only player to complete every attempted pass, and he also had England’s only shot on target. And in the second period, the Yorkshire Pirlo provided the assist for the game’s only goal, with a deliciously weighted through ball for Raheem Sterling to score.

All of this was far too much for the supporters of the club I still – despite the rival claims of Chelsea, Spurs, Galatasaray and Bayern – despise the most. I hate them, not for any geographical rivalry, nor even from any misplaced envy. I detest them because they’re inherently detestable, and their legions of armchair supporters around the globe, frantically tapping away at keyboards in their eagerness to perpetuate their most fondly-held delusions, continually demonstrate the truth of this. Within an hour of Kalvin Phillips’ triumphant Wembley display, these tragic devotees of football’s funniest club were reminding us all of just why, despite all they’ve won over the years since Sky bought the game for them, they are routinely mocked and laughed at. “Sign Phillips!”, they were tweeting in their hundreds and thousands. And, the thing is, they truly believe that all they have to do is wish a thing, and Lo, it shall come to be. It seems to have passed them by that the game’s moved on, and that they’re no longer the Fergie-fuelled power of years gone by. They sit in their Devon armchairs and weave their fantasies, certain in their long-outdated belief that the club they worship from afar can still have anything they want.

Money talks, of course, and Leeds United – in the past – have too often listened to its siren song. But ask yourself – would you willingly swap the tutelage of Marcelo Bielsa for the year or two before the Glazers sack Solskjaer? I doubt that Kalvin, a lad with his feet firmly on the ground, would commit such an act of folly, even if Leeds were tempted to countenance what would be a disastrous PR decision. Phillips will be only too well aware of exactly who has realised his potential and guided him towards his current state of midfield mastery. I feel that there’s a fair way to go yet on that journey, and any club with realistic ambitions of recruiting the Yorkshire Pirlo will have to have deep, deep pockets.

Meanwhile, let’s all give thanks for those hilariously deluded Pride of Devon Twitteratti – it’d be a duller game without ’em. And now that Leeds United are seemingly embracing a new reality of competence and ambition – well, we need something to laugh at – don’t we?

Marching On Together

Leeds United’s Premier League Return Has Been a MASSIVE Disappointment (To all But Those Who Matter) – by Rob Atkinson

God

At the start of the Premier League campaign so recently completed, one of the big issues for discussion and debate was: how will Leeds United, 16 years exiled from the elite, fare on their long-delayed return? The battle lines were drawn, with Leeds haters, wishful thinkers, embittered ex-pros and various other pond life on one side – and Those Who Matter on the other.

The views were starkly polarised. For the various factions who, for one reason or another, wished Yorkshire’s only giant club nothing but misery, there was a fairly unanimous feeling that United’s tenure in the top flight would last for three seasons: autumn, winter and spring. The predicted final tables from back then make for amusing reading now, with Leeds appearing in many forecast bottom threes and with the likes of the previous season’s miracle club Sheffield Utd going from strength to strength.

My own forays into social media at this time were seen as baselessly optimistic, bordering on drug-fuelled delusion. One Arsenal fan of tender years, and even tenderer grey matter, could not believe that I refused to accept United’s inevitable fate with meek submissiveness. The poor lad got quite hot under the collar at my refusal to acquiesce, and eventually blocked me in a fit of outraged pique, promising to re-establish contact around Easter, when our fate was sealed. Still waiting on that one.

Then there was the Brighton fan who was so sure that we’d zero chance of survival without Ben White, condescendingly explaining as if to a child that sadly no deal was possible as we’d be direct rivals in the struggle against the drop. Haven’t heard from him lately, either.

On the other side of the coin, the optimism and positivity that characterised the online output of many prolific Leeds writers must have seemed mere bravado to the uninitiated. But we’d just witnessed two miraculous seasons in the Championship during which we’d proved we were the best outside the game’s elite. In the first season, we suffered a late attack of stage fright, and failed to get over the line – but in the second, we walked the league by ten points, to a background of wailing, gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair from the anti-Leeds fraternity who were witnessing their worst nightmare come true. They’d forecast another late season blow up and the departure of Marcelo Bielsa back to the Argentine, tail between legs. But we knew better – we knew that Bielsa is God incarnate, brought to God’s own county to return the chosen people to the Promised Land. So mote it be.

And thus it has come to pass, with yet more amusement in store for us as the haters refused to let the evidence of their own eyes divert them from their predictions of misery falling upon Elland Road. Karen Carney brought the undeserved ridicule of unreconstructed misogynists down upon the heads of female football pundits, with her silly theory that Leeds’s promotion was down to the COVID break. But this was never about gender – male pundits game out with theories just as daft if not dafter, proclaiming that Bielsa was a myth (Gabby “Gobby” Agbonlahor) and other exercises in mental frailty and lack of perspicacity from the likes of Andy Hinchliffe, Kris Boyd et al.

Overall, opinion has remained polarised. There was early encouragement for the nay-sayers when results were poor during a spell where Leeds were deprived by injury of the international defenders they’d signed in lieu of poor Ben White. That chorus of “we told you so” turned sulkily quiet with the emergence of Pascal Strujik and the recovery of Diego Llorente. Since those two were deployed in harness, United’s defensive performance has improved markedly, with Sky’s beloved graphic highlighting Leeds’s weakness from set pieces becoming more redundant with every passing week.

In the last ten games of the season (over a quarter of the campaign, let’s not forget), Leeds were second only to a resurgent not to say desperate Liverpool in the form table, and came within a short head of challenging for some form of European qualification – a “failure” which may well turn out to be a blessing in disguise. But that late season charge, unaided by any COVID break (sorry, Karen) has surely dispelled another myth beloved of Leeds-haters, the oft-mooted “Bielsa Burnout”. Sorry, lads (and lasses), but – like so many of your pet theories – the burnout was just so much pie in the sky, meaning you’ve had to gorge on the humble variety instead.

So, what of the future? Inevitably, there will be departures, and we’ve already bid a tearful farewell to two of our favourite sons in the Lion and the Magician. Thank you, thank you to Gaetano and Pablo, your legend status is secure and you’ll never be forgotten. Success elsewhere, lads, but you’ll always be welcome home anytime. There will inevitably be additions over the summer, and we’ve learned to trust the judgement and acumen of Victor Orta. He won’t let us down – and of course Marcelo Bielsa, or “God” as he’s fondly known hereabouts, will continue the biggest and best project of his incredible life.

I foresee more progress, a clear path ahead to establishment as a giant amongst the elites as Marcelo continues to build his legacy, and not least of all, more bitter disappointment for those whose happiness is entirely dependent on Leeds failing and falling. Let it be.

Marching On Together

Let’s Not Have England’s Best Interests Get in the Way of Hating Leeds United – by Rob Atkinson

Lord Bamford

I will say here and now that there is very little chance of England winning the delayed Euro ’20 tournament being held this summer. I hope I’m wrong about this, after all, I was nobbut five years old when the Three Lions actually won owt, and it’s become increasingly clear over the intervening decades that the chances of it happening again while I remain above ground to see it are slim and dwindling towards non-existent.

That’s not to say we don’t have a fine crop of players – we do. Yet that’s been equally true in the past, but we’ve always somehow contrived to fall short each and every time. I expect this depressing trend to continue from next month onward to the climax of the event on my 60th birthday.

The reason for my pessimism is best summed up thus; the football establishment in this country hates Leeds United, and that hatred is to the fore whenever decisions are being made that could perhaps reflect some credit on the Elland Road pariahs. The latest example is the frankly ridiculous choices made today regarding the England squad’s offensive depth. As ever, the claims of Patrick Bamford have been overlooked – despite the fact that he’s just enjoyed an outrageously productive Premier League season during which he has scored 17 goals, provided his share of assists, been victimised by VAR, run the gonads off some of the best defenders in the best league in the world, and has generally shown himself to be the nearest thing to Harry Kane that would potentially be available to England in the unfortunate circumstance of the boy Harry doing himself an unthinkable mischief.

I would say that, of course – I’m a Leeds United fan and I wear my yellow, white and blue blinkers accordingly. But it’s a view held outside the fold as well. One caller in to one of the football chat stations earlier today voiced the identical opinion – Bamford is the best Plan B we have should England find themselves Kaneless and bereft. And this was a Leicester City fan, doubtless still traumatised by Paddy’s world class finish at the King Power stadium a few months back, to go alongside his two assists in that 3-1 Leeds victory. But, regardless of what Bamford brings to the table, Mr. Southgate has opted to do without – a decision I feel will come back to haunt him. And I reiterate: I hope I’m wrong.

If anyone can explain to me a rationale behind the decision to exclude Paddy that doesn’t amount to bog-standard Leeds-hating, then I’d be very interested to hear it. Yes, I know our Kalvin has been selected – and I hope that he will recover from his worrying shoulder injury in time to play his part for the nation. Even so, the stirrings in the sewer end of the Press are currently to the effect that, with Rice and possibly Henderson available, Kalvin may just be superfluous. This despite the fact that the lad hasn’t put a foot wrong for England, even though he’s been used in a role far different from the one that’s allowed him to be the prime mover for Leeds. So I won’t hold my breath expecting Kalvin to enjoy England glory this summer.

On the face of it, Lord Bamford‘s exclusion from the squad defies all logic and reason and, in his place, I’d be distinctly miffed. And yet we may take some consolation from the fact that our aristocratic striker will benefit greatly from some rest over the summer, and will certainly be motivated by his exclusion to do even better for Leeds next time around.

There’s a case to be made too for Jack Harrison, who must surely have felt that he’d played himself to within an ace of England recognition. But the same problem presents itself – he’s just too Leeds. And for as long as the powers that be in the England setup continue to show a willingness to cut off their noses just to spite their smug faces, then our consistent record of failure over the past 55 years is likely to continue being extended into the forseeable future. And that’s a great shame.

Marching On Together

Leeds v Spurs: A View From the Oppo – by Ryan Curtis

El Loco

You lot really do big up Bielsa, don’t you?

The first game between our teams at our place played so much into our hands, space everywhere and avoidable mistakes meant our best players Kane and Son had a field day.

Fair enough the man at the helm has taken you guys into the Premier League and sustained you but this is Leeds United, you’ve spent a few quid, this should be fairly normal right?

The media do it too. When you were pumped by Manchester United away in an awful display they’re pining over the “open game” and how it’s always great to watch Leeds, anyone else and they’re just saying it’s awful defending.

And yet despite all of that, I’m jealous of you guys.

Not of the players, nor the style of play or even the performances but the simple fact your club have a manager seemingly with fine principles outside of football, given him stability, time and a proper influence over the club and unsurprisingly players buy into it.

Just from watching the respective Amazon docs on our two clubs, even despite friendly edits, you get the feeling the two ownerships are chalk and cheese. Your lot seem to be passionate football fans as opposed to Levy who definitely got picked last in the playground.

Now given the power he never had at school he wields it hiring and firing managers, creating no real footballing plan and worst of all signing us up to the greed ridden European Super Club without a whisper to fans.

For all the ‘Dirty Leeds’ stick you guys get I’ve always thought of you as a proper football club with proper football fans and I’ve seen the emotional rollercoaster in my Leeds pals over the years… often a rollercoaster that was just broken, or about to crash!

So it’s good to see you back, a proper club, with proper history and everything this Super League went against.

I feel even closer to Leeds for personal reasons recently as I sadly lost a pal of mine Jatinder. A proper Leeds lad and a massive fan. We’d have conversations over a few beers about the plight of Leeds and like you lot he was buzzing to see where you are now.

In these times we had to watch the funeral by online stream with part of it at Elland Road where his family hung a scarf and a picture on the Billy Bremner statue and all the staff came out to pay their respects, I thought that was a touch of class from the club.

I’m sure if Jit was around today we’d have struck a deal over a Guinness saying we don’t mind too much if Leeds have another defensive howler on Saturday as Spurs need the points more and perhaps it knocks Chelsea out of Europe which we’d both agree is a good thing.

Leeds can win all the other games, will have had a great season and are going in the right direction, and more importantly from what I’ve seen the soul of the club is very evident.

The same can’t be said for us.

A few more clubs like us could do with Marching On Together.

By Ryan Curtis

Spurs For Life

VAR Confirms Blades’ Baldock Escaped Red v Leeds as “He Bumped His Head and Felt Poorly” – by Rob Atkinson

Leeds’s Tyler Roberts Scythed Down – But No Red Card for Poorly Georgie

Officials in charge of VAR for Saturday’s Yorkshire Derby between Leeds United and Sheffield United have confirmed that the challenge on Leeds’ Tyler Roberts by George Baldock of the Blunts was reviewed by the Video Assistant Referee. Further, it has been confirmed by a source close to the VAR hub that the tackle was classifiable as violent conduct, meriting a straight red card. But it was felt on this occasion that, as poor George had bumped his head after scything Roberts down, and as he looked a bit poorly, no disciplinary action should be taken.

Baldock actually carried on for a good ten minutes before it was realised that the fact of him running around in small circles and getting nowhere was not a futile attempt to mark Raphinha, but was actually indicative of concussion following poor George’s nasty head bump. The VAR officials have expressed their sympathy and the earnest hope that Baldock had not aggravated his condition by his delayed substitution, when he clearly should have been sent off immediately.

Asked whether such latitude would have been shown to a Leeds United player under similar circumstances, with the roles reversed, our helpful VAR source chuckled cynically and replied, “Don’t be so bloody daft, lad”.

VAR is 2 and is still suffering from teething problems.

Note: thanks to those who have enquired after my health and well-being during the time since my last blog article. I have in fact been somewhat under the weather, but I’m hoping that normal service will be resumed shortly. In the meantime, I truly appreciate your concern, and hope you’ll understand it’s not been possible to reply to all well wishers individually. But thank you again, it means a lot.

Marching On Together

Opposition View: Tottenham Hotspur Host Leeds United – by Declan Wiseman

An iconic image from Spurs v Leeds of yesteryear, Dave Mackay gently pointing out the error of a cherubic Billy Bremner’s ways

For a welcome change, I’m handing over to an opposition fan today, for their preview of Saturday’s game for United at Spurs. Declan writes for the fansite Spurs For Life and I’m indebted to Andy who runs the site for offering me this piece ahead of our respective teams’ meeting at a much changed White Hart Lane. For me, this match is a free hit – Spurs are major challengers for honours, and it’d be understandable if we went down (fighting, of course) to defeat. However, there is no arrogance or hubris in this piece, as you’ll see from the score prediction (which I for one would happily accept). Anyway, now it’s over to Declan…

I’d like to extend the warmest welcome to Leeds United to our new stadium, for our 98th encounter and the first match between Tottenham and Leeds since 2013!

This clash comes at a crucial point of the season for us, flagging after topping the table. At this stage, the league is wide open in terms of the title race.

 But also there is a fierce battle to grasp some kind of foothold in mid-table. Just by stringing a few good results together, Leeds could well catch up with the top six, and our misery could be compounded.

The last match between the clubs was a 2-1 win for Leeds who dumped Spurs out of the FA Cup fourth round thanks to Luke Varney and Ross McCormack’s goals.

In what was a disappointing performance by Spurs, there was a flash of brilliance by Gareth Bale. The Welshman won’t be making a return against Leeds, though this was a piece of skill that stuck in the memory.

Sam Byram came flying out to challenge for what looked like a certain tackle, but Bale ran onto his lengthy first touch, completing a roulette before skinning Byram. His cross came to nothing, sadly.

Ex-Leeds academy star Jack Clarke is now in the North London lily-white strip. He’s yet to make a real impression at the club; the winger has been restricted to just two Europa League cameos.

It is unlikely that Clarke will be able to return to face his former club, utilised in the Premier League 2 for now.

Mourinho has a perfect record against Bielsa so far, albeit only in the four meetings in La Liga. Again, the two haven’t met in a competitive match since 2013.

I am always intrigued to watch Patrick Bamford play. He is an intelligent player, but not just in terms of football. He turned down Harvard, and after successive loans away from Chelsea, chose to break away from London to play for Middlesbrough. And then he went on to Leeds where he has scored 36 goals in 87 appearances.

He’s the top goal scorer thus far for The Whites and the 19th all-time highest scorer for the club. With Tottenham’s defensive play, Bamford will have to cut out his chances wisely.

However, Spurs have had a frustratingly bad habit of conceding late in matches recently. We’ve actually set a record for doing this year.  

Tottenham have dropped nine points in 2020-21 with goals conceded in the last 10 minutes of matches, the most of any Premier League club (Opta).

But I reckon Spurs’ defensive frailty is matched by Leeds’. They were the first team to concede 30 goals this season, in the 6-2 defeat against Manchester United.

Despite shipping so many goals, it is at least in the name of attacking football. Bielsa has stuck by his methods.

“The best way to win is to play well. So nobody can say I put style over results,” he said. At Spurs we have a manager who also sticks to his guns, but with much less appealing football.

The clash of styles on Saturday will likely be a high press against a low block and counter. Then again, Mourinho has been known to adapt his tactics accordingly to what challenges he faces.

On paper, this looks like an exciting battle between the clubs who have rarely played each other lately, and with their managers’ conflicting styles, should prove to be an exciting encounter.

PREDICTION: Tottenham 1-1 Leeds United. (Bamford to score a late equaliser after Spurs sit back to defend another 1-0 lead!

Leeds WILL Win the Premier League! Carney’s Worry for New COVID Lockdown – by Rob Atkinson

LUFC Champions? Please, not again, says Karen Carney

Karen Carney, TV Sport’s super pundit, has issued a solemn warning over the likely consequences for football should another blanket lockdown be imposed with all fixtures suspended indefinitely. Carney is worried that such a measure would inevitably lead to Leeds winning the Premier League title, just as the lockdown of early 2020 was solely responsible for United winning the Championship title last season.

“Make no mistake about it”, frothed Carney. “Leeds United would end up as Champions – and we all know that nobody wants that. Look what happened last year, Leeds had lost every game before lockdown due to the well-known Bielsa blowup meltdown crackup tiredness thingy, they were rock bottom of the Championship and certs for relegation, then, after they’d had a good rest – a much better rest than any other team – they go on this amazing run, winning every game 7-0, and end up ten points clear of West Brom, who we know for a fact are a much better team.”

When asked about elements of her theory, including the “much better rest” part, as well as WBA being much better than a team against whom they’ve just suffered a 5-0 battering, Ms Carney merely curled her lip and said “Wibble”.

Leeds United were approached by our Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything roving reporter for their response, and guardedly commented “Well, what else can you expect from the Karens of this world? But, let’s face it, she’s not half as thick as Merson, Wilder and Agbonlahor…”

Sam Allardyce is 66, and has had enough of football for this season.

Marching On Together

Leeds United are Right: Gender is No Excuse for Amateurishly Stupid Punditry – by Rob Atkinson

Karen Carney – going viral with COVID theory

As so often with Leeds United, a fine win capping a great performance is possibly going to be overshadowed by a storm in a teacup, and on this occasion the person brewing up the trouble is a pundit on the lamentable Amazon Prime live coverage of United’s game at West Brom. Let’s get one thing straight before we go any further. The gender part of this argument is sod all to do with my opinion of what’s been said in the wake of Leeds’ impressive 5-0 demolition of WBA. The pundit concerned, one Karen Carney, is self-evidently a woman, but that has nothing at all to do with the vacuously stupid remark she made after the match, to the effect that Leeds United probably secured promotion last season thanks to the initial COVID lockdown, which interrupted football for around three months. The break gave us a rest, you see – just us, nobody else, apparently. I’ve heard some crackpot theories in my time, but that one really takes the biscuit.

At the risk of introducing a few facts into this issue, when facts appear to be anathema to Ms Carney, Leeds United, after an earlier rocky spell, had just reeled off five successive wins immediately prior to the cessation of the league programme, recording clean sheets in all of them. When football resumed, with Leeds nicely rested according to Karen’s world view, United proceeded to lose their first game back 0-2 at Cardiff. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, with the more pessimistic Leeds fans bemoaning the COVID break, which seemed to have robbed us of the impetus we’d generated before lockdown. Happily, Leeds hit form again, and that Cardiff defeat was our last, as United recorded seven further wins (two of them with a blistering post-title winning hangover) and one solitary draw to win the league by ten clear points. Ms Carney’s enormous intellect seems to have missed the fact that this was the levellest of level playing fields, with each club having had the same “break” in their programme; it was always going to be down to which club handled such an extraordinary, unprecedented situation with the most resolution and professionalism. Let the record show that that was Leeds United, beyond any shadow of a doubt.

Given the above – and I’d be interested or more likely amused to hear any counter arguments – Karen Carney’s comments on Tuesday night were a hymn to rank amateurism, lazy, inaccurate punditry, and gross stupidity. And yet various people are screeching in horror, because the official Leeds United Twitter account had the nerve to mock this hapless woman’s ridiculous comments. To his eternal credit, Leeds owner Andrea Radrizanni took ultimate responsibility for the club’s tweet, rejecting any criticism of it on the grounds that Carney’s comments were “completely unnecessary and disrespectful to our club”. Well, quite. And well said, sir.

As usual, though, various parties are leaping on the misogyny bandwagon and claiming that it is so, so wrong to out Carney as a fool in this way. There are various problems with this. Firstly, Carney is not the only person to have been berated or mocked by possibly the most laconically witty and barbed club Twitter account of them all. Gabby Agbonlahor has had some this season, and quite rightly so, for his various inane remarks before and since United’s 3-0 dismissal of his beloved Villa. I’m acutely aware of this, because I had my say about that one, as I did more recently (on Twitter) when another inept pundit, Andy Hinchliffe, spoke fluent rubbish in and around Unted’s home game against Burnley the other day. For some reason, Messrs Agbonlahor and Hinchliffe did not immediately have the distaff side flocking to their defence – I wonder why?

Speaking rubbish on a public platform and then having people of any gender defend you because you happen to lack a Y chromosome is hardly unknown. But it’s not healthy and it’s not helpful – I’d go so far as to argue that it’s absolutely inimical to the cause of equality which I, for one, happen to hold dear. If you’re prepared to stand up and voice controversial (ie crap) opinions, then you have to be equally prepared to be held accountable for them. Either that, or we’re heading down a slippery slope whereby people who dress neither right nor left are able to say what they like with absolute impunity, as long as it’s merely crass and stupid, and not actually actionable.

Personally, I’m sick to the back teeth of lazy, amateurish comment as applied to my beloved club, particularly hoary old myths like Marcelo Bielsa‘s teams “always blowing up”. It winds me up beyond belief, whatever the provenance. When I saw Karen Carney spouting such arrant crap tonight, that was the flavour of my resulting ire – that here was another clueless pundit nicking a living by peddling easily disposed of myths about Leeds United. The only time her gender struck me was when I thought to myself, you’ve done the other female pundits no favours there, lass. I truly believe that it’s harder for a woman to make a mark in an area such as football punditry than it should be, because of the preponderance of men, some of them pretty poor fish like Agbonlahor and Hinchliffe. That being the case, a woman really should try to avoid the same lazy and cliched approach of her male counterparts, lest she strengthen the argument of those Neanderthals who hold that women should have no place in football. I certainly don’t hold that view, and that is why, when I hear the likes of Carney talking rubbish and being disrespectful of honest professionals, I will call it out – just as I have with equivalent male idiots. Gender is no excuse, and it’s no magic shield either. Those who argue that it should be need to radically rethink their own view of exactly what equality is all about.

Marching On Together

Leeds Must Avoid Giving Home Ref Taylor Any Excuse to Penalise Them Today – by Rob Atkinson

Anthony Taylor’s predecessor in his man u heyday

Let’s face it, it’ll be a bit of a shock if there isn’t a penalty awarded against Leeds United today. The media darlings of man u seem to be able to rack up the spot kicks if any opposing player so much as glances at Rashford & Co in the box, and with today’s ref being a mancunian from a family of Old Trafford season ticket holders, it would hardly be a surprise to see at least one awarded today.

Leeds, we understand, are going to venture into the swamp playing their normal game, which tends to give knowledgeable Whites fans the collywobbles, thinking of all that space for St Marcus to sprint into, prior to doing the half pike with double twist once in our area. The concentration from Leeds today will have to be exemplary if we’re to avoid that scenario, along with the adjacent one of having somebody vital red carded early doors. Both of these doom-laden outcomes have come about in my recent nightmares, and they could so easily translate into reality against the Pride of Devon later this afternoon.

Whatever happens, we will doubtless carry on as per the instructions of our deity incarnate, Marcelo Bielsa. And that’s just as it should be, as he’s long ago earned the right to our unquestioning trust and confidence. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that we can acquit ourselves well against the fourteen men of Manchester, and that our eleven lads will walk out there with heads held high and do battle as we’d all wish them to.

In the circumstances, I’d settle for a draw.

Marching On Together

FA Defends Appointment of Man U Fan for Home Fixture Against Leeds United – by Rob Atkinson

Paul Pogba congratulates Taylor on another fine decision for Man Utd

In a move hardly calculated to reinforce perceptions of fairness and impartiality, the FA have chosen Wythenshawe born official Anthony Taylor as referee for this Sunday’s meeting of Manchester United and Leeds United at Old Trafford (kick off 4:30pm). It is, of course, quite possible that this appointment is free from any taint of bias and favouritism. The question remains: with the choice of any Premier League referee, why pick one from a man u stronghold six miles from Old Trafford, whose family are strongly rumoured to hold season tickets for the Red Devils?

Actually, it’s not quite true to say that any Premier League referee could have been picked to referee this particular match, as Yorkshire’s Martin Atkinson is ineligible due to his White Rose roots – do you begin to see the difficulty here?

The problem for Anthony Taylor is that he does not wish to be excluded from involvement in some of the so-called “biggest games in the Premier League calendar”, and is therefore most anxious to scotch any rumours that he has any emotional ties to Old Trafford. In fact, he claims, winking furiously and concealing crossed fingers behind his back, he’s a supporter of Altrincham FC – so that’s ok then.

It is further claimed in defence of Mr Taylor’s impartiality that he is a founder member of a Manchester-wide organisation of football people which was formed to promote Mancunian football as a whole, rather than the interests of any one club. Soccer Can Unite Manchester (SCUM) has been close to Anthony’s heart for many years, according to one neutral Mancunian who wished to be known only as Fred the Red. Another witness for Mr Taylor who doesn’t even live in Manchester, hailing instead from Devon, has pointed out that Leeds United’s last visit to Old Trafford had ended up with man u going out of the FA Cup. “We’m didn’t even get a penalty and Jerrrmaaaaine Beckford was only a yaaaaaarrrd onsoide, and it wasn’t fair,” said our man in Ilfracombe, neutrally, “So ‘opefully Aaaaanthony can help set thaaaat record straight”.

All eyes will be on Anthony Taylor this Sunday, which is perhaps not the most conducive of circumstances in which to operate in a professional manner. Everybody is also aware that Man U have had an extraordinarily large number of penalties awarded this season and last, and many punters are placing heavy bets, not on whether the home side will get a spot kick, but rather on how many they will get, with two being the marginal favourite. But the FA have defended their appointment of Mr Taylor, saying “We are sure that, as Howard Webb has now retired, Anthony is the best possible man for this match, and that he will act entirely as we expect him to. Come on yooouu Reeee-eds!”

Alan Hardaker, 108, has let it be known (through a medium) that he entirely approves of this appointment.