Leeds Utd Should Succeed Where Villa Failed at Luton Town   –   by Rob Atkinson

The Giant-killing field of Kenilworth Road

One swallow does not a summer make – but Leeds United‘s opening victory of the season at Sheffield Wednesday has brought with it real hope of brighter times to come. Tuesday night’s tricky looking EFL Cup tie at Luton Town, conquerors in the previous round of Aston Villa, could go a long way towards validating that hope.

A win at Luton and secure progress to the next stage of this competition would increase the burgeoning feelgood factor in and around the United squad. Comments during the Sheffield Wednesday encounter from the Sky Sports News channel repeatedly picked up on the “togetherness” of the Leeds players, even before the Whites took the lead and then sealed a derby-day win. That word togetherness speaks volumes for the mentally-attuned state of a team, and it was a novel and welcome thing to hear about a group of players wearing that famous white shirt. 

Success at Luton, followed if possible by something from Nottingham Forest away, and we’d head into the international break in fine fettle. On the other hand, defeat tonight would be no disaster – but the pressure would then be on to make amends at the City Ground next weekend.

It won’t be easy at Luton, famed cup fighters who made comparatively short work of Aston Villa. It never has been easy down there, many a nominally more illustrious team having been slain on that tight little ground with the row of conservatories along one side of the pitch. But, if United can retain and build on that precious togetherness, and with the threat they undoubtedly carry going forward, then they can and should prevail.

So much will depend on gaffer Garry Monk‘s team selection, but there is now a semblance of strength in depth about United’s squad. Monk will have his priorities straight, yet he’s expressed a desire to “go far” in this competition, and he’ll want to avoid the fright that Fleetwood gave his men – so a relatively powerful team is likely to take the field against the Hatters. 

On balance, therefore, and with a post-Wendies sense of optimism, I shall go for a 3-1 United win, hopefully in regulation time. And then? – well, it’s a case of “bring on the Big Boys”. Maybe even someone at the very top.

Hull City, anybody…?

High Time Sheffield Wednesday Fans Accept Leeds United as Yorkshire’s Top Club – by Rob Atkinson

The Wednesday victorious in the century before last

The Wednesday, victorious in the century before last

After the Yorkshire derby at Hillsborough this weekend – and in the light of Leeds United‘s comfortable 2-0 victory over Sheffield Wednesday – there is one issue that needs to be put to bed once and for all, for the sake of all right-minded Leeds fans, deluded Wendies – and Yorkshire people everywhere.

If you hang around long enough as a football fan, it can’t escape your notice that self-delusion is extremely high on the list of characteristics defining your average club supporter. It’s quite probably a defence mechanism of sorts, helping hapless fanatics deal with the many disappointments their heroes will visit upon them as they faithfully follow their club’s fortunes through thin and, most likely, thinner.

Whatever the cause, this tendency to delude oneself is powerful indeed, and rare is the football fan who hasn’t, at some time or another, managed to fool themselves completely. Bobble hats and scarves have become slightly passé as part of the fan’s wardrobe essentials – but it seems that, for most, a massive pair of blinkers is still de rigueur, whoever you support.

Two of the very biggest pairs of blinkers undoubtedly belong to the supporters of a couple of clubs in the north of England, one on the wrong side of the Pennines, and one on the wrong side of the West/South Yorkshire civilisation threshold. Man U have long been famous for the eagerness with which their notoriously insecure and needy body of support will lap up obvious myths like “Biggest Club in the World” and so on. Even to this day, new signings must chant the mantra upon entering in the portals at the Theatre of Hollow Myths – “I’ve signed for the Biggest Club in the World” they intone, dutifully, and the Man U faithful smile happily in their Devon armchairs, whilst the denizens of Madrid and Barcelona, not to mention Milan and Munich, howl helplessly with laughter. Nobody is fooled and this, more than any other, is the reason why Man U fans, despite their club’s impressive honours roll, are routinely laughed at and dismissed as clueless glory-hunters.

Back in the rightly famed Broad Acres, there exists a lesser but still highly risible Band of the Deluded, bringing me to the real point of this article. These people live, move and have their being in Sheffield, an industrial graveyard of ruined splendour and very little current appeal. They wear blue and white, they have local rivals who wear red and white – and yet they measure their every success or failure in terms of the history and achievements of Leeds United, a club 35 miles to the north, which is known around the world as the Pride of Yorkshire. But the fans of Sheffield Wednesday, known semi-affectionately as “Wendies” to amused Leeds fans, will hotly deny accusations of obsession. That, in itself, is funny – given the Leeds-centric nature of the online output from virtual Owls. But more hilarious yet is the earnest and curiously innocent belief of the average Wendy in the street that he or she follows “Yorkshire’s Most Successful Club“.

The rationale, if such it can be called, behind such a bizarre belief is based upon a crude count-up of trophies won since the dawn of time. Sheffield Wednesday is among the oldest clubs in the professional game – Leeds United, at just under a hundred years old, is a comparatively youthful spring chicken. That being the case, it will be of no surprise that the Wednesday honours list goes back rather further than the Leeds one. And it is the sheer, epochal size of that time difference that really matters here.

Leeds United had endured a depressingly uneventful existence until the arrival and masterly stewardship of a certain Don Revie. Since that time, coinciding uncannily with my own date of birth, Leeds have been the club in Yorkshire, beyond any dispute or fanciful wishful thinking from the south of that county. From a position of never having won so much as an egg cup beyond one solitary second division title in the twenties, Leeds suddenly started to dominate the English game, accruing honours in the modern era to a degree and after a fashion hitherto unknown elsewhere.

The period after Revie has been comparatively barren – and yet the Whites have still been far more successful in those forty years than any Yorkshire “rival”. The fact of the matter is that, in the post-war period from 1946 onwards, and allowing for a 15 year wait for Revie to turn up, it’s been Leeds first and the rest nowhere, all the way, barring one solitary League Cup success for the Wendies – the goal sweetly scored against man u, almost inevitably, by a Leeds United product in John Sheridan.

For Sheffield Wednesday’s tangible rewards, apart from that single League Cup, you have to go way, way back. Not since 1935 has the FA Cup come to Sheffield. The two triumphs before that were in the pre-Wembley era, when the likes of Bury were winning FA Cups (and when Leeds United didn’t even exist). In those days, Sheffield Wednesday were simply “The Wednesday“, and they were a power back in the 20th century’s “Noughties”. They won two league titles, and added two more at the end of the 1920s. Their last honour before the ’91 League Cup was that mid-thirties FA Cup win against West Bromwich Albion. And then – nothing, until Shez popped up with the winner at modern-day Wembley against man u – the year before Leeds United became the Football League’s Last Champions.

Comparisons between eras are rarely helpful and often invidious – they’re mainly useful for disproving old-wives’ tales or, come to that, young Wendies’ tales. There can be no doubt at all that, in the years and decades since the bulk of the Sheffield honours were won, Football as a whole moved on massively; it became far more competitive and professional, broadened its scope to include European competition as standard and widened its appeal as the number one sport in the entire world. It goes without saying that Sheffield Wednesday have never won a European honour – but, significantly they’ve won only one trophy since the advent of colour TV, and their next most recent success came when George the Fifth was on the throne and a certain Herr Hitler was flexing his muscles for his own forthcoming European campaigns. Leeds prospered and dominated in a ruthless era that would see the strolling performers of the early 20th century melt like wax figures in a furnace.

For the question of who the world regards as Yorkshire’s number one – well, that isn’t even a question, really. In the eyes of the world, Yorkshire football is Leeds United first and foremost, plus sundry other outfits who tend to blur anonymously into each other. It’s certainly true to say that Wednesday would be the only even halfway meaningful rivals – Huddersfield Town have done nothing outside of the 1920s, and the rest are an embarrassment, a motley collection of failure and woe.

But even Wednesday, with their comparatively honour-laden (if ancient) history, cannot possibly hold a candle to Leeds United. Wendies rail angrily against this self-evident fact; they will produce any old trophy they can dig up in support of their hopeless position – The Late Victorian Garland for Services to Hacking and Scrimmaging, perhaps – or the Pathé News Cockerel Award for Monochrome Achievements of the Thirties. But the modern supremacy of Leeds United eclipses any or all of that, together with anything more genuine, with effortless ease.

The brutal fact of the matter is that anyone who can now remember Wednesday as Champions is currently looking down the barrel of their 100th birthday and a telegram from the Queen. The Owls have simply not been successful enough in the modern era to be compared favourably with a club in Leeds who have not only won the lot, but won it within the lifetime of one of its foremost fans (that’s me, folks). Wednesday have a proud history, and their fans rightly take pride in the very venerability of that history. But more recent arid failure denies them the right to be held as successful, or even that big. Big clubs win League Titles, and the Wendies haven’t done that since Ena Sharples was a lass.

Delusions aren’t necessarily bad things. They can comfort the insecure and bolster those who need to be bolstered. But they’re there to be shot down too, especially when the deluded are crowing that bit too busily over their false pretensions to size, success and status in England’s finest county. Those honours rightfully belong to Leeds United, as is widely and correctly acknowledged around the world – and this piece is simply here to set that record straight.

So, as emphasised by the final score at Hillsborough on Saturday, there is no doubt at all that Leeds United rule Yorkshire football still, as they have done now for well over half a century. It’s a bitter and unwelcome truth for the Wendies – but they really do need to suck it up.

Leeds Kop Critics Can’t Complain at Chris Wood Reaction   –   by Rob Atkinson


Considering that last night’s draw against Fulham was settled so very late and so very spectacularly too, with a Chris Wood bicycle kick at the Kop End earning a point for Leeds United, some of the reaction today has been rather bizarre, to say the least. 

With many clubs, such a picture goal at the last gasp would be greeted with a relief bordering on ecstasy. Leeds fans, of course,  have to be a bit different. Their heroes were less than a minute from opening this season with three consecutive defeats, a shameful start unheard of for the last eighty years. Doom and gloom was on the menu, with nary a crumb of comfort. 

Then, the nominated scapegoat of the evening, a player in Chris Wood struggling for form and confidence, who had been taking some vicious stick throughout the ninety minutes, finally came good – and Leeds mercifully had their first point of the season. And yet today, the focus has not been exclusively on the brilliance and timeliness of Wood’s finish, but largely on his so-called cheek in letting the crowd know he’d not appreciated their particular brand of “support”.

This tendency to barrack players is not exclusively a Leeds United phenomenon, of course. But it’s long been a particular problem with the Leeds faithful, especially at Elland Road, where generation after generation of United players, as far back as Terry Yorath in my experience, have gone in fear and trembling of the abuse they will receive should they have an “off day”. Or, indeed, an off night, as Wood had undoubtedly experienced up until the third minute of stoppage time yesterday evening.

It’s a brand of “support” that has many an away fan visiting LS11 scratching their heads in bemusement. People beg leave to wonder how such wholesale and sustained carping and criticism is meant to encourage and motivate a player. But that’s just one side of the problem.

The other side comes when the player on the receiving end of the abuse actually manages to come through it all and, in the time-honoured style of a Roy of the Rovers, save his team at the eleventh hour. Should this player then presume to gesture to the crowd, as if to say “There you go – now shut it”, the shock and hurt of the fans, who had previously been venting their spleen, is something to behold. It’s as if they feel they have unfettered licence to hurl abuse, but should be completely immune from any response from their target. Weird. 

Chris Wood did react last night, relatively mildly in the circumstances, and it’s difficult for any rational onlooker to criticise him for it. Yes, he’d had a poor game. Yes, he’d missed chances. And certainly his work rate and willingness to chase and harry defenders compared poorly to that of his strike partner Marcus Antonsson. But the level of stick Wood took throughout the piece, in unison from a self-appointed jury of thousands, was unwarranted and arguably counter-productive. It would have taken a saint to have restrained himself from showing some kind of reaction in his moment of triumph. And, let’s face it, you don’t get saints in Leeds United shirts. 

That cupping of the ear towards the Kop, plainly intended to convey “You were saying…?” to the massed moaners and whingers behind the goal, has reaped a petulant reaction from many of those who’d been blithely handing out the stick. How dare he, was an abridged consensus. Surely players are there to take abuse without a flicker of emotion or reaction. But even footballers are only human. And it’s happened before, in a less restrained manner too. 

I can well remember, many moons ago, a certain Mark Aizlewood taking appalling stick throughout one game, which he then won with a late goal at that same Kop End. Aizlewood did not content himself with a mild cupped ear. He faced the Gelderd hordes eyeball to eyeball and coldly fired a V-sign at his tormentors. Now that is probably going too far, and Aizlewood never played for United again. But you can understand the frustration of a pro, outnumbered and vilified by thousands of amateurs who feel that the admission money they’ve paid affords them the right to scream anything they like at their representatives on the park. 

Next to Aizlewood’s two-fingered revolt, Wood’s gesture last night was mild indeed. But the reaction, in these days of social media, has been even more hysterical than when Aizlewood flicked his V-sign so long ago. And it’s a shame because, after all, it was a very special and spectacular goal, one that saved us from another defeat, the type of goal too that could well lead to the boost in confidence a player like Wood so sorely needs. And what contribution to such a return of confidence would the Gelderd End Abuse Society have made? I’ll tell you. None at all. 

Supporters are there to support, but it’s ok to express displeasure and disapproval too, of course it is. Match tickets are expensive, and the poor form of your favourites is galling to behold. But there’s a line, and Leeds fans do tend to cross it distressingly often. It’s frequently said that a crowd like Leeds getting behind their team is worth a goal start, and I’ve seen this proved often enough. But, in the opposite mood, that same crowd can destroy a player and chase them through the Elland Road exit door. I’ve see that, too – and it’s not what I’d call support.

Something else frequently said is that it takes a certain strength of character to play for a club and a crowd like Leeds United. Some very good players have failed to make it at Elland Road, and there’s been this suspicion that they’ve lacked the necessary “bottle”. There’s probably something in that, and maybe the club’s woes in the last decade or so are grounded in the bottler/fighter ratio being skewed unfortunately away from the fighter type. In other words, we’ve had too many talented players who have just lacked the character to succeed at a club like Leeds with the kind of truculent, impatient crowd we have.

Chris Wood had had a nightmare last night, he could hardly put a foot or a head right all evening long. But he came through, ignored the abuse manfully, kept trying and getting in there where it hurts – and he ended up getting his just reward. That, to my mind, is the type of character we need – and maybe the crowd will come around at length to that point of view. In the meantime, Wood’s gesture to the Kop last night said that he is not weak enough to be destroyed by the abuse from the stands, that the respect of his fellow pros will see him through. It was a reaction I applaud every bit as much as I applauded his goal, and I think it speaks volumes for the guts and character of our number nine.

It’s the kind of attitude, let’s face it, that we’re going to need plenty of in the coming months. So perhaps the Kop critics will manage to be a bit less precious and indeed a lot less hypocritical from now on, should they chance to have some of their constant, destructive abuse thrown back in their faces every now and then as a tough season progresses. Or perhaps they’ll even decide to see the light, and offer a bit more encouragement and support instead. 

Yes, perhaps indeed. But, knowing that vociferous section of our support as I do, I won’t be holding my breath. 

Bridcutt Signing Confidently Expected in Time for Leeds 2019 Centenary Season – by Rob Atkinson

Bridcutt

Bridcutt – it could just be a matter of years now

Leeds United and Sunderland are now so close in their negotiations over midfielder Liam Bridcutt, that discussions over personal terms could begin as soon as the Christmas after next. If all goes well, that should pave the way for the combative former United loanee to join his new team-mates for at least part of the Elland Road club’s Centenary season, 2018/19.

More on this fast-developing story sometime in 2017, or after the finalisation of Brexit, whichever is the sooner.

Promise of Better Things to Come, Despite Leeds’ Poor Start   –   by Rob Atkinson

Two matches, two distinctly average opponents, two defeats. On the face of it, Leeds United’s start to the Championship season 2016/17 could hardly have been worse. There are obvious deficiencies in the squad, readily apparent areas of the team that require strengthening or replacing. And yet, all is not doom and gloom. Even given our pointless start, there are some promising signs that, given time, a pattern may well emerge that will be pleasing to the eye as well as effective on the park.

The problem with a radical change in approach, alongside wholesale squad additions, is that it takes a while to bed in, just as the new personnel have to be given the chance to find their feet in unfamiliar surroundings. These factors can explain, if not completely excuse, negative early-season results. But it must be remembered that this is a new Leeds. There’s a new manager with new ideas, there’s a new plan and new players in every department. More than likely, the recruitment is not finished. We can expect some departures too. 

One departure that could be expected to cause tearing of hair and rending of garments would be that of want-away tyro left-back Charlie Taylor. Not so long back, I begged leave to doubt that the boy Charlie actually had his heart set on a move at all. I felt that, perhaps, we were being spun a line, as has undoubtedly happened before.

The thing is, though, Taylor’s performances have not been those of a lad whose heart is currently pumping yellow, white and blue. And, while it may well sound all grimly determined and steely-eyed to say we’d rather lose him for nowt when his deal runs down, than sell him for millions now, those are not the kind of principles, or indeed the real-life economics, we can afford to follow. If Taylor’s heart is elsewhere, then let him follow it through the exit door while there’s some cash to be made and (maybe) reinvested. It’d would be foolish to act or argue otherwise, in this blog’s view.

Elsewhere, the picture does look more promising, with glimpses of real promise showing fro the likes of Roofe, Antonsson, Sacko and our own product Ronaldo Vieira. The problem seems to be that many of these players cannot yet function to their potential because the shape and effectiveness of the team as a whole are being negatively affected by the lack of a ball-winning, holding, defensive midfielder. If the signings of Bridcutt and/or Osman ever get over the line, I would expect the whole to start looking like more than the sum of the parts. Up to now, it’s looked rather less. 

It sounds like an odd thing to say, but I do feel there is much excitement and the prospect of some spectacular performances in the offing – once the groundwork has been done and some proper foundations are in place. Preparations in the early part of the close season were hindered by some needless shilly-shallying over the future of former manager Steve Evans. Whatever the rights and wrongs of this, it wasn’t ideal in terms of getting ready for the season ahead and, in certain respects, we are still suffering from that two defeats into the season. The important thing now is that certain fingers should stay well away from the panic button. Yet another early season brainfart from our unstable owner is the last thing we need now that we have committed to the Monk style of football and recruited our playing staff accordingly.

No, we must aim to steer a straight and careful course if we’re to avoid sinking. If the club can show some faith and belief in the squad so far assembled, then there may well be better times ahead than two losses in two opening games might seem to suggest. If not – well, then storm clouds will inevitably gather and we could well go down as SS Laughing Stock.

As things stand, we’re not alone in our misery. Runaway title favourites Newcastle also sit on zero points from two games – but they will still be there or thereabouts when the season reaches its climax. Maybe – just maybe – Leeds United can be, too. 

It’s time for owner, players and fans alike to keep the faith. Whatever our differences, and however bleak things might look this evening after a second reverse in our opening two games, there’s rarely been a more important time to be Marching On Together. And that is precisely what we must now do. 

Mixed Start to the Season for Leeds as Defensive Woes Cost Dear – by Rob Atkinson

Antonsson

Whichever way you look at it – and there are a few differing options – Leeds United‘s season has started rather worryingly. A lack of truly meaningful match practice pre-season, combined with the loss of midfield starlet Lewis Cook, saw the Whites starting the campaign with huge question marks looming over their prospects for success.

True, some real promise has been recruited, in particular the exciting potential of former Oxford hotshot Kemar Roofe. But the sale of Cook to AFC Bournemouth leaves a gap that has not yet been filled. In defence, too, things look less than settled. Kyle Bartley has been recruited from manager Garry Monk’s old club Swansea, but Sol Bamba remains club captain despite some deeply ordinary form. And another young star in left-back Charlie Taylor has apparently expressed a desire to leave. It’s really difficult to describe the net effect of Leeds’ transfer business (so far) as positive.

And then, when the talking had to stop and the football began for real, came a performance at QPR in the season opener that was by turns pallid and chaotic. Comical defending cost United a goal after just four minutes, and it was largely downhill from there. By the time Tjaronn Chery cracked home the Rangers clincher from an acute angle in the closing stages, Leeds were a very well-beaten team.

On the optimistic side, all three of the Championship’s supposed big guns lost away from home on that opening day. Newcastle and Aston Villa joined Leeds in defeat, and likewise failed to trouble the scorers. But the Toon and the Villans were both edged out only 0-1; a rather better showing than United’s 0-3 tonking at Loftus Road.

Still, as things stand, we’ve only lost once all season and we’re just three points off the top. In spite of what the readers of this blog might think from some of the stuff I write, it is important to take a glass half-full view as a Leeds fan, knowing as we do that only relentless optimism is likely to save us from despair. And, still looking on that bright side, even after losing first time up – perhaps we could now make early progress in the EFL Cup on Wednesday at Fleetwood, and banish the memories of the thrashing QPR had handed out. That would be quite sweet, actually, particularly as ALL of Yorkshire’s other sides had surrendered meekly the night before, going out of the Cup along with several high-profile Championship casualties.

In the event, Leeds did manage to progress as Yorkshire’s sole representatives. It has to be said, though, they were more than a little fortunate against a Fleetwood side that was a goal to the good early on, and held that advantage until the last minute of normal time. But then new signing Marcus Antonsson, a Swedish striker of whom much is expected, produced a brilliant turn and shot to level for Leeds at the last gasp. And it was substitute Antonsson who was then fouled in the box early in extra time to give the hitherto ineffective Chris Wood the chance to make it 2-1 from the spot. It remained only for Leeds to chuck away their hard-won advantage in typical fashion, allowing time and room for Fleetwood to fashion an equaliser – and we were facing the dreaded penalty shoot-out.

So it came to pass that veteran ‘keeper Rob Green, at fault for the first goal against QPR the previous weekend, went from zero to become the campaign’s first Leeds hero. After United had scored all of their penalties, Green produced a smart save off Fleetwood’s fifth and final spot kick – and Leeds were narrowly, edgily, through to the second round. Pride of Yorkshire? Most definitely!

Now we will meet Luton Town of League Two, 3-1 conquerors of once-mighty Aston Villa, at Kenilworth Road in Round Two. It’s a tie that will quite likely be televised and a very definite potential banana skin for Yorkshire’s most famous club. But if Leeds can negotiate that hurdle, and perhaps pick up a bit over the next few Championship matches, it may well be that we’ll look back on that Rob Green penalty shoot-out save and realise it was an early-season turning point.

Things can only get better, so they say. It’s a dangerous line to take where Leeds are concerned; they always seem to find new depths to plumb. But you never know. Maybe, after a slow start, and with a few more quality signings, we can pick up and embark on a successful season of real achievement. Maybe, even, we’ll beat the Blues tomorrow. Stranger things have happened, after all. Just ask Leicester City…

Twitter Leeds Fans Unhappy at Having to Wait to Moan About New Signing – by Rob Atkinson

Ayling

Twitter Leeds fans’ verdict on Ayling: “Rubbish”

There has been a mass whinge-storm on Twitter from unhappy Leeds United “fans” upset at having to wait until as late as 4pm on Thursday to carp at, slag off, destroy, ridicule and otherwise criticise the club’s latest signing, Luke Ayling from Bristol City. Ayling’s likely capture was first rumoured two days ago, and some dedicated moaners have been champing at the bit ever since, just waiting to pour scorn on the deal. The delay has been described as “cruelty to dumb beasts”. 

Ayling is known as a versatile defender of great promise, able to operate anywhere across a back four, and some feel that this will make him a valuable asset for the Leeds United squad. Having waited impatiently to slag the lad off, though, some Twitter users are now holding nothing back in showing their absolute contempt for the signing. “Ah’ve never heard of this ‘ere player and Ah know nowt about him,” said one cantankerous individual from Pontefract, “but I can tell thee here and now that he’s rubbish and nowhere near the quality we need to sign. And whoever this Premier League midfielder is, he’s rubbish too. Absolutely bluddy useless. What’s Garry Monk playing at? He’s nivver consulted me, tha knows.”

Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything asked the career complainer, who wished to remain anonymous but whose name is Ivor Bigg-Gripe of Monkhill, what he might think of any other prospective signings this transfer window. “Well, you’ll have to wait for mah detailed observations, lad,” our man said, cautiously. “It doesn’t seem fair to rip ’em to shreds till they’ve actually signed, ‘owever long I ‘ave to wait. But I can tell thi now, they’re crap, whoever they are. Useless. All of ’em. And tha can quote me on that.”

Leeds are expected to complete a couple more deals before the end of the window, with as many as three players leaving the club. Twitter users on the LUFC hashtag are virtually unanimous in their disapproval of the un-named transfer targets, whilst agreeing nem. con. that whoever is moving out is vital to the team and should not be let go at any price.

The Leeds United Twitter feed has been officially classified as “ludicrous”.

 

5 Facts About Sky’s Leeds Utd Hater Don Goodman Ahead of QPR Away   –   by Rob Atkinson

Saint Don Goodman the Blinkered

Saint Don Goodman the Blinkered

After a couple of hundred times since last season watching the highlights of Sky’s Huddersfield Town versus Leeds United coverage, mainly to enjoy the Whites’ 3-0 victory over and over again, but also in the spirit of earnest research, this blogger is now able to reveal five hitherto unknown facts about co-commentator Don Goodman, who is also, incidentally, due to provide his pearls of non-wisdom for today’s United fixture at QPR

  1. Don Goodman never made a cynical challenge in his life. We can clearly tell this from the contemptuous and disgusted tone of his voice in proclaiming the cynicism of Scott Wootton‘s challenge on Huddersfield’s Harry Bunn. Clearly, Mr. Goodman would never contemplate such a base action, preferring to stand aside politely applauding when beaten by an opponent.
  2. Similarly, Don Goodman has never ever complained about a bang to rights refereeing decision against him in the whole of his football career. This must be so, because he clearly stated “I really don’t know why players complain about receiving yellow cards when it’s that blatant.” Any other case would leave Goodman open to a charge of being a rank hypocrite.
  3. Goodman never, ever formed part of a group of players clustering around a referee in order to try and influence his decision. As he virtuously points out, “the referee doesn’t need that, he needs to decide for himself.” With such strongly-held convictions as these about the sanctity of match officials’ decision-making, it is blindingly obvious, save for the hypocrisy provision mentioned above, that Goodman could never have transgressed in such an unhelpful manner.
  4. The best way to shut Don Goodman up is undoubtedly for Leeds United to score a goal. From the time of Wootton’s unpunished second foul at Huddersfield, right up until Mirco Antenucci scored United’s opener, Goodman had been bemoaning the lack of a second yellow card and subsequent dismissal for United’s defender. When the ball hit the back of the net, though, Goodman lapsed into a stunned silence lasting a full 18.25 seconds, before glumly observing: “Football isn’t fair sometimes – life isn’t fair sometimes,” adding that “Huddersfield will feel absolutely fuming”.
  5. Don Goodman in the course of his playing career always, but always, took in good part any studs over the ball challenges against him, that he now tends to describe as bearing “no malice” – as well as any sly kicks to the back of the legs late in the game, which can, apparently, be put down to “frustration”. It would have been incongruous for him to have complained about such challenges on himself, given his airy dismissal of the fouls perpetrated on Leeds players by their Huddersfield opponents.

These five new and telling facts about Don Goodman might, perhaps, shed some light on what might otherwise be described as inconsistencies in his co-commentary performance. Whether anyone with Leeds United sympathies, or indeed anyone with a more general ability to distinguish the relative locations of arse and elbow, will be mollified by such revelations, has to be a moot point. 

It may in fact be that Leeds fans as well as other people of intellect and discernment would tend to dismiss the “facts” enumerated above, in favour of a more general principle, as follows:

Don Goodman, from Leeds but never good enough to play for United, is an embittered has-been who is all too happy to accept BSkyB’s coin along with the privilege of jumping on their rabidly anti-Leeds United bandwagon. 

On the whole, that really does seem rather more likely. And doubtless, we can expect more of Mr. Goodman’s unprofessional rubbish live and exclusive from Loftus Road in an hour or so.

Cellino’s “Old Lamps for New” Policy and How It’s Sold to Leeds United Fans – by Rob Atkinson

Charlie.Taylor-700x367

Allegedly want-away youth product Charlie Taylor

The Massimo Cellino propaganda machine is cranking up again, the object as ever to sugar-coat nasty pill after nasty pill in an effort to make the Leeds United support swallow them. The strategy – for want of a better word – behind this recurrent process might best be described as “old lamps for new”, in a reversal of the trick practiced by another pantomime villain, Abanazar in Aladdin. As we might remember from our younger days, nasty Uncle Abanazar offered “new lamps for old”, in an effort to gain ownership of the lamp with the genie inside. Cellino, a perverse villain if ever there was one, has made a habit of selling off unpolished diamonds from the Leeds United youth policy, getting a good price for them, and then investing in cheaper but more experienced recruits, in the hope that he might thus conjure up the Premier League genie without the unpleasant necessity of a big net spend.

The worst thing about this decidedly short-term policy is that there are so many Leeds fans, seemingly drunk with ecstatic worship for their Italian hero, who are ready and willing to forget that it’s our home-grown future we’re pawning off, for some pretty risky short term loans and purchases. It’s a short-sighted policy that could yet reap rewards if this squad, shorn as it is of its locally-nurtured talent, can still contrive to blag a play-off place or better, and maybe somehow scramble into the Promised Land. Stranger things have happened, as Leicester City amply demonstrated last year. The difference is, Leicester went about it honestly, without manipulating their support and indulging in cheap publicity stunts.

That brings me neatly onto the season ticket refund promise. If Leeds United don’t make the play-offs this coming season, then a chunk of season ticket receipts will go back to qualifying buyers by way of refund (or maybe even via discount against future season ticket purchases). Some were impressed by this, others realise that such grandiose gestures have to be costed and allowed for. They have to appear in the budget for subsequent seasons, and I’ll give you three guesses as to how any such shortfall might be made up.

The latest we hear is that Charlie Taylor, last week’s contract rebel, and the scourge of Serie A side Atalanta, is this week’s transfer requester, as the Elland Road publicity department has its crafty two penn’orth. Not so long back I heard from a guy who met Charlie at a pre-season friendly. “Will you be staying then, Charlie?” asked the fan. “It’s out of my hands,” replied our young and promising full-back, glumly. And the truth is, it is out of his hands, as it was out of Sam Byram‘s hands, and Lewis Cook‘s. Further down the line, there’s Alex Mowatt – and later, perhaps, our exotically-named and lavishly talented young prodigy Ronaldo Vieira.

There’s not much point, when you think about it, in these young men rocking the boat or making trouble. They have their careers to think of, after all, and their new clubs might not be impressed at a loose lipped footballer. So, we hear that yet another youngster wants to jump ship, and a lot of fans will say, sod him, then. If he doesn’t want to play for Leeds United, let him go. And lo and behold, another new lamp is sold off for a big profit – and a small proportion of that profit is invested in the loan or purchase of an old lamp which is slightly tarnished, perhaps, but might just shine for another year or so yet.

As I said earlier, all of this might just work. The squad being assembled by Garry Monk looks quite promising, and is perhaps two or three quality additions away from being competitive in this league. We’ve even bought an uncut diamond for ourselves, in the exciting shape of Kemar Roofe. But it’s a big gamble, with the high stakes being put down at the cost of what’s always been regarded as our club’s lifeblood – the procession of top-class youth products from the academy. If the gamble pays off and we go up – then it’s a whole new ball game, as they say. But what if it doesn’t? What if, with our diamonds all sold off, we’re left short of the play-offs, and stuck with several once-valuable but rapidly depreciating assets? Those old lamps won’t bankroll our future, and it’s the future we’re now in the process of selling (hopefully with some nifty sell-on clauses). And the thing is, sadly, the new lamps being sold off are the ones largely getting the blame.

When we all should, of course, be blaming evil old Uncle Abanazar.

What is the deal with this guy ?

The Corbyn Effect, Illustrated in One Person’s Facial Expression

notsoloonyleft

Just take a look at that picture. I challenge you to look at that picture and not smile.

The expression on that woman’s face is wonderful.  There is an unrestrained joy in that face.  That face is real and genuine and if just happy.

Happy because she is listening to words that resonate with her and ideas which she can support.  Happy because she feels that finally someone is speaking to her personally and saying I see the same things you do.  I get angry about the same things you do. I can do something about it.

There is so much more tied up in Jeremy Corbyn than politics.  The people who are passionate about him are so because he is a focal point which has inspired action and will inspire more.  The bias  media coverage of this man has been seen and recorded in three separate reports, highlighting that the…

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