Daily Archives: 12/02/2013

Another Day in the Death of Leeds United

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It’s not safe to identify any one day, defeat or disappointment as the nadir of Leeds United’s fortunes just now. At the moment, takeover and “fresh start” notwithstanding, we appear to be plummeting downhill faster than a greased pig. The loss of top scorer Luciano Becchio – to bloody Norwich City AGAIN – was another notable low point; but Leeds United has long had this unfortunate habit of losing top players in January transfer windows. Worse still, the results since Christmas have been appalling, in the league anyway. Beaten at home by Cardiff, as usual – chucking away a 2-1 lead at Wolves in injury time, and a poor performance to lose away at Middlesboro to a side which had lost several on the spin. In this last game, the Leeds fans were exhorting Neil Warnock, an increasingly isolated figure, to make a change and pep the team up, and he actually applauded them sarcastically, an absolutely fatal thing to do for a manager who was never the most popular. Bad, bad times. And yet, you somehow have that uncomfortable, chill feeling – even as a committed Whites fanatic – that, however bad things may seem, there’s plenty of scope for them to get worse.

Indeed, it’s arguable that things HAVE been worse – much worse – in the fairly recent past, than they are today. The run-up to the 2007/08 season, the club’s first in the third tier of English football, was catastrophic. Administration had brought about the unprecedented penalty of a 15 point deduction, leaving the beleaguered giants 5 wins short of zero points as the season started. But that season turned into a triumph of sorts – promotion was narrowly missed, and the whole points-deduction saga seemed to galvanise the support. On the pitch, the team delivered, particularly in the early part of the season, and a seemingly irresistible momentum was built up. Leeds really were United at this lowest ebb in their history.

At present, in some superficial measures, things are better – but in the most fundamental ways, they appear significantly worse. Obviously, the club now enjoys a higher status within the game – the dark days of League One football are receding into the past, at least for the time being. There have been high spots too, famous Cup victories, including the recent defeat of Spurs, and the odd satisfying away performance. At Elland Road, once a fortress notorious for intimidating opponents, form has been patchy. And yet other Premier League teams have been put to the sword, and generally speaking the team will give anyone a game on their own patch – apart from Cardiff, apparently. The underlying problem now though is more insidious than the acute emergencies immediately post-administration. It is the creeping cancer of apathy that pervades the club now.

It’s not difficult to see the signs of this. Read any of the fans’ forums, and a pattern swiftly emerges. The supporters, by and large, are sick of the way the club has been run over the past few years. Sick of paying top dollar for a distinctly second-rate product. Sick of the club’s habitual prevarications over transfer policy, of seeing our best players form a procession out of the exit door, sick to death of seeing lesser clubs easily out-match us for wages and transfer fees, despite the fact that our turnover and potential remain at the top end.

Leeds United, a great name in English football, by any measure, appears to have been run on the cheap for a long time now. Investment is minimal, the ability to retain promising players practically non-existent. The supporters’ expectations, born of great days in the past, remain high – and why shouldn’t they be? But those expectations show no sign of being met, or even approached. Last summer’s long drawn-out agony of a takeover saga descended too often to the depths of farce, as rumour countered rumour, and we all rode an internet-driven roller-coaster of optimism and despair, over and over again. But once concluded, that saga has not spawned a legacy of more investment and better club/fan relations. We appear to be stuck with more of the same; the changes appear to have been purely cosmetic.

On Saturday 12th January, Leeds United played Barnsley away, a fixture that had produced humiliating three-goal thrashings in the previous two seasons. This time around, it was only a two goal thrashing, but the manner of defeat – the abject failure to muster any real threat up front, and the spectacle of midfield players gazing skywards as the ball whistled to and fro far above them – was too much for the long-suffering band of away fans in Leeds United colours. They complained, loudly. They advised the manager to be on his way. They questioned the fitness of the players to wear the famous shirt. The FA Cup win over Spurs offered some brief respite, but now an almost identical scenario has been played out at Boro’s Riverside Stadium, a ground where we’d previously had a good record. After the match, Warnock spoke learnedly, but with that annoying chuckle in his voice, of the “need to win games” and of how he was baffled at how chances were being missed. We’ve heard a lot of this, all season. The supporters feel they are being taken for mugs, and they have had enough.

All this has been true for a while – but for much of the past year, change has been in the air, and it has seemed reasonable to expect that things might be about to get better. Some of us dared to dream. But after the final whistle at Middlesbrough, it was all of a sudden quite clear that the options for change have been exhausted, and that the future remains as bleak as it has been at any time since top-flight status was relinquished nine long years ago.

Some of the fans – not all, but some – feel that there is now no way back for Leeds – not to anywhere approaching the pre-eminence they once enjoyed in the game. If that’s the case, then the question arises: what is a reasonable aim? To gain promotion to the Premier League, and strive to survive? To become a yo-yo club, with promotion and relegation in successive years, never becoming established in the top-flight? That might be enough for many clubs, but at Leeds the memories of glory are that bit too vivid for the fans to settle for any such precarious existence, scratching around in the hinterland of old rivals’ success.

It may well be that, on a cold night on Teesside, realisation dawned that the club Leeds United once were is now dead and gone. What is left behind may well still be worth supporting, but it is likely to be a pale shadow of what we once knew. Recently, during the transfer window, there were rumours of high profile signings – and you knew, you just KNEW, that we were being softened up for more bad news. Then Becchio was off, swapped for a striker in Morison that Norwich didn’t want, and we heard reports that recent loanees didn’t want to stay “because of the money situation up there”. It all stinks of a club rotten to the core, and dead at the top.

Leeds United – one of the truly great names in English football. RIP.

Scrounging Graduate In “I Expect To Get Paid For Working” Scandal

Daily Fail” Leader Column

In what is being seen by wishy-washy commie pinko do-gooders as a landmark ruling, senior judges have ruled that a university graduate was correct to claim government back to work schemes were “legally flawed”. As part of an appalling betrayal of their fellow members of the ruling elite, the three bewigged buffoons have quashed regulations entitling the government to force benefit claimants to work for nothing. The decision, handed down by the Court of Appeal but still subject to further legal avenues, will be seen as a dark day for those who view a return to slavery as the only way of maximising the economic potential of the poor.

Nit-picking

Government sources were today taking comfort in the fact that the panel of judges were not critical of back-to-work schemes as such, but were merely nit-picking over the irritating principle that ”Proles expect to be paid”. Cate Reilly (24), the university graduate who brought the original case, had been required to work for multi-million pound High Street tat retailers Poundland, instead of pursuing her voluntary work in a museum. Ms Reilly was shockingly frank in her remarks after the decision was made public: “I don’t think I am above working in shops like Poundland”, she stated. “I now work part-time in a supermarket. It is just that I expect to get paid for working.”

Mercenary

It is the impact of those last seven words that will be worrying ministers today. It would seem that, on the back of the troublesome minimum wage legislation passed by the previous government, even benefit claimants will now expect to be paid actual money for their job experience opportunities. This is seen as deeply disturbing by the government. A stricken and tear-stained DWP junior minister, who did not want to be named, quavered: “These nasty, ungrateful peasants should be grateful for the chances we’re giving them. But oh, no – they want to be paid. This is the sort of mercenary attitude that we see all too often, even in these hard times when we should all be pulling together. Companies like Poundland create a lot of wealth, and that helps drive the economy and pay bankers’ bonuses. How are they supposed to fulfil their obligations to shareholders if they’re going to have to start paying people?”

Bullish

Employment Minister Mark Hoban was in a more bullish mood, stating, “Ultimately, the judgment confirms that it is right that we expect people to take getting into work seriously if they want to claim benefits”. The government’s position, then – thankfully – is likely to remain that claimants should prioritise obtaining work over more frivolous considerations like being paid for it. We should, perhaps, be grateful for small mercies.

Unwashed

The TUC, on the other hand, was taking a predictably wild and woolly line, claiming that mandatory back-to-work schemes “need to be looked at again”. This will be seen by worried Cabinet members as a direct challenge to the official line that poor, largely unwashed benefit scroungers should be marginalised, exploited for every penny possible. This type of economic resource is vital as the country fights its way back to a position where MP’s can ask for a 32% rise in pay without causing outrage in grim northern provincial centres of Marxism where no self-respecting Tory would be seen dead.

Dangerous

Anybody who fails to take this worrying development seriously should be warned as to possible consequences by the words of a partner at leading law firm, Manches. Tom Walker, the employment law partner, stated that “This judgment upholds what is perhaps the key tenet of employment, namely the ‘work wage bargain’. If someone gives their labour to a company, they should be paid for it. However well intentioned a workplace scheme may be, it is very dangerous to introduce compulsory unpaid labour into the UK employment market.”

Treason

It is precisely this kind of dangerously retrogressive, sentimental and frankly treasonous thinking that is liable to drag our country back to the dark days before the average pay of a Chief Executive Officer reached levels 400 times that of the average employee. There is a real danger that, without the Government’s forward-thinking and courageous plans to create a sector of society who will expect to work for no financial reward, we could return to a time when the top people were getting by on perhaps no more than ten times the salary of the man in the street.

Now if that doesn’t worry you, then all of Mr. Cameron’s good work so far has been a waste. We have to stand firm – it is no less than our God-given duty. We must remember who we are, where we’re from and get back to exploiting those untapped resources at the bottom of the pile. That’s the Tory way, and that, says the “Daily Fail“, is what we are all bound to protect.