Leeds United: Mixed Messages and Fading Ambition. What IS Going on at Elland Road? – by Rob Atkinson

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These are strange days at Leeds United.  The football club is well-managed; by common consent we have the right man in Brian McDermott.  The people that matter certainly think so, for the most part. Let’s all hope the Board still agree.

We have a half-decent team and lately the emergence of another highly promising youngster in Alex Mowatt has been a real boost, offering the possibility of allowing Ross McCormack to play as a striker where he’s most comfortable.  More on that later.

We even have a personable and likeable chairman in Salah Nooruddin, who has lately been trying to issue comforting noises about investment and the further enhancement of the squad.  Salah has a couple of very important things going for him: he has a nice, friendly smile – and he’s Not Ken Bates.  This latter one really sums up his appeal for most Leeds fans after the last few years – but does Mr. Nooruddin have more positive attributes to offer even than the quality of Not Being Ken?

Well, we can but hope so.  But when he’s been a bit more vocal, as lately – coinciding with a run of four defeats – Salah’s tended to send out some pretty mixed messages. That’s worrying enough in a businessman/banker type who should really worship at the twin altars of “Inspiring Confidence in the Marketplace” and a “Having a Strategic Plan”.

The trouble is, Salah’s got recent form for appearing to heap pressure on the manager after a couple of losses – tweeting that the “existing squad” should be winning – and now he’s been and gone and said that promotion would be “a very harsh target” for this season, which some have read as a hasty attempt to take that perceived pressure back off.

All well and good, but this papering over the cracks approach just leads to more trouble, because those who are paying through the nose do want a definite idea of where the club is heading; so when people blow hot and cold like this – well, it’s disconcerting…

Any football club’s fans surely want to believe that their hard-earned cash is being used to fuel ambition, Leeds fans perhaps more than most.  So what do they think – what do WE think – when the chairman states that we can pretty much forget about promotion for the time being?  What message does it send out to the existing squad?  To potential signings who may, even now, be weighing up the club’s potential and – that word again – ambition? It’s all quite perplexing to us mere turnstile fodder – so how does it appear to a professional making a hard-nosed decision about which shop window he wishes to be displayed in as a result of any move on loan?

As I’ve said elsewhere, it might be that bit less confusing if the football people spoke on football matters, and the businessmen dealt with business.  When Nooruddin says that “promotion is a harsh target”, is he speaking from a business or a football point of view? If the former, then all well and good – get on with sorting out that investment “to take us to the next level”, which is allegedly so close.  If he’s speaking from a football point of view though, the only possible question is “Why?”  He’s not remotely qualified, after all.

If Brian McDermott feels that promotion may be a harsh target, then presumably he’s saying that in the full knowledge of exactly how much he has to play with in the transfer market.  Presumably also, he’s some idea of when any further investment might reasonably be expected.  Brian is taking his time in the market, having apparently been mandated to recruit loanees – but again, that may be because other options have presented themselves from within the club.  Ross McCormack played up front the other night and he’s been vocal since in saying that’s where he’s best deployed.  If McDermott feels he can now do that because of the emergence of young midfield prodigies from the Academy, then fine.  It would be nice to know these things, and from the horse’s mouth. We’ll listen to a football man talk football all day long.

But that’s the point – let people work to their strengths.  Let Nooruddin and Co seek to improve the financial infrastructure.  Let Brian get on with managing the team and making pronouncements about their prospects based on his professional knowledge.  Let RossCo get on with scoring some goals instead of trying to be something he’s not.  Let all that happen – and maybe the messages wouldn’t be as mixed; maybe we wouldn’t now be all a-twitter – and we ARE, many of us – about what seems like a club about to give up on the season.  That is such a terrible message to send out when people are having to scrimp and save for expensive tickets, travel, programmes and all the related shelling-out that goes on each match-day.

It’s just been such a mess in the media this week, and the win over Bournemouth has almost disappeared in the middle of it.  It shouldn’t have to be this way.  These people are professionals, all of them.  The least they can do is to try and sing from the same hymn-sheet (with due respect to the representatives of different religions involved).  But you get my meaning.  Let’s have a unified message, something we can all understand.  “We are Leeds” would be a good start.  “Onwards and upwards” is encouraging too.  But it all needs to be underpinned by the best rallying-call of all.

Marching on Together“.

Come on, Leeds!

23 responses to “Leeds United: Mixed Messages and Fading Ambition. What IS Going on at Elland Road? – by Rob Atkinson

  1. From day 1 since GFH took over they have said this is a long term investment they have never mentioned promotion for this season in fact the only people talking about promotion this season is the media and some fans. As for his comments after the Millwall loss I took it as dig at the players more than the manager and he was right our squad should have been far more competitive against a very poor Millwall squad, Eddie Gray even said Millwall are poor in his opinion on Tue night and we should have done better. I also understand why they also can’t come out and say this season is a transitional season as they need as many LUFC fans to turn up as possible for revenue and also atmosphere, though if people actually listened BMD & the board have alluded to this even in preseason. Luckily apart from QPR who should stroll to the title undefeated based upon the players they have and money spent are the only stand out team in the league and 15 other teams including Leeds could get promotion this season though I believe we are far from ready on or off the pitch. Next season will be a whole different story and that is what I believe we are building for.


    • If the board would just stop making silly statements in areas where they’re clueless, we wouldn’t have this problem.


    • ‘Long term investment/project’ is a smooth way of saying we have no money to invest now. Vintage bates Bull.
      Methinks they kept Bates on to learn how to make false promises, positive rumours (buying the ground back), and ‘your team needs your support’ banners.
      Going for players we can never get – shows they are trying – VERY!
      The team is everything!
      It is always ‘next season’ with us.


  2. Mixing business,football and pace setter here okay everybody has an opinion but money talks shit walks that is a real fact. Forget the quick fix we have a real job to take here…
    I am as eager as anybody here that we are there to face scum et al but I am patient and why because revenge is always better when it is cold. And for the note well I have been prevented to make notes in YEP site so if you stick with me okay?



    • Football is not a patient business.
      Fans are not patient – we have had 10 years of this bull, Tare.
      Directors are not patient. If a manger lasts 12 months he is doing well.
      Players are not patient. If there is no progress the better ones move on. Gradel, Howson, Johnson, Beckford, Becchio & Snodgrass.
      Who will be next?
      GFH will be long gone, before we see the Premier League.
      Our squad is a million miles off the top league just now.
      I am up to my eyes with patience!!
      The attendances prove this.
      ‘We’ are sick of all manipulation, deception, and down right lies.


      • Life is great like in Fast Show episode. What comes to names you wrote well Mad Max any day but still… I fully agree with your sentiment of patience and my reasoning is that after KB era we have to build a new 2013 LUFC for sure. William Faulkner had this vision “the past is never dead it is never passed” so we will have this tag a big big British club who invented the “total football” before Ajax, Barcelona, Dutch national team.

        Maybe the Wites has been a black sheep of the family but I love it….



  3. Grand Fallacious Hoax-Continuing

    It is all well and good apparently having no ambition, no investment and by definition, no hope. but at least mollify the supporter by abandoning the heinous Category A prices. They can pass on the reduction.. again.. next year to the mug season ticket holders (like me) who wil fall for the same old investment patter.
    They are not Ken Bates.. and they have lived off that fact for far too long now. They are some investment bank too, a bank who can’t raise a shekel, dinar or anything else for that matter.


  4. This is all ok but history shows that Leeds ‘fans’ will only turn up in numbers when we have a winning team. If we are only mid table again then crowds will also shrink.
    GFH may well have a long term strategy but I’m not sure that future attendances will be to their liking


    • This comment is spot on. Leeds fans need something to believe in and cheer on! If they have this the turn out will increase by 30%! Now that is business talking. What better than 33000 people roaring the team on and watching good competitive football. The directors need this for their business and sponsorship deals, the manager needs it to feel confident and motivated, the players need it so that they have to give their all or go AND the fans need it. Forget this small issue and you are sunk Mr Nooruddin!


  5. none of this is new news coming from the board , they said at the start of the season that we were on a two ( or was it three ) year plan to get back in the premiership , so i don’t understand why anyone is supprised that he’s made that comment about it being harsh !! all he’s really saying is what he said in august


  6. Phil Allen

    After ten years in 2nd – 3rd division, I would say to the ” ARAB BANK BUILT ON SAND ”
    Shite or bust – promotion is a MUST!


  7. with teams in this div. getting in p. offs with 15 defeats, even yeovil wouldn’t admit to no chance of going up, i seem to remember last season, that this season was the big push?now it’s next .byrom,lees,peltier,white;muphy;poleon,green,mowatt;diouf,mccormack 4~1~3~1~1 would get in p. offs


  8. I think that Salah Nooruddin is just trying to steady the ship. The problem is that it leaves what he says open to interpretation and judgement. I say, just give the fans what they want and build a good team quickly. Support BM up to the hilt and like someone says above, say that this is a transitional season and that a lot of changes are taking place ready for the big push. Also, that the investment will definitely be there for Brian next time round. No more of this I have six players lined up and then finding out that the board are not backing the manager, so they all slip away. This is football, this is Leeds United! Starting to get it? Get on with on field improvements now!


    • scott adams

      Bluesman I think you are spot on, its just all very frustrating …. no one likes loosing least of all a whites fan ….. Salah has said be patient perhaps we should all just wind our necks in a little. I know many will say what a load of Rubbish, we had all this under Bates …. but hey his tenure was a lot longer Than GFH ….. its just a slow burn …. irons are in the fire …. lets see what transpires in January to infinity and beyond!!!!!


  9. mrbigwheels

    Lots of W words here. Willpower, Wanting, Waiting, Wherewithal, but unfortunately no Wallet.

    GFHC can be likened to a Camelian waiting for its prey to pass by to feed its family, occasionally having to calm the hungry dependants until the fat juicy savoury meal for all…. comes along.

    Highs and lows for all then, with patience from some in the nest, but…. in reality,
    Until that ‘juicy one’ comes along, enabling that Wallet to come out of the Chairs back pocket we will definitely just be ‘on and on’ and not ‘onwards and upwards’.


  10. I don’t see how you can criticise the comment “promotion is a harsh target”. Does anybody expect is to finish top 2? No. We are hopefull of reaching the play offs, in which case we have a 1 in 4 chance (at best), of winning promotion. This does not mean the team are not aiming for a top 6 finish. Whilst I think a little bit more squad investment would have paid for itself in attendance, I also think of the absolute mess Grayson and Warnock left the squad in. Long term contracts and massive wages for players who have no interest and would struggle in league 1. GHF have shown they don’t mind spending money on deasant young players like Luke Murphy, but that is withing a realistic wage bill. Spending money now is money we could be spending next year when we’re making our real push. This year our aims are get rid of the deadwood, integrate the youth and get a team playing as a team. Its not a pretty process at times but the benefits will be there for all to see next year when we have a quality squad, debt free club and rising attendance.


    • As ever, people seem to miss the point. I’m not criticising the “harsh target” remark, but I’m not happy about where it’s coming from. Brian McDermott is the man for the football side, the suits should keep a low profile and take care of the business.


  11. i can’t believe people keep falling for the, next season is the one line


  12. I think your formation and player selection is spot on John Palmer


  13. massive improvement started when bates went, ross not sold to boro to prove where not a selling club any more and board opening club up to other investor`s , nothing will change over night


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