Thierry Henry to Fire Leeds United to Promotion? – by Rob Atkinson


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Thierry Henry – short term deal with Leeds?

Twitter didn’t exactly go into meltdown last night but, on the basis of one optimistic tweet from Phil Hay, the respected local journalist with his finger on the pulse of Leeds United, it did start to get decidedly warm.  The gist of it was that good things were being heard about the imminent takeover of Leeds United and that good times might just be about to roll.  A couple more juicily-tantalising snippets were added into what became a heady mix, with David Haigh tweeting that he couldn’t wait to be at the Barnsley match next weekend as Elland Road would be “rocking”.  We heard also that Haigh is over in Austria, a country linked strongly to Red Bull who have in turn been linked strongly with Leeds United.

Now, it would be all too easy to take these morsels of information and add them up to make something totally unrealistic.  Then again, the elements do seem to combine of themselves into the oft-talked about “Dare to Dream” scenario.  One particularly exotic rumour that arises out of such an optimistic outlook is the possibility that one of Red Bull’s most marketable assets, Thierry Henry, might be on the point of jumping on board at Leeds United to provide the sort of boost that even a pair of Red Bull wings could hardly hope to emulate.  Even at the age of 36, the French superstar could inflict massive damage in this league, even if mainly from the bench.  Could there be anything in it?

On the face of it – why not?  The team is in good shape at the moment; there are a couple of obvious areas where improvement is needed and all Leeds fans will be hoping to see those addressed in January.  But with the current doubt over the fitness and commitment of El-Hadji Diouf, there may well be a vacancy in the squad for someone who can do something special, someone who can add a touch of class and elevate the profile of the club at the same time.

The combination of Diouf and Warnock was an unlikely one – but it happened.  Let’s not forget either that Dioufy was something of a star with World Cup heroics behind him and a global profile.  Thierry Henry is all this, and more – and at this stage of his career, what could be more of a challenge to him than the task of reviving a sleeping giant, a club where he would catch the imagination of the fans and raise the atmosphere that extra notch or two, giving the whole place a lift and the team new impetus?  That’s a scenario well known to Leeds fans with long enough memories as the “Gordon Strachan factor”.

This week promises to be very interesting indeed.  If those tweets from Hay and Haigh carry what I believe they do in between their lines, then it’s fair to say we might expect some significant news before the Barnsley game.  Just how significant that news might be is anyone’s guess – but my guess is that an announcement is distinctly possible  of further takeover details making that “Dare to Dream” scenario burst into reality.  And what was on David Haigh’s mind when he was talking about “Elland Road rocking” on the pre-Christmas weekend when football crowds are notoriously thinned out by last-minute shopping?  It does make you wonder.

Thierry Henry in a Leeds shirt?  Bizarre.  But how wonderful it would be, what an incredible boost.  It seems too good to be true, of course – but if you’re going to dare to dream, then why not be extravagant about it?  A legend like Henry in the famous white shirt – that’d be a hell of a good dream as far as I’m concerned, but could it actually happen?  You just never know – it possibly could.

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54 responses to “Thierry Henry to Fire Leeds United to Promotion? – by Rob Atkinson

  1. crusader knight

    been having some early christmas pop have we rob

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  2. glosterwhite

    You’ve started early rob, I’ll av a pint of what your drinking!

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  3. A propos TH, I am sure our Irish following would have something to say about that. Daftest idea, I’v heard in a long time.

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  4. Another article that writes positively about Red Bull having any association with Leeds United. Whilst normal Leeds fans are filled with dread by the idea of Elland serving Red Bull, let alone been owned by the, you seem quite happy with the idea. Care to clarify your position?

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  5. I could just about tolerate the stadium naming rights being sold as long as “Elland Rd” is still included. Any plans for renaming the club or kit change then Haigh can do one and so can redbull.

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  6. Andy Bentley

    Isn’t the Internet amazing? Suddenly we all have a voice! Not that football club owners really give much of a damn. I can’t see David Haigh reading mine, or caring much if he did! I don’t recall ownership ever being much of an issue when I started following Leeds. I don’t think the average supporter did at any club and influencing who did or didn’t invest in the team was irrelevant so long as somebody did! Would I like to see our stadium renamed? No. Would I like to see our colours change? No. Could I live with it? Yes, of course! Ive watched Leeds play in green and black stripes, they looked bloody awful! Nobody protested! I’m Leeds til I die and not even Ken Bates could change that although he did try his best!
    I have more than my fair share of great memories of Leeds Utd. If someone wants to spend silly money on creating a team capable of giving the likes of Manchester City a game, then so be it. There are new generations who have never seen Leeds in the top flight. Maybe it’s their turn and who am I to try and prevent that?

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    • A highly sane and constructive reply Andy. It’s a refreshing change to read something like this. You get a bit tired of people who read what you’ve written, don’t like it, and therefore write in to tell you to cease and desist, forthwith. I’ve never understood why these people would think anyone would take the slightest notice of them. Whereas thoughtful feedback like this will always be welcome and taken on board.

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      • Im just thinking of the teams Red Bull has destroyed. Sellout the identity of the club to rush our team back to the top, when the club is improving rapidly and becoming profitable? Leeds Red Bulls? No thanks.

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      • Sorry Rob but blah, blah, blah, blah (bog-standard abuse cont. p.94)

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      • Andy Bentley

        Thanks Rob… Nice to get positive feedback!

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  7. Ah but Andy,the thing is owners won’t be able to spend silly money to compete with City et al. There will be restrictions soon and clubs like ours will be even more reliant on home produce,so to speak. Why should any company/owner be allowed to destroy the traditions built up over decades too? Nope,City,Arsenal and chelsea can keep their teams full of itinerant mercenaries. If we’re successful in the playoffs that’ll be worth 100m,we’ll still be playing in white and we won’t be tied up with some disgusting sugary drink.

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    • Maybe they’ve realised that January might be last-chance saloon for a bit of a splurge? But with a bit of creative accounting there will be ways around and through the FFP rules. What do you reckon, Andy?

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      • Andy Bentley

        I think FFP will be largely ignored by the financially elite and the authorities won’t destroy their product by rigorously enforcing it. It will have more of an impact on Football league sides where they can seem to be tough without upsetting the big boys! It wasn’t too long ago that ‘Super clubs’ were talking about a break away!
        We don’t need to stop growing our own talent. Investment means we can add to it. More to the point, we can keep hold of it! Fabian Delph, James Milner, Alan Smith, Johnny Howson? There are more… How many of our home grown rising stars will we see playing at their peak for Leeds United? As loyal as Byram and Mowatt are, if they harbor ambitions to play international football, Champions League football, they will move on! I would rather see them in a Leeds shirt… Even if it has wings on it! MOT

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      • The squad is getting results, attendances rising, large amount of high earners out of contract in the summer, acedemy thriving, great manager and no more loan payments for season tickets. We’re in the top 6 with promise of players in January, and Mcdermott has only been in charge half a season. You’d sell out the identify of the club now, when things are on the up? We’d become the Mk Dons of the premier league. No thanks Rob.

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    • Andy Bentley

      Itinerant mercenaries? I’m guessing you are referring to players who are bought in? Such as MacCormack, Austin, Pearce, Kenny, Warnock, Pugh et al? Add to that Clarke, Jones, Giles, MacAllister, Radebe… Many Leeds legends were bought in and they served our club well.

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      • Well i’m afraid you’ve guessed wrong Andy. I was referring to the soulless greed merchants who make up the majority of the clubs near the top of the premier league.

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  8. Dave Sales

    Sadly, some “fans” on here have very short or no memory of our darkest days. A few years ago, there very nearly was NO Leeds united. Times have and need to change. Without investment we cant continue to go forward. We already have so many of the ingredients required to get into and stay in the premiership. Huge support, a decent squad, excellent manager and a desire running through the whole of the club to compete and progress. As already said by others, I would hate it if my beloved Leeds United ended up playing in red or any other colour for that matter but ask any Portsmouth fan if they would swap the colour of their club shirts for a return to the premiership and im pretty sure what the answer would be, and it wasn’t so many years ago that they were!

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    • We’re not broke and in league 2 so I don’t really care what Portsmath would want. Players like Ross McCormack give more than anyone, and they do it because its Leeds United, Not the Leeds Red Bulls. Im not against endorsements, sponsors and stadium naming rights, its essential to become a big club. I dont think you understand how Red Bull treat their teams but but perhaps you should research it before jumping into their arms.

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      • Dave Sales

        Essential to BECOME a biig club? perhaps as you say, I should do some research Gazza.

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  9. Personally,i have a very long memory when it comes to all things Leeds. I remember days that were just as dark as the bates reign in the 80s and just like i do now,i made a 220mile round trip every fortnight to witness it.If anyone pays any heed to what bates said after he bought the club,then indeed there WAS nearly no Leeds United. Had he been allowed to continue, then it’s almost certain that there would be no Leeds United. An insane decision by krasner nearly cost us.It would also be insane for any company like redbull to get involved In Leeds anyway, as sales would plummet in the rest of Yorkshire,Devon etc. How many Leeds fans avoided Sharp or vodafone when they sponsored the scum? I did.

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  10. Having watched Leeds united for over 40yrs I just long to see us back amongst europes best , we all remember one of wilkos master strokes in bringing vinne Jones to ER , the ground was rocking , vinne , vinne , vinne was the chant has he warmed up , we all know what happened next …
    Henry would have exactly that effect and more , much much more … Bring it on

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  11. Vinnie did well for us but Wilkos masterstroke was bringing in Strachan and the much underrated Fairclough in march 89. It was a double master stroke as it made ferguson look a right tit.

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    • Yes mick , but the master stroke of bringing vinnie in was to wake the crowd up , create an atmosphere , give the people a tailisman … This worked then and it would work again ,,, I’m not saying there’s no crowds or atmosphere at ER but a player like Henry would create an atmosphere second to none and that is what would push us to the premiership

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      • Great – at least we have some intelligent debate now, and not the usual suspects queuing up so that people will notice them pouring scorn on what was a highly speculative piece. Bloody attention-seekers. Carry on, chaps.

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      • Would you not rather have a Becchio or a Gradel to heighten the atmosphere? If it takes a 36 year old has been to get Leeds fans excited then we truly are a little club. We deserve better so expect better.

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      • This is a world star and a total icon though. If he’s fit, affordable and willing it’d be a no-brainer

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  12. Mick Burke

    I watched my first LUFC game in the West riding cup away with the likes of Don Weston,Alan Peacock,Ian Lawson and wee Booby Collins playing that night,and I can tell you I was hooked,I have seen it all and been through it all with my beloved Leeds,broken relationships-broken bones and broken hearts,but I have never lost my love for them,and I have had the privilege of watching some great Leeds teams,I have balked at the thought of any change to ER or the teams colours but the new generation of supporters deserve to see a great team once more and if that means corporate money coming to the club from whatever source then that’s fine by me. MOT

    Mick Burke. Marching on since 1963

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  13. I wanted to comment on your article of last week about the Kenyan Manu fan who killed himself when his team lost – yet again! It was a brilliant piece of writing and you captured brilliantly the feeling I get from being a Leeds fan – anti establishment, loathed and different to all the others. I love this about Leeds United. No other club could be aligned to the way Leeds is. Coincidentally I was in Kenya a couple of weeks ago on business and when I mentioned Leeds Utd to a few young, football mad taxi drivers they politely told me they had never heard of the club!! They were all Manu, Chelsea, Arsenal fans etc. In terms of wealth and the possibility of great success the Leeds Utd brand has to be world famous again. We’re being left behind in the new age of global communication so the sooner we’re back in the prem, the better. We do need the financial backing and a mega-famous name like Tierri Henry would be great PR.If he can still play a bit, all the better.

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    • Hit the nail on the head, Riley. And by the way, many thanks for the kind words – which are sometimes at a bit of a premium hereabouts!

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      • You’re welcome Rob – A lot of twaddle is written on some of the sites but your blogs are good quality and of course debate is a very healthy thing – however we’re all united in our love of Leeds so most of it is forgivable. Keep up the good work!

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  14. on yous go

    Just watched Harry Potter 3 the one about boggarts being defeated by a spell called ‘ridiculus’. If only it were so easy with articles like these! Ridiculous! Fans are the heart and soul of a football club. Too many investors think they can harvest this without any risk of killing the golden goose. Once the heart of a club is stolen by corporate interests then the only way is down. So far, I think the owners of LUFC have shown that they understand the link between financial success and the value of the heart and soul of the club. I would rather see a build slowly, sustainable future than a sell our souls to the devil short term making hay whilst the sun shines approach even if that meant we could have someone like Thierry Henry for a short time. At the moment we have a club we can believe in once again. Be careful what we wish for

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  15. Good point – we shouldn’t sell our souls and building the old fashioned way would be a joy. I’m always more excited about a wonder kid coming through the ranks than a wonder signing. But it’s difficult. In terms of what I wish for – it’s not being thrashed by the likes of Barnsley, Forest, Watford etc and I just have this awful feeling that it might take money to make my wishes come true.

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  16. So many comments to agree or disagree with.

    Long memory here too, I started watching us in 1970. I remember the 80s well and they weren’t as dark as the Bates days. I wasn’t happy with Bremner’s selling of our young players, but at least he was Bremner and his team competed. And I was happier with Eddie than I’d been with Adamson. I never bought the notion that Wilko ought to be canonized but, you know, I managed to put up with the recruitment of good players, winning promotion, winning the league, and trying to rebuild in the top half of the premiership. Despite that, Eddie being sacked remained my darkest day – until Bates came along. Everything he did or said made me sick. I don’t recall any period being like his era.

    There’s financial backing and there’s financial backing. I feel sick at the thought of Red Bull, or anyone else, being allowed to come in and behave like anything other than venture capitalists (i.e. put cash in, wait, get more cash out). Whoever Haigh’s friends are, I hope their plans fall into that bracket rather than that of Red Bull’s past actions. I remain convinced that we can do it all without any backing. We can get promotion in a year or two, and with good management in the Premiership we’ll be soon be in Liverpool’s position with Liverpool’s problems (you know, stadium trouble, size of club, in terms of support and cashflow, not as big as Scum, etc, etc.) We can cross those bridges then.

    Naming rights, though, are probably inevitable if we build a new stadium, and I think we might have to.

    Of course it’s true to say that Haigh doesn’t much care about the fans’ views. But we’re lucky with him in that, despite being what he is, he’s also a bit of a fan himself. So I remain hopeful… for now.

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    • Now we’re getting some thoughtful input and some quality debate worthy of what might well come to be seen as a significant point in our history. Thank you, guys. Great stuff, thought provoking and clearly born of a deep commitment to and live for the club.

      This one article was viewed almost 25,000 times on the day it was published and looks set to be seen many more times as we move into the working week. I’d like to think many of those readers will see and be enlightened by some of the high calibre input in the comments received.

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  17. No problem with signing Henry though. By all means get him on the bench, a striker like him as impact sub and a winger would be ideal.

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  18. However exciting this could be we would still be following the short term model of outside investment we see at the top of the prem. a much more sustainable and long term set up would be the one followed by the German clubs where 50 percent of clubs are owned by the fans, you can get into top games for a tenner and clubs regularly bring through their own home grown talent. For me however exciting having Henry at the club would be, this would thrill me more. Be careful the grass ain’t always greener on the other side, what are we going to give away for this investment ?

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    • I agree Ady. I’ve been an advocate of the German model myself – I think it fosters a feeling of fan involvement that (assisted by their enlightened safe standing policy) carries over into the grounds and gives a passionate edge to the support. These are happy fans. Accommodated in comfort, paying reasonable prices and glowing with the knowledge that they have a tangible stake in the club. It’s the way forward for me but – with due deference to the way clubs like FC United of Manchester are constituted – it seems a long way off in this country. It would require a sea-change in the running of the game here – and meanwhile a club like Leeds, aspiring to join the elite after a long spell in the doldrums, can hardly make way against the tide.

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  19. Where in the name of sweet jesus and how do these rumours gather so much momentum. Haigh himself already stated it was a consortium of high profile BRITISH business men. Wish people would stop talking cack.

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    • Don’t be such a killjoy, rumours make the football world go ’round. And you’ll not get far believing every single word the suits say – it’s all smoke and mirrors now, but things may clarify this week.

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  20. Sorry Rob, but you sir, are a complete legend. Well done in posting a complete slice of absolute quality and rising to the top of the “top stories” list on the “NewsNow” site.

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  21. Ey up Stalin blah, blah, blah. (Juvenile impotently-enraged rant ensues)

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  22. Actually my other pre-Bates darkest day was when we sacked Clough. All Clough’s fault, as he admits in his second book, but I always wished a way could have been found. 2 European Cups, should have been us.

    Does that antagonize anyone? Good, I’ve had a hard day.

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  23. melvis December 17th
    hi rob good cackle must admit you got all the non believers outside Yorkshire biting at the chomp live in durham these days carrrrnt wait to go to the club on Friday night and wind all the dicky birds up with this ONE mackems and magpies that is withMY GARY SPEED TRIBUTE SHIRT ON ALLWAYS WEAR THE BADGE MOT

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  24. Remember – Sven and Sol Campbell at 4th Division Notts County…….?? 😉

    Not quite on the same par, but the place WAS rocking for a short time…..

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  25. andy bower

    hope you’re right about signing henry but i’m not sure it would work. i believe revie tried a similar move signing john charles in ’62. it was unsuccessful and revie had to build the team slowly with young talent.

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    • I don’t think one example from half a century ago is much of a basis to say it wouldn’t work – but I do think it’s unlikely to happen, for various reasons.

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