How Leeds Could Do With a Season or Two of Frank Lampard – by Rob Atkinson


Leeds? Up norf, innit??

Leeds? Up norf, innit??

Cast your mind back to the genesis of Leeds United’s last promotion charge out of the second tier and back into the Promised Land.  In Sergeant Wilko, we had the man to lay down the rules and ensure that the work ethic was in place. Howard Wilkinson had turned up at Elland Road to be interviewed for the vacant managerial post at Leeds – and had ended up turning the tables on the bemused board members when he started interviewing them. The upshot was that he not only got the job, but also a cast-iron commitment to doing that job the way he wanted to, as opposed to the shoestring budget poor Billy Bremner had been stuck with.  It’s safe to say that the Leeds bosses were impressed by their new man, and they supported him accordingly.

The master-stroke came early.  Wilkinson beat off interest from Ron Atkinson at his old club Sheffield Wednesday to sign Man U’s mercurial play-maker Gordon Strachan.  This was some coup; not only were the Wendies still in the top flight, but Big Ron had been Strachan’s mentor from their days at the Theatre of Hollow Myths.  But Strachan was the right man at the right time in the right circumstances for Leeds; the battle ahead was tailor-made for his combative style and world-class ability, leadership and dedication.  The rest is history – we thought we might get a good year or two out of Strachan, yet we ended up with arguably the best eight years of his career, harvesting the Championships of the top two divisions in a three-season spell and establishing United as a top-flight power for fifteen years.

Wind forward over a quarter of a century from the capture of wee Gordon, and we find Leeds marooned once again in the shadowy hinterland of second-tier football. Morale is low, relegation to a humiliating second spell of League One football remains a faint but nightmarish possibility, the club has just been shaken up with yet another change of ownership and – just to put the tin lid on it – we have a sulky Football League, licking their QC-inflicted wounds and wondering how best to stitch us up in the weeks and months ahead.  What we need right now is inspiration on a par with that provided by our second-greatest ginger Scottish captain way back in the late 80’s.

This blog is open to suggestions here, but it’s difficult to think of a more likely candidate to play the elder statesman role so badly needed in an ineffective and inexperienced midfield than Frank Lampard of Chelsea. The man is a legend, but his ongoing career at Stamford Bridge must surely be in doubt as this season reaches a climax.  He might, of course, feel that he can stay on and fight for a continued place with Mourinho’s winning combination.  He may well end up with a double of League and Champions League this season, after all.  But if he were to decide that he wanted one last challenge – could his mind possibly be led in the same direction as Strachan’s was in 1989?  Could he decide that he wants to be instrumental in reviving the fortunes of a veritable sleeping giant?

Lampard would bring goals, class and composure to our midfield and – while he’d hardly cost the earth in a transfer fee – he would justify what would doubtless be high wages by forming a statement of intent as regards Leeds United’s transfer and team-building plans.  That was exactly the effect the Strachan coup had, back in the day.  Suddenly, Leeds was a possible destination for players of class and ambition.  That one signing made us high-profile again.  Lampard – or someone in his mould – would be the ideal “statement” signing for the summer of 2014.  If Frank doesn’t make the plane to Brazil, it’s more than likely that his England career would be over.  The legs aren’t quite what they used to be, but as part of a midfield which includes younger players to do his running for him, Lampard could be a major success in the Championship.

It remains to be seen, of course, what the summer will bring for Leeds – assuming that we do stay up.  There will be other issues to resolve – will Cellino still be in danger from the more detailed judgement in the Nélie case – or indeed from other cases yet pending?  Will the implications of Financial Fair Play on the back of a year or so’s mismanagement by GFH lead to a cautious transfer policy, despite the fact that Massimo is minted? It all remains to be seen.

For the time being, though – with the Football League temporarily at least chained up and impotent – we can indulge ourselves in a little daring to dream.  The next transfer window should be a lot more interesting than the last few, when the only real debating point was how many lies we were going to be told to flog a few more season tickets.  The signs are that Cellino will not be treading the path of deception, valuing the biggest asset of Leeds United as he does.  “Fans are not for sale, they have feeling and you don’t buy feeling,” he has said. “You can buy a bitch for one night, but you don’t buy the love my friend.”  The man has the soul and spirit of a poet, his fluency of expression promises to be a highlight of the Leeds United soap opera for as long as we’re allowed to keep him. Perhaps such a poet, someone who thinks so clearly and expresses himself so fluently, can look back at history for inspiration and then act on it to provide Elland Road with a new talisman.

If he does, he’s odds-on to have ideas of his own – and who knows, perhaps even Brian will get a say in the matter.  But just while we are daring to dream, my ideal situation would be for the name of Lampard to crop up, and then for Leeds to be audacious enough to ask the question.  Stranger things have happened – two months before Strachan arrived in LS11, any suggestion of that calibre of recruit for Leeds would have led you to a sojourn in a rubber room with the old back-to-front jacket on.  Wind back a further thirty years, and the signing of Bobby Collins from Everton would have appeared equally as outlandish a possibility.

Lampard for Leeds as the latest springboard to success and renaissance? Unlikely perhaps.  But, where Leeds United and Massimo Cellino are concerned, never say never.

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41 responses to “How Leeds Could Do With a Season or Two of Frank Lampard – by Rob Atkinson

  1. scottywhites

    good read again rob,wouldnt that be a dream if lampard even considerd it,i watched him the other night in the champ league and for the oldest man on the pitch[i think] he played really well he had a few shots made some great passes and didnt look to tired at the end but i think he is too high profile and when his chelsea carer is over i think him and the very lovely mrs lampard will be living in st tropez suppose he could jump on a plane and play for us on a satarday lol.
    Tell you what another good coup would be diego forlan he would make a perfect partner for mcc,and as he is nearing the end of his contract could be another dream move.All pipe dreams and wishfull thinking is this what they call the massimo cellino affect lol ………..MOT my friend

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  2. Leeds Forever

    First things first.
    Will McD be the mgr next season? MC has said all the diplomatic things about McD but you and I know McD will be gone by May. MC is smart enough to know that he needs McD to perform the last few games to ensure we stay up – it’s too late to change horse now.
    MC will go with his gut feeling – that McD has to go, that’s why he sacked him – and get a new mgr once safety is assured.

    So much depends on who the next mgr is. Hopefully it will be someone who can stand up to MC and who can demand his way or nothing. It will be someone (who like Wilko) who will interview the owner as much as the owner interviews him. An order taker is no use.

    For this reason MC must be big enough to appoint someone who is genuinely his own man. MC must not rush into such an appointment.

    On the matter of Lampard, yes I think he will be okay. But I also think Gareth Barry can do a job for us. Someone like Williams can ensure the back is strong. Getting two or three seasoned classy campaigners will give us the backbone to bring up our own academy stars (plus new younger signings) who will be our future.
    Milner (who is not so old) is also a good addition. He’s Leeds. If he can be convinced that we will go up within two seasons he might be persuaded to join. I don’t think he will be in Pelligrini’s long term plans.

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  3. First ever post on this site,another good read rob as always, i would say del piero could be a better shout, either one would be nice, M.O.T

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It would be a fabulous signing, that’s for sure. Massimo is just left-field enough to go for the idea!
    As is often pointed, these marquee signings quite often pay for themselves. I remember Fulham signing Georgie Best, and of course even after paying a king’s ransom, LA Galaxy made a fortune out of Beckham.
    Sydney FC is reaping the rewards for its bold capture of del Piero.

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  5. Women are bitches one can buy for the night, then? Must mention that to my daughter.

    Leaving that aside, Lampard looks a bit past it to me, and I could tell you a story about him (I once stayed in the same hotel). Strachan was far more the right kind of personality. Also, I think we need a midfielder who’s more of a front of back four player than Lampard. Unless we think that Murphy, Dawson and Mowatt are irredeemable, and I don’t. For me they’d be part of a stripped-down squad of 13/14 plus kids and 4/5 new players.

    That said I’ve no idea who to suggest. There’s no Collins or Strachan around today. Men of Collins’ background simply no longer exist (which is a good thing) and I always thought Strachan was underrated; one of the best players in the world well into his 30s. Even if we have enough money to spend, I don’t know where you get the 1 or 2 international class players you need as part of the 4/5. European players might not cut it.

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    • Well I don’t know how old your daughter is, but be careful of moralising too much about the Cellino quote which, in effect, is saying that sex can be bought but love is a different matter and infinitely more precious. Your kind of opportunist pulpit stance might be intended to come across as all windswept and interesting with that hint of world-weary cynicism some like to affect – but it can end up seeming naive and foolish just for the sake of wanting to have a snipe at a highly quotable quote.

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  6. Now that would be a brilliant signing and fits MC’s description of players he wants……British, international and fits into our weakest area of midfield. Agree with you Rob, now we can dream again instead of continuing nightmares.

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  7. There’s so much difference in money between Premiership and Championship these days though compared to the late 80’s that signings like Strachan and McAllister for lower midtable Championship clubs just aren’t possible now

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  8. badras1981

    would be nice but all just a dream . too big of a gap in wages these days and theres no chance lampard will drop to 20k

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  9. I don’t think Lampard would up sticks and come, but would Gareth Barry?

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    • I reckon he’d fit very well. Barry for the experienced holding midfielder, Johnson as cover, Snodgrass as the goalscoring winger, Blackstock or similar from Britain or Europe as the striker who can play, any Premiership level or European top division goalkeeper, and a commanding centre back.

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      • Gareth Barry?? is someone pulling my leg here. He’s on something like 100k a week isn’t he? Maybe twenty five years ago when football was still a part of the real world and marginally in touch with the communties it represented. Today- Not a prayer sorry. Forget him and move on. or am I missing something here?

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  10. Andrea Pirlo. Wonder would he fancy swapping the Prosecco for a nice pint of Yorkshire Best for a season or two..

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  11. SnifferClarkesBoots

    I think Cellino hinted at what is to come. A mix (maximum quota) of overseas players – he has scouts all over the world I believe.
    I would predict a competent Italian spine to the side – defence and midfield especially. Who? I cannot guess.
    Cellino is obviously going to have a say in the matter and one would presume he would start with what he knows. He might also think he can get a better player for his money overseas.
    I do agree that finally we have the possibility of exciting (certainly interesting) times ahead.
    Cellino will use the rest of this season to find his feet – get the Leeds vibe – though he’s doing a pretty good job already. The real action will come later. I hope MD is able to enjoy his remaining time. I cannot see him remaining.

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  12. Controversial but Paul Scholes would have been a great player for us this season Rob.

    It will definitely take some premier league class to raise the current standards of our midfield!

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    • Historically speaking, I’m not against signing elderly ginger midfielders from Man U. There’s a useful precedent!

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    • Fuckin Great Shout- sorry the drinks kicking in now lads- He could be your WEE gordon. Forget his past like wee gordon- he could do a very very good job. I know he’s retired but he’s come out once already- out of retirement that is, lol It’s more realistic than Garath bastard Barry- lol made me laugh that one.

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  13. It’s a strange that you mention Frank Lampard ,because that was it all started to go wrong for leeds. We had bought Rio and trying to get Lampard a friend of Rio Ferdinand s he wouldn’t come to leeds,it was just after that the wheels started coming off. As has been said by many of us players do not seem to drop down the league’s anymore to help clubs out and have a second career.Let’s hope that Massimo can entice someone to give us a hand.But I totally agree with your idea Rob another thought provoking article

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  14. Ropey Wyla

    would love Lampard to come but can’t see it somehow, Milner is still one of the most underrated players in the league and would be an even better signing in my opinion but again highly unlikely, more realistic to get a Joey Barton type who can play and has a bit of bite

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    • I’m really looking at a coup to live up to the Strachan one – and to hit his standard character wise. That’s a tough ask and I reckon it rules out Barton. Keep those dare to dream suggestions coming, guys – MOT

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  15. A good call Rob, a Lampard or someone of that ilk would be ideal,however I would struggle to welcome him to ER as he really is one of those media luvvys who gets away with murder on the pitch (something to do with his World class dad who apparently played as well as Pele`) I fear the same would not be true if he played for the Mighty whites, having said that he is fantastic at refereeing a game, him Rooney, Nolan (probably a better shout) and Terry are superb at giving advice to the ref ( less the effs and Jeffs of course!) can you imagine Randolph having a ref`s ear in a game? Im afraid Patwa is understood by the few! A better shout may well be Barry (although he will be signed by the toffees next season) he goes through a game quietly and efficiently, is harder than people think, and gives away the ball rarely. Nolan (I know the baggage) would also be a good shout, a bit of arrogance and as competitive as they come, and scores goals, and as we know from his Geordie past that he is a senior player who looks after the young uns, I have a feeling we will be using the youth again next season! Lastly Rob, can you please write an article where I do not feel like I have to reply, my boss (Missus) keeps wondering who I am writing to!

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    • My picture is on my articles, Rob – show your good lady and she’ll be reassured (or frightened or even more worried!) Meanwhile I hope you keep writing, it’s all good stuff – MOT

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  16. I get the point about a talisman signing to lead us out of the wilderness – I think we’ve already been linked with Del Piero in a player/coach role – how inspirational would he be for our young lads and pure box office for the fans. Forza Leeds.

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  17. Another good post, why not get J Terry as well.

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  18. Wakey Rich

    Lampard, Del Pierro, Lennon, Milner and some cut-price Norwich players (Snodgrass at the very least).

    Leeds boys, come home and do your thing. MOT

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  19. Lamps would be fantastic , even better would be gerrard , (you did say dare to dream rob ) ,,, really looking forward to seeing who Cellino buys first , a real statement of intent is needed…

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  20. scottywhites

    Morning rob,like i said last night lampard is to high profile and wouldnt want to drop a league, but someone like scott parker or cheick tiote from newcastle might be persuaded but i think defence has to be sorted first with a decent goalie make ELLAND RD a fortress again if we are hard to beat you win most of your games liecester for eg or burnley they are hard to beat and will be auto promoted.I have looked all over this morning to see who would be good for us but i dont know any ideas on a good defender that wouldnt cost the earth and could help our useless bunch out and stop the rot…………..MOT

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  21. Now theres trouble at Hull City what about Tom Huddleston. (or anyone out there who can pass the ball to someone in a white shirt).

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    • you need a little diamond from the lower leagues. You can have our scout graham carr to unearth one for you cos he must be fuckin sick of recommending players to Newcastle by now as none of the bastards ever gets signed!!

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  22. scottywhites

    just read man u are gonna have a big clear out in the summer how about ferdinand in defence i know he is getting old but would be very good at this level and then get snody back from nowrich with maybe even gosling could be a good signing has good experience at top flight and looks available in the summer kevin nolan would be ok.But i think wages would be the stopper in all this speculation but as you say we can all dream……..MOT

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    • No! Nooooooooooo!! Not Plug! Anything but Plug!!!!

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    • Ferdinands Finished- I’d beat him over ten yards and i’m 44 and nearly seventeen clem!! he’d finish yous off- stay clear. Young hungry players with an experienced man in the middle of the park- local lads who will run themselves into the ground for the cause. Hard to find but they’re about.

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  23. redheadedanimal

    Hi Rob. I think the idea of Lampard coming anywhere near us is fanciful to the extreme. I don’t see anything that could convince him this is a worthwhile challenge.

    You do absolutely hit the nail on the head on why we need someone like that though. Our entire midfield is devoid of any leadership – in fact make that the entire squad. I don’t think has to be someone that shouts and bellows, but just someone that the squad look up to and can buy in to.

    At this moment in time, we have to be more realistic and except marquee players are not going to take that step down to us. Someone like Scott Parker could be worth exploring, and maybe one last season out of Kevin Phillips.

    You remind of that guy who shouted to Sgt Wilko on the “race for the title” video that we should by Marco Van Basten!

    Dare to dream!

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  24. Good article Rob- you’re canny articulate for a yorkshire man!!lol I agree with you to a point about Frank- what a player. I seen first hand what a cracking little player wee gordon was- we tried to sign him from Aberdeen before he went to the glory hunters- I always admired the way he played the game but today the game of football has changed beyond recognition to what it was twenty five years ago- Players are motivated by the vast sums of money being offered- a last chance of glory with Leeds would have tempted him in wee gordons day but 250k a week to go to the MLS is no contest- players attitudes have changed with the rewards on offer for having to do very little in return. Money has fucked the game, players don’t play for love and glory any more that’s why they’re so out of touch with the working man, we’d all like to think we’d be different but money has corrupted even the most pure of football hearts. It’s a fuckin crying shame to be honest but hopefully the bubble will burst one day soon and then we might get our game back!! NUFC. P.S Little Peter is undoubtedly the best player we’ve ever had- he could still probably do a job for you now the little master, lol

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  25. Beardsley- now you’re talking about a great player- the best in fact- world class. Best player i’ve seen pound for pound. Money couldn’t buy him in today’s climate. Scored every type of goal and not just at 4-0 up meaningless goals but goals when it most mattered. Ive got a picture of him on the living room wall- just to ward off evil spirits and that!!

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