Monthly Archives: June 2014

Louis van Gaal “May Need Surgery” Ahead of Man U Job – by Rob Atkinson

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Louis van Gaal – Ouch!

Alarming news for Man U fans is emerging from Brazil, where their club’s manager-in-waiting has charge of the Dutch squad as Holland bid to win the 2014 World Cup. It appears that Louis van Gaal will probably need lengthy medical treatment for what is being described as “acute peri-anal discomfort” consequent upon a stretching of more than just the truth by the English press corps – who have, of course, had precious little to write about since England’s meek departure from the tournament.

A Dutch spokesman shared his insider’s knowledge with Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything. “Louis was fine, just fine,” he confirmed, “Then England went out and everything just got weird. At first, the English press guys just sat around, making up stories about Ross McCormack of Leeds United. But then, a few of them remembered that Louis is due to be the new Man U manager and, before any of us realised what was happening, about half a dozen of them crawled straight up his arse, causing significant damage and no little embarrassment.”

This sort of rectal intrusion by press hacks from England’s seedier papers is sadly nothing new when it comes to Lancashire’s least club. Wayne Rooney, such a promising performer for England in his Everton days, made a pivotal decision to switch from being “once a blue, always a blue”, joining the Pride of Devon – with the result we’ve all seen only too clearly. Before long, he had four or five of Fleet Street’s finest lodged firmly halfway up his small intestine and, as we all know, he’s never really been the same since.  David Moyes also suffered at the start of last season, but the invasion of his fundament cleared quite rapidly as he demonstrated his utter cluelessness.

Holland’s medical staff are very concerned about the long-term damage caused to their chief’s lower digestive tract – and several are calling for some moderation of the press pack’s behaviour. “We expected a certain amount of over-the-top adulation,” said one, “We knew that Louis would suddenly be hailed the finest coach in the world, a superb tactician and man-manager, all of the usual malarkey. But to shoot straight up his backside like that….” The glum Dutch medico winced and shook his head, sadly. “It’s horrible, simply horrible. I doubt he’ll be able to sit down this side of Man U’s next FA Cup exit. This sort of press behaviour is uncalled for and should schimply schtop.”

Fans of the Pride of Devon had been looking forward to welcoming van Gaal to the Theatre of Hollow Myths in time for the Premier League also-rans’ opening League fixture – but it now seems certain that extensive therapy will be needed after the sycophantic excesses of certain Fourth Estate representatives. One fan, speaking directly to Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything from his supporters club HQ in Exeter, expressed anger and betrayal at the actions of the press. “They’m be ruinin’ Yew-noited’s chaaaaances,” he retorted through a mouthful of zoider and a straw between his teeth. “We’m strugglin’ already to qualifoy fer Europe never moind win stuff as is our roight. Things bain’t goin’ to be any easier if the boss is huuurrt and in Aaaaaaarz-piddle, all becuz of this ‘ere koind o’ thing”.

The latest on this story is that van Gaal’s condition has “eased somewhat” in the wake of the Netherlands’ narrow victory over Mexico to reach the World Cup quarter-finals.  This is thought to be due to the re-emergence of one press hack from the Dutch coach’s fundament.  Mike Crap, of the Scum, re-entered daylight on the final whistle, admitting that he was no longer convinced that van Gaal is the best.  “A few of the boys have stayed up there,” he admitted, “Guys from the Mirror, the Sport, Sky TV and that. They’ll still be writing van Gaal up as the world’s best, but I’m not so sure. I wish now that Dave Hockaday hadn’t turned the Man U job down, but he simply had a better offer. We’ll have to keep the faith with van Gaal, but I’m not so sure after the Mexico performance.  Still, they got through – and there’s still this feeling that Man U really can win the World Cup.  And I can tell you for sure that Ross McCormack is leaving Leeds United – he’s bound for Fulham, 100% certain.  Or Sheffield Wednesday, maybe.  Or Newcastle, if we’re really going to take the Mick.”

Louis van Gaal is currently unavailable for comment, sitting on a rubber ring.

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Relief for Leeds Fans as The Sun Fabricates “Ross Wants Out” Story – by Rob Atkinson

The gutter end of the Fourth Estate are after us again

The gutter end of the Fourth Estate are after us again

Summertime is always a tense part of the calendar for the long-suffering fans of Leeds United – rivalled only by the January transfer window, as we wait in uncomfortable anticipation for the identity of the next star to be sold for a song.  That’s the way it’s been for a good – well, bad – few years now.  It remains to be seen whether things will be substantially different under the reign of il Duce Massimo Cellino.

Clearly, this year’s speculation was inevitably going to surround Ross McCormack.  Top scorer last time around and always first in line to wear his heart on his sleeve when it came to confirming his love for and commitment to Leeds United, McCormack is the jewel in the crown for club and fans.  Such a player is bound to be marked down by the rutting hogs of Fleet Street as the Number One target for their idle speculation, scare stories, made-up rumours and downright lies as they set about their task of appealing to the Leeds-hating majority of their readership.  The lower you go into the gutter, the higher the proportion of Leeds-haters there will be among the buyers of whichever toilet roll you’re talking about – and at the very bottom of the sewer, beneath even the excrement and detritus that is the Mirror, the Mail and the Express, there you will find the Sun and the Sport, rotting away in a noisome mulch of their own writing.

So it’s a big relief when one of these illiterate rags comes out with a clearly made-up story.  Such a one, you can bet your bottom dollar, is Simon Austin’s pisspoor effort today in the Sun.  No sources are quoted – unsurprisingly.  The whole thing stinks of a speculative effort which the hack concerned will quietly forget about when it’s proved wrong.  Austin is merely doing his masters’ bidding in an effort to thrill the anti-Leeds brigade out there – all in the interests of selling more copies.  This commercial prime mover, the need to sell, sell, sell, has always ranked for the Sun and similar toilet papers, far, far above any such considerations as factual reportage and journalistic integrity.  The net effect of all this is that anyone who hates Leeds United will get another cheap if temporary thrill – and anybody with the individualism, originality and sheer good taste to love the club will breathe a sigh of satisfaction and murmur to themselves “It’s in the Sun, so it must be bollocks”.

Similarly, today has brought a couple of snide little reports in the Sport and the Mirror – further examples of the very worst of the British press –  about the Leeds players bringing packed lunches in to training.  Here, it’s the crafty implications of penury that are offensive, not so much any factual inaccuracy.  It’s Fleet Street acting as a purveyor of anti-LUFC propaganda that irritates. The thought of booze-sodden hacks having a chortle over this sort of thing is annoying – but again, it’s merely a sign that they’re doing their level best to paint as negative a picture as possible of a club that it’s firmly in their commercial interests to be seen hating.  It’s a gutter press thing, a talentless hack thing – it should be regarded as natural in terms of what happens all the time at the very bottom of any cess-pit.  The particularly disappointing aspect is that certain internet outlets, who should know better, pick up these myths and recycle them as fact

The moral, of course, is to avoid all of the bog-roll tabloids, or – at the very least – to take their lies merely as confirmation that there’s nothing to worry about as yet. More reliable information is usually available from the better-informed blogs of several clubs, from players’ Twitter feeds, from the so-called “quality” press (some of them) – or even (occasionally) from Leeds United itself.  The local press also provides an option that is almost respectable as compared to the mendacious hacks who peddle their lies for the gutter-end of the national press.

For the time being, then, there is no cause for alarm.  The Sun says that Ross wants out; so we can be tolerably certain that – at present – he’s looking forward to another season of stand-out performances in the white shirt of Leeds United.

 

Can Leeds United Hero, Agent Moyes, Keep Up his Good Work?? – by Rob Atkinson

Moyes - a hero to not just Leeds fans

Moyes – a hero to not just Leeds fans

The Leeds United “Man of the Season” for 2013/14, David Moyes, certainly pulled all the stops out last time around as – virtually single-handed – he returned Man U to the mediocrity from which they should never have emerged, cheering up all real fans of the One True United in the process.

Sadly, his distinguished service to the game in general, and to those of an Elland Road persuasion in particular, earned him only the dubious reward of the sack. It’s a shame, especially as he was looking ready and able to build on his many unprecedented achievements at the Theatre of Hollow Myths. Now the fallen media favourites will set about recovery. True to their legendary youth policy and horror of buying success, they already seem committed to a £60m outlay on two players. Even though talent and success are withering and waning at the Trafford Redsox Ballpark, hypocrisy, that hardy annual of the Man U psyche, flourishes yet.

The fantastic job Moyes did at the Man U franchise, reducing the Pride of Devon to the laughing stock of the North West, was a masterpiece of destruction, fully appreciated by football lovers everywhere except Torquay, Milton Keynes and Barnsley. Every other Lancashire club helped themselves to six easy points from the so-called “Greatest Club in the World” and two feeble Cup exits at home had proper football fans everywhere splitting their sides laughing. For those with the good of the game at heart, the legend that is Moyes attained a status accorded normally only to heroes. How very apt.

Now it appears that Moyes is set to move on to the other target at the top of any Leeds fan’s hate list, and set about his work of annihilation at Galatasaray, a club who deserve to plummet just as precipitously as did Man U – if not more so.

No explanation is necessary for the hatred and contempt that Leeds United fans bear for that dreadful club and its animal fans.  The matter speaks for itself. Suffice it to say, as far as this blog is concerned, that failure and misery is the very least we wish them – and if last season’s exploits are anything to go by, then we might just have the very man in David Moyes to bring about those desirable outcomes.  However he managed to compass the demise of the Stretford Scum, more power to his elbow in employing exactly the same techniques to bring down the most disgusting club in the world to a well-deserved low point in their recent history.

Moyes, after all, has done it once; he can certainly do it again.  Even at Everton, where his performance supposedly fitted him for “elevation” to the hot-seat at the Theatre of Hollow Myths, his record was notably silverware-free.  In the wake of his departure for pastures more perilous, Everton – under the studiously technical guidance of Roberto Martinez – have enjoyed their best season for years, including six points from Man U as they finally fulfilled Moysie’s decade-long dream of finishing above their rivals from the red quarter of Manchester.

Good luck then, David Moyes, adopted hero of Leeds United fans as well as those of several other clubs, as you set forth to write a new and hopefully grimly disappointing chapter in the history of a club for whom despair and disappointment should be the norm.  We shall follow your progress with interest.  Closer to home, we’ll all be hoping that the legacy of your reign at Man U is not so easily undone, and that a repeat of last season’s hilarious cock-ups may be afforded us.  Really, as long-suffering Leeds fans, it’s the very least we deserve. 

Guest Post – Slipping Away: The Truth Behind Alzheimer’s Disease

Close to home for me. A worthy cause, a disease that needs to be fought.

Millwall Sell Out Hospitality Boxes for Leeds United “Cup Final” Opener – by Rob Atkinson

Millwall hospitality boxes - both SOLD OUT for the visit of Leeds United

Millwall hospitality boxes – both SOLD OUT for the visit of Leeds United

World Cup fever may be abating around the country with England’s dismal performances and early exit – but in one small and unregarded part of Sarf-east London, the bunting still flutters bravely, the excitement still builds and the atmosphere is abuzz with more than just the usual stench of unwashed bodies. Bermondsey is rocking with fevered anticipation, because Leeds United are on a journey from far-away civilisation into the Lions’ New Den.  The name of the Yorkshire giants is on the lips of every local resident who can “tawk pwopah” and those who can read are eagerly assimilating the preview articles in that giant of the local press, the “News Shopper” – a paper which rejoices in its description of being to local reporting what Julian Clary is to Rugby League. Excitement could hardly be any higher; there is a carnival atmosphere abroad on the narrow and dirty streets.  The biggest game of the season is first up – it’ll all be downhill from there.

Such is the level of interest in the Cup Final event that Millwall have actually sold out their hospitality boxes – the last word in Bermondsey executive luxury (pictured above) – almost two months ahead of the game. The boxes, constructed out of the finest Lidl-surplus cardboard and each furnished with a crate of White Lightening cider, a barrel of jellied eels and the latest in high-capacity, low-odour commodes, went on sale shortly after the opening fixture against Leeds was announced – and within 3 days, both boxes had completely sold out.  For two groups of up to three Millwall fans each to show such dedication and faith this far ahead of the season is as unprecedented as it is impressive.  The boxes cost a mind-boggling £17.49 each for the Leeds game, as opposed to a more reasonable £9.99 for an ordinary match – but even that’s still four times the average weekly wage for the fans of the Lions.  The fact that around half a dozen fanatics have made such a heavy investment is a mark of their faith in their relegation-cert favourites – and also, of course, of the attractiveness of a match with such famous opponents.

All that remains now is for the Lions to produce their normal enhanced level of effort for what they acknowledge is the biggest game in their calendar, with a view to replicating last season’s fluke result.  If that unlikely outcome could be made a reality, then it’ll be a case of Knees Up Muvver Brown all the way to Valentines Day, when upwards of a dozen intrepid souls will venture norf for the return fixture at Elland Road.

Yes, folks – World Cup or no World Cup, football fever is well under way in the noisome back-alleys of Bermondsey – as the countdown continues to the first of the Lions’ two glimpses of the big time next season.  Don’t miss out!  Both state-of-the-art hospitality boxes have gone, but your place in the stands is still up for grabs – so dig out those Turkish shirts, tool up, get some dutch courage dahn yer Gregory Peck – and it’s orf to the Den on August the 9th – Cup Final day!!

See yer dahn there, me old china plates…

Suarez Storm Exposes Depths of Football’s Hypocrisy – by Rob Atkinson

Suárez - the eye-teeth have it

Suárez – the eye-teeth have it

As a long-suffering fan of Leeds United Football Club, I’m no stranger to cant and hypocrisy as delivered by some of the mealy-mouthed “Guardians of the Good Name of Football” types, who infest the media to sickening effect. My club much more than most has been the target and victim of some of these holier-than-thou merchants over the years, the kind of people who will loudly condemn a Revie, a Bremner or a Bowyer whilst turning a conveniently blind eye to the peccadilloes of a Georgie Best, a Saint Bobby Charlton or a Royston Keane. It’s all part of the United-supporting experience, but no less nauseating for that. As an experienced and cynical White, you tend to sigh, roll your eyes and reflect upon what unctuous pillocks some people are. It’s a Leeds thing – but it manifests itself more broadly than that sometimes. The few hours since the Uruguay v Italy World Cup game are ample proof of this.

This short lapse of time, since Luis Suárez hurled himself once more into the teeth of a storm of public disapproval and disgust, has been a veritable feast, a feeding frenzy for saintly hypocrites everywhere. It shows no sign of abating; those who seek the moral high ground can scent the blood of a perennial target – and this time, they mean to get him. Prominent among these people, working himself up into a froth of indignant condemnation, is ITV’s own cabbage-patch doll tribute, Adrian Chiles. The man who is to bone structure what Wayne Rooney is to flower power coiffure, seems to be in the process of establishing himself as prat-in-chief among the sorry ranks of football presenters. Nothing is too trivial, no issue too banal that we’ll fail to hear those lugubriously annoying Midlands tones as Chiles essays another laboriously-crafted shaft of wit – pardon the unintentional spoonerism there.

Sitting alongside Chiles, as often as not, wearing his trademark glower in the hope that one or other of his colleagues will smilingly point out just how damned hard he is, will be Roy Keane – ex-footballer and dispenser of summary justice as defined by, erm, Roy Keane.  The Chiles/Keane axis can be a little uncomfortable to watch for anyone whose sensitivities include the thorny issue of unrequited love.  Chiles so openly slavers over the former Man U thug that you begin to worry about the absorbent capacity of his tie. It’s a one-sided bromance that makes you, as an onlooker, wince with pain as the hapless and cushion-faced anchorman makes cow’s eyes at the ex-footballer, who affords him only a sneer and another glower from under those knitted brows by way of return.  It’s car-crash TV – you ache for the hopeless yearning of Chiles and you want to look away when you see the Celtic indifference displayed by the object of his adoration.  But there’s a horrid fascination about the scene, and we’re reminded uncomfortably of our own episodes of hero-worship in our callow and distant youth.  To see a grown man, even one as fatally foetal as Chiles, going through such adolescent love pangs is at once repellent and riveting.

The irony is, of course, that part of Chiles’ remit is to jump aboard the nationally-sponsored anti-Suárez bandwagon.  It’s something he does eagerly enough; clearly he feels himself to cut something of a dash while he’s verbally pulling to pieces such a conveniently distant target.  After all, he can’t see himself in a mirror when he’s in mid-rant.  The reason that Chiles is such a case in point is that, during infrequent pauses for breath as he lambastes his latest absent target, he will glance adoringly yet again at Mr Keane, the urgent desire for approval writ large across his Pilsbury Doughman features.  Doesn’t it strike you that there’s something incongruous about all of this?  Whatever the sins of the Uruguayan – does not the beloved Roy have a rap sheet just as long and twice as disgusting?

I’m not expecting too much agreement here – after all, anti-Suárez sentiments have been abroad for a good while, and won’t have been ameliorated by his brace of goals against Engerland last week.  But really – is the little Liverpool genius that much more to be condemned than, for instance, Keane – a man receipted and filed for an arrogant thug and a brazen coward?

Neither is this blog looking to defend Luis Suárez, not on the substantive issue of this compulsion of his to sink his teeth into folk, anyway.  In the eyes of Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything, he is guilty beyond doubt of immense stupidity – he is in fact a repeat offender in that respect. There’s something wrong there, something fundamentally at fault under the bonnet.  It seems that such fatal flaws often go hand-in-hand with the kind of genius which blesses Suárez – similar examples are not hard to think of.  Gascoigne, Best, Cantona.  They all, to a greater or lesser degree, had and have a screw loose.  The misfortune of Suárez is that he’s a serial recidivist, someone who seemingly can’t avoid re-offending, with the same modus operandi cropping up time and time again.

This blog will also freely concede that biting is a disgusting offence against the laws of the game and also against natural decency – on an old-fashioned level, it’s simply not the way a chap goes about sorting out his differences with another chap.  It’s not cricket; not the done thing.  Perhaps things are different in Uruguay, perhaps this is just another of those unknown “cultural differences” as in the Patrice Evra “negrito” storm, something that football in this country, and the football press, have neither forgiven nor forgotten.  You don’t call a chap nasty names (especially when he plays for Man U) – and you don’t bite, inflicting your DNA upon some unwilling recipient.  It’s unmanly and possibly unhealthy.  Perhaps if the sins of Suárez were more manifestly British in character – perhaps something along the lines of the various acts perpetrated by Mr Keane in his time – then we’d more readily understand and forgive.  But, as they’re not – as they have this alien flavour to them, it’s all to easy to cast the foreigner as scapegoat, whilst dismissing more easily-understandable fouls and transgressions with a nod, a wink and a grin – Roy’s such a bad lad, a proper hard-man, tsk tsk – but really, you know, he’s one of us.  This nasty subtext of xenophobia underpins the differing ways in which the actions of Suárez and Keane are perceived, rationalised and – as the case may be – excused or condemned.

Don’t get me wrong.  I wouldn’t like to be trying to play football and then feel a set of teeth sinking into my shoulder.  I wouldn’t like it at all, and I doubt I’d have the restraint merely to whine at the referee if I were to be thus assailed. But ask me in the cold light of day whether I’d prefer that, or a calculated stamp intended to smash the knee of my weight-bearing leg – and I’d unhesitatingly plump for the Uruguayan’s top set every time.  A bite-mark heals a hell of a lot faster than ruptured ligaments.  And the fact is that Roy Keane – who carried out just such an assault on Alf-Inge Haaland, as all Leeds and Man City fans will remember – later acknowledged it as a coldly premeditated act, born of his anger at Haaland’s mocking him as he lay with a ruptured ligament of his own on the Elland Road turf in 1997.  That injury was sustained in the course of Keane trying to commit a foul; Haaland was innocent of any crime except the mouthful he gave to Keane, accusing him of feigning injury.  But Roy bore a grudge, Roy bided his time and Roy set out to end the career of Alf-Inge Haaland when they met in a Manchester derby four years later.  It was the act of a self-righteous, deluded coward; how Keane has this hard-man image utterly escapes me.  Another of his retaliatory acts was committed against that not-exactly-scary individual Jason McAteer, a player who would scarcely cause anyone to worry about the consequences of fouling him. But, in delivering a sly elbow to the face, Keane characteristically sneaked up from behind and then ran away – which neatly sums him up as the moral coward and fake hard-man he undoubtedly is.

So when we see the likes of Chiles having his empty-headed rant at the silly-boy actions of a firebrand and hair-trigger character like Luis Suárez – let’s not forget that one of his studio colleagues almost certainly has a hell of a lot more to answer for in terms of conduct unbecoming.  And yet, allowances were made for Keane throughout a career stained by many examples of petulant and vicious actions, with the man himself remaining arrogant, unrepentant, intent only on maintaining his illusory image as a tough guy.  As for Suárez, the press are even now engaged in talking up the length and severity of his punishment, as well as wondering excitedly whether or not any sanctions might spill over into Liverpool’s domestic campaign.  Let’s not forget that the Reds had to do without their Latin genius for the first few games of last season, courtesy of his last dental indiscretion.  It might even have made the difference by which they eventually lost the title – a high price to pay for proud and long-suffering fans. If the hypocrites have their way, then we will be denied the spectacle of one of the world’s very top players parading his genius – for that is what it is – not only for the remainder of the World Cup, but also well into the Premier League season yet to come.  The BBC are amazingly, ridiculously, mentioning a possible two year ban as I write. That would be a terrible tragedy, an injustice and a gross misreading of what is good for the game.

As I said earlier, genius is frequently accompanied by a lunatic fringe of unpredictably bizarre behaviour.  Genius is what Luis Suárez has, to a lavish degree.  He is one of the very few players for whom even today’s extortionate match ticket prices are well worth the investment.  Genius always deserves some latitude, some understanding of the nature of the beast.  Such is my assessment of the Suárez dilemma; genius has its prerogatives and will always be its own excuse.  By that reckoning, what possible excuse can there be for ersatz tough-guy and decided non-genius Royston Keane?  We’d better leave that to his besotted friend and colleague, hypocrite extraordinaire Adrian Chiles.

Dave Hockaday is Our Man, Let’s Give Him 100% Backing – by Rob Atkinson

It's the Massimo & Dave show

It’s the Massimo & Dave show

“We go out and we sweat blood, we’re hard-working, we are hungry and we are honest. That’s what the Leeds fans want – that goes for any league you’re in.

“So we will go out there and give everything and more for the cause and people will applaud that and they’ll be happy with that because we’re going to give them everything we’ve got.”

Dave Hockaday

At last, a giant stride forward towards preparing for the new season at Elland Road. Leeds United have a new management structure and the pivotal role of Head Coach within that structure will be filled by the experienced Dave Hockaday. That is official. Now, let’s get right behind Dave and do our job of supporting Leeds United.

It’s far too easy to sit back and carp, criticise and generally whinge about the fact that our new Head Coach is not the biggest name in football. This blog will not choose that lazy option, I will not be climbing aboard any convenient bandwagons. Mr. Hockaday has the job; he will now have to set about proving that he can do it. His first interview showed the necessary appetite and determination; he spoke of wanting to see the desire for success in players’ eyes. Now that’s a sentiment that should strike a chord with Leeds fans – as a crowd, we’ve always prized guts, desire, effort. Whether Dave Hockaday can instil these qualities in his troops is for him to demonstrate; in the meantime, the very least he deserves is the respect of us all for stepping up to the plate – and also our full support as he gets stuck into his remit.

The internet is abuzz with why-oh-why merchants each peddling their own brand of negativity or look-how-cool-I-am cynicism. What, precisely, will any of that gain for Leeds United? Even if they turn out to be right, all it gets for them is a chance to say I told you so. (And if they’re wrong, they’ll just subside into silence). We simply don’t know yet how this will turn out. But there are several good reasons why we shouldn’t slavishly join in this premature brandishing of egos. And those are equally adequate reasons why the people currently indulging themselves in an orgy of pessimism (and thoroughly enjoying it from the sound of it) might just be utterly wrong.

Consider; where did Jose Mourinho spring from into his sudden sunburst of glory and fame? He was Bobby Robson’s interpreter; not exactly a ready-made and world-class candidate for the title of “Special One”. Who did Leeds United turn to in March 1961, after the likes of Raich Carter and Frank Buckley had failed to lift the club above humdrum mediocrity? A veteran player on their own books, that’s who – a man on the point of applying to Bournemouth for his first managerial job. Bloke by the name of Don Revie. I’ll bet there were gloom and doom merchants then, shaking their heads and calling on the board to look elsewhere, look to proven experience. Good job they stuck to their guns then – isn’t it?

People say that Hockaday has failed at non-league level. Those same people might be aware that he did OK at Watford, especially in a certain play-off final at the Millennium Stadium in 2006, when the Hornets stung the Peacocks 3-0. But they ignore that, and emphasise the downside, his record at Forest Green. I’ve just been reading Harry Redknapp’s book – he did some time in non-league – and didn’t pull up too many trees. He was at Bournemouth when they fell out of the second tier in 1990 as well. But he’s done alright apart from that, ‘Arry – hasn’t he?

We just don’t know how the Hockaday appointment will pan out. What we do know is that he’d better succeed, or – according to the Cellino script – he’ll be out of the door. Cellino’s track record is a matter of public notoriety, but Hockaday is evidently up for the challenge; he has his player targets which he’s already discussed with il Duce – and he wants to hang on to McCormack. He looks clear-eyed and realistic to me, and he deserves the chance he’s been given; moreover, he deserves the backing and support to take that chance, as he intends, with both hands.

It’s time for the negativity and moaning to stop; indeed, it’s embarrassing that it’s even started before the guy’s had the chance to so much as find his desk. People are citing fans of other clubs, taking the mick. Come on – surely we’re better than that?? Surely we’re bigger and stronger than to be bothered about what fans of lesser clubs think? We Are Leeds, after all – that still means something. Let’s not lose sight of it.

It’s time to March On Together now. We have our man, for better or worse – and we can’t yet know which it will be. Give him a chance, get behind him, support the club and its staff on and off the pitch in the way Leeds fans are famous for – loud and proud. Let’s make Elland Road a fortress again, an intimidating cauldron of noise and passion. Forget fans of other clubs, forget bandwagon jumpers and joylessly negative bloggers. It’s time to stand up and be counted.

We Are Leeds. Now let’s all get stuck into making next season as good as it possibly can be.

High Stakes at Leeds United: Is Cellino Gambling With the Fans’ Faith? – by Rob Atkinson

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Cellino: gambling with high stakes?

Rumours abound that a new Head Coach appointment is imminent at Leeds United, though there is as yet no white smoke emanating from Elland Road. What there is plenty of, however, is sound and fury from the club’s supporter base, a goodly proportion of which are expressing some dissatisfaction with the mooted appointment of Dave Hockaday to the senior position within United’s first team coaching structure.  It is fair to say that some parts of his CV make for worrying reading; naysayers are quick to point at what they would term a failure at lowly Forest Green Rovers.  Others, more inclined to give a new man a fair crack of the whip, will recall that Hockaday was instrumental in the preparation of the Watford side that stepped out for a play-off final at Cardiff in 2006, looking ready for business, and easily dismissed fellow promotion hopefuls Leeds United 3-0 to add another chapter to our dismal record in that end of season lottery. The truth is that nobody out here in Fanland can really know which Hockaday incarnation we are likely to see if this surprising appointment does go through.  It’s going to be very much a case of awaiting the proof of the pudding.  The big question at this time must be: just how much of a gamble is Massimo Cellino taking – and is he confident that such a relatively unknown recruit can gain the faith and trust of players and fans alike?

As my good friends and partners at GamblingSitesOnline.org would confirm, a gamble is a pleasurable distraction; an exciting chance to gain much for a relatively small outlay.  There is enjoyment win or lose, and your seasoned gambler knows the score and sets his sights accordingly.  So what is Cellino’s mindset as he contemplates the final unveiling of his head coach?  He must be aware of the need to have the bulk of the fan base on board as Leeds United embark on a vital season, with the composition of the squad still very uncertain, with the pre-season programme sketchy to say the least and with a growing sense of disgruntlement after the brief honeymoon enjoyed by the man from Cagliari via Miami.

There is even ongoing doubt about Cellino’s involvement with Leeds in the medium to long term.  The judgement of the Italian court in the Nélie yacht import duty case was not, at the time, enough to back up the Football League’s intention of blocking the Eleonora Sport takeover of United.  But a full statement of that judgement, expected within 90 days of the case initially, could – if it imputes dishonesty – open the way for further action. It is fair to say that the League are watching events closely, stung as they were by the overturning of their original decision.  The latest suggestion is that the judge in the Nélie case may even have asked for a further 90 days before handing down her reasoned judgement.  The reasons for what would be a fairly unusual request for extension of that time limit are not clear.

Any football decision is, to a greater or lesser degree, a gamble.  Football is not an exact science, and gut feeling, instinct, call it what you will, must play a large part in the process behind any transfer or other recruitment.  A man might succeed in one job, as Hockaday certainly did at Watford – and fail in another, as he appears to have done way down the ladder at Forest Green.  None of this is a sure guide to future performance – but questions will be asked by a notoriously militant group of passionate and involved supporters, about such a seemingly low-profile appointment at what is still a major football club with a global reputation.

Massimo Cellino has shown himself to be a prudent financial manager – especially for an allegedly very wealthy man – since he walked through the doors at Elland Road.  Some of his cost-cutting measures have bordered on the parsimonious, yet he has been quite prompt in paying off certain pressing bills and seeing off wolves from our door; then again, stories persist of wages unpaid as the club’s accounts have been frozen.  All in all, there has been progress of a sort – getting rid of various undesirables from the club certainly constitutes positive progress – and yet nasty little doubts persist, drifting around the club and through the hearts and minds of each devoted fan.

At the end of the day, as supporters, it behoves us to support – and that means giving the owner the latitude to make the decisions he considers necessary and best for the future of the club.  We then also have to give any Cellino appointment a chance to show us what he’s made of, instead of pouncing upon the guy before he’s even got his feet under the table.  To do otherwise would be unfair and counter-productive.  Supporters have a vital role to play in the success of any football club – and if it is to be success, then that role must be a positive one.  In other words, we need to reserve judgement and see how things pan out.  That’s the view of this blog, anyway – taken in full appreciation that these are uncertain times and that many people with Leeds United held dear in their hearts are not at all happy with the way things seem to be going.  But we have to keep the faith.

Is Cellino gambling with the hearts and minds of the fans?  Probably he is – and he will be aware that those are high stakes.  But he also has the right to expect that, as a body of support, we will keep our nerve and stay in the game.  We have to believe that, from Cellino downwards, everyone involved wants the best for the club.  Time alone will tell whether the decisions being made now will prove to be the right ones to bring about desirable outcomes – that’s the gamble we all have to be a party to.

If it is to be Hockaday – possibly with other staff yet to be confirmed alongside him – then let’s at least acknowledge them as part of Leeds United and therefore entitled to our full support.  And let’s see where we go from there. 

Some Man Utd Jokes; Good Clean Fun for Leeds Fans – by Rob Atkinson

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Too much serious stuff is bad for a blog. Let’s have some good, healthy anti-scum humour:

A Leeds-supporting white van driver used to amuse himself by running over every man u fan he would see strutting down the side of the road, dressed in their hideous red colours. He would swerve to hit them and there would be a loud “THUMP” and then he would swerve back onto the road.

One day, as the driver was driving along, he saw a priest hitch-hiking. He thought he would do a good turn and pulled the van over. He asked the Priest, “Where are you going, Father?”

“I’m going to say mass at St. Joseph’s church, about two miles down the road,” replied the priest.

“No problem Father! I’ll give you a lift. Climb in!”

The happy priest climbed into the passenger seat and the van continued down the road. Suddenly the driver saw a man u fan walking down the road and instinctively swerved to hit him. But, just in time, he remembered the bloody priest, so at the last minute he swerved back to the road, narrowly missing the man.

However, even though he was certain he’d missed the glory-hunting specimen, he still heard a loud “THUD”. Not understanding where the noise came from, he glanced in his mirrors and when he didn’t see anything he turned to the priest and said, “I’m sorry Father, I almost hit that man u fan, just swerved to miss him!”

“Never fear, my son,” replied the priest. “I got the bugger with the door…”

-o0o-

Q: What has Old Trafford on a Saturday afternoon at 4:45 pm got in common with Wormwood Scrubs Prison?
A: They are both full of cockneys trying to get out.

-o0o-

A man u fan dies on match day and goes to heaven in his man u shirt. He knocks on the old pearly gates and out walks St. Peter wearing a Leeds United top.

“Hello mate,” says St. Peter, “I’m sorry, no man u fans in heaven.”
“What?” exclaims the man, astonished.
“You heard, no man u fans.”
“But, but, but….. I’ve been a good man,” replies the aghast man u supporter.
“Oh really,” says St. Peter. “What have you done, then?”
“Well,” said the guy, “Three weeks before I died, I gave £10 to the starving children in Africa.”
“Oh,” says St. Peter. “Anything else?”
“Well, two weeks before I died, I also gave £10 to the homeless.”
“Hmmm. Anything else?”
“Yeah. A week before I died I gave another £10 to the Albanian orphans.”
“Okay,” said St. Peter, “You wait here a minute while I have a word with the governor.”

Ten minutes pass before St. Peter returns. He looks the bloke in the eye and says, “I’ve had a word with God – actually, He lets me call him Don.  Anyway, He agrees with me. Here’s your thirty quid back, now bugger off.”

-o0o-

Top tip for Manchester United fans: don’t waste money on expensive new kits every season. Simply strap an inflatable penis to your forehead, and everyone will immediately know which team you support.

Please feel free to contribute your own anti-scum jokes in the comments to this article.  Times are hard and friends are few – it’s our solemn duty to laugh at the scum.

Millwall Defender Dunne Can’t Wait for Cup Final Opener Against Leeds – by Rob Atkinson

Alan Dunne anticipates the visit of Mighty Leeds

Alan Dunne anticipates the visit of Mighty Leeds

Last season’s relegation strugglers Millwall have been granted the best possible reward for their achievement in avoiding the drop back into League One. Despite the undoubted attraction of a local derby against ex-Premier League Fulham in the season’s second week, it is the visit of Leeds United on the opening day of the campaign that has the Lions salivating. There’s nothing like a Cup Final to bring out the fans, and Millwall will confidently be expecting a bumper attendance for what is the biggest home fixture for any club in the Championship.

Millwall veteran Alan Dunne – sent off a record nine times in his Lions career – happily confirmed that the opening game simply could not have been any bigger for the tiny London outfit.  “To start with a game at The Den against Leeds is exciting,” the defender said. “It’s the perfect opening day game. The fans will be there in numbers so it promises to be a cracking atmosphere. As a player you look to all the really big games.”

It’s an attitude that Leeds United will need to be wary of, having slipped to defeat at the New Den last season, despite the fact that Millwall proved themselves over the course of the league programme to be one of the weaker teams in the division.  A tendency to slip up against inferior opposition was a hallmark of United’s failure to make any impact on the promotion race and, along with the lesser Yorkshire clubs, the Pride of Bermondsey have long been a thorn in Leeds’ sides – passionately encouraged by a small but violent following for whom a victory over the Yorkshire giants counts as Christmas, a few birthdays, a knees-up with Mother Brown and a first date with a close relative, all rolled into one.

Taking into account all the factors that normally affect this fixture, Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything will predict the following: a score draw at best for the travelling Whites to open the seasonal account; at least a dozen grinning apes proudly wearing the shirt of a club in Turkey which is Millwall’s broad equivalent in terms of sickness and violence; Millwall club officials standing by and doing nothing while this goes on, as the illiterate hacks in the local press turn a blind eye also; and lastly, Millwall’s highest gate of the season as early as this opening day, with a steady decline thereafter as the Cup Final recedes into memory.

Leeds for their part will hope for a win in what should be one of the easier away fixtures on the calendar, but as we have seen, other factors come into play.  A point would be a decent haul, especially as a routine victory can be expected in a St. Valentines Day massacre of an Elland Road return, where the brave Neanderthals who so faithfully follow their team around the country can be expected to muster no more than a dozen or two, against a chorus of the usual excuses about “bubble” fixtures.

So, a new season draws that bit closer – and, even while the World Cup is still being played for in Brazil, thoughts at home are already turning to the league battles ahead.  Just ask Alan Dunne, who simply can’t wait for the massive Leeds United game – and perhaps a chance to hit double figures in his red card tally? Time alone will tell.