Tabloid Smears Can’t Mask Growing Optimism at Leeds – by Rob Atkinson

Big Mass

Big Mass

It’s been just another few days in the grubby life of tabloid sports journalism UK style. Those booze-befuddled hacks, desperate to sell more copies than their fellow downmarket scandal rags, wallow happily in a sea of effluent they’ve excreted themselves, pandering to their readership’s darker prejudices. The target, of course, is everybody else’s favourite bêtes noires, our own beloved heroes in white, Leeds United.

This week, it’s been the Daily Heil with a mish-mash of unrelated stabs in the dark, all attempting to add up to a hatchet job. Very poor, very amateur … very Daily Heil. The truly awful Daily Mirror, for their part, attempted to up the ante by luring an unwary ex-United hero, Dominic Matteo, asking him a bunch of loaded questions and publishing the result under the supportive title of “Leeds are a laughing stock and I fear they’ll get relegated”.  Matteo’s recent dismissal from his position at the club is, of course, entirely unrelated to the views he now expresses, which in turn have nothing to do with the soiled wad of banknotes undoubtedly pushed his way from the Mirror‘s own filth fund. This blog understands that Matteo himself is less than impressed with the headline, the poor naïve soul. Bit late now, Dom – isn’t it? For future reference: when you sup with the Devil, you’d better use a long spoon.

The good thing is that neither of these pisspoor efforts at spreading alarm and despondency have been any more effective than a cat-flap in an elephant house. They’re irritating, nothing more – the kind of articles you could predict, almost word-for-word, without even having to glance at them. Such is the parlous state of UK tabloid coverage regarding football in general and Leeds United in particular. These people have their agenda and, once you take that on board, their stuff generally means nothing.

The other good thing is that, slowly but with gathering momentum, the Leeds United locomotive is pulling away from the sidings and getting ready for full steam up. The driving force behind this is, of course, United’s own Signor Loco, Massimo Cellino. There is definitely something about this guy that hasn’t been seen in the vicinity of Elland Road since – well, ever. He’s one on his own is Big Mass, they broke the mould when they made him. From a most inauspicious start, he’s gradually won over more and more of the vast Leeds United army out here. Supporters of the maverick Italian have seemed to outnumber the naysayers and doom/gloom merchants for some time now. In the beginning, the balance was rather different.


The wisdom of Cellino

The wisdom of Big Mass

The thing about Cellino is, every time he opens his mouth, pure gold pours out. For a stranger to these shores, he has a way with the language that is at once unique, compelling and deeply memorable. We all remember his observations about buying a bitch for a night, but not being able to buy the love, my friend. Admittedly, he’s not the most PC guy around. But that was a hell of a quotable sound-bite for somebody caught unawares by a phone call out of the blue, more than a touch ‘tired and emotional’ and with his guard distinctly down. There’s a fluency to the quote, a rhythm that lodges it in your consciousness. He’s been coming out with similarly notable pronouncements ever since. Some are less printable than others, but all have that Big Mass stamp of authority, confidence and authenticity about them.  Cellino shoots from the lip, he doesn’t waste words and he always makes his point crystal clear.

Actions, they say, speak louder than words – so it’s encouraging that Big Mass has recently started to show himself as a do-er and not just a talker. Shock waves are still reverberating around the football world at the price he extorted from poor old Fulham FC for a flash-in-the-pan Scottish badge-kisser of dubious motivation and fitness. People keep appearing in social media, all shocked-like, and pointing out another two or three internationals who have moved for a combined fee of less than Cellino got for Rossco. Don Revie described his capture of John Giles from Man U as “robbery with violence” – and so it was. By that reckoning, Fulham have been the victims of an armed blag that John McVicar would have been proud of.

The sale of McCormack was greeted by a kind of astounded approval by the Leeds United supporters fraternity – remarkable when you consider it represented the departure of yet another top performer, even though you did have the feeling that No. 44 might have had difficulty reproducing that annus mirabilis form next time around. But there were no mass protests, there was no real social media uproar. People were just too damned impressed by the amount we got. Naturally, there have been some feeble peeps from the usual doom-monger suspects, bleating about the figure being misleading, blah blah. But for the most part, we seem satisfied with the deal – and why the hell not?

If that wasn’t enough reason for a burgeoning optimism about LS11, then throw in a rash of signings since Ross sulked off down south, mostly unknown to us it’s true – but that doesn’t mean they aren’t quality. Nobody had heard of Hasselbaink before he arrived, or Radebe, or even Yeboah to a certain extent. Cellino and his deal-maker Salerno have form for finding rough diamonds and polishing them up. They managed it in a Fiat 500, and their stock is a lot higher now that they’re in charge of a Porsche. And all the time, Big Mass is there, hands on, sorting problems and building towards the new season, generally smiling, throwing out little nuggets about having millions in working capital – generally creating an atmosphere of positivity around Leeds that we haven’t seen the like of since before Publicity Pete got found out. A 16-0 pre-season win has done nothing to harm this heady feeling of reckless happiness, either (doom-mongers: “Who were we playing, Brazil?? Haw, haw, haw.”)

In such a swaggering manner are we sauntering expectantly towards the new season and 46 acid tests of the new regime. It won’t be all moonlight and roses, we can be sure enough of that. But there does now seem to be a new, unfamiliar optimism in the air, a feeling that last season can be consigned to history with a lot of its baggage now shed and a tasty few signings on board – with more to come. The feeling is growing that the new season will see a Leeds United worthy of our support – and that is support well worth having, when the crowd are up for it and the team are fighting for the shirt. We’ve seen those days before, long ago admittedly – but who knows? Maybe they’re on the point of coming back.

If that is the case – well, it’d take more than a few miserable and talent-free hacks wielding their poison pens to deflect us from our path onwards and upwards.  We’ll be Marching On Together quite shortly now, setting off on that League marathon with a visit to darkest Millwall. Bring it on, then. Forza Leeds and the tabloids can stick their spite and negativity where the sun don’t shine.

40 responses to “Tabloid Smears Can’t Mask Growing Optimism at Leeds – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Full URL says NOT FOUND Rob.


    Kev Lane


  2. Very good and well written article. The cesspit of decaying soundbites also unfortunately includes some leeds doombloggers. Refreshing to read views that mirror (argh) the views of the open minded and thinking Leeds supporters amongst us. Keep up the good work. MOT with MC.


  3. you can count on one thing – MC will not get mugged and that means neither will Leeds – for the first time in years we have a football crazy man running the club and therefore if it does go wrong it will be for the love of football not money.


  4. Where can you get the T-Shirt


  5. sniffersshorts

    bang on 100% as usual, Roberto as you will now be known, as senor Roberto has the right ring about it …. last few seasons, sorry years and years, all we have had to feast on is negative press and fans, get behind the machine the Massimo machine Passione, there is a positive vibe coming every day on News Now, forget the shat loids, just sing our praises at the highest alter in the land , all we need is the fortress to become the fortress again WE ARE LEEDS WE ARE LEEDS WE ARE LEEDS


  6. The lengthy Daily Mail article this weekend had me fuming. I submitted a comment but they declined to publish! So much for freedom of speech – just freedom of the press to print absolute crap.
    Finishing the article with comments from that old fart Bill Fotherby who started the decline of our club was just a load of complete bollocks.
    By the way, if you really want to be annoyed and disgusted with the ‘establishment’ may I highly recommend a small book recently published by Geoffrey Robertson QC called Stephen Ward Was Innocent – OK. You won’t sleep nights for a while I can assure you.


  7. lordatlufc

    Forza indeed Rob Forza indeed. Can hardly wait for new season to start. Yet again am full of hope and optimism.
    Have to say that I have been well and truly infected by the big Mass, he just has that naughty school boy mischievousness that is so entertaining. Every interview is pure comedy gold. But make no mistake this guy nows what he is doing. Effectively no debt, working capital and that price tag for Ross genius!
    Liking the positive noises made by the players too. Do you honestly think there such unrest with the players when we go slam some team 16-0 whatever their quality? I think not take note Mail and Mirror. I actually think the opposite is the case.
    Forza Leeds


  8. Great commentary as usual on the current general mood to the “thinking” fan. I could not believe the depths to which the Daily Mail sunk in the most recent attack on Leeds. Gutter is too lofty a positioning for them, cesspit is closer to their ranking.
    You have to admire the straight talking no holes barred shoot from the hip attitude of MC. I have been impressed by the actions and have for the first time in ages had a chuckle. He believes in what he says and does it. How can you not love “there’s a new sheriff in town!” I just hope the guys in the pitch match the attitude because it is there the questions will be answered. Certainly it cant be worse can last year, can it?


    • I’ve neglected that Sheriff angle. I feel a Spahetti Western spoof coming on 🙂


    • Makes it all the more fun knowing it sticks in their craw when we finally get our act together though.

      certainly made our last title even more entertaining when all the papers were running with the “evil Leeds stop poor old manywanyoo from ending 25 years of hurt” angle. Next days fish and chips tasted extra nice with that extra portion of shadenfreud sauce


  9. Joe Namath

    I am already well aboard the Massimo Express, but if we get Viviani in midfield I will be in first class, being served the finest cuisine by a trio of naked Supermodels.


  10. as always Bob, a very good read and i am in agreement with all you have wrote i myself can’t wait to get on the bus at 8am 9th August and head off down to the New Den the old one was just as bad, i trust in all that MC has done and will until something goes wrong, then we will see the metal of the man, i agree with you Bod the only things that can go wrong now are football related issues, so onwards and upwards the juggernaut that’s Leeds United is leaving the parking area and is heading on the road its going to be a great ride and i can’t wait to be part off it, and i am 62 next February and cant remember being so exited before the start of a new season


  11. Eugene Lee

    Good article Rob- I was just wondering “where was Big Mass when Ken Bates bought Leeds”?


  12. Where we get the T shirt Rob?


  13. Sorry rob, got to take issue with yeboah being “unknown”, he was at Frankfurt and top scorer in the bundersleague.

    The chief though, yeah, he’s the ultimate out of nowhere player.

    Hasslebaink was at boavista which are a steady mid table Portuguese league 1 side. I guess he’s closest to these new players in that regard.

    Silvestre I had heard of before, he’s basicily the Italian version of butland. (cheivo aren’t that obscure a club)


    • Well I’d heard of Yeboah personally, but I’d assumed that was because I was so much cleverer than everyone else 🙂


      • Think he was the first black player in germany too.

        Real legend our tony, wish we had him for longer.

        Remember all the YEB signs getting graffited around Leeds? Happy days.

        Reckon he’s the best number 9 I’ve seen at ER having missed the 60s & 70s glory days and of course john Charles. Even now, during the world cup when Cahil banged that screamer in for the aussies, the commentators were giving it “hes done a yeboah”


  14. Reality Cheque

    Another spot on article Rob. I would like to suggest that all true Leeds United supporters just take a step back, chill and begin to model ourselves on Mr Cellino. Does he lose a moments sleep or spend a single second worrying about anybody else’s view or opinion of him??? We are on one hell of a journey now with the most single-minded, successful and passionate, football club owner I can ever remember in over 50 years of supporting Leeds United. He is the most publicly accessible and forthright owner who doesn’t duck difficult questions and certainly does not fear a fight. He brought in the forensic accountants and headed straight back to the negotiating table and using his evidence made GFH an offer they COULD NOT refuse!!! Now the staggering debts amassed by GFH in little more than a year (and, largely, owed to GFH themselves) are back in their own court!! Now the quality signings are beginning to turn up, for the challenge NOT just the money!! At the moment we are still the butt of many people’s joke but VERY SOON we will be the envy of many, many football fans and those low life journalists will begin clambering over one another to hear the latest gems of wisdom and Leeds United acclaim flowing from the lips of our Messiah!! So lets not waste any time whatsoever analysing the criticism and digs filling their fish and chip papers. The President has spoken, climb aboard the Leeds United bus and ENJOY every second of OUR ride to the promised land!! In short, don’t let the b******s wind you up. MOT


  15. Counte Of Monte Fisto

    Rob, I really like MC, yes lots of the soundbites are clearly created for our ears but you really feel like he means it whenever he speaks.

    As for the tabloids I stopped buying redtops when the mirror published the Emlyn Hughes article citing Wilko as the terminator here to destroy football. I read them online when it suites & laugh when they publish stuff thats obviously garbage like the Heil did.

    In terms of the season for me jury is still out a bit, I like what I see but we still need quality upfront & to get shut of Lees in particular. So far though more optimistic than I have been in years & really looking forward to getting cracking.

    One date MC can’t miss though is the repurchase of ER, he has promised it & it must be ours by November. Fail on that one & all the feelgood will go.

    Overall a very solid 7/10 for me so far & that could get higher if he spends the £15m he says we had pre RM sale.

    Finally every day I stick pins in effigies of GFH, never have I loathed humans more than them in terms of football. For Haigh he didn’t have a long spoon & now he is sharing soap, beware of the creatures you side with.



  16. Mike Brooks

    Loved the Mail’s reference to us pipping the cherished ones by four points. If you win by 6 is it scraping? Yes Yeboah was top scorer in the Bundesliga two years running prior to being discovered by us,.


    • Those quality “investigative” journalists at the mail seem to think bianchi is a striker too, even though he normally plays at left side or defensive midfield.


  17. Good read.
    Am feeling crazily optimistic about this season.
    Or just plain crazy! Like our Massimo.
    Who cares what the sad doom & gloom mob thinks.
    I’m holding on to the mood I’m in. Feels so good.


  18. jamesnotfred

    I always have that misplaced optimism for the coming season. I always hope it arrives and stays.
    This season is different though. I actually feel optimistic for the coming decade. I have sided with Big Mass since he made the FL crew look like a bunch of wasters. He’s open and brutal in his methods and I like his style.
    My project now is to get him to play some music with my nephews. All true Leeds lovers.


  19. Jurnalistc hacks, more like jurnalistic drink soddend Hick Hicks, they could’nt write a good report if they got one, not about LUFC anyway. they are tipical of todays media,biased and with very little knowledge of the subject, Elland Road ” where’s that,is it in london” Oh up north, any where near Leeds,they’ve been taken over by an Itialian club thats owned by someone call Ken Bates, did,nt he used to play for leeds, oh thats Mick Bates. print it anyway. that just about sums it upI dont know why I read the shit they print. Anyway enough of that,we’ll be OK,I can feel it in my water!! MOT.


  20. ilkleywhite

    Isn’t it nice that the Sun Mirror and Mail all start to slag us off again, they must be worried, genuine feeling that we will do well this year, cant wait for the start of the season 3 points against everybodys favourite Neanderthals, nice walk through Bermondsey, and the inevitable fall out from the skys, oh joy, hope Morrison scores, would be a real laugh if he did



  21. Kelly hxwhite

    Really do agree Rob the guy as a way with words for sure, the dead wood and duplicaters are nearly all gone and the New signings are in place with more to follow. Would just life to point out to all the doom n groomers think back 12 mths to brain mcd and his list of targets look were that list ended up in Sammy patels binso all in all in the 3/4 mths big mass as been driving the bus he’s brought us quite along way (from where we were) and the future is definitely brighter, cheers Mr cellino mot


  22. Bitesyerlegs74

    Cracking article once again Rob. I’m backing Big Mass 100% but don’t you think it would be nice to see a couple of quality British players signed up? Maybe over inflated prices are stopping that?


  23. Cautious optimism is deffo the order of the day.

    I’d just like to give an honourable mention to the new Head Coach. After incredulity, disappointment (guilty!) and abuse after his appointment, I must say that he has been quietly impressive. Match fitness should be a prerequisite, but has been lacking in the past. Word coming from the players is that ball-retention has been a priority. What?! This must be a new concept to many of them after the last couple of seasons, and might even make for some enjoyable watching.
    Interviews have been concise and to the point. There has been no ‘schmoozing’ of the press and focus has been on the players and what they are doing, rather than the coach/ manager and what he can do or did in the past. Refreshing.
    I know results will determine everything, but maybe Big Mass is even smarter than we think. Let’s hope so.


  24. Peter McGonzie

    I dont give a monkeys what those creeps in the Daily Mail & the Daily Mirror say about Leeds United. They are just as bad as each other. Every time they print something, its always filth and smut which is what they are anyway. I cant wait for the day to come when we’re back in the Premier League. It would be more than a pleasure to rub the noses of the Mail and the Mirror into the dirt.


  25. I have backed the Don Cellino ever since he was confirmed as our new leader. In fact 2 weeks before the YEP (wums love it there) broke the story I was tipped off by a friend. Anyway myself, Premierleeds, Woody68, sennerz, Burger, leedsthruandthru and many more have and are backing this man. We are coming back and no tabloid, wum or any other supporter can stop us.

    Onwards and Upwards to the top


    P.S. as usual Rob another great article, keep em coming pal


  26. Great commentary Rob.
    We know who our enemies are and it will seem even sweeter when we pick them off one by one as we move on up.
    Maybe Don was right when he put their names in a little black book. Can I suggest you put them on your blog for the world to see ?


    • I think I’ve done the main ones – Hardaker, Kitabdijan, Michas, Tinkler, Harvey, Bates, Mawhinney etc etc. Any I’ve missed, I’d be glad to include asap 🙂


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