Monthly Archives: October 2014

Decline of Man U Shows the Premier League Needs “The Damned United” – by Rob Atkinson

Giggs facepalm as Man U decline

Giggs facepalm as Man U decline

When the Premier League lost Leeds United, it lost more than just another member club. With Leeds went a focal point for all those nasty, negative emotions that are so much a part of a football fan’s essential make-up. Football has always been a source of catharsis – a safety valve, if you will, for the letting-off of pent-up steam – even back in the days when the game was a lot more tribal than it is now, when there was no steep financial pecking order, when players were a lot closer to fans both literally and economically.  Nowadays, under the all-seeing glare of perpetual TV coverage and in an era when every fan is in touch with every other fan courtesy of social media, it is even more the case that such a soap opera needs its villains as well as its heroes.

Over the past decade, in the absence of The Damned United, it has been Man U that, paradoxically given their numerous triumphs, have more often than not filled the villain’s role in the minds of many.  Of course, every team is someone’s villain, someone’s hero too. It’s a question of balance and degree; between extremes there are a number of comparatively pallid clubs which inspire nothing more than indifference in the minds of the masses, the likes of West Ham, Newcastle and Aston Villa who are hated or loved locally but largely ignored everywhere else. Some teams are much more loved than hated beyond their own provincial spheres: Liverpool and Arsenal for example.  And some are hated passionately for differing reasons of varying validity.  Man U and Leeds are two such clubs.

Obviously as a Leeds fan I have a view on what’s behind the hatred directed at both clubs. In the case of Leeds, it seems to be down to historical myths surrounding Don Revie’s grisly hard but enormously skilful and hard-done-by Super Leeds, with added seasoning provided by the misdeeds of some of our over-zealous fans down the years.  The case for hating Man U is, I would argue, down to what I can only sum up as “intrinsic detestability”. In other words, it’s just something about the institution; the attitude, the arrogance and the vainglory of club, employees and supporters alike.  The fawning of the media over them, the way they have capitalised on a historic tragedy to build a global franchise, while still, with no apparent appreciation of the irony of this, calling Liverpool the City of Pity.  The time-honoured tradition of favourable treatment by referees and administrators, the former group of gentlemen managing somehow to give 88% of 50-50 decisions the way of the Mighty Red Devils over an extended period.  “We’re Man United, we’ll do what we want”, you hear sung in mixed cockney and West Country accents, and it’s something the game’s authorities have seemed loath to dispute. Given all this, they’re easy to hate – for me and thousands of other discerning Leeds fans, anyway.

This visceral hatred was accentuated under the tyrannical reign of the former manager Alex Ferguson; the scum (as we fondly refer to them down Elland Road way) won more, they were more arrogant and reprehensible in their conduct, they got much more given to them on a plate.  Give or take the odd dodgy offside and penalty here and there, that era is over and, as the latest result shows – unseemly celebration over a 1-1 draw at home to Chelsea – the illusion of invincibility and the assumption of superiority both seem to have gone with it.

The outcome is that Man U have now been drawn back into the pack and superseded by the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City, Liverpool and, last season, even Everton and Spurs.  Champions League qualification is no longer a given; the edifice that the empire was built on may well be crumbling.  One effect of this is that Man U are going to be a lot less easy for some to hate as they further decline – it may well be that only those who have always hated them will still have this particular emotional outlet.

In 2008, a poll in the “Sun” newspaper still had Leeds United as the number one most hated club in the land; this was four long and harrowing years after the Whites had dipped out of the Premier League.  By 2012 another poll had Man U succeeding Leeds as most-hated.  Leeds had by now been out of the spotlight for eight years, but were still sung about in terms of extreme disapproval at grounds around the country, not least the Pride of Devon’s own Theatre of Hollow Myths. Man U’s continuing dominance, however, had seen them move clear as the number one hate target nationwide.

Now, it all seems to be up for grabs again as the fallen franchise appears likely to slide further away from the top of the game, with the tyranny of Alex McTaggart an increasingly distant memory. Over time, they will haemorrhage support, but there’s a waiting list of Milton Keynes mugs and suckers, so in the short term the turnstiles will continue to click as the glory-hunting hordes travel North every fortnight or so.  It is the notoriety of hate that they stand to lose, the perverse respect accorded to any club top of the nation’s most-despised list.  There will be a gap at the hate end of everyone’s emotions, a vacancy for a perennial panto villain.

As the Man U star wanes, it’s possible that other candidates for most-hated might emerge. Chelsea under Mourinho are the equivalent, for some, of fingernails scraped down a blackboard.  Liverpool – with Suarez on their books – seemed to have a certain potential, especially with the media smiling upon them again. But with Luis gone, their detestabilty potential has declined, with Balotelli more of a clown than a hate figure so far. Man City with their millions and billions may attract the envious aspect of hatred, but these days they’re being shamelessly out-spent by a desperate scum, who used to affect to look down their nose at such a sordid way of courting success. But for all this variable hate potential, I would suggest that none of those candidates really cut the mustard in quite the same way that Leeds United did, and still do.

A return to the top flight for Leeds would probably fill this vitriol vacuum. All that is needed to test the likelihood of this is a swift look around the internet message boards on any occasion when Leeds play a top flight team in a cup. “Come back, we miss you” is the gist of it. And they do miss us – they miss the atmosphere, the raucous indomitability of our away support, the whole Dirty Leeds legend. They miss hating Leeds United.

The simple fact is, now that the most despicable British club of all seems to be descending into a more benign mediocrity, long bereft of their choleric Scottish dictator and his ability to give the rest of the game the hair-dryer treatment, they miss us more than ever.  And yet all we seem to do down at Elland Road is run around in small circles, victims of self-inflicted crises as the revolving door on the Head Coach office spins itself into a dizzy blur. Leeds United simply have to get their act together – urgently. In short, now that Man U are crap, the game is in sore need of that focus for hatred which we always so effortlessly provided.

So do the game a favour, Leeds, for badness’ sake. Sort yourselves out, get back up there and get on with being hated in your own inimitable fashion. Drive your enemies mad with impotent rage again as you make those of us who love you proud once more, in that deliciously perverse manner of the old days.

You know it’s your destiny – we all know it – and, now more than ever, you owe it to your public to fill that void at the very top of the Hate Parade.

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Leeds in Crisis: Darko’s Failure is the Failure of Owner and Fans – by Rob Atkinson

Darko: hello, goodbye

Darko: hello, goodbye

A lot of Leeds fans will have woken up very happy this Sunday morning, following the shock sacking of Darko Milanic after defeat by Wolves yesterday. Perhaps they’re right to be; perhaps Neil Redfearn is indeed the Messiah and will in due course restore us to the promised land, serving up sumptuous feasts contrived of paltry loaves and fishes along the way, all washed down with copious draughts of wine produced supernaturally from water. It’s to be hoped so, for it appears that only a miracle or two will extend any Leeds United Head Coach’s tenure beyond an initial settling-in period.

Those happy Leeds fans who believe in and are confidently awaiting this miracle, though, should perhaps give their heads a shake. They should ask themselves about the wisdom of the owner in overseeing the dismissal of three hot-seat occupants in a season barely over a quarter of the way through. They should wonder about the ability of the club to attract high calibre candidates in the future, should this season’s second coming of Redders not prove to be that of a Saviour. In short, they should ask of themselves: “Is this really what we wanted?”

This blog is and has been a firm supporter of Massimo Cellino and all of his works behind the scenes at LS11 since he assumed control of Leeds United just a few months ago. Articles have been written praising his single-handed turning around of a moribund hulk, and the input he has had into the recruitment of several extremely promising signings, the potential of which we have all seen. But this blog begs leave to doubt whether Massimo’s genius extends to the recruitment and retention of a high-end coach – the kind of guy who is going to define the direction of the team and squad; the sort of achiever who can take a serial under-performer like Leeds and drag it back into the big-time.

Cellino is the man who makes the decisions; what he needs above all is the ability to back his own judgement, He needs to display some cool and some sang-froid – the propensity to avoid panic when the first signs emerge of the current plan going tits-up. It is this faith in his own judgement, this ability to control panic and suppress knee-jerk reactions, which currently appear to be missing from the Massimo make-up. That does not bode well. How many more times this season are we going to hear “I made a mistake with this guy – sorry, my friends…” – and how many more times are the fans going to sanction such boom and bust recruitment tactics?

The fans – a vociferous if not particularly large proportion of them, anyway – have to take their share of the blame for this latest farcical development. It has been alarming to see how so many of those fans, especially those highly active on social media, appear to have bought into the serial hire and fire policy that has appeared to characterise Cellino’s ownership of Cagliari and now Leeds. In many ways, Darko Milanic was onto a loser right from the start of his engagement, simply because so many supporters wanted Redfearn to get the gig, after his brief but productive interregnum. When Redfearn was overlooked, or unwilling (depending upon which version of events you believe) – the Redders supporters were disappointed and thus not disposed to give Darko much of a chance. That might be understandable – but to call (as they did) for the head of a new Head Coach a mere two or three games into the job, especially after the previous “permanent” appointment bit the dust only a few games into the season, surely smacks of the most arrant folly.

Even more worrying is the alarming possibility that Cellino is making the mistake of listening too hard to the fans in areas where the head should rule the heart. If the Italian is capable of being swayed by what might be called mob rule, then we stand a real risk of the lunatics taking over the asylum. What we can’t afford at any price is for the fans uncritically to take on board the excesses of Cellino, or for Cellino to be unduly influenced by the more extreme and hard-of-thinking section of the fans.

Redfearn cannot be exempt from criticism in this sorry mess either. To say he was coy over his wishes for the top job on a permanent basis is somewhat to understate the case. He waxed lyrical about his love for the development role, but then – when he didn’t get the head coach job – a faint tinge of sulkiness seemed to descend upon him; he was unwilling to be involved with the first team and, as far as I can see, he is open to a charge of failing to support and assist the new man. Now, it appears he will get his chance to be top dog under the Presidential shadow. Woe betide him if he fails to take it, and Leeds United must stand in very real peril of losing altogether a man in Neil Redfearn whose influence at the club has been one of the fairly few positive themes in the past year or so.

Sacking a head coach is a very serious step indeed, and we’ve now seen three such decisions taken since the last ball of last season was kicked – and still two months to go till Christmas. Who will be in charge then? Can any of us hazard a fair guess? We must hope it will be Redfearn, but who could say with any certainty – and what is being said out there in football land about the attractiveness or otherwise of the Leeds United post?

The dismissal of your manager is not guaranteed to pay dividends anyway. Yesterday at Leeds, the football in the first half was extremely easy on the eye, and United dominated a decent Wolves outfit. Then it all went wrong, and the next thing we knew Darko had his cards. Meanwhile, in Birmingham, the City team that had seen their manager sacked in midweek surrendered abjectly at home to Bournemouth, losing 0-8. The upheaval of one managerial sacking was clearly enough to absolutely destroy that team. How will the Leeds squad react to their fourth change at the helm, and only fourteen games gone?

Let’s not run away with the idea that Leeds United’s current plight is simply down to Darko Milanic, or even a shared responsibility between that gentleman and the hapless Dave Hockaday. The problem runs deeper and the blame must be ascribed on a much wider basis. Owner, staff and fans must hold up their hands and admit failure in their distinct and vital roles. The owner needs to hold his nerve now, have faith in his (latest) chosen man and refuse to succumb to panic and outside pressures other than in the most dire circumstances.

Given continuity and some steadiness about the place, the squad is easily good enough to hold its own in this division, and that’s what it’s all about for the current season. Consolidate and build as positively as possible for a real challenge next time around. The fans, collectively, have to refrain from carping at every little setback and making childish demands for heads to roll. Supporters should support – a significant proportion of Leeds United’s fanbase, especially online, appear to be completely unaware of that.

Disappointed after the home defeat to Wolves, I only learned of the sacking of Milanic when I received a text from a Radio Aire reporter asking me for a reaction. Gobsmacked, stunned – and above all worried – aptly summed it up. I’m extremely worried about the immediate and longer-term future and I’m pessimistic about the prospects of any coherent plan being given the time and opportunity to develop. How could I be otherwise, given the events of this season so far?

Change can be good, it can be bad, it can be disastrous. It should not be embraced for its own sake, neither should it be brought about too frequently, at the first sign of trouble. Some calmness is needed now – and a bit of faith in the people who are being left to pick up the pieces of a fragmented season so far.

I remain a Cellino fan and this blog will continue to support him in his ongoing fight to get on with the job of reviving Leeds United in the face of  petulant opposition from the buffoons of the Football League. I’m actually a fan of Neil Redfearn too, though I feel he hasn’t exactly covered himself in glory during the brief reign of Darko Milanic. An examination of Neil’s four games in charge this season will reveal that he got a bit lucky on a  couple of occasions; we should have been buried alive by half time at Bournemouth and a couple of other displays lacked inspiration. If he can consistently hit the heights we attained against Huddersfield, then we’ll be cooking with gas. But there has to be some doubt that things will go that well.

Thanks to the strictures of the transfer window, the one thing that will remain a constant until the new year at least is the make-up of the squad. And I believe that there is enough quality at Elland Road for a formidable team to emerge out of the ingredients we currently have to play with. If that happens, and if the club is much more comfortably placed after Christmas, then Neil Redfearn will deservedly take plenty of credit for that. I hope it is the case – and I hope that there is less of an opportunity by then for a hostile press to pick away at the club as they inevitably will after this latest debacle. The likes of Robbie Savage and Phil Neville at the chimp end of the scale, together with Jeff Stelling, Gary Lineker and others further up towards the intellectual end, will all be queuing up to say “I told you so” in the next few days and weeks. The sad thing is, we’ve played right into their hands – and I do mean all of us.

Some people have managed completely to forget about the meaning of that “Marching on together” theme song we’re so justly proud of. Cellino, the maverick,  can be excused for not having the club’s culture ingrained in him to that extent. The fans can have no such excuse – and it is down to us now to support the club through thick and thin – and to support the team and the management, instead of hollering for change at the first sign of an ill wind. The team and the fans represent the most likely influences for calm steadiness and some much-needed continuity as we try to go forward. Let’s all remember what “support” means – and let’s get on with delivering it.

Are YOU One of the 5,226 Loyal Leeds Fans to Fight Harvey and the FL?? – by Rob Atkinson

Harvey - the spectre haunting Elland Road

Harvey – the spectre haunting Elland Road

The other week, rumours were growing by the day that the buffoons of the Football League, under the grievously bent leadership of Shaun Harvey, were about to throw a spanner yet again into the works at Leeds United. Despite things clearly being on the up at Elland Road, the League seem determined still to get their man, that elusive quarry being il Presidente himself, Massimo Cellino. Ignoring the active presence of rapists, pornographers and sundry other unsavoury types at other football clubs, Harvey and his bunch of senile dotards are determined to seek revenge on Big Mass (I call him this because I know it aggravates the WACCOE.com idiots) for thwarting them on appeal earlier this year to take control at Leeds.

So, as tends to happen, a petition was launched. The thing is, this particular petition was really well-worded, straight to the point and advancing the highly relevant argument that the so-called “Fit and Proper Test” should not be applied retrospectively. In other words, once Cellino is in – no matter how he got in – he should be left to get on with it as long as he’s doing a good job and not being naughty.

This was precisely the argument I’d used just days previously, in a blog entitled “Fit & Proper Test’ Should NOT Apply to Leeds Chief Cellino“. So I could hardly wait to sign and publicise such an obviously well thought-out petition, and I subsequently wrote another article encouraging Leeds fans to sign it and share it, so as to attract as much support as possible and show the League they will not be allowed to act without accounting for those actions.

The petition has gone on to be extremely well-supported, with – at the time of writing this – 5,226 signatories since it went live. That’s brilliant – but the thing is, it’s nothing like enough. So, if you’re one of those loyal 5,226 people who have taken the necessary few minutes to show your support for the revolution going on at Elland Road (and your disapproval of Harvey and the League) – then well done. But – what more can you do? Well, tell people, get them to sign too. Share this article, share the petition. Get friends, family, fellow supporters involved. This could be huge – but only if people who love Leeds United are willing to put in the effort to make it work.

If you haven’t signed yet – then please do so, if you feel able. The consequences of Cellino being forced to sell the club are dire at best. The method whereby this sale would be forced is not clear at the moment. What would such compulsion do to the sale price? Who would repay Cellino’s investment so far? Who on earth would end up owning us next? We don’t know, but we can fearfully speculate. The League doesn’t know either – and it doesn’t seem to care. The League seems entirely comfortable with the idea of setting Leeds United off into another fog of uncertainty, losing money and playing staff alike, sliding down the leagues like a greased pig and heading – for all any of us know – for yet another administration. After all, causing clubs to enter administration is rather a speciality of Shaun Harvey in his disaster-strewn and corrupt career so far.

The League doesn’t give a tuppenny toss about the outcome of its intended actions. Stung by losing in court to Cellino, these pompous idiots simply want to regain lost face and show who the bosses are. If Leeds United AFC were to be a casualty of all of this – then you can count on it, none of them would lose a minute’s sleep. Perhaps Harvey and Bates would even share a conspiratorial chuckle between themselves in a smug telephone conversation after Leeds are no more.

Cellino and his legal team can certainly handle themselves – that much we have seen, and it’s quite probable that Harvey and his sorry, discredited mob will yet again be biting off more then they can chew. But it’s up to us fans, too. Please join over 5,000 Leeds United fans in signing and sharing this petition. Do all you can to ensure that everyone who might support it, sees it – and has the chance to register their own opposition to this pathetic and needless League vendetta.

Remember: All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men (and women) do nothing. Doing nothing is not an option if we really want to look out for our club. Support Leeds United – support the petition. Do it as soon as you can and share it with as many as you can, so they can do it too – and so on and so forth, till we have thousands more angry Leeds fans, up in arms, making our feelings known, telling the League to get stuffed. Be in no doubt at all – it really does matter.

MOT – and thanks.

Signature

“Art of Football”: a Fitting Souvenir of THAT Yeboah Volley Against Liverpool – by Rob Atkinson

Art of Football Yeboah Tribute shirt detail

“Art of Football” Yeboah Tribute shirt detail

As Leeds United fans, we’re accustomed to wearing our hearts on our sleeves. We like to go even further in honour of our beloved club, wearing our badge proudly over our hearts. Now, thanks to a brainwave from Art of Football, you can actually wear on your chest one of the iconic goals of the last generation. It’s a goal most Leeds fans – even those who were too young to appreciate it at the time, or who weren’t yet around – only have to close their eyes to see. The ball comes out towards Tony Yeboah as Leeds attack late on at the Kop End of Elland Road. The Ghanaian watches as it drops towards him and instantly shapes to hit it on the full – and his effort rockets into the back of the net off the crossbar with Liverpool keeper David James beaten all ends up. Goal of the Season! Check it out here…

What a goal! It was a moment of pace, power and consummate brilliance. A packed Elland Road under floodlights is pure football theatre at any time – but with the red shirts of Liverpool standing between United and victory, with time fast ebbing away and with a striker of Yeboah’s lithe and muscular presence exploding suddenly into action – it was an instant of football history which stood out immediately as one destined for immortality. I was lucky, blessed, to be there that night, right behind the line of the ball as it rocketed into the net. It’s been a treasured memory for me and for thousands of others, ever since.

Yeboaaahh!!!

Yeboaaahh!!!

The t-shirt produced by Art of Football to commemorate this unforgettable strike is in itself a thing of beauty and a worthy tribute to Yeboah’s virtuosity. The one I have is white – I have a thing about white – but they do it in navy and royal blue as well. Whatever the background, Yeboah’s volley is there at the instant of impact between the ball and that amazing, thunderous right foot; a split second later Leeds were ahead and the crowd was thundering its approval. Tony Yeboah, in the first flush of what was a purple patch of spectacular goals for Leeds in the early part of that season, wheeled away exultant, knowing that he’d produced a moment of pure genius. Happily for the fans, there would be more to come.

Tony Yeboah’s time at Leeds United was too short, but unforgettably sweet. He left us memories of just about every type of goal you could imagine – but he definitely favoured the spectacular over the more mundane tap-in. He claimed to be more naturally left-footed, but the goal so evocatively captured here by the Art of Football, together with efforts against West Ham, Wimbledon, Monaco, Sheffield Wednesday and others, confirmed that he was eminently capable with either foot, head – you name it, Yeboah would belt the ball into the back of the net with it.

Yeboah’s was a cameo role in the history of Leeds United, but nonetheless memorable for that – and his goal against Liverpool shines as brightly in the memory now as it did when it emblazoned headlines all over the national press nineteen years ago. If ever a goal deserved to be marked by a quality item of wearable memorabilia, then surely Tony’s was one that stands out as a worthy candidate. The t-shirt has got pride of place in my Whites Wardrobe, and doubtless it’ll solve many a Christmas gift dilemma for those with a Leeds-supporting loved one to buy for.

If YOU fondly remember that masterblast against Liverpool, I’d recommend you treat yourself – or perhaps include it in a note to Santa. It’s not often I’m moved to plug a product, but this quality piece of merchandise, also available as a print, definitely carries the Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything seal of approval.

Why Kewell is Leeds United’s Only REAL Judas – by Rob Atkinson

Harry Kewell has been tweeting his bizarre admiration for that scum club from Istanbul and their sub-human “fans” again. What a shallow, vapid creature Kewell is. No loyalty, no sense of decency, no redeeming characteristics at all. Just a pea-brain with room for thoughts only about the most important person in his life: Harry “Judas” Kewell.

Here’s an article I wrote earlier this year about why the IQ-minus Aussie is such a disgrace – and why, the rival claims of Ferdinand, Cantona, McCormack and McQueen notwithstanding, he’s Leeds United’s only REAL Judas.

Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything

Leeds fans United in grief and dignity Leeds fans United in grief and dignity

Alan Smith. Eric Cantona. Rio Ferdinand. Three Leeds United players who opted to transfer their allegiance to the Evil Empire over the wrong side of the Pennines. In so doing, they attracted hatred and brickbats aplenty from Leeds followers. After all, they’d gone to the club we despise above any other. So too, much earlier, had Joe Jordan and Gordon McQueen, along with the less-well remembered examples of Arthur Graham and Peter Barnes in the relatively small collective of former Leeds players who have identified themselves with the Pride of Devon and their repellent supporters. These individuals, heroes to Leeds fans at one time or another, were held individually and as a category to be traitors to the United of Elland Road. Figuratively speaking, they had sold their souls to the Devil.

But really, all that “treachery” stuff, as applied to a small…

View original post 1,148 more words

Doctor’s Orders: Warrior Bellusci Should Modify Goal Celebration – by Rob Atkinson

Bellusci - sitting on a problem?

Bellusci – sitting on a problem?

Shortly after the home draw against Sheffield Wendies, I wrote an article expressing concern about Leeds defender Giuseppe Bellusci’s potentially damaging celebratory routine. He has this habit of showing his delight at scoring by executing a singularly ungraceful wheels-up landing from an altitude of approximately four feet, impacting Mother Earth on his unprotected tailbone, or coccyx – as we medical anoraks call it. Bellusci had already performed this trick once, after his worldie free-kick down at Bournemouth. Now, having notched a point-saver against the dee-dahs, he was at it again. Wincing, I took to my computer and penned a cautionary piece, never dreaming anyone would take it seriously.

To my surprise, however, there was some professional interest out there in Twitterland. No less a personage than the highly respected American “Tailbone Specialist” Dr. Patrick Foye, M.D. – Director of the “Coccyx Pain Center” at New Jersey Medical School – commented on the article, asking: “Can anyone point me to a video clip showing this athlete doing this celebratory display where he lands on his tailbone /coccyx region?” Happily, one of my remarkable band of regular readers, D. Bowden, was considerate enough to post in the same comments thread the following video clip of Giuseppe’s Bournemouth crash-landing.

The good doctor was clearly most alarmed. “Yikes!” he responded. “Definitely an avoidable risk for tailbone pain! In the world of risks/benefits, we all take risks, and sometimes it’s just to look cool. But this doesn’t look cool at all. All risk; no benefit. Good soccer skills though. Thanks for the video share.

Once I’d got over my surprise at an actual doctor taking the time and trouble to address a concern raised by my humble blog, it occurred to me that this was as near to wisdom straight from the horse’s mouth as we’re likely to get. In short, it’s expertise (given freely and without thought of recompense) that anybody running this risk will disregard strictly at his peril. It seems to me also that, as his employers, Leeds United might do well to review Bellusci’s post-goal conduct and perhaps have a quiet word with him about it.

After all – as ever with Leeds United – we have no shortage of problems, controversies and other issues both on and off the pitch. There is no need to go courting ill-fortune at the best of times and, at Elland Road, it’s always in plentiful supply anyway. Even if we were a mundane and boring football club, like certain of our Yorkshire neighbours, we wouldn’t be looking to the playing staff to enliven proceedings by inflicting orthopaedic disaster upon themselves. Better, surely, just to consider the matter and perhaps arrive at a more tranquil alternative for the celebration of future goals. And let us fervently hope that there are many more to come for, defender or no defender, Bellusci has the potential to be a Leeds United hero in the opposition’s penalty area.

My thanks to Doctor Foye for his valuable input and expert advice; I hope it reaches the ears of our Warrior in time for him to adopt a slightly more circumspect approach in whatever moments of joy and triumph the rest of this season may hold.

Sky Sports Exclusive: Leeds Star Adryan “Wants to Leave United to be Fast Food Server” – by Rob Atkinson

Adryan: "Don't gimme no KFC, man"

Adryan: “Don’t gimme no KFC, man”

News is emerging from a Sky Sports interview with Brazilian starlet Adryan, that will rock every Leeds United supporter who is gullible enough to believe it. Remarkably, after a mere few weeks with the Elland Road club, and no first team appearances, the Flamengo youth product wishes to leave Elland Road to work in a fast food restaurant …. serving burgers!

The incredible truth of the matter is to be found in an exclusive interview given to this channel by Adryan, in which he admits that he simply adores a famous American brand of hamburger. “The truth is that this snack is close to my heart and always will be,” stated the blond boy wonder. He went on:

“It’s impossible not to think about burgers. I have a lot of affection for this food. I can’t think of eating any other kind of junk nourishment. I am a burger eater, so let’s see what happens in the future. But burgers and the cholesterol they contain will always be in my blood.”

These dynamite revelations must surely mean that Adryan’s Elland Road days are numbered, as he heads off to seek his fortune as a minimum-wage purveyor of mechanically-recovered meat products, fried and served up in mouth-watering helpings of convenience-food heaven. You can trust your Super Soaraway Sky when we tell you: Adryan wants OUT of Leeds! You heard it here first, folks.

Believe us. Adryan wants to make it in the burger-selling game. We should know – we’ve been serving up Whoppers since the late eighties, and what’s more we know that when you add two and two, you frequently end up with thirteen and a half.

Colonel Sanders is 149.

If You Love Leeds United, You SHOULD Sign this Petition – by Rob Atkinson

Shaun Harvey: pisspoor

Shaun Harvey of the FL: pisspoor

I wrote an article the other day, about why the Football League’s pisspoor and incompetently applied “Fit & Proper Test” should not apply retrospectively to a man in post who has comprehensively demonstrated that he is the best thing to happen to his Football Club in many a month of Sundays.

The club is, of course, Leeds United and the man is our very own Massimo Cellino, genius, nutter and saviour of us all. Now there is a petition calling upon the bewildered old men and corrupt younger ones who make up the Football League, under the dubious leadership of the appalling Shaun Harvey, to see sense in this matter and leave well alone.

If ever there was a time for the supporters of Leeds United – those who can see the good that Big Mass has done anyway – to band together and act collectively, this is IT. Please read, sign and share the petition by clicking HERE.

It’s highly likely that Cellino and his legal team will be able to thwart the FL as they did before. But it is for us, the fans, to make ourselves heard too. One way of doing that is to get this petition supported, in numbers as great as possible.

Please READ this, SIGN it and SHARE it among as many fellow supporters of Leeds United as possible.

Let the buffoons of the Football League know that they are in for a real fight.

Can Darko’s Leeds Cope with the “Cup Final” Mentality of Local Rivals Rotherham? – by Rob Atkinson

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Huddersfield’s low-key celebrations after edging out Leeds

In the wake of Leeds United’s recent failures on the road against inferior local opposition, it’s well past time to take stock of the problem behind this unwelcome phenomenon, which is set fair to drag us down and keep us away from the top level –  if it continues as it has in past campaigns. It’s to be hoped that, in the new Darko Milanic era, things might be different. There were some promising signs against the Wendies the other week, but away from home against pumped-up (yet lower-class) opposition, some fight is what’s sorely needed.

Firstly, let’s put to bed any foolish suggestion that the local opposition aren’t inferior. They are – by definition.  Leeds do not and never have in living memory played local derbies where they are the underdog in terms of club size and history.  We’ve been the biggest club in Yorkshire – by far the biggest, and the only one with a global profile – for the last fifty years plus. Whatever the relative squad merits – and for 90% of the time, Leeds have possessed demonstrably more accomplished players too – any meeting between Leeds and a smaller Yorkshire club has seen the Elland Road outfit cast as Goliath to some horrible, backstreet David. The real question is – does such superiority of status confer any advantage at all?  The answer to that would appear to be a resounding No, and a reminder that, horrible and provincial though David might have been, he still gave Goliath one in the eye.

The extent of the problem may be brought into focus simply by comparing two different sets of results over the past few years.  If you look at league games against other Yorkshire teams, together with a selection of upstarts around the country who have a similar chip on the shoulder, as compared with our reasonably regular Cup meetings with Premier League clubs over the past three or four years, the contrast is startling – and it says a lot about what it has taken to motivate our white-shirted heroes.

Taking league games first, and looking at the locals – the likes of Barnsley, the Sheffield clubs, Huddersfield and Hull, together with self-appointed rivals like Millwall – the results have been unacceptably bad.  Barnsley in particular have visited embarrassment upon us in match after match, often by a significant margin, whilst keeling over to most other clubs and usually only escaping relegation by the skin of their teeth, prior to their welcome demise last year.  Our relatively close West Yorkshire neighbours Huddersfield are nearly as bad for our health. The other season, these two clubs met on the last day, and over the course of ninety minutes, first one and then the other seemed doomed to the drop.  In the end, both escaped because of events elsewhere – and what did both sets of fans do to celebrate their shared reprieve?  Why, they joined together in a rousing chorus of “We all hate Leeds scum” of course.  This tells you all you need to know about what motivates such dire and blinkered clubs – but at least the motivation is there.

And the motivation is there for Leeds United, too – just not, seemingly, on those bread-and-butter league occasions when we need it.  What seems to turn your average Leeds United player on over the past few years, is the glamour of the Cup – either domestic cup will do, apparently.  Results and performances in these games have left bewildered fans scratching their heads and wondering how such high achievers can then go on to perform so miserably against the envious pariahs from down the road in Cleckhuddersfax.  Look at the results – going back to League One days.  A narrow home defeat to Liverpool in the League Cup when by common consent we should have won and Snoddy ripped them up from wide areas.  The famous win at Man U when we went to the Theatre of Hollow Myths and showed neither fear nor respect in dumping the Pride of Devon out of the FA Cup.  Draws at Spurs and Arsenal, beating Spurs, Gareth Bale and all, at Elland Road.  Beating other Premier League sides such as Everton and Southampton in games that had you wondering which was the higher status club.  Great occasions – but of course we haven’t the squad to go through and win a cup, so these achievements ultimately gain us little but pride. And, naturally, when we draw a Yorkshire “rival” away in a Cup, we contrive to lose embarrassingly as per Bratfud earlier this season. It’s just not good enough.

Often we will sing to daft smaller clubs’ fans about the Leeds fixtures being their Cup Finals, but this is becoming a joke very much against us.  The teams concerned seem to take the Cup Final thing literally, they get highly motivated, roll their metaphorical sleeves up, the veins in their temples start to throb and the battle cry is sounded.  Their fans, normally present in miserable numbers, are out in force – and they are demanding superhuman endeavour.  Faced with this, too many Leeds teams over the past few years have simply failed to find a comparable level of commitment and effort.  There’s no excuse for that – it has meant we’re almost starting off a goal down – even when we swiftly go a goal up.

The sheer number of local derbies will count against a team which allows itself to suffer this disadvantage, this moral weakness.  For Leeds, since we came back to the second tier, there has usually been one Sheffield or another, usually Barnsley or Huddersfield or Hull, Middlesbrough perhaps – even the just-over-the-border outfits like Oldham and Burnley feel the same ambition and desire to slay the Mighty Leeds.  It amounts to a sizeable chunk of a season’s fixtures – if you fail to perform in these, then you’re struggling.  The pressure is then on to get results against the better teams at the top end of the table, and we don’t fare too well there either.

It’s easy to say that it’s a matter of getting better players.  Largely that’s true.  But we’ve usually had better players than these annoying little Davids, and yet the slingshot has still flown accurately right into Goliath’s eye and knocked us over. Professional football is a game of attitude, motivation, mental readiness to match the opposition and earn the right to make your higher quality tell.  This, over a number of years, is what Leeds United have signally failed to do.

Can it change?  Well, so far this season we’ve played Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield at home  – plus Millwall, who qualify as a southern member of the chip on the shoulder brigade, away.  We’ve four points out of nine to show from that little lot, which is the difference between our current position and sixth – in the play-off zone.  Even three of those lost five points would see us just a point off the top six places.  And the thing is, ALL of those games were distinctly winnable, so it’s no pipe-dream to look at where we might have been.  The difference is down to attitude; our opponents have had it and – with the notable exception of the Huddersfield performance – we simply haven’t.

It’s a sobering message at this stage of the season, with only three such games played – and plenty more to come.  But it’s a message that should be heeded, or the effect on our season will become more profound as it goes on.  The potential is there for us to take advantage of games against inferior but highly-motivated opposition, to match the attitude of these teams and to reap our rewards.  The failure to do this will see us endure yet another season of under-achievement. We have to overcome the “Cup Final Mentality” of certain other clubs, mainly those in Yorkshire but elsewhere too.

The Rotherham game next Friday night is an ideal opportunity for this new, tougher mental attitude to kick in. Again, we have small local rivals who nurse a fierce and unrequited hatred of Leeds United – and they have the odd old boy in their ranks as well as a wily manager who has been busily bigging us up. Our heroes will include a number of quite new foreign signings, who may still be a little wide-eyed and naive on occasions like this. So the ingredients are all there for the relative big boys of Leeds to turn up, find the environment not to their liking – and roll over once again in abject surrender. Please, let it not be so.

Leeds United –  you just need to get psyched-up and go out to win some of these pesky and troublesome “Cup Finals”.  Darko can inculcate his principles and make a pretty pattern of play – but when blood and guts are needed, some fight and some grit – then it really is up to you lads who wear the shirt we’d all of us out here be willing to walk on hot coals for. 

“Fit & Proper Test” Should NOT Apply to Leeds Chief Cellino – by Rob Atkinson

Cellino - here to stay

Cellino – here to stay

There are still rumblings of thwarted frustration emanating from the lair of the Football League’s assorted mandarins, buffoons and early-onset Alzheimer’s cases. The discontent surrounding this misbegotten cabal of power-mad crumblies dates from their humiliating reverse at the hands of Massimo Cellino’s legal team, as he successfully fought their original decision to bar him from owning Leeds United. The League, represented by ex-Leeds CEO and serial football disaster Shaun Harvey, as well as the son of convicted rapist Owen Oyston among other unsavoury characters, was forced to back down and rubber-stamp Cellino’s acquisition of Leeds, amid much grumbling and ill grace. It was always likely that, given the opportunity, they would return to stalk their quarry once again.

The persistent niggle which may yet afford that opportunity is the mention by the appeal judge of a possible imputation of dishonesty against Cellino when the full decision of the Italian court became available. This, he remarked, could once again leave Cellino open to disqualification under what is loosely known as the “Fit and Proper Test”. Rumours now abound that Sandra Lepore, the Italian judge in the Nélie tax avoidance case, has indeed found that our Massimo was more than merely naughty and misguided in his import duty dealings. Massimo’s legal men have been mobilised once more, declaring that the judgement is full of holes and that an appeal is inevitable. Meanwhile, the hapless oafs at the League have been unable to get a look at the alleged full judgement and have even had to resort to asking Cellino’s own lawyer for a copy. As if this mess were not messy enough, another court case is pending against Big Mass, so a further sullying of his reputation is not impossible – probably not even unlikely.

So, where does all this leave Massimo Cellino and his future as absolute ruler at Elland Road? Bang to rights, some would say. He’s been called dishonest, and the fit and proper test exists to exclude dishonest types (though not, apparently, convicted rapists). So, technically at least, Cellino could be held to account once again and ultimately forced to sell Leeds United, with all the enormously toxic fallout that situation would carry along with it. In reality, of course, things are unlikely to be so straightforward.

The most important consideration here and now is that Cellino is installed in LS11, that he is making all the decisions, for good or ill – and that he has already wrought enormous changes at Yorkshire’s premier club, with much, much more change in the pipeline. That much is indisputable fact. The ongoing revolution promises, but is not limited to, the repurchase of the Elland Road stadium, and its subsequent redevelopment, the building of a new training complex much closer to the club, the continuing reorganisation of the football side of things including transfer policy and, for all we know, the ongoing hiring and firing of several more coaches before Christmas (although plainly we’re not one of those awful Watford-type clubs that have already had half-a-dozen managers since August…)

It is the undeniable fact of Massimo being the man in possession that is crucial here. The “Fit and Proper Test”, by its own exacting conditions, is clearly intended to be a fail-safe tool whereby prospective owners and directors may be assessed ahead of assuming control, in the absence of any opportunity to see how they shape up in action. By that reckoning, Cellino should already be beyond the scope of such a precautionary measure. He has been in situ and extremely active – with a high degree of success, it must be said – for a good few months now. The financial state of the Football League’s most illustrious member club has been improved beyond all recognition; the squad has been revamped courtesy of some rather effective recruitment and at least one thieves’ bargain of a sale. In short, Cellino has dispensed with the need for any pre-emptive, anticipatory “Fit and Proper Test”, by the simple expedient of getting in and doing a fantastic job; he has shown that he is a fit and proper owner of Leeds United by dragging the club up by its bootstraps and improving things enormously, in a relatively short space of time. The future now looks bright for the Whites.

Whatever the technical ins and outs of the law, and of the poorly-drafted and incompetently-applied Football League test, it is this reality of the situation that is surely important now. Cellino has moved well beyond any need for “vetting”, an assessment before the fact of his suitability to own and run a Football League club. He has shown his competence and his enthusiasm – his passion for the job in hand. Leeds United today is a very different entity to the moribund hulk Cellino first walked into just a few months back, a club left half-dead by the year on year depredations of unscrupulous and self-serving men – not excluding the current League CEO. Cellino has almost single-handedly brought about that difference, by the force of his personality as much as by the not inconsiderable investment he has made in the club. There can be no more relevant and accurate assessment of fitness and propriety than this; the League’s pettifogging regulations have been transcended by fact and reality.

Should there now be a further attempt to oust Cellino, simply because a collection of prosaic paragraphs and sub-clauses says that there should be, then the interests of Leeds United and football in general would be extremely ill-served. The consequences would be as undesirable as they would be immense; a club of history and distinction could swiftly be reduced from its current state of rapidly recovering health, back onto the critical list, haemorrhaging money left, right and centre, tumbling down the league, with the Official Receiver once again licking his lips with relish. Is this what the Football League, with its implied duty of care, would wish for one of its member clubs? I ask you.

The answer to that last question could well be yes, as many a Leeds fan, pointing to the lessons of history and the various injustices heaped upon their beloved Whites, might gloomily agree. We will have to wait and see what the League, in their extremely finite wisdom, decide to do. But they need to tread carefully, lest they be open to charges of malice, bringing down disaster upon a national institution – just because they technically, possibly, can.

The situation at Leeds today is crystal clear. Massimo Cellino is in charge and he’s doing a good job. Massimo Cellino is proven to be a fit and proper Football League club owner, not least in the context of certain gentlemen who quite clearly aren’t, but who – bizarrely – are not being held to account.

Look at the real-life situation, Harvey & Co, and have a care. You can’t afford to look any more ridiculous than you already do, in the light of recent rather unwise public statements. Exercise a little discretion and leave well alone. Leave United alone. Cellino and Leeds are on the up. Let them get on with it.