Daily Archives: 23/03/2015

Why is Elland Road Suddenly a Child-Free Zone?? – by Rob Atkinson

matt child

Matt Child – four month Chief Operating Officer tenure ends abruptly

News breaking out of the blue that Chief Operating Officer Matt Child has abruptly resigned his position at Leeds United has taken the Whites world by surprise. No explanation is currently being offered for Child’s departure from a post he has occupied for only four months. At the time of his appointment, he was enthusiastic and passionate about the task that then seemed to lie ahead of him:

“The opportunity to deliver value to your home-town team and city doesn’t happen that often, if at all, so when I was asked to step in, there was only one answer.

“I have been involved for a few months behind the scenes and have been hugely impressed by the president’s passion, commitment and will to win.

“We find ourselves in interesting times, but as a Leeds fan I know only too well that we are often at our best when we have adversity.”

The life-long Leeds supporter had summed up his feelings by stating “It’s clichéd but I’m genuinely honoured to represent the club.

Sadly, perhaps – and for reasons that so far remain shrouded in mystery – that honour was destined to be short-lived.

The departure of Matt Child is just the latest development in what appears from the outside to be an increasingly Machiavellian climate within the club, with banned owner Massimo Cellino refusing to commit himself to a particular course of action, and rumours flying about the possible involvement of the Genting Group – officially denied today and therefore more credible than ever – and Hollywood A-Lister Russell Crowe.

There appears to be little sign of the muddy waters at Elland Road clearing for the foreseeable future. As ever, the club remains a magnet for controversy and baffling speculation. Supporters will be looking forward to more news on Child, Crowe, Gentings and the various other currently hot topics – as well as, perhaps, that well-known sideline of actually playing games of football.

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Is This Amateurish Tennis Hack Leeds United’s Silliest Troll? – by Rob Atkinson

Harry Wall, ineffectual Leeds-basher - "It's like being savaged by a dead sheep"

Harry Wall, ineffectual Leeds-basher – It’s like being savaged by a dead sheep…

The latest in a series of increasingly bitter and skewed anti-Leeds articles under the byline of Harry Wall appeared today, seeking to capitalise on the current Russell Crowe rumours. Harry writes – on tennis, mainly – for the pisspoor online outlet “Give Me Sport” – otherwise known by exasperated persons of taste and discernment as “Give Me Strength“. The GMS output is characterised by lack of depth, an absence of any real research and a tendency uncritically to publish bile-ridden rubbish written by hopeful kids seeking to gain entry to a world plainly beyond their capabilities. Harry has settled on tennis as his main area of incompetence – but he just can’t resist having the odd ill-directed and misconceived pop at Leeds United from time to time. It’s like an itch he simply has to scratch – and he’s not shy about making a fool of himself in the process. Sadly, as someone once said about Geoffrey Howe – “it’s like being savaged by a dead sheep”. History shows that Geoffrey bit back – but poor Harry simply lacks the teeth.

If you trace back Harry’s online GMS portfolio just a few months, you will find (interspersed among his clueless tennis stuff) many articles – for want of a better word – about his football obsession, Leeds United. The tone of these pieces is invariably uncomplimentary; we are left assuming that Harry is one of that sad, lost legion who “all hate Leeds” – but have no idea as to why. Usually, it turns out that Daddy told them to. Should you, perchance, be a victim of insomnia, I would invite you to trawl through these articles – you’ll almost certainly find a temporary cure for your condition and the relief of blessed sleep. Otherwise, perhaps, you might be content with my potted summary further on.

Our beloved Whites have, it seems, kept young Harry quite busy over the past three months, as he attempts to refine what is a one-dimensional and ineffective writing style. If frequency of output counts for anything, then perhaps he’d be due an award of some sort – but sadly, the lack of any real quality makes it overwhelmingly likely that he’ll have to seek a living elsewhere. Meanwhile, as an aspiring thorn in the side of a great football club, he does make a mediocre tennis correspondent.

So what has beginner scribbler Harry had to say? In truth, not a lot – but he’s had a good few cracks at his favourite target. All of his attempts share the time-saving advantage of the headline having more content than the article – once you’ve read the banner, that’s pretty much it. If we go back three months, we can count 23 spiteful little sallies against Leeds among Harry’s stock-in-trade tennis rubbish. That’s a lot, even for an obsessive – or maybe young Hal simply knows what it takes to catch the eye of people who might otherwise be tempted to give his stuff a wide berth. Mention Leeds in a negative sense – and the Leeds-hating thousands will gather, buzzing about eagerly, as flies do in the vicinity of dog-crap. 

Starting those three months ago, Harry first inserts his foot in his mouth with his verdict that Leeds made a mistake selling Ross McCormack for £11m. Riiiight. Shortly afterwards he explains how the Whites were wrong also to sack a “top manager” … in Neil Warnock, believe it or not. Well launched now on a path of foolish fantasy, Harry goes on to advise that the Leeds promotion plan should involve the sale of their young stars. This is Harry in optimistic mode; he seems to believe that somebody might be listening. Next, he’s eagerly predicting relegation unless “big money is spent”, along with his opinion that Neil Redfearn is “not the right man for Leeds”. Then there’s an upset silence as far as United is concerned, which coincides with improved form for Leeds – but just over a month ago, Harry is back with a hopeful piece opining that the Whites’ relegation worries are not yet behind them: a “serious test” awaited – apparently. Then, there was his laughable opinion that United deserved punishment for their “poor treatment” of Millwall fans (he is silent on what happened when Rotherham United treated them rather more leniently – and suffered a riot as a result).

Lately, Harry has sulkily abandoned any hope that Leeds might yet go down, and has focused his woefully meagre talents on trying to drum up interest once again in the club’s young diamonds. Alex Mowatt, it seems, is “playing his way towards an Elland Road exit” and is also “Just what Man Utd need”. Mischievous, maybe – but the tone and standard sadly still fail to rise above that of a spiteful schoolboy. The next club Harry was trying to sell Mowatt to was Liverpool – and then, this morning, he concludes that the Russell Crowe talk is irrefutable proof that Leeds are now “a joke”.

Twenty-three pieces of time-wasting guff – probably a total of five minutes of blandly forgettable content; five minutes of my life that I will now never get back – but at least I’m getting a blog out of it and having a little giggle to myself. As we can see from the picture at the top, Harry is a beardless, fresh-faced youth – and we can perhaps excuse him much on that account. He’s trying to make his way in the world, and he’ll be neither the first not the last to take his first few faltering steps down what is clearly the wrong path. Later in life, when he’s abandoned his pipe dreams and settled for mundane mediocrity in some other, less demanding field, he may look back on these fledgling efforts, and be glad he didn’t pursue those goals, courting inevitable disillusion and disappointment. But that, after all, is a matter for him.

Of greater concern is the fact that an online outlet that purports to be a serious source of sports-writing can rely so heavily on such inexperienced and naive contributors. Nobody’s best interests are served here – not the writer, whose inadequacies are cruelly exposed; nor his targets, who may find the naive out there actually believing some of this rubbish; definitely not the readership, opening articles under different headlines, only to find the same old repetitive nonsense – and, surely above all, not GMS themselves, who shall find that by the standards of their contributors shall they be judged. Long term, no online outlet can afford to compromise on quality – that way a fatal loss of credibility lies. You can’t fool all the people, all the time…

Meanwhile, it seems likely that poor little Harry will be chuffed enough with himself to continue having his infantile pokes at a club with whom he has no apparent connection. I’m aware that a lot of people will feel that this piece is merely drawing attention to an attention-seeker – and I’ll probably get and ignore the usual spam content in reply – but I think it’s worthwhile, simply to establish that there is a common factor in a series of Leeds-bashing pieces that have run on this particular excuse for a sports news outlet. At least now, if we see another such on the same substandard site, we can think to ourselves: “No need to read this – it’s just daft little Harry again”.

Which is probably best for all concerned.

No Official Response to WHY Mancunian Ref Taylor Was Picked for Man Utd Match – by Rob Atkinson

Former Man U favourite Howard Webb celebrates with his team-mates... but at least he wasn't from Manchester

Former Man U favourite Howard Webb celebrates with his team-mates… but at least he wasn’t from Manchester…

Leeds United fans have cause to remember Wythenshawe referee Anthony Taylor – not too fondly, though – for his performance in a game between United and Middlesbrough early in the 2011/12 season. Taylor contrived to send off Jonny Howson and Max Gradel of Leeds as well as Boro’s Tony McMahon in a game which then United manager Simon Grayson described as “not having a dirty tackle in it”. Middlesbrough won the match 1-0.

That might well establish Mr. Taylor as a referee of less than optimal competence, certainly in Whites fans’ eyes – and yet he has gone on to officiate regularly in the Premier League, appearing to court controversy at about the same rate as any other referee on the roster – less, even, than some that we could name (and have named in the past). The other week, though, proud Mancunian Taylor dropped a particularly public clanger when failing to award a clear penalty against Man U at Newcastle United‘s St James Park, in a game won by the visitors with a late goal. Tim Krul gifted an easy chance to Ashley Young, who snapped it up before he could even remember to dive – and another Man U smash and grab was done. Same as it ever was, you might say. A penalty not given against Man U and a spawny late winner for them too – what’s so unusual?

The major issue here, though, may not have been the missed penalty – nor even the unsavoury spitting incident that Cisse of Newcastle admitted and apologised for, with Evans of Man U characteristically denying any wrongdoing, in accordance with club policy – despite clear video evidence. No, the real bugbear here is the fact that – for no apparent reason and with no possible justification – the authorities saw fit to appoint a Mancunian referee for a match involving a Manchester-based club.

To my knowledge, there was always a rule whereby a referee from the same area as one of the teams contesting a match would not be selected to take that fixture. That just seems like good, plain common sense, and I haven’t heard of any change to what was always a rigidly-observed convention. The not exactly infrequent situation whereby what seemed an obvious penalty was not awarded against Man U becomes even more unfortunate and embarrassing when combined with this additional and avoidable referee situation. Why on earth would the authorities court even more controversy than arises as a matter of routine, every time Man U get off scot free on a stonewall penalty shout?

Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything has been a loud and frequent critic of the kid-glove treatment that is still handed out to the Pride of Devon, even now in these post-Ferguson times when – presumably – the powers that be are in somewhat less of a state of abject fear than they were when the Demented One was in charge of Man U and, by extension, the game. So this is not, perhaps, a voice that will be seen to be particularly impartial or unbiased. And yet the facts speak for themselves. It is simply true to state that rarely a month goes by without some blatantly naff decision in favour of the denizens of the Theatre of Hollow Myths. It’s no secret, and there’s plenty of internet wringing of hands that goes on about it, with a predictably bland and complacent attitude on the part of both Man U, their hordes of armchair fans and the nominal rulers of the game. But to have them allocated their own, local referee as well, for a game that might well have been tricky for van Gaal’s men had decisions gone as they perhaps should – that really rather does take the biscuit, if not the actual urine sample.

I’ve not been able to find any guidance or regulation which formalises rules as regards geographical origin of referees insofar as it’s relevant to any particular fixture – I’m aware that there are some pretty nifty sleuths out there though, so any input to clear the matter up would be welcome. But it’s surely just common sense and good practice to select an official who hails from as far as possible from the homes of any two competing teams. It just makes for a fairer feel to proceedings. And – let’s face it – you could actually choose a ref from Devizes, and he’d be just as likely an adoring fan of “Nitid” as not. Those glory-seekers are all over the place, after all. But it rubs the nose of every fan of every other club in the league well and truly in it, to make such a daft and open-to-suspicion appointment as a Mancunian ref for a Man U match.

Are they really that stupid at the FA and/or EPL? Are they really that loftily complacent and arrogant as not to bother even giving the impression of ensuring fair play?? The distasteful combination of yet another bottled penalty decision, together with the fact that it was a blatantly Manc ref that bottled it, leaves a decidedly nasty taste in the mouth.

So what are these idiots and incompetents actually up to? I first asked this question immediately after the game in question. Predictably, there has been zero response. But, surely, it’s time we were told.