Leeds United 0, The Idiots In Charge 3   – by Rob Atkinson


You can't count on the love, Massimo, my friend

You can’t count on the love, Massimo, my friend

Nil Three at home, then. Not good but, in the context of what is now a dead rubber of a season, not disastrous either. Not on the face of it, anyway.

It’s when you set out to look at the factors behind this defeat that the blood pressure starts to elevate towards danger levels. For once, I’m not here to blame the officials – though they undoubtedly played their incompetent and over-zealous part. I’m not even here, as I frequently have been, to lambast the Football League. My concerns are a little closer to home at present.

Looked at a day or so in advance, this was a game that Leeds United should have been looking to win, in order to maintain their recent goodish run, with a view to taking some momentum and supporter goodwill into summer – whatever that may hold in store for us (apart from another Ashes mauling at the hands of the Aussies). It was a winnable game because, let’s face it, Blackburn always should be, to start off with. And then there was the matter of their forthcoming FA Cup replay against Liverpool. A team with that in the offing, and Wembley awaiting the winners, could perhaps be expected to be a little distracted and therefore, you’d have thought, ripe for the taking advantage of.

Chris and Kev never forgottenAnd, really, any game at home or away should have been winnable on this weekend of tragic memory. It’s 15 years on Sunday since we lost two of our number, brutally murdered in Istanbul.

RIP Chris and Kev – never forgotten, and we’ll never forgive either.

For those 15 years, we’ve expected nothing less than total commitment from any Leeds team facing a fixture around this time. It’s about respect, which should act so as to enhance the standard level of professionalism and commitment we always look for. Any team facing Leeds on or about April the 5th should expect and be given a very hard time. It’s only right.

The ingredients were therefore in place for what should have been a Leeds performance to be reckoned with. But professional football is a game of fine margins, and any extraneous influence can act so as to reduce the chances of any team’s success on a given day. This week just gone, with quite appalling timing, the Leeds United powers that be have chosen to drop bombshells right into the middle of weekend preparations. A respected Assistant Coach, hardly in the job five minutes, has been suspended and told he has no future at Leeds; the Head Coach has apparently been told not to select the leading scorer due to unwelcome incentive provisions in his contract (so why did they agree them in the first place?) – and now that same Head Coach is having doubts about whether or not he can really carry on in charge. It’s difficult, he says – with admirable understatement.

So, whether or not the ref and his assistants are open to criticism, whether or not Blackburn Rovers performed above expectations, whether or not our team were below what we might have expected with the anniversary of Taksim Square imminent – the fact is that the people in charge at Leeds United, the chief among whom should not be influencing matters at all, currently – being banned – these people supposedly in control and acting in the club’s best interests have comported themselves like a bull in a china shop, smashing their way through the delicate business of preparing for a game without any regard for team or management morale. Those are not the actions of responsible owners. Those are the actions of clueless idiots.

Having stayed loyal for longer than was, with the benefit of 20-20 hindsight, either wise or reasonable – especially in the face of some bizarre decisions over the course of a bizarre season – this blog has had to perform an uncomfortable volte face. The events of this week have not, of themselves, caused any sudden, out of the blue 180 degree about-turn. Rather, they have been the last straw, the one that finally broke the camel’s back.

I can no longer stick up for Massimo Cellino and his cohorts. It’s all just become too ridiculous and humiliating. We’ve got a Hartlepool fan – a Hartlepool fan, for Christ’s sake – referring to us as a crisis club on Soccer Saturday. And it’s hard to do more than feebly protest that Jeff Stelling should move out of his glass house before throwing any stones. But he’s right. We are a crisis club – safety from relegation notwithstanding. How could we be seen as anything else? The leaders of the club are set fair to make us untouchable by any respected football professional in the game. If Redders were to walk – who would want to move into such a hands-tied, hamstrung job? Not anybody that, in an ideal world, I’d care to nominate.

Today, we lost a football match and had a lad sent off. It’s happened before, it will happen again. At the moment, those bare facts represent the very least of our worries. We’re now at the stage where more and more people, some of whom might be expected to have an apoplectic fit at the sacrilegious idea of a re-branded Elland Road, are now openly welcoming the prospect of new owners who might well do just that. That’s how desperate we have become; that’s the barometer of the urgent desire for change – yet again.

I should have realised the way things were going when I published a spoof article for April Fools’ Day, claiming that a Russian oil mogul was buying Cellino out. It got over 25,000 views, so it must have half-convinced some people. And, in the spirit of All Fools’ Day, I got some good-natured abuse for such an outrageous lie. But what I also got was a lot – a lot – of wistful responses, saying if only it were true, etc. That’s not the sign of a happy support – and it was a big enough sample to make me to think it’s a fair indicator of the current mood. Right now, if Red Bull were to march in and paint the whole stadium some god-awful shade of the devil’s colour – you get the feeling that a lot would simply sigh and say, get on with it, then – see where we go. That’s a shocking state of affairs.

For now, we simply have to blunder on, and hope that this season peters away without too much more in the way of humiliation. The Blackburn game doesn’t matter, of itself. Nor, to be honest, does a tough-looking fixture at Wolves on Bank Holiday Monday. It’s the factors behind the Blackburn result, and behind whatever might happen to us at Molineux, that are of real concern at the moment. I think it’s right and fair to lay the blame for this 0-3 defeat squarely at the door of the owners, whatever else might have gone wrong. And I feel the same way about the Wolves game. If we do well, I’ll praise the lads and the manager. If we get – as I fear – a proper seeing-to, I’ll be blaming the suits.

After a long struggle to stay loyal, and with the way I feel with all that has happened this week – and with Jeff Stelling’s non-ironic words buzzing in my head – that’s just the way it is now for this once but no longer pro-Cellino blog.

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44 responses to “Leeds United 0, The Idiots In Charge 3   – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Blue Monday

    It’s interesting Rob that even you, someone clearly articulate and informed, cannot make sense of what is going on at LUFC. It is a nonsense. Plain and simple. I despair.

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  2. It is always the same – whenever things seem to be going well, Leeds United can be counted upon to plunge themselves into a crisis to test the patience of all who have the club seared into their souls. Like you, Rob, I welcomed Massimo Cellino as a welcome change from Bates and GFH, probably against my better judgement. And like you I have changed my mind totally. I back Neil Refearn 100 per cent and part of me wishes he had called the bluff of Salerno/Umbers/Cellino and announced tonight that he was walking out in solidarity with his mate and colleague. Redders is ‘Leeds’; he gets it. Cellino and his ilk, for all their posturing, can never be. I’ll be at Wolves on Monday, supporting Leeds as I’ve done since 1959. In the meantime, if Signor Cellino or any of his henchman or family are reading this, REINSTATE THOMPSON NOW and please, if you care at all about our fantastic club, SELL UP AND SHIP OUT. MoT

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  3. Sylvia Wilkinson

    Totally agree with everything you say, to do what they did to Neil Redfearn before his press conference was profoundly disrespectful and brutally uncaring.It really was the last straw, I for one have had enough of Italian temperament,if that’s what caused Steve Thompson to be dismissed – but of course we don’t know really who was at the back of it.

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  4. Mike Durham

    Once again Rob, extremely eloquently stated ; far more than I can manage because my head’s a shed at the moment!! MC is currently proving the nihilistic, myopic bastards at the Football League right at the moment… he’s not fit and proper!!

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  5. BITESYERLEGS 74

    I honestly think we’d have won today if all that shite hadn’t happened last week. I just hope someone who CARES ABOUT LEEDS UNITED gets hold of the club. And if they’re extremely rich too, then great but they have to care about the club and the fans. Some hope These days though!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. HI Rob, thoughtful and sadly an incisive piece about the parlous state of our beloved club. As a supporter of 45 plus years, I have been asking myself this week, ‘how did it ever come to this?’. How have we allowed Leeds United to be the laughing stock of the football world? If some of this nonsense had happened in a TV drama, even on Channel 5, you would say it was too far-fetched. I just want to go to ER and ask, nay shout at, the directors ‘what the fecking hell is going on?. I will always be Leeds, thick and thin, but this is just one very, very sad time. And to think when I was a kid, losing the ’73 final was obviously going to be the worst thing to happen to Leeds, ever, and nothing as bad as that would happen again. Ah the innocence of youth!!

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  7. Between the Lines

    I think you can blame the Football League, They’ve removed the head from our donkey, if they hadn’t done that we may truly have known who’s is responsible for this weeks farce.

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  8. The day started by with walk past billys statue , I shit you not rob there was two french blokes showing their arse on the steps , they didn’t have their pants down long before they were pounced on by the police and frog marched away ,, we then went into the east stand and observed the minute silence and this was followed by the Leeds fans singing there’s only one Neil redfurn ,, he waved to the crowd by he cut a lonely figure and I just couldn’t help but think , how the hell has this great club come to this ,, the game was pretty one sided till Austin got sent off then it was obvious what would happen and it did ,, I came home pretty down about the afternoons ‘ entertainment’ and in all honesty I’m sick to the back teeth of the whole pantomime

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  9. Rob, as ever, you express what I’m thinking and feeling well. There is so much to consider about the future of LUFC currently. However, it always will be one game at a time and you can’t ignore the fact that referees (and their assistants) influence games. The officials today screwed us and, regardless of who owns the club, biased officialdom will continue to dog Leeds until there is more transparency about their allegiances. Refs should declare which team they support and, by dint of the same, the teams they hate.

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  10. Psychosis Rob – that is my simple conclusion – up until last week I supported the guy – it seemed that things were finally going in the right direction – it even seemed that the FL had even forced some sort of delicate equilibrium between Cellino being in charge enough to keep the finances stable but not enough to interfere with recovery on the pitch. And yes I was looking forward to next season with some sort of optimism. Redfearn & Thompson appeared to have cracked it – and bang it all falls apart again. I don’t know about the FL’s fit and proper test of ownership – what we need is a fit and proper test for incarceration for life in a secure psychiatric unit – the guy is simply mad – that can be the only explanation

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  11. Rob, we lost the game because we played the second half with ten men against a team who were higher in the league than us. The off field developments clearly don’t help but we can’t blame today’s defeat on them.

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  12. So we loose a match that you say is not criticle to league position etc etc.Don’t think to question team selection ( selecting our top striker morison).Yet you question the suspension of assitant coach for some type of breach of club rule , of which you have no idea whats happened within the club . you then go on to point the finger of blame at the owner ,board, any body how as a seat in the directors box.Consider this today we pressed hard in first half created S.F.A.Rudy was sent off ( god knows why).2nd half rovers came out the better side created chances (not mention poor defending) took their chances.Go back to Boro (away)brilliant 3pts backs to the wall defending at its best ( but whoeful finishing) by Boro . Same at Fulham . Hand on heart we’ve rode our luck in some games also unlucky in others. But today’s result as NOTHING to do with the off field happenings.The over reaction to any rumour is quite stupid

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  13. Marty Moore

    Brilliant.
    Nail on the head. I thought Redders was going to well up after Keith told him how we feel today. He does NOT deserve this treatment and I believe as the great John Giles said last summer ” he’s a nutter, nobody in their right mind is going to work with him interfering in the team selection process, he’s totally bonkers” NUFF SAID BY THE GREAT JG.
    Cellino was doomed to failure as soon as he appointed Hockaday, this was an accentric move rather than footballing one. No offence to Dave Hockaday but it was crazy. This was NOT a show of Premier intent. And the rest we know…. I really hope the fan based idea gains some real momentum because I for one will be up for it. MOT AND RIP THE LADS… RESPECT… I FELT HONOURED TO BE AMONG WHAT I FEEL ARE THE GREATEST FANS IN THE WORLD TODAY… HONOURED.

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  14. BITESYERLEGS 74

    Am I the only one sat in me retro shirt looking at the smiley badge on it and wondering where it all went wrong?

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  15. MoT

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  16. It might be that Cellino is selling the club and the new owners do not want the present coaching staff. Good coach, nice guy, but Neil is hardly the multilingual Special One or Wenger. Neil looks rough around the edges, sporting stubble. He is not that articulate peppering ever other sentence with “You know what I mean.”
    Now You, I and the rest of the ordinary types do not care, find his Dewsbury accent endearing, but the corporate types who will own and control the club will not find him acceptable for the New World fan base they covert. The top end of the Premier League that they want ASAP is a “different country” to the one Leeds last experienced 14 years ago, or Cellino is a nutter. Take your pick.

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  17. I have to agree with you. This board is incompetent, unprofessional, and on this weeks showing unfit to run a football club. If there is truth in the rumour that certain players knew that Thompson was on his way out before he or Redders were told then this is dispicable. To suggest as in one comment that these antics had nothing to do with the result is rediculous. Low morale is a cancer.
    As for a takeover. Any organisation contemplating stepping in would be mad to show its hand until the final stages of negotiation were almost agreed. We hear all this negativity about Red Bull especially from those who have no idea what they are talking about. I don’t believe for one minute they would wàlk into a club like Leeds and intentionally do anything that would humiliate or disrespect us. How they conduct their business abroad is one thing but this is English football. All I know is this just cannot go on and I don’t think it will because Cellino has more court appearances which will seal his fate and his days in English football will be over. Where do we go from here? Right now I would snap the hand off anyone with millions of pounds and not frightened of spending it. Red Bull, Russell Crowe or even your April fool Russian oil mogul. Bring it on.

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  18. Philip of Spain.

    Great article Bob,as usual.You have said everything really.The total forward togetherness that was building nicely has been wiped off by quick tempered Italians talking instead of listening.Red Bull,paint the stadium with Bulls,call it Toro Stadium,multi coloured shirts,who cares,as long as we see genuine footballing Progress’s and not run like a pizza parlour.

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  19. David Dean

    Great piece Rob, as per usual. It is so well written and so cuttingly to the point. We have seen the madness of Cellino in all its’ glory this time. I have so many questions, like you must do, and the rest of us serfs, and we just have to speculate on the reasons for this ludicrous move. My mind goes immediately to Johnny Giles when he advised Redders not to go within a million miles of Cellino some time ago. I couldn’t understand that – was Giles really so against him for no reason? Of course not. He knows things we don’t and loves the club as much or even more then we do! Cellino started to wobble big-time when he was banned and stated at the time that it would be no tragedy if we were relegated and he and his family were leaving Leeds . At the time I said, tongue in cheek, that he wants us to go down to cut costs further as big crowds in league division 3 would make the club more profitable. I can’t believe that would have been his consolation as a relegation battle became a possibility and I thought maybe it was a gesture of support to calm the waters and a bit of “always look in the bright side of life”.
    So now I come to what must be the obvious conclusion and I will say it because I have not read it yet but maybe most of us think this. He was utterly pissed off with his ban and in his confused and frustrated state threw his toys out of the pram and pissed off to fucking Miami for a few weeks. His plan last summer was to use Salerno to put together a squad of hopefuls. Cheap players with potential that he could sell on at a profit as he had done for years in Italy. Remember we had players that were the shittest team he has ever seen when ‘Ampty Dampty’ was on the wall and he was right about that one! A good squad was assembled, I was very happy with it, but I became rather confused over the following months why some players weren’t persevered with and a player like Del Fabro – one for the international team in the future and one of the best young defenders in Italy – didn’t get a look in. Other foreigners failed to cut it in the Championship and Redders knew changes were needed for results. Has this turned him against Redders? That his Italian players have not been picked and given their chance? This will have been Cellino’s remit to Redders originally and in his absence, with his ban, he has got madder and madder and hurt by Redders and blames him and Thompson for changing things against his will. So what does Cellino do? He takes away his best mate, the one Redders begged him to bring to the club, and the one who has been instrumental in bringing the change that took us up the league. Was he jealous of Thompson, the closeness he has with Redders. He blames him for Adrian et al not being in the team. In exile Cellino sees no glory for himself, no credit for any of the success while Redders has had to be brave and go against the one who ‘drives the bus’ and he has picked players and systems for results to get us out of the shit and sacrificing the beautiful football we saw which Cellino will have been instrumental in – the diamond which in the early days brought some of the best football seen at Yell and Roared in 10 years to be fair. Maybe if Adrian would have flourished, as Mowatt and Cook have, things would have been different and with calm waters away from relegation danger we may have seen a calmer Cellino. We loved him being the bus driver, the grass cutter and the one that makes everything tick. Cooking the players’ meal at the last supper was great and we couldn’t wait for our Messiah to rise again soon after Easter. What a pity he couldn’t just have had a nice holiday and been happy with the results. He has lost his head and done a Henry VIII – chopped off Thompson’s head. He thinks this will make Redders walk out and doesn’t care about results now we are safe. He wants Redders out but Redders loved the club and he won’t give in and walk. If I am wrong and does leave so will I. Cellino will also know that the fight with the FL will continue after he completes the ban – 2 new cases happening now in Italy. He probably sees this is going to go on and on and has finally spat his dummy out and wants rid. Talking about the FL – if they banned him because he failed the fit and proper persons test, reprieved him on appeal and then brought the guillotine down when his appeal in Italy failed, why was he not banned forever? He failed their fit and proper persons test so failing that test he should not allowed to own a club in the league, ever! Of course we would have been so upset at the time if they had kicked him out permanently but they would have done us a favour in hindsight. Do they hate us so much that they don’t even want to protect us in this way? Of course I am glad this never happened because we would have gone insane at the time and we never would have found out the truth – we never would have found out that God did not exist! MOT and thanks for your insight and wonderfully written and entertaining articles and for helping us all to enjoy the feeling of getting our own creative juices flowing.

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  20. I’m glad you finally realized that maximoego is not good for our (or any other) club. Yes, mate, for all the love he can say he has, the club needs a good business mind and stability. Now, cellino is a head case and most of the fans only realized this in these last few days. Why such long good will – even though he’s been telling us lie upon lie (remember the Elland road buyback?) ? Only because he’s a lovable fool doesn’t make him fit to lead the Mighty Whites. He’d rather pursue a career as a rock singer as far as I am concerned. And this should tell a lesson to all us fans: keep our cool heads when judging an owner, on facts and not on personal likability

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  21. As usual you manage to see into my mind and my heart as you write about LUFC and it’s great supporters, well done ROB.
    For once I was not absolutely gutted by the result against Blackburn, sometimes there are more important issues. Two men’s lives and another’s job for instance.
    My thoughts on the next takeover are ‘Bring it on’, I too was giving Cellino the benefit, but that has now gone.
    Radio 5 live confirmed that takeover talks are underway with RED BULL, I believe they have had long enough to know about the fans aversion to red (anyone remember us wearing red shirts, late 60’s, or early 70’s, how things change!) and would do enough to keep us happy, what they would bring is GOOD MANAGEMENT upstairs and I’d settle for that right now.
    With a bit of luck we’ll have yet another clean slate and another year of team building as the foreign legion is thinned out and hopefully better players are brought in, ever the optimist.
    MOT

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  22. wetherby white

    I spent a lot of time on Saturday afternoon, when my head wasn’t in my hands, staring at solitary Neil Redfearn opposite me. Over the last few years weve had shedloads of crap owners, criminals (Bates/Harvey) and bad decision making. What makes the sacking of Tommo even worse is the utter arrogance of the club statement that no other information would be given!!!! Ive posted to the sackless YEP to do some investigative journalism for the first time in their lives-dont hold your breath.

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  23. Eddiegraysshoulderdrop

    You have managed to articulate my feelings on this week Rob, thanks because I have struggled to fathom out what the hell is happening at OUR club. At a time when, for once we were enjoying a period of stability and dare I say enjoying watching our team achieve mid table mediocrity our megalomaniac of an owner decides to not only shoot himself in the foot but also disrespect the memory of Chris and Kev, two lads who were murdered following the club that he now owns. The impeccable minute silence, respect to Blackburn fans for their silence too, showed that the true heart of our club, the fans are a cut above the clueless, classes owners that are lucky enough to be custodians of our Leeds Utd.

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  24. giancarlo barone

    I agree with your sentiments Rob. However, I’m not yet convinced that MC is about to sell.
    Back in the 80s & 90s I worked for an Italian family who came from the south, Bari in the region of Puglia. The boss was a nutcase and would continuously create upheaval amongst his staff, who may I add were an odd pot of bandits. I came to the conclusion that he was looking for those who would rise above the chaos and even excelled in that environment. I never fully understood why he would do such a thing but was inclined to think that, given his upbringing, this was the way of life instilled from his time back in his home town.

    So to conclude, while what MC creates would be entirely appropriate to run the streets for the Cosa Nostra back in his home town, I think it’s entirely inappropriate to run a football club and global brand in this fashion.

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  25. Rob – totally agree. I also have been pro-Cellino. I liked the fact that he is a complete nutter as it seemed to suit what we had become – unfortunately its now become obvious its all about him and NOBODY is bigger than LUFC. He’s been chased out of ER once, he needs to sell up and move on.

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  26. Martyn Barrett

    Rob while I have been following your comments for some time, I note your silence on the potential supporters 25% buyout.
    While I agree it sounds speculative at present your ear of the LUFC fans while not nailing your colours to the mast could be inspiring.
    I for one wil be contributing as will many genuine supporters who need an avalanche of realistic knowlegable support.
    Any comments ??

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    • I just don’t know enough about it at present Martyn, and I clearly need to inform myself. Until I’ve done that to my own satisfaction, I’m better off keeping my powder dry.

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  27. Just as there was a small flicker of hope since the turn of the year with a management team and core of talented academy players all with Leeds coursing through their veins one moment of sheer calculated madness has snuffed out that flicker of hope.

    I can only assume Neil has over stepped his mark with both tactics and team selection and MC has decided he must go. The problem is if he does go then so will many of our academy stars and who could blame them. The fans will simply not stand for this and will show MC that he has lost the support his maverick style and siege mentality gained from us battle hardened fans.

    It really is time for the fans LLP to press on and take some control of our great clubs destiny.

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  28. David Dean

    At this very political time of year I have been pricked in thought to consider farcical goings on at Lufc and see what similarities there are to Government. What springs to mind is World War 2. Cellino is like a right wing Fascist dictator – so he could be Hitler. His right hand man has a similar name to his – so Solerno will take the role of Himmler. Ken Bates can be the long gone Keiser. Childs had escaped and is in hiding. Thommo has just faced the firing squad and Redders is now a P.O.W. Red Bull are the US government dithering about wether or not to come into the war and rescue us. GFH are Italy (Hitlers’ closet allies). Russell Crowe is the French Resistance and the Leeds Fans are Dad’s Army!

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