Monthly Archives: October 2015

If You’re Loyal to Cellino’s Leeds United, You’re a Mug   –   by Rob Atkinson

Cellino smoking while Leeds United crash and burn

It gives me no pleasure to write an article under a title like that. In fact, it causes me immense pain. Loyalty is the raison d’être of the fanatical football supporter. It’s a byword for anyone who loves “their” club. It ranks right up there with passion and pride in the lexicon of the devoted follower – and that applies to followers of Leeds United far more than most.

Right now, the way the club is being run is a sick joke. The old maxim of “no one man is bigger than the club” has been torn up and thrown onto the fire by an egomaniac of an owner in Massimo Cellino, who clearly regards himself as the living embodiment of a famous old football club. He’s wrong, of course – but sadly for those of us who see that, he doesn’t recognise a world in which he can be wrong. As far as the Italian fraudster is concerned, he is the answer, whatever the question might happen to be.

That word loyalty resonates with fans, and people in general, no matter how hard times could possibly get. It’s a quality deemed to be of the first importance, especially at the very worst of times. This applies throughout most of life; stick together, guys, and we’ll get through this. But, in modern football, loyalty has been bent out of shape into a slavish obligation to turn up and support even the rottenest of regimes. And, right now – at a time when we the fans are palpably being made mugs of – those who devotedly roll up at the turnstiles, to cheer on their demoralised heroes, can only be classified as mugs. Helpless mugs who see no alternative to their lifelong habit of watching the Whites. Loyal mugs who justify the owner’s stubborn determination to stay in control, football pundits and rulers notwithstanding. 

The crowd tonight, or the more vocal part of it anyway, attempted to qualify their loyalty with repeated chants of “Massimo, time to go”. But they had to be there in the first place to join in with those chants. And they had to have parted with their hard-earned cash to be there, meaning that they’re propping up a regime that they’re now loudly opposed to. 

Make no mistake, the Elland Road crowd have correctly identified the villain of the piece. They’re not daft mugs – just misguided for being there at all. They know, those intuitive mugs, that Cellino is the problem. I’d hazard that the players know too – they’re certainly all too well aware from recent experience that no one “Head Coach” is going to be there long enough to make a real difference. Those players know that they’re actually playing not for any football man, but for a mad despot who will keep chopping and changing, sticking his unqualified nose in, reducing a great club to the status of a music hall slapstick routine. You can see it in, their headless chicken, panicky performances, especially under the eyes of those massed loyal, frustrated mugs in the stands. Is it any wonder that what Cellino promised would be a “beautiful season” is swiftly degenerating into ugly farce?

The time is now for the fans to organise, so far as such a thing is possible, and resolve as a body to be mugs no longer. Attendances at home and away must be made to suffer, in the hope of hitting any regime where it really hurts – in the pocket. The Cellino era needs to have the life choked out of it, if not by the League’s seemingly toothless “fit and proper” test, then by loyal, devoted people who love Leeds United – but are determined to be mugs no longer. 

We have decent players for this league. We have a manager in Steve Evans who has produced winning football at his previous clubs, in a manner undreamed of by his predecessors. The problem is not in the dugout and, despite appearances, it is not on the pitch. The problem is right at the top, where the rot set in when Cellino moved in – and any semblance of sanity or stability moved out. That rot will seep down throughout the club unless it’s checked. Eventually, the Leeds United we all love might very well rot to the core, and cease to exist in any form we might recognise or wish to see. 

The Elland Road crowd has taken a big step tonight towards assuring Massimo Cellino that he’s not wanted at Leeds. Now those loyal supporters must show a more painful kind of loyalty, by doing the unthinkable and staying away – withdrawing their vocal and financial support of this decaying club. They must stand up to be counted and make the rest of football sit up and take notice. They must stop being taken for mugs and they should stop acting like mugs. 

Because, deep down – whatever Cellino might smugly think – Leeds United fans are definitely NOT mugs – it just currently seems that way. That’s what we have to demonstrate, and it has to start now. 

And, if not now – after the rotten mess we’ve seen tonight – then… when?

Advertisements

History Shows A Strong Leeds United is Needed For a Strong England Team – by Rob Atkinson

Art of Football remembers England's - and Leeds' - glory day at Wembley '66

Art of Football remembers England’s – and Leeds’ – glory day at Wembley ’66

Long-standing and esteemed Friends of the Blog Art of Football have been kind enough to send me another quality example of their fine work, something I can defiantly wear close to my heart, to emphasise my status as a proud Englishman. This is a helpful state of mind at a time when, as not infrequently happens, all is chaos and confusion in the world of Leeds United. England have just booked a place at a major tournament in Euro ’16, with a flawless performance in the qualification group, winning ten out of ten matches. That, in itself is a cause for pride, whichever club team you might happen to support. In these cosmopolitan times, national pride and club pride have little in common with each other; most clubs are predominantly staffed by players from beyond these shores – you really do have to look to the England team if you’re a devotee of St. George and fancy stoking up any latent feelings of nationalist fervour.

Time was, of course, when our top clubs were much more parochially inclined. Any League team with pretensions to success would boast its clutch of current England internationals, and Leeds United was no exception in the days when the national team was a real force to be reckoned with. Harking back to the glory days of 1966 – as my Art of Football product clearly does in the picture above – Leeds fans will be proud to recall that our own Jack Charlton played his part on the day, ensuring that Leeds would go down in history with the likes of West Ham, Liverpool and even Fulham and Blackpool, as clubs that contributed players to England’s finest hour. For Leeds, there was also Norman Hunter in that legendary squad – and it’s good to know that his presence was belatedly acknowledged when he was finally awarded a World Cup winners medal in 2009.

The fact that the World Cup Final in July 1966 remains England’s solitary impact on World Football’s honours board, though, is a more sobering thought. The decisive moment reproduced on the front of Art of Football‘s evocative product could fairly be described as England’s last real mark on Football history. Next summer, when the current crop of national heroes are doing battle in France, it will be 50 years since the late, great Kenneth Wolstenholme so memorably remarked on Wembley pitch invaders thinking it’s all over – adding “It is now!”, as Geoff Hurst‘s late thunderbolt hit the back of the German net. Half a century on, it’s really difficult to imagine such a moment happening again, with almost every major nation having long since overtaken us in terms of international honours.

Still, that’s probably a bit too carpy and whingey, considering that the current wearers of those Three Lions shirts have breezed so effectively to qualification for next year’s finals – and especially when you consider that Scotland have maintained their recent form by failing yet again to make it to the party. And the fact that, if England by some miracle did succeed in France, it will be without the involvement of any Leeds United personnel – well, I’m not going to let that bother me either. I’d be chuffed, delighted, flown with patriotic pride if the lads did it, even given that some of those lads, and at least one past-it striker, ply their trade for that lot over the Pennines whom I shall not dignify by mention of their name. What the hell, after all. When they play and win for England, they’re English – petty matters of club rivalry are for less momentous occasions.

The fact remains for the moment, though – and barring that unlikely miracle I was talking about for our lot in France next year – that England only wins a cup with at least one Leeds lad involved, and another in the background. That, in itself, is a matter of unshakeable pride for long-suffering Leeds United fans. So I’ll wear my iconic design proudly, as a tribute to those lads of so long ago – but most especially with a glow of pride for our Jack and our Norm, who did their country proud – and immortalised themselves in the process.

Leeds Blog Statement: The Football League: an Apology   –   by Rob Atkinson

The Football League board - definitely not muppets

The Football League board – definitely not muppets

Over the past year or two, Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything, in common with other, similar online publications which are motivated by their sometimes emotionally-fuelled support of Leeds United AFC, may have given the impression that the Football League is somehow unfit for purpose and should not, in fact, be entrusted even with such a relatively minor responsibility as organising a piss-up in a brewery.

We may further have led readers to believe that the League is run by vicious and vindictive old men who are motivated by some long-standing grudge against Leeds United; that these old men are buffoons who exhibit symptoms not inconsistent with late-onset Alzheimer’s; moreover, that there is some Machiavellian plot within the League organisation to do Leeds down and impede their development and progress at every opportunity.

Headlines such as “Football League Seeking to Destroy Leeds“, “Time For The Senile FL Buffoons to be Put Out to Grass” and “The Football League: Why Even the Tories Have More Integrity” may unintentionally have reinforced the idea that this blog is not 100% behind the English Football authorities’ attempts to assess the suitability of Massimo Cellino to be in charge of a League Club. 

We now realise, in the light of recent events, that there was not an atom of truth in any of the above. We are happy to make clear that Football League governors are not “senile buffoons” as they have been previously and incorrectly referred to, but are, in fact, almost saintly men of impeccable wisdom and unfailing kindness, motivated only by a desire to see good practice flourish among member clubs.

We would like to take this opportunity to state for the record that Leeds United as a club have received entirely fair treatment from the Football League in the course of what was definitely not a vendetta against the club. We can further assure our many dozens of readers that any impression previously given, to the effect that Signor Cellino is some latter-day Messiah, is and was absolutely unintended and erroneous. We can confirm our unshakeable position that Cellino is a convicted fraudster, something far more heinous than certain rapists and money launderers who adorn the Football League family, and that he should be publicly pilloried and then frogmarched into the Channel to take his chances on swimming home. 

Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything is a reputable internet resource that knows which side its bread is buttered. We trust that our position is now both clear and unambiguous – and we look forward to continuing to bring you The Truth as we may, from time to time, see it over the coming weeks and months.

Statement ends

Dictated by our Satire & Litigation Executive, and signed off (in his temporary absence on a sabbatical at Private Eye magazine), by a handy minion. 

Evans In, Cellino Out. Now We Must ALL Get Behind Leeds   –   by Rob Atkinson

Steve Evans arrives as Leeds United boss

It’s been quite a day, even for a football club in Leeds United that resembles a Whitehall Farce set on Fantasy Island – with a chorus of clowns and a plot straight out of the Crossroads school of dire soap operas. The first thing we heard this morning was that Uwe Rösler had been sacked. This, in retrospect, turned out to be the least surprising event of the day – after all, Rösler had received the fatal vote of confidence from Massimo Cellino not long back, so the axe had been poised to fall for some little time. 

This was no “mutual consent” contract termination, it appears. Rösler has been kicked out on the basis of undeniably poor results, but he’s unlikely to take it lying down, with a plea for support from the League Managers Association probable. We supporters can take it as read that Uwe’s course is run – and it’s unlikely many will mourn his passing, despite his laughably brief tenure. But Leeds could yet face a hefty bill to be rid of their umpteenth coach since the Mad Italian landed at Elland Road

It’s that procession of team managers in and out of the revolving door that was the problem for shocked Leeds fans this morning, rather than the loss of Rösler per se. Supporters rightly complained that the club is being made to look ridiculous – a laughing stock – as a result of Cellino’s allegro hire ’em then fire ’em recruitment policy. And then the next thing we heard was that convicted tax fraudster Cellino had lined up convicted tax fraudster Steve Evans as his next appointment. 

Immediately, the fat jokes and the dodgy geezer jokes came to the fore as football’s most put-upon fans responded with a broadside of gallows humour. Evans’ ample girth was the main target, with several terrace wits remarking upon the proximity of a McDonalds restaurant to Elland Road, and a video being shared online of our new head coach doing a celebratory touch-line waddle at Wembley, as he celebrated a playoff final goal for his then charges Rotherham.

And then, another twist. My first blog today took as its theme “Go, Cellino. In the name of God, GO”. And, lo, it has come to pass. For the time being, at least temporarily and subject to appeal, Cellino is gone – banned again by the Football League under their Owners and Directors provisions, more loosely known as the “Fit & Proper Test“. And it is this latest development that has put a new complexion on the whole troubled and rancorous day.

This morning, humiliated at the ridicule our great club was suffering under the direction of a barking Italian, the support was angry and out for blood, to judge by the mood online. Most if not all of that anger was directed at Cellino, with few if any mourning the demise of Rösler, who has won few friends with some odd decisions. So Cellino was under fire, not so much for the Rösler sacking as for what that said about his modus operandi thus far and looking ahead. But now, so it seems, Cellino will have no influence at Leeds for the foreseeable future.

This does make a difference. With Cellino out of the picture, we have a football club to support again, rather than a mad egomaniac’s plaything. It has become our function once more to support rather than to complain; to get behind the team rather than saturating the ether with negative vibes about the club. It’s vitally important that we, as a body of support, recognise the crucial difference between Cellino’s Leeds United – and a Leeds United without that overbearing, embarrassing presence about the club. 

In many ways, we have a new start in a positive sense, with a new man in charge of the team, and a new chance to go forward with a clean slate and – we should hope – all the players looking to impress Evans from day one. The removal of Cellino must surely mean an immediate improvement in Steve Evans’ prospects of being around long enough to make a difference. The supporters‘ role in that must be unswerving backing for the shirts – nothing less will do. 

What a difference a day makes. What a roller-coaster today has been. But the last case may well be better than the first, with the net effect being beneficial for Leeds United. It’s a leap of faith, but we have to believe this will be true. We must put our support behind Leeds United, the team, the manager, and we must start Marching On Together once more – now that the focus for our anger appears to have been removed, at least for the time being. 

Let’s do what we can, then, to get solidly behind the club from here on in, and see where that might take us. After all; you, me – even Steve Evans – we’re all Leeds, aren’t we?

Will the Real Steve Evans Please Stand Up?   –   by Rob Atkinson

 
So, who have we got coaching the Leeds United first team now? If it’s the gentleman in the picture above, then it’d be hard to think of an incoming United manager giving a better example of getting off on the wrong foot since a certain Brian Clough breezed into Elland Road, slagging off all and sundry. 

Then again, if it’s the convicted tax fraudster in this second picture, then we can expect the new occupant of the Leeds hot seat to get on quite well with our straight-as-a-corkscrew owner Cellino. A fellow feeling makes us wondrous kind, as old Will Shakespeare said, a few years back. Kindred spirits, and all that.

This blog thinks that Mr. Evans will have his work cut out building any sort of relationship with the notoriously stroppy Leeds support. He might have his work cut out with a bewildered United squad, too. Then again, those tasks might just turn out to be chickenfeed, compared to figuring out how to stay on the right side of Cellino. 

Some say of Evans, give him a chance. Others are more inclined to give him the cold shoulder. 

Me? I’ll give him till Christmas, tops. 

Steve Evans Sacked By Leeds After An Hour; Katie Hopkins to Take Over – by Rob Atkinson

Katie Hopkins: exciting appointment

Katie Hopkins: exciting appointment

Former Rotherham manager Steve Evans took training for Leeds United this morning and was duly sacked by calm, reflective owner Massimo Cellino for “poor results” as he tackled his formidable lunch. Media star Katie Hopkins is expected to take over as Cellino resorts to the provisions of the Sex Discrimination Act in order to restrain himself from further executive action.

Evans was quoted in the last few minutes as he cleared his plate and then his desk: “I can’t complain. I’ve had a fair crack of the whip and it’s true we’ve not won a single game since I took over at 10:00 this morning. That’s football, I suppose.”

Mr. Cellino was not available for interview, but is understood to be excited by the appointment of la Hopkins, recommended to him by a certain peer of the realm as “the right man for the job”.

The colour of the sky in Cellino’s world is not purple.

Just Go, Cellino. In the Name of God, Man, GO!!!   –   by Rob Atkinson

Cellino OUT

Cellino OUT

Short and bitter blog this morning as yet another manager staggers away with Cellino‘s knife in his back.

I’ve seen this coming, as many will have done – I blogged about Uwe Rösler‘s recent poison tipped “vote of confidence” from il Loco, and the doomed German himself must surely have seen the writing on the wall there and then. 

So now Rösler is gone, just the latest victim of Cellino’s frankly crazy revolving door policy. The Italian doesn’t seem to see how the serial recruitment failure reflects on him – he evidently feels he’s right and the rest of the world is wrong, with each successive coach letting him down, the poor, frustrated genius. 

Cellino is no good for Leeds United. He’s made the club into a joke, just by his insane running of it, and leaving aside his shady activities on the fringes of criminality. Leeds under Cellino is not a fair test of any football man’s ability. Anyone agreeing to take over now must surely find his professional credibility stretched to breaking point. What will the rest of football think of anyone prepared to put his reputation on the line for a clown like our nutjob President? It’s a nightmare we just can’t seem to wake up from.

From what we hear, it may well be Steve Evans, late of Rotherham, next. And who knows after that – all we do know is it won’t take long. Evans will feel the love from Cellino for a spell, then he’ll be harangued in the press, then he’ll be gone. It’s not the way to run a football club – but it IS the way that a liar, an incompetent, a conman like Cellino conducts himself.  

This blog will now devote itself heart and soul, in its own small way, to hounding Cellino out of Leeds. He’s poison, the kind of walking disaster who will see us back down among the dead men. He has to go. The sooner, the better, for all concerned. I hope and believe other small voices will be raised in the cause of chasing this joker out of our club. 

Go, Cellino. Go now, if not sooner. In the name of God, man, GO!!!

Genius Kewell’s Brilliant Theory on Why 5’8″ Leeds Keeper Didn’t Make It – by Rob Atkinson

Harry wearing his most intelligent and alert expression

Harry wearing his most intelligent and alert expression

As many will know, former Westlife boyband member Nicky Byrne narrowly missed out on real megastardom when his fledgling career as a footballer with Leeds United came to an abrupt end.

It has long been a matter of fevered speculation as to just why the diminutive Byrne never made it as a professional goalkeeper. There seemed to be no obvious reason why the tiny teen idol failed to make an impact in a position dominated by lanky lads of 6’4″ or thereabouts. Byrne himself, standing at a somewhat less than towering 5’8″, never revealed the reason for his sporting heartache, and it seemed fated to remain one life’s great mysteries.

But now that baffling conundrum may at last have been solved by the mighty cerebral power of Australia’s foremost intellect Harry Kewell. Such are the intricacies of Kewell’s musings that it’s really not easy to convey them in a form mere mortals will have a chance of comprehending. The best shot that Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything can make follows this paragraph. It’s complex stuff, mind, so read it slowly – and then read it over again, a couple of times if necessary. We’re trying to sum up the product of a superior mind here, so be patient with yourselves and give it every chance. You never know – a revelatory enlightenment might just dawn. Here goes, then. Take a deep breath…

Harry Kewell’s revolutionary thesis on the failure of Emerald Isle shorthouse Nicky Byrne to gain top-level employment keeping a size five football out of a goal measuring 8 foot high by 24 foot wide may be summed up in this one brilliant quote from the great man himself, as follows: (Here it comes. Are you ready??)

“He was just a little bit small.”

Wow.

On hearing such transcendental genius from the lips of the antipodean master, FIFA immediately capitulated, suspending both Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini to pave the way for Kewell to take over as the game’s omnipotent overlord. Football’s governing body faces stiff competition from the United Nations, who want the Aussie as their new Secretary General, and it is believed that British TV have approached Kewell’s current employers Watford FC to test their resolve to keep him, as they want his unparalleled intellect to replace the Eggheads team in its entirety, and take on all-comers on his own.

Moves are also afoot Down Under to strip Kewell of his Aussie nationality, as an IQ in excess of 65 is illegal in that part of the world. Clive James was deported under this provision many years ago, and the reverse legislation has enabled many emigrant Britons to make a new life in less mentally demanding circumstances.

Having proved himself in the genius stakes, Kewell is now thinking of taking up chess. “I tried it last year with a head-to-head challenge against Joey Essex, but he somehow beat me,” explained the former Liverpool shirker. “Now I feel more confident, so I’ll be having another go, maybe against someone even more cleverer this time.” 

Glittering Success and Glory Are So Close for Leeds United   –   by Rob Atkinson

Leeds, monopolising the silverware

Leeds United are not that far at all from a team that carries all before it, dominating the domestic scene with a clean sweep of sparkly honours, and looking set fair to succeed on the world stage. How good does that sound?

Sadly for most Whites fans, that glory and success, so close at hand that we can absolutely smell the silver polish, is represented by a different team in a rival sport, just a few miles up the road in leafy Headingley. Super League Champions, League Leaders and back-to-back Challenge Cup Holders Leeds Rhinos are the undoubted Kings of Rugby League, monopolising the cups, trophies and other baubles for both team and individuals. They have brought a sense of pride to the city of Leeds in a way that United used to do once upon a time, long ago – a way that the hapless and misdirected Whites can only dream of now.

That’s a bitter pill for followers of the round ball game in Yorkshire‘s biggest and best city. It’s a pill only slightly sweetened for those who, as I do, happen to follow Leeds in both sports. For those die-hard United fans who have no love for what they might term egg-chasers, it’s an unwelcome reminder that, quite frankly, we’re no longer top dogs on our own patch. And there’s very real danger inherent in that unpalatable fact.

The problem for Leeds United is that, in a proud city where there is fierce rivalry between devotees of competing sports, continued failure and monotonous mediocrity are simply not sustainable. Watching top level professional sport is an expensive business at the best of times – and the current times are patently not the best. With continued failure and disappointment, there is no feelgood factor to lessen the sting of high ticket prices. There’s no warm glow of value for money – and that’s a matter of real concern to any citizen of the People’s Republic of Yorkshire, where traditionally pockets are long and arms are short. There is a much-told tale that copper wire was originally discovered by two Tykes fighting over a penny. Apocryphal as that may be, there can be no doubt that denizens of the Broad Acres are careful with their brass, and will sniff out value for that commodity with a bloodhound’s zeal. Like it or not, there’s precious little value in Leeds United these days. 

If you’re a youngish person of limited income but some breadth of mind – someone whose memories don’t stretch back as far as real success for Leeds United – what are you going to do? Where will you go, if you fancy spending some of your hard-gained cash on a match-day ticket? The lure of Headingley and the rampant, success-sated Rhinos must surely be hard to resist. As for the football down at Elland Road – well, would you? With cash in short supply? It’s asking a lot, especially of youngsters who simply cannot know what a rocking stadium behind a successful United side is really like. 

Some people attempt to defend football’s ludicrous prices, citing pricey theatre tickets and the like. But you don’t set out to watch Swan Lake and end up coming home depressed on a cold, wet night, after watching a bunch of overpaid, under-motivated failures slide to yet another drab, morale-sapping defeat. Ultimately, in the quest for the Holy Grail of value for money, people will tend to vote with their feet – and that tendency will increase with each additional year of disappointment, disillusion and broken promises. Add into this mix of bleak depression a glittering counter-attraction just across the city – and the clear and present danger to a complacent and decadent football club is all too easy to see. 

The day might not be far off now when the Leeds Rhinos, masters of a vibrantly exciting, brutally committed, compelling spectacle of a sport, could well be not only Rugby League’s class act, but the top of the bill in their own city, on merit, with only feeble opposition from a poverty-stricken and dystopian LS11. And, Rhinos admirer though I gladly am, that’s a day whose dawn I really do not wish to see. 

Cellino’s Promised “Beautiful Season” Turning Ugly for Leeds   –   by Rob Atkinson

cellino no

“The fans are going to enjoy next season so much, it will be a beautiful season, I promise to them.” – Massimo Cellino, April 2015

It’s been quite a week for holding people to account over promises recklessly made and then casually broken. On Thursday, ex-Tory voter Michelle Dorrell became an instant media star on the BBC’s Question Time, by castigating a shocked and speechless government minister over blatant lies told and cast-iron pledges tossed aside. The hapless Amber Rudd, incumbent Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change in Cameron’s team of no talent, simply did not know where to put herself, under a withering barrage of anger and contempt from a voter who felt, with absolute justification, that she’d been conned, betrayed, abandoned. It is possible to speculate that Ms. Rudd, whose face told a tale of deep shame and helpless bewilderment, might not, perhaps, be the best card player out there. Which is unfortunate for that lady as, in her position as a professional liar, she really does need that unflinching poker face.

Compare and contrast the useless Amber Rudd with our very own master of spin and deception, Signor Massimo Cellino. It’s a bit like putting Clogiron Rovers of the Council Parks League next to European giants such as Barcelona or AC Milan. The mighty gulf is best illustrated by the fact that both these public figures lie and dissimulate – but whereas the Tory Minister looked as guilty and crestfallen as an Oxford undergraduate photographed with his wedding tackle in a dead pig’s mouth, our Massimo peddles his many fictions with a countenance as smoothly untroubled as a placid lake on a still, hot day.

Perhaps that inscrutable countenance is the key to Cellino’s undoubted success in many arenas over the span of a long, controversial and eccentric career. But there is a limit to what even such a convoluted operator as Big Mass can get away with. He is on record, as we can see above, as recently as April just gone, speaking in honeyed tones of the “beautiful season” we Leeds United fans could look forward to in 2015/16. It was a solemn and unconditional promise he made to us – a promise now being spectacularly broken as this misbegotten, shapeless, aimless, depressing campaign gets uglier by the week.

Massimo has previous form in his relatively short time at Leeds for making statements amounting to promises, which he has then patently failed to deliver. He said he’d pop down the ATM and sort out the wherewithal to buy back Elland Road upon taking control of the club; many months on, it hasn’t happened (though we’re assured the process is ongoing. Perhaps the pesky cash machine ate his card?). The timescale for promotion keeps getting pushed back, too. Just as Annie the Orphan sang about tomorrow always being a day away, so our prospects of Premier League Football seem to be holding a steady distance of two years into the future, no matter how much time passes in the real world. And Cellino speaks with misty-eyed affection about each successive coach he employs one minute and then, in the next breath, he’s picking a fight with them preparatory to inserting the trusty old stiletto blade between their vulnerable back ribs. It’s all initial promise, moving through bitter disillusion and ending in bleak disappointment.

But the thing about all these lies, as they mount up into an embarrassingly big and obvious heap, is that they tend to detract somewhat from any chap’s credibility. And credibility – the very currency of the successful sporting head honcho – is now a commodity of which Cellino, poker face notwithstanding, is rapidly running uncomfortably short.

Abraham Lincoln said, with typical wisdom: “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time“. Massimo Cellino, though markedly less sage, appears to have been quite successful in fooling lots of people for the longest time. But there is a limit – and now, after the latest home defeat to Brighton, the rumblings of discontent are being felt around Elland Road, one time football fortress, now reduced to the flimsiest house of cards. Some of the fans remain defiantly faithful, holding that Cellino is the real deal, simply by virtue of not being Ken Bates. It’s a camp where I once upon a time raised this blog’s standard – but not any more. There have been too many lies, too many rash, undelivered promises. A good proportion of the fans now appear to have seen through Massimo’s affable facade, and they have detected the charlatan that lies beneath – and keeps on and on lying. It’s a harsh verdict on the face of it, but it’s one amply supported by the available evidence.

Football owners are not, in the nature of these things, the most accountable people in the sport. The ones held to account tend to be the coaches, the visible face of a failing football club’s operation, the men charged with making inadequate resources do the job of competing with better-financed, more realistically-run operations. These men carry the can for the owner’s inadequacies, craziness, parsimony and tendency to be economical with the truth. It’s a thankless task, as Uwe Rosler – with his ominous recent vote of confidence/final warning – may soon find out. But the fans don’t have to accept that the coach is where the buck stops and where the blame resides. Not any more than the courts in Italy or elsewhere have to accept a man’s repeated insistence on his innocence – as more and more charges of tax evasion and other vices pile up.

One way or the other, whether it’s the courts or the fans who finally suss him out, surely even Massimo Cellino cannot continue with his steadfast avoidance of the truth, his plausible blandishments and promises – not in the long term. Not when he’s also taking unpopular decisions such as limiting away tickets on the back of a spat with Sky TV. Not when he appears stubbornly determined to lose Sam Byram for peanuts, having publicly hung the lad out to dry, unable to defend his corner. Not when he’s back in the public gaze since Adam Pearson‘s much-lamented departure, making more crazy statements and more rash promises – most of which, you can well believe, will end up as hollow and worthless as his promise of April last.

A beautiful season? With successive defeats, a winless run at Elland Road stretching back to March and a headlong downward spiral in what is not exactly a vintage Championship league table, it’s not beautiful at all. It’s an ugly pig of a season, a Luke Chadwick or a Gideon Osborne of a season, even a Katie Hopkins of a season. Any common or garden fan can certainly see that, it’s as obvious as weather through a window. And, little by little, the more we keep getting told that everything in the garden is rosy, when we can absolutely see the weeds and the brambles choking the place to death – surely even the die-hard Cellino supporters must be beginning to wonder exactly where Leeds United are heading next, under his bizarre and deceitful direction.

Bottom line, ladies, gentlemen and fellow Whites? We should have listened to Johnny Giles.