Leicester City, the Example That Puts Cellino’s Leeds Utd to Shame   –   by Rob Atkinson


Today or tomorrow, this week or next week, sometime soon, anyway – Leicester City will become Champions of England. Premier League Title winners and Champions League top seeds. Read, mark and inwardly digest. It could have been, perhaps should have been Leeds United.

Leicester’s fantastic achievement is the explosion of the theory of an “Elite Cartel”. They’ve simply ripped up the rule book and imposed themselves irresistibly on a League that regarded them merely as cannon fodder. What the Foxes are doing self-evidently could be done by any club of reasonable size and support, properly run and adequately funded. There is no better proof that something can be done, than going out there and doing it.

All of which begs the question: why have Leeds United so shamefully under-achieved in the six years since escaping League One? The Whites’ track record in that time pales in comparison, not only to champions-elect Leicester, but also Southampton and Swansea City (who, as I write, are taking Liverpool to the cleaners). This trinity of clubs, reborn and reinfused with competitive vigour, are all considerably smaller than Leeds and lack anything like a comparable tradition or pedigree. All of them were fellow strugglers along with us in our third-tier lowest ebb. All are living proof of United’s utter and culpable failure since 2010. 

That’s the significant year, really. Prior to that, we’d been almost a decade in intensive care, a chronically ill football club doing its best to regain some sort of health. That was achieved, despite the dodgiest of ownerships – and the FA Cup victory over Man U, together with a scrambled promotion back to the second level, could and should have created a platform from which to build a bright future. That it didn’t is our tragedy, but there are no excuses. Again, look at where three smaller clubs are now, clubs that shared our League One doldrums with us. Their example puts Leeds United to shame.

Whatever the Cellino apologists might say – and they’re as stubborn a bunch as I’ve ever come across outside of a field of donkeys – it’s very difficult, surely, for them to argue he’s been any sort of success when you see what’s been achievable elsewhere, and at clubs with far less potential. Perhaps – just perhaps – making and breaking promises, serially hiring and firing managers, interfering in team affairs, insulting the support base, treating staff abominably with sexist attitudes and a desire to humiliate professional football people by making them clean up around the place – perhaps all of this isn’t the way to carry on after all? It’s just a thought.

Maybe this is at the root of why we’re where we currently are while our former League One rivals are comfortably established in the Premier League – with one of them poised to become Champions. It could so easily have been us – and that’s not just glib wishful thinking. Hard work, a professional setup, enlightened ownership – all that old-fashioned stuff – they’re why Leicester are now on the edge of a miracle of historic proportions. Instead of which, the day after we lost at home to a team already relegated from the Championship, we have to look upwards and crane our necks to see the success of others.

Good luck to Leicester City, I’m genuinely pleased for them. I have my memories of 24 years ago, and I know – as so many of us will – exactly how those Foxes fans will be feeling right now. But I just can’t help wishing that it was us again; with the frustration kicking in hard when it’s so clear that it could – and perhaps should – have been.

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42 responses to “Leicester City, the Example That Puts Cellino’s Leeds Utd to Shame   –   by Rob Atkinson

  1. I went to a sportsman’s dinner last night rob and the guest speakers were Eddie gray and Peter lorimer , both told some great stories from back in the day and when Questions were asked about the tenure of cellino they were both in agreement that he will splash the cash this summer…

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    • I think he has to, Mr. O – not that I’d trust him to, especially if he says he will. There’s a last chance saloon for everybody, after all. But it rankles that we’ve wasted six years. When Leicester lift the PL Trophy – think on. It could have been us.

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    • I am sure you are right – he’ll be out of pocket otherwise. But who will be identifying the players ? Presumably Cellino (and whoever he talks with) himself. And the Manager ? – by his too frequent changes, Cellino’s made that a virtually unwinnable call. Stability dictates the incumbent who, by his own admission though, has made mistakes in selection and tactics, now reaching critical proportions. But dare Cellino change Manager ? Is there a Ranieri equivalent out there that could convince us that he does after all know what he is doing ? By all accounts – as if we don’t have enough accounting already – we’ll know very soon.

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      • Nigel Pearson mate. Its largely his team sitting on top of the league. Credit also to Claudio of course. If Cellino can for once do the right thing and appoint Pearson ten we can forget lame ambitions for the play offs and aim for first or second place. A goal scorer or two and a couple of centre backs may help too.

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      • I really rate Pearson. Sadly, he’s probably far too wise to work for a nutter like Cellino.

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  2. Rob, thank you for putting into words, as eloquently as ever, what all Leeds fans (even the Cellino catamites) are thinking… ‘Here’s to a Foxes victory today!

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  3. we dream and dream and dream, but our”s seem to turn into night mares ,steve needs to no !!!! we need to no !!! cellino needs to come clean about our club,,,,? will he spend,,,, will he sell,,,as all ways we will be mot living in hope

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  4. Scally Lad

    Hopeful thinking – but where’s the evidence that Cellino has (or is willing) to “splash the cash” in the off-season? What was his record at Cagliari Calcio? When did he drive them with bold expenditures to the top of the Serie A? In any case, haven’t Leicester City – amongst other successful sides – proven that cash is no major factor in building triumphant sides? Man Utd, the richest team in world football, aren’t even going to make Champions League next year.

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  5. Sensational Rob
    Destroyed by Bates and GFH, the wretched fraudster Cellino has continued and extenuated the decline.
    The sucessful clubs in every division are well run, have a plan, keep their good staff off the pitch and create an infrastructure which allows the important on field performance to thrive.
    Cellino is not capable of putting any of this together, indeed the wonderful staff he has let go shows a complete disregard for building anything other than Armageddon.
    ‘The fish stinks from the head’ is an old Turkish mantra!
    Ours CERTAINLY does!!!

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  6. Rob it might be before your began your journey into a life of supporting Leeds United – but in 1964/5 a certain club from Yorkshire finished second (on goal difference) to Man U – what was significant was that it was that club’s first season in the “old” First Divsion. Leeds United then had no history of success at all. No cup finals to brag about (Leicester have been runners-up I think in four FACup finals)- so in many ways the rise of Leeds United was even more astonishing than what Leicester are currently achieving. But in the mid sixties there was no internet, no globalisation of football, no ultra rich footballers. That Leeds United went on to win a couple of League titles, an FA cup final an Inter Cities Fairs Cup final and runners up so many times in First Division, FA Cup, Euro Cup Winners and Euro Cup finals that several “make believe”movies could never really properly portray that it really did happen.
    What Leicester are currently doing is a fairytale because of the current football domination of the mega-rich football clubs. The story fits because it is not suppose to happen. I sincerely hope Leicester win tonight (OZ timeline) – especially at the Theatre of Wet Dreams. Alas the story of Leeds United has gone from the hated “dirty Leeds” to the Risdale “fish bowl” to the Bates, GFH and Cellino laughing stock.
    As an elder person I think about the history of Leeds United. Why the near misses so often and why so many times in tragic or even comical circumstances. Risdale could have been a genius if O’Leary’s team had stayed in the Champions League position. Twelve years with EPL money rather than two bankruptcy and a million point deductions would now see Leeds United one of the richest clubs in the world.
    Am I bitter – a little – am i disillusioned- a little. Do I still think about Leeds United everyday. You bet. Am I jealous of the Leicester hyperbole. You bet. Would I like Leicester to win the EPL at Old Trafford. You bet.
    Do i dream of a Leeds United resurection- you bet.
    Yes I like so many remain a Leeds United tragic!

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    • Wonderful stuff Mick. I was 3 in 1964, but I know the story and the stats like the back of my hand. MOT

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    • George Burton (Grumpy)

      Have you forgotten Mick? We also lost the FA cup after extra time to Liverpool that same year. How close to glory did we get!!!

      (Grumpy – also an ‘elder person’ and also in Oz)

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      • No I have not forgotten but I was really concentrating on the hype around winning the title by a team coming from nowhere. I was at the 1965 Cup Final and it was there I became hypnotised by the wee number 4 with ginger hair. Every time he touched the ball the Liveroool fans screamed “get it away from him”! Any young prrson watching that match would have felt the same. A pity there was not the global attention available at that time.

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  7. Hi Rob
    Really enjoyed your article, as I always do. Like many on here, I read your words with a mix of genuine happiness and joy for the Foxes; but also the frustration of time and opportunities wasted.
    It’s one thing to reflect on players no longer with the club that could (and should) have formed the basis of a highly competitive team – think Howson, Snodgrass, Gradel, Delph, Milner, Schmeichel.
    But as painful has been the sheer stupidity, incompetence and narrow, self-serving interests that has so typified successive regimes at Elland Road. People who have shown little real ability to build a business (or brand); indeed even simple foundations.
    What those clubs have demonstrated (as with any successful business over time) is clear vision, a well-defined and properly resourced strategy that everyone buys into; an absolute and obsessive focus on getting things right at every level; and genuine engagement with supporters as key stakeholders. We all know the potential of our mighty club and fans. They just need the right conditions in which to thrive.

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    • Spot on, Mark. Interesting that a good few of the players you cite, together with Beckford, Becchio et al, served us well in League One. There’s a case to be made for the squad today being barely as good as the one that stumbled over the line for promotion that year. We were in pretty good shape back then really – six years should have seen progress in leaps and bounds. Instead, we’ve stagnated.

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  8. Scally Lad

    Our principal problem is enticing quality players to sign with us. Money is only one issue. We have shown no indication that we are ever going to be anything more than a standard fixture, and mid-table, in the Championship. Players of promise and desire want to sign with a side that shows stability, commitment to players and staff, and ambition for promotion. We have none of that. We are a financial wreck, organizationally unstable, a social dinosaur of embarrassment, fickle with our talent, and comic underachievers. How many quality players can we attract when they see that we even lose at home to the likes of Charlton? Attitude and resolve are needed as much as abundant cash.

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  9. Good point, Rob. The fact that those players served us so well in League One doesn’t mean that they couldn’t have done so at a progressively higher level. Indeed, they’ve proved they exactly that. And look at someone like Vardy. From the obscurity of non-league to EPL and England. Very often those kinds of players have a voracious desire to prove (and improve) themselves). And with the players you mentioned, there would have been precious continuity and a wonderful environment within which to nurture, blood and develop our Academy talent.
    The Great Don established the ‘Leeds Way’. That ethic goes to the heart of our DNA as a truly great club. Right now, we’re still struggling to re-calibrate ourselves and re-establish those roots. Some stability would be a good start.
    Apologies for the ramble…

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  10. Iain Alcorn

    I sincerely hope that Leicester finish the job. I am sick of the same clubls dominating. No club has a god given right to stay at the top. Unfortunately the clubs with the most cash have a major advantage, but Leicester have proved that it is not essential. Teamwork is. Especially a settled team.
    How many times have we fielded the same side in successive matches? I agree that injuries have an effect, but even when there are none, our manager makes changes. Players have not been allowed continuous runs to develope both understanding and form. This is the main reason for the inconsistancies in performance, and is down solely to management.
    I am neither for nor against Cellino, no one knows the problems he really faced and still faces, he has many faults, but l think that he genuinely wants the club to succeed.
    I am sure that much of the bad press is caused by mindless criticism from so called fans with the sole aim to whip up anti Cellino feelings.
    The latest example, Cellinos son comparing HIS OWN hairstile to that of a nazi stormtroopper. Why was that insulting anyone but himself.?
    Yet the furore it created created negative headlines for days.
    Most of Cellinos critism can be centred around his trying to find a manager on the cheap. Fortunately he is quick to to see his mistake, unfortunately he keeps making it. Hopefully he will see the error of his ways, appoint a manager suited to the standing of our club, and give him a long term contract to promote stability.

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    • The definition of insanity is to keep on doing the same thing whilst expecting a different outcome. By that reckoning, Cellino is as mad as a box of frogs.

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    • You’re totally correct in your criticism of Evans mate,but Cellino has dragged this club through the gutter continuing the work of that other lunatic bates. The only consolation is that It could have been a lot worse had Phillip Green bought the club or indeed Frank Lowy. Cellino must go but in the meantime Evans needs to be gone asap. The man is a charlatan who also kept making the same mistakes expecting different outcomes. I am fed up to the back teeth of him telling us how opposing players thought we should have won and how our fans want him to stay blah blah blah. I can envisage the club taking out an injunction to stop him stalking us when he does get pedalled.

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  11. Iain Alcorn

    I could say the same of The anti Cellino mob. They keep persisting with no logical replacement in mind, especially as he seems determined to see it through.
    Surely its better to get behind him and try to influence, than to continuously create the antaganism which only goes to making him more determined, and because they are more vociferous feeds the bad press.

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  12. Iain Alcorn

    Changing his mind does not necessarily mean he lied.
    I repeat if he goes, where is the replacement ? You, and everyone else has no idea what is going on behind the scenes, he may be looking for a sale or partner to buy out GHF Who knows how they have influenced his investment. If l had millions to put into a club, l would think twice if 25% of that investment benefitted GHF.

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    • A minority lean over backwards to make allowances for Cellino and his craziness. Most of us see him as a liability Leeds United would be better off without.

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  13. Iain Alcorn

    I repeat its the manager who chops and changes the team and sets out the tactics. In MY OPINION Cellino provided a squad which should have been good enough to challenge. If a settled team was where it should have been the clamour for Cellino to go would be muted. Apart from the Brighton debacle, we performed well against the top teams. Had we performed as well against the lesser lights we would have been up there challenging. The lack of consistancy is mostly down to an unsettled side, tactics and individual errors.
    No one has come up with an credible alternative to Cellino. The fans buyout with just enough funds to buy him out, and what about GHF, would surely be in financial difficulties rapidly. Remember, even after trimming expenses the club is still in a delicate state, some say losing each week.

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    • You’re fighting hard for your man, but I think you’re struggling.

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    • My 11.55 comment should gave been here under Iain,s 22.53 comment. Don’t know how that happened. Anyway,I wouldn’t pay any heed to any support Evans received on Saturday as that is more out of pity and a reaction against Cellino. I would urge everyone to raise their sights as we’re too big and too good for a Steve Evans.

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      • I totally disagree – but it’s all about opinions. I’d hope that most will see there’s no compelling case for yet another change and yet more instability.

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  14. If Cellino keeps Evans and puts no money up to strengthen the squad we will suffer again because what we have is just not good enough.
    If Evans goes a new coach will have the same tools to do what we failed to do AGAIN unless he invests which to me would be an absolute insult to Evans and another demonstration of just how much a lousy, pathetic guy Cellino is. So, as I see it, he MUST invest no matter who is the coach and just hope to heck the poor sucker gets it right. This is the last season Cellino will see at Leeds United unless we gain automatic promotion or minimum top six finish. Anything less and the fans will turn big style. Sadly, if we did get promoted with the mad Italian in charge I would still feel very uneasy. I have absolutely NO respect for him.

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  15. Iain Alcorn

    Not my man.
    I’ve just kept an open mind. I’ m still waiting for a realistic alternative. Nobody, you included, have presented one. Until there is one, l will continue to keep an open mind, and not be blinkered in critism for the sake of it.
    Unless there is a mega wealthy individual out there who is prepared to come onboard, we could well end up with another GHF. Or heaven forbid Bates. Now there was someone who arguably milked the club dry. Look at the assests he sold, and we saw nothing of the proceeds.
    Offshore ownership, Yorkshire radio, stand developements etc. etc.
    Cellino may be egotistical, but appears to want the best for the club. The previous owners wanted the best for themselves, at the expense of the club.

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  16. Why do people keep assuming that we have a God given right to be in the premier league. Comparing us to Leicester Southampton and Swansea what your forgetting is that they have billionaires backers who have invested heavily and in Leicesters case it’s not been a overnight success now the reason we can’t get any billionaires wanting to buy us is simple we have been left in the shit by previous regimes mainly Ridsdale but bates and gfh haven’t helped why people insist on slagging cellino off is beyond me

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    • To be fair, I think much of the debate is probably beyond you.

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    • Scally Lad

      We may not have a God-given right to play in the Premiership but we are the fourth-largest metropolitan area in England and as such deserve to field at least one team in the Premiership – not in the Championship and League One with the villagers and pub-siders. We have been ill-served this century by being forced from the spotlight we deserve in England as well as amongst Englanders north of the Watford Gap.

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  17. wetherby white

    one of the worst things about our current owner (and there are many things) is that he is a total and complete loser. Every decision he makes is the wrong one, every (self inflicted) court case, he loses. I cannot comprehend how he made any money, did he inherit from hid dad? His sense of judgement appears to be totally wrong – all the time. The sad thing is that from the barking mad appointment of Hockaday, we as fans know it, he just doesn’t and appears incapable of ever learning.

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  18. Nick Coley

    I read somewhere that if a petition gets more than 10000 signatures it will get a response from the government. It if it gets 100000 then it can be debated in the Commons. After today’s news that LUFC have been turned down by the manager of MK Dons and that our hapless owner is now chasing the manager of Bristol Rovers is it not time to set up an online petition to get Cellino out of Elland Road. None of us can stand much more of this debacle.

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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