32 Years Since Bates’ Vow: Has Leeds Utd Finally Been Destroyed?   –   by Rob Atkinson


BatesEyes

Remember this quote from then Chelsea chairman Ken Bates in 1984, after Leeds United fans had damaged a scoreboard at Stamford Bridge? “I shall not rest until Leeds United are kicked out of the Football League. Their fans are the scum of the Earth, absolute animals and a disgrace. I will do everything in my power to make this happen”. 

These were unequivocal words and, we may now reflect, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, that Bates was not perhaps the wisest choice to make when a vacancy arose for “Saviour of ailing West Yorkshire football club”. In the event, when Uncle Ken finally got his mitts on the club, he oversaw a historic plunge into the third tier, with the sideshows of various legal disputes involving the game’s authorities and others. When United, under Simon Grayson, finally hauled themselves back into the Championship and started to look like feasible contenders for the top flight again, the sales started; the club’s finest players were flogged off and inadequately replaced, most of the proceeds disappearing into a financial black hole, or going to fund vanity projects such as the East Stand refurbishment. Tellingly, the gleaming edifice is known by many Leeds fans to this day as “the Delph Shelf“.

When Ken found the heat in the kitchen too hot, he did not trouble himself overmuch with the need to secure ambitious, committed buyers who would take the club upwards towards its proper place among football’s elite. Instead, we got saddled with GFH, the poorest Middle East finance house in creation, and the unedifying spectacle ensued of more in-fighting, more egomaniac games, even less team investment, with criminal goings-on and jailbird revelations to follow. How glad we all were when they were marginalised and pushed into the background by the arrival of our very own King of Corn, il Duce Massimo Cellino himself. And how disastrously wrong we were to afford him any kind of welcome; we should have chased his taxi southwards out of the city and not stopped until it drove into the English Channel. If things were bad under Bates and worse under GFH, they have become positively farcical under Cellino.

There is no need to go into all the ins and outs of the Cellino regime so far, the broken promises, the lies, the false declarations of intent to sell up. We all know the sorry story all too miserably well. Suffice to say that we have now reached a situation where figures of no great stature in the game are being approached to take nominal charge of team affairs – and are saying “thanks, but no thanks”. And who can blame them? It would take a ridiculously self-confident man, one capable of the most exquisite degree of self-delusion, to willingly give himself up on the sacrificial altar of working for Cellino. The lessons of the last couple of years are starkly clear – taking the hot-seat at Elland Road is a shortcut to professional suicide. It’s a no-win situation that has left a trail of shattered reputations in its wake.

Meanwhile, the man who can accurately boast the best Leeds United managerial record since the heady days of Simon Grayson is being treated scandalously, with zero respect. Steve Evans has been left disgracefully unenlightened about his future, despite vague promises and inconclusive meetings, to watch the position he still currently occupies being hawked around any Tom, Dick or Harry who might yet be daft enough to be seduced by the name of Leeds United. Nobody of any common sense or professional pride will touch this job, though, surely. Nobody with his head screwed on properly wants to work with a lunatic.

The only real candidate is the man currently in possession, the man who knows the score, who is already committed to the task, who has done well and has won over many doubters, all while losing a medically worrying amount of weight. You couldn’t blame him for giving in to the hurt, salvaging his dignity and walking away. But Steve Evans wants to keep his job, he “gets” Leeds United and he has a burning desire to succeed, as he has undeniably done elsewhere. Yet the idiot in charge seems to have turned away from this man who has won the grudging respect of some of the most cynical of the fans – Cellino just lacks the guts, class and decency to come out and say so.

The football club’s dirty linen is being washed in public while the sporting world looks on and laughs. The manager of MK Dons turned us down. The Bristol Rovers manager is being courted, but Leeds United have not met that club’s conditions for talking to their employee, who has an improved three year contract on the table, waiting for him to show good sense and sign. It’s all going on, dreadfully humiliating and utterly cringeworthy, in the full glare of media and rival fan attention, while the long-suffering fans of Leeds United bow their heads, wondering how much worse things can get.

In 1984, Leeds United had good times ahead of them, they had chances even to establish a dynastic power at the top of the game – and they certainly put silverware on the table that we could never have imagined in that Orwellian, second division year of ill omen, when some freelance demolition contractors from West Yorkshire did a number on Ken’s scoreboard. But the Curse of Bates had been pronounced and, all this time later, you really do have to ask yourself: will he end up with his spiteful wish fulfilled? He paved the way towards the slippery slope we’re now descending like a greased pig. Rudderless, with no clear plan, with little if any communication between club and fans, miles behind other clubs already planning for next season – and with professional football men seemingly unwilling to touch us with a bargepole – we may well be about to plunge yet again into the abyss.

If that happens, we might despairingly look back to Bates’ words in 1984, we might ponder on his potless and clueless successors in the Elland Road boardroom since his own departure – and we might say to ourselves: well, he warned us, did Ken. And it looks as though he’s got his way after all. And what would Ken Bates say to that?

Perhaps: “Revenge is a dish best served cold”.

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53 responses to “32 Years Since Bates’ Vow: Has Leeds Utd Finally Been Destroyed?   –   by Rob Atkinson

  1. Maybe we should just pack it in, all chip in start Leeds City 2016, start from the bottom league and sod them all?

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    • Not so long back, I’d have said “counsel of despair”. Now, it sounds like common sense and a necessary project.

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    • agreed, its occurred to me too, a fresh start
      One of the biggest issues we have is attracting buyers (even Bradford have new owners now) but Leeds quoted at 60 mill for 70 odd % of the club so what , the best part of 100 mill when you consider GFH price + their 10 million debt…………….for a club with no stadium and its best players running their contracts down

      150 million to get the club firing on all cylinders ?? How many millionaires would do that ? Its the kind of investment that only a rich fan would consider

      Truthfully LFU (whats left of it) and their millionaire contacts are the only feasible alternative

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      • It always bugs me because, even stripped of physical assets, Leeds United is a massive brand. To someone of vast wealth, all they can really aspire to is increased notoriety and a place in history. But there are thousands out there in just that position, and Leeds United is the golden key. By all logic, they are one of the last real jewels still to be snapped up by a mega-wealthy person who wants to sit at the same table as Abramovich, Mansoor etc etc. It SHOULD happen – so why doesn’t it??

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    • DavidMcNiven at the death

      Agreed, have been saying this for some years. Would have been much better to have gone altogether and set up a newco. Like Rangers, we’d be back at the top table by now. I fear i will never see the club in the top division again in my lifetime

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  2. Reality Cheque

    Spot on Rob! A very accurate summary of our recent history and the current shambles of a football club that we have become on Cellino’s watch in the full glare of the media and publicity spotlight.

    Just one note of optimism though Rob, because at long last Cellino has been found out for what he is and what he does to every one of his employees. As he scours the lower leagues for his next potential victim EVERYONE with an ounce of common sense is running a mile to avoid being associated with Cellino’s madhouse.

    At last, it is becoming clear that football managers do actually speak to one another and seek one another’s counsel having paid attention to the scandalous headlines surrounding Cellino’s treatment of every single one of his employees and the army of loyal supporters.

    I have seen one website reporting that Ian Holloway is on Cellino’s wish list for the next victim, sorry, next head coach!! Just imagine the conversations between them two and their battle to be top gun under the media spotlight!

    Sadly, Rob after supporting Leeds United for over 48 years, I just cannot get excited about anything to do with Leeds United at the moment after so many false dawns and the club being turned into a total shambles in the full gaze of the media and rival fans.

    Cellino must be the biggest laughing stock in professional football, business and legal circles and yet he still continues to make an absolute mockery of OUR football club!

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    • That “not getting excited” thing strikes a chord – regrettably, it’s how I feel too now. Which is tragic when I think how I used to feel about the club and look forward to every game. I was like a kid just before Christmas, well into my 40s. These bastards have robbed us of more than you could have foretold.

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  3. I’ll never forgive krasner for selling the club to that piece of scum. It would seem that the baton keeps getting passed on and it wouldn’t surprise me if they were all members of the same lodge,the knights of Malta or another bunch of satanist arseholes. Bates must be a canny age now so he wont have long left hopefully and Cellino smokes like a chimney so they’ll soon be facing jahbahlun soon with any luck. Lets not forget those limpets gfh though,they need to be removed also. Cant wait for Darrell Clarke to take charge though. At first I thought ” Darrell who?” Then I thought ” not THE Darrell Clarke who played for Hartlepool?” The only bright spot is Evans departure.

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  4. sniffersshorts

    gypsy piss curse we never paid her either , cant blame whats come after entirely on Bates and co, I was talking to a chap , believe this if you will a Leeds man born and bred on the phone the other day, I nearly chocked when he told me he followed that scum across the Pennines ……. he did come up with a relevant point however. The area is consumed by very very rich Jewish people, he said if they had the good sense to club together they could rid us of this regime for good, I bet Mr Silver has turned a few times. Trouble is those of us that lived the Glory years pine for those times , and it isn’t coming soon enough , will it ever come in our lifetime. Rangers have done it from low down and so have Portsmouth. Trouble is this man will not sell up to the like of us fans how the hell are we gonna stump up 30 million between us. All we can do is have a good moan all close season, and all the new season again its getting very depressing …… but not as depressing as following the Scum what a scab …. most of us will be MOT next term stand up and be counted WE ARE LEEDS…… And Robert where is this ruddy book you have been promising a good read about the good times will lift all our spirits hic !!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    • Been too bleedin’ depressed to do anything other than whinge in print 😞

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      • Rob you are without doubt the most talented writer on all matters that are Leeds. You have expanded my vocabulary and my mind to different opinions and parts of Leeds history that I would never have known about if it wasn’t for your ‘whinges’. Writing block and general inertia is a fundamental part of being a creative soul. I see it as peaks and troughs [the same as supporting a club over a lifetime] I too suffer from creative inertia and found more recently that i needed to radically change my routines [sleep, food, attitude and locations] in order to get the best out of myself.I do hope you carry on writing as this is clearly your gift [much to the benefit of all of us Leeds fans……Good luck Rob

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      • That’s really most kind, if hardly deserved. Many thanks.

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  5. Boycott. Force a sale.

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    • Excellent notion – impossible in practice to carry people along with it.

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      • DavidMcNiven at the death

        Fall our numbers that’s always been the Achilles Heal of the fanbase – too quiescent, which is quite paradoxical when you think about it. Cellino should be confronted by an empty stadium on day one 2016/17. but there’ll be the usual 22-25,000 there, aiding and abetting his misrule.

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      • True dat. We have a fanbase that sounds militant but acts obedient. Impossible to mobilise them in meaningful numbers.

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  6. The yearning hope, that maybe just maybe thinks might improve is akin to self harming. When Rosler was appointed and key positions were being filled I thought that finally we could be getting our act together. Witness the inevitable decline since then and I believe now more than ever before that we are on little more than life support. The plug will sooner rather than later be pulled.

    The absolute bottom line is that Cellino is more than a law unto himself. He has no redeeming qualities that anyone could appeal to. He doesn’t give a toss about anyone else. Evans is being treated despicably just like others before him. I can’t explain Cellino but the best I can come up with is that he is a narcissistic psychopath.

    I love Leeds Utd so cannot let go but as so many others are realising, there is no hope with this madman in charge. I won’t pay anything to my beloved club whilst he remains and would urge others that this is the only recourse we have.

    If Darrell Clarke has a sole functioning neuron firing in his brain, he’ll decline and stay at his current club which has a bright future.

    LUFC RIP.

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  7. Ropey Wyla

    Excellent article as per usual. Whenever our club treats one of its servants with a lack of respect it always comes back to haunt us. The Steve Evans saga is just the latest in a long line of faux pas that have left our club a laughing stock. This is what happens when long standing enemies, penniless fly by nights and clueless foreigners are allowed to take over English institutions!

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  8. This time last week Sky reported that Villa were in talks regarding a takeover, 3 hours later it was a done deal! What the hell do we have to do?!!

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  9. pete woodthorpe

    The treatment of Steve Evans has been nothing short of shameful by Mr Cellino. All Leeds fans should should show their support for Steve Evans on twitter and facebook so that Mr Cellino is given a clear message that supporters want Steve Evans to remain in charge. The names quoted to replace Steve Evans are not in the same league as him and appointing one of them will be a backward step. Yet another backward step by our chairman. When will he see sense?

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  10. You are right about Steve Evans, to humiliate him in public like this is a disgrace. If he is not wanted, inform him on the last day of the season, and wish him well. Steve Evans only ever showed a total respect for the club and its fans, it is shameful this has not been reciprocated, very bad PR for the club, one of the reasons even third tier coaches are rolling their eyes and politely declining LUFC.

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  11. We could do with those freelance demolition contractors paying il duce a visit next season. The original one ended up hanging by a noose from a lamppost. Am I getting old cos the words back in the day we wouldn’t have stood for all this springs to mind

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    • I believe it was a noose of piano wire. Nice. I suspect you’re right about back in the day, too. If there’s been some piano wire handy in the Adamson Out era, he’d have been a goner.

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  12. Scally Lad

    I can understand your despair, Rob, but I’m a little more optimistic. Clearly, Evans is in the way out, and whilst lots of others in addition to this inept manager need to be given the sack, and Cellino needs to sell up and return to Italy, the best we can hope for in the immediate future is seeing Evans given the boot. The man had his chances. He won barely a third of his matches against largely undistinguished opposition. He does not have Antenucci and Wooten next year (nor likely others). If he lingers, whatever else, with that kind of record, we’re headed for another bottom-of-the-league finish or relegation to League One and matches against the likes of Oxford Utd, Fleetwood, and Bury.

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    • I’d have loved to see what Evans could do with a pre-season behind him and a proper budget. That’s a fair test of a manager. Even hampered as he was, his win percentage was the best since SG. That’s simply fact.

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      • 11 wins from 38 games? One can make statistics do anything and everything. The simple facts are that half of the wins under Evans came when there was absolutely nothing to play for against teams in similar positions. So feel free to put him on a pedestal but he is and was wholly incompetent. He has humiliated himself more than Cellino ever could with his whinging,whining and bogus testimonies from the opposition. And he’s also a convicted fraudster. Good riddance and thank the lord that he didn’t have a pre season or a chance to bring his own players in.

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      • We’re going to disagree on this, which is fine. But the stats and his achievements elsewhere do bear out (IMO, obviously) what I say. He’s shown a good eye for a player too. What we need to be asking ourselves is – are we going to attract better with this slack nutter in charge. And the answer to that is a resounding NO.

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  13. Karl Major

    I just don’t get it, Bristol Rovers have billionaire owners who are building their club up from nothing but LUFC from the biggest one club city in the country have Cellino, the most obnoxious, arrogant, ignorant, skinflint, dishonest, nasty, arsehole I’ve ever heard of. What did we do to deserve this???
    MOT

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  14. Neil Robinson

    What a brilliant, intelligent and insightful level headed analysis. Thank-you Rob Atkinson. I’ve supported Leeds since 1969 from the age of 12 at Elland Road on the Lowfields terraces and still do any where in our stadium, despite everything over the years. . Why…because I love the “Mighty Whites” and I’m proud to say so over the years and you know what for one of the reasons …in my UK and worldwide travels through work and pleasure…our great club Leeds United nearly always provokes a passion of discussion of people of all ages and club allegiances …love, dedication or resentment. I’m not ashamed to say that I often shed tears when the Marching On Together blares out over the Tannoys and passionately sung by our incredibly loyal fans standing alongside my family and friends who have Leeds always at heart. And always will. LUFC Loud and Proud.Neil Robinson.

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  15. Belfast White

    Another excellent article Rob. Hopefully we can have some comfort in 2 things: 1.The nasty curmudgeon is old and so the institution of LUFC will long outlast him. 2.People like him with a lifelong chip on their shoulder tend not to be happy, whatever their circumstances, so here’s hoping…
    Much of our recent history is dreadful, as the last 14 years have been like slow, relentless decline into hopelessness.
    I watched David Haigh’s interview last night. If there is any truth in it and the FA/FL have any integrity they would have to check if Iranian money was used when GFH bought Leeds. If that is true, it is very serious and would need to be dealt with.
    What we need is for MESSimo to become a distressed vendor, in other words he really needs to sell, so there is a realistic price. Hopefully another court case could catch him out well. Also he can’t be happy that seemingly all his family have left Leeds.
    I have also been reading that GFH could be in bother with Bahraini financial authorities because of some of their dubious practices.
    My hope is that a poor possible buyer would learn that to mess Leeds fans about just leads to a world of hassle and trouble. If a good buyer came in with money, integrity and an ambitious plan, they would have the fans on their side. Just the thought of ER full and a good team being roared on brings back great memories and wishful thinking for the future. We have greater potential than 2/3 of the teams in the premiership!!

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  16. Does anyone know whatever happened to that Hammers fan? He could be having a field with all this going on at dear old ER.

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  17. Despair, when describing how you feel about the goings on in a football club, to an outsider may seem a tad over the top. But when you factor in the input our fans have put in over the years and what we have been forced to put up with recently, by a succession of lying bastards putting themselves up as caring owners and who’s only agenda was and is lining their pockets off the backs of the fans I think desperation sums the mood up quite well
    I fucking hate what Bates, GFH, Cellino et al have turned our club into and genuinely despair for the future, if only we could get an owner who understands the history, buys into the idea that our club can be brought back from abyss,,puts the effort and resources in, the fans would do their bit I’m sure, get Elland Rd rocking again instead of the mortuary it’s turning into, hopefully in my lifetime

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  18. All you guys baying for Evans blood are gonna be crying in their boots next season. If you thought for one minute that he would take us to the playoffs with the squad we have you must be bloody stupid. Cellino likes to do his shopping in charity shops, second rate goods bought for a pittance in the hope you might just find a gem. Pathetic.
    You don’t even have the decency to give him time to find his own players and judge him on that. You talk about him in the same language you slagged off Hockaday, which is a rotten insult.
    So let’s see which poor sod ends up here next season. Let’s see just how many “quality” players we sign. Let’s see if the likes of Cook and Taylor are not peddled out of the door. Let’s see how many lousy, stinking games we throw away before you same lot are baying for blood again. No doubt you will boo and slag of the coach and team as usual whilst the REAL culprit, the REAL incompetent bafoon just carries on as normal. Talk about stability, some of you couldn’t even spell it. Another top article Rob.

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    • Cheers, Popeye, for the kind words and the sound common sense. MOT

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    • Perhaps if Popeye actually attended games he’d realise how clueless the poster boy for wagon wheels actually is. Its glaringly obvious that Cellino isn’t all there and his choice of coach reflects that. The few supporters of Evans are defending the indefensible,not only is he an appalling coach,he’s a deeply unpleasant man also. When he got caught with his fingers in the till at Boston,he cried his eyes out begging not to go to prison as it would “kill him”. Now all you people who call Cellino a crook and a liar in one breath and laud the magnificent job Evans has done ( in your imaginations) really need to think before you post,or risk looking like hypocrites. I’m confident we’ll have a new owner soon but the stumbling block will be the other parasite gfh. There will be plenty of suitors but who would want to buy only 75% of the club? Oh and the good news is that Cameron is stepping down next month ( south African arms dealing).

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      • Yeah, I think we all get it that you have a problem with Evans. Wanking on about it every time anyone says anything different doesn’t make you right, and the guy has more than a few supporters – it’s bollocks to suggest otherwise.

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  19. Ken Bates would simply make that grimace he calls a smile, revealing his immaculate dental hygiene before bursting into a rousing rendition of “Blue is the colour, football is the game”.

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  20. Oh pardon me for not “wanking on”about what a brilliant blogger you are like half the people that post on here. I’m all in favour of the Cellino out campaign but I also believe we deserve a lot better in the coaching department too. Anyway,I’ll let you prepare your next blog so you can “wank on” about man united and millwall for the umpteenth time. Yawn.

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  21. I know,I’ll give you your due though. I didn’t think you’d post my last comment. Nice one.

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    • You’re a regular, your bona fides are well established and I appreciate that. It’s only the one-off, let’s have a pop merchants and the known trolls that get binned.

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  22. David Dean

    Rob, I am “coming a bit late to the party” to quote an often used phrase of Steve Evans but I have been motivated to throw in my two penneth by your, as usual, very excellent article and also by all the great comments made your readers.

    ‘ Once upon a time, a long,long time ago, in a land far,far away, lived a very strange man called Brian. He was so strange and said such stupid things that he was greatly disliked by all the people in Leeds’.

    On the famous Clough / Revie interview after his sacking, Clough – I won’t call him “Brian” because he calls Don – “Revie” – said a lot of very interesting things. They both did that night and towards the end of the interview having discussed things reasonably calmly they started to warm to each other – “ever so slightly”. Clough said in reply to Don’s criticism of his ‘style’ of management – “95% or 99% of management is the same”. He is 100% right and proved it with what he did after being sacked. Clough and Revie were like chalk and cheese and yet both achieved greatness as managers. Clough did it twice and Revie would have done if he had been given another chance. Don’s players loved him and did what he said. Clough’s players loved him and did what he said. When Leeds played Burnley away during the 44 days I was stood on the terraces. Unbelievable though it is to think it possible I talked to John McGovern on the terraces- Clough had just signed him for Leeds. I asked him what he thought of Clough and he came out with the proverbial – ” I would run through a brick wall for him”. My point is that we have already had three decent managers under Cellino – all with similar qualities to those who are touted for the job in the media – all have similar credentials. Redders deserved at least a season to prove if he was good enough to challenge for the top six. I believe with backing he was capable and would have achieved at least challenging for top 6 within 2 full seasons. Rosler and Evans also have the same kind of skills, qualifications, knowledge and ability and charisma to do the job. We have seen the joke about Cellino having manager’s names in the hat and picking them like that. He may as well do – with 18 championship managers sacked this season aren’t all clubs doing the same?

    I said I would renew my 3 season tickets if Evans is kept on. I will still do that because fortunately I can afford to do it. I feel so sorry for the many season ticket holders who don’t find it so easy to buy the tickets on a whim. I had three season tickets last season. My 10 year old grandson only used his ticket twice – can you blame him? As a consequence his dad could hardly come to the matches and I went on my own until I could stand it no more. I will take the risk again of wasting my money if Evans is kept on. We all know he will be sacked 2 months into the season but to be fair I knew he was going to be sacked by last Christmas, and I think most of the supporters did too. ‘All we are saying is give Evans chance’ – love him or loathe him he has a head start on anyone one else that might be given the job. He knows the club, he is very respectful of Cellino, the players like him and WE deserve that he is given the chance. MOT – “touching di breast”

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  23. Bates broke us financially (by asset stripping everything of value) (but the fans stood strong e.g. -15 points), GFH put us back into debt (but the fans stood strong), Cellino has done what no-one else has done and that is break the will of the fans. I have witnessed more infighting amongst fans this season than any other season I can remember in 33 years of supporting Leeds. I have never been this disillusioned with the club that manages to “mostly” upset most weekends with their performances.The one “glue” that held this club together is the fans and this is the final nail in the coffin delivered with a smile, a pint in the pub and a jamming session with his guitar – Cellino is a master at PR and many have swallowed it hook, line & sinker. Even this comment will divide fans. For the record I can’t stand Evans and even I feel sorry for him! By the way, remember when Cellino PUBLICLY said he couldn’t work with an English manager? That seems conveniently forgotten as he scours the land of the low leagues to find an idiot stupid enough to take on this job.

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  24. I blame Blackwell ! Bates gave him Healy, Hulse, Cresswell and Blake – and we had a better defence then than under Simon Grayson. Bates seems also not to blame for SG not taking us up from a winning position around Xmas – that was down to recruiting ‘mid-field rookies’ to back up Kilkenny et al, instead of more seasoned players in the mid season transfer/loan window. Failing to make better use of McCormack must also go down as a blunder. Following which Bates reverted to less fallible inorganic material.

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  25. Turned down by two, third tier managers. This is where Bates, Cellino and co have placed our club. The debacle of the latest years is all down to club management and with the latest we have the prize clown in Mr C. It is all so sad. Last year I made the decision, not a penny more to my beloved club until this clown was out. If I hear Lorimer reeling out one more excuse I think I’ll be permanently sick. Evans has his faults but no employee who did a half decent job with limited resources deserves this treatment and it appears that other managers are finally manning up by saying that this job is really not worth it. Who can blame them for no wanting to be treated like shit.
    We are hearing all the same tired old platitudes this year from Mr C, all to reel in the gullible to renew season tickets, but I wonder when it all goes tits up will we see the small claims court full of cases trying to get the promised money back after we drift to then end of yet another season of dross.
    I’m sorry, but I am sad and pained that this club, our club, is no longer Leeds United. The only vestige of a once great organization is the support and that is drifting close to the edge too I fear. How can I convince a new generation of my family to support this club when it as it is currently managed it represents everything I hate? Sod the lot and lets have a new club, we can start that by cutting off the cash!

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