Monthly Archives: November 2016

Monk’s Anger Should Ensure Feisty Leeds Display at Liverpool – by Rob Atkinson

odemwingie

Odemwingie: Who, Ref? Me, Ref?

Rotherham United 1, Leeds United 2

Garry Monk was naturally pleased with three vital points at the expense of a fired-up Rotherham United side – but he was clearly not a happy bunny after the final whistle, and you could see why. Leeds United, two up at half time and facing a depleted home side, after a senseless act of thuggery by Millers madman Peter Odemwingie brought him a well-deserved red card, should have been able to engage cruise control and ease to a comfortable three or four goal win. Instead, they allowed the complacency they’d been warned against during half time to creep into their play – and they came within one skied close-range finish of dropping two precious Championship points.

Such are the wrinkles Monk is doing his best to iron out of this Leeds United squad, and you have to say that there has been obvious progress within what he continually refers to as a young group. It’s live and learn as much as sink or swim in second-tier league football and, if the group can learn something from such a laissez-faire second-half display and still get away with a victory, then it’s been a good day after all. The record books will show that goals from Chris Wood and Souleymane Doukara were enough to see Rotherham off, despite Richard Wood’s late effort which only just beat an acrobatic Rob Green. At the end of the day, Brian, it’s all about results.

Still, Monk’s post-match demeanour left nobody in any doubt that the paint had just been blistered off the away team dressing room walls; the young group had been treated to a savage analysis of their shortcomings that, we can but hope, will lead to rather more focus over the next few games. That focus will be sorely needed for the stern tests that lie in wait for United; first at Anfield in the EFL Cup quarter-final, and then rather more importantly in massive league games against Aston Villa and high-flying Brighton and Reading outfits. If Leeds can emerge from that little lot with an honourable exit from the Cup and six or seven more league points safely banked – well, there won’t be too many glum faces around Elland Road.

If Garry Monk really is the real deal at this level – and there seems no valid reason so far to doubt that – then he will be adept at the art of dealing with matters in-house and by the judicious use of both stick and carrot as the occasion demands. All great managers, together with those aspiring to greatness, have had the common sense to know that sometimes an arm needs to go around the demoralised shoulder – and other times a boot needs applying to the relevant backsides. Young teams will wax and wane, it’s part of the process of becoming battle-hardened and consistently effective. Today, some of Leeds United’s players were found wanting – and got away with it. But it must not happen again.

On Tuesday night at Anfield, there will be nowhere to hide – and the eleven men in United shirts must have the message of what is expected ringing loudly in their ears. Whatever kind of side Liverpool put out, a display of the sort we suffered through in the second half at Rotherham will leave us needing an abacus to keep the Reds score, and headache pills for afterwards. The important thing today was the win and the three points – but if we were to gain the bonus of improved displays over the important games coming up from whatever bollocking was delivered in the dressing room – then today will have been doubly productive.

There are testing times ahead but, as the ancient scholar said, it’s a case of “per ardua ad astra” – through hardship, we can reach the stars. It would take a stellar performance at Anfield to survive another stage of the EFL Cup, and league points will be hard to come by over the next few league games; still, with the right proportions of carrot and stick from our bright young manager, you just never know.

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Neil Redfearn’s Sensational Exposé of Life at Cellino’s Leeds United   –   by Rob Atkinson


Every Leeds United fan should click this link, and read for themselves former United coach Neil Redfearn‘s sensational insider view of life at Elland Road and Thorp Arch under Massimo Cellino. Just click the link and try if you can to take it all in – freelance journalist Simon Austin has obtained the most telling exposé of the Cellino regime, from an honest pro and lifelong Leeds fan. It’s incredible stuff and compulsive reading.

I hope anybody who reads this will share with this blog their views on what Redfearn has said. I believe it’s the most shattering indictment yet of Cellino’s reign at Leeds, making an unarguable case for the club to be rid of this malign influence as soon as possible.

Timely Reality Check for Leeds as Newcastle Cruise to Win   –   by Rob Atkinson

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Leeds United 0, Newcastle United 2

We saw this game coming from a long way off, thanks to the international break that followed the last-gasp win at Norwich. From that high point, it seemed reasonable to look forward to scaling even greater peaks. A win over the Geordies would have seen Leeds United at a dizzy fourth in the league, well into nosebleed territory. As it is, a defeat means we remain seventh; probably a realistic benchmark for this Leeds side’s place in the Championship scheme of things.

So, after a good run, we’ve had our reality check and been put in our place – yet Leeds were by no means disgraced and, for large parts of the game, they gave pretty nearly as good as they got. In the important areas of the pitch, though, Newcastle were superior – and they plainly knew it. The confidence with which they approached the game, the relative ease with which they kept Leeds at arm’s length – all of this told us that here was a side well aware they weren’t top without reason. For all that, it took a goalkeeping howler and one moment of top flight class to make the difference on the field show in the scoreline. Leeds had their moments at the other end, but there can be no doubt that Newcastle fully merited this victory. 

Leeds will take plenty from this moving forward. There were lessons for youngsters like Vieira and Phillips as well as some of the older heads in the team. The glaring truth of the matter is that Newcastle had a sub on the bench who, at £30m, cost several times the price of the entire Whites squad. As a work in progress, Leeds are several laps behind a Newcastle outfit that must still be hanging its head in shame to be in this league at all. Benitez arrived too late to save the club from its own mistakes last season, but arguably the wrong north-eastern club got relegated. Now, under proper management and a revamped squad, the Geordies are a Premier League force in all but name.

A week to regroup now, and Leeds must be ready for a trip to Rotherham, armed with a determination to embark on another run of success. They will be without the talismanic Pontus Jansson, whose intemperate outburst to the ref tipped him over the suspension threshold. That’s a pity, but nevertheless, United have to get their act together for a battle against the lowly Millers, who will be keen to rub salt in this week’s wounds.

It was a chastening experience today, but no real surprise. Newcastle are the real deal, and they showed it – not in any shimmering brilliance, apart from that one decisive moment, but in their confident approach and efficient game management. But Leeds did OK in defeat; they will play worse this season and win – indeed, they already have. There’s still a long way to go, and United can still look ahead confidently. After all, you don’t meet a team like Newcastle every week.

FA in “Go Quietly” Deal With Leeds Owner Cellino? – by Rob Atkinson

CellinoLiar

Massimo Cellino – too quiet

It’s long been a case around Elland Road of “All quiet on the Cellino front”. And not just every now and then quiet, while il Loco recharges his batteries for more damaging nuttiness. It’s been just too quiet for anything like our insane normality. It’s just not like Leeds United‘s maverick owner to keep this schtum for this long. It’s been that eerily quiet that the team have even started to do quite well. Extraordinary. Something is going on. But what?

A significant factor may be the outcome of the “third party” transfer agent charges that were hanging over both club and Massimo Cellino himself for so long. It would seem that a verdict was arrived at some time ago, but nothing has been forthcoming from the Football Association, who have described the issue as “sensitive”. And then there is the vexed question of a takeover – yes, TOMA time again. But there really does appear to be something in it on this occasion. The club has confined itself to a terse “no comment” position, but Twitter is alight with rumours of a peculiarly consistent nature. On both the FA charges front, and in the area of TOMA, something’s most definitely afoot.

For what it’s worth (and if I were a braver betting man, I’d have picked up £12 million this week, from a £5 acca on Leicester City, Brexit and Trump) I believe the signals are pointing firmly towards some agreement between Cellino, the inward investors/new owners (whoever they are) and the FA, to sort out the Leeds ownership and third party charges situation quietly, with as little fuss as possible and with everybody concerned keeping it buttoned until matters are concluded. If that appears to make an unusual amount of sense given the craziness of all parties involved, then I can only agree it’s so. But sometimes, even nutters will conduct themselves with a certain amount of sanity and decorum, if that’s the best way of getting the job done and limiting damage in “sensitive areas”.

This blog is of the firm opinion, having sniffed the wind, tested the water and cast the runes, that the current silence is of the kind that might be characterised by a paddling duck: all calm and serenity on the surface, while there is frantic activity just beneath. Leeds United is saying nowt in public. The FA is maintaining a grim silence. Prospective investors/buyers are clinging steadfastly to their incognito bona fides. Nobody is saying a dicky bird to us, the fans.

But you can take it to the bank that they’re all talking to each other, and out of this a conclusion will shortly emerge; hopefully one to satisfy all parties. That’s my educated guess. Before too long, Leeds will be under new stewardship, the FA will be rid of a thorn in their side – and Cellino will have a new toy to play with, probably from Serie B.

As Del Boy might have said: “You know it makes sense“.

 

Donald Trump Confirms US/UK Special Relationship With Leeds United Buyout   –   by Rob Atkinson


In his first act following his shock US Election victory, President Elect Donald Trump has revealed that, in an early effort to strengthen links between the USA and Great Britain, he is in advanced talks with Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino for a total buyout of the Elland Road club. 

Mr. Cellino refused to answer questions about the takeover this morning, saying only: “You think you no find owner madder than Big Mass, hey? Ha! Va’ fa Napoli!!” A spokesman for Mr. Trump, however, was more forthcoming, stating that the deal was imminent and that the terms included the appointment of Cellino as Attorney General in the initial Trump administration. 

Early indications are that Trump plans to develop the Elland Road stadium as a matter of priority, with the building of two or three skyscrapers on the site of the existing West Stand, as well as a wall around the LS11 postal code, to be paid for by the local Mexican Taco Takeaway franchise.

Current team boss Garry Monk was unconcerned by the change in ownership, advising that it would be “business as usual”. Rumours that the grass banking in the West Stand car park is to be referred to henceforth as a “grassy knoll” have neither been confirmed nor denied.

President Elect Trump himself said that he’d had a tiring week, that he was exultant over the greatest achievement of his life, and that all his thoughts and efforts were now concentrated on beating Newcastle United and Liverpool.

January Could Be A Very Exciting Month for Leeds Utd Fans – by Rob Atkinson

Elland Road

Elland Road awaits a brighter future

It’s never wise to pay too much attention to rumour mills, as they do tend to churn out conflicting stories – just in the interests of keeping those speculative wheels grinding away and earning revenue. Sometimes, though, there’s that enticing morsel of consistency in what you’re hearing – and that’s when you start to take some notice, because there’s a general and possibly meaningful trend in the tone and content of what you might normally dismiss as mere flim-flam and tabloid fodder.

Such is the case right now with Leeds United. And it’s not just the relative consistency of the rumours, it’s also a new feeling about the way things are going at Elland Road; one that might just herald the end of the old order, ushering in something new and – if we can dare for a moment perchance to dream – positive. Until a few weeks ago, that word positive would have seemed rather incongruous as applied to our beloved club – but, recently, there’s been little alternative other than to resort to such an unlikely description of the feeling and atmosphere in and around Yorkshire‘s Number One club. Results, performances, things the players have been saying, the way the management team have been quietly and serenely getting on with their jobs – all have justified repeated use of the P-word. It’s a little odd and unfamiliar but, oh brother, does it feel good.

Taking the concrete facts first, we have in the relatively recent past seen a novel solidity in our defence, courtesy of Messrs. Bartley and Jansson above all, that has spread confidence further forward in the team, leading to all-round better displays. We’ve seen some highly competent performances in matches we’d certainly have struggled with in previous seasons, and we’ve put together a run of form that puts us in the top three teams in the division over the past ten games. Furthermore, we’ve progressed to a domestic cup quarter-final, where we’ll renew hostilities with that old friend and foe from Anfield, Liverpool. That’s such an iconic fixture for English football, and its one-off reappearance will whet the appetites of many for a return of Leeds United to the top flight. We have a sell-out home clash with Newcastle to look forward to, as well as a double header with another formerly big club in Aston Villa. Things are, in brief, looking up.

The rumour side of things is, as ever, more problematic. But, as mentioned earlier, there is a certain unanimity in the whispers emanating from various sources, with more and more reliable journalists, as well as some Sun “writers”, agreeing that a deal to sell a stake in the club to Italian sports rights mogul Andrea Radrizzani is more or less imminent. This takes place against a background of the FA having apparently made a decision over current owner Massimo Cellino‘s latest alleged flouting of the rules, although there is some delay in announcing that decision. The man himself, meanwhile, has been as quiet as a severed horse’s head on a pillow, which does not conform to his usual manner at all. It must all add up to something – but what?

It’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that quite a few people out there are in the know, but subject to some sort of embargo in which the FA may well be instrumental. The whole Leeds situation, particularly in connection with this third-party agent case, is described as “sensitive”. You get the feeling that, behind the wall of silence, there is plenty of loud stuff going on. Meanwhile, the football end of the club has been able to function perfectly well, thank you – almost as if it had not a care in the world. Do they know something good that we don’t, these football people? Time will tell.

If Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything might be permitted to don its Nostradamus hat for a moment, then I think it’s fair to say that all of the above factors, when taken all round, add up to the inescapable conclusion that something big has been brewing for a while now – and that it might just be about to come to a boil. While the playing and coaching staff get on with preparing for the undoubtedly stern challenges that lie in wait in the pre-Christmas period, we might just be able to look a little further ahead, post Festive celebrations, into the New Year – and, if those of us nursing optimistic hopes and dreams are right, it could be a very exciting mid-season transfer window for us all.

With a bit of luck and a lot of very hard work, Leeds United could well be in a challenging position by the turn of the year. If we are – and if the current crop of promising signs bear fruit – then the time and circumstances could be ripe for a bit of a splash in the transfer market to set us up for the run-in and endgame. This blog has a distinct feeling that this is what may come to pass.

Watch this space, fellow MOT-ers. We could be in for a thrill-a-minute ride from January onwards!