Monthly Archives: May 2017

Taken 28 Years Ago Today, Leeds Legend Don Revie Was THE Greatest   –   by Rob Atkinson

revieportrait

The Don of Elland Road – 28 years gone, but never forgotten

They say that great players don’t always make great managers, and Bobby Charlton is a stand-out example of that essential truth. His brother Jack, by common consent not anything like the player Bobby was, but ten times the bloke, was by far the more successful manager. Then again – he learned from the best.

And they will twist the argument around to show that average players can make great managers. We’re usually invited by a brainwashed and indoctrinated media to take Alex Ferguson as an example of this; my own choice would be Arsene Wenger, a deeply average player but a highly superior coach, tactician and innovator who made a significant dent in the Man U monopoly of the Premier League – despite the vast off-field advantages of the Salford club. Remember Wenger’s “Invincibles”?

But there are a select few examples of truly great players who went on to be truly great managers – the likes of Busby and Dalglish, for instance – and I will argue passionately to my last breath that the best of the best was Donald George Revie, who died of Motor Neurone Disease 28 years ago today.

Don Revie was an innovative, thinking footballer, the pivot of the famous “Revie Plan” at Manchester City when he was the first to exploit deep-lying centre-forward play to great effect as City hit the heights in the mid to late fifties. He was instrumental in the Wembley defeat of Birmingham City in the FA Cup Final of 1956, and also helped restore English pride after two batterings by Hungary – the Magnificent Magyars having trounced England 6-3 at Wembley and 7-1 in Budapest. Revie’s adapted attacking role helped the National team annihilate Scotland 7-2 and his reputation was made as a selfless team player who was adept at making the ball do the work while team-mates found space as he dropped deep, baffling the defences of the time.

Revie was clearly a thinker, and developed very definite ideas about the game during his playing career, ideas he would later put into practice to devastating effect as a club manager. It is undeniable that, during his thirteen years in charge at Leeds, he elevated them from simply nowhere in the game to its very pinnacle, preaching togetherness and the team ethic above all else. Respected judges within the game have described the football played by Leeds at their peak as unmatched, before or since. In the eyes of many, that Leeds United team were the finest English side ever, a unit of grisly efficiency and teak-hardness yet capable of football which was outstandingly, breathtakingly beautiful, intricate in its conception and build-up, devastating in its effect.

Here is the scale of Revie’s achievement: in an era before the advent of lavish sponsorship and advanced commercial operations, he built a club from the ground upwards – a club with an apathetic support, which had hardly two ha’pennies to rub together, and whose prime asset was a group of raw but promising youngsters. The way that Revie nurtured those youngsters, moulding them into a team of supreme talent and majestic ability, is the stuff of legend. In some cases, he had to ward off the threats of homesickness: a young Billy Bremner was determined to go home to his native Scotland and Revie arranged for his girlfriend to move to Leeds, helping the lad settle down. Sometimes he had to adapt a player from one position to another – Terry Cooper was an indifferent winger who was made into a world-class overlapping full-back. Examples of his inspirational and man-management skills are many; he wrote the modern managerial manual from scratch.

Revie raised almost an entire squad from the junior ranks through to full international status, but he also had an unerring eye for a transfer market bargain. He took Bobby Collins from Everton, and saw the diminutive veteran midfielder produce the best form of his career. He lured a disaffected John Giles from Old Trafford where he was an under-rated performer. Giles swore that he would “haunt” Matt Busby, the manager who let him go, and Revie enabled this vow to be realised, converting Giles to a more central role after the end of Collins’ first team career. Giles and Bremner would form an almost telepathic central midfield partnership for Leeds, carrying all before them over the muddy battlefields of Division One. Revie later described his recruitment of Giles from Man U as “robbery with violence”.

As the sixties wore on, the Don would add Mick Jones and Allan Clarke to his formidable squad while it grew up together in a family atmosphere at Elland Road. Rarely if ever before or since can a manager have been so involved in his team’s welfare and well-being; no mere tracksuit manager this. There would be flowers and chocolates when a player’s girlfriend or wife celebrated a birthday, a listening ear and helping hand whenever problems threatened to affect a man’s form. Revie was a father figure to his players for over a decade, forming a bond of mutual loyalty and respect that still sets the standard for enlightened management today.

Don Revie has been described in scornful terms by the ignorant, as a dossier-obsessed and over-superstitious manager, then again as a coaching genius by some people of insight and judgement, and as simply the best by his players who still survive from that amazing period of Leeds United’s dominance at home and abroad. He was perhaps too reliant on lucky suits and the lifting of gypsy curses, and other such supernatural preoccupations. He could maybe have let his team “off the leash” a little earlier than he did – when given full rein, they were next door to unstoppable. But it’s hard to hold the caution and superstition of the man against him; this was a time unlike today when livelihoods depended on a bounce of the ball, when results mattered in a bread and butter way. There were no cossetted millionaires then, no examples of young men who could pack it all in tomorrow and live in luxury for the rest of their lives. It all meant so much more in those days and the word “pressure” had real resonance.

The modern coaches have greats among their number, there’s no doubt about that. It would be invidious to single out names; after all, the media in a misguided fit of uncritical and commercially-motivated hero-worship have been busily engaged for most of the last three decades in dubbing “S’ralex” as the greatest ever. But the legend that is Don Revie can sit comfortably on his laurels, the man who – more than any other – took a sow’s ear of a football club and made of it a purse of the very finest silk which yet concealed a core of Yorkshire steel.

On the day after a manager who will merit, at best, a tiny footnote in Leeds United history, shamefully walked out on the club – it’s fitting that we can remember with fondness and immense pride a true managerial giant.

Donald George Revie (1927 – 1989). Simply The Best.

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Ranieri Should Be Top Target for Leeds United After Monk Shock   –   by Rob Atkinson

Claudio Ranieri – is the Tinkerman next through the Elland Road revolving door?

In the light of Garry Monk‘s shock departure from Leeds, an intriguing name has cropped up as a possible candidate for the hotseat at Leeds United, and I make no apology for rehashing what was only a speculative article four weeks ago. 

The possibility of Claudio Ranieri fancying a crack at the Elland Road job was raised by a contributor to a recent article on this blog. NickB, 50 years a Leeds fan, ended a long and entertaining comment by asking “When does Ranieri’s gardening leave come to an end ?!” Another regular contributor, Leeds Mick, agreed with Nick, stating that Ranieri “would be a damn good appointment”. But what do other Leeds fans think?

Leaving aside the vexed question of whether Ranieri would touch us with the proverbial barge pole, the prospect of the Tinkerman would indeed be fascinating. With a recent Premier League title on his CV, Claudio is a very likeable man who seems to have a magic managerial touch in the right situation. It’s no exaggeration to say that what he pulled off at Leicester City qualifies as the biggest football miracle of all time, bar none. So, could Leeds United benefit from a touch of diddly-ding, diddly-dong?

I still feel that Monk has acted precipitately. And I do also feel that chairman Andrea Radrizzani deserves the faith and belief of Leeds United fans in his hunt for a new man. 

Still – Ranieri. Likeable, credible, available Ranieri. It is interesting – isn’t it? Would it be feasible, a welcome sign of ambition – or aiming too high? Your thoughts, as ever, would be appreciated. 

Leeds Fans Flocking Back as New Owner Prepares to Acquire Elland Road – by Rob Atkinson

Andrea

Radrizzani – master of all he surveys

Suddenly, there’s a feelgood factor about Leeds United, one that I’ve long predicted would come about when – and only when – the club became free of Massimo Cellino. Only when the maverick Italian was gone would we be able to look ahead with optimism. Only then could we start Marching On Together again, instead of being hopelessly disunited. And now it’s finally happened – Cellino has departed from Elland Road, a harmful and divisive influence whose supporters could see only good in him, and whose detractors could see only bad.

Whoever was right – and the truth, as ever, was probably somewhere in the middle – it was this dramatic polarisation of opinion in the support base that was so bad for Leeds. A support divided against itself could not be wholeheartedly behind the club. Now, the issue dividing us is gone, and it must be every United fan’s fervent hope that we can all start singing once again from the same hymn sheet.

New sole owner Andrea Radrizzani has certainly got off on the right foot, and we will expect him to maintain his positive outlook. For the first few days of his tenure, taking up the option on Garry Monk‘s extra year, with a longer-term deal to be discussed, would have been fine on its own. Add to that tying down one of the most exciting midfield prospects in the country to a four year deal, and we appear to be cooking with gas – because Ronaldo Vieira is every bit as hot a prospect as his famous names would suggest. And then, the cherry on the icing on the cake for this momentous first week of Radrizzani – it would seem that the club will once again own its spiritual home of Elland Road “by the end of the summer”.

That stadium purchase timescale lacks the immediate impact of Cellino’s “off down the ATM to get the money to buy the ground on Day One” promise. But the difference is, of course, that Radrizzani will probably deliver on his less sensational claim, whereas Cellino’s soundbite was just the first of many he failed to bring to fruition. Any Leeds fan will tell you it’s always felt better when our home was our own – it’s a reassuring prospect to look forward to and, at last, we can look forward with confidence.

And the summer as a whole is looking a lot brighter than previous summers have turned out to be, irrespective of the amount of sunshine we get. Radrizzani has stated that he is “here to make history, not money”. That’s a very sensible and realistic plan for any owner; making good on it is something else, but the intentions are spot on. It’s rightly said that the only way to make a small fortune out of football is by starting off with a large one – but the owner who has his eye on making history will inevitably find that financial rewards accrue also. Just getting into the Premier League would yield a bountiful harvest, as either Huddersfield or Reading are about to find out. The difference is that, when it’s Leeds United’s turn, there will be a new force in the top league capable of building on the financial bounty to make a mark in the game.

These are exciting times, as witness the flood of season ticket purchases for the next campaign. United have hit 15,000 already, before the old season is actually finished. That’s an impressive performance compared to other recent years, and a sign of the new feeling around the club. What divided us has gone, what has always united us is still alive and kicking; that big club buzz of an awakening giant.

Good luck, Andrea, and all your new backroom staff. As for the future – bring it on. The way things have started, it should be one to relish.

Leeds Traitor News: Creepy Kewell to be Crawley Manager? – by Rob Atkinson

stupid harrykewell-

Kewell wearing his creepy, Crawley expression

Harry Kewell is reported to be making a return to English football – as manager of League Two Crawley. He can expect little in the way of congratulations or good luck wishes from the fans of Leeds United, whose shirt he wore for years – and then disgraced by signing for Turkish horror club Galatasaray.

Kewell’s football track record since retiring as a player is not exactly sparkling. He was sacked from a stint as a Watford academy coach and now looks to make his mark as a boss at the fourth tier of the English game.

It’s a far cry from Champions League glory with Liverpool in 2005 (though he limped off in that game when Liverpool were trailing, only to reappear cavorting with the trophy after the Reds’ sensational comeback). This incident, with others, gave the Aussie a reputation of a player who would bottle it when the going got tough. It’s unclear whether this is the ethos Crawley Town expect Kewell, should he be appointed, to pass on to his new charges.

Leeds fans have long memories, and Kewell is possibly not looking forward with any great relish to the time when his path will cross, once again, with that of Leeds United and its fanatical followers. Having said that, if Crawley is to be his starting point, a reunion with the Whites might be many years away yet.

Leeds Have the Advantage Over Top-Flight Swansea in Kyle Bartley Chase – by Rob Atkinson

Bartley

Bartley – happy at Elland Road

Swansea City boss Paul Clement might be talking a good fight and looking to play hardball over his loaned-out defender Kyle Bartley, who has made such an impression during his season-long stint at Leeds United. But, especially now that the Swans’ Premier League status is assured, football economics and a dash of common sense will tend towards a conclusion that, if Leeds want Bartley – and if Bartley wants Leeds – then the situation will pan out towards a satisfactory conclusion for both player and the Elland Road club.

The fact is, despite Clement’s neat line about “welcoming Bartley home”, a lot will depend on where the player himself sees his future. There is only one year left on Bartley’s Swans contract, and Leeds fans will be familiar with how that scenario usually ends, from bitter experience of seeing favourites leave Yorkshire a year early for a fee, or stick it out and walk for nothing. Whatever success the giant defender has enjoyed this Championship season, his potential as a Premier League defender is unclear. He’s likely to enjoy more game time at Leeds, and on that account, as well as his friendship with Luke Ayling, would perhaps prefer a move to Yorkshire rather than signing an extended deal for the Welsh club.

As for Leeds, they’ve seen a highly promising central defensive partnership develop between the mighty Bartley and Swedish colossus Pontus Jansson; they’re more likely to be looking at supplementing those positions by the acquisition of quality deputies, to provide the strength in depth lacking in the campaign just ended, rather than losing one pillar of a towering twin rearguard.

There’ll be more talking done, of course, both between the clubs and in the press so that the fans can see how serious and committed their managers are. But at the end of the day, money talks – and Swansea would be better off banking a fee for a player they could otherwise lose for nothing next May. Whatever claims and counter-claims fly back and forth, the only real work to be done is likely to be a bit of dickering over money.

If I were a betting man (and my bank manager is grateful that I’m not), my dosh would be on Bartley signing for Leeds permanently, or at least securing another loan, with an option to buy – perhaps in the January window.

It should be a busy summer, with a new sole owner, the maverick, amateur element of club ownership gone, and some backroom talent already recruited. But the retention of this season’s centre-back partnership will be seen as an important part of all that and I, for one, would be extremely surprised to see Kyle Bartley in a Swansea shirt when next season kicks off.

They Really Are ALL In It Together!

Turning the Tide

I like to see good friends getting on as much as the next person. The sight of heads huddled in a cafe over a shared confidence, or peals of laughter ringing out on a train from a pair of besties on their way out for the day, does my heart good. But when those two close friends are BBC Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis, and right wing Labour MP Jess Phillips, and their friendly chat is being broadcast to millions of people during a crucial General Election campaign, it doesn’t have quite the same heart warming effect.

But that’s what I bore witness to on Newsnight last night. Best friends, Jess and Emily went for a nice stroll in the more affluent part of Jess’s constituency so Jess could knock on a few doors and be seen for the hardworking, down to earth but laugh-a-minute MP she purports to be. Then…

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Charlie Taylor to Follow the Judas Kewell Path to Galatasaray? – by Rob Atkinson

Kewell

Don’t be a charlie like Harry, Charlie

Rumour has it that, having ungratefully bitten the hand that’s fed him for so long, left-back turned militant striker Charlie Taylor is now rubbing salt into freshly-opened wounds by considering overtures from Galatasaray – a club which makes our old friends and foes the Pride of Devon seem positively adorable.

The Istanbul club are rightly held in contempt and derision by Leeds United fans, for their attitude and actions at the time of the murders by their fans of Kevin Speight and Chris Loftus the night before a UEFA Cup semi-final in 2000. No respect was shown, the home side wore no black armbands, and the Galatasaray club sought cynically to manipulate the tragedy to their own advantage by demanding the return leg be played elsewhere than at Elland Road

When Harry Kewell joined the Turkish club some years later, it was literally hard for United fans to believe that a man who played for Leeds in that semi-final, and experienced the hatred of the savage and uncivilised Galatasaray fans, could ever consider wearing their colours. It was a sick, horrible nightmare, surely, rather than some bizarre reality. But Kewell really did make the move, with some weasel words about wanting to build bridges (nowt to do with money, of course) – and he’s been despised by Leeds fans ever since.

Now, Fotospora Turkish news source, have suggested that Taylor is a possibility for the Galatasaray squad next season, though they acknowledge that the hostility between the two clubs could be a stumbling block. But, as ever with these matters, it’d likely be down to the player himself if there is a genuine interest from Turkey.

Memo to Charlie Taylor: don’t be a silly boy. Get yourself to that Premier League subs bench you’ll be occupying next season and stay there, counting your money. There’s no need to court hatred having already earned contempt. Look at your history books and do the right thing.

One ex-Leeds player at that awful club was bad enough. Two making the same ridiculous and selfish decision would look a bit too much like taking the piss.

Jonny Howson Back to Leeds United, But NOT Jermaine Beckford – by Rob Atkinson

Leeds United v Bristol Rovers

Jermaine and Jonny during THAT Bristol Rovers game

A headline this morning screams that Leeds United should bring Jonny Howson and Jermaine Beckford, the two League One promotion goal heroes, back to Elland Road. As pre-transfer window speculative press advice goes, it’s nearer the mark than 90% of the rubbish out there – but it’s still only half right at best.

Judged on their merits, the two cases are miles apart. Howson is still the real deal, coming up to his 29th birthday, a mature goal-scoring midfielder who has performed creditably in the Premier League. He thrived at Leeds before the environment around LS11 turned toxic, at which time his best move was out. If he’s now available to bring back into the fold, it would be a very good option for a United midfield sorely in need of top-level experience and the kind of commitment that comes with a player who is also a fan.

Beckford, on the other hand, shows all the signs of having put the best of his playing career far behind him. I still believe that he should have given himself a chance of securing a second successive promotion with Leeds United, after helping get the club out of League One in 2010. Obviously, there were compelling financial reasons for his move to Everton, and he did make a mark of sorts at Goodison Park. But thereafter, it’s been a case of each successive move leading to a diminution of his reputation, and the signals have always been there that he left his heart and soul behind at Elland Road – he’s perhaps the opposition player best known for his ongoing rapport with our crowd, complete with Leeds salute. I can’t help thinking that he has his regrets, but realistically he’s not a viable option for a United squad on the way up (we hope). The rule of thumb here is, since he’s been released by Preston, there’s not too much – sadly – that he can now offer to Leeds United.

Many more names will be bandied about over the coming weeks, some of them formerly of this parish, and many more who might be new and exciting additions to the club. But if I could have one choice for a player to return, I wouldn’t look much further (with the honourable exception of Rob Snodgrass) than Jonny Howson, who I feel really could add that winning spark to next years United squad.

 

World Star Admits Strong Link to Leeds United (Not Maradona) – by Rob Atkinson

In a completely non-sensational non-revelation, world famous movie star Russell Crowe has admitted to being a Leeds United fan. 

Lately, there have been a rash of teaser headlines appearing on NewsNow, transparently calculated to grab readers’ attention before disappointing them with a right lemon of a non-story. I am sorry to have done this on what will be one solitary occasion; I do it only to highlight what I consider to be a deceptive practice, one which I find intensely annoying.

Any advertising revenues attributable to this article will be donated to the Alzheimers Society. I do not wish to profit by deception, unlike certain other online publications. Please click the link above if you also wish to support the good work of the Alzheimers Society.

And please – think carefully before clicking on headlines such as the one at the head of this piece. They’re just after your attention and they’ll get it any way they can.

Theresa May Isn’t Strong, She’s Cowardly, Evasive And Weak – And I’m A Tory!

A Tory sees a glimmer of light…

Peter Reynolds

As a member of the Conservative Party, I am horrified with the dishonest and manipulative way in which Theresa May is running her election campaign.

She was a terrible Home Secretary with an appalling record of failure in every policy area.  However, I accept that she was the inevitable choice for leader when both Boris and Michael Gove bottled out.  Also, as I’ve written before, we needed someone stubborn, obstinate, pig-headed, intransigent and incapable of listening to get Article 50 triggered in the face of the anti-democratic Remaniacs.  She did a good job of that but now we need a real leader, someone who can actually implement her empty words about a “country that works for everyone” – which Ms May neither really means nor is she even capable of achieving.

Her refusal to engage in any proper debate is pathetic and brings shame on the Conservative Party.  Her bluster, barking…

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