In commemoration of perhaps the biggest offside injustice since Jeff Astle scored for West Brom at Elland Road in 1971, robbing the best team in the country of the League title in the process, Leeds United should now do whatever it takes to have the legendary Old Peacock pub opposite United’s stadium rebranded as “The Bamford Arms”. It would serve as a permanent reminder of the laughable incompetence of those who are interpreting VAR data – in this case, the notoriously error-prone Mike Dean. It would also cock a snook at those in the game and outside who revel in each successive injustice perpetrated upon football’s least-favourite club. To respond to such misfortune with classic gallows humour is the ideal riposte to such persistent persecution.And, let’s not forget, the Peacock symbol is unlucky anyway – that’s why it was dropped from our badge many moons ago.
It’s the best idea I’ve seen so far, casually mentioned on Twitter, though I’d certainly welcome any other suggestions. But I’m sure Paddy himself would approve of this one, and it would be guaranteed to infuriate the stuffed shirts of the FA Premier League – which, when you’re going to be handed the crappy end of the stick anyway, is what it’s all about. It’s such a shame that a tawdry piece of adjudication like this has tended to put Paddy’s sublime second strike, this one allowed to stand, rather into the shade. All the more reason to gift him immortality in the shape of a pub sign just over the road. Let’s do it.
Thousands of Leeds fans will have gone to bed last night, feeling that the world is a slightly sadder place following a sobering 4-1 reverse at home to an efficient Leicester City side. The defeat will have been the first thing many will have thought about on waking up this morning. And yet we all know deep down that, compared to real loss and tragedy, alongside the immensely unfair and indiscriminate habit life has of abruptly handing out shattering blows to innocents, football and its petty travails and setbacks means nothing at all.
This essential truth has hit home hard again today with the awful need that a 14 year old Leeds fan who has bravely and uncomplainingly battled leukaemia for the past two years – a big chunk of his young life – has now found out that there is no more that can be done for him, and that he has just a matter of three weeks to live.
The heartbreaking story of young Louie Jones, from Poulton-le-Fylde in Lancashire, was told today here on the Leeds Live website, and has been shared on Twitter along with a plea to Leeds United Football Club to do something for the teenage Leeds fanatic in his last few weeks. That’s the kind of request United are normally very receptive to, and I sincerely hope that will be the case for Louie, even in these testing lockdown times.
Beyond that, though, I simply haven’t the words to describe how terribly sad this story is. Courage of the type Louie is now showing, as he faces up to such a horrific certainty, is absolutely beyond my ken, so all I can do in this blog is take off my hat to the lad and reiterate my hope that maybe he’ll hear from his beloved United at what is a devastating time for him and his family.
Life still transcends football, as is right and proper. I know for sure that those who read this will hold Louie in their thoughts and, where appropriate, their prayers.
Perhaps if Aston Villa had actually beaten Leeds United, as their former journeyman striker Agbonlahor evidently expected with the utmost confidence, that gentleman would not now be contriving to make an even bigger fool of himself by refusing to let the whole matter drop. Then again, maybe he’d have been even more insufferable, in the manner of a triumphal schoolboy crowing after winning a conker fight.
Gobby’s latest argument appears to be that the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City fans don’t react as many Leeds fans have done, when either Klopp or Guardiola are referred to as myths. But TalkSport‘s shining light appears to have missed the fact that nobody – and especially no-one with any pretensions to a media career – is fool enough to take that line about either Jurgen or Pep, because it’d be self-evidently ridiculous. Equally, only a clueless dolt would level such a jibe against the world-renowned Bielsa – step forward, Gormless Gobby. The hapless former Villan seems to be judging everybody else by his own dismally low standards, as if it wasn’t bad enough already that he’s attached to a so-called radio station trying to be the aural equivalent of the Sunday Sport.
Gobby seems to be the sort of lad that tries to extricate himself from a hole by doing some more digging. The more he protests, the dafter he looks, and the dafter he looks, the harder he tries to place himself on the right side of the argument, and so on, ad nauseam.He’s in a vicious downward spiral, and is too witless to see that the only person he’s hurting is himself.
Certain facts are undeniable. Firstly, Agbonlahor stands guilty of sabotaging his favourite club’s chances of beating Leeds United, by providing all the extra motivation United could have wished for ahead of a tricky trip to Villa Park. It’s quite clear from the most cursory trawl of the AVFC hashtag (a couple of examples appear above) that many Villa fans saw this, and were justly annoyed about it.It could well be argued that Gobby has done a better job of rattling his own fanbase, than he has of winding up the Leeds support.
Secondly, Gobby has failed to minimise his own humiliation by keeping his trap tactfully shut in the wake of Villa’s heavy defeat. He has instead persisted in trying to defend the indefensible, still digging away in that hole, and now claims to be surprised that a big club like United should be rattled by a has-been like himself. But this sort of bogus self-deprecation has always been a transparent ploy to deflect attention from some horrible faux pas; everybody with any sense at all is well aware that Agbonlahor’s reckless disrespect of Leeds only days prior to a match against the Whites will live forever in football’s memory as unprofessional, immature, and the classic example of inserting one foot squarely into his mouth whilst simultaneously shooting himself in the other.
This is the last word I shall have to say on this matter, which I’m sure will be a relief to many. Ultimately, Agbonlahor is irrelevant, and I wouldn’t normally bother with a mouthpiece for a trash radio station. In this case, though, the behaviour was so extreme and immature that I was moved to highlight the ridiculousness of it. But it’s now time to stop feeding the troll, so I’ll just sum up by reproducing Kalvin Phillips’ devastating post match response to one of Gobby’s more childish efforts before the game. Succinct and brilliant, it really should have persuaded Agbonlahor that he should immediately retire to lick his wounds. Sadly, he’s got far too much ego, and far too little by way of brains, to do any such thing.
Nobody can accuse Leeds United of not going full tilt on their return to the Premier League after a 16-year absence, both on the pitch and in the transfer market. The board have backed maverick manager Marcelo Bielsa with an eclectic mix of new signings.
Besides bringing last season’s loanees Helder Costa and Illan Meslier in on permanent deals and extending Manchester City-owned Jack Harrison’s stay at Elland Road, some future prospects for the developmental squad have also joined. There are fresh faces for the first team too.
Former Bolton Wanderers loan capture Rodrigo only managed one goal during his first taste of English football a decade ago. Having since established himself at Valencia, the Brazil-born Spain forward has at least matched his tally for the Trotters at Leeds already.
Reinforcing defence was also a priority of Bielsa’s, although the expansive and open style of his team does not exactly lend itself automatically to clean sheets. Nonetheless, two full international centre backs in Robin Koch and Diego Llorente have arrived from Germany and Spain respectively.
The latter was part of an overachieving Real Sociedad side that finished sixth in La Liga last term and reached the Copa del Rey final. Koch, meanwhile, helped Freiburg progress from battling Bundesliga relegation to just missing out on European football for this season during his three years with them.
These are defenders on the up, then, and – provided they continue to improve in the crucible of the Premier League – they should serve Bielsa well. It appears as though Leeds have learned from Championship heartache and struggles to get back up into the big time.
Bielsa also has new wide options to support Rodrigo or Patrick Bamford who has the central striking berth for now. The wonderfully named Crysencio Summerville has been prolific for the Netherlands Under-19s, and the winger of Surinamese descent rejected a new deal at Feyenoord in favour of moving to Elland Road.
Brazilian wide prospect Raphinha arrived on transfer deadline day from French Ligue 1 outfit Rennes too. The 23-year-old has already played for Sporting Lisbon, one of the biggest clubs in Portugal, earlier in his career. If these options on the flanks can provide service, then they add value to the side.
Maintaining the high-intensity style demanded by Bielsa in what is a shortened season means the depth of the squad is key. Leeds have eight points from their first four games. Keep that average up, and there is nothing to worry about.
One or two transfers fell by the wayside, however. Bayern Munich’s midfielder Mickael Cuisance returned to his native France on loan at Marseille after a move to Elland Road broke down. Bielsa also missed out on creative compatriot midfielder Rodrigo De Paul from Udinese.
Despite that, the feeling is that Leeds may have done some smart business. Fans are firmly behind Bielsa after he did what managers with infinitely more experience of English football coming into the Elland Road hot seat failed to do. The adventure continues.
The delight of witnessing Leeds United’s 3-0 demolition of Aston Villa was reserved mainly for those willing to fork out an extra fifteen quid over and above normal subscriptions, as well as a few discerning types who found other, less official methods. Doubtless those who did cough up will consider their money well spent – the chance to see the Villans, who recently demolished Liverpool seven goals to two, themselves getting royally stuffed by our own heroes was one not to miss.
Happily, many who might otherwise have paid the price were so disgusted by the cynical exploitation of fans’ desire to see their team, that they chose to miss out, preferring instead to donate the £15 to a local food bank in the wake of our disgraceful government’s refusal to help feed poor kids who risk a hungry holiday without public support. I was proud to donate myself, and would urge others to do so. Last time I looked, the total raised was over £83,000.
So in the end, it may well be that Villa’s slaughter at the eager hands of “myth club” Leeds was even less visible than you might have thought, given its PPV status. But, over on Sky Sports News, the humiliation of Villa Rentamouth Gobby Agbonlahor, who had provided so much unintentional motivation for the United lads in the run-up to the game, was all too cruelly public.
Gobby, who had described Bielsa’s Leeds as a “myth”, and who had then made various other unwisely provocative statements, can be seen in the image above, clearly wilting and finally appalled as his beloved Villa were dismantled in a one-way second half at Villa Park. Realising, perhaps, that he’d effectively delivered Bielsa’s pre-match motivational talk for him, Gobby had admitted on his Twitter account that he needed a Villa win last night, or he’d have to deactivate his account in craven embarrassment. Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything understands that the former Villa striker now plans to add a personal disappearance to his virtual one, joining the French Foreign Legion “to forget”.
Whatever the feelings of the crushed and humiliated Agbonlahor, we must not forget that Gobby’s not the only one who’ll be ordering several portions of humble pie – though it’s the crestfallen TalkSport pundit who’s taking the brunt of Villa fans’ frustration and disapproval on Twitter. But the likes of Dean Smith and John Terry have had this experience coming to them, ever since the match at Elland Road when Villa histrionics in the wake of a perfectly legal goal led Bielsa, realising that the media would be all over the incident, to order his team to allow the Villans of the piece a walk-in equaliser. Terry in particular was still mouthing off at Bielsa after this gesture (later recognised with a FIFA Fair Play Award), and it gives me immense pleasure to contemplate the current misery of that deeply unpleasant man. Revenge, as they say, is a dish best served cold, so United’s victory, and especially the manner of it, was sweeter and more delectable than the finest iced dessert.
It’s been a fabulous start to another sporting weekend, seeing Leeds United outrun, outplay, outthink and thoroughly outclass opponents who had prevailed in every previous match this season. I’d thought perhaps we might match if not exceed Liverpool’s feat of scoring twice at Villa Park, but – with skipper Cooper and midfield fulcrum Phillips both missing – I never suspected we’d concede seven fewer than the Champions.
Of course, we’re Champions too, albeit in a slightly less grand manner, and last night we produced a performance worthy of that title. Villa fans on Twitter were acknowledging at half time that Leeds had been the better side – with the scoreline blank, they hoped for and seemingly expected better things after the interval. But once Leeds had survived a mazy run and shot from Grealish, they were utterly irresistible and thoroughly deserved a victory that could easily have been a lot more emphatic, as even Dean Smith was heard to admit. It was a fabulous win and an unmistakeable message to the football world that United are back.
On a final note of exultation, we can now consider one particular debt repaid in full. Patrick Bamford’s last hat-trick was against Leeds a few years back, for Middlesbrough. Now, he’s repeated the feat, but in our colours and at a higher level. Patrick’s hat trick has raised his seasonal tally to six, and this likeable and increasingly lethal lad appears at last to be finding his confidence and enjoying himself in exalted company. All of which pleases me immensely as a long-time supporter of our No. 9.
As for Gobby – better luck next time, son. And maybe you’ll engage brain before opening mouth before we meet again. Though, given your astounding lack of judgement and discretion this time, I won’t be holding my breath…
Ex-Villa forward and current professional motormouth Gobby Agbonlahor appears to have had a moment of self-awareness today, as the Friday night showdown between the Villans and Leeds United approaches. The former striker has tweeted an admission that, unless his side beat United, then his own Twitter presence would be unbearable to the point where he’d feel compelled to deactivate his account. The implication is, of course, that if Aston Villa do win, then there’ll be a lot more crowing and trolling to come from one of trash radio station TalkSport’s shining lights (my apologies for the gratuitous rhyming slang).
Having delivered Leeds United‘s Friday evening teamtalk for them with his previous online rants, Agbonlahor seems to have potentially painted himself into a corner from which it would be difficult to escape, should Leeds manage to take anything from Friday’s fixture. Several Villa fans have responded to Gobby’s rash tweets with anger at the incentive he has provided for the Whites to ram his words back down his virtual throat.
Now, Agbonlahor has gone further in the incentivisation stakes, with the prospect of seeing him disappear from the Twittersphere surely something that will spur Leeds on (always assuming that Gobby isn’t just emulating his fellow “gob on a stick” Katie Hopkins, who threatened many times to leave Twitter, but eventually had to be kicked off).
It promises to be a spicy old affair at Villa Park on Friday and, despite his over-use of the laugh emoticons, you get the feeling that Agbonlahor knows full well he has committed the cardinal sin of winding up an imminent opponent while wiser heads are keeping their powder dry. Really, it’s a shame that Leeds appear beset by injuries ahead of a match where they will need to be as strong as possible. The absence of skipper Liam Cooper, and more especially that of England’s Kalvin Phillips, does not bode well for United’s ability to cope with a Villa side on the crest of a wave after their 100% start to the season. Leeds, of course, will doubtless back themselves to deal with such problems – and they certainly aren’t lacking for either incentive or motivation. Credit to Gobby for that, at least.
Sometimes, in sport as in life, a helping hand can come from the most unexpected source. In the sporting arena, that helpful gesture might occasionally even emanate from within the opposition camp, giving an unexpected boost ahead of a difficult task. You’ll have doubtless heard of the phenomenon whereby some Rentagob ex-player for this or that Rovers, City or United will unwisely open their piehole and give major and unintended motivation to the next opponents of that ex-player’s former employers.
One such instance of this occurred last night in the wake of Leeds United’s slightly unfortunate home defeat to Wolves. Former Aston Villa player Gabriel “Gobby” Agbonlahor, the proud owner of two losers’ medals as the fruits of his less than glittering career, seemingly couldn’t resist the opportunity to mock Leeds United, heedless of the fact that, for the Villans, providing an extra incentive for Leeds United ahead of Friday night’s Villa Park summit was possibly the very last thing Dean Smith’s charges would have wanted. But good old Gobby, showing the kind of intellect needed to work at TalkSport, went ahead anyway – and, should Villa lose their impressive 100% record at the hands of United, it could be that Mr. Agbonlahor will find the blame fairly and squarely laid upon himself.
It’s a strange situation just now with Leeds and Villa, with the Villa fans in particular seeming to wish to generate an unnatural rivalry between their own club and the Whites, who habitually look west to Trafford or south to Chelsea for their own bêtes noires. With United still acclimatising themselves to the Premier League, and with Villa putting last season’s narrow and distinctly dodgy escape from relegation behind them with four wins in four games this time around, you might suppose the fans of Agbonlahor’s former club would be looking elsewhere themselves for rivalry fodder. But there it is, and we can probably trace this odd situation back to Villa’s rather fortunate promotion season, when Leeds missed out on doing the double over them only because of Marcelo Bielsa’s FIFA Fair Play Award-winning gesture of allowing the Villans to walk the ball in for an equaliser at Elland Road.
The reverse fixture at Villa Park had ended up with Leeds triumphant, having come back from two down – but in truth, United were the better team throughout, something that had Smith grinding his teeth on the touchline before muttering ungraciously about the Whites celebrating as though they’d won the title itself. Whatever the roots of the situation, Villa fans – who may well have something of a chip on their collective shoulder about the media adulation of Bielsa – have lost no opportunity to gloat over the contrasting fortunes of the two clubs this season, with warnings of premature exultation falling on deaf ears. But that’s fans for you.
It’s different when ex-players join in. The comments circulate more widely, and with much more chance of being noted inside the dressing room of the club targeted for such unwise trolling. You can safely bet your mortgage on the fact that Liam Cooper & Co will be well aware of Gobby’s online ramblings, including the assertions that Leeds United are more myth than legend, as well as his notion that Bielsa gets too much credit, which should more properly be laid at the feet of Dean Smith. As I said, you can forgive blinkered fans for spouting that kind of rubbish – but when an ex-player of your next opponent does it, then it can make the troops thus slighted imitate the actions of the tiger. It’s certainly not the kind of thing Agbonlahor’s former employers would have wished him to do, as they will be uncomfortably aware that Friday night’s challenge may just have become even more difficult.
Obviously, as a United fan, I hope so. I hope that Leeds will hand Villa a right pasting to ruin their 100% start, and I hope that Gobby’s words will be rammed well and truly back down the orifice whence they originated, to emerge a day later, via a natural excretory process, in the form of a TalkSport match summary. Villa are a good team, so this desirable outcome is by no means guaranteed. But if it did happen, then this blogger would be well chuffed – along with, I suspect, those well-motivated men from Elland Road.
Straight after his release by West Ham, former Arsenal star Jack Wilshere – still only 28 – has taken to social media to stress that he’s been fit and ready to play top level football for months. All he’s been lacking, according to his statement tonight, is the chance to prove his worth. So it’s quite obvious that what Wilshere is looking for is a club at the top level who will give him that chance. Could the club be Leeds United?
Naturally, there are doubts. We don’t know what the issue has been at West Ham, if there’s no chronic injury or lack of fitness or desire. Hammers fan Jack’s not saying. But maybe, in his particular circumstances, he’d be willing to accept a pay per play deal, as the chance he’s been craving to prove that he’s still able to do a job at the top.
This blogger thinks it’s worth a punt. A fit and firing Wilshere would be a quality addition to any EPL squad. I’m sure some enterprising outfit will give him a go and, barring any other CAM option presenting itself, I’d like Leeds to show a bit of faith, which Wilshere could then perhaps repay.
Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything thinks that this would be a chance we’ll worth taking. Your (polite) thoughts?
Manchester United, reeling from their 1-6 home defeat to Spurs on Sunday, and frustrated by Dortmund’s refusal to budge on top target Jadon Sancho’s £100m+ price, have admitted that their move to sign 33 year old free agent Edinson Cavani was prompted by the threat of losing a fan in the wake of their stuttering start to the season.
The once mighty Pride of Devon have been out of sorts so far in this new campaign. The season opened with a 1-3 home reverse to Crystal Palace, with neutral observers claiming that Palace could have had six. Then, the ailing media favourites had to rely on a penalty given after the final whistle to beat Brighton in their first away fixture, with neutral observers claiming that the Seagulls could have had eight. Most recently, it was back to the Theatre of Hollow Myths, where a first minute penalty was not enough to stop Tottenham Hotspur rattling in six, with neutral observers claiming that Spurs could have had ten.
In the wake of that second home defeat, Steve, a Leeds-based plastic armchair man u fan of forty years, shocked the football world by claiming that he’d had enough and was no longer a glory-hunting disciple of the ironically-dubbed “biggest club in the world”. Steve pulled no punches in his withering assessment of Manchester’s second club, ranting as follows:
“I’ve been a Man U fan for over 40 years and I’m afraid I’m looking for a new club to support after today’s shambles. I’m done with them. They are not a big club anymore, they’re an absolute shambles and it starts from the top. Until Woodward and the board go, they’ll have no success. I live in Leeds so I’ll probably support Leeds United. They’ve got one of the best managers in the business, their players are hungry for it, and they play great football.”
Sadly for Steve, the reaction among proper Leeds fans has not been particularly positive, with several commenting that they “would rather chew wasps” than accept a renegade Devonian as one of their number. It appears, then, that there is no welcome for Steve at Elland Road, and so hopes will burn bright from Milton Keynes to Singapore that he will keep the faith and maintain his front room devotion to Ole’s boys, however dire and dismal they are under the hapless Norwegian “demon pixie”.
The Trafford based club have reiterated their determination to retain fans like Steve, by making any signings necessary, regardless of the benefit or lack thereof to the team itself. “We mean business”, stated one man u insider, “and we’ll show our intent by the end of this window. If Cavani doesn’t do the trick, we’ll be approaching Derby for their star forward Rooney. Don’t rule us out yet, we’re going to do great things.”
Terry Christian, well-known Salford scally and professional man u fan, was unavailable for comment, as he’s hiding behind his sofa until Woodward and the Glasers are gone.
Nobody does weird like Leeds United, that’s understood. However, with the news that the seemingly 99.99% complete transfer of Michael Cuisance may well have fallen through, it seems possible that the Whites may have out-weirded even themselves.
So strange does this apparent conclusion seem, after “done deal” was flagged up across the various social media platforms over the past twenty-four hours, that we at Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything decided to dispatch our intrepid investigative reporter Rob Schreibermann to Munich, and find out what’s really going on.
Armed only with his passport, bus pass and a vacuum-wrapped Schnitzengruben in case he felt peckish, our man set forth, determined to find out the truth. And, already, we can report that the stumbling block seems to be a long-standing feud between Leeds and Bayern dating back 45 years to 1975.
Astounding as it may seem, it was Leeds United’s insistence that Bayern finally hand over the European Cup, of which they have always maintained they were robbed in the 1975 Final at the Parc des Princes in Paris, that finally killed the deal, as Bayern steadfastly refuse to make a gesture that would expose them as cheats. Although this explanation verges on the very outer limits of credibility, it must be said that it’s many times more likely than the bizarre Daniel James from Swansea fiasco repeating itself quite so soon.
Whatever the background to this development, the Cuisance deal seems to be dead, and Leeds are now faced with having to find a suitable alternative target. Unless, that is, cash-strapped Udinese have decided their bluff has been called, and have made a phone call along the lines of “Let’s talk de Paul for £25m, Victor”? Stranger things have happened, after all.