Officials in charge of VAR for Saturday’s Yorkshire Derby between Leeds United and Sheffield United have confirmed that the challenge on Leeds’ Tyler Roberts by George Baldock of the Blunts was reviewed by the Video Assistant Referee. Further, it has been confirmed by a source close to the VAR hub that the tackle was classifiable as violent conduct, meriting a straight red card. But it was felt on this occasion that, as poor George had bumped his head after scything Roberts down, and as he looked a bit poorly, no disciplinary action should be taken.
Baldock actually carried on for a good ten minutes before it was realised that the fact of him running around in small circles and getting nowhere was not a futile attempt to mark Raphinha, but was actually indicative of concussion following poor George’s nasty head bump. The VAR officials have expressed their sympathy and the earnest hope that Baldock had not aggravated his condition by his delayed substitution, when he clearly should have been sent off immediately.
Asked whether such latitude would have been shown to a Leeds United player under similar circumstances, with the roles reversed, our helpful VAR source chuckled cynically and replied, “Don’t be so bloody daft, lad”.
VAR is 2 and is still suffering from teething problems.
Note: thanks to those who have enquired after my health and well-being during the time since my last blog article. I have in fact been somewhat under the weather, but I’m hoping that normal service will be resumed shortly. In the meantime, I truly appreciate your concern, and hope you’ll understand it’s not been possible to reply to all well wishers individually. But thank you again, it means a lot.
For a welcome change, I’m handing over to an opposition fan today, for their preview of Saturday’s game for United at Spurs. Declan writes for the fansite Spurs For Life and I’m indebted to Andy who runs the site for offering me this piece ahead of our respective teams’ meeting at a much changed White Hart Lane. For me, this match is a free hit – Spurs are major challengers for honours, and it’d be understandable if we went down (fighting, of course) to defeat. However, there is no arrogance or hubris in this piece, as you’ll see from the score prediction (which I for one would happily accept). Anyway, now it’s over to Declan…
I’d like to extend the warmest welcome to Leeds United to our new stadium, for our 98th encounter and the first match between Tottenham and Leeds since 2013!
This clash comes at a crucial point of the season for us, flagging after topping the table. At this stage, the league is wide open in terms of the title race.
But also there is a fierce battle to grasp some kind of foothold in mid-table. Just by stringing a few good results together, Leeds could well catch up with the top six, and our misery could be compounded.
The last match between the clubs was a 2-1 win for Leeds who dumped Spurs out of the FA Cup fourth round thanks to Luke Varney and Ross McCormack’s goals.
In what was a disappointing performance by Spurs, there was a flash of brilliance by Gareth Bale. The Welshman won’t be making a return against Leeds, though this was a piece of skill that stuck in the memory.
Sam Byram came flying out to challenge for what looked like a certain tackle, but Bale ran onto his lengthy first touch, completing a roulette before skinning Byram. His cross came to nothing, sadly.
Ex-Leeds academy star Jack Clarke is now in the North London lily-white strip. He’s yet to make a real impression at the club; the winger has been restricted to just two Europa League cameos.
It is unlikely that Clarke will be able to return to face his former club, utilised in the Premier League 2 for now.
Mourinho has a perfect record against Bielsa so far, albeit only in the four meetings in La Liga. Again, the two haven’t met in a competitive match since 2013.
I am always intrigued to watch Patrick Bamford play. He is an intelligent player, but not just in terms of football. He turned down Harvard, and after successive loans away from Chelsea, chose to break away from London to play for Middlesbrough. And then he went on to Leeds where he has scored 36 goals in 87 appearances.
He’s the top goal scorer thus far for The Whites and the 19th all-time highest scorer for the club. With Tottenham’s defensive play, Bamford will have to cut out his chances wisely.
However, Spurs have had a frustratingly bad habit of conceding late in matches recently. We’ve actually set a record for doing this year.
Tottenham have dropped nine points in 2020-21 with goals conceded in the last 10 minutes of matches, the most of any Premier League club (Opta).
But I reckon Spurs’ defensive frailty is matched by Leeds’. They were the first team to concede 30 goals this season, in the 6-2 defeat against Manchester United.
Despite shipping so many goals, it is at least in the name of attacking football. Bielsa has stuck by his methods.
“The best way to win is to play well. So nobody can say I put style over results,” he said.At Spurs we have a manager who also sticks to his guns, but with much less appealing football.
The clash of styles on Saturday will likely be a high press against a low block and counter.Then again, Mourinho has been known to adapt his tactics accordingly to what challenges he faces.
On paper, this looks like an exciting battle between the clubs who have rarely played each other lately, and with their managers’ conflicting styles, should prove to be an exciting encounter.
PREDICTION: Tottenham 1-1 Leeds United. (Bamford to score a late equaliser after Spurs sit back to defend another 1-0 lead!
Karen Carney, TV Sport’s super pundit, has issued a solemn warning over the likely consequences for football should another blanket lockdown be imposed with all fixtures suspended indefinitely. Carney is worried that such a measure would inevitably lead to Leeds winning the Premier League title, just as the lockdown of early 2020 was solely responsible for United winning the Championship title last season.
“Make no mistake about it”, frothed Carney. “Leeds United would end up as Champions – and we all know that nobody wants that. Look what happened last year, Leeds had lost every game before lockdown due to the well-known Bielsa blowup meltdown crackup tiredness thingy, they were rock bottom of the Championship and certs for relegation, then, after they’d had a good rest – a much better rest than any other team – they go on this amazing run, winning every game 7-0, and end up ten points clear of West Brom, who we know for a fact are a much better team.”
When asked about elements of her theory, including the “much better rest” part, as well as WBA being much better than a team against whom they’ve just suffered a 5-0 battering, Ms Carney merely curled her lip and said “Wibble”.
Leeds United were approached by our Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything roving reporter for their response, and guardedly commented “Well, what else can you expect from the Karens of this world? But, let’s face it, she’s not half as thick as Merson, Wilder and Agbonlahor…”
Sam Allardyce is 66, and has had enough of football for this season.
As so often with Leeds United, a fine win capping a great performance is possibly going to be overshadowed by a storm in a teacup, and on this occasion the person brewing up the trouble is a pundit on the lamentable Amazon Prime live coverage of United’s game at West Brom. Let’s get one thing straight before we go any further. The gender part of this argument is sod all to do with my opinion of what’s been said in the wake of Leeds’ impressive 5-0 demolition of WBA. The pundit concerned, one Karen Carney, is self-evidently a woman, but that has nothing at all to do with the vacuously stupid remark she made after the match, to the effect that Leeds United probably secured promotion last season thanks to the initial COVID lockdown, which interrupted football for around three months. The break gave us a rest, you see – just us, nobody else, apparently. I’ve heard some crackpot theories in my time, but that one really takes the biscuit.
At the risk of introducing a few facts into this issue, when facts appear to be anathema to Ms Carney, Leeds United, after an earlier rocky spell, had just reeled off five successive wins immediately prior to the cessation of the league programme, recording clean sheets in all of them. When football resumed, with Leeds nicely rested according to Karen’s world view, United proceeded to lose their first game back 0-2 at Cardiff. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, with the more pessimistic Leeds fans bemoaning the COVID break, which seemed to have robbed us of the impetus we’d generated before lockdown. Happily, Leeds hit form again, and that Cardiff defeat was our last, as United recorded seven further wins (two of them with a blistering post-title winning hangover) and one solitary draw to win the league by ten clear points. Ms Carney’s enormous intellect seems to have missed the fact that this was the levellest of level playing fields, with each club having had the same “break” in their programme; it was always going to be down to which club handled such an extraordinary, unprecedented situation with the most resolution and professionalism. Let the record show that that was Leeds United, beyond any shadow of a doubt.
Given the above – and I’d be interested or more likely amused to hear any counter arguments – Karen Carney’s comments on Tuesday night were a hymn to rank amateurism, lazy, inaccurate punditry, and gross stupidity. And yet various people are screeching in horror, because the official Leeds United Twitter account had the nerve to mock this hapless woman’s ridiculous comments. To his eternal credit, Leeds owner Andrea Radrizanni took ultimate responsibility for the club’s tweet, rejecting any criticism of it on the grounds that Carney’s comments were “completely unnecessary and disrespectful to our club”. Well, quite. And well said, sir.
As usual, though, various parties are leaping on the misogyny bandwagon and claiming that it is so, so wrong to out Carney as a fool in this way. There are various problems with this. Firstly, Carney is not the only person to have been berated or mocked by possibly the most laconically witty and barbed club Twitter account of them all. Gabby Agbonlahor has had some this season, and quite rightly so, for his various inane remarks before and since United’s 3-0 dismissal of his beloved Villa. I’m acutely aware of this, because I had my say about that one, as I did more recently (on Twitter) when another inept pundit, Andy Hinchliffe, spoke fluent rubbish in and around Unted’s home game against Burnley the other day. For some reason, Messrs Agbonlahor and Hinchliffe did not immediately have the distaff side flocking to their defence – I wonder why?
Speaking rubbish on a public platform and then having people of any gender defend you because you happen to lack a Y chromosome is hardly unknown. But it’s not healthy and it’s not helpful – I’d go so far as to argue that it’s absolutely inimical to the cause of equality which I, for one, happen to hold dear. If you’re prepared to stand up and voice controversial (ie crap) opinions, then you have to be equally prepared to be held accountable for them. Either that, or we’re heading down a slippery slope whereby people who dress neither right nor left are able to say what they like with absolute impunity, as long as it’s merely crass and stupid, and not actually actionable.
Personally, I’m sick to the back teeth of lazy, amateurish comment as applied to my beloved club, particularly hoary old myths like Marcelo Bielsa‘s teams “always blowing up”. It winds me up beyond belief, whatever the provenance. When I saw Karen Carney spouting such arrant crap tonight, that was the flavour of my resulting ire – that here was another clueless pundit nicking a living by peddling easily disposed of myths about Leeds United. The only time her gender struck me was when I thought to myself, you’ve done the other female pundits no favours there, lass. I truly believe that it’s harder for a woman to make a mark in an area such as football punditry than it should be, because of the preponderance of men, some of them pretty poor fish like Agbonlahor and Hinchliffe. That being the case, a woman really should try to avoid the same lazy and cliched approach of her male counterparts, lest she strengthen the argument of those Neanderthals who hold that women should have no place in football. I certainly don’t hold that view, and that is why, when I hear the likes of Carney talking rubbish and being disrespectful of honest professionals, I will call it out – just as I have with equivalent male idiots. Gender is no excuse, and it’s no magic shield either. Those who argue that it should be need to radically rethink their own view of exactly what equality is all about.
Let’s face it, it’ll be a bit of a shock if there isn’t a penalty awarded against Leeds United today. The media darlings of man u seem to be able to rack up the spot kicks if any opposing player so much as glances at Rashford & Co in the box, and with today’s ref being a mancunian from a family of Old Trafford season ticket holders, it would hardly be a surprise to see at least one awarded today.
Leeds, we understand, are going to venture into the swamp playing their normal game, which tends to give knowledgeable Whites fans the collywobbles, thinking of all that space for St Marcus to sprint into, prior to doing the half pike with double twist once in our area. The concentration from Leeds today will have to be exemplary if we’re to avoid that scenario, along with the adjacent one of having somebody vital red carded early doors. Both of these doom-laden outcomes have come about in my recent nightmares, and they could so easily translate into reality against the Pride of Devon later this afternoon.
Whatever happens, we will doubtless carry on as per the instructions of our deity incarnate, Marcelo Bielsa. And that’s just as it should be, as he’s long ago earned the right to our unquestioning trust and confidence. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that we can acquit ourselves well against the fourteen men of Manchester, and that our eleven lads will walk out there with heads held high and do battle as we’d all wish them to.
In a move hardly calculated to reinforce perceptions of fairness and impartiality, the FA have chosen Wythenshawe born official Anthony Taylor as referee for this Sunday’s meeting of Manchester United and Leeds United at Old Trafford (kick off 4:30pm). It is, of course, quite possible that this appointment is free from any taint of bias and favouritism. The question remains: with the choice of any Premier League referee, why pick one from a man u stronghold six miles from Old Trafford, whose family are strongly rumoured to hold season tickets for the Red Devils?
Actually, it’s not quite true to say that any Premier League referee could have been picked to referee this particular match, as Yorkshire’s Martin Atkinson is ineligible due to his White Rose roots – do you begin to see the difficulty here?
The problem for Anthony Taylor is that he does not wish to be excluded from involvement in some of the so-called “biggest games in the Premier League calendar”, and is therefore most anxious to scotch any rumours that he has any emotional ties to Old Trafford. In fact, he claims, winking furiously and concealing crossed fingers behind his back, he’s a supporter of Altrincham FC – so that’s ok then.
It is further claimed in defence of Mr Taylor’s impartiality that he is a founder member of a Manchester-wide organisation of football people which was formed to promote Mancunian football as a whole, rather than the interests of any one club. Soccer Can Unite Manchester(SCUM) has been close to Anthony’s heart for many years, according to one neutral Mancunian who wished to be known only as Fred the Red. Another witness for Mr Taylor who doesn’t even live in Manchester, hailing instead from Devon, has pointed out that Leeds United’s last visit to Old Trafford had ended up with man u going out of the FA Cup. “We’m didn’t even get a penalty and Jerrrmaaaaine Beckford was only a yaaaaaarrrd onsoide, and it wasn’t fair,” said our man in Ilfracombe, neutrally, “So ‘opefully Aaaaanthony can help set thaaaat record straight”.
All eyes will be on Anthony Taylor this Sunday, which is perhaps not the most conducive of circumstances in which to operate in a professional manner. Everybody is also aware that Man U have had an extraordinarily large number of penalties awarded this season and last, and many punters are placing heavy bets, not on whether the home side will get a spot kick, but rather on how many they will get, with two being the marginal favourite. But the FA have defended their appointment of Mr Taylor, saying “We are sure that, as Howard Webb has now retired, Anthony is the best possible man for this match, and that he will act entirely as we expect him to. Come on yooouu Reeee-eds!”
Alan Hardaker, 108, has let it be known (through a medium) that he entirely approves of this appointment.
In a change from the usual controversy over VAR, a probe is to be announced into possible abuses of Chelsea‘s match ticket allocation protocols, after it was revealed that their COVID-restricted 2000 strong crowd for the fixture against Leeds United consisted entirely of excitable young girls. Questions are being asked as to the fairness or otherwise of a system that favours one gender and age group so exclusively, to the detriment of Chelsea’s traditional following which normally leans more towards male Neanderthals across all age groups. It has even been suggested that the teenage female demographic had been selected exclusively by the Stamford Bridge club, the object being to disrupt the Leeds United team with a constant, shrill and piercing scream effect. The question of whether this would not affect both teams equally was dismissed when it was pointed out that the Chelsea players were quite used to that kind of annoying noise after a year or so of Frank Lampard‘s team talks.
An FA Premier League spokesman commented “It seems appropriate to look into these claims, as it appears unlikely that a properly-conducted lottery would come up with such a weighted result. Most of the girls in the crowd admitted when questioned afterwards that they had been briefed to squeal in an irritatingly shrill manner whenever former Blues player Patrick Bamford had the ball, but that they had mistaken debutant United defender Diego Llorente for the striker. A few of the other girls had no idea they were attending a football match, believing it to be a concert featuring BTS (Bangtan Boys).
“Whatever the outcome of our enquiry, it certainly makes a pleasant change from looking into VAR controversies,” added our FA contact. “We’re pleased to note that, on this occasion, VAR worked exactly as we have always intended, as evidenced by its utter refusal to review an incident in which United winger Ian Poveda was fouled in the Chelsea penalty area and an obvious penalty was not given. So, yes, we’re obviously very satisfied with that”.
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.