Football League Effectively Confirms That Nutting Leeds Players at Elland Road is Quite Acceptable – by Rob Atkinson

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Tim Krul takes matters into his own head after Saturday’s Leeds v Norwich game

It is expected that, in line with the Football League‘s permissive policy on headbutting Leeds United footballers, Norwich City goalkeeper Tim Krul will face no further or retrospective action after his final whistle dash to the halfway line, where he “appeared to lean his head into Bamford’s” as tempers ran high.

Normally, this is the sort of aggressive action that could see a player booked or even sent off – and Krul had already been cautioned for a flying elbow into the neck of Tyler Roberts during the first half. But now the Football League have confirmed that, following the precedent set when Brentford’s Sergi Canos nutted United’s Ezgjan Alioski during a match at Elland Road back in October, it is perfectly alright for visiting players to butt anyone they like, as long as the target is wearing a Leeds United shirt.

Football League spokesman Lee D. Shater observed “Yes, this is normally the sort of thing we’d take a dim view of, of course it is. But we have to administer discipline according to precedent, and quite clearly the Brentford incident went unpunished, so Mr. Krul is in the clear as regards to this one”.

When asked by Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything if this wasn’t effectively declaring open season on Leeds players, and laying them wide open to being headbutted willy-nilly, Mr. Shater confined himself to the cryptic statement “Quite frankly, we couldn’t give a toss”. Tim Krul himself stayed true to the native Dutch meaning of his surname, “pig-ignorant”, and declined to comment.

Former League Chairman Alan Hardaker, 107, is still dead.

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How Trash Media is Giving an Undeserved Platform to the Clueless End of the Leeds Support – by Rob Atkinson

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The Leeds United purveyor of clueless rubbish – now with own media platform

One of the worst things about any Leeds United defeat is venturing on to social media afterwards and having your senses bombarded by the witless comments of the knowledge-free element of Leeds United’s online support – those armchair experts who are suddenly sure that they know far better than Marcelo Bielsa and that, into the bargain, they are somehow equipped to do a far better job, be it in player recruitment, tactics, selection or coaching. The easy thing to do, of course, is laugh at such brainless rubbish, as well as at the overgrown spoilt children who spout it. But the time after a chastening defeat is a raw and uncomfortable interlude – perhaps it’s better to stay away from Twitter, Facebook and the other mouthpieces of the terminally idiotic, and concentrate on more informed sources instead.

Sadly, though, even that course is not free from its irritant factor. Because, over the past year or so, it’s been noticeable just how many of these “news sources” seem to consist largely of websites that spend far too much time trawling the gutter section of social media, and recycling the arrant nonsense to be found there as some sort of reportage. So, you get headlines like:

‘TERRIBLE TODAY’ – THESE LEEDS UNITED FANS WERE FAR FROM IMPRESSED WITH MIDFIELDER IN WEEKEND LOSS

or:

”ALWAYS BOTTLE IT IN THE BIG GAMES” – LEEDS UNITED FANS CRITICISE UNDERPERFORMING STARS AFTER STUNNING DEFEAT

Rubbish like that will always get the clicks, of course, which has to be the sole reason for quoting such uninformed, nay, brainless sources in the first place. But it’s all so dismally disappointing, and moreover it’s incredibly depressing that so many so-called fans will provide such material in the first place, when their first and only function is to support the team. The point is that, before the advent of social media, the ramblings of such ignoramus fans would only bother those unlucky enough to live with them, or perhaps share a public bar with them in those difficult early post-defeat hours. But now, everyone can tell the world their idiot opinions and, as if that were not bad enough, there’s some eager hack ready to take such bletherings down, for quotation and recycling as “news”. That’s such a crock, I can hardly bear to write about it. As if it’s not bad enough having that IQ deficient has-been Robbie Savage foisted upon us. At least he once played the game, or at least his own version of it.

I exempt Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything, of course, from these very salient and all too relevant remarks, along with various other highly reputable Leeds United blogs, and even some from other clubs too. The problem that I’m targeting – and I’m entirely sincere about this – is the consequence of the knee-jerk reaction merchant, who simply goes onto Twitter or Facebook to vent some spleen, with no thought or intention of being taken seriously as news – and who then finds him or herself quoted as some sort of authority, even when they’re calling a respected footballer some childish name, or otherwise making solid gold asses of themselves. You’re always going to get that, sadly – the real guilty parties are those who lazily reap these worthless comments wholesale and retail them piecemeal, simply as clickbait. It’s deeply annoying – and God only knows what the professionals must make of it. The fact of the matter is that what some herbert in Bramley thinks is not news – but it’s being presented as such by cynical opportunists, along with the collective lack of wisdom of the dimmer end of Leeds United’s (or any club’s, for that matter) support.

It appears, though, that trash media will be with us for as long as there are enough clueless so-called “fans” to spout their rubbish into the ether – and that’s likely to be forever, as we live in the age of instant and unconsidered opinion. It’s almost enough to make you miss the days when the worst problem of this sort were the sad little legion of pub bores. At least, with them, at the cost of a pint of perfectly good ale, you could if you so chose empty your glass over their thick heads and douse the problem that way. Maybe some virtual equivalent of that drastic option would be a useful next step for those who seek to improve the Internet and online news experience.

I’m honestly not putting the knock on thousands of football fans out there with perfectly valid views – it’s just that those fans seem to be both in the minority and ignored by the said trash media, who only want the laughably extreme views – because that’s what gets the clicks. Every now and again, you get somebody sensible being quoted, or maybe a knowledgeable ex-pro – but it’s becoming rarer, because so many “news sources”, the online equivalents of the Sun or Daily Sport, choose this easy, lazy option of scraping the social media barrel and giving a voice to those who would, quite frankly, be better off with laryngitis.

Let these opportunist websites do a bit of honest work, for a change, and switch to seeking quotes from the clued-up and not the clueless. And let the rentagob “fans”, who seem to think they know better than a world-renowned coach like Bielsa, stick to the pub where they belong. And may they end up with those well-deserved and nobly sacrificed pints right over their empty heads.

A brief history of social security and the reintroduction of eugenics by stealth

Politics and Insights

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Introduction

Our welfare state arose as a social security safety net – founded on an assurance that as a civilised and democratic society we value the well-being and health of every citizen.

There was a cross-party political consensus that such provision was in the best interests of the nation as a whole at a time when we were collectively spirited enough to ensure that no one should be homeless or starving in modern Britain.

As such, welfare is a fundamental part of the UK’s development –  our progress – the basic idea of improving people’s lives was at the heart of the welfare state and more broadly, it reflects the evolution of European democratic and rights-based societies.

Now the UK “social security” system is anything but. It has regressed to reflect the philosophy underpinning the 1834Poor Law, to  become a system of punishments aimed at the poorest and…

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Have Swansea Breached Good Faith With Leeds, Are They in Breach of Contract with Dan James? – by Rob Atkinson

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Dan James – still, unaccountably, a Swansea player. But not a very happy one.

It was a very, very odd transfer deadline day, even by the bizarre standards of Leeds United. As most will by now know, the seemingly nailed-on transfer of Daniel James to Elland Road from Swansea City fell through – literally at the last minute. On this occasion, it sounds like it’s not the player’s fault, nor that of Leeds – instead, it would appear that this is all down to Swansea backtracking at the last minute. That seems very unprofessional, if it’s true. And, although some Swansea fans will be dancing with glee, or at least trying to hide their embarrassment, they may well now have themselves an unhappy and hostile player on their hands. It sounds as though Daniel James, having travelled up to his native Yorkshire, passed his medical and then having to hang around Elland Road for five hours, waiting to be announced as a Leeds United player, is anything but happy. 

Phil Hay of the Yorkshire Evening Post summed up in a few succinct tweets some VERY strange behaviour from Swansea City: “Essentially, deal was agreed, James passed his medical, was sat at Elland Road from about 6pm waiting to be unveiled and Swansea went quiet. Stopped responding to contact and 11pm went by. No deal sheet in with the EFL so as far as this window is concerned, James to Leeds United isn’t happening. A very awkward situation for James who told Swansea that he wanted to leave and take the move. Leeds might revisit this in the summer but that’s for another day. Big frustration to have missed out on him”.

It’s early days after a very strange evening – but there are all sorts of possibilities here. Have Swansea acted “in good faith” towards a fellow EFL club – or indeed to their own player? Does Dan James have a case to claim that Swansea are in breach of the contract between them? There will be lots more to come on this but, as it stands, Swansea seem to be bang to rights on deeply unprofessional conduct, possibly even, given their head in the sand refusal to respond to all contact from Leeds after 6pm, maladministration. Surely, at the very least, Leeds United should be making an official complaint.

It’s going to be an interesting next few days, to be sure. And, let’s not forget, Swansea City are due at Elland Road shortly. Just how will Daniel James feel about that particular match?

Would Relegated Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy Be an Asset for Leeds Next Season? – by Rob Atkinson

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Huddersfield’s finest – but could Mooy do a Premier League job for Leeds next season?

We’re talking certainties against mere possibilities here of course, as – while Huddersfield‘s overdue relegation is just about nailed-on – we cannot yet be overly confident that Leeds United will replace them in the Premier League. But if, as seems fairly likely, that does happen, it might be time to acknowledge that Huddersfield do have a couple of half-decent players – and it might be time for an opportunistic pounce for the cream of their crop.

So, former Manchester City midfielder Aaron Mooy – would he be an asset for Leeds United? He’s probably Huddersfield’s best player, although for one reason or another, he’s not been able to have too much influence in their abysmal league showing this season. Consequently, the Terriers are now a massive eleven points shy of safety, which equates to their total points gained so far, with games running out and matches against Chelsea and Arsenal coming up. To say it’s looking dicey for the dog-botherers is a bit like saying that Holland isn’t all that hilly. Town are surely doomed, and will shortly be ripe for a bit of asset-stripping – which could be highly convenient for Leeds United, if we’re on the opposite journey, and if we think that Mooy is any better than what we already have.

I’d be interested to hear people’s thoughts on that last point. Sensible people, that is. Any unnecessarily triggered or yappy responses from rattled Town fans will be referred straight to the RSPCA.

Bogusz! Leeds Have a Most Non Heinous Prospect in Polish Wonderkid Mateusz – by Rob Atkinson

Welcome to Leeds United, Mateusz Bogusz

The Leeds United development squad has been the focus of some pretty nifty recruitment work over the past few years – step forward and take a bow, Victor Orta – and the first team has reaped the rewards of some of this work over an injury-hit campaign so far. As some have said, given the level of injury absence, it’s little short of a miracle that United have remained at the top of the Championship table for so long – but part of that miracle has been the rich seam of talent emerging from the U-23s.

The latest in a long line of highly regarded young players to join, at least initially in the shadow squad, is Polish prodigy Mateusz Bogusz from Ruch Chorzów. This lad was fancied by several clubs, including Premier League Brighton domestically, but has also been on the radar of Italian giants Napoli, that move being blocked by his then club Ruch Chorzów. His record at a tender age shows why there has been such interest, and it seems clear that United have themselves a really hot prospect here. Given the way that the first team has been supplemented by youth this season, it wouldn’t be that much of a surprise to see Bogusz being involved at senior late sooner rather than later.

Hopefully, this will not spell the end of Leeds’ recruitment plans this window, with Swansea’s Daniel James still heavily linked and apparently keen on the move.

Football League Too Busy Investigating Leeds to Look Into Millwall Knife Crime – by Rob Atkinson

A number of incidents thrown up by yesterday’s Millwall v Everton FA Cup tie would seem worthy of investigation by the relevant football authorities, but it would seem likely that the Football League are preoccupied with other matters. Notable among these is the question of whether a man in a tracksuit on public land failing to avert his eyes from the sight of footballers training in plain view should constitute an offence worthy of a points deduction for their biggest member club.

Karma Nails Steve Evans as Leeds Win on a Cold Day at Rotherham – by Rob Atkinson

A succinct message to Steve Evans, late of Peterborough United

Sometimes, revenge is just so ridiculously sweet, it could honestly give you diabetes. Today is one of those days when the karmic wheel turned and stopped in just the right place for Leeds United – and on the worst possible outcome for their one-time coach Steve Evans.

Having failed to be the success at Leeds that he’d confidently expected, Steve was perhaps predictably less than enthusiastic when asked to comment on the prospects of success for the latest occupant of the hot seat from which he’d been so unceremoniously turfed out a few managers ago. The upshot was that poor Steve – although unable to deny that Marcelo Bielsa has a well-deserved global reputation as a genius – felt impelled to accentuate the negative. Would Bielsa be able to get a result when the going got tough and winter had us in its icy grip, he wondered out loud. Would he, to quote the classic example, be able to succeed on a cold day in Rotherham? How Steve must have congratulated himself on that conundrum, dreamed up as we all basked in late summer sunshine. He couldn’t have been any more pointed if he’d mentioned that these foreigners don’t like it up ’em.

Marvel, then, at the delicious irony of today’s events in Leeds United land. It was a cold day – not a Tuesday, as Steve had specified, but still, cold. And Leeds United were due at Rotherham where, glory be, in arduous circumstances against a fighting foe, they did indeed get a result, the 2-1 from behind win putting them three points clear at the Championship summit. So far, so good – but, taken in isolation, not Karma.

So let’s look at the other side of this deliciously fateful equation. What was Steve doing today? Well, the former Leeds coach was in charge of a struggling Peterborough United, at home in League One to Charlton Athletic, coached, with yet another succulent morsel of irony, by Leeds legend Lee Bowyer. The result was a 0-0 draw and evidently the last straw for the Posh powers that be. So, on the very same day that Bielsa did what Steve gleefully doubted he could, Evans was sacked, gone, unemployed. Sadly, he just couldn’t do it on a cold day at London Road, and he paid the ultimate price, with that little extra surcharge of karmic humiliation.

It’s a hard life, Steve, but forgive us if we have zero sympathy to spare. If you’d been just a little less smug in predicting failure for Bielsa, there might have been some compassion around LS11 when your own chickens chose the very same day Leeds won at Rotherham to come home to roost. Perhaps you should have been more circumspect, but that’s not really your style, is it. So I’m afraid it’s a case of, in the late, great Windsor Davies‘ immortal words: “Oh dear, how sad, never mind”.

Leeds go marching on, then, and their future looks bright, though nobody should expect United fans to be as smug as poor Steve Evans was. Maybe he’ll think twice in future? And maybe he’ll be in work again soon enough – though it’s highly doubtful if that would be at a high enough level for him to have to worry about getting a result on a cold day at Rotherham United.

Leeds United Must Beware Ending Up With an Earful of Rotherham Cider – by Rob Atkinson

Marcelo Bielsa – wily

In the great Broadway show Guys and Dolls, a young gambler sets out on his career with the following advice from his father: “One of these days in your travels, a guy is going to show you a brand-new deck of cards on which the seal is not yet broken. Then this guy is going to offer to bet you that he can make the jack of spades jump out of this brand-new deck of cards and squirt cider in your ear. But, son, do not accept this bet, because as sure as you stand there, you’re going to wind up with an ear full of cider.’

There is much wisdom to be found in classic scripts such as those produced from the tales of Damon Runyon, upon whose writings Guys and Dolls was based. Runyon’s name has even passed into the language as a byword for witty, pithy dialogue which is pleasing to the ear, has street wisdom undertones and is reminiscent of the shady world of the Broadway hood. If something is described as “Runyonesque”, you can be sure it will be clever, plausible and not lightly to be ignored or treated with anything but close attention and respect.

So when Rotherham United manager Paul Warne waxes lyrical about tomorrow’s opponents Leeds United, whilst simultaneously bemoaning his own club’s injury and sickness lists, the wise devotee of Elland Road, be they player, fan or even globally-renowned coach, will instantly be on the alert. Mr. Warne sounds full of respect for his opponents and equally full of world-weariness at the paucity of his own resources, but he is to be treated with caution, even as Runyon’s card sharp or – more classically – Greeks bearing gifts. The Rotherham boss has spoken sweetly about the Leeds United style of play, hinting at similarities with Manchester City. He has spoken dolefully of the Millers’ injuries and of a minor plague of illness affecting his squad. Already, I can almost feel the Strongbow trickling past my auricle and on towards my eardrum.

Fortunately, wily Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa will be well-prepared for such unctuous softening-up – and for him, it will just be a matter of making sure his team, named once again on Thursday to give opposition spies an even break, are similarly prepared. Leeds certainly can and should win this game, but going into it in a complacent frame of mind is a sure way of ending up pointless and leaking cider from both ears. Still, as Runyon also memorably said, “The race may not always be to the swift nor the victory to the strong, but that’s how you bet.”

Bielsa, for his part, has merely commented that both teams have their own way of playing, and that they will both go ahead and perform according to those differing plans. It’s worthy of note that the Millers have been far stronger at home than away this season, but also that they fell on their own turf to Brentford last week by four goals to two. All of which, plus Leeds’ own patchy recent form, makes this one difficult to call.

Still, in Bielsa we trust. His cards are on the table at least in part, with the starting eleven for Leeds named yesterday, though the make up of his substitute’s bench is as yet unknown. Perhaps it is from there that a jack of spades may yet emerge to squirt cider into Rotherham’s unsuspecting ears, turning the mind-game tables on that nice Mr Warne. In the topsy turvy world of Runyonland, otherwise known as the English Championship, anything is possible.

Football Differences of Leeds Utd, Norwich and Cardiff Fade Amid Triple Tragedy – by Rob Atkinson

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Leeds United’s Liam Cooper with young Toby Nye, who sadly passed away this month

As anyone who follows football online as well as in real life will know, there’s usually a bit of “banter” between fans of rival clubs – and there’s even the odd dedicated “banter” forum on the Internet, to facilitate this. Sometimes it jogs along on a fairly friendly basis, other times, friendly is not exactly the word. But occasionally – and now is one of those times – even the agitated banter between fans of clubs who really don’t normally have a lot of love for each other tends to fade away in the perspective of true human loss. At those times, football is relegated to the back seat it should always occupy when more serious and compelling matters come to the fore.

Lately, fate has dealt cruel blows to both Leeds United and Norwich City, of an almost identical nature, making such matters as Spygate or Norwich’s away dressing room makeover look as trivial and irrelevant as they really are. First, on January 12th, young United fan Toby Nye lost his brave battle against neuroblastoma, just days after his sixth birthday, passing away with his family around him. On Friday, Toby will make one last journey past the Leeds United ground at Elland Road, on the way to a celebration of his life.

The story echoed that of Bradley Lowery, the six-year-old Sunderland fan who died in July 2017, also from neuroblastoma. Bradley had formed a close friendship with ex-Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe when he became a mascot for the team, and Toby too had a big mate in the Leeds squad, with club skipper Liam Cooper among others closely involved in supporting and encouraging the young Leeds fan’s fight against this awful illness right up to the end. Cooper, who had once carried Toby on to the pitch at Elland Road, said on Twitter he was “heartbroken to hear that my little mate has peacefully passed”.

Just days later, there was news of another and tragically similar loss, as young Norwich City fan Sophie Taylor passed away at the age of five from osteosarcoma, a type of cancer that originates in the bones and had, in Sophie’s case, progressed to her lungs. Sophie, as in the cases of Bradley Lowery and Toby Nye, had formed a special attachment to one of her Norwich heroes, midfielder James Maddison. Although Maddison had moved on from Carrow Road to Leicester City last summer, he kept in touch with Sophie’s condition and was clearly devastated by news of her passing. In a touching Twitter message, Maddison wrote “Rest In Peace my little Angel. I love you always & forever.”

And, just in the past day or so, we have heard the news of Cardiff City‘s record signing Emiliano Sala who is missing after the aeroplane he was travelling on from Nantes to Cardiff disappeared from radar over the English Channel. This situation is still a developing one, but it appears that a happy ending – while devoutly hoped and prayed for – is unlikely, given the time of year and the temperature of sea waters. Meanwhile, Sala’s parents in Argentina are left hoping against hope that there will be better news forthcoming, while fans of both his old club, Nantes, and his new team Cardiff are united in what is becoming more a case of mass grief than any real hope.

Death is the one real certainty for all of us, with its timing being the main factor that will accentuate or mitigate the level of tragedy associated with each sad departure. The death of children, those poor little angels who have had such a brief shot at life before being snatched away, is, of course, acutely tragic and mourned with a level of intensity and shock, as we have seen. But the loss of a young man with talent and the world at his feet is also something profoundly to regret, and – if confirmed – will touch literally thousands of lives. In all of these cases, human nature has asserted itself, mundane rivalries and mutual irritations have been put aside – and everybody has concentrated on what’s really important, to the exclusion of club rivalries. And that is exactly as it should be.

Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything therefore extends sympathy and condolences to anyone connected to the three young angels recently departed, and also to those affected by the probable loss of a major football talent. It’s a great pity that it seems to take events such as these to remind people of what’s really important and, in that respect, I’m no less guilty than anyone else. But I suppose it’s reassuring also to know – because we have seen it happen – that, when tragedy does strike, people of different outlooks and affiliations will come together in the common cause of mutual support and comfort. At the end of the day, against a background of ever-present strife, that’s the most important thing of all.