Tag Archives: AFC Bournemouth

Danny Ings or Benik Afobe Would Be Just Right for Leeds United – by Rob Atkinson

Ings

Danny Ings – perfect fit for Leeds?

I was always being told in days gone by that you can’t have your cake and eat it – usually by the same people who’d murmur disapprovingly about “people today who want t’spice and t’ha’penny”. It’s that instinctive northern hostility to the concept of wanting the best of both worlds – but, really, what’s wrong with that? In any event, if Leeds United can now play their cards right, having banked an impressive number of millions from the onward moves of Taylor and Wood to Burnley, and with Liam Bridcutt heading for the Forest – then they could indeed end up in a win-win situation.

Since news of Wood’s departure for Turf Moor was confirmed, the names advanced as possible replacements have been many and varied. In fact, I can’t think of many realistic striker options who haven’t been mooted as possibilities – and most would do some sort of job. But in my mind, there are two outstanding candidates, both of whom would probably be loans rather than purchases, which could leave us with a nice little warchest for January, assuming that we’re somewhere near play-off contention by then.

The players I have in mind are Danny Ings, coming back from injury and down the pecking order at Liverpool, and Bournemouth‘s ex-Wolves striker Benik Afobe. For me, these two have more to recommend them in terms of fitting into the new Leeds style, than most other names so far advanced (notably Rudy Gestede). Then again, United have in Victor Orta a man who seems to have an eye for a player that bears comparison with the great Peter Taylor, who was the secret of Brian Clough’s success. So if he says Gestede is the man, then perhaps he has a point. Garry Monk appears to be pouting at the very idea though, so it may be that United will have to look elsewhere.

Afobe and/or Ings, perhaps on loan for the season, would provide Leeds with an admirable array of options up front, without depleting the treasury too much. Whether or not they are options United are seriously considering is another question – but it’s one that will have to be answered sometime over the next eight days before the transfer window slams shut.

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Cellino Confirms Cook Departure With “Not For Sale” Claim   –   by Rob Atkinson

Seasoned observers of Massimo Cellino‘s somewhat tenuous relationship with the truth will find it hard to derive much – if any – reassurance from the Italian’s claim that midfield prodigy Lewis Cook is not for sale. Sadly, the rule of thumb where il Duce is concerned appears to be that old saw “believe nothing until it has been officially denied”. At Yorkshire’s Number One club, this could more conveniently be described as “The McCormack Protocol”.

Lies

This is, of course, no way to run a football club – or any other organisation which holds the happiness and contentment of thousands of followers in its hands. It’s downright unprincipled. Such cynicism is really more the preserve of politicians and other such undesirables, operating in an arena where it is tacitly understood that misdirection and deception are simply the tools of the trade. But Cellino has brought to Elland Road standards of veracity that would make a Westminster spin doctor wince; his track record as the owner of Leeds United is littered with broken promises, slippery evasions and downright lies.

The examples of forked-tongue complex are not difficult to cite, neither are they capable of much misinterpretation. From the vow to repurchase the stadium and the training ground on Day One of his tenure, to his serial failures to stand by coach after coach, as promised, “Cellinocchio” has seen his nose growing longer with each undeniable failure to deliver on that out-dated commodity: the truth. It’s been a tawdry couple of years down LS11 way.

Now we’re just a few days into January or, as most fans think of it, the mid-season transfer window. But for Leeds fans, this time of the year has long been “Crown Jewels Sale Time”. Right now, the Leeds United treasury is crammed with diamonds, greedily coveted by predatory clubs operating at a higher level – and well aware of the short-termism that characterises United’s retention policy. 

January, crucially, is always the acid test of Leeds’ resolve to hang onto its prize assets – and it’s a test the club usually fails, leaving the fans misty-eyed at the loss of yet more potentially winning talent. Of the current crop, Sam Byram represents low-hanging fruit almost bound to be plucked before the month is out. Leeds fans have reluctantly come around to his impending loss as a result of the club’s failure to come up with an appropriate contract. The likes of Cook, Alex Mowatt and Charlie Taylor, though, would be seen as a premature cashing-in on youngsters still tied to the club and evidently content, for the moment at least.

Young Cook is the name on everyone’s lips at the moment, with firm interest registered by Premier League giants Bournemouth and a figure not unadjacent to £10m mooted. There’s rich irony there, not that any Leeds fans will relish it. Almost seven years before our Lewis was born, Leeds were beating the south coast outfit to win the second-tier championship and head on and up towards ultimate glory two years later. The same match saw the Cherries plummet into the third division, destined for a crisis that would threaten their very existence. How times change, how roles reverse. Perhaps in time our relative positions might switch back again, but that’s cold comfort in a here and now which sees Bournemouth as the shark to our small-fry status.

Given our less than completely trustworthy owner’s recent statement, it would be no surprise to see Cook go – but it would be a tragedy – and it would be further confirmation of crazy priorities at Leeds. It may be, of course, that all of this Lewis Cook brouhaha has been cynically engineered to sweeten the bitter pill of Byram’s departure and subsequent inadequate replacement. With a notoriously slithery operator like Cellino, little is too Machiavellian to rule out. But the simpler and more worrying possibility is that he’s simply lying. Again. 

As the sharks circle and the vultures flap overhead in the next few weeks, we will learn quite a bit more about our current situation under a man who has proved time and again that he’s unfit to run a club like Leeds United. And whatever happens, whatever lies and broken promises are exposed – you can be sure that the blame will be apportioned anywhere other than the office of one M. Cellino. 

What a Difference 25 Years Makes: Congratulations to AFC Bournemouth   – by Rob Atkinson

Dean Court - Premier League ground

Dean Court – Premier League ground

A few days short of 25 years since Leeds United gained their last promotion to the top flight, AFC Bournemouth – the team we beat that quarter of a century ago to send us up (and them down) – have turned the tables, securing their own place at English football’s top table.

It’s all but mathematically certain – confirmation is a mere formality. For Bournemouth not to be a Premier League side next season, a ridiculous combination of results would be needed – it ain’t gonna happen. Bournemouth are Premier League – and how they deserve it.

The paradox apparent between the Cherries’ fantastic achievement this season, and the Whites triumph on that long-ago May bank holiday afternoon, is one of contrasts and similarities. Then, as now, we beat Bournemouth home and away – back in 1990, our victory at Dean Court secured the Second Division Championship for United; Bournemouth, meanwhile, were condemned by defeat to the drop into the third tier.

This season, it could easily have been Leeds going down as Bournemouth ascended to the Promised Land. Thankfully, things didn’t switch around quite that much. But surely, any Leeds fan watching Bournemouth’s stylish destruction of Bolton Wanderers tonight could not have failed to be impressed by and pleased for a small club that has never before played in the top league. It’s a massive thing for the South coast club – and accomplished in the most exemplary fashion.

Leeds United should take note; this is a small club, but a very well-run one. They have a manager in Eddie Howe who is a round peg in a round hole in that he is obviously happy where he is, benefiting from solid backing and very much in charge of team affairs. Bournemouth even have their own Russian tycoon bankrolling their progress – but this is no Chelski situation where there are billions to chuck around. The Cherries have done it on a budget, done it as a team, done it with style. It’s a blueprint for other clubs of ambition. Leeds can learn from Bournemouth, just as we should have learned from Swansea and Southampton before them.

Leeds United and Bournemouth have had very different seasons; Leeds may have won the battles between the two clubs, but the spoils of a season-long campaign belong very definitely to Watford (who beat us twice) and Eddie Howe’s ebulliently effective, stylishly efficient, irresistible AFC Bournemouth team.

Congratulations to the two promoted sides, and to whoever may join you via the play-offs. May we at Leeds United benefit and prosper by your examples – and may we join you up there sooner rather than later.

Unexpected Bonus for Harvey and FL as Leeds Splits Start to Show – by Rob Atkinson

Elland Road: are the foundations crumbling?

Elland Road: are the foundations crumbling?

It’s been just another cataclysmic day at Elland Road. In the wake of a battling draw against Birmingham City on Saturday, when the match officials put in a disgraceful performance that will no doubt have earned them plenty of brownie points at Football League HQ, Monday brought the League’s latest confirmation that the interests of its biggest member club are a long way down the list when there are vendettas to be pursued. Massimo Cellino’s ban under the largely discredited “fit and proper test”, prompted by a legal process that has some way yet to run under Italian law, has been upheld – meaning that the King of Corn must step away from his involvement with Leeds United until April, at which point the conviction, though not finally ratified in Italian courts, will be deemed “spent” under English law. Leeds as an entity are considering their options; meanwhile the individuals concerned have had plenty to say, with alarm and confusion regrettably ensuing.

Sadly, too, there are signs that the strain is beginning to show behind the scenes at Elland Road. This is potentially calamitous, but really not all that surprising; embattled is hardly an adequate word to describe the position of the club throughout this torturous season. Great Britain in the early part of World War II could scarcely have been more isolated or heavily assailed from all directions than the hapless West Yorkshire pariahs of Leeds. It appears highly unlikely on this occasion that a convenient Eisenhower figure is going to appear over the horizon, perhaps backed up by the cavalry. If Leeds are to fight on, they will – as ever – fight alone.

Such a siege situation historically demands unity and solidarity within the ranks as well as clarity and leadership from the top. If you’re lacking those elements, you can rest assured that your walls will ultimately be breached and the barbarian hordes will inundate your enclave with gorily fatal results. At Leeds, the splits are beginning to show – and under the pressure of universal hatred and contempt, those splits, the cracks just now appearing in the very foundations of the club, are liable to widen as they threaten to topple the whole edifice. This is an outcome that Shaun Harvey and his crooked cronies at the Football League must devoutly have wished for – but scarcely dared to hope might happen.

The alarming thing about any football club in this type of situation is the marginal advantage it affords all of its rivals. In professional football, as in any top level sport, those margins separating success from disaster are always fine. Games are won and lost, seasons succeed or fail, clubs stand or fall, not by gulfs of clear blue water, but by details of fine tuning. For Leeds, against whom it is an article of faith for rival clubs to raise their game – and engaged as they are in the dog eat dog frenzy at the foot of the table – the writing is now very clearly on the wall. The situation prior to the latest Black Monday was serious enough. Now, things have taken on a still more sombre and frightening aspect.

The reactions from within the club to the League’s latest knife in the back have been confusing, dissonant, unhelpful. At a time when a United front is absolutely crucial, Leeds seems to be an organisation divided within and against itself. The signals from the top – from Cellino himself –  have been of apathy, despair, defiance and then, disastrously, of a most bizarre attempt at self-aggrandisement, all in swift and bewildering succession. First we heard that the Italian was unsure as to whether he would take the reins up again at the end of this present ban. Then it was, well, someone else will sign the cheques; nothing has changed. This was swiftly followed by a rabble-rousing “I’ll be back” in the best Arnie tradition, as he seemed set fair to terminate the League in all its Machiavellian plotting. But at the last, as Monday ebbed away into Tuesday match-day, we had Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino blurting that three players – named as Bianchi, Sloth and Doukara – wish to leave the club in the event of Cellino’s appeal being rejected.

Just how this might be imagined to help the situation is nigh-on impossible to explain – so I won’t even try, as it’s honestly beyond me. But I could provide a list as long as your arm of ways in which such a pronouncement is shatteringly unhelpful. Firstly, we must assume that none of the trio identified as wantaways can be involved in the match-day squad for the visit of league leaders Bournemouth. How can they be? They’ve been publicly outed as the first of the rats clamouring to dive off the sinking ship. Their relationship with team-mates, management and fans must surely be so compromised that they will be of no use in any game, let alone one so difficult. It’s back to that fine-tuning mentioned earlier. In the run up to kick-off in a professional football match, everything has to be exactly right. There is certainly no place for the kind of stun grenade that Cellino has carelessly lobbed into the middle of sensitive preparations for a battle with the usual, highly-motivated opposition.

Even if it’s all just hype and brinkmanship, and the players concerned have no intention of seeking to absent themselves from a struggling, failing club – the damage may well have been done. Even if there are no schisms within the squad, even if Redders does not feel that he’s been dealt an exceptionally cruel hand by his maverick owner – what are the poor, bewildered fans to make of it all? Just what will the atmosphere be like at Elland Road, a ground that should be a cauldron of white-hot support to test the nerve of any opposition? How much good will it do Leeds United if that normally vociferous support are stunned and demoralised, reeling from the news that a good proportion of the squad want out? In the event, Casper Sloth seems to have come out and denied that he’s anything other than totally committed to the Leeds United cause, asserting his own commitment to fight for the shirt and produce better than we have so far seen from him. But, welcome though that might be of itself, doesn’t it merely emphasise the utter failure of Leeds United’s personnel to be seen to be singing from the same hymn sheet? The damage has most likely been done – just how much of a disunited United side will take the field against the table toppers, who are seeking to avenge an unlikely early-season defeat on their own patch?

We keep on saying this – but it’s difficult to think of a worse day in the club’s history, and that is not primarily down to the corrupt and foolish League’s latest travesty; it is more down to the appearance of turmoil and chaos within what should be the Leeds United “circle of trust”. You might argue for the post points deduction era as being comparable in terms of crisis, but that whole minus 15 thing was demonstrably a unifying factor in Dennis Wise’s cobbled-together League One squad. Now, at a time when, more than ever, they need to be able to rely on each other, that priceless quality of unity seems to have been recklessly, thoughtlessly tossed away as intemperate mouths have spoken without caution or reason, with no regard to team spirit or the need to be together and fight a common foe. It might now be down to the fans to somehow overcome their own doubts and trepidation, to get behind the team and inspire them as few if any bands of supporters anywhere are better able to do. But what sort of shape is that support in right now? Not very happy, not very united and not very impressed with the man who had appeared as a saviour – that, surely, is the absolute least of it.

It would be just like Leeds United to bounce back after all, in the course of what must be a Tuesday of healing and rapprochement. It’s happened before, hasn’t it, and not so long ago at that. In the wake of last season’s lowest ebb, with the summary dismissal of McDermott by an owner not yet in situ and Sky TV’s urgent efforts to persuade our star striker he should be demanding a transfer, the team responded and, after a nervous start, utterly destroyed Huddersfield Town 5-1 with that striker – I forget his name – notching a hat-trick. It’s not impossible that a similar scenario could unfold with Bournemouth in opposition (and probably feeling that crisis-torn Leeds are there for the taking). Morison to score three, anyone? It’s not impossible – it’s merely bloody unlikely.

Whatever the outcome of the match on Tuesday evening, Leeds have to get it right in the hours and days immediately afterwards. They have to put a stop to all of these mixed messages – and certainly there should be an immediate halt to any tactic of broadcasting the message of “the players love me so much, they don’t want to stay without me”. Wiser counsel must prevail and, with that in mind, it is to be hoped we hear a bit less of certain highly vocal and emotional parties – and a lot more of the new Chief Operating Officer, Matt Child. His was the sole voice of reason and sanity on Monday; amid all of the confusion swirling around him, he spoke quite well. He might just offer some sort of navigable route out of the morass in which we currently flounder.

The one thing we cannot hope for is any sympathy from outside of the club, its support and a very few gentlemen of the press who have demonstrated in the past their unwillingness to follow the herd on its Leeds-hating stampede towards the common gutter. So, we are just going to have to make the best of things, as usual, strive to support the team against the south-coast high-flyers on Tuesday evening – and simply hope against hope (and against all realistic probability) for better times ahead. Surely, even this remorselessly grim season must yet have some positive moments in store for us?

 

Leeds United’s Giuseppe Bellusci Coccyx Conundrum – by Rob Atkinson

The Warrior has landed

The Warrior has landed – and Liam Cooper looks worried

One undoubted hero for Leeds United so far this season has been Giuseppe “The Warrior” Bellusci, a centre back with a penchant for rampaging forward, delivering ballistic free-kicks and delicate chips – and, significantly, a most perturbing goal celebration.

Don’t get me wrong. There is no greater advocate than this blog for players who, upon donning the famous white shirt, are prepared to “bust their ass”, as our transatlantic friends have it, in the name of Leeds. We fans of Yorkshire’s premier club like nothing better than to see some effort being put in, some never-say-die attitude, a willingness to get some blood on the old boots. It’s what we demand of our heroes around these parts and if all this fearsomeness and belligerence can be allied to some genuine ability too, then so much the better.

The thing is – nobody with the interests of the club at heart wants to see this “ass-busting” become too much of a literal thing. And this is where the worries start with our Giuseppe. Because, when he scores, he has this celebration – first he does the traditional running around in small circles before fleeing for the nearest bunch of United fans, pursued by delighted team-mates. But then, it becomes a little scary as he ends his run by jumping into the air, tucking his knees up before extending his legs before him in flight – and landing square on the base of his spine, impacting the unforgiving earth with a hefty bump.

The first time I saw this, after his stellar dead ball strike at Bournemouth, I put it down to the fact that he’d just dispatched a worldy in a game where United had looked likely to get properly thumped. Some relief and delight was understandable – but even so, it made me wince. Bellusci is a meaty lad, and when his full weight hits terra firma from a height of even four feet, said weight jolting through his lower spine – well, you just have to fear for the headstrong guy’s coccyx.

The painful truth

The painful truth

The coccyx, for those who do not know, is the vestigial remnant of what used to be a fully-functional tail and dates back to that shadowy period of history when we all lived in trees and needed a prehensile “fifth limb” to aid us in negotiating our way from branch to branch. Those of us outside Lancashire have long since evolved beyond the need for such equipment but, nevertheless, we have that small, bony leftover at the base of the spine, much as whales still have redundant finger-bones in their flippers. Evolution, it appears, frequently fails to tidy up behind itself. The coccyx serves no function nowadays, save to remind us of the time when we all looked like Wayne Rooney – but it is a particularly vulnerable spot, as anyone who has sat down abruptly on a hard surface might testify. The risk of injury to the goal celebrant who makes a habit of abusing his coccyx (if you’ll pardon that expression) is very real indeed.

It’s lovely to see Bellusci score – obviously we will all hope he gets many more goals both this season and beyond. The sight of him rampaging forward against poor old Huddersfield was beautiful to behold; he took a return pass from Antenucci and exquisitely flighted the ball onto the Terriers’ crossbar for the redoubtable Mirko to volley the rebound into an empty net. Poetry in motion. On this occasion, as he hadn’t scored himself, Giuseppe merely modified his anguish at being denied into arms-raised joy at going two up after all. But, last time out, he was at it again with the coccyx abuse, after he’d slotted home beautifully, left-footed, to equalise against the Wendies. It was now obvious that this potentially painful celebration was not just a Bournemouth one-off. The nutter clearly intends to do it every time – and I’m very much afraid that disaster is inevitable; especially when the ground gets harder as the nights draw in.

Somebody needs to have a word with the lad. He’s a cult hero already, right up there with our superb, panther-like goalie Silvestri. He’d be a big loss to the team if he went and did himself a mischief the next time he provides a world-class finish. There must be other, perhaps more elegant ways of letting off some steam after notching. Hasselbaink’s half-baked cartwheel used to trouble me slightly, but it was nowhere near athletic enough to pose much of a risk to the scorer. Something ebullient, but safe – that’s what we’re really looking for here.

Perhaps if anybody with Darko’s ear (or even access to the Sheriff himself) reads this, then they might make a subtle suggestion that a bit more caution could be observed? After all, such a crunching jolt might not only imperil this valuable player’s coccyx – he might even end up biting his bloody tongue off, or wrenching something vital in the abdominal region. Such thoughts can bring tears to the eyes, and cause a troubled shadow to cloud the brow, of even the strongest fan.

Obviously, in the heat of the moment, it’s not easy to restrain the joy of scoring for Leeds. I can well believe that’s the case. But it’s frankly painful to watch one of our heroes risking his mobility and wellbeing in quite such a cavalier fashion and, if that’s how he is going to celebrate every time he scores – well, quite frankly, I’d rather leave the goal-getting to Noel Hunt, Steve Morison or, slightly more realistically, Silvestri himself.

Fellow Leeds fans, I kid you not.

Leeds’ Bournemouth Humiliation Worsened by PR Calamity – by Rob Atkinson

Don't forget the crowd bonus, Gaffer

Don’t forget the crowd bonus, Gaffer

You won’t hear me going on about tactical issues, team shape, diamond formations and all that malarkey. I know my limits. I have played football, mind you – in the distant days of my youth. I was goal-hanger-in-chief for Bradford College 1st XI in 1981/82, scoring in every game I played. I even scored a hat-trick past a keeper who’d played in a World Cup Qualifier. OK, it was for Oman. But still…

And even when my full-scale football days were over, I still played 5-a-side well into porky middle-age, undeterred by a snapped cruciate ligament.  I look back on my playing days very fondly, but I don’t kid myself I know the game on a deep tactical level, so I refuse to pontificate about it.  I know there are plenty who have no such reservations, but I also know that the pros think of these types as a rich source of amusement – not to be taken seriously.  So I’d rather stick to what I know for my scribblings.

For instance, I know enough about Public Relations to sort out the good, the bad and the ugly from the plain disastrous.  It was PR of that latter variety – the really crappy end of that particular stick – that Leeds United now stand guilty of, after yet another dire performance on the field. The team was thrashed out of sight by Bournemouth, a club who had never before beaten the once-mighty United.  Clearly, these are dark days, though Bournemouth are a decent side with a go-ahead young manager in Eddie Howe.  So it’s no real disgrace for this Leeds squad to lose to them – but, as is the case far too often with the modern-day Whites, it was the spineless manner of the defeat which really rankled.

Even that, though – even the appalling defending and general laxity of play – must pale into insignificance by the side of some of the quotes emanating from the United camp in the wake of this defeat.  The players, we are given to understand, are distracted – talking about the club ownership issues and, much more specifically, whether they are going to get paid.  This information is offered almost hopefully, as a sort of mitigating background to the inadequacy of the football Leeds are playing these days.  Bloody hell, guys.  Really?

Trust me – nobody has more sympathy for the working man and his right to get paid than I do (I also extend this courtesy to working women – outside the field of professional football).   I’m one of your actual left-wing reds under the bed, a proper old-fashioned socialist.  I’m deeply suspicious of management and I’m a strong supporter of workers’ rights, including the right to withdraw their labour if necessary.  What I’m not by any means as enthusiastic about is a bunch of extremely well-paid young men seeing fit to grouch – in these parlous times – about the possibility of not being paid on time, when their average bottom line must be forty grand a month at least.

To my mind, this is obscenely disgusting, and it is a PR disaster of the first magnitude that somebody has seen fit to voice such a matter as in any way excusing or making more understandable some of the players’ currently pathetic levels of performance.  When you think of the times we live in – times when we’re thanking God it’s been a mild winter so far, because otherwise pensioners face agonising heat-or-eat choices – it makes the blood boil, surely, to hear even a suggestion that athletes earning up to and beyond half a million quid a year should be grizzling about their lot if force majeure necessitates a temporary reaction to acute cash-flow issues.

There are people out here in the real world actually starving, for heavens’ sake. Yes – quite literally fading away from malnutrition in this first-world country of ours, reduced to subsistence on food-bank parcels and watching, horrified, as their kids become vulnerable to scurvy and rickets.  And yet, in this bleak context, you have the luckiest of young chaps, earning their munificent living in a manner most of us could only dream of, actually having the gall to grumble that this week’s £15k pay-cheque might not turn up on time – and this, apparently, is putting them off their game.  The sheer nerve and bad taste of that makes my head spin.  I don’t want to name names, but the person who has raised this issue of the poor players “worrying” must surely wish that, on that particular subject, he’d kept his gob firmly shut.

These are bad, hard times for Leeds United, there’s no denying that.  But at the end of the day, football is only a game – and the players who are so preoccupied with thoughts of the next fat wage-packet that they’re seemingly incapable of kicking a ball straight, must surely lack even the most remote sense of proportion.  So what if this week’s fifteen grand doesn’t show up?  What did you spend last week’s on, or that of a week before?  Are you down to the last six-figure sum in the bank yet?  Honestly lads, my heart bleeds for you, it really does.

There’s a real world out there, and most of the people living in it would laugh tears of bitter mirth at the very idea of a professional footballer at a club like Leeds United actually whinging about or even worrying about money.  As a breach of good taste and etiquette, that knocks passing port to the right into a cocked hat.  Things may well get a good deal worse at Leeds before they get better – but even if they do, all the sympathy should be reserved for the fans, those long-suffering fans who follow them everywhere, at vast expense, leaving home fans in awe of their sheer gutsiness wherever they visit.  There was the usual raucous army down at Bournemouth, most of whom will have arrived home, cold and dispirited and about £100 lighter in the pocket, sometime in the dawn hours of Wednesday morning.  How will they feel when they hear about the players’ petty worries?  Not too impressed, I’ll be bound.  They might well think – what if nurses, or soldiers, or fire-fighters decided to stick the bottom lip out and sulk when things got a bit stretched financially?  Where would we all be then?  And they might well be tempted to snap at a discontented footballer: “Honestly – grow up”.

Leeds United as a club doesn’t have a lot going for it at the moment.  It doesn’t own its stadium or its training ground.  It’s beset by takeover crises and an ownership and investment situation which seems to worsen by the hour.  But what it does have is undeniably the best support around – it’s the last real asset of the Leeds United “brand” and as such, it’s something the club simply cannot afford to squander.  But really – even a fanatic will run out of enthusiasm at some point – probably about the same point a saint loses the last shreds of his or her patience.  It’s a finite resource, like anything else. And if there’s one thing guaranteed further to sicken a devoted fan who has just made a round trip of hundreds of miles at great expense to see the heroes in white get well and truly stuffed, it’s to be made aware that those so-called heroes can think only about the next wedge of cash due to them – and sadly not about those poor fans, without whom there would be no game of football for them to get overpaid to play.

That’s a terribly sad situation, and I truly hope that all parties to this tasteless leak of unpalatable information get a lot of earache for it, together with a stern reminder of what real life is like out there in the real world. I’m a devoted Leeds United fan, and there’s not much about my beloved club that could ever genuinely nauseate me.

But this thing has – it really, really has.

Mighty Leeds Crush 10-man Cherries Despite Penalty Miss – by Rob Atkinson

Image

Sometimes a hard-earned result after a run of defeats can do the trick, reinvigorate a team, instil confidence and set them on a much more positive run.  Sometimes.  There must be some doubt as to whether this struggle to beat a Bournemouth team reduced to 10 men after only just over half an hour will do that trick, inspiration-wise.  The initial lift provided by Cherries goalkeeper Ryan Allsop’s dismissal for a professional foul was immediately negated when Ross McCormack missed the resultant penalty, sub keeper Darryl Flahavan saving the Scot’s weakish effort.  That “here we go again” gloom descended on Elland Road and the two teams headed in at half time level.

The second half was better in a way it couldn’t really help but be after the disappointment of the first.  The usual procession of half-chances and fluffed shots had in the end come to a familiar outcome: no goals for Leeds.  The deadlock though was broken when Bournemouth’s depleted side finally cracked as McCormack got onto the end of a Stephen Warnock low pass to sweep the ball past Flahavan from close range.  Leeds had been somewhat more effective since the Cherries had been reduced to ten, and the feeling was that they could now go on to capitalise.

Typically though, it would not be that simple.  Another set-piece to defend on 73 minutes, another awful mix-up at the back for Leeds as Eunan O’Kane headed on for Lewis Grabban to equalise. 1-1 and Leeds were threatening to throw away at least two points. That impression was reinforced when Flahavan then produced a one-handed save to deny Rudy Austin, but after 80 minutes of embarrassingly tense struggle, former Bournemouth defender Jason Pearce managed to knock the ball down for sub Dom Poleon to lash in the winner.

It was the kind of game that could so easily have proved a disaster for Leeds, even at this early stage of the season.  The psychological import of failing to win against ten men, on the end of such a dismal run too, was too horrible to contemplate. As it was, United prevailed and they can draw a line under this performance and move on.  Things will need to be a lot better against Derby at the weekend if the Whites are to build on this less than convincing win.