Tag Archives: Arsenal FC

Leeds, Liverpool Fans: Demand New Contract for Man Utd Hero van Gaal   –   by Rob Atkinson

 
Times are hard for Man United and their beleaguered Dutch genius of a manager Louis van Gaal. Following their latest defeat, at old rivals Liverpool, rumours persist that the axe is poised to terminate the former Holland coach’s tenure at Old Trafford. This would be a tragic turn of events for fans of some of England’s premier clubs, who are united in their conviction that Louis van Gaal is doing a fantastic job at Manchester United.

Fans of some of the country’s foremost clubs, as well as Newcastle United, West Ham and Tottenham Hotspur, have been invited to sign and share a petition calling upon Malcolm Glazer, the Man U CEO, to recognise the folly of a managerial change at this point, and immediately award van Gaal a new and improved five year contract, during in which he would hopefully be able to see through the job he’s started so promisingly to a conclusion that most football fans would wholeheartedly welcome. 

Fans of Liverpool, Manchester City, Leeds United and Arsenal, among others, are invited to sign and share the Change.org petition in support of van Gaal’s retention with the Premier League also-rans.

We at Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything are so impressed with the job van Gaal is doing, that we have no hesitation in endorsing this petition. We would urge our readers to sign it at once and share it as widely as possible. 

For the good of the game and the contentment of millions of people outside of Devon, Cornwall and the Home Counties, the success of this campaign is vital. 

Louis van Gaal must stay at Man U!

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Top Ten Most Embarrassing “Celebrity” Spurs Fans – by Rob Atkinson

An Embarrassment of Spuds

An Embarrassment of Spuds

With undeniably cool fans such as Newsnight’s Grand Inquisitor Jeremy Paxman and Ralph Ineson (Finchy in “The Office“) behind the mighty Leeds United, it can fairly be said that we don’t suffer from an “embarrassing celebrity fans” problem. But, as I wrote just the other day, Man U certainly do – and on the evidence below, so do those other mid-table EPL also-rans, Tottenham Hotspur.

Celebrity fanship is a real phenomenon nowadays – much more so than back in the Eighties when being a football supporter was apt to have you marked down as a dangerous psychotic, fit only for a back-to-front jacket and the padded cell. But football is just so respectable these days – the social cachet is such that no decently self-promoting celeb can afford to be without his or her “lifelong love affair” with (insert name of club here). And whoever that club may be will come to be linked in the public mind with the celeb in question – so it’s a choice not to be taken lightly, and there’s some pressure to get it right first time or lay yourself open to charges of opportunism and infidelity – as with Zoe Ball who was a Liverpool fan but brazenly jumped ship to “support” Man U. Here are ten ‘celeb’ Spurs fans who, after another under-achieving season, might now wish they’d chosen more wisely.  Swift change to Arsenal, anybody…?

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10. Warren Mitchell

Warren MitchellMitchell isn’t all that intrinsically embarrassing as he’s a pretty good actor both on screen and in the theatre, so he only just sneaks onto this list in the least-cringeworthy tenth position.  The point is, of course, that he is most famous by far for his portrayal of a West Ham fan as Johnny Speight’s brilliant satirical creation Alf Garnett.  Many of his legion of fans – or Alf’s legion of fans – think he’s a genuine loud-mouthed, bigoted, ignorant ‘Ammer. And all the time, he’s actually a loud-mouthed, bigoted, ignorant Spurs fan! Not that there’s any other kind of Spurs fan, of course – as we shall go on to see…but still.  How ironic is that?

9. Michael Fish MBE

Michael-FishMichael’s claim to fame is embodied in the letters following his name – which do not, as might be supposed, denote some anachronistic patrician honour. They actually stand for “Major Bloody Error”, and refer to the most outstanding meteorological cock-up of our times.

On 15 October 1987, Michael was quietly going about his business, guessing whether dark clouds might mean rain, when he mentioned that a woman had called in to the BBC, saying she’d heard a hurricane was on its way.  “… well, if you’re watching, don’t worry, there isn’t!”, smiled Fishy, reassuringly.

A few short hours later, the hurricane that Michael had failed to see coming hit South East England with a ferocity unparalleled in three centuries. Most embarrassing, of course, for Michael Fish – in fact he hadn’t been quite as embarrassed from that day till the times when “Hurricane Manchester City” and “Hurricane Arsenal” hit his favourite team Spurs and blew them away completely.

In later years, Fish fishily tried to excuse himself by claiming he’d been referring to a hurricane in Florida. Hmmm. It’s a shame Spurs couldn’t come up with so creative an excuse after that famous 0-6 debacle at the Etihad really – isn’t it?

8. Peter Purves

PurvesThese names are starting to get a bit cringier now, as we move away from the more mildly embarrassing end of the list. Peter Purves was of course one of the famous “Val, John & Pete” trio, still remembered by those of my generation as the quintessential, definitive Blue Peter team.  Sadly, Peter was best known for being neither John nor Val, inhabiting a sort of vague hinterland of anonymity as the other two made their names with sticky-back plastic or sky-diving. Poor Peter Purves was the least popular of the three by a distance, and indeed it is claimed that even Petra and Patch, the Blue Peter dogs, and Freda, the programme’s tortoise, got more fan-mail than he did. Purves is also reasonably well-known as an early Dr. Who sidekick, as well as for having a surname that sounds comically like “pervs”.

Speaking of which, in 2008, co-presenter on Blue Peter Val Singleton revealed that she’d had “a brief fling” with ‘Pervs’. Blue Peter indeed.  I’ll let you insert (fnarr) your own “Val’s knickers” jokes here.

7. Egil Olsen

Egil OlsenEgil Olsen is a man about whom quirky and diverse facts abound. He famously wears wellies to work, and was once sacked, partly for his scruffy appearance.  He is a fanatical adherent of zonal marking, and was seen after one match, head in hands, deeply despairing that his beloved system had been so ineffective – with atrocious marking leading to two out of three goals conceded by Wimbledon at Bradford.

He was sacked on another occasion, this time by mail, for being “too nice” – by the Iraqi national team, forsooth.  He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of geographical trivia, his nickname as a player was “Drillo”, and he was a player once and manager four times for a team called Frigg.  But most bizarrely of all, Egil is a Spurs fan.  Now explain THAT, if you possibly can.

6. Sid “RickAAAAAYYY” Owen

sid owenIt’s confusing about Sid. Some sources have him as a Spurs fan, others – like the ever-reliable Wikipedia, for instance – claim that he’s actually much more enlightened than that, following Arsenal.

I prefer to go with a gut feeling, and base my verdict on the verifiable facts. He’s a bit of a one-hit wonder as an actor, serving a long stint on “Eastenders” as “RickAAAAYYYY”, his character being mostly engaged in slinking away round corners as a foghorn-voiced ginger actress bellowed his name repeatedly. Such is the stuff of stardom, but Sid gave it all up in 2012 after 24 years, citing heavily traumatised eardrums. It is rumoured that Eastenders writers are still trying to come up with another line that Patsy Palmer can say convincingly.

All may not be lost for Patsy though, as RickAAAAYYYY may well be back – Eastenders seeming to be his refuge of choice after failed ventures, such as Strictly Come Dancing, elsewhere.  Looking judiciously at this record of poor decisions and embarrassing situations, the answer to Sid’s football-supporting conundrum appears fairly obvious: Spurs. As Jimmy Nail once said of suspected Tottenham fan Wayne on “Auf Wiedersehen, Pet” – you can just tell.

5. Emma “Baby Spice” Bunton

BuntonEmma, the product of an unlikely union between a karate instructor and a milkman, has had a chequered life and career. She was making a reasonable impression as a wannabe actress, but showed signs of the direction she wanted to take when she turned down the role of a habitual drug-user, saying that she wanted to maintain a wholesome image – presumably she felt that the drug role on top of supporting Spurs would be just too much.

Emma then joined a pop group named Touch, becoming one of five girls united by a common determination not to let a total lack of singing ability prevent them from ending up as stars.  A swift name-change to The Spice Girls, and they were on their way.  Bunton was dubbed “Baby Spice” due to her pigtails, her babydoll dresses and her “girly girl” image.

As someone who has made a little talent, some freckles and a great deal of window-dressing go a mighty long way, Bunton may be seen as possibly the most outstanding example of the archetypal Spurs fan – but she’s a fair old way from being the most embarrassing out there.  Read on…

4. Rupert Grint

Rupert-Grint-139019As an outstanding success in the Harry Potter franchise, playing schoolboy wizard Ron Weasley in all of the films, Grint’s embarrassment coefficient really depends mainly upon his being ginger, and of course a Spurs fan – a lethally-shameful combination. Grint had landed the role of Ron Weasley at the age of 11 by sending in a video of himself, rapping about his reasons for wanting the part. Despite his previous experience amounting only to local theatre groups and school plays, the casting team asked to see him – and the rest is history.

As with the other two of the three main characters, Grint grew up with his role, and became closely identified with Ron Weasley. Rarely can an accident of hair colour – though the ginger gene is extremely dominant – have led to such a successful and unheralded career.

Rumours abound, and what is known as “fan fiction” too, about Ron’s supposed romantic entanglement with the disconcertingly cute Hermione Granger.  All of this would not normally cause too much interest in the world outside Hogwarts – but in the context of Spurs’ pallid performances since they sold their only half-decent player, it’s positively riveting.  And, let’s face it – we had to have at least one ginger in an embarrassing celebs article.

3. Bruce Forsyth

brucieWe’re getting to the really queasy end of the list now. It’s time to contemplate Brucie, so clamp your jaws tight to stave off the inevitable nausea – and have a sick-bag handy, just in case.

The stance of this article could be summed up in Orwellian style, thus: “Arsenal fan good, Spurs fan bad”.  But Bruce has gone way beyond the pale, claiming to be a fan of both clubs.  This heinous position is comparable to that of a solider who claims to support both Confederate and Unionist sides, or someone who claims to be – and I shudder to even write these words – both Leeds United and Man U.  Grooogh. It’s THAT bad.

Apparently, Brucie – known as “Boy Bruce, the Mighty Atom” at the start of his 75-year (and counting) showbiz career – originally supported Arsenal, but when the Gunners’ ground was requisitioned in World War II for air-defence searchlights, their home games were played at Spurs’ White Hart Lane – and this apparently led the then youngish Forsyth to support both teams – the act, we may agree, of an unnatural freak.

In a lifetime’s career as an old-style vaudeville entertainer, Brucie has never been anything other than in demand, proving that, for the type of people who like Bruce, Bruce is just the kind of performer they like. Latterly, his act has been mainly about catch-phrases, speculation around the health of his various toupees, and the increasing prominence of his chin. He will still eagerly essay the odd dance step here and there, even at the age of 106 – before tottering off to his bath chair with his latest blonde nymphet.

Bruce may claim to live on both sides of the Arsenal Spurs divide – but with a CV like his – he’s just GOT to be Tottenham.

2. Richard Littlejohn

LittlejohnWhat we have here is a real-life Alf Garnett, and not the cosy, satirical creation designed to heap ridicule upon an ignorant, racist bigot – but the genuine article; a man whose views are so disgusting that it is a national disgrace he has a platform of any sort to expound them.

Should anyone doubt the depth of Littlejohn’s prejudice and hate, there’s a clue in the fact that he writes a twice-weekly column for the Daily Heila publication that depends heavily for material upon the British Government’s many hate crusades, which they then faithfully preach as fact to their readership of nasty little suburban fascisti.  He previously contributed similar garbage to the Sun.

A count of the number of references Littlejohn makes to homosexuality in his columns has been recorded, in the Guardian‘s annual “Littlejohn Audit”. This stated: “In the past year’s Sun columns, Richard has referred 42 times to gays, 16 times to lesbians, 15 to homosexuals, eight to bisexuals, twice to ‘homophobia’ and six to being “homophobic” (note his scornful inverted commas), five times to cottaging, four to “gay sex in public toilets”, three to poofs, twice to lesbianism, and once each to buggery, dykery, and poovery. This amounts to 104 references in 90-odd columns – an impressive increase on his 2003 total of 82 mentions. There is, alas, no space for us to revisit the scientific study which found obsessive homophobes more responsive to gay porn. But Richard, we’re begging you: talk to someone.”

Littlejohn was forced to adopt a temporarily lower profile when, in December 2012, he wrote an article criticising teacher Nathan Upton for returning to the same school – after announcing gender reassignment surgery to become Lucy Meadows – instead of going for a different post somewhere else.  In March 2013, Lucy Meadows was found dead, apparently a case of suicide.  A subsequent inquest found press coverage of her sex change to have been “ill-informed bigotry” and that Richard Littlejohn (a nom de plume intended to deflect attention from his embarrassing real-life name of John Littledick) had “…carried out what can only be described as a character assassination, having sought to ridicule and humiliate Lucy Meadows and bring into question her right to pursue her career as a teacher”.  Petitions calling for Littlejohn to be sacked gained 240,000 signatures.

Richard Littlejohn: hack writer, bigot, homophobic bully, racist, pedlar of hatred and, last and least, Spurs fan.  Not a pleasant creature, is he?

1. Iain Duncan-Smith

IDSAnd now we have one of the very few candidates for a person who plumbs even greater depths of depravity and loathsomeness than Littlejohn. Iain Duncan-Smith is the discredited Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in Cameron’s government. He is also a failed former Tory leader.

In his current role he, too, has blood on his hands, with his hated and widely-criticised “Bedroom Tax” driving many to the brink of despair – and at least one person allegedly to suicide. IDS is not a man to take disagreement or contradiction at all well. He tends to dismiss criticism of his policies with an airy “I feel I am right”, despite anecdotal evidence mounting up in support of the contrary view. If pressed on any point where he feels some difficulty in defending his position, he tends to resort to snapping curtly at the questioner, having a tantrum and stomping off. He has, however, been caught bang to rights in misrepresenting official statistics with a view to supporting his claims that the policies he has pursued have been effective. In this, he has been shown to be, at best, incompetent and deluded; at worst, a barefaced liar without any scruples at all.

Famously, when Duncan-Smith was asked if he would be able to live on state benefits of £53 a week, he responded “If I had to, I could”. Immediately, a petition was launched by Dom Aversano, a musician, challenging IDS to do just that. After the petition went viral and collected thousands of signatures, IDS beat an undignified retreat, calling the petition a “stunt” and insisting he had nothing to prove, having subsisted on benefits earlier in his life. It later transpired that, in at least one of the periods when IDS claimed he was living on the breadline, he was knocking off an heiress and living rent-free in her flat. Mr Aversano’s petition eventually closed with 482,756 signatures, which is certainly quite a well-supported “stunt”.

Iain Duncan-Smith is a testy former Tory leader, who appears to relish the misery he is currently inflicting on thousands of people who can neither hit back, nor defend themselves. He is a bully, a cheat, pathologically fanatical about punishing the poor and succouring the rich, and a proven liar. He is also a Spurs fan – which, contrary to my usual views, might just be the nicest thing about him. Since the overdue demise of Thatcher, (the Iron Chicken or ‘Attila the Hen’) IDS has risen to the very top of many people’s “Party at my place when so-and-so carks it” list. Needless to say, he’s top of mine. Speed that glorious day.

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Tottenham-Hotspur-logoEvery truly big club has its share of celebrity fans.  And, as you’ve seen above, so has Spurs. But some are just embarrassing and – as the more reprehensible end of this list has shown – some are truly appalling. I’ve had the odd go at Spurs in the past, largely because – even though I’m Leeds through and through – I have a great regard and respect for Arsenal. But writing this article has given me a surprising feeling of sympathy for Tottenham.  Any club with Richard Littlejohn AND Iain Duncan-Smith among its aficionados merits our empathy, our understanding, even our pity. No-one deserves to be tarred with that brush – not even Tottenham Hotspur.

Scintillating Arsenal So Nearly “Do a Leeds” (In a Good Way)   –   by Rob Atkinson

Özil - weakest link

Mesut Özil – weakest link in Monaco

In 1995, Leeds United were ‘The Team That Broke the Hearts in Monte Carlo’, courtesy of an unanswered hat-trick from the mighty Anthony Yeboah, striker extraordinaire. United cruised to a 3-0 win at the Stade Louis II, home of AS Monaco – and nothing like that has happened to the Ligue 1 giants again in the almost two decades since. But on Tuesday evening, a massively dominant Arsenal side came so agonisingly close to emulating Wilko’s Warriors and creating history for their club with the biggest Champions League comeback since Leeds themselves recovered from 3-0 down to VfB Stuttgart.

Back in those carefree, pre-meltdown days, Leeds United – three years or so after becoming The Last Champions – still had comfortably enough shots in their locker to give most teams a pretty tough time. A Yeboah-inspired blistering start to that season provided no hint of a clue as to the disappointment that lay ahead, with a pallid Wembley League Cup Final surrender to Aston Villa – where the seeds of Sergeant Wilko’s demise were sown. But in this early season purple patch, United were laying about them to devastating effect, with Masterblaster Yeboah scoring goal after rocket goal. Tony scored more goals of the season in that two or three months than most strikers could dream of in a career.

The assortment against the hapless Monégasques included his usual worldy, sandwiched between two more mortal efforts. That second goal was so typically Tony, instant control in the inside right channel, a sinuous turn past his marker as he progressed to the edge of the area, and a wonderful, curling finish at pace into the far top rigging. Sublime. Things looked really good for Leeds – and just around the corner lay the transfer coup of the year as world superstar Tomas Brolin signed for the Whites from Italian club Parma. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. 

Arsenal’s challenge on Tuesday night was precisely the emulation of that Leeds feat all but twenty years ago. The Gooners had to score three, or they were out of the Champions League – it was as simple as that. In the end, they fell just short – fatally damaged by a clueless performance in defeat at The Emirates – but they could take a lot of pride and encouragement from an utterly dominant return display that, in truth, should have seen the Pride of North London progress, against long, long odds. Little was lacking in a performance better even than the one that ejected Man U from the FA Cup days prior to this Riviera trip. Perhaps the weakest link on the night was Mesut Özil, as quite frankly he has been too often this season. A tendency towards misplacing final balls and running into instead of past defenders in one-on-one situations, may well have been the difference between narrow failure and spectacular success. Perhaps Özil can fill his boots in what remains of the Arse’s bid to retain the FA Cup. On this evidence, he owes his club and fans that much at least. 

The comparison between two European matches, twenty years apart, featuring my beloved Leeds and my much-admired Arsenal, reminds me that one of the young subs for Monaco that night in 1995 was a pre-Juventus youth by the name of Thierry Henry. He went on to do reasonably well for the Gooners and indeed played his part in the Premier League demise of Leeds by blasting several goals past us at Highbury in the early noughties. Henry’s loyalties were probably with Arsenal the other night in Monaco, as were the loyalties of this Leeds United fan, despite my love for and fond memories of the principality of Monaco. 

In the end, though, all of us who were hoping against hope for a Gunners recovery from that pallid home leg defeat, ended up disappointed – and yet thrilled by what had been a fantastic game with a real edge-of-the-seat climax to it. And – cold comfort though this would be to dedicated Arsenal fans – it was a match that revived memories of a golden night long ago when the Whites invaded France and prevailed through the sublime performance of a Ghanaian genius. 

It’s always futile to wish for the impossible – and anyway, while he lasted in England, he was ours – but how Arsenal could have done with Tony Yeboah, as he was in his prime, on Tuesday night.

The Day the Leeds United Glory Trail Began – by Rob Atkinson

The first trophy for Revie's Boys

The first trophy for Revie’s Boys

Today was the day, 47 years ago, when the Leeds United glory trail started with victory over Arsenal in the League Cup Final at Wembley on March 2nd, 1968. It was a scrappy game between two sides not overly keen on each other – but it was settled by what was, literally, a dream of a goal.

The triumph of the Whites in the shadow of the twin towers that day marked the start of what was to be an honour-laden six years or so for Revie’s troops. In that time, they completed the domestic honours set with two League Titles, the FA Cup in 1972, and a Charity Shield. On foreign fields, they won two Inter-Cities Fairs Cups – as well as being robbed in the finals of the two other European competitions, as is copiously documented elsewhere. By the time Don Revie left for an ill-fated spell in charge of the England team, Leeds were indisputably the number one team in England; but their time at the top was done – the all-conquering squad, having matured together, was on the point of breaking up.

My tribute to the accepted first eleven of Revie’s genius squad is reproduced below. It’s one of three poems I’ve had published on FootballPoets.org and it makes specific reference to Terry Cooper‘s Wembley premonition. The Castleford lad, destined to be hailed as the best left-back on the planet at the World Cup of 1970, had dreamed for three successive nights of scoring the winner on that day so long ago.

When the dream came true, in the 18th minute of a dour encounter, there was a slight tinge of controversy. Arsenal ‘keeper Jim Furnell, backed by most of his team-mates, claimed that he had been impeded at a corner by Leeds’ Paul Madeley and Jack Charlton. But when the ball dropped twenty yards out, Cooper made a clean connection and cracked the ball into the back of the net for as good a Wembley winner as you could wish to see. After that, Leeds shut up shop (it’s known as “parking the bus” these days) and saw the match out to collect the first major silverware of the club’s history.

Thanks for the memories, Top Cat Cooper, Billy Bremner – and the rest of the boys, not forgetting The Don himself, of course. Happy days – Glory Days.

The Revie Boys

Sprake, the Viking, error-prone
Costly gaffes are too well-known
But brilliance too, in Budapest
Gritty show, Fairs Cup conquest
Outside the fold now, Judas jibes
Allegations, fixes, bribes

Reaney, swarthy, lithe and fine
Clears a rocket off the line
Always there to beat the best
Georgie, Greavsie and the rest
Speedy Reaney, right full back
Repelling every new attack

Top Cat Cooper, number three
Once a winger, then set free
From wide attacking, made his name
The best left back of World Cup fame
Scored at Wembley, League Cup dream
Got the winner for his team

Billy Bremner, black and blue
Red of hair, Leeds through and through
A tiny giant for the Whites
Semi-final appetites
Beat Man U, not once but twice
Billy’s goals, pearls of great price

Big Jack next, our own giraffe
World Cup winner, photograph
With brother Bobby, Wembley day
The lesser Charlton many say
Was Jack; but for the super Whites
He gave his all and hit the heights

Norman Hunter, hard but fair
Tackles ending in mid-air
Studs on shinpads, bone on bone
Take no prisoners, stand alone
With enemies strewn at his feet
Angelic Norm, that smile so sweet

Lorimer, the rocket shot
Lethal from the penalty spot
Lashed the ball from distance great
Fearsome pace he’d generate
90 miles an hour clocked
Keeper left confused and shocked

Clarkey next at number eight
A predator to emulate
The  greatest strikers anywhere
On the ground, or in the air
One chance at Wembley, snapped it up
Leeds United won the Cup

Mick Jones, the workhorse, brave and strong
Graft away the whole match long
But frequently a scorer brave
Defying all attempts to save –
A hat-trick blitzing poor Man U
Five-one, in nineteen seventy-two

The Irishman at number ten
Giles, a leader among men
Skill and strategy, world class
Struck a devastating pass
John and Billy, midfield twins
Hard as nails – for who dares, wins

Eddie “Last Waltz” Gray out wide
Beats three men in one sweet stride
Jinks and shimmies, deft of touch
Didn’t seem to matter much
Who might face him, come what may
Eddie beat him anyway

“Rolls Royce” Madeley, class and style
Dependable and versatile
Would walk into most other teams
But stayed to chase his glory dreams
For Leeds and England, servant true
Recognition overdue

Twelve great players, clad in white
Internationals, as of right
Ready to play, and battle too
Many the victories, losses few
Leeds United, Revie’s Boys
Strength and power, skill and poise

Left with just sweet memories now
But even critics must allow
A squad of many talents great
Where every man would pull his weight
Cut one and find the whole team bleeds
A club United; Super Leeds

Leeds United to Miss Out as FA Introduce Selective New “Joker” Rule – by Rob Atkinson

I heff het...enOUGH of losink. I em playink - our JOKER in all games now.

I heff het…enOUGH of losink. I em playink…our JOKER in all games now

It hardly comes as news to the fans of Leeds United, long used to English football’s tiresome habit of “playing favourites”, that there is some perplexity in the corridors of power about the inability of the “most popular club” to win the league title. Since a certain choleric Glaswegian shuffled off into the sunset to brood over old feuds and current grievances, the supply of plastic EPL titles for Club Popular has dried up somewhat, much to the chagrin of the suits. Needless to say, that most popular club is not located in LS11 – the Whites of Elland Road occupy a ranking at the other end of the adulation scale, with the game’s administrators being accustomed to wrinkle their noses slightly if forced to acknowledge Leeds’ existence, affecting a rather pained expression, as if they were suffering patiently in the presence of some noxious odour.

No, the “most popular” – naturally – are the club I joshingly if not exactly fondly refer to as the Pride of Devon – due to their vast appeal to the more insecure type of West Country glory-hunter. But they’re all the rage in parts of London too, this lot – as well as Wales, Ireland, Milton Keynes, Barnsley, for God’s sake – and not to mention great chunks of the Far East and even isolated neighbourhoods in less salubrious areas of Manchester itself. 

The dilemma faced by the game’s rulers appears to be a matter of clear and present danger to those earnest men in their sober garb, as they brandish calculators and contemplate massive markets, domestic and foreign, previously of great productivity, with bale after bale of tatty replica Sharp, AIG or Chevrolet shirts being demanded every high day and holiday by precocious Man U-supporting spoilt brats. Having expressed concern over the poor form of the EPL Golden Boys, the Premier League CEO Richard Scudamore is now rumoured to have come up with a foolproof plan to redress the balance and get away from the current, annoyingly level playing field in English top flight football. The Chief’s idea is the product of much serious thought and an increasing awareness that the problem of Man U’s chronic lack of dominance is not going away anytime soon. Now, Scudamore has allegedly been inspired by the popular summer evening silly games contest of the mid 1970s, It’s A Knockout, to come up with a novel solution to a thorny problem.

Uncle Stuart - butter wouldn't melt

Uncle Stuart – butter wouldn’t melt

For those of us of a certain age, that evocative theme music is just so reminiscent of long summer evenings when we were young; coming home from playing football on the village green, hot and dusty and pleasantly tired, ready to sit down, relax – and enjoy some more seemingly innocent fun as good old “Uncle” Stuart Hall treated us to his dulcet tones, his manic laugh – but thankfully not the gift of his intimate acquaintance. Genial old rugby league fart Eddie Waring bumbled about in the background, sounding ever more like a Mike Yarwood impression of himself, joining in with Hall for the title of maddest chortler. It was quintessential family entertainment, or so it seemed in those pre-Operation Yewtree days.

Happy days, for some. But the appeal of It’s A Knockout was – thankfully – more down to the nuttiness of the games and the rules, than any peculiarities of the show’s host. The contests were between a number of teams representing various obscure towns around the UK. Massive costumes figured heavily, huge false heads on them which would put Joe Royle or even Wayne Rooney to shame, colourful, crazy, hilarious. There was water, there were custard pies, there were enough card-carrying prats to ensure pratfalls aplenty – it was hilarious, playful anarchy – and the presenters could be heard crying with mirth as the participants struggle gamely. Nobody was too bothered about the scoring system – and yet it was one bizarre element of this which may now restore Man U to what the suits see as that troubled franchise’s rightful place at the top of the English game.

The idea is that Man U – at their own discretion – will be able to “play their joker” whenever the need arises. It’s important to emphasise that this is not a reference to the team selection and the appearance in a Man U shirt of Angel di Maria or the latest “next George Best”. Rather, it is a maverick twist to the scoring system of any particular game – whereby the team playing its joker will have any subsequent score doubled.

Scudamore is believed to favour a refinement of this system, seeing the Man U joker double the value of any goal scored, rule out any goal against them, or produce a penalty on demand, regardless of where play happens to be on the field. It is envisaged that this would enable even a team managed by a total incompetent – or “onbekwaam” as Mijnheer van Gaal’s compatriots would say – to prevail in most games. Theoretically, at least, the return of the Pride of Devon to the summit of the game would be assured – and the Theatre of Hollow Myths would once again ring to the rafters with songs of West Country and cockney triumphalism.

One important feature of the new system is that – surprise, surprise, Leeds fans – it would not be open to all teams, as that would merely introduce an annoyingly random element whilst maintaining what is seen as an undesirable status quo. The conditions of entitlement so far envisaged are extremely stringent; only clubs who can demonstrate that every single one of their FA Cup ties since 2005 has been televised live on TV – even when they’ve played no-hopers at home (Exeter and Cambridge, for example. Or Leeds United…) – will have the option of “playing their Joker”. It has been concluded that only one club, based just outside Manchester, would fall within these parameters. Coincidentally, the identity of this randomly selected club would fit in precisely with Mr Scudamore’s idea for the future of the game.

Scudamore is said to be delighted with his plan. and hopes that its introduction will be a new start for English football, with better times ahead for all – unless you happen to be a fan of Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City – or indeed any club that lacks the postcode M16 0RA.

Louis van Gaal, 83, is an extreme embarrassment.

How Premier League CEO Scudamore Blew the Gaff on Man Utd Bias – by Rob Atkinson

Pet lip:  Premier League CEO Scudamore misses those Man U days of success

Pet lip: Premier League CEO Scudamore misses those Man U days of success

As a Leeds United fanatic, a card-carrying cynic and someone with no faith in the football authorities these days to run a fair and disinterested league competition, I have written many times on this blog about my belief that the Man U domination of the game in this country after 1993 (the FA Premier League début season) was deeply suspicious. The last season or so’s steep decline, with a squad not at first markedly different to the one that romped home in Taggart’s final season, begs the question: what’s really different? It has appeared ever since The Demented One left that the change of stewardship is behind this relative failure. But was Alex Ferguson the sole factor in the unprecedented success enjoyed by the Pride of Devon over the last two decades?

These days, following a series of revealing comments over the past year or so from people who should know whereof they speak, it appears that at least a couple of other factors have been at play throughout that twenty year period. I have said over and over again in Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything, that the Fergie years have been trophy-laden for three well-defined reasons, none of them all that adjacent to the quality of their playing squad. They may be summed up as: Ferguson, match officials and the rulers of the game itself. These three influences conspired over two decades to exaggerate the success of Man U out of all proportion to the abilities of their playing and coaching staff in that period, many of whom have gone on to enjoy sustained mediocrity elsewhere. Add into the mix the drip, drip, drip effect of blind, unquestioning media adulation, spearheaded by Murdoch’s Sky empire and endorsed by lapdog attitudes from the terrestrial broadcasters who know which side the commercial bread is buttered, and you have what is technically known as a “Scum-friendly environment”.

This may to the unwary sound like just another conspiracy theory.  But you only have to look at the unprecedented before and after picture of Man U’s record pre-Murdoch as compared to their success under Uncle Rupert. After all, we’re talking an almost total domination of the Premier League era here, by a club that – for the 26 years immediately preceding the league reorganisation – couldn’t buy a title. Seven times Champions in their whole history prior to 1993, and then thirteen Premier League titles in the first twenty years after Rupert Murdoch bought the game.

That’s such a sharp delineation between failure and success – it’s not coincidental that the demarcation line is the inception of the Premier League, the changing of football in this country from a sport to a brand – and the new understanding that the game was now about markets and money to a much greater extent than it had ever been before. Man U were the new brand leader, and they had better succeed – or the Premier League product might not fulfil its immense potential for dominating the world in terms of TV audiences, syndication and merchandising. And that would never do. So the game leant the way of the Man U scum – as we at Leeds United fondly refer to them – and the pressure applied by Ferguson to match officials was allowed to take effect. Professional sport is a matter of extremely fine margins; a slight bias over a long period will skew outcomes to a massive degree – and that’s exactly what has happened.

Naturally, none of this has ever been acknowledged. It’s been of paramount importance, after all, that the Premier League should at least retain the appearance of being a fair competition, on the proverbial level playing field. But now – Ferguson has gone, Man U are failing, the referees are not by any means as intimidated, opposing teams are not scared any more; not, as they used to be, beaten before they took the field. And now people are speaking out, very revealingly – and in some cases that is clearly intentional, in other cases less so. Ex-referee Graham Poll is one who has made his views known quite deliberately; he has spoken out about the feelings of a ref in the Fergie years, how the priority was to get off the field without having made any close calls against Man U – and, ideally, with them having won the game. What is the cumulative effect of that kind of insidious pressure over twenty years? Self-evidently, it’s significant; look at the trophy records, the penalty for and against statistics, the time added on if Man U weren’t winning – and so on and so forth.

Poll has also written about the unprecedented scenes when three penalties were given against Man U in a home game against old rivals Liverpool. Even though things have changed in terms of the favourable decisions enjoyed by Man U, these were the first penalties awarded against Man U as the home team since December 2011 – well over two years without conceding a home league penalty. Poll’s observations on that make for interesting reading for anyone who, as I do, strongly suspects that Man U had it easy from match officials in the Fergie years.

And then, to put the tin lid on it, we had Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore sounding off, in earnestly worried tones, about how the Premier League “brand” is being adversely affected by the difficulties Man U were having last season (happily, it’s carried on in pretty much the same vein this time around). It’s difficult to believe that he was quite aware of the import of what he was saying – this was a tacit admission, after all, that the supposedly disinterested rulers of the game actually have a vested interest – as I’ve been saying long and loud – in the regular success of Man U. “It’s a double-edged sword,” said Scudamore, at the time. “When your most popular club isn’t doing as well, that costs you interest and audience in some places.” The hapless Peter doesn’t identify the other edge of that sword, but he’s clearly perturbed by the prospect of a future with Man U as the also-rans they’ve been this last two campaigns.

Speaking in greater depth about the ethos of the Premier League, as well as its duty to fans around the world, Scudamore went on: “There are lots of fans around the world who wish Manchester United were winning it again. But you have to balance that off against, generally, we’re in the business of putting on a competition and competition means people can compete.” The wistful tone of that last sentence was massively telling. Other clubs will insist on competing, particularly now that Ferguson is history. How very inconvenient and bad for business. What a deuced bore.

The FA Premier League mandarins at a high level clearly see even competition, where any old Tom, Dick or Manuel (or even Jose) can win the League, as their cross to bear, something that will inhibit their ability to market their “brand” around a global audience in thrall to Man U. But they have made a rod for their own back in allowing the creation of that trophy-winning monster, under the inimical sway of a tyrant from Govan, to become so all-consuming in the first place. Now they’re reaping what they have sown – in pumping up the bubble of unrealistic success for one favoured club, they have left themselves without a Plan B for when that bubble bursts – as bubbles inevitably will.

For real football people – the fans out here, the people who have always gone along to the match, with little if any thought of global markets and syndication deals – this new reality of genuine competition has come as a breath of fresh air. There’s a new top four out there, of varied make-up which usually excludes Man U, and they’ve all played wonderful football and succeeded on their own merits.

We’ve also seen less of the media-beloved “mind games” which are so tiresome to the fan in the street. We’ve not missed that old curmudgeon, railing at authority whenever he gets any less than his own way and intimidating anybody who gets in his way. Football seems fresh and new again; Man U were seventh last time – which is probably about where they should have finished the season before. The first twenty years of the Premier League can be seen as a statistical blip, the product of a tyrant dominating and bullying the people charged with the responsibility to see that the game is run fairly. The evidence is there; listen to Poll, listen to what Scudamore is actually saying. Look at the results and standings this season and last.

We’re so very sorry, Mr Scudamore, if your product and your brand are suffering from the failure of “your most popular club”. Perhaps you should take the view that popularity is there to be earned by whichever club can succeed on merit? That it’s not something to be inculcated by the favourable treatment of one chosen club, amounting to institutional bias over twenty long years. Perhaps you can learn that – and then all we will have to regret is the two decades when, aided by Ferguson and a terrified cadre of referees and officials, you – blatantly and with malice aforethought – sold the game down the river.

Three Pivotal Moments in Leeds United’s FA Cup History

The FA Cup is undoubtedly the premier competition of its type in the world, despite the fact that it may have been marginalised by leading Premier League clubs since the advent of the lucrative European Champions League. Its history can be traced back over 140 years of football and it continues to deliver thrills, spills and excitement to this day. There are some clubs that have a greater affinity with the competition than others, however, with Leeds United providing an example of a team that has lived through both heartache and triumph in the pursuit of cup glory.

3 Major Moments that have Shaped Leeds’ FA Cup History

With this in mind, let’s take a look at three of the most inspirational moments that have shaped Leeds United’s cup history:

1.  Jermaine Beckford Scores the Winner Against Manchester United, 2010

FAC Beckford

After their heroic exploits at the turn of the century when Leeds reached the dizzying heights of the European Champions League semi-finals, few would have expected the club to by plying their trade in League One less than a decade later. This, though, was the situation that Leeds United found themselves in during 2010, as they headed to Premier League champions Manchester United for an FA Cup third round tie. Despite being huge underdogs and with 9,000 travelling fans providing fanatical backing, yet fearing a thrashing at the hands of their bitterest rivals, Leeds pulled off one of the proudest moments in their cup history as Jermaine Beckford’s first half goal was enough to send Man U to their earliest exit from the competition since 1984.

2.  Ray Crawford Stuns Leeds as Colchester Utd Record Huge Upset, 1971

FAC Crawford

In 1971, Leeds United were on the way to becoming the best and most combative team in the English League under the managership of Don Revie. Hailed far and wide as “Super Leeds”, the Whites were therefore overwhelming favourites when they visited an ageing, lower league Colchester side for the fifth round of the FA Cup in February, 1971. Nicknamed ‘Dad’s Army’ by the press, few gave the home side a chance but a brace from striker Ray Crawford and a deceptively narrow pitch, together with some typically bizarre goalkeeping from Sprake, helped Colchester earn a stunning 3-0 lead early in the second half. Although Leeds recovered with two late goals, they eventually lost 3-2 as Colchester recorded a significant act of an FA Cup giant killing.

3.  Alan Clarke Wins the Cup for Leeds United, 1972

FAC Clarke

From the ridiculous low of their defeat at Layer Road the previous year, Leeds United recovered admirably to beat the cup holders and the previous seasons’ double winners Arsenal and lift the cup at Wembley in 1972. The game was a hard-fought and at times brutal affair, but it was decided by a flash of brilliance and what has to be the finest moment in Leeds United’s outstanding cup history. Allan Clarke was the match-winner, as he dived at full length to head home Mick Jones’ accurate cut-back. Although Leeds United were to fall victim to another act of giant-killing against Sunderland in the following years’ final, nothing could dampen the enthusiasm surrounding the clubs’ first and, to date, only FA Cup win.

These are just three historic moments in a long history of FA Cup football for Leeds. Perhaps you have different favourites – it would be interesting to hear from you with your own FA Cup memories of Leeds United.

 

 

Can Darko’s Leeds Cope with the “Cup Final” Mentality of Local Rivals Rotherham? – by Rob Atkinson

Image

Huddersfield’s low-key celebrations after edging out Leeds

In the wake of Leeds United’s recent failures on the road against inferior local opposition, it’s well past time to take stock of the problem behind this unwelcome phenomenon, which is set fair to drag us down and keep us away from the top level –  if it continues as it has in past campaigns. It’s to be hoped that, in the new Darko Milanic era, things might be different. There were some promising signs against the Wendies the other week, but away from home against pumped-up (yet lower-class) opposition, some fight is what’s sorely needed.

Firstly, let’s put to bed any foolish suggestion that the local opposition aren’t inferior. They are – by definition.  Leeds do not and never have in living memory played local derbies where they are the underdog in terms of club size and history.  We’ve been the biggest club in Yorkshire – by far the biggest, and the only one with a global profile – for the last fifty years plus. Whatever the relative squad merits – and for 90% of the time, Leeds have possessed demonstrably more accomplished players too – any meeting between Leeds and a smaller Yorkshire club has seen the Elland Road outfit cast as Goliath to some horrible, backstreet David. The real question is – does such superiority of status confer any advantage at all?  The answer to that would appear to be a resounding No, and a reminder that, horrible and provincial though David might have been, he still gave Goliath one in the eye.

The extent of the problem may be brought into focus simply by comparing two different sets of results over the past few years.  If you look at league games against other Yorkshire teams, together with a selection of upstarts around the country who have a similar chip on the shoulder, as compared with our reasonably regular Cup meetings with Premier League clubs over the past three or four years, the contrast is startling – and it says a lot about what it has taken to motivate our white-shirted heroes.

Taking league games first, and looking at the locals – the likes of Barnsley, the Sheffield clubs, Huddersfield and Hull, together with self-appointed rivals like Millwall – the results have been unacceptably bad.  Barnsley in particular have visited embarrassment upon us in match after match, often by a significant margin, whilst keeling over to most other clubs and usually only escaping relegation by the skin of their teeth, prior to their welcome demise last year.  Our relatively close West Yorkshire neighbours Huddersfield are nearly as bad for our health. The other season, these two clubs met on the last day, and over the course of ninety minutes, first one and then the other seemed doomed to the drop.  In the end, both escaped because of events elsewhere – and what did both sets of fans do to celebrate their shared reprieve?  Why, they joined together in a rousing chorus of “We all hate Leeds scum” of course.  This tells you all you need to know about what motivates such dire and blinkered clubs – but at least the motivation is there.

And the motivation is there for Leeds United, too – just not, seemingly, on those bread-and-butter league occasions when we need it.  What seems to turn your average Leeds United player on over the past few years, is the glamour of the Cup – either domestic cup will do, apparently.  Results and performances in these games have left bewildered fans scratching their heads and wondering how such high achievers can then go on to perform so miserably against the envious pariahs from down the road in Cleckhuddersfax.  Look at the results – going back to League One days.  A narrow home defeat to Liverpool in the League Cup when by common consent we should have won and Snoddy ripped them up from wide areas.  The famous win at Man U when we went to the Theatre of Hollow Myths and showed neither fear nor respect in dumping the Pride of Devon out of the FA Cup.  Draws at Spurs and Arsenal, beating Spurs, Gareth Bale and all, at Elland Road.  Beating other Premier League sides such as Everton and Southampton in games that had you wondering which was the higher status club.  Great occasions – but of course we haven’t the squad to go through and win a cup, so these achievements ultimately gain us little but pride. And, naturally, when we draw a Yorkshire “rival” away in a Cup, we contrive to lose embarrassingly as per Bratfud earlier this season. It’s just not good enough.

Often we will sing to daft smaller clubs’ fans about the Leeds fixtures being their Cup Finals, but this is becoming a joke very much against us.  The teams concerned seem to take the Cup Final thing literally, they get highly motivated, roll their metaphorical sleeves up, the veins in their temples start to throb and the battle cry is sounded.  Their fans, normally present in miserable numbers, are out in force – and they are demanding superhuman endeavour.  Faced with this, too many Leeds teams over the past few years have simply failed to find a comparable level of commitment and effort.  There’s no excuse for that – it has meant we’re almost starting off a goal down – even when we swiftly go a goal up.

The sheer number of local derbies will count against a team which allows itself to suffer this disadvantage, this moral weakness.  For Leeds, since we came back to the second tier, there has usually been one Sheffield or another, usually Barnsley or Huddersfield or Hull, Middlesbrough perhaps – even the just-over-the-border outfits like Oldham and Burnley feel the same ambition and desire to slay the Mighty Leeds.  It amounts to a sizeable chunk of a season’s fixtures – if you fail to perform in these, then you’re struggling.  The pressure is then on to get results against the better teams at the top end of the table, and we don’t fare too well there either.

It’s easy to say that it’s a matter of getting better players.  Largely that’s true.  But we’ve usually had better players than these annoying little Davids, and yet the slingshot has still flown accurately right into Goliath’s eye and knocked us over. Professional football is a game of attitude, motivation, mental readiness to match the opposition and earn the right to make your higher quality tell.  This, over a number of years, is what Leeds United have signally failed to do.

Can it change?  Well, so far this season we’ve played Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield at home  – plus Millwall, who qualify as a southern member of the chip on the shoulder brigade, away.  We’ve four points out of nine to show from that little lot, which is the difference between our current position and sixth – in the play-off zone.  Even three of those lost five points would see us just a point off the top six places.  And the thing is, ALL of those games were distinctly winnable, so it’s no pipe-dream to look at where we might have been.  The difference is down to attitude; our opponents have had it and – with the notable exception of the Huddersfield performance – we simply haven’t.

It’s a sobering message at this stage of the season, with only three such games played – and plenty more to come.  But it’s a message that should be heeded, or the effect on our season will become more profound as it goes on.  The potential is there for us to take advantage of games against inferior but highly-motivated opposition, to match the attitude of these teams and to reap our rewards.  The failure to do this will see us endure yet another season of under-achievement. We have to overcome the “Cup Final Mentality” of certain other clubs, mainly those in Yorkshire but elsewhere too.

The Rotherham game next Friday night is an ideal opportunity for this new, tougher mental attitude to kick in. Again, we have small local rivals who nurse a fierce and unrequited hatred of Leeds United – and they have the odd old boy in their ranks as well as a wily manager who has been busily bigging us up. Our heroes will include a number of quite new foreign signings, who may still be a little wide-eyed and naive on occasions like this. So the ingredients are all there for the relative big boys of Leeds to turn up, find the environment not to their liking – and roll over once again in abject surrender. Please, let it not be so.

Leeds United –  you just need to get psyched-up and go out to win some of these pesky and troublesome “Cup Finals”.  Darko can inculcate his principles and make a pretty pattern of play – but when blood and guts are needed, some fight and some grit – then it really is up to you lads who wear the shirt we’d all of us out here be willing to walk on hot coals for. 

Clarke … One-Nil!! Leeds United Win the Cup 42 Years Ago Today – by Rob Atkinson

Clarke ... One-Nil!

Clarke … One-Nil!

Leeds United usually seem to be around when some epochal achievement is recorded – or at least, they used to be. They won the last ever old-style Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1971, beating Juventus on the away goals rule. They won the last ever old-style Football League Championship in 1992, leaving Fergie’s hapless Man U team gasping four points in their wake. They were also perched proudly at the summit of English football as the millennium clicked over its four digits from 1999 to 2000 – a historical landmark that all of the tabloids had been eagerly talking up for the Pride of Devon.  And, forty-two years ago today, on the 6th May 1972, Leeds United won the Centenary FA Cup Final at Wembley, beating Arsenal 1-0 with a classic diving header from Allan “Sniffer” Clarke.

It was a triumph that pre-dated my active support for Leeds United by two or three years, so it’s one I’ve only been able to savour in retrospect.  But the images of that day are as clear to me as if I’d actually been there – a sneaky Leeds arm reaching around the back of a defensive wall to tug at Charlie George’s long hair, Paul Reaney stalwart on the line to block a fizzing shot from Alan Ball, the Leeds attack swarming around the Arsenal goal as they sought the vital breakthrough. And, of course, Mick Jones, hurdling McNab’s attempted challenge to get to the byline, pulling back a quality ball which dipped down around the penalty spot – and Clarke, stooping to conquer, arrowing his legendary header past ‘keeper Geoff Barnett, into the corner of the Arsenal net.

Leeds had known only heartbreak in FA Cup finals before this day – and they would know more the following year.  In addition, they were shamefully to be compelled by unsympathetic authorities to play a League Title decider at Wolverhampton only 48 hours after this Wembley battle against Bertie Mee’s uncompromising Arsenal troops.  Imagine that happening today. It was a task too much for Revie’s shattered warriors, bereft of the injured Mick Jones. Blatant penalties denied them, they slipped to a 2-1 defeat at Wolves and, instead of celebrating their sole FA Cup triumph, the whole club tasted the bitter fruits of disappointment – yet again.

The game itself was typical of a meeting between the two sides who had dominated the start of the Seventies.  The year before, Arsenal had won the “Double” – becoming champions with a win at Spurs despite having lost an epic encounter at Elland Road shortly beforehand.  So it was the reigning Title and Cup holders Leeds were up against at Wembley that day, but in a less than classic Final, there was really no doubt as to which was the better team.

The fact that this 1972 triumph remains Leeds United’s solitary FA Cup success is somehow symptomatic of where they fell short in those trophy-hunting decades of the Sixties and Seventies.  The best team normally wins the League – that was the case anyway in those level playing field years before it became a case of who had the most money.  But to win a Cup requires that bit of luck, a few breaks here and there.  Leeds have only won one League Cup too, though even then it was a landmark one – the first at Wembley.  We were indisputably the best team around for many years in that Revie reign – but we were never the luckiest nor were we all that fairly treated and, even in the league, we were denied on a few occasions by teams we should have been looking down on from the top.

Still, the fact is that, today, the two domestic Cups offer themselves as the best chance for re-emergent clubs to break into the honours-winning clutch of successful teams.  Titles these days are the preserve of the mega-rich – those who argue that Leeds United are the last genuine Champions do rather have a point, as we were the last club to taste success on a reasonable budget as compared to the bulk of our rivals.  If Leeds were to get back into the big-time sooner rather than later, then a realistic aim would be to consolidate top-flight membership, and look for silverware to the League Cup or – preferably – the FA Cup.  That has been the path followed by Swansea City, an excellent example of a club climbing from the lower reaches of the league ladder, brilliantly managed to tangible success.  And, of course,  Hull City will shortly appear in their first FA Cup Final. Now if they can do it… 

I have been lucky enough to see my beloved Whites win the Football League Championship, and that’s something I’ll never forget – but realistically, I don’t think it’s a thing I’ll see again in my lifetime.  But I’m grateful for having witnessed it, it’s something I can add to the legacy and history of what was a magical Revie-fashioned squad, Super Leeds.  That era is the heritage of all of us, something we can all be massively proud of.  But it’s nice to see the odd honour added to the club’s record with your own eyes – so the ’92 title and even the Charity Shield that followed both mean a hell of a lot to me.

Maybe I will yet see the heroes in the white shirts add further to the list of honours won by my club.  It’s wonderful to think I might – and a repeat of the Wembley triumph of that day forty-two years ago at any point over the next few years would do very nicely indeed.  McCormack or Smith with a diving header to nick the Cup 1-0 for Leeds again?  You never know.

Arsene Wenger ‘met with Robin van Persie’s agent to discuss transfer back to Arsenal’

Even Leeds Fans are Laughing at Man U – Part II. Now van Persie wants a transfer back to a big club that can play in the Champions League. Could Man U be after Varney when his Blackburn loan expires??

Metro

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 03:  Arsene Wenger the Manager of Arsenal speaks to Robin van Persie of Manchester United as the teams come off for half time during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford on November 3, 2012 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images,) Arsene Wenger could bring Robin van Persie back to Arsenal (Picture: Reuters)

Robin van Persie could be set for a dramatic return to Arsenal at the end of the season after his agent reportedly met with Arsene Wenger to discuss a move.

Van Persie, who forced a move to Manchester United last year, enjoyed a superb opening season at Old Trafford – firing the club to the Premier League title.

But the Dutchman has reportedly become frustrated with life under new manager David Moyes, and is now angling for a switch back to Arsenal.

According to Sky Italia, Wenger met Van Persie’s representative in London late last month where it was made clear that Van Persie wants to leave United – and go back to the Gunners.

MORE: Arsenal make Juan Cuadrado their top transfer target

Robin Van Persie and Arsene Wenger Van Persie and Wenger remain close (Picture: Getty)

Wenger is believed to be now…

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