Tag Archives: Capital One Cup

It Was The Best of Times, It Was The Worst of Times, for Leeds Starlet Cook   –   by Rob Atkinson

 
For any lad that grows up supporting his local club, nursing the dream of one day turning out in that sacred shirt – and who actually makes that dream come true – there can be no sweeter moment than that precious first goal for the team he loves. Tonight, in the humble surroundings of Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium, that longed-for moment arrived for Lewis Cook, when he stabbed home a rebound of the Donny ‘keeper to notch his first senior goal for Leeds United.

Sadly, the fairytale would have no happy ending. Leeds had already been pegged back thanks to Scott Wootton‘s agricultural challenge in the United area, leading to a Rovers penalty that stand-in guardian Ross Turnbull narrowly failed to save. And then came Cook’s moment of misery to erase his earlier joy. Surging down the right on a mazy run, the youngster took a slightly heavy touch, overstretched in his attempt to keep possession – and walked for a resulting foul that looked even worse than it was. Thanks to that mad moment, it would be ten-man Leeds for the rest of the piece, and a Yorkshire derby cup tie was ruined as a spectacle. 

The Doncaster fans in the crowd, eager to see the home team compass the demise of local favourites Leeds, were suitably encouraged and filled with hope – but for the remainder of ninety minutes plus extra time, Rovers showed no real sign of being able to dispatch their numerically weakened opponents. Indeed, for much of the rest of the tie, it was Leeds looking marginally more effective going forward. But in what became a war of attrition, neither side was able to land the telling blow, and the game trudged its inevitable way to deadlock and the dreaded shoot-out.

Ironically, Leeds’ two eventual lottery losers were the second half substitutes who had done most to rekindle some hope among the Leeds faithful that United could yet emerge winners. Chris Wood and Sam Byram had given an extra dimension to United’s stubborn rearguard action, and both showed plenty going forward to suggest how vital they will be in the season ahead. But their two penalties in the shootout – Byram’s only mildly awful, but Woods’ truly abysmal – cost Leeds a real chance of victory,  an unlikely chance that had been so ruggedly earned in the ten-man struggle following Cook’s first-half indiscretion.

So, Leeds are out of this competition again, to lower league opposition again, with ten men after having taken the lead, again – and in another derby as last season’s farce in Bradford was reprised only a little less farcically in Doncaster. And, really, what the hell. We were no more likely to win the League Cup than Rovers are now.

Few United fans will mourn such an early exit. It was not the defeat that rankled, more the manner of it. Another long struggle with ten men, with energy cruelly sapped ahead of a far more important game at the weekend. Head Coach Uwe Rösler had spoken prior to the match of taking the game to Rovers, an approach that is “in our DNA”. Fair enough, but it is the suicidal part of United’s genetic makeup that needs to be addressed, that fatal tendency to give away daft penalties and lose players to red cards through rash tackles. Herr Rösler has his work cut out to eliminate such innate, self-destructive traits. 

After the dust has settled on a night to forget, we must spare a thought for young Lewis Cook, for whom a magical moment, eagerly awaited for literally all his life, was so swiftly eclipsed by a rash and reckless lunge he’ll long regret. Fortunately, there is ample time and opportunity for redemption where one of United’s brightest prospects is concerned.

Lewis Cook undeniably has the talent and character that ensures he can and will bounce back, to forget tonight’s temporary woe and enjoy many more of the best of times, in the Leeds shirt he promises – transfer follies permitting – to grace for many years to come. 

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Altered Priorities Ahead of Leeds’ Cup Date at Newcastle – by Rob Atkinson

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Sometimes, I appear to be bang to rights on a charge frequently leveled at me by friend and foe alike: namely that I hate Man U more than I love Leeds United.  This evening’s Capital One Cup fixtures would be a case in point; an occasion when I would have to hold my hands up and say: Yes – my priorities are altered tonight.  Given a choice between Leeds progressing and the Pride of Devon getting stuffed by the Scousers at the Theatre of Hollow Myths, then I’d have to go for the latter.  I know that is base treachery and quite the opposite of the way in which I should behave – but I’m too long in the tooth and perhaps too cynical to look at things through those old, stardusty, yellow white and blue-tinted specs I used to wear.  So fine – tie me up and burn me for a heretic – but I’ll be watching Man U v Liverpool tonight, and screeching for a Reds victory (the real Reds, not the plastic variety).  I may even forget there’s a game going on at St James Park, Newcastle.

Disgusting, the average, bone-headed, blinkered fanatic will bellow at me.  Leeds first, last and foremost.  Well, I can see that point of view, but you have to be a little bit pragmatic too.  Sure, it would be nice to progress in this Cup.  I have a very good friend who supports the Toon, and I just know he’ll give me hell if they beat us.  Despite his protestations that he’s not bothered about the result and indeed that he’s jaded with all things Newcastle right now, I can tell he’s nervous about this tie.  He knows he’ll have the bragging rights if the Toon prevail, even though that’s the way it really should pan out, given the relative strengths of the two squads.  Equally he knows that I’ll make his life a misery if Leeds happen to win.  And that would be nice.  But I won’t despair if we lose – we have bigger fish to fry, after all.

Look at last season in the League Cup. Joy unconfined when we beat two Premier League clubs at Elland Road.  The bunting hung out and street parties as we celebrated a home tie against old foes Chelsea.  Ecstasy as we led 1-0 at half time – and then the sky fell in and we got murdered 5-1.  When you’re at the current level of Leeds, the happiest of Cup runs ends in tears. Bradford City know that harsh lesson even better than we do.

With Cup competitions, the best attitude is to expect the worst and welcome any better than that with open arms – but there’s no point getting too upset about it, whatever happens.  Since I’ve been a Leeds fan, I’ve seen us lose in every cup competition we’ve entered, every season, for 38 years.  You get used to the incessant disappointment, and the pain becomes more of a numbness.  Every now and then though, you reach a semi-final and the pain of defeat is more acute.  Twice we even reached a final; they were the unkindest cuts of all.

The Germans have a word for the way I feel about nights like tonight.  Schadenfreude. For those who don’t know, it means taking delight in the misfortunes of others.  Every now and then, Man U serve me up a big, tasty dollop of Schadenfreude and I’m a happy man – quite as happy as I am with the occasional victories of Leeds United.  The lads from Salford were kind enough to oblige me in this way on Sunday as they meekly got murdered by their more illustrious neighbours City from over the boundary in Manchester itself.  Joy abounded in our house; we didn’t kill the fatted calf, but we did lash out on a celebratory takeaway. On January 3rd 2010 I got both sides of the bargain – humiliating defeat for Man U as well as an unlikely win for little old third-tier Leeds as the latter visited the former and won 1-0, dispatching the favourites from the FA Cup.  A whole herd of fatted calves wouldn’t have done justice to that occasion.

My career as a football fan hasn’t had too many positive highlights – that’s just the way the cookie crumbles; if you’re going to follow your local team instead of glory-hunting like those sad, inadequate Man U fans with their deeply compensatory behaviour recalling the teachings of Sigmund Freud – then you’re going to spend most of your time dealing with disappointment.  It’s the nature of the beast.  How much better then, to have a fall-back position, psychologically speaking. That’s what I have.  Every time Leeds let me down, I have a second chance of happiness that weekend or midweek.  Often, of course, I am let down again.  I happen to despise the most undeservedly successful team of the era, so disappointment is often my portion there too – I am usually denied my helping of Schadenfreude.  But when it comes around – oh boy, do I relish it. Through the thin and thinner of being a Leeds fan, it’s been those delightful occasions of Man U misery and despair that, frequently have kept me happy and ready for more.  Otherwise I suspect I’d have given up on football long ago, much as other aging former enthusiasts have.  There is a limit, after all.

So tonight, I have two shots at happiness and satisfaction – and due to the preferences of the TV companies in these matters I shall be concentrating on the negative side of things, hoping for more Man U misery, cheering on Liverpool as they aim to knock the Gloryhunters out.  If it happens, I will be happy, whatever has happened up in Newcastle. And if Leeds happen to have pulled off a surprise against the Mighty Barcodes I shall of course be happier still.  But you have to take your satisfaction where you can, and if Man U lose tonight, they’re OUT.  If Leeds win, we’ll simply postpone our own demise in the competition, but it’ll surely come sooner or later.  So good luck to both my teams tonight, but if I have to pin my colours onto one particular champion, it’ll be the Reds of Liverpool as the enter the lists looking to cheer us all up by ending the Capital Cup involvement of Man U.

New Striker at Leeds “By the Weekend” – by Rob Atkinson

A normally reliable source has stated that Leeds United will bring a striker into the club before the weekend, with several names under consideration. This comes after strong speculation earlier in the day that free agent David Bentley (28), normally a winger, might be offered the chance to resurrect his career at Elland Road.

Strikers who have been linked with United include Southampton’s Billy Sharp, Shane Long of WBA, Ricardo Vaz Te of West Ham, Adam le Fondre of Reading, among others. Brian McDermott was the manager who signed le Fondre for Reading during his spell as manager there.

With a Capital One cup tie at Newcastle on Wednesday ahead of a trip to Millwall’s New Den at the weekend, it promises to be an interesting few days at Elland Road.

Who would you like to see brought in during the emergency loans window??