Tag Archives: Derby County

Football League Urges Restraint Over Birmingham v Villa Thugs; Not as Bad as Leeds Spygate – by Rob Atkinson

Brum thug punches Grealish – but hey, it’s hardly Spygate

Fears are mounting at Birmingham City about the scale of the financial penalty to be imposed after one of their fans , at their stadium, invaded the playing area and, before the Sky TV cameras, assaulted Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish. The anxiety springs from the fact that Leeds United were fined £200,000 in the matter of standing on a public footpath and looking through a wire mesh fence.

Officials at Birmingham City fear that an actual assault on an opposing player by a home fan, compounded and aggravated by a later altercation with the same player by a home steward, might be seen as many times more serious than the non-offence attributed to Leeds United. But the Football League are set to banish any such fears.

The logic being applied by anxious officials at St Andrews is that, if Leeds had bto shell out £200,000 for an ill-defined “breach of good faith”, then an actual assault perpetrated within the confines of their own stadium could be punishable by a fine well into seven or eight figures. It is not known at this point whether Bristol City are demanding a points deduction over the matter.

The Football League, however, do not appear to see common assault as anything like as serious a matter as looking through Derby County’s mesh fence, and are prepared to reassure Birmingham City accordingly. A League spokesman confirmed that out of control home fans belting opposition players cannot be blamed on the club concerned, unless that club has the postcode LS11 0ES. “We have to have a sense of proportion here”, our FL contact told us. “We checked with Derby County after the Birmingham v Villa incident, and Fwankie wasn’t upset at all. If he had been, of course we’d have taken further action. Against Leeds United. Ha!”

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Leeds Owner Radrizzani in Blast at “Unacceptable” Bristol City – by Rob Atkinson

Tax-dodging Bristol City owner Lansdown

Bristol City, in common with many smaller clubs that have ideas above their station, appear to have a bit of a chip on their shoulder where Leeds United are concerned. This has manifested itself in a couple of ways this season – one laughable, one really quite contemptible.

Looking at the more ridiculous aspect first, Bristol City, in the shape of their tax-dodging majority shareholder Steve Lansdown, actually called for a points deduction for the Whites in the matter of a chap standing on a public highway and watching some alleged footballers (hey, these are Derby County players we’re talking about) training in plain sight. A heinous crime, or so the more desperate Leeds-haters alleged.

The irony is, of course, that Leeds escaped a points deduction, despite the pouting of Lansdown, Derby County coach Fwankie Lampard, and others – while Leeds have now, in effect, deducted six points from the potential seasonal totals of both Derby and Bristol City – which is deeply satisfactory.

The most recent example of the Bristolians’ dislike of all things Elland Road, though, is more troubling – and has incurred the wrath of United owner Andrea Radrizzani. It appears that Bristol City have gone back on their word over some family area tickets which were bought and sold on the clear understanding that children in the party were Leeds United supporters.

When it was noticed that the family’s sons were wearing Leeds United socks, however, the party were ejected before kick-off, having made a three hour trip from Cornwall after being told that it was fine that the lads were Leeds fans.

On hearing of the situation, Mr. Radrizzani pulled no punches:

It seems that Bristol City and their owner are understandably held in less than high esteem at Elland Road, following the ridiculous call for a points deduction, a failure to cooperate with a Leeds United documentary crew, and now this shoddy treatment of fans who were ejected from the ground despite reassurances that they’d be ok in the City family area. Bristol City’s stance is described as “unacceptable” and, indeed, you might even ask whether the Ashton Gate club have acted in good faith, the omission of which, as we’re all too well aware, carries a £200,000 penalty. Well, it does for Leeds, anyway.

It’s good to know that our owner is prepared to make restitution to this family for their bad treatment at the hands of another Football League club. Radrizzani has acted promptly and admirably, just as you would hope. Which is more than can be said for Lansdown and his twice-beaten club, May they sit and sulk impotently until we meet again.

Then again, as Andrea himself puts it: what else can you expect from a club like that? Well done, Leeds United. And, as for you, Bristol City, thanks for the six points, but otherwise – shame on you.

Frank Lampard Now Sure the Leeds United Spies are Out to Get Him and Derby County – by Rob Atkinson

Lampard: I sense spies, spies, spies. Where are they??

Shortly after Derby County‘s latest thumping, by four goals to nil at Aston Villa, Rams manager Frank Lampard cut a huddled and morose figure as he contemplated the way in which the nefarious agents of Leeds United were conspiring to deprive him of the success he considers his birthright. When asked if his side were still affected by the aftermath of “Spygate“, a wild-eyed Lampard snapped “I don’t want to discuss that. But yes, definitely. They’re out to get me, I’m looking over my shoulder all the time”.

When asked the precise nature of this alleged ongoing effect on his stuttering team, Lampard rapped “I don’t want to discuss that. But there are spies in every bush, and they’ve all got Leeds United badges on and they’re heavily armed with bolt cutters. They’re equipped with special patent spies’ glasses too, that can see right through even B&Q green plastic mesh. It’s a conspiracy, I tell you”.

Somewhat bemused, our (undercover) Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything correspondent asked Mr. Lampard exactly what would be the point of this alleged ongoing Leeds United spying, given that Leeds had already outplayed and thrashed Derby twice in their two Championship meetings this season. Lampard snarled “I don’t want to discuss that. But you must understand, these Leeds spies are determined to ruin Derby’s whole season, so they’re still after me, getting at me, haunting my very dreams, determined to thwart me, passing on vital information to our enemies. It’s a vendetta, I tell you, a vendetta!!”

As Mr. Lampard finished his impassioned statement, his voice had risen to a peculiar thin shriek, and his face had turned blotchy and purple, with his eyes bugging out and the beginnings of a nosebleed. Concerned, our man asked if he was OK. Lampard whimpered “I don’t want to discuss that. But you tell me, would you be OK with the most evil football club in the whole world against you, following your every move, listening at doors, peeping through windows, bugging your phone lines and hacking into your special Rams iPad?? Would you? Would you??? No, you bloody wouldn’t. And now we lose 4-0 to Villa after getting beat off Forest and Millwall doing us at Shame Park. And the fans are blaming me, can you believe that? It’s Leeds United, I tell you, Leeds! Leeds, Leeds, Leeeeeeds!!!

At this point, Mr. Lampard was led away, gently restrained in the very straitjacket County used to calm Frannie Lee down after Norman Hunter bust his lip, and then, with a faint, protesting cry of “Wibble” that would bring tears to a glass eye, put firmly on the team bus back to Derby. A club spokesman stated that “Frankie just needs a rest. A nice long rest. Just leave him be for now. As regards the current situation, Frankie’s frankly in no fit state to discuss that”.

Leeds United, fresh from their 4-0 dismissal of West Bromwich Albion, confined themselves to a brief official statement: “We at Elland Road wish Frank Lampard well, and look forward to news of his complete recovery and rehabilitation”.

Shaun Harvey of the Football League is a complete arse.

EFL Confirms Standing on Public Footpath Worse Than Racism and Violence (If You’re Leeds) – by Rob Atkinson

Suárez bite – only half as bad as standing on a public footpath

There was a sense of relief yesterday that, apparently, Spygate had at last been put to bed. The general feeling was one of “Aaaaaand relax” – we could now get back to thinking about football and, more specifically, earning a path out of this increasingly ridiculous and corrupt Football League.

Today, though, people are looking at the sheer size of the fine Leeds United have had to accept as the price for concluding what had become a long-running farce. Two hundred thousand pounds. When you look at it, really consider it, that’s an obscenely disproportionate sanction. Some sort of context is afforded when you notice that Russia was fined £22,000 for the racist chanting of its bigoted supporters, and Luis Suárez copped a total of £106,000 for two separate incidents in which he deliberately bit opponents. There are, needless to say, plenty of other illustrative examples.

So, on this basis, being present on public land with footballers training on the other side of a mesh fence is seen as just under twice as heinous as sinking your teeth into two opposing footballers. And it’s almost ten times more outrageous to public morals and decency than the mass chanting of racist jibes. There’s something far wrong with that particular sense of perspective. It’s almost comical, but hardly anyone is laughing.

The bemused fan of Leeds United (and, for all we know, this applies equally to players, staff and directors too) is left scratching his or her head at the outlandish disparity between the penalty for what is basically a non-offence, and the much less potent sanctions applied in the case of far more disgusting, violent and bigoted behaviour. There is a sense that the slavering pack of press and opposing fans that were on Leeds United’s case had to be mollified somehow, and that most of this lynch mob wanted a points deduction for United. Faced with this, and armed only with a vague and flimsy “utmost good faith” principle, did the League feel constrained to lay it on thick, in order that those thirsting for Leeds’ blood should not be too disappointed? How much would they rather have applied a points deduction of, say, 15 points – to end up looking draconian instead of plain stupid?

Other questions arise. What of Swansea City, who basically hid behind the sofa on transfer deadline evening, refusing to answer calls as their player waited at Elland Road for his transfer to be confirmed? Is that “utmost good faith”? What of Liverpool, who cleared one penalty area of snow at half time, but not the other, in order to maximise their second half advantage? Where’s the good faith there?

Most tellingly of all, what if the club involved in Spygate had not been Leeds United, but some hand-to-mouth, impoverished League Two club without two ha’pennies to rub together? Would they have been hit to the tune of two hundred grand, ushering the receivers in through the stadium doors? Deep down, we know it wouldn’t happen – because this hypothetical League Two poorhouse club would not have the initials LUFC.

The Football League, in levying such a ridiculously high fine, has abandoned any pretensions to proportionality or a real life view. They’ve blatantly – to quote the excellent Phil Hay of the Yorkshire Evening Post – taken a hammer to crack a walnut. Some Leeds fans are now seeking to crowdfund a contribution to the vast sum Leeds will have to pay, but that’s not really the point. Because, although it may well be that Leeds United feel the pragmatic thing to do is take this penalty flush on the chin and move on, that doesn’t make it right. The Football League has, yet again, exposed itself to ridicule and derision, something that has implications for every club under its jurisdiction.

Whichever way you look at this bizarre conclusion to Spygate, it smacks more of appeasing the mob than it does of any maturely considered conclusion. And whatever word you might use to sum the whole mess up, it most certainly wouldn’t be justice.

Leeds United Contribute £200,000 to Shaun Harvey’s FL Leaving Do – by Rob Atkinson

Shaun Harvey – disappointed and calling it a day

At long last, the Football League investigation into the so-called Spygate affair has been concluded, and it can now be revealed that the delay in considering and pronouncing upon a relatively simple matter was caused by an almighty internal wrangle within the Football League.

It turns out that the matter was pretty much done and dusted some time ago, with the League reluctantly concluding that, as no specific rules had been broken, it was not possible to impose a points deduction. Instead, the League had to settle for dressing up the matter of a man standing on a public highway and looking through a wire fence as “a breach of good faith”, enabling action under regulation 3.4 – but even this has proved problematic.

A League spokesperson confirmed that the League was struggling to make even the “good faith” provisions stick due, he said, to a number of far more serious breaches during the time that Spygate had been current. “We’ve had blatant diving, clubs clearing one penalty area of snow but not the other, clubs reneging on transfer deals at the last minute, all sorts of stuff going on. But we had to do this to Leeds, because it was the only way we could get them. And that was a very cruel blow to Shaun Harvey, who had been determined to deal a fatal blow to that club’s promotion chances”.

It appears that Mr. Harvey has indeed taken the outcome of Spygate very hard indeed, as he had hoped it would be instrumental in keeping Leeds United down in the Championship. So depressed is he by the thwarting of his dearly held hopes, that he has now announced he’ll be stepping down at the end of the season. “Shaun is a broken man”, confirmed our source. “He feels that he just can’t go on, so he’s going to retire to a smallholding in Little Sodbury. We at the League feel that the least we can do is to give him a good send off, so we’re fining Leeds enough to send him off in style”.

When it was pointed out that two hundred grand was quite steep for a leaving do, we were told “We’re pulling out all the stops here, because Shaun really needs cheering up. So we’ve booked his favourite acts, Kylie, Jason and we’ve even arranged a personal appearance by Shaun’s hero Frank “Fwankie” Lampard. I imagine they’ll be commiserating together”.

Leeds United’s only comment was “We’ve fully cooperated with this whole fiasco from start to finish, and all we can say is that we’re satisfied with the outcome. It’s well worth a couple of hundred grand to get rid of that oily little sod Harvey.

Frank Lampard is a bitter, thwarted little man.

‘Justice Delayed is Justice Denied’ But Football League Keep Leeds on the Rack – by Rob Atkinson

The Football League’s Spygate deliberations continue

The Football League’s nonsensical approach to the administration of the game of football below Premier League level is making a laughing stock of them – but they don’t appear to care a bit. And so Leeds United go into yet another vitally important Championship match, at promotion rivals Middlesbrough, with the Sword of Damocles dangling precariously over their heads. And all because a bunch of buffoons see fit to make an Everest style mountain out of the most innocuous of molehills.

The fact is that it’s long been acknowledged no rules have been broken by any employee or representative of Leeds United. The police were singularly unimpressed and unbothered by the incident and, after the briefest of considerations, sent our man on his way. Which is hardly surprising, as standing on a public highway and looking through a transparent wire fence is not exactly the crime of the century.

And yet the League stumble doggedly onwards, needing more and more time to try to find an offence where there is none. Even their desperate references to “acting in good faith” have been trumped by subsequent events, notably Swansea City’s abandonment of any professional standards during transfer deadline eve, depriving their player Daniel James of his desired (and agreed) move to, yes you’ve guessed it, Leeds United.

The Football League must surely be aware of the old legal maxim “Justice delayed is Justice denied”. It cautions against over-lengthy proceedings which fail to produce timely verdicts, to the disadvantage of all concerned. In a case where the complaint clearly has no legal base to it, relying instead on some undefined principle of broad ethics, the fact that this is still dragging on exposes those who are doing the dragging as incompetent fools. It’s remarkable, too, that we would seem to be waiting for some sanctimonious sermon on good faith, when we had the spectacle of Liverpool clearing one penalty area of snow during a League game, while leaving the other as a snowscape, in an effort to secure a marginal advantage. Is that acting in good faith? But little or nothing has been said – because, of course, it’s not Leeds.

Who knows what the League’s over-lengthy deliberations will ultimately produce by way of a verdict, or what punishment they will see fit to impose. But they appear to have painted themselves into a corner, with the pressure on them to placate those hardly disinterested parties who wish to see Leeds United’s promotion bid disrupted.

It’s a most unedifying tale, and it’s far too late to caution the League against making plonkers of themselves; that has already happened, with the continuing delay merely emphasising their status as being guilty of Rodney-esque plonkerism of the first magnitude. Whether that proceeds into culpable incompetence, with the infliction of some ridiculous punishment for breaking no rules, remains to be seen.

It’s to be hoped that this silly story does not descend into gutter farce. And Leeds United themselves will be hoping that they can yet escape the clutches of this ridiculous organisation, with the expectation that the Premier League would not be quite so laughably, pitifully pathetic.

Football League to Ban Use of Public Highways for Leeds United Employees? – by Rob Atkinson

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Football League Board – due to meet on Thursday

The Football League Board is due to meet on Thursday this week to discuss the “Spygate” controversy and investigate any possible options for sanctions against Leeds United. The League is understood to be frustrated but not discouraged by the fact that no rules or regulations have been broken. The additional fact that the Leeds scout was standing on a public highway and looking through a transparent mesh fence will also be taken into consideration but, again, the Football League remains optimistic that this will not be a bar to some form of punishment for the club, Marcelo Bielsa or, ideally, both.

One possibility that is said to have crossed the minds of certain FL Board members – not a very long journey, it must be said – would be the introduction of a ban on all employees of Leeds United using public highways while failing to avert their eyes from the lawful activities of rival clubs. If some retrospective element could be incorporated in such a ban, then it may yet be possible to punish Leeds, even though United are quite prepared to make the obvious defence that Derby County are not really rivals.

The Football League insists that it is taking its responsibilities towards member clubs determined to throw a spanner in the Leeds United works “very seriously indeed”. A spokesman for the League commented that attempts had been made to distract them from this major issue by raising questions about Leeds United players being headbutted by opponents during matches at Elland Road, with the perpetrators getting off without punishment, “and other such frivolous and irrelevant matters”. He went on to confirm that “nothing will deflect us from pursuing our primary duty, which is to protect our brand and its commercial success by keeping Leeds United down at all costs”. Up to eleven other Championship clubs are said to feel reassured by this stance, with the general feeling being one of confidence that the League would hammer Leeds if at all possible.

Frank Lampard OBE, 40 going on 14, is still prone to tantrums and must be mollified.

 

The Football League Should be Apologising to Leeds Utd, Not Investigating Them – by Rob Atkinson

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Football League board – time to say “sorry” to Leeds United

Any balanced view of this season’s Championship competition will naturally focus on its most prominent, most talked about, most successful and most controversial club and coach – namely Leeds United and Marcelo Bielsa. And that view, if it really is sufficiently balanced, will be that both club and coach are by far more sinned against than sinning. The Football League, instead of announcing yet another investigation into their biggest attraction, following the latest ridiculously overhyped storm in a teacup, should instead be issuing a grovelling apology to the players, staff and fans of Leeds United – because the Whites have ascended to and maintained their position at the top of the table with what is effectively a millstone around their collective neck.

Consider the evidence. Against a background of a disastrous injury list which has blighted most of the season so far, the League has consistently acted, via their supposedly neutral on-field arbiters, to make life far more difficult than that heavy casualty count alone would have achieved. As if it’s not enough for United to be labouring under the burden of the loss of so many key players, they have also been denied stonewall penalty after stonewall penalty, on an almost game-by-game basis, while some of the softest awards you can imaging have been given at the other end. The Leeds penalty award count now stands at one in around seventy league matches, a quite ridiculous proportion for a team that regularly has a high number of touches in the opposition area.

And it’s not just penalties. Pontus Jansson, victim of a stupidly soft second yellow card at the weekend, has already served a ban this season for comments about the match referee, made in the immediate aftermath of a hotly contested game. Identical incidents elsewhere resulted in no charge and no further action, but Pontus was banned – seemingly for the offence of committing his indiscretion while wearing a Leeds United shirt. Now Jansson will be banned again for the away game at Rotherham, having been sent off ultimately at Stoke for falling over in pursuit of a Stoke attacker whose progress was not impeded in any way.

And of course, there’s Spygate – something the League clearly sees as a golden chance to throw a spanner in the works of what is, so far, a remarkably successful season for a squad which is basically last season’s also-rans plus a scattering of talented kids. From the outside looking in, the mountain of a formal investigation being made out of the molehill of a bloke on a public highway looking through a wire fence at Derby players training in plain sight is truly laughable. The League do not seem to shy away from the prospect of making the,selves look very silly over this, prompted by a select group of rival Championship clubs who clearly see no alternative way of pegging Leeds back. It’s almost as if the League don’t want to see Leeds United leaving their jurisdiction, for some (possibly financial) reason – but surely, that can’t be the case. Can it?

If Leeds United succeeds in attaining promotion this season, as they still appear on course to do, it will be little short of a miracle. With few high profile additions, and those with serious injury problems, the team performance has been transformed out of all recognition as compared to last season. That is the genius of Marcelo Bielsa, and credit to the squad for buying into his methods and philosophy. But that this group of players, supplemented where necessary by callow youth, should be dominating each game and the whole campaign with such obstacles laid so regularly in their way, is truly remarkable. Leeds and Bielsa deserve a vast amount of credit for their revolutionary approach to bring about such radical improvement, and surely all true Leeds fans will happily pay tribute to exactly that.

But Leeds and Bielsa also deserve perhaps even greater credit for rising above the needless and frivolous forces working against them, whether those forces may be incompetent refereeing as is demonstrably the case in so many fixtures, or indeed the pettifogging attitude of the ruling body, so ready to pounce on a virtual non-issue and magnify it into something that has the anti-Leeds media frothing over with malicious excitement.

This daft investigation should be concluded speedily, with any necessary clarification of rules, or any new rules, made clear forthwith. Leeds must be acknowledged as having broken no existing rules; instead they have merely acted, through the experience and long-standing methodology of Bielsa, as many have acted in the past, including such a luminary as Jose Mourinho (by his own admission and despite limp denials from Frank Lampard). That should all happen at the earliest possible juncture.

And then the League, in recognition of the myriad ways they have failed their biggest club this season, should hold up their hands, eat a large slice of humble pie – and say “sorry” to Leeds United.

Leeds Fans’ Horror and Disgust at Holier Than Thou Frank Lampard’s 9/11 Shame – by Rob Atkinson

 

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Lampard – holier than thou?

Anyone who’s paid any attention to the sanctimonious ramblings of Derby County manager Frank Lampard Jr, ever since the ever more ridiculous Spygate row emerged, would surely be surprised if not totally shocked at the apparent hypocrisy displayed by this erstwhile member of England’s “Golden Generation”. Lampard, despite prefacing many of his Spygate press answers over the past week with “I really don’t want to talk about that again”, has nevertheless lost few opportunities to express his angelic disapproval of the heinous crime committed by a Leeds United employee, to wit: standing on a public highway and looking through a wire mesh fence instead of averting his eyes. How distasteful it is, then, to discover that Lampard has at least one skeleton in his closet that puts a spot of football espionage distinctly in the shade.

It turns out – and I’ll warn you now if you’re a Fwankie Fan, you’d better look away here – that Lampard, together with three then Chelsea team-mates, found it funny and entertaining to mock and ridicule some grieving American tourists in London just twenty-four hours after the 9/11 Twin Towers attacks in 2001

A manager at Heathrow’s Post House hotel, where the disgraceful incident occurred, said: “They were utterly disgusting. They just didn’t seem to care about what had happened. We had a lot of Americans here and were simply trying to comfort them in their hour of need. Meanwhile these men were laughing and joking, taking off their clothes and abusing our guests.” Another witness said: “One of them was walking around laughing with everything hanging out, while on TV there were crying firemen searching for bodies. It was sick.”

The nature and timing of such shameful behaviour rather takes your breath away and, even allowing for the fact that boys will be boys etc, the disgusting lack of respect and empathy for people still shocked and stunned by the appalling events in Manhattan is hard to describe – except, perhaps, to remind those lining up to condemn Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds United that there have been worse things going on at various times, despite vociferous attempts to paint Spygate as an Eighth Deadly Sin.

Looking back over the past week, with this appalling episode in mind, it’s hard to stomach the holier-than-thou look on Lampard’s face as he’s presumed to lecture somebody of vastly superior character, experience and ability about matters such as morals and ethics. And it’s difficult to imagine a clearer case of gutter hypocrisy. Of course, it was a long time ago. But Lampard was no callow teenager, he was a 23-year old who had been awarded representative honours by his country and so was expected to be some sort of ambassador for the nation. Such behaviour is the mark of an arrogant and uncaring thug, and there will be those who would argue that such leopards do not change their spots.

For my part, whatever the eventual outcome of Spygate, I will take no lectures or homilies from Mr Lampard about ethics, morality or anything else. He showed his true colours over 17 years ago, and we can surely be in no doubt as to the less than genuine nature of his carefully cultivated victim persona over the past few days.

Frank Lampard is a media darling, that’s clear enough. But he’s also, at bottom, a nasty little person demonstrably capable of the very worst of human nature. We should all remember that, the next time his hypocritical boat race appears, begging for sympathy and understanding, on our TV screens.

Football League Investigates Leeds but Finds Itself Corrupt by Mistake – by Rob Atkinson

In an amazing twist, the Football League’s probe into the Leeds United “Spygate” allegation has led to a finding that the League itself is corrupt and not fit for purpose. A red-faced FL spokesman admitted that the findings themselves are real enough, but that the direction of the investigation was misconceived. “We didn’t mean to probe ourselves,” the man from the FL confirmed, “That was just an embarrassing mistake that stemmed from noticing Shaun Harvey’s eyes are too close together. But, because the error happened, we now find that we’re utterly corrupt, useless and totally bent out of shape – so I suppose we’ll have to do something about that, like ban ourselves or whatever. It’s all a bit bemusing, all we wanted to do was rattle Leeds United a bit. Deary me”.

What happens next is unclear. The League could appeal against its own findings, but we understand that it’s struggling to find grounds. “We appear to be bang to rights on being as corrupt as you could imagine”, said our man, gloomily. One possibility is that the League might disband itself and turn control of the FL72 over to some less obviously useless organisation, such as the BBC or the Tory Party. The next few days should be very interesting.

Meanwhile, Leeds United are free to continue with preparations for their match at Stoke on Saturday, and a furtive gentleman dressed inconspicuously outside the Potters’ training ground put down his binoculars long enough to confirm that the pre-match build up was “going as well as can be expected”.