Tag Archives: farce

Time to Unleash Hell on This Leeds United Soap Opera Farce – by Rob Atkinson

Time for Crowe to enter the arena.

Time for Crowe to enter the arena

I’m going to keep this short and sour, because it’s late and I’m tired – and more than a little naffed-off after yet another day when Leeds United appears to have done its level best to give itself a good old kicking in the gonads. Whatever the ins and outs – assistant coach suspended after playing his part in a recent recovery, leading goalscorer marginalised for fear of him (horror of horrors) scoring more goals for his club, head coach bemused and disillusioned and considering his exit strategies – the net effect is simple and unambiguous. This is just not good enough. It absolutely will not do. Leeds United is a world-renowned football institution of proud history and immense reputation, with a loyal and fanatical global following – it deserves better. We deserve better – all of us.

Today is one of those days when the little flame of hope and optimism you’ve been warmed by recently flickers and blows out, leaving you cold and in the dark. It’s a day when you realise that the current incarnation of Leeds United is a sick joke. I won’t even say soap opera or farce, as per the title above – because no-one would have the brass neck to write it. It’d get laughed off stage or screen and the author carted off to the funny farm to wear a back-to-front jacket and take his ease in a comfily-padded cell. The thing about sick jokes is that they’re frequently just not funny. Such is the case – as far as Whites fans are concerned – with their beloved Leeds. The rest of football, though, will be chortling happily away, bad cess to them.

This latest experiment has failed. It’s time for the owner and his confused, confusing little band to back off and let someone else have a go. I say this with a heavy heart as someone who has backed Cellino as he fought against the Football League, an organisation I despise for hypocrites and buffoons. It was a case of “mine enemy’s enemy is my friend” – but there’s a limit. We had the humiliating succession of failed coaching appointments in the early part of the season. That was enough to stretch anyone’s loyalty. But still, many of us stayed loyal, wanting to believe in an anti-establishment maverick. At his best, Cellino just seemed so Leeds. He seemed to “get” the whole United thing. But it was a false dawn that has heralded a succession of depressing and soul-destroying days – the latest of which we have just winced and cringed our way through. It’s time to try yet another new direction.

The long-running Russell Crowe story has refused to go away and, it has to be said, the flames have been fanned more than somewhat by the man himself. Some raise doubts about his financial clout, but few seem to doubt his Leeds-supporting credentials – and what we need now more than ever is a fan in high places. And Crowe can attract financial muscle, as witness his involvement with the oddly-named Rabbitohs RL club in Australia. Crowe has the global profile; if he can carry along with him someone of sufficient wealth, then for goodness’ sake, let’s move on and give him a chance. How much better could we really do, given the current bleakly depressing state of affairs?

Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything is not ashamed to reassess its attitude towards the current regime at Leeds United. We’re being held up as a laughing-stock and that is simply intolerable. So let’s get behind the concept of change, not for change’s sake, but with a view to getting a real fan on board, someone who feels the pain and hungers for glory. Someone as impatient and pissed off as we are. Someone like Russell Crowe, and such minted partners as he may well be able to muster – and the newly-formalised fans group LLP. Why not? Leeds United remains an incredible opportunity for the right person or group of people. It’s the last true sleeping giant. It’s iconic and oozing potential.

Let’s do this – let’s unleash hell – before we all end up there.

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Time to Get Back to Leeds United FOOTBALL Club – by Rob Atkinson

LUFC - Leeds United Farce Club

LUFC – Leeds United Farce Club

The football part of the Leeds United year – that bit where we actually put a team out onto a grassy field to take on and hopefully defeat another team – is over.  In truth, there wasn’t that much football to talk about even while the season was going on.  And yet football remains what it is all about for Leeds United – or, at least, what it should be all about.  Hence the title of this article.  I’ve even helpfully  put the word “FOOTBALL” in upper case, to emphasise its theoretical importance.

Because, over the past few years, the actual footballing aspect of Leeds United’s activities seems to have dwindled away somewhat – it has faded into the background as other issues have assumed an unwanted prominence.  The very nature of the focus put upon the club by the outside world has changed; there has generally been far more to talk or to write about off the field as opposed to on it.  Whatever the rights and wrongs of how this has come about, it is most definitely not A Good Thing.

Lately, those iconic initials LUFC have been a lie – or at least not the whole truth.  What we have been following could instead have been described in other terms – Leeds United Soap Opera, for instance.  Leeds United Farce. Leeds United Three Ring Circus, or even Leeds United Police Five.  The club has been in an almost perpetual state of flux over the past three years – and before that, what might have been described as a period of stability was actually anything but; the nature of the despot at the top of the pile saw to that.

At the risk of seeming glib and facile, what is urgently needed now is to get back to being about football.  That’s how it used to be, for most of the first thirty years of my support.  In that time, we were subjected to a varying degree of competence or incompetence as our beloved Whites set about their business in the sphere of professional sport, with varying degrees of success.  But that was where the focus was; the enemy was without and not within.  We were all about trying to defeat our competitors and get Leeds United as near as possible to the very top.

The club we have now, though, is not only under attack from the outside; it is beset by problems of an internal nature, to a far greater degree than at any other time I can remember.  We always had our problems at Leeds, but they were football problems – relegations, semi-final defeats, dodgy refereeing decisions and of course the permanent enmity and malevolence of the Football League.  This situation created the Leeds United that I love; the Damned United, the United with a siege complex where the feeling was one of “you might hate us, all of you out there – but that hate makes us stronger”.

Now, the siege complex is still there, but we’re having to look to the situation behind our own ramparts for the greatest danger to our prospects of becoming once more a great and successful football club.  The continual back-biting and internecine squabbling in the boardroom; cameras in that boardroom and bizarrely also in the toilets; stories of Class A drug use making the location of those cameras in the conveniences that bit less strange; a state-of-the-art surveillance suite located above Subway just across the road, that our former dictator might still be privy to everything that’s said or done.  It’s not even the stuff of a James Bond movie – more like some tacky and down-market 007 imitation, like the dreadful American “Our Man Flint“.  It’s embarrassing and harmful; it’s a million miles away from where we want and need to be.

Last season, things on the field were so bad from Christmas onwards, that we’ve ended up trying to take some comfort in the fact that we’ve finished once more as the top Yorkshire club.  I hate to say it, but being top club in Yorkshire these days is a bit like being the tallest mountain in Holland – not much to write home about.  In the light of what we now understand has been going on behind the scenes, though, the waning of the team’s performance in the second half of the season is, perhaps, a little more understandable.

After all, any top club needs to run like a well-oiled machine; there needs to be a feeling of smoothness and harmony to inculcate that sense of professional excellence.  It’s a game of fine margins – each and every club needs all the edge it can get, and the feel of the place is an important part of that.  The players at Leeds United must have felt, lately, that they were playing for Fred Karno’s Army – and performances dipped accordingly. With those fine margins, it doesn’t take much to derail a club’s season entirely – and this is precisely what has happened.  It’s simply elementary sports psychology – the collapse of Leeds’ season is amply demystified by those revelations of chaos and strife behind the scenes.  Clear-sighted fans who have said that – without McCormack’s goals – we might well have gone down are extremely close to the bulls-eye.

Now we have the new broom in Cellino, which appears resolved to sweep clean.  Already, one of those enemies without – the trashy and ridiculous Daily Star – is trying to foment rebellion, stating that Leeds fans are furious at the possible dismissal, along with other staff, of legends Eddie Gray and Peter Lorimer.  But that’s OK; hostility from the gutter press has always been part of the Leeds United experience – long may it remain so.  The real question is of whether Cellino, by his actions over the summer, can bring about a healthier internal state of affairs whilst keeping the fans onside.

There are rumblings of discontent, certainly.  The proposed closure of Thorp Arch over summer smacks of penny-pinching parsimony, just at the time when those dare-to-dreamers had started singing “Dirty Leeds, Filthy Rich”.  The financial landscape should become clearer over the summer; meanwhile the closure of Thorp Arch still lacks the poverty-stricken overtones of the culling of Publicity Pete’s rented tropical fish.

If Cellino can clear out the nasties from inside the club – and indeed from over the road above Subway – then he will have taken important strides towards providing a newly-professional atmosphere within Leeds United for the re-opening of business in July.  That, for now, is his main priority in the view of this blog.  If that involves the loss of the likes of Lorimer – reviled not long back as Bates’ yes-man – and even Eddie Gray – who must now view being sacked by Leeds as one of things that just happens to him now and then – well, so be it. Cellino has got to be allowed to go forward in his own manner, and – as long as that direction really is forward – we simply have to let him get on with it.

All we should really be asking of next season is the re-emergence of Leeds United as a football club, first, last and foremost.  Enough of the embarrassing sideshows.  Enough of conflicting egos, spinning us lines and eyeing up a swift and risk-free profit.  The objective has to be the placing of our best foot forward onto the first rung of that ladder back to the top.  All else is so much hogwash and hot air.

Let’s just remember that the “F” in “LUFC” stands for Football and not Farce. Because it’s been the other way around for much too long already.