Tag Archives: Holland

Football League Effectively Confirms That Nutting Leeds Players at Elland Road is Quite Acceptable – by Rob Atkinson

Krul

Tim Krul takes matters into his own head after Saturday’s Leeds v Norwich game

It is expected that, in line with the Football League‘s permissive policy on headbutting Leeds United footballers, Norwich City goalkeeper Tim Krul will face no further or retrospective action after his final whistle dash to the halfway line, where he “appeared to lean his head into Bamford’s” as tempers ran high.

Normally, this is the sort of aggressive action that could see a player booked or even sent off – and Krul had already been cautioned for a flying elbow into the neck of Tyler Roberts during the first half. But now the Football League have confirmed that, following the precedent set when Brentford’s Sergi Canos nutted United’s Ezgjan Alioski during a match at Elland Road back in October, it is perfectly alright for visiting players to butt anyone they like, as long as the target is wearing a Leeds United shirt.

Football League spokesman Lee D. Shater observed “Yes, this is normally the sort of thing we’d take a dim view of, of course it is. But we have to administer discipline according to precedent, and quite clearly the Brentford incident went unpunished, so Mr. Krul is in the clear as regards to this one”.

When asked by Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything if this wasn’t effectively declaring open season on Leeds players, and laying them wide open to being headbutted willy-nilly, Mr. Shater confined himself to the cryptic statement “Quite frankly, we couldn’t give a toss”. Tim Krul himself stayed true to the native Dutch meaning of his surname, “pig-ignorant”, and declined to comment.

Former League Chairman Alan Hardaker, 107, is still dead.

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“If You Give Leeds the Ball, They Will Make You Dance” RIP Johan Cruyff   –   by Rob Atkinson

Two late greats: Bremner and Cruyff

On April 9th, 1975, four days after my Elland Road debut as a match-going Leeds fan, I was given my first taste of a European night under those towering floodlights, as United faced the cosmopolitan might of Barcelona. The occasion was the European Champions Cup Semi-Final first leg. The challenge for English champions Leeds United was to overcome the Catalan artistry of Barça, the Spanish title holders, who were inspired by the presence in their ranks of more than one Dutch master. The headline act though, without a doubt, was a slim genius by the name of Johan Cruyff.

In the build-up to the game – and having seen United beaten by a Keegan-inspired Liverpool on my “home debut” the Saturday before – I was gripped with fear as to what the Barcelona stars, Cruyff in particular, might do to my heroes in white. Despite the talents of fellow Dutch star Johan Neeskens, Cruyff’s was the name on everybody’s lips, his consummate skill, his ability to “read” the game, the world-record price tag (almost a million pounds!) on his head. The advance publicity was scary, to say the least. But there was also the warmth of respect from the man himself towards Leeds United, a club more usually reviled at home and abroad. Cruyff’s warning to his team-mates and fans about the threat from Elland Road was concise and lyrical. “If you give Leeds the ball,” he remarked, “they will make you dance”.

Leeds dance

This phrase has passed into Leeds United fan folklore, coming as it did from a true world star and a man to strike fear into the heart of any opponent. In the event, United prevailed over two legs of this semi-final, winning the home game by 2-1 and hanging on with ten men for a 1-1 draw in the Nou Camp. But the class of Cruyff was evident to the 50,000 fans inside Elland Road that April evening, as well as to millions more who saw highlights later on TV. He just seemed to have so much time, and I vividly remember him bringing the ball down the centre of the pitch, with the air of a man walking unchallenged on his own back lawn. I saw my first ever “live”Leeds goal that night, fittingly scored by the other late legend in that picture above, Billy Bremner. Sniffer Clarke provided the winner in the second half, and we had that narrow advantage to defend a fortnight later. But few who were there would ever forget the privilege they had of seeing Holland’s – indeed Europe’s – finest ever player, strutting his stuff in grim old West Yorkshire.

Johan Cruyff died last week at the age of 68. A lifelong smoker, until heart problems forced him to quit in the early nineties, it was lung cancer that finally claimed a true legend. His career encompassed great clubs, World Cups, success as a player and a coach. He will always be remembered for his bearing on the pitch, for the élan with which he plied his trade and scored his goals – and, maybe above everything else, for that sublime “Cruyff turn”, so brilliantly and appropriately replicated, as if in tribute, by England’s Harry Kane in the national team’s victory over Germany on Saturday in Berlin. And as this fine young England side prepare to face Cruyff’s Holland on Tuesday night at Wembley, it seems highly apt, if rather poignant and sad, to be paying tribute now to the Netherlands’ greatest ever star.

The memories recalled above are the kind of memories left behind only by players of the very highest quality and reputation. Cruyff was finally awarded the accolade of Europe’s greatest ever player in 1999, and there can be few who would dispute that title even 16 years into the succeeding century. But, as far as Leeds United fans are concerned, we shall remember him above all as the genius who knew that we still had a team to reckon with at Elland Road, kitted out all in white and having long ago superceded Real Madrid. A team who were indeed the real deal, a team of all talents worthy of a place right at the top of football’s Hall of Fame. A team who, given the ball… would make you dance.

Johan Cruyff (1947 – 2016) – RIP

Botaka Attitude and Desire Worth Ten Forestieris to Leeds United  –   by Rob Atkinson

 

Leeds-bound Jordan BotakaThe Wizard

Leeds United have pursued the signature of Fernando Forestieri from Watford these last few days, showing that they rated the player, conducting themselves with respect – and a fair, businesslike attitude towards a significant move in the transfer market. Forestieri did not reciprocate the respect, and his attitude too was found wanting.

It was apparent days before United abandoned their attempts to sign him that Watford’s surplus striker would have had a mountain to climb gaining the approval of Leeds followers. Quite rightly, those passionate and loyal fans expect some eagerness to be shown by potential incoming players, an evident desire to pull on the white shirt. Forestieri showed none of this, and had alienated the Leeds support well before he dropped off United’s radar. Doubtless he will be more suited to the less demanding environment at Hillsborough, where innocently delighted Wendies will ask nothing more of him than that he should choose S6 over LS11.

In the end, Leeds acted decisively, ending their interest in Forestieri and, it seems, making a successful bid for Jordan Botaka, currently of Excelsior in the Dutch Eredivisie. Botaka, 22, known as “The Wizard” for his pace and trickery on the wing, is a full international for Congo and is highly regarded as a player of great skill and enormous potential.

Just as importantly for Whites fans, he has shown the desire that we should expect of a player who wants to come to Leeds and make a real impression. The player describes his impending move to Elland Road as “not a hard decision”. That alone makes him infinitely preferable to the reluctant Forestieri, and it may well be that Leeds have dodged a bullet in avoiding what could well have been a negative element in the squad.

Good luck to Forestieri at the Wendies. On yesterday’s evidence with their limp surrender at home to Middlesbrough, he will probably need it, but at least he’s found himself another comfy, Watford-sized club. Botaka, meanwhile, has shown far more confidence and ambition, for which we roundly applaud him.

It appears also that Leeds might be buying wingers in bulk, with an English-based player also tipped to sign before the window closes. Wolves’ Rajiv van La Parra has been strongly linked, but may prove not be that man. Don’t rule out a loanee central defender either, with Leicester’s Liam Moore consistently talked up as a target. These are busy and exciting times at Elland Road

Welcome to Leeds United, Jordan. Barring any last-minute hitches, you will be joining a club where you can make yourself a legend and become a star with a global fanbase. 

Could Leeds Be Looking For FOUR More Big Signings?   –   by Rob Atkinson

Forestieri – is there something in the air, Fernando?

The Yorkshire derby against Sheffield Wendies has almost been relegated to the inside pages today, with the real headlines being made up of fevered late-window transfer speculation surrounding our very own Leeds United. It could simply be a case of adding two plus two and ending up with well over six million – but it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that United could yet add as many as FOUR more major players to what is presently, by common consent, a talented but sketchily thin squad.

Of course, in the nature of these things – and with the transfer window being a two-way street – even if we do see four high-profile additions, we might also be bidding a few farewells of varying fondness. The least palatable of these could yet involve full-back turned winger-of-sorts Sam Byram. This blog is on record as stating that it could stomach the loss of Sam, if the club’s hand is forced by the approaching termination of his deal, if the price would be right and if quality recruits were to arrive on the back of such a sale. So, although it would be sad to lose a talent like Byram, we could hardly bitch about it at Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything Towers. 

Any other departures would most likely be the more peripheral of our fringe players, and most likely we would all have our own ideas of those most likely to be deemed superfluous to Herr Rösler’s plans. 

So, who might yet arrive? The most exciting news of the day is that United have apparently agreed a deal with Watford for Fernando Forestieri, the type of tricky customer who could provide the longed-for link between midfield and attack. This deal is said to have reached the point where it’s down to club and player to agree personal terms, so it must be rated 9/10 on the scale of likelihood. 

Another name being mentioned today is that of speedy NEC Nijmegen winger Anthony Limbombe – of whom his current club have intriguingly said that he’s had his head turned by interest from Elland Road, to the point where it was felt unwise to include him in the team to play Ajax. There’s no smoke without fire – at least 7/10 for this one. 

And still, with these two attacking players thought to be likely recruits, Leeds fans are greedily eyeing further possibilities. Central defender Liam Moore of Leicester City didn’t look the most composed performer for England U-21s this summer – then again, you’re no mug to get as far as pulling that shirt on. With the difficulty Leeds are having forming a secure-looking defence, Moore’s name is still out there, probably as a loan with a view to buy. 5/10 here. 

And, lastly but definitely not leastly, our old friend Joey Barton is still without a club, having recently been spurned by West Ham. The Hammers might just be having second thoughts now, having had the hubris arising out of a win at Arsenal dispersed by two home defeats since. But an unattached Joey is still a fascinating prospect for a sleeping giant of Leeds United proportions – though you suspect that, if it was going to happen, it’d probably have been done and dusted by now. Still – 4.5/10. 

What does seem certain is that, after we were told a couple of weeks ago that our transfer business was all but done, there still seems to be a fair chance that the last week or so of this window could be a very interesting time for Leeds United fans. 

Watch this space…

Former Leeds Man Sabella Outwits Man Utd Boss van Gaal in World Cup – by Rob Atkinson

Alejandro Sabella - formerly of Elland Road parish

Alejandro Sabella – formerly of Elland Road parish

So we are to be spared a rerun of the 1974 World Cup Final, when a technically superior Holland contrived somehow to lose to those pesky, arrogant Deutschers. Instead, it will be a best of three decider as Argentina and Germany, tied after the tournaments of 1986 and 1990 at one head-to-head World Cup apiece, do battle in Brazil for the title of ultimate Champions 2014 style.

In truth, all that will be decided is who is the best of an indifferent bunch at this over-hyped, over-rated tournament. Germany booked their Final place on Tuesday, beating a Brazil side of whom their angry fans could with justification sing “It’s just like watching Barnsley”. The Germans had nowt to beat, as we say in God’s Own Country, but they will find Argentina a much tougher proposition. To Messi and his men falls the responsibility of preserving South American infallibility where tournaments held in the Americas are concerned. No European side has ever won the World Cup over there – can a good but by no means brilliant Germany really be the first?

The second semi-final saw Holland keep up their own 100% record of World Cup failure. Having confirmed his position of World’s Best Coach, in the eyes of the Man U-obsessed British press at least, by a quirky goal-keeping substitution against Costa Rica, Pride of Devon manager-elect van Gaal then brilliantly decided to stick with his number one No. 1 Cillessen for this shoot-out. Predictably, his confidence affected by that bizarre substitution, the poor lad didn’t get near most of the Argentinean penalties, as erstwhile super-sub Krul sat despondent and abandoned on the bench. So Holland are out, their Manchester-bound coach out-foxed by honorary Yorkshireman Alejandro Sabella, once of the Sheffield Blades and, more pertinently, the Whites of Leeds United.

Who, then, will emerge victorious now? Germany will be on a high after their candy-from-a-baby beating of the Worst Brazil Side Ever. But they’re not anywhere near as good as the hosts made them look – and, if Messi can put in just one truly Messi-esque performance, Europe will be left waiting for its first Americas Cup. That’s the prediction of Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything. Argentina to win, without the need for extra time or a penalty lottery – Germany to be left reflecting that you get nowt for being second, as the Greatest Club Captain of all once said. It’s going to be World Cup glory for ex-Leeds Man Sabella – and with an enviable pedigree like that, will it really be a surprise?

Louis van Gaal “May Need Surgery” Ahead of Man U Job – by Rob Atkinson

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Louis van Gaal – Ouch!

Alarming news for Man U fans is emerging from Brazil, where their club’s manager-in-waiting has charge of the Dutch squad as Holland bid to win the 2014 World Cup. It appears that Louis van Gaal will probably need lengthy medical treatment for what is being described as “acute peri-anal discomfort” consequent upon a stretching of more than just the truth by the English press corps – who have, of course, had precious little to write about since England’s meek departure from the tournament.

A Dutch spokesman shared his insider’s knowledge with Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything. “Louis was fine, just fine,” he confirmed, “Then England went out and everything just got weird. At first, the English press guys just sat around, making up stories about Ross McCormack of Leeds United. But then, a few of them remembered that Louis is due to be the new Man U manager and, before any of us realised what was happening, about half a dozen of them crawled straight up his arse, causing significant damage and no little embarrassment.”

This sort of rectal intrusion by press hacks from England’s seedier papers is sadly nothing new when it comes to Lancashire’s least club. Wayne Rooney, such a promising performer for England in his Everton days, made a pivotal decision to switch from being “once a blue, always a blue”, joining the Pride of Devon – with the result we’ve all seen only too clearly. Before long, he had four or five of Fleet Street’s finest lodged firmly halfway up his small intestine and, as we all know, he’s never really been the same since.  David Moyes also suffered at the start of last season, but the invasion of his fundament cleared quite rapidly as he demonstrated his utter cluelessness.

Holland’s medical staff are very concerned about the long-term damage caused to their chief’s lower digestive tract – and several are calling for some moderation of the press pack’s behaviour. “We expected a certain amount of over-the-top adulation,” said one, “We knew that Louis would suddenly be hailed the finest coach in the world, a superb tactician and man-manager, all of the usual malarkey. But to shoot straight up his backside like that….” The glum Dutch medico winced and shook his head, sadly. “It’s horrible, simply horrible. I doubt he’ll be able to sit down this side of Man U’s next FA Cup exit. This sort of press behaviour is uncalled for and should schimply schtop.”

Fans of the Pride of Devon had been looking forward to welcoming van Gaal to the Theatre of Hollow Myths in time for the Premier League also-rans’ opening League fixture – but it now seems certain that extensive therapy will be needed after the sycophantic excesses of certain Fourth Estate representatives. One fan, speaking directly to Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything from his supporters club HQ in Exeter, expressed anger and betrayal at the actions of the press. “They’m be ruinin’ Yew-noited’s chaaaaances,” he retorted through a mouthful of zoider and a straw between his teeth. “We’m strugglin’ already to qualifoy fer Europe never moind win stuff as is our roight. Things bain’t goin’ to be any easier if the boss is huuurrt and in Aaaaaaarz-piddle, all becuz of this ‘ere koind o’ thing”.

The latest on this story is that van Gaal’s condition has “eased somewhat” in the wake of the Netherlands’ narrow victory over Mexico to reach the World Cup quarter-finals.  This is thought to be due to the re-emergence of one press hack from the Dutch coach’s fundament.  Mike Crap, of the Scum, re-entered daylight on the final whistle, admitting that he was no longer convinced that van Gaal is the best.  “A few of the boys have stayed up there,” he admitted, “Guys from the Mirror, the Sport, Sky TV and that. They’ll still be writing van Gaal up as the world’s best, but I’m not so sure. I wish now that Dave Hockaday hadn’t turned the Man U job down, but he simply had a better offer. We’ll have to keep the faith with van Gaal, but I’m not so sure after the Mexico performance.  Still, they got through – and there’s still this feeling that Man U really can win the World Cup.  And I can tell you for sure that Ross McCormack is leaving Leeds United – he’s bound for Fulham, 100% certain.  Or Sheffield Wednesday, maybe.  Or Newcastle, if we’re really going to take the Mick.”

Louis van Gaal is currently unavailable for comment, sitting on a rubber ring.