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Leeds United Must Beware Potential Baggies Banana Skin – by Rob Atkinson

marcelo-bielsa-se-vuelve-aun-mas-loco-sus-jugadores-tienen-que-recoger-basura

Marcelo Bielsa – taking nothing for granted

West Bromwich Albion, one of the pre-season Championship promotion favourites, have been distinctly off-colour lately, sinking to seventh in the table after defeat at Hull City became the latest example of points carelessly dropped by a talented squad that should be doing much better. This miserable run of form has put Leeds United‘s own recent blip into sharp perspective; despite injuries and a number of, shall we say, controversial decisions against them, the Whites have contrived to stay top of an extremely competitive league, and will head to The Hawthorns aiming to consolidate that position.

Yes, the misfiring Baggies have had their own injury worries, but manager Darren Moore will not be looking for any excuses ahead of a mouth-watering clash with Yorkshire’s finest. In point of fact, Moore should be able to welcome back a number of key players ahead of Saturday’s evening kick off, including the prolific (at this level) striker Dwight Gayle, who would certainly need a close eye keeping on him by a Leeds defence slightly unbalanced by the injury absences of Luke Ayling and Gaetano Berardi. Certainly, more problems can be expected from the Albion attack than the meagre threat posed by Wigan last weekend, and United will need to be wary of what is essentially a wounded and therefore dangerous animal in West Brom.

It’s a classic situation of a team bouncing back to the top of the league after a slightly difficult period, going to visit a team on the crest of a slump. So often, the confidence of the higher-placed outfit turns out to be misplaced as the home side is inspired by the challenge and comes sailing out of the doldrums to win. This is the potential banana skin waiting in the path of the Leeds juggernaut, and club, players and fans alike would do well to be extremely wary of the challenge that faces them on Saturday.

Of course, the world’s best coach isn’t likely to be all wide-eyed and unknowing, and will have his men adequately prepared. Even so, and having witnessed a win at Wigan that was a lot less convincing than it should have been, I have a slightly nervous feeling about this one. Really, a side settling well into the Bielsaball concept should be looking to deal with any and all resistance – but we know that, in the real world of dog eat dog Championship football, it frequently doesn’t work out quite so tidily clear-cut. If Leeds can add a clinical edge to their finishing, and retain the ability to dominate possession, create chances and cover back in numbers, then three points at West Brom is distinctly achievable.

Anything less than that level of performance, though, and we could well slip up on that banana skin. Fingers crossed that, with yet another international break looming, Leeds are ready to sign off this segment of the season with a performance that ticks all the necessary boxes. 

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Twitter Fans to Demand Leeds Only Sign Players Who Don’t Get Injured – by Rob Atkinson

LUFC Twitter

A Leeds United tweeter, yesterday

Storms in teacups and mountains made out of molehills. These are both specialities of the whinging, petulant, spoilt toddler types that appear to make up an uncomfortably large proportion of the Leeds United Twitter brigade. Time and time again, we see them launching into yet another rant when anything goes wrong at Elland Road. The latest mass tantrum is over Tyler Roberts‘ reported training ground injury from earlier in the week, with some suspecting that a knock the young striker was carrying when he moved from West Brom was actually something more sinister.

Whatever the facts of the case, the over-reaction from United’s more hysterical social media mouthpieces has been little short of embarrassing. And it’s a phenomenon not confined to injuries – anything negative is immediately seized upon and criticised with what almost amounts to a masochistic glee. This is no exaggeration. Certain alleged Leeds fans appear to like nothing more than a bit of a crisis, anything that shows the club in a bad light. They can then flap their virtual gums, competing with each other, so it appears, for the title of who can be the most pessimistic and ridiculously over-the-top negative. It inevitably degenerates into a why-oh-why session, with the usual suspects hurling abuse at the club they purport to follow. Naturally, the more moderate fans get sick of it, and a war of words ensues. It’s all so pointless, and it makes you wonder what other clubs’ fans think of our numerous bad apples – to say nothing of the Leeds players themselves, who must sometimes look on aghast.

It’s got to the point where I honestly feel we’d be better off without a large proportion of our social media “fans”. A lot of them seem to be there wholly or mainly to seek attention, or start an argument from the safely anonymous position of behind their keyboards. I swear that, in the days before so many virtual platforms were available – and when there was a lot more to moan about – there was less of this constant, dreary carping and moaning. Too much of that in the real, physical world of the terraces or the post-match pub would see persistent offenders in receipt of a thick ear, if they were lucky. But the virtual world is a safer place, and these needy types sally forth with impunity.

Some day, somebody will come up with an alternative word for a football adherent to the currently used “supporter” – and it won’t be a day too soon. Because what we see far too regularly on Twitter, Facebook etc etc, cannot be called support. It’s divisive, unhelpful, disloyal – the very antithesis of what football support used to be all about. My dearest wish is that a few of these discontented, attention-seeking, incognito inadequates should seek out other interests in life, and let the rest of us have a debate that hasn’t been dipped and soaked through in the Slough of Despond. Perhaps they could get hobbies, or girlfriends, or boyfriends, or whatever. I suspect that Twitter‘s gain has been a loss to the formerly popular pastimes of stamp-collecting or train-spotting. At least the Twatteratti would meet a few kindred spirits in those areas.

If I sound bitter, it’s because I am. I’ve no choice but to plough through the LUFC hashtag daily, I rely on it as a source of information, or at least as a pointer for where information might be found. To have the Twitter feed clogged with such gloom and doom merchants, who clearly relish and rejoice in their own negativity, is annoying to say the very least. It makes an ordeal out of what should be a useful online repository of fact and opinion.

Let’s be clear: players do get injured, it’s an unfortunate fact of life. For an injury such as that suffered by Tyler Roberts to cause such an explosion of witless whinging is simply unacceptable. Man up and support the club, for Don’s sake. And if you can’t bring yourself to do that, then at least have the grace to stop whining – and get that stamp album out. After all, philately could get you anywhere. Preferably, far away from anything to do with Leeds United.

How Yesteryear’s Thugs Have Become Today’s Sad Old Men in LUFC Cyberspace – by Rob Atkinson

Aggressive (but well-disguised) - the archetypal old-time Leeds thug

Aggressive (but well-disguised) – the archetypal old-time Leeds thug

The idea of some “glory era” of football hooliganism is, of course, a contradiction in terms. Football hooliganism, as practiced by adherents of many football clubs around the world, was never about glory. Rather it was an outlet of sorts for testosterone-fuelled negative energy among mainly younger men, who delighted in the potential for a physical confrontation loosely based on sporting rivalry. There was nothing glorious about it; usually in fact there was a dependence upon an element of surprise and the advantage of greater numbers to emerge as “winners”. It was a pain in the neck for authorities both inside and outside of football; for the public who just wanted to support their team – and for what might be called innocent bystanders, who just happened to be in the vicinity when these idiots met looking for savage fulfilment. Football thugs were scary only to each other, really. To those above such primitive displays of attention-seeking, they were no more or less than anti-social pests.

The problem with any mob is the impressionable and easily-led types attracted by the feeling of “belonging” and the adrenalin rush induced by the thought of being pitched against an opposing force. One theory is that those involved will, in time, grow out of what is basically an extension of unruly little boys fighting in a playground. Bewilderingly, though, some people show no signs of wanting to abandon childish pursuits, and are still attempting to demonstrate machismo and aggression well into beery middle-age. There’s an obvious element of compensation going on; the individuals concerned know that their youth and vigour has gone, but – lacking any alternative outlet due to inadequate intelligence – they can’t let themselves admit it.

Today's Service Crew hoolie

Today’s Service Crew hoolie

Comically, the main outlet for such types – in these days of omnipresent CCTV, anyway – is the internet. Cyberspace is, it turns out, a peculiarly friendly environment for those who wish to continue espousing anti-social and violent sentiments, even at an age when they should have grown up and moved on to more adult preoccupations. The capacity of the internet for preserving the anonymity of an individual or group with negative intentions towards society at large is a gift for your average ageing ex-thug. There are several benefits of such a very incognito way of carrying on, which play into the hands and cater for the needs of overgrown playground warriors.

The main thing today’s ex-hooligan turned internet tough old man needs is the presence of a good few like-minded chaps of sufficiently feeble intellect and, ideally, that yearning need to recapture those long-ago days when they could scare people in real-life physical confrontation. Then, as now, the important thing will be the ability to identify with a cadre of “lads”, sticking together in the face of authority and anyone who might wish to challenge such an outdated point of view. It goes back to that urgent need to belong, so characteristic of those who always did feel unable to stand alone and plough their own furrow. It’s the herd instinct carried over into the virtual world: don’t mess with us, we are many and you are few. So it was back in the day, and so it is today – only, with advancing years the ability to either absorb or dish out any genuine punishment has dwindled away to nothing. But advancing age doesn’t seem to encourage the overgrown “lad” to wish to grow up and act as an adult. The former thug has become, against his own will and self-image, what is essentially a sad old man – and there’s a great deal of mutual reassurance from other desperate, sad, internet tough-guys needed to salve that particular wound.

Disappointingly, my own club has as many of these pensionable hooligan types acting in its name as any other. In days gone by, Leeds United had this “firm” (that’s what they called themselves, with no apparent appreciation of irony) who were known as the “Service Crew“, due to their predilection for raising hell after being conveyed to away games via rail and other services, knocking on for forty years ago. At that time, the Service Crew were one of many notorious “firms” who used the occasion of their respective football clubs playing each other, to meet and anthropologically posture at each other. Actual explosions of violence were by no means the norm, although such incidents as did occur naturally made the headlines. But so much of it was the kind of ritual aggression-displays you see on David Attenborough documentaries, where mindless animals, driven by raging hormones, act ridiculously from the onlooker’s point of view – simply to establish territorial or sexual claims. The parallels to be drawn between hooligan and ape are almost irresistible – but it’s important to remember that, while the ape is exhibiting instinctive behaviour vital to establishing itself within a peer group, your average yob is showing no more than a weak intellect and an inability to take on board more than a few pints without descending to the level of dumb beasts.

In this regard, the Leeds Service Crew were no better and no worse than many others. Their claims of predominance notwithstanding, the Crew were just another bunch of pests making life a misery for other sections of society on regular Saturday afternoons around the country. The tragedy of today is that – although football hooliganism has been marginalised by surveillance technology, almost to the point where, as a phenomenon, it is dead – nevertheless, some ageing boneheads refuse to let go of the compulsion to identify themselves as “lads”. In middle-aged men, that’s not only bizarre – it’s laughably embarrassing. But the fact remains that, even nowadays when their former exploits have been just about stamped out, the Service Crew still feels the need to identify itself as a collective which misses what it would term as the “good old days” of football violence. So, they have this forum, where they can chortle about those old days, swap memories both real and apocryphal, share their hideously outdated political and social positions and generally carry on like a gang of anti-social kids even though many of them are well into physical dissolution and should be doing something healthy like sorting the garden out.

The Service Crew forum actually used to serve a purpose not all that long ago. Like its slightly watered-down counterpart WACCOE, it used to be a half-decent source of Leeds-related news and gossip, although obviously there was still that element of tough talk, threats and posturing going on in the background. Boys, after all, will be boys – even old, fat, bald ones.

These days – and this applies equally to the Service Crew forum and WACCOE – the useful content has almost disappeared. Both sites have degenerated into what might best be described as a virtual “peeing highest up the wall” contest, as the usual crowd of insecure inadequates strive to out-do each other, whether that be in the context of weak jokes, fascist propaganda, or simply ganging up on any contributor who doesn’t conform to the group ethos. The surprises come in the lengths to which some will go in order to seek the approval of their bone-headed peers. Desperate for kudos, some middle-aged or elderly morons will happily transgress boundaries of behaviour that an adolescent would think twice before crossing – and will receive the sniggering approval of his fellow reprobates. You find yourself having to shake your head, reminding yourself that some of these people are grandparents. The mind boggles.

From some points of view, of course, all of the above represents progress. Football violence has died an unlamented death as a major player in modern fan culture. It rears its ugly head so rarely today, and is confined to just a few notorious clubs – so as a social irritant, it’s more or less disappeared – which at least makes the match-going experience that bit more pleasant for the grown-ups. But the price for all this would seem to be an insidious process whereby formerly quite readable fan sites are becoming hackneyed examples of mass attention-seeking, virtual posturing, recurrent cyber-bullying and the expression of views and standards deemed unacceptable in this century. It’s a pity – for anyone who might wish to trawl the net for anything useful in connection with their favourite football club.

For myself, as a moderate Leeds United fan with left-wing views, some areas of the net are becoming almost no-go areas – always allowing for the fact that I find it amusing to wind up some fairly hard-of-thinking and gullible types who find their refuge on the more extreme, FV-nostalgic boards – the Service Crew Forum being probably the most obvious example. On such occasions as I do engage with these less-than-able types, it’s usually a salutary reminder that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword. But the sad thing is that another formerly usable site has become useless – and there aren’t enough truly well-informed and worthy places on the web for that to be something we can afford.

Some consolation may be derived from the thought that, just as actual hooligans have decayed and become too old to indulge in the physical stuff, so too will this middle-aged and elderly generation of virtual thugs eventually pass by and disappear into doddering senility – some self-evidently, earlier than others. The general trend is one of progress towards enlightenment, towards a time when the negative factors are removed, one by one, from the game that most of us can love without feeling the need to kick somebody’s head in, or even indulge in a little cyber-posturing. Such a desirable state of affairs would probably imply the demise of the Service Crew forum, of WACCOE, and of a couple of other havens for the insecure and deluded latterday “lads”. And that – as any intelligent recent visitor to either of the sites referred to above might agree – would be no bad thing.

Leeds United Fans – Why do Some Appear to Revel in Negativity? – by Rob Atkinson

Leeds, Leeds, Leeds!

Leeds, Leeds, Leeds!

I’ve read a couple of articles lately, both decently-written and making some good points – but both leaving me despairing over the massively negative attitude current among a certain section of Leeds “support”.  The tendency, in fact is not only massively negative, it’s eagerly, loudly, brassily negative.  It embraces negativity and holds it close like it never wants to let it go.  It’s the very antithesis of what support should be all about. It’s defeatism in its most depressing and demoralising form; if these articles had been written in wartime, they may very well have been taken out and shot.

The common theme of course, hammered home with relish and supportive statistics, is that We Are Not A Big Club Anymore.  The people saying this say it passionately and with conviction.  Not only do they wish to believe that Leeds aren’t a big club, the very idea that some fans may not believe this – may, in fact be holding dear the belief that United are still big – clearly upsets and offends them.  They crop up everywhere, these pallid little people, spreading their message of gloom and churning out invidious comparisons by the bucketload.  They’re becoming an effective voice wherever fans gather together to discuss matters Leeds.  In fact there’s only one real problem with their whole campaign. It’s utter, unmitigated bollocks.

The fact of the matter is, no club is bigger or smaller than its fanbase, its potential for support.  A very reliable gauge of this is freely available in these tech-savvy days we live in. It’s what is nattily called “online presence”.  Give your mouse some exercise and find out for yourself – if you don’t already know.  In cyberworld, second division, under-achieving, out-spent and unregarded Leeds United are absolutely HUGE.  This is the best barometer you could wish for of the measure of passion out there, the incredible hunger and thirst for any morsel of news, any topic of debate about the Mighty Whites of LS11. They’re out there, right now, all over the globe.  They’re clicking away at their computer terminals reading and digesting, or they’re writing in dozens of languages about Leeds past, present and future.  Our great days on the field are an increasingly distant memory, and a large proportion of the match-day support of a decade ago are marginalised and still priced out of actual engagement with the match-going experience, despite a return to relative sanity in the pricing structure.  But around the globe, in the ether, over the airwaves and most importantly inside the heads of millions of fanatics, Leeds United are top four, a phenomenon.

So, why this overweening eagerness to paint us as a small club?  Is it the tiresome need of social writers to dress themselves up as that bit different?  You know – slightly windswept and interesting, with that world-weary air of cynicism etching attractive lines into their fashionably-troubled yet intellectual brows.  It’s odd.  Any real pretensions to “cool” tend to be dissipated by the unseemly scramble to out-do each other in the negativity stakes, and they’re usually followed by eager-beaver starry-eyed acolytes who wish to attach themselves to any view that doesn’t qualify as mainstream.  Perhaps that’s the answer – are we dealing with an online football-flavoured brand of snob obscurantism?

I’m not advocating the other pole of this issue, by the way.  That worryingly Freudian habit of a certain Franchise’s fans to shout from the virtual rooftops about how they’re the biggest, the best and totally huge and wonderful throughout the world and all four dimensions of spacetime. I’ll mention no names here, but the initials are man u.  I’d be even more concerned if our collective attitude was as deluded as that, not least because – in the case of our acquaintances from over the hills – their Devon and Cornwall-based support have made of themselves a laughing-stock with such wishful thinking.  Certainly in Barcelona and Madrid, and in various other centres of realism too, not excluding Beeston.

No, all I want is for certain people to remember the basic meaning of the word “support”. It does not include the peddling of negative thinking, nor does it encompass unhelpful and misleading assertions regarding comparisons with such giants as Norwich and Dull City.  All of this is willful and groundless cant, calculated to spread misery and crush hope.

Support is about identifying yourself with the club you love, and spreading the word to those less fortunate who have not seen the light.  It’s about getting the shoulder behind the momentum of recent promising form – and being prepared to back it all the way, in the face of the withering carpings of naysayers as and when necessary.  Support is an overwhelmingly positive thing, and it needs to espouse and reflect positivity in everything it does.

Criticism is part of this, we are not simply a massive band of yes-men.  But criticism can be couched in positive terms too – this will not do for Leeds United, we said of Bates, and behold, he is gone.  The same applies to ticket prices, or transfer policy, or anything else we’ve been unhappy with from time to time.  We say “this will not do because We Are Leeds, and we demand better”.  So we can be critical – and that can be effective – but it’s still our overriding duty to be biased, and to talk the club up – because we’re supporters. Criticism that amounts to a wholesale belittling of the club relative to other clubs who may be enjoying some temporary success – that’s just ridiculous, and so counter-productive as to be a sin. Spreading alarm and despondency is not needed, not helpful, not to be embraced.  There are idiots enough in the media eager as all hell to do that, without people who are supposedly fans getting in on the act.

So please, those who peddle pessimism or deal in negativity, think again.  Think not only of whatever you’re getting out of venting these frustrations of yours, but also of your obligations towards the club you’re supposed to be supporting.  Let’s not give our enemies, among rival clubs’ support and within the media, such a cheap advantage.  If you’re a fan, then act and speak as one.  Support your club as a supporter should.  After all – We Are Leeds United, and we are the best.

West Ham United in “Too Tedious to Write About” Shock as Leeds Attract Internet Hits – by Rob Atkinson

Hammers Fans Riveted by The Boleyn Experience

Hammers Fans Riveted by The Boleyn Experience

In a startling development that could have far-reaching consequences virtually nowhere, West Ham United Football Club have been described as “Too boring to write about” by no less an authority than Scott Tracey, renowned expert on deep tedium and soporific prose. Mr. Tracey, proprietor of a “fansite” known as “The Game’s Gone Crazy“, has finally broken cover after literally too long masquerading as a serious writer about the East End club.  “I’ve given it up,” he states dolefully, “there’s just no mileage in Hammers stuff any more. Nothing’s really happened down the Boleyn for years, they just bob up and down between the top two divisions, regular as clockwork, like one of them metrodomes or summink.  Yeah, it’s like watching one of them nodding dogs in the backs of cars, innit.  Eventually, you just drop off to sleep.”

Scott is downcast by the bombshell moment of self-revelation – “I’d always fought the ‘Ammers were, y’know, quite interesting.” – but he is not entirely discouraged.  “What I’m going to do is write about other clubs.  I know just as much about them as I do about West Ham – nuffink – but what’s the internet for?  I can usually find something interesting about Leeds, or Spurs, or Leeds, or Sunderland, or Newcastle, or Leeds, Leeds, Leeds….” he trails off, looking confused and stares into space for a moment. “Yeah, I can always do stuff about Leeds….”

The realisation of West Ham’s essential tedium came as quite a shock to Scott, and initially he was defiant.  It was only when he sat down in earnest to write something fresh and interesting about them that he finally had to admit the awful truth to himself. “There I was,” he says, the memory clearly upsetting even now, “Sat there, with all the posters of the Greats looking down on me, sort of, you know, inspirating me, like – Mooro, Hursty, Petersy …….. Brookingy – all of them guys, and I realised they were all gone, all disappeared into the past.  And like us literally types are always saying, the past is a different county, innit.”  He pauses, ponders, takes a sip of Sunny Delight.  “And then I knew that I’d have to spice up my site a bit – write about things that mean a bit to people out there in the real world, and even in the East End too.”  Scott shakes his head, sadly.  “So, that’s what I done.  I’ve writ two bang tidy proper insightly things about Leeds just this past couple of days.  I’ve got this joke, right, where I call their manager Father Brian. It’s well clever, proper satiric, and it winds up them Norverners so that they read my blog and comment and stuff, and I’m minting it with the ads and that.  Cushty.”

It’s a sad tale in its way, and perhaps a fair indicator of the way in which there really are only a limited number of truly newsworthy stories these days, outside of the Premier League top five at least.  Independent authorities tend to confirm Scott’s experience, finding that websites who devote their output to football’s traditionally “controversial” clubs garner many times the number of hits of those who concentrate on less fashionable outfits like West Ham.  Some feel that the identification of the Upton Park club with a respectable but dull individual like Sir Trevor Brooking is asking for trouble in a medium where tedium is tantamount to a slow death.  Efforts have been made to look into the ‘Ammers’ ‘Istory for more charismatic personages, only to draw a blank.

Scott hasn’t given up all hope of being able to return to writing about his alleged favourites as the season goes on.  “It’s looking like another relegation fight,” he admitted, “and they’re always good for stirring up a bit of interest.  And if we do go down – as long as Leeds don’t go up – well, we’d play them again and we’re always a bit more interesting when that happens.  Not that I’m obsessed with Leeds United!” he added, hastily. “Perish the fought, mate.  Perish the bleedin’ fought.”

Aside

“We’re not famous any more” sing the fans of Leeds United FC, quite regularly and demonstrating a neat grasp of irony in a medium too often dominated by the literal and the just plain crass.  The point is, of course, … Continue reading

Leeds Fans – How Much Longer Are We Going to be Made Mugs Of?

Image

There are some glass-half-full types who might venture to suggest that this hasn’t been a summer like any other over the past ten years or so.  After all, Bates has gone, most if not all of his cronies have departed with him, and the air around Elland Road does smell sweeter as a result.  What’s more ticket prices have gone down from the actually obscene to the merely extortionate, there has been continual talk of new investment and strategic partners, and yes – we have our first seven-figure signing since we bought Richard Cresswell back when Noah was a lad.  O Brave New World that has such smoke and mirrors in it!

Because, despite all the feel-good changes and all of the positive talk – forget the past, it’s all about the future – there are still these nagging doubts.  Leeds United football fans are canny folk.  They know their football, and they can see quite clearly when there are gaping holes in the squad, and when the club is being stifled for lack of quality.  And despite the rich promise of million-pound Wunderkind Luke Murphy, and the more gangly potential of Matt Smith, freed from his Time Lord responsibilities in darkest Oldham to provide an aerial threat for Leeds United; plus of course the elderly skills of veteran Noel Hunt – despite all this, we can all see what’s missing.  Width, that’s what. Pace, that’s what too. And a rock-like, they-shall-not-pass presence at the centre of defence, that’s very much what also. And yet with a mere two weeks until this latest transfer window slams shut, we are still short of these aforementioned essential items, and we’re being fed a steady diet of rumours about who will have to go in order to make room on the stretched-out wage bill for incomings.

Now they’re threatening our most precious possessions, and the squad’s only sparks of flair and creativity.  Dioufy?  McCormacky??  We must keep these players, or risk becoming even more pedestrian and predictable.  Surely even a Dubai-funded Tory can see that. But the situation is such that, unless we can shed some of the real deadwood – no names, no pack drill – then we’re either going to have to wave a tearful farewell to some of our major players, or make do with what we’ve got.  Brian is not happy.  The board are saying nowt.  Are we soon to hear the fateful words “Don’t forget, there’s always the loan window opening in a week or so…”?  Save it, guys.  We’ve heard it all before, year after depressing year.

The fact is that Leeds United are almost certainly doomed to get yet further into a second decade outside of the top-flight.  The longer we stay out of that billion-dollar glare, the more we will become ever more pallid for lack of limelight, the more chance of the club ending up perpetually moribund, like a bigger version of Preston or Huddersfield.  There is an acute awareness of this among the fans – that much is obvious from the most cursory perusal of the various fan-sites and message-boards.  It’s no secret, that’s for sure – and historically, there are few more militant bunches of fans anywhere.  And yet still, the powers-that-be are following the blueprint of previous regimes, and seeking to manage our expectations, to deflect our passion and desire with blarney and vague not-quite-promises, underpinned by artfully-leaked rumours.  Multi-million pound investment imminent?  Bid possible for return of Maxi Gradel?  Ker-ching.  Another few hundred tickets sold for the opening game, and then queues all the way down the West Stand car-park for the League Cup visit of tiny Chesterfield.  But you can’t fool all the people all the time, and despite carefully-scripted exhortations from Brian McDermott, the crowd for the Wednesday game was way down.  And why not?  It’s live on Sky and some of those tickets are £36.  It’s not rocket science, chaps.

It’s about time Leeds United appointed a Minister for Truth.  I’d be up for the job.  It’s not going to happen though – but can we at least ask for a little more transparency instead of the same old, same old EVERY bloody year?  We know there is no oil-rich billionaire around the corner.  We know Maxi isn’t coming back (or Snoddy, or Howson, or Becchio).  So please – whoever you are – stop feeding us this pap, and get on with what you’re supposed to be doing.  Give Brian the support he needs instead of having the cheek to set two-year deadlines for promotion.  Carry on engaging with the fans – you’ve made a start, but there’s a long way to go.  Learn the lesson that you need to speculate to accumulate, and then maybe we won’t have to watch far smaller clubs snapping up players who would love to play for Leeds United – if the money was anywhere near par for the course.  It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible.  Stop selling us a line and give us a Leeds United to be proud of again – and then we’ll be right behind you in our highly vocal thousands.  You know it makes sense.

Leeds United Such a Massive Pull in the Blogosphere: Just Ask West Ham

Dr. Weevil Of West Ham - Obsessed With LUFC

Dr. Weevil Of West Ham – Obsessed With LUFC

“We’re not famous any more” sing the Leeds fans, showing a neat grasp of irony in a medium too often dominated by the literal and the just plain crass.  The point is, of course, that we still are famous.  Hugely so.  Our fans scattered all over the globe mean that wherever you go, you’re likely to see a visiting Leeds United shirt to provide a welcome relief from all the tedious Man U rags sported by the clueless locals.  Listen to any Sky Live broadcast from the Theatre of Hollow Myths, and you’ll hear those wurzelly Devon accents mixing in with the nasal cockney whine as the Man U faithful describe how they “all ‘ate Leeds scam, innit”.

And the evidence is there in the ether too, as the web buzzes with references to our beloved Whites, ensuring that even the most facile and puerile of blogs can guarantee itself hits aplenty merely by mentioning those magic words “Leeds United”.  Some have taken it to such lengths that their Leeds-related output has shoved the more mundane stuff about their own desperately anonymous favourites way into the background, which is peculiar, but hey – you have to provide your readers with what they want to read, apparently – and if possible you have to try to attract some of football’s most fanatical fans by being “controversial” – or as we might more accurately describe it: by talking bollocks.

The leading contender for “biggest culprit” in these dubious and unprofessional tactics is a poorly-constructed and ill-written blog, ostensibly concerned with minor London club West Ham United, and entitled “The Game’s Gone Crazy”, which has a specially-created page to allow it to burble on about matters which are, frankly, none of its concern.  The Leeds United content of this page is out of all proportion to the interest you might expect the ‘Appy ‘Ammers to take in our beloved club, and of course it tends to paint the goings-on down at LS11 in the most negative light possible.  He’s been at it again today, capitalising on the 24th anniversary of Don Revie’s death to write another “controversial” article which – naturally – consists of second-hand lies and rumours recycled from various down-market tabloids, some successfully sued by former Leeds United personalities in the past.

Now, it must be said that a cursory examination of the contents of this upstart site (I’d caution you, gentle reader, not to waste too many of your valuable minutes on it) will reveal that the site-owner’s tactics are a hell of a lot sounder than his less-than-impressive literary ability.  He manages to attract a lot of comment and abuse from outraged fans of other clubs, with Leeds obviously prominent among their number.  The simple process of writing about Leeds, writing often and writing groundless rubbish, generates a lot of traffic for this site, traffic that its ‘Ammers stuff could not possibly hope to generate.  So, from that point of view, the author is running a successful operation, but one which owes little to the merits of his creation – which are appallingly few.  The sly Bubble-blower has fastened onto the global appeal of Leeds United to his advantage, and we should perhaps praise his acumen; it certainly far outstrips his ability to string enough sentences together for a decent piece of writing.

As you might expect, a number of his West Ham-oriented readership are a bit embarrassed about this craven behaviour – but their criticism falls on deaf ears by and large.  It’s quite obvious that “Dr. Evil”, as he is referred to by himself (and we presume he fondly hopes that others so refer to him as well), is preoccupied by getting as many reads as possible for his site and – only too well aware that his meagre talent is not going to get him far down that road – has opted instead for setting up as an irritant that will attract opprobrium and attention in equal measures.

It’s a back-handed compliment of course – the world knows that Leeds United is still big news out there, and any LUFC tag will pretty much guarantee a readership made up of Leeds fanatics (many thousands of us) and those who detest the very mention of our great club’s name (positively millions in the Devon/Cornwall hotbed of Man U support alone.)  So we should perhaps be flattered by the attention – it’s better than the dreadful and depressing anonymity suffered by West Ham and other such small fry.  And viewing it like that – not taking it too seriously and dismissing it as the unsubtle attempt to drag in readers that it undoubtedly is – we can smile ruefully and reflect on how much quieter a place the internet would be if Leeds United didn’t exist.  What would they all talk about then?  And where would the hapless and not-terribly-good Dr. Weevil find his victims… ahem… readers??