Tag Archives: Manchester City FC

Leeds Utd’s Luke Murphy Puts Loyalty Before Pounds Sterling   –   by Rob Atkinson

  
Luke Murphy has seen his stock rise dramatically among the demanding constituency of Leeds United fans of late – and not just for his markedly improved form during the latter part of last season. That upping of his game, to more nearly approach what is rightly expected of a man with a seven-figure price tag, was certainly welcome enough, and warmly received by the Elland Road congregation. The resulting blast of approval must have been music to the ears of a man whose tepid earlier displays had earned him more brickbats than bouquets. But these recent accolades have, of course, resulted primarily from Murphy’s willingness to sign a new deal – reportedly on significantly lower terms. 

Just run that by yourself again, with the stereotypical modern, mercenary, grasping footballer in mind for the purposes of comparison. Take Raheem Sterling, for example. That young man’s surname bears more than a coincidental similarity to the unit of currency in these islands. This is a young lad of sublime talent who has proved himself, by his actions of late, not big enough to play for a club like Liverpool FC, much less their rabidly fanatical fans.

Sterling will have benefited greatly in financial terms from his move to Man City. He may even win a Cup or two in the seasons to come, as he sits on the bench for Manchester‘s premier club. But he has lost far more in terms of reputation and respect – though exactly how much that means to today’s young, deeply shallow, relentlessly materialistic Princes of Association Football must be open to grave doubt.

So there you have Sterling on the one hand. And there’s our own Luke Murphy on the other. You might wonder what options there were in front of young Luke, before he committed the next four years of his career to Leeds. It’s a fair bet that there will have been an agent hovering somewhere close by, whispering blandishments of temptation into those callow ears. It’s good, after all, for agents when footballers move on – and if Murphy could be persuaded his future lay elsewhere, then you can be sure that Leeds would have been looking to recoup their £1m outlay. And that’d have meant some wedge for Luke – and any agent – quite apart from the terms he might expect from a prospective buying club. 

But Murphy has opted to stay, and what he has gained in increased security by the greater length of his deal, he has largely lost by virtue of a reduced weekly wage. He’s still remarkably well-off, clearly, compared to other lads of his age – or mine, come to that. But it does warm the cockles to see a young pro prioritising where he wants to be, over what he wants to be paid. 

The contrast between Sterling and Murphy is stark, and it goes way beyond matters such as ability and potential. Sterling has – it’s blindingly obvious – had his head turned to a degree which makes that poor young lass out of The Exorcist seem comparatively stiff-necked. It is a pity that such a major talent should have been so poorly advised as to treat the greatest club and the greatest fans he will ever play for, quite so shoddily.

Luke Murphy, in that precisely identical situation of playing for the greatest club and fans he’ll know in his career, has chosen to show respect rather than contempt, humility rather than arrogance. It’s an attitude that deserves reward, and this blog wishes him a triumphant season, crowned with success. As for Sterling, we wish him not too many splinters in his arse as he bench-warms his way to cups and titles with Citeh. 

It does rather beg the question of whether we Leeds fans should perhaps be wary what we ask for, the danger being that we might get it. Obviously, we all want promotion, followed by establishment as a Premier League power, with silverware and continental domination, for preference, as is surely our Don-given destiny. But, should that come to pass, will we really be able to relate to and respect the wearers of those iconic white shirts? You do have to wonder. 

Sadly, when Leeds do become successful again, the squad we’ll be supporting is likely to contain rather more Sterling-like characters – eye on the main chance and sod the supporters – than it will the good, honest Murphy type. That, we can assume, will be part of the price of success. And we all crave success – don’t we?

The thing is though, this story of two young footballers, Sterling and Murphy, leaves me wondering if that success would really be worth the price we’d most probably have to pay. 

Leeds United to Miss Out as FA Introduce Selective New “Joker” Rule – by Rob Atkinson

I heff het...enOUGH of losink. I em playink - our JOKER in all games now.

I heff het…enOUGH of losink. I em playink…our JOKER in all games now

It hardly comes as news to the fans of Leeds United, long used to English football’s tiresome habit of “playing favourites”, that there is some perplexity in the corridors of power about the inability of the “most popular club” to win the league title. Since a certain choleric Glaswegian shuffled off into the sunset to brood over old feuds and current grievances, the supply of plastic EPL titles for Club Popular has dried up somewhat, much to the chagrin of the suits. Needless to say, that most popular club is not located in LS11 – the Whites of Elland Road occupy a ranking at the other end of the adulation scale, with the game’s administrators being accustomed to wrinkle their noses slightly if forced to acknowledge Leeds’ existence, affecting a rather pained expression, as if they were suffering patiently in the presence of some noxious odour.

No, the “most popular” – naturally – are the club I joshingly if not exactly fondly refer to as the Pride of Devon – due to their vast appeal to the more insecure type of West Country glory-hunter. But they’re all the rage in parts of London too, this lot – as well as Wales, Ireland, Milton Keynes, Barnsley, for God’s sake – and not to mention great chunks of the Far East and even isolated neighbourhoods in less salubrious areas of Manchester itself. 

The dilemma faced by the game’s rulers appears to be a matter of clear and present danger to those earnest men in their sober garb, as they brandish calculators and contemplate massive markets, domestic and foreign, previously of great productivity, with bale after bale of tatty replica Sharp, AIG or Chevrolet shirts being demanded every high day and holiday by precocious Man U-supporting spoilt brats. Having expressed concern over the poor form of the EPL Golden Boys, the Premier League CEO Richard Scudamore is now rumoured to have come up with a foolproof plan to redress the balance and get away from the current, annoyingly level playing field in English top flight football. The Chief’s idea is the product of much serious thought and an increasing awareness that the problem of Man U’s chronic lack of dominance is not going away anytime soon. Now, Scudamore has allegedly been inspired by the popular summer evening silly games contest of the mid 1970s, It’s A Knockout, to come up with a novel solution to a thorny problem.

Uncle Stuart - butter wouldn't melt

Uncle Stuart – butter wouldn’t melt

For those of us of a certain age, that evocative theme music is just so reminiscent of long summer evenings when we were young; coming home from playing football on the village green, hot and dusty and pleasantly tired, ready to sit down, relax – and enjoy some more seemingly innocent fun as good old “Uncle” Stuart Hall treated us to his dulcet tones, his manic laugh – but thankfully not the gift of his intimate acquaintance. Genial old rugby league fart Eddie Waring bumbled about in the background, sounding ever more like a Mike Yarwood impression of himself, joining in with Hall for the title of maddest chortler. It was quintessential family entertainment, or so it seemed in those pre-Operation Yewtree days.

Happy days, for some. But the appeal of It’s A Knockout was – thankfully – more down to the nuttiness of the games and the rules, than any peculiarities of the show’s host. The contests were between a number of teams representing various obscure towns around the UK. Massive costumes figured heavily, huge false heads on them which would put Joe Royle or even Wayne Rooney to shame, colourful, crazy, hilarious. There was water, there were custard pies, there were enough card-carrying prats to ensure pratfalls aplenty – it was hilarious, playful anarchy – and the presenters could be heard crying with mirth as the participants struggle gamely. Nobody was too bothered about the scoring system – and yet it was one bizarre element of this which may now restore Man U to what the suits see as that troubled franchise’s rightful place at the top of the English game.

The idea is that Man U – at their own discretion – will be able to “play their joker” whenever the need arises. It’s important to emphasise that this is not a reference to the team selection and the appearance in a Man U shirt of Angel di Maria or the latest “next George Best”. Rather, it is a maverick twist to the scoring system of any particular game – whereby the team playing its joker will have any subsequent score doubled.

Scudamore is believed to favour a refinement of this system, seeing the Man U joker double the value of any goal scored, rule out any goal against them, or produce a penalty on demand, regardless of where play happens to be on the field. It is envisaged that this would enable even a team managed by a total incompetent – or “onbekwaam” as Mijnheer van Gaal’s compatriots would say – to prevail in most games. Theoretically, at least, the return of the Pride of Devon to the summit of the game would be assured – and the Theatre of Hollow Myths would once again ring to the rafters with songs of West Country and cockney triumphalism.

One important feature of the new system is that – surprise, surprise, Leeds fans – it would not be open to all teams, as that would merely introduce an annoyingly random element whilst maintaining what is seen as an undesirable status quo. The conditions of entitlement so far envisaged are extremely stringent; only clubs who can demonstrate that every single one of their FA Cup ties since 2005 has been televised live on TV – even when they’ve played no-hopers at home (Exeter and Cambridge, for example. Or Leeds United…) – will have the option of “playing their Joker”. It has been concluded that only one club, based just outside Manchester, would fall within these parameters. Coincidentally, the identity of this randomly selected club would fit in precisely with Mr Scudamore’s idea for the future of the game.

Scudamore is said to be delighted with his plan. and hopes that its introduction will be a new start for English football, with better times ahead for all – unless you happen to be a fan of Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City – or indeed any club that lacks the postcode M16 0RA.

Louis van Gaal, 83, is an extreme embarrassment.