Tag Archives: Newcastle United

Leeds United Planning to Perform All Blacks Haka at Home Games – by Rob Atkinson

Away strip

United’s Chris Wood – ready for battle

Today’s announcement by Leeds United of their new all-black away kit represents a departure from the gaudiness of the recent past and the return of the Elland Road club to their traditional black and white, all-or-nothing approach of more successful days long past. This new monochrome mentality will be backed up by the introduction, before each home match, of the traditional Maori war-dance, or “Haka”, as historically performed by the fearsome All Blacks international rugby union sides. Rumours that this has been written into United’s New Zealand international Chris Wood‘s contract, as compensation for not securing a £20 million move to Swansea City, have neither been confirmed nor denied.

It appears that there are mixed feeling among the United squad about the move to perform the Haka; some feel that they have enough on their plates mastering pattern of play niceties like blindside runs and a co-ordinated move out of defence, without having to learn a complicated war dance too. One individual though, who would rather not be named for fear of provoking a reaction among certain former team-mates at Ashton Gate, seemed eager to get into the whole ritual ‘eve of battle’ thing. “I can’t wait”, he remarked, licking his lips hungrily. “It’ll help get me in the mood to get some blood on me boots”. Elsewhere in the defensive ranks, an un-named Swedish international is rumoured to be practising the eye-rolling and snarling already, even though he will start the campaign under suspension due to various indiscretions during last term’s hostilities.

The generosity of Leeds United in paying tribute to former Championship rivals should also not be underestimated. Newcastle United, of course, are famous for playing in black and white, and also for not having won anything since the days of monochrome TV. There is a nod in the direction of Huddersfield Town, too, whose own glory days reside in the flickering, sepia days of Pathé Newsreels, the General Strike and the Jarrow march.

It may well be that the message being sent out by Leeds is a powerful warning to the effect that all this fancy dan bright and vibrant colours nonsense is to become a thing of the past down Elland Road way. Teams visiting LS11, especially in the depths of winter, will have nothing to look forward to but bleak weather, a hostile, oppressive atmosphere and cold naked steel in the hearts of the eleven assassins clad all in white. And the threat of the all-blacks on our travels will be, if anything, even more sinister.

White at home, black away, the green of the pitch, the grey of the sky – if we can just avoid too many red and yellow cards, we could be looking at some serious silverware come next May. Ka mate! ka mate! Ka ora, ka ora!  Bring it on.

 

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Leeds CAN Secure Automatic Promotion as Rivals Falter – by Rob Atkinson

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Garry Monk – the man with the plan

We’ve had false dawns aplenty before at Elland Road. Many a time, a false dawn has appeared to be the only possible light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. But this time, things do feel different. There’s a momentum steadily gathering, a feeling that Leeds United are developing slowly into an unstoppable force. History tells us that, often in the past, the leaders of the chasing pack benefit from a sudden uncertainty and crumbling of long-time front-runners. That scenario is developing right now at the head of the Championship – and Leeds United, to our delighted surprise, is the form horse.

One of the characteristics of a successful team is that it can grind out a result when playing badly. Leeds demonstrated that strength against Blackburn Rovers last night at Ewood Park, in a game that could easily have slipped away, but which was decided by a late and thumping header from the talismanic Pontus Jansson.

Another sign of a team going places is the quality of being able to bounce back from the occasional lapse. That’s something that this Leeds United team has been able to do on several occasions this season, going on to compile unbeaten runs after reverses that would have sapped morale in other years under other managers.

Garry Monk has had his less than brilliant moments since taking charge of United, but overall has seemed determined, self-assured and unflappable. He survived early difficulties, avoiding the ever-poised axe in the hands of maverick owner Massimo Cellino. Indeed, one of the main achievements of his first season in the Leeds hot-seat has been to marginalise Cellino, quieting talk in the media of the owner picking the team and generally remaining his own man. Other factors may have helped push Cellino into the shadows, but it’s still the mark of a strong man to succeed at Leeds where so many others have failed.

On the whole, and despite the odd, inevitable blip, Leeds United are very well placed now for the last, crucial stage of the League campaign. Free of cup commitments, with the squad enhanced by quality additions and vital players returning from injury, the platform is there for a decisive surge between now and May. Much will depend on the durability or otherwise of the teams ahead – Brighton, Newcastle and, to a lesser extent, Reading. Huddersfield and the likes of Sheffield Wednesday, Derby and even Barnsley, present a threat from behind. But Leeds have the resolve and the personnel to emerge from the pack and take advantage of any crack-ups from the top two. And there are definite signs of such frailty and vulnerability in both Brighton and Newcastle.

The top two seem concerned about each other, when they should perhaps be looking fearfully over their shoulders at the play-off pack. Usually, somebody comes with a late run, exploiting a loss of bottle above them to reach the tape ahead of the pace-setters. It’s a situation that could well work in favour of Leeds United.

This weekend is the first of many pivotal League rounds to come. Huddersfield and Brighton meet tonight, in a game where any result will have some advantage for Leeds. And United have that extra twenty-four hours recovery time before having to travel to Huddersfield on Sunday. It will be very interesting to see how the Championship top six looks on Sunday evening.

But whatever happens over the next few days, there are golden opportunities for Leeds to assert themselves over the remainder of the season – and both Newcastle and Brighton will be feeling the heat. That’s a situation a canny manager like Monk can and should exploit; this blog believes that he is willing and able to do just that.

Leeds United for automatic promotion this season? You’d better believe it.

Timely Reality Check for Leeds as Newcastle Cruise to Win   –   by Rob Atkinson

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Leeds United 0, Newcastle United 2

We saw this game coming from a long way off, thanks to the international break that followed the last-gasp win at Norwich. From that high point, it seemed reasonable to look forward to scaling even greater peaks. A win over the Geordies would have seen Leeds United at a dizzy fourth in the league, well into nosebleed territory. As it is, a defeat means we remain seventh; probably a realistic benchmark for this Leeds side’s place in the Championship scheme of things.

So, after a good run, we’ve had our reality check and been put in our place – yet Leeds were by no means disgraced and, for large parts of the game, they gave pretty nearly as good as they got. In the important areas of the pitch, though, Newcastle were superior – and they plainly knew it. The confidence with which they approached the game, the relative ease with which they kept Leeds at arm’s length – all of this told us that here was a side well aware they weren’t top without reason. For all that, it took a goalkeeping howler and one moment of top flight class to make the difference on the field show in the scoreline. Leeds had their moments at the other end, but there can be no doubt that Newcastle fully merited this victory. 

Leeds will take plenty from this moving forward. There were lessons for youngsters like Vieira and Phillips as well as some of the older heads in the team. The glaring truth of the matter is that Newcastle had a sub on the bench who, at £30m, cost several times the price of the entire Whites squad. As a work in progress, Leeds are several laps behind a Newcastle outfit that must still be hanging its head in shame to be in this league at all. Benitez arrived too late to save the club from its own mistakes last season, but arguably the wrong north-eastern club got relegated. Now, under proper management and a revamped squad, the Geordies are a Premier League force in all but name.

A week to regroup now, and Leeds must be ready for a trip to Rotherham, armed with a determination to embark on another run of success. They will be without the talismanic Pontus Jansson, whose intemperate outburst to the ref tipped him over the suspension threshold. That’s a pity, but nevertheless, United have to get their act together for a battle against the lowly Millers, who will be keen to rub salt in this week’s wounds.

It was a chastening experience today, but no real surprise. Newcastle are the real deal, and they showed it – not in any shimmering brilliance, apart from that one decisive moment, but in their confident approach and efficient game management. But Leeds did OK in defeat; they will play worse this season and win – indeed, they already have. There’s still a long way to go, and United can still look ahead confidently. After all, you don’t meet a team like Newcastle every week.

What Is Moneybags Football Doing to Save Gazza? – by Rob Atkinson

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Gazza in his heyday

Sometimes in your football-supporting life, you see a player in the opposition ranks who is simply different gravy. Partisanship or no, you just have to acknowledge genius when you see it and, if you’ve any appreciation at all for the Beautiful Game, you simply applaud talent and ability the like of which we see all too rarely.

As a Leeds United fan, I’ve had this bittersweet experience uncomfortably often. Bitter, because – let’s face it – you’re there above all to see the white shirts prevail, and some pesky genius in the other camp can be a big problem. But sweet, because we all know, deep down, that this is what football is all about; a talent that eclipses more mundane performers and makes your soul sing for what this game can be.

I’ve seen a few of these over the years at Elland Road. Johan Cruyff, so recently taken from us, lit up my first evening match at Elland Road in 1975, albeit in a losing cause. Sadly, I never saw George Best play (and he spent most games against Leeds in Paul Reaney‘s back pocket anyway) – but I did see a man who could match him for talent and for that mystical ability to take a game away from you. Sadly, he also matches the late George for the tendency to self destruct. And, if the current situation isn’t checked sooner rather than later, we shall tragically see Paul Gascoigne – Gazza of blessed daft-as-a-brush memory – follow Georgie Best into a needlessly early grave.

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Troubled Gazza now – road to disaster?

There isn’t much doubt that Gazza’s potentially fatal weakness for the booze makes him the lead author of his own misfortune. It’s also true to say that anyone in that downward spiral of addictive behaviour really needs to find, if possible, the willpower to break out of the prison they’re building for themselves. But that’s frequently easier said than done, and some of the brightest stars, the most transcendent genius performers, are eggshell personalities, lacking the intrinsic strength and resilience to fight the demons inside their own skulls. In that situation, outside care and intervention is needed; somebody needs to help. So who can, or should, help Gazza?

The former star is not without support. He has friends in the game, people who stay in touch with him and worry about him. But I can’t help feeling that the wider entity of football in this country could be seen to be doing more, for Gazza, and for less illustrious but comparable cases. The tragedy of Best is still clear in the memory, but there have been others who used to bask in the sunshine of fame and worship from the terraces who, once their star fell, found the world a bleak and friendless place they simply wanted to quit. Hughie Gallacher, like Gazza a former Newcastle star, was another who felt lonely and hopeless enough to walk, in a boozy stupor, in front of a train in 1957, rather than face what his life had become after football.

The thing about Gazza is that the current, wealth-laden state of the game he entered as a chubby lad in the early eighties owes much to the way he lit up the Italia ’90 World Cup. That tournament, with Gascoigne’s flashes of genius and iconic tears, did much to redeem the game of football from what had been a decade of disaster in the 1980s. Football, ably assisted by the Geordie genius, recovered from virtual social unacceptability to become once more the game everyone was talking about. Everyone wanted a piece of soccer, and its stars. And no star shone brighter in the football firmament than Paul “Gazza” Gascoigne.

Such was the new appeal and cachet of football that it was judged ripe for rebranding in this country. It became A Whole New Ball Game as Murdoch and Sky bought the TV rights to a massive chunk of it and, 25 years on, the money is still rolling in unabated. A lot of that is down to that period of Gazzamania in the early 90s, and that – as much as anything beyond common humanity – is the reason why football, and the likes of Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United, Rangers and Everton in particular, must be seen to be doing more to help.

So money-stuffed is the game that was once a working-class opera, that ticket prices have become almost incidental to club income at the top level. And yet still, the matchgoing public pays through the nose. They, too, have a right to see some of their money devoted to former stars fallen on hard times or, indeed, in danger of complete dissolution. Surely any Spurs or Newcastle fan would feel it appropriate for their club, served so well back in the day by a man now in crisis, to step in and provide real help, a safe environment and a solid support network for somebody in such imminent danger of sinking out of sight.

Everyone knows that there’s only so much you can do for a person seemingly plummeting towards self-destruction. But the duty to try as hard as possible, to do as much as possible, remains, whatever the chances of success. Especially for someone like Gazza, who gave so much pleasure in his heyday, who made so many smile or laugh with his hare-brained nuttiness, who helped so much to enable the rude health of the game today by the display of his peerless genius for clubs and country.

It’s not too late to save Gazza, surely. But it may well soon be. Over to you, football.

Newcastle Might “Do a Leeds”? Don’t Make Me Laugh – by Rob Atkinson

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“Doing a Leeds”. It’s become a 21st Century football cliché or, more accurately, a refrain increasingly tiresome to the ears of Leeds United sympathisers. It’s hackneyed, it’s boring, it’s irritating. Moreover, almost invariably – when applied to other clubs – it’s nowhere near the truth.

What is “doing a Leeds”, after all? Well, it’s no mere common or garden tumble from grace, we can be sure of that. Most teams at some point will happen upon hard times and experience bad days after the bright sunshine of relatively heady heights. It’s a part of the charm of the game, without which things could get pretty boring. Central to the English condition is a love of seeing some smug, sleek success, happy on its pedestal, firstly wobble and falter, and then come tumbling amusingly down. There’s an inner satisfaction in beholding such a humbling of a complacent success story.

So, it’s a common experience, and even enjoyable – to the onlooker. The distinction between your ordinary, everyday descents into misfortune, though, and the phenomenon of “doing a Leeds”, is the height of the pedestal from which the tumble occurs. To “do a Leeds”, you must not just fall, you must fall precipitately, from a great, dizzying height, scattering riches from your pockets as you plunge headlong into the depths of misery, ignominy and despair. You must have experienced the sweetest of success, the heights of popular fame – and you must then be found grovelling, penniless and distraught in the filthiest of gutters, with barely a rag to your back and the authorities hunting you down for a debtors’ cell with beggary to follow. That’s doing a Leeds.

Following Newcastle United‘s latest piteous showing, as they lost 1-3 to Bournemouth to deepen their peril at the foot of the Premier League, some so-called pundits are expressing fears that the Geordies might be in danger of doing a Leeds if they were to tumble through the top-flight trapdoor come May. To such a suggestion, I can only respond thus: what utter, footling rubbish. Balderdash. Piffle. Crap. Newcastle will be miles off doing a Leeds until and unless they’re struggling in the basement of League Two and looking fearfully down the barrel of the Conference. They simply have not risen high enough to be associated with “doing a Leeds”, merely by a Parachute Payment-cushioned relegation to the Championship – not even if they were somehow to drop right through that division into League One.

Leeds United’s plummet from glory to grief was looked at – and, let’s be honest, gloated over – in the light of their historical success within living memory. The triumphs and disasters of the Don Revie years are the stuff of legends; though the Whites never won as much as they could and should have done, nevertheless they became true giants of the game. Widely regarded as one of the very finest club sides ever to grace these islands, Don’s lads were peerless on their day and set the benchmark for all future incarnations of Yorkshire’s Number One club.

Even after a post-Revie decline, which saw relegation and a measure of despair, Leeds were boldly revived and hit the top of the game again under Howard Wilkinson, powered by a classical midfield four of Batty, McAllister, Strachan and Speed. Three years or so after Wilko found Leeds towards the bottom of Division Two, and only one full season after promotion to Division One, Leeds were English Champions again – the Last Champions of the old-style Football League. Yet more immortality for the Whites of Elland Road, and that pedestal of popular fame (or notoriety) was as towering as ever.

The early 21st Century nosedive was all the steeper for the giddy heights from which Leeds were crashing. Financial disaster, gross mismanagement, a spell in the third tier, the reckless squandering of diamonds produced by the ever-fertile Youth Academy – all of this, viewed in the context of the club’s glorious and honour-laden history, made such a sickening decline almost unique in the annals of football history. “Doing a Leeds” therefore entered the sporting lexicon as an unprecedented extreme; it could be used only as a cautionary example, as there are no comparable instances. Smaller clubs have fallen further; comparable clubs have had bad times. But no club has crashed and burned quite as spectacularly as Leeds.

Newcastle United are a big club with a loyal and fervent following. They, too, have had a measure of bad management, and it looks as though their current failings could well lead to demotion this year. They are not so much flirting with relegation as spreadeagled on their backs, begging the Championship to have its way with them. But to suggest they might “do a Leeds” is laughable. Newcastle have been conspicuous over the last half century for their failure to make a mark on the game’s honours roll. Apart from one solitary Fairs Cup in the late sixties, the Toon Army have not troubled the scorers. Their last Championship was back in 1927, the same year Lindbergh conquered the Atlantic in his Spirit of St. Louis; the same year Dixie Dean scored 60 league goals for Everton. It’s a very long time ago. The FA Cup brought more success for the Tynesiders in the fifties – but in the modern era, they’ve been just another club, winning some, losing some, relegated, promoted; but mostly just watching the football world pass them by.

For the sake of Newcastle’s terrific fans, it’s to be hoped that their club never can be fairly said to have “done a Leeds”. A decline of that magnitude from their current status would realistically see them playing in a municipal parks league on Sunday mornings. The trouble facing the Geordies right now are severe enough, without exaggerating the nature of the perils that might lie ahead.

After this disastrous century so far, we at Leeds don’t have a lot left to us, apart from that glorious history and a mass of vivid memories. It’s a lot more than many other clubs have, but we need to keep special to us those things that mark us out as a club that’s just a bit different. The chilling uniqueness of “doing a Leeds” is one of those things that currently define our beloved United, along with the Revie legacy, the Last Champions and the glow of sitting at the top of the League as the Millennium clock ticked over from 1999 to 2000. Let’s not cheapen or demean any of these things by taking their names in vain, or using them inappropriately.

As for Newcastle United FC? Beware, bonny lads. You’re in danger of doing a Wolves.

Sunderland v Newcastle Rivalry Not in Same League as Leeds Against Man U – by Rob Atkinson

Hate Man Utd - We Only Hate Man Utd

Hate Man Utd – We Only Hate Man Utd

Football rivalry – the antipathy between fans of rival clubs with a keen edge of hatred in extreme cases – has been going on for as long as two teams of eleven players have gathered together to dispute possession of an inflated bladder over a green sward. And I will proudly say here and now: Leeds United is an extreme case. We are top four material when it comes to despising our foes. But we like to think we’re quite picky about it. None of this “regional rivalry” nonsense for us.

Let’s face it, hating another team and its supporters for mere reasons of geographical proximity is pretty silly. I can understand it to a certain extent where two clubs share a very small area, like a town or adjacent districts of a city. There’s a territorial thing going on there that recalls the days when a team’s support was derived largely from its immediate locality, though that’s not really the case any more now with the mega clubs who have fans all over the world. After all, why would a Man U glory-hunter in Singapore or Seattle really care if Man City are based only a few miles away from “his” club? He’s more bothered as to whether or not his favourites can buy more trophies than anyone else, City, Chelsea, Arsenal, anyone.

At Leeds, hatred tends to be reserved for those who have earned it, and who are – by independently verifiable standards – intrinsically despicable. Man U pass both tests with flying colours, and it’s certainly woven into my DNA to detest them. Call me a blinkered bigot (guilty, m’Lud) but I can never really understand why Sunderland and Newcastle, who meet in derby-day combat this afternoon, share such mutual loathing when quite frankly both would be better off directing their energies towards hating someone who deserves it.

Many at Leeds have the time and energy to revile other clubs, Chelsea prominent among them. The Ken Bates era at Leeds was an uncomfortable time for these types in particular – they hated Bates for his Chelsea connections (I hate him too, but mainly for his own not-so-sweet self.) Bates never seemed keen on Leeds either, not since – during his reign at Stamford Bridge – a group of freelance demolition contractors from Yorkshire travelled down to SW6 and saw off his scoreboard. But for me, Chelsea (and Man City, Arsenal, Liverpool and the rest) are only relevant insofar as they have teams that can beat Man U for much of the time, and as long as they do that, they’re just fine and dandy as far as I’m concerned.

In Yorkshire the situation may best be summed-up as follows. All other Yorkshire clubs hate Leeds United, and Leeds United regard all other Yorkshire clubs as beneath our notice – except on those annoying occasions when temporarily reduced league status means we have to soil our boots by playing them. This attitude does nothing, of course, to endear Leeds to the likes of Bratfud, Barnsleh, Uddersfailed and the Sheffield dee-dahs – but really, who cares?

I have more respect for fans of clubs like Birmingham or Everton or – yes, even Man U, who hate Leeds for reasons other than just sharing a county with us. That fits better with my world view. Ask a Newcastle fan why he hates the Mackems, and he might blither incomprehensibly for a while (well, they just talk like that up there) – but no rational reply will emerge. I could talk your ears off about why I hate the scum, and I know many Man U fans who can do the same when invited to say why they hate Leeds, which is more than many other Leeds haters can say.

The fact is – whatever the pious purists and holier-than-thou types might say – there’s nothing wrong with football hatred, properly expressed and stopping comfortably this side of actual violence – as I’ve previously written here. It adds some passion to a crowd and to a football occasion, and football would die a lingering death in the sort of sterile atmosphere some of these self-righteous hypocrites seem to want. All I’d say is: if you must hate, then hate for a good reason.

Read my other articles, and you’ll find my reasons for hating Man U – the reasons why I firmly believe anyone might reasonably hate them – are a regular feature in the occasional rants to which I’m prone. They’re nothing to do with why Southampton hate Pompey, or why Forest hate Derby (although I CAN see the Clough factor in the latter case.) Pure regional tribalism is at work there, and I suppose there’s a place for it. But that sort of thing is slightly irrational to me, while hatred based on facts and history is not. Hatred is a genuine human emotion, and the football variety is a safety valve which is useful in diffusing a lot of the negative emotions in society at large. It’s a therapy of sorts. So chew on that, you pious, pseudo-intellectual gits who preach at rabid football fans and utterly fail to understand what’s going on.

I’m happy to admit that I have a healthy hatred for the scum, and I’m equally happy that it’s so lustily reciprocated – with any luck the depth of these feelings will see the game of football, still so dependent on the atmosphere generated by its match-going followers, survive for a good long time to come.

No Official Response to WHY Mancunian Ref Taylor Was Picked for Man Utd Match – by Rob Atkinson

Former Man U favourite Howard Webb celebrates with his team-mates... but at least he wasn't from Manchester

Former Man U favourite Howard Webb celebrates with his team-mates… but at least he wasn’t from Manchester…

Leeds United fans have cause to remember Wythenshawe referee Anthony Taylor – not too fondly, though – for his performance in a game between United and Middlesbrough early in the 2011/12 season. Taylor contrived to send off Jonny Howson and Max Gradel of Leeds as well as Boro’s Tony McMahon in a game which then United manager Simon Grayson described as “not having a dirty tackle in it”. Middlesbrough won the match 1-0.

That might well establish Mr. Taylor as a referee of less than optimal competence, certainly in Whites fans’ eyes – and yet he has gone on to officiate regularly in the Premier League, appearing to court controversy at about the same rate as any other referee on the roster – less, even, than some that we could name (and have named in the past). The other week, though, proud Mancunian Taylor dropped a particularly public clanger when failing to award a clear penalty against Man U at Newcastle United‘s St James Park, in a game won by the visitors with a late goal. Tim Krul gifted an easy chance to Ashley Young, who snapped it up before he could even remember to dive – and another Man U smash and grab was done. Same as it ever was, you might say. A penalty not given against Man U and a spawny late winner for them too – what’s so unusual?

The major issue here, though, may not have been the missed penalty – nor even the unsavoury spitting incident that Cisse of Newcastle admitted and apologised for, with Evans of Man U characteristically denying any wrongdoing, in accordance with club policy – despite clear video evidence. No, the real bugbear here is the fact that – for no apparent reason and with no possible justification – the authorities saw fit to appoint a Mancunian referee for a match involving a Manchester-based club.

To my knowledge, there was always a rule whereby a referee from the same area as one of the teams contesting a match would not be selected to take that fixture. That just seems like good, plain common sense, and I haven’t heard of any change to what was always a rigidly-observed convention. The not exactly infrequent situation whereby what seemed an obvious penalty was not awarded against Man U becomes even more unfortunate and embarrassing when combined with this additional and avoidable referee situation. Why on earth would the authorities court even more controversy than arises as a matter of routine, every time Man U get off scot free on a stonewall penalty shout?

Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything has been a loud and frequent critic of the kid-glove treatment that is still handed out to the Pride of Devon, even now in these post-Ferguson times when – presumably – the powers that be are in somewhat less of a state of abject fear than they were when the Demented One was in charge of Man U and, by extension, the game. So this is not, perhaps, a voice that will be seen to be particularly impartial or unbiased. And yet the facts speak for themselves. It is simply true to state that rarely a month goes by without some blatantly naff decision in favour of the denizens of the Theatre of Hollow Myths. It’s no secret, and there’s plenty of internet wringing of hands that goes on about it, with a predictably bland and complacent attitude on the part of both Man U, their hordes of armchair fans and the nominal rulers of the game. But to have them allocated their own, local referee as well, for a game that might well have been tricky for van Gaal’s men had decisions gone as they perhaps should – that really rather does take the biscuit, if not the actual urine sample.

I’ve not been able to find any guidance or regulation which formalises rules as regards geographical origin of referees insofar as it’s relevant to any particular fixture – I’m aware that there are some pretty nifty sleuths out there though, so any input to clear the matter up would be welcome. But it’s surely just common sense and good practice to select an official who hails from as far as possible from the homes of any two competing teams. It just makes for a fairer feel to proceedings. And – let’s face it – you could actually choose a ref from Devizes, and he’d be just as likely an adoring fan of “Nitid” as not. Those glory-seekers are all over the place, after all. But it rubs the nose of every fan of every other club in the league well and truly in it, to make such a daft and open-to-suspicion appointment as a Mancunian ref for a Man U match.

Are they really that stupid at the FA and/or EPL? Are they really that loftily complacent and arrogant as not to bother even giving the impression of ensuring fair play?? The distasteful combination of yet another bottled penalty decision, together with the fact that it was a blatantly Manc ref that bottled it, leaves a decidedly nasty taste in the mouth.

So what are these idiots and incompetents actually up to? I first asked this question immediately after the game in question. Predictably, there has been zero response. But, surely, it’s time we were told.

Leeds Blog EXCLUSIVE: Bob Carolgees Replaces Spit the Dog with Man Utd’s Evans – by Rob Atkinson

Great Expectorations: Man U's Evans in prolific form

Great Expectorations: Man U’s Evans in typically prolific form

Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything has learned exclusively of a potentially exciting career development for one of Man Utd’s brightest young stars. After nine years trying to do football properly, Jonny Evans could be set for a sensational move into showbiz of a more traditional kind even than playing for the Pride of Devon. After his mouth-watering display of salivary skill against Newcastle United, Evans has been offered the chance to replace the legendary Spit the Dog as comedy legend Bob Carolgees‘ “right hand man”.

Carolgees was cautious when questioned about the possible link-up with the expectorating defender. “We’ll have to see,” said the former Tiswas icon. “Jonny is interested alright – who wouldn’t be keen to work with the best? But there are a few issues to sort out – he’s not even been cleared by the FA yet, though naturally that’ll be the merest of formalities.”

Spit the Dog

Spit the Dog

Bob’s former partner, Spit the Dog himself, was acknowledged as the brains of the team – but was surprisingly sold at Christies in 2004, raising over £5,000 at auction. It is estimated that it could cost almost twice as much to secure the services of Evans, but Carolgees is confident it would be a worthwhile investment. “Jonny has immense potential,” insisted the former OTT megastar. “You only had to look at the style and panache with which he directed that lump of gristly hockle at Newcastle’s Papiss Cissé. It was a thing of beauty, I’ve not seen dribbling skills like that since the days of Stanley Matthews or possibly even Daffy Duck“.

Man U's Evans

Man U’s Evans

Evans himself was unavailable for comment yesterday, having pulled a tongue muscle in Wednesday night’s action. It is understood, however, that he is keen to work with Carolgees and hopes that Man Utd will not deny him the chance to better himself. Other rumours are abroad since the St James Park incident; one source claims that Evans will make history by being the first non-latex star of the new series of Spitting Image. The player’s agent was quick to pour cold water on this, stating that whilst Evans had “no wish to be snotty”, he prefers to accommodate Carolgees’ guiding hand, rather than appearing with a whole bunch of comedy puppets. “Jonny’s had enough of that sort of thing whilst playing for Man U,” the sharp-suited agent confirmed. “He’s shown true British phlegm in his performances – but maybe it’s time to move onwards and upwards now.”

Papiss Cissé (29) is liable to carry the can and be stitched up a treat.

Leeds United Fans Recognised as “Simply the Best” – by Rob Atkinson

Alright, we all knew that anyway – but it’s good to have it confirmed. As this video certainly does. If there are any quibbles, they are further down the list than Leeds United’s pre-eminent, undisputed Number One status. Take the number twos, for instance – actually that’s not a bad nickname for Man U. But they shouldn’t be there – they should be disqualified.

After all, this is about away support – and, as we all know, Man U have a bunch of plastic glory-hunters living just around the corner from every football stadium in the Universe – and they only ever prise their arses out of the traditional armchair when their favourites happen to visit the locality once every blue moon (fnarr).

Besides which – can you hear the solo voices in that supposed mass chant near the end of their bit? Flat as a fart. They couldn’t be any more out of tune without coming back into tune again. So they should be out for that, too.

And Newcastle?? Ouch. And cringe. It’s those accents, isn’t it? Those lugubrious vowel sounds come ear-achingly out of even a reasonably well-sung song. And “Pardew is our King”?? They hated him, wanted to kill him and render him down for pease pudding to flog to Mackems on Wearside. How hypocritical. Disqualified.

You can make up your own minds about the rest of it – or just let it be, and bask in the glory, glory of Leeds being acknowledged as the top away crowd anywhere.

Not that there was ever any doubt.

Newcastle Team “Scared Because Stoke Looked Like Sunderland” Claim – by Rob Atkinson

Toon v Sunderland today. Er, we mean Toon v Stoke.

Toon v Sunderland today. Erm, we mean Toon v Stoke

A novel excuse has been advanced by an un-named Newcastle United player after the Toon’s disappointing home draw with Stoke. The Geordies had been leading near the end through a goal from Mackem youth product Jack Colback (74′) – but in the end, they were pegged back when Peter Crouch planted a firm header past Tim Krul as the match moved into added time.

One anonymous Newcastle player, immediately after the game, has apparently blamed Stoke’s red and white striped jerseys for the way City were allowed to snatch a point. “They looked canny like Sunderland, like, and it fair scared the clarts oot of us, bonny lad. Why AYE – it’s no excuse like, though but,” the player – believed to be from Newcastle’s English contingent – stated as he came off the pitch. Asked to enlarge on his controversial viewpoint, the Toon star would only add “Them buggas have made a turtle habit of beating us hollurr, every time we meet up, like. It’s enough to put a gadgie off his Broon, man. Sur when the likes of Sturk City torn up, the spittin’ image of them Sunnerlan’ buggas, it was just toomuchforruslike. Wuz’re like, y’knaa, psycholgically disTORBED, like! Pass us an orange, Thelma pet.”

A long-standing Newcastle fan, Sidney Aloysius Smutt, when asked outside the ground after the match for his views, would only observe “Haddaway an’ shite, ya bastads. Wuz’re not frit o’ that loosy Mackem lot. Or Sturk. Gan yem, man, before yiz gets a purk in the eye, like. I’m the cock o’ the waaaalk, man, me like.”

Mike Ashley (94) is uncomfortably close to Rangers.