Tag Archives: Norwich City FC

Jonny Howson Back to Leeds United, But NOT Jermaine Beckford – by Rob Atkinson

Leeds United v Bristol Rovers

Jermaine and Jonny during THAT Bristol Rovers game

A headline this morning screams that Leeds United should bring Jonny Howson and Jermaine Beckford, the two League One promotion goal heroes, back to Elland Road. As pre-transfer window speculative press advice goes, it’s nearer the mark than 90% of the rubbish out there – but it’s still only half right at best.

Judged on their merits, the two cases are miles apart. Howson is still the real deal, coming up to his 29th birthday, a mature goal-scoring midfielder who has performed creditably in the Premier League. He thrived at Leeds before the environment around LS11 turned toxic, at which time his best move was out. If he’s now available to bring back into the fold, it would be a very good option for a United midfield sorely in need of top-level experience and the kind of commitment that comes with a player who is also a fan.

Beckford, on the other hand, shows all the signs of having put the best of his playing career far behind him. I still believe that he should have given himself a chance of securing a second successive promotion with Leeds United, after helping get the club out of League One in 2010. Obviously, there were compelling financial reasons for his move to Everton, and he did make a mark of sorts at Goodison Park. But thereafter, it’s been a case of each successive move leading to a diminution of his reputation, and the signals have always been there that he left his heart and soul behind at Elland Road – he’s perhaps the opposition player best known for his ongoing rapport with our crowd, complete with Leeds salute. I can’t help thinking that he has his regrets, but realistically he’s not a viable option for a United squad on the way up (we hope). The rule of thumb here is, since he’s been released by Preston, there’s not too much – sadly – that he can now offer to Leeds United.

Many more names will be bandied about over the coming weeks, some of them formerly of this parish, and many more who might be new and exciting additions to the club. But if I could have one choice for a player to return, I wouldn’t look much further (with the honourable exception of Rob Snodgrass) than Jonny Howson, who I feel really could add that winning spark to next years United squad.

 

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Leeds Manager Garry Monk Reacts to Rumours Linking Him to Norwich City – by Rob Atkinson

Monk laugh

Garry Monk, just after our question about Norwich, and just before he started rolling on the floor

Leeds United‘s bright young manager Garry Monk has been mentioned speculatively in various parts of the press, regarding a possible move to Norwich City in the near future.

Ever keen to keep our finger on the pulse of the club, Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything put the matter to our manager directly: “Garry, is there any truth in this?”

Sadly, for once our intrepid team has had to admit failure – as Mr. Monk appeared to be experiencing some difficulty in responding coherently to our enquiry. We were able to decipher only a few words amid an otherwise unintelligible mixture of snorts, guffaws and – we regret to report – somewhat ribald laughter. The only phrase we can reliably convey from our conversation with Garry was “Oh, my aching sides”, before he lapsed once again into what we can only describe as amused incoherence – although it’s possible that he may also have said something along the lines of “not after what Becchio told me for (deleted) sake”.

We do feel that, on balance, Mr. Monk’s demeanour was such that any move to Carrow Road could fairly be described as “somewhat unlikely”. We remain determined to obtain a more definitive statement from Garry, when he’s managed to get up off the floor, regain his breath and take life seriously again.

FA Charge Italian Bellusci With Racism…for Speaking in Italian – by Rob Atkinson

Bellusci: "Posso negare il razzismo!"

Bellusci: “Posso negare il razzismo!

The latest news on the latest Cameron Jerome “racial abuse” claims: Leeds defender Giuseppe Bellusci will attend in person to put his version of events to an FA disciplinary commission tomorrow – let’s hope that he gets a fair hearing and doesn’t become a victim of “antipodean marsupial justice”. I won’t hold my breath – although the impartiality of football authorities’ judicial proceedings IS coming on in leaps and bounds…

There was a time when corroborative evidence from a third party was required – or at least highly desirable – in order for a charge as serious as racial abuse to be brought against a football player or other alleged offender. Rumour has it that, in some areas of footballing and other jurisprudence, that may even still be the case. But this is Leeds United, so those troublesome little considerations needn’t apply – or so it increasingly seems. 

Whatever the moral and legal ins and outs, the FA have looked into a complaint by Cameron Jerome of Norwich City FC against Giuseppe Bellusci of Leeds. Jerome alleges racist language. Bellusci hotly denies any such thing. Who is to say which man is telling the truth? It could even be that the whole thing is an unfortunate misunderstanding across the language barrier – see below. But, leaving all of these problems aside, the FA are prepared to make a case of it, despite the hideous difficulty of establishing the truth when Party A alleges something, Party B denies it (Beh, è il vostro diritto di negare questa accusa, Giuseppe, non è vero?)* – and there is no Party C to swear true from false.

* The Italian phrase above means (as nearly as Google translate allows me to render it) “Well, it’s your right to deny this accusation, Giuseppe, isn’t it?” You may notice how I have subtly emphasised the word “negare“, meaning “deny”. Apparently, one plank of Bellusci’s defence is that, after being elbowed by Mr Jerome and then being treated to a volley of ripe abuse by that gentleman, he remarked to him quite calmly, in Italian, whilst pointing at his own neck “You can’t deny the elbow”. 

If this is true, and if Jerome (whose Italian may not be exactly fluent as Serie A clubs have managed somehow to resist signing him thus far) has simply mistaken the word “negare” as something racially sinister – then, in the absence of any corroborative evidence either way, it’s very hard to see how a fair-minded, competent authority could possibly find against Signor Bellusci. That’s not to say, of course, that the FA will have any such difficulty, particularly as this is another golden opportunity for the football powers that be to have another swipe at nasty old Leeds, much to the delight of rival fans, gutter press hacks and other such morons everywhere. But that plank of the Leeds man’s defence appears, on the face of it, to be fairly stout.

It’s a pretty dicey situation, this. These are troubled, even shark-infested waters. The FA may feel that racism is such a topical hot potato that, where an allegation is made, a charge should follow as night follows day, lest they be thought of as sweeping things under the carpet. That, however, doesn’t entitle them to dispense with good old English precepts like “innocent until proven guilty” – nor yet the even older Latin one about prima facie evidence.

In the glaring absence of any corroboration whatsoever, and with the intriguing possibility of a tragic misunderstanding as outlined above, it’s genuinely difficult to see how the charge against Bellusci can be proven – even under the less legally exacting ‘balance of probabilities’ test that applies in non-criminal cases. Or, to put my paranoid hat back on, might the allegedly august governing body hold that, as the player is on the books of the Damned United, he’s more likely than not a wrong’un – and find accordingly against him? Tread carefully, chaps. There will be some pretty sharp lawyers out there watching your every step down the crooked path you might be tempted to follow. Ask Shaun Harvey over at the League about that.

Leeds United AFC, it warms my heart to confirm, are standing four-square behind their man, and for solid and grounded reasons – namely: the player consistently denies the allegation; and there is no independent confirmation of what was, or wasn’t, said. Certain Norwich City supporters have taken to Twitter and hormonally demanded that Leeds United should be summarily liquidated for this stance. I can only clap my face to my palm in despair and recommend that such very un-cerebral people might benefit from an elementary law course, a session watching “Petrocelli” or maybe a somewhat larger gene pool – quite possibly all three. Not, of course, that I would wish to be in any way Wurzellist or yokellist here.

As ever with Leeds United and their frequent brushes with the game’s authorities, it’s not possible to predict any outcome with any degree of confidence. But, given the apparent and hard-to-dispute facts of this case, surely there would have to be an excess of stupidity, malice and vindictiveness for the decision to go against Bellusci. Then again, it wouldn’t be the first time that has happened…

The sad fact is that we are in a mess largely of our own making in that football governing bodies and fans organisations alike have tended over the past few decades to recoil in horror at any manifestation of racial prejudice. This has to be A Good Thing, of course – but it can have unfortunate consequences and there is arguably too much room these days for sledgehammers to be employed in the cracking of walnuts.

I’m not advocating any return to the days when a racial slur was tolerated and complainants were advised to take a “sticks and stones may break my bones” approach. It is tempting to wonder, though, what the likes of Cyrille Regis and Viv Anderson feel about the current squeamishness over name calling by the ignorant, as compared with what they had to go through in their seventies heyday – having bananas thrown at them, and other disgusting manifestations of brainless and moronic behaviour. What of our own late and lamented Albert Johanneson, who was staggered to find that he was allowed in the communal bath with the rest of the players, so used was he to being considered a second-class citizen where he grew up. Would our Albert have had a hissy fit over a name he thought he’d heard someone call him? Of course not. It’s all relative, and Albert had come from something far, far worse.

Surely to goodness, there’s a sane and happy medium somewhere? The experience of the past few years seems to be that it’s far too easy for allegations of racism to be made over hasty and possibly misapprehended words, exchanged in the heat of battle. If racial abuse can be demonstrated and if proof is at hand, then the offender should be dealt with accordingly – and in a manner to leave him (or her) in absolutely no doubt as to the inadvisability of such childish and ignorant carrying-on. But kangaroo courts hearing trumped-up charges based on uncorroborated and very possibly flawed statements – that’s a dangerous path to tread, and not one calculated to lead to increased harmony in our increasingly multi-cultural leagues. Whatever next? Will we see some hapless and brainless defensive midfielder hauled up on charges of being gingerist or stoutist? Just how stupid is the game prepared to make itself look?

Verbal abuse (whether racially-motivated or not) if it’s going to be the basis of disciplinary charges, needs to be at the most deeply offensive end of the scale – and it needs to be witnessed to such a degree as to make denial implausible. Otherwise, we’re going to continue with this spate of “name-calling” charges, and it’ll be open season on any hothead who lets his gob run away with him when tensions rise out there on the park. This would do no person and no cause any good at all – it would serve merely to trivialise something potentially highly damaging to the whole of sport and indeed society at large.

Here’s hoping that this current situation was the product of a misunderstanding, that both parties can be satisfied this is the case – and that the FA can conduct an urgent root and branch review into the standard of evidence and corroboration required before its wheels of justice start to grind. There is a very real danger here that our national sport’s venerable governing body might just end up looking even more stupid and out-of-touch than usual.

Three Leeds Wishes: Norwich Down, Snodgrass Back & Cellino Approved – by Rob Atkinson

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As a long-suffering Leeds fan, I’ve learned to temper my expectations and to live with disappointment for the vast majority of the time.  Such is the lot of most genuine football fans, only the plastic glory-hunters can expect much better – and even they will eventually experience hard times, as the fate of Man U this season is comically proving.  So my wishes tend to be few and simple, and right now they can be distilled down to three major desires I’d love to see fulfilled over the next couple of months.

For once, none of these revolve around disease, pestilence or other misfortunes for those lovely people at the Theatre of Hollow Myths.  The poor old Pride of Devon are having a horrible season and the red quarter of Manchester has had to suffer anew today, watching the city’s premier club walk off with the season’s first silverware.  I wish bad cess to them, as ever, but they seem to be screwing up all on their own at the moment, so I can devote my wishes elsewhere in the knowledge that the Evil Empire is crumbling of its own accord – I’ll just offer up a small prayer for Mr Moyes, who is doing such a fantastic job over there on t’wrong side of t’Hills.

My wishes then, are as follows:

  1. I would very much like Norwich City to get relegated.  This would scratch an itch that’s been troubling me for a few years now, ever since a bunch of backwoods yonners started raiding my beloved Leeds and their yokel fans began gloating about the circumstances which brought this ridiculous state of affairs about.  I really can’t stand jumped-up little clubs acting above their station, and Norwich have been guilty of this several times lately – so I’m afraid I wish doom upon them – and after today’s meek loss at Villa, I might just get what I’m after.  If they got relegated, it would be some sort of karma, and it’d be bloody funny besides.  So screw you, Delia – oh dear, how sad, tough.  I’m sure you’ll be able to drown your sorrows when this joyous event comes to pass.
  2. Related to (1) above – I want Snoddy back.  He’s class, he’s far too good for a tiny little outfit like Naaaaaaarritch – and he belongs at Leeds.  There’s a rumour that we have first option – so if that’s true, if Norwich get relegated and IF we’re rich enough (see 3) – then it’d be rude not to enforce our contractual rights and nick Snoddy back. I do believe he’d be a better person for it, too.  But then again, I’m biased.
  3. This could really be number 1 – however, I had spite to vent on Norwich City first.  But it’s vital that we get Massimo Cellino confirmed as Leeds United owner as soon as possible, so we really need the Football League to get off their arses, get their finger out and get it sorted, quickly.  All prayers beyond that for David Moyes should be directed towards this desirable outcome.  When we get the ownership outcome sorted, we can look forward to a substantially different investment and transfer policy, ownership of Elland Road, and much, much more, as they say in the adverts. Make it happen, the sooner the better.

The granting of these three wishes will do me for now – but inevitably they would lead on to more wishes of an increasingly ambitious and extravagant nature.  This is only to be expected – Leeds have been poor relations for far too long, and it’s high time we had some seriously good things to look forward to. So: whoever’s in charge of these things – please take note.  Sort out these three small wishes for me, and stand by for further communications in the near future.

Thank you.