Tag Archives: norwich city

Major Boost for Leeds as Villa Blunt Sheffield United Victory Bid – by Rob Atkinson

Sharp

The most gutted “hat trick hero” you could ever wish to see

Sometimes, you feel that things just aren’t going your way, and that you’d be better off curtailing the evening’s TV sport and slinking off upstairs with a good book. That was pretty much my frame of mind as I alternated between Sky Sports channels to see Leeds Rhinos getting turned over at Wigan on the one hand, and Sheffield United building a three goal lead at Aston Villa on the other, seemingly to turf Leeds United out of the automatic Championship promotion places.

Still, while there’s life there’s hope, and now I’m really glad that, having given up on the Rhinos (that ended up 34-16 to the Pies), I instead concentrated on the slim chance of a Villa comeback to frustrate the Blunts, whose fans were crowing about being top of the league as that three goal chasm opened up.

It was annoying, really, as Sheff Utd seemed to be getting all the rub of the green there was going. Billy Sharp, a striker who Leeds fans will remember as being unable to hack it at a big club, had put the Blunts a goal up at half time. In the second half, things took a turn for the worse with a ridiculously invalid second Blunts goal (offside, then Sharp kicking the ball out of the Villa keeper’s hands) unaccountably being allowed. Shortly after, it was 3-0 and, you’d have thought, the end of the matter after just 62 minutes.

But then, football reminded us all that it really is never over until that fat lady has sung her last, expiring note. After 82 minutes, Tyrone Mings soared to head home a corner. A still confident Sheffield United management then subbed “hat trick hero” Billy Sharp on 86 minutes, only to find their lead cut to one goal within seconds when Tammy Abrahams slammed home a rebound from nervous Blunts keeper Dean Henderson.

Then, for those of us keen not to see Sheffield United at the top of the League, there was the frustration of Villa being denied at least one clear penalty as the clock ticked down to five minutes stoppage time. Thankfully though, all was not lost. In the last minute of the extra five, Andre Green popped up at the far post to head home John McGinn‘s cross to secure Villa an unlikely draw, much to the joy of not only their own fans, but also those of Norwich and Leeds United.

As an epic game ended, the Blunts has to settle for a draw wrestled from the jaws of victory, with some Sheffield defenders indulging in some accusatory finger-pointing at their butterfingers keeper Henderson. That had some satisfying comedy value, as did the outburst of grief and rage on the sufc Twitter hashtag, where not long before had been gloating and smugness agogo. Deeply enjoyable, that.

For Leeds, this was a major boost. Whatever happens now this weekend, they will remain a minimum 2 points clear of third place, and in a much better situation than had seemed likely after 62 minutes at Villa Park. For once, I’ll say thanks to Villa, who had looked hopeless for much of the game, but who showed character to come back.

And, for the time being at least, we can all enjoy a good laugh at the expense of the Blunts.

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Frustration Through the Window and On the Pitch for Leeds, Who Must Improve at Middlesbrough – by Rob Atkinson

What should have been – poor Daniel James robbed of his dream move to Leeds United

Last weekend, together with the finale of the January transfer window preceding it, was a period which hardly qualifies as a highlight of Leeds United’s season so far. Taking transfer deadline day first, we had the protracted Dan James transfer saga finally coming to a conclusion, but not in a good way.

All seemed agreed; Dan had travelled up to his native Yorkshire to conclude what was, evidently, a move he was very keen to make from Swansea City to Leeds. The lad duly passed his medical, and went from Thorp Arch to Elland Road for his unveiling as a Leeds United player. He’d got the Leeds kit on, and was being filmed for a video announcement – and then, from early evening until the 11 pm deadline itself, Swansea City simply “went quiet”, refusing to answer increasingly urgent calls from Leeds. Even the player himself tried to call his reticent employers, but to no avail. So, the deadline passed, and the deal fell through.

There were no winners here, despite some defiant glee from the Swansea fans, many of whom had been saying good riddance when they thought the deal was being done. Leeds United lost out on a valuable squad addition, the player lost out on a move he really wanted – and Swansea could well have lost most of all, as they now have a very disappointed footballer on their hands, one they had seen fit to leave cooling his heels for hours at Elland Road, in the dark as to exactly what was going on. As deals go, it was a bad deal all round. It would be very interesting to know what the Football League, taking their own sweet time to pronounce on whether Spygate amounts to a failure of good faith by Leeds, make of Swansea City’s idiosyncratic approach to transfer dealings. Quite possibly, we shall be denied this knowledge.

And then it was Saturday, and the much-hyped meeting of the Championships top two at Elland Road, with Norwich City intown. Sadly, just as the transfer window had ended disappointingly for Leeds, so this match turned out to be a veritable damp squib for the home side. Norwich City showed up in a determined frame of mind, ran hard, fought hard, took their chances, rode their luck in the first half especially, and ultimately emerged as fairly comfortable winners. They had exacted revenge, in all but perfection, for United’s 3-0 success at Carrow Road back in August, only Patrick Bamford’s late consolation goal preventing an exact reversal of that scoreline. And there might we, just possibly, identify a crumb of comfort.

The Norwich game had been frustrating from the very start, with Leeds battering away up to the interval and getting absolutely nowhere, while the Canaries annoyingly profited from two defensive indiscretions and, aided by two deflections, scored twice. After half time, United played as though they’d forgotten what football was all about, Norwich added a third through yet another deflection, and that was pretty much it. Bamford’s late header from a corner hardly eased the gloom, but it did give some cause for optimism about the rest of the season. Because Bamford, if only he can stay fit, is probably the most natural finisher on United’s books – and that cutting edge, for all of Kemar Roofe’s industry and endeavour, is what has been lacking to top off all the attacking verve Leeds have shown throughout this campaign.

It may well be that the Norwich game, as well as highlighting United’s deficiencies, might have shown the way forward. If, that is, Bamford can finally be accommodated within the philosophy of Bielsaball. And, with a lunchtime Saturday trip to Middlesbrough in the offing after the last week or so Leeds United have had, we can only hope and believe that this will be how it turns out.

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

Krul

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

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

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

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

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

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

Football Differences of Leeds Utd, Norwich and Cardiff Fade Amid Triple Tragedy – by Rob Atkinson

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Leeds United’s Liam Cooper with young Toby Nye, who sadly passed away this month

As anyone who follows football online as well as in real life will know, there’s usually a bit of “banter” between fans of rival clubs – and there’s even the odd dedicated “banter” forum on the Internet, to facilitate this. Sometimes it jogs along on a fairly friendly basis, other times, friendly is not exactly the word. But occasionally – and now is one of those times – even the agitated banter between fans of clubs who really don’t normally have a lot of love for each other tends to fade away in the perspective of true human loss. At those times, football is relegated to the back seat it should always occupy when more serious and compelling matters come to the fore.

Lately, fate has dealt cruel blows to both Leeds United and Norwich City, of an almost identical nature, making such matters as Spygate or Norwich’s away dressing room makeover look as trivial and irrelevant as they really are. First, on January 12th, young United fan Toby Nye lost his brave battle against neuroblastoma, just days after his sixth birthday, passing away with his family around him. On Friday, Toby will make one last journey past the Leeds United ground at Elland Road, on the way to a celebration of his life.

The story echoed that of Bradley Lowery, the six-year-old Sunderland fan who died in July 2017, also from neuroblastoma. Bradley had formed a close friendship with ex-Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe when he became a mascot for the team, and Toby too had a big mate in the Leeds squad, with club skipper Liam Cooper among others closely involved in supporting and encouraging the young Leeds fan’s fight against this awful illness right up to the end. Cooper, who had once carried Toby on to the pitch at Elland Road, said on Twitter he was “heartbroken to hear that my little mate has peacefully passed”.

Just days later, there was news of another and tragically similar loss, as young Norwich City fan Sophie Taylor passed away at the age of five from osteosarcoma, a type of cancer that originates in the bones and had, in Sophie’s case, progressed to her lungs. Sophie, as in the cases of Bradley Lowery and Toby Nye, had formed a special attachment to one of her Norwich heroes, midfielder James Maddison. Although Maddison had moved on from Carrow Road to Leicester City last summer, he kept in touch with Sophie’s condition and was clearly devastated by news of her passing. In a touching Twitter message, Maddison wrote “Rest In Peace my little Angel. I love you always & forever.”

And, just in the past day or so, we have heard the news of Cardiff City‘s record signing Emiliano Sala who is missing after the aeroplane he was travelling on from Nantes to Cardiff disappeared from radar over the English Channel. This situation is still a developing one, but it appears that a happy ending – while devoutly hoped and prayed for – is unlikely, given the time of year and the temperature of sea waters. Meanwhile, Sala’s parents in Argentina are left hoping against hope that there will be better news forthcoming, while fans of both his old club, Nantes, and his new team Cardiff are united in what is becoming more a case of mass grief than any real hope.

Death is the one real certainty for all of us, with its timing being the main factor that will accentuate or mitigate the level of tragedy associated with each sad departure. The death of children, those poor little angels who have had such a brief shot at life before being snatched away, is, of course, acutely tragic and mourned with a level of intensity and shock, as we have seen. But the loss of a young man with talent and the world at his feet is also something profoundly to regret, and – if confirmed – will touch literally thousands of lives. In all of these cases, human nature has asserted itself, mundane rivalries and mutual irritations have been put aside – and everybody has concentrated on what’s really important, to the exclusion of club rivalries. And that is exactly as it should be.

Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything therefore extends sympathy and condolences to anyone connected to the three young angels recently departed, and also to those affected by the probable loss of a major football talent. It’s a great pity that it seems to take events such as these to remind people of what’s really important and, in that respect, I’m no less guilty than anyone else. But I suppose it’s reassuring also to know – because we have seen it happen – that, when tragedy does strike, people of different outlooks and affiliations will come together in the common cause of mutual support and comfort. At the end of the day, against a background of ever-present strife, that’s the most important thing of all.

Leeds Should Bring Robert Snodgrass Back Home, Agree? – by Rob Atkinson

Snoddy

Snoddy, come home

I’m sure this idea is out there, in light of what appears to be a sea-change of recruitment policy at Leeds United. It’s probably just that I haven’t seen it. But, surely, I can’t be alone in thinking that the time and circumstances are ripe for securing the return – even if only on loan initially – of former United talisman Robert Snodgrass.

It seems so obvious. West Ham don’t really want him. Villa definitely can’t afford him. And it would upset those Norwich and Hull upstarts, quite apart from adding significantly to the skill factor and firepower at Elland Road. It’s a proper no-brainer to me and, for the first time in years, it seems feasible – the kind of quality we should be looking to add.

I’m interested to know what readers of this blog think. Please feel free to comment as usual, giving your thoughts – but do also answer the poll below – a simple Yea or Nay.

Thanks and MOT.

 

Leeds United Boosted by Hat-Trick of Victories and a New Hero   –   by Rob Atkinson

Chris Wood, much-maligned goal machine


The phenomenon of three wins on the bounce for Leeds United is not simply a welcome change for long-suffering Whites fans – it’s more like something approaching a state of nirvana. Free from the worries and stresses accompanying defeat after defeat, the average Elland Road regular can relax for once, spared the jibes of a hostile media and annoyingly gloating fans of lesser clubs. Three straight wins – it’s as near to bliss as we’re likely to get right now.

Of course, it can’t be denied that this minor miracle has been achieved without the pulling-up of too many trees. Our victory at Cardiff dumped the Bluebirds unceremoniously at the foot of the table, and the other two victories – one in the league, one in the EFL Cup, were narrow affairs against another club struggling in the Championship’s basement, Blackburn Rovers. So it might not be much to write home about, although I’m clearly intending to get a blog out of it. Still – three wins is three wins, and it might just turn out to be a platform for better things to come. A victory against Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich Tractor Boys on Saturday, and we really would be on a roll.

The most notable factor in the trio of triumphs over the past week or so may well be the emergence of Swedish international centre back Pontus Jansson as the next Whites folk hero. Jansson’s performance at Cardiff was simply sublime; I’ve not seen a better defensive debut in many a moon. He’s the sort of colossus who you feel would head away anything fired at him, up to and including an intercontinental ballistic missile. And when he wasn’t wielding that impressive head, he was sliding into last ditch tackles or nipping in to make handy interceptions from frustrated Cardiff attackers. Wherever the ball entered our danger zone, there was Pontus to deal with it. The man was a revelation, a magnet for the ball, a man among men and one to hang on to if at all possible. Whoever the resident defenders are at Torino, his parent club, they must be a bit good to allow for the release of Jansson on a season’s loan. The Italians’ loss will, hopefully, be Leeds United’s gain.

Among other high points from the last few games was that Pablo Hernandez “worldy” strike to clinch the points at Cardiff. If he can start to put in more of a full shift, the ex-Swansea playmaker should be a real asset for United as the season goes on. And it’s good, also, to see Chris Wood scoring regularly. His winner against Blackburn in the EFL Cup was not a thing of beauty but, like Wood himself, it got the job done. And the boy takes a good, decisive penalty, putting them away hard and true with admirable cool as he did to open the scoring against our former nemesis Cardiff. Wood may have his detractors, but he’s undeniably effective.

Last, but not least, it’s lovely to see United make progress in a Cup. Norwich City are next up in a game at Elland Road that could see Leeds make a rare Quarter Final, and then – who knows? Maybe a big fish at home, like Manchester City, if they can overcome their own local minnows.

Now, that WOULD be bliss!

Could Becchio Recapture Some Elland Road Magic With a Leeds Return?   –   by Rob Atkinson

Becchio: will the prodigal return?


The story of Luciano Becchio and Leeds United is the classic example of that old proverb about the grass not necessarily being greener on the other side of the fence. Becchio had become a hero at Elland Road with his hard-working approach, his productive scoring record and, not least, his fantastic rapport with the United fans. It was a mutual adoration society: Whites on the terraces compared Becchio favourably to the likes of Berbatov at the Pride of Devon. He cost less and scored more, they exulted, noisily – and Becchio proved them right on a regular basis, making the most of a richly fruitful period of his career.

Sadly, it all went sour when Becchio, lured by the prospect of more money and higher grade football, trod a well-worn path from Leeds to Norwich City. Rob Snodgrass and Jonny Howson made the same move, and it worked out for them. But for Becchio, the shift to Carrow Road was an unmitigated disaster. He couldn’t score when he played and, soon enough, he wasn’t getting any game time. Spells at Rotherham followed his Norwich nightmare, together with a period back home in Argentina. Nowhere did he look remotely as comfortable and happy as he had done at Leeds United. That vital spark was missing, and Becchio’s career has waned, on the point of fizzling out. 

Now, we have a situation whereby Leeds, having failed abysmally to sign an additional striker within the transfer window, are rather light up front. It’s an odd situation for the club to find itself in; having let a reasonable performer in Antenucci leave in summer, they have been negligent in omitting to replace him. 

Becchio, for his part, is a free agent after his recent career calamities. So he now forms part of a small pool of potential recruits still available to interested employers after the window has slammed shut. 

Could Becchio recapture his mojo with a return to Leeds? Would it be an option that United might feel obliged to consider, having been so careless as to end up short of attacking options? Stranger things have happened. This blog subscribes to the view that good players remain good players and some just need the right environment to bring the best out of them. We’ve seen that over and over again down the years; it could be that, in Becchio, we have a square peg just waiting to be inserted into a square hole down Elland Road way.

At the very least, it would excite some interest and maybe a bit of optimism around LS11. Becchio would be the prodigal returned – maybe we should just kill the fatted calf and get on with it. 

Welcome Home, Jonny: Howson Deserves Leeds Ovation   –   by Rob Atkinson

Leeds and he knows he is: local boy Jonny

Tonight sees the first return to Elland Road of prodigal son Jonny Howson, now of Norwich City. Roll out the red carpet, sound the welcoming herald and kill the fatted calf for, lo, he that was lost is returned to us, albeit temporarily – and under an enemy banner. 

Actually, we might have to amend these tributes, but only slightly. After all, we’ve lost a lot of prodigals over the past few years at Leeds United and, if we hang out the bunting every time one of them shows up back at the old homestead, it’ll be a bit of a strain on that emaciated post-Living-the-Dream budget. The red carpet’s a bit tatty from that time Uncle Ken used it to protect the tiles when he was having CCTV installed in the bogs. And we’re fresh out of fatted calves. We did have a fatted goalkeeper, but sadly he was cast out into the wilderness (transferred to Ipswich Town).

So it might be a case of “modified rapture” when Jonny comes marching home – especially if he forgets his manners and scores the winner – but, nevertheless, this blog would like to think there’ll be a warm LS11 welcome in store for our former hero. By your deeds shall ye be judged – and Mr. Howson did manage a few notable deeds during the time he graced the iconic White shirt. 

Chief among these examples of unforgettable derring-do is, of course, the Howson Howitzer that broke the resistance of Bristol Rovers‘ embattled XI as the ten men of Leeds laid siege to their goal in an attempt to get out of a promotion-threatening emergency. 0-1 down and needing the win to climb out of third-tier purgatory, Leeds were becoming desperate when Jonny, our steely-eyed and über-cool marksman, fastened on to a ball laid back to him outside the box and simply lashed it into the Kop End net. The sonic boom of joy and relief fair sent the terrified Rovers into panicky disorder; they were softened up for the kill which Jermaine duly delivered – and we were up. 

Then, of course, there was that laser-accurate long pass at the Theatre of Hollow Myths for that same Jermaine to roll the ball in at the Beckford End and send the Pride of Devon, tantrums and all, spinning out of the FA Cup. And there was his late and massively timely strike at Carlisle to secure us one of our doomed Wembley play-off occasions. For a young, local lad, Jonny Howson made a mark on Leeds United history of almost Batty-esque proportions – and there can be little higher praise for a born and bred White than that ever so slightly exaggerated accolade. 

So, tonight – at last – Jonny is back at his spiritual home Elland Road. It’s a place printed into his DNA and somewhere I’m convinced – if we ever rid ourselves of fools, incompetents and charlatans – he will one day return to stay. The manner of his leaving does not weigh against the lad; in football, once “your” club has shown willing to lose you, there’s little point hanging around. Like a good pro, he went off to distinguish himself in a Premier League midfield; he went where the ambition and desire was, and away from the decay and complacency which pervaded – still pervades – Leeds United. Who can seriously blame him for that?

In the context of the 21st Century, Jonny Howson is a United Legend – not least for the moments recalled above, among many others. But he’s a legend too because, while he was with us, he epitomised what the spirit of United could and should be about. A Leeds heart beat proudly under that Leeds badge and it showed – in his general play and in his delightful knack of popping up when most needed, to strike decisively and turn the game Leeds’ way. 

One of my favourite memories of Jonny was a game at Scunthorpe when he struck what I still think of as the best example of the “perfect hat-trick” I’ve ever seen. A clean strike with either foot for two of the goals; the other a brilliant header. It meant little in the grand scheme of things, but it was a Leeds United youth product saying boldly: here I am, in the shirt I love, and this is what I can do. Sadly, Leeds didn’t appreciate what they had and, along with several other diamonds, Jonny left to glitter elsewhere. 

I hope he gets his due from the Elland Road crowd tonight. Under his pro’s facade, Howson will still care about what’s happening at Leeds – he’ll still hurt at what’s happening to Leeds. It won’t distract him in the slightest from his job this evening – but deep down, Jonny is still Leeds – and he knows he is. 

With our cheers and applause tonight for a departed hero – let’s show him that we know it too. 

Count On Leeds United to Knock the Canaries From Their Perch – by Rob Atkinson

The only good Canaries are dead Canaries

The only good Canaries are dead Canaries

If Leeds United‘s topsy-turvy season runs true to form, then tomorrow’s visitors Norwich City might just have a nasty surprise waiting for them at Elland Road. The Whites have already sent a few Championship high-flyers home, pointless and wondering what happened, in a season that has seen them generally under-perform. The challenge of promotion-chasing opponents, though, has frequently brought out the best in United on home soil – as Middlesbrough Ironopolis, Bournemouth and Derby County could readily testify.

Norwich would be a welcome scalp as far as United’s long-suffering fans are concerned. As a club, they’ve behaved towards Leeds in a decidedly uppity fashion over the past few years, taking advantage of a rare spell of league superiority to asset-strip our squad on an unpleasantly regular basis. While it’s true to say that Fulham have acted in much the same way, and more recently too, it’s also true that Leeds had Fulham for mugs over Ross McCormack‘s transfer, which has tended to mollify folks at this end. No such consolation where our backwoods, carrot-crunching friends are concerned; they’ve been really quite rude about openly enjoying raiding us and nicking off with some of our best players – as well as Bradley Johnson.

There was also that nasty little business earlier in the season, when serial victim Cameron Jerome made one of his occasional, ill-grounded racial abuse allegations against United player Giuseppe Bellusci. Jerome’s accusations on this occasion were so lacking in any supporting evidence that a Leeds player actually got off on a charge against him; something that hasn’t happened since before the Grand Canyon was formed. Norwich City, oddly, publicly supported their player despite the total lack of any corroborating evidence – and continued this stance even after the League verdict. Still, justice was done in the end – and Jerome sulked. It will be interesting to see if any lingering grudges are settled one way or the other tomorrow evening.

For Leeds, with Head Coach Neil Redfearn having thrown down the gauntlet to his team following a pallid display against Cardiff, the team’s make up is anyone’s guess. Redders could challenge as near as possible the same XI to redeem themselves, or he could ring the changes. Either way, a Norwich side strengthened by the absence of suspended ex-White Johnson might be expected to have too much for a Leeds side shaken by recent events and lacking both motivation and morale – so it might appear.

Just bear in mind that habit of being party-poopers, though. Against all logic, it would be no great surprise to see Leeds emerge from their gloom and turn the Canaries into so many bones and feathers tomorrow. We’ll keep our fingers crossed at Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything Towers – and make an only slightly tongue-in-cheek prediction of 3-1 to Leeds.

Oh – and Steve Morison to score…. FINALLY.

 

Cameron Jerome Disappointed NOT to Have Been Racially Abused? – by Rob Atkinson

Bellusci & Jerome - he said, she said...

Bellusci & Jerome – he said, she said…

To the surprise of many Leeds United fans, long inured to the habit of those wielding any sort of power finding against their favourites, Whites defender Giuseppe Bellusci was cleared of a charge that he racially abused Norwich City striker Cameron Jerome. It was an accusation that had been hanging over Bellusci for too many months; one can only speculate about the effect that the ongoing issue has had on his ability to conduct a career in professional football. And yet it is still Cameron Jerome, a man who has not been unwilling in the past to fling accusations of this nature at fellow professionals, who seems to see himself as the sole victim here.

In the end, common sense prevailed. The eventual verdict amounts to a slightly insipid “not proven”, but – as I had previously speculated – it is difficult to see how the outcome could have been anything else. With one man’s word standing against another’s consistent denials (and alternative take on what was actually said) and absolutely no third-party corroboration one way or the other, it is clear which way the verdict should have gone – although there is always many a potential slip ‘twixt cup and lip. There is no reason, either, to conclude that the decision reflects ill on Jerome; there is no suggestion, after all, that he has been anything other than scrupulously truthful in his account of what he thought he heard. The outcome follows on from the acceptance of the panel that there was a misunderstanding here, aggravated by the language barrier. Unable to prove either man wrong or false in his account, what else could this judicially-convened body reasonably do?

Jerome, though, is not persuaded and feels hard done by. Possibly he feels that his honesty has been impugned, in which case somebody with a better grasp of the technicalities should perhaps sit him down and gently explain. But there appears to be some resolve on the “disappointed” Jerome’s part to pursue the matter further, if at all possible. In this, he may well be backed by the “Kick It Out” movement, who have hinted at support for the miffed striker after due consideration of the reasons behind the decision.

Kick It Out is a worthy campaign for positive good in the modern game. But are they really serving anyone’s best interests in a case where, regardless of what was actually said by both parties, it will be impossible to prove the matter one way or the other? Their offer of support to Jerome is laudable enough in itself, but it would be better directed, surely, towards explaining to the guy the difficulties of proving something without any supporting evidence – and particularly where there is a reasonable basis for supposing that neither man is lying and a misunderstanding is the real culprit here. Instead, the stance of both the alleged injured party and his potential supporters appears to be a determination to keep open this can of worms, come what may.

The fact is that, in the heat of battle, with native tongues angrily resorted to, it’s entirely reasonable and understandable that whatever was said had its intended meaning lost in translation. Bellusci says he shouted in Italian that he would “black Jerome’s eye” after suffering a foul by the Norwich forward. It is this altercation that is pictured above. The Italian word for black is “nero” – it’s easy to see how an English speaker might hear that as “negro”. That’s the word Jerome thought he heard, and that – naturally – formed the whole basis for his subsequent complaint, which he has been acknowledged to have made quite properly and conducted impeccably. There is a minor dispute here about the word used, but beyond a one letter difference that doesn’t seem to be a crucial point – and it comes under the umbrella of “misunderstanding”. Only the meaning, or sense, is substantially disputed. It meant one thing coming from Bellusci’s angry mouth, so we are told – and quite another as heard by Jerome’s outraged ear. Therein lies the crux of the misunderstanding (which cannot be disproved) – and that is why this decision was – had to be – correct.

If Jerome has any common-sense at all, and does not want to be thought of as pursuing a vendetta in pushing an unprovable point of view – if he does not, in short, want to be thought guilty of that dread phrase “playing the race card” – then he had better swallow his well-publicised disappointment and get on with playing football as he is paid to do. On the facts and the evidence, or lack thereof, there is little else he can feasibly do. The Kick It Out campaign, whatever their understandable zeal in wishing to root out racists and see them dealt with, are not serving anyone’s best interests in advising their man otherwise – least of all Cameron Jerome himself.

Massimo Cellino went on record during the long wait for this matter to be decided as saying that, if Bellusci were to be found guilty of racism, then he’d be out of the club. As simple and unambiguous as that. There is absolutely no reason to suspect that Leeds United FC has anything other than a zero tolerance policy where racism is concerned. Not every club could say as much. Leeds, let us not forget, had in Albert Johanneson the first black player in an FA Cup Final; they had a black player (Gerry Francis) in the almost entirely white British 1950s – and they supported such an effective anti-racism campaign in the 80s that the club virtually rid itself of its extreme minority, who were reduced from a vocal force in and around the Elland Road stadium to disconsolate pariahs, shunned and marginalised by genuine Leeds supporters.

If – despite the “not proven” verdict – Giuseppe Bellusci did harbour the evil of racism deep within himself, then he would have chosen the wrong club to play for in Leeds, where black players have been a vital part of successive squads ever since the pioneering contributions of Terry Connor, Noel Blake, Vince Hilaire and others, over the past four decades. If Bellusci were of this unacceptable mind, he would be found out and turfed out by the club. I am proud to be able to claim this for Leeds, a club where Nelson Mandela’s hero, Lucas Radebe, has attained a God-like status, almost literally worshipped to this day by thousands of Leeds fans for whom his black skin is either irrelevant or a matter of defiant pride. Certain other clubs are demonstrably a long, long way behind Leeds in this respect.

Let us move on now, for all that is good in the game. Let Bellusci and Jerome get on with their respective careers, let Kick It Out continue with their vital work and their increasingly educational and beneficial influence on football in this country. This case has been an unedifying spectacle for too long now, giving hope to those with unsavoury agendas and casting doubt on the ability of my club and the game as a whole to thrive in their current proudly multi-cultural complexion. It’s gone on far too long and it’s ended more honourably than might have been the case.

Disappointed or not, Cameron Jerome – and, by extension, Norwich City – it now behoves you to accept the outcome and move on. Let that process begin now.