Tag Archives: norwich city

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!

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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.

Becchio: Could Love be Sweeter the Second Time Around? – by Rob Atkinson

The Luciano we Remember

The Luciano we Remember

As speculation mounts over just who the man could be that will revive the flagging fortunes of Leeds United in front of goal, one name simply refuses to go away.  Luciano Becchio of blessed memory, our very own Argentinian hit-man, a hard-working and committed striker with a Barça “B” notch on his CV – yet currently a flop at Norwich City, the deal that took him there having gone sour for both clubs.

Leeds emerged from that transaction with Steve Morison and some money. Then Morison went to purgatory in the shape of Millwall and has barely emerged since, despite a return to Elland Road – although he has lately shown some commitment and promise in a lone striker role. The Becchio money has of course long since disappeared on United’s running costs or Ross McContract’s wages – and poor Luca has spent the interim period sliding ungracefully down the pecking order of Norwich’s lengthening roster of strikers.  In his rare league appearances in the not-so-famous canary yellow, he has scored the grand total of zero goals. The form that prompted the Carrow Road lot to go after him was much more prolific as his Leeds career came to an end, but he did not take that form with him to East Anglia.

It is common knowledge that Luciano would be open to a return to Elland Road and, indeed, that he wasn’t all that keen on leaving in the first place. Dark rumours are being whispered abroad that he was forced out; that his availability was hyped-up by the men then in charge, and that poor Luca was but a pawn in the high-stakes finance game being played out in the wake of the GFH takeover. Perhaps it’s true.  So would Becchio be welcomed back to LS11?

Opinions, as ever, are divided.  Some would crawl over broken glass all the way to the wilds of Norfolk and then give the lad a piggy-back ride all the way up to Thorp Arch and pay for the privilege.  Others regard anyone who leaves as several grades down from Judas Iscariot, and would rather kiss a Man U badge than see such a traitor back in the fold.  The truth is out there somewhere, and more than likely it’s in between those two extremes.  There is always a worry about a returning hero; the late, great John Charles failed to relive the magic when he returned, and there have been other second-time flops since.  Isn’t it, perhaps, better to go for a new man, with no ex-Leeds baggage, one who will arrive with a clean slate and an eagerness to win new friends? You’d have thought so, and Signor Cellino prefers to shop elsewhere – but all of his prospects are turning up their noses at Leeds and heading off elsewhere.

Becchio’s failure to hack it in the Premier League during Norwich’s doomed survival fight (some would say that’s a harsh call given his relative lack of opportunities) will not have surprised many.  His game was always about drive and endeavour more than silky skills and fancy flicks or turns.  He would work so hard on his best days, he would go in where angels fear to tread, he would stick his head in where many might shrink from risking a boot.  On his off-days, by contrast, he could be awfully anonymous – subtract effort and commitment from his game and there was not, it seemed, a hell of a lot left.  And yet every now and then he’d produce a sublime finish, as depicted in the image above, that belonged at a much higher level.  His habit of picking on Middlesbrough endeared him to many, and the fact that the Smoggies coveted him as well as McCormack would be reason enough for many to get him back on the payroll.

As things stand, all we really have is a very persistent rumour that the Whites are looking for additional firepower, and soon at that, with the window slamming shut Monday night. Whoever we might get, I hope they’d come with a winger included, so that the whole thing might stand a better chance of working – although the club seem to be banking on Mowatt and Byram to do the wide boy stuff.

If Becchio does appear again in a Leeds United shirt over the next few days, he’ll be doing it because he’s wanted by the boss – Redders has come out and said as much, but was abruptly contradicted by the since-departed il Presidente. On the basis that the pro in the equation wants the lad, I’d cautiously welcome him back, and wish him all the very best as he seeks to resume a United career he should probably never have interrupted.

FA ‘Disappointed’ Over Leeds Utd Bellusci Stance – by Rob Atkinson

 

Prof. Dummfahrt in conference with himself, yesterday

Prof. Dummfahrt in conference with himself, yesterday

It has emerged from FA Headquarters that a growing disquiet over Leeds United’s determination to defend neo-Nazi thug Giuseppe Bellusci is leaving the ruling body “very disappointed”. Professor Hermann Dummfahrt, Head of FA Media Relations, was scathing when asked about Leeds’ intention to resist the unsubstantiated charges. “Nothing’s ever their fault, is it?” he snarled, bitterly. “Well, let me tell you, we at the FA have had quite enough of Leeds and we intend to scupper them good and proper, and by any means necessary.”

Prof. Dummfahrt has also reacted with dismay to news that United owner Massimo Cellino’s “Owners & Directors” suspension will not now kick in until his appeal against the Football League ban has been decided. This should mean that Cellino will, after all, be able to oversee Leeds’ limited transfer options in the January window. “The Football League. Ha!” the FA man spluttered, quite incandescent with rage. “They had one job. One!! And they’ve made a mess of it, a complete balls-up. You’d better believe me when I tell you we’ll be showing the League exactly how to deal with Leeds United”.

When asked what measures could be taken, the Professor was enthusiastic. “We have many options”, he chuckled. “There is this racism thing with Bellusci. The player claims that the everyday Italian word ‘Negareisn’t foul, racist abuse. Poppycock!! Then again, these unreliable, cheating Eyeties are all the same, it’s in their DNA – notorious liars….ahem.”

Feeling it best to move on from the topic of racism, we asked Dummfahrt what other sanctions might apply. “Well, I hear what you say – but don’t assume that our racism investigations end with Bellusci. Leeds also have a player, believe it or not, called Montenegro! Check out those last two syllables – racist as the ace of spades or what??” Hmmm. OK, yes, if you say so… but – what else do you have?

The Professor scratched his head and observed wryly “We have to be careful about these things. Forewarned is forearmed, you know? But we have shots in our locker, trust me. There’s the Lady Di situation – you’re not telling me Leeds United had nothing to do with that. And that Schweinhund Polish linesman at Wembley in 1966, who put him up to allowing that verdammt third goal, eh? Then there’s the global financial crisis – when the whole world “did a Leeds” and the poor old bankers got the blame. We’re optimistic there. And – nobody ever got nicked for the Jack the Ripper killings, did they? That’s worth a 15 to 30 point deduction on suspicion alone.”

At this point, our Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything correspondent was, to say the least, somewhat gobsmacked. Feeling that the eminent FA man was, perhaps, pulling his chain a little, our reporter asked Professor Dummfahrt if he was not straying somewhat from the path of reason and sanity. “After all, Professor,” our intrepid correspondent ventured, nervously. “A lot of people, listening to all that you’ve just said, might feel that you’re absolutely barking mad, dribblingly deranged and pursuing some insane and unjustified vendetta against a club earnestly trying to sort out its problems – just how would you respond to that?”

The Professor fixed our man with a steely glare and broke into a bout of cracked and maniacal laughter. “Mad?” he raved. “Mad?? Of course I’m bloody mad, you poor, simple soul!! How the hell do you think I qualified for a senior position at the FA in the first place??”

Fallen Canaries Still Chirping as Rumours Surround Leeds’ McCormack – by Rob Atkinson

Over the past few years, Leeds fans have had to grin and bear it as little Norwich – an unfashionable club from the back of beyond – have used the fact of their temporarily higher league status to pluck such gems as Snodgrass, Howson, Becchio and, erm, Bradley Johnson from the Elland Road payroll.  In truth, only the first two of those four departures were all that painful – the odd twinge caused by Luciano’s departure has been relieved by his zero contribution to Naaaarritch since he joined them – but that hasn’t stopped those loveable Ciddy fans from gloating and grinning and taking the mick.  Every time another transfer “coup” has been completed, there they’ve been, savouring the novelty of lording it over Mighty Leeds, crowing about us being their “feeder club” (no marks for originality there, lads) and generally cavorting all over the internet like the small-time wurzels they are.

Now, these cheeky, chirpy, safely-anonymous internet trolls are at it again, all agog with excitement that their little irritant of a football club are tipped by the gutter press to make yet another raid on a club that has looked down on them for the bulk of their undistinguished history.  It’s the classic small man syndrome; you suffer for years at the hands of bigger boys like Leeds, Ipswich – even Colchester and so on – and when the chance crops up to puff your chest out and do a little crowing after all those decades of feeble cheeps, well, you fill your boots (as it’s only too easy for those six-toed feet to do).

And where, after all, is the harm you might ask?  If this internet bravado helps the currently happy (despite demotion) Ciddy fans forget their inglorious past, then good luck to them, right?  After all, prior to their recent double promotion success, their club was mainly famous for the tired and emotional display of Delia Smith when she unwisely seized the match-day mike after lavishly sampling the vino cabinet, and treated the stunned home crowd to a slurred and cringeworthy motivational speech:  “Wheeeere aaaare yoooouu?  Let’s be ‘aaaavviiiin’ yooooouuu!!!”   It was entertaining for everyone outside Carrow Road, but let’s face it – it’s hardly a siren call to tempt a Scotland star who already has a first team berth in a far bigger club – or so you’d have thought.

However, money talks and – as one easily-pleased Canary reminded me just today (via a tweet, appropriately) – Norwich have recently copped for around £70m simply for achieving relegation.  Against that, we have Mr McCormack’s recent assertion that winning promotion as captain of Leeds United would mean a lot more than playing for “just any Premier League club”.  We must presume, then, that the attraction is that much greater again – when the option in front of him is just any ex-Premier League club.  Norwich is the arse end of nowhere, after all – you’d have thought that last season’s Championship top-scorer could do a hell of a lot better.  But, it’ll likely come down to just how many zeroes there are on the end of that bottom line.  Rossco is tied to a contract at Leeds, and there seems to be little suggestion that the club are minded to improve it.

Yesterday, the talk was that a firm bid of £5 million had been made by a Championship club – later tentatively identified as Fulham, another of the parachute payment brigade, lavishly rewarded for last season’s calamitous failure.

To be quite frank, I could cope if he went there. It’s not ideal – and I’m not saying a few more millions than that measly five would sugar the pill rather better – but at least Fulham’s not bleedin’ Norwich and those cocky bloody internet Canaries. I swear if I ever caught one of those I’d pretend I thought it was a lemon and squeeze it into my drink.

Roll on the end of the transfer window. Rumour has it that what’s left of our squad might start playing a few games of football then…

Norwich in for McCormack … Yeah, Yeah, Put a New Record On – by Rob Atkinson

Ross McCormack

Ross McCormack

They’re not the brightest bunch down at the Daily Fail – they seem to lack any real intelligence or imagination.  This is odd for a representative of the gutter end of the Fourth Estate which depends so much on fabrication and ludicrous hogwash for the majority of its output.  Perhaps the strain of supporting Mr Camoron’s ridiculous and unelected regime has addled those tiny brains.  Whatever the cause of this rag’s latest foray into Fantasy Island territory, it’s all getting more than a little boring now.

What the Fail‘s dim but persistent hacks have cottoned on to is the fact that the best way to rile Leeds United fans is to run yet another story linking our current best player (no challengers to Mr McCormack for this title at the moment) with Norwich City – based purely on that backwoods Norfolk outfit’s notable record of signing some of the Whites’ meagre pool of talent over the past few seasons.

The difference at the moment of course is that Norwich are now a Championship club again, having suffered an hilarious relegation despite securing the services of 75% of the Leeds United League One midfield. When those regular raids on the Elland Road playing staff were going on, the Canaries were, albeit temporarily, Premier League birds.  It’s a distinction far too subtle for the booze-raddled mind of your average FAILOnline fantasist, but that Premier League status did make a difference for as long as it was a fact. It’s a difference that no longer applies, though – so what (we might ask) is the rationale behind the current story linking our Ross to the ex-Premier League (they are no more, they have ceased to be) Canaries?  I’ll tell you what. Nothing. Nada. Zip, zilch and, as Mr Cellino would no doubts say, niente.  It is all, to use a technical term descriptive of the journalistic standards at the Fail, bollocks.

It’s hardly unlikely that Mr McCormack will move on to pastures new this summer.  He will have no shortage of clubs queuing up to recruit him, and on much better terms than his present agreement.  But Leeds United have him tied to a contract, and Ross himself has spoken of the attraction of staying at Elland Road and winning promotion as captain.  Much better, he said, than playing in the Premier League with “just any old club”.  So how much better still are his current circumstances than the scenario of playing for just another Championship Club, against Leeds United (to whom he has consistently pledged his allegiance) – and uprooting his family into the bargain.  It just doesn’t add up.  Then again, neither does your average Fail hack’s expenses account.

The “writers” for the likes of the Sun, the Mail, the Mirror, etc etc, are never going to be good journalists, telling the truth and uncovering legitimate stories.  That’s so far beyond the bounds of probability as to be laughable. But they could at least vary the standard fare a little, in the hope of eventually becoming slightly less pisspoor journalists.  Why not link McCormack at least to a Premier League club?  It’d still be made-up crap, most likely – but at least it wouldn’t be quite such transparently obvious crap.  The current habit of using Norwich all the time, just because of the well-known irritant factor for those of a Leeds persuasion, is lazy; it’s unimaginative; it’s boring.  It doesn’t help the clubs concerned, or the fans of those clubs – and neither does it reflect well on proper journalists working for serious newspapers, who tend to get tarred with the same brush by an undiscriminating public as the morons who rattle off the same old crap from their rightful place at the sewer end of Fleet Street.

So please – do us all a favour.  Put a new record on, or just shut up altogether. Or stick to writing astrology columns. You wouldn’t be missed in the real world of sport – and at least doing horoscopes you’d have a bit more chance of being right once in a blue moon. 

Cardiff’s Demise Even More Satisfying Than That of Norwich City – by Rob Atkinson

Vincent Tan, contemplating his less-than-prolific Keeper

Vincent Tan, contemplating his less-than-prolific ‘keeper

The football season is over for Leeds United – in truth, it has been for some weeks, certainly well before the league programme ended with that draw against Derby.  So, the choice is between speculating about developments behind the scenes at Elland Road, or having a nice pleasurable little dance on a couple of old rivals’ graves.  I’ve done my share of Leeds United speculation for the day – it looks like it’s time to get nasty then, and celebrate the downfall of two sets of fine, feathered friends in the Canaries and the Bluebirds.

If I could have had the privilege of selecting two out of three clubs to drop out of the Premier League this season, and join us down here among the dead men, then those two would have been Cardiff and Norwich.  So, I got my own way – and I’ll be looking forward to a renewal of hostilities next season.  In the Norwich case, my desire to see them fall is something I’ve gone into already, and all of my negative feelings around that scenario were directed really at the Canaries’ annoyingly chirpy fans who took such pleasure in their favourites recruiting three-quarters of our League One midfield.  I’ve made myself suitably unpopular on their effeminately-named message board The Pink ‘Un, and that’ll do for me.  I’ve no real problem with the club itself – I’m an admirer of Stephen Fry, and even old Delia Smith is good for a laugh, especially for that famously “tired and emotional” rallying call to the Ciddy fans – something that always brings me at least a smile, no matter how grumpy I might feel.

So much for Norwich.  Cardiff is a rather more complex case – there are Leeds United reasons for my gladness to see them come tumbling back down after one solitary season out of their comfort zone, and they date back to a horrible afternoon of FA Cup combat followed by vile crowd scenes, whipped up by their idiotic then-owner Sam Hammam – an episode we need not revisit here. But there are wider justifications for my intense distaste for Cardiff City that have arisen only this season.  They relate to the club’s current owner and dictator Vincent Tan – a man whose knowledge of football would fit comfortably inside a peanut – and yet one who arrogantly thinks he knows best about everything and is prepared to ride roughshod over tradition and supporter upset alike to have his own way.

The fact is that, despite historic grievances, my sympathy has been with the Cardiff fans ever since Tan marched in and started changing their club in an arrogant and unilateral fashion.  He decided that success was more likely if the team wore a predominantly red strip – no matter that they’d always been associated with blue – the nickname “Bluebirds” is a relevant clue here.  Tan also displayed his phenomenal knowledge of the sport by openly questioning the goalkeeper’s scoring record – presumably the club’s football professionals were too polite or intimidated to laugh in his face.

But then Tan surpassed himself.  With Cardiff relatively comfortably placed in the Premier League, and wins over the likes of eventual champions Manchester City behind them, Tan decided that the manager who had realised the top-flight dream – Malky Mackay – was not, after all, good enough. The owner therefore proceeded to undermine, belittle and unsettle his manager at every opportunity over a period of weeks.  Mackay was so clearly a dead man walking – so evidently doomed to lose his job – that obviously results began to suffer, and that early season work of consolidation began to unravel.

Eventually, the inevitable happened and Malky Mackay was out of a job. Some wise Championship club is going to get themselves a very good manager for zero compensation there (I wonder who it might be? Bleedin’ Norwich, probably). Tan, further exploiting his vast oceans of football knowledge, recruited Ole Gunnar Solskjær, who had known success in the Norwegian League, but who looked from the off like a rabbit caught in the headlights in the pitiless environment of the Premier League.  Before too long under Solskjær’s inexperienced guidance, Cardiff were obviously doomed to go down.  Defeat followed defeat, and Solskjær looked more clueless with every setback.  The end, when it came, was no surprise to anyone who knew anything about football, and therefore probably an earth-shattering shock to the deluded and massively ignorant Vincent Tan.

What can most certainly be said about Cardiff’s relegation is that it is definitely A Good Thing. Not because it will discourage the incompetent likes of Tan from presuming that they know best, all the time, about everything – but because, if results had picked up after Mackay’s sacking, and Cardiff had somehow survived, this might have seemed to stand as a vindication of Tan’s ridiculous and bizarre methods – and that, whatever wounded Cardiff City supporters might currently be feeling, would not be good for the game.

The whole episode cries out for some protection of professional football men against the crazy whims of crass amateurs – although it’s highly doubtful that anything will happen, due to the inertia and complacency that characterises both the Football Association and the Football League.  So Tan will presumably carry on in his own sweet way – and the rest of the game can only hope that real football people will avoid his club as they might a bad smell.

We welcome Cardiff City back to the Championship, and we look forward to our games against them.  Leeds United’s recent record in those games is not particularly good – but perhaps there is less need to worry these days. It’s quite probable that, even now, Tan is looking for the most prolific goalscorer he can afford – and that we will see that bewildered young man in goal for the Bluebirds when we host them at Elland Road.

Let’s just hope it’s not Ross McCormack.