Tag Archives: Press

Leeds Owner Cellino Says Reports He’s Crooked Are a Non-Story – by Rob Atkinson

CellinoLiar

Massimo Cellino – as straight as a corkscrew?

In a terse statement after it was put to Mr. Cellino that sources are claiming he’s about as straight as a sidewinder’s backbone, the maverick Italian confirmed: “This is a complete non-story. There is nothing of any interest here whatsoever. It should be ignored, and people should be looking for real news. This paper, it says I am not an honest man, it says I lie, I cheat, I break the rules. All of this is common knowledge, my friend. Is a complete non-story, move on!”

Meanwhile, members of the online group In Massimo We Trust (motto “Gullibility We Goddit”) are being contacted by countless Nigerian businessmen offering to make them rich if they will just divulge their bank details. Asked why the group retains any faith at all in Mr. Cellino, their spokesman would only say “You shunt of asked me that”, before issuing tearful threats and then blustering a bit before going home crying.

Massimo Cellino’s official honesty rating is a worryingly low 17% – despite a recent on-field purple patch for his club Leeds United.

 

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Leeds Coach Rosler Receives the Dreaded Vote of Confidence   –   by Rob Atkinson

 
Down the years and decades of football history, certain conventions have come to assume the status of indisputable pearls of wisdom – some positive and others less so. Just before half-time is “a good time to score”, for instance. No intelligence is available about what might be a bad time to get a goal. Or there’s the one about the crowd on the Anfield Kop being worth a goal to Liverpool (usually a dodgy penalty). Such clichés can sometimes be viewed with some scorn, but the reason they attain cliché status in the first place  is usually because they have a certain ring of truth.

One of the most chilling football clichés of all is the one about “the Chairman’s vote of confidence” with its grim connotations of imminent termination. The general assumption, once one of these death-knell pronouncements has been made, is that the unhappy recipient of what is presumably intended to be interpreted as reassurance, now has nothing to look forward to but the sombre sound of his P45 hitting the doormat.

The hapless manager, then, hearing his ultimate boss telling everybody how happy he is with the job being done, reacts with neither happy smile nor that joyful serenity of spirit with which we would see all our efforts blessed. Rather, his brow is bespangled with cold beads of sweat; his Adam’s apple bobs up and down nervously, he quakes inwardly. He knows the subtext of the vote of confidence; he knows that he’s most likely a dead manager walking. All that remains, he fears, is the formality of the axe falling – and the ceremonial clearing of the desk.

Sadly for Uwe Rösler, this particular cliché is not peculiar to the English game. If it were, he could perhaps reassure himself that a German has nothing to fear from an Italian vote of confidence, or voto di fiducia, such as our Head Coach has received only today from Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino. Italians, Uwe might muse, optimistically, tend to go about these things rather more graphically; the prospect of waking up next to a horse’s severed head would perhaps be more like it. And, after all, Cellino was all Latin charm and affability as he delivered his ringing endorsement of Rösler’s stewardship. Nothing sinister there, surely. 

But, as Shakespeare warned us, a man can smile, and smile, and be a villain. Rösler would not be the first Head Coach to bask in the warm glow of what sounds like approbation from Cellino, only to discover shortly afterwards the metaphorical stiletto knife jutting out from between his shoulder blades. Several Leeds coaches have been thus dispatched in the Italian’s short reign at Elland Road – and he has form for such very mixed signals going back considerably further in his maverick career.

Are Rösler’s Leeds days, then, already numbered? It’s a debatable question and, sad to say, debate is pretty much all we have – in the absence of any real reliability where the soundbites coming from United are concerned. Rösler says he picks the team with no interference from above. Perhaps he does. Who knows? Cellino says he’ll give his man time and that he likes him. He’s said similar things before. Perhaps he means it this time. Who knows? All we humble fans can do is speculate, with the lessons of history our most reliable guide.

Sometimes it must occur to Leeds fans that it might be restfully nice to support some humdrum, boring club, where nothing much ever happens. Barnsley, perhaps, or even Spurs. The roller-coaster at United is so very much of a rocky ride that it’s difficult truly to appreciate such highs as we ever get, knowing – really knowing – that there’s an inevitable plunge back into the depths to follow. That’s not good for the digestion, never mind your heart or your peace of mind. But this is the club we love and, right now, it’s not exactly in the steadiest of hands. 

However this season is panning out, whatever the shortcomings of the team – or of the club’s approach to its playing staff’s contractual issues, come to that – we must surely yearn for some semblance of stability and continuity, to see us through to calmer waters. We must hope against hope that, for once, and against the notorious track record of Signor Cellino, the dread “vote of confidence” will turn out to be exactly what it says on the tin, instead of some veiled death warrant as per that hackneyed cliché. The very last thing we need right now is yet more turmoil at a club which sometimes seems to have the monopoly on it. 

So, yes Massimo. Uwe is a good professional and he’s doing the best job we can expect, given financial and other restraints. We’re glad to hear you think so too. So let’s take that as read, then, shall we? Perhaps – just perhaps – you can now let the guy get on with his job, and stop feeding the press so many quotes that might be helpful to that dubious fraternity – but really don’t do our football club many favours at all. Let’s have some peace, quiet and progress – just as if we were a normal football club. After all, we appear to be stuck with you – just as you are stuck with us, the more cynical and watchful end of football’s most fanatical and stroppy supporter base.

Seriously – can we just move on now, and forget any more votes of confidence, or whatever other football clichés? Thanks, Mr. Cellino.

Angry Leeds Fans in Protest at F.L. HQ, Preston TOMORROW – by Rob Atkinson

The Football League: rubber-stamped as corrupt

The Football League: rubber-stamped as corrupt (and incompetent)

The Football League Operations Centre at Edward VII Quay, Navigation Way, Preston PR2 2YF will be the scene of peaceful protest tomorrow, as Leeds United fans turn up in force to hold the League to account for their callous and ignorant treatment of its biggest and most famous member club. The local police are fully aware of the planned protest and have liaised with the organisers to ensure a smooth and peaceful event, between 10:00 and noon on the day.

There is no need to go over the fine details of the League’s mistreatment of Leeds United here. It’s all been well-documented enough – and the League in its complacency has taken not a blind bit of notice despite all the articles, arguments and logic placed before it. Serenely ignorant, they have blundered on, determined to act in the worst interests of United, flying in the face of their own guiding principles. It is time, therefore, to turn up in numbers and to make some noise. We must devoutly hope that the media will take an interest so that, perhaps, a few ripples may spread further afield. This blog understands that BBC Look North are interested in the event – again, let us hope so.

The other purpose of the protest event is officially to present to the FL a printout of the Change.org petition (publicised on this blog a number of times in the past few weeks). This petition has now broken the 20,000 barrier. That’s not so far off an average home attendance for Leeds in these parlous days; pretty good going for a campaign that is largely confined to online media and will therefore not have reached the ears of many less tech-minded Leeds fans.

The protest in Preston is the culmination of months, years, decades of shoddy treatment of our club Leeds United at the hands of the League. Finally, we have the opportunity to be heard.

Support the petition. Support the protest. Make your voice heard. We may never get another chance as good as this.

The LUFC Prophet on “Why Moyes Never Stood a Chance at Man U” – by Rob Atkinson

Ta Ta, Taggart

Ta Ta, Taggart

As a Leeds United fan, I don’t get many chances to say “I told you so”.  I’ve made two football bets recently, and I’ve paid out twice – a fiver to a Newcastle fan who told me to my disbelief they’d lose at home to some Premier League no-hopers (and they did), and a bar of Dairy Milk chocolate to my Barnsley-supporting postman who bet me we’d beat them at Oakwell. I didn’t mind paying out on that one.  My only chance of coming out ahead now rests on a tenner I have with a mate which says Arsenal will win the Cup.  Fingers crossed…

But in matters Man U, I was a prophet of peerless foresight as long ago as July last year – when I forecast that David Moyes was doomed to failure at the Theatre of Hollow Myths.  I reasoned that the brooding presence of eminence grise (avec le nez pourpre) Alex Ferguson would do Moyes no good as he sought to make his own influence the guiding light at the Pride of Devon.  I figured that he would be hampered by the proximity of the ex-boss – just as happened before, 40-odd years ago, when Busby stepped down but refused to go away.

Well, I did tell you so – and lo, it has come to pass.  Whatever now happens to the fallen champions-turned-also-rans, it should be noted that some of us out here saw months ago that there’d be tears before bedtime round Salford way. I might be accused (accurately) of wishful thinking – but the logic behind my prediction has, I feel, been shown to be impeccable.  Below is what I wrote on July 7th, 2013 as Moyes was setting out his stall as Man U manager.  I will not gloat over his downfall – but the fact that he has brought the club I detest down with him is extremely amusing and satisfactory.

-o0o-

There are worrying signs already for the inheritor of the poisoned chalice that is the Old Trafford hot-seat.  David Moyes has been gathering his own people about him as he sets forth to put his own stamp on the Man U machine – but Moyes will be grimly aware that The Ghost of Alex Ferguson Past is the least of his worries.  The man himself will be there all too often, all too real and large as life, in the flesh and walking the corridors of power down Trafford way.  It’s the presence of the former boss that is likely to make an already difficult task that bit less easy for the 50 year old heir to the throne.  If you know your history, you’ll be aware that Wilf McGuinness, the successor to Matt Busby, had to go about his work with the Busby factor still about the place, the old man still visible backstage, the players saying “Morning, Wilf” to McGuinness – but “Morning, Boss” to Busby.  He didn’t last long before the sainted Matt was back to try and steady a sinking ship. His successor, Frank O’Farrell, didn’t do much better.

You might hope, for Moyes’ sake, that Ferguson will have the forbearance to stay away from the training ground and the stadium when the day-to-day business of running the club and the team is going on.  Perhaps he will, but media pressure is already a clear and present danger for Fergie’s successor. The press don’t want to let Fergie go; he’s been a rich source of copy for them for so many years that many hacks who have covered all matters Man U can hardly remember a time when he wasn’t there – and they want to stay snug in their Fergie comfort zone, with their cosy old stand-bys of the hair-dryer and the stop-watch.

The signs were there even at Wimbledon this past week.  Fergie took his place in the Centre Court dignitaries’ enclosure to support his compatriot Murray, and the commentary box fizzed in a fever of ecstasy as that familiar purple face gazed o’er the scene.  The cameras lingered lovingly on those craggy, ravaged features and many were the cutaway shots of Fergie’s reactions as Murray laboured to his victory.  Afterwards, the desperation to lever S’ralex into the post-match interview was as cringingly embarrassing for the viewer as it was perplexing for Murray, who perhaps naively expected tennis questions.

The message was resoundingly clear: Fergie is still The Man as far as the press are concerned.  Reports of Moyes’ early press conference at Old Trafford leaned heavily upon comments such as “Fergie would have approved of Moyes’ flash of temper”, “Moyes displayed a Fergie-like tenacity” and so on and so forth.  There are clear indications that every word Moyes utters, every decision he takes, will be viewed in the light of “what S’ralex would have said/done” – and clearly, this is bad news for anyone wanting to to make the job his own and do it his own way.

It might even be interesting to speculate on whether Moyes would perhaps quite like to be portrayed in a different light to that which has shone on the Man U manager this past 27 years.  Moyes seems a sensible and modest chap after all, any similarity to his predecessor appearing limited to the accent and the obsession with the game.  A departure from the arrogance and overbearing nature that has characterised the club during Fergie’s reign might be welcome to such a relatively pleasant bloke, but it appears unlikely to be allowed judging by the tone of some of the press quotes from this preparatory phase of the season.

We are given to understand, for instance, that late last season Moyes was honoured with a personal visit to his home from The Fergie Himself.  “I thought he’d come to tell me he was taking one of my players”, said the ex-Goodison boss, to an unheard and incredulous chorus of “What the hell…?” from Evertonians everywhere.  So this is how the Old Trafford club have been used to operating in the transfer market?  Hmmmm.  But instead of airily notifying a “lesser club” of an impending transfer swoop, Fergie was there to tell Moyes he was the next Man U boss.  Not ask, tell.  Moyes’ eager compliance was taken as read.  The Man U brand of arrogance, it seems, will take more than a change of manager to eradicate.

I’m not particularly worried about the prospect of Man U being less successful in the next few years, and of some of their legions of fans being seduced to supporting clubs closer to home, such as Torquay or Spurs or Nagoya Grampus Eight.  I’d be quite happy with that; I have no love of the Trafford-based franchise or the way it operates.  But I am slightly concerned for Moyes himself, who seems a decent cove, and who I can see going the same way as McGuinness went; a proper football man crushed by the weight of recent history and cowed by the long shadow of his immediate predecessor.  For Moyes’ sake, I hope that doesn’t come about, but all the signs are already there that it might.  Only Fergie himself can decide to remain in the background, the media are far too much in love with the myth they have created to let him go easily.

Perhaps, though, Fergie will actually do the decent thing?  I somehow doubt it.

Widespread Disgust as the Coalition and Press Lurch Further Down the Path of Herr Doktor Goebbels

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The not-so-good Doktor

For some time now a lot of us out here in Leftie-Land have been worrying out loud, and in print, at the direction this Coalition Government are taking. We have concerns over their policies and the way they’re being presented; we have concerns over their rhetoric, directed invariably at sections of society against whom they wish to justify savage cuts; we have concerns about the very language they use, language calculated to stir up hatred in the less intellectually-acute of their supporters, terms such as “shirkers”, “malingerers” and “something-for-nothing culture”. I’ve written myself about the transparent desire on the part of Cameron, Gideon Osborne and their colleagues to divide and rule, and the way in which they’ve spread malicious falsehoods about the targets of their policies, lies that have been eagerly taken up and spread far and wide by the right wing coterie in the Press. I compared the phenomenon of their wilful deceit to the “Big Lie” technique employed by Josef Goebbels for the embryonic Nazi party in the late 20’s and early 30’s. Basically, if you repeat a lie often enough – and the bigger the lie, the better – it will seep into the public consciousness and be accepted. I feel that the Government’s endorsement of this tactic is the fair and obvious conclusion to draw from the way they have relentlessly sought to paint the poor and helpless as a malign, self-seeking and parasitical section of society.

The turn of events this week, though, has taken even the most cynical and suspicious of us by surprise. In a shocking and rather sinister plunge towards the gutter-end of their ideology, the Government and certain sections of the press have decided to use a criminal case which concerns the unlawful killing of six young children as material for a further attack on their hated and hapless targets at the bottom of the economic pile. In the wake of the conviction of Mick Philpott and his accomplices for the manslaughter of six out of seventeen children, the lamentable Mail has – without allowing a decent interval to elapse, indeed hardly pausing to draw breath – launched a bitter front-page broadside against a welfare state which, it astonishingly contended, was at the root of the whole Philpott tragedy. This blatant tarring of all benefit claimants with the brush of a sociopath/psychopath like Philpott predictably and quite rightly brought vilification from proper newspapers and media outlets alike. Scandalous, opportunistic, tasteless, vile, they screamed, accusing a bang-to-rights Mail of making cheap political capital out of the deaths of innocents. Quite so.

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Silly Gideon

But then, whose trotters did we hear, galloping over the horizon as he raced to dump his porcine carcass on this timely bandwagon? None other than Gideon Osborne; failed Chancellor, shameless blagger of disabled parking spaces and determined first-class rail traveller (albeit with only a standard-class ticket.) Such is the measure of this vapid man; his brainless arrogance leads him to believe that what he wishes will naturally come to pass, that ordinary conventions are for ordinary people and not for such bright shining stars as Gideon. Now he could hardly wait to endorse the Mail’s bile-ridden outburst in his haste to appeal to little Hitlers everywhere and further perpetuate – indeed enlarge – The Big Lie. He was swiftly backed by his boss, Cameron, a beleaguered PM whose eggs are now clearly all in one basket. Shocked and horrified, the rest of us were left gaping at the sheer, malevolent viciousness of it; the appalling timing, the unwarranted slur on people who wouldn’t dream of harming a fly, the public-school adolescent nastiness of it. What to do?

Well, some thought they might try a little satire laced with logic, a standard procedure for putting in their place those of arrogant stupidity. By your own arguments, it was forcibly and eruditely pointed out to the Gruesome Twosome, the crimes of Peter Sutcliffe could be laid at the door of the Road Haulage Association; those of Harold Shipman at the feet of the NHS and provincial medical practices everywhere; while the evil-doings of Fred West are to be blamed on private enterprise and aspirational construction workers throughout the land. The effect of all this admirable logic? Negligible at best. Those who are currently on the attack and have the poor, disabled and vulnerable in their sights are in talk mode, with a view to draconian action. They are not for listening. And readers of the Sun and the Mail are likely to listen, sadly enough, only to other such readers – or perhaps to like-minded know-it-alls down the pub.

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The Offensive Daily Fail

In the absence of many other practical options, I’ve made my views known to the Press Complaints Commission. I’m not exactly holding my breath for a positive response though, as high-ups at the Mail are also influential in the PCC, so it’s a little bit like complaining to your mother-in-law about your wife’s nagging. But something clearly has to be done; this is not the kind of “politics” that can be taken lying down. The utter, untimely viciousness of it, as well as the blatant opportunism, leaves a rancid taste in the mouth. It’s easy to forget in these alarming times that this is a coalition we have in charge, with – supposedly – a restraining, moderating influence ready built-in as it were. The shocking lack of balls displayed by the Liberals in matters like this and many others will — if there’s any justice* — contribute to their deserved annihilation at the next election. But that’s not going to come soon enough to protect this country from a Tory Party that seems to be diseased at the very top, intoxicated with the sickness of megalomania and determined to visit their own brand of evil on their own chosen targets.

The spirit of Josef Goebbels is alive and well in the corridors of Tory High Command as well as in the editorial offices of our less salubrious newspapers. Those of us with opposing views – those who are resolved to speak out for the helpless and vulnerable – had better make sure we speak loudly and constructively enough to be heard over the brazenly unashamed rhetoric pouring like so much liquid sewage from the lips of Osborne and Cameron. If we don’t, we’ll simply be begging for more of the same, and worse.

*There isn’t; so don’t hold your breath there, either.