Tag Archives: QPR

Leeds United End of Term Report: Disappointing, Must do Better – by Rob Atkinson

Wheels fell off at Millwall away

Millwall away – where United’s wheels fell off

Watching Leeds United struggle vainly to perform as you’d expect a big club to do, challenging for honours, winning promotions and all that sort of thing, may quite aptly be compared to banging your head against a brick wall. There’s no sense to it, there’s plenty of pain involved for no gain, and it’s really quite pleasant when it stops. We’re at that stage of blissful hiatus now, with the final whistle having blown on United’s season last Sunday, the main reaction from another bumper crowd at Elland Road being sighs of relief rather than triumphal acclaim.

Fellow under-achievers Queens Park Rangers had rolled up for this last-day clash of mediocrities; as it turned out though, the Londoners didn’t really fancy the prospect of a battle in the heat. So, it was a routine win for United against desultory opposition and, other than some typically promising performances from Leeds’ younger guns, none of us were left any the wiser. But at least the tiresome league programme was over for a couple of months; now for the interesting part of the football calendar, with the World Cup and a transfer window in the offing. There’s also the daft post-season business in Myanmar, but that may usefully be ignored.

The trouble is that transfer window time of year is fast becoming nearly as disappointing for long-suffering Leeds fans as the actual football spectacle, such as it may be. And the reason is that United are competing in an inflated transfer market, against smaller but arguably more ambitious clubs – and they’re denying themselves the chance of being truly competitive at the top end by what is increasingly being exposed as a short-sighted and self-defeating wages policy.

Just as the season recently expired was getting underway, back in August of last year, I wrote an article here entitled The Reason Leeds United Can’t Have Nice Things? Wage Structure. I argued that this ‘hands tied behind the back’ policy of severely capped wages was stopping us from recruiting as we should do, and also from hanging on to the few diamonds we’d managed to polish up. This was just as Chris Wood, the scorer of thirty-odd goals the year before, was being sold to Premier League Burnley, a smaller club that could at least triple Wood’s earnings. I predicted doom and gloom but, for a time at least, it looked as though I was going to be delightfully wrong.

Despite the departure of Wood, who duly followed Charlie Taylor to Dingle-Land, United started the season like a runaway train, barrelling to the top of the league with a flurry of victories, including notable two goal successes at Sunderland and Nottingham Forest. This left me feeling a strange combination of unusually happy and rather daft, due to my seemingly unwarranted pessimism. But then the wheels fell off, at Millwall of all places, and the Whites were never quite the same again. The rest of the season was, quite frankly, a disaster interspersed with the odd calamity, as Leeds at first flattered to deceive, but ended up deceiving nobody. A managerial change and a better than expected January transfer window failed to bring about the necessary transformation, and United’s campaign drifted to a deeply unsatisfactory conclusion.

So, can we now expect a more enlightened wage structure, as befitting one of the game’s true giants? The jury is out, but it’s not counting its chickens as it ponders that vexed question. Leeds, however, must surely know that they can’t expect the extraordinary loyalty of their fans to be maintained without some encouragement in the shape of ambition in the transfer market. To average over 30,000 paying premium prices in such a let-down of a season is truly extraordinary – but will they all be back next season?

Champions Wolves have shown the way: speculate to accumulate. United – it’s over to you.

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Leeds Boss Christiansen Delighted to See Man Utd Lose to City – by Rob Atkinson

TC

TC: they say I’m a WHAT??

I despair at the world of Twitter sometimes, particularly as it relates to Leeds United. Lately, after every game, or so it seems, win lose or draw, there’s some Twitter-generated “news” article based on the random tweets of various Leeds fans. These are small pearls of unwisdom, giving opinions of varying degrees of cluelessness about the performance of this or that player. Invariably, the articles will be headlined by quotes such as “He’s not good enough for the shirt” or “the worst I’ve ever seen”, the aim being to inveigle the unwary into reading a bunch of uninformed and barely coherent opinions that make about as much sense as a post-match interview with Jose Mourinho. Often, it’s clear that there’s a deliberate attempt to whip up controversy, simply to generate hits. It’s unedifying stuff, a storm of white noise that tends to obliterate any real news or sensible opinion.

The latest such storm in a teacup concerned Leeds boss Thomas Christiansen, who – according to some of the more hard-of-thinking Leeds Twitterati anyway – committed a cardinal sin in being pictured at Old Trafford after the Manchester derby. Some mischievous Pride of Devon fan, seeking to assuage the pain of a defeat by Manchester’s number one club, captioned a picture with a hint that Thomas was an aficionado of the Dark Side and, true to form, the dimmer Leeds fans on Twitter fell for it, hook, line and sinker.

The responses from these dullards were amusingly over the top, and what was clearly the mother of all non-stories seemed likely to gain undeserved notoriety. Until, that is, Christiansen himself, backed up by United owner Andrea Radrizzani, set the record straight, pointing out that his sympathies in the derby match were with the blue side of Manchester and that he’d been delighted by the result. Finishing off an explanation that he should never have had to make, Thomas stated “I used to play at Barça with Pep and we very much enjoyed the result! However, I’m Leeds!” and the hashtag for All Leeds Aren’t We.

Christiansen has since revealed that he was surprised his trip to the biggest game of the day should have aroused such controversy – which is the bemusement a professional feels when confronted with the mass hysteria and lack of any joined-up thinking that characterises so much of the Twitter output of any major club, especially – or so it would seem – Leeds United. A typically brainless comment from one Leeds fan, who sent a picture of Christiansen outside Old Trafford to both the owner and the manager, was “This is an absolute disgrace! TC has crossed a line you should never cross. We won’t forgive him for this ever. Absolute s**t house!” I leave you, gentle reader, to judge the level of idiocy inherent in that particular tweet.

Of course, it harks back to the faux outrage, designed to draw attention to the tweeter and show what a great fan they are (if ever so slightly demented), that we got in the wake of the Alan Smith transfer from us to them. It’s attention-seeking stuff, and you have to hope that the people responsible are actually able to think more clearly than they tweet. But that’s the problem with Twitter – it allows people who should really go through life with large socks in their mouths to announce their flawed opinions to the world via the LUFC hashtag.

Twitter is what it is, I suppose. It serves a purpose, but it’s open to abuse – and certain “news sources” should really know better than to quote it so often, given the appalling lack of thought that goes into the majority of tweets. A lot of it is knee-jerk stuff and a lot more is from the “look at me, aren’t I controversial” brigade. Neither faction adds much if anything to the Leeds United debate, yet both are given undue prominence by media outlets desperate for clicks. It’s so depressing.

What we should do, of course, is celebrate results like the QPR one and accentuate the positives – instead of looking for random rubbish to be seen to be outraged about or to use as a stick for battering the manager. But that’s probably asking too much from the more useless tweeters themselves, and even from supposedly sober journalists who choose to use such virtual detritus as the basis for yet another pointless article.

Well done to Thomas Christiansen, who maintained a half-amused, half-incredulous dignity in rubbishing the claims of a few half-baked idiots who fell for a Man Utd jape. The sad thing is, he’ll most likely have to take time out to do this all over again, the next time some wally fancies having a pop just to try to make a name for himself. Perhaps though – just perhaps – Thomas could just be left in peace to get on with his job?

Fat chance.

Mixed Start to the Season for Leeds as Defensive Woes Cost Dear – by Rob Atkinson

Antonsson

Whichever way you look at it – and there are a few differing options – Leeds United‘s season has started rather worryingly. A lack of truly meaningful match practice pre-season, combined with the loss of midfield starlet Lewis Cook, saw the Whites starting the campaign with huge question marks looming over their prospects for success.

True, some real promise has been recruited, in particular the exciting potential of former Oxford hotshot Kemar Roofe. But the sale of Cook to AFC Bournemouth leaves a gap that has not yet been filled. In defence, too, things look less than settled. Kyle Bartley has been recruited from manager Garry Monk’s old club Swansea, but Sol Bamba remains club captain despite some deeply ordinary form. And another young star in left-back Charlie Taylor has apparently expressed a desire to leave. It’s really difficult to describe the net effect of Leeds’ transfer business (so far) as positive.

And then, when the talking had to stop and the football began for real, came a performance at QPR in the season opener that was by turns pallid and chaotic. Comical defending cost United a goal after just four minutes, and it was largely downhill from there. By the time Tjaronn Chery cracked home the Rangers clincher from an acute angle in the closing stages, Leeds were a very well-beaten team.

On the optimistic side, all three of the Championship’s supposed big guns lost away from home on that opening day. Newcastle and Aston Villa joined Leeds in defeat, and likewise failed to trouble the scorers. But the Toon and the Villans were both edged out only 0-1; a rather better showing than United’s 0-3 tonking at Loftus Road.

Still, as things stand, we’ve only lost once all season and we’re just three points off the top. In spite of what the readers of this blog might think from some of the stuff I write, it is important to take a glass half-full view as a Leeds fan, knowing as we do that only relentless optimism is likely to save us from despair. And, still looking on that bright side, even after losing first time up – perhaps we could now make early progress in the EFL Cup on Wednesday at Fleetwood, and banish the memories of the thrashing QPR had handed out. That would be quite sweet, actually, particularly as ALL of Yorkshire’s other sides had surrendered meekly the night before, going out of the Cup along with several high-profile Championship casualties.

In the event, Leeds did manage to progress as Yorkshire’s sole representatives. It has to be said, though, they were more than a little fortunate against a Fleetwood side that was a goal to the good early on, and held that advantage until the last minute of normal time. But then new signing Marcus Antonsson, a Swedish striker of whom much is expected, produced a brilliant turn and shot to level for Leeds at the last gasp. And it was substitute Antonsson who was then fouled in the box early in extra time to give the hitherto ineffective Chris Wood the chance to make it 2-1 from the spot. It remained only for Leeds to chuck away their hard-won advantage in typical fashion, allowing time and room for Fleetwood to fashion an equaliser – and we were facing the dreaded penalty shoot-out.

So it came to pass that veteran ‘keeper Rob Green, at fault for the first goal against QPR the previous weekend, went from zero to become the campaign’s first Leeds hero. After United had scored all of their penalties, Green produced a smart save off Fleetwood’s fifth and final spot kick – and Leeds were narrowly, edgily, through to the second round. Pride of Yorkshire? Most definitely!

Now we will meet Luton Town of League Two, 3-1 conquerors of once-mighty Aston Villa, at Kenilworth Road in Round Two. It’s a tie that will quite likely be televised and a very definite potential banana skin for Yorkshire’s most famous club. But if Leeds can negotiate that hurdle, and perhaps pick up a bit over the next few Championship matches, it may well be that we’ll look back on that Rob Green penalty shoot-out save and realise it was an early-season turning point.

Things can only get better, so they say. It’s a dangerous line to take where Leeds are concerned; they always seem to find new depths to plumb. But you never know. Maybe, after a slow start, and with a few more quality signings, we can pick up and embark on a successful season of real achievement. Maybe, even, we’ll beat the Blues tomorrow. Stranger things have happened, after all. Just ask Leicester City…

5 Facts About Sky’s Leeds Utd Hater Don Goodman Ahead of QPR Away   –   by Rob Atkinson

Saint Don Goodman the Blinkered

Saint Don Goodman the Blinkered

After a couple of hundred times since last season watching the highlights of Sky’s Huddersfield Town versus Leeds United coverage, mainly to enjoy the Whites’ 3-0 victory over and over again, but also in the spirit of earnest research, this blogger is now able to reveal five hitherto unknown facts about co-commentator Don Goodman, who is also, incidentally, due to provide his pearls of non-wisdom for today’s United fixture at QPR

  1. Don Goodman never made a cynical challenge in his life. We can clearly tell this from the contemptuous and disgusted tone of his voice in proclaiming the cynicism of Scott Wootton‘s challenge on Huddersfield’s Harry Bunn. Clearly, Mr. Goodman would never contemplate such a base action, preferring to stand aside politely applauding when beaten by an opponent.
  2. Similarly, Don Goodman has never ever complained about a bang to rights refereeing decision against him in the whole of his football career. This must be so, because he clearly stated “I really don’t know why players complain about receiving yellow cards when it’s that blatant.” Any other case would leave Goodman open to a charge of being a rank hypocrite.
  3. Goodman never, ever formed part of a group of players clustering around a referee in order to try and influence his decision. As he virtuously points out, “the referee doesn’t need that, he needs to decide for himself.” With such strongly-held convictions as these about the sanctity of match officials’ decision-making, it is blindingly obvious, save for the hypocrisy provision mentioned above, that Goodman could never have transgressed in such an unhelpful manner.
  4. The best way to shut Don Goodman up is undoubtedly for Leeds United to score a goal. From the time of Wootton’s unpunished second foul at Huddersfield, right up until Mirco Antenucci scored United’s opener, Goodman had been bemoaning the lack of a second yellow card and subsequent dismissal for United’s defender. When the ball hit the back of the net, though, Goodman lapsed into a stunned silence lasting a full 18.25 seconds, before glumly observing: “Football isn’t fair sometimes – life isn’t fair sometimes,” adding that “Huddersfield will feel absolutely fuming”.
  5. Don Goodman in the course of his playing career always, but always, took in good part any studs over the ball challenges against him, that he now tends to describe as bearing “no malice” – as well as any sly kicks to the back of the legs late in the game, which can, apparently, be put down to “frustration”. It would have been incongruous for him to have complained about such challenges on himself, given his airy dismissal of the fouls perpetrated on Leeds players by their Huddersfield opponents.

These five new and telling facts about Don Goodman might, perhaps, shed some light on what might otherwise be described as inconsistencies in his co-commentary performance. Whether anyone with Leeds United sympathies, or indeed anyone with a more general ability to distinguish the relative locations of arse and elbow, will be mollified by such revelations, has to be a moot point. 

It may in fact be that Leeds fans as well as other people of intellect and discernment would tend to dismiss the “facts” enumerated above, in favour of a more general principle, as follows:

Don Goodman, from Leeds but never good enough to play for United, is an embittered has-been who is all too happy to accept BSkyB’s coin along with the privilege of jumping on their rabidly anti-Leeds United bandwagon. 

On the whole, that really does seem rather more likely. And doubtless, we can expect more of Mr. Goodman’s unprofessional rubbish live and exclusive from Loftus Road in an hour or so.

Why Joey Barton Should Be Begging Leeds United to Sign Him – by Rob Atkinson

Barton doing what Barton does

Joey Barton doing what Joey Barton does

Mixed messages have been emerging from Elland Road over the past few days, leading up to and since the capture of Brentford winger Stuart Dallas. We’ve been told that Dallas is likely to be the end of any significant incoming business for Leeds United; but we’ve also heard from Adam Pearson that il Duce Massimo Cellino is prepared to sanction one, or possibly two more signings. This has naturally set tongues wagging and keyboards rattling as the Whites cognoscenti speculate on who else might yet arrive down LS11 way.

One name that refuses to go away is that of perennial bad boy Joey Barton, formally of QPR, Manchester City, Newcastle United, Olympique de Marseille and, for all we know, Borstal FC. Barton has had what might charitably be termed a troubled past. He’s proved himself on many an occasion not to be above a little thuggery, in much the same way that the sea is not above the clouds. Without doubt, he’s courted controversy and a certain measure of revulsion in those who believe that the beautiful game should be played beautifully or not at all. But there’s more to Barton than mindless violence and, undeniably, he’s a class above the vast majority of Championship midfielders in terms of pure football ability.

The pros and cons of Joey Barton are sharply delineated – he’s almost all black and white with very few shades of grey. On the negative side is the lack of discipline that has seen him on a porridge diet in his time, with several occasions on which he’s been bang to rights when put to trial by TV. Then again, Duncan Ferguson never let a spell in Barlinnie prevent him from becoming a legend in the game – something that, for all his notoriety, Barton has thus far signally failed to accomplish.

Still on the negative side, there’s Barton’s accustomed wage level. His habitual demands would see him fit into the Leeds United wage structure much as a quart fits into a pint pot. So, on the face of it, both his “attitude problem” (for want of a better phrase), and his affordability would seem to mitigate against him as a likely target for Yorkshire’s top club. But neither of these factors should necessarily prevent Barton from turning out in a Leeds United shirt.

The thing is, Joey is 32 now, with a senior career and earnings history going back 13 years. He will not be short of a bob or two – neither, surely, is he completely incapable of learning by experience when it comes to curbing that nasty temper. And on the plus side – the lad can play, far better than most of the opposition he’d meet in this league.

Looking for similar examples of players who might normally be expected to be both too expensive and too risky discipline-wise, the name of El Hadji Diouf springs irresistibly to mind. Diouf was the least likely of Elland Road recruits, having been a top-earner and a serial practitioner of some of football’s nastier tricks. But he duly came to Leeds, accepted relative peanuts in remuneration, cleaned up his act enough for his manager Warnock publicly to regret having compared him unfavourably to a sewer rat – and he made a moderate success of things in a team consisting mainly of players several classes of ability below him. Whether that’s enough of a precedent for us to be optimistic of seeing Barton in a Leeds United shirt is open to some doubt. But there’s one man who should be moving heaven and earth to make this happen – and that man is Joey Barton himself.

The fact of the matter is that Barton has possibly one shot left at writing himself indelibly into the pages of football history. He may or may not care about doing this – but any footballer worth his salt wants, ideally, to be regarded as a legend. And that, even today, is the opportunity afforded to the right calibre of player by Leeds United FC. After well over a decade in the shadows, and having plumbed hitherto unheard-of depths by sinking as low as the third tier, Leeds remains a giant of the game. The Elland Road club is, in fact, the last giant ever born – clubs have come to the fore since United did in the sixties, but not to such devastating effect and not for so long; certainly not to attain the rank of a footballing behemoth, as Leeds did from nowhere under the legendary, incomparable Don Revie.

In the late eighties and early nineties, Leeds United conferred legend status on characters as diametrically different from each other as Vinnie Jones and Gordon Strachan. That’s what being instrumental in revival and success for Leeds does for a player. And that’s what it could do, even at this late stage, for Joey Barton. As his career draws to a close, as he contemplates life after football and his descent into obscurity, that’s something that Mr. Barton should be thinking about extremely seriously. You’re a long time retired, after all.

It may well be that very nearly all of the Leeds transfer business is complete, after all. And if we do recruit more bodies, they’d more than likely be cover out wide and in central defence. But the need is still there for some versatile, commanding presence in midfield, too. And, sadly, the Vinnies and the Strachans are precious thin on the ground these days.

If Joey Barton had the sense he was born with – another conundrum not easily answered – he’d be prepared to walk barefoot over broken glass to Elland Road, there humbly to seek audience of Messrs. Cellino and Pearson (and maybe the physio team too, after miles barefoot over broken glass). He should be literally begging for the chance to play for Leeds, for his last shot at legend status. He should be promising to clean up his act and to become a role model for the youngsters and a hero to the fans. He should do all of this for the return of a reasonable pay-to-play deal, as befits an extremely wealthy man who has naught to lose, much to make up for – and a lasting reputation in football to gain.

Joey Barton – do you want to be a legend? Come to Leeds United, then… and, if you play your cards right, we might just arrange it for you.

Derby Back at Elland Road Next Season After QPR Sucker Punch – by Rob Atkinson

Derby 0, QPR 1    HA!!!

Derby 0, QPR 1 HA!!!

When it happened, it was as unexpected as it was funny.  Unexpected, because Derby had utterly dominated the play-off final at Wembley – even before QPR had Gary O’Neil sent off for a professional foul.  And funny, because – well, because it was Derby, one of those daft little Midlands teams that gets all excited and wets itself every time it has a result against our beloved Whites.  Derby had been on a long run of success against Leeds, and their fans grew cockier and more annoying with each one.  Now, they were sat in their devastated rows at Wembley as Bobby Zamora pounced in the last minute to snatch their dream away.  Some were open-mouthed with horror, some were angry, some were crying.  One kid was actually having a tantrum directly into his mother’s bosom.  It was richly comic and I enjoyed it very much.

So much for Derby – we’ll see them again next season when we’ll have two more chances to break a barren spell that’s gone on far too long against what used to be the ultimate rabbit team for Leeds United.  For QPR, today’s somewhat fortunate result might just have saved their profligate skins, as dire fiscal consequences were threatened over their breaching of FFP limits.  Even in the Premier League with all those Murdoch millions being flung in their direction, it may well be that the suits will be after them – with a view to clipping their financial wings to such an extent as to see them return quickly whence they came.  We’ll have to wait and see on that one.

For Leeds United though, this play-off result means more than mere malicious amusement.  It signifies that next season’s League line-up is almost complete; only one Championship spot remains to be filled.  We’ve now said goodbye to Leicester, Burnley, QPR, Barnsley (arf), Doncaster (arf) and Yeovil.  We will be hosting Cardiff (snigger), Norwich (snigger), Fulham, Wolves, Brentford and one of either Rotherham or Leyton Orient. Personally, I hope it’s Rotherham to complete the picture – for all I’ve had to say about smaller Yorkshire teams and their Cup Final chips on the shoulder.  Having said good riddance to two such daft little clubs, it’d be churlish not to welcome one, just to redress the balance a little.

Some may feel that parts of this article are unfeeling and a little callous – taking pleasure in the discomfiture of others.  And they’d be right – but I will temper the effect a little by saying I hold no ill-will against any professionals who tried, failed and are now suffering at Wembley Stadium, or on their miserable way home.  I respect their efforts – and I felt for Keogh of Derby who was unlucky enough to have made the error that led to Zamora’s excellently-taken goal.  Still – that’s football, but it’s not for a fan to glory in the pain of professionals (unless they play for or manage Man U).

My satisfaction is in the woe of rival fans who have, in their turn, taken immense satisfaction from the suffering of Leeds fans in our various crises. It’s the nature of football support, tit for tat.  I make no apology for delighting in the sorrow of fans of Derby, Norwich, Doncaster, Cardiff – or any other clubs’ fans where they have had the cause and opportunity to crow at the troubles of my beloved Leeds United.  As I’ve said before, it’s OK to hate rival fans. Positively healthy, in fact. You reap what you sow and – tragic though it all might appear to the more soft-hearted among us – tough.

Roll on next season then, when it all starts all over again – and this time next year we’ll either be celebrating or gritting our teeth – and doubtless we’ll be laughing at the fate of a few old rivals.  It’s such a great game, football.

Financial Fair Play Rules Will Be Anything But Fair – by Rob Atkinson

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FFP – In aid of The Cartel

With the news that QPR are in line for a massive fine – reportedly a possible £62 million – for incurring heavy losses in their vain attempt to retain top-flight status, it’s time to pause, scratch our heads and reflect: just who ARE going to be the beneficiaries of the Financial Fair Play rules?

Firstly, what is “Fair Play”?  Doesn’t it imply a leveling of the playing field so that true competition might be a feature of our national game – instead of an all-powerful cartel at the top of the Premier League, carving up the goodies between them?  One of the worrying aspects of the Fair Play rules appears to be their scornful attitude to inward investment. Suddenly, this has become a grubby, slightly indecent concept, the clubs trying to invest their way towards parity with the Big Boys are looked upon as upstarts, unwelcome parvenus  The idea of slapping a massive fine on top of a big operating loss is likewise perplexing – somewhat akin to seeing a dangerous blaze which threatens loss of life and property, then trying to put it out by spraying petrol lavishly all over it.  We are in danger here of applying a cure that is worse than the disease.

As a Leeds fan, I suppose I should be leaning towards rules like this.  Leeds are a big club, and success would multiply their potential to succeed commercially by a factor of many. Presumably, this sort of self-generated wealth would meet with the approval of the minds behind Financial Fair Play – although, given the fact that it’s Leeds, we’re just as likely to get hit with a 15 point deduction.  But the whole thing stinks to me; I am cynical as to the thinking behind it – and even more so, I am cynical as to the interests of those who are behind the thinking.

Financial Fair Play appears to my non-financially-wired mind to want to put more power and financial muscle into the hands of those who already have the most power and financial muscle.  It will benefit, surely, those who have tapped successfully into vast overseas markets, those with massive supporter bases consisting of millions of people, most of whom will not necessarily have even visited the country wherein resides their team of choice.  The more tacky memorabilia and replica merchandise such a club can sell, to the biggest market possible, the more the new regime of Financial Fair Play will approve and enable that club.  Who on earth COULD they be thinking about here?

I’m even more worried, having heard about the bleak situation facing QPR, about the direction in which our game is heading.  It seems to be all about empowering the powerful, and rendering those who want to rise and compete incapable of doing just that. The legends that have been built up in the game over the past century or so are now in a position to benefit enormously from rules that reflect today’s “Devil take the hindmost” philosophy.  That might thrill the capitalist souls of many, but it doesn’t do much for the guy who likes the idea that, every now and again, some hitherto unregarded club will ascend through the levels and leave the Goliaths with a bloody nose. That sort of scenario, to me, is what sport is all about – and if you legislate against clubs trying to better themselves in what is increasingly a money-dominated game, then you’re cutting off a hell of a lot of the appeal of the game.

Or am I just being hopelessly naive?

Leeds’ First Defeat a Timely Reminder for Owners GFH Capital

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The first defeat of any season is always a bitter pill to swallow, and when that defeat ends a decent unbeaten run which had created a bit of a feelgood factor and some useful confidence, then the taste is all the sourer still. There can be little doubt that QPR deservedly edged the game at Elland Road – they came north with a game plan as they had done to Bolton’s Reebok Stadium, and they went away having done the job. Rangers had been rather unlucky to see Joey Barton’s first half goal disallowed for a clearly inappropriate offside flag, just as in the end they enjoyed some good luck when Rudy Austin’s fulminating howitzer hit the angle and bounced to safety. It was a game of fine margins, as reflected by the scoreline.

As depressing as a home defeat is, however, there can be long-term benefit if the lessons of that defeat are learned and acted upon. This match was under the Sky TV microscope, but it is an open secret that the Leeds United squad is defined more by the gaps in it than by the several excellent players it boasts for this level of football. Another striker is still needed, at least one winger is still needed. At the moment, there is a lot right with any team that Brian McDermott puts out, but the vital missing ingredients are making it very difficult for that team to be as effective as it needs to be in the attacking third of the field. Impotence in attack has its consequences further back; there is more pressure on ball retention in midfield because the options up front are not what they should be.

Brian McDermott is a downy bird, and he knows what is needed. It is the growing urgency of that need which, with the end of the transfer window looming ever closer, is giving cause for concern if not alarm. From the outside, we just have to take it on trust that work is going on behind the scenes to secure the additional players which are clearly needed in order to give Leeds a chance of sustaining some sort of competitiveness this season. If not, then it could just be a long and depressing struggle, despite the best efforts of a manager who has said all the right things and has also done so much that is right since coming to the club – as indeed have the new owners GFH-C.

Monday could be a very significant day in this season for Leeds United, and maybe even in their history as a whole. Getting the ingredients right is that important when you’re looking for the recipe for success. The QPR game has demonstrated very clearly for us just where the areas of need are – if we don’t secure some decent wide options, then surely we’ll be placing too much reliance on the likes of Diouf, who showed in his cameo performance that he’s currently far and away the best we have where quality service from the wing is concerned. After Diouf we have Ryan Hall, who still seems to be struggling to make a real impression at this level.

As is often said in too many American TV shows of a dubious standard: “OK. You got 48 hours”. That’s about the size of it for Leeds United right now, and the clock is running down. Tick tock.

The Greatest Goal I Ever Saw – Scored Against Leeds United

For any football fan asked to nominate a favourite goal, the prospect opens of a pleasurable half an hour recalling all those wonderful strikes down the years, mentally compiling a short-list, and then proudly revealing to the questioner that golden shot, header, volley or back-heel, possibly prefaced by the two runners-up in time-honoured reverse order. Bliss.

The challenge of naming the best goal ever scored against your favourites, however, is obviously not quite so enjoyable. Most of us like to think of ourselves as football purists, at least in a neutral sense, so that we can appreciate the beauty of a goal scored in a game not involving our club, even one by a despised rival. But a goal in your own team’s net is never completely free of attendant pain, and however wonderfully executed it might have been, you can’t actually enjoy it. You wince as it goes in, you home in on a possible offside flag, or any infraction of the rules that might lead to it being chalked off. When it counts, your mood sinks. You’re in no state to acknowledge the brilliance of it all. You just want your lot to set about redressing the balance.

But the fact remains; you will have seen many terrific goals scored against your own beloved side. You may possibly find that one amongst them tops even the best goal you can ever recall your lot scoring, though you will not, of course, admit that. As a Leeds United fan, I’d certainly never concede I’ve seen better opposition goals than Yeboah’s howitzers against Liverpool and Wimbledon, Strachan’s belter against Leicester, Currie’s banana shot against the Saints, Eddie Gray’s pleasure ride through the Burnley defence or any half-dozen you might care to name from Lorimer’s ferocious back catalogue.

Looked at without the partisan blinkers, though, my mind’s eye recalls some very memorable goals scored against Leeds, particularly at my end of Elland Road; the Gelderd End, or Kop. Jeremy Goss blasted home a fulminating volley for Norwich in 1993 that drew gasps of admiration. The crisply-struck blockbusters do tend to stick in the memory, and I’ve often complained that we seem to cop for more than our fair share of goal-of-the-season contenders that fly into our top corner, when they might so easily have zipped into the back row of the stand.

The one opposition goal that I’ll truly never forget, though, was in a category all of its own. In the early part of the 1990-91 season, Leeds had made a decent start to their first year back in the top flight since relegation in 1982. Consolidation of higher status was the name of the game, but United appeared to be capable of more, and would, in fact, achieve a top four finish as a prelude to actually winning the Title the following season. In these early days back in the big time, though, it was wonderful just to be there and holding our own. A visit from Queens Park Rangers wasn’t expected to present any real problems, and there was a relaxed and content air around Elland Road when Leeds moved into an early two goal lead.

Twinkle-Toes Wegerle

Twinkle-Toes Wegerle

Then, it happened, as it’s frankly happened too often in my time watching Leeds. We managed to salvage, from the jaws of victory, an unlikely 2-3 defeat. But one of those goals was scored by Roy Wegerle, South African-born U.S. international, now a golf pro, but then Leeds United’s latest nemesis. He picked the ball up wide on the right about halfway inside the Leeds half, executed a ridiculously mazy run on a by-no-means direct route to the edge of the area, during which he went past five Leeds players as if they just weren’t there, before shifting the ball finally onto his right foot and dispatching it past a flailing John Lukic. It was one of those moments when, despite your love of your own team, you just stopped for an instant, transfixed in wonder, before exclaiming “I say, what an absolute corker of a goal that was!”, or words to that effect.

It was a beautiful goal, a wondrous, marvellous gem of a goal. I’ll certainly never forget it, and seemingly new generations of QPR fans are always finding out about it, and wishing they could have seen it live. Well, I did see it, and although I may not have appreciated it at the time, it certainly gets my nomination for “best ever against Leeds”. I’m not alone in that, either – one other thing I recall from that day is the loud and generous applause Wegerle’s effort elicited from the notoriously parochial Leeds support.

It takes a very special goal indeed to get that reaction at Elland Road, and this was definitely as special as it gets – worthy of Maradona, perhaps … or even Eddie Gray.

Take a bow, son. But with Leeds United once again hosting QPR at the weekend – let’s hope it’s Ross McCormack weaving the magic this time around.

The Greatest Goal I Ever Saw Against Leeds United – Roy Wegerle’s Mazy Run and Finish for QPR

Elland Road

For any football fan asked to nominate a favourite goal, the prospect opens of a pleasurable half an hour recalling all those wonderful strikes down the years, mentally compiling a short-list, and then proudly revealing to the questioner that golden shot, header, volley or back-heel, possibly prefaced by the two runners-up in time-honoured reverse order.  Bliss.

The challenge of naming the best goal ever scored AGAINST your favourites, however, is obviously not quite so enjoyable.  Most of us like to think of ourselves as football purists, at least in a neutral sense, so that we can appreciate the beauty of a goal scored in a game not involving our club, even one by a despised rival.  But a goal in your own team’s net is never completely free of attendant pain, and however wonderfully executed it might have been, you can’t actually enjoy it.  You wince as it goes in, you home in on a possible offside flag, or any infraction of the rules that might lead to it being chalked off.  When it counts, your mood sinks.  You’re in no state to acknowledge the brilliance of it all.  You just want your lot to set about redressing the balance.

But the fact remains; you will have seen many terrific goals scored against your own beloved side.  You may possibly find that one amongst them tops even the best goal you can ever recall your lot scoring, though you will not, of course, admit that.  As a Leeds United fan, I’d certainly never concede I’ve seen better opposition goals than Yeboah’s howitzers against Liverpool and Wimbledon, Strachan’s belter against Leicester, Currie’s banana shot against the Saints, Eddie Gray’s pleasure ride through the Burnley defence or any half-dozen you might care to name from Lorimer’s ferocious back catalogue.

Looked at without the partisan blinkers, though, my mind’s eye recalls some very memorable goals scored against Leeds, particularly at my end of Elland Road; the Gelderd End, or Kop.  Jeremy Goss blasted home a fulminating volley for Norwich in 1993 that drew gasps of admiration.  The crisply-struck blockbusters do tend to stick in the memory, and I’ve often complained that we seem to cop for more than our fair share of goal-of-the-season contenders that fly into our top corner, when they might so easily have zipped into the back row of the stand.

The one opposition goal that I’ll truly never forget, though, was in a category all of its own.  In the early part of the 1990-91 season, Leeds had made a decent start to their first year back in the top flight since relegation in 1982.  Consolidation of higher status was the name of the game, but United appeared to be capable of more, and would, in fact, achieve a top four finish as a prelude to actually winning the Title the following season.  In these early days back in the big time, though, it was wonderful just to be there and holding our own.  A visit from Queens Park Rangers wasn’t expected to present any real problems, and there was a relaxed and content air around Elland Road when Leeds moved into an early two goal lead.

Then, it happened, as it’s frankly happened too often in my time watching Leeds.  We managed to salvage, from the jaws of victory, an unlikely 2-3 defeat.  But one of those goals was scored by Roy Wegerle, South African-born U.S. international, now a golf pro, but then Leeds United’s latest nemesis.  He picked the ball up wide on the right about halfway inside the Leeds half, executed a ridiculously mazy run on a by-no-means direct route to the edge of the area, during which he went past five Leeds players as if they just weren’t there, before shifting the ball finally onto his right foot and dispatching it past a flailing John Lukic.  It was one of those moments when, despite your love of your own team, you just stopped for an instant, transfixed in wonder, before exclaiming “I say, what an absolute corker of a goal that was!”, or words to that effect.

It was a beautiful goal, a wondrous, marvelous gem of a goal.  I’ll certainly never forget it, and seemingly new generations of QPR fans are always finding out about it, and wishing they could have seen it live.  Well, I did see it, and although I may not have appreciated it at the time, it certainly gets my nomination for “best ever against Leeds”.  I’m not alone in that, either – one other thing I recall from that day is the loud and generous applause Wegerle’s effort elicited from the notoriously parochial Leeds support.

It takes a very special goal indeed to get that reaction at Elland Road, and this was definitely as special as it gets – worthy of Maradona, perhaps … or even Eddie Gray.

Take a bow, son.