Tag Archives: Russell Crowe

Cellino Sells Leeds Utd to Russian Oil Baron in £7.4 Billion Coup   –   by Rob Atkinson

A Russian oil field, yesterday

A Russian oil field, yesterday

NB: This article should be read with extreme cynicism after 12 noon on April 1st. 

Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino is on the point of completing the sale of his holdings in the company that owns Leeds United in a surprise mega-millions deal that will see the club bankrolled into the Champions League, a spokesperson for Eleonora Sports has confirmed. 

The shock deal has been brokered in the last seven days between oil billionaire Aprelya Pervyy and Cellino’s personal representative Avril Primero. While the share purchase price is given as “in the tens of millions”, it is understood that the total deal will be worth almost seven and a half BILLION pounds sterling, with the purchase of Elland Road, the foundation of a new triple A class Academy and the establishment of a new LUTV channel on the Sky platform factored in.

The new owners are believed to be targeting Champions League success within three years, to coincide with the club’s centenary celebrations in 2019. Financial Fair Play restrictions are “unlikely” to be seen as a barrier to success, with infrastructure investment through several specially set-up companies enabling United to compete at the top end of the transfer market.

With the deal due to be completed before the summer transfer window opens, the close season is expected to be a busy time for Leeds, with “significant behind the scenes restructuring” anticipated. Hollywood A-Lister and lifelong Whites fan Russell Crowe is confirmed as being uninvolved at this stage, but is believed to be monitoring the situation from his base in Australia. Crowe has been quoted recently as stating he is “impatient for success” at Leeds; that long wait could now be about to end. 

No further developments are expected today, but Cellino may have a statement to make as early as tomorrow, April the 2nd. 

Russell Crowe’s Needless White Noise Drowns Out Leeds Utd Transfer Talk   –   by Rob Atkinson

Time for Crowe to leave the arena.

Time for Russell Crowe to leave the arena

Just when things were hotting up and getting really interesting down LS11 way, with a frenzy of delicious speculation about attractive transfer targets for our club, along comes Russell Crowe with the worst-timed, least relevant tweet in recent history – telling us all what we already know and no longer very much care about.

Crowe’s declaration that he will not, after all, be buying Leeds United (I understand that was the gist of it) might possibly have caused some hair to be torn and some clothing to be rent asunder among Whites fans – if it had come a few months back, when new ownership fever was in the air, and Massimo Cellino was embattled after yet more maverick craziness. But things have changed since then, and in a good way for once. Adam Pearson has brought some sanity to the Elland Road asylum, we’ve gone literally weeks without sacking a head coach – and there are welcome signs that seven-figure investment in the first team squad is actually here to stay. 

In these circumstances, with a slightly sedated captain on the bridge and a capable first officer with his hands on the wheel, the good ship Leeds United appears to be navigating tolerably well some still choppy waters. Give or take the results themselves, this season has a fresh and breezy feel about it. And, if we are still scanning the horizon anxiously for signs of that first win, then at least there have been no defeats so far to darken the sky. Even though we took a torpedo at Doncaster, still, it was technically a draw – and with ten men for much of that engagement too. Leeds staggered, but they have sailed on, more or less serenely. 

In the wake of our latest draw, against Yorkshire’s most successful club of last century’s inter-war period in Sheffield Wendies, glad tidings of positive transfer market activity have filled the ether. Not one, but two tricky wide attackers, a possible England U-21 central defender, and the Lord knows what-all. Bids of serious money made and accepted, players said to be “distracted” or to have “had their heads turned” at the prospect of interest from Leeds – it’s been heady, dizzying, unfamiliar stuff. And if we are still tending to founder on the jagged rocks of personal terms and other such spiky hazards, then at least a positive broadside of ambitious intent has been let loose. And that, to Leeds fans, is the sweetest sound we have heard in many a blue moon.

So, in among all this rampant positivity comes the almost forgotten figure of yesterday’s gladiator, Maximus Publicitius himself, doubtless with new films to plug and a social media profile in need of some attention, flooding the Twittersphere with irrelevancy. Crowe was all over Twitter not so long back, making a noise like a prospective Leeds owner. But when he went quiet, the United support forgot about him and got on with supporting the team or arguing with each other, as fans are meant to do. Personalities come and go, after all – but Leeds United is forever, and things do seem better now that we have a business-suited gladiator in Pearson fighting for us. For Crowe to pipe up again right now is bizarre, it’s distracting and it’s not particularly welcome. 

As one Facebook cynic put it: “For Crowe to say he’s no longer interested in buying Leeds, is like me saying I’m not going to bother sleeping with Beyonce“. Just so. It’s an irrelevant statement, seeking to opt out of something that was never really an option in the first place. For better or worse, Leeds United does not appear to be for sale – and the more pragmatic of us are moving on, still with some reservations, but more than a little mollified by the undoubted changes for the better that have taken place.

Memo to Russell Crowe from Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything: now is not a good time to be rocking the boat. There was a period when our ship perhaps needed steadying, but all that we got from you then was sound and fury, signifying nothing. More of that now is just taking away the focus from more important stuff. Please, Russell – put away the sword and the shield like a good chap, and lapse back into the silence from which you should not lately have emerged. Try to retain some credibility, against some future day when you, or someone like you, might well be needed. With Leeds United, you just never know.

But for the moment – let us get on with our transfer speculation, and the quest for that first win, in peace and optimism. Thanks, Maximus.

Time to Unleash Hell on This Leeds United Soap Opera Farce – by Rob Atkinson

Time for Crowe to enter the arena.

Time for Crowe to enter the arena

I’m going to keep this short and sour, because it’s late and I’m tired – and more than a little naffed-off after yet another day when Leeds United appears to have done its level best to give itself a good old kicking in the gonads. Whatever the ins and outs – assistant coach suspended after playing his part in a recent recovery, leading goalscorer marginalised for fear of him (horror of horrors) scoring more goals for his club, head coach bemused and disillusioned and considering his exit strategies – the net effect is simple and unambiguous. This is just not good enough. It absolutely will not do. Leeds United is a world-renowned football institution of proud history and immense reputation, with a loyal and fanatical global following – it deserves better. We deserve better – all of us.

Today is one of those days when the little flame of hope and optimism you’ve been warmed by recently flickers and blows out, leaving you cold and in the dark. It’s a day when you realise that the current incarnation of Leeds United is a sick joke. I won’t even say soap opera or farce, as per the title above – because no-one would have the brass neck to write it. It’d get laughed off stage or screen and the author carted off to the funny farm to wear a back-to-front jacket and take his ease in a comfily-padded cell. The thing about sick jokes is that they’re frequently just not funny. Such is the case – as far as Whites fans are concerned – with their beloved Leeds. The rest of football, though, will be chortling happily away, bad cess to them.

This latest experiment has failed. It’s time for the owner and his confused, confusing little band to back off and let someone else have a go. I say this with a heavy heart as someone who has backed Cellino as he fought against the Football League, an organisation I despise for hypocrites and buffoons. It was a case of “mine enemy’s enemy is my friend” – but there’s a limit. We had the humiliating succession of failed coaching appointments in the early part of the season. That was enough to stretch anyone’s loyalty. But still, many of us stayed loyal, wanting to believe in an anti-establishment maverick. At his best, Cellino just seemed so Leeds. He seemed to “get” the whole United thing. But it was a false dawn that has heralded a succession of depressing and soul-destroying days – the latest of which we have just winced and cringed our way through. It’s time to try yet another new direction.

The long-running Russell Crowe story has refused to go away and, it has to be said, the flames have been fanned more than somewhat by the man himself. Some raise doubts about his financial clout, but few seem to doubt his Leeds-supporting credentials – and what we need now more than ever is a fan in high places. And Crowe can attract financial muscle, as witness his involvement with the oddly-named Rabbitohs RL club in Australia. Crowe has the global profile; if he can carry along with him someone of sufficient wealth, then for goodness’ sake, let’s move on and give him a chance. How much better could we really do, given the current bleakly depressing state of affairs?

Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything is not ashamed to reassess its attitude towards the current regime at Leeds United. We’re being held up as a laughing-stock and that is simply intolerable. So let’s get behind the concept of change, not for change’s sake, but with a view to getting a real fan on board, someone who feels the pain and hungers for glory. Someone as impatient and pissed off as we are. Someone like Russell Crowe, and such minted partners as he may well be able to muster – and the newly-formalised fans group LLP. Why not? Leeds United remains an incredible opportunity for the right person or group of people. It’s the last true sleeping giant. It’s iconic and oozing potential.

Let’s do this – let’s unleash hell – before we all end up there.

Football League to Dish the Dirt on “Impatient” Russell Crowe   –   by Rob Atkinson

Russell Crowe - bloodless coup?

Russell Crowe – bloodless coup?

The Football League‘s clandestine “Stop Leeds United Getting Serious Investment” Task Force was swinging into action yet again yesterday amid some alarm at FLHQ that Hollywood A-lister Russell Crowe might possibly be contemplating getting financially involved in the club he has long supported. A League spokesman confirmed “Our special anti Leeds United people are looking into this. And there will doubtless be something we can – ahem – stone the Crowe with, never fear! (chortle)”

As a first step, the League have consulted the Forbes “Rich List” and it is understood that they were perturbed by what was revealed about the actor’s heavy-duty financial clout. A senior figure in the FL structure –  who refused to be named, but admitted that his initials were Shaun Harvey – also expressed “concern” that Crowe is already involved in part-ownership with a highly successful Australian Rugby League club, showing no signs of leading them into administration. The League are understood to be taking the threat of good news for Leeds extremely seriously.

Russell Crowe is playing his cards close to his chest – having previously asked his near 1.7 million Twitter followers if purchasing a stake in Leeds would be “a good idea”, he now says he is “impatient” to see Leeds achieving success. He has also been in tweeting dialogue with a Leeds fan group, discussing ways and means. The League position on consultation with fans is unequivocally clear. “We don’t like it,” stated our incognito contact, “Once you start involving riff-raff like fans, you’re on the slippery slope to some sort of new-age, new-fangled, hippy, pinko liberal “democracy” thing. We really don’t go for that at all. Give us a good old-fashioned familiar, honest, fit and proper rapist or money-launderer – they’re the sort of people that we really can do business with. You know where you are with them.”

United’s currently suspended owner Massimo Cellino, meanwhile, has confirmed that he does not intend “immediately” to return as Leeds President when his disqualification lapses. Instead, he will pursue remedial avenues of his own, as an individual, with no formal connection to Leeds United AFC. “Is better this way,” the Italian insisted. “Now, when horse’s head found in bed with a one-a these guys scare half to death, like-a that brutto figlio di puttana bastardo, Signor Shaun, no need to worry about sanction for club. I will take care of business in my own special way, my friend.”

Russell Crowe himself had nothing specific to say about any potential League investigation, but confirmed through a spokesman that he would give the signal to “unleash hell”, should circumstances indicate that such a course of action is necessary. The veteran actor dropped a further hint as to his likely attitude, cryptically proclaiming: “My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, Commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next. We are Leeds.”

The officials of the Board of the Football League, both individually and collectively, are understood to be “cacking themselves” after seeing the Cellino and Crowe quotes. A senior figure has sent out for clean underwear three times today alone, and evidence has been shown to us of a bulk order of “Nicky” quilted toilet roll as well as some Far-Eastern “herbal relaxation infusions”. It appears that the investigation into Mr. Crowe will proceed – but preparations are also well advanced for a sudden retreat, if and when necessary. “If hell is unleashed, we shall all be leaving the country the same day,” our source confirmed, pale of face and wringing palsied hands. “This really is becoming a bit too dodgy, even for seasoned duckers and divers such as us. Whether we’re dealing with Crowe or Cellino, or even waking one fine morning with some severed item of equine anatomy, it’s a distinctly worrying picture. A mad Italian and an erstwhile Hollywood hell-unleasher. Jesus. Those are two seriously intimidating mothers, though – aren’t they?? Criminy.”

Shaun Harvey, 94, is incontinently scared. 

 

Les Misérables – Making A Good Thing Even Better

As a devoted fan of the stage show since January 1988 when I first experienced it at The Palace Theatre in London, I have to confess:  I was extremely reticent over the prospect of seeing the film adaptation.  Perhaps I was unsure of my own ability to switch environments – seeing new faces and hearing new voices, fearful of sitting there for three hours annoyed, and missing my old heroes.  Maybe it was just my inherent small “c” conservatism, an instinctive preference for the cosy familiarity of the “Les Mis” I know so well and have loved for so long.  Whatever it was, I was wrong – and I would now like to don the sackcloth and ashes, and order a large slice of humble pie.

Les Misérables on the big screen is magnificent – even magnifique.  Epic in its scale, it is an assault on willingly-receptive senses right from the off.  The adjustment I had so feared being unable to make was accomplished right away and without protest from my latent prejudices. One immediately noticeable improvement is the enhanced exposition of the movie version – little linkages are made in the narrative of the story that are not apparent – to me, anyway – from countless viewings of the stage show.  The downward spiral of Fantine is thus portrayed and explained more effectively, and the emotional impact is increased.  The same can be said of various other points in the film, where the reaction to unfolding events is unexpectedly raw, largely because what has caused those events to unfold is a lot clearer.

This shuddering impact – the emotional equivalent of a kick in the guts – is never more pronounced than during the suffering and despair of Fantine.  We know what she is going through when we see the show at the theatre.  It’s horrible, and unfair, and we weep for the hapless victim of pitiless exploitation.  But withal, there is an ethereal prettiness about the character even as she labours under the cruelty of fate as manifested by various uncaring men.  It’s a broad brush which paints the picture on the stage, skilfully as it might be done.

Contrast this with Anne Hathaway’s no-holds-barred portrayal of descent into despair, loss and death.  No soft focus here, no semi-comic images of the harlots scene.  There is an ugliness and horror about Fantine’s situation as it plummets downhill, and Ms Hathaway treats us to a smorgasbord of blood, sweat, grime and tears, not to mention snot, spit and coarse dentistry.  Her evocation of innocence and anger at cruel fate is compelling even as it is repellent.  The pathos of her dawning, disbelieving hope as Valjean whisks her away to hospital is palpable, and the skill of the performer is complemented by pitiless close-ups, every nuance of expression and suffering right in your face.  The impact is awesome, in a way that could never be achieved on stage.  You sit there in the dark, and you suffer – vicariously it’s true, but nonetheless convincing for that.

Look out for and beware many such moments of tear-jerking, sob-racking grief in this three hour marathon which yet somehow flies by.  The rebel’s badge placed with unexpected tenderness on the corpse of a young boy, whose sightless eyes rivet the watcher in horror at such waste.  The last two students, cornered by an open window and snarling defiance behind their tattered flag as they face the guns levelled at them, determined on their martyrdom and quite impervious to fear.  Powerful, massively emotive stuff.

This is the magic of the movie treatment of Les Mis.  Time and again, you are drawn inexorably into the inner feelings of a character in extremis, and this applies to heroes and villains alike.  The distinction between the two poles of good and evil is fine, as it should be with any real, human story.  These are three-dimensional characters given full rein by the possibilities offered on the big screen.  Our feelings are not spared, and there is uncomfortably little distance between our perspective and the struggle and conflicts unfolding before us.  But the same also applies to the moments of love and beauty, and to the final message of redemption, and we are warmed by these in equal measure to the shock and grief we experience elsewhere.

Les Misérables is a motion picture tribute to an immortal piece of musical theatre, and as such it has more than achieved its goal, which must – as a minimum – have been to leave the legacy untarnished.  In actually enhancing the experience, it has certainly surpassed my expectations, and I feel that the next time I see the show, it will be with an increased understanding of the story, the characters and the whole phenomenon.  An amazing movie and one I would heartily recommend to anyone – but make sure you’re adequately hydrated, and take plenty of tissues….