Tag Archives: Serie A

Leeds United to Quit England?? Cellino in Shock “Serie A” Pledge – by Rob Atkinson

Cellino: bring on Juve and Milan

Cellino: bring on Juve and Milan

More sensational developments are unfolding in the ever more confusing story about the year-long struggle at Elland Road, over the ownership, management and league membership of Leeds United. Documents have become available in the last 24 hours that prove the extraordinary determination of controversial banned owner and convicted yachtsman Massimo Cellino, to hang on to the club he’s had to negotiate so hard to own.

The newly declassified information is from last year’s Football League “Fit & Proper” appeal hearing in London, and it indicates the lengths Massimo Cellino was prepared to go to, in order to overturn the Football League’s rejection of him as a “fit and proper person” to own the club. Sensationally, Cellino undertook to achieve promotion within a defined time span for the fallen Yorkshire giants, not to the FA Premier League – but to the Italian top flight, Serie A.

A spokesperson for Cellino, Avril Primero, was tight-lipped when she was quizzed, on April the 1st, about what would certainly be a controversial move. “What a load of bologna,” she said, through tight lips. “Where did you get hold of this rubbish? Un tale carico di merda!

The story, though, refused to go away. The religious affairs correspondent of Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything was able to speak personally late the next night, via ship-to-shore phone from the blog’s duty-free yacht “Nélie”, to the Pope in the Vatican. When pressed on the Serie A story, the Pontiff – a keen cricket fan – was willing to confirm that Leeds’ participation in the Italian top league was “nailed on” for the start of 2016/17 – if things went as planned with the Football League. “The Italian league is open to this, my son,” the Argie Pontiff confided. “There had previously been a suggestion of Glasgow Rangers,” added the leader of the world’s Catholics, “but as you might guess, I ruled THAT one right out of court. Then someone called Harvey mentioned Sheffield Wendies, but I simply laughed. Really, who are these people… Leeds though? ¡Excelente!

The Football League itself was reluctant to comment at that stage of proceedings, with matters poised so delicately. “We have no comment at this stage”, commented a League official, reluctantly, “Matters are so delicately poised.” The FA Premier League indicated that this was not a matter for them presently, but that such a move might well attract some support. “We certainly don’t want Leeds United in our nice clean league”, ejaculated the FA Officer in charge of bungs and bribes.

The then United owners GFH were less forthcoming yet. When asked if competing against the likes of Juventus, Milan, Napoli and Serie A giants Cagliari formed part of their strategic vision for the Whites, they stated simply “We couldn’t give a camel’s left knacker. We just want our money, cash on the nail, coppish? Then we can send Davey Haigh to Dubai, we’ve got big plans for him…”

Massimo Cellino, seemingly unruffled by these revelations from last year, is nevertheless unlikely to be present at the Brentford game on Saturday, preferring to remain in Miami where he is stocking his new refrigerator with beer in preparation for “a major interview” later today. When asked if, despite the Football League ban, he’d have any input into the contents of the team sheet, Mr. Cellino appeared to misunderstand. “Yes, you’re right, team issa sheet, so I stay here, drink beer, buy bitch, talk random Leeds fans onna phone”, he confirmed. “Is better that way, my friend.”

Shaun Harvey is 107.

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New Striker for Leeds United; Cani, Pavoletti or Even Zamora? – by Rob Atkinson

Leonardo Pavoletti - another Italian Job for Leeds?

Sassuolo’s Leonardo Pavoletti – another Italian Job for Leeds?

With loan deals for Sol Bamba and Granddi Ngoyi done and dusted – both with a view to permanence at the end of the season – attention will now turn to the identity of United’s proposed new striker. It’s a minor shake-up for the squad as a whole with the two lads in from the Italian league and Noel Hunt  and Steven Warnock already having departed for Ipswich and Derby respectively. Ngoyi inherits Hunt’s number ten jersey and Bamba will take the number 3 left available by Warnock, despite the fact that there’s an imminent vacancy at the traditional centre-back’s number five, with Jason Pearce seemingly on the verge of joining Wigan Athletic – allegedly for an actual transfer fee, too – which is nice.

Whilst many out here in fanland appear to be of the opinion that a left-winger is needed as a priority, the club’s view seems to be that existing squad members can be trusted to provide better service from out wide on either wing, with the deployment of more effective team shapes now that the late, unlamented diamond is no longer forever. The question remains: who will be the main beneficiary of this anticipated more generous service? Will there be a new lease of life for Mirco Antenucci, who was in such sparkling good form earlier in the season? Will it be Billy Sharp‘s belated chance to shine, now that the threat of being banished to Ipswich has receded? Either or both of these happy events could come to pass, but it does seem more likely than not that more competition is to be introduced in the attacking department of the team.

The two most likely candidates seem to be the Albanian beanpole/battering ram Edgar Cani from Catania, or – more attractively, perhaps – Sassuolo forward Leonardo Pavoletti. It may even be that Leeds are particularly focused on Pavoletti, a target so nearly signed in the summer, with rumoured interest in Cani no more than a smoke-screen. It now appears that Cagliari’s attempts to sign Pavoletti are stalling – could he yet end up at Leeds?

The wild card in the mix is the QPR man Bobby Zamora who, at the age of 34, might just be looking for a final run of first team action before his batteries finally run flat. Zamora’s name has been mentioned on that notoriously less than reliable “source” Twitter; I mention his name here only for completeness.

Of the three striking possibilities, this blog would be happiest with the signing of Pavoletti – a striker who seems to have something about him and who would add something different to the options already at the club.

With the January window due to shut next Monday, the next few days should provide the answers we seek – either that, or it’ll be “don’t worry, the emergency window will be open soon….” We must hope for a happier outcome than that.

Is New Leeds United Recruit Nicola Salerno the Real Deal-Maker? – by Rob Atkinson

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Salerno – wheels and deals

Hold on a minute – just one cotton-picking minute. What’s all this then? The transfer window has suddenly become vibrant, even interesting – even for Leeds United. So what’s all that about? We all know, as Leeds United fans, that transfer windows are supposed to be bleak exercises in dashed hopes and futility – but all of a sudden, things are actually happening.  Good things. To Leeds. Blimey. It doesn’t seem quite real.

Today has brought a sudden flurry of news, almost all of it good – or at least, not as disastrous as the tidings we are more used to receiving. OK, our badge-kissing, self-justification-tweeting skipper, Mr Ross McCormack has departed. Amazingly, given the fact that he was our top scorer – in fact the league’s top scorer last season – this not entirely unexpected news has been greeted in a largely positive and realistic fashion, give or take the odd hopeless case who’s always going to whinge because it’s their default setting.

Ross has gone – and whither is he heading?  Why, to just any club, of course – just the very thing he said he wouldn’t do, preferring to stick it out at Leeds and win promotion, even above “just any Premier League club”. So he’s ended up at just any Championship outfit, smaller than Leeds United in every imaginable respect but the financial one.  What, I wonder, could possibly have been his motivation??  All the best, Ross – and don’t let counting your wedge put you off those goal-scoring exploits and, of course, your Twitter outbursts.  You may well end up being the least-missed top scorer in Leeds United history.

Strange as it may seem, Leeds United’s most important capture of the close season may already have taken place with the recruitment from Massimo Cellino’s former possession Cagliari of Nicola Salerno, whose speciality is apparently the sniffing-out of players for his boss to introduce into the team, nurture and then sell on – at a profit.  In this way, stability might arise out of long-term penury and crisis, with transfer net profits being re-invested into more recruitment, and so on.  It sounds good – and it worked well enough at Cagliari to keep an unfashionable and comparatively tiny club in Serie A for extended periods, including forays into Europe, with the development of several fine players from fairly low-profile raw recruits. On the same day that McCormack exited the back door at Leeds United, two such low-profile (to us) Italian players were entering via the front.  So, it seems, the process has begun; sell high, buy low, develop the talent, rinse and repeat.

So can this model work at Leeds United?  There is a glass ceiling easily detectable if we look far enough ahead into the possible future of the club; the time would come when significant investment would be needed simply to keep the club in the Premier League after promotion is secured within Salerno’s three year – ideally two year – time frame. But in the meantime, this Cellino/Salerno plan might well be the way in which we can start to make some headway again – after far too long of, at best, treading water.

Rarely have I seen the sale of arguably our best player received with such positivity and enthusiasm – even outbreaks of common sense. Probably that has a lot to do with the frankly ludicrous fee we appear to have blagged out of Fulham – more mugs them. I suspect that McCormack will not be pulling up quite such huge trees down there as he did with Leeds last season – but we will see.  The fact remains that – given the choice of a sulky striker and serial Twitter-whinger, or 11 million lovely sponds, ripe for the reinvesting – there’s little doubt that we’re better off with the latter.

Yes, folks, I’m feeling positive.  I’m expecting more deadwood to be cut away from the club, no more high-profile departures (unless, as with Ross, it’s undeniably for the good of the club) – and quite a few more arrivals. Net result; a leaner, fitter Leeds United – a Leeds United who can start to make some serious progress.

A last thought.  McCormack has said one reason behind his move (as opposed to all of those crisp, bankable, paper reasons) is that “it’s not the Leeds United I fell in love with”.  But is that a bad thing, from our point of view?  Cast your mind back.  What was the Leeds United that McCormack fell in love with?  It was a club under the jackboot of Ken Bates, wasn’t it?  A club that the fans were almost ashamed to own up to, a club in the process of decay, as that horrible Papa Smurf had decreed back in 1984 when certain freelance Yorkshire demolition contractors sorted out his Stamford Bridge scoreboard for him. Mr McCormack might wistfully pine for those days, but forgive us if we fans don’t. Perhaps Ross might not recognise or appreciate it, but the club he fell in love with is in a much better place now.  Or so I believe.

The next couple of weeks should be exciting and eventful ones for Leeds fans. We might not be signing big names, but we can hope for young, hungry, talented players who will breathe new life into what had seemed a moribund outfit.  I’ll take that, just as happily as I’d have taken Fulham’s eleven million, had it been up to me.  For a new start and some players with the appetite for the fight and an eye on success, I’d snatch your hands off.

The future starts here.  Goodbye, Ross – you are now irrelevant. It’s onwards and upwards for Leeds, our owner, our deal-fixer and a coach who sorted us out good and proper when we came up against him at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium in 2006. That’s a good place from which to start Marching On Together again.  On and on and on.