Tag Archives: Stoke City

Football League Investigates Leeds but Finds Itself Corrupt by Mistake – by Rob Atkinson

In an amazing twist, the Football League’s probe into the Leeds United “Spygate” allegation has led to a finding that the League itself is corrupt and not fit for purpose. A red-faced FL spokesman admitted that the findings themselves are real enough, but that the direction of the investigation was misconceived. “We didn’t mean to probe ourselves,” the man from the FL confirmed, “That was just an embarrassing mistake that stemmed from noticing Shaun Harvey’s eyes are too close together. But, because the error happened, we now find that we’re utterly corrupt, useless and totally bent out of shape – so I suppose we’ll have to do something about that, like ban ourselves or whatever. It’s all a bit bemusing, all we wanted to do was rattle Leeds United a bit. Deary me”.

What happens next is unclear. The League could appeal against its own findings, but we understand that it’s struggling to find grounds. “We appear to be bang to rights on being as corrupt as you could imagine”, said our man, gloomily. One possibility is that the League might disband itself and turn control of the FL72 over to some less obviously useless organisation, such as the BBC or the Tory Party. The next few days should be very interesting.

Meanwhile, Leeds United are free to continue with preparations for their match at Stoke on Saturday, and a furtive gentleman dressed inconspicuously outside the Potters’ training ground put down his binoculars long enough to confirm that the pre-match build up was “going as well as can be expected”.

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Leeds Loan Star Brown: Izzy Making the Bench for Stoke Away? – by Rob Atkinson

Given that Leeds United’s loan signing from Chelsea, Izzy Brown, successfully negotiated 90 minutes of a development squad match today, scoring a brace to secure victory, many will be wondering if we might be about – at long, long last – to see the talented midfielder involved at first team level for the Whites.

It’s an intriguing question, especially insofar as next Saturday’s fixture at Stoke is concerned, as Kalvin Philips will be serving the last of a three match ban. Against that, the eleven that started against Derby probably all deserve to retain their places. But the bench for that game was seriously inexperienced – so is that where we could see Izzy Brown starting off on Saturday?

My guess would be that, given Brown’s own “almost there” verdict after his second string appearance today, it’s reasonably likely that the lively midfielder will be involved at least as a sub against Stoke. And that would provide a great new option for Marcelo Bielsa, depending on how that game is going.

Brown’s imminent first team availability is well timed, with the second half of the season well under way, and the prospect of other returnees such as Bamford, Dallas, Douglas and Berardi perhaps a little further down the line. The received wisdom amongst United fans is that squad reinforcements are urgently needed – and yet the squad has coped magnificently with the rigours of the campaign so far. The appearance of Izzy on the bench at Stoke could herald the spectacle of a United squad pulsing with strength in depth for what will hopefully be a run-in to the Championship Title and automatic promotion.

Fingers crossed, whatever happens with Izzy Brown next weekend, for another three points at Stoke City. But, however that goes, the return of a few injured stars as well as the fresh dimension offered by Brown and the likes of emerging talents Shackleton and Clarke surely bodes well for the immediate future of Leeds United.

Can Leeds United be the First Club Promoted Without Being Awarded a Single Penalty? – by Rob Atkinson

Lash Lorimer

Peter Lorimer demonstrates his penalty technique – from the days when we used to get them

Assuming Leeds United are not awarded a penalty at the DW Stadium during their televised meeting with Wigan Athletic on Sunday (and it’s a fair assumption, as we have seen this season, when some pretty good claims have been ignored) then the Whites will have clocked up 54 league matches without getting a single spot kick. In that time, many an obvious penalty has been refused United and, of the nine awarded against them, there have been some right stinkers, such as the ones given to Stoke and Brentford since the start of the current campaign.

This has now become quite a story in various media, and it makes you wonder what effect it might have on the referees and other officials in charge of United’s games going forward. My guess is that it will simply steel their resolve; no self-respecting, God-fearing, righteously Leeds-hating referee wants to be seen as bowing to external pressure, after all. So it could be a while yet before Leeds get a penalty, and when they do, Pablo Hernandez will probably miss it (as he did our last one, sometime around the Napoleonic Wars).

So – assuming that the record continues – could we actually go a whole league season without one single penalty kick? That’s not unknown, actually, at least in the Premier League, which is the only division for which I’ve seen these statistics. It’s still quite rare, though, and I honestly do wonder whether, in the Championship, with its higher incidence of what we may term “agricultural defending”, it’s really feasible that a club can actually draw a blank for the whole campaign. But I stand to be corrected and, as ever, I welcome any informed input.

Even if any team has previously played a second tier campaign without even one penalty, I’d have serious doubts over whether that team would have managed to be promoted. Any club looked on so unfavourably by match officials must surely feel as though its card is well and truly marked, especially if they keep on getting dodgy penalties awarded against them. That’s been the Leeds United experience so far this term – and yet, despite the additional problem of injuries to key personnel, the Whites ride high in the table, and will look forward to kicking on when (if) the treatment room gets a little less busy.

Leeds have shown every sign so far that, at their best, they don’t need refereeing generosity (or even common sense) in order to win Championship matches. They’ve managed to stay right up there, even in spite of some appalling decisions against them. So – assuming I’m correct to say that no team has ever been promoted without at least one penalty being given to them – could Leeds United be the first to achieve such a difficult challenge?

I actually think that United really could see their penalty drought extend to cover the whole season, despite the fact that we have tricky players who can only be stopped by chopping them down – and yet I remain optimistic of success, hopefully via the automatic route. Because, as well as the “no penalties for you, Leeds” rule, there’s also the well-established law that United just don’t do play-offs. So it’s top two or bust for us, penalties notwithstanding.

I’d really like to know if this would be a first, and I might even check the odds and have a moderate punt on it. But, if any friendly Statto out there knows better, and can prove that I’m barking up the wrong tree, and that it’s all been done before – then, please, let me know. Ideally before I part with any of my brass to Big Bad Bert the Bent Bookie. Thank you.

Man City Hotshot Set For Leeds United Move – by Rob Atkinson

Despite interest from other prominent Championship clubs, it appears that Pep Guardiola’s deep respect for Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa will see another of Manchester City’s young tearaways link up with the Whites for a season at Elland Road.

Lukas Nmecha is a strong, powerful speed machine with an eye for goal. Coveted by many, he should prove to be a real asset to whichever club can lure him away from the Etihad for the duration of this campaign. Leeds appear to be in the mix for young Nmecha, 19, and the links between Bielsa and Guardiola could see United clinch a deal.

It would appear also that Nmecha may not be the only late-window arrival at Elland Road, with a hectic and exciting few days in prospect next week.

But first… Stoke City on Sunday. Watch out for a match reaction and talking points here on Monday.

Bony to Stoke City Equals Peter Crouch to Leeds United?   –   by Rob Atkinson

Peter-Crouch-and-Abbey-Clancy-wedding

Leeds United, Abbey Clancy and Peter Crouch – a threesome made in heaven

It would seem that, after the signing of Bournemouth midfielder Eunan O’Kane, efforts are still being made behind the scenes at Elland Road to add another striker – probably a loan deal – to the Leeds United squad.

In the light of Stoke City‘s loan acquisition of Manchester City’s under-employed forward Wilfred Bony, it does seem that gangly veteran Peter Crouch has been pushed even further down the Potters pecking order. But here is a striker, admittedly no longer in the first flush of youth, who is still very much able to do it. Obviously a threat in the air, Crouch is also surprisingly effective with the ball nearer to Mother Earth. He also scored a hat-trick recently in a rare first team outing for Stoke, in an EFL Cup victory – could this have been his last contribution for City, at least for this season?

A loan move to Leeds for Crouch would, on the face of it, suit all parties. Stoke, with Bony on board, are unlikely to be able to give ex-England striker Crouch much, if any, playing time. At this veteran stage of his career, first team football is a must for a striker who still has a lot to offer. And Leeds, with their striking options depleted compared to last year, despite the addition of Marcus Antonsson, badly need a proven performer up front. Peter Crouch would fit the bill admirably.

Will it happen? It’s probably a thing too good to be true. But it’s something those men in suits at Elland Road certainly should be trying their level best to make happen. As a rest-of-the-season striking solution, it’s a complete no-brainer. 

And it would also add the delectable Abbey Clancy to the current list of LS11 attractions. Really – who could possibly argue that that would not be A Very Good Thing?

Newcastle Team “Scared Because Stoke Looked Like Sunderland” Claim – by Rob Atkinson

Toon v Sunderland today. Er, we mean Toon v Stoke.

Toon v Sunderland today. Erm, we mean Toon v Stoke

A novel excuse has been advanced by an un-named Newcastle United player after the Toon’s disappointing home draw with Stoke. The Geordies had been leading near the end through a goal from Mackem youth product Jack Colback (74′) – but in the end, they were pegged back when Peter Crouch planted a firm header past Tim Krul as the match moved into added time.

One anonymous Newcastle player, immediately after the game, has apparently blamed Stoke’s red and white striped jerseys for the way City were allowed to snatch a point. “They looked canny like Sunderland, like, and it fair scared the clarts oot of us, bonny lad. Why AYE – it’s no excuse like, though but,” the player – believed to be from Newcastle’s English contingent – stated as he came off the pitch. Asked to enlarge on his controversial viewpoint, the Toon star would only add “Them buggas have made a turtle habit of beating us hollurr, every time we meet up, like. It’s enough to put a gadgie off his Broon, man. Sur when the likes of Sturk City torn up, the spittin’ image of them Sunnerlan’ buggas, it was just toomuchforruslike. Wuz’re like, y’knaa, psycholgically disTORBED, like! Pass us an orange, Thelma pet.”

A long-standing Newcastle fan, Sidney Aloysius Smutt, when asked outside the ground after the match for his views, would only observe “Haddaway an’ shite, ya bastads. Wuz’re not frit o’ that loosy Mackem lot. Or Sturk. Gan yem, man, before yiz gets a purk in the eye, like. I’m the cock o’ the waaaalk, man, me like.”

Mike Ashley (94) is uncomfortably close to Rangers.