Tag Archives: Watford FC

Leeds Fans United in Sympathy as Watford Sack Kewell – by Rob Atkinson

stupid harrykewell-

Harry Kewell, heading for the dole queue

Watford FC have sacked former Leeds United and Liverpool star Harry Kewell from his post as youth team coach at Vicarage Road, following a poor run of form – and the Leeds supporters have reacted on Twitter with varying degrees of not entirely sincere regret.

The background to United supporters’ wrath is fairly well known. Firstly, Kewell engineered a move to Liverpool at a time when Leeds were suffering a financial meltdown, and reportedly moved heaven and earth to maximise the benefit of the £5m fee to himself and his agent, leaving the club that gave him his big break grievously out of pocket.

Then, after an injury-hit spell on Merseyside, Kewell unaccountably chose to ply his trade in Turkey, at the one club no former Leeds player should ever touch with the longest bargepole. Kewell was in the Leeds team that stepped out to play Galatasaray in the 2000 UEFA Cup semi-final first leg in Istanbul, the night after two Leeds United fans had been brutally murdered in the city. UEFA showed neither sympathy nor understanding, insisting that the game should be played. The home side failed to show the most basic respect, not even wearing black armbands, and the Leeds United away support reacted with massive and laudable dignity, turning their backs en masse to the field of play before the match kicked off.

The atmosphere was evil, the players were still deeply affected, the whole occasion was a tragic farce. Any suggestion that night that any member of the Leeds United team, who faced such a sick and disgusting display of hostility and hatred, could one day wear the colours of the home team, would have been dismissed as a tasteless joke. And yet it came to pass that Harry Kewell sold his soul and made that move, earning himself the sobriquet of “Judas” for ever more. Little wonder that he remains a figure of hatred and contempt among the Elland Road faithful, to this day.

And now he’s out of a job, he can expect nothing but scorn and a grim satisfaction from United fans. The LUFC Twitter feed in the aftermath of his dismissal by Watford FC shows that that is exactly what he’s got.

Well played, you Hornets – and on your bike, Judas.

Genius Kewell’s Brilliant Theory on Why 5’8″ Leeds Keeper Didn’t Make It – by Rob Atkinson

Harry wearing his most intelligent and alert expression

Harry wearing his most intelligent and alert expression

As many will know, former Westlife boyband member Nicky Byrne narrowly missed out on real megastardom when his fledgling career as a footballer with Leeds United came to an abrupt end.

It has long been a matter of fevered speculation as to just why the diminutive Byrne never made it as a professional goalkeeper. There seemed to be no obvious reason why the tiny teen idol failed to make an impact in a position dominated by lanky lads of 6’4″ or thereabouts. Byrne himself, standing at a somewhat less than towering 5’8″, never revealed the reason for his sporting heartache, and it seemed fated to remain one life’s great mysteries.

But now that baffling conundrum may at last have been solved by the mighty cerebral power of Australia’s foremost intellect Harry Kewell. Such are the intricacies of Kewell’s musings that it’s really not easy to convey them in a form mere mortals will have a chance of comprehending. The best shot that Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything can make follows this paragraph. It’s complex stuff, mind, so read it slowly – and then read it over again, a couple of times if necessary. We’re trying to sum up the product of a superior mind here, so be patient with yourselves and give it every chance. You never know – a revelatory enlightenment might just dawn. Here goes, then. Take a deep breath…

Harry Kewell’s revolutionary thesis on the failure of Emerald Isle shorthouse Nicky Byrne to gain top-level employment keeping a size five football out of a goal measuring 8 foot high by 24 foot wide may be summed up in this one brilliant quote from the great man himself, as follows: (Here it comes. Are you ready??)

“He was just a little bit small.”

Wow.

On hearing such transcendental genius from the lips of the antipodean master, FIFA immediately capitulated, suspending both Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini to pave the way for Kewell to take over as the game’s omnipotent overlord. Football’s governing body faces stiff competition from the United Nations, who want the Aussie as their new Secretary General, and it is believed that British TV have approached Kewell’s current employers Watford FC to test their resolve to keep him, as they want his unparalleled intellect to replace the Eggheads team in its entirety, and take on all-comers on his own.

Moves are also afoot Down Under to strip Kewell of his Aussie nationality, as an IQ in excess of 65 is illegal in that part of the world. Clive James was deported under this provision many years ago, and the reverse legislation has enabled many emigrant Britons to make a new life in less mentally demanding circumstances.

Having proved himself in the genius stakes, Kewell is now thinking of taking up chess. “I tried it last year with a head-to-head challenge against Joey Essex, but he somehow beat me,” explained the former Liverpool shirker. “Now I feel more confident, so I’ll be having another go, maybe against someone even more cleverer this time.” 

Sheffield Wednesday’s Forestieri Can’t Shut Up About Leeds United   –   by Rob Atkinson

Forestieri: I blame Leeds United for this Wendies mistake...

Forestieri: I blame Leeds United for this Wendies mistake…

Sheffield Wendies‘ new signing from Watford, Fernando Forestieri, is already showing he is ideally qualified for life at Hillsborough. Either that, or it’s dawning on the lad with ever-increasing horror that he’s made a terrible mistake. Whatever the reason, Forestieri just can’t stop talking about the club he simply lacked the cojones to join: Leeds United.

He’s a rum one, is Fernando. Wherever you’ve looked this week, there he’s been, telling anyone who will listen that it’s not his fault he didn’t sign for Leeds. Seemingly unaware that the Whites have identified and snapped up a more than adequate alternative target in Jordan “The Wizard” Botaka, Forestieri seems to be labouring under the delusion that United fans are bothered, or even interested any more. But the fact is that the proliferation of News Now links and piteous tweets emanating from the Watford reject have elicited little more than bored yawns from the Elland Road faithful. Leeds fans tend to lose interest in anyone who isn’t visibly salivating at the prospect of joining Leeds, and quite rightly so, too.

Forestieri, with legend status there for the taking, lost the hearts and minds of the Whites with his initial display of apathy. His subsequent bizarre stance of preferring somewhere in the south – and then comically signing for the Wendies – has raised no more than a tickled titter among the United masses. But Fernando seems to think it’s all still frightfully angsty up here in the frozen northern wastes of LS11. He feels, unaccountably, that we still care.

Perhaps now is the time, after days of fruitless and tedious attention-seeking, for Signor Forestieri to concentrate on the situation he’s resigned himself to, rather than harping on about what might have been and hurling brickbats of blame. It’s quite likely that he’ll make the first team at the Wendies, after all – which would not have been so certain a prospect at Leeds. So he really should focus on his game, forget all the doubts and bitterness – and try bravely to make the best of a bad job. 

It’s gone, Fernando. You blew it. Yorkshire’s top club was willing to give you a chance to move upwards after Watford – but you cravenly chose to sink even lower. That’s something to think about when you run out at Hillsborough and see all those thousands of mute Wendies cunningly disguised as blue plastic seats.

But please – keep those thoughts to yourself. All this whinging about who’s to blame for you missing the boat – it really is getting rather boring, you know… 

Could Leeds Be Looking For FOUR More Big Signings?   –   by Rob Atkinson

Forestieri – is there something in the air, Fernando?

The Yorkshire derby against Sheffield Wendies has almost been relegated to the inside pages today, with the real headlines being made up of fevered late-window transfer speculation surrounding our very own Leeds United. It could simply be a case of adding two plus two and ending up with well over six million – but it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that United could yet add as many as FOUR more major players to what is presently, by common consent, a talented but sketchily thin squad.

Of course, in the nature of these things – and with the transfer window being a two-way street – even if we do see four high-profile additions, we might also be bidding a few farewells of varying fondness. The least palatable of these could yet involve full-back turned winger-of-sorts Sam Byram. This blog is on record as stating that it could stomach the loss of Sam, if the club’s hand is forced by the approaching termination of his deal, if the price would be right and if quality recruits were to arrive on the back of such a sale. So, although it would be sad to lose a talent like Byram, we could hardly bitch about it at Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything Towers. 

Any other departures would most likely be the more peripheral of our fringe players, and most likely we would all have our own ideas of those most likely to be deemed superfluous to Herr Rösler’s plans. 

So, who might yet arrive? The most exciting news of the day is that United have apparently agreed a deal with Watford for Fernando Forestieri, the type of tricky customer who could provide the longed-for link between midfield and attack. This deal is said to have reached the point where it’s down to club and player to agree personal terms, so it must be rated 9/10 on the scale of likelihood. 

Another name being mentioned today is that of speedy NEC Nijmegen winger Anthony Limbombe – of whom his current club have intriguingly said that he’s had his head turned by interest from Elland Road, to the point where it was felt unwise to include him in the team to play Ajax. There’s no smoke without fire – at least 7/10 for this one. 

And still, with these two attacking players thought to be likely recruits, Leeds fans are greedily eyeing further possibilities. Central defender Liam Moore of Leicester City didn’t look the most composed performer for England U-21s this summer – then again, you’re no mug to get as far as pulling that shirt on. With the difficulty Leeds are having forming a secure-looking defence, Moore’s name is still out there, probably as a loan with a view to buy. 5/10 here. 

And, lastly but definitely not leastly, our old friend Joey Barton is still without a club, having recently been spurned by West Ham. The Hammers might just be having second thoughts now, having had the hubris arising out of a win at Arsenal dispersed by two home defeats since. But an unattached Joey is still a fascinating prospect for a sleeping giant of Leeds United proportions – though you suspect that, if it was going to happen, it’d probably have been done and dusted by now. Still – 4.5/10. 

What does seem certain is that, after we were told a couple of weeks ago that our transfer business was all but done, there still seems to be a fair chance that the last week or so of this window could be a very interesting time for Leeds United fans. 

Watch this space…

Watford Gap is an Almighty Chasm for Dreadful United – by Rob Atkinson

Another day, a new era, another defeat

Another day, a new era, another defeat

The two main commodities Massimo Cellino will be looking to import into his new project, Leeds United, will come free of charge – but are nevertheless very difficult to obtain.  Pride and Passion – anyone out there remember those two old friends?  I do.  Anybody old enough and fortunate enough to have seen Sergeant Wilko’s White Juggernaut blast its way out of the old second division in 1990 will also nod reminiscently, as the vision of those relentless troops is conjured up by their mind’s eye.  The energy, the commitment, the refusal to give in.  One game at Elland Road, Sunderland kicked off at the start and within five seconds, they had been dispossessed and were defending desperately as the white tide washed over them.  Those were the days.  This lot?  There’s simply no comparison.

In 1990, Gordon Strachan was the jewel in the United crown.  We have our jewel today in Ross McCormack, but it’s not set in a crown – more like a pile of the stuff well-fed pigs leave behind.  Leeds have some good players, but team spirit seems non-existent and there appears to be no identifiable ethic of getting out there and getting stuck in for the shirt, the badge and the fans.  In 1990, Strachan was ably supported by the likes of Vinnie Jones, Mel Sterland, Chris Fairclough and a pugnacious young midfield Rottweiler called David Batty, together with the nascent elegance of Gary Speed. McCormack in today’s shower has the air of a man who knows that, if the job’s going to get done, he’s going to have to do it largely by himself.

This latest United match at Vicarage Road marked the start of a new era, the beginning of a time when off-field worries, such as deferred wages and the lack of clarity over ownership, could be forgotten.  What better time to roll up the sleeves and run out with a snarl on the lips and fire in the belly, determined to get some blood on their boots?  But no.  It was, if anything, an even more pallid performance than the ones United fans have witnessed and raged over at far too many points in the last few months.  Leeds United are running out of time, running out of excuses (though they manage to recycle and re-use those) – and running out of the patience their sorely-tried yet still magnificent support is prepared to afford them.

The gap between Leeds and the relegation pack is now down to a mere eight points.  Another win and maybe a draw should be enough to see them safe – and safety is clearly the upper limit of ambition for a team as devoid of application and bottle as this one. Where those points will come from is anyone’s guess – that’s assuming they come at all.  Blackpool at home next weekend seems the best chance, but the Seasiders are also embroiled in the dog-eat-dog struggle at the bottom.  Everybody is aware of the current malaise at Leeds and teams are facing us expecting to win.  Blackpool will be disappointed with anything less than three points from their visit to LS11.

Barnsley away?  Forget it.  We always lose there, usually by a good few goals.  Barnsley might be less than world-class, but they are fighters.  Then it’s two home games against Forest and Derby, with an away date at Birmingham sandwiched in between.  One point out of nine from those three, maybe. If Leeds do escape relegation, it will be by less than a comfortable margin, and we’ll have done the deed by virtue of performances prior to Christmas – before the wheels fell off.

Whatever the rest of the season holds for us, it’s impossible to be anything other than pessimistic.  There is simply no reason for any belief that things might suddenly improve – and if the current attitude and form carries on, then our points total now may well not have changed by close of play on the first weekend in May.  And if that’s the case, we’ll have to rely on three of the teams below us failing to overhaul our meagre points total.  Dear me, I’m becoming rather depressed.

Still, tomorrow night it’s hopefully cheer-up time with Man U hosting an end of era party.  I shall be watching and hoping that they crash out of Europe because that would restore my spirits considerably.  But it’s a sad thing when Schadenfreude (no, that’s not a Bayern centre-back) is all that you have to rely on for your jollies, your own team being so utterly and lamentably crap.  If Massimo Cellino is going to restore the good times to Elland Road – aided by those long-lost, much-missed allies Pride and Passion – well, it still promises to be a long and arduous, slow climb back up to the heights I remember Wilko’s Warriors attaining.  Then again, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  I wonder if that step might be taken sometime this week??

Buona fortuna, Massimo.

Play-Off Karma Drama as Watford Sink Leicester to Book Wembley Berth

Happy Gianfranco Zola

Happy Gianfranco Zola

Given the incredible outcome of this game, it would be tempting to dismiss the first 94 of the 97 minutes as irrelevant. That would of course be the greatest injustice to a fine game which had already yielded three wonderful goals; first a brilliant finish from Matej Vydra as the ball dropped from behind him over his left shoulder for a terrific left-foot volley past the helpless Schmeichel. Then the reliable Nugent found space at the far post to rise and guide a great header just out of Almunia’s reach to level the match and put Leicester back ahead, 2-1 on aggregate. Half time, and it was “as you were” with City retaining the lead they’d gained in the first leg at the King Power Stadium.

As the second half progressed, Watford were hammering away and Leicester – although pressed back constantly – seemed to be coping relatively well. Home manager Gianfranco Zola knew he had to change things, and he acted to replace Lloyd Doyley with Fernando Forestieri. Within a matter of minutes, Watford produced a quite excellent team goal, Vydra playing an immaculate one-two with Troy Deeney to score his second from just inside the area. So, we were all square again, and the nearer the match edged to full-time, the more it looked as if an extra 30 minutes were inevitable.

The full ninety had already ticked by and the match was well into six minutes injury time when Anthony Knockaert made his fateful move down the Watford left flank. Showing trickery and strength, he shrugged off a foul challenge outside the box, but then as he progressed into the area, a much lighter touch felled him. As if in slow motion, referee Michael Oliver assessed the situation, failed to call it for the dive it was and pointed to the spot. Watford players were anguished and amazed, Zola on the touchline was clearly stunned, showing with every line of his being that he could see a whole season’s work going up in smoke right at the death. Knockaert placed the ball on the spot as Leicester’s travelling hordes prepared to celebrate Wembley, the penalty was hit low and down the middle but not with great force – and there was Almunia’s trailing foot to stop the ball. Still, Knockaert was closing in on the rebound, surely poised to hammer the ball into the net and finish the matter, but Almunia did it again, rising to his knees to flail an arm at the loose ball, deflecting it to a defender who gratefully belted it out of the area.

And now Lady Luck performed one of those graceful pirouettes for which she is rightly famed. As the Leicester players were still coming to terms with their failure to seal the tie, Watford showed no such distraction, playing the ball out to the right and flooding support into Leicester’s own penalty area. The ultimate end-to-end finale was playing out now, as the ball was crossed from near the right hand corner flag, beyond the far post where sub Jonathan Hogg beat Schmeichel in the air to head down precisely for the onrushing Deeney, who slammed the ball gleefully, unanswerably, into the Leicester net. 3-1 on the day, when it could so easily have been 2-2. 3-2 to Watford on aggregate, when that score had looked like being reversed in City’s favour. The Leicester players stood waiting for the restart as the pitch was cleared of jubilant Hornets fans, transfixed and disbelieving at the turn of events which had seen certain victory turn to catastrophic defeat. A few more seconds, and it was over.

Ironically, of course, if Knockaert had stayed honest and stayed on his feet instead of going down so easily, the game would probably have gone into extra time, and who knows what might then have happened. On such twists of fate are whole seasons decided, and karma had come to Knockaert in its cruellest form, landing the most clinical of knockout blows. He ended up in tears, wandering around the pitch after the whistle, uncomprehending as his desolate team-mates tried in vain to comfort him. Over the two games of this tie, it’s fair to say that Watford deserved to progress, so for once justice was done, and seen by millions to be done in the most dramatic and entertaining manner. But spare a thought for the hapless Anthony Knockaert, hero (albeit with feet of clay) to villain in the space of a few seconds as his world turned upside down. That’s life – and Leicester will continue their life in the Championship next season. Watford, meanwhile, march on con brio – full of confidence. They will now be optimistic of completing their Italian Job and winning promotion at Wembley.