This Saturday me and my friends Chris & Steve continued the traditional attendance to watch our teams Leeds and Birmingham play each other. This time around it was slightly more special as both Oli and Luke (Chris and Steves sons) were attending their first ever away match to watch their team Birmingham play.
After the previous meeting this season in Birmingham, which saw our sides battle out a 1-1 draw both our sides have had differing seasons. My beloved Leeds United just can’t buy a win and find ourselves one place above the relegation zone. Birmingham City on the other hand are the “form side” and with a new management team in place are up to the dizzy heights of 12th. Not bad considering they were all set to struggle yet again after their dramatic last day escape act at Bolton last season.
We met up at Leicester services and despite arriving safely had the first drama of the day. I’d sat in the car far too long with the heating and radio on and because of this drained the battery. What followed were comical scenes as we tried to jump start a power steered car around a car park on the M1. At the second time of trying we got there and were all relieved as my car whirred into action.
The drive up was equally dramatic with various periods of black skies throwing down sleet and snow as we got further North. At one point we saw the clearest rainbow and almost passed the end of it. It was so clear you could even make out the Indigo band, sadly no gold pot was to be seen.
With the car finally Parked up we wandered down a familiar path to me with some new additions, each footstep closer the buzz of anticipation grew. A quick stop at Greigs provided us with cheap food and hot drinks to keep us going.
As we arrived at Elland Road I showed Oli and Luke around our club shop which in comparison to Birminghams is about ten times the size. We had a walk around the outside of the ground, saw the Billy Bremner statue and had our photo taken outside the stand of the ground.
As we peered through the gap from inside out to the ground the snow was hammering down. A bitter cold swirl of air felt as we pondered finding our seats. We were welcomed by wet seats despite being under cover, the wind can be cruel. A quick dry with our hats and coats and we were ready. The anticipation evident with just under 24,000 fans sat down following their prematch ritual be it a beer or a pie, or both.
The game was frantic from the off and despite an early penalty given to Birmingham which was duly converted by Caddis, Leeds were always dangerous. As the first half came to an end Leeds were knocking on the door and a cross looked to have been bundled in by Belusci only to see it somehow clawed away off the line by Randalph. Oli and Luke did well, I know how difficult it is not cheering when my team has scored, they were unmoved.
The second half saw both sides hit the woodwork and debatable decisions not go the right way. Three penalty calls were all turned away as the tension grew. As the game headed into the last five minutes Luke Murphy was the saviour. He maintained his cool and steered the ball home on the half volley from just inside the penalty area.
A draw was a fair result and one that keeps Leeds United unbeaten against Birmingham City over the last two seasons. Everybody enjoyed themselves which at the end of the day is what it’s all about.
Luke and Oli both ticked off a big achievement from the life list and I look forward to having them both back next season. That is if we can hang onto our status in the Championship this season!
Last season it lasted approximately 12 minutes before Ulloa silenced the Elland Road faithful on the opening day. All the expectation, anticipation, excitement and faith extinguished quickly before most fans had even sat on their seats and familiarized themselves with the new players. Fortunately last season we turned it around and one of last seasons successes Luke Murphy scored an injury time winner to see Leeds win 2-1. Those same feelings extinguished after 12 minutes returning for at least until the next game.
This blog isn’t about the criticism of last seasons debacle but to highlight what most people in this country are feeling this morning as we sip our morning coffees and teas. It is the first Saturday of the new season and how bloody exciting is it?
We have been pretty fortunate to have a World Cup to keep us entertained during this break, one that for best parts kept our football fix satisfied despite England’s expected early failures. I for one am gutted that the magic disappearing spray (the World Cup highlight for me) won’t be gracing the Football League this season. Mind you knowing our luck it’ll probably end up destroying the sacred grass on Elland Road, let the Premiership boys try it out first on our Non Brazilian Grasses!
Leeds United fans are used to football dramas on and off the field and despite the change of ownership at Elland Road nobody could’ve scripted the latest change around. In a Summer that’s seen our new Italian owner Cellino dramatically change every detail possible in a bid to stop the club rotting away, every day has had it’s fresh challenges.
An unknown coaching team have been put in place to replace the failed Reverend McDermott and sidekick Gibbs. Thorp Arch was closed during the off season in a bid to reduce running costs and the players asked to take packed lunches on their pre season tour. Back room staff and old Leeds greats slashed off the wage bills. These things have managed to take a chink out of the rediculous running costs that had drained our club of any chance of survival. Of course the trashy tabloids found it hilarious and in an attempt to rile the majority of Leeds fans by reporting on every minor event happening.
In a summer that saw us release the dead wood, prevent previously agreed deals from going through, seeing our captain sold to a rival championship club and since announced they are the biggest club he’s played for, we have seen it all. Many fans have been vocal in support for the new regime, I’m certainly one of them.
Cellino has been a breath of fresh air and now after 3 months of hard work we find ourselves here, waiting for 3pm to arrive. On most days a trip to Millwall would engulf passion based purely on our rivalry and quite extreme hatred for each other, today it’s got an almost calming and surreal feeling to the seasons curtain raiser.
Marco Silvestri, Gaetano Berardi, Stuart Taylor, Tommaso Bianchi, Nicky Ajose, Steve Morison, Souleymane Doukara and Zan Benedicic welcome to Leeds United. Embrace the opportunity you have to play for our club. The first day of a new season awaits and you guys all have the chance to be part of something big. This feeling is amazing and one that just sits there and becomes even more prominent as the clock ticks ever closer to 3pm.
To all fans around the country feeling the same about their own clubs it doesn’t need me to tell you to savior the moment. We all have our own expectations and targets for this new season and I’m pretty sure they all start with 3 points on the opening day and the hope the new signings prove to be as exciting as we’d all hoped.
Let’s hope for Leeds fans today the expectation and excitement lasts longer than 12 minutes!
This week I listened to the latest interview with eccentric Italian owner Massimo Cellino. Chronic hay fever put aside it was one of the most passionate and exciting interviews I’ve heard since the Champions League years. With Cellino in charge we most certainly seem to be going in the right direction. We have heard many people spout out words in the past with very little substance, ever since Cellino fought the football league to take control he has backed up everything with action. A well known saying actions speak louder than words, Cellino certainly delivers both which is quite exciting in all honesty.
On our Italian tour Leeds United played their first preseason friendly against a local amateur side FC Gheirdeina. The scoreline of 16-0 certainly raised a few eyebrows and the photo above confirmed that United were dominant from start to finish. Most encouraging moments included a first half hat trick for Noel Hunt and a second half double hat trick for Matt Smith. The latter has been subject to a bid from Millwall which Cellino dismissed immediately by saying I like Matt Smith, he is one we can build a team around. Let’s see where this one goes.
Cellino followed up by saying that he would like to build a stronger team spirit and can’t believe that the squad turns up to home games from their own homes. A team coach is the next purchase on his list and he has also made it clear that he expects all players to live in Leeds. This is music to my ears, I love the passion that our owner is expressing, it all makes complete sense. Massimo also confirmed in one of the most encouraging snippets of his interview that Leeds are nearly debt free pending a deal with GHFC, it’s all positive.
Despite selling Ross McCormack the squad has seen three permanent new signings who are now training and involved in our Italian preseason tour. There are also a couple of loan deals that have options to extend if their season proves to be successful which is a shrewd move. Cellino has sold the dream to the Italian players and stipulated that they must learn English to be part of Leeds United. This is a special project and they want to be part of it. One things for sure we are potentially attracting better players on lower salaries. The overpriced UK market was confirmed by the £11m that Fulham paid for McCormack, I still find it laughable but I’m not complaining.
Above we have Tommaso Bianchi and Souleymane Doukara who have joined on a 3 year deal and 12 month loan respectively. These are in addition to Matt Taylor and Marco Silvestri who have joined on 2 year and 4 year Deals.
I will repeat myself by saying it’s very exciting right now with Leeds United and I’m hoping the small number of negative twitter trolls get on board and move along, this is the best option for us suffering fans. It’s never dull at our club, let’s see what this week brings.
In a week that started with more Tuesday night humiliation who could have predicted the way it would play out by Friday evening. Following his successful purchase of Leeds United, Massimo Cellino celebrated in the way most Yorkshire folk do, by hitting the local for a pint or two.
In an alternative look at this weeks events we start at The Old Peacock. Massimo Cellino has just secured his purchase of Leeds United and in the process posed for a photo or two with some fans. Massimo quipped in a somewhat believable Yorkshire/Italian accent that “he was-a extremely excited, hey hey, a, bellisimo pleased to be-a in charge of ze greatest team in a England” he followed this by saying “hey up love, I’ll av another pint of 1919”
David “Devil” Haigh hits the local news by stating his intent to join Massimo as his Chief of stationery ordering, it’s at this point nobody questions his purchase of security equipment via his Staples online account. This turns out to come back and haunt him as the week draws to an end. David is politely told by Massimo to “join the devil and burn in hell” it’s still not clear who he means as last week Haigh was referred to as the devil by Massimo.
The Square Ball threw their opinions out into the open and the most creative cover seen in a long time confirmed what we’d all feared. Poor old Brian has been controlled by Haigh, Patel and Narooooodin. Sadly for us it’s become apparent that despite the harmony we were led to believe, Brian has been pulled in all directions. It’s still a mystery as to who controlled his hand that threw his little notepad in the dug out. The said notepad was last seen in the Vicarage Road turf as Wootton and Lees gave Watford a 3rd goal.
Friday saw the most bizarre twist yet as Cellino opened up an Order Confirmation addressed to the Chief of Stationery ordering. Nobody knows the exact date of this document but it confirmed the purchase of some not so discreet security cameras. Some think it could date back to the purchase of Gold Fish in the Quidsdale days, however if this is the case then he negotiated some pretty damn good repayment terms which makes it highly unlikely, ruling him out.
Once Massimo called in the CSI Leeds crime lab to carry out a thorough sweep of Elland Road, Haigh quickly departed grasping his belongings including the shiny Leeds scarf he wore for his photos at the club. Now whilst the timing of his resignation is purely coincidental the further discovery of cameras in the toilets has done little to help his defense.
As I sat in the pub convincing myself that the tip I had for the Grand National would come good, something better happened. Rewind back a couple of hours and Leeds United were extremely unlucky going down to another defeat at Wigan. A Jack Butland mistake was the difference between a side firmly in the play offs and a Leeds side playing for the Summer.
Now going back to the better thing that happened, the news broke that Massimo Cellino had won his appeal against the football league. I had to pinch myself at first, not because of the news but because of the timing of it. For once it couldn’t have happened at a better time, as the players were left to think through another defeat, a lift of positive proportions was presented to the club.
I am still a little bit uncertain as to what this will bring but I do now know that anything can be expected. One of the first thoughts in my head was about our manager, how long will he last? The interview that hit social media last week was pretty damning but frankly honest. It is safe to say that those fans who hounded Cellino away from Elland Road on the night of the January transfer window ending are the same ones phoning McDermott and giving him abuse.
I have always sat on the side of the team and where sometimes I’ve expressed my disappointment, I’ve always understood the reasons as to why we are in this situation. The manager is the right person to lead Leeds United forward, it just seems that we need to see what Cellino wants. He was quoted as saying he wants a coach, not a manager, let’s see if this is still the case once he settles in at Elland Road.
One of the other questions on people’s lips is will Cellino still team up with Farnam and his Together Leeds consortium? I’m not too sure about this one, part of me thinks that now he is in control, he doesn’t need to go off course to his own plans. This guy is a self made multi millionaire who likes to make his own decisions. The one fact that remains is that we suddenly have the financial clout to compete.
So as we head into the new week we will see the way that things go. One thing for certain is David Haigh will still be at Elland Road. Personally I think he has been very true and loyal to the club, through these hard times he has still been there to face it front on. I think his role is important as we look to move onwards into the new dawn.
Let’s enjoy this news for what it is and hope we finally get to see some positive changes that we all crave. I’m excited to be at Vicarage Road on Tuesday night to see the first game under our new owners. Oh going back to the Grand National, my horse didn’t even finish, let alone win.
It’s safe to say that frustration reached boiling point after our home defeat to Charlton. It was so much that even our loyal Captain received his fair share of criticism following his 94th minute penalty miss that denied Leeds a much needed point. The debate amongst fans of the club and supporters across the country is where would Leeds United be without Roscos goals? The findings make pretty disturbing reading, even though 2014 has been a terrible year for Leeds.
It’s at this point that I understand we simply wouldn’t have played minus Ross McCormack. This is based on taking his goals away from our tally. Assume for the point of this post that we have Noel Hunt playing in his place. In fairness this would be pretty accurate! 😉 It is also worth reiterating that when I say with or without Ross I mean with or without his goals scored.
Leeds first league win?
With Ross in the side, Leeds United secured a last minute 2-1 victory against Brighton on the opening day at Elland Road. Without Ross we would have to wait until the first game of September where a 1-0 win away at Bolton was achieved courtesy of a Luke Varney 6th minute strike.
Longest Unbeaten Run?
With Ross in the team, an unbeaten run of 5 matches in December propelled Leeds towards the play off places. Without Ross in this Leeds team would see the side manage a season best 3 match unbeaten run (1 win & 2 draws) during the same month.
Longest winless run?
With Ross in the side the longest we have had to wait for a victory is 7 matches stretching over the Christmas period and the whole of January. Without Ross it is the last 11 matches we haven’t won in.
Victories that were lost?
That memorable 4-2 victory at The Valley that included a delayed kick off and a 4 goal masterpiece from Ross would have turned into a miserable 2-0 defeat. The impressive 2-0 home victory against promotion chasing Wigan (our best performance all season) would’ve been a 0-0 affair. Beating Yeovil 2-0 at Elland Road once again would’ve been a 0-0 draw without Ross and our last victory against Millwall would have ended in a 1-1 draw.
With Ross McCormack and his league goals we find ourselves sat in 15th position comfortably ahead of the Relegation Zone with 7 games remaining. Without Ross not only would we be rock bottom in 24th position but we would be 10 points behind 23rd place Yeovil with the worst goal difference in the league on 24 points and minus 35.
The scary fact is that without Ross McCormack we would have only won 4 matches this season whilst scoring 23 goals. The even more disturbing fact is the slump we find ourselves in with him in the side. Since the turn of the year we have only won 12 points from 16 matches, without Ross we would only have 6 points in 2014.
With Ross McCormacks Goal
P W D L F A G/D PTS Position
39. 13. 8. 18. 52. 58 -6. 47. 15th
Without Ross McCormacks Goals
P W D L F A G/D PTS Position
39. 4. 12. 23.23. 58 -35. 24. 24th
I think we need to make sure his contribution is recognized in what has been a challenging season. The 2013/14 season needs to be quickly put to bed. Once the future of our club is decided one thing is for sure, their will be a big overhaul in the Summer. The biggest decision is will it be under the leadership of Brian McDermott or not?
We all expected the Football League to drag their heels in, some of us even thought there would be a long list of stipulations for Cellino to stick to. This morning however the majority of fans and people in the football world were left stunned by the veto shown to Cellino. Now again Leeds United are in turmoil, the victim, a future of uncertainty returns to our once great club.
The last eight weeks have been one hell of a Roller Coaster in our recent history. We have seen a potential buyer told to sling his hook by the football league despite our initial reservations over his suitability. Our manager Brian McDermott was fired and rehired amongst a barrage of confusion, who now is being questioned about his suitability to turn things around. Finally we find GFH Capital, the investment bankers running our club struggling to sell our money leaking ship, how they were deemed Fit & Proper by the Football League is certainly questionable.
So where are we now?
Despite David Haigh reassuring fans that Administration is extremely unlikely, there are those out there that think it may happen. Danny Mills our former defender thinks it should happen sooner rather than later. So what damage would this do if GFH went down this route? Well Leeds United would certainly lose 10 points minimum which would slot us in with Birmingham City five points above the Relegation Zone.
Ross McCormack along with our other tangible assets would be sold and the club stripped back down to make it an appealing sale. Some would argue that this could open the club up to anybody with a few pounds to their name, but would this be a good thing?
David Haigh has strong commercial ties with Red Bull, so maybe there is some substance in his statement that Leeds United would not go into Administration should the Cellino takeover fall through. There are also rumours that Mike Farnham and his Love Leeds group could now be hurried to the negotiation table. I think that GFH would be aggrieved to sell the club to them at a far lower price to what Cellino agreed.
Maybe just maybe David Haigh has managed to convince our hero Vinnie Jones to part with his Hollywood Milllions? Now this is highly unlikely and a lovely fictional scenario, but how cool would this be? It was obvious to all that having Jones at Elland Road on Saturday inspired the team. It could’ve been part of the master plan to show Jones around the club and treat him to the best hospitality that could be offered. The three points were the icing on the cake and Vincent couldn’t wait to throw his money at the club. 😉
Whatever happens it will be a tense few days for all those involved with the club. I was initially disappointed with the Football League and their dismissive attitude towards Cellino, however part of me thinks the King of Corn will return. It’s possible that his sons could be involved and Cellino Senior could bankroll the takeover.
It’s certainly never dull being a Leeds United fan, Bournemouth away tomorrow, three points needed!
Following our quite frankly disgraceful performance against Bolton and disturbing hour against Reading which were both at Elland Road, most were left wondering why they had paid their money to visit the leagues second placed team last weekend. The fact that we are still the best supported Away team in the whole of England confirms just how determined we are as fans. Through adversity and confusion we still made sure that our confidence drained team had a vocal support to push them on as best we could. They say the 12th man is vital for a team, for Leeds United fans it feels like pushing a lorry full of washing machines up a steep hill with the aid of a pallet truck. I’m not quite sure who or whom each analogy relates to, but I think most fans of Leeds understand what I mean.
It drives me full of frustration when I see a side like Burnley who has been in the Premier League recently. They will barring a complete slip up be there again next season. The reason of frustration is not just the envy, it’s coupled by the town and surroundings that house the team. Burnley is just a strange place, the grey clouds seem to have attached themselves to the town and the fans are just horrible. It sounds bitter, but I am so pleased that I am not connected to this club. Being a Leeds United fan is much more than being in the Premier League, we actually have so much more going for us despite the unreal plight and situation we find ourselves in. Where Elland Road has been modernized throughout these troubled years, Turf Moor is a dated snapshot of the past. I think the chair I was sat in formed part of the original ground, not that I sat in it mind you.
The game was full of missed opportunities that seem to follow us around. Top scorer Ross McCormack scored a deft header that really should’ve put us 2-0 clear heading into the break. Instead we saw his goal cancelled out by Burnleys first attack that resulted in an own goal steered past Jack Butland. This was all that happened for them, their fans rightly pleased to be level in a half we outplayed them in.
The second half saw us try and play some patient football. But as soon as we couldn’t clear the ball and were punished for this, we kept trying to hit long balls up to the attack. This became repetitive and disheartening and Burnley saw the match out. Brian McDermott looked rightly frustrated as he trudged off whilst Sean Dyche looked chuffed to pieces.
The journey back gave me time to reflect and I think it’s clear to see that the current team are trying their hardest. It’s the confusion and unknowns going on in the background that are causing the greatest concerns. We now find ourselves in 15th position but we are a long way clear of the bottom three. It’s also worth remembering that there are far worse teams than us in this league.
Meeting Andy Hughes on the way back to my car made me question a true hero. He is someone in modern day Leeds United history who understood what it meant to play for the club. It’s clear and sometimes easy to forget that not everybody is of the same mould. Andy Hughes is a very good example of a modern day player who realized how important and lucky he was to represent Leeds United. Andy thank you for making that time to say hi and pose for a photo.
For the rest of us we dream of beating Millwall this Saturday and hope that Cellino can get past this guilty verdict of Tax Evasion. It’s never dull at Elland Road!
I’ve been a Leeds United fan for as long as I can remember, thanks Dad! Where I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed experienced the thrills of winning the title in 1992 when I was 13, I can say the heartbreaks of losing at Bolton & Home to Ipswich have made me stronger over the years.
These last few weeks have made me think long and hard about what’s going on at Elland Road. I kinda got the whole lets get behind our manager and revolt against the decision to sack him which was handled terribly. However I made a valid point before the win at home to Huddersfield when I questioned if our response had been the same if Brian McDermott wasn’t so nice, transparent and genuine.
I waited for the barrage of abuse from fellow Leeds fans but was surprised to hear some support of my comments. You need to bear in mind that this was right after the attempted sacking of Brian and the emotion was raw. I also made my feelings known about getting behind Cellino and his bid to buy our club.
Where Sport Capital were failing to get the deal done in time so we could move on, Cellino was desperate to buy the club from GFH. You can’t blame GFH for accepting the bid from Cellino, especially as he wanted a quick transaction. Contracts were duly exchanged and now we wait on the decision from the Football League to see if he meets their criteria.
Let’s get a few things straight about Cellino. He wants to buy our club and he wants to buy back Elland Road. He understands the importance of focussing on one club and has put the wheels in motion to sell Cagliari. He has the finances in place to realize the dream of strengthening a playing side that can get promotion.
Cellino has numerous contacts and has proven in Europe that Coaches work better than Managers. He may get through them, but he wants success and when parting with £25m then why the hell are we to question him? Basically who cares about his past? These were a long time back and not all Football related. Cagliari have always been financially supported and he has kept them in Serie A. This is exactly what we need and should be craving for, our Leeds United back in the Premiership.
The bottom line is to enjoy this possibility then we need to back Cellino. We need to take this opportunity because how many times have we had cash rich prospective owners who never actually materialized. The list is long…..
Let’s say Celli-yes and stop being so stubborn and resistant to the exciting possibility of realizing our dreams.