Cameron Stewart looks to be the
first arrival to ER in January


Max would be “an expensive deal”
according to the Leeds manager


BMac appears to quietly fancy
the return of Becchio to ER

Tues Dec 31st. Mac’s on the transfer trail – YEP. Leeds United manager Brian McDermott has confirmed he is fairly well ‘down the line’ regarding the capture of one of his January transfer targets – and wants to do all of his incoming recruitment sooner rather than later next month.  The transfer window opens tomorrow and United are being strongly linked with a move for Hull City winger Cameron Stewart, whose loan spell at Charlton is due to end after their New Year’s Day clash at Ipswich Town. Stewart will be out of contract in the summer with the 22-year-old recently acknowledging that his days at the KC Stadium are virtually numbered, with the Mancunian effectively on the look-out for a new club. Charlton would ideally like to keep the wingman, but it is thought finances could be an issue. McDermott revealed he spoke to one target and his agent yesterday, having given the club a list of four transfer targets. But one name on his wish-list has been chalked off, with the player set to join a Premier League club instead. Confirming he spoke to an unnamed player and agent yesterday, McDermott – whose side start 2014 at home to Blackburn Rovers tomorrow afternoon –said: “They (club owners) told me to have that conversation and I think what I have to do is try and line things up first and then go to the owners and say: ‘Look, this is what we have to do, can we do this deal?’ That’s what I’ve done in the past. “I have had a conversation (with another target) and that’s not going to happen. He’s going to go to the Premier League apparently, so that’s that. “There’s a couple of players who we would (also) have to do deals with, with other clubs and then you would have to go from there. That’s where we are at and I’d like to think things will hopefully fall into place. “Transfer deadline day right at the end (of January) is exciting, but it doesn’t do it for me. I’d rather it was done and dusted beforehand and I think it’s important to try and get players in as early as you can. I’m not one for trying to get one done, so Sky Sports can do a big piece on it at midnight. “With one particular one, we think we are fairly down the line. That’s a start.” One player who has also been linked with a return to United is former fans favourite Max Gradel, currently at St Etienne. McDermott acknowledges he has monitored the form of Gradel, 26, but he will not be pursuing his signing on sentiment alone and will only do so if it is right for the club, with several factors to consider. He said: “I think with Max Gradel, it’s going to be an expensive deal. He was very good for Leeds United two-and-a-half years ago. But you can’t sign a player on the back of what happened then – that’s wrong. “I’ve got a scout in France who has seen him play a few times so I have done my homework on that situation. “I know how many games he’s played and goals he’s scored and how many times he’s come off the bench. (But) I wouldn’t just do a deal because he was a favourite at Leeds. It needs to be the right player for now at this time. That’s not to say Max wouldn’t be that player, it’s just we need to make sure my homework is right and everything is in the right order because it won’t be a cheap deal.”  McDermott admits he is unsure about the availability of another Elland Road old boy linked with a return to the club earlier this season in Luciano Becchio, firmly down the pecking order at Norwich City. McDermott said: “He plays for someone else and I wouldn’t know if he’s available or not. We’ll see.” Stewart is expected to return north after his four-month stint at Charlton ends tomorrow, having also spent spells on loan at Burnley and Blackburn last season. Speaking about his future just before Christmas, the ex-Manchester United winger said: “My contract is coming to an end at Hull and once it ends that will be it. “I had a great time at Hull and it’s great to see them doing well in the Premier League. But if there was any chance of them extending my deal, then I’m sure I’d have heard something by now. “At the moment, I’m going to have to find a new job, so it is about playing as well as I can and scoring as many goals as I can because I’m in the shop window.” Soccer - Neil Warnock File Photo

Tues 31st Mac has subtle pop at Warnock. “I look at where we are now and where we were in April … I think the previous manager did an article in a paper recently saying that all I needed to do was put the icing on the cake with the squad that he left. I am not sure that is correct. “When we came in in April, we definitely had issues as far as making sure we stayed in this division. Where the boys and club has come now with the ownership, manager, staff and players and fans, everybody is onside and going in the right direction. There’s no doubt about that. “No-one said it was going to be an instant job here. It certainly hasn’t been. But in the short period of time; we’re doing alright.” A festive haul of one point from admittedly tough Christmas tests at the City Ground and Bloomfield Road represented a disappointment, but you sense it was the goalless stalemate with lowly Barnsley just before Christmas which represented the main source of frustration. McDermott is the first to admit some offensive aspects of their last few performances could certainly have been better, with the issue of width – or a lack of it – having sporadically flared up. The Whites boss feels the supply line to the central strikers has left a fair bit to be desired of late, with the propensity to go long in their attempts to pick out Matt Smith having proved counter-productive – both for the team and their big targetman. A bit more subtlety and invention is required, according to McDermott, with some new options on the wing likely to be near the top of his wish list come the opening of the transfer window. McDermott, whose side welcome Blackburn Rovers at Elland Road to herald in the New Year tomorrow – their fourth game in the space of ten days – admitted: “I don’t think we are playing the way we want to play at this moment in time. “We need to get the ball through midfield and into the wide areas. It’s about the performance where the fans want to watch us as well. Listen, we all want to win; no-one more than me. But we want to try and evolve and get in a situation where we are playing really good football. That’s the ideal scenario. “You can get a bit of stick when you don’t win games. That’s fine, we expect that, because we are Leeds United.But there’s a certain honesty about the group, which I like. They are trying every single game. With half the season to go, let’s see where we can take this team.“We have to play on the front foot and take the game to Blackburn and it’s important we get crosses in and attack and get shots in and play exciting football. Predominantly, we’ve done that at home quite well. The Barnsley game was a disappointing result, which we should have nicked, but didn’t. Previous to that, our home form has been really, really good.We need to get back to creating things. We’ve had a spell when we’ve gone too long into Matt Smith and we need to play through midfield and get crosses in. I feel really sorry for Matt as he’s challenging and working really hard. But we haven’t had enough crosses in during the past two or three games. That’s what we’ve got to work on for Blackburn.” United have come a long way since he took the reins in the spring when the club harboured some relegation genuine concerns. And while former boss Neil Warnock is of the view that Leeds only require just a few choice additions to potentially get over the line as regards a successful promotion crusade, McDermott doesn’t necessarily take that view.  When you consider where we were when we took on the club in April and where we were going and where we are now, I’d imagine that the majority of fans would say that seventh at this moment in time is something they would take.“I think the players have done us proud. They are working really, really hard. “We know our shortcomings and what we need to do. We know we need to improve and get players in.“But the most important thing is that the club is united. And that’s probably not been the case over a long period of time.”

Mon Dec 30th. McDermott chases four players. Brian McDermott has given Leeds United a list of four transfer targets with the group behind a takeover of the club expecting to secure Football League approval within days of the January window opening. Sources close to the impending buy-out of Leeds told the YEP last night that the governing body is likely to ratify the purchase of a 75 per cent stake in United once it reaches the end of the Christmas holiday period. The development came as McDermott voiced concern about the depth of his squad and highlighted the importance of new signings next month after Leeds lost 2-1 to Nottingham Forest yesterday. A tired display at the City Ground, where a stunning goal from Matt Derbyshire on 83 minutes knocked Leeds out of the Championship’s play-off zone, led McDermott to claim that his side would struggle to compete for a top-six finish without the arrival of players in January. His ability to sign them depends heavily on the completion of a takeover which is being fronted by United managing director David Haigh and backed by Andrew Flowers, a senior figure at Leeds’ shirt sponsor Enterprise Insurance. The consortium are on the verge of purchasing a majority shareholding from the club’s current owner, GFH Capital, having struck an agreement with the Dubai-based firm on November 30. United initially indicated that the sale would go through before the end of 2013 but the legalities and formalities of the change of ownership at Elland Road – among them the need for the Football League to approve the deal – appear to be close to completion. The January window opens in 48 hours’ time, however, and McDermott’s side will reach it in seventh position in the table after two draws and a defeat from their last three games. While revealing that he looks set to miss out on one of his targets to Premier League opposition, the boss said he was due to speak to another of his targets ahead of the Blackburn game on New Year’s Day. “I was meeting with a player on Monday,” revealed the boss. “One player that I was going to go for is looking like he is going to the Premier League so that one has gone. But I’m meeting with a player on Monday and I’ll be having a conversation with him and his agent to try and do a deal.” The boss says he has identified a small number of players he is interested in and is in ongoing discussions with the club’s owners about potential moves in January. “I’ve never put the owners under any pressure to do anything that they don’t want to do and what they don’t feel is right for the club,” said the boss. “I think that it is evident that we do need to add and help out the players that are already at the club. “I’ve spoken to the Chief Executive and I’ve got three or four players that I would be interested in trying to do deals with. We have to then try and do something with that. That is how it works. If we can, we can, if we can’t, we can’t. “If we can do a deal with the player and if we can do a deal with the club then I’m sure a lot of players would want to come to Leeds United.” Despite all the talk of strengthening, the boss has been quick to praise the efforts of his current squad. “I think that we have got a solid base now,” he said. “Scott Wootton is not in the team at this moment in time, Stephen Warnock is not in the team and Sam Byram hasn’t been playing. So if you look at that we look ok. “You look at it and you try to find the right options. I felt that against Barnsley and against Blackpool that we were solid. I though that we were unfortunate not to come away with 1-0 results. If that would have happened at Blackpool we would have said that it was a decent away performance. “I thought that it was an ok away performance but maybe you need something different sometimes. You need someone to just make the difference with the ball. Someone who can just create that little chance that could win you the game 1-0. “Ross is doing it. Ross is doing something that little bit different. He is a match winner and he did that against Doncaster when it was 1-0 and he scored an unbelievable goal. “Sometimes you just find a player that fits into a team and that just works. That happened for me at Reading with Jason Roberts. Jason was available and we took him. He was a big character and he lifted the dressing room. “Sometimes a player like that can just make that difference. People stand up and look at him as a character as someone who has been there, seen it and done it. They are the sort of players but they are few and far between.” Meanwhile Brian McDermott has explained that Ross mcCormack was taken off at the City Ground because he had a tight hamstring so I may owe him an apology on that one.It doesn’t however explain how Paul Green can’t get into the squad currently when he can play for Ireland at international level, though.


Nahki Wells would be a
superb capture



Sun Dec 29th. Making the right calls. Two points return from games over Christmas against Barnsley at home, Blackpool away, and Forest away is a very poor return. Before I go any further, let me say that Brian McDermott is doing very well as manager of Leeds United. He is building a club and not just a team .I’ll praise him when he does well but equally so I believe he made a few bad calls in our last few games which have cost us valuable points, and he will not be above criticism on these points. Fair enough we couldn’t break down Barnsley at home. These things can happen, and over all our home record has been impressive. However, Blackpool lost four on the bounce before taking on Leeds and also lost at home to Brighton after drawing against Leeds. Let’s face it we should have wiped the floor with a very poor Blackpool team. It was clear that Matt Smith was having a bad day, and very obvious that their two centre halves were both immobile and shaky in equal amounts. Dominic Poleon’s pace and link up play with McCormack may have brought that vital second goal that we craved and as it turned out needed so badly. Smith stayed on for the duration as he did for the full 93 minutes against Forest despite providing nothing in attack. McCormack our top scorer and goal scorer on the day was withdrawn. Mystifying ? Our midfield in both games contained Rudy Austin on the right side where the game simply passed him by, and Michael Brown at 36 was clearly not fit for two games in three days as the squad saw little or no rotation. We are level on points with Ipswich in the 6th play off position which many of us would have bitten your hand off for at the start of the season. Money is available to strengthen the squad. We must learn from these mistakes. We badly need pace in our team. A striker with pace is a necessity. McCormack can’t be expected to score all the goals on his own. Two wide players with pace are a necessity. Max Gradel and Nahki Wells of Bradford City would certainly fit my bill, although reading between theMacca1 lines I don’t think Macca fancies Max since has had had his injury with Saint Etienne. Wells of Bradford would be brilliant for us. Sam Byram must return at full back and a play maker in midfield may still be needed if Murphy can’t step up, although he has certainly improved in recent weeks. In our last two games we have badly missed Alex Mowatt. There is no dear doubt about that.Three quality additions to this team would make a hell of a difference. McDermott will have to be cute because he can’t outspend QPR, Leicester, or Forest but then they can’t sell any player a brand call Leeds United. The next few weeks should ne interesting and for once it will be nice to be looking forward to players coming in rather than going out at LS11.

Sunday Dec 29th. Norwood to choose Celts over Forest and Leeds ? This season has seen the Huddersfield’s Oliver Norwood player come out of his shell, and he has become one of the Championship‘s top box-to-box midfielders – hitting 884 passes, making 52 tackles, along with 19 goalscoring opportunities and 33 shots all in his 17 appearances.Celtic has made a reputation of ‘stealing’ top Championship talent, having signed Kris Commons (Derby), Gary Hooper (Scunthorpe) and Joe Ledley (Cardiff City), amongst others. And now The Bhoys look to have more in their sight with links with Craig Bryson (Derby), Ross McCormack (Leeds United) and now Huddersfield’s Oliver Norwood in the past couple of months. Celtic manager Neil Lennon has previously confirmed that the money is available, and that the club will be looking predominately at British based players in the January transfer window. With Huddersfield looking unlikely to mount a push for Promotion, then Celtic (and Champions League football next season) could look like a very attractive proposition for Norwood – if Lennon decides to pull the trigger on the player. Oliver Norwood is 4/1 favourite for a move North of the boarder to Celtic. Celtic are heavy favourites to land Huddersfield Town star Oliver Norwood, ahead of competition from Leeds United and Nottingham Forest, who both sit at 33/1. Norwood, 22, is a former Manchester United academy player, and has been at Huddersfield since 2012 after rejecting a contract from United to pursue first team football.  He has since become a integral part of Huddersfield’s side – playing 68 games in his 18 months at the club, scoring 6 goals.

Sunday Dec 29th. Leeds lose at Forest. FOREST 2 (Halford 23, Derbyshire 84), UNITED 1 (McCormack 83).  United:  Kenny, Lees, Zaliukas, Pearce, Peltier (Byram 69), Pugh, Brown (Ariyibi 60), Murphy, Austin, Smith, McCormack (Poleon 86). Subs. Cairns, Warnock, Tonge, Varney. Referee:  J Linington Booked: Jara (Forest), Brown, Austin (Leeds). Att:  26,854 (1,968 Leeds) Report from Official website There was one change from Brian McDermott for the visit to the City Ground to face Nottingham Forest. Luke Murphy returned to the side after serving his one-game suspension in the place of Michael Tonge, who was named among the substitutes. There was an early scare for United when Greg Halford closed down Paddy Kenny following a soft backpass in the opening minutes. The defender, who was playing up front, collided with the United keeper who required treatment before play could continue. United had chances in the opening 10 minutes, with the best falling to Danny Pugh, who arrived on the edge of the box following a cross, but his strike was blocked. The game’s lively opening continued as the match went on and the deadlock was broken in in the 23rd minute. The home side were granted a contentious free-kick which Andy Reid put into the danger area. Halford rose well at the back post and headed the ball over Kenny. The home side almost doubled their lead just minutes later when Reid broke forward and struck, but his strike went over the crossbar. Following the half-hour mark United had a good chance to level the game from a Murphy corner. The midfielder floated a great ball towards the back-post, which Tom Lees met but his powerful header was deflected behind. Another headed chance came United’s way moments later but Matt Smith nodded the ball wide. Just minutes later it was the home side who had a good chance in front of goal. Radoslaw Majewski had time and space in the United box and called Kenny into action with a shot towards the keeper’s near post. Kenny saved the attempt by knocking the ball round his post for a corner. The final chance of the half also fell to the home side when good build-up play led to the ball finding its way to Jamie Mackie at the back-post, but the striker could only smash it wide. There was little in the way of entertainment during the opening minutes of the second half, but the United boss moved to change things on the hour when he introduced Gboly Ariyibi for his debut. Moments later Kenny was called into action once again to protect his near post. Mackie broke forward for the home side and played Djamal Abdoun into space but Kenny was equal to the midfielder’s strike. With 20 minutes remaining Sam Byram was introduced to proceedings in place of Lee Peltier with the United manager adding a further attacking threat to his side. Following the introcduction of Byram United’s first substitute Ariyibi had a half chance to make an instant impact. The youngster snapped at the chance and his shot went out near the corner flag. With 10 minutes remaining Reid was inches away from putting the home side further ahead when he hit the post with a superb strike from distance. Following Reid hitting the upright United broke down the right with Byram. The defender crossed but his advances were cut-out but the rebound bounced to Ross McCormack who made no mistake in putting United level. United’s joy didn’t last long though, as less than one minute later the home side were back in front thanks to a fantastic strike from Matt Derbyshire who gave Kenny no chance. Brian McDermott responded by bringing Dominic Poleon off the bench and the striker had a chance within minutes, when he arrived late at the back-post but his header went wide of the mark. Five minutes of injury time was added on after the 90 but the home side kept United in their own half and limited the away side to very little in regards to attacking and advancing forward. The final score saw United lose 2-1 and slip to their first defeat in December.  BILLY Davies today said it would have been a ‘travesty’ had Nottingham Forest not secured victory over Leeds. “The second and the third goals were important. “I don’t think they would have complained had we scored more goals. They should never have got back into the game,” said Davies. “It would have been a travesty if we had not won. But we got a wonder-strike from Matt Derbyshire and we deserved the win.“I thought we were excellent in the first half, our position play was excellent. But we should have scored another two or three goals. The game should have been dead and buried by half time. “In the second half, it was a little more scrappy. We were a little bit loose. The game should have been done when they got their goal.“Our young central defender did not clear the ball properly, it hit the keeper in the chest and fell to their player. I am disappointed that we did not keep a clean sheet, because I thought we thoroughly deserved one.” Davies believes Forest are starting to be rewarded for their performance levels at the City Ground. “You guys have seen the games. Performance wise, we have played particularly well. We know that we have not been clinical,” he said. “I was pleased with the attitude of the team. We have achieved the first objective (by securing a place in the top six). Now we will look to the next few weeks.” 

Weds Dec 26th. Leeds drop points at Blackpool. Blackpool 1-1 Leeds United United: Kenny, Lees, Zaliukas, Pearce, Peltier, Pugh, Brown, Tonge, Austin, McCormack, Smith. Subs. Cairns, Wootton, Warnock, Byram, Ariyibi, Poleon, Varney. Referee: S Mathieson Booked: Broadfoot (Blackpool) Sent Off: Broadfoot (Blackpool) United manager Brian McDermott made two changes to his team for the Boxing Day clash at Bloomfield Road. Midfield duo Michael Brown and Michael Tonge came into the starting 11 for Alex Mowatt and the suspended Luke Murphy. There was a return to the matchday squad for the fit-again Scott Wootton and there was also a place on the bench for the first time for Gboly Ariyibi. The opening 15 minutes saw little in the way of goalmouth action for either side and it was a fairly even start to the contest. The game continued in the same manner until the 25th minute of the match when United took the lead. Good hold up play from Tonge left time for Danny Pugh to get in an advanced position on the left, he crossed the ball and Lee Peltier’s looping header at the back post evaded the goalkeeper and gave United the lead. The goal was Peltier’s first for the club. The home side had a good chance to level just minutes later when a corner was headed towards goal but good defending by Pugh blocked the effort. Another corner for the home side brought the next chance just after the half-hour mark. Tom Ince was the man with the delivery and Kirk Broadfoot met the cross, but smashed his header over the crossbar. The United defence dealt with everything that the home side had to offer in the first half with Marius Zaliukas and Tom Lees thwarting the Blackpool attackers. United had a half chance to double their advantage with minutes of the half remaining when Ross McCormack was put through. The Scot was up against two defenders and he was eventually crowded out. A chance came United’s way early in the second half when Jason Pearce clipped a Tonge corner towards goal, but his effort went just wide of the mark. There was chances for both sides with the hour mark approaching. First Jack Robinson struck a superb effort from distance that went over Paddy Kenny’s crossbar, then Rudy Austin latched onto a poor clearance but his shot went wide. On 65 minutes the home side were awarded a free-kick just yards outside the box. Barry Ferguson floated the ball into a packed penalty area, which United cleared but Ince pounced on the clearance and smashed the ball goalwards. The shot took a deflection and hit the back of the net. Moments later United had a free-kick of their own on the edge of the box when McCormack was brought down by Broadfoot. The Scot stepped up and took the deadball but the wall did its job and the ball went over the bar. With 15 minutes remaining Blackpool’s goalscorer threatened once again when he cut in from the wing, but the attacker’s strike went just wide of Kenny’s left-hand post. As the game went into the final 10 minutes it was the home side doing most of the pressing but it was United who had the best chance. McCormack was close to nicking a soft back pass but Gilks just managed to clear the ball. In the 90th minute the home side were dealt a late blow when defender Broadfoot was shown a straight red card for a bad challenge on Zaliukas. The sending off proved to be the final action of the match as United remain unbeaten in the month of December. This was a game Leeds should have won. Brian McDermott no doubt had one eye on the Forest game on Sunday with squad rotation in m indo, but his lack of substitutions in this match ultimately cost us two points, in my view. B’pool had a fortunate equaliser through a heavily deflected shot and should have been reduced to ten men with more than twenty minutes to go. Big Matt Smith was poor all afternoon and a combination of Poleon and McDermott would have caused them more problems. Poleon’s explosive pace against a cumbersome central duo may have given us the two goal buffer zone that we needed. Tonge and Brown were starting to tire in midfield like the ageing duo lacking match games that they were and B’pool used their bench fully. Tactically Macca got this one wrong in the second half, and we dropped four points from our last six (from a side who lost their last four games) and one who was bottom of the table.

Sat 21st of Dec. Leeds draw blanks v Barnsley. Leeds 0-0 Barnsley. United: Kenny, Lees, Zaliukas, Pearce, Peltier (Byram 46), Pugh, Mowatt (Tonge 46), Murphy (Poleon 79), Austin, Smith, McCormack. Subs. Cairns, Warnock, Brown, Diouf. Referee: K Stroud Booked: Murphy, Mowatt, Tonge, Austin (Leeds), Mellis, O’Brien, Butland (Barnsley). Sent Off: Tudgay (Barnsley). Att: 31,031 Report from LUFC. United manager Brian McDermott named the same starting line-up that won 3-0 away to Doncaster Rovers the previous weekend. Defender Danny Pugh was a doubt for the game but was passed fit to retain his place in the starting 11. There was a return to the matchday squad for El-Hadji Diouf, who was named among the substitiutes for the Yorkshire derby. The opening minutes saw striker Matt Smith have a glorious chance to give United the lead. Jason Pearce swung a long ball forward which the striker chested down, but he was denied by a fantastic point-blank save from Jack Butland. Just after the 10 minute mark Smith once again found himself having a sight at goal. The big striker managed to get on the end of a through ball from Ross McCormack after battling with Peter Ramage, his shot had the direction but lacked the desired power and Butland was able to save his strike. United continued to cause the away side problems as the half went on with Smith winning the aerial battle with the defence. McCormack and Rudy Austin were also breaking forward at pace and Smith was unlucky after he latched onto a McCormack cross. Midway through the half the away side came close after Bobby Hassell collected a Pearce clearance. Hassell carried the ball forward and struck from distance and his effort just just over Paddy Kenny’s crossbar, although the keeper looked to have the strike covered. After the 30-minute mark the momentum of the game switched in the favour of the away side and they had two half chances. First Jim O’Brien broke forward but his effort went wide of the mark, then moments later Marcus Tudgay had a headed attempt saved by Kenny. With five minutes of the half remaining Tudgay out-foxed Marius Zaliukas and latched onto the end of a punt up field, but the striker blasted his effort wide. Before the referee could blow for half time Smith rose well to meet a Pearce cross that was floated in, but the striker’s powerful header went just over the bar. There was a double change at half time for United as Sam Byram and Michael Tonge were introduced in place of Lee Peltier and Alex Mowatt, who picked up a yellow card in the first half. The opening minute saw Pugh strike a superb effort from wide on the left. The wing-back unleashed a great effort and was denied by a great save from Butland, who pushed the effort over the bar. Tonge almost made an immediate impact when he shot at goal from 20-yards out, Butland was there once again to keep United at bay. Moments later good play by McCormack led to Pugh shooting at goal but his effort was blocked by the defence. United’s start to the second half continued to the hour mark when the home side had a number of chances to take the lead. The two best chances fell to McCormack, first the Scot had a strike saved and then his fast-reaction header was saved brilliantly again by Butland. Austin was the man to have the next attempt for United. The midfielder found himself wide on the left but he still managed to hit the target with a curled effort, but the keeper saved his advances. The away side created their first chance of the second period with 20 minutes of the game remaining. A defensive mix-up at the back for United led to Jacob Mellis having a sight at goal, but he could only hit the ball into the side netting. Barnsley were in once again just minutes later but O’Brien’s shot was saved well by Kenny. Moments later great work by Smith led to the striker having a strike at Butland’s goal. This time the keeper was beaten but Smith’s shot went centimetres wide of the mark. Following Smith’s effort Dominic Poleon was added to the attack in place of Luke Murphy. In the 84th minute the away side were dealt a blow to their afternoon when Tudgay recieved a straight red card for a bad challenege on Zaliukas. For the remaining minutes United attacked the 10-men of Barnsley, but the away side looked to be holding on. Six minutes of injury time was added on after the 90 but United couldn’t break the South Yorkshire side down and the game ended goalless. Leeds portrayed their limitations when one of their “Bogey teams” again took valuable points from them at Ellan Road. Matt Smith could and should have scored two in the first half but in truth the Tykes were well worth their point as Leeds were blunt throughout the park, and lacked any real creativity. Roll on January for real width.  We got a result and we take the point,” said Brian McDermott at the end of a goalless draw which defied supposed wisdom about Barnsley. The club are bottom of the Championship with the worst defensive record going; their clean sheets are as scarce as clean sheets get. But a week in the hands of Danny Wilson was enough to make a fist of the last game before Christmas. The men in red did not bear presents. Wilson in McDermott’s eyes was always likely to be a fly in the ointment. Leeds have grown accustomed to playing clubs with new managers this season – five and counting with coaches dropping like flies – but McDermott is a fan of Wilson’s and well acquainted with his methods. “If they play like that then they’ve got a major chance of staying up,” said United’s boss in charitable fashion. “Danny’s a good manager.” As for his own team, this was not the angst-laden debacle of Barnsley away in January, an appalling defeat suffered less than four weeks into GFH Capital’s reign. Two points dropped on Saturday were strangely skewed by Leeds climbing a place in the table and reaching Christmas Day in fifth place, the high position GFH Capital has seen. Off-days used to bite hard at Elland Road; McDermott has found a way of brushing them off. “It’s not frustrating,” he said afterwards, despite holding his hands up to a mediocre first half. “I’ve seen games like that go against teams like us. At 0-0 you can get done on the counter-attack. It was one of those days and you get them. You get them especially in the Championship. What you have to do in a situation like this is get a result and we got a result.” A better result was all that Elland Road wanted. Leeds whipped up the attention on GFH Capital’s anniversary throughout the week and the attendance on Saturday passed 31,000. Whatever the prevailing view of United’s year under Middle Eastern ownership, the numbers stack up in the club’s favour, off the field and on it. A seventh home game without defeat amounted to a 34th point. Burnley at the top of the Championship have 43 and Queens Park Rangers behind them hold 42. There was no call for the recriminations which Barnsley are so fond of causing and Wilson returned McDermott’s compliment. “Leeds will be right up there at the end of the season,” he said.The first half wasn’t good from our point of view,” McDermott said. United avoided a concession but other costs began to mount up. Luke Murphy’s yellow card, his fifth of the season, earned him a ban for United’s Boxing Day visit to Blackpool and Mowatt joined him in the book soon after. Perhaps mindful of the implications of another midfielder incurring a suspension and the propensity of referee Keith Stroud to produce more cards than the Royal Mail, the 18-year-old was substituted at the interval. “It wasn’t a lesson for him,” McDermott said, “but he did struggle. At the end of the day he’s only 18.” Sam Byram and Michael Tonge provided fresh blood at the start of the second half. The intensity increased but neither substitute allowed for a major change in approach. Butland kept out a volley from Danny Pugh and got his fingertips to a header from McCormack. Smith’s late shot across goal missed the far post by inches. But Barnsley sucked up the punches and made it through six minutes of injury-time, even after Tudgay’s 85th-minute lunge at Zaliukas earned him a straight red card. So Barnsley reach Christmas at the foot of the table and Leeds will cut the turkey in fifth. Their rivalry and Barnsley’s mastery of it might matter more when United go back to Oakwell in April for their penultimate away fixture. “There are so many points to play for still,” McDermott said. No-one can call who’s going to go up and no-one can call who’s going to go down. You can’t say. “I’m happy to wake up in the morning, never mind worrying about anything like that. And I’m happy we’ve got a result.” It was new manager syndrome for us again. I said to my players beforehand ‘play like you’ve got a new manager.’ They didn’t but that’s life. “The first half wasn’t good but having said that, we did have a really good chance to make it 1-0 through Matt Smith. “They’ve had a good chance too and could have gone in at half-time 1-0 up so give them credit. We take the point and move up to fifth.”

Weds Dec 18th. McDermott confirms that Gradel is on his list bt so are others- Hay YEP.


McDermott confirmed that Gradel would be on a “list of players we like” after United opened talks with St Etienne about the possibility of bringing the 26-year-old back to Elland Road.

But the Ivory Coast international has been troubled by knee problems during his time in France and McDermott appears wary of recruiting Gradel purely on the basis of his popularity among United’s support.

The Leeds boss said: Max Gradel would be on a list of players we like, no doubt about that. But he plays for St Etienne and he’s been unfortunate with a couple of operations. What you can’t do is go on sentiment. Sometimes that’s dangerous.

“You can’t look back and say he was this player two years ago. Things change, people move on. When you bring someone in, you’ve got to make sure they’re absolutely spot on for what we’re trying to do now.

I’ve got a target of two or three players. But if you’re trying to sign two or three players, you can’t just have two or three players on a list. You have to have different options. There are players out there who we think can improve us. If one of them is Max Gradel and we can do a deal then great. If not, we look elsewhere.”

Weds Dec 18th. Taylor extends stay. Charlie Taylor, Leeds left full back on loan with Fleetwood Town will stay on loan there for the remainder of the season.

Tues Dec 17th. Buying back Elland Road high on the agenda. The consortium on the verge of taking charge of Leeds United have served the owners of Elland Road with notice of their intention to buy back the stadium, the Yorkshire Evening Post has been told. A group of investors led by Leeds managing director David Haigh appear to be making initial steps towards purchasing the ground for £15million and bringing it under United’s control for the first time since 2004. Haigh’s consortium – a group including Enterprise Insurance managing director Andrew Flowers – are on the verge of buying a majority stake in Leeds after agreeing a deal which will see them acquire a 75 per cent shareholding from current owner GFH Capital. Their buy-out is dependent on Football League approval but the group have begun laying the ground for the second takeover of Leeds in the space of a year by opening transfer negotiations for St Etienne winger Max Gradel and starting the process of repurchasing United’s 94-year-old home. Elland Road has been in private hands since United sold the property for £8million in the face of serious debts in 2004. The freehold of the ground was bought by Manchester businessman Jacob Adler and later transferred to Teak Commercial Limited, an off-shore firm based in the British Virgin Islands. Adler is believed to control Teak Commercial Limited but the company’s ultimate beneficiaries were not revealed when it acquired Elland Road in January 2005. United negotiated a buy-back provision when they auctioned Elland Road nine years ago, a provision which runs until 2029 but becomes more financially punitive as the years pass. The cost of repurchasing the ground increases annually and currently stands at £15m, while the cost of renting the stadium also rises by three per cent each October and has climbed to £1.4m since 2004. In total, Leeds have paid more than £10m in rent. The long-term lease is a significant burden on United’s accounts and although the club have the right to use the ground as tenants for another 16 years – alongside an option to extend the lease for an additional 25 years – the financial benefit of buying Elland Road has long been clear. GFH Capital, which secured a 100 per cent stake in Leeds from Ken Bates a year ago, made tentative noises about acquiring the stadium from Teak Commercial Limited when its takeover went through last December but the Dubai-based firm has failed to do so during its 12 months in charge and is poised to pass control of United to Haigh’s consortium in the coming weeks. Haigh touched on the issue of Elland Road in an interview with BBC Radio Cornwall last week, saying: “Elland Road is legendary. It is our home. Elland Road will always be there. We want to acquire the stadium. We want to develop the stadium. But we also need to focus on the football to get us to the Premier League.”

Tues Dec 17th. Leeds chase Maxi Twist. Leeds United are in talks to bring former player of the year Max Gradel back to Elland Road as the club hover on the brink of new ownership. United have opened discussions about a deal to re-sign Gradel from St Etienne next month, the second approach made by them for their popular ex-winger in the space of a year. The board at Leeds enquired about Gradel’s availability during the last January transfer window but lacked the financial resources to sign him, but their latest attempt comes ahead of another takeover at Elland Road. A consortium led by manager director David Haigh are in the process of buying a 75 per cent stake in Leeds having negotiated a sale with United’s current owner, GFH Capital. Haigh and the group backing him have already signed a share acquisition agreement and are waiting for the Football League to approve the buy-out. Their purchase of United is due to go through in time for the start of FIFA’s winter transfer window. The investors behind Haigh have remained anonymous since GFH Capital announced on November 30 that it had agreed to give up a controlling interest, but the YEP understands that Andrew Flowers – chairman and managing director of Enterprise Insurance – is one of the men involved in Haigh’s bid for control. Flowers – a lifelong Leeds supporter – is helping to fund the takeover of United, though it is not yet clear whether he plans to take up a seat on the board at Elland Road once the change of ownership is confirmed. He has been a senior employee at Enterprise Insurance since the company was formed in 2004 and the Gibraltar-based firm became United’s primary shirt sponsor prior to start of the 2011-12 season. In September of this year that agreement was extended to the 2016-17 term, with Leeds describing it as the longest deal of this kind in the history of the club.” Speaking at the time, Flowers said: As a lifelong supporter I’m delighted to be able to support the club for an extended period as we seek to return to the top flight of English football.” Newspaper reports earlier this month indicated that Flowers was preparing to sell shares in Enterprise Insurance, a company which is believed to be valued at around £100m. The Haigh-led offer for a 75 per cent stake in Leeds came with the promise of significant investment and increased transfer funds next month, and United’s approach of Gradel is the first sign of plans to strengthen their first-team squad. The club lie sixth in the Championship after a 3-0 win over D ncaster Rovers on Saturday and a spate of business in January would improve Brian McDermott’s prospects of winning promotion to the Premier League in his first full term as manager. McDermott has long bemoaned the absence of out-and-out wingers at Elland Road and the signing of Gradel would tackle that area of weakness. The Ivory Coast international spent 18 months at Elland Road in 2010 and 2011 having first completed a successful loan from Leicester City. He earned much acclaim during his only full season in Yorkshire by scoring 18 goals and helping United finish seventh in the Championship. His move to St Etienne for less than £2m in 2011 was another highly controversial exit from Leeds but the club are attempting to secure the return of a player who appeared 84 times for them. Gradel, 26, spent much of 2013 recovering from a serious knee injury but he regained a place in St Etienne’s team in October and scored in a 1-0 win over Montpellier last week.

goalscorers rodolph austin and ross mccormack celebrate rodoplhs goal

leeds matt smith scores a header from a free kick

Dec 15th. Leeds win 3-0 at Donny. Doncaster  0, Leeds 3 (Smith 19, McCormack 76, Austin 87)  United:  Kenny, Lees, Zaliukas, Pearce, Peltier, Pugh, Mowatt (Brown 73), Murphy, Austin, Smith, McCormack (Poleon 90). Subs. Cairns, Warnock, Byram, Tonge, Varney. Referee:  G Eltringham Booked: Murphy (Leeds). Att: 12,192 (4,319 Leeds) (Report from Official website)United manager Brian McDermott made one change to his team that drew with Watford one week earlier. Tom Lees returned from injury in midweek and was restored to the starting line-up in place of Sam Byram, who was among the substitues. The opening 15 minutes of the game past with both teams struggling to keep hold of possession on a windy day at the Keepmoat. There was an early half chance for the home side when Dean Furman shot from distance, Paddy Kenny wasn’t troubled by his effort. The first real chance of the afternoon fell to Ross McCormack, when he latched onto a Matt Smith knock down from a corner but his first-time header went over the bar. Moments later the first real piece of quality the match had seen brought the opening goal for United. The goal came from an Alex Mowatt free-kick, which was floated into the box and Smith headed the ball past Ross Turnbull to give United the advantage. With the 30-minute mark approaching McCormack found himslef on the ball with space to run into. The Scot carried the ball forward and struck at goal with his shot going just inches over the bar. United had some defending to do after McCormack’s effort when the home side attacked. Marius Zaliukas had a strong opening to the game and kept Doncaster at bay by winning all the long balls that came his way. The home side had multiple corners in quick succession but the defence stood strong and the ball was eventually cleared by Mowatt. With five minutes of the half left Danny Pugh was released down the left and his cut back was hit goalwards by Mowatt but Turnbull got his body behind the strike and saved well. The following minutes saw chances at either end of the field. First Rudy Austin hit one over the bar for United and then, Theo Robinson blasted his effort over the bar and into the back row of the watching home supporters. The final action of the half almost saw United double their advantage through the scorer of the opening goal. United’s strike pairing linked up well with McCormack crossing for Smith whose glancing header went just over the bar. The home side enjoyed a good spell of possession at the start of the second period and were almost rewarded when Richie Wellens broke through United’s defence, but the midfielder’s curling effort went just wide of the mark. Wellens threatened Kenny’s goal once again in the 55th minute when a poor United clearence landed at his feet. The midfielder struck the ball just time but Kenny saved well down to his right. The home side thought they had draw level just after the hour mark when Robinson had the ball in the back of the net, but a late flag was raised by the linesman to rule the goal out for offside. Moments later the home side saw a long range shot go wide to Kenny’s right. With the home side playing the better football in the second half United manager Brian McDermott made his first change of the game introducing Michael Brown to settle down the midfield area. Within three minutes United went further ahead in the game with their first meaningful attack of the half. McCormack picked up the ball wide of the left, worked the space by beating two defenders and tucked the ball into the back of the net from a tight angle to put United two goals in front. As the game went into the final 10 minutes United threatened to get a third when Brown cleared the ball into open space with only the keeper in front of him. The midfieder was looking to get on the end of his punt forward but was stopped in his tracks by Enda Stevens, who recieved a yellow card for the foul. Kenny was called into action with five minutes left when a shot across his goal looked to be creeping into the net but the keeper pushed the ball wide for a corner. Moments later the game was over as a contest when McCormack crossed. The ball evaded Smith but Austin was at the back post and he made no mistake in smashing the ball home in the 87th minute. Austin’s goal knocked the stuffing out of the home side and United ran out 3-0 winners at the Keepmoat Stadium. Doncaster dominated most of the second half with a strong wind after Leeds had dominated the first half. Last season we would have drawn or lost this match. Brian McDermott has instilled character and no little belief in this team. One would be naïve in the extreme to assume we are the finished product. We are not. But today we won ugly. Our two strikers scored again. We kept a clean sheet. Our goal difference gained plus three. We won at a ground were money bags,QPR lost a fortight ago. We are not Liverpool fans who after seeing a couple of swallows assume summer is going to last into February. We are hardened Leeds fans who at long last may just be getting something in return for turning up to see the Hartlepools, Yeovil Towns and Bristol Rovers of this world. Barnsley could quite easily give us a slap in the face next week like they have done for many a game in the past decade. Personally, I don’t think they will. We can’t compete with QPR’s 60K per week on the likes of Richard Dunne and Joey Barton, but we don’t have to have an inferiority complex with Notts Forest, Burnley or Leicester City. Slowly, but surely, and quite methodically, Uncle Festa is building a football club at Leeds. If and when he gets the support in January, which now looks at last more likely than not, three or four quality additions to this side could take this team a long way. How he uses the cash will be critical. Wells of Bradford City would be the first player I would like to see arrive. Quick, direct, skilful, confident and someone who could make a difference. McDermott has a good eye for a player. It’s time for Haigh and Co to back him fully like they have promised to do.  Brian McDermott ‘It was a tough game, there’s no getting away from that.’I thought  we were good value for the lead in the first half but we just couldn’t get out  of our half after the interval. ‘Doncaster came out in the second half  and played really well. We had to change our system to combat that and we did  better when Michael Brown came on midway through the second half. ‘I’m  happy to come away with three points and a clean sheet because they put us under  the cosh for a good 20 to 25 minutes. ‘But you have to find a way to win  in these situations and it helps when you have a player like Ross McCormack who  can’t stop scoring and took his goal really well. ‘That gave us some  breathing space and I always thought we would see the game out after  that.”

Dec 10th. Leeds suffer striking blow. On loan Nottingham Forest striker Dexter Blackstock has been ruled out for the season after suffering a knee injury in training at Leeds. Blackstock, who arrived at Elland Road towards the end of October, requires surgery on his knee and he has returned to Forest, bringing his loan with Leeds to a premature end having joined on loan until January. The striker made an instant impression on his arrival at Leeds when he scored with his first touch for the club when he headed home at Huddersfield Town within a minute of coming off the bench. Blackstock made four appearances for Leeds and his partnership with Ross McCormack in attack looked promising until he picked up the injury on the eve of the game with Blackburn Rovers at the end of last month. Matt Smith looks set to continue in attack alongside McCormack in the absence of Blackstock, having scored at the weekend in his first start in four games.

Dec 10th. Haigh team will control 75% of United. Leeds United’s prospective new owners are to acquire a 75 per cent stake in the club, it is understood. A consortium led by United managing director David Haigh will buy three quarters of the shares when their takeover of Leeds goes through, securing major control of the boardroom at Elland Road. Haigh’s group of investors are awaiting Football League approval after signing a share acquisition agreement with GFH Capital, the Dubai-based firm which purchased Leeds from Ken Bates a year ago. GFH Capital appears to be nearing the end of its time as majority shareholder, though the company retain a stake at Elland Road following Haigh’s buy-out. It currently owns a controlling interest alongside two other major shareholders at United – club chairman Salah Nooruddin and Bahrain’s International Investment Bank (IIB). The Haigh-led takeover is due to be officially completed before the turn of the year – prior to the start of the January transfer window – and Football League approval is understood to be the only remaining obstacle to a second change of ownership at Elland Road in the space of 12 months. GFH Capital accepted an offer from Haigh’s consortium prior to United’s 1-0 defeat at Blackburn Rovers last month, issuing a statement which read: GFH Capital have granted a period of exclusivity to the investors in readiness for the January transfer window. “The two parties have signed a share acquisition agreement for the purchase of shares in the club with GFH retaining a significant stake. “The consortium includes a number of high-profile businessmen and does not include any previous owners or players of the club. “It is anticipated that the investment will be in place for the January transfer window and will see existing chairman Salah Nooruddin and managing director David Haigh remain at the club for the long term.”The statement hinted strongly at improved funding for United manager Brian McDermott in the January window and Haigh’s group are expected to look closely at options for redeveloping United’s stadium, though the ground remains under private ownership and is in the hands of Teak Commercial Limited, an offshore company based in the British Virgin Islands. Leeds retain a buy-back provision on the ground – agreed when it was originally sold in 2004 – but the cost of repurchasing Elland Road is now in excess of £15m.


Sat Dec 7th. Almost the perfect come back. Leeds 3-3 Watford  (Pugh 50, Smith 56, McCormack 79),  United:  Kenny, Peltier, Zaliukas, Pearce, Pugh, Byram, Mowatt, Murphy, Austin, McCormack, Smith. Subs. Cairns, Drury, Warnock, Brown, Tonge, Varney, Poleon. Referee:  T Keetle Booked:  Pugh (Leeds), Ekstrand (Watford). Att:  23,445  (Reort from LUFC) United manager made one change to his side as he went in search of a six successive home league victory. The change was an enforced one with Sam Byram coming in for the injured Tom Lees. The starting line-up would see Lee Peltier move into the back three with Byram operating at right wing-back. It took United just three minutes to create their first chance on goal when the front two combined well. Ross McCormack created save on the left hand side and crossed for Matt Smith whose headed effort was held by Jonathan Bond. Moments later McCormack was the provider once again when he whipped a dangerous looking free-kick into the box but Marius Zaliukas could only head over the crossbar. The away side made a chance of their own as the 10 minute mark approached through Troy Deeney but, like Zaliukas before him, he could only head over the bar. The chances kept coming in what was a fast paced start to the game. Rudy Austin was released on the right thanks to a great through ball but his strike was stopped by Bond and the rebound was blasted over by Luke Murphy. United keeper Paddy Kenny proved his quality once again as he denied Ikechi Anya with a great save. But Kenny could do nothing about Deeney’s effort in the 12th minute when the striker put the away side one goal up. The forward was set-up after Lewis McGugan mazed his way through the United penalty area and put the ball into his path and Deeney struck with a good first-time finish. Deeney’s goal slowed the pace of the game but there were still opportunities being created by both sides. Peltier saw a headed attempt go wide while Austin had a good effort from a tight angle saved well and Anya saw a strike go just wide of Kenny’s post. With the half hour mark approaching United looked dangerous on the attack. Byram played a great cross for Smith, who was waiting in the box for a simple tap in, but the ball was cut out with a last ditch interception. Smith did have an effort on goal moments later but his shot from just outside the box went inches wide. The next 15 minutes passed with very little goal-mouth action after a stoppage in play for George Thorne who appeared to have a bloody nose after a clash with Smith.But before the half was done the away side doubled their advantage through Chrsitian Battocchio. Following a United attack the away side broke forward through Hector Bellerin and after some hesitant defending the ball ended up at the feet of Battocchio in the box. The midfielder worked the space well to shoot and the ball went in of the inside of the post. United were on the front foot from the very start of the second half and had a great chance to pull a goal back within a minute of the restart. First Smith saw a headed effort put over the bar but the big forward had an even better chance from the resulting corner. Alex Mowatt’s corner kick was met by Smith at the back post but his powerful header went just over the bar. United’s good start to the half was rewarded on 50 minutes when Danny Pugh latched onto a bouncing ball in the penalty area. The utility man worked the position at the back post and finished superby to raise the noise levels inside Elland Road. But those noise levels were nothing compared to six minutes later when Smith levelled the contest on 56 minutes. United broke forward through Peltier who played McCormack into space on the right. The striker took his time and crossed for his strike partner who made no mistake by slamming a header into the back of the net. The United onslaught continued with the away side clearly rattled. United had a great chance to take the lead for the first time on 60 minutes when Austin was through on goal but Bond made himself big and made the save. Then moments later Mowatt’s shot smashed against the bar following a deflection. It was United doing all the attacking in the second but Kenny was forced to make a good save following a break forward by the away side. United were back on the attack just after the hour mark after good build up play from front pairing of McCormack and Smith midfielder Austin saw a thunderous strike from distance blocked. With 15 minutes McCormack thought that he had completed the turn around when he put the ball in the back of the net, but following Smith’s nod down the linesman raised his flag to signal him offside. But just minutes later the Scot wasn’t to be denied when he got on the end of a delightful Luke Murphy pass. McCormack had only the keeper to beat, such was the quality of the pass, and the striker kept his cool to slot the ball past the onrushing Bond. McCormack’s goal wasn’t to be the last action of the half, though, when Thorne struck from distance, which Kenny saved, but Deeney pounced on the rebound to level for the visitors against the run of play on 86 minutes. With the game heading into three added minutes of injury time both sides were looking for what would be the winning goal. The away side saw the best chance to win the game come their way with just seconds remaining but Zaliukas made a great game saving challenge to prevent a close range shot at goal. Brian McDermott : ” We got ourselves back to 2-1 and the whole place erupted like I knew it  would. It was a fantastic atmosphere in Elland Road today and I was proud of my  players.” “It was an absolutely great atmosphere in there today. I’m sure there’ll be initial disappointment that we didn’t manage to win the game 3-2 but I think the  fans will go home and think they’ve seen some good football with some real  desire from our players.” The Leeds United manager was also very complimentary of star-striker Ross  McCormack, who was involved in all three of his sides goals today and took his  tally to ten goals in six games. McDermott said: “You could see he was bright, vibrant and made things happen. It was a great  finish for the goal, he was unlucky with his header it must’ve been pretty close  to being onside.” He’s working so hard. He’s playing like a leader and he’s still not at his  peak yet. Alex Mowatt, Luke Murphy, take your pick. We’ve got a lot of great  young players coming through. We’re trying to build something, not make a short  fix.” Speaking shortly afterwards Watford manager Gianfranco Zola spoke of his  disappointment with the referee Trevor Kettle as he believes the official missed a  clear foul in the build-up to Leeds’ equaliser. He said: “I’m disappointed with the second goal they scored as it was a clear foul. I  have to say the referee was very good until then but at that moment, from my  point of view, he spoiled the game. It was a clear foul. Also, the third goal it  was definitely a throw-in for us.” “Those two mistakes upset me a little bit but at the end of the day I’m happy  with the point and it could’ve been more.” The Italian had seen his side enter the interval with a 2-0 advantage but it  was cut-back quickly by Matt Smith’s goal early in the second half, which the  former-Chelsea star thinks was key to the game. He said: “That was the key. My half-way team talk was mostly about the first ten  minutes. How we had to focus on the pitch but unfortunately we didn’t do  that.” “Considering the types of games we played and the situation we’re going  through this is a good point. It’s not easy for anyone to come here and get  that.” He was also very pleased with Troy Deeney’s performance. The striker had put  Watford into a twelfth minute lead before scoring a vital equaliser five minutes  from time. Zola also had kind words for Ikechi Anya:I’m delighted for him (Deeney). We had some discussions and it’s so good to  see him back on track and playing, scoring. He’s big for us.” “Ikechi is a lively player. We you have him on the pitch he can transform the  action, taking an opportunity for your opponents into a chance for you because  of his pace.” The draw meant that Leeds missed the chance to move up to fifth in the table and it ends their run of consecutive wins at home. Watford have now not won in eight games but have picked up consecutive draws now against Burnley and Leeds, while showing signs of improvement. Was it a point gained or two points dropped ? I think overall you have to be pleased with the point given we were two goals down at half time and playing against a side that have seen significant more investment than us. Last season we wouldn’t have had the character to come back. We are still short of quality. We know that. We probably played much better today than we have in any match since the Birmingham City game, but we came up against a quick counter attacking team that can hurt us. Pace is something that we don’t gave in abundance. It was good to see Murphy have his best game in a Leeds shirt. That will do his confidence no harm. Up next two Yorkshire derbies, including against one against the Tykes who we have struggled against in recent seasons. It would be nice to get six points from Doncaster and Barnsley, but then who would have foreseen those results over this past weekend.



Dec 5th. Mowatt signs new contact. The club has moved to secure highly-rated teenage midfielder Alex Mowatt on a long-term contract. The Doncaster-born Academy graduate, who is currently establishing himself in the first team, has signed a new three-and-a-half-year contract with the club. United managing director David Haigh said: We’re delighted we’ve agreed a new contract with Alex. He has been at the club most of his life, and his development and progress is a testament to the work of the club’s Academy.  The development of our own players is something we see as vitally important, and we look forward to Alex being a part of our future here.” Mowatt, who skippered the club’s Under-18s last season, has made 11 appearances so far this term and also received a call-up for the England Under-19 squad. Manager Brian McDermott said: “Everyone at Leeds United is delighted that he has committed his long-term future to us. Playing regular football as an 18-year-old in the Championship tells you exactly what we think of him.” The young midfielder paid tribute to the club’s Academy and he said: I’m really pleased to have signed. I’ve been at the club since I was six and this is where I want to play my football. This season has gone really, really well so far, and I just want to keep working hard, keep improving, and play my part in helping Leeds United get where we want to be.” The 18-year-old put pen to paper on a new three and a half year contract on Thursday morning and the Academy graduate couldn’t be happier. I’m delighted to sign a three and a half year deal with Leeds, he said. “I want to keep playing, keep doing well and stay in the team and as a team we want to break into the top six and have a go at promotion. “The mood in the squad is good at the moment. We have now won five on the bounce at Elland Road and we have another home game this weekend.” Alex says it’s been “weird” making the step-up to first team football but it is something that he is relishing. The former Under-18s captain says that playing in front of big crowds is something that he enjoys and says that the United supporters have really got behind him. “It’s been weird going from playing a game in the Under-18s with no crowd to then playing in front of 25-30 thousand,” said Alex. I’m enjoying it.My family are proud of me and the fans have been really good with me. It’s a great feeling getting clapped and cheered when I go to take corners. It’s really good that the gaffer has the faith in me to go and take corners and some set-pieces.” After getting his name on the scoresheet for United’s Under-18 side more often than not the teenager is looking to add goals to his game now that he is on the first team. “I feel that it is only a matter of time before I score,” said a confident Mowatt. “I came close at the Middlesbrough game and possibly should have scored. “But I’m getting chances so I think the goals will come. “I scored quite a lot for the Under-18s last season and created plenty of chances for others. I’d like to progress forward and do that in the first team as well.” Now that his future is sorted Alex can concentrate on his football and United face a second home game in quick succession against Watford on Saturday.I love playing home games. The crowd is great and I really enjoy playing at Elland Road,” added Alex.“It was good to bounce back against Wigan. They had a strong side out against us but I thought that we played well and we didn’t look like conceding. “The three points are the most important thing because that is what get you in the top six. We want to play well as well but the three points in the main thing. “It will be a tough game against Watford but we are the home side so we will be going for the win.”


Weds Dec 4th. Leeds 2-0 Wigan Athletic 1 (McCormack 15, 77), United: Kenny, Lees, Zaliukas, Pearce, Peltier, Pugh, Mowatt, Austin, Murphy, McCormack, Smith. Subs. Cairns, Warnock, Byram, Brown, Tonge, Varney, Poleon. . Booked: Pearce, Murphy (Leeds). Att: 25,888 United manager Brian McDermott made one change to his side that travelled to Blackburn four days earlier with Matt Smith coming in for Luke Varney. United striker Ross McCormack and defender Tom Lees made the starting line-up after recovering from knocks sustained at Ewood Park last Saturday. On a cold December evening it was United who started the better side. United were linking together well and pressured Wigan’s midfield into hitting long balls. It was United who had the first real opportunity of the game, when Luke Murphy struck from just outside the box but his shot was straight at Scott Carson. A second chance well United’s way around the 10 minute mark when Jason Pearce rose well at the back post. The defender could only turn Alex Mowatt wide of the post. United weren’t to be denied for much longer though, when the first goal of the game arrived on 15 minutes. Mowatt hit a sweet corner that was knocked down by Pearce for McCormack to pass the ball across the line. The opening goal appeared to give United confidence and the home side began to knock the ball superbly. Midway through the half Pearce unleashed Danny Pugh down the left hand side with a great through ball. The defender’s cross was cut out but the resulting corner almost brought the second goal of the game. Murphy’s corner was met by Smith but his downward header was intercepted before it could reach McCormack, who was free at the back post. The away side created their first chance of the evening just before the half hour through a break forward from James McArthur. Once the midfielder got to the edge of the box he struck but Lees blocked his effort. The rebound landed in the path of Will Keane but United keeper Paddy Kenny made a brave save to prevent the on loan Manchester United player. Kenny once again came to United’s rescue just moments later when his point blank save thwarted the same player. Following Keane’s two chances United regained the upper hand as the half drew to a close. United’s wide players and McCormack crossed some nice balls into the box but were all just inches away from their intended target. With just minutes of the half remaining Mowatt latched onto a loose ball and struck from distance just his strike went inches wide. The away side had a chance of their own before the half was up when Emmerson Boyce got on the end of a corner but his downward header went over Kenny’s crossbar. United began the second half as they did in the first with the better of the play. Marius Zaliukas and Lees both saw shots blocked and also McCormack also saw a shot go just wide. With just over 20 minutes of the game remaining Smith rose well in the box to get on the end of a Pugh cross, but the forward didn’t make the connection he would have liked and his header didn’t trouble Carson. Just minutes later Smith had a great chance to double United’s advantage. The big striker pounced on a mistake by Ivan Ramis and he was through on goal with only the keeper to beat. The striker had options either side of him but he went alone and was denied by the legs of Carson. But United did double their advantage on 77 minutes following a McCormack free-kick from the left hand side. The striker whipped a ball across the box and Pearce got the faintest of touches and the ball bounced into the top corner. – Brian McDermott - ‘We needed to bounce back after Blackburn where I felt we deserved a draw and it was important to keep a clean sheet and get the win and I’m really pleased with that. I thought Ross was outstanding, another couple of goals for him. They were his goals, we cleared that up after the game with Jason. They had a lot of the ball but they didn’t really hurt us. Our boys are starting to learn how to win football matches. They are a good side. Look at their side and the quality they have. That’s a very good win for us tonight. It’s a really good nights work. Matt Smith has done really well. We went too long to him on Saturday. He is better than that. He is learning all the time. The crowd helped us through but they know what they are watching, and around the sixtieth minute they lifted us. There was another 25,000 here mid week. Fantastic.  The players are enjoying playing here and are working hard and learning as a group”. That’s five home wins on the bounce and Leeds keep hanging in there against a side who on paper certainly looked a lot stronger than United. If we can keep the points tallying up and add to  the squad in January who knows where it can take us because this Championship is so unpredictable.

Tues Dec 2nd. News Round Up. Dexter Blackstock is out of the Wigan Clash having returned to Forest for a scan on his knee. Ross McCormack and Tom Lees are both carrying knocks going into that Wigan game. The Latics have parted company with their manager, Owen Coyle after only six months. He joins Sheff Weds Dave Jones who was also sacked this past weekend. Elsewhere, former Leeds favourite, David Healy has retired from professional at the age of 34. He was released by Bury during the summer and struggled to attain a club. Leeds are being linked with a January loan move for Chelsea midfielder, Nathaniel Chaloboah. His current loan spell at Forest comes to an end in early January and the player was influential in getting Watford into the play offs last season.

Tues Dec 2nd.  Grayson Speaks Out About Life Under Uncle Ken & ‘Agent’ Williams at Leeds – Yeboah constrictor. Last night at a football fundraising dinner in Sherburn in Elmet, Simon Grayson, Ian Baird and Glynn Snodin held a  Q&A with those in attendance, who in many ways got more than they bargained for. In media appearances, Grayson has often appeared cagey surrounding his time at Leeds, either contractually bound or unwilling to spill the beans, but he let rip last night in a no holds barred rant.Glynn Williams has seen many managers come and go in his time at Leeds, even taking charge for one game himself (a two nil defeat away to Southend if my memory serves me correct). Often derided as one of Bates’ pals , no-one seems to have any idea what he did, Warnock professes to never have spoken to him and McDermott has since revealed that he was the entirety of our scouting system, yet what does Grayson think of the man who is credited with discovering Luciano Becchio. Well, it’s quite simple, He was Ken’s eyes and ears, a snake in the grass” he goes on to add that Williams would often pretend to go and “have a poo”, yet would instead sit in the cubicle listening to the players and reporting back to Ken. Glynn Snodin and Grayson have only recently received their pay off from Leeds after their ‘disposal’ hence the openness of the situation, Snodin also stuck the knife into Williams, describing him as a “horrible fat b*****d”. Finally, Williams was also responsible for the deal which saw Ramon Nunez given a four year deal, something Grayson was particularly upset about. More upsetting for fans in general was the fact that Williams used to gloat when we lost on the pitch and never celebrated in the Director’s box. On the subject of signings, he was most pleased with Gradel (who Grayson is sure would jump at the chance of rejoining Leeds) and Naylor, but described Liam Dickinson as “effing s***”. It also turned out that Snodgrass (who was tearful at being offered to Crystal Palace) was offered to go on trial at Blackpool whilst Grayson was there, but he declined him as he had a “drinking problem”. It has often been questioned why Leeds didn’t strengthen when we were second at Christmas and had a real chance of promotion back in our first season in the second flight. Well, rather predictably, Ken didn’t release the funds to sign Kaspar Gorkss, Gareth McCauley and Keith Andrews who were all lined up to come in and have all subsequently played Premier League football, alongside Jonny Howson who was sold against his will with Grayson being promised the funds to spend, only for him to be told via text when at Robbie Roger’s work placement tribunal that the money was being banked, he was sacked two days later. Andrews is the most interesting case, as he was both affordable and a good player who wanted to join Leeds, yet it is apparent that the evil axis of Bates, who was “not at Leeds for footballing reasons”, Harvey and Williams deliberately delayed the deal in order to allow a rival come in which is exactly what happenend as Andrews made the switch to Ipswich. Finally he revealed that bar Delph, none of the players wanted to leave Leeds, including Billy Paynter, who was apparently the “Dogs B******s” in training.Say what you like about Simon Grayson, but he was, in my mind, a good manager working with his hands tied very tightly behind his back, but he is also a fan of the club and what he went through upset him as much as us and you really got the sense that it was his aim to take Leeds back to the Premier League as he turned down job offers from clubs at the top, so I’ll leave the last words for him…(Q) “Is Ken Bates a t**t?”(SG) “I’d use stronger words than that!”


Sun Dec 1st.Haigh leading buyout of club – Phil Hay  Leeds United managing director David Haigh is leading a buy-out of the club which should see the Whites in the hands of new owners before the January transfer window.   The YEP understands that Haigh – a director at Elland Road since November of last year – has put together a consortium of businessmen who will purchase a majority stake in the next month. United announced this morning that they have reached agreement for a UK-based group to acquire shares in the club, with current owner GFH Capital retaining a “significant stake” and both Haigh and chairman Salah Nooruddin remaining at the club. Nooruddin is one of three shareholders in Leeds, alongside GFH Capital and Bahrain’s International Investment Bank (IIB). Haigh is presently an employee of both United and GFH Capital and holds no equity in the Championship side but the impending deal will see him secure greater control. It is also expected to lead to improved funding for first team manager Brian McDermott in the January transfer window. Haigh has already made significant financial contributions to United this season, loaning the club a six-figure fee through a Dubai-based firm in October and a further sum in excess of £1million earlier this week. GFH Capital has been in charge of United since last December when the club bought a 100 per cent shareholding from former owner and chairman Ken Bates. In a statement released this morning, Leeds said: “GFH Capital, majority owners of Leeds United, have granted a period of exclusivity to the investors in readiness for the January transfer window. “The two parties have signed a share acquisition agreement for the purchase of shares in the club with GFH retaining a significant stake. “The consortium includes a number of high profile businessmen and does not include any previous owners or players of the club. “It is anticipated that the investment will be in place for the January transfer window and will see existing chairman Salah Nooruddin and managing director David Haigh remain at the club for the long term. “Since formally completing its purchase of Leeds United in December 2012, GFH Capital has always stated it was its plan to ensure the long-term and sustainable regeneration of the club through partnering with strategic and like-minded investors who share its vision. “The announcement is the culmination of many months of negotiations by a team led by David Haigh.” United were the subject of a £7million bid from a group involving Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity and former Manchester United employee Mike Farnan and claiming to be backed by Leeds legend Lucas Radebe. That consortium is not involved in the latest offer for shares.

Dec 1st. Battle lines drawn between Leeds and Bates. The final documents for Leeds United Football Club versus Kenneth William Bates were due to be submitted by close of play on Wednesday so the battle lines for their courtroom tear-up are well and truly drawn. Barring a settlement before the new year they will see each other in the High Court to claim and counter-claim over Bates’ sacking as club president. The allegations are wide-ranging and colourful, laid out in papers lodged with the chancery division. The case over United’s decision to dismiss Bates for gross misconduct on July 26 – 26 days into his three-year term as president – will centre around the private jet contract negotiated by him for his time in the job. The contract committed Leeds to a bill of almost £500,000 over three years and was, according to the club, arranged by Bates for his “own personal benefit”, in breach of the terms of his contract at Elland Road. The 81-year-old, in papers outlining his defence and counter-claim, denies the claim, as he does the many other assertions made against him. An expensive private jet deal is by no means the only allegation put forward by United as they seek to recover money they believe they are owed. Their court submission concentrates heavily on Bates’ expenses account, for which he was given an annual limit of £228,000 after GFH Capital bought the club from him on December 20, 2012. Between the date of the takeover and the date of his sacking, United say that Bates claimed a total of £136,163, of which the club paid more than £89,500. Leeds claim to have “independently approved” £57,092 – in other words accepted that Bates is entitled to that sum – and admit that a further £5,059 is due to him. The remaining £79,070 was, they allege, “not properly payable” to Bates. Among the costs which Leeds dispute are a £14,500 bill for a return flight to Portugal for Bates and his wife Suzannah ahead of the Football League’s annual general meeting; £1,630 spent on a chauffeured vehicle for Bates, his wife and his housekeeper in Monaco; a Sky subscription totalling £391.50 and a lunch for journalists which came in at £2,662.88. United also say that Bates claimed without justification for more than £31,100 for two dinners held on April 28 and 29 – one a “thank you” dinner for staff at Elland Road and the other for “corporate guests and friends”. Bates admits that both bills were wrongly claimed but says they were submitted to Leeds by catering firm Compass without his knowledge. He says he has never seen either invoice and did not expect United to reimburse him. There are other sums which United list as “unreasonable expenses” but have not paid: almost £20,000 for a housekeeper in Monte Carlo and £7,000 for “further entertainment expenses”. They also dispute an attempt by Bates to recover the cost of personal tax advice, albeit only £200.

Part of Leeds’ argument is that Bates’ expenses were effectively passed without approval by anyone senior to him at Elland Road and that he failed to supply proper documentation.

Bates rejects that suggestion, saying his contract with United contained no guidance or provision for how expenses were to be claimed. He says he submitted receipts to Leeds’ finance director – Yvonne Allen – and gave them the chance to review his expenses before repaying him. He also argues that the payment of many of his expenses by Leeds essentially endorsed his claims or classed them as reasonable.

Additionally, United have taken issue with an historical claim for “February and March Monaco office expenses” which came in at £10,208 and were paid to Bates on March 22. They do not believe that the bill was incurred as a result of Bates carrying out his duties as club chairman, the position he held until June 30. Furthermore Leeds allege that on the last day of January, Bates arranged a bank transfer of more than £5,000 from their accounts to himself, saying his expenses allowance entitled him to the money. The club go on to claim that in early March, Bates asked a club employee to deliver him £2,000 in cash from a till at United’s club shop and in April asked another employee to take £5,000 in cash from the club safe at Elland Road and bring it to him. In both instances he is alleged to have said that the sums could be charged to his expenses account. Bates denies all claims of gross misconduct and is counter-suing Leeds for wrongful dismissal, saying they had no grounds for terminating his presidency.

Leeds accept that Bates was due to be paid £250,000 a year for three years in the post but say he agreed to “waive his entitlement to receive the fee until and unless his appointment as chairman or president comes to an end other than for a permitted reason.” Successful action from United’s former chairman could land the club with a pay-out of up to £750,000.of trying as the boss looks to utilise the loan market to strengthen his squad. “I’ve made six enquiries for players we targeted,” he said. “For whatever reason we couldn’t get them over the line. “I know I’ve said it before, but I’m not going to take players for the sake of it. There is money to bring loan signings in if we can find the right one.’