New owner



Friday 31st of January. Rebellion in the air as McDermott is sacked from Tim Whelan – To Ell and Back.We’ve seen this coming for most of the past week, and tonight is has been confirmed that Brian McDermott has been sacked by Leeds United. During his press conference this afternoon McDermott admitted tomorrow’s game could be his last, but he said he intended to “enjoy” the occasion. But the owners of the club couldn’t even muster the dignity to allow him to say good bye to the fans in person, and he is leaving the club before that game even takes place. It’s not clear who actually took the decision to sack McDermott, and surely it would be unethical to allow prospective new ower Massimo Cellino to make such a major decision before the League have had a chance to decide if he passes their ‘fit and proper persons’ test. But there have been some suggestions in the media that some senior people in GFH also wanted to change the manager after our recent run of results. And it seems that the players are far from happy about the manner of the boss’s departure. Ross McCormack told Sky Sports News “I’m absolutely gutted because I had a really good relationship with the manager. I was looking forward to helping the club move forward under Brian McDermott and he made me captain. I’m very happy and content at the club but a big part of that was Brian McDermott. “If I’d known that this was going to happen, I’d have had a right decision to make. I think he was a bit surprised in terms of how quick it happened. I think he always had an inkling. Me, speaking on behalf of all the players, would like to thank the gaffer for all his efforts and wish him well for the future.” And not surprisingly, this statement caused a flurry of bids for his signature during the final hours of the transfer window. If McCormack’s opinion is shared by the other players, then the sacking will obviously lead to a lot of unrest in the dressing room and a possible fallout with whatever new boss is imposed onto them, with inevitable consequences for our performances on the pitch. And a disappointing result tomorrow will increase the anger that will obviously be felt in the stands at Elland Road. On the various messageboards and social media sites there are plenty of Leeds fans expressing their shock and anger about this decision, as well as being extremely concerned about where our club is heading. We can expect plenty of hostile chanting about Cellino tomorrow, and it won’t be any surprise if there is some sort of demonstration. Club sponsors Flamingo Land and Enterprise Insurance have already withdrawn their backing in protest at this evening’s events. It’s true that McDermott had presided over a disappointing run of results in the last month, but he also had some rotten luck, most notably with the Matt Smith sending off and subsequent suspension. The performance at Leicester showed that he may have been able to turn the corner once his new signings had worked their way into the side, but now we’ll never know how things would have worked out. Brian, you always behaved with great dignitiy and always showed that you cared about the club and the fans, and you deserve far better than the way you have been treated during the last few days. We wish you good luck for the future, and I’m sure you’ll get a great reception from the Leeds crowd some time in the future when you come back as the manager of a visiting club. –

Friday 31st of January. McCormack “gutted” over McDermott sacking. Ross McCormack has spoken of his disappointment at the dismissal of manager Brian McDermott.  The Leeds United captain, who was the subject of interest from a number of Premier League clubs in the wake of the dismissal, said: “He called me up earlier and told me he was gone. “It’s sad times at the club and I’m absolutely gutted. “I had a really close relationship with the manager and I was looking forward to continuing to work with Leeds United and Brian McDermott.” Scotland international McCormack committed his future to Leeds earlier in the evening in the wake of the club’s decision to reject a £4m bid from Cardiff City. But he said: “I’m very happy and content but a big part of that was Brian McDermott. “I think Brian was a little bit surprised in terms of how quick it has happened but he always had an inkling. The new owners are coming and want to take it in a different direction.”

Friday 31st of Jan. McDermott Axed – Phil Hay. Leeds United were consumed by chaos last night after new owner Massimo Cellino began his reign at Elland Road by ruthlessly sacking Brian McDermott and losing two major club sponsors. Cellino, who is on the verge of completing a £25m buy-out of Leeds, dismissed McDermott within hours of securing a deal for the club – prompting shirt sponsor Enterprise Insurance to dramatically withdraw its support in protest. Yorkshire-based theme park Flamingo Land, which backs United’s academy with a deal worth a six-figure sum each year, followed suit soon after as anger over the treatment of McDermott spread. Andrew Flowers, the managing director of Enterpr  Insurance and until Thursday part of a consortium who were bidding to buy Leeds from current owner Gulf Finance House, said the sale to Cellino and his ruthless dismissal of McDermott was “a disgraceful decision which brings the club into disrepute and one which we won’t be associated with.” Enterprise Insurance paid its sizeable sponsorship fee in full and up front earlier this season and the money is understood to have been used to tie top scorer and club captain Ross McCormack to a new four-year contract in August. Flowers told the YE P: “I’m devastated for Brian and we’ll be looking to end our sponsorship of the club. In no way do we wish to be associated with this regime.” McDermott took training at Thorp Arch on Friday and held his regular press conference shortly after 1pm, voicing uncertainty about his future at Elland Road with Cellino close to finalising a 75 per cent takeover. The former Reading was dismissed later in the day and informed of Cellino’s decision to sack him by an unknown lawyer. Acting chief executive Paul Hunt is also understood to have left Elland Road.

Gianluca Festa, the former Middlesbrough defender and a long-time ally of Cellino’s, is set to take charge of United’s squad for today’s game against Huddersfield Town at Elland Road, exposing him to an inevitable backlash from the club’s supporters. Cellino attempted to place Festa in the Leeds dug-out for their 1-1 draw with Ipswich Town on Tuesday, a request that was denied by the club but which many saw as a blatant attempt to undermine McDermott.

United have not parted company with assistant manager Nigel Gibbs or first-team coach Neil Redfearn and both could assist 44-year-old Festa this afternoon. Gibbs in particular is highly unlikely to remain at Elland Road beyond this weekend. Festa has little in the way of prior management experience, all of it coming during a short stint as manager of Italian lower league side Lumezzane during the 2012-13 season. He is, however, a close confidant of Cellino’s and made a number of visits to Thorp Arch while Cellino was tying up his takeover. The owner and president of Cagliari is believed to have agreed all necessary terms with GFH and the club were expected to make an official announcement today. No comment was made by them last night as tempers flared in the wake of McDermott’s exit. The Football League is now facing a key decision over whether to sanction the 57-year-old’s takeover with Flowers poised to mount a legal challenge if the takeover gains official approval. Flowers was one of the figures behind Sport Capital, the consortium who tried and failed to buy Leeds from GFH last month and conceded defeat in their bid on Thursday. “I’m considering all legal options,” he said. The Football League’s Owners and Directors Test appears to be all that stands between Cellino and full confirmation of his buy-out, and the governing body will come under intense scrutiny when it begins considering a record showing two conviction in the Italian courts for fraud. Football League rules require anyone purchasing more than a 10 per cent stake in any of its member clubs to pass the test, and the League’s regulations ban anyone with “unspent convictions for offences of dishonesty, corruption, perverting the course of justice, serious breaches of the Companies Act or conspiracy to commit any of those offences” from becoming an owner or a director. It is not known whether Cellino intends to take up a seat on the board at Elland Road – his son Ercole, who spent time in Leeds last week and took tours of United’s stadium and training ground, has been suggested as a possible figurehead for Cellino’s regime – but the Italian’s involvement will bring the Football League’s policies into sharp focus. Those doubts, however, did not aid McDermott, who was appointed by Leeds on a three-year deal in April and oversaw just 36 games. A source close to the 52-year-old said: “The things that have gone on at Leeds are unbelievable. He’s shocked and devastated to be leaving. It’s very, very wrong.” As Cellino and GFH tied up loose ends, a desperate attempt was made by another group of potential buyers to drag GFH to the negotiating table. Leeds Together, fronted by ex-Manchester United International managing director Mike Farnan, urged the Bahraini bank to engage it in meaningful talks and consider an offer which they said was “the best way forward.”

But Cellino’s bid found more favour with GFH and he and his associates are understood to have flown into England from Italy yesterday to put the finishing touches to his takeover. There were no confirmed transfers in or out of Elland Road last night, with Leeds turning down a flurry of approaches for captain and top scorer Ross McCormack.

Friday 31st of January. McDermott sacked. BRIAN McDERMOTT has been sacked by Leeds United as prospective new owner Massimo Cellino prepared to take charge of the Championship club. The departure of the 52-year-old manager, axed over the phone by a lawyer, came as the final touches were being put to a £25m buyout that will see the controversial Italian buy a 75 per cent stake from owners, Gulf Finance House. Former Middlesbrough defender Gianluca Festa, a close confidant of Cellino and someone whose request to sit in the Elland Road dugout during Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Ipswich Town was rejected by McDermott, is now expected to take charge of team affairs. The futures of assistant manager Nigel Gibbs and first-team coach Neil Redfearn remain unclear, though acting chief executive Paul Hunt has left Elland Road. Last night’s dramatic turn of events – which led to up to six clubs trying to capitalise on the uncertainty by snatching club captain Ross McCormack away at the 11th hour before the transfer window closed, just a few hours after the Scot had reaffirmed his commitment to United due to enjoying “playing under Brian McDermott” – left fans bewildered and angry.

A small number congregated at Elland Road and police had to be called to escort Cellino out of the stadium.

Sponsors, too, are believed to be distinctly unhappy by the manner of McDermott’s departure. Enterprise Insurance, whose name appears on the front of the club’s shirts, is understood to be ready to walk away, as is Academy sponsor, Flamingo Land.

Cellino’s proposed takeover is subject to approval by the Football League. Anyone buying more than a 10 per cent stake in a League club has to pass the Fit and Proper Persons’ Test.

The Italian’s chequered past – he has two previous convictions for fraud – must call into question whether United’s prospective new owner would pass the League’s strict rules.

Sources in Sardinia, however, suggest Cellino may opt to put someone else at the helm of the club with son Ercole among the favourites to take charge.

Last night, the Football League declined to comment.

Likewise, no one from United or GFH was available as the Yorkshire Post went to press.

The news that Cellino, who visited Elland Road and Thorp Arch a fortnight ago, has won the race to take charge will come as a blow to the rival British consortium that had also been hoping to take charge.

Former Sunderland marketing chief Mike Farnan and Adam Pearson, one-time chairman of Hull City, had earlier this week re-opened talks with GFH, the Bahrain investment bank that bought United from Ken Bates in December, 2012.

They had hoped to be granted a period of exclusivity after securing the necessary financial backing to launch a concerted bid for the club.

Now, though, Leeds are heading for Italian hands and, if sources are to be believed with regards Festa’s imminent appointment, their first foreign manager.

Cagliari-born Festa has made two visits to United’s Thorp Arch training ground in the past eight days. At least one of those was alongside Cellino’s son Ercole, while members of the United hierarchy were also believed to be present.

Aged 44, Festa is best known for a five-year spell at the Riverside with Boro from 1997. His only managerial experience, however, came during a brief stint as coach of Italian lower league side AC Lumezzane. He has previously been assistant manager at Cagliari.

Providing he does succeed McDermott, one of his first tasks will be to placate a squad unhappy with how their manager of the last nine months was dismissed. He will also have to win over a supporter base left despondent by this week’s drama.

McCormack, handed the captain’s armband by McDermott just a fortnight ago, remaining at Elland Road beyond the 11pm transfer deadline was a rare crumb of comfort for those same fans.

The Scot, with 19 goals this term, has been United’s talisman after signing a new long-term deal in the autumn.

Speaking about McDermott’s shock exit, McCormack said: “He called me up earlier and told me he was gone. It is hard times at the club and I am absolutely gutted because I had a really close relationship with the manager. “He made me the club captain recently and I was looking forward to continuing to work with Leeds United and Brian McDermott. “Obviously, things changed a lot quicker than anyone could have imagined. “It is the last day of the transfer window and I can’t believe what has happened. It is incredible.”

McCormack was the subject of a £4m offer from former club Cardiff City that was rejected by United during the afternoon.

The Scot was happy with that decision but the subsequent sacking of McDermott left him questioning his future.

He added: “I am very happy and content at the club but a big part of that was Brian McDermott. Obviously, if I had known earlier on then I would have had a right decision to make. “At the moment, it is still very raw and I am absolutely gutted.” McCormack spoke with McDermott following his sacking. He said: “I think Brian was a little bit surprised in terms of how quick it has happened but he always had an inkling it might happen. “The owners have come in and want to take it in a different direction. That is up to them. But, speaking on behalf of all the players, we would like to thank the gaffer for all his efforts, and wish him well in the future. I am happy at Leeds but I am gutted by the events that have taken place.”

Thurs 30th of January.  GFH Capital issued a statement after Haigh, saying: “GFH Capital can confirm that we are in continual discussions regarding the introduction of new investment into Leeds United.”



Weds 29th of January. Leeds takeover deal collapses reveals consortium. The consortium hoping to complete a takeover of Leeds this month have confirmed the deal has collapsed. Sport Capital, headed by the club’s current managing director David Haigh and Andrew Flowers, the managing director of their main sponsors, Enterprise Insurance, had agreed the terms of a buy-out with owners Gulf Finance House on November 30. But talks between the two parties reached an impasse when Sport Capital submitted a revised offer for 75 per cent of the club’s shares after completing due diligence and Haigh has now revealed some financial backers were unable to deliver. Haigh said in a statement: “As fans know, we signed a share acquisition agreement with GFH Capital at the end of last year. This meant, I believed, that we were in a position to move things forward and complete the transaction in time for the January transfer window.

“Throughout every stage of the process we sought to keep fans as fully updated as possible on the progress of the negotiations. “I can personally assure each and every supporter that every public statement made regarding the acquisition was made in the utmost good faith. “Unfortunately, however, some of the consortium’s backers ultimately didn’t feel able to deliver the financial backing we had hoped was agreed to take the club forward. “Despite this, the future of this club remains the most important thing to me personally and I remain totally committed to putting the right team and backing in place to ensure that Leeds United can move forward.” Haigh, who joined the board at Elland Road when GFH completed their takeover at Elland Road in December 2012, is still hoping to attract new investors. Cagliari owner Massimo Cellino has been in talks with the club in recent weeks. His representatives have been seen at the club’s Thorp Arch training complex and reports in Italy said he was close to completing a takeover. Another British consortium is also keen to take control of Leeds, who are searching for the right backers to help lift them back to the top flight for the first time in 10 years. Former managing director of Manchester United International Mike Farnan heads a British-based group who had an offer turned down in November.

Tues 28th. Leeds 1-1 Ipswich T.  UNITED 1 (McCormack 62 pen), IPSWICH 1 (McGoldrick 57). United: Kenny, Byram (Peltier 88), Lees, Pearce, Warnock, Austin, Brown (Mowatt 63), Kebe, Stewart, McCormack, Diouf (Poleon 63). Subs. Cairns, Pugh, Wootton, Murphy.. Referee: David Webb. Att: 20,461 (Report from LUFC) United manager Brian McDermott made one change to his side that impressed against league leaders Leicester City 10 days earlier. The one change saw Luke Varney miss out with El-Hadji Diouf starting in his place and partnered United skipper Ross McCormack up front. The game was only Diouf’s second appearance from the start of the season. The opening 10 minutes of the game past with little in the way of excitement as both sides struggled to gain control of proceedings. But on the quarter hour United winger Jimmy Kebe showed a glimpse of what he was capable of as he used his pace and trickery to beat a player but his cross into the box was cut-out by the defence. Moments later the first goalscoring opportuntity of the evening fell to the visitors. The away side worked the ball from a throw-in and Daryl Murphy played a ball forward that found David McGoldrick at the back post, the striker decided to take it first time and his strike went well wide of the mark. The pattern of the half continued in the same way until the 30 minute point when Jason Pearce was on hand to clear a McGoldrick shot. The ball was played across the box and Paul Anderson headed the ball into the striker’s path but his shot lacked any pace and the ball was a simple one for the United defender to clear.  The following minutes of the half belonged to the away side as they came on strong, with Paddy Kenny called into action to make a double save to keep the visitors at bay. Tom Lees also made a great last ditch tackle to thwart the Ipswich attack as they hit United on the break.

United weathered the storm and had their first chance on goal in the 35th minute when Rudy Austin got on the ball just inside the away half of the field. The midfielder carried the ball forward and struck from distance, the shot troubled the Ipswich keeper but he managed to turn the ball round his post.

With the half drawing to a close United’s second chance of the match opened up. Good build-up play between Diouf and and Stephen Warnock led to the full-back crossing for Ross McCormack but the ball was just too high for the Scot to connect.

The away side had a great chance to take the lead in the opening minute of the second half. A crossed ball was cleared but only as far as Ryan Tunnicliffe. The midfielder snatched at the opportunity and he could only watch his shot go wide. United had a chance of their own moments later when Cameron Stewart cut inside to strike, but his effort went over the crossbar.

The second period had a much higher tempo about it and the deadlock was broken on 57 minutes. The away side picked up the ball just inside United’s half and the ball was played to McGoldrick, the striker carried the ball, shot from 20-yards and his strike beat Kenny at his near post.

United responded well to going behind and were awarded a penalty on the hour mark when Stewart was brought down in the box by Luke Chambers. United striker McCormack was the man on the spot and made no mistake by smashing the ball past Dean Gerken.

Following the equaliser from the penalty spot Brian McDermott made a double change by introducing the young duo of Dominic Poleon and Alex Mowatt in the place of Michael Brown and Diouf.

United took control of the game after McCormack’s leveller and the striker had a further chance just minutes later. McCormack picked up a loose ball in the Ipswich penalty area and his strike looked destined for the back of the net but a deflection put the ball behind for a corner. With 20 minutes remaining the striker had another chance but his shot from just outside the box brought a great save from Gerken.

With the game heading into the final 10 minutes Warnock played a fantastic ball across the away side’s six-yard box. Although the ball just had too much pace on it for the onrushing United attackers to make the telling connection.

The final 10 minutes saw United doing most of the pushing and were the side that looked the more likely to steal a winner. But with no meaningful attempts on goal from either side the game ended all square. Not good enough by a long shot. It later emerged that Luke Varney refused to play because of an impending move to Ipswich Town. A very poor result and an equally poor result. Luke Varnet will not have endeared himself to supportres for resfusing to play whilst considering a move to Blackburn.  

Tues 28th of Jan. Confusion with takeover. Sport Capital’s offer for Leeds United was in disarray tonight after Andrew Flowers, a member of the group bidding to buy the club, hit out at Gulf Finance House and revealed that United’s owner was refusing to accept a revised offer for a majority stake.  Flowers – the managing director of Enterprise Insurance, United’s shirt sponsor – criticised GFH for engaging with another would-be buyer, Massimo Cellino, and said the Bahraini bank had “breached their covenant with us but much more importantly have breached their covenant with the fans.” Sport Capital, of which Flowers and United managing director David Haigh are both members, agreed the terms of a 75 per cent buy-out of Leeds on November 30 but have struggled to force the deal through amid growing signs of disagreements between the consortium and GFH. Cellino, who owns Italian Serie A club Cagliari, has emerged as a rival bidder in the past week and associates of his have been shown around Elland Road and United’s Thorp Arch training ground. The 57-year-old has two previous convictions for fraud and is awaiting a trial on charges of embezzlement. Commenting on the prospect of Cellino buying Leeds, a statement from Flowers said: “We are convinced this will not be in the interests of the club, the manager, the players or the fans. “We must ask the question whether the prospective preferred bidder understands anything about the culture of Leeds United, its fans, its heritage or British football.” Flowers confirmed that Sport Capital had reduced their offer to GFH for a 75 per cent stake, saying: “We were fully justified in revising our bid because a number of things have come to light which were not as originally described. “However as lifelong fans we believe our offer and plans were in the best interests of the club and its loyal supporters. “This boils down to much more than money but GFH have chosen to ignore that. “We believe the owners have breached their covenant with us but much more importantly they have breached their covenant with the fans.”

Mon 27th. of Jan. Rival consortium to bid for Leeds. A rival group to the Sport Capital consortium are positioning themselves to make a second offer for Leeds United and intensify the ownership struggle at Elland Road. A group led by ex-Manchester United employee Mike Farnan could submit an improved bid early this week after a deal between Sport Capital and Leeds owner Gulf Finance House reached an impasse. Sport Capital have been working on a 75 per cent buy-out for two months but their takeover has run into difficulties in the past fortnight and appeared to be no closer to completion last night. Farnan’s consortium, which includes ex-Hull City chairman Adam Pearson and Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity, made an unsuccessful offer for Leeds in November and looked to be out of the running once GFH agreed terms with Sport Capital later that month. Sport Capital, fronted by United managing director David Haigh, initially planned to complete their takeover before the start of the January transfer window but protracted negotiations with GFH and delays have opened the door to rival interest. Massimo Cellino, the owner of Serie A club Cagliari, was in England last week amid reports in Italy that he was planning to buy a 75 per cent shareholding in Leeds. The 57-year-old has held talks with Haigh and Enterprise Insurance managing director Andrew Flowers – another of the men behind Sport Capital – but they are yet to agree on any investment. Farnan, meanwhile, has given all the indications that his consortium will make a renewed offer to officials at GFH in Bahrain. He was unavailable for comment when contacted by the YEP but comments posted by him on Twitter suggested that his group would involve themselves again if Sport Capital failed to conclude a takeover by the end of last week. On Friday he hinted that his consortium were continuing to work in the background, saying he needed to maintain “radio silence for the sake of progress.” Haigh, however, took to Twitter yesterday to insist that Sport Capital “remain as committed as ever to finalising this.” As the ownership saga rumbled on, Leeds were waiting last night to learn whether West Ham United plan to follow up an initial bid for club captain and top scorer Ross McCormack. Leeds rejected a £3.5m offer from Upton Park on Friday and have yet to receive an improved approach. West Ham signed another striker on Saturday, taking Marco Borriello on loan from Roma for the rest of the season, and they have until Friday’s 11pm transfer deadline to make a better offer for McCormack.

Friday Jan 24th 2014. Hammers tempt Leeds with £3.5M offer for captain. Leeds United have rejected a £3.5million bid from West Ham United for captain and top scorer Ross McCormack. The Scotland international is at the centre of doubts about his future for the second transfer window running with West Ham trying to close out a deal to take him to Upton Park. Their approach for McCormack comes at the end of a worrying week in which Sport Capital – the group bidding to buy Leeds from current owner Gulf Finance House – struggled to bring their takeover to a conclusion. McCormack is United’s most influential and valuable player, with 18 goals to his name this season, and West Ham’s seven-figure offer materialised little over seven days after he was named as Leeds’ new captain by manager Brian McDermott. Last night’s bid is the second serious attempt to sign McCormack in the past year, following on from Middlesbrough’s persistent but failed push to take him to Teesside in August. United fought off Boro’s highest offer of close to £2million by handing McCormack a new four-year contract and making him their highest-paid player. The option of a switch to West Ham comes with the added incentive of a move to the Premier League, though Sam Allardyce’s squad are two places above the bottom of the division after 12 defeats from 22 games. The London club have suffered from a lack of goals throughout the season and McCormack is currently the Championship’s top scorer after a prolific run of form before Christmas. During an interview with the YEP in November, McCormack suggested that a transfer to a struggling top-flight side would not interest him, saying: “I signed a four-year contract because I definitely believe that within that contract we can get this club back into the Premier League. When we do that I’ll be a happy man. “You’ve got assess it – would you rather go to a Premier League team who might be in a relegation fight or do you stay here and try to become one of the top goalscorers ever at this club? It was a no-brainer and I’m privileged to play for such a big club.” The sale of McCormack midway through United’s campaign would be a deeply unpopular move at a time when United’s ownership structure and future direction remains unclear. Sport Capital agreed a deal to buy a 75 per cent stake from GFH two months ago but the buy-out has been under pressure this week amid disagreements between the two sides.

Tues Jan 22nd. Peripheral players get game time  Leeds United boss Brian McDermott says the friendly game with Burnley on Tuesday afternoon was a worthwhile exercise. Leeds fielded a strong side with all bar two players having first team experience this season. El Hadji Diouf, Matt Smith and Luke Murphy were all on target for Leeds as they beat Burnley 3-0 at Thorp Arch. It was also an opportunity for Adam Drury, Alex Mowatt, Scott Wootton, Michael Tonge, Dominic Poleon, Diouf and Murphy to get some game time, having been injured or left out of the side recently.
Speaking on the official website , McDermott said, “It was great for the senior players that needed game time to get the 90 minutes. “They showed a great attitude towards the game and applied themselves in the right way. “It was a worthwhile exercise for the players and the game is excellent news ahead of the Ipswich Town game on Tuesday night.”

Tues Jan 22nd. Takeover deadlock needs to be broken – Phil Hay  Talks between United’s owners GFH and sport capital to try and thrash out a deal for the club have yet to conclude. Phil Hay reports. The ongoing takeover of Leeds United was portrayed as a neat-and-tidy purchase of a club in good fettle but over days and weeks the mooted change of ownership has become as all-consuming as the last. There were shades of Neil Warnock in Brian McDermott’s remark that bringing negotiations to a satisfactory conclusion was United’s number one priority”; more crucial in McDermott’s eyes than the January transfer window. No matter the promises or the money at his disposal, the view of Leeds’ manager is that the club cannot move forward with conviction while uncertainty lingers in the background. On November 30, when United first announced a deal between owner GFH Capital and a consortium of British buyers, the projected timescale for completion was late December. By late December, sources involved in the process were talking about early January. Early January became the middle of the transfer window, and the window now closes in nine days’ time. Discussions between the two sides have continued unabated this week. It was inevitable as time ticked by that the delay in completion would beg the question of whether the buy-out had run into trouble. Yesterday it transpired that seven weeks on from their initial announcement, Gulf Finance House – the parent company of GFH Capital – and the firm trying to take control of Leeds, Sport Capital, were wrangling over unresolved issues and struggling to bring the takeover to a head. Rifts between Sport Capital – a consortium which includes United managing director David Haigh and Andrew Flowers, a senior figure at Enterprise Insurance – and GFH were revealed last week when it emerged that the Bahrain-based bank had opposed and prevented the signing of Ashley Barnes from Brighton, despite the availability of a £500,000 fee needed to complete the transfer. The decision from Bahrain was a peculiar one in light of GFH’s plan to take a large backward step at Elland Road. The bank announced on Monday that the terms of its sale to Sport Capital would see Haigh and Flowers’ four-man consortium take up a 75 per cent stake with GFH retaining a 10 per cent share. Its statement added only that the deal depended on Football League approval and Sport Capital fulfilling “certain obligations to complete the transaction.” GFH has been a willing seller for most of the past year and is prepared to relinquish its authority in return for repayment of much of the £30million-plus it spent on buying and running Leeds. Funding from Bahrain has dried up this season and prior to the end of 2013, Sport Capital claimed to have invested around £6million in the club, some of the cash put up for transfers but much of it used to meet day-to-day operating costs including wages. The annual accounts which United will publish before the end of March are expected to show that the club are losing money. In the circumstances, McDermott was happy to play the long game when he succeeded Warnock as manager in April. At his press conference before last weekend’s defeat to Leicester City, he offered the same message saying: “When I first came here I was told that this was a long-term project. The club wanted me to build the infrastructure, the academy, the training ground and build up numbers at Elland Road. “That can’t be forgotten and I have to focus on that – until I’m told that they’ve changed their minds and this is now a short-term project.” He went further after the Leicester loss – United’s fifth in a row, a downturn which has coincided with the takeover delay – by admitting that major work on his squad was likely to take place in the summer, rather than in what remains of January. He has made two signings this month, Cameron Stewart and Jimmy Kebe, but was unable to land Barnes due to boardroom conflict. Suggestions that he is keen to bring in Danny Graham on loan from Sunderland seem unlikely to lead to a third arrival with Nottingham Forest close to agreeing terms with the forward. Leeds are also being credited with a firm interest in Swansea City’s Leroy Lita. McDermott spoke highly of Haigh’s consortium at the weekend, describing them as “spot on” for the job of running United, but his comments about the delay in the handover of shares from GFH spoke volumes about the uncertainty the saga was causing. “This ownership situation is so important. That’s the key for me, the key going forward,” McDermott said. “I would say that the number one priority for the football club now is to get that over the line. I think the people who are coming in to take charge of this club are spot on for it, I really do. “They think of nothing except the good of Leeds United so obviously from my point of view it’s important that the deal is done as quickly as possible. They’ve got the club at heart. They’ll be really good people moving forward.” There are obvious implications of failed negotiations between Sport Capital and GFH, not least the question of whether Sport Capital’s members would halt further funding and look to recover the £6million they say they have invested in United. At least one of their payments was a loan, paid by a Dubai-based company for which Haigh acts as a director. Sport Capital’s offer to GFH is presently the only one which the Bahraini company has accepted. A bid for United worth a reported £7million was submitted by a group featured ex-Manchester United employee Mike Farnan, former Leeds commercial director Adam Pearson, Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity and United legend Lucas Radebe in mid-November, shortly before Sport Capital agreed to purchase a controlling stake of 75 per cent. Leeds rejected the £7million proposal out of hand. The rival group remain in the background with their own plan to invest in Leeds, though Farnan said on Twitter on Sunday that a “lock-out” by GFH had given Haigh the right to close out his takeover unhindered. Haigh for his part claimed on Saturday night that this week would bring “good news”.

Tues 22nd. Leeds chase Fryatt. Hull City misfit Matty Fryatt has attracted interest from Nottingham Forest, Leeds United, Sheffield Wednesday, Blackburn Rovers and League One side Wolverhampton Wanderers.According to Sky Sports former Leicester City striker Matty Fryatt is attracting interest from four of the Championship‘s biggest sides, including Leeds United and Nottingham Forest, and promotion chasers from the division belowFryatt, 27, has found first team chances in East Yorkshire hard to come by after making only five Premier League appearances this season. Despite the lack of game time for Hull, Fryatt made a huge impact when on loan at Sheffield Wednesday earlier this season, scoring 4 goals in 9 Championship appearances.  The promising spell at Hillsborough has caused Sheffield Wednesday throw their name in the hat along with three potential promotion candidates and a League One title contender. Nottingham Forest are currently the highest placed side reportedly in for the striker and a move to the City Ground ground could be a lucrative one for the player, in a deal that would suit both parties. Along with Forest, Leeds United are another side that could table an attractive offer for the player, after adding quality wide midfield players already this window. Despite only appearing in 18 league games in the past two seasons, it doesn’t seem to have halted interest in the striker. Where Fryatt will end up is still unknown, however, it’s inevitable he will be on the move after Hull’s recent heavy investment in the attacking department. 

Sunday 19th of January 2014. Where from here ? Leeds slumped to their fifth defeat in a row, but it would be a cold heart that would say they weren’t worthy of all three points from this match against the league leaders. This United performance bore no imitation to the side that limped off the pitch at Sheffield and at Rochdale. On another day Leeds could have won 5-2 but football is about taking your chances and the gilt edge chances Leeds had on the day were not converted by the normally reliable Ross McCormack. Lees and Varney also had super chances. Mind you it’s hard to be tough on player who is top scorer in the Championship with 17 goals. Others have to chip in also. The captaincy did not weigh heavily on McCormack’s shoulders as he reveled in the role alongside the lively Luke Varney up front. This was an astute move by McDermott.

Leeds players were much more comfortable in their 4-4-2 formation where each player knew his individual position and role within the team. The recalled Brown and Austin were totally dominant in central midfield whilst new additions Kebe and Stewart occupied the wide positions. Stewart looked lively especially in the second half, but Kebe continues to struggle, and once again was the one weak link in McDermott’s formation. Sam Byram was outstanding at right full and nullified completely the threat of Dyer on the left wing, the player who so often creates the chances for Vardy and Nugent. At left back the recalled Warnock had an impressive game apart from his delivery from set plays, and it was really only the one lapse in concentration from the Lees and Pearce partnership that cost the goal. Sometimes that’s all it takes and on this occasion that’s all it did take. McDermott named his side on Tuesday and prepared his side from Tuesday and it showed. That fox in the box Kevn Phillips with his lively presence, left the space open for predator, Nugent, and game over.

 Once again we had no help from the referee. Twice in the second half Leicester City  should have had players sent off by Mike Dean  (Knockaert two yellows and Morgan straight red). Leicester took their chance with two minutes to go and when you are top of the league the rub of the green certainly goes your way. It was very harsh on Leeds but it gives us a platform to launch forward from. The bookies who had Leeds at 7/2 in places to win this game nearly had egg on their faces. McDermott must now lift his charges for the arrival of Ipswich Town in nine days time. By then we should have another striker on board after McDermott admitted  meeting with one of his targets on Friday.

Leeds are six points off the play offs.  What will McDermott have taken from yesterday ? Leeds are well fit for any opposition in this division when they get stuck into them. 4-4-2 is the way forward. Kebe is a long way short of the player he had at Reading a few seasons ago. McDermott has to consider playing Byram right side of midfield and Peltier right back. Varney and McCormack both played very well against Ipswich Town at Portman Road and both scored. They will start again.  Brown and Austin look very dominant in midfield. The team has pace. Playing at a high tempo at home suits Leeds. With the right additions six to seven points (including goal difference) is not insurmountable but Leeds need to go on a run and quickly.


leicesters david nugent scores a last minute winner

Sat 18th. Smash and Grab. UNITED 0, LEICESTER 1 (Nugent 87). United: Kenny, Byram, Pearce, Lees, Warnock, Brown, Austin, Kebe (Peltier 85), Stewart, McCormack, Varney (Diouf 85). Subs. Cairns, Wootton, Mowatt, Murphy, Poleon. 75), Dyer (King 79), Moore, Knockaert, Nugent. Subs. Hammond, Logan, Mahrez, Wood. Referee: M Dean Booked: Byram (Leeds), Att: 22,678  (Report from LUFC) United manager Brian McDermott made no fewer than four changes to his starting line-up for the visit of the Championship leaders. There were recalls for Stephen Warnock, Michael Brown, Sam Byram and Luke Varney, who joined newly-appointed club captain Ross McCormack up front with Matt Smith serving the first of his three match suspension. There was also a change in formation for United as the boss went for a traditional 4-4-2 line-up with Jimmy Kebe and Cameron Stewart operating on the wings. United started brightly and the home crowd really got behind their team following good pressing play by Rudy Austin and Brown. During the opening 10 minutes of the match both sides had a real sight of the goal. Firstly, following persistant build-up play from Varney a McCormack header struck the post and moments later Jamie Vardy showed great pace to beat the United defence to the ball but his shot hit the post. Before the opening 10 minutes were up McCormack was at the heart of another United attack. The Scot’s chipped effort had to be cleared off the line and then Kasper Schmiechel was called upon to make a great save as McCormack smashed the clearance goalbound. United continued to show an attacking threat and on the quarter-hour mark Kebe came close to marking his home debut with a goal. The chance came from a deep Austin cross and United had a number of players at the back post waiting but it was Kebe who connected but his header went into the side netting. Moments later United had a great chance to take the lead when McCormack was through on goal after some good closing down by the midfield. McCormack was through one-on-one with Schmeichel, but the former United stopper made himself big and as McCormack went to chip him he reached out to parry the ball to safety. As the half went on United continued to dominate the league leaders and midway through the first half Tom Lees could have put his side ahead. Following a cleared corner Warnock swung a cross into the penalty area which Lees met in the six-yard box, but his header went inches over the bar. As the 30 minute mark past the away side began to settle into the game and that brought their second chance of the afternoon. Leicester hit United on the counter and releashed Anthony Knockaert, who struck at goal from outside the box but his shot went over. Although the midfielder’s shot went over Paddy Kenny’s crossbar it just showed the threat that the away side possess on the break. With the opening half drawing to close the game was a much more even contest, both sides had their chances in the first half as both teams struck the upright, but the game remained goalless at the break. United started the second half on the front foot and saw early chances come their way in the form of a McCormack free-kick and a Brown shot from the edge of the area, both were dealt with well by the away defensive lines. As the half went on the away team showed a more attacking side of their game as they had a good spell of possession after United early shots at goal. The best of Leicester’s chances fell to Matty James whose curling effort went just wide of Kenny’s post. Following the hour mark Stewart showed good pace to release two strikes at goal. The first was blocked my Wes Morgan who pressured the young winger and the second, that was also blocked, went wide of the mark. Moments later United had a penalty shout turned down after McCormack and Kebe combined well in the away area. The next 10 minutes of the match saw very little in the way of goalscoring opportunities but as the game went into the final 10 the away side had a good chance. Kevin Phillips was found at the back post but instead of shooting for goal the veteran striker pulled the ball back for Andy King. The midfielder’s first time effort went just over the bar. With five minutes remaining the United boss made a double change by introducing Lee Peltier and El-Hadji Diouf in the place of Kebe and Varney. The change saw Byram move forward to the right wing with Peltier slotting in at full-back and Diouf played up front with McCormack. And minutes later the deadlock was broken when the away side took the lead with just three minutes of the match remaining. David Nugent was the man who got the goal after he latched onto Phillips step-over following a Liam Moore cross. Nugent beat Lees to the ball and controlled it in fornt of the United defender the striker poked the ball past Kenny to give his side a 1-0 away win.


Brian McDermott post match interview to LUTV : “Absolutely gutted. I was gutted. We didn’t deserve that. I’d take 3-0 at half time. That’s football for you. Top of the league team comes here. They have absolutely nicked it. I’ve done it myself in my career.  They have done that more than once this season. That’s what I am trying to get here, how to keep the ball. You saw signs here today of something I trying to get to  That’s the first time I have been able to put a side out in my image of where I want to be. At least we have restored the pride in the shirt.  We’ve all been players and we all know what that feels like.  There’s no point in me saying it’s a much better performance than Sheffield Weds. We expect that but we must start getting the results”. The intensely smug and dislikable Pearson had this to say :  “Phillips has a presence and a reputation, for somebody who’s the age he is, to be able to get into a game as quickly as he did. “It’s testament to how he’s looked after himself and it’s not just the physical side of it, when you get older, to still have that desire and that hunger to play is quite remarkable. “There won’t be too many players of his ilk and I’m delighted that we’ve got him. “He showed an awful lot of intelligence out there. Hopefully that will be important for us in the second half of the season.” Nugent’s late strike was tough on Leeds, who slipped to a fourth straight league defeat. “We made a lot of mistakes, let’s be clear on this, it was probably a bit hard on Leeds,” Pearson added. “It depends on how you want to look at it. Some people could argue we were a bit fortunate, or from our perspective we would say that, on a day that it wasn’t a polished performance, we showed different qualities and were able to get ourselves out of tricky situations.”  

Friday Jan 17th. McDermott pleads for “patience”. Brian McDermott made an impassioned plea for patience and support from Leeds United as he vowed to overcome his immediate troubles and repeat the success he inspired at Reading. The 52-year-old coach spoke out in defence of his credentials and track record by saying he would “get this club into the right place – given time.” McDermott has spent this week picking up the pieces from Leeds’ rout at Sheffield Wednesday and regrouping his squad for tomorrow’s meeting with Leicester City, the Championship’s title favourites. The United manager said Saturday’s 6-0 thrashing at Hillsborough – the club’s fourth straight defeat and their heaviest in a league match for more than half a century – left him fearing that the board at Elland Road might soon lose patience with deteriorating results. But McDermott, who signed a three-year deal with Leeds less than 12 months ago, believes he has the “100 per cent” backing of managing director David Haigh and acting chief executive Paul Hunt. He said he was confident that long-term commitment would allow him to replicate the progress which brought Reading the Championship title in 2012.When I took the job at Reading we were 23rd in the league,” McDermott said. “We came eighth that season.

The following season we got to the quarter-finals of a cup twice and got beaten in the play-off final. The season after that we won the league. So it took two-and-a-half years to get to where I wanted us to be. “Given time I know that I can get this club into the right place – given time. That’s what you hope for. You certainly need it at this club. “When I first came here I was told that this was a long-term project. The club wanted me to build the infrastructure, the academy, the training ground and build up numbers at Elland Road. That can’t be forgotten and I have to focus on that, until I’m told that they’ve changed their minds and this is now a short-term project. “In the medium term and long term, given time I’m sure, absolutely sure, we’ll get it right.” Asked if he was anxious about his board’s reaction to the 6-0 loss at Hillsborough, McDermott said: “Yes, when you get beat 6-0. This is 2014. That (the possibility of time running out) would cross your mind. But we’ve had three managers in 20 months here. If you’ve got a manager with a track record who’s done it before, he needs time.

David Haigh has been nothing but supportive. Paul Hunt and David Haigh, 100 per cent supportive. When you’re a manager and you get beaten in the way we’ve been beaten, you need that support.” McDermott brought in two new players before United’s derby at Wednesday, signing Cameron Stewart and Jimmy Kebe from Hull City and Crystal Palace respectively, but a bid to land Ashley Barnes from Brighton fell foul of high-level politics at Leeds. The YEP revealed yesterday that the move for Barnes was blocked by United owner Gulf Finance House, despite Sport Capital – the consortium who are poised to buy a majority stake in Leeds – promising to fund an up-front fee of £500,000. Barnes signed for Burnley last Friday, depriving McDermott of a key January target. “It didn’t happen,” McDermott said. “The whys and wherefores don’t matter to me. If we start talking about the whys and wherefores it might not be a good thing. “I thought there was a good chance it would happen. He didn’t sign till quite late in the day for Burnley went but he signed for Burnley. He’s gone. “As far as I’m concerned, all that matters is getting the club to the right place and getting a result against Leicester.” The takeover planned by Sport Capital – a deal which was agreed on November 30 but has dragged into the second half of the transfer window – would negate the influence of Gulf Finance House on operations at Elland Road, with the Bahrain-based bank set to retain a small stake. The delay in completing the buy-out has created uncertainty for McDermott and the club, though Sport Capital – a group which includes Haigh – continue to insist that they have the necessary funds in place to secure 75 per cent of shares from GFH. McDermott said: “I speak to David every day and we’re hopeful that everything will be done and dusted. Because that’s what we need. We need everything clarified now. Then we can concentrate solely on the football.”

United have taken an interest in Reading’s Adam Le Fondre after failing to sign Barnes but McDermott appeared sceptical about the striker’s availability, saying: “I don’t think Reading would sell Adam Le Fondre to Leeds. I don’t think it would happen whether I wanted him or not.”

Friday Jan 17th. McDermott to meet with striker. Speaking to LUTV, Brian McDermott has confirmed that he will be meeting with a potential transfer target on Friday, prior to the Leicester game. @ThomKirwin: “Brian McDermott interview will be on #lutv tomorrow, he tells me he’s meeting with a transfer target on Friday. #lufc”  In his press conference today, McDermott suggested that he did not expect Leeds’s transfer activity to be done for the January window, despite dismissing links to Reading striker Adam Le Fondre, who he brought to the club whilst managing them. He said: He’s a Reading player, it’s nothing to do with me. We will have opportunities to sign players. We might sign one player, we might sign three.” McDermott also stressed the importance of long term thought regarding his position as manager, talking about the fact that Leeds have had almost ten managers in the last ten years. He is also showing a similar thought process regarding transfers into the club, clarifying that he would be interested in signing players on pre-contract arrangements in preparation for next season. The suggestion regarding El-Hadji Diouf is that he will be moving out during the upcoming window. Diouf, pictured left, is out of contract in June and has little prospect of receiving an extension to his deal. He and McDermott spoke about his options earlier this week and McDermott said: “I told him I’m trying to build something here. “If there’s an opportunity that’s right for him, then yes (he can go). “But if not then he’s here.”

Thursday January 16th. McCormack is new captain. Ross McCormack has been named as the new captain of Leeds United. United manager Brian McDermott confirmed that the club’s leading goalscorer will be handed the armband following discussions this week. The Scot will replace midfielder Rudy Austin, who was appointed club captain at the start of the season. “The situation is that I had a good conversation with Rudy Austin. He is a great guy and we had a good discussion. I want Rudy to play his game. He feels his personality isn’t conducive to that role. “You can see his leadership qualities in the way he plays and tracks back. Leeds United means so much to him. I just want to take that pressure away and I want him to play the way he wants with freedom. “I actually spoke to Ross in April and said ‘we need leaders and you are leader.’ Whether he saw himself as a leader then I don’t know. “I see him as a talisman and a leader. He has matured an awful lot, everyone knows what he thinks he about Leeds United.” Ross will lead the team out at Elland Road for the first time on Saturday. “I’m really proud,” said Ross. “It’s a massive club and to take on that role…it’s a proud moment for me. It was always one thing that I sort of always wanted. I always wanted to be a captain but I never thought it would be at such a big club as this though. I’m really honoured.” Speaking on the appointment, United manager Brian McDermott described Ross as “a talisman” and said he had matured this season. “Over the last 18 months I think that I have changed as a person for the better,” said the new skipper. “I look after myself a lot better off the pitch now. On the pitch I feel good. I get on well with everyone in the squad and maybe that is what the gaffer has seen to pass the captaincy onto me. “Everyone goes on about telling people off and all the rest of it, but I think that if you lead by example on the pitch and do your own job then you can pull people along with you. Hopefully I can rub off on other players with the things that I do on the pitch and in training. I’ll be looking to set a good example. “I think that everyone will scrutinise your every move and everyone will know exactly what you are doing. You’ve got to take that into consideration and you’ve got to realise what you are doing. It will be a good experience for me and I’m looking forward to it. “We’ve got a good opportunity this year. We are not far away. We’ve not been playing well but that can turn around in this league and there is no better game than there is on Saturday to help turn it around.”

Thursday January 16th. GFH block Leeds bid for Barnes. THE proposed transfer of Ashley Barnes from Brighton to Leeds United was blocked by senior officials at club owner Gulf Finance House. The firm’s refusal to sign off the six-figure move last week saw a major target of manager Brian McDermott’s bypass Leeds and join Burnley instead. United are understood to have had cash in place to pay Brighton an up-front fee of £500,000 and were confident of persuading Barnes to reject Burnley’s offer in favour of signing a contract at Elland Road. But individuals with Gulf Finance House (GFH), the parent company of Leeds’ majority shareholder GFH Capital, objected to the signing despite the availability of funds needed to finalise a transfer. Bahrain-based Gulf Finance House is in the process of selling a controlling interest in United to a consortium led by Leeds managing director David Haigh but the Islamic bank is technically in charge of operations at Elland Road with the takeover still to go through. Haigh’s group, which includes Andrew Flowers, the managing director of United shirt sponsor Enterprise Insurance, have helped to finance United this season and claim to have invested around £6m into the club prior to the turn of the year. They also stated that transfer funds were being given to McDermott prior to completion of their buy-out, a deal which has been dependent on Football League approval and is now running into the second half of the January window. The influence of the consortium – operating under the name Sport Capital – suggested that GFH’s involvement in the running of United had significantly reduced but the dispute over Barnes and the failure to conclude a move which one source claimed was “as good as done” raises questions about high-level divisions at Elland Road with ownership of Leeds yet to change hands. United completed two signings last week, bringing Cameron Stewart in from Hull City and taking Jimmy Kebe on loan from Crystal Palace, but Barnes was prominent on McDermott’s list of potential signings and his switch to Burnley came as a frustrating setback. The Leeds boss looks increasingly likely to bid for Reading’s Adam Le Fondre with a new striker a priority and his squad are under pressure after four straight defeats, the most recent a 6-0 thrashing at Sheffield Wednesday last Saturday. A spokesman for GFH Capital was contacted about Barnes last night but refused to comment. Sport Capital’s planned buy-out of Leeds is set to see Haigh, Flowers and two other backers acquire a 75 per cent stake in the club with GFH Capital retaining a minority shareholding. GFH Capital – a Dubai-based private equity firm and a subsidiary of GFH – bought Leeds from Ken Bates in December 2012 but has been looking to sell a large portion of its shares for much of its time in charge. In a statement issued last week, United said Sport Capital had been “funding the club during the transactional period and will continue to do so ahead of completion”, implying that GFH was no longer the main supply of financial support. Haigh added: There are funds in place for the January transfer window and we are working closely with Brian McDermott regarding his plans. Hopefully we will all see some of this work come to fruition in the coming days.” Football League approval is still to be officially confirmed by Leeds but it is understood that the governing body has not objected to the takeover and is willing to allow it to proceed.GFH was prompted to outline its agreement with Haigh’s consortium yesterday after what it called “extra-ordinary trading of GFH shares” in Kuwait and Dubai. In a statement to the Dubai Financial Market, GFH said: “We would like to notify our shareholders and the market that GFH has recently signed an agreement with a consortium of British investors for a partial sale of its stake in Leeds United Football Club. “The investors are currently in their final stage to fulfil their subsequent obligation to obtain the transaction and obtain approval from the English Football (League).” Meanwhile, United’s Sky Bet Championship clash at Brighton and Hove Albion has been re-arranged for Tuesday February 11 (7.45pm). The game was due to take place on Saturday, January 25, but was cancelled due to Brighton’s involvement in the FA Cup.  Elsewhere, United’s opponents on Saturday – Leicester City – have signed veteran striker Kevin Phillips on a short-term deal until the end of the season.


Tues 13th of January. Leeds legend Bobby Collins passes away. TRIBUTES were today being paid to Leeds United great Bobby Collins after his death at the age of 82. Bobby, a pivotal figure in the early years of the Don Revie revolution at United, passed away yesterday (January 13) following a battle with illness. Fellow Revie era hero Eddie Gray last night led the praise for a man who once said his transfer to Leeds was the best thing that had ever happened to him. Gray said: “In my opinion Bobby Collins was probably the most influential player in the history of Leeds United. He will be sadly missed by all who knew him and played with him.” Another Revie legend, Johnny Giles, told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “Bobby was the crucial signing for Don. First of all for his ability, but also because of his will to win and the example he set the younger players.” Midfield dynamo Bobby joined Leeds from Everton in 1962 and went on to make 167 appearances in five years for the Whites, scoring 26 goals. The Scot was Revie’s on-field leader as they began their transformation from Second Division also-rans to a European soccer superpower. He was voted Footballer of the Year in 1965 and in the same season captained United in their first FA Cup final. Bobby stayed in Leeds after his retirement, spending some time coaching at schools in Hunslet. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2002. Speaking in 2008, his wife, Betty, said: “One thing [he] hasn’t lost is his football skill. If you kick a ball towards him he can still do a lovely little backheel.” Bobby’s playing career also included a long and successful spell with Celtic. As a manager, he had stints at Huddersfield Town, Hull City and Barnsley. RIP Bobby- Louth Branch !

RIP Bobby Collins – A player even Billy Bremner looked up to, a Leeds legacy. (From Sabotage Times) Born: 16/02/31

Birthplace: Govanhill, Glasgow Signed from: Everton Leeds united debut: Swansea Town (H) 10/03/62 Left Leeds for: Bury  Leeds’ most important ever signing?  Few have made such an impact and been so singularly responsible for creating the basic philosophy of the club. There are many parallel’s between the nature of Bobby Collins arrival at Leeds and that of Gordon Strachan 27 years later, and it is true that they were both brought in from a higher division as experienced Scottish internationals by a manager seeking leadership. It is also true that they ultimately achieved tangible success. The difference is that Collins laid the foundations for a reign of unprecedented success far greater than the one he personally played a part in. He was the player that even Billy Bremner looked up to, and for the legacy he helped to create, Leeds United will be forever in his debt.

He was Revie’s first ‘main man’ then? Precisely, yes. Revie had a game-plan and he knew he had a collection of gifted youngsters, but he needed somebody to seize control and nurture his unfocussed starlets. Collins became Revie’s enforcer, the heart and soul of his team, and even from the depths of the Second Division, where they sat entrenched when Collins arrived, Revie could foresee the qualities he required in his team to ensure they rose to the very top. Collins was a pocket-sized street fighter who knew no fear, and furthermore, he knew that intimidation was a crucial psychological weapon in reducing the effectiveness of the opposition. Collins instilled the ‘win at all costs’ ethic that Revie’s team became synonymous with, but he did it whilst also proving he was a fantastic footballer.


Revie pulled off a coup with the signing: Definitely. Collins had spent ten years with Celtic and four with Everton, and as a Scottish international he held a proud and respected status in the game. Noting he was disgruntled at Everton, Revie made an audacious move and shocked the top clubs by agreeing a £25,000 fee for him in March 1962. Revie said “I have never come across anyone with such a fierce will-to-win and dedication to the game … As manager of Leeds, I had been searching for some time for a midfield general with the character and skill really to motivate the team, and Bobby fitted the bill perfectly.”

Immediate dividends: Leeds were going nowhere when Collins signed, but his arrival prompted Revie himself to retire from playing, so he could oversee his masterplan with clarity. In his second full season of 1963/64 Collins, as captain, guided Leeds to the Second Division title, and with his influence implanted amongst the young side, not least his fellow Scot and midfield partner Billy Bremner, Collins fought and inspired his troops to further success.

So nearly the double: Leeds sneaked up on the blind side and very nearly pulled off the unique achievement of the league and cup double in their first season in the top flight. Collins was the passing, moving heartbeat of the side, but also the physical, menacing presence, even at 5ft 4’, that gave Leeds a critical edge in the heat of battle, at a time when football was as much about surviving brutal encounters as it was displaying genuine football skills. Crucially, Collins could do both. His energy and authority rubbed off on the team and earned him not only a Footballer of the Year award in 1965, but also his first Scotland cap in six years, at the age of 34.

A bad injury at a bad time though: A bad time for Collins, though not necessarily for Leeds United, as it made a difficult decision for Revie much easier. Leeds, in their first ever European experience, had won 2-1 at Elland Road in the first leg of the Inter-City Fairs Cup tie with Torino of Italy. The second leg was a typically tight and physical affair which Leeds navigated successfully with a 0-0 draw, but at great expense to their skipper Collins, who suffered a horrific broken thigh bone via a challenge from Torino defender Fabrizio Poletti. Norman Hunter recalls “I can still remember the tackle that put him out of the game and left us to battle for forty-five minutes with only ten men. Bobby and I were both well up the field when I saw a big defender coming towards him. Bobby was extremely quick over five to ten yards and he knocked the ball forward and accelerated after it but the big guy didn’t pull up. He kept on running and his knee went right into Bobby’s thigh. When I got to Bobby, his leg was waving around at the top because the bone was snapped high up the leg. It was horrendous.”

Jack Charlton also remembered it vividly “…Bobby was lying there, the referee wanted to move him off the park, and the Turin players were trying to bundle him off. I wouldn’t let them move him; I knew that if Bobby Collins wouldn’t get up, he must have something broken. I stood over him, whacking one Italian and punching another to keep them back, until eventually the referee realised that Bobby must be seriously hurt and called for a stretcher.” Remarkably, Collins recovered to play a part in the tail end of that season, but his number was up.

Revie had plans didn’t he? In Collins absence, Revie paired Giles with Bremner in central midfield and handed Bremner the captaincy, which he would not relinquish for another 11 years. Maybe this was the plan all along, but upon his return to fitness, Revie didn’t see Collins having the same influence as before, and as Collins himself reluctantly acknowledged, he saw that Bremner and Giles “would be superb together”. Collins was granted a free transfer to Bury in February 1967, satisfied his job was done.

What if he had never signed for Leeds? Revie’s club may have slid from second tier mediocrity to lower-league obscurity, and Bremner, Hunter, Giles et all may never have been the players they were.

In a nutshell: Immense in almost every sense!


Billy Bremner to Torino defender Fabrizio Poletti seconds after breaking the thigh bone of his team mate and idol Bobby Collins “I’ll kill you for this!”

Bobby Collins speaking after being operated on in a Turin hospital for his thigh injury “When I came round, he told me that he had reset my shattered thigh bone with a fifteen inch pin and was confident that I would play again.”

Jack Charlton on seeing Bobby Collins after his injury: “He smiled when he saw us, and then he said, ‘Take a look at this.’ … There was a bolt through his leg – not a shiny silver bolt, but something that looked like it came out of a scrapyard.”

Billy Bremner on Bobby Collins: “I learned many great lessons from Bobby Collins, not the least being able to take the knocks as well as hand them out and always play the game as a man. They say that one man doesn’t make a team – but Bobby Collins came nearer to doing it than anyone else I have ever seen on a football field.”

Jack Charlton on Bobby Collins: “Bobby Collins set the standard that you could do anything to get a result, and it rubbed off on all of us. It was win at all costs. And why not?”


1961/62 11 Apps 1 goal

1962/63 44/9

1963/64 44/6

1964/65 48/10

1965/66 12/0

1966/67 8/0

Total 167/26

Honours with Leeds United

1963/64 Second Division Champions

1964/65 Named FAW Footballer of the Year

International Career

Scotland Caps 31

Scotland Goals 10

Monday Jan 12th. Sheff Weds could have scored ten – Eddie Gray. SATURDAY was a deeply disappointing all-round performance. We just never played from the start and for a local derby, it couldn’t have got any worse.  The sending-off of Matt Smith ensured it ended up as a real thrashing. But having said that, we should have been three or four down at half-time. So we can’t look upon that as a excuse. Even when we went down to ten men, we should have made it more difficult for them. We were never going to win, but it was about damage limitation and getting men behind the ball and making it hard for them. We just lost all our discipline and they could have scored ten and Chris Kirkland had nothing to do in the game. In terms of the sending-off, I thought it was harsh. It magnified our problems, but having said that we got murdered in the first half. It was very hard to judge the two new boys, Jimmy Kebe and Cameron Stewart, who never got going or were in the game and it was a hangover from the Rochdale game, when they could have won by four or five goals as well. I just didn’t think the formation worked and for me, Ross McCormack cannot play up front on his own. It’s okay when you are playing well and seeing plenty of the ball and knocking it around, with one-twos and knocking the ball down the sides of defences. But we were knocking balls up in the air to Ross and the balls were coming down with snow on them! Ross was ploughing the loneliest of furrows. In the midfield, we never got into the game and defensively, we were given a really hard time by their two strikers and Connor Wickham was a right handful. Give them credit, they played well, while for us it was just one of those games you want to forget. It was probably worse than against the likes of Hereford and Histon. Defensively, it just went wrong after the first goal. Everyone was just drawn to the ball and you knew the big left-back was going to score. You couldn’t say any player was tuned in all game and by the end, we were just following the ball all over the shop. From right-back to outside-left, we got outplayed all the way through the team. Looking back to the Rochdale game, the only player who played well was Paddy Kenny and you couldn’t even say that on Saturday when you concede six. Brian had the players in yesterday and by his own admission, he said it was humiliating. I felt for him on the touchline and salt was rubbed in the wounds, when the fourth official put up the board for four minutes of injury time and then got the final goal to make it six. It was just a day to forget and move on from. Now we have an opportunity to face the league leaders in Leicester. I’m sure some will be saying: ‘Oh dear.’ But as Brian said, it might be better to face someone like that when something like Saturday has happened; it might focus us to get back on track. We have got to get hold of the ball more in midfield areas and win the battle. It’s not just about challenges, but keeping possession of the ball. At the minute, we are struggling to get possession of it. We aren’t doing the basics of the game. We are making ten or 15-yard passes and putting people in trouble with misplaced balls. Towards the end of the game on Saturday, it was just a shambles with players running all over the shop and they were getting through us at will. In terms of where it leaves us in the league, if you look at the table, we are still not that far away from the play-offs. I am sure Brian will still be looking to bring players in. At this present time, we are in a group of teams who will be thinking they still have a chance of top-six. Although I know that’s an easy thing to say. Something I have said before in this column is that performances catch up with you. For me, I don’t think we played as well as people thought we did when we were getting good results. For example, we won 4-2 at Charlton. But we had four shots on goal and scored four. We have not had good enough possession of the ball for me.

Monday Jan 2th 2013. Leeds players called in for crisis talks.-  Phil Hay YEP.  LEEDS United’s players were called into Thorp Arch for urgent talks yesterday with manager Brian McDermott fighting to reassert control after a 6-0 battering at Sheffield Wednesday.  McDermott and his squad held a meeting at United’s training ground to address their woeful form and attempt to draw a line under the club’s heaviest league defeat for 55 years. An appalling loss at Hillsborough on Saturday – following on from Leeds’ dire FA Cup exit at the hands of Rochdale – prompted McDermott to bring his players and staff together after what he described as a “terrible, terrible weekend for Leeds United.” “I’ve done that in the past and I’ll do it in the future,” McDermott said. “You have meetings when things are going well but you have meetings when things are like this too. “It’s a terrible, terrible weekend for Leeds United and it’s humiliating for all of us. But I’m part of the group and we’re all in this together. “We had a good run and we’re up to 35 points in the league but we’re having a poor time now. We’ve gone from north to south and we need to get out of this together.” Leeds dropped to 11th in the Championship on Saturday evening, weighed down by three straight league defeats, and a bewildered McDermott conceded that his management was under heavy scrutiny after a two hard and costly weeks. United lost Matt Smith to a 46th-minute red card at Hillsborough but Wednesday were already two goals to the good and dictating a one-sided Yorkshire derby. “I put pressure on myself,” McDermott said. “I don’t want to be in the position we’re in but I try to look at it over a season. “We’ve given ourselves a platform with 21 games to go but it obviously puts pressure on you as a manager, a squad and a group of staff if you get beaten the way we’ve been beaten.” The Leeds boss, however, said he did not believe he was losing the faith of United’s board who handed him a three-year contract in April. “I don’t see that,” McDermott said. “They’re good people. But that result’s a bitter disappointment and no-one’s more disappointed than me. It’s dreadful.” Leeds United’s defeat by Sheffield Wednesday was the club’s heaviest league loss for 55 years. How does it stack up against previous disasters? Here is Leeds’ list of shame…

• August 27, 1934: Stoke City 8 Leeds United 1 (Division One).

• November 7, 1966: West Ham United 7 Leeds United 0 (League Cup).

• September 4, 1979: Arsenal 7 Leeds United 0 (League Cup).

• February 9, 1929: West Ham United 8 Leeds United 2 (Division One).

• March 16, 1935: Chelsea 7 Leeds United 1 (Division One).

• March 3, 1937: Everton 7 Leeds United 1 (Division One).

• April 8, 1933: Chelsea 6 Leeds United 0 (Division One).

• January 11, 2014: Sheffield Wednesday 6 Leeds United 0 (Sky Bet Championship).

Sunday Jan 12th. Can under pressure McDermott survive – Right in the Gary Kellys Pressure. It’s a word that seems to dominate the world of football. There’s always a manager under pressure somewhere, with only a few games to save his job, or a few more points needed to win promotion/reach the play offs/escape relegation (delete as applicable). It’s fair to say that you and I don’t deal with that kind of short term pressure every day we go to work. If we make a mistake, it’s not seen by millions or analysed endlessly in the press and on social media. If we make a decision and get it wrong, it’s unlikely to cost millions (with the exception of those in more important jobs than me!)

The last few weeks have shown that Brian McDermott is starting to feel this pressure. For McDermott it’s a dual pressure; having to succeed in Management coupled with the expectation that comes with that Management job being at Leeds United. It’s done for countless players and managers in the past – only recently Simon Grayson spoke of how Barry Bannan and Jake Livermore couldn’t handle the pressure of wearing the white shirt when he signed them on loan a couple of seasons ago. And they are now established top flight players!

McDermott’s cool exterior and calm appearance in the media has been betrayed by tactical decisions that have seemed stranger and stranger in recent weeks. We’ve all done it – you make one mistake, and then make a series of further mistakes whilst dealing with the pressure of trying to rectify that initial gaffe. The first mistake was persevering with three at the back. A surprise success when it was introduced against a shambolic Birmingham, McDermott seems to have been blinded to it’s failings by the early successes. He spoke of it being a ‘best fit’ for the players we had available. Yet that was very much dependent on those players being somewhere near the top of their game. In recent weeks the midfield three has disintegrated; Austin in all over the place, Murphy has started doing David Norris impressions and way, way too much is being expected and asked of poor Alex Mowatt. The back three are doing their best to catch up though – Lees looked lost yesterday, and poor Marius Zaliukas has gone from being the new Lucas Radebe to the new Neill Collins in less than a month. McDermott’s first steps should have been to do what he spoke of after yesterday’s calamity – to go back to basics. 4-4-2 should have been employed by the Rochdale game at the very latest, yet that old word ‘pressure’ raised its head again. Convinced that sticking with three at the back was the way forward, he instead tweaked it to a yet unseen 3-4-3 variant. The results spoke for themselves. All the while though he had an excuse. We had no wingers so we HAD to play wing backs to give us some width. Until this week.

I don’t think anyone expected us to play both wing backs and wingers yesterday. With the aforementioned problems with Austin and Mowatt, it was a recipe of disaster of the highest order. And so it proved. Coupled with the mistakes of playing an incredibly rusty Jimmy Kebe (yep, pressure again, this time to use wingers that we’ve all been crying out for), and leaving Sam Byram and Matt Smith on the bench, it showed that pressure has started to overrule common sense. What exactly were four  wide men supposed to do with only Ross McCormack to aim for?

In a weird way, yesterday might help us in the long term. The answer is not to throw lots of new players at it, and it’s certainly not to throw a new Manager at it. The answer is, as McDermott said yesterday, to get back to basics. Sit down, look at the players we have now, and decide which ones can help take us forward. We’ve seen with Danny Pugh that no member of the squad is beyond redemption. Would Paul Green or Michael Tonge offer us something in a 4-4-2 at the moment? Would Diouf bring the calmness that is lacking? If the answer is no, then rather than persevering with tactics and personnel that are clearly not working, any money available needs to be spent wisely on players that will improve what we already have. Kebe and Stewart wil do this, but there’s not much point buying Pirelli tyres for your car if the engine has seized up!

So again we come back to pressure. That pressure at the moment lies squarely on McDermott’s shoulders. Can he make the big decisions? Can he change the formation back to 4-4-2, can he drop Austin, and even strip him of the captaincy if it might help? Can he motivate players who have not featured in months to step in and help? We have to hope the answer is yes. Because if it isn’t, and we see any more performances like we’ve witnessed in the last couple of weeks, that pressure will transfer to David Haigh. Changing the Manager is not the answer, but football is a ruthless business. Let’s hope Brian uses yesterday as the nadir it was, and we start moving forward again. The pressure of being Leeds United Manager is huge – can McDermott handle it? 

Sunday 12th of January. Where do we go from here ? It’s difficult to know where to start after yesterday’s shambles. Leeds were a disaster all over the pitch and off the pitch for that matter. Brian McDermott got it badly wrong…..again. That’s four bad defeats on the bounce and a public trial on TV thrown in for good measure. Whilst every fan’s phone no doubt vibrated every 10 seconds or so (and not with good news) our players and management can hide out today behind the sentries that is Thorp Arch. How quickly the good news over the past few days dissolves into gloom over South Yorkshire. We deserve better.


3-5-2 with two wingers was baffling and starting both new signings, one of whom has made just a handful of appearances (Kebe for Palace) was always going to have only one outcome. McCormack, possibly the one player who can leave the pitch with remotely any credit would need have to have been 7 foot 2 to reach some of the passes launched forward to him. Even before the sending off which in Gaelic football would have been seen as a shoulder, we were hopelessly outplayed by a team who drew at Macclesfield last week and lost at home to mighty Bournmouth just over a fortnight ago. Questions now are being directed at the manager’s tactics, signings and even if he is the man to take this club forward ? How Zaliukas came out for the second half ahead of Tom Lees is a question Eddie Gray rightly posed ? The Latvian directly caused three goals yesterday and in his defence, our whole defence look as if they will concede to every attack, but he was the player we brought in to stabilize an unsteady and inexperienced defence. He looks far from up to the task, a statement than can be levelled at our players in almost every position. “Going back to basics” of 4-4-2- is not before time.

We have no midfield just now with the two men yesterday easily over run, and Austin unable to pass it five years to a gold shirt anyway when he has the ball. He is our captain and leader but sadly not good enough for both, and again looking like a misjudgement by McDermott right now. Confidence is obviously very visibly low. The manager is looking to bring in a big centre forward to play as a foil for McCormack and missed out on his number one target, Ashley Barnes who (perhaps wisely) chose Burnley over Leeds. I still believe he should have gone for Nahki Wells who would have been a super addition (and cost just 1.5M), and surprise, surprise scored a 90th minute winner on his debut for Huddersfield yesterday. His pace up front would have been an ideal foil for McCormack, especially the way McCormack comes deep and lays the ball off, but that is in the past tense now. Oh to be a fly on the wall at  Thorp Arch today at the player and staff meeting to help resurrect our season. Uncle Festa said last week was his worse day in management, until yesterday. If he doesn’t get things sorted quickly, next week may be his hat-trick or will it be a week is a long time in politics. To finish on a brighter note, it wouldn’t be a Leeds manager not to earn a hammering somewhere along the way, Larry lost 5-0 at home to B’pool and 6-4 at home to Preston, and Colin’s Leeds conceded 7 at home to Forest and 6 at home to Watford. Hopefully, Brian has excercised his demons.

Sun Jan 12th. From We all love Leeds – In his defence. Like many Leeds United fans I woke up yesterday morning with a fresh spring in  my step. We had finally signed two genuine wingers with ‘pace to burn’ by all  accounts and who would give us width and finally decent service to Matt Smith. I  hadn’t expected both of them to play from the start but did think they’d appear at Sheffield Wednesday at some point.

For fans of LUFC it is never dull  and things rarely run according to the best-laid plans or expectations. Stewart and Kebe both started the game – despite some initial and understandable concerns about their fitness levels, familiarity with the team and so on – but  Matt Smith was left on the bench. We were sort of playing a back three with Peltier and Pugh pushing on to give us width we should surely now have had in abundance?

I can’t dwell on what happened next as the images are too  stark and upsetting. Alcohol has helped to dull the pain but still the horror  film rolls at the back of my mind…

I trust Brian McDermott implicitly.  I like him and like the respect he shows for others but I didn’t understand his  tactics yesterday. To me it smacked of the terrible run of form we’ve had  recently and him getting carried away with having not one but two wingers that we’ve all been crying out for since he arrived last season. I think he truly  believed we would blow both Sheffield Wednesday away and also those lingering doubts that had formed during December and the early days of 2014.

For  me, there are three things that need addressing:

1. We had resorted to  playing a long ball game largely for two reasons: firstly, our defence were  running scared and just wanted to clear their lines quickly each time and,  secondly, we had a giant of a striker up front who surely would get on the end  of something and magically make things happen for the team. I’ll come back to  the defence but just to say yet again that Matt Smith is learning the game and  has much still to learn! The expectation and pressure that a long ball game puts  on any target man is immense and I think he felt that keenly when he finally  came on yesterday. Youthful naivety and aggression in the form of ‘rough ’em up  a bit Matt and grab us an early goal’ proved disastrous and we’ll never know whether an assumed 4-4-2 would have worked any better against the Owls or not.  Smith won’t be back for three games and I’m really hoping we can try a midfield  passing approach with width and speed down the wings before he returns and we  are tempted to slip back into a ‘give it to Matt quickly’ approach. Against  Leicester and Ipswich, though they are tough games to follow the thrashing, we  really have no alternative but to try something different but also less cavalier  than yesterday.

2. The defence is clearly shell-shocked, hence the ‘get  rid quick’ approach. For me this began against Nottingham Forest. Halford should  never have been allowed to ghost in behind three big centre-halfs and get to the  ball, let alone a header on target. I don’t think our defence has really recovered from this one aberration. In that game we suffered a bombardement, got  back into it and still lost to a wonder strike. Our midfield went missing or  failed to hold on to the ball time and time again. If you add all of that up in  a defender’s mind you get to a point of uncertainty and insecurity – certainly  not a safe platform to build on.

3. If the defence is psychologically  damaged, the midfield is struggling with existentialism. Austin has really  struggled lately. Only he and Brian will know if the captaincy is too much for  him. Whether it is or not, his form has been erratic. Mowatt is, like Smith,  young and still learning. I really believe he will be a tremendous player but am  also concerned that we’ll overplay him like Byram last season and/or he will  have too much responsibility too young and apparent disappointment apportioned  to him will cause him to leave for a club that will truly nurture such a talent  as happened with Lennon.

I personally would make Jason Pearce the  captain. I think he and Paddy Kenny have been our most consistent performers this season. I also think captaincy from the back is always preferable in terms of reading the game and the players’ performances. Pearce is playing with  Zaliukas and Lees or Wootton. Zaliukas’s confidence has clearly deserted  him while Lees and Wootton are excellent prospects but need their confidence restoring.

To aid Pearce in his captaincy and the entire defence in their  difficult period I would play a version of the diamond with a traditional back  four comprising Byram on the right, Pearce and one from Lees, Wootton or  Zaliukas in the centre, and Warnock on the left. We have Peltier and Pugh as  alternatives and can be brought in or out according to injuries and/or changes  required in the game when we need to push on or hold on.

I’d play two defensive midfielders in front of them from Austin, Tonge and Brown – or  younger but experienced players bought to play in that same position. Our  defence desperately needed additional protection yesterday and I think this would begin to address their confidence issues. They were just hopelessly  exposed, quite apart from not operating as an organized unit. If Austin or Tonge need to support the attack then the defence still has some midfield  presence in front of it. If either full back goes forward then one of the  defensive midfielders fills the space. Again, it means we aren’t left with an  exposed back three fearing the worst.

Ahead of them I’d have three with  Kebe and Stewart wide when they get fit and one from Murphy or Mowatt in the  middle. Mowatt’s confidence will improve from knowing their are two behind him  and hopefully Murphy’s creativity will finally flourish consistently. In the  meantime both could play until our new wide men are ready, or can be mixed up  during a match if we need injections of speed which Poleon could also  supply.

I’d have Ross up front with an option of bringing Matt Smith in during a game and sacrificing a defensive midfielder if the game was running  away from us.

There are no doubt lots of reasons why this might not work  but I believe it would give the team a better balance and shape and buy time to  get over the nightmares. We saw in the first part of the season that we  have decent squad, now supplemented by width. I wonder if we don’t still need  better quality in midfield but also am a believer in developing the players we  have – and I’m delighted that McDermott is trying to do this while not  overplaying that youthful talent.

It’s tough at the moment but we march  on. Sacking the manager is absurd. Under Warnock and, in the later days, Grayson, I felt laziness and complacency had set in. I don’t think that is the  case here but I do think confidence (and I include Brian in this) had already  gone before yesterday’s mis-match and only patience and long-term planning is  going to really make a difference. Yes there will be freak results from time to time but yesterday’s is still thankfully consigned to a relatively small sample  such as the 5.0 to Barnsley or the 3.7 to Forest or the 7.1 at Stoke

Sun 12th of Jan From : Fear in loathing in LS11- Leaderless Leeds lacking in the heart of the matter (excellent article) Forget the goals, the crescendo of boos, the finger pointing, even the dejected figure of Brian McDermott, the defining moment for me from yesterday’s shambolic display at Hillsborough was something that the TV highlights, the newspaper reports and post-match discussions will most likely not even touch upon. Midway through the second half it came, with Leeds already a well beaten side and with nothing more to play for than their pride.  Zaliukas received the ball just outside his own 18 yard box, he had time, he had options, he could’ve played a simple pass or taken a touch, instead he casually back-heeled ball back into his own penalty area, nearly gifting his opponents another goal.

Although nothing did come of it, that moment was symptomatic of a slack, reckless display from a player who prior our recent slump in form had been pivotal to our resurgence. On a day when every player left the pitch with their heads bowed, Zaliukas still stood out, his slack distribution had set Wednesday on their way to scoring their crucial second goal and if the back-heel had given the impression that he’d ceased to care, his pathetic mistakes that handed Caolan Lavery the final two goals of the afternoon resoundingly sealed the case for the prosecution.

As awful as he was, it may seem unfair to single out Zaliukas on a day when Leeds provided six assists without actually scoring a goal, but point is that the 30 year-old is the closest thing Leeds have to a leader on the pitch; he’s the one who pun his arrival two months ago brought a semblance of organisation and a cool authority to the back line, but like all those around him, when the going’s got tough, he’s buckled.

It’s a sad fact that any debate about leadership should focus primarily on a relatively recent arrival, as opposed to the skipper, but that is where we are at the moment. In Rodolph Austin, Leeds United have a team captain in name but nothing else; Austin isn’t a great talker and rarely leads by example, he’s resembled a shadow rather than a leader over these last six games, when stern or supportive words have been called for in the midst of crisis, he’s typically been on the receiving end, rather than the one delivering them.

In recent times, only Ross McCormack and Paddy Kenny have continued to inspire on the pitch, the former through his continued work rate, the latter through his cajoling, but Leeds need a leader in the middle, in the thick of matters, where the opposition can be stifled and the control of games is there to be wrestled for. Leeds do possess some good players, a number of them, in fact (seriously), but are terminally afflicted by a paucity of leadership that undermines everything.

Leadership by definition is something that comes from top: the mandate, plans and expectations first have to be set and facilitated in boardroom, it is down then to the manager to ensure the dressing room is geared to meet those ambitions. Thus far, the board and McDermott have made for the perfect bedfellows, both parties winning the approval and patience of supporters on the back of canny PR and a phlegmatic expectations about the rebuilding job necessary in the aftermath of Bates and Warnock.

This month however could mark the first profound shift in expectations at Elland Road during McDermott’s tenure. Having successfully negotiated a testing first year in charge at Elland Road, David Haigh and company now appear ready to finally flex their financial muscles and assert themselves in Championship circles, McDermott must now follow that lead in the dressing room.

Having finally got his wish for wide men, McDermott has a duty to use them, to be bold and stamp his authority and identity on squad that is increasingly composed of his own players. Yesterday demanded a 4-4-2 formation, instead McDermott delivered a compromised 5-4-1, delivering a team sheet that read more like a suicide note, it baffled everyone before the game and convinced nobody during it, it was a system that not only nullified the point of playing wingers but confused the entire team. The manager resolved that Rochdale would act as a “driver’ for the rest of the season, then duly oversaw a performance even more shameful.

McDermott must use the coming days and the remainder of the window to grasp the nettle, and only by providing a strong lead can he hope to succeed; no more compromises, he needs players on the pitch he can trust, playing in systems he believes in. Most of all he needs somebody who can share, instill and reinforce those beliefs for him on the pitch. A striker remains a necessary addition to the squad, but by far the most important acquisition this month is a leader in the middle in the park, somebody to provide a backbone to an often spineless team, who doesn’t simply bow his head when things are going against the team, who readily grasps at the honour of the captaincy, rather than asks for time think over the offer.

If history teaches us anything, then it’s how crucial to every successful Leeds team an inspirational captain and his relationship with the manager is: Don Revie and Billy Bremner were almost inseparable, Gordon Strachan was the Sgt. Wilko’s most trusted foot soldier, while Lucas Radebe brilliantly nurtured David O’Leary’s babies through their early footballing years, before the club naively tried to run before it could walk.

McDermott needs a similar figure, not necessarily as gifted as those aforementioned but with the same aura, confidence and authority – a leader of men who rallies in the face or poor performances rather be complicit in them, who can be relied upon to play consistently well, pick a pass and keep his composure, somebody who can ease the burden on the likes of Mowatt, keep-fightingMurphy and Byram and allow them to go out and express themselves.

After a decade of being handicapped by those at the top, there are hopeful signs that Leeds United’s owners in waiting are finally taking the initiative to lead the club in a positive fashion. Brian McDermott’s primary imperative is to now ensure that mantra filters from boardroom to pitch level. For too long, Elland Road has been host to countless individuals who have proven themselves incapable of handling the pressures of representing the club, McDermott must now prove himself not to be amongst that number. McDermott needs to be bold, assertive and ruthless, to go with his beliefs, and most crucially, end the month with an individual he can implicitly trust to reinforce them on the pitch every 90 minutes.

No rudderless ship ever reaches its desired destination


Sat Jan 11th Sheff Weds 6-0 Leeds Utd. United: Kenny, Lees (Smith 46), Zaliukas, Pearce, Pugh, Peltier, Austin, Mowatt, Stewart, Kebe (Byram 66), McCormack. Subs. Cairns, Warnock, Brown, Poleon, Varney. Referee: L Probert Booked: Llera, Loovens, Maguire (Wednesday). Sent Off: Smith (Leeds) Att: 21,224 Report from LUFC website. United manager Brian McDermott handed debuts to both Cameron Stewart and Jimmy Kebe for the lunchtime kick off at Sheffield Wednesday. Both players arrived during the week building up to the Yorkshire derby and both went straight into the starting line-up. There was also recalls for Tom Lees, Lee Peltier and Alex Mowatt following the FA Cup third round shock United suffered a week earlier. The early minutes were disrupted when there was a stoppage in the game following a strong Peltier challenge on Jacques Maghoma. That same player then had a great opportunity to put his side ahead once play commenced. The forward was through on goal but contrived to fall over his own feet and the chance was gone. The best of United’s chances in the opening 15 minutes fell to Jason Pearce. Following a broken down corner United floated the ball into the box but Pearce headed the ball wide of the mark. With the 20 minute mark approaching Connor Wickham came close with a shot from the edge of the box but his strike went wide. But, it wasn’t long before the home side took the lead on 20 minutes. A clever chipped pass into United’s penalty area broke the offside trap and left Reda Johnson with only Paddy Kenny to beat. The big defender kept a cool head and slotted the ball home. Following going a goal behind it was the home side who continued to play the better football and it was them that had the next good chance of the game, when Kenny was called into making a good save after a strike from distance. With the interval approaching United began to enjoy a good spell of possession but it was the home side that struck before half time. The home side won the ball in midfield and passed their way through United’s defensive lines. The ball was played across the six-yard box with Atdhe Nuhiu waiting at the back post to slide the ball into the net. Brian McDermott made one change at the break by introducing Matt Smith, who replaced Lees. United’s task became harder when they went a man down in the first minute of the second half. United substitute Smith was shown a straight red card for a challenge on Johnson. United’s afternoon continued to get worse when Wednesday struck for the third time. The Sunderland loanee escaped his defender and shot from the left side of the box, his shot beat Kenny and went in via the inside of the post. The home side were dominating proceedings and it was Wednesday who threatened once again. Wickham found some space on the edge of the box but smashed his effort over the crossbar and into the crowd behind the goal. But it wasn’t long before the fourth goal of the afternoon arrived. This time it was a Chris Maguire free-kick that made its way through to goal. Maguire’s effort deflected off the wall and with Kenny going the other way it span across the line on 66 minutes. United’s first shot of the half came midway through, when Rudy Austin struck from distance. It was the home side that were celebrating in the 80th minute when they scored their fifth of the afternoon. Wednesday substitute Caolan Lavery broke after collecting the ball in the middle of the park, he continued his probing run and finished well to put his side five goals ahead. There were four added minutes at the end of the game and the home side secured their sixth goal of the match. A defensive mistake led to Lavery collecting the ball and he curled his effort beyond Kenny to hit United for six.  Brian McDermott- Post Sheff Weds- “Forget last week we know its horrendous. It doesn’t get worse than that. Individual errors cost us. The sending off didn’t help. It wasn’t a sending off. I’ve spoken to the referee. I’m sure he’ll rescind it when he sees it. Otherwise he’d be sending players off every week. We’ll bring the players in tomorrow and we’ll have a meeting  I’m glad its Leicester next. The Formation didn’t work. I didn’t want to change things too much. But we’ll go right  back to basics now to fight to go right back to where we have to have to. We’ll see how deep rooted the problems are in the next few weeks. Sometimes you have to go rock bottom and see where you are as we have today. With that performance we have to get a team that wants to fight and be brave on the ball. They are amazing these people (fans) they dont deserve this. We are not a form  team. The pressure is on us to perform. You always question yourself. You always try to get the right formula. We will have a meeting tomorrow. It will be a cold unemotional meeting tomorrow and everyone will have their say. We will be looking for players to bring in before the Leicester game, yes”.                          

Friday Jan 10th. Wells signs for Huddersfield Town.”For football reasons and career wise you have to make sure that when you move it’s the right move, and this is the right move for me,” said Wells. Nahki Wells is relishing the prospect of a Huddersfield Town debut against Millwall and, after completing his move from Bradford, beamed:This is the right move for me.” The 23-year-old striker has signed a four-and-a-half year deal and is excited about playing his part in an exciting future at the John Smith’s under manager Mark Robins. “For football reasons and career wise you have to make sure that when you move it’s the right move, and this is the right move for me, said Wells. “I have had a lot of success and happy times at Bradford City and also the opportunity to play in League I with them this season, but now I’ve got the opportunity to play in the Championship with Huddersfield and I’m really looking forward to it’. It’s probably come a bit earlier than I  thought  but sometimes chances like this don’t come around twice,  so this is the right opportunity and I’m delighted to come to a club like this.” So what will Wells bring to the mix for 13th placed Town in their No21 shirt? “I think most people know my main attribute is scoring goals, so that’s the main thing,” he answered. “Coming here and learning a different style of football at a different level is something that should really work out well. “Huddersfield create a lot of chances and I thrive in that sort of situation, so I see myself doing well. “I know from playing at the stadium already that the atmosphere there is really good and, if I get the chance, I would love to mark my debut with a goal.”  I know Macca is looking for a different type of striker but I believe we missed not only a bargain buy but a quality player with pace who would be a great foil for McCormack up front and an excellent addition away from home on the counter  attack.



Friday Jan 10th. No 2 In. Crystal Palace winger Jimmy Kebe is the second January signing to arrive at Leeds United. The 29-year-old joins on an initial loan deal until the end of the season with the option of a permanent deal in the summer. Kebe, who has played in the Premier League for both Reading and Crystal Palace, is well-known to United manager Brian McDermott and was part of his promotion winning squad at the Madejski Stadium in 2012. The United manager said: “Jimmy is a player that I scouted from France in 2006. He has fantastic pace, he is a real team player, and he made and scored goals for us in the Championship and the Premier league. I’m delighted he’s come on board and I’m really looking forward to working with him again.” Kebe, who started his career in France and had spells with Lens, Chateauroux, and Boulogne, made almost 200 appearances for Reading before making the move to Palace last summer. He is another player identified by the United manager as a key January target, and Elland Road chairman Salah Nooruddin was delighted the board could assist. “Jimmy Kebe is a player well known to Brian and we’re delighted to have agreed a deal both with the player and Crystal Palace,” said the chairman. New signing, Jimmy Kebe, has spoken of his determination to help Leeds United into the play-offs. He said: “I know that Leeds are a big club and there are big expectations. The fans are right to ask the team to do well. My only target here is to play in the play-offs and get promoted.” United’s second signing of the January transfer window knows the manager, Brian McDermott, well from their time together at Reading. “I spoke to him on the phone and he said straight way, ‘do you fancy coming?’ And I told him that I would pack my stuff and come up that night”, Kebe said. Nice tweet from Kebe : “I Haven’t come here for a holiday. Target is play offs -minimum”. That’s what I like to see in my loan signings, ambition and confidence. Hopefully he is right.


Friday Jan 10th. Barnes signs for Burnley.  Burnley Football Club have signed Brighton and Hove Albion striker Ashley Barnes on a three-and-a-half year deal. Leeds had been hoping to scupper the deal but the former Brighton player has opted to join the Clarets instead. The 24-year-old becomes Sean Dyche’s first signing of the January transfer window after signing until the summer of 2017, for an undisclosed fee. And after penning the deal today, subject to Football League acceptance, Barnes will go straight into the Clarets squad for Saturday’s Championship game at Yeovil. Barnes will wear squad number 30 at Turf Moor. No loss. Better players to be had for Whites.

Thurs 9th of January. Brian McDermott pre Sheff Weds Press conference. I watched the press conference and these are the main points. Cameron Stewart will miss the back end of the season for Leeds as he can only play in the next 93 days having played a half a game with Hull City. The Jimmy Kebe loan deal will be tied up in the morning (Friday). If Leeds reach the Premiership the deal become permanent. There is an interest in a number of Leeds players going out on loan, notably Varney and Poleon. Uncle Festa will talk to Diouf on Monday about his future and both have a huge amount of respect for each other. Leeds have an interest in Ashley Barnes. United have ended their interest in Max Gradel.


Thurs Jan 9th. Stewart glad to be a White. New signing Cameron Stewart has spoken of his delight at joining Leeds United and says that he is looking forward to a new chapter in his career. The midfielder joined United on Thursday morning and joined his new team mates for the first time after completing his move from Hull City. “It feels great,” said a delighted Cameron. “It is such a big club and a club that I have known about since I was a boy. “I’m delighted to be a Leeds United player and I’m looking forward to this new chapter. “I heard about the interest a few weeks ago. It was a real head-turner and it is one that I have been thinking about and I was hoping that it would come off. Thankfully after a few complications it has now been completed.” Brian McDermott’s first signing of the January transfer window spoke highly of his new manager and is looking forward to getting his United career going. “Speaking to the gaffer was quite a big factor and the outlook that he had for me and for the club,” said the midfielder. “Also when you look at the squad there are not a lot of wide men so I thought that it was something that I could add to and play some games. “It’s nice to have someone that is really interested in you like the gaffer. “Obviously when you see that there aren’t many wide men in the team you look at it and feel that you can make an impact and make a difference. “Hopefully I can bring a little of pace and directness to the side. I’ll be looking to take a few defenders on and excite the fans and give them something to shout and talk about after the game. “Hopefully that is what I’ll be able to do as well as add a few more goals.” United’s new signing knows all about the fanbase at the club, not only from being on the opposing side, but also having a keen Leeds fan in the family. “My uncle lives quite locally and he is a big Leeds fan so he keeps track of the team and lets me know,” added Stewart. “I’ve known quite a lot about Leeds over the years through my uncle and when I was at Hull it was obviously a derby. “Every time I have played against Leeds United or saw them play away from home the supporters have always filled the away end. “When I was at Hull City and taking corners I always got a bit of stick of them but the thing you always remember is them filling the away end. “The fans came down to Charlton and filled the away end on such a horrible day. So it is something that sticks with you, and I’m looking forward to playing at home in front of a big crowd.” Cameron is available for selection to make his United debut this Saturday when the squad head to Sheffield Wednesday for a 12.15pm kick off. “At the moment we are one point off the Play-Offs,” said Cameron. “You need to take one game at a time, the next one is Sheffield Wednesday, but you will always look to take the three points. “The first two games are Sheffield Wednesday and Leicester City. With both games being on TV I’ll be looking to make an impact and show people what I can do. They are both games we would like to win after some not so positive results lately. “It’s a Yorkshire derby so it will be a cracking game to make my debut if I’m selected. I’ll be ready, whether that is from the start or from the bench. “To make my debut at Hillsborough in a Yorkshire derby will be quite tasty and it’s something that I’m looking forward to.”

Thurs 9th. Latest re Barnes and  Burnley medical. Burnley manager Sean Dyche has confirmed Ashley Barnes is having a medical at the club ahead of a proposed move. Brighton & Hove Albion striker Ashley Barnes has been on the radar for a number of clubs in this transfer window, but it now seems as if he will be joining Burnley. Boss Sean Dyche has confirmed that Barnes is undergoing a medical ahead of a proposed move to Turf Moor. Brighton had already rejected a bid from the Lancashire outfit on New Year’s Day reported to be in the region on £750,000. This will be a blow to Leeds United who were also tracking the former Plymouth Argyle striker. Leeds had already completed the signing of Cameron Stewart on loan from Hull City today and were hoping to sign up Barnes too. Burnley are the surprise of the season in the Championship so far, with few expecting them to have such a strong first half of the season. The promotion candidates are hoping Barnes will add to the goal power already at the club. Sam Vokes and Danny Ings have been in superb form for them all season, and they will now add competition in that area. They have already scored 25 goals in the league between them. Barnes has scored six goals for Brighton this season, and had scored 47 goals in his previous three years at the club. He endured play-off heartache with Brighton last season when they were knocked out in the semi-final to Crystal Palace, but he will be hoping to get promoted with Burnley now who are currently in second place The Clarets have now upped their bid, and Brighton have deemed it to be acceptable with the striker’s contract due to expire at the end of the season.


Barnes of Brighton

Thursday Jan 9th. Leeds chase striker Barnes. Leeds United are competing to sign Brighton striker Ashley Barnes after completing a deal for long-time target Cameron Stewart of Hull City. Stewart has completed a loan switch from Hull City while Jimmy Kebe is also in talks with the Elland Road club over a loan move from Premier League side Crystal Palace. Twenty-four-year-old Barnes is next on United’s list of targets. Burnley are competing for his signature and have had a bid accepted by Brighton but United also hope to land a forward who has been heavily involved in Albion’s season but is out of contract in the summer. Barnes has played 24 times for Brighton this term, scoring six goals. Winger Stewart, 22, has joined on a 93-day loan and hasd signed a three-year deal which takes effect in the summer. Barnes has scored 41 goals in 141 games for Brighton.


Thursday Jan 9th. Palace manager confirms Leeds to sign second winger. Crystal Palace manager Tony Pulis has confirmed that Jimmy Kebe is set to join Leeds on loan until the end of the season. Former boss Ian Holloway landed Kebe back in September but the former Reading winger has failed to establish himself in south London. The 29-year-old has appeared just six times for the club, with just two of those coming since Pulis took over in November. Leeds have been heavily linked with a move for Kebe and, speaking in at his press conference on Thursday morning, Pulis confirmed the switch, understood to be a loan until the summer, is close. He said: “We will be moving players on. Kebe is on his way to Leeds as we speak.”

Thursday 9th of Jan 2014. Player 1 in Jan arrives.Leeds United have completed a deal to sign Hull City’s highly-rated winger Cameron Stewart. The 22-year-old has joined on an initial loan deal, but has also signed a three–year contract, which will become effective from the summer. The young winger, who made 55 appearances for the Tigers and has also gained experience at Yeovil, Burnley, and Blackburn, made 18 appearances for Charlton on loan this season and was attracting interest from a host of clubs. United chairman Salah Nooruddin said: “We’re delighted we’ve been able to secure the signature of Cameron. He is a young player who was attracting a lot of interest from clubs in the Championship, including a couple who are above us in the table at the moment, and he is a player Brian was keen to sign.” United manager Brian McDermott said: “Cameron fits the bill as the type of player we are looking to recruit here. He has pace, he gives us something different, and he is hungry to do well.” Stewart, who scored against United at the Valley in November, has had to join on an initial loan deal due to FIFA regulations preventing a player from featuring for more than two clubs in a season, other than on an emergency loan basis. McDermott added: “We were aware of Cameron’s situation, and rules are rules. By joining us in this manner, it means we have a player who we know will be here for the next three and a half years, and we look forward to working with him for the long-term.” Stewart underwent his medical on Wednesday and met his new team-mates for the first time on Thursday


Jan 9th. New blood can give us a lift – Gibbs. United assistant manager Nigel Gibbs believes the imminent acquisition of new blood will give the squad a timely boost. Having risen up to the Play-Off places ahead of the Christmas period, a frustrating festive season saw the club’s run of form stall, culminating in an FA Cup exit at the hands of League Two promotion chasers Rochdale. Brian McDermott said after the Spotland exit he was hoping to add at least one new face before the Championship campaign starts again at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday (12.15pm) and his assistant says it will be just the tonic needed. “If we can make a couple of additions that would be good,” said Gibbs. “We’ve known since we came in that it was an in-balanced squad with no wingers. “That will help the team and the squad, it will give us options. Hopefully if we can get a couple in it will give everyone a lift. “It means you’re progressing as a club and having a go. We’re in a good position and if you sign quality players it gives you options. “Players have to improve you. We are getting there and hopefully the fans are seeing that. You have to have good competition.” Having gone five games without a win, United will be looking to return to winning ways at Hillsborough on Saturday, and move back into the top-six. “When we go to Hillsborough on Saturday, the players will be looking to prove they can play well,” added Gibbs. “They know they didn’t perform to the level required at Rochdale. “There was no excuse, it should have been better. We’ve got a good game coming up now and it’s a good opportunity.“It’ll be a tight game. The game against them earlier this season was a draw. It will be tough, but I expect us to be in and amongst it and get the right result.”

Man Utd v CP 14/9/13 Jimmy Kebe Photo: ©Neil Everitt 07970 789228

Weds 8th of Jan. Palace deny Kebe destined for Leeds – Croydon Advertiser CRYSTAL Palace have denied Jimmy Kebe is on his way to Leeds United in a loan  or permanent deal. Media reports in Yorkshire on Wednesday afternoon have suggested the  29-year-old is on the verge of securing a move to Elland Road from the  Eagles. However, Palace co-chairman Steve Parish has denied the former Reading star  is on the move to link-up with his former boss Brian McDermott, but instead is  attracting a number of top Championship clubs.He’s not going on loan anywhere (in particular)”, Palace co-chairman Steve  Parish has exclusively told the Advertiser.”There are clubs interested, that’s all. Leeds are interested – all the clubs  at the top of the Championship are interested. “We are not looking to send him out on loan anywhere, there has just been a  number of Championship clubs. “We haven’t considered whether he’s going to go out on loan or if we’re going  to accept them.” Kebe has struggled to maintain his place in the Palace starting XI this  season, playing just six times after joining in the summer. Boss Tony Pulis may decide to give the Mali international a chance in the  second half of the season but he has a tough task of ousting Jason Puncheon,  Barry Bannan and Yannick Bolasie in the wide areas.

Weds 8th of Jan. Leeds chase Kebe.  Leeds United are close to a deal to sign winger Jimmy Kebe from Crystal Palace, the Yorkshire Evening Post understands. The club are one of a number of Championship sides who have expressed an interest in the Mali international whose career in English football took shape under Brian McDermott at Reading.


McDermott managed Kebe throughout his time as boss at the Madejski Stadium – a spell in which Reading reached a play-off final and won the Championship title – and the Leeds boss is back in for the 29-year-old ahead of Saturday’s derby with Sheffield Wednesday. Kebe moved to Pal ace from Reading in August but has played only six times this season, and the recent appointment of Tony Pulis as manager at Selhurst Park has not enhanced his prospects. Leicester City and Brighton are also looking at Kebe but United appear to be favourites to secure his signature – one of two deals which could be completed by McDermott in time for Saturday’s derby. Kebe signed a three year deal in Aug 2013 for C Palace and has made just 6 appearances for the Eagles. If we can get him anywhere near the form he had at Reading in their promotion season, he would be an excellent addition. There is however, the small step of possibly having to get him match fit.

Weds Jan 8th Leeds to secure Steward on Emergency Loan – Hay YEP Leeds United are attempting to secure Cameron Stewart by signing him on emergency loan with Football League rules preventing the winger from making a permanent transfer to Elland RoadLeeds intend to hand Stewart a 93-day deal after appearances for Hull and Charlton this season ruled out the possibility of the 22-year-old accepting an immediate, full-time contract. But United are likely to reach an agreement which guarantees Stewart a permanent move when his deal at Hull expires in the summer.

Stewart looks set to join Leeds from City in the next 48 hours, giving United manager Brian McDermott his first signing of the January transfer window and a new player ahead of Saturday’s derby at Sheffield Wednesday.

But Football League regulations allowing players to feature for a maximum of two English clubs in one season will delay Leeds’ plan to tie Stewart to a long-term deal.

Stewart played once for Hull in a League Cup tie against Leyton Orient in August and featured 18 times for Charlton during his recent spell on loan at The Valley.

Charlton signed the former Manchester United trainee on a standard half-season loan, taking his quota of clubs for the term to two.

Emergency loans in the Football League do not count towards that quota, however, meaning Leeds are free to recruit him this month for 93 days.

His arrival would set McDermott’s plans for recruitment in motion, tying down a key target, and United are hinting strongly at the possibility of another arrival from a Premier League side before their trip to Hillsborough this weekend.

Stewart’s loan at Charlton ended with a New Year’s Day outing at Ipswich Town and the London club have offered him the chance to return to The Valley, backed by funds provided by new owner Roland Duchatelet.

One other Championship team have also shown an interest in Stewart but he looks increasingly likely to accept a switch to Leeds with a view to joining the club long-term at the end of the campaign.

His contract with Hull runs out in June and Stewart will be available on a free transfer during the close season unless City attempt to tie him to a new deal.

Weds January 8th 2014. Enigmatic Haigh might just make that dram come throughFrom Life, Leeds, The Universe and Everything.  (Good article recommended by Greg) The New Wave is, as usual, coming in slowly at Elland Road.  Then again, with Leeds United, everything always seems to take its time – and the experience of the fans over the past few years has been that the outcome was not always really all that worth waiting for.  Without revisiting all of the painful twists and turns of the past decade or so, it’s safe to say that our lot, as a group of loyal and passionate supporters, has not by and large been a happy one.  The lowlights include administration, points deductions, Bates, Histon, League One, Bates, TOMA and more Bates.  There has also been the odd highlight, but it’s fair to say we’ve been living through some Dark Ages in the history of our club.  So, are we at last on the brink of a long-overdue and richly-deserved Renaissance?

The man who probably knows most about that will give the odd nod and wink here and there – but as yet he’s not really telling.  This is, of course, David Haigh – a likeable bundle of energy and charm whose polished persona you could look at and instantly say to yourself, that fellow would make a fine politician.  And such indeed is his aspiration as a lifelong Tory.  Not that such a summing-up is necessarily a negative thing.  It’s just one facet of the David Haigh enigma – a committed Conservative activist who is also an enthusiastic philanthropist, and one, moreover, who takes a distinctly hands-on approach to that philanthropy.

He seems to be a man of contradictions.  Interviewed on the radio, for instance, he has the politician’s knack of playing his cards close to his chest.  He will talk quite a bit without really saying very much, and it can feel a bit frustrating – you sense this in the demeanour of the interviewer, too.  He’s anxious not to show his hand too early.  And yet at other times he’ll crop up on his highly-active Twitter account, coyly dropping little hints everywhere, sending the Leeds United Twittersphere into meltdown seemingly at will – and driving information-hungry fans up the wall with tantalised yet baffled hope.

The latest example of this is just a few hours old – a casual mention that Haigh is looking forward to a coffee with one Peter Virdee.  Now, Virdee’s is a name that was all over Twitter only a few days back, with suggestions that he’s both minted and possibly about to get involved with Leeds United.  Haigh’s tweet is of great interest, not only to all of those so desperate to “Dare to dream”, but even for the rest of us, divided as we are into hard-bitten cynics and the weary “wait and see-ers”.  Team strengthening?  Stadium repurchase and refurbishment?  Buying back our very own Thorp Arch training heaven?  Anything can seem possible when you’re talking the figures Virdee is reputed to deal in.  But who knows?  It’s only a coffee, after all.

What does come across very strongly with David Haigh is a cheerful optimism that he can take on this massive task – to revive a club that once enjoyed an almost global pre-eminence but has since defied most attempts to rouse the sleeping giant – and that he can and will succeed.  If there have been doubts, he’s never let them show and his habitual outlook is one of an almost insouciant conviction that he can achieve where others have so conspicuously failed.  That confidence communicates itself to fans desperate for the good times to return and for a True White, full-blooded Leeds fan to lead us.  It’s still the case at Elland Road that we’d rather have one of our own in charge than some dodgy “off comed’un”.

Despite his Cornwall roots and other initially apparent doubts about Haigh – insidious little rumours of a sneaking regard for a certain Franchise over t’other side of the Pennines, for instance – he does seem to have established himself this solid credibility as a Leeds United fan; something that counts for a great deal.  Not that we haven’t had trouble with our own, before – the memory of Peter Ridsdale is fresh enough to ensure that we won’t trust anyone just because he has a yellow, white and blue scarf about his neck.  But the appeal of Haigh seems somehow much fresher and much more believable than Publicity Pete’s self-adoring pitch – though it’s always possible this is the sharply clear vision of 20-20 hindsight.

It’s not easy at all to figure David Haigh out.  There is that enigmatic exterior to him which defies attempts to add up the elements we know are there beneath the surface.  The philanthropy is encouraging – his eager willingness to get involved in fund-raising events for causes which are clearly close to his heart.  This positive aspect looks like reflecting well on the club too, as Haigh leads Leeds into areas they may previously have been wary to tread.  One such initiative, the Beyond “It” campaign featuring openly gay ex-Leeds player Robbie Rogers’ anti-discrimination crusade, has received unequivocal backing from Haigh and a highly gratifying response from the fans of a club not always associated with such enlightened thinking.  He also supports a number of other charities in the UK including the Cornwall Air Ambulance Trust, English Heritage and the Cornwall Wildlife Trust. In April 2013, Haigh completed a 250km arctic charity trek for the Make A Wish Foundation, which has recently helped a very poorly little Leeds fan from my own home town.  He completed the six-day, husky drawn challenge which took him through temperatures as low as -30 to raise funds for Make A Wish which supports his niece, Sienna who lives with the genetic disorder Homocystinuria.

There appears to be little doubt that, in all of his extra-professional endeavours – which fill an already very busy life to overflowing – Haigh is the Real Deal in terms of commitment, belief and enthusiasm.  I could wish I knew more about exactly what manner of Tory he is, but the ranks of Football Club revivalists are hardly packed with the kind of radical reforming Socialist I’d personally like to see in Number 10 Downing Street.  If David Haigh can grasp the nettle of sorting out my beloved United – and bring to that task the energy and attainment so evident in other areas of his life – then he will have a very good chance of becoming one of the major figures in Leeds United history – and, what’s more, in a good way.  If that turns out to be the case, then the man’s politics will bother me not a jot.

Personal charm and likeability haven’t usually been enough to move such mountains, but beneath the Haigh enigma there appears to be evidence of a great deal more than that.  Besides which, the fact that he does seem such a very pleasant guy is still – in these first few months after the nightmare of Bates – massively important in itself.  A good radio manner with an infectious chuckle in his voice, the ability to say the right things at appropriate junctures and to deal with people in a civilised and courteous manner – all of this is the very antithesis of the old rogue who squatted on the Leeds throne for far too long.  So that, alone, commends David Haigh as The Right Sort.

Can he succeed – can he help to bring about success?  After an uncomfortably long silence that was at least partially broken yesterday with an “Investment Update” confirming that Mr Andrew Flowers of Club main sponsors Enterprise Insurance will be involved, it appears that things are still moving towards a positive conclusion.  We now know that the consortium is called Sports Capital, and that other, as yet un-named, investors will also be involved.  We know too that the financial backing is there for Brian McDermott to start bolstering his fatigued and pallid-looking squad.  There is little doubt that these are Good Things, and the way the wind is blowing suggests there will be more to come.  And as long as Leeds United AFC is seen to be moving in the right direction, engaging with fans and embracing transparency of intent and information – why then, the great majority of the fans will be happy, will be supportive, will be on-board and ready to March On Together back to nearer the top – which is United’s natural place in the order of things.  I’m pretty certain David Haigh would have no trouble agreeing with that.

Enjoy your coffee today, Mr Haigh, you likeable enigma – oh, and don’t stint yourself in bestowing that charm and appeal of yours on Mr Virdee – and on anyone else with the good of Leeds United at heart, and who might be able to restore us to our former glory.  If what I hope for and dream about can eventually emerge out of this coffee morning, I’d willingly treat you to a cappuccino or two apiece out of my own pocket.  From a socialist Yorkshireman, that’s 100% unequivocal support.

Tues Jan 7th  Updated statement from LUFC. The club can confirm that the group which will acquire a majority shareholding in Leeds United later this month includes lifelong Leeds United fan, and current managing director of the club’s main sponsor, Enterprise Insurance, Andrew Flowers. Sport Capital, a consortium involving current Leeds United managing director David Haigh, Mr Flowers, and others, are close to completing a transaction that will see them acquire a minimum 75% stakeholding in the club. Andrew Flowers said: “I’m delighted to confirm that I am part of the consortium that will be acquiring the major shareholding in the club. As a lifelong Leeds United fan and as a businessman, I can assure other fans, that while the process is being finalised, we have been working hard to ensure that our due diligence was completed as quickly as possible and that there are funds in place ahead of completion to support the manager during the opening weeks of the January transfer window.” Sport Capital have been funding the club during the transactional period and will continue to do so ahead of completion. David Haigh said: “Completion is something we have been working very hard to achieve. We’re now past the holiday periods of Christmas and New Year and we’re looking forward to completing shortly. We are working closely with the Football League regarding the necessary documentation, and we will do our best to keep fans fully informed. “In the meantime, as Andrew has said, we have ensured that there are funds in place for the January transfer window and we are working closely with Brian McDermott regarding his plans. Hopefully, we will all see some of this work come to fruition in the coming days. “I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the fans for their continued support.”

Monday January 6th.United to tie up Stewart arrival amid “one or two arrivals this week”. Phil Hat YEP  LEEDS United are pushing to complete the signing of Cameron Stewart from Hull City as Brian McDermott looks for a shot in the arm after his side’s FA Cup defeat at Rochdale. Stewart is expected to become a Leeds player in time for their derby at Sheffield Wednesday this weekend, the first of a number of players who McDermott wants to add to his out-of-form squad. The 22-year-old winger was omitted from Hull’s side ahead of their third-round tie at Middlesbrough on Saturday after United asked the Premier League club not to render him ineligible for the remainder of the tournament. Leeds’ sorry exit at the hands of Rochdale at Spotland made that request unnecessary but it gave a firm indication that McDermott is nearing his first deal of the January transfer window. The need for new players has dominated the agenda at Leeds since their Championship defeat to Nottingham Forest on December 29, and McDermott cut an anxious figure after United were badly outplayed by League Two Rochdale on Saturday. Stewart’s arrival ahead of an increasingly important visit to Hillsborough would allow another change of tack and asked if he expected a signing in the days ahead, McDermott said: We’re close. Once that’s done we’ll try to fill the next one. I’d hope to have one or two in for Sheffield Wednesday.” Stewart, who spent the first half of the season at Charlton Athletic and has the option of returning to The Valley this month, made the trip to Middlesbrough with City’s squad but sat out of their 2-0 win on Teesside. Hull are ready to sacrifice him with the winger’s contract due to expire in June and manager Steve Bruce unlikely to use him in the second half of the season. McDermott’s need for fresh blood is urgent, however, following three straight defeats and a poor run of form since Christmas.McDermott admitted to a lack of leadership among his squad and said he was looking for a player as influential as Jason Roberts had been when Reading won the Championship title under McDermott in the 2011-12 season. The highly experienced Roberts moved to the Madejski Stadium to Blackburn Rovers in the January transfer window, helping Reading to close out a memorable term. “We need leaders on the pitch and I’ve spoken about that,” McDermott said. You need many leaders, not just your captain. “I had this same problem in the season we got promoted (at Reading). We made a signing in January which created a leader and four or five other leaders were created from that. We need something to galvanise us.” United’s loss to Rochdale followed on from tame defeats to Forest and Blackburn, another performance which highlighted the limitations of McDermott’s resources. The Leeds boss apologised to the away crowd of 3,400 who turned out at Spotland but said: “I’m focused rather than angry. I’m driven. I want to make sure we get it right because it really matters to me. “The players know what they’re doing and that wasn’t the problem. For whatever reason we were well beaten and we hold our hands up. “The frustrating thing is that we’ve had a lot of good things going on here this season but in the last two or three games we’ve undone that. The last three games have been a wake-up call. “My team selection was strong and we had a team capable of going to Rochdale and winning but we weren’t the better side. They were.” 

Sun Jan 5th. Bradford reject Wells bid Bradford City director of operations David Baldwin says that the club have already rejected a bid for striker Nahki Wells. Nahki Wells: Bradford have rejected a bid for the striker.


The 23-year-old is one of the most sought-after players in the Football League after netting 15 goals this season, with QPR, Leeds United, Huddersfield, Blackburn Rovers and Middlesbrough all among those reportedly keen on his signature. It has also been reported that Bradford have a £2million asking price for the Bermuda international, but Baldwin admits that any successful bids will need to meet the club’s valuation. “We’ve had one formal bid,” he is quoted in the Daily Star Sunday. “It is improved on what Peterborough offered in the summer but it’s not where the club want to be. “There will possibly be other offers. But when they occur, the club will act accordingly on the information we receive. “We can’t do more than that. But from a football perspective, Nahki continues to go out there and hopefully carry on scoring goals. “Unless we see any other offers coming through which we feel are worth considering, Nahki remains very much a Bradford City player and part of our plans.” 


January 5th. Where to from here (updated)? It didn’t take 3,400 Leeds fans booing off United after an abysmal display at Rochdale to let some of us know that things have not been right for a while. In truth, Brian McDermott, has been blind to some of our misgivings and like a light switch going on he now believes changes from outside the club are warranted immediately. He  appeared to be genuinely shell shocked after the game when talking to LUTV, calling it “one of the lowest points of his career”In fact this is what he said :  “ Desperate, desperately disappointed. Right up there with one of the worst moments of my career. I will use that moment when I went to do our supporters at the end as a driver. We got the reaction I expected”. Rochdale have only replicated what Blackburn Rovers and Forest have done in the previous two matches, ie play Leeds off the park. The fact that they are a League Two club has only hammered home the point, because Forest and Rovers are no great shakes in this year’s Championship, even if the former put five past WHU reserves. If he learns from this it will serve him in good stead because he has not become a bad boss overnight. But I do think he has lost his way a little and needs to refocus. You learn more in life from your failures than from your successes. His predecessor thought he did a fantastic job and blamed everyone from referees to players to little green men in flying saucers. Where Brian McDermott has fallen down of late is rotating (or rather lack of tinkering with) his squad and under utilising his bench, becoming too slow in making changes to affect games. The Blackpool game was a case in point when their cumbersome central duo would have been caused more problems earlier by a Poleon/McCormack partnership especially when Smith was having such an off day.


RUDY AUSTIN LEEDS UTD 2013©varley picture agency


Take the game against Rochdale as an example. Leeds players looked tired and the team looked totally predictable, especially in the second half where they opted for long ball after long ball to 6 foot 6 inch Matt Smith, a player to be fair not long finding his way in football. Murphy and Austin were over run in midfield, lacking creativity and energy against a League One side, and the service into Smith and McCormack was poor. Austin has played non-stop for almost two seasons in a row. He is burnt out and when played out wide on the right (like he was v B’ool, Forest and B’Burn) was wasted any way. Rochdale looked like the Championshipn side, and to be fair to them got it down and played. We made them look like Barcelona. Only Byram, (in the first half) showed any creativity, by constantly taking on the full back. Although Brown has been used in midfield over Christmas, one of our most energetic midfielders, Paul Green hasn’t even made any of the Leeds squads despite featuring at international level for Ireland. I’m not saying he is the answer but how can a regular fixture in the side from earlier in the season become a complete nonentity especially when our midfield has constantly looked sluggish and been outplayed of late in games ? Diouf who has more ability than most Championship players just featured once as an unused substitute over Christmas despite his undoubted ability to change a game. Baffling ? Varney who was in favour earlier in the campaign doesn’t even feature in the squad at the moment. Frustrating as he is he could teach Smith a thing or two about how to head a ball especially the timing of his jumping.



So where do we go from here ? Are we good enough to make the play offs ? Have we made progress since Warnock rode off into the sunset ? To question one, we all agree that new players are badly needed in the starting eleven, and Brian McDermott is on record as saying he wants four players. With the right additions, the answer to question two has to be yes, but these additions have to be sooner rather than later and be more M+S than Lidl. There is no doubt that we have improved under Brian McDermott, and if Warnock had remained we probably would have gone down. However, in the spending stakes thus far our two one million pound arrivals under BMac, Wootton and Murphy have been disappointing and at times looked overawed by their surroundings. They will be much better next season. The next four have to hit the ground running. Nahki Wells from Bradford City would set us back a few million (just £2million thought to be Bradford’s valuation), but would be a superb signing. He is a player who can play out wide or as an out and out striker with 41 goals in 92 games for Bradford City. More importantly, he is both prolific and lightening quick. Personally, I would prefer him than even Mad Max returning. It doesn’t always work out the second time around especially after a serious injury. This guy has hunger, potential and value for money.



It looks like a done deal that our first arrival will be Cameron Stewart from Hull City, a player who will be a free agent in the Summer. I don’t know enough about him to make an informed opinion. I do hope it’s not a case of finance outweighing ability. Play offs will not be achieved this season on the cheap. He has been used mostly as substitute by Charlton in the past few months, even though he scored against Leeds in their 3-4 defeat at the Valley. For a winger, a return of just 3 goals from 86 apps with Hull and loan appearances with Yeovil, Burnley, Blackburn and Charlton is unconvincing. Max Gradel looks to be a non runner and we are linked with the usual suspects of Adam le Fondre (good player) and Billy Sharp who seems to be going backwards. The word is also that Luciano Becchio would walk on broken glass to cone back to Elland Road. His move to Carrow Road has proved to be a disaster as it has for his replacement, Morison. For Becchio to score he would need quality wing service. Would it be as good second time around ?

We need pace throughout our side and a creative midfielder must seriously be under consideration by Brian McDermott. Leeds are too easy to play against just now. To be honest a striker, a winger, a midfielder and a defender would not go totally amiss, but it has to be quality over quantity. Are all these players available in January ? Probably not. Also with agents, other clubs with better buying power chasing possibly the  same players, there is no definite that the player will choose an Elland Road over a Loftus Road, assuming the player wants Premier league football sooner rather than later. But McDermott is a persuasive manager and Leeds are still a top brand and there is GFH. We will come to them later.

Mad Max

I really don’t see a leader in our team, a player with experience who grabs a game by the scruff of the neck and leads our young players. Realistically, Michael Brown is probably the only such player but he is five years too old and when Rudy is not on his game he is worthless, because he is no a talker. McDermott will be pleased with the progress of Alex Mowatt and deserves the plaudits for bringing him through, and will move heaven and earth to get Sam Byram back into last year’s from. If Ross McCormack’s goals dry up, Leeds are in serious trouble and that’s why I believe that he must seriously gamble on the likes of a Nahki Wells, a player for the present and the future. Derby County made a very shrewd acquisition of Patrick Bamford (who was prolific on loan with MK Dons from Chelsea) for the rest of the season and they were not struggling for goals. Leicester, Forest, QPR, Reading,  Wigan and maybe one or two others can outspend us so McDermott has to be very shrewd with his purchases. As a former Scout, there are very few in the footballing world with his knowledge of players. It’s going to be a big few weeks. The players and Brian McDermott owe the fans a hell of a response for that Spotland debacle when they go to Hillsboro next week. I can take losing to Rochdale in the cup. What I can’t take is getting played off the park whilst losing to Rochdale in the cup. We’ve lost three on the bounce convincingly. If we don’t get back to winning ways soon we may have a different fight on our hands. We are one point off 6th. Many would have taken that position a few months ago, but not without momentum going into January. There were 31,000 fans at our last home game and 3,400 away fans at Rochdale. It’s a two way relationship. The supporters need a lift to keep coming back. For perhaps the first time there is a little question mark regarding Brian McDermott’s performance as Leeds manager. He is a proud man and won’t like that one bit, but he is not above criticism. Nobody is in any job.


To McDermott, we often hear the Jason Roberts story of arriving in January and revitalizing the dressing room in Reading and going on one hell of a run that lead to automatic promotion. Let’s have a repeat at Leeds please. To the LUFC players you are a hell of a lot better than what we have seen in the past three games against Forest, Blackburn and Rochdale, so get your collective fingers out and start playing for the white or gold shirt. To GFH get the financial backing for McDermott in order to acquire  £2million plus rated players instead of free transfers. It’s time to sort our season out if you (McDermott, the players and GFH ) are serious about promotion, and that means some decent investment in the right players, properly blended among the ones at the football club through effort, tactical awareness and quality. We will accept nothing less. If after all of that we fall short then so be it.


Sat January 4th. Out of Cup.  ROCHDALE 2 (Hogan 45+2, Henderson 84), UNITED 0. United: Kenny, Zaliukas, Wootton (Hunt 76), Pearce, Peltier (Poleon 85), Pugh, Murphy, Austin, Byram, McCormack, Smith. Subs. Cairns, Lees, Brown, Tonge, Ariyibi. Referee: M Jones Booked: Done, Bunney (Rochdale), Pearce (Leeds). Att: 8,225 (3,400 Leeds) Report from LUFC For the third round FA Cup tie at Rochdale United manager Brian McDermott made two changes to his starting line-up. The match saw Scott Wootton to return to action after missing nine games after suffering an injury at Charlton November. The starting 11 also saw the inclusion of Lee Peltier as Sam Byram would be operating further forward. The FA Cup tie also saw United striker Noel Hunt return to the matchday squad when he was named among the substitutes. The atmosphere inside Spotland was excellent when the game kicked off with both sets of supporters contributing to the noise. There were a couple of early scares for United in the opening 10 minutes and the home side had the ball in the back of the net on 7 minutes. Joe Bunney broke United’s defensive line but he was judged to be in an offside position when the through ball was played. Moments later the home side threatened once again from two Ian Henderson deliveries, unfortunatley for Rochdale both headers went wide of the mark. United’s first chance of the game almost brought the first goal when Matt Smith connected with a free-kick. The striker’s header was goal-bound but his effort was cleared off the line for a corner. The resulting corner brough a further chance for United but a Marius Zaliukas header was blocked and cleared. The home side continued to show why they are in the Play-Off places in League Two with a nice flowing forward move that brought Paddy Kenny into action. The United keeper made a great save and with the help of Peltier the ball was cleared to safety. The next chance of the game fell to the returning Wootton. Follwing a knock-down by Smith from a Danny Pugh corner the defender snatched at the chance and blazed the ball over the crossbar. It was United that began to dominate the game but the home side had a great chance on the stroke of the 30-minute mark when Scott Hogan was played between the United centre-halves, but the onrushing Kenny made the save. Moments later Henderson broke down the right and struck at goal but his strike went wide of the mark. With the first half drawing to a close it was the home side that looked the more likely to break the deadlock. Good build-up play led to Henderson having the ball at his feet on the edge of the penalty area, his strike brought another great save from Kenny. Moments later Hogan tested Kenny but there was an easy save for Kenny. Just when it looked like the half was going to end goalless the home side struck two minutes into injury time. A ball was played into the box with just seconds remaining and Hogan’s glancing header went into the top left-hand corner to give the League Two side the advantage at the interval. United piled on the pressure during the opening minutes of the half and, just like in the first, Smith saw a headed effort cleared off the line. All the positive play was coming from United in the second half. The away side worked some good positions and got into crossing opportunities but the final ball was the only thing lacking. With the 70th minute approaching there were good chances for both teams. First, Bunney looked to be through on goal but good awareness from Kenny led to the keeper stealing the ball before the striker could trouble his goal. Then moments later Ross McCormack sprang into life and hit a good effort from just outside the box that went inches wide. Further chances started to come United’s way with the best of them falling to Pugh. The defender broke forward and latched onto a ball wide on the left side of the box and worked the keeper, who palmed the ball round for a corner. With the game heading into the final quarter-hour Brian McDermott called on Hunt to add another attacking option for his side. The following minutes saw two great chances fall to the home side but they couldn’t double their lead. The two attempts fell to Oliver Vincenti and Hogan but both strikes went wide of Kenny’s goal. Moments later Vincenti had another great chance after good work from Hogan, only a great save stopped the home side from going further ahead. The home side were looking the better team as the half went on and were rewarded with a second goal in the 84th minute when Henderson volleyed the ball home to send the home crowd wild and send United out of the FA Cup. Brian McDermott Post Rochdale game : “ Desperate, desperately disappointed. Right up there with one of the worst moments of my career. I will use that moment when I went to do our supporters at the end as a driver. We got the reaction I expected.They played better than us and they wanted it more than us. I won’t distance myself from the players. The team selection was strong. We did our home work. The last four games were a wake up call. The team has run out of gas. And we need to galvanise this now and this has to come from outside the club. I’m definitely trying to do that now. I hope the fans travel (to Sheff Weds). I never take anything for granted after a performance like that” While McDermott had no complaints about the result, Rochdale counterpart Keith Hill also felt his players deserved their moment in the spotlight. “It’s a tremendous win. We had a game plan and the players executed it superbly.”The players trusted me and each other. No-one can argue we didn’t deserve that win.”  said Hill, the Rochdale manger.




Friday 3rd of January. 2014. Competition hots up for Stewart. Charlton face competition to re-sign in-form winger Cameron Stewart with a host of rival Championship clubs keen on landing him. Stewart has returned  to parent club Hull City following a successful loan stint at The Valley and the Addicks want the 22-year-old back permanently, and they have the finance to do the deal after Belgian millionaire Roland Duchatelet completed his takeover of the club. However, Sky Sports understands that a number of Championship clubs have now made contact with Hull about a deal for Stewart. Understood to be among those clubs are promotion candidates Leicester City, Ipswich and Leeds United, who are all keen to add Stewart to their ranks. Hull boss Steve Bruce has confirmed interest in Stewart, and is set to let him leave, although he could be involved in Saturday’s FA Cup tie at Middlesbrough before his departure. Talking to Sky Sports, Stewart said that he was waiting to see what happens over the coming days. “I will discuss all the options with my agent and will hopefully be in a position to make a decision on my future in the next few days,” he said.

Friday 3rd. Macca “close to first signing”. United manager Brian McDermott says he is close to finalising his first deal of the transfer window. The boss was quizzed about the link with Hull City’s Cameron Stewart after Tigers boss Steve Bruce reportedly revealed earlier this week United were one of a number clubs interested. “We’re close to a deal,” said the boss. “We’re trying to do something, and I think we’re getting close. Steve Bruce is a good friend of mine. Football is one of those worlds where everyone knows everyone’s business.” The boss was also asked about Bradford City striker Nakhi Wells, another player he has been linked with in the media, and he was giving little away. Nakhi Wells is a good player, but he plays for Bradford, and Phil Parkinson (the Bradford manager) is another good friend of mine,” said the boss. “I would imagine he would cost a lot of money. You want to take players who can make a difference.”

Thurs Jan 2nd. Is Macca on the chase after his Summer targets ? Leeds United boss Brian McDermott is once again being linked with a move for  his former Reading striker Adam Le Fondre. The 27-year-old, who was  part of the Reading squad that won the championship title under McDermott is  2012, is ready to leave the royals after being a frustrated spectator this  season despite being the clubs leading goalscorer.Le Fondre has netted  seven times this season but he has made just ten starts in nineteen appearances  so far this season. The former Rotherham United striker spoke in the  Reading Chronicle and he was asked if he would leave  Reading if it meant regular first team football. “Of course I would. I`m a  footballer, I want to play games, it`s what I`m paid to do. “The lads  have done reasonably well since I`ve been out of the team but I`m not paid to  sit around watching games. “I`m no different to any player. I want to  play games, get minutes on the pitch and I want to score goals, that`s what I`m  about.” The striker has netted 33 times in 89 appearances for  Reading since arriving at the Madejski in the summer of 2011, with over half of  his appearances coming from the bench. Le Fondre is contracted to the  Berkshire club until 2015 having signed a new deal with the club in 2012. He  signed a new deal after an impressive first season under McDermott, as he scored  12 goals in their promotion season, including two against  Leeds. Ironically, Billy Sharp, another player who Leeds were linked with  in the summer, is back in the wilderness having returned to parent club  Southampton after his loan spell with Reading finished on Wednesday.  Sharp, like Le Fondre is desperate to sort out his future having been  frozen out at St Mary`s by Mauricio Pochettino since he took over as Southampton  boss twelve months ago. The former Sheffield United and Doncaster Rovers  striker scored twice in ten appearances for Reading and he has spent the last  eighteen months away from Southampton having spent last season on loan at  Nottingham Forest. McDermott admitted after the defeat to Blackburn  Rovers on Wednesday that he was desperate to bring in another striker to help  with the burden laid on leading goalscorer Ross McCormack Read more:

Thursday January 2nd.Board support for strengthening.  Brian McDermott heads into the January transfer window armed with the knowledge that he has the support of the club’s board as he looks to strengthen his squad. The boss has spoken with managing director David Haigh and acting CEO Paul Hunt at length about his plans, and is already speaking with a number of his potential targets with a view to bolstering his pack. “I’m going to get support from the board,” said the manager. “I had a good conversation with David Haigh on Wednesday and they are doing their best. We are probably in as good a place as we have been for a number of years. “I’ve spoken to a couple already so that would be good if we could do something. “There are a number of players that I have been talking to but it is so difficult to nail teams down to make decisions and sell players. Not many teams want to sell their players in the January window. It is a difficult window. “Can we get someone in that will make the difference for us? That is what we are looking for. We need to take the pressure off Ross McCormack. Ross has scored a lot of goals but we need to take that pressure off of him. “You have to buy players for today and for the future, that is really important to me. It is not just the case of signing five or six players just because you can, you have to bring in players that are going to make a difference now and will be of value in the future.” The boss says he is hoping to avoid the end of transfer window scramble by recruiting sooner rather than later. “That is a problem in itself, because I don’t want to wait until the death and I’m not one of those to leave it right until the death of the window,” he said. “All that drama might be good for TV, but it doesn’t do anything for me. I try to do things a bit earlier if I can. “Obviously the last couple of games have been disappointing for everyone but I can’t dwell on that. I have to just try to go forward to get to where we need to get to.”


Tues January 2nd. From HITC Sport. Saint Etienne Manager confirms right offer can tempt sale of Gradel. Leeds United have been handed a significant boost by Saint-Etienne leaving the door open for Max Gradel to return to Leeds United. Christophe Galtier [Saint-Etienne manager] was asked by French newspaper The Daily Progress on his stance regarding the Ivorian winger and reiterated that he was keen to keep him, but would be reluctant to turn down a good offer. ‘Max Gradel has requested that he wants extra game time for the World Cup. He is a player that I account and I don’t want to leave. He went onto comment: ‘After proposals and if everyone is a winner, we must sit around a table. I know with Max, the discussions will be healthy. Should he go, he would not be replaced because at that time, it would open the door to other players at the club.’  The ball seems to be very much in Leeds United’s court regarding the player, and if they’re willing to put up enough of a fight they could land potentially the signing of the window.



January 1st. Leeds form continues to slump. UNITED 1 (Smith 53), BLACKBURN 2 (Rhodes 13, Gestede 36). United: Kenny, Lees (Poleon 77), Zaliukas, Pearce, Pugh, Byram, Mowatt (Brown 88), Murphy (Ariyibi 46), Austin, McCormack, Smith. Subs. Cairns, Wootton, Peltier, VarneyReferee: A Taylor Booked: McCormack, Austin, Zaliukas, Brown (Leeds), Dann (Blackburn). Att: 30,145 Report from LUFC.  There was a major boost for Brian McDermott prior to kick off when United goalkeeper Paddy Kenny was passed fit for the New Year’s Day clash against Blackburn Rovers. The boss made two changes to his starting line-up and included young duo Sam Byram and Alex Mowatt from the start in place of Lee Peltier and Michael Brown. There was a high tempo to the game with United doing much of the early pressing in the opening 10 minutes. There were early warning signs for United as Blackburn showed what they had to offer from a Tom Cairney corner. The ball that was crossed in was met by Grant Hanley whose header went just over the bar. But on 13 minutes Scotland international Jordan Rhodes broke the offside trap when he was played through by Cairney and the striker guided the ball past Kenny to give the away side an early advantage. United responded well to going behind and the returning Mowatt had a great shot from just outside the penalty area. The midfielder worked the space for himself but his strike was saved well by Simon Eastwood. The away side threatened moments later when Ben Marshall skipped a challenge on the edge of the box, but United defended well and his shot deflected wide of the mark. The resulting corner also brought a good chance for Blackburn but the ball was just too high for Scott Dann to connect. It was an open game in the first 20 minutes at Elland Road and Smith was just inches away from meeting a Danny Pugh cross with only the keeper to beat with the midway point of the half approaching. In the 25th minute Tom Lees saved his side from going two goals down when he made a goalline clearance following a DJ Campbell shot. Kenny softened the strike and the United defender was on hand to make the vital clearance just before it crossed the line. Prior to the half-hour mark United enjoyed a good spell of possession but on 36 minutes it the away side that doubled their advantage. The goal came about after a succession of Cairney corners that were causing United problems at the back and Rudy Gestede smashed one through the defence and the goalkeeper. There was further danger for United with half time approaching when Cairney played a delightful ball to Gestede who only had Kenny to beat, but fantastic tracking back from Luke Murphy prevented the striker getting his shot away. With his side two goals down the United manager made one change at the break by introducing Gboly Ariyibi for his Elland Road debut, in the place of Murphy. The boss also made a change to his formation by playing four at the back, which saw Byram move to the right wing and Ariyibi operating on the left. United had an early chance at the start of the second half after they came out on the front foot. United striker Smith was the man with the final shot but his strike crossed the face of the goal and went wide. United continued to push forward and following a Pugh cross Ariyibi had the chance to make an instant impact in front of the Leeds faithful, but his looping effort went just over the bar. The early pressure from the home side was rewarded in the 53rd minute when Smith pulled one back for United. Great work by Ross McCormack led to Byram poking the ball across the penalty area for the big striker to sweep home into an empty net as the keeper tried the block Byram’s ball across the box. With the 60-minute mark nearing United needed to clear one of the line again following Cairney’s ball in. The Blackburn attackers rose highest at the back post but Smith was on the line to head the ball clear. A second half turnaround was almost complete moments later when Byram broke forward once again and played in the United goalscorer, but this time Smith stroked the ball just wide. On 70 minutes United came even closer to getting a second goal when a Smith shot rebounded into the path of Mowatt. The young midfielder took a touch to set himself and struck at Eastwood’s goal, but the 18-year-old could only watch as his shot smashed back off the crossbar. The United pressure in the final third of the pitch continued and Brian McDermott added to his attacking options by bringing Dominic Poleon on for Lees. A switch that saw Byram move back to the right side of defence and Poleon to the right wing. With 10 minutes remaining United survived another scare when the away side got a cross into the box and Rhodes outjumped his man but his header hit Kenny’s bar. The final minutes of the 90 saw very little action as the away side restricted United to play in their own half and stopped any breakaways. The game went into five minutes of injury time but United couldn’t take advantage of the time and saw in the New Year with a defeat at home. Gary Bowyer, Blackburn Manager : “I think we continued where we left off against Birmingham. “Bar from the silly mistakes in that game I thought we were fantastic, especially in the second half. “So we came here – which is not a nice place to come, a tough place where the Leeds fans are notorious for the noise they make – and our young team and players stood up magnificently. “We were outstanding in the first half and should have been out of sight. “We scored two goals, had one cleared off the line and had a certain penalty turned down – we controlled the game.” Brian McDermott said:We’re squeezing everything out of the players here and they’re doing what they can, but it’s time now to bring in some players to help freshen the squad to help those that are here. “We’re at the stage where we’re eighth in the league and we need to kick on and bring one or two others in. It’s a difficult window, but we need someone who just makes that difference. “I think I’m going to get support from the board. I had a good conversation with David Haigh. They’re doing their best and we’ve been in the best position we’ve been for a few years.”


January 1st. Zaliukas signs new deal. Lithuanian international Marius Zaliukas has agreed to extend his stay at the club by signing a new improved contract. The central defender initially joined on a contract until the end of the season, but he has been rewarded for a string of impressive displays with a new, improved deal, extended until the end of the 2014/15 season. United manager Brian McDermott said: We’re delighted he’s signed a new contract. When he first came in he signed short-term, but he’s done very well and he’s fitted in great with the group. It’s great news.” Managing director David Haigh said: “Marius has done terrifically well since Brian brought him to the club and we felt it important to reward him and extend his contract with us. “As we have already shown with new contracts for Ross McCormack and Alex Mowatt, we are constantly looking to the future, and Marius has a big part to play for us in that future.We’re delighted he has signed, and we look forward to making further signings in January”. The former Hearts skipper has made 10 appearances since joining the club in October after impressing on trial.