Weds 31st of August. Two strikers left Leeds. Grella and Gradel gone. West Ham (David Bentley from Spurs and Henri Lansbury from Arsenal and Guy Demal Ivory Coast international from Hamburg)and Leicester (Jermaine Beckford plus half of the Championship’s top players) were busy bringing in top quality but bargain bucket Leeds were invisible. A new low for even Bates not to spend any of the £4M recouped for Gradel and Schmeichel except the £200K for Lonergan. Leede fans are absolutely disgusted by the inaction of Leeds United.

Tues August 30th 2100 Hrs – Gradel departs. As per usual the Bates/Grayson partnership go back on their word to Leeds United fans. Max Gradel “is staying at the club and is key to our promotion aspirations” they both said. Lies, lies and more lies. Despite the spin that will come out of Elland Road, United didn’t offer him an improved contract offer and were frotting at the mouth for the £2.5M that he was sold for. Sochaux had an earlier bid of £2M turned down for the 23 year old Ivorian who scored 18 Championship goals for the Whites last season. “The player submitted a transfer request earlier on Tuesday stating his desire to return to his native France (He’s actually from a different continent called Africa, lads) and play at the highest level for his player development. There is extensive interest in the player who is out of contract at the end of the season from both clubs in England and in France, however we were reluctant to agree a domestic fee that would potentially harm our promotion prospects (what about Schmeichel to Leicester, lads.) The player is to undertake a medical on Wednesday and the fee will remain undisclosed. “ I have to say I’m not in the least surprised and would have been astonished if he was still a Leeds player after Wednesday. One other thing. If Leeds received an offer of £5M for Snodgrass, he would also be going. Make no bones about it. We will listen now to the same old shite like : we couldn’t let him run down his contract (even though he wasn’t offered an improved contract) and we have a ready made replacement in Nunez”. Lies, lies, lies. Just like Schmeichel, Gradel was squeezed into a corner and forced out. If you get a pig and send it all around the world and then bring it back. It’s sill a pig. For pig read Bates and an ignorant one at that. Bates is a leach and is sucking the life and revenue out of Leeds United and Larry is a co-conspirator either blind to or in full agreement of his chairman’s selfish and money hungry actions. I hope and pray that we use the £2.5M and the £1.5M from Scmeichel to address the areas of the team that need most attention, but I don’t hold out too much hope. Norman Bates will call some of the suites in his new hotels the Gradel Rooms or the Schmeichel Arena. It’s now 2300 on Tuesday night.  By this time tomorrow we should have some idea of the answers.

Tues Aug 30th 12 Noon. Sky Sports are reporting that Newcastle are in talks with Leeds over Max Gradel. It looks like Sochaux or Newcastle or Leeds or maybe all three are telling porkies. Bates/Grayson insist that he is staying at Elland Road. Sochaux are saying he is going to France and Newcastle are saying he going to Tyneside. Personally I’ll be surprised if he is a Leeds player after Wednesday. I can almost hear Grayson/Bates saying “we couldn’t afford to let him go for nothing at a later date” adn we’ll try and get a 35 year old cart horse to replace him.

Tues Aug 30th. Just two days to go until the transfer window shuts and once again Max Gradel is linked with an exit from Elland Road. This time Sochaux claim that “a deal is at an advanced stage” for the Ivorian. This is subject to their highly rated winger, Maiga joins Newcastle in an £8M deal.

Tues Aug 30th. Leeds v Man United on live.Leeds’ Carling Cup home date with Manchester United has been scheduled for Tuesday, September 20 and will be screened live on Sky Sports. The glamour tie at Elland Road was the pick of the third-round draw which took place on Saturday – with the meeting between the two foes the first in West Yorkshire for almost eight years. The game will kick off at 7.45pm, with United keen for another famous night to follow on from their stunning 1-0 victory in the third round of the FA Cup back in January 2010, when Jermaine Beckford’s strike gave the Whites their first victory at Old Trafford since February 1981. The Red Devils triumphed 3-2 after extra-time in the club’s last meeting at Leeds in October 2003, with the visitors narrowly prevailing following a close-fought Carling Cup clash, thanks to a last-gasp strike from midfielder Eric Djemba-Djemba. Leeds have lost all their previous four matches in the League Cup’s various guises against their opponents from across the Pennines.

Sun August 28th.Deadline day approaches. The deadline for permanent transfers is on Wednesday night 11PM. The loan window for Championship clubs opens the following week. What areas of the side do Leeds need to strengthen, and who should they offload ? These are the questions on all Leeds fans lips currently. United look well served in the goalkeeping areas with 1Lonergan and 12 Rachubkawell up to the task.  Grayson may have to loan out or sell before he is able to add to his squad. United are heavy in defenders, and mostly bad ones at that. The ones at risk are : 4Bruce (who has yet to feature) 02O’Brien (who has become the fans boo boy)19 Parker (who can’t stay fit) 21 Bessone (who is just pure awful) 2 Connolly (who is poor)and possibly even 21 Bromby who is the pick of the above. Bruce can look really useful at times buy always seems to have a daft error in him which either results in a  goal or a red card for himself. 3 Kisnorbo has in my view been poor to average  so far but will retain his position and 48 O’Dea is more of a centre half (albeit an average one) than a left back. Aidy White apart from Saturday’s game has done well and young Tom Lees has been a revelation, doing well at right full even though longer term he will be our first choice centre back. All of the above (apart from Parker) were signed by Grayson and most are in the £10K to £12K a week bracket. This  prohibits many Championship or League One clubs from taking them on loan, unless Leeds were to contribute substantially to their wages. You reap what you sow, but Leeds could do with losing up to five of the above – all signed by Grayson. We need a quality centre half and arguably cover for both full back positions. It’s decision time. Let’s look at midfield and the wide areas. Leeds have the following : 7 Gradel, 23 Snodgrass, 14 Howson, 8 Brown, 15 Clayton,  20 Nunez, and Lloyd Sam. Clayton has been a revelation beside Howson in the middle and Snodgrass and Gradel are the best wingers in the Championship. Sam is peripheral but Nunez has scored consistently when he has come in. Brown has been hugely disappointing. I still feel that Gradel may be sold on Wednesday which will be a huge loss, but Leeds can’t afford to have him walk away for nothing either. If he does go Leeds need to spend the money immediately on quality and not quantity. Grayson chose the latter last season and mostly got it wrong. What he did get right was loaning out Lees, White, Clayton and Nunez, all of whom returned better and more confident players.  Up front the selfless 38Keohe has been a godsend to 44McCormack, and Becchio should be available for the C Palace game after the international break. Somma is long term injured, and 9 Paynter is just not good enough and hopefully he will join Grella with his P45. If we receive an offer for Paynter he has to go. Keohe, McCormack and Becchio are still available and Gradel, Snodgrass and Nunez can all play up front. We have eight or nine really decent players. The balance can do a job, but another three in could make the difference. Central defence is the priority but a capable full back and possibly another striker would be really useful. It is good to see the young players get their chance. Players such as Clayton, White, Lees and even Thompson, Turner and Taylor. This is a marked change from Larry’s previous use of younger payers. It should be an interesting week watching who is coming in and going out at LS11 and Larry has no room for error.

Sat Aug 27th. The view from the East Anglian Times: Ipswich boss Paul Jewell admitted his Ipswich side were lucky to come from behind and beat Leeds. Town went behind to a Ross McCormack goal but hit back with strikes from Keith Andrews and Jason Scotland after Leeds had defender Aidy White sent off. After shipping five and seven goals in their previous two npower Championship games the Ipswich boss was relieved to get a win, however undeserved. “Let us be honest, Leeds are a good team and outplayed us first half,” said Jewell. “After losing seven the players are edgy and we were on the back foot, which was understandable. “We got a couple of decisions that went our way and a deflected goal. “Thank Christ for that, sometimes you have to just take the victory. We needed a victory and however we got it – we will take it. “Larry (Grayson) seems to think it might have been a nudge but a nudge ain’t a foul. One’s 6ft 3in (Jay Emmanuel-Thomas), the other kid (White) is 5ft 7in. He lives just around the corner from me in Leeds actually, he’s a friend of my kids, a lovely kid as well. “I was more interested in trying to get a penalty rather than getting the lad sent off. Once he’s last man and brings him down though he had to go. “Their penalty appeal looked a penalty to me though I have to say,  I didn’t have a great view but it looked a penalty to me even though Carlos claims it was 50/50. “They’ll feel a bit hard done, but last week we had three or four decisions which went against us and today we’ve had a couple that went our way and a deflection. “We know it’s not all rosy in the garden and we’ve got a bit of work to do but I think tonight is not a night to analyse. It’s a night just to think ‘phew, thank Christ for that’. “If it says in the paper that we were lucky we won’t care!  Leeds-born David Stockdale thwarted McCormack twice in the opening 20 minutes, first saving with his feet and then a block from a point-blank header. But McCormack was not to be denied in the 34th minute when he found space in the six-yard box and steered his header from a Robert Snodgrass cross past the keeper.

Sat Aug 27th Dick Turpin at Portman Road. Team : 01 Lonergan, 03 Kisnorbo, 22 Lees (Sam 90+1) 28 White red card, 48 O’Dea, 07 Gradel, 14 Howson, 15 Clayton yellow card, 23 Snodgrass (Nunez 90+1) 38 Keogh, 44 McCormack (O’Brien 51 yellow card). Unused Subs : Rachubka and Thompson. Att – 19,758. Leeds hadn’t defeated Ipswich in their last eight encounters. If it had been a cricket match Leeds would have declared at half time. In real terms five or six nil at half time would not have flattered the Whites as they created chance after chance. Stockdale was having a blinder and McCormack (mostly) couldn’t find a way past him. McCormack did manage to head one in on 34 minutes and the Whites went into the break 1-0 up with boos for the home team ringing in their ears. But Aidy White’s dismissal for a professional foul on Jay Emmanuel-Thomas changed the balance of the game. Simon Grayson was unhappy with the decision claiming the young full back was fouled first. Having watched the incident on TV there is no doubt that White was fouled first but his lack of experience lead him to stay on his feet until he pulled at the Ipswich player who wisely fell down. Even if hadn’t dragged him down the worst that could have happened was an Ipswich equaliser, which United could have turned around again. United held out until the 77th minute, but they were powerless to prevent Scotland firing his side level with a sweetly-struck effort, five minutes after he had entered the fray .Gradel saw a penalty appeal turned down for the visitors and, with a point apiece looking the likely outcome, up stepped Andrews to drill a deflected effort into the net in the last minute to send fans at Portman Road wild and consign Leeds to their worst start to a league campaign in 14 years. It was harsh on Leeds who look a threat offensively but better teams than Ipswich will find us a soft touch at the back. Larry needs to get the cheque book out before next Thursday, but the fringe players who are not good enough to wear a Leeds shirt need to be farmed out also. “Let us be honest, Leeds are a good team and outplayed us first half,” said Jewell the Ipswich manager.  “After losing seven the players are edgy and we were on the back foot, which was understandable. We got a couple of decisions that went our way and a deflected goal. Thank Christ for that, sometimes you have to just take the victory. We needed a victory and however we got it – we will take it.” Leeds boss Simon Grayson said: “First half we were outstanding against a team that has been put together with a lot of money and internationals and they created nothing. “They never created a chance against us. We could have been two or three up and the game would have been put to bed. “Ross McCormack’s header hit David tockdale and he knows nothing about it. It wasn’t a worldy save, I could have accepted that, but we could have had the game won. “When the home crowd boo their team off you know you have done a good job.”Three minutes after the break Leeds defender White was shown a straight red card for dragging down Jay Emmanuel-Thomas a yard outside the box – a decision Grayson insists made all the difference. “The whole game changed on the sending-off decision,” he said. “It’s a free-kick on Aidy White for a start. As he and Thomas are running through Thomas has nudged him in the back and that has made them both go down. “We were in no danger of losing that game until that decision.” 

Sat Aug 27th 2011. Bring on the Red Devils ! Manchester United have been drawn away to old rivals Leeds in the third round of the Carling Cup. Alex Ferguson will be looking to avenge the 1-0 FA Cup defeat to the same side two years ago at Old Trafford when the Championship team were in League One.

Sat Aug 27th. Leeds fees to Agents. Payments made by Leeds United to agents more than doubled last season, new figures released by the Football League show. A total of £788,630 was paid by the club to players’ representatives during the 2010-11 campaign, a rise of almost half-a-million pounds on the previous year’s figure of £335,723. The increase at Elland Road mirrored climbing fees throughout the Football League, with agents pulling in almost £16.7million through deals with sides in the Championship, League One and League Two. The payments made by United arose from 56 different deals, including permanent transfers, loan signings and negotiations to improve or cancel players’ contracts. It is understood that the extension of Luciano Becchio’s deal last December generated the biggest single outlay, a sum which ran into six figures. The highly-rated striker was at risk of becoming a free agent this summer before he agreed a new three-year contract with Leeds. Five Championship clubs spent more on agents’ fees than United last season -Hull City, Leicester City, Middlesbrough, Queens Park Rangers and Reading – and only eight Football League teams paid no money to agents at all. United chief executive Shaun Harvey said: “The club committed to these payments because we believed it was good value in the context of securing players’ services. “It needs to be remembered that some of the payments were made on behalf of players and could therefore be seen as their liability and part of their overall salary package. “We’ll continue to work with agents and make payments that we think are necessary as part of our overall objectives.” Reflecting on the latest Football League figures, the governing body’s chairman, Greg Clarke, said: “These figures show that a considerable amount of money continues to leave the game through payments to agents.”United, meanwhile, have been hit by another rearrangement to their calendar following the postponement of their visit to Birmingham City on Tuesday, September 27. Birmingham’s involvement in the group stages of Europa League will prevent the fixture at St Andrews from going ahead as planned. A new date is yet to be announced.

Friday Aug 26th. Grella departs. American forward Mike Grella, who turned down an opportunity to join Toronto FC in 2009 to try his luck in England, has left Leeds United and signed a new contract with Brentford FC. Grella, 24, joined Leeds in ’09 and spent time there and on loan at Carlisle United and Swindon Town. According to Brentford, Grella and Leeds “reached a mutual termination agreement” to allow the former Duke Blue Devil to join the Bees. Brentford, located in West London, plays in the English third division, one tier lower than Leeds. Grella grew up on Long Island, N.Y., and was called up to junior U.S. national teams but never has represented his country at the senior level. He spent the 2010-11 season on loan at Carlisle and Swindon, scoring a combined four goals. Brentford said Grella would be available to play in Saturday’s game against Tranmere Rovers

Thurs Aug 25th. Okuonghae link. Leeds United are reported to be interested in signing Colchester United central defender Magnus Okuonghae. However, Colchester United boss John Ward revealed this afternoon that the club had received no official interest from any club for Okuonghae, or indeed any other of his players. The ex-Dagenham & Redbridge 25-year-old will be a free agent next summer, when his current contract expires, unless the U’s can tempt him to sign a new deal. “We have had no enquiries concerning Magnus,” insisted Ward. “We haven’t yet had any talks with our players about contracts. So there is nothing happening.” Okuonghae is fighting fit again at the start of this season, after missing more than half of last term with a serious ankle injury that required surgery. Leeds are believed to be leading the chase to sign Okuonghae, with fellow Championship side Hull City also in the hunt.

Weds Aug 24th. Gradel to stay or go ? United manager Simon Grayson is confident that they can hold on to the Ivory Coast international. Gradel has been linked with a whole host of clubs throughout the summer with Leeds already reportedly turning down an offer from West Ham United. Fellow championship side West Ham are still being linked with a move for Gradel as are Premier League side Fulham. Gradel is moving into the final year of his contract following his signing from Leicester City in January 2010. Leeds have seen players leave for free at the end of their contracts in the last two summers and boss Grayson is confident of holding onto last season`s player of the year, who netted 18 times in his first season in the championship. Speaking on Yorkshire Radio, Grayson said, “We are very confident, we have turned down bids. He`s a good player and we want to keep our good players. We would like to think we can fulfil the ambitions of our players here by getting to the next level.”

Tues Aug 23rd.  Taken from Yorkshire Radio’s interview with Leeds United owner Ken Bates today…The Goebbels (pic below) weekly progoganda interview : ‘Mr Chairman’ speaks to Ben Fry about the matches against West Ham and Doncaster. He praises the young ones and the academy as well as goal machine Ramon Nunez. Ken promises that Max Gradel will not be sold by the club before the end of the transfer window despite a failed bid from a ‘skint’ West Ham this summer. He expects some more new faces to come into the club but if we don’t sign anyone it’ll be because of those pesky agents – obviously. Finally, he talks about the international break and Ramon’s decision to temporarily retire from playing for Honduras. And apparently “the fans have been great,” which is nice. Ben Fry: We’ll start with the Carling Cup game against Doncaster. Leeds went behind early on, but a a Ramon Nunez brace sees Leedsinto round three. Are you pleased to progress seen as though so many teams seem to have fallen at the second hurdle? Ken Bates: In football and cup matches especially, the important thing is the result, whether you win 1-0 or 10-0, the result is the same and in the cup matches, it’s the same. The important thing is, we’re now in third round draw. There are just 32 clubs left in the competition and with a bit of luck we’ll get a big one in Saturday’s draw, which will again give us a chance of measuring our progress. BF: Simon said afterwards that he took a bit of a chance by having the game on a Tuesday night after the West Ham game on the Sunday but it has paid off. The players did well with such a quick turnaround. KB: Well they did. And of course what we have to be pleased about is the number of youngsters that played last night. I know Tom Lees didn’t play last night but he has obviously played his way into the side now. Aidy White is looking good and of course young Clayton is also getting better every game and becoming more and more outstanding. We also had Zac Thompson last night. But what’s looking good is that our academy has started rolling again and on a fairly regular basis, which is very encouraging. Credit to the guys at Thorp Arch and our scouts and it’s looking good for the future. BF: And there seems to be almost a strong nucleus of players who can take the club forward for 5-10 years. KB: Well we hope so anyway. We’ve got a few more, I think, in the pot and coming along as well. So that youth policy is a long-term project as Alex Ferguson has demonstrated at Manchester United but it’s working. We beginning to see the first fruits of all the hard work. I’m delighted for everybody. BF: Also last night, another two goals from Ramon Nunez. He has been in fantastic form this season. He seems to be another gem that the club have managed to unearth.KB; Well yes, isn’t it a pity we didn’t spend any money on him and got him on a free transfer. But there you are. I’ve got a very good relationship with an Italian agent who lives in Monaco and we’re great friends. He’s very strong in South America for some reason. He produced us Nunez. I think there might be one or two more on the way from there too as well. So yes, I keep repeating myself but we are going well in all directions. BF: Now before the Carling Cup win, it was a dramatic game at Upton Park. Did that late equaliser almost make it feel like a win? KB: Well due to the fact we missed a penalty, Kisnorbo proved what a good centre forward he would be with that brilliant strike into the back of the net, I thought we deserved to win. Of course, it could have been 3-1. But it wasn’t, we got a draw against a very strong West Ham team and they are still virtually a Premiership club and they haven’t got rid of some of the players they want to get rid of and they have got a very big, strong squad. We more than held our own and I feel very pleased about that. We’ve had a very tough start to the season. If you think about it, Southampton, Middlesbrough and now West Ham are all contenders for promotion and we haven’t done too badly. West Ham, as you say, we were worth a win, Middlesbrough game was a travesty of justice and we should have won that one. The only bad performance, I thought, was against Southampton when we didn’t get our act together. I’m quietly confident for the future. BF: Now for the Doncaster game, Simon made six changes from the team against West Ham. With all these young players coming through, do you feel that now gives more strength in depth than people maybe realised? KB: Yes I do. And what’s really encouraging is that when these kids are given their chance, they’re taking it. And of course we have still got Ben Parker struggling with his injury and when he gets back he will be another new player. So it’s looking alright. Simon is quietly confident. BF: Seven days left in the transfer window, do you expect there to be a flurry of activity? KB: Well, I think I’ve said for some time now that, again, quoting Simon that these last few days before the transfer window closes there are a lot of clubs who have been wanting to sell players, if they are not prepare to lend then, or have been asking too much for their players and have now had to lower their sights. So I do anticipate some activity but as I have said before, for a transfer to take place, the player has to want to come, current club has to be prepared to release him and you’ve always got the bloody agents who do their best to… in the old days we used to say lawyers messed up deals, not it’s the agents being too greedy and spoiling it. I mean there were two players who could have signed over the weekend but having agreed everything with the player, in principle, and the selling club or loaning club as the case may be, the agent comes in and tries to pull a fast one. He thinks he’s being clever for his client but in the end his client gets nowhere and moves nowhere and stays where he is so he doesn’t benefit at all. Some players should be asking themselves a) do they need an agent and b) if I do, is this the right one for me? BF: After the game last night, Simon was asked about speculation surrounding Max Gradel and says the best way to deal with it is just to turn his phone off. Is that the best thing to do – just ignore it? KB: Well yes because, look, well, it’s like trying to get investors in a football club. There’s a lot of talk and not a lot happens. Max isn’t going anywhere and that’s the end of the matter. We already had one offer and that was from West Ham. I think Max will have finished his career by the time they would’ve finished paying it. They haven’t got any money. So, Max is a very big part of our squad and he will continue to be so. BF: Now next up, it’s Ipswich who spent some money themselves during the summer. Are you surprised they have had, well, an indifferent start to say the least? KB: I am rather. We mustn’t get too carried away with the Peterborough defeat because of course they we down to nine men. I didn’t see the circumstances of the sendings off because I switched on rather late. Towards the end it was like a turkey shoot and the Peterborough players were just standing around the edge of the penalty area having potshots. There might of course be a reaction to that performance when we play them on Saturday. On the other hand, we have our tails up. They’ll be in front of a crowd who will be a bit nervous and apprehensive and it’s up to Simon and the boys to take full advantage of Ipswich’s attitude if it’s a poor one. BF: Now after that it’s an international break already before back-to-back home games. Whilst it seems to disrupt the flow of the season, are you pleased it’ll give Simon a chance to get some players back fighting fit? KB: Internationals, internationals… the sooner all the European leagues leave FIFA and UEFA the better I think. But in the meantime we’ll have to live with what we have got. The pre-season friendly in the Premiership’s case, in our case it was between the first two games of the season, was a meaningless friendly. Absolutely ridiculous. Now we’ve got another one. It does disturb the players but on the other hand we have got a few players already with knocks and niggles. It’ll give them another fortnight to prepare. Hopefully Luciano Becchio will be in contention for the Crystal Palace game so that’s going to be another bonus. BF: And of course I suppose it gives people plenty of time for people look forward to getting back to Elland Road and boosting ticket sales for those two games. KB: Well, I’m quite pleased with the ticket sales so far this season. I think the fans have been great, particularly the musical ones. I think the latest song following our new away kit is ‘we’re Leeds United and we glow in the dark’. But yes, once again you see, we haven’t played a home game for nearly a month and we get two. Not fair on the fans. I keep on about it but the fixtures design is a disgrace. If we are using an outside agency then maybe we should change the agency. It’s not fair on the fans, it’s not fair on the players. BF: And while we’re talking about international football, Ramon Nunez, who obviously missed a lot of time away with Honduras has said he is putting his international career on hold to concentrate on getting in the Leeds United first team. You must praise his attitude. KB: Well I do indeed and I’m very grateful for it. He came here on trial, we gave him his chance and now he wants to repay the opportunity we gave him and consolidate his position and prove what a good player he is. Well we know that and we’ll now see him on a regular basis and I’m sure we will. The fans must be very pleased too how well he has come on. As I said earlier, what a pity he was a free transfer, not £10million we had to pay.

Tuesday August 23rd. Doncaster 1-2 Leeds United CC. 12 Rachubka, 02 Connolly, 05 O’Brien (Kisnorbo 76) 28 White yc (Taylor 59) 48 O’Dea, 11 Sam, 14 Howson, 20 Nunez, 29 Thompson, 38 Keogh, 44 McCormack (Gradel 64) Unused Subs : 01 Lonergan, 15 Clayton, 32 Turner, 23 Snodgrass. Simon Grayson made six changes from the side that drew on Sunday with the Hammers, and it was one of these players Ramon Nunez who scored either side of half time to put Leeds through to the next round. Donny, searching for their first points of the season in the league were the better side in the first half. The man who scored the winner against us in the Wembley play offs a few seasons ago, James Hayter steered a volley past Rachubka after just three minutes. The South Yorkshire side missed several chances after that as Rachubka made some decent saves. Nunez scored with a lovely strike from outside the box on the half hour mark, and did likewise with just seven minutes remaining. Leeds brought on Gradel with 26 minutes remaiing and Donny had no answer to his trickery.

Tuesday August 23rd 2011. Media speculation over Max Gradel’s future continues with fresh reports linking the winger with a move away from Leeds. Today he has been linked with Fulham while reports are mixed as to whether West Ham are still in the hunt for the Ivorian after having a £2.5 million bid rejected. Max has said to the Daily Mail, “are Fulham interested in buying me? Yes. I know West Ham are interested in buying me, too.’ When questioned on the potential move to the Hammers, Gradel is quoted as saying “if I keep playing well, I’ll end up somewhere better.”Although Simon Grayson continues to state his determination to keep Gradel, with Leeds yet to tie up a contract extension for the winger, comments like these certainly don’t ease fans’ fears. As a betting man, Bates will glog him to the highest bidder probably on deadline day, without an adequate replacement. I know Nunez is deceny but he isn’t in Gradel’s class yet, even with 5 goals this season.

Sunday August 21st 2011. West Ham United 2-2 Leeds United. Goals : McCormack 59, Clayton 91. 01 Lonergan, 03 Kisnorbo, 22 Lees, 28 White, 48 O’Dea yc, 07 Gradel (Sam 88)14 Howson15 Clayto, 23 Snodgrass, 38 Keogh, 44 McCormack (Nunez 77). Unused Subs : 12 Rachubka, 02 Connolly, 05 O’Brien. West Ham United have beaten Leeds only twice in their last 27 meetings and Adam Clayton’s equaliser at the death showed just why. Kevin Nolan is thought to be on a £40K to £60K contract for the next five seasons. Parker, Green and Cole are all English internationals and their combined wages is more than the entire Leeds squad put together. If a neutral had walked in today, he wouldn’t believe that Leeds United weren’t the side with the internationals sprinkled throughout the side. Leeds had kept just one clean sheet in their last 14 games, and that defensive frailty was exposed on six minutes when Cole wrestled his way on to Matt Taylor’s corner, and flicked the ball past keeper Andy Lonergan. Tom Lees couldn’t get a block and the England international finished well. The Hammers continued to pressurise, and Lonergan had to be alert to deny James Tomkins and Kevin Nolan. Leeds then began to dominate possession and forced corner after corner in a a response that would have really pleased Simon Grayson. Clayton and Howson got hold of midfield and Keogh and McCormack were causing all kinds of problems at the back for the Hammers. The game turned though when Leeds striker Robert Snodgrass hit the woodwork with a superb shot. That seemed to energise the visitors, and they had the chance to level the scores on 26 minutes from the penalty spot after the ball struck Taylor’s outstretched arm from a corner. But Max Gradel, who scored from the spot last weekend, squandered the chance, dragging his shot wide of Robert Green’s post. The half ended with another penalty shout, but Cole was denied by referee Michael Oliver following Aidan White’s sliding challenge. Leeds came out in the second half  the same way as they had dominated the first. McCormack and Keogh missed really good chances, and United were denied a stonewall penalty when Aidy White was flattened by Parker in the box. Snodgrass and in particular Gradel were running the Hammers full backs ragged, as Leeds created chance after chance. Leeds deservedly equalised in the 59th minute when Andy Keogh and Snodgrass combined well for the latter to cross low into the path of McCormack, who swept the ball past Green.But West Ham hit back three minutes later when substitute Julien Faubert crossed from the right and Kisnorbo, in attempting to clear the ball, drove it into his own net. Winston Reid should have tied up the points for the Hammers but was denied at point-blank range from Lonergan, before Parker, watched by England manager Fabio Capello, shot against a post. And they were made to pay on the stroke of full-time when Howson’s shot came back off the crossbar and Clayton buried the rebound to claim a point. It was the least Leeds deserved in front of their huge travelling support. The centre of defence was shaky with Kisnorbo having what I thought to be a real uncomfortable afternoon.  How he didn’t try to clear with his left foot for the OG I don’t know. O’Dea was getting dominated also from the set plays, a typical Allardyce  ploy. Adam Clayton was the best player on the pitch by far, with Aidy Whyte and Max Gradel not far behind him. Grayson got his tactics correct today and it was good to see him go away from home with a 4-4-2 formation. Keogh doesn’t  score many goals (he is a one in four man) but his selfless runs off the ball are terrific, a real team player. I’d love to see him pared with Becchio or even Somma who is the best finisher at the club. Grayson will be happy with the team’s improvement. Rome however wasn’t built in a day. Lonergan is a better keeper than Schmeichel but the defence in front of him has not earned one clean sheet yet. This side has promise and it is shameful that Bates won’t inject a couple of million where three more quality players could get us promoted. Instead we may have to rebuff another deadline day increased offer for Gradel, who must have impressed his potential employers on today’s performance. Please no more journeymen loanees. Simon Grayson : “I thought we were outstanding today. Apart from the first few minutes when you expect a side like West Ham with all their quality to come at you.  I thought d we passed the ball well,  the shape of the team the commitment were all fantastic. Paddy passed that one in when we were totally on top. I thought we deserved to win . There were some outstanding individual performances as well as collectively. We conceded but we passed it around got the wide players involved and made them look ordinary.  My players showed their desire and commitment right until the end . We work hard preseason to go until the end. We got tight. We kept chasing lost causes. The two up front (McCormack and Keogh) were brilliant. The  two in the middle (Clayton and Howson) were  very good. Apart from the Southampton  performance we have been very good this season. I’m delighted with the work ethic.  I’m delighted with the equalising goal but it warranted the performance. Re Donny on Wednesday – we’ll have one or two people who will come in, it’s a game we want to win but we’ll get ready for that one now and the Ipswich game after it”. Sam Allardyce : “When you are 2-1 up at home you have to take responsibility for seeing the game out,” said Hammers chief Allardyce. “You don’t put pressure on yourself and unfortunately we did. We don’t do what needs to be done to get the result, we’ve lacked the professionalism. “Away from home it’s not been a problem, the opposition haven’t had a sniff, but here it puts a fear factor in everybody before they turn up at the next home game. “That fear factor means everyone at the stadium is going to be edgy next time and that makes it very difficult for us to win matches. “To win two away and then falter at home is a great shame but that anxiety will not go away until we win a game.” In critical parts of the game we should have had two blatant penalties. I’ve seen them again with our technology and nobody will convince me they are anything but blatant penalties. “It’s disappointing when you see the referee not do what he is paid to do.”There’s no doubt he’s looking at the incident and making a judgment very quickly, and unfortunately on two occasions he made the wrong one.” (what about the most penalty of the day, Sam on White)

Friday 19th of August 2011. Yorkshire Evening Post interview with Bill Fotherby – Twenty years ago on Saturday Leeds United kicked off their last title-winning campaign but it was actually winning promotion to the top-flight which was the big one for Bill Fotherby. And the former Whites chairman would now like to see the Elland Road club go back to the future in a bid to return to English football’s big time as the YEP’s Wendy Walker reports. Bill Fotherby arrived back in the country from his summer break this week to news of demonstrations at Elland Road aimed at Leeds United chairman Ken Bates. Fans’ unrest is not something alien to him. “I got sick of seeing some of the bums in the windows of the coaches in the car park,” he says, referring to his days as Leeds United chief. But on this occasion at least, Fotherby knows exactly where the supporters are coming from. Leeds have been too long outside the top-flight – since the summer of 2004 to be exact – following their spectacular rise and fall in the doomed Peter Ridsdale era.The striking similarities to 1989, when the Whites were facing their eighth campaign outside of English football’s top tier, cannot be ignored. And while tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of the start of United’s last, glorious championship-winning campaign, Fotherby rolls the clock back to two years earlier when he picks out the pivotal moment in his 20-year tenure at Elland Road. It was the moment Leeds decided to take a calculated gamble to get back into the big-time – and he is now urging Bates to do the same. “The most important thing was winning promotion to the top division,” he says. “We had been languishing in the second division for too long and you can do nothing there. “You have to get into the top division to get any kind of sponsorship really – that’s where all the money was then and that’s where it is today. It opens doors for you to negotiate with the big boys and that was the important thing. “Like anything else, it’s all about money. If you’ve got money you’ve got a chance but you have to spend it in order to make it. So we gambled.” That gamble saw Fotherby splash out almost £3m – big money 22 years ago – following the appointment of Howard Wilkinson as manager in October 1988. Vinnie Jones arrived from Wimbledon in a £650,000 deal, Newcastle United’s John Hendrie commanded a £600,000 fee and Chris Fairclough was talked into a half-a-million pound move from Spurs. It was hard persuading players of that calibre to join a second division side, but Fotherby simply wouldn’t take no for an answer. “Howard Wilkinson gave me a list of players he wanted and the top one was Fairclough,” he recalls. “I went down to London to see Terry Venables, I had a chat and he said ‘you won’t be able to sign him Bill, the deadline’s at 5pm and his wife is expecting a baby at any time’.“I said ‘just find out where he is’, he did and I went to see Chris. I gave him the sales pitch and he said ‘I’d love to sign for you Mr Fotherby but my wife’s having a baby’. I said ‘people in Leeds have babies too you know’ and that was that.” Cash was also splashed on John McClelland (£150,000, from Watford), Andy Williams (£175,000, from Rotherham) and Carl Shutt (£50,000, from Bristol City), while striker Lee Chapman was added in January 1990 for £400,000. But the key transfer was Gordon Strachan, in a £300,000 deal, in March 1989. Crossing to the wrong side of the Pennines to sign a player from the arch enemy wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it proved a wise move and Fotherby feels Leeds could do worse than retrace their steps today. “Gordon Strachan was the only player I can remember of quality that never had an agent,” he said. “He did the negotiations himself. “He later wrote in his column in the Evening Post ‘after negotiations with Bill Fotherby, managing director of Leeds United, I came out buying a box and 10 season tickets off him!’. “But what a great signing he was. If you are going to spend money, you have to pick the right men and he was the right man.” “I feel certain I could help get Leeds United promotion now,” he adds. “I know that is a big statement to make, but I know how to do it.“I would have got on the phone to Alex Ferguson months ago and enquired about Paul Scholes. And he has stopped playing now, so you wouldn’t even have to pay a fee. “I would offer him £1m, £2m – whatever it took. Everyone has a price and I feel confident I could get him. I would say ‘one season, £2m, get me promotion’. “Money makes money.“If Leeds get into the Premier League it would make a massive difference, £60m plus TV appearance money for a start. It’s a hell of a lot and then there are the parachute payments if you do go back down again. “I would take the gamble, I wouldn’t hesitate.” The gamble paid off for Fotherby, with Chapman’s winning goal at Bournemouth on May 5, 1990 sealing a 1-0 win and with it promotion back to the top-flight. United then confounded the critics to finish fourth in 1990-91. And if that surprised some, football was stunned 12 months later when they became the last side to win the old Division One title. Defenders David Wetherall and Jon Newsome had been added from Sheffield Wednesday that summer, along with full-back Tony Dorigo from Chelsea, midfielder Steve Hodge from Nottingham Forest and winger Rod Wallace, who brought brother Ray along for company from Southampton. Decent signings, but hardly superstars. No-one expected United to be crowned champions when they kicked-off with a 1-0 victory over Forest on August 20. No-one outside of Leeds that is… Fotherby, who this summer sold his controlling stake in non-league club Harrogate Town but remains chairman, said: “I am the biggest optimist ever and I had convinced people it was going to happen. That’s why we had so much success, I got everybody believing. I didn’t doubt it for a second – though I would never let on if I did! “I thought it was our destiny to win it and I am a great believer in destiny. I’d convinced myself everything was happening for us.” Leeds led the way all through November but surrendered top spot in the middle of a run of four draws in December, the last a 1-1 verdict against title-rivals Manchester United at Elland Road. But they went back top on the back of a 3-1 victory at West Ham on New Year’s Day, combined with a surprise 4-1 defeat to QPR for Ferguson’s men. Wilkinson then strengthened his hand with the signing of Eric Cantona from French club Nimes. Cantona struck his first Leeds goal in a 2-0 victory over Luton in March as they again went top in a cat and mouse chase to the finish. The decisive moment came at Easter when Forest won at Old Trafford and Leeds beat Coventry 2-0 at Elland Road. The Whites had the edge and when Ferguson’s men then lost their game in hand against West Ham, Leeds’ destiny was in their own hands with just two games left to play. They needed just one – on the 90s version of Grand Slam Sunday. Leeds’ match at Sheffield United was being televised live, before the Liverpool v Manchester United showdown at Anfield later that afternoon. Wilko’s men duly delivered in a nerve-wracking 3-2 victory at Bramall Lane and when Ian Rush set Liverpool on their way to a 2-0 victory, it triggered celebrations in both cities. “We went back to Howard’s place after our game, he cooked the lamb and we drank a couple of bottles of wine,” recalls Fotherby. “We just sat there in anticipation – Howard didn’t want anybody to watch the game. His son eventually ran in and said Manchester United had been beaten and the celebrations began. Your feet don’t touch the ground. “When you have been involved and are close to a club when they do win it is something very special, and once you have tasted the wine you want the bottle, you want to go on having the success. “I remember at the start of the following season I went to Geneva (for the European Cup draw). It was like a huge auditorium we were in and I am walking down these steps trying to find my seat. Right on the front row it said Bill Fotherby, Leeds United. David Dein, Martin Edwards and Peter Robinson, of Liverpool, were sat in the row behind and Leeds were right at the bloody front! They then put clips up on the big screen of our goals from the previous season. “I was trembling with excitement. I was so proud of Leeds and so proud of the supporters, who could be difficult at times. I was always in front of tribunals because of them and the FA was always threatening to close us down. I was sick of seeing some of the bums in the windows of coaches in the car park but you have to take all that rubbish, it’s part and parcel of it. “I talked a lot of rubbish they thought at the time, but I made promises and it came to fruition. And that season they were great.”While that all seems like yesterday for Fotherby, it looks a million miles away for United’s disgruntled supporters today and it might be wise to look in the opposite direction if you’re passing a coach at Elland Road – just in case. But the ebullient former chairman, who also served the club as commercial director after joining in 1979, believes a return to the glory days could be within touching distance.  Though he is adamant it will take more than free transfers and loan signings who are as hit and miss as second-hand cars. “Supporters have to believe you are going for success and at the moment they don’t believe hence the demonstrations last Saturday,” he said. “People don’t believe Leeds are actually trying to win promotion when they need to believe the board’s actually going for it. “The fans need excitement creating and that’s not been done at the moment. “Leeds shouldn’t still be in the position they are in, but signing second-hand players – and I don’t mean to be cruel – just isn’t reliable. “They will fill a position but they are not going to be consistent enough to give the fans what they want.“You need that little bit of quality that makes the difference between the ordinary and champions, that bit of spark, that bit of genius, and unfortunately Leeds are lacking that at the moment. “We took a £3m gamble. I was handed an open chequebook to do all the negotiations with top players. There is no question I would like to see them do it again – just go for it.“They have got the crowd and they are in a great position (financially) with what Ken Bates has done – he has done a marvellous job. “But sometimes it needs a little push and a bit of a gamble. I would take it, but Ken Bates will do it his way.” Bates’ way thus far has been to get Leeds back on a firm financial footing after they collapsed under the weight of more than £100m of debt following the catastrophic Ridsdale reign. United “lived the dream” as the former chairman infamously put it, but two relegations later and post administration and numerous boardroom battles, only the most blinkered of supporters would argue a sojourn into the Champions League was actually worth the final price. While Fotherby’s gamble paid off, Ridsdale’s failed spectacularly as Leeds bought players on credit they simply couldn’t afford. But Fotherby isn’t suggesting for one moment they commit hari-kari again. “The most disappointing thing for me is the success of the Howard Wilkinson, Leslie Silver and Bill Fotherby era is never recognised,” he said. “People only talk about the Don Revie and the Ridsdale eras when we built the club up from the dregs to the top only for it to be subsequently destroyed. “I was managing director for 10 years and I would never have put Leeds in that position. “You have got to know what you are doing, that’s the first thing, and you have got to get the right men in. “The fans don’t care where the money is coming from and some of the transfers I did…I used to do deals like Wigfalls (a former department store in Leeds) where I would make monthly payments, it was unbelievable. “You could borrow as much as you liked but you have got to remember you have to pay it back. And you are not paying two or three per cent interest, you are paying 12 or 13. “But it was all about getting players in and winning football matches and we were very successful with it. “Talk is cheap but you have to make things happen and I did that. “Not bad for a lad from Hunslet without a real education. To go on and own my own business and become chairman of Leeds United and win the league was unbelievable.”

Friday Aug 19th. The Square Ball responds to Peter Lorime – Terrific article. Peter Lorimer is a Leeds United legend. No one can dispute this. As one of the greatest players in the greatest Leeds United team of all time, he holds a strong place in the heart of all our fans across the world. We are eternally grateful for what he and his team-mates did for the club during that era. Simply, without them and the great Don Revie, Leeds United would not be the club we all love so dearly today. Lorimer is now a Leeds United director and with that comes huge responsibility as key decisions at the club are made on a day-to-day basis. He is one of the four members of the Leeds United board of directors, along with Yvonne Allen, Shaun Harvey and Ken Bates. As we all know, Bates is now the owner of Leeds United after taking a majority share in the club earlier this year. Since that takeover, when it finally became clear who owned Leeds United, he has faced a backlash from supporters who are unhappy with a number of things at the club. Bates has responded by calling these fans “sickpots”, “dissidents” and, most recently, “morons”. He is yet to address any of their problems apart from telling them “you’re stuck with me”. These protests against the chairman and owner of Leeds United prompted a column by Lorimer in today’s Yorkshire Evening Post. His legendary status means his words capture the attention of Leeds fans. His position on the board also gives his opinions extra weight. However, in my view, that should not allow him free reign to misguide supporters and that is what I feel has happened with his latest column. In response, I have re-produced the column below, along with my own feelings and a number of clarifications, which I believe some supporters should take into consideration. Leeds United’s defeat to Southampton on the first day of the season was a miserable result, no doubt about that. I agree and I think every fan would too.But I felt at the time that the rush to judgement was too quick and too aggressive. How much can you read into one match?The reaction from fans at Southampton wasn’t about the performance. If it was, why were the fans chanting in support of the team and the manager? Surely they would have taken their anger out on them like at Hereford or Swindon away in recent years? The reaction was clearly about Ken Bates, hence the ever negative chants being directed towards him, not the team. Also, the judgements made by those in the crowd at Southampton were made long before the match. To prove that, the ‘Bates Out’ chants could be heard as fans entered St Mary’s. Since then we’ve seen a game against Middlesbrough, which I’m sure Leeds would have won with 11 players, and a classy hammering of Hull City. Call me deluded, but I don’t see how that constitutes a crisis.As far as I’m aware, no one has called it a “crisis”. Equally, as Simon Grayson would say, we shouldn’t get carried away by one impressive performance against Hull. It’s not been the perfect start but we’ve all seen worse, and so has the Championship since the season started.The sheer amount of negativity in Leeds after that loss to Southampton amazed me. Maybe it was down to lingering disappointment from our failure to qualify for the play-offs last season, but it seemed to me that certain people were looking to turn on the club at the first opportunity.As unacceptable as the performance at St Mary’s was, Southampton won’t be a flash in the pan. Their 5-2 win at Ipswich Town makes me think that they’ll stick around in the top six. And anyone criticising United’s display on the south coast has to admit that the performance against Hull was excellent. It’ll take a few more weeks and a few more games to know which of those results was a proper reflection of Simon Grayson’s team.I’m not asking people to judge the squad at the end of the season. I’m asking them to judge the squad once they’ve properly settled into their campaign. If one shocking result in the first fortnight rules a club out of  contention then Ipswich have no chance of promotion and neither do Leicester City. These are early days – far too early, in my opinion, for protests and demonstrations.The problem is, the lines between reaction to performances and the protests are being blurred here. Yes, some have been unhappy with the team’s performances against Southampton and Bradford but the protests have been against Ken Bates, not the team or their performances. I point you to the fans incredible backing of the team and manager this season. Let’s get this straight, the fans are backing the team, they are not backing Ken Bates. They are protesting against Ken Bates, they are not protesting against the team. If it was the team they had a problem with, fans would be chanting ‘Grayson Out’ not ‘Bates Out’, wouldn’t they? They are, in fact, chanting ‘One Simon Grayson’ at every match. The Bates Out chants continued when we were 4-1 up against Hull too so there’s proof the protests are not about the team’s performances. It’s important for the fans to realise that I do appreciate the standards they expect of Leeds United. When all’s said and done, a football club’s progress and success is gauged by what they do on that green rectangle in the middle of the stadium. It’s only naturally that supporters want their team to be as strong as possible .Correct, we do. Yet £7million has been spent on the East Stand this summer and £300,000 on the West Stand. How much has been spent on the team? What are Leeds United’s priorities – improving the team to make it “as strong as possible” or improving Elland Road, which Leeds United does not own, despite buying it back being outlined as a top priority by Ken Bates during the early stages of his tenure? And, of course, they want promotion back to the Premier League. We all do, and Ken Bates most of all. I’ve heard it said that he’s happy to hover in the Championship with big crowds and steady income, but that’s a load of rubbish. No-one wants to get to the Premier League more than him, and I say that having spoken to him about it many times.If he is so desperate for Leeds United to be back in the Premier League, why hasn’t he invested any money into the club – something he revealed under oath in a Jersey court? As Bill Fotherby said in the YEP: “you have to spend [money] in order to make it”. How many businesses do you know where the owner hasn’t invested any money into it? The reality is this – there’s a sensible way to chase promotion and a mad way. The mad way is what Leicester are doing: spend millions after millions and hope that the team gels together instantly and gets you out of the league straight away. They might have enough money to go down that path and swallow the cost if they don’t go up, but the vast majority of Championship clubs would be risking their future by doing that. No one is asking Leeds United to do this.The sensible way is to build a competitive team within your means and strike a balance between the security of the club and the potential of the squad.If any set of supporters in the country should understand that, surely it’s ours. ‘Doing a Leeds’ is still a phrase used in football circles and I’ve not forgotten what went on here in our darkest days.Again, no one is asking for Leeds United to ‘do a Leeds’. Some fans seem to be of the opinion that the Ridsdale era is used as an excuse for not spending money. That’s simply not true.Well it is by Ken Bates. Peter must not read his programme notes or be a Yorkshire Radio listener. Here’s a couple examples and there are many more where these came fromYorkshire Radio. May 19, 2010: “We cannot exceed transfer or wages budgets or we’ll end up doing a Ridsdale MKII.”
Yorkshire Radio. June 22, 2011: “Leeds United went bust once through Peter Ridsdale paying daft wages, we do not intend to do that again.”Money has been spent on the side and is being spent on the side. The signing of Andy Keogh – a striker who, by the way, we shouldn’t have sold in the first place – showed that cash is available to recruit players of good repute. While Andy Keogh is a good player, is paying the wages of Wolves’ sixth-choice striker for four-and-a-half months really showing our spending intent? As Wolves CEO Jez Moxey said: “We are of the view that we would prefer a sale for his sake but Leeds need some help more than anything.” Thanks for the charity, Jez. What the board don’t want to do is put up money that isn’t there to be spent.But we had £7million to spend on the East Stand this summer. Where did this money come from? Ticket sales? A loan maybe? If so, do we now owe a bank £7million? What is this secured against? We don’t have property to secure it against so was is it against our future ticket sales or TV money? There’s a huge difference between saving money you could invest and spending money you can’t afford. It’s all about being responsible and making sure that, whatever else happens, we never go back to the lows of spending Tuesday nights in Hereford. Why were we spending Tuesday nights in Hereford? Because under Ken Bates’ ownership we piled on an millions in extra debt after he took us over and we ended up in administration; with 10 points deducted and a poor squad we were relegated under Dennis Wise (appointed by Ken Bates) and taken to the club’s lowest ever league position. All under Ken Bates’ ownership. Let’s not forget this. As for the protests against the chairman last weekend, I thought they were totally wrong. They paid no attention to fact that in six and a bit years he’s turned us into one of the best-run clubs in the country – a club who make a profit each year and don’t have any debt.In those six and a half years, we have gone into administration, been given a 10-point deduction, been relegated, given a 15-points deduction, spent three seasons in League One and now we are finally back in the position we were when Ken Bates bought the club. Is that progress? As for making a profit, the accounts clearly show over recent years that if we had not sold some of our most promising talents from the academy we would make a loss every year. Without player trading, we are making an operating loss. This is despite having the biggest fanbase in the entire Football League, with the highest attendances and fans paying the highest matchday/season ticket prices. If you can’t make an operating profit with those, surely that’s not a well-run business? I know it’s difficult for the supporters to get excited about that, and keeping the club secure and stable is the board’s job at the end of the day, but security matters.The problem is, at the moment we’re relying on selling players every year to keep the club from going massively into debt – the accounts show this. If we don’t have those players to sell every year then we’re not secure. As leading football analyst Vinay Bedi, of stockbrokers Brewin Dolphin, said about the last accounts: “You can’t rely on something like transfer revenue. A highly sought-after player such as Delph does not come along every year.” Also, is spending £7million on the East Stand going to keep the club in the black? How about spending up to £90million on the entire Hotel/Nightclub development, a project that has proven a huge burden on Chelsea in the past, taking them to the verge of administration before they were saved (actually saved, not the Ken Bates saved) by Roman Abramovich?Of the fans I talk to, most are pretty appreciative of what’s gone on since we went into administration in 2007. I’d be lying if I said they were happy about everything, and let’s not kid ourselves that we’re pleasing all of the people all of the time, but I’m firmly of the view that the supporters initiating these protests against the chairman are in a minority.They may be in a minority, although it was clear at Southampton that this is not the case among the hardcore away support. When the chant: “Sit down, if you hate Ken Bates” was sung, around 90 per cent of fans sat down. As for what has happened since 2007, let’s recap. On the football side, we’ve spent three seasons in League One and one in the Championship. On the non-football side, the ownership saga has been played out many times over with MPs concluding the 2007 takeover and subsequent repurchase of the club this year should be investigated by the FA with the help of HMRC. I would urge all Leeds fans who haven’t read up on the ownership to do so as there are many questions still left unanswered. It doesn’t help the club and it doesn’t help the team. Take it from me, the players and the coaching staff will be well aware of everything that’s going on and everything that’s being said.They may be aware of the protests but they know it is not against them and Simon Grayson has said it will not affect him or the team. As mentioned above, the backing of the team has been incredible. See, for example, the 15-minute long chant of “We All Love Leeds” at Southampton in the first half when were losing 2-0. For me it’s all a bit unnecessary and a swell of feeling that’s come before a ball’s really been kicked. How many of the crowd walked out of Elland Road on Tuesday night thinking that Leeds are not capable of competing in the Championship? Very few would be my guess.I repeat, the protests are not about the team’s performances. They are about Ken Bates. As I said, too many people turned too quickly and decided to rule us out of the running on the evidence of one match.What disappointed me more than anything was the suggestion before Tuesday that if we lost to Hull we might finish August with no points! Did anyone ever say this? I certainly haven’t heard that said anywhere. That’s not the Leeds United spirit I know. It’s defeatist talk and the performance against Hull was the perfect antidote at the right time.
Can we beat West Ham United on Sunday? Or course we bloody well can! And Ipswich too.
If there’s negativity out there then I’m not prepared to share in it, and neither will the club. The jump to criticise has been needlessly premature.
Fans have had six-and-a-half years to form an opinion of Ken Bates. How can their criticism of him be premature?

Friday 19th of August 2011. Trialists Latest. Leeds United are set to push Mikael Forssell’s trial into next week with a view to taking a chance on the former Chelsea striker. Forssell is pushing for a contract at Elland Road after appearing in a reserve-team friendly against Middlesbrough on Tuesday, and he was due to train with United’s squad at Thorp Arch again this morning. The Finnish international is emerging as a serious option for Leeds as the Championship club look to strengthen their resources in the absence of three other strikers, Luciano Becchio and Davide Somma included. Forssell is a free agent after his release by German club Hannover 96 but his career has been badly affected by injury and Leeds were keen to analyse his fitness after a recent Achilles problem. The 30-year-old, who also played for Birmingham City and Crystal Palace during a decade in England, arrived at Thorp Arch on Monday on the back of a three-week trial at West Ham United, and he appears to be ready to resume his career in the Football League. Leeds manager Simon Grayson watched Forssell in a 2-1 defeat to Boro and said: “He’s a bit short of match fitness but he’s shown the qualities we’ve seen in him before.” United added another striker to their first-team squad on Monday by signing Andy Keogh on a half-season loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers but Becchio is unlikely to return from a hamstring injury until next month and Somma’s knee ligament injury will keep him on the sidelines until the new year. Billy Paynter is presently struggling with a thigh strain. Another trialist, American forward Tony Taylor, played alongside Forssell in Tuesday’s behind-closed-doors fixture. Taylor, 22, is a former USA Under-20 international who spent time in Portugal with Estoril Praia. But Felix Luz – the German striker who scored three times for Leeds in a reserve game at Farsley on August 6 – has left Thorp Arch after failing to earn a deal.

Weds 17th. Moneybags Leicester got hammered at home by a Bristol City side that were winless before tonight and Gus Poyet’s Brighton are trying to outdo Southampton with a decent 3-1 win at Cardiff City. It’s going to be another crazy season in the Championship. A combined win of Leeds, Bristol City and Brighton paid out 170/1 or €170 from a €Euro bet. Bates was at it again but his memory seems to be lapsing unless he really does owe up to selling Leeds from the right hand to the left hand. Bates latest  tirade :I saved your club in 2005 and 2007 when nobody else would. The rebuilding of Leeds United is a bit like sex. In an age of instant gratification, Leeds United is having a long, drawn-out affair with plenty of foreplay and slow arousal. We’re in this for the long term. We may have had two disappointing results, but we will get there – we are building for the future.” The following seems even crazier than signing Roque Junior. Leeds United have emerged as the surprise favourites to sign Manchester City striker Roque Santa Cruz. The Paraguayan has found it tough to fit in at Eastlands and with a number of players above the 30-year-old in the pecking order a move away seems more than likely. Interest is understood to be high in Santa Cruz but his father and agent Aproniano told Paraguayan newspaper ABC a move to the Championship is not out of the question: “There are teams interested and if he had not had so many injuries there would be even more teams.”The second division is very competitive in England, with powerful teams who were in the top division and have huge stadiums, like Leeds United, but the future will be decided by Manchester City

Tues 16th. Leeds 4-1 Hull City Goals – McCormack 17 Lees 40 Snodgrass 47 Nunez 68  Team : 01 Lonergan, 03 Kisnorbo, 22 Lees, 28 White, 48 O’Dea, 08 Brown, 15 Clayton, 20 Nunez (Sam 78) 23 Snodgrass (yellow card) 38 Keogh 44 McCormack (Thompson 88) Unused Substitutes : 12 Rachubka, 02 Connolly, 04 Bruce. Att – 22,363. Hull City faced a decimated and disconsolate Leeds team having lost just once on the road in their previous 18. Andy Keogh came in for his second debut with the club, having been discarded by Kevin Blackwell. He was the perfect foil for McCormack and Hull City were chasing shadows from the outset. Young Aidy Whyte came in at left back and O’Dea went into the centre beside Kisnorbo. Less square pegs in round holes. The Whites were forced into a 4-4-2 formation but came out fighting, even without Howson, Gradel, Becchio and Somma. The quick tempo at home always suits Leeds United and gone are the Tuesday night blues in front of four Louth Branch members travelling from Monaghan. The Freemans were on tour! Ross McCormack put the Whites ahead on 17 minutes but young Tome Lees put through his own goal four minutes later. Lees didn’t drop his head and put United ahead five minutes before half time with a calm and well placed shot.  Andy Lonergan made some terrific saves as the Tigers went all out in the second half, but it was Robert Snodgrass, who was on his game tonight made it 3-1 on 47 minutes with a deft free kick. Ramon Nunez grabbed his opportunity again and netted on 68 minutes. Game over ! Leeds go from 23rd to 13th and Southampton are the only side with full points from three games. We’ll enjoy the victory but we won’t get carried away. This side needs strengthening, and it is vital that Simon Grayson brings in the right players before the end of the month. We don’t want journey men. We want quality players all played in their correct positions. It’s also vital that Grayson moves out the peripheral players who are not good enough for Leeds. It was good to see the 4-4-2 formation – our best formation. Young Lees did well although we know his best position is centre half. Snodgrass was back to his best, Nunez again took his opportunity to shine, and Clayton is beginning to grow in stature and shine consistently. Whyte is a good prospect and deserves his chance at left back.  Lets not forget that some fine saves by Lonergan kept us in the game tonight at crucial times. Worryingly Brown was invisible in midfield again. Simon Grayson : “Delighted with the performance and excellent work rate. Full credit to the players. Its been a disappointing start to the season but the performances haven’t been too bad. We changed the formation. We got Andy in and with Ross we had two players who worked the channels. Tom Lees and Aidy Whyte were terrific. These players have a fantastic attitude and work ever so hard,. Andy was fantastic in goal and with Fryatt and McClean they have decent players but we handled them well. Tom Lees showed great composure. I’m delighted for him. I think he has been a revelation. What a headache to have for Sunday.  The players have played really well. Ben Parker and Leigh Bromby were injured but we did well.  Sometimes formations can be made too much of. We scored so many goals last year we play in the shape that suits us and full credit to the players.”

Tues 16th of August 2011. Andy Keoghcan’t wait for his second coming at Leeds United to get underway, with the Irishman in line for his home debut against Hull City tonight – nine years after joining the club. The 25-year-old Wolves forward has returned to the Whites, the club where he started his career as a scholar in 2002, on loan until January 2 and is expected to be thrown straight in against the Tigers this evening. After two successive Championship defeats, United are desperate for lift-off as they aim to avoid a third consecutive league loss at the start of the season for the first time in exactly 75 years, since 1936-37. And Keogh may not be the only arrival on the strikers’ front this week, with United running the rule over free agent Mikael Forssell, with the former Chelsea and Birmingham City frontman, 30, currently training with the club. For Republic of Ireland international Keogh, it’s very much a case of proving a point, having been on the periphery in his first spell at United – where his solitary appearance came as a substitute in a Carling Cup tie at Portsmouth in 2004. Raring to go second time around, Keogh, linked with a move to United last summer, said: “I can’t believe it’s come up. I need games as well, so it’s perfect. This is where I started, it’s great to be back. “I know about the club. I was here in what you could call the good old days and left just as things started to go downhill. “I was disappointed I never got a fair chance here. I thought I was sold (to Scunthorpe in 2005) too quickly. I understand what it was like back then, but it’s good to be back and have a chance to play in the first team again. “Every player wants to prove something and I’m no different. I feel I was let go too early and didn’t get the chance to show what I can do.” Keogh – who has a year left on his Wolves deal – is well down the pecking order at Molineux, with his days in the Black Country looking numbered. Wolves chief executive Jez Moxey has revealed the loan could become a permanent transfer in the future, having initially been flexible to United’s situation with the club suffering a striker shortage with Luciano Becchio and Davide Somma injured and Billy Paynter also struggling. Moxey added: “We’re of the view that we’d prefer a sale for his sake, but Leeds need some help more than anything, so this loan is a good arrangement for everyone.” Keogh will be hoping for better luck than his previous loan spell at Bristol City in the second half of last season, which saw him score just once in nine outings before returning to the Midlands with a back injury. Earlier on in 2010-11, he only managed two goals in 16 games in a separate loan stint at Cardiff City, where he struggled for opportunities behind Jay Bothroyd and Michael Chopra. But the industrious attacker – also strongly linked with Doncaster Rovers last season – is well regarded by many Championship clubs, while also being a rgular in the Ireland set-up under Giovanni Trappatoni, who used him as a sub in last week’s friendly with Croatia. Capped 22 times, the Dubliner, whose best position is deemed to be as a support striker, is also able to operate on both flanks. Finland international striker Forssell, whose contract with German side Hannover expired earlier this summer, has linked up with United following an unsuccessful close-season trial at West Ham. Suspended skipper Jonathan Howson misses his first league game since May 2010 this evening.

Tues 16th August 2011. McCarthy believes a familiar environment will bring out the best in the Republic of Ireland international, who left Elland Road for Scunthorpe for £50,000 in February 2005 after playing just one Carling Cup game for the club. McCarthy told the Express & Star: “Andy has done terrifically well for me and he’s had a good pre-season and I think he’ll do well for them. “He’s a good Championship player. I’m delighted for him because he’s gone to a great club. He started his career there, so it’s gone full circle for him. “But I hope he gets to play because he deserves to play somewhere.”

Mon 15th of August 2011. Leeds United have signed Republic of Ireland striker Andy Keogh on loan from Wolves until January. The move for the 25-year-old Irishman, who began his career at Elland Road as a trainee, could be made permanent at the turn of the year. Boss Simon Grayson said: “Andy will strengthen our striking options. He’s got plenty of experience, having played a lot at this level and in the Premier League. “He’s also returning to the club where he started his career so he knows what it’s like here and understands the place.” Keogh – who goes straight into the squad for tomorrow’s home clash with Hull – failed to make a senior appearance during his time at Leeds and joined Scunthorpe for £50,000 early in 2005 following an initial loan spell. He scored 23 goals in 96 appearances for the Iron before joining Wolves for £600,000 in January 2M7. Meanwhile  Finnish international Mikael Forssell is in training with Leeds. The 30-year-old former Chelsea and Birmingham striker played for Hannover in the Bundesliga last season. Skipper Jonny Howson and Max Gradel serve one-match bans tomorrow night following their red cards against Middlesbrough Finland international Mikael Forssell is hoping to earn himself a permanent deal at Leeds United – with the club having taken him on trial. The ex-Chelsea and Birmingham striker, 30, played in the Bundesliga with Hannover last season. Boss Simon Grayson said: “”Mikael is training with us and we’ll see how things go.”

Sun 14th of August 2011 What is really going on ? I was listening as ever to the Yorkshire Radio phone in callers after the Boro game and caller after caller asked where  had all the money gone. They talked about Schmeichel and Delph. I have to say I was surprised and not a little disappointed with Eddie Gray who backed the chairman thoroughly. Eddie had said in his YEP article a couple of weeks ago how really short Leeds were in their squad and expected at least 3 to 4 more signings before the start of the season, culminating with the fact that Simon Grayson would be “far from happy with the players be brought in on loan last season”. His point to each caller was that the chairman had stated that Leeds “wages were among the highest in the division and certainly in the top six, so the manager had received the chairman’s backing”. He also said the club was paying back some of the debt from the previous administration.  He maintained that if Snodgrass or Gradel were put on higher wages, most pros at Leeds would be banging the manger’s door for similar wages. He is incorrect with his first statement as the club is in fact debt free, and I don’t give much weight to his second comment. How could the likes O’Brien (we know he’s on £12K per week because Leeds matched Cardiff’s offer)  Connolly etc  justify being matched with the better players at the football club ? I have a lot of time for Eddie Gray so let’s just concentrate on what Ken Bates actually said in his interview to Phil Hay on Friday last. The key statement is as follows : “ Our wage bill is one of the highest in the league. I’d estimate that it’s in the upper levels of the top six and only lower than two or three clubs – West Ham for example. “But I’m told that Leicester City, for all their billions, have imposed a wage cap”. That’s more information than we have had for some time, but is it true ? Released from Leeds or those who chose to go elsewhere were the following : Higgs, Naylor, Johnson and Kilkenny. Schmeichel was sold for in between £1M and £1.5 M to Leicester City. The first two signings for Leeds were Rachubka and Brown and both arrived on frees. Lonergan arrived for circa £200K and O’Dea arrived later on a season long loan from Celtic, a side notorious for paying poor wages to players coming through their ranks. Let’s assume that the departure of Higgs, Naylor, Kilkenny , Schmeichel and Johnson (5 players) cancelled out the wages of  Rachubka, Brown, Lonergan and O’Dea – our total arrivals to date (4 players).  There is still at least £1M left over from Lonergan’s arrival versus Schmeichel’s departure.  Sanchez Watt was on loan for the whole season that would probably cost Leeds £500K. McCartney was on £22K per week with Bates on record already as saying that Leeds’ cup run v Arsenal paid for his wages. That’s an incredible statement given Leeds were supposed to have made £3M from the FA Cup, but we’ll give the benefit of the doubt to Bates. Lichaj,  Livermore and Bannan also came in for part of the season  and Lees and Kisnorbo were placed on better contracts part balancing that out, but would leave still at least £300K on the credit side to Leeds. In fact we also had Amdy Faye, Jason Brown, Zac Thompson, Ben Alnwick, and  Daviz Gonzalez on short term arrivals/loans but we’ll leave that balancing out Grella, Whyte, Bessone, Nunez and Clayton returning for 2011/12. Ross McCormack and Alex Bruce arrived for around £500K in total. Collins came and left for a profit.  Let’s look again at the maths : £1M plus £500K plus £300K  plus £500K = £2.3M and we have to assume that Simon Grayson was given at least £1M at the start of the season to strengthen his side. That’s £3.0M net if one deducts the figure of £300K that Ken Bates says Leeds spent on the East stand. If Grayson  loses players on loans or for transfer fees Bates states that this goes back into his transfer kitty. After all Bates states the budget is his and he invests the money as he sees fit. The decisions are his”. What happens next ? Grayson has been poor with his signings to date and maybe Ken Bates doesn’t trust him. Then again Ken Bates seems to trust no one except Ken Bates.  From the current crop : O’Brien, Connolly, Bruce, Paynter, Grella, and Bessone, are either not good enough or totally out of favour. There are doubts lingering over the quality of Bromby, Brown, O’Dea and Lonergan.  Nine out of ten are Simon Grayson signings. Still, I believe as stated in an earlier article, it would be futile to replace Grayson just now. Grayson in this three years has hit the League One –Play Offs, won promotion from League One and finished 7th in the Championship. He has achieved an infamous FA Cup win at Old Trafford and engineered big money FA Cup replays against Spurs and Arsenal.  He has a lot to prove to doubters but just what is the alternative right now ? Grayson also  has a dilemma. He is short two strikers (Becchio and Somma) in the short to long term, and he has an abundance of central defenders, most of whom are not good enough. We need a right full and a left full if Grayson has no faith in Parker or Whyte. The latter has yet to get a chance and the former is injury and mistake prone. Connolly is clearly poor. How the manager must rue releasing Frazer Richardson two seasons ago. Kisnorbo is locked into one of the central positions in defence (but who may be a kick away from a long term injury)  but we still have Bruce (who appears totally out of favour) O’Brien (who is out of form, unfit and out of favour with the crowd) O’Dea (who is here for a season no matter what) Lees (who deserves his chance especially after a successful loan spell at Bury last season ) and Bromby . Five into two doesn’t go. In the middle of the park, Michael Brown (34) has been average but Clayton has done really well, and captain Jon Howson who is a decent footballer, but a player for whom  Grayson struggles to find a suitable position . Out wide we have Snodgrass and Gradel, one or both of whom may be unsettled, and Nunez and Sam who are challenging for starting slots. Up front only McCormack and the unfancied Grella  appear fit. Paynter is useless.  Somma is long term injured and Becchio is a couple of weeks away from a return. Grayson actually needs to lose players, whether out on loan or permanently and who they are is obvious. More importantly he needs to bring in quality players, something with which he has struggled to do thus far.  According to Bates we appear to have the third or fourth  largest wage bill in the division. That’s surprising as Ipswich have gazumped us on Andrews and Stockdale and possibly Bowyer. They have also signed the quality Michael Choppra and his wages would be in the mid to late teens. We know Leicester and West Ham have huge earners on their books, some of which came in big transfers, and we know  Birmingham City are also well above us having retained many of the Premier league squad.  Cardiff City brought in two excellent strikers in Kenny Millar and Rob Earnshaw – players who I doubt Leeds would fit in to their wage system. We know Mbro have a bigger wage bill (especially with  Brown, Julio Arca, Bailey, Hoyte and Robson in their panel) and we suspect that Forest have a bigger wage bill. I suspect Leeds are in the Burnley category regarding wages, about eight or so down the food chain. Bates also gives an excuse for every player under the sun we missed out on,  including the trialists for whom we don’t pay hotel bills. Neil Kilkenny left for Bristol City for bigger wages and better ambition and new comers Brighton showed their intent  purchasing Craig Mackail Smith for £2.5M. Grayson needs to be ruthless and shed the players he doesn’t need. That’s assuming that other clubs will take them. The fact that no other teams have looked for some of these players perhaps says more about Simon Grayson’s  judgement and maybe they are on higher wages than their ability deserves. More importantly he may have to consider the sale of Snodgrass or Gradel to generate funds to strengthen quite a number of areas of the side. Gradel is one of the signings Grayson got right, and it was Gary McAllister who spent £250K on a little heard of Scottish winger, Robert Snodgrass. Snodgrass will generate more money because of the term left on his contract, but Gradel may be of better value to Leeds. If he stays it will probably take an offer of £15K per week to retain him, probably doubling his wages. If either goes the fans will not be happy. It’s dilemna time.  Time is not on Grayson’s side with infinitely tricky league ties versus Hull City, West Ham and Ipswich Town on the horizon. Bates and Grayson have appealed to the fans for August patience until some of their targets become available and the deadline for signings runs out. Time is not on their side, although from the early games so far, big promotion favourites, Leicester, West Ham, Ipswich and Leicester aren’t going to get it all their own way. Bates stated he would be “disappointed if we didn’t finish in the Play Offs”. The question now becomes : Can Grayson get us promoted for £3M plus player sales including Gradel or Snodgrass ? It may be a rocky road ahead for Grayson because Ken Bates believes on a committee running a football club, as long as it’s an odd number and less than three. Will the 80 Year old stay longer at Leeds than the 41 year old ? I hope it becomes a younger man’s game. 

Sat 13th Aug 2011. Leeds United 0-1Middlesbro 01 Lonergan , 03 Kisnorbo, 22 Lees, 26 Bromby, 48 O’Dea yellow card, 07 Gradel two yellow cards, red card ,08 Brown yellow card (Nunez 56) 14 Howson two yellow cards, red card , 15 Clayton , 23 Snodgrass (Thompson 65)44 McCormack yellow card (Sam 75), Unused Substitutes :12 Rachubka, 28 White, Att: 25,650. A disappointing performance, a disappointing crowd for a first home Championship game, a disappointing ref but more importantly a disappointing result. Grayson is struggling with his defence big time. Andy O’Brien whom this column writer said from his signing is plainly not good enough and no better than Richard Naylor, was dropped from the squad and the ever poor Connolly lost his right full berth to young Tom Lees, who made his full league debut for the Whites.  O’Dea came back to the left full slot, but he is no full back. This left Leeds starting against Boro with two central defenders playing as full backs. It doesn’t work. United started brightly with Lees very dangerous when he pushed forward for set plays, and McCormack did okay for the early part of the game.   Max Gradel who looks clearly unhappy at the club  went Mad Max again as he saw red after just 26 minutes. Snodgrass, back after scoring on full international debut was missing in action and looks to be another player unhappy at Elland Road. The referee leveled the numbers when Tony McMahon was harshly sent off for his second yellow with a foul on Howson. Leeds went down to nine men when Howson was sent off early in the second half when the referee seemed to change his mind about booking the Boro player for diving. Boro dominated the game from here and it was no surprise when they went ahead on 56 minutes. There looked to be no danger when Emnes got the ball but he easily cut in from the left past Leeds and buried the ball into the roof of the Leeds net. Leeds huffed and puffed but a second goal for Boro always looked more likely than a Leeds equaliser. Leeds are struggling right now. Best for Leeds today were Clayton and Lonergan who made some terrific saves. The fans are very unhappy and United go into another tough Elland Road derby v Hull City on Tuesday night without Gradel, Howson, Becchiuo, Somma and Paynter. The Tigers come to Elland Road after a tasty win at some peoples’ promotion candidates, Ipswich Town. After two league games are Leeds United in a crisis ?Simon Grayson : “I don’t know what words to describe it. Everybody is referring to a few of the decisions. It amazes you at times. You have 20-odd thousand here, a passionate local derby, two players go for a 50-50, not over the top or anything like that, and they’re both yellow-carded which puts them both on the back foot. Neither of them went over the top and then Max makes a rash challenge. He then decides to even it up by sending off Tony McMahon which I don’t think was another yellow card, and then the second sending-off absolutely baffled me.” Tony Mowbray :  “We were only interested in the final result. It was a game of swinging emotions and frustrations, but we’ll put it behind us very quickly as we have the points. How referees decide to manage football matches is probably decided before they start. When I came to watch Leeds and Middlesbrough in the 1970s there seemed to be a sending-off every game. It’s a fantastic atmosphere to play football in and I think it over-hypes the players. My own personal view is the referee had a difficult day.”

Friday 12th. “Norman” Bates answers back. Eighty years old in December and as full of fire as ever. The average octogenarian strolls down the slow lane with a walking stick and a pipe. Ken Bates won’t be joining them soon. “Still going strong,” he says. “In fact, I intend to walk behind you at your funeral.” How soon that event comes might depend on the content of this article. As interviews go, there are easier discussions to stage. Leeds United’s chairman arrives at Thorp Arch with a smile and a handshake but the questions in waiting are not typical of the first week of a new season. Negative would be one description; necessary another. This game of opinions so popular in Leeds has generated many in the dead months of summer. We start at the top by discussing the squad at Elland Road, altered since May by the departure of five senior professionals and the arrival of four. There is a busy train of thought which says Leeds have invested less in their playing resources than they needed to, or less than they might have done. That particular complaint lands naturally on the desk of United’s chairman and majority shareholder. “Here’s what we do,” he says. “Every year we look at our income and work out our costs for 17 different departments. We also set aside a contingency for emergencies and such like. Then we give the rest to Simon (manager Simon Grayson) and say ‘spend it on players’. “If he wants to buy a player for £5m then that’s up to him. But it might mean that he’s only able to pay his other players three quid a week. So the budget is his and he invests the money as he sees fit. The decisions are his.” The obvious response is to ask whether that budget could have been bigger; whether Leeds are in a position to throw more money at their squad than they do at present. The club made £3m in profit during the last financial year and have made a seven-figure gain in three of the last four. Several teams in England are worried by bankruptcy but Leeds are not one of them or even close. When Bates purchased a controlling stake in United in April of this year, he acquired one of the few clubs whose operations consistently make money. On that basis alone, it is to be expected that their expenditure will be scrutinised. Since he became chairman in January of 2005, that scrutiny has been fierce and consistent, coming most recently from the Houses of Parliament. Parliament’s concern is the ownership structure of Leeds in the aftermath of their insolvency in 2007. Locally, debate rages more intensely about the strength of the squad as it stands, three months and five days after United finished seventh in the Championship. Bates concedes that “it might look as if we’ve not been very active” but he hotly disputes the suggestion that the club have set aside too little in transfer funds or enforced too low a wage bill to make something productive of this season. “Our wage bill is one of the highest in the league,” he says. “I’d estimate that it’s in the upper levels of the top six and only lower than two or three clubs – West Ham for example. “But I’m told that Leicester City, for all their billions, have imposed a wage cap, and their owners have said that they simply won’t spend more than ‘x’. FIFA are implementing rules on financial fair play and clubs are starting to realise that they have to live within their means. We already do that and it’s how any successful club should operate. It’s a proper financial system which is starting to catch on. “At the moment we’re spending as much (on players) as we can afford. If we spend any more and lose money then who covers that? “Take Alan Smith – we spoke to Newcastle about doing a deal with him and were told that we’d have to pay £1m in wages over the next year. People say £1m isn’t a lot of money but I say to them ‘you put the money up then’.” I make the point that almost 11,000 fans have paid hundreds of pounds for season tickets and that last year’s average attendance cleared 27,000 (Bates, true to form, knows the exact figure). “But the income from season tickets only covers half the wage bill,” he says. “That’s the reality and it doesn’t even touch the day-to-day costs of running the club. “A lot of what we’re doing is about the long term. I’ll be dead by the time half of the kids in the academy come into the first team so it would be easy to say ‘b***** the academy’. But many years down the line it’s something that the club will benefit from, just as it’s benefiting now. The squad’s got a lot of home-grown players in it – Jonny Howson, Ben Parker and Aidan White. We had another debutant (17-year-old left-back Charlie Taylor) playing against Bradford in the Carling Cup on Tuesday night. So the investment is clearly paying off.” Bates expects the same to be true of the work carried out recently on Elland Road’s East Stand, as yet to be completed. Council documents set the likely cost at £7m. In his midweek programme notes, Bates stated that the outlay on the East Stand would amount to £300,000. Either way, it has been a contentious talking point since work began to renew the structure in the first week of May. The reconstruction to date is part of a more expansive plan of regeneration which, much like Bates’ project at Chelsea, will in theory turn the East Stand into a commercial venture. Those who rail against United’s owner have taken to signing ‘build us a team, not a hotel’, in reference to the stadium’s future blueprint. They also make the point that Leeds are extensively developing a property they rent. Bates neither understands that argument nor accepts it. He claims that the facilities in the East Stand’s upper tier were “some of the worst I’ve seen” when he became chairman six-and-a-half years ago. “Here’s the thing about the East Stand,” he says. “The extra income it generates will more than pay back the money we’ve spent to do it. Then that income is always there. We’ll also have a museum and facilities which I think the fans will appreciate. “Believe it or not I want them to have a pleasurable experience when they come to games at Elland Road. It’s why we’ve made so many changes to the ground. But it’s important to have income streams that are safe or guaranteed, whatever happens on the pitch. “We got a crowd of 38,000 for our FA Cup tie against Arsenal but a lot of those people were nowhere to be seen when we got 17,000 for a league game against Hereford. The average crowd last season was higher than that but the point I’m making is that you can’t rely entirely on money which is dependent on last week’s result.” Last week’s result is nevertheless what matters to the average supporter, if marginally less than tomorrow’s. United play Middlesbrough at Elland Road this weekend with the wounds of a heavy defeat at Southampton – their first league game of the Championship season – relatively fresh. Bates was criticised by the crowd at St Mary’s and again on Tuesday during Leeds’ Carling Cup first-round win over Bradford City. His treatment tomorrow on his first matchday appearance at Elland Road since the end of April remains to be seen. He does not look ruffled or unduly concerned, describing chants in his direction as “water off a duck’s back”. “I’ve been listening to complaints for 50 years,” Bates says. “When I took over at Chelsea I got a huge wad of letters attacking the previous bunch who’d been in charge. “The secretary at the time said ‘chairman, we get two types of complaints. When we’re losing, the manager needs to be sacked. When we’re winning, the tea tastes like p***’. But the chairman and the board of a club are there to be criticised; players and managers are there to be praised. It’s always been that way. “I also remember what Freddy Shepherd once said: directors are there to direct, managers and there to manage, players are there to play and supporters are there to support. “I’m still here and the reason I’m here is because no Yorkshireman was willing to put his hand in his pocket in 2005 or 2007. If it wasn’t for me, there wouldn’t be a football club at all. The people complaining are a vociferous minority.” In answer to the matter of whether further signings are likely before the end of the transfer, Bates says yes. Among the club’s targets, he explains, are Premier League players or “near Premier League players” – players, in effect, who Leeds intend to sign on loan. “We can’t afford to sign them outright, pure and simple, so you look to sign them on loan instead,” he says. “That type of deal tends to happen towards the end of August when Premier League clubs pick their 25-man squads and know who’s staying and who can go.” A fair riposte is to state that United’s record in the loan market during Grayson’s time as manager have been decidedly mixed. Deals to take Barry Bannan and Jake Livermore from Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur respectively did not appear to assist Leeds greatly in the final weeks of last season. “I wouldn’t disagree about them,” says Bates, “but it’s easy to be clever with hindsight and it doesn’t mean that loans don’t work. A lot of the more successful clubs in the Championship last season used them to get a better standard of player. “It might have looked as if we’ve not been very active, but there’s an awful lot going on which the supporters never see. “We thought we’d signed Lee Bowyer, who would have been an excellent signing, but he’s got two children and a long-term partner and he lives in the east end of London. So he joined Ipswich out of respect for his family. We spent a month working on a deal and that’s the way it goes. “But it’s worth pointing out that the transfer window is still open and there are players out there who Simon is looking at. We haven’t finished yet.” Which all leads round to the issue of most immediate importance: is the squad, as it stands or as Bates expects it to stand on September 1, capable of holding sixth place or better in the Championship? Moreover, is that the benchmark of United’s board and a fair target for Grayson? “I’d be disappointed if we didn’t finish in the play-offs,” Bates says. “There’s no reason why we can’t. I’ve got faith in the players and a lot of faith in the manager. “I hear fans saying that the wage bill isn’t big enough, or we don’t spend much money, but how would they know how big our wage bill is or how much we spend? “Take a look at Simon’s record – in his first season, the play-offs. In his second, promotion. In his third, seventh place in the Championship. Does that look like a manager or a club whose budget isn’t big enough? “The way we run the club is for the good of the club, as time will tell. We’re financially secure and upwardly mobile.” It’s Bates’ opinion and he’s sticking to it.

Friday 12th of July 2011. Phil Hay YEP on Leeds fans’ protests. On Saturday afternoon, Elland Road might witness a protest against the board and chairman of Leeds United. Equally it might not. Demonstrations are notoriously fickle and prone to low attendance. One proposed turn-out in early June amounted to nothing more than an empty threat. The success of tomorrow’s gathering will be gauged on the numbers it attracts but the force of their argument is not dependent on a headcount around the Billy Bremner statue. Nor should it be assumed that disharmony is limited to those who to take part. That sections of United’s support are already talking in terms of protests, rallies and symbolic action must strike the club as deeply regrettable. Lest it be forgotten, Leeds are one game into a 46-match Championship schedule. The season is not so much in its infancy as still to be conceived. Results across the country upset countless clubs on Saturday but Leeds were alone in meeting defeat to the sound of vexatious abuse towards their owner, Ken Bates. It created an irregular atmosphere on the first day of the term and exposed a depth of anger beyond the scale of idle moaning. One retired footballer with no ties to Elland Road called the crowd at Southampton “mutinous”. To disregard that outburst or dismiss it as knee-jerk posturing would be wrong. The same negativity has been prevalent all summer, lacking only the opportunity, the exposure and the significance of competitive football to make itself properly heard. United’s supporters spoke out at Hillsborough during a pre-season friendly against Sheffield Wednesday but those noises were borne out of fear and suspicion about what was to come. Against Southampton, the performance mattered and so did the result. United’s weakness pushed many over the edge. Those I talked to afterwards were not motivated by surprise. Most assumed that a loss of that nature was in the post and destined to support their biggest complaint – that the revision of United’s squad has categorically failed to enhance the group of players held by the club in May. Southampton were more assured and more organised, with a look of greater strength in many areas of the field. It is sobering to say that of a club who were promoted from League One three months ago, and difficult to accept. Leeds’ manager, Simon Grayson, will answer for outings as poor as Saturday’s and so will his players. Only Adam Clayton and the besieged Andy Lonergan deserved pass-marks, and no amount of disquiet at Elland Road can free the squad of their responsibility to aspire to an agreeable level of performance game after game. But it cannot be helpful to face an atmosphere as poisonous or unhealthy as that which they encountered at Southampton.  The away gathering of over 3,000 gave Grayson and his squad a generous amount of moral support, showing clearly who their argument is with, but that appreciation did not obscure the undercurrent of agitation. Already, United’s players know that they are in the hands of a volatile crowd. That fact is not immaterial. As their captain Jonathan Howson makes clear in a frank interview with the YEP today, he was bewildered by the capitulation at St Mary’s. But his body language at full-time suggested that he was shocked too by the rage of United’s crowd and the sound of them losing patience less than half-an-hour into the club’s first Championship game. The long, hard season becomes less of a cliché when the fighting commences on day one. The loss was the fault of United’s staff, both playing and backroom, but the disharmony in the stands would not appear to be down to them. As it has for many years now, it comes round to one thing – a difference of opinion between the fans and the board at Elland Road over the club’s financial strategy. There is no greater bone of contention and no subject more likely to define the era of the existing regime. In his programme notes before Leeds’ final pre-season friendly against Newcastle United, Bates summed up their transfer policy as thus: “We take no risks.” It felt that way this summer to the people who renewed season tickets and looked for a return in the form of inspiring investment in United’s squad. It has not materialised and is now dependent on the back-end of the transfer window holding more promise. Without further spending, every poor result and below-par performance will draw attention towards the operation of the club. Leeds might not appreciate that criticism but their supporters are entitled to voice it. This, after all, is not Eastlands where Etihad Airways plan to invest £40million a year over the next decade for the good of their health and that of Manchester City. This is a club where, in the 2009-10 financial year, supporters contributed 63 per cent (or £17.2million in cash terms) to United’s turnover of £27.4million. That investment does not earn them any direct influence in Leeds’ affairs but it gives them the right to have their say when and where they see fit. It is also a reason for United to consider their grievances. Until Bates’ interview with this newspaper, there was limited acknowledgment of the mood of the masses. Grayson spoke of “frustration” and his chairman talked of “a small minority” – and under-estimation of the weight of feeling in the opinion of this writer – but nothing indicating that the noise from outside was resonating within. Bates’ willingness to answer the many questions thrown at the YEP in the past three months is to be welcomed. Worthwhile too would be a cold, hard appraisal of United’s squad as a means of deciding whether weaknesses identified by those watching are weaknesses in reality. Five goals conceded in two games hints strongly at one. It would be unforgivable if United’s failing this season was identical to the failing of the past 12 months. Risk is not part of the ethos at Elland Road but a club who have made combined profits of around £10million in four years are vulnerable to the claim that they are playing it safe with regards to expenditure on players. They heard that claim during their season of promotion from League One and again on their way to seventh in the Championship. Those steps forward gave United’s board a fair means of championing their strategy but they are dogged by the suggestion that they could have gone further with a bigger outlay and greater transfer funds. Leeds’ approach in any case has always benefited from a harmonious mood and positive, raucous support. Their worst season in recent memory – the 2006-07 Championship year – was a time of enormous division between the club and the fans, caused among other things by a lack of faith in United’s vision. Two games in and Leeds are in danger of losing their supporters already. It is a tide of disaffection which the club must turn.

Friday 12th of August  Grayson seeks support. SIMON GRAYSON has urged his struggling stars to ignore the fans’ fury and concentrate on getting Leeds’ season on track.  Angry Leeds punters have turned on chairman Ken Bates because of a lack of action in the transfer market this summer.  The Yorkshire outfit have drafted in only four players – free transfers Paul Rachubka and Michael Brown, Darren O’Dea on loan from Celtic, and Preston keeper Andy Lonergan for just £200,000.  United followers were expecting major investment and a fresh push for promotion back to the Premier League after last term’s near miss.  And they vented their anger with chants of ‘Bates out’ during last Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at Championship new boys Southampton and in the narrow 3-2 League Cup win over Bradford.  Boss Grayson, who sends his side into crunch home clashes against Middlesbrough today and Hull on Tuesday, said: “Unless you have earmuffs on, it’s very difficult not to hear things. “But what you have to make sure of as players is that you fully concentrate on what you are doing. “The lads have to be focused and put in performances. “If we are winning matches, it doesn’t become so much of an issue. That is the major thing. When you look at the other night against Bradford, I thought the fans were excellent. “We were 1-0 and then 2-1 down against local rivals, but they stuck with the team. “It is a test of character when you go behind, but when one or two in the crowd start getting restless, it makes it more of a test. “But I have to say the only time I’ve had a problem with the crowd here was early on as Elland Road was a difficult place for the players to play. “Otherwise, in the two-and-a-half years since then, the fans have always backed the team.” But Bates has hit back at the fans calling for his head and said: “The chants are water off a duck’s back. “The chairman and the board of a club are there to be criticised – players and managers are there to be praised. It’s always been like that. “I’m still here and the reason is because no Yorkshireman was willing to put his hand in his pocket in 2005 or 2007. If it wasn’t for me, there wouldn’t be a football club at all. “Our wage bill is one of the highest in the league. I would estimate that it is in the upper levels of the top six and only lower than two or three clubs, West Ham for example. “We are spending as much on players as we can afford. If we spend any more and lose money, then who covers that?”

Friday 12th of  August 2011. Leeds have been drawn away to Doncaster Rvs in the next round of the CC.

Thurs 11th of August 2011. Confusion reigns at ER. Simon Grayson’s hopes of bolstering his squad prior to Saturday’s home curtain raiser with Middlesbrough has suffered two set-backs. Trialist Alex Mendy, who had an impressive season will not be joining the club and contradicting stories are emerging as to why. The Daily Mirror claim that Ken Bates blocked the deal, refusing to cover the player’s expenses, including hotel bills, which are usually the norm. Later,  however the official word on is that Grayson felt he had adequate provision in the wide-man area! This surely begs the question why have Mendy on trial in the first place? Surely we knew what type of player he was before he arrived in LS11? Reeling from the loss of striker Billy Paynter, Leeds apparently lost out on a centre-forward late on Monday night in which chairman Ken Bates blamed on “agent interference”. Leeds had agreed a deal with the un-named player’s club to take the forward until Christmas but apparently in the 11th hour the Mr-Fixit wanted the parent club to pay him off and Leeds to offer him a one-year-deal. Ross McCormack is the only recognised out-and-out striker fit going into the game with Middlesbrough. With just three-weeks left on the transfer-window and Bates’ strict stance on wages, he earlier derided the deal to bring back Alan Smith as dead as it would have cost Leeds £1m, Leeds fans seemed resigned to no major moves and seemingly a season of struggle. Earlier rumours engulfed Leeds suggesting that Simon Grayson may resign in frustration at his chairman over what he sees as total impossibility of bringing any players to Leeds United. Ken Bates appears to refuse to pay market rates for wages and if possibl attain players without the help (or more to the point – fees) of agents. Some fans suggest that Grayson and Bates should go. I believe that the latter should go but can we really see any business entity dealing with Bates over a takeover. Grayson has certainly appeared weak as the Summer progresses into Autumn, but can we really see anyone better stepping into the breach whilst Bates is still in control at ER. Some have suggested that Grayson’s moves into the transfer market over the past 18 months hardly deserve the stamp of approval from his chairman. This would certainly be the case with any realistic chairman, but does anyone believe that Bates lives in the real world. He certainly doesn’t need excuses not to spend money. He either trusts his manager or he doesn’t. Do we believe that any manager that would endure Bates as a chairman would be any better than Grayson ? Dennis Wise I hear you say ! That would be a lead balloon with Leeds fans. Gus Poyet ? Do you think he would leave Brighton who spent nearly £3M on a striker to come to unambitious Leeds, and pay a fee whilst doing so. Our previous managers have been McAllister, Wise, Blackwell, E Gray and K Blackwell. Are any of those better than what we have now ? I think not. His transfer dealings have been poor, but some may argue that if you pay peanuts you get monkeys. This is not a defence of Simon Grayson but more a realistic view of where we are now. The problem is Bates. Bring in a new chairman with money to invest and he can certainly pick his own manager. Until then we are where we are.

Weds August 10th 2011. Joesep Goebbels propaganda – I mean Ken Bates

Taken from Yorkshire Radio’s interview with Leeds United owner Ken Bates today…‘

Ben Fry: Chairman, we’ll start with the Carling Cup. A night of drama, a five-goal thriller, the positive has to be progression to round two  but another rollercoaster for the Leeds fans.

Ken Bates: Er yes, I’m afraid that it was but on the other hand we do have to remember at the moment, especially last night, we had seven first team players missing. Four on internationals, Snodgrass, Aidy White, Gradel and O’Dea and then of course we have Becchio, Paynter and Somma off injured. So it was a squad team more than a first team. So from that point of view, I think they did well. I thought that one or two players were nervous last night but on the whole, in the cup, it doesn’t matter if you win 1-0 or 10-0, the result is the same, you’re through. And of course, it was a night when it could be said we had a good result because Hull, Coventry, Derby and one other that I forget all went out. All Championship clubs going out to lower side teams and Notts Forest needing penalties to beat their neighbours. So we’re in the second round of the Carling Cup and that’s all that counts.

BF: You mentioned the players who are missing. There has been plenty of debate around the scheduling of Carling Cup games in and around international friendlies. Do you think it’s something that does need looking at in the future?

KB: Well I think what needs looking at is it’s bloody stupid to schedule an international match three days before the start of the Premier League season and during the week after the Football League season has started. It’s just absolute greed on behalf of the FIFA just to have a money-making game for the national FAs which in turn helps Mr Blatter get his votes and consolidate his hold on the presidency of FIFA. We’re now playing too many international matches and too many of them are meaningless international friendlies.

BF: Now one on the internationals was Aidy White, playing with the Irish Under-21s. You must be pleased to see another international player coming through the academy.

KB: Yeah, it’s great. Aidy went out on loan last season of course and it did him good. Now he’s a proper member of the first team squad and I’m delighted as you said to have another local hero. But, of course, I suspect we have another one on the horizon with Mr Lees who played so well last night in his big match. He has done very well of course while he has been out on loan. He has got a lot of experience – nearly 100 League One games under his belt but he came in and did well and made a major contribution. I’m delighted. That’s two, plus Jonny Howson, that’s now three homegrown players we have in the first team squad, which is great.

BF: You mentioned Tom Lees. Simon was full of praise for his performance afterwards. With a few frailties at the back in the first two games, it could be his season, couldn’t it? He could push through. If you’re good enough you’re old enough.

KB: Well, you’re right. If you’re good enough you’re old enough. If you’re good enough, you’re big enough. I think he qualifies on that stage anyway. He came into pre-season training quite self-confident, shall we say. Knocked on the manager’s door and said ‘where do I stand this season? What’s going to happen to me?’ Simon said ‘you’re part of the team, part of the squad, now it’s up to you’. He had his chance last night and he took it and I’m delighted.

BF: Taking us back to Saturday and it was a tough start away to Southampton. A promoted side, full of confidence but there was some frustration from Leeds fans afterwards. They felt it was a difficult day for their team. What was your analysis?

KB: Well I agree with them. I though we were very sort of lackadaisical at the back. All three of those goals at Southampton I thought were soft ones and could have been avoided had we closed them down properly. The only positive thing of course is that when they help the post-match inquest, those responsible for making individual errors held their hands up and took responsibility. That’s always a good thing, a good sign. You start to worry when people say it’s not my fault, it’s somebody else’s fault. Anyway, it’s only one game gone, 45 games to go. As one cheerful soul said on the phone-in after, we’re only three points behind the leaders. Obviously, there’s still a few things to do at the back. It has to be more solid and I’m disappointed because I thought Simon said in the summer there’s no problems with the forward line, we’ve got the highest scoring attack in the league, so we’ll concentrate on the defence. But of course, O’Dea only joined us on the Friday so hardly got to know his fellow team-mates’ names before he came out. I’ve got a feeling, a disappointing start but there’s a long way to go yet.

BF: That brings me onto transfers. Obviously, you mentioned a few issues at the back and the strike force being the strike force from last season is depleted by injury at the moment. Has that changed the thinking on transfers or is it more of a long-term strategy?

KB: Well I can tell you now, obviously I won’t name the players but we actually had a big striker to bring in before last night’s game and his club agreed to let him go on loan until Christmas and the player said yes, he wanted to come then the agent got busy. He intervened and said no, what he wanted to do was get his club to pay the player off because he’s in the last year of his contract and then come and sign for us for a year. We said no, no, we’ve done a deal with your club to loan the player until January and the player wants to do it. But he was greedy, trying to get a pay-off for his player. So we said look, we’re only signing him so he can play Tuesday night and if he doesn’t turn up on Tuesday with his boots, forget it. So because of the agent’s greed, the player didn’t come. We weren’t prepared to be blackmailed by some pox agent. That’s one of the problems at the moment. The agents are greedy. Some of them are. And they don’t act in the best interests of their clients. They’re more interested in getting a fee for themselves. So the player now hasn’t got first team football, and he’s on the fringes of it, he’s a good player and one we tried to sign a few years ago. This club have got a player who’s surplus to requirements so it’s lose, lose, lose all round. But we’re still working on it. I think what actually happens is we’ve got to get deeper into August. Players who want to move, find their agents aren’t delivering the golden goose that they promised and the agents become more realistic because it’s better half a cake than nothing and clubs who want to move on their surplus players, lower their sights in contribution to wages if they are a Premiership club or transfer fees if they are a Football League club. One of the problems that we have is that the gulf now between Premiership wages and Championship wages is so great that you can only take a Premiership player on loan if you can have their wages heavily subsidised by the loaning club. There’s one player that we were after, I was amazed to find out his wages are £22,000 a week. When you put the 14 per cent national health tax on, that puts it up to nearly £25,000 a week. Well we can’t afford it. The thing is, of course, that Premier League clubs get £40million a year from central distributions. Championship clubs get £4m a year so there’s a hell of a gap to bridge. And of course most of it, as Alan Sugar says, is prune juice – it just goes straight out in players’ wages. So the result is the gulf between Premiership wages and Football League wages is just horrendous. So the only way you can sign a Premiership player, which is the ones we prefer to do, is go to the Premiership club who are loaning players out and heavily subsidise their wages. And there is a limit to what some of them can do. For example, yes, we were interested in Alan Smith. Yes, Alan Smith, for what it was worth, was prepared to consider coming to us. He’s on £3m a year and Newcastle wanted a £1m-a-year contribution. Well, as I said before, that’s £1m plus government tax equals £1.15m so we can’t afford it. Simple as that. And the result is of course that Newcastle have got a player they don’t particularly want and they’ve got nothing. That is the problem we’re having to tackle but we’ve done well in the past. I know that some fans say why do we bother with loan players, well the fact of the matter is that Norwich, QPR and Swansea all got promoted and all had at least five loan players in their squad last year and did lots worse than Cardiff so it’s not necessarily a bad thing to have loan players. I actually thing the rules are bad. I think that loan players should be abolished because I don’t think it’s fair in the Championship because some clubs can afford Premiership-subsidised wages and some can’t. But if the rules are there, let’s use it. So Simon, Gwyn and Mervyn Day, our chief scout, they’re still looking for players and they know what they want. As I keep saying, there’s no point in signing players just for the sake of bringing a name in. We have to bring somebody in who adds to the squad and that’s what we’re working on.

BF: Next up Boro and Hull in the Championship. Two games very close together but a chance to get some points on the board. Are you pleased there’s two games at home now?

KB: Well yes, the only thing is it’s not really fair on the fans is it? We ask them to buy two tickets in four days then there’s no home game for three weeks. I don’t think it’s fair. The fixture organisation is poor and I have said so for some seasons now and I’ll also keep saying after the war there’s a father and son in Darwin, Lancashire and they used to do the Football League fixtures with a pencil, rubber and a notebook and they got it home-away-home-away-home-away. That’s what we should be doing. But there you are. They seem to know so much better than us so we have to get on with it. So I’m sorry for the pressure on the fans pockets. But as you say, three points keeps us three points behind the leaders. It’s early days yet. You have to remember that Norwich were nowhere to be seen at Christmas they only came through in the second half. We’re not planning to leave it that long.

BF: You mention the pressure on the fans’ pockets but they have been buying tickets in numbers. What are the figures looking like for the games on Saturday and Tuesday?

KB: Well Saturday, we’re looking at 26-27,000. Traditionally the midweek games are lower but I think we’re looking at somewhere between 20-22,000 probably which is below budget but that’s partly compensated by the fact we’ll be above budget for the Middlesbrough game. We’ve sold another box which we’ve now hit our target out of the super boxes in the East Stand. We’ve now got nine for the season which the cynics may say ‘why only nine out of 20?’. The answer is of course,  we’re selling boxes on a product which isn’t completed yet. Therefore, you find it difficult to find people who can envisage what they are going to get. The work is coming on so well that we can take people on tours for an inspection. So that’s that. The away season tickets are good. Programme subscriptions are good. Fans like the new format of the new programme. And fans memberships of course are nearly 32,000 now. So from that point of view we’re looking good. All we need to do now is get the team on the pitch to reflect the efforts of the team off the pitch.

Weds 10/08/11 Taken from The Square Ball. Five reasons to Love Ken Bates. Absolutely brilliant !

05 – I will buy back Elland Road

One of the first promises Ken Bates made in 2005 was that he’d repurchase Elland Road to ensure the long-term future of our club. After all, without any assets all you really own is a pretty looking badge and a few sheets of paper that say a few players will run around for 90 minutes on a Saturday afternoon wearing whatever illuminous sponsor-heavy shirt you put them in. Some fans would argue Bates already owns Elland Road – I mean, why else would you spend £7m on the East Stand and millions more on bars and the “best conference facilities from Newcastle to Manchester?” As I’ve said many times before, you wouldn’t bolt a conservatory onto a council house.. Maybe Ken Bates would?

#04 – The Fabian Delph money will go towards the repurchase of our training facilities

When it quickly became apparent that Leeds United could not keep hold of youth sensation Fabian Delph, The Whites fans reasoned that his sale was for the good of our future – that if it would secure the repurchase of our training facilities as Ken Bates claimed, Fabian Delph wouldn’t be the last Academy sensation to grace the hallowed truth of Elland Road, and that, in this instance, the Chairman’s long-term thinking was not only justified, but also in the best interests of Leeds United Football Club. Imagine our confusion then when, despite the Fabian Delph money and additional funds from the compensation received on other youth players, Leeds United had to go cap-in-hand to the council to try and secure an 11th hour deal. The council had issues with the lack of transparency at the club and decided against the bail-out, meaning Leeds United would continue to pay extortionate sums of money so the players had somewhere to train. More ridiculous still was that only a few months after the failed repurchase, Ken Bates decided our training facilities had fallen into a state of disrepair and that Leeds United would be better off starting afresh elsewhere. “I didn’t want to play anyway, I’m taking my ball home…”

#03 – I don’t know who owns Leeds United (It’s not me, honest)

Following our second administration, Leeds United were repurchased by a mysterious offshore trust whose owners wished to remain anonymous. Ken Bates remained on as Chairman of course, because these new owners had seen what a stand-up job he’d done so far in getting Leeds United relegated to the third division for the first time in their history and putting them into administration – I mean, who wouldn’t want that kind of prudent leadership? Many fans speculated that Ken Bates had in fact repurchased the club himself but was unable to admit it because this would make the repurchase of Leeds United F.C following administration slightly illegal. Ken Bates denied these claims, stating that he didn’t know who owned Leeds United and it most certainly wasn’t him! This was a vague, yet consistent statement from the Leeds United Chairman right up until the point he appeared in a Jersey court and told the judge he did in fact own shares in the club – something he later retracted. Understandable really, we all forget whether we own multi-million pound businesses from time-to-time, right? Somehow, despite not knowing who the owners of Leeds United were, in the summer of 2011 Ken Bates managed to purchase the club from them. We don’t know the exact details, but in my mind, the Leeds United chairman had a secret “bat phone” to contact these illusive owners. When he said he wanted to buy the club he was instructed to deposit a briefcase full of cash in a busy public park somewhere in the Cayman Islands. Looking as inconspicuous as humanly possible when you’re Santa Claus’ living double, Ken Bates donned a hat, sunglasses and long, sandy-coloured overcoat to make the drop. Sure enough, a few days later these mysterious and not-at-all-dodgy owners, mailed him the papers stating he now owned Leeds United. A gentleman’s way to conduct business in the 21st Century if ever I heard it. Of course, the alternative view is that he simply drew up some papers switching the ownership from the offshore trusts (him) to… well… him. Damn conspiracy theorists ruining my 1950′s spy-montage.

#02 – The mysterious transfer war chest

£150,000 spent on a goalkeeper, whilst £1,5m was received in transfer fees and the Fabian Delph money miraculously turned up in the shape of some East Stand executive boxes. This appears to be the sum total of the transfer “warchest” Simon Grayson has to work with. Scared yet West Ham? Yeah, you should be…Not all hope is lost though, because Ken Bates says that we can attract a better quality of player to Elland Road because of our “competitive wage structure!” What do you mean Ipswich Town outbid us for Keith Andrews? Pass me the razor-blades!

#01 – “Without Ken Bates, there would be no Leeds United Football Club”

The sheer ridiculousness of this statement shouldn’t require me to add anything further, but it seems Ken Bates’ propaganda has been well and truly absorbed by many Leeds United fans. To those who still believe Ken Bates “saved Leeds United” let’s track back. When Ken Bates’ mysterious offshore backers bought us out the second time, there were several other bids on the table which all offered more money than Ken Bates’ and were the preferred choice of every creditor, except the one that somehow decided they’d prefer Ken Bates in charge of the club despite the fact they’d lose several million pounds on the deal. HMRC were quite upset by this, as was everyone else, so much so that a CVA couldn’t be agreed and Leeds started the following season on -15. Job done, Leeds United saved! As for the first buy-out, it’s quite possible Leeds were facing administration if Ken Bates didn’t come in and “save us.” The only problem with that one is that we ended up in administration anyway! Hardly my idea of salvation. Had Leeds gone into administration under Krasner, this would have given potential suitors the chance to purchase Leeds United, rid them of debt and invest wisely to get us straight back into the Premier League where they could sell for a huge profit. Instead, we got Bates and three years of League One football. Good times.

Tues Aug 9th. 2011. Leeds Utd 3-2 Bradford C CC . Team : Lonergan, Connolly (Lees 62) O’Brien (Bromby 62) Kisnorbo, Parker, Brown, Clayton, Sam, Howson, Nunez, McCormack (Taylor 90)Unused subs ; Rachubka, Thompson, Bruce. Simon Grayson will not sleep much easier tonight after a shaky 3-2 victory against League two minnows, Bradford City.  United were shocking in the first half, with only Adam Clayton deserving of any praise. O’Brien failed to cut out a Bradford cross from the byline and Parker was asleep as an alert Compton tapped in on 31 minutes. Earlier Nunez had missed a sitter as Grasyson continued with his 4-4-1 policy with an impotent McCormack as the point man. United came out more determined in the second half obviously with a Grayson flea in the ear, and Sam did well to set up Nunez to fire home on 46 minutes. The Honduran continually had to turn on to his right foot to get his shots away as he got more and more into the game. A Connolly and O’Brien mistake lead to Bradford’s second goal on 57 minutes . Flynn fired home but Lonergan should have done better. Leeds dug in and exerted more influence with Brown (who was poor in the first half and off the pace) and Clayton taking control of the midfield. Grayson bit the bullet on 62 minutes by withdrawing two of United’s poorest defenders, O’Brien and Connolly. Surprisingly he didn’t turn to Bruce at full back. Instead he turned to 20 year old Tom Lees to play right back and Bromby came in, looking more assured along side Kisnorbo. Lees put in a super cross for McCormack to score with a close range header on 69 minutes. Seven minutes later the little Honduran, Nunez bundled the winner across the line. Leeds were never under any real pressure after that, as Bradford tired and Leeds comfortably held on to the ball. United have M’bro and Hull City at home in the next seven days and  Simon Grayson will be worried that his unsettled defence from last season has already conceded 5 goals against two teams that played League One football last year. Even more worrying is the fact that without Becchio and Somma’s super sub cameo role, Leeds look limp and inaffective moving forward. Grayson : “We knew that we were going to be in for a tough game tonight. I thought that we played okay in patches but we’ve give them too many opportunities and got punished for it. Some great goals by them, we showed a lot of character to comeback after being 2-1 down again but we know we’ve got to do a lot better. A great game to watch I suppose but not so best on the touchline for us two. It’s obviously the second game of the season, you want to win your first game as quickly as possible and we’ve done that tonight. Got home two games coming up now against Middlesbrough and Hull, got players coming back from international duty because obviously we were stretched short tonight but it will give the players a lot of belief and confidence that we can now we can go into the weekend in a better frame of mind than we were from last Saturday.”

Tues Aug 9th 2011. The Daily Mirror reports that Leeds United are set to make their second signing from Aston Villa this year in the form of Australian Chris Herd, according to The Mirror. After signing Barry Bannan last season, Simon Grayson is looking for at Villa, with whom he was linked with earlier this summer, as another source to help bolster his squad. Leeds lost their opening game of the season and are eager to add to their squad, however due to Herd’s versatility, Villa boss Alex McLeish could be unwilling to let him go.

Tue Aug 9th. Bates bans the BBC. Leeds United Football Club has followed Rangers manager Ally McCoist in banning the access of BBC journalists. The football club has stopped the access of BBC journalists in protest at the media corporation’s current affairs series Inside Out is producing a documentary investigating the club’s ownership. BBC’s in-house magazine Ariel, said that BBC Radio Leeds reporters were refused access to a press conference at the club last week, and that it will not allow the company to cover press conferences or interview team members until further notice, unless they were legally bound to do so. A BBC spokesperson told PressGazette: “We have been informed by Leeds Utd FC that there will be no co-operation with the BBC outside the existing contractual agreements. “We would like to reassure listeners that BBC Radio Leeds will continue to broadcast Leeds United match reports, there will be some commentary on Five Live, and goals will be shown on the BBC Football League Show.” It has been reported that talks between the club and BBC representatives will take place tomorrow.

Mon Aug 8th. Becchio back training. Leeds United boss Simon Grayson is not going to rush back Luciano Becchio into the squad after the Argentinian returned to light training. Becchio has been missing since April with a hamstring injury. Last seasons top goalscorer returned for pre season training but suffered a reoccurrence of the injury that required surgery. Leeds boss Simon Grayson only has strikers Billy Paynter and Ross McCormack currently at his disposal, after fellow striker Davide Somma was ruled out for most of the season with a cruciate knee ligament injury that he suffered during pre season. McCormack and Paynter have scored just three competitive goals between them since signing for the club in the summer of 2010 but Grayson he is not willing to rush back Becchio until he is fully fit. Speaking on Yorkshire Radio, Grayson said, “I am not going to put a timescale on it but he`s back doing some running with the physio, so we will just wait and see. I don`t want to rush him because he could then be out for longer than expected but he`s making progress and we will continue to monitor him.” Paynter and McCormack drew another blank between them in the opening day 3-1 defeat at Southampton.

Aug 7th. Larry on United at Saints : “It was a shock to the system considering how well we played six days before against Newcastle, when we had energy, passion, desire. We had none of that. “Too many players went out to do their own thing and not what we told them and that’s where we’ve come unstuck. “There has been nothing wrong in training, we knew Southampton would pass through midfield and people didn’t do what we asked them to do. “That’s extremely disappointing and if they don’t do it, the team will suffer. Southampton looked far better than us.” 

Mon Aug 8th. The new Leeds trialists from The Scratching Shed. Anyone hoping that yesterday’s woeful performance against Southampton would be the tipping point which sparked a late spending spree is in for more disappointment.  Instead, Leeds United appear to be sticking to unattached players and loanees.  Felix Luz, Dennis Grote and Ibrahim Mararoufi are three unattached players who all featured in yesterday’s friendly against Farsley Celtic. In fairness, the combination of trialists and reserve/youth players faired an awful lot better than The Whites did in Southampton, with Felix Luz netting a hattrick in the 4-0 victory. Of course, netting a hattrick against Farsley Celtic doesn’t mean he’s going to be any good in the Championship, but I imagine he’ll do a lot better than Billy Paynter! Midfielder Ibrahim Mararoufi’s claim to fame is that he was the second youngest person to ever appear for Inter Milan. He played about 10 minutes of a Serie A match against Livorno and made five appearances for the Italian giants in the Coppa Italia. Since then, his career has been a slightly confusing one with the midfielder signing for clubs all over the world and leaving soon after. The third trialist, Dennis Grote is a German left winger/midfielder who has spent almost his entire career so far playing for VfL Bochum. He has also made 14 appearances for the German U21 side and was part of the team that won the 2009 Championship beating England 4-0 in the final. Alongside the three above who were confirmed by the Offical Site, it’s rumoured that Leeds United also have Senagese left-back Boukary Dramé on loan. 26-year-old Dramé has previously played for Paris St German and FC Sochaux and was linked with both Newcastle United and Nottingham Forest earlier in the summer. And finally, it’s also rumoured that Leeds United are hoping to bring Chelsea’s Ryan Bertrand in on a season-long loan. The left-back has had previous loan spells at Norwich City, Nottingham Forest and Reading and played at every youth level from the U17′s to the U21′s for his country. At just 22-years-old, Ryan is an extremely experienced defender who has amassed well over 150 professional appearances. This one does seem unlikely however given Ken Bates’ relationship with the club.

Mon Aug 8th 2011. Taken from “The Sabotage Times : The fans are revolting, the manager is underfunded and the chairman’s building a hotel. Why Leeds United are getting left behind. Getting a room is murder at the Ken Bates Motel. This just in: Situation Report from the Leeds City Tourism Football Interface. There are over fifty hotels in Leeds but no fit centre forward with a year-in year-out goal scoring pedigree for Leeds United to start their first game of the season with. There are a number of critically acclaimed hotels in Leeds but no left back actually employed full time by Leeds United considered fit enough or good enough to start the new season. Instead the club borrowed a reserve centre back from Celtic to fill the role. Summary: For a club who take millions of pounds in revenue a month this is a pretty disorganised state of affairs. What it represents is the refusal of the owner to invest in a playing squad with the sort of ambition the fans, manager and star players expect. They are the people who fund the club, the person who has to direct the team and the players who are expected to go out and compete. If you don’t have all of them onside you can wave bye bye to promotion. Comment: But then this is just a fan’s eye view. To want a decent fit striker or a full time left back is apparently a naïve perspective when there’s a hotel to be built to make the football ground itself a property capable of generating revenue on a daily basis rather than once a week or a fortnight. If Leeds didn’t have any hotels you could see the point of view but over the last fifteen years the city has exploded on the hospitality front. Its river and canal side developments are a commercial traveler magnet. There are thousands and thousands of hotel rooms in Leeds. No-one in their right mind has wandered through the city and said ‘F*** I wish they’d build some more hotels or apartments’ to be answered ‘Yep, they’ve not knocked up a hotel in months, whatsup withem?’ Then again maybe the Leeds United owner has a point. What’s the point in actually trying to get into the Premiership where you can make millions from television revenues, increased gates and sponsorship deals when you can be a grumpy big fish in a lower division? Especially when you can list 342 trouser presses and little kettles on your assets list?  The apparent lack of desire to reach the Premiership, as reflected in the refusal to bring in the sort of quality players being recruited by Nottingham Forest, Cardiff, Ipswich, Leicester and West Ham, is bizarre. Maybe Ken Bates doesn’t want to paddle in waters where he will be nothing more than a millionaire minnow amongst billionaires. Early on in his stewardship of Leeds United Bates gave his first manager the sort of squad that should have been promoted. Most of the players Kevin Blackwell recruited could probably still improve our playing squad today. Many of them have since been involved in promotions from this division and played in the Premiership. Right now Hulse, Derry, Blake and Pugh would all step straight into our first team. This couldn’t have been more evident than today, seeing Southampton beat Leeds with two full backs who have been released by Leeds during Bates’ rule.  In his media relations Bates has so far banned the BBC and The Guardian for prying into the ownership issue but after today’s match you can’t help thinking they’re the lucky ones. That little old lady who was banned for going on the pitch last season is probably looking forward to more relaxed Saturdays this year. For a club with financial muscle, a massive fan base, a manager with two promotions under his belt and an owner who has been in football a long time this should be the start of an optimistic season but the word on the street, the sound of the crowd, the screech on the tweets is ominously negative. The general perspective amongst supporters is the owner runs the club to suit himself and f*** the fans, the manager and the players. Quality players like Fabian Delph and Jermaine Beckford have been let go, others who have been coached and improved by the Leeds staff have walked out after having their contracts run down. This is a style of asset management most observers see as bewildering and short term-ist. Had Leeds United offered Jermaine Beckford a suitably attractive contract two years before he left the club, ie: a year before he entered his final season, he could well have done for the Yorkshire side what Grant Holt did for Norwich as he fired the Canaries into consecutive promotions. As it is the manager, Simon Grayson, seems to have to sell either Robert Snodgrass or Max Gradel if he wants the funds to bring in a player who would massively improve the team. For a club this size it is again, unusual, to start a season visibly weaker than it ended the previous one. It’s a strange state of affairs and one that is hugely frustrating for the fans who follow the team wherever they go. Essentially this seems to be a battle between those that follow their club with passion and an owner who is rapidly making Scrooge look like Bill Gates. This year in the Championship there are teams with impressive new squads (Ipswich, West Ham, Leicester),  teams with new managers of a proven quality (Nottingham Forest, Ipswich, Leicester), teams with parachute payments and rich owners (Blackpool and West Ham), teams that were improving as last season finished (Burnley, Hull, Boro) and clubs who have been promoted with ambition (Southampton and Brighton). Nowhere is there a competitive genre called Teams With Late Booking Deals and Little Plastic Baskets With Two Biscuits And A Hotdrink Sachet In Them. Whenever anyone who supports, works for, runs or owns Chelsea mentions the success the club has enjoyed in the last decade not one of them mentions the f****** hotel. When I go down to Stamford Bridge six times a year to have a weekday client meeting, we don’t meet in the hotel, we sit in an executive box. No-one ever says, shall we go and have a drink in the hotel? In all the time the Chelsea hotel has been operating I have never known of anyone who has stayed there. It isn’t an important part of Chelsea Football Club. Why does Ken Bates think the Leeds United Hotel will be an important part of Leeds United Football Club. We want clean sheets on matchday not on checking in. Leeds United are a football club, they are not a hospitality franchise. If Bates doesn’t support Grayson with new funding and buy him a decent striker who can score 20 plus goals year in year out in this division, a decent centre half, and make one of them experienced enough to lead a promotion charge as West Ham have with Nolan and Ipswich have with Chopra then this year will be one of infighting and carnage at Elland Road. There was a time when the Leeds bootboys would chant to visiting fans ‘You’re going to get your f****** heads kicked in!’ Obviously not the best news if you’d just shown up with the opposition to watch the game but a damn site more traditional than ‘You’re going to get your f****** beds turned down.’

Sat August 6th 2011. Soton 3-1 Leeds United. 01 Lonergan yellow card , 02 Connolly, 03 Kisnorbo , 05 O’Brien , 48 O’Dea 07 Gradel yellow card , 08 Brown yellow card (Paynter 53) 14 Howson 15 Clayton yellow card , 23 Snodgrass (Sam 73) 44 McCormack (Nunez 62) Unused Substitutes : 12 Rachubka, 26 Bromby, 11 Sam.  Just like watching a car crash, United’s inept performance away to Southampton last evening portrayed what we all knew. The side is actually weaker than last season with absolutely no investment what so ever. The Saints cut through United like a knife through butter as the same old problems reared their heads – weak defence and nobody able to or willing to track runners from midfield.  O’Brien and Connolly were absolutely abysmal, and up front McCormack on his won contributed nothing. Gradel looked frustrated the whole game and Snodgrasses’s contribution was nil. The game was over at 3-0 and Billy “One goal” Paynter continued on from last season when he fired a blank when clean through . This season will be long and hard unless that mean Bastard Ken Bates puts some of the funds he received from Delph, Garbutt and Schmeichel back into the side. Grayson is a fool if he thinks that £200K will get Leeds promoted. Schemichel must be wetting himself laughing as he progressed and Leeds regressed. The same can be said for the two full backs playing with Saints yesterday who Leeds released. Are you really trying to tell me that Connolly is better than Frazer Richardson ?

Weds Aug 3rd – Sky Sports has reported that Leeds have agreed a year long loan deal for Irish international, Darren O’Dea which was later confirmed by LUFC. Darren O’Dea (born 4 February 1987 in Dublin, Republic of Ireland) is an Irish footballer who currently plays as a centre back for English Npower Championship club Leeds United after joining on a loan deal from Celtic. O’Dea has represented his country at Under-21 level on nine occasions and made nine appearances for the senior side. O’Dea started playing for Home Farm before being signed by Celtic as a teenager. After making his way through the reserves and academy side, he made his first team debut for Celtic in the Scottish League Cup against St. Mirren in September 2006.[1] He made his first League appearance two months later as a substitute against Inverness Caledonian Thistle. He made his first league starting appearance against Dunfermline Athletic in December 2006, just four days after making his Champions League debut against Copenhagen as a substitute, replacing the injured Stephen McManus.[2]He scored his first goal for Celtic against Dundee United on 26 December 2006.[3] He followed that with a goal on 2 January 2007, against Kilmarnock.[4]O’Dea played an important role for Celtic in the 2006–07 season. He played more than 10 games and received an SPL winner’s medal. His most notable performance was in the UEFA Champions League Last 16 tie against AC Milan in the San Siro. Celtic held Milan before Kaká scored an extra time goal for Milan. After the game, Paolo Maldini praised the young central defender’s performance.[5] He impressed manager Gordon Strachan enough to be awarded a new three-year contract, with the option of a further year on 13 March 2007.[6]On 15 March 2009, O’Dea scored in the Scottish League Cup Final victory over Old Firm rivals Rangers with a header 90 seconds into extra time before Aiden McGeady‘s last minute penalty made it a 2–0 win.[7][8]O’Dea returned to Celtic from a loan period with Reading in January 2010 and was restored to the starting line-up, starting all five games that month. He was appointed as stand-in captain after Stephen McManus went on loan to Middlesbrough and Gary Caldwell left for Wigan.[9]On 1 September 2009, O’Dea joined Championship side Reading on loan until 1 January 2010 after being signed by Brendan Rodgers, but not before signing a three-year contract extension with Celtic.[10][11] He made his debut for the Royals on 12 September in a home draw against Doncaster Rovers. O’Dea revealed he had settled in well at Reading.[12] However, he soon found himself on the bench as Reading fought a relegation battle. However O’Dea returned to Celtic in the January transfer window after his loan spell expired and regained his place in the Celtic side under Tony Mowbray then Neil Lennon.[13]On 17 August 2010, O’Dea joined Championship side Ipswich Town on a five-month loan deal after he was signed by manager Roy Keane.[13] After the sacking of Keane, O’Dea was left wondering if his loan would be renewed under the new manager.[14] The deal was later extended to the end of the season under new manager Paul Jewell.[15] O’Dea put in a man of the match performance in Ipswich’s win against Premier League side Arsenal in the league cup.[16] After talk of a permanent move to Ipswich Town, O’Dea revealed that he wanted to return to Celtic as he was determined to make an impact at the club.[17] He revealed after his loan spell ended he wanted to be part of Celtic’s starting 11 or he would be looking to move on if regular football wasn’t guaranteed.[18] [19] O’Dea confirmed he wanted regular football at Celtic to earn a regular place in the Ireland national side.[20] 1 August O’Dea revealed that his future lies away from Celtic after failing to earn a place in the first 11 during the start of the 2011/12 Scottish Season.[21] Manager Neil Lennon revealed he felt the loan move to Leeds United was a good move for O’Dea to get regular football.[22]On 4 August, O’Dea officially joined Championship club Leeds United on a season long loan.[23] O’Dea was given his customary number 48 shirt for the forthcoming season.[24] He revealed upon signing for the club that he had had a trial at Leeds as a 13 year old.[25] On the opening day of the season O’Dea made his debut for Leeds in the 3-1 defeat against Southampton playing at left back.[26] O’Dea would miss the League Cup game against Bradford City due to his call up for the Republic of Ireland squad who play on the same day.[27]O’Dea played for the Irish U19 and U21 teams. He was called up to the full international squad within 12 months.[28]He was called up to the Irish under 21 international squad by manager Don Givens on 3 March 2007[29] and served as team captain. However less than a week later he was named in the full international squad for Ireland’s UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying matches on 24 March and 28 March.[30][31]On 13 May 2008, O’Dea was called into Giovanni Trapattoni‘s first squad as Ireland manager and he has since been called into the squad for the Bulgaria and Italy matches.[32] On 8 September 2009, he made his debut for the senior side in the 1–0 win against South Africa in a friendly match after coming on as a substitute for Paul McShane in the second half. He earned a recall to the squad for friendlies against Paraguay and Algeria at the end of May. During the Algeria match, he made his second appearance when he came on as an early substitute for the injured John O’Shea and helped keep a clean sheet in a 3–0 win.[33]

Update from Portugal –  Weds Aug 3rd. Change in tact re Leeds transfer policy. As the days go by and the pre-season comes to a close with a new campaign only days from commencing, there appears to be another shift in the  policy of spin at Elland Road, with Simon Grayson as ever dancing to the tune of Papa Smurf, Kenneth Bates. Leeds are alleged to be spending circa £7Million on their “East Stand project”. What for you may ask ? Is Bates buiding up the fixed assets for a more profitable sale for himself ? Let’s be honest here. It’s highly improbable that he doesn’t own Throp Arch and Elland Road by now. Rumours circulate consistently that he has to repay creditors should Leeds return to the Premiership by a certain date. Personally I don’t believe that Bates would not want to return to the Premiership at the earliest possible opportunity. The rewards are just to high, and in real terms for a club the size of Leeds United it would be worth circa £100Million to Leeds United. From Simon Grayson’s interview with the Yorkshire Post at Thorp Arch yesterday, Leeds are diverting attention to the turning down of £2.5M from West Ham for Max Gradel and £3.5M for Robert Snodgrass. “Sometimes it is not necessarily the ones you are trying to bring in that are important but the ones you are trying to keep”. The implication here being that Leeds refusal to spend somehow defends the club’s lack of spending in the transfer market. This is completely wrong. United have yet to even offer Max Gradel improved terms on his existing contract which runs out in May 2012 and allows him to talk with other clubs from January 1st. Let’s Look at Leeds’ spending so far this Summer, which moreover is the lowest of any Championship club. Rachubka and Brown arrived on frees and Lonergan arrived for at most £200K. United’s undisclosed transfer policay is like a wall of mirrors. We’ll assume Schmiechel’s wages cancelled out Lonegan, circa £12K per week. Rachubka was probably on similar money to Higgs who was released, with Michael  Brown probably on £14K per week maximum. Kilkenny and Johnson’s wages combined would more than cover Brown’s arrival. Richard Naylor was probably on £10K per week and we’ll assume that Lichaj and Sanchez Watt (Premiership clubs) were also each costing Leeds £10K per week. All of a sudden that’s a saving of £1.5M less on wages for Leeds. Schmeichel was sold for circa £1.2M. That’s another £1M of a saving when you consider £200K was spent to replace him. All of a sudden Leeds have saved at least £2.5M and that’s not including wages spent on other loan players like McCartney, Livermore and Bannan amongst others. We’ll assume that before a ball was kicked, that Grayson had a transfer kitty of minimum £1M excluding wages. That has become a minimum of £3.5M even when you consider that Nunez, Grella, Whyte and Kisnorbo (on improved terms) remain. It’s easy to see why fans are restless and the ticket office at Elland Road is not exactly doing a roaring trade on season tickets. Throw in the players we failed to sign who were “close to coming” : Bowyer, Stockdale, and  Andrews (three of the ones that we definitely know about) and you would  want the heart of a lion to be a Leeds fan  just now. In fact the Whites could easily put Gradel on a three year contract on say £15k per week (assuming he is on £8K per week now) and that would only cost circa £350K extra which is more than covered in the existing “budget”. Throw in an incentive if promoted and it would cover all bases.  Grayson’s  latest pearl is as follows : “I am hopeful we may be able to get something done . But I have said that a few time already this Summer”. Yes you have Simon, and you are a foolish man if you believe   that you will hold on to your job if the Whites have a bad start. Injuries to Somma and Becchio and “missing out” in players who for all intents in purposes rejected Leeds won’t wash with the fans. But more importantly, Bates will drop you like a stone.

Tues Aug 2nd. Gazumped by Tractor Boys again.…I hate being negative, but is Ken Bates taking the piss or what. First we lost Bowyer to Ipswich because he “wanted to live closer to London”. Fair enough these things can happen. Then we lost a homesick Stockdale to Ipswich inspite of him wanting to come home to Leeds. Now we learn that Ireland international, Keith Andrews is to snub Leeds for Ipswich. This is either because he is getting better money at Ipswich or he thinks they are a better bet for promotion, or maybe both !

Sun July 31st 2011 Leeds win over Magpies papers over the cracks. Leeds United defeated Newcastle 3-2 in their final warm up game before taking on Southampton next Saturday. I am pleased that Paynter scored to boost his confidence but ……There is a cancer sucking the life out of Leeds United and it’s called KEN BATES. You can fool some of the people some of the time but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. What type of gombeens does that ancient Smurf take us for ? Schmeichel was to be replaced by a “better goalkeeper”. What happened next was inept and shambolic as Leeds were linked with every goalkeepr south of the Ecuator. There is no doubting that David Stockdale of Fulham was the number one choice. Leeds had everything in their favour. The lad was from Leeds. His wife was from Leeds and desperately home sick for Yorkshire. This was one that they couldn’t f##k up. Guess what. They did. The lad signed on loan with Ipswich for a year. That’s the same town that is just one hour from London (not home sick Leeds) that now has Lee Bowyer and David Stockdale playing for it. Absolutely shambolic. Ipswich have shown something that Leeds haven’t portrayed since that dinasour Bates got involved with the club. It’s called ambition. Micheal Choppra saw it, and Bowyer and Stockdale among others saw it too. Now back to goalkeepers for a minute. Westwood, Smithies, Dudek and Lonergan were all linked. Leeds failed initially to land Lonergan because he was on a better wage at a League One side than a promotion chasing Leeds United side. They eventually had to back track and yield to Lonergan’s “excessive by Leeds standards” wage demands. United were £1.2M in the black from the Schmichel deal plus his wages of approximately £12K to £14K per week. Would this money be used to land Sammy Clingan of Coventry City or maybe long term target and Leeds fan Michael Johnson ? The latter is no fool and chose Leicester City ahead of Leeds United because he saw that his former boss was chasing automatic promotion. Leeds with Brown, Rachubka, and Lonergan signed thus far were hardly going to scare the shit out of Ladbrokes. The bookies have actually sent Leeds out to 18/1, that’s higher than Brighton and Southampton, two sides just promoted from League One. Bates claimed that “three of our targets signed for Premiership sides showing the calibre of player we are looking for”. Stockdale and Johnson didn’t Papa Smurf. They chose Championship sides. Simon Grayson is far from innocent in all of this as he toes the party line and dances to every Bates tune. The bile is rising in every Leeds fan’s stomach. Even Kevin Blackwell who hadn’t a bean to play with when United were relegated from the Premiership, attracted some decent players and got them in quickly. We are now just one week away from the start of the campaign and we are a far worse side that finished in 7th last season. Lichaj, Schmeichel, Kilkenny, Higgs and Johnson have been replaced with Brown,Rrachubka and Lonergan. Our performances in pre-season  have been what we would have expected from a club going backwards….very poor. Two out of our top three strikers, Becchio and Somma are sidelined through injury. Our two best players Snodgrass and Gradel are linked every day to moves away from Elland Road. Could you really blame either of them if they decided to jump ship ? Grayson is no fool but he is either in denial or is conifdent of getting two world beaters in midfield, from Bates’ latest tirade.Alan  Smith was linked but Leeds were never going to pay even a portion of his wages because Leeds lack ambition. Montgomery or Quinn, both from Sheff United  may or may not come to Leeds but are they any better than we already have ? Grayson will blame the excuse of injuries if United don’t get off to a good start. He has no right if he does. I have never been as disgusted with the way the club is being run as I am now. Would it be better for Leeds if Newcastle were to put a few past United tomorrow ? Like I said at the beginning, there is a cancer sucking the life out of Leeds United and it’s called KEN BATES.