Mon Jan 31st. In and Outs on deadline day. Lets’s look at the outs first. Young Will Hatfield joined York City on loan. 32 year old Jason Crowe who had his best game for Leeds United at Old Trafford last season had his contract terminated by mutual consent, and promptly joined Leyton Orient. Freddi Bessone joined Charlton Athletic on loan for the rest of the season with a view to a permanent move. Bessone was our worst left back since Dylan Kerr. good luck and good riddance. 21 year old Tom Elliot was never ever going to make is a top class striker. Leeds have released him and it looks like he will team up with Hamilton Accies in Scotland. Alan Martin the 22 year old under 21 Scotland keeper also had his contract terminated. When you think that Andrew Hughes has also left the club, you could be wondering if there was only an exit door at Leeds. The shock to many may have been the departure of Neil Collins for an undisclosed sum to Sheffield United. The centre half started 20 matches for Leeds this season. Simon Grayson said: “We had an offer from Sheffield United which we felt was good for the club. “We gave the Neill that option, and although he’s disappointed to be leaving, he has taken it. He hasn’t been in the team and he wants to play football. “Opportunities have been limited for Neill, we’ve got other players who are in there and this may give him the chance to play regular football. “He goes with all our best wishes and thanks for what he did at the end of last season and what he has done so far this season.” If you are still counting that’s seven out so far. United  bolstered their goalkeeping options after signing Manchester City’s David Gonzalez on loan. The 28-year-old Colombian will spend the remainder of the Championship season with the promotion hopefuls. Leeds manager Simon Grayson was looking to boost his numbers after the remainder of youngster Alan Martin’s contract was cancelled. Gonzalez linked up with City in December 2009, but has found chances at Eastlands hard to come by during his time in Manchester. The former Huracan keeper, who has one cap for his country, was unavailable when Shay Given was on the sidelines at the end of last season. Gonzalez could go straight into Leeds’ squad to face Hull at the KC Stadium on Tuesday, although Kasper Schmeichel remains the club’s number one. Grayson said: “David’s played for the international team. “He’s someone we’ve watched a few times and we feel he’s a player who can push Kasper (Schmeichel) and Shane (Higgs). “We’re delighted Man City have let him come and delighted to have that extra competition.” At time of writing, Blackpool’s 29 year old midlielder, Keith Southern was said to be at Thor Arch Arch to complete a medical and sign on loan for the balance of the season. The player played in almost every one of Blackpool’s promotion matches last season. Just one comment for all Scousers. Unfortunately the transfer didn’t go through. If Liverpool pay £35million for Andy Carroll they are getting a player outscored in the Championship last season by Peter Whittingham, Nicky Maynard, Gary Hooper, Michael Chopra and Charlie Adam. So if he is worth £35 million then chelsea will be getting a ridiculous bargain with Torres only costing 50million. It’s a mad world.

Sat Jan 29th. Leeds are now on live on Sky vs Swansea @ 12:45 on Feb 26th and on BBC vs Notts Forest on Saturday, April 2nd.

Tues 25th of January. Good luck Hughesy your work here is done. Andrew Hughes has paid a heartfelt tribute to Leeds United supporters – and insists his time at Elland Road saved his footballing career. The hugely-popular utility man left the club at the end of last week to join Championship strugglers Scunthorpe United on a free transfer, penning an 18-month contract with the Iron. It brought an end to a memorable three-and-a-half year stint with United, which the 33-year-old, pictured left, says he will never, ever forget. Hughes, who was the first player to join the Whites following their 15-point deduction for not following rules on clubs entering administration ahead of the 2007-08 campaign, told the YEP: “It’s as simple as this. It’s been the biggest honour of my footballing and working life to play for this club. I genuinely mean that. “It’s one of the best places to live and work and was a genuine honour to play in front of those fans and wear the white shirt of Leeds United. “I can’t thank the fans enough. I know it sounds like a cliche in a way, but Leeds United saved my football career and gave me life again. “It was an unbelievable time.” Hughes admits he has left United with a heavy heart, although he is at pains to point that he has no axe to grind with boss Simon Grayson, a person and a manager he can’t speak highly enough of. And he is confident Grayson and United can finish off the job this season and return Leeds to the Premiership Promised Land they vacated so unceremoniously in May 2004, with the Whites boss the man to bring back the glory years to the club. Hughes added: “It was always going to be a sad day leaving Leeds United. It’s one of the best clubs in the world. “I was privileged enough to captain them and play for them. It was always going to be a sad day leaving because wherever you go, people know Leeds United. “So I’m not happy at leaving Leeds. Any player that leaves Leeds United happy is not a true footballer in my eyes. “But I’ve been given an opportunity at Scunthorpe. They are a little bit of bother at the minute and I want to go in there and do well for them and fight for my first-team place. “But there’s no hard grudges in leaving. The manager was absolutely superb with me, I’ve got to say that.” On whether United have what it takes to achieve promotion, he said: “One hundred per cent. I don’t think there’s any better time than now to go for promotion – why not… “Leeds are in the top six, let’s back the manager and give him some money and get some top, top players in there.” While he has left United, Hughes insists he’d love to return to the club in another capacity at some point in the future once his playing career ends. He added: “If the club ever needs anything off me, I’ll be there. I’ve got my sports science degree and I’d love to come back one day and work for the club and support it.”

Sat Jan 22nd. Portsmouth 2-2  Leeds United 01 Schmeichel, 02 Connolly, 04 Bruce,26 Bromby, 29 McCartney, 07 Gradel, 14 Howson, 16 Johnson, 23 Snodgrass, 10 Becchio, 18 Watt (Somma 62) Unused Subs : 12 Higgs, 05 Collins, 19 Parker, 11 Sam, 09 Paynter, 44 McCormack. Att – 20,040. Super Sub Davide Somma scored (for the second match in a row) with his first touch to earn Leeds United a point at Portsmouth in a match twice halted by floodlight failure. Joel Ward fired Pompey ahead from Liam Lawrence’s cutback, before Luciano Becchio levelled from close range. John Utaka’s angled drive restored Pompey’s lead but Leeds equalised for a second time when Somma lashed home a minute after coming on. The game was then interrupted twice late on when the floodlights went off. Leeds were first to threaten when Max Gradel forced Portsmouth goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown to punch away his thumping 25-yard drive in the second minute. Portsmouth responded and almost took the lead two minutes later when Ibrahima Sonko met Lawrence’s corner with a firm header, only for the ball to rebound off the crossbar. Greg Halford twice went close with headers from two more Lawrence corners and both David Nugent and Utaka fired off target as the home side took control. Portsmouth deservedly made the breakthrough in the 26th minute when Lawrence weaved his way into the penalty area from the left and pulled the ball back for Ward, who crashed a right-footed shot inside the near post.  Leeds goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel then kept out Utaka’s shot from inside the penalty area with a flying save. The visitors hit back just after the break when Jonathan Howson’s free-kick ran along the six-yard box and Becchio pounced to turn the ball home for his 14th goal of the season. Portsmouth then regained the lead against the run of play when Nwankwo Kanu headed the ball into the area and Utaka arrowed a shot into the bottom corner. Leeds sent on Somma for Sanchez Watt straight after Utaka’s goal and a minute later he slammed home a fine goal for the visitors. Becchio darted into space on the left and moved the ball on quickly for Somma to fire into Ashdown’s bottom right-hand corner. At this stage there was only going to be one winner and Leeds poured forward.  The game was temporarily halted due to floodlight failure with quarter of an hour left, but resumed shortly after with Leeds finishing the stronger. Howson’s shot from the edge of the area was turned away at full stretch by Ashdown and Snodgrass pulled his effort wide in the closing stages. The floodlights failed again with five minutes remaining as Leeds were totally dominant and neither side could find a winner when play resumed for a second time. Simon Grayson will be concerned that Leeds didn’t turn up in the first half and gifted Pompey two goals from the centre of defence. The second half was dominated by Leeds and on another day would have won the match. Grayson said, ‘We certainly stepped up with our second half performance .There were a lot of good opportunities, a good tempo to the game and the performance we know we are capable of producing. ‘Portsmouth had the best of the first half and we had the best of the second half. Overall, it was probably an even and fair result. ‘We knew at half-time that we might be fortunate to still be in the game at 1-0. We knew we had to pass the ball a lot better and get our passing game and creativity going. The early goal gave us a real boost. We really upped the ante and the lights didn’t help us because we were in the ascendancy.’
Friday sat 22nd. Andrew Hughes has ended his long and eventful association with Leeds United by joining Scunthorpe United on an 18-month deal. Hughes finalised terms with Scunthorpe after passing a medical yesterday, concluding a three-and-a-half year career at Elland Road. The 33-year-old joined Leeds on a free transfer from Norwich City in
2007, accepting the move just hours after an appeal panel upheld United’s infamous 15-point deduction at the hands of the Football League. He featured in two play-off campaigns for the club and made 51 appearances last season as Leeds finally won promotion from League One at the third attempt. His opportunities in the Championship were more infrequent, however, and he took up Scunthorpe’s offer six months into the one-year deal he signed at Elland Road last summer. Hughes’ 18-month contract at Glanford Park has the option of an additional year, and his move to Lincolnshire has involved him in Scunthorpe’s anxious fight against relegation. Leeds manager Simon Grayson said: “He joined at what some would have considered a difficult time and he’s been a great servant to the club. I’d like to thank him for all his efforts and wish him the very best.” Hughes made his final appearance for Leeds as a substitute in the FA Cup third-round tie against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
The former Reading player was a versatile asset during his time at Elland Road, featuring on both sides of United’s defence and occasionally in his preferred position of central midfield, but he started only five league games this season. Meanwhile, Mike Grella’s half-season loan to Motherwell has collapsed due to a technicality in FIFA’s rules. The striker moved north from Leeds earlier this week but Motherwell were forced to cancel the deal by FIFA regulations stating that players can only play for two different clubs in any one season. Grella featured briefly for Leeds at the start of this term and also appeared for Carlisle United during a recent emergency loan at Brunton Park. Leeds will work next week to find Grella another loan in England, where emergency deals do not count towards the the number of sides a player has represented.

 Weds Jan 19th 2011. Leeds United 1-3 Arsenal FA Cup 3rd round Replay. Schmeichel, 02 Connolly, 04 Bruce, 19 Parker, 40 O’Brien(Bromby 66) 07 Gradel, 14 Howson, 16 Johnson, 09 Paynter (Somma 68) 18 Watt (Sam 79) 23 Snodgrass Unused Subs : 12 Higgs, 05 Collins, 44 McCormack. Att – 38,232. Leeds bowed out of the FA Cup with beaming pride as they went down 1-3 to the Gunners. A packed Elland Road roared on United throughout the match, scarves whirling and  voices booming. Leeds found it hard to match Arsenal’s intricate  inter passing game and superb movement off the ball. Within five minutes the sublime Nasri put the Gunners ahead. Thirty minutes later and United couldn’t complain that Sagna doubled that lead. United clawed their way back into the match with a piece of absolute magic. A 30 yard screamer from Bradley Johnson flew like a dart to the top corner. 1-2 and game on. The second half continued with Leeds on the back foot again. Somma, normally so prolific missed a decent chance to make it 2-2 with almost his first shot on 70 minutes after great work out wide by Max Gradel. The Gunners brought on Fabregas and Van Persie on 70 minutes and the latter headed home the goal that sealed the tie just five minutes later. Leeds fought on gamely but they will have bigger fish to fry on Saturday when they travel to Fratton Park . Frustration earned Howson, Johnson and Snodgrass yellow cards as Houdini couldn’t escape from the dubious 50/50 decisions that endlessly went the to the London side. Luciano Becchio was hugely missed by the Whites for his aerial prowess and sheer ability to hold the ball up, something that Paynter, for all his effort couldn’t quite match. Close on 100,00 watched this cup tie over two matches. Arsenal sent back 1,000 tickets that Leeds had no difficulty in selling. Gordan Strachan called it right at the end : “The Premiership will be a better competition for having Leeds United in it”. Maybe next season, Gordan just maybe !

Sat January 15th 2011. Leeds 4-0 Scunthorpe. 01 Schmeichel, 02 Connolly, 04 Bruce, 29 McCartney, 40 O’Brien, 07 Gradel, 14 Howson, 16 Johnson, 10 Becchio (Paynter 47) 18 Watt (Somma 80) 23 Snodgrass (McCormack 67) Unused Substitutes :  12 Higgs, 05 Collins, 19 Parker, 26 Bromby.Att 25,446. Leeds eased past Scunthorpe with consummate ease reassuring those who believed that we would be facing another FA Cup hangover. Simon Grayson’s team scored three times in 12 first-half minutes, before adding a fourth late on. On-loan Arsenal winger Sanchez Watt fired the home side in front, before Max Gradel coolly doubled the lead and Bradley Johnson rifled the third. With two minutes left, Leeds substitute Davide Somma rounded off a superb home display with a neat angled finish. The win means Leeds have lost only one of their last 15 matches and sit fifth in the table and level on points with the two teams directly above them – Cardiff and Norwich. Scunthorpe, though, have now lost nine of their last 10 games and remain second-bottom of the table, three points clear of rock-bottom Preston, but four points behind 21st-placed Sheffield United. Leeds seized complete control of the game courtesy of a three-goal first-half blitz, which Watt got underway when he gathered a flick from Luciano Becchio, spun past Paul Reid and drove into the bottom corner. Three minutes later, Gradel made it 2-0 when he was sent clear by the impressive Robert Snodgrass and calmly rounded Iron keeper Joe Murphy before slotting home. Snodgrass was central to Leeds’ third goal in the 28th minute, when his mazy dribble took the home side deep into the opposition half before he was tackled and the ball fell to Johnson, who hammered in. Scunthorpe almost pulled a goal back before the break but Michael Collins’ effort looped past the post, before Watt came close to grabbing a second with a shot from inside the area that Murphy palmed away. Scunthorpe substitute Jonathan Forte was unlucky when his drive deflected off Alex Bruce and hit the bar, but Leeds replacement Somma fared better when he scored from an angle to compound the visitors’ misery. The Louth branch were there in numbers and enjoyed possibly United’s easiest win of the season. Burnley, Coventry City, Hull City, Watford, Preston, Sheff Utd, and Reading have all lost at home to the side with the third best defensive record in the Championship. The show of support for Bradley Johnson after he netted the third from his team mates may make the management think again about his last contract offer. He has fitted in nicely to the holding role in midfield and seems to be winning the Elland Road crowd over.  Paynter was unlucky not to have scored when his net bound shot hit the heels of Davide Somma. The latter, however, looked lively when he came on and proved himself the best finisher at the club when he scored United’s fourth. Billy Paynter on the other hand badly needs a goal to lift his confidence.  Simon Grayson reckons his team could have scored more. He said: “When you go three-up early on, it gives you a platform to win the game.On another day we could have had six or seven goals.’ “Arsenal have never been mentioned – the focus has solely been on Scunthorpe. “This was far more important than the Arsenal game last week and the Arsenal game on Wednesday. “Now we can concentrate on Arsenal. We’re underdogs but we’ve earned the right to bring them back here. Arsenal have some fantastic players but we will go out with the attitude that we can win.”  Sunderland have allowed Northern Ireland’s George ­McCartney, 29, to ­ rejoin on loan for the rest of the season after a successful initial stint. And Grayson added: “Sanchez can play against Arsenal on Wednesday. “McCartney can’t but we’re delighted we’ve got him again and we have good competition with him and Ben ­Parker. Scunthorpe boss Ian Baraclough said: “I thought there was quite a large gulf. We were low on confidence and Simon’s team were very good.  “They showed they’re competing with the best and have every chance of going into the Premier League.”

Weds Jan 12th 2010. Leeds United have extended the contract of Ramon Nunez until the end of the season. The 25 year old joined Leeds on a short-term deal after impressing during a trial period at the club. The Honduras international has made two substitute appearances since his arrival but he hasn`t featured since the Scunthorpe game at the end of October. Leeds also have the option to extend the contract by a further year if they wish. Meanwhile, 33 year old Amdy Faye won’t be extending his stay at Elland Road and is free to find another club. Richard naylor played 45 minutes of reserve team football in Leeds easy 3-0 victory over Scunthorpe. Better news for LUFC fans was the return to light training of Paddy Kisnorbo. 

Tues Jan 11th. Leeds United have completed the signing of teenage midfielder Zac Thompson from Everton. The 18-year-old will stay at Elland Road for an initial six months after impressing during a recent trial. Thompson, a former Everton schoolboy, will feature for Leeds’ reserves at Scunthorpe in his first competitive outing

Mon Jan 10th. 2010 Replay versus Gunners Live. Leeds United’s replay versus Arsenal will be shown live on ITV 1 with an 8PM kick off. The match will take place in Elland Road on Wednesday, January 19th.

Sat Jan 8th 2011. Arsenal 1-1 Leeds United FA Cup 3rd round. Leeds 01 Schmeichel, 02 Connolly, 04 Bruce, 17 Parker,  40 O’Brien, 07 Gradel (Hughes 90+1) 14 Howson,  16 Johnson, 10 Becchio (Somma 85) 18 Watt (Bromby 76) 23 Snodgrass, Unused Substitutes : 12 Higgs, 05 Collins, 22 Hughes, 44 McCormack. Leeds United were denied another famous FA Cup upset in cruel fashion as Cesc Fabregas’ 90th-minute penalty salvaged a 1-1 draw for Arsenal. The Spanish international struck late on to earn the Gunners a third-round replay amid late drama at the Emirates Stadium. United had ridden pockets of pressure to put themselves on course for a famous success through an earlier penalty from Robert Snodgrass. Leeds held out until half-time through outstanding defending against an Arsenal side who took time to click. Kasper Schmeichel made a crucial save when Andrey Arshavin broke clean through after 11 minutes, and both Jonathan Howson and Luciano Becchio produced goalline clearances as the pressure on Leeds increased around the half-hour mark. Schmeichel then kept out a fierce effort from Denilson, while Becchio came closest for United when Wojciech Szczesny claimed the ball at his feet after Snodgrass fed the ball into Arsenal’s box. Leeds, however, stunned the home crowd after Denilson tripped Max Gradel and conceded a penalty. Snodgrass stepped up to fire the ball home, driving it under Szczesny’s body. But when Ben Parker pulled back Theo Walcott in the dying seconds, Fabregas stepped up to save Arsenal’s skin. There were so many similarities between  1972 and 2011 and I really thought that the Gods were smiling down at us. It was the FA Cup between the Arsenal in London vs the Whites and the fact that we took the lead in the 54th minute. In 1972 Allan Clarke scored the winner vs Arsenal in the 53rd minute. Of course we didn’t have the brilliance of a Bremner, Clarke or Giles but the class of 2011 certainly did not pale into insignificance in the character and guts stakes. Moreover  there is no doubting that next weeks match against Scunthorpe is more important than our replay on Wednesday week against the Gunners. I don’t believe in the Ian Holloway philosophy of conceding FA cup glory by resting nine players at Southampton and giving two fingers up to the Tangerine supporters who travel down to Hampshire. Leeds United gave one hell of a performance for their supporters, but also for themselves and on behalf of the special club that comes from LS11. Cardiff and Leicester also threw themselves into FA Cup ties against much superior Premiership sides.  Simon Grayson will have learned valuable lessons from last season. The squad is stronger and the prize at the end is even bigger. If I was to pick out three players from yesterday’s performance, Alec Bruce, Casper Schmeichel and Bradley Johnson just shaded it in the immense stakes. I was surprised  that Somma was brought on instead of Paynter as the latter certainly holds the ball up better, but that is it nitpicking on a manger who has really grown in stature during these past two seasons. I just hope that Ken Bates backs his judgement by adding at least two strong players to our squad in January for the ultimate goal of promotion this season. After all the FA Cup should generate up to £3M extra in an unbudgeted  windfall. Let’s use the money wisely and enjoy the ride ! Simon Grayson was happy with how his side performed at the Emirates Stadium, but conceded the late nature of the equaliser was hard to take. “Obviously it is tinged with a bit of disappointment because we were minutes away from pulling off a famous result,” Grayson said. “I said to the players beforehand to just do themselves and the fans proud and they have walked off the pitch having done that. “Individuals have done well but any success we have had in the past and will do in the future is about us as a team collectively. “Arsenal are a fantastic football club and it is testament to our players they have had to bring on Fabregas and Walcott to try to win the game. “There are many teams who come here and have been on the end of a hiding. We have done well for ourselves and will approach the replay with the same attitude.” Arsene Wenger : “I must say at first that it was a very difficult game because it was a real Cup game and Leeds were up for it, they played well. It was the kind of game where you felt that it was important not to go 1-0 down. When we were 1-0 down I felt that Wojciech kept us in the game with a good save on the header [from Becchio]. We looked like we would come back but we were short of time and it was important to keep the momentum and not to go out today because that would have been a shocker. on nearly scoring a winner… “Even when we equalised we still had three chances at 1-1 but we couldn’t take them. At least we are still in the Cup and hopefully we can do it at Leeds.” on the inconvenience of a replay… “It was not exactly the wish I had before the game but it was the second worst wish. The worst would have been to go out. We go to Ipswich on Wednesday, we play West Ham on Saturday and then the replay of the FA Cup is after that.” on facing Schmeichel and Bruce…”Name-wise yes [I felt some deja vu]. I see today that Schmeichel and Bruce had a fantastic game, both Leeds centre backs did. Maybe these two names want to make my life difficult forever!” on how the draw might affect his preparation… It is a good warning that we got today. But we knew before the game that Leeds went to Old Trafford last year and won, and they had a draw at Tottenham. Overall this team have belief in that competition, from last year certainly. They did very well, very aggressive but in a good way, not a negative way, they closed us down everywhere and we had problems to pass through their lines. They were dangerous as well and it was important for us not to give a goal away, but we did. on whether Leeds were more positive than Man City… “I don’t know what I want to say there. They were positive, they played longer balls but on the second ball they were well-organised, they were quickly on us and maybe our game was not quick enough to get out of their pressure.” on his disappointment at the penalty conceded… “Yes [I was disappointed]. He is a right-footed player, very sharp and we knew that. We should not have dived in. We knew it would be difficult to go a goal down”. on the impact of Cesc Fabregas… “Straight away he gives us something in the speed of the passing that makes our game much quicker and more dangerous. It shows you how important it is to pass and see quickly in midfield”.on more speculation over Cesc’s future… “I have a good sense of humour but I don’t understand this one. I cannot see how people can say things like that without us knowing it. We have the contract of the player and we would inform you if we would sell the player. We sell nobody.”on leadership…Fabregas does it. I felt today our game was a bit slow in our passing, we were not sharp in our decision-making, the rest is the credit to Leeds. They stopped us from playing more than [us lacking] leadership. When Cesc comes on he has that quite vision so even if he is closed down he doesn’t have to run too much to make the game quicker. on the penalty Arsenal didn’t get… “I will be faithful to my reputation – I did not see the first one! The second one looked to be a penalty because he pulled Theo back, the first one was impossible to see from the bench.” (see Walcott’s statement to Talk Sport)on Roy Hodgson’s departure… “I am shocked because I rate Roy Hodgson as a great manager. It puts our job into perspective because he was Manager of the Year in July. It shows you how quickly we lose our qualities because he had to go six months later. Of course it is a shock and I feel our job suffers today”. Theo Walcott has admitted diving in an attempt to rescue Arsenal from an FA Cup defeat against Leeds United. The Gunners were losing 1-0 to Leeds United in the 87th minute when Walcott was fouled by Alex Bruce, with referee Phil Dowd originally appearing to award a spot-kick before the linesman’s flag went up for offside. Speaking after the game Walcott said: “I thought [Dowd] did give the penalty to be honest. I just want to apologise to the managers, I actually dived trying to win the penalty. “I said to one of their players would you have done it if it was the last few minutes and he said he I probably would have done it. “I’m not the sort of player to do it, I own up to that and I apologise for that. It’s one of those things that I don’t like to see in my game. I’ve heard some people say if you feel just a slight touch you should go down so it can work both ways. “I’m not happy with myself for doing that but I’m happy that we got the draw in the end. [Alex Bruce] was fine about it. Whether he knew if it was a penalty I don’t know but I said sorry I’m trying to win the game. I had a little bit of a laugh and a joke with the referee afterwards saying that’s the first dive I’ve ever done can you tell?”  Wenger on Leeds ; “Wenger was not surprised by Leeds’ performance as they came close to taking a second Premier League scalp in the FA Cup after dumping out Manchester United at the same stage last season.”It is a good warning that we got today. But we knew before the game that Leeds went to Old Trafford class  last year and won, and they had a draw at Tottenham. Overall this team have belief in that competition, from last year certainly. They did very well, very aggressive but in a good way, not a negative way, they closed us down everywhere and we had problems to pass through their lines. They were dangerous as well and it was important for us not to give a goal away, but we did.”

Thursday Dec 6th 2010. Latest transfer news. Leeds manager Simon Grayson wants to add Stoke defender Danny Higginbotham to his promotion chasing side. He hopes to tempt Higginbotham to switch from Stoke with the lure of first team football.The defender has made just four Premier League starts for his side this season and was dropped for the defeat at Old Trafford on TuesdayLeeds manager Simon Grayson has refused to rule out the possibility of Jonathan Woodgate joining the club on loan.  The 30-year-old Tottenham centre-half has had an injury-plagued career since departing Elland Road in 2003, with short spells at Newcastle, Real Madrid and Middlesbrough. Spurs manager Harry Redknapp is looking to let Woodgate leave White Hart Lane to join a Championship side on loan, and a number of clubs are thought to be tracking the former England international. Doubts remain over the defender’s fitness but the likes of Cardiff City and Queens Park Rangers are reportedly monitoring his progress. Whites boss Grayson admits the lure of Leeds could see Woodgate return to West Yorkshire, saying any side in the second tier would have to seriously consider the benefits of having him on their books. “We’re a big attraction and we’ve proved that in the past. We’re a big football club and I want to show our intentions,” he told the Yorkshire Evening Post. “If Jonathan Woodgate or anyone else who’s played in the Premier League will make us better then we’ll try and sign them. “I’m sure if any manager in the Championship or the Premier League was offered Jonathan Woodgate, they’d have to consider it.” Tottenham boss Redknapp has previously indicated his willingness to let Woodgate drop down a division on loan. “I think he’d be happy to go and play in the Championship on loan because he’s been out for a while,” he remarked.”That would probably suit us better.” Sky Sports is generally fairly accurate in their reporting, and last night they indicated they thought that  Leeds United’s winger Max Gradel was a January target for Newcastle. Gradel has been linked with the Tyneside club for the last couple of weeks now, and certainly the 23-year-old fits the profile of players Mike Ashley would like to sign. The 23 year-old Ivory Coast born player has played at Leicester and on loan at Bournemouth, before joining Leeds United a year ago on a two and a half year permanent deal. But not surprisingly Leeds United are not too keen to let their in-form player move in the January transfer window. Yesterday, Leeds were beaten 2-1 at Cardiff City in the Championship, with goals from former Newcastle players Craig Bellamy and Michael Chopra, making the difference. But if Max is anything like the other Ivory Coast player Newcastle signed in the summer, Cheick Tiote, he’ll be another great signing for the club. The deal will only happen if Newcastle offer Leeds a decent fee they cannot turn down, since the Elland Road club are obviously aiming to be in the Premier League next season – finally – and they hardly want to lose one of their best players, at this stage of the season. Leeds are now in 5th place but just two points out of an automatic promotion place, currently held by QPR and Cardiff. Gradel’s contract runs out in 18 months time, so if Leeds wait any longer his transfer fee could decrease, and we would have hoped that a deal of around £2M could be arranged for the player, but Newcastle may have to come up with even more than that to entice Leeds to sell.Alan Pardew met with Newcastle’s Managing Director Derek Llambias yesterday to discuss transfer targets, and we would expect initial phone calls to start today, as they go down their list of  transfer targets, which are thought to include wingers, a striker and a left back. Other reports link Alan Smith with a possible loan move back to Leeds but his current injury may put that to an end.

Tues Jan 4th 2011. Cardiff City 1-2Leeds. 1 Schmeichel, 02 Connolly, 05 Collins, 19 Parker, 40 O’Brien, (07 Gradel 18 Watt 57 mins) ( 14 Howson, 16 Johnson, 09 Paynter, 23 Snodgrass, 44 McCormack  (11 Sam 57mins – off on 64 mins for for 10 Becchio): Unused Substitutes : 12 Higgs, 04 Bruce, , 17 Faye, 22 Hughes. Leeds travelled to Cardiff City in decent form against a side that had won the previous five meetings versus United. Leeds attempted to avenge their 0-4 drubbing at Elland Road back in October, ironically the last time that United had lost a Championship match. 19:45 kick offs have not being happy kick off times for Leeds having lost four and drawn just two this season. The Bluebirds gained control of the match with Bellamy’s pace tormenting the defence especially Connolly, and they went ahead on 11 minutes through their talisman, Bellamy. Leeds couldn’t handle the pace and trickery of Cardiff but held on to leave it just one down at the interval. The Bluebirds missed two decent chances early in the second half but Leeds hung in their and clawed their way back into the game. A double substitution saw Sam and Watt come on for McCormack (who received decent applause from his former home fans) and Max Gradel who had one of his quieter games. United began to cause problems to Cardiff and Sam went on a super run but couldn’t finish. The ball came to Snodgrass and the Scot finished with poise and brilliance. 1-1 and game on. Becchio came on for Sam who pulled up injured just seven minutes coming on. Leeds began to create chances but committed suicide with ten minutes remaining when the quiet Choppra was allowed to dance though to make it 2-1 to a disspirited home side at that stage of the game. Howson and Johnson went close for Leeds. United tried to claw their way back in but their corners and crosses were wasteful against a side that were vulnerable to every cross. The best chance came in the last minute of added on time, but Becchio just couldn’t get a clear header on it. The run has ended and we haven’t beaten Cardiff since 1984. Leeds failed to score for a second time  when Cardiff’s heads dropped after the equalizer. Three points from four games is a disappointing return over Christmas but we desperately need a quality centre half and a quality holding midfielder especially against the better teams. The one consolation is that Leeds may not have to face Cardiff again this season. The plus point is that Ben Parker has come back and done well, but we can’t hope to outscore teams without addressing our central midfield and central defensive issues in my view. The half full glass says that we are capable of going on another run especially with the spirit and quality of several players within the squad. We are not a million miles away from a side that could grasp automatic promotion in a dog eat dog league. Wouldn’t it be good if Leeds were to tempt Alan Smith back on loan for the rest of the season. Imaging the lift the side would get from that !

Tues Jan 4th. O’Brien explains Cardiff snub.Andy O’Brien has explained why he rejected Cardiff City to secure a permanent move to Leeds United. The Bolton defender had been on loan at Elland Road and held talks with the Bluebirds before deciding to accepts Leeds’ offer. Having sealed a permanent move to the Championship high-flyers the experienced defender is now set to line up against Cardiff on Tuesday evening. O’Brien informed Leeds of his talks with Cardiff and told the club that if they matched City’s offer then he would opt to stay. “I got the impression Cardiff liked that I had the guts to do everything myself without an agent,” he told the South Wales Echo. “What I wanted to do was be up front all the way through and not mess about behind anyone’s back. I like to think I did that. “Cardiff came in with an offer and the first thing I did was ring Leeds and tell them exactly what the deal was. “There was a bit of to-ing and fro-ing and then I said to Ken Bates ‘If you offer me what Cardiff have offered then I’ll sign.’ “That is what happened. Personally, it’s a relief to have sorted things out. Two months ago, I was scratching my head as to where my future would lie. “Now, I am just glad that I know where I am going to be for the next two-and-a-half years.” Bolton have confirmed O’Brien’s departure to Leeds and manager Owen Coyle believes he will do a good job for the Whites.”I’m sure I speak on behalf of everyone at the club when I say I would like to thank Andy for his services to Bolton Wanderers,” he told Bolton’s official website. “He is a good professional and I would like to wish him all the best for the future. “It is a good move for Andy at this stage in his career and I am sure he will do a very good job for Leeds United.”

Review of 2010. Leeds finished the calendar year in 4th place in the Championship. But it all could have been so different. Their early form in League One which saw them sweep the opposition apart came to an abrupt and sudden end in early 2010. That would have been a travesty, as heroic cup performances against Man United and Spurs sidetracked their bread and butter league One campaign. That said  who would have thought that a 3rd division side would go the Old Trafford and (at 13/1 in some places) inflict the first 3rd round exit for Man United in nearly twenty years ? What a day that was ! We can go through the nearly fatal fall before getting across the finishing line, but we won’t. The fact remains that Leeds won five out of their seven remaining games to secure outright promotion. The last game of season 2009/10 saw ten men United come from behind to score two goals in front of a full house at Elland Road versus Bristol Rvs. Jermaine Beckford (idolised and disliked in possibly equal measure by Leeds fans) scored the winner at Old Trafford and netted the winner versus Bristol Rvs. That’s good enough in my book. United began their Championship return with mostly free signings and loanees (Paynter, Sam, Connolly, Schmeichel being the most prominent) and fees paid for Bruce and Collins. Most Leeds fans were settling for stability but there were others who hoped and expected much more. One point from our first two matches v Derby and Notts Forest saw United in 16th position. Millwall, Watford and Swansea were put to the sword before Leeds received a 5-2 hammering at Barnsley despite taking over 7,000 fans with them. United rebounded with four points from the next two matches, before a 4-6 self destruct defeat at home to lowly Preston saw Leeds fall back to 10th. A live Sky victory at M’bro was followed by a 0-4 hammering in front of the Sky cameras at home to 2nd placed Cardiff City. Andy O’Brien was drafted in from Bolton on loan to shore up the leakiest home defence in all four divisions.  United were sitting in 16th position on October 23rd 2010. A  Jonny Howson hatrick secured all three points at Scunthorpe, and Leeds followed this up with a 3-2 win at high flying Coventry City. The rest of November saw Leeds draw with Hull , Reading  and Norwich but Luciano Becchio continued his rich vein of form with all three as substitute against Crystal palace. Leeds began December in 7th but won all three of their next matches against Palace, Burnley and leaders QPR. This superb victory brought them into 2nd, but disappointing draws finished the year against Leicester and Portsmouth when they lost two goal leads on both occasions. I say disappointing because of the remarkable progress made by United. Leeds finished the year in 4th position but only the greatest of cynics could not be happy with the previous twelve months of football, where Simon Grayson’s charges have made incredible progress. Remarkably, the side that lost their top scorer to a free tyransfer finished the year as the top scorers in the English leagues.  More of the same please !

Jan 1st 2011. Leeds 1-1 M,’bro 01 Schmeichel, 02 Connolly,   Collins, 40 O’Brien, 07 Gradel (Sam 56), 14 Howson, 16 Johnson, 22 Hughes (Kilkenny 56), 10 Becchio, 23 Snodgrass (Watt 76), 44 McCormack  Unused Substitutes : 12 Higgs, 04 Bruce, 09 Paynter, 27 Somma. Leeds waited until stoppage time to extend their unbeaten run to 12 matches thanks to Luciano Becchio’s strike. David Wheater opened the scoring on 20 minutes when he glanced in Julio Arca’s in-swinging corner and Arca could have extended Boro’s lead when he shot wide. Lacklustre Leeds burst into life when Lloyd Sam went close after a fine run and shot, but it looked like they would lose before Becchio intervened. Ross McCormack then had a great chance to win it but his header was wide. Leeds’s performance was, at times, worthy of a New Year’s Day hangover, and during the second half even the Boro fans were asking their Leeds counterparts if they could sign a song for them. But the victory moves them into third place in the Championship while Middlesbrough’s supporters will travel back to Teesside buoyed by a sterling display, although they will be heartbroken by Becchio’s lifeline which, frankly, got the hosts out of jail. Wheater, who could leave the club in the January transfer window according to Boro boss Tony Mowbray, had a chance to open the scoring before his first-half header, but he miscued when well placed in the penalty area. Robert Snodgrass then went close with a dipping shot before Wheater glanced in the opening goal. There was some debate as to whether the Boro centre-back got the vital touch, with Becchio and Neill Collins in close attendance, but the finish did much to settle the visitors as they took a firm grip on the first half. Arca, Scott McDonald and left-back Joe Bennett were linking well in the middle of the park and only Andy O’Brien’s close-range shot from a corner was worthy of note for Leeds. But McCormack’s free-kick on 59 minutes seemed to inject the hosts with some energy as he shot narrowly wide, and Sam’s fine run and shot was even closer moments later. Bennett was proving a positive influence throughout and his twisting run would have merited a fine goal, but he did not manage to keep his shot down. Despite Leeds’s brief flurry they failed to engineer any fluency to their play and a sign of their fortunes was shown by the inaccuracy of Snodgrass, whose angled shot inside the area was heading for a throw-in before it was intercepted. Thankfully for the midfielder, Becchio was on hand to spare the hosts with a strike from 12 yards, his 12th of the season, when Boro keeper Jason Steele punched out to him. But McCormack will be regretting his late miss, although that would have been mighty harsh on the visitors, who were resolute throughout.

Jan 1st 2010. Andy signs in. Leeds United have beaten Cardiff to the signing of Bolton Wanderers centre-back Andy O’Brien on a two-and-a-half year deal after a successful loan spell. The 31-year-old former Republic of Ireland defender, who was out of contract in the summer, played nine times for Leeds, scoring once. Leeds have not confirmed whether they have to pay a transfer fee. Chairman Ken Bates told the club website: “Despite a tempting offer from Cardiff, he has agreed to join us.”