Sat March 30th Ipswich Town 3-0 Leeds. Last nail in the coffin. YEP Report.  Ipswich Town’s David McGoldrick bagged a quickfire brace either side of half-time to sink 10-man Leeds United. Neil Warnock’s side made much of the early running, only to find Town goalkeeper Scott Loach in inspired form. Ipswich were presented with the opportunity to turn the contest on its head when Tom Lees launched an unnecessary and dangerously high tackle on Jay Tabb in midfield to earn his marching orders in the 32nd minute. Mick McCarthy’s men did not pass up the opportunity and McGoldrick opened the scoring from close range on the stroke of half-time. The on-loan Nottingham Forest man doubled the advantage after 49 minutes and, although Leeds gamely continued to threaten, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas came off the bench to slam home a third. Back-to-back wins mean Ipswich lie four points clear of the bottom three with seven games remaining, three points and five places below Leeds in 11th. Loach made his expected return in goal for the Tractor Boys following the end of Stephen Henderson’s loan spell from West Ham – McCarthy’s only change to the XI that beat in-form Bolton before the international break. Fit-again striker Steve Morison and veteran midfielder Michael Brown returned to the Leeds starting line-up, with Luke McCormack and Rodolph Austin dropping to the bench. McGoldrick flashed an early header wide for the hosts but Leeds enjoyed the game’s first clear-cut opening in the 11th minute. Loach misjudged Stephen Warnock’s in-swinging corner from the right and saw the ball cannon back off his crossbar before Paul Green’s follow-up was cleared off the line. The recalled keeper soon earned his spurs, thwarting David Norris – who was subjected to a frosty reception on his return to Portman Road – following good work from Morison in the 13th minute and reacting swiftly as Green again came close moments later. Loach remained busy as the half passed its midway point, getting down sharply to keep out a well-hit Luke Varney drive before beating away Morison’s header from the resulting corner. Brown glanced Warnock’s cross over on a rare foray into the opposition penalty area but Lees would inexplicably sabotage his team-mates’ efforts just after the half-hour. Referee James Adcock showed little hesitation in brandishing his red card in response to the ill-judged lunge on Tabb. Leeds reshuffled and initially coped with the numerical disadvantage admirably, Norris and Morison again going close, but McGoldrick showed poachers’ instincts in first-half stoppage time to give Ipswich the lead. Luke Hyam headed Carlos Edwards’ cross against the crossbar and McGoldrick was on hand to nod into an unguarded net. And he gave Town breathing space four minutes after the restart – Hyam was a more intentional architect on this occasion and a slight deflection on the striker’s left-footed shot left Leeds keeper Paddy Kenny helpless. Kenny prevented McGoldrick from completing his hat-trick in the 56th minute, but either side of that strike Loach saved with his legs to deny Morison from close range and Whites full-back Sam Bryam had a powerful header stopped from a Warnock set-piece. Emmanuel-Thomas responded by settling Ipswich nerves in style, drilling emphatically past Kenny after Aaron Creswell crafted the 68th-minute opportunity superbly. The former Arsenal youngster rifled a volley over when attempting to double his tally shortly afterwards, while Kenny was forced to deny Tabb and substitute Michael Chopra in the closing stages as the trials of playing with 10 men visibly caught up with Leeds.  Warnock had no defence for his defender and he admits he couldn`t understand why he made the challenge. “I thought it was a red straight away,” Warnock told Yorkshire Radio. “I don`t understand what is going through his mind, we are well in control of the game, we are dominating and could have been three or four up. We have come to a hard place like Portman Road, controlling the game and all of a sudden, Tom gives them a lift. “It is not just stupid it is downright irresponsible. He has not only let me down, the team down, all the fans down and all the hard work we had done, and all for a stupid tackle.” Lees sending off was the fourth visit in a row to Portman Road that Leeds have been reduced to ten-men, following the sending offs of Kevin Nicholls, Alex Bruce and Aidy White in the previous three. The defender will now serve a three-match suspension for the sending off, starting with the game on Derby County on Monday and finishing with the home game against Sheffield Wednesday on April 13th. Mick McCarthy said his side could have easily have been two or three behind before the incident that changed the game. “I thought it at the time and now I have seen it on video, my view hasn`t changed. It was a red card and I don`t see any arguments,” McCarthy told the Ipswich official website. “It changed the game, no doubt about that. They were better than us for the first 30 minutes and could have been two or three up.”

Sat 30th of March 2013 Status of new boss will show true credentials of owners By Phil Hay GFH Capital’s first three months as owner of Leeds United brought scepticism on itself. The company’s employment of a new public relations manager earlier this week was an admission of that. Hearts and minds matter in football and GFH Capital has won too few of either. Still, they ask for balance in this business so here we go. The confusion of the past 10 days notwithstanding, GFH Capital’s sale of a 10 per cent stake to Bahrain’s International Investment Bank (IIB) is in line with its stated strategy of management and ownership at Elland Road. This is what it promised to do. In his first interview with the YEP, Salem Patel – the GFH Capital and United director – said: “The way we typically work is to identify a project, then bring strategic investors with us. But we’ll not be selling 100 per cent. We’ll maintain a shareholding in this club.”This is no defence of GFH Capital or no outright defence at any rate. Take the deal with IIB, agreed on Thursday and bringing about the addition of the bank’s chief executive to the board of United’s parent company. To the naked eye, IIB is a clone of Gulf Finance House; a Bahraini investment bank with the same ideals and a similar resume. It is owned in part by Abu Dhabi’s wealthy Al Fahim Group and its website talks in hundreds of millions of dollars, but the bank posted a loss in 2011 and made £5m in 2012. There is no detail about what it paid to GFH Capital or whether it invested hard cash into Leeds as part of the deal. So you might ask, in the context of nurturing an English football club, what IIB is bringing to the table. You might also ask whether enlisting a cast of thousands in the boardroom – a cast which can only grow as chunks of equity are sold – is conducive to harmonious management. GFH Capital is naive if it cannot understand why these points are being raised. But the company – or its parent firm, Gulf Finance House – paid £21m for a seat at the table so establishing a strategy is its prerogative. From the outside, Elland Road has become a mass of contradictions. You have an owner which talks as if it plans to run the show long term but which is also discussing the sale of a 51 per cent stake to Steve Parkin. You have accusations that GFH Capital will bail out at the earliest opportunity but certain club-related decisions which show foresight: an overdue reduction in season ticket prices and a concerted effort to tie a large swathe of the club’s under-18s team to professional contracts. Leeds have wasted their time with numerous ill-equipped teenagers in the past decade but pockets of this talented youth team squad are worth protecting. Whether GFH Capital has actively pushed the policy is difficult to say but the firm is not opposing it either. This is, apparently, the first year in nine when all of United’s second-year scholars have signed professional forms. But the academy is the academy and, according to Neil Warnock, few of those prospects other than Chris Dawson are likely to supplement the first-team squad next season. It is also true that for too long Thorp Arch has had an unfortunate Capital habit of developing players for more wealthy clubs. Caring for the academy is one way for GFH Capital to fight its corner but neither a raft of newly-signed junior pros nor lower season ticket prices have bought it grace. If GFH Capital or Gulf Finance House do intend to sell a majority stake and retreat into the background then none of this matters to them. They won’t be compelled to answer for events that occurred on their watch. But the press release which came with the announcement of IIB’s investment was fairly explicit – GFH Capital has invested around £10m in Leeds and plans to retain a “significant part” of its equity. It was an attempt to deny that an exit strategy was already under way. On that basis, the appointment of the club’s next manager is critical. It is imperative for GFH Capital that it not only recruits a suitable and progressive replacement for Warnock but is seen to be recruiting the manager it wants. There is no obvious sign of movement on that front and no real explanation for why Nigel Adkins, the recently-appointed Reading boss, was allowed to drift towards the Madejski Stadium when Leeds were patently interested in employing him. That interest was not one-way. Adkins liked the idea of returning to the north of England and trying his hand at Elland Road. He wanted reassurances about United’s future stability and financial strength but what would it say about the club if GFH Capital was unable to give him that? All we know is that United’s admiration for Adkins and his willingness to talk never translated into formal discussions. There can only be two reasons for that. Either GFH Capital has other ideas and another candidate in mind or it was in no position to make Adkins an offer. We should not pretend that Adkins is Allah or the only qualified option out there. But he rates as a successful coach with a track record at the right levels of English football, and clubs like Leeds overlook people like him at their peril. They do so too in the knowledge that scrutiny of their next appointment heightens as a result. This is GFH Capital’s big call, the decision which will underpin a word more important than investment, equity or strategy – credibility.

Sat March 20th. Brian McDermott wants Leeds jon – P Hay YEP. Brian McDermott is ready to throw his hat into the ring for the Leeds United manager’s job. Sources close to the former Reading boss have told the YEP that the 51-year-old wants the post at Elland Road to be his next appointment after being ruthlessly sacked by the Berkshire club. McDermott’s long period of service to Reading – spanning more than 12 years and involving several different roles – ended unceremoniously last month when he was dismissed with nine games of the Premier League season to go. The former Arsenal midfielder took Reading into the top flight as Championship title winners last season, earning him the LMA Championship Manager of the Year in the process, and his reputation grew rapidly during three-and-a-half years in charge. He had previously worked as a club scout before occupying academy and reserve-team coaching roles and his resume is likely to match many of United’s requirements when the Elland Road club bring the process of replacing Neil Warnock to a head. United boss Warnock remains in post but his contract ends in June and he is expected to part company with the club once their pursuit of the Championship play-offs becomes mathematically impossible. His squad were seven points adrift ahead of today’s game at Ipswich Town, the first of eight remaining fixtures. Leeds have already shown a tentative interest in Nigel Adkins – sacked by Southampton in January – but their failure to hold formal talks with the 48-year-old allowed Reading to step in and name him as McDermott’s successor on Tuesday. McDermott is now expected to push for the forthcoming vacancy at Elland Road, with a source claiming he would “jump” at the opportunity if United approached him. Reading were consistently prominent in the Championship during his tenure, reaching the play-off final in 2011 before topping the league last May by a single point from Southampton. They closed out their title win with a remarkable run of 16 victories from 19 games. The YEP also understands that Owen Coyle – another leading name in the betting markets – is planning to apply for the Leeds job, having been out of work since leaving Bolton Wanderers in October. Coyle and Bolton parted company shortly after United’s 2-2 draw at the Reebok Stadium with Wanderers far adrift of the division’s promotion fight.  The Lancashire club originally took him on board in 2010 after Coyle guided Burnley to an unlikely success in the Championship play-off final. He, McDermott, Gus Poyet and Paolo Di Canio are among the favourites to replace Warnock with Adkins no longer an option, but Leeds appear to have made little progress in their search for a new boss amid further changes in the boardroom at Elland Road. On Thursday, GFH Capital, United’s majority shareholder, announced the sale of 10 per cent stake to the Bahrain-based International Investment Bank (IIB).

Sat 30th of March. Dawson reminds me of Giles – WarnockMidfielder Chris Dawson looks likely to be next graduate from Leeds’ famed academy, with more youngsters set to follow him, as Phil Hay reports. Neil Warnock has indicated that Chris Dawson will make his Leeds United debut before the end of the season after describing the midfielder as “the future of the club” and comparing him to a young Johnny Giles. Warnock predicted that Dawson’s emergence as a regular first-team player would begin in earnest when United’s squad begin pre-season training in early July but he is contemplating blooding the Wales Under-21 international in their remaining Championship games. Dawson, 18, has been on the verge of his senior debut since signing a professional deal with Leeds in October and receiving a first-team squad the following month. His inclusion on the bench against Huddersfield Town on March 16 was his third appearance as an unused substitute. The Dewsbury-born player broke into the Wales Under-21 squad in February on the strength of his youth-team displays and pressure on Warnock to experiment with the emerging prospects from United’s academy is growing in response to a Championship season which has all but run out of steam. Leeds’ 2-1 loss to Huddersfield ruined their fight for a play-off position and effectively confirmed that the club will compete in the Championship for a fourth year running next season. Warnock expects to leave Elland Road prior to his contract expiring on June 30. The United boss admitted he was unwilling to throw Dawson into the fray while Leeds retained a mathematical chance of qualifying for the play-offs and the teenager was not expected to start away to Ipswich Town today but Dawson – an attacking playmaker who United’s academy staff rate as highly as Sam Byram – is likely to come to the fore ahead of the season’s conclusion at Watford on May 4. “I hope he’ll get his debut before the end of the season,” Warnock said. “I’d like to give him his debut at some stage.“He’s working really hard and he’s still got certain things to put into his game, which you’d expect from a young lad. With the level he’s at he does what he wants and as you go higher up in football you’ve got to put a bit of discipline into your game. But he’s a breath of fresh air and he’s the future of the club as well. “We need a Chris Dawson type and he might well come through for next season. A lot of boys I’ve had in my career, going back to the likes of Mark Draper and Tommy Johnson at Notts County, they went home for the summer as youth-team players and came back as established first-team players. “They were that much stronger in pre-season and Chris will be with the first team in pre-season. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t become a very integral part of the team. We are looking for that type of player.” Dawson has played regularly for both United’s Under-18s and Under-21s this season, with the former likely to win their division and the latter placed prominently in their own league behind Leicester City and Derby County. His inclusion in the Welsh Under-21 squad – coached by former Colchester United and Leyton Orient manager Geraint Williams – for the first time in early February was a strong vote of confidence, with Williams calling him “very energetic and enthusiastic and a good ball-player.”Leeds signed Dawson to a senior deal early in the term, the first of five academy players to turn professional in the space of six months. Lewis Walters, Eric Grimes, Luke Parkin and Under-18s captain Alex Mowatt have all agreed full-time contracts in the past week-and-a-half, profiting from strong individual and collective performances at youth-team level. “We haven’t got to get carried away,” Warnock said. “I’m not sure how many of them will come through into the first team in the next 12 months. “But Dawson’s got a little bit about him. He’s a Johnny Giles type of player. Size doesn’t really matter to him because he’s got ability.”Aidan White, the United left-back who came through the Thorp Arch academy in 2008, admitted recently that Dawson seemed most likely to follow 19-year-old Byram in taking the step from the junior ranks to United’s first team. Byram’s maiden season as a senior player has been a revelation, and to date the right-back has been ever-present. His form has attracted the interest of West Bromwich Albion manager Steve Clarke who watched him during games at Leicester and Wolverhampton Wanderers prior to the international break. “I always keep an eye on the younger lads,” White said. “I was in their shoes once so I know what it’s like for them.“Sam’s been fantastic and I’d been tipping him to come through for a while. Chris Dawson looks like being next. He’s got bags of talent too.” Warnock’s comparison between Dawson and Giles is extremely high praise. Giles was a fêted member of Don Revie’s Leeds’ squad and is still viewed by many of his team-mates as the most talented and influential player of that era. Sir Alf Ramsey once said that he regretted the fact that the Republic of Ireland international “wasn’t born an Englishman.” At 5’7”, Giles stood marginally smaller than Dawson but compensated for his size with supreme ability. United have been held back this season in part by a lack of creative skill in the centre of their midfield, something which Dawson might help to remedy in seasons to come. Warnock said: “The future’s very bright for him and I’m glad we’ve been able to bring him into it and give him a taste. “He’s repaid us by getting picked for Wales Under-21s and in my own mind I can see games where it would benefit Chris to play. I’ll have to look at that over the next few games.”

Fri 29th of March 2013. Uncertainty makes it tough for Leeds United to get right man By Dominic Matteo  There are certain managers out there who would take the Leeds United job at the drop of a hat. But if you’re a sought-after boss with a good reputation, is it the sensible option? The honest answer is no. Not at this precise moment. We can all wax lyrical about Leeds’s history, stature and everything else but the manager who replaces Neil Warnock won’t be coaching Billy Bremner or spending David O’Leary’s budget.  He’ll be dealing in the here and now and no-one is really certain what the here and now involves. I’ve never been a manager but I can guess what anyone speaking to Leeds would want to know: who am I working for, what will I earn, what are your expectations of me and how much money will I have to spend on players? Let’s start at the top. If you listen to the jungle drums, GFH Capital might not own Leeds for much longer. In fact, it’s not just jungle drums. I won’t pretend to be all over this story but it’s hardly a secret that there’s a bid on the table for a large stake in the club. The long and short of a situation like that is that any coach who takes the job tomorrow might have a different boss by Sunday. He might end up with a boss who doesn’t want him, won’t keep the promises that were made to him or can’t back him properly. It’s a big leap of faith. At the same time, you’d find it difficult to be certain that the people in charge at the moment are there for the long term, even if they decide to stay put for now. From the outside I can’t see a big picture. So do I understand why Nigel Adkins went to Reading at a time when he would have been tailor-made for Leeds? One hundred per cent. He’s done the sensible thing. Whether Reading stay up or go down he’ll have good players available to him and a decent amount of cash. He’ll earn well too. Reading, I’m sure, will make it clear to him that he has to win promotion from the Championship next season (I honestly don’t see them getting out of trouble this season) but he’ll have that target in mind anyway. The clubs Adkins have managed so far haven’t made a habit of standing still. As it stands at Elland Road, I honestly wonder how a manager could be promised money or told what his aims are. What if somebody else takes control of the boardroom in a few weeks’ time? Takeovers shift the goalposts for everyone employed by a professional football club and I don’t see why another buy-out of Leeds would be any different. There’s a crucial word here – stability. And Leeds don’t seem to have any. It might be that everything is right as rain behind the scenes but it doesn’t look that way to me or the supporters. Every day I’ve got people asking me ‘what’s going on’? it’s hard to believe that Leeds were taken over just three months ago. This was supposed to be a bright new era. One way or another, the investment negotiations need to come to a conclusion and come to a conclusion soon. Whether that means GFH Capital selling shares or sticking around, it has to happen by the time the summer comes. Otherwise we’ll face another period of chaos and risk another season slipping away. I don’t think I’m exaggerating. The club cannot move forward properly until they get some clear direction. I’ve got other concerns too. As we discovered last summer and on previous occasions, good players need to see that the club are going places. Why did we lose Robert Snodgrass? Because he wasn’t convinced that he was better off here than he was at Norwich. I hate to think of Sam Byram or Tom Lees taking the same view if Premier League clubs start sniffing around them at a time when Leeds are unstable. But I wouldn’t blame them if they did. I suppose you could say that an awful lot is at stake. I’d have welcomed Adkins with open arms because he ticks just about every box and I don’t understand why Leeds didn’t make more of an effort to get him. Maybe they’ve got other ideas. Or maybe they’re not in a position to start making decisions like that. I can’t pretend to know what’s going on but from where I’m standing, it’s hard not to feel worried again about the situation at the club.

Thurs 28th. “Strategic investor buys 10% of Leeds United but Parkin “still intends to buy 51% majority stake”.- YEP Aabed al Zeerah has joined Leeds United’s board and GFH’s David Haigh tells Phil Hay he expects more new investors to follow suit. GFH Capital expects to announce further sales of shares in Leeds United in the weeks ahead after relinquishing a 10 per cent stake to an investment bank in Bahrain. The International Investment Bank (IIB) has acquired a minority interest in the Elland Road club in what is likely to be the first of several equity deals negotiated by United’s owner. GFH Capital completed a full purchase of Leeds on December 21 but the addition of IIB to its ranks and the appointment of the bank’s chief executive, Aabed Al Zeera, as a director of United’s parent company, Leeds City Holdings Limited, is an initial step towards reducing the company’s exposure at Elland Road. The Dubai-based private equity firm – itself wholly owned by Gulf Finance House, another investment bank situated in Bahrain – has been under intense pressure to outline its long-term plans amid doubts about its commitment and firm suggestions that another takeover of Leeds is possible, just three months on from GFH Capital’s own buy-out. Yorkshire businessman and lifelong United supporter Steve Parkin is leading an attempt to buy a 51 per cent stake from GFH Capital and discussions over his offer continued in the Middle East this week while GFH Capital was finalising the sale of shares to IIB. The Yorkshire Evening Post has been told that IIB’s investment will not affected Parkin’s bid and that his proposal remains on the table. It would, however, be likely to complicate a future attempt by Parkin or a third party to secure a 100 per cent stake in the Championship side. The YEP also understands that GFH Capital anticipates further announcements of equity sales in the near future, a strategy which it said would allow it to maintain “successful, sustainable and long term ownership of Leeds United” and create a “consortium of like-minded investors.” GFH Capital has not disclosed the price paid by IIB for its 10 per cent stake – GFH Capital bought Leeds from chairman Ken Bates and other minority shareholders for around £21million – but Aabed Al Zeera has joined the board of Leeds City Holdings Limited with immediate effect. IIB’s chief executive has been a director of the bank since 2007 and is listed as an executive of numerous other companies in the UK, the Middle East and Africa. IIB was established in Bahrain 2003 and calls itself a “regional leader in private equity investment, real estate investment, asset management and corporate finance.” The bank reported a net profit of £5.4million for 2012 having posted a seven-figure loss in the previous 12 months. In a statement, Al-Zeera said: “We are delighted to become investors in Leeds United and would like to thank GFH Capital for facilitating this for us.” GFH Capital executive and United director David Haigh said: “The introduction of IIB is in keeping with what have always been GFH Capital’s aims for the successful, sustainable and long term ownership of Leeds United. “We believe that a consortium of like-minded investors provides the best ownership model for a club which belongs among the elite of English football clubs and global sporting brands. “It is our aim to provide the finance and the stability to enable the club to complete that journey as soon as possible.” GFH Capital’s plans were clouded in confusion last week after the accounts of Gulf Finance House indicated that it was seeking to sell the whole of its 100 per cent stake in Leeds before the end of this year. A subsequent statement from GFH Capital insisted that the firm was “looking for investment in part of its share in the club, not its entirety” but the apparent contradiction has prompted enquiries by the Bahrain Stock Exchange and demands that Gulf Finance House clarifies its plans. A spokesperson for the Bahrain Bourse admitted on Wednesday that it was struggling to elicit an acceptable response from Gulf Finance House, saying: “At least they need to tell us what is right or wrong.”  Sources close to Gulf Finance House say the bank is unlikely to alter the statement published with its recent accounts. The controversy comes at a time when Leeds are heading towards the end of an unproductive Championship season and in need of a suitable replacement for out-going manager Neil Warnock, whose contract ends in June. The possibility of Nigel Adkins succeeding Warnock following his recent sacking by Southampton faded on Tuesday when Reading unveiled Adkins as their new boss. GFH Capital, however, sees the deal with IIB as a demonstration of its stated intention to retain a sizable and long-term stake in Leeds, despite indications that it was already poised to relinquish control. Director Salem Patel admitted on the day of GFH Capital’s takeover that the company would “bring the right people on board – whether that’s management or shareholders or investors – to help try and build that asset to take it to the next level.” A statement yesterday read: “IIB is the first strategic investor to come into the club in line with GFH Capital’s long-stated plans to strengthen the club’s overall shareholder base. “Others are expected to join as GFH Capital creates the ownership structure which will provide the club with sound long-term finance as the basis for (their) return to the top tier of English football.” GFH Capital claims to have invested around £10million in Leeds before and since its buy-out of the club and United recently announced significantly reduced season-ticket prices for the 2013-14 season. That announcement was tempered by news that the first £3.3million raised through season ticket sales will be used to settle the loan which funded the redevelopment of Elland Road’s East Stand in 2011. Parkin, meanwhile, is continuing to push his own interests with a view to replacing GFH Capital as the main shareholder at Elland Road. The chairman of Clipper Logistics was unavailable for comment last night but he is believed to have flown to Dubai at the start of this week as negotiations about his offer for 51 per cent of shares intensified. Parkin has been involved in previous, unsuccessful efforts to buy both Leeds and Bradford City but GFH Capital’s willingness to forego further portions of its stake could help to facilitate an agreement. GFH Capital has confirmed that it is continuing to speak with potential investors having closed out its deal with IIB. We are beginning to have more layers than an onion, but Leeds United FC’s best interest may be better served if Parkin the Yorkshireman gains the majority 51% stake in the club. The fact that he has been travelling to Dubai indicates that a deal may be imminent. But then again this is Leeds United and we don’t do things easy nor quickly.

Weds 27th of March. Warnock “wanted” Adkins for Leeds. NEIL Warnock last night revealed how he spoke with Nigel Adkins and urged him to pursue the manager’s job at Leeds United prior to Adkins’ appointment as Reading’s new boss. Warnock said he and Adkins discussed the soon-to-be-vacant post at Elland Road more than two weeks ago and claimed the 48-year-old was “definitely interested” in succeeding him as manager of Leeds. Adkins was seen as a leading candidate to replace Warnock, who remains in charge of United but will leave the club before his contract expires in June, but Reading unveiled the ex-Southampton  yesterday, filling a vacancy created by Brian McDermott’s recent sacking. Adkins has taken control of a Reading squad who are seven points from safety in the Premier League and headed for relegation to the Championship, 12 months after winning promotion. The YEP understands that Leeds – once again the subject of intense takeover speculation – took a keen interest in Adkins following his dismissal by Southampton in January but did not hold formal talks with him, even after his period of gardening leave from St Mary’s ended. Adkins’ unexpected availability made him a viable option for United but yesterday’s announcement left McDermott, Paulo Di Canio and Gus Poyet as the most prominent alternatives to their existing manager. The odds about former Bolton Wanderers boss Owen Coyle coming to Elland Road, meanwhile, shortened sharply in the aftermath of Adkins’ deal with Reading. Warnock told the YEP: “I spoke to Nigel a few weeks ago and told him what a great club Leeds are – what a great opportunity it would be for him here. The club need an outstanding candidate and I think you’d put him in that category. But he’s obviously weighed everything up and decided that Reading’s the best move for him. “To be fair to Reading, they’re a well-run and established club and he’ll be safe even if they come down. Then he’ll have money, a good squad and every chance of getting them back up. I can see the appeal but I think he’d have been great for Leeds too.” Asked if Adkins had been interested in the job at Elland Road, Warnock said: “Absolutely. He was definitely interested. But then you don’t really need to sell Leeds United to anyone. The club sells itself.” Despite his apparent enthusiasm, Adkins is believed to have harboured concerns about the stability of Leeds amid an on-going attempt by local businessman Steve Parkin to buy a 51 per cent stake from United’s current owner, GFH Capital. GFH Capital purchased a 100 per cent shareholding from club chairman Ken Bates just three months ago but Parkin is engaged in advanced negotiations with the firm’s parent company, Gulf Finance House, having been approached for investment by GFH Capital shortly after its takeover on December 21. If Colin was that keen on having Adkins installed as Leeds new manager why didn’t he jump ship before it “was mathematically impossible” to reach the play offs.

Thursday March 21st Warnock: The highs and lows of his time with Leeds United – from The Scratching Shed It’s been 13 months since he took over from Simon Grayson, and most of us weren’t too sure about his appointment. In that respect, nothing’s changed, but with our play-off hopes virtually non-existent, Neil Warnock has said he’s willing to leave at the end of the season as soon as it’s mathematically impossible for Leeds to go up and is discussing his successor. During his time at Elland Road, Warnock has had a few bright moments, but there have been plenty of reasons to consider his appointment a monumental failure. He had a great record of winning promotion with the likes of Sheffield United, but it’s out of the question here. Now that he’s going, we’ll look back on his ups and downs.Cup upsets galore We might have been disappointing in the league, but when it didn’t matter so much against Premier League opposition, we performed. Our wins against Everton in the League Cup and the 2-1 victory against Tottenham in the FA Cup were both memorable, not least because Luke Varney actually scored in the latter!Byram: the next Gary Kelly? At the start of this season, Warnock decided to give young Sam Byram a chance. Having to cover for the ineptitude of the rest of our defence, he has excelled as a full-back and is probably going to get sold in the summer for a few million to help pay for the renovated East Stand. Attendances falling Ticket prices upwards of £35 didn’t help, but under Warnock, the crowds got smaller and smaller. The fact that we have performed abjectly at times has contributed to that. Losing to Huddersfield This was the nail in the coffin of our unlikely promotion challenge, but losing to an out-of-form Huddersfield is unforgiveable. Losing leads late on against Leicester and Crystal Palace weren’t useful either. Defence? What defence? Under Grayson, we struggled to defend. The same goes for Warnock’s side, even though he came to us with a reputation for organising solid teams and getting the most out of limited players. Takeover chaos We all wanted Bates out, but the drawn-out takeover saga didn’t help Warnock to get better players in. This meant we were stuck with the likes of Michael Brown and resigned to mid-table obscurity or even flirting with relegation. The new owners appear to have no money and therefore no ambition, which has contributed to the current malaise. Things could have been better for Warnock, and he hasn’t had too much luck since he joined us. The fact that he was harshly sacked by QPR, who are actually now fighting for their own lives in the Premier League and are 1/8 to be relegated with Ladbrokes, might still be on his mind, and he had higher hopes for us, but it hasn’t worked out.
Thursday 21st.  Fresh twist in battle for control of Whites –  Leon Wobschall YEP.  (This is a very good article) Owners deny reports they are seeking to sell the club but their future is far from certain. Exactly three months ago today, GFH Capital officially took over at Leeds United. But the contented smiles among Whites fans that December day have now been replaced by furrowed brows and widespread bewilderment. Today, confusion reigns more than ever with thousands of supporters wondering just what is going on behind the scenes at their football club and what are the motives of the Dubai-based private equity group. This despite yesterday’s attempt by GFH Capital to clarify its position after it was revealed in the end-of-year financial statements of their parent company Gulf Finance House (GFH) of its formal intention to start negotiations to sell the club. To add to the confusion, reports last night suggested that GFH had all-but completed the sale of the club – with the bidders to take over led by local businessman and multi-millionaire Steve Parkin, who is said to be working on the deal with potential partners from the Middle East. Parkin, who famously tried to buy United back in 2004, declined to comment when contacted by the YEP. But it is believed that talks remain ongoing and that while a deal has not yet been concluded, it could be shortly. It is understood that the bidders are dealing with GFH and not its 100 per cent subsidiary GFH Capital, with GFH Capital acting CEO Salem Patel and deputy David Haigh – both United club directors – seemingly sidelined from the potential deal. Parkin is a figure well known on the Yorkshire business scene. Alongside a previous bid to purchase Leeds, he was also linked with a move to purchase Bradford City and the Bradford Bulls to form a joint sporting club in a new stadium back in 2011. He is the chairman of Brighouse-based distribution firm Clipper Logistics, a company with a £200m turnover, 28 distributions and 2,500 staff. Talk of United being back on the market had intensified after details of GFH’s financial statement for the year to December 31, 2012 were revealed. Part of the statement read: “The group has an active plan to sell its stake in LUFC Holdings (company which owns LUFC) and accordingly the assets and liabilities acquired were classified as held for sale and presented in the consolidated statement of financial position. Subsequent to the year end, GFH has commenced negotiations relating to the sale of its stake in LUFC Holdings.”But then came a separate GFH Capital statement yesterday afternoon. Part of which was at odds with the above and only added to the sense of perplexity. It stated: “Gulf Finance House (GFH), parent company of Leeds United FC owner GFH Capital, published its financial audited report that stated it was looking to sell its stake in the club. “To clarify and as previously stated, GFH Capital is looking for investment in part of its share in the club, not its entirety. GFH Capital has been transparent since acquiring Leeds United and is continuing to look for strategic investors in part of the club that can invest in Leeds United, alongside GFH Capital, to ensure a long term, sustainable future.”What can be gleaned is that while GFH seem willing to sell up lock, stock and barrel, GFH Capital – it’s 100 per cent subsidiary – only wish to sell a part stake of around 30 per cent. Yesterday’s call for further investment and message that they are in it for the long haul is the same one which GFH Capital made after rejecting a bid for a majority stake in the club on February 10 – less than nine weeks after taking over. It remains to be seen what happens next regarding United’s future – up in the air on the pitch and off it with the managerial issue also looming increasingly large for the club’s owners, with the countdown to boss Neil Warnock’s departure having already begun. As it stands, despite the attempts by GFH Capital to clarify matters regarding their ownership intentions, cynicism is sure to abound among supporters. It is all a far cry from last December when, just four days before Christmas, there was real hope among the Leeds faithful that the club had indeed turned the corner with GFH Capital taking over the Elland Road reins from Ken Bates. But the honeymoon period has not lasted long. And supporters are yet to be convinced that a brighter future is in the offing. The admission from United’s new owners that they were seeking strategic investors so soon after taking control only fuelled further doubts about their long-term ability to fund the club – and they refuse to go away. Patel, GFH Capital’s chief investment officer, has previously alluded to cashflow shortfalls, pointing to the previous regime’s mortgaging of season-ticket money to financial firm Ticketus in order to receive £5m up front to pay for East Stand refurbishment work. Patel has also spoken about GFH Capital being effectively hamstrung by funds being committed to building projects, which have heightened their appeal for investment. Yesterday’s statement did confirm that from the GFH Capital point of view, at least, there is an intention to continue to financially support the club. They revealed how an injection of around £10m in funding has already been spent since December – both to strengthen the first-team squad and provide working capital. But it is clear that new investment remains a priority and with talk of supposed new owners holding advanced talks with parent company GFH, it raises the very real possibility that Mr Patel and his GFH Capital team may yet be sidelined before they get the chance to develop the club any further.

Thursday March 21st.  Owners must put fans in picture over plans for future by Peter Lorimer. The Championship play-offs are now looking very unlikely and realistically the club and Neil Warnock will have to look at their side of things and make some decisions in the near future.If the owners do not have anyone in mind to take over, Neil is a safe hand on the tiller. No new man, if he comes in, is going to change things and get us up between now and the end of the season, you would have thought. This was Neil’s last managerial challenge to get a team up to the Premier League. While I am not prepared to completely write the season off as stranger things have happened – look at Nottingham Forest who have come up into the play-off positions from out of nowhere, our chances are, however, slim. Looking at the season as a whole, I am bitterly disappointed for the supporters.  There was a lot of optimism at the start of the year, while I, myself, was optimistic that we had a chance at the start of the season. But it just has not worked out. All that fans are bothered about is the way forward and now we just need a bit of guidance in terms of where we are going from here. That is what fans want to know and what the owners at the club have got to come up with. We thought this year was going to be the way forward on the pitch. If it isn’t, as seems likely, fans will want to know what the plan is for next season. In football, there is always another year. But we were so hopeful this season.However, you can look back at a lot of things as to why it has not quite happened for us. We had injuries in early season, for instance and lost Paul Green, David Norris, Rodolph Austin and Ross McCormack.losing them was a bit of a jolt while the takeover taking four or five months was not a big help to anyone either. It proved a difficult period. It just has not happened for us. That’s football; there are so many teams looking for those three places into the Premier League and there is no easy passage, you have to remember that. Looking at the past week, it was a massive one on the pitch and we had to be looking at getting six points against Peterborough and Huddersfield so it was very disappointing to get just one. We have not been consistent enough to get the amount of points that we require and now we are running out of games, unfortunately. But what people must remember is that the gamble of getting to the Premier League is such a financially big thing. Look at Leicester, just a few weeks ago, they announced losses of nearly £33m. The money that some teams chuck about to get into the top flight is unbelievable. To be quite honest, you do become quite fearful for a lot of clubs for it is such a gamble to throw vast amounts of money at getting promoted. A number of great clubs have had their problems.You look at what has happened at Portsmouth, for instance, who now have the real possibility of going down to the bottom division, which could destroy them. It shows what can happen if you take big gambles; it is quite frightening really. Look at us and what happened not too many years ago when we got carried away. Many thought other teams would take heed of that example, but it does not seem to be the case. the sacking of Michael Appleton at Blackburn Rovers has made a lot of headlines this week and like everyone else, I was shocked. This sort of thing is not good for the game and is more bad publicity for football at a time when we don’t need it. Let’s be fair, over the past 12 months, Blackburn have not been a good advert for a football club, with all the comings and goings on the management side and other things happening there. Once again, the one set of people you feel sorry for are the fans. They are the ones who have been through it all and go along every week. The lack of patience is not good, especially from some of the foreign owners who invest at football clubs. Unfortunately, they do not know the game of football here and what it is all about. They do not seem to know that while every year, 24 clubs in a league set off wanting to be successful and get promoted to the Premier League, only a few can. Just because someone comes in and puts a few quid in does not mean you automatically assume success. Yes you have guessed it again. The Lash wins the muppet of the week award yet again.Over the past weeks and months he eulagised about the great job that Warnock was doing, and no later than last week he claimed that we would sneak into the play offs. He has a go at Blackburn Rvs and Leicester City who have wated millions  and yet fails to mention Swansea, Norwich and Blackpool who have won promotion from this division in the past few seasons due to getting their budge right on the field.  He doesn’t mention his former paymaster, Ken Bates who wasted millions on an East Stand that may be full once a year if we are lucky, whilst top talent like Howson, Gradel, Snodgrass, Becchio and Beckford were sold on or released due to lack of ambition. What a Muppet !

Weds 23rd. GFH statement. Leeds United owners GFH Capital have reiterated
their desire to attract strategic investors to the club and denied they plan to sell up, GFHCapitaldespite their parent company saying otherwise. A statement issued by GFH Capital said: “Gulf Finance House (GFH), parent company of Leeds United FC owner GFH Capital, published its financial audited report that stated it was looking to sell its stake in the club. “To clarify and as previously stated, GFH Capital is looking for investment in part of its share in the club, not its entirety. “GFH Capital has been transparent since acquiring Leeds United and is continuing to look for strategic investors in part of the club that can invest in Leeds United, alongside GFH Capital, to ensure a long term, sustainable future.”Since GFH Capital took ownership of Leeds United it has fulfilled its promise of investing in the club, with already around £10M having been injected into the club, to strengthen the team and for other working capital purposes. Additional financial support shall be provided as required”.The statement followed reports that Bahrain-based Gulf Finance House had given formal notice that they had started talks to sell the club, which they only purchased on December 21. GFH state in their financial accounts for the year to December 31, 2012: “The group has an active plan to sell its stake in LUFC Holdings Limited, and accordingly, the asset and liabilities acquired were classified as held for sale and presented in the consolidated statement of financial position. “Subsequent to the year end, the group has commenced negotiations relating to the sale of its stake in LUFC Holdings Limited.” A consortium involving Yorkshire businessman Steve Parkin – thought to have been at the forefront of a failed bid to purchase a majority stake in United last month -have been linked with a fresh offer. Paper doesn’t refuse ink. There is no doubt that GFH are actively looking to flip their investment. The sooner the better for all Leeds fans.

Weds March 20th 2013.  What we now know that we didn’t know – by GC 


Happier times and bigger promises

1. Although reports last year valued the takeover of Leeds United at about £52m, Gulf Finance House has revealed subsidiary GFH Capital paid just £22m ($33.2m), a figure which it said was a “bargain purchase”. It added: “The bargain purchase was due to pressure on the sellers (Ken Bates)  to exit their holdings due to change in their business plans.”
2. GFH were “seeking strategic investors” for the club having bought LUFC with “their own cash plus cash from institutional investors and smaller strategic investors”. GFH now want to “Flip” club for a 33% profit, earning them approximately £7M three months after acquiring the club. This backs up their statement : that “it has an active plan to sell the club and make a return on its bargain purchase”.
3. Before the takeover, GFH put in £2M as working capital and not the £4M mooted.
4. The now well known cash flow problem with Leeds is because of “almost £13M spent on building projects financed by selling things forward” by Ken Bates.
5. Bates mortgaged season-ticket money to Ticketus for this season and next, receiving £5m up front to pay for refurbishing work in the East Stand. Bates also sold the catering rights for five years, Leeds receiving £2m plus a profit share from Compass catering, and as recently as October the club borrowed £1.5m at 7% interest from the club’s sponsor, Enterprise Insurance.
6. GFH had “preferred to sell 30% to reduce their exposure” and not a complete sell out. They allegedly  turned down a 100% offer from a Yorkshire consortium already. It is widely believed that they haven’t the working capital to bring the club “to the next level”.
7. GFH originally declared they didn’t want  to make “a small term profit” for fear of missing what they perceive to be between “£150M and £200M if the club makes it to the Premier League”. Were they fooled by the hype that Neil Warnock would deliver Premiership football on the cheap ? Possibly.
8. Ken Bates has “been paid in full” for his share of Leeds United.
9. GFH said that their man, Warnock “will be replaced by young manager whether that is immediately or at the end of the season”. This clearly was envisaged at the end of the season. His best quote only a fortninght ago : “I came at a difficult time, but given what has gone on behind the scenes over the past 12 months I think I deserve a medal, if I’m honest.”
10. The best option for Leeds is that a 100% owned Yorkshire consortium (possibly compromised of Parkin/Pearson) buys the club from GFH for circa £25M and sack Warnock immediately with Nigel Adkins installed as the new manager. The club regroups and invests £12M in the Summer for an assault on the Championship for season 2013/14.

11. What price a picture on Ken Bates face if they flip the club and make a quick buck at his expense ?


Weds March 20th. GFH and Leeds United. Leeds United are up for sale less than three months after Dubai-based owner GFH Capital completed its purchase of the Championship club. The annual report for Gulf Finance House, the parent company of GFH Capital, has revealed it has an “active plan” to sell the club and make a return on its “bargain purchase”. GFH Capital purchased the club from majority shareholder Ken Bates at the end of 2012 and confirmed in February that it had received several investment offers since its takeover. However, despite maintaining that the takeover was a long-term commitment, Gulf Finance House’s financial report has revealed that Leeds United remain an asset which is “held-for-sale”. The investor’s report said: “The group has an active plan to sell its stake in LUFC Holdings Ltd [the Cayman Island-registered company set up to buy the club], and accordingly, the asset and liabilities acquired were classified as held-for-sale and presented in the consolidated statement of financial position. “Subsequent to the year end, the group has commenced negotiations relating to the sale of its stake in LUFC Holdings Ltd.” Although reports last year valued the takeover of Leeds United at about £52m, Gulf Finance House has revealed subsidiary GFH Capital paid just £22m ($33.2m), a figure which it said was a “bargain purchase”. It added: “The bargain purchase was due to pressure on the sellers to exit their holdings due to change in their business plans.” In February, it was revealed that GFH Capital had rejected an unnamed Yorkshire-based consortium’s offer to acquire a majority stake in Leeds United. Reports at the time suggested the club’s owner was more willing to sell a 30 per cent stake. Insider also reported last month that Gulf Finance House posted net profit of $10m (£6.6m) for the year to 31 December 2012. Speaking at the time, the firm’s acting chief executive Hisham Alrayes hailed the Leeds deal as an example of the bank’s diversifying approach. He said: “GFH has undertaken new investments, Leeds United FC being one of them, which indicates the bank’s entrepreneurial initiatives in exploring new area of investments and establishing new standards. These should prove to be successful milestones for the bank.” Leeds United had a turnover of £31.1m for the year to 30 June 2012, down from £32.7m a year earlier. The club slipped to an operating loss of £3.3m, compared with a profit of £939,000 in 2011


Graffiti says it all

Tues 19th. It looks like GFH haven’t a penny. This is taken from Reuters. They are desperately trying to spin their investment. LONDON (Reuters) – The Middle Eastern owner of Leeds United has signaled that it is in talks to sell the former English Premier League football club it bought only in December. LONDON (Reuters) – The Middle Eastern owner of Leeds United has signaled that it is in talks to sell the former English Premier League football club it bought only in December. Dubai-based GFH Capital purchased the club from majority shareholder Ken Bates at the end of last year after negotiations that lasted for several months. GFH Capital board member Salem Patel told a news conference at the time that it would not spend “crazy money” to restore the Championship (second division) club to the elite Premier League. Accounts published last month by GFH Capital’s parent, Bahrain firm Gulf Finance House show that the new owner is preparing a swift exit. “The Group has an active plan to sell its stake in LUFC Holdings Limited, and accordingly, the asset and liabilities acquired were classified as held-for-sale and presented in the consolidated statement of financial position,” Gulf Finance House said in end-year financial statements dated Feb 21, 2013. It added that it had begun negotiations related to the sale of its stake since the end of last year. BARGAIN PURCHASE The accounts show a net cash payment of $33.226 million to buy t“the bargain purchase was due to pressure on the sellers to exit their holdings due to change in their business plans.” Leeds, which last won the English league title in 1992, are currently in 10th place in the Championship, outside the play-off spots for a lucrative Premier League spot. Contacted by Reuters, GFH Capital deputy chief executive David Haigh declined to comment, referring queries to the club.The club declined direct comment but pointed to an article published in the Guardian newspaper last month which said the new owner was seeking investors and would prefer to sell a 30 percent stake. It would consider selling a majority if the buyer had the funds to bring success, the report added. In a message to fans on Leeds’ website dated February 10, GFH Capital said it had rejected an offer for a majority stake in the club. “Although we continue to seek strategic investors, we will only bring on board those who we feel can make a positive contribution to the sustainable success of Leeds United.”

Tuesday 19th of March. Muppet of the week award. This award for the 120th consecutive week goes to Peter “The Lash Lorimer”, reference article on Thursday March 14th. Next week he hopes to continue from where he left off  : “Don’t give up hope the season isn’t over” to providing conclusive evidence that the Easter Bunny, Father Christmas and The Tooth Fairy all exist and one of them is being lined up as we speak to become the new Leeds United manager. If you haven’t yet discovered the world where “The Lash” resides, just google “Ken Bates was misunderstood by Leeds fans” and “I was never in it for the money” – all written by “The Lash” Lorimer.

Tuesday 19th of March. Names in the frame to succeed Warnock at Leeds –  By Leon Wobschall YEP. LEEDS United’s competitive season may pretty much be over with eight Championship games still to go, but there remains one looming ‘live’ issue which is dominating supporters’ attentions and is refusing to go away. No prizes for guessing what it is. Neil Warnock’s long-term successor. The merits of numerous runners and riders are already being discussed vigorously on various messageboards and chatrooms, although it remains to be seen how far club owners GFH Capital are currently down the line regarding plans to bring in a replacement for Warnock. If at all, with the only brief clue regarding the key issue have come via GFH chief investment officer club director Salem Patel back in February when he stated that the club would be looking for a “young manager” to succeed Warnock. Whenever that may be.  If most fans had their way, it would be sooner rather than later with Warnock now planning for life after Elland Road – and full-time football management – with his dreams of a record eighth promotion of his career having all but bitten the dust in the wake of Saturday’s derby loss to Huddersfield Town. After the game, Warnock announced his willingness to step aside if GFH wanted to bring in a replacement now, with the ball unmistakably in their court regarding the managerial issue. GFH may well elect to twist shortly, but the pragmatic option appears to be to stick for the time being at least, with Warnock willing to fulfil his commitments and stay for the rest of the season. This would effectively give the owners some breathing space and time before making a considered decision on their move, which promises to be a massive decision. Warnock himself has said he expects to be in charge for the trip to Ipswich Town in 11 days’ time and the smart money would appear to be on him being in the dug-out at Portman Road. Unless GFH know otherwise. If the serious background work regarding sounding out replacements for Warnock hasn’t yet started in earnest yet, it will do now this week for GFH with a number of leading names figuring prominently. The one that has plainly refused to go away since his ultra-harsh sacking by Southampton on January 18 is bookies’ and fans’ favourite Nigel Adkins. With two back-to-back promotions on his CV with Saints, Adkins’ credentials are there for all to see.  But don’t think for one moment his accomplishments have drawn just admiring glances from United fans either. Adkins is heading to a tribunal to sort out his compensation from Saints this summer, having failed to reach a compromise with chairman Nicola Cortese over the remaining three years on his contract. The 48-year-old had been placed initially on gardening leave by Saints, but his decision to follow the route to a settlement via the Premier League Managers’ Arbitration Tribunal has now freed him up to seek fresh employment. Given that, time could well be of the essence regarding any successful move by United, with the Liverpudlian also strongly linked with the vacant managerial hotseat at Reading, who parted company with Brian McDermott last week. Another name figuring in the betting is a controversial, if colourful character in former Swindon Town chief Paolo Di Canio, who left the County Ground last month in somewhat acrimonious circumstances after 20 months of success in Wiltshire where he achieved promotion from League Two with the Robins and left them well placed for a second successive promotion. Di Canio has made it known he wants to manage either in the Championship or Premier League. But only this weekend he insisted there was ‘no story’ in speculation linking him to Reading and West Ham and for many, he represents a somewhat left-field option. Gareth Southgate’s prominent place in the betting in the list of runners and riders to take over from Warnock is somewhat of a surprise, with the former England defender having been out of frontline management for three-and-half years since his tenure at Middlesbrough was abruptly ended in October 2009. At the end of last year, Southgate, whose family home is in Harrogate, has previously spoken about having a point to prove after his axing at Boro. The appointment of Southgate at the Riverside caused controversy in 2006 despite not having the necessary qualifications to coach in the Premier League. But he was given special dispensation to take over and the 42-year-old has now subsequently completed all his coaching badges after very much having to learn on the job during the early years of his time on Teesside. Southgate – who last year turned down a technical director’s role at the Football Association – currently combines coaching work with media duties with ITV, a comfortable life in comparison to the exacting task of managing a club like Leeds. Gus Poyet’s name is one well known to United’s supporters, with his switch from assistant-boss to manager during his fruitful time on the south coast at Brighton having been seamless. But with the Seagulls pushing for promotion to the top-flight and that fact that the Uruguayan’s deal at the Amex Stadium does not run out until the summer of 2016, a move would appear remote with United potentially faced with paying a considerable fee to Brighton. That is presuming Poyet, 45, would want to try his hand again up north in the first place after spending 12 months as Dennis Wise’s no.2 at Leeds from October 2006 to October 2007.

Tuesday March 19th Don’t Panic Mr. Haigh, Don’t Panic! – From To Ell and Back.Org Leeds United boss Neil Warnock has urged GFH not to panic as they begin their search for a new manager, and says they need to take their time and make sure they can find the right man to take the club forward. On Saturday Warnock confirmed that he is ready to step down in the aftermath of yet another disappointing result as we lost at home to Huddersfield, though he says that he should hang around for the time being to help the club’s new owners choose his successor. Realistically, this latest defeat has left us with no chance of making the play-offs, as we’re seven points behind with a far inferior goal difference, and Warnock had previously said he wouldn’t continue if we weren’t in the Premier League next season. Our current playing record is strictly mid-table, with 14 wins and 14 defeats during the season, yet Warnock is still insisting that he will be leaving the club in a heathly state, with only a couple more signings needed to build a side that could challenge for promotion next season.  He told the Yorkshire Post “They’re in a situation now where the club is geared for the Premier League.” And he thinks that with better backing off the field things could have been very different this time.”The new owners have come in, it was the longest takeover I’ve ever known, I expected that to be finalised last August, so it has been a difficult eight or nine months for me. I wanted to give it a go to get in the Premier League because it’s a fabulous club and I still think with a little bit more fortune and a bit more investment at the right time we could have been there. “To lose Snodgrass was a major blow. He was the only player I didn’t want to lose. We’ve never quite replaced that quality. It’s frustrating for me.”And despite the frustrations of the current season, he thinks the board need his advice to choose his successor. “I don’t want them to panic and get anybody. I’ve seen some of the people putting their hat in the ring and quite honestly I think the club should be patient. I’ve got a couple of ideas of who they should be going for if that’s the case, but let’s see what happens. I want them to get the best manager they can get to replace me and some of them might not be available until the summer.” That might be an indication that the man he has in mind is Nigel Adkins, who can’t take the job right now as he is still trying to sort out his compensation after his harsh sacking by Southampton. Hopefully that will be resolved by the time Warnock’s contract expires at the end of June, in which case the timing might suit all parties. Warnock can keep going as the season runs down until he can pick up his pension, and we can get a manager with a proven record at this level without having to poach him off another club. What can possibly go wrong?

Sat 16th of March 2013. RIP Leeds season 2012/13 Leeds 1-2 Huddersfield Town. 01 Kenny 02 Peltier  04 Lees 15 Warnock 07 Green (White – 58′ ) 08 Austin 11 Varney 18 Tonge 25 Byram  21 Diouf 22 Habibou Booked (Hall – 58′ ) Unused Subs : 12 Ashdown 05 Pearce 17 Brown 19 Norris  32 Dawson. Report by By Phil Hay at Elland Road JAMES Vaughan scored in the dying moments of a dramatic West Yorkshire derby to hand Huddersfield Town a 2-1 win over Leeds United. The striker’s late finish settled a lively encounter at Elland Road and inflicted potentially fatal damage on Leeds’ faltering bid to reach the Championship play-offs. United had recovered from Neil Danns’s opener to level through Aidan White but Vaughan’s goal left them with no time to hit back again. United had the better of the opening exchanges and Luke Varney saw a header hacked against the crossbar but James Vaughan rattled the frame of the goal at the other end of the field as Town fought back. The visitors survived an immediate scare when Varney met Stephen Warnock’s fourth-minute corner and forced Peter Clarke to drive his header against the underside of the bar. Sam Byram attempted to bury the rebound but saw his follow-up blocked. The derby was typically feisty and Habib Habibou – making his full debut for Leeds – picked up the game’s first booking for a cynical foul on Paul Dixon after only six minutes, but United went close again as Alex Smithies reacted brilliantly to turn behind a low effort from El-Hadji Diouf. Varney was more wayward with another good chance from close range, slicing the ball high into the crowd, and Huddersfield took time to create any opportunities of their own as Vaughan toiled alone up front.They finally threatened when ex-Leeds academy player Danny Ward crossed from the left wing and picked out Vaughan who smashed a free header against the bar from point-blank range. Ward then went close with a deflected shot as Huddersfield grew in confidence and Paddy Kenny produced a fine save to deny the midfielder in injury-time as the clash remained finely balanced at the break.The second half took time to reproduce the intensity of the first but Huddersfield snatched the lead on 55 minutes amid poor defending from their hosts. Vaughan reacted first to his own blocked shot to head the ball into space inside United’s box, and Danns crashed home an acrobatic volley to put Town in front. Leeds manager Neil Warnock reacted quickly by withdrawing the ineffective Habib Habibou and Paul Green and introducing White and Ryan Hall, and White equalised as Jack Hunt failed to cut out a long ball from Tom Lees. The game became end-to-end after that as both sides pushed for a winner and Paddy Kenny maintained parity by pushing away Danny Ward’s volley. Leeds, meanwhile, had a penalty claim turned down when Peter Clarke bundled into Luke Varney 12 yards from goal. Sam Byram headed an El-Hadji Diouf corner wide from a good position and Austin was desperately unlucky to see a fierce volley smash against the crossbar, hit the back of Town goalkeeper Alex Smithies and rolled to safety. And Town stunned Elland Road three minutes from time when Vaughan ran onto Jack Hunt’s through ball and curled a close-range finish around Kenny. Warnock : “Realistically we’re running out of games and (the owners) GFH know my situation, I speak to them on a regular basis. “Once we’re out of contention for the Premier League they know I won’t be having another year in the Championship. “They’ve got to look after themselves really. We’ve spoken about my successor, about people coming in if mathematically it’s impossible to get into the play-offs. “I’d like to think that I’d have an input on that because the job we’ve done over the last 12 months, the staff and I, I think is fantastic. “Yes I’m frustrated because we just lack that bit of quality, a bit of midfield creativity and a bit of pace. “We’ve sorted everything else out, but haven’t been able to sort that out and it catches up with you.” On today’s defeat, Warnock added: “I’m obviously disappointed, but I can’t fault the players, they put everything in. “We’ve had so many opportunities now over the last six to eight weeks to be 10 or 12 points better off. “The problem is we’re always chasing the points to get back in there. It almost felt like a fatal defeat today because of the points situation. “I’d love to come in and blame the players, but they’re a great bunch, they couldn’t give me more.” One question. Does he leave the squad in a better position than when he arrived ? No he definitely doesn’t. The side is shite and full of shite signings and the money he had was used badly in what was the worst Championship for the past ten seasons. Now stop “mathematically” answering the questions and moving the goal posts and for God’s sake fall on your swords now ! If it isn’t sharp enough McQuaid Tool services in County Mongahan will make sure it will do the job.  Huddersfield manager Mark Robins described his side’s performance as “brilliant” and said the return from a long-term hamstring injury of former Leeds striker Jermaine Beckford had given his squad a big boost.  “I thought it was brilliant,” said Robins. “It was a typical derby game. The referee set his stall out early doors because he booked a couple of players and I thought there might not be 11 players left on the pitch.“We grew into the game. We were resolute in the first half, got ourselves in front and conceded a really poor goal from our perspective because we started to drop (deep) and there was no pressure on the ball.“But we kept our heads and although we were pegged back we were still in the game and although they were throwing bodies forward we dealt with it well.” 

Friday March 15th. Two articles by two former Leeds captains. I’ll let you choose which one is the muppet.

Friday 15th of March 2013. Too little, too late for Leeds United despite mediocrity of rivals – by Dominic Matteo YEP.I’ve stuck my neck out before and been forced to backtrack but I’m sorry to say that the play-offs are out of the question for Leeds United now. Tuesday’s draw with Peterborough killed it – the straw that broke the camel’s back.
I don’t expect Neil Warnock or his players to take the same attitude and I know they’ll fight on for as long as they can but Leeds basically need to win every game now. And I’ve no confidence in them doing that. Even if they do win every game, they’ll still be reliant on other sides blowing up and leaving the door to the play-offs wide open. If I’m being brutally honest, I’m surprised to see Leeds as close to the top six as they are. If the Championship was anything more than a mediocre division, they’d be a lot further back. At the start of this week a blind man could see that wins over Peterborough and Huddersfield were vital. True, every side in the Championship has the ability to be competitive on their day but if you can’t beat Peterborough in front of a home crowd at such a vital stage of the season then you deserve what’s coming. The teams who go up are the teams who turn it on when it matters. You see that every year. In saying that, I’d be hard pushed to pick out one good side in the Championship at the moment. Cardiff City are heading for the title but they’re getting there by being consistent – consistently average. Average seems to be good enough for them and I can see two or three clubs make the Premier League without being particularly special. I dread to think what might happen to them when they start mixing with the big boys next season. So my overriding feeling is that Leeds are on the verge of missing a huge opportunity – another one. I banged on and on last season about how attainable promotion was but the division has gone backwards in the past 12 months, not forwards. Any team coming up this summer should fancy their chances and so will the three coming down. The same rules apply – rise narrowly above the league’s general standard and you won’t be far away. Put an outstanding team together and you’ll smash the league to bits. Some supporters will read this and think I’m negative or defeatist. Leeds do still have a mathematical chance. But I’m trying to be realistic by telling you how it looks to me – as someone who would love Leeds to go up. I see no prospect of promotion whatsoever, despite the fact that Leeds are probably in their most consistent spell of the season. Okay, they struggled in patches against Peterborough and did a lot of huffing and puffing but from what I’ve seen or heard of other recent games, this has been a steady spell with a settled team. Unfortunately, it’s come too late. This sort of run – regular wins at home, points picked up away from home – is what was needed from the start of the season. You’ll often hear it said that someone always arrives late and sneaks into sixth place but Leeds gave themselves too much to do. I’ll be staggered if they win this foot race. The biggest surprise for me has the been the length of time it’s taken Warnock to established a defence who look comfortable and able to play with each other. I honestly thought that a stable defence would be the thing he’d sort out in no time at all. He’s got a reputation for excellent organisation and a reputation for consistency. You always thought that under him, Leeds would be a side who lost occasionally and were permanently there or thereabouts. But in the cold light of day, you analyse his squad and realise that it’s four or five quality players short. I never felt confident about this group doing big things this season and they’re slowly heading for what I think would be a fair position in the final table – around ninth or tenth. And with that sort of finish on the cards, the club are heading into a key period. In the next few weeks they’re going to have to address major issues – the manager, the squad, the budget for the transfer window. To be fair to the new owners, I understand why they’ve avoided wading in and making big decisions straight away. There are an awful lot of things to get right at Elland Road and many things they can’t afford to get wrong. From top to bottom, the club needs a shake up. The season ticket prices announced this week were a good start. As ever, I look at the crowds at Elland Road and draw my own conclusions. A couple of years ago, Leeds were pulling 28,000 through the door. Now we’re impressed if it’s 21,000. The club have to ask themselves where those fans have gone, why they’ve gone and what they can do not only to bring them back but to stop others drifting away. The summer ahead of them is absolutely massive. Another stalemate is likely Saturday’s match is clearly a must-win for Leeds but so was Tuesday’s clash with Peterborough. They drew that match and I can see another stalemate at Elland Road tomorrow. It’s the value option at 23/10. Huddersfield have had a pretty dismal season and could still go down, but Mark Robins, above, was at Elland Road on Tuesday and should have a good idea of what tactics to use. Leeds are likely to be forced into a few changes – which, after six matches unchanged might be for the best and they’ll be under a bit of pressure from the crowd too. Derbies can go either way, but often end in stalemate. The markets to consider closely this weekend are those concerning goals scored or conceded. Huddersfield’s defensive record is horrific particularly away from home. Leeds aren’t prolific but they do create chances so I could see tomorrow’s derby producing more than 3.5 goals.

Thursday March 14th  Don’t give up hope – Peter Lorimer YEP.  Last month, when everyone assumed that Leeds United had no chance at all of making the play-offs, I looked at the situation and saw a different picture. Fair enough, our position in the Championship wasn’t great but you could hardly find an in-form team in or around sixth place. The second half of the season has been hard going for a few clubs. I said after the FA Cup defeat at Manchester City that the fight for promotion wasn’t dead, despite Neil Warnock admitting that a top-six finish looked unlikely and we’re still not out of it, even after Tuesday’s draw with Peterborough. I’m as frustrated as anyone about the points that have gone begging recently but anything’s possible as long as you’re in contention. Exiting the FA Cup at Eastlands was a blessing in disguise as far as I’m concerned. If you look back at our matches in January and early February, you’ll see a lot of changes from game to game. I think Neil felt compelled to switch the team around in an effort to keep things fresh and there was very little continuity. The team is settled now and our results have been more consistent. It’s no coincidence. Squad rotation is a popular concept these days and managers at the highest level like to make full use of their resources but I’ve never really been a fan of it. To me, it’s far better for a player’s confidence and attitude to know that if he plays well one weekend, he’ll keep his shirt the next. Neil seems to have a lot of confidence in the 11 players he’s relied on these last few weeks and those same players must like the fact that their manager is backing them so heavily. Over time, partnerships grow and the side develops a natural rhythm. That usually leads to better performances. There are, of course, times when alterations are needed, be it for tactical reasons or to combat fatigue. Certain players looked jaded on Tuesday and the performance wasn’t brilliant. Perhaps the time for changes has come. We do have decent players among our substitutes –Rodolph Austin, El-Hadji Diouf, Jason Pearce – and they’ll be itching to get a chance. One of the other reasons for my confidence last month was the sudden lack of injuries. As much as the squad at Leeds could do with strengthening in certain areas, our major players were in shape and available. It’s been a long time since anyone was suspended and, although there’s never a good time to lose people to the treatment room, the run-in is when you really want to be at full strength. I’m crossing my fingers that Tom Lees, Steve Morison and Ross McCormack will all make it for Huddersfield on Saturday. It’s been pleasing to go into every weekend knowing that the squad are in rude health. But there’s another positive factor too – a favourable run-in. I’m not going to start talking about easy games, especially after Peterborough, and the Championship is so unpredictable but would you rather be going to Cardiff or Ipswich? Hull City or Charlton? Would you rather Leeds had more game at home or away? I know what answers I’d give. Last week’s trips to Leicester and Crystal Palace were extremely tough but I always thought that if the players came through them in decent shape, they’d have an opportunity to kick on. They won’t come up against any of the top six sides until the last two games of the season, when they play Brighton in what could be a massive game at Elland Road and then travel to Watford. It’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that Watford will be up by then or resigned to a play-off place –- in other words, with nothing to play for on the day. I’m getting ahead of myself, obviously, and dropping two points to Peterborough was a blow but the table isn’t hopeless and I still believe that a top-six finish in the Championship is still there if United’s players want it. Nerves will be kicking in across the country right now and if you’re in the mix then rule nothing out. That applies to the top of the Championship and the bottom. It’s a huge challenge for United to get into the play-offs and then to win them but I’m pleased that the club have got something to aim for in the last nine games. There’s nothing worse than reaching this stage of the season and feeling resigned to a mid-table finish. A club like Leeds need more than that and how this will end, I honestly can’t say. “But I’m not prepared to accept that it’s over yet.

Tuesday 12th of March 2013. Taken from “Through it all together”For the Love of God Neil, Please Go!  (I have to say I couldn’t have put this better myself). As I write this, almost two hours after the final whistle, my blood is still boiling at the inept way that Leeds United tossed away their admittedly slim hopes of making the promotion play-offs. An opening 45 minutes which could quite fairly be described as pathetic was followed by another half of huffing and puffing backed by managerial ineptitude. There was no surprise that Neil Warnock named an unchanged side for the sixth consecutive match, because quite frankly with a squad that has such a paucity of talent, the manager has little other choice. The only change to the match day 18 came on the bench where El-Hadji Diouf returned in place of Ryan Hall, an attacker with pace replaced by the pedestrian Senegal international. Peterborough started the night in the bottom three and Leeds will have been confident before the kick off, particularly given the two hard fought points earned against Leicester and Crystal Palace on the road in the previous seven days. However in 2013, the two sides form was identical, making the three points far from the formality most people were expecting. To say Leeds were abysmal in the opening 15 minutes was being exceptionally kind. By the time Dwight Gayle had put the Posh in front, he had already hit the crossbar as Leeds looked all over the place at the back, toothless and directionless in midfield and lacking any threat in attack. Tom Lees was replaced by Jason Pearce, the England U21 international apparently picking up a knock, adding a whole new air of panic to the Leeds defence. In midfield David Norris was anonymous in terms of coherent possession, instead seemingly happy to just run away from the ball as if he was playing some form of dodgeball. He was safe in that respect with the passing of Paul Green and Michael Tonge, neither player looking capable of hitting anyone with a ball, so wayward were there attempts.  Future “legend” Steve Morison was missing in action whilst Luke Varney and Ross McCormack continued their ineffective wide roles. The three of them seem no clearer as to what their responsibilities are or how to work as a trio, six matches into their triumvirate. Leeds did at least start to apply some pressure as the half wore on, but it was Peterborough who looked the most likely, bar a remarkable miss by Jason Pearce who headed wide with the goal gaping. The second half saw a real rarity, a tactical substitution, with Diouf replacing the stauesque Morison. However even at full tilt, Diouf would struggle to outpace a geriatric sloth, so all the pace was taken out of the Whites attack. Surely to McCormack’s frustration it appeared that Diouf and Varney would rotate the central role, the Scottish international left to plough a furrow out wide. Leeds did pile on the pressure, Peterborough cracking when Sam Byram latched on to a Steven Warnock corner to force the ball in for the equaliser. It’s a telling statistic that the goal and assist, and our two best players on the night, were provided by our fullbacks. Despite Leeds being on top, clearcut chances were at a premium for the home side, and Peterborough were far more dangerous on the break, with Warnock Jr and Green both lucky to escape with yellow cards for fouls when Peterborough players were clean through. With Leeds needing a goal to bring the three points required, it was surely time for Warnock to gamble by throwing on the unpredictability of Habib Habibou. However the usual lack of ambition was emphasized by the decision to swap headless chicken Norris with the brainless shooting of Rodolph Austin, a like for like substitution showing a complete lack of tactical acumen or will to win. Leeds did get that one chance they needed to snatch the win, but once again it fell to a centre back and Pearce again headed wide as the clock ticked beyond the 90 minutes. So just a point that begs the question what is the point of Warnock persisting in charge. He has spoken more than once of his desire to retire to Cornwall, and I am sure there would be plenty of volunteers to drive him there. With the last nine games now appearing meaningless, why not hand the reigns to Neil Redfern and Richard Naylor to guide the ship, with a few youthful crew members, to the end of the season and allow the board to identify then man to take Leeds United forward. (I don’t agree with that scenario)Whoever it is needs time to identify fresh faces to bring in to improve our squad of generally incompetent has-beens assembled by quite possibly the most ineffective manager I have had the misfortune of seeing lead this great club. Enough is enough, the season is dead and it’s time to put us and Neil Warnock out of our misery and end this sham marriage. It has been a dismal 12 months and need be prolonged no more.

Tues March 12th 2013. LEEDS 1 (Byram 56), PETERBOROUGH 1 (Gayle 15)Leeds: Kenny, Byram, Peltier, Lees (Pearce 26), Warnock, Green, Tonge, Norris (Austin 80), Varney, Morison, McCormack. Subs: Ashdown, White, Brown, Austin, Diouf, Habibou. Referee: S Hooper Att: 24,240 (331 Peterborough) Report from Leeds official website. United manager Neil Warnock named an unchanged team for the sixth game in succession, the first time Leeds had named the same starting XI for so many games in succession since the start of the 1992/93 season. Leeds were five unbeaten going into the game, and it was Michael Tonge who had the first sight of goal when he had a shot from distance saved by Robert Olejnik. But United were 1-0 down after 15 minutes when Dwight Gayle latched on to a long ball forward from the goalkeeper before delivering a good finish past Paddy Kenny. United had to re-arrange shortly after the goal when, after receiving treatment on an injury, Tom Lees was replaced by Jason Pearce. It took Leeds almost half-an-hour to get a foothold in the game and the first real spell of pressure put the visitors on the back foot, Ross McCormack having a shot blocked. Peterborough responded by moving the ball well on the break again and the ball was cleared from Kane Ferdinand with Kenny stranded. Moments later it was United who should have scored, Jason Pearce heading over the bar from close range after great work by McCormack. Steve Morison also dragged a shot wide of the upright moments before the half-time whistle.Warnock made his second substitution at half-time, El-Hadji Diouf replacing Morison, a player who the manager had said played through the pain barrier at Leicester and Crystal Palace. But it was Peterborough who had the first opportunity of the second half when Gayle again found space to lead a quick break, and his shot was just wide of the upright. United were back on level terms of 56 minutes, though, when Sam Byram arrived late at the back post to apply the finishing touch to an inswinging corner. The goal was deserved but, while it was United who were dominating in terms of possession, Peterborough were an ever present threat on the break. The visitors moved the ball quickly to break at every oportunity and as the game headed into the final 20 minutes it was finely balanced. Both Michael Tonge and McCormack had shots blocked and there was more than one shout in vain for a penalty as the ball pinged around the Peterborough box. With 14 minutes remaining, Luke Varney did find a way through when he finished off a good move by stroking the ball past Olejnik, only to see his effort ruled out by an offside flag. At the other end, it was Kenny who came to United’s rescue with eight minutes remaining when he made a terrific save from Gayle after the Peterborough man looked to capitalise on a defensive error. It was United who piled on the pressure, though, as the clock ticked down, but the visitors got men behind the ball and made some vital blocks. Neil Warnock : “Every game at home you draw is two points dropped, but we’d got 10 games to get the points and I feel we’re capable of winning away from home now as well. “It’s not going to be the ones you think maybe where you drop points or pick them up. You can’t dwell if you drop anything. We’ve got Huddersfield now on Saturday and that’s a cracker.”There’s 27 points left and we’re in a lot better situation than we were two months ago. It’s just frustrating that we’re not a little bit better off. We’ve got to look at Saturday now.” “I was disappointed with how we started. “I thought the forwards were sloppy – we didn’t win a header or get a challenge in – then we went a goal down and the crowd got a bit tentative, but I thought we coped with that well.” Darren Ferguson felt his side dropped two vital points : “It’s a bad result for a team in our position,” “Under normal circumstances you’d take a 1-1 draw at a place like Leeds, but we need wins and we missed a great opportunity to get one here. “The game panned out just as we had expected and hoped for. We sucked them onto us in the first 20 minutes and continually caught them out on the break. “We hit the bar before we took the lead, but you always need a second goal and we had the chances to get it. Kane Ferdinand missed a good chance in the first-half and Dwight Gayle missed one at the start of the second-half. “Leeds did put us under a lot of pressure either side of half-time, but it was a bad goal that we conceded from a set-piece.“But then we rolled our sleeves up and had a right go at them. We went toe-to-toe with another good, strong side and matched them blow for blow. We always tried to win the game and I’m disappointed that we didn’t.“That had to be a penalty and a red card at the end of the game, but the referee is only human and I doubt he would have got out of the place alive if he’d made the same decision at the other end.“That’s the way things go at our end of the table and I do feel for my lads as they did enough to earn a win.“Leeds is a very tough place to come. You have to be very brave and we didn’t take a backwards step.“It was an excellent display overall. The lads gave everything, showed plenty of character and if they give me nine more performances like that we will get out of trouble.”An absolutely pathetic performance from Neil Warnock’s side. Colin likes to talk about budgets and how Leeds put it up to the “big boys”. But Leeds failed to defeat a side in 22nd position and with the lowest budget in the entire Championship. This was in a game that Colin refused to criticise the referee because it was the away side that was sold short. The two “great” points gained at Palace and Leicester have been well and truly pissed against the wall. Once gain Warnock has sold us short.

Sun March 10th. Upcoming  Championship fixtures affecting Leeds  Monday 11th March 2013  Burnley V Hull Tuesday 12th of March Barnsley V Brighton  Cardiff V Leicester Leeds United V Peterborough Sat 16th of March 2013 Leeds United V Huddersfield.  Hull V Nottm Forest Ipswich V Bolton  Middlesbrough V Birmingham Derby V Leicester (click on each team for their remaining fixtures) I’m not going to do any predictions because this Championship is a minefield but Leeds could still make the play offs if they continue their good home win and turn a couple of away fixtures into wins. The again if my aunty had balls she’d be my uncle.

Sat March 9th 2013. C Palace 2-2 Leeds United Leeds: Kenny, Byram, Peltier, Lees, Warnock, Green, Tonge, Norris (Austin 88), Varney, Morison (Habibou 90), McCormack (Hall 88). Referee: D Whitestone Leeds United were left frustrated again as they let a lead slip at Crystal Palace to draw another Npower Championship game. Two Steve Morison goals had the Whites 2-1 ahead, but they were left having MorisnvPlccto settle for a point after Glenn Murray took advantage of slack defending to equalise with his second goal for Palace six minutes from time. It was not quite the injury-time agony suffered by United at Leicester a few days earlier, but once again they had failed to see out an away game and had let a chance go to close the six-point gap on the play-off places. Leeds boss Neil Warnock named an unchanged starting 11 for the fifth time in a row and saw his side match their hosts who were looking for points in their quest for an automatic promotion place. An early header from Kagisho Dikgacoi went wide and Morison was off target from a corner at the other end, but both teams took time to settle into the contest. Paddy Kenny was forced to make his first save as Murray got a header in from Wilfried Zaha ‘s cross. But the Leeds keeper had no chance as Palace took the lead on 27 minutes when Murray was left free at the far post to head home a cross after looking suspiciously offside. Palace almost doubled their lead soon after only for Kenny to save well low down from Jonathan Parr. But the Whites ended the half well and could have levelled when Paul Green raced through. Although home keeper Julian Speroni came out to save the ball fell to Luke Varney who was unlucky to be denied by the Palace defence. Leeds did make it 1-1 on 57 as Varney’s low cross found Morison in the box and the ex-Millwall man beat Speroni with a shot into the corner of the net. Morison made it 2-1 12 minutes later when some awful defending by the hosts allowed Kenny’s long kick to clear everyone. Morison raced onto the ball and added his second goal with a well struck volley. They then had a chance to put the game to bed as Morison did well and Ross McCormack was able to get a shot in only to see it fly just wide. The hosts were not done, however, as Stephen Dobbie went close before Murray came up with their late leveller after left-back Stephen Warnock was caught ball watching, allowing the prolific Palace striker to sneak in behind him to volley home an angled cross. Leeds put on all three subs in a bid to nick a winner, but time ran out for them and they are still looking for a first away win against a top half team this season. Ordinarily a point gained at the Palace is a decent point. These are not ordinary times as Leeds are rapidly running out of Fixtures. Our inability to see out games from a winning position has cost four points in the space of four days One major plus point today was one of our strikers scoring from play. Tuesday brings Peterboro at Elland Road and with it hopefully three points. Warnock said he would be happy before the Palace game if there were just six points between United and the play offs. He got his wish.  M’bro lost. Leicester City lost and Brighton lost whilst in form sides Forest and Bolton keep winning. United have a game in hand over sixth placed Forest but 5th placed Leicester will be nervously looking over their shoulders as all of a sudden there may be two places up for grabs. Manchester United signing Wilfried Zaha, on loan at Palace, apologised for showing Leeds fans the middle finger during Crystal Palace’s 2-2 draw on Saturday. “On that note I also wanted to apologise for the gesture I did towards the Leeds fans in yesterday’s game,” Zaha tweeted. “Very unprofessional from me.” Crystal Palace manager Ian Holloway: “I felt some of the decisions had a huge bearing on the game – I thought I saw Luke Varney foul Johnnie Williams from behind, a blatant yellow card. “Two minutes later Varney dived and got given a yellow card, and he should have been off. “Then two minutes later, Wilfried Zaha goes straight through and gets scythed down and (Stephen Warnock) gets a yellow – if that’s not a goalscoring opportunity I don’t know what the rules are.” Leeds United manager Neil Warnock: “Palace are a good team, I hope they go up. “But I don’t see Holloway complaining with a couple of decisions in the first half. They’re used to winning here but they didn’t deserve to win today. “I think Morison has been good since he’s been here, it’s what he puts into the team. He’s a team player.”

Sat 9th. Leeds United: Morison needs support if to prove worthy successor to Beccs – by Phil Hay   Steve morison’s medical involved a scan on a thigh strain sustained at the end of December. In other words, he came to Leeds United injured. Not exactly the rolling start you want when the season’s in full flow and the locker you’re filling belonged to the club’s top scorer. The solution for Morison was kill or cure; six league starts in 24 days and every one seen through to the bitter end. So if his influence has been muted, as muttering about him this week suggests, then it was liable to be muted. Remember the way in which Luciano Becchio limped back into service after hamstring surgery last season? Becchio deserves a mention because Morison is resigned to playing in his shadow, for the remainder of this season if not beyond. Jon Newsome, the ex-Leeds and Norwich defender, predicted as much when the pieces of the exchange which sent Becchio to Carrow Road in return for Morison and £200,000 fell into place on January 31. “He’ll be replacing someone who’s done the business for nigh-on five years,” Newsome said. “He’ll need to do a pretty good job.”In this case, a good job translates as score goals. Say what you will about Becchio – and his career at Elland Road is above petty criticism – but scoring goals is what he did this season. His collection of headers, volleys and plentiful penalties became the saving grace for him and his club. Becchio’s goalscoring was immense but his performances were not. Leeds lay 11th in the Championship when he packed his bags and were going nowhere as fast as him.Had Morison walked through the door and run riot, Becchio would no longer feature in dispatches. But the points lost cheaply at Leicester, Wolves and Middlesbrough begged the question of the difference the Argentinian might have made. This despite the fact that Leeds have played with more fluency, purpose and creativity without him. And there’s the fact that Becchio is dragging his heels at Carrow Road. You could pick holes in a forward who has drawn blanks in four games for Norwich. Alternatively, you could give him time. United’s manager, Neil Warnock, overplayed Morison’s ability when he said that the 29-year-old might become a “Leeds legend” over the course of a three-and-a-half year deal. Legend is a loaded word at Elland Road, rendered unattainable by the standards set in the 1960s, the 1970s and the early 1990s. But the hallmark of Morison in prior appearances for Millwall against Leeds was that of a strong, mobile and capable Championship striker. He’ll score goals for Leeds and more than likely fair well. The pertinent issue here is the adequacy of the pool of strikers on United’s books. By any measure it is shallow and unsatisfactory. Leeds swapped Becchio for Morison in January but could have done with both players. United reached the window stressing the need for an additional forward – two if Becchio forced the issue over his contract – but signed only Becchio’s replacement. Much as Habib Habibou joined at the last minute, there is nothing in Warnock’s rhetoric or use of substitutes to suggest that he has confidence in Habibou to do what additional strikers should. Habibou has barely played, save two short chances off the bench. You suspect that Warnock would rather a Nicky Maynard, a Jermaine Beckford or a Craig Mackail-Smith – the names which crossed his radar in the summer, at a time when he had no money. Quite why Habibou is here or how Leeds intend to take a “view” on making his loan permanent is difficult to say. He must wonder himself. The present scenario is Morison, Ross McCormack or no-one. Morison has scored once in seven games and McCormack once in eight. Forwards are always pulled up in those circumstances and neither will like their statistics but they might ask where the support is coming from. El-Hadji Diouf is not a regular source of goals and Habibou floats in the background, the archetypal unknown quantity which Leeds regularly deal in. Davide Somma’s body refuses to give him peace. At times like this you recall how the squad at Leeds was pulled together and why it still looks incomplete. Whatever Morison’s strengths, they would have been maximised by the regularity of Robert Snodgrass’ assists (15 last season in league games alone). There is a player who United miss and, sooner or later, must pay to replace. Fallback options are usually worth their weight in goal. Crystal Palace, United’s hosts today, have relied on the finishing of Glenn Murray all season but Murray’s energy is waning and on Tuesday night, a missed penalty epitomised his tired frame of mind. Kevin Phillips covered his back by scoring a hat-trick and routing Hull City, giving Palace a sniff of second place in the Championship. Phillips was not Ian Holloway’s only reserve; Stephen Dobbie and Aaron Wilbraham were available too. There are enough cards in Holloway’s hand to prevent Palace grinding to a halt. The cost of United’s recent finishing – four goals from open play in eight games without Becchio – is easy to calculate but the cross is not Morison’s to bear. It is not a feather in Becchio’s cap either. It rather underlines the task Leeds set themselves this season, a season for which they were under-prepared and always fated to fight the odds.

Fri March 9th. Lorimer claims “Rogers came out for his own benefit”At a Lorimer’s Bar event tonight, Peter Lorimer has claimed that Robbie Rogers timed his coming out to coincide with the launch of a new clothing line. Lorimer’s comments, also suggesting a belief that Rogers had been advised to do so, have been met with outrage from Leeds fans across Twitter. The news was initially broken by attendee @lozziej, who said that Lorimer was claiming “Robbie Rogers came out as gay to get publicity for his new clothing line”. This has been confirmed further by other tweets from others in attendance. Lorimer, an ex-Leeds legend and current holder of the goalscoring record at Elland Road, has been criticised significantly over the last few years by Leeds fans due to his association with the unpopular Ken Bates regime. A director at the club during Bates’s spell in charge, Lorimer has done little to ingratiate himself to those who used to love him, agreeing with the ex-Chelsea chief’s policies in-spite of criticism. He also famously encouraged Simon Grayson to sell now-Norwich player Luciano Becchio before criticising the ex-Leeds boss after the manager was sacked. Here is a selection of responses from Leeds fans on Twitter: “@Ken_Demange: Is it really acceptable for Lorimer to slur Robbie Rogers, claiming his ‘coming out’ was for publicity purposes?” “@JamesLUFC: “Lorimer at it again. What a knob.” “@ClaireHeeley: Lorimer…wanker”. Follow Amitai Winehouse on Twitter

March 9th. Leeds United statement following policing decision West Yorkshire Police have lost their case in the Court of Appeal over who should pay for policing of matches at Leeds United’s Elland Road stadium. Leeds United will now pursue the repayment of police charges already made and legal costs in bringing this action along with interest from seasons 2009/10, 2010/11 and 2011/12. We brought this case in the first instance as it was our view at the time that a significant proportion of the charges imposed upon the club were not lawful and are obviously pleased that the Courts have agreed with us.Chief Executive, Shaun Harvey: “ It was a complex issue and one that affects all football clubs o an extent. Many clubs have been watching on as interested parties without the need to become directly involved, so we feel as well as taking this matter on for ourselves, we have done all clubs a good service. We remain committed to reducing the number of police officers required when we play at home and will continue to work with the Police to achieve this. These efforts are already showing progress with 4 clubs’ fans receiving more banning orders in the 12 month reporting period to the 9th November 2012 and 9 clubs having more of their home fans arrested at their game in the same period than ourselves. This positive progress must continue”.

Byram v leic

Byram – The Leeds star again

Weds 5th of March 2013. Keane strikes late to break Leeds hearts – Phil Hay Leicester City 1-1 Leeds. 01, 02 Peltier 04 Lees 15 Warnock 07 Green 11 Varney 18 Tonge 19 Norris 25 Byram 09 Morison 44 McCormack (Pearce – 90′ ) Unused Subs : 12 Ashdown 14 White 17 Brown 30 Hall 21 Diouf 22 Habibou  The next time archaeologists go digging in Leicester they might find the bones of Leeds United’s season. Another injury-time equaliser – the bane of the club’s recent existence – threatens to send them and their manager the way of Richard III. Neil Warnock turned 64 on the day when Leeds last won a league game anywhere other than Elland Road and the form of his side has done nothing to counter the onset of older age. Since August, United’s results away from home have been the barrier between them and the play-offs. That barrier remains intact. Relief appeared to be at hand last night when Leicester City’s Michael Keane rose to convert a late, late chance, with 93 minutes played and Leeds close enough to a 1-0 win to smell it. This was Wolverhampton Wanderers revisited, two points thrown away in the dying embers of a match.Until Keane appeared unmarked at the back post, Warnock was poised to bank a win as timely in its nature as away wins get. Sam Byram’s second-half goal and a tight, disciplined performance left City scrambling for an equaliser as their crowd turned hostile and began to drift towards the exit. While all around them abandoned hope, Leicester swarmed into United’s box and forced Warnock’s defence to buckle. It remains to be seen if Leeds can return to the well again.This week had the potential to destroy United’s season and an unfortunate draw at the KP Stadium has done them no demonstrable good. A win last night ahead of a trip to Crystal Palace would have changed much; a cruel draw, inevitably, felt much like a defeat.City do not ship points cheaply at home but what United found in Leicester was another team who image on paper is considerably more impressive than their quality in the flesh. Nigel Pearson’s side are fifth in the Championship but every bit a club on the slide while Leeds and others attempt to close in. They were jeered in spells before Keane brought the ground to life. Prior to it, Byram’s deadly volley turned a tight contest in United’s favour and Leicester laboured badly after that, prone on the counter-attack and prone to a group of players who have warmed to the challenge of chasing the play-offs since defeat at Middlesbrough on February 12 virtually ruled them out of the equation. Settled and injury-free, Leeds are in the right sort of shape and form. But time is against them and so is the league table.Never in Warnock’s time as manager – or in the time of any other manager since Dennis Wise – has United’s team shown more continuity than it presently does, albeit over a period as short as a fortnight. His line-up was unchanged for the fourth game running last night, a reflection of their form but also an admission that his squad has little more to offer. Luke Varney, a Leicester supporter, did not allow shins battered and bruised over the weekend to keep him from the field.The game at the KP Stadium threw together two teams with meagre away records – away records as poor as most in the Championship – and on that simple basis, the advantage was Leicester’s. Nigel Pearson’s programme notes were nonetheless tinged with caution, talking of the “need to get back into the habit of winning games regularly.” He is not yet able to assume that the play-offs are the worst-case scenario for City. He spoke also of Warnock’s future, saying football would lose one of its “most colourful characters” if the 64-year-old took the end of this season as his cue to retire from management. A cagey start in Leicester and an opening spell dominated by fouls and stoppages befitted a crucial evening. Better was to come. Warnock deployed his now familiar formation, pushing Ross McCormack onto the right wing and asking Steve Morison to play through the middle, but his forwards were kept at arm’s length for much of the first half. Initially, Pearson’s side had no more than occasional moments of promise themselves, with Anthony Knockaert producing a wayward shot in the first minute and David Nugent heading over the crossbar from close range in the 11th, but an even contest was visible from the outset. Schmeichel produced the first save of note, spotting a free header from Byram late and anxiously knocked it clear with both fists. His diving stop from David Norris three minutes later was routine and more comfortable but it was clear by then that United’s fluid system would find gaps and holes in Leicester’s defence. Byram missed another chance when he directed McCormack’s corner straight at Schmeichel, who had time to fumble the ball before gathering it safely. The trouble Leicester caused was largely at Leeds’ instigation. Byram’s failure to pick up Wes Morgan invited an attack which United repelled with some desperation, and Paddy Kenny was lucky to see Harry Kane’s shot bounce off his arms and evade the in-running Nugent. There was less he could have done about Kane’s fierce strike on the half-hour, driven inches wide from 20 yards. The on-loan Tottenham Hotspur forward grew in influence as City emerged from their shell towards the end of the half.  His low cut-back gave Chris Wooda tap-in which struck the foot of Tom Lees before it could cross the line, and Wood’s own lob on 35 minutes was brilliantly saved by Kenny, falling back to tip the ball onto the roof of his net with one hand.United were as frustrated by Norris’ loose volley, bundled past Schmeichel’s left-hand post after Byram’s beautiful cross picked him out five minutes before half-time.But it took a diving block from Kenny to stop Knockaert dipping a free-kick into the top corner of his net on the stroke of half-time. Both teams left the pitch knowing the match was begging to be won. Nine minutes into the second half, United appeared to have done just that. Ritchie De Laet denied Morison a goal by turning Paul Green’s cross behind at the far post but when Leicester allowed Varney’s corner to fly across the face of their goal, Byram ran in and met the ball with a flying volley which Schmeichel barely saw. Pearson had already introduced Lloyd Dyer and Ben Marshall followed soon after as City faced up to their predicament. United fed on their anxiety, peppering Schmeichel with shots from long range and the crowd began to bite at Pearson’s players. When Kenny’s goal finally opened up for Wood 10 minutes from time, his goalbound strike deflected top safety off the heels of Lee Peltier. Far from voicing disbelief, the deflated reaction from the stand behind Kenny suggested that City’s chance was gone and Leeds fought to fend off a late onslaught which Schmeichel joined eventually. Norris fluffed a one-on-one as injury-time arrived but Warnock thought his side were out of the woods when Keane timed his run perfectly to meet a far post corner and cushion it into the net. Unsurprisingly, the faces of United’s players painted a picture of devastation. Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me. It happened in injury time at Wolves and it happened in injury time at Leicester. Both occasions it was from corners. There is a reason we have only won three times away all season. Warnock finally realises with ten to twelve games to go that he must start winning games away from Elland Road. He blames luck, referees and his players (usually his strikers as Becchio and McCormack have found out) when things don’t go his way, but we got luck v Millwall when they should have had a cast iron penalty at the death and their striker missed inexplicably from five yards out when the goal was at its mercy. Look closer at the mirror Neil. Ah well just 21 points off Cardiff City, and surprise surprise, just six points off the play-offs again ! Leicester manager Nigel Pearson: “It was really good to get something out of the game even though it was such a late goal. I thought we deserved it. We showed some good form in the first half but conceding the goal we did knocked us out of our stride a little bit. But the players showed a lot of desire and determination to get back into it. Leeds were a very hard working side and and got themselves in front. Keane has done great for us so far and is clearly going to be a very good player, I think his goal was just reward for us.” Leeds manager Neil Warnock: “When you are disappointed to come away with a point from Leicester it shows how far we have come. It augurs well for the the final 11 games and we have six of them at home. There are a few broken hearts and tired legs tonight and it does feel like a loss under the circumstances. Obviously it is bound to be disappointing when you concede a goal so late in the game. But despite that it was a great team performance and I was really pleased with all the lads. “The last time I felt like this I got fined a lot of money so I’m not going to say what I think, but it’s disappointing. “We thought there was foul by Schmeichel on Tom Lees, David Norris was fouled on the edge of the box in front of the referee and the foul throw that he gave to Stephen Warnock – we’ve got three others for Leicester that haven’t been penalised. You have to ask where the consistency is. But I thought we played well against a team who have spent a lot of money and have a big wage bill and we played some good football. We should have so many more points than we have, but the lads are working as hard as they can. You need a bit of a rub of the green, and if we get a free-kick in those last few minutes the game is over so it’s disappointing. Yes, Steve Morison lost his man for the goal, but there were so many things in the build-up that didn’t go our way. It’s just so disappointing.”


Crucial Warnock Pen

Sat March 2nd. Penalty sees off Millwall at Elland Road...LEEDS 1 (Warnock 72), MILLWALL 0 Leeds: Kenny, Byram, Peltier, Lees, Warnock, Green, Tonge, Norris (Brown 75), Varney (Pearce 90), Morison, McCormack (Diouf 75). Subs: Ashdown, White,Habibou, Hall. Referee: M Jones Att: 19,002 (171 Millwall) Report frm LUFC website. Neil Warnock named an unchanged team for the third game in a row as his side kicked off a busy week against Millwall. The visitors had ended a five-game losing streak at Middlesbrough last weekend, and they were quick out of the blocks at Elland Road with Martyn Woolford firing wide inside the opening five minutes. James Henry went even closer when he sidefooted the ball past Paddy Kenny, but against the upright, and it took some good defending from Lee Peltier to thwart the Millwall man moments later. When Leeds threatened, Luke Varney headed narrowly wide after a great cross from Stephen Warnock. Michael Tonge also sent a shot wide after more good build-up play involving Warnock. United had a great chance moments before the half-hour when Sam Byram was brought down in the box, but Milwall goalkeeper David Forde proved equal to Ross McCormack’s penalty, pushing it on to the post. Moments later, McCormack sent a ball into the box, but Luke Varney couldn’t quite divert the ball towards goal despite getting up well. United were playing some great football, and McCormack was denied again by Forde after a good ball into the box. But the visitors were also a threat and Kenny had to be alert to save well from John Marquis. Forde was by far the busier of the two goalkeepers, though, and he was spared by Danny Shittu moments before half-time when the defender got in to block a Varney strike after a lovely touch by Steve Morison. United started the second half well and both David Norris and Morison were denied by the whistle after threatening. Varney was also brought down after a good run forward, Millwall dealing with the resultant free-kick. Tonge then twice close for United. The midfielder’s first shot went wide while the second was beaten away by Forde, who made a terrific save. The deadlock was finally broken with 18 minutes remaining, though, when McCormack was brought down inside of the box. Instead of stepping up to take the penalty himself, Stephen Warnock was the man, and he blasted the ball past Forde to make it 1-0. Millwall responded by winning a string of corners, forcing United into some defending, but it was Forde who saved the visitors with seven left on the clock when he raced off his line to deny an advancing Varney.As the game ticked towards the 90-minute mark Millwall lost James Henry through injury while Michael Tonge also received treatment. There was another lengthy delay in stoppage time when Varney was accidentally caught by Warnock in a challenge, and he was carried from the field on a stretcher. Almost nine minutes were added on, but United held firm to pick up an important victory ahead of away trips to Leicester and Crystal Palace. Millwall boss Kenny Jackett was quick to blame referee Mike Jones after his side were beaten at Elland Road yesterday in the battle of the play-off outsiders. Jackett had no complaints about either of our penalties but said “I felt we had a clear-cut penalty when Danny Shittu headed the ball down, Sam Byram had his hand by the side of his body and clearly handled it as the ball was going through to my centre-forward, so I thought the referee got that call wrong”. The Millwall boss also claimed that “we were unfortunate to come away with nothing”. Yorkshire Radio, Warnock said, “It was just important to win the game so I am delighted. We said before the game that we had to take a minimum of five points from the next three games, so it was very important to get three points out of the Millwall game with a run of tough games coming up.”. “I wouldn`t want to play against us at the moment,” added Warnock. Leeds United winger Luke Varney will be checked over by the club’s medical staff on Monday after picking up an injury against Millwall.The 30-year-old was on the end of a challenge from his own team-mate Stephen Warnock in the late stages of his side’s 1-0 victory over the Lions at Elland Road and had to be taken down the tunnel on a stretcher. Boss, Neil Warnock revealed that the player had ice packs on both of his legs in the dressing room after the game but did not have to be taken to hospital for any further treatment. The medical staff will take a look over the player on Monday to see if any kind of long term injury has been sustained by the former Portsmouth man ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Leicester. “He has ice packs on both legs. There is nothing broken, so we will have to hope the swelling goes down and we will have a look on Monday and hope he is ok for Tuesday,” said Warnock. “Varney will be desperate to be fit for the game against his hometown club and the team he supports.

Sat March 2nd. Millwall v Leeds – Long or the wrong arm of the law? YEP There’s a joke in there somewhere: how many constables does it take to police 84 Millwall supporters?The punchline was at Elland Road, pictured, today as West Yorkshire Police mounted one of the most straightforward operations in the history of Elland Road. Between a 12.30pm kick-off, arranged on police advice, and the bubble trip imposed on Millwall’s supporters by West Yorkshire’s finest, the sting was drawn from this afternoon’s game. Good, say some. This fixture has a history of violence. Except not so much recently and not particularly at Elland Road. There was trouble in 2007 but this is 2013. Millwall brought just 215 supporters to Leeds last season and 566 the year before. There was little in the way of handbags when 2,000 watched their club eliminate United from the League One play-offs in 2009. In one sense it is proof that police methods are working. But as of Thursday morning, Millwall had sold 84 tickets for today’s game with the club encouraging a boycott in protest at the enforcement of a bubble trip. So few away fans and an inconvenient kick-off time. That’s what Leeds are paying West Yorkshire Police for. Still, the overtime must be good.

Sat March 1st Millwall v Leeds preview. United manager Neil Warnock says if his team can emerge from the next week unscathed the scene will be set for an assault on the top-six places. Millwall are the visitors to Elland Road on Saturday for a 12.30pm kick-off before potentially tough looking away trips to Leicester City and Crystal Palace.”We have to keep in touch and if we come out of the three games in a decent position, we have 10 games to go,” said the boss. “We have to hope we can get through this little period. It’ll be a fabulous week for us if we can get results this week. “Millwall are always tough opponents, and you’re not going to get two tougher away games, but if we can stay in touch we’re capable of putting a run together in the last 10. I think we have some good games then. We’ve got Brighton and Watford in there, but it’s not a bad run, and I genuinely believe we have every chance. Millwall had tasted five Championship defeats on the spin before last weekend’s 2-1 success at Middlesbrough, but Kenny Jackett’s men are 14th in the table, two points behind United, and will still feel they have an opportunity of reaching the Play-Offs. “They’ll be organised and they’ll be difficult to break down,” said the boss. “I was very disappointed we didn’t get something down there. We know what we will be up against. It’s all about winning on Saturday. It’s all about trying to get as many points as we can now. “They’ll be buoyed by their win at Middlesbrough, but I’m not really bothered who we’re playing. It’s how we are that counts. “I think we can beat anyone at home, if we’re ourselves. We played some good stuff against Blackpool, but even that day Paddy made a great save and was a good team performance.”

Budding young Leeds talent give hope for the future. By Phil YEP The thing about burgeoning footballers is that you never can tell. Take the Liverpool team that won the FA Youth Cup in 2007. Then count the number who kept their feet under the Anfield table. You’ll start and finish with Jay Spearing. That phenomenon is not unique to Liverpool. The unspoken truth of under-18 squads is that so many who ooze potential drift along and then drift away. “One thing is youth football, one thing is professional football,Jose Mourinho once said. “The bridge is a difficult one to cross.” It is a quote to temper the reaction to a performance as vibrant as Leeds United’s at Anfield on Thursday. The club were beaten 3-1 in the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup but the prime observations on an engaging night had nothing to do with the final resultL(1) Chris Dawson’s senior debut shouldn’t be far away. The attacking midfielder has a professional contract, a first-team squad number and a Wales under-21 cap. He has been named as an unused substitute twice this season. In short, there is no other player in the youth team set-up at Leeds more tailor-made for a full debut. Dawson had markers crawling all over him at Anfield, targeted by a team who had done their homework, but he was intelligent enough to find space and possession and the second half was his. There are shades of Jonathan Howson about him – a player suited to causing havoc in that specialist void they call “the hole” – and his talent stood out, not only among United’s players but among Liverpool’s too. If, as it seems, this Championship term has left United with too much to do, blooding Dawson and others like him, if only briefly, would make something of the dead rubbers that await. To quote Mourinho again: “Young players are a bit like melons. Only when you open and taste the melon are you 100 per cent sure that the melon is good.”(2) He’s not the only gem in the under-18 squad. So who else stood out, aside from Dawson? Alex Mowatt for one, the under-18s captain. A physically-competitive but forward-thinking central midfielder who wants and knows where to put the ball when it falls to his feet. At first sight, he reminded me of a young and exceptionally-lively Barry Ferguson in the days when Ferguson was playing youth-team football at Rangers and making waves. There are others too – a centre-back in Jake Skelton who read Thursday night’s game well and tackled like a beast and a forward in Lewis Walters whose fiery pace and reliability in front of goal was rendered redundant by a cynical tackle from Yalany Baio in the 16th minute. Richard Naylor, United’s coach, said that a Football League referee would have sent Baio off. (3) This group of under-18s are better than those who lost to Liverpool in 2008. This was the line-up when United played Liverpool in the FA Youth Cup five years ago: Ryan Jones, Liam Darville, Tom Lees, Callum Williams, Luke Garbutt, Andrew Milne, Mike Whitwell, Will Hatfield, Tom Elliott, Sam Jones, Aidan White. To call it a barren crop would be woefully ignorant of Lees, Garbutt and White but, to recall conversations at the time, the general opinion of the squad was not high and many of those players slipped out of the academy system quietly. There is more enthusiasm about the present clutch of under-18s and, in a straight comparison between Leeds’ Youth Cup defeat to Liverpool at Elland Road in 2008 and their loss on Thursday, rightly so. They are a gifted bunch with an established policy of fluid, cultured football. Liverpool, conversely, shone more brightly four years ago (not least because of the presence of a certain Tom Ince) but the point remains – if the class of 2008 was able to produce first-team players, so should the class of 2013. (4) The death of reserve games at Elland Road was regrettable. The rationale for Leeds resigning from their reserve league in 2011 was watertight. Their reserve league was abysmal. But we’re worse off for the loss of opportunities to see United’s juniors feel their way into the world in front of crowds of a few hundred at Elland Road. Anfield was nine-tenths empty on Thursday night for the Youth Cup tie. Everyone who attended would go back for more.