Evanswatford

Evans rekons players have 15 games left to earn or save contracts at Leeds

Sat 31st of Jan BOLTON 1 (Pratley 81), Leeds 2 (Doukara 9, Diagouraga 40) Leeds team: Silvestri, Wootton, Bellusci, Bamba (Coyle 89), Taylor, Cook (Adeyemi 90+1), Bridcutt, Diagouraga, Dallas, Doukara, Antenucci (Carayol 86). Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Sloth, Murphy, Erwin. Referee: Andre Marriner. Booked: Vela (Bolton) Att: 17,336 (6,630 United) Report from official website

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Doukara celebrates after scoring the first

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Diagouraga scores on his full debut for the Whites

The Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round tie away to Bolton Wanderers saw United head coach Steve Evans make three changes from the team that drew 1-1 at Brentford earlier in the week. Captain Sol Bamba returned to the heart of defence in place of the injured Liam Cooper, while Toumani Diagouraga replaced Luke Murphy in midfield for his full Leeds debut and Mirco Antenucci came in for the injured Chris Wood in attack. The hosts, who were attacking towards United’s biggest away following of the season so far, had the afternoon’s first sight of goal through striker Gary Madine, but Marco Silvestri was able to comfortably hold his effort on the turn from the edge of the area. Darren Pratley then skied a first-time effort after meeting Liam Feeney’s cut-back on the edge of the area, before Lewis Cook had United’s first attempt on goal at the opposite end with a curling effort which Wanderers’ keeper Ben Amos clutched just underneath his crossbar. The frantic start to proceedings showed no signs of letting up and United found a way through after just nine minutes, Souleymane Doukara continuing his fine form in front of goal with a low effort which crept beyond Amos after latching onto Stuart Dallas’ pin-point through ball. The hosts will feel they should have pulled themselves level three minutes later, though, as Madine smashed over from close-range after muscling his way onto the ball in front of goal. A brief spell of Bolton pressure followed, with United forced to defend deep to clear a series of deliveries into the area, before Dallas threatened a second with a strike which sailed well over after skipping away from his marker inside the Bolton box. United had a golden opportunity to double the advantage after 25 minutes following a swift break up-field led by Cook. The midfielder cut inside but opted not to shoot as space opened up for him, instead threading the ball out wide to Antenucci inside the area, who forced a superb one-handed save from Amos at his near post to turn the low strike behind. The advantage was deservedly doubled on the 40th-minute mark and it was the full debutant, Diagouraga, who wheeled away in celebration after meeting Antenucci’s cutback to calmly tuck away his first goal for the club from inside the area. The second period started in a similar manner to the first, with end-to-end attacks making the tie an enthralling watch. United were first, with Taylor just scuffing his strike after being found unmarked at the back post by Cook following another breakaway, before Madine found himself crowded out inside the opposite area as his close-range effort was turned behind. United were inches away from adding a third on the hour mark as another flowing counter-attack carved apart the Bolton defence, only for Scott Wootton to smash agonisingly over the bar after being teed up on the edge of the area by Dallas. Leeds were looking increasingly comfortable as the game progressed and Amos was again called upon to tip a speculative Giuseppe Bellusci free-kick over the bar from distance. Bolton did threaten to pull one back, though, as Liam Feeney worked his way into the area before smashing well over the bar from an acute angle, before Bellusci heroically launched himself in the way of Darren Prately’s ferocious half-volley. But Pratley did manage to find a way through nine minutes from time after a corner fell into his path to hammer the ball emphatically into the roof the net at the back post and set up a nervy finale. And the home fans thought their side had snatched a replay with three minutes remaining, only to see Madine clip the outside of the post from inside the area after Silvestri had pushed Pratley’s initial strike into his path. United held firm during four minutes of added time, though, and did enough to book a place in Sunday evening’s Fifth Round draw.

Sat 30th of Jan Cellino and Evans pore over transfer targets STEVE EVANS says that he and Leeds United president Massimo Cellino are poring over an extensive list of transfer targets ahead of possible beat-the-deadline moves before 11pm on Monday evening. So far this month, United have brought in Brentford midfielder Toumani Diagouraga for £575,000 and Middlesbrough winger Mustapha Carayol on loan – while extending Liam Bridcutt’s loan deal for the rest of the season. Mixed messages may have been displayed in the past few days regarding the chances of more business before the deadline, but United appear still to be active in the market, given their tabling of a £300,000 bid for Barnsley forward Sam Winnall, which was swiftly rejected, and their interest in bringing in Crystal Palace frontman Fraizer Campbell on loan.;” Landing a new striker, exacerbated by fitness concerns surrounding top-scorer Chris Wood, remains a priority – with Norwich’s Kyle Lafferty a big target at the start of the window, although hopes of that deal transpiring have drifted, according to Evans. Whether Leeds land any of the aforementioned targets or not, they have a number of alternatives, according to Evans – who is keen to do several pieces of business in an ideal world before Monday evening, while being mindful of the need for some prudence also. He said: “We are working hard on a lot of fronts. It was not just the boy from Brentford (Diagouraga) and there were other midfield alternatives that the president was also working on. We just so happened to get our first choice. “One hundred per cent, the deal has to be right. This football club cannot go back to the days where the supporters questioned what level it would be at because of the debts and such like. We are in the opposite extent now where we have money available to strengthen the squad and the president has taken my counsel in a lot of those discussions. “I am responsible also, so that there’s prudence around the squad and making sure we have a happy medium in the dressing room.” On the situation regarding Lafferty, Evans said: “I am not aware with what is happening with Lafferty. It’s been drifting for some time now. “As I have always maintained, it is not just Kyle Lafferty who is in the equation for Leeds United, but a number of strikers.”Alongside some incoming business, Evans is also receptive to the idea of fringe players Lee Erwin, Casper Sloth and Jordan Botaka leaving the club to get some game time, with all three currently on the periphery of the first team at the moment and not in his plans. It remains to be seen if firm interest surfaces in any of those players – whether it is regarding a loan or a fill-time move – before Monday evening. But if it does, Evans is unlikely to stand in their way, with the Scot admitting that playing development squad football is not in the best interests of the trio. He added: “We try and treat it on a player by player basis. “But we made it clear that some of the fringe players perhaps need to think about getting some football rather than sitting about playing under-21s, which for me is a process of learning youngsters. “For experienced players, it is just about getting game time, nothing else as under-21s (games) are never played as competitively as first-team games. So if the right opportunity comes for those three to get some game time, then we would look at it.”

Sat 31st of Jan Leeds ‘make bid for Limbombe’ according to NEC Manager braced for departures after Leeds United ‘bid’ for star player manager of NEC has told the Dutch media he’s not worried about players leaving the club. His star player Anthony Limbombe has been linked with a move in the past few days with Leeds United and Granada apparently already putting in bids for the winger. Soccer News have reported on comments Ernest Faber made on the attention his players have been getting from other clubs. NEC are currently 5th in the Dutch league, and in the frame for a European spot for next season, however, this resulted in clubs across Europe scouting his players, but Faber isn’t concerned about departures because he believes they can bring in replacements. The NEC boss is also expecting transfer activity before the deadline on Monday. At NEC, players can develop and can grow, but then a transfer can happen. NEC also need to grow. I’m not worried about players leaving. Then the club has to find new players. This can still happen this winter, I really see a turbulent final day of the transfer window,” said the NEC on possible departures before the deadline. Leeds United have been tracking Limbombe in the past six months with reports this week the Championship side have put in a second offer for youngster after tabling a bid in the summer. We’re not so sure on the veracity of that, thinking there’s been confusion and that Leeds probably haven’t bid for Limbombe so far this month. Limbombe has made it clear he wants to leave NEC and, judging from Faber’s comments, that could happen in this window

SamWinnall

Sam Winnall rated by The Tykes at over the million mark but Leeds have offered just 300K – I like the idea of getting players from lower divisions because there can be some real nuggets there. Time will tell if he is one or not

Friday 29th of Jan Leeds ponder next move after bid for Barnsley striker rejected Leeds United are considering their next move after Barnsley rejected a six-figure offer for top scorer Sam Winnall. The League One club turned down a bid of £300,000 for Leeds and are holding out for a fee in excess of £1m amid ongoing attempts by United to sign a new striker before Monday’s transfer deadline. United’s approach for Winnall – rapidly dismissed by Barnsley who considered the valuation derisory – came as Steve Evans insisted the club were still in the market for players, despite owner Massimo Cellino saying new arrivals were “unlikely” in the days ahead. In the past 24 hours, Leeds are also understood to have failed with an attempt to take Fraizer Campbell on loan from Crystal Palace. Campbell, 28, has been largely surplus at Selhurst Park this season but Palace are believed to be planning to retain him beyond the end of this transfer window, despite their recent deal to sign Emmanuel Adebayor. Cellino’s comments, given to Sky Sports, appeared to draw a line under Evans’ attempts to add to his tally of three January recruits but Leeds are now deciding whether to up their bid for Winnall. The 25-year-old – a former Wolverhampton Wanderers trainee who Barnsley signed from Scunthorpe United in 2014 – has been in prolific form this season, scoring 15 times and helping the South Yorkshire club to the northern area final of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. United’s move for him followed a streak of six goals in his last six appearances. Evans is pushing to add to his group of strikers with Leeds short of options and fresh doubt surrounding the fitness of Leeds’ leading scorer Chris Wood. Wood sustained another hamstring problem in midweek and is a major doubt for tomorrow’s FA Cup tie away at Bolton. Evans has already agreed loan deals for Liam Bridcutt and Mustapha Carayol this month and United’s sale of Sam Byram in a £3.7m transfer to West Ham United last week was followed by the arrival of Toumani Diagouraga for £575,000 from Brentford. Speaking yesterday, Evans said: “If the president says there’s no more signings then there’ll be no more signings but the words I heard attributed to the president was ‘it was unlikely’. It was unlikely a week ago that we were going to sign the boy from Brentford (Toumani Diagouraga). “He takes control of the financial situation so he knows how near we are. When he says it’s unlikely, he may feel that one or two things are slipping away from us. We’ll see where we go. “My understanding is that we’ve got negotiations going on on several fronts.”Evans defended Cellino and said he had received “100 per cent” support from United’s owner – but admitted he would be “disappointed” if he failed to add more players to his squad before Monday’s 11pm deadline. “One hundred per cent I’ve been supported by the president,” Evans said. “There’s no question of that. “Would I be disappointed if we don’t add from now? Yes. But have I been backed and are we trying to get the players in who I’ve given on a sheet of paper? Yes we are. “I’m a supporter too so the same level of disappointment with them would be the same with me. I’m under no illusions that I have to win matches as manager. Signing good players gives me an opportunity to do that.” Evans said he was increasingly confident in the wake of Byram’s sale to West Ham that no other of United’s young players would be lost before Monday’s deadline. Bournemouth have a long-standing interest in Lewis Cook and both Stoke City and Crystal Palace have had their attention turned to Charlie Taylor this month. Those players, like midfielder and current player-of-the-year Alex Mowatt, are into the last 18 months of their contracts. Evans said: It’s not the time during a transfer window when people are speculating to go and say we’ll do X, Y or Z with them but people are misguided if they don’t think there are conversations going on with the representatives of those players. That will take the course it takes. “Given the size of the bids we’ve had they’d have left already at most clubs. The president’s been outstanding and kept those players. He’s confided in me about the some of the bids and I’ve thought ‘wow’. “I sit here and not for one second do I think about of our exciting youngsters will leave this club in this window.”

Tues 26th of Jan BRENTFORD 1 (Saunders 28), Leeds (Carayol 84) United team: Silvestri, Wootton, Bellusci, Cooper, Taylor, Dallas (Carayol 76), Bridcutt, Murphy (Diagouraga 60), Cook, Wood (Antenucci 19), Doukara. Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Coyle, Phillips, Adeyemi. Referee: Iain Williamson. Booked: Djuricin (Brentford), Cooper, Carayol, Bellusci, Bridcutt (United) Att: 10,051 (1,632 United)

Brentford v Leeds United

Bellusci makes a tackle v Brentford

The midweek trip to Brentford saw United head coach Steve Evans make just the one change from the previous Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Bristol City, with Chris Wood returning to the attack in place of Mustapha Carayol. New signing Toumani Diagouraga, meanwhile, had to settle for a place among the substitutes against his former club. Wood and strike partner Souleymane Doukara looked to combine during the early stages, with the latter just unable to find his team-mate inside the area after cutting inside from the left, while the hosts probed patiently for an opening in the United defence during an even start to proceedings. Brentford almost found a way through on the 15th-minute mark, too, as a dangerous right-wing cross from John Swift was inches away from creeping in at the back post before United managed to clear their lines. Evans was dealt a major blow just 19 minutes into the game, though, with Wood forced off through injury after pulling up clutching his hamstring on the halfway line. Mirco Antenucci was introduced in attack, but Brentford were soon celebrating an opener as Sam Saunders latched onto a loose ball inside the United half before driving forward to fire into the bottom corner. Leeds looked to mount a quick response and only the reflexes of Bees goalkeeper David Button stood in their way, with the stopper flying across his line to superbly push away Antenucci’s 25-yard strike with a strong two-handed save. But Brentford’s tails were up and Alan Judge curled agonisingly over Marco Silvestri’s crossbar after cutting inside from the right, before Saunders fired a free-kick over well from 18 yards out. United had strong appeals for a penalty waved away at the opposite end as Antenucci hurtled into the Brentford area before going down under the close watch of defender Harlee Dean, only for referee Iain Williamson to wave play on as the hosts took their advantage into the interval. Both sides re-emerged from the break unchanged and looked to start the second half on the front foot, calling Button into action twice inside the first three minutes. The Brentford ‘keeper raced off his line to smother Antenucci’s close-range effort after Lewis Cook had threaded the striker into the area, but Button returned to his feet swiftly to block Dallas’ attempt from a tight angle on the rebound. It was a much brighter return from United but Brentford remained a threat and quickly reminded their visitors of that as Judge forced Silvestri to clutch his curling effort from the edge of the area. Leeds were dominating the early stages of the second period, though, and again threatened through Doukara, stealing possession 30 yards out before looking to catch Button off his line with a chipped effort which skimmed the side-netting. Evans was then prompted into his second change of the evening on the hour mark, introducing Diagouraga for his United debut in place of Luke Murphy in midfield. Silvestri needed to be alert to block Lasse Vibe’s near-post strike, while Liam Cooper headed a corner over the bar after being found at the back post as both sides pushed for the second goal of the evening. Brentford started the look the more likely to doing so as the game entered the closing stages, with Silvestri at full stretch to clutch Judge’s goalbound free-kick, but Leeds substitute Carayol – a replacement on the wing for Dallas – had other ideas. The ball rolled into the loanee’s path on the edge of the area and he made no mistake, sweeping a first-time effort perfectly beyond the helpless Button and into the bottom corner.

Sun 24th of Jan Pescara want Antenucci Mirco Antenucci is wanted by Italian Serie B side Pescara and could be ready to tempt him back to his homeland. Promotion-chasing Pescara have identified striker Antenucci as their most likely replacement for want-away star Andrea Cocco. Pescara could opt to allow Cocco to join Salernitana, something which would mean another striker is required at the club. And according to Sky Italia, Pescara see Antenucci as the most likely replacement for Cocco. The Serie B side are aware that Antenucci’s contract at Leeds expires in the summer and the hitman has been tipped to be open to a return to his homeland. Pescara currently sit in third spot in Serie B, but have scored 13 goals fewer than second placed Cagliari and seven fewer than league leaders Crotone. Antenucci is a fans favourite at Elland Road, but has found nailing down a regular starting spot with Leeds to be a tough ask. He finished as the Whites’ leading goalscoring last season with 10 goals, but the role of striking talisman has been taken by Chris Wood, who joined from Leicester City in the summer. Having seen Sam Byram leave last week in a £3.7m move to West Ham, the supporters would be disappointed to see another first-team player be allowed to leave the club. Meanwhile, former Leeds United striker Ross McCormack is understood to have asked for a transfer out of Championship strugglers Fulham. Recent speculation claimed that Middlesbrough have had a £9m bid plus Spanish striker Kike on loan for the Scottish frontman rejected by their Championship counterparts. However, 29-year-old McCormack is keen to force through a move to Teeside and has insisted that he has played his last game for Fulham, according to the Daily Mail. The report adds that promotion-hunting Boro are prepared to improve upon their offer, although not by much. McCormack, who has scored 15 goals this season, missed yesterday’s 1-0 defeat at home to Hull City through illness. He joined Fulham from Leeds United for a fee of £11m McCormack could be part of a double-swoop for Middlesbrough, who have also been linked with Uruguay international Gaston Ramirez. The Southampton midfielder has been told by Saints boss Ronald Koeman to seek a new club this month with his contract at St Mary’s due to expire at the end of the season. A number of clubs have been linked with the 25-year-old, but according to The Mirror, Ramirez is closing on a loan move to Boro, where he will spend the remainder of the 2015-16 campaign. He cost Southampton £12m from Bologna in 2012, but has largely struggled to make his mark down south. It is understood that Boro, who lost at home to Nottingham Forest on Saturday, will take on some of Ramirez’s £65,000-a-week wages.

LEEDS V BRISTOL 23/01/2016

Doukara is in his finest form since signing for Leeds

Sat 23rd of Jan Leeds 1 (Doukara 59), BRISTOL CITY 0 United team: Silvestri, Wootton, Bellusci, Cooper, Taylor, Dallas, Bridcutt, Murphy (Adeyemi 90), Cook, Carayol (Wood 54), Doukara (Antenucci 85). Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Coyle, Bamba, Phillips. Referee: Charles Breakspear. Att: 20,441 (641 Bristol City) The visit of Bristol City saw United head coach Steve Evans name an unchanged starting line-up from the team beaten away to Sheffield Wednesday seven days earlier. There were changes among the substitutes, however, as Chris Wood returned from a hamstring injury to occupy a place on the bench alongside Kalvin Phillips, who stepped in for the injured Alex Mowatt. After a somewhat cagey start to proceedings, it was the visitors who had the game’s first sight of goal after 13 minutes as Nathan Baker towered a header high and wide after rising to meet Luke Ayling’s free-kick. United’s first effort on Richard O’Donnell’s goal then came seven minutes later, but Mustapha Carayol ballooned his 30-yard free-kick into the South Stand after a foul on Luke Murphy brought some smart build-up play to a halt. United were on the receiving end of the best chance of an underwhelming start, though, with City debut Ben Gladwin stealing possession from Liam Bridcutt inside the area before seeing his strike blocked by Marco Silvestri at the near post. Jonathan Kodjia then threatened an opener for the visitors as the game passed the half-hour mark, sending a header inches wide after connecting with a right-wing cross inside the area. The Robins continued to enjoy the better of the chances as they ended the first half the stronger of the two, with Gladwin’s header sailing over before Silvestri rushed off his line to block Kodjia from close-range after the striker had wriggled f e inside the United area. United made a brighter start to the second half, though, forcing some stern defending from the visitors to clear a series of dangerous crosses into the box. And Evans’ intent was clear as he introduced Chris Wood just nine minutes after the restart, replacing Carayol with the striker as he urged his side forward. The deadlock was eventually broken on 59 minutes and Wood played his part, causing a nuisance inside the area as the visitors failed to deal with Stuart Dallas’ right-wing cross before the ball fell for Souleymane Doukara to hammer his third goal from four games into the bottom corner. substitute Alex Pearce passed up a golden opportunity to equalise for the visitors just five minutes later at the opposite end, heading a back-post corner over the bar from six yards out, but United were buoyed by their opener and went in search of a second. The visitors managed to deal with further testing deliveries into the box, though, and started to ask questions of their own as they started to throw men forward, with Aaron Wilbraham introduced in attack. Defender Aden Flint headed a glorious opportunity wide after being found unmarked at the back post, before Silvestri got down sharply to clutch Luke Ayling’s low strike from inside the area. The Robins continued to press in the closing stages but found themselves up against a stern Leeds defence, who held out in four minutes of added time to seal a return to winning ways. Evans : It wasn’t the best performance by any stretch,” Evans said. “But the finish was worthy of winning the game. We happily take the three points. “It’s important to get back to winning ways. The performance still needs to get better but there has been lots of determination on show. “The first half wasn’t good enough – I’ve had better mornings at the dentist – but we recognised that and were a little bit better in the second. “We closed it down more and got the goal. It became a gritty 1-0 win rather than a performance we’ll look back on with many aspects that we’re very pleased with. “In the end we ground out a good win and we have to take that and move on to Brentford on Tuesday night.”  Not our best performance by a long shot. We ground out the win. 4-4-2 needs to be played at home but Wood wasn’t risked from the start and Antenucci spent much of the week in Italy at the birth of his second child. Doukara has scored three goals in four and seems to be playing for the first time for a manager that believes in him. We are in desperate need of another striker, possibly a number 10 type player, a quality central defender and still a reliable goalkeeper. On week of the window to go.

ToumaniDiagouraga

United’s newest signing signing watches v Brentford

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Toumani Diagouraga in action for Brentford who he hopes to make his debut against on Tuesday night

Friday 22nd of January Brentford midfielder Diagouraga to join Whites after medical Steve Evans has hailed the capture of one of his “top targets” after Leeds United moved to sign Brentford midfielder Toumani Diagouraga. The Yorkshire Evening Post understands that Diagouraga agreed a two-and-a-half-year deal with the Elland Road side, although Leeds have not yet officially confirmed his capture. Diagouraga is still awaiting a two-part medical which will be held over the weekend, with the deal set to be completed on Monday. Diagouraga was at Elland Road with his representatives yesterday morning to discuss the terms of an agreement after Leeds had a bid accepted by Brentford. Scottish Championship side Rangers were also keen but failed to agree financial terms with the Bees, meaning that Evans and Italian owner Massimo Cellino could move swiftly to beat the Gers to the 28-year-old midfielder. Evans said: “I think it was a big decision for the kid. I was obviously aware of Rangers’ interest. “The boy had a big decision make. But obviously you only get to speak to a player if clubs agree a fee. “We agreed a fee, so that’s why we could speak to him. It’s taken a little while to get there but I’m delighted we’ve got there. I’m grateful to the owner Mr Cellino who’s made this happen. “I wanted to build. I thought we wouldn’t get there so I was pleased to get it over the line. He was up there with my top targets.” Diagouraga is not available for today’s home tie against Bristol City, but Evans has already compared his new signing to one of the greats. He believes Diagouraga could be as influential as Arsenal hero and current New York City FC head coach Patrick Viera. Evans continued: We’ve got a boy who’s 6 foot 2, we’ve got a Patrick Vieira-type player,” he said. He brings real quality to our midfield. He’s signed for a giant in English football.” Leeds host managerless Bristol City today with 13 points between themselves and the play-off places, a gap they are unlikely to bridge between now and the end of the season. The Robins are 22nd in the Championship, having placed former Leeds defender John Pemberton in charge after Steve Cotterill’s sacking. Pemberton played for the Whites between 1993 and 1997, accruing 53 appearances for the Elland Road club in the process, and led Bristol to a 1-0 win against league leaders Middlesbrough last weekend.

Weds 20th of Jan West Ham offered Sam Byram a vision which Leeds couldn’t match –   Phil Hay To Sam Byram it was all about money. All about the readies. Nothing to do with West Ham United’s standing in the Premier League, their relocation to London’s Olympic Stadium or the thought of debuting at home to Manchester City this weekend. And nothing to do with Leeds United’s directionless years as a Championship club. Byram would be fooling no-one by denying that a rise in salary was nice, but Everton don’t pay peanuts and when the choice was put in front of him, he took it soberly. Everton have Seamus Coleman at right-back, now and for the foreseeable. West Ham are doing with James Tomkins what Leeds have done with Scott Wootton. Byram chose and made himself look like a player choosing to play. Money was at the root of his fall-out with Massimo Cellino, the factor which drove Cellino’s hopeless attempt to lower his salary, but United’s owner is deluded if he thinks that Byram cut and ran because Leeds couldn’t pay him enough. There is more to an offer than the value in cash terms. There is the outlook, the vision, the strategy and the credibility. There is the fundamental question, based on hard evidence, of whether a club is worth staying at. Cellino was onto something when he claimed in September that Byram “thinks Leeds is too small for him”. Byram probably does think Leeds are too small for him but not in the way Cellino meant. Most of the players who come through United’s academy understand the club’s history and culture. Many of them grew up as supporters. They respect Leeds’ stature in the traditional sense, but they are clever enough to distinguish between reputation and the present day. Jonathan Howson was and is a Leeds boy, a club captain in that mindset; always aware of his surroundings, always willing to front up, always a willing – if slightly overused – candidate for community events. It was not his choice to leave in the window where Leeds decided to sell him, whatever anyone else says, but it had occurred to him by then that the time might be coming. Howson was into the last six months of his deal. Leeds had lost their impetus in the Championship and were about to fire Simon Grayson. Ken Bates was losing the crowd. Howson had given more than 200 games to United, so he left. And left with his conscience clear. This season was Byram’s fourth as a senior professional at Elland Road. Leeds finished 13th in his first, 15th in his second and third and were heading for a similar position in his last. He has seen three different owners – one of whom has been banned by the Football League already and stands to be banned by the Football League again – and has played under seven different coaches. Two of those survived for six competitive games. With the exception of Steve Evans, all of them have been sacked. It is natural to compare Byram and Howson, but Howson at least took with him the memories of 2010-11. The intelligence corp can separate the fallow years from the golden eras. All that Don Revie achieved is not diminished by United’s inability to follow his example, but it does not act as much of a selling point either when Leeds’ state is so anemic. Howard Wilkinson and David O’Leary weren’t only marketing a big club. They were marketing compelling squads and ambitious chairmen (recklessly ambitious in the case of Peter Ridsdale). O’Leary could feasibly expect to sign Rio Ferdinand because Leeds had a vision to tempt him with. The history helped but it was not a solitary carrot. Byram would never dare describe Leeds as an institution as “too small for him”. He would not equate himself to Paul Reaney or Gary Kelly or pretend that his photo will hang in Elland Road in 20 years’ time. He has passed through the club and played for too short a time to be seen as anything other than a likeable, gifted right-back who got away too soon. But as it is, the club are too slow for his career: too slow to progress, too slow to expand and too slow to find their way out of the woods. There is an argument which says a kid like Byram, bred in the academy and made by the academy, should stay and help Leeds find a way. But how long is too long and how long is long enough? Contract talks between Byram and Leeds were appallingly handled and Cellino’s idea of enforcing a wage cut was a dead-end from the start. For him, this was a matter of finance but for Byram there was a bigger picture and Cellino can either wallow in bitterness or open his eyes to it. The Italian could not promise promotion. At this stage he could not promise the play-offs. He could not even promise that when next season starts he will be present at Elland Road and in control. It would be strange in the circumstances, and a slight on Byram’s attitude, if a specific salary was enough to make those concerns inconsequential. On reflection, it is fair to ask if any amount of cash would have tempted Byram to tie himself to the chief mountaineer. Robert Snodgrass nailed this debate in May 2012, at a time when his own exit was looming. “I’d love to get into the Premier League with Leeds,” he said. “The chairman (Bates) is trying to put pressure on me and he’s telling me what plans he has for the club. But they told me the same type of plans the season before and it didn’t work out so it’s hard to buy into these things again.” Footballers think like that. Football works like that. And reality looks like that. But yes, it’s all about greed and it’s all about money. It’s all a case of how big a house you can buy. As doubtless it will be when this familiar scenario repeats itself – again.

SamByramWHU

Sam Byram – West Ham player

Tues 19th of Jan. Byran becomes a Hammer Sam Byram has completed his move from Leeds United to West Ham United. The 22-year-old signed a four-and-a-half year deal at Upton Park today, bringing an end to his promising career at Elland Road.Byram had been the subject of an intense fight between Everton and West Ham and the London club secured his signature after stepping into rival Everton’s £3.7m bid. Several sources have indicated that West Ham will effectively match that fee but United owner Massimo Cellino insisted on Monday night that the Hammers’ offer was “much lower” than Everton’s. The Italian said he had been forced to accept it due to Byram’s insistence on moving to Upton Park. The right-back passed a medical yesterday and put pen to paper early this afternoon. West Ham were believed to have initially suggested the option of loaning Byram back to Leeds for the rest of the Championship season but United insisted on a straight cash deal. Byram, who broke through from Leeds’ academy in 2012 and won the club’s player of the year award in his first season as a professional, played 143 times for United and scored 10 goals. A statement from Leeds read: “Sam leaves with the club’s best wishes and appreciation of his efforts during his time at Leeds United.”Byram told West Ham’s official website: I’m unbelievably proud and happy to join a club as big as this. I’m just looking forward to what the future holds and hopefully I can achieve things with the team going forward. “It’s a childhood dream of mine to play in the Premier League so to have the chance to get into a team like this and I just want to get my head down, work hard and hopefully get a chance. “I spoke to the manager and he is one of the main reasons which attracted me to West Ham. I think he’s done unbelievably well with his team so far so I’m really looking forward to working with him and his staff. “My uncle and my cousin are big West Ham fans and have bought their tickets for the new stadium. My uncle was down here yesterday getting a shirt with my name on the back. It’s nice to have them down here and they’ll help me settle.”

Mon 18th of January Crucial time coming up now There is a crucial time coming to the fore now for Leeds United. To all intents and purposes we seem safe from relegation, 11 points away from Bristol City in 21st and not a cat’s chance in hell of reaching the play offs, 13 points off Sheff Wednesday in 6th. The transfer business was supposed to have been completed early in January to give the manager a chance. It wasn’t and he has performed admirably with one hand behind his back. The big question now is ‘Will Cellino  release some of the four million pounds from Byram’s ultimate transfer to Evans or continue to keep his head in the sand with this ridiculous on/off Lafferty fiasco as a prime example of his transfer tactics ? Let’s face it if he was that good other clubs would have jumped in and nabbed him already.

For most of Saturday we were the better team against Wednesday, but they had better quality where it matters most on a football pitch….in the final third. Forestieri and Hooper caused us problems and ultimately goals win games. Yes we should have had a goal, but ultimately Doukara isn’t as potent as either of their front two and there is nothing wrong with his ‘mentality’ as far as I can see. We are four players short of a decent side. Silvestri on his day is decent but has too many off days and can’t deal with crosses. Saturday was one of his ‘off’ days. Ultimately we need a better net minder. Cooper is a fine centre half but lacks pace. He can be payed with a decent partner. Unfortunately, we heven’t got one at the club for him. Bamba and Bellusci are always a mistake or in the latter’s case a red card away from anything. A central defender with pace and leadership is a must. I think we are fine in midfield but we need an out and out striker, a poacher, a finisher. There isn’t one at the club, and the nearest we have is Antenucci. I’d love a Lee Bowyer type box to box midfielder and I think Lewis Cook in time could develp his game into that role but the lad has to take more responsibility to shoot when he gets in the final quarter.

Evans has proved astute in the transfer market. Bridcutt looks quality. In the first half against Sheff Weds he ran the show. He needs more help, but I would love to see Evans get three more of his signings in. This bullshit about having to be in or around the play offs for funds to be released is just that….bullshit. Surely it’s all the more reason we need quality players in because we are so far away from the play offs. Sheff Weds are an example of a club who have invested wisely in players and look where that has taken them…..6th.

But then again, I suspect their chairman doesn’t scout and sign the players. Allegedly we have had offers for Bamba, Bellusici, Antenucci, and Bianchi. Personally, I’d snap the hand off at every one of those offers. They can all be replaced and quite easily. Taylor, Berardi, Cook, Bridcutt, Cooper, Dallas, Wood, Mowatt, Carayaol, would form the nucleus of my team. Coyle can grow into it. Murphy, Adeymymi have a bit to do for me and the jury is out on Erwin.

The manager needs to me backed. Give him a chance and see where that takes us. Whats is there to lose at this stage ?

AntenuccivHarogate

The Beard may return to Italy

Mon 18th of Jan Antenucci may go back to Italy Steve Evans insisted last night that he wanted to keep Mirco Antenucci at Elland Road with Serie B club Ascoli pushing to take the striker back to Italy before the end of the January window. Evans has promised Antenucci a part to play in the second half of Leeds United’s season but the club’s head coach conceded that a dwindling contract might encourage the forward to look for opportunities elsewhere. The 31-year-old is six months away from the end of his deal at Elland Road and Leeds’ reluctance to open talks about an extension have alerted Italian clubs to his potential availability. Ascoli are the most seriously interested and hope to land the 31-year-old in the remainder of the current window. Antenucci, whose partner was expecting their second child this month, is understood to be keen on moving back to Italy with his future in England the subject of increasing doubt. The former Torino player –signed on a two-year deal from Ternana in the summer of 2014 – has scored five times this season but lost his starting place last month after Evans adopted a formation with the a lone striker up front. United have so far refused to enter contract talks on account of Antenucci’s age. Evans said: I like Antenucci and I can’t hide that fact. I’d like to keep him and I’ve told (Massimo) Cellino that. We need strengthening in that area. We don’t want to get weaker.”Mirco’s a top-class professional but at the same time I do understand his personal circumstances and I know the situation with his contract. Only the president can decide if Mirco is going to get a new one.”Because of Mirco’s age, as a club we have to ask whether the package he’d would be looking for is value for money from our point of view. We have to ask if that’s the right use of money. From my point of view, what I need to see as a coach is Mirco playing well and scoring goals.”Antenucci will be involved in tomorrow’s Yorkshire derby at Sheffield Wednesday and Evans has a decision to make about his attack with Chris Wood’s fitness still in doubt. Wood has missed the past three games with a hamstring strain and Evans said United’s medical staff would assess him again this morning before making a decision on his availability for Hillsborough. Souleymane Doukara has started the previous two fixtures and scored in both – including a strike after just 13 seconds against Ipswich Town on Tuesday – but Leeds struggled to create chances at Portman Road and Evans conceded that a “bright performance for 20 minutes” had been followed by a period in which United were “average to poor”. Both of Ipswich’s came via crosses from left winger Ryan Fraser but Evans spoke out in defence of Scott Wootton, a defender he has used at right-back in the absence of the injured Gaetano Berardi. Berardi will be absent with ankle ligament damage until the middle of next month and Evans is favouring Wootton at right-back to youngsters Sam Byram and Lewis Coyle. Evans said: “A lot of the criticism I hear of Scott is unfair. I know what we see in training and in the games and I’m not going allow myself to pick a team based on the fact that some people are criticising an individual player. I’m not saying Scott hasn’t made the odd mistake but as a coaching staff we see good defensive qualities in Scott. I’ll pick the team I think is right, not a team I think is popular.”

Sat 16th of January Sheff Weds 2 (Hooper 47, 50), Leeds 0 United team: Silvestri, Wootton, Bellusci, Cooper, Taylor, Dallas, Bridcutt, Murphy (Antenucci 75), Cook, Carayol (Mowatt 70), Doukara. Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Coyle, Bamba, Adeyemi, Erwin. Referee: Anthony Taylor. Booked: Hutchinson, Pudil (Wednesday), Bellusci, Cook (United) Att: 23,909 The lunchtime Yorkshire derby away to Sheffield Wednesday saw United head coach Steve Evans make two changes from the side beaten 2-1 at Ipswich Town earlier in the week as Stuart Dallas and Luke Murphy were both recalled to the starting line-up in place of Sam Byram and Alex Mowatt. The first chance of the game fell for the in-form hosts just seven minutes in at Hillsborough, striker Gary Hooper heading Jack Hunt’s deep cross over the bar under pressure from two yellow shirts inside the United area. Evans’ side soon threatened, though, and the Wednesday defenders cut relieved figures as goalkeeper Lewis Price gathered the ball after Souleymane Doukara’s scuffed effort had almost fallen perfectly for Mustapha Carayol inside the area, but the on-loan winger also failed to SheffWedscontrovget the desired connection. Wednesday then somehow managed to keep United at bay with more desperate defending from a similar scenario inside the 13th minute. Dallas drove forward down the right and saw his low strike pushed away unconvincingly by Price into the path of Lewis Cook, but the hosts’ defence had bodies on the line to block from close-range before also scrambling clear from Doukara’s follow up effort. United were looking the more likely to open the scoring during the early exchanges, but Wednesday were able to deal with a series of dangerous-looking deliveries into the box. Cook again came close to breaking the deadlock on the counter-attack after Glenn Loovens had surrendered possession inside the Owls’ half. The young midfielder strode forward with intent but lashed his low strike just wide of Price’s far post, with the Wednesday goalkeeper sprawling across his line. Marco Silvestri was then called into action at the opposite end for the first time of the afternoon but was able to hold Fernando Forestieri’s effort comfortably from the edge of the area, while Price clutched Doukara’s low strike from distance as the sides went in goalless at the break. The teams re-emerged unchanged and Wednesday made a blistering start to the second half, opening the scoring within two minutes of the restart as Hooper forced the ball over the line after a goalmouth scrambled had ensued following a deep corner. Hooper then doubled the advantage with a quick-fire second just three minutes later, reacting first to poke the rebound from Forestieri’s long-range effort beyond Silvestri. Forestieri twice tried his luck with strikes from distance as Wednesday went in search of a third, but it was United who came closest to adding the next goal of the game through Doukara after a surging run from Murphy. The midfielder threaded Doukara into a shooting position on the right side of the penalty area, but his powerful low effort brushed the side-netting at Price’s near post. Evans was prompted into his first change of the afternoon as the game entered the final 20 minutes, with Alex Mowatt replacing Carayol in midfield. Mirco Antenucci was also soon introduced in place of Murphy as United pushed for a way back into the game, and the travelling supporters thought that was the case when captain Liam Cooper had guided Dallas’ free-kick into the net after 78 minutes. But, after much deliberation between referee Anthony Taylor and his officials, the goal was overruled due to Wednesday being caught between taking a substitution as Forestieri had failed to fully leave the pitch while being replaced by Lucas Joao. The free-kick was retaken and cleared off the line as Wednesday somehow maintained their two-goal lead, before Antenucci fired wide with the final chance of the game as the hosts claimed the Yorkshire derby spoils. Steve Evans : “I thought we were very good in the first half. We made a host of chances but didn’t take any of them. “It was a mad 10-minute spell at the start of the second half and two individual errors for their goals. “Then we got back in control of the game and then it’s just a strange decision. “I clearly saw the referee restart play, I clearly saw him wave hands and our players have told me he shouted ‘play’. “Then he stopped it and restarted again. I have never seen anything like it in football; it’s a completely bizarre decision.” Reflecting on his side’s missed chances, Evans added: “Games are won in both boxes. We made four or five good chances in the first half and didn’t take any of them. “They took advantage of a couple of errors in our box. That’s difficult to take on a day where we’ve controlled the action for a long time. “I didn’t think it was close, I think we were dominant in the first half. It’s easy to say, but after their two goals they were always going to have a bit of ascendancy but we got into the ascendancy again ourselves.”

Sam Byram

Byram about to join a road well travelled by Snodgrass, Howson, Gradel and countless others

Thurs 14th of Jan. Byram off to Everton Sam Byram’s career at Leeds United appeared to be nearing an end last night after the club accepted a £3.7m offer for him from Everton. Byram is on the verge of quitting Elland Road following Everton’s decision to move in with a seven-figure bid for Leeds’ former player-of-the-year. The Premier League side sent European scout Ian Atkins to watch Byram during Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat to Ipswich Town and have tempted United to cash in on him. Byram’s exit was widely expected this month after Leeds failed with attempts to extend his contract, which expires at the end of this season. Owner Massimo Cellino angered Byram’s camp last December by proposing a deal which would have cut the 22-year-old’s £12,000-a-week salary. Byram rejected that offer out of hand and was publicly criticised by Cellino. The Italian accused Byram – the leading appearance-maker in United’s current squad after 143 games – of thinking “Leeds was too small for him” but contract talks resumed briefly two months ago after head coach Steve Evans asked Cellino to start fresh negotiations. Byram, however, rejected an offer to retain his existing wage and tie him down to the summer of 2017. Evans has continued to use him in United’s Championship season but the club were prepared to sell Byram if their valuation of him was met. The club stood to earn around £2m in compensation if Byram remained at Elland Road until the end of his deal. West Ham United were also interested in him but Everton’s bid is likely to prompt a rapid exit provided Byram agrees personal terms and passes a medical.

Tues 12th of Jan IPSWICH 2 (Chambers 50, Pitman 90+1), Leeds 1 (Doukara 1) United team: Silvestri, Wootton, Bellusci, Cooper, Taylor, Byram, Bridcutt, Mowatt (Phillips 60), Cook (Antenucci 79), Carayol (Dallas 64), Doukara. Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Coyle, Bamba, Murphy. Referee: Frederick Graham Booked: Douglas, Chambers (Ipswich), Phillips (United) Att: 19,146 (1,259 United)

The midweek trip to Ipswich Town saw United head coach Steve Evans make three changes from the weekend’s Emirates FA Cup Third Round victory over Rotherham. Scott Wootton, Lewis Cook and Alex Mowatt all returned to the side, with Lewie Coyle, Luke Murphy and Mirco Antenucci dropping to the bench in a shift to a 4-5-1 formation. United made a lightening start to proceedings at a bitterly cold Portman Road, opening the scoring within just 12 seconds of the game getting underway as Souleymane Doukara stole possession from Jonathan Douglas on the edge of the area before calmly slotting into the bottom corner. The hosts looked to mount a quick response and Marco Silvestri was called into action to turn behind Daryl Murphy’s effort after the Ipswich striker had evaded several challenges to work his way into the area. The fast-paced early exchanges continued and Ipswich goalkeeper Dean Gerken needed to be alert to turn Mustapha Carayol’s deflected cross over his crossbar, before the hosts started to put United under a spell of sustained pressure with several deliveries into the box. The defence was holding firm, though, and Ipswich were mainly limited to efforts from distance as Silvestri kept out long-range strikes from Kevin Bru and Murphy. Ipswich then drew the best save of the evening from Silvestri on the stroke of half-time, Ryan Fraser clipping an effort towards the top corner, only to see it acrobatically tipped over the crossbar as United’s slender lead was preserved going into half-time. The hosts maintained their pressure after the restart and Sears had the second half’s first sight of goal, curling over the bar from 20 yards out just moments before Ipswich eventually managed to convert one of their chances to pull themselves level. It was captain Luke Chambers who grabbed the equalising goal after 50 minutes, sending a towering header beyond the sprawling Silvestri after rising inside the area to meet a left-wing cross. Cole Skuse curled inches wide from just outside the area as the home crowd urged their side forward in search of a second, before Evans looked to stem the tide as he was prompted into his first changes as the hour mark passed. First, Kalvin Phillips was introduced in place of Mowatt in midfield, before Stuart Dallas replaced Carayol on the wing. But Ipswich continued to press and were a whisker away from finding the net again as Bru’s cross from deep almost crept in at the far post after an awkward bounce inside the United area. Silvestri then held a looping header from Murphy, but it was the forward’s replacement, Brett Pitman, who came closest to a winner five minutes from time. Sears beat the onrushing Silvestri to the ball, knocking it around the United goalkeeper before drilling an effort across the face of goal which the lunging Pitman narrowly failed to connect with as he ended up in the back of the net and the ball rolled harmlessly behind. Ipswich’s dominance eventually paid off in the first of five minutes of stoppage time as Pitman stooped to head home another left-wing cross and clinch the three points, bringing a gut-wrenching halt to United’s eight-game unbeaten run. Evans :Steve Evans admitted his disappointment with the way his side allowed Ipswich Town to come from behind and snatch a late 2-1 victory at Portman Road on Tuesday night.“I think they were as bad in spells as we were, for 20 minutes we controlled the game and were unfortunate not to be two up.”They looked disjointed but you know how they play, they’re always going to grind themselves into the game and launch it to Murphy and fight for second balls. It’s how they play.”In the second half they had a lot of play but I don’t remember too many chances from them, but if you switch off you’re going to get punished. “For the first goal, we’d talked about the boy Chambers arriving at the back post because it’s what he does, he’s scored a couple recenty. “You show players clips and you walk them through it on the training ground and if they don’t carry it out, ultimately it will tell you if they do it consistently then they’re not good enough. “The second goal was a shambles really. We’ve got it in the corner and we’re thinking it’s going to be a corner to us, but 10 seconds later the boy Pitman comes alive in the box.”

Sat 9th of Jan FA Cup 3rd Round LEEDS 2 (Carayol 45, Doukara 89), ROTHERHAM 0 Leeds team: Silvestri, Coyle, Bellusci (Bamba 79), Cooper, Taylor, Byram, Bridcutt, Murphy (Cook 87), Carayol (Dallas 74), Antenucci, Doukara. Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Wootton, Phillips, Bianchi. Referee: Andy WoolmerBooked: Clarke-Harris (Rotherham)Att: 16,039 (1,344 Rotherham) Report from LUFC website

Rotherhamcelebs

Players celebrate the first goal

The Emirates FA Cup Third Round tie at home to Rotherham United saw Leeds head coach Steve Evans make four changes from the 1-1 draw with MK Dons a week earlier.

Mustapha Carayol, just over 24 hours after signing on loan from Middlesbrough for the remainder of the season, went into the starting line-up for his debut, while there was also a first start for young full-back Lewie Coyle and returns to the side for Giuseppe Bellusci and Mirco Antenucci.

United started brightly and looked to mount an early attack down the left through Carayol, only for his back-post cross to be stolen from the toes of Sam Byram, before the visitors had the game’s first real sight of goal through former Leeds midfielder Paul Green.

Marco Silvestri was equal to his low effort from the edge of the area with a sprawling save, while Antenucci threatened at the opposite end as his cross from the right was blocked inside a crowded area after working his way to the byline.

Grant Ward then dragged wide for the Millers from a similar position to Green’s earlier attempt, before the 34th minute saw Leeds test goalkeeper Lee Camp for the first time of the afternoon.

A delightful, floated cross from Liam Bridcutt found Byram at the back post, but Camp was able to get down sharply to beat away his goalwards header with a strong, two-handed save.

It signalled a strong end to an otherwise forgettable first half for Leeds, with the hosts starting to put Rotherham under some sustained pressure with a series of corners.

Souleymane Doukara and Byram both threatened from inside the area, before the lively Carayol broke the deadlock with a thunderous strike from 25 yards on right on the stoke of half-time after a clever cutback from Charlie Taylor.

The Millers made one change at the break, introducing Jonson Clarke-Harris, who was on target against Leeds at the New York Stadium last season, in place of Shay Facey.

But Leeds, who remained unchanged, were looking to pick up where they had left off and threatened twice in quick succession during the early stages of the second half.

Byram was involved on both occasions, first just being inches away from connecting with Bridcutt’s back-post cross after a strong run down the left from the on-loan midfielder, before firing into Camp’s arms after cutting inside of his marker on the edge of the area.

Liam Cooper then headed a Luke Murphy cross towards goal but Camp was again able to hold, before Rotherham started to apply some pressure of their own, twice threatening through substitute Emmanuel Ledesma.

Silvestri tipped the midfielder’s low strike from range behind with a smart save, before Ledesma’s 20-yard free-kick flew harmlessly over the Leeds crossbar.

Evans was prompted into his first change of the afternoon with just over 15 minutes remaining on the clock, replacing Carayol with Stuart Dallas.

Thw final act from the goalscoring debutant, who left the field to a standing ovation, was to drag wide from the edge of the area from a not too dissimilar position to his opener as Leeds chased a second.

Bellusci was then forced off with injury to be replaced by Sol Bamba in defence, and the Leeds captain came close to a second within five minutes of entering the pitch, sending a towering header high and wide after meeting Dallas’ free-kick.

Leeds’ progression to the Fourth Round was then sealed in the final minute of the game, with Doukara taking advantage of a mix-up in the Rotherham defence to slot into an empty net and secure a Yorkshire derby victory to make it eight games unbeaten.

CarolevRotherham

What a debut for the new signing

Reflecting on his goal, Carayol said: “As soon as Charlie cut it back I knew I was going to hit it. “I played against Rotherham two weeks ago and scored from 30 yards, so I kept saying to myself during the game ‘If I get a chance to hit the ball, I’m going to hit it’. I’m happy that it has flown in again. “I’m pleased that I’ve been able to please some of the fans. I was taking a bit of a battering on Twitter because I’ve come from Middlesbrough and stuff like that. “But that’s part of football and hopefully I can show them what I can do and chip in with a few more goals between now and the end of the season. “I’m going to keep working hard and hopefully you will see the performances on the pitch. “The gaffer just said to me ‘go out there and be positive’. I’ve played for him before and he knows what type of player I am.” Asked about kicking on during the second half of the season on the back of an eight game unbeaten run, Carayol added: “It was a really tough game on Saturday. “We had to dig in and the result was the most important thing. “Every game from now until the end of the season is going to be tough. We have to be positive and try to win every game to have a chance of making the top six. “I’m looking forward to it. I’ll be really glad if we can come away from Ipswich with another positive result.”

 

Sun 10th of Jan Transfer links through Vital Football Vital Leeds United is once again keeping you up to date with all the transfer rumours surrounding the club during the transfer window. The week started well for Leeds with the news that on loan midfielder Liam Bridcutt had extended his loan deal with the club for the remainder of the season. By the end of the week, Leeds had added a second player with Middlesbrough winger Mustapha Carayol signing on loan. His move coming out of the blue having not been previously linked with a move to Elland Road. Leeds have been linked with a number of players coming into Elland Road this week. Football League World have linked Peterborough striker Connor Washington with a move to Leeds. The Daily Mail is linking highly regarded Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish with a move to Leeds. Aston Villa midfielder Gary Gardner was also linked with a move to Leeds before opting to join fellow championship side Nottingham Forest according to The 72. A number of players have been linked with a move away from Elland Road in the past week. Young midfielder Lewis Cook is being linked with an £8m move to AFC Bournemouth with Shoot the first people to link him with a move to the south coast club. Leicester City and Norwich City are the latest Premier League sides to be linked with Sam Byram according to Clubcall. The Daily and Sunday Express are also linking him with a move to Crystal Palace. Byram has also been linked with Watford by Shoot , but the Premier League club have denied any interest. Swansea City are also interested according to Wales Online. Striker Mirco Antenucci is being linked with Ascoli, Bari and Cagliari according to Inside Football and Alfredo Pedulla is linking him with Novara. Sport Witness also linked him with a move to Pescara. Fellow Italian Giuseppe Bellusci is also being linked with a return to his home country. Inside Football state that a number of clubs are interested in the central defender with Hellas Verona having tabled a bid. They also claim that Leeds owner Massimo Cellino has slapped a £4m to £5m price tag on him. Midfielder Tommaso Bianchi is also being linked with a return to Italy with Ascoli keen to sign him according to tuttomercatoweb. Start IN Kyle Lafferty – Norwich City ( The Express) Anthony Stokes – Celtic (

Sat Jan 9th Alex Neil confirms Kyle Lafferty to Leeds United stanceThe Norwich City boss will not allow Lafferty to leave on loan. Leeds United have been linked with plenty of strikers in recent weeks as Steve Evans looks to make moves in the transfer market. One key name often mentioned is that of Kyle Lafferty. The Norwich City striker has been long linked with a move to Leeds and unconfirmed reports earlier this month seemed to suggest the deal was as good as done. That is now clearly not the case, as Evans informed his press conference earlier in the week. It seems the Lafferty deal is not as straightforward as first thought. Evans made it clear, as reported by the Yorkshire Evening Post, that Norwich are not keen on sending Lafferty to Leeds on loan – instead wanting a permanent deal. Now NorwichCity boss Alex Neil has had his say on the matter. He spoke to the press yesterday as Norwich prepare for a FA Cup third round tie against Manchester City. He is quoted by the Eastern Daily Press as stating: “The reasons Leeds are saying that is because that is exactly what I told Steve on Thursday when I spoke to him. We are not looking to loan Kyle out.” The Norwich boss continued, “If someone wants to come and get him then they need to buy him. That is basically where we are. We have Kyle on our books, he is part of our squad, he will be in the FA Cup squad and if Leeds want him they come and buy him, if they don’t want do that then it is done as far as I am concerned.”-. Leeds should either buy the player or move on. Personally, I believe there are better options out there than the unproven (at league level) Lafferty.

Jan 8th Carayol delighted to reunite with Leeds head coach Evans at ‘biggest’ club in league Mustapha Carayol signs on loan for Leeds. Mustapha Carayol is looking forward to another opportunity to work with Leeds United head coach Steve Evans after joining the Whites on loan on Friday. The 27-year-old also revealed that he did not view signing for the “biggest” club in the Championship as a difficult decision. Carayol spent the first half of the season on loan with Huddersfield Town, an agreement that was ended earlier this week. The Gambia international winger played under Evans at Crawley Town when he was 18-years-old and admits they have kept in touch since. “I know the gaffer well – I played for him when I was 18 years old and we’ve always kept in contact,” Carayol said. “He fired me a text to see if I would fancy coming down. You just have to when Leeds United come calling – it’s probably the biggest club in the Championship. I’m here and I’m looking forward to it. “There’s nothing better as a professional footballer to have a manager that understands you and actually knows your style of play. “The manager knows how I play, so I’m just looking forward to playing in front of the fans and showing them what I can do. “I’ve matured a lot from when I first played under him, though – I was just 18 at the time when I was on loan at Crawley. “I’m now probably at a rebuilding stage in my career personally. It’s no secret that I had a bad injury and I was out for a long period of time. “These have been the first six months where I’ve been fully fit and I’m feeling better and better by the day. Carayol believes the outlook at Leeds is similar to that of his parent club Boro, and hopes he can achieve “something great” while at Elland Road. “I’ve come from Middlesbrough, where in every game you’re expected to win,” he said. “There’s not much difference in my mind frame coming here. “I’m going to go out there and try to win every game. “I’ve heard about the fans and how passionate they are about the club doing well. Hopefully I can be a part of something great for the rest of the season.”

Jan 8th Leeds aim for three or four additional signings in January Leeds United head coach Steve Evans is hopeful of making another ‘three or four’ signings in the January transfer window after adding Mustapha Carayol to his squad on Friday. Carayol joined the Whites on loan from Middlesbrough until the end of the season. The 27-year-old spent the first half of the campaign with Huddersfield Town. Carayol is available for today’s FA Cup third round tie against Rotherham United.The Gambia international winger previously worked with Evans at Crawley Town, and the Leeds chief revealed that Carayol was quick to jump aboard once the opportunity to move to Elland Road came about. Mustapha played for me as a kid many years ago at Crawley and we have often come across each since and kept in touch,” said Evans. “He was delighted to receive a call from the head coach at Leeds United and it took him less than three seconds to say ‘I’ll get in the car in the next 10 minutes and head to Leeds’. “I don’t want to say what he will or won’t do, but what I can say is that every time I’ve seen him play he looks a serious threat to the opposition and he gets the opportunity to challenge for a place in the team. “I look forward to this being the first of three or four further additions to the group before the end of the month.” He will be in the 18 for our home FA Cup tie with Rotherham.”

Fri Jan 8th Carayol joins Bridcutt as 2nd arrival Leeds United have confirmed the signing Middlesbrough winger Mustapha Carayol on loan until the end of the season.The 27-year-old is Leeds’ second signing of the January transfer window, following the addition of Liam Bridcutt on loan from Sunderland. He has been handed the number 18 shirt and will be available for Saturday’s FA Cup third round tie against Rotherham United. He said: This is a great opportunity for me to come here and hopefully play some regular football at a very big club. “I know the gaffer and Paul Raynor from my time at Crawley and I am looking forward to working with both of them again here. “It was a move which happened very quickly and one which I am delighted to have been able to finalise so soCarayolNewon. “I’m looking forward to meeting up with the lads, I’ve got my first training session this morning and I’m available to play in the cup should I be picked. “I’d love to make my debut at Elland Road in front of the Leeds United supporters. I’ve played there before and I know what it’s all about. It’s a special place to play football” .Carayol spent the first half of this season on loan with Huddersfield Town, appearing 15 times for the West Yorkshire side and scoring three times. He previously spent two months with Brighton and Hove Albion on loan. Carayol was born in Banjul, Gambia, but has spent the entirety of his career in England. He represented the likes of MK Dons, Crawley Town, Torquay United, Lincoln City and Bristol Rovers before signing for Middlesbrough in 2012. He has made 50 appearances for Boro.

Sat 2nd of Jan Leeds 1 (Kay OG 88), MK DONS 1 (Hall 30) United team:  Silvestri, Wootton, Bamba, Cooper, Taylor, Byram, Cook, Bridcutt, Murphy (Antenucci 45), Dallas (Coyle 76), Doukara (Erwin 58). Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Bellusci, Phillips, Adeyemi. Referee: Jeremy Simpson. Booked: Bamba, Byram (United), Murphy, Carruthers, Hall, McFadzean, Kay (MK Dons) Att:  24,356 (407 MK Dons) Report from Official website

LEEDS V MKDONS

Bamba celebrates late OG v MK Dons

KyleLaffertyPics

Kyle Lafferty

United’s first game of 2016, the visit of MK Dons, saw head coach Steve Evans make two changes from the 2-2 draw at home to Derby County earlier in the week. Striker Chris Wood missed out as a precaution to a minor hamstring strain picked up just minutes after heading his side in front against the Rams, with Souleymane Doukara taking his place in attack for a first league start in over 12 months, while Tom Adeyemi made way for Lewis Cook in midfield.  The early exchanges passed without incident and with little in the way of goalmouth action, other than a couple of Leeds counter-attacks through Lewis Cook and Sam Byram which the MK Dons defence managed to deal with. The visitors were dealt a blow on the 14th-minute mark, though, and were forced into an early substitution as the injured Carl Baker was replaced by Dean Bowditch. The game’s first effort on goal eventually came after 28 minutes, with Rob Hall curling a 20-yard free-kick high and wide of Marco Silvestri’s crossbar for the Dons. But Hall was on target just two minutes later to give the visitors a first-half lead, tucking the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the area after it had rolled kindly into his path following Nicky Maynard’s run down the right. Leeds looked to mount a response but they remained in search of a first real sight of goal as the Dons took their lead into the break, with only a blocked strike from Doukara and a header from Byram in an offside position during the closing stages of the half threatening a leveller. Evans was prompted into his first change of the afternoon at the interval, returning to a more attack-minded 4-4-2 formation as Luke Murphy was sacrificed in midfield to make way for striker Mirco Antenucci. United came agonisingly close to an equaliser on 56 minutes from a free-kick drawn by Byram following another quick break up-field from Cook. Charlie Taylor’s curling effort looked destined to nestle in the back of the Dons net, only for the ball to clip the outside of the post and bounce behind with goalkeeper David Martin rooted to the spot. There was suddenly an added urgency in the hosts’ play and Evans looked to build on that as he made his second change shortly before the hour mark, replacing Doukara with Lee Erwin in attack. But it was the Dons who came closest to adding the second goal of the game, with Hall firing over from range before Nicky Maynard forced Silvestri into a superb reflex save to turn behind his goalbound effort after the striker had burst into the United area. Leeds looked to be starting the year with a frustrating defeat but were able to pull level just two minutes from time as Dons defender Antony Kay turned Taylor’s cross beyond his own goalkeeper to set up a frantic finale. United sent men forward in numbers during five minutes of added time, but there proved to be no late drama as the spoils were shared. It’s no good getting decent draws at Forest and at home to Derby and throwing away points at home to the likes of MK Dons and Rotherham. The good teams blow sides like these away. We raise our game against the better sides and yet lack the creativity and guile to punish the weaker sides at home. Better players can’t come into this side quick enough for me.  Managers’ reaction LEEDS head coach Steve Evans admitted Saturday’s 1-1 draw with MK Dons was a below-par performance from his side – and reiterated plans were underway to bring in “three or four” new players this month. Evans is hoping to extend midfielder Liam Bridcutt’s loan from Sunderland, and he revealed Leeds were in talks with Norwich over the possibility of signing striker Kyle Lafferty. “We need to strengthen the group and we’re working really hard to try and do that, he said. We’re working hard to make that happen but we’re not going to be held to ransom on wages or fees. “There’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes. I had a full update (on Friday) from the president on three or four players we’re really keen to bring in. He’s as keen as I am. “We will strengthen the group. The first one I want through the door is Liam Bridcutt and we’ll see where the others go in the next few days ahead.” On Lafferty, who Evans said was at Elland Road to watch the game, the former Rotherham boss added: “The clubs are having a chat. We’ll see where it goes.” Meanwhile, Dons manager Karl Robinson refused to blame Antony Kay after the defender’s late own goal at Elland Road denied his side their first Sky Bet Championship away win since the opening day of the season. “It’s the greatest game in the world. That’s why it is, “A team that has come to one of the greatest grounds in the country and performed the way we did, with no fear on a pitch that was difficult – although credit to the ground staff to get that game on – we can be immensely proud of that performance. “Let’s not talk about the error at the end. It’s human error and we can accept that. “It’s part of life, the mistakes we make as human beings. It wasn’t a lack of effort or lack of desire. “How can I be frustrated when they play like that? The players were excellent. “If we’d managed to win this it would have been one of my best wins as a manager.” “I thought he got away with the sending-off because (Maynard) was clear on goal,” he said. “For me it’s a definite penalty as well.” 

Jan 1st Leeds United: Doubt still hangs over Byram and Bridcutt- Phil Hay The question of who Steve Evans will sign this month is counterbalanced by the question of who he might lose. Sam Byram and Liam Bridcutt will appear against MK Dons tomorrow, potentially for the last time in Leeds United colours. Conceivably, too, Bridcutt and Byram could both be on the books at Elland Road when Leeds wrap up their season in May. Bridcutt’s emergency loan from Sunderland ends this weekend but Evans wants to extend it until the summer, with a view to signing him permanently. A big offer would take Byram elsewhere in January but his contract runs to July and the promise of compensation means United can be picky. Doubt hangs over the two players who were most influential for Evans in December, a period which is certain to put United’s head coach in contention for the manager-of-the-month award. Leeds were dismal on Bridcutt’s debut at QPR but have not been beaten in six matches since then. Byram scored three times last month, produced two assists and – with unfortunate timing – made himself look like the forward Uwe Rosler thought he could be at the start of the season. Byram, who has been scouted by Aston Villa and linked with Liverpool in the past few weeks, had an emotional look about him when he left the field towards the end of Tuesday’s 2-2 draw with Derby County but Evans says there is currently no deal in place to sell him. Leeds’ head coach prefers the idea of cashing in on Byram quickly rather than waiting until his deal ends on June 30 but there was never any clear suggestion that Derby might be Byram’s final appearance, 139 games on from his first. The 22-year-old, who has recovered from a dead leg, is in fine form and Leeds need a victory over MK Dons tomorrow to keep the play-offs within view. “Until (Massimo) Cellino phones me up and tells me that Sam is being sold, I’ll continue to pick him,” Evans said. “I’m quite relaxed about the situation. “The reason I’m picking him is nothing to do with his contract or anything else. It’s down to his form. The reason he didn’t play for a few weeks a while back was because I wasn’t seeing the performances in training I needed to see from him. “But he’s worked his game up and he’s a fantastic professional. I take a lot of interest in the Prozone stats and in two of the last three games he’s covered more distance than any other player by a quite distance. His attitude’s spot on and he’s been big for us. “I’m able to separate the football side of things from the non-football side but I made the effort to get (contract) talks going between Sam’s people and the club because I didn’t think the lack of communication was helping. Maybe the previous head coach (Rosler) lacked the confidence to go in and have a frank discussion with Mr Cellino but it needed to be done and even though there hasn’t been an agreement, Sam’s looked much happier in himself.” Bridcutt must also be happier for a period of football which has contrasted with much of his career at Sunderland. He had not played this season before Evans signed him in November but he has settled into an out-and-out defensive midfield position at Elland Road and Leeds have taken 12 points from seven games with Bridcutt in the team. The midfielder looks like an asset which Evans cannot afford to lose and United’s boss is quietly confident that he will get his way with Sunderland. The Premier League club want to sell Bridcutt to fund other transfers but Leeds remain intent on extending his loan to the end of the season. Much like Byram, Bridcutt’s future this month is likely to depend on who offers what for him. Evans has said many times that United and Sunderland have a “gentleman’s agreement” for Bridcutt to remain at Elland Road until May. The worry for Evans – aside from the possibility of substantial rival bids for him – might be that once Bridcutt’s loan ends tomorrow, Sunderland could delay in committing to a second loan until the back end of the transfer window. Leeds have time to work with, however, and do not contest another league game until their visit to Ipswich Town on January 12. “I can’t say I don’t have any concern about it but I’m not panicking either,” Evans said. “I know we’ve got a gentleman’s agreement with Sunderland and I’d like to think that will stay in place. But I know that could change if someone makes them or Liam a massive offer. If that happens then I’ll shake his hand and wish him well. “Out of everyone, I’ve probably got the least control over this. A lot of it’s down to Sunderland and Sam Allardyce (Sunderland’s manager) but I’ve asked Liam if he wants to stay and he’s told me ‘100 per cent’. “You can’t praise his performances highly enough and he’s done what I said he’d do when I signed him. But I’m aware of one or two other players out there who could do the same job for me if that’s how it goes. I’m not saying I want to go down that road and I’d love Liam to stay but we’re not going to get caught out.” Sunderland signed Bridcutt from Brighton in 2014 for a fee of around £3m. Brighton, where Bridcutt spent four seasons and contributed significantly to a progressive spell for the Sussex club, are one of the sides believed to be interested in signing him permanently in this window.

Jan 1st ‘Derby game sent out a message’ – Bamba Sol Bamba claimed Leeds United’s performance in a 2-2 draw with Derby County “gave a message” to the rest of the Championship – but refused to talk up the club’s chances of making the play-offs. Leeds came within 12 minutes of completing a home-and-away double over a Derby side that has lost twice all season before a late Tom Ince goal saw the points shared at Elland Road on Tuesday night. Bamba, who returned to Leeds’ line-up after a lengthy absence and scored their first goal, said growing confidence was behind the club’s current six-game unbeaten run but warned that it was “too early” for United to be thinking about a top-six finish. Leeds are nine points behind sixth-placed Ipswich Town but will cut the gap to at least seven if they beat MK Dons tomorrow. Bamba said: “I think (the Derby game) gave a message to the rest of the league. If we play like that then I think we can look up. There’s belief and the confidence that we can go out and perform like that against any team in the league. “It’s a bit of a cliche but we’re taking each game as it comes. So many teams could be in the top six. We definitely want to be in the mix and if we continue this way then we will be but it’s too early to talk about that.” United’s captain said Leeds would be helped by Steve Evans’ plans for the January transfer window coming to fruition. “If you want to do well in the division then you have to have a big squad and I think we’re a bit short,” Bamba said.

Tues Dec 29th Leeds 2 (Bamba 42, Wood 71), DERBY 2 (Hendrick 13, Ince 78) United team: Silvestri, Wootton, Bamba, Cooper, Taylor, Byram (Phillips 88), Adeyemi (Cook 63), Bridcutt, Murphy, Dallas, Wood (Doukara 75). Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Coyle, Bellusci, Antenucci.Referee: Mark Heywood. Booked: Byram, Bridcutt, Murphy (United), Hendrick, Christie (Derby) Att: 23,027 (1,472 Derby) Report from Official website The midweek visit of Derby County, United’s final fixture of 2015, saw head coach Steve Evans make two changes from the previous weekend’s 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest, with captain Sol Bamba returning to defence in place of Giuseppe Bellusci and Tom Adeyemi replacing Lewis Cook in midfield. United saw plenty of the ball inside the early stages but the opening 10 minutes passed without incident as the only effort on goal came through a speculative Sam Byram strike which sailed well over the crossbar as the winger lost his footing. The deadlock was broken on the 13th-minute mark in favour of the visitors, though, as Jeff Hendrick worked his way into the area before lofting the ball over Marco Silvestri from close-range. Leeds looked to mount a quick response and soon threatened an equaliser through Adeyemi, who was on target in the reverse fixture earlier in the season, but the midfielder’s towering header from Byram’s cross flew over Lee Grant’s bar. Jacob Butterfield saw a strike blocked at the opposite end, but United were starting to press in search of an equaliser and Adeyemi turned another header over from another Byram cross. United did manage find an equaliser just three minutes before the break through the unlikely source of Bamba, the defender turning home his first of the season from close-range after Derby failed to deal with a free-kick from deep which was returned goalwards by Stuart Dallas. Openings at both ends were created in three minutes of first-half stoppage time, with Johnny Russell curling over the bar for the visitors after picking up a short corner on the edge of the area, before Chris Wood drove forward before seeing his strike blocked as the sides went in level at the break. United did manage find an equaliser just three minutes before the break through the unlikely source of Bamba, the defender turning home his first of the season from close-range after Derby failed to deal with a free-kick from deep which was returned goalwards by Stuart Dallas. Openings at both ends were created in three minutes of first-half stoppage time, with Johnny Russell curling over the bar for the visitors after picking up a short corner on the edge of the area, before Chris Wood drove forward before seeing his strike blocked as the sides went in level at the break. The teams unchanged re-emerged from the interval and it was Derby who started the second period the brighter of the two, former United midfielder Bradley Johnson smashing over from the edge of the area after Silvestri had pushed Hendrick’s cross into his path. Clear-cut chances were at a premium, though, and Dallas let fly from range but saw his well-hit strike gathered comfortably by Grant. Both managers were prompted into changes just after the hour mark, with Derby replacing Darren Bent with Chris Martin in attack, while United introduced Lewis Cook in place of Adeyemi. Then, inside the 71st minute, Elland Road was brought to its feet as United took the lead for the first time in the game as Wood nodded home an inch-perfect Byram cross from the right in front of the jubilant Kop. Derby also made a change, bringing Tom Ince on in place of Weimann, and it soon paid dividends as the former Blackpool and Hull City winger fired an equaliser into the bottom corner within minutes of entering the pitch to pull his side level. A frantic closing 10 minutes followed, with both sides searching for a late winner. Hendrick had an effort deflected over the bar for Derby after turning inside the area, while Luke Murphy forced Grant to push his 20-yard free-kick behind as it looked to creep into the bottom corner. There proved to be no way through, though, and United ended 2015 by extending their unbeaten run to six games after a thrilling draw.

Tues 29th of Dec Stand off with Sky. After refusing to allow Sky cameras in to broadcast the match v Derby, Cornman finally relented on Tuesday evening when the following statement was released :

Tues 29th of Dec LUFC statement re live games Leeds United have reluctantly allowed Sky cameras into Elland Road to broadcast tonight’s fixture against Derby County.Leeds United have noted that the majority of press reports on the matter have quite rightly appreciated that the club’s issues with the Football League relate in part to the entirely disproportionate number of times Sky have selected the club for live transmission. It is not just the number of times the club has been selected, but the fact the adjoining fixtures are also then disrupted which adversely affects the players, the club’s logistical arrangements and the fans’ arrangements. It is clear to the club that its key supporters, the Season Ticket holders, have also had enough of this constant alteration, often at short notice, to the fixture list to accommodate Sky. Leeds United were required to play Wolverhampton Wanderers on Thursday December 17 followed by Preston North End at home on Sunday December 20, followed by Nottingham Forest on Sunday evening and then Derby County tonight . Recent good results have been achieved despite the alterations to the fixture list, but at great cost to the players’ fitness and a substantial injury list .The festive plans of supporters have also been entirely ruined by Sky’s live TV selections. The league, despite the club having challenged them through the appropriate legal routes, continue to try and alter our schedule by insisting fixtures are changed to suit Sky, including Brighton & Hove Albion away from a Saturday to a Monday in February. Given Sky are to show 92 live games this season, a fair allocation would be four home games per club – so the selection by Sky is clearly unfair and the league are allowing this . The Football League regulations are supposed to be there to protect the integrity of the sporting competition, not to be used as a stick to beat the club on behalf of Sky. Leeds United Season Ticket holders have had enough of these fixture changes, the players and staff have had enough, and Leeds United Football Club has had enough . It is to be noted that the League threaten a disrepute charge against the club. It is the League who are bringing their own competition into disrepute by unfairly prejudicing Leeds (and certain other clubs) by allowing Sky to unfairly disrupt Leeds United for their own commercial purposes.

Mon Feb 22nd No respect for contracts as Evans passes judgement on each player Steve Evans promised to pass ruthless judgement on individual players this summer after an FA Cup defeat to Watford on Saturday drew a line through Leeds United’s campaign. The club’s head coach warned his squad that they were “playing to be part of next season” and said he would have “no respect for contracts” as he faced up to the end of Leeds’ FA Cup run. The competition had kept United’s season alive after they dropped out of the fight for the Championship play-offs but an own goal from Scott Wootton condemned Leeds to a 1-0 loss at Vicarage Road, denying them a first quarter-final appearance since 2003 Evans, whose contract runs to the end of this term but offers the option of a second year as head coach, voiced disappointment with the result and a mediocre league campaign but he defended himself by insisting again that Leeds would be in the promotion race next season.” United are 17th in the current table with 15 fixtures remaining, the first of those at home to Fulham tomorrow night. Evans, who claimed he was happy with “60 per cent” of his squad, said: “It’s not all about next season now because people are playing to be part of next season. People have to produce performances.I’ve got no respect for them having contracts that go beyond the summer. They’ll either be a part of it come the end of the season or not, and they’ll be told to their faces.” Evans has made three signings in his four-month reign as boss, agreeing loan deals for Liam Bridcutt and Mustapha Carayol and paying £575,000 for midfielder Toumani Diagouraga. His transfers, however, have failed to address an acute lack of creativity up front, an issue which was apparent again in a narrow defeat to Watford. Evans said: “We know the type of players we want to bring in and sometimes the exact players. Some of those conversations are happening. “I look at managers at the top end of the league and they get about 10 transfer windows to build a team. We’ve had two – the last one and the one that’s coming in the summer. “I’ve always said it – if I get the players I want, put the kettle on. We’ll be in the promotion race next season. Whether that’s good enough to get up, who knows, but we have to be ready with a group assembled. We need to be in a promotion chase. “I think there’s no doubt that 60 per cent of the squad are very good players and good enough to be part of something here. I looked at Diagouraga in the first half and Bridcutt, and they looked like Premier League players.” Carayol and Liam Cooper were both ruled out of Saturday’s fifth-round tie with minor injuries and are doubtful for tomorrow’s clash with Fulham. Evans will be forced into a change in the centre of defence after Giuseppe Bellusci picked up his 10th booking of the season at Watford, incurring an automatic two-match ban. United’s boss, however, could resist pressure to replace Wootton despite the 53rd-minute blunder which sent Leeds out of the FA Cup. Wootton – a recognised centre-back – has been playing at right-back for much of Evans’ tenure, kept in that position by an injury to Gaetano Berardi and the departure of Sam Byram to West Ham United. Wootton was jeered by sections of United’s 4,200 away crowd following his error at Vicarage Road. But Evans said: “They’ve travelled a long way down the country. They see a player whose form’s been a bit inconsistent and they see him score an own goal. “That wouldn’t just happen at Leeds but because of the size of the support, it probably (sounds) worse.”

Sat 20th of February WATFORD 1 (Wootton og 54), UNITED 0 United team: Silvestri, Wootton, Bellusci, Bamba, Taylor, Bridcutt, Cook, Diagouraga (Botaka 85), Dallas (Mowatt 61), Doukara, Antenucci (Erwin 82). Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Coyle, Adeyemi, Murphy. Referee: Michael Oliver Booked: Bellusci, Bridcutt (United) Att: 18,336 (4,065 United) Report from official website The Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round tie away to Watford saw United head coach Steve Evans make just the one change from the goalless draw with Middlesbrough earlier in the week as captain Sol Bamba returned to the defence in place of the injured Liam Cooper. On-loan winger Mustapha Carayol also missed out through injury, meaning there was a place among the substitutes for Jordan Botaka.

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Diagouraga looked a Premiership player against Watford according to Evans

The hosts, who entered the game occupying ninth place in the Premier League after an impressive return to the top-flight, took just two minutes to have the game’s first sight of goal, striker Troy Deeney seeing his powerful back-post header deflected wide from Juan Carlos Paredes’ right-wing cross.

Miguel Britos then twice headed wide after meeting two corners inside the United penalty area as the Hornets enjoyed the better of the openings during the early exchanges.

The United defence continued to defend deep, watching Jose Holebas’ powerful first-time effort fizz beyond the far post via a deflection, before Evans’ side started to apply some pressure of their own.

Mirco Antenucci led the charge, driving United forward on a quick counter-attack and finding Stuart Dallas inside the Watford area, but the Northern Ireland winger was unable to generate the power needed to test Costel Pantilimon with his curling effort.

Dallas then dragged wide from the edge of the box moments later after some clever exchanges with Souleymane Doukara as United grew into the tie.

At the opposite end, Marco Silvestri needed to be alert to block Paredes’ low cross at the near post, but United remained a threat on the break and their most likely outlet, Dallas, came close again on the stroke of half-time after seeing his low strike deflected behind after cutting inside of his marker.

The two teams re-emerged unchanged from the break and the hosts managed to break the deadlock within just nine minutes of the restart through Scott Wootton’s own goal, with the defender inadvertently turning Ben Watson’s back-post cross into his own net.

And the Hornets thought their lead had been doubled four minutes later, Etienne Capoue turning home a low cross at the back post, but not before referee Michael Oliver had spotted a push from Troy Deeney on Leeds full-back Charlie Taylor.

That chance came moments after Alben Abdi had strode forward unchallenged before blazing over the bar from the edge of the area as the home crowd urged their side forward in search of a quick-fire second.

Evans was prompted into his first change of the afternoon on the hour mark, though, replacing Dallas with Alex Mowatt in midfield, shortly before Pantilimon managed to gather a long-range effort from Liam Bridcutt.

As the game entered the closing stages, both Holebas and Capoue threatened to put the tie beyond United’s reach, the latter smashing his effort over the crossbar after space had opened for up him on the edge of the box.

But United, who had introduced Lee Erwin and Jordan Botaka in a bid to find an equaliser, could well have pulled themselves level with one minute remaining on the clock as Wootton found Doukara in space 15 yards out, but the forward struck well over Pantilimon’s crossbar as the hosts saw out their lead to seal progression to the quarter-finals. Evans on exit : “It’s a cruel way to go out of the cup,”. “I thought they started better than us in the first 10 minutes, but for the next half-an-hour we were by far the better side. We played some good, controlled football and attacked both sides of the pitch. “But after going in at half-time, I don’t think we got back to that level in the second half. “They stepped it up, but I thought we were still quite resolute. It was just a real cruel way to go out to an own goal. “But I couldn’t have asked for any more from the players we had out there. We know we’re missing certain qualities.” On the own goal, which won the game for Watford, Evans added: “I felt for Scott Wootton. He shook hands with all the players and the staff when he came into the dressing room. “He won’t sleep for a few days now. Scott Wootton, or any defender at this level, usually deals with cross like that 20 or 30 times in a match, but he just got caught in two minds.” I don’t know what game you were watching Steve, buy we were never in it and we never ever went at them. Tame , very tame ! We miss wood and Carayol badly and carried no attacking threat today.

Monday 15th of February Leeds 0-0 M’bro United team: Silvestri, Wootton, Bellusci, Cooper, Taylor, Cook, Bridcutt, Diagouraga (Murphy 90+2), Dallas (Mowatt 71), Doukara, Antenucci (Erwin 79). Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Coyle, Bamba, Adeyemi. Referee: Craig Pawson Booked: Diagouraga, Bellusci (United), Clayton, Gibson (Boro) Sent off: Gibson (Boro) Att: 20,424 (2,782 Boro) Report from offical website

The visit of second-placed Middlesbrough saw United head coach Steve Evans name an unchanged side from the 1-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest nine days earlier. The only alteration came on the substitutes bench as Alex Mowatt returned from injury in place of Mustapha Carayol, with the on-loan winger ineligible to face his parent club.

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Silvestri v Boro

Leeds started the brighter of the two sides, dominating the early stages at a bitterly cold Elland Road, as Mirco Antenucci saw his goalbound effort blocked inside the area by Ben Gibson after being played in by Souleymane Doukara, before Stuart Dallas’ back-post header was deflected onto the roof of the net.

The visitors soon threatened at the opposite end, though, as Marco Silvestri saw Gaston Ramirez’s low cross late, forcing Giuseppe Bellusci to turn the ball behind for a corner, from which the Italian defender was well-placed to clear the ball off the line as Boro looked to scramble home from close-range.

Silvestri then held a well-hit effort from Boro full-back Dael Fry, but it was United who looked the more likely to break the deadlock during the early exchanges.

Antenucci raised the tempo, cutting inside before seeing his low effort blocked from 25 yards out, before the woodwork denied Evans’ side an opener on the half-hour mark as Ritchie De Laet turned Charlie Taylor’s back-post corner against his own crossbar.

Doukara then tried his luck from distance, forcing goalkeeper Dimi Konstantopoulos to back-pedal nervously as his audacious attempt brushed the roof of the net on its way over.

The second half began at a somewhat slower pace as both sides patiently probed for a way through.

Christhian Stuani’s dangerous-looking low cross was gathered by Silvestri, while Konstantopoulos was forced off his line at the opposite end to punch clear Bellusci’s long ball as Doukara lurked inside the area.

The visitors were starting to put United under a sustained spell of pressure, though, and Bellusci was on hand again to hack away Emilio Nsue’s downwards header as it looked to be creeping in at the back post, before Stuani hammered a volley into the ground and over the bar after being found arriving inside the area unmarked

Both sides were soon prompted into making changes, Boro introducing attacking duo Albert Adomah and David Nugent, while United brought Mowatt on in place of Dallas.

The home crowd were left wondering how their side had not managed to open the scoring on 71 minutes, as Konstantopoulos somehow flew across his line to claw away Doukara’s header after Taylor’s deep free-kick.

The game seemed to be opening up and Boro broke from the resulting corner, Jordan Rhodes going through on goal before seeing his strike beaten away by a strong two-handed save from Silvestri.

Lee Erwin was introduced to bolster United’s attack, replacing Antenucci with 10 minutes remaining, as the game remained in the balance, but Boro threatened twice in quick succession at the opposite end as Rhodes stooped to head wide from Adomah’s right-wing cross before Stewart Downing fired into Silvestri’s arms.

Doukara then towered a header agonisingly wide of the far post after meeting Taylor’s cross, before United started to pile on the pressure in search of a late winner as Boro were reduced to 10 men in the 89th minute as Gibson collected his second yellow card of the evening for a foul on Erwin.

The best chance during four minutes of added time fell for Doukara after being slotted into the area by Liam Bridcutt, but Konstantopoulos was quick off his line to block, while Taylor hammered a first-time strike over the bar after a corner had fallen into his path.

But there was to be no way through as the visitors saw out a nervy finale to ensure the spoils would be shared. Steve Evans said: “I think I feel unlucky and Aitor Karanka, a good friend of mine, will feel very lucky. “We’ve gone toe-to-toe with a terrific team who have lots of resilience and class. “They had a 10-minute spell in both halves but then it was 75 minutes of Leeds United on top, playing a brand of football we want to play. “By in my eyes, their goalkeeper’s save from Doukara’s header was the best save I’ve seen in a long time. “Everyone in the ground thought it was in, and he made another smart save from Doukara in added time. “We look at them as big chances, they’ll look at the Jordan Rhodes chance which he should put away, but I’m pleased with the players. “There’s no doubt Boro felt we would be the same shape from Forest, and if you look at the first 15 minutes when we battered them, you’d have to say we caught them out a little. “They are a quality side, they’ve got a fantastic chairman who backs them and an excellent head coach who I have an excellent relationship with. But I think he knew this was a really difficult game.” United shaded it tonight and but for good goalkeeping and better finishing would have taken all three points.

Sat 31st of Jan BOLTON 1 (Pratley 81), Leeds 2 (Doukara 9, Diagouraga 40) Leeds team: Silvestri, Wootton, Bellusci, Bamba (Coyle 89), Taylor, Cook (Adeyemi 90+1), Bridcutt, Diagouraga, Dallas, Doukara, Antenucci (Carayol 86). Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Sloth, Murphy, Erwin. Referee: Andre Marriner. Booked: Vela (Bolton) Att: 17,336 (6,630 United) Report from official website

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Doukara celebrates after scoring the first

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Diagouraga scores on his full debut for the Whites

The Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round tie away to Bolton Wanderers saw United head coach Steve Evans make three changes from the team that drew 1-1 at Brentford earlier in the week. Captain Sol Bamba returned to the heart of defence in place of the injured Liam Cooper, while Toumani Diagouraga replaced Luke Murphy in midfield for his full Leeds debut and Mirco Antenucci came in for the injured Chris Wood in attack. The hosts, who were attacking towards United’s biggest away following of the season so far, had the afternoon’s first sight of goal through striker Gary Madine, but Marco Silvestri was able to comfortably hold his effort on the turn from the edge of the area. Darren Pratley then skied a first-time effort after meeting Liam Feeney’s cut-back on the edge of the area, before Lewis Cook had United’s first attempt on goal at the opposite end with a curling effort which Wanderers’ keeper Ben Amos clutched just underneath his crossbar. The frantic start to proceedings showed no signs of letting up and United found a way through after just nine minutes, Souleymane Doukara continuing his fine form in front of goal with a low effort which crept beyond Amos after latching onto Stuart Dallas’ pin-point through ball. The hosts will feel they should have pulled themselves level three minutes later, though, as Madine smashed over from close-range after muscling his way onto the ball in front of goal. A brief spell of Bolton pressure followed, with United forced to defend deep to clear a series of deliveries into the area, before Dallas threatened a second with a strike which sailed well over after skipping away from his marker inside the Bolton box. United had a golden opportunity to double the advantage after 25 minutes following a swift break up-field led by Cook. The midfielder cut inside but opted not to shoot as space opened up for him, instead threading the ball out wide to Antenucci inside the area, who forced a superb one-handed save from Amos at his near post to turn the low strike behind. The advantage was deservedly doubled on the 40th-minute mark and it was the full debutant, Diagouraga, who wheeled away in celebration after meeting Antenucci’s cutback to calmly tuck away his first goal for the club from inside the area. The second period started in a similar manner to the first, with end-to-end attacks making the tie an enthralling watch. United were first, with Taylor just scuffing his strike after being found unmarked at the back post by Cook following another breakaway, before Madine found himself crowded out inside the opposite area as his close-range effort was turned behind. United were inches away from adding a third on the hour mark as another flowing counter-attack carved apart the Bolton defence, only for Scott Wootton to smash agonisingly over the bar after being teed up on the edge of the area by Dallas. Leeds were looking increasingly comfortable as the game progressed and Amos was again called upon to tip a speculative Giuseppe Bellusci free-kick over the bar from distance. Bolton did threaten to pull one back, though, as Liam Feeney worked his way into the area before smashing well over the bar from an acute angle, before Bellusci heroically launched himself in the way of Darren Prately’s ferocious half-volley. But Pratley did manage to find a way through nine minutes from time after a corner fell into his path to hammer the ball emphatically into the roof the net at the back post and set up a nervy finale. And the home fans thought their side had snatched a replay with three minutes remaining, only to see Madine clip the outside of the post from inside the area after Silvestri had pushed Pratley’s initial strike into his path. United held firm during four minutes of added time, though, and did enough to book a place in Sunday evening’s Fifth Round draw.

Sat 30th of Jan Cellino and Evans pore over transfer targets STEVE EVANS says that he and Leeds United president Massimo Cellino are poring over an extensive list of transfer targets ahead of possible beat-the-deadline moves before 11pm on Monday evening. So far this month, United have brought in Brentford midfielder Toumani Diagouraga for £575,000 and Middlesbrough winger Mustapha Carayol on loan – while extending Liam Bridcutt’s loan deal for the rest of the season. Mixed messages may have been displayed in the past few days regarding the chances of more business before the deadline, but United appear still to be active in the market, given their tabling of a £300,000 bid for Barnsley forward Sam Winnall, which was swiftly rejected, and their interest in bringing in Crystal Palace frontman Fraizer Campbell on loan.;” Landing a new striker, exacerbated by fitness concerns surrounding top-scorer Chris Wood, remains a priority – with Norwich’s Kyle Lafferty a big target at the start of the window, although hopes of that deal transpiring have drifted, according to Evans. Whether Leeds land any of the aforementioned targets or not, they have a number of alternatives, according to Evans – who is keen to do several pieces of business in an ideal world before Monday evening, while being mindful of the need for some prudence also. He said: “We are working hard on a lot of fronts. It was not just the boy from Brentford (Diagouraga) and there were other midfield alternatives that the president was also working on. We just so happened to get our first choice. “One hundred per cent, the deal has to be right. This football club cannot go back to the days where the supporters questioned what level it would be at because of the debts and such like. We are in the opposite extent now where we have money available to strengthen the squad and the president has taken my counsel in a lot of those discussions. “I am responsible also, so that there’s prudence around the squad and making sure we have a happy medium in the dressing room.” On the situation regarding Lafferty, Evans said: “I am not aware with what is happening with Lafferty. It’s been drifting for some time now. “As I have always maintained, it is not just Kyle Lafferty who is in the equation for Leeds United, but a number of strikers.”Alongside some incoming business, Evans is also receptive to the idea of fringe players Lee Erwin, Casper Sloth and Jordan Botaka leaving the club to get some game time, with all three currently on the periphery of the first team at the moment and not in his plans. It remains to be seen if firm interest surfaces in any of those players – whether it is regarding a loan or a fill-time move – before Monday evening. But if it does, Evans is unlikely to stand in their way, with the Scot admitting that playing development squad football is not in the best interests of the trio. He added: “We try and treat it on a player by player basis. “But we made it clear that some of the fringe players perhaps need to think about getting some football rather than sitting about playing under-21s, which for me is a process of learning youngsters. “For experienced players, it is just about getting game time, nothing else as under-21s (games) are never played as competitively as first-team games. So if the right opportunity comes for those three to get some game time, then we would look at it.”

Sat 31st of Jan Leeds ‘make bid for Limbombe’ according to NEC Manager braced for departures after Leeds United ‘bid’ for star player manager of NEC has told the Dutch media he’s not worried about players leaving the club. His star player Anthony Limbombe has been linked with a move in the past few days with Leeds United and Granada apparently already putting in bids for the winger. Soccer News have reported on comments Ernest Faber made on the attention his players have been getting from other clubs. NEC are currently 5th in the Dutch league, and in the frame for a European spot for next season, however, this resulted in clubs across Europe scouting his players, but Faber isn’t concerned about departures because he believes they can bring in replacements. The NEC boss is also expecting transfer activity before the deadline on Monday. At NEC, players can develop and can grow, but then a transfer can happen. NEC also need to grow. I’m not worried about players leaving. Then the club has to find new players. This can still happen this winter, I really see a turbulent final day of the transfer window,” said the NEC on possible departures before the deadline. Leeds United have been tracking Limbombe in the past six months with reports this week the Championship side have put in a second offer for youngster after tabling a bid in the summer. We’re not so sure on the veracity of that, thinking there’s been confusion and that Leeds probably haven’t bid for Limbombe so far this month. Limbombe has made it clear he wants to leave NEC and, judging from Faber’s comments, that could happen in this window

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Sam Winnall rated by The Tykes at over the million mark but Leeds have offered just 300K – I like the idea of getting players from lower divisions because there can be some real nuggets there. Time will tell if he is one or not

Friday 29th of Jan Leeds ponder next move after bid for Barnsley striker rejected Leeds United are considering their next move after Barnsley rejected a six-figure offer for top scorer Sam Winnall. The League One club turned down a bid of £300,000 for Leeds and are holding out for a fee in excess of £1m amid ongoing attempts by United to sign a new striker before Monday’s transfer deadline. United’s approach for Winnall – rapidly dismissed by Barnsley who considered the valuation derisory – came as Steve Evans insisted the club were still in the market for players, despite owner Massimo Cellino saying new arrivals were “unlikely” in the days ahead. In the past 24 hours, Leeds are also understood to have failed with an attempt to take Fraizer Campbell on loan from Crystal Palace. Campbell, 28, has been largely surplus at Selhurst Park this season but Palace are believed to be planning to retain him beyond the end of this transfer window, despite their recent deal to sign Emmanuel Adebayor. Cellino’s comments, given to Sky Sports, appeared to draw a line under Evans’ attempts to add to his tally of three January recruits but Leeds are now deciding whether to up their bid for Winnall. The 25-year-old – a former Wolverhampton Wanderers trainee who Barnsley signed from Scunthorpe United in 2014 – has been in prolific form this season, scoring 15 times and helping the South Yorkshire club to the northern area final of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. United’s move for him followed a streak of six goals in his last six appearances. Evans is pushing to add to his group of strikers with Leeds short of options and fresh doubt surrounding the fitness of Leeds’ leading scorer Chris Wood. Wood sustained another hamstring problem in midweek and is a major doubt for tomorrow’s FA Cup tie away at Bolton. Evans has already agreed loan deals for Liam Bridcutt and Mustapha Carayol this month and United’s sale of Sam Byram in a £3.7m transfer to West Ham United last week was followed by the arrival of Toumani Diagouraga for £575,000 from Brentford. Speaking yesterday, Evans said: “If the president says there’s no more signings then there’ll be no more signings but the words I heard attributed to the president was ‘it was unlikely’. It was unlikely a week ago that we were going to sign the boy from Brentford (Toumani Diagouraga). “He takes control of the financial situation so he knows how near we are. When he says it’s unlikely, he may feel that one or two things are slipping away from us. We’ll see where we go. “My understanding is that we’ve got negotiations going on on several fronts.”Evans defended Cellino and said he had received “100 per cent” support from United’s owner – but admitted he would be “disappointed” if he failed to add more players to his squad before Monday’s 11pm deadline. “One hundred per cent I’ve been supported by the president,” Evans said. “There’s no question of that. “Would I be disappointed if we don’t add from now? Yes. But have I been backed and are we trying to get the players in who I’ve given on a sheet of paper? Yes we are. “I’m a supporter too so the same level of disappointment with them would be the same with me. I’m under no illusions that I have to win matches as manager. Signing good players gives me an opportunity to do that.” Evans said he was increasingly confident in the wake of Byram’s sale to West Ham that no other of United’s young players would be lost before Monday’s deadline. Bournemouth have a long-standing interest in Lewis Cook and both Stoke City and Crystal Palace have had their attention turned to Charlie Taylor this month. Those players, like midfielder and current player-of-the-year Alex Mowatt, are into the last 18 months of their contracts. Evans said: It’s not the time during a transfer window when people are speculating to go and say we’ll do X, Y or Z with them but people are misguided if they don’t think there are conversations going on with the representatives of those players. That will take the course it takes. “Given the size of the bids we’ve had they’d have left already at most clubs. The president’s been outstanding and kept those players. He’s confided in me about the some of the bids and I’ve thought ‘wow’. “I sit here and not for one second do I think about of our exciting youngsters will leave this club in this window.”

Tues 26th of Jan BRENTFORD 1 (Saunders 28), Leeds (Carayol 84) United team: Silvestri, Wootton, Bellusci, Cooper, Taylor, Dallas (Carayol 76), Bridcutt, Murphy (Diagouraga 60), Cook, Wood (Antenucci 19), Doukara. Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Coyle, Phillips, Adeyemi. Referee: Iain Williamson. Booked: Djuricin (Brentford), Cooper, Carayol, Bellusci, Bridcutt (United) Att: 10,051 (1,632 United)

Brentford v Leeds United

Bellusci makes a tackle v Brentford

The midweek trip to Brentford saw United head coach Steve Evans make just the one change from the previous Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Bristol City, with Chris Wood returning to the attack in place of Mustapha Carayol. New signing Toumani Diagouraga, meanwhile, had to settle for a place among the substitutes against his former club. Wood and strike partner Souleymane Doukara looked to combine during the early stages, with the latter just unable to find his team-mate inside the area after cutting inside from the left, while the hosts probed patiently for an opening in the United defence during an even start to proceedings. Brentford almost found a way through on the 15th-minute mark, too, as a dangerous right-wing cross from John Swift was inches away from creeping in at the back post before United managed to clear their lines. Evans was dealt a major blow just 19 minutes into the game, though, with Wood forced off through injury after pulling up clutching his hamstring on the halfway line. Mirco Antenucci was introduced in attack, but Brentford were soon celebrating an opener as Sam Saunders latched onto a loose ball inside the United half before driving forward to fire into the bottom corner. Leeds looked to mount a quick response and only the reflexes of Bees goalkeeper David Button stood in their way, with the stopper flying across his line to superbly push away Antenucci’s 25-yard strike with a strong two-handed save. But Brentford’s tails were up and Alan Judge curled agonisingly over Marco Silvestri’s crossbar after cutting inside from the right, before Saunders fired a free-kick over well from 18 yards out. United had strong appeals for a penalty waved away at the opposite end as Antenucci hurtled into the Brentford area before going down under the close watch of defender Harlee Dean, only for referee Iain Williamson to wave play on as the hosts took their advantage into the interval. Both sides re-emerged from the break unchanged and looked to start the second half on the front foot, calling Button into action twice inside the first three minutes. The Brentford ‘keeper raced off his line to smother Antenucci’s close-range effort after Lewis Cook had threaded the striker into the area, but Button returned to his feet swiftly to block Dallas’ attempt from a tight angle on the rebound. It was a much brighter return from United but Brentford remained a threat and quickly reminded their visitors of that as Judge forced Silvestri to clutch his curling effort from the edge of the area. Leeds were dominating the early stages of the second period, though, and again threatened through Doukara, stealing possession 30 yards out before looking to catch Button off his line with a chipped effort which skimmed the side-netting. Evans was then prompted into his second change of the evening on the hour mark, introducing Diagouraga for his United debut in place of Luke Murphy in midfield. Silvestri needed to be alert to block Lasse Vibe’s near-post strike, while Liam Cooper headed a corner over the bar after being found at the back post as both sides pushed for the second goal of the evening. Brentford started the look the more likely to doing so as the game entered the closing stages, with Silvestri at full stretch to clutch Judge’s goalbound free-kick, but Leeds substitute Carayol – a replacement on the wing for Dallas – had other ideas. The ball rolled into the loanee’s path on the edge of the area and he made no mistake, sweeping a first-time effort perfectly beyond the helpless Button and into the bottom corner.

Sun 24th of Jan Pescara want Antenucci Mirco Antenucci is wanted by Italian Serie B side Pescara and could be ready to tempt him back to his homeland. Promotion-chasing Pescara have identified striker Antenucci as their most likely replacement for want-away star Andrea Cocco. Pescara could opt to allow Cocco to join Salernitana, something which would mean another striker is required at the club. And according to Sky Italia, Pescara see Antenucci as the most likely replacement for Cocco. The Serie B side are aware that Antenucci’s contract at Leeds expires in the summer and the hitman has been tipped to be open to a return to his homeland. Pescara currently sit in third spot in Serie B, but have scored 13 goals fewer than second placed Cagliari and seven fewer than league leaders Crotone. Antenucci is a fans favourite at Elland Road, but has found nailing down a regular starting spot with Leeds to be a tough ask. He finished as the Whites’ leading goalscoring last season with 10 goals, but the role of striking talisman has been taken by Chris Wood, who joined from Leicester City in the summer. Having seen Sam Byram leave last week in a £3.7m move to West Ham, the supporters would be disappointed to see another first-team player be allowed to leave the club. Meanwhile, former Leeds United striker Ross McCormack is understood to have asked for a transfer out of Championship strugglers Fulham. Recent speculation claimed that Middlesbrough have had a £9m bid plus Spanish striker Kike on loan for the Scottish frontman rejected by their Championship counterparts. However, 29-year-old McCormack is keen to force through a move to Teeside and has insisted that he has played his last game for Fulham, according to the Daily Mail. The report adds that promotion-hunting Boro are prepared to improve upon their offer, although not by much. McCormack, who has scored 15 goals this season, missed yesterday’s 1-0 defeat at home to Hull City through illness. He joined Fulham from Leeds United for a fee of £11m McCormack could be part of a double-swoop for Middlesbrough, who have also been linked with Uruguay international Gaston Ramirez. The Southampton midfielder has been told by Saints boss Ronald Koeman to seek a new club this month with his contract at St Mary’s due to expire at the end of the season. A number of clubs have been linked with the 25-year-old, but according to The Mirror, Ramirez is closing on a loan move to Boro, where he will spend the remainder of the 2015-16 campaign. He cost Southampton £12m from Bologna in 2012, but has largely struggled to make his mark down south. It is understood that Boro, who lost at home to Nottingham Forest on Saturday, will take on some of Ramirez’s £65,000-a-week wages.

LEEDS V BRISTOL 23/01/2016

Doukara is in his finest form since signing for Leeds

Sat 23rd of Jan Leeds 1 (Doukara 59), BRISTOL CITY 0 United team: Silvestri, Wootton, Bellusci, Cooper, Taylor, Dallas, Bridcutt, Murphy (Adeyemi 90), Cook, Carayol (Wood 54), Doukara (Antenucci 85). Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Coyle, Bamba, Phillips. Referee: Charles Breakspear. Att: 20,441 (641 Bristol City) The visit of Bristol City saw United head coach Steve Evans name an unchanged starting line-up from the team beaten away to Sheffield Wednesday seven days earlier. There were changes among the substitutes, however, as Chris Wood returned from a hamstring injury to occupy a place on the bench alongside Kalvin Phillips, who stepped in for the injured Alex Mowatt. After a somewhat cagey start to proceedings, it was the visitors who had the game’s first sight of goal after 13 minutes as Nathan Baker towered a header high and wide after rising to meet Luke Ayling’s free-kick. United’s first effort on Richard O’Donnell’s goal then came seven minutes later, but Mustapha Carayol ballooned his 30-yard free-kick into the South Stand after a foul on Luke Murphy brought some smart build-up play to a halt. United were on the receiving end of the best chance of an underwhelming start, though, with City debut Ben Gladwin stealing possession from Liam Bridcutt inside the area before seeing his strike blocked by Marco Silvestri at the near post. Jonathan Kodjia then threatened an opener for the visitors as the game passed the half-hour mark, sending a header inches wide after connecting with a right-wing cross inside the area. The Robins continued to enjoy the better of the chances as they ended the first half the stronger of the two, with Gladwin’s header sailing over before Silvestri rushed off his line to block Kodjia from close-range after the striker had wriggled f e inside the United area. United made a brighter start to the second half, though, forcing some stern defending from the visitors to clear a series of dangerous crosses into the box. And Evans’ intent was clear as he introduced Chris Wood just nine minutes after the restart, replacing Carayol with the striker as he urged his side forward. The deadlock was eventually broken on 59 minutes and Wood played his part, causing a nuisance inside the area as the visitors failed to deal with Stuart Dallas’ right-wing cross before the ball fell for Souleymane Doukara to hammer his third goal from four games into the bottom corner. substitute Alex Pearce passed up a golden opportunity to equalise for the visitors just five minutes later at the opposite end, heading a back-post corner over the bar from six yards out, but United were buoyed by their opener and went in search of a second. The visitors managed to deal with further testing deliveries into the box, though, and started to ask questions of their own as they started to throw men forward, with Aaron Wilbraham introduced in attack. Defender Aden Flint headed a glorious opportunity wide after being found unmarked at the back post, before Silvestri got down sharply to clutch Luke Ayling’s low strike from inside the area. The Robins continued to press in the closing stages but found themselves up against a stern Leeds defence, who held out in four minutes of added time to seal a return to winning ways. Evans : It wasn’t the best performance by any stretch,” Evans said. “But the finish was worthy of winning the game. We happily take the three points. “It’s important to get back to winning ways. The performance still needs to get better but there has been lots of determination on show. “The first half wasn’t good enough – I’ve had better mornings at the dentist – but we recognised that and were a little bit better in the second. “We closed it down more and got the goal. It became a gritty 1-0 win rather than a performance we’ll look back on with many aspects that we’re very pleased with. “In the end we ground out a good win and we have to take that and move on to Brentford on Tuesday night.”  Not our best performance by a long shot. We ground out the win. 4-4-2 needs to be played at home but Wood wasn’t risked from the start and Antenucci spent much of the week in Italy at the birth of his second child. Doukara has scored three goals in four and seems to be playing for the first time for a manager that believes in him. We are in desperate need of another striker, possibly a number 10 type player, a quality central defender and still a reliable goalkeeper. On week of the window to go.

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United’s newest signing signing watches v Brentford

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Toumani Diagouraga in action for Brentford who he hopes to make his debut against on Tuesday night

Friday 22nd of January Brentford midfielder Diagouraga to join Whites after medical Steve Evans has hailed the capture of one of his “top targets” after Leeds United moved to sign Brentford midfielder Toumani Diagouraga. The Yorkshire Evening Post understands that Diagouraga agreed a two-and-a-half-year deal with the Elland Road side, although Leeds have not yet officially confirmed his capture. Diagouraga is still awaiting a two-part medical which will be held over the weekend, with the deal set to be completed on Monday. Diagouraga was at Elland Road with his representatives yesterday morning to discuss the terms of an agreement after Leeds had a bid accepted by Brentford. Scottish Championship side Rangers were also keen but failed to agree financial terms with the Bees, meaning that Evans and Italian owner Massimo Cellino could move swiftly to beat the Gers to the 28-year-old midfielder. Evans said: “I think it was a big decision for the kid. I was obviously aware of Rangers’ interest. “The boy had a big decision make. But obviously you only get to speak to a player if clubs agree a fee. “We agreed a fee, so that’s why we could speak to him. It’s taken a little while to get there but I’m delighted we’ve got there. I’m grateful to the owner Mr Cellino who’s made this happen. “I wanted to build. I thought we wouldn’t get there so I was pleased to get it over the line. He was up there with my top targets.” Diagouraga is not available for today’s home tie against Bristol City, but Evans has already compared his new signing to one of the greats. He believes Diagouraga could be as influential as Arsenal hero and current New York City FC head coach Patrick Viera. Evans continued: We’ve got a boy who’s 6 foot 2, we’ve got a Patrick Vieira-type player,” he said. He brings real quality to our midfield. He’s signed for a giant in English football.” Leeds host managerless Bristol City today with 13 points between themselves and the play-off places, a gap they are unlikely to bridge between now and the end of the season. The Robins are 22nd in the Championship, having placed former Leeds defender John Pemberton in charge after Steve Cotterill’s sacking. Pemberton played for the Whites between 1993 and 1997, accruing 53 appearances for the Elland Road club in the process, and led Bristol to a 1-0 win against league leaders Middlesbrough last weekend.

Weds 20th of Jan West Ham offered Sam Byram a vision which Leeds couldn’t match –   Phil Hay To Sam Byram it was all about money. All about the readies. Nothing to do with West Ham United’s standing in the Premier League, their relocation to London’s Olympic Stadium or the thought of debuting at home to Manchester City this weekend. And nothing to do with Leeds United’s directionless years as a Championship club. Byram would be fooling no-one by denying that a rise in salary was nice, but Everton don’t pay peanuts and when the choice was put in front of him, he took it soberly. Everton have Seamus Coleman at right-back, now and for the foreseeable. West Ham are doing with James Tomkins what Leeds have done with Scott Wootton. Byram chose and made himself look like a player choosing to play. Money was at the root of his fall-out with Massimo Cellino, the factor which drove Cellino’s hopeless attempt to lower his salary, but United’s owner is deluded if he thinks that Byram cut and ran because Leeds couldn’t pay him enough. There is more to an offer than the value in cash terms. There is the outlook, the vision, the strategy and the credibility. There is the fundamental question, based on hard evidence, of whether a club is worth staying at. Cellino was onto something when he claimed in September that Byram “thinks Leeds is too small for him”. Byram probably does think Leeds are too small for him but not in the way Cellino meant. Most of the players who come through United’s academy understand the club’s history and culture. Many of them grew up as supporters. They respect Leeds’ stature in the traditional sense, but they are clever enough to distinguish between reputation and the present day. Jonathan Howson was and is a Leeds boy, a club captain in that mindset; always aware of his surroundings, always willing to front up, always a willing – if slightly overused – candidate for community events. It was not his choice to leave in the window where Leeds decided to sell him, whatever anyone else says, but it had occurred to him by then that the time might be coming. Howson was into the last six months of his deal. Leeds had lost their impetus in the Championship and were about to fire Simon Grayson. Ken Bates was losing the crowd. Howson had given more than 200 games to United, so he left. And left with his conscience clear. This season was Byram’s fourth as a senior professional at Elland Road. Leeds finished 13th in his first, 15th in his second and third and were heading for a similar position in his last. He has seen three different owners – one of whom has been banned by the Football League already and stands to be banned by the Football League again – and has played under seven different coaches. Two of those survived for six competitive games. With the exception of Steve Evans, all of them have been sacked. It is natural to compare Byram and Howson, but Howson at least took with him the memories of 2010-11. The intelligence corp can separate the fallow years from the golden eras. All that Don Revie achieved is not diminished by United’s inability to follow his example, but it does not act as much of a selling point either when Leeds’ state is so anemic. Howard Wilkinson and David O’Leary weren’t only marketing a big club. They were marketing compelling squads and ambitious chairmen (recklessly ambitious in the case of Peter Ridsdale). O’Leary could feasibly expect to sign Rio Ferdinand because Leeds had a vision to tempt him with. The history helped but it was not a solitary carrot. Byram would never dare describe Leeds as an institution as “too small for him”. He would not equate himself to Paul Reaney or Gary Kelly or pretend that his photo will hang in Elland Road in 20 years’ time. He has passed through the club and played for too short a time to be seen as anything other than a likeable, gifted right-back who got away too soon. But as it is, the club are too slow for his career: too slow to progress, too slow to expand and too slow to find their way out of the woods. There is an argument which says a kid like Byram, bred in the academy and made by the academy, should stay and help Leeds find a way. But how long is too long and how long is long enough? Contract talks between Byram and Leeds were appallingly handled and Cellino’s idea of enforcing a wage cut was a dead-end from the start. For him, this was a matter of finance but for Byram there was a bigger picture and Cellino can either wallow in bitterness or open his eyes to it. The Italian could not promise promotion. At this stage he could not promise the play-offs. He could not even promise that when next season starts he will be present at Elland Road and in control. It would be strange in the circumstances, and a slight on Byram’s attitude, if a specific salary was enough to make those concerns inconsequential. On reflection, it is fair to ask if any amount of cash would have tempted Byram to tie himself to the chief mountaineer. Robert Snodgrass nailed this debate in May 2012, at a time when his own exit was looming. “I’d love to get into the Premier League with Leeds,” he said. “The chairman (Bates) is trying to put pressure on me and he’s telling me what plans he has for the club. But they told me the same type of plans the season before and it didn’t work out so it’s hard to buy into these things again.” Footballers think like that. Football works like that. And reality looks like that. But yes, it’s all about greed and it’s all about money. It’s all a case of how big a house you can buy. As doubtless it will be when this familiar scenario repeats itself – again.

SamByramWHU

Sam Byram – West Ham player

Tues 19th of Jan. Byran becomes a Hammer Sam Byram has completed his move from Leeds United to West Ham United. The 22-year-old signed a four-and-a-half year deal at Upton Park today, bringing an end to his promising career at Elland Road.Byram had been the subject of an intense fight between Everton and West Ham and the London club secured his signature after stepping into rival Everton’s £3.7m bid. Several sources have indicated that West Ham will effectively match that fee but United owner Massimo Cellino insisted on Monday night that the Hammers’ offer was “much lower” than Everton’s. The Italian said he had been forced to accept it due to Byram’s insistence on moving to Upton Park. The right-back passed a medical yesterday and put pen to paper early this afternoon. West Ham were believed to have initially suggested the option of loaning Byram back to Leeds for the rest of the Championship season but United insisted on a straight cash deal. Byram, who broke through from Leeds’ academy in 2012 and won the club’s player of the year award in his first season as a professional, played 143 times for United and scored 10 goals. A statement from Leeds read: “Sam leaves with the club’s best wishes and appreciation of his efforts during his time at Leeds United.”Byram told West Ham’s official website: “I’m unbelievably proud and happy to join a club as big as this. I’m just looking forward to what the future holds and hopefully I can achieve things with the team going forward. “It’s a childhood dream of mine to play in the Premier League so to have the chance to get into a team like this and I just want to get my head down, work hard and hopefully get a chance. “I spoke to the manager and he is one of the main reasons which attracted me to West Ham. I think he’s done unbelievably well with his team so far so I’m really looking forward to working with him and his staff. “My uncle and my cousin are big West Ham fans and have bought their tickets for the new stadium. My uncle was down here yesterday getting a shirt with my name on the back. It’s nice to have them down here and they’ll help me settle.”

Mon 18th of January Crucial time coming up now There is a crucial time coming to the fore now for Leeds United. To all intents and purposes we seem safe from relegation, 11 points away from Bristol City in 21st and not a cat’s chance in hell of reaching the play offs, 13 points off Sheff Wednesday in 6th. The transfer business was supposed to have been completed early in January to give the manager a chance. It wasn’t and he has performed admirably with one hand behind his back. The big question now is ‘Will Cellino  release some of the four million pounds from Byram’s ultimate transfer to Evans or continue to keep his head in the sand with this ridiculous on/off Lafferty fiasco as a prime example of his transfer tactics ? Let’s face it if he was that good other clubs would have jumped in and nabbed him already.

For most of Saturday we were the better team against Wednesday, but they had better quality where it matters most on a football pitch….in the final third. Forestieri and Hooper caused us problems and ultimately goals win games. Yes we should have had a goal, but ultimately Doukara isn’t as potent as either of their front two and there is nothing wrong with his ‘mentality’ as far as I can see. We are four players short of a decent side. Silvestri on his day is decent but has too many off days and can’t deal with crosses. Saturday was one of his ‘off’ days. Ultimately we need a better net minder. Cooper is a fine centre half but lacks pace. He can be payed with a decent partner. Unfortunately, we heven’t got one at the club for him. Bamba and Bellusci are always a mistake or in the latter’s case a red card away from anything. A central defender with pace and leadership is a must. I think we are fine in midfield but we need an out and out striker, a poacher, a finisher. There isn’t one at the club, and the nearest we have is Antenucci. I’d love a Lee Bowyer type box to box midfielder and I think Lewis Cook in time could develp his game into that role but the lad has to take more responsibility to shoot when he gets in the final quarter.

Evans has proved astute in the transfer market. Bridcutt looks quality. In the first half against Sheff Weds he ran the show. He needs more help, but I would love to see Evans get three more of his signings in. This bullshit about having to be in or around the play offs for funds to be released is just that….bullshit. Surely it’s all the more reason we need quality players in because we are so far away from the play offs. Sheff Weds are an example of a club who have invested wisely in players and look where that has taken them…..6th.

But then again, I suspect their chairman doesn’t scout and sign the players. Allegedly we have had offers for Bamba, Bellusici, Antenucci, and Bianchi. Personally, I’d snap the hand off at every one of those offers. They can all be replaced and quite easily. Taylor, Berardi, Cook, Bridcutt, Cooper, Dallas, Wood, Mowatt, Carayaol, would form the nucleus of my team. Coyle can grow into it. Murphy, Adeymymi have a bit to do for me and the jury is out on Erwin.

The manager needs to me backed. Give him a chance and see where that takes us. Whats is there to lose at this stage ?

AntenuccivHarogate

The Beard may return to Italy

Mon 18th of Jan Antenucci may go back to Italy Steve Evans insisted last night that he wanted to keep Mirco Antenucci at Elland Road with Serie B club Ascoli pushing to take the striker back to Italy before the end of the January window. Evans has promised Antenucci a part to play in the second half of Leeds United’s season but the club’s head coach conceded that a dwindling contract might encourage the forward to look for opportunities elsewhere. The 31-year-old is six months away from the end of his deal at Elland Road and Leeds’ reluctance to open talks about an extension have alerted Italian clubs to his potential availability. Ascoli are the most seriously interested and hope to land the 31-year-old in the remainder of the current window. Antenucci, whose partner was expecting their second child this month, is understood to be keen on moving back to Italy with his future in England the subject of increasing doubt. The former Torino player –signed on a two-year deal from Ternana in the summer of 2014 – has scored five times this season but lost his starting place last month after Evans adopted a formation with the a lone striker up front. United have so far refused to enter contract talks on account of Antenucci’s age. Evans said: I like Antenucci and I can’t hide that fact. I’d like to keep him and I’ve told (Massimo) Cellino that. We need strengthening in that area. We don’t want to get weaker.”Mirco’s a top-class professional but at the same time I do understand his personal circumstances and I know the situation with his contract. Only the president can decide if Mirco is going to get a new one.”Because of Mirco’s age, as a club we have to ask whether the package he’d would be looking for is value for money from our point of view. We have to ask if that’s the right use of money. From my point of view, what I need to see as a coach is Mirco playing well and scoring goals.”Antenucci will be involved in tomorrow’s Yorkshire derby at Sheffield Wednesday and Evans has a decision to make about his attack with Chris Wood’s fitness still in doubt. Wood has missed the past three games with a hamstring strain and Evans said United’s medical staff would assess him again this morning before making a decision on his availability for Hillsborough. Souleymane Doukara has started the previous two fixtures and scored in both – including a strike after just 13 seconds against Ipswich Town on Tuesday – but Leeds struggled to create chances at Portman Road and Evans conceded that a “bright performance for 20 minutes” had been followed by a period in which United were “average to poor”. Both of Ipswich’s came via crosses from left winger Ryan Fraser but Evans spoke out in defence of Scott Wootton, a defender he has used at right-back in the absence of the injured Gaetano Berardi. Berardi will be absent with ankle ligament damage until the middle of next month and Evans is favouring Wootton at right-back to youngsters Sam Byram and Lewis Coyle. Evans said: “A lot of the criticism I hear of Scott is unfair. I know what we see in training and in the games and I’m not going allow myself to pick a team based on the fact that some people are criticising an individual player. I’m not saying Scott hasn’t made the odd mistake but as a coaching staff we see good defensive qualities in Scott. I’ll pick the team I think is right, not a team I think is popular.”

Sat 16th of January Sheff Weds 2 (Hooper 47, 50), Leeds 0 United team: Silvestri, Wootton, Bellusci, Cooper, Taylor, Dallas, Bridcutt, Murphy (Antenucci 75), Cook, Carayol (Mowatt 70), Doukara. Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Coyle, Bamba, Adeyemi, Erwin. Referee: Anthony Taylor. Booked: Hutchinson, Pudil (Wednesday), Bellusci, Cook (United) Att: 23,909 The lunchtime Yorkshire derby away to Sheffield Wednesday saw United head coach Steve Evans make two changes from the side beaten 2-1 at Ipswich Town earlier in the week as Stuart Dallas and Luke Murphy were both recalled to the starting line-up in place of Sam Byram and Alex Mowatt. The first chance of the game fell for the in-form hosts just seven minutes in at Hillsborough, striker Gary Hooper heading Jack Hunt’s deep cross over the bar under pressure from two yellow shirts inside the United area. Evans’ side soon threatened, though, and the Wednesday defenders cut relieved figures as goalkeeper Lewis Price gathered the ball after Souleymane Doukara’s scuffed effort had almost fallen perfectly for Mustapha Carayol inside the area, but the on-loan winger also failed to SheffWedscontrovget the desired connection. Wednesday then somehow managed to keep United at bay with more desperate defending from a similar scenario inside the 13th minute. Dallas drove forward down the right and saw his low strike pushed away unconvincingly by Price into the path of Lewis Cook, but the hosts’ defence had bodies on the line to block from close-range before also scrambling clear from Doukara’s follow up effort. United were looking the more likely to open the scoring during the early exchanges, but Wednesday were able to deal with a series of dangerous-looking deliveries into the box. Cook again came close to breaking the deadlock on the counter-attack after Glenn Loovens had surrendered possession inside the Owls’ half. The young midfielder strode forward with intent but lashed his low strike just wide of Price’s far post, with the Wednesday goalkeeper sprawling across his line. Marco Silvestri was then called into action at the opposite end for the first time of the afternoon but was able to hold Fernando Forestieri’s effort comfortably from the edge of the area, while Price clutched Doukara’s low strike from distance as the sides went in goalless at the break. The teams re-emerged unchanged and Wednesday made a blistering start to the second half, opening the scoring within two minutes of the restart as Hooper forced the ball over the line after a goalmouth scrambled had ensued following a deep corner. Hooper then doubled the advantage with a quick-fire second just three minutes later, reacting first to poke the rebound from Forestieri’s long-range effort beyond Silvestri. Forestieri twice tried his luck with strikes from distance as Wednesday went in search of a third, but it was United who came closest to adding the next goal of the game through Doukara after a surging run from Murphy. The midfielder threaded Doukara into a shooting position on the right side of the penalty area, but his powerful low effort brushed the side-netting at Price’s near post. Evans was prompted into his first change of the afternoon as the game entered the final 20 minutes, with Alex Mowatt replacing Carayol in midfield. Mirco Antenucci was also soon introduced in place of Murphy as United pushed for a way back into the game, and the travelling supporters thought that was the case when captain Liam Cooper had guided Dallas’ free-kick into the net after 78 minutes. But, after much deliberation between referee Anthony Taylor and his officials, the goal was overruled due to Wednesday being caught between taking a substitution as Forestieri had failed to fully leave the pitch while being replaced by Lucas Joao. The free-kick was retaken and cleared off the line as Wednesday somehow maintained their two-goal lead, before Antenucci fired wide with the final chance of the game as the hosts claimed the Yorkshire derby spoils. Steve Evans : “I thought we were very good in the first half. We made a host of chances but didn’t take any of them. “It was a mad 10-minute spell at the start of the second half and two individual errors for their goals. “Then we got back in control of the game and then it’s just a strange decision. “I clearly saw the referee restart play, I clearly saw him wave hands and our players have told me he shouted ‘play’. “Then he stopped it and restarted again. I have never seen anything like it in football; it’s a completely bizarre decision.” Reflecting on his side’s missed chances, Evans added: “Games are won in both boxes. We made four or five good chances in the first half and didn’t take any of them. “They took advantage of a couple of errors in our box. That’s difficult to take on a day where we’ve controlled the action for a long time. “I didn’t think it was close, I think we were dominant in the first half. It’s easy to say, but after their two goals they were always going to have a bit of ascendancy but we got into the ascendancy again ourselves.”

Sam Byram

Byram about to join a road well travelled by Snodgrass, Howson, Gradel and countless others

Thurs 14th of Jan. Byram off to Everton Sam Byram’s career at Leeds United appeared to be nearing an end last night after the club accepted a £3.7m offer for him from Everton. Byram is on the verge of quitting Elland Road following Everton’s decision to move in with a seven-figure bid for Leeds’ former player-of-the-year. The Premier League side sent European scout Ian Atkins to watch Byram during Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat to Ipswich Town and have tempted United to cash in on him. Byram’s exit was widely expected this month after Leeds failed with attempts to extend his contract, which expires at the end of this season. Owner Massimo Cellino angered Byram’s camp last December by proposing a deal which would have cut the 22-year-old’s £12,000-a-week salary. Byram rejected that offer out of hand and was publicly criticised by Cellino. The Italian accused Byram – the leading appearance-maker in United’s current squad after 143 games – of thinking “Leeds was too small for him” but contract talks resumed briefly two months ago after head coach Steve Evans asked Cellino to start fresh negotiations. Byram, however, rejected an offer to retain his existing wage and tie him down to the summer of 2017. Evans has continued to use him in United’s Championship season but the club were prepared to sell Byram if their valuation of him was met. The club stood to earn around £2m in compensation if Byram remained at Elland Road until the end of his deal. West Ham United were also interested in him but Everton’s bid is likely to prompt a rapid exit provided Byram agrees personal terms and passes a medical.

Tues 12th of Jan IPSWICH 2 (Chambers 50, Pitman 90+1), Leeds 1 (Doukara 1) United team: Silvestri, Wootton, Bellusci, Cooper, Taylor, Byram, Bridcutt, Mowatt (Phillips 60), Cook (Antenucci 79), Carayol (Dallas 64), Doukara. Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Coyle, Bamba, Murphy. Referee: Frederick Graham Booked: Douglas, Chambers (Ipswich), Phillips (United) Att: 19,146 (1,259 United)

The midweek trip to Ipswich Town saw United head coach Steve Evans make three changes from the weekend’s Emirates FA Cup Third Round victory over Rotherham. Scott Wootton, Lewis Cook and Alex Mowatt all returned to the side, with Lewie Coyle, Luke Murphy and Mirco Antenucci dropping to the bench in a shift to a 4-5-1 formation. United made a lightening start to proceedings at a bitterly cold Portman Road, opening the scoring within just 12 seconds of the game getting underway as Souleymane Doukara stole possession from Jonathan Douglas on the edge of the area before calmly slotting into the bottom corner. The hosts looked to mount a quick response and Marco Silvestri was called into action to turn behind Daryl Murphy’s effort after the Ipswich striker had evaded several challenges to work his way into the area. The fast-paced early exchanges continued and Ipswich goalkeeper Dean Gerken needed to be alert to turn Mustapha Carayol’s deflected cross over his crossbar, before the hosts started to put United under a spell of sustained pressure with several deliveries into the box. The defence was holding firm, though, and Ipswich were mainly limited to efforts from distance as Silvestri kept out long-range strikes from Kevin Bru and Murphy. Ipswich then drew the best save of the evening from Silvestri on the stroke of half-time, Ryan Fraser clipping an effort towards the top corner, only to see it acrobatically tipped over the crossbar as United’s slender lead was preserved going into half-time. The hosts maintained their pressure after the restart and Sears had the second half’s first sight of goal, curling over the bar from 20 yards out just moments before Ipswich eventually managed to convert one of their chances to pull themselves level. It was captain Luke Chambers who grabbed the equalising goal after 50 minutes, sending a towering header beyond the sprawling Silvestri after rising inside the area to meet a left-wing cross. Cole Skuse curled inches wide from just outside the area as the home crowd urged their side forward in search of a second, before Evans looked to stem the tide as he was prompted into his first changes as the hour mark passed. First, Kalvin Phillips was introduced in place of Mowatt in midfield, before Stuart Dallas replaced Carayol on the wing. But Ipswich continued to press and were a whisker away from finding the net again as Bru’s cross from deep almost crept in at the far post after an awkward bounce inside the United area. Silvestri then held a looping header from Murphy, but it was the forward’s replacement, Brett Pitman, who came closest to a winner five minutes from time. Sears beat the onrushing Silvestri to the ball, knocking it around the United goalkeeper before drilling an effort across the face of goal which the lunging Pitman narrowly failed to connect with as he ended up in the back of the net and the ball rolled harmlessly behind. Ipswich’s dominance eventually paid off in the first of five minutes of stoppage time as Pitman stooped to head home another left-wing cross and clinch the three points, bringing a gut-wrenching halt to United’s eight-game unbeaten run. Evans :Steve Evans admitted his disappointment with the way his side allowed Ipswich Town to come from behind and snatch a late 2-1 victory at Portman Road on Tuesday night.“I think they were as bad in spells as we were, for 20 minutes we controlled the game and were unfortunate not to be two up.”They looked disjointed but you know how they play, they’re always going to grind themselves into the game and launch it to Murphy and fight for second balls. It’s how they play.”In the second half they had a lot of play but I don’t remember too many chances from them, but if you switch off you’re going to get punished. “For the first goal, we’d talked about the boy Chambers arriving at the back post because it’s what he does, he’s scored a couple recenty. “You show players clips and you walk them through it on the training ground and if they don’t carry it out, ultimately it will tell you if they do it consistently then they’re not good enough. “The second goal was a shambles really. We’ve got it in the corner and we’re thinking it’s going to be a corner to us, but 10 seconds later the boy Pitman comes alive in the box.”

Sat 9th of Jan FA Cup 3rd Round LEEDS 2 (Carayol 45, Doukara 89), ROTHERHAM 0 Leeds team: Silvestri, Coyle, Bellusci (Bamba 79), Cooper, Taylor, Byram, Bridcutt, Murphy (Cook 87), Carayol (Dallas 74), Antenucci, Doukara. Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Wootton, Phillips, Bianchi. Referee: Andy WoolmerBooked: Clarke-Harris (Rotherham)Att: 16,039 (1,344 Rotherham) Report from LUFC website

Rotherhamcelebs

Players celebrate the first goal

The Emirates FA Cup Third Round tie at home to Rotherham United saw Leeds head coach Steve Evans make four changes from the 1-1 draw with MK Dons a week earlier.

Mustapha Carayol, just over 24 hours after signing on loan from Middlesbrough for the remainder of the season, went into the starting line-up for his debut, while there was also a first start for young full-back Lewie Coyle and returns to the side for Giuseppe Bellusci and Mirco Antenucci.

United started brightly and looked to mount an early attack down the left through Carayol, only for his back-post cross to be stolen from the toes of Sam Byram, before the visitors had the game’s first real sight of goal through former Leeds midfielder Paul Green.

Marco Silvestri was equal to his low effort from the edge of the area with a sprawling save, while Antenucci threatened at the opposite end as his cross from the right was blocked inside a crowded area after working his way to the byline.

Grant Ward then dragged wide for the Millers from a similar position to Green’s earlier attempt, before the 34th minute saw Leeds test goalkeeper Lee Camp for the first time of the afternoon.

A delightful, floated cross from Liam Bridcutt found Byram at the back post, but Camp was able to get down sharply to beat away his goalwards header with a strong, two-handed save.

It signalled a strong end to an otherwise forgettable first half for Leeds, with the hosts starting to put Rotherham under some sustained pressure with a series of corners.

Souleymane Doukara and Byram both threatened from inside the area, before the lively Carayol broke the deadlock with a thunderous strike from 25 yards on right on the stoke of half-time after a clever cutback from Charlie Taylor.

The Millers made one change at the break, introducing Jonson Clarke-Harris, who was on target against Leeds at the New York Stadium last season, in place of Shay Facey.

But Leeds, who remained unchanged, were looking to pick up where they had left off and threatened twice in quick succession during the early stages of the second half.

Byram was involved on both occasions, first just being inches away from connecting with Bridcutt’s back-post cross after a strong run down the left from the on-loan midfielder, before firing into Camp’s arms after cutting inside of his marker on the edge of the area.

Liam Cooper then headed a Luke Murphy cross towards goal but Camp was again able to hold, before Rotherham started to apply some pressure of their own, twice threatening through substitute Emmanuel Ledesma.

Silvestri tipped the midfielder’s low strike from range behind with a smart save, before Ledesma’s 20-yard free-kick flew harmlessly over the Leeds crossbar.

Evans was prompted into his first change of the afternoon with just over 15 minutes remaining on the clock, replacing Carayol with Stuart Dallas.

Thw final act from the goalscoring debutant, who left the field to a standing ovation, was to drag wide from the edge of the area from a not too dissimilar position to his opener as Leeds chased a second.

Bellusci was then forced off with injury to be replaced by Sol Bamba in defence, and the Leeds captain came close to a second within five minutes of entering the pitch, sending a towering header high and wide after meeting Dallas’ free-kick.

Leeds’ progression to the Fourth Round was then sealed in the final minute of the game, with Doukara taking advantage of a mix-up in the Rotherham defence to slot into an empty net and secure a Yorkshire derby victory to make it eight games unbeaten.

CarolevRotherham

What a debut for the new signing

Reflecting on his goal, Carayol said: “As soon as Charlie cut it back I knew I was going to hit it. “I played against Rotherham two weeks ago and scored from 30 yards, so I kept saying to myself during the game ‘If I get a chance to hit the ball, I’m going to hit it’. I’m happy that it has flown in again. “I’m pleased that I’ve been able to please some of the fans. I was taking a bit of a battering on Twitter because I’ve come from Middlesbrough and stuff like that. “But that’s part of football and hopefully I can show them what I can do and chip in with a few more goals between now and the end of the season. “I’m going to keep working hard and hopefully you will see the performances on the pitch. “The gaffer just said to me ‘go out there and be positive’. I’ve played for him before and he knows what type of player I am.” Asked about kicking on during the second half of the season on the back of an eight game unbeaten run, Carayol added: “It was a really tough game on Saturday. “We had to dig in and the result was the most important thing. “Every game from now until the end of the season is going to be tough. We have to be positive and try to win every game to have a chance of making the top six. “I’m looking forward to it. I’ll be really glad if we can come away from Ipswich with another positive result.”

 

Sun 10th of Jan Transfer links through Vital Football Vital Leeds United is once again keeping you up to date with all the transfer rumours surrounding the club during the transfer window. The week started well for Leeds with the news that on loan midfielder Liam Bridcutt had extended his loan deal with the club for the remainder of the season. By the end of the week, Leeds had added a second player with Middlesbrough winger Mustapha Carayol signing on loan. His move coming out of the blue having not been previously linked with a move to Elland Road. Leeds have been linked with a number of players coming into Elland Road this week. Football League World have linked Peterborough striker Connor Washington with a move to Leeds. The Daily Mail is linking highly regarded Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish with a move to Leeds. Aston Villa midfielder Gary Gardner was also linked with a move to Leeds before opting to join fellow championship side Nottingham Forest according to The 72. A number of players have been linked with a move away from Elland Road in the past week. Young midfielder Lewis Cook is being linked with an £8m move to AFC Bournemouth with Shoot the first people to link him with a move to the south coast club. Leicester City and Norwich City are the latest Premier League sides to be linked with Sam Byram according to Clubcall. The Daily and Sunday Express are also linking him with a move to Crystal Palace. Byram has also been linked with Watford by Shoot , but the Premier League club have denied any interest. Swansea City are also interested according to Wales Online. Striker Mirco Antenucci is being linked with Ascoli, Bari and Cagliari according to Inside Football and Alfredo Pedulla is linking him with Novara. Sport Witness also linked him with a move to Pescara. Fellow Italian Giuseppe Bellusci is also being linked with a return to his home country. Inside Football state that a number of clubs are interested in the central defender with Hellas Verona having tabled a bid. They also claim that Leeds owner Massimo Cellino has slapped a £4m to £5m price tag on him. Midfielder Tommaso Bianchi is also being linked with a return to Italy with Ascoli keen to sign him according to tuttomercatoweb. Start IN Kyle Lafferty – Norwich City ( The Express) Anthony Stokes – Celtic (

Sat Jan 9th Alex Neil confirms Kyle Lafferty to Leeds United stanceThe Norwich City boss will not allow Lafferty to leave on loan. Leeds United have been linked with plenty of strikers in recent weeks as Steve Evans looks to make moves in the transfer market. One key name often mentioned is that of Kyle Lafferty. The Norwich City striker has been long linked with a move to Leeds and unconfirmed reports earlier this month seemed to suggest the deal was as good as done. That is now clearly not the case, as Evans informed his press conference earlier in the week. It seems the Lafferty deal is not as straightforward as first thought. Evans made it clear, as reported by the Yorkshire Evening Post, that Norwich are not keen on sending Lafferty to Leeds on loan – instead wanting a permanent deal. Now NorwichCity boss Alex Neil has had his say on the matter. He spoke to the press yesterday as Norwich prepare for a FA Cup third round tie against Manchester City. He is quoted by the Eastern Daily Press as stating: “The reasons Leeds are saying that is because that is exactly what I told Steve on Thursday when I spoke to him. We are not looking to loan Kyle out.” The Norwich boss continued, “If someone wants to come and get him then they need to buy him. That is basically where we are. We have Kyle on our books, he is part of our squad, he will be in the FA Cup squad and if Leeds want him they come and buy him, if they don’t want do that then it is done as far as I am concerned.”-. Leeds should either buy the player or move on. Personally, I believe there are better options out there than the unproven (at league level) Lafferty.

Jan 8th Carayol delighted to reunite with Leeds head coach Evans at ‘biggest’ club in league Mustapha Carayol signs on loan for Leeds. Mustapha Carayol is looking forward to another opportunity to work with Leeds United head coach Steve Evans after joining the Whites on loan on Friday. The 27-year-old also revealed that he did not view signing for the “biggest” club in the Championship as a difficult decision. Carayol spent the first half of the season on loan with Huddersfield Town, an agreement that was ended earlier this week. The Gambia international winger played under Evans at Crawley Town when he was 18-years-old and admits they have kept in touch since. “I know the gaffer well – I played for him when I was 18 years old and we’ve always kept in contact,” Carayol said. “He fired me a text to see if I would fancy coming down. You just have to when Leeds United come calling – it’s probably the biggest club in the Championship. I’m here and I’m looking forward to it. “There’s nothing better as a professional footballer to have a manager that understands you and actually knows your style of play. “The manager knows how I play, so I’m just looking forward to playing in front of the fans and showing them what I can do. “I’ve matured a lot from when I first played under him, though – I was just 18 at the time when I was on loan at Crawley. “I’m now probably at a rebuilding stage in my career personally. It’s no secret that I had a bad injury and I was out for a long period of time. “These have been the first six months where I’ve been fully fit and I’m feeling better and better by the day. Carayol believes the outlook at Leeds is similar to that of his parent club Boro, and hopes he can achieve “something great” while at Elland Road. “I’ve come from Middlesbrough, where in every game you’re expected to win,” he said. “There’s not much difference in my mind frame coming here. “I’m going to go out there and try to win every game. “I’ve heard about the fans and how passionate they are about the club doing well. Hopefully I can be a part of something great for the rest of the season.”

Jan 8th Leeds aim for three or four additional signings in January Leeds United head coach Steve Evans is hopeful of making another ‘three or four’ signings in the January transfer window after adding Mustapha Carayol to his squad on Friday. Carayol joined the Whites on loan from Middlesbrough until the end of the season. The 27-year-old spent the first half of the campaign with Huddersfield Town. Carayol is available for today’s FA Cup third round tie against Rotherham United.The Gambia international winger previously worked with Evans at Crawley Town, and the Leeds chief revealed that Carayol was quick to jump aboard once the opportunity to move to Elland Road came about. Mustapha played for me as a kid many years ago at Crawley and we have often come across each since and kept in touch,” said Evans. “He was delighted to receive a call from the head coach at Leeds United and it took him less than three seconds to say ‘I’ll get in the car in the next 10 minutes and head to Leeds’. “I don’t want to say what he will or won’t do, but what I can say is that every time I’ve seen him play he looks a serious threat to the opposition and he gets the opportunity to challenge for a place in the team. “I look forward to this being the first of three or four further additions to the group before the end of the month.” He will be in the 18 for our home FA Cup tie with Rotherham.”

Fri Jan 8th Carayol joins Bridcutt as 2nd arrival Leeds United have confirmed the signing Middlesbrough winger Mustapha Carayol on loan until the end of the season.The 27-year-old is Leeds’ second signing of the January transfer window, following the addition of Liam Bridcutt on loan from Sunderland. He has been handed the number 18 shirt and will be available for Saturday’s FA Cup third round tie against Rotherham United. He said: This is a great opportunity for me to come here and hopefully play some regular football at a very big club. “I know the gaffer and Paul Raynor from my time at Crawley and I am looking forward to working with both of them again here. “It was a move which happened very quickly and one which I am delighted to have been able to finalise so soCarayolNewon. “I’m looking forward to meeting up with the lads, I’ve got my first training session this morning and I’m available to play in the cup should I be picked. “I’d love to make my debut at Elland Road in front of the Leeds United supporters. I’ve played there before and I know what it’s all about. It’s a special place to play football” .Carayol spent the first half of this season on loan with Huddersfield Town, appearing 15 times for the West Yorkshire side and scoring three times. He previously spent two months with Brighton and Hove Albion on loan. Carayol was born in Banjul, Gambia, but has spent the entirety of his career in England. He represented the likes of MK Dons, Crawley Town, Torquay United, Lincoln City and Bristol Rovers before signing for Middlesbrough in 2012. He has made 50 appearances for Boro.

Sat 2nd of Jan Leeds 1 (Kay OG 88), MK DONS 1 (Hall 30) United team:  Silvestri, Wootton, Bamba, Cooper, Taylor, Byram, Cook, Bridcutt, Murphy (Antenucci 45), Dallas (Coyle 76), Doukara (Erwin 58). Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Bellusci, Phillips, Adeyemi. Referee: Jeremy Simpson. Booked: Bamba, Byram (United), Murphy, Carruthers, Hall, McFadzean, Kay (MK Dons) Att:  24,356 (407 MK Dons) Report from Official website

LEEDS V MKDONS

Bamba celebrates late OG v MK Dons

KyleLaffertyPics

Kyle Lafferty

United’s first game of 2016, the visit of MK Dons, saw head coach Steve Evans make two changes from the 2-2 draw at home to Derby County earlier in the week. Striker Chris Wood missed out as a precaution to a minor hamstring strain picked up just minutes after heading his side in front against the Rams, with Souleymane Doukara taking his place in attack for a first league start in over 12 months, while Tom Adeyemi made way for Lewis Cook in midfield.  The early exchanges passed without incident and with little in the way of goalmouth action, other than a couple of Leeds counter-attacks through Lewis Cook and Sam Byram which the MK Dons defence managed to deal with. The visitors were dealt a blow on the 14th-minute mark, though, and were forced into an early substitution as the injured Carl Baker was replaced by Dean Bowditch. The game’s first effort on goal eventually came after 28 minutes, with Rob Hall curling a 20-yard free-kick high and wide of Marco Silvestri’s crossbar for the Dons. But Hall was on target just two minutes later to give the visitors a first-half lead, tucking the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the area after it had rolled kindly into his path following Nicky Maynard’s run down the right. Leeds looked to mount a response but they remained in search of a first real sight of goal as the Dons took their lead into the break, with only a blocked strike from Doukara and a header from Byram in an offside position during the closing stages of the half threatening a leveller. Evans was prompted into his first change of the afternoon at the interval, returning to a more attack-minded 4-4-2 formation as Luke Murphy was sacrificed in midfield to make way for striker Mirco Antenucci. United came agonisingly close to an equaliser on 56 minutes from a free-kick drawn by Byram following another quick break up-field from Cook. Charlie Taylor’s curling effort looked destined to nestle in the back of the Dons net, only for the ball to clip the outside of the post and bounce behind with goalkeeper David Martin rooted to the spot. There was suddenly an added urgency in the hosts’ play and Evans looked to build on that as he made his second change shortly before the hour mark, replacing Doukara with Lee Erwin in attack. But it was the Dons who came closest to adding the second goal of the game, with Hall firing over from range before Nicky Maynard forced Silvestri into a superb reflex save to turn behind his goalbound effort after the striker had burst into the United area. Leeds looked to be starting the year with a frustrating defeat but were able to pull level just two minutes from time as Dons defender Antony Kay turned Taylor’s cross beyond his own goalkeeper to set up a frantic finale. United sent men forward in numbers during five minutes of added time, but there proved to be no late drama as the spoils were shared. It’s no good getting decent draws at Forest and at home to Derby and throwing away points at home to the likes of MK Dons and Rotherham. The good teams blow sides like these away. We raise our game against the better sides and yet lack the creativity and guile to punish the weaker sides at home. Better players can’t come into this side quick enough for me.  Managers’ reaction LEEDS head coach Steve Evans admitted Saturday’s 1-1 draw with MK Dons was a below-par performance from his side – and reiterated plans were underway to bring in “three or four” new players this month. Evans is hoping to extend midfielder Liam Bridcutt’s loan from Sunderland, and he revealed Leeds were in talks with Norwich over the possibility of signing striker Kyle Lafferty. “We need to strengthen the group and we’re working really hard to try and do that, he said. We’re working hard to make that happen but we’re not going to be held to ransom on wages or fees. “There’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes. I had a full update (on Friday) from the president on three or four players we’re really keen to bring in. He’s as keen as I am. “We will strengthen the group. The first one I want through the door is Liam Bridcutt and we’ll see where the others go in the next few days ahead.” On Lafferty, who Evans said was at Elland Road to watch the game, the former Rotherham boss added: “The clubs are having a chat. We’ll see where it goes.” Meanwhile, Dons manager Karl Robinson refused to blame Antony Kay after the defender’s late own goal at Elland Road denied his side their first Sky Bet Championship away win since the opening day of the season. “It’s the greatest game in the world. That’s why it is, “A team that has come to one of the greatest grounds in the country and performed the way we did, with no fear on a pitch that was difficult – although credit to the ground staff to get that game on – we can be immensely proud of that performance. “Let’s not talk about the error at the end. It’s human error and we can accept that. “It’s part of life, the mistakes we make as human beings. It wasn’t a lack of effort or lack of desire. “How can I be frustrated when they play like that? The players were excellent. “If we’d managed to win this it would have been one of my best wins as a manager.” “I thought he got away with the sending-off because (Maynard) was clear on goal,” he said. “For me it’s a definite penalty as well.” 

Jan 1st Leeds United: Doubt still hangs over Byram and Bridcutt- Phil Hay The question of who Steve Evans will sign this month is counterbalanced by the question of who he might lose. Sam Byram and Liam Bridcutt will appear against MK Dons tomorrow, potentially for the last time in Leeds United colours. Conceivably, too, Bridcutt and Byram could both be on the books at Elland Road when Leeds wrap up their season in May. Bridcutt’s emergency loan from Sunderland ends this weekend but Evans wants to extend it until the summer, with a view to signing him permanently. A big offer would take Byram elsewhere in January but his contract runs to July and the promise of compensation means United can be picky. Doubt hangs over the two players who were most influential for Evans in December, a period which is certain to put United’s head coach in contention for the manager-of-the-month award. Leeds were dismal on Bridcutt’s debut at QPR but have not been beaten in six matches since then. Byram scored three times last month, produced two assists and – with unfortunate timing – made himself look like the forward Uwe Rosler thought he could be at the start of the season. Byram, who has been scouted by Aston Villa and linked with Liverpool in the past few weeks, had an emotional look about him when he left the field towards the end of Tuesday’s 2-2 draw with Derby County but Evans says there is currently no deal in place to sell him. Leeds’ head coach prefers the idea of cashing in on Byram quickly rather than waiting until his deal ends on June 30 but there was never any clear suggestion that Derby might be Byram’s final appearance, 139 games on from his first. The 22-year-old, who has recovered from a dead leg, is in fine form and Leeds need a victory over MK Dons tomorrow to keep the play-offs within view. “Until (Massimo) Cellino phones me up and tells me that Sam is being sold, I’ll continue to pick him,” Evans said. “I’m quite relaxed about the situation. “The reason I’m picking him is nothing to do with his contract or anything else. It’s down to his form. The reason he didn’t play for a few weeks a while back was because I wasn’t seeing the performances in training I needed to see from him. “But he’s worked his game up and he’s a fantastic professional. I take a lot of interest in the Prozone stats and in two of the last three games he’s covered more distance than any other player by a quite distance. His attitude’s spot on and he’s been big for us. “I’m able to separate the football side of things from the non-football side but I made the effort to get (contract) talks going between Sam’s people and the club because I didn’t think the lack of communication was helping. Maybe the previous head coach (Rosler) lacked the confidence to go in and have a frank discussion with Mr Cellino but it needed to be done and even though there hasn’t been an agreement, Sam’s looked much happier in himself.” Bridcutt must also be happier for a period of football which has contrasted with much of his career at Sunderland. He had not played this season before Evans signed him in November but he has settled into an out-and-out defensive midfield position at Elland Road and Leeds have taken 12 points from seven games with Bridcutt in the team. The midfielder looks like an asset which Evans cannot afford to lose and United’s boss is quietly confident that he will get his way with Sunderland. The Premier League club want to sell Bridcutt to fund other transfers but Leeds remain intent on extending his loan to the end of the season. Much like Byram, Bridcutt’s future this month is likely to depend on who offers what for him. Evans has said many times that United and Sunderland have a “gentleman’s agreement” for Bridcutt to remain at Elland Road until May. The worry for Evans – aside from the possibility of substantial rival bids for him – might be that once Bridcutt’s loan ends tomorrow, Sunderland could delay in committing to a second loan until the back end of the transfer window. Leeds have time to work with, however, and do not contest another league game until their visit to Ipswich Town on January 12. “I can’t say I don’t have any concern about it but I’m not panicking either,” Evans said. “I know we’ve got a gentleman’s agreement with Sunderland and I’d like to think that will stay in place. But I know that could change if someone makes them or Liam a massive offer. If that happens then I’ll shake his hand and wish him well. “Out of everyone, I’ve probably got the least control over this. A lot of it’s down to Sunderland and Sam Allardyce (Sunderland’s manager) but I’ve asked Liam if he wants to stay and he’s told me ‘100 per cent’. “You can’t praise his performances highly enough and he’s done what I said he’d do when I signed him. But I’m aware of one or two other players out there who could do the same job for me if that’s how it goes. I’m not saying I want to go down that road and I’d love Liam to stay but we’re not going to get caught out.” Sunderland signed Bridcutt from Brighton in 2014 for a fee of around £3m. Brighton, where Bridcutt spent four seasons and contributed significantly to a progressive spell for the Sussex club, are one of the sides believed to be interested in signing him permanently in this window.

Jan 1st ‘Derby game sent out a message’ – Bamba Sol Bamba claimed Leeds United’s performance in a 2-2 draw with Derby County “gave a message” to the rest of the Championship – but refused to talk up the club’s chances of making the play-offs. Leeds came within 12 minutes of completing a home-and-away double over a Derby side that has lost twice all season before a late Tom Ince goal saw the points shared at Elland Road on Tuesday night. Bamba, who returned to Leeds’ line-up after a lengthy absence and scored their first goal, said growing confidence was behind the club’s current six-game unbeaten run but warned that it was “too early” for United to be thinking about a top-six finish. Leeds are nine points behind sixth-placed Ipswich Town but will cut the gap to at least seven if they beat MK Dons tomorrow. Bamba said: “I think (the Derby game) gave a message to the rest of the league. If we play like that then I think we can look up. There’s belief and the confidence that we can go out and perform like that against any team in the league. “It’s a bit of a cliche but we’re taking each game as it comes. So many teams could be in the top six. We definitely want to be in the mix and if we continue this way then we will be but it’s too early to talk about that.” United’s captain said Leeds would be helped by Steve Evans’ plans for the January transfer window coming to fruition. “If you want to do well in the division then you have to have a big squad and I think we’re a bit short,” Bamba said.

Tues Dec 29th Leeds 2 (Bamba 42, Wood 71), DERBY 2 (Hendrick 13, Ince 78) United team: Silvestri, Wootton, Bamba, Cooper, Taylor, Byram (Phillips 88), Adeyemi (Cook 63), Bridcutt, Murphy, Dallas, Wood (Doukara 75). Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Coyle, Bellusci, Antenucci.Referee: Mark Heywood. Booked: Byram, Bridcutt, Murphy (United), Hendrick, Christie (Derby) Att: 23,027 (1,472 Derby) Report from Official website The midweek visit of Derby County, United’s final fixture of 2015, saw head coach Steve Evans make two changes from the previous weekend’s 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest, with captain Sol Bamba returning to defence in place of Giuseppe Bellusci and Tom Adeyemi replacing Lewis Cook in midfield. United saw plenty of the ball inside the early stages but the opening 10 minutes passed without incident as the only effort on goal came through a speculative Sam Byram strike which sailed well over the crossbar as the winger lost his footing. The deadlock was broken on the 13th-minute mark in favour of the visitors, though, as Jeff Hendrick worked his way into the area before lofting the ball over Marco Silvestri from close-range. Leeds looked to mount a quick response and soon threatened an equaliser through Adeyemi, who was on target in the reverse fixture earlier in the season, but the midfielder’s towering header from Byram’s cross flew over Lee Grant’s bar. Jacob Butterfield saw a strike blocked at the opposite end, but United were starting to press in search of an equaliser and Adeyemi turned another header over from another Byram cross. United did manage find an equaliser just three minutes before the break through the unlikely source of Bamba, the defender turning home his first of the season from close-range after Derby failed to deal with a free-kick from deep which was returned goalwards by Stuart Dallas. Openings at both ends were created in three minutes of first-half stoppage time, with Johnny Russell curling over the bar for the visitors after picking up a short corner on the edge of the area, before Chris Wood drove forward before seeing his strike blocked as the sides went in level at the break. United did manage find an equaliser just three minutes before the break through the unlikely source of Bamba, the defender turning home his first of the season from close-range after Derby failed to deal with a free-kick from deep which was returned goalwards by Stuart Dallas. Openings at both ends were created in three minutes of first-half stoppage time, with Johnny Russell curling over the bar for the visitors after picking up a short corner on the edge of the area, before Chris Wood drove forward before seeing his strike blocked as the sides went in level at the break. The teams unchanged re-emerged from the interval and it was Derby who started the second period the brighter of the two, former United midfielder Bradley Johnson smashing over from the edge of the area after Silvestri had pushed Hendrick’s cross into his path. Clear-cut chances were at a premium, though, and Dallas let fly from range but saw his well-hit strike gathered comfortably by Grant. Both managers were prompted into changes just after the hour mark, with Derby replacing Darren Bent with Chris Martin in attack, while United introduced Lewis Cook in place of Adeyemi. Then, inside the 71st minute, Elland Road was brought to its feet as United took the lead for the first time in the game as Wood nodded home an inch-perfect Byram cross from the right in front of the jubilant Kop. Derby also made a change, bringing Tom Ince on in place of Weimann, and it soon paid dividends as the former Blackpool and Hull City winger fired an equaliser into the bottom corner within minutes of entering the pitch to pull his side level. A frantic closing 10 minutes followed, with both sides searching for a late winner. Hendrick had an effort deflected over the bar for Derby after turning inside the area, while Luke Murphy forced Grant to push his 20-yard free-kick behind as it looked to creep into the bottom corner. There proved to be no way through, though, and United ended 2015 by extending their unbeaten run to six games after a thrilling draw.

Tues 29th of Dec Stand off with Sky. After refusing to allow Sky cameras in to broadcast the match v Derby, Cornman finally relented on Tuesday evening when the following statement was released :

Tues 29th of Dec LUFC statement re live games Leeds United have reluctantly allowed Sky cameras into Elland Road to broadcast tonight’s fixture against Derby County.Leeds United have noted that the majority of press reports on the matter have quite rightly appreciated that the club’s issues with the Football League relate in part to the entirely disproportionate number of times Sky have selected the club for live transmission. It is not just the number of times the club has been selected, but the fact the adjoining fixtures are also then disrupted which adversely affects the players, the club’s logistical arrangements and the fans’ arrangements. It is clear to the club that its key supporters, the Season Ticket holders, have also had enough of this constant alteration, often at short notice, to the fixture list to accommodate Sky. Leeds United were required to play Wolverhampton Wanderers on Thursday December 17 followed by Preston North End at home on Sunday December 20, followed by Nottingham Forest on Sunday evening and then Derby County tonight . Recent good results have been achieved despite the alterations to the fixture list, but at great cost to the players’ fitness and a substantial injury list .The festive plans of supporters have also been entirely ruined by Sky’s live TV selections. The league, despite the club having challenged them through the appropriate legal routes, continue to try and alter our schedule by insisting fixtures are changed to suit Sky, including Brighton & Hove Albion away from a Saturday to a Monday in February. Given Sky are to show 92 live games this season, a fair allocation would be four home games per club – so the selection by Sky is clearly unfair and the league are allowing this . The Football League regulations are supposed to be there to protect the integrity of the sporting competition, not to be used as a stick to beat the club on behalf of Sky. Leeds United Season Ticket holders have had enough of these fixture changes, the players and staff have had enough, and Leeds United Football Club has had enough . It is to be noted that the League threaten a disrepute charge against the club. It is the League who are bringing their own competition into disrepute by unfairly prejudicing Leeds (and certain other clubs) by allowing Sky to unfairly disrupt Leeds United for their own commercial purposes.