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16 Hartlepool 41 -9 46
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18 Swindon T 41 -4 45
19 Carlisle 41 -14 44
20 Crewe 41 -18 44

21 Northampton 39 -1 42
22 Brighton 39 -20 36
23 Hereford 39 -29 33
24 Cheltenham 40 -37 31


July/Aug 2002 Archive
Sunday 4th August 2002
Readers will realise that I haven't updated the site over the last week. It was done on purpose, because although there was a lot of words in the media there was very little action off the pitch, and having spent two months writing almost daily about the speculation surrounding the managerial signing and then the Rio contoversy I'd had enough. I wanted some real news to be able to discuss. Of course we played several meaningless friendlies in the Far East in an attempt to raise the profile of the club (and sales of shirts!) But currently most fans are more concerned about the, so far, unfulfilled promise of Publicity Pete, that we would be signing three or four players in a week. So far no one has signed and in fact the situation is worse as we have lost Robbie Fowler for 8-10 weeks with a recurrence of the old hip injury. The Fowler injury is interesting in that Terry has just said,
"My squad is a good one but it is not balanced. We have six top strikers. But most likely I have got to let one go."
So how many does Terry think is ideal? The "six" strikers include Kewell who normally occupies a left midfield slot, Fowler out for up to ten weeks but maybe longer as this injury has occured before and clearly has not been fixed. Another striker, Bridges had a very good 21 goal first season, but has not really played for two seasons. He is unproven at the moment and has no real market value. That leaves three strikers for Terry. Robbie Keane is regarded as having a good World Cup, but last season there were questions over his weight and fitness, he displayed an irritating tendency to go offside and, (just like Bowyer) also missed several sitters. Keane is like Andrew Cole, he needs lots of chances to score his goals. That leaves two, Alan Smith, who spent twenty five games last season playing right midfield but had an excellent U-21 tournament in June, but it has been a while since he has been a regular Premiership scorer. Finally we have Viduka, who likewise hasn't been a regular scorer but who Venables will naturally favour because he used him when managing Australia. Viduka is often condemned as lazy by Leeds fans but lauded by the professionals. Who is right? Martin O'Neill has publically said he wished Viduka had stayed with Celtic, where he scored 28 goals in a season. Before you all say well anyone can do that you should note that very few do, including the likes of Tore Andre Flo.
Having looked at that list I think Terry would be foolish to sell a striker at the moment as he cannot know who will be available let alone what is the best perm from the six available.
Do you think we should sell one of the six? (Accepting that if we don't we are unlikely to be able to make more than one new signing?) If so, who would you sell?
I think it is clear that without a striker being sold we are unlikely to make more than one new signing. Terry wants a more "balanced" squad, so selling a striker is more than just raising cash, he simply feels he doesn't need six strikers in a squad of Leeds' size. So where is the balance required that Terry seems so concerned about? Where do you think our current squad lacks depth? With Rio gone and Duberry pressing for a move he may think that Matteo, Lucas, Woody are insufficient in number to see us through a Premiership and European campaign. Candell-Sherrif is promising but probably not ready for the first team yet. So a DC is a possibility. As I said before (at length) a lot of this speculation depends on the preferred formation that TV will use. What is your preferred formation? 4-4-2, 5-3-2, 4-4-1-1 Leaving that question aside what other position need to be covered. Questions remain over Harte's future, he is no longer seen as good enough for the team. Most of these doubts seem to have occurred over the latter part of last season and the World Cup. It's a shame because he is committed to Leeds. So a new left full-back is also required but Harte may have to go to help fund the move.
The midfield must worry Terry. It was our strong point two seasons ago but now there are major questions over its future individually and as a unit.
We need a dedicated right sided midfielder. Bowyer plays there but is better inside.
Bowyer - is not committed to the club beyond this season. I've no doubt he'll play a positive role in our midfield this season but what if he the leaves? We're, and Terry, are back to square one, looking for a midfielder and no sales receipt from Lee's move in the coffer to help fund it. So we have a problem for next summer already, how do we fund the replacement of Lee with a player of similar capability?
Dacourt - the specualtion over his future is well known but does nothing for the comfort of Leeds fans. How can he feel committed to the club when they wanted him to leave?
Batty - didn't go on the Leeds tour of the Far East. European opportunities hampered by fear of flying. Didn't even play in the Barnsley friendly yesterday. It may well be Batty's last season at Leeds.
Bakke - one of the few bright spots. has just signed a new contract, scored an excellent goal in Bangkok and has twice been used by Terry protecting the back four by playing just in front of them. Looks like Terry has quickly found him a permanent place as he sees Eiric as having a future with Leeds.
Wilcox - a favourite for a move away from Leeds amongst many fans. But may get more chances under TV if Kewell is played as a front man rather than left midfield. Fierce tackler, which is what we need in front of Ian Harte. Also, has a greater tendency to cross the ball after beating his man, as opposed to Kewell who won't cross a ball unless he has beaten a minimum of three players! Besides his market value is about £2m, which is of very little use to TV.
Seth Johnson - permanently injured... Also plays.. played at left back, so could be a Harte replacement if he could keep away from injuries. But that scenario doesn't help the midfield problems.
Gary Kelly- standy-by midfielder but hardly in the Kieron Dyer class is he? I know one of the attractions of Terry is what he can get out of players but he isn't going to make Gary into a top midfielder. GK's position in the club will be as understudy to Danny Mills or he'll be sold to Sunderland?
McPhail Struggled with injury last season. Season before he was one of the O'Leary Babes, seemingly with a bright future. I think O'Leary would have sold him if he had stayed. Another left-sided midfielder though..
Harpal Singh Another left-sided midfielder, of whom great things are predicted. But he's behind Kewell, Wilcox, Johnson, McPhail in the left-side pecking order.
In terms of TV's "balance", he probably feels the defence has too few quality players. But in terms of the midfield I think he has greater worries. We have a preponderence of left-sided players and too few right-sided midfielders. Of those right siders we do have, the future of our brightest star, Bowyer, is clouded in uncertainty. That's a balance to be redressed in midfield, possibly by swopping one of our lefties for a decent right midfielder, possibly a winger. Because, as Terry knows that a solid defence is the basis for success and he may prefer to limit Danny Mills' forays forward now he hasn't got Rio's speed to provide cover when the attacks break down.

Thursday 25th July Another busy day in the news for Leeds Utd and its players.
* Leeds Utd website officially denies William Gallas of Chelsea OR ANY CENTRAL DEFENDER is on the short-list * Bowyer trains with Leeds squad in Melbourne * Ell Tel plans Bowyer showdown * Arsenal renew Bowyer interest * Leeds United deny Martyn and Venables Row * Martyn "I expect to be number one at Leeds next season" * Leeds reported to be ready to sell Keane to Spurs (or anyone with the cash?) * Leeds "Want Anderton for Keane" (Gasp!) * Feyenoord Ready for Offers for Brett Emerton * Liverpool favourites to beat Leeds for the Aussie * Leeds reject Milan's offer of Roque Junior * Leeds chase Milan's Laursen * Man Utd & Leeds eye Rennes defender * Either some of these stories are red herrings or the Directors and staff at Leeds United are working flat-out and the phones are burning red-hot! Must be £30 million burning a hole in someone's bank account!
The story regarding Bowyer and Arsenal simply seems to stem from the fact that Wenger has said he is looking for another midfielder and will make a move next week. Why Bowyer should be picked is beyond me. If Wenger was keen on him surely he would have stepped in and made a bid last week when it seemed certain Bowyer was signing for Liverpool? Red Herring score? 9.5/10
It seems perfectly reasonable, however, that Terry Venables would take what is his first opportunity since Bow's transfer to Liverpool fell through, to have a heart to heart with his fellow Londoner. Bow did say that Venables arrival was something that gave him hope for the forthcoming season. Whether that was just bluster to cover up his embarrasment at having to return to Leeds or genuine sentiment we will have a better idea after the meeting. If TV cannot convince Bow to sign a new contract then we are no further forward and Leeds will leave him on the transfer list. Whilst most Leeds fans will look forward to seeing Bow in the White of Leeds next season there will be a gnawing feeling of betrayal present in the breasts of most if he doesn't sign a new contract
For what it is worth leedsutd365.co.uk would like to suggest to Leeds and Bowyer a compromise. Why not offer and sign a 1-2 year contract? It will give Lee a pay rise he needs because of his legal costs. Leeds will cover those and arrange a reasonable repayment schedule, thus doing away with the need for a large signing-on fee, which is what scuppered the Liverpool negotiations it seems. Leeds get Bow as a player for 2 more years which is what we want. Bowyer gets to see how Venables will change the club and hopefully bring trophies during that period. Winning something may be all it takes but, time heals a lot of things and in two years time Ridsdale and Bowyer may be reconciled and able to put the court case and its aftermath behind them.
Do you agree or are Bowyer, or Ridsdale, right in their attitude?
William Gallas - before Leeds denied any interest the papers and his agent were making quite a convincing story out of him being Rio's replacement. Turns out that Chelsea are trying to get Gallas to sign a new contract, so it seems like his agent was lying to all and sundry just to make Chelsea cough-up more. Red Herring score 10/10 Anderton Keane Swop. I think this suggested deal worries many Leeds fans. I've not heard one say the want "Sicknote" Anderton at Leeds. I don't think Leeds fans doubt the guy has plenty of ability, and Leeds are short of true right-sided players, apart from Bowyer, who may not be here in 12 months. But as his nickname suggests Leeds fans have had enough of seeing their players on the treatment table over the last 2 years without buying a player who seems to be always injured. The stats may show different but that is the feeling everyone has. Also where is the sense in swopping a 21 year-old World Cup star who says he wants to stay for a 30 year old invalid who cannot get in the England squad and whose best days are probably behind him? The whole deal is being mentioned because the new Leeds manager was the man who signed Anderton for Spurs back in 1990 for £1.75 million. Plus Spurs are reported to want Keane (Hoddle tried to cover up his interest lamely on TV last night) but there is no way Spurs can afford the £10 million fee. So the Press are putting these two facts together and coming up with a "story". But it's just worring enough to be a nightmare and true so it gets a Red Herring Factor of 7/10. Feyenoord Ready for Offers for Brett Emerton - Sky Sports have been running this story all day. I think we can presume it is true. Emerton said last week that no one had come in for him and he was surprised, considering the interest last season. Feyenoord naturally want the player to be focussed on playing for them or sold for a £9-10 m fee. They have therefore decided to bring the matter to a head, as Leeds did with Man Utd. Make an offer or go away is the Dutch message. Despite the Rio windfall, the Press have naturally made Liverpool the favourites as they always do. I think that has a high Red Herring score. Liverpool are husbanding their resources for a Damian Duff bid. They have shown they are not made of money by failing to meet Bowyer's wage expectations and yesterday their initial new contract offers to Smicer and Berger were rejected! Liverpool appear to be having problems with their wage bill, hence they have said Litmanen can go on a free. Smicer has since accepted a deal. But remember Liverpool let Redknapp go on a free at the end of last season. Free transfers are usually designed to reduce wage bills. Could Liverpool's ambitions be out stripping its deep pockets? If Liverpool go for Emerton then kiss a Duff bid goodbye. After the Bowyer fiasco Liverpool fans were banking on an immediate Duff signing to restore the credibility of the club as a "great club". So far a plethora of little known Senegalese has not done that. Duff or Emerton which is it? It can't be both..
Will Leeds go for Emerton? He was a target last season so we were told. Venables knows him and he knows Venables which could be a good or bad thing depending on what they know and how they got on. The presence of Aussies Viduka, Kewell, Burns and McMaster would make the transition easier than going to say Liverpool, whose last Aussie left about ten years ago. But do we need Emerton or a player in his position? Is it a high priority? We should know soon as Feyenoord's words will spark action. Indeed, Leeds may have already been in touch and Feyenoord's words may be designed to start a scramble of clubs bidding for Emerton's services. Red Herring score 4/10.

Tuesday 23rd July
Day One AR (After Rio)
Here's a brief summary of today's Leeds news and gossip
* Jaap Stam says he's turned down a Leeds approach * Harry Kewell is being suggested as the next Captain of the Socceroos * Leeds score five in their first ever game in China * Tottenham Hotspur are interested in Robbie Keane * Rio is to be Ferguscum's one and only summer signing * Wenger says Man Utd overpaid for Rio * David O'Leary agreed to sell Rio! * Barmby said to be on Ridsdale's shopping list * Milan invite Leeds bid for Roque Junior * Season ticket deadline extension *

Monday 22nd July
Never a dull day
So thankfully all the indecision is over and Leeds Utd, Terry Venables, the players and the fans can move on from this destructive period to finally planning for next season.
Rio has signed for Man Utd for over £33 million (£15 million now, £15 million next July and £4 million depending on if Rio fulfills his "ambition" and wins trophies for Man Utd).
Lee Bowyer has decided to stay with Leeds or Liverpool got fed up of waiting for him to deciding on their piddling offer of £35k per week. Obviously the club is not used to having players decide whether or not they actually want to play for Liverpool. It years since Liverpool won the title and playing for Liverpool is no longer reward enough, quality players like Bowyer want the going rate. The fact that Liverpool are a team of yester year is proved when Man Utd give Rio £70,000 a week and Liverpool cannot match Leeds' offer for of £40000 for match winner like Bowyer. Like a Grand Dame, Houllier has picked up his skirts and walked off stge in a huff. They have failed to sign the one player that could have given them the title next season, they will have cause to regret that tantrum. (Liverpool are reported to want to sign Damian Duff instead of Bowyer. Duff is flavour of the month with the Press just like Rio was. Blackburn will do well to cash in on him while his stock is so high after the World Cup and before someone asks why if Duff is so good did Blackburn flirt with relegation for much of last season and Ireland lack such a cutting edge when it came to goals.) Most Leeds fans will be pleased to have Bowyer stay. We win more matches when he plays than when he doesn't (52% to 38%). However, if we are to believe the statement he made when he said he was staying Leeds fans will want to see him sign a new contract, even if it's only an extension for the two years that Venables has signed up for. Otherwise he'll do a Bosman at the end of the season and nothing has changed from the time that Mr Ridsdale put the player on the transfer list. Still I'm pleased to be able to have one more season of Lee in a Leeds shirt even if it turns out to be an expensive one.
Lee Bowyer said he remains committed to the Leeds cause and he had kind words for Leeds fans, plus he said his heart lies with Leeds and has predicted a bright future at Elland Road despite the treachery of Rio Ferdinand.

"Rio's move to Manchester United is a loss, but it also means that other players are less likely to leave the club and I think we have a strong base to build on," said Bowyer.
"Although it looked as if I was going to leave the club, I always had my doubts and I knew it would be hard to find supporters as loyal as the ones we have at Leeds.
"I think they will see that the best is still to come from this Leeds team."
"I never asked to go on the transfer list and made it clear to Mr Ridsdale that I had reservations when they accepted Liverpool's bid," he said.
"So it is probably in the best interest of all parties that the deal did not go through.
"The arrival of Terry Venables was also a major factor in my thinking that this was not the right time to be leaving Elland Road.
"With the players we have and with Venables as manager I genuinely believe we have an excellent chance of winning something this season."
There has been nonsense written saying that Bowyer "failed Houllier's character test" or lacked desire to play for Liverpool. The truth is that Liverpool thought they were getting him on the cheap because of Bosman and they made the mistake of thinking they would get him on the cheap when it came to personal terms. The only failure is for Liverpool to respect the ability and worth of Lee Bowyer. If he gave them the Premiership or a decent run in the Champions League what price then? With hindsight you often see the major mistakes manager's make, with Wilko it was the sale of Cantona, with Houllier it was not following through with Bowyer, preferring to sign unknowns from the World Cup. Liverpool now seems more like the French Foreign Legion or the United Nations and I predict Liverpool's worst season for three years is about to dawn. Lee Bowyer will miss the Green Town friendly in China and instead will fly to Melbourne by Wenesday to join up with his team-mates on their pre-season tour. He is almost certain to play in the friendly against Chilean club Colo Colo on Saturday. elcome back to Elland Road lee, now do teh decent thing and make it permanent, then I can get your name on the back of my new away shirt!! The Leeds midfield remains strong with Olly Dacourt now happily on tour with Leeds Utd having settled his own future by the simple premise of saying Wenger and Juve, come and get me before Saturday or forget it! Apart from Dubeerry for the immediate future Leeds fans can settle back and dream of who is coming to Leeds rather than who is leaving. No more ridiculous stories of Leeds having to raise £15 million popping up in the Press every day - that will make a nice change.
Peter Ridsdale is saying he and Terry have drawn up a list of 3-4 players that he will be attempting to sign this week. Who are they? What position should they be? Join in the debate in our forum

Friday 19th July
Ridsdale Plays Hard Ball - Man Utd fail again
Peter Ridsdale has just rejected a second bid from Man Utd, reported to be of £29 million, for Rio Ferdinand.

"I have had one conversation with them today but it did not move the situation on any further. We have still to receive a bid of a level that we would find acceptable," said Ridsdale.
Clearly the Man Utd Directors have under estimated the resolve of the Leeds Board to keep Rio or punish Man Utd if they really do want to take our Captain. With Rio due to depart for the Far East tomorrow with the Leeds squad, Man Utd Directors will now be panicking. Assured by Ferguson and the Red biased Press that Leeds were in financial trouble and would take a low offer they have totally messed up the transfer despite the media and Press trying to say the opposite.
The first bid of £20 m was so low as to annoy the Leeds Board, it clearly showed disrepect for Leeds Utd and the management of the finances of the club by the Board. From that moment MAN UTD WERE ALWAYS GOING TO HAVE TO PAY THROUGH THEIR WALLET FOR THAT ARROGANCE. RIDSDALE HAS THE PLAYER HE WANTS TO KEEP ON A FOUR YEAR CONTRACT, HE IS IN NO HURRY TO SELL RIO. But Man Utd are in a hurry to buy. If they don't get Rio today or tommorrow, then Ferguson must buy elsewhere to beat the Champions League deadline. Even if Rio is sold later Rio will miss out on the first group stage matches, just as he did in the season he moved to Leeds Utd. That would be hard for Man Utd to bear having paid £30 million for him. So the Directors of Man Utd have to move NOW, Ridsdale doesn't have to do anything. Sell him, keep him, Ridsdale is the winner either way. But Man Utd only win from their perspective if the land Rio.
So with Leeds and Ridsdale sitting pretty the Man Utd Directors will have to swallow their pride and humiliatingly bid £30 million for Rio or go elsewhere, with the world knowing that Man Utd can be beaten off, that contracts can be made to mean something and that Man Utd do not have the bottomless finances their fans believe. English Premiership Football will never be the same. Meanwhile, the Bowyer transfer drags on, and on. Ridsdale equably said,
As far as we're concerned, the deal is done between the two clubs. We've given him a passport out of Leeds and wished him well."
Presumably Peter had just finished sticking the latest batch of pins in Bowyer's wax effigy so he felt quite magnanimous when he said that. Earlier in the day he would have said, "Given that the he can't wait to leave the club, the greedy little fucker sure hangs around!" Nah, I can'y see Ridsdale using those words, can you? Duberry is in talks with Bolton. But personally I doubt they have the cash for the deal.

New Away Kit Announced
August 9th will see the roll out of the new Leeds Away kit, yellow this time. It has the blue piping around the lower back, like the new home kit but thankfully the collar is like the old home kit and the current blue kit. In other words it is collarless, I dislike the collar on the new home kit and haven't bought one. But I will support the club and buy this new away shirt. Thursday 18th July

Zero Down Three To Go?
The interminable transfer wrangling continued today. Bowyer's transfer is still not complete as Lee Bowyer seems to have forgotten his desire to move for "footballing reasons" now that Liverpool offered him substantially less than he could have earned by staying at Leeds. The stand-off has continued for three days now and raises serious doubts about Bowyer's commitment to the Merseysiders and their faith in the fact that Lee Bowyer can deliver the goods in a Red shirt. Liverpool fans are getting an early introduction into the world of Lee Boywer. I bet they cannot remember the last time a player didn't leap at the chance to join them. Good heavens, from the way Bowyer was acting anyone would think they were just another club that hasn't won the Championship for over a decade! Oh they are! It's just that they get such special treatment from the television pundits (Hansen and Lawrenson) you automatically think they are real contenders! I've never seen so many academic honours bestowed on a manager for coming second, hell, they must be really desperate in Liverpool! I guess they are if they are willing to besmirch the name of Liverpool FC by buying Bowyer KNOWING about his background off the pitch.

Ferdinand - the distasteful sight of the Leeds United Captain publically acting like a whore continues unabated. Rio met Ridsdale this afternoon, presumably his agent who said that Rio wanted "to move to a bigger and better club" was too scared to appear at the Thorp Arch training ground where there might be Leeds fans, for fear of becoming the first victim of lynching in Britain for over a hundred years. Ridsdale issued this statement:

I stressed that we do not wish to sell Rio under any circumstances and would like to see him fulfil the contract he signed in November 2000. I also stressed that Leeds United have not received a bid from any club that would come anywhere near meeting the valuation we put on a player we believe to be the world's best defender. Rio has assured me that if the position remains as it is he will give his full commitment as a player and captain to Leeds United.
Ferdinand left unaccompanied after the meeting with Ridsdale and sped away in his dark blue Ferrari. (Which proves you can give a Peckham lad £30k or £60k a week and it's a complete waste. Ferrari's are either red or yellow; any other colour is only driven by the gauche, nouveau riche without class. For God's Sake be true to your background and get a Silver Porsche like Bowyer). So now it's over to Fergscum to put a bid in at which the Leeds Board will sell. Ridsdale seems changed his mind since yesterday lunchtime when he issued a categorical refusal of the transfer request. At least that is the opinion of the Press. But has he? The initial Man Utd bid was so low it cannot be taken seriously, does Ridsdale know something the rest don't. Man Utd fans think their club can buy anyone, but with the millstone of Dwight York's wages around their neck, and having spent £60 million on three players last season with nothing to show for it, can The Scum afford £30M for Rio? Don't forget, Ferguscum has publicly admitted he needs another couple of players in addition to Rio. Man Utd have lost three players already in the close season and Ferguscum said he did not want the size of his squad to fall. So in addition to his wages and £30 million, Ferguscum has to find the money for 2 other players. Ferguscum knows this and has engineered a revolt by Rio and his agent in the hope that Leeds will sell cheap to get rid of an unhappy player to the only buyer in the market that can afford £28 m let alone above £30-35m. It's a poker game and Ferguscum is smiling giving the impression he is winning and the Press and swallowing it without question (not that any of the spineless hacks dare ask him such a question, because they know he would never give them an interview again). But behind the scenes things are going adrift for him. He must sign his new players before the Champions League deadline. But until he signs Rio he doesn't know how much he can spend elsewhere. Leeds are not in a hurry to cash in on Rio and certainly not at a cut price. Ferguson guessed correctly that the Board will sell but he misjudged at what price, and his despicable tactics of enticing a player, of clearly limited intelligence and with poor advisors, to come out and say I want to move to man Utd have back fired. The Man Utd Board, who probably are unaware of Ferguson's mind games have backed off, fearful of the long vengeful arm of FIFA and what they can do to Man Utd if Rio were to sign for them and Leeds Utd were to make an official complaint that Rio was tapped. Indeed, Ridsdale made a public comment yesterday aimed at Ferguson saying that a campaign against Leeds was being played out in the media. So Man Utd Directors were made to say in public that they would not make another Rio bid unless Leeds were to say Rio is for sale. Leeds have not said that directly and the statement from Ridsdale above does not say that he is for sale! Ridsdale may be being underestimated by most people and playing a tricky game, the stakes are high for both clubs. But the winner is the one who keeps Rio not who wins the daily publicity battle or proves that "my club is bigger than your club" like some four-year in ths school playground. Dacourt has said that Arsenal are interested in him but unlike Rio he is resisting the urge to act like a cheap tart and say I want to play for you. Indeed, he has warned them that if they want him they must sort it by the weekend otherwise he is staying at Leeds. Great! He has said he does not want to join a squad just before the season starts. So if Olly sets off for the far East then we have him for next season. Well done, Olly, at least we know where we stand with you! And he hasn't even said he "loves the club and its fans". Should Rio be publically executed or just stripped of the Captaincy and made to be a ball boy for the first home game of the season? Wednesday 17th July
Ferdinand Treachery
So Rio has put in a transfer request. And as predicted here, Mr Ridsdale has rejected it out of hand. Weasel words from Rio trying to cover his treachery, to Sky Sports,
"I love Leeds Utd and the people of Leeds",
Pah! Has he been tapped up by Man Utd? Mr Ridsdales' words suggested a bid had been received, which is coincidental with the transfer request being put in. The arrogance of some people in football is astounding, they think we'll believe anything. Ferguson is a known tapper, that is a maker of illegal approaches to players. Jaap Stam confessed that in print so there is no point in Sir Blotchy-face denying it. It is clearly what has happened here, but through the medium of the TV and Press, and via the Man Utd players in the England squad during the World Cup. The number of national Press Sports leader writers (most of whom are Man Utd fans) saying that the move is good for football has been outrageous, There has been no objective commentary on the situation. Man Utd are just doing what they did in the 70's and 80's, they are trying to keep the title by destroying the opposition by buying the best players from the opposition. How is that good for football? They try to say he'll be a better defender at Man Utd! Bollocks! Leeds Utd have three current England full international defenders at the club and Woodgate will make it four! Ferdinand is better where he is from a footballing perspective. Any writer saying otherwise is writing through Red-tinted spectacles (that's most of Fleet Street)
I hope Ridsdale keeps Ferdinand, even if he puts him in the Reserves, whatever the cost. He'll have my support. Man Utd have an average defence and a dodgy keeper, Sir Blotchy-Face Scrotum knows this and must be worried about next season. Keep Rio, Ferguson will have to spend money to bring a replacement, he needs new defenders having lost three already in the close season. (Though I notice no national rags had headlines about "mass exodus at Old Trafford" as they have used the phrase endlessly at Elland Road). If Man Utd get Ferdinand they will finish above us, if they don't then we have a good chance of finishing above a Man Utd with a defence consisting of aging French stars and second string England squad members.
Of course Mr Ridsdale could grant the request and sell him abroad! Hah! Hah! The Peckham boy in Milan, I'd like to see that!
What do you think about Rio, his actions and Mr Ridsdale's response? What about the triumphalism of Man Utd fans?

Tuesday 16th July
Now Duberry Wants Away
Whatever happens over Rio, Leeds Utd will have one less Central Defender next season. Michael Duberry's agent has stated that Michael wants to move to another Premiership Club in search of first team football. The agent has said that Blackburn, Bolton and Everton have expressed interest. He also said that the move is nothing to do with the manager but it is something that Michael has wanted to do for "a long time."
The 6ft 1" Duberry was signed by David O'Leary for £4.5 million pounds, from Chelsea, almost exactly three years ago on 9th July, 1999. But the move has proved unlucky for both the player and Leeds. Duberry has played mainly reserve team football, for example, last season he started only four games and made the bench three times. When he did have a chance in the first team he was struck down by serious injury (Sept 2000) that kept him out of the game for the better part of a season. Perhaps as bad was the fact he became embroiled in the infamous Bowyer Woodgate trials, but only as a witness after the fact, not as a participant. Initially, he covered for his team mates (March 2000) and was eventually found not guilty of conspiring to pervert the course of justice in the first aborted trial (April 2001). But he gave evidence for the prosecution in the second trial to avoid a perjury charge. This led to a public falling out with Woodgate. Moronic sections of the Leeds crowd who presumably have great experience of lying under oath in major criminal trials hounded Duberry with taunts of being a "grass". After the end of the second trial (Dec 2001) Duberry signed a new five-year deal with Leeds despite being earlier linked in the Press with Southampton, Charlton and Spurs. As late as May this year he was being linked with Celtic and Bolton. I'm only surprised it took this long for Michael to pack up his kit bad and go in search of a better life. Unfortunately, that's what he did almost three years ago when he left Chelsea...
There is no question of Duberry being "replaced". Indeed, it is possible that once it became clear Leeds would not allow Rio to go, Michael realised that he would be fifth choice Central Defender and so would be surplus to requiremnts and sold. Rather than wait to be offloaded at a time convenient to Leeds he has decided to jump ship and secure another berth with a Premiership team before they have completed their squads for the next season, leaving Michael with nowhere to go. Duberry's transfer fee of £2-3 million, will leave Ell Tel with only £3 million to find to make the magic £15 million that has been so bandied about in the UK Press.

Rio, no worries
I said several days ago that Leeds fans should not worry about the Rio situation and I detailed why that was so. I remain convinced of that still, despite the panic that seemed to beset Leeds fans when Rio was quoted in The Sun as saying he had met with Venables and said he would make his mind up over his future in the next 48 hours. Panic ye not! Despite every major newspaper, and successful luminaries such as Harry Redknapp, and the Scots traitor McQueen saying they think he will go to Man Utd you don't have to worry. Rio seems to be confused in thinking he has to make some sort of decision when there is none to be made. What did Venables say to the lad? Wasn't Venables aware of Ridsdale's opinion and that of the Board? If he wasn't then he sure is now. As I predicted at the weekend Ridsdale has come out and categorically said:

  1. we have received no bid for Rio
  2. he is not for sale
  3. we will turn down any bid for Rio
  4. we will turn down any transfer request from Rio
  5. there is no new contract offer on the table for Rio
Frankly, Leeds fans can ask no more from their Chairman and Board at this time. It is a little worrying that Terry Venables seems not to have understood the above message or at least get it across in words of one syllable that even a footballer can understand. That failure has led the current Leeds United Captain to make a fool of himself (and thousands of Man Utd fans in the media and outside) by announcing he has to decide if he wants to stay at Leeds and impliedly join up with Man Utd! Rio has no decision to make and he should have come out of the meeting saying I'm happy at Leeds and proud to be Captain of the club. I want to stay. Instead we had a lot of drivel that means Leeds fans will always doubt his commitment to the club and its fans. He is really acting no different to Lee Bowyer, thinking about number one. So, even if Rio announces he wishes to stay at Elland Road, I for one will believe it is because his agent pointed out the meaning of Ridsdale's words and the fact that he's going nowhere but abroad within the next three years because of a well drafted concrete contract. But that isn't good enough for me as a basis for deciding to stay, and the club must indicate its displeasure as a lesson for all the players.
Consequently, Rio should be immediately stripped of the club Captaincy. It is a privilege he no longer deserves and it should be returned to Lucas Radebe now he is fit again. Lucas has been a loyal servant of the club, and it is important to remember he was the Captain when we did well in the Champions League. Our shocking performance on the pitch last season co-incided with Rio's appointment as Captain. DOL's ineffectiveness as manager off the pitch was matched by Rio's ineffectiveness as Captain on the pitch. Rio is a tremendous player but that does not make he a tremendous Captain. If not Radebe, then Batty or Dacourt should be made Captain.
Rio, you're staying but things won't ever be the same
What do you think about Rio, his actions and his future?

Bye, Bye, Bowyer
Bowyer has shook on a deal at Anfield. If he passes a medical he should be a Liverpool player within days. (Assuming he's given up cannabis there should be no worries there). Thankfully, Bowyer's baleful influence on the club will only be a dim memory soon. Liverpool fans will have to put up with the controversy that dogs his every step, from next season. And the £9m will take some pressure of Ridsdale. Now whenever the Press harp on about some fantasy about a Leeds player wanting to leave they will have send up the changed plaintiff cry of "Leeds have got to raise £15m.. er £6m.. so it must be true!" Wankers.

Dacourt's Fantasy Move
Talking of fantasies, Dacourt's proposed move to Juventus has been shown to be a complete pack of lies. Juventus chiefs have said there never was a move for Dacourt. Which I think I'm correct in saying is what Dacourt's agent has been saying all along! Excellent news for Venables, it looks as though Dacourt will be staying. I cannot see Leeds selling such an asset to a competitor, Arsenal. Bowyer has only gone to our competitor, Liverpool, because he placed the club over a barrel and so we had no choice. Besides, I'm not sure Arsenal have the money. They haven't spent much this summer but they spent £24m last summer and Wenger has spoken out about the finances of the game which he sees as precarious. Wenger said he would not have spent £18m on Rio at that time. When the Leeds Board took the brave decision to sign Rio it was before the EC had made a ruling on players contracts and Wenger and nearly everyone else were sitting on their wallets frightened that overnight their squads would become worthless! Wenger has thus shown that in times of doubt he will not buy big.

Saturday 13th July
The roller coaster ride for Leeds fans continues
Bowyer - Leeds have agreed a fee with Liverpool. Terry had a chat with Lee. Lee's agent phones Leeds to say nothing has changed. Terry then says that "Lee is in two minds over the move" but Lee is to travel to Anfield for talks and a medical and see what happens. The Bowyer situation is not clear-cut yet. I suppose it will depend on the financial deal Liverpool put in front of Bowyer and whether or not he can pay Leeds back the money he owes the club after we mugs paid his legal bills. Unfortunately for Lee and Liverpool, this weekend has seen a sweeping change in attitude towards the financial side of the game after comments from Wenger about the state of the finance of the game in Europe. Moreover, reports coming from Italy today stating that many of Italy's best-paid stars are taking pay cuts to help their clubs. (Cannot see that happening with the current crop of Premiership players, it costs a lot to run Ferrari).
I think Bowyer will jump ship without a thought to the fans and the club who supported him, and his claim to an England spot, throughout his ordeal. He'll turn out in the shirt of a club whose fans vilified him throughout the trial and once a Liverpool player there will be no problem for the FA to promote him to the full England team. And Bowyer, who is clearly without a conscience will pull on the white shirt of England, a team that banned him from playing for them even after he was found not guilty in the trial, but he will not pull on the white shirt of Leeds, the club that enabled him to pay for his defence in two trials and keep him out of gaol, supposedly on the basis of one remark by Peter Ridsdale on 606 Live.
Yes, Lee, we believe you. Lee do us all a favour and go, stop lying and give the fans what they deserve, the truth, which is you are moving for the money, you screwed the club out of a decent transfer fee to spite Peter Ridsdale and you have no thought for the fans or the club that supported you for two years. You're narcissistic behaviour will ensure that "Doing a Bowyer" will become a Yorkshire term for ego-centric selfishness for years to come. Dacourt - another roller-coaster ride but without the stench of corruption that surround the nasty Lee Bowyer affair. Basically, Leeds say Dacourt is available at £15m. However, Olly doesn't want to "do a Bowyer". He wants to stay. And he says so. So does his agent, several times. Lazio bid for him. Olly turns them down, being black and Lazio's fans' racism being legendary it is not surprising! It goes quiet. New Leeds manager appointed with the brief to raise £15m. But Bowyer will raise £9m.So why do we have to sell the influential French midfielder? No one says. Juve apparently want Olly. Lots of unknown Italians are quoted in the media saying talks are nearly complete. Leeds say no bid has been received! Juve announce deal on hold until they can offload bespectacled Edgar Davids. Italian football finances revealed to be in crisis. Leeds fans overjoyed, looks like Olly is staying. Joy is short-lived as Wenger is said to be interested in Olly in case his bid for van Brommel fails! (That's all Leeds fans need, sell Bowyer to Liverpool, Rio to Man U and Olly to Arsenal, who the f**k do Newcastle want, Kewell?) That's the Olly situation briefly. Olly has never said he wants to leave. His agent does not seem to be pressing for a move. Leeds will need his quality in midfield if Bowyer goes. Leeds need to keep players who don't want to leave the club. Very few have "Done an Olly" and said they want to stay! But for some reason Leeds persist in saying he can go and Venables has not come out and said he wants him to stay, and yet the sale cannot be for financial reasons as Bowyer's sale nearly solves that and the balance could be made up by the sale of Gary Kelly to Sunderland or Robbie Keane to Sunderland (Venables has said he has too many strikers). Has Venables told Ridsdale he doesn't want the Frenchman to stay, so that the sale to Juve can go ahead? Does Venables see the sale as a method of raising some spending cash for his own players he wants to sign? What else can it be? The Rio Roadshow continues, at least in the newspapers and in the Press. The media have played a despicable role here. Just as in the new manager saga, where they wrote ill-researched or, frankly, stories that were pure speculation and fiction, presented as fact, they are now saying that they believe Rio will sign for Man Utd. I've heard "experts" on Talk Sport saying that he'll go to Man Utd because they'll make him a better player! (Just what will he learn from Laurent Blanc?) What a pratt. West Ham did a damn good job with Rio or we wouldn't have paid £18m. Since the move, he's been made captain of Leeds and first-choice for England and was probably the best English player at the World Cup. All this done within 18 months! So, no thank you, Mr "If-I-was-good-enough-I'd-be-a-manager-but-I'm-not-so-they-pay-me-to-talk-bollocks-on-the-radio" Expert, we'll keep Rio and he'll develop nicely here at Leeds.
Terry has yet to talk to Rio but I'm not worried as despite the misinformed press hype designed to worry Leeds fans and sell the unwholesome rags that pass for newspapers in this country, Rio is simply not going anywhere. Why? Because the Leeds Board want to keep their lucrative jobs! After losing Bowyer, they know the Leeds fans would never accept Rio's sale. They especially would never accept his sale to The Scummers, and Ridsdale is a Leeds fan and he can remember the sale of Cantona, Jordan and McQueen, all Leeds favourites when they were sold to the Old Trafford, and the bitter fans' reactions afterwards. So it's a non-story, don't buy the papers carrying it, you only encourage them to print garbage like this to get you to spend your cash!
Ridsdale has said there is no increased contract offer on the table for Rio. How confident is that? When lesser mortals would be running around offering to sacrifice nubile young virgins at the altar of their clubs' greatest asset, Ridsdale knows his position is watertight. Rio's pay increases are built-in to the contract, so why offer more. His contract has four years to run, so he can't threaten to "Do a Bowyer" . Rio should be able to relate to fellow Londoner Terry Venables even though there is an age difference. Maybe Terry will sweeten the deal with a VIP pass to his West End club "Scribes West" . Even if Rio said he wanted to move, which is what the Press and Man Utd, seem to be hoping for, Leeds can say "No", because as Ridsdale only revealed this week, Rio's contract has another clause that sets a minimum transfer fee that will be paid for him in the event of an early sale and that valuation doesn't even kick in for another year! Should Leeds think, "Ok we don't want to keep Rio if he doesn't want to play for Leeds", we still have the upper hand because the contract says that Rio basically has to move abroad, because the clause states that he cannot be sold to a Premiership or Nationwide club! The club's Lawyers have done a good job on this one and Mr McNasty and his Manc hoards can wait, and wait, but the Scottish Mr Ego will be retired before Rio leaves Elland Road. So relax people, enjoy the sunny weather in the knowledge that Man Utd fans are getting all excited over nothing and will start their vain attempt to win the Premiership with a defence of Barthez, Neville, Blanc, Neville, Silvestre.. I know I shouldn't laugh but you've got to haven't you?
Oh, Mr Ferguson, I'd just like to ask you one more question, could you clarify for my readers what where the exact "footballing reasons" that forced you to sell Japp Stam, and do you regret it now?". Tut, Tut! Such profanity, Mr Ferguscum!

Thursday 11th July
Terry speaks!
Yesterday we were able to get some idea of where we'll be going under the command of "Ell Tel". At the afternoon Press conference Terry was at times much more circumspect than David O'Leary, showing more experience in his fielding of the journalists' questions. When asked what he thought success would be for Leeds United next season, I could already hear DOL saying "The Board want Champions' League qualification." Though I'm sure, TV has been set that target by Mr Ridsdale he sidestepped the question and did not give the hacks the headline they were after. At the of his first season there will be no stories saying Terry has failed by the standards he set himself if we do not qualify.
Apart from verbal swordplay with hacks looking for a headline what else, of substance came from the news conference?
Terry confirmed he would buy a house in Leeds. Many fans feared Terry was no long-term manager and daily commuting from London would prove the point. Terry has spent most of his playing and managing career at London clubs; indeed his love of the Capital is legendary. So this commitment by Terry is more significant than at first it may seem. Many Leeds fans were concerned about the future of the O'Leary backroom staff, in particular, perennial fans favourite Eddie Gray. Another concern was the reported arrival at Elland Road of ex-Man Utd Captain and failed Middlesborough manager Bryan Robson on a £600,000 deal. Asked directly about Robson, Terry ignored the Robson reference and confirmed the happy news that he had no plans to change the backroom staff, now. Part of O'Leary's legacy is safe. Although Kidd was unpopular with many Leeds fans because they felt he had too much input after he replaced Eddie Gray as assistant to DOL, an influence that most believe led to poor form and a loss of the dramatic attacking style of the early O'Leary years, I think the players would not want him to leave. He is recognised as a good Coach as is Venables. However, Venables is his own man when it comes to tactics and Kidd will be forced concentrate more on the day-to-day training a role at which he is supremely good.
Obviously, given recent events and statements, Terry Venables was asked about the current playing staff and any future movements in and out. Terry was very clear without giving away exact details. In summary, he said that he was aware before he took the job that £15m would have to be raised by the sale of players. He said that although he hadn't spoken to Rio he was confident he would stay. He also said that Woody was staying too. As for Bowyer, Venables said he had an important future at Leeds but that it was up to Lee if he wanted to stay. Terry did hint strongly that one of the areas he thought Leeds had an abundance of talent was the strikers. So look there for one of the players who are to be sold was the implication taken on board by many present.
But at this point I'd like to look at this question of selling players and repaying bank loans etc., which has dogged Leeds since April when Mr Ridsdale said that four players would have to go in the summer because 26 players was too big a squad, that Dacourt could go for £15m and that eventually he said the club must pay off £15m of its overdraft. All these statements led the Press to make innuendo and conjecture over which players would be sold and when. But I believe many of the assumptions the Press worked upon were incorrect. Subsequent to all this speculation, Bowyer announced he wanted to leave and that altered the ground rules of this summer sale that PR had hinted at. Then O'Leary was sacked and again that changed the likely movement of players, Venables' choice of players is not necessarily the same as DOL's and so it was all change once again. Indeed all this was thrown into confusion again yesterday at the Press conference when PR announced that by the start of the season Terry would have money available to strengthen the squad! Terry looked bemused then laughed and said "I didn't know that!". Was I the only one who found that little episode worrying?
Nonetheless, if Terry is to have money to spend then why does he need to sell? Bowyer is going for at worst £7m, possibly £9m, whatever we want him to do. That leaves £6 to raise. Looking at monetary value only, Terry has no need to sell Dacourt or Ferdinand. He need only sell peripheral or older players like Nigel Martyn, or Duberry. Also, given that Terry will want to strengthen the squad with his own players, several existing players may naturally become available for transfer. For example, if he decides to buy a new left back Ian Harte may become available for transfer. TV may use his knowledge to secure an overseas signing for less than he raises by the sale of Harte. It is clear that TV could meet the Board's £15m by selling only 2-3 players (if one is Bowyer).
However, I have a question, if only two players are sold the raise the £15m must Terry sell two more players to reduce the squad to 22? Are they independent targets or alternative targets? That has never been made clear by Leeds United and the question has never been asked by hacks who seem blinded by the need for headlines but no real investigative reporting. It is crucial to what happens to the present Leeds squad, because if they are independent targets then TV must keep selling additional players until he gets to 22. Never mind how much money he raises with those sales, if he wants more players than he will have to sell again to make room in the squad to bring in a new player; the total never exceeding 22 players. Now you see the importance of the answer to this question. Interestingly, yesterday TV said, "We may have to let one or two players go¬É" That statement indicates, in the absence of a direct answer, that the targets set by Ridsdale are not independent. So if Tel can raise the £15m by selling two players then the squad size doesn't matter. That is good because he can also bring in more players without an upper limit on overall squad size, presumably as long as he remains within budget. 
Having dealt with the tricky question of Rio, Bowyer and players sales Terry was keen to give the fans hope by saying that Leeds have the quality and drive to "right to the top." Without actually promising that he would take them there :-)

Monday 8th July 2002
Venables is unveiled as new manager
Terry Venables has been named as the new manager, with the former England boss signing a two-year contract. The club made the announcement to the Stock Exchange this morning as their 11-day hunt for David O'Leary's successor came to an end. A formal press conference will be held at Elland Road on Wednesday. Leeds' statement to the Stock Exchange thanked ITV for releasing Venables from his television contract and stated that there was the option for both parties to extend the deal. The statement read:

"Leeds United plc announces the appointment of Terry Venables to the position of manager with immediate effect. He has today signed an initial two-year contract. Terry Venables has almost unrivalled football management experience, including spells at Tottenham Hotspur, Barcelona, England and Australia. In making this announcement Leeds United would like to place on record their thanks to ITV for releasing Terry from his existing Premiership and Champions League contract."
It's hard to believe that ITV sat on the story, but they did and full marks to them, it must have been killing 'em! For Terry's CV click here!

Monday 8th July 2002
Venables finds favour with Viduka
Mark Viduka enthusiastically greeted the announcement of Venables' appointment today. As Viduka (and Harry Kewell) player under Terry for Australia there may well have been a certain amount of self-interest in his reaction. (Robbie Keane probably wants a re-think about a move to Sunderland!) Nevertheless, after so much squad dissenion this year it is a pleasure to report positive reaction to a Leeds manager for a change. Let's hope the rest of the squad feel the same, no doubt more reactions will be forthcoming soon as the non-World Cup players reported back for training today. They'll all meet Terry for the first time at training on Wednesday. Here's what Vidooks told the BBC,

"There's no better man to take over from O'Leary than Venables.
"He's a proven coach and one of the best England has. I don't think there's a better coach than him.
"Everybody who came away from that Australian team said he was an unbelievable coach, so hopefully he will be the same here."
All at LeedsUtd365.co.uk agree with that sentiment. And what about the recently departed? Vidooks again,
"...I'm surprised that O'Leary left. I didn't expect it and it was a big surprise to me."
Hmmm, no tearing out of hair or wringing of hands from Mark then, even though O'Leary played him every game come hell or high water. There's no gratitude in football clearly.

Monday 8th July 2002
So Who's This "El Tel" Bloke Anyway?
For those of you just emerging from under a toadstool, here's a potted history of the sporting life of young Mr Venables courtesy of the official Leeds site (with some amendments.)
So is Terry Venables the Coach that our players need? Or should we have stuck with the younger David O'Leary? Is El Tel a short term stop gap? Have Celtic fans got the best deal? Have your say..

Sunday 7th July 2002
Risdale Denies McLaren Approach
This morning many newspapers and websites have carried detailed reports of speculation that Steve McLaren has been apporached and that he is unhappy with the Middlesborough Board.
Mr Ridsdale has come out and categorically denied these reports. Saying it was unfair to Middlesborough and Leeds. Interestingly, PR made no such denial during days of speculation about Martin O'Neill coming to Leeds. Did something go wrong late on Thursday? Risdale - New Manager By Next Thurday!
Peter Ridsdale said, at the same time as denying reports about McLaren, that he was confident that the new manager will be installed by next Thursday. Such confidence from the Board, and for the first time, something must have happened? No doubt more news will follow today after Mr Ridsdale addresses a meeting of Leeds Utd Supporters Clubs today. It may be that Peter Ridsdale has been playing to the crowd and has held off naming the new manager until later today during his speech?
If Mr Ridsdale is confident but there has been no leak from a club that their manager is talking to Leeds, one has to presume that the new manager is currently without a club. That excludes remaining possibilities like Curbishley, Souness or McLaren. (McLaren must be a possibility as Mr Ridsdale said no approach had been made for McLaren, not that an approach would not be made, a subtle but important difference). It increases the chances of Venables, Hiddink and even Eddie Gray!
Of course, the Board may appoint a temporary manager to wait for O'Neill to become free in a year's time. Despite Celtic celbrations, MON has not yet committed himself to the club for any longer than the end of next season. Celtic and Rangers have the small matter of the Scottish Premier League collapsing aroung their ears in two years time. Also great play was made of Champions League football at Parkhead next season. But Celtic have to qualify, such is the weakness of the SPL in EUFA's eyes. What if they fail? MON may yet rue the day he declined this chance.
Friday 5th July 2002
Leeds Board Blow It - O'Neill Remains A Celt
onefootball.com has just posted the following story:

Celtic boss Martin O'Neill has dismissed reports linking him with the vacant Leeds United post and insisted he hopes to remain in Glasgow.
"There has been no approach from Leeds and I want to see through the remaining year of my contract," he said.
Celtic are currently in Ireland preparing for the new season and O'Neill broke his recent silence about the Leeds situation in an after-dinner speech in Dublin on Friday afternoon.
"I was shocked when I heard that David O'Leary had been sacked but these things happen in football," he stated.
"There are only a few managers in football who are unsackable, like Brian Clough, Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson - and I am not one of them.
"I know that I can be sacked at any time, but if Celtic do not sack me I intend to see out my contract."

Says it all really.. Damn, damn, damn.
Let me know how you feel now about MON

Friday 5th July 2002
Hmmm,no announcement from Leeds which means that is the second self-imposed deadline that Leeds have missed this week. This is not looking good. Surely when the Board met to discuss sacking O'Leary they also moved on at the same meeting to discuss his successor, resources needed to acquire him, tactics to be used etc. We are a plc after all. But this delay in announcing the proposed successor is making the Leeds Board look uncertain and dilatory. Who ever they approach after this length of time has got to wonder, "Do they really want me or was someone else ahead of me who turned it down on the quiet?". What has gone wrong? One thing is for certain, the delay has not help the pursuit of Martin O'Neill if that is the name we are after. Early in the week while the world waited for us to announce our courtship of MON, the Celtic Board and in particular it's senior member sounded so self-assured and arrogant about MON staying and nothing needing to be said to him at the time to persuade him to stay, that it seemed obvious that it was an accident about to happen. MON's public silence was all the encouragement we needed. Since then we have done nothing but expose the club to uncertainty and rumour and try to sell one of our World Cup stars! Meanwhile the Celtic Board, have had their complacency replaced by Mr McLeod responding to pleas from the players and threats from the fans if their Board let O'Neill slip away. The Celtic Board have announced that they have still had no approach from Leeds and that they will fight to keep MON!

"Celtic Football Club have received no approach from Leeds United or any other club about Martin O'Neill. Should any be made, the board would do all it can to persuade Martin to stay."
Scottish newspapers are this morning reporting Celtic senior management were locked into six-hour talks with MON about signing a four-extension to his current contract. The "Daily Record" said that Celtic almost persuaded him to put pen to paper last night! Why do the Leeds Board appear to have seriously misjudged the MON situation (if indeed he is the target?). Having failed land MON when he was at Leicester it seems Mr Ridsdale doesn't want another public knock-back. But I would suggest the continuing speculation about the new manager and the uncertainty over the future of Rio greatly outweighs any embarrassment caused by a second O'Neill snub. If that's what they fear, what embarrassment? I would be pleased we had the ambition to employ such a good manager but would have understood if lifelong Celtic fan MON decided to stay at the club. I would then have said, "Who's next" and not lost a moment's sleep over the refusal. But now Leeds have put us all through an unecessary week of torment and uncertainty, and it feels just like it did in Oct 1998 when we last publically courted MON and yet we haven't even asked the question!!! The Leeds Board must show some confidence and decisiveness, TODAY and ask the damn question, or announce the name of another candidate. If the Board fail to do either then the sacking of David O'Leary without a successor in mind must call into question the ability of the existing Board members to succesfully manage the business of Leeds United plc. All who voted to sack David O'Leary should immediately reconsider their position and resign! . As a shareholder with shares now worth less than 30% of what I paid, I think I'm entitled to ask this of the Board.
What do YOU think about the Board's actions this week?

Thursday 4th July 2002
Terry Venables - despite Mr Ridsdale's public admiration of him, newspaper reports of Tel being interviewed by PR have been totally refuted by the club through their official website. In other words it was a total pack of lies. Perhaps readers of the newspaper that splashed that story should ask fo their money back?
Yesterday, representatives of Guus Hiddink were said to have asked Leeds to consider the Durchman for the job. Today, some media are saying Guus has 'snubbed' Leeds! Both stories cannot be correct, it wouldn't make sense! The experienced Dutchman who is very much flavour of the month has proved his ability in Europe and on a World stage several times. He's got to be attractive to the Board and I would be surprised if he was not on the short-list at some stage of the proceedings. Has he made the final list or snubbed Leeds, hard to tell at the moment.
Giovanni Trapattoni - manager of Italy was said to be interested in the post. Trapattoni's League record is magnificent having won the Italian Championship seven times (two clubs) and the Bundesliga (Bayern Munich), but it doubtful he would give up the Italian national team for Leeds. At 63 he is likely to be seen as little more than a stop-gap anyway and the Board would be unwilling to commit transfer funds for a manager guaranteed to be with the club for just 2-3 years max. I think Leeds are still looking to create a dynasty, as they intended under O'Leary, and so a manager aged around 46-52 is the ideal age. Combines experience with relative youth.
Martin O'Neill - the enigmatic Irishman remains both the fans' and the bookies' favourite. Though his odds have lengthened and bookies are taking bets on him again, so he seems less certain than 48 hours ago. Leeds United players are reported to have made a representation to the Board saying they want to work under Martin O'Neill. But given that most are on holiday at the moment I'd take that with a pinch of salt. It is reported that the Board will offer O'Neill £10 over 5 years. That is the same deal that O'Leary had so it is easy to believe that MON would command the same or even a higher rate. Scottish media sources are saying that there is an air of confidence around Celtic for the first time in a week. Has MON said something privately about his future to their Board? Certainly his public silence has got the players worried as they are lining up to tell him not to leave. Petrov called Leeds "inferior", Guppy at least was courteous enough to say Leeds are a "big club", and MON's favourite, Lennon pleaded with MON to "finish what you started". But MON has reportedly made a move for Alex Manninger; if MON is moving in the transfer market that does not bode well. The Leeds Board have had a mountain of time, they must decide now before MON is too commited to another season at Celtic. The Leeds Board must realise that the Scottish season starts earlier than ours and Celtic have friendlies lined up for next week. MON will not drop is beloved Celtic in the mire if we leave it too long. To make Martin O'Neill the second ex-Celts manager to manage Leeds we must act now and decisively!
UPDATE Martin O'Neill will be appointed as the new Leeds United manager "within a week" according to the club's ClubCall phoneline. Although there has been no official line from the club despite another Board meeting today, ClubCall state that an announcement is imminent.
They state that the Celtic manager will be unveiled as David O'Leary's replacement shortly and add that "he may even be installed on Monday." However, I'm not aware of the official nature (or otherwise) of the ClubCall.

Wed 3rd July 2002
Confusion reigns over new manager - 3 new names!
Peter Ridsdale and Martin O'Neill have broken their silence but instead of clearing up matters they have clouded the waters even further.
Firstly, Ridsdale caused more groans as he said that there would be no announcement on Wednesday about the new manager. As he said on Monday he initmated an announcement would occur within the next 48 hours and certainly before the weekend. He said that he was "amused" about the MON speculation as he said no approach had been made. Then he surprised everyone by saying that since Sunday they had received three more applications, some from candidates of a calibre that they had not thought they would be "remotely interested" in the post . These candidates are so good that Peter expressed himself as "astonished" by who they were . The Board now want time to consider these new applications to make sure that their decision on Sunday was the correct one! Who the hell are these three that the Board did not think Leeds good enough to approach them? Ferguson, Houlier and Wenger??
Obviously not, so one must presume that some of the three new candidates are foreign and high profile ones at that. The bookies and UK press have considered nearly every Brit for the job and quoted odds on them. For Ridsdale to be "astonished" they must be ones not mentioned by the bookies so far but in other respects household names in the UK, or at least their previous or present clubs must be well known. It is a very intriguing development and perhaps our exploits in Europe over the last few years have made the club more high profile in Europe than we have previously thought. (There are also several foreign managers now free after resigning after the World Cup, e.g. the manager of Spain.)
Here's the words of Mr Ridsdale,

"The members of the board agreed on Sunday to take a couple of days to reflect on our discussions and make sure we'd made the right choice before proceeding. Since then I have been very pleasantly surprised to have received at least three calls from candidates we had not even considered. The quality of some of these candidates is such that we did not think they would be remotely interested in the vacancy. I have been talking to board members again tonight and we will continue to make sure we get the best possible candidate for the football club. All I can say is that we have not made any final decision yet and have not approached any club."
Meanwhile, Martin O'Neill has hit out at all the speculation, confirming what Ridsdale has said that their has been no contact between the clubs. Thus giving the lie to all the newspaper talk of secret meetings and quiet soundings out of O'Neill to prevent Leeds looking foolish if MON turned them down again. He told www.celticfc.net,
"I have just come back from Japan amidst much speculation about my future. I have had a chat with our chief executive, Ian McLeod, about a number of things, as you would expect, and I understand from him that there has been no approach from Leeds, or any other club for that matter, so the speculation continues to be simply that. We have just completed the first day of training and I am back to work with the staff and players. We are all looking forward to the start of the season and our Champions League qualification tie."
This quote from Mr O'Neill is interesting in that it provides an accurate narrative of the facts thus far but tells us absolutely nothing about his frame of mind or his intention should an approach be made by Leeds. The quotation is hardly a ringing denial of interest in the Leeds job. I think he has again failed an opportunity to deny any interest in taking up the positon. His action today was possibly suspicious. He made a "rare" appearance at the Barrowfields training ground today. Was it a show for the press, was he afraid if he did not turn up all the press would presume he lacked interest in Celtic's future? It looks like the pressure may be starting to build on Martin O'Neill, but this time it looks like Leeds who are dithering over offering him the job rather than him accepting it.
So who do YOU think these mysterious three volunteer candidates are??

Tuesday 2nd July 2002
Robbie Keane sold to Sunderland?
Sad news today, it's just been announced that Leeds and Sunderland have agreed a fee for Keane. Keane will travel to Sunderland to discuss personal terms. I'm surprised at the timing of the sale. Keane was a star of the World Cup, scoring three goals including one against the almost unbeatable Oliver Kahn. It not an obvious way to attract a new manager by selling him just now. Surely, the new manager would like to decide which striker he sold (given that under no circumstances would he be allowed to sell Smithy)? More details later..
On the manager front there is no good news either. Peter Ridsdale has said there would be no announcement today about the new manager. Plus Martin O'Neill has spent the day at Celtic beginning their pre-season training. That's not the behaviour I want to see from a guy who is seriously contemplating leaving The Hoops for Elland Road. Hmmm, could I have misread the signs yesterday? Is PR fooling everyone and going for someone other than Martin O'Neill? Ermm, I'm starting to get nervous about all this. Guus Hiddink, another Leeds target has come out and said he intends to go back to Holland and PSV. Damn, I just heard the sound of another door closing!

KEANE UPDATE
Good news! Robbie Keane has said he doesn't want to talk to Sunderland! Good lad Robbie! In fact, the best news is he said that he doesn't want to talk to "ANY" other club about a transfer! How great is it to see such loyalty from a player for a change. He'll have made many friends at Elland Road today! Maybe Keane senses that Mick McCarthy may be the new Leeds manager and thinks that if that is the case he'll become the first choice striker? Plus the prospect of a relegation battle with Sunderland was not an enticing prospect.
But my earlier points about the wisdom of the Board's decison to sell remain to be answered.What do YOU think about the Board's action and Robbie's reaction?

Monday 1st July 2002
I said yesterday that Venables may play a holding role at Elland Road whilst O'Neill sees out the final year of his Celtic contract. The Mirror agrees,

"United are so keen to acquire the services of O'Neill that they would be prepared to ask Venables to fill the void left by O'Leary for 12 months, while the Celtic manager serves out the final year of his contract."
This could well be the reason why Venables was included as the surprise candidate in the shortlist. Lets hope he takes it in those circumstances otherwise we could end up with Ron Atkinson (a la Notts Forest!)
Many in the media are making great play of the failure of Martin O'Neill to take the opportunity given him on national TV to debunk the rumour that he is going to Elland Road. (The details are given below.) His failure would frighten me if I were a Celtic Director, and if I were a Celtic fan I would be in a panic now as their world seems to be about to crumble about their ears.
Indeed, The Mirror claims that there have been two secret meetings with O'Neill to sound him out about the move. Frankly, I cannot believe that. Both Peter Ridsdale and Martin O'Neill are men of the highest integrity and have reputations within football for being irreproachable in terms of business ethics. I think there may be some journalistic licence being used to pep up the story. After all, the media have kept the story going for five days on nothing but innuendo. And they must be flagging by now! They, like all Leeds fans, must be hoping for an official announcement from this morning. Though at 7am this morning the Sports Editor of the Yorkshire Evening Post said that one had not yet been called. Hopefully Peter has taken the advice offered on this site, by many fans, that the club should conduct it's business in private and not on the pages of newspapers. So I certainly won't be criticising him for negotiating the capture of O'Neill in private. Though I suspect that if it is MON we are after the Celtic Board will make the approach public in an attempt to get the Celtic fans to make a very public, and very noisy plea to O'Neill to stay. I wouldn't blame them for trying any tactic including emotional wringing of hands in public to try to keep a manager of MON's character and ability. They don't come along very often.
So will we hear anything today? Possibly not. MON is not due back from Japan until Tuesday. Even if Leeds ask Celtic for permission to speak to him, Celtic are unlikely to answer until they have spoken to their manager. At least common sense says that that is what would happen. Then again, common sense often plays no part in football these days :)
You know, it's only been five days since O'Leary went but it feels like we've been chasing O'Neill for years and the board hasn't even named him as the candidate yet! This is going to be hard on the nerves...

UPDATE
Celtic chairman Brian Quinn claims no contact has been made between Leeds and Celtic and insists any approach for O'Neill will not be welcome. Quinn spoke to the Scottish Sun:

"There has been a lot of speculation. I have not spoken to Martin. There has been no approach to us - and we certainly wouldn't welcome one. There's no need to do anything about Martin's position because nothing has happened."
Asked whether steps had been taken to improve O'Neill's contract at Celtic, Quinn said:
"If the need arises we will. But there's nothing to do just now. Of course I am concerned. But Martin has always honoured his contracts in the past. He is an honourable man - so I think there's nothing to speak about."
I find the above quotes breathtaking. Celtic fans start panicing NOW! The bold text is my emphasis on the words from Mr Quinn that I think will come back and haunt him.
He hasn't spoken to MON despite the speculation to see how he feels about it? He seems to be relying on the fact that MON has always honoured his contracts - erm, no he hasn't. Technically he walked out on Norwich City after 6 months following a row over transfer funds. Mr Quinn is relying on the honourable manner he obeyed the Leicester Board the last time round, but MON and his family may not see it the same way. He may not wish to miss out on the chance twice, thinking his chance had gone permanently after the way O'Leary took his chance. His family are reported not to have settled in Scotland. MON is not happy with the level of transfer funds available at Celtic. So I reckon that there is a need by Mr Quinn to do something about MON's position whether Leeds are in for him or not. And there is a need to speak to him, as MON only has one year left of his contract; why on Earth haven't Celtic signed him up for another three years? Or is the truth that MON has indicated he doesn't want to sign another contract yet? Having been caught out by the Leicester contract maybe MON doesn't like long term contracts anymore? The statements attributed to Mr Quinn make him seem totally arrogant and over-confident re Martin's future at Celtic. Pride usually comes before a fall.
10.25am UPDATE
BOARD MAKE THEIR CHOICE LEEDS United have confirmed that a preferred managerial candidate has been selected by the Plc board of directors and an approach will be made over the next few days. The board of directors met on Sunday to discuss the candidates and a unanimous decision was made. A Leeds spokesman said:
"The plc board spoke on Sunday and the chairman will make his moves over the next 48 hours, we will not be rushed on this."
So it was "unanimous" and the move will be made over the "next 48 hours", not today. See my comments above, made earlier today saying that if it were O'Neill the Board may not act today because he is in Japan.
It's Martin O'Neill, no doubts

Monday 1st July 2002
With the manager gone things are beginning to shake loose further down the coaching pyramid. Stories are emerging today that Leeds will be approaching Paul Hart to return to Leeds to head-up our impressive Thorpe Arch training Academy. Apparently Hart has become frustrated at the lack of funds at Forest where he is their manager. This move would be seen as ideal by many fans who remember that players like Kewell come from the Academy under Hart's tuteledge. For all the investment in the Thorpe Arch Academy we have had precious little return over the last few years and seen former manager, DOL having to spend big money to get players of the calibre needed by Leeds. Let's keep our fingers crossed!

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