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24 Cheltenham 40 -37 31

Leeds United News Archive May 2004


Alan Smith et al, take note, WE are Leeds...

22nd May, 2004

I

t's a hard time to be a Leeds Utd fan. Perhaps the hardest we have known. Made doubly so by the much-heralded flit across the Pennines by one son of Leeds, Alan Smith. It's easy to rant and give vent to one's feelings especially when the cause of the anger seems so oblivious or impervious to the anguish he is causing.

Alan Smith

My trophy cabinet will
be this big!

We don't care Alan!

But it is much harder to express such anger without losing the sympathy or understanding of the neutral reader. However, I feel that Daily Mirror columnist Oliver Holt expresses the feelings of many Leeds fans in such a succinct way that I would like you to read his words. It expresses how I feel today. Here's Oliver's piece:

'I find it hard to criticise Alan Smith because he is someone I have always admired both as a player and a man. He is a forward who plays with a rare mix of guts and panache.

'I've watched him sign autographs for an hour and more outside Elland Road after a match. I've watched him smile without reluctance or artifice for a thousand cameras and scribble on a thousand notepads. I've seen him play his heart out for his dying club and wear his heart and his fury on his sleeve.

'I have seen him clutch that white shirt in his fingers and kiss the badge embroidered there. I won't be calling him a Judas or a traitor because he wants to leave now the grim reality of Leeds' headlong fall into misery is gripping the club and the city.

'Part of my brain tells me it is his right to escape the tribal hatreds that disfigure so much of football. It is his right to move on to another job like all of us do from time to time. But my conscience reminds me that when Jermain Defoe did the same thing to West Ham United 12 months ago, I was disgusted by his disloyalty and crass insensitivity.

'I would still have both of them in my England squad. Smith ahead of Emile Heskey and Defoe ahead of Darius Vassell. They both have the kind of hungry spirit that would have been invaluable in Portugal. But as Smith chases his move to Manchester United, I can't help but feel some sadness. Because I won't think of him in quite the same way again if he goes there.

'It's nothing against Sir Alex Ferguson's club, who apparently had two bids for Smith rejected yesterday. Good luck to them in their pursuit of someone who will strengthen their squad. But I still hope Smith has second thoughts. I hope he realises there's a world of difference between chasing a move to United and going anywhere else.

'You see, I thought Smith was different. Naive, I know. But I fell for all the badge-kissing and the romantic idea he felt the same passion for the club as the supporters who followed Leeds through all their troubles. I bought into the lie that he wouldn't screw the fans like other players had.

'I thought he valued their faith in him too much to toss it all aside for the one career move that would cut them to the quick. Because you see if Smith goes to Old Trafford, it will be different to Rio Ferdinand, Eric Cantona, Gordon McQueen or Joe Jordan doing it.

'If Smith goes there, it would be like Gary Neville signing for Liverpool or Steven Gerrard heading for Manchester United. It would be a betrayal of what is supposed to be at somebody's core. Sol Campbell leaving Tottenham for Arsenal is the closest parallel I can think of, but he never turned his loyalty to Spurs into his defining characteristic.

'I looked at Campbell on Saturday afternoon as he celebrated being part of a team that had won the championship and completed the league season unbeaten and understood that dreaming of days like this was what made him move across north London.

'I can see why people think there's nothing wrong with that. A player's career is short. He needs to maximise his earnings. I can see why people think Campbell owed Spurs fans nothing, why Luis Figo should feel unabashed at the thought of leaving Barcelona for Real Madrid. And I can see why Smith and his agent, Alex Black, who was once unceremoniously dumped by Defoe, should feel the move from Yorkshire to Lancashire will be the key that unlocks the door to a career laden with honours.

'Well, I'm sorry, but I still think there are some things that are more important than that. I still think the lasting adoration of a city and a club is worth more than a few medals. I think the affection of the fans is something that stays with you for the rest of your life, something to treasure more than a piece of metal hidden away in a cupboard.

'I don't condone the animalistic over-reaction of fans to players like Campbell. But nor do I think it is unreasonable for them to expect, or at least hope for, a tiny slice of respect in return. By courting a move to Old Trafford, Smith has destroyed the illusions of supporters who clung to him like a piece of wood that saved them from drowning.

'I thought he might care about that. Sadly, it appears I was wrong. There's still time for him to change his mind, but the damage has already been done.'

Sadly the damage HAS already been done. Another fans' icon with feet of clay.

It is time to put Alan Smith behind us as yet another unhappy episode in a real-life soap so unbelievable that a Dream Team script-writer wouldn't be allowed to get away with it. But the only stars of last season were the Leeds Utd fans and they won't desert the club come what may. They won't prostitute themselves for a quick buck, easy honours elesewhere or because they fall out with the manager. They won't line their pockets from the clubs funds, awarding themselves consultancy fees, golden parachutes, pension fund top-ups and termination pay. They won't bankrupt the club because they are the club and this site is dedicated to THEM, to YOU and the bleak future that we will face together.

It is time for us to get behing the CLUB, not individual players. It is time to end the hero worship of hired guns. Players call themselves professionals, but a more unprofessional bunch I've never met. They are highly paid mercenaries and nothing more. Leeds fans got used to the fidelity of the players of the Revie era and ever since have supported those in the white shirt with equal fidelity. However, it has been, very much, one-way traffic. Leaving aside the treachery of the recent O'Leary "babes" currently plying there trade elsewhere in the Premiership, we have examples galore from Leeds' history, from Cantona to Jordan via McQueen and McAllister. All crowd favourites, all leaving for more money or potential honours elsewhere and barely stopping to thumb their noses at the fans that adored them. It's easy to trot out trite excuses about short playing careers and the need to maximise incomes. Try explaining that to a seven-year with an expensive replica shirt on their back now bearing the name of a Man United or Coventry player. Their tears are as real as the promses of the players are false.

So no more, eh? Haven't we learned a painful lesson? Support the club, not the individual players. It's a team game after all. When the new manager brings in a boatload of freebies, cast-offs and failures then we get behind them as a team, not as individual players? And when they "do good" we look forward to how much we're going to get for them from some Premiership team and don't start crying about how they've turned the back on the fans! Ignore their tears, the badge kissing - it's part of the armory of the modern mercenary footballer. Next week they'll be kissing another badge and shedding more tears for another set of besotted fans as they look for the next move, the next bankroll. So, let's make that change now? WE are Leeds! WE are Leeds! WE are Leeds! It's never been truer than today.

Keep the faith, the future's White!

Chris


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"My Heart Is Sad And Sick"

27th May, 2004
O

n the day we welcome Kevin Blackwell into the job, as our fifth manager in under two years, we say a fond farewell to Alan Smith and wish him well in his future at Manchester United.
 

Alan Smith

"...it's easy to for people to walk away when you've been relegated, but it takes a better type of person to stay and say we're all going to stick together and make sure the club gets back where it belongs." Alan Smith 2003

Ah, b*llocks who are we kiddin'? Alan Smith: you popularised yourself with Leeds fans by claiming to be one. But no amount of badge-kissing can hide the truth: you've let down everyone who calls themselves a Leeds fan. No true Leeds supporter could ever pull on a Scum shirt - " better dead than red!"

Doubtless, you will have many years to ponder over what you threw away yesterday, when you signed for Ferguson. When your career is over and you get out your box of England caps and medals to show people, they will be just that, faded ribbons and bits of gilded metal, tarnished with age. But memories and emotions, Ah! they last a lifetime, as bright and sharp in old age as the day that they were created. You had a chance to enter the popular consciousness of the people of Leeds in a way perhaps only Billy Bremner and Don Revie have. Can't you see how their memories are still revered by the people to whom you professed to belong? Yesterday, you destroyed the adoration of tens of thousands of Leeds fans and with it treasured memories and emotions from our long journey together. But you won't be forgotten, but for all the wrong reasons. The bond is broken and can never be reforged, the love will never grow back, no matter how many years pass. Enjoy your career at Old Trafford because it's all you'll have. You're never coming back, your home city is lost to you, you did the unthinkable.

Alan Smith

"I'm not a Division 1 player." Alan Smith 2004

 

Alan, when you hold in your hands the trophies of a career at Old Trafford, remember the price you paid. Whatever you do at Old Trafford, you can never be what you already were at Leeds, and that would have lasted a lifetime and even beyond.

So, instead of raising a glass to the health of a wild-eyed, platinum-blond youngster who terrorised defences in the Premiership and across Europe, showing no respect for reputation or referees and fighting for every ball with the desire that every fan on the terraces held in his heart, we spit on the memory of a liar, a deceiver and a hypocrite who wilfully committed the only sacrilege that a Leeds Utd supporter can, and all in the feculent pursuit of trinkets, baubels and, of course, the Devil's red shirt.

As we lay to rest the memory of Alan Smith, one son of Leeds, we say unto him these final words; to misquote Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce (1877):

"Hear me, Alan, I am tired.
My heart is sad and sick.
From where the sun now stands
You will play for Leeds no more, forever"


It's sad day but also the dawn of a new era under Kevin Blackwell and he needs our support. Keep the faith, the future's White!

Chris Hudson
27th May, 2004



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Transfers, Lies, Play-offs and Ridsdale

30th May, 2004

Kevin Blackwell made it clear what he has to work with this season: nothing! Writing in the Sunday People he said:
"I've got no money at all, only what I raise. I'll be signing players on wages only - Bosmans. There will be zero fees."
This is definitely NOT what the new Board promised Leeds fans after we were relegated. I'm all for giving the new Board a chance but Kevin's statement is diametrically opposed to what we were led to believe. Has Kevin misunderstood or have we been lied to again by another Board?
Despite all this he still relishes the challenge.
"I've worked a long time to get to this level. I feel fate has dealt me this hand."
Well, fate has certainly dealt all Leeds Utd fans this hand!


It appears that Michael Duberry is the next Leeds underachiever to clear out his locker at Elland Road. Wolves have agreed a paltry £800,000 fee with Leeds United for his services. However, the fury of Leeds fans will again be stirred by the news Duberry will not take a pay-cut to move from Elland Road so that means that we will still have to pay £6,000-a-week towards his wages at our Division One rivals! Frankly most Leeds fans will be pleased to see the back of Duberry who was another expensive failure but as to paying his wages a la Fowler, Leeds fans will certainly be against that.


On a much more positive note Kevin Blackwell is said to be keen in luring the veteran Villa striker, Dion Dublin to Elland Road. There is more than a touch of irony to this story. Dion Dublin is of course a former Man Utd player; he is being released by Villa's ex-Leeds manager David O'Leary and we have competition for Dion's signature from his former club Coventry City managed by? Ex-Leeds manager Peter Reid, of course! Reid is favourite for the signature as Dion is at the end of his career and a move across the Midlands is domestically far more appealing to the Midlands based player.


Ludicrous story of the day: Stephen McPhail, Leeds United's left-sided midfielder is Oakwell bound according the News of the World (so that's reliable then!) Current manager, ex-Leeds player and youth coach Paul Hart is an admirer of McPhail and took him on loan to Forest last season when he was manager there. No doubt all readers are aware that Barnsley is now run by arch-financial nicompoop Peter "I lived the dream with your money" Ridsdale. We should tell Ridsdale to shove his Merc up his arse. This club does NO deals with Barnsley under any circumstances The FA should be chucking Ridsdale out of football not allowing him to try to take financial advantage of a club he ruined.


Finally, the play-offs have finalised Division One's constituent clubs. We know who we will be playing next season. Congratulations to Leeds target Iain Dowie and Crystal Palace who have escaped this Division and to Brighton & Hove Albion who despatched Bristol City to join us in the Division. Here's the full list:
Brighton & Hove Albion, Burnley, Cardiff City, Coventry City, Crewe Alexandra, Derby County, Gillingham, Ipswich Town, Leeds United, Leicester City, Millwall, Nottingham Forest, Plymouth Argyle, Preston North End, Queens Park Rangers, Sheffield United, Stoke City, Sunderland, Reading, Rotherham United, Watford, West Ham United, Wigan Athletic, and Wolverhampton Wanderers


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Transfers Latest

1st June 2004

The chances of Dion Dublin joining Leeds receded today as Peter Reid made confident noises about signing the striker following a meeting. Dublin is available on a free from Villa and so is of interest to poverty-stricken Leeds.


Kevin Blackwell is rumoured to be ready to join West Brom in the race to sign Man City's Danny Tiatto on a free transfer. And Blackwell also hopes to sign central defender Paul Butler from Wolves also on a free. Tiatto and Butler, both 31, are out of contract. Tiatto may prefer a move to The Hawthorns as they can offer Premiership football, which given the player's disciplinery record may not be a bad thing for Leeds. Having got rid of Bowyer and Smith and with Viduka on his way soon, now is a good opportunity for Leeds to clear up our appalling disciplinery record of recent seasons. Moreover, Tiatto is an Aussie and after recent events the sooner we ditch the Antipodean connection and any reason to have contact with the anally-retentive Socceroos, and Furher Farina, the better as far as we are concerned. The "Leeds Way" is an "Aussie-free" way!
Butler is a better prospect although signing older defenders who have just been relegated may not be seen as "the way forward" by Leeds fans. Particularly given Wolves' defensive record last season! Still, I guess beggars can't be choosers and if we ditch Duberry we have a central defensive hole to fill in the middle.


One of the more interesting rumours currently on the go is that Kevin Blackwell could swap captain Dominic Matteo for Fulham striker Barry Hayles . Matteo is one of the highest earners at the club and we need to dispose of his wages. With the ineffective Smith and temperamentally-suspect Viduka gone or going Kevin needs to find support for the young and inexperienced Simon Johnson and Aaron Lennon.
Hayles scored a reasonable 18 goals in Fulham's promotion winning season in 2000-01 and the 32-year-old could be the ideal man to lead the attack and bring on the youngsters. Kevin is obviously having to wheel and deal to engage anything like a full squad on a budget of bugger all!


Viduka's agent is looking for a berth for the player (as he has done during each of the last two summers! Git!) Middlesborough, still smarting from Kluivert's offhand dismissal of them as a small club (snigger), are interested. Valencia, AC Milan and German champions Werder Bremen are also interested but if the source is his agent then those leads may just be total conjecture as in past summers.


Congratulations to fellow Yorkshire club Huddersfield Town who yesterday won promotion, via a play-off penalty shoot-out, to the Second Division. That makes it a clean sweep for Yorkshire in the promotions from that division, Town joining Hull City and champions Doncaster in promotion. White Rose celebrations are slightly muted by York City's relegation from the Third Division and the Football League to the Conference where they will join Yorkshire, and former League, club Scarborough. Sadly Yorkshire no longer has a representative in the Premiership.


Just in case you're still feeling blue about our chances next season let's finish on a high and hear from Kevin, the gaffer: "Things are going well in terms of speaking with players.
"There are a lot of lads out there who would be interested in joining us for next season and I'm pleased with the progress we are making on that front."

After the last few seasons it's nice to know someone wants to join us! But why not? We are Leeds! The best fans in the Premiership last season and we'll take the First Division by storm next season! The noisest, largest following in the Division bar none - and the best behaved! Leave the gratuitous violence nonsense to Cardiff City and Millwall.


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Pay cuts and number twos!

1st June 2004

Whites captain Dominic Matteo is set for discussions over his future. Matteo is keen to confirm his position because of the interest of Premiership clubs. However, the 30-year-old has two years remaining on his contract and has said he wants to see his career out at Elland Road. Clearly his wages will be a problem. The YEP says that Leeds may consider offering Matteo an extended contract on reduced terms but he will want assurances that the club will rebuild in the Coca-Cola League. Matteo is settled in Leeds and wants to play a part as the club looks to bounce back from relegation but any decision on his future may not be his to make. Despite Kevin Blackwell being keen on Fulham striker Barry Hayles the YEP says that there are no plans for a swap deal with Matteo.


New manager, Kevin Blackwell, is close to appointing his assistant at Leeds. He has targeted a potential right-hand man and he told the club's official website that his preferred man for the job has seven years proven experience in the First Division, and he hopes to be in a position to name him very soon. He went on to say, "There will be big changes and that hopefully will be for the good. I want a new culture at this football club, we can draw a line in the sand now and anybody who comes into the club knows exactly what is expected of them. Having left Sheffield United I made appointments there that are going to be there a long time after I left, for that was the key to it, and I will be following the same policy here."
Good heavens, long term planning at Leeds! Never, where the hell does Blackwell think he is? All Leeds managers are only allowed to plan until Xmas at which point five key players are sold and the manager is given a vote of confidence. Then a previously undiscovered black hole emerges in the accounts and the manager is replaced by an ex-player on a rota system. I believe Frank Worthington is next up for the honour.


According to the Teesside Evening Gazette, Mark Viduka could accept a cut in his current wages of £65,000 to leave Elland Road but only if the move is right. His agent Chris Page has revealed that Viduka is concentrating on football rather than finances as he contemplates his future.
"For him, it's not a question of money. He wants to go to a club that matches his aspirations.I think he realises he got a very good deal at Leeds and that only a handful of clubs can match what they were willing to pay him."
Heavy with irony isn't it? Apparently it not a question of money now he faces Coca-Cola football! As he's costing us so much money whilst he is once again in Australia let's hope he gets his finger out and finds a new berth quickly.


Today was deadline day for season-ticket holders to renew their existing seats for next season's Coca-Cola Championship. Approximately, just nine thousand of the club's existing twenty-two thousand season-ticket holders have renewed. Season tickets will go on general sale on Monday 14th, June 2004.
The club hope to achieve 17,000 season-ticket holders as the board have budgeted for only a 5,000 reduction in season-ticket holders. Apparently they are satisfied with the demand so far as renewals started a week later than last year.
During the 2003-04 season Premier League crowds at Elland Road averaged 36,666. The average our last season in the old Second Division (1989/90) was 28,198. Frankly with no price drop in prices and a team of rejects and Bosmans under a new manager, the Board is lucky to have 9,000 renewals. After the way the fans have been decieved in the past by Ridsdale and Leighton I won't be surprised if less than 13,000 renew. It really depends have quickly Blackwell begins to shape up the look of his new team. That depends how quickly high-earning leeches in the current squad piss-off. "Not soon enough", came the reply!



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