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July 31: The pre-season tour of Sweden came to an end tonight with a 4-0 victory over Gais. Ian Harte opened the scoring from the spot, Olivier Dacourt and Mark Viduka added one each before Harte rounded off the scoring. There were a couple of injury worries, notably for the recently recovered Dominic Matteo who took no part in this game, just like Gary Kelly and Lee Bowyer. The next pre-season game is at Tolka Park against a Dublin City XI on Friday night.
July 31: Rather than go for the national exposure and broad base of support that Liverpool enjoyed last year, Leeds have shunned the BBC and thrown their lot in with Sky Sports for the home UEFA Cup ties. No doubt the short term gain of money in the back pocket will be greater this way, but surely the higher profile offered by national terrestrial TV coverage would have been a better thing for a club that will need another 10,000 fans in its stadium in the near future? Since it's on Sky Sports Extra - which isn't available to most pubs and clubs - and Chelsea have also signed up, this probably means that if both teams are at home, you'll have no chance of watching the game unless you've got Sky Digital at home - which is great for all those cable or OnDigital subscribers - yet more potential audience (and fans) eliminated. The chairman said: "BBC would have had a greater terrestrial reach but we were concerned that it would have had an effect on attendances in the earlier rounds." He continued: "We are looking at possible deals for fans to ensure people can see early UEFA games for around £12. We want our fans to enjoy the European experience."
July 31: Looks like our great transfer hope is injured! Kieron Dyer is now on crutches with shin splint problems after a long injury lay-off. Maybe Newcastle put the price up to cover his hospital bills!
July 30: Playertalk time: Vidooks really wants to do his bit to help Australia qualify for the World Cup Finals. He said: "I want to play for my country. It's been a dream of mine to play in the World Cup and I don't want to miss out on it." Which is fair enough - we've known all along that was likely to be the case, and we'll have to make do with an attacking line-up of Smith, Bridges and Keane while he and Harry are away. Fellow Aussie Jacob Burns says he likes living in Leeds and will do his best to fight for a place in the side. Although he drifted out of the first team once the initial rash of injured players started to return, he said: "It was a fantastic first season for me and one I will always remember. I just have to keep putting pressure on the big name players we have here, keep training and playing well, then maybe I can hold down a place next season."
July 30: Arsene Wenger is disgusted that it has taken 3 months to charge Martin Keown with the two on-field assaults on Mark Viduka and Lee Bowyer. Couldn't agree more old mate. He's het up because now he's not sure whether or not he should be preparing a team including the elbow-swinging centre-back, or if he will find himself forced to use the obviously second-rate defensive pairing of Tony Adams and Sol Campbell. Your heart bleeds, doesn't it?
July 30: Today's transfer round-up. Rafael Van der Vaart's chances of an imminent move to Leeds have been dented by the chairman's remarks: "I've never even heard of him," said Peter Ridsdale. Well, PR might not, but Gerard Houillier will have had ample chance to take a view on the youngster as he played a full part in Ajax's 3-1 demolition of Liverpool in Amsterdam at the weekend in a pre-season tournament that also involved Milan and Valencia. How come Liverpool face that sort of opposition, ManU fly out to the Far East to help build the brand out there while Leeds head into a small town in the middle of Sweden? I guess it's horses for courses, and Leeds as a club has rarely gone in for high-profile pre-season games - the visit to Lansdowne Road a couple of years ago being the exception that proves the rule. If the manager thinks that a low-key Swedish tour is better preparation for the season, then that's what we should continue to do. Back in transferland, the chairman looks resigned to failure on the acquisition front. He said: "You can never tell but it is looking likely we will start the season with the same squad." Not that that's a bad thing of course!
July 29: After a set of disappointing performances last season, Eirik Bakke is Peter Ridsdale's choice as the pick of the team in the training and friendly matches so far. He said: "It is great news to Leeds that Eirik is playing so well. He has set the standards for pre-season and now it is up to the rest of the lads to follow him." He also said that both he and the manager were happy with the form the club had shown out in Sweden, scoring 12 and conceding none. Errrr...no disrespect to Jonkoping and Kungsbacka, but they're hardly Real Madrid and Valencia now, are they?
July 29: DOL had a good whinge at Patrick Vieira's behaviour this summer, saying that it's clear that player power has gone too far. Arsene Wenger has said that he believed the transfer talk was caused by Vieira's agent rather than the player himself wanting a move, and although the Frenchman has indicated he will now stay, DOL reckons his former club could still face a problem with the midfielder. "It must have cast a huge cloud over Arsenal at a time when you want to be looking forward to the new season with confidence and optimism. Arsenal are making all the right noises by insisting Vieira must stay and they are right to do so. But that's easier said than done." He summed it up, saying: "No manager wants to lose his best players, but these days we don't have a leg to stand on."
July 29: Other transfer speculation links Leeds with Ajax's midfielder Rafael Van der Vaart. He's only 18 but played a significant part in Ajax's campaign last year and is on the verge of recognition at full international level. He's a left-sided player who has done well at all levels - and it would be interesting to see where he would fit into a Leeds side and what it could mean for the likes of Stephen McPhail and Jason Wilcox. But it's all random speculation and nowt will come of it, so who cares...
July 29: The Sayings of Chairman Pete. Today's cryptic transfer speak is as follows: "There are only two players that David would want to bring to the club and those players are currently not available. I don't think you should assume those two players are happy where they are but you should assume the current clubs are saying they are unavailable at the moment. But David said to me that if we start the season without the two additions he's happy." Which is pretty much exactly what he's said before but there are no specific denials about Dyer this time. Which could be interesting...
July 28: Leeds cruised to another 6-0 win tonight against Kungsbacka in Sweden. Alan Smith netted from the spot before the break, and there were second half goals for Harry Kewell, Jason Wilcox, Robbie Keane (two) and Smith again. Smithy and Nigel Martyn played the whole game, but there was a 9-player changeover on the hour, with the players who started the Jonkoping match coming on to finish this one. Still looking good on the injury front: Duberry, Matteo, Keane and McPhail all appear to be making good progress and aren't showing any adverse reaction to their injuries and treatment.
July 28: Newcastle have finally sort-of admitted that there might be a point at which they give up the struggle for Kieron Dyer. But the bar has been set at £25 million - which is a frighteningly large amount of money, even by today's standards. Ask yourself this: is Dyer worth the same as Veron? Is he of the same order of proven class as Figo and Zidane? Will signing him enable us to make the final leap and actually start winning things? I know how I'd answer those questions - but will the chairman and manager swing the same way?
July 27: Yesterday, PR was quoted as saying that DOL might wander off into the sunset if Leeds didn't move to a new ground. Today he says that's not the case, and refuted allegations that he was using emotional blackmail on the fans. He said: "David wants to be the manager of Leeds United whether we are at Elland Road or anywhere else. It has been suggested that we could lose him if we do not move - but that is just nonsense." So that's clarified that then. Tomorrow: the chairman reveals that the players have volunteered to throw themselves off the top of the East Stand to be impaled on the statue of Billy Bremner unless we move to a new ground. Speaking of the statue, PR promises that it would be moved to a new location, and that a garden of remembrance would be set up for those who had had their ashes scattered on the pitch at Elland Road.
July 27: Rio thinks he might be in with a chance of being picked as England's vice-captain should Erickson nominate one. Errr... Rio - that doesn't mean that you and Kieron Dyer get to choose the girls you know... He said: "If there were injuries next year and David [Mr Posh] couldn't captain the side and I was asked to do the job it would be unreal."
July 27: The super-efficient FA machine finally rolled into gear today with the news that Martin Keown will be charged with two counts of violent conduct following the Leeds game towards the end of last season. Keown appeared to elbow Mark Viduka and stamp on Lee Bowyer in a bad-tempered game. Let's hope the FA have made their decision and either formally cleared him or got the ban into effect before we meet Arsenal in the first week of the season.
July 26: The Leeds Youth team are out in Northern Ireland again for the Milk Cup - a win last night has taken them through to the semi-finals.
July 26: Former Leeds striker Clyde Wijnhard has still not fully recovered from the car crash that came close to taking his life and won't be a part of Huddersfield's plans until the new year at the earliest according to reports today.
July 26: Ground move news part 17. With the fans clearly divided - and with a definite majority in favour of staying put - the chairman has wheeled out the nuclear option. He now seems to be saying that we could lose DOL unless we can have a ground capable of holding 50,000+ spectators - and the extra revenue from the crowd at the ground will apparently materially affect our ability to sign new stars. Funny - I seem to recall hearing how little the gate money meant to the modern football club when compared to TV and prize money. Must be my addled old brain causing me to get confused again...
July 26: Very brief round-up since yours truly has been out celebrating a couple of promotions in his team tonight. The first pre-season friendly finished without incident and with a 6-0 margin in favour of Leeds and no reported injuries. Dom Matteo got a solid hour in to prove his fitness, and Michael Duberry replaced him for his first game for a long time.
July 25: Danny Mills is looking forward to a quiet time out in Sweden as Leeds prepare for the new season with renewed confidence. He said: "If we can make a better start this year we must be in with a great chance. Last season if we'd picked up just one extra point we'd have been back in the Champions League and that's all down to our form before Christmas." He's clear where the priorities are this year: "The Premiership must be our main aim, but it would also be nice to win any trophy." And maybe add to the England cap he won against Mexico in the summer - he certainly deserves another crack at the national squad if not as first choice right back on the basis of his form last season.
July 25: Peter Ridsdale has tried to unmuddy the waters around the likelihood of DOL leaving for Old Trafford at some point. He said: "I don't care about the best man for the Manchester United job, I care about the best man for the Leeds United job and we've got him."
July 25: Phil Masinga - who Leeds signed at the same time as Lucas Radebe - has signed for Coventry on a Bosman. The striker scored 11 goals - 3 of them in a hat-trick against Walsall in the FA Cup - in 39 appearances between 1994 and 1996 for Leeds and has since been at St Gallen in Switzerland and joins Cov from Bari in Italy.
July 24: This time last year, the squad that flew out to Sweden was: Martyn, Robinson, Mills, Kelly, Molenaar, Duberry, Hay, Woodgate, Radebe, Harte, Evans, Dacourt, Jones, Bowyer, Bakke, McPhail, Kewell, Wilcox, Viduka, Bridges, Huckerby, Smith. At the time, DOL said we were looking for 3 more players - well, we got Dom Matteo, Rio Ferdinand and Robbie Keane while losing Molenaar, Jones and Huckerby, which looks like definite progress to me. Obviously Gareth Evans and Danny Hay haven't made the progress they'd have liked - not helped by injuries, but it's good to see that we're getting a more stable squad on which we can build a series of challenges for major honours.
July 24: Lucas Radebe and Michael Duberry both said more or less the same thing today, backing DOL on his refusal to splash the cash on just anyone. Doobs said: "He has got to buy someone who fits the profile of the whole squad, someone who is going to have the same personality as the players already here. The lads here get on very well and it is vital that he finds people who will fit in with us." He added: "I am sure that if he does buy again, no matter what position they play in, then the whole squad will realise that they have to step up a gear." The Chief said: "With the players that we have got now it does cover all of the departments and if the manager is going to strengthen then maybe he will pick out two or three to really give us some squad possibilities. There is so much quality already at the club that it is going to be interesting to see who could come in. They would need to be very special." Dashed right mate - let's hope that enough Yorkshire canniness has rubbed off on DOL and he keeps the old wallet firmly closed until the right player appears.
July 24: Brisbane Strikers officials are due to visit Leeds in the next week to see if they can progress the tie-up between the two clubs. With the Australian NSL now more or less through the restructuring, Peter Ridsdale will want to make a decision on which - if any - of the franchises Leeds should formally acquire or link with.
July 24: Danny Milosevic and Shane Cansdell-Sherriff are the only surprises in the squad that flies out to Sweden for the pre-season tour. With Jon Woodgate still not recovered from a knee injury, the double-barrelled Aussie will provide defensive cover alongside fit-again Michael Duberry and Lucas Radebe. Michael Bridges also stays at home to get some intensive recovery work after his op and hopes to be ready for the start of the season - but realistically must target the UEFA Cup games in mid-September. Paul Robinson also stays in England - he's not quite ready to risk his hand in a full game. Dom Matteo is not fully fit yet but may take some part in one or two of the games depending on how he reacts to training sessions and fitness tests.
July 23: The Italian press carry some stories today saying that AS Roma are about to redouble their efforts to land Mark Viduka. So I guess it's just as well that we read in the papers this morning that Vidooks was never seriously considering leaving in the summer. He said: "We've got a great atmosphere here, which is difficult enough to find anywhere. There's a tremendous set-up with the chairman, the manager and the coaches." And the long-term prospects look good too: "We can become one of the truly big clubs of Europe. We showed that last season, not just by reaching the Champions League semi-finals but by the way we got there."
July 23: Transfer talk: we've made a "substantial" offer for a player according to Peter Ridsdale, but he won't confirm or deny any of the guesses - apart from Kieron Dyer, who was explicitly ruled out of the reckoning. Man United are said to be close to coming in with a bid for the young England winger - but it would add to a really mammoth spend for the club this season that saw them lash out a couple of million in small change for a young lad from Wigan today. PR also revealed that we'd turned down two bids for Michael Bridges and saw him as part of the long-term future of the club. Other inbound speculation surrounds Pantelis Kafes of PAOK - although that could just be press talk drummed up by his agents. Just think - a midfield with Pantelis and Pantless.... (sorry - couldn't resist...).
July 23: Robbie Keane is happy to face competition for places in the starting line-up. He appreciates that Michael Bridges will soon be fit and Alan Smith and Mark Viduka are very much the men in possession, but isn't downhearted. "It is good that we have those players like Mark Viduka, Alan Smith and Michael Bridges. With the four of us in the squad it is going to be an interesting battle to see who is going to be playing. I would not imagine that everyone is going to be playing every week." Keane wants to see us get a good start to the season - when he joined last year, Leeds had had the worst possible start in the league but finished very strongly. He said: "If we can play like that from the start this time then I think we have a great chance of success."
July 22: Daily Dyer Drivel: the News of the World has us offering £15 million plus up to £4 million more depending on appearances. How about the other way round? £4 million for someone who is a good and pacy prospect but could ultimately turn into the next Tony Daley, with up to £15 million for him if he scores the winner for England in next year's World Cup Final.
July 22: Our old friend Peter 'Rudolf' Schmeichel is tipping Leeds as the side to press his old team-mates for the title this season - although he still says that the Old Trafford mob will take the pot. Speaking today he said: "They have got a good manager and a good assistant in Brian Kidd, who I worked with for more than seven years at United and I know what he can do." David Batty on the other hand is trying to play down such talk. He said: "I'd like to agree with people but comments like that always seem to come back and haunt you." However, Batts realises that for manager, team and fans it's crucial that we finally get something in the trophy cabinet to back up the excellent performances that have been produced on the pitch. He said: "We've got to produce the goods this season and win something. If it's the league great, but the Worthington Cup would do for me."
July 21: Still no sign of Kieron Dyer for Newcastle as they beat Sporting Lokeren 1-0 in the InterToto Cup at St James Park tonight. Newcastle will play 1860 Munich in the final round with the first leg in Germany next week, and Bobby Robson will be hoping that DOL can offer him some advice after Leeds' successful tie against the Germans last season. Maybe we can do a swap: hints and tips on how to beat Munich and qualify for the UEFA Cup in exchange for Kieron Dyer. Seems like a fair swap to me...
July 21: The Leeds Ladies game against Man U will be on August 8 at Bracken Edge in Chapel Allerton - not August 1 as I said before.
July 20: Former Leeds striker Lee Chapman has lost up to £270,000 with the failure of the Leeds branch of Teatro. Although the London club is doing well and the restaurant at the Leeds club was doing okay, a creditors meeting was told that there was a trading loss of nearly £500,000 on turnover of just over £1.1 million. Leeds Sporting can probably kiss goodbye to the £250,000 stake it had in the operation too - that would be enough to keep Mark Viduka in pies for nearly 3 months!
July 20: Nigel Martyn will be facing a challenge for the goalkeeping position at both club and international level this season. He said: "There is going to be competition for places this season, especially in goal with Paul and Danny challenging me for that number one shirt. It is the same at most clubs in the Premiership - everybody seems to have at least two keepers that are capable of playing." And he'll be hoping to be the man chosen for the England friendly at White Hart Lane next month (expect a warm welcome for Sol Campbell if he partners Rio in the England defence) and then for the crucial game against Germany on September 1. Surely Sven can't still be thinking of picking David Seaman....
July 20: Injuries and transfers (part 17). Dom Matteo is looking to be ready to take a full part in training, and fears that he might have to go under the knife appear to have subsided. After signing for Leeds in August last year when he had barely recovered from another knock, he was keen to be ready for the start of this campaign. "It is vital that you take part in pre-season because if you miss it then you can be left behind through your fitness later in the season." Woody has a - real this time - knee injury, and is a doubt for the pre-season tour next week, and Michael Bridges is still short of full fitness following his op this summer. Meanwhile in Europe, Hector Cuper has convinced Inter's Javier Zanetti to stay (he was linked to Leeds and Arsenal among others), and the Smog Monsters' interest in Brett Emerton is subsiding now that El Tel has brought his Jag back down to Laarndon - which could clear the way for Liverpool to make a bid which Feyenoord and the player both find acceptable. And Rio thinks that Patrick Vieira should shun the likes of Real Madrid and come up to Leeds. I've got to say I agree with him - I think that Vieira has been superb over the last couple of years and I would love to see him pull on the white shirt. I've also got to say that it's more likely for the sun to rise in the West tomorrow morning, but you can dream...
July 20: With rumours going around that Leeds are about to announce their chosen site for a new stadium, DOL is the most recent member of the club's management to harp on about how wonderful it would be to move. "I understand the traditions around Elland Road but it is all about moving forward. I believe if we could provide a great stadium with first class facilities it would provide a perfect stage for our brilliant supporters to come and cheer us on." But presumably those nasty people who deigned to express their opinion when the team produced a gutless performance will be banned. Still no word from the club on what form the "consultation exercise" they have promised will take, but it is believed it will be a form saying: "Re-arrange the following words into a well-known phrase: 'accompli' 'fait' 'a'".
July 20: The day after Leeds rejected a bid for Jason Wilcox, the winger said that he was determined to win a place in the starting line-up. "That's part of football these days, but I love it at Leeds and I'm happy to stay and fight for my place," he said. He'll face stern competition for a place even on the bench if Stephen McPhail, Eirik Bakke and two "spare" strikers are all fit and available, but let's hope he gets a chance to prove he's back to the fine form we saw right after his move from Blackburn.
July 20: UEFA have confirmed the team rankings for this year, and Leeds are rated number 5 in the UEFA Cup - which should mean we get a chance of playing the "smaller" teams rather than the continuous stream of Champions League drop-outs we faced two years ago. Valencia are top seeds, Internazionale second and - based on the bizarre system that looks back over about 20 years - Chelsea are ranked third. Sure, they did pretty well in Europe a few years ago, but (a) their current team bears little resemblance to that one and (b) they've done sod all while we've made the semi-finals for two years in a row. Still expecting UEFA to find a way to line us up with Valencia, Juve and anyone else they can find to try to stop us progressing - but based on how well we've played and how much we've learned you'd have to fancy our chances against just about anyone.
July 19: Very quick round-up today due to yours truly being out on the lash last night. Leeds rejected a £2 million bid from Manchester City for Jason Wilcox - come on guys, get real - he's worth at least twice that, and we need a left-sided attacking player for when H is injured or Down Under. Former Leeds small-attacking-bloke Jamie Forrester has finally agreed terms with Wycombe and will be with them for the new season.
July 18: Stirring-it-up-in-the-papers department. "DAVID O'LEARY CAN JOIN MANCHESTER UNITED," says Peter Ridsdale in some rags today. Yep, AFTER he's done the job at Leeds that is. PR pointed out that anything he might achieve at Old Trafford would be bound to lead to people saying he was just playing Fergie's team, and he was happy at Leeds and halfway through a five year plan to take the One True United to some serious silverware, so why should he want to leave? The chairman said: "David has got more freedom to act here than probably any other League manager, but if he feels that moving to a club that has won just about everything for the last seven years is something he wants to do, then so be it." Tomorrow's main story from the back pages: "HARRY KEWELL TO GO TO ITALY!" (on holiday next year).
July 17: Juventus want to do us a favour by taking Mark Viduka off our hands and giving us a big pile of cash plus Darko Kovacevic. Juve have failed to re-sign Christian Vieiri from Inter so far and are very keen to pick up a new striker but Leeds are not going to let go of Vidooks that easily.
July 17: It's going to be a bit of a squeeze getting tickets for some of the big games this year if you've not got a season ticket. Leeds have sold over 26,000 season tickets - so that will leave probably less than 8,000 free for non-season ticket holders if we have a good run in the UEFA Cup, since those games will still be subject to a reduced capacity.
July 17: Random pronouncements from players department. Nige is looking forward to Leeds making more of a challenge to Man U this year. He said: "We need to make it more difficult for them because Manchester United wrapped it up far too early last season, their form fell away at the end but they had done what they needed to and won it at a canter." He added: "It makes it much more exciting if there are two or three or four teams involved right up to the end." And Batts seems to have bought DOL's line on the disappointment that was expressed by the fans after some of the less impressive performances last year. He said: "Of course you would get annoyed when things aren't going well, but all I cared about was seeing the players give 100 per cent." Precisely David - that's exactly what we weren't seeing. He said: "While I appreciate why the fans were getting frustrated - we had a great season prior to last year and they wanted more of the same - you have to remember we had a lot of injuries around Christmas and that's why we were struggling."
July 16: Today's Dyer news: Newcastle's chairman Freddy Shepherd - backed up by Bobby Robson - has told Dyer and his agent that the young England star is going precisely nowhere. The only formal bid that the Geordies have received was £15 million from Man U - and that was turned down. Robson reminded Dyer that the club had paid his wages for the six months he was injured and he should show some loyalty to the side. Ahhh...such old-fashioned principles...
July 16: The second week of pre-season training got underway today with the return of Olivier Dacourt - granted an extra week off after playing for France in the Confederations Cup. The players will train through to next Tuesday before flying out to Sweden on Wednesday for the first game on 26 July.
July 15: According to unreliable sources, Kieron Dyer really really wants to leave Newcastle and will have talks with their board soon to see how he can realise that ambition. And Mark Kerr, the Falkirk midfielder who had trials with Leeds earlier this year, has refused to sign a contract extension, thus making it essential that the club sell him soon to get some money rather than waiting until he can go on a free. Will Leeds buy either of them? Well, it's hard to see how Kerr fits in with Peter Ridsdale's stated aims of only buying players who will materially improve the team, and after the repeated denials over our interest in Dyer, buying him would show just how much store you can set in any other denials that the chairman might make. About consulting on the ground move, DOL's ability or willingness to leave, or anything. Or maybe I'm just feeling a bit hyper-sceptical today.
July 14: Vidooks impressed Hector Cuper so much when we played Valencia that he wants him to sign for Internazionale at any price according to press reports today. Needless to say the chairman has turned the offer down flat - and for Viduka the offer might be financially attractive, but would he be picked ahead of Ronaldo (if he ever gets fit) and Vieiri?
July 13: Rio wants us to follow Japan's example if we build a new stadium. He's been over to see what could be in store for England if the national side qualify for WC2002. He said: "The stadiums are frightening over there. They have just shot up in the space of a year and look absolutely fantastic." He added: "If we could take note of what they are doing and how they have built the new stadiums then you could end up with a very good place to play football in a very short space of time." But as a sop to us dyed-in-the-wool traditionalists, he said: "That is not to say we're unhappy with playing at Elland Road it is good enough for us at the moment, but you can understand it if the club want to maximise their off-field operations and get more people into the games. To do that they may have to move." And let's face it - if we want to stage Godzilla vs Moth-Ra 3 - The Penalty Shootout we're going to need somewhere just that bit bigger and further from the pitch than the current West Stand to adequately view the spectacle.
July 13: DOL is reported to be committing himself to Leeds in one way at least: he's buying what is reported to be the most expensive house ever built in the city (though I'm sure Temple Newsam and Harewood would give it a run for its money). The house is reported to cost £1.35 million - which seems a bit excessive even by Laaarndon standards. In reality he's probably just put a new carpet down in his outside loo.
July 13: For all you far-flung Leeds fans out there, you may find there's a supporters club branch setting up near you. New branches have been formed in Perth and Adelaide down under, plus Hong Kong, Singapore and Israel. The supporters club has a minimum of 40 fans required to form a new branch, although it's understood that there is a degree of flexibility in those numbers for some of the overseas branches, and the club are currently doing their best to open up new marketing opportunities and to heighten awareness of Leeds in areas where LUFC - and soccer in general - have never been too prominent.
July 13: Two more pre-season games have been scheduled, for August. A "Select XI" - i.e. the reserves more or less - will play at Goole on Saturday August 11, and the U-19 side will face Workington at Borough Park on Friday August 17.
July 13: Those Dyer rumours really are persistent. Although it now seems as if Boudewijn Zenden will be yet another player to turn down Bobby Robson, the press have gone a bundle on possibility of Dyer joining Leeds. He has professed a desire to stay at Newcastle - but "sources" are quoted this evening as saying he wants to join up with his mate Rio at Elland Road. If he's going to do it, he'd better not play in the InterToto and cup-tie himself tomorrow then. With Mark Viduka finally signed up, DOL is said to have reluctantly sanctioned the use of Michael Bridges as makeweight in a deal that would see £10 million plus the striker going to St James Park. Of course, Peter Ridsdale has out and out denied that Leeds have expressed any interest in Dyer since his Ipswich days but.... Meanwhile in Italy, Leeds are said to be the main competition to Juve in the race for the signature of Peruggia's Fabio Liverani - £7-10 million is the price being mentioned.
July 12: Former Leeds defender Paul Hart has been appointed manager at Nottingham Forest following David Platt's departure to coach the England U-21 squad. Hart played 70 league games for Forest from 1983-85, and had been heading up the youth setup at the City Ground after doing so much to bring on the youngsters at Leeds.
July 12: Will the arrival of Zenden at St James Park spell the end for Kieron Dyer? Probably not - but maybe we can nip in and persuade Barca's Dutch international to stop off at Elland Road before he heads up to the north east? Certainly he's the sort of quality player that Peter Ridsdale stressed would be the only sort bought by the club. The chairman said: "I don't want to be disrespectful to players who have been at the club in previous seasons but we have moved on. Two or three years ago we were buying players who today would not get in the team. They did a job for us and now have been allowed to move on." He added: "To take the team to the next stage it is only worth spending the money if we are going to add something extra to the high quality we already have." And so say all of us. Canny Yorkshire tightness is definitely a plus. Keep the wallet in the pocket unless DOL is sure that the target will make a big difference.
July 12: Paul Robinson knows he will have a fight on his hands to displace Nigel Martyn in the Leeds goal, but he'll certainly have a go. He said: "I have to stake a claim for the number one jersey this season, that is what I am aiming for." With David Seaman looking set to be relegated to Arsenal's bench this season, Nige will be looking to make the England job his own, but with Richard Wright due to operate between the sticks at Highbury, both Nige and Robbo will have to be on their toes to ensure that the talented - but, in my totally unbiased view - not as reliable Wright will get plenty of media exposure from the lazy press-hounds who have no idea what is happening outside the M25.
July 12: Rio reckons that Leeds can have a real go for the title next year, and that the return from injury of several players will provide the squad with a major boost. He said: "The squad we have is definitely going to be stronger than last season. With players like Stephen McPhail, Bridgey and Michael Duberry back, it will be like having three new signings." Errr...with all due respect Rio, it's not quite like having Juan Veron and Ruud van Nistelrooy, but we'll let that one pass for now. To be fair, he has a point: Leeds do have a strong squad if injuries stay away, and with fewer European games in the UEFA Cup instead of the Champions League we might just be able to stretch to a trophy this year. Rio said: "It is my first full season here and I think with everyone fit we can be major contenders in all the competitions." I really hope so...
July 12: Leeds' reserve team striker Tony Hackworth has decided to call it a day at Elland Road and try his luck elsewhere. After three appearances for the first team - two of which were against Barcelona and Lazio - he has joined Notts County for £120,000. He had the chance to move to Meadow Lane earlier in the year but turned it down: realistically, he'd have little or no chance of first team action this season and the move makes a lot of sense for the 21-year-old.
July 11: To nobody's great surprise, it looks like Mark Viduka and Harry Kewell will play in the World Cup play-offs and at least some of the friendlies around the time. Mark Viduka said: "I think Harry and I will play in those games. They are the games which could get us to the World Cup." Which is fair enough: it's a shame that they'll be missing at such a crucial part of the year, but at least they're being called up for a real footy tournament with some meaning rather than dubious friendlies against Nike-Brazil.
July 11: Pre-season training update: Michael Bridges and Michael Duberry are still not quite ready for full training, and Stephen McPhail is taking it easy at first - as are the whole squad: if memories of last season weren't enough to counsel a steady start to the training, the news that Liverpool's Steven Gerrard has ruled himself out for 6 weeks after picking up a knock in the club's first week of work-outs should be enough to remind the Leeds squad that it's not being fit enough to score a hat-trick in Sweden that counts. To that end, it seems that Brian Kidd has decided that it would be an idea to break up the intensive fitness sessions with some work on the ball. David Batty said: "Usually you don't see a ball for the first couple of weeks when you come back after the summer, but Brian had us doing ball work on the very first day. That was a refreshing change."
July 11: Barnsley's new signing - former Leeds reserve Kevin Dixon - has got off to a bad start with his new club, picking up a stress fracture of his leg that will rule him out of any serious training for 1-2 months and will almost certainly mean he won't be available for the start of the new season.
July 10: Final batch of non-news from the report-backs is that both Harry Kewell and Robbie Keane look to be over their long-term problems of last season and are hoping for an injury-free run to help the team push for honours this year. Kewell said: "We know that we have to be going right from the start if we want that success."
July 10: Gary Kelly is another player who is back and raring to go. The longest-serving player in the current squad, Kelly is not remotely jaded by the prospect of another season of hard work and fighting for honours - he's happy to be in a club with a great atmosphere and good prospects: "The boss knows just what he has got here and he does not want to lose it. People on the outside would love a piece of his ingredients but if you can hold on to this group of lads then you never know what can happen in the future. I don't think the players can show the fans any more desire. Everyone here at the club loves to play for Leeds United and there is not one of them who does not want to put on a white shirt."
July 10: Still no sign of the "imminent" signing as hinted at by PR at the LUSC AGM. As for the players still there, Doobs is once again going on record with a relatively upbeat message. "It has been a difficult year for me to say the least, so hopefully just to get in with the chaps and play football will make me feel like a footballer again," he said. And contrary to what many people expected after the court case, he has been well supported by the people who really matter: "The fans have been tremendous, I had a great deal of letters from people supporting me, they all said the same thing and that was good because they helped me come through a difficult time. It was a bit frightening at times. Everyone wants to be a fans' favourite and have the supporters like them and there was a time when I was wondering what they were thinking. It is nice to know that I can now just concentrate on the football side of things with their full backing and support."
July 09: As expected, the new boss at Fratton Park isn't that keen on picking up Lee Sharpe, who had spent some time on loan on the south coast last season and had been hoping that caretaker Graham Rix would get the job instead of Harry Redknapp. But it's the former West Ham boss calling the shots now, and it looks like Sharpe faces another season in Bradford's colours unless he can convince someone else to pick up his not-too-small wage bill.
July 09: Dominic Matteo is another one of the players who hasn't been a stranger to the training ground this season. After injuring his knee in the final game of the season at home to Leicester to build up the strength in his leg ahead of the pre-season training and make sure he got the full benefit of the work they're starting on this week. He said: "I have quite enjoyed coming in over the summer. I think you miss it in a way when you are not getting up every morning and coming in for training. It is a daily routine that you come to enjoy. He wasn't happy that the team had missed its targets last year but they aim to really deliver this year: "It was disappointing not to make into the Champions League but the UEFA Cup is hardly a Mickey Mouse affair, it will still be a huge challenge for us. I was looking at the list of teams who have made it and there are some big guns in the draw. It is going to be an exciting and very tough tournament. Our goal has to be to do well in that competition and challenge for the Premiership title."
July 09: Well, the McManaman rumour lasted two days - which is one day longer than I thought it would manage - before Macca stated categorically that he wanted to stay in Spain. Despite Real's purchase of Zidane for a reported £45 million, the former Liverpool winger seems to be happy trying to compete for a place and picking up a massive pay packet whether or not he plays and living in a great city. Can't say I blame him really...
July 09: Yesterday's Sunday Telegraph said that Leeds were prepared to securitise the gate receipts from a new stadium in order to raise up to £50 million, some of which would be pay for the land and construction of a new stadium. On that front, Peter Ridsdale made it clear at the AGM of the LUSC that the move was by no means cut and dried, although the club had started looking at three sites and was close to eliminating one as a possibility. He also apparently stressed that Leeds really were committed to consulting the supporters, but pointed out that a sizeable wad of cash would be forthcoming for sponsorship rights on a new stadium. One of the other obvious benefits of building a new ground is that there would be no major reduction in capacity that would be entailed by updating the current ground, and that the limitations of the corporate entertainment side could be more easily addressed from a fresh start. All of which are sound arguments, but do pre-suppose that the corporate clients and the extra 10,000 fans who would fill the other seats will still be there should Leeds' rise over the last few years stall. If we end up with corporate accommodation at 50% occupancy and 15,000 empty seats in the ground (i.e. at the same level of support that we had 3-4 years ago) could we afford it?
July 08: Wot? No transfer rumours today? Can only mean one thing: a new player will be wheeled out in front of the press tomorrow lunchtime and we'll all be totally surprised....
July 08: David Batty made an early appearance in front of the fans today - but it was the bikers at Donington as he rode pillion on a Yamaha GP bike before today's British Grand Prix. Batts' love of motorbikes is well-documented - but the last thing we want is for him to get crocked so close to the start of pre-season training after he's done so much hard work to get himself in shape after that terrible injury. In fact, the club has banned him from riding bikes on the road - so I guess he stayed within the letter of that ban today, but it remains to be seen what DOL thinks of it!
July 08: Pre-season training starts tomorrow, and Ian Harte is raring to go - he's already started doing some of his own! He said: "I've called in a couple of times at our training ground to do some more training and a bit of work with the weights to try and prepare for the hard work that we'll all be in for next week." Nice to see such commitment - let's hope the added effort pays off with a bit more pace when the season starts!
July 07: So what did we do to persuade Viduka to stay? Apart from offering an even bigger pile of cash plus an extra two pie vouchers per week, but PR obviously convinced him that we've got a good chance of winning something soon and also offered 3 sachets of brown sauce into the bargain. The Aussie hitman said: "Leeds have given me some stability in my life and have also provided a platform to win medals. I honestly think we can win the championship this season. That is why I am still here and within the five years of my contract I feel we can win the Champions' League, too. We are a young side who will get better and better and maybe you don't have to go to Italy or Spain to get success."
July 07: Doobs reckons he'd like to stay at Leeds despite the chance to return home to North London if the rumoured bid from Spurs materialises. After last season's injury problems he feels that he owes the club his efforts this season: "Last year was a bad season for me and I don't want to walk away without trying my best." Good man Doobs - let's hope there's more of a role for you than leading the singing in the Euro aways, but I think you're still going to be pressed to be more than a 3rd choice centre back behind Rio, Dom and Lucas - and maybe your best mate Woody too.
July 07: Steve McManaman for Leeds? That's the latest rumour with Real Madrid set to break another transfer record and add Zidane to Figo and the rest, and with Mendieta also a possible arrival at the Bernabeu Macca's chances would be limited. And a right-sided attacking player who might cost the mid-teen millions would fit in with what we want and what PR has said we might spend. But once again the question remains: Kewell, Dacourt, Batty, Bowyer - who do you drop?
July 06: Things may be moving again Down Under. The NSL looks like it has finally got its act together, and Brisbane Strikers - the club that Leeds were closely linked with earlier in the year - are going to be in the top division, so the prospect of a link-up could be revived: Leeds did not want to get involved unless the Strikers were guaranteed a place in the top flight next year.
July 06: Peter Ridsdale cleared up some of the confusion around the contract situation at the club today. It's seemed a bit strange that so many players are having their deals renegotiated and continually extended to 5 years, but the chairman pointed out that a 5-year contract is, in reality, a 3-year deal, since the club would be more or less forced to sell a player who had only two years left but wouldn't sign an extension to ensure they realized the value before the player got to the position where he knew he could coast for a season and then move on a Bosman. It looks like Danny Mills could be the next player to get an improved deal in the light of his contribution to the side last year and his England call-up this summer. PR is relieved that all of the contract details are finally settled: "Everybody has now been signed up and they have committed themselves to Leeds United. That is great news."
July 06: So the day after we sign up Ian Harte on an extended deal, the papers are full of rumours that we're looking to pick up a new left back. Jon Harley of Chelsea is the man in question, and it's true that the England U-21 international looks like a pretty good prospect but at the moment he seems to be third choice behind Le Saux and Babayaro - and we really need a stronger player than that to keep up the pressure on Harte. Rumours of Ray Parlour's possible availability are also in the press, and he would seem like a much better bet if we're talking about spending £5 million or so.
July 05: Batts is looking forward to the new season and expecting some competition for places in the side. He said: "Some might say new players would challenge me for a place in the side but I don't see that as a problem. I have played at top clubs all my career and at the end of every season new players have always come in." His main competition this season will surely come from Eirik Bakke if anyone, although if Stephen McPhail does enough to get in the side, it would be interesting to see who of Bowyer, Dacourt and Batty would be omitted.
July 05: In a move that is sure to boost the shares of pie-making companies in West Yorkshire, Leeds announced that today's talks with Mark Viduka's advisors had been successful, and that he had committed himself to Leeds for the next campaign and signed a one-year extension to his deal, putting him back on the same 5-year agreement that it seems is now standard for all members of the first team. Despite my seemingly massive downer on our star striker's appetite and girth, I'm really pleased to hear this bit of news.
July 05: The Socceroos have announced part of their plans in the build-up to the World Cup qualifier play-offs. They are now due to face France in November, a European side a month or so before that and Japan in August. The September/October date could prove particularly problematical for Leeds, who will not want to lose Kewell and Viduka for more than the 7 games in November/December that the play-offs will cover, so let's hope they manage to schedule the friendly around the UEFA Cup games.
July 05: Ian Harte has extended his current deal with Leeds to keep him at the club until summer 2006. The deal is believed to be worth up to £30,000 a week to the left back, whose form was patchy last season even if he did score some cracking goals. It's a lot of money - but we'd only have to spend more to get a replacement if he left the club, so we'll just have to hope that a few more like him come through the juniors.
July 05: Instant denial department. No sooner has the ink dried on last night's reports that Leeds were definitely in with a bid for Dyer than the club and Dyer's agent have firmly stated that Dyer is going nowhere. Must be something in it then...
July 04: Those Dyer rumours keep on resurfacing. Leeds are said to be ready to bid £20 million for the young England star this week. Which of course contradicts everything that has been said about who we're interested in and how much we were going to spend but what the heck, don't shoot me, I'm only the messenger.
July 04: The battle is on for Leeds' UEFA games next year, with the BBC and Sky both interested in screening next season's Euro-adventures. Peter Ridsdale said: "It is good to have competition and we must ensure that we get the best deal." He points out: "The rights to UEFA matches are our own and we can do with them what we want. We can sell them to whoever offers us the best deal for Leeds United and that is what we are concentrating on." Well at least we seem to be a bit more popular than a couple of years ago when BBC2 and Channel 5 did what they could to show just how disinterested they were in the whole thing short of broadcasting the game at 3 in the morning. All things considered it would probably be better to be on the Beeb just for the wider exposure, cos Sky will almost certainly do some nasty digital-only trick so that cable or OnDigital customers can't see half the games.
July 04: Apparently the club have sold over 8000 new away shirts, and demand is such that they are rushing out to get new supplies in as soon as possible. And a new supply of wash-proof numbers and letters too no doubt...
July 03: Leeds in "paying the going rate" shock. In an interview, the chairman shocked and surprised thousands of fans when he revealed that Leeds had to pay the same sort of money as other clubs to get the big names to come and play for us. "You do not sign players like Rio Ferdinand and Robbie Keane without paying the going rate.... We are now paying our top players as much as any other club in this country and that is what we must continue to do if we are to be successful." And there we were thinking they did it for the sheer glory of pulling on the white shirt. With Leeds and the BBC close to sorting out a deal similar to the one agreed with Liverpool last season to show the UEFA Cup run, Mr Ridsdale stressed the importance of the TV money. "That TV revenue is very important to the club, we probably get twice as much from that than through the gates, and it enables us to go out there and bid for new players and try to improve the squad. Supporters want the best team out there in a Leeds United shirt and if that means we have to play on a Sunday afternoon then that is what we have to do. It is part of the modern game." But where do we draw the line? Playing on a Sunday at a stadium far from the traditional home of the club. Ditching the white shirts because Nike can make more profit from coloured ones? Renaming the team "John Smiths Leeds United"? At the risk of being labelled an old traditionalist, I think there's a line that needs to be clearly drawn as to what the management is prepared to do to chase success: like a gambler on a bad streak, how many traditions will we be forced to cash in as we follow what is seen as the only way to be a winning side? I think we'll know we've gone too far when Rupert Murdoch engineers a merger between the WWF, the Harlem Globetrotters and Manchester United, but by then we'll probably be too numb to care.
July 03: Bit of a quiet news day today (well, apart from the small matter of a new centreback for our second opponents of next season). The PR PR onslaught over the new ground continues. The chairman today said: "The mail bag has been 9-1 in favour of a move compared to 50-50 in the 24 hours after we announced our plans. I must stress though that no decision has been made." He also didn't add "Our returning officer, Mr Jeb Bush, is totally impartial and insists that the count has been perfectly fair. And I've spoken to the council about the mysterious bonfires that keep on being set on the nearby waste ground to see if they can trace the source of those letters...err..I mean big piles of paper that we know nothing about." However he did say: "By the time the season starts I hope we will have a clear idea of what the future holds for us." Lots of trophies and holding on to the current squad I hope...
July 02: Brazil's shock defeat at the hands of Uruguay yesterday means we (and the Australians) can breathe a bit easier. The 1-0 victory puts Uruguay two points clear of Colombia in 5th place - and level on points with Brazil. A play-off in Montevideo or Rio would be much more welcome than a potentially life-threatening game in Bogota for the Socceroos.
July 02: Beware the new shirts! Despite the massive pre-publicity and the hoo-ha around the launch on Friday (which was very successful in terms of units shifted), it seems that the kit suppliers neglected to test the shirts particularly thoroughly. Apparently the name and numbers (which cost an arm and a leg as it is) can go transparent and come off or fade in the very first wash. Time for PR's PR skills to be deployed as Leeds face a mass recall of the shirts and a race to get sticky and opaque numbers and names sorted before the start of the season.
July 02: Sky have chosen a real thriller for the first Leeds PPV game - the home tie against Derby will be moved back to Sunday 23 September from the Saturday after being selected by the broadcaster. FAPL chief executive Richard Scudamore said: "The quality of our competition is such that there are always great games that supporters want to see live - this new and exciting proposition improves the chances of that immensely." Speaking as a Leeds fan, how exactly is a game that has finished 0-0 for the last two years and which comes slap bang in the middle of the first round of the UEFA Cup going to provoke enough excitement and buzz that people will be queuing up to stuff their hard-earned readies into the FAPL and Sky's pocket? Are they trying to kill the PPV venture before it gets off the ground?? The Charlton away game - which was already back on the Sunday to accommodate the UEFA game the previous Thursday - is also on the cards for PPV.
July 02: Reserve team midfielder Kevin Dixon has signed up at Barnsley as they look to improve their squad this summer. Dixon never appeared for the first team - although he did get 4 games while on loan at York City - but was praised by reserve team coach Roy Aitken as being the most consistent performer in the side, and was known to Tykes' manager Nigel Spackman from Spackman's association with the England U-18 setup.
July 01: Former Leeds midfielder Scott Sellars has turned down the chance to come back to England. He's decided to stay in Denmark after failing to reach agreement with Northampton who wanted him just as a player, whereas Sellars wanted the chance to do some coaching work too.
July 01: South Africa drew 1-1 with Burkina Faso in Ougadougou today, clinching their place in the finals of WC2002. It's good news for Leeds, since it should mean that Lucas Radebe will be excused a long trip for their final qualifying game which counts for nothing.
July 01: Peter Ridsdale will be opening talks with Mark Viduka's people this week to see what it will take to keep the Australian striker at Elland Road. The chairman said: "My main effort is to get Mark Viduka signed up, I am meeting his accountant next Thursday. Keeping what we have got is the first priority and then if we add to the squad so be it." Still no word on any incoming transfers though, and pre-season training starts on Monday week.
|2008:||December, November, October, September, August, July, May, April, March|
|2007:||August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January|
|2006:||December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January|
|2005:||December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January|
|2004:||December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January|
|2003:||December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January|
|2002:||December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January|
|2001:||December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January|
|2000:||December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January|
|1999:||December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January|