Mickey and John

Latics 1 Whites 0, Hornets 3 Whites 0

Four thousand anxious souls decamped to pie munching country no clearer on the path their collective future would take. The eminent Queen’s Council thrust with the responsibility of deciding Don Massimo’s fate, had bowed to an eleventh hour request to delay any public announcement until the completion of hostilities in deepest Lancashire.

The appeal for caution had come from a nervous Football League amid fears that any disclosure prior to kick off, could spark an already volatile fan base into acts of mindless violence against the people and property of Wigan. Perhaps it was an over zealous position for the game’s custodians to take but largely practical as citizens of Bournemouth, Birmingham and Paris amongst others, could testify.

Despite another frustrating defeat the afternoon was largely good-natured. The visiting throng sprinkled support for their struggling side with unrepeatable references to corruption at the top table and were moved when opposing supporters joined them in commemorating the memory of those lost in Istanbul. It was a supreme gesture by Wigan Athletic and its supporters and one greatly appreciated by their guests.

As the visitors dispersed digesting an improved performance the atmosphere began to bubble with rumours of a stunning legal victory and by 3pm confirmation came that an Italian would soon be ordained as the new ruler of the Ridings. The news sent shudders of excitement through a seething mass of humanity and those that once cast Cellino as the devil incarnate now rejoiced at the arrival of a saviour.

To understand these surreal events and quite why many welcome a man of such dubious reputation, is to grasp the desperation imbued by the last decade in which the club has been raped both financially and spiritually by a collection of leeches, thieves and brigands whose only desire was to line their own pockets. The release of the club’s latest accounts not only reveal the full weight of its financial burden but also laid bare the existence clandestine payments made to executives in ‘bonuses’ and ‘administrative costs’. In Massimo Cellino fans see a man who appears to be bucking this well-worn trend. Reports suggest the Italian has already invested more capital than Bates or the Bahraini bankers ever did and for this they are choosing to ignore his many vices.

Many believe he has the passion, vision and requisite financial power to realise our ambitions and that his unique brand of leadership can breath new life into an ailing enterprise. The Italian’s unpredictable and often eccentric ‘hands on’ approach has made his home town club of Cagliari ‘hugely profitable’ but their nomadic existence, dilapidated stadium and frequent managerial casualties are elephants in the room. Naturally any construction is preceded by a degree of demolition and in all likelihood our new owner will take the challenge by the throat but his unstinting methods will prove costly for some. As Yorkshire Evening Post writer Phil Hay eloquently wrote ‘passengers will be thrown from the bus.’

President Cellino began the new era by inviting both Brian McDermott and his players to prove their worth and some believe they did just that with an abject defeat at Vicarage Road. It would be safe to assume that a great many of the protagonists involved in what the manager described as a ‘nonsense’ performance, will not survive the summer cull and a twentieth league defeat of the season kept alive a slim possibility that a regeneration could begin in League One.

I am both excited and unnerved the arrival of Don Massimo. I welcome and fear him in equal measure. The transformation of his reputation from that dark Friday night in January has been stark and even the local media are warming to his infectious magnetism. Phil Hay conceded that after those early doubts Mr Cellino represented the best conclusion to a very uncertain situation, while Radio Leeds’ Adam Pope described him as a ‘witty’ and ‘sharp’ fellow ‘who knows how to run a football club’.

 

TC

April’s fools were at Elland Road on Tuesday night. Whether they were  the ‘clueless, gutless and shameless’ imposters that paraded as a Leeds United team, the clandestine owners lurking in the shadows or the 18,000 saps that turned out to watch the charade.

Needless to say the evening saw Brian McDermott’s tattered reputation endure another severe bruising. Some call for his sacking while others demand a resignation. Both suggestions are rebuffed by a man unstinting in his determination to carry on. Claims that he is the worst manager in the club’s history come with the knowledge that there’s plenty of competition and make no concession for the chaos that ensues above. Perhaps the sentiment is harsh but it’s difficult to excuse ‘four months of abject failure’.

Throughout another grotesque season one player has risen from the sea of despair and absolved himself of the vitriol so readily thrust on others. Ross McCormack leads by example and at times has carried our collection of blundering nitwits on his shoulders but an injury time penalty saw both he and his wife subjected to the deranged rantings of  cyberspace bullies. There is a squalor about modern society that leaves me deeply disturbed.

Oi Ref!

Just over eight weeks ago a little known Sardinian entrepreneur crashed into our lives leaving a trail of carnage in his wake. At the beginning our collective blood boiled at the sheer audacity of it all and we railed at the thought of being swallowed up by a tempestuous imposter besmirched by dubious dealings.

Over time attitudes began to soften. He seduced us with his magnetism, passion and apparent desire to awaken football’s true sleeping giant. More importantly he began to direct his substantial wealth into an enterprise he had yet to control, while those charged with such deeds chose to abdicate responsibility. Now our Italian odyssey appears to be over. Massimo Cellino’s bid to be crowned the new ruler of the Ridings has been put to the sword and our future is far from certain. The Football League’s verdict has left the spectre of administration a distinct possibility.

In reality both Don Massimo and the game’s custodians are blameless in this current episode. The real hive of scum and villainy is to be found in the hearts and minds of our parasitic owners Gulf Finance House. The Bahraini investment bank has precipitated a financial and moral meltdown at the club they vowed to rebuild. It’s a treachery fuelled by greed, arrogance, cowardice and deceit. Some reports suggest they have refused to fund operations for over six months while scrambling for loans and inviting prospective bidders to foot the bill. They skulk in the shadows while a bruised manager is left to field a litany of unforgiving inquests and offer no apology for the anxiety and distress they callously create. During this painful period any pretence of a late promotion push has crumbled and our embattled boss is continually forced to plead for his job.

Whites 1 Trotters 5

Last April Brian McDermott swept into Elland Road on a wave of goodwill and optimism.  It was a mood that became further embellished by his humble attitude and thoughtful approach. His arrival provided a welcome respite for a fan base tortured by the belligerent self aggrandisement and agricultural tactics of Neil Warnock and introduced us to a thoughtful man who appeared to identify with the club, its fans and our perpetual struggle.

The new man spoke of his commitment to a long-term strategy based on teamwork and inclusion allied to a positive and attractive brand of football. It seemed our inexperienced owners had pulled off a major coup that both solidified their burgeoning reputation and cut away at the stagnation of the past. Twelve months on and the promise fuelled prose has been swamped by disappointment, frustration and anger.

Those departing Elland Road after the Bolton debacle could have been forgiven for casting an emotional farewell to their beleaguered manager. The way in which a mediocre opponent was allowed to ravage a capitulating host had the faithful squirming in bemusement and the sarcastic response that greeted Matt Smith’s late consolation said more than brickbats and vitriol ever could.

At the heart of the manager’s dramatic demise has been a number of mediocre signings and in particular those involving misfiring wingers Cameron Stewart and Jimmy Kebe. Both have come to symbolise a dysfunctional squad lacking conviction, courage and moral fibre and the pair’s continual promotion at the expense of home-grown talent, had left them vulnerable to the teeth of supporters’ stinging derision.

Whites 2 Royals 4

While Mr McDermott spent the build up to his Reading reunion deflecting criticism of his players, others were not so charitable. Former striker Bobby Davison endorsed a supporter’s  right to vent their disdain, while Don Massimo used a Sunday paper to exalt his desire to ‘kick the arse’ of every player involved, calling them ‘chickens’ and more importantly absolving the battered boss of blame. The Italian’s brief but explosive interlude may not have helped team morale but at least ensured Brian McDermott would be in the dugout to welcome old friends.

On the first anniversary of his surprising departure from Royal Berkshire, Brian McDermott chose a side shorn of the miscreant wide men and infused with the youthful vigour of Byram and Mowatt but the malaise continued. It is difficult to adequately quantify the pain and suffering endured in the first hour. Trailing by four our likeable leader appeared to be dead and buried until a late unexpected flurry softened the blow and in hindsight perhaps provided a stay of execution. I dearly hoped it would.

The drive home was a pretty emotional affair. Despite two ‘heavy and horrible’ home defeats in a matter of days, anger switched towards the incompetents at Gulf Finance House and their lamentable handling of proceedings. In his post match interview the manager admitted to being as confused as anyone and called for the clarity that a conclusion would bring. He had clearly become tired and disillusioned by the unstinting nature of the takeover related questioning. As always BBC Radio Leeds correspondent Adam Pope was the man charged with the unenviable task of probing the increasingly agitated McDermott. The self-confessed Evertonian has become consumed by his life with Leeds United and the strain in his voice had become palpable.

Vinnie And Mel

Clarets 2 Whites 1, Whites 2 Lions 1

In the build up to the tricky trip to Turf Moor Mr McDermott adopted a change of tone, defiance more in keeping with the belligerence of his predecessor and perhaps one of a man keenly aware that the support imbued by his illegitimate sacking had all but ebbed away. He remained convinced of his credentials and emphasised the importance of the long-term vision so hopelessly derailed by a season littered with abject performances. There was an insistence of on the need to stem the flow of managerial bloodletting and boardroom misdemeanour that has paralysed the club for over a decade.

It was a premise that the manager passionately argued a week later as we prepared for the visit of South London’s ‘racist vermin’. Despite Don Massimo’s latest courtroom tangle, Mr McDermott gave the clearest indication of his support by intimating that the errant Italian had the necessary ‘leadership’ and ‘clout’ with which to fulfil our unwieldy ambition.

On field matters improved slightly. The expected defeat in East Lancashire came but was in some ways underserved. The Whites dominated large parts of the contest but succumbed to Burnley’s clinically efficient approach. A meeting with relegation threatened Millwall saw flagging spirits lifted by the appearance of an old favourite. Twenty four years after playing an instrumental role in our Second Division championship success, Vinnie Jones returned to a club barely recognisable from its glorious past. A first win in six came courtesy of an ugly performance leaving Vincent’s half time rendition of ‘Marching On Together’ as the highlight of the afternoon.

Cherries 4 Whites 1, Whites 1 Rovers 2

The disarray enveloping the club may well have affected the squad’s preparations for the trip to Dorset but there is no excuse for the shambles that followed. At Dean Court the gulf between two mid table sides could not have been greater. Another sold out away end watched in horror as a swift and incisive Bournemouth side dismantled our pitiful offering. The travelling legions’ passion for the cause never wavered and in fact seemed to increase with every debilitating concession.

Doncaster Rovers arrived at Elland Road with the smell of cup final glory in their nostrils and they were right to do so. Life in GFH’s ‘custody’ had deteriorated further with the news that they had refused to fund operations until Don Massimo’s legal appeal was heard by the Football League. When asked about the situation Brian McDermott logically suggested that it was incumbent upon a club’s owners to meet its financial obligations but this old-fashioned attitude didn’t appeal to the charlatans in Bahrain, who argued that such a burden should fall on the Italian until political matters were resolved.

The spirit of turmoil past returned from the grave to ghoulishly stir the pot. Uncle Ken used his new digital radio enterprise to slam our current owners and profess his undying love for the club. He naturally made no mention of the fact that he was the one responsible for bringing GFH to the table while at the same time promising to leave us in ‘safe hands’.

The players took to the field having agreed to defer a proportion of their wages and duly delivered a proportion of a performance. Recent standards suggested that signalled an improvement. The first half continued in the ‘derelict and soulless’  fashion seen at Bournemouth. Rovers were allowed the freedom of Beeston to ease into a two goal lead and the discontent that chimed upon the half time whistle was both tired and demoralised.

Brian McDermott’s apparent lack of tactical knowledge and motivational skills has been a regular criticism for much of the season but the manager displayed a suggestion of both in time for the second half. The arrival of Michael Tonge brought assurance and ball control while fellow replacement Aidy White provided much needed verve. Ross McCormack again led by example and Cameron Stewart displayed improvement but despite camping out in the visitors’ half a successful fight back proved elusive.

 

 

 

Mick Jones

You sense a cooling of tempers and a softening of attitudes. The tempestuous month of February has given way to the more reposeful days of early March. The anti Cellino faction is less vociferous while others pose happily for photos with their potential leader. Some even travelled to West London dressed as cartoon Mafiosi in honour of Don Massimo’s dubious past. In an uplifting development the YEP reported a meeting between Mr Cellino and members of the club’s leading supporters groups, an assignation made at the request of the Italian and played out in luxury suite exactly four weeks to the day since that infamous Friday evening.

The spirit of cordiality has spread itself over team affairs. Brian McDermott speaks of a calmer period in which bridges have been built over the dinner table by enthusiastic conversations and Massimo’s role in attracting Premiership quality will have certainly smoothed the path. Connor Wickham joined fellow loan signing Jack Butland in Saturday’s starting line up and both were ‘keenly felt’ in an improved performance against the division’s big spenders. It appears that the manager has been given a mandate to bring in further recruits in what he described as ‘exciting times for us’.

A marriage born out of necessity appears to be having a positive influence. Running costs have been met, debts repaid and the addition of two top flight starlets suggest Mr Cellino has taken the charge hand in proceedings. Gulf Finance House has clearly run aground and if our old friend the Football League decides to reject the takeover, we could be in a bit of a pickle.

Don's Despair

It is not easy to describe the anguish of the last month. A time when a club whose supporters already well versed in the dark arts of self-destruction found themselves teetering on the brink of civil war. A time when its owners saw their previously progressive reputation shattered, in a misjudged game of high stakes poker riddled with farce and financial disintegration. We now appear to be at the mercy of a superstitious Italian with ‘marked criminal tendencies’. Many argue that Massimo Cellino possesses the wealth, business acumen and buccaneering spirit craved for so long. Others fear his chequered history and refuse to forget his clandestine role in the monstrous events of that fateful Friday night. Here is my brief account of a tumultuous month.

Part One: Whites 1 Town 1

This rather tepid and disjointed performance provided a brief moment of solace for a set of punch drunk supporters forced to contemplate boardroom fiasco and broken promises.  In the minutes leading up to kick off, Leeds fan, sponsor and prospective buyer Andrew Flowers used an official statement in which to launch a scathing attack on current owners Gulf Finance House and their handling of the proposed takeover deal.

Mr Flowers’ angry outburst was sparked by the investment bank’s reluctance to relinquish control of the club to his ‘Sports Capital’ consortium, while at the same time courting advances from rival bidders. Reports in the week suggesting that a group purporting to represent Cagliari president Massimo Cellini had been shown around the club’s estate seemed to be confirmed with the news of an expected Italian presence at the game. It was a development that Flowers described as ‘a breach of covenant with not only us but more importantly the fans’.

The ensuing chaos  not only spelled the end for the Sports Capital bid but also left Flowers’ bidding counterpart David Haigh suffocating in the disarray. Haigh’s position as an employee of GFH and his extensive involvement in their initial purchase saw him installed as the club’s Managing Director and was expected to pave the way for a wonderfully straight forward change of ownership but instead an acrimonious boardroom battle fuelled by recrimination, accusation and double talking left the proposed takeover in tatters. Mr Haigh’s only recourse was to admit defeat and he did so days later with a public statement citing lack of funds. Although he was keen to reaffirm a committment to the club, he was fully aware that his reputation had been severely damaged.

Lying in wait with the smell of blood in his nostrils was the flamboyant Cellino. The agricultural magnate appeared with a long list of criminal impropriety including fraud and embezzlement. His time in Sardinia had seen him dispose of coaches ‘like the Trojans slaughtered the Greeks’. The notion of such a man taking charge of affairs has led to some lamenting the halcyon days of a certain white bearded shylock and fearing an uncertain future.

On the field the boys in white struggled to subjugate a mediocre Ipswich side and fears regarding tactics and lack of purpose again resurfaced. Michael Brown the veteran midfielder and stubborn remnant of Simon Grayson’s era turned in a man of the match display, while our most recent acquisitions’ performed with varying degrees of impotency. Cameron Stewart created the opportunity that led to a hasty equalizer but did little else, while Jimmy Kebe turned in a performance that one fan described as the worst he’d seen in ten years. Typically the manager moved to again extol the virtues of his misfiring Mali winger but in an atmosphere as poisonous as this, the existence of an easy target provided some kind of consolation.

Smudger's Pain

Part Two: Whites 5 Terriers 1

I didn’t get any sleep that Friday night. I doubt many of us did. It was not only a public meltdown of a once great club but the reprehensible treatment of an honourable man. I must admit to shedding a few tears at the helplessness of it all. Perhaps it was time to draw a line under the whole sordid endeavour and choose a healthier pursuit. The last decade has taken its toll.

While the evening’s events had been scandalous they had not been altogether surprising. Gulf Finance House had spent the last few days looking increasingly susceptible to outside influence and although they had rejected Mr Cellino’s dubious request to allow long-term confidant Gianluca Festa on the bench for Ipswich, the collapse of David Haigh’s consortium seemed to strengthen the Italian’s hand. Brian McDermott appeared to be abandoned and by his pre match press conference he had the look of a man who’d been asked to weave his own noose.

Ross McCormack’s appearance on Sky Sports in the immediate aftermath of the ‘sacking’ was car crash television at its worst. Our club captain was caught in a moment of raw emotion by an institution that has played a key role in the modern game’s moral degradation. It was a malaise that the evening’s treachery encapsulated. The channel’s bloated and self obsessed ‘Deadline Day’ coverage seemed more interested in some second-rate midfielder’s aborted move to the Potteries rather than the calamitous events in the North. Football was at the point of devouring itself.

During the dead of the grimmest of nights Twitter bubbled with tales of signings, resignations and further sackings. Hundreds of fans descended on Elland Road to vent their frustration and the publication of a photograph placing Cellino at the scene only increased their anger. Firstly they formed a human barricade at the gates of the East Stand in a bid to cage their tormentors before chasing the Italian’s taxi around the car park to the chant of ‘We’re Leeds United and we’ll chase you all night’. West Yorkshire’s finest were called in to resolve the issue after an appeal by the car’s driver who claimed to be running out of fuel. It was a moment of humour that pierced the blackest of moods and was typical of a fan base that again was suffering at the hands of charlatans.

Those arriving at Elland Road for the match would have been forgiven for forgetting the identity of our opponents. The tragic farce of the night before had rendered football inconsequential and Huddersfield Town as irrelevant as ever. Buckling under the immense pressure of public disdain and sponsors’ threats to withdraw financial support, our spineless owners moved to reinstate Brian McDermott by insisting he hadn’t been sacked in the first place. An appearance in the dugout became a distinct possibility.

The demonstrations outside the East Stand were more muted than I’d expected and the prevailing tension seeped onto the pitch during a disappointing first half display in which both supporters and players appeared confused and drained of energy. The Terriers should have been two or three up before Ross McCormack’s scruffy equalizer just before the break. As it turned out the manager was still in absentia, perhaps wisely instructed to avoid the unfolding drama. Instead his long-term friend and associate Nigel Gibbs answered the embattled board’s eleventh hour call to take charge of team affairs and would deliver a telling half time team talk.

The Whites reappeared energised and shorn of the previous half’s paralysis, as if suddenly stung by the injustice and an increasingly feverish crowd’s protest at the maltreatment of an absent friend. Our bewildered opponents were swept away by the prevailing emotion and an exhilarating opponent hell-bent on some kind of redemption. Jimmy Kebe avoided challenges with the grace of a gazelle, Rudy Austin drove forward mercilessly, Luke Murphy prompted and probed and Ross McCormack was at his destructive best. Alex Mowatt concluded a surreal afternoon with a debut strike of real quality. It was as if the players had striven to underline the discontent with a performance that honoured their manager.

The euphoria of those post match hours combined with further boardroom machinations served to mask the malaise and allowed us the fleeting hope that the immeasurable damage from that shambolic Friday evening could be repaired. Official confirmation of the manager’s reinstatement was accompanied by reports that David Haigh had spent Saturday afternoon entertaining rival bidders.

The squalid behaviour of both owner and suitor was emphasised by the press conference that signalled our manager’s return to the front line. While Mr McDermott spoke with humility, dignity and respect, GFH and Cellino were left to desperately backtrack from their actions. There was a feeling that such a stinging public rebuke could cause a breakdown in cordiality between the pair, leaving investment opportunities for others.

You are the Ref Brian McDermott

Part Three: Glovers 1 Whites 2, Seagulls 1 Whites 0, Boro 0 Whites 0

It became clear in the build up to the trip to Somerset that Don Massimo was the only player in town. A breakdown in negotiations with other prospective buyers and GFH’s refusal to continue discussions were accompanied by rumours of further financial strife twisting their collective arm. By Friday evening contracts were exchanged and we were left to ponder the prospect of life under a tempestuous Italian.

While the Football League’s slow and painful process of ratifying the deal left boardroom matters in a state of suspended animation, the small matter of football reared its head. Despite returning to the fray with Massimo’s praises ringing in his ears, Brian McDermott remained keenly aware of the uncertainty. There is an episode of the classic seventies police drama Kojak, in which a young mob linked hood falls foul of impending gangland warfare and is found strung up in a meat factory, the ungrateful recipient of ‘butane hotfoot’. Despite claims to the contrary the manager carries the look of a man who metaphorically fears a similar fate.

The victory at Huish Park came courtesy of a spirited fight back but came with little quality and was followed by two more lacklustre and disjointed performances. Defeat on the South Coast saw the hefty travelling numbers suffer at the hands of a club whose supporters resemble Terry and June on a picnic, while Don Massimo’s first taste of English football came in the shape of a miserable encounter at the Riverside. He would not have been impressed.

5ft 4 And Hard As Nails

There have been a number of occasions in our glorious past when a home defeat to Leicester City was deemed unacceptable but in today’s tumultuous times it constitutes a restoration of pride. Brian McDermott and Leeds United responded to the growing antipathy with an excellent performance laced with verve and vigour that at times had our lofty opponents struggling to cope.

Driven on by an Elland Road crowd eager for redemption and spurred on by a stirring tribute to a departing hero, the Whites drove forward purposefully. New captain Ross McCormack spurned a number of first half opportunities before Leicester did what leaders do and picked our collective pockets, courtesy of a late David Nugent poke. The manager later revealed that the acquisition of speedy wingers had enabled him to field a side cast in his own image. It was a luxury that by his own admission had up until now eluded him.

Despite the desperately disappointing denouement Mr McDermott would have considered it a positive end to a disruptive week. Not only had he been required to skilfully field difficult questions regarding team affairs but also those generated by  further boardroom shenanigans.

Early indications suggested that our Bahraini overlords were indulging themselves in a touch of ‘political posturing’ designed to frustrate David Haigh’s attempts to buy the club. Our Managing Director’s partner in the acquisition and fellow Leeds fan Andrew Flowers publicly voiced his frustration with proceedings, amidst reports that the ongoing tomfoolery had curtailed a bid to sign Brighton striker Ashley Barnes. If this was indeed the case Brian McDermott was too professional to mention it, instead choosing to behave with the dignity and class that we have come to expect from our quietly spoken chief.

The ongoing malaise took another bizarre turn late last night with claims that both Haigh and Flowers were courting Cagliari president Massimo Cellino, leading many to question whether the pair have enough money to put an end to this painfully drawn out affair. Reputations would appear to be on the line.

A week of turmoil and the childish petulance of faceless financiers was put into perspective by the death of former captain Bobby Collins. When Don Revie persuaded the pint-sized Scot to forsake Merseyside for a lower division in 1962, he initiated our irresistible rise from provincial strugglers to the upper echelons of European football. Standing at just 5 ft 4 inches Collins was a midfield ‘colossus’ who led us to our first major cup final in 1965 and played a major role in nurturing the raft of legends that quickly followed. There is no doubt that his signing changed the fabric of our club for ever.

Billy's Despair

It’s all gone wrong. Zal’s completely lost it, Lees is shit and Pearce is like an Alsatian puppy chasing a balloon.

It was supposed to be a time for redemption but only served to recreate the squalor of Spotland. The week began encouragingly enough. Flushed by the promise of fresh investment from the impending takeover or ‘share transaction’ as an official statement like to put it, Leeds United answered their manager’s call for new recruits.

Jimmy Kebe and Cameron Stewart arrived from Crystal Palace and Hull Tigers respectively with the dual responsibility of lifting sagging spirits and addressing the ravenous appetite for speed and width which had been painfully neglected since the departure of Max Gradel three years ago. The club’s desire to act decisively in a youthful transfer window coupled with progressive off field developments appeared to brighten our collective outlook.

What transpired at Hillsborough was a ‘public embarrassment’ and plunged Brian McDermott into an atmosphere of toxic recrimination from which he may struggle to survive. Leeds fans are in general an honest breed ingrained with  a sense of realism that has been forged in the furnace of unfulfilled dreams and broken promises. Most would begrudgingly accept fleeting embarrassment if it betrayed the development of a renewed style and purpose but nine months into Mr McDermott’s rein such luxuries appear to be unforthcoming.

After the purchase of much-needed pace and verve the manager chose a formation that suited neither and the ensuing performance plumbed the depths of human despair. Despite another rudderless shambles devoid of confidence and technique it is the failure to motivate his players in the wake of the cup debacle that perhaps is the biggest cause for concern.

There is no doubt that Brian McDermott has made laudable attempts to improve the club’s long term prospects through a reorganisation of the scouting network and youth development but is struggling to address our more immediate concerns. A grasp of tactical knowledge and first team coaching appears to be almost non-existent and our beleaguered boss needs to prove he is capable of both.