Cherry Cruyff

It’s a shame that the second half took place at all. It was so far removed from the first and dampened the mood somewhat. Perhaps it’s indicative of where our young team is at the moment as it struggles to grasp a foothold in an unforgiving division. Maybe tempering expectation is no bad thing.

By half time the old house was as contented as a newly born baby suckling on a plump breast. Coach Redfearn’s youthful charges had set about this ‘must win’ contest with the verve and vitality of two Alsatians fighting over a pork chop and their efforts were rewarded with a wonderful display of attacking football.  Watching on in pure rapture at an imperious and wanton destruction of a hapless opponent, I began to wonder about the days when Don Revies’ ‘football gods’ unleashed hell on their mortal inferiors. Is this how it felt to view such plenitude?

Both performance and victory will have provided some light relief for our beleaguered president and perhaps served to harden his determination to succeed. Don Massimo’s chequered past and temperamental present leave him open to vilification from the media and his motives continually questioned by many of his own supporters.

Amidst the talk about yachts and ‘coach killing’ little is mentioned when he steps in to fund a loss making charity event and even less is said about the interminable battle to lift the club from the scum and villainy of previous regimes. In a week of media interviews the Italian hinted at the strength sapping mess left by the ungodly greed of Bahraini Bandits and a ‘bearded tumour’. He also pointed to a lack of respect and the Football League’s fear that a healthy Leeds United will wreak swift and merciless revenge on its antagonists. It was an argument that struck a chord with many.



Sniff And Bill

By half time members of a meagre and browbeaten crowd were discussing Neil Redfearn’s return to the academy in terms of ‘when’ and not ‘if’. The first half was a pretty laboured affair despite the efforts of Warnock, Antenucci and our twinkle toed Brazilian man child. A desire to force the pace seemed to be constantly thwarted by sloppy passing and a referee’s lust for the limelight.

The second period proved to be as frustrating as the first had been impoverished. Alex Mowatt’s searing double strike deserved to wrest success from an awkward evening but was undermined by the ineptitude of others. Marco Silvestri allowed a weak effort to dribble between his thighs following even more shoddy defending, before an attention seeking match official decided his time had come. When Referee Graham Salisbury awarded the Addicks a controversial point saving penalty he did so with such relish, you would have been forgiven for thinking it had been a premeditated manoeuvre. The thrill of it all would have given the whistle happy Salisbury a dribble between his thighs too no doubt.


On the surface Neil Redfearn appears to be a humble and quietly spoken individual but my word he’s got gumption. As well as being the only man with the confidence to refer to the President by his Christian name, he had the audacity to stand toe to toe with our impulsive Italian during this week’s contract negotiations.

When former Leeds not so favourite and double European champion John McGovern managed a teenage ‘Redders’ in the struggling Bolton side of the early eighties, he found a tough and straight talking character that bellied the inexperience of youth and despite rumours to the contrary it appears that such qualities are still respected at Elland Road these days. Throughout a summer of chaos and cuts the then Academy Director saw his reputation enhanced with an owner smitten by the quality on show and the warmth is genuinely reciprocated.

In a week where we again suffered the mockery of media and supporters alike, there was a sense of real positivity surrounding the appointment. Fears that developments could damage our burgeoning youth set up were laid to rest somewhat and an expectation that the new man will at some point fall victim to Don Massimo’s hot temper and cold steel were tempered by the realisation that the local boy’s time had come.

We haven’t triumphed in Cardiff since George McCluskey’s comedy winner nearly thirty years ago and to expect a sudden change in fortune at this time was perhaps unrealistic. The White’s battled gamely but succumbed to another second half collapse sparked by deflections and ‘comedy bandbox’ defending, leaving the travelling masses to contemplate the potential of another skirmish with relegation.

Bates' Bile

While international hiatuses offer solace from the anguish of match day combat they are seldom shorn of incident. This time the Ridings throbbed with the vastly differing emotions caused by two men at the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of both age and distinction.

Those of us that had naively hoped to see Kenneth William Bates expunged from our consciousness were given a rude awakening with the news that the ‘odious old goat’ will be allowed to continue his morbid fascination with our club. Don Massimo had agreed to allow a new look Radio Bates a slice of match day commentary rights, in a bid to stave off the impending courtroom battle stemming from Uncle Ken’s sacking by former owners GFH. In a decade of bile soaked mismanagement our former leader had used the defunct ‘Yorkshire Radio’ to torment both supporters and former directors of a pensionable age and now used his new outlet to trumpet the announcement in typically self-congratulatory fashion. Many fans reacted angrily to the taunts amidst fears of a return but such thoughts appear unfounded. The club made no mention of the development and a source close to the president moved swiftly to assure the restless.

The highlight of the international break was without doubt the development squad’s gorgeous six goal demolition of Doncaster Rovers. It was a result that augmented the first team’s perceived improvement and enhanced the view that better times were ahead. The performance showcased the club’s impressive mix of local and continental youth and further embellished the reputation of a prodigious Brazilian teenager with the facial features of a pre pubescent tomboy.

Adryan Tavares de Oliveira’s arrival ‘on loan with a view to a permanent deal’ was precipitated by week of intense dialogue between agents and various clubs with every whisper enveloped by speculation and intrigue. Dubbed the ‘new Kaka’ in his homeland the youngster had struggled to adapt to such platitudes but had still attracted the attention of our wily Italian owner. Despite not kicking a first team ball in anger Adryan was already enjoying the divine status given to him by a devoted section of supporters keen to anoint a new messiah. Our growing legion of first team coaches had thus far resisted such hysterical overtures but the Donny display lead many to believe that a small town in South Yorkshire would provide the setting for the second coming.

Hey Boots

Millers 2 Whites 1

In his ridiculously abrubt tenure Darko Milanic had proven himself to be a quiet and thoughtful man and under the circumstances it was just as well. Much of the noisy pre match build up had emanated from our Southerly cousins and in particular their belligerent and dislikeable manager Steve Evans. The Scot had spent almost two weeks stoking the cup final fervour with constant and almost deferential reference to a fallen giant’s glorious past and was keen to outline his desire to vanquish such an illustrious opponent.

To the disappointment of many our Latin American man-child was only good for a place on the bench but it didn’t seem to matter. By half time Rotherham appeared to have succumbed to the pressure of their leader’s verbal foreplay as a slick Whites breezed into a deserved lead. Our second half disintegration was as inexplicable as it was grotesque and the travelling hordes looked on in horror as flabby mascara clad Evans bounced around like a lunatic while his charges bullied our pitiful band. The final whistle sparked typical bickering between a bemused fan base keen to assess the merits of Darko’s continental style in a league allegedly brimming with long balls and physical presence. It was another sickening denouement that ensured another miserable weekend.

 Canaries 1 Whites 1

A trip to Carrow Road is not the sort of journey relished by a little known manager without a win to his name. The ‘second biggest club in East Anglia’ are another whose supporters seem intent on manufacturing some kind of rivalry and it is one in which they have generally prevailed over the last few years.

Darko’s tactics and team selection caused the usual debate and allowed the conspiracy theorists their fun. When the self style Norfolk giants’ god forsaken goal music chimed after an hour we all feared for the worst until Adryan, Antenucci and Doukara crafted an immediate response. Most of us would have considered it a pleasing evening until the spectre of racism reared its ugly head.

Whites 1 Wolves 2

Don’t let it be said that Massimo Cellino doesn’t listen. Another ugly Elland Road experience left the old house chanting Neil Redfearn’s name and social media networks ringing to cries of ‘sack the useless twat’. By 6pm the call had been answered and another mid-term sacking had ensued.

The merits of Darko’s continental style had been a cause for much debate since the Slovenian’s arrival just thirty-two days before. A tame surrender at Griffin Park was disappointing but not unusual and two home draws that followed suggested improvement. It was a Friday night collapse in Rotherham that set the alarm bells ringing. Quite why Darko chose to conservatively protect a lead in a contest we had hitherto dominated was as inexplicable as it was submissive and invited an onslaught that bellied our opponents’ ordinariness. An unconvincing point in Norfolk lifted the gloom but another negative tactical switch against Wolves stole abject defeat from the clutches of heartening triumph and sparked an unforgiving president into ruthless action.

Don Massimo was quick to explain his reasoning and apologise for another mistake but it didn’t lift the despond. Albert Einstein once remarked that ‘insanity was doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results’. Such a rationale suggests il Presidente suffers more than most. We have learned to live with his love for camping out on the edge of legality but the constant procession of managerial casualties continue to upset and hurt. Those fans that weren’t involved in the usual navel gazing were left to spend Saturday night vulnerable to the derision of others. Most of our antagonists could only dream of our glorious history and untapped potential but the promised rebirth seems as far away as ever.


It was a rewarding but ultimately frustrating experience. Those departing the old house will have tempered the disappointment of a draw with the promise of brighter things ahead. We should have been out of sight by the time Tom ‘Ten Bob Head’ Lees and his cronies drew first blood. Their celebrations betrayed the importance of a cup final goal and gave their pitifully low away following something to hang on to. It seemed another commemorative DVD was a distinct possibility until Giuseppe Bellusci’s ice cool finish earned a share of the spoils. The goal was the least that both player and teammates deserved following a crisp and energetic passing display which forced visiting keeper Kieran Westwood into a number of athletic exertions.

Whatever confusion and carnage follows in Don Massimo’s wake, there is no doubt that our Italian revolution has engendered a playing style befitting a club of our stature. Strikers with the confidence to keep the ball in tight areas and midfielders showing authority in possession are a joy to watch, while the theory that a centre back can caress a pass on the chest and lay a deft flick is like a new science in our house. The defender in question was the combative but supremely gifted Bellusci whose goal marked an impressive all round display that will further aid his ascension into cult status. He was even seen admonishing Wednesday’s goal scorer Chris Maguire when the midfielder chose to petulantly goad the Kop end following his neat finish.

Years of prehistoric football methods have weighed heavily on our collective shoulders and you can taste the palpitations when someone over plays in the defensive third but newcomers like Bellusci, Thomasso Bianchi and Mirko Antenucci appear up to the task. Despite Sky Sports’ resident bonehead Peter Beagrie’s assertion that UEFA pro licensed, multiple national champion and serial Champions League protagonist Darko Milanic isn’t qualified to coach in England’s second tier, this performance suggested our humble and quietly spoken coach can cause a surprise.

Lounging Around

It was a fixture that spawned another impulsive sacking and fuelled a growing debate surrounding the president’s interference in team affairs. This low-key, midweek fixture against nobody in particular, produced another telling indication of the interminable chaos at the heart of Don Massimo’s Leeds.

Club consultant Graham Bean’s departure came after the former FA mandarin consented to Reading’s request for a twenty-four hour delay to proceedings. A plea that came as a result of the Royals’ televised Sunday joust with Wolverhampton Wanderers. It was an action that found its roots in both good faith and fair-mindedness but came crucially without the president’s blessing and further agitated a hot-blooded Italian already angered by television’s treatment of the club’s fixture list. The subsequent fall out produced an unedifying spectacle in which Mr Bean labelled the club ‘a madhouse’ and his former paymaster ‘a c#*t’.

The drive into Elland Road was accompanied by local radio’s mischievous suggestion that full back Stephen Warnock had become another victim of Don Massimo’s infamous temperament. There were claims that the player’s omission had come at the president’s behest and although unsubstantiated, the rumours were not beyond the realms of one’s mental compass. Warnock has been one our most consistent performers this season and in his post match interview Darko struggled to outline the reasoning behind such a snub.

Despite the unpredictability of the club’s internal politics the Italian revolution seems to have provided a telling improvement to our side’s playing style. Opening exchanges saw the type of passing football that we hope will eventually lay the technically moribund efforts of recent times to rest but a lack of end product crippled any promise in the final third. Over complication and waning concentration allowed Reading and their ‘slimy get’ of a manager a firm foothold in the game and although one fan blamed Darko’s dubious substitutions for the second half malaise, control had been lost well before then.


Don Massimo

It was always going to happen. The only surprise is that it didn’t come sooner. Our colourful, impulsive and often wayward owner had indulged in a month’s worth of cogitation before finally deciding to end our ninety-five year wait for a continental coach. Despite Don Massimo’s ingrained urge to gamble and the newcomer’s relative obscurity, Darko Milanic’s arrival did not imbue the type of grief-stricken hysteria that embraced his predecessor David Hockaday.

Slovenian football finds its history entwined with that of the supremely gifted technocrats and perennial underachievers of the former Yugoslavia and it was a point respectfully acknowledged by the vast majority of supporters. Unfortunately we live in an era that pays scant regard to the lost histories of such nations and as a result this newly formed country finds itself languishing in the backwaters of the European game and open to derision from notable observers.

Darko TooPhil Neville took to the airwaves to air his disgust at the ‘stupid appointment’ of ‘this Slovenian lad’ that he’d ‘never heard of’ and paid no respect to a former international who’d been a serial trophy winner as both player and a coach. It was mood shared by the majority of media outlets keen to whip up another managerial controversy. Mr Neville’s unwanted interference was given short shrift by most and led one fan to retort ‘Phil Neville is a twat of the highest order that should be bummed by every able-bodied male over the age of 18 until he falls over and farts the white of Leeds’.

To be fair to the Mancunian and his under fire back passage, the comments were sparked by Don Massimo’s decision to overlook the credible claims of Neil Redfearn and it was a salient point. Most of us would have been delighted to see our academy director thrust into the front line on a permanent basis but generally accepted our leader’s assertion that his current role is too important to disrupt.

Our upturn in fortunes had presented the new man with a bittersweet introduction to English life. Mr Redfearn’s successful redeployment managed to mould our rag-tag bunch into a formidable force and had not only seen his stock rise but also left Darko with little room in which to manoeuvre. A prolonged slip of recent standards would see the vultures circle with a ready-made replacement identified.

The new era began in less than auspicious fashion with an anaemic and limp reverse in West London, a defeat stained further by a team sheet that saw serial underachievers Morison, Tonge and Murphy on the bench at the expense of the untapped and exciting talents of Adryan, Montenegro, Benedecic and Billy Sharpe. Don Massimo provided the highlight of the day by appearing in the away end pressed intimately against his followers but would have been alarmed at the way his side meekly succumbed to an energetic and inarguably better Brentford team. Darko Milanic requires time to prove that he isn’t Mr Hockaday with an accent and a tan but in the parallel universe of Leeds United, time is in scant supply.