Still, this is the week that pre-season got underway, when football’s greatest love affair has been rekindled and a Norway based Jamaican who nobody had heard of before Friday has been accredited with LUFC legend status, so hopes are rekindled...
Roll on Farsley Celtic!!
Monday 9th July
It’s the week when pre-season is upon us and ahead of preparations kicking-off on Wednesday, Neil Warnock offers some thoughts to the official website. The boss has high expectations of his troops and reveals that some have already returned ahead of the 11th July start date. As for the rest of the players; he has no undue concerns regarding their levels of professionalism:
“Lads look after themselves nowadays and so they should. It’s a different ball game to what it what it used to be. We’ll look to have a good week’s training before we start with the game at Farsley”
The comments go some way towards putting to bed the rumour that the hotdog man who’s been pedalling takeover rumours on twitter was using Billy Paynter as his source. Meanwhile, the announcement that the ticket office will be closed on Friday for a systems upgrade inevitably leads to a new wave of TOMA conspiracy theories...
Tuesday 10th July
Away from the madness of the present, time is taken to pay tribute to the man who made Leeds United what it is; on what would’ve been Don Revie’s 85th birthday, the official site pays the ultimate tribute it can, by publishing a piece completely free of factual inaccuracies and grammatical errors... a humbling epitaph indeed.
Another applaudable announcement is that of a freeze on matchday ticket prices at Elland Road, ensuring that admission will be pegged at ‘wholly excessive’ as opposed to ‘exorbitant in the extreme’ levels for the coming 10 months. The seeming generosity of the board in making this gesture is immediately undermined by the announcement that the season opener, the lunchtime televised fixture Wolves will be a Category A game.
Away from Elland Road, Alan Smith agrees to join MK Dons on a 2 year deal, ensuring that after countless transfer windows spanning many years, LUFC supporting keyboard warriors the world over, will have to find another player to come to virtual fisticuffs over... it’s been emotional.
Wednesday 11th July
Finally, it’s back! Pre-season training commences; the first sign of the impending new campaign is upon us, a chance to sample that initial tingle of excitement as supporters are presented with an opportunity to see the players, both new signings and old favourites, back on the training pitches of Thorp Arch. New kits, new start, new season, new hope... this is what we’ve been waiting for!
Imagine then the scenes across the four corners of the globe when those first, hotly anticipated photos are posted on the website...
... and the first shot is of Paul Connolly and Danny Pugh! Reality check, anyone? Still, there are also shots of new signings, Jason Pearce and Adam Drury to at least satiate the hunger for something positive to cling on to.
Rather adding fuel to the optimism bonfire is the announcement of Paddy Kenny’s arrival at Elland Road. Neil Warnock acknowledges that Kenny’s arrival was one of the worst kept secrets in football, saying:
“I don’t think you can keep secrets at Elland Road. Somebody knows everything”
Does TOMA not ring a bell, Neil?
Regardless, Warnock’s joy at securing Kenny’s signature is indisputable and he proclaims the signing of the keeper to be “the most important I’ll make while I’m at Leeds United” – Danny Webber is understood to be distraught.
Warnock added that the club were continuing to “look all over the place” as part of the recruitment drive; a tearful Glynn Williams is thought to be locked in a dark room, scouring ‘Football Manager 2012’ database for talent, day and night.
For his part, Paddy is equally delighted to seal his move to Elland Road. His arrival marks a new chapter in one of football’s most enduring love stories: following on from Bury, Sheffield United and QPR, Leeds United represents the fourth club that Warnock has brought to Kenny to; the pair seemingly inseperable - an all too rare, loving, father and son dynamic, existing in an otherwise sadly, sentimentality starved business, the essence of which was beautifully distilled into imagery by howsonisnow.com...
For his part, Paddy says all the right things, ticking off every cliché that any footballer joining a new club should adhere to; truly a text book performance by our new ‘Number 1’.
It’s a day where exciting news just doesn’t relent as the club also reveals a major overhaul for LUTV; promises are made of a whole raft of new and exciting content, this includes more clips, interviews and behind the scenes footage. Of more concern is the axing of the daily ‘We Are Leeds’ show – what is to become of Ben Fry?!
Another new feature to enhance the matchday experience is the new ‘tunnel cam’; whether this new innovation is purely an initiative by the club, or rather a collaboration with West Yorkshire police, with a keen eye on El Hadji Diouf’s next visit is unclear.
It is also announced that Billy’s Bar and Howard’s Restaurant will be closed over the weekend due to an “external event”. The event in question is the annual Jehovah’s Witnesses’ convention – it seems that even Ken Bates’ businesses can be disrupted by ‘Acts of God’.
Thursday 12th July
Neil Warnock confirms that Andy Gray has joined the club on a two week trial, though is quick to dismiss notions that his presence will automatically pave the way for a move. Talking further about the personnel currently at Thorp Arch, a rag tag collection of first teamers, squad players, those transfer listed, youth teamers and trialists; he labels them a “strange mix”... shorthand doubtless, for there being a lot of shit still hanging around.
He also mentions the departure of Adam Clayton to Huddersfield, intimating that the ‘occasional action’ midfielder had secured the contract he wanted at the Gapharm; that’ll be one that doesn’t truly recognise his ability to influence games then...
Most disturbing revelation of the week is that the new home and away shirts are also going to be available in ‘Bodyfit’ sizes. It’s notable that the ‘Bodyfit’ shirts are priced £5 higher for adult sizes; doubtless a small tax levied especially against those posers who want to make fellow Leeds fans feel inadequate by finding a new vehicle through which to flaunt their gym toned torsos. Thankfully it will equally serve to penalise those who overdose on the pies but are curious enough afflict those around them by trying out the new option. For once, I can only praise LUFC’s mercenary approach... though maybe a £20 premium next season, eh?
Friday 13th July
Although not one governed by superstition, today sees a number of stories break that suggest that today’s date has exerted a strange influence over goings on...
At the LUFC v West Yorkshire Police court case, Shaun Harvey contests the requirement of the club to pay what he considers excessive policing costs, citing the economic benefits the club brings to the local economy. Added to the earlier contention that the risk levels attached to many Leeds games are ridiculously exaggerated, there is a real possibility that our CEO’s final act in charge may be to talk a degree of sense...hell, we might even win a court case!
Harry Kewell is voted by an esteemed panel of 15,000 judges as the greatest Australian footballer of all time; plucked from a shortlist that didn’t even feature Jacob Burns or Shane Candsell-Sheriff, the crocked morality vacuum who’s spent the last few years of his career underwhelming spectators in Turkey and Australia with his talent, somehow beat Mark Viduka to the title. It is thought that the judges are also planning to afford Peter Sutcliffe the title of ‘Greatest Living Yorkshireman’.
Richard Naylor returns to the club to gain experience as a coach; he’ll be doing for it Redders as part of the youth set-up; it’s unfortunate that those under his tutelage are probably too young to remember his days as a solid defender. Best dig out the League One era videos...
Leeds table a bid for a player that is met with universal approval; the player in question is Jamaican international, Rodolph Austin, a defensive midfielder, built like several adjoining brick shithouses, and possessing tackle reminiscent of David Batty. YouTube clips (the scouting tool of choice for Leeds fans these days) and a cluster of rave reviews from Scandanavian Whites elevates Rodolph to cult status within hours; by Friday evening, the local Brann newspaper website is running a story about #RodolphAustinfacts – a derivative of #Brownfacts which in turn was shamelessly based on #ChuckNorrisfacts – trending on twitter.
|He's Leeds, he just don't know he is...|
Out of contract in December and as a result, currently available for transfer at a price rumoured to be in the region of £350,000, Rodolph seems too good to be true. While the current regime and Ipswich Town still exist, that may yet prove to be the case.
Elsewhere, after another TOMA speculation frenzy, Neil Warnock appears on Sky Sports News and reveals exactly what could be realistically expected about the takeover – absolutely nothing. Predictably the textbook playing down of the situation is still enough to push some of the more extreme victims of TOMA fever towards the Prozac.
Offering rather more excitement is serial twitter bullshitter, @RyzinhoUK who assures all Leeds fans that the takeover would definitely be confirmed by 9pm, otherwise he’d be deleting his account – he had every right to be confident as THREE separate sources had confirmed as much...nobody else has even managed to secure one!
Predictably, come 9pm nothing had happened and @RyzinhoUK remains, albeit many of his followers don’t, while those that stick around, mainly do so to articulate their ‘disappointment’ at his bullshit... some of it isn’t pretty! The tweeter in question has since deleted his entire history of takeover tweets – another idiot who may have just learned a valuable lesson.
Saturday 14th July
The YEP confirm (several days late) that one of the trialists at Thorp Arch is Martin Crainie, now a free agent having declined a new contract at Coventry City. Those who’ve seen him speak very highly of him, some even suggest he’s a better player than previously mooted Sky Blues target, Richard Keogh. Others however remain haunted by the last occasion that someone spoke the words “Crainie”, “Leeds United” and “left back” in the same sentence.
Bolton remain favourites to land Andy Lonergan for a price tag believed to be around the £200,000 mark, although rival clubs are also reported to be in the mix. Here’s hoping there’s another Championship club is actually willing to offer him the ‘Number 1’ shirt.
Sunday 15th July
A report on The Mail on Sunday website suggests that Leeds are preparing a £3m bid for Craig MacKail-Smith. No sources are mentioned, no quotes provided, nor no heed is paid to Neil Warnock’s remarks about being thrifty with his transfer budget...I’m guessing it’s a no-goer.