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the square ball week

the square ball week

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Image from www.howsonisnow.com
No messing: this feels good. Three wins from three; nine points from nine; scoring four against the local upstarts and, even giving them a couple of goals made it all the better, because there are few better results that a 4-2 win: there never was a boring 4-2 win.

Saturday was all about putting babies back in their prams. There was Simon Grayson, of course, and while I have a lot of time for this man and wish him all the best, we can’t have him beating Leeds. Adam Clayton had some similar goodwill, but his penalty celebration (and subsequent twittering) made him a very easy symbol of the day, the kind of symbol that you point at, and laugh at. Put Town keeper Alex Smithies in that bracket too: on the morning of the game he told the Huddersfield Examiner about the ten seconds it took him to turn down a move to Leeds; in the afternoon, he helpfully chucked the ball in his net to get the Leeds comeback underway, a ‘well deserved smack with the karma fish’ according to Jenny Berry at Three Colours White. And then there was the fans.

It’s hard to know what to make of the anti-semitic chanting that was reportedly directed at Leeds; although Anthony Clavane’s books have opened up the story of United’s large Jewish following, Leeds has never been a club that has deliberately aligned itself along any particular religious lines, making this sort of abuse seem bizarrely misdirected as much as offensive. There’s no mistaking a fascist salute, though, or the malevolent intentions behind one.

The actions of the few, though, should not prevent us from laughing at the many, which is what local derbies are all about – as long as you win. And of the current run of wins, this was achieved with the most swagger of the three: Tonge got lucky with his goal, but Norris’s finish was a sweet thing, while Becchio’s low fifteen yard shot was only bettered by his high fifteen yard header. Leeds were “passing it around like a poor man’s Barcelona,” according to Adam Geary at The Scratching Shed, where Steve Turner had previewed the game by getting a few digs in on the Terriers’ fans. Rachel Stanton at Right in the Gary Kellys lorded in the laughing, too: “We All Hates Leeds Scum was with mostly cheers and laughter until we decided to join in with their little song: the look on their faces was priceless.” For Adam Jubb at Fear and Loathing, the story could be told through the changed fortunes of two men:

“Neil Warnock, having earlier chosen to greet Clayton’s inflammatory goal celebration with mocking applause, now received an ovation of his own. While one man returns home to toast victory, another cries into his Nando’s. That’s football.”

Speaking of football: Takeover update, because we can still officially call it that until December 21st. The man who is looking to take Ken Bates’s chair (I’d suggest getting that reupholstered) came under scrutiny in the Mail on Sunday’s Sporting Intelligence column, with question marks in red pen arising over the withdrawal from public record of website registrations, claims about awards awarded/not awarded made on those websites, and the suggestion that GFH’s experience of “large scale transactions in the sporting sector” amount to sponsoring a racing driver and building a municipal stadium. David Haigh’s response came on Twitter, where he referred ominously to libel lawyers, but journalist Nick Harris didn’t back down, offering to put his questions to Haigh on stage in the Corn Exchange. While a lot of fans are waiting for the 21st for a clearer picture, I’m not sure why we need to wait for clarity about GFH’s past: surely libel lawyers aren’t required to produce a photo or two of the ‘Um Al Hassam Stadium’?

In any case, by far the most worrying part of the article did relate to the future:

Asked how GFH Capital intend to run a football club with no prior experience in the sector, Haigh’s spokesman said Leeds’s chief executive, Shaun Harvey, is experienced and is expected to stay, and that Bates ‘has a lot of experience running football clubs’.

I’m not sure Bates and Harvey would be my first choice to help guide GFHC into a bright new era at Elland Road, given the dimness of the last eight years. And it seems I’m not alone: Leeds United Supporters’ Trust released the results of its post-takeover announcement consultation with its members, with the vast majority of more than 2,000 respondents wanting LUST to question GFHC on just why Bates is still here and exactly what he will be doing. The theme running through all the answers to this survey is clear: LUST’s members want to give GFHC a chance to prove themselves, but don’t see any reason not to scrutinise our new owners as closely as we did our old owners – or wished we did. At Right in the Gary Kellys, meanwhile, Matthew Mckeith wonders if GFHC can ride the current upturn in positivity and offer half season tickets before flogging the full size things for next year.

Other things: if you’re looking to buy me something for Christmas, I’m quite taken by this print of Leeds legend Mick Jones (our famous number nine, not Warnock’s assistant) – in a limited edition of eleven, you’d better move fast if you’re to get it soon enough for Santa to wrap it for me. Also linked to the glory days are the beginnings of a campaign for a blue plaque to be erected in honour of Albert Johanneson, the black South African winger who was a flash for Leeds in the early sixties. I think this is a great idea, although the article mentions finding a site for it at Elland Road; could this plaque find a better home somewhere in the city itself? While Elland Road is the only place for us, Leeds city sometimes feels a bit detached from Leeds United, and this could be a good opportunity to reconnect the two.

On Saturday we reconnect with the Clough family at Pride Park, where the downside of this good run rears its head – we surely can’t win four, can we? An unchanged line up would be the obvious thing, but there is good news coming from the treatment room: Rodolph Austin’s recovery has been so quick it’s ridiculous; it finally looks like Davide Somma will play a game of football again soon; and Andy Hughes is almost fit again. Okay, I know he doesn’t play for us anymore, but having Andrew10dog on Twitter is almost as good as having him back in the side. Also good news is Paul Rachubka’s loan move to Accrington, where he conceded three on his debut yet still won man of the match. Maybe his luck has changed? Let’s hope ours hasn’t. Remember, Stanley: Rachubka is for life, not just for Christmas. We don’t want to find him in a basket on the front step on Boxing Day.


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