the square ball weekBack
The new issue of The Square Ball is now available
There are three vital ingredients that make a new Leeds United season. Boundless optimism, outright confidence, and a new issue of The Square Ball. Hmm. Will depressed as all hell, worried like anything, and a new issue of The Square Ball do for now?
I had expected parts one and two to be a cinch for this year, but I suppose you can’t make too many party plans when Ken Bates is the man holding the balloon pump. The takeover talk started at the end of May, and surely we should have been arrogant billionaires long before now; the squad rebuilding started even earlier than that, and yet rather than Messi signing, or even just Maynard, we appear to be ‘snapping up’ Frederique Piquaian – Picaquei – Pquiannie – that French donkey from West Ham.
The Scratching Shed are dubbing every day groundhog day where the takeover is concerned, as the speculation about who, what and when, that we all thought would be cleared up before the Olympics, has stretched past the Community Shield and even the League Cup first round. If you listen to Neil Warnock, the FA Cup Final could have come and gone before any of this is over. I reckon Colin has his tongue in his cheek there, but it does feel like the football is on hold until this is settled one way or another. Leeds could end up starting 2012/13 twice: once when we kick off against Wolves on Saturday; and once more when the takeover is salted, vinegar’d, and wrapped up for our tea. And then maybe even a third time when we get home, unwrap it, and see how big a fish we’ve landed.
Without a signed and sealed takeover to inspire the optimism, we haven’t exactly seen the signings we wanted to bring the confidence along with it, and the bloggers’ predictions on TSS (parts one and two) reflect that – 6th-10th with an outside chance of the play-offs is the norm, plus the odd maniac tipping automatic promotion. A lot of these Portsmouth lads we’ve signed look the very definition of solid, but it’s troubling that the player with the most flair in the side seems to be the goalkeeper. Hopefully international goal scoring striker Ross McCormack will sign on to stay, but if we’ve made a marquee signing this summer, I must have missed it.
El Hadji Diouf certainly ain’t it. Right In The Gary Kellys are prepared to give him a chance if it means success for Leeds, which is probably fair, but when you’re having to try and ignore someone’s horrendous personality in the grim hope that he’ll score a goal or two, you come face to face with one of the moral black holes of modern football. Diouf hasn’t just crossed a line on a few occasions; he’s spent most of his career way over on the wrong side of it. Plenty of players spit, for example, but how many spit at fans? And how many at eleven year old boys? Also, he’s crap and always has been crap, and he’s not at an age when he’s going to get any better; and his arrival has immediately split the fans at a time when we really do need to stand together. The main question so far has been boo/don’t boo, and that’s easy really – don’t boo, it won’t bring anyone any good. A better question might be cheer/don’t cheer – and until this guy actually does something significant in a Leeds shirt to warrant a cheer, I suggest we stay tight lipped. Football is an almost uniquely forgiving business – there is a long list of players who have done worse than Diouf and come back – but that shouldn’t mean players shouldn’t have to work for that reward.
He distracts from the football, too, stealing headlines after the Shrewsbury game away from what was an efficient performance in the League Cup. Effectively it was a pre-season friendly with a point, but it was good to see Leeds playing competitively again, and winning. Leedeetee, Travels of a Leeds Fan and Fear and Loathing in LS11 all have match reports for you to mull over for clues about the coming season. Becchio Well Placed take a different tack by looking at how previous campaigns have begun; and F&L take a very different tack on the eve of the season by completely demolishing Norwich City as a football club and as a concept.
However the season starts, I can guarantee we’ll all feel better by 5pm on Saturday, heading for the pub, back in the groove of traditional footb – oh, wait, bloody Sky moved it didn’t they? Alright, we’ll feel better by 3pm but still with a weird feeling because everyone else in the division is just kicking off while we’re trying not to notice that there’s still time left in the day to go shopping or get some DIY finished. Look, we’re going to get to see Leeds play a league division two game of football on Saturday. We might not have the optimism, we might not have the confidence, but we will have Leeds United back.
And we’ll have The Square Ball back. Issue one of the magazine’s 23rd season is at the printers and being uploaded to the servers right now. We may not officially be Fanzine of the Year anymore, but we’ll always have 2011, and we still reckon you’ll struggle to spend a more worthwhile £1.50 at Elland Road on Saturday. We’ve covered the takeover as best we can while not knowing what the hell is going on, and Adam Jubb’s ‘Choose TOMA’ is a must read for anyone who has worn out the F5 key refreshing their browser this summer; articles by Andy P and Jon Howe look at how the eighties brought Leeds fans together while the team, at home at least, proved near impossible to beat; Howson Is Now give us our first ever four-page pull out, an achingly cool tribute to Tony Yeboah; bloke off the telly (and specifically The Office) Ralph Ineson talks to us about sneaking the Leeds salute onto the gogglebox and what went on behind the scenes in The Damned United; and there’s so much other stuff in the 56 pages that you should just buy it and read it, frankly. Our sellers will be by Billy’s statue, the Lowfields tunnel, the Kop gates and loads of other places before the game on Saturday where they will ask only £1.50 for a copy; or you can go to www.thesquareball.net to find the digital download for just £1 as well as various mail order and subscription deals that will by hook or by crook get a copy of a fanzine that won an award once into your hands. If you’d rather we tickled your ears than held your hands, the first new Square Ball podcast of the season will be ready any time now, and you can find that either on our website, on iTunes, or on Mixcloud. Hell’s teeth, here’s our Twitter, our Facebook and our YouTube channel too. Get involved.
That, people, is called promotion. Here’s hoping we get some more of that come May.