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statement of intent

statement of intent

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So what Brian McDermott said over dinner last night was almost true: Leeds United didn’t have a statement ready for today, but they did have an interview with vice-chairman Salah Nooruddin. Apparently the questions answered on the official site are “from fans,” but given that the questions don’t include, ‘What was the big idea about your mate’s lad’s trial at Thorp Arch?’ I suspect these are edited highlights from the submissions. But then I don’t remember the fans ever being asked to send in questions for him in the first place.

The questions that have made it through are not exactly a rough ride. In only the third question, Salah is challenged: “Is the manager being backed in the summer transfer market?” – and his brave answer is, “Yes.” Good answer, Salah, you batted that one straight back. But the rabid pit-bull interviewer’s not done yet: “Do you see more players being bought?” “Yes,” replies Salah, staying positive in the teeth of the attack.

For each yes, though, there is often a ‘However.’ The club’s ambition is to be “Challenging for promotion,” he says. “However… if it’s not possible…” In the transfer market, “Brian has outlined plans to re-balance the squad,” and the board are “Backing him to achieve these objectives”; but of course that’s, “In a structured way,” and painting the new size pitches at Thorp Arch is also a kind of backing, according to Nooruddin. Will funds from player sales be used for squad strengthening? That one doesn’t even get a trademark Nooruddin ‘Yes’ before the ‘Howevers’ start: “Our over-riding aim in the transfer window is to strengthen the squad and to increase its value to the club while at the same time keeping wages under control.” Er, that’s not what you were asked, Salah! “The Academy has produced wonderful players throughout the years…” Hang on, “the fans” were asking about signings, weren’t they? “Fair Play regulations limit the amount owners can invest in a club…” And so on.

The biggest ‘However’ comes right at the end. “The shareholders continue to support the club financially and given the size of investment we have made thus far, are obviously very keen to get things right.” Sounds good! But: "Having said that, we need to ensure we do not take unnecessary risks to achieve success, or not take enough risk.” How much risk is not enough risk? I’d like a pound of risk please, Mr Grocer – I trust your scales are honest! “The key is striking the right balance in the context of where the club is today.”

So that’s no unnecessary risks but some risks balanced correctly in today’s context of the club’s current whereabouts (it moved?) within the Fair Play Regulations in a structured way that is sustainable but not overnight and I don’t know why I read this thing to the end.

Let’s not be too churlish here. Communication is what we wanted, and a dozen or so softball questions, with answers cut and pasted an old PowerPoint presentation, from the 3.33% shareholding vice-chairman none of us have heard of save for the trouble he caused up at Thorp Arch – “Our plan is to make maximum use of Thorp Arch in building long term success which is sustainable,” by the way – is communication, of a sort.

There are statements, though, and then there are statements, and this is an interview, that does nothing but echo the statements we’ve heard before. “The Present and the Future” is the headline, but as I pointed out here last week, our present is the future: the fixtures are out and pre-season training starts tomorrow. “In an ideal world,” Brian McDermott told the Evening Post on May 4th, “We’d get the players we need in time for pre-season.” When it comes to statements, one signing is the biggest statement of them all.

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