To fill the vast, awful expanse of time between now and August 18th when everything quite possibly goes to shit again, ‘Fear and Loathing in LS11’ brings you a regular review of all the goings on at Elland Road in easily digestible, weekly chunks. So spare yourself the daily torment of speculation and the desperate search for news, and instead just look in every Sunday to find out what you (most probably haven’t) missed…
Monday 30th April
With the league campaign finally over, as opposed to just being over as a spectacle (see March), Leeds fans, having spent the weekend rejoicing in the fact that 9 tormented months, punctuated by broken promises and player sales are at an end, realise that 16 tormented weeks, punctuated by broken promises and player sales start right here.
On the back of the least discreet ‘come and get me campaign’ since Ken Bates’ most recent programme notes about Melvyn Levi, speculation is inevitably rife that Jermaine Beckford could be set for an emotional return to Elland Road. Insiders reveal that only a couple of minor obstacles stand in the way of the move – a transfer fee and his salary. A final decision will be made when funding for the club’s 16 other departments has been finalised.
On a less positive, rather more realistic note, the fact that Robert Snodgrass was the last to leave the pitch at full-time, then had his head bowed during the lap of honour triggers a mass emotional meltdown; Snoddy’s interview in the YEP where he talks of the decision not being his but his family’s, already point to our skipper excavating an slick escape route. Still, at least the decision will be quick one, he plans to discuss the matter with his family over the ‘coming weeks’.
The term “days not weeks” comes to mind…
Tuesday 1st May
The official site runs a story urging supporters to come down to Elland Road for the ‘Homecoming of Don’. The club boast that the unveiling of the Revie statue is to take place on Saturday, especially to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the famous FA Cup win…and also the launch of the new home kit.
The Pavilion will also be open, offering a special celebratory breakfast at just £10 per person; the club neglected to mention that anyone wanting to take advantage of the offer will also have to pay the mandatory £3 entrance fee, for which they will receive a voucher that can then be exchanged for a ‘complimentary’ cup of tea.
Billy’s Bar and Howard’s restaurant are also to open for the big day. The club announce that Howard’s will be getting into the spirit of things by offering a 1970’s menu… those that have been there before speculate whether that will constitute any discernible difference.
With the ‘retention list’ day of reckoning only 24 hours away, Danny Webber offers hope to the masses by admitting he doesn’t know if he’ll be offered a new deal. He also reveals how nice it was to end the season with a goal, even if it was from close range, saying “I’d take 20 of them a season”… in truth Danny, how about aiming for maybe 5 first?
A chill runs down the spine of every supporter as the official site run the headline ‘Relieved Gaffer ready to kick on’ as a million Simon Grayson soundbites come back to haunt them. Mercifully, upon reading the article, the phrase “kick on” is not once directly attributable to Neil Warnock.
Wednesday 2nd May
The day of the retention list is here and in true Leeds United style, the retained players are not listed, rather just those who Warnock intends to cast into the footballing abyss.
Initially the big story is the inclusion of Adam Clayton amongst the non-entities who’ll seeking employment elsewhere; cue outrage from the four corners of the Earth. The rumblings quickly recede as a combination of Warnock’s revelation that Clayton had refused a new contract, and the cold hard fact that our midfield superstar only justifies the hype for maybe one game in every four, hit home.
As the Clayton hysteria dies down, a far more disturbing story emerges – Danny Pugh is to escape the cull! Cue more indignation and mass hysteria. Maybe Neil had forgotten all about him? It’s easily done. At least the other Danny had his heart broken.
Of those staying, 6 players are to be offered/are considering new contracts; not intent on putting Leeds fans through the misery of the transfer window, the club are really going to town on the contract soap operas this summer.
Mixed news as the club announces that 7 youngsters have signed professional contracts; such an influx floods an already bloated squad with more players, but at least the signing of terms boosts their market value when Chelsea and Manchester City come sniffing around.
Thursday 3rd May
The club remind everyone again that Billy’s Bar and Howard’s will be open on Saturday to celebrate the launch of the new kit. Apparently a statue of some fella will also be unveiled by the magnificent new Pavilion, which incidentally is the largest conferencing facility of its type, between Newcastle and Manchester.’ The Don’ would feel truly humbled, I’m sure.
In contrast, speculation about the arrival at Elland Road of El Hadji Diouf has begun to quieten; Leeds fans on the whole, hope this is a positive sign, despite the Senegalese striker’s obvious attributes…
Neil Warnock reveals that although Adam Clayton has been transfer-listed, the midfielder will be a part of his plans should a suitable offer not be received. He also warns that although 11 players were listed in the cull, it may not be easy to move every single one of them on.
Expect a ‘Can’t get rid of the useless f**kers’ list to be published in August.
Friday 4th May
After what seems to have been weeks of “dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s”, Jason Pearce is finally confirmed as United’s first signing of the summer… just in time to promote the new Leeds shirt. After last summer’s selection of Jonny Howson, Andy O’Brien and Paddy Kisnorbo to promote the new kits, the fan base takes in a sharp collective intake of breath.
For his part, Pearce expresses his delight at a move to “a massive club with great facilities”. Plans are also afoot to show our new centre-back around Thorp Arch and the inside of the stadium in the coming weeks…
Another kind reminder from the club that all fans are invited to the unveiling of the Don Revie statue tomorrow; and hey, while in the area, why not have a relaxing drink at Billy’s Bar, or treat yourself to a meal at the award winning Howard’s restaurant?
In his YEP column, Peter Lorimer reminds supporters that the club doesn’t have oodles of cash to spend (omitting any reference to court cases in the process) and admits that last summer’s squad building was a disaster… weeks after asserting that the squad were more than good enough to gain promotion. Unrepentant, Lorimer continues to have outrageously high expectations of managers, saying he believes that you won’t find Warnock “talking about the play-offs in August – he’ll be aiming for the top two, at least”. It’s not clear from that remark, whether Lorimer understands that Champions League qualification is an impossibility for a Championship club.
According to the official website, “1000s of fans” turn out for the unveiling of the Don Revie statue and the day is hailed as a major success. A collective sigh of relief is tangible at the unveiling as ‘The Don’ is found not to be wearing a new season Macron rain jacket. Expect the inside track on those all-important catering sales figures from Howard’s and Billy’s in the chairman’s Wednesday address on Yorkshire Radio.
Luke Varney and David Norris are the latest Pompey players to be linked with a move to Elland Road as Leeds fans delight in the delicious irony of plundering another club for players at knock-down prices as it’s slowly dying on its arse.
On the pitch, United cap a remarkable fixtureless week by extending their unbeaten run to one week – Vive la Revolution!!