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Leeds, Hull, Leicester, Middlesbrough & Palace Show Ince, Vaughan, Pennant & Blake interest.

Despite a leg injury that will see him miss the start of the season, Leeds United, Hull City, Crystal Palace Leicester City, Middlesbrough FC  and Crystal Palace are in for  Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, who is now a free agent after his release from Wolves.  Norwich City free agent Vaughan is also up for grabs and Crystal Palace have bid £4 million for Blackpool FC winger Tom Ince. Hull are strengthening their muscles with former Imp Jack Hobbs set to move to Birmingham in exchange for Curtis Davies as  well as a move for SEB and Pennant.

hold on to your hats the agents are  greasing the grapevine, grenades and all, oh lordy lordy its Joyous June oh month of rumour……………

Sylvan Ebanks-Blake’s representative, is said to be already in discussions with Middlesbrough and Leicester, although Leeds are yet to formalise an approach given Noel Hunt is fit well, raring to go and already known by McDermott through the Reading connection.  As for Ince junior, Blackpool will want substantially more for one of the games most exciting and emerging talents, although seasoned but evergreen Jermaine Pennant will cost substantially less. Hull City chase him and monitor the Ebanks-Blake situation with baited breath. Jermaine is a free agent although Stoke may come back with a one year deal for the well travelled winger who would make a terrific Thomas Cook rep.  Settled Steve Bruce is looking to offer a much longer deal, now he has been given ambitious assurances that have killed any overtures for his services from Wigan. That said free agents, such as Jermaine and West Ham’s Gary O’Neill are still very much on the wish list of an under-rated clever manager who could peel an orange in his pocket and not offer nor waste a drop.

Pearson of Leicester City has also needed to be frugal at a club that now looks set to challenge. Gone are the forks in the Foxes sugar bowls with them being linked left right and centre.  Looking to strengthen all over, experience and firepower are on the menu and an avenue for winger Lloyd Dyer to ensure he is not tempted by the bright lights of London club QPR.  A move for Ebanks-Blake and the experienced Matthew Upson (loan Keane is now back at Man Utd remember) could help show some ambition, as could a season long loan for Villa midfielder Barry Bannan. Another forward in the form of a permanent deal for Canary striker James Vaughan is doing the rounds. The Foxes will face competition from Leeds United for SEB and Upson, whilst Huddersfield and Sheffield Wednesday are both interested in Vaughan. He banged in 14 goals whilst on loan at the Terriers last term and after survival they will be looking to more than make up the Championship numbers.

Will Blades Move for Neil Warnock, Tony Pulis Or A McCall Clone..

Former Leeds United manager Neil Warnock could be a late contender for the Sheffield United job after Former Bradford City and current Motherwell FC manager Stuart McCall turned down the post. Short of Stoke City manager Tony Pulis getting the job, Stuart was the man who could put Sheffield United back into the Championship and beyond.  Finances, must have played a part, but he was far worse off at Bradford, who were potless during his 2007-10 stint.

Sheffield United logo

This job needs someone who fight, not just to survive the bearpit, but because the rightful rejuvenation of this club is a just cause.  Mr Warnock, like Mr McCall, still has Steel running through his veins. At Motherwell, also known as the Steelmen, Stuart has won 3 manager of the months as well as this season’s SPL manager of the season.  He also took Well to the 2011 SFA cup final, so this was a decision he took with a heavy heart, but one very much ruled by his head. Prior to the snub, Gareth Southgate still appears to have been running him close, but he will not have mobile phone millions here and would be an ill-advised and poor second choice.  Kenny Jackett may have the strength and mixed ability to do the job, but Wolves appear to have the money to aid their return from League 1. At 35 Chris Morgan certainly lacks the experience for a tough ask, although you have to start somewhere.

Neil Warnock and Tony Pulis meanwhile, have the characteristics, but would they put their reputations on the line.  Both are free and, with the Plymouth deal stalling by the day,  Mr Warnock might be tempted to finish a managerial career spanning 1300 League games, with 7 promotions and 6 manager of the months .  It is too big a risk for Mr Pulis you feel, who has plenty of time to weigh up his options before repairing the long-ball slur. This is a pivotal role for club and manager alike. Certainly whoever comes in will need an interesting skill set, if they are to ensure a fantastic fan base gets what it desires and deserves. The word unlucky cannot continue to wash at a side that should be in the Championship at least. Given a fair wind the momentum would build backed by a fantastic home end and support. Both the Owls and the Blades are blessed with cavernous kops.

The value for money rumours suggest that it will be Pride and turnstile clicks that will turn this club around and Stuart McCall, had it all Bladewise. He has a personality forged through triumph in the face of tragedy and adversity. His time at Bradford included the Bradford fire, when 54 Bantems and two Imps lost their lives. So, although he is one for celebration, it is always tempered, always seen as a step towards another opportunity to progress or triumph.  This showed in his play, as the combative all-round midfielder, hid from no-one at Bradford, Everton, Rangers and of course the Blades. His three year stint at the Blades (2002-2005) saw them reach the semi finals of both the FA and League Cup in 2003, but they would not be promoted to the Premier League until the season after he hung up his boots.  He understood the heritage of the club, would not have underestimated the ask and relished the task at a club he still holds dear.

It has been tough for the Blades, a reflection of the unfairness of contemporary life, as well as the inconsistent realities of  the people’s game. Long has passed the Cricket ground hereabouts, but if life was played with a straight bat United should not have gone down after one season in the Premiership.  The Tevez affair had been sorted with just a financial penalty, when a further points deduction would have been far more just. Narrow relegation ended a great marriage with Mr Warnock, who you felt would have kicked on.  Relegation hits an ex-Premiership side hard.

So this job will require contacts, ability and bloody mindedness. If McCall cannot be tempted to eclipse his former guru, could Mr Warnock? Could the Falconer replace the falcon and give the Blades the last of his promotion magic before he decides to become a director of football in the South-West?  He can use finances wisely, he will need to with cost cuts and most of the budget gone.  Mr Warnock has the infectious drive and hunger needed to motivate or move contracted players on, something he has done time and time again to engineer promotions. He knows more than anyone that Sheffield deserves at least two Championship sides, if not a Premiership one.  And, on previous quotes, he would hate it to be the blue half of Sheffield. Go on blades board, swallow your pride for the good of the side.

Mr Warnock’s Record

Team From To Record
P W D L Win %
Gainsborough Trinity July 1980 January 1981
Burton Albion January 1981 February 1986
Scarborough 1 August 1986 1 January 1989 78 30 25 23 38.46
Notts County 5 January 1989 14 January 1993 209 90 49 70 43.06
Torquay United 15 February 1993 2 June 1993 15 5 5 5 33.33
Huddersfield Town 15 July 1993 5 June 1995 108 44 34 30 40.74
Plymouth Argyle 22 June 1995 3 February 1997 88 35 24 29 39.77
Oldham Athletic 21 February 1997 7 May 1998 69 27 22 20 39.13
Bury 2 June 1998 2 December 1999 77 29 29 19 37.66
Sheffield United 2 December 1999 15 May 2007 388 165 100 123 42.53
Crystal Palace 11 October 2007 2 March 2010 129 47 39 43 36.43
Queens Park Rangers 2 March 2010 8 January 2012 84 33 27 24 39.29
Leeds United 18 February 2012 1 April 2013 63 23 15 25 36.51
Total 1,308 528 369 411 40.37

Mr McCall’s managerial record

Team From To Record
G W D L Win %
Bradford City 6 November 2000 20 November 2000 2 0 0 2 0.00
Bradford City 22 May 2007 8 February 2010 133 46 35 52 34.59
Motherwell 30 December 2010 Present 116 48 26 42 41.38
Total 251 94 61 96 37.45

Leeds & Sheffield Wednesday Will Put Yorkshire Back On The Map

Ken Bates and Milan Mandaric are custodians of two great institutions in Leeds United and Sheffield Wednesday. On the final day 31,375 turned up to see Wednesday beat big spending Middlesbrough FC, whilst a packed away end at Watford saw Leeds win 2-1.  Surely next season both clubs must show the ambition that their Premiership sized fan-bases deserve, it is time to put Yorkshire pride back on the football map.

Thanks for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs – fancy helping the Blue square get 3 promotion places – sign petition here

emblem Badge of Sheffield Wednesday

Both clubs, football institutions in their own rights, know they can rely on fantastic support, despite their League position. Leeds (13th) averaged 21,572 with just under half a million turnstile clicks last season. With some, and it has to be said, much overdue optimism around the place they would easily average 30k and be able to compete in the Premiership. Wednesday averaged 24,078 with 553,794 turnstile clicks in what has been described as a season of consolidation. But surely both sides must now look beyond the lowly ambition of making up the numbers in the Championship.

It is true that both of these Yorkshire giants have felt the financial fall-out from their failure to stay in the top flight.  But surely the £120 million on offer nowadays for even a season in the Premier League should inspire both Chairman to back their managers to at least mount a play-off campaign.  Yorkshire is too big a County and these City’s have too big a footballing pedigree not to have a side in the Premier League.  Then again the £48 million parachute over 4 seasons, will move to £60 million from this summer (£20m/£20m/£10m/£10m) putting both clubs at a disadvantage.  This is something Mandaric has vowed to overcome and promotion would be a fitting celebration for the centenary of stainless Steel. He has a capable manager, too, in Dave Jones.

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Leeds understandably have a distrust for their ex-Chairman, now El Presidenti no less, Ken Bates, still there for three years, at least, despite selling the club to GFH Capital. The test for the Middle East concern comes now, although the Manager Brian McDermott, is a good move as he is a canny, outside-the-box and clever coach. What Brian did at Reading was miraculous and, he should never have been sacked in February, given he was best equipped to turn things round. He has started well at Leeds, aided and abetted by young Byram, surely a Gareth Bale in the making.  If the board back him with the magnificent seven he is asking for this summer, a tenner on promotion will be a wise bet. He was not everyone’s cup of tea but he does not need the money of Hughes and co, building teams not sides dotted with Carlos Kickaballs, that won’t fancy Barnsley away on a cold bleak Tuesday.

Badge of Sheffield Wednesday

Wednesday on the other hand have shown gratitude to a chairman that has dug them out of an unthinkable financial hole. He was there at the Sheffield Children’s Hospital, with the players spending quality time with kids that need a glow to cling to.  The cavernous Kop at Hillsborough even houses a banner thanking him in his native Serbian –  Xbana Milan This City is Ours (Thanks Milan etc) – it is well deserved so far. So when he says he will vow to overcome the unfair advantage some sides have, you have to believe he will think and act smart enough to keep the faith they have in one of the most fantastic home ends in world football and put them back on the map.

emblem Badge of Sheffield Wednesday

In a game where success is everything and memories and sentiment short, both owners will need to shoulder the huge weight of expectation by doing better next season. They will, given, Leeds were 7 points off the play-offs and 7 from the drop this season, whilst Wednesday finished 4 points above the trapdoor. So with the purported financial strength behind both clubs let us hope both chairman can stand and deliver in 2013/14. In this game money talks and BS walks but both these sides have a goal head start at home. As a neutral, each and every time you go you can sense it. A religious fervour that deserves to see the light. When the hairs stand up on the back of your neck as soon as you enter the Hillsborough and Elland Road Cathedrals, you understand why football will forever be entwined with the working man’s soul. So over to you Ken and Milan, oh keepers of the Yorkshire faith.

Leeds United: Promotion or bust?

Leeds United and Lincoln City Fan David Kirkbright takes a look Leeds United’s promotion chances this season plus a look back at the side of 1991/92


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A few games into the season and other than takeover talks, Jermaine Beckford and constant rumours regarding Leeds players leaving oh and of course Ken winning his court battle against West Yorkshire Police it’s been hard to notice anything else happening in football. Of course people have seen the transfers and rumours but in June a TV deal was struck with BT to show 38 premiership games next season. Why does this matter to Leeds unless we go up?  Well read the full articles on his My view blog here

McCallum Return Blocking Leeds Duo, A Spireite & Right Back Cover

Gavin McCallum is staunchly refusing to go on loan to big spending Alfreton Town, which could curtail the stay of  Leeds duo Sanchez Payne and Will Hatfield plus Chesterfield striker Jordon Burrow. Both Payne & Burrow looked sharp in a behind closed doors friendly against an in-form Gainsborough Trinity on Tuesday night, although the Imps lost 0-2, but alas any competitive appearances will depend on the whim of an expensive misfit.

With Leeds United keen to put young and unproven players the Imps way after the success of David Somma – and this lad Payne is something else –  this is a bitter blow for Holdsworth’s attempts to bring the fans back to Sincil Bank.  He has also chatted up  Chesterfield, who also appear keen, but even at little or no wage contribution,  rent for the players digs still needs to be found. We missed out on midfielder Jamie Lowry, who instead went to Crewe  last November,  despite being in pole position and Jordon Burrow would certainly bring something to the Bank.

McCallum as is his right, can choose to sit on his contract until a football League club comes in for him unless the Imps strike a deal to fully or part  ‘pay him up’. This will certainly tempt another club into taking him on, but Gavin wants that club to be a Football League one, as this will be good for his career and bank balance . That is what he is choosing to do after Barnet said thanks but no thanks after just a brief couple of outings.  As to whether he makes the bench or perhaps even the shop window this Saturday, only DH could tell us? As ever it is a hard world if you are down on you luck but let us not underestimate the persuasive tongue of our  manager just yet.