Leeds United: An Open Letter to GFH Capital 2

To whom it may concern,

You may remember me from my last letter, where I said you were doing alright, but you could be doing a lot better. You (you being GFH Capital or whichever PR company you’ve hired this week) have done some other things since, and they’ve mainly been alright, with a handful less than alright, and a couple that are better than alright. A summation of your time in charge of Leeds in one word: alright.

On that note, let me put forward what I think you should do next: sell the club. No ifs, no buts, no selling tiny cuts. Today’s sale of 10% to IIB is hopefully not the beginning of a continual sale of tiny percentages to a great swathe of purchasers, because it will create a club that, in the future, grinds to a halt as people without the knowledge play at being football club owners. As much as it seems a way to bring funds in, it will ultimately result in a club being run in a shambolic fashion. Too many cooks and all that.

On the other hand, everyone and their mother seems to be aware of this supposed takeover by Parkin and Pearson, with Phil Hay noting that that is seemingly not off the table after today’s announcement. Rather than selling segments off piecemeal, just give the whole megazord to the adults who have kindly come over to the kid’s table and put down the food you’ve been waiting for. It’ll save a lot of problems later.

The reality is that you’ve got a lot of good ideas, and these ideas are all an improvement on what went on during the previous regime. No one in their right mind would call for a return to the days of yore, where a tyrannical dictator sat on the throne, refusing to speak to anybody who couldn’t produce 47 individual charters that decreed them worthy of his presence. The reality is, however, that ideas are not money. Hell, I’d love ideas to be money, who wouldn’t? But they aren’t, and having the best intentions in the world doesn’t mean you can carry them out. We’d rather, as a group of fans, not see more mystery men buy pieces of the club in order to fund your ideas – by all accounts there are people out there who have both ideas and money. By all accounts they’ve been swimming around the good ship Leeds United for years, and it’s time to let them come aboard.

A few months back, shortly after I wrote the first letter to you lot, I sat with El-Hadji Diouf for about half an hour, and he said something very clever that I’ve been wanting to share for a while. He said that when he came, he could hear people singing “you Chelsea bastard, get out of our club”. Diouf was under no doubts about what the future of Leeds United needed. “For eight years, Leeds fans have been waiting for a Messiah”. I have thought about what he said often, and agree wholeheartedly that it is true. This Messiah is not necessarily a sheik or a billionaire, but merely one with the club at heart and the power to take us back where we belong. History is littered with false prophets GFH, and we’re on the cusp of a celebration of a man who claimed to be a messiah, whichever way you fall on your belief in that. You are not the coming of the Messiah we have waited years for, it is time to take the opportunity to leave.

Thanks,

Amitai Winehouse

 

P.S. Sell the club.

Follow Amitai Winehouse on Twitter (@awinehouse1).

Leeds United: Nigel Adkins and a lack of ambition

By Dominic Smith

Ten days ago, as Leeds folded to a wholly unsurprising 2-1 defeat at home to Huddersfield, the
coming chain of events seemed inevitable. The unlikely play-off push became the impossible, and
the time had come for Neil Warnock to step aside as promised and let a new manager bed in before
a summer of repair. The despair at late equalisers given away to Wolves, Leicester and Crystal Palace
had given away to a grim acceptance as Leeds’ ill-fated season faded with a whimper. Warnock
summed up the mood in his post-match interviews, he was waiting to hear whether he would be
required for the rest of the campaign. The season was over. Time to move on.

Fast forward to today, and bizarrely, Warnock is still in charge, and our allegedly prime target to
replace him, Nigel Adkins, has taken over at Reading. I’ve written here about why I thought Adkins
would be Warnock’s ideal replacement, due to his track record at Southampton, his faith in young
players and the attacking style of play he champions. Although the shame of seeing a club like
Reading displaying greater ambition than us never seems to fade, it’s not the loss of Adkins that’s
the biggest scandal here, but our abject failure of leadership.

We’ve just been taken over by new owners espousing talk of a new era at the club, washing away
the narcissism and negativity of Bates’ chairmanship. The club’s media strategy has been enhanced,
its links with the local community strengthened, and its ticket prices clawed back from the upper
reaches of orbit.

But the meat and drink issues haven’t changed. As the on field displays stutter from the mediocre
to the abject to the backdrop of a funereal Elland Road, it is nothing short of farcical that Warnock
remains in charge whilst publicly admitting he has no plans to stay beyond the summer. Our season
is over, so why is he still here?

Perhaps more scandalously, Warnock claims he is involved in the process of appointing his
successor. Sir Alex Ferguson might be granted this privilege at Manchester United after a thirty
year gold rush at Old Trafford, but why is Warnock afforded this luxury after a season and a bit
of mediocrity? This can only be an indication at the paucity of footballing knowledge which exists
within GFH-C. Rumours of Adkins being approached by Shaun Harvey but remaining unconvinced
about the stability of the club don’t seem far-fetched, they seem the likely result of new owners with
a sketchy and short-term vision for Leeds United.

For a while I’ve thought that we’ve needed a long-term vision at the club for promotion and
consolidation in the Premier League. I had assumed this would be demonstrated on the pitch; by the
appointment of a suitably forward thinking manager, aware of the expectations of managing such
a great club, but assertive enough to introduce new ideas. But I now realise this was naïve. As long
as we have owners who look more interested in flipping the club for a quick profit, shady consortia
grappling to take part or total ownership, and the remnants of the Bates regime like Shaun Harvey
desperately trying to attract the type of manager to deliver this, we are doomed to failure.

Managers like Adkins, men the stature of Denis Bergkamp or Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who fans on
Twitter have called for to take over, won’t throw their lot in with these owners. They won’t be
cherry picked by Neil Warnock, or taken in by GFC-H, Shaun Harvey and their panicky, fidgety
stewardship of Leeds United. We’d like to think the club sells itself, but clearly it doesn’t. It’s
becoming increasingly obvious that the biggest obstacle to Leeds getting back where they belong
are those trying to sell Leeds United to prospective players and managers. Adkins, like Howson,

Snodgrass and Becchio before him, can see they’re being sold a pup.

Follow Dominic Smith on Twitter (@DomoTheBold).

Huddersfield Town Must Do Everything Possible to Secure Signature of on-Loan Norwich City Man James Vaughan

Huddersfield Town training at Storthes Hall - new signing James Vaughan.

When James Vaughan signed on a season-long loan deal for Huddersfield Town back in August, few people realised just how important he would become to Town’s season. Question marks over his long-term fitness and his modest goalscoring record (17 goals in 93 league appearances before joining Town) meant some fans were skeptical as to how much of a contribution he could make this season. However, a relative absence of injuries and a goalscoring average of better than 1 in 3 at the time of writing have left few Town fans in any doubt that Vaughan is a player of real quality and that every effort must be made to try and secure his permanent signing.

Vaughan is Town’s leading scorer this season with 9 goals but Vaughan should not be judged on his goalscoring record alone. Despite the fact he is only on loan, he has displayed genuine passion, determination and character – attributes which have endeared him to the Town faithful during his brief spell at the club so far. Heavy defeats, such as the thrashings Town received against Leicester and Nottingham Forest, clearly hit Vaughan hard and it is refreshing to see a loan player show such genuine commitment to the cause. Vaughan’s phenomenal work rate and determination are valuable assets to the team in terms of both chance creation and defending from the front. If anything it could be said that Vaughan works too hard. At times he arguably pushes himself too far and this has occasionally resulted in injuries and needless bookings – 11 bookings in 29 games is staggering for a centre-forward. Nevertheless, as Vaughan’s game is based around robust hard work, shirking challenges or holding back in any way to avoid bookings or injuries would take away a large part of what makes Vaughan such an effective player.

To demonstrate just how important Vaughan has been to Town this season, it is worth looking at Town’s win ratio with and without Vaughan in the league this season. This season, Vaughan has started 23 games. In these games Town have accumulated 34 points – 9 wins, 7 draws and 7 defeats. This means Town have gained 1.48 points for each game Vaughan has started. To put this into context, if this points to game ratio was maintained over a season then it would give Town 68 points. In contrast, in the 15 games Vaughan has not started, Town have picked up just 13 points – 3 wins, 4 draws and 8 defeats. This is a points to game ratio of just 0.87 points per game and this would give Town only 40 points over the course of a season. Obviously it is not as simple as this – even if Vaughan had started every game this year it is highly unlikely Town would have acquired 68 points – but it does go some way towards proving just how vital Vaughan has been to Town’s season.

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As Vaughan has clearly proved himself in terms of ability, and as his injury record has been generally good, Huddersfield should be doing everything in their power to try and secure a permanent deal for Vaughan. But can a deal realistically be done? The first thing that has to be considered is whether Norwich would be willing to sell. With Norwich’s Premier League survival all but guaranteed, it seems that Vaughan will find himself surplus to requirements at Carrow Road next season. As well as already having Grant Holt and Simeon Jackson on the books, Norwich have brought in Luciano Becchio and Kei Kamara since Vaughan joined Town in August. With the impending arrival of Dutch international Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Vaughan appears to be well down the pecking order in a team that often plays with just one out and out striker. In this regard it seems that Norwich will probably be willing to listen to offers if a reasonable bid comes in.

The second thing, therefore, that must be contemplated is whether Huddersfield can afford to sign Vaughan. Vaughan would likely command a fee in the region of 1 to 1.5 million pounds, which is a significant fee for a lower end Championship side. However, the sale of Jordan Rhodes last summer means that Town should be able to spend some money (within reason) in the transfer market this summer. Though Chairman Dean Hoyle has spoken of the need to make Town self-sufficient and to further reduce the club’s wage bill, the fact is Town simply cannot afford to pass up on the chance to sign Vaughan. When the loan deals of Vaughan, Theo Robinson and Jermaine Beckford expire in the summer, Town could have only one striker – the untested Jimmy Spencer – on their books. Alan Lee’s contract almost certainly won’t be renewed whilst Lee Novak’s future at the club is seemingly undecided. Given the need to bolster Town’s attacking options, therefore, and the potential availability of Vaughan, Town would be mad to pass up the opportunity to sign Vaughan permanently if he was available at a reasonable price.

The only problem that leaves is whether Vaughan himself would be interested in signing permanently. Vaughan is not the type of player who will just be happy to sit on the bench or fester in the reserves at Norwich, and in the aftermath of the Leeds game Vaughan admitted he would be happy to discuss terms if a fee could be agreed. Vaughan would likely become one of the clubs highest earners if he were to join but given the fact that a number of the existing high-earners, such as Alan Lee, are out of contract in the summer, Town should be able to offer Vaughan a decent contract and still have money left over to bring in some more reinforcements. However, although Vaughan is clearly enjoying his loan spell at the club immensely, it remains to be seen whether Vaughan would be prepared to take what would probably be a sizable wage cut in exchange for regular first team football. Also, as Vaughan has proved himself a highly capable Championship striker whilst playing for a struggling team, there is a chance that Town could be gazumped to his signing if a bigger club comes in with an offer over the summer. For periods this season Vaughan has simply looked too good for a Huddersfield team that has, at times, struggled to adapt to the demands of the Championship and at points he has almost single handedly carried the responsibility of scoring Town’s goals this season. With this in mind it would be hard to begrudge Vaughan if he decided to take up the opportunity to play for a team with greater aspirations and more financial clout if the offer was forthcoming.

Nevertheless if Huddersfield do maintain Championship status, they must do everything in their power to attempt to bring Vaughan in permanently. Though Vaughan would not be cheap, he has proved himself a player of real quality and few players have made as much of an impact during a loan spell for Town as Vaughan has. The emphasis must be on quality rather than quantity this summer and Town would be much better off signing a player of Vaughan’s caliber than signing 2 or 3 ‘squad players.’ Some of the money from the Jordan Rhodes sale must be used over the summer if Town are to be at all competitive next season and if a deal could be done for £1-1.5 million then that would surely be money well spent by Town. If Town are to have any realistic chance of making Vaughan’s loan move permanent, then staying in the Championship is vital. Town’s Championship status next season is far from certain and any chances of signing Vaughan hinge on survival. Vaughan would not want to sign for a team in League One, nor would a League One side be able to afford his transfer fee or wages. A deal for Vaughan, therefore, is by no means guaranteed and it would be foolish to think that Vaughan will certainly sign for Town – even if Championship status is secured – but the powers that be must do everything they can to try and sign him. If a team comes in with a better offer or if Norwich are unwilling to do business then that is fair enough. However, it would be criminal if Town made no attempt to permanently sign a player with such high workrate, determination, passion and, most of all, quality.

For more HTFC based ramblings follow me on twitter: (JThorn26)