Tag Archives: bates

The End is in Sight

The End is in Sight

The End is in Sight

Admit it, the last few weeks have been torturous. Every false-dawn. Every moment at which the dark night that is a Bates-filled future has risen once more over the horizon of next season. Every laboured metaphor that has been used in this article thus far. Just when everyone thought that things might be, finally, getting better, that the sun was once again breaking out over the still hotel-less Beeston, it seems as though that future may once again be darkened.

Yet is it? Over the last few weeks, several times I have been incredibly tempted to write something up to symbolize my increasing distaste at the panicky, reactionary, and occasionally stupid impressions my fellow Leeds United fans have been giving off on various social media websites. There’s an overprinted poster that has become incredibly common in most university rooms over the last few years, and it would be apt in this situation. Things take time. Calm down. Retain a semblance of sensibility. Yes, I understand the majority of you want him gone. He’s going. It is as simple as.

I am going to stick my neck out here, because after a mainly positive reaction to the last article, I was accused of wishful thinking with regards to the end of the Bates regime in some quarters. There has been events since that point that have continued to prop up my firm belief that there is no possible way for Ken Bates to remain in charge past the end of this summer.

Little has terrified people more than the potential for a collapsed takeover leading Warnock to walk out on the club. We’ve seen the financial constraints that he would have to operate under should Bates not leave, leading to, for example, the end of the deal for Joel Ward. This would simply not be acceptable to a manager seeking an eight and final promotion in his long career.

Here’s where a sticking point comes up. I don’t believe Warnock is threatening to leave because of any Bates imposed transfer budget or wage cap. According to sources, (and as I always say, I hate how falsely in the know this makes me sound) a takeover has been brewing for a significantly longer period than has been in the public eye. I first started hearing from said sources with regards to this much earlier in the season. Warnock was probably happy to come in and work for Leeds with the knowledge that by the summer, all of the formalities would have been completed and he’d have been able to get to work with a new budget to play with.

The problem, I imagine, is something on Ken’s end. He has a significantly complicated way of structuring his businesses, and to unravel them would probably take immense amounts of time. Not only this, but his demands will be great. Any potential purchaser will probably be forced into paying a premium above the actual value of the club, and this will surely need to be negotiated down.

With these barriers in the way, isn’t it possible that it could all collapse? Obviously. We could receive a press release in a week or so telling us that no investment is forthcoming, the Leeds United Supporter’s Trust were to blame and that we should all “go forth and multiply”. I don’t really see it panning out that way.

Why? As I said earlier, this is a process that has been going on for a significant length of time. I genuinely believe that by this point, with the press having caught wind of it and potential buyers seemingly having toured Elland Road and Thorp Arch, we are mere days away from some sort of movement.

On the other hand, if it does all collapse, Ken Bates is, quite frankly, absolutely fucked. Neil Warnock, ‘the saviour’, will walk. He won’t operate under Ken’s budgetary constraints. That is one segment of our continually brainwashed fan base that will see through the blindfold to the bigger picture.

Then there are the players. Yesterday’s statement from LUST should herald a massive turning point. The players are not greedy. Leeds United is a club that most people would run through brick walls to play for, especially when you are not necessarily Premier League quality, but only a step below. Sadly, Ken Bates has, in the eyes of these players, plated these brick walls with titanium, added electrical wiring either side of them and built moats around them. And these moats are filled with genetically modified sharks that are also devilishly devious and carry plates of Nando’s chicken to entice the players in.

But I digress. Ken Bates’s regime is becoming increasingly untenable. People have accepted the idea of a takeover now. People are expecting the end. Confidence is integral to any regime. The important thing now is that the fan base unites under a single banner in order to ensure that, in the event of any misfortune, we can pressure and push until the end comes.

In East Germany during the cold war, members of the State Security, the Stasi, were notorious. The stigma attached with being a former member of the Stasi remains great to this day. They informed. They lied. They propagated the falsehoods that the regime sought to espouse. Ken Bates isn’t even paying you. You’re not doing this for any ideological purpose. Don’t listen to his lies alone. Open your mind. Relax. Float down the stream. Read the facts. Inform yourself. Make a more calculated decision.

Unite. Pressure. Ensure the future of our club. Marching on Together.

Follow Amitai Winehouse on Twitter @awinehouse1

Is this the end of the Bates era?

Something’s in the air. Is it excitement or disappointment? With Leeds United, the two things often come in abundance. Last year, excitement gave way to misanthropy. People walked towards Elland Road knowing mediocrity was on the cards.

Something is amiss. People can’t figure out what is going on. Tweeters are tweeting. Forumers are foruming.

Is Ken Bates finally fucking off?

You dream about it. You thought the day would never come. Suddenly rumours abound, running at you, knocking you over like excited dogs. They leave turds of misinformation lying around the place. Occasionally you step into one of them, complain about it, then realise that these dogs have been eating gold bars on the sly, and you’re riding this turd train to a well informed future.

What am I trying to say? We have finally reached the point, as a fan base, that there are so many rumours about Bates leaving, about him selling up, that you feel something is amiss. The situation has got progressively weirder at Elland Road as well.

The summer began all hunky-dory. Warnock was being backed. The defence was being shored up. Jason Pearce, an actual prospect with an actual future ahead of him, had agreed to join Leeds United. He’d been given an actual contract. Leeds United, heaven forbid, had paid actual cash-money for him to join. We were harvesting the corpse of another club that had collapsed for any useful organs. It was exciting.

Then we stalled. Joel Ward, who two weeks ago was someone Leeds fans were unconvinced by, has become the messiah. His un-signing has become the non-symbol for all of the things that have already gone anti-right this summer. Ipswich may beat us once again to another player. What is it about players that Leeds have or want to have that make them desire East Anglia so? Are they curious about the former homeland of the Iceni? Are they intending to do master’s degrees at Cambridge? Have we been approaching too many intellectual players? These are all questions I ask myself whilst shuffling around town, screaming at passers-by and dealing with those damn government spies who want to harvest my brain facts.

So why has this occurred? Word emanating from the club, filtering through relatively official channels such as the Yorkshire Evening Post, suggest that we can’t, at this moment in time, drum up the £400,000 required to bring him in. Warnock wants him, and there are rumours that he might leave if this situation is not dealt with upon return from his holidays.

Then there’s the Snodgrass issue. He’s come out this week and outright pointed out that he had promises broken last summer. He’s not going to sign his contract unless he can see a future at the club. This, interestingly enough, has been met with acceptance from Peter Lorimer. Something seems awry there.

Finally, and most interestingly enough, was the news that Ken Bates is taking the summer off from being interviewed on Yorkshire Radio. This is incredibly bizarre, as, to put it simply, a significant reason why Bates purchased Leeds United and continued to own us, was that he loved being in the public eye. Former chairman Ken Bates was not interesting to the national media. With Leeds, he once again found a reason to be talked about, and where better to be talked about than his own in-house media setup? Why would he suddenly give that up? There’s no precedent. Last summer his interviews were one of very few constant updates from the club.

There are several ways to interpret this. The first, and the one I like to jump to in order that I don’t get all giddy, is that Bates is avoiding the spotlight in order to avoid further legal issues. Is it just a response to the court case that has pulled even more money out of the club?

Secondly, we could be heading to another financial combustion. This may come as a surprise, but I’m not the biggest fan of the Bates regime. Even so, I like to think Ken would not be delusional enough to constantly talk about the firm financial footing we are on whilst simultaneously battling an oncoming financial storm. Hey, there may be a surprise in store. I like to think this is unlikely.

Thirdly, and finally, we could be on the cusp of a honest, truthful, real, actual, factual, natural, understandable, takeover. In my guise as a fake writer about football, I jaunt around town in a trilby with a card saying ‘press’ stuck in it. I keep an ear to the ground for any undercurrents of information. I’ve heard relatively concrete rumours that Ken Bates may be on his way out. The internet, simultaneously, has heard the same. I’m even withholding some information that I feel doesn’t need to be proliferated, on the basis that the rumours one can find seem enough to speculate upon. They (and whoever they are, they love their metaphors) often say that there is no smoke without fire. I like to think this is true, but I’m avoiding raising my hopes too highly on the off-chance that I get burned.

Why else may this be true? Well, we could be avoiding spending money as some baffling method of saving money before Bates sells up. “Why would I spend my own penny on players when some Johnny Foreigner will come in and spend it instead?” I imagine Ken saying, whilst sat atop a throne made up of the disappointments Leeds fans have felt over the last seven years. But the point stands. Similarly, why would Lorimer speak so positively about meeting Snodgrass’s expectations. He’s usually responsible for ensuring we all understand that signing players is a luxury that successful football clubs don’t require.

To sum it all up, what is going on at Elland Road? It’s difficult to say. I may look back on this article as a foolish statement years from now, when we’re plying our trade in the Home Counties division 3, having relocated under the control of Mecha-Bates, but I think his time is almost up at Elland Road. Finally.

Did you like this? Follow @awinehouse1 on twitter to find out when more pseudo-nonsense is being put up on Spoughts.

Why Grayson’s sacking is hard to countenance

“The third year is fatal” said Bela Guttmann, with regards to managers, cited often enough that it is has fallen into the football manager’s psyche. The dressing room loses respect for the manager. The manager gains an affinity for certain players above others, form or class aside. Opposition figure out how to deal with any tactics or innovations the manager initially brought to the table. Pep Guardiola, arguably the crafter behind one of the greatest teams of all time, is constantly on the verge of quitting the Barcelona job every summer. Last year, after winning the Liga BBVA and the Champions League once again, most in the media were gearing up for his departure. It therefore comes as little surprise that a mere month after his three month anniversary at the club, Simon Grayson, now ex-manager of Leeds United, has left Elland Road.

Last night (31st January 2012), Leeds United capitulated at home to Birmingham, losing 4-1 almost single-handedly to a striker who has only scored 8 goals this season. This despite the fact that reports from the ground suggested that the first half performance was one of the best Leeds have had for a long while. This is the truth of the latter part of Simon Grayson’s reign. This season, and during the back-end of last season, Elland Road has not been a particularly wonderful place to watch football.

There was a moment a week and a half ago, as Leeds played Ipswich, that one felt Grayson had lost anything that he may once have had. The day was windy, and any manager with slight tactical nous would have recommended the ball remain on the floor. Any ball sent upfield by goalkeeper or defender would get caught in the wind. Yet Leeds came out of the tunnel and, like most performances this year, the strikers found themselves confined to challenging defenders in the air. Admittedly, Leeds managed to win the match 3-1, but this was exclusively due to the capitulation of the Ipswich back line, and the granting of a red card to his former team by usually sturdy goalkeeper Alex McCarthy. Fans driving away from the ground last night would be caught up in a temporary surge of optimism, but by the time the radio phone-in had begun, it was clear that the fans’ discontent had not been assuaged by the result. There were clear faults with Grayson’s approach in their eyes.

This is the man, however, that lead Leeds United to Old Trafford as a League One side, and won. This is the man, however, that lead Leeds United to White Hart Lane as a League One side, and managed to take a draw. This is the man, however, that lead Leeds United out of said League One. A manager who achieves these results is clearly not bad at his job. Managing players of the quality at his disposal to a victory against Man Utd takes an incredible amount of tactical and motivational awareness. This is why it becomes hard to countenance his sacking. Clearly the ability is there, and somewhere along the way he has lost it.

Rumours have emanated from Elland Road for the past year or so that Grayson has lost the dressing room. The manner in which he freezes out players after a single bad performance, leading to them rotting in the reserves, and never getting an appearance in the first team no matter how much they are suited for the job necessary, is clearly not conducive to a harmonious club. Word that Grayson’s affair, reported in the red-top media, led to him losing favour with Ken Bates and Bates’ wife was rife. The manner in which Grayson dealt with Andy O’Brien, chastising him and saying he would never play for him again, yet back-tracking when depression turned out to be at fault for his refusal to play again for the side, revealed plenty about how Grayson worked with his players.

This might be where Grayson, the man who did so well for Leeds a mere two years prior, fell down. As Guttmann said, the third year is fatal, and particularly key to Grayson may be the thoughts the dressing room had about him towards the end. Leigh Bromby’s wife posted on Facebook immediately after the sacking that it was “karma”, and simply said “good riddance”. Bromby clearly brought work back home with him.

The ability was, therefore, there at one point, but it has since been lost. This is why Leeds fans have hung onto positivity towards Grayson, despite the falls. It must be said that Grayson could probably sustain success for longer under a Chairman that does not treat the playing side of the club with such contempt. Grayson, however, in the end, is to blame, possibly for not leaving earlier. His replacement, awash with innovation, will probably get more out of a team of players coveted by Premier League sides. The real shame to Leeds fans that remember the football played in the early days, is that Grayson simply did not learn the lessons of Guttmann.

Follow Amitai Winehouse on Twitter.