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Just now, Jype said:

Most likely yeah. But their players don't really seem up for the challenge anymore, only 3 wins out of 7 after the break.

Remains to be seen what their motivation level going into next week is (home record, lifting the trophy after the game) but they're not unbeatable by any means.

Nah definitely not unbeatable..but depends what side of ours turns up. Play like last week and its gana be a long 90

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I was bored...

chelsea 3-1 arsenal 1-1 spurs 0-3

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7 minutes ago, Jason said:

Someone needs to end that before they catch up with our record!

Wasn't it Liverpool who ended our run?

It's only fair to return the favor. :P 

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Just now, Jype said:

Wasn't it Liverpool who ended our run?

It's only fair to return the favor. :P 

They did, thanks to a bloody fortunate Alonso goal! :rant:

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9 minutes ago, Vesper said:

Arteta could be a monster if he is backed with his style of players (and quality)

he deffo has that baby Pep swagger rolling

Meh. They looked hopeless and barely touched the ball up until the VVD mistake.

They probably don't have the funds to buy all the necessary players to compete. Don't see them getting near the top 4 once again next season.

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i said it two or so weeks ago

and now it is even more true

the dippers have went off the rails

its now 5 months

6 wins 6 losses 2 draws, and 3 of their wins were 1 goal squeakers against shit

22 points dropped in 14 games

they beat zero teams of quality and were smashed 3 times (4 times if you count AM thrashing them 4 2 on aggregate)


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I guess Liverpool don't care so much. Obviously records are great but they've won the main prize. That's in the bag. They can afford to drop points here and there. No one will be that fussed end of the day. Still get their party 


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15 minutes ago, Laylabelle said:

I guess Liverpool don't care so much. Obviously records are great but they've won the main prize. That's in the bag. They can afford to drop points here and there. No one will be that fussed end of the day. Still get their party 


Klopp surely must be worried, they are on a 5 month, 14 game overall shit run

if not for us choking on pens in the Super Cup and them scraping out an extra time win against a meh Flamengo squad, they would have ended up with ONE trophy out of a possible seven (granted, the biggest one (for them), the league)

they are not getting any younger (only 3more years max that front three is a prime, peak force) and they have fuckall for depth in so many areas

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lol at Sky Sports

a documentary on George Weah

they said when he joined Chels in 2000 on a 6 month loan that he joined a team already loaded with superstar firepower such as Gianfranco Zola ,Tore Andre Flo, and CHRIS SUTTON


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2 hours ago, Magic Lamps said:

Has Emmy Martinez put a single foot wrong since coming in for Leno? He is so surehanded, composed and strong in the air, how did he go unnoticed his whole career?

he had a fairly blääää game in the loss to spuds, he had a horrid pass out that they were lucky spuds did not score on, and also was caught napping to point on the header that won the game

but he has played better than Kepa since Leno went down

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I have to say, I really like Arteta. I think he will become a top, top coach in the years to come. He is extremely well measured in his approach. Let's hope he doesn't get the financial backing at Arsenal (you never know) because I think he will cause serious damage. 

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What ‘vindicated’ Guardiola really meant when he came out swinging



The press conference is not Pep Guardiola’s natural habitat, but on Tuesday he delivered a masterclass in how to get a message across. Several messages, in fact.

Manchester City fans — and indeed his employers at the club — will be delighted with the 25 minutes that were set aside, nominally, to discuss Wednesday’s home game against Bournemouth.

Of course, every single question related to the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s decision to overturn City’s ban from the Champions League.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp had already declared, “I am happy that City can play in the Champions League but I don’t think it was a good day for football yesterday, to be honest”, before expanding on why he wants Financial Fair Play rules to stay.

Jose Mourinho had also had his say. “If Manchester City is not guilty of it, to be punished by some million is a disgrace,” said the Tottenham boss at his own pre-match press conference. “If you’re not guilty, you’re not punished. In the other way, if you’re guilty you should be banned. In any case, it’s a disaster.”

Guardiola seemed to have his answers prepared, and he took the opportunity to call out some old rivals and quite possibly some new ones.

The Catalan responded to some of City’s noisiest critics — like La Liga president Javier Tebas and former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger — and rounded on those he accused of “whispering”, including direct references to Liverpool, Manchester United and the other “top eight” clubs.

For the first time, though, Guardiola made comments which will strike a chord with the club’s supporters, who have long claimed that Europe’s top clubs act as the established elite and are desperate to shut City out. No senior City employee has spoken in such striking terms before.

Sometimes, Guardiola’s points can fail to clear the language barrier, or at least the sarcasm barrier. When he has responded or goaded certain clubs or figures in the past, such as Real Madrid, it has been hard to know whether he even meant to ruffle some feathers in the first place. Here though, there were no doubts.

Guardiola’s most memorable soundbites are often born out of defiance — “What’s tackles?” he famously claimed after a defeat at Leicester in his debut season — but they are few and far between and you would have to collate four years’ worth of press conferences to get nearly half an hour’s worth of sarcastic comments and stubborn rebuttals.

Until Tuesday, that is, when he sat down to get several years’ worth of frustration off his chest. Not everybody will agree with what he said, or indeed how he said it, but there can be no doubt about what he, or the club who pay his wages, feel about their rivals at home and abroad.

Here is what he said, who he addressed and what it meant…

How do you feel about the CAS decision?

Guardiola: I’m incredibly happy for the decision. It shows that everything people said about the club was not true. We will defend on the pitch what we won on the pitch.

Guardiola actually appeared quite subdued, even grumpy. His first answer was short and sweet, but it set the tone for the rest of the press conference, where he would talk much more expansively and specifically.

Firstly, he tried to put the focus back on the achievements of his players on the pitch. Remember that he told them the day after City were banned from the Champions League in February that they should “show people that you are talent — not money.”

Jose Mourinho branded the decision “disgraceful”…

Guardiola: Jose and other managers should know that we were damaged; we should be apologised to because, as I’ve said many times, if we did something wrong we will accept the decision from UEFA and CAS because we did something wrong.

This is something Guardiola has said repeatedly but with City’s ban overturned he had no reason for contrition. He rounded on those members of the Premier League’s top 10 — all but Sheffield United and City themselves — who collectively urged UEFA in March to ensure the ban would stand for next season, insinuating that City would move to delay their appeal and ensure they could play in Europe in 2020-21.

Guardiola: We don’t expect Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea or Wolves and the other clubs to defend us but we have the right to defend ourselves when we believe what we have done is correct, and three judges — independent judges — said this. Today is a good day. Yesterday was a good day for football, because we play by the same FFP rules as all the clubs in Europe.

If we had broken FFP, we would have been banned but we have to defend ourselves because we were right and three judges gave us the reason. People said we were cheating and lying many times and the presumption of innocence was not there. After, when we were proved right, we were incredibly happy because we can again defend what we have done on the pitch.

Later, Guardiola was asked directly about those eight clubs.

He nodded his head intently and had clearly worked out what he was going to say before the question had finished (Look out for the emphasis on the second mention of Liverpool).

Guardiola: The first point, for all these clubs — Arsenal, Chelsea, Leicester, Wolves, Manchester United, Tottenham, Liverpool, Liverpool!, Burnley… I understand they want the five positions for the Champions League. I can understand. What they ask is that they didn’t want us to delay the process for the next season, so we could play in the Champions League. (But) we were so clear, we said, “Yeah, we completely agree with you, eight clubs, we want the resolution from CAS as soon as possible to clarify this.”

Because I said all the time in my press conferences, if we did something wrong and we needed to be banned we will be banned and we will accept it. So I completely agreed with these eight clubs to go to CAS and make their resolution. And the resolution is there, so that’s why they must be happy. They must be happy because we didn’t break the rules. We played the same rules as all the clubs in the Premier League and UEFA — so that’s why.

So next time before they (go) and make phone calls, they can call our chairman or CEO and say, “Guys, all these clubs, this is what we are going to do.” We were on the same page. So unfortunately just four teams can play in the Champions League next season, not the five.

That is an emphatic sign-off, almost lording it over those clubs that there is no extra position available for another English side in the Champions League, which he believes was the driving factor behind their letter.

And the emphasis on Liverpool was delivered with what is probably best described as mock surprise.

The other clubs, Guardiola believes, wanted City banned because it would make it easier for them to qualify for the Champions League via fifth place. Liverpool, of course, had no such concerns and, as Klopp pointed out, City not playing in Europe next season would only have harmed Liverpool’s chances of retaining the Premier League title. Guardiola poses the question — so why did they want City banned?

What about your contract?

This is a classic of Guardiola press conferences: answering a question that wasn’t asked. He insists the time to discuss his future will come but quickly pivoted to settling some scores with Wenger — whom he addressed directly — and Manchester United, who matched Leicester’s asking price for Harry Maguire last season when City decided not to pay it.

Guardiola: This club is incredibly solid with Pep and without Pep. So don’t be troubled. This club had success before my arrival here, with (Roberto) Mancini and with (Manuel) Pellegrini, they won a lot of titles and they played really good football. So without me, when I leave — I don’t know when that will be — the structure of the club wants to grow and to be solid, this is the most important thing. And they have incredible players, incredible players, this is the reason why. We have that and we want to keep it, we have to reinforce as much as we can because we wanted…

…and here he goes…

We have a lot of money, but we wanted Alexis Sanchez and we could not afford it. We wanted Harry Maguire and we could not afford it. We could not pay like United paid. So we have money, but the other clubs have money too. We spend in the last decade more than we did in the past, yes, but 20, 25, 30 years ago, Arsene Wenger — the guy who defends perfectly Financial Fair Play… so Arsene, you know that Manchester City was correct with what we have done — spent a lot of money to be there. United with Sir Alex Ferguson spent a lot of money to be there. All the clubs, if you want to be on top, all the clubs (spend); if you don’t, it’s more difficult.

Because being a good manager, like I am, I’m not good enough without good players. No way. I am humble enough to accept that without my players I am nothing, zero, that’s why I need my players, and for that I need clubs who are financially strong — like a lot of clubs — to do it.

Do you expect rivals to stop criticising City after CAS’s verdict?

Guardiola: It would be nice, but I don’t think so. What happened in recent years, how many times people came to our club to whisper about us. I would love it to finish, I would like to say to these kinds of people, “Look into our eyes and say something face to face,” and then go to the pitch and play on the pitch and after, if they beat us, don’t hesitate, I will shake their hands and we will congratulate them. But they lost off the pitch. They have to go on the pitch and try to beat us.

I said many times here, if we did something wrong we accept our ban from FIFA, UEFA, Premier League, FA. But we can defend ourselves — I guess — and yesterday was a great day for football, not a bad day for football, because it showed that we play by the same rules that all the elite clubs in the Premier League and Europe play by. If it was the opposite we could not play in the Champions League next season but we can play it next season because what we have done is right. It was proper. That’s why they have to accept it, go on the pitch and play against us there.

This was the first time in his press conference that he talked about clubs “whispering”, and harks back to his chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak’s end-of-season interview 12 months ago. City were still under investigation by UEFA and also faced the possibility of a transfer ban from FIFA, which was later dismissed. The City chairman said: “The football world is very small and word comes around very quickly so, you know, when someone somewhere in a leading position in any club says something, or briefs something, guess what? We know about it.”

With City feeling “vindicated” — as CEO Ferran Soriano’s Monday email to staff read — Guardiola was in no mood for reconciliation.

Will you extend your contract?

The 49-year-old insisted Monday’s verdict does not change too much and that there is still plenty of time to discuss it, but he did drop in a touch more defiance.

Guardiola: Some people here in England suggested that we should play in League Two… (If we did) I would stay here.

Javier Tebas suggested CAS was not fit to hear City’s appeal…

Guardiola: He’s another one. This guy, Senor Tebas, must be so jealous of English football. He’s an incredible legal expert from what I see, maybe next time I’ll ask him which court and judges we have to go to. He has to be worried and concerned about La Liga and focus on there, but normally with these kinds of people when the sentence is good for him it is perfect — as has happened many times in Spain — but when it is against him, the problem is for the other ones. We will be in the Champions League next season, Senor Tebas, because what we did, we did it properly.

This was Guardiola at his sarcastic, settling-old-scores best. That slightly subdued start to the press conference was well and truly behind him now. Tebas is a long-time critic of City’s spending and the source of their funding yet, as Guardiola referenced, has not had much to say about Barcelona’s and Real Madrid’s various run-ins with the footballing authorities. Yet when Guardiola was fined by the FA in 2018 for wearing a yellow ribbon in support of Catalonia’s politicians, Tebas said he was “in favour” of the decision.

It also brings to mind Guardiola’s criticism of former club Barcelona in February, when he warned them not to “talk too loud” after their chairman thanked UEFA for banning City, and added, somewhat menacingly, that he hoped the two sides can meet on the pitch — which could happen in this season’s Champions League semi-finals.

Do City get respect?

Guardiola: This club tried for the whole history, at Maine Road or with our heroes like Colin Bell or Mike Summerbee, the legends that we have had, including Joe Hart in recent years, we have done our best to do it on the pitch. What this club has done in the last decade has been done on the pitch.

I know that for elite clubs — especially Liverpool, United, Arsenal — it is uncomfortable us being here, but they have to understand we deserve to be with them, competing with them. We want to go on the pitch competing with them and try to achieve the things that they have achieved in the past, decades ago. We deserve to be stronger year by year. We try.

There are incredible people working in this organisation, working incredibly hard to make this club better and make our fans proud. We don’t have to ask permission to be there, we deserve to be there. When we lose, I will shake the hand of my opponents and colleagues, as we have done — sometimes unfairly in the Champions League and Premier League — and congratulate them as all the time we have done.

It’s as simple as that. So, guys — accept it. We want to be here, and we tried. On the pitch, we play as much as possible. Sometimes we win, sometimes not, but they have to understand it. If they don’t agree, just knock on the door for our chairman or our CEO and talk, don’t go from behind and have seven, eight, nine clubs whispering and going from behind. Go and do it on the pitch, not behind, because this is not a club for 10 years. In these 10 years, this club has made a step forward.

We have invested a lot of money — like a lot of clubs — but in these 10 years we did the right thing because if not, we would be banned. And we are not banned, because we followed the FFP rules, the rules that UEFA and FIFA have decided to do. If not, we would be banned and could not play. We play because we have done things properly, in the right way. That’s why we follow the UEFA rules. They dictate what we have to do, and we do it. People have to understand right now that we are here to try to compete on the pitch and at the same level as the elite clubs in the Premier League but in Europe too. We can be here.

This is the first time anybody at City has publicly addressed the common suggestion from supporters that Europe’s top clubs — the established elite — do not want City at the table, and that they have tried to get them kicked out. “Guys — accept it” is a message that will delight the club’s fans, and sums up the mood around the club this week.

It is not the first time, however, that Guardiola has referred to the “unfair” refereeing/VAR decisions his side have experienced in recent years. The deliberate emphasis on “sometimes unfairly” was indicative of his mood on the day: he was out to make several points and did not want any subtleties to be missed.

Will City now do their talking on the pitch?

Guardiola: Yeah, like we have done every game in every competition (in) the last three or four years. We will respect our opponents and try to beat them on the pitch. People cannot forget, we were damaged. Our prestige and reputation was damaged with accusations that now we have shown were not true. That’s why they have to be happy, or should at least accept — because we should complain and we haven’t, so the other ones shouldn’t say much more than this.

Again, for all their defiant statements against UEFA in the past year or so, City have not spoken out against other clubs as much as they would perhaps have liked. Guardiola’s assertion that City “should complain and we haven’t” makes it clear the club have chosen not to make public comments — for example in their ongoing feud with Bayern Munich.

Are rival Premier League clubs jealous of City’s spending?

Guardiola may have rounded on City’s rivals, but he was not about to let the wording of the question slide: he has said for many years now that City spend similarly to other top clubs and that those clubs needed a period of spending to establish themselves as the elite, a word on which he put great emphasis in this answer.

Guardiola: Listen, a lot of clubs invest. United, Arsenal, in periods before they won all the leagues, they invested more money than the other ones. When Chelsea started to win Premier Leagues, they invested more money than the other ones. I’m a good manager but I don’t win titles if I don’t have good players and good players are expensive. But all the clubs spend a lot of money. Barcelona spend a lot of money, (Real) Madrid spend a lot of money, English teams spend a lot of money. But if we build the club in the last decade to compete with the elite of the Premier League or Champions League, we need to invest.

We invested by creating incredible facilities here in the training ground and we do it, and we make mistakes, of course we make mistakes, but we do it. We can spend as much money as our chairman or our owners want, but always, always in the Financial Fair Play rules and we showed it, we were there.

In the last decade — FIFA, UEFA — we were exonerated for something we were accused of, all the time. That is the reality. We can be there, like all the clubs, but always on the pitch. When we won here, guys, it was on the pitch. All the good things we have done, all the bad things we have done, it was on the pitch, in the grass, in the green, there. We win, we want to be congratulated. They beat us, we are going to congratulate them.

Has all this brought you closer to the club?

Guardiola: I love this club. I love because I know the people here and I’m working for a long time. We have our history. I don’t know if it’s better or worse, it doesn’t matter, it’s our history. I love it. I like it. I like to work with the people I’m working with, I like it.

When we do something wrong, I’m the first to say we have to apologise or have to accept the punishment or whatever, the big statements, they can do it. But it was not the case. It was not the case. I don’t want to apologise for anything. I’m sorry, guys. Manchester City don’t have (to) apologise because the three independent judges decided we have done everything properly. It’s clear. More than clear, it’s impossible.

So, of course I’m going to defend my club, and I’m critical of my club. Internally, when I don’t like something, I say to my chairman. My chairman is not happy with me because we are 21 points behind Liverpool. He’s not happy with me, but we discuss internally to try and do better next season, to convince them — but always on the pitch. And the people who say something, go ahead and tell us here face to face, not behind.

“Sorry, guys” is a go-to line when Guardiola is in defiant mood. When his style was questioned after a defeat by Barcelona in 2016, he said, “I’ve won 21 trophies in seven years. Sorry, guys.” And when those questions kept coming after elimination from the Champions League by Monaco later that season, he pointed out: “I think ‘exceptional’ for all the managers around the world is that sometimes during the season they win a title. That is the normal situation all around the world. Exceptional is my career, I’m sorry, that is exceptional.”

Proof that he can drop the humility when he believes he and his club are called into question unfairly.

How do you feel about Mourinho and Klopp criticising the CAS decision?

Guardiola: All I say is that all of them (have) their opinions, for Jurgen and Jose, but I tell Jose and Jurgen that today was a good day for football. A very good day. It was clear what happened. And that’s nice.

Funnily enough, there were no questions about the Bournemouth game.

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6 hours ago, Magic Lamps said:

It was very close distance but the arm is in a very unnatural position and the elbow moves towards the ball pushing it away, IMO a clear pen.

I agree but I assumed in real time, Doherty was trying to protect himself from the overhead kick/high boot. The movement/position of the hand was not in the natural position but surely some common sense was/is needed with the PK rules?

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After 15 managers and five owners at Leeds – is football’s biggest comeback on?



In the beginning was the Yorkshire Consortium and for as long as that random collective held together, it played God. The group took no blame for Leeds United’s relegation in 2004 — too late to the party to do much about it after their March takeover — but a motley crew of local businessmen, devoid of specialist football acumen, is where the story of the EFL years starts.

It bought Leeds in the week I joined the Yorkshire Evening Post, its members’ faces splashed on the front page one morning beneath the headline “Brave New World”. That was one way of putting it.

Gerald Krasner, the insolvency expert who led that consortium and now has the task of guiding Wigan Athletic out of administration, held a press conference a few hours later in the conference suite at Elland Road. He explained in detail how Leeds could be brought to heel in the Premier League, despite their debts and a horrendously low league position. Those debts, Krasner insisted, were manageable with Premier League income. The situation shouldn’t be fatal.

A question piped up from the back of the hall.

“What if you go down?”

Krasner thought about this and answered smoothly. “If we go down, we’ve got a plan for that too,” he said. That road is mapped out. Except nobody really had a plan for Leeds in the Championship; not a credible method of realigning accounts which exposed liabilities of more than £100 million.

In any event, the Yorkshire Consortium involved marriages of convenience. It served up champagne in the boardroom and one of its members, Simon Morris, liked to use the astroturf pitches at the club’s training ground for his own kickabouts, showing up in a T-shirt with “The Boss” written on it. The consortium lived the life of football club owners until the music stopped.

Gerald Krasner Ken Bates Leeds United
Krasner welcomes Bates to Leeds in 2005 (Photo: Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

“That group deserved a bit of credit for cutting the debt,” one former Leeds director told The Athletic. “They did actually get the figures down and that needed to be done, or the club was dead. But in terms of understanding football, forget it. It (the consortium) had a limited shelf life because those personalities together in one room was never going to work for long. They came together almost by default because the club was so desperate for someone to take it on.”

That, for almost 20 years, has been Leeds’ fate: an entity of perceived but unattainable value, passed around between men who fancied it and engulfing players and managers who served as lightning rods for disillusionment on the terraces. I took a phone call once from a coach who was losing the will to live as Leeds became tangled in a messy takeover (takeovers at Leeds had a habit of being messy). “I know we’ve been shit,” he said. “I know the results aren’t good enough. I have to do better. But you want to try keeping it going when nobody seems to be in charge. We’re out here on our own.”

Leeds stewed in an angry environment, a club deprived of satisfaction. Ambition was comatose and the mind was sedated.

They sold season tickets by the thousands because it was Saturday afternoon and what else were you going to do on a Saturday afternoon? Away allocations sold without fail because, as one supporter joked while Leeds were trying to avoid getting relegated back to League One in 2014-15, it’s a top day out either side of the football. The club clung to the flimsy promise of an awakening, something more credible than the Yorkshire Consortium’s brave new world.

And now here they are on the verge of the Premier League, four points shy of promotion with three games to play and with Marcelo Bielsa driving them forward.

Is one of English football’s biggest comebacks finally on?

January 2005. Ken Bates is hosting a fans’ forum at Elland Road, which is not to say he is there to listen to them.

The Yorkshire Consortium is moving on and Bates, as the face of an off-shore entity called the Forward Sports Fund, has taken over the boardroom. Leeds’ debts are lower now than a year earlier but not inconsiderable. Before taking its leave, the Yorkshire Consortium sold Elland Road and the Thorp Arch training ground to help repay the loans it took out to buy Leeds in the first place. Much of the family silver was gone.

Supporters who try to address Bates at length, spelling out the decline of the past three years, are cut short. “I’m not being funny,” Bates says to one of them. “Just ask your question.” It’s a change of tone, as it was always likely to be with Bates. For a while, officials at Leeds wore haunted looks as the press and public pressed for answers and blood. There’s a bemused atmosphere in the room as Bates, for so long the face of Chelsea, tells the gathering in front of him he has no intention of ruling by committee. “We’ll have a lorra lorra laughs,” he says at the end, reprising TV presenter Cilla Black’s catchphrase. The crowd aren’t holding their breath.

Who knows what sort of life Bates craved but it was hard to shake the feeling he was at his happiest when he was on the warpath.

I went to interview him in 2011, at a time when Leeds’ transfer policy was under attack, and asked him if he was aware of the clamour for him to change tack or sell up and leave. “Water off a duck’s back,” he replied. “I’m going nowhere. In fact, I plan to walk behind you at your funeral.” I was 30 then, and Bates was well into his eighties. You would never bet against him outliving you. But where did the appetite for conflict come from? What was the appeal? He gave up control of Leeds in 2012 but only when Andrea Radrizzani purchased the club four years later did Bates fade from view, no longer interested in being on the scene.

His battles swung from sacking Kevin Blackwell for alleged gross misconduct (Blackwell was accused of letting news of an unexpected tax bill which landed at Elland Road slip to the media) to a libel case involving Melvyn Levi, a member of the Yorkshire Consortium.

We arrived in the press room one Saturday lunchtime in 2007 to find Leeds’ media officials using black markers to redact a line of text in Bates’ programme notes. As their dispute intensified, Bates had chosen to publish Levi’s home address in his column. Levi in turn sought a court injunction. By then it was going horribly wrong on the pitch, too. On the eve of the 2006-07 season, Blackwell warned Bates during a meal at Elland Road that a substandard squad might lead to relegation to the third tier. Bates’ wife, Suzannah, was so annoyed by the suggestion that she got up from the table and left. But Blackwell wasn’t wrong.

The EFL years, for those of us at close hand, built up a picture of what life on the inside of Leeds could do to a manager. Slowly, it strips away the bulletproof shell coaches try to display.

Whether you rated Gary McAllister or not, you would have sympathised with the sight of him in the tunnel at Tranmere Rovers on December 6, 2008, exhausted by results, visibly drained and crossing his fingers that the imminent transfer window would cure some of the deficiencies in this team. “If we get to January, we’ll be fine,” he said. “I know what we need to do.”

He didn’t make it as far as Christmas.

Gary McAllister Leeds United manager
McAllister was worn down by the problems at Leeds as manager (Photo: Christopher Lee/Getty Images)

Uwe Rosler felt the weight of the job so much that he admitted to struggling to sleep at night. Brian McDermott felt like his dismissal was death by a thousand cuts and the final time I spoke to him before he was sacked, he was with his ill mother in hospital. Even Neil Warnock, a manager I crossed swords with, reached the point of phoning to say that actually, his time was up and Leeds would be better off looking for someone else.

And so it went on. Paul Heckingbottom called from a family holiday in Greece, wondering if he still had a job (he was yet to cotton on to the fact Leeds were courting Bielsa). John Carver got in touch after a 5-1 defeat at Luton to hold his hands up and bow out as caretaker but to make sure he spoke his mind about certain players. Darko Milanic’s steely “See you” as he wrapped up his farewell press conference was the last we heard of him after 32 days as manager. It is evident in hindsight that some of the appointments were misjudged. But when the sword fell, the impact was never anything less than savage.

In 2011, I sat at the back of a pre-season Q&A in Stirling as Simon Grayson, in the middle of a painful summer transfer window, tried to keep the peace as fans got into his ribs about the absence of significant signings. It had got so bad that at one stage I was randomly asked by a club official if I had a number for Barry Ferguson (Ferguson, like me, was Scottish, you see). When Grayson was asked about an injury to his striker, Davide Somma, he told the crowd that he was still waiting for a full diagnosis. At that precise instant, Somma tweeted to confirm he had ruptured an ACL and would be out for six months. “Oh, Simon was pissed about that,” Somma recalled and Leeds’ players were banned from social media the next day. Little by little, Grayson lost his grip.

Dennis Wise and Garry Monk were the only coaches to quit Elland Road on their own terms. One of the indictments of Leeds’ 16 seasons in the EFL is that so few of their managers thrived in a way that tempted chairmen in higher divisions to poach them.

Wise’s 15 months in the dugout extinguished his managerial appetite completely. This was a man who could cut you to strips; a man who, after a summer in which Bates and the Yorkshire Evening Post were at odds over his repurchase of the club through administration, turned up at the first press conference before the 2007-08 season with a huge pile of newspaper cuttings, photocopied for him specially. The first headline read “United Home In Disgrace”, a reference to Leeds’ summer tour of Germany which ended with two red cards against Energie Cottbus. Wise came after me, calling the negative coverage of Bates “rubbish”.

Dennis Wise Leeds United manager
Wise was appointed manager by Bates but lost his passion for the job and departed for Newcastle (Photo: Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

He liked to take on journalists and he liked to fight his corner. Wise set a very early trend for video analysis by bringing a laptop into the press area at Ipswich Town after his captain, Kevin Nicholls, was sent off for elbowing Danny Haynes. Wise wasn’t having it. “This is what we’re up against, chaps,” he would say. “It’s not right and it’s cost us.” He sat in one media briefing at Thorp Arch and went round the writers in front of him, one by one, saying: “I don’t trust you, I don’t trust you, I don’t trust you and I don’t trust you.” But by the last game of his reign, the fire had gone. He took difficult questions without complaint and smiled at times when he would normally have given you the death stare.

There was a bigger plan between Wise and Bates, a plan to get out of League One and take it from there, but the work had taken a pound of flesh. Newcastle were offering him a director’s position for far more money and significantly fewer hours.

If there is one abiding memory of Wise, it is of him being sent to the stands towards the end of a 1-1 draw at Gillingham in September 2007.

He appeared in the press box and spent the closing minutes screaming down his phone at his assistant, Gus Poyet, until Gillingham equalised in added time and Wise dropped his Blackberry. As it smashed on the ground he stood there looking at it, subdued and past the point of caring. The job at Elland Road would leave him feeling like that too.

In some of Leeds’ more directionless seasons, their players were made to look like a supporting cast for the drama around them.

Convention says that footballers should be happy to sign for Leeds United or feel privileged to step through the door but Elland Road can be a maze of politics, too complex and indecipherable to understand or thrive in. Richard Naylor, who captained the club to promotion from League One in 2010, described the post-relegation environment as “always a bit tense, like everyone’s waiting for the next thing to fight about.”

Failure bred resentment and resentment needed more than a scratch of the surface. Sean Gregan had been at Leeds for less than six months in 2004 when he was abused at Elland Road as he and his family tried to get into their car. “It makes you wonder if it’s all worth it,” Gregan said. Even those players who coped and looked good enough so often left unfulfilled.

Sean Gregan Leeds United
Gregan shows his frustration in the Championship play-off final loss to Watford in 2006 (Photo: Barrington Coombs – PA Images via Getty Images)

The demise of Leeds impinged on them, much as some in the dressing room were responsible for the atmosphere.

Wise identified a clique in the squad left to him by Blackwell and took all of 60 seconds to tell Gregan and club captain Paul Butler they would be gone before long. He ran into trouble with Shaun Derry too, removing him from view by sending him on loan to Crystal Palace and then discovering that Derry was unwilling to cut his loan short at a point when Wise needed a midfielder urgently. A voicemail from Derry left on Wise’s phone told him the bad news.

Some of what goes on at Elland Road bemuses the players and gives them stories to tell, like owner Massimo Cellino walking into the kitchen and cooking tomato pasta for the team meal before a 1-0 win over Bournemouth in 2015. It was not the nutritional intake Leeds were used to but most of the players ate the food without complaining, apart from one who asked quite openly: “Where’s my fucking chicken?”

But some of what happens is personal and painful. Nicholls — Wise’s hardman skipper, at least in theory — became so unhappy that he was said to have withdrawn in the mornings before training, avoiding speaking to anyone. In 2007, Derry had the finger pointed at him after Wise’s line-up was leaked to Palace before a game between the teams at Elland Road. Derry was innocent and believed that Wise knew as much but the midfielder resented Wise’s failure to say so publicly. “To this day it sticks in my throat,” Derry said as he left on a permanent transfer back to Palace. “I couldn’t forgive him for the ‘mole in the camp’ episode.”

The same indifference was apparent in 2014 when Leeds’ players and coaching staff were paid late as owners GFH pulled up the drawbridge amid a delay in selling the club to Cellino. One Thursday morning, the salaries failed to drop. No one from Elland Road even thought to warm them in advance.

GFH, more than any other owner, represent the distance Leeds found between themselves and footballing sensibility.

Other than the unrealistic notion that flipping the club quickly might make the Bahraini bank some money, it seemed to have no idea why it got involved. Today, it does not even seem to know when it got involved. GFH recently published a “history of achievements” in which it referenced its purchase of Leeds in 2008. The deal was actually done four years later.

One journalist tells the story of handing a business card to Salem Patel on the day of GFH’s introductory press conference and asking the new Leeds’ director to keep in touch. Not long after, his card was found dumped on a nearby table. GFH liked to spin and spin, to vet questions before interviews and roll out shiny press releases but push on the issues and its mind went blank. An example of how much that regime crossed its fingers was the discovery of a gypsy charm bag accidentally left behind in one of the executive offices at Elland Road.

Leeds, for too long, were built for underperformance. And underperformance is what they got on the pitch.

They were two goals from eclipsing their worst ever defeat when they were thrashed 6-0 by Sheffield Wednesday under McDermott in January 2014. GFH considered sacking him at half-time that day and, from then on, told McDermott to submit his intended line-ups in advance.

Even when the club got it together, there was a horrible habit of falling at the last: in the play-offs four times and then under Monk, who had a top-six spot in his grasp with four games to play three years ago. A seventh-placed finish after three points from the last 15 available led to three weeks of briefing and counter-briefing in which Monk’s camp told you he wanted an improved contract and Leeds questioned whether he wanted to stay at all.

Before Bielsa, only Grayson was able to stop the tide from rolling over him completely. Promotion to the Championship in 2009-10 was something the club should never have aspired to but was all they had to show for the 14 years before Bielsa’s appointment.

Midway through May 2018, I was contacted by a colleague at an American news outlet.

Leeds were saying nothing about the future of Paul Heckingbottom but their silence was taken as an admission that his position as manager, after a 13th place finish, was very vulnerable if not untenable. “They’re trying to hire Marcelo Bielsa,” I was told. “It could be a disaster but it wouldn’t be the first at Leeds.” A month later, the appointment came to pass.

The perception of going for Bielsa as a reckless gamble reminds you of how little most of us knew about him.

If you concentrated on the fiery moments of his career, the risks involved spoke for themselves but it is only when you observe him in the flesh that you appreciate the contrast between Bielsa and the individuals who had failed to push Leeds on. There is no winging it and no pretence about his ability to do his job. You never look at Bielsa and find yourself asking how he was able to fool so many people. What would he have made of GFH, Bates or Cellino? How would he have reacted to the club’s habit of drawing cash from players they should have been trying to keep? How sad would he be if he picked through the detailed history of Leeds United since 2004?

Football is supposed to inspire the people.

On the day the Yorkshire Consortium did its deal to acquire the club, Krasner said something that stuck in my head.

“The club is off life support,” he insisted. “The club is now solvent and we look forward to retaining our Premier League status.”

How little anyone knew and how much they know now. How hard it all is to believe. The effect of an existential crisis was that Leeds United, for more than a decade, did nothing more than seek to exist.

On the brink of promotion, just four points away, Bielsa has reminded them how it feels to live.

(Main image: Leeds fans after their 2006 Championship play-off final defeat to Watford, the closest they have come to a return to the Premier League, until now. Photo: Barrington Coombs – PA Images via Getty Images)


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Inside Leroy Sane’s transfer (and the bad blood between Bayern and Man City)


Inside Leroy Sane's transfer (and the bad blood between Bayern and ...

The latest apology came on Thursday night. Leroy Sane was not yet a Bayern Munich player but there were already pictures of him in the famous red shirt all over social media, so it was sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic’s turn, picking up the phone and calling Txiki Begiristain to assure the Manchester City director of football that they had not intended for it to be this way.

It was only last summer that City CEO Ferran Soriano had written a formal letter to his Bayern counterparts, expressing his club’s dismay at the public courting of Sane via the media, leading the Germans’ then-president Uli Hoeness to express his regret.

Twelve months on Sane is, at last, a Bayern player after the clubs managed to put their vast differences aside and agree a deal that could rise to €60 million.

It is the first time that City have lost one of their star players against their wishes since their takeover in 2008, and they have done so to perhaps the most vocal critics of their ownership model throughout the last decade. Roberto Mancini first threatened to have it out with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge in 2010.

The fact that Sane will not play for City again, despite not being able to start his Bayern career until next season, makes clear just how keen both he and City were to bring this saga to a close. The now-deposed back-to-back Premier League champions had wanted to keep him, offering him a new contract two years ago and keeping that deal on the table even after he suffered knee ligament damage last August, at a time when Bayern decided to wait and see.

But Sane’s mind had long been made up. He and manager Pep Guardiola had become exasperated with each other over the past two years (Sane believed he should be playing more, Guardiola believed he needed to do much more to earn it), the winger and his partner had grown to dislike Manchester, and despite differences between his parents and his partner, there was a common desire to move to Munich, where he will earn considerably more money than he did at City. There is also the sporting project offered at Bayern and everything that means to a top German player.

While City indicated that they would be willing to let him go on a free if Bayern didn’t match their valuation this summer, sources in Germany believe the reality is somewhat different. When Sane made it clear to City in June that he would be happy to wait a year and leave for nothing, the club were supposedly spooked and decided to strike a deal with Bayern as soon as possible.

As is often the case with transfers like this, particularly between two clubs with as little common ground as City and Bayern, there are two versions.

Transfer fee, wages and the whys and wherefores are all up for debate.

When Guardiola revealed, bluntly, at a press conference just two weeks ago that Sane “does not want to extend his contract” and that he would be leaving City either this summer or next, it was designed to serve as a line in the sand. Everything was out in the open, everybody knew Sane’s intentions and, if you looked closely enough, how City felt about it.

Yet few expected everything to be resolved within a fortnight. Given the depth of ill-feeling towards each other, it is a wonder they managed to agree on anything at all.

Some of the facts are straightforward. Over the past two weeks, the clubs’ sporting directors — Salihamidzic and Begiristain — conducted talks in a “very cordial, businesslike manner”, according to a source close to the negotiations.

A sporting director’s job description demands that business comes first, so relationships with the game’s most influential figures must be maintained. As a result, the two men were able to reach a satisfactory conclusion, despite the strong feelings of some of their colleagues. Everything ended amicably between City and Bayern.

The risk of another injury scuppering the move for a second time was a factor in the immediacy of the deal, but City were in a hurry to let Sane go anyway. They insist he would not have played much for the club for the rest of this season, as Guardiola felt he was not committed.

There was no element of rushing a deal through before the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s ruling on City’s appeal against their two-year Champions League ban, as has been speculated. Due to COVID-enforced changes to Financial Fair Play rules, club accounts for 2020 and 2021 will be grouped together and averaged out, so there is no difference between June, July or even December.


The only sense of significance regarding the timing comes from the Bayern end. Salihamidzic became an official member of the club’s board on Wednesday, July 1, and the fact he managed to thrash out deals for Sane and Tanguy Kouassi — an 18-year-old defender who has joined on a free from Paris Saint-Germain — the day before added to the sense he had pulled off a huge coup.

Sources close to Bayern believe their capture of Kouassi on a free transfer, which blindsided PSG and left their coach Thomas Tuchel fuming, reinforced for City the real possibility of losing Sane for nothing.

Salihamidzic was pointedly praised by CEO Rummenigge for “successfully concluding” a transfer saga that had occupied Bayern’s minds for well over a year. It was Salihamidzic, a former midfielder for the club, who had championed Sane’s signing early on and he was able to convince the board and then-new coach Hansi Flick the winger was a better fit for Bayern than Timo Werner. The RB Leipzig striker had already provisionally agreed terms with Bayern in spring 2019 but then became disillusioned over their inertia in pushing through a deal that summer.

Generally speaking, it is common for two clubs to both try to claim the high ground over a big transfer, and there is certainly an element of that here.

Such inter-club politics also helps explain the initial discrepancy in Sane’s reported wages. City sources indicate that he will be on a monster €22 million per year (more than €430,000 per week) at the Allianz Arena. At the Bayern end, it’s said to be “only” €17 million (not including signing-on fee), which has come down — due to the pandemic — from the €20 million he initially agreed with them last summer. Bayern have not disputed City’s figures that the deal is worth €49 million plus €11 million in add-ons, however.

City believe they have got a great deal for Sane because they recouped €60 million for a player with one year left on his contract amid the uncertainty of the global pandemic and so soon after a serious knee injury, with all the doubts those can bring.

Bayern, in turn, believe they have pulled off a masterstroke by getting a key player for considerably less than the €120-€150 million fee that had been mooted by City in August. By playing him in the Community Shield, the game where he got injured, City lost out on an extra €70 million or so, plus the €8 million they have paid him in wages while he was recuperating.

City had been working to extend Sane’s contract since summer 2018 to try to avoid exactly this type of situation. It was around that time that Chelsea considered making a move. Despite the tensions between City and Bayern, a move to London would surely have been a less palatable option for the top brass in Manchester.


Marina Granovskaia, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich’s most trusted deal-maker, is a major admirer of the 24-year-old and seriously considered putting a move in place, but ultimately felt it would have been too complicated to pull off.

Indeed, it was not always easy for Bayern or even City to conduct talks with the player. Sane was initially represented by his parents and the first contact between the clubs was through Giovanni Branchini, an Italian agent who has done plenty of business with both teams in the past.

But last summer, Sane joined David Beckham’s agency before Beckham — the owner of new MLS franchise Inter Miami — quickly had to recuse himself due to US soccer regulations. After that, he moved to LIAN Sports, which ruffled a few feathers at Bayern but ultimately landed him an impressive contract.

While Begiristain and Salihamidzic were able to reach a conclusion that surely suits all parties, despite all the crowing, it is unlikely to bring an end to the mutual antipathy between City and Bayern.

That bad feeling goes all the way back to City’s 2008 takeover and Bayern’s three most powerful executives — Rummenigge, Hoeness and former president Franz Beckenbauer — making it clear, right from the start, that they were not prepared to sit back and quietly watch them try to get a place at football’s top table.

One specific comment gets to the heart of this conflict more than any other.

City brought in lawyers on one occasion when Hoeness reportedly claimed that every time Guardiola wanted a player costing over €100 million, he would put together some video clips and the transfer would be waved through before “the Sheikh raises the price of oil to recoup the money”.

A highly placed source at City described it privately as “the remark of a smug, arrogant egotist”.

As it turned out, that quote had been mistranslated. Hoeness did not suggest the Sheikh manipulates oil markets (which is potentially libellous) but that he simply sells more — “he opens up the gas tap a few millimetres more, and he’s even again”.

Of course, the sentiment is very similar.

City believe it is a case of old money versus new, while Bayern protest it is not so much the source of the Manchester club’s money, but that the supply of it is theoretically infinite. While they have dedicated themselves to forging hugely lucrative commercial partnerships, they feel City are state-owned and that they distort the market.

Senior Bayern sources also insist there is no personal animosity towards City and their owners but they’ve come to understand that the English club’s Abu Dhabi-based backers see it that way. Indeed, City believe several comments over the years have strayed close to xenophobia.

City had also deemed it hypocritical, to some extent, that during the public courting of Sane last summer, Bayern’s then-manager Nico Kovac also said they had to “fight against states and billionaires” in the transfer market, naming Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Qatar were commercial partners for Bayern at the time, and still are.

Those public comments about Sane — Kovac saying he was “confident” a deal would get done and various Bayern players welcoming the move — are another sore point. Although the final negotiations were civilised, City feel Bayern’s strategy only strengthened the player’s resolve to leave. However, it must be said that he had already indicated his desire to do so, which is precisely why the public comments started.

Soriano wrote to Bayern and, to their credit, Hoeness and Kovac apologised publicly, although the latter’s contrition was not exactly fulsome. He said of his earlier comments: “I always speak the truth. What I said was absolutely right and is verified.”

City feel it is another example of Bayern lacking class, while Bayern see it as par for the course at top clubs, especially once there is already an agreement over personal terms (as there was in this case). Clubs in continental Europe are generally more accepting of this than their English counterparts.

Although City have never responded publicly, they were unimpressed by what they perceived to be aggressive tactics in the pursuit of Sane — but not necessarily surprised, given they experienced something similar with Jerome Boateng in the past.

In the case of Boateng, Bayern opened up with an £8 million offer for a player City valued nearer £18 million. City’s opinion was that it was a derisory offer. They did not make that public, however, whereas Bayern seemed outraged not to get their way and turned on City in the media. A compromise was eventually reached for the defender at around £13 million, and senior City officials still look back on that with disdain to this day.

Relations suffered previously when Guardiola was Bayern’s manager and the Bundesliga club, along with everybody else in football, knew it was City’s intention to one day to lure him to the Etihad, although Beckenbauer once claimed he had no concerns about losing Guardiola because the Catalan would not go to “a club like Manchester City”.

Guardiola and Hoeness remain friends and have dined together in Munich in recent years, while Bayern have often discussed the possibility of City being thrown out of the Champions League for FFP breaches — and they may soon get their wish.

City have found it increasingly offensive that Rummenigge and Hoeness have felt authorised to preach to them about the rights and wrongs of how to run a football club, given Hoeness received a three-year prison sentence in 2014 for fraud offences relating to the concealing of £22.4 million from tax inspectors, a year after Rummenigge accepted a €249,000 fine for not paying tax on two Rolex watches presented to him in Qatar.

Credit to the sporting directors for getting the Sane deal over the line, despite all that.

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15 minutes ago, Fulham Broadway said:

Dirty Leeds -hopefully straight back down

Not a fan of the club but you have to respect Beilsa. He is a seriously good manager who has been incredibly unlucky at the final hurdle when managing throughout his career. I would like to see him taste abit more success because he deserves it. There is a reason why Pep and other top managers praise him as the best coach in the World. 

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3 minutes ago, DDA said:

Not a fan of the club but you have to respect Beilsa. He is a seriously good manager who has been incredibly unlucky at the final hurdle when managing throughout his career. I would like to see him taste abit more success because he deserves it. There is a reason why Pep and other top managers praise him as the best coach in the World. 




Patrick Bamford has played a fairly big role in helping Leeds United to the brink of Premier League promotion.

The 26-year-old has started 41 of the Whites’ 43 Championship games so far this season, scoring 16 times.

Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa is evidently a huge fan of Bamford, having only started Eddie Nketiah – in Arsenal’s first XI on a regular basis since January – once between August and December.

It would be heartbreaking for Bielsa if he has to abandon his loyalty to the former Middlesbrough hitman and sign a better striker for next season if when United are back in the Premier League, but that might well be what Victor Orta demands.

Tammy Abraham, Che Adams and Dwight Gayle scored 70 Championship goals between them last season. In the Premier League this season, they have a combined 18 – and Abraham has 14 of them.


Point is, the Premier League is a massive step-up in class for strikers and if Bamford is only a decent goalscorer at this level, which he is, then Leeds just can’t expect him to lead their line next year.

Yes, he has other elements that make him so popular with Bielsa, but the Elland Road club need a prolific goalscorer on their long-awaited return to the big time and if Bamford isn’t prolific in the Championship, logically he could struggle in a big, big way against top-flight defenders.

It would break Bielsa’s heart if he has to demote Bamford and use him sparingly, but Orta, their Director of Football, will know it’s probably necessary.




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6 minutes ago, Vesper said:




Patrick Bamford has played a fairly big role in helping Leeds United to the brink of Premier League promotion.

The 26-year-old has started 41 of the Whites’ 43 Championship games so far this season, scoring 16 times.

Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa is evidently a huge fan of Bamford, having only started Eddie Nketiah – in Arsenal’s first XI on a regular basis since January – once between August and December.

It would be heartbreaking for Bielsa if he has to abandon his loyalty to the former Middlesbrough hitman and sign a better striker for next season if when United are back in the Premier League, but that might well be what Victor Orta demands.

Tammy Abraham, Che Adams and Dwight Gayle scored 70 Championship goals between them last season. In the Premier League this season, they have a combined 18 – and Abraham has 14 of them.


Point is, the Premier League is a massive step-up in class for strikers and if Bamford is only a decent goalscorer at this level, which he is, then Leeds just can’t expect him to lead their line next year.

Yes, he has other elements that make him so popular with Bielsa, but the Elland Road club need a prolific goalscorer on their long-awaited return to the big time and if Bamford isn’t prolific in the Championship, logically he could struggle in a big, big way against top-flight defenders.

It would break Bielsa’s heart if he has to demote Bamford and use him sparingly, but Orta, their Director of Football, will know it’s probably necessary.




For crying out loud.. I'm trying to get some sleep and you keep posting these interesting articles. 🤬

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47 minutes ago, DDA said:

Not a fan of the club but you have to respect Beilsa. He is a seriously good manager who has been incredibly unlucky at the final hurdle when managing throughout his career. I would like to see him taste abit more success because he deserves it. There is a reason why Pep and other top managers praise him as the best coach in the World. 

True, a good coach.  Meanwhile all us Chelsea old uns wish Leeds a speedy decline. Vile club like Liverpool.

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