The title of this post is perhaps a little optimistic as rumour and speculation often continues well into the new season, but for football fans, 54 days remains until the first ball of the 2011-12 campaign is kicked.

That’s almost two months before we’ll have any idea of the line-up that will hopefully guide us towards a long awaited Premier League return. Still, there’s plenty of speculation, rumours and damn lies to keep sites like this one busy in the meantime.

Invariably, with each transfer window comes the ‘return of the hometown lad’ rumour. I swore I’d not mention his name because the tedium of it all makes me want to tear my hair out, so for the sake of this post let’s refer to him as Calum Myth.

For those of you that can’t figure out who I’m talking about, there’s little hope for you. Survival of the fittest dictates that you’re probably too stupid to survive in this dog-eat-dog world, but I’m not one to turn away visitors so while you’re still alive and kicking here’s a few additional clues for you.

Myth is a 30 year old has-been midfielder whose wages would undoubtedly hinder Simon Grayson’s plans. Whilst he is available at Ken Bates favourite price tag (free), his injury problems mean we’re unlikely to get more than a dozen or so appearances from him. Some fans will refuse to forgive his departure to Scum meaning his arrival would undoubtedly divide the fanbase – and with Ken Bates still in charge, the thin ice our fanbase is currently supported by already has it’s fair share of cracks.

Only time will tell whether Calum Myth does return to Elland Road or not. It’s a scenario that has been considered many times in the past on this site and I still fail to see how his move could be a good thing. Expensive wages, constant injury problems and a divided fanbase – we might as well sign Harry Kewell back and have done with it. At least he was a better than average footballer in the first place.

The other major story doing the rounds is that Simon Grayson will be offered the vacant managers position at Aston Villa. Following a flurry of bets in a North Yorkshire bookies, Grayson’s odds were dramatically slashed as the bookmakers grew suspicious of insider knowledge. However, Grayson’s odds have lengthened again over the past 48 hours with other potential targets becoming favourites.

Grayson, who is currently on holiday in Barbados, apparently knew nothing about the speculation leading the more cynical fans amongst us to question whether the bookies made the North Yorkshire story up to boost interest.

Elsewhere, the talk is all about the midfield and defence. With several of last seasons squad expected to leave the club shortly the line-up come opening day is likely to see several changes from the one that ended last season with victory over the champions, QPR.

The contribution of Neil Kilkenny and Bradley Johnson to our recent fortunes has been quickly dismissed by some who feel a club of Leeds United’s stature can attract a higher calibre of player than those expected to depart. Whilst I wouldn’t disagree with that school of thought, continuity is rarely a bad thing at football clubs. The most successful clubs generally build their team around a key core of players and simply tinker with the edges. Wholesale changes could mean we start the new campaign with a mismatched squad who need time to adjust and gel as a unit.

  • Side Before Self

    Callum myth is still only 30 mate. Not really important, just though I’d mention it. Glad to have you back after your absence

    • TSS

      So he is mate. Sure I read 31 somewhere… Must have imagined it…

  • Craig

    Calum Myth – classic!

    May we all take note of the wise words with which TSS closes his post – “The most successful clubs generally build their team around a key core of players and simply tinker with the edges. Wholesale changes could mean we start the new campaign with a mismatched squad who need time to adjust and gel as a unit.”

    We do not need a whole host of new arrivals this summer, just a few well-chosen recruits. The fact that Grayson is now in Barbados must mean that he has presented Bates + Harvey with his list and is letting them get on with the negotiations.

    • Dje

      I’m not sure I have quite your confidence that we only need a few new arrivals, Craig.

      We have no central midfield, we have no fullbacks and our centre backs are still suspect. That forms a core triangle shape through our team with the apex in the heart of midfield.

      There is no reason to panic buy, but we do need to be busy and to get it right this year rather than get it wrong again like last year (Bessone, Paynter, Collins, Bruce).

  • henryv

    It feels like this time last year.
    We had target players then that we did not get.
    The clubs policy is to have a RIGID pay structure.
    This is a big handicap, as other teams in the Championship are prepared to pay more for the right players.
    Simon tells us that players are desperate to play for us?
    We will have to wait and see, as usual.
    I think that any team that is determined to get promoted should be prepared to push the boat out and speculate to accumulate.
    I wish all clubs would pay sensible wages but they won’t!
    Looking at England U21’s last night, they are not worth more than £10,000 a week!!

  • Chris

    Comparing AS to HK shows a certain lack of intelligence not worthy of any more comment. It’s obvious from last year that we don’t need the next coming of Johann Cruyff, just a decent midfielder with the drive and determination not to wilt in games that turn into physical battles, and the ability to take the rest of the side with him. Fitness & wages withstanding Smithy would fit the bill, as would a few more that are available.

    • TSS

      I think you’ll find the comparison was based on the popularity of said players amongst some fans and the kind of unrest such a move would make.

  • Tony Le Tigre

    i really dont know why we are even looking at this player. first the man u stuff, why bother in the first place when it will split the fans.

    Then you have the fact that he is a failed striker and now a failed midfielder. hes spent most of his time since he left on the bench or in the medical room. so what is he going to bring? there are much better players out there at this level who are younger and fitter.

    people are getting all misty eyed over someone who when you look at his record wasnt that good. lets look forward not back

  • badras

    leeds should be looking at the likes of jack cork and henri lansbury rather than smith but smith would still be a good signing for club

  • Jacko

    jack Cork or Henri Lansbury and Smith (sorry Callum)?

  • Matt BB

    Smith was a key part in newcastle walking out of the championship, so what if he isnt the player he used to be? we arent in the market for signing £7M strikers anymore, he would do a job for us, and we all need to forget about the baggage, the guy has been berated enough.

    With someone like Smith you know what you are getting, and I cant see us plumping for a Jack Cork or a Lansbury to plug our midfield, they arent proven campaigners, they are young lads starting out in the game, theyre good, but what we need is reliability.

    Is Smith injury prone? well no more so than Kisnorbo or Parker, and people are smacking their lips at the prospect of these guys coming back next season, and so they should.

    One name I would like to see us consider at left back is Stephen Crainey who for me was utterly unfairly treated by the fans when he was at Leeds.

    • The Reaper 08

      I repeat again his contribution to that Newcastle side was not as important as some would believe.

      If he was so influential do you think they would have dropped him like they did towards the end of the season ?

      • Matt BB

        Hello reaper, been a while!

        I dont have mases of contacts up in geordieland, but those i do speak to rated smith highly in their championship campagin, though of course the likes of Kevin Nolan tend to pale him into insignificance somewhat!

        Why did they drop him? Well I guess that is one point on which Bates has made his standpoint, stamina and fitness which i understand began to drop off, or perhaps theyre just being polite to a leeds fan about one of their alumni. Whenever i saw Smith in a televised game he looked composed, passed the ball well, and actully didnt seem as psychotic as I recall. I think best of all he would help the likes of Clayton develop.

        • The Reaper 08

          Hi Matt, it is indeed long time no speak. The dropped him for Danny Guthrie and ever since that day he has been an inconsistent feature in the side. A lot of the Geordies love him because Smith is Smith and he will always play with the blood and thunder attitude. If he could combine that with slightly more ability, less injuries and a more realistic salary even I would be tempted.

          • Dje

            All of the following is taken from the in-depth match reports from the Newcastle United official website. Smith was captain and an ever-present member of the starting XI in the first 60% of the season until late January – injury and suspension aside. Newcastle developed a pattern of playing 4-5-1 when away to better opposition, and playing 4-4-2 at home and away at easier opposition.

            In January Chris Hughton brought in six extra team members to bolster their promotion push.

            These are the accounts of Smith’s involvements in Newcastle matches when Guthrie is supposed to have usurped his place. I think you’ll find injury, fixture congestion, formation dilemmas, all played a greater part in it.

            ___________

            30th January. Smith in the traditional 4-5-1 away day formation that draws 0-0 with Leicester.

            Smith is then injured with a thigh injury.
            5th February, Hughton starts with all six of his January signings: for Fitz Hall and Leon Best, with Danny Simpson, Patrick van Aanholt, Mike Williamson and Wayne Routledge. They beat Cardiff at home 5-1.

            9th February, Hughton sticks with the same starting XI, understandably, and opts for a 4-4-2 away day formation at Derby. Smith is on the bench. They lose 3- 0

            13th Febraury. Smith back in XI as captain as a 4-4-2 formaiton draws 1-1 at Swansea and goes top of the table.

            17th February, back at home, 4-4-2, Guateriez returns as Newcastle beat Coventry 4-1 at home.

            20th Febreaury, Chris Hughton is forced into one change with calf victim Wayne Routledge replaced by Alan Smith. Smith resumes his central-midfield partnership with Kevin Nolan, while Danny Guthrie and Jonas Gutierrez occupy the flanks. Newcastle win 3-0.

            27th February, Routledge still injured, Alan Smith as captain in a 4-5-1 formation that beats Watford 2-1 away.

            6th March, ALAN Smith misses out after picking up a knock in training and he is replaced in midfield by Fabrice Pancrate. Newcastle beat a poor Barnsley 6-1 at home.
            13th March, 2-2 away at Middlesborough. Smith still injured with a bad ankle.

            17th March, Smith still injured. Newcastle beat Scunthorpe 3-0 at home.

            20th March, Smith still out. Newcastle draw 2-2 away at Bristol City.

            23rd March, Smith still injured. Newcastle beat Doncaster away 1-0.

            29th March, “Alan Smith will need another week before returning from his ankle knock.” Newcastle beat Notts Forest 2-0 at home.

            3rd April. “CHRIS Hughton has rung the changes for the first of two games in three days with no fewer than five faces coming into the side for the potentially promotion-clinching clash at Peterborough.
            The back five of Steve Harper, Danny Simpson, Fabricio Coloccini, Mike Williamson and Jose Enrique remains the same, but, Kevin Nolan apart, United field a new-look frontline.
            Alan Smith returns to the centre of the park with Danny Guthrie making way, Joey Barton comes in for a first start since September and Fabrice Pancrate will line up on the right-hand side of midfield with Wayne Routledge and Jonas Gutierrez dropping down to the bench.” Newcastle beat Peterborough away, 3-2.

            5th April, two games in three days sees widespread changes. Smith rested. Newcastle beat Sheffield United 2-1 at home. Promoted.

            10th April, Smith on bench as Newcastle beat Blackpool 4-1 at home.

            13th April. Smith back in the starting XI as captain in a 4-5-1 away formation at Reading. Newcastle win 2-1.

            19th April, it is same-again as Smith is in the starting XI as captain in a 4-5-1 away formation at Plymouth. Newcastle win 2-0.

            24th April. Smith drops to the bench as Newcastle revert to a 4-4-2 at home to Ipswich. Newcastle draw 2-2.

            2nd May, Final Game. “Chris Hughton makes several changes for the West London curtain call with Tim Krul, Ryan Taylor, Alan Smith, Joey Barton, Shola Ameobi and Leon Best all handed starts.
            Ryan Taylor comes in for Jose Enrique at the back, while Smith and Barton replace Kevin Nolan and Jonas Gutierrez in midfield.” Newcastle win 1-0 away at QPR.

          • The Reaper 08

            Which is why since that time he has never featured consistently, all down to injury and formation. He must be the unluckiest player in the world to be played so infrequently from then until today.

            Still you would expect to read on a club website that he was dropped for better players wouldn’t you ? Or would they dress it up as something else in case they needed him later or perhaps wanted to offload him.

          • The Reaper 08

            I guess the further point is if your indespensable as a midfield general you are accomodated regardless of formation.

          • Dje

            Possibly unlucky after that season with injuries, but I’d put it down to Smith’s top level of football being the Championship. It’s as simple as that really.

            To be honest with the form that Newcastle were in that season, I can’t see how the official site could ever justify him being ‘dropped’ other than for resting through fixture congestion, and shifts in formation. The same happened to Nolan, Carroll, Guthrie, Routledge etc.

            With a slimmer squad then yes you would expect that your captain and central midfielder would play as and when available. But with a big squad, and an excellent manager who was able to adapt his squad to play suitable formations against whichever particular opposition was next, then rotating it and not being afraid to rest each player -including the club captain – was the best strategy. And we know this as they were almost unbeatable that season.

  • kev

    sorry i just don’t get this big home coming thing for calum,i think it would be a disrastrous signing,he hasn’t scored for 3 years,alot of newcastle fans say he is the worst player in a newcastle shirt they have ever seen,for me it’s got nothing to do with him playing for that shite across the pennines i just don’t think he would conribute to the team,goyt to be better players around !!

  • Jacko

    I think Clayton will have plenty to offer next season, from waht I have seen he likes a tackle and has a great eye for a pass. Still need the midfield general though, whoever that maybe. The one thing all Newcastle fans agree on, is that Callum is a great leader and brilliant to have around the squad on and off the field.

  • Ben Pugh

    Matt BB you have hit the nail on the head with paddy and parker in relation to smith.But crainey?I saw him in a reserves game against shrewsbury town a number of seasons ago and that s still the worst performance from a footballer I have ever seen period.

    • Matt BB

      Hello there,

      I think crainey was largely deplored but look at what hes done since? Surely there is something to be said for his inner resilience that he has managed to become something of a stalwart at Blackpool – plus it was Grayson who saved him form Leeds and turned his career round.

      I have to admit I did see his confidence dip at ER, but towards the end of his time with us when he got played – i think latterly by Blackwell just before the playoff against Watford? he seemed much calmer

  • Ben

    Regarding the Smith situation- any leeds fan wOrth half his salt knows alan smith going to man u was the best thing he cOuld have done for leeds. Numerous offers were on the table but all were monthly installments and not cash up front, also man u were the only ones who matched our valuation of him. This bein considered it is a FACT that if we didnt get that money from them we would have been extinct ala Gretna. Smith was ready to take a massive cut in wages untill the board advised even with that we were in trouble. In doing so surely he’s one of our loyalest fans?! And yes he has not featured much for newcastle this season but this is down to him a) being injured and b) them making international signings like tiote with ireand and gosling also waiting on the sides. If you checked the stats smith was easily one of the most influential mids they had in championship and was up for player of the season for them. Finally calling smith a failed striker is based on what?? He played for us only as a striker and had a very succesful time with it, lets not forget his contributions in europe and at home alongside a very immobile viduka.

  • Mighty White

    Thankyou Ben! Many Leeds fans are of the uneducated fool yolk and have never heard – or listened – to the true facts about Alan Smith. He was one of the hottest prospects in English football till he left Leeds and he has never been the same since, many would put it down to injury but I believe he has lacked passion. Every game I have seen Smith play in he has been a very good player but lacked that bite he had with Leeds and seemed to be playing within himself instead of the proverbial ‘dying for the cause’ we saw at Leeds. Even before the horrific injury for THAT team he lacked it for them too, if he came back, he would be twice the player he would be for any other team, the Messiah shall return and lead us back to the promised land. MOT.

  • Ron Devie

    Just realised that Simon Grayson is currently on holiday in Barbados where a certain Wayne Rooney and Andy Carroll are also to be found! Coincidence – I think not!! Maybe Papa Smurf’s pockets are deeper than we realised and next season will be even more all out attacking and goals – who needs a defence with that strike force? PS just trying to cheer myself up because I’m bored of all the inactivity…

  • WheelsV1

    It not about calum’s past it here and now I couldnt care least all we care if quality walks thru are door not if he could be good Anuf. also the guy says jack cork not proven he had couple of seasons wiv burnley now and ask thm they snap ur hand off for him bak, as would list championship teams

  • number1inyorkshire

    smith has the biggest problem that many a footballer has and that is he got badly injured ,they are never ever the same again .

    personally i don’t really want him back there are better players than him available .
    i do agree that the new rules coming in will put more teams on a level playing field regarding transfers but is it based on percentage of takings then obviously some will have more to spend than others and bates still won,t spend it

    just one question why do we keep our players on for so long until end of june its costing money in wages for players who will never play again end of season and playoffs then get shut

  • Martin Lazialle

    I Think Callum would be an excelent player for us, again with te White shirt, I love that!. The poll in te YEP sez 71% want Callum S. Myth back in Leeds, against 25%.
    I hope we get him back. And he can play in place of Bradders or Killa. We need at least one GK, one CB two or three SB (mostly left ones) Two midfielders and one good CF because Paynter isn´t good enough.
    I Love Leeds, from Argentina a great LUFC Fan. (I have my blog about Leeds: http://spanishleeds.blogspot.com/)
    Martín Lazialle
    MOT!

  • James McG

    We Leeds fans do love players from the past don’t we.
    We want them back at the club constantly be it as a manager or a player. Never understand it myself.
    We haven’t got the finance to fund the wage demand of this former player so entertaining the discussion is mute

  • kev

    well said james i’m with you,lets move on calum is in Leeds past, thats where he should stay,who’s next seth johnson,carlton palmer if any player was to return lee bowyer would be a better option

  • Tim Campbell

    chopra to ipswich? Other clubs in the championship are already stating their intentions

  • Matt BB

    I note Elliot Kebbie is off to Barcelona, and we are entitled to compensation for his services. This is obviously disappointing on one count as apparently this kid was superb. On another however even £1M towards our transfer kitty will be welcome.

    Just hope Ken spends it wisely. I’d like to see him go for some really nice plush, velvet effect seating in the bar are in the East Stand. Hope it doesnt get thrown away on some `defender’ or something of that sort.

    • Dje

      Lightning quick but nothing else. If you are a speedy winger then you still have to be able to run with the ball, to be able to cross, to read the game, to shoot, to round the keeper. I guess that’s why Usain Bolt keeps going on about how he is good enough and thinking about joining Man United, whereas Man United keep inviting him along for training publicity sessions and lap up the world medias interest in them without any real interest in signing him.

      If Kebbie offered any real talent then I think we would have seen him cropping up in our reserves or even under-18s once in a while. As far as I can tell he’s never played above his peers for us, not once.

      I find it hard to believe that a club such as Barcelona will be unduly impressed by Olympiad speed but no noticeable football skills. That would be better for a club that is a bit desperate, where you just chuck on a speedy kid in hope that he might do something (not sure why I have Steve McClaren’s tooth grinning face here).

  • Matt BB

    I’d say Man United & Barcelona have something of a track record of identifying good youth players? Do you think youre being a little harsh?..

  • Dje

    No. Man Utd had a look at him for around the £1m price tag last year and clearly didn’t rate him enough for that amount (which isn’t much for a potentially lightening quick winger) unless he improved (football-wise not pace).

    His mother has relocated the lad to Spain, Spain hasn’t come calling for him. I’ve no doubt that if you called up Barcelona and said “I’m in Spain with my young son who is currently on the books at Leeds United, can he come in for a trial?” They’d politely say that they have a different and more traditional youth scouting set-up that doesn’t require cold-callers.

    But add “By the way, he can run 100m in under 11 seconds”, then they would definitely say “Of course, bring him in”. What have they to lose?

    When after having a look at him, they say “thanks but no thanks, ‘though we will keep an eye on him” then I’m sure she’ll call up Real Madrid … and after that Valencia … and after that Sevilla … and after that…

    Levante will probably have him, they took Harte,

  • hemswhite

    Smith back for me, for him to step out at ER in that white shirt after all that’s been said and done, shows plenty of bottle and an unburning desire to play for the club where is heart lies, a club he loves. if hes prepared to run the gauntlet and suffer the pelters, so he can once again tread on the hallowed turf. then that shows one thing for me. he’s Leeds through and through. come back miffa back where you belong ewd lad.

  • mark

    We should move for Keith treacy. did well last year, is definitely gonna move as well. But the deal may be done to burnley by the time grayson comes back

  • Tim Wilsom

    And now talk of Woodgate, surprise surprise. Any word from Oz