Elland RoadFor Leeds United fans, this has to be the most relaxing summer in recent years.

Ken Bates is nothing more than a self-appointed irritant these days, seemingly silenced by the new regime, unable to ruin Whites fans summers like he has for the last several years.

Brian McDermott exudes a calming confidence when it comes to transfer targets, assuring Leeds United fans he’s making progress without provoking the kind of pandemonium any transfer-related comments did under previous management.

The board members of GFH, particularly Salem Patel, have been conspicuous only by their silence. A strategy that has perhaps irked a few bored fans, but one which I welcome after so many years of Ken Bates undermining managers with his nonsensical comments and blame games.

Sure, there’s a few lingering doubts and some unknowns we’re all a little worried about, but patience has been the defining factor of the last few weeks.

A lot of this newly found calmness comes down to the media. It’s said that if you don’t feed the beast, the beast will feed on you, but that hasn’t really been the case. Crazy transfer speculation has been kept to a minimum, there’s been no panic-inducing stories about our ownership or the funds Brian McDermott has at his disposal, it’s all been pretty pleasant really. Patient.

Without wishing to tempt fate, it feels like Leeds United’s ship has finally been steadied. Like someone at Elland Road has a handle on things, someone who has managed to keep the nonsense to a minimum and bring people together.

Perhaps Brian McDermott has been the unifying figure we’ve needed for so long. I vaguely remember a Salem Patel interview before McDermott was appointed in which the Leeds United director said the club was looking for someone who could manage all aspects of a football club, someone who would involve himself in matters at all levels.

It was an interesting statement because it spoke volumes to the difficulties previous managers have faced. Under Ken Bates, it was never entirely clear who was pulling what strings. Gwyn Williams, Leeds United’s technical director, was one such obstacle. Having followed Bates from Chelsea, he’s always been viewed suspiciously by many Whites fans. Neil Warnock’s latest autobiography is scathing in its assessment of Williams, with Warnock saying he has no idea what Williams’ job is.

Then there’s Shaun Harvey, a former postman who oversaw two administrations at Bradford City while managing director. He was also a key player in the stunt that saw Leeds United placed into administration while Ken Bates managed to retain ownership. Perhaps the single dodgiest moment in the club’s history, which led to an investigation by HMRC.

For whatever reason, Harvey became central to every transfer and contract negotiation as our hapless managers saw hordes of players reject the once mighty Whites for lesser clubs offering better terms, while the key players we did have lined up to refuse contract extensions, leaving the club with “no choice” but to cash in on them, without the money ever finding its way into the managers’ budget.

Technical directors and CEO’s are important to the successful running of a football club, but there has to be a clear chain of power and separation of issues. The manager has to have absolute power over the football side of things, a clear budget to spend as he pleases and a technical director whose role is to support – not overshadow – him. We all saw the disastrous impact of Dennis Wise at Newcastle United, a situation that occurred partly because of Wise’s inexperience, but mostly because the manager’s power was being undermined.

Reassuringly, Brian McDermott seems comfortable with the chain of command at Elland Road. A calming figure, one confident in his ability to get the right players in without the madness we’ve witnessed in previous years.

There’s been one voice speaking from Elland Road this summer, a soothing voice of reason who has managed to give us all a relaxing break from the manic tribulations of Leeds United FC. McDermott gives the impression of total control. Gone are the mixed messages causing widespread panic among our fanbase, gone are the press reports of unrest and mayhem.

All of a sudden, Leeds United feels like a professionally run football club, instead of the circus freak-show it’s been for the last decade.

Players’ contracts expire at the end of this month, an event which usually kicks the transfer window into gear as clubs’ wage bills are cleared up and managers start to assess where they are, who they can sell and where they need to strengthen.

July and early August will be the litmus test for McDermott, and so too for GFH. Patience doesn’t last long once player movement really begins, from there on out, the pressure heightens and Leeds United’s fanbase will be reduced to an emotional train-wreck of contrasting views, teetering on the brink of civil war.

How McDermott handles the heightened pressure, what players he can sign, what funding he’ll have to play with – these are all issues for another day. For now at least, relax and enjoy the unfamiliar sense of calm in the glorious British sunshine. Neither of those things will last long.

On and on…

  • Mital

    Indeed, McDermott seems a great man leading us – finding the tiniest of sensible improvements like changing the size of Thorp Arch pitch to correct size. What however worries is whether he does have the budget to get good players. Not asking for millions and each player costing 1m+, but even players costing 300-500K or about. Don’t know what truth are the the rumours, but Noel Hunt, Marlon King, Anthony Stokes etc aren’t player that get any fan excited or opposition worried. Yes it is early to judge, but lets hope we are getting good players!
    Mital – Nairobi, Kenya!

  • Ron

    If Brian McDermott has been dudded by GFH, then I will be happily dudded also. He certainly appears to be well regarded and more importantly liked in football circles – i.e. players and managers take his phone calls. Matt Mills on loan would be a great deal if we can pull it off. As much as I like Doyle, do we really need another big striker with Morrison and Smith on the books? I actually think the key to our season rests with where McDermott plays Ross and Byram. If he gets the former in his right place, I think we’ll see a different side. Fingers crossed the wingers are on their way also. Lastly, I fancy Dawson and Poleon can figure this season and make an impact. It will be great tto have a batch of youngsters fighting for promotion.

  • Arnie

    You fail to mention the very real possibility of a takeover which could throw pre-season preparations into tumult. And the fact that in terms of transfers bar Matt Mills (who we allegedly can’t afford anyway) the vast majority of the players linked with LUFC so far are the usual bag of freebies and players running down their contracts. I haven’t been inspired by many of the players linked so far. I agree that McDermott seems like a steadying influence (and might actually know what he is doing), but Shaun Harvey is still in place and Bates remains, albeit ominously in the background. It’s also still unclear whether GFH Capital have the funds to back a promotion push.

    • TSS

      There’s always a possibility of a takeover, at every club. No real evidence to suggest Leeds United are preparing for one, it’s just pub gossip. Same as most of the transfer targets, most of which originated on Twitter.

  • WurzelCol

    A team of players that will put their bodies on the line for BmC and the fans , playing attractive football (on the deck) is all i want.I think BmC is the man to achieve that ellusive return to the Greedyshite , sorry, Premiershite, oops,Premiership…..

  • Bluesman

    Leeds like a lot of other Championship sides do not have the cash to go out sign top quality players. The championship is not very lucrative place to be if you splash the cash. Then look at the debts that Bates has left us with and you can see why BM is doing a great job in trying to get decent players in, but without having a massive budget at his disposal. With luck and a little bit of investment and some BM magic we may be in a position to challenge next season or the one after that. We will have to see how influential he is in getting the players he wants to sign on the dotted line. Then we kick off!

  • gistheman

    Good read and comments without all moaning too wow!!
    Out of the transfers being mentioned at the minute, do we need anymore strikers really
    We have McCormack, Morrison, poleon and the new lad mat smith so I’m hoping they are just pub talk from twitter as I would like to see a def like mills or someone of his nature, along with a winger plus giving the young lads a chance too

  • henrymouni

    I am really looking forward to the season.
    We are all cautious of course, having our hopes dashed so many times.
    My good feelings are for the manager, not GFH or Harvey, or ‘what does he do all day’ Gwyn Williams.
    Without a takeover, or a real injection of money, the boss will have to work a miracle.
    With Brian Mac’ getting a grip with all aspects, and the departing Bates, we have to be positive, and look to a fresh start.

  • Old Goat

    Good read.

    Only reason I can see for pessimism is the ownership of ER and TA. It seems fairly clear that GFH – whether you love them or not – are at best less than flush. If they start splashing out on wages /transfers and get in a financial bind I just hope they’ve paid the rent. I’d just hate to see debt exchanged for part ownership and the ultimate beneficial owner (whoever he may be !!!) become involved.

    Also get a good feel that TMD might give the youngsters a bit more opportunity than his predecessors which may mean that he’ll go through pre-season first and then spend whatever he has to fill whatever gaps he then finds he has.

    As for takeovers, any thoughts on this
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/rugby-league/22949693

    You’d think that he’d be looking for a “fit” over in mank-land but the reference to Championship sides which which can be described a “previously huge” got me thinking – what is there over there that ticks his boxes

    • Matthew

      Thing is, you’ll never get promoted without some form of investment. Something various owners of our great club have failed to realize. Had we not got rid of Colin when we did, we’d be looking at the fixtures, sighing at some of the shite we’l be playing in League 1. We came dangerously close last season.

  • Dr Zen

    There is no speculation because it seems like the media has figured out we have no money.

    • Matthew

      How can a club which has a turnover of over 30 million a year be broke though? It’s fucking crazy. We haven’t been ran properly for a very long time.

      • TSS

        Turnover is the most useless statistic in our accounts, why people concentrate on it is beyond me. The only thing that really matters is bottom line, and our bottom line shows we’re losing money.

        • Matthew

          Losing money because it’s been pissed away though? We don’t buy players, we constantly sell our talent to make up the shortfall, our wage bill isn’t exactly high. It’s madness, surely you must agree there.

          • TSS

            Of course. But that 30m figure you’re citing is meaningless. There are companies with billion pound turnovers that lose money. Lots of them.

            What matters is where we’re spending money, and the liabilities Ken left us with – namely, the East Stand development. Even without that particular expenditure, Leeds United runs at close margins; it costs a lot of money to keep such a big business functioning.

            The East Stand was an unnecessary and costly expense that continues to hinder us. Bates’ era was defined by such vanity projects, and he lost supporters as a result, which further reduced our income, meaning we now make very little money no matter what we do.

            GFH can’t be blamed for not spending the money Leeds United have, because Leeds United don’t have any money. Period. Anything GFH do spend is outside investment (which will have to be paid back). Ken left us in a fucked up situation, fans need to start accepting that reality.

          • henrymouni

            “GFH can’t be blamed for not spending the money Leeds United have, because Leeds United don’t have any money.”

            GFH knew exactly how much debt they were inheriting. This was reflected in the price they paid.

            Bates knew that they had no money to invest, but as long as he got his wedge, he was not bothered.

            GFH’S track record should have been the warning.

            They are still looking for a quick flip and a nice profit, but if they don’t succeed we are back to square one.

  • Matthew

    One word I don’t like hearing during the transfer window is LOAN. For one, nothing beats getting a few mildly decent players in, or even players that aren’t the finished product in on a free. They would have much more loyalty to the club than a random loanee who can easily just up and leave us high and dry if he isn’t played enough.

  • Joe

    “Neither of those things will last long.” Brilliant. Very well written indeed :).

    I personally feel Brian will do a decent enough job, funds or no funds. He doesn’t seem the kind to get angry about whatever budget he’s got, indeed he seems to actively rellish the act of finding bargains and rough diamonds. if as has been suggested we’re looking at players like Rowe, Mills and Doyle, then this shows serious ambition, and even if we only get 1 of the 3 it’d still be a solid improvement on what we’ve got and most importantly, not a step backwards or sideways, which was always the worry with colin.

    The key thing to remember with regards to budget is it’s not about how much cash we spend, more the kind of deals we’re signing. Paying for someone like Tommy Rowe is just a question of do we have the money now, because unless p’brough ask for a million or something worst case scenario is we’ll end up selling him for about as much as we bought him for 2/3 years down the road. As long as the board understand this, and also actually trust the manager’s judgement (and all the signs suggest they should), then budget is simply a case of ‘is the player a solid investment?’

    • henrymouni

      Speaking on Yorkshire Radio, McDermott said, “I have a meeting tonight with Shaun Harvey and one of the owners and I need the clarification on where we are at because that is really important.

      “The targets are in place and I know the players that we are trying to get want to come to the club, it is just a matter of doing the deals now.

      “I need to get clarification that the deals can be done AND WE WANT TO DO THEM.”????

      Sounds familiar?

  • Rob

    Let us, then. be up and doing, with a heart for any fate; still achieving, still pursuing, learn to labour and learn to WAIT.

  • Duncan Castles

    Interesting interpretation…

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