With World Cup hysteria sweeping the… erm… World, Leeds United has taken a bit of a back seat here on TSS, mainly because – like everyone else – I’ve been busy watching the World Cup. There’s also been very little news for us to dig our teeth into, with the papers too busy concentrating on Capello’s tactics to invent rumours for us to debate. As I say, there’s very little of it, but here’s the news from the last couple of days…

Gary Speed MBE

Gary Speed back in the day

We start with the news that former Leeds United midfielder, Gary Speed, has been awarded a MBE for his contribution to the game.

Speed made his début for Leeds United in 1989 and went on to make 312 appearances for the club, scoring 57 goals in the process. He also boasts a record of 85 caps for Wales, the most capped outfield player ever.

Speaking of the advice which guided him through his impressive career, Speed said;

“The best advice I was given was to try your best, and remember you never stop learning. I was still learning about the game when I retired from playing.”

After eight years at Elland Road, Speed left Leeds for Everton before he made further transfers to Newcastle United, Bolton Wanderers and Sheffield United, eventually retiring at 41 years old after 22 years in the game. Gary Speed’s love for the game remains however, and although he’s now hung up his boots for the final time, he’s decided to stay in Sheffield as a coach.

Speed was one of my favourite players during his time at Leeds United. I always admired his work ethic, skill and determination. He was always on hand to chip in with a few goals here and there too, and it was a sad day when he left for Everton. Congratulations to Gary on his MBE – I think everyone will agree, he fully deserves it!

Grayson gains an influential fan

Speaking about Simon Grayson’s 2009-10 season, Leeds United legend, Norman Hunter was quick to offer praise to the current Leeds United manager saying that;

“We can all manage when things are going well. You turn the team out and make substitutions and they all pay off for you. But you are tested when things start going against you and things did turn badly against us and Simon came of age in a way.

“Simon stuck to his guns and was very positive and I think he handled the Beckford situation brilliantly.

“He left him out because of what Max Gradel did and he, as much as anybody, lifted the spirits with four or five games to go when he was absolutely brilliant for us. It was good management on Simon’s part and fair play to him as there were times when we were struggling a bit.”

Norman Hunter will know how hard things can be when everything seems to be going against you. Whilst it was difficult for us, as fans, to watch Leeds United fall to pieces last season, looking back now, you have to admire the dignity and determination with which Simon Grayson handled the slip in form. As Hunter says, he ‘stuck to his guns’ and kept faith his team and his own ability to select the right squad and tactics.

Whilst many of us were busy being armchair managers last season, picking flaws in what he did with the handy benefit of hindsight, Larry continued working hard and eventually got his just rewards. A lesser manager would have buckled to the pressure coming from the fans, and changed the team to suit their cries. Larry did indeed grow as a manager last season – let’s just hope it’s enough to take on the Championship.

Tommy Spurr anyone?

Tommy Spurr

Finally, we come to the rumour mills latest delivery. This time, it’s 22-year old left-back, Tommy Spurr who currently plays for relegated Sheffield Wednesday.

Born in Leeds, Tommy  grew up a Leeds United fan, and his family remain supporters. Young enough to develop with the club, and I’m told by a Wednesday fan he’s a very capable young defender. The only stumbling block could be that Tommy is under contract at Wednesday, so would command a fee.