May Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot Liam Tunney December 31, 2019 Leeds United The turn of a new decade sees reams of copy published as everyone has a go at their various compilations of brilliance that have lit up the last ten years in their respective fields. From a Leeds United point of view, the last decade has seen some minor ups, plenty of devastating and embarrassing downs and a great deal of thoroughly mediocre. We end the decade as we’ve ended the last three – on top of the league – and the upward trend that closed it is welcome, but a brief flicker through the last ten years brings more than a few ghastly figures from the shadows. Let’s have a look at the unseemly, bizarre and downright embarrassing characters that Leeds supporters would gladly allow to slip between the tiny crack of a turning page and out of the annals of the club’s history. Ken Bates Public Enemy No. 1 in the eyes of almost every Leeds fan alive, the former Chelsea owner latched on to a club in freefall and fed off the ailing patient, clinging leech-like to its neck. Dissenting supporters in his eyes were morons. He ploughed scant profits into redeveloping the East Stand, with the lion’s share spent on corporate facilities. No morons in there. The dismantling of Simon Grayson’s talented side was followed by players that gave new depths to the phrase sub-standard and his departure in 2013 was met with rejoicing in West Yorkshire. Neil Warnock Warnock-y is the footballing dinosaur who grazes the pastures of panicked or neglecting owners looking to inject t heir side with a bit of good old-fashioned ignorance. His penchant for nicknaming players by irritatingly adding ‘y’ to their names, his prehistoric tactics that frustrated and bored in equal measure and his predictable journeymen signings were just the tip of the iceberg. In a weird twist on Mario Balotelli’s Why Always Me? philosophy, Warnock was of the opinion that it was never him and threw numerous inexperienced players, like Tom Lees, under the bus rather than address his own shortcomings. Massimo Cellino The bat-shit crazy Italian stormed into the club in January 2014 and immediately sacked well-liked manager Brian McDermott, prompting a crowd of supporters to chase his taxi around Elland Road in an attempt to stop him leaving. McDermott was restored, but the madness continued. Cellino set about dismantling the club’s outstanding academy, pinting in the Peacock and generally swearing a lot before sacking McDermott for a second time. Responsible for the appointment of the hopelessly unqualified David Hockaday and the unsuitable Darko Milanic, Cellino left Uwe Rosler unsupported and packed the team with players picked seemingly at random from the Italian leagues. The Italian (and his family) divided the fanbase like no one else over the last ten years and attendances dwindled in the toxic atmosphere before his odour finally departed Elland Road in 2017. Giuseppe Bellusci One of Cellino’s curated imports, the centre-back arrived with the nickname The Warrior, but the irony of such a name was immediately realised. A magnet for red cards and a terrible defender who even found time to attract an FA charge for racism throughout his time at Leeds, Bellusci was overtly despised by the Elland Road support. His crowning moment was denying Bailey Peacock-Farrell a clean sheet on his debut by conceding a late penalty as Leeds threw away two points against QPR in 2016. A loan move to Empoli was followed by having his contract mutually terminated – music to the ears of Leeds fans the world around. Steve Morison With all the accuracy of a blindfolded toddler, Morison arrived at Elland Road under the cloud of the controversial departure of the iconic Luciano Becchio to Norwich. Morison was the transfer’s make weight but had little of Becchio’s likeability, talent or clinical finishing. The seal of approval from Neil Warnock only served to weaken his position further. For my stag do, I had 15 non-Leeds supporting mates in the South Stand. Interest was piqued when one discovered that Morison had his own chant and assumed he must have some talent. This notion was dispelled when the former Norwich man grazed the corner flag with his shot against Nottingham Forest. Brutal. Garry Monk The aptly-named Monk looked for one brief season like he was going to be the Messiah that delivered the Promised Land. His football was functional if not flashy and he drew the best from New Zealand’s Chris Wood who had a knack of finishing crosses and half-chances. Our capitulation in the final weeks as the glaring lack of Plan B materialised did not in itself catapult him onto this list, but the weeks that followed heralded his departure. Unwilling to accept new contract terms, he left for Middlesbrough’s promised bounty of riches and what he saw as an easier path to the Premier League. His subsequent spells with Birmingham and Sheffield Wednesday have seen controversy and underachievement stalk him like a jealous ex and revealed him as not quite the Messiah, but a very naughty boy. Spoiled for Choice In a decade in which there were no shortage of candidates, these six make the most-glad-t0-be-rid-of list, but the majority of the team that Warnock built could be on here too. Diouf, the pantomime villain. Adryan’s embarrassing acrobatics against Derby. Paul Rachubka’s brief flash of mortifying ineptitude. Felix Wiedwald’s propensity for failing to catch a football. Tonight let’s hope they’re never called to mind. Not even for Auld Lang Syne.