The #LUFC Breakfast Debate (Thursday 23rd March) Should Gracia stay if he keeps Leeds up

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Breakfast Debate The #LUFC Breakfast Debate (Thursday 23rd March) Should Gracia stay if he keeps Leeds up

Post by Ellandback1 »



Good Morning. It's Thursday 23rd March, and here are the latest headlines from Elland Road...


Should Gracia stay if he keeps Leeds up

With seven points from his six (league) games in charge, Javi Gracia has given Leeds a fighting chance of staying up. Their performance last Saturday against Wolves may not have been perfect, but was far better than their league position suggests. If they can keep it going, they have every chance of avoiding the drop.

It is believed, that once Leeds are mathematically safe, that the 49ers will take over, and a mass transition both on and off the pitch will take place. Hypothetically, if this were to happen, would you like to see Gracia rewarded with a long term contract, or should they concentrate on a bigger name?

Marcelo Gallardo, Andoni Iraola, Arne Slot and Antonio Conte will all be in high demand this Summer, but with their top flight status intact, and new owners in place with a large spending budget, suddenly, the Elland Road hot seat doesn't seem like such a bad idea.





Drameh thriving at Luton Town

Cody Drameh has made quite an impression at Kenilworth Road since joining Luton Town on loan in January. The 21yo has risen straight to the top of the Whoscored rankings with an average 7.21 rating. With six wins, two draws and a defeat since arriving in Bedfordshire, the Hatters have risen to fourth place in the Championship, just six points off an automatic spot.

Protected by a back three, Drameh has been given freedom to attack down the right flank at will, and with 14 clear cut chances created, already tops the division with that stat. With Kristensen out of favour, and Ayling's days numbered, why haven't Leeds tied Drameh down to a long term contract?

Media sources suggest he earns £4,400 a week, over seven times less than what Rutter takes home (£35,000). For a club who invest so heavily on their youngsters, why haven't they done more to tie him down to a lucrative long term deal? If he stays, should he be first choice right back next season?





Barca starlet expected at Elland Road this Summer

Spanish media outlet Mundo Deportivo are reporting that Barcelona are contemplating dropping teen sensation Ilias Akhomach for the rest of their campaign after refusing to sign a new contract at the Nou Camp. The exciting 18yo right winger is expected to sign a pre agreed four year contract in July, when he becomes a free agent. This has infuriated the Catalan club, who are ready to drop him from their 'B' team.


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Re: The #LUFC Breakfast Debate (Thursday 23rd March) Should Gracia stay if he keeps Leeds up

Post by The Subhuman »

Saw the Ilias Akhomach news a few weeks ago, always good to get exciting talent at ER..

Said for a while Drameh is the best right back we own... we need to get him tied down and in the first team next season if that's what he wants..
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Re: The #LUFC Breakfast Debate (Thursday 23rd March) Should Gracia stay if he keeps Leeds up

Post by Clitheroe White »

If we stay up, we should look to secure Gracia for the longer term. The trouble with "big names" is that names don't get you results. Conte at spurs isn't exactly going well right now. If Gracia keeps us up we will have seen a very noticeable uptick in performance and for that alone why would we disrupt things for next season.

Dramah - totally should be in the first team next season (Ayling is ageing and Kristensen hasn't looked amazing yet). I also have a sneaky feeling that Dramah might like playing for Gracia more given the being allowed to let our full backs press forwards.
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Re: The #LUFC Breakfast Debate (Thursday 23rd March) Should Gracia stay if he keeps Leeds up

Post by DDB220 »

If we stay up retaking Gracia or looking at alternative coaches / managers is a big call that the 49’s will have to make if the sale goes through. Will they retain aorta and Kinnear ?

Gracia is a steady conservative coach who is probably ideal for our current predicament - but is he really the right man to take us forward. It likely depends on how ambitious the 49’s are.
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Re: The #LUFC Breakfast Debate (Thursday 23rd March) Should Gracia stay if he keeps Leeds up

Post by 60sUnited »

If he keeps us up it will be a miraculous achievement given what and when he inherited.I think he should stay. If the 49ers are really ambitious then they are going to have to splash out big time to move us to the next level ie mid table security.
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Re: The #LUFC Breakfast Debate (Thursday 23rd March) Should Gracia stay if he keeps Leeds up

Post by Ellandback1 »

DDB220 wrote: Thu Mar 23, 2023 10:01 am If we stay up retaking Gracia or looking at alternative coaches / managers is a big call that the 49’s will have to make if the sale goes through. Will they retain aorta and Kinnear ?

Gracia is a steady conservative coach who is probably ideal for our current predicament - but is he really the right man to take us forward. It likely depends on how ambitious the 49’s are.
There's talk of Kinnear accepting another role at Leeds
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Re: The #LUFC Breakfast Debate (Thursday 23rd March) Should Gracia stay if he keeps Leeds up

Post by Ellandback1 »

The most frustrating thing this season has been watching our players chase the ball around the pitch for 90 minutes.

Literally, its just like this:-


Lat Saturday was the first time in ages that we looked to have been in control!
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Re: The #LUFC Breakfast Debate (Thursday 23rd March) Should Gracia stay if he keeps Leeds up

Post by Ellandback1 »

On a sad note another Revie old boy has left us. Willie Bell was a gritty hard full back who was at the club from 1960 - 67 and gained two Scottish caps.

R.I.P Willie Bell

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Re: The #LUFC Breakfast Debate (Thursday 23rd March) Should Gracia stay if he keeps Leeds up

Post by whiteswan »

Ellandback1 wrote: Thu Mar 23, 2023 10:44 am There's talk of Kinnear accepting another role at Leeds
Tea boy?
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Re: The #LUFC Breakfast Debate (Thursday 23rd March) Should Gracia stay if he keeps Leeds up

Post by VinnysTattoo »

Can’t see Gracia staying if we avoid the drop. Got a feeling the 49 ers will want their own man.

Not another bl. ody winger!
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Re: The #LUFC Breakfast Debate (Thursday 23rd March) Should Gracia stay if he keeps Leeds up

Post by weasel »

Ellandback1 wrote: Thu Mar 23, 2023 10:49 am The most frustrating thing this season has been watching our players chase the ball around the pitch for 90 minutes.

Literally, its just like this:-


Lat Saturday was the first time in ages that we looked to have been in control!

Aww man can't believe Jesse Marsch is managing the Japan youth side. System exposed once again.

For me if Gracia keeps us up then he deserves a crack unless the performances drop off and we scrape by almost despite him - like we did last year when we stayed up despite, rather than because of, Marsch and there was little to suggest Marsch knew what he was doing or that he could improve the side. So far it has been very positive from Gracia, he seems to interact well with the players, seems to have worked out our strengths and weaknesses as well as seemingly being able to switch tactically during matches. Everything so far seems positive and no real reason to suggest he can't move us up the table next year.

It was obvious that Marsch didn't rate Drameh or that Marsch wanted to bring in as manay players that knew his way of playing as he could and RK was available at a price that we could afford. As such Marsch brought in RK and Drameh didn't get a look in. If we stay up and Gracia remains in charge then I would hope that Gracia gives him a fair chance and allows him to compete for the starting position. Whether Drameh will trust the club enough to sign a new deal though is the big worry for me. The lad has done all he can in his 2 loan spells to justify being given a chance, he seems to be at a level that is better than other championship right backs so on that basis I would have to think he is certainly capable of being a lower premiership standard right back and possibly more.
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Re: The #LUFC Breakfast Debate (Thursday 23rd March) Should Gracia stay if he keeps Leeds up

Post by Clacton White »

Clitheroe White wrote: Thu Mar 23, 2023 9:43 am If we stay up, we should look to secure Gracia for the longer term. The trouble with "big names" is that names don't get you results. Conte at spurs isn't exactly going well right now. If Gracia keeps us up we will have seen a very noticeable uptick in performance and for that alone why would we disrupt things for next season.

Dramah - totally should be in the first team next season (Ayling is ageing and Kristensen hasn't looked amazing yet). I also have a sneaky feeling that Dramah might like playing for Gracia more given the being allowed to let our full backs press forwards.
Sooner or later every manager comes under some scrutiny , a run of bad results etc .....it hasn't gone exactly swimmingly for Jürgen Klopp of late , Chelscum will probably off load another in Potter soon , especially if they don't get European football next season , no manager or coach is safe .I think right now Gracia is a huge upgrade tactically on Marsch , he was more a Keegan type motivator but with little actual clue as to what he was doing . Marsch kept the job because he kept Leeds up , I guess Gracia could be the same but I also think the club should be seriously looking at other positions , such as DoF , someone far more clued up would be useful there .
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Re: The #LUFC Breakfast Debate (Thursday 23rd March) Should Gracia stay if he keeps Leeds up

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"Never debate an idiot, they'll only drag you down to their level and they have the advantage of experience"
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Re: The #LUFC Breakfast Debate (Thursday 23rd March) Should Gracia stay if he keeps Leeds up

Post by John in Louisiana »

Ellandback1 wrote: Thu Mar 23, 2023 10:44 am There's talk of Kinnear accepting another role at Leeds
Does he do windows?
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Re: The #LUFC Breakfast Debate (Thursday 23rd March) Should Gracia stay if he keeps Leeds up

Post by Ellandback1 »

Image

Peter Ridsdale, Leeds United and the struggle to forgive – 20 years on
Daniel Taylor and Phil Hay

This is part of a series of articles inspired by questions from our readers. So thank you to Adam S for the inspiration for this piece after he asked us to reflect upon Peter Ridsdale’s Leeds United, two decades on.

Would it be asking too much, all these years on, to think there might ever come a day when the supporters of Leeds United can reflect on Peter Ridsdale’s role without putting him in a little pair of devil’s horns?

Maybe it is simply impossible given the history, the sequence of events that means ‘doing a Leeds’ has its own Wikipedia page and the depth of feeling that was stirred when this proud old club was brought to its knees.

Ridsdale has always been held responsible for creating a dream that turned into a nightmare. So, yes, don’t count on too much forgiveness any time soon. Far more likely, the typical response would be that he deserves all he gets, that he left Leeds financially shipwrecked and, bloody hell, just look at how long it took them to recover.

At the same time, it would be wrong to assume every Leeds fan holds a serious grudge now it is 20 years since the man in question removed himself from their club.

There are plenty of occasions when Ridsdale meets Leeds supporters who are perfectly civil to him. Many want to thank him for some of the best memories they ever experienced following their team. Usually, these tend to be older fans (it’s the younger ones, he says, who tend to be more abusive). They tell him they know he was a genuine bloke who did his best and, no matter what went wrong towards the end, they understood he had good intentions.

“I met somebody the other day in London. ‘Just to let you know I’m a Leeds fan’, he said. My first reaction was, ‘Oh, where’s this going’,” Ridsdale puts up his hands defensively, “but he said, ‘No, no, no, I will never forget the journey we went on. Some of my best memories in football are from when you were chairman’.



“I was chairman for five years. Every bloody year we were in the top five (five consecutive seasons). We were in the semi-final of the UEFA Cup and then the Champions League. I was on the board of the FA, elected by my fellow Premier League chairmen.

“If you’re asking me, ‘Do I think I deserve absolute hate from people thinking I destroyed Leeds United?’, the answer is, no. Do I think I’m useless? No. Of course I made mistakes. But the mistakes I made weren’t the ones I get labelled with.

“I’m not trying to absolve myself of blame. As chairman, you have to take accountability. But if I were to write down a list of my mistakes, a list to destroy Peter Ridsdale, I would write different stories. One of them wouldn’t be the financial meltdown because that was largely caused by relegation and I had left the club a year before.”

Others find it hard to forgive and, after 20 years of reflection, Ridsdale knows that will not change. Attitudes have hardened. A generation of Leeds fans will never forget those sweet-scented nights in Europe when David O’Leary’s team reached the 2001 Champions League semi-finals. But the fall was spectacular and, with every fall, there is blame.
Ridsdale, now 71, was reminded of that before the final of Euro 2020 when he and his wife, Sophie, caught the train to Wembley and, on a packed carriage, he was confronted by a Leeds fan threatening violence and calling him every name under the sun.

When Ridsdale asked him how old he was, the guy said he was 19. “So, if you’re 19, you weren’t even born when I left Leeds,” Ridsdale told him. “What do you actually know about it?” But it made no difference: more insults, more expletives, more evidence that the short-term hero had morphed into a long-term villain.

Another time, Ridsdale was in Baker Street, central London, when three men walked past and there was another jarring reminder that, whatever else he does in this industry, he will always be associated with the most dramatic, traumatic and talked-about period in Leeds’ history.

“Three guys in suits, business people, walking past. One of them looked at me. ‘You’re a c—’, he said. I walked back pretty quickly, stood in front of them and asked him to repeat it.

“To their credit, the other two guys said they were embarrassed and asked him to apologise. ‘Well, sorry’, he said, ‘but you have to know how I feel’. It turned out he was a Leeds fan. So, yes, there is a human cost, even now.”

Today is the 20th anniversary of his final game: a 3-1 defeat at Liverpool when in the last few minutes the Kop broke into a chorus of, “There’s only one Peter Ridsdale”. That stung, too: Anfield was laughing at him. Ridsdale could feel himself shrinking into his seat, smouldering with embarrassment.

A week earlier, when Leeds played Middlesbrough, Ridsdale left at half-time because the abuse was so vicious. One fan near the directors’ box spat at him. Ridsdale could see the distress on his wife’s face. “For the first time in my life, I walked out of a Leeds match and drove home.”

The reason for all this malevolence is that Ridsdale had overseen the period of overspending that left the rest of the football world rubbernecking in Leeds’ direction. History will remember him behind the wheel when they lost control. No matter how much he argues there are other layers to this story, Ridsdale’s time at Leeds will always be synonymous with a culture of indulgence.

As one sport-finance specialist, Dr Bill Gerrard, said at the time: “They reacted like a gambler on a losing streak in a Las Vegas casino. They went out and gambled more. It was a triumph of vanity over sanity. The whole future of the club has been put in jeopardy to fund a dash for glory.”

The legacy for Leeds was a mountain of debt, a fire sale of players, a whole world of pain under future owners and, for Ridsdale, a stain on his reputation that he has never been able to wash out.

“I was Peter Ridsdale: traitor, Judas, disgrace, club-wrecker, the enemy within,” he wrote in his 2007 book, United We Fall. “It’s why they chanted ‘Ridsdale out’ week in week out; why home-daubed slogans, held aloft behind each goal, screamed ‘Ridsdale is full of s—’ or ‘Go now Ridsdale’ or ‘Lies United’, and why pockets of mobs hung around outside the Elland Road stadium, as if waiting for the accused to be smuggled from a courthouse on bail.”



Gerald Krasner, who fronted a six-man consortium of Yorkshire-based businessmen to buy the club a year after Ridsdale’s departure, tells The Athletic today that, as far as he is concerned, the former chairman deserves no forgiveness.

Leeds, according to Krasner, were paying one player more than Sheffield United were paying their entire squad. It reeks of exaggeration. But Krasner, like many of Ridsdale’s critics, has never been shy when it comes to putting the boot in.

“When I looked at the numbers,” says Krasner, “I worked out that if we had won the Premier League, the FA Cup, the League Cup and European Cup, we would have only broken even. And we didn’t win any of them.”

David Richmond, one of the directors in Krasner’s consortium, describes Leeds at the time as “the ultimate basket case. I don’t know how many bank accounts the average club has, but Leeds had well over a dozen, all with no money in them”.

And, two decades on, it can feel like a trick of the mind that one fans’ website had acclaimed Ridsdale just a few years earlier as “chairman, friend of the fans and superhero”.

We meet at Preston North End’s training ground. This has been Ridsdale’s place of work for 11 years and, though there will always be supporters with gripes, he is entitled to consider it a period of relative calm and success.

The club were in League One when he took over as chairman. They were promoted within three seasons and, despite having one of the lower wage bills in the division, have not finished lower than 14th in the last seven years. They are also debt-free, which feels relevant bearing in mind everything that went on with Leeds.

“If you watch me at Preston games, nobody could ever tell you I’m not emotionally invested,” says Ridsdale. “I can’t bulls— and say I’m a lifelong Preston fan. But like every job I’ve ever done, they get 100 per cent of my commitment.”

With Leeds, though, it was different. Ridsdale was a Leeds fan through and through. He was at Wembley when Don Revie’s team lost to Liverpool in the 1965 FA Cup final. His son, Matthew, was the mascot when Leeds won promotion at Bournemouth in 1990. Ridsdale’s office might be decorated with framed Preston shirts but the drinks coaster on his desk offers a clue: “Born and bred in Yorkshire.”

All of which makes it easier to understand why there will always be sadness on his part about how everything at Leeds ended so acrimoniously.

Ridsdale could not keep count of the number of threats he received, but it was enough to call in the police. One message pinned to his gates read, “We know where you live.” Another was pushed beneath the windscreen wipers of his car: “We hope you die.”

Even when Ridsdale took his family to his sister-in-law’s house in Suffolk, 260 miles away, there was no hiding place. Minding his own business in a gift shop, another customer recognised him, grabbed him by the throat and pinned him to the window. “Ridsdale,” came the hissed message, “you’ve f—– up my football team.”

Ridsdale had been looking for a Mother’s Day card to give to Sophie from their daughters, Charlotte and Olivia, then seven and six. Both girls, in the worst times, would cry themselves to sleep because they had found out their father was a hate figure and that people had been to their house to find him.



“They are both, I should stress, absolutely fine now, super girls in great jobs, but they both had counselling in their teenage years and they put it down to the trauma of what was happening to me at the time.

“I never shared it with anybody, I was taking it all on board myself. ‘But we were kids’, they said, ‘and you were getting death threats, people writing to you saying: “We know where your children go to school”.’

“I tried to laugh it off at the time because I thought that was the only way, being brave and standing up to it. But then you find out 10 years later that your kids have been damaged.”

In happier times, he was the popular, approachable, widely respected kingpin of a club that was threatening to change the landscape of English football.

Leeds had become unfashionably likeable, taking on all comers at home and abroad. And Ridsdale, formerly the managing director of fashion chain Topman, was at the heart of it. “People hate Manchester United because they are so successful,” Jonathan Woodgate, the Leeds centre-half, said in 1999. “People will hate us in a few years because we shall be winning everything.”

Everything changed when the truth finally emerged: Ridsdale and his colleagues on Leeds’ PLC board had allowed expenditure to get out of hand. The club had accrued so much debt they had no option but to flog their most valuable assets.

Rio Ferdinand was sold to Manchester United for £30million ($36.8m in today’s conversion rates). Robbie Keane went to Tottenham Hotspur for £7million. Robbie Fowler moved to Manchester City for £6million. Olivier Dacourt signed for Roma on loan, and Lee Bowyer joined West Ham United for a paltry £100,000 because he was nearing the end of his contract.



Woodgate was the next to leave, signing with Newcastle United for £9million, and that was the tipping point for many supporters. Woodgate was regarded as the club’s future. Ridsdale had publicly stated the player would be sold “over my dead body” and, having broken that promise, had to face the consequences. It was, says one former colleague, speaking to The Athletic on condition of anonymity, the “trigger for the groundswell against him”.

One of the worst car-crash moments was the day Ridsdale arranged a televised news conference with Terry Venables, who had replaced the sacked O’Leary, to explain Woodgate’s transfer and supposedly put on a united front.

In a show of subtle yet excruciating mutiny, Venables folded his arms, stared at the ceiling, complained that everything was all out of his control and exhibited the general body language of a man who had just found a key mark scratched down the side of his car.

Against that kind of backdrop, nobody should realistically think there would not be a backlash. Ridsdale understands that, too. He knows he will always be held responsible for an unravelling that led to the News of the World, Britain’s biggest-selling Sunday newspaper at the time, declaring: “Post-war Iraq is better run than Leeds.”

But he will also make the point — several times, in fact — that he was the chairman of a PLC board and that meant every significant decision, Woodgate included, had to be signed off by all the directors, not just him.

So why, he asks, has the blame always been pinned on one man?

His belief has always been he was the victim of a “PR hatchet job” and some ferocious politics involving boardroom colleagues who were colluding against him. It was “an orchestrated campaign from within”. And ultimately, he says, it worked.

“The other thing I feel frustrated about — and some people would say I’m arrogant to say this — is that we wouldn’t have been relegated had I been allowed to stay.

“I left in March 2003 and it was the following summer, not the same summer, we were relegated. Then, of course, the financial crisis really hit home.

“Was that, in part, because we hadn’t put relegation clauses into the players’ contracts? Absolutely. But when you’re signing Robbie Fowler, Rio Ferdinand, Robbie Keane and people of that stature, they aren’t going to sign for you ahead of Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal if you put in relegation clauses.”

The truth, he says, is that he did not even want to resign and intended to “brazen it out”. His intention, he says, was to regain control of their finances and turn it around.

“I had a meeting with members of the board. ‘We’re worried about your health’, they said, ‘have a think about whether it’s getting to you’. That was 8am. I returned at 5.30pm to be introduced to the new chairman. Did I initiate it? No. Would I have willingly gone? No. It was a fait accompli. I was essentially told by the non-executive directors they thought for my health I should stand down.

“I was shell-shocked. Two years before, people were saying I should be the next chairman of the FA.

“I stood for re-election (with Leeds) in December 2002 and got the highest vote because all the institutional shareholders voted to re-elect me. All of them phoned me up and said, ‘We know you’re being undermined from within, you’ve got to stand up to it’. Three months later, I was out.”

His replacement was John McKenzie, a bespectacled and white-haired professor of economics who held the role for the next nine months and, in a devastating interview with the Yorkshire Evening Post, caused irreparable damage to his predecessor’s reputation.

“I was stitched up,” says Ridsdale. “It was very deliberate to say it was a one-man problem, not a company problem. And, of course, it deflected attention from anybody else. It was all presented as my fault, as if I was signing players without anyone knowing, just because I fancied it. It was nonsense.”



Ridsdale, according to the professor, had overseen a culture of “irresponsible and indulgent” excess involving overblown salaries, private jets, a fleet of 70 company cars and, infamously, a £20-a-month rental for a tropical fish tank in the chairman’s office.

“It’s like an oil tanker heading straight for the rocks,” said McKenzie. “The problem with oil tankers is they are two miles long and they don’t turn around in two minutes.”

A succession of other stories, often apocryphal, added to the perception, to use Krasner’s blunt analysis, that Ridsdale’s success “had gone to his head”.

One was that Ridsdale’s generosity in contract negotiations had earned him the nickname of Father Christmas from staff.

Another had Seth Johnson arriving from Derby County in a £7million transfer and entering contract talks in the hope that his previous weekly salary, reputedly £5,000, might go up to £13,000. Legend has it that Ridsdale’s opening gambit was £30,000 and, when this was met by a stunned silence, that he raised his offer to £37,000.

A classic story, yes — but also pure fantasy, as Johnson has previously stated himself.

“Seth was on £13,000 a week less than what was quoted,” says Ridsdale. “I knew what he was earning at Derby. He’d made his full debut for England. And he probably got an increase of £2,000 to £4,000 a week. It’s one of many myths.”

The truth, says Ridsdale, was that Leeds had a wage structure in place and, contrary to the popular narrative, did not just pay the players whatever they wanted. Leeds, he accepts, signed too many elite players and ran into trouble — having budgeted for the Champions League — when they missed their targets. But, to be fair, he does not sound very Father Christmassy.

“We actually lost players because of money. Frank Lampard was one. We wanted Frank from West Ham but he went to Chelsea because we couldn’t afford what he was asking.

“We lost Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink because I sat down with his agent and said, ‘Look, our highest paid player is on X amount, you’re asking for 50 per cent more, I can’t justify that’. So Jimmy went to Atletico Madrid.”

McKenzie, incidentally, never returned to football after his brief spell with Leeds and was criticised for paying himself £380,000 despite the club being massively in debt and in danger of administration.

His highlights included conducting a poll asking supporters if Peter Reid, who had replaced Venables, should be fired after three defeats in a row. McKenzie’s expertise was questioned after Harry Kewell’s £5million transfer to Liverpool — a deal in which Leeds somehow received only £2.5million — and he was reported to be leaving on a two-week safari with his grandchildren on the day Reid was sacked.

Eddie Gray, a two-time league champion in the Revie era, was appointed as Reid’s replacement but could not stop Leeds sliding towards relegation, 14 months after Ridsdale’s departure. “I regret taking the job,” says Gray. “I took it for the right reasons. I felt like I should help. But there were too many problems, too much wrong on the financial side. I couldn’t turn it around and I felt a lot of responsibility for us going down.”



As for the next manager, Kevin Blackwell invoked the spirit of Baldrick, from the BBC comedy series Blackadder, in trying to make sense of the club’s perilous finances. “You wonder how someone could have come up with a plan straight out of Blackadder. You can see Baldrick: ‘I’ve got a cunning plan that will take us further into debt’.”

Elland Road was the scene of its own tragicomedy, not least given that McKenzie’s shoes were so decrepit the joke in the offices was that he fixed them with a bicycle repair kit.

Ridsdale can also remember the professor — an elusive, slightly mysterious figure who lived in a modest bungalow just outside Ilkley who gave the impression of dozing off in one Premier League meeting — being guilty, allegedly, of some pretty breathtaking double standards.

“We had about 30 company cars,” says Ridsdale. “He exaggerated the numbers by 100 per cent. I didn’t have one — but he did. In fact, he had a company car and a chauffeur.”

And the goldfish? Oh yes, the goldfish. Nothing came to symbolise the profligacy more than the presence of those tropical fish, described by one wordsmith as being “as much a symbol of a failed regime as Imelda Marcos’ shoe collection or Marie Antoinette’s cakes”.

Ridsdale, unlike the goldfish, has never forgotten the hysteria.

“If you go to the Professional Footballers’ Association headquarters in Manchester, or the South Yorkshire Police headquarters in Sheffield, what is in the reception of both? A goldfish tank.

“It cost us £240 a year. So what’s the issue for a club that was turning over £79million a year at the time?

“My background was in fashion retail and I had spent a lot of time sourcing products in China and Hong Kong. Over there, a lot of offices had aquariums because it was considered good luck. So I thought, ‘What a great idea’.

“I bought two tanks — John McKenzie forgot to mention the second tank was in the boardroom — and what happened? We got to a Champions League semi-final, the UEFA Cup semi-final and we were top five every year.”

Unfortunately for Ridsdale, it has always been easier in football to get a bad name than it is to lose one. “All I was trying to do was a job and I would still argue we did a pretty good one,” he says. “My biggest mistake is that if I had gone the previous summer, having just finished fifth, I would have been a hero.”

The reality, however, is that few people were willing to stand up for him when everything started to go spectacularly wrong.

Peter Lorimer, a Leeds legend of the 1960s and 1970s, did at least try in his column for the Yorkshire Evening Post, writing that it had been a “gamble worth taking”. Ray Fell, the supporters’ club chairman, also went public to defend Ridsdale while others behind the scenes offered support.

“There were big machinations in the background to make Peter the fall guy but nothing (at board level) was ever decided by a single person,” says one senior figure, who has asked not to be named. “Everything was collective. Woodgate’s sale was the trigger for the groundswell against him. The abuse got worse and, in the end, he didn’t want to put up with that any more. That was my impression.”

But these are lone voices of support and they tend to be vastly outnumbered. The brutally forthright Krasner, for instance, could hardly be less sympathetic when it is put to him that most Leeds fans have never forgiven Ridsdale.

“Quite right,” are Krasner’s precise words. “He did it with other people’s money. He didn’t use any of his own money, he used everybody else’s money. Ask him how much of his money he put into the club and lost.”


Ridsdale’s firmly held belief is that “Gerald Krasner, and that lot, got them relegated. He took them down… I’d been out for almost a year when he took over”.

But Leeds, according to Krasner, were “impoverished” when his consortium took control in March 2004.

Was it as bad as he had imagined? “Worse. They owed over £100million. We had done due diligence before we went in. We thought they (the debts) were £98m, they were £105m at the end. And, in those days, that was a lot of money, probably (the equivalent of) half a billion now.

“It was a labour of love and a lesson in life, and I don’t regret it because we saved the club from disappearing. But you couldn’t enjoy it because every time we let in a goal it was, ‘That’s another million down the drain’. Every time we scored, it was, ‘That’s a million we’ve gained’.

“I always said after buying Leeds that if we had told the full story in a blockbuster film we could have paid off all the debts.”

That film had no happy ending: Leeds were relegated in May 2004, accelerating the long and painful descent that saw Ken Bates take control, leading to administration, three years in League One, points deductions and a new generation of fans being brought up to believe Ridsdale was public enemy number one.

At one stage, the souvenir stalls outside Elland Road were selling T-shirts with the message: “2004 Premiership, 2005 Championship, 2007 Sinkingship, 2008 Abandonship”.

As for the Krasner regime, that lasted only nine months before the deal was done with Bates to change owner again.

“My memory is that when we took over, there were four people employed full-time to do daily bank reconciliation; four people simply for that job,” says Richmond. “When we went in, Leeds United were untouchable, completely untouchable. The consortium we had was a crazy consortium, everyone with their own agendas, and in normal circumstances, we wouldn’t have been anywhere near it.

“There wasn’t a single part of the club that wasn’t a mess. It was a toxic club and, in many ways, it stayed toxic until very recently. That’s the damage that had been done to the finances and the reputation.”

Richmond, a Leeds season ticket holder, is the son of Geoffrey, the former Bradford City chairman, who acted as a consultant for Krasner’s takeover.

“Were we good owners? No, I openly admit that. But the thing I also say, even if people don’t want to hear it, is that we did our bit in saving the club,” says Richmond. “I remember finding out early on that 10 young lads who were never going to get near the first team were on £10,000 a week each. It must have been done as an investment but it was unbelievable.

“There was one first-team player whose contract terrified Gerald — and he was the one person in that consortium who understood everything about finances. Even he wasn’t sure how to deal with it.

“The only thing we could do was try to keep the club afloat. The club couldn’t go into administration because that costs money and there was none, zero. All the revenues had been sold and, as far as we were concerned, administration would mean closing down and starting again low down the leagues.

“We tried to terminate every contract there was. It was the biggest fire sale. People looked at the fees we got sometimes and said they weren’t high enough, but the wages the players were earning were the problem, completely unaffordable and killing us.”

When all the finger-pointing stops, maybe there is one point that everyone can agree upon: that some people went too far in their vilification of the one man whose reputation was left in smithereens.

Exhibit A: the column that former Conservative MP David Mellor wrote in London’s Evening Standard. “A man half as decent as Pious Pete always claimed to be wouldn’t have asked for money, just a glass of whisky, a revolver and the loan of a lockable room,” he wrote.

Sophie was so appalled she wrote to Mellor to explain how hurtful it was. She never received a reply.

Her husband, meanwhile, was trying to adjust to a new life in which the fishy stories from Leeds — literally — counted against him with potential employers.

Ridsdale’s career since then has taken him to four different clubs, all in the EFL, and the irony is that in three of those cases, his job spec involved helping them out of financial hardship.

At Barnsley, for example, where he was asked to steer the club out of administration. At Cardiff City, where they were “days away from being closed down” and ended up with a new stadium and training ground. Or Plymouth Argyle, where “the administrator tried to liquidate them and I told him three times he was not going to bloody do it”. Ridsdale can reel off a list of achievements at every club to justify his belief that he is a more skilled administrator because of the Leeds experience.

Still, though, he finds himself as such a pariah at Elland Road that a security operation has to be put in place every time he goes back.

“The first time was with Cardiff,” he says. “I remember Shaun Harvey (Leeds’ chief executive at the time) phoning me to say, ‘The police want to know if you’re coming to the game’. I said, ‘Of course I’m coming to the bloody game’.

“They insisted I came the night before, stayed at the team hotel, and the next day we had a police escort to the ground, including a helicopter flying over the team bus. Dave Jones, our manager, said to me, ‘You get off first, we’ll be five minutes behind you’. I got a bit of abuse, but just as many people came up to shake my hand.”

The following season, Cardiff won at Leeds with a late goal and Ridsdale, mindful of his surroundings, made sure to remain in his seat, restricting himself to a clench of his fists and a loudly whispered, “Yes!”

When he entered the boardroom at the end of the match, Ken Bates shouted across the room: “You can f— off — get out of here now and don’t come back.” Ridsdale thought it was a boisterous joke at first, but Bates was deadly serious. “You know exactly what you’ve done, your behaviour in the directors’ box was unacceptable.” Ridsdale could not leave the stadium by himself. So he went downstairs to the dressing rooms to wait with the players.

One of the saddest things, perhaps, is that he has lost a lot of the goodwill that had been generated for the compassion he showed after two Leeds fans, Chris Loftus and Kevin Speight, were stabbed to death in Istanbul on the eve of their 2000 UEFA Cup semi-final against Galatasaray.

That was arguably the best of Ridsdale and it was evident again, many people felt, when Leeds had to deal with the fallout from the street attack on Sarfraz Najeib, a 19-year-old student, and the court proceedings involving Woodgate and Bowyer.

That was the trial that drove a wedge between Ridsdale and O’Leary and the bad feeling still lingers. Ridsdale wonders whether he might have been “too soft”, at times, when it came to O’Leary’s requests for expensive players on high salaries.

He also remembers the time Ferdinand signed for Leeds from West Ham in 2000. The fee was £18million, a staggering amount for that time and O’Leary, according to Ridsdale, refused to attend the news conference.

“We had just broken a world record for signing a defender. The board had approved it and David had said yes. But I had to take the press conference with Rio because the manager refused to be there and later said (publicly) that he thought the fee was obscene.”

go-deeper
GO DEEPER

Leeds United On Trial – 20 years on

Ridsdale still talks, at times, like a Leeds fan — note the frequency with which he refers to the club as “we” — but he still seems torn about whether he is one of the victims in this story, one of the guilty parties, or both.

Sometimes, Ridsdale can sound filled with regret, wishing he could turn the clock back and owning up to naivety. At others, he appears affronted by the criticism, insisting he feels misunderstood and misrepresented and, for the most part, considers it wildly unjust.

Is it really fair, he asks, that he was blamed for every year, from 2004 until 2020, that Leeds were outside the top division?

“I’d left Leeds with a squad of full internationals: Mark Viduka, Harry Kewell, Nigel Martyn, Paul Robinson, Danny Mills, Alan Smith, Ian Harte and many others. The week I left, we won 6-1 at Charlton. The following month, we went to Highbury and won 3-2 to stop Arsenal winning the title. How did that squad get relegated 12 months later?”

To ask this question might be interpreted by some critics as a shifting of the blame. Yet he might also be entitled to point out that, apart from the pre-agreed deal for Dacourt’s loan at Roma to be made permanent, there were only two high-profile departures in the 14 months between Ridsdale resigning and the team’s relegation — Kewell to Liverpool and Martyn’s free transfer to Everton.

“They put in Eddie Gray as manager,” says Ridsdale. “Why? Because it was emotional: the history. I like Eddie, and I’ve worked with him closely, but he’d already failed once as a manager.

“I was watching from afar thinking, ‘I can’t believe what they are up to’. How the hell is that team getting relegated? Because relegation caused the financial meltdown, not what happened before.”
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Re: The #LUFC Breakfast Debate (Thursday 23rd March) Should Gracia stay if he keeps Leeds up

Post by The Subhuman »

A lot of words for a shithead like Ridsdale .....
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Re: The #LUFC Breakfast Debate (Thursday 23rd March) Should Gracia stay if he keeps Leeds up

Post by Leeds1000 »

Should Gracia stay if he keeps Leeds up.

If he keeps us up i think he deserves a chance to carry on his good work. None of these players were his, so he would have the chance to bring in a few of his own players in and hopefully push us on a wee bit (remember staying in the PL is our only ambition). If we take Bielsa out of the equation we are used to below mediocre coaches and Javi is better than that on the evidence so far.

The 49ers may want to flex their muscle and make their own statement and bring someone in. Some of the coaches we were linked with will go on to CL clubs no doubt anyway. Chelski & Spurs jobs will be available i think in the summer.

Javi could be the steady hand we need. That's if he wants the constant pressure back in his life.
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Re: The #LUFC Breakfast Debate (Thursday 23rd March) Should Gracia stay if he keeps Leeds up

Post by andrewjohnsmith »

Gracia - YES. If he keeps us up, he deserves an offer. He may not be the most exciting. But he brings stability.

Drameh - YES. Really disappointed we haven't given him a run. He's a great prospect.
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Re: The #LUFC Breakfast Debate (Thursday 23rd March) Should Gracia stay if he keeps Leeds up

Post by JoeDenver »

With a bankroll from the 49ers being inherently higher than what was ever afforded to him at Watford, could you imagine what this Leeds team could achieve with some of Gracia’s wishlist players for his system/tactics? Frankly, I’m salivating at the prospects. Honestly, the club needs to turn a new leaf in other areas first: President, Director of Football, and Scouting…in addition to the roster turnover.

In short, Javi and his staff should remain.
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Re: The #LUFC Breakfast Debate (Thursday 23rd March) Should Gracia stay if he keeps Leeds up

Post by pjm2019 »

Clitheroe White wrote: Thu Mar 23, 2023 9:43 am If we stay up, we should look to secure Gracia for the longer term. The trouble with "big names" is that names don't get you results. Conte at spurs isn't exactly going well right now. If Gracia keeps us up we will have seen a very noticeable uptick in performance and for that alone why would we disrupt things for next season.

Dramah - totally should be in the first team next season (Ayling is ageing and Kristensen hasn't looked amazing yet). I also have a sneaky feeling that Dramah might like playing for Gracia more given the being allowed to let our full backs press forwards.
Spurs are 4th so Conte did a good job with a club that does not spend big each and every year
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