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Everything posted by Matt_no_7

  1. After what seemed like an eternity kick off time had arrived, the whole stadium rising to applaud the entrance of the two teams as they stepped out onto the pitch. Chris, complete with captains armband, led Leicester out holding his son Kaiden, both in matching Leicester kits with captains armband's. Normally the duty of captain feel to Matt Mills or Richie Wellens but with both injured he gladly took on the role. Matt's nerves jangled as, after the pre-match pleasantries, the referee gave the whistle to start the game, the first kick recieving a very loud cheer from the packed to capcity Wembley Stadium. Games such as this were one's where fans on both sides craved and dreamed of the early goal but often those same wishes went unheard by the powers that be though for one set of fans, prayers were answered after just 4 minutes. Chris recieved the ball from Nugent and pushed forward before Shikabala made a quick run inside from the left, Chris feeding the ball into his path. Shikabala looked to have got clear of his man but a last ditch tackle from Pearce sent the ball loose and unluckily for the Reading fan's the ball fell to the only Leicester player in the box, Nugent, with him taking his chance with ease to give Leicester an early lead. Matt lept to his feet with his nephew, only just back from mascot duty, laughing in his arms, both of them clapping while his mother just gave a slight smile and a glance to the heavens. The game continued in the same fashion of Leicester pressure, Chris going close on 12 minutes with a shot from the angle after a good passing move, his shot finding only the side netting. Leicester's pressure continued, Reading looking massively out of sorts, the occassion maybe getting to them once again as it did the season before when they fell 4-2 against a rampant Swansea side. On the half hour mark Leicester found the net once more, Aldrete's cross to the back post finding Fierro and Harte. Between them they managed to deflect the ball into Nugent's path only for the flag to be raised as he finished it off to the dismay of the Foxes support. They wouldn't be denied a second time though as Reading looked to mount some pressure on their opponents but with McGugan on the ball Chris slid in, the ball springing loose to Nugent with time to turn and find Fierro who, with acres of space, ran at goal and with Khumalo baring down on him he fired a high and hard effort at the near post which gave Federici no chance and Leicester a 2-0 lead with half time closing in. One end of the stadium and the boxes around them erupted, Matt once more joining in with his nephew's cheers for his dad, Matt constantly now having his brother pointed out. The half ended with Reading slowly finding their feet but just as they looked to get back into the game the referee called time on the first half, contrasting body language from each set of players as they made their way into the changing rooms. Matt took the chance to grab himself a drink, the boys of the group talking over the finer points while the women talked about whatever it is they talked about until they fan's loud cheers brought them back to their seats, the players again out on the pitch. The second half, though slower in starting, was still fully controlled by the men in the blue shirts as they continued to pepper the Reading goal, Chris this time having an effort from distance which produced a brilliant finger tip save from Federici. Even now Matt could remember the fear in kids eye's when he got the ball on the playground, his hammer blow of a shot only getting stronger and stronger as the years went on. The hour mark approached, Leicester still in firm control of the game as the now desperate looking Reading players started clutching a straws but soon they finally woke from their slumber. A long ball down the right of the pitch found Quintero, his pace taking him away from the attentions of Aldrete before applying a low cross for Hunt to finish, a teasing side footed effort into the bottom corner. The Reading fan's burst into life as the hearts of those clad in blue fell a little bit, the nerves now starting to jangle with an hour gone in the game. With the score at 2-1 Leicester made a change with Waghorn coming on for Fernandes, the foxes now switching to a 4-4-2 and it seemed to work for Sven as just 7 minutes later Leicester restored the two goal advantage. King's short free kick to Chris yielded a first time pass into Waghorn, the young striker opening a bit of space before playing a ball through for Nugent. Federici sprang from his line to gather it up but the former England striker got there first, dinking the ball over him and eventually into the bottom corner with just over 20 minutes left to go. The crowd once again erupted like a bomb, everyone in the box following suit, the majority of them with the exception of Matt, Joe and Pancho being hard core Leicester fans. Reading from that point seemed to spark into life, pinning Leicester into their own half for the majority of the time that remained but each chance was tame, either lacking power or precision as they sought a way back in and soon enough the final minutes were upon them. Reading gave it their all for the final 3 minutes of the game, Quitero being teed up from 6 yards out with a free header. His effort looked bound for the top corner until James tipped the ball onto the post and out for a corner. The corner came in, Samba getting up and clearing and then it came. The referee called time on the game and the Leicester's vast travelling support erupted in unison, the players going wild on the pitch as the Reading players sank, some dropping to the floor, a couple in tears while others just trudged off the pitch. Leicester, like Leeds and West Ham, were now Premiership bound.
  2. FM 2011, Javier Pastore on a free transfer to Leeds. Bagged an endless amount of goals, helped me to my first Champions League title and became an all around Leeds legend!
  3. Oh a cup, nice... Sadly i've been drawn in a bloody hard group... Cheers random.org!
  4. The day of the play-off's arrived. Matt arriving in Leicester to pick up his mother, brother Allen and nephew before departing for the trip down to Wembley. It was fair to say he was nursing a pretty heavy hang over, the night before the majority of the Leeds players attending Andy O'Brien's retirement party after injury had cut his career short but he was upbeat, confident of recovering from his cruciate ligament injury so he could move onto coaching and perhaps management. The trip had very little in way of talk as his mother was asleep inside of half an hour of them hitting the M1 along with his brother and then his nephew, leaving Matt to the driving with only the hum of his new BMW's V8 for company as they ate up the miles. He remembered the last play-off final he went to.... And the disappointment that it brought after a heavy 3-0 defeat to Watford, a disappointment he was hoping his brother wouldn't have to endure. There was more than enough traffic on the roads baring some sort of Leicester scarf or flag waving out of the window in the warm early summer air as nearly 30,000 made the same trip to London and in it England's home of football, Wembley. Upon arriving he was guided to a VIP car parking space and escorted to the box which they would watch the game from. His brother Chris did manage to slip away for a few minutes to come and say hello before he and Matt had a quiet word. "How ya feeling?" "Little nervous if i'm honest.... Advice?" Matt paused for a moment, ".... You gotta treat it like it's any other game.... Enjoy the occasion and all that but don't get over awed by the whole thing...." "Ok... Anything else?" "Nah man, you got this.... Just go do what you do." They bumped fists before Chris turned. "Yo.... YOU got this..... Oh and tell that scumbag James good luck... And give him a slap aswell." "Will do." Quickly he departed, leaving Matt to return to the box where his mother sat, just watching the world go by. She hadn't really recovered at all from the loss of her husband yet, Chris saying on numerous occasions that he'd still catch her crying her eye's out clutching photo's of him. It wasn't as if Matt, Chris or Allen, the youngest brother, were fully over it either but for Matt at least, he was coming to terms with it. It was stuff like that which often made him wonder if he'd made the wrong choice in not joining Leicester at the start of the season. "Your dad would have loved this.... The last time we went to a final he was almost in tears.... That time you lost." Matt just nodded, again recalling how his whole family had come to watch the play-off game against Watford six years earlier only to taste his disappointment. "I still can't believe he's gone.... He was a stubborn old git but along with you kids... I never loved anyone more..." Matt nodded once more, close to tears himself as they were both snapped out of their thoughts by Kaiden walking over to them with a biscuit and smile on his face before his grandmother scooped him up and sat him on her lap, them both now just gazing out onto the lush green turf and slowly filling stadium. As the stadium filled so did their box, Pancho and Joe showing up along with James's family which included his girlfriend Donna, someone Matt had introduced him to seven years earlier when he'd been too shy to talk to the girl he'd see every day as he stopped in at the local Tesco following training. They greeted each other, Matt and James' mother, along with Donna, taking up their seats while the Matt, Joe, Pancho and James' dad tucked into the buffet.
  5. In the days that followed it became much clearer the reasons for Rory deception, the truth beginning to out as word got to Matt that he did what he did to cover heavy gambling debts but Matt was unmoved, chosing to once more to confirm his dismissal leaving Matt in total control of his off field affairs. A few days later, following the unveiling of a statue outside the East stand of Elland Road in memory of the great Don Revie who had led Leeds to their best spell of success in the clubs history as well as building a side that at the time were widely regarded as the best in the world, Matt signed on the dotted line to become a full Leeds United player again though he'd have to wait until the end of the Euro's for the contract to activate and become truly official. He met a few of the former Revie players who were also present at the unveiling, as well as current director Peter Lorimer who was currently Leeds United's record goal scorer, a record Matt wanted to snatch from him now he had returned. And while he made a mental note to looking into getting a new agent, for the time being he spent time just going over things himself, first off all calling Jose Mourinho to respectfully decline the offer Madrid made. "Mr Mourinho, hi.... This is..." He was cut off quickly. "Matt... I know." "Oh, good.... Listen i'm calling about the offer. While it was very flattering and knowing full well that the chance to play for Real Madrid doesn't come along very often.... I'm going to have to decline." "Is it more money?" "No... In all honesty i'm happy at Leeds... Happier than i've been in a long time. Plus, i reckon this Leeds side can go places... We have a great manager and i want to be part of it."[b/] "Well, i thank you for your honesty Matt. I can't say i'm not disappointed but i can respect your reasons for staying.... Maybe one day we will get the chance to work together but in the meantime, good luck for next season and the Euro's." "Thanks, and good luck in the Champions League Final...." In the week that followed all eye's turned to the Premier League as the season came to a close with a bang and a fair few surprises. Firstly, with Man Utd, Liverpool and Chelsea locking out the top three places it, left the final Champions League up for grabs with it coming down to the last day of the season. Arsenal needed a win at home to relegation threatened Newcastle United while Spurs could secure it with a win over Sunderland. In the end, Newcastle managed to pick up a valuable win to hand Spurs the final place in the Champions League and deny North London rivals Arsenal who had to make do with a spot in the Europa League and condemn Arsene Wenger to his first season outside the top four with Arsenal. The draw had settled who would join QPR and Swansea in the Championship next season, but with Norwich needing a win to have any chance they fell by 2-0 against West Brom at Carrow Road to complete a clean sweep as all of last season's promoted teams went straight back down to the Championship. With the season at an end Fabio Capello named his 30-man preliminary England squad for the European Championship with the team set to be narrowed down to the final 23 after friendlies against Bosnia & Herzegovina, Slovenia and France. Goalkeepers Joe Hart (Man City) Robert Green (West Ham Utd) Fraser Forster (Celtic) Defenders Micah Richards (Man City) Glen Johnson (Liverpool) Chris Smalling (Man Utd) Ashley Cole (Chelsea) Leighton Baines (Everton) John Terry (Chelsea) Rio Ferdinand (Man Utd) Phil Jagielka (Everton) Gary Cahill (Bolton) Midfielders Gareth Barry (Man City) Tom Huddlestone (Tottenham) Owen Hargreaves (Man City) Jack Rodwell (Everton) Steven Gerrard (Liverpool) Frank Lampard (Chelsea) James Milner (Man City) Jack Wilshere (Arsenal) Ashley Young (Man Utd) Aaron Lennon (Tottenham) Theo Walcott (Arsenal) Stewart Downing (Liverpool) Forwards Gabby Agbonlahor (Aston Villa) Matt Warner (Leeds/Arsenal) Peter Crouch (Stoke) Darren Bent (Aston Villa) Wayne Rooney (Man Utd) Andy Carroll (LIverpool) Matt had been given the call meaning he would join up with the squad on the Tuesday which would give him enough time to watch his brother Chris in the Championship play-off final.
  6. After a night of partying in London with the league title in tow they headed home to Leeds, many struggling with heavy hang overs throughout the journey up to Elland Road but all seemed to perk up as they arrived, finding an open top bus waiting for them. Soon they were onto bus and heading through a packed city centre route, each player taking turns to show off the newly obtained Championship title trophy. Once more, despite some heavy hangovers, there was another night of partying in celebration of their success. The following morning, though he was woken early again, this time it was only by his phone. "Hello?" "Alright Matty..." A fresh sounding Jamie Redknapp on the other end of the line. "Yo.... Whats up?" "Didn't mean to wake you so early but just wanted to let you know that we have the contract all ready for you to sign and... You've been voted player of the month for April." "Oh.... Cool.... I'll errrmmm.... Come in tomorrow if thats ok?" "You alright?" "Yeah.... I'm gonna go, reckon last night is going to make a second appearence." The end of the month brought the awards and along with Matt being named as player of the month, Craig Dawson was named as young player of the month while Reading manager Brian McDermott was handed the award for manager of the month. With the regular season at an end the focus fell on the play-off's with Reading to face Bristol City while Leicester took on Burnley. In the first leg Bristol City went down 4-1 at home to Reading while Leicester also scored four in a 4-3 win over Burnley who, on 88 minutes, were 3-2 up until goals from Peltier and a 94th minute winner form Matt's brother Chris put the Midland's side up leading into the 2nd leg at the King Power Stadium. On the same day there was more high drama as firstly an 89th minute Chris Smalling goal gave Man Utd a 2-1 win over inter city rivals Man City but also, handed Man Utd a twentieth title as they stepped out of reach of both Liverpool and Chelsea. Liverpool though got some consolation on the day as following a 2-2 draw in normal time, Luis Suarez became only the second man in history to bag a hat trick to wrap up a 3-2 win over West Bromich Albion at Wembley. Liverpool had led by 2-0 with just over 20 minutes left to go but second half goals from Shane Long and a 90th minute own goal from Martin Kelly took the game in to extra time where Suarez struck with a little over 10 minutes left to go to hand Liverpool the F.A. Cup. After the weekend the Leeds players were officially given the green light to start their holidays while one player would be starting it in a cast, Monty Gimpel picking up a broken foot following a fifty-fifty challenge in training adding further to the injury woes that started on his debut. On the Monday night Reading once more showed the lethal touch as they put another four past Bristol City in a 4-0 win which meant they booked their place in the play-off final and the following night, so did Leicester. An efficient 2-0 win came courtesy of a second half brace from Shikabala, Matt sending his brother Chris and friend James a text almost straight away to congratulate them and demand a ticket for the game.
  7. Maybe all the sheep bumming is having an adverse effect on their performance?
  8. I lost... Something new and different for a change then? lol
  9. The Millwall players, after taking a moment to offer congratulations, departed leaving Leeds to soak up the adoration of the travelling support. While it wasn't a lap of honor they made their way up and down the length of the home support several times and soon enough a small stage was erected, the players and staff taking turns in walking up to collect their medals with Jonny Howson being the last to pick up his medal. The excitement began to build before Howson was handed the trophy, taking a moment to give it a kiss before thrusting it into the air to the cue of fireworks and confetti, Queen's "We are the champions" ringing out over the PA system. The on pitch celebrations went on for a good half hour before they finally got back inside, Matt getting his turn to parade the trophy infront of the very vocal travelling support before heading into the changing rooms to continue the party. The champagne flowed freely in the dressing rooms as Redknapp pulled Matt to one side, both stepping into the corridor. "Well done Matty.... I just wanted to say thanks for the season... You had other options but you chose to come back. We'll miss you next season though..." "Miss me next season? Are you not going to make an offer?" "We did... Your agent said you'd decided on a move to Real Madrid..." "He what?! When?" "About two weeks ago...." Redknapp replied with a look of confusion at Matt's reaction. Almost like clock work Matt's agent Rory rounded the corner and called him over. Matt turned slowly and headed towards him. "Matty congratulations mate, listen we need to talk about this Madrid...." Matt's fist cut the sentence short as it connected with his jaw, Rory's legs going to jelly as he hit the ground with a light thud. "No noooo, i want to talk about the Leeds offer.... Ya know, the one that i've just heard about!?" "Listen i can explain...." He said, rubbing his jaw. "Ok... Go on..." Matt folded his arms as Rory worked his way back to his feet. "Real Madrid.... They are one of the biggest teams in the world. Your better than Leeds.... Your..." Matt had heard enough, grabbing him by the tie and forcing him against the wall. ".... You little scumbag.... Don't you f**kin dare try and tell me you were doing this for me... You were doing it for you, the only difference in the offers apart from wages would have been your cut... Well congratulations... Now you get f**k all." "Wha.... Why?" "Cause your fired jackass.... Get out of my sight..." Rory again felt that familar feeling in the pit of his stomach, "Matty please... I'm in real trouble mate.... I need this money or..." Matt again cut him short, "Rory i'm gonna give you one chance.... Leave while you still have the legs to carry you..." Matt turned to walk away only to find Redknapp standing there. "How much was the offer you made gaffer?" "£30,000 a week for three years." Matt held his hand out, Redknapp responding with a firm handshake. "Just tell me when and where to sign and you got yourself a player..." Matt said as he gave one last look to a sorry looking Rory before heading back into the changing rooms to celebrate the title success. A few minutes later Rory left, trying to beat a quick retreat to his car but as he neared it he saw Morris stood by the black Porsche 911. Their eye's met for a moment before Rory turned to run, only to be stopped dead in his tracks by Phil and Jack before being dragged over to Morris. "I assume you don't have my money then?" With tears in his eye's he made one last plea, "I just need a little more time... Please Mr. Morris..." Morris sighed for a moment, "Put him in the car.." He said, Rory struggling with all he was worth but it was to no avail as he was bundled into the back seat before the Jaguar took off at speed...
  10. The week seemed to fly by, news of Madrid offer to Matt now being speculated on a daily basis. The players spoke to him about it once or twice but oddly enough Redknapp, nor anyone else in the coaching staff even batted an eye lid which left Matt wondering slighty. Soon though it was Saturday morning and the squad boarded the bus for the trip down to London, the players also being made aware that their game would now be televised along with West Ham's home clash with Birmingham. Burnley and Brighton would also recieve television coverage with a slip for either side meaning they could forfeit their place in the play-off's with both Bristol City and Birmingham ready to pounce. Relegation had already been sealed for those that were due to go down, Watford, Peterborough and Coventry all set to drop into League One for the 2012/13 season come the conclusion of the days games. Soon enough though Sunday and kick off time arrived, the whole day whizzing by in a haze of activity until Redknapp gathered everyone around for his pre-game talk. "Twenty years....... Twenty years..... Thats how long it's been since the fans of Leeds United were able to celebrate their team winning a trophy. Some may say that it's only the Championship but to them it isn't.... To them this is what they have been begging for.... What they've dreamed about and.... What they have DESERVED. Right now you've got one hand on the title.... Seven miles from here West Ham are ready to take that from you.... And the fans that follow you rain or shine, up and down the country, week in and week out.... Do it for the medal, do it for the plaudits but most importantly..." He paused, pointing upwards as they could all faintly hear the travelling support singing "Marching on Together" in the stands above them, "..... Do it for them!" npower Championship 29/04/2012 Millwall vs Leeds Utd Formation: 4-2-2-2 GK: Alex McCarthy RB: Paul Connolly LB: Ben Parker CB: Craig Dawson CB: Patrick Kisnorbo CM: Jonny Howson © CM: David Jones AMR: Robert Snodgrass AML: Magaye Gueye ST: Matt Warner ST: Ross McCormack SUBS: GK: Paul Rachubka RB: Stewart Parnaby CB: Tamas Kadar MC: Adam Clayton ST: Luciano Beccio The team was unchanged from that which beat Nottm Forest just over a week before. The home fan's hostile towards a team they saw as their rivals thanks largely to off field battles more than those on field as the side stepped out into the late April sun. Millwall got the game underway and soon enough gave the home support something to cheer about. Henderson collected the ball with his back to goal before knocking it back to Trotter who, with time and space on his side, played a very simple ball back through to Henderson. With no one tracking him and McCarthy rishing to close the angle he struck low under the young keeper to put Millwall a goal to the good inside of 3 minutes. The early going saw Millwall keeping the ball, running Leeds in circles at times to the annoyance of Redknapp on the sidelines. It took a full 15 minutes before Leeds fashioned their first chance of the game, Dawson getting his head to a Jones corner, his effort too high to trouble Forde in the home goal. Leeds began to grow in confidence after their slow start, Forde starting to get tested on multiple occassions with both Matt and Gueye being given the chance to level the scores without success, Millwall proving difficult to break down in the early going but it wasn't all one way. Bostock came close from a free kick in dangerous territory while Marquis was set loose by a Hackett through ball but his effort was blazed wildly over the bar. Leeds though was starting to fashion the more dangerous of the chances as the half drew toward it's end. Gueye's having an effort well saved before McCormack reacted brilliantly to head back towards goal, Forde only just managing to keep the ball out before it was cleared. Soon enough though Probert had seen enough and called an end to the half with news from West Ham serving to calm them slightly as their title rivals found themselves both a goal and a man down at half time, Ilunga getting his marching orders after just 6 minutes. Redknapp though was less than pleased, "What the f**k was that? Are you trying to throw this game away?! FORGET whats happening at West Ham.... We can't afford to think because they are a goal and a man down that they can't still win.... We've won games when down a man and they are just as good as us. Craig, Paddy, Matt.... I want better from you three for a start, get your arses in gear... Time to s**t or get off the pot!" The second half started as the first ended with Leeds in control, Snodgrass's early effort again forcing Forde to push it away, this time for a corner. Dawson once again got on the end of it as a light rain began to fall, this time his effort was denied by the cross bar before Millwall cleared their lines but the home side continued to pose problems, Trotter with a shot from distance which McCarthy did well to tip over the bar. The game fell into a back and forth motion as each side took turns in testing the opposition keeper, the clock ticking past the hour mark in the process with the score staying locked at 1-0. Soon though Redknapp was casting glances back to his sub bench while talking to Snodin about possible options. Snodgrass, after looking a little worse for ware, was replaced by Beccio which once more meant that McCormack would go onto the left wing with just under 15 minutes remaining in the game. Though Leeds tried, they couldn't seem to break them down, Millwall shutting up shop and looking the far more confident of the sides. Smith's throw in from the right found Hackett who nipped clear of Parker and crossed at the near post to an unmarked Henderson to head goalwards, McCarthy saved brilliantly and the ball dropped for Howson to bring it clear. He took a touch and sent a ball over the top for Matt to chase down the left, Mkandwire trying in vein to keep up with him and as he reached the byline he looped a cross in. There was very little in way of support but in fairytale fashion Beccio arrived surrounded by blue shirts and rose highest to apply a low powerful header into the bottom corner infront of the away support. They went mad, a few breaking clear of the stewards to celebrate with their heroes as Leeds drew level with just 2 minutes of injury time left in the game. The whole team moved to the corner to celebrate a goal which could see them perhaps snatch the title. Eventually order was restored but time was short and before too long Lee Probert blew the final whistle to confirm their new status as Champions. ( )Millwall 1 (Henderson 3) Leeds Utd 1 (Beccio 90+1) MoM: Darius Henderson (Millwall) Att: 19,734
  11. Following the game the players were rushed onto the bus with the radio already tuned in to hear the Reading-West Ham game. As things stood before kick off Leeds were top and anything but a win for the away side would see that stay unchanged going into the final game of the season. It was hushed on the bus as they listened intently, each one of them a Reading fan for the next 90 minutes. "Short corner by Harte to Keogh.... Who plays it back. Harte looks for space to cross and does to... KARACAAAN!!!!..... I think it may have taken a deflection though.... Yes, the cross played in by Harte, Karacan volleys but the ball takes a slight deflection off the shoulder of Robson-Kanu. Reading 1-0 West Ham." The bus erupted for a moment in a haze of joy before they once again settled in, nerves back to jangling with each minute that passed. The action died down and before they knew it they were back a Elland Road. There was a rush to get off the bus and into the clubs bar but suddenly they all stopped.... "Lansbury now, looking to cross.... Oh superb tackle from McGugan and Reading can break now. Robson-Kanu finds a ball to Quintero but he's crowded out..... Cuts it inside to Karacan and he plays in Keogh.... Andy Keogh with time and space through on gooooal.... SCORES! A brilliant counter attack from Reading, Keogh, the former Leeds man even now doing favours for his former club with Reading now 2-0 up with just under twenty-five minutes left to go..." Again there was punching of the air, high fives and cheering, Keogh it seemed still intent on helping Leeds despite his refusal to sign on a perminent basis. They waited for a few moments before deciding to make a break for the players lounge, the game being shown on the BBC. Things looked to be just about done and dusted, Reading sweeping the ball around with confidence until.... "Diop hoofs a ball forward for Nolan to chase..... Nolan with the ball now, Carew in the centre screaming for it..... 2-1! Nolan picks out a low cross for John Carew who slides in and gives West Ham the life line they have been seeking with seven minutes left in the game...." Matt dropped his head into his hands for a moment, some sat silently while a couple of defenders went as far as to question the marking. Still soon they settled into a dead silence once more, every now and then each of them glancing at the clock in the corner of the screen with time seemingly wanting to drag it's feet in the final moments of the game. "Belluschi now with the ball.... Driving down the right looking for one last chance.... The cross comes in and... Khumalo clear into touch..... THATS IT! The referee calls time on the game, a big win for Reading which all but guarantee's them 3rd in the league but the bigger news is West Ham drop to 2nd with the defeat, two points behind Leeds who won earlier in the day with both sides set to be in London for their final games in a weeks time...." The room took a collective deep breath and a sigh of relief before a few low key cheers. Redknapp rose from his seat and turned the TV off. "It's yours to win now boys..... But also yours to lose..... Off you go, get rested up and back in on Monday morning." Each one finished their drinks before filtering out safe in the knowledge that one more win would give them a league title.
  12. The Tuesday and Wednesday night also saw action of a different kind in the form of the Champions League which was now at the semi final stage. In the big tie of the quarter final Real Madrid finally got the better of their bitter rivals Barcelona in a 3-1 win on aggregate. Arsenal ended Olympiacos' European adventure, over coming them by 4-3 over the two legs. Man Utd demolished Benfica by 9-2 after a 6-0 2nd leg win over their Portugese opponents at Old Trafford while Chelsea made it three English teams in the semi final thanks to a last minute Didier Drogba goal at Stamford Bridge to send the blues through 3-2 on aggregate against FC Bayern. In the semi finals, of which the 2nd leg took place on the same night as Leeds' win over Hull, Chelsea faced off against Arsenal while Real Madrid drew Man Utd. In the first leg Chelsea blitzed their London rivals by 3-0 before losing the 2nd leg by 1-0 to seal Chelsea's spot in the final to be held at the Allianz Arena while in the other contest Real Madrid started well by beating Man Utd by 4-2 before the second leg yielded only a 1-1 draw meaning Jose Mourinho would face off against his former club while Villas-Boas would face his former mentor. In Leeds though it was back to business as usual. There was one small change to the line up which had won promotion five days earlier, Kisnorbo deemed as fit to return to the defence at the expence of Kilgallon who had done well in his short time at the club, a point Redknapp had made a mental note of for when the transfer window opened again. Despite the promotion midweek the coaching staff had drilled them slightly harder than normal in training with the league title still very much up for grabs. Nottingham Forest went into the game without a win in their last five games but as the manager was keen to point out, being title contenders against a team with nothing to play for painted a target on their back, both Forest and Millwall would be intent of taking a scalp and denying them the title of champions. npower Championship 21/04/2012 Nottm Forest vs Leeds Utd Formation: 4-2-2-2 GK: Alex McCarthy RB: Paul Connolly LB: Ben Parker CB: Craig Dawson CB: Patrick Kisnorbo CM: Jonny Howson © CM: David Jones AMR: Robert Snodgrass AML: Magaye Gueye ST: Matt Warner ST: Ross McCormack SUBS: GK: Paul Rachubka RB: Stewart Parnaby CB: Tamas Kadar MC: Adam Clayton ST: Luciano Beccio It was easy to see that the city ground was a sell out, their chairman midweek also going as far as to see this would be an unforgettable match of football for home and away fans alike. The sun was once more out in force as the teams stepped onto the pitch with both sides being greeted enthusiasticly by their sets of fans. Forest won the coin toss and opted to kick off and the game started, slowly, at first before both sides managed to calve chances out. McCormack's found Dawson leaping highest at the back post but his header ended up behind the goal while Forest almost got lucky with a chance of their own. Findley picked up the ball in the middle and looked for a pass out wide to Reid but in blocking it, Howson sent the ball right onto Tudgay's run but luckily for him McCarthy closed the angle and managed to tip it wide of the mark. The resulting corner once more made trouble for the Leeds defence, Greening's attempt seeking out Morgan who beat Dawson in the air and near enough everyone else only for Parker to clear off the line with his head. The game once more calmed slightly, some fan's voicing their frustration at the chess like nature of the match but soon enough they were both creating chances again, Leeds coming closest as Gueye's run down the left ended with what was a poor cross, McCormack though snatched the ball from Morgan and laid it back in for Matt but his high shot was straight at Camp from 8 yards. Though there was plenty of effort on both sides neither was able to come up with anything truly clear cut and as half time arrived the scores remain all square. "It's lazy boys..... I've seen chances ready to open up but were unwilling to play the killer ball! Get your heads up alright.... Nothing in this world worth having comes easy so if you really want to go up as champions your gonna have to work damn hard in the next forty-five minutes...." He urged as the players sat, listening intently. Each department and some individual players were given instruction. Matt and McCormack were given a slight talking to, "I've not heard a peep out of you two today.... Start talking! I want goals off the both of you today!" With his words still ringing in their ears they headed back out and they seemed to do the trick. Matt managed to find space to shoot with Camp saving but the corner that followed didn't have the same outcome, much to the dismay of the home fans. Jones left footed corner once more found Dawson's leap at the back stick, this time his header carried both power and placement as Camp failed to keep it out. With their tails up Leeds pressed on, McCormack and Matt both having chances saved well by Camp in the Forest goal, the latter of the two coming in for some stick from the home support due to his Leicester roots. Forest weren't without their threats though as Findley showed as he zipped away for Kisnorbo and with McCarthy racing out he managed to side step him and shoot, but the effort was wayward and rolled harmlessly out for a goal kick. The disappointment on his face was clear to see and it only served to grow a minute later. Howson collected the ball on the just outside the 18 yard box, turned and passed to Matt who set off, slipping away from three Forest defenders before laying up a short low pass right to an unmarked Snodgrass to fire into the roof of the net with half an hour left to go. Following the goal Forest began to mount a continued spell of pressure, Leeds standing strong and McCarthy making a couple of good saves in the process, most notable of which denied Reid after he was gifted time and space by Connolly. Going into the final 10 minutes the score remained at 2-0, chances and possession starting to even out once more as both sides entered the home stretch. In the final few minutes Redknapp decided to make three changes in one fell swoop. Parnaby came in for Connolly, Clayton replaced a tired looking Howson and Gueye made way for Beccio with McCormack going onto the left wing for the final few minutes. The changes, though time consuming, failed to yield any goals and with the full time whistle came another loud cheer from the large away following though the cheer itself carried more than a hint of relief. "It was a good professional performance boys in the second half lads, well done. We've done what we needed to on our end, now it's down to Reading to do us a favour!" ( )Nottm Forest 0 Leeds Utd 2 (Dawson 47; Snodgrass 61) MoM: Craig Dawson (Leeds) Att: 30,576
  13. Three days earlier... A single light hung from the ceiling, lighting the dark round table below as the men around it sat in silence, the thick clouds of cigarette and cigar smoke hanging in the air around them. Rory glanced down at his hand and back to the chips laid out in the middle of the table, the cool sum of £500,000 arranged in a make shift pile, just waiting for his opponent to take the bait. The man across from him, an older gentleman and the only one other than Rory still in the game, just stared across the table at him before uttering the words Rory had been hoping for. "All in..." He said and deep tone, pushing the remaining chips into the middle of the table. The dealer nodded, the sum increasing to close to the one million mark as Rory was left glancing at the cards on the table, two eights, one of clubs and one of diamonds, a 9 of clubs, jack of spades and an ace of diamonds. Rory's heart was pounding, partly due to the large sum that was due to become his but also partly due to the two gentleman stood away from the table just behind him. The dealer called for them to reveal their cards, Rory confidently placing his down, a ace of clubs and a eight of spades, "Full house.." Said the dealer, Rory's hands eager to reach across and grab the money which would finally get him out of the mess he found himself in. The dealer turned to the man across from Rory as he looked up, his look of disappointment turning to one that sent waves of dread through Rory. He laid his cards down on the table, a 10 of hearts and a queen of diamonds. "Straight flush..." Rory's face dropped as the dealer pushed the chips out of reach, the feeling that he'd had in the pit of his stomach all night increased ten fold in a matter of seconds as the two gentleman who had been stood static made their way to the table. They stood next to Rory, who by now had his head in his hands, before lifting him from the table and leading him out of the back door to an alley. "Ah Rory, i assume all didn't go to plan then?" The man said, casually smoking his cigar. "Look, i can get the money... Please Mr. Morris i'm begging you i got something big coming up..." Rory pleaded. The man laughed for a moment, tossing the last of his cigar on the floor before angling a solid punch into Rory's mid section. "Seeing as your having to come to me to fund your little habbit i highly doubt, having just lost another one hundred thousand, that you can come up with over seven times that..." He said, straightening his jacket before giving his two heavies a nod, "Now Jack and Phil here don't like you very much... But don't let it be said that i'm not fair... You have two weeks to find my money otherwise my two friends here are going to do some very nasty things to you." He slipped into the back of the Jaguar that sat waiting silently before rolling down the window. "And just so you know i'm serious..." Not a second past from the end of the short statement did a flurry of punches rain down on Rory from the two large men, leaving him in a crumpled heap on the floor before they also got into the car. "Two weeks Rory, don't disappoint me." He said, closing the window as the car departed down the alley way.
  14. Your not secretly Arsene Wenger by any chance are you?
  15. GOD DAMNIT! Couldn't bloody buy a win! lol
  16. The following morning Matt woke to a shuffling noise just next to him that, thanks to the large amounts of champagne he'd downed the night before, seemed like a jack hammer. Rolling over the find the source she paused slightly while collecting her clothes. "Hi." Rachel, the club receptionist, whispered. Matt took a moment, his mind trying to track back to the events of the previous night with little luck. "Did we....." He lifted the covers to take a peek, finding himself naked, "... We did didn't we?" She nodded, eye's scanning the room every now and then for any piece of clothing she may have missed. "What time is it?" She managed to get a glance at her watch without dropping anything, "Nearly eight..." "Then why the f**k are we awake? Lets go back to sleep." "I have work in an hour.... Listen can we keep this between us? I don't want this to jeopardise my job and.... I sort of.... Have a boyfriend. Can we keep this to ourselves?" Matt rubbed his eye's and yawned, half paying attention to what she was saying, "What... Oh yeah yeah, no worries.... My lips are sealed.... You know your way out?" She nodded while slipping her shoes on. "Cool... I'm going back to sleep then, nighty nighty." With that he rolled back over and instantly back into a deep sleep. An hour or so passed before he was drawn from his drunken slumber once more, this time the vibration of his phone causing his to groan in frustration, "What?" "Matty it's Rory, you seen the papers?" He said referencing the back page coverage of their promotion and that of a well known visitor. "Dude, seriously, all i want is some sleep..." "Zidane was at the game yesterday, we spoke about the offer. I've looked it over twice and it looks good." "What are the numbers?" He sighed, rubbing his eye's. "Three years, £75,000 a week.... £1m loyalty bonus and a nice tidy fee for myself." "As always..." "So what do you say..?" Matt paused for a moment, sencing Rory's eagerness on the other end of the phone. "Has there been anything from Leeds yet? "Sorry mate.... I've not heard anything.... Maybe they are waiting until the season is done but this Madrid offer may not wait..." "Listen let me sleep on it for a few days, i'll let you know soon ok...." "Ok, i'll call you soon." With that Rory ended the call and turned back to his desk, lifting two sheets of paper from the dark wooden surface so he could look them over once more. One from Real Madrid while the other bore the crest of Leeds United at the top of it. With a deep breath he turned his chair slighty towards the small shredding machine that sat next to his desk. He paused for a moment before feeding the Leeds offer into it, the device bursting into life and make short work of the paper it was given before falling silent once again. Rory glanced back to the Madrid offer, eye's focused on the six figure number set out as an agent fee....
  17. Matt and Redknapp stood ready for questions to be fired their way, the changing room area noisy and hectic as celebrations were in full swing, champagne already flying everywhere. "Jamie, your first season as a manager and you've guided Leeds back to the Premiership when many said you would struggle to survive past Christmas, whats going through your head right now?" He laughed for a moment as he was soaked in champagne, "Honestly? I've been thinking we should have won by more tonight but at the end of the day were up, we'll be playing Premier League football next season and the only thing that would make it better would be going up at Champions. As for those who gave me and this team little chance, well just look at us now!" "And Matt, to score in such dramatic fashion, that will surely live long in the memory won't it?" Matt nodded, taking a gulp from the champagne bottle in his hand, "Oh for sure.... I said i had unfinished business here when i arrived so errrrr... To win it with a late goal, in a tight game, infront of such a large and amazing crowd.... I can't think of many better moments if i'm honest." "Is it now job done or will you be gunning to snatch the title from West Ham Jamie?" "Were not done yet, we have two games left and as long as the title in within touching distance we'll keep chasing.... They'll be no let up on our end i assure you." "Well guys congratulations once more, i'm going to try and find somewhere dry...." The reporter said as more champagne was sprayed his way. He left with the players singing "Marching On Together." at the top of their lungs. In truth it wasn't the greatest game of football ever but the greatest games aren't about the full ninety minutes, they are about those little moments which can turn a drab draw into a dramatic win. In the hours that followed Matt receieved numerous texts and phone calls from family and friends, his brother Chris and best friend James in particular giving him and Leeds the seal of approval, one of them sending a text that read, "You lot were top notch all season, rode your blip out well and hit form at the right time.... Fully deserved.... Just keep your eye out for an invite to Wembley!"
  18. Cheers mate, second half of the season was a real slog but still got a couple of games left to go so stay tuned!
  19. While many sides sent messages of support and hopes of recovery for Trevor Francis who suffered a heart attack, the football was once again rocked as the collapse and sad death of former Italy U21 midfielder Piermario Morosini during a Serie B game. Following a similar incident with Fabrice Muamba just a month earlier many players were now requesting cardiac exams while multiple authorities were calling for them to be made more frequently by all professional clubs. The win for Leeds took them past the 100 goal mark but still they sat 2nd in the league as West Ham managed to sneak past Crystal Palace in a 2-1 win but it also meant for Leeds needed just four points from their next four games to guarantee themselves a place in the top flight next season but they could also rubber stamp a return to the big time with a win against Hull should other results also go their way, namely West Ham beating Leicester. There was also the guarantee of at least a play off place for Reading after they beat Cardiff by 2-0 while Leicester dropped points in a 1-1 draw at home to Burnley but stayed in 3rd place just two points ahead of 4th placed Reading. Elsewhere in the F.A Cup semi final Liverpool beat Tottenham by 3-1 courtesy of a Luis Suarez brace and a Ledley King own goal, Gallas getting the goal for Spurs but the real shock came in the other semi final. Peter Odemwingie's double either side of a Niko Kranjar strike saw West Brom beat Man Utd to set up a date at Wembley in May against Liverpool. There would be little time for Leeds to catch their breath with only three days between the win against Ipswich and their final home game of the season against Hull. The squad remained near enough unchanged with the exception of Clayton coming onto the bench in place of Vayrynen. npower Championship 17/04/2012 Leeds Utd vs Hull City Formation: 4-2-2-2 GK: Alex McCarthy RB: Paul Connolly LB: Ben Parker CB: Craig Dawson CB: Matthew Kilgallon CM: Jonny Howson © CM: David Jones AMR: Robert Snodgrass AML: Magaye Gueye ST: Matt Warner ST: Ross McCormack SUBS: GK: Paul Rachubka RB: Stewart Parnaby CB: Tamas Kadar MC: Adam Clayton ST: Luciano Beccio The fans turned out in their droves for the final home game of the season which, depending on the final score from the West Ham vs Leicester game, would either see Leeds promoted or go top of the table. The team was on a high as the referee blew his whistle to signal the start, Matt and McCormack getting proceedings underway with Leeds just edging the early exchanges, the most notable chance falling the way of Howson, his effort giving Basso something to think about but to the joy of the enthusiastic home support the first goal didn't take long to follow. Howson and Jones exchanged passes before the latter moved the ball forward to McCormack and with a quick glance up he played a smart through ball for Matt who beat the offside trap, rounded the keeper and netted his 10th goal in his last five games to send the hardcore support in the Revie End into party mode. The goal instantly raised the volume inside the ground as mexican waves and songs broke out and though it wasn't a constant barrage of pressure from the home side, they were looking the more likely to add to the scoring. Snodgrass was the next to go close as his long run across field yielded a shot which had Basso well beaten but luckily for him the effort just harmlessly grazed the bar. Things were going well but, as there always seemed to be, no plan came without a hitch and as Hull's Dawson whipped in a free kick from the right Dawson of Leeds was somehow ajudged to have fouled Garcia, the referee pointing to the spot in an instant. The chance was handed to former Leeds player Barmby, his attempt ending up in the top corner to level the scores once more. It turned out to be the last piece of real action of the half. In the changing rooms the volume was just as loud, "We have not been anywhere near good enough. It's time we matured, i'm tired of seeing have to make mistakes before we really start playing! Win the half.... 45 minutes.... You ARE better than them, you just have to show everyone so get your f**kin arses in gear and do the work!"/ The half started in even fashion, Garcia and Snodgrass having tame but on target efforts which each keeper made light work of. The first truly good save the half came from Basso as Howson picked out a long ball over the top for Matt to chase, his low curling attempt being tipped up and away from goal, McShane clearing with McCormack baring down on the loose ball. The game though, in fairness was a drab affair peppered with the odd spell of pressure and chances from the home side though very rarely did it take the visiting keeper out of his comfort zone. The pressure continued, Leeds seemingly getting closer and closer to retaking the lead, one such instance coming from a corner as Jones found Dawson at the back post but his power header goalwards was cleared off the line by the head of post minder Rosenior to add to the frustration of both the players and the fans, the latter becoming more vocal as chance after chance went begging, Gueye, McCormack and Snodgrass all finding themselves with chances to put Leeds back in front but all buckling when it mattered most. Subs were getting warm on the sidelines while Redknapp took to his technical area over and over again to try and inspire his players to show the lethal touch. As the half progressed further again though Basso became a cause for frustration when a goal looked nailed on. Snodgrass tried and failed to find space down the right before playing back to Connolly who looped an effort to the back post first time, Gueye rose brilliantly and headed down only for Basso to get down equally well and palm it clear, Koren eventually hoofing it into touch. Just when things were starting to look desperate, the form striker in the league decided to step up. Working from the back in a patient manner soon the ball found it's self at the feet of of Gueye who played it back to Jones in space. With a brief look up he hit it first time over the defence, Matt breaking clear of the flat footed back line and with Basso closing in the shot and finish he produced had it all, power, placement and the right amount of flair. The entire bench, along with the rest of the stadium, was on their feet as a few fans found themselves onto the pitch to celebrate with the crowd of players that had gathered around the corner flag. After alot of commotion the stewards and the referee finally restored order, Matt taking one last look back and delivering a Leeds salute to those in the crowded stands. With the 3 minutes of added on time nearing it's end there was an almighty cheer that soon made it's way around the ground, the stewards lined up in large numbers to keep the fans in place. Matt couldn't help but wonder what it was, had Leicester beaten West Ham? Had they drawn? Had West Ham pipped Leicester? As the whistle blew for full time the crowd once again erupted in a flurry of joy, Matt giving them a wave before trotting over to the touch line only to be met by Clayton who pretty much dived on him. "What? What happened?" The smile said it all really. "West Ham won 2-1.... Were going to the Premier League!" Soon the word spread to the whole team, the celebrations on the pitch eventually decending into an all out pitch invasion. Players mobbed by fans both young and old, some, Matt included, were hoisted onto their shoulders and carried around for what seemed like a good half hour. Leeds were going home.... ( )Leeds Utd 2 (Warner 9, 88) Hull City 1 (Barmby pen 40) MoM: Matt Warner (Leeds) Att: 35,027
  20. With no new injury news for Leeds they made their way south to Ipswich, Redknapp fully intending to name the same starting line up with the exception of White who would be replaced by Parker, Kadar taking his place on the bench. Ipswich had endured a tough season but looked as though they would escape relegation being eight points clear of the drop zone with just four games left though a defeat could change all that should teams below them manage to win. npower Championship 14/04/2012 Ipswich Town vs Leeds Utd Formation: 4-2-2-2 GK: Alex McCarthy RB: Paul Connolly LB: Ben Parker CB: Craig Dawson CB: Matthew Kilgallon CM: Jonny Howson © CM: David Jones AMR: Robert Snodgrass AML: Magaye Gueye ST: Matt Warner ST: Ross McCormack SUBS: GK: Paul Rachubka RB: Stewart Parnaby CB: Tamas Kadar MC: Mika Vayrynen ST: Luciano Beccio The sun sat beaming high in the sky making for a unusually warm April day as the teams and fans gave a minute applause in respect of Trevour Francis who suffered a heart attack days earlier, all around football wishing him a quick recovery before the game kicked off with a nice early chance falling the way of Gueye. He collected Snodgrass' cross to the back post but after coming inside his right footed effort lacked power but the same couldn't be said for the next chance on goal. With less the 5 minutes on the clock Ipswich went up the other end, Dallku and Fernandez exchanging passes before the latter collected a pass at a tight angle and fired past an almost shocked looking McCarthy at the near post. Redknapp once again letting his players know how upset he was at yet another lapse in concentration. Straight from the kick off though Leeds went close to getting back on level terms almost instantly as Matt and Snodgrass worked themselves down the right before the latter crossed for the former, Matt's diving glance of a header narrowly missing out on nestling in the bottom corner as once again his weak heading ability came to the fore but redemption wasn't far away. Snodgrass picked up a pass from Connolly on the right side and dinked a pass infield to Matt, catching his marker flat footed he turned and burst towards goal. He took a moment to set himself before hammering a shot goalwards which beat Stockdale all hands up and had them level again with barely 10 minutes gone. The game calmed following the two early goals, both sides now seemingly content for the time being to just feel each other out though there was still the odd chance. Dawson had a header from McCormack's corner cleared off the line while Jones went close with a free kick but before too long Leeds were clearly the dominant side and the scoreline would reflect that. Snodgrass once more feeding the ball into Matt from the right, this time he dinked a pass forward and after shrugging off the challenge of Ingimarsson McCormack slotted past the stranded Stockdale. Though Ipswich tried to create an opening, the chances they did fashion failed to challenge McCarthy. Leeds continued to threaten at the other end however and soon enough they extended their lead. Matt sprang loose down the right wing before cutting a pass back to Snodgrass who applied a low cross to the edge of the 6 yard box where McCormack nipped in ahead of Dallku as he attempted to clear, the ball trickling into the back of the net to heap more woe on the home side. Soon enough it was half time and Redknapp, while praising the efforts of the first half, warned his players to keep their focus "Great half lads but this lot are on the brink, they are still dangerous so keep your heads on the job, don't get ahead of yourselves and put the game to bed nice and early.... You got this... Come on!!" The message was heard loud and clear as their focus, much like the first half, was squarely on the Ipswich goal. Gueye's run down the left wing ended with a cross to Snodgrass arriving at the back post and though his cleaver diving header was saved, the loose ball fell right at Matt's feet and he obliged by finishing it off with a left footed effort to send the travelling support wild. After the restart the pressure continued to be applied in unrelenting fashion to the nervous looking Ipswich back line, Gueye hitting the side netting with a shot from an accute angle while McCormack went one step further by firing home what would have been his hat-trick had it not been for the flag that was raised unflinchingly by the linesman. With just over 20 minutes left and with another midweek game on the horizon Redknapp hauled off both Howson and a tired looking Snodgrass, Vayrynen and Beccio coming on as McCormack took up position on the right wing. Almost straight away though another goal followed but this time it went the way of the home side. Fernandez returned a throw in to Cresswell's feet on the left hand side and his looping cross produced a header of the same nature from Murphy, McCarthy's fingertip's unable to keep it out as Ipswich got a life line. You'd be forgiven for thinking at this point that a nail biting barrage of pressure was to follow but almost straight from kick off the gap was restored. McCarthy's short free kick to Parker on the left saw him play the ball to Gueye and with time and space to turn he dinked in an inviting through ball. Matt got away from his man with ease and after bringing the ball under control with his left he dispatched a low shot from 18 yards out to complete his hat trick. Ipswich, though still trying, once more sat pinned in their own area as Leeds put wave after wave of pressure to them and once again they eventually buckled. Vayrynen controlled Parker's pass into his feet, turned and played a low ball forward to Matt who, after a cheeky flick, got away from Loovens and with the goal at his mercy once more he made no mistake in bagging his 4th goal of the game. Shortly after the full time whistle sounded with the travelling support sounding their approval of truly top class performance, the game in question was Matt's 150th for the Leeds and the goals saw fit to fire him into 2nd in the league's goal scoring charts while Jonny Howson also reached a landmark, his being for 200 league games for the club which, at 23, was massively impressive. ( )Ipswich Town 2 (Fernandez 4; Murphy 72) Leeds Utd 6 (Warner 10, 48, 74 & 88; McCormack 22, 35) MoM: Matt Warner (Leeds) Att: 16,571
  21. The win kept Leeds hot on West Ham's heels who managed to sneak past Nottm Forest at home while both Leicester and Reading, still having an outside chance at the title, both recorded 2-0 wins away from home. Closer to home though there was more good news as Kisnorbo and Gimpel returned to full training but as seemed to be the case bad news followed as White's injury was confirmed as a groin strain which all but ended his season. Following what was a tough three days period they were given the Wednesday off in order to keep the team as fresh as possible for the title deciding run in. Both Leeds and West Ham had difficult end's to the season but Leeds were seen to have the easier of the two with games away to Ipswich, Nottm Forest and Millwall along with one final home game against Hull. West Ham on the other hand would face away games to Crystal Palace and Reading while also having to contend with home fixtures against Leicester and Birmingham. After having a brief lay in Matt decided to go car hunting. Though he'd toyed with the idea of getting another GT-R, upon passing the local BMW dealership he was instantly drawn to the gleaming white M3 sat front and centre of the showroom. "Beautiful isn't it?" The salesman said as he approached. "It ain't half bad..." Matt said as he circled the car. "Well, how about we set you up on a test drive then maybe talk some numbers?" Matt nodded and soon enough they were out on the road and after getting used to it he gave the salesman a sly look, "Any objection to me.... Giving it the beans?" The salesman hesitated for a moment, in normal circumstances the answer would be an instant no, but being a well known profesional footballer had numerous advantages, this being one of them. As the suited man gave him a reluctant nod Matt in turn pressed his foot down, the V8 roaring into life, the rear wheels giving a slight squeak while they struggled to cope with the sudden increase in power... 60, 70, 80mph were all passed by the glowing needle as the noise began to build, the salesman starting to cling tighter and tighter to the binder he had brought with him. Soon though the salesman grip tightened further as Matt's phone rang, "Yo..." "Hello, is this Matt Warner?" The male voice with the thick, deep European accent asked. "Yeah.... Who's this?" "This is Jose Mourinho...." Matt paused for a moment, half of him willing to bet it was a joke while the other half wondered if it could actually be the manager of Real Madrid. "Errrmmmm.... Ok, what can i do for you?" He asked, foot holding steady. "Well, with your contract due to end in a few months i've informed the president that i would like to bring you to Madrid.... I believe you could be a very big success here." He said with a hint of arrogance. "Well.... I'm flattered.... My agent deals with all the contract stuff so put an offer down on paper and...." He was cut off quickly. "An offer was faxed to your agent just before i called so i imagine he'll be trying to call you now." Almost instantly the beep to signal a call waiting burst into his ear. "Look it over. We'll talk again soon." Mourinho said finally before putting the phone down. He put the phone down, three missed calls already showing up on the screen from his agent Rory as he pulled the car into dealerships forecourt. The salesman almost leaping out of the car as it came to a stop with a screech of the front tyres while Matt sat in an almost trance like state, still processing the call for a few moments before he snapped out of it. Getting out of the car he gave it one more look over before throwing the still shakey salesman the keys. "I'll take it."
  22. The chance that went begging was one Leeds had been praying for and with now just five games left to go in the season chances to pip West Ham to top spot were becoming slimmer and slimmer as each time they dropped points is seems Leeds were unable to capitalise. With the games now coming thick and fast there was little respite with Peterborough due to visit Elland Road on the Monday night and Redknapp now promising a host of changes to keep the squad fresh but also give others a chance to show they can get the job done as the pressure begins to build. The changes in question were in multiple area's. Alex McCarthy was given a chance in goal, Connolly returned to right back while White went in at left back. Howson returned to first team action with Clayton dropping out of the squad in order to be given a rest and McCormack returned to the starting line up for the match with a Peterborough side that were in the brink of relegation. npower Championship 09/04/2012 Leeds Utd vs Peterborough Utd Formation: 4-2-2-2 GK: Alex McCarthy RB: Paul Connolly LB: Aiden White CB: Craig Dawson CB: Matthew Kilgallon CM: Jonny Howson © CM: David Jones AMR: Robert Snodgrass AML: Magaye Gueye ST: Matt Warner ST: Ross McCormack SUBS: GK: Paul Rachubka RB: Stewart Parnaby LB: Ben Parker MC: Mika Vayrynen ST: Luciano Beccio Redknapp made it clear that he wanted a demolition job with Leeds being the most lethal attacking side in the league and that it was time to start exploiting the mistakes of West Ham, "This title will NOT be handed to us.... If we want it we have to take it and that starts with us winning today!" With the words still ringing in their ears Leeds got the game underway with possession spread evenly between both sides but the demands of their manager, the noise from the home support and the gulf in quality saw the first goal come early. McCormack ran onto a Snodgrass pass with the visiting defence backing off him all the way to the byline and when the did challenge, the cross attempt was deflected back to Snodgrass who set himself and shot at the near post to gift the home team the lead inside of 10 minutes. The pressure began to mount on the away side, the early goal breeding confidence in what was an unfamilar line up but as has been customary in recent weeks there was a lapse in concentration. Boyd whipped in a corner to the back post where Thompson beat Dawson in the air to apply a superb header which evaded both White on the post and the outstretched hand of McCarthy. Redknapp's reaction was on of brief dispair which desolved into a fit of rage in which the defence were warned to buck thier idea's up. Leeds continued to press, McCormack feeding Matt to break clear of the defence but the keeper was equal to his low side footed effort while minutes later there was a reverse as Matt got space to run down the left before cutting the ball back to McCormack but his shot was well wide of the mark. With time in the half running it Leeds began to apply heavy pressure, Gueye, McCormack and Jones all testing the keeper but as the whistle went the score remained level. "Why? Why the hell do we keep shooting ourselves in the foot with these stupid mistakes?! Craig you didn't even get off the f**kin ground....." Redknapp yelled as a water bottle flew across the room "I'm not going to tell you what to do, by now you should all know what you have to do and if you don't then i promise you, you'll be going in the summer, promotion or no promotion!" Peterborough got the second half underway but almost instantly Leeds took the ball. Kilgallon winning it in the air with a strong headed to Howson who turned and played it to Jones' feet. Jones, with time, layed a simple pass into Matt's feet and after a getting himself half a yard he hammered a shot goalwards on his more unfamilar left foot but the result what more than familar as it flew high into the net though there were more than one puzzled look aimed in the visiting keepers direction for failing to deal with an effort that looked to be a simple catch. The game restarted in much the same sort of fashion as Leeds began to tighten their grip on the game though with barely 10 minutes of the half gone a very tired looking Howson made way for Vayrynen. The change made little difference as Leeds continued to look the stronger side, McCormack's corner to Dawson at the back post saw his head back across goal beat the keeper but not the man on the post as it was cleared with Kilgallon baring down on him. As the half wore on though the fan's were starting to voice their frustration at not being up by more despite near constant pressure and Peterborough almost got level once more in almost a carbon copy of the first time, a Frecklington corner found Thompson rising highest though this time his effort grazed the top of the bar before heading out for a goal kick. Chances continued to go begging until Leeds finally granted the fans in attendance their wish. McCormack looked to have got free of Bennett but the visiting defenders tackle forced the ball back to Gueye who played the ball across the edge of the area to Matt who managed to shake a challenge, come away with the ball and shoot low past Hradecky to give the home side the two goal cushion they'd been looking for. With the score at 3-1 Redknapp took the chance to take off Snodgrass who had picked up a small knock in the first half, Beccio coming on with McCormack going onto the left wing. The goal was Matt's 20th league goal of the season and the whole atmosphere improved in an instant until the injury problems of old made a return. White, on his return to first team action, went down and the physio was left shaking his head meaning Parker would come on for the final 12 or so minutes of the game. The chances continued to come for the home side with both Beccio and McCormack getting chances to add to the scoreline while at the other end the Leeds defence mopped up whatever came their way and with injury time looming the game was sealed foe sure. McCormack knocked a ball left to Matt who held for a moment before completing the one-two, McCormack calmly sidefooting his effort into the back of the net to make for a miserable second half for the visitors. It proved to be the last notable action of the game, the home support giving them a rousing thank you for the performance. Redknapp was also keen to extend his thanks for a better second half display while Matt was congratulated on his man of the match performance which yielded two goals and an assist. ( )Leeds Utd 4 (Snodgrass 9; Warner 48, 73; McCormack 90) Peterborough Utd 1 (Thompson 25) MoM: Matt Warner (Leeds) Att: 23,753
  23. The win against Blackpool had only served to boost confidence in the dressing room with Redknapp announcing that the side would remain unchanged from that which started the last game while on the injury front Howson returned to full training while White was also close to full fitness and was included in the squad for the game at home to Derby. Kisnorbo was also closing in on a return to full training but it would still remain touch and go as to wheather he would feature again this season. "Matty, can i have a word?" Redknapp pulled him to one side as he was headed to the changing rooms. "Whats up gaffer?" "Ok.... Well with Paul suspended and Jonny and Paddy injured.... I'm making you captain today." With that Redknapp handed him the armband, Matt struggling to contain a smile that spread across his face. With the crowd jumping and the Sky Sports camera's in attendance Matt stood at the exit of the tunnel, taking a moment to shake hands with his opposite number before he led the team onto the pitch. In all the years he was at Leeds before rejoining he never managed to captain the team but as he stepped out he couldn't help but look to the sky, thoughts of his dad suddenly filling his mind before he snapped back to job at hand. With West Ham losing to Blackpool earlier on in the day it gave Leeds the chance to return to the top with a win but they would face a stern test from Derby. npower Championship 07/04/2012 Leeds Utd vs Derby County Formation: 4-2-2-2 GK: Paul Rachubka RB: Stewart Parnaby LB: Ben Parker CB: Craig Dawson CB: Matthew Kilgallon CM: Adam Clayton CM: David Jones AMR: Robert Snodgrass AML: Magaye Gueye ST: Matt Warner © ST: Luciano Beccio SUBS: GK: Andy Lonegran LB: Aiden White CB: Tom Lees MC: Mika Vayrynen ST: Ross McCormack The rain began to fall as the signal was given to start the game, both sides making good starts with some nice passing and moving but little in way of chances as both of the defences on show took centre stage. Derby deployed a five man midfield which was proving hard to break down while their one striker was always crowded out by the back four of Leeds. Though the game was an even affair Leeds were looking the more likely to open the scoring, Beccio in particular having a couple of chances but there was an unusual relectance from the home side to shoot when the chance did open up. Just past the half hour mark though the fear of shooting suddenly disappeared. A scramble in the Derby area saw Clayton nod a clearance to Jones on the edge of the area. Jones layed it back to Clayton who shot low and hard, his effort hit the post but Matt was quickest to the rebound and fired home into the near enough empty net before charging off to celebrate with the home fans, pointing first to the sky and then to the captains armband as his team mates congratulated him on what was his 20th goal of the season. With Leeds looking like they would perhaps start to tighten their grip on the occassion the familar problem of complacency reared it's ugly head. Coutts picked up the ball on the half way line before beating both Kilgallon and Parker, sliding the ball right to Sibibe who shot straight at Rachubka but as he palmed it away Daves responded quickest and finished the follow up to level the scores. Chances were few and not worthy of real mention so when half time did come Redknapp looked to lift a few dejected looking players, the dressing room unusually quiet until Matt stood. "Hey, get your heads up.... We ain't finished yet. This lot have gotten lucky but we can't go through this game afraid to f**kin shoot! If you get an opening just hit the bloody thing, with the pitch as slick as this anything along the deck it will make it tough for their keeper.... Come on boys, were better than this!!!" Redknapp sat back and let his captain take the talk for a few moments. He chimed in with a few minutes to go, pressing home the message that Matt had put forward that they need to shoot a bit more and be a bit more mean in front of goal. With the bell sounding they all jumped to their feet, Matt once more leading them out onto the floor lit pitch. Early on Leeds began to take control of the game, a succession of corners in the opening exhanges making for a nervy few minutes for the away side as they struggled to keep them at bay. The game started to even out around the hour mark, Brayford's looping header just inches away from beating Rachubka while at the other end Matt's run yielded a through ball for Snodgrass but his shot aimed at the far post curled well wide of the mark. Snodgrass came close once more a few moments later as Parker made his way to the byline before crossing for the man in question but his downward header was blocked by the feet of Fielding before being cleared. With roughly 20 minutes left to go Redknapp moved to the touch line with McCormack and Vayrynen in tow, Beccio and Clayton given the signal that their evenings work was at an end. Leeds continued to look the more likely to add to the scoring, Vayrynen's long ball over the top found Matt's run and with space he aimed a vicious shot goalwards but Fielding was once again equal to it. Despite the best efforts of both sides the form of Fielding and the resolve of the Leeds backline saw fit to keep the scores level, though disappointing for the home support it was another game without defeat but once more for Leeds it was another chance gone begging. ( )Leeds Utd 1 (Warner 33) Derby County 1 (Davies 41) MoM: Steven Davies (Derby) Att: 29,560
  24. "Like bloody busses, wait ages for one then two show up...." "Yeah but you ended the drought and your at least guranteed a place in the play-off's." Matt nodded to himself, the win against Blackpool meaning Leeds would finish 6th at the very least as Pancho was keen to point out. "So how goes things at Spurs?" "Not too bad... We still in the hunt for fourth but we need to win our game in hand." "Still if all else fails your in the semi final of the F.A. Cup and pretty much in the Europa League semi as well." "Anyway i better go Superman, Lex Luthor is having me over for dinner." "You been talking to Townsend?" Matt asked with a laugh. "Nah.... But he spoke to some of the other lads and it got to me.... Anyway i'll speak to you soon." "Later muppet." Matt put the phone down and turned his focus back to the TV as Sky Sports news highlighted the monthly award winners for March. Chris Hughton was given the award for manager after winning six of his seven games this month, Reading forward Darwin Quintero won player of the month while Josh McEachran picked up the gong for young player of the month. In the Premier League Man Utd held a seven point lead at the top over Chelsea who were a single point ahead of Liverpool who had a game in hand over both while holding a massive lead over 4th. Man City, Arsenal, Fulham, Everton and West Brom were seperated by five points in their chase for 4th place, Spurs sat a further three points behind but again with a game in hand. At the bottom of the table Swansea sat bottom with seventeen points, QPR just above with nineteen points but Newcastle were a full seven points clear of the both of them. Sunderland and Norwich were too far ahead but Bolton seemed all but safe, sitting a full nine points clear of the drop zone. In the scoring charts Bobby Zamora lead the way with 19 goals while Wayne Rooney and Peter Crouch were tied with 17 goals each, it also meant that Fabio Capello would have a few tough choices to make with all of the top three scorers being English. In the Championship the gap between West Ham and Leeds was only two points, Leicester sat a further six points behind with Reading right on their heels while Bristol City, Burnley, Birmingham and Brighton were all in contention for the last two play off places. In the scoring charts Darwin Quintero sat top by some margin with 28 goals, Craig Mackail-Smith held 2nd place with 23 goals and Jermaine Beckford wasn't far behind in 3rd with 21 goals as the season hit the home stretch with just six games remaining. npower Championship 01/04/2012 | Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts | | -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 1st | Pl | West Ham | | 40 | 25 | 10 | 5 | 83 | 42 | +41 | 85 | | -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 2nd | Pl | Leeds | | 40 | 24 | 11 | 5 | 92 | 38 | +54 | 83 | | -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 3rd | | Leicester | | 40 | 23 | 8 | 9 | 83 | 44 | +39 | 77 | | -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 4th | | Reading | | 40 | 23 | 7 | 10 | 82 | 47 | +35 | 76 | | -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 5th | | Bristol City | | 40 | 18 | 13 | 9 | 61 | 51 | +10 | 67 | | -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| | 6th | | Burnley | | 40 | 19 | 9 | 12 | 59 | 46 | +13 | 66 | | -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
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