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Matt_no_7

A Step Down?

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Authors Note:

Ok i've made a few changes which apply to the game i'll be writing this story around.

Alex McLeish didn't become Villa manager in my game instead Simon Grayson did. I did this purely to have a new start and to add a new manager from scratch but also someone who is an actual real person rather than someone i've plucked from my imagination in terms of management anyway (lets face it, why would Grayson get sacked during the summer?). Also enclosed in the match reports there will be links (found in brackets above the final score) to watch goals and certain incidents but all will be outlined in the match reports for the FMS traditionalists and to keep in line with the rules.

The game being used is FM12 with too many leagues to list but near enough all the major ones are playable (England, Spain, Germany, etc) with many others viewable. It will revolve more around a player than a manager as you'll discover through reading it but either way comments and suggestions are always welcome and most of all i hope you all enjoy it!

Also all the video's are available in 720p resolution, makes it easier to see the ball.

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I'll also be enclosing in the match reports links (found in brackets above the final score) to watch goals and certain incidents but all will be outlined in the match reports for the FMS traditionalists and to keep in line with the rules.

This. :thup: Always appreciative of someone who comes in and respects the rules for what they are. Good luck with this.

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Sunday 28 August 2011..... Old Trafford.

8pm, Sky Sports News.

".... And the main headline tonight, in the wake of Arsenal's 8-2 defeat to Manchester United, reports surface of an altercation in the Arsenal dressing room. We go live over to Geoff Shreeves who is still outside Old Trafford..... Geoff, any word or further details about what has gone on?"

The screen split to a picture in picture view for a moment before it was just a full screen picture with the Old Trafford logo shining brightly behind Geoff Shreeves.

"Very little has been said, neither side has made a formal statement but some unofficial sources have said that following their defeat, a altercation occurced involving Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and forward Matt Warner in the Arsenal dressing room but with no formal statement we cannot confirm as of yet but as soon as we know more you shall too."

2 hours earlier....

The deafening silence that had gone on for a good 10 minutes now was broken by sound of Arsene Wenger's footsteps as he entered the changing room. He took a few moments, looking around the room, trying to muster up something worth saying. Something that could snap them out of this state they were in.

The manager stood in the middle of the room, few lifted their heads as he began to speak, "It twas..." He was quickly cut off.

"...Bulls**t.... Thats what it was.... BUT what could we expect when you let three of our best players go and bring what... One in?!"

"Matt it is errr...."

Again, Matt cut him off quickly

"Oh come the f**k on man, just own it, for once just call it like it is! You've sat by and watched this team fall apart, thinking all we need is more 18 year olds with a bit of promise to see us through. You can't keep having faith that youth will win the day, we need experience! I look at this team and see three, maybe four players who can claim to have enough experience.... And i'm one of them.... The rest are kids barely into adult sized boots and you throw them to the slaughter like this?!"

He sat back down again with a thud, running a hand through his short black hair. He'd just suffered the worst defeat in his career and was looking for someone, anyone, to blame. He, like the other's, felt let down once again and so early in the season it had become clear that they once again would not be title contenders with only the Carling and F.A. Cup as realistic goals. Though it was never spoken the team was still rocking from their shock loss to Birmingham City in the previous season's Carling Cup final, a game in which again Wenger's short comings had been their downfall, namely in defence.

Wenger, again, tried to muster up some words.

"We can't fall apart no..."

"Fall apart?" Matt said, again rising to his feet, "That ship sailed after the 6th goal went in!"

There was silence again for a few moments before Wenger, turning, said it.

"Well maybe you should leave...." Those few words sealed it. Had it not been for the intervention of a few of his team mates Matt may have made it to Wenger and applied the punch he had lined up.

"Maybe i f**kin will, i'd rather play for a Sunday League team than play for you again you f**kin has been!!" He yelled before shrugging off his team mates, pushing past Wenger and out of the changing rooms.

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August 31st, Sky Sports News.....

"And we go live now to David Craig in Yorkshire with some breaking news, David...."

"Yes Jim. About two hours ago we were stood outside St. James' Park in Newcastle when we recieved word that Arsenal and England forward Matt Warner was to leave The Emirates. From what we heard, a host of clubs were interested including the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool following revalations of the post match bust up between Warner and Arsene Wenger after Arsenal's 8-2 defeat against Manchester United."

"So, what are you doing in Yorkshire David?" The noise of the gathered fan's behind the reporter getting louder and louder as he tried, in vain at times, to speak over them.

"Further to what we'd already heard, we then got wind that Warner was rushing to Yorkshire to complete a shock loan switch to his former club, Lee......" He paused as someone out of the camera's view spoke. "... Actually Jim we can confirm that Matt Warner HAS joined Leeds United on a season long loan deal but as of right now that is the only information were being given." The fan's that had gathered behind the reporter erupted like they'd won a cup.

"Ok thank you David. We'll be coming back to David as soon as more information becomes available, but surely that will be the transfer of this window and a massive coup for new Leeds manager Jamie Redknapp." He said turning towards the other presenter.

"Yes, the fact file reads like this." Matt's picture and various other stats flashed up on the screen as she read through them.

Name: Matt Warner

Age: 28

Position: Forward

Clubs:

Leeds Utd: 2000-2006 - 117 games; 62 goals

Arsenal: 2006-2011 - 159 games; 73 goals

England: 2006-present - 27 caps; 12 goals

A brief history

2000: Signs first professional contract with Leeds on his 17th birthday

2001: Makes first team debut against Southampton

2001: Scores first goal against Bradford in a 6-1 win for Leeds

2004: Relegated from the Premiership with Leeds

2006: Helps Leeds to a play off final where they lose to Watford 3-0

2006: Joins Arsenal in July '06 for a reported £7.1m

2006: Scores on his England debut against Andorra

2007: Again on the losing side in a final, this time against Chelsea in the Carling Cup

2010: Plays in England's dismal 2010 World Cup campaign

2011: In the side for Arsenal's shock 2-1 Carling Cup defeat to Birmingham

2011: Joins Leeds on a season long loan deal

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He sat there, camera's flashing, next to Jamie Redknapp as the first set of questions were thrown their way.

"Matt, first of all, what motivated you to re-join Leeds when other Premiership teams had made their interest known. Surely the risk is massive with Euro 2012 looming large, do you think you can keep your place in the England side while playing in the second tier?"

"Well.." He paused for a second, ".... In all honesty i was told i wouldn't be allowed to join another Premiership side by Arsene Wenger. I was offered to Werder Bremen as a make weight in the deal for Per Mertesaker but i have no desire to leave England. So when the chance to come home arose, i couldn't turn it down. After what happened Sunday i won't play for Wenger again so as far as i'm concerned i'll run down my contract and become a free agent next summer. As for England we'll have to wait and see really, i'm due to travel with the squad for the next round of qualifers so i'm sure i'll have a chat with Mr Capello about it."

Another reporter stood after being pointed out by the manager, "How big a coup do you see this as and will the deal become perminent Jamie?"

"Massive, the biggest transfer shock of the window in Europe i reckon. As for a perminent deal..... Who knows, clearly a player as talented as Matt will have plenty of options but if the end of the loan deal comes and if he wants to stay, maybe a deal could be done. He's out of contract next summer as he's said so i'm sure he won't be short on offers but if we get promoted and he's happy to stay then perhaps we can get a deal done?"

Another reporter raised his hand and began to speak, eye's briefly on the note pad in his lap.

"And Matt, is a perminent deal something you'd be interested in?"

Matt nodded, taking a sip from the water bottle that was sat infront of him, "Yes, i mean i've been a massive Leeds United fan since i was a kid so being here is a breath of fresh air and something i was in need of plus i've always seen myself as having unfinished business here so i'm just concentrating on helping Leeds get promotion and we'll see where we stand afterwards...."

Another reporter was given the chance to ask her question, "We also heard of a last gasp attempt by Leicester City to hijack this deal, did you speak to Sven and was it ever an option given it's where you were born and that your brother also plays for them?"

"Yeah we spoke, i also spoke to my brother Chris and my best mate James who's down there as well but as i said i've been a Leeds fan since i was a kid, i've got LUFC tattoo'd down my forearm, i only ever wanted to play for Leeds while growing up.... errrmmm in saying that though going back to Leicester was something i gave serious thought as i was born there, alot of my family and long time friends are there but i'm Leeds through and through so coming back here was always going to be my first choice and to work with a talented young manager like Jamie, who i've admired for a while, was a big bonus also."

"Ok one last question, errrrmmm yes you there..." Redknapp said, pointing to a blonde haired female in the front row.

"Would you return to Arsenal should Arsene Wenger leave as manager?"

"Thats not something i've thought about, as i said i'm back with Leeds, they want promotion and my sole aim and point of concentration must be on that goal and nothing else." He stood, along with his new manager after answering the last question.

The answer he gave was the one Matt knew many expected from him, though as he left to a flurry of camera flashes he couldn't help but wish he could answered the last question how he really wanted. Would he play for Arsene Wenger again? "No F**kin Way!" he thought to himself but a non Wenger Arsenal side, who knows......

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"And you were planning to tell me when?" She said, arms crossed and a face like thunder.

"Babe it's...." She cut him off quickly, snapping "Oh no, don't give me the whole 'babe this' and 'babe that'!"

"Look I'm sorry, everything happened so quickly.... Look you'll love Leeds alright. Rory is going to sort us a great flat while i'm away on England duty and....."

"I'm not going." She said as she interupted him.

".... Why?"

She lowered her gaze to the floor as she sighed,

"Because my life is here in London, i can't just drop everything on a whim.... Maybe i'd have made arrangements if you'd have discussed this with me.... Were supposed to be together but you made this choice without even mentioning it to me. I found out about this from the news Matt.... Do you have any idea how much that hurt me?"

"Kelly i don't want to leave without you....." Matt said, taking a step closer just as the tears began build in her eye's.

"Seems to me you already have.... We both know where this was starting to go Matt so maybe it was just meant to end like this..." She managed to get out as the tears began to flow freely, leaving Matt stood there surrounded by empty boxes, "F**k..."

He didn't want to admit it but they had been having problems of late, after nearly two years together things had become slightly stagnent in recent months and in his head surprising her with a move to Leeds for a fresh start was a good idea. They had their own places and independence though he'd senced lately she was looking for more or perhaps she was looking for a way out. Either way now it didn't seem to matter much.

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For the most part of the trip to Bulgaria Matt spent time alone, the events of the last week weighing heavy on his shoulders. Some gave him a wide berth, others offered him the chance to talk about it but though he was greatful he declined, as his mother always says "Your just like your dad when it comes to emotions, always bottling things up!" and she was right. He felt the split with Kelly lay entirely at his feet but no amount of calls, text messages or bouquets of flowers begging for forgiveness would fix this mess.

The manager was all to aware of the situation as pictures of Kelly packing her things into a van had made it into the papers and was now common knowledge amongst the gossip hounds that still found a place in the nations tabloids on a daily basis.

Capello's words was simple,

"I know it must aaaaah be tough...... but right now we need you..... top form! For Bulgaria and Wales ok?" Capello said in his broken English. He went on further about his move to Leeds but made it clear that if he performed for Leeds he would still get selected.

There wasn't much else to say, he was right about Matt needing be on top form and after the shambolic display in South Africa last summer the pressure was on everyone to get England to the European Championships and in style.

Saturday 2nd September, Vasil Levski.

The team talk was short as the last few days had been a constant drilling on who the danger men were and how they would deal with them. The plan was to get at them early, set the tempo and get them into the habit of chasing the ball around. All too often had England side's away in tough places been found wanting purely down to trying to force the play when plan A wasn't working. England however were favourites and despite the pressure put on Capello after the World Cup he had got them firing on all cylinders once more it seemed and in terms of form there were not too many teams who could claim to be better.

European Chamionship Qualifier, Group G

02/09/2011

Bulgaria vs England

Formation: 4-4-2

GK: Joe Hart

RB: Glen Johnson

LB: Ashley Cole

CB: Rio Ferdinand

CB: John Terry ©

MR: Aaron Lennon

ML: Stewart Downing

MC: Frank Lampard

MC: Tom Huddlestone

ST: Matt Warner

ST: Wayne Rooney

Subs:

GK: Robert Green

RB: Micah Richards

LB: Leighton Baines

LM: Ashley Young

ST: Darren Bent

DC: Phil Jagielka

MC: Gareth Barry

The night air was cool, a refreshing sort of atmosphere as proceedings kicked off in Sofia. England had the majority of the early possession without really threatening. Terry got on the end of Downing's free kick from the left but the England captains header was never going to threaten the Bulgarian goal. England settled in very quickly, moving the ball around well in slick passing moves though struggling to really get at the back of the host's defence. That was until Rooney played a nice one-two with Huddlestone down the right, Rooney found himself in acre's of space but his effort was nudged away by the legs of Iliev with the ball falling squarely at Matt's feet on the edge of the 6 yard box for him to tap in what would be one of the easier goals of his career.

The opener served to settle England more, the slick passing and movement continued while the defence mopped up everything thrown their way without much trouble. With the confidence afforded from an early opener, England continued to press the visitors and soon found themselves 2-0 up. Matt picked up the ball with his back to goal and played it left to Cole, the left back found Downings run down the wing before crossing right onto the head of Matt who applied a placed header to finish off the move he started. Those in the dugout lept from their seats with even the normally cool Fabio Capello allowing himself a moment of celebration.

The rest of the half played out in much the same fashion though Bulgaria did manage to fashion some chances for themselves, Bojinov proving to be the main thorn in England's side though Hart was never really pushed to his limits. As the half drew to a close England cae close to making it 3-0. First a Huddlestone cross, following an initial poor corner, found Ferdinand who's looping effort across goal was cleared off the line and after another flurry of set pieces it was another Huddlestone corner which this time Downing got to first but his tame effort hit the outside of the near post.

Capello urged calm from his players and for them to brace themselves for a different Bulgaria side as they all knew they'd be getting a stern talking to from their coaching staff during the break following what was a poor first 45 minutes from the home side.

And so it was that a more threatening looking Bulgaria side emerged from the half and began to test the England back line a little more. A Martin Petrov free kick found Popov pretty much unmarked with the goal at his mercy before Johnson intervened to clear into touch. The home side had begun to showcase the threats that England had been warned about in the day leading upto the game, the whole affair now becoming far more even. Bojinov was continuing to trouble Terry and Ferdinand but it wasn't all one way. At the other end Matt almost found himself in a position to take the match ball home but after a smart turn he couldn't find a way past Iliev in the Bulgarian goal. It wasn't too long before Bulgaria got their goal though.

A Martin Petrov corner found Ivanov at the back post and his looping header back across goal found it's way into the net as Rooney tried in vain to stop it, nudging the ball into the roof of the net to set up a nervy final 20 minutes for the away side. At set piece's Ivanov became to go to guy, threatening again and again whenever Bulgaria earned a set piece within any sort of distance to cross. England weren't parking the bus however as they had threats from set pieces too, Downing's corner from the right dropped right onto Terry's head at the 6 yard box but the captains effort lacked control as it skimmed the cross bar and out of play.

Bulgaria pressed but with each minute that went by desperation set in further and before too long it decended into a long ball game which Terry, Ferdinand and a quick footed Joe Hart controlled with ease. The full time whistle went, player exhanged hand shakes and shirts while the travelling support sang on into the night...

(

)

Bulgaria 1 (Rooney o.g. 69)

England 2 (Warner 16, 26)

MoM: Matt Warner (England)

Att: 43,340

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The team stepped into the terminal to a flurry of camera flashes and questions from the waiting media but after fighting through the crowd they were on the coach and before too long they were back at the hotel and the chance to relax was more than welcome. He felt sore, the Bulgarian defenders placing more than a few no nonsence tackles on him over the course of the night and though he'd become used to that sort of treatment, the after effect never changed. Thankfully it was nothing a nice long bath couldn't cure.

The next few days passed quickly without much happening out of the ordinary. Tapes were reviewed, systems worked on and preperations made for the game with a Wales side that had began growing in stature under the guidence of Gary Speed. The main threats were easy to pick out, Bale and Ramsey, but they were by no means their only threats which the Welsh possessed. In Wayne Hennessey they had a very promising goalkeeper and in Andy King a midfielder who could produce magic infront of goal as he'd proven at Leicester for the past couple of seasons.

The morning of the game arrived with Capello announcing that there would be just one change to the side that started in Sofia at the weekend with Gareth Barry coming in to replace Tom Huddlestone in the centre of the midfield. Breakfast as usual brought plenty of banter, this time the focus being on the age old argument of Fifa vs Pro Evo as Matt entered the breakfast hall and almost like a scene out of a movie the entire room went quiet.

"..... What?" He asked giving them a look that conveyed his confusion.

Situations like this were normally a bad thing and soon enough it became clear as to why the focus had suddenly fell on him. It was Aaron Lennon who was brave enough to stand and approach him with the mornings Daily Mirror complete with pictures of Aaron Ramsey and his ex Kelly huddled closely together in a London nightclub a few nights earlier, kissing and then leaving together....

"Ooooooh..... you moth-er-f***er!!!!" he yelled as the paper was torn in half.

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Stepping off the coach at Wembley the questions were all aimed at Matt as he hurried towards the changing rooms. Though on the outside he seemed calm and collected, inside he was fuming. He'd on more than one occassion caught him eyeing her up though on each occassion he just put it down to the fact that she was a gorgeous young woman who made most guys envious of him and lustful of her. His mind raced through scenario after scenario, each time bringing a new question.

Had they been seeing each other behind his back?

How long had it been going on for?

What would he to him say when they came face to face?

Over and over again the images and thoughts raced through his mind, torturing himself as he tended to do in when things of this nature occured in his life. He'd managed to convince Capello that he was in the right frame of mind to play today despite the circumstances and one opposition player in particular.

Before he knew it though kick off time had approached, his imagination giving him no respite as they found their way into the tunnel. Soon enough they were joined by the Welsh team with Ramsey the first to come into view, his gaze falling anywhere but close to Matt. The line up was even more tense. Where Terry and Bridge had skipped handshakes before they met in similar circumstances Matt and Ramsey paused for a moment before Matt spoke in a low but clear tone,

"Keep f**king walking!"

European Championship Qualifier, Group G

06/09/2011

England vs Wales

Formation: 4-4-2

GK: Joe Hart

RB: Glen Johnson

LB: Ashley Cole

CB: Rio Ferdinand

CB: John Terry ©

MR: Aaron Lennon

ML: Stewart Downing

MC: Frank Lampard

MC: Gareth Barry

ST: Matt Warner

ST: Wayne Rooney

Subs:

GK: Robert Green

RB: Micah Richards

LB: Leighton Baines

LM: Ashley Young

ST: Darren Bent

CB: Phil Jagielka

MC: Tom Huddlestone

The game kicked off to a loud cheer from the massive home support. Matt's eye's, for the first few moments at least were firmly on Ramsey, his will power the only thing keeping him from a wild challenge whenever his nemisis was on the ball. Much was starting to be made about the potential of the young Welshmen clad all in red with some sencing a possible upset on the cards and their outlook was given more backing by the start as England made, rife with misplaced passes, poor decisions and the bad sort of arrogance in their play. And it was same arrogance that lead to the first goal.

A cheeky flick from Lennon ended up going out of play, the throw in was taken quickly to Oster who drove inside from the left and picked out Vaughan's run and though Cole managed to pull off a good tackle in getting back, the resulting loose ball fell at the feet of the last man Matt wanted and he gladly side footed past a stranded Joe Hart to give the underdogs an early lead. The rest of the half was much the same, the men in white seemingly not learning from their mistakes despite the very vocal protests from the sidelines from both Stuart Pearce and Fabio Capello.

Half time came and went with threats of changes in personel if a change in the score wasn't swift in coming. While England did begin to look better in the second half they still didn't look like scoring with the game bogged down in the middle of the field and it wasn't until the last 15 minutes that England finally clicked into gear. Firstly Rooney found the back of the net but was judged offside, much to the annoyance of the home support. However the second time round there was no flag to rescue Wales. A driving run down the right from Lennon ended in a clever pass to Rooney which looked to have caught everyone flat footed and with the extra space he fired home at the near post. The home supports celebrations seemed more of relief than joy. England, now with their tales up, started to press and hold a sustained run of pressure for the first time in the game.

Darren Bent, on for Matt in the 68th minute, missed two good chances as time grew thinner and thinner and it took until a minute into added on time to bag what would eventually become the winner. John Terry rose highest to superbly head home the winner from a Huddlestone corner and virtually seal qualification to the European Championships provided they just avoid defeat in their final game. At the full time whistle it was more of the same feeling of relief around the stadium and that showed just as much on the players faces as the fans. Wales it seemed could become a force to be reckoned with but in the end it was a case of better late than never for England.....

(

)

England 2 (Rooney 80; Terry 90+1)

Wales 1 (Ramsey 16)

MoM: John Terry (England)

Att: 90,000

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This has been an excellent start, Matt. Keep it going. :thup:

Thanks. There is alot more to come so stay tuned!

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As they saying goes, there's no rest for the wicked and following the conclusion of the international break Matt was off upto Leeds for his first day of training back with the Elland Road outfit at their Thorpe Arch training facility and the place hadn't changed much. It was still a Premiership class facility, worthy of any team in world. He recognised a few faces but most of that came from seeing them on the TV rather than actually meeting them as sadly for Matt he'd spent the previous January injured and missed both meetings between Arsenal and Leeds in the F.A. Cup. The only players he knew from his first stint at Leeds were Andrew Keogh, Danny Pugh, Ben Parker and Jonny Howson, with the latter now captain but still just a nipper when Matt first made his name at the club. Howson was appointed by Simon Grayson before he departed for Aston Villa and it seemed Redknapp felt no reason to change that upon his arrival from Chelsea where he'd been doing coaching a couple of times a week in addition to his work as a pundit for Sky Sports and on the show "A league of their own."

Redknapp was first in a long line of new faces that Matt now found himself around but on the otherside of the coin Matt was one of a small number of new faces at the club as a whole. Andy Keogh had returned on a 6-month loan deal, as had Danny Pugh. The other 4 were that of two more loanee's in the form of Darren O'Dea from Celtic, one of the last of the new faces brought in before Grayson left. The other was brought in by Redknapp, Chelsea youngster Milan Lalkovic joined a season long loan deal. The last two were the only perminent signings that had come in for Redkanpp was that of Uruguayan right back Bruno Silva for £200k and young winger Jason Banton who joined on a free after impressing on a week long trial.

Redknapp himself had been given a glittering report from some sources at Chelsea with whom Ken Bates still had contact with and feeling the need for the injection of a young manager who could build a side that could return the glory days to Leeds on a long term basis, Redknapp was brought in on a 2-year deal. No doubt there was risk, he was largely inexperienced but as Bates said at the time "If i didn't think he was good enough i wouldn't have bloody put him in charge now would i!?!" He always did have a way with words when talking to the press.

And in typical fashion those who had said that Redknapp wasn't ready for a job of this size had been silenced for the time being as, after the first 5 games of the season, Leeds had picked up 3 wins (Away to Crystal Palace 2-0, at home to Coventry 2-0 and away to Reading 3-0), a draw (away to Leicester 1-1) and just one defeat (Home to Bristol Rovers 1-2) which had them sitting in 4th come the international break. In the Carling Cup they had swept aside both Rotherham and Morecambe with ease to set up a home tie with last season's Championship winners and now Premiership side Norwich City.

Despite signing for Leeds just over a week ago he was just now being introduced to the team during training, with those who hadn't met him before seemingly happy upon his arrival to the club though a couple of the strikers would be to looking over their shoulders for two reasons. One, Matt was an England international, he's played Champions League football and played in the last World Cup. The second reason was that Matt was confident playing BEHIND the striker or strikers. It was one reason why it had been a case for the last 4-5 years at international level that it was either Warner or Rooney rather than both of them at the same time as they both had a penchant for dropping off the centre back to work between the lines. Many liken it to the old "Gerrard or Lampard" debate that still tends to rear it's head from time to time. Though after the 2010 World Cup shambles Capello seemed determind to make a partnership of them.

Here at Leeds though it seemed that he'd be deployed in the hole behind the main frontman. Matt was equally gifted at playing on the back of the last defender where his devastaing pace and dribbling alone could rip a backline to shreads. The only thing that seemed to let him down as a typical frontman was his heading ability. At 6ft tall height wasn't a draw back but he'd made a fair few blooper reels for missing sitters from balls in the air. He'll score the odd one but even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Following training the team attended a meeting where Redknapp outlined his plan for the weekends game at home to Barnsley. The formation would be a 4-2-3-1 with wingers either side of an attacking midfielder who would operate in the free role behind the front man. Though he'd never openly admit it Matt was slightly nervous at the prospect of his second debut. The first time round his digestive pyrotechnics in the changing room was cause for many a playful jibe over the months that followed but now there was real expectation that he was the one to send them up. He was, on paper at least, the best player in the Championship with many expecting him to turn in a record breaking season so despite the step down the pressure was just as intense.

Unlike his first debut though, the game against Barnsley would be live on Sky Sports.......

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"Ok boys, listen up..... We know the plan, you know what to do and how to do it. If we control the ball we control the game, simple as. Now get out there and put on a show for those Sky Sports cameras!"

The crowd noise was building as they stood in the tunnel waiting for the signal to run out onto the pitch. Matt stood at the back of the line, eye's closed just embracing the sound of the crowd as they sang through what must have been their 5th rendition of "Marching On Together". Soon enough though they were given the nod by the ref and headed out. The noise doubled, everyone on their feet as the voice over the tanoy began to run through the starting line ups.

"Number 17, Matt Warner!" The voice read out to a rapturous cheer from the massive home support all the players enjoyed week in week out.

He just gazed around a sun soaked and packed to the rafters Elland Road, a banner reading "Welcome Home Matt!" caught his eye and brought an instant smile to his face.

"There's no place like home." Matt muttered to himself as he waved in the direction of the banner.

npower Championship

10/09/2011

Leeds Utd vs Barnsley

Formation: 4-2-3-1

GK: Paul Rachubka

RB: Bruno Silva

LB: Danny Pugh

CB: Tom Lees

CB: Patrick Kisnorbo

MC: Jonny Howson ©

MC: Adam Clayton

AMR: Robert Snodgrass

AML: Ross McCormack

AMC: Matt Warner

ST: Andrew Keogh

SUBS:

GK: Andy Lonegran

RB: Paul Connelly

LB: Aiden White

MC: Mika Vayrynen

AMC: Ramon Nunez

There was no question where the focus of this game was going to fall be it a good result or a bad one and as things started it seemed like the fairy tale 2nd debut wasn't going to go according to plan as Barnsley took control of the game early on. There first real chance came following a McCormack challenge on the edge of the box which earned him a yellow card and Barnsley a free kick in dangerous territory though Wiseman's effort was thankfully just too high. It took Leeds a good 10 minutes to fashion their first chance of the game when, following an Edwards clearance, Silva won the ball in the air. Snodgrass collected and turned inside, beating Butterfield in the process before playing a sublime defence cutting pass through for Matt who managed to keep himself onside before jinxing past the on rushing keeper and tapping home into the empty net.

The celebrations were as intence as Matt had ever seen at the Revie end of the stadium and he basked for as long as possible in it before the stewards ushed him away. The old familar song of "There's only one Matty Warner!" began to ring out around the ground and though Matt got his game face on, deep down he instantly felt that familar chill that always used to run down his spine after scoring at Elland Road. Straight from the restart Leeds found themselves once more marching up the pitch and winning a corner following a block on Snodgrass' cross. The resulting corner lacked the quality to really challenge the Barnsley back line but as Matt was first to the cleared ball and layed a pass back inside to Clayton who in turn played a simple pass to Howson.

Matt though hadn't stopped running and after getting the ball back from Howson he skipped around the referee and his marker before finding the space to unleash effort which would be in a few highlight reels for a long time to come, the ball curling into the top corner to once again send the home support wild. Matt was once more over the advertising boards and into the crowd, much to the annoyance of the stewards on duty. After what had been a brilliant start for the away side it was easy to see their disappointment at being 2-0 down with only 12 minutes gone but to their credit they still continued to plug away and they almost found just reward for their early efforts as Addison's ball over the top caught Kisnorbo out but luckily for him Lees got back and made a superb last ditch challenge.

Barnsley had once more began to tighten their grip on the game but in almost identical fashion Leeds sprang free on the counter attack. McCormack picked up Pugh's clearance and turned inside before laying up the perfect pass forward for Keogh who beat his man for pace and slotted home at the near post in style to put the game all but beyond the visitors with less than half an hour of the game gone. The home support were in full voice, a nearly 30,000 strong rendition of 'Marching on Together' sounded around the ground, giving might a slight chill of excitement down his spine. Though Barnsley continued to have the better of the possession it was Leeds who were creating the better chances.

Half time came around with Redknapp full of praise. "I can't really fault any of you right now but we need to control the ball more! They are having too much of it so i want you to get at them a bit more, start moving the ball around, make them chase it for a change and Matty.... Go get me a hat trick!"

The second half started slowly this time around, a full 7 minutes went before the first chance of the half reared it's head in the form of a Howson effort from distance which beat Steele before zipping barely inches wide of the mark. The game took a more sinister turn moments later as Silva picked up the ball only to recieve a set of studs down the back of his leg from McEveley which angered more than a few on the pitch and sidelines. Connolly was called in to replace him while the culprit receieved a yellow card for his trouble.

The action was few and far between but what action was created was all coming from Leeds. As requested they began to dicatate the pace of the game and grind down the visitors while Snodgrass and Clayton both forced top drawer saves from Steele in the Barnsley goal. With 15 minutes left Matt's pursuit of a hat trick was halted by Redkanpp, Nunez waiting patiently as Matt trotted off to a standing ovation from the home support before being given more than one pat on the back on his journey to an empty seat on the bench.

Leeds continued to press through the final minutes of the game, McCormack's run towards the byline went unchecked before a slight deflection on the cross dropped the ball at Keogh's feet, though the Irish international could only find the side netting. The last real chance of the game fell the way of Barnsley as O'Brien gave Connolly the slip before firing off a curling effort towards goal but Rachubka saved well to keep the score at 3-0 and round off a top class performance all round from the home side.

(

)

Leeds Utd 3 (Warner 10, 12; Keogh 26)

Barnsley 0

MoM: Matt Warner (Leeds)

Att: 29,223

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As with any Sky Sports game the post match interviews would always focus on the better performers so it wasn't a surprise when Matt and Andy Keogh were summonded to speak to them.

"Matt, details of your personal life have been well documented over the last couple of weeks, how has that affected you settling in and how good did it feel to score on your return?"

"I've been settling in just fine, the place hasn't changed much which helps and i know a couple of lads from my previous time here in Danny, Ben, Jonny and Andy here. Try as i might to stop it though there will always be talk about what goes on in my life outside of football so i try to just do what i do best and thats play football..... As for the goals, well it's always amazing to play here but scoring is something else.... There's not many things that can top the feeling and reaction you get from scoring at the Revie end of Elland Road."

The camera's focus next fell on Andrew Keogh, "Andy, another good performance from you today. How have you found it settling back in here?"

"Well it's just like Matt said it's not changed much around here... I always felt i had unfinished business here as i never really got the chance to make a mark the first time around so to be back here and in the goals is great."

"And can Leeds get promoted this season and finally return to the promised land as it were?" The mic was offered again in Keogh's direction.

"I don't see why not, we've made a good start to the season and the gaffer has us in the right frame of mind, playing good football.... If we continue like we have been then we'll be up there when it matters most."

"And Matt, your thoughts on promotion?"

Taking a drink from the water bottle before answering, "Errrmmmm.... Dito?" They all laughed for a moment.

"Nah you know... I think were rightly pegged as promotion contenders, Jamie had the boys playing some sublime stuff even before i came along so all i can do is muck in with the rest of the lads and if we keep on going like we are now we may just find ourselves going up."

"And lastly Matt you have been named as Man of the Match so congratulations, Andy if you'll do the honours."

With that Keogh shook Matt's hand and gave him the bottle of Champagne.

The result reflected the performance for the most part and while it wasn't an all dominating display from start to last they did what they had to with minimal fuss. Plus it never hurts to find yourself three goals to the good before the half hour mark. All the talk, all the hype surrounding Matt's return hadn't brought a stale encounter that occassions such as this seemed to produce. The first goal was all about the pass from Snodgrass but the second was easily a goal of the season contender. He's never been known to have the magic touch from distance but his second goal had suprised even him and was made all the more sweet by the fact it had been at the Revie end of the ground where he'd celebrated many a goal over the years.

The win saw Leeds rise a place to 3rd in the table, albeit still 5 points behind a rampant West Ham side that had won all of their 6 league games so far this season but as always there was a draw back. During the game Bruno Silva limped off with what was later revealed to be a damaged achilles tendon which would rule him out until perhaps the new year leaving Redknapp back to square one in terms of his right back dilemma which he'd sought to end with Silva's signing. Tom Lees was able to play there but up until now he'd been immence in the centre of defence with Kisnorbo. So immence was their pairing that Leeds held the 2nd best defensive record in the league with only 2nd placed Bristol City able to boast a better record. Also between the sticks Paul Rachubka had been a man on fire. A pre-season injury to what seemed to be the favourite for the starting berth in goal, Andy Lonegran, meant Rachubka got his chance and so far he hasn't looked back and along the way has made some stunning saves when the defence has had a gap exploited.

Thankfully though for both Matt and Leeds, they now had a 10 day gap between the Barnsley game and their next encounter against Norwich City in the Carling Cup 3rd round.

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For Matt the 10 day break gave him the chance to catch his breath. The last couple of weeks had flown by in a blur of both joy and pain in his private and professional life but a visit from his parents and his nephew Kaiden, who was his brother Chris' son, served to cheer him up a little.

"So how are you settling in back here then? I really wish you'd have joined Leicester, you and your brother would have them top by now." His dad said, admiring the panoramic views that Matt's high rise flat offered. Despite Chris bagging 6 goals from midfield already this season and Leicester being the highest spending team in the Championship they found themselves 12 points off the top of the table in 9th place.

"Nah, it was always you and Chris who loved Leicester, blame Uncle Ian for making me a Leeds fan."

It was back in 1992 that he fell in love with the club. At that time Matt's youngest brother Allen had been suffering with illness and at the suggestion of his Uncle Ian, Matt and Chris went to stay with him for a couple of weeks at his home in Leeds. While his brother Chris stayed at home with their Auntie Janis, Matt went with his Uncle for a short trip to Sheffield to watch Wednesday take on Leeds. The display they put on had him hooked in an instant as they destroyed their Yorkshire rivals by 6-1 and in the same season went onto win the title. The years that followed weren't as fruitful, a 3-0 League Cup defeat to Aston Villa still stung while the fall from the top table of English football was well documented.

"And it would be nice to have you closer to home, first your in London and 100 miles away and then your back at Leeds 100 miles away. If i didn't know any better i'd say your were trying to avoid us." His mother chimed in with a cheeky smile as she unpacked boxes of his things.

"Well you do nag alot so keeping my distance saves my ears and stop unpacking stuff, sit down, relax." He said as his 8 month old nephew let out a squeal of excitement while Matt bounced him up and down.

"And what about you and Kelly, she was such a nice girl.... Your a fool for letting her go."

Matt rolled his eye's and sighed a sigh of frustration, "Yes, i could have approached the whole move thing a different way.... BUT.... Then she goes off and shags one of my former team mates, someone i called a friend. As far as i'm concerned i'm better off without her and as for him, he'll get his..."

His dad sighed slightly, shifting in his wheelchair, "You know what they say about revenge...."

Matt nodded "I do.... It's a dish best served cold. Don't worry, that little pr**k will all he can eat!"

"WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE AROUND THE BABY!" His mother screamed.

The baby just squealed once more and smiled at Matt, "I'm gonna assume that means he sides with me....." he said as he shot a sly smile in his mothers direction.....

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"All settled in Matty?" Jamie asked as they got out of their Audi Q7 and Nissan GT-R respectfully.

"Pretty much gaffer, just a few bits and bobs here and there to sort out. I still know the place pretty well so it's not going to be that much of an adjustment having lived here for near enough 10 years."

"Good good, i'm still adjusting myself but the kids have settled well. Just me and Louise trying to catch up with them really."

Matt nodded, "Well if ya ever wanting to know where something is gimme a shout or ask Jonny, he knows this city like the back of his hand."

Matt and Redknapp's chat on the way into the training ground was interupted by the attractive young secretary at the entrance.

"Errrmmmm Mr. Redknapp, Mr. Parnaby is here."

He nodded, "Thanks Rachel."

"Parnaby.... As in Stuart Parnaby?"

Redknapp nodded once more as they walked towards his office, "With Bruno out until maybe the new year we needed some back up at right back. Truth be told i've been chasing him all summer and Mr. Bates finally buckled and sorted out a contract so he'll add alot more competition for that spot. Anyway, he'll get the full intro at training so i'll see you on the training pitch."

The right back situation was one that had been made light of over the course of the summer but Bruno's injury put them back at square one and the look on his face at finally getting his man said it all really. In training he did look a bit ring rusty it had to be said but that was more than understandable due to the 13 or so games he'd played in the last 2 years at Birmingham and the fact that he'd been training alone during the summer. They'd met once or twice before on the pitch, he was actually on the bench for the Carling Cup final defeat Arsenal suffered at the hands of Birmingham so he at least had one more winners medal than Matt did and was also part of the Middlesborough side that lost out in what was then the Uefa Cup final to Sevilla.

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While Parnaby would only make the bench, he would be in welcome company as Luciano Beccio also made it onto the subs bench with him after a long injury lay up. Though now it may take an injury to Keogh for him to find a way back into the starting line up at this point such has been the form of the Wolves loanee.

The buzz around Leeds was strong, the prospect of facing Premier League opposition always a welcome distraction from the years of lower league football. There was no doubting that everything around the club, from the facilities to the fan support, was deserving of Premier League football again but sadly those two attributes don't guarantee you a place at English football's top table so for now they would have to make do with the Carling Cup.

Carling Cup 3rd Round

21/09/2011

Leeds Utd vs Norwich City

Formation: 4-2-3-1

GK: Paul Rachubka

RB: Paul Connelly

LB: Danny Pugh

CB: Tom Lees

CB: Patrick Kisnorbo

CM: Jonny Howson ©

CM: Adam Clayton

AMR: Robert Snodgrass

AML: Ross McCormack

AMC: Matt Warner

ST: Andrew Keogh

SUBS:

GK: Andy Lonegran

RB: Stuart Parnaby

LB: Aiden White

CM: Zac Thompson

AMR: Llyod Sam

AMC: Ramon Nunez

ST: Luciano Beccio

The rain was trickling down at the players got set for kick off, the weather not detering the fans from turning out in their droves to see the home side take on Premier League opposition and in the early going they were almost rewarded, McCormack's free kick from the left floated in and Kisnorbo managed to find space and meet it with a header, but while it beat Ruddy it also beat the post aswell, his effort flashing barely an inch wide. With both sides still feeling each other out somewhat the deadlock was broken via a mistake from Holt, his pass inside from the right intercepted by Clayton before his looped a ball down the left for Keogh. The on loan striker moved down the left, cut inside and with the Norwich defence all at sea he played a simple ball across to Matt who, after a poor first touch, managed to catch the ball and apply the finish and continue his impressive start to his loan spell.

With the exception of the goal though chances in the opening half hour were few and far between but those that were created all came the way of Leeds, the away side struggling for confidence after a poor start to their season in the top flight. Snodgrass, Keogh and McCormack all had chances to double the advantage against a mistake laiden Norwich side, the latter's chance coming as a result of another mistake with Keogh seized on before playing in McCormack who beat the offside trap though as he got into the area he stalled on his effort giving Naughton the chance to get back in and block the effort, the deflection finding only the side netting.

By this point Norwich had began to carve out the odd chance though none really threatened to equal the scored, Bennett getting a free kick in a dangerous area but the effort was never in any danger of finding the back of the net and on the brink of hal time Bennett once again was gifted a chance, Holt this time playing a ball down the middle but his effort was aimed straight at the on rushing Rachubka who saved, the ball being cleared up field as the whistle for half time blew. Redknapp warned against complacency, citing that Norwich wouldn't always be as poor so concentration for another 45 minutes would be paramount.

In the second half Norwich continued to improve but still found themselves struggling against the rampant counter attacking play by the likes of Snodgrass, Matt, McCormack and Keogh. Leeds came close once more to double the score, Matt playing a ball through to Snodgrass to shoot from the angle, Ruddy getting a slight hand to it sending the ball across the face of goal, McCormack managing to get to it first at the back post but his sliding effort once more only found the side netting. The rain had stopped falling, leaving just a star filled sky but the improvement in the conditions failed to improve the finishing as once more a good passing move saw Clayton lay in the ball to McCormack who worked some space before shooting low, Ruddy again claw it around the post.

As the game wore on Leeds continued to create and dominate the overall play, Snodgrass beating 2 men to play in Keogh, his shot though straight at Ruddy before being cleared. As the game wore on though it became a tamer and tamer affair, neither side managing to threaten the other's goal for a consitant period and with 10 minutes left Redknapp rolled all the dice available to him with Matt, McCormack and Keogh all departing to standing ovations to be replaced by Nunez, Sam and Beccio. Though the changes promised more energy in attack they failed to deliver anything on the score board, both sides going through the motions somewhat before eventually time was called, sealing Leeds progression to the next round of the competition and a giant killing or sorts for those fond of cup romance.

(

)

Leeds United 1 (Warner 9)

Norwich City 0

MoM: Matt Warner (Leeds)

Att: 24,653

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The rest of the week went by with Matt starting to feel right at home again, the team was on a high and he'd found himself thinking of Kelly less and less as the days went by though just when he thought he was taking the first steps on the road to moving on a phone call one rainy Friday afternoon after training changed that....

"Look Matt i just wanted to say sorry.... I didn't want you to find out the way you did and it all happened so quickly...." When he saw the number he knew it would a mistake to answer and it would only serve to wind him up but he couldn't really resist.

"Quickly?! I reckon you set a record with how fast you managed to move out, get over me and jump on the next mug you could find in north London.... Or were you just shagging him behind my back while waiting for a half decent excuse to leave!?"

"Please don't be like this Matt, i've said i'm sorry and really i am, i was never...."

"It's taken you nearly two weeks to say sorry, when i made my mistake it took me two minutes..... And don't even start with the whole 'I've said i'm sorry, what more do you want' crap. I said sorry that day but you didn't want to hear it and now your expecting me to eat up your s**t excuse for an apology like a good little boy..... Well f**k you, it ain't happening!"

"Matt..." Was all she managed to get out before he cut her off again,

"Do me and you a favour, lose my number and don't ever contact me again...... Oh and tell that little pr**k that when i see him again he's getting f**kin his jaw broke!!"

The iPhone hit the wall with a thud before the broken pieces mimicked the rain outside as they sprinkled onto the floor.

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Before the game with Brighton started the manager allowed the team to watch the draw for the 4th round of the Carling Cup. There was a hush as one by one the teams were drawn,

"Number 4...... Everton. Another home tie for them...... And they will play number 3..... Burton Albion who knocked out Swansea City in the last round."

There were still some big teams left in the draw and all too often, even before the balls had been dropped in the pot, you knew who you were going to get.

"Number 7..... Leeds United, like Everton before will get another home tie after beating Norwich..... Will host number 9...... Manchester United."

There were a fair few in the crowded hotel room to punch the air before the manager moved to the front of the crowd and turned the TV off.

"Ok so now we know, heads back on today's game alright? Off you go lads and get yourselves ready."

Before they'd left the hotel they knew once again the line-up was to be left unchanged from that which had started and won the last 2 games. The team talk was also again a simple one with Redknapp now turning to what was quickly becoming the team's new motto, "Control the ball, control the game." Redknapp's idea was a simple one to request but a hard one to attain, domination of possession. Barcelona type football where you forced the other team to constantly chase you, where pin-point passing and quick but simple movement ensured you always had an outlet.

Simple to request, hard to attain...

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npower Championship

24/09/2011

Brighton and Hove Albion vs Leeds United

Formation: 4-2-3-1

GK: Paul Rachubka

RB: Paul Connelly

LB: Danny Pugh

CB: Tom Lees

CB: Patrick Kisnorbo

CM: Jonny Howson ©

CM: Adam Clayton

AMR: Robert Snodgrass

AML: Ross McCormack

AMC: Matt Warner

ST: Andrew Keogh

SUBS:

GK: Andy Lonegran

RB: Stuart Parnaby

LB: Aiden White

MC: Zac Thompson

AMC: Ramon Nunez

It was a thoroughly wet and overcast afternoon as Brighton took the kick off, the sort of day that made you yern to be at home watching from your living room than in the stands and with the distinct lack of action throughout the first half some were looking like prime candiates for a nap. The early chances saw Pugh make a block which almost ended up in the back of his own net while at the other end Matt, Keogh and co struggled to find any real chances at all as they were limited to wild shots from distance. Half time couldn't come soon enough for Redknapp as he hauled his players straight off the field.

"Whats going on? You all look half asleep out there! It's time to get interested because believe me they are getting the exact same kick up the arse that you lot are. We need to be calm on the ball, we've rushed everything today and created nothing so just calm yourselves down and let it come... We are the better side here but it's the score at full time which matters so get out there and score!"

The half time talking too seemed to have been delivered to both sides as each began to half with good chances, Vincente from a free kick while Snodgrass got free to collect a Keogh through ball but his low shot skipped past the far post. Despite the half time warnings and the need for calm, it was the home side who were looking the more likely to break the dead lock, Mackail-Smith and Hoskins both causing a fair amount of trouble for Lees and Kisnorbo. At the other end though Leeds finally managed to warm the hand of their former keeper Ankergren, Clayton trapping Rachubka's goal kick in the middle with space around him. With a turn he played in Matt, the defence struggling to keep stride with him but as he took the shot it was straight down the throat of the keeper who palmed it away with relative ease.

It seemed to be the spark that Leeds needed as a few minutes later they broke the deadlock. Keogh driving forward with the ball before picking out Snodgrass to cross low into the area and after a deflection Ankergren looked to have the ball well in hand but the wet conditions have always caused problems for goalkeepers. The ball spilled from his grasp with McCormack pouncing to apply the finishing touch from barely a yard out. The away support sprang to their feet at the other end of the ground, Redknapp punching the air before barking out another set of orders.

The tide had turned firmly in Leeds favour as they began to settle in to a more confident pattern of play and not long after, another goal followed. This time McCormack collected the ball before passing inside to Matt on the half way line, he found Keogh who in turn picked out the run of Snodgrass in a flowing move. The Scottish international drove in and shot, Ankergren palming the ball away and in the scramble that followed it was Keogh who eventually struck gold with a well placed shot which beat Ankergren. The rain by this point had stopped, the sun beginning to break through the clouds above.

Brighton looked to mount a come back after the restart but once more they found Kisnorbo and Lees in inspired form, each producing top notch blocks and tackles to deny their opposite numbers. The did come close once though after Vincente's poor corner recieved an equally poor clearence he hit the ball first time, Rachubka scambling across his line as it cliped the post and hit the side netting to a sigh of relief from the away support. With the score at 2-0 and with 10 minutes left Redknapp picked out Thomson and Nunez from the bench as the 4th officials board signaled the end of Matt and Clayton's afternoons.

Soon after the changes Brighton's poor 2nd half display culminated in a 3rd goals of the game with no prizes for guessing which way it went. Snodgrass delivering a free kick from the right to the far post, Kisnorbo headed towards goal for Ankergren to tip away but Lees was on hand to bundle the ball over the line to all but secure a tidy away win for the Elland Road outfit. The final near chance of the game came via a Lua Lua corner for Brighton, Mackail-Smith managing to win the ball but his header was never going to trouble Rachubka. The final whistle sounded as Rachubka hoofed the goal kick up field, the win keeping them on the heels of those above them.

(

)

Brighton and Hove Albion 0

Leeds United 3 (McCormack 60; Keogh 67; Lees 83)

MoM: Tom Lees (Leeds)

Att: 21,720

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Another fine team performance and win but as seemed customary following thoughts of or interactions with his ex Matt played a less than brilliant game before coming off for Nunez. By that point though Leeds had found the breakthrough after what had been by many accounts a dull first half and with Tom Lees adding his first ever Leeds United goal it kept the Whites on the heels of the top two with a game in hand. They'd also won they're last 5 games in all competitions, scoring 12 and conceding just once.

Again though there was little time for rest as the visit of Doncaster to Elland Road on Tuesday night loomed close. For many a fan memories of the defeat to Doncaster in the League One play-off final in 2008 were still raw and every encounter since then has always held the slightest twinge of revenge for the events of that faithful Sunday afternoon at Wembley.

Training for the next few days was light at best, the need to keep people fresh during this prolonged run of weekend and mid week games would be paramount. After the game with Doncaster the next fixture would see the visit of Southampton to Elland Road before the penultimate international break of the season. While most of his Leeds team mates would be allowed a small rest, Matt was facing a slightly busier run of games which would probably include a trip to Montenegro to close out England's qualifying campaign and with all things going to plan finish top of the group and undeafeated.

After taking a couple of days to assess the squad Redkanpp decided to rest a few players for this game. Though Doncaster were doing well the likes of Connelly, Pugh and Kisnorbo were looking a bit tired so they were replaced by Parnaby, White and O'Brien who hadn't had much football this season due mainly to the form of what had become the established first team 11.

Despite the change in personel the demands remained the same, Redknapp once more drilling the style of play he wanted into the players, the mandate of making Elland Road a fortress very much the order of business as the young manager followed his team out onto the lush flood lit pitch.

npower Championship

27/09/2011

Leeds Utd Vs Doncaster Rovers

Formation: 4-2-3-1

GK: Paul Rachubka

RB: Stuart Parnaby

LB: Aiden White

CB: Tom Lees

CB: Andy O'Brien

CM: Jonny Howson ©

CM: Adam Clayton

AMR: Robert Snodgrass

AML: Ross McCormack

AMC: Matt Warner

ST: Andrew Keogh

SUBS:

GK: Andy Lonegran

RB: Paul Connelly

LB: Danny Pugh

MC: Zac Thompson

AMC: Ramon Nunez

The Leeds fan's had once again come out in force, the late September air still carrying some heat from the summer as the game go kicked off in explosive fashion. As had become almost a party piece or a calling card in recent games and weeks as Matt helped Howson's headed clearance onto Keogh who turned instantly and made a run down the right wing, both Keller and O'Connor drawn to him leaving a large gap in the middle of the pitch which Matt and Snodgrass began to fill. With a quick look up Keogh laid it across goal for Matt to rifle into the top corner from 7 yards out with barely 3 minutes gone. The game refused to settle as Leeds, full of confidence from their early goal, went after more and it wasn't long before another followed. A flowing passing move ending with McCormack playing in what looked like an over hit through ball but, as Martis got to the ball, Keogh snuck up behind the dawdling defender and after muscling him out the way keogh slotted into the bottom corner to put the home side firmly in control.

Ater the restart there was little let up for the away side as the slick passing and domination of possession yielded yet more chances for Leeds as Snodgrass, McCormack and Clayton all had chances to add a third goal. With everything going so well it was almost fate that there would, at some point, be a fly in the ointment and with 20 minutes gone the fly landed. McCormack fed the ball into Matt who turned before taking off into a sprint but almost instantly he felt it, his hamstring. He clutched it with his hand while limping to a stop and hitting the floor. The physio sprinted over and looked him over.

"Where is it Matty, Hamstring?"

"Yeah.... Damnit." He said, laying his forearm over his eye's while the physio rolled his fingers at the bench, asking for a subsitute. Matt limped off, shaking the hands with Nunez as he came in to replace him for the rest of the game. Matt layed down on the physio's table as he listened to the fan's, suddenly the noise once more rose rapidly. Keogh laid a ball off to Clayton who played a first time ball through to Nunez who control and slotted in at the near post to announce his arrival with a bang. More time passed along with more Leeds chances, the most notable going to Snodgrass as he worked inside to find space before letting rip with a bending effort which flew mere inches wide of the top corner.

In what had been a grim trip for the away side there was once bright spark, that of Billy Sharp who had been a constant thorn in Leeds' side with his sharp movement and strong carrying of the ball and soon those threat brought a lifeline. Sharp picking up the ball on the right before laying inside to Oster, the former Leeds loanee exchanging passes with Mason before putting Sharp in on goal to finish cooly at Rachubka's near post. Leeds let their foot off the pedal slightly, chosing just to see out the half after the goal with Doncaster getting a boost of energy.

In the dressing room Redknapp praised the start but warned against further drops in concentration, "Hey, brilliant start boys but we can't get sloppy like we did for their goal. No one looked to follow his run and it went past 3 of you... TALK, someone take responsibility alright. They have a life line now so lets start this half as we did the first one alright!"

The half started as if the half time team talk never happened. Within 2 minutes of the restart the problems of the first Doncaster goal came to the fore once again. Parnaby found himself out of position as the pass went wide to Friend who skipped past the sliding challenge and cut the ball back for Mason who had time and space to pick out Sharp once again, Lees flat footed as Sharp collected the pass and fired low past Rachubka to set up a possible come back. After the restart the flow of the game changed as now Doncaster found themselves carrying the main threat to the scoreline with Leeds looking shakey and nervous with the ball and ameture-ish without it when it came to their marking.

Sharp was proving to be the main and most lethal threat and neither O'Brien or Lees could quite manage to keep track of him as once more get found space between them in the area, this time though Rachubka got down well to deny the in form forward a hat trick as he looked for the bottom left hand corner. Chances also fell the way of both Oster and Coppinger with both warming the hands of Rachubka as Redknapp decide to mae his final two changes with Parnaby and McCormack made way for Connolly and Thomson coming on meaning Nunez went to the left wing with Clayton dropping in behind Keogh.

The changes seemed to settle things down with Leeds finding much more of the ball while seeming a bit calmer with it at their feet also. A Snodgrass corner for O'Brien almost gave Leeds the two goal cusion back but his power header ended up with the fans behind the goal but all in all the improvement of Leeds turned the game into less than entertaining watching as they seemed to get the measure of Doncaster but remained almost content to win it by a single goal but a quick break almost ended those hopes. A long ball forward by Hird caught O'Brien out complete as he misjudged the ball leaving Sharp to move in free and clear to the loose ball, Rachubka came to close the angle but Sharp's low effort had him beaten but just as it seemed destined for goal it caught a slight bobble in the pitch which sent it onto the post before Lees got in and cleared.

It was enough to give Doncaster another boost as the game entered the last 10 minutes. They began to dominate again, Leeds pinned back on the edge of their 18 yard box for the most part at the visitors peppered them with crossed, shots and through balls, Sharp and Mason both coming close, the latter long range effort hitting the top of the crossbar before heading out for a goal kick. The last chance of the game came as Oster picked out Sharp on the edge of the area with a sneaky corner but his shot was blocked and cleared by Nunez as the final whistl drew the game to a close. Doncaster leaving the field looking disappointed as Leeds gave a real sigh of relief, knowing that on another day 3 points could have been 1 or even none.

(

)

Leeds Utd 3 (Warner 3; Keogh 6; Nunez 28)

Doncaster Rovers 2 (Sharp 37, 47)

MoM: Billy Sharp (Doncaster)

Att: 24,275

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The manager called the performance 'Jeckyl and Hyde'. The opening half hour was sublime, the same sleak and simple football which had seen them into early promotion contention was on full show again. Even after Matt limped off with a little over 20 minutes gone, clutching his hamstring, his replacement Ramon Nunez found the back of the net to put the game what seemed to be well beyond Doncaster with over an hour still left to play. But what some might call 'The Leeds of old' emerged after that point, the Leeds of last season which conceded 70 goals thanks largely to a defence that still found themselves pulling on the white jerseys of Leeds United this season. Be it the skill of Billy Sharp, who on his day could give the boys in the Premiership a run for their money, or simple complacency, Redknapp made it clear in the changing rooms after the game his feelings on the performance,

"We won today, but i'm not as happy as i should be. For the first half hour we looked like a Premiership side but for the last hour or so we looked more like swiss cheese.... Soft and full of f**kin holes! We are going to face teams better than Doncaster and if we perform like we did for that last hour we WILL end up letting in 70 goals again and blowing our promotion chances!!! Now get changed and get home, i want you all in tomorrow at 10am to review the tape of this match and see what went wrong for that last hour!"

The gaffer was half way through his rant when Matt and Robert Snodgrass entered with the physio in tow just behind them. It seemed he'd been lucky, the physio believing he'd only tweaked his hamstring rather than actually tearing it while Robert had damaged his elbow during the game. While he was only expected to miss two weeks at the very most, it still meant Leeds would be without another key player for the game against Southampton.

"How ya feeling Matty?"

Matt gave a nod as Redknapp sat down next to him, "Not too bad, i'll be fine for Southampton..."

Harvey the physio stepped in at this point, "He may be, but just to be on the safe side i recommend he's rested for that game."

Redknapp nodded as Harvey turned and headed back over to Robert.

"I'm gonna go with Harvey on this one, i'd rather rest you for one game than play you and lose you for 3 months with a torn hamstring ok?"

Despite his willingness to play and risk it he could see exactly where the manager and physio were coming from. The last thing anyone needed 5 games into his loan spell was a long term injury, "Ok... I don't like it but your the manager and Harvey knows his stuff...... Seeing as i'm not playing though, any objection to me going on Soccer AM? They've been badgering me for the past couple of weeks to come on the show and i wouldn't mind my hat-trick ball."

Redknapp paused for a moment then nodded, "As long as your back for the match and on the bench with the rest of the lads by 3pm i don't see why not. Anyway i've got the media waiting to start the inquest so to speak so i'll see you tomorrow...."

With a pat on the shoulder Redknapp got up and headed for the door, shouting one last order to them before leaving, "Remember what i said.... Tomorrow, 10am, review of tonights amateur hour!!!"

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I appreciate that you are adding more to your story to enhance your match summaries. It's making the character more interesting and someone I want to support to do good things! Sorry to read of the injury, that must have been gutting to see happen in-game.

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Thanks. Nice to know people are enjoying it and the injury wasn't really gutting as it was only minor but it was a "Oh god, please don't be serious!" moment when it happened. It's nice to have that bit of unknown that games throws up, keeps you on ya toes and always gives you a few new idea's.

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The first day of October brought the usual run down of who's won what for the month with Tom Lees being the only Leeds player to bag an award in the shape of young player of the month. It had been well deserved a lad who seemed to be growing in stature and confidence on a daily basis and had formed a fearsome partnership with Kisnorbo at the heart of the Leeds defence. At just 20 years of age you can see why many are suggesting he has a big future ahead of him. Sam Allardyce picked up the award for manager of the month while Danny Rose, on loan to Crystal Palace from Tottenham, picked up the award for player of the month.

In the Premiership Liverpool and Man Utd were still yet to blink with the boys from Anfield winning all 6 of their games so far and in the process scoring 21 and conceding just once. Perhaps King Kenny still had the magic touch when it came to leading an Anfield side to the title? While Man Utd sat 3rd they still had a 100% record and a game in hand with just Chelsea seperating them from their scouse rivals. At the other end Sunderland, QPR and Bolton found themselves in the relegation zone with Swansea, Newcastle and Stoke not too far away either. The surprise packages so far had been Fulham and West Brom who found themselves in 4th and 5th, both with 4 wins, a draw and a defeat to their name. In the scoring charts Andy Carroll (7), Steve Morrison (6) and Luis Suarez (5) rounded out the top 3 in that department.

Closer to home once more in the Championship only the top two, West Ham and Bristol City, remained undefeated. Along with Liverpool and Man Utd, West Ham were the only other team in the country who still held a 100% record with 9 wins from 9 so far this term. Leeds, Burnley, Portsmouth and Southampton filled out the play-off positions while at the bottom Watford, Coventry and Peterborough propped up the table at the early stage of the season. In the scoring charts no one player topped the table as no less than 7 sat equally at the top, all on 6 goals each. Earnshaw, Carew, Lambert, Ameobi, Simpson and Haynes were all up there but the one that stood out amongst those names was Warner. Chris Warner to be precise as out of the 7 he was the only one who wasn't a striker, bagging his 6 goals from the centre of midfield.

npower Championship table 01/10/2011 

| Pos | |   | Team |    | Pld | W | D | L | F | A | G.D. | Pts| 
| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 1st | | West Ham Utd  | | 9 | 9 | 0 | 0 | 24 | 7 | +17 | 27 | 
| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 2nd | | Bristol City  | | 9 | 6 | 3 | 0 | 18 | 7 | +11 | 21 | 
| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 3rd | | Leeds Utd     | | 8 | 6 | 1 | 1 | 18 | 6 | +12 | 19 | 
| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 4th | | Burnley       | | 9 | 6 | 1 | 2 | 18 | 10 | +8 | 19 | 
| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 5th | | Portsmouth    | | 9 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 17 | 12 | +5 | 15 | 
| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------| 
| 6th | | Southampton   | | 9 | 4 | 2 | 3 | 16 | 14 | +2 | 14 | 
| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

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"...... So please welcome our first guest... Matt Warner."

Matt walked out onto the Soccer AM set, taking time to shake the hands of the AFC Wimbledon fans who filled the Luther Blissett stand before finding his way onto the sofa.

"Matt Warner everyone!" Applause and various chants followed as they played a brief highlight reel of some of his goals.

"So Matt, thanks for coming back firstly. Secondly why are you here and not getting set to play against Southampton?"

"I tweaked my hamstring against Doncaster mid-week so the physio thought it best i rest for this game which is disappointing as it's a pretty big game between two promotion contenders...."

"And you've settled in well again it seems.... 4 in 4 now so far isn't it? But you are still trailing behind your brother by 2 goals in all competitons..... Has he been winding you up?"

"Yeah, he normally does anyway even before we were playing in the same league but his lot have still gotta come to Elland Road so i'll be sure to teach him a few things on scoring goals when he comes up."

"Now we've met Jamie Redknapp on a few occassions but whats he like as a manager?"

Matt paused and smiled for a moment, "Better be careful what i say now...." he said before letting out a brief laugh "No he's great, tough when he has to be but joins in with the lads at training and he's taken to it like a duck to water as the table shows. I'm really enjoying working with him and by the looks of it he could be just as good, maybe even better than his dad."

Helen leaned forward in a hushed but still audible tone "Promotion?"

"We hope so, i mean lets face facts there is still a long way to go and lots that can happen but if we can keep this form going, keep playing the way we have been then i'm sure we'll be up there come the end of the season."

"Ok well we'll be talking to Matt a bit more later on but now it's time for best goals from League One...."

The rest of the show carried on as normal, the other guests being Amir Khan and magician Dynamo. Along with his hat-trick ball for his 3rd appearence on the show he also managed to score for a 3rd time running in the Frank McAvennie car park despite his injury. This time he got lucky with a ametureish left footed toe poke before skipping off to catch the chartered helicopter he'd rented to get back to Leeds in time for the game.

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renting helicopters to save on travel time....ahhhh...the life of the modern footballer. I've chosen the wrong career, I fear.

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Was thinking jet pack at first but for the purposes of realism i decided on a chopper... As ya do lol

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The helicopter arrived at the drop off point with an hour to spare before kick-off leaving Matt with plenty of time to make it to the bench in time for 3pm and even a crafty drink in the players lounge before hand as the landing point was only a 10 minute drive from Elland Road and there was a car all ready and waiting for him.

By the time kick off did approach he'd seen the team sheet with Llyod Sam coming in to replace Snodgrass while also Vayrynen would replace Clayton at centre midfield as he, like a few others, had been looking a little tired thanks to the hectic run of games recently.

npower Championship

01/10/2011

Leeds Utd Vs Southampton

Formation: 4-2-3-1

GK: Paul Rachubka

RB: Paul Connelly

LB: Danny Pugh

CB: Tom Lees

CB: Patrick Kisnorbo

CM: Jonny Howson ©

CM: Mika Vayrynen

AMR: Llyod Sam

AML: Ross McCormack

AMC: Ramon Nunez

ST: Andrew Keogh

SUBS:

GK: Andy Lonegran

RB: Stuart Parnaby

LB: Aiden White

MC: Adam Clayton

ST: Luciano Beccio

It was a sunny but chilly sort of afternoon as the game began between two of the early season promotion contenders and early on it was Leeds who settled into a routine of control with early chances falling the way of both Nunez and Vayrynen but the best of the early chances came against the run of play as a well hit Fox free kick from 20 yards out had Rachubka beaten but not his crossbar and though Fonte got to the loose ball, his header lacked power with the Leeds stopper collecting with ease. Almost instantly though Leeds broke the deadlock as a sweeping move up the field saw McCormack coming inside, playing the ball forward to the feet of Nunez to thread a ball in for Keogh to break the offiside trap and smash into the bottom corner on his left foot. Redknapp and his staff leaping off the bench to celebrate while Matt sat clapping on the bench. There was little time for Southampton to recoup, though Lallana did manage an attempt at goal, before the scoreline was doubled.

McCormack taking a throw to the feet of Pugh before getting it back and crossing to the edge of the 6 yard box and in the ensuing scramble the ball sprang loose from Sam, Fox and Fonte leaving Keogh to slam home his second with just 20 minutes gone in the game, the home crowd once again showing their appreciation with rapturous scene's in the stands. As the game restarted Leeds continued their dominance of the game, Sam coming close also with a long range effort but though Leeds had looked the more likely of the sides to add scoring Southampton still carried a threat, De Ridder playing in Kelly on the right wing to cross. Lees got the slightest flick on the ball which Lallana reacted to quickest with a brilliant diving header which Rachuka had to think quickly to keep out, saving it with his legs. Towards the end of the half Southampton went close once more as De Ridder was found by Schneiderlin on the edge of the box before jinxing away from both Pugh and Lees. With the goal at his mercy though he dragged his shot wide of the mark, the home fan's letting out a loud barrage of taunts with De Ridder carrying a look of disbelief.

"We got a little bit ragged towards the end of half didn't we?" Redknapp said as he paced around the dressing room.

"The start was good but we need to carry that on, kill their momentum and get control of the game again alright? De Ridder is the one who's been carrying the threat so lets start limiting his influence.... Get around him a bit more, make him work a bit harder!"

Despite the talk the early chances of the second half fell the way of the away side, most notable of which came from a Lallana cross as Lambert looked to nod it on towards the back post but he got way too much on the ball, the effort harmlessly going over the bar but soon enough Leeds began to reclaim the title of dominant side in the match, Sam and Keogh combining well on the break before Fonte cleared only inches wide of his own bottom corner thanks of a low cross from Keogh. Southamton began to find themselves camped on the edge of the area as Leeds pressed them, the congested box making it difficult for Leeds to create anything clear cut while Lees and Kisnorbo made light work of most things that came their way, Ameobi's left footed drive enough to have Rachubka scrambling across his box as the ball flashed wide of the mark, some travelling fan's left thinking the ball had gone in.

While Leeds maintained control of the game it wasn't the most entertaining to watch as the home side looked content to play out the final part of the match without much in way of incident at either end of the field, the odd chances coming and going for Sam and Vayrynen before Redknapp, confident that the game was near enough secure, made all 3 of his changes with 5 minutes left to go. Sam, Vayrynen and McCormack making way for Parnaby, Clayton and Beccio to finish out the game and keep Leeds' impressive run of form going. Leeds seemed to keep the measure of control they had until out of no where Southampton struck back in injury time to set up a nervy finish to the game. Cork picking out former Leeds favourite Richardson unmarked on the right to cross into a crowded box, Lallana managing to slide in and get a foot to it, the ball sneaking past Rachubka.

Despite the nervy the goal added to the game, the moments that were played out again saw Leeds put in a mature and controlled performance for the last minute and a half or so before the full time whistle came, again to the delight of the home support as Leeds once more extended their winning streak.

(

)

Leeds Utd 2 (Keogh 13, 21)

Southampton 1 (Lallana 90+1)

MoM: Andrew Keogh (Leeds)

Att: 29,433

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good update again
Thanks, nice to know people are enjoying reading it as much as i enjoy writing it.

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"Jamie, another solid performance from your Leeds side today, you seem to have taken to management very quickly, what do you put that down to?"

"All the staff i have around me, the support of Mr. Bates, the players and how hard they work for each other, the fans and the fantastic support they give us week in and week out home and away.... I'd say when you add all that together the job it's self is made much easier."

"Been given any tips from your dad Harry?"

Redknapp couldn't help but laugh, "Yeah a couple, i'm still trying to talk him into loaning us Gareth Bale for the season but yeah he's been in close contact as always, watching results and that's helped aswell having him chime in with the odd piece of advice or observation."

"We now go into the penultimate international break of the season with Leeds laying in 2nd place, 5 points behind West Ham with a game in hand. Is catching them the main priority or is it now a case of maintaining your place in the automatic promotion positions now your in there?" The mic once more being pushed towards Jamie for a response.

"No no we want to catch West Ham, we can't afford to take our foot off the pedal and try to settle for places so early in the season. West Ham aren't invincible.... They ARE a very very good side but they can be beaten and when we meet them we intend to show people that."

"Well Jamie once again congratulations on the win." With a polite nod Redknapp thanked the reporter as the screen flashed back to a panning shot of the Football League show set before settling on their presenters for the evening.

It was billed as a potential banana skin for Leeds but the win had further cemented the growing opinion around the country that they were genuine promotion contenders and perhaps one of just 1 or 2 sides who could challenge West Ham's apparent dominence. Also, the first managerial casualty of the Championship campaign emerged and for the second time in history a Clough would be leave Derby County as Nigel was shown the door at Pride park after a disasterus run of form saw them drop into the relegation zone following a 4th straight defeat in the league.

Despite being rested Matt had once again been given the call to join up with what was an depleted England squad. Joe Hart, Scott Parker, Joleon Lescott and Kyle Walker would all be missing while there were still doubts over Glen Johnson even though he was selected in the squad. The issue of who would start in goal was the one the raged on however. Green, Carson and oddly enough Fraser Forster, who was on loan at Celtic, were all vying for the starting position against Montenegro. The only other real bright spark worth mentioning was the return to England duty of Steven Gerrard after a good run of form for Liverpool following his recent injury nightmares.

The atmosphere in the squad was still good despite missing some of the key players, the zip in training was there and Capello had been preaching throughout their time together that they could ill afford another lazy start which they had shown against Wales as a win for Montenegro could give them the confidence boost needed to also go and get the right result in their next game and drop England into the play-off lottery.

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Sorry for the lack of updates guys, work has been manic but i'll hopefully have a few new posts up this weekend.

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After much speculation in the press and the squad itself, Green won the battle to start in the absence of Joe Hart while Steven Gerrard would also play from the beginning though in a more unfamilar position on the right of midfield. Glen Johnson, though passed fit, would only be on the bench with Micah Richards coming in at right back.

European Championship Qualifier, Group G

07/09/2011

Montenegro vs England

Formation: 4-4-2

GK: Robert Green

RB: Micah Richards

LB: Ashley Cole

CB: Rio Ferdinand

CB: John Terry ©

MR: Steven Gerrard

ML: Stewart Downing

MC: Frank Lampard

MC: Gareth Barry

ST: Matt Warner

ST: Wayne Rooney

Subs:

GK: Scott Carson

CB: Phil Jagielka

LB: Leighton Baines

RM: Aaron Lennon

ST: Andy Carroll

DC: Ledley King

MC: Tom Huddlestone

There was a little bit of tension as the teams stepped out, the small ground serving the create a little bit of intimidation for the England players under the dark but clear night sky. The game started in lathargic fashion with both sides managing the carve out chances but with little reward, both looking reluctant to go too hard too early. As time ticked away though both sides settled, trading punch and counter punch with Jovetic and Rooney both showing their class as they fashioned chances for those around them, Gerrard collecting a nice through ball to sting the hands of the keeper with a shot while Jovetic jinxed away from Richards before crossing low, causing panic in the England area before eventually Grbic miskicked and England cleared.

This served to make the already vocal crowd much louder in support of the men in red. The atmosphere also made for some tough tackles as more than one player on the pitch suffered a rush of blood to the head before finding their way into the referee's book. Towards the end of the half it seemed he was running out of space with no less than 5 bookings, two for England and three for Montenegro. With both sides now bogged in more a midfield battle as the half drew to a close their was a flash of inspiration and greatfully for the travelling fans, it went the way of England. A superb long range pass from the middle by Lampard found Matt chasing it down on the right side and with time and space he had a quick look up before laying the ball across goal for Rooney to apply a simple finish with some fans already heading from their seats to get some half time refreshments.

Almost straight from the kick off the referee blew his whistle and signalled the players to leave the field for the interval. Matt got a pat on the back from Rooney as they headed down the tunnel for the assist, "You owe me one..." Matt said with a slight laugh before they all grabbed a drink and a seat in the changing rooms.

"Okay.... You done aaahhhh good to get the goal. But we need more stronger all over.... To eerrrr take control of game. You allow them.... ahhhh too much... space and time... Tighter tighter!"

The players nodded, knowing that on another day it could have been a different scoreline but as they lined up for the second half the confidence was much higher than it was at the start of the first. Early in the half the game bore the same look though, a midfield battle with Montenegro looking just slightly the better while Matt was the next edition to the referee's notebook after clashing with Balic. The partizan crowd ringing out a cheer as the yellow card was lifted and shortly after they almost had another reason to cheer as Taljevic's pass forward found Jovetic with his back to goal and after turning both Terry and Ferdinand he fired off a low drive which flashed past Green's right hand post.

With nearly an hour gone Montenegro continued to look the better side while Rooney was the next player to be shown the yellow card, taking the tally for the night to 7 but with time ticking on still England began to settle and play football, both Matt and Lampard having chances to double the advantage though failing to do so. Redemption was at hand shortly after though as a slack bit of control by Zverotic allowed Cole to slide in and win the ball which in turn set Matt off down the left. After blazing past and then across the chasing Savic he again had a quick glance up before bending it low into the bottom corner to make it 2-0 infront of the travelling support. With the game now very much in England's favour they began to press forward against a dejected looking home side and sure enough, the gap increased. Gerrard's run down the right hand side and then inside ended in a foul leaving Baines, on for Downing just 10 minutes earlier, to bend in a mild but accurate freekick into the top near hand corner for his first England goal.

The game was beyond Montenegro now with England looking rampant with every pass and run they made on the ball and while yet another name was added to the referee's notebook, this time Barry, another goal was the next major talking point. Gerrard's shot, after being laid in by Richards, was saved and with the resulting corner the Liverpool captain found Rooney's run to the near post with the set piece, the header sneaking just inside the post to make it 4-0 and all be seal England's passage to next summers European Championship's. After the goal Capello threw the other two dice as his disposal as both Gerrard and Lampard made way for Lennon and Huddlestone.

With the game nearing a close and most players in red already praying the referee would take mercy and blow the final whistle, England struck for the final time of the night. Richard's throw in from the right hand side found the feet of Huddlestone and after they, and Barry, had played it between themselves for a few moments it was the Spurs man who eventually moved the ball forward to Rooney who worked half a yard for himself before hammering a shot high into the goal to complete his hat trick and finish of England's night in style.

(

)

Montenegro 0

England 5 (Rooney 45, 76, 85; Warner 63; Baines 69)

Att: 15,230

MoM: Wayne Rooney (England)

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Sky Sports Studio

"Qualification and top spot secured then with a 5-0 win." Jeff Stelling said as he turned to one of the studio panel which consisted of Paul Merson, Graeme Souness and Gary Neville, "First off Paul, many were.... And not to be disrespectful to Montenegro, expecting an England win but did you see England winning by that margin?"

"To be honest Jeff for the first 40 or so minutes... No i wasn't but Rooney's goal in... Sorry, ON the brink of half time was crucial and Warner's goal in the second half was what got us out of first gear and then we came out and dominated after that."

The camera turned back to Stelling as he glanced up at the camera before starting to ask another question,

"Gary will a win like this show people that England maybe this time around are genuine contenders?"

"I think so but topping a qualifiying group is one thing, going out there and challenging the best teams in Europe which at this point are Holland, Germany and Spain.... It's something else entirely. If England are going to win it they will have to beat at least one... If not all of those sides but on current form, the players we have and how some of them have progressed..... With a bit of luck here and there i think we can reach the semi finals."

"But not the win it?" Stelling fired back playfully at the former England full back.

"No.... I think next summer will be a good experience for alot of the younger players... Wilshere if he goes, Walker, Richards, Jones, Smalling, Carroll and so on. I don't think they'll win it but it could be what helps England really make a mark on the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and maybe win that."

"And lastly Greame.... Wayne Rooney, how good was he tonight?"

Souness shifted in his seat, "Wayne was immence tonight and rightly man of the match but then again so many on that pitch were tonight. Warner's running with the ball scared the life out of their back line, Gerrard in no way looked like he'd hardly played in 6 months, Cole was pure class up that left hand side all night long..... If the key players perform like that in Poland and Ukraine next summer i think Germany, Holland and Spain will be looking over their shoulder slightly."

The camera flashed back to Jeff Stelling one last time, "Well it was 5 of the best for England tonight and qualification assured. We thank you for tuning in and also thanks to Paul Merson, Gary Neville and Greame Souness for joining us..... Spain, Germany, Holland?.... I hope your watching..... Goodnight."

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Following his and England heroic's in Montenegro Matt was soon back home in Leeds. With the game being on the friday night and with it also being England's last group match it gave him more time that he was normally used to in order to recharge his batteries for the next run of domestic games wich would also include the visit of Manchester United in the Carling Cup. Before that point however Leeds would would have to firstly contend with a tough trip to the Riverside Stadium to face a Middlesbrough side who had spent nearly £6m over the course of the summer but found themselves languishing in 18th place and with just one win in their last six league games.

The good news for Leeds however was that Matt, Snodgrass and Clayton would all be returning to the starting line up for the trip in what was becoming Leeds' strongest 11. Training very much was focused around defending with Redknapp seeing the three goals conceded in their last 2 games as a bit of a cause for concern which needed to be addressed sooner rather than later.

The trip itself was filled with the normal banter on the coach. Some choosing to relax with music, others with a news paper while some played poker to pass the time. Matt on the other hand spent most of the journey talking to his brother about their up coming fixtures,

"Well i'll hopefully be watching it live but i reckon the gaffer is going to want us straight back on the bus after the game so i've got the Sky+ set to record it. How are things down there though anyway?"

"You mean at Leicester? All good, in the play-off places now and hunting you down. After all the new signings it feels like it's starting to click but you'll find out soon enough."

"Yeah yeah.... What about Kaiden, mum and dad?"

"Kaiden is getting bigger and bigger by the day. Mum is fine but...."

"But what?" Matt asked sitting up a bit straighter as if to increase his hearing.

"Dad hasn't been too well lately, something to do with his stomach. He hasn't been to the doctors to get them to have a look...... You know how dad is...."

"Yeah a stubborn old git! Tell him to get himself checked out, i'm serious. If i have to come down there i'll drag his old ass to the doctors..."

"I know, i'm sure mum will talk him around..... I mean she talked dad into keeping your ugly arse when you were born."

"Tell it to my England caps knobhead!" They both laughed. "Listen dude i gotta go, were just about there now so i'll probably give you a bell after the match."

"Sweet, innabit bro."

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npower Championship

15/10/2011

Middlesbrough Vs Leeds Utd

Formation: 4-2-3-1

GK: Paul Rachubka

RB: Paul Connelly

LB: Danny Pugh

CB: Tom Lees

CB: Patrick Kisnorbo

CM: Jonny Howson ©

CM: Adam Clayton

AMR: Robert Snodgrass

AML: Ross McCormack

AMC: Matt Warner

ST: Andrew Keogh

SUBS:

GK: Andy Lonegran

RB: Stuart Parnaby

LB: Aiden White

AMC: Ramon Nunez

ST: Luciano Beccio

There was a distinctive chill in the air as the teams strode out onto the lush green turf to applause from the sizeable support in the stands, winter clearly closing in on them with each day that passed. The game kicked off to another rapturous applause and as some were still finding their seats the first goal came. Clayton challenged for the ball with it popping loose from him and two Middlesbrough players for Matt to collect and turn, charging at a defence that just seemed to let him right through the front door. He burst into the area before hitting a low shot under home sides keeper to draw a loud cheer from the Leeds fans at the other end of the ground. Following the early goal the chances dried up almost instantly, both sides taking on a more cautious mentality.

The game settled once more with 20 minutes gone, both teams now throwing a bit more caution to the wind as Snodgrass snuck between two defenders before firing a shot goalwards for Steele to save well while at the other end Connolly conceded a free kick which Arca sent off of Rachubka's crossbar from 20 yards, causing many a fan to hold their breath for a moment. It was starting to look more and more likely that there would be another goal in the first half, with both sides showing they had what it took to get at the other but in the end it was Leeds who doubled their advantage. McCormack won and took a free kick at the byline on the left, sweeping it into the area where Kisnorbo met it with a powerful header down, Steele did brilliantly to palm it away only for Lees to sweep home the loose ball. Once more the other end of the stadium was where the noise was coming from while the young defender was mobbed by his team mates.

Unlike with the first goal, neither side made a dramatic change in their mentality as a Middesbrough corner almost yielded a way back in, McManus' header just shaving the top of the cross bar from McMahon's well taken corner but it was Leeds once more who almost went one better as Connolly battled to get away from Kink before feeding the ball to Clayton who, with space around him, found McCormack in space on the edge of the box. The Scot took a moment before bending a brilliant effort goalwards but this time the men in white were denied by the far post before it was cleared.

Half time brought the usual praise and warning of caution but the overwhelming feeling around the dressing room during the interval was that if a third goal was going to come then it would be for the away side. The second half started nearly the same way as the first as early on Snodgrass once more cut inside the shot, hit low tame effort looked to bamboozle Steele who knocked it away with his feet. Keogh bore down on goal but the last second intervention by Arca kept the score at 2-0. Leeds were growing in confidence as time wore one while Middlesbrough just couldn't keep the mistakes from happening. Once such mistake on the half way line gifted the ball to McCormack who picked out the run of Keogh, his long range effort finding only the roof of the net with Steele once more looking well beaten. The Leeds confidence though soon took a dent as, contrary to the feel at half time, it was Middlesbrough who snatched the next goal. Arca and McDonald exchanged passes on the left following a throw in with the former delivering a cross to the back post for an unmarked Emnes to head high into the top far hand corner.

Redknapp was livid on the bench, cursing his players complacency and berating the marking shown by the defence as they found their positions for the restart. It was the boost the home fans and players needed as they began to pepper the Leeds goal with crosses and shots, the momentum swinging viciously against the away side. Despite the efforts of both Matt and Snodgrass, Leeds found themselves under the cosh for nearly the remainder of the match, Kink getting in behind Connolly to shoot, his effort just being dragged wide of the far post. Redknapp rose from his bench once more, this time with two players in tow all stripped and ready, Pugh and McCormack making way for White and Nunez with a little over 10 minutes left on the clock.

The pattern of play remained with Leeds forced to try and hit on the counter while the home team dominated possession and the chances. Once more Arca came close with a free kick from the left, the ball just missing the top corner with Rachubka left standing and watching. With the game drawing to a close the Leeds back line remained glavanised against the Middlesbrough attack as a Franks cross was cleared in the air by Kisnorbo, the ball dropping to Matt on the edge of the area. He nodded it quickly to Nunez on the left who in turn switched the ball to a completly open right wing for Snodgrass, with nothing but empty space in front of him. Matt, Keogh and Nunez pushed forward with him as the Middlesbrough players scrambled back but as Snodgrass got to the area who side footed an effort low past Steele to wrap up the win and put another 3 points on the board in front of the now hugely vocal home support.

(

)

Middlesbrough 1 (Emnes 62)

Leeds Utd 3 (Warner 2; Lees 32; Snodgrass 90+4)

Att: 21,618

MoM: Matt Warner (Leeds)

While pleased with the win, Redknapp once again preached about becoming complacent and how big a worry it was becoming for him, "One of these days you'll be 2-0 up and get complacent and maybe the next time you won't get away with it, you won't get that luck you've been enjoying of late and you'll be on the end of a 3-2 or 4-2 defeat. It's time to get that full 90 minutes of commitment i saw at the start of the season back and sharpish!"

Also as first believed the team was ushered back onto the coach for the trip home soon after the final whistle and with another game midweek at home to Cardiff you can see why the manager would want them home and resting with such a hectic schedule ahead. Upon arriving home Matt made tracks straight for the TV to catch up on what he'd missed during the live game between Leicester and Peterborough which in truth wasn't much. Both sides eventually drew a blank to make for a disappointing home draw and surely the feeling of 2 points dropped for the Foxes.

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Following the win against Middlesbrough and with a long trip to Watford also at the weekend, Redknapp took the chance to rest Adam Clayton, instead favouring a fresher Mika Vayrynen for the central midfield role but chose to leave the rest of the team unchanged for the match against a tough looking Cardiff side that had so far struggled to find the form of last season which saw them go within touching distance of Premier League.

"And this is the players lounge, i'll meet you here after the match and there will be drinks and food in the box so enjoy it alright..... And get that bloody shirt off him, remember where you are old man!" Matt said playfully as his parents and nephew were given a brief tour before turning his attention to the Leicester shirt his nephew wearing.

"He's born and bred in Leicester just like you, only he ain't a traitor....." His dad Jeff fired back as he was heading down the hall.

"You sent me upto Leeds.... It's your fault, i had no say in the matter but.... I'm gonna get my arse kicked if i'm not in the changing rooms in the next two mins so we'll continue this later." He uttered in a mock menacing tone before jogging off down the hall.

npower Championship

18/10/2011

Leeds Utd Vs Cardiff City

Formation: 4-2-3-1

GK: Paul Rachubka

RB: Paul Connelly

LB: Danny Pugh

CB: Tom Lees

CB: Patrick Kisnorbo

CM: Jonny Howson ©

CM: Mika Vayrynen

AMR: Robert Snodgrass

AML: Ross McCormack

AMC: Matt Warner

ST: Andrew Keogh

SUBS:

GK: Andy Lonegran

RB: Stuart Parnaby

LB: Aiden White

AMC: Ramon Nunez

ST: Luciano Beccio

The atmosphere was intence, the fan's remembering more than one defeat at the hands of the nights opposition in the previous years, including a drubbing at home the season before which had now manifested itself into a rather intence rivallry between both sets of fans as seen by the increased number of stewards and police in and around the ground. As the game got started though things seemed to settle, if only for a short period of time though.

The first half was more open and even than Leeds fans had become used to in recent times. Even though Leeds did have the majority of possession and major chances, whenever one was carved out it was either sent right at Marshall in the Cardiff goal or horribly off target with Keogh, Snodgrass and Matt all guilty of failing to convert chances against a team which, though high flyers last season, were struggling to find form this term. More chances were also snuffed out by an impressive looking Marshall though it wasn't all one way, Cardiff did have chances but in contrast to his opposite number Rachubka was never really stretched in the efforts he did save. On the brink of half time things took a turn for the worse as Kisnorbo limped off with an injury and with no established centre backs on the bench it was Connelly who moved into the centre with Parnaby going in at right back from the subs bench.

Redknapp urged Leeds to continue what they had been doing come half time,

"Were the better side but we have to convert these chances, we could have killed the game off but we've been sloppy in our finishing today. Matty, your an England international striker, you know how to score goals. Andy you're our top scorer so you too know how to score goals..... Get out there and bloody finish this lot off, they don't want it like we do!"

The second half was thankfully much more to the liking of the Leeds fans. After a small but firm warning to up their game from Redknapp the responce was instant as McCormack bagged against his old club. Keogh allowed too much time and space on the right hand side to cross, McCormack's darting run ahead of his man ended in a superb looping header which had Marshall beaten all hands up. The noise from the fans said all it had to about the recent rivallry between the two sides. Boo's on one side with cheers everywhere else. From there is was all pretty much what people had come to expect from Leeds in recent times. More chances followed but again and again they were denied by the acrobatic's of Marshall, a looping cross into the area from Snodgrass was met with a powerful header from Matt which had him halfway to celebrating before it was tipped over the bar.

With the game moving past the hour mark and with one eye on the up coming fixtures Snodgrass and McCormack both departed with White and Nunez stepping in. Despite the change in personel the momentum stayed with the home side as they demanded another goal to put the game to bed and soon they were rewarded. Nunez, like Keogh earlier, stormed down the right wing, getting the beating of Naylor before picking out Keogh, his marker seemingly losing his footing as Keogh controlled brilliantly before applying the coolest of finishes to once more cause bedlam in the stands. There was no let up from the restart and after Nunez hit the post with a cheeky placed effort it only took a few minutes more for another goal.

Connelly who, having had a blinding game in containing Earnshaw since his switch to centre back, getting on the score sheet. Again Nunez was involved when his corner found Lees unmarked at the front post, his header was blocked but it was Connolly who reacted quickest against a flat footed Cardiff back line and drove home to effectively put the game beyond the visitors. Redknapp was visably overjoyed at the ruthless streak they had shown in the second half and that feeling didn't change even when a deflected Earnshaw caused a scare when it bounced off the top of the crossbar with Rachubka only able to watch and hope.

There were a few more chances but after the scare Leeds took to play keep ball for the final 10 or so minutes of the game, each pass getting it's own loud cheer while the Cardiff fan's watched on with grim faces. Soon though they were allowed to leave after the final whistle sounded to one last rapturous cheer from the home support at the conformation of a 3-0 win which heaped more pressure on a Malky Mackay who many believed was on the brink after a poor run of form even before tonights drubbing.

(

)

Leeds Utd 3 (McCormack 49; Keogh 74; Connelly 78)

Cardiff City 0

Att: 35,266

MoM: Andy Keogh (Leeds)

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After the game Matt headed upto the players lounge to see his parents and nephew again but beforehand he took his dad to one side.

"Nice win there monkey boy.... You didn't score but.." That was as far as he got before Matt cut him off.

"Nevermind that... You been to the doctors yet old man?"

His dad sighed "Has your mother been going on about it?"

"No, it was Chris.... Look mum is worried though and so is Chris and now so am i...."

"Oh it's nothing, just a bit of an upset stomach i don't need to see....." Again Matt cut him short.

"Stop. Look i'm not asking anymore alright, i'm telling you to go to the doctor... Hell i'll go with you if i have to, i'll even get the Leeds doctor to look you over. If it is nothing then just go and let a doctor say it's nothing because if it is just an upset stomach there is no sence in worrying us about it by not going."

"I'm pretty sure i'm still your dad so shouldn't it be me telling you this stuff..... Besides i'm a grown man...."

"So act like one and go to the doctors!" Matt snapped back instantly. "Now come on, i haven't scored tonight so your buying the drinks."

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In the days that followed Kisnorbo's injury was confirmed as a minor case of brusied ribs although with the games being so close together at this point it was confirmed that he'd miss both the games at Watford and the match with Man Utd which gave O'Brien, O'Dea and Bruce the chance to perhaps challenge one half of what had so far been the meanest and stingiest back line in the league with only 8 goals conceded so far. The focus over those days however was firmly on keeping the team fresh. The recent run of games was starting to tell on a few with even Matt starting to feel in need of a rest though no matter how much they wanted one the games would continue to come. Heading into the game with Watford the press were suggesting that Sean Dyche was on the verge of the sack and a bad result against Leeds could see him becoming the second managerial casualty of the season.

Sadly for Dyche the game couldn't have come at a worse time. It was 2nd from top vs 2nd from bottom with Leeds at the moment being the form side in the entire country with 9 wins from their last 9 games in all competitions. For the game it was O'Brien who got the nod to replace Kisnorbo while Clayton returned to the centre of midfield following his absence from the squad mid-week.

nPower Championship

22/10/2011

Watford Vs Leeds Utd

Formation: 4-2-3-1

GK: Paul Rachubka

RB: Paul Connelly

LB: Danny Pugh

CB: Tom Lees

CB: Andy O'Brien

CM: Jonny Howson ©

CM: Adam Clayton

AMR: Robert Snodgrass

AML: Ross McCormack

AMC: Matt Warner

ST: Andrew Keogh

SUBS:

GK: Andy Lonegran

RB: Stuart Parnaby

LB: Aiden White

AMC: Ramon Nunez

ST: Luciano Beccio

With the sun out in full force the game was given the go to start and once more it was Leeds, who were now becoming the masters of the league when it came to starting quickly, who made the first impression. Pugh sent a hopeful ball down the left which McCormack collected. He drove at the byline before cutting back inside, leaving two defenders for dead in the process before firing home at the near post. With the away fans still in strong voice following the goal there was little respite for the home team as a second followed almost instantly. Matt this time picking out a brilliant pass for Snodgrass on the left and as the Scot crossed there were 3 men in white lined up for it but again McCormack was the one who met it in the air and produced a stunning header to double the advantage with little more than 3 minutes gone in the game.

Leeds continued to press with chances for Matt, Snodgrass and Howson all having chances to put the game to bed nice and early but as seemed customary in recent weeks the lapse in concentration yielded a life line for the side in yellow. Mackie's cross from the right was blocked but as Leeds failed to clear Buaben tricked Clayton completely before firing home at the near post with more than one glance heading Rachubka's way after he failed to keep out the goal which put Watford back in the game. It didn't last long though as 8 minutes later Matt restored the two goal advantage. Keogh charged down the right before working himself some space for a cross which, once again, asked more than one question about the Watford marking as Matt stole in to apply a classy finish on the volley to the delight of fan and player alike.

Despite more pressure and almost total domination of the ball Half time came with no further change to the scoreline. There was a boyant atmosphere in the dressing room but after the recent dips in concentration Redknapp keen for them to keep their feet on the ground,

"Ok we have a two goal advantage but we got sloppy there for a moment. We can't afford to think we've won a game with half hour gone so i want complete focus this half, go put this game to bed!"

The second half started much like the first with Leeds dominating possession and creating more and more questions of a Watford backline which was absent at it's very best. Redkanpp's request to finish the game off looked like being answered just 5 minutes into the half. Howson, Matt and Keogh linked well before the latter played in a nice through ball for Snodgrass as the Watford backline seemed to stop, waiting for an offside flag that never came as Snodgrass added a cool finish to a nice team move. Much of the half continued in the same fashion with Leeds falling into a comfortable but also cautious rhythm and though while still creating chances, as time ticked down it was Snodgrass' goal that looked to have rounded off what would have been a perfect afternoon until referee Mike Jones made what could be seen as one of the stupidest decisions of the season, if not the decade.

A simple long clearance out of defence by Watford saw Rachubka rush out to collect but his momentum just saw him step slightly out of the area with the ball still in hand. The result? A straight red card. The Leeds bench literally exploded in a collective tyrade of abuse that was not without warrant. Even the Watford fans chimed in with a 5 minute long chant of "You don't know what your doing!" After the game Jamie Redknapp was more than vocal on the issue,

"Ridiculous.... Stupid..... Idiotic..... Moronic..... I don't think there is a word in existance that could describe how bad that decision was. I'll admit, he stepped out of the area with the ball in his hands so it is a foul.... But it wasn't intentional, even a yellow card for that would be classed as stupid. How can we preach respect for the referee's when they disrespect us with stupidity of this magnitude....."

Thankfully it was in the 86th minute and despite the fact that Redknapp had already used all of his subs, the defence made sure that Howson had nothing to do for the last few minutes of the game as he stepped in to cover in goal. Though there was a brief scare as he made a bit of a meal of what seemed a simple headed back pass. Luckily for him though soon as he had it gathered the full time whistle was blown and another round of "Referee's question time" was underway.

(

)

Watford 1 (Buaben 30)

Leeds Utd 4 (McCormack 1, 3; Warner 38; Snodgrass 50) [Rachubka s/o 86]

MoM: Robert Snodgrass (Leeds)

Att: 11,270

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In the days that followed the farce continued as due to the massive onslaught which Redknapp had let loose with in a TV interview the F.A. had decided to uphold the one match ban as a punishment which just made for more ill feeling towards the F.A. and the referee's association. So the bad news was that Rachubka would miss the game against Man Utd but the mildly good news however was that West Ham had dropped points during their 0-0 draw with Southampton meaning Leeds had closed to within 4 points of them with a game in hand still and a home game against them in under a month. The other good news was that with the win against Watford was their 10th in a row and made them one of the hottest teams in the countries form charts.

"Ok boys, we know what and who we are up against. They are the champions, perhaps the best side in the country and on some days maybe even the world but i know you lot, i've seen you play football that would not look out of place in the Premiership. Remember, control the ball, control the game!"

The old motto was dusted off in the meeting prior to their highly anticipated match with Man Utd. In the Championship it worked but against a side as good as Man Utd it was going to be slightly harder to implement. Even Matt, who had played in the biggest games and against the biggest names had a slight jangling of the nerves going into this game.

"Not getting nervous are you.... You big girl!" Asked his best mate James, Leicester City goalkeeper.

"A little bit.... Never beaten them before.... Well i came on for like two minutes when we beat them under Venables but ever since then they've been my bogey team..... Even the times Arsenal beat them i missed through injury."

"Yeah well with a bit of luck you could do them ya know, they aren't invincible and some have dared call you the Barcelona of the Championship."

"Well.... We are i guess.... And barely £200k spent by the manager..... I'm more worried for you than me seeing as your barely in the play-off places and you've spent what, like £10m this summer?"

"We'll come good, we ain't gonna stop chasing you. Oh and my dad said you need to get down here so we can play some poker and get a curry. Mills is in...."

"Well Pancho will be back in the new year so if i can get a day off during the x-mas period then yeah i'm down for that..... I'd come sooner but unlike the rest of you mugs i don't get the international breaks off do i?"

"Well next season when were in the Premiership together i'm sure Hart will get dropped and me and you will have the same problem. Plus won't you see him before that, England are playing the USA after Spain in a few weeks."

Matt couldn't help but laugh at that first part, "Well we'll see and yeah true true, i'll be sure to give his ankle's a tap if he starts and call him a traitor to England.... Anyway i gotta go.... It's too hard to talk and play CoD at the same time but i'll call you next week after Leicester bottle another game...."

"Yeah yeah, keep laughing.... I'll speak to ya soon muppet!"

It got Matt to thinking how long it had been since he'd been home and seen his closest friends. There was James Pamma, Leicester City goalkeeper. Joe Mills Notts County centre back and Krishan Pancholi who was at present a left back for New York Red Bull but had already agreed a free transfer move to Tottenham in January. They'd all met while playing for various county sides in Leicestershire, well apart from Joe who was Nottingham born and bred but during a tournement they became friends and have stayed in touch ever since.

Krishan, or Pancho as they all knew him, was formerly at Aston Villa but following release went back to the USA, having been born and spending the first 3 years of his life in Miami and won a contract with L.A. Galaxy at their open try-outs. He spent 3 years there before moving to New York Red Bull who are currenty favourites for the MLS title while also recently making the decision to take up the chance to play international football with the U.S. national side. Joe and James are, at present at least, one team blokes. Both of them being avid fans of the home town teams they now play for as kids. James is also good friends with Matt's brother as they are only seperated by a year in age with Chris being 26 to James' 25 meaning they pretty much came through the youth ranks together.

While he more often than not disliked christmas it would be a welcome gift to perhaps go home and have a night out in Leicester again..... Well that and a woman perhaps....

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A good hour before kick off and the streets around Elland Road were bouncing, the whole city was on a high in recent weeks and the visit of their arch rivals served only to increase that feeling with some going as far to say that Leeds could really show their potential and put a few past what might be more of a weakened Man Utd side.

Vayrynen, Lalkovic and Cairns came onto the bench with Lonegran taking up Rachubka's place in goal to complete the only changes to the side that beat Watford 4 days earlier. For Man Utd there was no Rooney, Nani, Jones, Ferdinand or Vidic but the likes of De Gea, Evra, Young and Hernandez would make for a tough challenge nontheless.

Carling Cup 4th Round

26/10/2011

Leeds Utd Vs Man Utd

Formation: 4-2-3-1

GK: Andy Lonegran

RB: Paul Connelly

LB: Danny Pugh

CB: Tom Lees

CB: Andy O'Brien

CM: Jonny Howson ©

CM: Adam Clayton

AMR: Robert Snodgrass

AML: Ross McCormack

AMC: Matt Warner

ST: Andrew Keogh

SUBS:

GK: Alex Cairns

RB: Stuart Parnaby

LB: Aiden White

MC: Mika Vayrynen

AMC: Ramon Nunez

AML: Milan Lalkovic

ST: Luciano Beccio

The atmophere was electric, a game against Man Utd always did bring out a special sort of feeling you don't get anywhere else. No one is really sure why Leeds and Man Utd fan's hate each other like they do but that hatred always did serve to create magical games and nights. The opening whistle brought a loud cheer from both sets of fans as the game got off to a very rapid start. Keogh dropped deep to collect the ball before finding Snodgrass out on the right before the Scottish winger slipped away from Evra and played a defence splitting pass for Keogh once more before the move was finished off in style thanks to Keogh's classy low drive. The ground erupted almost instantly as Keogh took a step towards cult status, scene of jubilation every as the Man Utd defence began pointing fingers.

It was the start every Leeds fan dreams of when facing Man Utd but so quick was the opening that some Leeds fan's missed the start. The game got kicked off once more with Man Utd still looking shakey at times as they tried to find their stride and before too long they looked like they had as Hernandez managed to open up some space to shoot, his rocket of a shot crashing against the bar. Moments later they went close once more, this time Young latched onto a through ball from Evra and after beating both Connolly and O'Brien he shot low and hard only to find the side netting before the taunts of the home support rang out. Before too long though Fergie was left agonising over the missed chances even more as Lees floated a ball forward from a free kick and as Evra cleared it was Howson's smart first time volley which caught the backline off guard, Keogh again stealing in with a fantastic piece of control befoe slotting low past the on coming keeper to double the lead and once more send the passionate home support into delierium.

With the fans in full voice the rest of the half flew by almost with Leeds looking the better side throughout as next it was the turn of Snodgrass to force De Gea into two magnificent saves. At the other end Diouf and Hernandez were enduring a miserable night against O'Brien and especially Lees, who more than one occassion had produced some superb tackles. Soon enough though the half ended to the visable relief of the visiting players.

"Ok boys, lets get settled alright? Now there's no doubt we have been great so far but it's Man Utd, they have that knack to get at teams and after the hairdryer treatment they are going to be hell bent on pegging us back. Tommy, Andy... Keep tight to your men ok, your doing brilliantly so just keep nudging them and putting them off, they don't like it. That goes for everyone, i want the exact same this half alright?"

The players responded with a loud collective shout of agreement.

The players trotted back out to a passionate greeting from the home support and after everyone had found their place the second half began in somewhat slow fashion as Leeds just moved the ball around posing the question to many of who looked more like the reigning champions of England. Though it was a somewhat dull opening to the half there were chances, Matt found himself space after another smart Howson pass but with the shot imminent his standing leg escaped him, the shot slicing it's way well wide of De Gea's near post. As the half wore on though Man Utd began to get into their stride, Young and Hernandez starting to shine with each minute that pass and it was through them that Man Utd found a life line.

A quick one two between Hernandez and Young saw the latter break into the area and skip past O'Brien but the defenders challenge was late leaving only one option. The ball was set on the spot as Lonegran proceeded to do jumping jacks while Gibson set himself for the penalty. But no matter how high Lonegran jumped he was never going to be able to get Gibson's effort as he launched it over the bar and into the back of the stand. However a few minutes later the away side reminded many of their threat as Kranjar came off the bench to put Man Utd back in the game. Young knocked a ball forward for Hernandez, he turned and ran down the left hand side before cutting it back to the former Tottenham midfielder and after setting himself he squeezed a shot in at the near post which fired the away support into life again.

After the restart and with just over 20 minutes left Man Utd continued to press though Keogh was still an ever present danger while Matt had woken from what seemed a first half slumber of sorts and began to run at a shakey looking Man Utd back line. Both of them drawing top quality saves from De Gea while at the other end Rachubka denied both Diouf and Park Ji-Sung as the game entered the final minutes. Redknapp left it late to make his first change with Clayton coming off for Vayrynen as the game drew to a close, Leeds still holding strong against the waves of Man utd attackers though soon the board was put up with the big red number reading 4 added minutes to a corrus of boo's from the massive home support. Soon enough though those boo's turned into rapturous cheers.

A hoofed clearence from Pugh looked to be well covered by Evans but in the blink of an eye Keogh was on him and after snatching the ball through he set off towards goal. With Smalling closing in and De Gea rushing out Keogh hit a sublime effort goalwards before ending up in the top corner. Elland Road went wild, the masses who'd shown up for the night letting out a noise that hadn't been heard in Yorkshire for a good few years. With the game all but over and after a restoring order following the scenes of sheer joy from the home support, the referee called time to seal a win that would long remain in the memory of many Leeds fans.

In the end it the stats said it all really, Leeds edged the possession but 10 shots on target to Man Utd's 1 showed that this Leeds side were more than just a flash in the Championship pan.

(

)

Leeds Utd 3 (Keogh 1, 20, 90+2)

Man Utd 1 (Kranjar 72)

MoM: Andrew Keogh (Leeds)

Att: 37,697

Redknapp summed the night up perfectly,

"No one really gave us a chance tonight, no one thought i'd be good enough for this job, no one thought an established England international would drop down a league to play for his boyhood heroes again..... But all those things happened, all because of you..... All of you played your part, worked your socks off and i couldn't be prouder. Day off tomorrow, enjoy it because after that it's heads back on and Burnley at home for Saturday ok?"

Redknapp exited the dressing room as they all burst into another rendition of "Marching On Together." loud enough so their so called bigger rivals in the away dressing room could hear.

"I guess now i can say i've beaten Man Utd." Matt thought to himself.

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