Welcome back journeymen and journeywomen! It’s a bumper episode this week, so grab your coffee mug and enjoy!
Last time out Niall Warnock endured the wrath of the Crewe fans by uprooting to Division one Leeds. Fellow blog squad member Ross Bell has been WhatsApping a constant stream of pictures this week. Revie, Bremner, Clarke, Grey, Wilkinson, Chapman, Wallace, McAllister, Radebe, and Gregan all passing through my WIFI network. Slow down, Ross! Before creating a chance at building a legacy we first need to navigate a ten point deficit at the bottom of the table.
My opening bow as Leeds boss is against rivals Barnsley. I add a new goalkeeper to the squad – Spanish stopper Emilio Huegun – in an attempt at shoring up the defense. I also add free player Sergei Rebrov as a runner for the aging Shearer! I had Rebrov at Argyle, though he struggled for game-time.
Formation-wise, I keep it simple with a tried and tested 4-2-2-2 direct style, putting Haaland in the DMC role covering. Long-term Haaland will be my right back, so start the search for midfield cover. (Is Cambiasso available, yet?). I am light on central defenders so midfielder Mark Grugel will have to deputize whilst I try to bring in cover.
We get rewarded for good defensive work. Leftback Marcel Katelaer pulls the strings, as veteran Shearer smashes in a 60th minute opener. Substitute Andrew Cowans is one of those annoying positional players – M/S C. I have no idea where to play him… I put him in the number 7 role (bit of both), and came up with a goal. A good 2-0 win!
Here’s the squad page to prove I am struggling for central defensive candidates! I put star players Bruno Ribeiro and Lewis Moses on the transfer list to get some additional income.
It looks like I’ll get another crack at the FA Cup (having been knocked out when in charge of Crewe). This time the lads make no mistake in the smash an grab win against Oldham at Boundary Park. We lose our goalscorer from game one, Cowans, early on in this one.
The lads keep their third clean sheet in a row against fellow strugglers Everton. The aging Shearer, made to play the full 90 minutes, gets the winner at Elland Road!
It means after 30 games Leeds are off the bottom, leapfrogging Swindon. There is still work to do to catch the pack, as Hull and Port Vale are sucked in, whilst Kidderminster jump out.
Back in the FA Cup, we could do without the fixture pile-up for our league run-in. That said, it’s another game to add to the Warnock rolling total. Young regen Phil Serrant cancel our Rebrov’s early goal.
I am able to bring in a Slovakian denfender Ante Skaper to support Vance Warner at the back. It kicks off at the Belle Vue on his debut and a lapse in concentration means a goal conceded after 90 seconds. Craziness. We can’t find a way back into this one. Where Mark Grugel?
A goalkeeping masterclass from Emi means another cup tie to look forward to. Injuries and calls ups means I can only name a 3-person bench. Lovely.
That’ll do! A 5-0 hammering of Colchester and clean sheet. Shearer has now scored four in seven. A needed upturn in form for the 36 year old – though still room to improve!
Emi does it again! He loves the FA Cup! Despite playing the second half with ten players, we hold onto our lead to reach the Quarter finals!
A late equaliser takes the shine off another Shearer goal. Big Al increases his Niall tally to five in nine. He’s matched his total for last season already. I must be doing something right?
It’s top vs bottom as we take on Swindon Town. I am able to bring in Plymouth defender Cec Dunnett on loan to replace Warner and play alongside Skaper. After going 2-0 down we pull it back to 2-1. A moment of madness from right back Lorcan Costello means we are then reduced down to ten men. I take drastic action…
It works! Shearer scores late and we salvage a draw! It feels like a win!
We remain 7 points adrift after 34 games. 12 games to go! We need results now, and not to run out of games (like happened with Crewe last season).
Form table thinks we’re in with a shot!
Oof! Spurs are undone by an early red card. Two Shearer penalties and a headed goal means Big Al has a hattrick!
We draw Aston Villa in the FA Cup quarters. Savo Milosevic scores after eleven minites, before Big Al cancels it out 60 seconds later. We go in at halftime 2-1 up, before future manager Paul Lambert makes it 2-2! Big Al nods in a second hattrick in a row! We win and remarkably are in the semis!
Shearer is on fire. Though I hope this penalty miss doesn’t cost us at Elm Park. Reading are in second and chasing automatic promotion to the Premier League.
We then dispatch sixth places West Brom. Shearer doesn’t score, but who cares! It’s more points on the board.
We score two more against Ipswich and results go our way.
We are in the bottom three on goal difference, one point behind 20th placed Kidderminster. We are flying at the top of the form table. It’s only a matter of time until we pull clear, right?
Here’s a squad update as the transfer window closes. I sign Phil Serrant from Coventry (who scored against me early on). Veteran Brazillian Vagner joins from Spurs for a measley £10k. Luis Adilson is the regen of Leonardo. Kevin Clark is Matt Le Tissier’s regen and Martyn Reid is a utlity player who has been filling the DMC gap.
Newboy Serrant gets on the scoresheet at Oldham. As does a sulky character by the name of Anelka!
The draw means we pull out of the bottom three (just)!
There are plenty of games to go – to the lads needs to focus.
In the FA Cup, they hold Premier League Bolton 0-0 at Old Trafford in front of a bumper 71,000 fans.
We don’t talk about Bruno. The dream goes on three days later as we are back in Manchester and win 2-1! Transfer listed Bruno Ribeiro scores on his first game since I took over. What a time to do it! Injuries and cup tied players meant Bruno was needed.
I am not sure if this is the dream cup final, or nightmare cup final for Leeds fans?
After the cup heroics, we are breaten by Norwich 1-0 and find ourselves back in the relegation zone.
We recover to beat fellow strugglers Hull thanks to an 88th minute winner from Big Al.
Kidderminster have somehow managed to string a couple of wins together and pull clear again with Everton. My FA Cup replay means I get an extra game to leapfrog Port Vale.
What did I say about Kidderminster pulling away? The perfect respone to going 1-0 down. Big Al and Sergiy drag us from the death to win 2-1.
This game. Mate! This time Port Vale decide they want to step up a gear, and go 3-0 up! We pull it back to 3-1 before half time. I sacrifice Emi to go keeperless, but we lose! Arghhh!
It’s still super tight. We still have a game in hand!
Job done. Big Al shows his experience as we narrowly win at Gillingham to go clear of the bottom three once again.
Two games to go.
Elland Road breathes a huge sigh of relief as Sheffield United are beaten thanks to Le Tiss and Serrant.
We would need to lose to a ten goal swing for Kidderminster to catch us. It’s not mathematically done, but as good as!
The season ends with a loss as Francis Jeffers scores twice and Bruno nets a consolation.
We’ve done it! Replicating the Houdini Warnock did with Rotherham. The Leeds fans rejoice.
So, now to the FA CUP FINAL!
Man Utd are the newly crowned Premier League Champions. It’s a big ask! I opt to play Rebrov up front with Big Al. Young starlet Serrant is cup tied. Semi final hero Bruno Ribeiro gets the nod in the #11 slot alongside Simon Hopkins in #7. Leonardo jnr plays CM and Alife Haaland DMC.
We match them toe-to-toe. 1-0 Utd; Then 1-1. Then DISASTER. Bruno gets sent off and Seedorf scores from the restart.
In the second half Iversen makes it 3-1 to Utd before Big Al gives us hope. Seedorf scores his second, and Hopkins replies. 4-3 on the night!
I push players forward and go keeperless. Man Utd are dangerous with every counter. We’re undone in the 84th minute. Seedorf scores his Wembley hattrick and we lose 5-3.
What a game!
Despite the dissapointment, Utd’s league medal means we qualify for the Cup Winners Cup.
What a thrilling end to the season. Big Al finished on 29 goals and decides to hang up his boots in the close season. [I NEED to find that regen]!
How does do we fayre in the Niall vs Neil game stakes? The FA cup run helped add 8 more games to the total, after leaving Crewe. It means Niall amassed a massive 62 game season, bringing his total to 525 games. We did require a 52.5 game average to overhaul Neil’s record (before the game crashes in season 30), but now he’s back in the Huddersfield hotseat who knows where we will end up!
Join us next time as we mix Europe with Division 1! We don’t talk about Bruno.… no, no, no…