Hello Champers! We’ve been on a mid-season break as some real world deadlines caught up with me. Thanks for rejoining Niall Warnock for Season 12 – and Leeds United in the Premiership.
Here’s a check-in on our Hall of Fame where Neil Warnock’s managerial record is being pulled apart. We’ve won promotion from Division Three (twice), Promotion from Division Two (three times), The EFL Trophy (twice), the League Cup and been promoted to the Premier League twice. We’ve also played 588 competitive games, and got more than 1000 to go [to catch the moving target of 1603]!
We’ve nearly emulated Neil’s success, but this season I will be about consolidation and maybe European Qualification. Let’s go!
After a busy pre-season I managed to add experienced Internationals Patrick Kluivert, Jasper Blomqvist and Ludovic Giuly after Chris Sutton and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer decided to hang up their boots.
I’m still playing narrow, and still don’t know where Adilson (regen of Leonardo) plays best!
Our league campaign gets off to a solid start in front of a record crowd at Sunderland. Our French maestro gets off the mark early and we hold onto the lead. We packed an extra 12,000 seats into Elland Road in the pre-season and the #DirtyLeeds fans.
The lads survive a first half red card, missed penalty and injury to our Italian Stallion Alessandro Pistone as we see off Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough. I don’t have a spare keeper on the bench, so play the second half keeperless. (I’m not bothered).
Spurs visit Elland Road next and remind us that there is a step-up in class from Division One to the Prem. It takes them seventeen first half minutes to turn the screw. It’s painful.
The lads battle back from behind twice at Maine Road and sink City courtesy of some Trezeguet magic. Four in four for our talisman.
After a tight Villa Park first half ends all square, central defender Mick Ashdjian gets his marching orders in the 48th minute. Five minutes later Villa take the lead. The lads can’t respond and fall to a 1-0 defeat.
Our Bolivian playmaker Ricardo Mercado gets the lads off to a good start against Norwich. I make my usual three-sub change on 60 minutes and the players cannot see the game out. A hard-earned draw.
We are drawn against my former employers Cheltenham in the League Cup. I make some changes to the back line, but keep Kluivert and Trezeguet leading the line. We get an early reward as Kluivert breaks his Lillywhite duck. Cheltenham peg us back and Trez restores the lead. Stubborn Cheltenham won’t go away and get level again on 35 minutes. That would be how the game ends.
The lads come from behind to beat Leicester 2-1. Veteran winger Jesper Blomqvist comes off the bench to bag the winner. I’ve been playing him on the left side of the attacking midfield two from the bench.
One of my former players leads the line for Liverpool – Hristo Stoichkov’s regen Milesev (or Pavdog, for those with Beath). Pavdog takes 3 minutes to score but the lads dig in and come out on top thanks to Trezeguet and Kluivert.
The Liverpool result inspires the lads to kick-on. We compete in this league! A late flurry of goals means Wolves limp back to The Midlands without any points.
That brings up our tenth league game, and remarkably, the lads find themselves top of the league. We’ve scored the most so far, but also conceded more than anyone in the top half too!
We take our new-found confidence into our second leg against League Cup opponents Cheltenham. A comfortable 3-0 win sees us into the second round.
Niall get a muted reception at Home Park as he leads his Leeds side out against third placed Plymouth Argyle. Remember we secured back to back (to back to back) promotions from Division 3 to the Premiership – then jumped ship to Crewe with the team top after 20 games. I don’t regret that decision. Honest.
Anyways – Jonathan Nagabe (George Weah) is kept under lock and key, as Leeds come away 2-0 winners.
It’s a tough run of games, as sixth-placed Arsenal are up next. We are second best throughout, and a 90th minute equalizer has Elland Road bouncing! It’s not deserved, but we’ll take it!
First vs Second as Leeds take on Man Utd at Old Trafford. A 3-0 assault on the United goal – it could have been more! It’s one the #DirtyLeeds faithful will cherish for a long time.
The press are in shock. We are in shock. This run is insane!
Our Bolivian hero Mercado pulls the team though a tricky fixture against fellow Premier League side Middlesborough.
Apparently Brentford are a Premier Division side in 2008. No mater, Trezeguet does what he does best. 2-0 and another league win.
Our first league defeat since Villa in August comes at the expense of Chelsea. We don’t get going and it proves costly.
The lads get a long International break to mull over the defeat. 21 days between fixtures is an insane break. No matter – Ludovic Giuly gets the winner against Derby.
Our League Cup campaign keeps going in parallel with our League form. Another former employer – another win. Sergiy Rebrov scoring on a rare start.
A quick start has ‘Boro shell-shocked. It’s 3 goals and ten players by half an hour and the lads cruise home for a third clean sheet in a row. A first Premier League goal for Alan Shearer regen Matthew Barrett and young Austrian attacking midfielder Leo Rosenegger.
Bolton are next, and a Patrick Kluivert hattrick coupled with another Barrett goal sees us win again.
We bring up our 20th league game, and last of this episode back at the start… Sunderland. It’s first vs second again, as The Makems – spearheaded by Franny Jeffers – are grinding out wins. This time it’s Trezeguet’s turn for a hattrick as we keep up the theory we can score more than our opponents. Jeffers does score, but we score more!
The win means we go ten points clear, with 18 games to go. We are the league surprise package and making use of no European fixtures and mid-week breaks!
Join us next time as we play out the season and go for broke!