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United we fall
Dennis Wise may be facing the sack, but Leeds’ problems are mainly down to Peter Ridsdale and David O’Leary. Plus: Sam Allardyce’s departure from Bolton and candid views on Gary Lineker and Eamon Dunphy.
Tony Cascarino, 04 May 2007
To pinpoint the moment at which Leeds’ problems actually began, I think you’ve got to start with the negligence that was pretty apparent under Peter Ridsdale. There was a huge waste of money during that period and the consequences of that have been that the club has been playing catch-up ever since.
Leeds this season have been paying hundred thousand pound salaries to footballers who’ve not been playing for the club, which obviously has taken its toll. It’s denied them the opportunity to go into the transfer market, they’ve had to get players on loan and, when they’ve had injuries, they haven’t had a big enough squad to compete.
Things have really snowballed at Leeds, it’s a club that’s been in freefall. In David O’Leary’s defence, there are very few managers who would turn down money to buy better players. But managers have a responsibility to make sure that clubs are doing things for the right reasons. Likewise, if it’s required, the board should be prepared to say, “If you can keep the purse strings pretty tight, we will eventually be able to come up with something a little bit extra for you.”
I don’t think any of that ever happened at Leeds, it was basically a load of kids in a sweetshop. O’Leary spent big amounts of money and wages were far too high for the type of player they were bringing in. Leeds’ average gate is around 30,000, but they’re trying to compete with clubs that are getting 70,000 fans in their grounds, like Man Utd and Chelsea. Chelsea were in a dire situation, but they were still able to find an owner that could an invest a lot money because of where the club was.
I think Ken Bates went to Elland Road believing that there would be a lot of people interested in investing in Leeds, but that hasn’t turned out to be the case. It’s interesting when you contrast Leeds’ misfortunes with a club that runs a tight ship, like Bolton, still smarting after the depature of Sam Allardyce. I think it was pretty obvious from the fact that he went for the England job last summer that Sam always intended to leave Bolton.