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The lowdown on Leeds

Posted on 22 February 2001  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

Getting through an interview without mentioning the age of his team, and fondly referring to the players as his 'young pups' was a tricky one for David O'Leary last season. As tricky as not mentioning his injury list this time around. <P class=MsoBodyText>Yes, Leeds United are a fine&nbsp&#59;young side, but maybe he over-egged it a little&nbsp&#59;- even if he was simply trying to take the pressure off his charges during what was a fine season for the Yorkshiremen. <P class=MsoBodyText>The trouble with productive seasons is that supporters and media alike expect the following one to be productive in terms of trophies. The expectation level soars while opposition teams are just that little bit cannier when it comes to countering a well-hyped threat. The element of surprise has, for the most part, gone. <P class=MsoBodyText>That, along with the aforementioned injury list, might explain why, despite showing commendable poise in the Champions League, including Wednesday's magnificent win in Anderlecht, the 'young pups' are not exactly Crufts material yet. <P class=MsoBodyText>Even allowing for the most unwelcome distraction of four players preparing for and currently facing court proceedings, it is difficult to explain away logically a season that has seen Leeds defeat European powerhouses Lazio and AC Milan yet drop points against each of the bottom eight in the Premiership. <P class=MsoBodyText>A similar situation befell Chelsea last season and eventually cost Gianluca Vialli his job. That is highly unlikely to happen to O'Leary, a talented manager who enjoys the full backing of progressive chairman Peter Ridsdale. <P class=MsoBodyText>Ridsdale has bankrolled his man. Since the end of last term, Leeds have shopped at the top end of the market. Arrivals have included players of the calibre of Olivier Dacourt, Mark Viduka and Dominic Matteo. More recently, Ridsdale and O'Leary have pulled a couple of expensive rabbits out of the Elland Road hat. <IMG align=left src="../title_images/leetot_action1.jpg"> <P class=MsoBodyText>Whether Ridsdale's hand was trembling when writing out a cheque for &pound&#59;18m has not been revealed, but write it he did to finally end the chase for Rio Ferdinand. The elegant West Ham defender had long been a target for former elegant defender O'Leary. <P class=MsoBodyText>The squad strengthening did not end there. Next up was Republic of Ireland international striker Robbie Keane, drafted in on loan from Inter Milan with an option to buy his services secured in the deal. <P class=MsoBodyText>Keane has certainly livened things up a bit, scoring six goals in seven Premiership games since his arrival. Without the injured Michael Bridges, Alan Smith and Viduka's goal threat was receding slightly, hence the recruitment of the sparky Irishman. <P class=MsoBodyText>Both Keane and Ferdinand fit perfectly into O'Leary's vision for a brighter Leeds future&nbsp&#59;- young, gifted and domestically produced. A healthy home-grown policy is viewed as vital by senior figures in the game, and it will be particularly evident on both sides at the Lane on Saturday. <P class=MsoBodyText>The double swoop met with the approval of the Frenchman Dacourt, who is performing for his fourth club in as many years. He also indicated that meeting expectations has not come easy this season. <P class=MsoBodyText>"Now, I've no need to change because the club is very ambitious - like me - and I want to continue playing for such a big club and in such a big team. "Obviously, it has been a difficult season for many reasons - injuries and other things - but also particularly because of the expectations. <IMG align=right src="../title_images/leetot_action3.jpg"> <P class=MsoBodyText>"After what happened with Leeds last season when they performed so well, everyone was expecting something similar from us this season. But the results are starting to improve and we now have quality throughout the squad so I know we will be a very big team in the future." <P class=MsoBodyText>A youthful outlook has been adopted by other teams with pretensions of eventually challenging Manchester United - it is now generally accepted that success must be created and nurtured rather than simply waving fistfuls of Euros in the direction of mainland Europe. <P class=MsoBodyText>But it does take time. Despite the recent expenditure, and the growing stature of the club as a whole, it may still be a while before an extra order of Brasso is required at Elland Road, but Leeds fans certainly seem to be enjoying the ride. <P><I>By Richard Hubbard<?xml:namespace prefix = o /><o:p></o:p></SPAN></I>