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  • 20/01/15 - Full Time: Leeds United 1 (Murphy 36), Bournemouth 0
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20 Jan 2015 02:04pm, by Shields53

It wasn’t long ago that Leeds fans would have baulked at the sight of Luke Murphy in the middle of midfield. The million pound man from Crewe Alexandra had a lot of expectation on his shoulders when he was singed ahead of the start of the 2013-2014 season but he failed to live up to the hype.

He was GFH Capital’s big statement, only statement as it turns out, and the pressure was on for him to perform. As the season went on Murphys form was inconsistent and he came in for a lot of criticism from the Leeds fans as often happens when players do not live up to their expectations. The poor form continued into this season and on the rare occasion when Murphy has played the same weaknesses in his game were apparent, the sending off against Bradford City being a particular lowlight.

In the last few weeks though Murphy has been reborn. Having not featured since October Murphy was selected for the FA Cup game against Sunderland as Redfearn cast aside the shackles of the diamond and played a different formation and different players. Murphy was solid if unspectacular but has not been out of the squad since. Against Bolton he had the most touches of any Leeds player at 57, his closest rival being his midfield partner Rudy Austin with 52. He even had the most shots at 5 but failed to hit the target with any. His willingness to receive the ball and get stuck in defensively marked him out as one of the top performers for many Leeds fans.

His revival continued against Birmingham with a man of the match performance. Again he had the most touches with 72 but this time he backed it up with good passing too. A total of 53 passes, the most of any player, with a passing accuracy of 83%, 7 crosses and 5 key passes. He backed up his performance in defence too with 2 tackles and 2 interceptions but it was going forward where the headlines were written. Murphy has 3 shots, 2 on target and most importantly 1 goal which gave Leeds a share of the points. Neil Redfearn, only too aware of Murphys time in the wilderness, was quick to praise his attitude after the game;

“To be fair to Luke, he has come in after having his nose pushed out for a while. But his atittude has been fantastic. I thought last year when he came in for a little bit of criticism for being a big-money signing that he never hid. He wants the ball all the time and never hides and always gets it. If he makes a mistake, it doesn’t faze him and he keeps getting on it. I admire that grit and determination.”

As unlikely as it may have seemed just a few weeks ago Murphys name will be one of the first on the team sheet tonight as we take on Bournemouth at Elland Road. We have been crying out for some Championship experience in this transfer window to help in the relegation fight, but if Murphy continues to play as he has in recent weeks what we have been looking for may have been under our noses all along. Credit must also go to Steve Morison who has provided something different in recent games and whilst he has not been clinical in front of goal himself he could be the perfect foil for Billy Sharp or Mirco Antenucci. On average this season we have created 4 more chances per game when Morison has been on the pitch.

Tonight will be a tough challenge with Bournemouth flying high at the top of the table having won 6 of their last 7 games. Leeds have not won in 8 games in any competition. History is on the side of Leeds though, Bournemouth have only one 1 of the 12 meetings between the two clubs and Leeds have won all 6 matches at Elland Road. We also took the spoils earlier this season winning 3-1 back in September with goals from Doukara, Bellusci and Antenucci.

19 Jan 2015 01:11pm, by Shields53

Massimo Cellino today learned that his appeal against the recent decision by the Board of The Football League that he is subject to a disqualifying condition has been rejected. The Professional Conduct Committee chaired by Tim Kerr QC, the same body and individual who last year ruled in Cellinos favour, this time ruled against Cellino following the disclosure of the Italian court papers.

The Football League declared that Cellino was subject to a disqualifying condition back in December following the release to them of the papers relating to the his conviction in March of last year in an Italian court for non-payment of tax on a yacht called Nelie. Cellino has previously convinced Tim Kerr QC that “what he was convicted of was not conduct which would reasonably be considered to be dishonest” but the new evidence has mad the Football League and the PCC decide otherwise. The judgement read;

“We consider that the judge’s findings of fact and her description of Mr. Cellino’s state of mind based on them, is of conduct which would reasonably be considered to be dishonest. We therefore conclude that Mr.Cellino has been convicted of an offence involving a ‘Dishonest Act’ within the meaning of the rules, and that he is accordingly subject to a Disqualifying Condition.”

As a result of the decision Cellino is disqualified from acting as a ‘Relevant Person’ at the club and now has two days to step down from his position. The disqualification applies until the 10th April 2015 when Cellinos Italian conviction is deemed spent. The Football League has stated they will “Provide any assistance requested by Leeds United to help it minimise, as far as possible, the effect this decision has on the club”. In addition to the appeal being rejected there is now also a further charge against Cellino for ‘failing to supply the Italian Court judgment to The Football League when it first became available’, this will be heard by the Football Disciplinary Commission in due course.

Official club statement: “Mr Cellino would like to thank the fans, sponsors and members of the wider footballing community that have given him overwhelming support, not just since the disqualifying order was issued but since he arrived at the club. We are surprised and disappointed by the verdict, however we are continuing to take legal advice.”

The question is what next for Leeds, it raises many questions about both the short term and long term future of the club? It sounds from the club statement that they will take further legal advice on the issue and could appeal the decision through the courts but surely that would be a long winded affair. Cellino was making worrying noises about the “future of the club” after Saturdays game and during the appeal club director Andrew Umbers told the committee there was “a real likelihood of insolvency” if Cellino lost the appeal. The Football League dismissed these claims but it does paint a worrying picture.

More will revealed by the club in the next two days by the club, the announcement of Cellino stepping down and who will fill the void will have to come quickly but the long term leadership of the club may be uncertain with Cellino due to face another case in the Italian courts for tax evasion. It does leave us like a rudderless ship, subject to a transfer embargo and even more unlikely to make signings with Cellino out of the picture. A point against Birmingham on Saturday was much needed but we still hover just above the relegation places and without direction the drop is a real possibility.

Further Reading:
Football League Statement
The Full PCC’s Judgment
Leeds United Official Statement

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