You definitely needed an official programme last night at ELLAND ROAD, home of Leeds United, to find out who was playing for the home team, such has been the transfer frenzy of new owner MASSIMO CELLINO.
The Italian, who sold Cagliari recently and moved to West Yorkshire-well along with his other home in sunny Florida- has appointed a relatively unknown head coach by the name of David Hockaday. Two years ago the programme was priced at £4.00, the most expensive in the country. Last season it was reduced to £3.00 and last night £2.00 was the going price. I bought a concessionary ticket in the East Stand for £6.00 and full paying fans at £12.00 were entitled to bring in up to 5 kids for a quid (£1 each).
With lowly Accrington Stanley from Division 2 the opposition, a useful crowd of 13,400 showed up in the drizzle, about 5-6 times the average Stanley home attendance. We had the newly signedgiant ebony skinned French national SOULEYMANE DOUKARA, a season long loan signing from Catania of Italy alongside another giant, the more easily pronounced MATT SMITH. He scored 13 goals last season after being signed from Oldham Athletic, but has missed more than that with clumsy footwork. He is useful with his size to knock on crosses into the box for his team mates. There is controversy as to whether he will be offered another contract or might depart for rivals Millwall soon.
Doukara was an INSTANT HIT with the fans, with two superb goals in the first half, and he received a well deserved standing ovation when he was substituted late in the match. We have Gaetano Bernardi a Swiss national from Sampdoria, Nicky Ajose, English/Nigerian from Peterborough United who also received applause, Zan Benedicic, a Slovenian from AC MIlan, Tommaso Bianchi an Italian signed from Sassuolo and two goalkeepers. Stuart Taylor from Reading and ex Arsenal, Aston Villa and Manchester City played last night but Marco Silvestri signed from Chievo is expected to start against Middlesborough on Saturday in league action.
We have had 8 new signings including 21 year old centre back Giudeppe Bellusci last night at 7.00pm and Liam Cooper from Chesterfield is expected to sign today after United increased their offer from £475,000 to £600,000 plus which could rise to £800,000. Southampton's Billy Sharp could take the tally to teen later in the week.
Being on the entrance to the M^2 from Liverpool and Manchester to Hull, a 75p fare on the football special outside the ground had me back in Leeds city centre in 5 minutes flat. James Beattie's red uniformed team were picked apart in the first half but managed a goal just before the end from James Gray and then there was a straight red card for Bernardi at the end for a waist high tackle which will receive at least a three match ban.
It's going to be a wild ride in West Yorkshire this season under the outspoken Cellino, but surely a more pleasant experience than under the previous Middle East owners who had little wealth in cash or ideas.