Championship Football: Leeds United v Hull City
Elland Road, Saturday 5th December, 3pm
A football club which seems to suffer disaster after disaster, Leeds United’s home fixture against Hull City this weekend promises to be no different.
The club’s owner, Massimo Cellino, who can safely be said to be less than popular amongst the Elland Road faithful, has instituted a so-called ‘pie tax’ on the South Stand and faces a protest from their supporters’ group, South Stand SS5. Hiking the prices of tickets by £5 due to the inclusion of a ‘meal deal’ voucher, Cellino’s actions have been described as ‘outrageous’ by leading supporters. In protest, South Stand SS5 have planned a walkout 17 minutes into the match as Cellino is known to dislike the number 17.
A club hierarchy which has seemingly prided itself on the consistent exploitation of its own supporters, Cellino will be hoping that Saturday’s game goes by without incident. Perhaps this is unlikely, but then again there is nothing like a good steak and ale to suppress revolutionary spirit.
Spanish Football: Valencia v Barcelona
The Mestalla, Saturday 5th December, 19:30 Sky Sports 2
After four years of commenting on what managers have been doing right and wrong in the Premier League, Manchester United legend Gary Neville has accepted the vacant managerial position at Valencia to try his own luck in the hotseat. Going the way of Luis Suarez, Gareth Bale and Luka Modric by swapping the dreary north for the Iberian sunshine, Neville will be hoping to replicate some of their success in Spain alongside his assistant coach and brother, Phil.
This has caused an explosive reaction on Twitter and beyond, with many expecting big things from the Mancunian. Spanish football expert, Graham Hunter, has said that if Gary was already fluent in Spanish he would forecast no lower than a third place finish this year and second next season – high praise from a rookie in a league with arguably the world’s two biggest clubs at its peak.
Gary will be able to watch his new side in action against one of these from the stands this weekend as Catalan treble-winners Barcelona make a visit to the Mestalla. Free-scoring and now at full strength in attack with Lionel Messi’s recovery from injury, Barcelona will be looking to strengthen their position at the top with a win over the currently mid-table Valencians. Most eyes will undoubtedly be on Neville, though, and whether what little contact he will have had with his players can inspire his charges to achieve a special result after their poor start to the season. If a top-four finish is going to happen for them, this would be the perfect place to start.