Monday, September 5, 2011

English Leagues the 70s: Derby County Leeds United Division One 1975 1976

1rst November 1975
Baseball Ground,

 After the upheaval at Elland Road, a man with ability to soothe a troubled club was needed for the hottest of managerial jobs. Despite the Clough affair, the club's stature ensured plenty of candidates and in Jimmy Armfield, United acquired a man with an excellent footballing brain and a calming influence. Quiet and unassuming, the pipe-smoking Armfield, aged 38, was relatively inexperienced on the managerial front, but had a long and distinguished playing career behind him. Born in Blackpool in September 1935, he played a record 568 League games for the Bloomfield Road club, was capped 43 times by England at right-back and skippered his country. His immaculate temperament earned him the nickname of 'Gentleman Jim' and in his first managerial post, at Bolton, he gained the Trotters the Third Division title in 1972-3. The Leeds board deliberated at length before announcing Armfield's appointment and he proved a steadying hand on the tiller as he guided Leeds through troubled waters.

United's League form improved but the poor start meant they could not retain their title, so Armfield concentrated his players' efforts on the European Cup. In that first season, he made few changes to the playing staff and relied on the hunger of older Leeds stars to take United to their first European Cup Final with a string of outstanding performances. Within a few months he had achieved what even Revie could not do, but luck deserted United in the Paris Final against Bayern Munich. After the riot by the hooligan element among United's support, Armfield's well-reasoned defence at the UEFA hearing helped cut United's European ban from four years to two. He went about the inevitable break-up of Revie's ageing aces quietly and efficiently, releasing Terry Cooper, Johnny Giles, Billy Bremner, Norman Hunter and Terry Yorath, and bringing in the immensely popular Tony Currie from Sheffield United, Burnley duo Brian Flynn and Ray Hankin, and skilful Scottish winger Arthur Graham from Aberdeen. When Leeds reached the FA Cup semi-final in 1977 and the League Cup semi-final ihe following year, it appeared that Armfield had the basis of a side which needed only time to bring the great days back to Elland Road. But Leeds could not wait and with League performances far short of past efforts, and with Armfield's new-look team still some way from improving matters, the manager was dismissed. Today, Armfield lends his vast experience of football to the roles of newspaper reporter and radio commentator.

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1 comment:

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