Talking Leeds United with… Various Cruelties

Various Cruelties singer Liam O'Donnell discusses his beloved Leeds United
Various Cruelties...heart says promotion

Various Cruelties release their third single “Chemicals”, another energetic blast of infectious, faintly Motown-y love-pop, on October 3rd – so, to celebrate, Football Burp caught up with lead singer and songwriter Liam O’Donnell for a ruddy good natter about his beloved Leeds United, who currently lie 13th in the Championship after a decidedly mixed start to the seson…

Did you watch the Crystal Palace game last weekend?

I watched the highlights. We were 2-1 down but we won 3-2, which was a big result for Leeds, really.

It must have been a big boost to have Luciano Becchio back in the side.

Yeah, obviously we missed him for five months or whatever, although partially over the close season. He’s the main man for us up front.

Did you manage from the highlights to get an idea of Mikael Forssell’s contribution from the bench?

Yeah, I thought he looked relatively decent. If he can get anywhere near the form that he showed at Birmingham then he’d be a great addition. He’s come on a free so he’s obviously not quite at his peak but if hopefully he can get back to that form at Leeds.

You’ve got some more good youngsters coming through, such as Charlie Taylor who made his debut at left-back…

Yeah, 17 isn’t he? Leeds have got a good record of bringing through young players. We’ve sold Danny Rose and Aaron Lennon to Spurs in the last few years. And obviously there’s James Milner as well. So the tradition of bringing young players through is still going quite well.

Ross McCormack added another couple to his recent tally. What do you think of the impact he’s made?

He wasn’t in the greatest of form last season but he’s started this season really well. We’re alright going forward – it’s just at the back where we’ve got problems. We should have strengthened our defence over the summer.

Do you think Paddy Kisnorbo has been quite the same since his long absence through injury?

It’s hard to say – I think they’re all struggling a bit at the back. Hopefully they can get a few clean sheets together.

What would you say your expectations are for this season?

Well, I’d like to say promotion but I’ll probably say playoffs at best. My heart says promotion but my head says playoffs!

Both your manager and your chairman seem to divide opinion. How do you feel about Simon Grayson and Ken Bates respectively?

I think Grayson’s done a great job with the circumstances he’s had to face. It goes without saying that he’s not had a lot of money to spend but I think he’s done a great job, to be honest with you. With the whole Bates thing, it’s probably not the smartest move in any popularity contest to call the fans “morons”. The fans aren’t daft – they go to the game and they can see that Leeds are conceding too many goals. When players are getting sold and not getting replaced adequately, fans are going to start asking questions, aren’t they?

Neil Kilkenny returns to Elland Road tomorrow with Bristol City. Did that seem like a strange move to you?

It’s a bit of a sideways move, isn’t it? It’s one of those moves that suggests that things aren’t quite right under the surface because, traditionally, you’d consider Leeds to be a bigger club than Bristol City. Hopefully it’s not something to be too concerned about but it’s a strange move, all things considered.

Confident of beating Manchester United again?

(Laughs) Obviously I’d like us to beat Man U but unfortunately they seem to be setting a new level so far this season. Rooney’s on fire and they’ve got some great youngsters coming through.

You must be quite busy with the band at the moment but, over the years, have you managed to get to Elland Road much?

Yeah, I used to have a season ticket before I moved down to London. I kind of get to go to more away games these days – we seemed to play in London quite a lot last year – but when I’m in Leeds I do try to get to Elland Road.

Would you be able to name the first, best and worst games you’ve ever been to?

The first game I went to was probably the 1996 Coca Cola Cup final at Wembley, when Aston Villa beat us 3-0 and Savo Milosevic scored that great goal. That was a long journey back.

The best game was probably Leeds beating AC Milan at Elland Road. Lee Bowyer scored in the last minute – I remember that well. We got a draw out in Milan as well. That run [to the Champions League semi-finals] was pretty incredible, really.

The worst game was probably when we were relegated. Everybody knew that Leeds were on a bit of a downwards spiral but if we’d managed to stay up for a few more seasons and got more money then we might have been able to weather the storm. As soon as we got relegated from the Premiership, we were in free fall and ended up having to sell players for less than they were worth.

Finally, if you had to name a five-a-side team out of all the Leeds players you’ve seen in your time as a fan, who would you pick?

If I could pick one player that I’ve seen, purely on footballing terms, it would probably be a bit of a controversial one – Eric Cantona! But instead I’ll go for: Nigel Martyn, Rio Ferdinand, Gary McAllister, Aaron Lennon and Mark Viduka.

No Tony Yeboah?

He was probably one of my first heroes but I don’t know if he’d score that many. He scored a lot of long-range goals, which isn’t that useful in five-a-side!

Liam, thank you.

"Chemicals", the new single by Various Cruelties

Various Cruelties release Chemicals on Monday 3rd October 2011 through Hideout Recordings. For more information, please visit www.variouscruelties.com