Wolves at the door

Jones' boys floor champions and push desperate Leeds closer to oblivion
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The Independent Football

Wolverhampton Wanderers are selling "We are Premier League" pennants at half-price in the club shop, but their players refuse to accept the prospect of relegation after one season. In an act of glorious defiance they climbed off the bottom of the table yesterday by beating the champions and leaders, Manchester United, 1-0 at Molineux.

As a result, Arsenal need only one point from their visit to Aston Villa today to replace United at the top of the table. Wolves are off the bottom, thanks to Leeds United's 2-1 defeat at Southampton, and they have a game in hand at home on Wednesday to Liverpool, who lost 2-1 at Tottenham yesterday.

Kenny Miller, a young Scot, scored his first Premiership goal for Wolves to win the game after a slip by Wes Brown, who had come on in the second half to replace the injured Rio Ferdinand. It will be up to an appeals tribunal to decide when Ferdinand returns. Having opted to begin his ban on Tuesday for failing to take a drugs test, he hopes to have it reduced from the eight-month suspension imposed before Christmas.

United's more immediate problem as they train in Dubai this week is to rediscover some scoring form after 231 minutes without a goal. They will want to do so before Sunday's FA Cup tie at Northampton, where they once won 8-2, but in the meantime Sir Alex Ferguson is likely to step up his attempts to buy either Louis Saha of Fulham or Leeds United's Mark Viduka. "I thought we controlled the match," Ferguson said of yesterday's game, though few agreed with him. "We've dropped points when we haven't scored goals and that's the area we're looking at."

Leeds, without Viduka who is on compassionate leave and seven others, scored once, through the defender Matthew Kilgallon, but in the remaining 15 minutes had no luck at all in front of goal. Then again Southampton, having started slowly with their leading scorer James Beattie left on the bench, had looked to be cruising at 2-0 before Kilgallon struck. You make your own luck in football, as the saying goes, and Leeds were the architects of their current unfortunate state. Another game older and deeper in debt - not to mention relegation trouble - they owe their soul to the company financiers. And the date that matters to them arrives not in May, but tomorrow.

Leeds are appealing to those financiers to find it in their hearts to offer an extension of the "standstill agreement" on their loan repayments. However, even if they do prove sympathetic the celebrations will be short-lived. The club will still probably need to raise £5 million to avoid going into administration before the end of the season and that would mean selling a player who actually belongs to Leeds. Since financiers are still owed the money that paid for Viduka, that makes Alan Smith the likely option. What price a talisman? Best ask one of the people who created this mess. They knew the price of everything.

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