Daily Archives: 31/05/2014

Dear Massimo…. A Postcard From Filey to Leeds – by Rob Atkinson

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Dear Massimo

Weather beautiful, having a lovely time – wish you were here. In fact, I really wish you were here. There are a couple of questions that, given such a golden opportunity, I’d like to ask you. Things appear to be happening at Elland Road, just as this blog’s back is turned – a small matter of a silver wedding anniversary to celebrate. You know the way it is. How is the family, by the way? Anyway, as I was saying, change appears to be afoot down LS11 – and some of us out here are less than sure about the way things are going.

Personally, I’ve only had my eye off the ball for twenty-four hours or so – yet in that time, it transpires that the club is yet again unable to pay the playing staff. On the other hand, somebody appears to have found sufficient loose change – perhaps down the back of one of those banqueting suite sofas – to compass the demise of the manager. Whatever we out here may think of Brian’s predictable fate – and you’ll be aware, Massimo, that there are at least two schools of thought on that one – can the club really afford to be reaching settlements when the blokes at the sharp end aren’t getting their wages? We’ve heard the usual phrases – gentlemen’s agreement, mutual consent – but let’s face it, there’s always a few bob involved. One and a half million quid is what I’d heard. I know Brian’s a gent – a rare thing at Leeds United – but there’s a limit.

As far as this blog is concerned, no fuss will be made about the managerial change we could all see coming. New brooms tend to sweep clean, and no takeover is without its casualties. Being grown-up, sensible types, we know this. But given that mature and pragmatic outlook, what we crave above all is clarity – a few outbursts of frankness and information-sharing. If we know what’s going on, we tend to be happier and a bit more tractable. This is a significant consideration at that season-ticket selling time of the year.

The matter of our departed manager Brian is a case in point – but it’s not the only example of confusion arising out of mixed messages. We’d heard variously that you wanted to work with Brian, that you didn’t need a manager, that you couldn’t understand why the manager was at his poorly mum’s bedside rather than at his desk, and that you were astounded he hadn’t resigned. We have the likes of Lorimer and Gray to try and explain the meaning of this and other mixed bags – but you might concede that it’s not easy to pick the bones out of it all.

Would that it were only the managerial situation that’s causing such a mass scratching of heads – but things are confusing and bewildering in a wider sense, too. There’s the stadium and the now chained and padlocked training ground. It seems a long time now since you were speaking breezily of assuming control one day, and then nipping down the nearest ATM to withdraw enough cash to buy Elland Road the next. All of that early determination to act swiftly and decisively appears to have dissipated. We can well believe that you’ve found the odd skeleton in the closet – a mass grave and a veritable boneyard would not surprise us, given the immense dodginess of your immediate predecessors, to say nothing of the one before – or the chap currently in police custody in Dubai. We fans were ready for bleak news about the mess at Leeds United. What we’re really after is a revised statement of intentions in the light of the bodies you’ve dug up so far. For example, last I heard on Elland Road was the hope that it might come back under club ownership by November. Is that still the plan? It wouldn’t be surprising if it was becoming unlikely. But it’d be good to know.

Transfer policy is another thing. Mixed messages again there. Various younger Cellinos have been active on social media, outlining recruitment plans that appear to include Serie A players, an English left-back, and so on. The news from higher up is more confusing. Next season might well be one of fire-fighting and consolidation, we are told. But the club captain’s ambitions run more to a promotion challenge – and that’s quite reasonable, really. As a footballer, time is not on his side.

We are a little worried and unsettled out here, Massimo. Actually, that is to understate the case by quite a bit. Some clarity is badly needed – some good news would be welcome, too. In the absence of those two desirable factors, nerves are being shredded out here and fingernails nibbled. That’s hardly conducive to the making of financial commitments such as the purchase of highly-expensive season tickets – even if the club’s banking situation were sufficiently up and running to receive such payments. And we’re getting idiots from the likes of West Ham and no-mark clubs like that taking the mick, for God’s sake – how humiliating can it get?? We’re wondering, some of us, if it’s Fred Karno’s Army we’re following – rather than Super Leeds.

Sorry to be a nag – I know you’re busy. But all this gloominess and uncertainty is fair putting me off my cockles and mussels. So if there’s any chance of some positive tidings…? Thanks ever so.

Meanwhile, the weather continues fine on the East Coast’s golden sands. Off to Whitby today. Will write again soon. All the best!!

Rob

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