Sticks and Stones? Leeds Fans Pay Dearly for Salerno’s Hurt Feelings – by Rob Atkinson


Nicola Salerno - a delicate little flower

Nicola Salerno – a delicate little flower

Without wanting to get over-simplistic about this, the facts are as follows. Steve Thompson, the assistant coach that boss Neil Redfearn so wanted at Leeds, a man he head-hunted from Huddersfield Town, was suspended and told his contract would not be renewed – sacked, in effect – apparently for being heard using a derogatory word or two about United’s then Sporting Director Nicola Salerno. Since then, Leeds – who had been doing reasonably well – have lost four games on the trot, with morale seemingly having plummeted across the whole spectrum of fans, players and staff. Right up to that lonely, newly-isolated, probably doomed figure at the top of the football part of the club, the man who carries the can for mistakes made above even his head, Redders himself.

The main question over Redders’ future now would appear to be: will he jump, or wait to be pushed? To say that there are mixed messages coming out of the United hierarchy, higher up than humble Head Coach level, would be a masterpiece of understatement. Massimo Cellino was going to stay away, then we hear he’s coming back. Salerno, having suspended Thompson for hurting his poor, delicate feelings, seems to have ended his association with Leeds since. Thompson remains suspended, Redfearn remains frustrated, isolated, powerless – so it seems – to do the job he desperately wants to do.

You might say it’s a mess – but, again, you’d be accused of putting an unrealistic gloss on the situation. It’s much worse than a mess. It’s a farce, a pantomime, a badly-written black comedy. Doomed Blackpool, with their rapist part-owner and their long-inevitable relegation, might almost look at Leeds and say to themselves – well, we weren’t the only chaotic club in this league, were we? Cellino now faces further court dates over the immediate future – a time when any proper owner might be looking at his club and wondering how such an abysmally disappointing season could be improved upon next time around.

Cellino has to accept responsibility, even in absentia, for the way the club is being – for want of a more descriptive word – run. The men making the decisions on the ground are presumably there because Cellino wanted them there. Events are not bearing out the wisdom of many of those decisions, and the Thompson fiasco is a case in point. As one glum social media user tweeted, we were rubbish, then Thompson came and we did OK – then he’s sacked and we’re rubbish again. It’s not rocket science.

Leeds United and its fans deserve far better than this. Alright, no-one should be unsackable, and insubordination is not a matter to be taken lightly. But there are degrees of appropriate response – and if a vital member of the back-room staff has been removed simply because one incautious remark caused some offence in one over-sensitive director – then the fallout from that decision is utterly disproportionate to the seriousness of such a relatively innocuous situation. Four games since then, little fight, chaotic organisation on the pitch and off, no points, decimated morale – all because of one man’s hurt feelings. If that’s the way to run a football club, then I’m a bloody Tory.

The sooner this bunch of clowns do the right thing and sell their interest in our club to someone better able to run the place – i.e. almost anyone – the better for everybody, maybe even the clowns themselves, not that I care a slice of pizza for them. There is far too much of a feeling that certain individuals think themselves bigger than the club – and that can never be true. If Salerno has gone, then we have one less of those individuals and that’s a step in the right direction – but then, why not get Thompson back? If he’d be willing to come back, that is.

Now, the rest of them, the rest of those clueless idiots in the boardroom, should get out. Because Leeds United fans – even those of us who were prepared to give this regime a chance at the outset – have had enough. Much more than enough. Yet again, it’s time for change; this time we have to get it right. Leeds United is a global name; when you look at what has been achieved at relatively small and unknown (with all due respect) clubs such as Southampton and Swansea City – surely, then, the potential at Leeds is huge and realisable.

Manchester City defender Vincent Kompany feels that the so-called Financial Fair Play rules will mitigate against the likes of Leeds and Forest ever being successful again. I’m not so sure about that. David Batty on the other hand speaks optimistically, stating that we’ll be back towards the top soon. I’m not too sure about that either. But somewhere in between is a level we can still hit – and yet, the way things are now, we’re a million miles away even from that.

As a wise man once said, a journey of a million miles starts with a single step, but all our steps right now appear to be backward ones – it’s very tempting to talk here about the proverbial Italian tank with no forward and fifteen reverse gears. And yet, really, it would be misleading to talk about cowardice – it’s not even as forgiveable as that. It’s incompetence we’re seeing, indulgence of ego against the interests of the greater good. That’s what’s so hard to forgive.

It hasn’t worked, this Italian experiment. With the League dead set against Cellino, it’s highly unlikely it can ever work. Let’s all just acknowledge that, all of us – the owners too. Cut your losses, sell up, bugger off.

We’re Leeds United – and we’ve got a future to carve for ourselves, somewhere a lot higher up the game than the humiliating rut you’ve got us stuck in right now. Just go. In the name of God – GO.

 

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38 responses to “Sticks and Stones? Leeds Fans Pay Dearly for Salerno’s Hurt Feelings – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Please give us some hope, not the crap we’ve had for years now!

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    • Hope is in short supply around Leeds United right now.

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    • He was officially suspended due to “poor performance” but obvious that Cellino wanted to undermine Redfearn. Redders has overseen a loss in form which then gives Cellino an excuse to sack him and supposedly save face. However LEEDS fans have experienced Ken Bates, we arnt as ignorant or nieve as Massimo evidently hopes we are………..I want him out so much, its a build up – Bates — GFH and Cellino…….get LOST get away from our damn club you idiots !

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  2. Every single word bang on Rob. We cannot go on like this, being lambs to the slaughter but there just does not seem to be anybody with sufficient clout to bring this to a head. If nobody is listening, who can we shout at?
    No fans deserve this. We are the bread and butter and without us the club is nothing. I just will not accept that there is nobody out there who can come in and do what’s right for Leeds.MOT

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  3. Belfast White

    Absolutely right Rob. Was it even legal to suspend ST for alleged name calling? Surely an apology / discussion for the sake of the club could have sorted this out. Since when was a man’s ego more important than a club and the thousands of fans? I really hope when any of the clowns appear in directors’ box they are booed and shouted out of the ground.

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    • milano whites

      Spot on BM…and Cellino swears everytime he opens his mouth…farce…MOT/YRA…you know that’s Yorkshire mate and respect to you and yours

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  4. Nigel Baker

    A few questions, before anyone can pass judgement.

    – what exactly was said (was it a [insert-term]phobic remark, for instance)? In which case it’s a little more than a case of hurt feelings…
    – is Neil Redfearn that dependent on him, that he hasn’t been able to get two league points to rub together, since that incident?
    – why exactly did Salerno leave so quickly afterwards?
    – where the heck is Lucas the Kop Cat and what did he say to Salerno?
    – can we have Elly the Elephant back?
    – can’t we just enjoy being marginally better than relegation fodder?
    – vodka or whiskey before bed?

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    • milano whites

      Bloody hell mate…hadn’t noticed that Kop Kat had been sold until you pointed it out….in serious trouble now…love the banter lads…MOT

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  5. The question that should be asked is would anyone come back after whats gone on
    Writting on the wall,I personnally expected Redders to quit, suspicion of begging from the academy lads….for him not to
    Don

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  6. Leeds In De Da Land

    Cellino has goto away with an ajurnment, so he can come back sell the players he can get money for. Take the money from those sales (the club owes himalaya £12million.) Sell the club to another so called saviour.

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  7. Spot on Rob. The football club is in total free-fall, without Thompson by Redfearns side and I believe that puppet-master Cellino has orchestrated all of this, after Leeds became safe in the league, just maybe to save on Thompsons wages and try to upset Redfearn into resigning, again just to save on his wages.
    Cellino has taken Leeds backwards and is worse than Bates ever was and I would not be surprised if there is a divide between the players, particularly with Cellinos mates, Adryan, Antenucci, Doukara and Bellusci, all perhaps causing friction in the dressing room and on the training pitch.

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  8. Phil Allen

    This is your best ever post Rob because things are so bad at the moment.Elland Road needs a total clean out, starting with Cellino.

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  9. Rob Irish Leeds Fan here and big fan of your blog im struggling to keep my 9 year old on board he was totally dejected on Saturday after the defeat to Cardiff Rob I could see it in his face. My other 2 sons already support Premiership teams unfortunately one is a scum fan ( keeping asking the wife did she lift the wrong kid at the hospital) my 9 year old has to carry the burden of never seeing LEEDS in the bigtime. I think the point im trying to make Rob is we need to give the kids hope that we will be back but im struggling to find hope in the current situation. Leeds Utd need a revaloution

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    • milano whites

      Top post Jay. Lots of family young’uns who want to be Leeds, but think they get laughed at at school…MOT all our lads and lasses

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  10. colin gill

    Am I the only one who has taken note if this. Up until December under the guidance of the fans hero Neil Redfern, we were one point above the bottom three, relegation form. We then had Thompson come in, around January,the defence was sorted out and we started to climb the table and show something like top six form. Now since we have lost the services of Mr Thompson, not Redferns fault. We have regressed back to the form we showed prior to December.
    To me this is more than a coincidence it shows that Redfern just does not have it to compete in this league, not his fault, he just does not have the experience. He has never been a manager or coach at this level. It was shown up in the recent defeat against Blackburn when they were level at 0-0 and had a man sent off. Most coaches would have taken off a forward and had two banks of four, with still one forward lurking around the halfway line, occupying two of the Blackburn defenders, and with two banks of four challenging the opposition to get past them.
    What does Redfern do? He takes off both fullbacks and opens the door. That to me was the final straw as regards the ability he has shown as a coach good enough to take Leeds united forward.
    When, if, they get this mess sorted out if he is to stay he should go back to looking after the under twenty ones.

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    • Not even close…… I don’t think its so much about quality coaching, I think its about the damage to morale that Cellinos actions caused.
      1/ Redfearn knows hes set up for the high jump
      2/ Hes lost his assisistant
      3/ The players don’t know if they are coming or going, contracts are all on hold
      4/ No one knows who will own the club in the summer
      5/ The fans are demoralized as they now want new ownership (4th time lucky)
      Result ? LOSS LOSS LOSS LOSS

      That’s why !

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  11. David Dean

    I am sure Redders is quoted saying it is in his contract that before the last game of the season the option of another year has to be taken up or not. If Cellino does want him then I would hope he sees sense and reinstates Thommo – especially if Solerno has left. It seems impossible to second guess Cellino – he may not know himself yet, changes his mind so much and the ban at the moment is very convenient for him and can use it as an excuse to say he could do nothing during his ban. Could so easily reinstate Thommo and keep everything rosy for the coming season. Your guess is as good as mine but I will be very surprised if he sells up. I don’t think he could find a willing buyer if he wanted to. King of cock!

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  12. This is what things have come to…..as I was leaving the stadium last night (v Norwich), 2 Leeds fans started arguing, 1 fan was saying how he was sick of what was going on with the club (on and off the pitch) and he stated to his mate that he wouldn’t be renewing his ST until things started to improve. another fan took him to task stating he should follow the club through thick and thin, a huge argument started and got more and more heated until yes you’ve guessed it, punches were thrown. I could have cried TBH, as Rob says, what a state we are in, go home Massimo, and take your entourage with you

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  13. Apparently Cellino will be attending the end of season dinner – I’m sure he’ll get plenty of ‘advice’ – hope he’s got a taxi waiting outside

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  14. I strongly feel there is a serious over reaction to Thompson leaving.
    A journeyman coach, suddenly turned into a cross between Guardiola and Cryuff? Really?
    Shouldn’t the players be playing for Leeds Utd? Nor Redfearn, not Thompson, but Leeds Utd? Does Redfearn pay there wages? Does Thompson?
    How far do you have to go to keep a coach? What if he’d called Salerno something once, twice, three times? what if hed ranted for 5 mins? What if he’d chinned him and then kicked him on the floor? where do you draw the line? What if he’d called Salerno a name, then done it constantly ever since, drawing sniggers from the teame every time Salerno had shown his face, knowing he wasnt going to be punished? Would that have been ok too? I agree with most of what you write, but to blame Redfearn for underachieving [with good youngsters] on Thompson leaving is far too simplistic and plain wrong.

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    • I think you could answer your own question about where the line is drawn – i.e. somewhere between the first couple of situations you posit. No need to talk about chinning or kicking the guy that I can see – it just detracts from what I presume is your attempt to be coolly rational.

      As for playing for Leeds and “there” wages – how can you say that and then harp on about me being simplistic? That’s TWO bullets in your own foot.

      The truth is, of course, that the equilibrium at any professional club or team is a delicate thing, easily destroyed. The Redfearn/Thompson combo had dragged us clear of relegation – good job really. The ham-fisted removal of Thompson has wrecked that fine balance, and we’re in free fall again – luckily too late to go down.

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  15. You say sell the club – “almost anyone” could run it better. I recall that “anyone but Bates” was the cry not long ago – well, look where that got us!
    GHF managed to lose the club £23M in one season. As Bates had at least run the club on a break-even basis, it didn’t take much working out that reducing entrance prices and increasing wages would lead to that. Cellino doesn’t seem to have any understanding that English football is not the same as Italian football – in any way.
    Almost anyone? The proverb is right – be careful what you wish for, it may come true. It has – twice – in recent times.

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    • Well there’s positive and constructive, I don’t think. If we finally have a bit of luck next tim, and get someone GOOD for Leeds United – will you have a tinge of regret that you can’t say “Ha! Told you so…”

      I sometimes wonder what it’s really about for some of you out there.

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  16. wetherby white

    whats plain wrong with Marks post above is the staggering arrogance of the “board” to release no information to the fans over Thompsons dismissal. When you make what appears to be a staggeringly bad decision for a football club then you’d best come out and try and justify yourself. The arrogant silence makes a bad situation even worse.
    Not only has it ended our season in an instant, it has also no doubt given the grubby, money grabbing agents (there is no other type) of the young players a perfect opportunity to exploit the uncertaintiy that now hangs over us again.
    Whats happened to Umbers? After his dyslexic tweet – nothing.

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  17. ‘Harp on’? I think i said it once. I didn’t realize disagreeing with hysteria is ‘harping’.
    Not sure either how suspending a coach for obvious disciplinary reasons is a ‘ham-fisted removal’
    It is actually simplistic – the players play for Leeds Utd, the white shirt, and for money – not for for some journeyman coach who was there for 5 mins.
    If they have stopped playing because a coach was removed, then remove the trouble makers from the team.
    Also if Thompson was that good, maybe we should sack Redfearn and employ Thompson as head coach?

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    • And I think you have a rather hormonal view of what constitutes hysteria – and that you’re talking rubbish.

      I can’t put it any more plainly or fairly than that.

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    • milano whites

      Look at how well we were doing with RF/ST…bit obvious lad.

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    • milano whites

      Mark…yer just being another WUM poster who cares more about yer comments than the community and team. Go to YEP mate if yer want to pose and spare us suffering lot yer ego….please lad cos yer putting us right off the whole thing…MOT/YRA muckers

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  18. RedHeadedAnimal

    What makes this whole episode even more unsavory is that there is so little credibility to it in the first place and full of inconsistencies.

    The allegation being that Thompson called Salerna a “retard” in the tunnel after the Fulham game. Why would he do that? The atmosphere, as you might expect after a 3-0 away win was said to be euphoric in the tunnel – so it seems at odds for an altercation to have happened.

    Salerna is also said to have been very well liked at Leeds and regarded as a “gent”. So why the insult? He as also said to have been hugging and backslapping Neil Redfearn in the tunnel – doesn’t sound like a man who has been insulted and disrespected.

    And of course, can we guess how many other witnesses there were to this? No one we are aware of…..oh, apart from Adam Pope who was in the tunnel the whole time. If he heard that, as a journalist, he isn’t going to sit on that information.

    You really don’t need a wild imagination, or be a wacky conspiracy theorist to think of what the ulterior motives behind this.

    Leeds Utd is bigger than you Massimo. Just go.

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  19. There has been a power struggle going on between Umbers and Salerno and due to the FL ban Cellino cant get involved .My guess is Salerno is pissed off because Cellino put Umbers as chairman,and not him.This has caused the shit to hit the fan .In18 days Cellino will be back then we will all now what the fuck is going on until then my advice to all fans relax and dont panic,

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  20. Not sure its salernos fault rob, the guys resigned hasn’t he. Personally I reckon cellino wants all the limelight, so sacked Thompson to force redders hand. Salerno then resigns because he doesn’t want to be the scapegoat. The guy seems well respected in Italian football. Might also be why child resigned.

    Kompany, I agree with, FFP is just a wheeze to keep the likes of Madrid, Barcelona, the scummers, the blue southern scummers and bayern at the head of the feast and keep out “upstarts” like city and psg (despite the blue southern scummers being the ultimate small club with rich owner)

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  21. milano whites

    Fantastically poetic second paragraph lad…love it…MOT/YRA

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  22. Spot on Rob, Cellino’s ego proven to be bigger than his so called best interests of our great club. Sacking of Thompson has effectively destroyed any momentum we had built in the 2nd half of the season but more concerning is with Redders likely to go too what will happen to our academy stars and who would be mad enough to take on the head coach role!! Be very worried for next season as there could also be more sub standard Italian signings & puppet coach that will see us go into Blackpool like meltdown. Cellino’s simply has to go and let’s just hope it’s in time for new owners to save Redders and academy stars. To get back to the Prem though it’s a simple fact that money talks so fingers crossed for owners with financial clout that see the huge potential for Leeds.

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    • I can’t understand why this hasn’t happened up to now – when you look at what responsible yet ambitious ownership has done for the likes of Southampton.

      Like

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