Divide and Rule: Cellino Deliberately Pits Leeds Fans Against Sam Byram   –   by Rob Atkinson


Cellino - it's my way or the highway...

Cellino – it’s my way or the highway…

So, Massimo Cellino is all over the media, bemoaning a player’s ungrateful refusal of a new contract. We’ve heard it all before, haven’t we – though, thanks to a certain Adam Pearson, not so much lately. But now, with Pearson gone, the shackles seem to be off il Duce – and he’s giving vent to a familiar refrain as yet another quality wearer of the white shirt is eased (not-so-gently) through the Elland Road exit door.

It seems certain now that Sam Byram – coveted by clubs of far higher current status than our own beloved Leeds – will be taking himself off to one of those clubs before too many more moons have waxed and waned. On the wane beyond dispute has been Sam’s form this season. A footballer’s effectiveness is a fine-tuned thing, as highly-strung as a skittish thoroughbred, and something has certainly affected Byram this term. Whatever that might be – interest from the top flight, a benevolent offer from Cellino of a pay cut for a new contract, or perhaps a combination of the two – the situation will hardly be smoothed over by the owner’s unfortunate habit of tossing controversial comments, like live hand grenades, broadcast into the media scrum.

The difficulty for Leeds United is that, between Cellino’s ego and Byram’s youthful obduracy, the scope for further negotiation now seems narrow to non-existent. This being the case, we appear certain to see what will ultimately be a multi-million pound talent leaving United for what will amount to a song. There’s pride and principles on both sides, no doubt – but the economics of that outcome are just pure madness from an Elland Road point of view. 

Leeds are clearly preparing for a Sam-less future. At one point, the received wisdom was that a new winger or two would see Byram move back to a right-flank defensive role in which he previously excelled, all but snuffing out the potent threat of Gareth Bale one famous FA Cup afternoon at Elland Road, as Spurs were sent packing. But this past few days, it’s become more difficult to see a first team berth for a jaded Sam, with three quality wide attackers on the staff and in-favour full-back Gaetano Berardi signed up for another two years. The writing is clearly on the wall – but that bitter pill might be sweetened by some mega-club owner’s signature on a nice, fat cheque. Alas, it seems unlikely to happen thus – and the finger of blame for that really must point directly at Massimo Cellino.

It’s been a welcome change, until quite recently, to hear the golden sound of silence coming from the direction of erstwhile Motormouth Massimo. There’s been less angst and less anxiety with that sensible Mr. Pearson doing the talking. But, now that he’s run, or been pushed, off to the Far East and Hull FC’s inscrutable problems, it’s as if someone’s de-muzzled Massimo, and the familiar fusillade of soundbites has resumed, to no true Leeds fan’s delight or delectation. This past few days, we’ve heard the Italian’s views on Byram, Matt Child, Uwe Rösler and God knows what-all. It’s been the opposite situation to the relief you feel when you stop banging your head against the wall. Regrettably, it appears that the head-banging has resumed at Leeds – and we’re now shorn of that calming, restraining influence that made for a placid summer and early season. If Rösler’s ample forehead has acquired a few new worry lines, is it really any wonder?

Of course, it’s Cellino’s club and he’s a right to his say. But is it really too much to ask that such a gift for self-expression might be tempered by a bit of judgement and consideration here and there? Mouthing off in the media about Byram’s contract-renewal negotiations is hardly constructive. At best, it’s a breach of confidence. At worst, it’s a blatant attempt to set the club’s more gullible fans against one young man, who has a finite career to think of – and who might quite reasonably be casting a jaundiced eye on offers that may or may not amount to a pay cut. And this could so easily destabilise the whole club (after all, what player likes to see his team-mate’s contract linen being washed in public?) – just because of one man’s ego and the current lack of any third party restraint. 

This blog is on record as saying that Sam Byram is dispensable – albeit with regret – but only if the price is right and if that money is reinvested in the squad. It seems likely that the squad will continue to be improved, but that such improvement will probably not be funded by a healthy return on the talents of an outgoing Sam Byram. And that’s not just a great pity – it’s undeniable evidence of mismanagement – ego before economics – at the very top of the club.

The best outcome now would appear to be persuading young Sam that joining Sunderland in January would be a good move, in the hope of landing winger Will Buckley on a permanent – together with maybe Liam Bridcutt, who could definitely do an “older head” defensive midfield job – with a few million pounds and a healthy sell-on clause into the bargain. At least, that way, honour might just be satisfied. The tricky bit would be getting Byram to clamber aboard a visibly sinking ship, and hoping that the Mackems conveniently forget they could have the lad for relatively little next summer – if they avoid the drop.

It’s all a bit of a mess, quite frankly, and unhappily reminiscent of previous periods when Cellino has rampaged around Elland Road, mouthing off at (and about) all and sundry, with nobody to say him nay. For the good of Leeds United, Uwe Rösler – and all of us – it’s fervently to be hoped that those difficult days have not returned for good. 

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26 responses to “Divide and Rule: Cellino Deliberately Pits Leeds Fans Against Sam Byram   –   by Rob Atkinson

  1. Rob
    Another fine post.
    Well it has taken less than a week for CELLINO to raise his ugly,interfering and disruptive head following the departure of Adam Pearson.
    This will certainly not be his last public pronounciation and as we know they will become more vindictive, uncohearant and savage!!
    Rosler may well be a cautious manager, but he needs time to develop and grow the squad. He is intelligent,articulate and very disciplined, and without doubt the best manager since Grayson.
    CELLINO can’t help himself undermining everyone he chooses to do so, and you are right, by disrespecting Byram, he will cause problems.
    With 2/3 court cases looming in Italy, let us hope he is found guilty, banned indefinitely and is forced to sell to a wealthy owner who will take us back to The Premiership.

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    • Two ways though, might sell to an owner worse, tbf to cellini, he’s spent money well and is willing to give Rösler time

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  2. It does seem a real shame that when Pearson left someone let Massimo out of his cage…..
    The silence trully was golden but it has all been for nowt.
    Churchill said jaw,jaw,jaw not war war war but we have both nowm

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  3. let not overreact and let not only blame Cellino…at the end of the day,as you rightly said,He owns Leeds and first thing he did was bring some order to the wages situation we had lots of players and some on big wages for what they were worth…he had to cut wages and balance the books But Sam’s Agent has a lot to do with this also. we have to wait and see what will develop in the next 24 hours to get a better perspective on things..all the other youngsters accepted their Contract so that not an issue..if Byram had left in the Summer then this would not have been an issue and we would have benefited i think….I think he stayed on to get a better deal with a premiership club..either way ,we have to keep all in perspective and not panic

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  4. for years we moaned about the silence from above , LUST etc (of which i’m not a member) was set , i assume , to have “more of a say” in the club and for the people above to be within earshot of what they had to say , then along comes massimo and no one likes it anymore..
    rob i have to agree with him , if Byram thinks he’s better off somewhere else then , thanks sam , good luck , but there’s the door old lad

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  5. Ropey Wyla

    Wish Cellino would keep a lid on club business but not really bothered by Byram going, he wasn’t gonna sign and who could blame him with the clubs apparently in for him. Would have been nice to get a good fee for him but the time for that to happen has long since passed. At least we have Berardi and there’s kids in the youth team who are waiting to step up.

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  6. Who’s the calming influence and will be steering the ship when he gets banned again?

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  7. seagullbus

    Some balance comments which are a cut above what you read on the anti every owner gutter sites,but I’m inclined to agree that Cellino is doing what’s right for the club with respect to Byram. If Sam had anything about him he’d sign the contract,play out of his skin and get the move that would benefit everybody. Funny how an element of fans moaned about McContract going, but that ended up being a smart piece of business on Cellinos part.
    I think we have to trust him on this personally.

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    • McContract (as we must now call him) was smart business because Cellino absolutely mugged Foolham (as we must now call them) for £11 million. Sam, it seems, will depart for chickenfeed. There’s the difference. Ego, not economics – and ultimately, we’ll pay the price of that through the turnstiles and merchandise outlets.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Philip of Spain.

    The calm sailing of Captain Pearson suddenly gets shipwrecked by Ahab after Pearson jumps ship.I thought it too good to be true,we were all enjoying the voyage until the the boat gets thrown against the rocks by Ahab.What’s wrong with the man.Does he think we are all thick?does he think we don’t know what hes doing.!!

    Your right Rob,Sam’s away now,no doubt about that.There may be a touch not what he said being slightly true but my moneys on agent fees not Byram.Somebody put him back in the locker with the Cracken!!!

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  9. Leeds have hardly been fantastic or very productive with Byram playing this season and maybe he should be sold and raise some money for Leeds, but all the hostility from Cellino is uncalled for and a bit too late, because the transfer window is now closed until January.
    So what are Leeds going to do with an unsettled Byram in the meantime ?, other than play him until then or foolishly freeze him out of the team.
    Whenever a Leeds player does well in the team, we always seem to have the same problems with the players agent getting greedy and ending that Leeds players prematurely. Many names such as Becchio, Beckford, Gradel and Johnson, all spring to mind and maybe now with Byram going the same way.
    With Pearson now gone and Cellino left to his own devices, the season could fall apart, before November, just like it did last season.

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  10. theseagullbus

    Rob: not sure about chicken feed because his fee may end up bring decided by a tribunal,and it may be cost effective to let a non committed player go. At present I’d take Beradi over Byram and I’m not sure he’s a PL wide side MF player,where Pearson said (at the Aug fans meeting) that there was disagreement with Byram on this.
    I think there’s more to this than money although that’s obviously the main concern.

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  11. White shotgun

    Leeds fans frickin moan moan moan stop it look at us last few season real pretenders We at last are showing some form slowly but surely building and 75% want Rome in a moment ….. Cellino has passion he wants the lad to stay, the lad doesn’t know his agent is counting his share. Money comes first in football all the moaning in the world won’t change it look forward …. We will loose a few on the way it happens at all levels of the game. Look at our youth 9-2 spanking of the Rs I don’t get our fans at times fucking whingers …. We are fucking LEEDS we get on with it ….. I back Cellino 100% who else have we got …. And sorry the cherry ain’t coming soon we are gonna have to wait a little longer …. We are producing great players and doin ok Grrrrrrrrrrr

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  12. White shotgun

    And he was off way before this episode he hasn’t signed a contract he won’t his form isn’t great because his head has been turned …. If you want to bla me anybody blame the agent not cellinos passion

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  13. Manston White

    The guy is an idiot. We should still get compensation if he moves on as under 24. However, practical people would have perhaps suggested a compromise pay-rise which would be short term in order to sign a longer contract. If both agree to sell in January, Byram gets his move and Leeds get a better transfer value. I suspect Pearson would no doubt have suggested this and any other adviser worth any salt. It seems Cellino, rather than play marbles to win more clearly lost his marbles years ago

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    • Apparently though, you only get compensation if you’ve offered the player a better contract (average per year) than his best year on the contract expired. Rumour is that Leeds offered Byram a contract on lesser terms – which I can hardly bring myself to believe. Still, it’s a crazy world and Cellino is a crazy guy.

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      • I agree with Manston, and contract negotiations have been a major stumbling block in LS11 for years now, mainly because they have been left to the unimaginative amateurism of Harvey, Bates, GFH and now Cellino. It is staggering to think a serious multi-million pound business would seriously allow a multi-million pound asset to wither on the vine, so to speak. The services of a professional negotiating outfit should be retained, whose fees would be more than covered by the resulting benefits. It’s all very well being passionate, but serious business decisions need cool, dispassionate and objective heads. Massimo’s “passion” mostly comes across as “conceit”; I am sure that quite a bit is lost in translation which is understandable, yet he does bring a lot of ridicule and scorn on the Club and himself, and appears to have an obsessive compulsion to sow the seeds of disharmony. Why would you want to interrupt pretty good team momentum, destabilise the playing group, unsettle the fans and devalue the stock and goodwill of your own business? It’s a bit silly and so unnecessary.

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  14. Cellino does not have a leg to stand on. He has no credibility, according to those who contribute to these sites, he is totally unprofessional and despite anything that Pearson says about an amicable departure and the reasons for leaving, we now have to assume that even he is lying through his teeth. Even if Cellino had made no comment whatsoever on Byram the daggers would have been out and the Italian would have been the big bad boy again. Byram has been rumbling and tottering before Pearson left and I am inclined, naively if you want, to beleive that this mess can be laid at his agents feet. This is what stinks about this game. Players are gagged and told in no uncertain terms to shut their mouth and make no comments to the press and media. Then, when they leave they dish the dirt and I have no doubt the kid will do the same.
    I wish him all the best wherever he goes. Cellino? I think his days are numbered but I am also sure that whoever does eventually buy this club, this and many other sites will have the same bloggers moaning, groaning and telling all and sundry, this is a disaster for the club. Once you are on a merry go round like this its almost impossible to get off.

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  15. I wish Cellino would quickly secure the services of a Pearson replacement. It’s never been his modus operandi, but if Massimo were to step back, take his medication and think coolly on the situation, even he would see that the past four or so months have been by far the best on all fronts of his tenure.

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  16. Bornawhite

    Unfortunately the reality is Cellino will not change. Regardless of whether Pearson had remained at Leeds it was only a matter of time before Cellino played out another PR disaster- that is the nature of the beast with a Panjandrum who wears his heart on his sleeve.

    Byram will likely go else where and develop into a top class right back if he chooses the right club. No doubt when his side of the story emerges all the naive fans who are blaming him for the current situation will vent their frustration on Cellino.

    It is, as a few previous writers have alluded to, the merry go round which is Leeds Utd. Whilst Cellino is here it will continue spinning at a relentless pace. Whilst some may enjoy the ride, I am quite frankly completely pissed off with it.

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  17. Just a thought Rob,could my beloved Leeds not send him out on loan with a contract signed with a new club,then everyones happy.I could be wrong.

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  18. White shotgun

    Still can’t make out half the moaners on here …. We are talking one player negotiations talk is complete rubbish we do as much as other clubs do ….. Money talks …. Cast your minds back just a little GFH under them we would be bust Cellino bailed us out and who would have bought us back … Make no mistake here a Bates type figure to bleed us as a cash cow once again we would be in division 1 worst 2 oh but the core of our support would be happy wouldn’t they for fuck sake ….take the positives we have Boro at weekend lets get on with it MOT

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  19. Here we go again. This is not Italy,where histrionics are the norm. He’s off the leash,like a dog without it’s muzzle. Sam has never stated he wants to move. I was hoping he’d get a better contract offer. What odds the fee goes back to our chairman,not on better players?

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