Cellino’s Leeds Utd Is Not A Fair Test For ANY Manager – by Rob Atkinson


cellino-and-steve-evans

A clown… and a patsy?

You can’t blame these football men – one after another of them – for giving it a go at Massimo Cellino‘s Leeds United. They’re not blind and they’re not daft; they can see the awful mortality rate as manager after manager (I’ve given up on that head coach rubbish) falls victim to Cellino’s ongoing conviction that, however bad it gets, it’s always someone else’s fault. Each new Leeds United manager must come into the job with eyes wide open, knowing all too well that the odds are stacked heavily against them.

But still – it is Leeds United, a name known everywhere, a club of massive history and tradition. These football men are confident and simply crammed with self-belief, and they all want to be the game-changer. They’d be in a different caper if that were not so. Each of them earnestly believes he can be the one to turn around the fortunes of a moribund football club. That’s the dangling carrot – that tantalising chance of earning fame and immortality in the eyes of football’s most loyal, most fanatical and yet most demanding fans. Because, whoever does restore Leeds to something like its former glory will become a legend throughout the Whites-supporting universe. It’s a chance, so it seems, to make an indelible mark on football history. No – you really can’t blame these men for trying.

But the problem is that they reckon without the self-defeating craziness of Cellino, the kind of maverick unpredictability that will ensure no rational approach can be guaranteed to work. And, so it seems to many of us, they reckon without the effect of this rotten Cellino regime on the players themselves and their confidence – as well as their morale and motivation, their hopes for stability and continuity. The last few weeks have been like a snapshot of this whole problem – the Cellino roller-coaster in  microcosm. Things are bad initially, and Cellino says he’s off, he’s had enough. Results then pick up, the mood about the place improves as talk escalates of Cellino selling the club to fans, to Steve Parkin, to anybody. But then Cellino reneges, and we really shouldn’t be surprised; it’s what he does. He’s not going to sell to the fans, he decides. And then, predictably for the cynics among us, he’s not selling at all, not in the short term at any rate. Apparently, there’s “no serious interest”. Yeah, right.

And, lo and behold, there is a depression once more over Elland Road. From two successive victories and two clean sheets when il Duce said he was off, we now have two successive defeats and two failures to score a goal since he changed his mind, or stopped lying, or however you interpret his screwball narrative. Is it too simplistic to make a connection between the turnaround in fortunes, and Cellino’s wildly-varying statements of intent? Those who still find themselves able to defend Cellinocchio might very well say so.

Well, I don’t think it is too simplistic; in fact, I think the nail has been hit on the head by anyone who makes that connection. Matters at the top of the club filter down to the players and the staff – that’s the case anywhere. The prospect of a less obviously loco form of ownership can be expected to perk things up on the field; equally, the dashing of those hopes, along with the realisation that it’s going to be crazy business as usual, will inevitably have its effect in terms of matters taking a downturn. That’s how it seems to have gone, lately.

So, where is the manager in all of this? Caught like a hapless nut in the jaws of a nutcracker, that’s where. Whatever his motivational abilities, however innovative and inspiring he might be on the training ground, it all counts for very little when the very fabric of the football club is rotting away due to the corrosive influence of a man who should never be allowed anywhere near any professional club – much less one of the stature of Leeds United. Whether the manager’s name is Steve Evans, Uwe Rösler, Neil Redfearn – or even Jose Mourinho, Pepe Guardiola or the sainted and incomparable Don Revie himself – the end will remain the same when you have an unfit person autocratically running things on a whim at the summit of the whole shebang. The wheels will inevitably fall off, the fans – being fans and emotionally involved – will vent at least part of their spleen on the visible target in the dugout, the manager thus targeted will feel himself to be a dead man walking, and the downward spiral will continue – with that malign presence in the boardroom seemingly fire-proof (unless the Football League do finally cook his goose for him).

Leeds United as it currently exists is not a fair test of a manager’s ability. In fact he can have all the ability in the world, but he might as well be King Canute trying to hold back the tide, for all the good that will do him – he’ll either have to walk or get washed away eventually. Sooner or later, as surely as night follows day, Cellino will get impatient, or bored, or simply even madder than he already is – and the whole grisly process will start again, with the credibility of a great club taking yet another fearful hit on its way down.

It’s not good enough, and we all know it. The rest of football can see it too, but, with it being Leeds, they’ll just be having a sly little snigger up their collective sleeve. If we are to get through these depressing, frustrating times, it’s unlikely to be with much real help from outside. It will be a matter of those with the best interests of Leeds United at heart – the fans and those positive elements within the club itself – sticking together and exerting such pressure as we are able, in order to bring about positive change. And again, fans being fans, that will be dreadfully hard to bring about. In the wake of today’s defeat at QPR, I’ve seen at least two moans or groans about Steve Evans, Chris Wood – even new loanee Liam Bridcutt – for every one murmur of complaint about the real culprit here, Cellino himself. And that’s really worrying – as the Italian bides his time before stating he’s going to hang around (FL permitting) after all.

If we’re ever going to be united enough to apply the necessary pressure that could bring about change, then we have to act united in the first instance – and a vital part of that is knowing your enemy. So, who is Leeds United’s enemy? It’s not Steve Evans, coming to terms with the impossibility of his job under the pressure of eking out results with a disconsolate squad. It’s not even the players who, after all, just want to perform and achieve for a proper football club that is going places. We all know, those of us who can see the blindingly obvious, who our enemy is. It’s that serial liar, that crazy, maverick, mercurial clown in the boardroom. It’s Massimo Cellino, quite plainly and clearly. So let’s not become distracted and start heaping needless pressure on innocent bystanders.

I look forward to the next Leeds United manager who will be allowed to do the job he’s been engaged to do. It seems unlikely at this juncture that his name will be Steve Evans, for whom the vultures are already gathering, more’s the pity. But we should all be clear on one thing – whoever might occupy the manager’s seat at Elland Road, he’s going to be on a loser as long as that nutter owns the club. Until Cellino goes, all we have to look forward to is more of the same – whoever’s notionally picking the team. Which is a tragic thought and, believe me, I’d love to be proved wrong. I’ve been wrong many times before, not least when I championed Cellino at the start of his reign. It goes with the territory of commenting on this bizarre club we all love so much.

But even given that flawed track record of mine – I gravely doubt, to my infinite regret, that I’m wrong about this.

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13 responses to “Cellino’s Leeds Utd Is Not A Fair Test For ANY Manager – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Reality Cheque

    There’s only one common denominator throughout all the chaos of the hiring and firing of head coaches every few months, senior ‘management’ staff resigning out of the blue, and the recruitment of bargain basement squad players policy. Our only consistency relates to our league position, negative goal difference and public/media ridicule.

    Unfortunately, the buck stops anywhere but with our owner in his own deluded mind.

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  2. Will be waiting for the mc/kb fan club to blame you me and the gate post for daring to question are robbing so called saviour and destabilising are club by demanding more I totally agree with you and would go a bit further by saying the supporters play a big part in propping up the likes of kb/mc and any other two bit con man that washes up at are door without question at the end of the day I support LEEDS UNITED not mc/kb/gfh and non of them three have done nothing for my club apart from robbing it left right and centre

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  3. It’s a shame that my club iv been following since I was a boy has fallen to such lows sad lost for words

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  4. It is the loss of ALL hope that hurts the most!

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  5. David Dean

    I can’t believe that Evans wants to put Byram on the bench. It seems that when a manager comes into this club he sells his soul to the devil – except for Redders. So pleased Rotherham won 3-0 today, it was a bit of a consolation prize for me. He should never have been sacked and neither should Rosler have been. Evans will suffer the same undeserved fate very soon.

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  6. I think Cellino was hoping that hed be able to ride out the wave of antagonism he saw v Blackburn and he was hopping for sympathy when he opted to do the right thing and sell…………He did indeed get that from a minority
    Unfortunately we need to follow the Bates plan, boycott the club and protest…..its only when Bates pocket was getting hurt that Bates sold up and I can see Cellino being the same………..
    Regardless of what we do , I can see us starting next season in Div 1 but I hope we will have a fresh start

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  7. There is only one other common denominator throughout disastrous drought. Perhaps one needs to look in the mirror. In the days of instant gratification and shaming through social media and from the stands, we have been drowning in management by damnation, ridicule and character heists ala the McCoys and the Hatfields. Can you imagine a club run by fans who are runs by fans where most don’t even know what a corporation is and where some attack the opponent fans when we win and others attack the opponent fans when we lose.. Ask yourself why the club never attracts anyone “better” than Bates and Celino These are the only men with skin thicker than an elephant. Shall I go on?

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  8. I’m sorry but the other common denominator in the plight of Leeds United, since Cellino arrived, is a clear lack of quality amongst the Leeds players or should I say, “the lack of balls” and bravery amongst players, who have hours and hours to prepare for playing in a Leeds game and then for some strange reason “BOTTLE IT”, when it matters the most.
    For the first time in my lifetime, the terribly shocking home form, has become very scary and extremely concerning, to say the least and a defeat at QPR could be totally excused, if Leeds could beat the easy teams, such as Rotherham and many others, but that is not happening like it usually does.
    Even the best Coach in the world, would struggle at Leeds to get results, without the players responding and doing their job, when they get onto the pitch on match days, which doesn’t seem to be happening on a regular basis.
    If the pampered and privileged, so-called Leeds players are finding it very hard to play at Elland Road, may I plead with them, to get the hell out of Leeds United or better still, join the rest of us in the real world of proper hard work, where wages are well earned.

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  9. I fear you are so so right.
    I see only division 1 and the loss of our young home grown talent. I was so optimistic at the start of the season and said so here. How quickly that faded and how foolish I believe I was for allowing myself to be so.
    To me it is clear Cellino knew nothing of English football, continues to vastly underestimate what is needed to achieve success and thought he could pick up a club on the cheap, sneak into the premier league with minimum investment and take the huge payout with the smile of a two bit hoodlum.
    It hasn’t worked, he doesn’t know what to do and blames the queue of managers that pass through for all the club’s ills.
    I fear we are lost and my heart is aching.

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  10. Chris Wheeler

    Cellino lost any respect from me when he contrived to break up the Redfearn/Thompson partnership which was achieving close on top 6 results all because he was jealous of their affinity with the supporters. Who knows where we would have been this season with those 2 still in place who got the best out of our young squad who trusted them and played a solid system based on not conceding many goals. As soon as Pearson left this season I knew we were in trouble again and Rosler would not be given time. You are spot on Rob that the whole culture of the club is rotten to the core with Cellino in charge and I just hope the FL reject his appeal asap to get him to make another u turn on the sale. Living in hope but I feel the lowest ever at the current time and felt more hope when we were in League 1 with a15 point deduction. Cellino out.

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  11. I’m quite willing to accept that we might just wallow in the lower slums of this league forever and a day, IF the alternative is relegation. We cannot go down, it would be the end. All our young talent would leave, everything the academy has achieved would be to the benefit of our rivals. We will never get out of League One and fans like me for over 40 years would all pass on. Thanks Cellino, thank you very much for destroying a dream, thank you for making match days something to dread. Thank you for ruining my apetite when my wife has made a lovely tea and many thanks for all the youngsters you have made endure tears of total disappointment. You have moved your family away from this so called intimidating city of ours and yet you have no conscience in inflicting pain and misery on the poor supporters who have nowhere to hide. If your attitude is an example of how you perceive business men should conduct themselves then you are a fool and a spineless one at that. You have lost whatever respect you imagined you had, but you are too arrogant and too much of a coward to man up to it. I actually hope Leeds do not produce that magic touch we all crave, not while you are remotely connected in anyway to this great club because it would be a travesty to even think you could take any credit. No, I’m sorry but festering in the bottom half of the championship I will live with until you are gone……..for good.

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  12. well said popeye I feel the same my heart is broken and it is the curse off Elland road thats on us. Leeds United AFC is our love and will be forever it is the fans like us that suffer its like a bad dream but Leeds till I die… someone please help us and make things right for the love of our great club…

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