Cellino and Evans: Explain Yourselves, Gentlemen   –   by Rob Atkinson


CellinoLiar

Tell us what’s really going on, Cellino

It almost goes without saying that there is a lot wrong with Leeds United at the moment. Almost. But there’s always a few that need it spelling out, and the Leeds United online community of fans does not lack for the less mentally acute, as I’ll be mentioning again later. So let’s say it, whether it really needs saying or not. Leeds United is a club in crisis, rotten to the core, dead from the neck up. There’s that carrion reek about them, the stench of decay which is starting to bring out the vulture in opposing teams. As Brighton did tonight, they tend to circle for a while, then flap down to peck our eyes out. It’s not a pretty sight. 

There’s so much wrong with Leeds United right now that it’s not that easy to know where to start. But common sense says you should start at the top, especially given the headless chicken of a performance we witnessed tonight. Despite this, some of our online fanbase are letting themselves down badly, by going for cheap, easy shots, aimed at a manager who, like all the others, has been let down and betrayed by the club owner. And, like all the others, Steve Evans is having to toe the party line as long as he remains manager. Like all the others, the time for him to dare to tell the truth will be at some point after his inevitable sacking.

Steve Evans is having to manage with a bunch of players, a good proportion of whom he’s not all that keen on. He’s not been allowed the level of recruitment he publicly wanted, and stated was necessary. He’s biting his lip and making the best of the original, proverbial bad job. Too many of the Leeds Twitteratti, a notoriously dense bunch of bandwagon-jumpers for the most part, are disgracing themselves by descending to the bottom of their particular gutter and aiming personal abuse at a man who can’t hit back. Yes, Steve Evans is rotund. So what. We need to judge him on his ability once granted – if he ever is – the tools to do the job. To aim playground insults at him is the act of the intellectually bankrupt. These are not supporters, they are cretins.

None of that is to say that Evans is beyond reproach. I would love to hold him to account, if I thought for one moment that he would be free to speak his mind or tell the whole truth. I would like to know the thinking behind Scott Wootton’s unaccountable tenure in the team, and on the flank of the defence as opposed to the middle, when he is clearly out of his depth. But Evans is in no position to say anything that Cellino might object to. 

It is Cellino that is the problem here. Any professional sports club needs overall leadership and also separate and distinct sources of direction on the playing and non-playing sides. The problem at Leeds is that the ultimate leader is far too volatile, mendacious and untrustworthy to inspire confidence and commitment among the troops. And those playing and non-playing sides are not separate – confusion reigns because the lines that should divide these areas are blurred. 

Who picks the team? Who decides and changes tactics? We cannot know for certain, despite Evans’ frequent, hot denials of interference. We hear enough from other sources to lend some credence to persistent allegations that the hand of Cellino can be seen in areas a mere owner should leave to the professionals.

Above all, the parlous state of a famous old club cannot be laid at the feet of the well-paid players who are failing all too often to perform. Neither can the blame be ascribed to a hamstrung and at least partially gagged manager. It was Cellino who has presided over this car crash of a season, which he promised would be beautiful. It was Cellino who promised promotion to the top flight by 2016, a year that is, instead, taking us much closer to demotion. It is Cellino who has failed to deliver the squad improvements that everyone else, not least his beleaguered manager, could see were necessary. 

I’d love to see Evans able to put his side of the story forward, without fear or favour. That, though, would be tantamount to professional suicide. But somebody should be speaking to the fans about what’s really going on. Instead, we’re invited to cheer an improved business performance instead of goals, whilst paying pie tax and pandering to silly superstitions as exemplified by issue 16b of the matchday programme. We’re asked, remarkably, to believe in a regime that, time after time, has proven itself utterly unworthy of belief. 

So, step up and talk to us, Mr. Evans (if you’re allowed to). Talk to us honestly, Mr. Cellino (if you have it in you). We deserve an explanation for the state of the club, for a state of affairs at a legendary institution of the game, now reduced to the kind of spineless, gutless, clueless and shameless display we saw at Brighton on Monday evening. That will take some explaining, but surely someone has to try.

The problem, you see, is that the fans – the real fans – can only take so much. At some point, they’re going to be less keen to give up their time and money supporting a football club which seems to have lost its soul. And here I mean the diehard, long-suffering fans who put in the miles and the hours, not a set of clueless kids mouthing childish insults from behind computer screens. Leeds United could, after all, do without the Twitteratti, they’re just annoying noise. 

But those lads and lasses who follow and chant and sing, the length and breadth of the country? They’re Leeds’ last real asset, make no mistake about it. Alienate and disillusion them at your peril, Mr. Cellino. And we’re very nearly at breaking point now.

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25 responses to “Cellino and Evans: Explain Yourselves, Gentlemen   –   by Rob Atkinson

  1. Would it have been 4-0 had Evans’ first choices – Berardi and Bellusci – been playing instead of Bamba and Wooton ? I doubt it. Is Cellino’s apparent reluctance to invest more money on the playing side due to uncertainty about his own future ? Probably. Does he have a proprietorial duty to explain to us ‘shareholders’ what his intentions are in the event of his passing the FL’s tests ? Is he free to talk about his appeal to the FL ? Probably not – but it does not matter. We just want to know what he wants for and from us. Evans is obviously not the issue at this juncture

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  2. Terrible weather we having, slice of carrot cake anyone ?

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  3. Mark Devaney

    I agree Cellino is the architect of the shambolic state of our club but Evans is not blameless. Evans has a track record of 6 wins in 22 games, a track record of producing the odd promising but mostly dire performances and a track record of repeated cheap shots at numerous players and ex coaches. He told us all he was in charge on the pitch and that the day he didn’t pick the team he’d leave. He is free to speak openly and honestly but the reality Steve Evans puts himself before his players, team, club or supporters. Evans bites his lip because that’s best for him. Sorry but that’s not a man to feel sorry for. You’re right that the playground comments about his size are unnecessary but it’s not unreasonable to judge him on his actions and I’m afraid they fall way way short of what’s needed at Elland Road.

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    • Look at it from Evans’ point of view. He knows we have an extremely limited offensive capability, so he has decided to make us difficult to beat, which to a degree we have been, or to score goals against and before this evening we have been. He is banking on our and his survival this season in the hope and it seems belief that by running a tight defensive ship he will persuade the owner to enable him to correct the imbalance in the squad by next season. In fairness to Evans he has been unlucky with injuries to key players (Wood, Berardi), the departure of our one really dangerous fit player (Byram) and the absence this evening of a player who has shone defensively over the past couple of months (Bellusci).

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    • Welcome aboard, Mark.

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  4. Get Si Grayson back. Cellino sell up ASAP.

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  5. Belfast White

    I think both to blame. Cellino is a disaster and we will never move forward until he leaves. But was concerned with tactics tonight.
    – Brighton would have 3-4 players rushing in attack while we had 1-2.
    – Our players were too static and rarely moved to provide an outlet
    – Scott Wootton. Even playing at right back he went missing so Bamba covered too often.
    – We were overrun and never looked near to scoring
    – Would love to know last time we scored from a corner
    Just shambolic! Would love SE to do well but you are right that the top of the club is a disaster. How MC could even show his face tonight shows what a brass neck he has.

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  6. Cellino is to blame for his lack of ambition, for sure, but Steve Evans is culpable for his lack of vision. Tactically he is inept. Opposition managers must love his static formations and game plans, it makes their planning so easy. Mike Bassett England Manager could do a better job at Leeds.

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  7. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head Rob. As far as the owner goes I see one of two things with him. Either one he is fleecing our club just like Bates or two he has no idea about how the Championship and English football works. Or maybe it’s both.

    I’m still on the fence when it comes to Evans as I’m not sure how much his hands are tied. Although I feel he may not be manager by the end of the week. Not that it will make much difference who manages our club at the moment with the clown who owns it.

    Like you said maybe the clubs last asset needs to go on strike. Hit him where it hurts. Ego and pocket!

    Please go Cellinio so we can start again properly.

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  8. Philip of Spain.

    Still in Brighton.Might catch a game next week.Very bracing.

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  9. David Dean

    I agree of course 100% and I am pleased to read all your blogs. It is the only entertainment I have from Lufc. We continue to be surprised – 4-0 at half time. Mad Dog leaves the stadium and no interview from SE after. Is it because Evans has been sacked? He may as well be sacked now because he will be before next season. You know what he would have said “that was embarrassing and I can’t defend that performance. I told them to go out and play for your pride and did they do that. I think so. Would they have lost 4-0 if they had played like that in the first half – the answer is ‘no’. ” Just so there is no confusion – that would have been Evans’ comments. Cellino says nowt because he doesn’t know what to say. He says one of many things he thinks – his mind is a roller coaster, and we “March Together and hit the breast”. I have read that the family business is worth 90 million or was it 900 mil but he was thrown out of it in 1999. This club is like Space 1999 – remember that fantasy programme we all loved in the days when we still had a top club.

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    • I always preferred UFO. Those initials conjure up a few possible descriptive phrases for the rotting hulk of our beloved club.

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      • Scally Lad

        Rob, lighten up a bit on the despair. Things are bleak but not lost. We fell yesterday to a top club – little surprise there. Faults lie everywhere. But despite all, we are 9 points above relegation with a game in hand and a bottom-dwelling bunch of losers next coming to ER. We’re headed for a solid mid-table finish with opportunities to sort out the mischief and weaknesses in the coming off season. Keep looking up and MOT!

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      • I truly hope you’re right – I’m more cynical than despairing. It’s only a game, after all…

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  10. Another well written article Rob, i like you, don’t think we can lay the blame at SE’s feet, certainly not all of it anyway. You are bang on with your comments, someone at the club needs to talk to us, the worst part of all this is the not knowing, the being kept in the dark business, it just infuriates people (especially us fans). Yes they have got the club back on an even keel financially, which has probably been good business over the last 2 years considering the state we were in when MC and his team arrived, but the playing side has suffered tremendously, we had a much better playing staff under Grayson (bar the kids). It may be that we are in a much better state to sell the club now to someone who will run the 2 sides of the football club separately with a good coaching team and financial team, here’s hoping.

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  11. We need the two Pearson’s to get us out of trouble!!!

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  12. Swiss Martin (MOT Basel whites)

    I think last night was due to come. We had been riding our luck for some time.
    Lets face facts, the season is over, there is nothing to win anymore and they played like this. Bamba is looking more like Bambi when he is on the ball and Wooten, well I dont remeber seeing him play well in any game, so how he still gets in the squad is in unbelievable.
    There is very few people who will come in with around 110 million, which is what it will cost
    45 mill to buy the club,
    30 mill to pay off all the Debts e.g. to GFH,
    21 mill the cost of buying back the ground and training ground.
    4 mill the court cases outstanding with Macron and unfair dismissals.
    10 mill for player investment
    Plus then when you do all this, as owner you find alot of the income that the club makes has been tenetured of to private contracts for a quick buck.

    So we are either
    1, Stuck with Cellino and we find a common understanding as to how the club will move forward,
    2, We find a someone who has so much money that throwing away 100 million to start from scratch wouldnt bother them (Even the Swiss wouldnt do that) or
    3, You dont buy season tickets or shirts etc, and bankrupt the club so someone (Could be Bates again) starts again a league below.
    The future is bright, Hmmmmm

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  13. Anne Davies

    I agree more or less with your comments, but Steve Evans always insists he would do better if he had the tools. Three of his tools were playing last night, plus Wootton, who he seems to think very highly of, I worry about a Manager who continually picks the likes of Wootton. Yes Cellino is an odd-ball, but like someone has already said, he is going to wait until his own future has been decided by the forthcoming ban scenario before he starts pumping money into it, maybe holding off with ban decision is the FL’s way of screwing Leeds, yet again!

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  14. Phil O'Sophical

    Steve Evans is pulling the wool over your eyes, Rob. He tells the fans what a great club they have. How managers like Mourinho would crawl from Porto to Leeds over hot coals to have that one chance to bring success to the greatest team in the universe. His excuse for failure is that he needs to fetch his own players in. Why can’t he coach and improve what he already has at his disposal? Didn’t he say he had offers in excess of £30m for his players in the January window? Surely, that is something to work with.

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  15. I agree totally Rob, ridiculous childish comments about Evans size are disgraceful. My gripe with Evans is that he is too verbose much of the time. He loves to promote himself and should engage his brain rather more at times before opening his mouth. However, as others have regularly stated, who could cope with an owner like Cellino? He and Bates are of the same ilk, I despise both. They see themselves as superior to the rest of us. Their arrogance is breathtaking. They have the wealth to indulge their whims and fancies. They won’t be challenged by anyone. Mendacity is second nature. I truly despair and fear for our club. How I hoped that he’d sell to LFU. I’d frankly rather see us go down and somehow have to start afresh with fan involvement. We are damaged goods who nobody with any real funds and intent wants to go near – why is that?

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  16. Many of us have been predicting that we will be on the end of a thumping sooner or later. Personally, Brighton looked really good, well organised and professional BUT the way we played first half my local Sunday morning, overweight, hung over and clueless team would have ran rings around us.
    We are just an absolute disgrace of a club. For Cellino to put a gag on everybody last night was unprofessional, shabby and showed nothing but the utmost contempt to our fans. The guy’s who travelled to the match must be absolutely gutted.
    Right now I don’t care who gets the chop. I don’t care if Evans is not even seen again. I don’t care if Cellino throws the baby out and shuts the gates because it cannot get any worse. If we were to get relegated I could not feel more sick to my stomach because it just seems to me that there is nobody with any clout or with the b***s to make a difference. If I was Lorimer or Gray I would go public and condemn the entire organisation that is running Leeds. I would slate them for the utter disgusting contempt they demonstrate to the very people who put this club where it used to be. Until somebody takes the bull by the horns, goes on record and makes it absolutely clear where we stand then we are going nowhere.
    If Evans gets sacked, God only knows who the hell would have the guts to come to this miserable excuse for a football club.
    My pension money will now be spent on anything that will at least give me some pleasure in life.

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    • Your disillusionment is palpable, but is it really the case that the club is a disgrace ? There is much about it that impresses – the facilities, the family-friendly atmosphere (and ticket prices for children), the Academy, the approachability of the staff. What is lacking – as we all know – is a certain stability in football management and some well directed investment on the field. Even then the stature lthe club and the amount of fan emotional investment makes us a difficult ‘ask’. It may take an ego of Mourinesque proportions to get us out of this Division. And that will not come cheap – but it is where, if I was the owner, I’d be putting my money. Or does Evans have it in him ?

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      • I can’t see how anyone who followed Leeds 88 – 92 would find the club of today at all impressive or, indeed, anything other than a laughing stock.

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  17. Volatile, Cellino certainly is – he’s a Mediterranean Latin, what do you expect ? Mendacious – that’s a serious charge, and needs backing up. Unfulfilled promises are not in themselves evidence of mendacity; they only qualify as mendacity if they were intended to deceive. Rash is a better description – Cellino is an emotional man and at least in the early days plainly wanted us to take him to heart. But we’re a hard lot us Northerners, pragmatic to a fault too. Untrustworthy ? – that must refer to his tax evasion cases: here a sense of proportion is in order, and a bit of knowledge about Italy. A vast army of highly paid professionals spend their working lives on fiscal arbitrage (tax avoidance, in plainman speak) while tax evasion is practised, knowingly or not, in different forms by millions of people in some part of their working lives (misreporting in the black economy and understating investment returns being just two examples). As for Italy, low levels of trust and mutual suspicion between the population and the state, are a feature of Southern Italian society (which for these purposes includes Sardinia). However oddly enough I trust Cellino in respect of Leeds – he is too in love with football and it’s fans to screw us over. Unlike Bates, he is not a sociopath. But he is very, very impulsive, and needs a Pearson-type figure alongside him to balance his emotionality.

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