Tag Archives: directors

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.


Leeds United Chairman Nooruddin Explains “The Nature of Football” – by Rob Atkinson


The Chairman of Leeds United, Salah Nooruddin, is a man much occupied by weighty matters. Quite apart from his duties in the world of high finance, Mr Nooruddin now obviously has to attend to the day-to-day running of a still huge football club, though some might argue that he is approaching that task with the pragmatic aim of making of it a smaller one.

Mr Nooruddin took the time out of his busy schedule yesterday to grant an interview to the media, presumably prompted by rumblings of discontent among the supporters of a club that has consistently under-achieved in the past decade and which has seen last year’s takeover completed on a scale dwarfed by the likes of those at Manchester City or even Nottingham Forest.  Indeed, little Sheffield United down the M1 appear to have shown Leeds up by getting themselves a rich billionaire. So what’s going on at Leeds? Salah was kind enough to explain, in the simplest of terms, for the benefit of the uninitiated.

Firstly, on the manager Brian McDermott: “He’s the right man to take this club forward.” Hmmmm.  Well, we already knew that one, Salah.  Tell us something new.  The chairman then drew on his extensive knowledge of the professional game as he went on to cover the perilous ground of the club’s progress this season, explaining that we’d had a good start, but that it had turned around a little bit and that this was “the nature of football”. Again, all very illuminating – but is it the nitty-gritty we need to hear?  Those of us who have watched United for the past few decades are all too painfully aware of the nature of football as it applies to Leeds.  It may be summed up as constant depression with peaks of hope and short spells of achievement, but doomed to ultimate disappointment. There’s really no need for an investment banker lecturing us about the nature of football in order for even us bone-headed and unsophisticated fans to realise that.

Mr Nooruddin then proceeded to describe how manager and players are all still settling in and testing each other, a process that some will have noticed has been going on at clubs much higher up the league who have had the bad taste to invest heavily in players and wages.  “When we brought (Brian McDermott) in we were very happy about that. I think it’s been proven on and off the field here”, the chairman confirmed. “He’s done a good job and he’s trying to rebalance the squad. He takes account of the owners’ interests, the club’s interests and the players’ interests. So far we are very happy.” So far. Well, that’s good then.

After the defeat at Millwall, Mr Nooruddin had taken to the Twittersphere to provide a more immediate summary of his feelings as to that performance.  Stating that the club were trying to bring in a striker and a winger, he went on to aver that “the current squad should have won today”.  Again, this apparently profound knowledge of the world of professional football is not backed up by any body of evidence concerning Salah’s experience in anything but banking – but what is Twitter for if not for knee-jerk reactions to events beyond your control?

After yesterday’s interview, Mr Nooruddin may well be feeling quite content that he has acted decisively to mollify United’s notoriously touchy support.  On the other hand, there is the argument that some may find his less-than-qualified statements a little worrying. Bland and glib assertions about the “nature of football” will butter no parsnips, Mr Nooruddin should understand.  Neither will his less than forensic assessment of the current squad, leading to the slightly shaky conclusion that they should have beaten Millwall, impress those match-going fans who have seen it all before, who have heard hollow promises and lame excuses without number and who just want our manager to be provided with the tools he needs to carve himself a level playing field and have some chance of competing with the Leicesters, QPR’s and Burnleys of this world.  That doesn’t seem a lot to ask.

I’d be far more impressed with Mr Nooruddin if he avoided all attempts to speak learnedly, as one handing down knowledge from on high, about the matter of football. He should instead be reassuring the Leeds public that he and his fellow directors are listening to the football wisdom of Mr McDermott, taking on board his recommendations based on a lifetime of experience in the game – and then applying their own specialised financial knowledge and business acumen to the task of sorting out some wonga in order to realise Brian’s wishes for his squad.

Now that would be reassuring.