What is going on at Leeds United?

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I asked a Leeds fan recently what was going on at his club and his reply was: “I don’t know”. It really has been a confusing few months at Elland road, so here’s what’s been going on for those of you who don’t know…

Amongst all the madness on deadline day in January, a rather strange but amusing story was arising in the Championship at Leeds United.

With just three hours to go until the window shut, The Whites sacked manager Brian McDermott, who had been in charge since April last year. He won 15 of their 36 matches at Elland Road but Leeds were winless in eight games and sat 12th in the table, eight points from a play-off spot.

Included in that recent slump was a 6-0 league defeat at Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday and an FA Cup exit at the hands of League Two Rochdale.

But, while the form had been poor, the timing came as a surprise to many. Deadline day represented Leeds’ last chance to make permanent signings for the season, although the loan window for Football League clubs would re-open the following week.

On the 1st February, amongst all the madness, Leeds beat Huddersfield 5-1.  McDermott did not attend the match.
On the 1st February, amongst all the madness, Leeds beat Huddersfield 5-1. McDermott did not attend the match.

24 hours earlier, a proposed takeover of the club by a consortium led by managing director David Haigh had fallen through. Haigh’s group were expected to acquire a minimum of 75% stake through his company, Sport Capital. It came after rumours of a rival bid involving Massimo Cellino, the owner of Italian club Cagliari, Furthermore, earlier in the week, McDermott had admitted that off-the-field uncertainties were having a negative impact on the players.

At the Huddersfield game, Whites fans sang McDermott's name throughout and protested his alleged sacking
At the Huddersfield game, Whites fans sang McDermott’s name throughout and protested his alleged sacking

But then on the 1st February, in another unexpected twist, a Leeds statement read: “The club would like to make it clear that Brian McDermott remains our first-team manager. He has not been dismissed from his post as has been suggested. We look forward to him continuing in his role with us in taking Leeds forward.”

Very strange.

It has turned out that it was all about Massimo Cellino taking over the club and supposedly indicating that he wanted someone else in charge. He has since insisted that he is fully supportive of McDermott, a fact that I find hard to believe. The club are still going through a transition in their ownership and I do fear for them and McDermott. I thought he was fantastic for us at Reading, getting us promoted to the Premier League as champions before getting unfairly (in, my mind) sacked less than 12 months later. It has been a shame to see what he is going through at Leeds and if I was him, I’d resign sooner rather than later.

Massimo Cellino
Massimo Cellino

Massimo Cellino doesn’t seem the most easiest person to work with and I think that he could sack Brian McDermott come the end of the season, no matter where they finish. Here are some of his credentials:

  • His superstitions include a fear of the number 17, which  has posed the Sardinian a few problems. Cagliari’s stadium doesn’t have any seats numbered 17 for a start. Instead, they are labelled 16b.
  • In 21 years at the club, he has sacked 35 managers.
  • For the last few games of the 2011-12 season, Cagliari played their home games in Trieste, a seaport some 500 miles from Cagliari.
  • In 1996, he was given a suspended 14-month sentence after being convicted of deceiving the European Union and Italian Ministry of Agriculture out of £7.5m.
  • In 2001, he received a 15-month suspended sentence for false accounting at Cagliari.

Find out more about him here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/26006243

You’ll be surprised, and perhaps horrified at times. So probably don’t read it if you support Leeds. Life under him would probably be chaotic and controversial. But never, ever, dull.

I may not have been able to clear up everything that’s going on at Leeds, but I hope that I’ve made some things a lot clearer to everyone on the outside. I just hope that everything turns out alright for the club, as long as it doesn’t mean they beat Reading to promotion!

The main headlines of the past few weeks:

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