Three defeats since Steve Thompson’s suspension. Redfearn: “It hasn’t helped. We were on a good run and things didn’t need changing.”




April 2015



Thursday 30th of April “Steve Thompson return key to my future” – Redfearn YP Neil Redfearn believes Leeds United are still undecided about his future as head coach and says he will ask the club to reinstate his suspended assistant, Steve Thompson, if they move to renew his contract. Speaking ahead of what could be his last game in charge, the Leeds boss admitted an agreement which brings Thompson back to Elland Road would be a crucial part of any discussions about an extension of his own deal. Redfearn and United’s owner, Massimo Cellino, are expected to meet for talks next week with Cellino’s Football League disqualification almost at an end. The Italian’s short-term ban – imposed on him following his conviction for tax evasion last year – runs out this Sunday, allowing him to retake control of a club with countless pressing issues. Redfearn’s position is up in the air with his contract set to run out after Saturday’s match against Rotherham United and the club yet to inform him if they will take up an option to extend his deal for another 12 months. The 49-year-old anticipated a decision ahead of the end of the Championship season but developments regarding his future will wait until Cellino is reinstalled at Elland Road on Monday. Redfearn, however, is prepared to fight Thompson’s corner following the sudden and unexplained suspension of his number two last month. Thompson was removed from his post and told that his contract would not be renewed when it ran out this summer, a decision Leeds said was taken by their sporting director, Nicola Salerno. The reasons for suspending Thompson, who is being advised by the League Managers’ Association, have never been outlined but Leeds lost five matches back-to-back following his departure on April 4. They ended that run with a win at Sheffield Wednesday last Saturday. Redfearn, who has repeatedly stated that he would seek assurances from United about key issues before agreeing to remain as head coach, said: “That’s got to be resolved. Steve’s been suspended but I don’t think there’s been an inquiry since. It would be nice to know what’s at the bottom of it. It would be good if I could get Steve back. That for me would be a big plus and I think it’s important for me to know that that would happen. Steve came in and made a big difference. We worked well together. For me going forward, as a pair we compliment each other well. If we could do something about that it would be a big plus.” Redfearn has had no discussions about his job with anyone at Leeds during Cellino’s absence and chairman Andrew Umbers told the YEP last week that a decision on United’s head coach would be made by Cellino after the end of the Italian’s Football League ban. Asked if he thought Cellino had already made up his mind, Redfearn said: It seems like they’ve not decided either way or I’d have thought that by this point they’d have told me. “They know what I’m like and they know I’m professional enough to get on with it, if it was a case of ‘look, we’re going to change it in the summer.’ If it was only to the end of this season I’d have been professional and done it. It leads me to think that they’re undecided. “Probably next week it’ll unravel and whatever will happen will happen. The club will move on.” Cellino has been given permission by the Football League to go to Saturday’s match – the last of the Championship term – and to be present at the club’s end-of-season awards ceremony later than night. The 58-year-old told the YEP on Tuesday that he was yet to decided if he would attend either event. Sections of Leeds’ support have protested against him during recent matches – venting their frustration at the end of a turbulent season – and are likely to do so again on Saturday. Redfearn, who could still be offered the chance to resume his previous role as academy boss if Leeds turn to a new head coach, admitted that it would “hurt” him to be overlooked after a season in which he and his squad fought a successful battle against relegation. But the former Barnsley midfielder said: “I’m a cellino_webprofessional person and I understand how football works. I said last week that I’ve got no divine right to be manager of LeedsRedders United but I’d love to be in charge next season. That goes without saying. “I can see the way forward and by that I mean I can see the young players getting better and better. I can see us adding other players to it. I can see the experienced players who are here growing and taking responsibility. I can see the majority of the overseas lads finding their feet. I can see it taking off. Why wouldn’t I want to be part of that?”


Little Bournemouth with their 10,000 crowds enter the Premiership whilst Leeds United, the fourth largest city in England remain for the 11th season consigned to the abyss of Championship football under an autocratic reign full of confusion and lack of desire and purpose.

Thursday 30th of April Whites must try to emulate the Cherries – Lorimer Bournemouth’s story is quite incredible and all the more so because I can remember a time when the Premier League was a pipedream for them. A few years ago Leeds United were playing at Bournemouth and taking an away crowd of about 3,000. We’d sold our full allocation but generally speaking the away club are given a few weeks to send the money on. On this occasion Bournemouth asked for the cash immediately. Without putting too fine a point on things, I think they were desperate for it. I was the only board member travelling to the game so I took a cheque with me to Dean Court. The guy who took it from me couldn’t have been more grateful or more relieved. The truth about Bournemouth is that they’ve come through some seriously hard times to make it out of the Championship. The fact that a club of that size is heading into the Premier League is a story in itself but it’s even more astonishing when you consider how much trouble they were in at one stage – pleading with Leeds to pay up pronto for tickets. I know what’ll be happening amongst our supporters at the moment. They’ll be thinking ‘how the hell are Bournemouth going up when Leeds have been stuck in the Championship for ages?’ For what it’s worth I tipped Bournemouth at the start of this season. Watching them take us apart at Dean Court a year ago made me realise that they’d be a big threat. They’ve got pace in their team and they’re very attack-minded. That, in my view, is the best way out of the Championship – to smash everyone to bits, rather than hanging back and playing it safe. It’s an interesting group of players down there. For one thing the majority are British and an awful lot of them came from relative obscurity. Eddie Howe hasn’t spent his time raiding the left-overs from top-flight clubs. He’s gone around the lower leagues and picked up footballers who fit his style of play and evidently have much more to offer than they’ve previously shown. For me, this story shouldn’t cause frustration for anyone. It should give every other team in the Championship hope. Now that Bournemouth have gone up, there won’t be a single club in the division who settles happily for mid-table obscurity. Every manager will reckon that with a good summer behind them, next year could be a genuine opportunity. Basically, there’s no longer any excuse for a team to climb into the Championship and aim for 21st place. That doesn’t mean certain squads won’t need time to consolidate and adjust but it’s a negative mindset to think that the play-offs are impossible. And the evidence suggest otherwise. This season proves beyond any doubt that unfancied clubs can get there. In the case of Leeds, you couldn’t say that finishing 15th or thereabouts next season would be a positive thing. I’ll settle for that position this term because at the turn of the year I thought we were in major relegation trouble – and if I’m being totally honest, I don’t think we deserve to be much higher in the table. But now it’s time to draw a line under all that. So can Leeds get it together this summer and do what Bournemouth have done in a year’s time? I genuinely think it’s possible. It’s going to take a huge amount of hard work and an awful lot of sorting out but the close season starts next week and we’ve got three months to prepare. I’ve said before that I think this season’s been a massive learning curve for our owner. It’s made it pretty clear where the team is short and what the club need to do if we’re going to be successful going forward. You obviously want a coach who’s safe in his position and has the confidence of the people above him. Eddie Howe is an example of that. And you want a team with the right amount of pace and firepower to mix it with other sides in the Championship. That doesn’t mean a tight defence isn’t very welcome too but Watford and Bournemouth have both scored 90 league goals this season. It can’t be a coincidence that when push came to shove, everyone else below them cracked. But Bournemouth are evidence too of why big-name players aren’t always the answer. What you need is the right players with the right attributes in the right system. There are lots of successful players in the Championship who wouldn’t fit into Howe’s side at all. Their qualities or their style of play just wouldn’t suit Bournemouth. It’s horses for courses at the top of the league. That’s where Leeds can really improve. We saw a massive flood of players into the club last summer and in fairness, it was always going to be difficult to fit them into a successful formation quickly. What the club have to do now is get their heads together, work out what assets they’ve got and decide how best to build around them. I’ve said before that this Leeds side doesn’t need ripping up and I stand by that. It just needs investment around the better players, and particularly around the youngsters. What we also have to accept, however, is that the Championship is going to be another massive scrap next season. It’s got to the stage where it’s pointless predicting who will and won’t get promoted because the season is turning on split-seconds – like Middlesbrough conceding in the way they did at Fulham on Saturday. I thought Middlesbrough had a great chance this season. They looked to be all set for promotion. And they might get there still. But the play-offs are tough and unpredictable so for all that Boro probably deserve to go up, it might be the Championship for them again next season. That’s the league and sometimes it doesn’t go your way. But what everyone should strive for – and Leeds as much as anyone else – is to at least be in with a shout.

Tuesday 28th of April Leeds United owner allowed to watch game Banned Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino has been given permission by the Football League to attend the Championship club’s final match of the season against Rotherham on Saturday. Cellino was told to stay away from the club until the end of the season after being found guilty of tax evasion. “He has been given permission to attend as a spectator,” a Football League spokesman told BBC Sport. But the club said it was unsure whether the Italian would be at Elland Road. “The only person who knows if he is coming is him,” the Leeds spokesman added. Cellino has not been officially involved at the Yorkshire club since he was barred by the Football League in March. Some Whites supporters have turned against the former Cagliari owner recently, as head coach Neil Redfearn’s position at Elland Road appeared under threat. Redfearn’s side lost five matches in a row – slipping to 16th in the Championship table – after his assistant Steve Thompson lost his job without warning on 2 April. Fans chanted their support for Redfearn – and their discontent with Cellino – during Saturday’s 2-1 win at Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday. And the Leeds United Supporters Trust, which has about 9,000 members, believes home fans will make their dissatisfaction towards Cellino known at the game against Rotherham this weekend. It is a matter for Mr Cellino whether he attends his first game for four months,” said LUST spokesman Michael Green. “From the Trust’s perspective, regardless of whether he does or doesn’t turn up, we hope he listens to the fans as they articulate their clear support for Neil Redfearn, stability, keeping our young talent and Leeds United.”  Redfearn’s contract expires at the end of the season and it is uncertain whether his deal will be renewed under the club’s current regime. The club’s former academy boss has also had to contend with the sudden withdrawal of six players ahead of the defeat at Charlton through injury. David Hockaday, Cellino’s first appointment as Leeds manager, was sacked after six matches, while replacement Darko Milanic left after just 32 days.

Mon 27th of April. Redfearn to fight for his “voice to be heard” Neil Redfearn said he would fight for his voice to be heard” at Leeds United after Saturday’s 2-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday moved him a step closer to a decision on his future as head coach. Redfearn admitted that his willingness to accept an extension to his contract would rest on the level of authority given to him by the club and their banned owner, Massimo Cellino – and hinted that he would not rush into reclaiming his old job as academy boss. Leeds’ victory at Hillsborough carried them into the final week of a hard Championship season and Redfearn’s squad will complete their campaign at home to Rotherham United this Saturday. United are headed for a mid-table finish after their performance in Sheffield ended a run of five straight defeats and left them in 15th position. The conclusion of the Rotherham game will bring Redfearn’s situation to a head with his existing deal due to expire this summer and Cellino poised to retake control of Leeds once his Football League disqualification ends on Sunday. Redfearn, who became head coach on a permanent basis in November, remains in the dark about his job and is yet to have any discussions with the club about their plans for him. I want this club to be mobile,” Redfearn said.My voice needs to be heard, my experience needs to be listened to and then we need to get our heads together. We need to agree on things. If we do that we’ve got a great chance of getting out of this division.” Redfearn’s contract includes an option giving Leeds the right to extend his tenure for another 12 months but it also offers him the chance to resume his role in United’s academy – the job he left to take charge of the first-team squad. Asked if he was still open to the possibility of working at youth-team level again, Redfearn said: I’ve got to have that conversation with the owner. “With where the club is and with the talent we’ve got coming through the academy – which has been the fruits of all the academy staff, not just me; everybody that’s been involved – I’d say I’m in the best place (as head coach) to develop that and harness that. “Now if that opinion’s not shared, that’s no problem. That’s football. But then I’ll have to have a real, long hard think about what’s right for me.” Redfearn insisted that he retained the support of the squad at Elland Road, saying: “They’re buying into what I’m doing. When me and Steve (Thompson, United’s suspended assistant) were together, they were buying into it wholeheartedly. They’ve wanted to show that they’re behind it and that’s been really apparent. It was apparent in the run that got us out of trouble and it was apparent in this game (at Hillsborough).”

Mon 27th of April Refearn’s done a terrific job but his future needs sorting now – Eddie Gray – YP WE needed a win at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday and it was a good victory after coming back from 1-0 down. The players will be delighted and I thought they thoroughly deserved the victory. They played well – especially in the second half when they took control of the game. The conditions weren’t easy – it was a bit windy and the pitch was a bit bobbly but they coped with conditions very well and it was a good all-round performance. The defenders did their job when they had to but going forward they did well too. When Billy Sharp came on he gave us a little bit of inspiration. He worked extremely hard and he will have been delighted to have put one over on Sheffield Wednesday! Steve Morison scored again and it’s been a long time for him to wait for his goals to come. But it could be a nice finish to the season for him and he’ll be hoping to sign off against Rotherham next Saturday with another one. That could be an interesting game depending on how Rotherham’s game against Reading goes mid-week. They could be clear of relegation by then or still fighting for their lives. I think Neil Redfearn will have been delighted with how the players performed at Hillsborough as it’s always a tough game, a local derby. We stepped it up when it mattered and I thought we deserved it, especially against probably our biggest rivals in Yorkshire in Sheffield Wednesday, from the point of view of them being a big club, too. There was a big crowd there – over 28,000 – so it created a good atmosphere and the Leeds fans will have been delighted. There’s only the Rotherham game left now and Neil’s future is still unclear. And unless things get resolved quickly you just wonder what’s going to happen. I don’t know whether Neil is having any talks with the owner and if he’s not communicating with him now then it doesn’t look that good. We’re safe in the league and we’re coming to the end of the season and now should be the time when you are drawing up your retained list, players you want to keep and players you want to bring in to the club. As a manager, you are trying to get things put into motion so you are ready to go for the start of the new season. But I don’t know what the owner’s plans are and you don’t even know how Neil feels himself now. He’s got to think about his career as well, what he wants to do and we’ll have to wait and see what transpires. People will probably be looking at Neil and thinking ‘he’s done a good job, we wouldn’t mind him at our club’, so he might have things to think about as well. But it would be disappointing for Neil if he couldn’t get the opportunity to finish the job he’s started. He’s brought a few of the young boys in but I still think we’ll have to get players in if we are going to be worthwhile challengers next season. The thing about football clubs is you have got to have a good relationship between the people at the top and the coaching staff, especially the head coach. And I don’t know how that particular relationship is. I think Neil has done a terrific job. It’s difficult circumstances at the club as everybody knows – it’s been like that for a bit now. At one stage, we looked in deep relegation trouble and he introduced a few of the younger players and we got over that. It’s not been a great finish to the season but it was a good win at the weekend and we’ll hopefully win on Saturday. So you’ve got to say Neil has done a good job but football is a strange game and anybody could be the ideal person for the job if they get the results. And I don’t know what the owner or the people in charge think as they might believe we should have done better this year. We’re 15th at best and the league doesn’t lie so they might think differently to me or other people. We’ll have to wait and see when Massimo Cellino comes back what direction he’s going to take. What the atmosphere is like for Saturday’s final game I don’t know. You just hope that a decent crowd turns up that gets behind the team. I just hope we can finish off with a victory that gives the players the confidence to start next season on a high.


Charlie Taylor celebrates with a team united behind their coach – but it will make no difference because the muppet in charge will still sack him at the end, when the crowds are gone, the cameras are switched off, and there is nobody watching

Mon 27th of April Redfearn has baking of everyone at the club – Charlie Taylor Charlie Taylor threw his support behind Neil Redfearn after Leeds United’s 2-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday, claiming Redfearn had the backing of everyone at the club” and saying a decision to keep him next season was a “no-brainer”. The 21-year-old gave United’s head coach a vote of confidence after his goal at Hillsborough helped end a frustrating run of five successive defeats. Leeds fought back from a Chris Maguire penalty to level through Taylor’s 57th-minute tap-in and then win a tight derby with Steve Morison’s second strike in as many games. Redfearn and his players took appreciative applause from an away following of 4,000, many of whom sat through a 6-0 thrashing at Hillsborough last season, and attention afterwards turned again to the future of United’s boss with only one match remaining before his contract expires. Taylor – an academy product who has become a first-team regular during Redfearn’s tenure – said Saturday’s win was “for Neil and the fans” and insisted that the squad at Leeds wanted the 49-year-old to remain in charge next season. Tensions at Elland Road have been evident in the past fortnight, heightened by the controversy surrounding the withdrawal of six players before Leeds’ 2-1 defeat at Charlton Athletic on April 18. None of those players featured in Redfearn’s squad at Hillsborough, though one of them – defender Giuseppe Bellusci – tweeted later saying he was “happy we made this victory.” Asked if he wanted Redfearn to remain in charge, Taylor said: Yes, 100 per cent. I don’t think there’s any player at the club who doesn’t want him to stay. Everyone’s right behind him. It’s a no-brainer for me really. “I think everyone at the club (wants him to stay on). All the players do. Hopefully he’s here next year and we can give it a real good crack. He’s handled it all brilliantly. Nothing seems to faze him and he’s out on the training ground every day. He’s on his own but he’s doing a great job. “Obviously you can see that the fans are behind him and every one of the players is behind him. That win’s for Neil and the fans as well.” United have been plagued by off-field issues since the end of the last international break and they went into Saturday’s derby on the back of six matches without a win. Maguire’s 35th-minute penalty gave Wednesday a half-time lead but Taylor turned the game when he latched onto Luke Murphy’s deflected free-kick and stabbed the ball home from close range in front of the Leppings Lane end. “It was a bit scrappy but a goal’s a goal and it’s one I’ll definitely take,” he said. “It was a great feeling to get the win for the fans. To get one over Yorkshire rivals in a derby game is brilliant. “There’s no hiding that things have been going on behind the scenes here but the players have just got to focus on going out each Saturday and getting a result. You’ve just got to try and forget about it and do your best. I don’t see why we can’t make a big challenge next season, with a few good signings. We’ve just got to try and look forward.” United, who are 15th in the Championship, will finish their season at home to Rotherham United this weekend.

Sheffield Wednesday v Leeds United Luke Morison celebrates with fans

Morison celebrates his second goal in consecutive games (just like buses eh?)


Players celebrate with fans

Sheffield Weds 1 (Maguire pen 36), LUFC 2 (C Taylor 57, Morison 72). United: S Taylor, Wootton, Bamba, Cooper, Berardi, Byram, Mowatt (Sharp 70), Murphy, Austin, C Taylor, Morison. Subs. Cairns, White, Ngoyi, Sloth, Phillips, Montenegro. Referee: R Madleyn. Booked: Helan (Wednesday), Bamba, Murphy (United). Att: 28,227 (3,998 United) Report from official website The final away trip of the 2014/15 season, a lunchtime visit to Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday, saw United head coach Neil Redfearn make one change from the previous weekend’s loss at Charlton as Gaetano Berardi returned to the side in place of Billy Sharp. There was also a return to the matchday squad for Aidy White, who had been out of action since a pre-season ankle injury. It was a typically lively atmosphere for the occasion at Hillsborough, and that reflected in the frantic pace at which the game started as United found themselves in front of goal inside the opening minute. Sam Byram’s perseverance on the edge of the area paid off, winning the ball and slipping Alex Mowatt through on goal, only for Keiren Westwood to deny the midfielder with his legs and divert behind. Wednesday then threatened through Caolan Lavery, cutting inside on the edge of the area before curling a right-footed effort over Stuart Taylor’s bar and into the stand housing the travelling fans. It was Redfearn’s men who had enjoyed the better early sights of goal, though, and Mowatt was agonisingly close from opening the scoring on 15 minutes with a curling free-kick after the advancing Byram had been hauled down right on the edge of the box. An evenly-matched period followed as both sides got to grips with the visibly worn Hillsborough pitch. Taylor was well-positioned to claw away Chris Maguire’s dangerous corner under immense pressure, while Mowatt saw his low strike blocked inside a crowded area as United probed for a way through. But it was the hosts who managed to open the scoring after 36 minutes through Maguire’s penalty. Byram was adjudged to have clipped Lloyd Isgrove inside the area and Maguire was able to convert from 12 yards, calmly sending Taylor diving in the opposite direction. The goal put Wednesday on the front foot and Taylor was called upon to tip Tom Lees’ back-post header over the bar with the first half approaching three minutes of stoppage time. Mowatt then clipped the wall with a 30-yard free-kick, but the referee’s half-time whistle signalled the end of a frustrating opening 45 minutes for United. The two sides re-emerged unchanged and Wednesday soon had the second half’s first sight of goal, but Taylor comfortably held Maguire’s ambitious free-kick from distance. With United now attacking towards their 4,000-strong away support, Rudy Austin scuffed an effort wide from the edge of the area after Mowatt’s free-kick had fallen into his path, while Sol Bamba and Liam Cooper just got in each other’s way following another Mowatt set-piece. But the equaliser was on its way and duly came after 57 minutes as Charlie Taylor slotted home his second goal for the club. Luke Murphy’s free-kick was initially blocked by the Wednesday wall, but the ball was scrambled into the path of Taylor to tuck underneath Westwood and spark scenes of pandemonium among the travelling fans. The hosts looked to mount a quick response, with Maguire firing over on the turn, before making a double substitution to introduce Will Keane and Stevie May. Lavery whipped a dangerous-looking ball across the face of goal, which Taylor was happy to see bounce behind, and May nodded a corner behind, before Redfearn was prompted into his first change of the afternoon on 70 minutes, replacing the tireless Mowatt with Sharp. And the striker was involved almost immediately, playing his part as United took the lead for the first time of the afternoon. Some industrious play from Sharp freed up Byram to stride forward before slotting Morison through on goal. His initial attempt was kept out by the feet of Westwood, but the striker’s composure told as he placed his second goal in as many games into the bottom corner from an acute angle. United were now playing with an air of confidence, and another swift breakaway saw Morison cut the ball back for Taylor inside the area, but his low strike was well blocked in front of goal. Austin smashed an outrageous half-volley over Westwood’s bar from distance, before the midfielder then cut apart the home defence with a surging run, but Taylor was unable to get his shot away. The hosts looked to apply the pressure inside four minutes of added time, but United stood firm to clinch the Yorkshire derby spoils.  When asked if he felt  was the best man for the job, Nil Redfearn :  “If that opinion’s not shared, that’s no problem. That’s football. But I’ll have to have a long, hard think about what’s right for me.” With where the club is and with the talent we’ve got, I’d say I’m in the best place (as head coach) to develop that and harness that.”

Sat 26th of April Hasselbaink wants Leeds job According to a report in The Sun last week, former striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is the choice of Massimo Cellino to replace head coach Neil Redfearn, if he decides against renewing his deal. Hasselbaink is currently working as boss at Burton Albion, having helped them get promoted from League Two. It is his attachment to Burton which provides the biggest obstacle, for Hasselbaink does not feel Cellino’s trigger-happy reputation should deter him from bossing Leeds. The Dutchman was linked earlier in the season after Dave Hockaday’s sacking, and told Talksport at the time he would consider managing Leeds. He said at the time: “I’ve got experience, I know I could take the club forward and I know I can take the club back to where they need to go. “If they want to talk to me, of course I would be interested. Who doesn’t want to manage Leeds United? It’s one of the ten biggest jobs in the country.” In a separate interview with Dutch outlet Voetbal Primeur, reported on by Yahoo Eurosport, Hasselbaink discussed owner Massimo Cellino. He stated last September: “I have not lost interest because of Mr Cellino’s past. It is about whether you can handle the job or not. And I am confident that I can. If you are successful, you don’t get fired. It is that simple. “From what I have read, Mr Cellino wants to be successful and he does everything to achieve that.” Having played for Leeds with real success in the late 90s, Hasselbaink is fondly remembered by fans, but he would be walking into a difficult position at the club if popular head coach Neil Redfearn is moved on to make way for him.

Sat 24th of April. Leak was born out of culture of mistrust- Phil Hay YP  An email went round Leeds United on Monday warning staff that anyone responsible for leaking news of the ‘injured six’ would be disciplined for gross misconduct (and presumably sacked). It’s standard procedure at football clubs and Leeds have been here before. At the start of 2012 an internal investigation was carried out into reports about Robert Snodgrass undergoing surgery to remove his appendix. The source of the story was never identified but both examples show how defensive clubs can be when sensitive information seeps out. Leeds are more than entitled to conceal the fitness of their players. Wrong-footing the press and other clubs is an age-old tactic. What annoyed them about the Snodgrass leak was that it came 48 hours before a game at Barnsley. The club were out of form at the time and, coincidentally or not, took a heavy beating at Oakwell. But with Snodgrass in hospital after complaining of stomach pains, there was never any argument about the severity of his condition. Events at Thorp Arch last Friday were altogether different. The injuries which Leeds say six players sustained before their game at Charlton were the bones of the controversy but not the crux of it. At no stage was anyone trying to tip off the opposition. The leak was symptomatic of a wider culture of disharmony at Leeds, a culture which threatening emails won’t change. Marco Silvestri aside, United’s line-up at The Valley on Saturday looked as strong as it would have done with every player present. Brian Montenegro was the only out-and-out striker on the bench so in that respect the squad fell short but Charlton’s advantage man-for-man was negligible. Leeds were on for a win until the 75th minute, as fluent as they’d been since the end of the international break. The leak about the missing six had far more to do with incidents preceding last week: with Steve Thompson’s suspension, with Mirco Antenucci’s contract and with the overwhelming perception that Neil Redfearn, United’s head coach, is being dangled for as long as it takes for Massimo Cellino to kick him out. Redfearn is said to have been philosophical about the absentees; sceptical about the severity of some of the injuries but happy with the cohesion and attitude of the 19 players who boarded the bus to London. “Buzzing” was how one individual described the mood in the hotel on Friday night, strange as that sounds. What certain people around him were unwilling to accept was another irregular episode which compromised him most. If all six injuries were genuine – and the club contend bitterly that they were – then Redfearn is one unlucky punter. When players aren’t dropping out en masse, he’s losing an assistant who, after three steady months, decides to do something to someone. In the midst of that he’s being told by Leeds to remember the incentives in Antenucci’s contract but decide for himself if those incentives matter. These things keep happening and floating to the surface. It smacks of a badly fragmented club, whatever chairman Andrew Umbers says about staff at Elland Road “enjoying the last few months.” Some of them will be happy and some of them will be immune from everything. But it’s extremely easy to find others who are demoralised by political division. They might not say so to Umbers or Cellino but they say it to us. Some feel undervalued and some feel neglected. It cannot be a healthy environment – inside the club or outside – when the instinctive response to six players crying off is to link them to Cellino and ask if they are purposely undermining Redfearn. On Tuesday, with the dust settling on that story, I went to speak with Umbers at Elland Road. The transcript is on record and in full on the YEP’s website and anyone reading it can take the quotes as they find them. In Umbers’ defence he answered every question he was asked and answered without rancour. He had none of the aggression of Ken Bates whose wife once spent an interview at Thorp Arch looking like she wanted to stab me but Tuesday’s exchange was still played with a politician’s evasive bat. Certain responses were unsatisfactory and others unconvincing. His attitude is fairly plain: the current strategy is right for the club and so is Cellino. I told him afterwards that I doubted both of those claims but a hack on a local newspaper is hardly the oracle. Suffice to say that Cellino has had his honeymoon period (much as it resembled a package holiday to Grozny). What caught me by surprise was the renovation work which has gone on in parts of Elland Road’s East Stand. I was shown around the general offices, many of which have been upgraded at great expense in the past few months. The carpets look like football pitches and the walls are decorated with huge murals of crowds and players; evocative images of that sort. Employees will move in once Cellino sweeps back from his disqualification next month. It would be tenuous to draw a correlation between improved staff quarters and a strong football team but the improvements were not what you expected of a club whose owner seems at regular junctures to be on his last legs. They do not tally with the reputation of a club that often appears to take guidance on their next move from a ouija board. It’s actual infrastructure and, alongside many other things, Leeds need masses of it. They need foundations. Which little by little brings us back to the injury leak. That news did not slip out because the odd individual has an axe to grind, even if Leeds want to tell themselves that. It slipped out because the club are sapped of trust and collective spirit. Coaches are wary of the people above them and players are wary of each other. Lower-level staff do what they do without knowing where they stand. Plugging the leaks is United’s prerogative but it’s not the answer to any of that. The club would be better off asking why it is that so many in-house feel compelled to speak up.

Thursday 23rd of April. It’s depressing to see club ridiculed repeatedly – Lorimer YP Whatever really happened at Thorp Arch last week – and I’m no clearer on the facts than anyone else – people will always point the finger when several players cry off injured just before a game. On the face of it, the situation does stink and we’re sitting at the end of another terrible week of bad press. Over the years Leeds United have had enough negative publicity without creating their own and it depresses me to see the club getting ridiculed again. Personally I’m wary of wading in and criticising the six foreign lads who missed the game away at Charlton because, like most other people, I can only guess about what’s gone on. Maybe all six were truly injured. Maybe only a few of them were. I’m not going to accuse all six of downing tools en masse because I don’t know if that’s true and I’d be doing them an injustice if it wasn’t. All I know is that the situation is very unusual and very strange. Andrew Umbers interview – ‘the absent six’, Redfearn and Thompson, Cellino’s future: Click here for more If a player walks into a physio and tells him that, for the sake of argument, he’s got a sore calf, a physio has to take that at face value. This is nothing to do with the medical staff at Thorp Arch. They’re just doing their jobs. At the end of the day, a footballer is injured if he thinks he is. It’s a mindset which is more and more common in the modern age. What really disappoints me is that all six players ruled themselves out there and then on Friday. There didn’t seem to be any willingness – unlike, say, Gaetano Berardi – to travel down on the coach, give it another 24 hours and hope to be passed fit on Saturday morning. Maybe it’s a generational thing but I can’t relate to that at all. Back in my day we all wanted to play every week – and when I say wanted, I mean you were p***** off if you were left out. Most of us used to hide injuries or play them down, mainly because you didn’t want to give anyone an excuse to drop you. I suppose we were all very aware of who was paying our wages. We all knew that people were travelling hundreds and thousands of miles and paying good money to watch us in the freezing cold. It wasn’t the done thing to err on the side of caution and when you see some of the old boys like Johnny Giles and Trevor Cherry having a go this week, the reason they’re doing so is because they’ve got genuine passion for the club. The success of Leeds United has always mattered to us and the bad times make us angry. Football these days, and I’m not only talking about the foreign lads here, is weighted far too heavily in favour of the players. They’re almost untouchable and sometimes they really do need a reality check.

Let’s be honest, this week has been a reality check for everyone at Leeds. If any of the six players were 100 per cent unfit to play then I’m sorry that they’ve come in for a barrage of criticism. But at the same time, the reaction of the fans makes me think that no player at Leeds will ever be tempted to pull a fast one again. It’s the one thing the supporters cannot accept – a lack of dedication or commitment.

The thing that worries me more at the moment is the air of conflict between the fans and the club. I heard what the supporters were chanting at Charlton and I’m sure the message will have got back to Massimo Cellino too.

I’m not going to criticise our support in any way because I am seriously amazed at the loyalty they’ve shown over the past 10 or 12 years. Others would have walked away from all this. And I won’t have any player tell me that the backing this season hasn’t been superb. On the contrary, it’s been outstanding in a year when the club have given the crowd very little back. The fans have been 100 per cent fair and the squad should be very grateful for that.

But my concern is that we’re going to be our own worst enemies. I can see with my own eyes and hear with my own ears that sections of the support are critical of Massimo and losing faith in him. To cut to the chase, they were chanting, at Charlton, for him to sell the club and clear off.

I know the rumours suggest otherwise but I’m telling you now, there’s no queue of people out there waiting to buy Leeds United. For all the talk on social media, I speak to people and I keep my ear to the ground and I’m not convinced that cash-rich buyers are on the doorstep begging Massimo to sell his shares.

We’ve been in situations before where the club had an owner who the fans wanted out. They got their way but then, before long, the next owner was under pressure to sell up and go. We seem to be stuck in a permanent cycle of pressure and change.

My opinion of Massimo is that he’s got to come back in next month and give us a statement of intent. He’s got to show us where we’re going, which players and coaches we’re going there with and he’s got to find a way to bring the club under control; to stop the daily doses of chaos. We’re all sick of it and he must be as well.

I’m not pretending for a moment that he doesn’t have to deliver. Of course he does. And if he can’t deliver then it goes without saying that he’s going to get a lot of heat from the fans. But as I’ve said before, it’s very hard to draw a final conclusion about him when for most of this season he’s been fighting the Football League. He’s been banned for the second half of it and in January we were under a transfer embargo. No owner is going to do a great job in those circumstances.

I’m not arguing that the current situation is acceptable. Weeks like this one are so frustrating.

But I still believe we should be careful in making sure that Massimo isn’t forced out before he’s had a proper chance to make it work. Otherwise we’ll find ourselves going round in circles again

Tues April 21st  Transcript of Andrew Umbers interview – ‘the absent six’, Redfearn and Thompson, Cellino’s future. Yorkshire Evening Post chief football writer Phil Hay on Tuesday sat down with Leeds United chairman Andrew Umbers. Here is the full transcript of that interview.

PH: The obvious place to start is with the six players who were declared injured towards the end of last week. Do you believe that all six were unfit to play and do you believe that they were unfit to travel? AU: I spent two hours at Thorp Arch this morning, extending the conversations I’d had on Wednesday after the Norwich game, on Thursday and on Saturday. Neil Redfearn and me get an injury list every single day. Harvey Sharman – our head physio who’s extremely good and talks to the players night and day – puts on an email exactly what’s going on. With Cani, when we signed him we knew he had a problem with his knee. He’s got tendinitis. He rang Harvey on Thursday night and said ‘the knee’s not good after training.’ Harvey said ‘come in early before training on Friday and let’s assess it.’ He assessed it and Harvey said ‘no good’. Cani went for an MRI scan this morning. With Silvestri, we all know that he got an injury against Norwich. Harvey wasn’t sure if he had chipped a bone. He wasn’t able to train last week, or what training he did he wasn’t really able to move. He was doing significant physio work and it wasn’t successful. On Thursday Harvey told us by email and by phone that he was unlikely to be able to play. He’s had an MRI scan this morning too. There’s significant bruising but no chipped bone. He’s done light training this morning but I mean gingerly training. With Bellusci, we’ve had a problem with his hamstring all season. He’s still having treatment, he’s also gone for an MRI scan and we knew on Thursday that he was injured. With Del Fabro, whether he was in the squad for Charlton or not is to be debated. But he took a very heavy knock on Thursday, reported into Harvey at 9am on Friday and said it was painful. He’s got a contusion, it’s swollen. He couldn’t play or get on the bus. With Doukara, again he’s had a groin injury all season. It’s got better but it still needs significant amount of work. Antenucci had treatment on Wednesday, treatment on Thursday and treatmeMore importantly, Harvey Sharman kept us all informed on Thursday and Friday so when we read what was said in the newspapers and on social media on Friday night, it was no surprise to me that these guys weren’t playing. I’ve spoken to each of them individually and collectively. Individually there’s no question in my mind that with Harvey’s expertise and our information, their injuries can be contradicted. These guys were genuinely injured. They want to wear the white shirt and play for Leeds United, whether they’re in the squad or on the periphery of it. If they’re picked, they want to play. And they’re very upset because everything has been personalised. Their loyalty has been challenged. I am satisfied that’s not the case. nt on Friday. He might be back next Monday. He might be light training by Friday.

PH: The owner, Massimo Cellino, said it was a “weird situation”. Silvestri’s father said he, in his words, thought it was a “silly protest” from some of the six players. Neil Redfearn said that as of Friday morning, he thought it was likely that all six would be available – and with at least four of them he was unaware of any problems. That all contradicts your version. AU: Harvey spoke to Neil firstly and he speaks to him morning, noon and night. He treats all the players. He’s frighteningly honest, he’s frighteningly good and that’s a fact. Massimo is not here anyway. PH: So when Massimo says you didn’t find out about the injuries until Friday night, that’s untrue?

AU: Massimo doesn’t get any of our injury lists. He’s not allowed to. Firstly he’s not on email but he’s not allowed to get involved day-to-day. Those are the rules and regulations that he signed up to. He wouldn’t know. He’s reporting what he sees.

PH: But if he says that the chairman hasn’t found out until Friday night, he must have spoken to you. That’s the inference and a contradiction.

AU: No, he doesn’t know. I don’t speak to Massimo every day. What I keep him in touch with about are things like an awards ceremony where Lewis Cook is up for an award, or certain things on the cash-flow side just to let him know. He owns this business. I keep him in touch with the strategic stuff but not the day-to-day stuff.

PH: What does it say though about the credibility of the club or public trust in the club that the assumption was that with those six players, it was a downing of tools or a collective withdrawal designed to undermine Neil Redfearn? AU: I don’t think anything is designed to undermine Neil Redfearn. Neil is first-team coach, he’s no different to John Carver, Sam Allaryce or Mark Warburton – all of whom are going to the end of the season to renegotiate their contracts. He’s no different to that. You have to remember that I’m in charge of the business side of Leeds United, not the footballing side. I want to be clear about that.

PH: But a club chairman has to oversee both, surely? Isn’t that the job?

AU: No, the authority that’s been given to me is purely on the business side, not on the football side. But in the last four or five days, particularly with the issues that have been directed at me professionally and personally, obviously I’ve had to get involved. This club has a communication issue. It has a communication issue with its stewards, its fans and its sponsors and that has to improve.

PH: There is a trust issue too, clearly. Sections of the public don’t trust what the club does and says. That true, isn’t it?

AU: I think, with respect, there’s been a trust issue here for donkey’s years. Fifteen years maybe. It’s always the Leeds United way. However, what Massimo has always said, what I’ve always said, is that we respect the fact that the fans pay money. The fans own Leeds United and in a way they own the club. The fact is that we need to be able to communicate better. It was handled appallingly (last week) and within 10 minutes of training finishing at Thorp Arch on Friday, before they got on the bus at 2pm, it was tweeted that six players weren’t playing. So of course there’s a conspiracy. That’s how these things start. The use of social media is something this club has not addressed. It something we’re going to address because clearly what we do behind closed doors, the decisions that are made, the fans need to be able to trust us to do it properly.

PH: Do they believe that? Do they believe that the people at the top here are fit to run the club or responsible?

AU: I hope they do. With the mess financially we inherited, with the players who were let go or sold at the start of this season, we’ve made significant changes on the football side. On the financial side we’ve significantly reduced the debt, we’re restructured the framework of the club and we’ve tried to re-engage with the council, the business community. We’ve only started and we’ve got a long way to go. Trust isn’t built overnight. All we wanted was a clean slate and that clean slate was get ourselves stable financially and stable on the football side.

PH: It doesn’t look stable on the football side.

AU: I respect the fact that many people don’t think we’re stable on the football side. But when we get into the close season we can explain ourselves, explain the strategic plan. From a fans’ perspective, they’re not that interested in the business side. They’re interested in the football side. They should remember that we’ve let lots of players gone and signed lots of new ones. There are always integration issues. In hindsight I think there are things we would do better. I’ve talked to the president (Cellino) about how we need to do things better next season and in the close season to make sure we’re completely ready for next season.

PH: Will Neil Redfearn be head coach at the start of next season?

AU: That is Mr Cellino’s decision.

PH: Who will advise him on that and what advice would you give him?

AU: Massimo’s owned a football club for about 25 years. He’s extremely able on business and in my view he’s even better on the footballing side. Whatever decision he takes will be for the benefit of Leeds United. Neil Redfearn I think has done a good job

PH: As chairman do you think he has done enough to deserve another contract? If it was your decision, would you give him another contract?

AU: It’s not my decision.

PH: Can comment then on how he’s performed, given that the club were in relegation trouble but have been safe for the best part of two months?

AU: Look, Neil has got us into a position of safety in the Championship. When you judge someone on performance, that’s a tick in the box.

PH: There’s a perception outside the club, among us in the media and the fans, that Neil has been undermined in his position as head coach. Things have been made more difficult for him. Do you disagree with that or accept that it might be true?

AU: When you sign players, you have appearances, goals, longevity, promotion – bonuses, all four of them. We have that with almost every one of our squad; various things where on a certain amount of appearances, goals or where we’re positioned in the league, individuals get a bonus. I can think of a dozen players where it’s like that. Neil’s aware of those contractual obligations and from time-to-time we remind him of those obligations. But in no way do we – and this includes when Massimo’s here – tell him who to put out on a Saturday or a Tuesday night.

PH: That seems to allude to Mirco Antenucci’s situation. Is it the case that you, Massimo or anyone else at the club told Neil or suggested to him that he shouldn’t play Antenucci because of a clause in his contract? Was that ever suggested, was it ever touched upon?

AU: Neil was aware that Mirco scoring two more goals gives him an extra year on his contract. We didn’t make that public but Neil was made aware of it.

PH: That implies that the club didn’t want Antenucci to play?

AU: We in no way said ‘don’t play him’. Absolutely not. You’ve got to pick the best players otherwise the fans pay for a ticket and don’t get the best team. They’ve got a right to complain about that.

PH: But do the club want Antenucci to have another year on his contract? He’s into his 30s. Are the club trying to avoid that?

AU: Mirco Antenucci is contracted to Leeds United for next year. What we do with Mirco and his contract is between us. We want him to stay because we think he’s a fantastic striker who’s got better and better as he’s got more used to the Championship – and though the coaching of Neil Redfearn.

PH: If Neil Redfearn is not going to be head coach next season, what has the club done to look for a replacement – given that the season ends in 10 days’ time and the transfer window opens soon?

AU: We’re always looking to improve the infrastructure of the footballing and business sides of Leeds United. With regards to Neil, we’ve done nothing because it is Massimo Cellino’s decision as to what he wants to do with his staff. We’d be in breach of contract, in breach of trust if we did anything else. Neil’s a Leeds United man and he’s performed. He’s kept us in the Championship this year.

PH: So the idea that Neil Redfearn is as good as gone, the assumption that he’ll lose his job in the summer – you’re saying that’s wrong?

AU: You’re going to have to refer to Massimo on that when he comes back.

PH: On the subject of Steve Thompson, what were the exact reasons for the club suspending Steve from his position as assistant?

AU: Nicola Salerno had a responsibility to look after all the footballing side of Leeds United post Massimo’s disqualification. He took that decision. When we look back on it, was it timely? No. But it happened. The issues that Nicola Salerno had privately and professionally with Steve Thompson were issues that led him to make that decision.

PH: Has Nicola Salerno explained those issues in full to the club’s board?

AU: He came to us and said there had been a breakdown in communication. A breakdown of trust. One or two other personal issues. These matters will be remaining internal.

PH: Have the club properly investigated these issues? Are the allegations actually true?

AU: Of course we have. Steve Thompson had one boss, Nicola Salerno. That boss decided that Steve Thompson was not going to be part of our set-up. That was the decision he made and we supported that. He came to the board and we said ‘okay, but there will be issues that result from this decision.’

PH: So the board were happy to let Salerno take that decision on his own? Doesn’t a football club’s board usually have the final say on these matters?

AU: Those are the authorities vested with Nicola Salerno post Massimo’s disqualification. He made that decision.

PH: Have the reasons been explained in full to Steve Thompson or the League Managers Association who, we understand, are representing him?

AU: I’m not aware of whether they have or haven’t.

PH: In the letter to him he was told that his contract will not be renewed in the summer. Is it not prejudicial to make that decision when he’s suspended from his job, rather than sacked?

AU: In Nicola Salerno’s eyes, he wanted him suspended. I’m afraid that’s the end of it. It’s an internal issue and I’m not going to say anything else.

PH: The four young players who’ve been a shining light this season – Cook, Mowatt, Taylor, Byram – have contracts been offered to those players?

AU: At Cagliari Massimo Cellino built one of the youngest sides in Serie A. When Massimo came and bought Leeds United and sat down with everyone from Terry Potter, Steve Holmes, Andy Wood and Neil Redfearn to talk about the academy – about the under-15s, under-16s, the 21s – we made it a policy to play them. If they’re good enough, play them because we’re going to back you. Leeds United do not want to lose any of these young players. Leeds United will not lose any of these young players.

PH: Have contracts been offered to them?

AU: We’re in the process of working through player contracts for all of our first-team squad and also our scholars. I can only tell you that it’s going to be a very positive message.

PH: But the history of this club is of players leaving and of better players being sold. People won’t take that at face value.

AU: We’re not selling our best players. We are not selling our young players.

PH: Is that a point of principle on which you would resign if it happened? Because it won’t be your decision ultimately.

AU: I’m just aware of what we’re doing and what’s going on. I can’t tell you everything but I can tell you that one or two of these things were sorted out months ago. The fans can be assured – and they’ll judge me on my word – that you’ll see not only those young players but an improved squad by the start of next season.

PH: Massimo is due back here when his disqualification ends on May 3. Do you expect him back on that date and will he retake his position as president on that date?

AU: I’ve written to the chairman, the chief executive and general counsel of the Football League and asked permission for Massimo Cellino, as a spectator, to be allowed to come back for the Rotherham game (United’s last game of the season on May 2).

PH: In his capacity as owner?

AU: No, as a spectator.

PH: Can he not just buy a ticket?

AU: I’d like to think he’s entitled to buy a ticket and come in under human rights law. But we’ve really tried to abide by everything that the Football League have told us to abide by. All their rules, all their regulations, all their unwritten rules. I think we’ve done it successfully. It’s the last game, I’ve asked the Football League whether he can come back.


Umbers would have us believe that the world is flat

PH: The perception on the outside is that he’s still be pulling the strings here, that’s he’s influencing much of what’s going on at the club. It often looks that way.

AU: He’s been in Miami for two to three months. You should ask the staff who’s been running the business and they’ll probably give you a different answer to what you think. On the football side it’s been run by Neil Redfearn. On the business side it’s been run by me. The staff have, I think, enjoyed the three months – or everything up to the last week. Of course Massimo’s watching what’s going on.

PH: He was at Elland Road the Friday before last. That’s not in dispute.

AU: Massimo came to have a look at the pitch. He didn’t come to do any work. He came to look at the new offices, just to say hello. There’s a lot of planning that we have to do for next season. He needs to take stock of what has happened with Steve, with Neil, with Nicola, what’s happening on the business side, what plans we’ve got for infrastructure around Elland Road. Our negotiations to do things with the council. Without making any decisions, he basically needs to understand what it’s like here now. The only way you can do that is if you’re here. He popped in for half an hour. Everyone was very pleased to see him.

PH: You mentioned Nicola Salerno’s situation. He’s clearly been away from the club for weeks. Massimo Cellino said he had resigned as sporting director. What is the position?

AU: Nicola is absent.

PH: Why?

AU: He found social media and everything else too much. He took it all (the reaction to Steve Thompson’s suspension) pretty badly actually. He felt he wasn’t welcome. He’s a fantastic guy, a lovely guy, and he’ll remain absent. We’ll see what happens in the close season.

PH: Has Massimo at any stage spoken to you about potentially selling the club? There have been rumours of takeover throughout the time he’s been disqualified.

AU: I’ll answer that in a different way. He doesn’t want to sell the club and contrary to rumour, I’m not here to sell the club either. I’m here to manage it. I’m a Leeds fan, albeit people might find that slightly ironic, but I am. I’m here to make some hard decisions which benefit the club in the short, the medium and the longer term. There are always people who are interested in buying Leeds United, as there are with every football club. You just have to read about Aston Villa and others who are perceived to have an issue at the top. Massimo is not for selling, I’ve said it before. He’s not for selling but if you’re looking at a house that’s worth a pound and someone offers you four, you might be interested. But in football there’s so much noise. There’s nothing in reality which actually catches you. Has he spoken about it? People have got his phone number. I can’t stop them ringing him. But if we’ve ever talked about things like that in Miami, he’s made a commitment to live in Leeds. He’s made a commitment to put his children in Leeds. His wife came over. You don’t make those decisions and then just walk away. As the fans will probably gather from some his comments, he’s pretty colourful in the way he responds to that type of question. He’s made unpopular decisions. He’s already made many. But underlying, I think you’ve got a good steward of the club – someone who knows how to sort the mess out and build the footballing side.

PH: A lot of the 3,000 away fans at Charlton on Saturday were making their opinions plain. They were making it clear that they want him gone.

AU: It’s very sad. You set expectations and you manage expectations. We haven’t set many expectations and people might say that’s down to the fact that we don’t communicate. Part of the reason we don’t communicate is because we’re dealing with so many issues at so many times, we can’t. We want to tell people all the good news. In good time we’ll set the bar right in the close season. We’ll set the right expectations for the fans. When you hear chants that are personal and divisive, they affect the players on the pitch. They affect family. But look, they’re a minority.

PH: Of the 3,000 at Charlton, it wasn’t a minority. I accept that the fanbase is far bigger than that but the criticism from those 3,000 sounded unanimous.

AU: I hope in time we can win them all over. We’ll do our best to win all of them over. It’s not an easy job running a club when you have such passionate fans who have such great loyalty. You only do your best. Sometimes you have to be unpopular but you always have to think you’re doing the right thing. If we get communication and expectation-management right then people will see what we’re doing. But I accept that people want to see contracts signed. They want to see stability on the management and the football side. I get that. All these things are going to come.

PH: Has anyone told Massimo about the weight of objection to him and the things that are going on here? That weight of dissent we saw at Charlton on Saturday?

AU: He’s aware of it. He was told about it during the day. He’s adamant that what he’s doing is for the benefit of Leeds United and its fans. He’s adamant and more steadfast and he would ask for the fans to be more patient.

PH: With regards to his future as owner, a question that’s important to ask – in his time as owner or your time on the board, has any third party or potential buyer of the club performed due diligence on the club’s accounts?

AU: No. Categorically, 100 per cent no.



Cellino tries to be one of us


Cook – Different class


Redders sol down the river by Cellino

Tues 21st of April Alarm bells ring at Leeds United as cowardice and anarchy undermine Neil Redfearn and his talented graduates – by Henry Winter Transposed to a baseball park, the Redfearn-Ward story could easily be turned into a classic Hollywood morality tale with homespun hero and heroine battling the odds to foster the future despite the meddling of an owner from out of town. (Cellino’s nationality is actually irrelevant; there are some wretched English owners out there as supporters of Blackpool and Newcastle United will attest.) The story looks to be heading for a sad ending. The clock ticks on Redfearn’s short reign. The alarm bells will then ring even louder at Elland Road if Cellino considers cashing in on those kids, those like Cook nurtured by two honest, hard-working people, Redfearn and Ward. Last Friday saw the continuation of the cowardly undermining of one of the most respected men in the English game. Six players associated with Cellino reported sudden injuries, refusing to travel to play against Charlton Athletic, a “freakish set of events” in Redfearn’s appraisal. Leeds issued a statement saying their absence was all on legitimate medical advice, and Cellino defended himself, but the fans were unconvinced. Is Cellino jealous of Redfearn’s popularity? The talk amongst those professionals who did report for duty was of their admiration for Gaetano Berardi, the Swiss who could have been in that Cellino clique and has genuinely been carrying injuries but turned up and sat on the bench at the Valley. Berardi’s presence condemned the others. “The Championship is a tough division and that’s if you’ve got all your staff in place and all your players onside and everything going in the right direction,’’ Redfearn told Radio Yorkshire. “When not [got everything going in the right direction] it’s near-on impossible.” With his contract expiring this summer, Redfearn is likely to leave Elland Road, confirming Cellino’s reputation in Italy as a “mangia-allenatori” (manager-eater). Such an outcome would be desperate for Leeds, another lurch in the direction of soullessness and lawlessness. Losing a manager prepared to give English youth its head would similarly be a setback for the national game. Would Ward follow her partner? That would be another huge loss. Cellino is banned from influencing events at Elland Road following a yacht-related tax infringement in Italy. Nobody knows if he was behind Thompson’s exit or the antics of the Leeds Six. Even if Cellino were, and there is no proof, the attitude of the Football League is that as long as an exiled owner does not flaunt his continued involvement, it will take neither offence nor action. Keep quiet and carry on. What should be an uplifting narrative, a famous English club being revived by a couple who care, building around home-grown flair, helping the national cause, has sadly lurched towards anarchy because of the club’s controversial president, Massimo Cellino. As Dyke and his beloved commission focus on constructing (much-needed) 3G pitches, tightening (lax) work-permit regulations and increasing home-grown quotas, the FA also needs to confront the problem of owners like Cellino, who is damaging national interests. It is impossible to escape the suspicion that Redfearn is being undermined from within. Since being appointed head coach with the remit of rescuing a relegation-threatened team, Redfearn galvanised the players, organised them, and they reached 52 points with seven games remaining. Since then they have lost five on the spin partly because of inexplicable off-field defeats. Redfearn’s trusted assistant, Steve Thompson, was suspended without explanation on April 2, a decision “undermining” the head coach in Redfearn’s view. He now has to do the “BBC” work, putting out the balls, bibs and cones, setting up training at Thorp Arch. Redfearn is being isolated and demeaned at a time when English football is crying out for strong English managers like him who back English youth. Dyke has spent the past 18 months riding his England Commission hobby-horse across the land, campaigning for clubs to nurture more English prospects like Cook, ultimately improving a weak national team. He watched as a highlights package captured the fearless teenager in action, driving through opposing teams, creating chances and then listened as the film heard from Redfearn and Ward. They spoke with almost parental pride of a player noted for community contributions as well as footballing potential. At Thorp Arch, Ward cultivates apprentices like Cook who understand their duty to club, team-mates and profession. This is what Dyke seeks, responsibility-taking adults as well as aspiring internationals. Ward’s delight in Cook’s award ran through her instant tweet at the news: A popular figure at Elland Road, the former Leeds United Ladies player, who even played and scored in Lucas Radebe’s testimonial, has a long track record of guiding youngsters, some of whom may be homesick, going through the usual teenage angst, dealing with school issues, as well as fretting over whether they will make it in the fiercely competitive professional game. She helped steer James Milner and Fabian Delph in the right direction, onwards and upwards, towards England. Now Cook seeks to follow them, having benefited from Ward’s benign supervision. Redfearn, who brought some welcome sanity and stability to the Leeds madhouse on being appointed in October, knew Cook’s class from his time running the academy and had the knowledge and confidence to give the youngster greater first-team exposure and responsibility. On receiving his award, Cook immediately voiced a debt of gratitude to Redfearn. Others also have much to thank the 49-year-old Yorkshireman for. Alex Mowatt, 20, Sam Byram, 21, and Charlie Taylor, 21, have all featured prominently under Redfearn. Their emergence was also facilitated by Ward. Redfearn and Ward are fundamental to Leeds’ well-being and also to the national set-up. Cook, Mowatt, Byram and Taylor have all been called into England age-group squads at some point. Popular manger who has done so much with his partner to nurture a fine crop of youngsters such as Lewis Cook is being destabilised under president Massimo Cellino. Honourable man: Neil Redfearn has been hung out to dry by striking players and Leeds United’s president Massimo Cellino.There is a couple in Yorkshire fighting for the soul of English football. The Leeds United head coach, Neil Redfearn, and his partner Lucy Ward, head of welfare and education at the club’s academy, are good people, staying stoic in stressful circumstances while continuing to do vital jobs with a real passion, namely developing the next generation of English talent. The awards season is in full swing and if there were any justice in the game then Redfearn and Ward would be acclaimed for their selfless graft. The Football Association chairman, Greg Dyke, attended the Football League shindig on Sunday at the Brewery in London when a combined Redfearn-Ward success story, the tough, skilful 18-year-old midfielder Lewis Cook was named Championship Apprentice of the Year.

Mon April 20th. Cellino “knew nothing about six players pulling out of squad” Leeds United president Massimo Cellino insists he had nothing to do with the events that led to six players pulling out of Saturday’s match against Charlton Athletic. irco Antenucci, Giuseppe Bellusci, Dario Del Fabro, Marco Silvestri, Souleymane Doukara and Edgar Cani withdrew from the squad on the eve of the trip to The Valley citing injuries, prompting some accusations that the players had gone ‘on strike’. The club released a statement on Sunday evening looking to draw a line under the controversy which read: Leeds United Football Club wants to clarify that during the days leading up to the away Championship fixture at Charlton Athletic on Saturday April 17 that six first-team players suffered injuries.” And Cellino, who has been banned since January after being found guilty of not paying tax on a yacht in Italy, has now also distanced himself from any possible conspiracy theory, telling the Sun: “I am not a coward and not the sort of guy who tells his players to go on strike. “I only found out on Friday evening. I admit it looks weird. But if the players were injured, why didn’t the manager inform the chairman? “This looks like a fight between manager Neil Redfearn and the ownership of the club, which is not good.” Cellino’s ban and the injury controversy are just two of a string of chaotic events that have plagued Leeds recently with Redfearn’s position increasingly threatened over recent weeks Redfearn has led the club to safety after taking over from ill-fated predecessors David Hockaday and Darko Milanic, but he saw assistant Steve Thompson lose his job without warning on April 2 and his own deal, which expires at the end of the season, looks increasingly unlikely to be renewed under the club’s current regime. The state of flux at Elland Road has led many fans to call for Cellino to leave the club altogether but the Italian insists he still wishes to take the Whites forward. “From day one I felt I was at the right club, because I am more f****d up than the fans,” he said. I am 58 and my dream is still for us to do something big here. I have asked permission to go to our last game of the season against Rotherham, a day before my ban ends. “If the fans want to kick me and shout at me, fine. I am used to it”. Bullshit. This is a guy who knows where every paper clip is at ER and he says that he was unaware of his his signings pulling out of the squad. Pull the other one !

Sunday 19th of April Leeds United great Trevor Cherry says the six players who did not play in Charlton loss with ‘freakish’ injuries should be sacked

Former Leeds captain Trevor Cherry has branded the six United players who withdrew at short notice from Saturday’s match against Charlton a ‘disgrace’ and called for them to be sacked by the club. Italian quartet Mirco Antenucci, Giuseppe Bellusci, Dario del Fabro and Marco Silvestri, Frenchman Souleymane Doukara and Albanian Edgar Cani all told beleaguered head coach Neil Redfearn they were injured and could not travel to London. Redfearn, speaking after his side lost 2-1 at The Valley, described it as a “freakish” set of events. According to the manager, Silvestri had been rested since sustaining a knock but had been expected to recover, while Antenucci and Canu declared themselves unfit after training on Thursday with the rest pulling out following a ‘light’ session on Friday. But Cherry was unimpressed and wants the players out of Elland Road. I would sack them and take the PFA (Professional Footballers’ Association) on,” he said on BBC Radio Five Live’s Sportsweek. “I don’t think players can do that, it’s scandalous and it’s just another story for Leeds United that is disgraceful. He added: I don’t know exactly the players and it might be one or two of them have got a good excuse, but it sounds too stupid to be true.” Striker Antenucci used Twitter to defend himself, as did goalkeeper Silvestri who posted a picture of a cut on his back suffered against Norwich on Tuesday night. However, Cherry questioned if they were legitimate reasons to withdraw. “In the old days you used to play with anything, cuts or one thing or another,” he said. “The managers had a big say in whether you were fit or not. You didn’t just come in and say ‘I’ve got a headache, I’m going home’. I’m sure with George Graham or Don Revie, I can’t imagine what would have happened if you’d have done that.” The withdrawals are just the latest incident in another turbulent period at Leeds. Redfearn’s position at Elland Road has become increasingly threatened over recent weeks, despite leading the club to Championship safety after taking over from ill-fated predecessors David Hockaday and Darko Milanic. He saw assistant Steve Thompson lose his job without warning on April 2 and his own deal, which expires at the end of the season, looks increasingly unlikely to be renewed under the club’s current regime. Club president Massimo Cellino has been banned since January after being found guilty of not paying tax on a yacht in Italy, but is due to return in a fortnight’s time. Cherry, who played for Leeds between 1972 and 1982, was left to lament the situation at his old club. It’s a club that’s a shambles and has been a shambles for 10 years,” the ex-England defender said. “We just stutter from disaster to disaster, joke to joke. If it wasn’t sickening it would be funny. You couldn’t write a book about Leeds United and what’s happened. “Personally, I don’t know the Italian guy but I don’t think he realises the size of the club, it’s just a little play thing and he’s making a mess of it in my opinion.” Couldn’t agree more.

Sat 18th of April 2015 Tweets #lufc SMorison “Its been one of those seasons when everyday something different happens. I’ve never known anything like it in football.”

#lufc Morison on ‘injured’ 6 story & if it’s been discussed by players:”We’re around it everyday. People can draw their own conclusions.”

Redfearn on Morison’s wait for a goal: “It’s been a burden for him because strikers are judged on goals they score. It was a great finish.”


Morison celebrates v Charlton – Sadly it wasn’t a winner

Redfearn: There’s a lot about today that I’m proud about. We just took our foot off the pedal.” #lufc Redfearn said Leeds should have closed the game out today. “The goals were sloppy from our point of view.” Re injuries If they come to you and say they’re injured, you’ve got to take it at face value. They’re professionals. But it’s not great.”

NR asked if he thought the players had collectively downed tools: “It’s difficult for me to comment.” Redfearn said he knew Silvestri had a knock but was told he would be fit. Antenucci had a problem too. The others were fine before Friday. NR: “If it’s happened and the players are all injured, it’s genuinely unlucky, isn’t it?” Redfearn said Friday was “freakish” and said he’d never seen a situation like that before.

Sat 18th of April Charlton 2 (Watt 74, Buyens pen 79), Leeds 1 (Morison 40). United: S Taylor, Wootton, Bamba, Cooper, C Taylor, Byram (Dawson 88), Murphy, Austin, Mowatt, Sharp (Montenegro 84), Morison. Subs. Cairns, Berardi, Phillips, Ngoyi, Sloth. Referee: T Harrington Booked: Vetokele, Watt (Charlton) Att: 18,053 Report from Official website The visit to Charlton Athletic saw United head coach Neil Redfearn make three changes from the midweek loss to Norwich City, including a first league start for goalkeeper Stuart Taylor in place of Marco Silvestri. Rodolph Austin returned from his three-game suspension to replace Granddi Ngoyi in midfield, while Steve Morison came in for Gaetano Berardi as Redfearn shuffled his formation. United made a lively start at The Valley, with Austin firing wide from range after latching onto a loose ball inside the opening minute. Charlton then threatened through Igor Vetokele, diverting his downwards header wide under the close watch of Charlie Taylor in a fairly well-matched start to proceedings.Austin whacked a 25-yard free-kick into the defensive wall, before the best chance of the early stages fell for Luke Murphy on 22 minutes. Alex Mowatt’s right-wing cross was flicked towards the back post by Morison and into the arriving Murphy’s path, but the midfielder could only side-foot over Stephen Henderson’s bar from inside the area. Leeds were the ones applying the majority of the pressure and Morison almost caught Henderson off-guard following a loose backpass, but the Charlton goalkeeper’s clearance cannoned back off the striker and rolled behind. Murphy then stung the palms of Henderson at a comfortable height from distance and Billy Sharp glanced a Sam Byram cross over the bar as Redfearn’s men continued to ask questions of the home defence. The hosts had been largely subdued until the 33rd minute when Vetokele clipped the post from inside the area. A Charlton corner fell into the path of Tal Ben Haim on the edge of the area and his return strike was deflected against the post to the relief of the United defence. Leeds were then awarded a golden opportunity to open the scoring just three minutes later from the penalty spot after Yoni Buyens had hauled down Byram, but Sharp’s spot-kick was tipped onto the post by a sprawling Henderson save. Confidence didn’t appear to be knocked, though, and Mowatt forced Henderson into another good stop at his near post with a dipping free-kick from 30 yards out. And the deadlock was eventually and deservedly broken from the resulting corner on the 40th-minute mark through Morison. Murphy’s delivery found the striker lurking with intent to emphatically hammer home his first of the season on the volley. Henderson got the slightest of touches on its way into the top corner, but Morison’s strike was too powerful and United took the lead into half-time. Charlton made one change at the break, replacing Chris Eagles with Johann Gudmundsson, and the hosts had the second half’s first sight of goal as Vetokele broke free before lashing well wide of Taylor’s far post. The United shot-stopper was then forced into action to push away Morgan Fox’s dangerous-looking cross from the left as Charlton looked to apply a spell of pressure on the visiting goal. At the opposite end, Mowatt bent an effort over Henderson’s bar and Austin drilled a low strike into the goalkeeper’s arms on the hour mark. Taylor again had to be alert on 68 minutes, getting down sharply to his left to push away Buyens’ curling effort with a strong, two-handed save, but Charlton were able to draw level six minutes later courtesy of Tony Watt. The Addicks forward was found unmarked at the back post to fire an unstoppable volley into Taylor’s bottom corner. And the hosts managed to pull themselves ahead just five minutes later, this time from the penalty spot, as Buyens sent Taylor the wrong way after the United keeper was adjudged to have brought down Vetokele inside the area. Leeds looked to mount a quick response, with Austin forcing Henderson into tipping away his long-range strike, while Brian Montenegro and Chris Dawson were introduced as the game entered five minutes of added time. Liam Cooper squeezed a back-post header wide and Redfearn’s side piled men forward, but Charlton saw out their lead to inflict defeat upon United.

Sat 18th of April Six players tell Leeds “we’re not fit to face Charlton” “Leeds United are facing a severe shortage of players at Charlton Athletic today after six of the club’s foreign signings unexpectedly declared themselves injured. Goalkeeper Marco Silvestri, centre-backs Giuseppe Bellusci and Dario Del Fabro and strikers Mirco Antenucci, Souleymane Doukara and Edgar Cani are understood to have told head coach Neil Redfearn that they would not be fit for the Charlton trip at Thorp Arch yesterday morning. The group are believed to have trained without problem on Thursday but none of them travelled with United’s squad to London and they will be missing from Redfearn’s 18-man group at The Valley. Gaetano Berardi is also a doubt, though sources at the club say the Swiss left-back has been carrying a problem since last weekend’s loss to Cardiff City. He journeyed south and could yet feature this afternoon. The bizarre development comes with Leeds bidding to end a poor run of four straight defeats and Redfearn waiting to see if the club will extend his contract as head coach. The 49-year-old’s deal is up in the summer and the club are yet to indicate if they will exercise an option to extend the agreement by another 12 months. Redfearn has endured a turbulent month following the unexplained suspension of his assistant, Steve Thompson, earlier this month. He also came under pressure from United’s board not to use Antenucci due to a goal-related clause in the striker’s contract which will extend Antenucci’s deal by an extra year if he scores two more goals. Leeds moved to clarify the situation this morning, with a spokesman describing the past few days as a “disastrous week for injuries.” The club say Silvestri has a back problem, Cani and Del Fabro have knee injuries, Doukara is struggling with a groin strain, Antenucci is nursing a hip problem and Bellusci has sustained damage to hamstring and thigh muscles. The absence of Silvestri – ever-present in Championship games this season – will see Stuart Taylor make his league debut for Leeds at The Valley. Silvestri was involved in a heavy collision with Cameron Jerome during Tuesday’s 2-0 loss to Norwich City but Redfearn expected him to be available tomorrow. The Italian keeper was one of 15 players brought in last summer after the takeover of United by banned owner Massimo Cellino. Bellusci, Del Fabro, Antenucci and Doukara also arrived during that influx while Cani joined United on a half-season loan from Catania in January.


Sat April 18th Leeds’ inadequacies summed up by Catch 22 situation – Phil Hay

One problem at Elland Road leads to another and none of Leeds United’s inadequacies can be cured in isolation. A better squad won’t function without a safe and established head coach. A head coach won’t feel safe without an owner who is present, supportive and in control. Like most organisations, direction comes from the top or not at all.

United’s owner himself is on very thin ice when public faith in him recedes and if Massimo Cellino is as far removed from the coalface as he claims to be, someone at Elland Road should summon the courage to tell him that the tide is turning against him rapidly.

There is at this stage so much confusion that next season feels imperilled already. Unfeasible though it seemed, the skeleton of management at Leeds is as flimsy now as it was when Cellino bought the club last year. Back then he accused United of having “no structure”, of suffering from feeble organisation and poor commitment. As the summer draws close, how much has changed?

Andrew Umbers, United’s chairman, is the only director whose presence is felt day-to-day at Elland Road. The club lost their chief operating officer last month and their head coach is a marginalised figure with a declining contract and no assistant behind him. If Cellino’s sporting director, Nicola Salerno, has not actually resigned then he has taken his leave of Leeds indefinitely. No-one has seen him since the middle of the international break or since he signed the letter suspending Steve Thompson.


Andrew Umbers – Cellino’s ‘yes’ man

In light of all that, and with Cellino’s disqualification as owner still current, discussing the gaps in the United’s squad is a waste of time without context. Leeds are back in that mindset where everyone craves a silver bullet; a solution for multiple problems and a way of untangling the entire web. Anything else looks like a layer of paint on an empty vessel. The club’s finances are an ongoing challenge too, though Cellino stated in the accounts this week that he expects to establish “sustainability” by the start of next year.

In the end, though, it comes back to the football. It always comes back to football. It’s easier to tolerate a wild and erratic owner if the meddling and the idiosyncrasies are offset by results. It’s easier to stomach the ejection of a decent head coach if you have confidence in the alternative being better or logically chosen. Change doesn’t worry the crowd at Leeds. It’s all they know. Inaction and incoherence are the biggest causes of fear and resentment. They make you ask if anyone has answers or, more to the point, whether anyone cares.

Leeds lit a light in the dark last weekend with the launch of their season-ticket campaign. What normally results in a monumental punch-up – or what normally did under past regimes – struck a chord: frozen prices, an expansion of the East Stand’s family area and a skilful piece of marketing via a graphic in which United’s line-up morphed from Hunter, Lorimer, Speed and others through to Cook, Byram, Mowatt and Taylor; the Elland Road production line through the years.

The image may or may not have been a subliminal message about Leeds’ commitment to retaining their four academy products next season. Cellino approved of the campaign but it was instigated by Matt Child, United’s former COO, so the imaginative idea might have no hidden meaning. It could simply be a way of hooking tired fans and selling seats. Nonetheless, you hope the club have more integrity than that. A message so profound should be nothing other than a statement of genuine intent.

The vibrance of Cook, Byram et al is the best thing for Leeds to hang season tickets on. Some would say it’s the only thing. They’ve given the club a spine this season and they’ve kept the crowd engaged but on their own they are not enough. The past four games have shown that. Their potential and talent, as obvious as it is, cannot be used to hide the need for heavy investment around them, for their sake as much as the club’s.

There is scarcely a reliable defence in the Championship – Norwich City’s on Tuesday was about as organised as it gets – but United’s is up there with the least consistent. It needs work from right to left. Their midfield has class and energy but it is undeniably one-paced, particularly without Cook. And at the tip of the team, Leeds are handicapped by strikers who aren’t scoring. Whether the system is to blame or the players themselves, their forwards are making hard work of amassing 30 goals. By comparison, at Watford, Troy Deeney, Matej Vydra and Odion Ighalo have 54 between them.

That potency is overwhelming, as it was at Elland Road in February, and the Championship are struggling to hold Watford back.

Where Leeds are concerned, the needs of the squad are almost a hypothetical debate while so much is unresolved. The team are part of a larger jigsaw and without touching on Cellino’s situation, Redfearn’s future or any other side-show, it’s not even certain that Leeds will be free of a transfer embargo this summer.

But the fact remains that the club have been resting their weight on four kids for long enough; leaving players in the teens and early 20s to fill the void of expectation and optimism.

That’s the magic academy footballers do and when Jonny Howson plucks a delicious finish from the air like he did on Tuesday, you can’t help feeling that Leeds should never allow themselves to be haunted like that, or not by another Championship club. Mowatt, Cook, Byram and Taylor are gifted prospects, wonderfully gifted, but keeping them at Elland Road can’t be classed as an example of vision or ambition. It’s the obvious thing to do. And the very least United need.

Tues April 9th. Macron sue Leeds for £5M Leeds United are facing a legal claim of around £5m from shirt supplier Macron, the club’s latest accounts reveal.United’s results for the 2013-14 financial year say they are in “contractual dispute” with Macron, the Italian sportswear firm which has supplied their kit since 2008. According to the accounts, Macron is claiming £2.15m “allegedly owed” to the company and is also seeking damages of between £2.5m and £3.5m.  The claim against Leeds was made in November of last year. United’s accounts state that a club solicitor “believes that it is unlikely that the claim will be successful.” Macron’s current deal with Leeds – a six-year agreement signed in 2010 – is due to end next summer but United are understood to be looking for new kit suppliers for the 2015-16 season. The dispute is the latest in a long line of financial issues encountered by Leeds’ banned owner, Massimo Cellino, since his takeover last April. Leeds’ 2013-14 accounts were previously published in draft form in December after the club submitted them to the Football League for Financial Fair Play (FFP) analysis.The official figures – released online by Companies House this morning – confirm that United lost £22.8m in the 12 months leading up to June 30, 2014. Leeds failed the Football League’s FFP test as a result of those losses and were punished with a transfer embargo in January. However, in a statement published with the accounts today, Cellino said: “While we will fail Championship Financial Fair Play as a consequence of the historic and reported set of results for 2013-14, we don’t envisage being in the same position again. “Creating financial sustainability will take 12 to 18 months from this report date. We have already achieved financial stability in the calendar year 2014.”


Ngoi – decent debut but one player when at least five additions are needed

Tues 14th of April Redfearn on Ngoyi Neil Redfearn felt debutant Granddi Ngoyi looked the part” after making his first United appearance against Norwich on Tuesday night. Ngoyi, a January loan signing from Palermo, started in midfield in place of Kalvin Phillips and completed the full 90 minutes of the 2-0 loss at Elland Road. The 26-year-old had endured a frustrating start to his career in Leeds, with injury lay-offs delaying his first appearance for almost three months. Ngoyi was unable to prevent Norwich from running out 2-0 winners thanks to second-half goals from Jonny Howson and Graham Dorrans, but Redfearn was encouraged by the Frenchman’s debut. “I thought he played well, Granddi,” said the head coach. “I thought he broke stuff up and gave us some presence. It made it better for Murphy and Mo in there because they had the assurance of a sitting midfield player. “That’s his role. “I think we’ve missed Lewis Cook, but on Tuesday night we looked better for having somebody who had that capability to defend in there. “I thought the midfield did well. I thought Ngoyi looked the part, he broke play up. “I thought he picked Hoolahan up and Hoolahan wasn’t in it much in the first half.”


Stroll in the park for Norwich and former hero Jonny Howson

Tuies April 14th Leeds, 0 Norwich 2 (Howson 57, Dorrans 90+1).United: Silvestri, Wootton, Bamba, Cooper, Berardi, Murphy, Ngoyi, Mowatt, C Taylor (Antenucci 71), Byram (Montenegro 85), Sharp. Subs. S Taylor, Bellusci, Phillips, Sloth, Morison. Referee: M Jones Booked: Olsson, Tettey, Whittaker (Norwich) Att: 21,471 (2,125 Norwich) The penultimate home game of the 2014/15 season came in the shape of a midweek visit of Norwich City, and United head coach Neil Redfearn made three changes from the defeat to Cardiff three days earlier. On-loan midfielder Granddi Ngoyi came in for his Leeds debut, replacing Kalvin Phillips, while Liam Cooper and Billy Sharp returned to the side in place of Giuseppe Bellusci and Mirco Antenucci respectively. On a glorious spring evening at Elland Road, it was United who had the first sniff of goal as Sharp was inches away from connecting with Cooper’s diagonal ball into the box, while Norwich threatened through former Leeds captain Jonny Howson, but Marco Silvestri was equal to his low cross in a relatively balanced start to proceedings. Chances were scarce inside the first 20 minutes, but the Norwich defence needed to stand firm to stop a dangerous-looking Alex Mowatt free-kick from finding a white shirt inside the area as Redfearn’s men started to see more of the ball inside the opposition half. A somewhat scrappy period of play followed, with both sides seemingly taking turns to exchange fouls and the game unable find any sort of rhythm. The 30th minute brought the game’s first moment of drama, though, as Norwich were awarded a penalty after Cooper was adjudged to have brought down Howson inside the area. Graham Dorrans stepped up in front of the Kop but, much to the relief of the home crowd, smashed his spot-kick against the bar and United were able to clear their lines. Redfearn’s side were let off the hook again moments later as Dorrans blazed over after latching onto a loose ball inside the area, before United’s closest chance of the half came on 36 minutes through Canaries defender Steve Whittaker, who glanced Luke Murphy’s free-kick onto the roof of his own net. United looked to end the opening 45 minutes strongly and were awarded a promising-looking free-kick 25 yards out on the stroke of half-time, but Murphy drilled into the wall and it remained goalless at the break, with Leeds surviving their third consecutive penalty at Elland Road. Both teams re-emerged unchanged and United had the second half’s first sight of goal within three minutes of the restart as Sol Bamba glanced Mowatt’s back-post corner wide. The on-loan United defender was then called into action at the opposite in, superbly sliding in to halt the tracks of Nathan Redmond following a quick breakaway. And Silvestri needed to be alert two minutes later, getting down sharply to his left to keep out Russell Martin’s low effort with a strong, one-handed save. Norwich had restarted the game brightly and continued to press the United defence in front of the South Stand, with Alex Tettey smashing a ferocious first-time effort against the stanchion holding up the frame of the goal. An opener appeared to be on the horizon and it eventually came for the visitors after 57 minutes through Howson. The Leeds-born midfielder was found in space by Redmond and was able to calmly convert beyond Silvestri with the outside of his boot, before opting not to celebrate against his former club. United looked to mount a quick response through the unlikely source of Scott Wootton, who worked his way into the area and twisted himself into space, only to see his effort deflected over the bar from six yards out. Redfearn was prompted into his first change of the night on 71 minutes and it was an attack-minded one as Antenucci stepped off the bench to replace Taylor. Whittaker dragged wide for Norwich after advancing from full-back, while Bamba was well-placed to hack away Redmond’s ball across the box as the game entered the final 10 minutes. Norwich looked to be in control but they had goalkeeper John Ruddy to thank for keeping them in the game with six minutes remaining on the clock. The ball found its way to the feet of Mowatt on the edge of the box and his left-footed strike looked to be sailing in at the near post after taking a deflection, only for Ruddy to re-adjust himself to acrobatically claw behind. Brian Montenegro was introduced in attack, replacing Sam Byram, as the game headed towards three minutes of stoppage time, but Norwich dealt United a hammer blow as Dorrans worked some space inside the area before drilling into the bottom corner to wrap things up. The good thing from our point of view was that the performance was a lot better than Saturday,” said Redfearn. “For long spells, we matched them. The difference is, and the reason why they’re second and we’re mid-table, is at the business end of the pitch. “We came up against a good side tonight. I thought we made them look average tonight. “They stepped it up in the second half and we could have perhaps done more when we broke on them. “We swapped Sam and Charlie about to have crossers rather than shooters coming in on their good foot. “I thought we played well in spells tonight. I said to them ‘Look, sometimes you come up against a good side and it’s tough for you’. “Saturday wasn’t acceptable. It was just a poor performance but tonight, we played well. “We just haven’t got that edge.”

Sun 12th of April  Time to go – GC The season can’t finish quick enough now. United have lost three games since the departure of Steve Thompson, assistant to Neil Redfearn. (Tweeted from Phil Hay on Sat 11th of April Steve Thompson – Cellino said he’d been told that Thompson “disrespected” Salerno at Fulham. Numerous other people present say that’s not true. Adam Pope BBC tweeted  Adam Pope @APOPEY · Apr 8 #lufc I saw with my own eyes Salerno smiling, like everyone else, & patting the backs of coaching staff & players by the tunnel at Fulham) I say why wait almost three weeks after our best away result of the season ? I know who I believe  Redfearn has been cut adrift like a lifeboat drifting aimleslly at sea. He is lost on his own just like he was lost before the arrival of Steve Thompson. Thompson is suspended until the end of the season when his contract runs out and Redfearn will be conveniently let go. This will all be part of Cellino’s master plan. Make it up as you go along like a decent pasta.  Whilst not quite a Clough/Taylor combination, the Redfearn/Thompson partnership was working and for once in the last four seasons Leeds were actually winning games post Christmas. When it’s not broken it doesn’t need fixing. Salerno has fallen on his sword in this pantomine. He saw the writing on the wall. 90% of his signings have been disatrous. The fans would turn on him at the next home game (Cardiff City) and he would not be short on offers back in Italy. He certainly wasn’t going to be around to face the music. Smart man. Will the puppet master be next ? Probably not. Stubborn, obstinate, selfish, jealous and untrustworthy are now words more to be associated with Cellino. He even tried to defelct criticism by claiming Red Bull wre interested in our club. That was laughed off by the Salzburg CEO on Friday 9th of April, and the Austrian doesn’t do witze (Jokes). I could go through a list the length of my arm of broken promises from Cellino to date of what he promised to do for Leeds United but what’s the point regarding the man who was to use the Ross McCormack war chest to buy back Elland Road (let alone Thorp Arch) by November 2014. Do the decent thing and put our great club on the market because you have disrespected us and our great club, and stopped real investment and real investors from getting involved because of the autocrat that you are.


Phillips celebrates a goal on his home league debut but it wasn’t enough in an abject performance by the whites to salvage anything from the game

Sat 12th of April Leeds Utd 1 (Phillips 17), Cardiff City 2 (Morrison 14, Gunnarsson 62). United: Silvestri, Wootton, Bamba, Bellusci, Berardi (Doukara 86), Murphy, Phillips (Morison 64), Mowatt, C Taylor, Byram, Antenucci (Sharp 64). Subs. S Taylor, Cooper, Ngoyi, Montenegro. Booked: Bellusci, Mowatt (United), Peltier, Morrison, Gunnarsson, Harris (Cardiff) Att: 22,401. The visit of Cardiff City saw United head coach Neil Redfearn make just one change from the Easter Monday defeat at Wolves as Giuseppe Bellusci returned from injury to replace Liam Cooper in defence. There was also an Elland Road debut for youngster Kalvin Phillips, who retained his place in midfield. Cardiff made a lively start, with both Joe Mason and Craig Noone probing for early sights of goal. But United carved the game’s first opening after 10 minutes as Sam Byram sent Gaetano Berardi hurtling towards goal, only to be forced wide and crowded out by blue shirts. Charlie Taylor then drilled a low effort wide from 25 yards, while Phillips stood firm at PhlipsvCardiffthe opposite end to deny Conor McAleny’s strike from inside the area. It had been an evenly-matched start to proceedings but Cardiff managed to open the scoring after just 14 minutes through Sean Morrison. Peter Whittingham’s whipped corner was flicked towards the back post by former United man Lee Peltier, and Morrison was able to force home. But the visitors’ lead lasted just a matter of three minutes as United soon drew level. Taylor’s cross from the left wreaked havoc among the Cardiff defence, with goalkeeper David Marshall losing his footing, allowing home debutant Phillips to calmly tuck away his first senior goal for the club in an unforgettable moment for the 19-year-old. The equaliser looked to have put United on the front foot and, just moments later, Bellusci glanced a header wide after rising to meet Luke Murphy’s free-kick inside the area. A flowing move down the left involving Taylor and Berardi then led to another opening as the latter found Byram arriving at the back post, but his low effort was blocked by the Bluebirds’ defence. A brief spell of Cardiff pressure followed as Bellusci was forced into an excellent block to deny Mason and Marco Silvestri clutched the striker’s header on the rebound. Russell Slade had been forced into an early change, with Eoin Doyle coming on for the injured McAleny, and the substitute striker had Cardiff’s best chance of the half within two minutes of stepping off the bench. A misplaced back-pass allowed Doyle to race free on goal, but Silvestri’s reflexes ensured the scorleline remained level. The Cardiff defence withstood a number of balls into their box before coming inches away from re-taking the lead on the stroke of half-time. Mason worked his way into the area but could only drag wide of Silvestri’s far post. Both teams re-emerged from the break unchanged and United began the second half brightly, with Byram forcing a block from a tight angle before Murphy sliced a half-volley into Marshall’s arms. A somewhat subdued period followed before Scott Wootton needed to be on hand to divert a dangerous-looking cross behind. Silvestri was then alert to deny Mason with his feet at the near post as Cardiff started to assert some pressure. And the visitors re-took the lead in a similar fashion to their first goal. Silvestri pushed away Whittingham’s effort following a Cardiff corner and Aron Gunnarsson was first to react, stabbing the ball home from close-range after 62 minutes. Redfearn responded with a double substitution, bringing on Billy Sharp and Steve Morison for Antenucci and Phillips, as United looked to get back to grips with the tie. Sharp was involved almost immediately and came agonisingly close to pulling United level for the second time of the afternoon, heading Taylor’s left-wing cross onto the bar with Marshall well-beaten in front of the Kop. Morison then nodded over Wootton’s cross at the back-post in a better spell for Redfearn’s men. Berardi stung the palms of Marshall with a wicked, dipping effort from range, and Cardiff somehow managed to scramble clear the resulting corner as the game entered the final 10 minutes with the Elland Road crowd urging United forward. But, despite five minutes of stoppage time, there proved to be no way through as Cardiff left West Yorkshire with all three points. RedfearnI thought we had more possession than they did but we really didn’t do enough with it. “I thought our passing was laboured and, as the game wore on, it was riddled with mistakes. It’s difficult to explain, really. “We talked about being positive and being front-foot, getting the tempo right, getting up the pitch and playing the level. We started okay and then, for some reason, we just took our foot off the pedal.”


One gone One to go

Weds 4th of April Salerno gone Nicola Salerno has resigned from his position as Leeds United sporting director, according to the club’s banned owner Massimo Cellino. News of Salerno’s departure follows days of speculation about his job and comes in the wake of the suspension of United’s assistant head coach, Steve Thompson. Thompson was suspended until the end of the season last Thursday over an “internal issue” and told that his contract would not be renewed when it expired in the summer. Leeds said Salerno had been responsible for taking the decision about Thompson and a letter confirming Thompson’s suspension was signed by the 58-year-old Italian.In a statement released to the BBC on Friday, chairman Andrew Umbers said Thompson’s exit was “disruptive but this is an internal issue and one the board has accepted.” Thompson, who came to Leeds as Neil Redfearn’s assistant in December, has not commented on his situation and the ex-Blackpool coach is being advised by the League Managers’ Association (LMA). But Salerno’s employment at Elland Road now appears to be at an end, less than a year after he came to Elland Road in the aftermath of Cellino’s takeover. Salerno had previously worked under Cellino at Cagliari and he helped to arrange the arrival of 15 new players at Leeds last summer. Cellino, who is in Miami, remains subject to a Football League order disqualifying him from influencing decisions at Elland Road. His ban ends on May 4, two days after the final game of the Championship season. United have not responded to requests for comment about Salerno’s position but Cellino told the YEP: “He resigned. I’m not there so I don’t know why. “I wanted him to stay and speak about it first when I got back to Leeds but he made the decision. This is the situation.”Reports in Italy say Palermo – the club who Leeds signed Sol Bamba and Granddi Ngoyi from in January – want Salerno to join them as sporting director. He did not attend United’s game against Blackburn Rovers last weekend or Monday’s 4-3 defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers. Leeds, meanwhile, are yet to explain the full reasons behind Salerno’s decision to suspend Thompson. Cellino said he had “been told that Salerno was disrespected by Thompson” after a 3-0 win over Fulham last month. Sources close to Thompson, however, have denied that there was any fall-out between the pair at Craven Cottage. United’s camp were in upbeat mood after their victory in London and Salerno was reported to have planted a kiss on Redfearn during the head coach’s post-match interview with the BBC. Good riddence Saleno. Hardy a qualifield success with his signings. Now take your mate Cellino with you.


Ex White Shaun Derry thinks Redfearn deserves better and so do many of us

Weds April 8th. Whites must stop making same mistakes – Shaun Derry YP Former Leeds United midfielder Shaun Derry claimed last night that the loss of head coach Neil Redfearn at the end of this season would be “a continuation of the same mistakes the club have been making for years.” Derry, United’s one-time vice-captain, spoke out in support of the 49-year-old after watching a “lonely” Redfearn manage Leeds through Monday’s 4-3 defeat at Wolverhampton Wanderers. The match brought an end to a bitter week in which the Elland Road club suspended Redfearn’s assistant, Steve Thompson, and put pressure on the Leeds boss to leave Mirco Antenucci out of his team due to a goal-related clause in the striker’s contract. Redfearn resisted that pressure, using Antenucci as a substitute against Blackburn Rovers last weekend and starting him in the defeat to Wolves but Thompson’s suspension – a move which effectively ends the 50-year-old’s employment at Elland Road – left Redfearn alone in the dug-out for both matches. His own position as head coach is rapidly coming to a head after the ex-Barnsley midfielder revealed that United are required by the terms of his contract to confirm whether or not they intend to renew his deal before the last game of the season on May 2. Redfearn’s existing deal ends in the summer but Leeds have the option to retain him for another 12 months, an option they are yet to take up. His deal also includes a clause allowing him to return to his job as academy boss if United decide not to keep him on as head coach. Derry, who was recently sacked as manager of Notts County, covered Monday’s game as a radio pundit and said it was “pretty obvious that the players and the supporters want Neil to stay in charge.” “As far as I could see, the players are behind him and the fans are too,” Derry said. “I think they genuinely want him to succeed. The fans can see that there’s young, hungry, fresh blood coming through the system and I think they want him to be given a chance. Football’s about results, or that’s what we’re always told, and Neil’s results in the second half of the season have been really good. His best period has probable been better than or as good as any other period over the last two seasons. So I’d be giving him another chance too. “Leeds have gone through far too many managers. They need to back their manager and put him on a level playing field with enough players and resources to have the same aspirations as the teams who are going for the top six. Or they can continue to make the same mistakes the club have been making for years.” Derry talked up the performance of a young Leeds line-up at Molineux – a side which included four academy players, including debutant midfielder Kalvin Phillips – but said United could not hide from the lack of “proven quality” in their side. “I really like Alex Mowatt and at times on Monday he was a stand-out performer,” Derry said. “All the kids can handle the ball and they’re comfortable in possession. “What’s lacking around them are solid, dependable players at this level; proven quality players who know the Championship. “With the greatest of respect to the foreign lads, when you come to a new country you’ve got to sort your own house out first. You’ve got to adapt and learn and they won’t be looking over their shoulders thinking ‘what’s Alex Mowatt doing?’ or ‘what’s Charlie Taylor doing?’ “Apart from the lads you develop yourself, you can only get top Championship players by putting your hand in your pocket. You get the occasional quality ‘Bosman’ but most clubs get onto those in January. The quality free transfers this summer probably know where they’re going already. If they’re going to Leeds, great. If they’re not then the club are going to have to spend. Either that or spend another season halfway down the league. I know from my time at Leeds that everyone there craves better things. There must be an element of envy, or frustration really, in seeing Ipswich, Bournemouth, Brentford, Watford up there. Year after year you think ‘why can’t that by Leeds?’” United’s strategy for summer transfers is unlikely to be any clearer than several other key issues at Elland Road. Nicola Salerno, the club’s sporting director and a man heavily involved in the arrival of 15 new players at Leeds last year, has resigned from his position in the past week. His departure came in the wake of Thompson’s suspension, a decision which Leeds said Salerno had made personally. Massimo Cellino, United’s disqualified owner, is banned from running the club until May 4, two days after Redfearn is contractually due to receive clarification about his future. The Italian is planning to return to England from Miami in the next 10 days. Having threatened to consider his position last week, Redfearn now appears committed to seeing out the last five games of the season. I felt very sorry for him on Monday,” Derry said. “There was no-one with him in the technical area. It was a lonely situation. He was basically stood there on his own for 90 minutes. Twenty yards up the pitch you’ve got Kenny Jackett (the Wolves manager) with Joe Gallen, his trusted lieutenant. Looking from above it told it’s own story. I think Leeds owe everyone a decision and Redfearn most of all.”


Will Cellino be singing the blues in Parma ? Hopefully !

Tues April 7th. Cellino linked with Parma LEEDS UNITED owner Massimo Cellino is being linked with a move for stricken Italian outfit Parma, according to reports in his native Italy. Reports suggests that the former Cagliari owner could be interested in Parma amid speculation that Eleonora Sport are in negotiations to sell United. Last month, the Serie A club was declared bankrupt by a court in Italy, but were allowed to see out the season. They will be forced to restart from the amateur divisions next season if their €74m sporting debt is not paid. While Cellino has denied any interest, his family are said is very keen to return to Italian football, reports say. Andrew Umbers, who stepped in as Leeds chairman when Cellino was barred from owning or being a director at Leeds, has insisted that Cellino does not want to sell and that there have not been any approaches. That has not stopped intense speculation that parties remain interested in purchasing Leeds. Cellino is currently barred until May 4 due to a conviction for tax evasion imposed last year. The Football League banned him as owner on December 1 – a decision which was upheld in January after a failed appeal by Cellino – and he faces other court cases in Italy which could incur fresh disqualifications from the governing body. He is currently in Miami but plans to return to England later this month. Earlier this month, Cellino claimed that soft drinks giant Red Bull were bidding to buy Leeds – but they rejected comments made by the Italian they had tabled an offer for Leeds with the club’s majority shareholder, Eleonora Sport (ESL). ESL currently owns more than 97 per cent of shares in United, with former owner Gulf Finance House retaining the remaining stake. Cellino used ESL to completed his takeover of Leeds a year ago and the company has retained majority ownership despite the Football League banning the 58-year-old from running the club.


Silvestri has no chance for the 4th


Redfearn thought Leeds deserved a point at Wolves

Mon April 6th WOLVES 4 (Dicko 19, 45+1, Afobe 48, Edwards 88), UNITED 3 (Taylor 11, Batth og 66, Mowatt 74). United: Silvestri, Wootton, Bamba, Cooper, Berardi, Murphy, Phillips, Mowatt, C Taylor, Byram, Antenucci (Sharp 81). Subs. Taylor, Del Fabro, Ngoyi, Sloth, Doukara, Cani. Referee: D Coote Booked: Golbourne, Batth (Wolves), Wootton, Byram, Bamba (United) Att: 25,169 (2,407 United) The televised Easter Monday visit to Wolves saw United head coach Neil Redfearn make three changes from the home defeat to Blackburn three days earlier. Kalvin Phillips, making his Leeds debut, came into midfield for the suspended Rodolph Austin, while Liam Cooper and Mirco Antenucci replaced Giuseppe Bellusci and Steve Morison respectively. Ahead of kick-off at Molineux, the stadium joined together for a minute’s applause and both captains brought floral wreaths onto the pitch in memory of Martyn Matthews, the Wolves supporter who tragically passed away in the recent French Alps air crash. It was the hosts who made the livelier start of the two inside the first 10 minutes, with Nouha Dicko dragging a low effort wide inside the opening three minutes before heading over James Henry’s whipped free-kick from point-blank range. But Redfearn’s side withstood the Wolves pressure and found themselves ahead on 11 minutes courtesy of Charlie Taylor’s first senior goal for the club. Phillips’ harrying forced Kevin McDonald into an awkward position by the corner flag and his hashed clearance cannoned back off an orange shirt and into the path of Taylor, who calmly tucked underneath Carl Ikeme from six yards out. Wolves looked to mount a quick response and, moments after Marco Silvestri had held Bakary Sako’s low effort, the hosts drew level as Dicko converted Benik Afobe’s back post cross from an acute angle following a swift breakaway. It was a fast-paced start to proceedings and somewhat of a fiery one, too, with a number of full-blooded tackles setting the tone of the first half. Wolves were seeing more of the ball and starting to ask serious questions of the United defence as Silvestri was twice called into action. First, the United keeper clutched onto Henry’s curling effort on the turn before his reflexes were truly tested after 28 minutes, again denying Henry, following Dominic Iorfa’s cutback. A spell of United possession followed and Taylor, driving the team forward, cut apart the Wolves defence with a bursting run, only for a superb recovering challenge from Henry to steal the ball from his feet as he looked to pull the trigger. Silvestri then smothered Henry at the opposite end before the hosts edged themselves in front on the stroke of half-time. Sako’s ball over the top found Dicko hurtling towards the area and the forward was able to beat Silvestri at his near post with a low strike off the woodwork. The two teams re-emerged from the break unchanged and Ikeme was called upon in the Wolves goal within two minutes of the restart to push away Alex Mowatt’s attempt after the midfielder was invited to shoot on the edge of the box. But Wolves soon re-discovered the rhythm they’d ended the first half with and their lead was quickly extended, with Afobe forcing the ball beyond Silvestri after a scramble inside the area on 48 minutes. A much quieter passage of play followed with the hosts seemingly content with their two-goal advantage. Redfearn urged his men to venture forward in search of a way back into the game and Mowatt almost wriggled his way through the Wolves defence as United probed. And the 66th minute brought a glimmer of hope for the travelling army as a Danny Batth own goal reduced the deficit. Mowatt’s floated delivery into the box searched for the run of Antenucci inside the area, but the outstretched leg of Batth inadvertently turned it beyond Ikeme. It gave United the lift that was needed and, against the odds, Redfearn’s side completed the comeback in spectacular fashion eight minutes later through Mowatt’s ninth of the season. The midfielder stole the ball from the toes of Stearman and proceeded to stride forward before sending an unstoppable left-footed effort past the sprawling Ikeme and into the top corner. The game was suddenly wide open and there for the taking again. Redfearn swapped Antenucci for Billy Sharp in attack with 10 minutes remaining, while the United defence held firm to see out three quick-fire counters. But it was Wolves who grabbed the seventh of the evening to re-take the lead as substitute Dave Edwards rose highest inside the area to guide a towering header into Silvestri’s top corner and seal the three points just two minutes from time. Redfearn said: “I thought they were the better side in the first half, if I’m honest. “But I thought we did okay and I was hoping that we’d get into half-time at 1-1 and then we could shuffle it around a bit. “The goal before half-time was disappointing, as was the goal just after half-time which put them 3-1 up. “After that, I thought we totally got a stranglehold on the game. I thought, for half an hour after that, we totally bossed it. “I thought the three in midfield of Murphy, Phillips and Mowatt ran it in that period. “The own goal came from a weight of pressure because we had the ball. The kid was under pressure so he sliced it in his own net. “Then I thought the third goal – the equaliser – was just an outstanding goal. “The build-up, the ball into the front and the lay-off, then Alex’s strike was unbelievable. “Really at that point, we deserved something. We deserved something out of that game today and I don’t think Wolves could argue with that because we did enough.” On Wolves’ winner, Redfearn added: “It’s like anything else, you’ve got to be dealing with balls coming into the box. “The lad got the ball in the box at the death, he got a touch and it went into the net. It’s disappointing.”

Monday 6h of April Cellino defends sacking The events nearly forced current boss Neil Redfearn to call it a day at Elland Road ahead of today’s visit to playoff-chasing Wolves. Owner Massimo Cellino has defended the club’s decision to suspend assistant manager Steve Thompson. Thompson was told ahead of Leeds’ defeat to Blackburn on Saturday, with Neil Redfearn threatening to quit the club over the decision. Redfearn was also reportedly told not to pick top scorer Mirco Antenucci. Ten-goal Antenucci has clause in his contract that says he is entitled to another year should he net 12 times, and was left on the bench for Saturday’s fixture. Cellino, speaking from Miami, told the Sun: “I’m told Steve Thompson called our sporting director Nicola Salerno an offensive name in front of other people after the game at Fulham. “This is unacceptable. The board backed Salerno and I understand this.”

Sun 5th of April Red Bull deny link with Leeds Red Bull has denied Massimo Cellino’s claim that it is bidding to buy Leeds United. The soft drink giant rejected comments made by Cellino in which he said Red Bull had tabled an offer for Leeds with the club’s majority shareholder, Eleonora Sport (ESL). Cellino, United’s disqualified owner, made the claim to the YEP on Friday after initially denying reports that Red Bull was poised to strike a £60m deal and hoped to secure control of Leeds within the next three weeks. Red Bull, which already runs professional clubs in Germany, Austria and the USA, has been linked with a takeover at Elland Road for many months, though it previously denied any interest in acquiring Leeds amid intense speculation last November. And speaking to Suddeutsche Zeitung today, Oliver Mintzlaff, the group’s head of global football marketing, said: Another involvement in football is not planned.” Speaking on Friday night, Cellino claimed: There is an offer. I didn’t know about it but I spoke just now with Giampaolo Caboni, one of the directors of Eleonora Sport. “He said Red Bull has made an offer for the club. The shareholders will have to think about it. I don’t know what they will do.” ESL currently owns more than 97 per cent of shares in United, with former owner Gulf Finance House retaining the remaining stake. Cellino used ESL to completed his takeover of Leeds a year ago and the company has retained majority ownership despite the Football League banning the 58-year-old from running the club due to a tax conviction imposed on him in Italy last March. That disqualification ends on May 4, the date on which Cellino can retake control of United, but the Italian is in Miami and rumours of potential buy-outs have been rife in his absence. Red Bull has a stable of football clubs and current owns RB Leipzig in Germany, Red Bull Salzburg in Austria and MLS side New York Red Bulls. Its style of ownership has been controversial, however, and it followed up its purchase of Salzburg in 2005 by changing the club’s name and shirt. Disillusioned fans subsequently founded a new club, SV Austria Salzburg. Doubt, meanwhile, surrounds the future of Nicola Salerno, Leeds’ sporting director and a close confidant of Cellino’s. Salerno – a man central to United’s transfer strategy and the person who Leeds said was responsible for suspending assistant coach Steve Thompson last week – is believed to be on the verge of leaving the club less than 12 months after joining Cellino at Elland Road. He did not attend yesterday’s 3-0 defeat to Blackburn Rovers and reports in Italy say he is wanted by Palermo.

Sun April 5th Eddie Gray: Leeds United board needs to be open with its personnel and support IT’S been a tough week for Leeds United. It’s also been a tough week for Neil Redfearn, it will have been hard for the players and the long-suffering fans as well. There’s been a lot of optimism surrounding the club in recent weeks but in the last few days it has all gone a bit sour. Steve Thompson has left, for whatever reason, and nobody really knows what the thoughts are behind it as the club haven’t really made a statement. But for Neil himself it must have been a few really rough days. He is used to working with his partner and the team have been going well. But then all of a sudden it’s all thrown up in the air. I think with the game on Saturday, once things started to go a little bit wrong for us with Rudy Austin being sent off, you could see that bit of frustration creeping in. I felt as though we lost a bit of discipline and I mean discipline from the point of view of concentration levels at defensive situations. Even though we only had 10 men, we should still have made it a little bit tougher for Blackburn getting through us and we never did. We were all over the shop and at the end of the day they could have scored six as they hit the woodwork three times and had numerous opportunities. But you can understand that in a way, with the way things happened this week. And the worst thing for us on Saturday was the referee played four minutes of injury-time. Austin’s sending off was a bit harsh but it was a bit silly what he did. He did throw out his arm and you shouldn’t give the referee an opportunity to send you off. All in all, it was just a disappointing finish to what’s been a traumatic week at the club. Nobody really knows what’s happening and it’s up to the owner, Neil and the powers that be to sort everything out. Because you don’t want this to be lingering on into the summer months and then start next season with a cloud hanging over the club. You want to be ready to go. We have got good young players but if there’s uncertainty surrounding the club then the young players are going to have second thoughts. Steve was very important to Neil and all assistants are important. hether Neil now walks away or not, I don’t know and anything could happen. There’s got to be reasons behind them letting Steve go or relieving him of his duties. It just seems strange to sack the assistant when the team have been going very well. People say to me all the time, ‘what’s happening at the football club?’ I say I don’t know. It’s only the people at the top that know and until they start telling us, we are all left in the dark. The Mirco Antenucci thing is strange as well. The whole situation at the club is just disappointing because there’s optimism with the good young players. But with all this going on, it gives agents the opportunity to say to the young players ‘hey, look at this club now, what’s going to happen with it, you’ve got to think about your future.’ They will want to know what direction the club is going to go in. If you’re a young player like Sam Byram, Lewis Cook or Alex Mowatt, you want to know if you are going to be at a club that is going to go places because they will want to get in the Premier League. All the optimism of last week and a couple of weeks ago, it’s all down low again and you could sense that on Saturday with the crowd. There’s talk of takeovers and the club is going to need some investment if we are going to be challenging in the top six. There’s no doubt we are going to need players in if we are going to be challenging next season. So there’s got to be some sort of investment, whether that comes from within the club just now or from outside the club. If Red Bull came in and called us Leeds Red Bulls, as long as Leeds United are in the Premier League, I don’t think anyone would care what they would call us. As long as the Leeds name stays. That’s what they say, ‘we are Leeds,’ that’s it.

Sat April 4th Isolated Redfearn still in charge Asked if he felt isolated by Leeds, Redfearn said: Whether I feel that or not, I definitely am. I had a number two and now I haven’t. It’s happened. It’s not great. “But in the short term, this game (Blackburn) and the game on Monday – I’m putting all that first. I’ve tried to get on with the job. A lot of people are making statements and saying things and that’s up to them. All I can do is what I do and what I’m told to do. Until I’m told different, I’ll get on with the job.” Redfearn thanked a crowd of over 25,000 for supporting him on Saturday, saying: “They were brilliant. They’ve been outstanding with us all season. To be fair to them they can see what we’re trying to do. We’ve had a really good run in the new year and we’ve got ourselves safe. They’ve seen Thommo go and it’s not good. They know what we’ve done and what we’ve achieved.” Blackburn defender Matthew Kilgallon, a player who began his career at Leeds before joining Sheffield United in 2007, described the situation at Elland Road as “a shame” and admitted he feared that some of United’s young prospects would be lost as a result of the current turmoil. “I want this club to do well,” Kilgallon said. There’s no secret that I’m a Leeds fan and it’s always one thing after another here. I don’t think the manager even knew his assistant had gone. It’s a shame. “I think (the younger players) are going to see what’s happening here. They’re playing really well and deserve big contracts. I wish they would stay here and climb up the league. I just think they’re very good players and people will come and get them.” Redfearn claimed Austin’s dismissal for an off-the-ball shove on Ben Marshall was a “poor decision” but the Jamaican will start a three-match ban tonight unless Leeds choose to appeal his red card. United are already without the injured Lewis Cook, leaving Redfearn with holes to fill in midfield.We’ve got a problem now with Lewis and Rudy out,” Redfearn said. “Wolves are a good side and very dynamic. They’re up there for a reason. But it’s a game we should be looking forward to.”

Sat April 4th Leeds 0 – 0 Blackburn Rvs United:Silvestri, Wootton (Antenucci 66), Bellusci, Bamba, Berardi (Cooper 66), C Taylor, Murphy, Mowatt, Austin, Byram, Morison (Sharp 86). Subs. S Taylor, Phillips, Dawson, Doukara, Antenucci. Referee: G Sutton Booked: Antenucci, Murphy, Taylor (United), Henley, Taylor (Blackburn) Sent Off: Austin (United) Att: 25,293 (736 Blackburn) Report from Official website Blackburn Rovers were the visitors at Elland Road following a two-week international break, and United head coach Neil Redfearn made two changes from last time out at Blackpool as Rodolph Austin returned in place of the injured Lewis Cook, while Steve Morison replaced Billy Sharp in attack. Ahead of kick-off, both sets of supporters impeccably observed a minute’s silence in tribute to Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight, 15 years on from their tragic passing. Floral wreaths were laid in the centre circle, while fans held aloft banners to show that the pair will never be forgotten. The game got underway at an emotional Elland Road it was United who looked to set the pace in the early stages as Redfearn’s side began on the front foot. Morison and Austin were just unable to combine inside the area before the first sight of goal fell to Charlie Taylor on seven minutes, but his low effort was held by goalkeeper David Raya. However, the biggest chance of the opening exchanges fell to the visitors as Jordan Rhodes was slotted through into the area, only for a superb recovering lunge from Sol Bamba to divert the ball up and onto the crossbar before Ben Marshall drilled the rebound into the side-netting. Rhodes then smashed a volley over from close-range before United’s clearest opening fell to Austin after 25 minutes. A pin-point left-wing cross from Taylor found the midfielder bursting into the area, unmarked, but he could only turn his header into the South Stand behind Raya’s goal. The intent of both sides was clear to see and Blackburn’s Rudy Gestede was inches away from meeting Tom Cairney’s inviting cross with a flying header. At the opposite end, Leeds looked a threat down the left through Taylor and Gaetano Berardi, with the latter’s low strike from range rolling into the arms of Raya. Blackburn then had United Academy graduate Matthew Kilgallon to thank as he was in the right place at the right time to block another Thorp Arch product, Sam Byram, from finding the net with a ferocious volley from Austin’s floated cross. Redfearn’s men were enjoying a good spell of pressure in front of goal, but the size of their task suddenly increased as Austin was shown a straight red card by referee Gary Sutton after an off-the-ball incident on 39 minutes. The game remained goalless at half-time and it was Blackburn who started the second half the liveliest after the two unchanged teams had re-emerged. Marco Silvestri was called into action within three minutes of the restart, getting down well to his right to push away Gestede’s low strike from inside the area, before Bamba stood firm to block the path of Rhodes. Sam Byram looped a towering header over Raya’s bar, but Blackburn eventually found a way through on 62 minutes through Tom Cairney who rifled into Silvestri’s bottom corner after the ball had fallen kindly for him inside the area. The visitors were making the most of their one-man advantage and Marshall found space to drive forward before rattling the woodwork with a ferocious 25-yard effort. Redfearn looked to act quick, replacing Berardi and Scott Wootton with Mirco Antenucci and Liam Cooper after 66 minutes, as he urged his side forward in search of an equaliser. But, just three minutes later, Blackburn’s lead was doubled as Rhodes was found inside the area to guide a diving header beyond Silvestri. And things would get worse for United as Rovers went on to add a third through Jay Spearing, tapping home from close-range after being found unmarked at the back post by Cairney. Rhodes smashed the post deep into stoppage time, but Spearing’s effort ended had ended the game as a contest, making it an afternoon to forget for those in white shirts as United fell to a first defeat in six games.

Louth Greg and Liam and GC


Thompson – too successful for Cellino


If he gets to 12 goals it’s a problem for Cellino but why get the coach to lie ?


The dwarf cares as much about Leeds as the Italian

Sat April 4th Leeds United’s ‘mad Thursday’ explained – Simon Austin (Why Thompson got the boot ?) Not for the first time in Massimo Cellino’s Leeds’ reign, fans were left scratching their heads yesterday and asking ‘what was all that about?’ At the start of the morning, news came through that assistant manager Steve Thompson had been suspended. This was a shock, to say the least. Thompson had been given a letter, signed by Nicola Salerno, informing him he was suspended (with the word suspended spelt incorrectly) and that his contract, which expires this summer, would not be renewed. Then, just as Neil Redfearn was about to attend his weekly press conference ahead of the Blackburn game on Saturday (understandably, he had considered cancelling it, before deciding he would front up to discuss a decision he had known nothing about), I wrote this story for The Sun revealing that the manager had been told he was not allowed to pick his top scorer, Mirco Antenucci. The two stories, combined, gave a feeling of chaos, of a club in disarray. They weren’t two random events that just happened to coincide though. They were linked. And this is why. Earlier in the week, Redfearn was told by chairman Andrew Umbers, in no uncertain terms, that he was not to select Antenucci because of a clause in his contract triggering an automatic one-year extension should he score 12 goals. This would mean the striker staying at Elland Road for a further two seasons beyond the current one, as well as receiving a cash bonus. This incentivised contract was seen as good business when it was agreed, as it would guarantee that the player would be rewarded only if he achieved. It was seen as insurance for the club. Everyone’s a winner, or something like that. Only Antenucci did get very close to reaching the stipulated target, and the club decided it didn’t like the incentive any more. Antenucci is already 30; he has done fairly well although not outstandingly well in his first season; and the club’s ownership situation is now up in the air. These incentivised contracts are not unusual in football. And, even though it seems bizarre, this would not be the first time a club has wanted to avoid playing someone about to activate a clause. But what is rather poor form is the fact that Umbers told Redfearn he could not disclose the real reason for not selecting Antenucci. This put the manager in a difficult position. It’s not hard to see why. Just consider if, at a press conference or in a post-match interview, he was asked why he had not selected the club’s top scorer, a striker who had netted in his last two matches. He would have to lie. And that sat uneasily with an honest man of integrity like Redfearn – one who also has a clause in his contract stating he has full autonomy over team selection. So this caused tension between Redfearn and Umbers. The manager said he would not go along with what he had been told, and that if he couldn’t pick Antenucci, he would at least be honest about the reason, saying it was a board decision. In response, Umbers told Redfearn he must not do that and there would be consequences should he do so. Was Cellino aware of all this and ultimately behind the decision? That’s a question I could not answer definitively. Then there was something of a stand-off between Redfearn and the board. The club was obviously loath to suspend or sack the manager. He has done an excellent job this year, has brought through a fine crop of young homegrown players and is held in high esteem by the club’s fans. So what was the next most severe thing they could do? Thompson was informed in the letter that he was being suspended because of the way he had been ‘carrying out his duties’. But this doesn’t wash. Surely it was Redfearn’s place and his alone to decide on the way his assistant was carrying out his duties? And he has always said that he was delighted with what Thompson had done. And the form of the team, the morale of the team, has been excellent in 2015. It’s hard to escape the conclusion that this was a way of clipping Redfearn’s wings, of showing him who was boss, of rebuking him, without taking the ultimate step of targeting him directly. It’s fair to say that Cellino was not sure about Thompson’s appointment in the first place and that it took the persistence of chief operating officer Matt Child to push his signing through. Cellino was always slightly suspicious of him after that as well. Perhaps it was because the Italian thought the appointment impacted on his own relationship with Redfearn and his own involvement in the football side of things, but that’s speculation. For his part, Redfearn has always spoken highly of Cellino, most recently in an interview with the BBC last week. They genuinely get on and have a rapport. Having spent time with Cellino myself, I can vouch for the fact he can be extremely charismatic and inspirational. When he’s in the mood, he can carry people along with his passion and vision. And that can be powerful. At times like those, you genuinely think Leeds United could be onto big things with him at the helm. Cellino can also be very astute and perceptive about people, and extremely knowledgeable about football. But. And there are some serious buts. He can be extremely erratic and irrational. We have seen this when he has sacked people on a whim, in a fit of pique. Or when he has persisted with fights that were probably not worth fighting. He also has an unfortunate trait of wanting to be the centre of attention and I wonder whether he has enjoyed watching the club’s success in 2015 from afar, while he is sat in Miami and not involved on the ground at Elland Road or Thorpe Arch. At times, he has seemed reminiscent of a child who has had a lavish birthday party laid on, only to find out he is ignored when it takes place.

Sat April 4th Red Bull make offer for Leeds The soft drinks giant Red Bull has made a bid to buy Leeds United, the club’s disqualified owner Massimo Cellino claimed last night. Cellino said Eleonora Sport, the majority shareholder at Elland Road, was considering a formal offer from Red Bull amid reports that the firm is ready to pay around £60m for control of Leeds. Red Bull, which already owns three clubs in Germany, Austria and the USA, has been heavily linked with a takeover of United for the past six months and is understood to have studied the club closely before Christmas. Rumours of a buy-out at Elland Road are being fuelled by the doubts over Cellino’s ownership of Leeds. The Italian is currently banned from running the club due to a conviction for tax evasion imposed on him in Cagliari last year. Cellino, 58, is two months into a Football League disqualification and will not be allowed to retake control of United until his ban ends on May 4. He is currently in Miami but plans to return to England later this month. Asked by the YEP about reports of an impending Red Bull buy-out, Cellino initially said that they were not true, it’s just another story.” But in a later conversation, Cellino said: There is an offer. I didn’t know about it but I spoke just now with Giampaolo Caboni, one of the directors of Eleonora Sport. “He said Red Bell has made an offer for the club. The shareholder will have to think about it. I don’t know what they will do.” The YEP has been unable to corroborate Cellino’s claim. Red Bull and United chairman Andrew Umbers have been asked to comment. A report in the Daily Mirror last night said sources close to Red Bull were hopeful of securing ownership of Leeds in the next three weeks.The company has a history of football club ownership and runs RB Leipzig in Germany, Red Bull Salzburg in Austria and New York Red Bulls in America’s MLS. Red Bull’s style of ownership has been the source of controversy, however. It’s buy-out of Salzburg in 2005 led to a change of the club’s name and strip and led to the creation of a new team by angry supporters, SV Austria Salzburg. Back in November, the company denied that it was planning to by Leeds, saying: “Red Bull has no plans to take over Leeds Utd nor take a stake in the club.” Shares at Leeds are split between Eleonora Sport and Gulf Finance House, the Bahraini bank which owned United before Cellino bought them out in an £11m deal last April. The Italian inherited large amount of debt from GFH and has been plagued by problems throughout his short time at Elland Road. The Football League banned him as owner on December 1 – a decision which was upheld in January after a failed appeal by Cellino – and he faces other court cases in Italy which could incur fresh disqualifications from the governing body. Allegations that Cellino avoided paying VAT on a Range Rover are due to be heard by a court in Cagliari in 10 days’ time. The former Cagliari owner has been absent from Leeds ever since his ban came into force, leaving the club in the hands of Umbers, but the volatility seen at stages of Cellino’s reign resurfaced this week with the unexplained suspension of assistant head coach Steve Thompson and boardroom pressure on head coach Neil Redfearn not to use Mirco Antenucci due a clause in the striker contract. Cellino, who is strictly barred by the Football League from influencing decisions at Leeds, said he “knew nothing” of Thompson’s suspension and claimed he was still intending to renew his involvement with United when his disqualification ends. I will come back to Leeds,” he said. “From May (4), I’m allowed to come back.”

Sat 4th of April Sneijder apologises for knife tweet Galatasaray’s Wesley Sneijder has apologised to Leeds United’s fans after promoting a club-branded knife set that he is endorsing. Leeds will on today mark 15 years since the deaths of supporters Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight, who were stabbed by a Turkish man ahead of their side’s UEFA Cup clash with Galatasaray in April 2000. A minute’s silence will precede Leeds’ Sky Bet Championship fixture with Blackburn, but United fans were enraged on Saturday morning when Holland international Sneijder tweeted a picture of a Gala-branded knife set which carried his image, saying the item was now “finally” available for sale. His Tweet was met with an angry response from Leeds fans and was soon deleted, and Sneijder wrote to one supporter apologising, saying: “@Leedsu1Ross Very sorry. I didn’t know this and deleted our promotion for the merchandise kitchen item. #Respect.” Ali Umit Demur was jailed for 15 years for the deaths of Loftus and Speight, while four other men were jailed for their part in the attack. A Leeds spokesman said: It would be disappointing to see this on any day but especially this weekend when we have a number of tributes planned out of respect for the fans who went to watch their team and never came home.” The tweet has since been deleted

Sat April 4th. Redfearn considering his future (updated) A rattled Neil Redfearn said he was in the dark and “bitterly disappointed” after Leeds United suspended his assistant, Steve Thompson. Thompson was effectively sacked by Leeds this morning in a dramatic development which has left head coach Redfearn without a number two for the rest of the Championship season. United confirmed Thompson’s suspension in a two-line statement, saying the decision had been taking by sporting director Nicola Salerno and that the club would make “no further comment on this internal issue.” Redfearn, however, appeared at a press conference at Thorp Arch this afternoon (April 3) to express his shock at the departure of coach who came to Elland Road after his own appointment as boss in November. United took almost two months to secure Thompson’s services from Huddersfield Town, finally tying him to a short-term deal in the week before Christmas. He has been in his post for just 19 matches. In a letter given him at Thorp Arch this morning, Thompson is understood to have been told that he will be suspended until his contract expires at the end of the season. He has also been informed that an option to renew his deal will not be taken up by the club. Redfearn, who was not warned of Thompson’s impending exit, said: “Thommo was informed this morning through a letter. “He’s been suspended – for what, I don’t know. You’d have to find that out from the club. I don’t understand why. He’s been part of a successful team since the turn of the year. “It seems a really strange decision and I’m bitterly disappointed. It’s very rare that people lose their jobs when they’ve been successful.” Leeds were one place above the Championship’s relegation places at the end of December but their squad have taken 29 points from 18 league games since Thompson’s arrival as assistant. We’ve been better and you can see that in the performances and results,” Redfearn said. They don’t lie. They’re facts. “It’s unbalancing the stability we had. It’s undermining what we’re trying to do – to put something together under the belief that you’re getting the backing you need.” United chairman Andrew Umbers – promoted to that post following the Football League ban imposed on owner Massimo Cellino – was asked to explain Thompson’’s suspension. In a statement, Leeds said: “The director of football, Nicola Salerno, has suspended the assistant coach Steve Thompson from his duties at the club. This is an internal matter and the club will make no further comment on this internal issue.”Redfearn is also out of contract in the summer and has yet to be offered an extension. He said the departure of Thompson, who is taking advice from the League Managers Association (LMA), would make him have a “hard think” about his future. The 49-year-old took training this morning and will work alone to prepare the team for Saturday’s game against Blackburn Rovers.


Thompson’s crime ? Winning too many games

Friday April 3rd. Cellino: The Enemy Within – Sabotage Times Massimo Cellino this week proved that getting his own way was more important to him than Leeds United winning. And that is why it’s time to leave. One thing that people like Cellino don’t understand is that he isn’t Leeds United, he simply currently owns it. If a man owns a dog, he isn’t the dog, he’s just responsible for it’s well-being and behaviour. Cellino’s behaviour has shown it’s time to take us back to the Dogs Home or hand us to a better owner.

From the off I liked Cellino, I liked the way he was shaking things up – to me there seemed method to his madness. A lot of what he did: the redundancies, closing Thorp Arch over the summer, making players bring their own lunch, appointing a wildcard manager out of his depth, ushering the Championship’s leading scorer out of the door were hugely unpopular but he was doing it to balance the books.

Any Leeds fan over the age of 20 should know and understand the importance of stopping the club operating at a loss.


Hock – the genius that wouldn’t even include Mowatt in our squad – the first of his brilliant picks as coach of Leeds United

I could forgive him David Hockaday, it was a massive mistake that seemed to reflect Cellino’s over-confidence in the league. After Neil Redfearn had an almost 100% month in charge it seemed hasty to appoint another guy with no track record and the arrival of Darko from Darkest Slovenia was a bad appointment. If Leeds were going to give someone with little managerial experience in this league a chance, then surely the caretaker with ten points out of a possible 12 would have been the man to back.

After a difficult end to last year when Redfearn struggled to remotivate an unbalanced squad of youngsters, foreign newcomers and lagging journeymen, the new year saw the arrival of a good assistant coach. A new formation and first team line-up emerged that, whilst still lacking a cutting edge, found a way to win and accumulate points.

Before Steve Thompson arrived our win ratio was 29%, since then it has grown to 42%, and that’s from a team with a regular centre forward who hasn’t actually scored since Alex Ferguson was manager of Manchester United.

The decision to not play Antennucci over the last few months has been the only baffling element of what has progressively been a very enjoyable second half to the season. Coming on at Brighton and Fulham he looked inventive, sharp and a cut above some of the players around him.

This has now emerged yesterday was a Cellino directive. If Antenucci scores another two goals the club are contractually obliged to retain him for another two seasons. Weird. I’d have thought that was a good thing. He looks the sort of player like a Strachan or Sheringham whose brain would keep him ahead of the opposition, despite him turning the grand old age of 31.


Cellino – you can fool some of the people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time

That Cellino had insisted Antennucci doesn’t play full games has proven he would rather save money than win games. He knows Leeds are safe from relegation so now he wants to keep the costs down. Packed lunches is one thing but holding your team back from winning is another. Which brings us onto the effective dismissal of Steve Thompson. As soon as I heard he had gone I tweeted what I have known for a while. Cellino has repeatedly wanted to fire Redfearn during the current excellent run for drawing games he believes we should have won, and not fielding enough of the players he himself helped chose. This is rich given he doesn’t want to field one of the best players he brought in. In Silvestre, Bamba, Bellusci and Berardi, Cellino has added enough imported blood to the team for the rest of it to be pretty much filled with home-grown academy talent. This was exactly the ratio Benito Carbone said Cellino wanted when he was doing voluntary work for the owner at the start of his reign.

Most of his imports have been given a fair chance. The best have established themselves whilst others like Bianchi were tolerated far longer than form should have allowed.

His decision yesterday was a deliberate attempt to get Redfearn to walk away. No doubt he believes the director of football, Mr Salerno, who has always seemed to be behind the club in a good way and was unfortunate in being told to deliver the bad news yesterday, can sit on the bench for the last handful of games.

The Antennucci and Thompson decisions are not in the best interest of the club, team, manager or fans. One is a pointless financial saving that wont even have any impact for 14 months and the other is the petty action of a spoilt Italian brat, cushioned by the success his father brought to the family business, thrashing in his utter frustration that The Guardian picked the coach and not the owner, as reason for the club’s on-field improvements.


Then came Darko – the less said the better about our 2nd coach

Antennucci, Thompson and Redfearn have all been very good for Leeds United this year, the atmosphere at recent games on and off the pitch has been brilliant, and everything was becoming nicely balanced to create a foundation for future success.

I don’t think Neil Redfearn will be the manager come the summer holidays and at that point you will have players worth a lot of money without their mentor and who could blame them when the Villas of this world come knocking with contracts worth four times what they are on.

For those who I argued with when I believed Cellino would be good for the club, I now stand corrected. He has given the framework for the coach to improve on the pitch but he is now nothing more than the enemy within. God only knows who he will appoint as the next manager but don’t back anyone who might make sense. Our only hope is a better owner will make him an offer he can’t turn down. I couldn’t agree more with this guy. Time for Cellino to piss off. We have made more strides in the last number of months on the pitch when he wasn’t involved off the pitch….now he just can’t help himself. Hockaday, Darko, and now Readfearn who was making progress will surely walk after his mate was given the bullet. It’s a fu**** circus.

April 2nd. Redfearn isolated as Thompson departs When push came to shove, Neil Redfearn had to speak. He toyed with the idea of cancelling his Thursday press conference but it went ahead eventually, an hour late. The alternative was silence and the misapprehension that the suspension of his assistant, Steve Thompson, was carried out with his knowledge or his approval. Thompson’s suspension is a sacking in all but name. A letter given to him at Thorp Arch this morning told him that he would be suspended until the end of the season and released in the summer when his contract expires. He had no inkling and neither did Redfearn. Certain players knew what Leeds United were planning before the coaching staff found out. Redfearn and Thompson go back many years. The were team-mates at Bolton Wanderers in the 1980s and Thompson filled the role of best man at Redfearn’s wedding. Redfearn talked of his “bitter disappointment” as he digested the departure of an assistant who Leeds took two months to appoint and three months to dismiss. More than that, it frustrated Redfearn that Thompson had filled his post ably, in his eyes and the eyes of most of the outside world. Leeds were fourth bottom in the Championship a fortnight after Thompson moved east from Huddersfield Town but 18 league games with him and Redfearn in partnership returned 29 points. United have been safe from relegation for weeks. “You’re trying to put together a winning team and that includes the staff,” Redfearn said. The lads have been into what we’re doing here and you see that in the performances and results. They don’t lie. They’re facts. “This goes against everything we’re doing. We’re trying to put something together under the belief that we’ve got the backing we need. Steve’s in shock but he did as he was told. The letter said ‘with immediate effect’ so he didn’t take training (today). I took it.” Thompson was and is popular with most of Leeds’ players. Midfielder Luke Murphy credited him with rescuing his own season – forlorn in December but impressive ever since – and Sol Bamba spoke highly of him last month. Redfearn was particularly close with Thompson and valued his experience of coaching in the Championship, most of it gained at Blackpool. Massimo Cellino, United’s disqualified owner, was altogether less impressed. It took concerted pressure from Matt Child – Leeds’ former chief operating office who quit the club last week – to secure the arrival of Thompson, seven weeks after Redfearn’s appointment as head coach and despite the fact that in the end Huddersfield were happy to release him for nothing.

Cellino is believed to have seen Thompson as the driving force behind the drastic change of formation and personnel which Redfearn instigated in January; a switch which provoked a major upturn in results but also rendered peripheral players who Cellino signed last summer and who he wanted to see more involved.

Leeds’ Italian owner is in the middle of a Football League disqualification and, under the rules of the governing body, is barred from influencing policy at Elland Road or exerting control over the club’s operations until his suspension ends on May 4. Club chairman Andrew Umbers was asked to explain the precise reasons behind Thompson’s exit but the club issued only a brief statement, saying sporting director Nicola Salerno was responsible for the decision to suspend him. It caused surprised since many at Elland Road think Salerno – one of Cellino’s confidantes at Cagliari – will himself leave Leeds in the summer.

“Steve’s a mate, definitely, but he’s good football person,” Redfearn said. “He understands the game and he understands the division we’re in. We’ve been good for one another. We’ve worked well. With Steve and the effect I have on players, sometimes you need someone who goes in from a different angle. The perfect example was at Fulham (last month, where Leeds won 3-0). I went in at half-time and read the riot act but it still needed a calm voice that goes round individuals and gives them the right message. It’s the ideal partnership.“Steve’s been part of the team and if you want to deflate something, you start taking things away from the team. He’s proved successful at other clubs. It’s very rare that people lose their jobs when they’ve been successful.” Redfearn is in a similar boat. After a commendable period as head coach, his contract expires this summer and the events of today make an extension of his deal no more likely. The 49-year-old said he needed to “have a hard think” about his future but he knows that others above him are considering it too. “Where before it (staying as head coach) was a no-brainer, now I’ve got to have a think,” he said. For what remains of the season, or until something else gives, he will carry on alone, beginning at home to Blackburn Rovers tomorrow. Blackburn’s manager, Gary Bowyer, spent part of his press conference this afternoon talking about how Redfearn had “turned it around”, unaware of what was brewing at Elland Road. “I’m coming to terms with the day and I haven’t thought that far ahead, about who’ll be with me in the dug-out,” Redfearn said. “I’ll just have to see how that goes to be honest. “I love this football club, I love everything it stands for. I was brought up with Leeds United as a kid, under the Revie years and what they stood for – the principles and beliefs. It shaped me as a footballer. “There are lots of things about this football club which are really good. But this situation is a difficult situation for me. “On Saturday I’ll just make sure that for their sake and for the supporters who pay the money to come in, the lads are as professional and focused as they have been all season. And I’m sure they will be. But this just doesn’t help. The timing’s not ideal. It’s never ideal.” So Cellino throws his toys out of the pram and takes his ball home because most of the players he brought to the club were shite and the coach and his assistant decided tom use better alternatives.

April 3rd. Umbers responds to Antenucci drop rumours. Leeds chairman Andrew Umbers has responded to media once more. Leeds United chairman Andrew Umbers has responded to rumours that Mirco Antenucci is not being selected due to a clause in his contract, according to West Yorkshire Sport. The 30-year-old Italian is Leeds’ top scorer this season but has seen less playing tame in recent months despite returning to the team before the international break. And reports have suggested the reason behind the development is that Antenucci’s contract will be extended if he reaches 12 Championship goals this term. Umbers, however, has refuted those suggestions and says boss Neil Redfearn is free to play Antenucci whenever he needs to. West Yorkshire Sport report him as saying: “The rumours are wrong. Mirco Antenucci has always been available for selection and always will be. It is up to Neil whether he plays him or not on the merits of his matchday strategy. “In the last 15 games, Neil has decided to play alternative strikers in the first team but included Mirco in the squad. Nothing has changed in Mirco’s availability to play and that includes this weekend. “He is part of our short, medium and long term strategy in football. He also loves playing for Leeds United.” Whether the statement will be believed by fans remains to be seen but it’s another clear response to some of yesterday’s goings on. Umbers has already commented on the suspension of Leeds assistant Steve Thompson, defending the decision despite criticism from supporters and journalists. Whatever happens next at Elland Road remains as much of a mystery as what’s gone before. But, according to the club’s official line, Antenucci is free to play whenever he is needed…

April 2nd. Leeds number 2 suspended This is the official statement from the club website : The Director of Football, Nicola Salerno, has today (April 2) suspended the assistant coach Steve Thompson from his duties at the club. This is an internal matter and the club will make no further comment on this internal issue. Now we all know that Salerno wouldn’t go to the toilet without Cellino’s permission.