I’m not sure what I expected, as I lay in bed, phone in hand late last night, waiting for Cellino’s interview to be published. Could he be so deluded to consider this a scenario of Neil’s doing? Or can he see that the unqualified specimens he left in charge of Leeds have worked day and night to undermine a man who embodies the soul of Leeds United.
Alas, Massimo’s interview with Simon Austin was so far detatched from the real world I wasn’t certain I hadn’t already fallen asleep. The statement is viewable here:
— The Square Ball (@TheSquareBall) April 19, 2015
From the overlord’s mouth “this looks like a fight between manager Neil Redfearn and the ownership of the club, which is not good”.
Are we supposed to believe that 6 players ruling themselves out of playing (something Silvestri’s dad has even weighed in on, claiming that Mirco and Marco were indeed injured and 4 others opted to perform some kind of protest) is somehow Neil’s doing as part of a protest? Exactly what influence is Redders supposed to have here?
I suppose having his assistant (and best man at his wedding) sacked was part of Neil’s masterplan too, was it?
What about signing Benedicic and Ngoyi? The former a player who the medical staff said shouldn’t be signed due to injury problems and the latter forgoing a medical altogether, I suppose these idiotic acts were somehow down to Neil’s opposition to the owners?
Look back and count through the absurd things that has gone on at the club and consider how ridiculous that statement sounds. What we HAVE got is a consumate professional trying to do the best job he can despite the environment that Cellino, Umbers and Salerno have created around him. By not strengthening in the positions we need, by signing players we don’t want, by sacking his coaching staff and continually undermining his position… Somehow a selection of players protesting their lack of involvement is Neil’s fault?
We all know where this is going
I’d been holding on to the hope that Massimo would stroll back into Leeds, stabilise the rocking boat, hand out the new contracts that are needed and help us move forward. What he’s instead done is side with the non-playing staff. He’s stated that the problems, protests and lack of harmony are due to Neil fighting the ownership. How exactly?
Neil has picked the best players he has at his disposal and continued trying to do his job. I’m also not sure exactly what informing Andrew Umbers of the injuries would have done, but this is a point of contention for the Sheriff. Monsoir Umbers has no involvement in the playing side of the club, he’s merely the man they call when Leeds United needs to be sold (a trend that hasn’t gone unnoticed); with the timings being tight as they were, I’m not sure what Massimo thinks Umbers would have contributed.
Andrew Umbers the footballing magician, a story by Massimo Cellino
“You see”, stammered Andrew, “with those 6 out injured you’re going to want to play a flat 4-4-2. Move Charlie to left back, Alex to left midfield, let Austin and Murphy run the middle, Byram on the right, it’ll work.”.
“But what about up top?” sighed Neil, agitated by needing to be civil with Andrew Umbers, a man he despised, as he did all the owners of Leeds United. “What do we do for attacking options, I don’t have a clue, please help me”.
Andrew scratched his head, full of thick hair and not even slightly bald. “Billy Sharp struggles to play alone in the 4-2-3-1, but works best with a more defensive minded forward, so let’s put him and Steve Morison together, that should offer us the most”.
“Brilliant!” exclaimed Neil, momentarily forgetting his hatred for the board, “thank god I consulted you on this injury problem, as you can see from these notes I had started I was going to play Stuart Taylor as a poacher and put Chris Dawson in goal. Massimo was right, you know, I should have consulted you about these injuries earlier.”
“He is the wisest of us all” whispered Andrew with quiet reverence, “what Massimo doesn’t know about football isn’t worth knowing. He appointed me because, unlike that rude acolyte Steve Thomas, was it? Oh, Thompson, sorry, who cares. Unlike Thomas I know football inside and out, man and boy. You would be wise to remember that, Neil.”.
“Right you are boss, very sorry for troubling you. Oh, and one more thing?”
“Yes?” sighed Umbers, exasperated by Neil’s continual need for footballing instruction.
“Please don’t sell Lewis Cook. Or Alex Mowatt. Or Sam Byram. We need them. Leeds United needs them”.
“Be gone, peasant” spat Umbers, as he lowered himself into his office chair. “Massimo is right” he thought to himself, “I am brilliant, and when that irritating Redfearn man has been forced out, we can get back to our roots, to non-league Slovakian men who know their place”. He smirked at the thought of Neil Redfearn being unemployed, picking his iPhone up from his desk and returned to looking at bikini photos of Eleonora Cellino.
Neil doesn’t have any support at board level. With Matt Childs gone there’s no barrier between the two sides of the footballing world and it’s clear that Cellino has taken the wrong side. This isn’t a fight between Neil and the ownership as much as it is the owners continually undermining his position, removing all the tools he has to use and then spinning every event around to be his fault.
It’s criminal how Neil is being treated and if Charlton is anything to go by, Massimo’s position at the club could be beyond salvage. But then, Neil looks to be gone even sooner than that. Writing those words has made my heart heavy; Redders and the kids embody what I think “is” Leeds.
But let’s face it, we’re edging towards a future where Neil’s contract isn’t renewed, the kids get sold and we spend another decade bouncing around between League One and the Championship with sub-par journeymen, loanees and Serie B rejects. 3 managers a season, players signed without medicals, a dying academy and fans marginalised.
I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it, we need fan representation. Join Leeds Fans CBS and help us take back our club.
On and on. Blame Massimo Cellino. And Tom Lees.