Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Cellino returns

We're now more than a year into Massimo Cellino's reign at Leeds United, and it's hard to make a case that the club is in a better place than when he arrived.

When I spoke to the Italian on Sunday, on the day his ban expired, he told me: "Compared to last summer, it is completely different. In terms of the cost, the number of players. From that I am quite happy."

Yet he sounded a little forlorn and also admitted to being worried about going into Elland Road the following day: because of what he might encounter and because of the amount of work he would have to do.

Yesterday we found out that workload had increased even more - the Football Association is investigating the transfer of Brazilian Adryan last summer and a possible issue of third-party ownership.

Cellino said he was meeting FA officials about the issue today (Thursday) but insisted there was no case for him to answer and that everything had been above board.

Most would agree that the little playmaker hasn't been worth the trouble, struggling to adjust to the demands of the English game and barely featuring since Christmas.

Add this to the Cameron Stewart case; to the legal cases still looming over Cellino in Italy; to the fact he hasn't bought the ground or training ground, as promised; that the club is desperately short of both coaching and administrative staff; to the fact pre-season still hasn't been organised; to the fact there isn't a head coach in place for next season - and you get the picture of a club in disarray.

Cellino said he was disappointed about the way things had been run during his three-month absence.

“Nothing has been sorted out and instead there is just shit," he told me.

“When I left, everyone was looking after their own skin rather than what was good for the club.

“Everything needs sorting out for next season – the sponsors, ground, lights, even pre-season.

“They told me we were booked for the pre-season. Then I find out the Liverpool under-17s are booked at the same place and there is only one training pitch. Amateurs.

“We also need a head of press, a head of the academy, a sporting director, a club secretary.

“This is unbelievable and quite scary. Andrew Umbers is a nice man, but this is hopeless.”

Cellino will now become chairman/ president, with Umbers stepping down as chairman but remaining on the board. This is a little bit of a comedown, because he had told people the chairmanship was his permanently.

At least with the Italian back in situ, we can expect more information about the way the club is being run, whether people like it, or choose to believe it.

In his absence, there was an unfortunate attempt to spin.

We were told that the 'sicknote six' had all been injured and that the board had been kept fully aware of the situation. There were holes in this explanation and it undermined head coach Neil Redfearn.

We were told that the head coach had never actually been told he couldn't pick Mirco Antenucci and that he was free to select who he wanted. Again, this was flawed.

And an email was sent to staff warning them of the consequences should they leak information. At the end of the day, this was just hurting the fans, who are far better informed than the hierarchy might give them credit for.

Cellino actually argued everyone focusses on Umbers too much though, because his role had essentially been as a figurehead in his absence and that he didn't wield the authority or importance people bestowed upon him.

So what about Redfearn? The question on everyone's lips.

“I am in love with Neil and I don’t want to talk to anyone else about the job,” Cellino said.

“I have always believed in him and I gave him his big chance.

“I made sure he had a clause guaranteeing he would pick the team because I don’t want a coach I control.

“If my coach is working in the right direction I will treat him better than anyone else in the world.

“I have made a lot of mistakes in my life and I don’t want to have this.

“But I need to decide whether Neil is best for the club and can lead us back to the Premier League."

It looks like sporting director Nicola Salerno will go, because Cellino wants to focus on English players.

And, interestingly, an olive branch has been held out to former assistant Steve Thompson, who was suspended without explanation last month.

Both Cellino and Umbers have phoned him and he was invited to the club's end of season awards dinner last weekend.

Perhaps understandably, Thompson declined the invitation. The League Manager's Association is advising him about his suspension and he's not happy about the way he was treated. Expect to hear more on that.

But you won't need me to tell you that. This does seem to be a club that lurches from crisis to crisis, mishap to mishap, almost on a weekly basis.

1 comment:

  1. Isvarr showcases the skills of qualified contractors/freelancers to companies in the areas of IT, marketing and communication, journalism, translation, training as well as consultancy. These companies – or employers – use the services of to help them evaluate, select and recruit the right contractor for every job