We’re only a few months into the season and at Leeds United the Cellino tombola has begun in earnest. The newest Leeds owner and ‘president’ Massimo Cellino sacked his third coach of his short tenure, Slovenian Darko Milanič,.
That’s small beans for a guy who sacked 36 managers in 20 years at his previously-owned club, Italian side Cagliari. So far this season no Leeds manager has last more than six games before Cellino finds them lacking and fires them. What could you expect from a man who compares managers to watermelons because “You find out about them when you open them.”
It’s unsurprising that Cellino’s nickname in Italy was “The manager-eater”. This latest sacking reminds me of a joke I heard on Football Weekly once about his coach-sacking rival, the biggest Mangiaallenatori in Serie A, Palermo owner Maurizio Zamparini, that could be applied to both: “He’s knocked off more coach than Dick Turpin.”
Darko Milanič, who resigned from his role as manager at Austrian side Sturm Graz – where he is loved by fans – to take charge at Elland Road, lasted 32 days and six games as manager of Leeds United before Cellino claimed his third scalp.
No one’s really surprised –when Cellino appointed Milanič his reasons included “He’s good-looking” and “He is a very cool guy” – and if Milanič is he was even more unprepared for life at Leeds than his poor no-wins-in-six-games record suggests.
Funnily enough, Milanič now represents Leeds’s least successful manager, replacing Brian Clough and his infamous, and at 44 days, longer spell at the Yorkshire club. Even discounting the 12 days difference, Milanič only managed to take 2pts from a possible 18, while Clough took 4pts from a possible 12 and, unlike the Slovenian, won a match during his six games in charge.
It’s probably the only time when being negatively compared to Brian Clough is an insult to a manager.
The duty to manage Leeds full-time now falls to our reserve team coach, and our most successful manager so far this season, Neil Redfearn.
‘Redders’ took over in-between the short-lived tenures of former Forest Green manager Dave Hockaday and Milanič. While the results under Hockaday (“Who?” we all asked when he was appointed. His claim to fame is he got Green relegated from the Conference Premier in his first season, only for them to be saved due to Salisbury City’s financial irregularities) were marked by defeats and red cars, Redfearn fared much better, taking ten points from twelve during his four games at the helm.
The fear now for Leeds fans is that, due to Redfearn being handed the job full-time, that he too will meet the axe and we lose in effect two managers (First team and reserves), and also our ready-made caretaker, in that same swing.
Redfearn said Cellino “does not see this as a short-term thing,” but, again, he should’ve take anything the “King of Corn” says at face value and be aware that his position will always be tenuous and results-orientated.
Only 32 or so days after Cellino described Milanič as “pragmatic,” he about-faced and told the Yorkshire Evening Post he wanted to apologise to supporters because they deserve better results and he “made a mistake with this guy [Milanič]. He’s negative, he has a losing mentality.”
The football may improve under Redfearn as it did ten games ago, but even an undefeated streak from here to the new year will probably just afford him a stay of execution. And that’s almost exactly how Cellino described his previous sacking, having “given the order to fire” Milanič with the ruthless ease of a commander of a firing squad.
And speaking of squads, there is a general acceptance that Leeds are not blessed with an exceptionally gifted one. A manager can only do so much and all that can be expected is for one to make best use with what he has, but try telling that to Cellino, especially if he fails to see the correlation between a “pragmatic” manager and one who sets out his team in a “negative” manner.
But what could you expect from a man who buys a football club without doing his due diligence?