The treatment of Neil Redfearn and the appointment of Uwe Rosler are separate issues in my eyes.
The way in which Redfearn’s been handled by Leeds United – and quite honestly, it’s been pretty appalling – doesn’t alter the quality of the head coach who’s replacing him.
If Neil wasn’t going to keep the job, Rosler is the sort of replacement I’d have been looking for. You can find faults and negatives with almost every coach in the world but the positives with Uwe easily outweigh the difficulties he’s had in his career.
He’s a considered and scientific guy who promotes a nice style of football and seems clear in his mind about what his teams should be doing. His tactics and formations worked to good effect at Brentford and had a big impact when he first went to Wigan. You’ll look at his time at Wigan now and talk about how it all went wrong, and obviously that’s a bit of a black mark. We’ve all got a few on our records. But I can’t help feeling that Wigan are suffering from a general malaise which will take a few years to recover from. I very much doubt that the blame in Uwe’s time there lay solely with him.
The encouraging thing about him is that he’s come in at the very start of the summer and he’ll take over with firm ideas about what needs to be done. Recent history at Leeds shows that head coaches don’t always get their way but I expect this summer to be more purposeful and organised than it was a year ago. And I very much doubt that when it ends we’ll be looking at a midfield diamond.
I’ve met Uwe a couple of times but I don’t know him especially well. All I’ll say is that as a player he was tough and no-nonsense and it stands to reason that his management style will be the same.
He’s clever enough to have done his homework on Leeds so he’ll know what he’s getting himself into. He’ll know what’s gone on in the last 12 months and deep down, he probably realises that it might not be plain sailing for him. It could all be over quickly. But he’s good enough for the job and for me it goes down as an excellent appointment.
The key here is Massimo Cellino. Everything at Leeds depends on Cellino. I can’t help but feel positive about Rosler’s arrival and the inclusion of Adam Pearson to the board. They’re fine acquisitions. But as we’ve seen before, they’ll count for nothing unless Cellino let’s them get on with their jobs without causing problems and unsettling things.
Sad as I am to say this, I don’t have much confidence in him managing to do that – because if you look at his record in football, he’s rarely been able to take a step back. But that has to happen for Rosler to succeed. And with someone as accomplished as Pearson on the board, Cellino’s got the perfect front man. It would do the club a huge favour if Pearson became their face and voice.
As for Redfearn, I feel for him at the moment. He’ll be sore about this, although I don’t think he’ll begrudge Rosler the opportunity. It’s not like he’s being replaced by a nobody and it was never guaranteed that he’d stay on as head coach this summer. But in the circumstances I thought his own performance was excellent and the process of replacing him has been so badly managed.
I saw Cellino’s comments about him in the Sunday Mirror last weekend and I thought they were disgraceful. If Cellino genuinely means what he said about Neil, he should have the nerve to say that to his face, not in the papers. The fact that Cellino hasn’t spoken to him at all since the end of his Football League ban is very poor, not least because Leeds are now trying to offer Neil his old job at the academy.
Given the way Cellino has criticised him, there’s no way that can happen without some proper reconciliation. I don’t care what anyone says – it’s impossible for Neil to return to the academy job with things the way they are. He and Pearson might get on fine but this is Cellino’s club and he calls the shots. He’s made it quite clear that he’s got no respect for Redfearn.
Of course, none of this is Rosler’s fault and it’s important to make that point. They’re separate issues, even though they’re connected in a way. I wish Uwe all the best and my main hope at this stage is that he’s still in a job this time next year. If he is then the club will be making proper progress with a proper plan and a good head coach. If not, you’d have to say that this merry-go-round is going to go on forever.