Leeds United head coach Darko Milanic asserted his authority last night by insisting he had full control over team affairs amid questions about the influence of owner Massimo Cellino.
Milanic said tactics and formations were “my decision” and claimed discussions with Cellino about United’s squad were “not in detail” after the surprise inclusion of Liam Cooper in his line-up on Wednesday night.
Milanic, who will look for a first victory as Leeds’ head coach at home to Sheffield Wednesday today, unexpectedly dropped Stephen Warnock ahead of a 0-0 draw with Reading and used centre-back Cooper to cover the left side of his defence.
The change came five days after a 2-0 defeat in Brentford, Milanic’s first game as boss and a match which saw Cellino join the away end at Griffin Park.
The Italian is said to have been highly critical of Warnock’s display during a disappointing game in London, prompting claims that he was dictating changes to United’s side.
Warnock – a free transfer from Aston Villa in 2012 and now 32 – has been a dependable member of the first team this season and he is currently the club’s only fit left-back with Aidan White and Charlie Taylor both suffering from injury.
Milanic, however, stated after the Reading game that the decision to include Cooper had been his and said it was taken to combat the threat of Reading winger Nick Blackman.
The 46-year-old, who left Sturm Graz to take charge of Leeds last week, said he had control over team matters and went further by insisting that he and Cellino were not holding in-depth conversations about line-ups and systems.
Milanic also suggested that speculation about Cellino’s influence was the result of the former Cagliari president’s dominant and single-minded style.
“If you have a president like our president, one man, it’s normal that people or (the media) talk about this,” Milanic said. “It’s not my problem. It’s my decision.
“When you have a strong president like he is, with such experience in football, it’s normal that you talk about it. I have no problem.”
Asked whether he and
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Cellino were discussing team affairs at length, Milanic said: “Not in detail. That is not the job of Mr Cellino.”
He declared himself satisfied with United’s defensive performance against Reading, a match in which Leeds created little but rarely looked like conceding themselves.
“We played very solid on Wednesday,” he said. “We were better when you look at the two games. The second was much better in defence.”
Milanic took control of Leeds on a two-year deal 11 days ago, buying his way out of a contract at Sturm Graz to secure the job at Elland Road.
He is the second head coach of United this season after David Hockaday was sacked by Cellino after 70 days at the club.
The former Slovenia international left his family behind in Austria, saying he was reluctant to unsettle them immediately.
“My family will stay in Graz because my daughter is in school there,” he said. “This is her first year in an Austrian school and if she change in one year for the second time, it’s not good. It’s better that they stay for the moment and then we see.
“But it is beautiful here. When someone comes here from Europe, I think they will be surprised by Leeds.”