Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino has offered Brian McDermott fresh hope of avoiding the sack by insisting the club’s manager was “my last problem” and denying that he had spoken to other coaches about taking the job at Elland Road.
Cellino said he and McDermott would “speak to each other, 100 per cent” in the days ahead and voiced sympathy for United’s boss, saying: “This situation would have been impossible for anyone, not just him.”
Previous comments from the Italian have given few hints of outright support for McDermott, and Cellino’s failure to meet with the 53-year-old last week – a meeting at which McDermott planned to discuss his retained list and summer transfer targets – cast further doubt on the likelihood of the ex-Reading manager remaining at Elland Road beyond the end of this season.
McDermott has two years left on his contract with Leeds but is yet to receive Cellino’s backing or any firm assurances about his future.
United have one game of the season remaining – at home to Derby County this weekend – after beating Birmingham City 3-1 on Saturday.
Cellino missed the victory after flying to Sardinia to watch his Italian club Cagliari play Parma yesterday.
Speaking to the YEP, Cellino said: “I’m going to talk to Brian.
“We will speak to each other 100 per cent and I will speak to him honestly. There is so much going on at Leeds and already I’ve changed my mind 10 times about a lot of things. But let me tell you, the coach is my last problem here.
“There are much bigger problems.” Asked if he had approached potential replacements for McDermott, Cellino said: “I haven’t talked to other coaches.”
United have won three of their last four league games, the club’s best sequence of form since November.
Cellino was conciliatory towards McDermott and directed criticism at Gulf Finance House, the Bahraini bank he bought out on April 7.
“Brian’s a good man but they (GFH) took his soul and he’s unhappy,” Cellino said.
“He had a dream, he had promises but then he came here and found a f****** nightmare.
“Because of that, I don’t think he’s been able to be himself. He’s been someone else.
“He started on the wrong foot, he was told a lot of bulls**t and the best coach in the world wouldn’t have done better. That is true.
“He was a good coach at Reading and maybe he can be a good coach here. But he isn’t a manager.”