Like a lot of the club’s supporters, I thought the international break would be a prime opportunity for Leeds United to find a new head coach.
But if it’s a quick decision versus the right decision then I’d take the right decision every time. No doubt it would have satisfied the fans to see someone in place before our game at Birmingham City but an appointment in this two-week period wasn’t essential.
We’re in safe hands with Neil Redfearn and the win over Bolton Wanderers last month showed that he’s capable of managing the first team, even if that’s only for a short while. I’m not saying that he shouldn’t be a candidate for the head coach’s job but if it goes to someone else then I think we’re well-covered in the meantime.
Neil got his tactics right against Bolton and I thought his team selection was basically spot-on too. It took a bit of courage to play Lewis Cook and Alex Mowatt from the start but our midfield was more lively and mobile with those two in the team. Even though Neil knows them lads well, selecting Cook and Mowatt was a gamble on an afternoon when we really needed three points.
You can read a couple of things into that. For starters, Neil obviously has the confidence to pick a team for his own reasons and employ his own tactics.
Quite often with caretakers you find that they just send out the same players in the same old system but it was clear to see that under David Hockaday, the strategy wasn’t working.
Also, it couldn’t be said on the basis of the line-up against Bolton that Massimo Cellino is picking the team.
As far as I could tell, Neil made his own choices and was free to get on with the job. People have this image of Cellino interfering all the time, spending his days at Thorp Arch calling the shots, but that’s really not fair. As much as he dictates the transfers and negotiates the deals, all he wants is a coach who sorts the team and produces results, plain and simple.
We certainly need a boss who’s going to do just that. Last month wasn’t great and we were maybe slightly fortunate to come out of it with six points. Given the turmoil with Hockaday and the performances in general, I personally saw that tally as a bit of a bonus.
August could have been far better but to be fair, it could easily have been worse.
In the next eight to 10 games our season will go one way or the other.
It always happens at this time of year. Nothing is ever settled early on but this is normally when you dig in for a shot at the play-offs or a relegation fight.
Our fixture list in August was tough but in no way will September be any simpler. We’re heading into two back-to-back away games against Birmingham and Bournemouth and after that it’s a Yorkshire derby at home to Huddersfield.
Go further down the line and you find matches against Reading, Norwich, Wolves and Cardiff.
They say there are no easy games in the Championship and that’s definitely true this season. It’s vital that other clubs start saying the same about us.
Having come this far without a new head coach, I reckon it makes a lot of sense to give Neil Redfearn the games away at Birmingham and Bournemouth – and maybe even the clash at Huddersfield too.
He’s taken the training for the past fortnight and he’s as well-placed as anyone to look after the matches coming up. In many respects, a run of tough games is a pretty good way of proving your credentials and I wouldn’t put it past Neil making the job his own.
There’s a big difference between coaching junior players and coaching experienced professionals and he’d be the first to admit that. The egos, the temperaments and the pressures are much more intense at senior level. But if you look at the success of the academy and the way the talent keeps coming though, it’s very obvious that Neil knows his football.
He’s also got the experience of previous spells as a caretaker and remembering how they went, I’m sure he’ll have learned lessons and picked up experience along the way. That’s not to say he’s right for the job or that he wants it but I’ll be interested to find out.