I was live on the radio on Friday night when I heard that Brian McDermott had been sacked. I wasn’t surprised in the slightest.
We all knew that an Italian takeover at Leeds United spelled the end for him and I assumed that he was the first victim of the deal.
To say I was staggered to read the full story – of how Massimo Cellino had no authority but was somehow allowed to sack McDermott – doesn’t go close. I texted Brian to say what an absolute disgrace the situation was and I’m surprised that his phone didn’t blow up over the weekend. He’s got a hell of a lot of friends in the game.
There’s been a huge amount written in the press about this shambles, loads on the radio and loads on Twitter but I’m still not convinced that we know the exact chain of events on Friday and Saturday.
GFH, the club’s owner, is saying that McDermott was dismissed by a lawyer working for Cellino and no-one seems to be disputing that. But what I’d like to be told is the role played by GFH in the carnage that began on Friday night. Someone senior from the bank owes it to the club, the manager and the supporters to explain how on earth someone who didn’t own the club was sacking senior staff. GFH is supposed to be in charge after all.
Who there had even the slightest inkling that McDermott’s sacking was about to happen? Who at GFH can tell us what happened to make Cellino believe that he was the man and everyone answered to him? And is it true, as Cellino alleges, that GFH wanted rid of McDermott anyway but didn’t have the guts to say so? We’ve had far too little communication since the events of last weekend and the credibility of many, many people is in question.
For his part, McDermott’s credibility is fully intact. His behaviour during all of this has been unbelievable and to be honest, the people responsible for putting him through the mill don’t deserve a manager as dignified and humble as him.
On Friday night he was nailed on for a full pay-out, and with two and a half years left on his contract he stood to earn a lot of money. Leeds could not have defended his sacking or justified it, not when it turned out that he was shown the door by someone without any real power.
He’ll have had moments over the weekend where he’ll have felt that going back wasn’t an option. I’m sure his mood swung one way and the other right through Saturday and Sunday. But I think we’ve seen how much he values his job. We’ve seen how resilient a character he is. This might all end up in him being sacked anyway but good on him for showing that he’ll go down fighting. The whole episode has been disgraceful.
As stupid as anything was the attempt to dismiss him a few hours before the end of the transfer window. On reflection, the club are very, very lucky that they didn’t lose Ross McCormack too. Friday was the sort of situation where a player like him looks at the shambles around him and thinks ‘I’m not having this.’ A manager you respect has gone, the club are signing no-one, the place is in disarray and you’ve got offers coming in from other clubs. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
The doomsday scenario was that Leeds woke up on Saturday morning to find their boss sacked and their captain and top scorer gone. I’m telling you now, McDermott would have been far less inclined to come back had one of his prize assets departed like that. The fact that the team go to Yeovil tomorrow with a 5-1 win behind them and calm restored is down to nothing other than very good fortune and some real guts from the players and the staff. It’s in no way down to the club as a whole.
And sadly, the situation at Elland Road is still a complete mess. There’s no clarity or direction from anywhere and no certainty about what the end game is. You sometimes wonder if even those at the top have a clue or whether they’re making it up as they go along.
The problem with these situations is that they get badly out of hand very quickly. I was at Leeds during the first financial crisis and it was a bit like a Jenga tower. Piece by piece, the whole club was picked apart until there was nothing left for it to do but collapse. I worry about that happening again given the obvious lack of control.
These might be some of the most important days in the club’s history. The horrible days usually are. Leeds could go one way or the other at the moment and I don’t have much doubt that they are in jeopardy. To allow them to get to this stage is frankly indefensible.