BRIAN McDermott has revealed that David Haigh and Salem Patel have apologised to him in the wake of the shambolic events ahead of the Huddersfield Town game – which saw him ‘sacked’ and then reinstated following a dramatic club U-turn.
The Leeds United boss was axed on January 31 after receiving a telephone call from Chris Farnell, a lawyer representing prospective new owner Massimo Cellino – only to be reinstated the next day by current owners GFH Capital.
They claimed the Italian had no power to change managers until his takeover was complete in what represented one of the most disgraceful episodes in the club’s history, with Cellino and GFHC receiving a barrage of criticism in its aftermath.
After receiving advice from the League Managers’ Association, McDermott returned to work at Leeds last Monday – after not attending the Huddersfield game – with United managing director and GFHC executive Haigh and Patel, a director of the club and GFHC having said sorry to him following the farcical events.
McDermott, whose side are in action at Brighton this evening, with Cellino in attendance ahead of a meeting with Football League officials tomorrow, said: “I got an apology from David Haigh and Salem Patel for everything that had gone on, which I appreciated.
“Every football club needs clarity. At this moment, we have GFH as the owners still, so there is clarity. There will possibly be a new owner next week, in two weeks or whatever it might be. So then there will be clarity. “
Cellino, who has flown into the UK from Miami, is fully expecting to receive league approval for his 75 per cent takeover of Leeds, with the Italian to speak in person to McDermott this evening in Sussex tonight, just the second time they will have met.
McDermott is hoping for constructive dialogue with Cellino and is keen on getting to know him and working with him.
But for the time being, his main focus is on on-pitch matters at the Amex, mindful that victory will see United jump up to seventh in the Championship table.
He said: “The only thing I am thinking of is the game against Brighton. Everything else is out of my hands. The ownership of the football club will be sorted out in due course, hopefully sooner rather than later.
“It’s pretty straightforward. It’s going to go to the Football League and once it’s gone to them, they will make a decision and we’ll go from there.
“Until we know what the Football League are saying, we don’t know.”
On his thoughts ahead of meeting Cellino, he added: “We’ll just have a conversation. I don’t think there’s any big mysteries about football. We will talk about football and where we see things and then go from there.
“With any owner, you have to build a relationship over a period of time. Owners make decisions on managers and that’s how it is. You respect that.
“But it takes time to build a relationship. Not just with an owner, but with a player, a member of staff, with supporters. I have always believed you need to take time and do things right. That’s what I’ll do and we’ll see what happens.
“Any owner and manager needs to work together. That’s the most important thing. It’s the same at any club; if you are going to go forward and do well together, you need to work together.”
That United have managed to claim two important victories amid considerable uncertainty and adversity behind the scenes is something that McDermott is justifiably proud of and he has paid tribute to his players, staff and United’s fans.
Supporters will again travel down in big numbers to Brighton tonight after packing the away end at Yeovil on Saturday.
While the situation off the field has looked disparate and disunited at times, on the pitch, the togetherness has been strong and the support from fans unstinting and McDermott wants that to continue at the Amex as United seek a third straight league win for just the second time this season.
He said: “I am really proud when you consider we have got wins in our last two games with all the stuff that has gone on. I’ve got to be very, very proud of everybody – the staff, players and the fans. You saw them again on Saturday with fantastic support and I am sure they will travel again to Brighton in numbers.
“There’s been some guts shown on the pitch and definitely some off the pitch by the supporters.”