Leeds United: Milanic’s coaching credentials justify the chance he’s been given – Ritchie

Darko Milanic.

Darko Milanic.

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When it comes to someone like Darko Milanic – a guy I’d never heard of until the end of last week – you can only draw conclusions about him from his history and his record.

It’s pointless me saying ‘yes, he’ll be a success’ or ‘no, he won’t’. Only time will tell. But as far as his credentials go, I think he’s got plenty – or more than enough to justify the opportunity he’s been given at Leeds United.

He did very well at Maribor and no matter what anyone says about Slovenian football, trophies are trophies. To win nine in five years as Maribor’s coach means he dominated that league completely and was more than up to the job.

Sturm Graz was a little tougher for him by the sounds of things but it didn’t look like they were pushing him out of the door when Leeds came calling. He left with no angst and no bitterness, and that gives you some insight into his character and the relationship he had with the people there. He doesn’t sound like trouble or high maintenance.

Even as a player, he was an international who turned out for some decent clubs in Europe so I’d say the guy’s shown a bit of pedigree right the way through his career. Whether that’s enough for him to make a go of things at Elland Road I really can’t say because Leeds are a unique animal.

But I don’t hold with the idea that this is a strange or random appointment.

From Milanic’s point of view, he must have been delighted to get the call.

It’s not often that the biggest English club outside the Premier League come calling. I’m not blowing smoke up anyone’s backside here – I genuinely think that if you were being offered any job in the Championship, you’d want the job at Leeds.

Obviously Massimo Cellino is a unique character, a demanding bloke to work for, and the pressure to be a success is huge but I’ve said it so many times – if you get the club on a roll, great things will happen here. Get it right and you’ll have 40,000 through the gates for every home game.

The crowds at the moment are quite a way below that figure but for good reasons. Over the past five to 10 years, it’s fair to say that people have voted with their feet. I don’t think they’ve given up on the club or walked away from Elland Road completely but I reckon a lot of fans feel like they’ve been short-changed too many times.

I played for the club so I know what the attitude is like around here. Stick the effort in, try your heart out and people will respect you. They won’t necessarily rate you or be delighted with the results you produce but they’ll most certainly give you the time of day. They’re fair.

Fall short of that or start taking liberties and the supporters won’t stand for it.

That doesn’t just go for players or managers. It goes right to the top, to the boardroom and the owners.

The fans have had nothing much to cling to so some of them have drifted away. I can’t say I blame them.

But if things pick up, they’ll be back. That’s guaranteed. There’s a lot of loyalty to Leeds in the city and I wonder if Milanic really knows how big the club could be.

His first game in charge is Brentford away tomorrow and that’s a pretty good introduction to Championship football. Leeds are in very good form after Neil Redfearn’s time as caretaker and it would be a mistake on Milanic’s part if he moves away massively from the team and the tactics used by Redders.

I saw him say that he spoke to Neil straight away on Tuesday morning and that’s reassuring. It would have been very naive not to have picked his brains.

Unless Milanic had someone in the crowd and undercover for the Huddersfield game last weekend, he won’t really know much about the squad. It’s a learning process for him and Redders can help him in a big way.

As for Neil, you have to ask what the future holds. He didn’t get the head coach’s job at Leeds and that’s the way it goes in football.

In fairness, he’s going back to a role in the academy which is more secure and less volatile.

But I don’t think his spell as caretaker will have gone unnoticed and I wouldn’t be surprised if a manager’s job comes up for him somewhere else soon.

Success breeds success. It’s always been the way.

Leeds United's home Elland Road. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

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