Leeds United: Readfearn happy to stay at helm

Neil Redfearn
Neil Redfearn
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Leeds United’s search for a new head coach remained up in the air last night as caretaker Neil Redfearn insisted he was happy to remain in charge for as long as necessary.

Redfearn spent yesterday preparing Leeds for Saturday’s derby against Huddersfield Town and was due to take training again this morning having received no indication about whether an appointment would be made before kick-off.

United’s academy boss has steered the senior squad through the last three matches, picking up seven points and lifting Leeds into 13th position in the Championship, but owner Massimo Cellino is still to decide on a full-time replacement for David Hockaday, three weeks after ending Hockaday’s short reign.

Cellino has shown a strong interest in Sturm Graz boss Darko Milanic and is understood to have held talks with him last Sunday but the Austrian club and their Slovenian coach are playing down suggestions that the 46-year-old is in line to take over at Elland Road.

Redfearn’s reign as caretaker – his third stint in the role – is set to span as many league fixtures as Hockaday’s tenure as permanent head coach but Redfearn said he would stay at the helm until Cellino instructed him to step aside.

Asked if he would be on the touchline tomorrow, Redfearn said: “I haven’t heard anything to the contrary and it was like that before Birmingham (last weekend). As far as I know I’m taking the game.

“From the outset I knew I’d be doing this for a period of time. The conversation at the start was ‘will you look after it?’ and it hasn’t gone beyond that. I’m happy to work for Massimo and to help him out for as long as he needs me to. I’ve got a lot of good feelings towards this club. I want it to succeed and so does the owner.

“It’s not a problem for me, whatever it happens. I’m sure we’ll sit down and chat when he feels the time’s right.”

Leeds were drifting above the Championship’s bottom three when Cellino sacked Hockaday on August 28 but three positive results under Redfearn have moved the club into a mid-table position.

United followed up a 1-0 win over Bolton Wanderers and a 1-1 draw at Birmingham City with a rousing defeat of Bournemouth at Dean Court on Tuesday, their first away victory in a midweek league match since November 2011.

Redfearn, who has worked in United’s academy for almost six years, was informed at the start

of this week that he would not be considered for the permanent head coach’s job but he is still not clear if tomorrow’s derby at Elland Road will be his last match in charge.

“I honestly don’t know,” he said. “I’ll speak to Massimo and he’ll tell me which way we’re going to go.

“I’ve enjoyed this, no two ways about it, but the overriding thing isn’t me. What I think is irrelevant. What matters is what’s right for the club.

“The advantage I’ve got is that I know the young lads here and I’ve seen the players who came in pre-season first-hand, albeit from afar. So I’m in half a position to put things together and do something about it.

“You try and get as much normality as you can because they last thing players need is to feel unsettled. But they’ve coped really well. They’ve lost themselves in training.”

Huddersfield are third from bottom in the Championship and were the first club in the Football League to change manager this season, sacking Mark Robins on the opening weekend and replacing him with Chris Powell.

“With it being a Yorkshire derby, form will go out the window because it’s about the day and getting across the line,” Redfearn said. “These games throw up quirks and you’ve got to be switched on.”

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