ANOTHER May, another head coach search for Leeds United, although the alacrity which Massimo Cellino has displayed this springtime is in marked contrast to 12 months ago.
Uwe Rosler held meetings with the United owner yesterday, with the former Wigan and Brentford manager on the verge of being named as the Italian’s fifth permanent head coach appointment since arriving at Elland Road just over a year ago.
The 46-year-old has been kicking his heels since being sacked by the Latics last November after less than 12 months in charge, when the Lancastrians’ campaign was in danger of unravelling after a run of three victories in 17 matches – which left them third-from-bottom in the Championship table.
The previous season, Rosler, based in Manchester, guided Wigan to the FA Cup semi-finals and Championship play-offs after arriving from Brentford in December 2013, the sort of accomplishments which will have marked Cellino’s card as opposed to his desperate and grim experiences in 2014-15.
It is hoped for his sake that he can rewind the clock to those impressive feats in his early spell at Wigan and previously at Griffin Park to satisfy the demands of Cellino – and perhaps receive a little bit of luck along the way.
For the second successive May, the United grapevine has been awash with gossip about who will be the club’s next head coach while the current incumbent remained in the post, technically speaking at least.
For Neil Redfearn, there were distinct and sad parallels with the situation that a wholly isolated Brian McDermott found himself in 12 months ago.
Then, Cellino questioned the future of McDermott in no uncertain terms in a move which thoroughly destablisized his head coach’s position.
Cellino famously fired a broadside at McDermott’s decision to take a ‘holiday’, when he was in fact by the bedside of his sick mother.
This weekend, unsavoury headlines which again put the club in a poor light emerged with Cellino launching a withering attack on Redfearn, accusing him off turning the club’s fans against him and “acting like a baby” over his contract at Elland Road.
What could be ascertained is that while nothing has been officially revealed about Redfearn’s position, that his days as head coach have been numbered for a fair while.
Redfearn’s dignity has shone through in recent months and his treatment has been at best unfortunate and worst, thoroughly shabby.
Last Thursday, Cellino brazenly spoke about not bowing to fan pressure to keep Redfearn and intimated to a relationship that was beyond repair.
He stated: “I have to find the right coach and not because I want to please the fans for 15 days.
“Not because I don’t want them saying ‘Cellino, it’s time to go’ like they did. I’m used to that.
“Who put Neil Redfearn in that position? It was me. Who wanted Neil to succeed more than anyone else? It was me. It was my choice, I took the risk.
“I took the Under-21 coach and gave him a bigger responsibility with a lot of pressure.
“I’ve thought a lot of things. Is Neil the best coach for the club in the future? He’s not expensive and he’s from here but is he good for next season? Then I ask myself ‘are you sure you aren’t thinking Neil is good because you’re a coward with the fans.
“You don’t want to change it.’ Every day I must ask that same question.
“I will not fire a manager who is good for the club just because he’s got personal problems with me.
“If I have a personal problem with him but he’s good for the club, I don’t do that. Otherwise it’s better that I don’t run the club.
“I have to fight with my emotion. Everything I do must be for the interests of the club.”
Cellino’s sentiments were more starkly delivered in a destructive weekend interview with a national newspapaer when he slammed Redfearn, a lifelong Leeds fan and claimed that the 49-year-old “tried to play the fans against me” in his quest to stay in charge.
He said: “Neil Redfearn does the (Leeds United fans’) salute. He challenged me.
“If you are good, I can accept the challenge. But not if you are a bad coach.
“He has to respect the chairman. He has to respect the club. He’s like a baby.”
Yet regardless of the chaotic off-the-field situation and Cellino adhering to his reputation in his native Italy as a “mangia-allenatori” (manager-eater), the allure of Leeds United, football’s great sleeping giant, is still seemingly irresistible to some.
A host of high-profile names, most notably former Leeds number two Gus Poyet, departing Brentford boss Mark Warburton, ex-target Nigel Adkins and one-time Whites striker Jimmy Floyd-Hasselbaink were linked with Redfearn’s post ahead of Rosler’s rapid emergence onto the scene yesterday.
Poyet was reportedly among those sounded out by Cellino, with the Uruguayan needing no introduction to Whites fans.
The 47-year-old proved an able number two to Dennis Wise and earned particular credit for his role in the us-against-the-world upturn of 2007-08.
Warburton – who replaced Rosler as manager at Brentford – was another who emerged on the radar of Cellino, although given his commendable achievements at Brentford in taking the club to within three games of the top-flight, there was plenty of rival interest elsewhere.
Reports from north of the border earlier this week said that Glasgow giants Rangers have begun preliminary discussions with Warburton about becoming the club’s new first-team boss.
Former Reading boss Nigel Adkins, linked to United following the sacking of Neil Warnock in April 2013, was another tipped with a move to Elland Road, with Cellino making contact with him and his representatives recently.
But it is Rosler who has emerged as preferred choice among the list of candidates to succeed Redfearn.
Eexpect similar sentiments from German to those uttered by the likes of Redfearn, McDermott and – whisper it gently – Darko Milanic and David Hockaday, in their fervent desire to turn around the super-tanker that is Leeds, if as seems very likely, he is unveiled, possibly as early as today.
If anybody is wondering what the German for good luck is, it’s Viel Glück..