Neil Warnock revealed today that his future as Leeds United manager was in the hands of the club’s fans as he geared up for his first game in charge.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s Championship clash at Portsmouth, Warnock said the attitude of United’s supporters over the next two months would have a crucial bearing on whether his reign extends beyond the end of this season.
The former Sheffield United boss has agreed a deal with Leeds until the end of the 2012-13 term but the contract includes a provision for Warnock and the club to go their separate ways in the summer if the relationship fails to move forward as planned.
Warnock stated his intention to have “a full run at it next season” should Leeds fail to secure a play-off position during their remaining 14 Championship matches.
But asked if he saw his role as an 18-month project or a short-term position, Warnock said: “A lot will depend on what happens between now and the end of the season.
“The fans have got to get behind us, and the chairman and everything. I want to be at a club who can get promotion and the chairman knows how I feel.
“I think he’ll support me and I’m pretty convinced that the fans will too.
“We’ve got to get together now and put all our energy into the last 14 games. Everything else will take care of itself.
“The fans have to show that they want me for next season.
“That’s what I want to see. If they don’t then I won’t be here. It’s up to the fans.
“I’m going to give it my best shot and if I feel I can bring the success that Leeds want then I’m prepared to stay and have a go next year.
“If I don’t feel like that then I’ll tell the chairman and I’m sure we’ll part on good company.”
The gap between Leeds and the Championship’s play-off zone grew to five points in midweek and Warnock, while once again insisting he would continue to push for a top-six finish before the end of April, described that target as “very tough”.
The 63-year-old watched from the stands but was heavily involved in last weekend’s 3-2 win over Doncaster Rovers at Elland Road, and he will be on the touchline at Fratton Park tomorrow against a club who have entered administration for the second time.
Portsmouth’s administrators were forced to sack 33 staff earlier this week, and the senior squad at Fratton Park have been asked to accept a wage deferral in an effort to prevent the club from going out of business.
Warnock said: “The last time Portsmouth went into administration they signed two players on £20,000 per week. That isn’t bad, is it? No wonder they’re in trouble.
“Just look at Benjani and some of the others there – (Hayden) Mullins in midfield and (Ricardo) Rocha at the back. They’ve got a hell of a team. What’s happened off the field has been the problem. They’ve been kidded for so long.
“But I feel sorry for (Portsmouth boss) Michael Appleton who I believe will be a top-class manager.
“He’ll be wondering what’s hit him but the experience will be something he can use in his career.
“I am sure some good will come of it.”