Brian McDermott talks to phil hay about the recent spate of managerial changes which have taken place in the Championship.
Brian McDermott is about to commit himself to buying a flat in Yorkshire. In the current climate, colleagues of his might see him as brave. Football League managers are falling like dead leaves – three in the Championship sacked over the weekend in the space of 48 hours.
Barnsley’s loss of patience with David Flitcroft and Dave Jones’ exit from Sheffield Wednesday were the actions of troubled clubs but the parting of ways between Owen Coyle and Wigan Athletic on Monday reminded everyone in a similar job that football waits for few men.
McDermott is a possible exception to the rule, a Championship coach whose employers are not burdening him with excessive demands. Promotion this season is not essential, according to the board at Leeds, and an improvement on 13th position last year will keep him in credit. In the meantime, United’s boss has been able to pay some attention to upgrading the club’s training ground and their non-existent scouting network.
Wigan are not exactly on their knees and they remain involved in the Europa League, the legacy of their historic FA Cup win. Coyle had them 14th in the table with a game in hand after a 3-1 loss to Derby County on Sunday. But they come to Elland Road this evening managerless and temporarily rudderless, despite McDermott’s belief that the squad at Wigan is too strong to fail spectacularly this season.
This is the fourth time in four months that Leeds have played a side under new management, albeit a caretaker team of first-team coach Graham Barrow and Sandy Stewart, Coyle’s long-time assistant at various clubs.
McDermott watched the whole of their game against Derby, a defeat to a manager in Steve McClaren who Wigan overlooked in favour of Coyle when they plumped for a replacement for Everton-bound Roberto Martinez in June.
“Owen Coyle’s a good manager,” McDermott said. “Steve McClaren’s a good manager too. Who’s to say who’s better or anything like that?
“Derby had three shots early on and scored three goals. Wigan hit the bar, hit the post and had numerous chances. It was one of those games.
“I’ve watched the game and what relevance of that will be, who knows? But you look at their team and on paper they’ve got some big names, a lot of Premier League experience. Over time they’ll be challenging, I’m convinced about that.
“They’ve got a new guy looking after them, Graham Barrow, and then they’ll get a new manager. That’s four occasions now that we’ve faced a team with a new manager, including Brighton at the start of the season. That’s quite interesting in itself.
“I don’t know whether the style will change from how they played on Sunday but football players are quite resilient characters. They’re there to play football and that’s all they’ll be thinking about. Generally they get on with what they’ve got to do.”
Coyle was appointed by Wigan on a one-year rolling contract, a less substantial commitment than the three-year deal given to McDermott by Leeds in April.
McDermott succeeded Neil Warnock whose brief at Elland Road was to win promotion to the Premier League and do so at the first attempt. Leeds were more concerned about relegation by the time he was sacked and McDermott’s insistence upon taking the job was that he would not chase short-term goals at United, or not at the expense of the bigger picture he planned to paint.
“You can’t change anything if you don’t get time,” McDermott said, “and the only way you get time or buy yourself time is by winning games.
“Nothing changes. You have to get results. And if you get results then you get the time to do what you want to do off the pitch – establish a scouting policy, sort out the training ground, the stuff we’re trying to implement here.
“They talk about stability at Arsenal and at Manchester United with (Sir Alex) Ferguson. They probably got that stability because they were winning – and winning over a period of time.
“But a lot of clubs go for quick fixes. Everything in 2013 needs to be instant and that’s the issue. I personally believe that at Leeds United there’ve been lots of quick fixes. The number of managers they’ve had suggests that was the case. It certainly was the case with the previous regime. Neil (Warnock) even said that in his one year, they had to get promotion.
“I can’t look at the job like that and I won’t look at it like that. The most important thing is building the club.”
His comments come at a time when shares in United are about to change hands again. In the next month, a majority stake will be sold by owner GFH Capital to a consortium fronted by David Haigh, United’s managing director. It promises to be the second buy-out of Leeds in a year and might influence McDermott’s spending power in January.
McDermott is yet to speak to United’s board in detail about the proposed takeover or how it will benefit him, saying: “Once it’s tied down and done and dusted, we’ll have a conversation.
“The only thing that matters to me if there is a takeover is that it’s done in the best interests of the club – whatever’s best for this club. The people that are coming on board, I’m sure they’ll be thinking exactly the same.
“If there were finances available in January then of course we’d look at it and try and do something. But January’s a notoriously difficult window.
“The summer’s a much better window because more players are available. A lot of clubs won’t be looking to lose any players in January. And why would they?”
Former Leeds United striker David Healy has retired from professional football.
Healy, Northern Ireland’s all-time record goalscorer with 36 and most-capped outfield player, with 95, has been without a club since leaving Bury at the end of last season.
The 36-year-old frontman joined United from Preston for £650,000 in 2004 and went on to play 111 games for the Whites scoring 29 goals.
He played in the 2006 play-off final defeat against Watford but left after the club’s relegation to League 1, joining Fulham for £1.5 million.