Former Lleeds United full-back Danny Mills leaps to the defence of Whites boss Brian mcDermott whose position has been undermined this week.
I’m like a lot of ex-footballers who reached the conclusion that a career as a player was as far as I wanted my life in the game to go.
I keep well in touch with football through my media work but professional coaching or management? No thanks. If anyone wonders why I feel like that, just look at what’s been happening to Brian McDermott at Leeds United this week.
I like McDermott and I get the impression that the players and a lot of the supporters like him too. The majority are probably quite happy to give him a decent amount of time to make a real go of managing the club.
So to see the interference he’s had put up with there is astonishing and very concerning. For someone who doesn’t even own the club yet to suggest that one of his men sits on the Leeds bench for Tuesday’s draw against Ipswich is disrespectful to an extent that I can’t quite believe.
If Massimo Cellino buys Leeds United, he can sack or employ whoever he likes. That’s the way football works and that’s the cost of a change of ownership. You might fool yourself into thinking that public opinion calls the shots or influences the way a man like Cellino thinks but really, he’ll do what he likes.
To that end, if he comes in and sacks McDermott straight away then it’s his decision and he’s entitled to make it. I wouldn’t understand the decision or support it and I doubt whether many fans would either but this is how it goes for managers. And this is why I never once contemplated getting into that line of work.
Management pays very well at the top level and someone who lands a big contract a couple of times in their managerial career will have enough money to retire completely at a fairly early age. But I don’t reckon many coaches are driven by money. Some will be, the same as any other business, but most managers do the job because they love the work and they love the intensity. That why people like Sir Alex Ferguson go on past 70. It’s what they do and what they know.
McDermott’s not from this part of England. He lived down south for years and he’ll have been well settled there. The Leeds job is a great opportunity, don’t get me wrong, but he’s up-rooted, moved north and now finds himself under threat from a guy he probably knew nothing about two weeks ago. It’s like being in the military – you’re always waiting for that tap on the shoulder telling you to move on.
For me, McDermott was absolutely right to fight against Cellino’s attempt to place Gianluca Festa on the bench on Tuesday night. Anyone who knows football will understand how wrong that is. And if you don’t have a problem with what Cellino was trying to do, in my opinion you’re absolutely insane.
The players will be well aware of what’s being going on and I don’t imagine they’ll be happy. They seem to be behind Brian and you don’t take kindly to seeing a manager you respect treated in the way he’s been treated. That’s the main problem here – so many noses have been put out of joint by someone whose own intentions aren’t exactly clear.
The problem now is that Leeds are in real danger of losing a good manager, someone who I really think will do well over time. And make no mistake, he needs time.
I was speaking to a few businessmen this week, all of whom are working on turning a retailer around. They went in a while back and it took them three months to work out which staff they want to keep and which they want to go. It’s going to take another six months before they’re in a position where they feel like the company has actually turned around.
People never want to hear this but football is the same. Making a massive impression in a couple of months is almost impossible. Making a massive impression in less than a year is a challenge. There’s a train of thought that says Roberto Martinez has gone into Everton and taken them to the next level but Everton were good to begin with. And the defence he’s relying on was mostly put together by David Moyes.
For McDermott, the job must be so tough at the minute. He’s still answerable for results but the circumstances he’s working in make results harder to come by. You try to keep the players calm and keep them away from the chaos but they read papers and the Internet like anyone else. I’d like a penny for the thoughts of Ross McCormack if McDermott goes. This is a player who was recently made captain by him and had West Ham crawling over him this time last week. A situation so uncertain might tempt you to jump.
That said, footballers are selfish animals and I say that as a former player myself. If McDermott was sacked, he’d get texts and phone calls but players move on quickly. They move on because they look out first and foremost for number one and when a manager goes, you’ve always got another to impress. It’s similar with Cellino. For all the concern about him, if he came in and starting signing players who then made a big impact, his stock would rise. That’s how fickle the game is. But none of this changes the fact that undermining of McDermott has been completely unfair and done a disservice to a genuinely good manager. Interference like he’s faced should never be allowed to occur. Whatever you think of him, you can’t be indifferent about what’s gone on. Not unless you really don’t care how your club is run.