Neil Redfearn last night promised to rise to the demands of coaching Leeds United and denied that he was risking his future at the club, saying: “This shouldn’t be a gamble.”
The 49-year-old hopes to sign a deal confirming his appointment as head coach later today after resolving contractual issues with owner Massimo Cellino.
Redfearn is in line to become United’s third permanent boss this season, following Darko Milanic and David Hockaday in the job, and he will take up a 12-month rolling contract – an agreement which replaces his existing deal as academy boss.
His first-team reign, which comes after three stints as caretaker, begins in earnest away to Cardiff City tomorrow with Leeds 18th in the Championship table.
Hockaday and Milanic survived for just six competitive games under Cellino and Redfearn is giving up a secure position with the academy at Thorp Arch to take on the most high-profile position of his coaching career.
Asked about the short lifespan of first-team bosses at Elland Road, Redfearn said: “It seems to be that way but you can spend your whole life worrying about things.
“I think you’ve got to get on with it, be positive and make things happen. If you back your ability then it shouldn’t be a gamble.
“With the best will in the world, you can set everything up right and fail. But you can also set everything up right and succeed. You’ve got to be brave enough to go and do it and never be frightened of a challenge. This is a challenge.
“We’ve very close and as it stands, (the contract) looks right. If we can get it done before the weekend then great.”
Redfearn and Cellino moved to the verge of a deal yesterday morning after initially disagreeing about an increase in Redfearn’s salary.
The former Barnsley striker, whose work in the academy recently attracted interest from York City and Bolton Wanderers while the clubs’ managerial jobs were recently, claimed money was “never a major stumbling block” but admitted he asked for a contract which meant he was
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“here for the long term.”
He and Cellino have agreed that Redfearn will resume his academy duties if his stint as head coach ends in failure.
Cellino avoided an opportunity to appoint him ahead of Milanic last month after voicing concerns about the implications of removing Redfearn from a successful youth development scheme.
“I’ve been here for six years and I’ve developed this academy,” Redfearn said. It’s starting to come to the boil.
“That was influential regardless of money. Was I still in the bigger picture? The answer I got was ‘yes’ and that’s all I needed to know.
“The bigger picture is that whatever happens here needs to be for the good of Leeds United. If I’m successful and this job takes me on then great. If it doesn’t quite work then my role will be back in the academy.
“It’s up to me to earn the right. I’m not any different to anyone else who’s in charge of a first team. I’ve got to win matches and that’s how it should be.
“We’ve got an owner and I like him, I have to say that. I like his views and I like the way he thinks about football. He knows I’m a strong person but we know we can work together. It should help the club galvanise quicker.”
Redfearn, who again revealed that the academy set-up was likely to be “restructured from within”, insisted that it would be realistic for him to resume his youth-team work even if his stint as head coach went wrong.
“I’ve seen a lot of things in my career,” he said. “I’ve seen things that were great and things that were disappointing.
“I’ve always had a level head and I’m realistic enough to know that things happen in football. If you love the game like I do - I could take the Under-11s and enjoy myself - it wouldn’t be the end of the world. But I want to make a real fist of this.”