Massimo Cellino last night ruled out the possibility of naming Neil Redfearn as Leeds United’s next head coach, saying he would do “too much damage” by removing Redfearn from the club’s academy.
United’s owner will give Redfearn responsibility for tomorrow’s league game at Bournemouth and could leave him in charge for Saturday’s Yorkshire derby with Huddersfield Town but the 49-year-old no longer appears to be in contention to succeed David Hockaday.
Redfearn – Leeds’ academy manager and their caretaker boss for the past two matches – was an outside contender for the head coach’s job following Hockaday’s sacking on August 28 but he came into the frame after approaches by Cellino to Steve Clarke and Oscar Garcia came to nothing.
Redfearn’s first game as caretaker ended in a 1-0 win over Bolton Wanderers and a second-half goal from Alex Mowatt earned Leeds a 1-1 draw at Birmingham City on Saturday.
Cellino said Redfearn was an “outstanding coach, a guy who knows how good teams should play” but voiced concern about the implications of ending Redfearn’s successful reign as academy boss. The Italian confirmed that he was in the process of pursuing another candidate, someone he described as a “foreign coach, an international coach”, but said he would look for United’s new head coach to give Redfearn some involvement in first-team affairs.
The former Barnsley midfielder occupied the dual role of development-squad manager and first-team coach during Brian McDermott’s 13-month reign at Elland Road. He resumed his role at the academy full-time after McDermott’s dismissal in May.
“Neil’s very busy with the academy and I need him in that job,” Cellino said.
“He’s an outstanding coach, a guy who knows how good teams should play, but it would do too much damage to the academy if he stays as (head) coach.
“He’ll be coach at Bournemouth, 100 per cent, and maybe on Saturday as well. But I’ve got ideas about what I’ll do. I’m thinking about a foreign coach, an international coach who I can work with. We need to meet and talk but I think he could be good for us.”
Cellino spent the recent international break in Miami, returning in time to watch the second half of Saturday’s match at St Andrews, and he said the fortnight had given him space to consider his options for replacing Hockaday.
The 58-year-old spoke with Clarke immediately after sacking Hockaday but was not convinced that the former West Bromwich Albion boss wanted the job at Elland Road. He then missed out on Garcia after Watford stepped in to name the Spaniard as their new head coach two weeks ago.
Leeds have received numerous applications for the head coach’s position, including expressions of interest from ex-Norwich City manager Chris Hughton and former Middlesbrough and Celtic boss Tony Mowbray.
“It needs to be the right man,” Cellino said, “but I want Neil (Redfearn) to be involved with the first team in some way. He knows the young players, the players like him and they respect him. I respect him. The academy is his responsibility but I want it to be a team of coaches. He’s shown that he knows what he’s doing but I can’t take him away from the academy completely.”
Leeds are 19th in the Championship after their draw at St Andrews, five points above the bottom three and four points short of the play-off positions.
Cellino, meanwhile, refused to discuss comments made by Football League chief executive Shaun Harvey last week which appeared to threaten his ownership of Leeds.
Harvey cast doubt over Cellino’s position as owner and director of United by saying the governing body would attempt to disqualify him and force him to sell his shares if a conviction for tax evasion imposed on Cellino by an Italian court in March was shown to be dishonest.
“For now it’s best if I don’t reply,” Cellino said.