Leeds United: Darko’s defence-minded policy was instrumental in his downfall – Lorimer

Darko Milanic.
Darko Milanic.
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Darko Milanic was and will remain a bit of a mystery to me.

To go by his track record, I don’t think anyone can say that he had no business at Leeds United.

He’d done well at Maribor and he’d been in charge of Sturm Graz so it was fair to assume that he might cope okay here.

But looking back now the one thing I remember reading about him was that his tactics and his formations were a bit cautious.

People who’d watched him in Slovenia and Austria said he was quite a negative coach and having watched his six games in charge, I can’t disagree.

Maybe over time he would have found his feet and hit the right notes but when you think about it, a cautious boss was never going to satisfy our supporters – or, to be fair, our owner.

The fans want to see attacking football and I know from speaking to him that Massimo Cellino does too. With Milanic, it wasn’t working out that way.

The games which rang alarm bells with me were the defeats to Rotherham and Wolves. In both of those matches we were 1-0 up and cruising to an extent. But in both of those matches, the teams sat back in the second half and let the opposition come onto them. I’ve no idea why.

I’ve never been a believer in holding out for 1-0 victories – not as a player and not now – because it’s basically a flawed strategy. You can only defend for so long and if you let a side like Wolves have possession for 45 minutes, they’re going to wear you down. They’re going to score.

Now that he’s been sacked, I bet Milanic wishes that he’d gone for the jugular in those games and maybe at Norwich too.

It’s easy to say in hindsight but really, what’s the worst that could have happened? He had Rotherham and Wolves where he wanted them and a second goal would have killed them off. Instead, we dropped deep and paid the price.

To sack Milanic after 32 days is a bold move. Some people will say Massimo has been unfair to him or made a big mistake by appointing him in the first place but I do think Milanic had credentials. I also reckon it takes a bit of bravery to hold your hands up so soon.

No football club owner wants to admit that he got it wrong and Massimo has done that twice with head coaches this season. Like the rest of us he’ll realise that he has to get it right this time but it’s surely better to call a halt to a situation you’re not happy with than to sit quietly and let it fester.

As I said, our fans want to see aggressive, attacking football. They don’t want a side who go a goal up and then sit on it. Massimo’s no different. He loves his football and he likes the game to be played the right way. If what we saw of Milanic was a fair reflection of him, the next few weeks and months could have been pretty grim and unhappy. At least with Neil Redfearn taking over we’ve got a fresh and positive start.

Neil’s well worth a go as head coach. There was a strong argument for giving him the job back when it first went to Milanic. He’d done well as caretaker, not only in terms of results but also in terms of the way we were playing.

The players looked confident under him and they had a licence to get stuck into the opposition. We’d have been no worse off now if he taken the full-time position there and then.

He’s not going to win every game, though, and Cardiff away on Saturday is a difficult start. We’d all like the season to turn the corner and take us forward but we’re bound to have more tough times ahead. All I hope is that Neil is someone we can all get behind. He seems very popular so perhaps he will benefit from a bit of extra leeway.

It’s been said many times that there’s no patience at Leeds anymore. The fans have none – understandably so after the last few years – and our owner has the same sort of mindset.

He clearly gets frustrated when things go wrong, and no wonder when you’ve invested the amount of money he’s put into Leeds.

But we’re going round in circles a bit and something has to give. It’s surely in the interests of everyone concerned for Neil to be given a fair crack of the whip.

Leeds head coach Paul Heckingbottom

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