Neil Redfearn insisted today that he would resume work at Leeds United’s academy without complaint if the club chose not to name him as their next manager.
Redfearn denied that his position at Thorp Arch might be complicated or threatened by a spell as United’s caretaker boss and said he was ready to revert back to the job of reserve and under-18s coach should a new boss arrive before the end of the season.
Leeds have given Redfearn four Championship matches to stake a claim for the manager’s job, and he made a positive start to his temporary reign with a 3-0 win at Bristol City last weekend.
He will coach United’s first team through a further three fixtures in what chairman Ken Bates said was a chance to “prove he’s the man for the job” but Leeds have received numerous applications, with former Chelsea defender Albert Ferrer the latest candidate reported to have put his name forward.
Redfearn is a popular figure at Elland Road, however, and has been credited with the improved productivity of United’s academy since Leeds moved to reorganise their youth-team set-up towards the end of 2010.
Asked if an external appointment to the manager’s job at Leeds could cast doubt over his future, Redfearn said: “The thing that’s been said to me is that if it isn’t me I’ll be back doing my under-18s and reserve-team job. I haven’t got a problem with that.
“It’s a fantastic club and a great place to work and there are a lot of good people here. They’re all very genuine and they all want this club to do well.”
Redfearn has managed United’s under-18s since 2009 and he took on the task of coaching their reserves 18 months later after Leeds sacked former academy manager Neil Thompson. The under-18 squad are fourth in their Premier Academy League this season after 17 games.
With Redfearn occupied by the management of the club’s senior team, control of their under-18s has passed to former Leeds United Ladies boss Rick Passmoor.
Redfearn said: “Rick’s taking the under-18s and working closely with Chris Sulley, the academy manager.
“It’s important that the young lads progressing because they’re having a great season.
“We were second in the table not that long ago and we’ve got games left. Three or four of the lads are starting to come through and that’s vital for the club because we don’t want to lose them as assets.
“Your young players are the future and if you look at the senior team that’s taking to the field just now, it’s a young side. They can only get better.”
The club’s revamp of their academy in 2010 came with the under-18s stranded at the bottom of their league and concern growing about the flow of players from the youth team into the first-team squad.
Since then, senior contracts have been handed to Charlie Taylor, Alex Cairns and twins Lewis and Nathan Turner, and Redfearn expects another group of youngsters to follow in the near future. We’ve worked hard this season and the youngsters have been brilliant, absolutely outstanding,” he said.
“We’ve gone from looking at the group and thinking we might be struggling to get any of them through to looking at the group and thinking we’ve got three or four definites.
“I haven’t left them. I’ve been in contact and they’re part of this club. I genuinely believe that your young players are your future. If you can keep them and develop them then the club has to be better off.”