I’m no different to anyone else at Leeds United. I want to know who the club’s head coach is going to be next season. But more than that, I know how vital it is that as a football team we actually make something of next season.
We’ve had a few nightmare years and it’s high time we gave people something to hold onto, something that made them think ‘wow!’ This is a major season coming up because there are only so many times a club can make a poor start, float around the bottom end of the table and find their campaign dead and buried after a few months. We can’t stay in this rut forever.
So from that point of view I’d rather we didn’t steam into a decision about the head coach. If the owner feels he needs some time to think and take stock then I’d rather he waited. We simply can’t risk landing another Dave Hockaday or Darko Milanic – someone who isn’t up to the job and is gone before we’ve had any chance to get to know them.
I’m pretty sure that Massimo Cellino knows himself that in the past mistakes have been made. I’m pretty sure that some of the decisions he’s made he regrets making. But on more than one occasion he’s been criticised for acting rashly – doing things that make people say that ‘Leeds are a bloody joke’ – so it seems unfair to have a go at him for putting more thought into the process.
My view on Steve Evans has never changed. To my mind, he’s done a good job. And if Leeds don’t keep him on this period won’t have done him any harm at all. He’ll find work elsewhere, without a doubt, and his performance in the last six or seven months has definitely given the owner a decision to make. In no way is it an easy call to move Steve on.
But when it comes to it, this decision has to be about the overall plan for next season. It has to be about which head coach fits in best with the sort of players we want to sign and the sort of approach we want to take. My own feeling is that it needs to be someone who knows how the Championship works, knows which players work well in it, and has a good grasp of English football as a whole. That’s purely my view.
What Cellino thinks, only he knows. And let’s be clear, we can’t wait around forever. Clubs are starting to release players now and make others available to sign and the best of those will be snapped up pretty quickly.
There was a time when a select few clubs in the Championship could probably rely on players to wait for their call but the division is so competitive these days, with so much money in it, that the market will be very competitive. That said, I stand by my belief that the owner will put his hand in his pocket in the transfer window. I’ve felt from the moment the season ticket offer was announced that he’s planning for a big push.
That’s why it’s got to be right to give serious thought to the identity of the next head coach. Don’t get me wrong, some of the best appointments in theory go wrong quickly. Some obscure appointments work out brilliantly. But more often than not you get a gut feel straight away for how things are going to go. What I want to see is a decision – whether it’s Steve or someone else – which makes sense to all of us. As no doubt you will have done, I read Sol Bamba’s comments at the weekend saying the club was a bit of a mess and that the players need to know now about who the head coach was and when they’ll be back for pre-season training.
To be honest, I don’t really agree. The thing players are most concerned about it where they’re going to be themselves next summer – and considering how much we’ve underachieved this season, I’d expect quite a few to be moving on. Before long the players will be told when they’re coming back.
And as I know from my own career, managerial uncertainty is a big part of the game. You have to learn to deal with it.
If this was the end of June and we didn’t have a head coach in place with a few signings made then Sol would be absolutely right. But I’m prepared to be patient. I’m prepared to be patient about news from Cellino if it means that when it comes I can sit back and think – ‘good decision.’