Neil Redfearn has urged Leeds United’s supporters to keep faith with Massimo Cellino, saying the Italian’s strategy at Elland Road will take another year to come good.
Redfearn spoke out in defence of United’s owner as the club faced up to the prospect of a tense relegation battle in the second half of the Championship season.
Leeds are on the cusp of the league’s bottom three after taking 24 points from as many matches and Cellino is under pressure to salvage the campaign by strengthening Redfearn’s squad in the January transfer window.
The 58-year-old appears ready to recruit new players this month, despite the possibility that the Football League will succeed in banning him as owner of United in the coming weeks.
Cellino was disqualified by the League at the start of last month but he appealed against the ban – imposed due to his conviction for tax evasion in Italy – and will have his challenge heard on January 15.
Despite that uncertain situation, United are attempting to loan Slovenian midfielder Rene Krhin from Inter Milan and have also lined up a deal to take striker Leonardo Pavoletti from Sassuolo on a temporary basis until the end of the season.
The club also intend to sign a new centre-back after suffering from defensive frailties throughout the first half of the season. Cellino, who spent 22 years in charge of Serie A side Cagliari before buying Leeds, is almost 11 months on from the date when he first agreed his takeover of United from previous owner Gulf Finance House.
Redfearn said: “The owner’s put a lot of money in and he’s got a plan and a vision. It’s in its infancy and at this moment it’s tough. I’m not speaking for them all but I think the vast majority (of the supporters) realise we’ve got a new owner and he’s got a vision for the club. They realise we’ve got a young side who are going through change.
“In the conversations I’ve had with Massimo, he said it was going to take two years for him to put it all together here. He’s been in this situation before at Cagliari. He’s been in a situation where it was tough. Like I said, it’s in its infancy at the moment so it’s going to take time.”
Cellino has been in Miami for the past 10 days but is due to return to England towards the end of next week.
Redfearn became United’s third first-team boss of the season and their fourth of 2014 when he was appointed as head coach in November but reports on Wednesday claimed Cellino was considering the 49-year-old’s position after a 2-0 defeat to Derby County 24 hours earlier.
Sources at Elland Road deny that Redfearn is under any immediate threat, claiming Cellino is more intent on changing Leeds’ squad than changing head coach.
Despite taking eight points from his 10 matches in permanent charge, Redfearn insisted he was better suited to the job now than he would have during either of his spells as caretaker in 2012 and 2013.
“It’s easier for me this time,” Redfearn said. “I’ve found it far more within my grasp.
“Perhaps what comes with age is perspective. I understand that we’ve got a young side and I understand that they’re going to make mistakes.
“But as the person at the front of it, I have to be there for them and be positive for them when things are not so good.”
Leeds will break from their Championship season for an FA Cup third-round tie at Premier League side Sunderland on Sunday.
“It’s a good game to look forward to us,” said Redfearn. “We’ve got to be positive.”