Leeds United: McDermott won’t be holding a grudge following his exit

Brian McDermott hands over 50 euros to the fans for a drink during pre-season. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Brian McDermott hands over 50 euros to the fans for a drink during pre-season. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
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Axed leeds united manager Brian McDermott reveals he was saddened to lose ‘the best job you could ever look for’. Phil Hay reports.

Departing manager Brian McDermott said he felt “sadness, not relief” after leaving Leeds United, admitting he had lost “the best job you could ever look for.”

The 53-year-old spoke warmly of United’s supporters and said he held no grudges against club owner Massimo Cellino, despite the circumstances leading to his departure from Elland Road.

McDermott and Leeds agreed to part company on Friday night, severing his three-year contract after just 14 months in charge.

The ex-Reading boss had effectively worked under Cellino since January, operating during the Italian’s protracted takeover and then seeing out the 2013-14 season after Cellino finally acquired control of Leeds United in early April.

McDermott’s exit was widely expected, however, after Cellino tried and failed to sack him at the end of January.

And then Cellino refused to publicly back McDermott following the completion of his 75 per cent buy-out of Gulf Finance House.

The two men had no verbal contact last month, communicating only through a series of letters, and a severance deal was reached towards the end of last week, 72 hours before a scheduled meeting between Cellino and United’s players and coaching staff today.

McDermott, who was appointed as United’s manager in place of Neil Warnock in April 2013, saw the club finish 15th in the Championship last season, his only full term in charge.

His short tenure was dominated by continuous off-field problems and concerted attempts by GFH to sell a majority stake in Leeds.

McDermott was dismissed by Cellino on January 31 after Cellino negotiated a deal to buy a 75 per cent shareholding from GFH.

But Leeds reinstated McDermott 48 hours later.

Members of their board ruled that the Italian lacked the authority to change manager while his takeover remained incomplete.

But speaking to the YEP, McDermott said: “I don’t feel relief, honestly I don’t.

“It’s sadness for me, not relief, because as manager of Leeds United it’s the only show in town.

“You wouldn’t trade that for anything.

“It’s probably the best job you could look for and it’s been a privilege for me to have it – a massive privilege.

“Forget what’s happened and everything that’s gone on. I’ve been lucky to be involved there.

“I loved the job and I really thought I’d get it right next season.

“I’d had a year to look at the club, to get used to the club, and I thought we’d win promotion next season.

“But I hope the club do that anyway and I hope he (Cellino) achieves what he wants to achieve.

“I said many times that Leeds United isn’t about individuals and it certainly isn’t about me. It’s been great to be part of it.”

Cellino and McDermott did not speak in person on Friday.

But the new Leeds United owner paid tribute to him, saying: “Brian is a great manager and a great guy.

“He has been unfortunate to work in such difficult circumstances.

“I did not fully understand the mess he had to work in and the broken promises he had to deal with until I got involved trying to turn Leeds around.

“He has been a gentleman to deal with in our discussions and has been very understanding of my wish to implement a new structure.

“His main concern and priority at all times has been the welfare and protection of Leeds United.

“His honest efforts to guide us to the safety of mid-table when faced with many difficulties is appreciated by us all.

“He will always be a friend of Leeds United.”

The remainder of McDermott’s backroom team remain in place with decisions yet to be taken about the future of McDermott’s assistant manager Nigel Gibbs and the club’s first-team coach Neil Redfearn.

McDermott himself has been heavily linked with the vacancy at West Bromwich Albion – formerly under the stewardship of Spaniard Pepe Mel – and could also be a candidate for the job at Brighton.

Brighton are without a boss after accepting the resignation of coach Oscar Garcia following their recent defeat in the Championship play-offs.

McDermott said: “I’ve been in football for 35 years and it’s what I know.

“The supporters at Leeds are real football people and I owe them a lot of thanks for their support.

“Even in the difficult times for them – and we definitely had some of those – they were always with us and always behind us.

“It’s easy to underestimate how important that is but I can’t speak highly enough of them.

“They’re amazing.”

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