Leeds United: No need to feel ashamed - Mac

Brian McDermott
Brian McDermott
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Brian McDermott insisted last night that he would exit Leeds United with pride in his performance and his head held high if tomorrow’s game against Derby County was his last as manager.

Brian McDermott insisted last night that he would exit Leeds United with pride in his performance and his head held high if tomorrow’s game against Derby County was his last as manager.

McDermott defended his record at Elland Road but was unable to clarify his future as boss as he and his players prepared to complete their last match of the Championship season.

The 53-year-old will take charge of his 55th competitive fixture this weekend with the threat of the sack continuing to hang over him after another week without any discussions between him and club owner Massimo Cellino.

Cellino could move to end McDermott’s reign this summer, just 12 months into his three-year contract, but the Italian has given United’s boss no clarification about his job and admitted on Saturday that he was still undecided about whether McDermott would continue to manage Leeds next season.

United’s president will be at Elland Road for tomorrow’s clash with Derby having travelled to England earlier this week, and discussions about the coaching staff and the senior squad are increasingly pressing with no fewer than nine players out of contract in July.

McDermott has come under sustained pressure during the second half of a season which promised a push for the play-offs in the lead-up to Christmas but promptly imploded amid a severe loss of form and a shambolic attempt by Gulf Finance House to sell the club.

Cellino finally bought out the Bahraini bank on April 7, almost three months after bidding for a 75 per cent stake in Leeds.

McDermott conceded that results in the the second half of the term had been “poor” but said he was proud of his refusal to abandon his post after Cellino tried and failed to dismiss him while the takeover from GFH was pending at the end of January.

McDermott said: “Things started to go wrong but did I handle that situation? Yes, without a doubt in my opinion.

“It would have been very easy to walk away on the first of February but I was never going to do that and I’m glad and proud that I didn’t. I didn’t even think about it.

“We had a poor run for three months and you accept that. I don’t want to talk about what’s gone on off the pitch because it sounds like excuses, and people think it’s excuses. But since the club’s been stable, we’ve won three out of the last four games.

“People have opinions on everything but I’ve tried to be absolutely honest in everything I’ve done. I’ve tried to tell the truth as I see it and I’ve not ducked anything.”

McDermott said no talks with Cellino were officially planned and admitted he had no way of knowing if he would be manager next season, saying: “I’ve no idea. I’m the same as any of you.

“People will have their own views but I don’t know is the answer. I just want to win tomorrow and finish the season with a really good result.

“Fundamentally, we’ve got a summer ahead where we don’t know what’s going to happen regarding the squad, where we’re going to go with players or what’s going to happen with the club.

“Massimo has his ideas, he’s going to have his philosophies about where he sees things moving forward. It’ll be interesting times and he can do it in whatever order he wants.”

Cellino, who plans to attend United’s end-of-season awards ceremony tomorrow night, made one change to the coaching staff last week, employing former Bradford City striker Benito Carbone to work at United’s academy.

Carbone has been present at Thorp Arch all week, though McDermott defended a youth-team system which has regularly produced first-team players for Leeds.

“We could possibly have up to eight players from the academy in the squad tomorrow,” he said. “That’s nearly 50 per cent of the squad coming from academy players. I think (Carbone’s) remit is to help with the academy and anyone coming in to help out can only be a good thing.”

Two of United’s self-produced squad members, Sam Byram and Alex Mowatt, are likely to miss the game against Derby through injury, and Leeds have sent Jimmy Kebe back to Crystal Palace, ending the winger’s dismal half-season loan at Elland Road.

Derby have already qualified for the play-offs and United are looking to end a head-to-head sequence of 10 straight defeats to County tomorrow.

“My gut feeling is that he (Derby boss Steve McClaren) will make a few changes,” McDermott said. “He’s got a squad with players who are good enough to come in so I think he’ll change personnel to a point. I think they’re the team to beat in the play-offs, I really do.”

Pontus Jansson.

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