Leeds United: Redfearn’s pride at turnaround in form

Alex Mowatt celebrates his winning goal. Pic: Tony Johnson.
Alex Mowatt celebrates his winning goal. Pic: Tony Johnson.
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Neil Redfearn praised the “drastic” turnaround in Leeds United’s season and claimed his ability to handle the head coach’s job should never have been in doubt after the club ground out another win at Wigan Athletic.

The United boss said his squad were “in a pickle” when he took charge in November and called their escape from relegation a “truly fantastic achievement” with 10 games of the Championship season left to play.

Leeds entered 2015 with a point separating them from the divison’s bottom three but the club are on the verge of the top 10 after Alex Mowatt’s second-half goal secured a 1-0 victory over Wigan in front of almost 5,000 away fans on Saturday.

The result was United’s seventh league win since the end of December, a convincing spell of form which has strengthened Redfearn’s claim to a second season as head coach at Elland Road. The 49-year-old’s future is unclear with his current contract set to expire in the summer and Leeds yet to decide if they will take up an option to keep him and assistant boss Steve Thompson in place for the 2015-16 campaign.

Redfearn said: “I’m just pleased we’ve got ourselves out of a pickle.

“It wasn’t good when I first took over. We were a couple of points off the bottom three but we’re in a good position now and that’s down to everybody – the players applying themselves and the supporters sticking with us. Five thousand away from home is unbelievable and it’s nice for it to be good for them.

“You sometimes forget the average age of our side is 23. To come out of adversity like we have done has been a truly fantastic achievement. We had resoluteness about us and a toughness to get across the line (at Wigan) and that’s been a facet of our performances recently.”

Redfearn was promoted to the job of head coach from his previous role as Leeds’ academy boss following the sacking of Darko Milanic.

Slovenian Milanic survived for just six games at Elland Road before losing the faith of owner Massimo Cellino. Milanic’s successor, David Hockaday, was also sacked after six competitive fixtures.

Most of Redfearn’s previous managerial experience was gained at Scarborough and Halifax Town but he said a playing career in which he made more than 1,000 appearances had prepared him for coaching in the Championship.

“This is all helping me as a coach and as a football person,” Redfearn said. “It makes me laugh a little when people say I’m inexperienced. I played 1,000 games and probably played 500 games at this level. I’m a vastly experienced football person at this level.

“To actually get to the point now where you can see it all happening and the corner being turned is a nice feeling. It needed drastic action here.”

Leeds were forced to withstand heavy pressure from Wigan after Mowatt’s 51st-minute winner on Saturday and Redfearn said: “It was a tough game. Give Wigan credit, they were the better side for 25 minutes in the second half. But if anybody was going to win it, it should have been us.”