Leeds United: Undue focus on off-field matters deflects attention from the pitch – Lorimer

Steve Evans.
Steve Evans.
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I’d love to see a day where Leeds United are free to focus on football and only football.

No matter what happens, so much attention seems to turn to off-field matters and our owner in particular. Last weekend’s goalless draw at Charlton was another example as the game got lost to discussions about what Massimo Cellino was or wasn’t doing at half-time.

The thing about football club owners is that they’re all very different.

Some are fanatical about the sport and want to be in the thick of the action. Some just like to stick their money in, sit back and watch. Some don’t bother going to games at all and leave other people to get on with the work.

Our owner is a big football man. Whatever your opinion of him, there’s no denying that.

He’s interested in the players, he’s interested in the coaches, he’s interested in the performances and ultimately he’s interested in results.

Him going down to the dressing room at half-time in certain matches is really not a big deal in my eyes. I imagine it’s quite a continental habit and Steve Evans doesn’t seem to have any problem with what’s going on. That to me is the bottom line.

If Steve was unhappy then we’d obviously have an issue and I’m fairly sure that he’d have been down to Elland Road the Monday after Queens Park Rangers to speak to the owner about it and give his point of view. Steve strikes me as that sort of guy.

But if he’s satisfied, if he feels like he’s in control of the team and free to do as he pleases, then this doesn’t need to be a massive issue.

I know opinion on Massimo is divided but I do feel he’s forever getting the rough end of the stick. Last week he was cleared of tax charges against him in Italy and it barely got a mention in any of the newspapers.

If the case had gone against him then no doubt it would have been everywhere, headline news and talked about constantly. But it was a plus for him and people only seem interested when he loses. That’s more than a little unfair.

I was at the game against Charlton and I barely noticed that he’d gone down to the tunnel at half-time. From the way Massimo was, I very much doubt – as Steve Evans said – that he was doing anything more than giving everyone a gee-up.

Personally I think it’s a good thing when an owner wants to know what’s going on and wants to be involved. I’m not for one moment saying an owner should be picking the team but it’s pretty clear from what’s been said that Steve’s in control.

To look at the bigger picture, none of this gives me the impression that Massimo is thinking of selling the club any time soon.

If he was about to do so then I don’t think he’d have gone to QPR or Charlton and I don’t think he’d be going down to the dressing room if he didn’t actually care about the results or the performances.

I get the sense that what Steve is saying about transfers is the same as Massimo is thinking – that if we can get to a position where the season is properly alive in January, it would be worth investing in players and having a go.

We all have to be realistic about the situation here. The first half of the season has been pretty poor and if we’re a long way from the play-offs and a good distance from safety, there’s not a lot of sense in throwing huge amounts of money at it.

In those circumstances, I’d prefer that we looked at long-term investments rather than quick fixes or impact players. Good players are good players, obviously, but if mid-table looks nailed on then the club have to take a broader view. And at the same time, it would probably help if certain fringe players moved on.

I’ve been encouraged by some of the play recently, particularly the first half against Hull and the latter stages against Charlton.

My only frustration in both games was that we performed in patches rather than dominating throughout but four points from those games was a good return.

I feel altogether less worried about getting dragged into trouble now but I still think the play-offs are a big, big ask.