Ross McCormack backed Neil Redfearn to see Leeds United safely through this season and urged the club to keep faith with their current head coach after the Fulham striker marked his return to Elland Road with a 1-0 win.
The former United captain – back in Leeds for the first time since a £10.75m move to Craven Cottage in July – said his old club were “playing the right way” and “a lot better than last year” despite the slender gap between Redfearn’s squad and the Championship’s relegation places.
McCormack skippered Fulham in the absence of the injured Scott Parker on Saturday and a second-half goal from Hugo Rodallega was enough to settle an evenly-contested match at Elland Road.
Leeds have fallen to 19th in the table, five points above the bottom three, but McCormack spoke highly of Redfearn, a coach who managed him as caretaker on two occasions during the striker’s four years at United.
Redfearn is Leeds’ third head coach of the season and their fourth permanent boss since owner Massimo Cellino bought the club in April but McCormack said: “It’s important to try and stick with Neil. I think people can see that Leeds are playing the right way and playing good football – a lot better football than at times last year, that’s for sure.
“They’re definitely going in the right direction. You can see it with the senior lads like Stevie Warnock who’s getting a new lease of life and really happy.
“You can’t keep chopping and changing managers. You start chopping and changing managers and the players are like ‘here we go again, who’s coming in next, what formation are we going to play, am I going to play?’ This league finds you out pretty quickly.
“I thought Leeds were good. Sometimes in football things don’t happen and they’re going to get games like that. But with the support here they’ll be all right.”
McCormack scored 29 goals for Leeds last season, contributing heavily to a successful fight against relegation under Brian McDermott, but he was subjected to mild jeering by the crowd on Saturday following his acrimonious summer departure.
Leeds secured a huge fee from McCormack’s transfer south but at the time, Cellino accused him of engineering the move and refusing to turn up for the club’s pre-season tour to Italy.
McCormack for his part was critical of what he saw as a shambolic situation at Elland Road, three months on from Cellino’s buy-out, and insisted he has missed United’s tour because Leeds were in the process of finalising his sale to Fulham.
Asked about his reception on Saturday, McCormack said: “It didn’t hurt. I expected it for the way I left. The way I left wasn’t the best.
“It would have been nice to come back and for it be like old times but that was never going to happen. It’s sad because personally I had a good season last season but that’s the way it was going to be. At the end I walked around and applauded the fans and the vast majority were great.
“I happened to be the one who someone came in and paid big money for and let’s be honest, you can’t turn that down. I can’t and the club can’t. That’s football. But even after the way I left, the club still means a lot to me. They gave me a chance when it wasn’t happening for me at Cardiff. It’s a special place and as I said when I left, I’ll always be a fan. Whether as a player you never know but definitely later on in life, I’ll be back.”