Manager Brian McDermott exited Elland Road offering his heartfelt thanks to Leeds United’s supporters after a turbulent time at the helm.
A statement published on the club’s official website late on Friday night confirmed that McDermott had left the club by mutual consent
McDermott’s future at Elland Road had looked increasingly uncertain following Massimo Cellino’s takeover earlier this year.
Over one crazy weekend in early February, even before the Italian had bought the club, McDermott was instructed via a telephone call that he had been sacked, only to be reinstated within 24 hours, during which time his team romped to a 5-1 win over Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield Town at an Elland Road encounter which saw the 31,000 home crowd show vociferous support for their beleagured manager.
But, overall, regardless of the off-the-field problems which have again beset the club, it has been another disappointing campaign, with Cellino clearly intent on stamping his own mark on the organisation since his takeover was eventually ratified by the Football League following a much-publicised appeal.
McDermott, who was due back at the club next week along with his players and staff, said it had been a “great privilege” to work for Leeds but accepted the new owner wanted to implement structural changes to the footballing side of the operation.
“It is clear that Massimo wishes to implement a new structure and feels he will work more successfully for Leeds with a coach rather than a manager,” said McDermott in Friday night’s club statement.
“It has been my great privilege to manage this great club and I have enjoyed the challenge immensely.
“I respect that Massimo must be fully supported in putting together his vision for the club so he can bring us the success we all want.
“Massimo wants to bring a new energy to the club so that we can return to where we belong as a healthy football club.”
McDermott, who guided Leeds to a 15th-place finish in the Championship, said that he was particuarly thankful to the efforts of his players and staff during his time at the club, while reserving a sxpecial mention for the club’s fans who he felt had largely stood by him through some difficult times.
“To the incredible force that is the Leeds United supporters, I offer my heartfelt thanks,” said the former Reading boss, who replaced Neil Warnock as manager in April 2013 on a three-year deal.
“Your support of me and the players was always an inspiration and I urge everyone to get behind the team and the new owner next season to get us back to where we need to be.
“To my players for their efforts I say a big thank-you. To all the staff and especially my great assistant manager Nigel Gibbs and my great friend Patrick Dolan I am especially grateful for their support.”
Cellino, who no doubt has a candidate in mind to replace McDermott, said the outgoing manager had been a “gentleman” to deal with ever since his arrival at the club.
“Brian is a great manager and a great guy. He has been unfortunate to work in such difficult circumstances,” said Cellino in the same club statement.
“I did not fully understand the mess he had to work in, and the broken promises he had to deal with, until I have 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.
“I wish him well for the future where I am sure he will continue to have more success and thank him for his efforts in being a stabilising and unifying figure behind the scenes in very difficult circumstances.
“He will always be a friend of Leeds United.”