When Warnock left the Oakwell touchline on Saturday teatime to a chorus of boos from the near 5,000 strong Leeds United faithful, few expected a reaction so dismissive of their anger as that which followed.
His claims that the majority of fans still supported the work he was doing immediately drew comparisons to Ken Bates’ claims that only a “vociferous minority” wanted him out of the club, despite deafening evidence to the contrary.
There are none as deaf as those who won’t hear, so says the old proverb, one which we’ve applied to Ken Bates numerous times over the last few years and one which now seems equally appropriate for Neil Warnock.
Most managers would surely be concerned by a club’s most loyal and dedicated supporters demanding they tender their resignation immediately, but if that didn’t get the alarm bells ringing for Neil Warnock, surely the aftermath of Saturday’s result should have been enough to tip him over the edge?
The Leeds United sites and messageboards were almost unanimous in their verdict that Neil Warnock’s time was up. In one of the best Warnock obituaries/match reviews, Fear & Loathing said ”…under Warnock, the qualities for which [our] players are noted have been stifled, strangled even, by a Neanderthal playing style that ensures that current position of 11th is greatly flattering.”
Meanwhile, a poll conducted here on The Scratching Shed showed 87% of fans felt it was time for Warnock to leave (results mirrored by a similar poll on WACCOE), while a fans heartfelt letter which begged GFH to take action became one of the most shared articles in this sites 5 year history with over 1300 likes and 600 RT’s at the time of writing.
It would be easy to dismiss all this as a knee-jerk reaction to a truly disgraceful display of football, but the performance on Saturday was merely the tipping point. Time and time again this season we’ve seen Leeds United outplayed and outclassed by opposition who, on paper at least, are inferior to Neil Warnock’s side in every conceivable way.
The direct hoofball tactics employed by the Leeds United manager are from a bygone era of English football, one which was commentated on by Kenneth Wolstenholme and shown mostly in black and white.
Warnock insists that the couple of signings he has lined up will make all the difference, but is it sensible for GFH to be providing funds to a man with just 5 months remaining on his contract? A manager who has already signed 16 players (spending more money in 12 months than his more successful predecessor did in all his time with the club), declared himself happy with the squad in pre-season and who said before the transfer window opened that he didn’t think the squad needed anything more than an additional striker?
Every man and his dog can see Lee Peltier has never been a left-back, that we’re desperately in need of wingers and that the majority of the team – the likes of Green, Diouf, Norris, Byram and McCormack – can’t do much with a ball floating 50 ft above their heads. I may not have a dozen or so coaching badges that license me to make these observations, but they’re so damn obvious, I really think someone should be.
It’s Warnock’s failure to recognise these most glaring of problems, coupled with his refusal to accept blame of any sort that has led to fan criticism. When a manager neglects to accept responsibility following the kind of horror show we saw Saturday, instead attempting to deflect blame onto the referee, Luciano Becchio and Aidy White (who wasn’t even on the pitch!) you have to start questioning their ability to lead.
I have no confidence in Warnock whatsoever at this moment in time. He’s a great manager whose success speaks for itself, but it doesn’t feel like his heart is really in it any more. The 5 month contract situation suggests he still has one eye on retirement, which was fine when I genuinely believed he could take us up this season, but I don’t believe he can any more. No amount of quick fixes will change the fact that in 12 months, Warnock has failed to develop a style of play which gets the best out of our players.
Most fans are already counting the minutes before his departure, it’s no longer a case of if he leaves, it’s when. However, I’m not sure that’s the foregone conclusion most fans were hoping for. Since Salem Patel’s “VERY VERY disappointed” tweet on Saturday, the new Leeds United owners have been conspicuous only by their total silence.
I appreciate the sensitive nature of the situation, I’ve had to determine people’s future myself and it’s unprofessional to discuss such matters publicly until a decision has been made and all parties informed. The difference is, I don’t work in a public arena, I haven’t promised communication to a highly cynical fanbase and the decision I make won’t effect Leeds United’s attendances for the rest of this season. GFH bought a football club – this is life as football club owners.
For all I know GFH may have total faith in Neil Warnock and still believe he’s the right man for the job. I disagree, but that’s football. The problem we have at the moment is they’ve failed to react to fans concerns either way, and that’s not what was promised when they signed on as Leeds United owners.
I don’t expect the new owners to bow to our every demand, but I do expect the communication they promised us.
Leeds United needs strong and decisive leadership. We can’t be left in the same situation as last January when a season was effectively ruined by speculation and indecision. Whether that means GFH come out and publicly declare support for the under-fire Warnock, or they decide to go in a different direction, this is a decision that needs to be made quickly and one which the fans should be informed of immediately.