Neil Warnock’s comments following Leeds United’s FA Cup exit to Manchester City couldn’t fail to tug on the heartstrings of even the most angered Whites supporter as a dejected figure expressed his sadness at chants from the crowd.
The Leeds United manager said he felt the criticism was undeserved, pointing to the turbulent nature of his time in charge at Elland Road, a spell which has been largely overshadowed by the takeover of GFH Capital.
“I understand their feelings and the noise they make shows what sort of club it is.
“If we go up, the owners know I won’t be here and the further away we get (from promotion) the club will be looking to see what they’re going to do and, if I can, I will help them.
“I’m living away from home for one last year at promotion. I’m sure the club will be sensible and in a couple of years they will be back in the big time.
“It’s their prerogative (if they want to sack me), if they think it will help, I’m not against it. Whatever is best for Leeds United.
“But with what’s gone on over the last 12 months I think I deserve a medal.”
Whether Warnock could or should have done better is largely irrelevant now, the situation is what it is and there’s nothing we can do to change what’s already happened.
The problem with Warnock’s current situation is that if the season is beyond rescue (and it is), then there’s little point in him being here. Leeds United fans aren’t unrealistic, very few would fail to give credit to Warnock for the hurdles he’s had to overcome. Most of the frustration doesn’t stem from a disappointing season of transition, it’s knowing that Warnock is a temporary figure, the ultimate symbol of short-termism, a manager who – by his own admission – is unlikely to be here this time next season.
Respect and appreciation is due for the turbulence Neil Warnock has guided Leeds United through, but with the takeover now complete and our season effectively over, the only question mark currently hanging over Elland Road is Warnock himself. Once the ballast steadying Leeds United’s old and wavering ship, Warnock now represents one of the final remaining relics from that bygone era. Surplus to requirements on our recently arrived GFH vessel.
There’s no room for sentiment in football. While it may seem a little cut-throat to make Warnock walk the proverbial plank, it’s the only way Leeds United can start building towards our long-term future. The remainder of the 2012/13 season should be utilised as a final transitional period, a time to relieve the club of any remaining baggage from the Ken Bates era as we start building towards a bright and sustainable future.
Neil Warnock said he’ll do what’s best for Leeds United, and I genuinely believe he meant that. He recognises that his days are numbered and the club needs a plan which extends beyond the end of May. Whether he deserves a medal or not is something history can decide – managers are seldom appreciated until long after they depart – but the one thing Warnock does deserve is an opportunity for a dignified exit. A rarely seen and respectable changing of the guard, perhaps a final Elland Road game where he can pass the torch on to the next manager giving fans an opportunity to thank Warnock for the hard work he’s done.