While it’s of the utmost importance Leeds United get the right manager for the job now Neil Warnock’s reign of tiresome 1980′s hoofball has come to an end, it won’t be the most important appointment the owners make this summer.
Whether The Whites appoint Brian McDermott or (heaven forbid) Roy Keane, the next Leeds United manager will be the first to work under a new chairman, the long-awaited replacement for Ken Bates.
There’s been little speculation regarding the next Leeds United chairman because many fans consider Salem Patel or David Haigh to be a foregone conclusion, but I’d personally be surprised if that was the case.
Neil Warnock observed that our new owners aren’t “football people”, a comment which sounds somewhat critical, but is actually a fair reflection of their credentials. We’re owned by investment bankers, not the mythical “football people” everyone wants, but few seem able to give examples of.
That’s mostly because football people don’t really exist. Not the kind Leeds United fans want anyway. The type of people with enough money to buy football clubs rarely make that kind of money from football, more often than not, they made their fortune in other sectors before recognising football as a potentially lucrative market and snapping up a club of their very own.
This often creates a situation similar to what Leeds United are in. A football club owned by a group of businessmen, none of which have any experience in running a football club.
But it sounds like a bigger problem than it actually is, for the savvy investor knows the company will only be as strong as the people running it. Investment banks don’t buy technology firms because they understand the inner workings of a Pentium processor, they don’t need to, there are thousands of qualified and experienced people in this world capable of running such a company, all the investment bank has to do is appoint the right one and keep the financial side of things in check.
And it’s the same thing with a football club. Sheikh Mansour knew nothing about running a football club, so he hired Khaldoon Al Mubarak to act as Manchester City chairman, who in turn, hired Txiki Begiristain as Director of Football. The club underwent a complete transformation, qualified people were hired for every position and success soon followed. Sure, the limitless supply of cash helped, but it’s easily wasted when the wrong people are spending it.
My point is, the owners of a football club don’t need to be students of the beautiful game, but they have to recognise their own limitations and hire the right team.
When Ken Bates vacates his position as Leeds United chairman this summer, GFH Capital will have the opportunity to fix so many of the problems which have plagued our club for the last 8 years.
Like Manchester City, the new chairman should have the power to implement a complete overhaul of the club, replacing failed directors such as Shaun Harvey, Gwyn Williams and Peter Lorimer, the last remaining remnants of a failed Ken Bates regime, for these are the people a new manager has to operate under and while ever they remain, the problems of the last 8 years haven’t been completely vanquished.
Leeds United requires clear and decisive leadership from the very top, a chairman who would have recognised and sought to replace Neil Warnock much sooner than we did. I remain very supportive of GFH Capital and their efforts thus far, but mistakes have been made as a result of unrecognisable leadership.
When Neil Warnock thinks he can have a say in who his replacement will be, there’s something fundamentally wrong with the power structure. His job was to get the best out of the team under any circumstances, not to start planning his retirement and influencing decisions well above his pay grade.
The wider media may be concentrating on who replaces Warnock, but for me, the next Leeds United chairman is of far greater importance. His role will be fundamental to every aspect of the football club, including the conditions under which the next Leeds United manager operates. It’s an appointment GFH Capital can’t afford to get wrong.