Following the loss of Nigel Adkins to Reading despite the best efforts of voluntary chief scout Neil Warnock, it was inevitable that modern-day Leeds United would merely have to settle for second best.
Only last week, we were told that the numbers of potential candidates were in double figures although quite why the reigning champion of Europe, as well as a manager who was only courted by a Premier League side a matter of weeks ago, would be tempted by a mid-table Championship club is anyone’s guess.
Even Mark Hughes, still recovering from the drying of his signature on Jose Bosingwa’s three-year Queens Park Rangers contract, was considered out of reach. Whilst his monstrous self-esteem only carries slight dents after his adventure on the Loftus Road Ghost Train, his levels of enticement are severely drained.
Yet he is still above Leeds United.
Despite the reflections of what could have been, there is much to admire about Brian McDermott; the last manager to escape this division with a league trophy in his hands; the current LMA Championship Manager of the Year; a recent winner of the Premier League Manager of the Month award.
Watching his Reading side intruding the elite league of English football this season, you could not help but sense an enormous feeling of unity and cohesion between players and manager. It is clearly an aspect of management that McDermott prides himself upon and is likely to ensure a repeat of his predecessor’s public, distasteful denouncing of Tom Lees at Portman Road never occurs during his tenure.
“Players need to feel special, valued and respected,” he told FourFourTwo magazine last November. “I don’t believe in having a blame culture… I’ve tried to create a calm and open atmosphere… you have to create an environment where they’re comfortable and relaxed.”
It is a principle that, if results work in his favour, will no doubt emerge as the outstanding factor of McDermott’s repertoire.
However, observing the former Reading manager on Sky Sports’ Goals on Sunday a fortnight ago, for all his (albeit predictable) tributes to Leeds United’s ‘amazing history’ and support, you failed to feel inspired by the potential appointment of a one-club man.
At the wrong club.
Is his deep emotional attachment with Berkshire too intense to allow him to succeed elsewhere?
It is a query that will only be answered by the first club to appoint the meek McDermott following his Reading departure, which consequently begs the question: Are Leeds United currently in a position to offer a 52-year-old an extended period of soul searching?
Whilst McDermott is by no means a misguided choice of manager, there is evidence to suggest that the ‘not football people’ of GFH and the fellow members of David Haigh and Salem Patel’s millionaire free-for-all have perhaps been a tad hasty in their signing of a replacement for Neil Warnock.
After all, the club statement in the immediate aftermath of Warnock’s exit outlined the desire for a ‘flexible approach, so as to ensure that we make the right appointment’ that ‘may will be (made) after the end of the season dependent on the availability of the club’s preferred choice to become the next manager’ with ‘no fixed timescale’ on proceedings.
The choice of language hinted towards the heralding of a wrangling summer saga of top-flight primadonna proportions – not the sprint we appear to have witnessed.
It would not be unfair, then, to suggest that Haigh, Patel and Co. may have been harried into a decision by the club’s threat, illusionary or otherwise, of relegation. If Leeds had managed to secure a point or – in their wildest dreams – stolen three at Charlton Athletic last weekend, would GFH have been on the verge of appointing McDermott prior to the visit of Sheffield Wednesday?
You suspect not.
Neil Redfearn’s open dissatisfaction regarding his shoving into the depths of a relegation scrap, you feel, also dictated the pace at which GFH took action.
And so arrives Brian McDermott, who now has only five games to discover that the vast majority of his adopted squad desperately lacks the quality required to return him to whence he came, further bittering his taste towards Anton Zingarevich’s wielding of an axe.
Unlike the previous regime, McDermott will ensure a collective, unified assault on glory is implemented, allowing those in the Revie Stand to emphasise the word ‘together’ in the Leeds United’s club song once more.
Whether the club will march on under McDermott’s stewardship, however, remains to be seen, for this is yet another chapter in the Leeds United’s history that raises more questions than answers.