billy bremner  statue at Elland Road (Large)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.

26 Responses

  1. Rob Atkinson

    Totally agree. At the moment, the Club is rudderless and rotten from the top, it’s like a chicken running round the farmyard minus its head. It’s almost impossible to overstate the importance of the time between now and August, and the decisions that have to be taken in the course of those few months.

    • Andrew Keogh

      ‘A chicken running round the farmyard minus its head’ Absolutely immortal! The best comment on the whole sorry saga by a country mile …

  2. Ian McMullen

    You make a good point, but I tend to think that Warnock was aiming for himself to be the “football person” between the owners and the coaches / manager – and actually he might have been good at that, but he managed to sour the relationship with the fans, so had to go. I wonder what kind of person you could get – Wilko? ;-)

    • TSS

      It’s not that I don’t think Neil Warnock couldn’t be successful in such a role, the problem was that it wasn’t his role at that particular time. He was supposed to be concentrating on the first team but seemed far more concerned with other matters.

      • Graham

        What are Colin’s business credentials?

        Certainly no better than Wilko’s and the Sergeant has at least been at the very top of his profession – the last English manager to coach a team to the title and very high up in the FA’s hierarchy at one point.

        Cantankerous old bugger but as you rightly point out he had the vision and foresight to see further than the end of next week – an essential quality if we are to overcome the culture of short-termism that has dogged the club.

        In many ways he was the prototype of the new type of manager – the studious non or limited ex-pro who could actually string coherent sentences together – think Wenger, Houlier, Mourinho even.

        Frankly though, I doubt that he would be interested.

      • TSS

        Warnock has no business credentials, it’s a director of football type role he seems to be pushing for though. Wouldn’t have him as that personally, Wilko, as you’ve both pointed out, would be a much better option.

  3. Allwhite

    Very sound and relevant comments. Of course, the decision on chairman may also well depend on whether GFH sell a controlling stake as is currently rumoured. Your comments apply equally to Steve Parkin or whoever else may own the controlling stake in the club. A soundly based plan for the longer term well-being of the club is even more important than the name of the next manager – a manager should fit into the vision for the future. Swansea are a perfect example of what I mean – managers change but the vision continues.

  4. Paddy

    I agree on the importance of this decision, but the theory of having a football person as chairman is wrong. The chairman needs to be a sound businessman but I think the time has come for a director of football. For which wilko would be perfect. 25 years ago he implemented a long term vision coupled with short term success I.e. promotion. Then we need a young manager who buys into this plan, and an assistant been groomed for when said manager leaves so the vision is continued. The club has been crippled by short termism in the last 8 years and that is the 1st thing that needs to change. Also whoever the new manager is needs to build his side around lees, Byram, white, Dawson and McCormack coupled with 2 or 3 experienced signings and 1 or 2 young(ish) players with pace and/or flair.

    • PMH

      “Young” manager? Age is not correlated with ability my friend. We want someone who is a good motivator and technically strong, and in it for the long haul. Could be 30 or 60 – who cares? Note that some young managers may have a tendency to abandon ship at the first offer from a Premiership team. Where would that leave us?

    • Psycho

      I don’t think that a strong business man is the answer, there are thousands of them. We need a strong business man with knowledge and experience of football. If it was just business acumen that was needed I would apply for the job and so would half the directors in the UK. GFH are already good business men that is why they bought the mighty whites!!!

  5. Bluesman

    Excellent analysis. The problem is at board level. The board needs clearing out completely and we need an experienced Chairman and MD. At the moment though, we need a manager who can keep us in the Championship. On current form we are going down!!

  6. Moojoo

    Totally agree, and this observation on here is completely spot-on: “A soundly based plan for the longer term well-being of the club is even more important than the name of the next manager – a manager should fit into the vision for the future. Swansea are a perfect example of what I mean – managers change but the vision continues.” Now-there’s a role model…but not with Bates, Harvey, Lorimer etc lurking in the shadows. (Actually, just seeing Lorimer booted out of his bar, and seeing it re-named would give me a fine way to kick start the revolution)

  7. Moojoo

    Apologies for the garbled grammar in my last sentence…can I blame it on my Team befroe Self T shirt hat arrived this morning? MOT

  8. John

    Get some technical directors from the continent and run the club top to bottom based on the Spanish model!

  9. mrbigwheels

    True, true and true and to re-afirm… you are right… but I am only thinking of staying up in this division and am taking nothing for granted with the board, managerial incumbents or the teleprinter dialogue of Shaun Harvey.

    We need to win some games, score some points and at least maintain our present league position. Redfearn knows the squad, I’m sure and his selections will no doubt put a stop to the appearance money tactics of Warnock but repectfully with only six games left and a record of SH1 and a pie at half time… I’m inclined to want an experienced caretaker in RIGHT NOW and kick some ass into the likes of Morrison, Varney, Norris. Austin, etc and make sure we blooody well stay up. Some on pitch management is needed… now.

    The appointment of a new Chairman will be decided entirely by who owns this Club in eight weeks time and not which League we are playing in, with respect.

    • mrbigwheels

      I’m adding to this because I’m so blooody cross that I know, Warnock was ‘going to walk’ after the Man City game,17th Feb and he didn’t… thanks to the owners persistent delusional appeals to ‘carry on’… With the few games to play we are left with a shattered, partially demoralised dressing room and possibly half a squad that want a rocket in the proverbial… just to relieve that cozy familiar arrogance that Warnock has created. Six whole weeks of wasted time. The last twelve games yielding eleven points and… ”the lads couldn’t have given any more for me really” or ” can’t fault the lads”…. which blooody lads was he talking about?. only his own… obviously!.

      I am cross.. yes, with myself and we should all be cross with ourselves. This has slipped under the net, he’s hood winked us all, he never had any intention of facing up to to ‘rele’ battle WE are now facing. Warnock was never the next scapegoat for this Club but his trait is to give up too easily when he has a crap hand. We should have called his bluff to a louder degree than we have.

      TSS’ article is very valid… a strong Chairman would have dismissed him after Barnsley… Too many in this Club just taking their money and allowing a rudderless ownership to flounder slightly. Please GFHC appoint an experienced interim manager to secure our position if you are not able to presently determine your long term ownership ratio. It is quite achievable.


      • Irving08

        I despise him for his deceit and cowardice.

        Be gone with you Corporal Warnock and never set foot in this city again !

    • Bluesman

      Hi Mr Bigwheels it is nice to know that you are back and bursting with ideas and inspiration to put things right. Cant fault you!

  10. PMH

    What Leeds needs is all of the above plus an ability not to panic, and switch managers, with every bad patch the team runs into. The path to the top half of the Premiership is a 3-4 year trek that will have plenty of ups and downs. Hitting the panic button is the most common error of football teams. They don’t really understand how disruptive a change of leadership is. Let’s not be like Blackburn. Find the right people and then stick with them.

    • markj222

      I completely agree, but Warnock was the wrong person with the wrong approach. Grayson should have been allowed to stay, but we can’t turn back time now. The next manager that comes in must be given time from the fans and board to do the job, however long it takes. But the person that comes in must want to play football, and bring young players through

  11. Bunmi A

    100% agree with you, mate. Need best administration behind the scenes. Like Harry Reynolds was for Don Revie. Definitely don’t want another Prof or another misguided, purposely alienating and intransigently mischievous one like the outgoing figurehead.

    • jed.exodus7

      The problem today is that chairman and directors interfere too much with the management of a club. If managers are good enough they should be given free reign. Revie was a strong personality and treated the mostly bungling club directors with contempt for his entire reign, to the point he was basically running the club himself by the end and they were glad to get rid of him despite all his success. If a manager tried to do that today they would be sacked very quickly, unless they are Alex Ferguson

  12. Dr Zen

    I’d rather they hurried up and sold us to someone who has money, because ultimately we need some money spent on the team and they haven’t got any.


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