We’re approaching the beginning of May which means ‘silly season’ is upon us and the rumour mill has spluttered back into life.

Under new ownership, Leeds United are expected to feature heavily in the transfer market, but whether it’ll be Brian McDermott or a new coach preparing the recruits for the 2014/15 Championship campaign remains undecided.

With Massimo Cellino running the show, Leeds United’s management situation will have little effect on transfers. The Italian will act in a Director of Football role, identifying and signing the players he feels will be of benefit to the club while Brian McDermott (or his replacement) will simply have to coach Cellino’s ensemble.

It’s an unusual situation because it means the club are already looking at transfer targets despite the uncertain future of our manager. Other clubs with scouting networks presumably do the same, but the scouts would then have to convince a new manager the players they’ve selected are up to the task, thus delaying any movement. In our case, Massimo Cellino will act autonomously and expect the new manager/coach to get the best out of the players he signs.

There are clearly bonuses to this system, but there are downsides too. If we sign a load of overrated nobodies, that’ll be entirely the fault of our owner. But Cellino isn’t going to punish and fire himself, he’s a very single-minded individual who can easily pass the blame to the ‘coach’ instead. It doesn’t matter if Cellino signs 20 Roque Juniors, he’ll bear no responsibility for their failure because Cellino will blame the coach for not getting them to perform, and that’s not a position many top coaches are going to want to be in.

Another problem of the system is the players become even more powerful, further upsetting the bizarre power balance of football in relation to every other business in the world. Cellino is known to be very protective of those he signs, so while Cellino is shielding them from criticism by blaming the coach and the coach is banging his head against a wall pointing out that they’re not good enough and he had no influence in signing them, the players get a free pass.

There are other people involved in the process of identifying players of course. Massimo Cellino uses a network of scouts he’s built up at Cagliari who’ve had tremendous success in uncovering rough gems. But the people wearing the club colours is ultimately decided by Cellino and if he gets it all wrong, he’s unsackable. Single-minded, narcissistic and bulletproof. I may be alone here, but that doesn’t sit comfortably with me.

People will say the Director of Football role is common abroad and is just as successful as the English model, which is true, but this situation isn’t quite the same. A Director of Football is usually someone a club hires (like Michael Elemano at Chelsea) which means they’re also someone who can be replaced when things aren’t working out (like Dennis Wise at Newcastle United). An owner taking on that position is a very different thing indeed.

Perhaps I’m so accustomed to things working out badly for Leeds, I can’t help but expect the worst. You could argue my fears are unfounded since Cellino had the same set-up at Cagliari and things worked out relatively well for him there, but unchecked power can be disastrous (like it was with Bates). And since things rarely work out well for Leeds, I find it’s best practice to expect the worst. At least that way you’re rarely disappointed.

51 Responses

  1. Matthew

    I take the view that we’re fucked anyway with the current system, I would welcome a change of direction, if it yields success all the better, if it doesn’t we start again. If we do end up getting a bunch of Italian players, its better to get them in sooner rather than later, getting them geling with the squad during pre season to make our initial games next season smoother.

  2. Mike

    Honestly can it get worse than having our decisions made by bumbling idiots basing their decisions off of Football Manager ratings?

    • TSS

      You’d hope not, but this is Leeds United and there always seems to be another depth we can sink to.

  3. bitesyerlegs

    We haven’t had a decent pre-season with early signings for as long as I can remember. Whatever the new system is, it needs to be implemented asap.
    But you’re right, a manager used to running the club, like McD (and Moyes!) will not fit into the role of coach. BM’s donning of the tracksuit and statements of support smack of someone desperate to keep his job as opposed to one fully embracing a new broom. I can see a European coach coming in asap. Interesting to note that Zola ran a mile. He couldn’t cope with it. Bodes ill. But as has been said, better than the shit we’re putting up with now.
    Great line of the day:
    “You can’t polish a turd, but you can roll it in glitter.” Bring on the shiny stuff, Mr C.

    • Mackerpacker

      …but you can roll it in glitter – priceless. I’m going to throw all caution to the wind and trust in Cellino. We’ve got to believe and hope. It’s time we had some excitement. After the last 10 years of mediocrity it surely can’t get any worse. We need gifted foreign players and more than likely a foreign coach. Footballers who are comfortable on the ball, can read the game, can pass – imagine what that would be like!

  4. Tare

    McD has lost it: approach for the game, tactics, man management. Example how things can be changed and successfully well martinez coming to Toffee boys handler; suddenly they started to play the beautiful game as it should be played and last game saw blue nose sacking afterwards. So one man can make a change for sure. Ross barkley from Leeds loanie player/bench warmer to top PL player and International player for England. WFIGOAER? This could happen maybe in Hollywood movie but in real life really?

    And yes Massimo will change the culture towards continental style and personally I will wait until any judgment is said. Fact is that we will get more skillful players than we have accustomed to lately. Defense should be “Italicized” except Sam and JP. In MF midfield general (CD as 2nd choice) and wingers could be found from Italy as well. In attack MS and Ross should stay plus 2 from Italy. Our Academy players could fill the bench and could be understudies for the 1st 11.


  5. henrymouni

    I agree with Mike and Matthew.

    If I was ‘Massimo the Mighty’, and felt, as he does, that he knows the game, and has an eye for a good player, I would want to know where my money was going.

    He is prepared to take responsibility, and drive the club forward.

    I cannot see Brian lasting too long.

    Now that the players are getting paid and the takeover is settled, we see NO improvement at all in the team!!

    It was all bullcrap and deception, showing BM’s desperate situation.

    Look at the millions Spurs have wasted.

    • Chareose

      Agree Henry…….we all said that was the case though didn’t we ? We knew these were just excuses for a bigger problem.
      Young players interspersed with experience is the right approach but with a tad more emphasis on quality than say BM’s Shopping list
      Agree about spurs…..they have squandered money and I think they would have been better off keeping old “Arry” and his accountant pet Dog

  6. markman

    surely the main point is that we are going to have a smaller squad and
    as we now have decent money,any new comers should be far superior to those that are leaving.

  7. Chareose

    I understand what your saying completely but I think we
    should keep Stum on this and not moan about the new approach incase we inadvertently
    change Cellinos mind on how to approach things.

    The reason I say this is because im so sick of watching this dross, of seeing the
    management problems and im sick of the unimaginative and unambitious approach
    of not only BM but of so many managers at this level. Why should we accept
    rubbish ? People are paying good money to be entertained, is this entertainment
    ?? The quality of football in the lower
    leagues looks to be very poor in comparison to say 30 years ago……..

    As ive said before there are hundreds and hundreds of
    players throughout the world that are far better technically than the majority
    of players in the championship and who would bite your arm off to earn what
    some of our “top earners” are getting at Leeds…..

    It requires imagination and a change of perspective for a
    British manager to look beyond what he views as the status quo, the Websters and
    Stewarts of this world. Hoddles one of the few men id trust to take on the
    Leeds mantle and show some ambition. Not every high quality youngster around
    the world would demand wages beyond what Leeds could offer.

    I believe this more imaginative perspective has been
    Cellinos approach at Cagliari but I think hes been held back by the meagre
    finances of his smaller Italian club. He obviously has a world wide scouting
    system and seems to opt for talented youngsters. It also appears hes been
    finding them aswell……… Well lets have some of that then !

    Of course there are concerns over his approach to managing a
    club but since BMs first sacking ive started to take on a more philosophical
    view to it all………………LOOK AT WHERE WE ARE NOW, have we actually got anything to
    lose ?? Can we honestly be any worse
    under Massimos style of ownership ???? Maybe
    in 3 years we may care but at the moment ???

    What matters is whats going on the pitch, the fans deserve
    some excitement. Would the Brazilian Adryan settle in at Leeds and English football
    ??? I don’t know but im sure he would
    beat the proverbials out of the pap we have seen this season…..

    Ibarbo looks like he could be world class let alone championship
    level……..if it happens ill be celebrating …..

    The more I have learnt about Cellino the more I think he
    does actually have some taste and footballing sense…….. Lets hope BM doesn’t persuade
    him otherwise !!!

    BM “ Massimo going for top class players is impractical, we
    need tough players who cant pass but understand the dourness that is expected
    at Championship football” “lets go for Webster,
    the CB from relegated Yoevil, that will show some intent !”

  8. Ian Baird

    If we only need a coach then mc d as to go ASAP ,message to Massimo, don’t let this man waste your money

  9. Mike

    Hate me for this statement all you want but when you get down to it the English system is quite Agoraphobic, the players don’t leave the country and coaches seem to opt to sign English players rather than having a look.

    Unfortunately its not the 1970’s any longer and the game is now truly an international game that needs an international approach. There’s no “an English club needs to be run like this” that’s idealistic and not realistic and the best clubs don’t do that simply put.

    • TSS

      I think you’ve missed the point here. The European system makes sense, there’s no issue there, but European clubs hire a director of football they can then fire. We can’t fire Cellino! We have a permanent director of football, for better and for worse.

      Since Cellino is the person signing players, it’s not a million miles away from the owner appointing himself as an unsackable manager, no matter how bad the results or how bad the players signed, the person responsible won’t be replaced.

      • Mike

        Well we can’t fire Cellino you’re right about that, he’s ours for better or worse. Regardless, even with a “director of football” in place all the decisions still would go through him.anyway so whats really the difference except one less person on payroll(probably making more than deserved) and to point the finger at?

      • Chareose

        Ive never seen a more demotivated broken and badly coached group of players in my life than the current team so I don’t see what we have got to lose letting Cellino loose do you ??? I mean can it really be anyworse ??
        Based on the young players at Cagliari past and present, it does appear Massimo Houdini does have some taste………..

      • Matthew

        We’ve already hit rock bottom this season. I doubt we could get any lower.

      • TSS

        Why would you even tempt fate like that? History teaches us that at Leeds, things can – and usually do – get worse.

      • TSS

        You’re right, we do need to try something different. But if that ‘something different’ doesn’t work, we’re stuck with it. We’re pinning all our hopes of player recruitment to one man who’s never managed a football club or played the game professionally, and if he fails, we have no choice but to persist with him indefinitely. I don’t know how people can be comfortable with that. It’d be considered absolute madness had it not been for the last decade.

      • Chareose

        Mate he has managed a club……..hes managed Cagliari for what 20 years ??? And kept them in Serie A……yes your right in 3 years we could end up getting frustrated but right now…………im just happy that A/ our debts are paid and B/ that we have someone in charge who appears to be ambitious…..
        The talk of Ibarbo and Adryan maybe fairy tale stuff but its certainly the sort of ambition this club needs ! I was frustrated with BM from the off the set over this. He cant seem to look beyond the british isles for players and most of the players here for whatever reason are Sh1te………….

  10. naith

    Bring on the change i say. Because quite obviously what we have been doing the last decade isnt working. So may aswell give it a go :-)

  11. Chris7286

    I have no problem with this system, Leeds have always had an affection for Real Madrid (that’s why we wear all white). Florentino Perez is such a President and that continental way of doing things has been good enough all these years for Europe’s most successful so why not. I can see you wanted to make a point here about the way things will be but your forgetting that change is good and we should embrace it. You came up with reasons why he will never be wrong as he won’t be fired but at least we won’t have to listen to managers saying “these aren’t my players” or if a succeeding manager has quick success, the old manager saying “that was my team”. This way of doing things is more proven to work over history in Europe than the English way if you put success purely down to this so maybe we should look at the facts and see they are positives rather than ‘nit pick’ and be negative.

  12. Wayne Wellwood

    All big clubs have directors of football the main difference being Ours owns the club, has a scouting system that he’s fine tuned over 20 odd years and has contacts in Italy and further afield others can only dream of. Agreed he can’t sack himself but he would be wasting his own and his companies money, McDermott will go no doubt whatsoever in my mind and obviously a clear out of backroom staff. As for the links to Astori, Ibarbo and others all I’ll say is they were named by his son in January, Will it happen? Who knows other than Mr Cellino himself, I will add though Ibarbo’s comment when asked was “I’m under contract with Cagliari until 2016, We will see what happens”. that’s not a yes but its not a no, Cellino has a very close relationship with Ibarbo so no one should be counting those chickens yet. Don’t get me wrong he will anger fans at times but he will have whats best for Leeds at the front of his mind and he’s paying the bills so I say let him crack on. One thing though, can we stop mentioning the old crooked smurf in the same breath as Cellino please?

    • TSS

      “can we stop mentioning the old crooked smurf in the same breath as Cellino please”

      Owners can only be measured against past owners, much like managers can only be measured against past managers. There are different owners we could compare Cellino to, but none from recent history – Ridsdale era the decisions were made by a board, GFH era the decisions were made by Amitai Winehouse… I mean bankers in Bahrain.

      • Wayne Wellwood

        Agreed but it less than what 4 months he has done more for the club than the smurf every did. So again I don’t get the comparison other than to back up all the negativity in your story. The truth is we have never had a owner to compare him to so we may as well stop comparing him to anyone at all. at least until he gives us something more to judge him on.

      • TSS

        Not negativity, just the situation we’re in. If Cellino signs the right players, that’s great. But if he doesn’t, then what? We just allow him to blame coach after coach after coach while knowing deep down that there’s very little they can do when they’ve had no say in the players we’re fielding?

        I think it’s worth considering personally, it’s something that’s worried me about Cellino since day one.

      • Wayne Wellwood

        I do understand where you’re coming from but you could just flip the coin and write a story full of all the good things that might happen too. Thats my point, until we have something other than throwing money at our debts to judge him on, we have to reserve judgement.

      • Chareose

        I think at Cagliari hes brought in good young players but hes had to sell some of them to avoid having to fund the club out of his own pocket to ridiculous levels. They have been getting crowds of say 8k and with that income hes got to support a Serie A side and pay for a rented ground miles away from Sardinia…… Im sure hes made errors in judgement…….but so do professional managers……….look at all the flops Fergie has bought amongst his gems !!!

      • henrymouni

        I know what you mean TSS but:-
        In our situation -rock bottom – he is our owner for better or worse.
        He buys players on the recommendation of this scouting staff.
        Also on his own experience/gut feeling etc.
        We have little or no scouting set up at ER.
        How difficult is it to spot a good player anyway?
        The problem is buying them.
        Unknowns, from lower leagues, are a calculated risk.
        I bet the players he brings in are miles better than the ones we have. Even if he buys them from Rochdale!!

        I never get tired of that face!

      • Tare

        This one issue here is that is McD playing and hiring players who are mates? Hunt comes to my mind and disregarding Chris Dawson. Is this really face value issue here? Well changes will come soon so….


  13. Steob

    All ifs and buts I’m as sceptical as the next leeds supporter and expect the worst all the time as we have become custome two for the last decade or so. But let’s all for once think positive and give Cellino and our new look leeds united a far chance hopefully with a lots of new players and a new maneger who ever he may be before we start to criticise every move Cellino makes. We’re due some good times hopefully starting next season

  14. Cassimo Mellino

    I do enjoy the discussions, at the end of the day though we’re Leeds aren’t we and Cellino owns us now no matter what we speculate might happen. MOT/Forza Bianco

  15. leeeeeeeeeeeds

    Reckon Cellino will own us for 17 odd years like Cagliari?? Long time if its all goes pear shaped.

    F**k I’ll be nearly 40

    • Matthew

      Anything better than this next season would be an improvement. I can’t see what he has to lose at this point. As long as we’re in for a shout of playoffs next season at the very least that would be a good 2014/2015 season to me.

  16. Luke

    Need to keep McDermott for atleast another season, with the right players he can get us back where we belong, anyone would struggle with the team we’ve got, sort the team out, keep mac roll on next season…

      • Luke

        Shut up, you’re one of the many negative arseholes the club could do without

      • bllybllx

        tottally agree luke, sick of reading the crap from some so called ‘fans’

        get behind mcdermott and lets see what he can do with a decent transfer kitty and no behind the scenes shenanigans

        besides what manager do you think would come to leeds if he doesnt get to pick his own squad also look at cellino track record for sackings….. enough to keep any decent manager away

      • Ev

        You two are completely deluded…….I mean how bad does a manager have to be before you would question his abilities….honest question ?? What do you view as BMs job ??? Why is he being paid 1.6 million ?? Just to talk to the camera ?? Have you perhaps noticed our slip in form this year ??
        A manager needs to motivate his players, needs to choose tactics, choose players and manage them……….from where im sitting I can see no evidence of that at all. People like you believe WHAT you want to believe and you don’t base your judgements on facts. Their are no excuses for Leeds decline, these players can play better, theyproved it by getting us to 5th. BM needs to go and you both need to waje up

      • henrymouni

        You have to be a little deluded to support Leeds these days Ev.
        Brian has failed miserably.
        Half the team are his, and they have been as bad as the rest.
        Brian said yesterday that he does not know why the team got even worse after Christmas!
        Says it all really.
        He cannot inspire players!
        He can you fix something if you do not know what the problem is??

      • Tare

        With FORESIGHT mate not looking in the rear mirror. This club is bigger than anyone of us and I am humble enough to admit that even though it will take some time to get there well I have noticed the aura around the place and eventually we will get there (promised land). We definitely are not some kind of plastic development laboratory.


      • Matthew

        Absolutely spot on. McDermott has to go, I wouldn’t trust him with a transfer budget. Best case scenario he finishes this season off and Cellino gets rid, and finds a new manager before the transfer window opens. A manager would be drawn to this club by its size and by having money to spend.

      • TSS

        I thought he was being paid millions because he’s a great guy just trying to do the right thing and he wants to manage Leeds simply because he loves us?

  17. bllybllx

    massimo has already said english football isnt the same as italian and what is all this talk of mcdermotts future being uncertain? this is only coming from the idiot bloggers like yourself causing unneccesary bollox

    get behind the team and manager or shut the bleeding blog down, sick of hearing whinging crap

    • TSS

      “Get behind the team” is, bar none, the most irritating phrase the unthinking, blind faith fans persist with. I just can’t believe so many of your type still exist after so many years of this club being repeatedly shafted.

      But anyway, Mike addresses this well above so I suggest you read his comment.

      FYI. This is a free world BTW, no one is forcing you to read things.

      • bllybllx

        I was just pointing out that you appear to have missed what Cellino has already said.

        So you’re not only trying to instigate the “blind faith” into following your line of thinking in sacking Mcdermott, your also trolling your readership.

        Btw my eyes are hurting after reading “mikes” first paragraph…. although thanks “mike”

  18. Mike

    This “get behind the team come what may brigade” just never get any better do they? Always quick to insult and act aggressively too. The same people, with the same argument they trotted out for eight eternal years as parasite bates singularly gang-raped our club before our very eyes.

    OF COURSE WE ARE BEHIND OUR CLUB!! Any fan who is criticial of their club would love to be proven totally wrong by resulting success and is just as much, or more behind their club than ignorant, to use a phrase of ken’s: morons.

    The difference with Florentino Perez is that he is elected and can be kicked out. Continuing the parallel, I can’t imagine him having a “coach” like Ancelotti and not consulting him when it comes to signings. Of course, he may then ignore him, and not sign players the coach recommends – as at any club. The key factor would be the ‘vanity’ signings – made by the President without or even against the wishes of the manager.

    As far as McDermott goes, I think anyone even contemplating the fact that he might be at Elland Road in June needs their head testing. Even knowing for sure that his new boss is a hands-on Italian, he has continued to play a football more befitting of the Parnaby Tavern than Premier League. Cellino is either waiting till the end of season out of respect to clearly a very good person, or trying to save himself some compo money somehow.

    But hey, who am I to guess? Maybe McD will stay and will take us up next year. I know which one I would prefer to happen. So, idiot brigade, give it a break and THINK for once.

    • TSS

      Great comment.

      I suspect the majority of blind faith “get behind the team” types are dimwitted 13-year-olds who’ve yet to realise how it important it is for fans to keep questioning the owners of our club because if we don’t, no one else will. I don’t know why they think questions are attacks though, that strikes me as incredibly paranoid. It’s like they’ve all been indoctrinated into [insert-latest-owner-here]’s cult, it really is bizarre.

      • Matthew

        The almost lemming like faith some people have in McDermott is insane. If McDermott led them off a cliff they’d eagerly fall to their death. Everyone knows of the Lemmings game I hope. It’s a classic.

  19. valur

    Can anyone please tell me what a “so called fan” is ? Also why some people always say” stick behind the team no matter what crap they bring us” im a fan from Iceland and have been so for ca 40 years and im only 47,i have been at elland road 2 times only,but still i am a diehard fan,then again im probably just one of those so called fans because i´ve only been in leeds 2 times,you don´t have to know much about football too se that BMD is an awful mananger and a crappy coach,the football we play is so boring it´s painful to watch,still im a fan and love LEEDS,i want BMD out,it´s just what i wan´t,i can say what ever i want,im still a fan and love LEEDS.sorry if my english is poor,im still a LEEDS til i die :)


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