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  • 22/09/14 - There's only one Neil Redfearn: As Neil Redfearn steps back from steadying the ship for the 3rd ti... Link
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21 Sep 2014 12:36pm, by theleedsmango

As Neil Redfearn steps back from steadying the ship for the 3rd time, I think we should look at this unusual dichotomy: a Coach who earned us 10 points out of 12 and whose name was sung out triumphantly by a 29,000 strong crowd yet a Coach who most people are content with not being offered the manager's job permanently. It's hard to find another example where a member of staff is considered too important for the main role.

On one hand, many would see the caretakers role as risk-free and hence there is less pressure than on a new manager who is coming in to the club. It isn't his job to do well, he's a temporary stop gap.

On the other hand, his task was not straightforward. At all. Caretaker managers usually step in to a club where the first 11 is fairly established and usually carries on with the same players, tweaking the tactics to try and get something new from the players. Redfearn had to deal with the extra complications of having 15 new players brought in whom nobody knew much about and somehow integrate them with the old guard brought in by previous managers as well as integrating the youngsters; the group he knew most about. On top of that, the fanbase was frustrated by Cellino's appointment of Hockaday, a no-name coach who hadn't got a glittering CV at all. With greatest respect to Redfearn, his managerial CV prior to working at Leeds academy wasn't exactly glowing either. Surely the crowd wouldn't warm to the option of Redfearn possibly getting the job permanently?

Redfearn had one phrase that stood out on his CV that gave him a head start in winning over the fans. "He's Leeds." A phrase when a player, current or past, shows even the slightest bit of loyalty towards the club. And Redfearn is Leeds. In fact our club hasn't had much consistency over the past few years. Two come to mind; performing abysmally on a weekday night and Redfearn's role in the academy. It would be fitting then that Redfearn would put together a performance on a Tuesday night against Bournemouth that would probably be described as our best weekday performance in the past few years.

Redfearn took a risk in his team selections. Hockaday had lost the remaining fans who still believed in him when he continued to chose Tonge, Norris and Murphy when they wanted to see the new signings. Cellino too would have wanted his summer captures to feature predominantly so he could see how well his money was spent. In an overcrowded midfield of experienced players, Redfearn put Cook and Mowatt ahead of many of them. Two people who he could rely on and whom he knew well. Mowatt got off to a great start when given a first team role by Brian McDermott but his impact fizzled out towards the end of the season. Cook hadn't broken in to the first team yet. It was a risky decision on two accounts. One, it still wasn't what the fans or, I assume Cellino wanted to see. Two, youngsters should be eased into an established team not thrown in at the deep end in a mismatched team.

Mowatt and Cook have performed above expectations, a credit again to the importance of Redfearn's role in the academy. I would hazard a guess that their admiration and respect for Redfearn helped them move up a gear in their performances.

It would be a disservice to Redfearn to say his academy graduates where his only success in his short reign as first team Coach. He's got the best performances out of Austin, Warnock and Pearce; three of the remnants from previous regimes that many never wanted to see back in the squad. Yet few could doubt that they have showed more consistency for the past few weeks than they did under the managers who brought them in.

He has also, somehow, managed to integrate the surge of foreign signings into a team that looks impressive. Again, with no disrespect to Redfearn, many of the new players wouldn't have been thrilled with being coached by an Academy coach with very few credentials.

Redfearn's final moment in his caretaker position was a triumphant one. Against Leeds local rivals, Huddersfield, the stakes where higher than most Championship matches. Few will forget the last match against Huddersfield, sandwiched in between the bizarre firing and rehiring of McDermott. Leeds won against the odds, as Redfearn controlled the second and shortest stint as caretaker. Huddersfield would be out for revenge, keen to embarrass Leeds on their home soil and take advantage of a managerless and, if you believe the pundits and media, in crisis Leeds.

The day couldn't have unfolded better for Leeds as they walked confidently out of the game with a comfortable 3-0 win despite going down to 10 men in the final stages. There were no signs of having to endure the storms in the last 5 minutes that we were used to last season. Tuesday night wins and comfortable ending to matches. Redfearn had quashed the hoodoo surrounding Leeds, and after a triumphant display, the crowd chanted "There's only one Neil Redfearn"

So here's to Neil. I feel it's for the best we bring a new manager in and keep Redfearn in his current role but we can only thank him for giving us our best run of games in a long time. Hope he takes pleasure in watching Mowatt, Cook, Byram, Dawson and Taylor develop. And indeed, takes pleasure in watching the team develop. Let's hope he's around in case we need him for a 4th stint in the role. And let's hope he takes a big role in working alongside Milanic. His input is beyond valuable and it would be a shame to lose him to another club willing to take the risk. He's Leeds, after all.

03 Sep 2014 08:46pm, by Shields53

With the rumoured favourite for the Leeds head coach job Oscar Garcia taking the vacant position at Watford this week it seemed Massimo Cellino was no further in finding a successor to David Hockaday.

Garcia had sounded like the ideal candidate, experience in the Championship, good English, a track record of working with youth players, his sides play positive football and he is willing to work as a head coach rather than a traditional manager. He sounds like the idea man to lead our new team of young continental players and academy graduates forward but it wasn’t to be.

Other names in the list of favourites for the job include the man Garcia replaces at Watford, Giuseppe Sannino. Sannino had been in charge at Watford since December last year and in 31 games in charge won 13 games, not an amazing win ratio but Watford lay second in the table having won 4 of their first 5 games of the season. His resignation had prompted speculation that he would become the next Leeds manager with his experience of both English and Italian football but nothing has materialised as yet.

Ex West Brom manager Steve Clarke is also on that list of names and current favourite with the bookies. With a wealth of coaching experience and knowledge of English football he would seem like a decent option. The Yorkshire Evening Post had reported Cellino and Clark had been in discussions but there has been no further news. Cellino however still seems undecided, either overwhelmed or underwhelmed by his options (They've probably all said no) he has told the BBC’s Adam Pope that he is sticking with Neil Redfearn.

“I’ve decided to leave the team to Neil. At the moment too many coaches call me & I’m confused. I think it’s best to keep going with a LUFC man like now, that knows football & makes the team play in a beautiful way. For the moment it’s the best thing to do.”

Redfearn does have many of the attributes Cellino is looking for in his new head coach. He has vast experience of English football, a proven track record developing young players and most importantly at the moment he understands the club. Redfearn’s team selection against Bolton certainly suggests he shares Cellinos philosophy, a good mix of the new young signings and academy graduates. It was a selection that won 3 points, only our second victory of the season, and that is a big reason for him to retain the job for now.

Do Cellino’s comments mean the job is Redfearn’s long term, who knows? It’s hard to tell with Cellino but should results continue to go his way after the international break it’s a strong possibility. I still can’t help thinking it would be the wrong move for the club though. Redfearn is a great asset to the club, the work he has done as academy manager is producing good results and there are some fantastic players coming through into the first team now.

With the squad as it is, new and still gelling it may take a while for it to come together and for us to start getting results consistently. Football is a results based business and with Cellino, the manager eater, he may not get the time he requires if results do not go our way and losing him would be a massive loss to the club. Then again it could be a great gamble, he could be exactly the right man to take the club forward. His experience with young talent and knowledge of the club could be vital to taking us forward.

So Redders is in charge for now, but for how long who knows. You never know with Cellino, he could appoint Clarke or Sannino tomorrow. Hell, he might even give Adrian Pennock the job, he’s the current Forest Green Rovers manager by the way.

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