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14 Apr 2014 07:15am, by Shields53

Given what we already know about Cellino I think it’s fair to say life under his ownership is going to be a bit of a rollercoaster. As the song goes “we’ve had our ups and downs” and the new presidents tenure promises to deliver thrills, spills, lows but potentially great highs. He has endeared himself to Leeds United fans in recent weeks by being a man who says what he feels, he speaks openly and honestly and that is a refreshing change. From the recent GFH Capital communications blackout to a flamboyant Italian who will talk to anyone if they call him, or meet him in The Old Peacock. If you haven’t already read part one and part two of his interviews with Phil Hay in the Yorkshire Evening Post, you must.

He is also a man who is used to getting what he wants, as he told Phil Hay “At Leeds, don’t tell me what to do. If you don’t like it you can go. People can leave. Nobody gives you responsibility. You take it by yourself.” Cellino may have the title of President but he sees himself as the manager; “I manage the club. That is my responsibility. What I need is a coach, a great coach. That’s clear. I was raised as a manager, not as a bulls**t president who puts his tie on, eats some roast beef and f***s off home. I look after everything.” And as if conceding to the new presidents requirement for a coach, not a manager, Brian McDermott appeared on the touchline on Saturday against Blackpool for Cellino’s first home game in charge adorned in a tracksuit, not his usual suit.

And the tracksuit effect seemed to work. That or the fact that the players tried a bit harder now they were getting paid the rest of their wages, or it was the prospect of a new owner who doesn’t put up with failure and doesn’t take prisoners. Blackpool being poor opposition probably helped quite a bit though. It was a better performance and a good result, a much needed win given our recent run of defeats and a confidence boost for the players and manager.

Love or hate Michael Brown we have played better with him recently. He is that holding midfielder that Austin hasn’t been when played in that position. He takes no prisoners, gives little space and closes the opposition down. He has lost what pace he had meaning that along with a certain amount of petulance he’s a walking yellow card but you can’t question his effort. He’s also the type of player that makes sure his team mates know if he doesn’t think they are trying as hard as him. On Saturday his presence meant Murphy could play with freedom and put in the kind of performance it’s been clear he is capable of.

Playing in more advanced role his runs from deep gave us out two goals. The first saw him bust into the box ahead of his marker and latch onto a ball from Ross McCormack, his first touch seemed heavy and it looked as though he had overrun it. But he kept his composure to put his foot on the ball, wait for the defender and goalkeeper to commit themselves before coolly guiding the ball into the goal with his left foot. It was not too dissimilar a goal to that which Raheem Sterling scored in yesterdays ‘Premiership decider’ which I’m sure we will not hear the end of all week. The second came from another McCormack pass, this time a long ball headed on by Noel Hunt. Murphy again latched onto the ball wide in the area and chipped the ball over the onrushing keeper to score. A good performance from our £1 million man who has promised this season but never quite delivered. It was a performance that Crewe fans will have recognised and hopefully will give him the confidence to push on.

It was a much needed result for McDermott also. The pressure is on for him to get results and convince Cellino he is the man for the job and should be the man to ‘coach’ Leeds next season. Cellino started last week by sacking Cagliari coach Diego Lopez after their 3-1 defeat to Roma left them 7 points above the Serie A relegation places. Cellino has made 36 coaching changes in 22 years at Cagliari. Defeat to Blackpool, a team with one of the poorest form records in the Championship (apart from us) leaving us similarly 7 points of the relegation places could have been the excuse Cellino was looking for. Cellino has said McDermott will stay until the end of the season at least but he is a man prone to changing his mind, as proved at Cagliari as he appointed former assistant Ivo Pulga as the new coach, a man he sacked in February.

In other developments at Elland Road this week managing director David Haigh fell on the sword Cellino had carefully placed in front of him. It was clear his position was untenable after Cellinos recent comments in both a recorded phone call and interview with The Sun. Haigh’s resignation may or may not be related to the surreal revelations that a security sweep of Elland Road requested by Cellino discovered secret surveillance cameras in the boardroom and toilets within the East Stand office area. The issue is now being investigated by the West Yorkshire Police for “misappropriation of club funds” as bogus invoices are thought to have been filed for the purchase of the equipment. This bizarre incident only proves that anything can happen on the rollercoaster that is Leeds United. Who knows what will happen this week.

09 Apr 2014 10:27am, by Shields53

And so yesterday Massimo Cellino officially completed his takeover of Leeds United. His lawyers said “Massimo Cellino has now been appointed a director of LUFC Holdings & ESL has completed its purchase of 75 per cent of the shares of LUFC Holdings.” The Football League still has to ratify the takeover at their board meeting tomorrow but this should be a formality given the outcome of his appeal last week. The chances of Together Leeds joining Cellino at the board table seem to have faded with Cellino saying “I have no plans for any other investors, I will tell them no now. I want the fans close to the club, we don’t need anyone else.”

In an interview earlier in the week with Sky Sports Cellino had given manager Brian McDermott tentative backing. Cellino, it seemed, would give McDermott time to impress and as such last night’s game against Watford at Vicarage Road was as good as a job interview. As far as Brian was concerned it didn’t go so well. Free from the shackles of GFH, free from submitting team sheets to Bahrain 24 hours in advance, free from writing detailed reports it was chance for the manager and players to shine. They didn’t.

A hotchpotch team selection and another lacklustre performance saw Leeds one nil down within ten minutes and go on to an embarrassing three nil defeat. Cellino spoke with McDermott before the game and looked on from the stands but he will not be impressed with what he saw. McDermott conceded after the game “Everyone’s playing for their future in my opinion and of course I’m under pressure. I’m not in a strong position because of the results we’ve had." Cellino was quoted as saying “I’m driving the bus” on completing his takeover, it’s not looking like there will be a seat for McDermott at this rate.

As well as the continuing woes on the field more issues came to light off the field this week. Cellino has already inherited a £22m debt and the club accounts filed this week don’t make for pretty reading. Attendances have dropped 8% with ticket revenues down £2m for the 2012-13 financial year with turnover dropping from £31.8m to £28.5m. The loss for the period stands at a staggering £9.5m with loans of £11.3m from Brendale Holdings, a subsidiary of GFH. Sport Capital also loaned the club 1.75m in a week before their takeover collapsed. As we know Cellino put around £6m into the club before his deal was authorised pointing to the very precarious financial position the club was in. It was also revealed that directors pay totalled £750,000, more than double the previous year.

There has been speculation that the losses could cause issues with the Financial Fair Play Rules which allow for a £8m loss in that period. There is an acceptable deviation of £4m for the first two years however and the rules also state “Failure to stay within the defined limits will lead to the imposition of sanctions. However, there will be no sanctions implemented during the first two seasons (2012/13 and 2013/14) in order to give clubs sensible period of transition.” So we should be fine in terms of sanctions, the full rules can be read on the Football League website.

The Football League will also be concerned that for a period of time last year Leeds United had “no controlling party” as GFH had sold more than 50% of their shares. They later bought shares back to the total of 85% of the club before selling to Cellino. The Football League had not been notified of this and could be concerned given the receipt publicity around the “owners and directors test”.

Cellino left the game on the final whistle and headed straight up to Leeds. He was due at Elland Road this morning and has a lot of work to do. As McDetmott said after the game “We’re all in a situation where it depends on who wants to be here next season. Because this guy has a lot of clout. He’ll have watched that tonight and he’ll have been bitterly disappointed with it.” Expect Cellino’s axe to start flying.

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