Leeds United has been at the centre of controversy over the last few years and stability has been drastically affected due to the running of the club by notorious owners such as Ken Bates and more recently Massimo Cellino halting the clubs progress on the field where the focus should be rather than characters off the field gaining attention for the wrong reasons.
When Cellino took the reigns last season it’s safe to say he was unfamiliar with the concepts of English football with a large influx of foreign players being brought in prior his instruction in an attempt to solve the much stressed issue of a lack of depth within the squad and to achieve the clubs ambition of a return to the promised land; the Premier League. The Italian’s appointment of Dave Hockaday left many of the Leeds faithful bewildered due to the Englishman’s vague experience as a football league boss with his managing career featuring a four-year reign in charge of non-league Forest Green Rovers.
Although many people supported Hockaday for the sake of the club, the lack of league experience evidently showed with four defeats in the opening six games turning fans of the West Yorkshire outfit against him and in a desperate attempt to appease the fans, president Cellino sacked Hockaday without remorse. Having previously been nicknamed the ‘manager eater’, Hockaday’s dismissal didn’t come as a surprise with Cellino continuously describing coaches as being like ‘watermelons’ with some being bound to burst and this was the case with Hockaday.
This set up a season of twists with three managers in total being used throughout the season resulting in a fifteenth placed finish for the Whites. It was certain that disorganisation was the main issue with manager changes which consequently resulted in formation changes and player changes in the match day squad. This resulted in a morale drop in the Leeds dressing room with players being rotated vigorously leaving players unhappy with the situation and desperate for stability.
Cellino certainly wasn’t a fan favourite by the end of last season with many fans calling for the Italian’s head because of the damage he had caused and his quarrel with the Football League of being ‘unfit’ to own a club dragged out until the end of the season. The seasons turbulence certainly had an effect on Cellino as this season, a more organised approach was carried out by the hierarchy at Elland Road.
Cellino brought in Adam Pearson as his executive director to assist him with the day to day running of the club where Pearson would be involved in all aspects of the club especially transfers where the influence was desired by the fans. Pearson certainly showed his worth when Leeds brought in New Zealand striker Chris Wood for a fee in the region of three million pounds. Uwe Rosler’s appointment at the start of this season showed signs of improvement by Cellino with the German having good experience at Championship level with Wigan where he managed from 2013-2014 leading them to the play-offs highlighting Pearson’s qualities in persuading the German to manage Leeds.
Massimo Cellino has been seen in a better light amidst his mistakes because of his desire and reiteration to keep Leeds’ young stars who last season were the highlights of last season with Alex Mowatt and Lewis Cook in-particularly impressing with both midfielders being 20 and 18 respectively. Sam Byram and Charlie Taylor are two other players who have impressed resulting in mass Premier League interest which pays dividends to the Leeds United academy. With all four of the young stars still at Elland Road this season, Leeds are heading in the right direction and Adam Pearson’s effect has certainly shown as Cellino has been shy to the media recently with no comments about ‘watermelons’ emanating from the Italian and only one league defeat since the start of the season showing the hard work is paying off on the pitch. However, Pearson has since left his post as chief executive of the club due to personal and business interests.
This has come as a shock around the club after just four months with the club moving forward progressively and media attention for the right reasons as a result of Pearson’s experience. Good words weren’t in abundance for Pearson from Cellino with the Italian being kept in line since the start of the season, “I hope to welcome him back at some point in the future.” Although there aren’t vast amounts of praise for Pearson, he obviously impressed Cellino or he would have been pushed out of the club like many before him.
Pearson’s grasp on Cellino was certainly a tight one as his recent attack on Sam Byram shows there’s no one there to advise him on what he should tell the media. Leeds have continuously tried to extend Byram’s contract with it running out at the end of this season and his qualities as a right back and now winger have proved essential with him producing a number of eye-catching performances helping to win Leeds games in-particularly at the end of last season. The agent of Sam Byram seems to be the main reason why he’s rejecting Leeds’ contract extensions and Cellino has recently blasted the youngster claiming that Byram may think “Leeds is too small for him” whilst Cellino says now he would prefer to sign “someone better than him.”
This is bound to push Byram towards the exit door and with him being a fan favourite at Leeds, the Elland Road faithful will certainly be disappointed by Cellino’s comments with the full back being loyal to the club and always producing hard working performances. It will certainly be interesting to see further developments with Byram and what happens when the transfer window opens again in January with Liverpool and Arsenal being two of many clubs monitoring Byram’s situation.