Are there any benefits of managing Leeds under its current ownership?

Elland Road pitchside

Steve Evans looks set to stay at Leeds United for the foreseeable future, but are there any benefits of managing the club under the current ownership?

 

Last weekend, former striker Paul Dickov said that Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino had brought a few positives to Elland Road, but he was critical of Cellino's treatment of Uwe Rosler, who was removed from the dugout after just 12 games in charge of the Yorkshire giants. He went as far as saying that he could not understand how a manager could perform to the best of their ability under the working conditions that the controversial Italian has enforced throughout his time in football.

 

Just over 48 hours had passed since Dickov's comments and it appeared as though Steve Evans would be the next man to leave the Yorkshire giants after Leeds succumbed to a 4-0 defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion. It was an abysmal first-half showing that led to suggestions that Cellino would pull the trigger on another managerial change, but he has since insisted Evans will remain at the helm - for now.

 

Regardless of whether Evans remains for one game, two games or until the end of the season and beyond, the speculation that followed the club's heavy setback on the South Coast highlighted everything that is wrong with how the managerial position at Leeds is seen at the moment. There's almost an inevitability that sooner rather than later, Evans is going to be sacked and another new face brought in but how does Evans or the football club benefit from such insecurity?

 

Since Brian McDermott left in June 2014, Cellino has made five different appointments - six if you include Neil Redfearn in caretaker charge - with the longest reign lasting just 33 matches. If we are to look at Leeds' results since that same month, there have been just 26 victories from 86 games in all competitions, with 34 defeats and 26 draws. That's an overall win percentage of 30.23%.

 

If one manager had achieved that over a course of 86 fixtures, he would expect to be removed from his position, but the fact that this has come from six different reigns highlights that it is Cellino who is halting Leeds' development and not the managers. This is something that supporters of the Lilywhites will only be too aware of but the short-lived stints are harming the careers of the men placed in charge too.

 

Dave Hockaday was put in a position where he had to take Cellino's offer. The appointment was so far left-field that the former Forest Green Rovers chief would not have been on a list of a 100 possible choices, but he got the job and he lasted six games. His hiring and subsequent firing left his managerial career tainted and he now looks on course to suffer relegation with Kidderminster Harriers from the National League. He is unlikely to manage in the Football League again.

 

After Redfearn went four games unbeaten, Darko Milanic was brought in. The Slovenian was highly-rated but unproven in English football and six winless games later, he suffered the same fate as Hockaday. He has today returned to Maribor - the scene of his most successful period in management - but he too will never return to England.

 

Redfearn was the next man in line, this time being trusted on a permanent basis, but he is now effectively on the managerial scrapheap after losing two jobs in 54 games - at both Leeds and Rotherham United. Finally, the correct choice appeared to be made when Uwe Rosler moved to Elland Road after spells with Brentford and Wigan Athletic, but his departure rocked Leeds. He had only won twice in 12 games, but it signalled a lack of trust between manager and owner. Regardless of Rosler's results, he barely had a chance to fully implement any plans he had for the squad.

 

The same can be said of Evans, or any future occupant of the dugout. As of right now, Evans is not in the position to configure any strategy for a summer in the transfer market because he doesn't know if he will be at Elland Road and he has no idea whether some of the club's key men will commit themselves to the Championship outfit when they know they will receive interest from the Premier League. Lewis Cook, Charlie Taylor and Alex Mowatt are all said to be in negotiations to extend their existing deals past 2017, but why would you sign anything when you have no guarantees over who your manager will be and you can secure better terms if you wait until the summer?

 

Such an environment has been created at Leeds where no-one is benefiting from Cellino's ownership - not even Cellino himself. He has promised to spend money on new players in the summer but that is not going to solve the problems that he has created for himself. He has a choice of maintaining faith in Evans and allowing him to build a team or axing the former Rotherham United chief and trying to attract the biggest name possible who is willing to put his career at risk in an unlikely attempt to get Leeds back into the Premier League.

 

While Leeds remain one of the most famous clubs in English football, it's realistically an impossible task for Cellino to attract a suitable candidate, someone who isn't desperate to break into management, because he won't be given assurances that he will get at least a season in charge, and even if he did, he might not necessarily believe what he is being told. That's the biggest problem at Leeds - the trust between manager and owner.

 

Evans has his doubters, but he shouldn't be told that he can't speak to the media after the game and he should receive more respect than having to spend a long trip back to Yorkshire wondering whether he will have a job the next morning. He's in the middle of a poor run right now but is it any wonder when you never know where you stand? Neither Evans or any replacement will fulfil the potential or expectations at Leeds with Cellino lurking behind him after their every mistake and they will remain at the second tier until Cellino takes a back seat and can entice a seasoned, experienced boss who will be given a number of years to bring back the glory days to the club.

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