Massimo Cellino is weighing up the potential cost of appointing Eamonn Dolan as Leeds United’s head coach ahead of his return from Italy.
Cellino is due back in England this Sunday having completed the sale of Cagliari on Tuesday night, and the Italian said his immediate priorities at Elland Road were to “pick a coach and finish the team for next season.”
United have been without a first-team boss since parting company with Brian McDermott a fortnight ago but the pressure for an appointment is growing steadily with the start of pre-season two weeks ago.
Dolan, Reading’s long-standing academy manager, is in line for the job at United after attracting Cellino’s attention, and Cellino said he had enquired about the 46-year-old in the past week.
But Reading reacted to speculation about Dolan’s position by stating on Tuesday that they were not willing to consider approaches for the former Republic of Ireland international, the head of Reading’s youth-team system for the past 10 years.
Dolan is under contract and any deal between Leeds and Reading would cost the Yorkshire club a six-figure fee in compensation.
Cellino has been cutting costs at Elland Road ever since his buy-out of Leeds in April and his deal to sever McDermott’s contract two years early is understood to have cost the club in the region of £750,000.
Cellino said: “You expect that a first-team coach will be under contract but I didn’t expect that an under-21 coach would cost a lot of money to take. In Italy things are different. I’m learning about the English game still.
“The money is something you have to think about. This coach, I enquired about him but we will see. I’m back in England (this week) and before choosing a coach I had to close the sale of Cagliari. That is done now.”
Dolan – the twin brother of Pat Dolan, the agent of McDermott who helped to negotiate his severance with Leeds – emerged as a serious contender for the job last weekend after Cellino said that he had arranged to meet three British coaches for talks.
But Reading’s director of football, Nicky Hammond, issued a pointed statement on Tuesday evening, saying: “Reading are aware of the interest of another Championship club in our academy manager Eamonn Dolan.
“Eamonn is an integral part of our club and is under contract to Reading. We do not welcome any approaches from any club for our key staff. We hope this is the end of the matter.”
Cellino did not explain how Dolan had come to his attention but the ex-West Ham United striker has been a fixture at Reading since taking charge of their junior development scheme in 2004.
Reading’s academy was awarded category one status under the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) last year.
Dave Hockaday, the ex-manager of Forest Green Rovers, remains in contention for the vacancy at Leeds with a deal for Dolan yet to be reached.
“I’ve said more than once that I want a British coach and that’s what Leeds will get,” Cellino said. “I know what I want to do and I won’t make the wrong choice.
“People say that I play with Leeds but now that I’ve closed the deal for Cagliari, Leeds are my future. I won’t make mistakes.”
Cellino, meanwhile, wants Nigel Gibbs – United’s assistant manager under McDermott – to remain with the club next season and play a role within the coaching staff.
Gibbs remains on the books at Leeds despite McDermott’s departure and he and Dolan were colleagues for several years at Reading.
“I like Nigel,” Cellino said. “If he wants to stay with us and work with us then he can. He’s a nice guy, a good coach.”