Fans are banking on Cellino to drag Leeds back from the abyss

Leeds United chairman Massimo Cellino sits in the dugout with manager Brian McDermott ahead of the recent Watford game. (Picture: Tony Marshall/PA Wire).
Leeds United chairman Massimo Cellino sits in the dugout with manager Brian McDermott ahead of the recent Watford game. (Picture: Tony Marshall/PA Wire).
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NOTHING out of the ordinary happened at Leeds United yesterday. Or the day before, for that matter.

Usually, this would not be considered worthy of mention in The Yorkshire Post, even in the quietest of weeks never mind one that has seen a club from the county reach its first FA Cup final just as a pivotal Easter football programme homes into view.

But this is Leeds United, a club that since the turn of the year has been beyond parody.

To recap, Elland Road has seen a little bit of everything since bidding farewell to 2013 with United looking, as laughable as it seems now, a decent bet for a play-off place.

Court cases, police investigations, failed takeovers, judicial appeals, wage deferrals and the ‘is he-isn’t he sacked?’ farce involving Brian McDermott on transfer deadline day are just some of the ‘delights’ that an increasingly bewildered band of supporters have had to digest.

Throw in some truly shocking football on the pitch and the first quarter or so of 2014 has been one that no one of a Leeds persuasion will surely recall with anything but a shudder.

But what now?

The past 48 hours may have been uncharacteristically quiet in LS11, but that is not to say nothing is happening. For a start, Massimo Cellino’s new regime continue to pick their way through the shell of a club left behind after 15 ruinous months under GFH Capital.

Last week saw the taxman paid, along with a playing squad that was still owed 35 per cent of March’s wages. It is also understood the quarterly rent bill for both Elland Road and the club’s Thorp Arch training ground was late, but has since been settled.

Further liabilities will follow, with the seven-figure sum owed to David Haigh, who quit last week as managing director, understood to be requiring repayment by the end of the month.

Invoices that have been sat in the in-tray for several weeks will also have to be waded through as Cellino and his inner circle try to get United back on an even keel.

As important as the finances are, though, they are far from the only area that needs immediate attention. Just who, for instance, is going to run the club on a day-to-day basis?

Cellino, from both his deeds in charge of Cagliari and his public utterances so far in England, is clearly someone who leads from the front. But the 57-year-old Italian, after his first week at the helm, is now back in Miami and United need a safe pair of hands on the ground at Elland Road.

Ken Bates may have run Leeds from Monaco, but he could not have done that for eight and a half years without Shaun Harvey attending to the day-to-day problems that inevitably arise for a business with an annual turnover approaching £30m.

Cellino needs the same, as events last week surrounding Bradford City’s attempts to extend Adam Drury’s loan stay proved.

The Bantams tried, in vain, for several days to get a decision out of Elland Road before, with just a couple of hours to go before the deadline to extend the left-back’s time at Valley Parade was due to expire, a breakthrough was made.

In terms of the chaos that has engulfed Leeds in recent months, on the surface this seems a minor point. But, if United are to function once again as a football club, it is surely imperative that employees – be they the ticket office, the commercial department or the football staff at Thorp Arch – have someone to go to for an instant decision.

The smart money seems to be on Daniel Arty, a director of Eleonora Sport and a trusted confidant of Cellino, filling that role, but clarification would help both staff and supporters.

The same goes for the manager’s position. Is McDermott the best man, in Cellino’s mind, to lead United next season? If so, fine. Let him get on with what is surely going to be a major overhaul of a squad that, with a couple of notable exceptions, is achingly short of quality and will have nine members out of contract in June.

But if not – and with Leeds having all but assured safety by reaching 50 points – then surely a decision would be better made sooner rather than later.

Cellino has made all the right public noises so far. His views on how United have been, for want of a better word, ‘run’ have certainly struck a chord with supporters.

This much was evident last Wednesday, his first day in Yorkshire since buying a majority stake.

Twitter was full of Cellino images, invariably doing the Leeds ‘salute’ with his other arm around a supporter as he, first, enjoyed a pint in the pub that sits across from Elland Road and then enjoyed a stroll round the city centre during the evening.

It was a similar story a couple of hours after Leeds had beaten Blackpool on Saturday, his every stride across the main concourse of Leeds railway station being interrupted by fans desperate for a photo with the new man.

For Cellino, such a welcome was an inkling as to the gratitude fans feel over him sinking millions into United to drag the club back from the abyss.

Spark a true revival, however, and the Italian will surely never have to buy a drink again in his adopted city.