Leeds players on the culture change they’re now facing

Leeds United's Head Coach Darko Milanic
Leeds United's Head Coach Darko Milanic
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Striker Steve Morison says Darko Milanic’s reign as Leeds United head coach will take time to click, admitting some of the club’s players are going through a culture change in adapting to the Slovenian’s methods.

Leeds fought back from a goal down to earn a point against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday, entering the international break on the back of two successive draws and with Milanic still looking for the first win of his tenure.

The former Sturm Graz boss took charge of United on September 23 – a permanent replacement for David Hockaday – and assumed control of a cosmopolitan squad made up of numerous new signings and different nationalities.

Eight foreign players were included in his line-up at the weekend but the strongest performance of Milanic’s three games in charge saw the club secure a 1-1 draw through a late goal from Italian defender Giuseppe Bellusci.

Milanic was afforded little time on the training field during his first fortnight as boss but he will now have two clear weeks to work with his squad before the Championship season resumes on October 17.

Morison, who played as a substitute in the last 10 minutes of Saturday’s derby at Elland Road, said: “Every manager needs time. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

“Normally a manager comes into a team that isn’t doing very well. It’s a bit different with the latest manager in that he came in on the back of us winning three from four.

“We thought ‘let’s just carry that on’ but it changed a little bit and I’d say it hasn’t been as good. I don’t know if everyone agrees with that but it hasn’t been as good in the last three games as it was in the three before that.

“He’s still finding his feet and finding the right way to manage us. There are different nationalities in the changing room - lots of different people and personalities. There are young players, experienced players, and it’ll take time because he’s used to doing it his way at the teams where he’s been before.”

Milanic, who won nine domestic trophies as coach of Slovenian club Maribor and left Sturm Graz in the Austrian Bundesliga to become United’s head coach, reached the international break with Leeds in 15th place after two draws and a defeat from his three games in charge.

Morison revealed the differences between Milanic’s continental approach and those of Hockaday and caretaker boss Neil Redfearn, saying: “Training is different. It isn’t as intense or as hard as we (British footballers) are used to.

“We worked very hard under Dave Hockaday in the summer and that continued early in the season, even though results didn’t go our way.

“Neil Redfearn came in and we worked extremely hard. This manager’s come in and it’s been a lot more tactical.

“You know what our game is born and bred on - it’s running around, working hard. So it’s been hard for us to adjust whereas the lads from abroad, it’s what they’re used to.

“We ask them ‘is this what you normally do?’ and they reply ‘yes’. We were out on Friday for hardly any time at all and we were standing around thinking ‘can we have a five-a-side game?’

“We’re used to that competitiveness in training. We train and smash each other, it’s as physical as on a matchday. The (the foreign players) say ‘be careful, don’t do this’ but we want to win a five-a-side on a Friday as much as we want to win on a Saturday. It’s just different and it’s going to take time for everyone to get used to it.”

Milanic speaks several languages, including English, and was appointed by owner and president Massimo Cellino in part because of his ability to communicate with a diverse dressing room.

“It can be tough with the language sometimes,” Morison said. “You’ll get, for example, the manager talking in Italian to the Italian boys and explaining something. We’re stood there after a couple of minutes saying ‘we don’t understand. What are we doing?’

“They say ‘sorry, sorry’ and explain it. That’s fine. And to be fair to the Italian lads, they’re trying really, really hard to speak English. They’re all doing lessons.”

Cellino took in the second half of Saturday’s derby from the end of the tunnel at Elland Road, watching closely as Leeds fought for a late winner.

Including Redfearn, United have managed by three different coaches this season and four since Cellino bought a majority stake in the club in April but Morison believes stability is returning to Elland Road.

“Anything can happen here, we’ve seen that so far this season,” he said. “That keeps us on our toes.

“The flipside of that is that the president has got the club stable financially. That’s been one of the main issues here. He’s put things in place that will be good for the club in the future.

“As it was always going to, things have settled down now. Fans have expectations and sometimes they’re unrealistic, considering where we were not long ago. But no-one is talking about relegation or looking over our shoulders - which is a good place to be in.”