McDermott: I want chance to succeed

Leeds United manager Brian McDermott
Leeds United manager Brian McDermott
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BRIAN McDERMOTT last night pleaded to be given an opportunity by whoever takes charge of Leeds United.

Elland Road has been in a permanent state of flux since the United manager’s apparent ‘sacking’ by prospective owner Massimo Cellino a week ago.

McDermott returned to the club on Monday morning but that merely served as a prelude to more dramatic twists and turns as key members of two rival consortiums joined forces to try to pip Cellino in the race to buy a majority stake in the Championship club.

Those attempts failed when Andrew Flowers, previously the leader of the Sport Capital consortium that included managing director David Haigh, walked away.

And while former Sheffield United and Sunderland marketing chief Mike Farnan remains committed along with partners Adam Pearson and Gary Verity to doing a deal, sources have indicated to the Yorkshire Post that Cellino remains firmly in pole position.

If the Miami-based 57-year-old, who it emerged this week has lent the club £1.5m, can conclude his purchase of United, McDermott’s future will immediately be placed in doubt due to Cellino having previously instructed lawyer Chris Farnell to dismiss him from his role as Elland Road manager.

McDermott, whose side take on Yeovil Town live on Sky TV tomorrow, said: “My vision is to get the club back where it belongs.

“I would imagine the owner’s vision would be to get the club back to where it belongs, so we have definitely got common ground there

“I think you have got to look at someone’s track record and what they have done over a period of time. I have been in football for 35 years.

“You always want a chance. I want to give whoever comes in a chance as well.

“Everyone can have pre-conceived ideas – me, a new owner, whoever. But until you start working together, you don’t know if it can work.

“If Mr Cellino owns the club, it is very important that the manager and the owner have respect and that they get on and can work together. The manager and the owner are the most important relationship at a club, it has got to be really tight.

“Relationships take time. You have to work on it; you don’t get on great when you don’t know each other.

“But I want to be Leeds United manager and my agenda is for us to be successful. I will do whatever I have to and as long as there is mutual respect, I will have no problem with that at all.”

The on-going ownership saga at Elland Road comes amid increasing concerns over the state of United’s finances.

Officials at Gulf Finance House, the Bahraini investment bank that bought out Ken Bates a little over 13 months ago, have not attempted to disguise the fact that Leeds are operating at a loss.

Last year’s accounts are yet to be published, but it is understood that United lost in the region of £11m during the financial year to June 30, 2013.

Those losses have continued in the 2013-14 season, with Leeds having accepted several loans – a number from managing director Haigh – over the past six months.

The most recent of those loans came just last week when Cellino, who unconfirmed reports in Italy last night suggested has sold Serie A club Cagliari, lent the Yorkshire outfit £1.5m.

Further evidence that United’s finances are in a poor state has come this week courtesy of several local businesses contacting this newspaper to allege that invoices are not being paid.

Follow-up requests for payment are, the businessmen claim, being met with the explanation that nothing can be done until a takeover of the club is finalised.

GFH was approached to comment, but did not respond.

McDermott admits to being in the dark about what is happening in terms of the ownership saga.

But he is also in no doubt as to how important the relationship between the manager and the owner is at any football club.

The Leeds chief said: “I have been there before. It happened to me at Reading (when Anton Zingarevich bought a majority stake). I didn’t deal with it particularly well last time.

“We had a new owner come in and I said at the time that I thought I’d have to win every game to keep my job. Actually, we did that and we won the league, so that was good.

“For me, the most important thing is the job here. I am sitting here as Leeds United manager.

“Whoever takes the club over, we have to – if I am going to be manager – work together. That goes both ways.

“I have to work with whoever the owner is and the owner has to work with me. The relationship between the owner and the manager is key.

“I have spoken before about (former Reading chairman) Sir John Madejski and the relationship I had with him and how successful we were.

“To be successful, the owner has to get on with and work with the manager, and vice versa. Mutual respect is so important for me. If I get respect, I will give respect. Whoever it (the owner) might be, that is the criteria and it is very simple.”

Amid the chaos of last weekend, Leeds did earn a morale-boosting victory over derby rivals Huddersfield Town.

Not only did that 5-1 triumph bring the smiles back to Elland Road, it also ended a six-week wait for a victory – a run that had seen United tumble from the Championship play-off places to mid-table.

McDermott added: “It would be wrong to say it is normal here because this is not normal. We need normality. We are trying to get that back. I went out on the training pitch (yesterday), the lads trained and it was great. That is normal.

“This isn’t particularly normal because we keep talking about the ownership. I was sacked last week. Then I was sat back here again. That wasn’t normal.

“It was going very, very well at this football club. But, over the last three weeks, it has been very, very difficult.

“It now needs to become clear. We need to know who the owner is and (then) we can move on. What has happened in a short period of time is that everyone has got into a place that is not good.”

richard.sutcliffe@ypn.co.uk

Sutcliffe on Football: Page 22.