AFTER what can only be considered as the latest in a series of wasted seasons for Leeds United, Brian McDermott’s future remains far from clear.
A meeting with new owner Massimo Cellino, who has flown back into England from his base in Miami, next week could bring clarity, but until then Elland Road remains very much shrouded in uncertainty.
This, though, has not stopped McDermott planning for 2014-15 with the United chief admitting ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Birmingham that he has very firm ideas as to the lines along which the squad needs to be rebuilt.
Asked whether concrete plans were in place as to who he wants to cut from the Leeds squad, McDermott replied: “I am certain. But the players will be the first to know when that happens.
“The likes of Jack (Butland) will go back to Stoke and then we will assess everything in the summer.
“The owner prefers – and I prefer – to get permanent signings rather than loan players.
“You can get a loan player, but with a view to signing them at the end of that deal. That is the ideal scenario.
“There is a massive amount of work, full stop. We have got to get going.
“We know what the pre-season will look like, in terms of the schedule. We don’t know where we are going to go and we have got to arrange games. That has got to be done and that will probably be done next week.”
No less than eight Leeds players will be out of contract this summer, including Danny Pugh, Paul Green, El-Hadji Diouf and Michael Brown.
Another dozen, headed by Paddy Kenny and Rodolph Austin, are about to enter the final year of existing deals.
With Butland and Crystal Palace’s Jimmy Kebe also set to return to their parent clubs once the campaign ends, that could provide leeway for whoever is in charge to launch a drastic overhaul.
On whether he will be the man to lead that rebuilding job, McDermott replied: “That decision is going to be up to Massimo. All I am doing is concentrating on this game and nothing else. Nothing else can detract from that.
“That (decision) is not in my hands, really. That is for someone else. That will happen sooner rather than later, I am sure.”
Steve Morison, who has been on loan at Millwall all season, is another whose future will have to be decided in the summer with the striker contracted to Leeds until the summer of 2016.
On the future, McDermott added: “The manager of Leeds United needs to have that (ability to decide on players). It is so important to be able to just talk about the football.
“We need a season where that can be done, starting this summer. Talking about football, nothing else, and having stability.”
As underwhelming as this season has been for Leeds, the one saving grace is that the recent back-to-back wins over Blackpool and Barnsley have ended any chances of the club being dragged into relegation trouble.
Birmingham, tomorrow’s opponents, have not been as fortunate with a truly awful home record behind Lee Clark’s men sitting fourth bottom of the Championship as they host Leeds.
The Blues have won just twice at St Andrews in 21 league games, meaning the Midlands club are certain to set a new unwanted record for the lowest number of home wins in a season – comfortably below the previous worst of five set in 1985-86.
That woeful campaign, which saw Birmingham relegated from the top flight, included a 17-game winless run – a record that Clark’s men will equal if they fail to beat Leeds tomorrow.
Former Huddersfield Town manager Clark has tried everything to pep up his players, from changing formation and personnel through to how his squad prepare for matches.
None has worked, which is why the Blues, whose season has been played out to the background of owner Carson Yeung being jailed for money laundering in Hong Kong, last won at St Andrews on October 1 when Millwall were thumped 4-0.
McDermott, whose side beat Birmingham 4-0 at Elland Road in October, said: “One more game to go away from home, the season has gone incredibly quickly.
“I can’t believe how quickly that it has passed.
“We want to make sure we go there, put on a performance and get the right result.
“Any time you go away from home you try to keep the fans quiet. The start is vital and we need to start well (tomorrow). If we can do that, it will quieten the crowd down. I know we will be taking a good following again.
“We played well against Birmingham at home. We had a really good first half, solid in the second and scored some good goals.
“We played really well and it was one of our best performances of the season.
“But that game has gone. It was a long time ago.
“Lots of things have happened in that time and Birmingham are in a situation now where they still need points.”