Protest march by Leeds fans ‘won’t distract Redfearn’

Neil Redfearn
Neil Redfearn
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A PROTEST march planned for your first home game in charge is hardly ideal.

For Neil Redfearn, however, the prospect of hundreds of supporters voting with their feet by walking from the city centre to Elland Road to call for a change in how United are run is something he refuses to worry about.

Not with three points at stake and the chance to further strengthen his hold on a job that, Ken Bates confirmed earlier this week, will remain in the 46-year-old’s grasp for at least another three games.

“You have to cut yourself off from it,” insists the Leeds caretaker manager when asked about a march that was arranged before the sacking of Simon Grayson a little over a week ago.

“There is no other way. The thing for me that matters is the game against Brighton, nothing else. A lot of people will have paid good money to watch their club and want us to put on a performance for them. That can’t change. The lads are focused and switched on about what they need to do so that is how we move forward.”

Redfearn’s determination to ignore everything but what happens on the field is understandable. This is, after all, his big chance to land a job that, judging by the quality of applications that have flooded in since Grayson’s sacking, is coveted by a host of managers.

The 46-year-old has been in charge of the Under-18s at Elland Road, combining the role with that of reserve team manager. His previous experience of managing in the senior game is, therefore, restricted to a couple of stints in temporary charge of Halifax Town and a year at the helm of Scarborough in the Conference.

Both jobs were tough, the perilous state of their finances perhaps being best illustrated by both the Shaymen and the Seadogs having since folded under the burden of eye-watering debts.

Redfearn admits the contrast between taking temporary charge of Leeds and his time at both The Shay and the McCain Stadium could not be more marked.

He said: “I am an experienced guy and I have had good experiences and bad experiences. All sorts of things can benefit you and not just the good experiences. You learn from bad experiences and it shapes the way you are.

“This is a totally different set of circumstances to the jobs I have done in the past. If you are working with players or at a club that is struggling and where players are lacking in confidence then it can be difficult.

“But I don’t think that is the case at this club.”

Since stepping in following the departure of Grayson, Redfearn has been publicly backed by several first-team players. In Monday’s Yorkshire Post, for instance, Ross McCormack advocated giving the job full-time to the reserve team chief, a call Andy Lonergan repeated later in the week.

Redfearn said: “It has been nice to hear the players backing me because it means you have made an impression on people. The players are the most important people at the club because if they play well, the club benefits.”

Leeds will go into tomorrow’s match sitting just a point adrift of the play-offs. Another win to add to the three points claimed from the trip to Bristol City that marked Redfearn’s first game in temporary charge could, therefore, be enough to earn a return to the top six for the first time since before Christmas.

It would also set the club up nicely for a week that will see Leeds take on two of the bottom three, Tuesday’s trip to Coventry City being followed by a Yorkshire derby at home to Doncaster Rovers a week tomorrow.

For Redfearn, two home games either side of a trip to the club propping up the Championship offers a golden opportunity to press his claims for an extension to his time in charge.

He said: “The chairman has been great. I have spoken to him a few times and he has outlined everything.

“He’s got a decision to make about who to bring in or what he’s going to do and hopefully this might give him a bit of time to make the transition easier.

“He has been really helpful and if I needed any advice he was there to speak to.

“It is a great honour and a privilege for the chairman of a club like Leeds United to think that way about me.

“There are a lot of people I respect and I want to do my best for them, whatever happens.”

Asked if the speculation surrounding who will be Grayson’s successor was proving a distraction, Redfearn replied: “No, not at all.

“Anyway, the bottom line is no-one knows. You can speculate as much as you want but no-one knows. Only the powers that be know which direction the club are going to go in.

“I have been asked to do a job and I haven’t looked beyond that. It is a real honour to be in charge of the club for whatever length of time.

“I can understand that some fans may want a big name or a high-profile name. But whoever comes in or does the job, I firmly believe it is not about the manager. Instead, it is about the players and that will always be the case.

“The manager sets things up but once you come to 3pm on a Saturday then it is about the 11 players on the pitch.

“Having said that, I will give everything I have got. While I am here doing this role, all I want is to pick up as many points as we can.”