AHEAD of what could be his penultimate game in charge of Leeds United, head coach Neil Redfearn admits to being proud of keeping the Championship club clear of relegation trouble in difficult circumstances.
The Elland Road club have slumped to five straight defeats since the, as yet, unexplained removal of assistant manager Steve Thompson.
United are desperate to end that run at Sheffield Wednesday tomorrow, but there can be little doubt that this campaign is ending on a flat note, not helped by last week’s withdrawal of six Italian players claiming injury.
Redfearn’s own future appears shrouded in doubt with no talks having taken place over extending a contract that expires in June.
“I have been asked to do a job and I have done the job to the best of my ability,” said United’s head coach.
“My remit was to keep Leeds United in the Championship and I’ve done that.
“But I understand that football is not always straight-forward. I have got no god-given right to be in charge of Leeds United and the club and the powers-that-be are far more important than me.
“What it won’t do is change my view of people at Leeds and my time at Leeds.
“I have been on my own in the dugout (since Thompson left) but I have felt like I wasn’t. I felt like I had 20-odd thousand people in there with me.
“It has definitely helped me through this season.”
Last week’s late withdrawal of six players left supporters stunned and angry, as was made clear by chants from the 3,000 fans who travelled to Charlton Athletic last weekend.
The club subsequently released a statement insisting the injuries were genuine, but this has cut little ice with supporters.
Asked if he felt liberties had been taken by any of the absentees, Redfearn replied: “I’d like to think not. In my opinion, the players have all worked hard and it has been a difficult transition integrating players with different cultures and different backgrounds.
“But, by and large, they have integrated well. You would like to think that it was a freakish one-off event and you try and move on.”
As for the make-up of his team at Hillsborough, Redfearn replied: “I have always picked a team on merit. There have been odd times when we selected a side based on the opposition, Ipswich was a good example. But I pick a side on merit and a side that tries to win.”