IT IS a question I get asked all the time when out and about representing The Yorkshire Post: What’s the latest news at Leeds United?”
Those enquiring are invariably associated with other clubs, be they rival chairmen, managers or supporters. The common bond is a fascination – or, in some cases, barely concealed amusement – at the often chaotic goings-on surrounding a club that is surely now beyond parody.
Before yesterday, the last time I had fielded so many questions about the Elland Road soap opera was in early June at the Football League annual general meeting in Portugal.
I was there to speak to the conference about media relations, giving the viewpoint of the regional press. It was not the easiest of rides, with some of the chairmen and chief executives present clearly having issues with their own local paper or radio station. But things seemed to go okay, so much so that several of the delegates came up for a chat afterwards over a beer.
Invariably, the conversation would wander eventually on to Leeds and what it was like covering a club where little ever seems to go smoothly.
I tried to strike an upbeat tone, saying how Leeds, at last, had a semblance of stability courtesy of two sound appointments in Adam Pearson and Uwe Rosler. And that the club had an altogether more professional feel behind the scenes, suggesting that lessons had been learned from a 2014-15 season that had bordered on farcical at times.
I did, though, then add as a caveat to this seemingly new air of calm in LS11 that the real test was not going to be the summer but, instead, when the football got under way and Massimo Cellino’s emotions returned to the fore.
Yesterday, I couldn’t help but think of those conversations in the Vilamoura sunshine as the pantomime season came early courtesy of another dramatic day at Elland Road that began with yet another change of manager and ended with the owner facing a second ban.
The turn of events once again left United as the laughing stock of English football thanks to the actions of an owner who has become the very embodiment of rash thinking.
Five managerial appointments in a little over 16 months is bad enough. But it is the lack of common ground between any of them that is perhaps most galling.
David Hockaday was crazily left field, as was Darko Milanic as Cellino opted to head down the foreign route. The Slovenian lasted just 32 days and six games before being replaced by Neil Redfearn, a man who knew the club inside out from six years in charge of the Academy. His removal in the summer came after a fall-out with Cellino.
Next came Rosler, an experienced and capable coach renowned for a methodical approach who relied heavily on statistics.
And now there is Steve Evans, a manager who gets results on the pitch but whose combustive style often brings discord off it – as was revealed by the Youtube footage of Crawley Town’s players, who Evans had led to the verge of the Football League, marking his departure for Rotherham United with an unflattering song about the Scot.
Player recruitment under Cellino has been equally haphazard, as a summer of looking abroad in 2014 was followed this year by targeting players with Championship know-how. The upshot of this muddled thinking is a squad that lacks balance and leaves fans short-changed once again.
No wonder the rest of football simply can’t get enough of the circus that Leeds United have become.