BRIAN McDermott paid tribute to Leeds United’s board for standing by him in a difficult week after he sealed the transfer of Cameron Stewart and lined up a deal for Jimmy Kebe.
McDermott said the club had avoided an “overreaction” to Saturday’s FA Cup defeat at Rochdale and expressed gratitude for the backing which will see at least two new players in his squad at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.
Leeds signed Stewart on a 93-day loan from Hull City yesterday – a move which will become permanent in the summer – and Kebe’s switch from Crystal Palace was set to be confirmed this morning.
United hoped to announce the 29-year-old Mali international as their second signing within hours of Stewart’s arrival but the completion of formalities should see Kebe arrive at Elland Road today until the end of the season.
McDermott was anxious to bring new players to the club after a 2-0 defeat to Rochdale last weekend left him facing up to FA Cup elimination and three losses back-to-back.
The United manager apologised for his team’s performance at Spotland but said: “The important thing for me was that inside the club there was no overreaction to the result. Everybody knows that Rochdale wasn’t what we’re about and everybody knows it wasn’t good enough. We let people down. But with the owners, the only reaction was ‘let’s try and make things better. Let’s help and support.’ That’s what you’ve seen from them.”
Stewart became United’s first January signing after he turned down an offer from Charlton Athletic to come to West Yorkshire. Football League rules prohibited him from taking up a half-season loan or an immediate permanent contract but he has already agreed a three-year deal which will begin at Leeds when his contract with Hull runs out in the summer.
The 22-year-old winger is in line to start at Hillsborough tomorrow and McDermott said: “I’ve known him since he was a young player coming through.
“He’s a winger with pace and good feet and he did well against us when we played Charlton earlier in the season. On a technicality we’ve got him for 93 days but he’s our player. He’s going to be signing for us (permanently). That’s a deal done.”
While the terms of Stewart’s initial transfer mean he would be unavailable for the play-offs should United finish inside the Championship’s top six, Kebe’s loan will cover the rest of the Championship term
Leeds have a provision to sign him long-term from Palace if they win promotion this season and his move north has reunited him with McDermott, the manager who used him to great effect at Reading.
McDermott scouted Kebe in France and was credited with inspiring his finer performances at the Madejski Stadium but the Leeds boss said: “I didn’t make him. He made himself. I showed faith in him but he did fantastically well. He’s got pace to burn and he scored and made a lot of goals. He’s a two-way player who can go forward and defend.
“Teams have been coming onto us in the past few games and we’ve struggled to get away from them when the ball’s changed hands. The players coming in give us that pace. We’ve got ball carriers now and that’s important.”
With Stewart signed and Kebe set to join, McDermott said he was no longer interested in bringing former United player of the year Max Gradel back from St Etienne.