Leeds fans saw my exit for what it was, reflects Redfearn

New Rotherham United manager Neil Redfearn will be back at Elland Road tomorrow (Picture: Jason Chadwick).
New Rotherham United manager Neil Redfearn will be back at Elland Road tomorrow (Picture: Jason Chadwick).
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When Ron Atkinson took charge of Nottingham Forest for the first time at the City Ground in January 1999, he got off to a terrible start by climbing into the wrong dugout.

Rotherham United manager Neil Redfearn would be forgiven for doing the same when he returns to Elland Road tomorrow.

Redfearn, boosted by the addition of former Reading defender Stephen Kelly on Thursday, takes the Millers to a ground that holds incredible significance for him.

By his own admission, he was a boyhood Leeds fan, as was proved by a photograph of him in a yellow kit posted to Twitter shortly after his appointment as head coach in October 2014.

Given his long-standing involvement with the Whites, first as Under-18 manager, then Academy manager and, finally, as head coach, it would be understandable for Redfearn to be bitter about the manner of his departure.

His assistant manager, Steve Thompson, was suspended, and Redfearn was never officially dismissed as head coach prior to the appointment of Uwe Rosler, who has since departed.

When asked if he still has negative feelings over how he left, Redfearn said: “No, but it wasn’t right. It doesn’t need me to explain that, it’s common knowledge. These things happen.

“The Leeds United fans saw it for what it was. They were witnessing what was happening. It was not right at the top, and is probably still not right at the top.

“The thing is with football fans, because everything is under a microscope now, they do not miss anything. I don’t lie. I tell the truth. I think that’s what they took to in the end. They didn’t want to be lied to anymore.”

Looking ahead to tomorrow, Redfearn is clearly aware of the emotions the match might drum up in him, but said he had to “concentrate on Rotherham United on Saturday”.

He added: “It’ll be a bit strange. Obviously I’ve been in the other dugout. It’s a club where I spent the best part of seven years. Seven successful years, if you look at the kids that came through.

“I know I might be biased, but they are some of the best young players in the country, in my opinion. I had the foresight to put them in the team, initially, and they’ve gone on and kicked on.”

However, that is not to say Redfearn is fearful of what Leeds could have in store for his side, as he believes there is an underestimation of Rotherham.

He continued: “It is a big game, and Leeds United are there to be shot at. Everybody is giving us no chance of winning it, everyone is saying it’s a foregone conclusion – well, great.

“It’s a good position for us to be coming from. I know from the work over the last two weeks, and the players we’ve brought in and how we’ve performed in the friendly games, we look different now.”

Part of the appeal of tomorrow’s game is the fact Redfearn has swapped jobs with Steve Evans, who had three successful years as Rotherham manager. The two last spoke when Evans was appointed as Leeds head coach, “just to say good luck”, according to Redfearn, but he admits the club’s levels of expectation are very different.

He said: “Every game should be the same process; you go out to win it and if you can’t win it, you try not to get beat.

“There’s three results in football, two that are acceptable and one that is not.

“As daft as it seems, at a big club like Leeds United, there are two results that are not acceptable. A draw is not good enough, you have to win.”