NEIL REDFEARN brushed off speculation about his future as Leeds United head coach last night, claiming he had the backing of Massimo Cellino and saying his owner shared responsibility for the club’s relegation fight.
Redfearn dismissed suggestions that he was under threat after 10 games in charge, describing Cellino as “happy with the way we’re playing” and insisting that blame for United’s league form should not be laid solely at his door.
Leeds play Sunderland in the FA Cup tomorrow but they will resume their Championship season next weekend just a point above the division’s bottom three after five matches without a win.
Frustration with United’s results earlier in the year led Cellino to sack former head coaches David Hockaday and Darko Milanic after just six competitive games in the job.
Redfearn became Leeds’ third full-time boss this season when Cellino named him as Milanic’s replacement on November 1.
United have accrued eight points from 10 league fixtures since then and a report on Tuesday said Cellino - presently abroad in Miami and not expected to return to England until next Friday - was considering removing Redfearn from his post.
Redfearn took on a contract until the end of the season when he stepped up from his previous role as academy manager, negotiating a deal which gave him the option of a second year as head coach.
The contract also included a provision for the 49-year-old to return to his old academy job if his time as first-team boss failed to work out.
Sources at Elland Road have denied that Redfearn’s position is in danger and speaking ahead of tomorrow’s third-round tie at Sunderland, Redfearn said: “Obviously he (Cellino) can’t be happy with getting beat every week but he’s happy with the way we’re playing.
“He understands it’s a process and he understands it’s not just me. He’s part of that process. Our set-up here’s different. I’m a head coach, I’m not a manager. We have a president and we have a technical director (Nicola Salerno) who signs players. The make-up of what we do is different to other clubs.
“But it comes with the territory - if you get a couple of defeats then people are going to speculate. These things will be mooted about. But I don’t worry about it. There’s no point.”
With the January transfer window officially opening today, Redfearn spoke again about his preference for signings who add “Championship experience” to United’s squad.
Eight of the 15 recruits who came to Elland Road in the summer window arrived from abroad and most of the players linked with Leeds this month - including three definite targets, Sassuolo’s Leonardo Pavoletti, Inter Milan’s Rene Krhin and Livorno’s Andrey Galabinov - currently play in foreign leagues.
“Massimo’s got his ideas and he’s got one or two players up his sleeve,” Redfearn said. “I’ve had input about where we need to strengthen too. We do lack Championship experience. It’s something we have to try and address.
“For me it’s about getting the balance right between the overseas boys and having experience and strength at this level; players who can cope at this level. I’ve had my input but it’s up to Massimo ultimately.
“I think it’s different here to what they (the foreign players) expected. Technically they’re more than capable. You see that on their day. Some of the stuff they produce is better than this level, when you look at the games where we’ve played well and won.
“But the Championship is relentless. It grinds teams down and if you’ve not got the make-up right, it becomes difficult.
“The young boys here have been outstanding for us but it might be at a point now where we’ve got to look after them and think about their development and their future. It’s a big ask to keep playing them week in, week out.”