Owners urged to take more care when recruiting

THE chief executive of the League Managers’ Association last night described Leeds United’s managerial upheaval as “unsustainable” and called on club owners to take more care during the recruitment process.

GONE: Darko Milanic was sacked by Leeds United on Saturday evening.  Picture: Bruce Rollinson.
GONE: Darko Milanic was sacked by Leeds United on Saturday evening. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

Darko Milanic’s departure on Saturday night after just 32 days in the job means the Elland Road club have sacked three managers/head coaches since May.

Neil Redfearn, who has been in charge of United three times in an interim role, will take the reins on a permanent basis and supporters will be hoping the popular Academy chief is given time to get things right.

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Whether the 49-year-old former midfielder will be afforded that precious commodity remains to be seen, however, with Leeds president Massimo Cellino’s reputation in his native Italy as a “manager eater” being underlined by there having been 36 managerial changes during his 22 years at the helm of Serie A side Cagliari.

For LMA chief Richard Bevan, such upheaval is not compatible with success in football and he has called on owners in general to show more restraint.

When asked about the recent events at Elland Road, Bevan told The Yorkshire Post: “Clearly a key point to make with Leeds is that a model of appointing a manager and then giving that individual just six matches is simply unsustainable – which is what not only happened with Darko Milanic this season but also David Hockaday.

“While you have specifically highlighted Leeds’s case, unfortunately this record (21 managers have lost their job this term) is not the kind of landmark we want to see across the game as a whole – particularly when combining this with more than 40 coaches who have also lost their jobs.”

Jose Riga last night became the latest managerial casualty when he was sacked by Blackpool.

Bevan added: “In the Championship, there are currently only four managers who have been in their job for 18 months or more, and none who have been there for more than two and a half years.

“Therefore, such statistics highlight just how important the recruitment process is when appointing a new manager.

“The LMA believes that to give the greatest chance of success, owners have to examine their manager recruitment process, set realistic targets for the manager and coaches and then take responsibility to manage expectations both within the club and amongst the supporters.

“Whatever the particular circumstances, the selection and appointment of the new manager is critical to the well-being of the club.

“In every case, whatever their league status, clubs are an integral part of the fabric of their local community.

“Once the board recruit a manager they owe it to him, themselves and the club to give him every opportunity to prove his worth and, ultimately, prove that they made the right choice in the first place.”

Former Huddersfield Town manager Lee Clark, sacked himself just last week by Birmingham City, is the early favourite to replace Riga at Bloomfield Road.

Reflecting on the record-breaking number of managerial changes this term, Bevan added: “There has already been an unprecedented amount of managerial moves this season and what the overall trend indicates is highlighting what is already common knowledge in that managers are simply not given enough time in their role.”

As for Leeds, Redfearn took training yesterday morning for the first time since Milanic’s departure.

“I had a meeting with the president,” said the club’s new permanent head coach. “Nothing has been put down in concrete. I just wanted to see how he saw it and how he viewed me going forward.

“What I don’t want this to be is a short-term thing, as that is no good to anyone. He said, ‘Look, I see you here for the long haul, I want you here with me’. He does not see that as a short-term, but a long-time thing.

“I have got to sort my contract out and we talked about things briefly, but not in any detail.

“Obviously, from my point of view, things have got to be right as I am in a position now where I have done well. I have got to make sure it is right.

“But I get on really well and work well with him. I understand him and where he is coming from. He is genuinely trying to do well for the club and I can go with that.”

Redfearn says he has a possible assistant in mind but was focused on Saturday’s trip to Cardiff.

Milanic, meanwhile, failed to win any of his first six games in charge and Cellino acted in the wake of Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers.

The Slovenian said: “I do not believe I made a mistake in joining Leeds. I just wish that someone would believe in me. Cellino said I am a loser. He should look at my CV.”