POLL: Cellino admits to error over Milanic as Redfearn returns

MASSIMO CELLINO is backing Leeds United’s new permanent head coach Neil Redfearn to bring back a winning mentality to Elland Road – after admitting he made a mistake in appointing Darko Milanic.

GONE: Darko Milanic was axed as Leeds United manager by owner Massimo Cellino shortly after Saturday's 2-1 home defeat to Wolves. Picture: Steve Riding.

The Slovenian’s tenure came to an abrupt end after just 32 days when he was sacked following United’s 2-1 home loss to Wolves on Saturday, with Academy chief Redfearn quickly named by 
Cellino as his full-time successor.

The 49-year-old Yorkshireman, who has taken charge of Leeds on a caretaker basis on three previous occasions, becomes Leeds’s third permanent head coach of the 2014-15 season, just 14 matches into the Championship campaign.

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United president Cellino decided to fire Milanic, unveiled as head coach on a two-year-deal on September 23 after quitting his role at Austrian outfit Sturm Graz, in the immediate aftermath of Saturday’s defeat.

The result extended Milanic’s winless run in charge to six games, with Leeds amassing just three points from a possible 18 under his watch.

Prior to Milanic’s arrival, Redfearn had presided over four unbeaten matches during his temporary stint in charge after the sacking of David Hockaday on August 28 – taking 10 points out of 12.

Despite previously stating that his desire was for Redfearn to continue his valuable work with the academy, effectively ruling him out of his thoughts regarding the full-time head coach role, Cellino has now had a change of heart.

It has been prompted by 
Milanic’s run without a win, with Cellino critical of what he viewed to be the “losing mentality” of the 46-year-old, who, like Hockaday, lasted just six games at the helm.

Cellino said: “Neil Redfearn will be head coach, 100 per cent. He will take training (today) and the job is his.

“The players know him, they respect him and they play for him.

“He plays attacking football, he plays the football we want to play, and he gets results.

“This guy (Milanic) had a losing mentality. He never played like he wanted to win.”

Redfearn takes over a side who find themselves in 18th place in the Championship, with Leeds facing a tough trip to bogey team Cardiff on Saturday, followed by back-to-back home matches with Charlton and Blackpool.

Leeds were in 11th spot, just two points away from the play-off positions, following the final match of Redfearn’s caretaker spell, a 3-0 win over Huddersfield on September 20.

But now they find themselves just five points above the drop zone.

Despite being the first to admit he made a mistake in hindsight in appointing Milanic, Cellino insists he does not regret overlooking Redfearn for the head coach position last month as he believed that the Slovenian’s credentials marked him out as the stronger candidate.

But what he saw over the course of Milanic’s six games at the helm changed his views, heightened by Leeds’s second-half descent against Wolves when the visitors turned the tables and dominated on the restart after trailing 1-0 at the break.

Asked if he regretted overlooking Redfearn for the head coach’s job last month, Cellino said: “No, because I had heard good things about Milanic.

“He had a good record, he looked like a good coach. He was the coach I wanted.

“But what he was doing here was not good enough. The substitutes he put on, they did not work. On Saturday, how can the team play well in the first half and be so bad in the second? It is not right. The coach, he could do nothing about it.”

Cellino famously dispensed with 36 coaches during his 22-year stint at Serie A outfit Cagliari, with Redfearn already the fourth full-time head coach of his seven-month tenure so far at Leeds.

But he insists that he felt compelled to act just a month into 
Milanic’s reign due to such a poor sequence of results.

Cellino, who issued an apology to supporters for Leeds’s recent form in a club statement announcing Milanic’s departure, added: “I always say that when I make a mistake, I won’t pretend it was the right decision (to appoint Milanic).

“I made a mistake with this guy. He is negative, he has a losing mentality.

“I cannot keep him just to defend my own decision. Some people said to me ‘give him one more game’, but we are going down the league. I had to do it.”

Match report: Page 2.