DESCRIBED as ‘a good-looking guy’ by his new boss Massimo Cellino, time will tell whether Leeds United head coach Darko Milanic proves just as easy on the eye with the club’s supporters.
Finally unveiled by United yesterday, the ex-Sturm Graz manager was the centrefold with Cellino, who stole the attention from David Hockaday on his first press conference on June 19, not in attendance this time around.
For Milanic, flanked by United sporting director Nicola Salerno, there were no early attempts at sugar-coated soundbytes to claim brownie points and win fans over. It is clear in his world, substance comes before cultivating style marks.
When asked about what was the most difficult thing about his job, former Prime Minister Harold MacMillan famously replied. ‘Events, dear boy, events’.
Dealing with events, on Saturday and in midweek, will be Milanic’s modus operandi.
For his full-time predecessor Hockaday, those events began at Millwall and for Milanic, they start across London at Brentford.
Milanic was crystal-clear on his first challenge; Saturday’s match, with no bold statement of intent like the one made by Hockaday, who pledged to make Leeds the ‘hardest working team in the league’.
Perhaps it was just as well...
As for the inherent risk of linking up with an owner who used 36 coaches during his 22 years at Cagliari, there was no talk of bucking the trend or anything like that, as you would expect from someone seasoned in European management.
His view on the notion of security of tenure could have been uttered by any fully-paid up member of the managers’ union in stating: ‘Our job is at risk every Saturday, every game. I have to do my best. It doesn’t worry me’.
As befitted an international-class centre-half in his playing days, the Slovenian, polite and professional, proved adept in giving little away at his unveiling, which was full of predictable platitudes, but not too much else.
Cellino, to be fair, alluded to as much beforehand in refering to Milanic as a pragmatic guy ‘who does not talk much.’
You sense another ex-international defender turned manager in Manuel Pellegrini would have approved in Milanic’s dealings, with the Chilean a master at saying little.
Yet if he does half as well as Pellegrini where it matters, no-one will be complaining at Leeds.
On how long it would take to get Leeds back into the Premier League Promised Land, Milanic straight-batted with a ‘very difficult to answer’.
On him still being here when his contract finishes in 2016, Milanic opined: ‘I live now, in this moment. I don’t look to 2016.’
A very wise answer.
Few genuine clues were provided about playing style, with any suggestion he is defensively-minded – he did state that his first training session at Thorp Arch was on defensive tactics – quickly counter-balanced by his desire for his team to be dangerous on the ball and ‘not defensive’.
Sense prevailed, with Milanic savvy enough to acknowledge he will draw upon the input of Neil Redfearn, who will remain in the dug-out, in the weeks ahead.
In terms of revelations, the best we got was Milanic’s surprise at being offered the job, with Salerno and not Cellino contacting him about it.
It was all in marked contrast to the summer unveiling of Hockaday, who said the polar opposite when asked exactly the same question.
But just as with the reign of Hockaday, results will be Milanic’s making or breaking.