Leeds United: Redfearn's Kids Are Best Hope Of Avoiding Relegation Scrap

The current issues behind the scenes at Leeds United continue to endanger the team.
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The current issues behind the scenes at Leeds United continue to endanger the team.

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International breaks are often time for reflection. Most Leeds fans would've therefore been sleeping easier this weekend after a first victory in nine games, a 3-1 defeat of Blackpool at Elland Road on Saturday.

There were plenty of positives to take from the game itself, not least of which was the second goal, charismatically fashioned by Brazilian Adryan, complemented with beyond-their-years performances from Academy graduates Alex Mowatt (20) and Lewis Cook (17).

Cause for optimism then. But as ever a number of unresolved running sores threaten to derail the journey back to what passes for normality in LS11. Putting aside an edgy second-half during which the crisis-stricken Tangerines pulled a goal back and reversed the home dominated pattern of the first, the most worried man in the ground would possibly still have been majority stakeholder Massimo Cellino.

The Italian remains a massively divisive figure and with the Football League weighing up their options over a recent tax evasion case, his long-term grip on the club seems at best tenuous. Sacking two head coaches to add to Brian McDermott's parting of the ways (Twice) means that current incumbent Neil Redfearn could be classed as the team's sixth appointment in ten months. Hardly the sort of footing from which to launch a promotion bid - the former Cagliari owner’s ultimate goal.

One of Cellino's problems is that he says lots of things. His first proclamations on taking control was that he'd make buying back Elland Road his first priority. Seven months later it's still owned (allegedly) by a group of anonymous Mancunians. The maverick also generated headlines by claiming to have renegotiated the share purchase agreement he agreed with the club's former owners GFH Capital, the result of which was an improved financial position. Shame then that he never bothered to check with them whether or not they'd actually signed it.

Poor Massimo. A man who's spent a lifetime bobbing and weaving around everyone, even defying the EU, was hand picked as a buyer by GFH's senior management team over a year ago, principally because he was willing to act without proper due diligence, such was his eagerness to get into British football. This subsequently explained the bank's unwillingness to deal with the rival Together Leeds consortium, it's necessity grimly illustrated by the club's last set of financial results, which were a shocking story of mismanagement and profligacy, the price tag for which the “King of Corn” had unwittingly signed up to meeting.

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Still minority stakeholders with nominally two directors on the board, GFH are football's equivalent of a tapeworm, contributing nothing financially to the club's running whilst waiting to extract maximum value if Leeds miraculously do manage to reach the promised land.

Their characteristically unctuous response to Cellino's frustrations regarding the ground purchase was to throw the spotlight back on him, claiming that they'd only sanctioned the sale of striker Ross McCormack to Fulham on the proviso that the funds were used in part to cover the transaction. The SPA in fact gives them no say over transfer dealings, and with irony fit enough to choke a dozen donkeys, their spectacular incompetence whilst in command seems certain to mean a transfer embargo come January.

Increasingly Cellino looks like a cornered animal. You would've for instance given a Lira for his thoughts on Saturday as he welcomed guests of Radio Yorkshire, former Chairman Ken Bates' white elephant of a propaganda vehicle, and showed them to the box he's just granted the company long-term access to, allegedly free of charge. The gesture was a far from altruistic one, made instead to stave off yet another court case, this one pertaining to the supposed wrongful dismissal of Bates from the post of President, a position conferred on him after selling up.

You'd guess that after this Cellino was perturbed to find yet another winding up order in his post tray last week, this time from local solicitors Ford & Warren, for sums relating to Bates embarrassing spat with former director Melvyn Levy. Perhaps the soup in the Radio Yorkshire box was a little colder than room temperature as a result.

It's remarkable that there's any time for football at all, but even for fans basking in the relative success of four points from six in a week, the talk is of a run of fixtures leading up to Christmas against the likes of Derby (twice), Blackburn, Ipswich and Forest - tough games which will go a long way towards defining Neil Redfearn's tenure.

Bluff and honest, the childhood Leeds fan must know that the young players he's so familiar with are pretty much the only chance he has to stave off the likelihood of a third successive year of flirtation with the bottom three. In attempting to steer the most wayward ship in British football, like the rest of us he knows that at Leeds we're constantly dreaming of the stars, but always end up staring the gutter in the face.

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