Intolerable conditions for McDermott

Tuesday 18th March 2014 15:40

Brian McDermott: Working under extreme conditions at Elland Road

Brian McDermott: Working under extreme conditions at Elland Road

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Leeds FanZoner Leah Waller wants Brian McDermott to be given more time - and must be judged only when the club's ownership issues are resolved.

It's astounding how quickly things can change, and the wonderful world of football is even more prone to sudden and diverse adjustment. Brian McDermott knows that only too well.

It was less than two months ago that McDermott was illegally handed his marching orders, when furious fans pursued the taxi of Massimo Cellino and dissatisfied supporters sung McDermott's name in protest over the chaotic events that had transpired in the previous 24 hours. In the mere weeks between then and now, the fed-up Leeds faithful are singing a different tune, and it's not the name of Brian McDermott.

Results since then have left a bitter taste in fans' mouths, with United more likely to concede goals than score them and defensive blips becoming increasingly more expected than attractive attacking prowess.

McDermott has widely been held accountable for the Whites' poor performances, while on the flip-side prospective Leeds owner Cellino is being regarded as some sort of unsung saviour as fans create anxious art in the form of a bewildering banner and countless unsightly Instagram edits crafted for his children.

It's astounding how quickly things can change, especially at Leeds United.

When GFH employed McDermott they spoke of a three-year plan which he was to carry out - the end result being a return to the Premier League. Transfer windows have come and gone with cash guaranteed to both McDermott and to fans falling short as the usual influx of loaned players and free signings made their way to Elland Road. The lack of investment from GFH on anything other than PR has left Leeds with another mediocre squad who are preparing to end the season in the familiar mid-table position.

As frustrating as this average display is, it isn't unexpected: promotion was not the target this season, or next for that matter, and once again failure to invest significantly from the club's owners has sealed another antagonising season in the second tier of English football.

GFH need to take the blame for the lack of ambition shown, it goes hand-in-hand with the lack of funds handed to the manager they claimed to support, infact, GFH deserve the majority of the blame for recent events at Leeds.

Their mismanagement of the club's finances has overshadowed football matters for far too long, with the majority of Leeds fans knowing more about interest rates and loans than they do about the off-side rule.

The focus at Leeds has not been directed towards the most important aspect - the football - so how was McDermott expected to improve a run-of-the-mill team when the club's managing director was more interested in taking selfies with a can of Red Bull and Robbie Rogers?

How could he get any sense out of Salem Patel when he was preoccupied with pumping out PR to fans via direct message on Twitter or tweeting smileys when the occasional good news occurred? How was he backed by a chairman whose most significant act was to conduct an interview with himself before his great disappearing act when the true extent of the damage caused by GFH began to emerge?

Before takeover turmoil reared its ugly head, the Whites were punching above their weight in fifth position, but looked good for it. It was accepted that the work that needed to be done at the club was excessive, and correcting the mistakes made in the last decade would be a gradual process, but Leeds United was a stable club, and everyone seemed to be going in the same direction.

Then the financial situation of the club that he was running managed to slip David Haigh's mind, but Andrew Flowers didn't make the same mistake, so the consortium that the duo were attempting to buy the club under, Sports Capital, revised its offer to GFH based on financial irregularities, and the period of stability Leeds United was enjoying met it's demise.

After doing his best to sweep the truth under the carpet by assuring the inquisitive supporters and media that all was well and the delay was down to the Football League, Haigh tried to align himself with any party interested in acquiring the club he was failing to purchase. January came, and a takeover that began in November didn't look any closer to completion while Haigh promised McDermott and the fans that Sport Capital would fund any transfer business that was necessary to bolster the fatigued squad after the loan additions of wingers Cameron Stewart and Jimmy Kebe - McDermott was unable to capture any of his targets for the remainder of the window with a move for striker Ashley Barnes blocked by the owners.

Haigh then tried to jump into bed with Cellino, who decided he'd like a bed of his own. On the back of talks between Sport Capital and GFH, Cellino began his negotiations, offering £25million for a club in extreme debt, with little assets and making reported monthly losses of £1million. GFH couldn't believe their luck, they bit Cellino's hand off and accepted his overgenerous bid, ignoring other parties and giving Cellino control of a club he didn't yet own - and all hell broke loose.

If trying to undermine McDermott at the Ipswich game by attempting to put ally Gianluca Festa on his bench wasn't already an indication of Cellino's view of the Leeds boss, Deadline Day certainly was.

Leeds managed to steal the show on Sky Sports' Deadline Day, but not for the right reasons, leaving Jim White amazed and Leeds fans astonished as Cellino relieved McDermott of his duties as manager, along with then CEO Paul Hunt, without the authority to do so. The fans fought for their manager that weekend, and so did the players with a 5-1 hiding of local rivals Huddersfield Town, but that spirit has diminished and so has support for the man whose name rung around Elland Road on the 1st of February.

The men that need to be held liable for the lack of stability on and off the pitch at Leeds are the men of GFH, but those men are hiding, leaving McDermott to answer questions he has no answers to, their actions should be scrutinised and remembered by all fans of Leeds United.

While McDermott's future under Cellino remains uncertain, with the two of them seemingly on mutual ground for the time being, certain members of GFH will continue their jobs at a club that they nearly sent hurtling towards administration and Haigh will earn himself a promotion.

McDermott hasn't done an amazing job at Leeds; we're no better footballing wise than we were 12 months ago, but the circumstances he's had to work under are inexcusable and were caused by people who failed to do their jobs at all - but will somehow retain them, and McDermott's job should be as safe as houses compared to any of the cowards from GFH.

Tactical inadequacies and 5-1 thrashings at home to Bolton are matters that McDermott, and to some extent his players, need to answer for, but the rest goes beyond the players and beyond the manager. McDermott deals with football, which is unfortunate, because when has football ever been the focus at Leeds United?

By Leah Waller, FanZone's Leeds blogger. Follow her on Twitter at @leahwallerx - and don't forget to follow @FanZone too!

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