After a slow start, Leeds United have gathered momentum under Garry Monk: they sit in seventh place, a point outside the play-offs. And as their league form offers a tantalising return to the big time, they will vet a further taste of exactly that when they head to Anfield for a League Cup quarter-final tomorrow week.
Leeds fans would be forgiven for growing wary of such optimism, however, given the farcical reign of owner Massimo Cellino.
Cellino veers from one madcap decision to another, and seems to govern based on idiosyncrasies and superstition, with his suspicion towards the number 17 causing the dropping of Paddy Kenny, as that number formed part of his birthday.
Neil Redfearn, the youth team coach who found himself surprisingly appointed as caretaker manager by Cellino after the sacking of Brian McDermott, has opened up on some of the madcap happenings behind the scene in a wide-ranging interview with journalist Simon Austin.
Redfearn recalls the surreal first summer under Cellino, as the Italian began the process of cutting costs:
He drained all the water out of the pool. The pressure of the water had kept the tiles in place and they started buckling. It cost £25k a year to heat and treat and he said ‘we’re not having that.’ He made the cleaners redundant, getting the apprentices to do it. That’s when the bug went round. Spores from the swimming pool area caused a sickness bug. He got rid of security. On a night when we had hundreds of kids in, anyone could walk in. He was getting rid of people on £12k a year and still paying Paddy Kenny, who couldn’t stop a pig in a passage, £20k a week.
That's quite a description of poor Paddy Kenny.
Those costs were cut at the academy. When Redfearn became manager after the sacking of Darko Milanic, things became even madder.
We played Brighton away. Cellino was banned and said ‘Andrew Umbers is coming to the game and he’s bringing his wife. His wife has never seen us win. You need to get something lucky. You need to wear something purple - socks or a belt. Or you need to shake Eddie Gray’s hand, he was born on the 17th.’ He sent it me in a text.
The entire interview is a must-read for Leeds fans. You can find it here.
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