This is not a rant against Massimo Cellino per se, nor is it a growl at his ownership of the club – there are plenty of others playing that particular game of tug-o-war.
It’s nothing to do with the ‘business’ side of the club. It’s nothing to do with the string of promises that he made as he rode into Elland Road on his white charger of change, since cast to the wayside. It’s nothing to do with his court cases and standing with the Football League – a conglomerate that many Leeds United fans call ‘corrupt’.
It’s nothing to do with any of that. My gripe is with something else about Massimo Cellino. It’s about how he treats people, his lack of grace, his lack of decency I suspect. I suppose his supporters will blow smoke up his backside and say ‘well, you see, it’s his fiery Latin nature that makes him act this way’ or even ‘it’s a way of ownership that we aren’t used to.’ Actually, it’s quite ironic that the defence from the pro-Cellinoistas is also the stick that the antiit-Cellinoistas use to batter the Italian with.
Amongst all the smoke-and-mirrors, hiding behind the obfuscation put up by supporters of the Leeds owner, aside from the well-meaning, but in reality futile protests organised by his detractors Massimo Cellino remains a man stubborn to the core. At his core is the way he treats people and he’s not a very nice person in doing this.
When he came in there was this uplift of hope – Leeds United were going to be saved from the inept GFH, who in turn had bought Leeds as an investment opportunity from Capt. Birdseye Bates and installed him as honorary President. To give Cellino one due, he got rid of Bates from the club. Mind you, that’s what he’s good at – getting rid. There’s that old saying, something like ‘a new broom sweeps cleanest’; well there are always ‘new brooms’ at Elland Road and the only sweeping that is done is old staff away from the club.
Regularity is a byword when it comes to Madcap Massimo’s ‘restructurings’; last season’s Championship campaigns saw three ‘head coaches’ allowed to be in charge in David Hockaday, Darko Milanic and Neil Redfearn (twice.) This season has seen two already with Uwe Rosler replaced in late October 2015 by current incumbent Steve Evans who, if he lasts the season out will be the longest serving ‘head coach’ of Cellino’s reign as Leeds United owner.
We sit in shock at the turnover, or simply aghast with resignation at yet another appointment at Elland Road at the urgent behest of Massimo Cellino and whatever mood or knee-jerk reaction he is operating under. We shouldn’t, we really shouldn’t; remember that this man rolled into Leeds United already known as il mangia allenatori – the manager eater. See I don’t actually mind that he eats managers, just the manner in which he does it.
OK, I can accept that they might not have been best suited to the job, that they didn’t fit or couldn’t cope with the immense task of managing Leeds United but also the ego of the owner who, if the Oxford English had pictures then Massimo Cellino’s mugshot would be used to illustrate the word ‘maverick’. These are men chosen by Massimo Cellino and God knows who in an advisory role as being up for the job and able to push Leeds forward. They do, for a bit, then the momentum stalls and the results stumble along and, often sooner rather than later, their services are dispensed with. It’s just the way they are treated and cast away that grates with me.
Let’s take Steve Evans – the current, well for the time being, head coach at Elland Road. He came in almost immediately that Rosler was ‘dispensed of’ and when Leeds were drawing more than the late Tony Hart. Whilst not turning us into world-beaters, there have been highlights and good performances, although these have been counterbalanced by inconsistency and mediocrity, with a soupçon of recklessness thrown in there. Look, let’s not kid ourselves here – he’s not technically the best coach that we could have gotten to do the job. But there’s a level of honesty and graft about him – he has come in and gotten on with the job and put the best into that he has to give.
OK, that might ultimately be enough but you can see what the job means to him. He’s had to do all of this with the spectre of Massimo Cellino standing over him like an imposing shadow – effectively with one hand tied firmly behind his back and, no doubt, blindfolded. Steve Evans, like you’d expect of anyone taking the Elland Road job, is grateful to manage what people often say is the biggest club outside the Premier League. Trouble is, at Elland Road gratitude is often not enough to get you where to need to be and there is already talk amongst fans and the media that Evans will not be kept on beyond the end of his current short-term deal that runs out in the summer.
Steve Evans, like all those before him such as Rosler, Redfearn, Milanic, Hockaday and even as far back as Brian McDermott will be released as and when Massimo decides. It’s not about capability to do the job, it’s about the man himself and always has been – it’s about Massimo Cellino. He takes decent men and tears them to shreds before replacing them on a whim; their reputations sometimes tarnished.
Forget the idea that Cellino is il mangia allenatori – the manager eater for he is something much worse than that. Massimo Cellino is il distruttore di uomini – the destroyer of men.