In what will hardly come as a surprise, a blind man could have seen it coming it was that obvious, Massimo Cellino is going to sack Neil Redfearn for what he [Cellino] intimates has been an act of subterfuge. In an interview with the Sunday Mirror, Cellino goes full-on postal against Redfearn with accusations that are ‘wild’ even by his standards. Neil Redfearn was essentially the man under whose stewardship Leeds United steadied and preserved their Championship status. This was despite all manner of lunacy at the club with Cellino himself being banned, rumours of enforced player withdrawals due to imminently triggered contract clauses, impromptu ‘sacking’ of his assistant and a rash of injuries arising before one particular game against Charlton.
Throughout all of this, Neil Redfearn remained becalmed and stoic, refusing to buckle and refusing to bend. This set of characteristics was seized upon by the team and, barring a string of defeats towards the season’s end, Leeds looked a different side under Neil Redfearn. Above all the tenacity, one trait of Redfearn’s shone through, that of honest decency; it was this sense of decency that Leeds United’s fans seized upon, solidarity amongst the downtrodden if you will. It is this that has rankled il capo Cellino, got his goat up and boy has the maverick Italian responded,
“He thinks that he’s so strong that he can put me in the s**t because I’m worrying about the fans. F*** me, what kind of chairman have you got? He tried to play the fans against me to keep his place. Do you think that Neil Redfearn loves Leeds more than me? Tell me why I am in Leeds, why am I so involved with the club? Why am I putting in a lot of money, killing myself? Because I fell in love with this club. But to love this club is to do something for this club. Neil Redfearn does the (Leeds United fans’) salute. He challenged me. If you are good I can accept the challenge. But not if you are a bad coach. He wins two games and he disappears. He loses five games and he comes to me to ask my advice. Then he wins and disappears again. He has to respect the chairman. He has to respect the club. He’s like a baby. He’s been badly advised and used by someone. He is not a bad person but he has a weak personality.”
With sentiment as strong as this, there really is no comeback for Redfearn at Leeds, no salvation from the scorn that he has been subjected to in this stinging rebuking of him both as a coach and as a person. Leeds fans who admire what Redfearn has done for the club have, understandably, reacted badly to these ‘choice’ words from the owner of their club.
That's been realisation for me: if this can happen with Redfearn, when things were going well, will there ever be calm & success?
— Simon Austin (@sport_simon) May 16, 2015
The best thing Redders can do is keep his council and let the maniac destroy himself, he is doing a great job of it on his own #lufc
— Tony Hannan (@tonyhannan) May 16, 2015
— Carl (@carltimmins18) May 16, 2015
With the strength of feeling being poured out over Twitter, and very little coming back as support for Cellino, if Massimo thought that he was not regarded well by sections of the fanbase before, then his escapades and words in the Sunday Mirror haven’t improved his image much. I have a feeling that this is a storm that is only just gathering strength; it’s not even started brewing properly as of yet.
Mirror Sport online: original source for quotation – Leeds to sack Neil Redfearn because owner Massimo Cellino says ‘weak’ manager turned fans against HIM’