McDermott’s Long Weekend
Brian McDermott is still – or perhaps yet again – Leeds United manager after what’s been a rather confusing weekend of events.
February 3rd, 2014
McDermott took questions from reporters this afternoon to try and help everyone piece together what exactly had happened between Friday evening and Saturday night, when he was temporarily relieved of his duties at the play-off chasers’ managerial post.
McDermott claimed that on Friday night he received a phone call from Chris Farnell, a lawyer acting on behalf of prospective new club owner Massimo Cellino, to fire him. The news broke online that McDermott was gone – leading to many a witty photograph of a sad face drawn onto a thumb and posted on Twitter – leaving Leeds fans with the apparent assumption that former Middlesbrough man Gianluca Festa, the man who Cellino had tried to get in the dugout for the midweek game, was to take over the team selection for Saturday’s home match against Huddersfield Town.
Changes were, in fact, made to the team – by whom we don’t know, though McDermott has it on good authority from academy chief Neil ‘Redders’ Redfearn that Festa had tinkered – but McDermott’s selection was put back in place when control passed back to assistant (and caretaker) manager Nigel ‘Gibbo’ Gibbs.
That line-up confirmed, and with McDermott putting his feet up for the afternoon, Leeds duly went out and battered Huddersfield Town; captain Ross McCormack setting the example by bagging a hat-trick. The crowd of 31,000 sang its praises of McDermott throughout the match while the question of club ownership hung in the air like Alex Mowatt’s chipped goal. Unfortunately despite such an emphatic and rare victory, off-field matters continued to press.
That’s when a statement from current owners GFH Capital arrived, almost immediately after the full-time whistle blew on that 5-1 win, stating that they had not in fact dismissed McDermott, and that he was still Leeds manager. Brian has since received assurances from GFH that for the moment he will only answer to the owners, which is what brought him back to this hot seat.
Despite the team’s bumpy season, and the usual boardroom shenanigans which have been part and parcel of the Leeds United Experience ever since Peter Ridsdale woke up from a lovely dream he had, McDermott has kept an extremely cool head under the kind of pressure that would easily see off a less composed football manager.
It’s a shame to see the negative side of football sticking its oar into on-pitch matters more and more, but as long as there are the characters who have the kind of dignity McDermott does – a man who would’ve had every right to lose his cool in a very public way this weekend – we needn’t worry.
Stay classy, Brian.