Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Redfearn was unlucky not to get Leeds job says Brentford nemesis Douglas

Yorkshire Post 30/9/14
FORMER Leeds United midfielder Jonathan Douglas insists Neil Redfearn can count himself ‘unlucky’ not to have been handed the head coach position on a permanent basis.
The Irishman helped orchestrate Brentford to a 2-0 weekend win over his former club, in what proved an ignominious start to Darko Milanic’s tenure at the club.
The setback followed an uplifting haul of ten points from a possible 12 under the command of interim head coach Redfearn, who presided over a four-match unbeaten streak prior to Milanic’s arrival.
Despite a pronounced upturn under Redfearn, Massimo Cellino ruled out the 49-year-old from his thoughts for the permanent head coach role earlier this month, with the United owner expressing his desire for the Yorkshireman to continue his sterling job running the Academy.
Douglas said: “They picked up 10 points out of 12 (under Redfearn).
“I know Neil. He was with the academy when I was there. He’s a good coach and was probably looking to stay involved with the first team. I think the lads were looking for that, but it wasn’t to be. Their owner went down a different route.”
He added: “(Redfearn) was unlucky. Performances proved that he was unlucky. He picked up a lot of points, but the owner has gone down a different route. I am sure they will turn it around.”
Young Paraguayan striker Brian Montenegro found the net for United under-21s in their 2-1 home loss to Queens Park Rangers in the Professional Development League at Thorp Arch yesterday afternoon.
The summer signing struck on 54 minutes following a quickly-taken free-kick involving Adryan and Noel Hunt to reduce the arrears after the Londoners went 2-0 in front a few minutes earlier.
The game saw Leeds finish the game with ten men after young play-maker Zan Benedicic came off with a head injury late on following a clash of heads with Hunt.
Dario Del Fabro also started for Leeds.

Leeds United: Inauspicious start is not unusual at Whites

Yorkshire Evening Post 30/9/14
Slow starters: Coach Darko Milanic isn’t the first Leeds United boss not to make a winning start to his tenure at Elland Road. Leon Wobschall reports.
NOT TOO many Leeds United managers have been afforded the luxury of a flying start to fully ingratiate themselves with supporters over the past decade, and Darko Milanic has plenty of company in the opposing respect.
Like David Hockaday, the man he replaced as the new permanent head coach at Elland Road, the Slovenian was left to lament a disappointing afternoon in the capital in his first outing in the dug-out which ended in a lacklustre 2-0 weekend defeat for the Whites at Brentford. Hockaday kicked off with a similarly dispiriting setback by the same scoreline across town at Millwall on August 9.
Gary McAllister and, to a lesser extent, Neil Warnock also didn’t exactly hit the ground running either when both were named as Whites manager and while Brian McDermott did generate some early momentum when he took over at Leeds in April 2013, winning successive home matches against Sheffield Wednesday and Burnley, it proved fleeting.
Like McDermott, Dennis Wise and Kevin Blackwell won their opening matches in charge of the club, against Derby County on August 7, 2004 and Southend United on October 28, 2006 respectively, but the victories were followed by decidedly ordinary results in the next few weeks following that.
The only man to truly crack it early on was Simon Grayson, who denied his former club Leicester City a seventh successive win in a 1-1 draw on Boxing Day 2008 in front of a massive festive crowd of 33,580 and backed up by winning two days later in a 4-2 triumph at Stockport County – one of four victories that he managed in his opening six matches in charge.
Grayson’s successor Warnock started out with a 0-0 bore draw on the south coast at Portsmouth on February 25, 2012 and recorded just one victory in his opening half a dozen games in the hot seat.
His first victory in front of home punters at Elland Road arrived at the sixth time of trying in a 4-1 win against Peterborough United on Grand National Day, April 14, 2012.
Before that, Leeds were beaten four times, with the setbacks including an infamous 7-3 home loss to Nottingham Forest on March 20.
For McAllister, just one win arrived in his first five outings in charge of Leeds on home soil, with the Scot’s reign kicking off with an inauspicious 2-0 loss to Ronnie Moore’s Tranmere Rovers on February 2, 2008.
McAllister’s maiden triumph at the United helm came almost a month after the Tranmere clash, in a 1-0 verdict at Swindon Town on March 1 – the fifth match of his Elland Road tenure which was slow to take off before gathering some late-season speed.
In terms of the reins of Wise and Blackwell, early momentum was also in scant supply. One victory arrived in Blackwell’s first five outings in charge in 2004-05, with Leeds finding themselves as low as sixth from bottom in early December of that campaign and the predicament that Wise encountered in the early stages of his managerial tenure in West Yorkshire in 2006-07 was even more dire.
After goals from Ian Thomas-Moore and Robbie Blake gave Wise a welcome 2-0 win over Southend, first up, just two more victories arrived in 12 matches to the end of the calendar year of 2006 – and it did not get much better in the New Year...
For Milanic, two opportunities to showcase his coaching philosophy arrive at Elland Road this week with a home double-header against Reading and Sheffield Wednesday. Leeds are seeking a third consecutive home victory for the first time since last November when the club were in the midst of a five-match winning streak at home.
It is fair to say the jury remains out regarding his appointment, with little fanfare following his arrival as the club’s first foreign-born coach.
The hard currency of results will be how he is viewed, with the opening instalment at Griffin Park a decidedly underwhelming entrance, moreso after the club’s highly-impressive 3-0 derby victory over Huddersfield Town in the final match of Neil Redfearn’s third spell in temporary charge of the club.
It is probably questionable at this stage whether Milanic views tomorrow night’s appointment with Reading as a good or a bad thing, with the former Sturm Graz and Maribor boss, on the one hand, likely to be happy at having an opportunity to breach the wins column just four days on from Saturday’s setback.
But conversely, a full week getting his ideas across to his new charges on the training ground at Thorp Arch, having only worked with his players for three sessions ahead of the 2-0 defeat to the Bees, will also have been equally, if not more, advantageous.
An additional factor to consider is that weekend opponents Wednesday also have the benefit of an extra day’s rest ahead of Saturday’s televised lunchtime derby clash at Elland Road.
To his credit, Milanic did not dress up the weekend loss in west London, on a day when Leeds were second-best with his references about the team’s shape suggesting he was far from happy with the way his side set up.
That is likely to dominate his thoughts in the lead-up to the game with Reading, who head into tomorrow’s game without a win in three matches.
Reflecting on the weekend, Milanic said: “It was not a good game and we should play much better.
“We had a few good moments, especially at the beginning of the second half, but in all the game, the home team was better.
“We played wide a lot and did not play forward. We did not have enough of a mentality to go in there, deep and go forward.
“The opponents played quick and we had a lot of problems with them.
“But this was my first game and I know I have to do a lot of things here.
“There are many things to do; we have to stay more compact.
“We were too long (at Brentford).”

Leeds in disarray as Championship club approach axed Graham Bean for advice on match-day squad

Mail 30/9/14
By CHARLES SALE
Pantomime club Leeds asked a football administrator advice on an important team issue at the weekend after he had been sacked by madcap owner Massimo Cellino.
The Italian axed Graham Bean, who had been effectively acting as chief executive, for not consulting him on Leeds changing their fixture against Reading from Tuesday night to Wednesday.
This is despite Bean having no say in the decision because Football League rules allow Reading to make the switch having played a TV game last Sunday.
Cellino, said by Leeds staff to be in an uncontrollable rage over this run-of-the-mill issue, also made sure Bean’s security pass into Elland Road was immediately cancelled.
Nevertheless, Bean was contacted by the club before their defeat at Brentford last Saturday because nobody was sure how many home-grown players — it is six — had to be included in the match-day squad.
Bean, understandably, replied Leeds should contact Cellino for advice on the matter.
To add to the Leeds circus, Bean’s predecessor David Haigh is still imprisoned in Dubai without charge four and a half months after his arrest following allegations of financial wrongdoing by former Leeds owners GFH Capital.
Meanwhile, the Football League are awaiting their copy of the Italian judge’s report that is said to describe Cellino’s tax evasion as ‘elusive intent’. It may still affect a ruling on whether he is an appropriate owner of Leeds.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Leeds United: We’ll come back stronger - Milanic

Yorkshire Evening Post 29/9/14
by Phil Hay
Darko Milanic claimed the experience of a sobering defeat to Brentford would help him get a grip of Leeds United, saying a 2-0 loss at Griffin Park was “not the limit of the squad.”
Milanic’s first game as head coach ended in disappointment as goals in either half from Jota and Alan McCormack ended Leeds’ run of four games without defeat on Saturday. United paid the price for a flat performance in London and were kept in the game for long periods by another excellent performance from goalkeeper Marco Silvestri.
The Italian produced numerous saves as Brentford attempted to add to Jota’s finish on the stroke of half-time but McCormack’s deflected effort in the 77th minute put the match beyond Leeds.
But Milanic, who took up a two-year contract at Elland Road last week, said the experience of watching his squad play would lead to a noticeable improvement ahead of back-to-back home fixtures against Reading and Sheffield Wednesday.
“We have to get better,” Milanic said. “This game, it was not the limit of the squad. We have to do better. The players have to do better in the next game.
“But this is an experience for me, a better experience for me than a (training) session is normally.
“This is a real experience for me.
“I saw my players, I saw how they move and how they think, the faces that are on the bench. This is very important to me.” Milanic cut his teeth as a head coach in Slovenia and came to Elland Road after a year in charge of Sturm Graz in the Austrian Bundesliga.
He took the reins from United academy manager Neil Redfearn who stepped in as caretaker after David Hockaday was sacked by Leeds owner Massimo Cellino on August 28. The club are 13th in the Championship and Milanic admitted that he has much to learn about the intricacies of the league, saying: “Generally I know that it’s a very difficult league.
“It’s strong and powerful, the teams play directly and have a lot of tempo.
“But I can’t only know generally.
“I have to learn better every team, every player.
“I need time.”

Brentford 2 Leeds United 0: Aggressive Bees sting Whites

Yorkshire Evening Post 29/9/14
by Phil Hay
Another world, Darko Milanic called it, and so it is. Not just Leeds United but England and the Championship. “I need time,” he said after his first game as head coach ended in defeat at Brentford. It was less of a plea than a matter of fact.
Time is something he lacked last week – three training sessions and a Friday spent on the road to London – and a visit to Griffin Park reminded Milanic that he has much to get his head around: a new country and a new working environment, on top of a new squad.
One of the first things he will learn about the Football League is the speed at which the season turns over. By this weekend, Milanic will be three competitive games into his new job – half as many as his predecessor, David Hockaday – with a pile of observations to take into the international break. That break is his chance to take the club properly in hand.
Milanic was asked after a 2-0 defeat how much influence he’d been able to exert having taken training for the first time last Tuesday. “After three sessions,” he replied, “what do you think?” His team were comprehensively beaten at Brentford, beaten at their own game, and Milanic was honest enough to say so. “But this is a good experience for me,” he said. “This is not like a normal (training) session. It is something else.”
In terms of the deficiencies at Griffin Park, Milanic had it right: a midfield which played passively and without aggression, and a forward line who didn’t click with each other or the players behind them. Milanic highlighted the faults without abdicating responsibility for them, refusing to say that the team and tactics weren’t really his.
Many hands have shaped United’s season – Hockaday, Massimo Cellino and caretaker Neil Redfearn among others – and since Hockaday’s sacking, the form has been good. Redfearn took three wins and a draw from his four games in temporary charge and left Milanic a group of players who were starting to understand each other after a slow, standing start.
The tactics at Brentford did not deviate drastically but the performance did. Perhaps it was to be expected after a busy, eventful week. Jota, Brentford’s Spanish midfielder, scored at the end of the first half and Alan McCormack did likewise via a deflection towards the end of the second, deservedly settling the game. In between, goalkeeper Marco Silvestri enhanced his reputation as the best of United’s summer signings.
Milanic indicated last week that Redfearn, Leeds’ academy manager, would join him in the dug-out at Griffin Park but his comments appeared to be lost in translation. He and Redfearn spoke throughout the run-up to Saturday’s game but having been overlooked for the head coach’s job, Redfearn was keen to give the Slovenian space; reluctant to be a shadow over his shoulder.
Milanic took his advice but changed Redfearn’s team slightly, using Sam Byram to cover for the suspended Gaetano Berardi and replacing Casper Sloth with Alex Mowatt. Mowatt was arguably the best of a disappointing set of midfielders but that tactical change was one which Leeds regretted in the end.
When Sloth took to the field midway through the second half, some valuable urgency came into their play but risks and gaps came with it and Brentford picked Leeds off on the break. “They were very dangerous on the counter-attack,” Milanic said.
The style of the two teams was comparable and admirable – patient, on the floor, strictly free of the “anti-Christ”, long-ball approach which Cellino hates – but Brentford were better at it. “The first 10 minutes were competitive,” said their manager, Mark Warburton.
“They had a new manager and their owner was in the tunnel before the game so I’m sure they wanted to impress. But in the most respectful way, there was only one team in it.”
Leeds might have a new head coach but they are still the Cellino show. At the start of the match, United’s president took a seat in amongst the rank and file of Brentford’s support but was asked to move after James Tarkowski’s missed penalty in the 29th minute caused ructions in that area of the ground.
He and his sporting director, Nicola Salerno, heeded the instructions and promptly clambered into the away end, leaning on the front barrier for the rest of the first half. They spent the second in the upper tier. The fans around Cellino got the third degree as Brentford prodded and probed at United’s defence.
Tarkowski made a horrible mess of his penalty after Jonathan Douglas, once a wrecking ball in the centre of Leeds midfield, drove over the halfway line and prodded a pass to the feet of Andre Gray. The striker cut across Jason Pearce and tempted United’s captain into tripping him on the penalty spot, a few yards in front of referee Dean Whitestone.
Pearce was booked, Tarkowski took the ball but his finish was dreadful, smashing into the top tier of Griffin Park’s away end. Much higher and the centre-back would have spent half-time fishing the ball out of the Thames.
Leeds owed him a drink for that but were more indebted to Silvestri for another sequence of alert saves.
The Italian saw off a free-kick from Alan Judge and parried Moses Odubajo’s shot on the rebound. He parried Douglas’ header after Alex Pritchard – a youngster from Tottenham Hotspur who fought and won a fascinating running battle with Lewis Cook – picked him out at the far post with a corner.
But Brentford asked a question too many in the second minute of stoppage-time as Judge fed Jota who stepped inside his marker, sized up Silvestri and cracked the ball into the roof of his net. “Brentford were very aggressive,” Milanic said. “We needed a much more offensive mentality.”
The spirited resistance from Silvestri continued in the second half as Odubajo and Marcos Tebar tested his agility, the former with a header which Silvestri clawed wide. Milanic took some encouragement from the fact that his team had started punching back by then. Various shots flew over Brentford’s bar and Pearce was inches away from nodding Mowatt’s free-kick into the net, denied by David Button’s fingertips. “That would have been a good time to get a goal,” Milanic said.
Brentford’s sense of timing was better and McCormack’s goal on 77 minutes sucked all the tension out of Griffin Park. The full-back was allowed to run free after Whitestone accidentally obstructed Stephen Warnock and his low strike flew in with the help of a deflection off Pearce. Even Silvestri could do nothing about it.
Milanic took time to reflect at the end and then told it like it was, both in terms of the game and his own position. “I need time,” he said again and he certainly does. After weeks of change, upheaval and doubt at Elland Road, it will do Leeds good if somebody gets it.

Massimo Cellino criticised Leeds United’s display after Darko Milanic’s reign as manager began with defeat

Telegraph 28/9/14
By Thomas Jacobs, Griffin Park
Goals from Jota and Alan McCormack were enough to secure victory for the home side and end the visitors’ four-game unbeaten run.
Leeds owner Cellino was forced to watch the first half from the away terrace after being asked to leave the home section by stewards. However, things got worse for the Italian, as the hosts cruised to an impressive win.
He said: “We were really, really bad today. I was feeling good but now I’m worried again.”
Leeds were lucky not to fall behind in the first half when James Tarkowski fired a penalty over the crossbar after Andre Gray had been brought down in the box by Jason Pearce.
But Brentford deservedly took the lead on the stroke of half-time when former Leeds midfielder Jonathan Douglas played in Spanish midfielder Jota, who beat Jason Pearce and Giuseppi Bellusci before finding the roof of the net.
Pearce came close to equalising at the beginning of the second half, but Brentford goalkeeper David Button dived low to his left to deny him.
Brentford clinched the points on 77 minutes when right-back McCormack broke and his shot nestled into the net, with the aid of a wicked deflection off Pearce.
Leeds’ only real effort of merit came with five minutes remaining when Lewis Cook’s 25-yard grass-cutter licked just past the upright.
Milanic, who was appointed manager last week, said: “We were not good enough in possession in the first half, we were not dangerous enough and we have to play with a much more offensive mentality. I had a lot of help preparing the team from Neil Redfearn and from everyone but I have to work and train with them now, to talk is not enough.
“That first game at Elland Road will be very important for us. With support and energy we can make it. But I have to know individual players in the division better and I need time.”
Brentford manager Mark Warburton was delighted with his side’s display as they recovered from back-to-back losses: a 4-0 hammering at Middlesbrough and a 3-0 home defeat by Norwich.
He said: “We had a long chat after Middlesbrough and thought a lot about what we would do if Plan A didn’t work, and decided that if it didn’t work we would strive to do it better.
“Their new manager was here today, the owner was here and they will have wanted to impress but after the first 10 minutes, with respect, there was only one team in it really.
“We could have scored more and perhaps the only criticism is that we weren’t more clinical. It was a great response to last week.”

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Brentford 2 Leeds United 0: “I need time” admits Milanic

Yorkshire Evening Post 27/9/14
New Leeds boss Darko Milanic admitted “I need time” after his side were brushed aside by Championship new boys Brentford.
The Slovenian had taken just three training sessions with his new side before their 2-0 reverse at Griffin Park, in what he conceded was a very difficult first game in charge.
Goals in either half from Jota, a summer signing from Celta Vigo in Spain, and Alan McCormack secured the Bees maximum points against a Leeds outfit that had won three of their previous four under Neil Redfearn.
In contrast the Londoners were smarting after a 4-0 hammering at Middlesbrough and a 3-0 home defeat at the hands of Norwich, which saw boss Mark Warburton promise there would be a reaction. Milanic said: “It was a very difficult game. I expected a game like this against a side with very aggressive forwards.
“We were not good enough in possession in the first half and were not dangerous.
“We have to play with a much more offensive mentality. In the second half we did it better and had some good shots, but we weren’t good enough to score and Brentford were very dangerous on the counter-attack.”
Milanic said he wanted to bring the Leeds faithful a European style side in terms of style and mentality.
“I want to play offensive and we played with two strikers today but it’s not enough if you don’t have offensive thoughts,” he said. “That first game at Elland Road will be very important for us. With support and energy we can make it.
“But I have to know individual players in the division better and I need time.”
Milanic will have been worried by his side’s lack of fight after going two down with 15 minutes remaining and the hosts could have gone on to notch up four or five, only the heroics of keeper Marco Silvestri keeping the scoreline down.
Brentford boss Mark Warburton hailed his side’s character and resolve after the Middlesbrough setback, especially given the visitors’ recent wins over Bournemouth, Bolton and derby rivals Huddersfield.
“The intensity of this league is very tough and they are getting used to it,” he said.
“We were always aware of the threat Leeds posed but after 10 minutes we took over and, very respectfully, we dominated.
“It was a very dominant performance, with good tempo and a lot of quality. We could still have been more clinical and probably should have had more but that’s something that we will continue to work on.”
Warburton knew his side would respond after the Riverside rout and added: “We had a long chat after Middlesbrough and thought a lot about what we would do if Plan A didn’t work, and decided that if it didn’t work we would strive to do it better.”
Spanish midfielder Jota gave the Bees the lead on the stroke of half time, finishing off a flowing five-man move with a crashing drive into the roof of the net.
And McCormack sealed the points in the 76th minute with a rasping low drive that deflected off the foot of Giuseppi Bellusci and past Silvestri.
United’s only real effort of merit came with five minutes remaining when Lewis Cook’s 25 yard grass-cutter licked just past the upright.

Brentford 2 Leeds United 0: Milanic says “I need time”

Yorkshire Post 27/9/14
Brentford maintained their solid start to the Sky Bet Championship season with a deserved 2-0 win over Leeds to deny Darko Milanic a winning start as Whites boss.
Spanish midfielder Jota gave the Bees the lead on the stroke of half-time, finishing off a flowing five-man move with a crashing drive into the roof of the net.
And Alan McCormack sealed the points in the 76th minute with a rasping low drive that deflected off the foot of Giuseppi Bellusci and past despairing keeper Marco Silvestri.
The United stopper had kept his side in it with a string of superb saves as the Bees swarmed forward with purpose on the break.
United’s only real effort of merit came with five minutes remaining when Lewis Cook’s 25-yard grass-cutter licked just past the upright.
Milanic said: “It was a very difficult game. I expected a game like this against a side with very aggressive forwards.
“We were not good enough in possession in the first half and were not dangerous.
“We have to play with a much more offensive mentality. In the second half we did it better and had some good shots, but we weren’t good enough to score and Brentford were very dangerous on the counter-attack.”
Milanic said he wanted to bring the Leeds faithful a European style side in terms of style and mentality.
“I want to play offensive and we played with two strikers today but it’s not enough if you don’t have offensive thoughts,” he said. “That first game at Elland Road will be very important for us. With support and energy we can make it.
“But I have to know individual players in the division better and I need time.”

Brentford 2-0 Leeds: Darko Milanic gets off to a losing start as Alan McCormack seals comfortable Bees win

Mail 27/9/14
New Leeds manager Darko Milanic saw his new charges fall to a 2-0 defeat
Jota gave the home side the lead and Alan McCormack finished off Leeds
The visitors barely threatened but for a Lewis Cook drive that went wide
The game could easily have finished 6-2 to Brentford as they ran riot
Brentford maintained their solid start to the Sky Bet Championship season with a deserved 2-0 win over Leeds to deny Darko Milanic a winning start as Whites boss.
Spanish midfielder Jota gave the Bees the lead on the stroke of half-time, finishing off a flowing five-man move with a crashing drive into the roof of the net.
And Alan McCormack sealed the points in the 76th minute with a rasping low drive that deflected off the foot of Giuseppi Bellusci and past despairing keeper Marco Silvestri.
United stopper had kept his side in it with a string of superb saves as the Bees swarmed forward with purpose on the break.
United's only real effort of merit came with five minutes remaining when Lewis Cook's 25-yard grass-cutter licked just past the upright.
The Londoners looked purposeful from the start, Alex Pritchard forcing a smart low save from Silvestri at the foot of the post.
The keeper denied the hosts the opener on 22 minutes when he dived late to tip Alan Judge's dipping, swerving free-kick over the wall into the path of Moses Odubajo only to block him at point blank range.
Brentford squandered a gilt-edged chance to break the deadlock midway through the half when Andre Gray was felled in the box by Jason Pearce who escaped with a yellow card.
Centre back James Tarkoswki raised eyebrows when he stepped up to take the spot kick and duly skied it over the bar.
Former Leeds midfielder Jonathan Douglas almost headed his side in front minutes later but was again thwarted by the keeper.
The breakthrough came on the stroke of half time when Brentford's slick passing carved open the visitors' defence and found Jota who sidestepped Stephen Warnock to fire into the roof of the net.
Judge blazed over as Brentford started the second half as they ended the first, but at the other end Bees keeper David Button had to be alert to tip Pearce's downward header to safety.
Mirco Antenucci fired wide with long-range efforts as Leeds staged a rally, but Brentford drew their sting and hit back with the pace of Odubajo a constant outlet.
The winger, a close season signing from Leyton Orient, fed Gray on the hour mark but his drive was saved by the legs of the wrong-footed Silvestri.
And the keeper was there again five minutes later when Odubajo slipped the shackles of Pearce to send a diving header goalward, going full length to palm it wide.
Both sides were struggling in the humidity but it was Brentford who made their possession count on 76 minutes.
Odubajo broke from half way and fed McCormack who raced clear of a leggy Leeds rearguard, bided his time and smashed a drive home from 12 yards.
That took the fight out of Milanic's side and Brentford surged forward in search of more as they won almost every 50-50 battle in the middle of the park.
Leeds looked broken in a game that could easily have ended in a 6-2 scoreline such was the level of defending.
And Leeds owner Massimo Cellino caused consternation when he was spotted watching his side's away clash with Brentford with the home fans.
He was soon escorted to the away end and watched the rest of the match with the Leeds fans.

It’s A Bad Result – Leeds United Boss Darko Milanic Reacts To Defeat at Brentford

Inside Futbol 27/9/14
New Leeds United manager Darko Milanic admits his side's defeat away at Brentford today was "a bad result" for the Whites.
Milanic was appointed Leeds boss earlier this week and took charge of a side unbeaten in their last four Championship games, having won three of those fixtures under caretaker boss Neil Redfearn.
Redfearn did not travel to Brentford as part of the Leeds' coaching staff and Milanic watched his side go behind in the final minute of the first half when Jota hit the back of the net.
Then, with Leeds chasing the game at Griffin Park, Brentford made sure of the points when Alan McCormack saw his shot deflected in, putting the hosts 2-0 up and condemning Milanic to defeat in his first match as Whites boss.
"For me it's a big day, to have my debut in the Championship. It is a bad result for us and I have to congratulate the home team, they played very well", the Slovenian told LUTV.
"If we look at all the game we had some problems with the opposition. We started better in the second half. For 15 minutes we played very well, we controlled the game, we had good possession, we had some shots", he continued.
"But after that, and before that also, it was very difficult.
"At the end we had to risk more because of the goal and they were very dangerous on the counter attacks."

Alan McCormack completes fluent Brentford win against Leeds United

Guardian 27/9/14
Brentford 2 Leeds 0
In theory, the technique is pretty simple: rap the outside with your knuckles and listen for a deep, hollow sound. That is how you spot a good watermelon. But Massimo Cellino is far too eccentric for that.
Known as il mangiatore di direttore, the manager eater, in his native Italy after a tumultuous 22-year stint at the helm of Cagliari, Cellino, the Leeds owner, reckons finding a decent manager is like picking a ripe watermelon: a matter of luck more than judgment, where the only fail-safe approach is to dive in and try several out. Having already sacked David Hockaday and Brian McDermott since taking charge in April, he hired the former Slovenia defender Darko Milanic this week in his latest attempt to build a promotion-winning side.
This was Milanic’s opening bow and Cellino watched events unfold from pitchside, surrounded by Leeds supporters, having been ushered from his original seat by the stewards. He must have been horrified by what he saw as Leeds were torn apart by a wonderfully fluent home side. The only player to escape with credit was the keeper, Marco Silvestri, who somehow kept the score down to 2-0.
“I’ve had three sessions,” said Milanic afterwards, deflecting any hint of blame. “This is a better experience for me than anything. This is real. I saw my players, how they move, how they think.”
Chances in the early exchanges were limited, but when Silvestri made a fine double save, first denying Alan Judge’s curling free-kick, that was bound for the far corner, before springing up to turn away the rebound effort from Andre Gray, the tone was set.
The home side’s growing momentum resulted in a penalty after 27 minutes. A gallivanting run from deep by Jonathan Douglas went untracked by Leeds and his slide-rule pass to the onrushing Gray forced Jason Pearce into a desperate and ultimately bungled attempt to clear the danger.
Douglas declined to watch the spot-kick, instead turning to face the home fans at the opposite end as James Tarkowski did the duty from 12 yards. Douglas was visibly despondent as he heard a loud thud and realised Tarkowski had leathered his penalty so far over the bar it had rebounded back off the second tier of the stand.
Brentford still attacked and Leeds struggled to resist. Douglas might have scored himself with a stooping far-post header that was brilliantly turned around a post by Silvestri.
Leeds looked top-heavy and their formation lacked a capable anchor-man – Lewis Cook was meant to occupy that role but deserted his duties too often. Inevitably, Jota punished them seconds from the interval when he twisted intelligently in the box, left several defenders on the floor and smashed his shot high into the net.
The second half mirrored the first; Brentford ran riot but were denied the glut of goals their intelligent play deserved. Gray wrong-footed the keeper at one point but Silvestri still got his trailing leg to the ball to keep it out. Then a diving header from Moses Odubajo was brilliantly kept out by the Italian.
Eventually, McCormack’s deflected shot found the net in the 77th minute and cries of “We’re just too good for you” rung around the stadium. What an understatement that was.
“The players spoke about needing a Plan B or a Plan C after last week, but we don’t need those,” said the Brentford manager, Mark Warburton. “We should just do Plan A well, like we did today. We created chance after chance after chance, and my only criticism is that we didn’t pick them off more in front of goal.”

Brentford 2 Leeds United 0: Milanic reign starts with defeat

Yorkshire Evening Post 27/9/14
Darko Milanic’s reign as Leeds United head coach began with a disappointing defeat at Brentford.
A goal from Spaniard Jota deep into first-half stoppage time and a late Alan McCormack effort ended Leeds’ run of four games without defeat and gave Brentford the points at Griffin Park.
Jota struck from close-range as United owner Massimo Cellino, who appointed Milanic on Tuesday night, looked on from the front of the away end.
Cellino joined United’s travelling crowd midway through the first half, climbing into the stands along with sporting director Nicola Salerno, but an away following of 1,600 were left deflated by a deserved defeat - despite another impressive performance from goalkeeper Marco Silvestri.
Silvestri’s display kept the scoreline down but he was beaten again on 77 minutes by a deflected McCormack finish.
Milanic made two changes to United’s line-up but did not sway massively from the formation left to him by Neil Redfearn, employing a diamond midfield.
United contested an even game for 20 minutes but became increasingly deep and passive as Brentford forced the pace of the game.
The hosts were awarded a penalty in the 29th minute after ex-Leeds player Jonathan Douglas broke from deep and threaded a pass to Andre Gray who drew a late tackle from Jason Pearce.
Pearce was booked for the foul but James Tarkowski wasted Brentford’s spot-kick with a woeful finish which sailed over the crossbar.
Silvestri kept the match goalless with saves from Alan Judge, Moses Odubajo and Douglas but he could do nothing in the first minute of injury-time when Jota ghosted in behind Milanic’s defence, stepped away from his marker and lashed the ball high into the net.
United created only a couple of half-chances before half-time and shots from Alex Mowatt and Rodolph Austin were easily held by keeper David Button.
Pearce almost snatched an equaliser six minutes into the second half, rising to meet Mowatt’s free-kick with a header which Button pushed away, but another good save from Silvestri repelled Gray’s low shot on the hour.
The Italian keeper was involved again on 65 minutes, diving to keep out Odubajo’s header with one hand as Leeds struggled to defend a corner, and his parry from substitute Marco Tebar kept the game alive but he could do nothing when McCormack broke away and found the net with the help of a flick off Pearce’s foot.

Cellino watches the Brentford game with the home fans and then sits in the away end

Mail 27/9/14
Leeds owner Massimo Cellino spotted watching his side's game at Griffin Park with the Brentford fans...
before being escorted to the away end
Cellino spotted in the home end with the Brentford fans before being escorted to watch the remainder of the game with the visiting supporters
Pictured buying a hotdog outside Griffin Park before Leeds' game with Brentford
The latest sensational story surrounding maverick owner Cellino
By ROBIN COTTLE FOR MAILONLINE
Maverick Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino caused consternation when he was spotted watching his side's away clash with Brentford with the home fans.
He was soon escorted to the away end and watched the rest of the match with the Leeds fans, where he saw Jota give the Bees the lead on the stroke of half-time.
Alan McCormack made it 2-0 to the hosts late in the second half.
Bemused and excited Leeds fans tweeted pictures of the Italian watching on from the stands as the Yorkshire club entered another new dawn.
It was the first time new Serbian coach Darko Milanic had taken charge of the team since arriving from Austrian outfit Sturm Graz.
And to prove he was enjoying the football experience, Cellino was photographed munching on a hotdog outside Griffin Park.
The latest sensational story surrounding Cellino came a day after his reign as Leeds owner was said to be under renewed threat after an Italian judge found him guilty of tax evasion.
And the controversial owner allegedly sacked consultant Graham Bean for rearranging the club's fixture with Reading.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Leeds United: Phil Neville’s comments were out of order - Hay

Yorkshire Evening Post 27/9/14
Ex-Manchester United defender Phil Neville criticised Darko Milanic’s appointment but Phil Hay says the Slovenian has earned his chance at Leeds.
“It’s a disgrace,” said Phil Neville, and he wasn’t talking about Marcos Rojo’s ball retention. Welcome to England, Darko Milanic – or “a lad from Slovenia I’ve never heard of” as Neville kindly put it.
The two men played at the same European Championship in 2000 – Milanic as Slovenia’s captain, Neville as the left-back who condemned England in the group stages – but no matter. A real name from a real country please. None of this speaks-four- languages nonsense.
Milanic might be many things but Leeds United’s new boss is no empty suit. There are certain coaches in Europe – many of them old, some no longer active – who built up records in the eastern bloc with unrivalled establishment clubs but Milanic never worked behind the iron curtain. He’s a modern thinker with modern qualifications, as Neville should know. Neville’s been working towards the UEFA Pro Licence that Milanic received last year.
There’s a danger in football of being blinded by science and coaching badges only prove so much. They’re no substitute for innovation or vision but UEFA’s ‘A’ licence is the ticket nonetheless. You can’t manage in the Premier League without it (unless the Premier League decides that you can) and coaches these days strive for it, despite the commitment – a minimum of 240 hours of practical and academic work.
So Milanic is not a stupid appointment, to use Neville’s words. It’s a brave appointment and an unpredictable appointment but if Milanic is seen as under-qualified then you have to ask why. Because he isn’t English? Because he hasn’t worked here before? He’s got the right paperwork so scepticism about him can be nothing to do with his training. But the 46-year-old has no profile or reputation in these parts, an unknown name plucked from Austria. Very Massimo Cellino.
In all of this there’s an underlying tone of disregard for his past employment. It’s the idea of Slovenia as a footballing backwater where trophies are easy to come by. Especially if your club is Maribor.
There’s an element of truth in the second part. When Leeds toured Slovenia in the summer of 2013, we learned a bit about the pecking order of the PrvaLiga. The average Slovenian club has a playing budget of 400,000 Euros. Maribor’s budget is 2.5m Euros. Naturally, they take honours by the score and are always in Europe. It’s the job to have in Slovenia.
But Milanic won nine trophies in five seasons as head coach and a first domestic treble. It’s natural to equate his position there to the odds-on task of managing Rangers or Celtic but numerous coaches have made a mess of the Old Firm. Paul Le Guen did not survive one season at Ibrox. Tony Mowbray – a recent applicant for the job at Leeds – fell inside 10 months at Celtic. Maribor are no more inclined to tolerate a shambles. The club have standards.
That Milanic committed himself to a rigid, outdated 4-4-2 in Slovenia is not really relevant. He had the players for that formation and it worked. Opinion is more divided over how well it served him at Sturm Graz last season. Some say it was a pragmatic approach which kept the club out of trouble. Others saw it as a turgid style which earned him no kudos. He’s respected at Graz, though. In eight years as a player there, the club won multiple trophies. Take time to look and Milanic’s career is dotted with them.
The crux of Neville’s contempt for him – aired on Five Live – was the fact that Milanic had taken charge at Leeds at the expense of Neil Redfearn – another Pro Licence holder. It’s a fair point of view. Redfearn has given United excellent service – six years as academy manager – and there was more confidence and assurance in his third spell as caretaker than there was in his previous two.
He looked ready for promotion and if this wasn’t his time then a senior coaching role is more likely to come at another club.
It’s no surprise that Redfearn has grown as a coach. Years of developing players should convince anyone that they know the game and know the score. Cellino could have gone for him and said so himself. But replacing Redfearn as academy boss was 10 times the task of replacing David Hockaday. At least this time Redfearn is below a man who merits the top job.
Leeds cannot be indicted for failing to go British. They’ve been going British since day one. Aside from David O’Leary – an Irishman born in London to an English mother – Milanic is the first foreign coach of United since 1919. They went English with Neil Warnock to no avail and English with Brian McDermott without success. Cellino went English with Hockaday with no rhyme or reason and rued the day. In such a cosmopolitan dressing room, this was as good a time as any for Cellino to look abroad.
Predicting the outcome of Milanic’s appointment is a waste of time and effort. There are far too many variables at Elland Road to read his prospects with certainty, and Warnock and McDermott both proved that Leeds United is a different job; “another world” as Milanic said last weekend. But step out of the insular environment of English football and it’s fairly clear that he’s done the groundwork. The fact that the great and the good in this country know nothing about him is not his shortcoming or his problem.
******
The problem for the Football League – which should not imply that the organisation has only one – is that Massimo Cellino’s tax conviction is constantly subject to change.
Leeds United’s owner has appealed the ruling against him and will have his case reviewed in Cagliari in December. Which causes a complication for the League. Disqualify him as a director now and its decision might be null and void before 2014 is out.
Cellino, conceivably, could lose that appeal. But even then the devil is in the detail. Under UK law his conviction for failing to pay import duty on a private yacht will be declared spent in March of next year, 12 months after the date of the Sardinian court’s guilty verdict.
The 58-year-old received a fine of 600,000 Euros and for a long time, a conviction leading to a fine was considered spent in Britain after five years. But the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 was amended in March, days before Sandra Lepore found Cellino guilty of tax evasion. Football League rules ban anyone with an unspent conviction for dishonesty from owning or sitting as a director at any of its 72 clubs. Spent punishments are disregarded.
The governing body has not actually laid its hands on a copy of Lepore’s written judgement yet so the argument over whether Cellino acted dishonestly in avoiding tax continues to rage in the dark but the confusion over Cellino’s status is like nothing it has seen before.
In short (and ignoring the fact that the Italian has other cases court arising soon), the League has less than six months before Cellino’s conviction is spent; six months to bar him, fight off any legal challenges, force him to sell his shares in the club and sanction a takeover. No chance, you would think. And definitely not with any co-operation from Cellino and Leeds.
It is not at all clear what the League wants to do with him. Its chief executive, Shaun Harvey, gave the impression earlier this month that battle lines would be drawn again if Lepore’s judgement was damning but the League as a body has said nothing. A fortnight ago there was doubt about whether Lepore’s written verdict even existed – not that the League had asked the court in Cagliari for it – but The Guardian answered that question with a detailed review of it on Wednesday. The League’s next move is a mystery and has been for weeks.
It should be shrewd enough to realise that another attack on Cellino will garner very little support in Leeds. He can be on the edge, as his dismissal of consultant Graham Bean proves, but people whose concern starts and ends with Leeds United have found things about him to admire. They like the players he has signed and recently, they’ve liked the style of the team. They like the fact that football actually registers with Cellino, pictured right, as a priority.
But beyond that, when he bought Leeds in April the club were deferring wages, late with their tax bills, refusing to pay any others and defaulting on loans. Taking that in hand must count for something. So two questions if the League decides to take up this fight again: is the primary concern Leeds United or is the primary concern the application of the rules? And above all else, what alternative to Cellino is anyone suggesting?

SACKED LEEDS CHIEF HAS “NEVER SEEN MORALE SO LOW ANYWHERE”

Spoughts 26/9/14
Graham Bean, who was sacked from his key role as a football administrator at Leeds United today by owner Massimo Cellino, has revealed that he has never seen morale so low anywhere in his career, as he posted on Twitter.
The former Football Association compliance officer has said that he attempted to get the staff a pay rise from Cellino, who simply answered no.
Bean has also reported that the staff have not had a pay rise in four years, and with many of them having been dismissed this summer, Bean was keen to get them onto a higher financial packet in an attempt to improve the situation.
He said: “Last week me and FD tried to get the staff a pay rise as they’ve not had one for 4 years.
“The answer was a single unanimous NO. Staff need lifting badly…….u can’t fault their efforts – but nver seen morale so low anywhere (sic).”
Word from the club suggests that Bean was sacked for failing to notify Cellino over a fixture change in the summer months. This will see Leeds take on Reading on Wednesday before facing Sheffield Wednesday at 12.15 next Saturday, something that the Leeds owner is said to be unhappy about.

Captain Jason Pearce on Darko Milanič

leedsunited.com 26/9/14
United captain Jason Pearce has spoken for the first time about the club’s new head coach and he says that the squad are all ready for a new start.
Darko Milanič was announced as the new head coach on Tuesday evening and took his first training session the same day.
“We came in on Monday and Redders took training as normal,” explained Jason. “On Tuesday it was announced that the new head coach was coming in so all the boys were ready for a new start again.
“It has come off the back of four good results and we’ll give him a chance to show us what he can do and hopefully he can improve us.
“There is a lot of shape and organisation. Hopefully this will bring a different aspect to our game so that we are more solid as a team.
“To be fair we have only had a couple of days training now so it is difficult to say at the moment. We’ve got the international break coming up so he will probably be able to put in plenty of training in there.”
United head for Brentford this weekend, for what will be the new head coaches first match in the Leeds dug-out.
“We are looking to become more solid,” added Pearce. “That is the base to build on and then we’ll go and play on from there.
“We have got three games until the international break so hopefully we can do well and get some points.
“You want to keep on improving that defensive side of your game as a team.
“Even if you are doing well and getting clean sheets you still want to keep on working on it to make sure that it stays like that.”
United has seen many changes over the summer and the skipper is hoping this will see improvements.
“It is very different,” said the defender. “When I first came to the club nearly everyone was English.
“There were obviously a few foreign lads like Dioufy. I think that it is becoming like that in the English game, it is very continental.
“The players that have come in are good players and good lads. Hopefully that will improve the side.”

Leeds United: Whites sack consultant Bean over fixture dispute

Yorkshire Evening Post 26/9/14
by Phil Hay
Leeds United have sacked consultant Graham Bean following a dispute about the rearrangement of next week’s game against Reading.
Bean – a former compliance officer at the Football Association – was dismissed from his job by owner Massimo Cellino on Thursday, four months after joining the senior management team at Elland Road.
In what appears to have been a bitter and acrimonious departure, Bean left the club after a disagreement over the decision to move United’s forthcoming clash with Reading back by 24 hours.
The Championship match – scheduled for Wednesday night – was rearranged in July after Reading’s meeting with Wolverhampton Wanderers switched to this Sunday to accommodate a live broadcast on Sky Sports.
The date was changed after discussions between the Football League and Bean, who spoke with former Leeds head coach David Hockaday before agreeing to Reading’s request.
Cellino, who was abroad at the time, was never asked about the rearrangement and United’s Italian president has terminated Bean’s 12-month contract as a result.
In a letter sent by Cellino, Bean is understood to have been told that “all business decisions must be authorised by myself” and that the failure to inform Cellino of Reading’s request was a “serious breach of your contract.”
Bean, 53, has been responsible for much of Leeds’ administrative work during Cellino’s reign as president and majority shareholder.
Described as the club’s interim-secretary, he was heavily involved in a busy transfer window in which United signed 15 players.
Bean confirmed that he had left the club and told the YEP: “I’ve enjoyed my time working with the staff at Leeds United. As far as working with Mr Cellino is concerned, I’d prefer not to comment.
“I wish the team every success for the season.”
Cellino is known to be frustrated by a fixture list which has been moved repeatedly this season, largely due to television demands.
Leeds’ Yorkshire derby against Sheffield Wednesday next weekend will be televised on Sky, as will their Friday-night visit to Rotherham United 13 days later.
The timing of the midweek clash with Reading leaves two days for United’s squad to recover before a 12.15pm kick-off against Sheffield Wednesday.
Cellino planned to make a formal complaint to the Football League this week before learning that the Reading match had moved with Bean’s consent.
The 58-year-old was asked to comment by the YEP but said: “He was an external consultant, this is a private matter and I don’t want to speak about it publicly.”

Leeds United sack key club administrator

Spoughts 26/9/14
Leeds United have suddenly sacked consultant Graham Bean from his role at the Elland Road club, as reported by Phil Hay of the Yorkshire Evening Post.
The former Football Association compliance officer has had his role at the club ended as the result of a fixture rearrangement for next week.
It seems as though Bean agreed to move the Reading clash to Wednesday next week, but did not inform Massimo Cellino, the club’s owner, at the time.
This followed consultation with the then head coach Dave Hockaday in July, shortly after his controversial appointment to the role.
This now sees Leeds play on Wednesday night before facing off with Sheffield Wednesday at 12.15pm, a shorter recovery time than if they had played Reading on the Tuesday.
Having previously worked at the FA, Bean was considered to be a key administrator under Cellino. It remains to be seen if he will be replaced.
Regarding his sacking, Bean said: “I’ve enjoyed working with staff at Leeds. As far as working with Mr Cellino is concerned I’d prefer not to comment.
“I wish the team every success for the season.”

European expert on Leeds style under Milanic, player reaction, young stars

Here is the City 26/9/14
Dan Coombs
What do Leeds fans need to know about their new boss ahead of the weekend?
It promises to be a fascinating weekend ahead at Leeds United as Darko Milanic coaches his first game in charge of the club against Brentford.
He continues the rebuilding process Neil Redfearn had managed so excellently, after a dismal beginning to the campaign under Dave Hockaday.
There remain many questions regarding the former Sturm Graz manager, who was a Slovenia captain in his playing days.
Italian journalist Emanuele Giulianelli is well connected with sporting director Nicola Salerno and the Leeds players signed from his country over the summer, has spoken personally to Milanic, and gave an interview to Radio Yorkshire on Thursday.
He discussed Milanic's potential style, and whether he would be selecting young players or not.
Giulianelli said: "The style of playing of Leeds could be a mix, between the classic English style, so an attacking style, lots of play on the wing, and the quality of players who can be a more Italian style with more attention to the defence.
"He told me that what most impresses him about English football is how a match is full of fight, how physical it can be, but only attacking is not so good if you want to be a very important team.
"Leeds fans told me he is worried he wont play Cook or young players. He told me that its not important young or experienced. What's important is the quality of the players. He's a very practical trainer."
He went onto add that Milanic was always among the first choices for the role, and that being able to speak fluent Italian will help him with several players at the club.
He went on to reveal he has spoken to some of the players, without detailing which, Giulianielli commented: "I spoke to them about the choice, they were very curious to know, to know him personally, to see his way of working.
"They are very enthusiastic, they want to spark something. The start of the season was not so easy but now they are going the right way winning matches. Players are happier and they know the better is yet to come."

Leeds United star reveals details of Milanic's first training sessions, impact for weekend?

Here is the City 26/9/14
Dan Coombs
Jason Pearce has become the first Leeds star to provide details of their new head coach's early training sessions.
Leeds United defender Jason Pearce has revealed how new manager Darko Milanic is working to make them harder to beat.
Although the club are unbeaten in their last four matches, Pearce has told how one of Milanic's first messages to the side was about adapting their set up. He told Leeds United TV, regarding the training sessions: "It's different, a lot of (work on) shape, and organisation and things like that maybe we are not used to.
"Hopefully it'll bring a different aspect to our game, so we are more solid as a team.
"Then we were playing five-a-sides and keep ball and things like that."
Milanic is in a strange position for an incoming manager as Leeds are currently a winning side, whereas usually a new boss will come in immediately when results are not so good. This means he must not try to change too much too early, and needs players such as Pearce to buy into his planning - an early win against Brentford will be essential.
Pearce went onto add: "All the boys are ready for a new start again, but its coming off the back of four good results
"He'll give us a chance to show what we can do and hopefully he'll be able to improve us.
"I did call him gaffer, but everyone is saying it's head coach. I don't really know what to call him."

Leeds United: An In-Depth Tactical Overview Ahead of Milanic’s Arrival

Leeds All Over 26/9/14
So the diamond is finally starting to yield positive results, this just as another new manager takes the reigns for Leeds United. On this occasion it is Darko Milanic who will be charged not so much with turning the ship around, but keeping it steady to its course and maybe tweaking a few things along the way. Under the watchful eye of Massimo Cellino and, you’d hope, the close aid of Neil Redfearn, Leeds can hopefully continue their momentum. Despite Milanic being a reported 4-4-2 or 4-3-2-1 man with a predilection for wingers, the players populating United’s squad at the moment largely conform to a wingless structure. This has been noticeable in Leeds’ attacking play this season, with the wing-backs usually offering the width for the side. However, whilst defending, it has been increasingly perceptible that, whilst defending, the Leeds midfield has often simply levelled out, with the diamond reverting to a flat four shuttling across the entire midfield in order to protect the wing-backs.
In truth, Milanic’s preference of wingers and the lack of them at Elland Road shouldn’t present too much of a problem. The Slovenian is an extremely experienced coach and has at his disposal a confident team not appearing to be hindered by the lack of a Callum Mcmanaman or Harry Bunn. The grand scope of what Milanic can bring to the table is unclear at the moment, but one would hope that his grievously trophy laden playing and managing career has imbued him with a simple but not easily acquired knowledge of how to win, something that he can hopefully instil amongst his new players. At the present moment, you wouldn’t think that anything needs to be drastically changed, only fostered.
The worst thing that Milanic could do and something that I can’t see happening is a disruption of the quite thrilling progress some of the summer signings, particularly Mirco Antenucci, Giuseppe Bellusci and Souleymane Doukara have been making at Elland Road. If anything, these players can only help him sustain Leeds’ momentum. In the case of the latter two names mentioned, one becomes even more filled with expectancy when one recognizes that the pair are aged just 25 and 22 respectively, with time on their side to become even better, particularly since this is their first season of Championship football, a challenge they are taking to with great relish. In contrast to the relative youth of the pair above, Mirco Antenucci is a player that you can simply admire for the performer he is now, that is a seasoned pro at the peak of his powers, blessed with a lovely touch and an incredibly sharp mind.
Ever since Leeds’ second-half renaissance at Birmingham the Italian seems to have settled into a grove that marries a bustling strength and directness with a flowing technical ease that I for one can’t get enough of. What’s more, he can finish, with his two goals in five games examples both of a cold-blooded conviction in front of goal and of superb aerobatic enterprise encompassing all of the technical skill mentioned above. It’s hard to believe how he went so far in his career in Italy without making the step into Serie A, as he certainly has the ability. It is for these reasons that I believe Antenucci will continue to faze out Billy Sharp from the first team under new management, and rightly so. Even at this early stage, having watched Antenucci on every occasion since the draw with Birmingham, contrasting with Sharp’s efforts in the games the Englishman has played, the Italian already looks the more all-round player, certainly besting Sharp in a technical sense.
During the games the pair have played together, the formation was a rather stilted 4-3-3, with Sharp looking fairly ineffective playing as a conventional striker. Indeed, without regular service to rely upon, the 28-year old struggled to make an impact. Antenucci on the other hand clearly had no problem with dropping deep and dribbling with the ball forward from the midfield. You could argue that Sharp’s frustrations could have been due to the system’s flaws, or that it was his brief to plough a lone furrow up top and not drop back to create from deeper areas. But I’m not so sure. Having watched Leeds in a 4-4-2 with Sharp in the match against Middlesbrough, I would say that dropping deep to instigate moves with a pass or direct running doesn’t seem to be his game, he is much more of an on-the-shoulder type striker.
Indeed, it was telling that when the decision was made by Redfearn to change the system to a 4-4-2 diamond against Huddersfield, Sharp was dropped in favour of the Antenucci and Doukara. What I think you can glean from this is a move from Leeds toward starting players with more refined technical traits or more geared towards playing a part in a system of ball retention than those who may not. Perhaps this was a move urged along by Cellino ahead of the Huddersfield game in discussions with Redfearn. But who knows, I would like to think that Redfearn himself could have spotted the evident tactical discrepancy that occurred with Sharp playing alongside two other strikers. It was rather over-indulgent, a little too striker-centric. With Doukara and Antenucci working as a pair against Huddersfield, things ran a lot smoother. Leeds were ultimately more balanced, for one thing, Sharp’s central striking position was ditched in favour of an attacking midfield player in Casper Sloth, a logical move that connected midfield and attack well. But to a greater extent, the forward pairing of Antenucci and Doukara gave Leeds a front duo that acted not solely as goal-providers but pivotally as strikers who enforced Leeds’ technical superiority over their opponent, both willing to roam into deeper areas to receive the ball, whereby they would pass the ball on or run forward with it, engaging the Huddersfield defence and thus creating gaps for others to run into.
With regards to the importance placed on Leeds having technically astute players to fill the forward positions, one could argue or assume that this is an area of the team that you can perhaps skimp on craft in favour of pure goalscorers, poachers if you like. You could say it is not a striker's place to be too heavily involved in team build-up or contribute much towards it, rather, they are there to hang on the last line of defence, time their runs well, be a general nuisance and to ultimately stick the ball in the net. These are certainly required qualities, but football is changing, and so are Leeds, which is why it is such an exciting time.
I’m not saying that there isn’t a place for a Billy sharp at Leeds, there certainly is, and I would not be disheartened in any way if he were to come in for an injured Antenucci or Doukara. But I would be very surprised if Milanic were to extinguish the partnership of these two at the present moment. In this new Leeds side, where ball retention is held in the highest regard, it is necessary for most if not all players to be able to contribute towards this retention, in order to craft chances or to simply maintain possession of the ball. This necessity therefore makes it logical that those who take up the two striking positions of the team to be more than just standard centre-forwards. They need to be willing and comfortable with receiving the ball in deeper positions, roaming off the front into space to create openings for others, playing passes off the midfield, or turning and seeking their fellow striker, or even running forward with the ball. Without wingers zipping the ball in at every opportunity, the striker in this system has to be willing to adapt, to create and actively participate in a different kind of service, one which may not always end up with a ball in from wide, a more multi-purpose striker or strike-force if you will.
As of this moment, Doukara and Antenucci are meeting these requirements, the Italian for reasons covered already, but Doukara also earns his place in this system over Sharp or any other striker for good reason. Firstly, Doukara is quite tall (standing between 6ft 1 and 2) and physically imposing, which, when matched with his rapid turn of foot and array of skills and tricks that are being used to positive effect, the Senegalese gets in every time. He is also just coming up to his 23rd birthday, which only adds to the excitement that he is already generating on the pitch. He does need to work on his passing, which was wayward against Huddersfield, but for now he is a player Leeds cannot afford to leave out.
We now have a complementary partnership upfront with a range of talents, Doukara offering a useful counter-punch to the measured technicality of Antenucci with a vibrant blend of pace, power and flair. The pace aspect is important here, as without the 22-year-old in the side we would be quite noticeably flatter in attack in my opinion. We have often found ourselves in this position before, bemoaning our lack of agility or settling for players with pace like Dom Poleon, Jimmy Kebe or Cameron Stewart simply because they just had pace, but not a great deal else. Doukara is unlike these examples, as he appears to be able to possess a variety of abilities that supplement his speed, including a pretty deadly finish, which no doubt helps account for his very respectable tally of four goals in six appearances so far. With he and Antenucci in attack, Leeds have a partnership of many qualities and a very refreshing spirit of hard-graft that Darko Milanic should seek only to cultivate.
Looking a touch back from the striker positions comes the issue of attacking midfield, the trequartista role that Leeds now have the luxury of filling regularly with skilled technical operators such as Casper Sloth, the as yet unseen Adryan Tavares or the almost completely unseen Zan Benedicic. Sloth is a player who I think has surprised some of the Elland Road faithful. It seems that many believed Adryan would be the player who, upon arrival, would slot straight into the play-maker position, turning Leeds’ build up probing into gold with his customary prodigious Brazilian brilliance. However, Casper Sloth, in every appearance he has made, has either caught the eye with his ease on the ball or has just been another calm operator in possession for the Whites to rely upon.
Despite perhaps seeing himself in a deeper role, Sloth gave a very solid performance in ‘the hole’ and should continue to start ahead of Adryan if this remains the same. It is easy to forget that Adryan is just 19 compared to Sloth’s 22 years, so perhaps it is to be expected that Sloth should not be immediately usurped by a Brazilian still in his formative football years. That isn’t to say that I wouldn’t like to see the youngster play, or that he and Sloth couldn’t dovetail, either way, Adryan’s debut will not be lacking in hype.
As far as Zan Benedicic is concerned, he is an even younger talent that hasn’t had much playing time this season, reportedly due to match fitness not being tip-top, which is fine. From watching a few YouTube clips and doing a little research, he does look and is billed as a skilful player with physical prowess to boot. Perhaps under the management of a fellow Slovenian, Benedicic’s involvement will increase, but for the time being, it is a nice thing to be able to debate and ponder the involvement of a trio of talented youngsters in a Leeds starting XI. It is certainly a world away from questioning whether Luke Varney or Noel Hunt should take left-side midfield.
Right wing-back is another position of tactical significance in this Leeds side for Darko Milanic. Over on the left-hand side, Stephen Warnock has been excellent. Solid in defence and always an outlet for the team in a wide left position, the 32-year old has banished many doubts about him by playing his best football yet in a Leeds shirt. On the right side things have been slightly fuzzier, but clarity is starting to come.
I am of the opinion that Sam Byram, in his last two substitute appearances, has delivered the kind of thrust down the flanks that Neil Redfearn will have wanted out of regular right-wing back Gaetano Berardi in his time as caretaker manager. During these games, Berardi has undoubtedly impressed defensively; he looks to be a player who is assertive and diligent in most of his work behind the half way line. Apart from the obvious moments of over-assertiveness which are very lamentable, Berardi has failed to offer Leeds a proper attacking outlet down the right hand side with anywhere near the kind of regularity needed from a wing-back. He seems to prefer taking the safe option when the chance is there for him to drive on, which may be down to an unfamiliarity or lack of confidence in doing so.
Byram, in a heartening cameo against Huddersfield Town with Leeds down to ten men, produced a daring and willing desire to run into the space ahead of him, committing defenders and generally trying to make something happen. The Whites had to do without this kind of outlet until Berardi’s self-inflicted departure. Not only does Byram seem to understand the need to provide Leeds with options down the flank, he can also do so with a technical proficiency, meaning that he does not always have to play an aimless cross when he gets into an advanced zone, he can recycle possession back into the midfield, or try to create something himself. These are the qualities that you need when playing with the formation that Leeds are, and with the philosophy they are trying to apply. In this wing-back role, technique and daring are required, especially the latter, and it will be interesting to see Sam play from the start in this berth against Brentford if, as expected, he is picked to play there.
I will close on some interesting things I have noted from Darko Milanic’s press conference and other sources with regards to tactics. Obviously like Neil Redfearn and even Dave Hockaday before him there was the usual emphasis during Milanic’s press conference placed on hard work, a clear staple of Leeds’ play this season, as well as the commitment to passing football, something that would have ingratiated Cellino towards him and possibly he towards Cellino. However, it was when Milanic mentioned a wish for Leeds to play “aggressive football” in his press conference that things became interesting.
Then there were comments from Milanic in the YEP about an unfulfilled desire to play pressing football at Sturm Graz. As if to emphasize the point, a short video placed on YouTube by LUTV a day or two ago showed Milanic taking his first training session at Leeds. Taking up about a minute of the video is Milanic going through a clearly audible training exercise that seemed wholly geared towards pressing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAYT4AzXIWo
Of course, I may be reading too much into this, it may well have just been a standard exercise. However, if Milanic truly follows up on his intimations towards a pressing style of play then it could be a very exciting development to the strategy that Leeds have already built.
In our fairly narrow 4-4-2 diamond, it has been sometimes difficult for us to turn our build-up play into goal scoring chances. In fact, most of our goals from open play this season have come from counter-attacks, or from positions where we have nicked the ball from a disorganised opponent and made them pay.
As the season progresses, and the players start to get know each other more, the number of chances we create from open play should increase, and situations such as Tommaso Bianchi’s pinpoint through ball to set up the Doukara equalizer against Bournemouth should occur with greater regularity.
However, I feel that we have added a whole new string to our bow this season when our players have engaged in collective pressing and attempted interceptions in order to retrieve the ball. This has occurred at particular moments, such as during the second half at Birmingham, when, for just a minute or so, the entire Leeds midfield doggedly fought for the ball as a move broke down between our forwards. First Alex Mowatt slammed into a tackle and then Lewis Cook burst forward to retrieve the loose ball, taking it past one player and then being felled for a free-kick. I can remember the stirring of the Leeds fans as this momentarily cavalier style of play was adopted by the Whites, the players themselves seeming to respond to the roars by taking the risk to fly forward just as the ball broke loose.
Against Huddersfield the players were again driven into a short, sharp frenzy of pressing when, three goals up and full of confidence, players charged forward, retrieving the ball and then finding themselves open in positions irregular to where they normally are on the pitch. In this case, Lewis Cook was available in a left-wing position with Warnock appearing centrally. By pressing the opponent in their own half, Leeds could certainly add a whole new dimension to their play. By going out and challenging for the ball in positions whereby if intercepted, would place us directly at an advantage and in a dangerous position, and the opponents at a disadvantage, we ultimately could become a more unpredictable and uncontrollable outfit.
The system isn’t without its risks, and teams that play it usually need defenders with pace or very good reading of the game to cope when a long ball is clipped into the space behind the high defensive line, this being a necessary by-product of the advanced pressing tactic. Of the back four that will probably start against Brentford, Bellusci and Byram wouldn’t have many problems in this regard, and Stephen Warnock, despite not being the quickest, could compensate with his sharp eye for danger that has been in impressive evidence this season. Jason Pearce would probably be the biggest cause for concern if this system was implemented, as he can struggle when having to run back with agile forward players.
In any case, these are just musings, Milanic may not even put this tactic in place. The good thing about pondering at this moment as a Leeds fan is that it comes from a warm feeling that something great could happen, rather than just a dull smattering of ideas about what could get us by, as in previous campaigns.
Roll on three points at Brentford!

Leeds United: Big changes aren’t on agenda – Darko

Yorkshire Evening Post 26/9/14
by Phil Hay
Darko Milanic says he will leave Leeds United’s winning team largely untouched at Brentford tomorrow as he begins a demanding first week in his job as head coach.
Milanic promised to stick closely to the formula which brought Leeds 10 points from their last four games ahead of the start of another busy spell of three league fixtures in eight days.
The Slovenian will be thrown into the Championship this week, visiting Griffin Park tomorrow before returning to Elland Road for a clash with Reading on Wednesday night and a Yorkshire derby against Sheffield Wednesday next Saturday.
Milanic assumed control of Leeds’ squad from caretaker boss Neil Redfearn on Tuesday after leaving his job as coach of Austrian side Sturm Graz and signing a two-year deal in Yorkshire.
The 46-year-old, who said on Wednesday that academy manager Redfearn would be in the dug-out with him and new assistant Novica Nikcevic tomorrow, has taken charge of a side who recovered from a laboured start to the season by climbing towards the top half of the Championship with a 3-0 rout of Huddersfield last weekend.
Milanic said: “After a poor start the team got 10 points from the last four games.
“That means I won’t make any big changes.
“We have three games in one week and the start will be very important for me and the team. I’m already getting help and information, and the co-operation is very strong.
“The squad is quality but obviously there is still room for improvements.”
Leeds are two points adrift of the Championship’s play-off positions after a four-game unbeaten run but club owner Massimo Cellino set a target of promotion within two seasons when he bought a 75 per cent stake in United in April.
Milanic said: “The objectives are clear.
“In the near future the objective is the Premier League.
“He (Cellino) wants to be promoted and then stay there but promotion is not yet our primary objective this season.”

Brentford v Leeds United: Byram to return as Berardi starts ban

Yorkshire Evening Post 26/9/14
Sam Byram is set to return to Leeds United’s starting line-up on Saturday as Gaetano Berardi serves his second ban of the season.
Berardi will begin a two-match suspension during United’s visit to Brentford, opening the door for Byram to regain his place after a recent ban of his own.
Byram has been out of the team since receiving a red card at Watford last month, limited to brief substitutes appearances against Bournemouth and Huddersfield, but the dismissal of Berardi towards the end of Saturday’s Yorkshire derby has subjected him to another spell on the sidelines.
The Swiss right-back incurred a three-match ban after being sent off on his debut in the League Cup and he was punished again for two bookable offences by referee Chris Foy during Leeds’ 3-0 win over Huddersfield. That offence normally carries a one-game punishment but Berardi’s previous red card will see him miss United’s midweek clash with Reading too.
He will return to contention for next Saturday’s meeting with Sheffield Wednesday. Head coach Darko Milanic, who took his second training session at Thorp Arch yesterday, has few other selection issues to worry about ahead of tomorrow’s game at Griffin Park.
Aidan White and Lewis Walters have been absent for two months through injury but Steve Morison returned from a calf strain as a substitute in the win over Huddersfield.

Leeds United: There is no need to rip things up – Noel Whelan

Yorkshire Evening Post 26/9/14
Softly Softly: Former United striker Noel Whelan says Darko Milanic is starting his reign from a position of strength. Phil Hay reports.
Milanic talked of imposing “ideas” and “changes” on United’s squad but in his own time and at his own pace. Noel Whelan thinks the club’s new head coach would be wise to let continuity flow at Brentford. “This isn’t the time to rock the boat,” the former Leeds striker said.
Whelan watched his old club take Huddersfield Town apart last Saturday and described the performance at Elland Road as “the best Leeds have played for longer than I can remember.” He liked the interplay in midfield, the variety up front and the attacking abandon shown by United, even with 10 men and a 3-0 lead.
Tomorrow he expects Milanic to pick up the baton and run with it.
The Slovenian has had a handful of training sessions to prepare and will seek his first victory at Griffin Park, a stadium where Leeds have rarely played and rarely won. The crossbar kept out Luciano Becchio and Jermaine Beckford on their last visit, back in 2009. “It’s my first challenge,” said Milanic on Wednesday.
It was pointed out several times this week that Milanic had the advantage of acquiring a side who are blending together nicely after three wins from four games. “That means that I won’t make any big changes,” Milanic told a Slovenian newspaper yesterday.
“It’s usually the other way round,” Whelan said. “Normally a job comes up because players are struggling and the manager’s been sacked. The next coach gets the mess to deal with.
“That was the case when (David) Hockaday left and back then you’d have understood anyone ripping the team up and changing it about. But it would be wrong for (Milanic) to do that at Brentford and he’s experienced enough to realise that this Leeds team isn’t broken.
“The players were so dominant against Huddersfield and that’s the best Leeds have played for longer than I can remember.
“The movement and inter-changing in midfield was fantastic and the lads up top were dangerous. You had to admire the way they took every opportunity to attack, even when they’d had a player sent off and even when time was basically up.
“I felt a buzz around the place on Saturday and I can’t say it’s felt like that very often in the past few years.
“These are good times at the moment. Milanic will feel that. I don’t see him rocking the boat.”
Milanic is compelled to make at least one change to United’s line-up tomorrow with right-back Gaetano Berardi suspended, and he said that his initial training session on Tuesday had focused on United’s defensive shape.
The 46-year-old was an international centre-back in his day, capped by Yugoslavia and Slovenia and influential at both Partizan Belgrade and Sturm Graz, but he promised “dangerous” football at Leeds and “good possession”.
“Of the candidates for the job, I think most people – most supporters – had their minds fixed on other coaches,” Whelan said.
“Milanic wasn’t someone we knew much about and I don’t think he even figured in the betting.
“But it’s the owner’s (Massimo Cellino’s) choice and this guy does have a good track record.
“Sturm Graz are a very decent outfit and Maribor are a good club too. You see them in Europe a lot.
“From my point of view I think it’s fair choice.
“He’s new to England but he’s taking on a side who’ve been playing well and looked full of confidence against Huddersfield.
“That’s got to help. It lets him hit the ground running and if he gets a good result tomorrow, the transition will be underway already.”
Huddersfield was Neil Redfearn’s last game as caretaker of Leeds.
United’s academy boss handed the squad over to Milanic on Tuesday but not before suggesting that the squad at Elland Road – in trouble last month but suddenly more in tune and in shape – had the potential to make the Championship play-offs.
Milanic played down their chances this week and has already been told that Financial Fair Play rules will most likely see a transfer embargo imposed on Leeds in January.
“The key thing for Leeds is going to be injuries,” Whelan said.
“When they’re in form a lot of these players look impressive and in truth, the squad is pretty big. But it doesn’t look like they’ll be signing anyone in January so it’ll be long, hard season.
“I just think it’s encouraging to be talking about that sort of potential.
“Put it this way, I wouldn’t rule Leeds out of the top six.
It’ll be a big stretch to get there but I’m positive. Milanic must be too.
“He wouldn’t be leaving Sturm Graz and coming here for nothing”

Leeds sporting director Salerno comments on Adryan and Doukara

Here is the City 25/9/14
Dan Coombs
Leeds sporting director Nicola Salerno believes fans will soon see the best of Adryan.
Leeds pulled off one of the surprise deals of the summer when they secured the season long loan of Brazilian prospect Adryan.
The Flamengo owned star had previously been on loan with Cagliari, and is yet to make his debut for Leeds.
He has however been on the substitutes bench in recent matches, and it is likely to only be a matter of time before he makes a Championship appearance.
Sporting director Nicola Salerno agrees, and pledges the attacking midfielder will become a key player for the club.
He told TMW: "There are still bureaucratic details to be resolved. The boy is training. He came at a period of difficulty. Soon we will see the protagonist."
Salerno did not go into details regarding the issues, but it is unlikely to be anything to do with his registration with the Football League, as he has been cleared to be named on the bench in recent games.
It is not a major issue he appears concerned with, confident the youngster will soon be in the team.
He also had kind words to say about attacker Souleymane Doukara, who has impressed since returning from an injury sustained in August.
"He is a top attacker, he offers features maybe other teams do not have. When teams are getting tired he can make a difference."

Bureaucratic Issue Holds Up Adryan’s Leeds United Debut

Inside Futbol 25/9/14
Bureaucratic issues are preventing Brazilian playmaker Adryan from making his Leeds United debut.
Leeds pulled off a complex deal to snap up the attacking midfielder earlier this summer, with Flamengo, Cagliari and the player's agent all involved in the switch.
Adryan had been on loan, with a purchase option, at Italian Serie A side Cagliari from Flamengo.
However, Leeds were able to convince Cagliari to terminate the loan and Flamengo agree to a fresh loan of Adryan, with the Yorkshire giants now holding a purchase option.
Adryan has yet to play for Leeds, despite being a firm favourite of the club's hands-on owner Massimo Cellino.
According to Italian outlet Tutto Mercato, that is down to bureaucratic issues.
Indeed, a form relating to the deal is wanted by Leeds from Adryan's agent Reinaldo Pitta.
And while Pitta could send the document electronically, he has insisted on delivering it by hand.
Until it arrives at Elland Road, Adryan is unlikely to play for Leeds.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Pragmatic Milanic giving little away at his Leeds unveiling

Yorkshire Post 25/9/14
DESCRIBED as ‘a good-looking guy’ by his new boss Massimo Cellino, time will tell whether Leeds United head coach Darko Milanic proves just as easy on the eye with the club’s supporters.
Finally unveiled by United yesterday, the ex-Sturm Graz manager was the centrefold with Cellino, who stole the attention from David Hockaday on his first press conference on June 19, not in attendance this time around.
For Milanic, flanked by United sporting director Nicola Salerno, there were no early attempts at sugar-coated soundbytes to claim brownie points and win fans over. It is clear in his world, substance comes before cultivating style marks.
When asked about what was the most difficult thing about his job, former Prime Minister Harold MacMillan famously replied. ‘Events, dear boy, events’.
Dealing with events, on Saturday and in midweek, will be Milanic’s modus operandi.
For his full-time predecessor Hockaday, those events began at Millwall and for Milanic, they start across London at Brentford.
Milanic was crystal-clear on his first challenge; Saturday’s match, with no bold statement of intent like the one made by Hockaday, who pledged to make Leeds the ‘hardest working team in the league’.
Perhaps it was just as well...
As for the inherent risk of linking up with an owner who used 36 coaches during his 22 years at Cagliari, there was no talk of bucking the trend or anything like that, as you would expect from someone seasoned in European management.
His view on the notion of security of tenure could have been uttered by any fully-paid up member of the managers’ union in stating: ‘Our job is at risk every Saturday, every game. I have to do my best. It doesn’t worry me’.
As befitted an international-class centre-half in his playing days, the Slovenian, polite and professional, proved adept in giving little away at his unveiling, which was full of predictable platitudes, but not too much else.
Cellino, to be fair, alluded to as much beforehand in referring to Milanic as a pragmatic guy ‘who does not talk much.’
You sense another ex-international defender turned manager in Manuel Pellegrini would have approved in Milanic’s dealings, with the Chilean a master at saying little.
Yet if he does half as well as Pellegrini where it matters, no-one will be complaining at Leeds.
On how long it would take to get Leeds back into the Premier League Promised Land, Milanic straight-batted with a ‘very difficult to answer’.
On him still being here when his contract finishes in 2016, Milanic opined: ‘I live now, in this moment. I don’t look to 2016.’
A very wise answer.
Few genuine clues were provided about playing style, with any suggestion he is defensively-minded – he did state that his first training session at Thorp Arch was on defensive tactics – quickly counter-balanced by his desire for his team to be dangerous on the ball and ‘not defensive’.
Sense prevailed, with Milanic savvy enough to acknowledge he will draw upon the input of Neil Redfearn, who will remain in the dug-out, in the weeks ahead.
In terms of revelations, the best we got was Milanic’s surprise at being offered the job, with Salerno and not Cellino contacting him about it.
It was all in marked contrast to the summer unveiling of Hockaday, who said the polar opposite when asked exactly the same question.
But just as with the reign of Hockaday, results will be Milanic’s making or breaking.

Leeds United: Football League quiet amidst fresh claims over Cellino test

Yorkshire Evening Post 25/9/14
THE Football League has refused to comment on fresh claims that the written judgement from a tax conviction imposed on Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino could put him in breach of the governing body’s owners and directors test.
A spokesman for the League said it was still to receive a copy of a report which is casting renewed doubt over Cellino’s future as majority shareholder at Elland Road.
The 58-year-old bought Leeds in April after successfully appealing against an attempt by the Football League to ban him from taking control of United.
Cellino was disqualified on the basis of a court case in March in which a Sardinian court found him guilty of failing to pay import duty on a private yacht.
An independent QC upheld a subsequent appeal by Cellino on the grounds that he could not be certain if Cellino was guilty of a dishonest offence – the basis on which the Football League disqualifies prospective owners and directors – until the judge hearing the case, Dr Sandra Lepore, published a full written judgement.
Her reasoning was due to be released in mid-June but a delay in receiving it led Football League chief executive Shaun Harvey to speak out this month, saying the absence of the judgement was leaving “a cloud hanging over” Cellino’s buy-out.
The YEP, however, revealed 10 days ago that the League has not formally requested a copy of the report from the court in Cagliari.
League rules require owners and directors to inform it of issues which might breach its regulations, rather than requiring the governing body to look for breaches itself.
But a report in The Guardian newspaper yesterday quoted what it said were extracts from Lepore’s judgement, accusing Cellino of “elusive intent” and “Machiavellian simulation” in avoiding import duty on the yacht, Nelie.
In response, a spokesman for the League said: “The Football League has not yet been provided with a copy of the Italian court’s judgment and therefore cannot make any comment regarding its specific contents at the current time.”
As well as applying its owners and directors test before sanctioning the takeover of a club, the League has the right to order incumbent owners and directors to undertake the examination again at a later date.
Cellino, who has been in charge of United since April 7 and bought the club at a time when they were losing more than £1m a month, has appealed Lepore’s original verdict and continues to maintain that he cannot be classed as guilty until the case passes through three stages of Italian law. He told the YEP that he was yet to see a copy of Lepore’s judgement.
Sources close to the Italian, meanwhile, say he will fight any attempt by the League to oust him from Elland Road.

Leeds United: Darko - I’ll cope with pressure

Yorkshire Evening Post 25/9/14
DARKO Milanic last night spoke of his pride at becoming Leeds United’s new head coach and played down Massimo Cellino’s ruthless reputation, saying: “It doesn’t worry me.”
The Slovenian promised “aggressive, dangerous” football at Elland Road after signing a two-year deal to become United’s first-ever continental boss.
Milanic ended the club’s four-week wait to replace David Hockaday by accepting an offer from Cellino on Tuesday and his reign will begin in earnest on Saturday when Leeds travel to Brentford for their ninth league game for the season.
The former Sturm Graz boss said he had been set no specific targets by Cellino beyond gradually honing a young Leeds squad for promotion to the Premier League and he insisted that the Italian’s track record of regularly dismissing coaches was of no concern to him.
Hockaday – the first head coach appointed by Cellino after his takeover of United – lasted for only 70 days in the job but Milanic said: “Our job is at risk every Saturday, every game. I have to do my best. It doesn’t worry me.
“We want to go in the future to the Premier League and I’m proud to be here. I try to do my best. Everyone has pressure, it’s not new to me.
“I’m here to coach. I’m here to give my ideas on the pitch. My first challenge is Saturday’s match.”
Milanic activated a ‘walk-out’ clause in his deal at Graz in order to take charge at Leeds, quitting the Austrian club last weekend at a cost of over £200,000.
The ex-Partizan Belgrade defender has never worked in England before but he contested a number of Europa League ties in Britain while in charge of Slovenian side Maribor.
Milanic said: “I enjoyed it in England. Two years ago we played against Tottenham and we played against Birmingham, and in Scotland.
“For me it’s very emotional to be a coach here.”

Leeds United: Humble Milanic is excited by challenge

Yorkshire Evening Post 25/9/14
Humble and positive. A man who prefers hard work to cheap talk. Those were Massimo Cellino’s words and very much the first impression of Darko Milanic yesterday.
Leeds United’s new head coach is the polar opposite of the man he will work for at Elland Road: no hyperbole, no drama and no desire to be in the public eye any longer than necessary. New to England and new to Leeds, he was asked at the start of his first press conference what his unique selling points were. “It’s difficult for me to answer,” Milanic said. “It’s better that other people say ‘these are my good things, these are my bad things.’”
David Hockaday was accused of a streak of arrogance and over-confidence when Cellino presented him as United’s head coach in June but there was none of that with Milanic, the man who has replaced him four weeks after Hockaday’s sacking. By his own admission, Milanic was surprised to be chosen – unaware of interest from Leeds until the club’s sporting director, Nicola Salerno, phoned him out of the blue. In terms of his attitude, the 46-year-old set out on the right foot.
Salerno was with him yesterday but Cellino was not. There is never a quiet moment at Elland Road and by yesterday lunchtime United’s president was contemplating a legal threat to his ownership which will not go away. Milanic must be blissfully unaware of that and, left as the centre of attention by Cellino, he spoke sensibly and he spoke well.
His appointment at Leeds was not without sacrifices. He bought his way out of a three-year contract at Sturm Graz last week and left his family behind in Austria. He agreed that he would need time and help to feel his way into his new post and promised to use the advice of Neil Redfearn in the meantime. Redfearn – the club’s academy manager and, for the past four games, their first-team caretaker – will be on the bench alongside Milanic at Brentford on Saturday.
“I’m very motivated and excited about the job,” Milanic said. “I know this is a very big traditional club with great supporters and they have very good quality in the team. I’m proud to be here and I’ll try to do my best.
“Because of Leeds, because of this big, big club, it was not a difficult decision to come here. On the other side, I did a good job (at Sturm Graz) and I was a player in Austria for eight years so I have a lot of good friends there. My family is still there too. But from a professional point of view, it was not a difficult decision.”
Cellino says he became aware of Milanic during his five years as coach of Maribor in Slovenia, a trophy-laden period in which Maribor played in Britain four times in Europa League fixtures, but the two men met for the first time earlier this month. Milanic described Cellino as “very intelligent” but said he had taken a two-year contract at Leeds with no demands about timescales for promotion. Cellino’s priority, Milanic said, was to steadily prepare a young squad for life in the Premier League.
“I did a great job with Maribor but not in one month,” Milanic said. “I have no time-limit here. I just have to do a great job as soon as possible.
“When we (he and Cellino) talked last Sunday, he told me my job is to make the squad better, to get better on the field and get prepared to play in the Premier League. I’m only concentrating on the extremely important first game. I live now, in this moment. I don’t look to 2016.
“Is the quality here different? Yes. It’s two or three levels better.
“People in Europe talk about the Championship as being hard and aggressive and I think this is true. It’s very difficult in the Championship. So in the first few days I have to adapt myself as quickly as possible.”
It did not take long for the subject of Cellino’s record with hiring and firing coaches to arise. Hockaday, Milanic was reminded, survived for only 70 days – the third shortest-serving coach in United’s history behind Brian Clough and Jock Stein. Milanic did not seem tempted to point out that his track record, his qualifications and his tally of medals are superior to Hockaday’s but it is true that he gave up a secure contract at Graz, quitting a club who employed him as a player, an assistant and latterly their head coach through the 2013-14 season.
“Our job is at risk every Saturday, every game,” Milanic said.
“It doesn’t worry me. I have to do my best.
“But I have good results behind me. Everyone has pressure. It’s not new to me.
“Football is about moments. I was totally concentrated on my job at Sturm so when Nicola contacted me I was surprised, yes. For me it’s very emotional to be a coach here. For everyone, Leeds is a big name. Three weeks ago they were far away for me but now I’m here. They played once in the Champions League and the UEFA Cup and the supporters are with the club. I’ve seen that in two days.”
Milanic is multilingual, a talent which should help him in a cosmopolitan dressing room. Salerno revealed that Milanic – a native of Izola in what is now Slovenia and was formerly Yugoslavia – speaks four languages: English, Italian, Croatian and German. Cellino decided that a foreign coach was essential after his failed experiment with Hockaday but he did not want to take the easy route by sourcing one from Italy. Milanic, in his view, has a broader outlook and a more colourful background.
“We need a international coach because we have an international team,” Salerno said. “Milanic is the best for us at this moment. He speaks Italian, German, Croatian and English.” That covers most of United’s players.
Milanic took training at Thorp Arch for the first time on Tuesday, introducing himself to a squad who have won three of their last four games and taken 10 points from 12. He made adjustments defensively but gave the impression that the tactics and team used by Redfearn against Huddersfield Town last weekend would not be dismantled or changed with undue haste. That applied to the involvement of academy players, the likes of Lewis Cook and Alex Mowatt. “They told me the academy does a very good job,” Milanic said. “I had one session with the team and there are some good young players.”
Not all of the appraisals of Milanic from Austria have been entirely flattering. One journalist called him “ultra-conservative” while others say the one-time Partizan Belgrade centre-back tends to sway towards cautious tactics.
Milanic countered that suggestion, saying: “I like the fans to come and have fun. You have to have order on the pitch and be aggressive but I don’t mean we’ll play defensive. I want to play with good possession and be dangerous with the ball.
“In the first (instance), it’s important to keep the enthusiasm here. The guys have won three games and made a great job in the last four games. It’s important we do that in the next game too but I want to make some changes tactically. I’ve already had one small session to give something else in defence.”
Throughout his press conference he stuck to the here-and-now, never talking out of turn about his own potential or making too much of his past achievements. Coaches are like watermelons, Cellino often says; you only find out about them when you break them open. It appears that in Milanic he has one with an intelligent, unassuming core.