Thursday, May 21, 2015

Leeds boss Rosler makes good first impression at Elland Road

Yorkshire Post 20/5/15
UWE ROSLER has been through plenty in his 46 years.
From being brought up in Communist East Germany under the notorious eye of the dreaded secret police, the Stasi, to winning a battle with lung cancer after doctors diagnosed a tumour which was the size of a tennis ball pressing against his windpipe just over a decade ago.
In life, he has displayed his fighting qualities, almost as a badge of honour.
Testimony to that is the name of his autobiography which is entitled Knocking Down Walls – in deference to his former life on the eastern side of the Berlin Wall under the repressive regime of Erich Honecker.
Clearly a figure not to be intimidated earlier, having held firm amid interrogation from the Stasi, when being encouraged to spy on his young East German team-mates as a young and vulnerable boy going it alone in his quest to carve out a career in the beautiful game.
Don’t let it be said that he does not possess character either.
Not many mullet-haired Germans with little grasp of English go onto become a King of the Kippax at Manchester City without having a little something.
But now Rosler faces his biggest challenge of his footballing life 30-odd miles east across the M62. Namely proving his longevity as a head coach at Leeds United under the command of a figure who is refered to as “mangia-allenatori” in his native Italy, the manager-eater.
Owner Massimo Cellino, perhaps wisely, was absent from Rosler’s unveiling as the club’s new head coach yesterday lunch-time in the Bremner Suite at Elland Road, where five days earlier he had presided over a thoroughly disorderly and choatic press conference, which provided precious little clarity and did Leeds few favours.
Sitting alongside the impassioned Italian that afternoon was executive director Adam Pearson, with his second press conference in a week a far more orderly and structured affair than the previous one.
Yesterday’s slick meeting with the media was comfortably under half the length of Thursday’s rambling soliloquy on behalf of the Cellino party and achieved plenty more.
Pearson, just over a week into his post, delivered a pretty immaculate performance and showed just why he had been brought to the club by Cellino.
After the lack of clarity surrounding the issue of Neil Redfearn, Pearson provided clear answers when it might as well have resembled the elephant in the room five days earlier.
Explicitness also in the way forward with an ‘extremely strong and capable’ football secretary, head of recruitment, first-team coach and an assistant to Rosler to be announced in the next week.
Announcements on pre-season in due course, it was like ticks on a shopping list.
For his part, Rosler also said all the right things, paying rightful credit to his predecessor Redfearn, while articulating his footballing philosophy with coherence and without resorting to hackneyed cliches and be genuinely engaging at the same time.
It was a refreshing departure from the unconvincing utterances of David Hockaday last June, when he spoke about making Leeds ‘the hardest working team in the league’ and colourless refrains of Darko Milanic as the leaves fell in the autumn.
We learnt about Rosler’s footballing credos, a German style of play based on quick transitions to attack and defence and a pressing game, employing a 4-3-3 formation with a 3-5-2 as a variant. Squad rotation when needs arise.
Powerhouse, high-voltage, ‘Heavy Metal’ football as Rosler put it. In the best traditions of that powerhouse footballing exponent in Jurgen Klopp, whose acclaimed Borussia Dortmund outfit of a few seasons ago were all energy and industry.
Rosler also elicited that operating under a head of recruitment is something that is his prefered mode of working, having successfully worked with a sporting director in Mark Warburton at Brentford and others in his time as a manager on the continent. That clearly ticks a box in the eyes of Cellino.
Rosler displayed an aptitude to talk the talk and now it is about walking the walk under Cellino.
The former Wigan and Brentford manager, who has signed a two-year-deal, adhered to his Teutonic roots by regularly referring to order and structure and capacity for hard work in terms of his work credo and you sense Pearson was nodding inwardly. The two can do business, you feel.
A clue to Rosler’s diligence and organisational skills followed when he revealed that his footballing philosophy to Cellino in a presentation in his office, with some animated discussions following.
On his first dealings with Cellino, Rosler, far from cowed, said: “I thought it was very interesting and I really enjoyed it.
“He is a very knowledgeable football man and we talked a lot about tactics.
“I showed him a presentation of my style of play and we discussed a lot of football and I think he has got a pretty good idea of what I am looking for in terms of recruitment.”
At the end of the press conference, Pearson thanked the media for attending and spoke about these events becoming a regular occurrence in a way which suggested that he hoped there are not too many more in the weeks and months ahead.
Amen to that, most Leeds United supporters would probably say.