Thursday, April 30, 2015

Leeds United: Steve Thompson return key to my future - Redfearn

Yorkshire Evening Post 30/4/15
Phil Hay
Neil Redfearn believes Leeds United are still undecided about his future as head coach and says he will ask the club to reinstate his suspended assistant, Steve Thompson, if they move to renew his contract.
Speaking ahead of what could be his last game in charge, the Leeds boss admitted an agreement which brings Thompson back to Elland Road would be a crucial part of any discussions about an extension of his own deal.
Redfearn and United’s owner, Massimo Cellino, are expected to meet for talks next week with Cellino’s Football League disqualification almost at an end.
The Italian’s short-term ban - imposed on him following his conviction for tax evasion last year - runs out this Sunday, allowing him to retake control of a club with countless pressing issues.
Redfearn’s position is up in the air with his contract set to run out after Saturday’s match against Rotherham United and the club yet to inform him if they will take up an option to extend his deal for another 12 months.
The 49-year-old anticipated a decision ahead of the end of the Championship season but developments regarding his future will wait until Cellino is reinstalled at Elland Road on Monday.
Redfearn, however, is prepared to fight Thompson’s corner following the sudden and unexplained suspension of his number two last month.
Thompson was removed from his post and told that his contract would not be renewed when it ran out this summer, a decision Leeds said was taken by their sporting director, Nicola Salerno.
The reasons for suspending Thompson, who is being advised by the League Managers’ Association, have never been outlined but Leeds lost five matches back-to-back following his departure on April 4. They ended that run with a win at Sheffield Wednesday last Saturday.
Redfearn, who has repeatedly stated that he would seek assurances from United about key issues before agreeing to remain as head coach, said: “That’s got to be resolved. Steve’s been suspended but I don’t think there’s been an inquiry since. It would be nice to know what’s at the bottom of it. It would be good if I could get Steve back.
“That for me would be a big plus and I think it’s important for me to know that that would happen. Steve came in and made a big difference. We worked well together. For me going forward, as a pair we compliment each other well. If we could do something about that it would be a big plus.”
Redfearn has had no discussions about his job with anyone at Leeds during Cellino’s absence and chairman Andrew Umbers told the YEP last week that a decision on United’s head coach would be made by Cellino after the end of the Italian’s Football League ban.
Asked if he thought Cellino had already made up his mind, Redfearn said: “It seems like they’ve not decided either way or I’d have thought that by this point they’d have told me.
“They know what I’m like and they know I’m professional enough to get on with it, if it was a case of ‘look, we’re going to change it in the summer.’ If it was only to the end of this season I’d have been professional and done it. It leads me to think that they’re undecided.
“Probably next week it’ll unravel and whatever will happen will happen. The club will move on.”
Cellino has been given permission by the Football League to go to Saturday’s match - the last of the Championship term - and to be present at the club’s end-of-season awards ceremony later than night.
The 58-year-old told the YEP on Tuesday that he was yet to decided if he would attend either event. Sections of Leeds’ support have protested against him during recent matches - venting their frustration at the end of a turbulent season - and are likely to do so again on Saturday.
Redfearn, who could still be offered the chance to resume his previous role as academy boss if Leeds turn to a new head coach, admitted that it would “hurt” him to be overlooked after a season in which he and his squad fought a successful battle against relegation.
But the former Barnsley midfielder said: “I’m a professional person and I understand how football works. I said last week that I’ve got no divine right to be manager of Leeds United but I’d love to be in charge next season. That goes without saying.
“I can see the way forward and by that I mean I can see the young players getting better and better. I can see us adding other players to it. I can see the experienced players who are here growing and taking responsibility. I can see the majority of the overseas lads finding their feet. I can see it taking off. Why wouldn’t I want to be part of that?”

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Leeds United: Football League give Cellino permission to attend Rotherham game

Yorkshire Evening Post 28/4/15
The Football League has granted Massimo Cellino permission to attend Saturday’s game against Rotherham United - but Leeds United’s disqualified owner is yet to decide if he will turn up.
The governing body confirmed today that it had authorised a request from Leeds for Cellino to be present at the last match of the Championship season, 24 hours before the end of his ownership ban.
Cellino was barred from running Leeds or exerting control over the club’s day-to-day affairs in January but his suspension expires this weekend, allowing him to retake control at Elland Road on Monday morning.
The 58-year-old told the YEP that he would be back at Leeds next week but admitted he was in two minds about whether to attend the Rotherham game or the club’s annual awards ceremony on Saturday night.
The Football League said Cellino would be permitted to be present at both events “on the basis that he is attending as a spectator only.”
The League’s regulations have banned the Italian from attending United’s first-team fixtures without specific permission throughout his disqualification.
Cellino has been officially absent from Elland Road since resigning his position as president on January 23, a week after losing an appeal against the League’s attempt to bar him.
He was found to be breach of the League’s Owners and Directors Test following his conviction for tax evasion in Italy. League rules forbid him from acting as a “relevant person” at Leeds.
Cellino is still attempting to overturn his disqualification via the Football Association’s arbitration process but he is into the final week of his penalty and the League have not opposed a request from United chairman Andrew Umbers for Cellino to watch Saturday’s fixture.
A spokesman for the Football League said: “It’s on the basis that he’s attending as a spectator only (and) not fulfilling any role that would lead to him being defined as a relevant person under League regulations.
“We’ve also confirmed he can attend the club’s end-of-season awards dinner.”
Speaking a week ago, Umbers said: “We’ve really tried to abide by everything that the Football League have told us to abide by - all their rules, all their regulations, all their unwritten rules. I think we’ve done it successfully.
“It’s the last game, I’ve asked the Football League whether he can come back.”
Umbers was appointed chairman on the day of Cellino’s resignation from the Elland Road board and the 50-year-old financier has been in charge of the day-to-day running of Leeds for the past three months.
Cellino spent much of that period abroad in Miami but he has returned to England at a time of much confusion and unrest at United.
Neil Redfearn, the club’s head coach, is one game away from the end of his contract and has still to be offered an extension, despite apparent support for him among the club’s fans. Redfearn lost his assistant, Steve Thompson, earlier this month when Thompson was unexpectedly suspended for reasons which have not been publicly explained.
The controversial withdrawal of six players through injury before a recent defeat at Charlton Athletic, meanwhile, sparked vociferous protests against Cellino from an away crowd of 3,000 at The Valley, including chants of “time to go Massimo” and “sell the club and f*** off home.” More muted dissent was heard during last weekend’s 2-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday and protests are likely during the Rotherham game.
Asked if he would attend Saturday’s match, Cellino said: “I don’t know. I haven’t decided.
“The Football League say I’m allowed to go but I don’t know what I’ll do. I need a clear head and I need to start again with everything next week. I’m not decided.”
Cellino said he was aware of anger towards him from United’s supporters after a turbulent first year as owner. “I know what’s been said, I know the fans say things, but supporters do this,” he said. “They come to the games, they watch the football, they say what they want to say.
“But no-one should use the fans as a weapon. I wouldn’t use them as a weapon.”
Cellino declined to comment on Redfearn’s future or other specific matters, saying he would “speak about it all when I’m back next week” but he said suggestions that Leeds were interested in appointing Burton manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink as their new head coach was “just more talk. Forget it.”
The former Cagliari owner, however, said he was worried about the current situation at Leeds and claimed he was returning to “more problems than I had when I went away three months ago.”
“What you read and what you hear, it’s not good,” Cellino said. “I think it’s worse than before but I’ll only find out when I’m back in the club. There is a lot to do, I know that.
“What I’m happy about is that we’re still in the Championship. There was a time when we were in big trouble, in the s***, but we are still there.”
The terms of Redfearn’s short-term deal state that Leeds must make a decision on his future before the end of this season but that deadline will pass without a resolution. Redfearn said last week that he expected to sit down for discussions with Cellino after the Italian’s disqualification formally ends on Sunday.
Redfearn’s contract also gives him the option of returning to his previous job as academy boss this summer but he cast doubt over his willingness to take up that position again after six months in charge of the first team
“I’ve got to have that conversation with the owner,” Redfearn said after Saturday’s win at Hillsborough.
“With where the club is and with the talent we’ve got coming through the academy – which has been the fruits of all the academy staff, not just me; everybody that’s been involved – I’d say I’m in the best place (as head coach) to develop that and harness that.
“Now if that opinion’s not shared, that’s no problem. That’s football. But then I’ll have to have a real, long hard think about what’s right for me.”

Hasselbaink link to Leeds casts a shadow over Redfearn

Yorkshire Post 28/4/15
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s agent has claimed that his former club Leeds United have shown an interest in possibly bringing him back to Elland Road as head coach.
The future of Neil Redfearn remains in serious doubt at Leeds, with the 49-year-old having only one more match left in charge before his contract expires.
Hasselbaink has helped Burton Albion clinch promotion into League One for the first time in their history and his agent Humphrey Nijman said: ‘They (Leeds) have shown interest, but there is nothing decided yet.
“That is all I can say about it.”
Redfearn has the support of players, staff and a majority of Whites supporters, who are keen for him to remain as the club’s head coach next season.
But last week Redfearn admitted that he had “no god-given right” to be in charge and also insisted that the club was “more important than me”. Redfearn’s position was weakened by the suspension of assistant head coach Steve Thompson earlier this month.
Redfearn says has no idea if he will be at the club next season – or if new terms will be discussed this week – despite his future having contractually to be decided before Saturday’s home game with Rotherham United.
He stated last week that he needs to have a “sit down and think” about his long-term future, with the former Academy coach keen for certain assurances, even if he is offered a new deal to stay in charge.
Hasselbaink scored 42 goals for Leeds in 87 appearances at the club between 1997 and 1999.
The 43-year-old took over at Burton in November following Gary Rowett’s departure to Birmingham and the Brewers will clinch the League Two title if they win at Cambridge on Sunday.
Speaking last June prior to the appointment of David Hockaday, Nijman said that the head coach position at Leeds was something that would have potentially interested Hasselbaink last summer, although he would not be drawn on whether he had applied for the position.
Nijman said yesterday: “Of course, it would interest him. Jimmy now has experience as a manager and would like to continue with that. Jimmy is keeping his options open. Any that come up and would interest him, for sure, he would be in touch.”

Monday, April 27, 2015

Leeds United: Redfearn has backing of everyone at the club – Taylor

Yorkshire Evening Post 27/4/15
Phil Hay
Charlie Taylor threw his support behind Neil Redfearn after Leeds United’s 2-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday, claiming Redfearn had the backing of “everyone at the club” and saying a decision to keep him next season was a “no-brainer”.
The 21-year-old gave United’s head coach a vote of confidence after his goal at Hillsborough helped end a frustrating run of five successive defeats.
Leeds fought back from a Chris Maguire penalty to level through Taylor’s 57th-minute tap-in and then win a tight derby with Steve Morison’s second strike in as many games.
Redfearn and his players took appreciative applause from an away following of 4,000, many of whom sat through a 6-0 thrashing at Hillsborough last season, and attention afterwards turned again to the future of United’s boss with only one match remaining before his contract expires.
Taylor – an academy product who has become a first-team regular during Redfearn’s tenure – said Saturday’s win was “for Neil and the fans” and insisted that the squad at Leeds wanted the 49-year-old to remain in charge next season.
Tensions at Elland Road have been evident in the past fortnight, heightened by the controversy surrounding the withdrawal of six players before Leeds’ 2-1 defeat at Charlton Athletic on April 18.
None of those players featured in Redfearn’s squad at Hillsborough, though one of them – defender Giuseppe Bellusci – tweeted later saying he was “happy we made this victory.”
Asked if he wanted Redfearn to remain in charge, Taylor said: “Yes, 100 per cent. I don’t think there’s any player at the club who doesn’t want him to stay. Everyone’s right behind him. It’s a no-brainer for me really.
“I think everyone at the club (wants him to stay on). All the players do. Hopefully he’s here next year and we can give it a real good crack. He’s handled it all brilliantly. Nothing seems to faze him and he’s out on the training ground every day. He’s on his own but he’s doing a great job.
“Obviously you can see that the fans are behind him and every one of the players is behind him. That win’s for Neil and the fans as well.”
United have been plagued by off-field issues since the end of the last international break and they went into Saturday’s derby on the back of six matches without a win.
Maguire’s 35th-minute penalty gave Wednesday a half-time lead but Taylor turned the game when he latched onto Luke Murphy’s deflected free-kick and stabbed the ball home from close range in front of the Leppings Lane end.
“It was a bit scrappy but a goal’s a goal and it’s one I’ll definitely take,” he said. “It was a great feeling to get the win for the fans. To get one over Yorkshire rivals in a derby game is brilliant.
“There’s no hiding that things have been going on behind the scenes here but the players have just got to focus on going out each Saturday and getting a result. You’ve just got to try and forget about it and do your best. I don’t see why we can’t make a big challenge next season, with a few good signings. We’ve just got to try and look forward.”
United, who are 15th in the Championship, will finish their season at home to Rotherham United this weekend.

Sheffield Wednesday 1 Leeds United 2: Heartfelt ‘fighting talk’ from Redfearn

Yorkshire Evening Post 26/4/15
Phil Hay
Neil Redfearn said he would fight for his “voice to be heard” at Leeds United after Saturday’s 2-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday moved him a step closer to a decision on his future as head coach.
Redfearn admitted that his willingness to accept an extension to his contract would rest on the level of authority given to him by the club and their banned owner, Massimo Cellino – and hinted that he would not rush into reclaiming his old job as academy boss.
Leeds’ victory at Hillsborough carried them into the final week of a hard Championship season and Redfearn’s squad will complete their campaign at home to Rotherham United this Saturday.
United are headed for a mid-table finish after their performance in Sheffield ended a run of five straight defeats and left them in 15th position.
The conclusion of the Rotherham game will bring Redfearn’s situation to a head with his existing deal due to expire this summer and Cellino poised to retake control of Leeds once his Football League disqualification ends on Sunday.
Redfearn, who became head coach on a permanent basis in November, remains in the dark about his job and is yet to have any discussions with the club about their plans for him.
“I want this club to be mobile,” Redfearn said. “My voice needs to be heard, my experience needs to be listened to and then we need to get our heads together. We need to agree on things. If we do that we’ve got a great chance of getting out of this division.”
Redfearn’s contract includes an option giving Leeds the right to extend his tenure for another 12 months but it also offers him the chance to resume his role in United’s academy – the job he left to take charge of the first-team squad.
Asked if he was still open to the possibility of working at youth-team level again, Redfearn said: “I’ve got to have that conversation with the owner.
“With where the club is and with the talent we’ve got coming through the academy – which has been the fruits of all the academy staff, not just me; everybody that’s been involved – I’d say I’m in the best place (as head coach) to develop that and harness that.
“Now if that opinion’s not shared, that’s no problem. That’s football. But then I’ll have to have a real, long hard think about what’s right for me.”
Redfearn insisted that he retained the support of the squad at Elland Road, saying: “They’re buying into what I’m doing. When me and Steve (Thompson, United’s suspended assistant) were together, they were buying into it wholeheartedly.
“They’ve wanted to show that they’re behind it and that’s been really apparent. It was apparent in the run that got us out of trouble and it was apparent in this game (at Hillsborough).”

Sheffield Wednesday 1 Leeds United 2: More reasons for Whites to keep Redfearn

Yorkshire Evening Post 26/4/15
Phil Hay
Elland Road is not the only ground where thoughts of the summer weigh heavily. For Sheffield Wednesday the coming close season will count – and count for little unless they get it right.
Leeds United got what they wanted at Hillsborough – an overdue win and redemption for their annihilation at the same stadium last year – but they and Wednesday are both gazing ahead; Wednesday with a new owner and Leeds with an incumbent steward who will be retake control of the club a week today.
If Massimo Cellino had been in Sheffield, and it is not yet known if the Football League will grant permission for him to attend the last game of the season against Rotherham United, he would have taken comfort from the fact that pound-for-pound, Wednesday have no more to work with than Leeds this summer. And on the evidence of a pleasing second half, arguably less.
He would have seen too how the club’s players stood up for their head coach, prising out a win at a stage of the season where five straight losses and the fragility of Neil Redfearn’s job might have encouraged every man to fend for himself. The crowd were with Redfearn again but the crowd have been with him for a while. Only deaf ears can fail to register that.
In short, the frustration was all Wednesday’s as they finished Saturday’s game with five strikers on the pitch and not a single idea about how to break open Leeds’ defence.
Stuart Gray’s squad is devoid of goals and the whole of the Championship knows it but their blunt prodding was excruciating as United recovered from a first-half penalty and picked Wednesday off.
Leeds made the most of the moment at full-time, massed in celebration at the Leppings Lane end, but the result which matters depends on what comes next. As Redfearn admitted, an awful lot of clubs are planning for next season and planning as he speaks. Sheffield Wednesday are one of them. He will look for decisive movement from Cellino – with his own position and other matters – when the Italian’s ban as owner of United ends next week.
There is little more that Redfearn can say about his contract. It ends shortly and the extension of it depends entirely on the tone and spirit of discussions between him and Cellino, but his message to Leeds was that time is of the essence.
“If you’re going to plan and put things in place, the idea of planning is to do things early,” Redfearn said. “You should try and get things in place early on.
“Everyone else is going through the same process. Leeds United aren’t on their own. The rest of the sides in the Championship are planning for next season and planning to get promoted. We’ve got to be ahead of them. In the name of planning and preparing, it (a decision on his future) has got to be done early.
“I’ve got training next week, then the game against Rotherham, and then I’ve got to sit down with the owner and see what he wants to do. I’ve got to have a good think about what I want to do, too.
“I want to be at Leeds United and be successful. I don’t want to be at Leeds United and be a mid-table side or a side who are fighting relegation every year. I want to get this side out of this division. Because it’s good enough.”
It is patently not good enough as it stands but Saturday reminded everyone of the talent that Leeds could build around with well-targeted transfers. It could be said, also, that the relationship between the current team and United’s support is, in the main, tighter and healthier than it was a year ago when Brian McDermott was counting down the days to the end of his tenure as manager. The win at Hillsborough in a mid-table derby counted for nothing in a competitive sense but when it came, it felt like it mattered.
Steve Morison won it with a 72nd-minute finish, his second in two games after months and months spent scratching around for a goal. The joke afterwards was that he was coming into form at the perfect time but Morison has been an under-appreciated part of United’s season; involved in the better stages of it and a reliable figure at the front of a formation which worked when it needed to.
The striker took two attempts to beat Keiren Westwood, drawing a save from the Wednesday goalkeeper before stabbing the rebound into a badly-guarded net, but the goal was coming. Leeds were bringing Gray’s side onto them, waiting for any chance to counter-attack at pace. Sam Byram, who conceded the penalty before half-time, made the winning goal by tearing over the halfway line and picking out Morison when a crossfield pass to Charlie Taylor looked more obvious.
“I thought we were the better side even at 1-0 down,” Redfearn said. “We got in front of goal half-a-dozen times when perhaps we should have scored.
“We spoke at half-time about raising our game a little bit. We needed to step it up and we started getting about them. They started to crack.”
Wednesday’s defence is renowned as one of the best in the Championship but Leeds did not find it in that state. Alex Mowatt should have scored in the first minute, played in by the excellent Byram but denied by the legs of Westwood, and they kept the game goalless for half an hour by choosing the wrong passes and overlooking unmarked players.
Wednesday pressed in periods but their goal on 36 minutes came from a cheap penalty, conceded when Byram tripped Lloyd Isgrove as the forward tried to retrieve a corner. The decision was tight and debatable and both Redfearn and Sol Bamba ranted at referee Robert Madley, Bamba to the brink of a red card. Replays showed later that the decision was as good as difficult penalty calls get and Chris Maguire converted from the spot.
Redfearn was as upset when Jeremy Helan’s earlier sliding tackle took out Byram on the very edge of Wednesday’s area. “I thought ours was a penalty and I thought there’s wasn’t,” he said. “But then I looked on the video at half-time and realised I got both wrong. The referee got both right, to the point where I collared him in the tunnel and apologised to him. I got a little bit irate.”
Gray claimed Wednesday were worth their advantage at the interval but Maguire’s strike was a reward for a very ordinary half. Leeds played further up the pitch after the restart and turned the game through Charlie Taylor’s equaliser on 57 minutes.
There was nothing magical about the build-up – a free-kick from Murphy which hit the wall, bundled on by Morison and tapped in by Taylor – but it asked an awkward question of Wednesday’s strikers. Nothing in the Owls’ performance suggested a second goal was coming and even after Morison’s winner, both Taylor and Rodolph Austin could have killed Wednesday off in the dying minutes. The home crowd struggled to swallow what they were watching.
They, naturally, yearn for better from an owner who has already committed £1m to replacing an awful pitch at Hillsborough. Redfearn’s ambition at this stage is simply that Leeds find a way to move forward from here.
“I’m hoping that what’s been put in place is utilised, whether I’m here or not,” he said. “That’s the idea. All along the message from the owner was that I was building. We’ve kept the side in this division and then some. We’ve made strides forward in a difficult season. If we can harness that and add players to it, it could get us out of this division.”

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Redfearn - I want to be at Leeds and be successful

Vital Leeds 26/4/15
Leeds United head coach Neil Redfearn says he wants the club to be challenging for promotion and not in a relegation scrap if he remains in charge next season.
Redfearn`s future is still unclear at Elland Road under Massimo Cellino and next weekend could be his final game in charge having taken over the job in November until the end of the season.
The former academy manager at Elland Road has pulled the side away from the relegation zone and their future in the championship was all but guaranteed by the end of March, as Leeds became one of the form sides in the championship in the second half of the season.
Redfearn had brought in former teammate Steve Thompson in as his assistant before the New Year and the pair led Leeds from just a point above the relegation zone at the turn of the year to the top half as Leeds put together a run of just three defeats in fifteen games.
Leeds were finally looking like a side on the rise until the club surprisingly sacked Thompson at the end of March to put Redfearn`s own future at the club in doubt.
The win at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday ended a run of five straight defeats for Leeds since the departure of Thompson and Redfearn, who is a lifelong Leeds supporter, says he only wants to remain with the club if they are to be challenging for success.
"I want to be at Leeds United but I want to be at Leeds United and be successful,"Redfearn told BBC Radio Leeds.
"I don`t want to be at Leeds United and be a mid-table side, I don`t want to be fighting relegation every year, I want to take this side up.
"If we are all thinking along the same lines and they are happy with it, then it is for me. I want this club to be successful. The supporters that turn out deserve success.
"The building blocks are in place. We are a young side and it needs some better players. We need to talk and listen to what one and other have to offer, as regarding experience about players that do come in and we can move things on from there."
Italian owner Massimo Cellino will return to Elland Road after the last game of the season against Rotherham United next weekend, as he completes his ownership ban set out by the Football League.
Redfearn is then likely to sit down with Cellino to discuss his future ahead of the management and players going away for their summer holidays.

Sheffield Wednesday 1 Leeds United 2: Redfearn happy to see Whites end losing streak

Yorkshire Post 25/4/15
Leeds manager Neil Redfearn was delighted to see his side end a five-match losing run as they came from behind to beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 at Hillsborough.
The home side took the lead through a first-half Chris Maguire penalty but two second-half goals from Charlie Taylor and Steve Morison helped secure the three points for the visitors.
“This result has been coming in the last two or three games,” said Redfearn. “I’m pleased for the lads because they’ve shown a real spirit.
“It was a very good performance. I thought we were the better side despite going 1-0 down.
“Credit to the lads because I thought their application and understanding of how to play in this match and on this pitch was spot on.
“It looked like the ref got the two penalty shouts wrong but in fact they were both right. I apologised to the ref at half time. I watched the video and he got both spot on.”
The match started off in typically fiery fashion, with both Yorkshire teams aiming to end their mediocre seasons on a high.
Wednesday went 1-0 up in the 36th minute through Maguire after Lloyd Isgrove was judged to have been fouled by Sam Byram on the edge of the box.
The visitors found an equaliser 12 minutes after the break via Taylor, who capitalised on a lacklustre Wednesday wall to poke home a loose ball from six-yards out after a Luke Murphy free kick.
Leeds then took the lead through Morison with 18 minutes to play. After a well-timed run and failed first effort, the striker fired home the rebound from close range past Keiren Westwood.
“We gave far too many free kicks away and if you keep doing that, you will be punished,” said Owls boss Stuart Gray.
“That’s what’s happened and we only have ourselves to blame.
“They got a fortunate ricochet for the equaliser but they reacted the faster.
“It’s disappointing because we had our noses in front but couldn’t build on the Chris Maguire penalty.
“I’m disappointed for the supporters as well because we had around 24,000 in there today.
“I put two forwards on and we were chasing the game but it wasn’t our day.”

We got it spot on - Redfearn

leedunited.com 25/4/15
Neil Redfearn felt his side got it "spot on" after a second-half comeback clinched the Yorkshire derby bragging rights with a 2-1 victory at Sheffield Wednesday.
The hosts had opened the scoring at Hillsborough, Chris Maguire converting a 36th-minute penalty in what had been a frustrating half for United.
But Redfearn’s men rallied after the break and Charlie Taylor levelled proceedings with a tidy finish on 57 minutes before Steve Morison, on the rebound from his initial effort, clinched the three points following a swift break up-field.
"It was a very good performance," said Redfearn. "I thought we were the better side, even at 1-0 down.
"I thought the decisions – the penalty for us and the penalty against us – were dubious at first.
"But, having seen them, the referee got both spot on. I saw him at half-time and pulled him over to one side and apologised because I had got a bit carried away with myself.
"You want to win and you think everything goes against you.
"But the performance merited a win. So did the application of the lads and their understanding of how to play on this surface.
"I thought we got it spot on."
"In the end, we broke away and we got in front of goal half a dozen times – we could have had more goals so I’ve got to be pleased."
A visibly worn Hillsborough pitch increased the size of United’s task, but Redfearn was pleased with how his side adapted to the conditions.
"You get to this time of the season and pitches start drying out and get lively," he said. "It’s difficult to control a pass and play controlled football.
"It ends up where you’ve got to do the ugly stuff well and I thought we did that today.
"I thought, at times, when we did get it down to play, we passed it well."
On Taylor’s goal, his second of the season, Redfearn added: "Charlie is a left back by trade, but he can play wide left and he’s done us a job again today.
"The kid can play. He’s got a great left-foot and he’s a great build.
"We tell him about coming onto the back stick, it dropped loose for him off a free-kick and he tucked it away well."
The winning goal came within minutes of Billy Sharp being introduced off the bench, and the striker was involved in the build-up with some industrious play to open up the Wednesday defence as United counter-attacked.
Redfearn said: "Billy is a forward-thinking player and he just gives you a different dimension. His pass for Morro’s goal showed his awareness.
"I thought Morro’s composure was excellent. I thought he was going to round the keeper at first but he got it on the second bite.
"It was well deserved."

Sheffield Wednesday 1 Leeds United 2: Morison nets derby winner

Yorkshire Evening Post 25/4/15
Leeds United ran out 2-1 winners against Sheffield Wednesday in a hotly contested Yorkshire derby at Hillsborough.
The visitors had to come from behind to win after Chris Maguire’s controversial first half penalty. However, second half goals from Charlie Taylor and Steve Morison ensured Leeds claimed their first win in six matches.
The visitors started the game well, with Morison capitalising on a loose ball on the edge of the box, only to drag his shot just short of the near post.
The match had all the hallmarks of a typical Yorkshire derby, with an early yellow card for Wednesday’s Jeremy Helan (16) leaving Alex Mowatt to fire his free kick over from the edge of the area.
The breakthrough for the home side came in the 36th minute, after a clattering foul by Sam Byram on Lloyd Isgrove left referee Robert Madley with no choice but to award the penalty and Byram a yellow card. Maguire dispatched the spot-kick calmly to the bottom left of Stuart Taylor’s goal to give the home side a 1-0 lead before half time.
The visitors nearly struck straight back thanks to Morison, however a strong tackle from centre-back Tom Lees prevented the forward from being through on goal on the brink of half time.
The Owls went close to extending their lead straight after the break, with Maguire’s 30-yard free kick forcing a save from Taylor.
With the rain starting to fall at Hillsborough it was Leeds who found the equaliser. A poor free kick by Luke Murphy on the edge of the box found itself trickling through the Wednesday wall, with Taylor pouncing on the loose ball to fire home from six yards out.
The home side responded straight away, with Caolan Lavery’s half-volley from a Marnick Vermijl throw-in heading just shy of the crossbar.
Wednesday head coach Stuart Gray brought on both Stevie May and Will Keane just after the hour-mark, with Isgrove and Jacques Maghoma making way.
Leeds took the lead against the run of play soon after, with Morison (72) timing his run to perfection to latch onto Murphy’s through ball and break clear of the Wednesday back-four. Westwood did well to foil the initial shot; however Morison was on hand to fire home the rebound from close-range.
Leeds nearly finished the game off just minutes later, with Rodolph Austin’s 35-yard rocket shot going inches over Westwood’s goal.
Gray made his third and final substitution in the 86th minute, with Sergiu Bus coming to replace Helan as his team pushed for an equaliser in their last game of the season at Hillsborough. The result leaves Sheffield Wednesday with just one win from their last five matches.

Leeds United: Leak was born out of a culture of mistrust – Hay

Yorkshire Evening Post 25/4/15
Phil Hay
An email went round Leeds United on Monday warning staff that anyone responsible for leaking news of the ‘injured six’ would be disciplined for gross misconduct (and presumably sacked).
It’s standard procedure at football clubs and Leeds have been here before. At the start of 2012 an internal investigation was carried out into reports about Robert Snodgrass undergoing surgery to remove his appendix. The source of the story was never identified but both examples show how defensive clubs can be when sensitive information seeps out.
Leeds are more than entitled to conceal the fitness of their players. Wrong-footing the press and other clubs is an age-old tactic. What annoyed them about the Snodgrass leak was that it came 48 hours before a game at Barnsley. The club were out of form at the time and, coincidentally or not, took a heavy beating at Oakwell. But with Snodgrass in hospital after complaining of stomach pains, there was never any argument about the severity of his condition.
Events at Thorp Arch last Friday were altogether different. The injuries which Leeds say six players sustained before their game at Charlton were the bones of the controversy but not the crux of it.
At no stage was anyone trying to tip off the opposition. The leak was symptomatic of a wider culture of disharmony at Leeds, a culture which threatening emails won’t change. Marco Silvestri aside, United’s line-up at The Valley on Saturday looked as strong as it would have done with every player present. Brian Montenegro was the only out-and-out striker on the bench so in that respect the squad fell short but Charlton’s advantage man-for-man was negligible. Leeds were on for a win until the 75th minute, as fluent as they’d been since the end of the international break.
The leak about the missing six had far more to do with incidents preceding last week: with Steve Thompson’s suspension, with Mirco Antenucci’s contract and with the overwhelming perception that Neil Redfearn, United’s head coach, is being dangled for as long as it takes for Massimo Cellino to kick him out.
Redfearn is said to have been philosophical about the absentees; sceptical about the severity of some of the injuries but happy with the cohesion and attitude of the 19 players who boarded the bus to London. “Buzzing” was how one individual described the mood in the hotel on Friday night, strange as that sounds.
What certain people around him were unwilling to accept was another irregular episode which compromised him most. If all six injuries were genuine – and the club contend bitterly that they were – then Redfearn is one unlucky punter. When players aren’t dropping out en masse, he’s losing an assistant who, after three steady months, decides to do something to someone. In the midst of that he’s being told by Leeds to remember the incentives in Antenucci’s contract but decide for himself if those incentives matter. These things keep happening and floating to the surface.
It smacks of a badly fragmented club, whatever chairman Andrew Umbers says about staff at Elland Road “enjoying the last few months.” Some of them will be happy and some of them will be immune from everything. But it’s extremely easy to find others who are demoralised by political division. They might not say so to Umbers or Cellino but they say it to us. Some feel undervalued and some feel neglected. It cannot be a healthy environment – inside the club or outside – when the instinctive response to six players crying off is to link them to Cellino and ask if they are purposely undermining Redfearn.
On Tuesday, with the dust settling on that story, I went to speak with Umbers at Elland Road. The transcript is on record and in full on the YEP’s website and anyone reading it can take the quotes as they find them.
In Umbers’ defence he answered every question he was asked and answered without rancour. He had none of the aggression of Ken Bates whose wife once spent an interview at Thorp Arch looking like she wanted to stab me but Tuesday’s exchange was still played with a politician’s evasive bat. Certain responses were unsatisfactory and others unconvincing. His attitude is fairly plain: the current strategy is right for the club and so is Cellino. I told him afterwards that I doubted both of those claims but a hack on a local newspaper is hardly the oracle. Suffice to say that Cellino has had his honeymoon period (much as it resembled a package holiday to Grozny).
What caught me by surprise was the renovation work which has gone on in parts of Elland Road’s East Stand. I was shown around the general offices, many of which have been upgraded at great expense in the past few months. The carpets look like football pitches and the walls are decorated with huge murals of crowds and players; evocative images of that sort. Employees will move in once Cellino sweeps back from his disqualification next month.
It would be tenuous to draw a correlation between improved staff quarters and a strong football team but the improvements were not what you expected of a club whose owner seems at regular junctures to be on his last legs. They do not tally with the reputation of a club that often appears to take guidance on their next move from a ouija board. It’s actual infrastructure and, alongside many other things, Leeds need masses of it. They need foundations.
Which little by little brings us back to the injury leak. That news did not slip out because the odd individual has an axe to grind, even if Leeds want to tell themselves that. It slipped out because the club are sapped of trust and collective spirit. Coaches are wary of the people above them and players are wary of each other. Lower-level staff do what they do without knowing where they stand. Plugging the leaks is United’s prerogative but it’s not the answer to any of that. The club would be better off asking why it is that so many in-house feel compelled to speak up.

Leeds United: What the future might hold for Redfearn and the Whites

Yorkshire Evening Post 24/4/15
Amitai Winehouse
Two games before the end of the season, Neil Redfearn’s Leeds United future could not be in much more doubt.
At his press conference yesterday, Redfearn admitted that he needs to have a “sit down and think” about his future at the club.
The former Academy coach’s record is difficult to judge in charge of the first team. While he has a win ratio of 33.34 per cent since his appointment as permanent coach on November 1, 2014, a large segment of that reign has come without even basic coaching help. Steve Morison referred to Redfearn doing the “BBC” work at Leeds, the laying out of balls, bibs and cones that a head coach would never usually involve himself in. The period when Redfearn had the suspended Steve Thompson as his assistant saw Leeds put a long winning run together, at one point becoming the form side in the division.
In comparison with Dave Hockaday and Darko Milanic, Redfearn’s record looks impressive - Hockaday managed only one win in four league games and also lost against League One Bradford City in the Capital One Cup. Milanic failed to win a single game during his time in the dugout.
In fact, Simon Grayson is the most recent Leeds manager with a significantly better record than Redfearn, and his 49.7 per cent win ratio is somewhat improved by the fact that Leeds spent the first season and a half of his time at the club in League One.
Redfearn has been given no assurances over his future at Leeds, and the sudden suspension of Thompson a month ago suggests that his time might be coming to an end. If Massimo Cellino wishes to retain his services for the optional second season written into his deal, he is supposed to tell Redfearn prior to the last game of the season.
This will interest the likes of Yorkshire rivals Rotherham, who may turn to Redfearn should current manager Steve Evans leave the club in the summer.
Current candidates to replace Redfearn at Leeds include Burton Albion manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who expressed his interest in an Elland Road return earlier this season.
However, there are no guarantees that the former hitman would be Cellino’s first choice. Graham Bean, who was the suspended Italian’s right hand man before being dismissed from the club, took to Twitter to reveal that in the hour following Hockaday’s sacking, a wide range of names were of interest to Cellino. These included Steve Clarke and current Real Madrid assistant manager Paul Clement.
Given Cellino’s habit of rehiring former coaches at Cagliari, Milanic, who is on gardening leave, might be called into action again. At the time of his dismissal, Milanic said: “My contract was not terminated, I’m on paid leave. During this time I must be ready all the time to once again take over the team, if requested by the owner.
“My contract continues to run and I’m on vacation. I signed for two years and I will not terminate my contract.”

Redfearn’s future remains shrouded in doubt

Yorkshire Post 24/4/15
Richard Sutcliffe
AHEAD of what could be his penultimate game in charge of Leeds United, head coach Neil Redfearn admits to being proud of keeping the Championship club clear of relegation trouble in difficult circumstances.
The Elland Road club have slumped to five straight defeats since the, as yet, unexplained removal of assistant manager Steve Thompson.
United are desperate to end that run at Sheffield Wednesday tomorrow, but there can be little doubt that this campaign is ending on a flat note, not helped by last week’s withdrawal of six Italian players claiming injury.
Redfearn’s own future appears shrouded in doubt with no talks having taken place over extending a contract that expires in June.
“I have been asked to do a job and I have done the job to the best of my ability,” said United’s head coach.
“My remit was to keep Leeds United in the Championship and I’ve done that.
“But I understand that football is not always straight-forward. I have got no god-given right to be in charge of Leeds United and the club and the powers-that-be are far more important than me.
“What it won’t do is change my view of people at Leeds and my time at Leeds.
“I have been on my own in the dugout (since Thompson left) but I have felt like I wasn’t. I felt like I had 20-odd thousand people in there with me.
“It has definitely helped me through this season.”
Last week’s late withdrawal of six players left supporters stunned and angry, as was made clear by chants from the 3,000 fans who travelled to Charlton Athletic last weekend.
The club subsequently released a statement insisting the injuries were genuine, but this has cut little ice with supporters.
Asked if he felt liberties had been taken by any of the absentees, Redfearn replied: “I’d like to think not. In my opinion, the players have all worked hard and it has been a difficult transition integrating players with different cultures and different backgrounds.
“But, by and large, they have integrated well. You would like to think that it was a freakish one-off event and you try and move on.”
As for the make-up of his team at Hillsborough, Redfearn replied: “I have always picked a team on merit. There have been odd times when we selected a side based on the opposition, Ipswich was a good example. But I pick a side on merit and a side that tries to win."

Friday, April 24, 2015

Leeds United: Injury row is over – Redders

Yorkshire Evening Post 24/4/15
Neil Redfearn last night attempted to draw a line under the controversy over injuries at Leeds United, saying: “What’s happened has happened.”
The club’s head coach stood his ground over comments made by him in the wake of six players withdrawing from last weekend’s defeat to Charlton Athletic but said the club needed to leave the saga behind ahead of tomorrow’s Championship derby with Sheffield Wednesday.
Most of the players who pulled out at late notice last Friday, including first-choice goalkeeper Marco Silvestri, look set to miss the match at Hillsborough.
The group have faced accusations that they were seeking to undermine Redfearn by feigning injury, claims the club have vehemently denied.
Redfearn said: “You’d like to think that it was a freakish one-off event and you try and move on. What’s happened has happened.
“What we’ve got to try and do is make the best of the next two games.
“We’ve got to try and perform as best we can and pick a side that’s fit and available.”

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Redfearn: “I’ve got no God given right to be in charge of Leeds United”

Yorkshire Evening Post 23/4/15
Lee Sobot
HEAD coach Neil Redfearn will step aside gracefully if Saturday’s clash at Sheffield Wednesday proves his penultimate game in the Whites dugout, admitting: “I’ve got no God given right to be in charge of Leeds United. The club is far more important than me.”
Redfearn has also heaped praise on the club’s loyal fan base, admitting they are entitled to criticise both him or owner Massimo Cellino but beaming: “I’ve been on my own in the dugout but it’s felt like I’ve had 20 thousand in there with me.”
Cellino remains banned from being owner at the club until Sunday, May 3 - the day after United’s last Championship game of the season at home to Rotherham United, after which Redfearn’s contract as head coach expires.
The 49-year-old still has no idea if he will be here next season - or even if new terms will be discussed next week - but the head coach says it is the future of Leeds United as a whole that matters most.
Redfearn admits even he needs to have a “sit down and think” about his long-term future and the former Academy coach is known to want certain assurances, even if he was to be offered a new deal to stay in charge.
That looks increasingly unlikely but Redfearn says he will remain hugely passionate about Leeds United even if he leaves the club, with the head coach having been particularly warmed by the Whites’ passionate fan-base.
Redfearn has had to undertake his duties by and large on his own following this month’s bizarre suspension of his assistant boss Steve Thompson - who it took many weeks in any case to prize away from Huddersfield Town.
Assessing his future and asked how he would feel if he only had two games left as head coach of Leeds, Redfearn told the YEP: “I’ve got no God given right to be in charge of Leeds United and the club and the powers that be are far more important than me.
“I’ve been asked to do a job and I’ve done the job to the best of my ability.
“My remit was to keep Leeds United in the Championship - I’ve done that.
“But I understand that football is not always straight-forward.
“But it won’t change my view of people at Leeds and my time at Leeds, whatever happens.
“I’m proud of the fact that I have been able to represent this football club and I’m proud of the people that have worked under me and worked with me.
“That will always be the case.
“There are two games left and it’s not so much that things have been said - I just expected that I’d take the last two games. My situation will be discussed then. Obviously the club have got their own view about what they want to do and I’ve got to sit down and have a good think about what I want to do.
“There’s a lot of things that have got to be discussed and a lot of things have to be made clear. In this season I think both parties have learned a lot about this season and learned a lot about what we need to do. It’s a case of having a level-headed, adult conversation about what’s best to do.”
The uncertainty at United has made Saturday’s Championship lunch-time derby at Sheffield Wednesday something of a side-show with the Whites 16th in the table but safe from relegation and the Owls in 12th.
United approach the game following five successive defeats - all of which have directly followed the suspension of Redfearn’s assistant Thompson.
Paying tribute to the club’s loyal supporters - 3,000 of which travelled down to a dead rubber at Charlton Athletic last weekend - Redfearn beamed: “I’ve been on my own in the dugout but I’ve felt like I haven’t been - I felt like I’ve had 20 odd thousand people in there with me.
“That’s been a real plus for me and it’s definitely helped me through this season.”
Large sections of last weekend’s away following also called for the departure of Cellino, on which Redfearn added: “It’s difficult for me to comment on things but what I would say is that people form their own opinions and if that’s how they feel, that’s how they feel.
“The thing about Leeds United supporters is they are very honest, they’re very passionate about the club, they want success and they want things done right.
“They chant, they sing, they always get behind the team and if it’s not so good sometimes they’ll let you know.
“And I think that’s right.
“I think that’s how football should be.
“It’s very much a northern trait that they like to see their teams competing and fighting - fighting for their shirt.
“They want players that care and want to fight for the club.”

Leeds United: Redfearn stands by his comments over the “injured six”

Yorkshire Evening Post 23/4/15
Phil Hay
Neil Redfearn has defended his claim that Leeds United’s controversial glut of injuries last week “surprised” him - but said the time had come to draw a line under the matter ahead of Saturday’s derby at Sheffield Wednesday.
United’s head coach said it would be “wrong of me or a lie” to suggest that he was aware that six of the club’s foreign players were likely to miss last weekend’s 2-1 defeat at Charlton Athletic.
The six - goalkeeper Marco Silvestri, centre-backs Giuseppe Bellusci and Dario Del Fabro and strikers Mirco Antenucci, Souleymane Doukara and Edgar Cani - all pulled out of the visit to The Valley shortly before Leeds’ team bus was due to leave Thorp Arch for London.
Bellusci, Cani and Antenucci will all be absent from this weekend’s game at Hillsborough while Silvestri is doubtful after being limited to light training with a back problem. Doukara and Del Fabro have both trained with the rest of Redfearn’s first-team squad this week.
The sudden spate of withdrawals prompted accusations that the group of six were deliberately refusing to play and attempting to undermine Redfearn as he neared the end of his contract as head coach.
Leeds have denied those accusations repeatedly, however, and chairman Andrew Umbers told the YEP on Tuesday that the absences came as “no surprise” last week due to regular medical updates from club physiotherapist Harvey Sharman - updates which Umbers said Redfearn also received. Speaking at a press conference today, Redfearn was asked why Umbers appeared to know more about the injuries than him.
“To be honest I wouldn’t know about that,” Redfearn said. “The surprise wasn’t that people get injured. It was the surprise that on Thursday they were fit, with one or two maybe carrying little things, and on Friday they weren’t fit.
“These things do happen and I’m not saying they don’t. But it would be wrong of me or a lie to say I wasn’t surprised. They were a surprise to me on the day.
“I go off advice from the medical staff. They have discussions with the players and then they’ll test them. If there’s anything on the scans then we’ve got to treat it as such. The difficulty is in assessing injuries on the day - when they happen as you’re actually about to set off to Charlton. It’s near impossible. Then you’ve got to take the players’ word for it.
“I don’t think it was a case of questioning anyone’s loyalty or commitment. That’s an opinion, rightly or wrongly. It’s not uncommon and it does happen where people get injured but you want to get people out there.
“Maybe I wanted to give people an opportunity or to change the team round a little bit. Give everybody that chance. It was just disappointing that we had that freak set of events where we lost six players.”
Silvestri is the only one of the six with a realistic chance of starting at Hillsborough, though Redfearn’s comments about his fitness suggested that Stuart Taylor will remain in goal for the second game running.
The group of absentees - all of whom moved to Leeds from Italian clubs following the takeover of the club by Massimo Cellino - attracted scathing criticism on social media last week and were also subjected to chants of “play for Leeds or f*** off home” by an away crowd of 3,000 at Charlton.
Redfearn said he “didn’t know” if the players concerned would feel worried about facing United’s supporters in either of the last two games of the season but he attempted to move on from the controversy, saying: “What’s happened has happened.
“What we’ve got to try and do is make the best of the next two games. We’ve got to try and perform as best we can and pick a side that’s fit and available.
“We’ve got to get two good results. I’ve got to select players who I feel are ready for the game and up for the game with how they’ve trained and applied themselves. I’ve always picked a team on merit.”
The Leeds boss played down the suggestions that the six players had been “taking liberties” with him on account of doubt about his own position as head coach.
“You’d like to think not,” he said. “In my opinion the players have all worked hard. It’s been a difficult transition integrating players with different cultures and different backgrounds but by and large they’ve integrated well.
“You’d like to think that it was a freakish one-off event and you try and move on.”
Leeds are on a run of five straight league defeats, their worst run of the season, but Redfearn aimed further criticism at the sequence of events which he blamed for affecting the club’s momentum before the last international break.
The sudden suspension of his assistant Steve Thompson - a decision which Umbers refused to fully explain on Tuesday - came at the end of an unbeaten run through March, a spell which earned Redfearn a nomination for the Championship’s manager of the month award.
“It’s frustrating for the players because you talk about momentum but things happen and it disrupts that momentum,” Redfearn said. “It would be churlish and wrong to say that it doesn’t because it does. It really does.
“It’s been a tough season and things have happened since the international break that have made it even tougher. That’s just common knowledge. It’s a fact.”

Striker Cani ruled out for season

leedsunited.com 22/4/15
United striker Edgar Cani is set to miss the final two league games of the season following an MRI scan on the recent knee injury that ruled the frontman out of the trip to Charlton Athletic last weekend.
The on-loan Albanian striker is yet to make a start since arriving from Catania during the January transfer window. Cani has made four substitute appearances, with the most recent coming in the 1-0 away win at Wigan Athletic.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Confusion reigns at Leeds United amid Massimo Cellino’s continued absence

Guardian 22/4/15
While the owner takes his enforced break, the club has been embroiled in some chaotic incidents that threaten to undo the progress made under Neil Redfearn
Cellino says he had nothing to do with pull-outs
Massimo Cellino is unlikely to return to Leeds this season and says he does not know who is deciding things in his absence.
James Riach
“I’m banned, I’m not talking to anyone,” says Massimo Cellino, the Leeds United owner, following a trip to Portugal while another storm brews around his bereft club. “I wish I could know,” the Italian continues, when asked who is making the decisions without him. “That’s the problem, nobody is making the decisions. That’s the truth.”
The thing is, decisions have been made at Leeds, a club whose default position these days seems to be turmoil. The suspension of the assistant manager, Steve Thompson, last month ranks at the top of an unsavoury list of recent developments which have undermined the coach, Neil Redfearn, to a remarkable extent.
The withdrawal of six players before Saturday’s defeat at Charlton Athletic is another example of the chaos. All those players involved – signed in the last year by Cellino – cited injuries, but more than a few eyebrows have been raised. The club attempted to explain the situation by releasing a statement on Sunday evening, at the same time that Lewis Cook, their 18-year-old midfielder, was named Championship apprentice of the year at the Football League awards. Some timing.
Cellino has been banned by the League since January after he avoided paying import duty on a yacht in Sardinia, a first-grade conviction in Italy that resulted in failure of the organisation’s owners’ and directors’ test. He will return at the end of the season yet, during his hiatus, the club had been making significant progress on the pitch as Redfearn’s young team of local talent assured Championship safety from a previously perilous position.
Things have changed somewhat and Leeds have lost five successive matches since Thompson’s suspension. Cellino has returned to the city and visited Elland Road last week, while the chairman, Andrew Umbers, has been running the day-to-day operations. Umbers assisted Ken Bates when brokering the sale of Leeds to the Bahrain-based investment bank Gulf Finance House Capital in 2013, and was appointed as chairman by Cellino who said in January: “Andrew has personally worked tirelessly with me in restructuring the football club from May 2014 and shares the same goals, strategy and insights that I do.”
Under the Football League rules Cellino, the former Cagliari owner, is barred from acting as a “relevant person” at Leeds. The league says a relevant person “means in respect of any club any individual person (and not any entity) operating the powers that are usually associated with the powers of a director of a company ... any ‘chief executive’ officer, ‘general manager’, ‘chief operating officer’ or any other person undertaking any duties which would objectively be considered to be equivalent to those roles; any person appointed by those with control over the club to represent their interests in the management of the club; and a person who exercises or is able, legally or beneficially, to exercise control over the affairs of the club”.
Cellino has not been attending Leeds games and has spent the majority of his ban at home in Miami. The club have asked the league to grant him special dispensation to attend the final match of the season at home to Rotherham United, and the organisation’s chief executive, Shaun Harvey, who occupied the same role at Leeds under Bates, will consider the request and make a recommendation to the board.
However, the question remains: who has been calling the shots at Leeds? Nobody is taking responsibility for the unpalatable decisions and, in particular, there has been little explanation given for Thompson’s suspension.
According to Umbers, it was the sporting director, Nicola Salerno, who made the call. Salerno – brought to the club by Cellino last year and responsible for the myriad foreign imports – signed a letter that was handed to Thompson outlining his dismissal, but in the aftermath he left the club and returned to Italy, with Cellino saying he had resigned. The League Managers’ Association is representing Thompson, but will not yet speak publicly about the situation.
Umbers has insisted the suspension of Thompson was Salerno’s decision. “Steve Thompson had one boss, Nicola Salerno. That boss decided that Steve Thompson was not going to be part of our setup,” Umbers told the Yorkshire Evening Post. “The issues that Nicola Salerno had privately and professionally with Steve Thompson were issues that led him to make that decision.”
Regarding the mass player withdrawal last week – which Redfearn described as a “freakish set of events” – the club insists those involved were all injured. Marco Silvestri was one and his father, Claudio, claimed on social media that the goalkeeper and his team-mate Mirco Antenucci were legitimately injured but the others – Giuseppe Bellusci, Dario Del Fabro, Souleymane Doukara and Edgar Cani – carried out “a stupid protest”.
It has all left Redfearn isolated at a club where he has spent six years, nurturing young talent in an academy that has produced a promising crop of players who have established themselves well this season. The fear is that Cook, Alex Mowatt, Sam Byram and Charlie Taylor will leave while the club burns, and they will surely be more vulnerable if Redfearn departs at the end of the season.
The situation certainly warrants scrutiny but the Football League chairman, Greg Clarke, said there are limitations as to the organisation’s powers. “We have banned him [Cellino] until the end of the season. He can’t go to the games, he can’t act in a way to be seen as relevant at the club. We monitor all our clubs to comply with our rules. But we don’t have anyone hanging outside the front doors with cameras, we’re not the KGB. We can only act on objective facts. Facts are hard to come by at the moment,” said Clarke.
“We spend a lot of time investigating clubs. But Massimo Cellino has not been going to games. I’ve had the conversation with him personally that if he does not behave in the spirit of the ruling we will go after him again. We have no facts, what we can’t do is infer things.”
It remains to be seen, meanwhile, if Cellino intends to sell the club on his return. The Italian has further tax allegations against him in Sardinia and an investigation into alleged misuse of public funds relating to Cagliari’s Quartu Sant’Elena stadium. He denies wrongdoing. Cellino is a figure who has divided opinion since his takeover last year. However, the tide is seemingly turning against him, with the away support at Charlton voicing their vehement objection to his ownership.
Such is the turmoil at a club that had appeared to be heading for calmer waters. Instead, the Cellino soap opera gathers renewed pace, even when he is away.

Leeds United: Giuseppe Bellusci to miss final two games

BBC 22/4/15
Leeds defender Giuseppe Bellusci will miss the rest of the season.
He was one of six players to withdraw from their squad for Saturday's game at Charlton the day before the match.
The 25-year-old Italian, who has made 30 appearances this term, has been referred to a specialist after having a scan on his leg earlier this week.
Leeds released a statement on Sunday to say the six players who pulled out of the game at Charlton were injured, amid questions about the sudden withdrawal.

Leeds United: We have work to do - Umbers

Yorkshire Evening Post 22/4/15
Leeds United chairman Andrew Umbers admitted last night that the club had been left with bridges to build and supporters to appease at the end of the first year of Massimo Cellino’s reign.
Cellino, who is nearing the end of a Football League order banning him from running Leeds, faced calls for him to sell the club from an away crowd of 3,000 during last Saturday’s defeat at Charlton Athletic.
The Italian bought Leeds last April but has experienced a harsh first season in English football.
More controversy developed last Friday when six of United’s foreign players were declared unfit ahead of the visit to Charlton, a spate of withdrawals which prompted accusations that the individuals involved were trying to undermine head coach Neil Redfearn.
Umbers, however, said he was “satisfied” that the six players were “genuinely injured.”
Asked about the dissent from the crowd at The Valley, Umbers said: “It’s very sad. You set expectations and you manage expectations. We haven’t set many expectations and people might say that’s down to the fact that we don’t communicate.
“Part of the reason we don’t communicate is because we’re dealing with so many issues at so many times, we can’t. We want to tell people all the good news.
“In good time we’ll set the bar right in the close season. We’ll set the right expectations for the fans. When you hear chants that are personal and divisive, they affect the players on the pitch. They affect family. But look, they’re a minority.”
When it was pointed out that most of the 3,000 at Charlton appeared to be chanting against Cellino, Umbers said: “I hope in time we can win them all over. We’ll do our best to win all of them over.
“It’s not an easy job running a club when you have such passionate fans who have such great loyalty. You only do your best. Sometimes you have to be unpopular but you always have to think you’re doing the right thing.
“If we get communication and expectation-management right then people will see what we’re doing. But I accept that people want to see contracts signed. They want to see stability on the management and the football side. I get that. All these things are going to come.”
Umbers said news of the protests against Cellino had reached the Italian on Saturday. Cellino is due to resume control of Leeds immediately after his Football League ban ends on May 3 and United are attempting to secure permission from the League for him to attend their last game of the season against Rotherham United on May 2.
“He’s aware of it (the dissent),” Umbers said. “He was told about it.
“He’s adamant that what he’s doing is for the benefit of Leeds United and its fans. He’s adamant and more steadfast and he would ask for the fans to be more patient.”

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Transcript of Andrew Umbers interview - ‘the absent six’, Redfearn and Thompson, Cellino’s future

Yorkshire Evening Post 21/4/15
Yorkshire Evening Post chief football writer Phil Hay on Tuesday sat down with Leeds United chairman Andrew Umbers. Here is the full transcript of that interview.
PH: The obvious place to start is with the six players who were declared injured towards the end of last week. Do you believe that all six were unfit to play and do you believe that they were unfit to travel?
AU: I spent two hours at Thorp Arch this morning, extending the conversations I’d had on Wednesday after the Norwich game, on Thursday and on Saturday. Neil Redfearn and me get an injury list every single day. Harvey Sharman - our head physio who’s extremely good and talks to the players night and day - puts on an email exactly what’s going on.
With Cani, when we signed him we knew he had a problem with his knee. He’s got tendinitis. He rang Harvey on Thursday night and said ‘the knee’s not good after training.’ Harvey said ‘come in early before training on Friday and let’s assess it.’ He assessed it and Harvey said ‘no good’. Cani went for an MRI scan this morning.
With Silvestri, we all know that he got an injury against Norwich. Harvey wasn’t sure if he had chipped a bone. He wasn’t able to train last week, or what training he did he wasn’t really able to move. He was doing significant physio work and it wasn’t successful. On Thursday Harvey told us by email and by phone that he was unlikely to be able to play. He’s had an MRI scan this morning too. There’s significant bruising but no chipped bone. He’s done light training this morning but I mean gingerly training.
With Bellusci, we’ve had a problem with his hamstring all season. He’s still having treatment, he’s also gone for an MRI scan and we knew on Thursday that he was injured.
With Del Fabro, whether he was in the squad for Charlton or not is to be debated. But he took a very heavy knock on Thursday, reported into Harvey at 9am on Friday and said it was painful. He’s got a contusion, it’s swollen. He couldn’t play or get on the bus.
With Doukara, again he’s had a groin injury all season. It’s got better but it still needs significant amount of work. Antenucci had treatment on Wednesday, treatment on Thursday and treatment on Friday. He might be back next Monday. He might be light training by Friday.
More importantly, Harvey Sharman kept us all informed on Thursday and Friday so when we read what was said in the newspapers and on social media on Friday night, it was no surprise to me that these guys weren’t playing.
I’ve spoken to each of them individually and collectively. Individually there’s no question in my mind that with Harvey’s expertise and our information, their injuries can be contradicted. These guys were genuinely injured. They want to wear the white shirt and play for Leeds United, whether they’re in the squad or on the periphery of it. If they’re picked, they want to play. And they’re very upset because everything has been personalised. Their loyalty has been challenged. I am satisfied that’s not the case.
PH: The owner, Massimo Cellino, said it was a “weird situation”. Silvestri’s father said he, in his words, thought it was a “silly protest” from some of the six players. Neil Redfearn said that as of Friday morning, he thought it was likely that all six would be available - and with at least four of them he was unaware of any problems. That all contradicts your version.
AU: Harvey spoke to Neil firstly and he speaks to him morning, noon and night. He treats all the players. He’s frighteningly honest, he’s frighteningly good and that’s a fact. Massimo is not here anyway.
PH: So when Massimo says you didn’t find out about the injuries until Friday night, that’s untrue?
AU: Massimo doesn’t get any of our injury lists. He’s not allowed to. Firstly he’s not on email but he’s not allowed to get involved day-to-day. Those are the rules and regulations that he signed up to. He wouldn’t know. He’s reporting what he sees.
PH: But if he says that the chairman hasn’t found out until Friday night, he must have spoken to you. That’s the inference and a contradiction.
AU: No, he doesn’t know. I don’t speak to Massimo every day. What I keep him in touch with about are things like an awards ceremony where Lewis Cook is up for an award, or certain things on the cash-flow side just to let him know. He owns this business. I keep him in touch with the strategic stuff but not the day-to-day stuff.
PH: What does it say though about the credibility of the club or public trust in the club that the assumption was that with those six players, it was a downing of tools or a collective withdrawal designed to undermine Neil Redfearn?
AU: I don’t think anything is designed to undermine Neil Redfearn. Neil is first-team coach, he’s no different to John Carver, Sam Allaryce or Mark Warburton - all of whom are going to the end of the season to renegotiate their contracts. He’s no different to that. You have to remember that I’m in charge of the business side of Leeds United, not the footballing side. I want to be clear about that.
PH: But a club chairman has to oversee both, surely? Isn’t that the job?
AU: No, the authority that’s been given to me is purely on the business side, not on the football side. But in the last four or five days, particularly with the issues that have been directed at me professionally and personally, obviously I’ve had to get involved. This club has a communication issue. It has a communication issue with its stewards, its fans and its sponsors and that has to improve.
PH: There is a trust issue too, clearly. Sections of the public don’t trust what the club does and says. That true, isn’t it?
AU: I think, with respect, there’s been a trust issue here for donkey’s years. Fifteen years maybe. It’s always the Leeds United way. However, what Massimo has always said, what I’ve always said, is that we respect the fact that the fans pay money. The fans own Leeds United and in a way they own the club. The fact is that we need to be able to communicate better. It was handled appallingly (last week) and within 10 minutes of training finishing at Thorp Arch on Friday, before they got on the bus at 2pm, it was tweeted that six players weren’t playing. So of course there’s a conspiracy. That’s how these things start. The use of social media is something this club has not addressed. It something we’re going to address because clearly what we do behind closed doors, the decisions that are made, the fans need to be able to trust us to do it properly.
PH: Do they believe that? Do they believe that the people at the top here are fit to run the club or responsible?
AU: I hope they do. With the mess financially we inherited, with the players who were let go or sold at the start of this season, we’ve made significant changes on the football side. On the financial side we’ve significantly reduced the debt, we’re restructured the framework of the club and we’ve tried to re-engage with the council, the business community. We’ve only started and we’ve got a long way to go. Trust isn’t built overnight. All we wanted was a clean slate and that clean slate was get ourselves stable financially and stable on the football side.
PH: It doesn’t look stable on the football side.
AU: I respect the fact that many people don’t think we’re stable on the football side. But when we get into the close season we can explain ourselves, explain the strategic plan. From a fans’ perspective, they’re not that interested in the business side. They’re interested in the football side. They should remember that we’ve let lots of players gone and signed lots of new ones. There are always integration issues. In hindsight I think there are things we would do better. I’ve talked to the president (Cellino) about how we need to do things better next season and in the close season to make sure we’re completely ready for next season.
PH: Will Neil Redfearn be head coach at the start of next season?
AU: That is Mr Cellino’s decision.
PH: Who will advise him on that and what advice would you give him?
AU: Massimo’s owned a football club for about 25 years. He’s extremely able on business and in my view he’s even better on the footballing side. Whatever decision he takes will be for the benefit of Leeds United. Neil Redfearn I think has done a good job.
PH: As chairman do you think he has done enough to deserve another contract? If it was your decision, would you give him another contract?
AU: It’s not my decision.
PH: Can comment then on how he’s performed, given that the club were in relegation trouble but have been safe for the best part of two months?
AU: Look, Neil has got us into a position of safety in the Championship. When you judge someone on performance, that’s a tick in the box.
PH: There’s a perception outside the club, among us in the media and the fans, that Neil has been undermined in his position as head coach.
Things have been made more difficult for him. Do you disagree with that or accept that it might be true?
AU: When you sign players, you have appearances, goals, longevity, promotion - bonuses, all four of them. We have that with almost every one of our squad; various things where on a certain amount of appearances, goals or where we’re positioned in the league, individuals get a bonus. I can think of a dozen players where it’s like that. Neil’s aware of those contractual obligations and from time-to-time we remind him of those obligations. But in no way do we - and this includes when Massimo’s here - tell him who to put out on a Saturday or a Tuesday night.
PH: That seems to allude to Mirco Antenucci’s situation. Is it the case that you, Massimo or anyone else at the club told Neil or suggested to him that he shouldn’t play Antenucci because of a clause in his contract? Was that ever suggested, was it ever touched upon?
AU: Neil was aware that Mirco scoring two more goals gives him an extra year on his contract. We didn’t make that public but Neil was made aware of it.
PH: That implies that the club didn’t want Antenucci to play?
AU: We in no way said ‘don’t play him’. Absolutely not. You’ve got to pick the best players otherwise the fans pay for a ticket and don’t get the best team. They’ve got a right to complain about that.
PH: But do the club want Antenucci to have another year on his contract? He’s into his 30s. Are the club trying to avoid that?
AU: Mirco Antenucci is contracted to Leeds United for next year. What we do with Mirco and his contract is between us. We want him to stay because we think he’s a fantastic striker who’s got better and better as he’s got more used to the Championship - and though the coaching of Neil Redfearn.
PH: If Neil Redfearn is not going to be head coach next season, what has the club done to look for a replacement - given that the season ends in 10 days’ time and the transfer window opens soon?
AU: We’re always looking to improve the infrastructure of the footballing and business sides of Leeds United. With regards to Neil, we’ve done nothing because it is Massimo Cellino’s decision as to what he wants to do with his staff. We’d be in breach of contract, in breach of trust if we did anything else. Neil’s a Leeds United man and he’s performed. He’s kept us in the Championship this year.
PH: So the idea that Neil Redfearn is as good as gone, the assumption that he’ll lose his job in the summer - you’re saying that’s wrong?
AU: You’re going to have to refer to Massimo on that when he comes back.
PH: On the subject of Steve Thompson, what were the exact reasons for the club suspending Steve from his position as assistant?
AU: Nicola Salerno had a responsibility to look after all the footballing side of Leeds United post Massimo’s disqualification. He took that decision. When we look back on it, was it timely? No. But it happened. The issues that Nicola Salerno had privately and professionally with Steve Thompson were issues that led him to make that decision.
PH: Has Nicola Salerno explained those issues in full to the club’s board?
AU: He came to us and said there had been a breakdown in communication. A breakdown of trust. One or two other personal issues. These matters will be remaining internal.
PH: Have the club properly investigated these issues? Are the allegations actually true?
AU: Of course we have. Steve Thompson had one boss, Nicola Salerno. That boss decided that Steve Thompson was not going to be part of our set-up. That was the decision he made and we supported that. He came to the board and we said ‘okay, but there will be issues that result from this decision.’
PH: So the board were happy to let Salerno take that decision on his own? Doesn’t a football club’s board usually have the final say on these matters?
AU: Those are the authorities vested with Nicola Salerno post Massimo’s disqualification. He made that decision.
PH: Have the reasons been explained in full to Steve Thompson or the League Managers Association who, we understand, are representing him?
AU: I’m not aware of whether they have or haven’t.
PH: In the letter to him he was told that his contract will not be renewed in the summer. Is it not prejudicial to make that decision when he’s suspended from his job, rather than sacked?
AU: In Nicola Salerno’s eyes, he wanted him suspended. I’m afraid that’s the end of it. It’s an internal issue and I’m not going to say anything else.
PH: The four young players who’ve been a shining light this season - Cook, Mowatt, Taylor, Byram - have contracts been offered to those players?
AU: At Cagliari Massimo Cellino built one of the youngest sides in Serie A. When Massimo came and bought Leeds United and sat down with everyone from Terry Potter, Steve Holmes, Andy Wood and Neil Redfearn to talk about the academy - about the under-15s, under-16s, the 21s - we made it a policy to play them. If they’re good enough, play them because we’re going to back you. Leeds United do not want to lose any of these young players. Leeds United will not lose any of these young players.
PH: Have contracts been offered to them?
AU: We’re in the process of working through player contracts for all of our first-team squad and also our scholars. I can only tell you that it’s going to be a very positive message.
PH: But the history of this club is of players leaving and of better players being sold. People won’t take that at face value.
AU: We’re not selling our best players. We are not selling our young players.
PH: Is that a point of principle on which you would resign if it happened? Because it won’t be your decision ultimately.
AU: I’m just aware of what we’re doing and what’s going on. I can’t tell you everything but I can tell you that one or two of these things were sorted out months ago. The fans can be assured - and they’ll judge me on my word - that you’ll see not only those young players but an improved squad by the start of next season.
PH: Massimo is due back here when his disqualification ends on May 3. Do you expect him back on that date and will he retake his position as president on that date?
AU: I’ve written to the chairman, the chief executive and general counsel of the Football League and asked permission for Massimo Cellino, as a spectator, to be allowed to come back for the Rotherham game (United’s last game of the season on May 2).
PH: In his capacity as owner?
AU: No, as a spectator.
PH: Can he not just buy a ticket?
AU: I’d like to think he’s entitled to buy a ticket and come in under human rights law. But we’ve really tried to abide by everything that the Football League have told us to abide by. All their rules, all their regulations, all their unwritten rules. I think we’ve done it successfully. It’s the last game, I’ve asked the Football League whether he can come back.
PH: The perception on the outside is that he’s still be pulling the strings here, that’s he’s influencing much of what’s going on at the club. It often looks that way.
AU: He’s been in Miami for two to three months. You should ask the staff who’s been running the business and they’ll probably give you a different answer to what you think. On the football side it’s been run by Neil Redfearn. On the business side it’s been run by me. The staff have, I think, enjoyed the three months - or everything up to the last week. Of course Massimo’s watching what’s going on.
PH: He was at Elland Road the Friday before last. That’s not in dispute.
AU: Massimo came to have a look at the pitch. He didn’t come to do any work. He came to look at the new offices, just to say hello. There’s a lot of planning that we have to do for next season. He needs to take stock of what has happened with Steve, with Neil, with Nicola, what’s happening on the business side, what plans we’ve got for infrastructure around Elland Road. Our negotiations to do things with the council. Without making any decisions, he basically needs to understand what it’s like here now. The only way you can do that is if you’re here. He popped in for half an hour. Everyone was very pleased to see him.
PH: You mentioned Nicola Salerno’s situation. He’s clearly been away from the club for weeks. Massimo Cellino said he had resigned as sporting director. What is the position?
AU: Nicola is absent.
PH: Why?
AU: He found social media and everything else too much. He took it all (the reaction to Steve Thompson’s suspension) pretty badly actually. He felt he wasn’t welcome. He’s a fantastic guy, a lovely guy, and he’ll remain absent. We’ll see what happens in the close season.
PH: Has Massimo at any stage spoken to you about potentially selling the club? There have been rumours of takeover throughout the time he’s been disqualified.
AU: I’ll answer that in a different way. He doesn’t want to sell the club and contrary to rumour, I’m not here to sell the club either. I’m here to manage it. I’m a Leeds fan, albeit people might find that slightly ironic, but I am. I’m here to make some hard decisions which benefit the club in the short, the medium and the longer term. There are always people who are interested in buying Leeds United, as there are with every football club. You just have to read about Aston Villa and others who are perceived to have an issue at the top. Massimo is not for selling, I’ve said it before. He’s not for selling but if you’re looking at a house that’s worth a pound and someone offers you four, you might be interested. But in football there’s so much noise. There’s nothing in reality which actually catches you. Has he spoken about it? People have got his phone number. I can’t stop them ringing him. But if we’ve ever talked about things like that in Miami, he’s made a commitment to live in Leeds. He’s made a commitment to put his children in Leeds. His wife came over. You don’t make those decisions and then just walk away. As the fans will probably gather from some his comments, he’s pretty colourful in the way he responds to that type of question. He’s made unpopular decisions. He’s already made many. But underlying, I think you’ve got a good steward of the club - someone who knows how to sort the mess out and build the footballing side.
PH: A lot of the 3,000 away fans at Charlton on Saturday were making their opinions plain. They were making it clear that they want him gone.
AU: It’s very sad. You set expectations and you manage expectations. We haven’t set many expectations and people might say that’s down to the fact that we don’t communicate. Part of the reason we don’t communicate is because we’re dealing with so many issues at so many times, we can’t. We want to tell people all the good news. In good time we’ll set the bar right in the close season. We’ll set the right expectations for the fans. When you hear chants that are personal and divisive, they affect the players on the pitch. They affect family. But look, they’re a minority.
PH: Of the 3,000 at Charlton, it wasn’t a minority. I accept that the fanbase is far bigger than that but the criticism from those 3,000 sounded unanimous.
AU: I hope in time we can win them all over. We’ll do our best to win all of them over. It’s not an easy job running a club when you have such passionate fans who have such great loyalty. You only do your best. Sometimes you have to be unpopular but you always have to think you’re doing the right thing. If we get communication and expectation-management right then people will see what we’re doing. But I accept that people want to see contracts signed. They want to see stability on the management and the football side. I get that. All these things are going to come.
PH: Has anyone told Massimo about the weight of objection to him and the things that are going on here? That weight of dissent we saw at Charlton on Saturday?
AU: He’s aware of it. He was told about it during the day. He’s adamant that what he’s doing is for the benefit of Leeds United and its fans. He’s adamant and more steadfast and he would ask for the fans to be more patient.
PH: With regards to his future as owner, a question that’s important to ask - in his time as owner or your time on the board, has any third party or potential buyer of the club performed due diligence on the club’s accounts?
AU: No. Categorically, 100 per cent no.

Ex-Manchester United star takes legal action against Leeds United

Football League World 21/4/15
BY SAM ROURKE
Former Manchester United winger Cameron Stewart has taken legal action against Leeds United over £800,000 of unpaid wages, according to the Daily Star.
The 24-year-old midfielder was on loan at the Yorkshire club for three months in 2014, where he went on to make 11 appearances for the club.
Stewart agreed a deal to sign for Leeds on a permanent deal after his loan spell was up, and an agreement was made – but issues occurred and Leeds subsequently lodged the contract with the Football League.
Stewart, who is currently at Ipswich Town, has claimed that the Elland Road outfit owe him £800,000 in unpaid wages.
An FA arbitration hearing will take place tomorrow where Stewart and his legal team will fight to win back the money they are apparently owed.
The Manchester-born midfielder has had experience of plying his trade with a plethora of different clubs, including Manchester United, Yeovil Town, Hull City, Burnley, Blackburn Rovers, Charlton Athletic, Leeds United, Ipswich Town and Barnsley.

Aidy eyeing first team action - Academy product back involved following injury nightmare

leedsunited.com 21/4/15
Aidy White is hoping to force his way back into the first-team reckoning before the end of the season after making his long-awaited comeback from injury for United’s Under-21s.
As pre-planned, Aidy completed the first half of Monday’s 4-1 thrashing of Huddersfield Town at Thorp Arch, occupying roles on either flank and seeing plenty of the ball as he helped his side to victory.
It was the 23-year-old’s first appearance in a United shirt since the pre-season draw at Chesterfield last July, a game which saw him stretchered off with a second-half ankle injury.
The Thorp Arch graduate’s long road to recovery has been a frustrating one, with numerous setbacks putting his return on hold prior to last week’s long-awaited resumption of full training.
After featuring for the U21s, Aidy said: "It felt great. I just wanted to get back playing as quick as I could.
"It’s been a while, I think July was my last game but I’m finally back and looking forward to the last games – I’ll try and get involved with them."
The versatile left-footer came through the game unscathed and his performance came in for praise from onlooking head coach Neil Redfearn.
“I feel brilliant,” said Aidy. “It’s been a while since I last played so I was a bit more tired than usual but I felt great.
"I felt sharp, I had a good week’s training and I’m ready to be back involved.
"There were no problems at all. Because I haven’t played in so long, 45 minutes was always the plan to get a blow-out and then put my feet up on Tuesday for a cool down and then get back training on Thursday.
"Redders picks the team so all I can do is my best and show him what I can do.
"He knows what I can do already because he’s been here for so long and he knows me well.
"Hopefully now, he’ll give me shot in the last couple of games to go."
Redfearn welcomed White’s return to action and is also optimistic of seeing him involved at some point during the final two games of the Championship campaign.
“It was good to see Aidy White back,” said the head coach. “I thought he played with purpose and pace; he went past people.
“He had 45 minutes, which is probably about right with the amount of time he’s been out.
“You wouldn’t have known he’d been out for so long. I thought he played really well.
“He gives you that pace and drive in wide areas. He’s got good feet to go past people.
“If he could feature before the end of the season, that would be good.
“He’s something different to what we’ve got. He’s a genuine wide player with pace that always frightens defenders.
“He’s an experienced first-team player and it’s good to have him back.”
White’s comeback trail proved to be lengthier than first expected, prompting him into an operation around the turn of the year in a bid to speed things up.
"It’s been a nightmare really," he said. "It was something so simple, the injury, but it just didn’t heal properly.
"It got to Christmas and I thought it was time to get something sorted. I had the operation and ever since then it’s been brilliant.
"I’m just looking forward to getting cracking again.
"I don’t think I’ll be starting a game, first-team wise, but I’d like to be involved for the weekend.
"Under-21s games are great for fitness but I want to be back involved with the first team now."
On the support he has received during his comeback, Aidy added: "They've been brilliant, all the physios, staff and players have always kept an eye out for me and guided be through it.
"It is frustrating. You have your ups and downs when you’re injured – mainly downs – but you’ve got to keep your head and carry on with it."

Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino refuses to back Neil Redfearn and says he must make a decision

Here is the City 21/4/15
Dan Coombs
Leeds United owner has admitted he is undecided on next season.
Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino continues to refuse to give his backing to current head coach Neil Redfearn, admitting he is undecided.
In a fascinating interview with Simon Austin fully recounted on his blog and reported by InsideFutbol, Cellino explained his decision on Redfearn's future is not yet made.
The former academy boss is the third head coach at Leeds this season, and his contract is currently only set to run until the end of this season.
The two key lines from Cellino regarding Redfearn are as follows:
"(He) helped me a lot, of course. And I appreciate that. And I thank god that we stayed in the Championship.
"But when I come back, I have to make a choice. I have to decide what is best for the club."
Cellino is clearly ambitious, and desperate to meet his own self-imposed timescale to achieve promotion to the Premier League next season.
Yet it appears he could be about to consider making another Darko Milanic-esque mistake. The Italian appointed the Slovenian earlier this season who was an unheard of among Leeds fans, only to fire him six games later after the team failed to win under his management.
Cellino would do well to understand that Neil Redfearn has a better grasp of English football and it's requirements than he does, but whether his ego permits him do think this way is an entirely different matter.

Leeds fans are the ones who are suffering most, laments Giles

Yorkshire Post 21/4/15
FORMER Leeds player Johnny Giles has expressed his sympathy for United’s supporters who are enduring yet more anguish over the club’s sorry plight.
On Friday six of United’s foreign contingent declared themselves unfit ahead of Saturday’s game with Charlton.
The last month has also seen head coach Neil Redfearn lose his assistant Steve Thompson to suspension while the club’s board attempted to stop Mirco Antenucci playing to avoid triggering a contractual clause.
Fans voiced their anger towards banned owner Massimo Cellino at The Valley, with chants of “Massimo, time to go”.
The six absent players – Marco Silvestri, Mirco Antenucci, Giuseppe Bellusci, Souleymane Doukara, Edgar Cani and Dario Del Fabro – also earned disparaging name checks.
Giles said: “I am really sorry for the supporters.
“They are the ones who are suffering more than anyone else.
“Leeds are a great club with great supporters and they don’t deserve what they are getting. It is very sad. I have total sympathy with the supporters.”
Cellino yesterday denied suggestions the sextet declared themselves injured on his instructions, saying: “I am not a coward and not the sort of guy who tells his players to go on strike.
“I only found out on Friday evening. I admit it looks weird. But if the players were injured, why didn’t the manager inform the chairman (Andrew Umbers)?
“This looks like a fight between manager Neil Redfearn and the ownership of the club, which is not good.”
Umbers said: “Massimo is disqualified. He doesn’t know what happens on a day-to-day basis.”