Brian McDermott still Leeds manager - or is he?
Confusion reigns at Elland Road after an astounding 24 hours at the club
A Leeds United’s supporter shows her support for Brian McDermott during today’s 5-1 win over Huddersfield. Photograph: Richard Sellers/PA Wire.
Brian McDermott’s future as Leeds manager remains unresolved after an astounding 24 hours at Elland Road.
McDermott was on Friday night told he had been removed from his position by someone acting on behalf of the club’s prospective new owner, Massimo Cellino, who also owns Serie A club Cagliari.
Club sponsors said they would review their backing in protest and it appeared that Gianluca Festa, the former Middlesbrough defender and a long-term friend of Cellino, would take over the team, especially after Leeds’ owners confirmed they had agreed a sale to the 57-year-old agricultural entrepreneur.
Within a day, though, a side managed by McDermott’s assistant Nigel Gibbs had beaten Huddersfield 5-1 and Leeds released a statement saying McDermott had not been sacked after all.
Those were the headline incidents to run alongside a number of farcical and often comedic ones which were hard to keep abreast of, including McDermott declining a request to attend the match.
“The club would like to make it clear that Brian McDermott remains our first team manager,” a statement said.
“He has not been dismissed from his post as has been suggested and we look forward to him continuing in his role with us in taking Leeds United forwards.”
The statement caught everyone by surprise but should not have done after a crazy chain of events.
Earlier, the League Manager’s Association said it was waiting for clarification of the situation, with Cellino’s takeover still subject to Football League approval.
An LMA said: “Brian received a call last night from a solicitor informing him that Leeds United were terminating his contract as manager.
“This morning Brian received a further phone call from a director of the football club stating the company on whose behalf the solicitor had contacted Brian are not the owners of Leeds United.
“In the circumstances, Brian was asked by the directors of the club not to take the match today and we are awaiting clarification of the situation over the weekend.”
Gibbs, McDermott’s long-standing number two, answered the call to lead the team against Huddersfield in his place before facing the media afterwards.
“I was coming to the game anyway because I had not heard from the club,” Gibbs said.
“I was asked at 12.15pm. (Managing director) David Haigh asked me to take the team and I told the players.
“The team was prepared by Brian. It’s his team, his performance and his victory. It’s been unusual to say the least.”