Leeds United manager Neil Redfearn finds himself in a tricky situation at the moment; he has a real fight on his hands – and it’s one that he is finding hard to win.
He’s already done the main job, or the very minimum, which was to make sure the Whites avoided the drop.
However, as he’s Leeds’ permanent manager, with the fire friendly hierarchy above him, Redfearn is always close to losing the job. A similar fate befell his assistant, Steve Thompson, last week, so it seems that the Elland Road hotseat is heating up.
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With that in mind, the 49-year old needs to make sure his players are playing so well that he becomes irreplaceable. It certainly isn’t happening at the moment though.
After a terrific run which saw them stride clear of relegation, the side have taken their foot off the gas and are dreaming of sunny beaches as far away from Yorkshire as possible – they may as well play the remainder of the Championship season in their flip-flops.
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Redfearn must surely realise that this attitude may go a long way to ensuring that he too will be on a beach, rather than on the touchline when the 2015/16 season kicks-off. As a result, he’s got a bit desperate; it won’t help his cause.
Saturday’s mid-table clash against Cardiff City had a unique feel to it. Even though the Bluebirds’ fans boycotted the match for ticketing reasons, and with no league placings riding on it, this shouldn’t have felt like a dead rubber because of the two clubs’ rivalry. The away side didn’t treat it as such and reaped the rewards.
Given that his team put in a heartless performance, Redfearn had every right to give his players a good old proper rollocking. However, what he didn’t need to do and what he shouldn’t have done is take those feelings outside of the dressing room.
No players were safe from Redfearn’s public rant, which has since dominated post-match talk. The goalkeeper, back four and other ‘senior players’ were sold down the river.
I can understand his point of view. The fans were unhappy and he is merely echoing their thoughts, he's doing his best to win them over. Picking fans over the players is not a clever move though.
When a manager needs players onside, as Redfearn does, the last thing he should do is give them reason to be upset. It just won’t work. The players will still be alright at the end of the season whether they stay at Leeds with Redfearn or not. He needs them more than they need him.
Managers like Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger and Louis van Gaal have been known to question their players in public because their reputations allow it, they are respected and positively-feared in the dressing room.
Redfearn, on the other hand, is no Mourinho or Wenger. His only previous full-time management record consists of Northwich Victoria and Scarborough…
With Saturday’s performance against Cardiff in mind, you would be disappointed if he didn’t kick his players up the backside, but the moment he brings that attitude out of the dressing is the moment that he loses the respect of his players and bosses.
It was a bad weekend all around for Leeds United and Neil Redfearn.