Why is Massimo Cellino dismantling the Leeds academy?

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Massimo Cellino bought Leeds United in 2014 and since then he has fired three managers.

Brian McDermott, David Hockaday and Darko Milanic have all been the victim of the so called 'manager eater'.

He also declined to give Neil Redfern an extension on his one year contract despite arguably keeping Leeds United in the Championship. When he fired McDermott in February 2014 he was barricaded inside Elland Road by a number of Leeds' fans.


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He then rehired and subsequently re-fired McDermott and rather than appease the angry Leeds supporters, he angered them further by hiring unknown manager David Hockaday. His justification?

'Managers are like watermelons, you do not know how good they are until you crack them open.'

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Needless to say this particular water melon wasn't ripe and Hockaday was sacked after just six games. He also fired an untold number of staff to cut back on costs and there were even reports the Leeds United players had to bring their own lunch to training and had to wash their own clothes.

This rather bizarre, erratic behaviour gives an insight into life at Leeds United under Massimo Cellino. However, his biggest mistake may currently be unfolding right now.

Thorp Arch

Thorp Arch is the famous name of the Leeds United academy. This particular academy has produced football players such as Harry Kewell, Alan Smith, Jonathan Woodgate, Fabian Delph, James Milner, Aaron Lennon and Ian Harte to name a few. Even now there are four players in the Leeds United starting 11.

Lewis Cook, Alex Mowatt, Sam Byram and Charlie Taylor are all established first team players and there are even more pushing for a start such as Kalvin Phillips and Chris Dawson. 

However, Massimo Cellino has seen Neil Redfern leave. He is also stated that he wants to sell Thorp Arch and build a new training ground near Elland Road, lamenting the high cost of renting Thorp Arch.

It could be argued that this idea is just a threat to try and bring the cost of rent down at Thorp Arch. This is plausible, and yet this doesn't explain the sacking of key members of the coaching staff, staff that have overseen the development of some outstanding footballers.

I'm not for suggesting that moving the training ground near to Elland Road means that we won't produce these great players again. I'm also not suggesting that any new members of staff brought in to replace the sacked ones definitely won't do a good job.

However, I use the phrase 'if it is not broke, don't fix it'. The sackings could be part of a top-to-bottom restructuring process. However, part of me thinks he is just doing it out of spite, as he wants everything good about Leeds to be the direct result of his input.

Figure of fun at Elland Road

The thing with Massimo Cellino is he is prone to breaking his promises and as such he has become a very untrustworthy figure at Elland Road, and a comical one too.

One look on Twitter will see the majority of fans dressing Cellino up in a clown outfit. When we sold McCormack for £11 million pounds, Cellino promised us he would buy Elland Road within 5 months. That was 11 months ago.

There is also a sense around Leeds fans that the only reason Neil Redfern is being let go is because the Leeds United fans love him so much, and as a result, like a child at school who was jealous of the popular kids, he came up with a cunning plan to sabotage Redfern. He sacked his assistant manager Steve Thompson without providing any justification and refused to give him a new contract. He was cutting off his own nose to spite his face.

Since Leeds United appointed Adam Pearson, Pearson has taken the driving seat and has proved to be the sedative that Massimo Cellino needed. Since his appointment Leeds United have signed Sol Bamba and Chris Wood.

Chris Wood was the first £3 million signing since Nick Barmby in 2003. It just makes me uneasy that behind these positive scenes there is a crisis brewing.

Only time will tell, but I fear this is the calm before the storm.

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