Cellino, Back to Basics

04 Aug 2014 10:39am, by YorkshireSquare

Massimo Cellino couldn’t be much further away from John Major in terms of personality but they share an approach to things, Back to Basics. Cellino was surprised when he eventually got access to the books at Elland Road at how much the club cost to run and how much Leeds United were losing every month. His answer was to go on a strict cost cutting exercise involving closing the clubs Thorp Arch training complex over summer, cutting funding for the Leeds United Ladies team and a number of redundancies. Many of these actions were unpopular with staff and fans alike and divided opinion of the new President. But Massimo Cellino will not care, he is his own man and he will do what he thinks will need to be done.

After years of radio stations and proposed nightclubs under Ken Bates and mismanagement under a bunch of clueless bankers, Cellino is getting back to the number one priority, football. This started with the appointment of the new head coach, Dave Hockaday. Largely unheard of outside of the game Hockday was approached after Cellino instructed ‘someone in footballing circles to source a good English coach’. He is the definition of a no frills, no nonsense, back to basics coach. With a track record in the Championship as a coach and lower leagues as a manager he has never had such a big job. He is unproven at this level, in a job of this profile and many of the fans will have misgivings.

The teams pre-season training camp to northern Italy was a taste of what was to come, hard work. Many of the players saying it was the hardest camp they had ever been on, the hardest they have ever trained. The early pre-seasons friendlies were not much to write home about, a loss to Mansfield Town and draw against Chesterfield not exactly setting the world alight. But there have been signs of improvement, sings of things coming together, wins against Swindon, Glenavon and finally Dundee, the Dundee game being the most promising. It may be hard to judge a performance against a Scottish league side but the signs were good, particularly in the first have, simple yet effective passing game. Back to basics.

Of course the press have had a laugh at the expense of Leeds United during the summer with stories about players having to bring their own lunch, do their own laundry and buy their own socks. That seems to have been at the height of the cost cutting though and things are beginning to return to normal, the kitchens have reopened. Recruitment has started again and players are coming in now rather than just departing, cellino though will not pay over the odds and European players are more likely to sign than ‘expensive’ English players.

Cellino will always have an eye on the bottom line, the Thorp Arch reception desk stands unattended in darkness as a cost saving measure and the previously busy club office at Elland Road are significantly less populated than once they were. A move away from Thorp arch to a cheaper site at Kirkstall is still on the cards if Cellino cannot do a deal to rebuy the facilities. Similar could be said of Elland Road too, if Cellino cannot get the deal he is said to have offered he may consider a move away. There is no room for sentiment when running a football club these days.

When Cellino took over at Leeds he said “If I was running a Fiat 500 in Italy, now I have the chance to run a Ferrari”. Ferraris are expensive to run though. What will Cellino’s cost cutting, back to basics approach leave us with? A stripped out race car capable of winning promotion back to the Premiership. Let’s hope so!