There's only one Neil Redfearn
21 Sep 2014 12:36 pm, by theleedsmango
On one hand, many would see the caretakers role as risk-free and hence there is less pressure than on a new manager who is coming in to the club. It isn't his job to do well, he's a temporary stop gap.
On the other hand, his task was not straightforward. At all. Caretaker managers usually step in to a club where the first 11 is fairly established and usually carries on with the same players, tweaking the tactics to try and get something new from the players. Redfearn had to deal with the extra complications of having 15 new players brought in whom nobody knew much about and somehow integrate them with the old guard brought in by previous managers as well as integrating the youngsters; the group he knew most about. On top of that, the fanbase was frustrated by Cellino's appointment of Hockaday, a no-name coach who hadn't got a glittering CV at all. With greatest respect to Redfearn, his managerial CV prior to working at Leeds academy wasn't exactly glowing either. Surely the crowd wouldn't warm to the option of Redfearn possibly getting the job permanently?
Redfearn had one phrase that stood out on his CV that gave him a head start in winning over the fans. "He's Leeds." A phrase when a player, current or past, shows even the slightest bit of loyalty towards the club. And Redfearn is Leeds. In fact our club hasn't had much consistency over the past few years. Two come to mind; performing abysmally on a weekday night and Redfearn's role in the academy. It would be fitting then that Redfearn would put together a performance on a Tuesday night against Bournemouth that would probably be described as our best weekday performance in the past few years.
Redfearn took a risk in his team selections. Hockaday had lost the remaining fans who still believed in him when he continued to chose Tonge, Norris and Murphy when they wanted to see the new signings. Cellino too would have wanted his summer captures to feature predominantly so he could see how well his money was spent. In an overcrowded midfield of experienced players, Redfearn put Cook and Mowatt ahead of many of them. Two people who he could rely on and whom he knew well. Mowatt got off to a great start when given a first team role by Brian McDermott but his impact fizzled out towards the end of the season. Cook hadn't broken in to the first team yet. It was a risky decision on two accounts. One, it still wasn't what the fans or, I assume Cellino wanted to see. Two, youngsters should be eased into an established team not thrown in at the deep end in a mismatched team.
Mowatt and Cook have performed above expectations, a credit again to the importance of Redfearn's role in the academy. I would hazard a guess that their admiration and respect for Redfearn helped them move up a gear in their performances.
It would be a disservice to Redfearn to say his academy graduates where his only success in his short reign as first team Coach. He's got the best performances out of Austin, Warnock and Pearce; three of the remnants from previous regimes that many never wanted to see back in the squad. Yet few could doubt that they have showed more consistency for the past few weeks than they did under the managers who brought them in.
He has also, somehow, managed to integrate the surge of foreign signings into a team that looks impressive. Again, with no disrespect to Redfearn, many of the new players wouldn't have been thrilled with being coached by an Academy coach with very few credentials.
Redfearn's final moment in his caretaker position was a triumphant one. Against Leeds local rivals, Huddersfield, the stakes where higher than most Championship matches. Few will forget the last match against Huddersfield, sandwiched in between the bizarre firing and rehiring of McDermott. Leeds won against the odds, as Redfearn controlled the second and shortest stint as caretaker. Huddersfield would be out for revenge, keen to embarrass Leeds on their home soil and take advantage of a managerless and, if you believe the pundits and media, in crisis Leeds.
The day couldn't have unfolded better for Leeds as they walked confidently out of the game with a comfortable 3-0 win despite going down to 10 men in the final stages. There were no signs of having to endure the storms in the last 5 minutes that we were used to last season. Tuesday night wins and comfortable ending to matches. Redfearn had quashed the hoodoo surrounding Leeds, and after a triumphant display, the crowd chanted "There's only one Neil Redfearn"
So here's to Neil. I feel it's for the best we bring a new manager in and keep Redfearn in his current role but we can only thank him for giving us our best run of games in a long time. Hope he takes pleasure in watching Mowatt, Cook, Byram, Dawson and Taylor develop. And indeed, takes pleasure in watching the team develop. Let's hope he's around in case we need him for a 4th stint in the role. And let's hope he takes a big role in working alongside Milanic. His input is beyond valuable and it would be a shame to lose him to another club willing to take the risk. He's Leeds, after all.