Darko days are over

26 Oct 2014 10:34am, by YorkshireSquare

Darko Milanic equalled Don Revie’s record of no wins in his first six matches against Wolves on Saturday but he will be remembered for a couple of new records set after Nicola Salerno gave him the news that his tenure as Leeds United manager was over.

With only 32 days and 6 matches in the job Milanic becomes the shortest serving permanent Leeds United manager ever. This smashed the previous record, the notorious 44 day spell that Brian Clough spent in charge of the club in 1974*. Clough managed one thing Milanic didn’t manage though, a win, and Milanic becomes the only permanent Leeds manager never to have won a game.

It’s clear what cost Milanic his job, his negative style of play and more importantly results. With three draws and three defeats and a total of only three points results were certainly lacklustre, especially when compared to Neil Redfearn’s temporary spell in charge. Redfearn managed three wins and a draw, ten points, in his four games in charge. Perhaps more telling is the fact that Redfearn converted loosing positions at half time against Birmingham and Bournemouth into a draw and a win. In contrast Milanic never converted a losing position at half time into points in the second half and on two occasions, against Rotherham and Wolves, converted a winning position into a defeat.

Milanic came with a reputation for a negative style of play and that was apparent in recent performances. But Leeds fans buy their football tickets from footballtickettrade.com and they want positive football. Early matches you can forgive him for adapting to a new league but the changes in formation and style at half time against Rotherham and Wolves cost us victories. In the Championship you cannot expect to sit back for 45 minutes and hold onto a lead, its end to end stuff and the opposition will always get chances. What’s more is I don’t think we are good enough at defending to hold a one nil lead. Milanic was Leeds’ first overseas coach and it showed with his naivety to the English game, you can’t blame him for that though, the blame must lay with Cellino for the appointment.

The pressure of having an owner like Cellino can also not be underestimated. With an owner who ‘eats’ managers the pressure is there from the very start to get victories and get them quickly. Perhaps Milanic’s negative style, his propensity to sit back and hold on to leads came from the pressure not to lose? We hold up Redfearn’s record for comparison but he was managing under different circumstances, less pressure. In the first half of the Birmingham game we were playing conservative football and were losing at half time. After the break we threw everything forward, Doukara and Austin changed the game and we drew, in reality we could have taken all three points.

This more positive style of football was evident in Redfearn’s next two games against Huddersfield and Bournemouth. Without the pressure of the job permanently he could afford to play a more positive, adventurous style of football and we won both matches. Many will say that managers need time but what they really need is the confidence to know they can play their style of football, to be adventurous without the prospect of the sack looming over their heads.

Milanic’s appointment was probably a mistake, Cellino has admitted that, and I think it is clear to most people that what we need is someone with experience of the English game and particularly the Championship. Cellino has bought some good players, we have the makings of a decent squad, but he is naïve to this league and the style and tempo of football played. He needs someone with experience to coach the team and Milanic was not that man. He has now backed Redfearn as his man, he certainly had experience of English football and he knows Leeds United inside out but if he is to achieve results similar to the last time he needs assurances that he has the backing to do his job. Clubs who constantly change their managers do not succeed, clubs with consistency and continuity do, look at Don Revie. No more chopping, no more changing, Cellino has picked his man, let’s build something here, stop tearing things down and starting again.


* Jock Stein’s reign as Leeds manager in 1978 also lasted 44 days, though he was not sacked, he resigned to take up the Scotland job.