By Keith Ingham
As I was about to head up the 'wooden hill' for some reason I looked at my phone and Twitter to be greeted by one of the worst kept secrets in football. Brian McDermott had left Leeds United FC by ' mutual consent '. I say worst kept because the moment the mad Italian had the keys to the directors lounge it was plain to see that Mr McDermott was not to be given another season to attempt to get Leeds into the Premiership. Massimo Cellino sees Leeds taking a different route with him in the driving seat. The broken Ferrari he bought needs more than a good body spray to get it roadworthy and he didn't see Brian as the man to help him get it so. I liked Brian, just because with the 'shady' goings on behind the scenes he never hid behind them and his admiration of his position as Leeds manager instilled support of his tenure. He gave every interviewer an honest answer, in these times it counts for a lot.
This isn't the first time he's been removed from a club, Reading did it after he got them to the promised land and back on 'mad Friday' Cellino asked his lawyer to sack him over the phone as soon as GFH had agreed in principle the sale of the club. The mess that followed that day is well documented and more's the pity will go down as another when our once mighty club laid itself open to ridicule from other clubs fans.
When Brian came I welcomed the man with open arms, a tried and successful manager, intelligent and with a CV that was hard to question. He started well and his influence got the points needed to allay fears of the distinct possibility of relegation with back to back wins over Sheffield Wednesday and Burnley. He was working with what he had and where Warnock struggled to get a performance out of them, Brian at least brought in a workmanlike ethic sadly missing up to that point in that terrible season, although Warnock said all was needed was a couple more 'gems' to make us a force not many believed the deluded 'Colin'. We ended the season in mid table but it could have been far worse.
The 2013/14 season brought better hopes with several additions to a top heavy, especially in midfield squad. The players brought in were Noel Hunt, Matt Smith and Luke Murphy our first million pound player since 2008. In a never to be forgotten first game Leeds came from behind to win in injury time with a Murphy goal. A goalless draw at the Champions Leicester City was followed by wins at Ipswich and Bolton, we were steadily moving up the league and the only real disappointing performance was the spineless effort at Derby, ten straight defeats against the 'Rams'. November brought a four goal salvo from Ross McCormack at Charlton in a 4-2 win at the Valley.
Whatever happened over Christmas and into January is open to question, whether something happened to split the dressing room is debatable but some of the performances shamed the famous shirt the players wore. I'll not mention them all but reverses in the FA Cup at Rochdale and the week after a 6-0 hammering at Wednesday were more than some fans could take. It simply wasn't good enough and the managers tactics were open to question. The chaos behind the scenes continued but although it didn't help you cannot blame all the ills on very poor team performances. If results go wrong fans look to signings if they don't do it they look at the manager. It's surprising that although the players commitment was openly questioned the manager still was backed by the fans. After that fateful Friday his support was strengthened as the fans thronged the East Stand in support to demand his reinstatement after his sacking and the players produced a performance for their absent manager. The 5-1 win over Huddersfield being one of the highlights of the season.
March was another shocking month with a 1-5 defeat at home to Bolton followed the Tuesday 2-4 beating by Reading, Leeds were 4-0 down in this game. A disgraceful 4-1 defeat on the South Coast at Bournemouth was another performance when several players waved the white flag. The fans, myself included questioned why the manager wasn't replaced as Leeds slid down the Championship, with a win needed a 2-0 win over Blackpool followed by a win at Oakwell guaranteed Leeds their Championship future. He remained committed but the fifteenth place in the Championship was still a disappointment. His record at Leeds was 55 games in which he won twenty one, drew nine and lost twenty five. His win ratio was 38%.
Much has been written that Brian's tenure was blighted by the club been in disarray with the ownership been in question from November onwards. I still hold Brian McDermott in high esteem because he remained focused on the job and he never failed to show the supporters respect they deserved. Maybe he was the right man but at the wrong time I don't know but respect in my world is earned and Brian McDermott earned mine and I know that a club will get a good, honest bloke who given better circumstances will make his next team benefit from his experience of his time at Elland Road.
Thank you Brian, a true gentleman. Good luck wherever you go.
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