Friday, 29 August 2014

Cellino explains Hockaday dismissal - and says he'd like him back one day

Leeds owner Massimo Cellino sacked Dave Hockaday on Thursday – and then revealed he would like him back as boss one day.

Hockaday was dismissed after just six games in charge of the Championship side.

The final straw for Cellino came with an embarrassing League Cup defeat by Bradford on Wednesday night.

The Italian had initially decided to sack Hockaday following the 4-1 league defeat at Watford on Saturday, only to perform a dramatic U-turn.

Hockaday, 56, leave with a record of three defeats in four league games.

“I felt sorry for him and had to give him some tranquillity,” Cellino told me.

“After the game on Wednesday, I found him in real trouble, it was getting too much for him.

“It was hell for him. He was under big, big pressure. I had to do something.”

Cellino denied he had made a mistake in appointing the 56-year-old back in June though.

The decision to choose Hockaday to succeed Brian McDermott as Leeds boss was met with widespread derision among the Leeds faithful.

The 56-year-old had only one previous managerial job on his CV – and that had ended in the sack at non-league Forest Green following a run of seven defeats in eight games.

“I think he has good qualities,” Cellino added.

“I found he had skills, loyalty and a desire to work hard.

“He is a very nice man – probably too nice.

“In the future, when I have a stronger team, I would like him to come back to Leeds.

“He is the perfect coach for a club that is strong.

Cellino had a reputation as a ruthless owner who got through lots of coaches during his time as owner of Italian side Cagliari.

Yet he admitted he felt sympathy and possible even guilt because of Hockaday's plight.

“I don’t think it was a fair chance for Hockaday,” the 58-year-old said.

“He needed an environment that was ready to protect him.

“I told him a couple of days ago ‘it’s not your fault’.

“The club doesn’t have a physical trainer or a goalkeeping coach.

“The team isn’t strong enough. The whole culture isn’t right.

“It’s easier to coach Real Madrid than Leeds at the moment.

“Hockaday needed time, but there was a game Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday, and he never had that time.

“He agreed with my decision and it was like a weight had been lifted from him.”

Academy boss Neil Redfearn will now take caretaker charge of the side against Bolton tomorrow and Cellino believes things will start to improve.

“Neil Redfearn knows the boys and he is going to protect that team on Saturday," he said.

“We will have good new players coming.”

Cellino insisted he did not have a replacement lined up.

“If I said I had someone lined up, I would be lying,” he said.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Cellino on Bates meetings, Hockaday, and new signings

You might have thought you'd seen the back of him, but he refuses to go away.

On Thursday, Ken Bates gave an interview to Yorkshire Radio, revealing some recent meetings with new owner Massimo Cellino.

Turns out that what he said was true - and for the reason that a few of you had said.

I spoke to Cellino on Thursday night and he told me: "It's true, we've had meetings. I have to protect Leeds from the case involving Bates and GFH.

"He is suing GFH and the Leeds owner, which is now me.

"I am trying to have a friendly transaction to save the club a lot of money. We are spending too much time, money and energy on legal cases."

These are the facts as far as I'm aware (you might know more than me).

When GFH bought the club, they agreed Bates would continue as president, for three years, and at a salary of approximately £300,000 per year.

GFH subsequently sacked Bates, because he had committed the club to paying for a private jet to fly him from his home in Monaco to Leeds whenever he wanted, for three years.

Bates insisted the travel arrangement was covered by the contract of sale and is taking legal action against Leeds and GFH.

This is likely to be alleviated by some kind of deal, most likely with Bates' Radio Yorkshire being given the broadcast rights to Leeds matches (while they are in the Championship, anyway).

Meanwhile, Cellino said he was "ashamed" of the team's performance against Brighton on Tuesday night, when they lost 2-0 at Elland Road. But he refused to blame manager Dave Hockaday for the defeat.

"I was so pissed off with him during the match, but then afterwards I realised it wasn't his fault, and the fans need to realise this," he said.

"He doesn’t have the players he needs to do what he wants. I would like to blame Hockaday - that would be the easy thing to do and might make me feel better - but the truth is he just doesn’t have the players at the moment."

Cellino hopes to bring in as many as six new players, including Cagliari starlet Adryan.

That deal is proving quite complex though, so could take a while.

Offloading unwanted players is proving difficult, basically because there aren't any clubs coming in for them.

Sam Byram certainly isn't in this unwanted category, yet reports of big offers for him are wide of the mark. I understand that there haven't been any firm bids for the full-back.

Certainly Cellino doesn't feel the transfer strategy of the last few seasons has been that effective.

While he says only about £2 million has been spent on transfer fees in the last three seasons, the wages bill last season was £19 million.

So the low transfer fees don't mask the fact that a lot of the players were ageing and on big salaries. Perhaps not the most prudent strategy.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Cellino hopeful of Adryan deal

Leeds owner Massimo Cellino hopes to pull off a major transfer coup by landing the ’new Kaka’.

Cellino is locked in talks with Brazilian club Flamengo about signing their playmaker Adryan.

Manchester United made moves for the 20-year-old in 2012, while he has also been linked with Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Adryan is currently on loan at Cellino’s old club, Cagliari, after the Italian took him there in January.

Cellino, 58, revealed: “The player wants to come to Elland Road, so that is not the issue here. I know Adryan well and he is a special talent.

“But this is a complicated deal. There is still talking to do with Flamengo and the player’s agent.”

Adryan’s agent is due to meet Cellino at Elland Road today and a deal could be concluded before tonight’s game at home to Brighton.

Adryan has played for Brazil at every age level from the Under-15s to the Under-20s.

So far, he has been dubbed the new Zico, Romario and Kaka in his homeland.