The Sacking of Darko Milanic

32 Days. That is how long Leeds United’s most recent manager lasted in charge of the club. After just 6 winless games, Darko Milanic was sacked on Saturday evening by their ruthless owner Massimo Cellino. His spell makes Brian Clough’s time in charge (44 days) look like a Sir Alex Ferguson-style reign as he becomes the latest casualty at the Championship side, where former caretaker Neil Redfearn will take over permanently. Milanic’s predecessor David Hockaday managed just 6 games (2 wins and 4 defeats), before caretaker boss Redfearn took over and won 3 of his 4 games in charge but was not given the job full-time. It has to be asked, what on earth is going on at Leeds United?

At the centre of all this stands the owner Massimo Cellino, the 58-year old entrepreneur and former owner of Cagliari. He was known to be merciless while at the Italian club, and sacked 36 managers in just 22 years, earning himself the nickname  Il mangiatore di direttore, “The Manager Eater.” This culture of short-termism has travelled with him, but Leeds fans will hope Redfearn is given time and the resources to improve the club’s position in the league, where they currently sit 18th and are precariously just 5 points off the relegation zone.

Just hours before Milanic was given his marching orders, Cellino actually defended his manager’s position in a press-conference before producing a not-unusual turnaround (Cellino has history in this respect). Leeds United’s first ever non-British or Irish manager had a dismal time in charge, but to think that 32 days is enough for someone to implement their ideas and have a great influence on a side is nigh on ludicrous. The Championship team may have scored just 4 goals in their 6 games under the Slovenian, but they did manage 3 draws and it is hard to put the club’s problems at the foot of the former international. 2 of the 3 losses came by just a one-goal margin, while his side conceded 8 goals in his time. Justifying the sacking is a hard task. Most football fans would agree that the least a boss can be given is a transfer window to buy players who they themselves want and who fit their system and sadly Milanic has been denied this opportunity.

It is a sad state of affairs that short-termism is becoming more and more embedded in English football culture, with ever more impatient owners demanding immediate success. In fact, only 7 managers from 24 clubs in the Championship have lasted longer than a year, with Steve Evans currently the longest-serving boss after 2 years and 201 days in charge of Rotherham United. This trend of sacking managers as soon as results don’t go their way is a real shame and sadly Leeds United are one of the main culprits. Hopefully, under Neil Redfearn, that will change.


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