It’s a sad sign of the times, of football in general and of Massimo Cellino’s regime especially. Newly appointed Garry Monk is just two league games into his tenure as Leeds United manager and already the talk has turned to sacking.
At any other time it would be laughable, an ironic joke, but this is modern football and this is Leeds United where all irony dissipates into the quagmire of despair. Cellino’s has disposed of managers as one would chewing gum and displayed all the tranquil patience of Veruca Salt.
Birmingham left Leeds on Saturday having faced a different manager on the last ten visits to Elland Road. Granted the oldest of those matches stretches back to the late eighties. However, in recent times managers have come and gone quicker than Steve Evans chasing an ice cream van.
Monk is the eighth manager of the Italian’s three year reign. Cellino has had to change the clock in his office less often than he has changed managers.
With this in mind, it’s little wonder that the same issues exist as three years ago; the defence is frail, youngsters are leaving and wins aren’t flowing freely.
However, Monk has made it clear that he isn’t in it for the quick fix. He’s called for a change of mentality for “fans … players, staff, everyone at the club.” And it’s difficult to argue with the former Swansea manager.
He made no excuses for a lacklustre second half against Birmingham, questioning their “determination and desire” and slamming their “softness” and need for a “strong mentality.” Monk pulled no punches.
Before the game Monk had talked about old cliché of turning Elland Road into a fortress; reminiscing of Swansea trips of old and the siege mentality around the ground.
Since then Swansea have surged forward, out of League One and into Europe. Leeds, however, have stalled in the Championship, passed from one distrusted owner to another operating a managerial merry-go-round, dubious transfer policy and shrouds of mistruths.
From Bates, to GFH and on to Cellino, Leeds have seen the club stripped of its assets; Elland Road and the club’s state of the art Thorpe Arch facility is owned by Manchester businessman Jacob Adler and exciting young prospects such as Sam Byram and Lewis Cook have long departed for pittance while Charlie Taylor continues to search for his exit.
Ending the Siege Mentality
The siege mentality has all bar dissipated, turned instead into a haze of frustration, anger and mistrust. Fans have split into factions of Cellino haters and those clinging to belief – or possibly just hope – that the Italian corn magnate is the man to deliver the club back to the promise land of the Premier League and beyond. Leeds isn’t United any more.
It’s difficult for the supporters – when pre-season optimism was high and anticipation of a return to the top flight grows with each passing season – to see the team struggle on the field. However, they must put their differences aside for a few hours each week; not to unite behind Cellino or against him, but behind the club.
Cliché though it may be, Elland Road should be a fortress. It should be feared. It should make the opposition grimace at the thought. It’s the fans that can make that happen. This club is bigger than one man, regardless of how big his ego and wallet may or may not be.
So the fans must get behind the team: no more booing, no sarcastic applause, just good old fashioned support. They should give Monk a chance to change that mentality and start that change in stands and bring the players and staff along.