In amongst the standard drama that accompanies the departure of a football manager, something shifted at Leeds United last week.
This was surely the voice of Andrea Radrizzani, in his capacity not as `good buddy’ on social media, but as owner of the club. You’d expect a media mogul like Radrizzani to do the things he’s already been doing pretty well.
He’ll retweet when prompted, he’ll add in the odd soundbite about a decent win, or signing a new player, but something definitely changed last week.
His communications around the sacking of Thomas Christiansen had rather more to them than the standard, `we thank him for his efforts’ platitudes than we’d have expected.
In interviews with the BBC, YEP and LUTV his initial statements included an `apology’ to the fans for his selection of manager.
Well yes, but he was direct enough that he felt his choice was made rather in hope that a positive attitude would overcome his lack of experience outside of Cyprus.
He of course also pulled up the BBC with a tweet concerning the content of what he said later – that he WAS not saying Thomas Christiansen was poor at his job, and that he was grateful for the hard work undertaken.
One moment sticks in the mind from the LUTV interview he undertook the interviewer asks “was it a hard decision to make (the sacking of Christiansen)?” he fires back without hesitation “No” he does then qualify that it was a hard decision emotionally but you are left with the impression that he has stepped it up in terms of his own engagement here.
The other interesting issue you infer from his other statements last week surround our director of football. He states – perhaps trying to soften the image of the increasingly unpopular Victor Orta, that it was In fact Orta who stopped him from wielding the axe in January (remember his tweet after the lousy Newport County performance)..
He however also refers to his views on the squad, describing it as imbalanced, top heavy in certain areas, that the recruitment drive has almost been uneven, a `buy, buy, buy’ to populate a thin squad but that this will be redressed.
You can’t disagree on this point, we certainly have proven our lack of depth at the back this year, while having plenty of midfielders of all sorts.. in an earlier article we’ve of course made our views clear on the role and the approach of Victor Orta – but you wonder whether the owner is having that `Steve Gibson’ moment – when he realises the squad isn’t better than last season – its worse – and… he’s just spent a shed load of money o it – and increased his wage bill by £7m.
He discusses his view of a core squad of 20 (pretty trim) augmented by U23’s, so the inference here is whether the players weve spent handsomely on recruiting into this area are good enough – its pressure all round then on the DoF to deliver..
Much of the above is inference of course, you cannot pretend to know whats going through our owners mind. He is certainly a man of action. He’s bought the ground back, he has made life a lot more positive around the club, yes he’s had a low nett spend when you consider like for like transfer fees received versus transfer fees spent – but he hasn’t done a Ken Bates and simply not invested.. He’s put at least some of that money into replacements.
The key question for Radrizzani now is though his next move. Leeds have a new manager – who clearly has his own ideas on the type of football we need to play, but what Saturday showed was that we probably dot have the right players to do it – ergo – tough decisions upcoming, and moreso, a review of our recruitment.
It highlights the fact that the manager is the man with the plan – if he wants to play 2 wingers – you need 4 decent options in the squad. Look at Saturday – Stuart Dallas had to play right back?
Why – well we hadn’t recalled Lewie Coyle from his Fleetwood loan.
Our other out and out wingers?
Alioski – who toiled all game, and Hadi Sacko, who has struggled at this level and whom I was surprised we permanently signed.
Other than this he relied on Kemar Roofe, who is no way a wide man and unsurprisingly had a dreadful game. Its Heckingbottom then who has to seek out what type of player he needs, for that balanced squad – which is what Radrizzani is talking about. Victor Orta – as usual has little to say to the press.
His signings of late seem to have changed in nature. Adam Forshaw, Tyler Roberts, Laurens De Bock, seem much more typically Championship signings you wonder how much pushback he has had when you compare these solid physical players with the more lightweight Alioski, Sacko, Klich, Cibicki?
It looks like our owner has started to show a bit more of his personality and his management style. It will be interesting to see now that impacts on the success of the squad..