Are you a Celieber? Does your affinity to President Cellino run deeper than Leeds United? Are you anti-Cellino – and by extension anti-Leeds?!? Yes as usual everything is BLACK or WHITE in LS11-World! Whatever side of the fence you stand, the words of Dubbya all those years ago resonate – YOU’RE EITHER WITH US OR AGAINST US!
Me? My loyalties lay with Leeds United first and foremost and it is fair to say that beneath the wrangling, the pro or anti-Cellino mob feel the same. Ultimately we all want what is best for the club.
But years of misery has taken its toll. Thanks to social media, and in particular Twitter, our fan-base began the journey together and is in danger of leaving apart. In Cellino, I cannot recall a more divisive figure in all my time as a Leeds fan.
But the anxieties of most are played out none more through the social medium where debate leads to argument leads to spiteful vitriol. We only hope this never gets opportunity to manifest itself at match day.
There are those whose agenda is such that they will find fault regardless of what Cellino achieves. Equally, there are those who cannot accept when his behaviour should be questioned.
There is no man more blind than he who cannot see. Meanwhile, Cellino will divide and rule regardless but, as I take up my place squarely ON the fence, let’s look at the facts:
He appears, on the face of it, to be a charmer. His persona seems to have endeared him to most he has met, from members of the local press to the away support at Griffin Park. Temper that with the perception of those who have served under him. I think in particular the countless coaches, the backroom staff, the slighted Mr Bean. The impression is that beneath the charm, beneath the zaniness, beneath the subterfuge, Cellino could be a real bugger.
But we are football fans. Moreover we are Leeds United fans. And so his character – likeable or otherwise, his ego, his handling of staff (brutal in terms of redundancies) – does, without sounding callous, become of lesser importance. Only those directly affected, through lost livelihood, may have reason to grumble. The rest of us, we need to toughen up and be realistic.
For performance on the pitch will always trump that behind the scenes. Putting together a promotion push takes precedence to organisation of the banqueting suite.
Massimo Cellino arrived at Leeds and inherited a mess. Haemorrhaging money to the tune of £1m a month, players not being paid, few saleable assets, dwindling belief in the loveable yet increasingly-hapless McDermott, administration beckoning yet again… Something had to give.
He has made mistakes. The sacking and re-hiring of McDermott, the Hockaday experiment, the “Machiavellian intent” displayed in avoiding import duty.
But he has owned the club for just 6 months. During this time, he has reduced debt; bonded the Academy and First-team squads; improved playing personnel; drove a fantastic deal for a want-away striker and, as I pen this, set up a meeting with Jacob Adler with a view to repurchasing our Elland Road home.
After been pillaged by a succession of buffoons, chancers and shysters, I for one will forgive him the occasional Hockaday or tax-dodge if it means the club is once again upwardly-mobile. 12 years in the mire. Give him longer than 6 months…
Reporter – Aaron Pearson