Danny Hall column: Leeds are in a mess, Mass - and Sheffield Wednesday’s fans had a lucky escape

Massimo Cellino
Massimo Cellino
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Don’t panic just yet, but there are just 56 days until Christmas. Or, to shamelessly recycle a joke which made me chuckle on Twitter this week, the tenure of two Leeds United managers.

After all, you have to laugh - not least because of the club in question. Just 32 days after leaving Sturm Graz to take over at Elland Road, Darko Milanic became the latest victim of Massimo Cellino’s haywire trigger finger. He had taken charge of just six games.

Yet, the sad reality is that such behaviour isn’t out of the ordinary

The late, great Brian Clough lasted just 44 days at Leeds back in the 1970s, and that ill-fated reign spawned a successful book and subsequent movie.

But what would Hollywood make of the antics of Cellino, whose love of hiring managers seems only second to his lust for firing them? Cellino, after all, is the man who established a reputation as the ‘manager-eater’ after going through 36 coaches in two decades at Italian side Cagliari.

The alarm bells for Leeds supporters - and, probably, football fans in general - began to ring when Cellino was initially prevented from taking over at Elland Road, before having the decision overturned on appeal thanks to a loophole in Italian law.

Then, managing director David Haigh resigned after a clash with Cellino, amidst the backdrop of a police probe into spy cameras in the Elland Road boardroom and toilets. But those alarm bells should perhaps have reached deafening volume when Milanic, having bought himself out of his Sturm Graz contract, was unveiled at Elland Road.

“I don’t know why I’ve chosen him,” Cellino told the assembled Press.

“His particularly qualities? He’s good looking, what can I tell you?

“Coaches are like watermelons. You find out about them when you open them.”

In some ways, we South Yorkshire folk are somewhat lucky that we can view Cellino’s madcap antics from relative safety.

It could have been a lot closer to home.

Cellino, it emerged earlier this year, considered a takeover of Sheffield Wednesday in September of 2013, meeting Owls owner Milan Mandaric and enjoying his company in the directors’ box. Mandaric, of course, had enjoyed - or, rather, been tarred with - a reputation for firing managers in his day. But next to Cellino, he is a saint of patience.

While the Owls continue on a relatively solid footing, on and off the field, Leeds’ turmoil continues. Indecision remains about the repurchase of Elland Road, the Football League are keeping a close eye on Cellino and defender Giuseppe Bellusci has become embroiled in football’s latest racism storm after an allegation from Norwich City’s Cameron Jerome.

Still clamouring for that would-be investor, Owls fans? Learn the lessons from your cousins up the M1, and be careful what you wish for.