WARNOCK & THE SHORT TERM ERA
Ken Bates, announcing Neil Warnock’s arrival, 18th Feb:
We believe the appointment is arguably the most important we have made.
Peter Lorimer, in his Evening Post column, 24th Feb:
I honestly see this as the biggest decision the club have made for a long, long time. It’s a real sign of our intent and ambition … I’ve no doubt that we’ll see a big improvement over time and I really get the feeling that we’ve moved into a new era.
Neil Warnock, in his column in The Independent, 25th Feb:
If things go wrong, I will call it a day. As long as I enjoy it, I will see how it goes between now and the end of the season. My contract is until the end of next season, but I’ve spoken to Ken Bates, the Leeds chairman, and if we know it’s not working – I’m not into contracts now, I was when I’m younger – we’ll go our own way.
Twice in recent weeks the club has trumpeted the absolutely meaningless phrase “Evolution not Revolution” - you’d think some people had been marching in the streets or something - once in Bates’ programme notes, once on the official site. “We’ve got everything else right,” “adjustments,” “fine tuning”: in a weird nod to Warren G and Nate Dogg, Leeds United seem to think they’re tweaking into a whole new era. But what the difference in the comments from Bates and Lorimer and those from Warnock shows is that the attitude towards the football side at Leeds United hasn’t changed at all. The ‘strategy,’ such as it is, hasn’t budged an inch.
One of the good sides to Warnock’s appointment is that he doesn’t need to do this, and it’s not about money. He’s believed to have taken a considerable pay cut compared to what he was on at QPR, and certainly compared to a new contract if he had stayed at Loftus Road. So immediately, one great pressure is removed and he can manage with relative abandon, a luxury not many managers enjoy. But then, one of the bad sides to Warnock’s appointment is that he doesn’t need to do this, and it’s not about money. Despite what Lorimer says about “a new era,” Warnock could up and leave at any moment. If I was him, I’d have tried to insert a forty-four day get-out clause, just for the giggles.
The Leeds board have got incredibly lucky with Warnock. They might claim it as a coup, an ‘arguably important appointment’ by an ‘evolutionary’ board, but if Bates, Harvey and Lorimer ran any football club other than Leeds United I don’t think they’d have got anywhere near Neil Warnock. They certainly wouldn’t have got him on a contract which, if it runs its full eighteen months, ought to still leave them with change from the sale of Howson. Warnock is here because he wants to manage Leeds United, and the people running the place are just obstacles he can either work with, work around, or blame for his early departure. Unlike Simon Grayson, Neil Warnock’s reputation in football is already written, and nothing Bates or Lorimer can say can touch him. If things go wrong over the next fourteen games, Warnock can walk away without a bruise. Leeds United will still be stuck in Division Two, resembling not so much a football club as a Faustian pact.
Lorimer has described this situation as, “a real sign of our intent and ambition,” and he’s right. After seven years, administration, and three years in Division Three our league position has improved by one place, we’ve lucked into a happy-go-lucky manager on a farewell tour, the only players we can sign are emergency loans, and it’s all likely to be over in three months, leaving us exactly where we are now.
“It’s a real sign of our intent and ambition.”>