Thursday, 4 September 2014

Championship Chat: say Cellino at fault

Massimo Cellino: Decision to appoint David Hockaday could cost Leeds
James Dixon blasts Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino and the Watford players - and reviews the Championship deals in the transfer window.
The Sky Bet Championship is often overlooked for the glamour and glitz of the Premier League, but there's much to be celebrated in the second tier as we find out in this weekly Thursday column.
The race for promotion, and the bid to stay in the second tier, is likely to be as competitive as ever, as we examine all the key talking points from the weekend, and also take a look at what's to come in the matches ahead.
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To see all the latest Championship goals, click here.
Manager merry-go-round in full speed

The signs of strain have already begun to emerge in the Championship, and last week the pressure came to a head.
With the closing transfer window in the background, some Championship bosses were being given a strong vote of confidence by the owners, while others were on the way out.
The league's ruthless nature re-emerged yet again as more managerial victims were claimed, for different reasons, as both Leeds and Watford were forced to begin the search for new men at the helm.
After a torturous 70 days in charge, Leeds owner Massimo Cellino finally put an end to what he must have thought would have been a low-risk and cheap experiment, with the sacking of head coach Dave Hockaday.
As Joe Urquhart wrote in last week's Championship Chat, the news comes as anything but a shock. The former Forest Green boss had become a dead man walking even before the humiliation of a 2-1 defeat to West Yorkshire rivals Bradford City in the League Cup.
Disregarding Hockaday's record and the performance of his team, I completely agree with Joe's argument last week that he simply wasn't fit for the task at Leeds, and would argue the blame lies solely at Cellino's door.
When a new owner takes over a club it is imperative that they get things right first time. Clearly Cellino has experience of running a club having been in charge of Serie A team Cagliari - running it in harmonious fashion is another matter entirely. He should have realised that ensuring the club has the right man to lead it is of the utmost importance.
As a Blackburn Rovers fan myself I've witnessed first-hand bungling new owners installing a yes-man instead of looking to experience and instilling confidence in the fans. The wrong initial decision can cost you the faith of loyal supporters and you lose them forever.
What Cellino hasn't accounted for is what would remain of his, and more importantly, the club's reputation after his doomed attempts with Hockaday came to an end.
What sort of manager would want to work under such conditions?
Former West Brom boss Steve Clarke is one of the favourites to take over the Yorkshire club, but why would he consider undoing all the hard work he has done in his career in a risky return to work which will see him involved in a power struggle where he will inevitably lose out.
Leeds United has a fantastic worldwide reputation and is one of the few Championship clubs that, with the right backing, could make a strong return to the Premier League. As it stands, it's hard to see past this season's struggles.

In contrast, Beppe Sannino's departure was much more difficult to predict with the club sat second in the table, just one point behind leaders Nottingham Forest.
Like Leeds, the Hornets also have Italian owners in the the Pozzo family. Run in a typically Italian model, former technical director Gianluca Nani was in charge of transfers while the head coach is responsible for the day-to-day matters with the squad.
As Keith Andrews revealed in his Football League blog this week, the timing of his departure was unexpected but could have been due to a restriction on his power.
But considering Sannino's experience in a long line of Italian clubs it's hard to believe the trouble emanated from his relationship with the technical director - in fact, as his parting statement from the club's website would suggest, he was happy with the squad that was assembled.
"I took over a very talented squad when I arrived - but they were boys in many ways," he said.
"I'm proud of what we have achieved and I have no doubt that the squad now, who look very much like men who know exactly what they must do, are very capable of getting promotion from this tough Championship league."
Rumours of discontent among the squad have been rife, with the unrest appearing to come to a head during the recent 2-0 victory at Rotherham when Lloyd Dyer ran halfway across the pitch after scoring a goal and shouted at the Watford bench, seemingly in the direction of his head coach.
On the back of an impressive start to the season, this must be one of the most disturbing instances where player power has been the main contribution to the downfall of a manager.
Despite the appointment of Oscar Garcia, who is a relatively experienced manager at Championship level, the departures of Sannino and Nani in such a short space of a time make me feel uneasy, and on the back of this wholesale change in approach could drastically backfire on the owners.
Mixed results in transfer window

With the departure of such high-profile managers, the closing of the summer transfer window became a mere distraction in comparison.
And after the initial big waves made earlier on in the transfer window that saw the Championship transfer record smashed with Ross McCormack's £11million move to Fulham, the league's clubs have been very measured in their dealings.
The west London club have endured by far the worst window based on their results so far, and Felix Magath has failed to address the lack of experience running through the core of the side.
Fulham apart, the rest of the relegated teams have done well, considering the circumstances, with both Cardiff and Norwich reducing their wage bills while keeping the majority of the squad together and bringing in some useful additions.
After initially being critical of Wigan's transfer activity, I've been impressed with their deadline day business. The Latics have made great use of James McArthur's £7million transfer fee to bring in three decent midfielders in Adam Forshaw, William Kvist and Emyr Huws, with Uwe Rosler also bringing in a much-needed forward, Andy Delort on deadline day.
Elsewhere, Stuart Pearce identified the lack of pace in his Nottingham Forest side when he took over the reins and has used the window expertly to transform the club into an impressive attacking outfit.
Britt Assombalonga and Michail Antonio have started the season in excellent form, however the signing of the season has to go to Charlton's Igor Vetokele.
The forward's five goals have moved Bob Peeters' side into sixth, which can't be underplayed after the Addicks finished 18th last season, with the Angolan international enjoying a flying start to the campaign following his move from Copenhagen in the summer.
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