benito carbone’s inelegent arrival at leeds unitedBack
A statement on the Leeds United website followed a tweet from Benito Carbone himself last night, and established the former Aston Villa and Bradford player as part of the set-up at Elland Road.
Exactly what role Carbone will have at the new-look Leeds United remains unclear, against the background of Massimo Cellino’s claims that Brian McDermott is absent without leave.
In a tweet last night, Carbone said that:
My official position at LUFC is special consultant to the board of directors for sport matters inc facilities & academy.
— BENITO CARBONE (@carbobenny10) May 14, 2014
He followed that with six photos of himself in Leeds United training gear and in a suit at the East Stand reception, although his night on Twitter was inevitably eclipsed by Edoardo Cellino’s own night taking photos with his very tired looking father and Leeds businessman Terry George.
The club’s official statement this morning described Carbone as taking up, “a consultant position and will deal with technical and football operations … [he] will be involved with all football matters, including both the first team and the Academy.”
That wide remit is difficult to reconcile with the club’s traditional management structure, as it touches on several areas currently managed by Brian McDermott. Back in February, at the press conference that restored his position at the club, McDermott said, “Basically I’m responsible for all football matters at the club. Nobody will be invited to the dug-out, the dressing room or speak with the players unless the manager okays it.”
Since then the club has changed hands and, following the end of the season, McDermott has gone south to attend the League Manager’s Association awards in London and for a break, apparently angering Cellino in the process, who complained about his absence to Calendar yesterday.
According to journalist Simon Austin, Cellino now wants all players, coaches and staff to return to Elland Road a month earlier than expected, but it isn’t clear whether he intends pre-season training to begin on that date, or whether Thorp Arch – which has been closed for the summer – will re-open to allow it.
Cellino wants all players/coaches/staff back to work at Elland Road on May 28th.Says they went away on May 3rd & contracts allow 5wks off
— Simon Austin (@sport_simon) May 15, 2014
With Brian away, the retained list is believed to have been finalised by Cellino, with help from Carbone and Neil Redfearn, suggesting that Carbone is going to have considerable influence in first team affairs, although Cellino said after the Derby game that Carbone is not ready to be a manager yet. “He knows about soccer but he is not a manager for me that is ready to manage a club in the Championship. He’s still too close to a soccer player to be a coach. He’s not ready yet.”
Cellino has also said previously that Carbone would be working without pay at Leeds, who are struggling financially and are currently unable to pay the wages of casual staff; the club’s bank account has been frozen due to a winding-up petition from Sport Capital, over a debt of £950,000, that Cellino intends to contest in court in early June.
United’s staff were informed about a formal redundancy scheme last night, and the club’s training ground and academy were closed for the summer break in what is believed to be an effort to cut costs. That decision has drawn the attention of the Football League, who will meet the club next week to ask whether the closure will impact on the Academy’s Category Two status, which is supported in part by almost £500,000 the club were paid to invest through the Elite Player Performance Plan scheme.
Against the cutbacks at United, part-owners GFH announced a first quarter profit of US $1.1m, describing the year so far as “another period of profitability and stable results for the Bank.”
That stability is not reflected at Leeds, where uncertainty continues to rule. The announcement of Carbone’s role has not answered the question of his function, and the relationship between Cellino and McDermott is deteriorating into a stand-off, with contact being made by letter and by ITV interview.
Despite Cellino’s denials, Benito Carbone appears to have all the responsibilty, status and influence that previously belonged to Brian McDermott, and the official website’s photograph shows Carbone in a traditionally managerial pose overlooking the pitch from the East Stand – although, to be fair, Massimo’s daughter has also posed there recently and is not currently believed to be joining the coaching staff.
Benito also appears to be wearing a ladies’ woollen scarf in the photo, a second sartorial controversy in two days after he was pictured yesterday with all three buttons of his suit fastened. It would obviously be ridiculous to use Carbone’s manner of dress to call his judgement into question, but then Leeds United is a pretty ridiculous club at the moment.
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