Leeds United owner ready to talk to coach candidates

Massimo Cellino
Massimo Cellino

After sorting out the departure of manager Brian McDermott and holding talks with all the players Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino has the appointment of a coach as his next priority.

A number of names have been thrown around in the last few days, but Cellino is giving nothing away on his preference apart from to say that he would be talking to 10 candidates before deciding and wanted someone in position as soon as possible.

Many believe he will turn to an Italian with Gianluca Festa the obvious favourite after his presence on the training ground back in January when Cellino’s deal to buy 75 per cent of the club was first going through.

Bigger names Gianfranco Zola, Roberto Di Matteo and Paolo Di Canio have also been linked with the coach’s job at Elland Road, but they may prove too expensive and Zola and Di Canio’s representatives have denied that there has been any approach from Leeds.

Benito Carbone is another possible candidate as he is already at the club, but it is thought a coach’s role with the youth team was more likely for him.

Surprise early favourite was former Watford coach and Forest Green manager Dave Hockaday, but the thought of him being given the chance to follow McDermott into the hot seat has met with little enthusiasm among Whites fans.

Current first team coach Nigel Gibbs is another in with a shout while former United stars Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Gary McAllister and Bobby Davison appear to be interested and would be more popular choices.

But Blackburn boss Gary Bowyer has ruled himself out of the running after being linked.

Whoever takes over may face a big decision straight away with the future of last season’s top scorer, Ross McCormack, on the agenda.

More clubs are being linked with a big money move for the Scottish international with Newcastle the latest thought to be preparing a bid.

The price is now said to be going up to a possible £6 million, which would be hard for Leeds to turn down. But they would then face the problem of who would replace the player and more importantly where all the goals scored by McCormack would come from next season.

Cellino, meanwhile, met all the players after calling them in on Monday to speak to them individually about his plans and explain why wages had not been paid this month because of a winding up order being challenged.

Several players had to cancel or cut short holidays to be at the meeting, but the owner was pleased with their attitude.

Cellino said: “I met all the players and they showed me that they wanted to stay at the club.

“They work for the club, not Massimo Cellino. They showed me respect and a have a fantastic professionalism towards the club.

“We have a better team than we first thought. All the players are hungry to be involved in this new project at Leeds United.”