Don Massimo has returned to find himself languishing in the pit of unpopularity with little room to manoeuvre. The final weeks of the season proved to be a fitting epitaph to a ridiculous campaign and il Capo is well aware of the bristling hostility.
In the last few days it seems our under fire owner has attempted to germinate the seeds of reconciliation. News of Lewis Cook’s contract extension and the arrival of former director Adam Pearson as Executive Director and ‘right hand man’ is cause for cautious optimism but we are still dogged by the distasteful and shameless displacement of Neil Redfearn.
Then to cap it all off came Thursday afternoon’s car crash of a press conference. Don Massimo had hoped the personal appearance would help him outline his plans for the future but it proved nothing more than a chamber of horrors. Adam Pearson looked on helplessly as our ‘idiot in chief’ rambled like demented fool with every incoherent musing interrupted by an occasional frothing at the mouth. It had the hallmarks of a mad man under pressure who seems to have learned nothing from his time in the Ridings. It was the latest episode in a sequence of shambolic events that many hope will see the beginning of the end to our Italian adventure.
Season Finale: Addicks 2 Whites 1, Owls 1 Whites 2, Whites 0 Millers 0
Without doubt the most productive fortnight of Steve Morison’s chequered Elland Road stint. Two goals in as many games came as a blessed relief but it was the striker’s off field performance that provided his most telling contribution. An honest post match interview betrayed a growing schism at the heart of Don Massimo’s Leeds and told the story of a club creaking under the weight of disunity, disloyalty and Latin lunacy.
Whether the ‘Charlton Six’ were really injured was open to debate and proved ultimately immaterial. So too was the true nature of the owner’s involvement in the treachery. Fans and commentators railed in anger at the absent half-dozen believing it to be another petulant attempt to further undermine a much valued man. Redders himself chose the diplomatic approach and was alone in doing so.
Between the toxic barbs of social media and the 3000 voices emanating from the Jimmy Seed Stand, the miscreants and their president were left in no doubt about a perceived skullduggery and Morison’s comments did little to temper this view. It felt like a watershed moment.
In the build up to our visit to Hillsborough Owls supporters must have been licking their lips at the prospect of another commemorative cup final DVD. Our club and its continental contingent had been driven on to the back foot by the full force of public outcry, an experience they would not have endured in the sleepy back streets of Italian lower league football.
A testing derby laced with hurtful reminders of last year’s drubbing didn’t promise to offer salvation but our recent woes galvanised those that remained and the victory proved to be a beautifully timed show of support for their beleaguered leader.
Don Massimo could have come to Rotherham but didn’t, choosing instead to undertake ‘scouting duties’ at a match involving Morecambe and Southend. Don Massimo is a temperamental and irrational man but an intelligent one nonetheless. The fact is that he wasn’t really wanted and what seemed another curious decision was perhaps a wise one under such antagonistic circumstances. The appearance of purple balloons complimented with murmurs of ‘time to go’ were suggestion enough but the overwhelming support for a man so disgracefully undermined would have left him in no doubt about our loyalties. He’s Neil Redfearn and he is ‘one of our own’.
The final game was frustrating and forgettable but that wasn’t the point. It was a case of celebrating a club temporarily shorn of its destabilising Italian influence. Our Anglo Italian relations seem to be in terminal decline and while Cellino signings like Gaetano Berardi and Sol Bamba have grown in stature, Sylvestri, Bellusci, Antenucci and the President himself have been weighed in the balance and found wanting.