Leeds performed an astonishing U-turn today by announcing that Brian McDermott had not been sacked and remained their first-team manager.
McDermott was on Friday told by a lawyer working on the instruction of Leeds’ prospective owner Massimo Cellino that he had been dismissed following a series of bizarre off-the-field incidents.
The 52-year-old was consequently absent from Saturday’s 5-1 win over Huddersfield which was watched by Gianluca Festa, the man it appeared Cellino had lined up to replace McDermott.
But to add more confusion it emerged McDermott had been invited to the game and declined, before the League Managers Association said on Saturday afternoon that McDermott had been sacked by someone who had no authority to do so. Leeds duly responded by saying the ex-Reading man remained in charge.
“The club would like to make it clear that Brian McDermott remains our first team manager,” a statement, issued after the West Yorkshire derby match, read.
“He has not been dismissed from his post as has been suggested and we look forward to him continuing in his role with us in taking Leeds United forwards.”
The statement caught everyone by surprise but should not have done after a farcical 24 hours at Elland Road.
Earlier, the LMA said it was waiting for clarification, with the 75 per cent takeover of Cagliari owner Cellino still subject to Football League approval.
An LMA statement said: “Brian received a call last night from a solicitor informing him that Leeds United were terminating his contract as manager.
“This morning Brian received a further phone call from a director of the football club stating the company on whose behalf the solicitor had contacted Brian are not the owners of Leeds United.
“In the circumstances, Brian was asked by the directors of the club not to take the match today and we are awaiting clarification of the situation over the weekend.”
Nigel Gibbs, McDermott’s long-standing number two, answered the call to lead the team against Huddersfield in his place before facing the media afterwards.
“It’s a difficult period for us all and I’m sorry that it’s not Brian standing here as this is his team,” Gibbs said.
“I just spoke to Brian, he’s delighted with the result and the players. I’m aware of the statement but I haven’t had a chance to read it.”