Exclusive interview part 2: Massimo Cellino on club finances and superstition
Two wrongs don't make a right, they say. But they do for a superstitious Massimo Cellino.
The new Leeds owner has been speaking exclusively to ITV Calendar about all things United. The Italian businessman said that the club currently "has no manager," and compared the club to an aeroplane struggling to get of the runway as it is carrying too much weight.
The Cagliari owner has also been talking about how he hates the colour purple and number seventeen. He says that in more than twenty years at the Serie A club, his side has never won or drawn a game on the seventeenth of a month. Except once - when he asked all the club's supporters to wear purple to the game played on the unlucky day:
The Whites owner is a Catholic, and associates the colour purple with the robes worn by priests in the weeks preceding the Church's remembrance of the crucifixion.
As for the number seventeen, he has requested that current boss Brian McDermott removes it from the squad lists from next season. Micheal Brown, who wears the seventeen shirt, is out of contract this summer but Cellino says if he is to stay he will have to change number. He jokingly suggests changing seat numbers around Elland Road from 17 to 16B, but leaving those in the away end as they are. But he was joking.
Squad numbers are not the only things set to be cut this summer as it has been reported that the club's financial position remains perilous. The Italian closed the Thorpe Arch training facility to ease running costs while recent figures show a £9.5 million loss for the year 2012-13.
There are a number of people at the club who Cellino sees as not fulfilling a purpose. He says the club must "face the reality" and "stop leaking" money if it is to avoid another financial collapse.
The Cagliari owner describes his first weeks in charge as "unbelieveable, impossible," with daily running costs of more than £100,000. His criticism of the current set up at the club again took the form of metaphor:
For Cellino, the collective unity of Leeds seems paramount. He describes himself as the captain of the plane, but the key factor is that that plane has passengers and people relying on it. The Italian distances himself from suggestions that he alone can save the club, rather that with his help,** the club can save itself**.
When asked when he would buy the stadium his attitude was no different, but he did promise to renovate parts of Elland Road:
For all his eccentricities Cellino says he is proud to be "a guest of the British people". He claims that the club cannot survive without buying back facilities including Elland Road and the Thorpe Arch training ground . He would rather buy them back knowing the purchase would tighten the purse strings in other areas than have the club be a visitor in the stadium. It is an attitude that, according to Cellino, the Leeds faithful should be comfortable with:
The Italian has been making himself at home in the county, showing off his musical ability at the club's end of season awards ceremony and bringing his son Edoardo to work with him. He says he works most days from 9am to 9pm and returns home to cook pasta with his son but knows just two or three people in the city.
He describes settling in at the club with little reservation saying "If they want to throw me out, like a virus, they have to try harder. Maybe I'm a good virus for this club."
As far as Massimo Cellino is concerned, Leeds United is his club, his team, his plane and he is the captain for better or worse - but that doesn't stop him getting scolded for smoking out the office windows.