I KNOW HOW THEY FEEL
Blackburn’s Matt Kilgallon has every sympathy with the current Leeds squad
MATT KILGALLON knows a thing or two about meltdowns at Leeds and the Blackburn defender has sympathised with the fans following the take-over saga involving Massimo Cellino.
The Football League initially blocked Cagliari owner Cellino from buying a majority stake in Leeds, believed to be worth £25m, at the end of March following his recent conviction in a Sardinia court for tax evasion.
The Italian businessman yesterday won his appeal but United’s players have been forced to defer part of their wages for March as crisis again engulfs Elland Road.
This follows the drama on transfer deadline day in January when boss Brian McDermott appeared to be sacked – only to return days later.
Former Reading boss McDermott, who replaced Neil Warnock only last April, described the situation as a “joke” on and off the pitch after Tuesday’s 1-0 home defeat to struggling Charlton.
And Kilgallon, who was sold to raise funds just months before the three-times English champions were relegated to League One in 2007, feels sorry for the fans.
“It’s really sad to see the situation at Leeds, everything seems to go wrong for them and the fans,” said Kilgallon. “I’ve come into Blackburn and everyone asks me about Leeds.
“A lot of people have a soft spot for the club.
“I’ve heard the players haven’t been paid, which is a shame really because they have unbelievable fans there, but they can’t seem to get it right at the moment.”
Kilgallon is now a relative veteran at 30 but he casts his mind back to his early years at Elland Road when the club were almost brought to their knees by financial uncertainty.
“I was at Leeds when it all went downhill last time but because I was young I didn’t really understand,” he added.
“I was only 17 so I was just happy to be training with the first team.
“Then all of a sudden all of the top players left, we got relegated and before I knew it I was starting games in the Championship.
“It was a hard first season, but in the second year we ended up in the play-offs. We lost in the final and from then on it wasn’t too good, so it’s a shame, but hopefully there are brighter times around the corner.”
Kilgallon signed for Rovers in the summer on a free transfer from Sunderland, but found his opportunities limited in the early season as he backed up Scott Dann and Grant Hanley.
But Dann’s departure to Crystal Palace has elevated the former England U21 international to a starting role.
And the defender says that he was confident that he could fill the former Birmingham man’s shoes.
“I’ve got my chance to play now and I’m loving playing again,” he said
“Scott’s departure was a big loss for the club but they knew they had me there to go straight in for him.
“I think when you lose your best player and you’ve got no back-up, that’s when it’s an issue, but I was ready to step in if Scott went and that’s what happened.
“I was prepared to wait for my chance.The boss (Gary Bowyer) told me when I signed for Blackburn that he was going to start with Scott and Grant because they did so well last season and kept us up.
“I understood where he was coming from so I was patient, kept myself fit and trained hard because I knew I could be called upon whenever.
“I’ve also enjoyed working with the young defenders like Grant and Michael Keane – it’s a bit of a different role for me.
“I’ve always been the young centre-half at other clubs I’ve played for, but now I’m really enjoyed being one of the more vocal people in the team.”
NEW CHANCE: Matt Kilgallon celebrates a goal for Blackburn. Inset: Playing for Leeds