The Football League Paper - - INSIDE -

THE laugh­able, mis­spelled let­ter that sealed the fate of Leeds as­sis­tant Steve Thomp­son was signed by direc­tor Ni­cola Salerno.

But we all know who was re­ally be­hind the de­ci­sion to sus­pend Neil Red­fearn’s great­est friend and ally at El­land Road.

Yes, Mas­simo Cellino may be suspended from run­ning the club but his tawdry paw prints were all over this lat­est farce.

The let­ter crit­i­cised the way Thomp­son had been “do­ing his du­ties”. This is com­plete non­sense.

This is a guy who, since ar­riv­ing from Hud­der­s­field in De­cem­ber, has not only won huge pop­u­lar­ity with play­ers but been the driv­ing force be­hind an up­surge in form that kept Leeds out of a rel­e­ga­tion battle. His per­for­mance has been ex­em­plary.

Which leaves just two pos­si­ble rea­sons for the pa­thetic episode. One is that Cellino is try­ing to clear the decks be­fore sell­ing the club.

Sacking Red­fearn would be ex­pen­sive; far bet­ter from a busi­ness point of view to can the cheaper as­sis­tant, thus prompt­ing the head coach to walk of his own vo­li­tion.

In­deed, a pen­sive and down­beat Red­fearn ad­mit­ted he was ‘con­sid­er­ing his po­si­tion’ ahead of yes­ter­day’s game against Black­burn.

The sec­ond rea­son is more trou­bling: petty vengeance. Ear­lier this week, Leeds chair­man An­drew Um­bers – pre­sum­ably at the be­hest of Cellino – or­dered Red­fearn not to play top scorer Mirco An­tenucci as two more goals for the 30-yearold Ital­ian would trig­ger an au­to­matic con­tract ex­ten­sion.

He also warned Red­fearn not to re­veal the real rea­son. Aware of his duty to sup­port­ers and an in­trin­si­cally hon­est per­son, the life­long Leeds fan re­fused to lie. The story duly broke.

Is it sim­ply co­in­ci­dence that his close friend was suspended two days later? This, too, ap­pears cal­cu­lated to force Red­fearn’s res­ig­na­tion.

No one would blame him for walk­ing.

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