REDFEARN: FANS ARE MY PRIORITY
NEIL Redfearn expressed his appreciation for the support of Leeds fans despite his own future as head coach remaining in doubt.
Redfearn was dismayed at the suspension of assistant Steve Thompson on Thursday, a decision made by director of football Nicola Salerno without Redfearn’s prior knowledge.
The Leeds fans sang ‘there’s only one Neil Redfearn’ in support of their chief before kick-off, to his obvious pleasure.
But United were reduced to ten men on 39 minutes after Rudy Austin saw red for an off-the-ball tussle with Blackburn winger Ben Marshall, spotted by the linesman.
Blackburn took full advantage of the extra man, running in three goals to end Leeds’ five-match unbeaten run.
And Redfearn admits his future is no clearer than three days ago.
“It has to make you think about your own future, because we’ve done well as a pair and shown the way we want to do things,” he said.
“That gives you enthusiasm to go on and want to do more. If you split anything up that’s successful it’s going to be disappointing.
“But the most important thing for me was to concentrate on this game, particularly for the players that have done well for the pair of us and particularly for the supporters that turn up every week.
“The fans were brilliant. They’ve been absolutely outstanding all season for us. They’ve followed us up and down the country.
“To be fair to them, they can see what we’re trying to do.
“We’ve had a really good run since the new year and got ourselves safe.
“All I can do is do what I’m told, and until I’m told different then I’ll just get on with my job.
“The result is poor but it’s the first time we’ve lost our way in a long time.”
With the red card coming six minutes before half-time, Leeds had the interval to organise themselves, but they failed to make things difficult for Blackburn even considering their numerical disadvantage.
Rudy Gestede exploited that as Rovers went ahead, running onto Lee Williamson’s lofted through ball and beating Giuseppe Bellusci before a poor United clearance gave Tom Cairney his chance to score.
Clearly 4-4-1 was not working for Leeds and Redfearn changed to a more expansive 3-4-2, but it only made things worse.
Centre-back Liam Cooper was introduced to facilitate the switch, and he and Charlie Taylor failed to cut out Cairney and substitute Chris Brown’s interplay down the right, allowing Brown to cross for Jordan Rhodes to score.
It was a similar tale as Blackburn added a third, with Marshall squaring from the right for Jay Spearing to poke in.
The scoreline could have been more humiliating for United had Marshall and Rhodes not both hit the post as part of the onslaught.
It’s an impressive result for Blackburn ahead of their big FA Cup quarter-final replay against Liverpool on Wednesday.
Rovers boss Gary Bowyer said: “We were excellent. We were very disciplined and organised.
“With what had gone on, off the pitch, in the lead up to this game at Leeds, we handled it very well.
“We’ve seen it many a time when the ten men really rally, and we knew that the crowd would get behind Leeds.
“I thought Leeds supporters were terrific in their support for Neil Redfearn, but I thought we played really well against ten.
“We scored some really good goals and could have had a couple more. We were ruthless when we had to be, which was pleasing.
“We’re really looking forward to the challenge ahead on Wednesday against Liverpool. We know it’s going to take a massive effort.”
THREE AND EASY: Jay Spearing scores Blackburn’s third goal with ten minutes left
IN CONTROL: Jordan Rhodes celebrates Rovers’ second