The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Steven Chicken

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.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

THREE AND EASY: Jay Spear­ing scores Black­burn’s third goal with ten min­utes left

IN CON­TROL: Jor­dan Rhodes cel­e­brates Rovers’ sec­ond

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