I'm not sure if Neil Warnock is a big history buff, but if he was he would certainly be interested by the work of people who are known as revisionist historians. These people either use new found evidence or question what has previously been taken as a given to re-interpret history, putting their own spin on what we perceive to have been the truth to illuminate the subject in a new light. Over the last few weeks, with his reign at Elland Road drawing to a close, the Leeds United manager has been putting his own version of events at the club over the last 12 months, and they certainly bare little resemblance to what I believe has happened.
First of all let's take a little look at what has happened in the year and a bit since his arrival at the club.
Simon Grayson was sacked at the end of January 2012, having been given no cash to spend in the transfer window and having seen his skipper, Jonny Howson, sold out from under him as the window drew to a close. Leeds sat three points outside the playoffs. However one of the reason's given by Shaun Harvey when the club decided to "dispense" with Grayson's services was that:
"We felt with the transfer window closed we needed to make the change at this time in the belief that a new managerial team will be able to get more out of the existing squad of players and make the difference."
As we know this was not the case. Neil Warnock was appointed on 17th February, following the clubs attempts to do it on the cheap with Neil Redfern. Leeds United sat in 11th place in the Championship table. We had 45 points from 31 games and sat six points outside the play-off places (having fallen 3 points further behind the pack in the 4 games since Simon Grayson was sacked the month before).
At the end of the season he had procured just 16 points from the last 15 games, winning four (and I'm being massively generous in giving him the Doncaster game when he took over at half-time from Redfern), drawing four and losing seven. Leeds ended the season in 14th place, 14 points off the play-offs and at our lowest ebb since relegation to League One.
A summer of TOMA madness followed, but despite the long drawn out nature of the takeover, Warnock was still able to recruit heavily, bringing in half of Portsmouth's squad plus Paddy Kenny, Paul Green and Lee Peltier. Actual cash was spent, although this was balanced by the sale of Robert Snodgrass, the latest of our crown jewels to be pawned off to Norwich City.
As the season dawned, Neil Warnock was far from unhappy with his summers work. Prior to the Wolves match he told the clubs website:
"We're where we are. We haven't got any excuses and we should all be optimistic. We've got some good players, good staff and we will give everything we've got."
However results have far from improved. Exactly twelve months on from his appointment, Leeds had almost stood still, with the momentum if anything going backwards. From 31 games, Leeds had three points less than the previous season, and sat eight points off the play-offs. That night he was booed off the Riverside pitch by the travelling Leeds fans, less than enamored by his constant changing of the starting line up, coupled with a crippling inability to change a game by making a substitution contributing to a disappointing 1-0 defeat in a game he claimed he was going all out for a victory.
Relations reached rock bottom at Manchester City, where another pitifully negative display brought calls for his head. It was the nadir for Leeds fans, knowing that we were going nowhere once again, we decided to laugh at ourselves, and a turning point was reached.
Now on the back of a five match unbeaten run, Warnock has suddenly started appearing in the media spouting what an incredible job he has done. He is telling the world that no one could have done the job he has done and that he has provided the club with an incredible squad . On Sky Sports Goals on Sunday at the weekend he said that if this team doesn't get promoted this year, they definitely will next season, but he won't be there to see it, as he can't do another season in the Championship at his age.
Therein lies the fundamental problem of Mr Warnock's reign as Leeds United manager. It has been a totally short term ego trip for his own legacy, with scant regard given to the future of the club. He never talks about promotion for Leeds United, but as promotion for "him", a chance for "him" to get the record.
Warnock claims that he has rebuit the squad, but he has done it with no foresight for the future of the club. We now have a squad full of thirtysomething journeymen, who will have little left to offer the club beyond next season. Looking at the players Warnock has brought in and you can not honestly see any of them being able to play at this level in a couple of years time, never mind at a higher level. Barring Sam Byram and Tom Lees, both of who were here before Warnock arrived, and one of whom he literally fell upon by chance in pre-season, there are no "youngsters" with a long term future at Leeds. He also made the decision to get rid of a striker who, despite the limitations of his game, had scored 20 goals. Despite Warnock claiming that Steve Morison will become a legend at Elland Road, the man he replaced was a bona fide great of the clubs recent history.
Whoever replaces Warnock will have an even bigger task in front of them than the "fantastic" job he has done. The squad will need dismantling again to be rebuilt for the long term.
Neil though won't care about that. By then he will be happy in his house in Cornwall, commuting two days a week to the director of football job he is touting himself around for at the moment, or spouting his nonsense to the media, an institutuion which appear to have given him a far easier ride than he has deserved at Leeds United.
Unlike Neil Warnock, I like my history to be based on fact and will look back on his reign as manager by looking at the evidence and evaluating his success on that evidence. I won't be won over by his winning smile and easy banter. He has ten games to achieve what he set out to do, anything but a place in the play-offs and he has been a failure. No amount of revisionist history can refute that.