IT has been a turbulent few months for Leeds United under new owner Massimo Cellino, and Accrington Stanley boss James Beattie hopes the Yorkshire club will again be hitting the headlines for the wrong reasons tonight.
Beattie admits Stanley, beaten at home by Southend on the opening day of the League Two season on Saturday, will be ‘double underdogs’ when they face the Championship club at Elland Road in the first round of the League Cup tonight.
But the Reds won 2-1 at Middlesbrough at the same stage last season and travel to take on a Leeds side who have made an inauspicious start to the new campaign.
A 2-0 loss at Millwall followed a strange summer sparked by businessman Cellino completing his takeover of the club, having initially seen his bid disqualified by the Football League after being found guilty of failing to pay import tax on a yacht in his native Italy.
Dave Hockaday, whose only previous managerial role was an unimpressive spell with Forest Green Rovers, was surprisingly appointed as head coach and a number of staff were laid off.
Beattie’s former Sheffield United team-mate Paddy Kenny was then told he would not be considered for selection, amid bizarre reports that chairman Cellino considered the goalkeeper’s May 17 date of birth unlucky.
Cellino once removed all the number 17 seats at the stadium of his former club Cagliari because of his aversion to the figure.
“There’s loads going on there, I know somebody who is dealing with the chairman on a daily basis and they say he’s all right, but then you hear so many stories that maybe contradict that,” Beattie said.
“Paddy has been frozen out, I don’t know what the story is but I think he has been marginalised somewhat.
“I’m sure Leeds have got enough on their plate at the moment but now they face us and that’s the next thing on their list to deal with.”
Beattie though believes the Leeds players will to a large extent be shielded from events off the pitch at Elland Road.
“Lads are paid to play football so you don’t really tend to focus on anything other than trying to get better on the pitch,” he said.
“There’s no way you can affect what happens at boardroom level.
“There’s obviously stuff I have to deal with as manager here that I don’t ever want the lads to have to deal with.
“I keep that as far away from them as I can and allow them to concentrate on their football, which is paramount to what will happen to the football club.
“What happens at Leeds is up to them, we’re only focused on what we do.”
Beattie cited the phrase ‘passion overcomes logic’ last season to help inspire Stanley to their shock win over Middlesbrough.
“I might use that again or trawl the internet for a new phrase!” he said.
“We won at Middlesbrough last year so we’ve been there before, haven’t we?
“We were disappointed not to win the opening game of the season but what an opportunity this is to go to Elland Road, a magnificent stadium. The lads can play their football and try to put a wrong right.
“We’ll go there not with the intention to make the numbers up, but to progress in the cup.”
Stanley, who lost 2-0 at Leeds in a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tie five years ago, signed left back Jordan Mustoe on an initial short-term contract yesterday following the 23-year-old’s exit from Wigan Athletic. Mustoe impressed during pre-season for Stanley.
Beattie had previously brought in striker James Alabi on loan from Stoke on Saturday, with the 19-year-old arriving at the stadium for the first time only 20 minutes before kick-off in the opening day defeat to Southend, after being stuck in heavy traffic following an accident on the M6.