THE BLOG

Just Who Is Massimo Cellino?

22/04/2014 11:23 BST | Updated 18/06/2014 10:59 BST

We all have fears. For some it's spiders, for others it's heights, but for the new owner of Leeds United Massimo Cellino it's the number 17.

His fear runs deep. Removing the number from the squad list of Italian club Cagliari, he has also attempted to move fixtures that fall on the 17th. His fear is grounded in Italian culture. The number 17 is associated with bad luck in the same way the number 13 is in the United Kingdom.

To an Italian, Cellino is superstitious, if not a touch foolish. In an interview with Ball Street's 4-5-1 show, Dov Schiavone, Editor of Forza Italian Football preferred to define Cellino -- a man who has sacked 36 coaches in 22 years -- as 'eccentric'.

"If you want to look at the man in general you could describe him as a chain smoking, superstitious, wannabe rock star," Schiavone explained before adding."He'll make it entertaining."

Casting a mysterious shadow since arriving in England, Cellino was made to be patient in his pursuit of Leeds. The Football League initially rejected his attempt to buy the club due to a recent conviction in Italy for failing to pay import duty on a yacht. Appealing the decision, he was finally confirmed as the club's owner earlier this month.

His influence seems instantaneous. The Cagliari owner told Corriere della Sera newspaper: "Luke Murphy is talented, he scored a brace against Blackpool. I advised McDermott to play him in that position and in the end the manager thanked me."

Yet his motives remain questioned. Perhaps he views the Yorkshire club as an asset or a pet project. No different to a run down home that with the right renovations could increase exponentially in value.

However Schiavone feels his intentions are more pure than that: "What he wants to do is do what's right for the club which I would say is what he's done at Cagliari," he said.

Of course Leeds are not the first Championship club to gain owners that already have other clubs. Watford are now run by the Pozzo family, seeing players from Udinese and Granada arrive at Vicarage Road. And more recently Charlton have been taken over by Roland Duchâtelet, owner of Standard Liege.

With fans eager to see stability after surviving the reign of Ken Bates, there also remains question marks over the future of Brian McDermott. The former Reading boss has been diplomacy personified since Cellino first took an interest in Leeds, even hailing Cellino's arrival. Yet speculation over his future remains rife after he was sacked ahead of the proposed takeover, only to be quickly reinstated.

And with all the talk of unlucky numbers, there is a less than pleasant anniversary creeping up on the Elland Road club.

It has been 10 years since Leeds competed in the Premier League. Desperate to return to a league they had become so accustom too, the hope remains that Cellino can orchestrate a return to the top flight, and with it restore Leeds United back to the place they feel they belong.