It has been widely reported over the last few weeks that 63-year-old Massimo Cellino, current owner of Brescia, plans to sell up and head back to England. That news would have sent a shiver down the spine of fans in the Championship whose clubs were up for sale given how Cellino’s last outing in England went. Well, it has now emerged that Reading and Birmingham City are in the Italian’s sights and there will be considerable worry amongst those respective fanbases as to what the future might hold. But should there be and has Cellino’s time away from England seem him reform?
Let’s go back to the beginning and have a look at Cellino’s spell at Leeds.
To say that Cellino is seen as a controversial businessman in England would be to undersell the situation by an order of magnitude. The Italian’s three-year stay at Leeds was blighted by bans, misdemeanors, and regular falling out with the fans over his erratic management of the club. Indeed, Cellino’s appetite to constantly fire managers at Elland Road after a short run of bad results left the fans feeling alienated and frustrated.
— Terry George (@TerryGeorge) January 13, 2017
At first, many in West Yorkshire chuckled at his nickname, ‘the manager eater’ when they heard it but by the time his reign was over, those who initially found it funny now thought it may be a bit too conservative given that he would devour them at a rate never seen before in English football. Sadly, these days the English tabloids look back on Cellino’s time at Elland Road as a complete disaster from start to finish, and have labeled him “the madman who made Leeds United a laughing stock”.
That was then, however, and this is now. One should also remember that the English tabloids err on the side of sensationalism rather than the facts. The truth these days is that Cellino was in charge when Brescia were finally promoted to the Serie A in 2019. Keep in mind, Le Rondinelle had been in the wilderness of Italian football before Cellino arrived. It was actually eight years spent outside the Italian topflight and Cellino had what it took to guide the club back to the Serie A.
Granted, some might say that the Serie A dream is all but over for the Little Swallows with Brescia at 1/20 to be relegated this season in the latest football betting, but with almost a dozen games left, you never know. But even if Cellino were to keep them up, he wouldn’t hang around as he instead fancies another dip in the English game to see if he can’t get a Championship club prompted to the Premier League. The holy grail of promotions, if you will.
Former Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino is interested in buying Championship side Reading.
— Transferchanger (@TransferChanger) June 5, 2020
When you consider that the 63-year-old does actually have a very recent promotion on his CV, would it be the worst thing in the world if he took over at Birmingham or Reading? Both of these clubs have been treading water for some time without any real direction of travel. Most of their support have become disillusioned and change is badly needed.
Cellino’s gunslinging approach may not be conventional but it may be just what these clubs need to shake them out of their slumber. Promotion from the Championship is not a perfect science and doesn’t need to have been the product of many years of preparation; all it takes is one year of fireworks to hit the big time. That plan of action has Cellino written all over it.