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Monday, 4 March, 2002, 10:26 GMT
Who's Kidding who?
Kidd (left) has taken the blame for O'Leary's troubles
BBC Sport Online chief football writer Phil McNulty looks at Brian Kidd's fall from grace as he is verbally abused by Leeds United's fans and blamed for their downfall.

Brian Kidd is fast becoming football's most mysterious fall guy - a man who is no stranger to hearing personal abuse from unlikely quarters.

Head coach Kidd is emerging as the unwitting scapegoat for the problems that are currently engulfing Leeds United.

Leeds fans - studiously by-passing the miserable efforts of highly-paid players living on vast wage packets and past reputations - have turned on a coach regarded as one of Europe's finest.

Kidd was subjected to a barrage of abuse from Leeds fans during the goalless draw at Everton, and phone-ins have been flooded with supporters blaming him for a season of failure and demanding his removal.

Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale was even moved to approach his own fans at Goodison Park after he was shocked by the level of criticism aimed in Kidd's direction.

It will have come as a cruel cut to Kidd, a private and dignified man, who prefers to work without the limelight and who is regarded as sensitive to criticism.


Frrguson criticised his old friend Kidd in book
And it caps a turbulent spell in the career of Kidd, who appeared to have it all when he was assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson at his beloved Manchester United.

Kidd was at Ferguson's side at the height of the Old Trafford glory years, even turning down the Everton manager's job before flying solo at Blackburn Rovers.

Rovers were relegated under Kidd and he was eventually sacked, but even this agony was rivalled by a stunning personal attack from his former friend Ferguson in his autobiography "Managing My Life".

Ferguson wrote, in an attack that stunned both friends and rivals: "I saw Brian Kidd as a complex person, often quite insecure, particularly about his health.

"He also worried about how good he was at coaching, and concerns over whether I still wanted him as my assistant."

Ferguson also criticised Kidd after claims he wanted to sign John Hartson instead of Dwight Yorke.

Kidd was bitterly upset at the public betrayal from a man he had afforded total respect and who had shared glorious times.

But his reputation remained in tact, and after working with the England squad he was appointed to a youth development role at Leeds.

He was swiftly promoted to head coach, an appointment seen as a demotion for former Leeds legend Eddie Gray by some supporters.

The strength of feeling for Gray, coupled with Kidd's strong bond with bitter rivals Manchester United, has seen him cast unfairly as part-scapegoat and part-villain.

He has also been a victim of timing, with Leeds being engulfed in a series of off-the-field problems which can hardly be laid at Kidd's door.


O'Leary has shown Kidd unswerving loyalty
Leeds fans claim the side has taken on a more defensive outlook under Kidd, and while the recent run of poor form and lack of goals backs their claims, his previous record hardly points him out as a man who favours defensive football.

Kidd is renowned within football as one of the game's nice guys, and he will have been buoyed by a show of loyalty from O'Leary that was sadly missing with Ferguson.

O'Leary commendably insisted Kidd will be at Elland Road as long as he is there - but the realists know that once a passionate support picks its victim, it can be impossible to change their opinion.


I saw Brian Kidd as a complex person, often quite insecure, particularly about his health
Sir Alex Ferguson
Football fans, when backed into a corner by bad results, lash out and Kidd is their chosen target.

Gray will also undoubtedly feel awkward about being used as the stick to beat the unfortunate Kidd.

What about the under-achievers in the Leeds squad?

What about the indiscipline of gifted players such as Danny Mills, Alan Smith and Lee Bowyer?

What about the lack-lustre efforts of Australian duo Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka?


Leeds fans show support for Eddie Gray
Surely blaming Brian Kidd is the equivalent of blaming the monkey rather than the organ grinder.

Leeds United may have many problems, but the idea that Kidd is the root cause is a case of almost terminal naivety.

Kidd will, at least, be comfortable with the loyalty of his manager - and that is not something he has always been used to.

But time will tell whether O'Leary's commendable loyalty is matched by Kidd's determination to ride out the abuse.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Leeds manager David O'Leary
"Brian Kidd will be at this club for as long as I am here"
Leeds supporters chief Ray Fell
"The fact is the fans are looking for a scapegoat"
Links to more Leeds United stories are at the foot of the page.

 

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