Former Sturm Graz manager Darko Milanic has taken over as Leeds United coach. Erwin Scheriau / EPA
Former Sturm Graz manager Darko Milanic has taken over as Leeds United coach. Erwin Scheriau / EPA

Leeds United owner on hiring Darko Milanic: ‘He does not talk much. I like him. He is a very cool guy’

Darko Milanic has been appointed as the new head coach of fallen English giants Leeds United, the second-tier club announced Tuesday.

The 46-year-old Slovenian, who stepped down as head coach of Austria’s Sturm Graz on Sunday, has signed a two-year contract with the Yorkshire club.

He will be joined at Elland Road by Novica Nikcevic, his assistant at Graz.

Meanwhile Leeds caretaker coach Neil Redfearn reverts to his role of academy manager and head of coaching after overseeing three wins and a draw following the sacking by Leeds owner Massimo Cellino of former manager David Hockaday after just six games in charge.

Earlier on Tuesday, controversial Italian businessman Cellino – nicknamed the ‘manager-eater’ after sacking 36 coaches during his 20 years with Cagliari, told Sky Sports: “I don’t know (why I’ve chosen Milanic). The coaches are like watermelons. You find out about them when you open them.

“His particular qualities? He’s good looking, what can I tell you?

“He was a very good counter-attacking defender with Partizan Belgrade and Sturm Graz, and a good coach with Maribor for four years and took the club to the Champions League and Europa League, and he made it good as player and coach and he likes the Premier League.

“He gave up his place in the Premier League in Austria to come to the Championship with Leeds, and we hope that the club in Leeds is a good chance for him to have a good team and an important club to run, so he can make us proud.

“He does not talk much and is very pragmatic. I like him. He is a very cool guy.”

Sturm Graz announced on Sunday that Milanic had left his post after activating a buy-out clause in his contract. He took charge of his final game for the Austrian club on Saturday.

Milanic captained Slovenia at Euro 2000 and after turning to management guided Maribor to four Slovenian league titles and three Slovenian Cup wins.

He joined Sturm Graz as head coach on a three-year contract in June 2013, steering the club to a fifth-placed finish in 2013-14.

It is understood that among the candidates he saw off to become Leeds manager was former West Bromwich Albion boss Steve Clarke.

Leeds were one of England’s superpowers, winning the domestic title in 1969 and 1974 and reaching the European Cup final in 1975.

They were also the last English champions of the pre-Premier League era in 1992.

And only 13 years ago, Leeds were regarded as one of emerging forces in Europe after a memorable run to the Champions League semi-finals fuelled by bright young talents Harry Kewell, Alan Smith and Paul Robinson.

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School counsellors on mental well-being

Schools counsellors in Abu Dhabi have put a number of provisions in place to help support pupils returning to the classroom next week.

Many children will resume in-person lessons for the first time in 10 months and parents previously raised concerns about the long-term effects of distance learning.

Schools leaders and counsellors said extra support will be offered to anyone that needs it. Additionally, heads of years will be on hand to offer advice or coping mechanisms to ease any concerns.

“Anxiety this time round has really spiralled, more so than from the first lockdown at the beginning of the pandemic,” said Priya Mitchell, counsellor at The British School Al Khubairat in Abu Dhabi.

“Some have got used to being at home don’t want to go back, while others are desperate to get back.

“We have seen an increase in depressive symptoms, especially with older pupils, and self-harm is starting younger.

“It is worrying and has taught us how important it is that we prioritise mental well-being.”

Ms Mitchell said she was liaising more with heads of year so they can support and offer advice to pupils if the demand is there.

The school will also carry out mental well-being checks so they can pick up on any behavioural patterns and put interventions in place to help pupils.

At Raha International School, the well-being team has provided parents with assessment surveys to see how they can support students at home to transition back to school.

“They have created a Well-being Resource Bank that parents have access to on information on various domains of mental health for students and families,” a team member said.

“Our pastoral team have been working with students to help ease the transition and reduce anxiety that [pupils] may experience after some have been nearly a year off campus.

"Special secondary tutorial classes have also focused on preparing students for their return; going over new guidelines, expectations and daily schedules.”


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