In perhaps the most inevitable sacking of all time, manager David Hockaday was fired yesterday evening after just 70 days in charge at Leeds United.
He saw only six fixtures as Elland Road boss but his credentials were questioned from the off, in no small part due a rather uninspiring win-rate of 34% at Conference side Forest Green Rovers.
Hockaday failed to gain the faith of the players, the fans or Leeds owner Massimo Cellino, who relinquished with the 56 year-old’s services after the Whites were knocked out of the Capital One Cup by local rivals Bradford City.
The Yorkshire outfit suffered four losses, picked up four red cards, conceded eleven goals and only scored four times with Hockaday at the helm.
But the past is the past and Massimo Cellino now has the task of finding the next Leeds manager as soon as possible. With that in mind, here’s a list of SIX men who could go on to succeed Hockaday at Elland Road.
Reading Academy boss Eamonn Dolan was firmly in the frame for the Elland Road gig earlier this summer before Massimo Cellino fell in love with the idea of David Hockaday.
The 46 year-old’s managerial experience at senior level is relatively limited; he stepped in briefly as Royals caretaker after Brian McDermott was sacked in 2013, and also boasts an impressive campaign with Exeter City – the club he ended his playing days with – in 2003/04, steadying the ship after coming in as caretaker the year previous to narrowly miss out on a play-off spot in the Conference league.
But the former Republic of Ireland junior has been at the heart of Reading’s academy since 2004 and in that time the Madjeski outfit have produced a number of impressive talents, including Shane Long, Alex Pearce, James Henry, Jem Karacan, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Jordan Obita, Alex McCarthy, Hal-Robson-Kanu and Ben Hamer – all of whom are now regulars at either Championship or Premiership level. Click here to view the full list of academy graduates.
Dolan’s overall track-record is impressive and perhaps most importantly to Cellino, he’s a coach – rather than a manager – who has worked under the a Director of Football before. Reading employ one, as did Exeter back in 2004.
But Reading were incredibly reluctant to see him leave earlier this summer, with Director of Football Nicky Hammond describing Dolan as “an integral part of our club“. Relinquishing the Irishman from the Madjeski would take a £400,000 compensation fee, which proved too rich for Cellino’s blood just a matter of months ago.
Neil Redfearn has taken the Leeds hotseat temporarily twice before – in fact, he’s been appointed caretaker manager for the Whites, Halifax Town and York City on a combined six occasions since 2001 – and finds himself in that familiar role once again after David Hockaday’s abrupt departure:
BREAKING: Neil Redfearn will take charge of the first team until a permanent replacement is appointed #lufc
— Leeds United FC (@LUFC) August 28, 2014
Could this be the former Barnsley, Charlton and Oldham midfielder’s time to take the Elland Road job permanently?
Prior spells as manager of Scarborough and Northwich Victoria didn’t go too well. In fact, the Vics claimed just one point from nine games with Redfearn at the helm. But he did win twice in four matches with Leeds in February 2012 between the reigns of Simon Grayson and Neil Warnock.
He’s highly thought-of within the Leeds set up too, currently combining the roles of Development squad manager and Academy manager, and also worked with the first team under Brian McDermott.
Massimo Cellino will undoubtedly be considering other options but Redfearn has the advantage of opportunities to impress, as he prepares Leeds for their home clash with Bolton tomorrow afternoon.
This article would bear no clout without the discussion of at least a few Italian managers, considering Leeds are now owned by an Italian who has added no less than seven players from the Italian leagues to the Elland Road squad this summer.
And according to the International Business Times, Rolando Maran has emerged as the favourite to replace David Hockaday.
The 51 year-old has spent most of his management career in the Italian lower tiers, with spells at Cittadella, Brescia, Bari, Triestina, Vicenza and Varese, earning himself a reputation as one of the best managers outside of the top flight.
But his defining moment came in the 2012/13 season with Catania, guiding the side to an incredible eighth-place in Serie A, breaking their record for the number of home wins in a top flight campaign.
Maran was then sacked, rehired and sacked again by Catania last season, quite ridiculously, and has been out of the job since April. The bookies feel fairly certain of his chances at Elland Road, with odds of 11/10.
The 45 year-old is by no means the most qualified candidate on this list – his only experience as a head coach thus far has come during a short-lived spell at third-tier Italian side Lumezzane.
But he knows Massimo Cellino well, having worked as assistant manager and reserve team coach at Cagliari, and was brought in by the Leeds owner to take over from Brian McDermott on the now infamous ‘Mad Friday’.
He took charge of the Whites squad for just a matter of hours before McDermott was quickly reinstated, demoted to the position of translator for loan signing Andrea Tabanelli.
The midfielder’s deal was cancelled by the Football League a week later and he, along with Festa, disappeared from the Yorkshire scene rather abruptly, until the ex-Pompey man was linked with the Leeds gig once again in the summer, before it was given to David Hockaday.
But Festa fits Cellino’s management structure well, has enjoyed a brief taste of Elland Road life and is currently unemployed, which could convince the Whites owner to give him another go.
Here’s the Italian netting the winning goal against Everton on New Years’ Day 2002, during his Riverside spell:
Gary McAllister will be a name more recognisable to the Elland Road faithful. Not only did the former Scotland international make nearly 300 appearances for Leeds in the 1990s, he also managed the Yorkshire club for 50 games in 2008.
McAllister’s short period in the Leeds dugout started well, securing them a play-off spot in League One after taking over from Dennis Wise. It ended on a drab note however, losing to Histon in the FA Cup and MK Dons in the league. Yet, his overall win-rate for Leeds stands at a respectable 50%.
The 49 year-old is a favourite of the Yorkshire fanbase and was linked with the Whites hotseat in the summer. He and Massimo Cellino are alleged to have met up on several occasions, but the Italian denies holding formal interviews with McAllister.
The former Leicester, Leeds, Coventry and Liverpool midfielder was quite the footballer during his playing days, making it into the 1993/94 PFA Team of the Year and winning the Man of the Match award in the 2001 UEFA Cup final. Here’s a look at some of his best goals:
After working as assistant manager at Newcastle, Chelsea, Liverpool and West Ham, the Scot was named West Brom boss in 2012. With the assistance of Romelu Lukaku, he guided the Baggies to an 8th-place finish in the top flight, breaking the club record for Premier League wins and equalling their strongest campaign since 1981. The season was marked by an incredible 5-5 draw against Manchester United on the final day:
The 51 year-old was given his marching orders in December 2013 however after a run of four straight defeats, a decision viewed by many as exceptionally harsh.
Clarke was then placed on gardening leave until May 2014, and surprisingly missed out on the recently-vacated Crystal Palace job to Neil Warnock.
The Scotland international may feel the need to prove himself again at Championship level, and he’s certainly the most impressive candidate on this list. But whether Massimo Cellino would be able to meet his wage demands remains to be seen.