Massimo Cellino revealed earlier this week that he was planning to give the former Forest Green Rovers boss his marching orders after the Whites’ third defeat campaign against Watford on Saturday, before a sudden change of heart.
But despite Cellino’s U-turn, it’s no secret that Hockaday has been given a stay of execution at Elland Road and results will have to significantly improve over the next few weeks.
We at Football Fancast however believe Leeds should be sticking with the 56 year-old, not least because he was hired less than two months ago!
So with that in mind, here’s SIX reasons Leeds should stick with David Hockaday…
A poor workman blames his tools. That old adage should not be forgotten.
But it’s no secret that David Hockaday has played almost no part in Leeds United’s summer recruitment, and owner Massimo Cellino has hardly graced him with a roster of top second tier talents, worthy of a genuine promotion push.
For example, Ross McCormack, who was not only the Championship’s top scorer last season but also won the Players’ Player of the Year and Fans’ Player of the Year awards at Elland Road, is yet to be adequately replaced following his £11million move to Fulham. At this point, it’s likely he won’t be replaced at all.
Likewise, the Whites squad lacks a natural winger – the kind of player who can get on the ball and drive Leeds 40 or 50 yards up the pitch with pace and trickery alone. This is typified by the fact not a single Leeds player has averaged more than one successful dribble per match thus far this season:
Shocking stuff. Hockaday’s squad is filled with players, many of which he’s likely never heard of, from the Italian leagues that are yet to prove themselves English second tier. Can he really be expected to produce managerial miracles when the quality of the Leeds squad is so open to debate?
Which brings us on to…
Not every player needs time to settle and adapt to a new league but the vast majority of them do.
Just take a look at Tottenham last season; their slump down the Premiership table was obviously linked to the fact they’d spent £110million on seven players during the summer 2013 transfer window that had never set foot in the English game before.
Well, Leeds find themselves in a comparable situation. Nicky Ajose, Liam Cooper and Billy Sharp may be well acquainted with the English game but Marco Silvestri, Guiseppe Bellusci Tommaso Bianchi, Gaetano Berardi, Mirco Antenucci, Souleymane Doukara and Casper Sloth, the former five sourced from the Italian leagues, are certainly not.
These players will inevitably need time to adjust. The contrasting pace of Serie A and Serie B in comparison to the Championship is no great secret and they can’t be expected to all hit the ground running. In fact, that would constitute a borderline managerial miracle from David Hockaday.
Furthermore, Antenucci and Sloth have only joined the club within the last week. It could take a good few months for all these new signings to gel.
It’s often forgotten that managers are a lot like players. Some take to the dugout naturally, but there is still an obvious process of development and improvement as they hone their skills.
Thus, Leeds fans should not think of David Hockaday as simply a manager lacking in credentials, due to the fact he was sourced from Forest Green Rovers, where admittedly, he hardly excelled.
Rather, they should consider the enormous strides the 56 year-old is having to make to get himself up to Championship standard. That process could well take some time, but a handful of games isn’t enough evidence to decide upon Hockaday’s potential as a manager.
Like any youngster at the Whites academy, Hockaday needs experience and opportunities. Who knows – this time next year he could have transformed into the best manager in the division.
Calm down. Do not panic. You can’t win the league title or confirm your own relegation in the first four games of the season.
Of course, three points and just one goal from four fixtures doesn’t bode too well, but take a look at the Championship table:
As you can see, at this moment in time, it’s completely crazy. Charlton in 5th?! Millwall in 9th?! Wigan in 18th and Fulham at the bottom of the table?! Who would have predicted that back at the start of August?
Only a madman or Nostradamus. That’s about it. And only a madman or Nostradamus would expect the season to finish with the table looking as it does right now.
Leeds have endured a poor start but there’s still 41 games to recover. Sunderland lost nine of their first 16 games at the start of the 2006/07 campaign yet ended the season as Champions.
— Guardian Careers (@GuardianCareers) May 22, 2014
Massimo Cellino has fired more people than Alan Sugar. During his 22-year reign as Cagliari boss, he’s sacked no more than 36 different managers. Astounding. That’s 0.14 different managers per month.
And after doing away with Brian McDermott at the end of last season, sending David Hockaday packing after just four league games would set a terrible precedent for Leeds’ immediate future.
The most successful clubs at Championship level have always been those who stick with their managers for at least a couple of seasons. Sean Dyche at Burnley and Nigel Pearson at Leciester are just two recent examples.
Leeds need to be moving closer towards that model rather than shying away from it, and supporting Hockaday’s abrupt departure would give Cellino licence to hire and fire at will.
Talk about ousting David Hockaday is all well and good, but who would actually be prepared to succeed the Leeds manager at Elland Road?
The Whites gig is already widely viewed as a poisoned chalice due to the understandable yet pressurising expectations of the fanbase, and Massimo Cellino’s well-documented influence on managerial affairs will make the hot seat an even less envious prospect.
If Hockaday were to be sacked, it seems unlikely Cellino would bring in a heavyweight replacement – he’d clearly prefer another relative unknown, of the Hockaday mould, that can’t command too much individual power.
Sacking Hockaday could also lead to a scenario where the Whites are left managerless for a sustained period, which would hardly improve the Yorkshire outfit’s league form.
Hockaday may not be the best manager to ever grace Elland Road but be warned – his replacement could be considerably worse, if Cellino finds one at all. You wouldn’t put it past the Italian to place himself in the dugout.