Heckingbottom isn’t the right fit for Leeds and they must get Mick McCarthy instead

There was certainly more than a few eyebrows raised when Leeds United chose Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom to succeed Thomas Christiansen in February after the Dane had been sacked.

The 40-year-old had only managed the Tykes for 83 matches and had just 18 months experience at Championship level, and his team were struggling against relegation having only won one of their previous 15 games.

While they finished in mid-table last season, they were still only seven points above the bottom three such was the close proximity of the teams in the bottom half of the standings.

Leeds United manager Paul Heckingbottom

The fact that the Whites only handed Heckingbottom an 18-month contract certainly suggested that they wanted to cover their own backs if things didn’t work out, and 14 matches into his reign you would have to say that they are maybe beginning to reach the stage already where they can see that he isn’t a good fit.

Leeds have won just three times during that period – including the 2-1 win against the manager’s former club Barnsley at Elland Road last weekend – and you would be hard-pressed to say that performances have dramatically improved since he took over at the start of February.

The fans certainly haven’t been impressed with him and have criticised him for many of their performances, which have included seven defeats, with some on Twitter calling for him to be replaced by the manager of the U23 side, Carlos Corberan.

Of course, the 40-year-old will need time to mold his own team and he needs a transfer window to bring the players he wants into the club, but rather than stick with a risky appointment that may not work out and potentially waste another campaign, should they not bring in someone now that knows what it takes to get a club out of the Championship?

Step forward Yorkshireman Mick McCarthy, who brought forward his departure from Ipswich Town from the end of the season to earlier this month having grown tired of the criticism from the Portman Road faithful.

The 59-year-old spent five-and-a-half years with the Tractor Boys on a limited budget, and you could certainly understand why he didn’t want to put up with abuse from the stands any longer, from frustrated fans who wanted to see their side challenging for the play-offs rather than floating around in mid-table mediocrity.

Despite the fact that McCarthy’s hands were largely tied financially and he couldn’t help them do that on a shoestring budget, he has won the title with Sunderland and Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2005 and 2009 respectively, and he knows what it takes to win a game of football in the Championship.

Former Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy

While he may have been born just down the road in Barnsley, McCarthy has already hinted in a report by The Sun, via Football League World, that he would be keen on the Elland Road hot-seat should it be offered to him, and Leeds surely can’t really afford to miss out on the opportunity.

Yes, it would be nice to give Heckingbottom some time to try and build something positive, but it is far from guaranteed to work out and do the owners and the passionate fan-base really have the patience for that after so many failed campaigns in the Championship?

The club hierarchy have already been far too patient with Christiansen this season, and he should have gone much earlier given the team were clearly drifting for a number of months with no signs of improvement on the pitch.

Andrea Radrizzani watches on

Now, they need to make a bold and brave decision and get rid of the 40-year-old and appoint McCarthy as soon as they can after the conclusion of the season, to allow him to build for next term.

The 59-year-old has the character and the strength in his own ability to manage a big club like Leeds, and he would likely have a good rapport with the fans too given he is a Yorkshire lad.

Owner Andrea Radrizzani has already made a number of big decisions during his time at Elland Road, but bringing McCarthy in could be his most important yet, and set up a 2018/19 campaign that will see the supporters finally get the success their patience has so richly deserved.