The recent sacking of David Hockaday at Leeds United will not have come as much of a surprise to anyone but his dismissal by the notoriously ruthless owner Massimo Cellino leaves the proud Yorkshire club in yet another state of disarray and brings the suitability of the Italian businessman for the job into serious doubt.
It has been well-documented that Cellino has a reputation of having an itchy trigger finger when it comes to sacking managers in his homeland. Therefore, despite the fact that the season isn’t even a month old, the writing was very much on the wall for Hockaday who had lost four of his first (and only) six games in charge. The media and the club’s fans were almost determined to write off Hockaday’s managerial reign as a failure from the moment he was appointed, never at any point was he given enough of a chance or enough respect. If he was going to avoid the axe, he needed to make a good start to the season. However, this was always going to be unlikely and instead Leeds are very much at the wrong end of the table.
Despite his lack of experience (having only managed non-league side Forest Green Rovers before), Hockaday didn’t appear to be anybody’s fool. For the very short period of time he had managing Leeds, it seemed as if he was going about his work very diligently and he knew exactly what the task of managing a club with the stature of Leeds involved and what was expected of him. Whilst I don’t have a crystal ball, had he have been given more time, I think he’d have done fairly well but it would’ve been hard to envisage him as the man to take Leeds back to the Premier League. He was an “experiment” and his appointment did appear to be for the short term but even so, he definitely didn’t get a fair crack of the whip. Whilst you can say the same for the majority of sackings nowadays, four games into a 46 game league season is simply ridiculous.
It’s slightly saddening to see such a big club languishing like they are at a level that is lower than they should be playing at. However, the main contributing factor to their struggles is the huge mistakes which have been made off the pitch at Leeds for more than a decade now. Therefore, it’s difficult to feel much sympathy for them. Now they have someone who can be described as a bit of a madman making all of the key decisions and more often than not, when clubs are led by such characters, it all ends in tears. If anything, the way Cellino has started running the club, it looks as if Leeds’ problems could worsen even further. In football, stability often proves to be the key to long term success. For far too long now Leeds haven’t had that and they still don’t have it now.
Regardless of who Cellino is able to appoint, it looks as if Leeds are in for another season of struggle. Quite simply, there are a number of clubs in the Championship who are ahead of them. Their squad is average for that level, the number of new and unfamiliar Cellino-influenced Italian signings certainly hasn’t helped. And of course, there are many teams in the Championship who don’t have back-seat drivers like Cellino. You can’t accuse the new Leeds owner of not being ambitious, he has spoken of his ambition to take Leeds back to the top flight and back into European competition. However, if he’s going to be sacking managers after giving them just four league games, the best they can realistically hope for is to simply retain their second tier status.