On February 4th Leeds United sacked another manager, Thomas Christiansen was fired after a run of poor form. The fanbase was largely in favour of the sacking, the owner obliged. Despite that we were 10th place and just 7 points outside the playoffs. Having been in and around the playoffs all season fans were hopeful. A new manager, new ideas, the new manager bounce, playoffs were still on.
In came the new manager, Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom was the new boss. 16 games, 7 points to make up, fans were hopeful. But nagging doubts were there, Heckingbottom hadn’t had a good season, Barnsley were struggling, but for the sad death of the Barnsley owner and the new owners not wanting to create more issues it’s very possible Paul would have already been sacked. But, everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt.
8 games, 1 win, 4 defeats, 3 draws later, the Leeds season is once again over. We have dropped from 10th 7 points off the playoffs to 14th, 8 points off 10th, 12 off the playoffs. A season that started so promisingly has descended into a farce.
We have seen zero improvement, and in my opinion if anything we are worse under Heckingbottom. The days of taking apart Bristol City and Boro are distant memories, the draws that should have been wins against Fulham and Villa feel like a lifetime ago.
For 8 games we have been largely outplayed, only perking up for 15-20minute spells. Understandable to an extent against the likes of Wolves and Boro, teams with arguably better squads. But a 2-2 draw against Reading, a team without a win on a Saturday 3pm kickoff this season, a game we could have been 3-0 down before we woke up.
A 2-1 home defeat to a Sheffield Wednesday side where key first team players such as Kieran Westwood, Fernando Forestieiri, Ross Wallace, Kieran Lee, Jordan Rhodes, Joost Van Aken, Liam Palmer, Glenn Loovens and more didn’t even play at all. That simply isn’t good enough. The record of Paul Heckingbottom during his 8 game reign doesn’t make good reading; Played 8, Wins 1, Defeats 4, Draws-3, Points 6, Goals Scored 9, Goals Conceded 16, Goal Difference -7
The calls for his sacking have started, a win percentage worse than any Leeds manager apart from Darko Milanic and a style of football that is not the most pleasing on the eye. So where do we go from here? Do we sack Paul Heckingbottom and look for our 4th manager in 10 months, or do we stick with him for the rest of the season and next season, give him time like all the pundits spout?
Personally I'm in the middle, I was in the minority it seemed, I didn't want Thomas Christiansen sacked, and I definitely didn’t want Paul Heckingbottom appointed. But i feel the reason we got Paul was because we sacked TC without a plan, then we scrambled around for well, anyone. I don't want that again, so i feel Paul Heckingbottom should be given till the end of the season, then reassess.
However, that may be a temporary reprieve for the Barnsley boy. If I were Radrizzani I would say “You have till the end of the season, but i expect us to finish strong, be a maximum of 6 points off the playoffs, and have a positive goal difference". That will represent an improvement on what Thomas Christiansen had. If he is unable to achieve this then I'm afraid he has to go.
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18 Mar 2018 10:12am, by Cjay
16 Mar 2018 11:06am, by Shields53
If the sacking of Thomas Christiansen was intended to bring about a renewal of Leeds’ promotion push, it hasn’t exactly paid off. When Christiansen departed on 4th February, Leeds were tenth in the table. Seven games and one win later, and they are down in 13th, 11 points off the play-offs, and barring a remarkable late resurgence, Leeds fans will be preparing for yet another season in the Championship.
In truth, the team had been in a steady decline for a number of weeks. A superb start to the season saw them top the table for the second half of September, but they promptly went on a run of eight defeats in 11 games, and aside from a brief resurgence in December, they continued to slide downwards, out of the play-offs and in the direction of mid-table. In fact, after first topping the table, Leeds won nine of their next 30 Championship games.
With promotion this season looking distinctly unlikely, what do Leeds need to do to make a more concerted push next year? It is likely that bookies will rank them among the play-off contenders for 2018-19, but fans will know that there is a lot of work to be done between now and next August before they start placing bets.
The most obvious priority is better coordination between manager and club when it comes to buying players. The arrangement by which Director of Football Victor Orta is in sole charge of transfers is unsustainable and it will be up to Paul Heckingbottom to work behind the scenes to ensure that he gets his way when it comes to recruitment. Getting out of the Championship is hard enough, but being forced to attempt it with players you didn’t want at the club would be incredibly and unnecessarily difficult for most managers.
When it comes to this summer’s transfer targets, another goalkeeper may be near the top of the list. Among the players who could be on the way out are keepers Felix Wiedwald and Andy Lonergan, and the club will need to bring in a reliable alternative to the promising Bailey Peacock-Farrell. It is also likely that they will concentrate on bringing more British players into the squad after a number of foreign imports – most notably Mateusz Klich, Jay-Roy Grot and Paweł Cibicki – failed to adjust to the physical nature of Championship football.
It is also going to be important for the club to tie down key playmaker Pablo Hernández. His contract is up at the end of the season, but Heckingbottom will surely see him as key to the team’s promotion prospects next season, along with the versatile Matthew Pennington, whose lone deal expires in May. However, if Leeds can get their transfer strategy right this summer, and if Heckingbottom is given consistent support from the owner next season, then there is every reason to hope that Leeds can make a serious push for promotion in 2018-19.
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