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01 Sep 2014 07:10pm, by Shields53

Leeds United 1 (Warnock 17)
Bolton Wanderers 0

Leeds faced Bolton for the first game of the post Hockaday era and came away with a much needed win. People might say that Saturdays performance was just the result of the gradual improvement we have seen over the past few games. Had we managed to keep eleven men on the pitch against Watford and Bradford then we may have another three points in the bag and be through to the next round of the League Cup and Hockaday may have kept his job. Whatever the reason for the ill-discipline in previous matches it’s ultimately the results that count and Hockaday paid the price for not winning games.

For me though it was the three changes that caretaker manager Neil Redfearn made to the side and three changes which I believe are an important part of the vision for taking Leeds forward. Firstly the young Dane Casper Sloth came into the team complimented by the two academy graduates Lewis Cook and Alex Mowatt. This mix of Cellinos new young foreign signings and the home grown talent is the way forward. The passing game that has tried to be instilled into the players works so much better when we have creative midfielder who look to get the ball forward.

The goal may have been a bit lucky, Warnock himself admitted it was a pass and we hung on in the second half but we showed some resolve to take the points. Bellusci looks a captain in the making, organising and leading the defence and Marco Silvestri put in a match winning performance pulling off save after save to keep Leeds in the game. Throwing Cook in may have seemed like a gamble but it wasn’t to Redfearn because he knows the young players so well, and that’s what makes him so important to the club.

People may suggest Redders for the head coaches job but he is doing a brilliant job where he is. He has been one of the consistent over the past few years and that is important when developing an academy system and bringing players though. He has a philosophy and a plan and that is paying dividends in bringing players to the first team and they will be vital in rebuilding this club. If he were to get the head coach job he would be judged on results alone and with Cellino in chance may not last long. He is too important where he is to risk being given the main job.

Here are 1964white’s views on the Bolton game;

Just what the doctor ordered, a mix of our new signings & academy kids with only Warnock, Pearce & Wootton from last seasons squad. We played some lovely football particularly in the first half with a young midfield consisting of Cook, Mowatt, Bianchi & Sloth all impressing. Cook is a real star in the making. Mowatt looks leaner & fitter. Bianchi is a clever player playing in a more central role today. Sloth also had a fine debut. A midfield that had energy & movement which is so pleasing to see.

We've also found a leader in Bellusci who looked very assured & composed, finding time to dish out orders to the players around him. I take it he has a grasp of the English language as he made himself known to Wootton, Cook & Mowatt as he organised their defensive roles.
Antenucci & Sharp worked tirelessly from the front. Our real star today though was our keeper Marco Silvestri who kept us in the game with a string of fine saves especially in the second half when it was a game of backs to the wall for the lads in white, defending with a lot of determination & a desire to hold to a clean sheet. A game we'd have probably lost under similar pressure last season.

Three points & I'm a happy man. The future is bright folks contrary to what the pessimists think!

Leeds United Line-up:
Silvestri, Wootton, Pearce, Bellusci, Warnock (C Taylor 55), Cook, Mowatt, Bianchi, Sloth (Benedicic 78), Sharp, Antenucci
Unused Subs: S Taylor, Cooper, Dawson, Tonge, Smith

Bolton Line-up:
Bogdan, Mills, Ream, Spearing, Mason, Danns, Chung-Yong, Davies (Beckford 78), Wheater (Dervite 7), White, Medo (Feeney 82)
Unused Subs: Lonergan, Hall, Pratley, Hughes

Attendance: 21,901

29 Aug 2014 06:03pm, by Shields53

On Tuesday night after defeat in the League Cup to Bradford City David Hockaday said "we very nearly climbed that mountain." On Wednesday evening it was confirm that it was Hockaday who had failed to climb the mountain when the club announced that his contract had been terminated with immediate effect.

With only six competitive games under his belt he becomes Leeds United’s shortest serving permanent manager in terms of number of games played, one short of Brian Clough and four short of Jock Stein. His assistant Junior Lewis also left the club and Neil Redfearn has been placed in temporary charge until a permanent replacement can be found. Owner Massimo Cellino said;

“I’d like to thank David for his efforts over the last two and a half months but the results since the start of the season have meant we needed to act and make this decision. After the defeat at Bradford I realised that my decision to keep David at the club following the defeat at Watford was wrong and I had to change my mind on the coaches position. As a club we will now begin our search for a new head coach.”

The plain fact is that Hockaday always had a mountain to climb, in terms of his inexperience, in winning the fans over and working with Cellino. He had coaching experience at Championship level but had only ever managed Forest Green Rovers in the Conference, he was vastly under qualified for the job he took on. Do I blame him for taking the job on? Of course not, it was the chance of a lifetime. Anyone in football, both player or coach wants to work at the highest level and this was his chance at a big job. Do I think he was cut out for it? No, but I don’t think the situation he walked into helped.

Cellino had always stated his desire for a coach rather than a manager and he had expressed an interest in appointing a British coach, probably partly due to his inexperience in English football. It is unclear how Hockadays name came to Cellinos attention but it is said people within footballing circles mentioned him. In so many ways Hockaday was the ideal choice for Cellino, an unknown name, someone who he could control to a certain extent and possibly more importantly at the time, he was cheap.

With Cellino and Salerno making the signings though did Hockaday ever stand a chance? It must have been difficult for him. Many of the signings were made after the summer training camps and a large number of players have arrived at short notice with little time for familiarisation. Trying to instil a new system is difficult at the best of times but harder when you have little say on recruitment of players to play in that system.

That said many fans will question Hockadays tactical prowess. The persistence in playing the now infamous midfield ‘diamond’ with the same players week in week out was not popular. We lacked width, failed to close teams down and lacked a cutting edge. The new ‘passing’ style of football was all a bit sideways too and never really looked to get us anywhere. There were some marginal improvements and he was let down by some ill-discipline or moments of madness but this is a results game and at the end of the day he didn’t get the results.

It was hard for the fans to warm to Hockaday as well. He was so confident in his own ability he came across arrogant, arrogant or deluded. He had complete confidence in his own abilities, he told us no one else could get any more out of the players, he was convinced he could get us back into the Champions League and his job was ‘never up for debate’. But he didn’t have the track record to back it up. Leeds fans like a confident manager but not an arrogant one. His recent press conferences had stolen the light from Cellino a bit as well, and I’m sure Massimo will not have liked that either.

Hockaday departing ends a bizarre few months in the history of Leeds United. There are plenty who love Cellino for his passion and for the amount of money he has put into the club but he has showed a naivety for English football. An owner inexperience in the English game and a head coach without experience at this level was a recipe for disaster. Hopefully now we can move on and our season can start properly, but Cellino needs to be brave and he needs to stick his hand in his pocket. What we require is an experienced manager, someone with a proven track record, someone who can move us forward.

That will cost though, and Cellino doesn’t seem keen on paying coaches much. An experienced coach/manager may also stand up to Cellino more, he won’t like that but it’s a risk he needs to take, for the good of Leeds United.

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