Championship

Look at him now: Paul Heckingbottom and Leeds United

Look at him now: Paul Heckingbottom and Leeds United

Leeds United are in wonderland with Marcelo Bielsa in charge and his success is made all the sweeter by the comparative misery of lummox Paul Heckingbottom.

There has been some serious conjecture waged over the origins of Paul Heckingbottom’s appointment. Some may say he was simply the right man, a ‘success’ at Barnsley who deserved his spot at Leeds United. The more pessimistic fans may decree that he was simply the only man available, other than Steve McClaren – he is always knocking about, isn’t he? The realists among us, however, know that Heckingbottom more than likely won the role off the back of a cereal box as a ‘coaching experience’ that got out of hand. Probably Bran Flakes; he strikes us as that kind of guy.

The Englishman became Leeds’ seventh manager in four years when he took over from Thomas Christiansen in February, just one week after signing a new contract at his former club Barnsley (as per Sky Sports). A club statement full of optimism and excitement fitting of the occasion announced: “Leeds United are delighted to confirm the appointment of Paul Heckingbottom as the new head coach of the club.”

Delight quickly turned to misery.

In his opening ten games as manager Heckingbottom led his team on a run of two wins, five losses and three draws. On paper they looked bad, but on the pitch – well, that was a whole different level of bad. Disjointed passing, lethargic attacking play and truly awful defending just about sums up the Heckingbottom era. The sleep-inducing brand of ‘football’ he forced upon the Elland Road faithful truly was some of the worst the club had seen since dropping from the Premier League in 2004.

Some may argue that his side struggled with injuries, and he himself would excuse himself as victim of a ‘change of direction’ at Leeds (as per Yorkshire Evening Post), but that does not wash with us.

In 2018 he was sacked less than four months after being appointed (BBC Sport).

Heckingbottom has since joined Hibernian where things look to have taken a huge turn for him. Indeed, six wins in nine of his opening matches, including a recent victory over bitter rivals Hearts, have earned him a pretty passionate following in Scotland – an improvement on the legacy he has left in the Championship.

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