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Leeds confirm Heckingbottom’s appointment
Tuesday, 6th Feb 2018 16:44 by Tim Whelan

As expected, Leeds have agreed terms with Paul Heckingbottom for him to leave Barnsley and join the club as our latest head coach. After a team meeting the new man got straight to work with his first training session.

A statement on the official site said “Leeds United are delighted to confirm the appointment of Paul Heckingbottom as new head coach of the club.” In order to secure his services Leeds had to pay Barnsley £500,000 compenation, the figure stipulated in a release clause within the new contract that Heckingbottom recently signed at Oakwell.

And the Heck told Sky Sports News why he decided to leave the club he supported to come to Elland Road. "It's a big opportunity at a big football club and it's something that you work hard for. What appealed was the size of the club. When I spoke to Victor Orta and the owners they were aligned with what I was thinking and how I liked to work , so hopefully that will be good for us going forward."

He might also have wanted to leave Oakwell because he felt he’d taken them as far as he could, and he thought the support he was getting from the owners was less than he would have liked. This season key players have left without being replaced, which is a key reason why they are struggling to repeat last season’s achievement of finishing in 14th place.

Barnsley’s official statement said "Barnsley Football Club are thoroughly disappointed to announce that Paul Heckingbottom has joined Leeds United. The 40-year-old will move to Elland Road instantly. Heckingbottom will be joined by Jamie Clapham (First Team Coach), Nathan Winder (Head of Sports Science) and Alex Bailey (First Team Performance Analyst) who will also all depart Oakwell immediately. "

And that’s polite compared to some of the comments I’ve seen on Barnsley messageboards at the departure of a manager they thought was ‘one of their own’. One of the few I can quote here is “I don't know how he could go to Leeds, any other club would have been bad... but Leeds! New nickname should be 30piecesofsilver.” So they hate us more than the two Sheffield clubs? Blimey!

Which should make for an interesting occasion when the Heck’s former employers come to Elland Road on April 21st. He will have his work cut out to get us into a position of still have a chance of making the play-offs by the time that game comes round. We’re now seven points adrift of sixth place, and the next two games are against teams we need to climb over to get there.

But he will of course have a series of players out with injuries and suspensions for those vital matches, and for the time running we are down to one recognised central defender in the shape of Pennington. We can hope that the usual ‘dead man’s bounce’ effect works in our favour with the players out to impress the new boss, but it could be that by the time we’re back to full strength we’ll be too far adrift of the top six to catch up.

Heckingbottom’s latest new contract ties him to Leeds runs for 18 months, till the summer of 2019. And it may well be that the owner’s much-vaunted five year plan sees promotion next season as far more realistic than expecting him to get us there in the remainder of this campaign.

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