New Leeds United boss Paul Heckingbottom cuts a confident figure in first press conference
Thursday, 8th Feb 2018 17:52 by @LucasMonk_
Paul Heckingbottom fielded questions from the assembled media as Leeds United’s head coach on Thursday afternoon for the first time since his appointment earlier this week.
Paul Heckingbottom cut a highly confident and self-assured figure on Thursday afternoon as he responded to lines of questioning at Thorp Arch for the first time.
The new Leeds United head coach, who succeeded former Spain international Thomas Christiansen on Tuesday only days after acceding to a new contract with Barnsley, was discernibly bullish when discussing the task ahead of him, United’s play-off aspirations and the team’s egregious disciplinary record of late.
Heckingbottom, who had been head coach at Oakwell since 2016, firstly responded to being quizzed about how he felt after being named as Leeds’ 8th head coach since 2014.
“It’s an honour, yeah definitely,” the 40-year-old said.
“It’s been a whirlwind few days and one that has got me really excited.
“I think today is probably the first time it has felt like normal, there's been lots of things going on in the first few days, lots of things to deal with, do, lots of messages of support and thanks so that shows the size of the club the amount of text messages and WhatsApp messages I have had.
“So just really pleased to be here and really delighted now and hopefully can just get on with the job.”
He was then asked about how his controversial move to Elland Road arose, in addition to other vacancies he had been linked with prior to accepting Andrea Radrizzani’s offer to succeed Christiansen in the United hot seat.
“Yeah definitely, so Monday was a strange day, yeah,” Heckingbottom admitted.
“So I knew before training on Monday sort of that things were happening but as it stood I was still Barnsley manager so carried on there as normal, took the session, nobody knew and then things started really moving on Monday night.
“Yeah, timing's everything as I say and I've been fortunate enough to capitalise but we've had lots of speculation over my time in charge of Barnsley through players, whether it be players or myself, and I said all along when people used to ask me the question, I had opportunities as a player, as a coach and head coach to go but I didn’t really want to, I didn't want to leave.
“But this time everything was right and like I said, I'm really pleased to be here."
Finally, he was then requested to provide both an insight as to how he intends to tackle the issue of the team’s rampant indiscipline of late.
"Yeah, we've already done things,” he said.
"It's a big problem and ultimately why it is a big issue for me is because we're without players so I am all for aggression, I'm all for tackling but the best players have control.
"Whether that's control to perform your role, whether that's control winning the ball back, you have to have that discipline and control and it's a big part of how we will be training and how we will be playing.
"So yeah it will change, there will be sendings off in the future.
"If it’s sendings-off that are people trying to do things for the good of the team I can accept that definitely.
"If it’s sendings off that are through ill discipline or a lack of control, then we've got to address it."
Leeds fans have responded positively to his first media outing since his appointment on social media, with one fan particularly impressed with the candour displayed by the former Barnsley boss:
Heckingbottom will take charge of United for the first time on Saturday, when his new team travel to Bramall Lane to do battle with Sheffield United in an eagerly anticipated lunchtime kick-off.
Photo: Action Images
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