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Leeds United: Paul Heckingbottom departs Elland Road after just 16 matches
Friday, 1st Jun 2018 12:38 by @LucasMonk_

Leeds United have parted company with head coach Paul Heckingbottom after just 16 matches...

After intense speculation apropos his future, Leeds United have today confirmed that Paul Heckingbottom has left his role of head coach.

Speaking to United's official website, Angus Kinnear, the club's managing director, said: “On behalf of the Board of Directors at Leeds United I would like to thank Paul for the commitment and passion he has demonstrated since he joined the club earlier this year.

"Paul came to us during a difficult period in the season and has conducted himself in an exemplary manner despite results not going as any of us had hoped."

“Our objective is to bring in a head coach with more experience who can help us reach the goals we have talked about since we became custodians of the club last summer. We are confident of making a quick appointment and we thank our fans for their continued support,” he added.

Heckingbottom, who is currently on holiday in Greece with his family, was reportedly informed of his imminent dismissal by Victor Orta, United's director of football, today.

He leaves having only been appointed as Thomas Christiansen's successor in February following Leeds' chastening 4-1 home defeat by Cardiff City, with a fee of £500,000 being paid to Barnsley for his services.

It had been hoped that the 40-year-old's arrival would serve to rejuvenate a squad bereft of confidence and on a barren run, but instead he has become United's 12th managerial departure since February 2012 after presiding over four victories, four draws, eight defeats and an eventual 13th-placed finish in the Championship last season.

Following Heckingbottom through the Elland Road exit door are assistant manager Jamie Clapham, head of fitness Nathan Winder, data analyst Alex Bailey and set piece coach Gianni Vio, who has not had his contract renewed by the club.

Leeds will now seek to appoint a new head coach briskly. The tempestuous Argentinian Marcelo Bielsa, who was most recently the head coach of Lille, has been heavily linked in recent days with the now vacant post.

Analysis: Heckingbottom's dismissal is perhaps slightly austere - but United must forge ahead with an ambitious appointment

To relieve a head coach of his position after merely 16 games is to be seen, perhaps, as being erratic. It is patently obvious, given United's mutable recent history, as to why many observers have taken the view that Paul Heckingbottom has been sacked prematurely, and, therefore, harshly.

That argument is not inherently invalid, and it would be true to say that he inherited a mediocre squad: one bereft of confidence, one decimated by a pernicious blend of injuries and suspensions. In difficult circumstances, Heckingbottom performed his duties with dignity, assiduity and professionalism - there is no doubting that. The emergence of Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Tom Pearce and Paudie O'Connor owed much to the trust that he vested in them, and he was successful in doing away with the rampant indiscipline that precipitated Thomas Christiansen's downfall.

But, and though it may be prosaic to say so, success in football is measured by results. Victories were recorded over Brentford, Barnsley, Bolton Wanderers and QPR, but heavy defeats to Middlesbrough and Wolverhampton Wanderers, as well as a crushing loss against Sheffield Wednesday in the dying embers of a Yorkshire derby, undermined supporters' confidence in Heckingbottom's fitness for the role.

By all accounts, the club's hierarchy still hold him in high regard, but there is a fervent desire at Leeds to right last season's wrongs - and a favoured remedy is the appointment of a more experienced coach, one steeped in prestige, one given to the playing of vivacious, attacking football and one that will, above all, restore the club to its former glories.

Whoever that coach is, he shall have to quickly establish a rapport with the club's expectant supporters, as this scribe strongly believes that Heckingbottom's failure to do hastened his demise. As far as most United supporters are concerned, today, the end of the Heckingbottom era, is the final chapter of a rather egregious book that none of them enjoyed. Now, they eagerly await its incineration by the appointment of a successor.

Can that successor placate the hordes of corybantic fans with results? Can that successor inspire within the team an imperishable desire to win at any cost? Can that successor become the author of a bold, new chapter in the club's history?

The answer to the last of those questions will be determined by the answers to the other two - and one suspects that those answers will arrive shortly.

Photo: Action Images

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TimWhelan added 12:46 - Jun 1
Not the news you'd want after coming back from holiday, and I think the timing is a bit odd. I would have though that if Radz was going to do the deed he'd have sacked the Heck at the end of the season rather than waiting until now. Perhaps the extra cash from the 49ers persuaded him to act, as he now thinks we can attract a better class of 'head coach'. But it won't make much difference if Orta doesn't get the recruitment right this time and spend the extra cash well.

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