Paul Heckingbottom was never going to have an easy ride at Leeds United. I remember one thing from my interview with a Barnsley fan when he took over and the first part of that has already happened, he said short-term fix this wouldn’t work, but if he was given the time to develop players and bring his own in it would, it remains to be seen whether he will get the chance.
A few tweets from the reliable Alan Nixon have maybe shed some light on what Heckingbottom has been tasked to do. Nixon has always had sources in Leeds and is a very reliable journalist himself, fans always clambering to find out on any deals their club are trying to do. This has noting to do with signings yet and it goes back to something Paul Heckingbottom said last week, his “hands are tied behind (his) back”. It didn’t really make much sense because it will relate to something he has been told by the men who brought him in, Andrea Radrizzani and Victor Orta and we will never find out the solid facts. It may also explain why we have seen the likes of Jay-Roy Grot over Samu Saiz, Eunan O’Kane over Ronaldo Vieira and the likes of Hadi Sacko, Vurnon Anita among others who shouldn’t be playing but have made random starts.
Nixon says he’s having to go through the options in his squad and decide who’s staying and who needs to go, also adding that he’s sick of hearing that Heckingbottom could get the sack, “brought in halfway through a fading season. Makes me laugh” Also went on to say that Cellino was hammered by Leeds fans for sacking managers without giving them time, now some fans want rid with Heckingbottom even having his own staff and players. The idea that Heckingbottom feels his hands are tied behind his back you would have to say now relates to the fact he’s been told to give everyone a chance between when he took over and the end of the season. We’ve seen some changes work and others enforce that players aren’t good enough, Baily Peacock-Farrell one that did, Hadi Sacko and his one start prove that he isn’t in the plans. Vurnon Anita started a game and was dropped for young Tom Pearce, Anita’s season over probably, as is his Leeds career.
If you look deeper things do actually start to add up. Why are Caleb Ekuban and Eunan O’Kane getting so many games with their form not good? Probably because he’s giving them every chance to prove themselves before the summer, neither have taken their chance and would have to really impress between now and the end of the season to have a fighting chance of making next year’s squad. Also have a look at Kemar Roofe straight back in the side, another who has serious work to do, some youngsters getting a chance to see if they can be a part of the squad next season and that some of the better players have been left out at times despite the poor form, if this is all part of what Heckingbottom has been tasked to do, it’s hard to judge him on what we’ve seen, which let’s be honest, has been shocking.
The tweets from Nixon were revealing and it was evident that he is well aware of the situation at Leeds, hence why he knows that Heckingbottom is wanting one of his own coaches in the door, although he said that deal would be difficult. Heckingbottom was judged by many before he even walked through the door, a head-coach who had worked wonders at getting Barnsley promoted and then taking them to the brink of a play-off push before fading away last season, a poor campaign this after all of the best Barnsley players were sold from under him. However, this is Leeds United and although it now seems he’s been told to do what he’s doing with the team he needs to be showing us a lot more of his ability to get the team playing otherwise he won’t last long. Many are wanting his head but it seems like he’ll get a full summer to work with the squad and new players, the start of next season will make or break him at Leeds United.