Arrogance, naivety or just not good enough? Heckingbottom needs to go TSS April 12, 2018 Leeds United 14 Comments I’ll be the first to admit Paul Heckingbottom wasn’t my first (or even 51st) choice of manager, but as a Leeds United fan who only wants to see the team succeed, his absolute failure to effect any change at the club brings me no pleasure. Two unconvincing wins in his twelve games in charge and a 50% loss rate would have Leeds on course for League One had it not been for early season form, which is exactly where he was guiding Barnsley before jumping ship midseason to continue his abysmal run at Leeds. And while some would offer the excuse of a poor squad as mitigation, I just don’t buy it. By no means do Leeds United have a top six squad, but equally, it doesn’t rank amongst the division’s worst either. Paul Heckingbottom simply isn’t cut out for the Leeds United job. He’s got no reaction at all from the players, which suggests they have no confidence in (or respect for) him, or they’re so poorly trained and organised, they’re struggling to perform. His failure to organise would be my biggest criticism. He seems to have no tactical plan whatsoever heading into matches. After scraping a victory against Brentford towards the end of February, Heckingbottom decided to stick with exactly the same team for an away trip to Middlesbrough, explaining that he was rewarding players for the win. That to me sounds like he can’t be bothered doing his homework on the opposition and adjusting his side to face them, which was evidenced by some of the mismatches we had across the park. Leeds duly lost 3-0, which was no surprise with Vernon Anita played out of position at left-back against one of the division’s best wingers while Eunan O’Kane continued to steal a living in a DM position. Kalvin Phillips was another non-performer who retained his place. All three struggled against Brentford, yet Heckingbottom, in his infinite wisdom, decided they deserved to go again against Boro. I don’t know if it’s naivety, arrogance or absolute ineptitude, but he’s failed to respect the opposition and we got absolutely schooled as a consequence. I could accept some of these decisions were forced by availability and squad depth if there wasn’t clearly better suited options available. At left-back for example we had a choice of De Bock, Tyler Denton and the hugely impressive youngster, Tom Pearce, all of whom are natural left-backs. And even if none of them are available (which they all were), Alioski is also a very accomplished left-back. It’s where he’s played most of his career. There’s simply no reason to play Anita there. I give that example in anticipation of some of the potential counterarguments. I suspect many will argue Heckingbottom is limited by Orta’s transfer dealings and I won’t argue otherwise. Clearly our recruitment could and needs to be better. But again, this side doesn’t rank among the division’s worst. Christiansen’s early season form might have involved an element of good luck, but on the whole, we were beating weaker sides and losing to the strongest. Now we’re losing to pretty much the entire division. But what’s most concerning is that Heckingbottom has changed nothing. A few youngsters have been rotated in and out, but the shape (disorganised), style of play (poor) and individual performance levels (all over the map) are pretty much the same. On top of that, I feel Heckingbottom himself is a burden in the transfer market. He doesn’t have the clout of someone like Garry Monk, who managed to attract both Pablo Hernandez and Kyle Bartley on the back of his own career and reputation. Orta is clearly the man in charge of transfers, but top players aren’t looking at Paul Heckingbottom and thinking “he’s the man I want to play for!” Even the players we currently have don’t seem particularly thrilled by it. At this point, Heckingbottom’s sacking seems almost inevitable. It’d be good timing too, since it allows Leeds to get someone new in before the transfer window opens and for that person to evaluate the squad he has with the remaining games. Mick McCarthy seems the most obvious option, but he’s unlikely to accept the job with Victor Orta calling the shots, though if reports in the Spanish press are to be believed, he might be on his way out of the door too.