After all the years of Leeds fans complaining about the lack of stability at the club during Massimo Cellino’s reign, it was highly hypocritical when the same people were calling for Thomas Christiansen’s head around the turn of the new year. Andrea Radrizzani’s takeover was supposed to bring about a new era at the club, one in which managers didn’t come and go with as much frequency as the 757 bus. After another failed season, when will Leeds learn from past lessons?

The sacking of managers has become such a common theme in modern football, that bookies now offer odds on which one will be the next out of the door. Nobody is safe from the chop. The tacticians can often be seen timidly pacing their dugouts, resembling gazelles on the plains of Africa while lions lurk nearby. Since the end of the 2016-17 season in the Premier League alone, there have been thirteen managerial changes. Taking the whole of English football into account, these numbers become even more astonishing. There were 19 in the Championship in the same timeframe, and 18 in League One.

For relegation-threatened clubs in the top flight, changing manager has often brought about a turn of fortunes and helped sides escape the mire. Crystal Palace, who endured a horrific start to the 2017-18 campaign under Frank de Boer, enjoyed a serious upsurge in form when Roy Hodgson stepped in. Prior to the appointment of the former England manager, the Selhurst Park outfit were odds-on in the football betting to be relegated. West Ham United also had a brief revival under David Moyes. The changing tide is often short-lived, though, and both London sides spent the rest of the season flirting dangerously close to the drop zone.

When Christiansen was sacked in early February after a dismal run of results over the Christmas period, United sat in tenth place in the table. But what did the Leeds hierarchy hope to achieve from sacking the Dane? Did they think that bringing in a new manager would suddenly revive the Whites’ campaign and have them pushing for a top-two finish?

Of course, they won’t have thought this was achievable, but employing a new boss with a different footballing philosophy halfway through the season was hardly going to have Leeds challenging for the playoffs. Certainly, hiring Paul Heckingbottom – a manager embroiled in a relegation battle at Barnsley at the time – was not going to change things. Perhaps if Pep Guardiola or Carlo Ancelotti had been available, miracles could have happened. But not with Heckingbottom.

Now, Radrizzani faces a difficult dilemma. He can either stick with his decision to employ Heckingbottom in the first place and give the Yorkshireman some time, or he can look elsewhere in the summer. Fans will be crying out for a change, but it is also worth noting that at clubs where managers are given time, success often follows. Burnley under Sean Dyche are a prime example, and Millwall have done extremely well by sticking with Neil Harris. It is also worth remembering that Don Revie’s managerial career at Leeds got off to a slow start, but we all know what happened later.

7 Responses

  1. TSS

    Was difficult to argue against TC’s sacking given form, but had I known the replacement would be Heckingbottom, it would have been a much easier argument to make. He was such a poor, uninspiring choice.

    • Henry

      Our managers in recent years are whipping boys and a distracting,
      to the fact that our recruiting policy.
      Freebees, cheepees, loanees, and substandard players, have left us with no hope, no matter who the manager is.
      We have consistently sold our best players, and not replaced them.
      I cannot think of a manager who could be successful with our players.
      Indeed, no manager worth his salt would touch our embarrassing club.
      So we are left with managers who are grateful for the job.
      Coming to a ‘big’ club, with small players.
      It is easy to attack and sack our manager, rather than facing facts.
      Our success next season will depend on the players we bring in this Summer, not the manager.

  2. Tim

    The manager is a concern and huge factor. Heckingbottom is not the right choice and needs to go, Leeds were without doubt a better team under Christiansen with same players than they are now. We had injury problems throughout the Dane’s time at Leeds, if we were going to stick with a manager then it should have been him and not Heckingbottom. It is no coincidence that the clubs at the top of the Championship have seasoned managers. Some have spent large sums on players but not all.

    Heckingbottom has the motivational skills of my office chair and if we start the season with him it will be a season of trying not to go down rather than looking at going up.

    • Henry

      The top managers have the best players.
      Our squad was found wanting under Christiansen and he was done.
      To expect anyone to turn a poor squad into winners is impossible.
      Hecky was not my choice but Pep would have failed with this lot.

      • Henry

        Do you really blame Hecky for this mess?
        He had to lift a poor squad, then lost players to injury and red cards.
        Just now, all the players Orta brought in last Summer, are not worth a first team place in an average squad.
        I am not saying Hecky has done a great job, but he has done his best with what he has.
        The squad can’t even do the basics you would expect from pro footballers.
        Passing, tackling, marking, shooting etc.

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