Dave Hockaday was ousted from Leeds United last week, but was his sacking all his own fault?
The former Forest Green coach lasted just 70 days at Elland Road, with his dismissal coming in the wake of a 2-1 defeat to rivals Bradford City in the League Cup.
He oversaw just two victories in his six games in charge, and, although he attempted to implement a new style of football, Leeds reverted to the same dull performances seen in previous management regimes.
His solo league victory came in the form of a one-goal win over Middlesbrough, whilst an impressive 2-1 victory over Accrington Stanley saw the Whites progress to the second round of the League Cup. Hockaday saw four men sent off in his short six-game spell in charge, and, despite Massimo Cellino blaming himself for United’s dismal start to the season, he still decided to sack Hockaday in the aftermath of the League Cup second round defeat.
However, whilst many are blaming Cellino for not seeing the project through with Hockaday, the eccentric Italian may have been in the right to part company with the 56-year old Englishman.
Hockaday promised to bring a new style of football to Elland Road, focusing upon the technical pass-and-move style that is vogue in the current footballing climate. Cellino oversaw the arrival of players suited to that system, with Tommaso Bianchi, Casper Sloth and Mirco Antenucci impressing in their limited displays.
However, the system that Hockaday tried to implement was brought in too fast, with the players already at the club unsuited to the highly technical football not commonly seen in the Championship.
Rather than setting up with a four-man diamond midfield, which reduces the width in the team, Hockaday should have played to the strengths of his squad and attempted a classic flat four-man midfield.
Whilst not the most creative or adventurous of styles, it would have shored up the defensive phase of play in the opening games of the season, limiting the amount of goals that the Whites would have conceded. Thus, with fewer goals conceded, fewer points would have been dropped and Leeds would be sitting on a number of points from which to build on for the remainder of the season.
It was bold of Hockaday to attempt such a sudden change of style having only been at the club for a short period, and he should be praised for attempting to impose himself upon his new team. However, his inexperience has shown through with his sudden changes, and it ultimately cost him his job. He had neither the strength of character nor the tactical acumen to succeed at Championship level, and, whilst he may be a good manager in the future, he was not the answer for Leeds United in the current climate.
It promises to be a couple of questionable weeks for the Whites as they search for the replacement for Hockaday, and Leeds fans should be hoping that the incoming manager does things very differently to their recently departed coach.