Championship Analysis - Hockaday up and running after Leeds beat Middlesbrough
New Leeds manager Dave Hockaday earned his first win in the Championship after his side beat Middlesbrough on Saturday. It will have come as a relief to Hockaday, who has been thrust into the Elland Road cauldron and tasted defeat on the opening week of the season at Millwall.
Despite coaching experience at Watford and Southampton, the little-known Hockaday has only ever managed at non-league level with Forest Green Rovers. On paper it is an impressive and bold move by new owner Massimo Cellino, but the Italian has a record beyond prolific when it comes to sacking managers, firing Brian McDermott a day before he even took over the club,albeit having to reinstate him when the purchase initially fell through.
“I can change manager like underwear if needs be. Everyone has said Hockaday is not the right coach for Leeds, but I think he is. It’s not the choice of the journalists or the supporters. If I have made the wrong choice I have to face it,” Cellino told The Guardian a day before the season began.
Leeds finished a hugely disappointing 15th last season, so in normal circumstances Hockaday would have some room for manoeuvre on that front, but Cellino clearly isn’t one for patience. As such it would be a pleasant surprise for football if Hockaday was still in the driving seat this time next year.
Despite his lack of experience at a professional level, the new boss certainly knows the art of the post-match interview. “I am fortunate to be given this chance and the players worked their socks off today. Nobody can say we didn't sweat blood for that white shirt. I've been in football for 40 years and pressure is my middle name,” Hockaday said after Saturday’s win.
Continuing the managerial theme, Huddersfield – at the time of writing – have yet to name a successor to Mark Robins, who left the Terriers after the opening-day 4-0 defeat to Bournemouth. Academy boss Mark Lillis took charge of the club’s 3-1 loss at Cardiff. Although Huddersfield chairman Dean Hoyle defended Robins during the week and blamed a culture of negativity around the club for his departure, the timing of the decision remains odd.
Huddersfield’s form towards the end of last season was poor, with the Terriers winning only two of their final 13 fixtures, so letting Robins go at that stage would have been the logical move, especially as Robins claimed he sensed that the players and fans had lost faith in him.
Meanwhile, crisis club Blackpool suffered their second defeat at home to Blackburn on Saturday. Unlike last week, the Tangerines were able to name a full squad for the match but it was clear after the game that manager Jose Riga was forced to clutch at straws in his analysis.
“Physically we are not ready yet and we don't have enough players still, but the fans and the mentality of the players is good. Some players arrived only a couple of days ago and it’s a difficult situation. I need more players but I need quality and that is important,” the Belgian said.
Chairman Karl Oyston has defended the team’s current lack of resources by claiming it allows Riga a base from which to build his own team. However, it is difficult to describe the situation as anything other than a shambles and particularly painful for a club that tasted Premier League life as recently as 2011. Unless Riga can work miracles in the transfer market before the end of the month, Blackpool are dead certs for the drop.
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