Well, it’s official.
Paul Heckingbottom has been named first team head coach of Leeds United tonight. The former Barnsley manager takes over a reeling Leeds side that has taken only two points since Boxing Day, and had also crashed out of the FA Cup at Newport County, despite beating the League Two side 5-1 back in August in the League Cup.
Thomas Christiansen was sacked Sunday night after another loss with another red card. The club has seen red seven times this season, and were missing four players through suspension on Saturday. It might be a little unfair to place all of the blame on the shoulders of Christiansen, but when things go pear-shaped, it’s the manager (or in this case, head coach) that feels the heat first.
Worth noting Barnsley were 8th in the table after beating us 3-2 last season and then Heckingbottom's squad was picked apart, Hourihane, Winnall and Bree were all sold in the January window, they also lost Alfie Mawson to Swansea at the start of the season #lufc— RightInTheGaryKellys (@RITGK) February 5, 2018
Heckingbottom has a mixed record in charge of Barnsley FC. One the one hand, he had a successful half season in charge last year, leading Barnsley FC to eighth place in the table before having half the squad sold out from underneath him. The club has struggled this season as well, given that most of the quality players left the club, he’s been dealing with a side lacking in quality.
No doubt that it's been very tough for Heckingbottom at Oakwell this season. One win in last sixteen matches is not a pretty record.— Adam Pope (@APOPEY) February 5, 2018
He has a reputation of developing young players when left to concentrate on the coaching. #lufc
as appointments go, it has to work. Can't afford for this one to go wrong and I appreciate why people are concerned by this appointment on the face of it. All I know is that a lot of people in the game speak very highly of him.— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) February 5, 2018
One of the encouraging factors, however, of Heckingbottom is the work he’s done with the younger players at Barnsley. Bringing in young players and getting them into the first team will be a priority for Leeds after all of the investment in youth this season. Leeds have relied on seasoned players this season, however a lot of the younger players brought in have yet to live up to the hype, and some, like Conor Shaughnessy, have not seemed to progress once the season started.
Heckingbottom has overachieved to a massive extent at Barnsley. You’d probably highlight him as one of the upcoming coaches in the country. Good appointment #lufc— Amitai Winehouse (@awinehouse1) February 5, 2018
People calm down, recently at Barnsley it's been poor for him, but he's had loans and free transfers to deal with, the guy has done wonders at that club, personally my best mate is fuming (Barnsley fan) and hoping it's b*llocks. It's definitely a risk though.#LUFC— RamblingsoftheSS (@_ROTSS_) February 5, 2018
Fans at Barnsely generally seem upset to see him go, especially to a local rival, and other people in football generally think that he’s done a good a job at Barnsley, despite the recent downturn in form. Will he work out at Leeds? He’s got 16 games to prove it to Victor Orta and the fans that he can.