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What does Paul Heckingbottom need to do to be a success at Leeds United?

Clearly, things have been going wrong at Leeds. What are the areas that the new manager has to change to be a success?

Barnsley v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

The appointment of Paul Heckingbottom from Barnsley FC as Leeds United manager has been met with a mixed response by Leeds fans. Although it is fair to say opinion of the appointment has improved as the fans get used to the idea. His rather uninspiring record of 1 win in his last 16 games at Barnsley is a worry, but his record last season before January (when most of his best players were sold) was impressive where he got them up to 8th in the Championship on a shoestring budget.

Everyone will give him a chance now he has the job, but what are the key things that the new manager has to address in order to get the fans on his side and try to improve Leeds form?

Sort out the discipline issues

Four red cards in five games is not a coincidence. Something was wrong in the Leeds United camp. This needs to be addressed immediately by Heckingbottom as the squad is already down to the bare bones, and in defence down to the bone marrow. The team had the look of a pissed-off side leading me to think that the dreaded phrase of “lost the dressing room” may well have applied to Thomas Christiansen, hopefully this is addressed.

Be more flexible

One of TC’s main downfalls and the cause of much consternation for the Leeds fanbase was his inability to change from his beloved 4231 formation. Unless you are Wolverhampton Wanderers, you have to be willing to adjust your game plan when playing against some of the better sides in the division, and this is something that Christiansen did not do. Leeds have lost the midfield battle in far too many matches this season and Heckingbottom must be willing to adjust. Whether this is dropping an extra man into central midfield, or any number of options, he must be seen by the fans to not be sitting there and allowing the game to pass Leeds United by.

Leeds record coming from behind this season is absolutely dreadful, so the ability to change a game is something which TC clearly lacked and and the fans will be looking for the new manager to improve us on that front.

Get the best out of our inconsistent players

For all his faults, Pierre-Michel Lasogga has the ability to be a real threat to Championship defenders and at times he has shown it. If we can give him some decent service, and stop trying to use him as a target man, I am sure we can get him to score goals in this season. He is never going to be the most consistent player, but if Heckingbottom can make him less isolated in our system he can be more effective and that can only help us.

There are also issues with the form/consistency of players like Ezgjan Alioski, Kemar Roofe, and (lately) Ronaldo Vieira. If Leeds are going to have any chance of getting back up to the play-offs it is vital that the players we have are at their best and we play to their strengths.

Find a way to get through our defensive crisis

We cannot panic if Leeds have a poor start under Heckingbottom. He is inheriting a team with two fit first team defenders (De Bock and Pennington), with Liam Cooper/Gaetano Berardi suspended, and Pontus Jansson/Conor Shaughnessy/Luke Ayling injured. It will be a measure of the new managers ability to deal with a crisis when we see how well he deals with this situation.

He will be aided by the returns from suspension of Eunan O’Kane and Kalvin Phillips in midfield but if he finds a plan to get us through the next few games with some points on the board it will bode well for his future in the job, and will gain him some real credit with the fans.