Leeds United’s new head coach Paul Heckingbottom spoke to the press today for the first time since his switch from Yorkshire rivals Barnsley on Monday. The Barnsley-born Heckingbottom spoke on his choice to join Leeds, and what players and fans can expect from his time in charge.
Discussing his two year stint as Barnsley manager, Heckingbottom said he had an “unbelievable time – first as a player, then a coach and then in charge. We had some great times, tough times and emotional times.”
“I have family who are Barnsley so I understand. But I have friends who understood why I left. It’s a fresh start for them now.
“There has been plenty of speculation and I said all along I didn’t really want to leave, but this time everything felt right.”
“When a team is successful everyone is aligned. Owners and the staff, the fans and the club. Everyone has a role to play, the fans being the most important.”
Thomas Christiansen left Leeds United last week, leaving the club in 10th place with just one league win in seven: “I think we have got some real strengths here” said Heckingbottom, “What I want to do is what the owners want to do, it suits me. It will be about how I see us playing, how I see us training every day and preparing.
“One thing you have to have in this league is consistency. There’s no reason why we can’t find that. We are going to rise up the table but ultimately we want to build a way of playing.”
After signing a new deal with Barnsley just four days before his appointment at Leeds, Heckingbottom has just eighteen months on his contract at Leeds: “It’s not an issue. All that it’s worth is the severance payment and the compensation. If I’m successful the club will want to keep me, if I’m not they won’t.”
His first game comes on Saturday and it’s a trip to Bramall Lane to face the 8th placed Sheffield United: “It is an opportunity for those that are available. Those who I can pick are in a position to impress me. I know what this game means to the fans, I enjoy the derbies especially.”
The fixture poses a tough start to life at Leeds for Hecky, but the Yorkshireman seems ready for the task up ahead.