By Mark Rasdall
Leeds United's owner and 'President' has given coach David Hockaday his vote of confidence after two months of a two year contract. He then completely undermined the gesture by admitting that after the defeat at Watford on Saturday, he had decided to sack him.
None of us loyal LUFC fans will know or understand what went through his mind after that other than that he decided to give it 24 hours before executing his plan- something he has 'learned to do.' I also have learned to bite my tongue over the years and (because of my positive, 'cup half full' nature) tried to seek out the positive. I have also been guilty of sending out memos and then emails and texts too quickly without giving them the overnight test that important sentiments should demand. As a writer I have been appalled the next day at the poor grammar and spelling mistakes my passion had conjured up!
And I am passionate. All Leeds United fans are. I was described as an 'older, armchair fan' last week and yet I still go to as many games as I can and am as keen for success this season as any other. Saturday defeats ruin the evenings for both my family and I as they did when I was just a small boy. However, I have become wiser and know that major developments take time. A number of Watford fans wrote on various Leeds forums after the game on Saturday to sympathise with the general frustration we all feel but also to give us salutary reminders of the situation they too faced after their Italian takeover. It took time for that club to be turned round and we are a bigger ship than they ever were.
Fans who felt disrespected by an unknown coach taking over our club have poured out their venom and disgust as we knew they would. They feel vindicated and they are entitled to their views. The bottom line is that anger often comes from fear that more permanent damage is being done to the club above and below the watermark. Certainly that midfield of Tonge, Murphy and Austin (with Norris on the bench) is never going to provide the dribbling, ingenuity or speed to get past players that Hockaday says we need. We have no width but also do not want him to panic as McDermott did by buying two average to awful wingers to address a longstanding problem - probably since Gradel and Snodgrass left, to be honest. We do not want hoofball up to Smith and mindless, reckless tackles will ultimately sink us.
We also want intelligent substitutions to match the situations in hand. On Saturday it did appear that Hockaday did not know what he was doing once Bellusci was sent off.. And yet I am sure he does. All coaches know what to do and which direction to go in (apart from an unfortunate Wallace Arnold experience I had in Manchester some years ago...) but how can you plan for the Bellusci incident? Maybe surprise or panic set in before he recovered his poise? The haters will say that this just proves that we need more experience and that he is out of his depth. Maybe we should allow him to find his feet too and learn how to do better. Each and every one of us can do better if we really try and are given the time to do it. I believe he is trying his best and - regardless of Cellino's vote of confidence - hope he really does get more time.
Contrary to the sensationalist media, Bradford is not a huge game. Yes we want to win it and no we don't want that West Yorkshire cloud over us but it is a Carling Cup tie! It is an opportunity to try things and improve areas where there are problems. I don't mind losing if the team plays well and there are real signs of progress which we can take into the next meaningful game against Bolton.
We actually played pretty well against Watford for large periods, just lacking the creativity to make our passing and possession count. Of course it all went badly wrong - and nobody is going to remember the good stuff - but how some people think a Tony Pulis, fresh from his latest conflict with owners over player transfers, would fit into the Leeds United model is beyond me. Similarly with Gary McAllister who was up there with some of the best midfielders but could, would and should never be a 'yes' man to anybody.
We are hurting but how do you think David Hockaday and his family are feeling? How are the vicious comments or double-edged statements possibly going to help him to prepare our team for Wednesday night? Ultimately he is dispensable and our loyalty remains with Leeds United but let's not forget that sooner or later we are going to have to bite the bullets and 'give peace a chance' or we will remain in the same no-hopers cell as Mark Chapman for at least as many years to come.