Another season is winding down and Leeds Utd fans could be forgiven for greeting the final game of the season with sheer apathy.
Optimism abounded at the start of the campaign after the club spent £25 million on new players following the sale of top scorer Chris Wood. That was a blow, but the arrivals of players like Adam Forshaw, Pontus Jansson and Samu Saiz should have made up for it. Yet the team underwhelmed and a seven-game winless run cost Thomas Christiansen his job after just eight months in charge.
The arrival of Paul Heckingbottom has not exactly galvanised the struggling squad and now he could be on his way out after an even shorter tenure.
Rumours abound that he will soon be relieved of his duties, and he has had to publicly deny that he will be sacked. But his record has been dreadful, and his appointment did not exactly get the pulses racing in the first place. He only had 19 months’ managerial experience under his belt and, despite guiding Barnsley to an impressive ninth place in the Championship last year, he lacked the requisite calibre to really excite the Elland Road faithful. He was given the benefit of the doubt, but his reign has been disappointing.
Christiansen won 16, drew five and lost 14 out of his 35 games in charge and was dismissed, with justification.
Heckingbottom has won three, drawn four and lost eight, with a far worse points per game record and a -11 goal difference, compared to Christiansen’s +9. It is never easy to take over an ailing side in the middle of a testing campaign, but Leeds have gone backwards. He has now been in charge for a couple of months, but there are no signs of results improving.
The club now finds itself at an interesting crossroads: stick with Heckingbottom and give him a transfer window at the club, allowing him to put his stamp on the team, leading them into a new campaign with the slate wiped clean; or twist and scour the country for a new man. Some intriguing names have recently been linked with the job, including Marco Silva and Chris Coleman.
The former is surely wishful thinking, but Coleman could be an interesting option. He was always doomed at the circus that is Sunderland, but he could do a better job at a more stable club like Leeds. He achieved success and plenty of plaudits with Fulham and Wales, and he will be keen to rebuild his reputation. He is unlikely to land a Premiership job now, and Leeds could capitalise by giving him a springboard and putting trust in his to lead them back to the top flight.
This may all be on Andrea Radrizzani’s mind as he watches Leeds’ final game of the season, which takes place at Elland Road at 12.30pm on Sunday. QPR are the visitors, and they are in a similar situation to Leeds, marooned in the bottom half of the Championship following a disappointing campaign.
Both teams are clear of the relegation fight, and there is nothing but pride to play for. Leeds are the favourites to win the game, and it gives Heckingbottom a chance to end the season on a high, to strike a note of vague optimism ahead of the summer.
If you are looking to take advantage of the odds look at a Ladbrokes review before wagering on game. If Leeds lose, it could pile more pressure on the manager, leaving him facing an uncomfortable end of season review with Radrizzani.
There may be apathy in the stands, but there should be plenty of angst in the dugout, with Heckingbottom hoping he is given the chance to overhaul this squad in the summer.