David Hockaday vowed to fight on in his job as Leeds United head coach and said he would take training as planned today after a League Cup defeat at Bradford City heaped more pressure on his shoulders.
Hockaday blamed discipline and bad luck for a second-round loss at Valley Parade but quickly turned his attention to Saturday’s clash with Bolton Wanderers amid mounting doubts about his future at Elland Road.
United owner Massimo Cellino dramatically abandoned a plan to sack Hockaday over the weekend but Leeds were beaten 2-1 by Bradford last night after losing Luke Murphy to a first-half red card. Hockaday’s side snatched an unlikely advantage through Matt Smith eight minutes from time but quick replies from Billy Knott and James Hanson gave Bradford their first victory over United at Valley Parade since 1932.
Cellino was present at the game but left the ground shortly after Hanson’s close-range header secured Bradford’s win.
Hockaday voiced his disappointment at City’s late fightback but said: “My emotion is one of determination. I’m not a quitter, I’m a fighter.
“I just feel that for myself and my team things aren’t going our way. In the dressing room they’re devastated – and yet they’re all saying ‘we’ll turn this around.’
“We’re looking at Bolton on Saturday and we’ll be in (for training) today. We’re getting some bad press at the moment, some of it self-inflicted, but anyone looking at those white shirts knows we’ve put a shift in.”
Asked if he was confident of being in charge for the Bolton game, Hockaday – whose side are 21st in the Championship – said: “I’m in (today) and we’ll be recovering. That’s my job and that’s what I’ll be doing.
“I’ve got a job to do and I’ll keep on doing it.
“The players are behind me as can be seen. But the sooner we win a game, move on and start getting momentum, the better.”
Hockaday described Murphy’s dismissal for two yellow cards – incurred by rash tackles on eight and 30 minutes – as “totally out of character”.
“My players didn’t let me down,” he said. “One player did something totally out of character and gave us a mountain to climb. But as the game went on we got stronger and stronger and when we got the goal, I thought we were getting our just desserts.”
League Cup third round draw: Chelsea v Bolton, Arsenal v Southampton, West Brom v Hull, Crystal Palace v Newcastle, Leyton Orient v Sheff Utd,Cardiff v Bournemouth, Sunderland v Stoke , Derby v Reading, Liverpool v Middlesbrough, MK Dons v Bradford, Man City v Sheff Wed, Burton v Brighton, Swansea v Everton, Shrewsbury v Norwich, Fulham v Doncaster, Tottenham v Nottm Forest. Ties to be played on September 23-24.