LEEDS UNITED have tonight sacked head coach Dave Hockaday after a poor start to the Championship season saw his time in charge ended after just 70 days.
Club president and owner Massimo Cellino revealed on Sunday night that he was going to sack the man he appointed in the summer to succeed Brian McDermott following a dismal 4-1 defeat to Watford at Viarage Road on Saturday.
But 56-year-old Hockaday was granted a reprieve, albeit temporary.
Cellino’s change of heart didn’t last long, with Wednesday night’s 2-1 Capital One Cup defeat to local rivals Bradford City proving the final straw for the beleagured coach, whose appointment proved a puzzle to many of the club’s suppporters, many believeing him to be out of his depth.
Hockaday took training on Thursday morning and was then told to leave the club.
His only previous managerial role had been in the Conference with Forest Green Rovers, was a shock appointment by the club on June 19.
Handed a two-year deal, the former Hull City full-back’s arrival at Elland Road went down badly with United supporters who had been expecting any successor to McDermott to have a proven track record of doing well in the Championship.
For Cellino, though, Hockaday represented someone who could fit into a new managerial structure that would see him and sporting director Nicola Salerno recruit players and leave the club’s head coach to train the squad.
The Leeds owner, who in his time at the helm of Serie A side Cagliari sacked more than 30 managers in 22 years, made it clear at Hockaday’s unveiling that the new man’s duties would largely be confined to the training ground and dugout.
Since then, United have made 11 signings with the vast majority having come from abroad. Just Liam Cooper, Billy Sharp, Nicky Ajose and Stuart Taylor have been recruited from the English game and only Sharp of that quartet started at Vicarage Road.
A 12th signing is on the way, too, with agreement today reached over a £600,000 deal to sign Aarhus midfielder Casper Sloth.
United sit fourth-bottom in the Championship with three points from four games.
Hockaday’s reign matches Brian Clough in terms of being the shortest in games in charge in United’s history – overseeing just six.
Clough famously lasted just 44 days at Leeds. Jock Stein was also manager for 44 days in 1978, when Leeds played 10 league games.
Former Brighton manager Oscar Garcia - who quit the Seagulls at the end of last season – has been installed as the early favourite to succeed Hockaday, currently listed at 6-4 by William Hill.
Others ‘in the frame’ include Gianluca Festa (8-1) – the man who Cellino tried to bring in last year to ‘assist’ then manager McDermott. Former Sunderland and Swindon boss Palo di Canio is listed at 12-1, with former manager David O’Leary – who led the club to the Champions League semi-finals in 2001 – further out at 40-1.