Leeds United: Hockaday targeting more key additions

PLAYING TO HIS STRENGTHS: Leeds United head coach David Hockaday.
PLAYING TO HIS STRENGTHS: Leeds United head coach David Hockaday.
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WOUNDED from an opening-day defeat at Millwall, David Hockaday knows full well that Leeds United’s first XI needs strengthening.

“There will be new additions,” he vows, but, at this stage, the head coach cannot say much more.

Indeed, the reality is that Hockaday might not even know who those new recruits are.

But that’s just fine with United’s man in the dugout who says he’s perfectly happy to let the club’s president and sporting director source new signings for Leeds United Football Club.

Hockaday, 56, has overseen seven new summer signings at Leeds in British recruits Nicky Ajose and Stuart Taylor plus foreign imports Tommaso Bianchi, Marco Silvestri, Gaetano Berardi, Souleymane Doukara and Zan Benedicic.

The latter quintet had United’s fans utilising Google and Wikipedia and honest-talking Hockaday will not pretend to be an expert when it comes to the European Leagues and by and large Serie A and B.

Italian club president Massimo Cellino and sporting director Nicolas Salerno were the men behind United’s quintet of foreign recruits and it is highly likely that similar signings will follow.

But that sits fine with Hockaday who says such a transfer policy works wonders all over Europe, with the Whites head coach hoping for similar success under its implementation at Elland Road.

Hockaday says it’s “obvious” where United need strengthening which first and foremost means in the centre of defence and up front.

The club have only two recognised centre-backs in Jason Pearce and Scott Wootton while in the attacking department the Whites lack a prolific goal-scorer following the summer sale of Ross McCormack to Fulham.

Among others, Hockaday needs a sharp-shooter and a strong central defender and is on the lookout for such recruits – as are Cellino and Salerno.

Such is the way United’s new transfer system operates, it is likely that Cellino or Salerno will produce the goods from foreign shores with a name that, as yet, Hockaday might not have heard of.

It is a situation new to Elland Road and one that, for fans, will take some getting used to.

Yet Hockaday believes United’s new approach is the way forward with the former Forest Green Rovers boss happy to let the club’s Italian influence recruit players, allowing him to concentrate on his bread and butter of being United’s head coach.

Hockaday told the YEP: “The president and myself have chatted and we both know that we need to strengthen and we agree on this.

“And that’s as far as my involvement goes because I will coach the players that are signed at Leeds United Football Club.

“The president and the football director – Nicolas Salerno – it becomes their job to go and get the players and I’m really comfortable with that as this is what happens all over the world apart from England where we have the managerial structure.

“But more and more teams now in this country are using a head coach who is responsible for what goes on on the field. Then the rest of the stuff is left to the experts who have identified where they need to strengthen.

“Those people will go out and they will strengthen.

“It’s quite refreshing for me because I’m a coach and that’s where I feel my skill set is.

“I’m not a great negotiator and I don’t know all the players around the world.

“I know the players in this country well and I will recommend players that I know but these people are more experienced at what they do than I am. It’s part of the deal that they do that. This is what works all around the world and it’s happening now at Leeds. I’m very, very comfortable with it and I don’t want to get involved in the signing of players and the negotiating of contracts. That’s not my skill set.

“I will say ‘we need a central defender’ so they will go out and get the best central defender. They will go and get the best player they can for the best price.

“That’s the business, that’s how it is but every player that comes in, I know about them before they come in. And every player I recommend, the president and Nicolas Salerno do their homework on.”

That approach gives Hockaday more room to do his homework on United’s opposition.

It is part of the reason why the head coach was so disappointed with Saturday’s 2-0 loss at Millwall.

But Hockaday has promised improvement at United with the head coach continually driven to reward the club’s passionate fans.

“The Leeds United fans never cease to amaze me and they are just so passionate about the club,” said Hockaday.

“We’re also passionate to give them some success and we know we are in the early stages of building.

“I know that’s not what the fans want to hear but it’s where we are and I’ve got the team of players that I’ve got who I will coach to the best of my ability. And we’ll get better and better.”

Key to that progress will be adding the right recruits in the last three weeks of the summer transfer window, whether it be Cellino, Salerno or Hockaday who sources such arrivals. And however summer signing numbers eight, nine and 10 are unearthed, Hockaday has promised they will be the right additions to Leeds United Football Club.

“We know that we need to strengthen and that’s what we’re working on but it’s not as easy as people think,” said Hockaday.

“We don’t want to panic and bring players in just for the sake of bringing them in – and we won’t be held to ransom.

“We need to make sure we get the right players in but there will be additions and, in the next few weeks, there will be new faces at Elland Road.”

Matthew Pennington.

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