The situation with David Hockaday last weekend was pretty messy and very public but I honestly wonder how often that happens at other clubs in the Championship.
Leeds United have an owner who is open with his views and by his own admission he was going to sack his head coach after Saturday’s defeat to Watford.
It’s strange to hear someone say that in public but Massimo Cellino won’t be the first man to lose patience with a coach one day and then change his mind the next.
My reading of what happened at Vicarage Road is that Cellino reacted straight away to the frustration of a game which Leeds shouldn’t have lost. Before Giuseppe Bellusci’s red card, the team looked better and were playing more football. One crazy moment ruined the afternoon and emotions understandably ran high.
The reality with Cellino is that he’s obsessed with the idea of making a success of Leeds, and he’s taking all of the pressure on his shoulders. It’s easy to under-estimate the stress and the worry that must cause him – but easy to understand too why each and every poor result must come as a kick in the teeth. Every loss feels like a setback.
He would have been raging on Saturday but no doubt he went home, thought about the situation and realised that sacking Hockaday wasn’t fair. It’ll be dawning on Cellino that the Championship is a seriously tough division, perhaps the most competitive league in Europe, and you can’t just walk in and take it by storm.
I’m sure that’s what he wanted to do but, in truth, Cellino doesn’t know this league and he’s finding out about it fast. It’s unforgiving and packed with clubs who genuinely think they’ve got a chance of promotion. You’re talking about a pack of 10, 12 or maybe 14 who could potentially go up – and sticking with them takes a lot of stamina and ability.
Are we in that bracket at the moment? Probably not. Cellino seems to be admitting that himself.
So targeting the coach is not necessarily a way of addressing the main issue. Hockaday hasn’t had long at Elland Road, although I don’t believe that any manager should expect a set period of time to make a go of his job.
From the moment you come in, particularly under a new owner, it’s imperative that things progress and move forward. You don’t have to take massive steps forward immediately but you can’t stand still either. It’s a results business and we’ve lost three of our first four league games – so in fairness, Hockaday’s job is hardly going to be one of the more secure in the Championship.
People pretend that Cellino is different to everyone else but Huddersfield Town sacked Mark Robins after one match of the season.
Granted, he’d been in his post for a while longer but how much patience was shown there?
Who knows how many other owners have been ready to wield the axe already but then changed their minds overnight. Fulham? Bolton? You simply don’t know because those conversations usually happen behind closed doors.
I’d equate Cellino’s mood last weekend to a player who strikes out at someone on the pitch and then regrets what he’s done two minutes later.
The heat of the moment is often the worst time to act but also the time when you’re most likely to act. Then the red mist lifts and things look different.
I feel sorry for Hockaday because it’s never nice to read detrimental things about yourself in the newspaper.
But in saying that, this is a great job for him and it could be a big step up the ladder in terms of his profile.
He’s been written off by outsiders on the basis of his previous career but it’s pretty obvious that he’s going to be judged on results here – and in that respect he’s no different to half of the managers in the league.
They say that Cellino has no patience but you wait and see how many clubs have changed their boss by the time the season ends.
The trouble with Leeds is that they’re always big news. Stories about our club are always bigger than stories about most other clubs, even if they amount to the same thing.
There are ways of avoiding bad publicity but I don’t believe that Cellino’s reaction to the Watford result was out of the ordinary.
This is a game of raw emotion and Leeds are a club who he’s staked everything on.
In the past few days he’s probably realised that the job at Elland Road is even bigger than he thought.