Leeds United: Heckingbottom urges ‘no-fear’ approach

Paul Heckingbottom.
Paul Heckingbottom.
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head coach Paul Heckingbottom is urging his Leeds United side to adopt a “no-fear approach” whatever the opposition with the Whites chief admitting he is “jealous” of high-flying teams such as Tuesday night’s conquerors Fulham.

Heckingbottom will look to land his third win as Whites head coach when second-bottom Sunderland arrive at Elland Road today with United approaching the fixture following Tuesday night’s 2-0 loss at Craven Cottage.

Paul Heckingbottom leaves the field at Fulham.

Paul Heckingbottom leaves the field at Fulham.

That victory left Fulham third and just five points off the automatic promotion places with a 13-point gap to those teams outside of the play-offs.

Leeds, meanwhile sit 13th in the Championship with their season already essentially over with the Whites 10 points behind the top six with just half a dozen games remaining.

Heckingbottom admits the aim is to be in a similar position to Fulham this time next year and the head coach is calling on his players to adopt a cavalier attitude to get them there.

“I’m jealous of where Fulham are and what they are doing,” admitted Heckingbottom.

“We want to be in those sorts of positions and playing in atmospheres like that every week but for us chasing the top six places.

“The approach the other night is how we want to approach games going forward, home or away, against the top of the league or the bottom of the league, play with a no-fear approach that lets the players express themselves.

“You need wins and we need belief and the wins help with the belief. But the players have to believe because that is what makes the difference in big moments.

“Otherwise you can become a team that plays well and wins every now and again, performing well and a steady team in the league but you are not going to end up a winner. So you have to believe in everything you do, with the ball and without the ball and really commit to it.”

Leeds will be looking for back-to-back victories at Elland Road today having seen off relegation battling Bolton Wanderers through a 2-1 verdict on Good Friday. But Heckingbottom is warning that Sunderland could offer a real threat despite sitting second bottom and eight points off safety, despite last Good Friday’s 4-1 win at Derby County. “They scored four and they were really good value for that as well,” said Heckingbottom.

“They could have won by more. We know they have got good players in their side and I think that’s why everyone is talking about them so much because I know the squad and the players, where they have been and the levels they have played at but they find themselves near the bottom of the league. On their day, like they have shown, they can be a real dangerous team, they have just not done it often enough.”

“We have to prepare for that and we also have to prepare for the mentality as we have in the last two.

“Bolton were scrapping for the points for the same reason and Fulham were scrambling for points for a totally different reason.

“But it makes for good atmospheres and good games and intense games so you can’t just go through the motions or you will come unstuck.

“We are expecting exactly the same, we will have the same approach but we want three points.”