New Leeds United head coach David Hockaday vowed to ride criticism of his appointment and win the respect of the club’s players and fans, saying: “I’ll prove myself here.”
The 56-year-old took charge of United’s first-team squad on a two-year deal yesterday and said he would overcome public doubt about his ability to make a success of the job at Elland Road.
Hockaday, who will be assisted by former Hull City midfielder Junior Lewis, is due to meet Leeds’ players for the first time next week with pre-season scheduled to start on Thursday.
The former Forest Green Rovers manager, who has been out of football since October, said: “Nobody gives you respect. If I’m a big name or a little name, I have to earn respect. So I’ll earn (the players’) respect and they’ll have to earn mine. It’s a mutual thing.
“I came to Leeds as a player and an opponent and it was a horrible place to play, a tough place. I know the Leeds fans want hard work, honesty, passion and hunger. That’s my job and that’s what I’ll give them.”
Hockaday’s appointment by owner Massimo Cellino caused astonishment among United’s supporters, with 85 per cent of YEP readers opposing his selection in an online poll.
But a confident Hockaday said: “I’ve been given a great opportunity and I’ll take it with both hands. One thing that no-one will ever accuse me of is a lack of hard work.
“I believe I’m a good coach, the president (Cellino) believes I’m a good coach so I’m going to prove that.”