Cellino backs Hockaday to succeed

19 June 2014 05:17

Leeds president Massimo Cellino said his heart told him he had made the right choice in appointing little-known David Hockaday as the club's new head coach.

Former Forest Green Rovers manager Hockaday, 56, was unveiled at Elland Road on Thursday together with assistant Junior Lewis, 40, a former coach at non-league Hendon, after signing a two-year contract.

Cellino had made good on his promise to install a British coach after parting company with Brian McDermott by mutual consent on May 30, but given the reaction on social media websites it would appear Leeds fans will take some convincing.

Hockaday's only previous managerial experience was at Conference side Forest Green, who he left after a run of seven defeats in eight matches last October.

But Cellino is convinced the option he has taken is the right one for a club which has been outside the top flight since 2004.

"Everyone starts from somewhere," said former Cagliari owner Cellino, 56. "Players start somewhere before they go to the big clubs and the coach? I don't know him, but I think he's a good coach.

"I used to tell journalists in Italy coaches are like watermelons. You don't know what you've got until you open them up.

"So the best way of finding out if he's good is by working with him. I have good feelings. I follow my instinct and my feelings tell me that this is the right man.

"I can be wrong, I don't know, but if he is what he looks, if he's fair like he looks I'd like to help him find quality players."

Former Watford and Southampton coach Hockaday said the club had yet to decide on a specific coaching structure, but Nigel Gibbs, who worked as former boss McDermott's assistant, would be part of the team.

Cellino said it was now time to start putting a squad together and with pre-season training scheduled to start next Thursday, Hockaday, who revealed players were already lined up, must hit the ground running.

"Sometimes when you choose someone you must face that you can make a mistake," Cellino said.

"Sometimes I didn't fire the coach because I wanted to protect my choice. That's more dangerous.

"But I can do that because I have to look after the interest of the club, not the interest of my pride, my choice, my ego.

"To do that I must be sure when I take a coach that it is something I feel inside my heart."

Cellino spent 22 years as owner of Cagliari before selling them to Italian company Fluorsid Group for £36million earlier this month.

He added: "I could have taken a big name and showed off. But then what would happen?

"I can ask Mourinho to come here and give him £30million, maybe he'd come for that money.

"Sometimes to make the fans and the press happy it's easy to give them a big name, but it kills the club.

"You have to pay big wages, big money to get the same results, so I think my knowledge and experience help me to know what I'm doing."

Hockaday appeared unfazed after making his giant leap and said both he and the Leeds players would have to earn each other's respect.

"I've been given a great opportunity and I'm going to take this opportunity with both hands and one thing nobody can ever accuse me of is a lack of hard work and I believe I'm a good coach," Hockaday said.

"The president believes I'm a good coach and people out there who have obviously recommended me believe I'm a good coach and I'm going to prove that."

When asked if Leeds players would be surprised by his appointment the former Blackpool and Swindon defender said: "Ask them after the first day after they've seen me coach.

"That's what I do and I'm comfortable with that."

Source: PA