Victor Orta shares why Leeds recruited Paul Heckingbottom
Leeds director of football Victor Orta has opened up on the decision to recruit Paul Heckingbottom as manager midway through the 17/18 season.
He replaced Thomas Christiansen, who came in at the start of the season before being sacked after 35 games in charge.
Christiansen’s reign saw him get off to a brilliant start with six wins, two draws and just one loss in the first nine Championship games.
Leeds soared to the top of the league only to come crashing down just as fast. Christiansen ended with a record of 15 wins and 14 losses from his 35 games in charge.
Heckingbottom came from Barnsley who he’d got promoted to the Championship before finishing ninth in the 16/17 season.
Heckingbottom did even worse than Christiansen, winning just four, drawing four and losing eight of his 16 games in charge. He was sacked in the summer on June 1, 2018, just two weeks before Marcelo Bielsa came in.
Talking on the Training Ground Guru podcast, Orta was asked about why Leeds went for Heckingbottom.
“I think Paul was making a good job in the category [Championship],” said Orta, “and in this moment we thought Thomas was perhaps not taking to the situation about the English football.
“And perhaps Paul with this knowledge of this football will help, at this level.
“When you make these quick decisions you have to have quick reactions.
“When you have four or five days to take a decision you can’t evaluate all the small decisions. But Paul is now doing a good job in Scotland. This was a quick decision.”
Heckingbottom seemed out his depth at Leeds, although he inherited a squad that wasn’t his own and he didn’t have much time to turn it around.
Was it unfair to dismiss him? When Leeds ended up with Marcelo Bielsa instead it looks like one of the best decisions they’ve ever made.
The moral of the story might be to not make quick decisions about something so fundamental to the success of the club.
Orta and Andrea Radrizzani got it right in the end, at least.