Leeds United boss Hockaday survives Watford debacle

Leeds United head coach David Hockaday.
Leeds United head coach David Hockaday.
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Leeds United head coach David Hockaday remains in charge of the team despite reports at the weekend saying he was set for the sack following the Whites’ 4-1 defeat at Watford.

Owner Massimo Cellino has given Hockaday a lifeline after going to bed to think on the possibility of removing the man he appointed in the summer.

Chants of “you don’t know what you’re doing” and “this club’s too big for you” were aimed at Hockaday by the fans during Saturday’s game in which anything that could go wrong did for United with two men sent off.

Coming on the back of a poor performance against Brighton, it was tough viewing for the fans concerned that Leeds already look like having a relegation fight on their hands this season.

Cellino admitted he was considering responding by removing Hockaday before an official club statement was put out, saying: “In response to recent media speculation the club can confirm that David Hockaday remains the head coach of Leeds United.”

Cellino followed up by saying: “Yes, I decided to sack him. I said ‘he’s finished. But I learned a long time ago to wait on a decision for 24 hours.

“If I fire the coach I should fire myself because I haven’t signed enough good players. How can that be his fault?”

United’s third defeat in four league games saw them fall apart at Watford after holding their hosts for the first hour.

The turning point proved to be a penalty conceded by debutant centre-half Giuseppe Bellusci for a foul on Fernando Forestieri on 57 minutes when the score was 1-1.

Troy Deeney put away the spot kick and to make matters worse Bellusci was shown a red card, meaning Leeds were trailing and down a man for the last half-hour.

They never looked like hitting back and conceded two more goals to Forestieri and Daniel Tozser.

To complete their miserable day they lost a second player to a red card late on when right-back Sam Byram was sent-off for an off-the-ball incident.

United’s team contained two changes from the one that flopped against Brighton with Italians Bellusci and Mirco Antenucci in for Liam Cooper and Matt Smith to make their debuts.

But it was Watford who made the early running and went ahead when Fernando Forestieri headed home after his initial shot was saved by Marco Silvestri.

Leeds surprisingly levelled on 32 minutes as Billy Sharp’s cross was turned into his own net by Gabriel Tamas and they then held their own until that crucial penalty.

Match facts

Watford 4

(Forestieri 20, 67 Deeney 57, pen, Tozser 90+2)

Leeds United 1

(Tamas og 32)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Sky Bet Championship

Attendance: 15,674

Watford: Gomes, Tamas, Angella, Hoban, Paredes (Anya 55), Abdi (Andrews 81), Tozser, Munari, Pudil, Deeney, Forestieri (Ighalo 57).

Leeds; Silvestri, Byram, Bellusci, Pearce, Warnock, Austin, Murphy, Tonge (Poleon 76), Bianchi, Sharp (Cooper 62), Antenucci (Smith 81).

Referee: J Linington.