“work hard. show hunger. and improve”: hockaday’s first interview transcriptBack
Dave Hockaday has been officially unveiled as Head Coach of Leeds United.
The club confirmed that Hockaday had gone from being sacked by Forest Green Rovers of the Conference to manager of Leeds United Football Club in a statement this lunchtime, followed by a press conference.
They also posted a ten minute interview with Hockaday by LUTV commentator Thom Kirwin on the LUTV channel, recorded yesterday, which gives Leeds fans our first detailed insight into the thinking behind Hockaday’s appointment, how he will work with Massimo Cellino – sorry, "the President" – his plans for the team, and his character.
The first impressions are of a man whose self-confidence far outstrips his achievements. He describes himself as unsurprised to have landed the Leeds job, as he "ticks all the boxes" and that after "forty years in pro football. Forty years. Man and boy" he is "ready" to be Head Coach of Leeds United – despite those forty years comprising a playing career spent mainly in the lower divisions with Blackpool and Swindon, and one managerial job ending in failure at Forest Green Rovers.
Hockaday also claims that he will be involved with transfers alongside Massimo Cellino, and describes their relationship as "the most important relationship … We seem to have struck up a really good bond, working relationship, and that’s how it has to continue."
Hockaday says Cellino has set no specific targets for the season ahead, other than: "Work hard. Show hunger. And improve."
The biggest insight we have so far into Hockaday’s character comes at the end, when Thom asks Dave if he has what it takes to succeed at Leeds. "Yeah," says Hockaday. "Otherwise you wouldn’t be here, I guess?" asks Thom.
"Otherwise I wouldn’t be here."
The full transcript of the interview is posted below so Leeds fans can start to get to grips with Dave Hockaday.
Thom Kirwin: Congratulations on your role here at Leeds United – how are you feeling?
Dave Hockaday: Excited. And ready to start work.
For some, who have already commented on the appointment, they’re saying it’s a little bit of a surprise. Is it a surprise to you to find yourself here at Leeds?
Is it a surprise? It isn’t, because of my background, and the fact that I’m a very experienced coach, and obviously I was twenty years a player. And the fact that the president wants an experienced British coach, then I seem to tick all the boxes. At the end of the day I’ve been given this great opportunity and I intend to take it with both hands.
Can you give us an idea of the timeframe of how this came about?
If I tried to do that you’d think I was crazy. At the end of the day I’ve met with the President, he was very happy with what I said, and we shook hands on a deal. So a whirlwind romance if you like. It was quick.
What do you think he has seen in you to put his trust and his faith in you?
I think he’s done his homework – I know he’ll have done his homework. He’s a very successful businessman, he’s a very shrewd operator in football circles, so he’s done his homework. And he asked me a lot – it was all football. There was nothing to do with anything other than football players, tactics, on a table, with everything – so it was purely football, and I have to say I was impressed with his knowledge of the game.
And what about the challenge for you, after leaving Forest Green Rovers, you’ve obviously been keen to get back into the game but what a challenge ahead?
It is. My journey has not just involved Forest Green. I’ve been at other clubs and I’m sure you’ll do your homework. The last six months I’ve done a lot of homework on the Championship specifically and I’ve been to a lot of clubs who have been very good with me, because I know a lot of people out there. And I’ve got myself back in the groove, if you like, and I’m raring to go. And I’ve been given an incredible opportunity, y’know, I’m not daft. But as I say, the man’s done his homework and he’s chosen me. I’m honoured, and I’ll give everything to the cause.
You’ve come here as a Head Coach, which is a bit of a new structure for Leeds United. From your point of view what exactly is that going to involve, and how does that differ from being a manager?
My remit is purely the players. Everything that goes on on the training pitch, everything that goes on on the football pitch. And that’s it, it’s as simple as that. And that suits me, because I’m a coach, that’s my passion, that’s my drive, it’s what makes me tick. Everything that goes on in training, all the tactics, all the fitness, you’re managing players to a degree anyway, you’re going to do a lot more than that in the current climate, and then it’s managing the game on a Saturday. But it’s just being a – coaching. And for me, it makes sense.
Will you have input on transfers, both players in and out?
Yeah, I’ve already talked to the President about a number of players and a number of positions that we’ve identified where we need to strengthen, so there will be changes. Everybody at the club will be given their opportunities. I’m looking forward to meeting the players. I’m looking forward to seeing the hunger in their eyes because everything that I believe in and everything that the President believes in, it’s about having people on and off the park who are hungry and who have a great work ethic, and that’s going to be a must. And if they haven’t got that, then this is the wrong place for them.
From the sounds of it the relationship you’re going to have with Massimo Cellino is going to be absolutely crucial isn’t it?
I think obviously in this country you say chairman and manager; at Leeds, it’s the President and the Head Coach. And it is the most important relationship, and we have to get on. And when we disagree, because we will, then we have to have the confidence in each other to work it out, which we will. We seem to have struck up a really good bond, working relationship, and that’s how it has to continue.
What can you tell us about the rest of the structure, any staff that might be coming in with you and how that’s all going to work?
Well, first day, so I’ve got my assistant, Junior Lewis, will come with me. Other than that we have the staff that we have. And again, like the players everybody has to be given a fair chance. I think gone are the days when a manager brings in ten or twelve staff, I don’t understand that. There are people here who know the workings of the club, who know the minds of the players, who are loyal to the football club. And just because the head is chopped off and a new head’s put on, you don’t replace the rest of the body. So everybody will be given a fair crack.
What has Massimo Cellino stressed to you about targets this year or things he wants to see from the work you’re going to do here?
Work hard. Show hunger. And improve. And with all due respect 15th in the league isn’t good enough for Leeds United. We all know that. So, improve.
I’m not going to try and make you make statements like, ‘It’s going to be top six this year,’ but has that been discussed at any point really, about pushing up towards the top end of the table?
Nothing… the President is here to take the pressure off my back. Those are his words. He’s here to run everything, I’m here to look after the players, the team. So no pressure is going to be applied on me. Obviously I want to win every game, that’s inbred in me. You want to win your next game. But no targets have been set other than, we have to improve. And we have to show signs of improvement. And we want to play a certain way, we want it to be attractive football, but we want it to be winning football.
I was going to ask that next, about your style, your ethos on the game and how you see this Leeds United team shaping up?
I think you have to be flexible, I have my thoughts on how I want it to play, I want it to be a passing game, at the end of the day it has to be a winning, passing game, and I think we’re seeing in the World Cup now that a lot of games are being won by the team that’s got less than 50% possession. So it has to be a winning combination, and I need to look at the players, judge the players, see who can fit into what slots, and I can’t come here and go ‘I want to play 4-3-3’ if the players don’t merit playing the 4-3-3 if they’re going to be better in a diamond or whatever. So there’s a lot of work to be done, but I want to get the ball down and I want to play football.
The players are due back next week, so do you feel like there’s an element of playing catch up here in terms of signings and getting everything sorted and ready for the season? Because before you know it, it’s going to be here.
It is what it is. I’ve been given a great opportunity, it’s happened today, so I’m working – today. And I’ll be here til… they throw me out. And that’s how it’s going to be for as long as I’m here.
How proud are you to be here at Leeds United in this role, considering the history of the club – obviously that’s something that you’ll be aware of – but does that come into your thinking as well as the pressure and expectation?
It’s a massive club. I can go on and on, and I can eulogise about Leeds United, everybody knows what Leeds United is about. Proud doesn’t even come close to how I feel. So I will give this club everything I’ve got.
What would you say to the fans, David, who maybe with all due respect haven’t heard too much about you, maybe are doubting your pedigree – what would you say to the supporters?
Get behind the team. Get behind the team. This team, my team, our team, will give them everything, they’ll be hungry, they’re going to have a great work ethic. I don’t want any team, any opposing team, to outwork us. I don’t want any opposing team to be hungrier than us. I don’t want any other team to come here and need to win more than we do. Get behind the team.
How far are you in the plans in terms of players coming in and maybe players moving, do you expect movement to happen pretty quickly here?
That’s something that I’ll need to talk to the President about, it’s my first day, getting my feet in, just put my slippers on. So I need to find out the contracts of players, I need to find out who’s happy here, who’s not. I really need to meet the players and that’s not until a week’s time, so in a week’s time I think I’ll be more able to answer that question.
I guess that would go the same for the pre-season schedule and those things?
Pre-season, we’re working on it now, because of what’s happened before, because of previous events, and that’s just how it was, pre-season, there isn’t a pre-season. So in the next few days I’ll be organising, with the people here, a pre-season, a thorough pre-season. We’re obviously going to Italy for two weeks, we’ll be playing a couple of games over there, and then we need to organise some fixtures for when we get back so that when the referee blows the whistle on the 9th, that we are ready.
How much are you looking forward to that, the fixtures have been announced today and it’s a tasty opener away to Millwall.
It’s the Championship. And so home or away, it’s just going to be a great fixture. People can say we’ve got a good start, we’ve got a bad start, they’re all tough games. We need to put our flag down and say we’re Leeds United, we’re serious about this league, we’re going to be competitive, and if you’re going to do anything against us you’re going to have to earn it.
Do you feel you’ve got what it takes to make a real go of it here?
Otherwise you wouldn’t be here, I guess?
Otherwise I wouldn’t be here. No, I’m up for this. I’ve coached – this is my fortieth year in pro football. Forty years. Man and boy. So I’m up for this, I’m ready for it, yeah.
And I suppose the big carrot as always here is if you make a success of it here, it is a huge club to be part of with great momentum once it gets going.
Again. I can eulogise as much as you want about Leeds United. To win the first game here, and to get momentum, and to get the ball rolling, I can’t wait. I can’t wait.