New Leeds United manager Paul Heckingbottom has pinpointed a ‘fear factor’ as a major reason behind the club’s recent failures.
The 40-year-old former Barnsley manager was appointed as Thomas Christiansen’s replacement last week after the Dane was sacked following a dismal run of seven games without a win.
Heckingbottom’s reign did not get off to the best start as the Whites fell to a 2-1 Yorkshire derby defeat to Sheffield United on Saturday.
As quoted by the Daily Mail, Heckingbottom said: “There were lots of things in there that we don’t want to see in our team. There is a bit of apprehension out there. It’s my job to give them that freedom and take the pressure off them.
“The last thing we want is anyone being stifled, not being able to express themselves. You can do that by lifting the fear factor. We want to build something to make us better over a long time. The bigger picture is getting the players to commit to how we play going forwards.”
A run of eight games without a win has now left Leeds in 11th in the Championship, sitting eight points behind sixth-placed Bristol City with 15 games remaining in the league season.
Heckingbottom’s next test is against Bristol on Sunday at Elland Road, as he takes charge of his first home game as Whites boss.
It is no wonder that there is a ‘fear factor’ surrounding the club, as they have consistently fallen down the table into a precarious position. The club’s lightning start to the season has actually come back to bite them as the mounting draws and losses since then have taken their toll. There is no doubt that Heckingbottom has a massive task on his hands in the coming months, with several massive matches against fellow promotion hopefuls approaching. However, if he does manage to get the club playing more freely, then that will work in their favour as they take points from others looking to climb the table.