LEEDS UNITED owner Massimo Cellino last night sacked head coach David Hockaday after 70 days in charge.
Hockaday’s demise followed United’s Capital One Cup exit at Bradford City on Wednesday.
The axe fell less than a week after Cellino had pledged to give the 56-year-old an opportunity to vindicate his appointment beyond the end of the transfer window.
The search for Hockaday’s replacement starts today with former West Bromwich Albion manager Steve Clarke a serious candidate for the post.
Rolando Maran , out of work since leaving Serie A club Catania last year – is also being linked with the Elland Road post.
On Saturday night Hockaday seemed certain to be told he was no longer required at Leeds after their 4-1 defeat to Watford led to Cellino informing senior officials at United that they should prepare for his exit.
United’s owner unexpectedly did a U-turn and chose to keep on Hockaday after a two-hour discussion with him on Sunday afternoon.
He took charge for Wednesday’s League Cup second-round tie at Bradford, which Leeds lost 2-1, and oversaw training at Thorp Arch yesterday morning. But he was later dismissed after a meeting with Cellino at Elland Road. Hockaday’s assistant, Junior Lewis, has also left his post.
Academy manager Neil Redfearn has been placed in caretaker charge for tomorrow’s game against Bolton Wanderers.
On Sunday, Cellino had revealed his intention to dispense with Hockaday, but added that “in my life I’ve learned that with your decisions, take 24 hours. Why should I blame the coach? The squad isn’t finished and that is my fault”.
By yesterday he had decided culpability did lie with Hockaday.
The Italian said last night: “The results since the start of the season have meant we needed to act and make this decision.
“After the defeat at Bradford I realised that my decision to keep David at the club following the defeat at Watford was wrong and I had to change my mind.”
Hockaday was appointed as head coach by Leeds on June 19, a surprising choice as replacement for Brian McDermott. Unemployed since leaving Forest Green Rovers last October, he had no major profile in the professional game.
Leeds have claimed just three points from their first four games of the league season and sit 21st in the Championship.
Cellino has given no indication as to a possible replacement.
for Hockaday but it is understood that Clarke – the former Chelsea and Liverpool assistant – is among several candidates being considered.
Clarke was West Brom manager for a year and a half in the Premier League before being sacked in December of last year.
Maran left his job at Catania last October. The 51-year-old has managed teams in Italy, mainly in the lower leagues, and guided Catania to their highest Serie A points total during the 2012-13 season.
Earlier yesterday Cellino had confirmed Brazilian forward Adryan is due at Leeds today as they step up their recruitment plans.
The Elland Road club have already made a dozen signings, but more are planned before the transfer window shuts on Monday night.
Adryan’s scheduled arrival on a season-long loan deal comes as Leeds also look to conclude a deal to sign Paraguayan forward Brian Montenegro.
Cellino is a big fan of Adryan, in particular, and sees the Brazilian, who plays for Flamengo, as a “natural number 10”. Any deal to sign the 20-year-old would include a clause allowing the Yorkshire club to make the deal permanent next summer for £3m.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post last night, Cellino said: “Adryan will fly in on Friday with his agent.
“He is one of a few we want to sign (before the window closes). The market changes every day but we are making progress. I want to sign six or seven players altogether.”
Montenegro, 21, is also expected to join on loan with a view to a permanent move. He can play as a striker or winger.