LEEDS UNITED board member Edoardo Cellino is urging fans to get behind head coach David Hockaday – while hinting that the club will not shy away from making a change if results do not work out.
Hockaday leads out United in a pre-season friendly at his former club Swindon Town tonight (7.45pm kick-off) and despite sections of the club’s fanbase greeting his appointment last month with some specticism, Cellino jnr wants supporters to give him a fair chance.
Hockaday admits that Leeds very much remain a work in progress with 11 days to go to the start of the Championship season, with United owner Cellino and sporting director Nicola Salerno working on several deals to bolster the squad.
Cellino has revealed that the protracted loan transfer of highly-rated Roma midfielder Federico Viviani to Leeds has now finally been completed, with the move awaiting official confirmation.
AC Milan midfielder Zan Benedicic, 18, also understood to be close to signing for the club – and several more could follow ahead of the start of the season to boost the numbers available to Hockaday.
In a video interview with the Yorkshire Post, Cellino jnr, appointed to the board in May along with his father – United president and owner Massimo – and his brother Ercole, said: “I think David is somebody who knows football and likes football and I think David Hockaday is the right guy.
“If it is not going to be him, then someone else. But I am saying ‘let’s give a chance’ to David Hockaday and let’s see.
“I like him, he’s a nice man and I talk to him. I hope and I am pretty sure he is going to do a great job for Leeds United.
“I think the first thing we have to do is be a lot stronger.
We are a young team and need to fight to get back to where we belong.
“Leeds fans are great people. Every time I go to the football game, they come up to me and I talk with them.
“Some of them are happy, some of them I do not understand them. I just want the season to start, so we can see what are the problems and what are not.”
He added: “I cannot wait to start because everything is changing and I just want to see them playing in the Championship and maybe next season in the Premier League - I hope so.
“I want to see the coach playing with a Championship team and not like a League One team.
“In my opinion, I am really excited for this season because it is going to be different to the last one.
“I love living here, I love Leeds and I want to see the team start playing real football. Hopefully it will be a good season.
“I like what my dad is doing and I believe in him and I will always support him.”
Meanwhile, reigning young player of the year Alex Mowatt will travel with United’s squad to Swindon tonight and Hockaday is delighted to have the 19-year-old in his plans for the game against the Robins, who he played for in the eighties.
He said: “Alex came through fine on Saturday. He’s lost a couple of weeks training with the first team, but he looks bright, sharp and a good footballer and will travel with the squad.”
Steve Morison, barracked by sections of the travelling support at Chesterfield, is also part of the squad, with Hockaday adamant that no United player could be accused of not trying at the weekend.
Morison was subjected to some chants of ‘you’re too s**t to play for Leeds’, although many fans shouted down the song and urged fans to support the team.
Hockaday said: “Everybody who wore the shirt tried their socks off. Nobody with any justification could say anybody didn’t try.
“A few of the boys, when they got tired, made mistakes and we corrected that.
“It’s about getting your head down and rolling your sleeves up. You crack on.
“There’s a great team spirit and all the players are determined to put in a shift for Leeds United and that’s all I can ask.
“Steve is one of 18 I will be taking to Swindon.”