Barnsley hit back as Paul Heckingbottom takes charge at Leeds United

Paul Heckingbottom: Move to Leeds has not gone down well at Oakwell.
Paul Heckingbottom: Move to Leeds has not gone down well at Oakwell.
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Barnsley have expressed their shock and disappointment at Paul Heckingbottom’s decision to leave the club for Championship rivals Leeds United.

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Heckingbottom was today confirmed as the new Leeds head coach on an 18-month contract. The news comes two years to the day since he succeeded Lee Johnson at Oakwell.

In a statement, Barnsley also thanked Heckingbottom, who had been head coach since February, 2016, for his time at the club

The club said: “Barnsley FC are thoroughly disappointed to announce that Paul Heckingbottom has joined Leeds United.

“The 40-year-old will move to Elland Road instantly. Heckingbottom will be joined by Jamie Clapham (first-team coach), Nathan Winder (head of sports science) and Alex Bailey (first-team performance analyst) who will also all depart Oakwell immediately.

“The Club are shocked at Paul Heckingbottom’s desire to leave, with him having agreed a new contract with Barnsley FC last week following the completion of the January transfer window, where the board of directors worked tirelessly along with Paul to secure their targets, resulting in a successful window. This left the club optimistic of a turnaround in form and a strong end to the 2017/18 campaign as we battle to retain our position in the league.

“The club want to place on record their thanks and best wishes to Paul and his coaching team. Having taken on the role of head coach in February, 2016, he has guided his home-town club to promotion, a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy victory and the highest Championship finish in 20 years.

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“Until a new head coach is appointed, Paul Harsley will take caretaker charge. The board fully trusts him to lead the team whilst getting the maximum levels out of the squad and we all support him in this new role as caretaker.”

Barnsley chief executive Gauthier Ganaye added: “Yes, it was unexpected. Yes, it has come during an already complicated period. Yes, it will make things more difficult short term, but our club is full of resources and it is certainly not dependent on one man alone.

“I’m asking everyone from the players, employees and our loyal fans to come together as we have an important game on Saturday.”