Former boss Heckingbottom hopes Leeds United back his successor Bielsa

Paul Heckingbottom has spoken for the first time about his sacking by Leeds United and called on the club to give serious backing to his replacement, Marcelo Bielsa.

Former Leeds United head coach, Paul Heckingbottom.

In an interview with TalkSport, Heckingbottom said he had been the victim of a “change of direction” at Elland Road after Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani dismissed him after four months and 16 games in charge.

Radrizzani sanctioned a £500,000 compensation payment to buy Heckingbottom out of Barnsley in February but rapidly lost faith in his ability to compete for promotion to the Premier League and confirmed his sacking on June 1.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Leeds had already made overtures to Bielsa by the time Heckingbottom parted company with the club, sounding out the Argentinian in anticipation of a change of head coach.

United agreed to pay Bielsa a salary of more than £2m, well in excess of Heckingbottom’s wage, and brought the charismatic 62-year-old to Elland Road towards the end of June.

Bielsa has been tasked with reviving a squad which finished 13th in the Championship last season and won just four times under Heckingbottom.

Leeds, however, have completed just two signings to date - Chelsea loanees Lewis Baker and Jamal Blackman - and look set to miss out to Derby County in the race to take winger Florian Jozefzoon from Brentford.

“Literally just a change of direction from the club, that was it,” Heckingbottom told Talksport. “Another managerial casualty and I’m the one who suffered from it. A change of mind, went for an experienced manager known all over the world.

“It’s always the owner’s decision at the end of the day, they’re the most powerful people. Whether you agree with the decisions or not, you have to sort of respect them and live by them.

“Leeds have gone for a different manager and I just hope they back him. He should be saying the same things I was saying and hopefully he gets the backing and support to make changes and give the fans there what they’re crying out for.”