TALKS were continuing last night between David Hockaday and Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino over the vacant head coach position at the Elland Road club.
The former Forest Green Rovers manager travelled up to West Yorkshire for discussions yesterday with Cellino, who is expected to hand him a dramatic return to football at United after being put off by the compensation fee involved in taking Reading academy boss Eamonn Dolan.
The impending appointment of Hockaday, 56, a little known name in the football world and someone whose only experience of management ended inauspiciously at Rovers, has been met with derision by many Leeds supporters.
But while significant sections of the Whites fanbase have not been enamoured at news of his likely arrival, the north-easterner – recommended to Cellino by an agent who is advising him – quickly emerged as a serious option for the Italian following the departure of Brian McDermott.
Cellino has made great play about appointing a head coach specifically looking after the first team as opposed to a traditional manager, with Hockaday working through the ranks at Watford before becoming first-team coach in 2005.
Hockaday’s taste of management at Forest Green between 2009 and 2013 saw the Gloucestershire-based outfit finishing no higher than 10th, despite having one of the biggest budgets in the Conference.
Rovers were relegated in 2010 but later reinstated after Salisbury City’s demotion for breaching Conference rules.
Last October, Hockaday and Forest Green parted company after seven defeats from eight games with his time there ending on a sour note.
Despite the chorus of disapproval from United supporters regarding his imminent arrival, Hockaday has been handed one vote of support by his former chairman at Forest Green, Dale Vince.
Speaking ahead of his likely appointment, Vince, who parted company with Hockaday by mutual consent last autumn said: “I’m absolutely chuffed for David, he’s a top bloke and worked his socks off for FGR, it’s brilliant to see him get this opportunity.”
Former Hull City midfielder Junior Lewis, currently coaching at non-league Hendon, is expected to join Leeds’s backroom staff if Hockaday is appointed.
United start next season with an opening-day trip to Millwall on August 9.