Relationship with Cellino still intact insists ‘baby in a toy shop’ Leeds coach Hockaday

DAVID Hockaday insisted last night that his relationship with Massimo Cellino was strong and intact, despite choice comments made about him by Leeds United’s owner earlier this week.

Leeds head coach David Hockaday

Hockaday said he was comfortable with his authority as head coach at Elland Road, describing Cellino as “passionate” and claiming critical media reports in recent months were having “a bit of fun at Leeds’ expense.”

The former Forest Green Rovers was at the centre of two of those reports on Wednesday morning, the target of choice and unappreciative quotes from Cellino who said Hockaday needed “babysitting” and was “like a baby, who is in a toy shop” when it came to identifying transfer targets.

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Hockaday, who was also belittled by Cellino in an exchange over former Leeds captain Ross McCormack, said he was aware of the quotes but had not read the articles himself.

But he said: “The relationship’s fine. I know there’s been a little bit of conjecture but we get on fine. I was given a specific job and I do that job.

“I talk to the president every day. I did yesterday, I will today and then again tomorrow. We talk football, the squad and how we are looking. We talk about anything and everything. We get on fine.

“Don’t believe everything you read or hear on the grapevine. I’m head coach, I’m delighted to be here and I get on really well with the president and director of football (Nicola Salerno). People might be putting two and two together to get five.

“I genuinely haven’t read the article and all I know is what I know. I tell people who have read it: ‘Don’t get concerned. This is the deal and this is how it is.’ All I know are the facts.

“I have the (authority) that I was promised by the president. Whatever others say, guess or think, they’re way off base.”

Cellino held a meeting with Hockaday after United’s final friendly against Dundee United last weekend, frustrated by a performance which seemed to satisfy most of the crowd at Elland Road, and he will be present at tomorrow’s opening Championship game against Millwall.

The Italian has exerted completed control at Elland Road since his takeover of the club in April and dictated the United’s transfer policy, bringing in several players from the Italian leagues.

A wide round of redundancies among the club’s staff and cut-backs at Leeds’ Thorp Arch training ground led to unflattering coverage but Hockaday defended Cellino’s attitude and policies, saying: “He’s massively passionate and he wants Leeds to do well.

“We’re working very hard together, and together I think we’ve made great strides. I think people see that.

“The mischief-makers will do what they do but I just get my head down and work. I really like the guy. He’s as honest as the day is long and he’s very knowledgeable.

“He has a great eye for a player and he’s thrown names at me that I haven’t heard before. But I’ve then gone away to do my homework and said ‘wow!’

“If there’s (a player) I don’t particularly like then I’ll voice my concerns. But them going out and getting the very best they can makes sense to me.”