By Richard Parks
Ian Wright has questioned why Paul Heckingbottom would want to swap the security of Barnsley for “volatile” Leeds United – and fans of the Whites have taken to Twitter to question the pundit’s knowledge of their club.
The Arsenal legend delivered his verdict on Leeds’ appointment of the highly rated 40-year-old on Sky Sports’ The Debate programme on Tuesday night.
Heckingbottom became the eighth Leeds manager in four years earlier this week following the sacking of Thomas Christiansen, whose reign ended after just 35 matches.
“The way Leeds are currently…they’re trigger-happy, man,” Wright told Sky Sports, in conversation with Liam Rosenior, Dennis Wise and host Kelly Cates. “For him to leave Barnsley, where he has done great for them and they love him, to go to a place where it is so volatile in the way they sack managers.”
— #WALMOT (@WALM0T33) February 7, 2018
Leeds fans took issue on social media with Wright’s comments, with many pointing out that Christiansen was the first manager to be sacked by Leeds since Uwe Rosler two-and-a-half years ago.
Garry Monk chose to leave at the end of last season and his predecessor Steve Evans simply left at the end of 2015-16 because his contract had expired.
The prevailing view of the United faithful is that Wright is mistaking Andrea Radrizzani for former owner Massimo Cellino.
Here is a selection of their messages on Twitter:
Bless. Great player in his day but knows Jack about the game as a pundit. He still thinks Cellino’s at #lufc Shame on @SkySportsNews for hiring these people inc. Merson, Walsh and a bunch of other southern based ex-pros who rarely prepare before going in front of the camera
— Andrew Burke (@andrewMOT) February 7, 2018
He still thinks cellino is the owner i bet.
— joseph atkinson (@deakko7) February 7, 2018
I used to admire Wrighty, but he is clearly saying this for Wise’s benefit… he’s not daft… he knows owners determine the “sacking culture” of a club and that #lufc are not in the same level as when Cellino was at the helm #sayingitforafriend
— neil burrows (@neibur66) February 8, 2018
He is not up to speed
— Wacc (@WACCOE) February 8, 2018
He does know Cellino isn’t there anymore, right?
— Ian Wood (@wood3528) February 7, 2018
Wrighty, we’re not volatile!!! Managers, coaches come and go at all clubs. Even more so now, unfair to say that about Leeds, when all clubs are doing it!!!
— DARREN(What the Heck!!!) (@DAZWHITE1919) February 7, 2018
Why do they ask people who have zero knowledge of the club there commenting on. Ian Wright probably thinks Cellino is still owner, and MC’s tenure accounts for most of the managers we’ve had over recent times. Surprised IW knows of the leagues below the prem!
— Jamie (@LUFCjamie1919) February 7, 2018
Still got to try and improve yourself. Can’t be afraid of the axe as a manager
— David Wainwright (@dayvid58) February 7, 2018
Heckingbottom had spent two years as permanent Barnsley manager after two previous spells as caretaker.
The Tykes are placed 21st in the Championship, 11 places behind Leeds, who won 40 per cent of their matches under Christiansen, but the former defender is highly regarded for winning promotion in 2015-16 before steering the club to a 14th place finish last season after they sold their two best players, Conor Hourihane and Sam Winnall, in the January window.
His first game at Leeds is Saturday’s Yorkshire derby against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.