Barnsley left ‘thoroughly disappointed’ as Heckingbottom leaves for Leeds
PUBLISHED: 12:09 06 February 2018 | UPDATED: 12:10 06 February 2018
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Norwich City’s Championship rivals Leeds have appointed Paul Heckingbottom as their new head coach – less than a week after he signed a new contract at Barnsley.
The 40-year-old, who had been in charge at Oakwell since February 2016, agreed new terms with the Tykes on Friday.
But Heckingbottom has swapped that rolling contract for an 18-month deal with their Yorkshire rivals to replace Thomas Christiansen, with Leeds a point and three places better off than the Canaries in 10th place in the table.
A Leeds statement read: “Leeds United are delighted to confirm the appointment of Paul Heckingbottom as new head coach of the club.
“The 40-year-old has signed a contract running until the summer of 2019 and succeeds Thomas Christiansen who left Leeds United on Sunday.”
Heckingbottom – who made 16 appearances for Norwich in 2002/03 – led hometown club Barnsley to promotion via the League One play-offs in 2016 before finishing 14th last season.
Christiansen was sacked by Leeds after a 4-1 home defeat by Cardiff which made it seven matches without a win.
That poor run included an embarrassing third-round FA Cup exit at the hands of League Two Newport.
Leeds began the season with a seven-game unbeaten run, raising hopes of a promotion push, but they have slipped to 10th in the Championship.
Heckingbottom will be expected to swap Barnsley’s relegation battle for an assault on the play-offs - Leeds are currently six points behind sixth-placed Bristol City.
Predictably the news did not go down well at Barnsley, who said in a statement: “Barnsley Football Club are thoroughly disappointed to announce that Paul Heckingbottom has joined Leeds United.”
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.”
Heckingbottom will begin his Leeds tenure with a Yorkshire derby against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Saturday.
Leeds are scheduled to come to Carrow Road on Saturday, April 28, for City’s final home game of the season.