Liam Cooper Emerges from Leeds Undergrowth to Earn Win Over Brentford – by Rob Atkinson


Hecky settling in nicely at Elland Road

Dean Smith, Brentford’s Head Coach, was not a happy man after his side’s defeat to Paul Heckingbottom’s increasingly resolute Leeds United at Elland Road yesterday. Careless of “sour grapes” accusations, he complained on several fronts: the grass was too long, the goal was offside and the referee and assistants were in thrall to the Elland Road crowd. In truth, criticism of the officials was justified, but you’d have needed to stagger past Specsavers and into a lamppost to be dazed enough for a claim that they favoured Leeds. It was that kind of press conference though. Fortunately, Mr. Grumpy was followed by Mr. Happy.

Paul Heckingbottom breezed into the room as you’d expect with a man basking in the afterglow of his first win in the job. The fact that he’d also got his first clean sheet – something that had looked highly improbable during most of the first half – served to put an even broader smile on the face of a coach who appears to be settling in nicely and feeling at home. He dealt briskly and good-humouredly with the gripes of his Brentford counterpart: the grass was too long? It played better than on Sunday against Bristol, it were too short after t’rugby. Offside for the goal? I’ve only seen it on the small monitor, we’ll take it apart and look at it later. But (twinkly grin) I don’t care. And the referee? Another grin – and Paul states that he doesn’t talk about referees – “After a few weeks, you’ll probably stop asking me about them”.

All in all, it was a post-match conference of two halves, but Smith had lost and Hecky had won, so perhaps that’s understandable. What did come across, as it increasingly does with every passing game into the Leeds job, is Heckingbottom’s self-assurance and confidence, together with a no-nonsense yet engaging style of explaining his take on matters relating to the task he’s taken on. He seems very comfortable in his own skin, and you get the feeling that this is an air that will instil confidence into players who had, perhaps, begun to lack that valuable commodity. And that could be half the battle; so much of the professional game, with its fine margins between success and failure, is about confidence.

Asked about the prospects of the play-offs, Hecky said he was taking the remainder of the season one game at a time, and see where that gets us. But he added that he’d be happy if people were still asking him that question for a good while – it’d mean we were still in with a shout, just maybe. And you can see that’s the case. Courtesy of Cardiff‘s late win over Bristol City, we’re just five points off. Win at Boro on Friday night, at a venue that Leeds have found quite amenable over the years, and things could be getting quite interesting.

Either way, Hecky will most likely be content with his lot, happy to take anything that might come along this season, but equally prepared to play a longer game and put his stamp on the club in time for next time around. I’ve had Barnsley-supporting mates tell me that we’ve bought ourselves a pup, but, from what I’ve seen so far, I can’t help being impressed with the new guy. There’s just an air of “I’ve got this” about him. He clearly sees Leeds United as a massive opportunity, one he’s determined to make the most of. Daft considerations like who he supported and who he hated as a kid don’t come into it, as all of us should be grown-up enough to figure out for ourselves. Paul Heckingbottom is Leeds now, and he’ll be just as set on restoring the club to its rightful place as any Leeds-fan-since-birth you could name.

Can he, will he succeed at Elland Road, where so many others have failed before him? By Heck, it feels like a risky thing to say, but you know what? He just might. 


15 responses to “Liam Cooper Emerges from Leeds Undergrowth to Earn Win Over Brentford – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Nice feel for a change Sat teatime. Bit sorry for TC when he left, took a lot on, big step up but I liked the guy. Heckingbottom comes across really well, down to earth, not frightened of making tough decisions and I think we’re on to a winner.
    Just wish this hard core of fans who seem to delight in knocking everything and everyone week in and week out would give it a rest. We all know the problems we have, the weakness in certain areas and the type of players we need to sign but that’s not going to happen until next season. I was never more pleased when Cooper got that goal, the guy is a decent player overall and I’m sure PH thinks so too.
    Some of this lot would be bellyaching if we were Barcelona or Real Madrid. Time now to rally round, get behind the team and let’s have a good run in. MOT.


  2. Delighted for Cooper who seems to get short shrift from from the less enlightened social media community for reasons that escape me. However I did hear a rumour that the grass was not only long but also ‘dirty’ and apparently a pot plant in the executive lounge offered a back handler to the ref to ‘go easy on Leeds’ prior to the game. LOL etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As usual, great writing Rob. Rob, have you come across ? It might be right up your street 🙂 Please take a look.


  4. David Smith

    Difficult not to like Paul Heckingbottom, who seems to have an understated air of confidence & good humour about him which no doubt the players are benefitting from. He’s clearly attempting to getting the basics right with personnel currently at his disposal and suspect he will be quite opinionated with Orta & Co about who he wants going forward, unlike TC who gave the impression he seemed content to accept whoever he was given? Lastly Rob…..are we ever going to get a penalty again ?


  5. Philip of Spain.

    The team seem more focused,fitter and with PHs changes on the field aware that nobody’s place in the team is safe.Why wouldn’t you like the Royston boy?Bit early to show my hand but I am as well,went to the same school.Long before him though!!


  6. Personally I wish the soft core of fans who’ve bigged up every mediocrity to sit in the managers chair over the last 14 years,would give it a rest. Nobody loves Leeds united more than me and I for one don’t delight in complaining about the rubbish we’ve had to watch this last decade and a half. Remember Hockaday said all the right things too. MOT and BDS.


    • You’d have been hard core old school back in ‘61 as well, moaning bitterly about this untried pup Revie when we should be after Jimmy Adamson 😆


      • Nah,Revie was a genius whilst he was at Man City a good while before he even came to Leeds. Had i been alive then I would have been elated with him becoming manager. However I was unlucky enough to live through jimmy Adamson though and I didn’t want him either.


      • You’ll tell us owt.


  7. Hi Rob. Good bit o’ writing there, matey. I’m liking Hecky more and more.
    It’s becoming increasingly obvious that he ‘gets’ Leeds. And whilst many who’ve come and gone before have wilted under the pressure of playing or managing at Elland Road, this fella is ready to embrace the challenge and enjoy it. And there’s the rub.


  8. Four slices of spam for breakfast, had ‘em on toast as usual. Cheers Clive 😆


Leave a Reply - Publication at Site owner's Discretion

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.