Leeds United were denied their first win of 2018 on Wednesday night by Kasey Palmer’s stoppage time equaliser for Derby County.
That 2-2 draw, Leeds’ second in a row, also continues Paul Heckingbottom’s wait for his maiden victory in charge at but EFL pundit David Prutton says that Hecky only needed to look across to the opposing dugout at the IPro Stadium to gain inspiration for his Elland Road blueprint.
Prutton points to the fact that Rowett had two months at the end of last season that were something of a ‘free hit’; an opportunity to assess the squad and implement his ideas without the immediate threat of relegation or any realistic chance of reaching the play-offs.
He told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “I see the next couple of months as a prime opportunity for Paul Heckingbottom to find his feet at Elland Road.
“There was a manager in the opposite dug-out to him at Pride Park on Wednesday who had the same opportunity last season. Gary Rowett got the Derby County job in March, at a time when Derby were off the pace.
“I’d imagine that the chance to get inside the door and have a look around without results weighing too heavily on him was an absolute godsend.
“Gary’s a talented manager, that’s the first thing to say, but Derby’s position in the league suggests he went into last summer with a very clear idea of what needed to happen.
“If Leeds don’t make the play-offs, then Paul needs to gain the same insight: what’s working, what’s going wrong, whose face fits and whose face doesn’t. Get your head around that and the path in front of you must look an awful lot clearer.”
Leeds fans and players will not give up hope of reaching the play-offs until it is a mathematical impossibility but Heckingbottom may take a more pragmatic approach behind the scenes.
He has to be using this time to assess who he wants to keep, where he wants to improve and what style of play suits his players.
If that sets Leeds up for a strong play-off challenge next season then it will be worthwhile for sure.
Leeds fans – what do you make of Prutton’s comments? Let us know below…