Paul Heckingbottom leaves Barnsley for Leeds United: Blessing in disguise?

Seeing your manager leave to a rival may seem like a nightmare situation for most, but with Paul Heckingbottom’s departure from Barnsley to Leeds United, Lewis Robinson sees possibilities..

By Lewis Robinson

The news broke last night that all Barnsley fans knew was going to come eventually.  Football League Trophy. Play Off Trophy. Bottom to Top. We’ve had it all under Hecky. The best 12 months I’ve ever had supporting Barnsley in my lifetime. However, could this all be a blessing in disguise?

Let’s just say he hasn’t had the easiest of rides as head coach of Barnsley. No CEO in place left him with his hands not just full but overflowing. Dealing with limited budgets whilst competing with clubs who’ve spent millions. Selling practically two teams in two seasons. He had job offers. None confirmed however but there’s no smoke without fire. He rejected them. Well.  He is one of our own?

But these are no excuses. Many teams have succeeded on a shoestring budget and I’m sure many others in the Championship are operating on budgets lower than ours. The players leaving is out of his hands. Credit to him in that respect. Not many would have put up with what has happened regarding transfer business.

But did the fact he was a fan increase his frustrations?

Because here comes my point. Things have recently become quite dead around the club. New owners with driving passion evident in how they speak with international links, a young, innovative CEO again brimming with ideas.

Yet something just seems to be missing? The transfer window had an air of frustration; although personally (eventually) I was satisfied with the business done but I still feel frustrated. Hecky’s press conferences have been monotone, lacking his usual charm and endeavour. He seems frustated. UninspiRED. The man who had built up ‘legend’ status very quickly was very quickly being lowered in people’s estimations.

Paul Heckingbottom
Paul Heckingbottom, once of Barnsley now of Leeds United. Image: @BarnsleyFC 

Of course there are other factors. I’ve mentioned them including transfer dealings and matters off the pitch regarding the change of ownership. But he just seemed out of ideas. Not sharing the same thoughts as the owners. Not sharing the same desire on transfer targets. Maybe.

A change may be the best thing to happen. The new owners can fine tune their recruitment to someone who shares the same values as them, same strategies and share the core values of our proud football club. Someone who is their choice.

I don’t want to appear disrespectful to Hecky. We all know he’s done a fantastic job and I will always be grateful for the memories he has given to this football club. I’ve got to state that I don’t know all the facts but leaving ‘your’ club in the position, 3 points off the bottom and 1 win in 16 isn’t form which is usually rewarded with a contract.

Despite this, I can see why the club did this as they believed in him; a scenario where most new owners wouldn’t do that coming into an unknown club. To see him leave for Leeds is disappointing but I can see from his perspective why he’d take it. Doesn’t have to move home and yet earn more for his family?

One thing that doesn’t change at a football club is the fans. We’re needed more than ever this week. Whatever the club do, support it. Whatever the players do, get behind them. Most importantly however, we need to show pride and passion for Barnsley, this week of all weeks where someone may have not shown the greatest loyalty, we need to.

Let’s unite as supporters. Let’s sing our hearts out on Saturday. For our club.

You Reds.


Author: lewisrobinsonjournalism

Creator of ‘Talk Of The Tarn’ podcast. Study Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford. Barnsley FC fan. Email:

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