Hockaday defends Leeds president Cellino

David Hockaday
Leeds manager David Hockaday Photo: PA

Leeds head coach David Hockaday has jumped to the defence of club president Massimo Cellino on the eve of his side's opening game of the new Sky Bet Championship season at Millwall.

Cellino's quirky leadership style has come under close scrutiny since he completed his takeover of the club in April.

He has made wholesale changes and has delivered financial stability, but his unconventional methods, including superstitions about the colour purple and number 17 - both banned from Elland Road - remain central to the debate over whether he will be successful.

Hockaday, however, believes Cellino will bring the good times back to the club and insists he has enjoyed a healthy relationship with the colourful Italian since being installed in the role in June.

"It's been great," Hockaday told a press conference. "I know there will be a bit of conjecture, but we get on fine.

"The superstitions? I don't wear number 17 on my back or purple! Again, there's a lot of stuff going out there which I appreciate you media guys have got stories to write and papers to sell or whatever.

"But don't read into to it too much. Don't believe everything that you read and hear on the grapevine.

"He's great to work with because he's so passionate about the football club."

Cellino and director of football Nicola Salerno, not the head coach, identify all new signings, but Hockaday insists he has no problem with his limited role in player recruitment.

"If there's somebody I don't particularly like then I'll voice my concerns and they'll go and get the best one they can for Leeds United," Hockaday said. "That makes sense to me.

"I think the media have had a bit of fun at Leeds' expense over the last few weeks and now we're at the business end, so let's concentrate on Millwall on Saturday."

Former Leeds striker Ross McCormack will want to make an early impression at new club Fulham following his £10million summer move as the Londoners embark on their bid to bounce straight back to the top flight at Ipswich.

Stuart Pearce will take charge of his first competitive game for Nottingham Forest against Blackpool, whose own new manager Jose Riga has hastily assembled a squad, having had only eight professionals at the club two weeks ago.

Uwe Rosler's Wigan are the bookies' bet to go one step further than the play-offs this season and they get their campaign underway against Reading at home, while Steve Evans' newly-promoted Rotherham face a stiff test at one of the other promotion favourites, Derby.

There will be plenty of interest in Brentford this season after the manner in which they secured promotion in May, but the Bees are expected to be without new signing Scott Hogan when they host Charlton, for whom Bob Peeters takes charge for the first time.

Brighton's new boss Sami Hyypia is expected to hand striker Chris O'Grady his first start against Sheffield Wednesday at the Amex Stadium, with the visitors still in limbo due to delays over the proposed £40million takeover of the club by Azarbaijani oil magnate Hafiz Mammadov.

Bournemouth kick off their second season in the Championship at Huddersfield, Bolton launch their second campaign outside the top flight at Watford and Middlesbrough host Lee Clark's Birmingham, who will look to put their final-day escape in May behind them.