It’s been very clear for a while that this Leeds squad isn’t up to scratch. However, over the past few months it is not only the quality of the players that has been called into question, but also their attitude.
Owner Andrea Radrizzani has already had his say on the matter, and Paul Heckingbottom has also warned the players that they should be playing for their futures in upcoming matches:
“Everyone’s had an opportunity and I’ve been fair with everyone. The type of team that ends up on the pitch next season has to reflect me. I want to see people fighting, trying to overachieve. They’ll go on and do good things if they do that.”
The strange thing is that nobody seems to want to play for their futures. If we leave Hecky’s own future aside for the moment, and just look at performances since Boxing Day, there are serious concerns about the character of this group of footballers.
A run of two wins, six draws and 11 defeats in the last 19 league games under two different managers is relegation form, and the fact that the new boss has not been able to affect this slide not only reflects badly on him, but also the squad.
In psychology, there is something called Self-determination theory. It describes how humans possess three psychological needs in order to feel motivated.
1) They have to feel a sense of autonomy (that they feel free to do what they want).
2) They need to have a sense of competence (that they feel they know what they are doing)
3) They have to have a sense of relatedness (feeling part of a community, and working in unison with others).
The lack of motivation in improving results over the past few months suggest at least some, if not all of these are out of whack.
The Yorkshire Evening Post reporter Phil Hay says that senior players are on board with Heckingbottom’s tactics and are happy with his man management. Yet, results indicate he is still not inspiring them.
Likely, confidence is at such a low ebb that they have lost the belief in their own abilities. It’s also possible that many don’t feel part of the squad at all because they will be sold in the summer.
If you then combine that with the number of injuries, and the fact the club are in mid table with nothing to play for, it is a pretty toxic cocktail. A good manager should be able to improve things but it looks as though Hecky is just hoping he gets to the summer to find other players that will fight for him instead.