Barnsley: Former boss Paul Heckingbottom ‘gutted’ after Reds are relegated from Championship

Paul Heckingbottom.'Leeds United v Sheffield Wednesday.  SkyBet Championship.  Elland Road.'17 March 2018.
Paul Heckingbottom.'Leeds United v Sheffield Wednesday. SkyBet Championship. Elland Road.'17 March 2018.
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Former Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom was “gutted” after seeing his boyhood club relegated back to League One.

Heckingbottom jumped ship for bitter Yorkshire rivals Leeds United back in February - just days after an improved deal at Oakwell was announced.

Jose Morais was appointed as his successor tasked with keeping the club in the Championship. However, after relegation was confirmed on the final day the Portuguese gaffer, and his coaching staff, were shown the door.

“Yeah, I’m gutted,” admitted Heckingbottom.

“I’m upset, it’s not nice to see them get relegated.

“I thought they’ve got themselves in a great position with their win last week and just strange how it pans out that all the teams at the bottom are playing the teams fighting for something at the top. Barring the team who stayed up, Bolton.

“That’s why this stage of the season can be heartbreaking but also I’d much rather be in a game where you’re playing for something.”

Heckingbottom’s untimely departure came as a shock to the club and faithful fans alike.

Leeds triggered a £500,000 release clause in the former defender’s contract after the dismissal of Thomas Christiansen.

Heckingbottom was the man who steered the Reds’ sinking ship away from League One relegation back in the memorable 2015/16 campaign.

As caretaker boss he revitalised the club after Lee Johnson moved to Bristol City - who he previously played for.

The season ended in double Wembley glory, with play-off success and the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

In their first term back in the Championship Heckingbottom led the club to a respectable mid-table finish.

But the loss of the core of his squad left Barnsley with an uphill battle. They signed a whole host of players, but it was not enough to keep them up.

In Heckingbottom’s final 16 games at the helm, the Reds won just one match as they went spiralling down the table.

Meanwhile, Mick McCarthy is the early bookies’ favourite to return to the club he plied his trade at as a player.

However, the club has plenty of time to make the right appointment after rushing to get Morais in in February.

Simon Grayson yesterday decided not to extend his contract at Bradford City. The experienced manager was touted as a potential replacement for Heckingbottom earlier in the season.