FOREST Green chairman Dale Vince insists David Hockaday deserves his chance after being controversially installed as the new head coach at Leeds.
Gloucestershire-based Hockaday, 56,who implemented the first football academy in the country at Cirencester College, was Leeds president Massimo Cellino's surprise choice to succeed a beleaguered Brian McDermott and the appointment has angered the majority of the club's fans who demanded a bigger name to take on the new role.
Hockaday said he was excited and looking forward to starting work and dismissed suggestions his appointment was unexpected.
"It isn't a surprise because of my background and the fact I'm a very experienced coach and obviously with 20 years a player, and the fact that the president wants a very experienced British coach, then I seemed to tick all the boxes," he told the club website.
"At the end of the day I've been given a great opportunity and I intend to take it with both hands."
But Vince, who worked closely with former Watford and Southampton coach Hockaday during his time in charge at Forest Green - which was his only managerial job - said he has all the right attributes to prove his critics wrong.
"I'm really pleased for David. Actually, I'm chuffed for him," Vince said.
"He's a great bloke. He's a very hard-working, loyal and honest man with an unbelievable depth of footballing knowledge."
I really want him to succeed, but would not dare to predict how it will work out for him.
"Massimo Cellino is a lot better qualified than me to make a judgement on whether David can be successful in the Championship, but he deserves his chance."
Hockaday parted company with Forest Green by mutual consent last October following a run of seven defeats in eight games.
Both parties bowed to fans' pressure, but Vince maintains a close friendship with the former Blackpool and Swindon defender.
Vince added: "His experience in the game, at all levels, makes him an ideal candidate for anybody and he's so determined to succeed.
"It's interesting to see he has taken up a head coach role at Leeds rather than becoming the manager.
"Cellino will take all the pressure off him with regards to recruitment and other managerial duties and that plays to David's strengths.
"We formed a friendship during his time at Forest Green and I've spoken to him to wish him luck."
Cellino appears to be a very interesting character and he made a good point that everyone has to start somewhere.
"I'm not sure about his analogy about managers being like watermelons though."
"He said you can't tell what they're like until you open them, but you can tap a watermelon to find out exactly what they're like before you do that!"