Jonathan Veal, PA
Leeds have sacked head coach Marcelo Bielsa in the wake of Saturday’s 4-0 defeat to Tottenham.
The heavy loss at Elland Road was their fourth in five games – a run which saw them concede 20 goals and plummet towards the Premier League relegation zone.
The 66-year-old remained convinced he could turn things around after the Spurs loss, but the Leeds board decided otherwise, with former RB Leipzig boss Jesse Marsch the heavy favourite to take over. The club say they hope to announce their new manager on Monday.
Bielsa will be remembered as one of the most important managers in the club’s history, finally ending their 16-year absence from the Premier League and then delivering a top-10 finish in their first season back in swashbuckling style.
Leeds United can confirm the club have parted company with head coach Marcelo Bielsa
— Leeds United (@LUFC) February 27, 2022
Leeds chairman Andrea Radrizzani said on the club’s official website: “This has been the toughest decision I have had to make during my tenure at Leeds United, taking into account all the success Marcelo has had at the club.
“With Marcelo as our head coach, we had three incredible campaigns and the good times returned to Elland Road. He changed the culture of the club and brought a winning mentality to us all.
“The moments created, particularly in the 2019/20 season and winning promotion to the Premier League, will of course live long in all our memories, myself and the fans included.
“However, I have to act in the best interest of the club and I believe a change is required now in order to secure our Premier League status. Recent results and performances have not met our expectations.
“We find ourselves in a precarious league position and I feel now is the right time to bring in a new head coach, in order to have an impact in the decisive stage of the season.
“Naturally, myself, along with everyone else at the club would like to thank Marcelo for his efforts and achievements and we wish him the very best for the future.”
The Argentinian is a cult hero at Elland Road, having joined the club in the summer of 2018.
After losing out in the Championship play-offs in his first season, they took the league by storm the following year to finally return to the Premier League as champions.
Leeds did not stop there as they enjoyed a fine return to the top tier, winning praise for their style of play as Bielsa guided them to ninth place – their highest league finish since the 2001-02 season.
But it was always going to be difficult to replicate, not least because of a crippling injury list that robbed Bielsa of key players, including Patrick Bamford and Kalvin Phillips.
Bielsa’s tactics and refusal to switch from his renowned style also came under fire as the 60 goals they have conceded is the worst in the division by some distance.
Bielsa, whose managerial career began in 1990 with Newell’s Old Boys, leaves with the club in 16th position, two points from safety and in real danger of returning to the Championship.
Marsch, 48, has been heavily linked with taking over at Elland Road. He has been out of work since leaving Bundesliga outfit RB Leipzig last year following a short spell, but is best known for his work at New York Red Bulls and RB Salzburg.
Leeds are next in action when they visit Leicester next Saturday.
Director of football Victor Orta added: “Since arriving at Leeds United Marcelo had a huge impact on the club, on a scale I have not seen before.
“He has created a legacy, overseeing major infrastructure improvements at Thorp Arch, uniting the supporters and the players, and giving a clear pathway for young players to transition into the first team.
“It is disappointing his reign has had to end in this manner, given the special times we have enjoyed in recent years, which have been some of the best in my career, but we cannot hide from recent results.
“I would like to thank Marcelo for his commitment and dedication, and I wish him every success going forwards.”