Leeds United have confirmed the departure of head coach Marcelo Bielsa.
The news comes following a run of just one point from the club’s last six games during which they’ve conceded 21 goals, culminating in a 4-0 defeat at home to Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.
Reports suggest American coach Jesse Marsch is in line to take Bielsa’s place — the former New York Red Bulls and RB Salzburg boss is without a job following an unsuccessful stint with RB Leipzig at the start of this season and is the bookies’ favourite.
Bielsa had been in charge at Elland Road for over three-and-a-half years, proving incredibly popular among the Leeds United fanbase for his role in their long-awaited promotion back to the Premier League in 2020.
Leeds United next permanent manager betting odds:
- Jesse Marsch – 1/33
- Sam Allardyce – 14/1
- Carlos Corberan – 16/1
- Diego Martinez – 20/1
- Nuno Espirito Santo – 20/1
Odds via Sky Bet and correct at the time of writing (11:30am, 27/02/22). 18+ only. BeGambleAware
“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,” Chairman Andrea Radrizzani said in a club statement.
“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.”
Bielsa leaves Leeds with an impressive record of 81 wins, 30 draws and 59 defeats in 170 games in charge, scoring 274 goals and conceding 238 during that time. He has been credited with restoring attractive, attacking football to the Elland Road pitch, although huge defensive flaws finally caught up with the Argentine in the end.
Even so, the club have confirmed plans are underway for a “permanent tribute” to Bielsa at Elland Road.
“Since arriving at Leeds United Marcelo had a huge impact on the club, on a scale I have not seen before,” Director of football Victor Orta added to the statement.
“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.”
Leeds’ first game of the post-Bielsa era is away to Leicester City on Saturday.
Who is Leeds’ next permanent manager favourite Jesse Marsch?
Jesse Marsch is currently a free agent, having briefly managed RB Leipzig until his dismissal in December last year. He made his name with an impressive Champions League campaign at RB Salzburg.
He has previously named Jurgen Klopp as one of his biggest influences.
“When I first took [the RB Salzburg] job, they asked me what trainers and clubs do I think are right now doing a great job and my answer was Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool,” Marsch told reporters in 2019.
“It has so much to do with his way of leading his group and the way he coaches his team to play. It fits a lot with the things we are trying to do here. It is a little bit different in some of the details in both who I am, who our club is and the way we play, but at the same time, I think there is an appreciation.”
At least stylistically, Leeds should make a smooth transition under Marsch, who is fully committed to high-intensity pressing football thanks to his education in the Red Bull system. In New York, Salzburg and Leipzig, he was expected to and was mostly successful in implementing a high-energy style that caught the opposition off-balance high up the pitch, with a particular emphasis on throwing numbers forward once possession is regained.
The key question mark will, of course, be whether or not he can bolster that leaky Leeds United defence, but if Marsch is being lined up to take over, it’s clear the club are committed to sticking with a certain style of play.