Premier League

OFFICIAL: Leeds United have sacked their manager after three-and-half years in charge

OFFICIAL: Leeds United have sacked their manager after three-and-half years in charge

OFFICIAL: Leeds United have sacked their manager after three-and-half years in charge

Marcelo Bielsa has left Leeds United after three-and-a-half years in charge.

The Argentine departs after a poor run of form, with just one point gained from the last 18 on offer, and with the side two points above the Premier League relegation zone and in serious danger of going down.

Former RB Leipzig manager Jesse Marsch is in contention to replace Bielsa – the highest-paid manager in the club’s history – at Elland Road.

The 66-year-old was appointed in June 2018 after Paul Heckingbottom’s sacking, and has led the club for more than three full seasons, ending a run of eight managers in the previous three-and-a-half years.

His 140-match tenure marks him as the second-longest serving manager, behind Simon Grayson (169), since David O’Leary’s stint at the turn of the millennium.

Moreover, his record of 74 wins, 24 draws and 42 losses leaves him with a win percentage of 52.86 – the second-highest in history among Leeds managers with more than five games – narrowly behind legendary figure Don Revie (53.24).

Despite the physical rigours of the Championship, his side played free-flowing, attacking, entertaining football, winning plaudits from neutrals for their wholehearted and swashbuckling style of play, often relying on young players and integrating several academy youngsters into the first-team.

Bielsa was criticised after ‘Spygate’, where he admitted sending a man to watch rival Derby’s training sessions – he personally paid the £200,000 fine – but won the 2019 FIFA Fair Play Award after letting Aston Villa walk the ball in when his side had scored a controversial goal, thus resulting in Leeds missing out on automatic promotion.

Upon promotion back to the top-flight, a street in Leeds city centre was renamed ‘Marcelo Bielsa Way’, and he was named LMA Championship Manager of the Year and came third in the Best FIFA Football Coach award for his achievements.

In his first season in the Premier League, his side finished ninth, gaining more points and scoring more goals than any other promoted side for 20 years.

However, this season Leeds have struggled, with injuries to captain Liam Cooper and England internationals Kalvin Phillips and Patrick Bamford – potentially their best defender, midfielder and forward – and Covid-19 absences hitting the club hard.

The Whites have not won since a 3-2 victory against West Ham on January 16, and have conceded 20 goals in the last five matches, four per game, with the side looking jaded and seemingly incapable of stopping the opposition from scoring.

The enigmatic, eccentric boss, well known for his pithy and forthright press conferences in Spanish, aided by translator Andres Clavijo, pioneered the unusual 3-3-3-1 formation and was described by Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola as the best in the world.

Marcelo Bielsa guided Leeds United to the Premier League following a 16-year absence from England’s top-flight division.

In 2020/21, they earned 59 points – the most by a newly-promoted side since Ipswich Town (66) in 2000/01

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