Leeds United are once again looking for a new manager after they sacked head coach Paul Heckingbottom on Friday after only four months in charge. The club’s hierarchy have since stated that they are looking to bring in a “more experienced” manager to help end the club’s long exile from the Premier League.
Due to Leeds’ recent history of changing managers very easily, it may have come as no surprise to many that Heckingbottom has been relieved of his duties. However, the 40-year-old was only given 16 games to make an impact at Elland Road. He may have only won four of these games and led the Whites to a 13th placed finish in the Championship, but he was not given enough time to make the team his own.
Whoever the club decide to appoint next will be the club’s 10th boss since 2014. That statistic alone could be enough to put off any credible managers from taking the job. However, the size and history of the club could work in Leeds’ favour as they begin their search for a replacement.
The club’s managing director has stated that the club want to make a “quick appointment” – so who is in the running?
One of the early favourites for the job is 62-year-old manager Marcelo Bielsa. Bielsa has been unemployed since he left Lille and has previously managed Newell’s Old Boys, Atlas, América, Vélez Sársfield, Espanyol, Argentina, Chile, Athletic Bilbao, Marseille and Lazio. This shows that he has vast experience in management, although he is yet to manage in English football which could be a concern.
Bielsa is highly regarded by the likes of Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino which shows that he is well respected within the game. There is no doubt that it would be a risky appointment due to Bielsa’s lack of experience in English football. However, it could prove to be a risk worth taking, just as the appointment of Nuno Espírito Santo turned out to be for Wolverhampton Wanderers last season.
Bielsa is a significant favourite for the Elland Road hot seat, but one manager who should surely be considered is 59-year-old Mick McCarthy. The experienced manager left Ipswich Town towards the end of last season after around six years at the club and was often harshly criticised despite doing a solid job on a shoestring budget at Portman Road.
He is a manager who would not be phased by the pressure and demands of being the manager of Leeds. He would make them very difficult to beat, albeit by potentially implementing a style of play that is not too easy on the eye. His style of play was one of his main downfalls at Ipswich as the fans eventually became tired of it and wanted the club to take a new approach. However, it could work for Leeds if they are looking for a short-term fix and an immediate challenge for the Premier League.
Another manager that Leeds have been linked with is ex-Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri. The 66-year-old guided Leicester to the Premier League title in the 2015/16 campaign, one of the greatest achievements in football history. He has since been manager of Nantes and was heavily linked with the Italy job before Roberto Mancini eventually filled that.
There is no doubt that it is unlikely that Ranieri would drop down to the Championship. However, he may be the type of manager who is drawn to such a historic club with a huge fanbase. There has been speculation that the club’s hierarchy have already met Ranieri, but this is unconfirmed. If Leeds were able to lure Ranieri to Elland Road, they would be among the favourites for promotion to the Premier League next season.
Could make an ambitious move for Sam Allardyce?
Similarly to Ranieri, a move for 63-year-old manager Sam Allardyce would also be hugely ambitious. The ex-England manager only recently left Everton after guiding them to a top half finish in the Premier League and arguably being harshly treated. There is no doubt that he would have a positive impact at Leeds due to his impressive managerial record at a number of different clubs. However, again, he is unlikely to drop down to the Championship and Leeds would have to fork out a significant amount of money to persuade him to do so.
The Whites are hoping to unveil their new manager in the next few days so we will not have to wait long to find out who is next to be given the task of trying to guide the club back to the Premier League.