The problems facing Leeds in relegation fight and search for new manager

Leeds are second-bottom of the Premier League following defeat at Everton.

Mark Walker
Monday 20 February 2023 13:50 GMT
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Leeds fans have grown increasingly frustrated by their club’s plight this season (Nick Potts/PA)
Leeds fans have grown increasingly frustrated by their club’s plight this season (Nick Potts/PA)

Managerless Leeds United are in another Premier League survival fight after dropping into the bottom three at the weekend for the first time this season.

The Yorkshire club are struggling to find a new manager after sacking Jesse Marsch and after Saturday’s defeat at Everton extended their winless league run to 10 matches, their fans fear the worst.

Here, we take a look at what has gone wrong at Elland Road.

Why have they been unable to find a new head coach?

Leeds had hoped to announce a swift appointment after Marsch was dismissed on February 6, but it is understood four of their five initial targets are all currently in jobs. Attempts to prise Andoni Iraola and Arne Slot from Rayo Vallecano and Feyenoord respectively have failed, former River Plate boss Marcelo Gallardo did not want to start a project in mid-season and Carlos Corberan signed a new contract at West Brom. Others have been linked with the vacancy, such as Nuno Espirito Santo and Ange Postecoglou, but the hunt goes on.

Was dismissing Marsch the right decision?

Many Leeds fans felt Marsch had run his course at Elland Road, but are angry that a replacement had not been lined up before he was sacked. There had been calls for the American to go after an eight-game winless league run in October, several months before the board decided his position was untenable following his side’s inept performance in the recent defeat at Nottingham Forest. Supporters are demanding answers from the club’s hierarchy as to why the process has been handled so poorly.

How have Leeds responded to these setbacks?

Leeds put Under-21s boss Michael Skubala, development coach Paco Gallardo and Chris Armas in temporary charge after Marsch’s exit. Armas had been appointed as assistant head coach at Marsch’s behest on January 25. After top targets eluded them, the board discussed an interim head coach, but following talks with former Ajax manager Alfred Schreuder broke down – and having looked at other options – it was announced Skubala would remain in the role as the club continued their search.

Who do fans blame for their predicament?

Chants of ‘sack the board’ from Leeds’ travelling supporters during Saturday’s defeat at Everton made it clear who they are holding to account. The board ultimately got it wrong when deciding to replace Marcelo Bielsa with Marsch in February last year and again when sticking by him earlier in the season. Fans are pointing the finger at director of football Victor Orta in particular, for backing the American to the hilt for so long – Leeds spent over £140million on new players under Marsch – and for bungling the search for his replacement.

Where do Leeds go from here?

Fans are desperate for signs of strong leadership and some acknowledgement from the hierarchy of the perceived mess at Elland Road would go some way to appeasing the mounting tension on the terraces. It is also time for the players to accept their culpability and respond with consistent performances, starting with another crucial relegation battle at home against Southampton on Saturday. A seventh defeat in 11 league games would send Leeds bottom and staring at a return to the Sky Bet Championship.

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