Marcelo Bielsa’s future as Leeds United boss is in serious danger after Saturday’s 4-0 loss to Tottenham.
The popular Argentine coach was already under pressure following a dire sequence of results.
However, today’s home defeat by Tottenham has made Bielsa’s position even more precarious.
It is understood senior Leeds figures had already been assessing successors to Bielsa in the belief the 66-year-old would almost certainly leave Elland Road at the end of the season.
Now they must decide whether to act now in order to preserve Leeds’ top flight status.
Former RB Leipzig coach Jesse Marsch has been of interested to Leeds for a while now. However, there are other potential candidates, including former Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde, who is currently out of work and is known by Leeds director of football Victor Orta.
In addition Huddersfield boss Carlos Corberan worked under Bielsa at Leeds. However, after guiding Huddersfield into third spot in the Championship, there are clear doubts as to whether he would be interested in switching back to Leeds in mid-season.
Bielsa’s status as a hero at Leeds is secure after he guided the club back to the Premier League in 2020 after a 16-year absence.
However, after an eye-catching campaign last season, Leeds have been hampered by injuries this season.
Key men Kalvin Phillips and Patrick Bamford have been absent for most of the season and the club’s form has collapsed since a win at West Ham last month.
The Tottenham defeat means they have collected a single point from their last six games. They have conceded 20 goals in their last five.
Today’s result means they are two points ahead of third-bottom Burnley, who have a far superior goal difference and two matches in hand.
How bad has it been? And will Bielsa change his style?
In their defence, Leeds have faced Manchester United, title-chasing Liverpool and Tottenham in their last three league games.
However, the manner of all three defeats has raised serious questions over Bielsa’s approach.
As well as shipping six at Anfield and four at home to both United and Spurs, they also conceded three against Everton and Aston Villa in their two league games before that, meaning a third of the 60 goals Leeds have conceded this season have come in February alone.
They have conceded at least five more goals this term than any other top-flight side. Burnley, currently two places below Leeds in the table, have let in exactly half as many.
Bielsa’s side are also just the second team in Premier League history to concede three or more goals in five consecutive matches.
The Argentine insisted after Wednesday’s loss to Jurgen Klopp’s side that he had no intention of altering Leeds’ style and he reiterated his stance in the aftermath of Saturday’s loss.
“It is not only a problem of how we defend, but with the total functioning of the team,” he said. “When I go with an offensive profile we still concede goals, when I go with a defensive profile we still concede goals.”
“We need to impose what we are attempting and we are not managing to do it.”
‘You have to be flexible’
Former Leeds goalkeeper Paul Robinson says replacing Bielsa at this stage of the season could have a detrimental effect on the club’s survival hopes – despite the club’s alarming run.
“I personally wouldn’t [make a change],” he told BBC Radio 5 Live. “If you make a change now, it’s too big.
“The nucleus of this squad is a Championship squad with a few additions. Can another manager get the effort, enthusiasm and the application more from these players [than Bielsa does]?
“He’s done an incredible job and when he leaves he’ll be able to choose which corner of the ground he wants his statue on, but at the moment it’s not looking good.”
However, former Leeds defender Rio Ferdinand said that a change of tactics was imperative.
“They will keep sliding down the table with these tactics,” he told BT Sport. “It’s crazy. Something has to give, something has to change.
“They either sack the manager or stick with a man who pulled them out of the Championship.”
Peter Crouch agreed, adding on BT Sport: “He is an incredible manager but the best managers always adapt..
“They are in relegation form. They are exciting to watch for the neutral, but the spine of the team has been out for a long time. Without them, you have to adapt.”been out for a long time. Without them, you have to adapt.”
‘Absolutely love Bielsa but he has to go’ – how social media reacted
Paul McNeil: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I am starting to doubt Leeds’ methods. I just hope morale can be kept up.
Nigel: Absolutely love Bielsa but he has to go. I am literally hiding behind the sofa. These tactics don’t work.
Mark: I fear for Leeds. They’re looking over their shoulder at a group of teams with games in hand. As entertaining as they were last season it’s inevitably caught up with them. Bielsa will take them down.
Matt: Leeds situation is similar to Sheff Utd, they come up with an unusual style and it catches people out in the 1st season, but 2nd season they get found out. Hard to see them staying up as things stand.
Milton Rumata: The people moaning about Leeds and Bielsa are probably the same people who celebrated the excitement Leeds brought to the Premier league last season. We’ve never seen anything as crazy as this Leeds team in the Premier League, I pray they cling on to 17th and don’t change a thing.