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Leeds have sacked head coach Marcelo Bielsa in the wake of Saturday’s 4-0 defeat to Tottenham.

The heavy loss at Elland Road was their fourth in five games – a run which saw them concede 20 goals and plummet towards the Premier League relegation zone.

The 66-year-old remained convinced he could turn things around after the Spurs loss, but the Leeds board decided otherwise, with former RB Leipzig boss Jesse Marsch the heavy favourite to take over. The club say they hope to announce their new manager on Monday.

Bielsa will be remembered as one of the most important managers in the club’s history, finally ending their 16-year absence from the Premier League and then delivering a top-10 finish in their first season back in swashbuckling style.

Leeds chairman Andrea Radrizzani said on the club’s official website: “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.

“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.”

The Argentinian is a cult hero at Elland Road, having joined the club in the summer of 2018.

After losing out in the Championship play-offs in his first season, they took the league by storm the following year to finally return to the Premier League as champions.

Leeds did not stop there as they enjoyed a fine return to the top tier, winning praise for their style of play as Bielsa guided them to ninth place – their highest league finish since the 2001-02 season.

But it was always going to be difficult to replicate, not least because of a crippling injury list that robbed Bielsa of key players, including Patrick Bamford and Kalvin Phillips.

Bielsa’s tactics and refusal to switch from his renowned style also came under fire as the 60 goals they have conceded is the worst in the division by some distance.

Bielsa, whose managerial career began in 1990 with Newell’s Old Boys, leaves with the club in 16th position, two points from safety and in real danger of returning to the Championship.

Marsch, 48, has been heavily linked with taking over at Elland Road. He has been out of work since leaving Bundesliga outfit RB Leipzig last year following a short spell, but is best known for his work at New York Red Bulls and RB Salzburg.

Leeds are next in action when they visit Leicester next Saturday.

Director of football Victor Orta added: “Since arriving at Leeds United Marcelo had a huge impact on the club, on a scale I have not seen before.

“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.”

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Marcelo Bielsa insists confidence remains high as Leeds bid for their first Premier League win of the season on Saturday against Watford.

The Whites will kick off at Elland Road in the relegation zone — and without injured striker Patrick Bamford — after taking three points from their opening six matches.

Defeats to Manchester United, Liverpool and latterly West Ham have prompted anxious debate among some Leeds fans on social media, but Bielsa assured them self-belief in his camp has been unaffected.

“The players haven’t lost confidence, so there’s no need to give something that’s conserved, that’s already there,” he said.

“What we do in every case is to perceive the errors and to try and correct them.

“I sleep normally, and I’ve always had the hope that we’re able to win our games.”

Bielsa felt last week’s 2-1 home defeat to West Ham was harsh on his players after Michail Antonio’s last-minute winner.

Leeds produced some of their best football of the season in the first half and the head coach believes several performances so far have gone unrewarded.

He acknowledged victory against Watford before next week’s international break could be psychologically significant.

“It’s always important to win, especially when you’ve gone six games without winning and if you occupy one of the last three positions in the table, even more so,” Bielsa said.

“The other reference is the performances, that go in the opposite direction to these negative aspects, and it’s (about) the support (to the players) to come back from this situation.”

Bamford has not recovered from the ankle injury which forced him to miss out against the Hammers and Rodrigo is expected to start again as the central striker.

There have been growing calls for Joe Gelhardt to be handed his first Premier League appearance after the former Wigan prodigy’s six goals in as many games for the Under-23s this season.

But Bielsa suggested Gelhardt still had some climbing to do in the pecking order.

“When Gelhardt is better than Bamford, Rodrigo and Tyler (Roberts), that will be a triumph for the work what we’ve done,” Bielsa added.

“What I’m looking for, what I want, is for (Gelhardt) to verify that he is good, not to verify that he doesn’t have the level to play.”

Raphinha is available despite aggravating a slight hip problem against West Ham and Spain defender Diego Llorente is back in contention after recovering from a muscle strain.

Bielsa confirmed right-back Luke Ayling will be out until after the international break as his knee injury requires minor surgery and both Adam Forshaw (muscle strain) and Robin Koch (pelvis) were still out.

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Marcelo Bielsa felt his 10-man Leeds side deserved their victory over Manchester City on Saturday – but would not have complained had they lost.

Stuart Dallas struck twice, including an injury-time winner, as Leeds overcame the first-half sending-off of captain Liam Cooper to win 2-1 against the Premier League leaders at the Etihad Stadium.

City racked up 29 shots in a dominant display but, after equalising through Ferran Torres on 76 minutes, could not make their superiority count and were punished by Dallas late on.

Leeds manager Bielsa said: “They dominated the game, the majority of the chances at goal were in their favour.

“But the result was deserved because of the character, personality, effort and fortitude from a mental and physical point of view.

“It is a little bit strange to say it – as it would have been fair for City to win – but we deserved to win.”

It was Leeds’ first victory over one of the established ‘big six’ clubs since their promotion back to the top flight.

It was also a notable first win for veteran Bielsa over City boss Pep Guardiola, but the 65-year-old Argentinian refused to take any of the credit.

He said: “That Leeds beat Man City doesn’t mean I imposed myself over their manager.

“Guardiola is the manager of the team Leeds beat but I don’t consider anything on my part.

“I do think value belongs to the players for winning a difficult game.”

The dismissal of Cooper in the last minute of the first half for a bad challenge on Gabriel Jesus changed the nature of the game, forcing Leeds into second-half rearguard.

Referee Andre Marriner initially showed a yellow card before revising his opinion after checking on the pitchside monitor.

Bielsa did not give a view on the incident.

He said: “I consider the English refereeing positive and valuable, and VAR is a resource that ends the doubts over a decision.

“My opinion is not important because the referees are specialists and the tool of VAR helps them make the decision.”

Guardiola, whose quadruple-chasing side face Borussia Dortmund in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final next Wednesday, made seven changes.

He denied selection was a major factor in the result.

He said: “When you win you are a genius, when you lose you have to take it.

“I don’t have any regret about about the XI for selection because I trust a lot of them. If I didn’t trust them they would not play.

“Everyone was good but it is difficult against Leeds because they are used to winning duels. You cannot let them run. You have to control it and we did not.”

The defeat was only City’s second in 29 games in all competitions, 27 of which have been won. They still need 11 points to wrap up their third title in the space of four years.

Guardiola said: “When you lose a game you realise how difficult it is, what we have done so far.

“The Premier League must still be won. We need points still as our opponent can win all the games.

“Now we need to do it again. We have Aston Villa and then three of the next four games are like finals, in the Champions League, FA Cup, Carabao Cup.

“We have incredible confidence in the guys and defeat is sometimes is necessary to understand how difficult it is.”

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Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa was delighted his side delivered a Yorkshire derby win on the day the club remembered their record goalscorer Peter Lorimer.

Bielsa’s side climbed back into the Premier League’s top 10 after Jack Harrison’s opener and Phil Jagielka’s own goal secured them a 2-1 win against Sheffield United, who had equalised through Ben Osborn.

Lorimer, who scored a record 238 goals for Leeds in 705 appearances, died last month aged 74 following a long-term illness and the club paid tribute via a minute’s applause before kick-off.

Leeds fans Chris Loftus and Kevin Speight, who were killed in Turkey before a UEFA Cup tie against Galatasaray in April 2000, were also remembered.

“Victories always generate happiness and optimism,” Bielsa said. “When we lose someone it always generates sadness and memories.

“It’s very difficult for happiness or victory to compensate for the loss of someone, (but) it’s better to have one to say goodbye to such an extraordinary player.”

Leeds passed the 40-point mark by registering their 13th win in their first season back in the top flight.

But despite dominating for long periods, Leeds missed plenty of chances and were pushed all the way by their rock-bottom rivals.

“We won only by one goal,” Bielsa said. “When the opponent sees there’s only a one-goal difference they insist on arriving at the opponent’s goal.

“We had a sufficient amount of chances to have scored more goals. Many dangerous situations that didn’t end in shots that would have increased the options we would have had to score more goals.

“It’s very difficult in the Premier League to imagine a comfortable victory, at least for us.”

Blades caretaker boss Paul Heckingbottom made his first return to Elland Road since being sacked as Leeds manager after just four months in the role in 2018.

Heckingbottom, who was replaced by Bielsa, has now lost all three games in charge of the Blades after stepping in for Chris Wilder, while defeat to Leeds was their 24th in the Premier League this season.

“It’s been a tough year for everyone but we can either sit back and moan about that or start looking forward. And we want to look forward and start preparing for next season, whatever that brings,” Heckingbottom said.

“That is the focus. There were moments today that were very good but we didn’t capitalise on enough opportunities.

“When we did lose the ball and where we lost it was frustrating for us because it meant we missed opportunities to build pressure, but it also gave Leeds their best opportunities, which were on the counter.

“Those little moments where we were cheap in possession was the difference today.”

Heckingbottom confirmed both George Baldock and Jayden Bogle were being monitored after both were forced off due to head injuries.

“They are with the doctors getting assessed,” Heckingbottom added.

“George was a concussion substitution. He went through the test and appeared fine but reported some blurred vision so we brought him off.

“And Jayden took a bang and did not feel great so no risk, just brought him off.”

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Lionel Messi urges Barcelona to appoint Marcelo Bielsa as new head coach

Marcelo Bielsa, who has been a mentor to Pep Guardiola in the past, has previously managed in La Liga, taking charge of Espanyol in 1998 before leading Athletic Bilbao between 2011 and 2013.

Lionel Messi has reportedly expressed his interest in having Leeds United’s Marcelo Bielsa as the new manager of Barcelona after a disappointing second-place finish in La Liga last season.

Bielsa led Leeds United back into the Premier League for the 2020/21 campaign with a Championship title win, ending a 16-year-long wait. But the Argentine tactician is yet to sign a new contract at Elland Road.

The 65-year-old’s existing deal with Leeds is due to expire next week, and according to The Sun, Messi has urged Barcelona to bring the former Athletic Bilbao manager back in Spain.

After being appointed mid-season as the head coach of the Catalan club, Quique Setien is under pressure of losing his job after conceding the domestic league title to rivals Real Madrid by five points.

According to The Sun, Barcelona are yet to make contact with Bielsa’s representatives but the threat of a move “will set alarm bells ringing at Elland Road”.

Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani, on the other hand, believes that the Argentine coach will need no persuasion to extend his deal at the club.

“It’s on merit for him to be here and he deserves it. I think it’s an honour for Marcelo as for any other coach to be in charge of a club like Leeds United in the Premier League,” said Radrizzani.

“So, at the end, we don’t have to persuade anyone to stay at our club. It’s on merit and ambition because it’s a big club,” he added.

Bielsa, who has been a mentor to Pep Guardiola in the past, has the experience of managing in La Liga, taking charge of Espanyol in 1998 before leading Athletic Bilbao between 2011 and 2013.

Barcelona will take on Napoli in the second leg of their last-16 UEFA Champions League clash on August 8 with the tie delicately poised following a 1-1 draw in the first leg in Italy.