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Leeds fires manager Bielsa to try to stay in Premier League

February 27, 2022 GMT
Leeds United's head coach Marcelo Bielsa looks out during the English Premier League soccer match between Leeds United and Manchester United, at Elland Road Stadium in Leeds, England, Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Leeds United's head coach Marcelo Bielsa looks out during the English Premier League soccer match between Leeds United and Manchester United, at Elland Road Stadium in Leeds, England, Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Leeds United's head coach Marcelo Bielsa looks out during the English Premier League soccer match between Leeds United and Manchester United, at Elland Road Stadium in Leeds, England, Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Leeds United's head coach Marcelo Bielsa looks out during the English Premier League soccer match between Leeds United and Manchester United, at Elland Road Stadium in Leeds, England, Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Leeds United's head coach Marcelo Bielsa looks out during the English Premier League soccer match between Leeds United and Manchester United, at Elland Road Stadium in Leeds, England, Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

LEEDS, England (AP) — Marcelo Bielsa was fired as Leeds manager on Sunday after another heavy loss dropped the team to within two points of the Premier League relegation zone.

“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,” Leeds chairman Andrea Radrizzani said. “Recent results and performances have not met our expectations.”

Leeds said it aims to announce the Argentine coach’s successor on Monday.

A 4-0 loss at home to Tottenham came at the end of a seven-day stretch in which Leeds was also defeated 4-2 by Manchester United and thrashed 6-0 at Liverpool.

Leeds is in its second season back in the top division, where Bielsa led the Yorkshire team after it spent 16 years in the lower leagues following relegation in 2004 brought about by financial mismanagement.

Leeds plans what it calls a “permanent tribute” at Elland Road to the coach who led the northern English club for nearly four years in his first job in English football.

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In its two years in the Premier League, Leeds has been one of the most exciting teams to watch, scoring lots of goals and conceding even more thanks to Bielsa’s hard-running and adventurous approach of attacking in waves and pressing man-to-man all over the field.

It has appeared naïve at times, especially against the big teams, but Bielsa has refused to eschew his longstanding philosophy that influenced the likes of Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino.

Leeds has conceded 20 goals in five games in February. That’s a Premier League record for goals allowed in a single month.

“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,” Radrizzani said. “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.”

English football will lose a charismatic manager who famously — and often entertainingly — continued to speak through a translator and who was the subject of a controversial episode that saw Bielsa admit to sending an intern from Leeds, then playing in the second-tier Championship, to watch an opponent’s training session before a game.

Leeds was fined 200,000 pounds ($270,000), which Bielsa paid out of his own pocket.

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