Leeds United have sacked their head coach, Paul Heckingbottom, after just 16 games in the job. The 40-year-old replaced Thomas Christiansen in February but Leeds are now searching for his successor and a 10th manager since 2014.
The club wish to make a swift appointment, with the bookmakers’ favourite the former Athletic Bilbao and Marseille coach Marcelo Bielsa. Reports in Spain on Thursday evening suggested Leeds had made initial contact with the Argentinian. The 62-year-old has been out of work since leaving the Ligue 1 club Lille in December.
Heckingbottom signed an 18-month rolling contract at Leeds after the club activated a £500,000 release clause in his contract at Barnsley.
Leeds finished the season 13th in the Championship, 15 points outside the top six. Heckingbottom won four games during his four-month reign. His final two matches – two friendlies – were in Myanmar, on the club’s heavily criticised post-season tour. Only one of the club’s previous eight managers, Garry Monk in 2016-17, has lasted a whole season in the role.
Leeds United managers since 2012
Simon Grayson: December 2008 – February 2012
Neil Warnock: February 2012 – April 2013
Brian McDermott: April 2013 – June 2014
Dave Hockaday: July 2014 – August 2014
Darko Milanic: September 2014 – October 2014
Neil Redfearn: November 2014 – June 2015
Uwe Rösler: July 2015 – October 2015
Steve Evans: October 2015 – May 2016
Garry Monk: June 2016 – May 2017
Thomas Christiansen: June 2017 – February 2018
Paul Heckingbottom: February 2018 – June 2018
“On behalf of the board of directors at Leeds United I would like to thank Paul for the commitment and passion he has demonstrated since he joined the club earlier this year,” said the club’s managing director, Angus Kinnear. “Our objective is to bring in a head coach with more experience who can help us reach the goals we have talked about since we became custodians of the club last summer. We are confident of making a quick appointment and we thank our fans for their continued support.”
Heckingbottom’s assistant and the former Leeds defender Jamie Clapham will also leave. The head of fitness, Nathan Winder, and analyst Alex Bailey will also depart, while the set-piece coach Gianni Vio – who was recruited prior to Heckingbottom’s arrival – will not have his contract renewed.