While a report in the print edition of last week’s The Sunday Sun did suggest a new deal for Marcelo Bielsa was close, the Leeds United manager is currently out of contract in a few weeks’ time.
Indeed, given this is a man who walked out on Lazio after just two days and has never stayed at a club for as long as he’s been at Leeds, it certainly does make sense to plan for a future without him, even if the ideal situation would be for Bielsa to stay.
Reportedly, that’s what owner Andrea Radrizzani has been doing.
Earlier this week, TuttoMercatoWeb claimed a meeting with recently-sacked Roma boss Paul Fonseca had been held in case Bielsa did leave his post at the end of the season, with the Portuguese the latest name to be touted as a potential replacement.
Previously, the likes of former Juventus boss Max Allegri and Rangers manager Steven Gerrard have been linked with a move to Elland Road and, given Bielsa is yet to extend his contract, it seems fair to discuss who might be the best choice before a deal is reached with him.
GIVEMESPORT writers Jonathan Gorrie, Joshua Cole, Sam Brookes and Christy Malyan have their say below.
If Bielsa does leave, Fonseca looks to be the best option.
Granted, Allegri is a much bigger name and the work he did with AC Milan (who didn’t have a vintage team at the time) does probably go somewhat overlooked given all he did with a star-studded Juventus but, at this stage of his career, surely he’ll be looking out for a higher-profile job.
In an interview with The Athletic back in December, Fonseca talked about how tactically versatile he was, moving from a possession-based game to one that finds space on the counter. Indeed, that seems like the next level up for Leeds United.
While they have been a pressing machine under Bielsa and a successful one at that, surely that cannot go on forever and those behind the scenes will be wary of making a radical change too quickly. If Fonseca could get that kind of philosophy across, his side could find a happy medium.
“With Bielsa’s future at Leeds yet to be resolved, it will be intriguing to see who the club will turn to if the Argentine opts to call time on his tenure at Elland Road.
“One of the managers who has been linked with the Whites job is Steven Gerrard who has spectacularly transformed Rangers’ fortunes in recent years.
“Having guided the Gers to the Scottish Premiership title by deploying an attacking style of football which has resulted in the club scoring 85 goals in 36 games, he may be the perfect fit for Leeds who have a similar ethos.
“Whilst it may take Gerrard some time to adapt to life in charge of a Premier League club, he may be able to lead the Whites into a new dawn if he hits the ground running.”
“Only one man for the job.
“If Bielsa does leave this summer, he can walk away with his head held high. Still, he may have one regret – not being able to take Leeds into the latter stages of a cup competition.
“Challenging for a trophy should be Leeds’ next target, and Allegri knows all about winning them.
“When he was at Juventus, he won the Coppa Italia on four occasions.
“He has shown that he can find the right balance between prioritising the league, and yet still doing enough to progress through the rounds in the cup. If he can do that at Leeds, he will take the club to the next level after Bielsa.”
“I see a lot of overlap between Rangers and Leeds. Both are clubs with huge histories who, until recently, have been forced into the shadows of their respective national games for financial rather than footballing reasons.
“Of course the situation for Rangers and Leeds is different now after fantastic seasons but that level of history and consequential expectation creates rather unique challenges for their managers. It’s not just about results and success, but also about the manager understanding the prestige of the club, its historic significance, the community connections and the high-intensity emotiveness of the fan base.
“It’s a unique kind of pressure that requires winning hearts as well as minds, and it applies to Liverpool too. That’s why Gerrard has been such a success at Rangers and why I think he’d be a massive hit at Leeds too.”