When Leeds signed United States midfield ace Weston McKennie and appointed American coach Chris Armas onto their coaching staff in late January, it seemed like a major show of support for under-fire manager Jesse Marsch.
A week later, that theory has already been kiboshed. Marsch has been sacked after leading the Whites to just eight wins from 32 matches in charge; they’re now hovering above the relegation places only on goal difference. Little has changed in the year since Marsch was appointed to replace Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds clearly felt they needed to act following the 1-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest.
Rivals like Everton, Bournemouth and Wolves have pulled the trigger on their managers this season with some success, with only Southampton’s managerial change going south (just watch Nathan Jones’ most recent press conference for evidence). Sacking managers has certainly been a huge trend of the post World Cup period in the Premier League, especially among those sides threatened by relegation. Leeds, as it stands, are 2/1 with most bookmakers to fall through the trapdoor.
The problem at Elland Road now seems to be that there’s no obvious successor to Marsch – or at least no clear plan to replace him swiftly. There has been some tentative talk of a Bielsa return, although most bookies see that as a long shot at 9/1.
West Brom boss Carlos Corberan is the current favourite, as short as 5/4 with some bookmakers at the time of writing, although his lack of Premier League experience is a concern for many. The Spanish coach certainly worked wonders at Huddersfield Town last season but Leeds, as Marsch and others can testify, is an enormous job.
Mauricio Pochettino is a big enough name to satisfy those fans desperate for a statement appointment, although whether he’d involve himself in a relegation dogfight, when a tempting Tottenham Hotspur return might be on the cards soon, is doubtful. The bookies clearly agree, with some rating him 9/1 to take over at Elland Road.
All this speculation comes just as Leeds prepare for a huge Premier League double header against fierce rivals Manchester United, playing them home and away in the space of four days.
Armas – who worked as Ralf Rangnick’s assistant at Old Trafford last season – is almost certain to be in caretaker charge for the first game in Manchester on Wednesday night and the Leeds kingmakers must get their skates on to make an appointment before the rematch on Sunday.
Erik ten Hag’s situation at Manchester United is altogether more calm and serene than the one facing Armas and Leeds right now. Even without the suspended Casemiro and the injured Christian Eriksen in midfield, the Red Devils are 4/5 favourites to win on Wednesday.
It might be a different story by the time Sunday rolls round. But that all depends on Leeds and whether they can start marching together in the right direction again. We might then see a new manager bounce.