Andrea Radrizzani revealed he almost left a Leeds Utd match at half time due to what he saw on the pitch, and outlined the impact Man Utd had on his decision to sack Marcelo Bielsa.
The Argentine was removed from his post as Leeds United manager with 12 matches remaining last season. Bielsa was a firm fan favourite at Elland Road and retained a strong core of support in the aftermath of his dismissal.
American Jesse Marsch was brought in with relegation becoming a very real possibility. Marsch did what was required, narrowly guiding the Whites to safety with a nervy 17th-placed finish.
Leeds fans will be hoping that relegation scrap is the last they’ll see for a while. Indeed, with the new campaign kicking off this weekend, hope once again springs eternal.
However, in a comprehensive interview with the Athletic, Leeds chief Radrizzani has opened up on the gut-wrenching decision to sack such a beloved figure in Bielsa.
In doing so, he claimed he almost left their 3-3 draw with Aston Villa at half time due to the ill discipline he saw on the field. Furthermore, he claimed their 4-2 defeat to Man Utd was when his mind was irreversibly made up.
“The moment I started to have a doubt was (at Villa) when we drew 3-3,” said Radrizaani.
“I remember the media talking positively about our performance. The reality for me, at half-time I almost wanted to leave the stadium because I was so disappointed by the lack of discipline on the pitch, how easy it was to score against us.
“That was the first moment I realised maybe something’s wrong and the team cannot execute anymore what he’s been asking for the last years. They had started to become tired, mentally more than physically.
“I felt something was broken and that’s when you have a tipping point, but it was too soon to take a decision.”
Leeds board spared Bielsa after Man Utd defeat – Radrizzani
Radrizzani went on to reveal his mind was made up following the 4-2 defeat to bitter rivals Man Utd on February 20.
Leeds roared back from a two-goal deficit to level the scores soon after the break. However, the Red Devils would go on to take all three points and Radrizzani claimed that was the tipping point for Bielsa.
He claimed consultations with the club’s board resulted in a stay of execution for the Argentine. However, subsequent 6-0 and 4-0 hammerings at the hands of Liverpool and Tottenham followed and the board could hold on no longer
“At the end, I realised Marcelo had only one way, that he could not compromise with this way,” continued Radrizzani.
On the vitriol the decision to axe Bielsa generated, the Leeds owner admitted: “I expected that (the critical reaction), but I needed to think about the club. I could see that the players, emotionally and physically, were really at the end.
“We needed to change, we needed something to impact the group. It was risky both ways. It wasn’t easy to decide whether to potentially die with him or die with someone else.”
When asked if he was convinced Leeds would’ve gone down if Bielsa stayed, Radrizzani offered a simple one-word response: “Yes.”