Leeds United

Leeds United

Premier League • England

Leeds warned of ‘toxic’ fan backlash with Bielsa consequence ‘not an option’

Marcelo Bielsa, Leeds v Liverpool

Leeds Utd have been warned to expect ‘toxicity’ after pundit Chris Sutton explained what they simply cannot do after sacking Marcelo Bielsa.

The Whites called time on the managerial reign of Marcelo Bielsa on Sunday morning. The Argentine will forever go down in the club’s folklore as the man who guided Leeds back into the Premier League after an agonising 16-year wait.

The mixed reaction to the news among the fanbase is further evidence of just how deeply connected to the club Bielsa was.

Despite repeated thrashings on the pitch and widespread criticism of his substitutions and tactics, Bielsa retained the support of many of the club’s most ardent fans.

Nevertheless, football is a results business, and Bielsa was relieved of his duties with the threat of relegeation now very real.

American Jesse Marsch is strongly expected to succeed Bielsa.

Marsch to succeed Bielsa ‘next week’

Leeds stated an official announcement could come on Monday, though transfer guru Fabrizio Romano recently tweeted Marsch’s appointment may not be announced until ‘next week’. That tweet was sent on Sunday night, however, so the journalist in theory could have meant the week beginning today (Monday).

The Italian confirmed a ‘full agreement’ has been reached with the former RB Leipzig boss.

Marsch’s first job will be to steer Leeds to safety, and Sutton believes the 48-year-old is facing an uphill struggle.

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Writing in his column for the Daily Mail, the pundit initially paid tribute to Bielsa while also stating what was his downfall. Sutton also categorically stated the Leeds board will face a toxic backlash if the club go down after sacking Bielsa.

“He was a master of chaos, and it is thanks to him that the juggernaut that is Leeds United returned to the Premier League after too long away,” Sutton said of the departed Argentine.

Chelsea lead race against Barcelona for Leeds winger Raphinha this summer

Chelsea lead the race for Raphinha from Leeds United with Barcelona falling short

“Maybe his stubbornness was his downfall. He loves that man-to-man marking system of his and stood by it to the bitter end. But then he’s had terrible luck with injuries.

“I’m not sure getting rid of him was the right move to make, in truth. There is a heap of pressure on Leeds to survive now under his replacement. You only needed to look at the reaction of the fans to understand what Bielsa means to them.

“They’re heartbroken. They adored him. They’d love a statue of him sitting on his bucket to be installed outside Elland Road, and I bet we hear his name sung by the supporters at their next home game.”

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“That’s just not an option” – Sutton

Sutton then pointed to a time when Bielsa previously overcame mid-season struggles, and suggested the mood will turn toxic if Leeds are relegated and Bielsa sacked in the same season.

“You can’t sack this beloved boss and still go down,” continued Sutton. “That’s just not an option. If that happens, there will be a real feeling of toxicity towards the board. Bielsa got Leeds through tough spells in the past.

“Even the 2019-20 season when they won the Championship, they secured only two victories in 11 games around Christmas and you started to think ‘uh oh’. But then they found form to finish first and win promotion.

“Bielsa was a refreshing addition to our game. Now he’s gone and Leeds have must-win games coming up against other struggling sides. The pressure is on if they’re to remain a Premier League club.”

READ MORE: ‘From admiration to despair’ – Gary Neville sad as Bielsa exit decreases Leeds excitement