Jilted Leeds United stakeholders await reward for patience as face-to-face talks commence

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Former Leeds United target Andoni Iraola has agreed to become AFC Bournemouth boss while out-of-work Brendan Rodgers tipped for the Elland Road job has finalised a return to Celtic.

Leeds United’s pursuit of a new head coach continues undeterred this summer, but supporters could hardly be blamed for feeling jilted, or at the very least wondering what could have been after the appointments of Andoni Iraola and Brendan Rodgers at Bournemouth and Celtic, respectively.

Both men were tipped for the dugout at Elland Road at different periods this year, even if neither came materially close to the job. Iraola first was identified as a potential Jesse Marsch successor but elected to remain with previous club Rayo Vallecano where he saw out the 2022/23 LaLiga campaign.

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Rodgers emerged as a potential candidate shortly after Leeds’ relegation, when hope of luring someone with Iraola’s stock had all but dwindled.

Andoni Iraola has been appointed AFC Bournemouth manager (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)Andoni Iraola has been appointed AFC Bournemouth manager (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)
Andoni Iraola has been appointed AFC Bournemouth manager (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)

While Leeds were in contact with Iraola back in February, the club went in a different direction, anointing Javi Gracia upon it becoming apparent the now-Cherries boss was unattainable.

Similarly, Leeds have moved forward in the current interview process with other managerial targets after deducing that Rodgers had little appetite for a Championship rebuild at Elland Road.

Nevertheless, talk of both men coming in at Leeds was strongly backed by supporters online and on the terraces. They are appointments which will test the patience of fans who three weeks on from relegation and two weeks before the beginning of pre-season, still find their club without a head coach.

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That said, Leeds continue with in-person interviews for the top job at Elland Road. Neither Iraola nor Rodgers were considered realistic targets for a club who will visit Rotherham United, Plymouth Argyle and Hull City in the league next season, proving lessons have been learned from their pursuit of the Spaniard, and subsequent failed attempt to lure Feyenoord boss Arne Slot.

What their appointments at Bournemouth and Celtic may do, is exert additional pressure on Leeds' hiring committee, headed up by chief executive Angus Kinnear and incoming chairman Paraag Marathe, representing 49ers Enterprises.

While time is of the essence, Leeds will not be rushed into crowning a new manager – and thus far, they have not. The club have been diligent, first conducting virtual interviews, narrowing the pool of candidates before identifying those they believe can achieve an immediate return to the Premier League.

Carlos Corberan and Daniel Farke remain in the frame, whilst others are also under consideration. After four head coaches in four months, Leeds taking their time over a crucial selection is not necessarily a bad thing. They aim to install a manager who will bring stability, identity and above all, success.

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While the optics of two previously-linked head coaches pitching up elsewhere is anything but ideal, Leeds' managerial fate is still very much in their own hands. A club with the history of Leeds United will never be short of applicants when there is a vacancy, therefore the list Kinnear and co must whittle down is exhaustive. They’re getting there, though.

What the club must do is reward the patience of long-suffering supporters with the correct appointment, one which is expected in the coming days.