Hughes emerges as frontrunner for Leeds United job

Mark Hughes.
Mark Hughes.
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Mark Hughes emerged as another possible contender to replace Neil Warnock at Elland Road as a defeat to Ipswich Town nudged Leeds United’s manager closer to the exit door.

Hughes – the coach who stepped in when Warnock was sacked by Queens Park Rangers in January of last year – was heavily linked with the United job in the hours after their 3-0 loss at Portman Road on Saturday.

The ex-Wales and Blackburn Rovers boss has been out of work since his own tenure at QPR collapsed earlier this season but he is rumoured to be keen on succeeding Warnock for the second time in little over a year.

Hughes, 49, survived for less than 12 months in the job at Loftus Road and failed to enhance the positive reputation he established with Wales, Blackburn and, more recently, Manchester City, and his reign as Fulham boss in 2010 and 2011 also ended quickly and unsuccessfully.

Meanwhile, Paolo Di Canio, another touted as a possible replacement for Warnock, was appointed as the new Sunderland manager last night following the sacking on Saturday of Martin O’Neill.

interest in the imminent vacancy at Leeds appears to be growing as the Championship club’s season heads for a low-key conclusion.

Mathematically, United are within reach of both the play-offs and the relegation places but their loss at Ipswich – a 15th league defeat – and serious congestion on either side of them in the table pointed again to a mid-table finish.

Warnock will leave Elland Road before his contract expires in June and he talked after Saturday’s defeat about taking an immediate – and possibly permanent – break from management when the summer arrives.

The YEP revealed on Saturday that former Reading boss Brian McDermott will put himself forward for Warnock’s job along with ex-Bolton Wanderers manager Owen Coyle. Martin O’Neill has also become available.

The fight for the position at Leeds was thrown open last week when Nigel Adkins – a candidate rated highly by members of the Elland Road board – accepted the chance to replace McDermott at Reading. United did not make Adkins a formal offer and are presently engaged in talks about the sale of a 51 per cent share in the club to local businessman Steve Parkin.

Parkin, who spent last week in Dubai, is understood to have agreed the terms of the purchase of a majority and controlling interest in Leeds but the deal is subject to ongoing due diligence and far from a formality.

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