Rhodes to nowhere: Leeds United boss Heckingbottom axed on holiday

Paul Heckingbottom.
Paul Heckingbottom.
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LEEDS UNITED are looking to make a “quick appointment” to replace former head coach Paul Heckingbottom who was sacked on Friday morning 
less than four months after joining the club.

United ended weeks of speculation about Heckingbottom’s position by sacking the 40-year-old, who was on holiday in Rhodes.

The club are understood to be interested in former Argentina boss Marcelo Bielsa though other candidates are also under consideration.

Contacts in Spain believe the process with 62-year-old Bielsa is a good way down the line, with Whites managing director Angus Kinnear having spent time in Argentina last week.

The next boss at Elland Road will be United’s tenth in four years with Heckingbottom brought in from Barnsley to replace Thomas Christiansen, who was sacked in February.

Leeds financed a £500,000 release clause to buy the Yorkshireman out of a contract that he signed at Oakwell a matter of weeks earlier.

But Heckingbottom failed to arrest the club’s faltering form under Christiansen and amassed just four wins from his 16 games in charge, which featured eight losses.

Leeds finished 13th in the Championship table – 15 points off the play-offs – and the Whites are facing up to a 15th consecutive season outside of the Premier League.

Heckingbottom’s position had been in doubt for the past two months amid persistent claims that Radrizzani was losing faith.

Heckingbottom’s assistant, Jamie Clapham, has also left the club along with head of fitness Noel Winder and analyst Alex Bailey.

Set-piece coach Gianni Vio - recruited prior to Heckingbottom’s appointment - will also be moving on at the end of his contract.

The Whites head coach had been on holiday for the past fortnight and was not due to return to England until today.

He was informed of the decision by telephone on Friday having met with United’s director of football, Victor Orta, for talks on Thursday.

Whites managing director Kinnear said: “On behalf of the board of directors at Leeds United I would like to thank Paul for the commitment and passion he has demonstrated since he joined the club earlier this year.

“Paul came to us during a difficult period in the season and has conducted himself in an exemplary manner despite results not going as any of us had hoped.

“Our objective is to bring in a head coach with more experience who can help us reach the goals we have talked about since we became custodians of the club last summer.

“We are confident of making a quick appointment and we thank our fans for their continued support.”