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Andrea Radrizzani explains why he fired Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds United

The owner of Leeds United has revealed the reason behind the decision to part ways with Marcelo Bielsa.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - FA Cup Third Round - Queens Park Rangers v Leeds United - Loftus Road, London, Britain - January 6, 2019   Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa   Action Images/Paul Childs/File Photo
Paul ChildsAction Images

Andrea Radrizzani has spoken in an interview with The Athletic, detailing the reasons for parting ways with Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds United.

The Argentine coach, a fan favourite at Elland Road, spent four seasons with the English side.

“I told him face to face,” Radrizzani said. “It was very different to every meeting I had with him. In every meeting normally, he was open to a long conversation. In this case, he probably didn’t expect it because I always supported him unconditionally. I saw him hurt and speechless for the first time.

“I’d never thought to sack Bielsa,” Radrizzani continues. “I never thought this moment could happen, ever,” although he admits the Yorkshire club were already resolved to change manager when Bielsa’s contract expired this summer, even if relegation was averted. “He was a legend and he is a legend for what he achieved.

“The moment I started to have a doubt was (at Villa) when we drew 3-3. 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.” On February 20, in the aftermath of a 4-2 defeat to Manchester United, is when the decision came. Leeds recovered from 2-0 down to level the game but lost 4-2 with two concessions in the last quarter. Radrizzani says his mind was made up then but, after consulting the club’s board, they held for another two matches, a 6-0 defeat to Liverpool and a 4-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur. Those results left Leeds two points above the relegation places.”

Marcelo Bielsa.
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A combination of injuries, a thin squad, and tactics that were no longer working helped accelerate Bielsa’s dismissal. “At the end, I realised Marcelo had only one way, that he could not compromise with this way,” Radrizzani adds.

A new Leeds

Bielsa’s departure seemed like it could leave a big void at Elland Road. However, the Argentine’s successor, Jesse Marsch, has made a very good start this preseason. Leeds have recorded three wins, two draws and just one defeat.

Bielsa’s next gig

With his departure from Leeds, Marcelo Bielsa bids farewell for the eleventh time. Two as coach, Chile and Argentina and nine times at different clubs: Newell’s and Vélez in Argentina, Atlas and América in Mexico, Espanyol and Athletic in Spain, Lyon and Lille in France and Leeds in England.

It remains to be seen where Bielsa ends up next. Whoever appoints will know what to expect.