Five Managers That Leeds United Should Look at to Replace Jesse Marsch

On February 6, after growing speculation as to the tenability of his position as Head Coach of Leeds United, Jesse Marsch was sacked after less than a year in charge despite coherently achieving survival last year. However, results this season have been desperately inconsistent and chairman Andrea Radrizzani’s patience had expired and felt after great deliberation that it was time to give the American his Marsching orders (if you’ll excuse the pun). Here are five options (in no particular order) that I see fit to replace him:


Marcelo Gallardo


In October, Gallardo announced that he was stepping down after an extremely successful 8-year tenure at River Plate; in which he won (substantially) more trophies than in the club’s history prior. In exact terms, he conquered Argentina and amassed 14 titles in the process.


He pays tactical homage to compatriot Marcelo Bielsa and the fluid possession-focused football of Pep Guardiola. Gallardo is well known for his adaptability and tactical diversity, but he finds himself unemployed after being snubbed for jobs across Europe (such as Ajax) despite his incredible repertoire thus far.


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A move for the 3-time winner of South American Coach Of The Year would be an invigorating, exciting and somewhat leftfield move for the West Yorkshire outfit and his socio-affectively attacking tactical structures would facilitate the vast amount of flair that this squad possesses. Moreover, the lack of financial burden makes him evermore feasible.


Kjetil Knutsen


Kjetil Knutsen has seemingly been linked with every vacancy from the mid-table of the Premier League to the low mid-table of the Championship since original linkages with a vacancy at Norwich following Daniel Farke’s departure in 2021. At the time, Knutsen was a very unknown managerial prospect and I covered his concurrent achievements here amidst this speculation.


However, he has remained absolutely loyal to his long-term project at Bodø Glimt and has been extremely successful. Whilst you can read in greater depth what he had done up to 2021 in the above thread, it is worth outlining broadly his achievements. In essence, Knutsen inherited a minuscule side that had just been promoted from the second division in the minnow that is Norwegian domestic football- he had previously been assistant to Aasmund Bjørkan who then moved into the role of sporting director and gave his role to his understudy.


The odds were stacked heavily against Glimt and they looked certain to be relegated. Knutsen’s first and foremost achievement was remaining in the division, which he narrowly (yet significantly) achieved by a margin of 3 points. The season after there was very similar expectations yet Knutsen majorly overshot these boundaries and finished 2nd in only his second season in charge; amidst a youthful transition. This berth into the top 2 secured them a European qualifying spot in which they were closely (and arguably undeservedly) defeated by giants AC Milan. 


However, this was merely the start of a legendary season as Glimt would go on to win the Eliteserien smashing a plethora of records in the process and would retain the title the next season. Knutsen has shown his ability to maintain performance levels incredibly high despite an enormous player turnover and loss of quality. His tactical expansionism and attacking mindset could be hugely beneficial to Leeds. His contract expires in 2024 and fortunately for Leeds, there is still a noticeable monetary discrepancy between wider European football and the Norwegian leagues and therefore the compensation would be minimal. 


Ange Postecoglu


Following the disastrous return of Neil Lennon to Celtic, the club was an ageing, deteriorating and ugly mess. However, the Celtic board were avant-garde and took an idiosyncratic chance on a charismatic Postecoglu after an extremely successful reign at Yokohama F Marinos. This risk has absolutely worked out with Celtic easing their way to the title after infamously missing out on ‘ Ten In A Row’ and they look set to retain their position at the pinnacle of Scottish football and once again defeat their noisy neighbours, Rangers.


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He has overseen this seamless transition by tapping into a previously esoteric market and player base in Asia which has formulated a great proportion of his playing squad. Furthermore, Postecoglu has portrayed his deftness and ability to develop and blood in young players to the first team. Tactically, Ange is expansive to say the least, often building out from the back in a 2-3-5 shape aiming to overload the half-spaces with frequent positional interchanging around pivot-man Kyogo Furuhashi.


Postecoglu, amidst abundant interest, has delayed talks as to contract extensions with the Glaswegian outfit and at the time of writing his contract will expire in May of this year and therefore (to speak metaphorically) the ball is well and truly in his court as to whether he will leave or not and if so Celtic will receive a penance of compensation compared to Postecoglu’s previously untapped value.


Christian Streich


Christian Streich is by far the longest-serving manager in the Bundesliga with a concurrent tenure of over 10 years at the helm of Freiburg. However, some of Streich’s finest work has come in the most recent years at the Breisgau-Brasilianer. Freiburg returned to the top flight of the Bundesliga in 2016 and have since modestly built upwards and have absolutely consolidated themselves as a mainstay at the pinnacle of German domestic football.


In their first season back after winning Bundesliga 2, Streich massively exceeded anyone’s predictions and guided his team to 7th place. Since then, levels have fluctuated yet Streich has kept Freiburg up and eventually in 2019-20 they began to flirt with the concept of continental football again with a finish in 8th. Last season, they were high-flyers and sat in the top 3 at Christmas time albeit a slightly poorer end to the season plagued by injuries curtailed their top-four hopes.


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Nonetheless, they achieved an impressive finish; ultimately in sixth place. Freiburg sit 6th this season and are only 6 points short of table-toppers Bayern Munich despite the loss of pivotal left-footed defender, Nico Schlotterbeck. Streich is noticeably a pragmatic coach with a vision of consistency and high performance levels which sometimes comes at the sacrifice of aesthetic pleasure.


Yet, in the predicament that Leeds find themselves in this facet of Streich may be a beneficiary as survival is the utmost goal and uncompromising results are synonymous with Streich’s philosophy. Contractually, Freiburg follow a club policy of not disclosing banalities of extensions to existing contracts yet it is common knowledge he signed an extension in May 2022 but the length is undisclosed.


Carlos Corberan


Not even a year ago, Carlos Corberan was preparing to lead Huddersfield into a playoff final that no one could have foreseen at the start of the year. Since their eventual loss at Wembley, Corberan has resigned from his role at the Terriers due to disagreements and a profound lack of backing from the board.


Olympiacos were wise to pick up Corberan at the start of their season yet Evangelos Marinakis (who coincidentally also owns Nottingham Forest who were responsible for defeating Corberan in last year’s playoff final) was reluctant to give Carlos any time to settle into his new position and was sacked after only 8 competitive games.


This brings us to the present, where Corberan is currently at the helm of West Bromwich Albion and has been the driving force behind a rejuvenation; concurrently sitting in the playoffs when they had previously flirted with relegation after a flaccid stagnation under the leadership of Steve Bruce. Corberan has adopted his tactical normalities; learnt and adapted from his time as an understudy to Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds United.


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Therefore, Corberan’s football is intense, front-footed and imposing and has had vast successes in the second tier. I must question whether there was a coincidence between the increasing inauspiciousness of Bielsa’s reign and the departure of Corberan as his assistant.


Corberan has an irrefutable emotional and sentimental connection something to Leeds which is something perhaps still somewhat bereft at his current club due to the lack of time and no doubt a hypothetical departure would cause mass anathema around the Baggies’ fanbase, I question Corberan’s inclination to stay despite his proclivity to achieve in the Midlands thus far.


By: Max Nicholls / @maxnicholls14

Featured Image: @Juanffran / Getty Images