Sam Allardyce and Leeds have decided to go their separate ways after the Elland Road club’s relegation to the Championship.
Although Allardyce presided over the collection of only one point during his four-match interim tenure at the end of the season, the staff and players at Leeds were highly impressed by his management style and the possibility of keeping the former England manager in the post next season was seriously considered.
Yet after a day of discussions with the West Yorkshire club’s chief executive, Angus Kinnear, on Thursday, it emerged that no agreement was reached, and it was confirmed on Friday that Allardyce had left as Leeds step up their search for a manager to lead a Championship promotion challenge.
“At this stage in my career I am not sure taking on this challenge, which is potentially a long-term project, is something I could commit to but I wish the club every success for the future and hope the club returns to the Premier League, where they belong,” said Allardyce, who described it as an honour to have managed the club. Leeds said the decision had been mutually agreed.
Allardyce’s appointment came at the end of a chaotic campaign in which Leeds sacked Jesse Marsch in February and his interim successor, Javi Gracia, at the start of May when they enticed the 68-year-old out of retirement for the final four games.
Whoever takes charge next season is likely to do so against a backdrop of considerable uncertainty. While it is unclear whether a successor to the recently sacked former director of football, Victor Orta, will be appointed or that position scrapped, the club’s ownership remains opaque.
Had Premier League survival been secured, the San Francisco-based investors 49er Enterprises, were set to increase their current 44% stake in Leeds by buying out the majority stakeholder, Andrea Radrizzani, but that deal now appears very much in the balance.
Radrizzani, meanwhile, is involved in a consortium buying Sampdoria, and Leeds fans reacted angrily when a report in The Athletic revealed that the chairman had offered Elland Road as collateral as he endeavoured to secure a £26m loan to help purchase the Italian club. Although it is not thought that Radrizzani, who owns the ground, did ultimately use it as security, the episode is not believed to have gone down too well with some of his fellow board members in Yorkshire.
This turbulent backdrop is unlikely to persuade either Brendan Rodgers or Graham Potter – two managers much admired by Leeds executives – to take charge of the team this summer. Nonetheless, both are likely to feature on a shortlist also expected to include West Brom’s Carlos Corberán and Lorient’s Régis Le Bris.
While Corberán previously served as Marcelo Bielsa’s first-team coach at Leeds, Le Bris is regarded as a rising star of French coaching. Allardyce is not expected to pursue another full-time football post.