Leeds manager hunt dealt a blow as Andoni Iraola turns down move

  • Rayo Vallecano’s Iraola was favourite to take over
  • Leeds searching for successor to Jesse Marsch

A delegation from Leeds has returned empty-handed from Madrid after failing to persuade the Rayo Vallecano head coach , Andoni Iraola, to exchange Spain for West Yorkshire.

Iraola’s decision to remain in La Liga leaves Leeds’s hopes of introducing a new manager to the Elland Road crowd – when Manchester United visit on Sunday – very much in the balance.

Relegation threatened Leeds are desperate to recruit a new head coach following Jesse Marsch’s sacking on Monday but two key names on their initial four-man shortlist have now dropped out.

On Tuesday night, the West Brom head coach, Carlos Corberán, once Marcelo Bielsa’s assistant at Elland Road, put an end to suggestions of a return to Yorkshire by signing a new contract at the Hawthorns.

At that point Leeds were already exploring the possibility of extracting Iraolo from Rayo Vallecano and Victor Orta, the director of football, was leading the club’s delegation in Spain where they courted their top target.

Yet late on Wednesday night the 40-year-old, who has led Rayo Vallecano to fifth in La Liga and whose tactical philosophy is centred on the pressing game Marsch’s predecessor, Bielsa introduced at Leeds, finally emerged in public to tell Spanish journalists he was going nowhere.

Other options for Orta and co include the Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou and Bodø/Glimt’s Kjetil Knutsen. Although Feyenoord’s Arne Slot has been heavily linked with the vacancy, it is understood he did not feature on Leeds’s original shortlist and is unlikely to leave the high-flying Netherlands club.

It is thought Leeds are targeting managers currently in work but it is not inconceivable that, should they meet further closed doors, directors thoughts could turn to the immediately available Rafael Benítez or Ralph Hasenhüttl. While Orta is an admirer of Mauricio Pochettino, it is thought unlikely that the former Paris Saint-Germain and Tottenham manager would relish involvement in a relegation skirmish.

Before Wednesday’s night’s 2-2 draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford – the first of the teams’ two Premier League meetings in five days, the Leeds owner, Andrea Radrizzani, asked fans to be patient.

A day earlier the Italian had tweeted: “We are on it. Hopefully white smoke by tonight or (tomorrow) morning.” Yet by Wednesday evening Radrizzani was more circumspect, posting: “Not yet…….need more time.”


Louise Taylor

The GuardianTramp

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