Leeds News

Rayo Vallecano man touted as next Leeds boss


Leeds United sacked Jesse Marsch on Monday after poor results had seen the club slip into dangerous waters, just outside the drop zone on goal difference.

Many names have been thrown into the ring with former boss Marcelo Bielsa and his disciple at Elland Road Carlos Corberan the bookies favourite for the job. Ralph Hasenhuttl and Mauricio Pochettino along with Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou are also in the running according to numerous reports but nothing has been confirmed, nor has any genuine interest been submitted.

One name that has sprung up over the last few hours is Rayo Vallecano coach, Andoni Iraola. Not many will know exactly who he is, and to be honest, with not watching massive amounts of La Liga, we didn’t know much either, so we delved into some research to see if he would be a good appointment for Leeds United.

Andoni Iraola, 40, is a retired Spanish footballer. He played as a right back for Athletic Bilbao from 2003-2015 and spent time working under Marcelo Bielsa. The Argentinian gave him the captaincy whilst he was his coach and he was a regular goalscorer from free-kicks and penalties. He went on to rack up over 500 appearances for the club scoring 33 goals.

In 2015 aged 33, he switched to the MLS and signed for New York City, playing alongside Frank Lampard, David Villa and Pirlo. He played 38 games for the American side spanning two seasons before his retirement in 2016.

He began his managerial career at cypriot club, AEK Larnaca in 2018, and then took the position at newly promoted CD Mirandes in the Spanish Segunda Division, taking the club to the semi-final of the Spanish Cup for only the second time in their history, disposing of La Liga sides, Celta Vigo, Sevilla and Villareal on the way.

He remained in the Spanish second tier and in August 2020 he took over at Rayo Vallecano. Earning a new contract after gaining promotion to La Liga via the playoffs. In the next season he again took a side to the last four of the National Cup, the first time in 40 years Vallecano had reached that stage and only the second time in their history.

According to Breaking the lines.com, His ideas are Bielsa-like. Bold, courageous, high-octane. His philosophy is refreshingly high risk, high reward, relying squarely on athleticism and commitment to maintain some sort of order within the chaos, whereby attacks are full-blooded and direct, and defence is immediate and aggressive.

Completing the 2nd most high-intensity actions per game, while also committing on average 3.2 men to the press after losing possession, it’s a demanding system, relentlessly positive and incredibly courageous for a side of such limited resources.

In an attacking sense, one of the principal ways in which Rayo look to break through the defensive line is through extreme attacking width and verticality, using tireless full-backs to stretch and overload the opposition back-line.

His philosophy is definitely similar to Bielsa’s, and the Leeds fans would love to see this type of football being played again at Elland Road. Some of the players already at the club will be familiar with this type of football and have knowledge of the system. Luke Ayling, Liam Cooper, Suart Dallas, Pascal Struijk, Jack Harrison, Robin Koch and Patrick Bamford have all played under Bielsa and thrived under his tutelage.

Whoever is appointed head coach is going to be a risk, and the club need to employ somebody who would stick around next season if the unthinkable were to happen. Someone who could get us back into the Premier League at the first time of asking.

Could Iraola be the man to replace Jesse Marsch? Who would you like in charge? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Check out the bumper deadline day Vital Football podcast below.

Share this article