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Thursday, 27 June, 2002, 13:31 GMT 14:31 UK
O'Leary sacked by Leeds
O'Leary with Robbie Fowler and Peter Ridsdale
Ridsdale (right) eventually decided O'Leary had to go

Leeds have confirmed manager David O'Leary has been sacked - having earlier claimed his sudden departure on Thursday afternoon was by mutual consent.

O'Leary had been in charge at Elland Road for nearly four years, and had spent almost 100m trying to transform the team.

But after failing to secure silverware or a Champions League place this season, he needed to sell his prized assets to balance the books.


It is hoped that an announcement regarding a successor can be announced in the next few weeks
Leeds chairman
Peter Ridsdale

The Irishman also had several off-the-field factors to contend with, including the trial of Lee Bowyer and Jonathan Woodgate.

But despite the increasing pressure on him, the news of his departure still comes as a massive shock to both Leeds supporters, and football fans in general.

"After four successful years, the pressures of some of the off-field incidents have resulted in both the company and Mr O'Leary agreeing that it would be of mutual benefit for a change of manager," chairman Peter Ridsdale explained.

"Leeds United would like to place on record its thanks for David's enormous contribution over the last four years.

"It is hoped that an announcement regarding a successor can be announced in the next few weeks."

Those possible successors include Celtic manager Martin O'Neill who has taken over from Republic of Ireland boss Mick McCarthy as early favourite.

O'Neill's odds were slashed from 4/1 to even-money favourite with bookmakers William Hill after the firm took 25 different bets of 100 or more on him.

  O'Leary's successor?
Martin O'Neill Evens Fav
Mick McCarthy 4/1
Gordon Strachan 7/1
Guus Hiddink 8/1
Alan Curbishley 8/1
Eddie Gray 12/1

Others
George Graham 50/1
Eric Cantona 100/1

Odds: 1700 BST, 27 June

But Leeds might be tempted to chase Guus Hiddink, the man who guided South Korea to the World Cup semi-finals and is now keen on a return to European club football.

O'Leary took charge of at Elland Road in October 1998, succeeding George Graham as manager.

The former Republic of Ireland international had been Graham's assistant and his elevation to the managerial position at the club was seen as the start of an exciting new era.

He guided the club to a Champions League semi-final in 2001 and brought in several high-profile stars in the search for glory.

Leeds captain Rio Ferdinand
Is Rio heading across the Pennines?

But Leeds struggled to mount a serious championship campaign last season, finishing fifth in the table.

The need to generate funds led to widespread speculation that England defender Rio Ferdinand would be sold to Manchester United for 30m - something O'Leary was clearly unhappy about.

Pivotal midfielder Lee Bowyer was also on the transfer list at the club after refusing to sign a new deal.

And Danny Mills, Mark Viduka, Harry Kewell, Robbie Keane and Olivier Dacourt have all since been linked with moves away.

Controversial book

The club's decision to dismiss O'Leary could also partly stem from his controversial book documenting the 2000-2001 season.

In 'Leeds United on Trial', O'Leary gave his opinions on the first trial involving Lee Bowyer and Jonathan Woodgate, as well as frank verdicts on Leeds during that season.

And his decision to release a book about his players while still in charge at Leeds made him unpopular with certain sections of the club's supporters.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's Kevin Howells
"The reasons for O'Leary's sacking are unclear"
BBC Sport's Mark Lawrenson
"I think it's known in football Leeds are becoming a selling club"
Former Leeds boss David O'Leary
"I tried to give it my best"
 VOTE RESULTS
Was David O'Leary a success or a failure?

Success
 64.62% 

Failure
 35.38% 

17288 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

Venables era begins

Leeds in turmoil

O'Leary dismissed

YOUR SAY
Links to more Leeds United stories are at the foot of the page.


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