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By ESPN Staff

Struggling Leeds sack manager Blackwell

Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell has been sacked by the Elland Road board of directors after three-and-a-half years at the club.

Blackwell, who succeeded Eddie Gray as manager in June 2004 after spending 12 months as coach, had come under increasing pressure from frustrated fans in recent weeks.

The Yorkshire club's 1-0 reverse at Coventry over the weekend was their third successive defeat in the Coca-Cola Championship and saw them slump to their lowest ever league position - second from bottom.

A club statement read: 'The board of Leeds United have today terminated the contract of manager Kevin Blackwell.

'The club would like to place on record their thanks to Kevin for the work he has put in over the past three and a half years, the past two and a half of which were as manager.

'No further comment will be made at this time.'

Blackwell, former coach to Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock, chose not to comment on the board's decision.

Blackwell, a goalkeeper in his playing days with Boston, Scarborough, Notts County, Huddersfield and Plymouth, first took on coaching duties under Neil Warnock at Home Park.

When Blackwell arrived at Elland Road he had made a name for himself as an innovative, highly-qualified young coach under Warnock at Sheffield United and he was recommended to Leeds' new manager at the time Peter Reid.

But Reid lasted just eight months in charge and when Eddie Gray was sacked just six months after that, Blackwell became the club's fifth manager in under two years - all of which was the legacy of former chairman Peter Ridsdale's disastrous financial policy which plunged the club into over £100million worth of debt.

When current chairman Bates rescued Leeds from liquidation in January 2005 he soon stated publicly that goalkeepers did not make good managers.

Nevertheless, having rebuilt the playing squad from scratch after all but two of the first-team squad that had taken the club to the Champions League semi-finals in 2001 were sold to pay off debts, Blackwell steered the club to Championship safety in his first full season.

Leeds ended that 2004-05 campaign in 14th place and then reached the play-off finals last season after finishing fifth in the table, only to be comfortably beaten by Watford 3-0 in Cardiff.