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Chelsea seek 10th straight home win

By ESPN Staff

Leeds to replace Blackwell with top name

Leeds chairman Ken Bates must make his first managerial appointment since taking the helm at Elland Road after axing Kevin Blackwell.

Leeds have already been linked with the likes of Glenn Hoddle and Claudio Ranieri, managers Bates appointed during his tenure at Chelsea.

Bookmakers also believe Swindon boss Dennis Wise, a Bates favourite from the former midfielder's Stamford Bridge playing days, could be a contender. However former Charlton manager Alan Curbishley was quickly installed as a firm favourite for the post.

Like Hoddle and Ranieri, Curbishley is currently without a club, however he has insisted there is no rush on his part to get back into football.

There was no comment from Leeds with regards to a new appointment.

Former manager Eddie Gray said: 'It's a big football club and it's a terrific job, but who knows who the chairman will have in mind?

'Whoever it is will inherit a side that is second-bottom of the table, but there are some good football players at the club.'

After guiding Leeds since June 2004, the club issued a short statement to confirm Blackwell's exit.

'The board of Leeds United have today terminated the contract of manager Kevin Blackwell,' it read.

'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 succeeded Gray as manager after spending 12 months as coach, but had come under increasing pressure from frustrated fans in recent weeks.

The 1-0 weekend defeat at Coventry was their third successive loss in the Coca-Cola Championship and saw Leeds slump to their lowest ever league position - second from bottom.

Gray told Sky Sports: 'As a football manager you live and die by your results.

'It's unfortunate it's happened, but that's the nature of football.

'Everybody knows that financially in the last couple of seasons things have been difficult for the club.

'I think the chairman Ken Bates has backed the manager very well. If you look at the players that have come to the club since Kevin was manager, he's signed a lot of players.

'A lot of players left the club as well, but I think the chairman has backed the manager for the majority of the players he's wanted.'

Bates rescued Leeds from liquidation in January 2005 and Blackwell had to rebuild the playing squad from scratch after all bar two of the squad who took the club to the Champions League semi-finals in 2001 were sold to pay off debts.

Leeds reached the play-off final last season after finishing fifth in the table, but were beaten 3-0 by Watford in Cardiff.