Manager linked to Leeds plays ‘kamikaze’ football and hired ex-military as staff

Leeds United are ready to resort to drastic measures in the pursuit of Premier League survival with "kamikaze" boss Kjetil Knutsen on the shortlist to replace Jesse Marsch as manager.

The Yorkshire outfit wielded the axe on their American boss following a dismal winless run stretching back to the start of November and owner Andrea Radrizzani confirmed a thorough search for the new head coach was already underway.

Carlos Corberan, who worked as Under-23s coach during the reign of Marcelo Bielsa, was understood to be the Whites leading candidate but the West Bromwich Albion manager has instead penned a new deal at the Hawthorns.

Andoni Iraola, who's flourished at fifth-placed Rayo Vallecano in La Liga, has been blocked from leaving the Spanish club, while an approach has also been made for Feyenoord's Arne Slot.

READ MORE: Leeds caretaker boss nearly masterminds first league win away at Man Utd in 40 years

According to The Daily Express, though, one other man being closely monitored by the Elland Road hierarchy is Norwegian boss Kjetil Knutsen. The 54-year-old has transformed the fortunes of first-division outfit Bodo/Glimt after taking charge in January 2018.

Knutsen guided the Norwegian minnows to safety in their debut campaign in the Eliteserien before mounting a title charge the following season, which ended in a second-place finish.

A strong advocate for free-flowing football, Bodo/Glimt recorded back-to-back titles under Knutsen's stewardship, rattling in a staggering 102 goals during the 2021 season. Club captain lrick Saltnes describes his manager's methodology as "kamikaze", which could also be a reference to Bjorn Mannsverk, who is hired as the club's mental coach.

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A former fighter pilot, Mannsverk served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and flew missions above Libya but transferred into sports coaching in 2017. The New York Times report Mannsverk runs one-on-one sessions, each lasting 30 minutes, whilst also giving the players homework where they are encouraged to reflect on their emotions and experiences.

The squad regularly meditate together every morning and on the pitch, they will often gather around each other after conceding a goal to talk it through. Saltnes added: "I don’t think it would be possible to play like that without Bjorn and the mental work we do. No, I don’t think that would end very well at all."

Leeds started the post-Marsch era with a battling 2-2 draw at fierce rivals Manchester United on Wednesday evening (February 8), letting a two-goal lead slip in the second half. The Whites currently sit a point outside the relegation zone, occupying 16th place.


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