David O’Leary has resigned as coach of Leeds United amid speculation that England star Rio Ferdinand will soon be sold to Manchester United.
“Leeds United PLC today announces that David O’Leary, manager of Leeds United Football Club has left the company by mutual consent,” a statement on the club’s website read.
“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.
“It is hoped that an announcement regarding a successor can be announced in the next few weeks. Leeds United would like to place on record its thanks for David’s enormous contribution over the last four years.”
Ferdinand, meanwhile, speaking on Skysports, admitted that he was stunned by the news.
“It’s a massive blow and I’m disappointed to see this happen,” HE SAID.
“He’s been with the club through good and bad. He paid a lot of money to sign me and he’s been brilliant for me, first-class.”
Just 24 hours earlier, the Irish coach had pleaded with his board to keep Ferdinand.
“We are trying to build a team here, not make Manchester United even greater,” said O’Leary.
Manchester United chief executive Paul Kenyon had admitted his club had enqiiured about Ferdinand.
“We’ve said things will be done after the World Cup,” he said. “Over the next few weeks things will start to develop, but there is nothing at the minute.
“I have spoken to Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale. At that stage he was not for sale and there has been no other contact since then.
“Tentative enquiries have been made about players because we are obviously looking at our squad for next season.”
Several Leeds players have been linked with moves away from the Elland Road as the club seeks to reduce its debts follwoing their failue to qualify for the Champions League.
Ferdinand, Lee Bowyer, Danny Mills, Mark Viduka, Harry Kewell, Robbie Keane and Olivier Dacourt have all been linked with moves.