Kjetil Knutsen factfile: Leeds managerial target who has achieved 'legendary' status
Leeds United are currently looking for a new manager after sacking Jesse Marsch on Monday.
The Whites parted company with the American in wake of the club’s loss at Nottingham Forest at the weekend.
It was the Elland Road outfit’s seventh Premier League game without a victory.
Leeds haven’t won in the league since 5 November and only goal difference separates them from the bottom three.
Several managers have been linked with the Elland Road hotseat, including Bodo/Glimt’s Kjetil Knutsen.
According to the Daily Star, the 54-year-old is on the Leeds hierarchy’s four-man short-list for the role.
This list reportedly includes Carlos Corberan and Ange Postecoglou, ‘but not Steven Gerrard’.
Meanwhile, Mark Douglas reported for i News on Monday: “The club are also said to be considering overseas candidates.
“Bodo/Glimt coach Kjetil Knutsen – who ranks highly in any analysis of managers “over-achieving” with their resources – is a coach who has been looked at previously.”
Leeds target Knutsen – factfile
Knutsen would be a good shout for Leeds in terms of a manager for the long-term.
The Norwegian has been in management since 2009, but he only has three clubs on his CV.
This suggests Knutsen is the kind of coach who likes long-term projects and follows through on them.
His recent efforts with Bodo/Glimt – particularly in European competition – have put him in the spotlight.
He turned the modest Norwegian side from a struggling, recently-promoted outfit into a national powerhouse.
In 2018, Glimt only just survived in the Eliteserien.
The following year, they finished second. And in 2020, they won the title in record-breaking fashion.
‘Smashing a plethora of records’
As per scouting outlet Breaking the Lines, ‘it is worth outlining broadly his achievements.
‘In essence, Knutsen inherited a minuscule side that had just been promoted from the second division in the minnow that is Norwegian domestic football.
‘The odds were stacked heavily against Glimt and they looked certain to be relegated.
‘Knutsen’s first and foremost achievement was remaining in the division, which he narrowly (yet significantly) achieved by a margin of 3 points.
‘The season after there was very similar expectations yet Knutsen majorly overshot these boundaries and finished 2nd in only his second season in charge; amidst a youthful transition.
‘This berth into the top 2 secured them a European qualifying spot in which they were closely (and arguably undeservedly) defeated by giants AC Milan.
‘However, this was merely the start of a legendary season as Glimt would go on to win the Eliteserien smashing a plethora of records in the process and would retain the title the next season.’
In October 2021, Bodo/Glimt stunned the football world when they ran out 6-1 winners over Jose Mourinho’s Roma in the Europa Conference League.
It was the heaviest defeat of the legendary Portuguese coach’s managerial career.
‘Could be hugely beneficial to Leeds’
BTL then spoke of why they felt Knutsen is a good – and realistic – target for Leeds United.
‘Knutsen has shown his ability to maintain performance levels incredibly high despite an enormous player turnover and loss of quality,’ they continued.
‘His tactical expansionism and attacking mindset could be hugely beneficial to Leeds.
‘His contract expires in 2024 and fortunately for Leeds, there is still a noticeable monetary discrepancy between wider European football and the Norwegian leagues and therefore the compensation would be minimal.’
Better yet for Leeds, who have witnessed plenty of attacking football from their team in recent years, Knutsen is very much an attack-minded coach.
In February 2022, with Glimt set to take on Celtic – whose manager has also been linked with Leeds – Knutsen spoke of the similarities between the two.
“The manager has done a great job with the team,” Knutsen said, as per Herald Scotland.
“What for me is the most interesting is how they play football. Celtic’s DNA I really think is similar to Bodo/Glimt. Of course it’s a very interesting philosophy to work with.
“It is an interesting game. It is an attacking team against an attacking team. So, hopefully, we will get a lot of chances in the game.”
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