Former Middlesbrough defender Gianluca Festa is the new bookmakers' favourite to succeed Brian McDermott as Leeds United manager.

The 45 year old is a former employee of Whites owner Massimo Cellino at Cagliari, where he operated as assistant manager and then reserve team manager between 2010 and 2012 while the Italian owner attempted to install him alongside McDermott last season.

Ex-Forest Green manager David Hockaday, former West Ham United and Watford boss Gianfranco Zola and current first team consultant at Leeds Benito Carbone are among the other contenders – however the latter has already been ruled out by owner Cellino.

"I have always said that Carbone will be in charge of the Under-21s next season and that doesn't change now," Cellino said on Saturday.

"We did not want to go on pushing, pushing each other, and we found a gentleman's way to part. Brian leaves the club on good terms, he is a gentleman."

Cellino has begun the search for just the second manager of his short reign at Elland Road after confirming the dismissal of McDermott on Friday following 13 months in charge.

McDermott was set to lead Leeds into the new campaign despite achieving a disappointing 15th place finish in the Championship last term, amid a season of uncertainty over the club's future.

"Brian has been very understanding of my wish to implement a new structure," said the 67 year old.

"He is a great manager and a great guy. He has been unfortunate to work in such difficult circumstances."

Having originally been sacked in February only to be reinstated, McDermott has endured months of upheaval at Leeds but has made a graceful exit from the west Yorkshire club.

"Massimo wants to bring a new energy to the club so that we can return to where we belong as a healthy football club," said McDermott.

"To my players for their efforts I say a big thank you. To all the staff I am especially grateful for their support.

"Finally, to the incredible force that is the Leeds United supporters, I offer my heartfelt thanks.

"I urge everyone to get behind the team and the new owner next season to get us back to where we need to be, fighting for trophies and competing at the top-table of English and European football."