Leeds United: ‘Bielsa Fever’ at Elland Road

Leeds United were very close to Premier League promotion in the last calendar year, completing the 2016-17 campaign in the Championship’s dreaded seventh position. Just missing out on a playoff spot, manager Garry Monk would depart soon after Andrea Radrizzani’s full takeover of the club.

After short spells from Thomas Christiansen and Paul Heckingbottom leading the squad, Leeds knew that they needed a coach who could guide them back to the top flight. They appear to have found that individual with Marcelo Bielsa.

The Argentine tactician became United’s highest paid manager in club history and has certainly taken on quite a bit of pressure in his new position. His first job in English football involves returning a storied side back to the first division for the first time in more than a decade. Bielsa’s style has been hailed as revolutionary by some, while critics will be quick to dismiss his sometimes erratic formations and tactics. However, Leeds supporters are happy with what they are seeing thus far.

Nicknamed “El Loco”, Bielsa’s desire to gather information and craft strategies is completely unrivalled. A dedicated worker, his determination to get the best out of his team and his players is at the highest of levels. This drive to succeed has served him well during his coaching career, with both club and national sides.

Bielsa’s time with Argentina and Chile both featured excellent performances and innovative philosophies, while he brought La Liga’s Athletic Club to two cup finals earlier this decade. Now with the goal of delivering the top-flight football, the 63-year-old has shown early signs that Leeds may have made the perfect decision to hire him.

Several players are taking to his style of play, and positive performances have already been witnessed early in the campaign. Pablo Hernández and captain Liam Cooper have been in fine form, each scoring in United’s 3-1 victory against Stoke City to open the Championship term. Striker Kemar Roofe seems sharp also, bagging a brace during the squad’s 4-1 win at Derby County. Adding in another positive result versus Bolton in the League Cup, Bielsa has become the first Leeds manager since the 1970s to win his first three games.

The Whites can feel confident that more results will go their way, and their manager has displayed in a short period that he will not allow failure. Described as a perfectionist throughout his career, his work has influenced the likes of Pep Guardiola and Diego Simeone. Bielsa is known to watch the video at an extreme rate and gives his time to the media in admirable ways.

Press conferences have been known to go on for multiple hours on occasion, and the Leeds manager never seems to say no to a tactical discussion. Bielsa takes in reserve and youth matches in-person, and the buzz at Elland Road has truly excited fans (with good reason).

Leeds United have a collection of talent capable of finishing atop the Championship, after coming so close to promotion in the recent past. Marcelo Bielsa may be viewed as crazy by some, but that madness may be the key to success for his current club.


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