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Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds’ Promotion Story

They say Bielsa picks football clubs, they don’t pick him. This goes hand in hand with his love of football as he has to have things very particular for him to operate, this is alluded to later. Discounting his time between jobs, Bielsa has only taken one brake away from football which was a three-year hiatus after winning Olympic gold with Argentina in 2004. Despite all this, he doesn’t seek out jobs but instead rejects a lot of offers. For him a job offer is binary, it is either right or it is wrong.

A 2-0 home win over QPR on the 6th May 2018 capped off a long campaign for the Whites as they finished 13th. It was a disappointing season especially after the bright start under Thomas Christiansen but ended with just four wins in the last 16 matches with Paul Heckingbottom at the helm. Chairmen Andrea Radrizzani and director of football Victor Orta left the game together in a car and started talking. Andrea asked Orta who his dream manager for the project would be and without hesitation the Spaniard replied with “Bielsa”, he quickly followed this up saying it was a crazy idea and it was unrealistic.

Radrizzani however would back Victor and gave him the green light to contact him. Victor Orta called Marcelo but he didn’t pick up. The next day, the Argentinian returned the call, having already analysed seven of Leeds’ games from 2017/18, he agreed to meet Orta and chief executive Angus Kinnear in Buenos Aires. Victor, Angus and Marcelo spoke all day and late into the evening and its then that Bielsa’s imagination was captured. Many fail at this hurdle as there is a big difference between Bielsa’s interest in a job and his desire to take it. Although the meeting went well, Kinnear and Orta were frustrated. Every time the Leeds men tried to talk about the details of his contract, Bielsa would go back to talking about football.

Just as Angus and Victor were leaving, Marcelo Bielsa handed them a list of demands which included changes to Thorp Arch. Some of these demands included sleeping pods for the players in case he needed them to sleep over, boot marks being cleaned off the wall as he perceived them as a sign of disrespect and a plug socket being moved 3cm so it was in the centre of a wall. Somehow Bielsa has acquired land registry documents to Leeds’ training ground. The demands he has for the board and the players along with his meticulous work and attention to deal are some of the reasons he is labelled ‘El Loco’. “Do all that and I’m in”, Leeds were tantalizingly close to the dream candidate to take the reins at Elland Road.

There was one last stumbling block, the work permit. Due to Bielsa not working for three years apart from a short stint with Lille in France and him not having specific UEFA qualifications, it was difficult for him to get a work permit. He had only worked for 23 months over the five years prior meaning it was going to be a very big challenge, this meant his application required supporting references that would have to be very compelling. Then Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino provided one of the references for his long-time mentor and former Newell’s Old Boys and Argentina coach.

June 14th, 2018, Bielsa put pen to paper. The former Bilbao coach had signed for the Yorkshire giants. The project to get Leeds back where they belong had never looked better. This meant Orta had to fly to Greece to sack Heckingbottom before they could make the official announcement. Despite being sacked whilst taking his family on holiday and being a legend in Barnsley folklore, Heckingbottom was often seen at Elland Road supporting his former employers.

Pre-season was a mixed bag. The Whites didn’t play any of Europe’s elite, the biggest club they played was arguably Las Palmas, however, the results were mixed. Leeds won three, drew two and lost one which was a 4-3 defeat to Oxford United. In these games, Bielsa’s ideas were clear as they dominated but struggled to take their chances, a tell-tale sign for things to come.

Despite the loss of Ronaldo Vieira, only two major signings were brought in. Barry Douglas and Patrick Bamford arrived at Elland Road however, Douglas spent a lot of the campaign injured so it was pretty much the same squad the finished 13th the previous campaign. Kiko Casilla did come in after 27 matches had been played but his impact was limited.

2018/19 started well for Bielsa’s side, having won five of the first eight which included an emphatic 4-1 win over Lampard’s side at Pride Park. The season had its ups and downs, but Leeds did spend 18 weeks in first place with a further 15 weeks occupying the other automatic promotion spot. This along with xG dictated Leeds should have won the league by seven points. This was a tough pill to swallow for all involved at Leeds however, the biggest talking point happened in January.

‘Spygate’ as it was dubbed. A Leeds United member of staff was spotted at Derby’s training ground ‘acting suspiciously’. Bielsa admitted to sending the spy to check on any late injuries just to settle his nerves. Lampard complained in the media, at the time people sided with him but since joining Chelsea he has been labelled ‘moany Frank’. This threw Bielsa’s future in the air and he called a press conference.

It lasted for around 70 minutes. Leeds United’s coach called it to dispute claims he uses spies to scout, he showed all the research he did for each side. After going through Lampard’s Derby tactics for over an hour, he thanked the journalists that came and left. Derby had the last laugh in 2018/19 as they beat Leeds in the play offs. In the four matches they played against each other that season, Leeds dominated seven halves, but Derby performed better in the last 45 minutes which ended up making the difference.

After this crushing defeat, Bielsa’s team talk was short. He addressed the defeat, thanked the players for the commitment they had given him then picked up his bag and left. This made many unsure on his future which was emphasised when his “iron circle” of staff were seen clearing out their desks the next morning.

Bielsa stayed and took onus for the failure of the season just gone.

Before signing the new contract ‘El Loco’ travelled to London for a meeting. The meeting was with Kinnear, Orta and Radrizzani. Marcelo packed his presentation with analysis and statistics of his first year in charge. It really emphasised how well the squad performed and how big of an opportunity they had missed. He also went through how they could improve on the third-placed finish to win automatic promotion. The main three places he highlighted as priorities were better finishing of the chances they were creating, fewer injuries and better loans.

Bielsa ended the meeting with “and we need more luck. We cannot be this unlucky again.” This puts emphasis on the fact that statistically they were the best side in the league. Radrizzani, Orta and Kinnear left the meeting and said the same thing to each other, “he’s going to get us up”, they must have been the calmest club in the Championship knowing they had Bielsa as manager.

The Argentine’s confidence in the club and its players was infectious. The club re-committed to its multi-million-pound contract for Marcelo Bielsa and his backroom staff. He was confident he could squeeze a bit more out of every player apart from Mateusz Klich. The Polish international had started each of the 48 Championship matches in 2018/19, showing how much the new coach trusted him.

On May 28th, 2019, Bielsa put pen to paper again. Quickly, the pain was forgotten, and Leeds got back. During pre-season, Marcelo had them doing four training sessions a day whilst most clubs were doing two. This extra work really paid off.

Despite selling key players like Pontus Jansson, Kemar Roofe, Bailey Peacock-Farrell and Jack Clarke, Leeds looked better. The performances somehow topped those of the previous campaign however, the problem of taking chances was still evident. This is highlighted by Bamford scoring 16 league goals from an xG of 31 and him missing the most ‘big chances’ in the league.

Leeds finished on an expected points (xP) of 116, 10 more than the Championship points record, 15 ahead of Brentford and 26 ahead of West Brom who were second and third in this table respectively. Leeds fans won’t mind this as they’ve ended their 16-year absence from the Premier League and returned in style after much heart break. The club have overcome bad owners such Ken Bates and GFH, losing stars like Robert Snodgrass and Jermaine Beckford along with a bias against them from the FA and referees which saw the West Yorkshire side not be awarded a penalty for 5862 minutes. This streak ended on the 8th December 2018 after 65 league matches with no penalty, in that time 11 had been awarded against Leeds.

From the moment he has joined the club, Bielsa has embraced the Whites and any challenge he has been thrown. This has seen the fans instantly love him and even after the play-off defeat to Derby, the fans and club were desperate for him to stay on. Not only from the impact he’s had on the pitch which has been more than evident as he took the side from midtable to playing as the best side within a few weeks but also off the pitch.

One of the first things the Argentine did at Leeds United was he made the players pick up rubbish outside Thorp Arch for a few hours. He made them do it for the length of time a worker would have to work before they could afford a ticket, this was to show the players how hard the fans had to work to watch them. From always being happy to take photos with fans to shopping in the town centre, Bielsa has captured the hearts of the Yorkshire faithful by just being himself. Another way he showed his down to earth personality was when he moved out of the nicest hotel in Leeds that the club were paying for and moved into a one bedroom ‘nan flat’ that was above a sweet shop. Since he did this very early in his Leeds career, he’s been seen supporting local businesses, walking to work and even buying sweets from the shop for the local kids, almost in a Willy Wonka fashion.

He loves his flat in Wetherby and loves mixing with the locals. Leeds is a working-class city and thanks to Don Revie, it is devoted to football. People in Argentina who know him well say he found it easy to relate to the city. This could be one of the reasons West Ham failed to sign him in 2015 as he was being asked to join a much bigger city with less of a community feel to it. One of the main reasons he turned down their advancements was he has serious doubts about their owners.

All his goodwill, reconnecting the club to the fans and excellent performances and results on the pitch have seen him likened to Don Revie and it’s easy to see why. However, he has very much wrote his own story at Elland Road. Bielsa has become the most defining managerial appointment at the club since Howard Wilkinson in 1988 and the most influential signing since Gordon Strachan from Man United for a reported £200,000 the following year.

Due to some of his erratic behaviour, such as leaving Lazio after two days after the board broke promises, the club were prudent and had plans in place if Bielsa left. The club identified Slaviša Jokanović and Aitor Karanka, both of whom had won promotion to the Premier League in recent years and Orta was part of Karanka gaining promotion with Middlesbrough in 2016. They had no desire to stop the Bielsa project but knew he might leave at any point so put these contingencies in place. This showed sensible thinking and smart planning at the club, something the club had lacked for many years.

Victor Orta has been a crucial member of the board at the club since the summer of 2017, around the same time Andrea Radrizzani bought the remaining 50% of the club from Massimo Cellino. From singing “we’re top of the league” at the top of his lungs in the corridors during a Patrick Bamford press conference to bringing binoculars to Pride Park in the penultimate match of the 2019/20 season, Victor Orta is known for his antics.

One of the Spaniard’s trademarks at Leeds away from the business side is the monthly payday ritual. When Cellino was owner, he had the corridors redesigned to look like football pitches, this helped Orta come up the “halfway-line game” for the staff. Whoever rolls a ball closest to the halfway line from a set distance would win a £100 voucher from Victor Orta. The voucher was for one of two local restaurants, Ibérica or Fazenda.

However, over time the staff got very good at the game so Orta changed the game completely. He changed it to a pub quiz, and they were split into teams. It was the same prize for each member of the winning team, but they were told to go together for the meal. This helps the staff relax and get to know each other outside of the office.

Despite all the fun antics, Orta has key characteristics: passionate, tightly wound and devoted to the job. He has helped keep the Bielsa era at Elland Road by managing the demands of the coaches. Orta was a key figure in getting Bielsa to Leeds and keeping him there.

However, they have been known to clash. Some have heard Orta and Bielsa argue so furiously to the point that some think they’ll never speak to each other again. But when the dust settles, they forgive and forget and move on. Despite this, Orta does respects the coach’s personal space.

Victor doesn’t have an office at Thorp Arch and tends to visit the training ground around once every fortnight. Orta has learnt from his mentor, Monchi, who is known as one of the best Directors of Football in the world. This has led Victor to say, “never offer a coach advice unless he asks for it” and this applies more than ever to Marcelo Bielsa.

Not many managers are worth observing for their methods and personal touches but once again, Bielsa is the exception. His methodology has been evident from the very start. Before his first pre-season friendly against League Two Forest Green Rovers, he asked for full videos of the three games the Green Devils had played against non-league opposition. Forest Green Rovers manager Mark Cooper couldn’t believe the request for those matches or for the request for Leeds to film the match at the The New Lawn.

This is a clear example of Bielsa and his methodology. He is professional, respectful but doesn’t compromise. If players don’t hit his required running stats, they don’t play. If players don’t hit his daily weight targets, they don’t play If they can’t cope with ‘murderball’, they won’t play. If they can’t or won’t conform to his ways and everything, he asks of them, they won’t play and the club will actively try to rid themselves of the player.

This has seen him put players into groups when he joins a new club. He has the players he definitely wants to keep, the players he definitely wants gone and players he is unsure of. Leeds were no exception, but players can move between the groups. Mateusz Klich and Yosuke Ideguchi are the best examples of movement within the groups as they both started in the middle group and got their chance in the pre-season friendly against York. Although Klich seized his chance and became ever present in the first team, Ideguchi was loaned out to German side Greuther Fürth.

However, there are no exceptions to these standards, Pontus Jansson knows all too well. Despite ranking seventh for minutes played in Bielsa’s first year and the coach even going on to say Jansson was the Player of the Season that year. This didn’t matter though as the Swede complained about the return date from international duty, this saw Pontus get sold to Championship rivals Brentford for a cut price.

With the fitness, there is only one player who gets any leeway. Pablo Hernández, 35, is the only member of the squad that gets the leeway. Despite this he played the 11th most minutes in 19/20 and third the season prior.

But these standards can come at a cost. After averaging around five absentees per game in 19/20, Leeds were slightly more pragmatic in a 3-0 home win over promotion rivals Fulham. Pablo ‘El Magico’ Hernández featured in that game. He came on at half time for Bielsa’s pet Patrick Bamford, the Spaniard provided an assist before being taken off late on in the match as he was returning from a strained hamstring injury.

There are times when Bielsa’s lack of pragmatism can cause issues as witnessed in January 2020. The Whites had lost loanee Eddie Nketiah due to Arsenal recalling the English striker and were under pressure to bring in another striker. A move for Southampton’s Che Adams fell through so the club offered the Argentine other options however, he turned down Billy Sharp and Glenn Murray, two strikers who were Championship prove. The club brought the manager’s attention to RB Leipzig’s Jean-Kévin Augustin and Marcelo gave them the green light to get the deal done. The two clubs agreed a loan with an initial fee of £1.8 million and an obligation to buy set at around £18.6 million if Leeds got promoted.

The deal was done just before the deadline, but issues started. After only a handful of appearances whilst on loan at Monaco for the half of the season, Augustin’s body struggled. The Frenchman couldn’t cope with the high demands the former Bilbao coach put him under.

Jean-Kévin pulled up a hamstring in February and recovered thanks to the halt in football. From the limited clips and pictures, he looked in great physical shape however, towards the end of the COVID-19 lockdown the hamstring problem came back.

Despite Bielsa being a fan of the player when he is fully fit, his fitness along with his Champions League weekly wages which sit around £90,000 means Leeds are trying to get out of the deal. The West Yorkshire giants are looking in the small print in the legal contractual agreement to see if there’s a way out of signing Augustin on the permanent deal. Despite the big fee and monumental wages, it is reported even if they do have to sign him, it won’t affect the club’s finances in the summer 2020 transfer window.

Although the Augustin deal seems like a disaster from the outside, it has helped the club. It’s meant the club have been able to think if mid-season signings work for Bielsa. This is mainly down to how difficult it is to get up to speed and adapt to the new regime, no player is allowed to fall by the wayside. Even Ben White, who joined on loan in the summer of 2019, had to change in the under-23’s dressing room on his first day. Although Ben White went on to be one of Leeds’ best and most important players that season it really emphasizes a simple fact, respect from Marcelo Bielsa must be earned.

He is not only fastidious with the players but about Thorp Arch too. Every time Leeds have had to negotiate a contract with him, he has made it clear what he wants done around the training ground. Even during the break in football, Bielsa was seen walking around Thorp Arch with a pen and clipboard, around half an hour after he left, all the staff and board members had an email off him with jobs that needed to be done around the ground.

Most of these jobs are small like repainting the fences or cleaning boot marks off a wall as it shows a lack of respect. He’s previously talked with the ground staff about moving the sheds and seeding the banks just to improve the aesthetics. Most of the jobs are about maintaining the facility in every way like cleaning the patio. Some of these requests can be bigger though.

When he first joined, he requested that a running track was installed. The running track became very useful during the coronavirus lockdown, even Angus Kinnear starting using it. When negotiating the contract in 2018, Bielsa’s requests were implemented and they’ve really paid off. The players now have sleeping dorms, specific areas to relax with games and each age group has their own. The club also has a functioning swimming pool after Massimo Cellino shut it down in 2014 as a cost-cutting measure. Bielsa even took issue with the parking. The Argentine had said the morning chaos was causing stress to the players and this was a bad way to start the day. He convinced the club to create more parking spaces.

Before Bielsa’s appointment, the club didn’t have any intentions to raise the classification of the academy from category two to category one. The club thought it made no sense until their new £25 million training ground in the middle of Leeds was built. The changes with Bielsa there changed their mind and in early July it was announced. After a lot of investment, Leeds were awarded category one status for their academy by the Premier League.

His work ethic is infectious to his staff, highlighted by the amount of analysis his coaches and analysts produce. People around the club were surprised to find a report on a Championship club that was low down the league contained an eight-page report on their third-choice goalkeeper who hadn’t played a single minute of football that season.

Marcelo Bielsa loves analysis so much he has external employees, none of whom are funded by the club, carrying out projects for him. One project was about a goalkeeper in the HPYBET 2.liga, Austria’s second division, who plays as a centre-back when his side are in possession. Over lockdown he spent 19 hours watching Alfie McCalmont, a 20-year-old midfielder in Leeds’ academy. This was to grade his potential properly.

The players only see this side to him, the hard-working football enthusiast. He refrains from speaking to them on a personal level, this has seen very few have contact with him via mobile, but he does employ someone to speak to them if there are issues. He has previously said why he does this, “The more they get to know me, the less they’ll like me.”

To him, football is a business and he’s there to work. However, he is known for being a nice man, not only always making time for the fans. He runs Christmas raffles at Thorp Arch for the all the staff and players from every group. He gives the club money to go buy the prizes which include cars, widescreen TVs, laptops and new phones.

But like Don Revie, he treats everyone at the club with the same amount of respect. When the coronavirus lockdown ended, he insisted that Bella, the club’s long-serving chef, was the first to be brought out of furlough. During the lockdown, she brought him soup and left it in a container outside his door.

There are so many stories of Bielsa, and each show his characteristics and his thinking. There is a story of a player practising free kicks after training before Marcelo Bielsa dragged him back into the building. “I just wanted to do a bit extra,” the player protested but the player was told “If you’re able to do a bit extra, then you haven’t done training to the maximum.”

This is Marcelo Bielsa; He can go from charming to intense in a matter of moments and will challenge the player. Bielsa sets the highest standards within football, he has previously said “Football is about bringing joy to those who find joy hard to find.” And that’s who he serves the most, the fans.

But how do you play against a Bielsa side? How do you beat his Leeds side? How do you set up to stifle the movement, rotations, possession and hunger to press? How can you prevent the smart interplay and the moments of brilliance?

Quite simply, it requires luck. Bielsa has hours of analysis meaning he’s planned for everything. To beat his side, it requires his side to miss chances and your side to take any chance that come their way.

In 2018/19, Leeds beat Rotherham United home and away. Paul Warne, the Rotherham manager, said “The biggest thing about Leeds is their work off the ball.” He followed it up with “People talk all the time about how good they are on the ball, and I’m not saying otherwise, but the reason they control possession so much is that they press you so hard out of possession.

“You get the ball back and they’re on you immediately, forcing a mistake. Before long, it starts to get into your head, and it starts to tire you out. If the ball runs to your full-back, he either has to be sure to pick the perfect pass there and then or Leeds nick it back and they’re on top of you again. It becomes exhausting. You don’t get time to breath.

“Every team has pressing patterns and so on but their desire to win the ball is scary. What’s even worse is that you’re in the dugout and you’ve got (Marcelo) Bielsa next to you, sat on his bucket, like the calmest person in the stadium. You’d never see anyone else do that and he reminds me of a rugby union coach. By Saturday, his work’s done. Everything’s been prepared so meticulously through the week that he’s got the confidence to sit there and let his team play.

“It’s like going on The X Factor and being backstage next to Elvis Presley with his collar turned up. You’re wearing jeans and a white t-shirt and, psychologically, you fear the worst. That sounds awful, but it’s also a reality. He’s a lovely man though and was very polite to me when we met.

“I usually try to go for a bit of comedy before kick-off, a little joke to lighten the mood before it all gets serious, but because of him I was thinking, ‘Is a joke really appropriate?’ I’m not ashamed to say I was a bit starstruck. He is something special and I like his principles. The best thing for Leeds is that whenever he goes, he’ll be leaving a proper-legacy.”

Paul Warne is not the only manager to heap praise onto Bielsa. Marcelo is seen as a football godfather as he has been influential in modern day football with analysis, tactics and other coaches. Pep Guardiola has called him the best coach in the world, Mauricio Pochettino has said “He is like my football father” and when talking about influential coaches, Diego Simeone said “Bielsa taught me the most.” Numerous of players such as Alexis Sánchez Javi Martínez have praise him but some other big names have also spoken highly about him.

At the 2010 World Cup, Johan Cruyff said “Marcelo Bielsa’s Chile played the most attractive football at this World Cup,” high praise especially from someone famed on their style of football. Fellow Argentinian legend Diego Maradona has said “For me what Bielsa has done is worthier than what Simeone has. Marcelo made a team out of nothing.”

The Argentine has a win rate of 56% from his 100 games in charge at Leeds United, the best excluding Neil Redfearn’s four games in charge in 2014, nearly 3% better than Revie. The 3-0 home win over Fulham on the 27th of June was his 50th win as Leeds manager, a feat he managed in just 93 games. No other Leeds managed has hit that landmark in fewer games in the club’s 100-year history.

With the club paying around £3 million a season in wages for the coach, it has proven to be a great use of money. Radrizzani and Orta’s decision to spend money on a top-class manager has paid dividends. The change of spending money on a lot of players under Cellino and the first year of Radrizzani has been crucial in not only come to fruition on the pitch but changed the whole culture of the club.

After that underwhelming season in 2017/18 where the club had reportedly spent over £25 million in player transfers on 30 players compared to under £15 million on just seven players. 2017/18 was similar to the years prior with a “scattergun” approach to transfers where to club would take a lot of risks and go for quantity over quality. This led to many lost seasons, failed managers, failed players and failed regimes.

Leeds’ local rivals Huddersfield beating West Brom 2-1 on the 17th July 2020 confirmed Leeds United’s return to the Premier League. The Whites spent 16 years in the EFL which included a few years in League One. On the 18th July 2020, Brentford’s 1-0 loss away at Stoke confirmed Leeds as champions.

Marcelo Alberto Bielsa Caldera had done it. He immortalised himself in Leeds United history and the 65-year-old has reinvigorated the club. The Whites have returned to where they belong. A club of that stature, fan base and history should be in the topflight.

Although at the time of writing, Bielsa hasn’t signed a new contract, everyone at the club is confident. They’ve said they knew it would take long due to the complications, but money is never an issue for the former Chile coach.

Reliable reports say he is very happy at Leeds. His happiness is down to a many things, but the main ones are that no promises have been broken by the board and he loves the fans and city. He’s embraced the club and city and is loving his time at Elland Road. If he completes his third season, it will be the longest time he’s spent at a club and is only 12 games off his most games managed at a club, 112 at Athletic Bilbao.

The Bielsas have traditionally been architects and politicians. Marcelo’s sister, María Eugenia Bielsa, was the architect for the Newell’s Old Boys training ground Marcelo funded in 2018. Last December she was even appointed as Argentina’s housing minister. Their brother, Rafael Bielsa, is currently Argentina’s ambassador to Chile and is a former government minister in Chile.

Marcelo has always been different. He played as a defender from 1975-1980 for three different clubs in Argentina. He realised he wasn’t going to be a footballer at the top level so retired at the age of 25 and turned his attention to coaching. In 1980 he became Newell’s Old Boys youth coach until he was given the head coach role for the first team in 1990. His family are very proud of him and Rafael will always try to watch Leeds United.

Despite living in West Yorkshire, he is very close to his family, but Wetherby has become a very comfortable second home for him. Marcelo spent less than a week in Rosario, his home city, last summer.

There are times when Marcelo seeks guidance or advice but that is only to confirm a decision that deep down, he has already made. When it comes to something such as the approach from Leeds, he leans towards one option in “absolute solitude”, as someone close to him said. His overall evaluation of the offer plays more of a role than emotion.

However, emotion was a contributing factor with Bielsa opting to give Leeds a second season. He was destroyed by the loss in the play-offs. Even though he wouldn’t say it openly, he convinced that squad that they were the best in the Championship that season, he felt as if he had failed. He also wondered if Leeds would want to change direction due to the failure, but he was far from mentally beaten and finished, unlike his decision to leave Newell’s Old Boys in 1992 when he was mentally finished.

The negotiations for a new contract are well underway. Despite what many believe, there were hints throughout the season that if they didn’t achieve promotion in 2019/20, Bielsa was open to a third season in the Championship. The reduced wages wouldn’t have been a worry for him but if the club wanted him to stay, he would have done.

The club don’t have to think about that anymore due to the fantastic work Marcelo Bielsa and the players have done. After the 1-0 win over Barnsley in July, Marcelo quickly disappeared from view. He wanted to evade attention and didn’t want to risk emotions overflowing as the club were so close to securing automatic promotion. It was at that moment many realised, Bielsa’s story in England had only been half told.

The rollercoaster first two years are a window of what to come in the Premier League. In the company of someone of the world’s best managers such as Pep Guardiola, Jürgen Klopp and José Mourinho and the club will be looking forward to welcoming supporters back into Elland Road. The supporters who won’t know how to thank Bielsa properly.

When following a football club, there are often narratives, more often than not a romantic one will come to fruition. Bielsa has been a key role in the love story here, the love story belongs to him and Leeds United. His interest in Leeds quickly became desire, and that became love.

He has made many dreams come true and done what many have failed to do. To Leeds United fans and staff, he is a hero. To football fans, he is the godfather and a pioneer that changed the game and inspired many coaches who became his disciples. He lives and breathes football; he is almost impossible to not love.

The bottom line is clear: Marcelo Bielsa and his bucket will be leading Leeds United in the Premier League.


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