The most improved players under Marcelo Bielsa | Part 2

01 Mar 2020 06:59 pm, by YorkshireSquare

Bielsa’s philosophy is about repetition on the training pitch. His belief is that the longer he spends working with the players at Thorp Arch, the more he can assert control over every aspect of a player’s performance. The behaviour becomes second nature and everyone knows their role, even if they are filling in a different possession. The players press, track back, break and fill in as one. Under Bielsa they have learned how to read the game better and in turn that makes them better players too. Not forgetting their unbelievable fitness levels too, never has a group of players worked and run as hard. The next in out list of most improved players typifies this completely.

Stuart Dallas

Paul Madeley was Don Revie's Rolls Royce, the original ‘Super Sub’ and the most versatile player ever to wear the Leeds shirt...and arguably in the whole history of the Football League. Now Marcelo Bielsa has his own Rolls Royce in the form of Stuart Dallas. Not many players could hold their heads up high after the play-off debacle against Derby County but Dallas was certainly one who could with two goals to his name. That performance came from the left back position but his form has continued into the new season with ‘Mr Versatile’ playing all over the pitch. Right back, wing back, central midfield, you name it the Northern Irishman has played there for both club and country.

Never perhaps the most gifted player his work rate and dedication have always been recognised by his fellow players. This season, when perhaps chances seemed limited for Dallas following the signings of Harrison and Costa he has been Bielsa’s go to player. Injuries to Ayling, Foreshaw and Alioski have seen Dallas near ever present this campaign, in a multitude of positions, and one of Leeds most consistence performers wherever he has played. The likes of Hernandez, Costa, Phillips and White may grab the headlines but any promotion push this season will be reliant on Stuart Dallas, Marcelo Bielsa’s Rolls Royce!

Mateusz Klich

Mateusz Klich signed for Leeds United from FC Twente in the summer of 2017 for a fee of around £1.5 million, one of an incredible 24 players brought in by Victor Orta that transfer window. Behind Kalvin Phillips, Eunan O'Kane and Ronaldo Vieira he was well down Thomas Christiansen’s pecking order. His first and only League start for the 2017-18 season came on 26th September 2017, in the defeat against Cardiff City. Klich slipped in that game and lost possession which lead to a goal from Kenneth Zohore. Christiansen blamed Klich for the loss and he was sent to FC Utrecht for a six-month loan spell. It looked as though Klich may go down as one of Victor Orta’s many failures that season.

But Klich had unfinished business at Leeds United and he told Victor Orta as much as he headed out on loan. He soon found his form again in the Eredivisie with man of the match performances following, he even scored the winner in his final appearance for Utrecht. On his return to Leeds United they had a new coach, Marcelo Bielsa, and Klich had a fresh start. York pre-season saw him in the unusual positions of centre back and defensive midfield but he lined-up in his more familiar central midfield role against Stoke at Elland Road for the start of the season. A game Leeds United won 3-1 with Klich scoring the opening goal after just quarter of an hour.

Klich hasn’t looked back since that game against Stoke. Three goals in the first five games of the 2018-2019 season saw him called up to the Poland national squad for the first time in four years. He would go on to make 50 appearances for Leeds that season and was the only player ever present in the league. That run of games would continue into the current season with Hull City his 84th consecutive league match for Leeds. From a player with no look in to the first name on the team sheet Klich’s transformation under Bielsa is remarkable. Klich’s only regret is that he wasn’t coached by Marcelo Bielsa ten years earlier, if he had he believes he would be an even better footballer.

Read Part 1 | Jack Harrison & Kalvin Phillips >>