Marcelo Bielsa in for the 'long game' at Leeds United
20 Feb 2021 11:51 am, by YorkshireSquare
Marcelo Bielsa is much more than just a football coach. Just as Socrates (the Greek one, not the Brazillian midfielder) founded modern western philosophy, Bielsa is one of the influential managers in the modern era, introducing a third wave ideology in the Argentine coaching dichotomy. His disciples, Pep Guardiola amongst them, describe him as the best coach in the world. In his two years in Leeds he has revived the fortunes of a sleeping giant, improved his players beyond all recognition and changed the way that most Leeds United fans think about football.
There is no doubting Bielsa has changed our lives for the better. He has reconnected the club with the city and delivered us back to the promised land of the Premier League. The football Leeds have played, even in defeat, has been exhilarating and enthralling. It has been a truly magical time to be a Leeds United supporter. But there is always that daunting feeling over the horizon, that one day Bielsa will depart home to South America and this dream, this fantasy will all be over. A feeling not helped by his refusal to sign a deal longer than one year.
The end of each season has brought tension and speculation as to whether Bielsa would sign for another year. Photos of him sat with Victor Orta with piles of papers, rumours of him buying a new car have been the small glimpses of hope we have hung onto. As the start of our first season back in the Premier League fast approached Bielsa still had not put ben to paper. But he was still there, involved in encouraging new signings to come to the club, reading through his scouting reports in Costa coffee and overseeing developments at Thorp Arch.
But putting pen to paper, in reality is one of the last indications that Bielsa will stay. The biggest indications are how involved he is with the planning and preparations for the next season. With over half of the Premier League season gone and Leeds all but safe the planning for next season has already started and according to Phil Hay in The Athletic, Bielsa is heavily involved in that planning. People close to the Argentinian say he is more and more invested in the 'long game' at Leeds. Argentine journalists are reporting Bielsa remains absolutely committed to the ‘Leeds United Project’, music to the ears of Leeds United fans.
Without the billions of Manchester City and Chelsea behind them the Leeds United project will always be about evolution. Last summer Victor Orta splashed nearly £100 million on four key signings to strengthen the team, adding the international quality of Robin Koch, Diego Llorente, Rodrigo and Raphinha. Whilst Bielsa worked miracles with the existing squad, it is fundamentally a Championship team and more key signings will need to be made again this summer if Leeds are to secure Premier League football for the long term and step up to the next level.
Key to this summers transfer strategy will be to bolster the midfield. Mateusz Klich and Kalvin Phillips are key to the way Leeds United play and are very difficult for Marelo Bielsa to replace. Klich has been involved in all but one game of Marcelo Bielsa’s reign, even playing through a hip injury against Arsenal. But these demands are taking their toll and it’s clear the Polish international needs more support. Phillips is also irreplaceable currently with Bielsa having to shuffle the pack every time he is unavailable, weakening several areas at once.
With it looking as though Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds United are set to renew their partnership for a further season our dreams can go on, it's exciting to think what could be possible.