European adventures, a Norwegian keeper & the best coach in the world
16 Jul 2021 11:25 pm, by YorkshireSquare
Good Morning. It's Saturday 17th July, and here are the latest headlines from Elland Road...
A mini European adventure awaits in pre-season
Leeds United are set for a mini European adventure following the announcement of their latest two pre-season friendlies. With fixtures against Guiseley, Blackburn and Fleetwood in the calendar already Leeds have now announced games against Real Betis and Ajax.
The Real Betis game is scheduled for Saturday 31st July at 12:30pm and will take place at the exotic location of Loughborough University Stadium. The stadium holds around 3,500 spectators and has hosted multiple pre-season friendlies involving Premier League teams as well as the UEFA European Under 17 championships. Tickets for the match will be sold by the club and information on how to purchase these will be announced next week. The two sides have never played each other before but they are a team familiar to new left-back Junior Firpo who played 43 times the Seville club between 2017 and 2019.
Leeds will then take on Ajax of Amsterdam four days later at the Johan Cruyff Arena on Wednesday 4th august at 7:15pm. Unfortunately, as the Netherlands remain on the UK Governments ‘Amber List’ travel restrictions apply and they advise against all but essential travel. As such no away fans will be permitted for the friendly and no away tickets will be made available. Leeds have never met Ajax competitively, but the teams have played against each other in a couple of friendlies. The last a Queens Silver Jubilee Match in 1977 when Leeds won 2-1 thanks to goals from Joe Jordan and Allan Clarke
Both matches will be streamed via LIVENow, the pay-per-view platform founded by Leeds Chairman Andrea Radrizzani last year. Are you looking forward to these fixtures? Do you think it’s right to play a game in a country travelling fans can’t attend?
Leeds United pre-season fixtures;
Guiseley, Nethermoor Park, Tuesday 27th July 19:30
Blackburn Rovers, Ewood Park, Wednesday 28th July 19:30
Fleetwood Town, Highbury Stadium, Friday 30th July 19:00
Real Betis, Loughborough University, Saturday 31st July 12:30
Ajax, Johan Cruyff Arena, Wednesday 4th August 19:15
Leeds set to sign Norwegian goalkeeper Kristoffer Klaesson
With Kiko Casilla departing for Elche on loan for the season, Leeds look set to sign 20-year-old Norwegian goalkeeper Kristoffer Klaesson from Valerenga as his replacement according to reports coming from Norway. Klaesson has been on Victor Orta’s radar for couple of years now and Leeds have apparently submitted an offer very close to his valuation. The young keeper has been impressive for Valerenga since breaking into the first team, making 54 appearances for them in the Norwegian Eliteserien, keeping 12 clean sheets.
One sticking point could be a work permit but Leeds are confident Klaesson will obtain a UK work permit according to Nettavisen journalist Stian André de Wahl.
The signing of Klaesson would mean Leeds had a very young goalkeeping department with Illan Meslier (21), Elia Caprile (19) and Dani van den Heuvel (18) already at the club. Are Leeds right to go for youth or would having a more experienced keeper at the club be beneficial, especially given the relative inexperience behind Meslier?
Bielsa, the best but the toughest - Gaetano Berardi
In a recent interview for TuttoMercatoWeb, Gaetano Berardi revealed that Marcelo was the best but toughest coach he had ever worked for.
I evaluated him with my own eyes, he has everything to be a great coach. He has shown it in the three years at Leeds, it is very difficult to work for him. He has great demands from all points of view. On a physical level you have to be perfect, nutrition, weight, you have to follow the programs given on summer days off to the letter. During the lockdown there was a specific program to follow. You must be the perfect athlete, before being a footballer.
This is his base, he starts here and works on everything else. He wants the footballer on a physical level to be able to work on other aspects. There is a lot of intensity in training and matches, therefore physical condition at the top. Then work on much more. Everyone can get his own idea, but for me he was the best coach I have had. For my part he really improved all the players, from the first to the last, especially this year with the guys who were the same ones who arrived from the Championship.
Bielsa has players such as Luke Ayling, Liam Cooper and Stuart Dallas playing at levels far beyond what anyone would ever have expected of them, far beyond what they would have expected of themselves. But is there a time when the intensity of the training and the demands placed upon them by Bielsa will catch up with them? Bielsa burnout has been proven to be a myth on a season by season basis but will his methods have a longer term impact on the players?