Given the reward Marcelo Bielsa lavished on Pep Guardiola – and obtained again in return earlier than Leeds’ excellent overcome runaway Premier League leaders Manchester Metropolis – it was maybe no shock the veteran supervisor prevented answering a query about what it felt prefer to beat the person he describes as “magical”.
“That Leeds beat Manchester Metropolis doesn’t suggest I imposed myself over their supervisor,” mentioned Bielsa.
“That Guardiola is the supervisor of the crew Leeds beat at this time, I do not contemplate something on my half. The worth belongs to the gamers.”
It’s typical of Bielsa, who stays an enigma inside the English recreation, partly as a result of he nonetheless conducts all his media conferences in Spanish, typically along with his head down, making it just about unattainable to analyse him.
But when proof is required to point out what he means to Leeds’ re-emergence as a Premier League power, it’s simple sufficient to search out.
Precisely three years earlier than his two targets allowed Leeds to turn into solely the second crew from 29 opponents to each forestall Metropolis successful and beat them, Stuart Dallas accomplished the complete 90 minutes in a 3-1 defeat at Preston.
The loss was in the direction of the top of a horrible run of 4 wins of their closing 22 league matches beneath first Thomas Christiansen after which Paul Heckingbottom as Leeds completed thirteenth within the Championship.
5 regulars from that sorry interval in Leeds’ historical past additionally began in opposition to Manchester Metropolis. Along with Dallas, Ezgjan Alioski, who created the winner, present England worldwide Kalvin Phillips, plus defensive pair Luke Ayling and Liam Cooper, traverse the hole between then and now, with Leeds sitting within the prime half of the Premier League after a season past their expectations.
Bielsa has led the transformation.
Little surprise some followers need his contract extension signed to cease them having to consider what they’d do with out the 65-year-old, whose deal expires on the finish of the season.
Bielsa’s contract concern
Discuss to folks at Elland Street and so they exude an air of calm about Bielsa’s future.
He prefers to cope with contracts after seasons have been accomplished, they are saying. That is true. Certainly, his most up-to-date one was introduced on 11 September, 24 hours earlier than the present marketing campaign started.
But, for all of the understanding over how the Argentine’s thoughts works, the uncertainty does have an impact. Proprietor Andrea Radrizzani confirmed that in an interview he gave to CBS Sports activities in February.
“It is as much as him,” mentioned Radrizzani. “We wait on his resolution however in any case, now we have already analysed the choices and what to do in case Marcelo would not need to be with us.”
The issue for Leeds is that, as with Guardiola at Metropolis, getting one other coach will not be the difficulty. The difficulty is getting one who can squeeze performances just like the one at Etihad Stadium out of gamers, a few of whom, three years in the past, have been within the backside half of the Championship.
“It’s a little bit unusual to say it could have been truthful for Metropolis to win however that we deserved to win,” mentioned Bielsa.
“They dominated the sport. The vast majority of the possibilities at aim have been additionally of their favour. However the consequence was deserved due to the character, character, effort and fortitude from a psychological and bodily viewpoint.”
Bielsa has his detractors. On Leeds’ final go to to Manchester, after they lost 6-2 at Old Trafford, his critics have been livid at how a coach might be praised for such a heavy defeat after using techniques that left his gamers uncovered.
The grit, dedication and organisation required to repel the Premier League’s most potent attacking power with a crew lowered to 10 males for the second half by Cooper’s unnecessary crimson card was extra in step with English traditions.
Though Leeds have secured some notable outcomes this season, their newest victory is definitely their greatest within the Premier League for the reason that 3-2 win at Arsenal in Might 2003 that ensured they’d stay within the prime flight for one more season.
Not that Bielsa would agree.
“It’s a part of Leeds’ marketing campaign within the Premier League,” mentioned Bielsa.
“In fact for the gamers to have the ability to overcome the difficulties of the sport at this time, it provides worth to every of the individuals within the recreation, however the place that Leeds get hold of within the Premier League this yr will probably be above anyone efficiency.”