Leeds United and the Bielsa Effect
Words by: Harry McMullen
You would almost need an archaeologist to pinpoint the last time Leeds United were in the top flight of English football, let alone challenging for titles. There was once a time where the Whites contended for England’s and Europe’s finest silverware, year upon year. Long gone are the days of Billy Bremner and Eddie Gray but this season Leeds fans have very good reason to be optimistic for a promotion back to the big time, Marcelo Bielsa is at the helm.
The season is still well within its infancy but many feel that Leeds now have a footballing identity of high pressing, positive attacking football. United have dominated possession in every one of their 7 league games, averaging 59% for their troubles. Not quite tiki-taka but a cut-price variant masterminded by Leeds’ new Argentinian coach Marcelo Bielsa. Bielsa’s resume is impressive by any standards, with spells in charge of Athletic Bilbao, Lazio, Marseille and the Chilean and Argentinian national sides, he is regarded as one of football’s best coaches. Once dubbed El Loco (The Mad One) by the South American press, Bielsa now finds himself in command at one of English Football’s biggest clubs.
Under Bielsa, Leeds have started the season phenomenally, sitting top of the league. The whites are the only unbeaten side in the Championship this season and after Saturdays last minute equaliser against Millwall, Bielsa has stated that the Whites can only ‘kick on and improve’ on an impressive start. Leeds host Preston North End (Tuesday 19:45) and Birmingham City (Saturday 15:00) at Elland Road this week as they wish to keep their unbeaten run alive. Only time will tell if Leeds are to be promoted but after 7 games, United are in the best possible position to mount a serious promotion charge.