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Marcelo Bielsa must stay to welcome Leeds fans back

Leeds United can be rather pleased with their return to the top flight of English football and the mastermind behind the current good times is none other than Marcelo Bielsa.

The arrival of the Argentine to West Yorkshire made quite a splash in 2018 and, although he would be denied promotion from the EFL Championship at the first time of asking, not even a global pandemic could stand in his way last season.

Last summer saw the Elland Road outfit top the second tier and, as soon as the trophy presentation was made, attention shifted to just how Marcelo Bielsa would cope in the Premier League and whether Leeds were there to simply make up the numbers.

It hasn’t been the case, however, and, with a potential top ten finish on the horizon, even if such an objective was not reached it would do little to diminish the overall efforts of Bielsa and his players.

This was no less evident than last weekend, as they travelled to the Etihad and got the better of champions elect Manchester City. A result that would have been impressive had Leeds finished the game with 11 men on the pitch, even more so after finishing it with 10.

Although the dismissal of Liam Cooper certainly generated plenty of column inches, it is the future of the former Athletic Bilbao manager that it continually creating the headlines and the longer his future is unresolved, the nervier supporters of the club will be.

Whether those fears are unplaced remains to be seen and if you look at Bielsa’s previous behaviour when it comes to signing contracts, they are not usually inked before the final day of the league schedule has taken place.

Which means although there is probably a great deal of nerve to be felt within the city of Leeds right now, the logical advice would be to sit tight for a few more weeks. Then again, Marcelo Bielsa is not necessarily known for doing the logical thing.

When you consider that the 1992 First Division winners are making the transition from Championship to Premier League look as simple as possible, there is a slight concern that they’ve already hit a glass ceiling.

Though this was a group of players who were set to impress, nobody quite expected the club to be punching far above their weight and hovering around 9th or 10th in the table is perhaps something that should have at least been a couple of years away.

Getting to where Leeds currently sit is one thing but smashing through into the top eight and sniffing out a chance of European football is another and it costs an eye-watering amount of money to make such a step. Inevitably this could all change significantly should the European Super League come to fruition.

Leeds do not have significant funds in the short term and, therefore, there is a chance that their rapid progress is halted after the summer break. A notion that doesn’t even factor in the dreaded ‘second season syndrome’ either.

Which could mean, the 65-year-old decides that in a couple of months, then would be the time to end his tenure and bow out gracefully. However, there is perhaps one other factor which could sway Marcelo Bielsa towards staying.

Presumably he would cherish the ability to hear the roar of a full Elland Road as it hosts a capacity crowd in the Premier League for the first time since 2004. The ground that previously played host to the likes of Tony Yeboah and Gary Speed has been empty for more than a year.

There is no doubt that the supporters within the City’s boundaries and Marcelo Bielsa have a relationship that is almost symbiotic and, therefore, it would be one which is difficult to break. What better way to strengthen such a bond than by having at least another crack at taking on the likes of Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp and who knows, a capacity crowd could be worth more than money itself.

Because if Leeds cannot get superstar players in during the next transfer window, they can certainly invest in their 12th man. Although it is difficult to quantify the effect of a home crowd, they are certainly worth an additional number of points at the end of the season.

If fused with the level of performance that Leeds have shown this season, it could be the catalyst for the club to kick on. However, for this potion to work, it must have Marcelo Bielsa as the mad sorcerer who dispenses it.

On the balance of probabilities, the 2004 Olympic Gold Medal winner is likely to stay on and start a fourth season with the club. It’s just that you can never second guess this managerial great and that means, you may need to expect the unexpected.

 


 

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