Marcelo Bielsa has been, indeed is, like a breath of fresh air for Leeds United fans – air that is blowing away the stagnant cobwebs that these fans have been fed as a staple diet of late.
The Argentine coaching guru has swept in to Elland Road and, like the best of new brooms, has swept clean in all he’s done. He has managed to turn around a floundering juggernaut, a juggernaut manned largely by a motley crew of last season’s ‘failures’.
With the addition of really only Barry Douglas, plus some highly thought of youngsters, Bielsa has managed to turn a mid-table, mediocre team into one that is sitting comfortably in 2nd place in the table.
That’s the measure of the man. He has taken the average and moulded it into the beautiful. What was hissing and crackling analogue football has been expertly crafted by Bielsa into something resembling pure digital quality. That is a measure of the man the impact that he’s had.
On Sunday he gets the chance to continue that impressive journey with Leeds United against Wigan Athletic at the latter’s DW Stadium. Ahead of that was the traditional presser, and here’s three things that came out of it for Leeds United fans to digest.
Three things for Leeds United fans from pre-Wigan presser
1. It’s two cities at the back for Leeds United: Douglas and Dallas have been confirmed by Bielsa as being the starting full backs for Sunday. The Argentinian was complimentary about both of them, praising the positives they bring to the side to the highest degree. In a selection of contrasts, Whites fans will be thankful to see the talented assist-king Douglas return to his natural left-back berth. The same fans, or at least some of them, will not be waxing so lyrically about Dallas’ suitability at right back.
2. Insights into his football ethos: Bielsa also opened up about his preconceptions on English football and also how he wants to play the game. When questioned about whether teams were ‘finding out’ Leeds, Bielsa said that his view of football is that it is played creatively to beat frustrating opponents. He contrasted this with a negative ethos where teams waste time and avoid possession hoping to profit from mistakes – the classic actions of a counter-punch boxer. The Argentine also said that his perception of English football as one that punished such blatantly negative tactics has changed since arriving at Elland Road.
3. Saiz does matter: Last time out against Nottingham Forest, Samu Saiz was dropped gently to the bench in place of the more favoured Adam Forshaw. For Bielsa it was a purely tactical decision, saying it was because of the Spaniard’s fluctuating, up-and-down performances of late. However, he did go on later in the presser to praise Saiz’s ability to create impacts that unbalance the opposition. When he came on against Forest, this unsettling aspect was clear for all to see. He featured for 25 minutes, made 25 passes and 16 of these were aimed into the attacking third of the field. This alone shows that front-foot impetus that the tricky Spaniard brings to the Whites’ game.
Marcelo Bielsa pre-Wigan presser clips
— Leeds United (@LUFC) November 2, 2018