Yesterday Leeds United’s squad agreed on a deal to defer some of their wages and accept a ceiling to their pay, an agreement that will last for the ‘foreseeable future’. Like every club across football, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a catastrophic effect on day-to-day operations. Leeds United’s squad and senior management decision here allows for non-playing staff at the club to receive full pay.
The Whites have also suspended group training in light of social distancing rules and expectations that have been put into place. However, as Phil Hay writes in The Athletic, that does not mean that players have gone home to sit on their plush sofas, tuck into their favourite crisps and sit playing on their consoles all day. Far from it, it is business as usual for Marcelo Bielsa’s squad under his meticulously-precise gaze.
It soon became apparent after Bielsa arrived at Elland Road that things were going to have to change. He made changes at Thorp Arch, changes aimed at benefitting the players that he’d use to take the Whites forward. Stories of his infamous ‘murderball’ sessions and high-intensity training methods are the stuff of legends at Elland Road.
Since being sent home to minimise any infection risk, Leeds United’s squad have been given a very precise set of instructions and expectations writes Hay. The former Yorkshire Evening Post chief football writer adds that the squad all had exercise bikes delivered to them as well as being provided with “Catapult GPS vests, the Adidas running app, diet plans and specific scales for regular weight checks.”
Hay continues by adding that this only forms the core of Marcelo Bielsa’s expectations and that there are more specific examples that are tailored for each individual. He writes that “fitness plans are sent to their [player’s] mobiles every night” and that he [Bielsa] “expects them to submit photos of their weight measurements first thing in the morning, without exception.”
Some may term this as somewhat draconian and overbearing yet it is a feature of the keen eye that Bielsa has to detail. It all will be with a greater plan in mind, that plan will be seen when the football season starts up again.
Whenever that is, of course.