Marcelo Bielsa: Can “El Loco” Secure Leeds United Promotion To Premier League?

Marcelo Bielsa is regarded in certain circles within the game as an unheralded genius, coupled alongside status as a cult favorite, as well an innovative tactician whose scientifically methodical and highly obsessive management preparation and coaching has drawn inspiration for Pep Guardiola, Eduardo Berizzo, Jorge Sampaoli, Marcelo Gallardo, Matías Jesús Almeyda, Diego Simeone and Mauricio Pochettino; Pochettino incidentally made his debut as a player at Newell’s old Boys under Bielsa.
Charismatic, ambitious and meticulous in pre-game and post-game tactical nous, Bielsa’s well-documented appointment at Leeds United unequivocally remains as the club’s most high-profile appointment since Leeds United’s golden era of Brian Clough and Jock Stein in the 1970s.
Bielsa’s rich experience, savvy managerial heritage and ever-stubborn philosophy has otherwise created a warmly refreshing and much-needed forward thinking culture for Leeds United’s progression into the future. Bielsa’s articulate management and tactical approach is universally regarded for its sterling influence as opposed to the volume of trophies won.
Bielsa’s well-documented appointment as manager of Leeds United this past summer has been met with positive optimism amongst Leeds United supporters who invariably view Bielsa as the manager to steer the once-proud west Yorkshire club back into the Premier League; Leeds United were relegated from the Premier League in 2004.
Bielsa is Leeds United’s 18th manager since the club’s well-documented relegation from the Premier League in 2004, whilst being the fifth managerial appointment for The Whites since 2015.
The alarming attrition rate for managers at Elland Road has been pessimistically analyzed and dissected from the cynical point of mainstream media and Leeds United fans alike after years of underachievement, mismanagement and missed opportunity.
Prior to arriving at Leeds United, the seasoned Argentinean extensively compiled an informative dossier on every single formation and system utilized throughout all games during the SKY BET Championship in the 2017-2018 season in order to receive a work permit from the United Kingdom’s government. In addition to the Argentine’s uber-comprehensive dossier, Bielsa provided additional notes of frequency and variations.
The 63-year-old Rosario-born manager’s famous 3-3-1-3 formation is an attacking driven system richly comprised of high-pressing and high octane action underpinned by deft ball possession and movement; Bielsa was awarded as the IFFHS World’s Best National Coach (2001) during his six year tenure as manager of Argentina.
Since his arrival at Leeds United, Bielsa has operated all-day training sessions, as well as having a sleeping quarters installed in his management office in order to dedicate even further time to match analysis. Bielsa has also reportedly made Leeds United’s players collect litter from around the club’s training ground on the premise of the number of hours an average Leeds United fan works per week in order to afford a match day ticket.
In addition, Bielsa’s in-depth press conferences can often require up three to four hours of time when the intracacies of tactics and analysis are discussed and questioned. At Leeds United, Bielsa is currently engaging with the media via an interpreter.
However, Bielsa’s much appreciated fast track efforts to learn English has somewhat differed to others before him on the basis of answering media questions in English thereafter delegating with an interpreter between translations of Spanish and English.
During Bielsa’s six year stint as manager of Argentina, “El Loco” recorded a 61.7% winning record of 42 wins, 16 draws and 10 losses throughout 68 international games.
Roberto Ayala, Diego Simeone, Javier Zanetti, Martin Palermo, Ariel Ortega, Pablo Aimar, Walter Samuel, Claudio Lopez, Gabriel Batistuta, Juan Sebastian Veron, Hernán Jorge Crespo, Claudio Paul Caniggia, Javier Saviola, Javier Mascherano, Gabriel Heinze, Carlos Tévez, Nicolás Burdisso, Fabricio Coloccini and Andrés D’Alessandro are some of the very well-known names which Bielsa coached during his six year tenure as manager of Argentina.
Before his high-profile arrival in west Yorkshire, Bielsa’s previous domestic managerial job at Ligue 1 side Lille witnessed the eccentric and colorful Argentinean’s contract terminated. Throughout 19 games with Lille, Biela recorded five wins, five draws and registered nine losses (26.3% win percentage).
Prior to Bielsa’s seven month experience with Lille, the Argentine controversially resigned after just two days as manager of Serie A club Lazio in July 2016. Predictability has never been a strongly associated trait for the Argentinean.
The well-documented and very combustible nature of the Leeds United board and passionate Bielsa alike had initially been sceptically viewed as a relative recipe for disaster upon the Argentinean’s arrival in west Yorkshire. However, Bielsa, a former national team manager of Chile, has a career 44.4% win percentage record.
Bielsa’s career achievements as a manger includes winning a gold medal at the Athens 2004 Olympic games with Argentina, as well as finishing as runners-up in the Copa América with Argentina (Argentina’s last Copa América triumph was in 1993). Carlos Tévez’s solitary goal settled the differences for Bielsa’s Argentina to defeat Paraguay 1-0 in the Athens 2004 Gold Medal match.
At domestic club level in Argentina, Bielsa has won the Argentine Primera División three times (twice with Newell’s Old Boys and once with Vélez Sarsfield), coupled alongside being a runner-up in the prestigious Copa Libertadores; the well-documented South American version of the UEFA Champions League.
During Bielsa’s successful spell at La Liga side Athletic Bilbao, the Argentinean was also a runner-up in the UEFA Europa League, as well as a runner-up in the Copa Del Rey.
At present, however, SKYBET Championship leaders Leeds United have won eight league games in their current 2018/2019 SKY BET Championship campaign, whilst drawing six times and losing twice in the league.
Bielsa’s Leeds United have scored 28 goals and conceded 13 in 16 league games this season. Leeds United have also won three of their last six games and currently have 30 points. Second place Norwich City are level with Leeds United on 30 points although Bielsa’s side lead the SKYBET Championship courtesy of goal difference.
Leeds United face West Bromich Albion this Saturday afternoon at The Hawthornes in a much-awaited encounter which has the makings of an exceptional fixture. Darren Moore’s Baggies, who are currently on the cusp of the SKYBET Championship Playoff picture in seventh place, have won just one game in their last six after starting their season very strongly.
Leeds United under Bielsa, however, currently stand at the top of the SKY BET Championship. Sheffield United, Middlesbrough, Derby County, West Bromich Albion, Blackburn Rovers, Swansea City, Birmingham City, Bristol City, Queens Park Rangers, Brentford, Aston Villa and Stoke City are all in very realistic contendership for promotion to the Premier League in the current season.
According to English betmaker William Hill, Leeds United are currently 10/3 favorites to win the SKY BET Championship this season. Meanwhile, Sheffield United are 11/2 favorites at William Hill to win the SKYBET Championship with Middlesbrough also 11/2 favorites to be crowned champions.
Thereafter Leeds United’s SKYBET Championship game away against West Bromich Albion this Saturday afternoon, Bielsa’s side will then subsequently face Bristol City, Reading, Sheffield United, Queens Park Rangers and Bolton Wanderers in their following five SKYBET Championship encounters.
At present, Bristol City are currently twelfth, Reading languishing in 22nd place, whereas Sheffield United are presently third in the league. Elsewhere, Queens Park Rangers are 11th and struggling Bolton Wanderers are 20th.
The SKY BET Championship is officially the world’s most financially lucrative second tier division in the world, as well as the most closely fought division with no clear assurances at either end.
This season is very much make or break for both Marcelo Biela and Leeds United. Sixteen games into the season thus far and with 30 games league games remaining until the end of the season, the odds are seemingly favorable at this particular juncture for Bielsa’s Leeds United.
However, the questions remains: Can “El Loco” secure Leeds United promotion to the Premier League this season?

Dean Perretta

Dean Perretta is a 2x SEA Award-winning creative, Broadcast Journalist, Reporter, Courtside Analyst for BBC televised London Lions and Executive Producer who currently contributes to FOX Sports Radio, FourFourTwo Magazine and Muscle & Fitness Magazine.