Marcelo Bielsa's last game at Leeds felt like saying goodbye to a family dog

CRAIG HOPE: It felt like a sad goodbye to the family dog ​​and Leeds United under Marcelo Bielsa have certainly lost their bite. When Bielsa's departure was confirmed, there was little protest.

GB About: Leeds Publish: 02/28/2022 Edit: 02/28/2022 Author: Gardener


Marcelo Bielsa'sThere was no anger at Elland Road, no storming of the directors' box amid calls for the manager's sacking. It felt like a sad farewell to the family dog ​​and Leeds United under Marcelo Bielsa have certainly lost their bite. It was time for change and when Bielsa's departure was confirmed at 11am on Sunday, there was little protest from supporters. Rarely, however, will a manager leave four straight defeats – and a club heading for relegation – with as much affection and recognition as the Argentine's. Marcelo Bielsa has been sacked after almost four years as Leeds manager. United Leeds have failed to win any of their last six Premier League games and because of Bielsa, Leeds are close to the relegation zone after 16 years in the Premier League. He turned Championship players into top-flight stars and turned England internationals into Kalvin Phillips and Patrick Bamford, both of whom are currently sidelined. But what we've seen in recent months is a squad losing faith in Bielsa's indomitable method, a man for whom the notion of change doesn't extend much beyond the color of his side's shirts. Without that belief, some have begun to look like the second division players they may always have been. In December, Phillips gave Sportsmail a revealing interview in which he gave his unforced opinion on why Leeds failed this season. "One of the most important things is that we've already played against every team. A lot of teams come to us knowing how to play against us," he said. “They change their formation two or three times in every game and that creates disruptions in our way of playing. There's a bit of confusion.” Confusion. If the flexibility of Bielsa's system once confused the opposition, it now left his own men in a state of confusion. At Bielsa it works until it doesn't, and in truth it had stopped working from a point of six games long before that final run. However, it must be noted that Phillips was never disrespectful towards Bielsa. He made it a point to credit the boss for his own career change, tweeting on Sunday: "Thank you Marcelo for everything you've done for me. They've helped me grow as a player but most importantly as a person.” Bielsa helped Leeds to promotion after 16 years of waiting to return to the top flight of English football The rise and fall of Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds shows the impressive work His admission that Bielsa was "very stubborn" and wouldn't adjust his playing style felt significant, especially given Phillips' exposure to Gareth Southgate's pragmatism and versatility with England. He also mentioned the "language barrier" with Bielsa. After nearly four years and the use of a translator, you suspect this had diluted the message's impact and meaning. Because what we've seen against Spurs - and in the winless games before that - was a dysfunctional team scraping the bottom of Bielsa's touchline bucket in search of inspiration. Fit? Fit for purpose? Harry Kane was a key part in Tottenham's 4-0 at Elland Road on Saturday afternoon. Spurs became the fourth team in as many weeks - behind Newcastle, Manchester United and Everton - to face Leeds in various crises of their own. The submissive nature of the 3-0 defeat at Everton on February 12 was particularly damaging, prompting the hierarchy to speed up their deliberations on Bielsa's replacement. It had become easy to play against them. As one Spurs official commented ahead of Saturday's kick-off: "If we keep our form, our best players will be able to knock them out." That proved itself. Maybe the processes in Bielsa wouldn't have gone wrong with better players. Centre-back Diego Llorente and left-back Junior Firpo have been signed for a combined £31m but haven't improved the team. With the players available, Bielsa's cycle had apparently come to an end. He brought United back to Leeds, uniting a club, its city and its fans. Leeds became the 12th club in Bielsa's managerial career, after brief stints at Lazio and Lille, seeking escapism from a world of pandemic and fear. Bielsa, we rejoiced, was fearless. They have named streets and beers after Bielsa in this part of the world and now, in his absence, a statue is being commissioned. Yes, the 66-year-old may be gone, but he will never be forgotten by supporters who have refused to turn on their Latino adoptee, even in times as desperate as they are living now. Because what he has left behind - undeniably even for the most staunch Bielsa loyalists - is a side going back to the league. They sit two points above the relegation zone, having played two more games than third-bottom Burnley. The new coach, the American Jesse Marsch, takes over a team that has already been drilled to its physical limits. He can't make the usual soundbite of fitness level improvement. Leeds travel to Leicester next weekend in a bid to rectify their poor league form. Rather, the mental realignment of a team that seems disoriented is most urgent. They're exhausted - they don't lack fitness - but they need a new voice, something else to think about. On Saturday, her thought process was muddled. In the end there were boos from the stands for the first time in four years. Not directed against Bielsa and anything but malicious in their posting.


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