Extra training and new signings on the cards once Bielsa starts work
Friday, 15th Jun 2018 13:38 by Tim Whelan
It was always inevitable that once the appointment of Marcelo Bielsa was finally confirmed, that Leeds would find themselves at the centre of a media storm. And plenty of it is suggesting that Andrea Radrizzani will back the mad Argentinian with some serious ventures into the transfer market.
It seemed like the discussions between Leeds and Bielsa were dragging on forever, before ‘El Loco’ finally signed on the dotted line. This included four days of interviews in Argentina, after chief executive Angus Kinnear had to fly out to Bielsa’s native country to meet him. The length of discussion has led one media outlet to speculate that Bielsa needed some convincing that Leeds were a big enough club for him to realise his ambitions.
But in today’s statement on the official club website, Bielsa is naturally keen to give the exact opposite impression. “I am delighted to accept the role of head coach at Leeds United. It has always been my ambition to work in England and I have had several opportunities to do so during my career, however I have always felt it was important to wait for the right project to come along and so when a club with Leeds United’s history made me an offer, it was impossible to turn down."
And Kinnear told the club’s official Twitter account LUFCDATA that Bielsa’s reputation of obsessive attention to detail is well founded. “We were blown away by his knowledge in the meetings we had with him. When Andrea first met with him, he had already watched every single minute of every Leeds game from last season. He had a very clear perspective on the team’s strengths and weaknesses.”
After sitting through videos of the gradual implosion of Leeds United’s 2017/18, the Argentinian will have a very clear idea of the improvements we need to make to mount a promotion challenge this time around. The club have ditched the idea of starting training a week early, though they haven’t backed down to avoid interfering with the players’ holiday plans, it’s because the delay in agreeing the contract means that Bielsa won’t now get a work permit to start work any earlier than June 25th.
But to make up for lost time, they players will then have to endure double training sessions, as his tactics call for phenomenal levels of fitness. Bielsa requires his team to move quickly when we’re in possession to give the man on the ball plenty of options, and to press hard and outnumber the opposition when we don’t have the ball.
As for new signings, Phil Hay of the Yorkshire Post has tweeted “players I've heard - solid interest in Gunn, Bartley, Hernandez, Vydra. Told the club have looked at John Egan and Harry Wilson.” He went on to say that Hernandez and Vydra were either/or, as Leeds are not intending to sign both.
Angus Gunn is the young Man City reserve keeper who was on loan at Norwich last season, while Egan is a defender currently at Brentford and Wilson a 21 year-old winger currently at Liverpool.
It’s probably true that Radrizzani is going to be ambitious in the transfer market, now that he’s secured such a high-profile coach who can attract some top players. His whole plan seems to be to use Leeds to further his interests in securing worldwide TV rights, which will obviously depend on getting the club back into the Premier League.
Bielsa is also said to want to immerse himself in local culture and history wherever he goes, talking to local people and sampling the local food. If you’re reading this Marcelo, take a short drive down the A58 to Drighlington, where they have three excellent fish and chip shops in the village. We might also have to look out for our new head coach supping pints of Tetleys in the Old Peacock and visiting Jumbo records to seek out some music by the ‘Bridewell Taxis’.
So will it all work out, or will be as disastrous as his last venture into management, at the French club Lille? One problem will be that he doesn’t speak English, so he will have his work cut out to get his complex tactical ideas across to the players in a short space of time before the season starts. Even though we will have Saiz and at least one Hernandez who can talk to him in his own language.
But for the time being we can allow ourselves to dream. The last time I can remember this combination of intensive training and a lot of cash being splashed in the transfer market were in the early days of the Howard Wilkinson era, and that didn’t go badly for a while.
Bielsa told the official website “I am excited for the challenge ahead and I look forward to collaborating with Victor, Andrea and Angus, as we work hard to achieve great things at this football club”, so let’s hope it all works out.
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