AT LONG last, after 19 bosses in 14 years, Leeds United look fit and ready to return to the Premier League under their most remarkable manager since Don Revie.
Marcelo Bielsa is the man. And if you have any doubts about his ability to lead Leeds out of probably the most fraught period any big city club has endured, check the opinions of Pep Guardiola, who calls him the greatest coach in the world and Mauricio Pochettino, once his assistant, and start to believe.
Reuters6 Leeds United fans are giving Marcelo Bielsa 10 out of 10
On second thoughts, refer to Leeds’ two added-time victories in the last six days and you can’t help but be convinced by the 63-year-old football-addicted Argentinian.
A goal by Kemar Roofe at Villa Park and two by the same player moments after Blackburn had taken a 2-1 lead at Elland Road caused dangerous blood rushes among jitterbugging fans.
More tellingly, it meant Leeds would head the Championship into the new year and look forward to taking their non-stop attacking football back to the Premier League.
During a match Bielsa, alone, peering through spectacles, tends to remain hunched on a cool box, largely emotionless.
Getty Images – Getty6 The last thing Leeds fans would want to see is their much-loved boss Marcelo Bielsa leave after less than a season
Reuters6 Pep Guardiola is a huge fan of Marcelo Bielsa and the work he has done around the world
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Reuters6 Mauricio Pochettino learned a lot from Bielsa through their time at Argentina
He has Napoleonic tactical skills but any day would prefer that box to a padded seat. He’s no prancing touchline camera fodder.
Quite a Christmas for the manager who picked up the press-and-run style of the great Dutch teams of the 70s.
Certainly different from continental Christmases, which he says used to consist of two hours’ exercise and 14 watching videos. I shed a tear here for Mrs Bielsa.
Her husband was appointed by Italian businessman Andrea Radrizzani to help overcome the distressed years of financial and, to an extent, playing collapse.
In the late 60s and early 70s Revie, a rival to Bielsa in thought-processing games, lifted two titles and several other trophies.
Getty Images – Getty6 Marcelo Bielsa's men look ready to return to the Premier League
He created an outstanding team but one which also stress-tested the laws.
Perhaps, because of this abusive behaviour, outside Yorkshire few people with long memories love Leeds.
Indeed, since Howard Wilkinson the place has been a graveyard for managers.
Not that various owners have done a lot to help.
Peter Ridsdale, who paved the way to the selling of the Elland Road stadium, and Ken Bates, under whom the club had gone into administration — and League One — gave way via one or two others to Italian tax cheat Massimo Cellino. Now Radrizzani owns the club and the sun is peering through years of darkness.