Leeds United’s season may have ended in failure but it was certainly a season to remember. One man made that possible.
Marcelo Bielsa was their fifth different manager in five seasons to start a campaign. There was hope that the inspirational Argentine could bring the good times back to Elland Road, and, yes, the happy ending Bielsa craved didn’t materialise but he’s injected life into a club that have been underachieving for too long.
No matter how gut-wrenching Wednesday night’s play-off implosion against Derby would have felt for the home faithful, they know they’ve witnessed something special this season with the way Bielsa has implemented his football philosophy on a young squad.
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With such vibrant football on show, Leeds supporters are obviously desperate for Bielsa to see out his two-year deal he signed last summer. Those fans will need time to grieve over a season that promised so much but fell flat, however, when the post-mortem begins, the conversations will start and end with the importance of keeping Bielsa at the helm.
“Now is not the time to talk,” Bielsa said when asked about his future by Sky Sports.
Much could depend on the level of investment from the top. Owner Andrea Radrizzani will need to assess the budget in the summer having spent big to lure Bielsa to Elland Road. His reported £3m-a-season salary may make it difficult for the hierarchy to loosen the purse strings in order to strengthen a squad that was down to the bare bones in the final few weeks of the season.
Plus, it may prove tough to keep the Premier League vultures circling the likes of Kalvin Phillips and Kemar Roofe. Bielsa will want guarantees that he has the required tools to continue his fine work.
When pressed in his press conference, Bielsa could not hide his disappointment, but said he would listen to the club’s proposals for next season.
“It’s not, as you can imagine, convenient to talk about this point right now,” the Argentine said.
“Anyway, the process and you know about this process, that’s why I’m talking about it, if the club offers me the possibility to carry on I will listen to this proposal.”
Hasselbaink doubts Bielsa stay
Sky Sports pundit Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink said: “I don’t think he’ll be here next season. It was always going to be one year and see whether they can go up. I’d love to see him stay because he does something different. I went to watch his training sessions and for me it was an eye opener. He does make players better – you can see that. He’s not afraid to play youngsters.