11 The Daily Telegraph Monday 20 July 2020 ** Total Football s made disciples of everyone at Elland Road for them both – forget Revie and the past. And he has dispelled that myth, beloved of lazy pundits, that a manager needs to know the Championship to succeed.” Fourteen managers have tried to win promotion back to the Premier League in the 16 years of Leeds’ absence, not all without merit. In Bielsa they have a man who would be entitled to claim credit for his success and yet he is the one who would never do that. His modesty – manifest in the patience shown posing for hundreds of selfies as he makes his way around Wetherby, the market town where he has lived for the past 22 months – simply precludes it. He always takes the blame, never the praise. Even at last season’s darkest moment, when Kiko Casilla’s composure evaporated at 2-0 up against Derby almost three-quarters of the way through the play-off semi-final and a spooked team wobbled, he accepted responsibility, as he did for the overblown “Spygate”, putting only himself in the pillory for the pearl-clutchers to reproach. He remains an ardent fan of Newell’s Old Boys and his understanding of the irrational fervour we feel translates into the way he works. The least we expect is for players to run their socks off and his way demands sacrifice and hunger as every player’s body shape has been transformed into a slender and wiry physique to enable his side to maintain the relentlessness of their running. And he always tries to win. The evidence of his work is there on the pitch: pressing represents a kind of honesty, an appetite for hard work, but the fluency, flexibility, the angle and rapidity of the passes to manipulate defenders demonstrates how much he has educated them. It was only two years ago that the captain, Liam Cooper, was derided as “League One Liam”. His improvement under Bielsa has been almost miraculous. That is behind the smile he flashes with Laporte by his side. He identifies potential, unrecognised sometimes by the players themselves, and turns it into achievement. So long as the player has the physical stamina to play the Bielsa way, he will help him. He does not demand flashy signings and does not whinge and sulk at injuries, lack of resources or the grisly standard of refereeing in the Championship. There is an engaging purity in the way that if training and facilities meet his exacting specifications, he just gets on with it. “He gives off this unflappable air of knowing exactly what he’s doing,” says Prof Anand Menon, another fan approaching 50 years of following Leeds. “You can’t help but find it reassuring. And my god, the football he’s got them playing is simply fantastic. The Premier League have got a treat in store.” Whether it thrives or not in the Premier League will not affect how Leeds supporters feel about Bielsa. With him the promised land is not so much a destination as a state of mind. And Leeds have been there for two years already. Fell short The 14 managers who tried and failed in the last 16 years Kevin Blackwell Neil Warnock Neil Redfearn Steve Evans (June 2004-Sept 2006) Highest finish 5th. Championship. (Feb 2012-April 2013) Sacked when 12th. Championship. (Oct 2014–May 2015) Sacked when 15th. Championship. (Oct 2015–May 2016) Sacked when 13th. Championship. Dennis Wise Brian McDermott Garry Monk (below) (June 2016–May 2017) Highest finish 7th. Championship. (Oct 2006–Jan 2008) Resigned when 5th. League One. (April 2013-June 2014) Highest finish 15th. Championship. Dave Hockaday Thomas Christiansen Gary McAllister (June-Aug 2014) Sacked when 21st. Championship. (Jan-Dec 2008) sacked when 9th. League One. (June 2017–Feb 2018) Sacked when 10th. Championship. Darko Milanic Simon Grayson Paul Heckingbottom (Sept-Oct 2014) Sacked when Leeds were 18th. Championship. (Dec 2008–Feb 2012) Highest finish 7th. Championship, (Feb-June 2018) Sacked when 13th. Championship.
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