BIELSA: I MISS THE CROWDS
MARCELO BIELSA has claimed the Leeds United party can’t start until their fans are marching alongside them in the Premier League.
Elland Road would normally be bouncing against Leicester tomorrow after a strong start to life back in the top flight for the first time since 2004.
Although bespectacled football professor Bielsa is no party animal, the studious 65-year-old is missing the rowdy vibe the home supporters provide. He said: “Football without fans... there is no comparison to football with them. They increase the spectacle and add something extra to it all.
“Without the contact from the fans, it is not the same for the players. Football is not the same and becomes less attractive.
“I know there is a big drama in the world preventing this. But football is a party and it is difficult to have a party with everything that is happening.”
It’s agony for Leeds fans who already had to curb their enthusiasm over promotion from the Championship – and they must now watch from afar while their energetic heroes grow in stature after taking to the Premier League like ducks to water.
Bielsa has instilled a no-fear strategy into his high-pressing, hard-running stars – and it’s paid off so far.
Having been edged out 4-3 on the opening day by Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool champions their only other loss has been a narrow 1-0 defeat by Wolves. In their other contests, Leeds battled to a more than creditable draw with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City and have beaten Fulham, Yorkshire rivals Sheffield United and Aston Villa.
Victory at Villa was earned through a dazzling hat-trick from centre-forward Patrick Bamford – a player critics said would struggle to step up. But the dangerous Bamford already has six goals, with his admirers believing he should be a candidate for Gareth Southgate’s next England squad to be unveiled later this week.
Bielsa (above) is too wily to be telling Southgate his job after managing on the international stage himself with Chile and Argentina.
He added: “I’d have had to study all the other strikers before I could make a good comparison, and every manager is concentrating on their own team. If you ask me if Bamford is a good player, though, I’d say yes and I would be very happy if he is under consideration with England.
“But there is another person responsible for making those sort of decisions, and it would be wrong for me to make a conclusion on it.”
Bielsa isn’t making any judgements on their start to life in the Premier League, either. He added: “It’s much too soon to say how we are doing.
“We cannot start saying who is going to do well yet. We have already had some ups and downs, and there are still more than 30 games to go.”