Leeds United Keep the Pace in the Championship

[Image Credit: leedsunited.com]

When you consider yet another remarkable and entertaining Championship season, it is no surprise that people will go the extra mile in order to catch an extra glimpse of action. This was the case for one man who, armed with pliers and binoculars, was found hiding in the bushes at Derby’s training ground, spying on behalf of Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds. When it subsequently emerged that Bielsa had spied on every single previous opponent, it added a bizarre twist to an already enthralling season. Bielsa’s later impromptu press conference/coaching masterclass revealed the extraordinary attention paid to every bit of tiny footballing detail by a true football obsessive, but that fanatical attention does not stop there. For a man whose seat of choice during a football game is essentially a large blue bucket, it perhaps fits that he neurotically plans details down even to the placing of power sockets and the type of bulb placed in reading lamps.

That this attention to detail has undoubtedly benefited Leeds United is obvious by glancing at the table. Leeds sit second, a significant improvement on last year’s 13th, with 7 more points taken after 35 games than last year’s tally after 46. When it is considered that this remarkable upsurge has come about with little transformation from that team of last year, it emphasizes the qualities and impact of Bielsa, a true football theorist, attributed by many as one of the games greatest thinkers. By the time he signed for Leeds, he had watched every single minute of Leeds’ previous season, twice. Among his greatest advocates stand Pochettino, Simeone and most of all Guardiola, who flew and drove hours just to have a conversation.

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[Image Credit: the Telegraph]

And yet, questions over whether there is enough substance to go with his undoubted style have yet again re-surfaced. For a coach who is regarded as one of the world’s best, his trophy tally stands at a meagre Olympic gold medal and a few titles in his native Argentina. Having faltered away at a QPR team without a win in their previous 7, Leeds put in a much-needed thumping 4-0 victory against a good West Brom side to reassert their credentials. An early Patrick Bamford goal gave Leeds a 1-0 win away at Bristol City and a midweek fixture away at Reading proved comfortable for Bielsa’s men, who defeated Reading 3-0 with two goals from Pablo Hernandez. Consistency will be key in the next few months of a league which is usually defined not so much by a title race, but as a title slug-out, with the team who can take the most hits left standing victorious at the end. With this, Bielsa’s extraordinary attention to detail may help.