Marcelo Bielsa has allayed lingering fears about his commitment to Leeds United by not only signing a new one-year contract but claiming that the world’s best coaches would be delighted to work at Elland Road.
Despite the board offering a new multimillion-pound deal in May the 66-year-old Argentinian has spent most of this summer out of contract, yet the delay should be placed in context. Whereas with most other managers it would have represented a significant cause for concern, such an impasse is nothing out of the ordinary for the maverick Bielsa, who rarely agrees to sign up for more than 12 months at a time anywhere.
He is entering his fourth season at the club he led to promotion from the Championship in 2020 and guided to ninth in the Premier League last season after waiting until the eve of that campaign before putting pen to a paper on a 12-month contract.
Hours before the announcement of his latest agreement, Bielsa was at pains to praise the Leeds hierarchy for their investment in improved training facilities and infrastructure. “From my point of view this is an extraordinary club,” he said as he prepared for Saturday’s trip to Manchester United. “Leeds have made a significant contribution economically to provide the tools for a manager to prepare his players to be the ideal ones.
“It is not often you have a club who designates so much volume of investment to the improvement of the training. Everything that we need in this area, the club has resolved it with a very high investment.
“Whether that be the pitches, the facilities, the technology or commodities for the work of the players, I am very astounded by the conduct of the club. I think the most important coaches that world football has would value what this club means in terms of organisation, structure and the public.”
Despite the temporary lack of a formal deal with Leeds, the former Argentina and Chile manager did not return home to visit his family in South America during the summer, barely taking a day off as he, among others things, supervised the installation of a new training pitch at the team’s weekday HQ near Wetherby and devised an enhanced injury prevention programme.
Although no one doubted his devotion to Leeds there will be relief in the boardroom that the contract issue is resolved – and a full 43 hours before Bielsa’s players kicked off at Old Trafford, as opposed to last season when nothing was signed until 24 hours before the first league game against Liverpool.