Marcelo Bielsa’s brand of attacking, progressive football has inspired Leeds to their best start to a season since 2009 as their draw against Swansea moved them top of the Sky Bet Championship.
Renowned for his work ethic, perfectionism and innovative tactics, the former Argentina boss – who is nicknamed ‘El Loco’ or ‘the crazy one’ for his maverick ways – joined the Whites in June following a demoralising season which ended with the club in 13th place and having sacked two managers, Thomas Christiansen and Paul Heckingbottom.
The 63-year-old Argentinian has engineered league wins over Stoke, Derby, and Rotherham and claimed a point at Swansea, with a Carabao Cup win over Bolton to boot.
Here, Football Paradise looks at his first five games at Leeds as he bids to rouse one of the biggest sleeping giants in English football.
Leeds 3 Stoke 1 – Championship, August 5
Bielsa began his reign with a convincing win over Championship pre-season promotion favourites Stoke. Leeds’ pressing and incisive passing put the Potters on the back foot, with goals from Mateusz Klich, Pablo Hernandez and Liam Cooper sealing victory.
Derby 1 Leeds 4 – Championship, August 11
Kemar Roofe scored a double as Leeds’ devastating attack thrashed Derby to continue their perfect start to the season. Klich’s 20-yard devilishly curling strike opened the scoring in the fifth minute before Tom Lawrence levelled for Frank Lampard’s Rams. But two goals from Roofe – including a superbly-struck second – and a header from Ezgjan Alioski wrapped up a pulsating win.
Leeds 2 Bolton 1 – Carabao Cup, August 14
Bielsa’s crowd-pulling power was clear to see as a queue for the Leeds ticket office snaked around the stadium ahead of the League Cup tie with Bolton. The Whites boss made eight changes to the side that thumped Derby, with summer signing Patrick Bamford opening his scoring account and Samuel Saiz doubling the lead with a powerful shot after an excellent break. Erhun Oztumer pulled one back for the Trotters but a much-changed Leeds held out as Bielsa continued to weave his magic.
Leeds 2 Rotherham 0 – Championship, August 18
Bielsa became the first manager to win his first four games in charge of the club after goals from Luke Ayling and Roofe claimed victory in the Yorkshire derby at Elland Road. Bielsa, watching the game from his famous upturned blue bucket, saw defender Ayling head Leeds into a 49th-minute lead before Roofe made sure of the win with a clinical finish for his third goal in four games. Ayling’s goal also meant that every starting outfield player for Leeds, with the exception of Gaetano Berardi, has either scored or provided an assist in the first three league games – quite the reflection of Bielsa’s attacking style.
Swansea 2 Leeds 2 – Championship, August 21
Leeds struggled to impose themselves on Swansea and their new swashbuckling style was subdued, with the hosts dominating the game at the Liberty Stadium. However, to Leeds’ credit, they never gave up and secured a battling draw to maintain their unbeaten start to the season thanks to goals from Roofe and Pablo Hernandez – a positive result away from Elland Road.
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