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Leeds United: Continuando el Legado

Started on 22 November 2021 by Jack
Latest Reply on 26 January 2022 by J_ames

Bielsa Departs Leeds

Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa has confirmed that he has left the club following the expiry of his contract at Elland Road.

The 65-year-old Argentinian became a legend at the Whites for securing their return to the English top-flight after Leeds were relegated under club icon Eddie Gray in 2004.

Bielsa took over from the sacked Paul Heckingbottom after the 2017/18 season when the club tumbled down the division under the ex-Barnsley man following an impressive start with the now-Panama manager Thomas Christiansen.

Leeds’ animated Spanish Director of Football Victor Orta was influential in bringing Bielsa from Rosario to West Yorkshire, having initially suggested the hire when asked who his favourite manager in the world is by club chairman Andrea Radrizzani.

Following 4 weeks of intense negotiations between Bielsa’s representatives and the Leeds United board, Bielsa was officially unveiled as the Whites’ new manager on 15th June 2018.

Bielsa gave up Leeds’ Championship automatic promotion spot to Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United in his first season with a disappointing run of games towards the end of the 2018/19 season dropping them into the dreaded Play-Offs, where they lost a First Leg lead in the Semi-Finals to Frank Lampard’s Derby County at Elland Road.

Leeds added to 2018/19s relative success by adding Hélder Costa, Ben White, Illan Meslier and Eddie Nketiah, funded by Jack Clarke’s £11million move to Tottenham Hotspur, managed by José Mourinho.

In one of the most impressive promotion seasons the Championship has seen, Bielsa led his Leeds United team to the league title with a 10 point gap between their closest competitors West Bromwich Albion.

Continuing from COVID-19s impact on crowds at games, Leeds United’s return to the Premier League brought Bielsa’s achievements to a wider European audience as they finished 9th in their first season back, finishing just three points away from a European qualification spot.

One of Bielsa's most notable signings - Raphinha - signed for £18million from Rennes in 2020
Having spent big in their first summer back, bringing in the likes of Rodrigo, Raphinha, Diego Llorente and Robin Koch, Bielsa has led this season’s transfers so far, making Jack Harrison’s three-year loan permanent in an £11million deal, he replaced Gjanni Alioski with Barcelona’s Junior Firpo. Most recently, he finally captured long-term target Dan James from Manchester United, two years after his former club Swansea cancelled a £3million January move on Deadline Day.

Bielsa has left a statement for the Leeds United fans following his departure today, displaying his love for the club and the ferocious support he received during his three years at the helm.

It remains to be seen where both parties go after Bielsa’s departure, with the Argentine not getting any younger and Leeds’ direction as a club being led by Bielsa’s philosophy.

Pundits are touting some of Bielsa’s so-called ‘disciples’ like Mauricio Pochettino, Jorge Sampaoli and Eduardo Berizzo - the latter being Marcelo Bielsa’s former assistant as Chile national team manager and has recently been relieved of his duties as Paraguay’s manager.
Wahey, Jack is back! I'm excited :D Best of luck with this, and I look forward to seeing how the save plays out.

Building on the Foundations

“I was expecting him to sign a new deal Andrea, I was,” Victor Orta said.

Club Chairman Andrea Radrizzani had called an emergency board meeting following the news that Marcelo Bielsa would not be renewing his contract for one more year, as had been the case the previous two seasons.

Along with Radrizzani and Orta, Managing Director Angus Kinnear, Vice-Chairman Paraag Marathe (from the San Francisco 49ers) and Directors Peter Lowy, Massimo Marinelli and Sandro Mencucci were also present.

“Yes, but it was your job to make sure that we did not get too complacent with Marcelo. What did he say to you?” Radrizzani asked.

“That we should take a look internally. He said that he has a few people in his staff that are looking to pursue management roles. As a caretaker, could we take a look at a few of them?” Orta enquired, having spoken to Bielsa the day before when he confirmed the news of his departure.

“No, we need to have a permanent solution in place. It was good to have Bielsa on one-year deals but we were always going to lose out on the long-term planning aspect having that arrangement. Maybe it is time to get started on that.” Paraag Marathe said, tuning into the meeting from California over a Zoom call.

The room agreed with Marathe’s suggestion. Replacing Bielsa was going to be a tough task with his legacy firmly intact with the Leeds fans.

“I personally think that it would play well with the fans if it was one of Bielsa’s key suggestions - carrying on the legacy kind of thing. Victor, if you could read out the main man from his coaching staff?” Angus Kinnear asked.

“Well, we had his assistant Diego Reyes, Marcos Abad, Rúben Castro and Diego Bermúdez all in the list, but Marcelo said his personal favourite for it would be Mateo Pérez, the coach working with Mark Jackson in the Under 23s.

“I have already made contact with Pochettino, Sampaoli and Gasperini’s people - all happy where they are-” Orta read out from his notes.

“Berrizo?” Radrizzani asked.

“Would have been suicide, Andrea. The fans heard his name and didn’t want anything to do with him after the homophobic comments made at Marseille.” Angus Kinnear butted in.

“What are we paying Pérez? He would have to be on a substantially lower salary to make this work for us, him and the fans.” Peter Lowy pointed out.

Pérez was a relatively unknown figure around Elland Road and Thorp Arch, having worked under Mark Jackson and was destined to take over his position as Under 23s Manager before Jackson decided to stay.

His position as Bielsa’s frontrunner to take over the reigns at the club came from his drive and desire to work along Bielsa’s lines. Marcelo had prioritised youth signings over his tenure, such as Joe “Joffy” Gelhardt, Crysencio Summerville, Cody Drameh, Lewis Bate and Sam Greenwood, seeing them as the future of Leeds United long after he left the club.

Pérez worked with all of these players, developing them into the talents that they are at the moment and will be in the future. To Bielsa, it was imperative that Mark Jackson led the Under 23s, but plucking the most influential coach from that team would only be a positive move going forward.

“He’s on £1,200 a week, plus bonuses et cetera. He’s 33, so it makes sense why he’s on the lower end of our scale when it comes to coaches.” Angus Kinnear answered Lowy’s question, looking through the salary books.

Victor Orta came in with his thoughts on a potential offer to Pérez. “To bear the responsibility of the whole football club that is in the Premier League, he needs to feel on a similar level to the players he is working with.

We start him as first-team manager on £10,000 a week, give him a two-year deal, that sets up our meeting later in the month regarding the five-year plan quite nicely. If he does well, we bump that salary up and agree a deal until 2026.”

“That could work, but I’m still not happy that you did not foresee this, Victor. Speak to Mateo Pérez this afternoon after training at Thorp Arch, get his thoughts and I will request him to attend a meeting in my office at the end of the week.” Andrea Radrizzani said as he slammed shut the agenda for the day’s meeting.

James: Good to be back again :P

The Opportunity of a Lifetime

“Erm, Mateo?” Pauline, Andrea Radrizanni’s personal assistant said in her Halifax accent as she put down her landline. “Andrea is available now if you would like to go in?”

“Of course, thank you Pauline,” Mateo Pérez said as he got up from the office couch and headed into Andrea’s study where he sat at his desk, taking his glasses off upon his entry.

“Good morning Mateo, how are you doing?” Andrea greeted him as he took a seat opposite to the chairman.

“Good, just finished up with Mark and the rest of the boys out there. How about you, boss?” Mateo said, repeating the same question.

Andrea stood up and began pacing from side to side across his desk before responding, talking about how busy his morning had been.

“As you can imagine, with Marcelo going a few days ago, it’s been all happening behind the scenes with figuring out the next plans,” Andrea admitted. “He was a big fan of yours, you know?”

Mateo pursed his lips after hearing this. “I have always been a big admirer of Marcelo. He came on my own radar when he was managing Chile before moving to Bilbao in my own country. I have loved his work and how he improves his squads. Watching his teams is a mesmerising hobby of mine.”

“Yes,” Radrizzani smiled, looking down at Pérez as he listened to him go on about his appreciation for Bielsa. “It certainly was reciprocated. That is why I called you in for a meeting today. Marcelo has recommended you as his top candidate for the next first-team manager after his tenure.”

Mateo sat back in his chair, both exhilarated and stunned at the suggestion that his own idol had this amount of faith in him.

“In the spirit of continuity at the club post-Bielsa, I wanted to ask you how you felt about that particular proposition, how you feel you could carry on from Marcelo?” Radrizzani finished.

After a pause due to Mateo’s speechlessness, he finally spoke. “I learned from him, so most of my own coaching techniques and advice I have given to Mark over the past years are directly linked to Marcelo and his style.

“However, it is so much responsibility to take on board, particularly when there has been more experienced coaches who have more importantly worked with the current first-team, I am left confused at why - despite Marcelo’s recommendation - you have not approached them if you are looking at an internal appointment.”

“Marcelo transformed this club by himself, in conjunction with his backroom staff that he trusted. We like to put it all down to one man, but our success is down to Marcelo’s philosophy, not just the man himself. Therefore, if he sees his own philosophy most present in you, you would naturally be my first choice

“I would like to offer you an initial two-year contract as first-team manager, working on a weekly salary of £13,500 per week, totalling £702,000 before tax.

“This is clearly an initial offer and fitting around what we believe you have brought so far, we feel it is adequate until you have proven yourself a success in the league at which point we will look to offer a deal until 2026 to fit in with our five-year plan which we will be asking you to attend the meeting regarding later this month. What are your thoughts?” Radrizzani asked Mateo, who kept looking increasingly illuminated as Radrizzani kept speaking.

“It is something that I have dreamed of, Andrea. I just did not know that it would be achievable so soon. It would be an honour to accept this offer and build on what Marcelo created here.” Mateo said, with a grin going ear-to-ear.
Whilst it may not have the 'glitz' or 'glamour' that 90-95% of modern football fans demand, it's the right move for Leeds to make. Hopefully Mateo receives the same level of backing from the terraces!

Leeds hire Pérez as new manager

Leeds United have hired 33-year-old Spanish coach Mateo Pérez as manager, replacing Marcelo Bielsa whose contract expired earlier this summer.

Pérez has signed a two-year deal at Elland Road, with a review due after his first season in charge.

The reaction to Bielsa’s successor has been one of confusion on social media, with Pérez’s profile not as high among some of the media’s favourites for the job.

Pérez has been promoted from within at Elland Road, having been an Under 23s Coach working with Mark Jackson in the Premier League 2.

He is known within the club for his development of young players whilst coaching the Under 23 squad at Thorp Arch, leading to outgoing manager Marcelo Bielsa recommending him as his top choice to replace him at the club.

Bielsa’s commendation of Pérez has given some hope to the underwhelmed Leeds supporters who have spent the morning searching up Pérez’s history.

Pérez’s U23 background has given some credit to claims that Leeds’ focus will remain on building on Bielsa’s philosophy of bringing youth through the club, with a mixture of experience and high-quality players as Raphinha and Diega Llorente have proven to be.

The Spaniard will make his managerial debut in the Whites’ first friendly against East Stirlingshire next Saturday at The Falkirk Stadium.

James: It's an underwhelming appointment after Bielsa, but given the recommendation he might be given just enough sway with the supporters initially :P
Loving the update. Can't wait to see how Mateo will carry on Bielsa's philosophy.
I think the legitimate fans of the club that have been with the club throughout its rollercoaster ride the past 2 decades, will be extremely excited by the appointment of Mateo. The new age fans, that record the game on their phones throughout the 90-mins... maybe not so much.

Hopefully Mateo can hit the ground running, because it's the bellends with the phones that make the most noise on social media!

He Stays

The news had come in from Angus Kinnear, Leeds’ Managing Director, that a £51million offer was on the table from Manchester City for star man Kalvin Phillips.

Phillips arrived back at Thorp Arch fresh off the back of an outstanding Euro 2020 performance as England’s mainstay in midfield alongside Declan Rice and to find out that the man who made him the player that he had just left his club must have come as a disappointment to the 25-year-old.

Kalvin has been with Leeds since he was 14 years of age, being picked up from local Sunday league side Wortley FC whom he had played for since the age of 7.

He was a lifelong supporter of the club whose early memories was the definition of “ups and downs” as chanted in the club’s anthem ‘Marching On Together’. He was 5 years old when Leeds reached the Champions League Semi-Final in 2000, before seeing his team relegated to the third tier of English football just seven years later.

Documented in Amazon’s series ‘Take Us Home’, the club’s supporters were not only infatuated with Kalvin’s performances, but his entire persona encapsulated what it meant to be Leeds.

As for Mateo, he had only a limited relationship with the midfielder so far, having spent some time coaching in the first-team whilst his U23s duties were completed for the day.

Mateo had to call Kalvin into his office to make him aware of the offer - just as Bielsa had done 2 years earlier when a newly promoted Aston Villa offered £30million for him, which was swiftly rejected by Kalvin alone in favour of a new four-year deal at Elland Road, accompanied by his mother and grandmother.

“What are your thoughts?” Mateo asked, clasping his hands as he looked directly into Kalvin’s eyes across the desk.

“We have been here before, boss. I have everything in Leeds, but yet I see that Jack [Grealish] has just transferred there.” Kalvin said.

“I am sorry to say it, but if Marcelo was here asking me that, it would be an immediate no,” he continued. “I am happy to give until January to see where we are because as good as you have been on the training pitch, I need to know what we can do on the field with you at the helm. I always have respect for my managers, even moreso with you as you come in under Marcelo’s advice.”

“I’m happy for that to be the arrangement, Kalvin.” said Mateo, appreciating his dilemma whilst also feeling a burden lifted from his shoulders, knowing that he would have Kalvin Phillips with him for at least the next six months.

“I will let Angus know that we will push City back, but if we don’t meet your expectations by January then I will not stand in your way of a move. Thanks, Kalvin. That will be all I think.” he said, standing up and reaching to shake his hand.

Oz: Thanks Oz, Bielsa's philosophy is a tough one to replicate but hopefully Mateo can manage it!
James: Fans of PL clubs always want a big name to come in and succeed, I hope they can afford Mateo some time to impress them :P
It's such a major show of faith from a star player to [at least] temporarily reject a move to a top club in order to give a new manager a chance to prove he can do what's required to keep him at the club long-term. The pressure is now on Mateo to get results, and hopefully bring in a few new faces that can help the club achieve its goals.

Leeds confirm Healey arrival

Leeds have completed the signing of striker Rhys Healey from Toulouse for a fee of £2m.

Following a period of quarantine and completing of the medical, the forward signed a three-year deal at Elland Road, running until 2024.

Signing for the Ligue 2 club in August 2020, the striker went on to finish the season as the division’s 4th top scorer with 14 goals in 32 games after joining from MK Dons for £1.1million.

In July 2019, Healey joined MK Dons permanently after an impressive loan spell where he scored 21 goals in 39 games altogether during both spells.

Healey becomes Leeds’ 4th first-team signing of the summer and will wear the number 18 shirt during his time at Elland Road.

He comes in as new manager’s Mateo Pérez’s first signing for the club and will likely become a strength in depth option for Patrick Bamford and Rodrigo as Leeds’ main striker.

James: Quite happy that he hasn't gone full-force into wanting a new move, especially to City given his Euros performances. He's a major, major asset for us so I'm delighted he's on board with me.

August - September 2021

Following a good preseason workout featuring fixtures against Bournemouth and Cultural Leonesa, we began our Premier League campaign against our dearest rivals Manchester United in the Roses Derby.

Fresh off the back of star signing Cristiano Ronaldo, it was the Portuguese forward who struck a brace against us after an initial opener from academy graduate Mason Greenwood.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men hit three past us with no answer from our side in what was a great start for the Red Devils’ season at Old Trafford.

Our first game at Elland Road came against Antonio Conte’s Spurs outfit who began life under the Italian coach with a 1-1 draw against Wolves on the opening day.

This was only to be replicated in their second game against us despite Son’s opener in the 20th minute. In the final 10 minutes, it was Júnior Firpo who combined with his new teammate from the left flank, crossing a low ball to reach his left-wing partner Jack Harrison at the near post to equalise.

Our first foray into cup competitions this season ended in disaster as newly promoted Championship side Peterborough United took us to penalties and won 5-4 in the Second Round of the League Cup. Jack Harrison missed the vital penalty before Ricky-Jade Jones confirmed the win after a 1-1 result in normal time.

Southampton ensured that I would complete my first month in charge of Leeds without a league or cup win as a Che Adams hat-trick sent us hovering just above the relegation zone with 1 point from a possible 9.

The winless run was finally ended as we returned to Elland Road after the international break to face Eddie Howe’s Newcastle - recently the subject of a large Saudi takeover led by Amanda Staveley.

However, Jack Harrison made sure that their new-found cash was not enough to secure any points in West Yorkshire, scoring a brace as new signings Raúl Jiménez and Kieran Trippier looked on in despair.

Our first trip of the season to the capital ended badly against Chelsea, with the West London side’s returning star man Romelu Lukaku scoring the opener before Ruben Loftus-Cheek finished us off at the death with a well-hit long range effort.

We picked up our most recent win at Elland Road once more with a narrow 1-0 win over West Ham United in the last fixture of September. Mateusz Klich made a change from Jack Harrison’s regular scoring to bag a late penalty in the 84th minute in front of 34,000 fans.

The two league wins and draw put us in 12th place at the end of September, just a point ahead of Tottenham Hotspur who are so far unbeaten in their four games. The two wins in September really helped to relieve early tensions, taking a 4-point lead over 18th placed Brighton.

Liverpool lead the way on goal difference at the top of the table, holding a 6-goal advantage over 2nd placed Manchester United who have relied on new signing Ronaldo a lot, scoring over 50% of their league goals so far.

Southampton have also gotten off to a great start, keeping one of the Champions League spots to themselves at the end of the first two months.

As suspected, Norwich have failed to get off to a good start as they are bottom of the table with 0 points out of their first five games. They are joined by Crystal Palace and Brighton in the relegation zone on goal difference.

Ouch! Some tough initial results certainly hasn't helped Mateo's cause, but at least the results against Newcastle and West Ham will have eased some of the early pressure he might've been experiencing. I'm quite surprised by how the league table looks tbh, but at least you've already knocked over some of the tougher fixtures you'll have to deal with this season.

The start of the season is okey, not the best but at least you got two victorys wchich were very important. :)
The lost against Southampton and in the Carabao Cup are bad, but now you have to do some work on the Trainingsground and marching on!
Hopefully you´ll be successful i like Leeds United :)
A bit of a shaky start but I believe in Pérez. Things will turn around soon for Leeds' fans. :P

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