'Does depend' - Patrick Bamford on Leeds United return, Jesse Marsch, and Marcelo Bielsa meeting

Patrick Bamford is looking to the future and not the past, having personally thanked the coach who made it all possible for where he is today.

By Lee Sobot
Tuesday, 12th April 2022, 4:45 am

Whites No 9 Bamford is currently sidelined having ruptured his plantar fascia in his third game back from a previous three-month spell out injured in last month’s 3-2 win at Wolves.

The 28-year-old is now targeting the start of next season as a return date but says he will push himself to be back for United’s final two games of the season if the Whites are still battling for their Premier League safety.

Leeds gave their hopes of surviving their second season back in the top flight a huge boost by recording a 3-0 victory in Saturday’s clash at second-bottom Watford which has left the Whites nine points clear of the drop zone with seven games left, albeit having played two games more than second-bottom Burnley.

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DIFFERENT SCENARIOS: Pointed out by Leeds United's no 9 Patrick Bamford, above, in regards to when he might next return to the pitch. Photo by George Wood/Getty Images.

Nonetheless, the Whites have now taken 10 points from a last possible 12, new boss Jesse Marsch having followed defeats at Leicester City and at home to Aston Villa with wins against Norwich City, Wolves and Watford plus a draw at home to Southampton.

Bamford says United’s new American head coach has refreshed the group but the Whites No 9 was naturally sad to see the exit of promotion-winning former boss Marcelo Bielsa and made sure he said a personal goodbye when the Argentine left the club.

Bamford was one of Bielsa’s first signings at the club back in July 2018 and the striker’s career went from strength to strength under the South American’s tenure, leading to England honours last summer.

Speaking in an interview with the BBC's Football Focus, Bamford opened up on Bielsa’s departure from the club, admitting: “I was sad; I think everyone was because of not only what he did for the club but what he did for me personally.

“I think, arguably, if I hadn’t had him as a manager I wouldn’t have played for England so I owe him a lot and that’s why I gave him one of my England shirts from when I made my debut.

“It was sad and he didn’t really want to speak in front of everybody because it was an emotional time and it was kind of all of a sudden. It happened within a few days and that was it.

“But, in football, you have to move on quickly so there’s not that much time to kind of be emotional about it. You have just got to get on with your job.”

Asked if he had the chance to speak to Bielsa one on one, Bamford revealed: “After the meeting, he left and, to be fair, no-one really knows this, but I went round to his house like the day after or it might have been that afternoon and just knocked on the door.

“Someone appeared at the window and they let me in and I just said thank you and gave him a hug and said obviously I wish you all the best and stuff.

“I was there for like five minutes and then that was the last I saw him. I’m sure I will probably see him somewhere along the way but I just felt like I owed him a ‘thank you’ in person.”

February’s 4-0 defeat at home to Tottenham proved Bielsa’s last game in charge, United then appointing former RB Leipzig and RB Salzburg boss Marsch as the Argentine’s successor the following week.

Bamford might have been sad to see Bielsa leave but the Whites striker has also been impressed with the impact of his replacement.

“It’s a lot different around the training ground day to day,” said Bamford.

“I think he has come in and kind of changed the atmosphere a little bit and freshened it up. It was really hard for anyone to come in and follow Marcelo’s footsteps but he has come in and, sometimes, change is good.

“I think that it was unfortunate this season with Marcelo because of the injuries; it was backs against the wall really with everyone who kept getting injured but he [Marsch] has come in and he has changed the atmosphere and everyone is really enjoying it.”

Now Bamford’s aim is to get back to enjoying his football on the pitch, and the date of his return could largely depend on how the Whites fare in their next four games.

“I kind of know that there’s a good chance that I won’t play again this season and that, if I do, it’s a bonus,” said Bamford.

“In my head already I have set my target on the start of next season and I am working towards that and trying to get in the best shape possible for that so I think that is going to help for me.”

Asked what would happen, however, if Leeds were still in a precarious situation with two games left and he felt like he was ready, Bamford admitted: “Then I’ll play, 100 per cent.

“It does depend a lot on the team situation so, if we do need the points and there are a couple of games at the end which are really important and I am there or thereabouts, then I will push it to come back because I know that we have got the break in the summer.

“Ideally, we won’t be in that position but, if the team needs me, then I will kind of push my way through it.”