How Marcelo Bielsa and his boys are writing glorious new chapter in Leeds United's history
As fans we were all probably looking at April at the start of the season and thinking it could be quite choppy for Leeds United.
Those fears, though, have not been realised whatsoever. If anything they have been completely allayed by Marcelo Bielsa and his players.
You can only look back with pride at how Leeds have carried themselves since reappearing in the Premier League last summer and taking it by storm.
To beat Manchester City in the way they did and then earn deserved draws with Liverpool and Manchester United has been nothing short of impressive – and that’s before you get onto the fact they had to play them consecutively.
One man who epitomises the fight and desire of this team is Stuart Dallas.
As a player and a person he seems down to earth but he’s an extremely valued member of the squad and you can see he just has the football brain, no matter where he plays he is always reliable.
I don’t think it is detrimental to say at all that he could go elsewhere and not be as effective. It’s no slight.
It’s down to Stuart and Marcelo that they have found a way of working together that has brought the best out of him and others in the squad.
You’re talking about a number of players who have had some very solid Championship or League One careers – there’s not many who would have been cherry-picked to go to Premier League teams but as a collective bunch they have become a formidable force.
Any teacher, coach or mentor that you come across in life be it sport or another vocation, they tend to bring the best out of their pupils and that is exactly what has happened at Leeds.
There has to be a meeting in the middle, of course. You need players to buy into what you’re selling and be fully committed to the cause. The responsibility is a shared one.
I remember speaking to Garry Monk about Kalvin Phillips. He was glowing in what he had to say having seen him up close but even he could hardly believe what Marcelo had turned him into.
Leeds is a very deeply-storied football club and it is slightly easier for us because we are on the outside looking in – but I sincerely hope that the players grasp just how special this time is right now for the club.
It’s not battling for the title or in Europe – yet – but it is a glorious thing they have created at Elland Road.
There will be a day – hopefully one long in the future – when Marcelo departs and we all eventually look back on this period of time with such great fondness.
Let’s not wish away the time at all with him at the helm but whoever comes in whenever that time comes has a huge task in carrying on the platform he has created.
This weekend a trip to Brighton awaits and on a personal level this game used to very much be a League One fixture when I was involved.
I remember playing at the Withdean Stadium for Leeds and enjoying a not-so-polite exchange with Jermaine Beckford because he shot from some ridiculous angle.
I think I did the same about five minutes later and he – quite rightly – had a good go back. I couldn’t exactly fall back on the 25 goals or whatever he had scored that season.
I can’t sign off this week’s column without mentioning the social media boycott that is taking place across football this weekend.
Luckily I never witnessed anything on an actual pitch myself but, probably like all footballers, I have heard some truly horrific things said from stands.
Social media seems to be a continuation of that and we obviously don’t know what the prolonged after-effects from this boycott will be yet.
I wholeheartedly agree with the stance taken, as I think most people within the game and in general society do. It needs to be sorted out and stamped out, so hopefully this can be the start of something.
It’s not acceptable in any sense at whatever level of the game anyone is playing at. It never has been and never will be.