Key factor in Paraag Marathe’s Leeds United manager process revealed with Bielsa boxes to tick
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Incoming Leeds chairman Paraag Marathe, who headed up the search, has been here before - just with a different shaped ball. His experience of hiring general managers and head coaches for NFL outfit San Francisco 49ers helped to structure and inform this recruitment process.
And from the outset, one thing he sought with particular interest was demonstrated success. Marathe started with a long list of dozens, whittled that down to 20 or so on whom dossiers were created. From there 10 were taken through to the Zoom chat stage and spoken to in person. And at the end of it all a shortlist of several was drawn up for face-to-face interviews in London last week.
Any candidate who came through that process to sit down in a room with Marathe had to be able to show a record of success. Earlier in the process Marathe narrowed that particular metric down to the specific task at hand for Leeds in the upcoming season - escape from the Championship.
Data showing how managers successfully led teams into the Premier League from the second tier over the past two decades was studied, along with traits that could be identified, and then applied to the candidate list to try and find matches.
That not only means that some of what Marcelo Bielsa did was held up as a marker, but at least a couple of the candidates in this actual process were being matched up against what they themselves previously achieved.
All of this goes some of the way to explaining why Daniel Farke would make a logical choice. If you want to quickly navigate your way out of the Championship, then find an escape artist with knowledge of the maze and two previous escapes on his CV.
The appointment of Farke would also further evidence a growing belief that 49ers Enterprises are focusing primarily and strongly on the here and now, getting back to the top flight and then taking stock, because while the German clearly worked out the Championship cheat codes, he got a bit lost upon promotion.
In the second tier he put together a win percentage of 51.4 per cent. That percentage dropped to 12.2 in the Premier League. But the difficulty of the top flight, with which Bielsa, Jesse Marsch, Javi Gracia and Sam Allardyce all struggled to varying degrees and for various reasons, is a problem Leeds need not unduly concern themselves with because they are not a top flight club. Getting from A to B is the immediate challenge and until it is complete there seems little sense in plotting a route from B to C.
On the style front Farke comes out on the logical side, too. If 49ers Enterprises want to give Leeds fans a taste of the high intensity football and lightning-quick attacking transitions they became so accustomed to, then Farke would tick the 'Bielsa boxes' but in his own way.
The football Norwich played en route to their promotion double under Farke captured the imagination of Canaries supporters and though it took the German a season to get it right, he upped the tempo and intensity and that did the trick at the second time of asking.
Following relegation back to the second tier, Farke proved the first title was no fluke with a club-record points haul of 97.
Success, exactly the kind of success Leeds want and need, demonstrated.
Before Leeds reveal whether Farke is indeed their man for the job there’s the little matter of EFL approval and ratification of 49ers Enterprises’ takeover. The investment group’s stance up to this point has been to keep shtum until such a time as they own the place. The managerial announcement has been plotted to follow on from a takeover confirmation but with pre-season set to begin on Monday their determination on the order to play could be tested.