Stuart Dallas is better placed than most to judge the impact Marcelo Bielsa has had at Leeds United.
The 27-year-old is now into his third year in West Yorkshire after making the move north from this weekend’s opponents Brentford in 2015.
Dallas, who has cast his eye over a lot during his 123 appearances for the club, admits that he has never seen anything quite like Bielsa. The days are long, training is relentless and there are few, if any, days off.
The Bielsa regime has been compared to a military like arrangement at Thorp Arch by midfielder Mateusz Klich and although Dallas smirked at the suggestion it seems that the Pole isn’t far wrong.
The Whites squad though have their eye on the long game this season under the 63-year-old’s watchful eye and, says Dallas, have no reason to complain: “We’ve probably got the best job in the world, I’m not going to sit and complain about it.
“It is different from what we were used to but just get your head down and get on with it, keep working hard and hopefully at the end of the season it will all be worth it.”
The bluntness with which the Northern Ireland international speaks is testament to the culture that Bielsa and his coaching staff are setting at Leeds – it’s a no-nonsense, no let-up approach and if you want to improve you have to work harder each and every day for something greater than the individual and the players are very much on board.
“We’ve always been fit, I think as a professional athlete you have to be, but he’s come in and the fitness side of things has been different from what we’ve done before,” Dallas admitted.
“The way we’ve gone about our aerobic running and high intensity running, I think if you look at our stats throughout the games we’ve played – our running is through the roof.
“It’s statistically shown that if you overrun teams you’ll have the majority of the ball and most of the time it comes out with a positive result.
The way he has got us playing football, everybody believes and he shows confidence in every player.Stuart Dallas
“We’ve just got to keep working hard, we know what we want to achieve and it will all be worth it.”
Coaches who can get their players running through brick walls are lauded in English football and Bielsa has certainly got United ticking in his short time at the club.
Eleven games into the season and the Whites are sitting pretty atop the Championship table after a blistering start to the campaign which has seen Leeds lose just once.
Asked what was different, Dallas struggled to put his finger on exactly what has changed, but believes everyone being on the same page has been crucial: “It’s hard really to pinpoint but I think he’s just got everybody reading off the same sheet.
“Everybody is working hard and we keep coming back to fitness but it’s a big part of it.
“The way he has got us playing football, everybody believes and he shows confidence in every player.
“You’ve got to believe in the players around you and certainly this manager has come in and got the best out of us. We can only take it one game at a time and you’re only as good as your last game. We’ve got to keep pushing forward.
“We’re fitter, we’re stronger, we’re leaner and we keep going right until the final whistle.”
United are as serious as ever about getting back to the promised land of the Premier League – Marcelo Bielsa’s appointment is testament to that – and as Dallas revealed that is the tone around the training ground.
“We’re here to help Leeds get back to where they belong,” he continued. “If you can have a joke along the way then so be it but we’re here to do a job and that’s to gain promotion.”