Leeds United vice chairman Paraag Marathe confident of keeping Marcelo Bielsa and putting Whites in Premier League elite

Paraag Marathe says he's confident Marcelo Bielsa will stay at Leeds United this summer as the Whites attempt to become 'one of the biggest clubs in the world.'

By Graham Smyth
Thursday, 20th May 2021, 6:24 pm
FEELING CONFIDENT - Leeds United vice chairman Paraag Marathe believes the club can keep head coach Marcelo Bielsa at Elland Road. Pic: Getty
FEELING CONFIDENT - Leeds United vice chairman Paraag Marathe believes the club can keep head coach Marcelo Bielsa at Elland Road. Pic: Getty

Vice chairman since January, when the financial backers of the NFL's San Francisco 49ers upped their stake at Leeds, Marathe says majority owner Andrea Radrizzani has been hard at work at retaining the services of Bielsa.

The Argentine has guided the club to a top-10 finish in their first season back in the Premier League and everyone at Elland Road, Marathe included, appears relaxed about the head coach's future.

"Andrea has been working hard at making sure and trying to keep Marcelo with us, as well as keeping Victor and Angus with us too," Marathe told BBC Sport.

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"And so I'm confident in that. And I'm hopeful just like any supporter would be.

"[Bielsa's contribution has been] tremendous, I think the biggest contribution is one that's not necessarily tangible and that's the change in mindset. The mindset of I'm going to succeed or die trying. Marcelo and Andrea with their vision have really instilled that mindset on and off the pitch in the organisation."

Marathe believes Leeds United, with Premier League status confirmed for a second year, are on the path to greater things and can once again be considered among England's elite clubs.

"The sky's the limit," he said.

"I think that Leeds can be, should be, will be one of the biggest clubs in the world. Three or four years from now, we're going to look back and say this was the beginning of something very special. We're exploring different ways on how to maximise the potential of this club again, and we're just getting going."

Marathe is currently serving as president of 49ers Enterprises and executive vice president of football operations at the American Football giant. His desire is not for Leeds fans to view him as simply an 'American investor' but a supporter of the club.

He expressed his disappointment in the actions of American Premier League club owners involved in the failed European Super League and insisted there should not be an emotional detachment between investors and the on-field fortunes of the club.

"One thing I have observed over the last decade, decade and a half of American investment in Europe is a certain level of emotional detachment from within the sport, almost like it was a place to be parking money, as opposed to being passionate about it," he said.

"Yes it's an asset and all that stuff but you have an innate competitive drive as well. For us, matches are on at 4.30 in the morning in San Francisco and we are up, we're on WhatsApp groups among us executives at the 49ers celebrating wins and commiserating losses. My Saturdays are either made or ruined by 6.15 in the morning, because I care. It's not an active thing I'm thinking that I need to care, it's inside. The fact that you have to earn it, nothing is given, there's something special about that. It has to already be within you.

"I think shocked is probably the wrong word, I think I was disappointed. I hesitate to use the term 'big six' because who named them the big six? Fifteen, 20 years ago two or three of them were in the bottom six. That was the part that was disappointing, it was almost as if they had anointed themselves."