Leeds United's Marcelo Bielsa debt outstanding as Farke leads Whites to Wembley play-off final

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Leeds are one game away from getting back to where Marcelo Bielsa took them, four years ago after a 16-year wait.

The near-total demolition of Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds United team has all-but removed him as a talking point ahead of the play-off final but the Whites can repay an outstanding debt to him on Sunday.

Bengal Brasserie Arena Quarter.

Bengal Brasserie Arena Quarter – serving authentic Indian cuisine in the heart of the city. Proudly supporting Leeds United and the YEP. This is every inch Daniel Farke's team. If, as expected, the German goes unchanged at Wembley following that pasting of Norwich City, then just three Bielsaball survivors will take to the field. Illan Meslier, Crysencio Summerville and Junior Firpo.

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The other eight presumed starters never played for the Argentine or experienced the 2020 promotion to the Premier League. Five of the XI are Farke signings and, along with 2023/24 debutant Archie Gray, had no role in the loss of the club's top flight status.

But the other five and the rest of the club have a wrong to right. Additional imagined motivation is not required on weekends such as this one. After all, if you can't gee yourself up for a Wembley final then there's something seriously amiss.

'Do it for X or Y, for this or that person,' is generally a waste of breath. For most players it does not call for inspirational speeches or monetary incentives. They want to win because they want to win everything. They want to win at table tennis, head tennis, keepy uppies, running races and pull up competitions.

And this, of all things, is well worth winning. So there can really be no suggestion that they win it for Bielsa. And yet, does the club not still owe it to him to restore one of his greatest achievements?

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Promotion, the one that ended 16 years of mostly misery and malaise, was as welcome in 2020 as it was remarkable. It should never be forgotten that the guts of that team, in fact the skeleton and flesh too, was made up of players who were generally considered midtable Championship operators.

Bielsa took players who had achieved nothing quite like the heroics of that season and made them worthy of glory. Good enough not only to romp to a second tier title but then bounce into the Premier League and start chinning people all around them.

To get to that point, Bielsa and his staff worked tirelessly and the players did too. It was as far from a cash-bought promotion as you could hope to see - rivalled only by unicorn seasons, the likes of which Ipswich have just pulled off.

There were no parachute payments or bonafide Premier League players. No £37m youngsters. What Bielsa did with that team was fashion a platform on which a sustained top flight stay should have been built.

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Had the right recruitment and investment been forthcoming to refresh what was always going to become a tired, fading squad, then who knows where the man from Rosario and Leeds might be right now. Bielsa knew what was needed in 2021 and told Andrea Radrizzani.

What was needed was a bit more than just Daniel James and Junior Firpo and Leeds, inevitably, struggled. That struggle, inevitably, cost Bielsa his job and ultimately cost the club the place in the Premier League that he and his insane, genius methods had bestowed on them.

It was more than a shame and the indignant manager swapping as Leeds scrambled to avoid the inevitable in the second half of last season was a far cry from the dignity with which Bielsa would conduct himself.

Now, Leeds are a game away from the Premier League again. The only remnants of what Bielsa built, beyond the handful of players who were influenced and changed by him, are fond memories and the ambition that burned wildly once he came along to stoke the fire.

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He reunited a fanbase with its belief and set a wildfire among supporters that even relegation could not extinguish. This weekend is, quite rightly, about Farke, his staff and his team.

They don't play Bielsaball but they have gone about their business in an eye-catching way and with a control and dominance in games that the now-Uruguay manager would approve of.

They have made themselves popular with fans and made memories, like the night Leicester City were humbled and crumbled in Elland Road's cauldron.

The 90 points they accrued in the regular season are an irrelevance in terms of the challenge posed by Southampton at Wembley and they will count for very little should things go awry on Sunday, yet they are evidence enough that this team, Farke's team, deserve to go on and win promotion.

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Liam Cooper said this week that the squad have a chance to be remembered forever. That's what promotion to the Premier League does and especially if it's won in the most dramatic of circumstances in the second tier's last chance saloon - Wembley.

They have the chance to be heroes, like the class of 2020. It won't enter their minds, but they have a chance too to undo the wrong that undid Bielsa's crowning Elland Road glory. They have an opportunity to put the club back where he put them. Back where they belong.

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