Marcelo Bielsa a classy operator but Leeds United must be wary of wounded Blades - David Prutton
LEEDS take on bottom-of-the-table Sheffield United at Elland Road today but I don’t think any game in the Premier League is a banker given what we have seen from teams over the course of the season.
I don’t think Sheffield United find themselves down there by gross misfortune.
They have had injuries but over the course of a season as the cliche goes, the table does not lie and it’s been unbelievably tough for them in one of the toughest seasons we have seen for the teams involved in living memory.
Sheffield United find themselves down there and they are going to have to pick themselves back up to launch an attack on the Championship next season.
But I don’t think for one second that it will be routinely straightforward for Leeds today.
I have seen Sheffield United a fair few times this season and they have been ineffective and inept.
But they have also shown fighting spirit and a real sense of togetherness so Leeds have got to go into the game paying it the utmost respect and with an air of humility and understand how quickly fortunes can change in the top flight.
I think Blades boss Paul Heckingbottom and his side will be very mindful of the way that Leeds go about playing football.
If you were discussing what Leeds are best at and how they go about their game, Leeds have attempted to go toe to toe with the better teams in the division.
I can’t think for one second that it won’t be another case of Whites head coach Marcelo Bielsa making sure that Leeds go and do what they do best.
Sheffield United will be wary of that.
I expect Leeds to have a lot of the ball and they have got to be clinical and ruthless when it comes to the chances that could possibly be created.
But over the course of the last few seasons we have seen Sheffield United climb up out of League One and into the Championship and the Premier League.
The man that was the mastermind behind all of that in Chris Wilder has moved on and he was a phenomenon of a manager for them.
But I’d like to think that there is a pride, a fighting spirit and an eagerness in the Blades camp to show up and make sure that a bad season is not compounded by Leeds United fans being able to gloat and mock Sheffield United fans because of where they are and the performance they put in.
I’d like to think there are enough players in that Sheffield United side that give enough of a damn about how it comes across to think ultimately the war is lost but this next battle is going to be terrifically hard for Leeds and we are going to show them what we are made of.
Heckingbottom is obviously Bielsa’s predecessor and Bielsa spoke highly about the Blades boss in his pre-match press conference and his work at Leeds.
Bielsa has come across as a classy operator over the course of his time in charge of the Whites.
When it comes to the little stepping stones that you get from ‘League One Leeds’ to ‘Premier League Leeds’ with Marcelo at the helm, everyone has played their part in different ways.
Some have played bigger parts, some have played tiny parts and some have played baffling and head scratching parts.
But Marcelo seems to be a man with a keen sense of what historically Leeds is and the people who have been a part of that and Hecky coming up against his old side.
Hecky could not turn down the chance to come and manage Leeds and that’s testament to him as he understands the size of the club in a big county.
But he also understands that the magnitude of the club across English and European football was too good of an opportunity to turn down, regardless of how uneven things were away from the football pitch.
The praise for him was another classy little touch from Marcelo and he will be eagerly anticipating a game which as we have seen in recent seasons has got a nice little bit of bite and edge.
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Thank you Laura Collins