Marcelo Bielsa pays tribute to 'those in the shadows' as collective contributions aid Leeds United's title-winning season

The Leeds United head coach paid tribute to a collective effort from everyone at Leeds United this season.

By Graham Smyth
Sunday, 26th July 2020, 6:00 am

‘It’s going to be a memory for the rest of our lives, everything that happened here was very, very beautiful. I will never forget this.”

And history will not forget you, Marcelo Bielsa.

When Leeds United celebrated their centenary, with an appropriate amount of pomp and circumstance, Bielsa was busy getting on with the job of making more history.

Sign up to our Leeds United newsletter

Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa celebrates lifting the Championship trophy with his players. (Tony Johnson)

After a plaque unveiling at the club’s birthplace and a grand civic reception, the great and the good of the club’s present and past were wined and dined at a black tie ball, at which Bielsa made a brief appearance in his Leeds tracksuit.

There were no speeches from the head coach, he didn’t once take centre stage and left the club’s owner Andrea Radrizzani, chief executive Angus Kinnear and both current and former players to do the talking.

Ahead of the game against Birmingham City, during which the Whites wore a special one-off kit and posed in the style of Don Revie’s greats in front of the East Stand, Bielsa was asked for some thoughts on the history of this grand old club.

“History will remember those who promote the team,” he said, simply.

That was that, back to the football, as is often the way with a man whose dedication and focus to each game is uniform in its intensity.

It’s not that Bielsa didn’t care for Leeds’ history and traditions – it is clear the club’s DNA was hugely attractive to him and has played a part in making him fall in love with the city and its club.

It’s just that Bielsa’s mantra is ‘win the next game’ and when you do that enough times, you can write your own history.

Now, he has. And in some style, too.

His Leeds team won more points, more games, kept more clean sheets, created more chances, attempted more shots and conceded fewer goals than any other side.

Their 10-point lead when all 46 games had been completed, was a deserved margin of superiority. It might have felt a little too close to the wire for Leeds fans, but in the end it was comfortable and when all around them were scrambling to the very last minute, Leeds were coasting because Bielsa left nothing to chance.

The celebrations on the Elland Road pitch on Wednesday were all about the players and the backroom team. But Bielsa’s wish is that when this particular chapter of Leeds United history is written, it remembers every contribution and every contributor.

“There are people maybe you don’t know, Rob (Price, head of medicine and performance), Rishi (Dhand, club doctor), others who work in the shadows,” he said.

“Adam (Underwood) from the academy, Stix (Lockwood, player liaison), a big man in the club. I know I am talking a lot, but there are a lot of people who made a lot for us in the shadows of the club.

“The ladies in the kitchen are wonderful people. In this isolation period, my wife couldn’t be here with me, I am living alone now and this lady, Vera, once a week used to leave outside my door, one container with very tasty soup.

“Those things are not linked with the food itself, but it’s linked with the emotion and it’s a big contribution.

“I can talk also, in the same way, about Vera’s colleagues, people in the nutrition department, Thorp Arch security, the cleaners when they have everything clean in the isolation period, this was very important.

“The ground staff, they are artists, if you look at our grounds.

“The same with every person who works in the club, not just Thorp Arch, but Elland Road.

“When we go to the stadium, in the competition we don’t know what’s going to happen and the driver of our bus, always he had a way of approaching me with a little gift, with a sweet.

“This little thing made me feel I wasn’t alone before the competition.

“We didn’t meet them every day, but we received their support as we did at Thorp Arch. I really need to describe all we get from the club.”

And Leeds will remember what Bielsa gave them – history.