Marcelo Bielsa press conference on his Leeds United future plus beautiful Gaetano Berardi and Pablo Hernandez tribute

LEEDS United head coach Marcelo Bielsa is facing the media on Friday morning ahead of Sunday's season finale at home to West Brom.

Friday, 21st May 2021, 11:54 am

The tenth-placed Whites are already assured of a top-half finish having amassed a stellar total of 56 points upon their Premier League return.

Bielsa will be speaking to the media at 9am and all of the latest news will follow here after the press conference's conclusion.

Sunday's second-bottom visitors West Brom have already been relegated and boss Sam Allardyce is leaving his position after the weekend's clash at Elland Road.

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SEASON FINALE: Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa, left, takes on outgoing West Brom boss Sam Allardyce, right, in Sunday's last game of the season for the Whites and Baggies at Elland Road. Graphic by Graeme Bandeira.

Leeds have also announced that promotion-winning heroes Gaetano Berardi and Pablo Hernandez will be leaving the club in the summer.

On Berardi and Hernandez leaving

"They have been a reference for Leeds, for the team, for the squad, for the fans, two excellent professionals, great team mates. They are footballers who have been very influential, very decisive. Sincerely, throughout the three years, I have had great respect for how they go about their profession and of course football wise they have a lot of ability too. And for the club, we have great sadness that they will no longer be part of the institution."

On fans being at Elland Road at last, for Berardi and Hernandez send off?

"It's a homage that they totally deserve and it's something that 'by chance' that they are being able to play in front of the fans in the last game of the season. It is very good luck that it is this way because it wouldn't have been fair if they weren't able to live that moment."

On top ten finish

"I didn't expect anything in particular. What I am sure of is that the players deserve to get to the placing that they have. This campaign, this performance, it was based on two great capacities. The humane group that they have formed at the club - it is very difficult to be as united on the pitch as they have shown to be without being in a similar way outside of the field. The togetherness within the people within the squad permitted them to produce what they produced, the human factor, the values, the living together, the generosity, the interest of their own but also the interest of their own teammates and the respect and gratitude of the support they have received throughout. The players are the most important thing that happens within a club and the rest of us who are employed by the club are there to attend to their needs so it is very common in professional football that human beings that receive so much attention and dedication that they are not invaded by vanity or overvalued self esteem. This is expressed in the individualism and that happens when someone feels like something happens because of what they have done and it loses sight that everyone is at the service of each one and that each one has to be at the service of the rest. That process for any collective within the squad of Leeds United, it happened in the opposite sense, there were numerous that showed and demonstrated gratitude from the players for everyone who has collaborated with them. I am not referring to the technical staff who have also been very considered with us but to those who accompany them but shine less and that collaborate so that the team can show its potential. Of course it is exaggerated to say that Leeds is a great family because that's not true but it has a structure of that nature and the players have constructed this way of living due to the very marked leadership of some and from the desire of the younger ones to follow the lines of behaviour that have been shown form the older ones. Within a club there are a lot of anonymous people that deserve to be recognised given all that they add to the team. Behind the scenes, the people that make the food, they are a great bunch, you have seen that what the players eat is linked to what they can perform. Who hasn't asked their mother to make their favourite plate for them? And all of us we can remember how we felt when our mums fed us. There is something like this within the club as well and those the most anonymous, those who conserve the cleanliness of here who are here to help us, the ones who look after the pitches, there are a lot of people around the club that have a big emotional connection and the players they remember them, they appreciate them, they have them present and they 'care' for them so all of this we have to be grateful to Pablo and Berardi as well because they have been part of forming that line of behaviour. There's some players who stay and some players that leave but they are all on the same path and Pablo with his behaviour and Berardi with his, they have left their mark, not just on the pitch."

On Allardyce

"The arrival of Allardyce helped the people to visualise with the performance and the results that the team has that you can see clearly in the performances in the team and the way they have competed. And there is nothing better than to watch the production of the team to show the qualities that senor Allardyce has."

Do you have a moment from Berardi and Hernandez that you will always remember?

"In the subject of Pablo and the same in the subject of Berardi, I would have been satisfied had they continued in the squad that I manage. After, there are decisions that each one takes, I can't lose sight of the fact that there is a lot of protagonism due to the natural nature of time, expressed in the lowering of the amount of minutes that they play, but I continue to consider them important. In relation to Berardi who is a player who is a noble competitor, he is a player whose football conditions I value a lot. I think he is a current player that still has years of football in front of him. That's why I also would have valued it had he stayed. For me he is a very complete player and he is a team player, he is a player that can resolve in every defensive position which he has done so and he is very loved by everyone given that he gives everything - the duels with the forwards - they always found him with conditions to overcome them. The example is in the last game after a very long time without having played, he enters after the opponent had been superior to us in the first half and it is a team with important strikers and he collaborates to neutralise the superiority that Southampton had had. Pablo, at the start, he was the right winger of our team and after as an offsenive midfielder and he is a player with a football intelligence that is very, very high. He is a player that finds the ball with a lot of ease and he is a player that can see the movements of the team and then pick the best pass and some technical resources that permit him to be able to do these things that he imagines that he sees. The possibilities of Pablo are not linked to his physical level - that he does have - but due to his intelligence and his experience and apart from that he is a player that always wants the ball and when the the game is easy it is not easy to want the ball all the time but when the game is difficult of course it is a virtue worth having when you want the ball when you don't have a lot of time. This last year of Premier League, I can't ignore that Pablo didn't have the minutes that he would have wanted or that he would have deserved because I think he would have deserved them and I can't ignore that I am responsible that he didn't have more protagonism than he did and I want to take on the responsibility because it is true."

What message for fans that will and won't be there on Sunday

"I think that the achievements of the team has an objective, the happiness of the fans. Other teams also but Leeds especially the public is something that helps to get the achievement so it is a good opportunity for us that is linked to the energy that originates from the fans, especially in the difficulties, the supporters of Leeds ,make themselves present and they add something to help the team. I say what I think even if it sounds demagogy."

Are any other players going on early leave and can we expect many changes to the side?

"Llorente is not with us, throughout the first half at Southampton he felt something in his muscle that if he had continued he could have got injured where he got injured before, that's why we decided that he shouldn't participate in the second half of that game nor on Sunday, Every decision that I have taken I take it thinking of the player and thinking of Leeds United, not thinking in other aspects. I hope that it goes well in the national teams and I hope that as many players as possible from Leeds United participate with their nations but these decisions for Koch and Llorente and Klich, they are not linked to the possibilities that they have with the national team because I have no information about that. The decision of Koch or Klich I had no way of knowing what was going to happen with their national teams and the same in the case of Lllorente. In no way did I want to risk Llorente having another muscular problem as he had a few throughout the season, nor did I want to take the risk of a slight problem in his hip to get worse for Koch and I consider the amount of minutes that Klich played in the last three seasons and the effect that excess of competition produced in him, it made me think that once he had recovered his level he deserved a rest like the one I gave him."

What have you learned from the players this season?

I have already made reference to the subject of their conduct, their behaviour, their values, the professionalism in the way in which they interpret their profession. Football has things that are pleasing, but some that are not also and always from the group there is always adequate responses. To pick another example, I valued a lot what Casilla has done in this season in the mood in which he absorbed the treatment that he had and the way with a participation that was very sporadic, collaborated with everybody. A lot of what Meslier could achieve this year is linked to how Casilla lived through it with him and The way in which he collaborated with him. The keepers are a group within the group with a special coach and the keepers where they spend two hours together between the four of them, not within 20. They need each other and the climate of the training is responsible from very few people and his support was very influential in this. Apart from that, he managed with a lot of fortitude the treatment he received for the incident that he had to go through. Of course the argument that can take away consistency from what I am saying, that there was an episode in which he was immersed and that those in charge of deciding found him guilty. But then he was penalised socially, that they never forgave him and he absorbed it. He had to take it and it takes a lot to be able to take what he did. I can never talk without imagining what those who are listening think because I have to presume what my comments generate. After saying this, it is very probable that the response will be that he was in an episode where he was evaluated and he was found responsible and that he has to take on the consequences. If one of the consequences is to receive all of this from those who follow football, despite that affirmation, he was very strong. He never felt resentment and showed that resentment within the group. He fought like all of us. I want to say what I think about this subject and it gave me great pleasure to see him ovecome the game after such a long time having played against Southampton.

What do you want to see from your players against West Brom on Sunday?

"The presence of the fans is always a stimulus and they can see live what the players do."

How are you feeling about next season?

"When there is something to inform the club will do so."

Would you hope that everything gets resolved so that you can carry on and stay - is that your desire?

"The evaluation over the continuity of a manager is such a delicate decision that any argument should be considered. There is not a better argument than every game of football and when all the games are completed it's the moment to do an evaluation and then to take decisions that are not exclusively mine because the question positions me in a position of weight with respect to Leeds. This structure, this organisation, this team, it is a place of work where any manager would like to be, even the best managers in the world. That is to say that this place in Leeds United that they represent in football is a place that is very desired and I share the idea that Leeds United is a lot more important than me - than I am - and the authorities of this club - I am referring to are the president, the sporting director and the general director - they have created a structure that has very few weak spots and apart from that has a particularity that makes it singular. The president of the club is sensitive to what football signifies. I think, and I think I am not mistaken, I don't think that he sees football just as a tool, an economic tool. Of course he doesn't ignore the incidents of the economics in football but he knows what the public and the football and the fans mean. I can't not say that I have revised with the authorities of the club or the variables that it means to continue working. But like I said, at one moment, I prefer for the season to finish and to take the decision of all the elements of judgement on the table and I want to protect myself of the effect that not giving a response when the surroundings would like it. Of course, I am not considering any alternative options and I am being sincere - I don't have any alternative options - and if I had it I would privilege my relationship with Leeds and I don't want to run the risk of people thinking that Leeds are coming towards me more than I am going towards Leeds. It's not easy to explain so many things."