Marcelo Bielsa thinks Leeds United will be his 'forever' job but disagrees that he's triumphed as Whites boss

Marcelo Bielsa goes through the gates of Thorp Arch every day thinking this is his forever job.

Friday, 12th March 2021, 5:52 am
FOREVER JOB - Marcelo Bielsa likes to think his job at Leeds United will be his last in football but knows nothing lasts forever. Pic: Getty

He thought the same at clubs he managed before Leeds United, however and yet here, not there, he is.

Leeds represent Bielsa’s 10th go at club management. He had stints in charge of the Chile and Argentine national teams. He knows all too well that in football, nothing lasts forever.

“I always think that I am going to stay forever in all the jobs that I take and I go from day to day thinking I am going to be there for the rest of my life,” he said, on his 1,000th day in charge of the Elland Road club.

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“But, at the same time, it is a profession that usually has interruptions.

“It is far more common that a manager is fired than he stays in a place for a very long time.”

Bielsa is in no danger whatsoever of being fired.

If any manager in the Premier League or in English football in general should feel safe in his position, it is the Argentine who lit a fire under a dormant club, one that duly exploded back into the big time.

Five defeats in seven games might prompt questions over a manager’s future at some clubs - Saturday’s hosts Chelsea sacked Frank Lampard after a run of five games with just one win - but Leeds, as a newly promoted outfit, naturally have different expectations and an acceptance of just how difficult this season was always going to be.

Under Bielsa, Leeds have, at times, made a mockery of the leap in standard between the Championship and the top flight and, even after their latest run of results, they still sit 11th, ahead of a slew of more established Premier League club.

Taking Leeds up, alone, was viewed as a triumph by supporters and pundits alike, so to settle so comfortably into life among the elite has only cemented his status as the right man for this job.

Bielsa, however, disagrees.

“I don’t think I have triumphed in this job, I think the word triumph is something that evades me,” he said. “To have been promoted - it was very difficult not to have achieved this because the level of the team deserved it - and once we were in the Premier League if we had come to the Premier League in position 10, nine, eight, seven or six or five, to have achieved this would have been a valuable achievement.

“But we are not in these positions, we haven’t regularly been in these positions so I don’t think anyone can describe it as successful.”

As ever, the credit is never his to receive and the blame, whenever there is any, is always his to take.

If all of what he said in Thursday’s press conference was true - Bielsa evidently believes it is - then Leeds fans are in for something incredibly special if Bielsa ever does triumph.

Regardless of whether it is his modesty or his standards that underpin such a belief, it can only be good news for Leeds United.

He wants more. He does not want to settle and the season will not be allowed to fizzle out, even now that relegation is so unlikely.

This season, the club simply wanted to stick around, allowing them to put the foundations in place to remain a Premier League club, on and off the field, for years to come.

Bielsa is doing what was asked of him, and then some.

With a style of football that stirs the passion of many Whites and sufficient positive results to sustain the pride they felt last summer as fans of the undisputed best club outside the Premier League, he is entitled to a measure of job security.

And yet he adds: “I don’t think there are many managers in football that have the legitimacy to stay in a job as long as long as they like.

“There may be other coaches that have more merit than I do to aspire to that level, but it’s not my case, sincerely not my case.”

If he won’t feel deserving and if he isn’t willing to accept congratulations for a place just outside the top 10 with a squad mostly made up of players with no prior top-tier experience, then, with a full season of Premier League football under his and the club’s belt and the summer strengthening Leeds expect to do, what will then represent an achievement worthy of value, in his eyes?

Leeds and their fans desperately hope he sticks around long enough that they get to find out.