Signs of life in Marcelo Bielsa's Ian Poveda project after move from Manchester City to Leeds United

It was the moment Leeds United fans had been waiting for since January 24.

Tuesday, 10th March 2020, 4:54 pm

Ian Poveda turned inside his own half and set the Whites on an attack.

He took a touch, drawing in his man in the process, and found Jamie Shackleton to his right on the halfway line.

The ball was then pushed into the path of Mateusz Bogusz before being returned to Poveda, who had continued a lung-busting run forward into the penalty area.

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Another touch out of his feet and there it was on a plate for Bobby Kamwa inside the six-yard box.

A goal of Poveda’s making and he celebrated as if it were his own.

Twelve seconds passed from the 20-year-old’s first touch to the ball hitting the back of the net.

Those seconds, though, provided an insight, an insight into what United’s scouting department saw in him – pace, power, skilful feet and direct play.

Ian Poveda is yet to feature for the Leeds United first team, but showed a glimpse of his talent for the Under 23s on Monday (Pic: Bruce Rollinson)

It was also an insight into Poveda adjusting to his new surrounds; Bielsaball.

A little over six weeks – a pre-season you might say – have passed since the Whites put a four-and-a-half-year contract down in front of the former Manchester City man.

United chased his signature aggressively and beat stiff competition from across Europe to land him in the winter transfer window.

Pep Guardiola described his choice of club as a ‘really good decision’ and added: “I think Leeds United is an incredible challenge to be training for one of the best, or maybe the best manager in the world, in terms of how he helps the players to be better players.

“He has an incredible power to develop. For the way Leeds play suits perfect for his qualities.”

Guardiola, of course, is a Marcelo Bielsa disciple.

Poveda will have had hopes and dreams of his first meaningful contribution for his new team coming in front of a packed Elland Road in Championship action.

Instead, it was to come at the Oakwell training complex in the Professional Development League in a game that wasn’t even streamed on LUTV, with a crowd of less than a hundred in attendance.

It’s the Bielsa way. It’s the Bielsa process.

But crucially, Poveda’s head coach and the man to whom he must prove his worth if he’s ever to repeat Monday’s moment of magic for the senior side, was one of those few watching on in Barnsley.

“I’m very excited to work under Bielsa,” Poveda said upon his arrival in late January.

“I know he improves players and that’s what I’m looking to do under his guidance.”

It has been all work and no play in West Yorkshire. Quite literally.

Poveda has been an unused substitute at Leeds just twice since his arrival and has failed to make a senior matchday squad since February 1 – a run of seven league games.

Away from prying eyes and television cameras, a process has been undertaken at Thorp Arch and it is one one must readily accept as a player coming into any Bielsa outfit.

You’re ready when the boss says and not a day sooner.

Even Eddie Nketiah, a player Bielsa himself tipped to be one of the most important strikers in all of English football, had to play the waiting game although, ultimately, he and Arsenal lost patience and gave up on the process.

Poveda, because he is a permanent Leeds United signing, is a different case but will still need to show patience and bide his time.

With one sweeping move on a cold Monday afternoon, supporters were sent into a frenzy.

Fifty-two days in and the Poveda project is starting to show signs of life.

Bielsa – who presumably celebrated the winger’s contribution in South Yorkshire as he did Luke Ayling’s wondergoal at Elland Road on Saturday, with a sip of a hot beverage and a deep thought – has competitive evidence for the first time that the process is working for the new boy.

On a drab afternoon of development football, Poveda was the spark.

No doubt more murderball sessions will be needed, as will Under-23s minutes as the settling in process at Leeds continues.

But maybe, just maybe, the Poveda project can still yet influence United’s quest for Premier League football.

The adaptation period, as Bielsa would say, is well under way.