Why Dominic Matteo has complete faith in Marcelo Bielsa to deliver Leeds United promotion

Leeds United are chasing promotion to the Premier League this term.

By Graham Smyth
Friday, 3rd July 2020, 4:45 pm
Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Dominic Matteo has complete faith in ‘Godfather’ Marcelo Bielsa’s meticulous and all-knowing approach to get Leeds United over the line and into the Premier League.

But the former Whites and Blackburn Rovers defender has called on the club’s senior players to take a lead and guide their younger team-mates through the nervy final stages of the promotion bid.

Championship leaders Leeds travel to Blackburn on Saturday six points clear of third-place Brentford with six games remaining.

Matteo’s confidence in Leeds’ ability to stay clear of the chasing pack and finish in the automatic promotion spots stems from his admiration in Bielsa and his methods.

“I think we’re really good to watch,” he said.

“I’ve got a load of faith in Bielsa, I think the man’s a bit of a magician. He takes no chances, takes care of everything. He’s the sharpest. If you think about people like Guardiola, how they hold him in high regard. He’s a bit like the Godfather in a way, he knows it all.

“The brand of football he was playing with Bilbao, Leeds are trying to play that kind of style. They play a really good system.

“At times, defensively, because we do fire so many players forward we have to be careful and get our numbers correct but in general it’s worked. It’s not an experiment with Bielsa, he knows the game inside out. I have so much respect for him.”

Matteo’s CV includes a promotion from the Championship.

He was part of the Stoke City squad that finished second with 79 points to earn Premier League status in 2008, but wasn’t able to play a full part on the pitch.

The role he had to take on is akin to the responsibility Leeds’ elder statesmen need to assume now.

“When I got promoted with Stoke as a player I was more or less a coach, I couldn’t play because of injuries and I was coaching players all the way through,” he said.

“Getting down to four or five games, it’s nervy and you need to get results. It’s the same with Leeds United, the senior players have to stand up now and help a few of the younger players round them and be a voice.

“Who are the voices in the team? I would think Coops, Klich seems to have a bit of a voice, Dallas, Ayling. They are the players they’re going to rely on. It’s going to be a bit nervy, even though it’s a bit strange behind closed doors, but you still need a couple of leaders to say ‘we’ve done so well, let’s just finish this job off.’”

Despite acknowledging that Leeds rarely allow themselves to take the path of least resistance, he’s confident enough to make a prediction on how it will all end.

“I just don’t think the manager will let it slip,” he said.

“I think we’ll get it over the line. It’s never easy with Leeds United, we all know that from watching them or playing for them, they’re a difficult team to watch at times but for me it’s promotion.”