Paul Heckingbottom was unable to reverse the downward trend that had set in at Leeds United under Thomas Christiansen and he paid with his job in the weeks following the conclusion of a Championship season that saw his side’s play-off hopes peter out completely.
It was a campaign of regression after Garry Monk took Leeds within touching distance of the play-offs in 2016/17 and the club is in need of genuine star quality, stability and someone to generate a feel-good factor again.
That is much, much easier said than found however, but the man who has reportedly emerged as a genuine contender to take over at Elland Road is 62-year-old former Argentina manager Marcelo Bielsa.
On the face of it, the move looks like a madcap manager being linked with a madcap club, but we’ve decided to take a closer look at the genuine potential consequences if the move did go through…
There is a lot of snobbery around defensive football these days but if it got Leeds back into the Premier League, you’d be hard-pushed to find a fan at Elland Road who gave a hoot.
However, it has been a while since the club’s fans were treated to an adventurous style of play but Bielsa would change all that.
His approach to strengthening sides is to embolden them with confidence to play expansively, making chances and utilising smart tactical systems to put opponents on the back foot.
This Leeds squad is currently very workmanlike, which is something of a hangover from the Monk days when results were as good as they’ve been for a while but it wasn’t pretty at times but Bielsa would try to squeeze every last ounce of attacking intent from them. It would certainly be entertaining.
The departure of Chris Wood was a hammer blow to Leeds’ chances of promotion last season and in the club’s attempts to keep him or wrangle a larger fee out of Burnley, they didn’t leave themselves enough time to replace him.
That means that securing a genuine goalscorer must be a priority this summer and reports linking them with Hull City striker Abel Hernandez should be music to the ears of Leeds fans.
He has had his injury problems, but when fit, he is more than capable of scoring goals for fun in the Championship.
We’ve touched on above how Hernandez would get no shortage of chances due to Bielsa’s aggressive attacking style, and over a whole season that should see him bag 20 goals, if he and Bielsa both arrive.
Obviously, Bielsa and Leeds are two such combustible elements that their relationship could all end in tears and come to a very premature close but imagine that the 62-year-old manages a whole season at Elland Road.
With his attacking style of play, managerial nous and profile to attract quality to one of England’s biggest clubs, a genuine play-off push should not be ruled out.
Leeds flirted with the top six in the opening part of last season and should have made it the season before; they are not a million miles away and Bielsa has more than enough quality to help them bridge the gap.