Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa pens new one-year deal
Marcelo Bielsa has signed a new one-year contract to remain in charge of Leeds two days before they open the Premier League season away to Manchester United.
Bielsa had earlier told a press conference the contract was “resolved” though it is understood he had not at that point put pen to paper on the deal, which runs to the end of the 2021/22 season.
Not that there had been much question of the 66-year-old continuing – he prefers one-year deals and only signed his previous terms on the eve of last season’s curtain-raiser, something Leeds chief executive Angus Kinnear has said is down to Bielsa’s “lack of interest” in his own contract.
Bielsa had earlier called his preference for short-term deals as “habitual” and the annual wait for him to formally commit has become something Leeds fans – and players – have become used to.
Speaking after Bielsa earlier on Thursday, defender Robin Koch welcomed the news but indicated it had never been a concern for the players.
“Of course we are happy he’s here for another season,” the Germany international said.
“I didn’t think he would leave, it’s nothing surprising for me, but of course we are happy.”
Seeing out a fourth season will mean Bielsa will have been in charge of Leeds for longer than any other club in his career bar his decade-long stay with Newell’s Old Boys’ youth side before stepping up to the senior role.
But asked if that indicated a special bond, Bielsa demurred, warning he risked playing to the crowd with his answer.
“The answer I would like to give is when I no longer work here,” he said. “Being inside the institution you run the risk that your answer is seen as demagoguery and a way of capturing the sympathy of the fans.
“After you stop belonging to an institution, that is the moment you can talk about the feelings that have linked you to this club.”
But the Argentinian was not short of reasons why he wanted to stay at Elland Road, praising the club’s “extraordinary” willingness to invest in training facilities and infrastructure to give him the tools he needs as a coach.
“It’s not often you have a club that designates so much volume of investment to the improvement of the training facilities,” he said.
“Leeds have made a significant contribution economically to provide the tools for a manager to prepare the players to be the ideal ones.
“Everything we need in this area, the club has resolved it with very high investment…I’m astounded by the conduct of the club.”
Leeds have also invested in Bielsa’s playing squad this summer, making Jack Harrison’s loan from Manchester City permanent, bringing in Junior Firpo from Barcelona and also completing deals for youngsters Amari Miller, Lewis Bate, Kristoffer Klaesson and Sean McGurk.
Though they continue to be linked with other deals, Bielsa declared himself happy with his current options.
“I’m satisfied with the group I’m working with,” he said.
“I couldn’t tell you about hypothetical situations, but what I can tell you is the group of players I have I’m happy with.”
A trip to Old Trafford on Saturday will bring back painful memories of last season’s 6-2 loss to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
That defeat left Bielsa’s side 14th in the table, but they would never be so low again on their way to a ninth-placed finish.
To finish in the top half in the first season after promotion offers a solid platform, but Bielsa declined to say what would represent success this time around.
“My position is not to refer myself to things that have not happened,” he said. “I don’t want to run the risk that reality does not coincide with what I think, especially in a sport like football which is very unexpected.”
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