Thankful for football, even if Bielsa risks ruining it TSS June 28, 2020 Leeds United 6 Comments The return of football has been a welcome distraction from the miserable few months we’ve all endured while the world struggled to get to grips with a global pandemic. It was fascinating to see how quickly it brought some semblance of normality back to social media. The political arguments seemed to disappear with the first kick of a ball, as if someone had flicked a switch and turned the pandemic off. No longer did anyone care about the depressing daily press conferences or debating how well/poorly Boris Johnson had done because football was back and as a nation, that obsession trumps pretty much everything else. Even small talk about the weather can’t hold a candle to football in the collective discussions going off around water-coolers (or over Zoom calls as it is now) across the country. in fact, it’s probably the wisest thing Boris Johnson has done recently. With opinion polls showing the public rapidly losing trust in his leadership, bringing football back guarantees him a little respite from the warring factions, most of whom would much rather be debating whether Patrick Bamford should start up front or if Tyler Roberts might be a better answer to our centre-forwards slightly underwhelming goal tally. Every government should be held to account, but in the darkest of times, the public needs something to lift their spirits. And for many of us, nothing does it better than football. It’s an obsession. While all the world is in crisis, football still has extraordinary power to be the biggest contributing factor to our mood. Losing first game back against Cardiff still put us all on a downer, quickly spread panic amongst fans and left us debating where it all went wrong, while thrashing Fulham 3-0 yesterday gave many of us the biggest high we’ve experienced in months. It allows us all an escape from the unrelenting misery this pandemic has sown and affords us all that taste of normality we’ve been desperately searching for. As a Leeds fan, it’s also served as a reminder of just how lucky we are right now. I’m sat writing this while watching Forest take on Huddersfield. Forest currently lead 2-0 and there’s been a fair bit of goal mouth action, but what I’ve found during this festival of football we’re currently being treated to is that few games can hold my attention because Marcelo Bielsa has simultaneously saved and ruined football for me. Watching Leeds play Bielsaball, even when we’re not at our best, is so much more entertaining than 95% of games I’m fearful of how we’re all going to cope when he decides to move on. How do we replace someone who’s fundamentally transformed everything we thought we knew about the beautiful game? Bielsa might well be an impossible act to follow, not just as the incredible coach he is, but as a human-being and leader of Leeds United FC. I can’t recall another manager whose authority and power, all of which is drawn from the respect players have for him, was so absolute. At no point during lockdown did I fear reports of Leeds United players flouting rules and being caught out partying like we’ve seen elsewhere, nor did I fear they’d return anything short of peak fitness. Every single player is fully onboard with the most demanding standards they’re ever likely to face because the man leading them expects absolute commitment and has the authority and respect to receive nothing less. How does anyone follow that? It’s a problem for another day, one I hope will be many years from now. No matter how tense things might get as the season reaches a close, just remember to enjoy it. Bielsa will be the standard by which every Leeds manager for years to come will be measured and no matter how it all ends, we’re living through a period of Leeds United history we’ll be telling future generations of fans about for years to come. For now, let’s be thankful football is back. But most of all, let’s be thankful Marcelo Bielsa chose Leeds United.