It is testament to Bielsa that most of us are feeling they way that we are feeling right now. It’s really difficult to describe, in truth. Sad that we missed out on automatic promotion, glad that we are in the play off positions. Bedazzled by the fantastic football we have born witness to most of the season, but baffled by recent blunders in front of goal. Beguiled by the fluid footwork in attack, bewildered by ball trapping underfoot in the box. Delirious with the defending against Derby, disillusioned by the defence against Stoke. Ecstatic with the energy and belief against Blackburn on Boxing Day, hurt and humbled against Hull before the New Year. Fevered by the frenzied fervour at the death at Villa and the floored by the fruitless frittering at Forest. Astounded by the amount of possession and passes strung together, confounded by countless chances missed. Stunned by the simplicity of the slick passing, stumped and confused by the stupid complicated step overs. We’ve been delighted by the winning run and blighted by the injury list. We’ve been thrilled by the magnificent teamwork tearing the opposition apart only to be flabbergasted and flummoxed by the refereeing decisions denying us the rewards. We have been mercilessly slaughtered by the hasbeen pundits yet slavered over by the same idiots forced to eat their own words when we turn up the heat. It just is.. This is Leeds. These are our ups and downs.
What Bielsa has done is nothing short of a miracle with basically the same players that we had this time last season. And, yes, I am going to say it, all you know it alls out there who slated Victor Orta and said that the only way Leeds United were going with Orta at the helm, was down.
Without Orta there would be no Bielsa.
And what of Bielsa? An unknown entity at the start of the season. All the trawling through old news stories by those with little else to do, so that they could tell us all what to think… that worked out well for you didn’t it? The man still remains a mystery to those outside of the Club (and those inside the Club who are too scared to speak to him).
I like him.
The thing that stands out about him, is that he doesn’t stand out. He doesn’t like the limelight. Up until the cheating that even Lance Armstrong would bow down to at the weekend, he has held his nerve. Yes the odd gesture in frustration, but most of the season he has just got on with what he is paid to do. He seems genuinely humble and knows what he is about. He is confident yet not cocky, self assured but not self obsessed. Unassuming not arrogant. You are drawn to him but he is not an attention seeker. Even at Spygate, all he did was defend himself. Yes, the powerpoint thing may have been slightly over the top, but realistically it was a stroke of genius, because it just needed saying. It would have been exactly what I would have done myself, if I were a football manager. Tell them you did it, tell them how you did it, show them how you did it and then tell them how they should be doing it. Immense! It wasn’t spying, it was doing what all clubs have always done to get a competitive edge. The fact was, Bielsa just did it better than anyone else did it. After all, if something is worth doing – it’s worth doing well. The guy isn’t afraid to admit to his mistakes but he is as stubborn as a mule, and sticks to what he is good at. Frustrating for some fans, but a breath of fresh air for the long suffering loyal who have seen more management styles over the last five years than Joan Rivers has had facelifts.
At the start of the season, we silenced critics by simply playing the better – if not THE best- football in the division. After Spygate, we were reviled by the same voices who had previously praised us with no hint of irony.
If we don’t get promoted, the Premiership would be the lesser league without us. There’s no doubt at all that the corrupt Football League will be rubbing their hands in glee at the thought of not losing their cash cow. What would the Premier League be left with? Monday night football clash of the titans Bournemouth v Norwich? Friday night football Sheffield Utd v Southampton. Super Sunday of Brighton v Norwich and Palace v Sheff Utd and Bournemouth v Burnley! Brilliant – well worth your £38 a month SkyTvisf**kings**t Sports package or £15 extra on your BT Sports (but then you have to put up with Ferdinand and the rest of the remoaner brigade).
As I type, we sit at the precipice of what could be a sensational end to the most gut wrenching, exhilarating, entertaining, exhausting, heart stopping season of football I have seen for many many years. It has truly been what Leeds is all about. We have had our ups and downs in this rollercoaster of a ride that this season has become.
From the disaster of a badge that the Club started with, trying to please everyone, kowtowing to the vocal minority , letting fans who haven’t bothered going to a game since the last decade have a ticket. To finally seeing the light and realising what a loyal fan is and closing the door on new season ticket holders and putting the away tickets back on the tracker. From the self proclaiming, self professed, self righteous “best fans in the world” moaning about not being able to get on the tracker and get an away ticket, and those who were going to tape their season ticket onto Billy’s statue in disgust at the Wigan result (Urban myth status now) to the (same??) ones who have no shame in sending their ticket back for the “worthless” game at Ipswich. “Fans” displaying such a lack of self awareness and dignity, who see nothing wrong with turning their backs on the Club when they are struggling but reaping the rewards when we are winning. Yes, we have our ups and downs, but the loyal will stick with us through them, the part timers will abandon us without a second thought.
And an afterthought to those who were desperate for us to sign the likes of Grealish, Nugent, Forestieri, Vydra (on £70k a week) etc. I would rather be in this position, proud of what we have achieved, doing what we have done well, than to be put in the same box as the diving, cheating McGoldricks and Sharps of this world. Norwich and Sheff Utd have gone up, not thanks the brilliant football that they played, but the luck they have had with refs giving them the offside goals, refs failing to give them red cards, refs giving them far too much extra time to score the winner in or draw. The TV replays and social media montages for the Championship 2018/19 won’t be full of Canary clips or Blunts biopics, they will be of US actually PLAYING FOOTBALL. Yes, there will be the off the field antics that were blown all out of proportion just to get more airtime, but we have played some truly OUTSTANDING football this season.
At the end of the season Players Awards dinner, Pablo was awarded the Player Of The Season. How cruel it was then that I (still) blame the Wigan result on his lack of his ability to put a penalty between the sticks when it mattered. Pablo is like the little girl in the nursery rhyme, when he is good, he is very very good, when he is bad, he drags the whole team down with him. By the way, this is my blog – I don’t care what you think! He is better this season than he was last by far. He is fitter and can last most of the game out now without disappearing after 60 minutes like he used to. He is an enigma.
For me, Player Of The Season should have been awarded to Kalvin. Hands down the most complete player we have had in midfield for a long long time. It was great to see him back on form on Sunday. He has been played all over the park, covering in defence for all those horrible injuries we have suffered with, but Sunday he was allowed back to his best. This is how he was when he partnered O Kane in Christiansen’s reign. If he gets his shooting boots back in time, he may be the one who takes us up. I hope so.
He is the Yorkshire Pirlo (thanks to whoever started that). Kalvin has risen up through the ranks, a local Leeds boy, product of the Academy and showcases what we are all about. He is the epitome of what I think Leeds is and should be. On On On.
Always Leeds Always Loyal.