June 21, 2021

Bielsa still thinking long term with Leeds

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Marcelo Bielsa says he starts each day as Leeds’ head coach as if it was a job for life.

The 65-year-old Argentine, appointed in June 2018, reflected on his 1000th day in charge as he nears the end of his third season at Elland Road.

“I always think that I’m going to stay forever in all the jobs that I take and I go from day to day thinking I’m going to be here the rest of my life,” said Bielsa.

“At the same time, it’s a profession that usually has interruptions. It is far more common that a manager is fired than he stays in the same place for a very long time.”

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Bielsa said recently he wanted to extend his stay at Elland Road but always preferred to wait until the end of the season before deciding his future.

The former Argentina and Chile boss, who has also had managerial spells in Europe at Athletic Bilbao, Marseille, Lazio and Lille, played down his achievements at Leeds.

“I don’t think I have triumphed in this job. I think the word triumph is something that evades me,” he said, despite leading the club back to the Premier League last summer for the first time in 16 years.

“To have been promoted, it was very difficult not to have achieved this because the level of the team deserved it.

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“Once we were in the Premier League, if we had come to the Premier League and been in the positions of 10th, ninth, eighth, seventh or five to 10, to have achieved this would have been a valuable achievement.

“But we’re not in these positions. We haven’t been regularly in these positions. So I don’t think anyone can describe it as a successful (period).

“I don’t think there are many managers in football who have the legitimacy to be able to stay in a job for as long as they like.

“There may be other coaches with more merit than I have, who can aspire to the feeling or sensation that you suggest, but sincerely it’s not my case.”

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Leeds are in 11th place in the table with 11 games remaining, but have lost five of their last seven matches.

They are nine points above the bottom three and play in-form Chelsea at Elland Road on Saturday.

Bielsa confirmed Kalvin Phillips and Rodrigo both came through unscathed after returning from injury in Monday’s 2-0 defeat at West Ham.

Midfielder Jamie Shackleton has recovered from a groin strain and defender Robin Koch is hoping to return to action for the U23s on Monday following knee surgery in December.

Bielsa added neither Pablo Hernandez (muscle strain) nor Pascal Struijk (knock) were available.