Marcelo Bielsa was sacked as manager of Leeds United on Sunday, marking the end of an era for the Yorkshire club.
The Argentinian departed after a crushing 4-0 home defeat at Tottenham Hotspur. But the result was one of many in recent months where Leeds have been unable to contain the opposition.
In February, they became only the second side in Premier League history to concede three or more goals in five consecutive matches in the division.
The first team to set the unwanted record was Sunderland in 2005. Mick McCarthy’s side suffered relegation from the Premier League that season. Even worse, their 16 points was the lowest tally recorded by any team since the division’s rebrand at the time.
Leeds were not heading down quite the same path. But relegation from the top flight has become a real possibility in recent weeks. They currently sit just two points above the bottom three.
The club’s board seemingly had to make a decision on the manager’s future. But it didn’t make the departure of Marcelo Bielsa any less heartwrenching for Leeds fans.
The scope of Marcelo Bielsa’s impact on Leeds
When Bielsa first walked through the doors at Leeds’s Thorp Arch training ground in 2018, the Whites were in a difficult place. It wasn’t close to the days when the former Premier League giants entered administration and suffered relegation to League One in 2007.
But since losing their top-flight status in 2004, Leeds had never returned. It didn’t look like they were going to make it back any time soon either.
However, Bielsa changed all of that. He revolutionised the club from top to bottom. The Argentinian developed the likes of Luke Ayling, Patrick Bamford and Kalvin Phillips from top Championship footballers into players that could comfortably compete in the top flight.
His football provided fans with vast entertainment, and Leeds duly earned promotion to the Premier League at the second time of asking under the former Argentina national team manager.
But it was perhaps the impact he had on Leeds as a city that set him apart from most other managers. He always had time for supporters, and would regularly pose for photos near his local coffee shop. And he once appeared at a training ground in the city to organise a training session for a local U11 side.
Leeds fans say goodbye to Bielsa
In the days following his sacking, Marcelo Bielsa set about bidding farewell to Leeds United.
There were tributes from fans and players alike. Bamford called him “the man that changed everything for everyone“.
Club captain Liam Cooper, meanwhile, sent a heartfelt message to his former manager on Twitter.
But perhaps the most heartwarming message came from a group of Leeds fans. In footage posted by French outlet Actu Foot, Bielsa is surrounded by supporters desperate to catch one more live glimpse of a man that made dreams possible for them.
The 65-year-old then shakes the hand of each fan, adding: “Thank you. Thank you for all.”
If there is ever a video that captures the depth of sentiment that Leeds fans have for Bielsa, it is this one.
Featured Image Credit: Getty