The news that Marcelo Bielsa is staying on at Leeds has been received with joy by fans, but any players looking forward to a laid-back pre-season won’t be quite so delighted.
Leeds may have fallen at the penultimate hurdle in their bid for the Premier League, but Bielsa was one of the winners of the season from a neutral’s perspective.
The news that El Loco is staying in Yorkshire rather than slipping off to Italy, Spain, Argentina or any of the many more likely places for him to be managing has made next season a hell of a lot more appealing for everyone.
Vamos Leeds Carajo! pic.twitter.com/zKquNVBXgX
— Leeds United (@LUFC) May 28, 2019
Everyone except the poor Leeds lads who now have to report for the legendary Bielsa pre-season treatment and who must have slightly been hoping for Harry Redknapp or Steve Bruce to take over and have them conduct their conditioning sessions in the local Wetherspoons.
But what exactly do the Leeds players have in store for them after their summer holidays?
Running, running, running and more running
As if there were any doubts in the players’ minds, there can be no greater statement of intent than installing a new 1km running track at your training ground ahead of pre-season.
Waddling in after a summer of indulgence is not just going to be a painful mistake under Bielsa, it’d be tantamount to signing up for a holiday camp at Guantanamo Bay.
We can only assume that the level of running will be so great that players will be given their tactical briefings and meals while on treadmills. If Bielsa could create the world’s first sleeping treadmill then you’d better believe he’d do it.
By the start of the new season, Bielsa’s men will be in such great shape that as well as high pressing they can run up into the stands during games to serve drinks to the fans and still make it back into position to cut out a cross.
Bielsa v Lampard is the box office rematch that everyone wants to see. El Loco left poor Frankie Junior bloodied on the canvas in the first fight but was decked in the play-off rematch, so it’s all to play for the next time they touch gloves.
The Leeds boss is not one to take chances when it comes to his battles and so we can presume that he’s already spending most of his time plotting his revenge on Lampard and making studied notes on exactly what the Derby boss has for breakfast.
Pre-season will consist of daily classroom sessions in which Leeds’ players learn every single facet of their Derby rivals’ lives to the point that when they next clash they can trash talk their opposite number about his child’s performance in geography class three years ago.
Of course, should Lampard get the call to Chelsea, Bielsa will just have to settle for getting his players to thwart their nemesis in his spare time by jumping in front of him in cafe queues and keying his car.
Dossiers (on the table under the screens) pic.twitter.com/4TX0RAB4My
— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) January 16, 2019
Big Brother Bielsa
We’ve seen how well Bielsa knows his enemies, but he’ll keep his friends even closer.
As each player sheepishly reports back from pre-season they will be led into a darkened room where Bielsa will spin around in a chair, lit by spotlight, and open up a PowerPoint.
Over the next three hours, Bielsa will bring up heavily annotated footage from kebab shops, bars and beaches and will present in-depth analysis on the exact number of excess calories that have been consumed, the terrible chat-up lines used in Spanish beachfront bars and the poor dance moves the player employed, suggesting improvements and action points to ensure they are reached.
When they are released back into the bright light of the real world, the punch-drunk player will have resolved to give up booze entirely and will never be able to drink a shot without picturing Bielsa’s avuncular, yet stern face.