RESOLVED: Bielsa Leeds contract situation just needs pen to paper
PA Richard Sellers
Marcelo Bielsa has declared his contract situation at Leeds “resolved” ahead of their Premier League opener away to Manchester United on Saturday but is yet to put pen to paper.
The Leeds boss prefers one-year deals and only signed his previous contract on the eve of last season’s curtain raiser so there has been little concern about his situation.
But it was not until a press conference on Thursday that the 66-year-old publicly made his position known.
“The contract situation is one that is already resolved,” Bielsa said through a translator.
“One year is habitual.”
The club’s chief executive Angus Kinnear has claimed Bielsa’s willingness to let his contract situation rumble on is due to his “lack of interest in it” as he focuses on preparing his team.
Speaking after Bielsa, defender Robin Koch welcomed the news but indicated it had never been a concern for the players.
“Of course we are happy he’s here for another season,” the Germany international said.
“I didn’t think he would leave, it’s nothing surprising for me, but of course we are happy.”
Seeing out a fourth season will mean Bielsa will have been in charge of Leeds for longer than any other club in his career bar his decade-long stay with Newell’s Old Boys’ youth side before stepping up to the senior role.
But asked if that indicated a special bond, Bielsa demurred, warning he risked playing to the crowd with his answer.
“The answer I would like to give is when I no longer work here,” he said. “Being inside the institution you run the risk that your answer is seen as demagoguery and a way of capturing the sympathy of the fans.
“After you stop belonging to an institution, that is the moment you can talk about the feelings that have linked you to this club.”
But the Argentinian was not short of reasons why he wanted to stay at Elland Road, praising the club’s “extraordinary” willingness to invest in training facilities and infrastructure to give him the tools he needs as a coach.
“It’s not often you have a club that designates so much volume of investment to the improvement of the training facilities,” he said.
“Leeds have made a significant contribution economically to provide the tools for a manager to prepare the players to be the ideal ones.
“Everything we need in this area, the club has resolved it with very high investment…I’m astounded by the conduct of the club.”
Leeds have also invested in Bielsa’s playing squad this summer, making Jack Harrison’s loan from Manchester City permanent, bringing in Junior Firpo from Barcelona, and also completing deals for youngsters Amari Miller, Lewis Bate, Kristoffer Klaesson and Sean McGurk.
Though they continue to be linked with other deals, Bielsa declared himself happy with his current options.
“I’m satisfied with the group I’m working with,” he said.
“I couldn’t tell you about hypothetical situations, but what I can tell you is the group of players I have I’m happy with.”
A trip to Old Trafford on Saturday will bring back painful memories of last season’s 6-2 loss to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
That defeat left Bielsa and Leeds 14th in the table, but they would never be so low again on their way to a ninth-placed finish.
To finish in the top half in the first season after promotion offers a solid platform, but Bielsa declined to say what would represent success this time around.
“My position is not to refer myself to things that have not happened,” he said. “I don’t want to run the risk that reality does not coincide with what I think, especially in a sport like football which is very unexpected.”
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