Any team who has a great season knows that they can’t sit on their laurels and hope that next year will be the same. The Premier League doesn’t take kindly to teams that do this. The arrival of Junior Firpo from Barcelona and Dan James from Manchester United added depth to positions which weren’t crying for reinforcements.
No Central midfielder, for a team who hasn’t bought one since Adam Foreshaw’s arrival in 2018. No striker for a team over-reliant on Patrick Bamford, a presumed Premier League flop whose 17 goals last season got him a place in the England squad.
Marcelo Bielsa is synonymous for having a small group of players, ones that he can nurture and grow. Leeds had flourished under this system so from the board's point of view, why change a system if it isn’t broken.
By February 2022, the system had collapsed. Bielsa can’t be blamed for the ridiculous amount of injuries Leeds suffered. Kalvin Phillips out for four months, Liam Cooper out for four months and Patrick Bamford have played just nine games all season.
Any team that has the spine of the team out will of course have a dip in performances and results. With a lack of quality replacements at Leeds United, the dip most teams would have suffered turned into a full-blown collapse.
In games where any other team would have changed their system and shut up shop, Bielsa’s Leeds continued with their man to man marking and attacking football. The goals had now dried up, and conceding 20 goals in five games was too much to ignore. Leeds were heading in only one direction, and a 4-0 defeat at home to Spurs was the final nail in Bielsa’s coffin.
El loco was gone. The board's gamble had massively backfired. A quick replacement was soon in the door at Thorpe Arch, as former RB Leipzig and RB Salzburg manager, Jesse Marsch, took charge at the Yorkshire club.