11 February 2020 07:29
Last season, Marcelo Bielsa's promotion campaign blew up in the final weeks of the Championship season as they lost their nerve in the run-in. Leeds were top of the Championship just 10 games ago, 11 points clear of third place but have managed just nine points since then and now find themselves level on points with third-placed Fulham. But the reason this is different this time is that Leeds fans are, quite understandably, looking to Bielsa to prove that he is a top manager rather than a myth. It all played into the Leeds story, the team other fans love to hate, cast as "dirty Leeds" back in the day but no-one can surely deny with their fan base they would be an asset to the Premier League. Even Leeds fans are beginning to wonder whether Bielsa's demanding methods have left the players facing burnout during the run-in.
Ironically, it was at Brentford last season when they suffered a 2-0 defeat, they failed to win any of their last four Championship games and then lost their play-off semi final to Derby. Now they have to go back to Brentford, the season looks to be unravelling again and, for all the praise and hype, Leeds need Bielsa to step forward and prove he really is the managerial genius admired by so many other greats. Brentford manager Thomas Frank believes that stumbling Leeds will fear coming to the cauldron that will be Griffin Park on Tuesday night – and that in the heat of the Championship title race, it is his rival teams that are feeling the pressure. Frank's buoyant young team go into the knife-edge clash with only two defeats in their last 11 games, and lurking only two points behind Marcelo Bielsa's side. By stark contrast, Leeds' 2-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest on Saturday made it four losses in their last five games – and a collapse like the one Bielsa's team suffered last year, when they began to crumble in the New Year after dominating in the first half of the season, looks ominously on the cards.
THOMAS FRANK says Leeds are trembling with fear ahead of their crunch clash at Griffin Park tonight. 1 Brentford boss Thomas Frank is adamant that Leeds are fearful of the Bees ahead of their promotion six-pointer Rampant Leeds topped the table and were 11 points clear of third just ten games ago. But boss Marcelo Bielsa's side have lost four of their last six in the league, as their form fell off a cliff at the business end of the season. Frank said: "I think Leeds are potentially the best team in this division, if you look at every statistic they are bang up there. "I'm 100 per cent sure they fear us going into this game, that's not to say we're going to win it.
The Bees host Leeds tonight knowing that a win will see them move above Marcelo Bielsa's side in the race for the top two. Leeds have lost four out of their last five matches and are only in second place on goal difference - and Frank is keen to compound their misery come this evening. "Everyone knows how much I respect Marcelo Bielsa and what he has done to build up Leeds as a club and as a team but they couldn't pick a worse place to play Tuesday night. Marcelo Bielsa will be aiming to end a spell of poor form for Leeds in 2020, at Griffin Park on Tuesday A victory over Brentford at Griffin Park could reignite Leeds' promotion push, following four defeats in their last five Championship games, writes Sky Sports News reporter Richard Graves... These are the qualities that lead many in the game to describe Marcelo Bielsa as one of the best coaches in world football. So, while Leeds United's recent fortunes may have changed, Bielsa's work ethic certainly hasn't. For Bielsa, the detail in his answer was both a sign of respect for the nature of the question and a willingness to show the media and fans just how carefully he lays out a plan for each individual. However, this answer was also used by some on social media to poke fun at Leeds' expense - something which hasn't been lost on Bielsa. A 2-0 loss at the City Ground to fellow promotion-rivals Nottingham Forest on Saturday saw the Reds climb to within a point of Leeds in fourth, while third-placed Fulham are level on 55 points with Bielsa's side. Earlier in the campaign, after 21 matches played, Leeds were top of the league and 11 points ahead of the play-off places, following a typically-prolific start to the season. When asked about Leeds' recent failure to convert chances into goals, Bielsa gave a simple, pragmatic answer: "This has happened to every team. "The players have always been present in matches and of course the importance of this game is very clear," Bielsa said when looking ahead to a crucial clash at Griffin Park. Victory at promotion rivals, Brentford, would be a timely moment to end that run and perhaps change the current narrative.