Leeds United legend Eddie Gray has claimed that Marcelo Bielsa could have shown more support to his players amid the form which cost him his job.
Bielsa wrote himself into Leeds folklore by guiding the club to a long-awaited promotion back to the Premier League. And the Argentine’s debut season in the top flight went excellently, as he guided the side to ninth.
However, results took a turn for the worse this season. A host of key injuries, including for star England midfielder Kalvin Phillips, did not help.
Ultimately, though, Bielsa paid the price at the end of February.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, former Leeds great Gray insisted that the Elland Road club made the right decision in sacking Bielsa.
He added that, although it was the manager’s nature, Bielsa could have done more to support his players in the tough run of form.
“The club did the right thing,” Gray said. “You couldn’t see the run of defeats coming to an end. Marcelo never really showed any emotion.
“I never saw him pat a player on the back when he was substituted. That’s just how he was and he was successful with it. The players responded to him.
“But when you are struggling and you don’t have that personal affinity with the players, it becomes difficult. When things start going wrong, you need an arm around you and that wasn’t his nature.”
Should Leeds United have sacked Marcelo Biesla for Jesse Marsch?
Are Leeds United still doomed after sacking Marcelo Bielsa for Jesse Marsch as same style is likely
Former RB Leipzig manager Jesse Marsch has replaced Bielsa and recovered from a slow start. Indeed, dramatic late wins over Norwich and Wolves have followed defeats to Leicester and Aston Villa. The two wins have steered Leeds away from the relegation zone, but there is more work to do to secure their Premier League status.
Nevertheless, Gray added that Marsch has shown a similar passion for Leeds that Bielsa showed, which the 74-year-old said will serve him well.
“So far Jesse has done very well,” Gray said. “If you come in and communicate with the players, you get their respect and everything runs smoothly. Don was like that.
“Jesse is a completely different type of personality to Marcelo but he shows the type of passion and enthusiasm that Leeds fans like.
“He’s bought into the club. I met him at a fundraiser at Elland Road and he really appreciates the opportunity and realises what it means to the people of Leeds for the club to be in the Premier League.”
Leeds facing big few months
The first priority for Leeds and Marsch is to secure their Premier League status.
They still have to play Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal. Still, matches against fellow relegation battlers Watford and Brentford will likely prove more crucial.
The club cannot afford to look too far into the future, but there is a big few months however the season ends.
Raphinha has become the subject of intense transfer speculation, with Barcelona reportedly keen on signing the Brazilian winger.
There is also uncertainty over Phillips’ future, even if he does want to sign a new contract.