What next for Leeds and Marcelo Bielsa after play-off heartbreak?
"If the club offers me the possibility to carry on, I will listen to this proposal"
Last Updated: 16/05/19 1:19pm
Leeds United's season may have ended in failure but it was certainly a season to remember. One man made that possible.
Marcelo Bielsa was their fifth different manager in five seasons to start a campaign. There was hope that the inspirational Argentine could bring the good times back to Elland Road, and, yes, the happy ending Bielsa craved didn't materialise but he's injected life into a club that has been underachieving for too long.
No matter how gut-wrenching Wednesday night's play-off implosion against Derby would have felt for the home faithful, they know they've witnessed something special this season with the way Bielsa has implemented his football philosophy on a young squad.
With such vibrant football on show, Leeds supporters are obviously desperate for Bielsa to see out his two-year deal he signed last summer. Those fans will need time to grieve over a season that promised so much but ultimately fell flat. However, when the post-mortem begins, the conversations will start and end with the importance of keeping Bielsa at the helm.
"Now is not the time to talk," Bielsa said when asked about his future by Sky Sports.
Much could depend on the level of investment from the top. Owner Andrea Radrizzani will need to assess the budget in the summer having spent big to lure Bielsa to Elland Road. His reported £3m-a-season salary may make it difficult for the hierarchy to loosen the purse strings in order to strengthen a squad that was down to the bare bones in the final few weeks of the season.
Plus, it may prove tough to scare off Premier League clubs from the likes of Kalvin Phillips and Kemar Roofe. Bielsa will want guarantees that he has the required tools to continue his fine work.
When pressed in his post-Derby defeat press conference, Bielsa could not hide his disappointment, but said he would listen to the club's proposals for next season.
"It's not, as you can imagine, convenient to talk about this point right now," the Argentine said.
"Anyway, the process and you know about this process, that's why I'm talking about it, if the club offers me the possibility to carry on I will listen to this proposal."
Billy Lumsden writes: It is easy to forget just how much Bielsa has brought to Leeds as a whole. He invigorated a team that was mid-table for the past two campaigns. Utilising the same players, while bringing the young ones through such as Jamie Shackleton and Jack Clarke, has united the fans and the whole club in general.
They have overachieved, but with doing so, comes the demand and consistency for performances from people who are begging Leeds to make a return to the promise land. Ultimately they were not good enough on the night, but perhaps this was not the right time to do so.
The Argentine has got a togetherness about the club that has not been seen for some time. Bielsa and his backroom staff changed the setup instantly upon arrival, while battling through over 50 separate injuries across the season, most notably Tyler Roberts, Roofe and Ezgjan Alioski, who all missed the second leg against Derby. He has developed and brought through the academy players which has been superb, so he has been a breath of fresh air, not just for Leeds United, but for the Sky Bet Championship too.
He cannot be underestimated. There is no other alternative but for Radrizzani to do everything in his power to keep hold of Leeds United's only hope.
Leeds will return to the Premier League, I am not sure as of when or how, but there are three essentials in order for this to occur.
Bielsa has to stay. Leeds have to give him the money that he needs. They must keep the players that are the core of this team and the ones who are capable of producing the same standards set from this campaign, which Bielsa has already outlined that it will be a struggle.
Deflated it may be, but the loyal and proud fan base will be back and ready for another rollercoaster ride next year.
Hasselbaink doubts Bielsa stay
Sky Sports pundit Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink said: "I don't think he'll be here next season. It was always going to be one year and see whether they can go up. I'd love to see him stay because he does something different. I went to watch his training sessions and for me it was an eye opener. He does make players better - you can see that. He's not afraid to play youngsters.
After suffering heartbreak in the Championship play-off semi-final, what comes next for Leeds United and Marcelo Bielsa? 🤔— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) May 16, 2019
"Leeds and Bielsa have put their identity on the Elland Road pitch - they need to find someone who has the same philosophy and can work with young players to get them over the line. This club needs to be in the Premier League.
"Regardless if Bielsa stays or not, there has to be investment to make the squad more competitive. You have to keep the philosophy of youth but they need help from the bench to come in and make a difference."
Rosenior: Bielsa a genius
Sky Sports pundit Liam Rosenior said: "Wherever he's gone there's been an upturn in performance but he just seems to struggle to get over that final hurdle. As a coach, the man is a genius. All of Leeds' key young players will go onto have fine careers. When those players look back on their careers, they'll say the turning point was playing under Bielsa. I think we should be celebrating him - it's been a pleasure to watch them play.
"Whoever comes in has huge boots to fill. The squad is tiny. What he's done with this squad is brilliant. Sometimes things are out of your control as a manager, like a goalkeeper making a huge error like Kiko Casilla did or Liam Cooper pulling someone down in the box."
Championship Play-Off final on Sky Sports
Watch Aston Villa vs Derby on Monday, May 27 on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Football; Kick-off is at 3pm.
You can also follow all of the action from Wembley the on the Sky Sports App and skysports.com with our dedicated Play-Off final live blog, which will feature the best build-up, commentary and reaction.