Tuesday, April 7, 2020

SPORTS | 06-08-2018 15:57

Impressive Leeds get Bielsa reign off to winning start in England

Marcelo Bielsa enjoyed a highly satisfactory first outing in the Championship as sleeping giants Leeds United outclassed Stoke City 3-1 on Sunday.

El loco is off to an impressive start in England.

Former Argentina and Chile manager Marcelo Bielsa enjoyed a highly satisfactory first outing in England's second-tier Championship as sleeping giants Leeds United outclassed Stoke City 3-1 on Sunday.

Bielsa, Leeds's 11th coach in six years, watched on largely silently as goals by Mateusz Klich, Pablo Hernández and captain Liam Cooper were more than enough to see off a side that was relegated from the Premier League last term.

Bielsa, who left big close-season signing Patrick Bamford on the bench, has introduced a radical training regime to his new charges.

The 63-year-old Argentine reportedly has them at the training ground from early morning till around early evening – although there is a dormitory for the players to have a well-earned siesta.

Their fitness impressed against a team installed as favourites to regain their spot among the elite until it faded in the later stages.

"I think it was a massive statement but we're not getting carried away," man of the match Kemar Roofe told Sky Sports on Sunday after the win.

"Everyone had a feeling of what Bielsa was going to be like. He's drilled us for six weeks and we've shown it today. Everyone's struggling at the end of the game now and that means we've put in the work."

Leeds went 2-0 up by half-time with Klich – a sublime pass by playmaker Samuel Saiz setting him up – and Hernández scoring, the latter in part to a terrible goalkeeping error by England international Jack Butland.

Stoke got one back through Benik Afobe from the penalty spot seven minutes into the second half, but the hosts restored their two-goal advantage four minutes later when Cooper headed home Scottish international Barry Douglas's corner.

For Douglas – who moved to Leeds after playing a pivotal role in Wolves' promotion to the Premier League last season – it was the second goal he had been involved in, having teed up Hernandez, and put him back in credit after he conceded the penalty. 

Cooper said Douglas' overall performance showed how important a player he will be for them as they attempt to return to the Premier League for the first time in what would be 15 years.

"Barry Douglas' stats speak for themselves, and if he keeps putting it in there, he'll be there or thereabouts (in the assist charts)," Cooper said.

"We've done nothing. At the end of the day, it's the first game of the season. We started well last year and we've learned our lessons."

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