Christa Ackroyd: Why Bielsa has shown winning is important but not at any price

I have lost a lot of faith in football, well the so-called man’s game anyway.

Leeds United. United's head coach Marcelo Bielsa. . Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe

Too many clubs have forgotten their working- class roots, pricing themselves out of the market as far as ticket prices go, as they pay telephone number wages to spoilt pampered individuals whom I wouldn’t pay in washers.

As for rolling around on the ground in mock agony, hand them an Oscar in the form of a yellow card and tell them to get in with it.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Give me rugby, League or Union, any day. There the drama is made on the playing field, not by lying on it.

I also do not understand why the authorities cannot clamp down on racist chants from fans. Judging by the amount of football on television, there are more cameras trained on the sport every week than on anything else. So let’s stop pussyfooting about. Hand over the evidence to police and arrest those responsible if clubs can’t supervise their own supporters.

Racism, and the appalling monkey chants that should shame any club, should have been stamped out years ago. It would not be tolerated in the office, on the streets or on social media, so let’s not tolerate it on the terraces.

Having said all that, this weekend saw a moment of triumph amid the tantrums. If manners cost nothing, the actions of Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa could theoretically have cost him £150 million, the obscene amount of money it is worth to any club that reaches the Premier League. And, while I am writing, congratulations to Sheffield United on getting there and in particular to the club’s Stocksbridge- born manager Chris Wilder. I love a local hero story and the fact that a one-time supporter can become player then manger and lead his team to the top division is Roy of the Rovers stuff. I suspect he is still pinching himself.

But back to Leeds and the draw that led to United’s celebrations. Theoretically the chance of automatic promotion was all but gone for Leeds United. Nevertheless all clubs like to win and there was also the psychological impact for Leeds of beating a club they might meet in the playoffs.

It was by all accounts an ill- tempered game. But when Leeds scored, Aston Villa had stopped playing believing the ball was about to be kicked out for a player to receive treatment for an injury. It wasn’t and Leeds scored. Immediately Bielsa ordered his players to do the same, to stop playing and watch, as Villa equalised, because according to the coach, English football is known for its noble features, its sportsmanship. Well I wouldn’t go that far Marcelo. But we get your point.

Okay so Bielsa has already got himself into hot water over ‘spygate’ when he said he didn’t know it was against the rules to spy against the opposition in training. I still don’t really understand the big deal, but there you go.

Then there are some who will never forgive his fellow Argentinian countryman Diego Maradona for his Hand of God in the World Cup. Get over it. It’s only a game and sometimes far from being a beautiful one. What Bielsa reminded us is that fair play and manners matter.

So here goes.

To all the drivers who don’t say thank you when I stop to let you in or drive past, shame on you. Rude.

To all those women who believe it is somehow degrading when a man opens the door for you, grow up. It is gentlemanly.

To all those in the service industries who believe they are doing you a favour when you contact them with an query, answer the phone. And help. Fair’s fair. Or it should be.

I want Leeds United to win promotion for many reasons. I remember the glory days of top- tier football and the likes of Jack Charlton, Norman Hunter, Paul Reaney, Terry Yorath, Peter Lorimer, Eddie Gray, Paul Madeley, Johnny Giles, Billy Bremner et al.

Every major city benefits from playing host to top sportsmen and women. Winning and the feeling it brings does rub off on those who are there to witness it.

But, as Mr Bielsa has shown, not at any price. Leeds United have long had the nickname ‘dirty Leeds’ but there is nothing wrong with playing tough as long as you play fair.

And for that reason I shall be shouting loud in the coming weeks in the hope they join their near neighbours in the top flight.

Because I like the way their coach insisted they get there.