HEAD COACH Marcelo Bielsa insists emotion and not money was behind his decision to accept the challenge of reviving Leeds United’s fortunes as a new season of Yorkshire football prepares to get underway.
The Argentinian, a mentor to Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino, is one of the most high-profile appointments in the Football League for many years.
Bielsa became the highest paid manager in the club’s history with a reported £2m plus annual salary by taking on the challenge of reviving former glories at Elland Road.
But the former Argentina national team coach is adamant that the biggest attraction was the chance to recreate the success he enjoyed at previous clubs who remind him of Leeds.
“I always measure the challenges with the emotion that was produced,” he said ahead of tomorrow’s home bow against Stoke City.
“When I was the head coach at Newell’s Old Boys (in Argentina), that was the happiest moment of my career.
“I worked also in Bilbao (with Athletic) and they are unique. I worked also in Marseille where it is impossible not to be moved by the atmosphere of the stadium. I am sure that this new possibility will have many ingredients of the clubs I just mentioned.
“In a nutshell football, even if people think we work for money, is a search for strong emotions. And what you remember with football is the emotions.
“You feel a lot better when you remember emotions than when you count money. Sometimes we learn this reality late. After you have enough money emotions are a lot more important. I will hope that it will be a fact that my work in Leeds is full of emotions.”
Such is the interest in Bielsa’s bow that Sky TV have selected the Stoke game for live broadcast.
It is very important for me to be at the level of the expectancy. My goal is to show I deserve the opportunity I was given.Marcelo Bielsa
Sheffield United’s tea-time clash with Swansea City will also be shown by the satellite station along with Monday night’s clash between Hull City and Aston Villa, underlining what a big role the county has to play in this season’s Championship.
Chris Wilder, the Blades manager, is determined his side will start on the front foot in front of the cameras to set the tone for the campaign.
“We will play in a positive manner,” said the 50-year-old. “We are going to get pushed back, we respect that. I have no issues with that, but this is about us and how we are going to play.
“If we are good enough to do that we will be a dangerous side to play against.”
A couple of hours or so before United host newly-relegated Swansea, Steel City rivals Wednesday will tackle a Wigan Athletic side who last term plied their trade in League One.
It has been a summer of cost-cutting at Hillsborough as the Owls tried frantically to remain within the parameters of the League’s Football Fair Play rules.
No signings have been made, while Jordan Rhodes left for Norwich City on loan and Bristol City signed Jack Hunt as head coach Jos Luhukay was forced to trim a wage bill that also lost Glenn Loovens and Ross Wallace following the duo’s release.
“I am not a coach who says before a season we will finish in position one, six or 10,” said the Dutch head coach. “But we must do better than last season.
“If this squad stays together and we don’t have a bad situation with injuries I am sure this squad has a lot of quality.”
Elsewhere, Middlesbrough travel to Millwall, while Rotherham United return to the Championship with a trip to Brentford.
Millers chief Paul Warne said: “Hopefully this season – and especially at home – every game will be like a play-off final, and the lads will play with a real enthusiasm.”
As for new Leeds chief Bielsa, he admits to wanting to repay the faith of not only the club’s board but also the supporters who have welcomed him so warmly.
“I visited a fair and gathered many impressions of Yorkshire,” said the 63-year-old about last month’s Great Yorkshire Show. “It was a big fair, with 60,000 people.
“This allowed me to get to know the region where I am now. In Argentina I live in the countryside and there are many similarities with Yorkshire.
“The results of our work impact on the senses of the people, and especially working class people. Of course I feel a deep responsibility. I am a little bit worried about this. It is very important for me to be at the level of the expectancy. My goal is to show I deserve the opportunity I was given.”