Darren Gough – Why Marcelo Bielsa staying is so key for Leeds United next season

THE BIG debate among Leeds United fans has been as to whether Marcelo Bielsa will stay after the club’s play-off elimination - with the Argentine being on such a big wage and whether Leeds can afford for him to stay.

Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa. Picture: Tony Johnson.

Also, there is a fear of a couple of the better players leaving. I certainly cannot see him staying if a few of the big stars leave. Let’s hope they do and that he remains.

I just think he will want a few reassurances.

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Realistically, Leeds have to just take what has happened this season. They were mid-table last year and finished 13th and with basically the same squad, Bielsa has took them to where they are.

Derby County manager Frank Lampard celebrates his team's play-off semi-final victory at Elland Road. Picture: Nick Potts/PA

If it was not for the bad result against 10-man Wigan after being 1-0 up, I think they would have finished in the top two in the Championship.

They should have gone up automatically and what also went against them were injuries and a relatively small squad of senior players which – ultimately – cost them in the long-run.

Some injuries simply came at the wrong time for them. But it just was not meant to be and Leeds fans will be heartbroken.

You also have to say that a lack of discipline from the players also hurt them when it mattered. Look at the sending-off of Gaetano Berardi in the second leg against Derby County at Elland Road.

Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa shows his disappointment in the defeat at home to Wigan. Picture: Simon Hulme

Before the game, in a pivotal play-off semi-final second leg, you stress that you cannot afford to get a sending off.

I understood the Scott Malone one for Derby as he took one for the team with a couple of minutes to go in an important part of the game.

But Berardi’s red, when Leeds were trying to get back into the game, was just a nightmare.

He has been sent off so many times.

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith and Jack Grealish. Picture: Nick Potts/PA

Sometimes, the pictures just tell the story in football. You had Pontus Jansson just sat on his own contemplating what could have been, while Derby were celebrating. That was the ups and downs in football in one picture.

A lot of people were talking about Leeds against Aston Villa being the dream play-off final at Wembley and it would have been if we are going to be honest.

Looking at the season realistically, Leeds played a lot of wonderful football over the course of 2018-19 - and also over the two legs against Derby.

But you have to give Derby credit. Frank Lampard changed their formation in the second leg and it worked. In his first season in charge as a manager, people were saying: ‘Is he going to be ready for management?’

Well he ultimately proved it against the ‘master’ in Bielsa. He got his tactics spot-on. He had to do something different after Leeds got the better of Derby in the first leg and all season. He rolled the dice and got the result.

You wonder if it can be the same in the final against Villa on Monday after losing 4-0 and 3-0 during the season.

He is going to have to do something different against them, but on a bigger pitch at Wembley, do not put it past Lampard.

West Brom had about ten chances in their second leg to beat Villa and did not do it. So I am not writing Derby off; not a chance.

Hopefully, Leeds will go again as I think Bielsa has done a terrific job there.

I am not a Leeds fan, but I have to say that they have a terrific support and next season, they will have another good run at it and hopefully be better prepared with one more year.

But they have to get up next year. I do not think they are any excuses.

Looking at the season, the Spygate thing was ridiculous. How you could fine a club £200,000 quid! I found that absolutely laughable; comical.

In any sporting event, anyone can watch anyone. If it was just a fan who watched Derby train and then managed to ring someone at Leeds up to say: ‘listen, Frank Lampard has been working on this formation and that’. What would Leeds say: ‘well, we don’t want to know, it is not in the spirit of the game.’

Bielsa should have just got a small fine and slap on the wrist as the club broke no laws.

The spirit of the game has mainly gone out of professional sport over the years. I think we have all seen that over the years.

Sometimes, there is the odd little thing that happens where you think: ‘oh that’s brilliant.’ Overall, we have seen everything; diving, play-acting, fouling and all sort of things.

What is the spirit of the game anymore? It is a grey area.