MARCELO BIELSA has been called many things during his esteemed spell in football management; a mentor, teacher and a philosopher to name but three.
But being refered to as a meteorologist is not on that lengthy list just yet...
Leeds United may have suffered their own storm season from mid-autumn onwards in 2017-18 to put paid to a sunshine start to their last Championship campaign and any long-term prospects of promotion in the process, but any predictions of lightning potentially striking twice are given short shrift by the sagacious Argentine.
The Whites head coach is aware of what occurred 12 months ago when Leeds’s season effectively peaked by late September, but is mercifully unscathed by those developments and feels it has no relevance to the here and now.
That 4,600 travelling contingent who will pack out the Leppings Lane end at Sheffield Wednesday tomorrow night would dearly like to be further reassured on that count, with memories of last season’s events likely be lurking somewhere in their minds still.
I know what happened last year, but I do not think it is good to compare both situations. A good idea is to resolve this situation right now. It is not the best thing to predict that you are going to have storms.Marcelo Bielsa
Almost a year to the day on October 1, 2017, Leeds – top of the league just a week earlier – went down 3-0 to the Gary Hooper-inspired Owls at Hillsborough to drop to fifth in the table following a second straight loss.
Another derby setback tomorrow could result in something resembling a repeat for Leeds.
Speaking with typical clarity, wisdom and cool logic, Bielsa, whose side suffered the first league defeat of his reign in disappointing fashion against Birmingham City last weekend, remarked: “It is very difficult to make any comparison because I was not here last year.
“I know what happened last year, but I do not think it is good to compare both situations.
“A good idea is to resolve this situation right now. It is not the best thing to predict that you are going to have storms.
“We always try to be consciously optimistic and we have solid arguments to build optimism. We will have to show that on Friday.
“Whenever you lose, you always want to win. If it is a derby, the willpower to win increases.”
This particular Championship fixture has few peers when it comes to encapsulating the roller-coaster nature of life in the second-tier.
While Wednesday hit the heights 12 months ago, it was the turn of Leeds to excel in the fixture at S6 at the start of the 2016-17 season when an unexpected 2-0 win in August 2016 helped Garry Monk breathe a little easier after registering his first league victory as Whites chief.
Seven months earlier, two-goal Hooper orchestrated a home victory in January 2016, while a collector’s item strike from Steve Morison earned Leeds the spoils towards the end of 2014-15.
All told, the pendulum has swung from one side to the other in their last five Hillsborough meetings – ever since a dramatic Owls win in January 2014, which saw Leeds suffer their first 6-0 league defeat since 1959.
Along with the good and bad, depending on your particular affiliation, the ugly has also been showcased sadly back on a dark night in October 2012 which tarnished English football.
The game may have ended with honours even at 1-1, but it was ultimately a match remembered for all the wrong reasons, with the game marred by celebrations which followed a second-half equaliser from former Leeds midfielder Michael Tonge.
A Leeds ‘fan’ who went onto claim notoriety in Aaron Cawley ran onto the pitch and struck ex-Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Kirkland, with the former England international requiring several minutes of medical attention – with a media frenzy ensuing following the final whistle and some unsavoury headlines arriving in the media on the following day.
It was the most infamous moment in a fixture that has proved tumultuous over the years.
In terms of Bielsa’s own derby passions, there may be no substitute for the Classico Rosarino in his native Rosario – with the rivalry between his beloved Newell’s Old Boys and Rosario Central being one of the most fervent in Argentinean football.
Yet while he will view tomorrow’s events with the serene detachment of a much-travelled footballing Svengali who has seen pretty much everything this sort of occasion has had to offer, there will be a healthy respect for the sense of theatre in a division which he has quickly grown to admire.
“It is impossible to have the same emotions as when I trained my team in Argentina,” Bielsa added. “But it is a beautiful Championship. Football starts with the fans and the stadiums and it is also about the passion that the fans feel about it.
“Then you have the game and the beauty of the game and the spectacle you offer to the fans.
“The fans, the stadium, the organisation and passion and love for the clubs are on a high level here in England.
“The spectacle and beauty of the game is sometimes good and bad.”