The numbers will tell Marcelo Bielsa led to Leeds United throughout three and a half tournaments, which led him in 170 official matches, with 80 wins, 33 draws and 57 losses. In 152 games he had more of the ball than the rival. And he promoted him to the Premier League after 16 years of disgrace. But behind the curtain of statistics, of the ungrateful argument of the emergencies that ejected him from the bench of substitutes of the club that he helped to resurface, there are attitudes, gestures that confirm that, at 66, the Loco is still the same Loco from Newell’s . And that they will not allow him to become a disposable idol in the hearts of the inhabitants of Elland Road after he is fired.
You can attest to it Matt Adams, a Leeds fan like so many, who expressed his bitterness on his Twitter account. Not because of the string of bad results, 0-6 against Liverpool or 0-4 against Tottenham, but because Bielsa will no longer be in command of the squad. “Bye bye, Marcelo, thanks for everything,” he wrote in one of his posts. “He is a very special man like no other I have seen in the sport. He resurrected my football club and united the fans with the city. His values impress me”he told Infobae this 45 year old follower.
It was a link in his string of tweets that highlighted him above the expressions of fans saddened by the news. “Marcelo Bielsa personally called my mother when she was dying to talk to her and I will always love him for that above all else”, he wrote, in a post that received more than 800 RTs and 14,000 likes. This medium contacted him to learn behind the scenes of the size of the silent gesture; its impact. Hardly a grain of sand in the enormous dune that he built as a legacy.
Matt’s mother’s name was Shirley. “She was a huge fan and the reason I became a Leeds fan”, prefaced the narrator of this story. “My brother-in-law contacted the club to tell them that my mother was dying and she was a lifelong Leeds fan. Stix Lockwood (institution legend) helped inform Marcelo and he wrote her a letter”, described the germ of the contact. Until then, the outstretched hand was already praiseworthy. But there was more on the Loco’s menu: “Then he insisted on calling her”.
Thus, Shirley found herself on the other end of the phone with a voice that comforted and moved her. The same man who had brought her Leeds back into the limelight. The one with the tense walk, the squatting analyst. “The way he spoke to my mother was beautiful. She said that if he had been there, she would have liked to give him a big hug. I will never forget that phone call, what he did for her”Matt recounted excitedly.
Some time later, the admirer passed away, but with the fulfilled dream of having spoken with Bielsa. A balm in the midst of pain for her family. “I wrote him a letter to thank him personally after the death of my mother and he replied with condolences”, detailed the end of the story. Or the beginning. Because that attitude ended up tying an eternal bond with this fan who also highlighted the reserve with which the Argentine coach left his mark: “He is humble and acts out of concern and love for others, rather than for publicity”.
Indeed, if Adams had not made known that caress of the Loco to his mother, he would have remained in the intimacy of that family with which Bielsa wove an invisible, but at the same time unbreakable connection. That is why, among other things, her indignation at the forms surrounding her farewell: “I wanted him to stay for at least the rest of the seasonand I think most of the fans feel the same way, now we’re worried about the future.”
“His imprint is indelibleis now regarded in a similar way to Don Revie and Howard Wilkinson, two managers who won titles with Leeds. It has given us a different perspective on football and on life, at least that’s my opinion.”, he put his heritage in context, in addition to confirming that, from now on, he will be a fan of the club in which Bielsa decides to sit on the bench. To continue leaving scraps of humanity from him; madness in a world ruled by numbers in which he, even having made history, he saw how the back door was opened.