Last Night: Leeds 2-1 Bolton
Sometimes it takes adversity to appreciate just how good you have it. And sometimes it doesn’t even take that...
Last night Leeds won 2-1 in front of the biggest crowd of the competition on the night. The new £10m man, Patrick Bamford, scored in his first full start. Academy graduate Shackleton looked unplayable at times and Pontus Jansson (leader, hero and inspiration from the wild and vast north - in this case Sweden not Leeds) got 90 minutes under his belt for the first time since the World Cup.
And yet, it was all slightly underwhelming. Opposition players didn’t wilt at the very sight of an onrushing man in white. Triangles didn’t spontaneously appear across the pitch in dizzying bouts of tessellation.
None of this is criticism. Last season the thought of a 2-1 win against relegation fodder Bolton would have made me, and many of my fellow Elland Road acolytes, weak at the knees. Last night, it wasn’t even business as usual, it was more like a day when you had four pints the previous night instead of leaving it at three. Not hungover by any stretch, but just slightly fuzzy.
Last night was greater testament to Bielsa than any of the one-hundred-and-eighty minutes that preceded it. This is what normal football looks like. And even then, normal football of a much higher standard than anything played last season. It is unbelievable and immeasurable how far Leeds have come in a few short months under mentor, maestro and messiah Marcelo.
Last night was the pinch that jerks you awake and reminds you that this is real life. It’s followed immediately by the elation that you’re not actually being chased by a giant spider with your old maths teacher’s face and an ex’s genitals. Or in Leeds’ case by the realisation that yes, Leeds did beat Stoke and Derby 7-2 on aggregate. Yes, Bielsa is the first manager since Jimmy Armfield in 1974 to win his first three games. And no, it isn’t too good to be true. At least for the moment.