Better to have loved and lost: Bielsa, a “Leeds United employee” and spygate
It’s the 12th September 2017. Leeds sit one point above Cardiff City atop the Sky Bet Championship, and fervour runs riot among the fanbase that this really will be “our year”. It’s a phrase most usually associated with mocking tweets directed at hopeful Merseysiders. But, like a provincial dialect in the big city, it’s a phrase that means something different down here. Down here, it means you get to go and join a league that doesn’t really want you to become cannon fodder for the sides people actually want to see on TV. On the 12th September 2017, I really struggled to get excited about that prospect. In the end, I needn’t have worried.
Fast forward fourteen months and it’s the 11th January 2019. Leeds again sit atop the Championship, this time a full 2 (two) English league points clear of Norwich. Almost three months (and nineteen games) further into the season this time, it looks like it might once again be “our year”. And this time, with a new man at the helm, with principles and footballing philosophies, with Cellino gone, Orta remade and Radrizzani well, patchy… I wanted it. I was ready. I am ready. For going down 6-3 at Old Trafford. For 3-3 draws at Everton where both sides finish with nine men (all of them wearing number 10). For the Premier League. For greatness.
And then. The news that a “Leeds United employee” (not “disgruntled”, or even “former”, which is novel) was spotted “acting suspiciously” at the training ground of FrankLampard’sDerbyCountyTM. Was he maybe refusing to properly address the club (as above)? These things stand out.
And for a morning that was very very very *very* funny.
But then, swelling in the pit of my stomach like Bielsa’s men tracking back to shut down the break, the very real prospect of an FA punishment. A touchline ban for the manager – bucket and all? Transfer embargoes aside from Marcelo’s self-imposed variety? Points deductions, even…?
If the FA come down heavily on this stunt it might cost us “our year”. But that’s also true of Bielsa’s refusal to sit on a lead against Forest with 10-men. It’s true of his insistence that we don’t need additions in January. It’s true of almost everything he, and now we, do. But that is exactly what makes it worth going up.
I, for one, don’t want to be Cardiff City under N*il Warn*ck, scratching around for points like pigs hunting truffles, at the bottom of a division that looks down on us. If we’re going up, we’re going up with wire cutters in one hand and a copy of Das Kapital in the other.
It is better to have loved [Bielsa] and lost [points], than never to have loved at all [which might literally be true in the case of Neil Warnock].