Gabby Agbonlahor claimed earlier in the season that Marcelo Bielsa was a “myth” but in actual fact, the only myth that has been thrown at Leeds United is the opinion that burnout is something the Yorkshire side suffer with. Burnout, apparently, was the reason for the play-off defeat to Derby in 2019. Without the suspension of football, promotion would not have come our way and earlier this season, burnout was supposed to see us falter.
But finally, a pundit has put an end to the suggestions that Leeds have ever suffered from burnout under Bielsa. Rio Ferdinand ridiculed the idea of it, stating that having spoken to captain Liam Cooper – the players find such accusations against them offensive. Sitting tenth in the Premier League and with three winnable games left to play, Leeds have achieved far beyond expectations – despite the lack of a pre-season.
One pundit even suggested that had it not been for the pandemic shutting football down mid-season, Leeds would not be in the Premier League. But on Saturday, Leeds fielded a side with just one new player against Tottenham Hotspur since being in the Championship – a team that were in the Champions League final in 2018. Not only did Leeds win 3-1, but they outplayed their North London opponents both tactically and physically.
Ferdinand told BT Sport: “They have not burned out this season and they didn’t last season. If you speak to the players, they take it as an insult. I spoke to [Liam] Cooper, the captain and he took it as an insult that people say that about them. They back themselves fully, the training sessions are very intense physically and mentally. People look at it and say it’s crazy, but they’re not fighting a relegation battle here, they’re a team that’s on the up and a club that’s on the up.”
Three years of Bielsa’s intensity, Bielsa’s demands, Bielsa’s religion at Elland Road – and still, the Leeds players are not suffering from burnout. They’re just getting better. The players have bought into a way of playing, and they will fight to meet the demands of their Argentine coach and finally, a pundit has ended the suggestions of burnout to the delight of Leeds supporters – backed up by the club’s position and Saturday’s win over Tottenham.
The idea of burnout, has – ironically – burned out.