Marcelo Bielsa was at the centre of one of the most talked about incidents of the weekend. The Leeds boss told his players to “Give Villa a goal” following Klich’s controversial strike.
Marcelo Bielsa’s been in an out of the news right the way through the season while he has been endeavouring to get Leeds United promoted back to the Premier League. First there was an incident involving a man found lurking in the bushes close to a rival club by police – the prowler turned out to be a Leeds employee, on a mission to collect training secrets from the weekend opponents’ session which was being held behind closed doors. Bielsa openly admitted he sent the spy himself, after all, he reasoned, “It’s not illegal”.
Bielsa: Fair Play or foul play?
This afternoon, Bielsa was again back in the news. His Leeds side went into today’s crucial Week 45 clash with fellow promotion battlers Aston Villa needing to win to have any chance of nudging Sheffield United from the second and last automatic promotion place.
On 72 minutes, the game was locked at 0-0 with Leeds in possession but Villa’s Jonathan Kodjia lay injured on the floor after a collison with defender Liam Cooper. Leeds forward Tyler Roberts seemed to kick the ball out of play so that the game could be stopped for Kodjia to get medical attention. However, the ball didn’t cross the by-line and was picked up by Mateusz Klich who decided he was going to play on, and raced towards goal, amid protests from Villa’s players, before curling the ball past Jed Steer.
"Give the goal"
The visitors were furious with Klich for not stopping play until Kodjia was back on his feet and the game descended into a brawl but the goal was allowed to stand. Villa were not the only ones who felt aggrieved. With the ball in the centre-circle and play about to get underway, Bielsa was on the touchline barking orders to his players: “Give the goal! Give the goal!”. Bizarrely, straight from kick-off, Leeds players obediently downed tools and stood motionless, allowing Anwar El Ghazi and Albert Adomah to casually jog forward and roll the ball home to level the score.
Sheffield United promoted
The incident provoked an instant reaction on social media, some praising Bielsa for his Fair Play, while others were critical of the Argentinean and some even claimed it was an honourable gesture but maybe he could have gone about redressing the balance more subtly. The result means Leeds remain third on 83 points and will now go into next month’s Play-offs while Sheffield United join Norwich City in the Premier League next season.
After the game Bielsa explained to Sky Sports in the Flash Zone: "We didn't gift Villa a goal, we just gave back the one we took. Everyone saw what happened. We expressed how we felt about it by our conduct. English football is renown for playing fair, and so who am I to question that in a country where such behaviour is considered a virtue".
There’s never a dull day with Marcelo Bielsa.