Leeds United are back in the Premier League: How one of England’s biggest clubs returned after 16-year absence

“You are God!” Marcelo Bielsa smiled, shook his head and waved his finger after hearing that remark. Leeds United’s Argentine manager had just emerged from his small, one-bedroom apartment in Wetherby, on the outskirts of his adopted city, to thank the group of supporters that had gathered outside to celebrate the club’s promotion to the Premier League.

Bielsa posed for photographs with children, elbow-bumped the older fans and offered a brief “thank you” in broken English. He seemed a touch embarrassed by the adulation as elderly women shouted “We love you! We love you!” at him, but being called God by one man, who was wearing a flat cap and an Argentina flag over his shoulders, seemed to be too much for Bielsa. After all, by securing promotion, he had merely done his job.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

Leeds is a club, and a city, that does not really do romance. Actions speak louder than words and the less said about it, the better. That could even be their motto. But Bielsa has brought romance to Leeds. He has also secured vindication for his own approach to the game that, while earning the respect and praise from the great and the good, has often been a case of style over substance.4

With Chile and Athletic Bilbao, in particular, Bielsa built innovative, eye-catching attacking teams, but no trophies. And Leeds really needed a winner. He is a football purist and, if things are not to his liking, Bielsa will walk away.

He resigned as Lazio manager after just two days in charge back in 2016. A year earlier, he quit as Marseille coach one game into the season and, prior to joining Leeds, Bielsa lasted just 13 games in charge of Lille. He’s also the coach who was christened “El Loco” (“The Crazy One”) in the early 1990s when he faced a gang of Newell’s Old Boys fans while clutching a grenade and threatening to pull the pin after they turned up at his home, demanding he appear, after a 6-0 defeat against San Lorenzo in the Copa Libertadores.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

Modesty and humility are two of Bielsa’s greatest qualities, but getting Leeds back to the Premier League is no ordinary achievement. Perhaps it needed a man described as a genius by Pep Guardiola to pull off what had been mission impossible to so many others.

The story of Leeds United has been a rollercoaster, with many more scream-inducing falls than uplifting high points since the wheels came off in the early years of this century. Three years after being Champions League semifinalists in 2001, Leeds were relegated from the Premier League having spent recklessly beyond their means. Former chairman Peter Ridsdale infamously said Leeds were “living the dream,” but it quickly became a nightmare of player sales, managerial sackings and lurching from one crisis to another.

Since relegation in 2004, Leeds have had 15 managers and five owners. They’ve been to the brink of financial oblivion, endured three seasons in League One, England’s third tier, suffered FA Cup humiliation against a team from a village (Histon in 2008) and become the butt of jokes of rival supporters.