For months Leeds fans may have laughed off talk of the famed ‘Bielsa burnout’ as they were flying at the top of the Championship.
The premise is that Marcelo Bielsa’s style of play proves too physically demanding for a team to continue high levels of performance throughout an entire season.
Seemingly avoiding the burnout
Leeds had seemed to escape the dreaded fatigue that comes with playing under Bielsa this term, as they seemed to constantly dig in to score late goals and secure themselves points late in games.
Many mistook these late surges as evidence to disprove the fact that Bielsa’s teams wilt with tiredness. However, this phenomenon isn’t to be studied throughout 90 minutes of a game, it is about the team’s capability to continue playing up to standard throughout a full season.
Fans of the Yorkshire club were quick to tell everybody that they knew better, the Bielsa burnout is a myth and the club will storm through and be promoted to the Premier League with no problem at all.
Perhaps the club should have heeded the warnings of Ander Herrera who played under Bielsa at Athletic Bilbao, when he said (via iNews): “I can’t lie to you, in the last months we couldn’t even move. We had five games to play in the league and were in two cup finals and I think we lost all of them.
“Our legs said ‘stop’. We used to play always with the same players and were not at our best in the finals. We were a completely different team than we had been before.”
Happening before our eyes
It’s happening to Leeds right in front of us. Since the halfway point of the season, they have lost nine of their 20 Championship games but their storming start to the campaign left them in a strong position to be promoted, their league position blinding fans to what was really happening.
The Yorkshire outfit haven’t been the same team since Christmas but it has taken many fans until their automatic promotion hopes were dashed to admit it.
Losing their last two games against 10-man Wigan after leading early on and being comfortably dispatched by Brentford shows the regression Leeds have gone through in recent weeks.
On top of that the players can’t hold themselves together whilst playing this rigorous style, Gjanni Alioski had to come off against Brentford whilst Liam Cooper struggled throughout the match.
The numbers don’t lie, Leeds’ form has deserted them at the worst possible time and it is no coincidence that their players look dead on their feet late on in the season after running their socks off under Bielsa for over 40 games.