By Neil Champney

29th May, 2020 | 8:38pm

MOT View: Manager who Phil Hay claims Leeds 'took a shine to' could be ideal Bielsa successor

Nobody at Leeds United wants to think about the possibility of Marcelo Bielsa leaving the club.

The Argentine has proved to be a hugely popular appointment at Elland Road, and he has managed to back up his unique brand of off-field charisma with a transformative job on the pitch that has helped guide the Whites to the cusp of Premier League football.

But a potential departure is always a possibility, especially when it was reported as recently as March that the manager was being sounded out by  La Liga club Real Betis over a possible summer switch if the Whites don’t secure promotion.

If you factor in that the 64-year-old has an average tenure of 1.66 years in a job – less than the amount of time he has already spent in Yorkshire – it’s clear that he very probably won’t stick around forever.

And so it makes sense, as much as we might not like it, that the club are already eyeing up potential replacements in the eventuality that Bielsa does leave.

According to The Athletic journalist Phil Hay, one man who could be on that shortlist is Lee Bowyer.

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Writing in a Q&A for the outlet on Thursday, the reporter said: “I’ve said before that they [Leeds] took a shine to Lee Bowyer.

“I really can’t say if that’s a path they’d go down post-Bielsa but having seen how well it’s gone under Bielsa, the club know the value of getting the appointment of a head coach spot on.

“It’s impossible to get a replica of Bielsa but they’d naturally like their next coach to exert similar influence and authority.”

So could Bowyer really be the man to step into Bielsa’s shoes when the time comes?

We can certainly think of worse candidates.

For one thing, Bowyer knows what it’s like to represent Leeds better than most, having played for the Whites for seven years during his own career.

Moreover, finding somebody who is willing to roll their sleeves up and show a bit of backbone is an absolute must as well.

Bowyer’s impassioned defence of his current Charlton Athletic side and their Championship status during this ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has not only been admirable for his insistence on doing things the right way, it has shown great leadership qualities too.

And even though his team have struggled a bit this term, he has shown what he can do when put in charge of a side that are going places.

His points per game average of 1.9 last season in League One is higher than Bielsa’s overall PPG of 1.79 during his tenure with the Whites.

Hopefully it isn’t for a while yet, and a million things could change between now and then, but we could easily see Bowyer stepping up to the plate if and when Bielsa departs.

In other Leeds United news, Gary Neville issues verdict on when he thinks Championship season will restart.