By George Overhill

11th Mar, 2022 | 4:40pm

Marcelo Bielsa flew home to Argentina as Leeds United fell apart against Aston Villa

Marcelo Bielsa was flying home to Argentina at the same time Leeds United were collapsing in defeat to Aston Villa, reports The Athletic’s Phil Hay.

Jesse Marsch’s side were a mess at Elland Road as the visitors condemned them to a sixth-straight defeat, 3-0 at full time.

After a more composed performance during the 1-0 Leicester defeat in the American’s first game there were high hopes for last night (Thursday 10 March), but the nature of the loss has brought renewed focus on what the club has lost in their previous boss.

Phil Hay writes in The Athletic today: “It was Leeds versus Aston Villa last night and as the streets filled up with a crowd trying hard to renew their faith, Bielsa was in London, about to fly out of Heathrow and home to Argentina.

“In different circumstances, Elland Road would have been his stage and his audience. Two weeks ago, it was. Left behind in his absence were people facing up to a void as big as they feared it might be when Bielsa left.

“Bielsa was flying out over the Atlantic when [Calum] Chambers scored and the loveable flow of his era felt as far away as supporters left in droves and the team traipsed despondently through the last few minutes.”

Reality check

Nobody can deny the final weeks of the previous manager’s reign were not awful, and his inability to change did appear to be leading the club straight out of the Premier League.

But after last night there are fears that such a fate might be inevitable whoever is in charge, and the club have sacrificed arguably the most popular manager in football for nothing.

How much of the Villa performance is an indication that the rot that set in under Bielsa cannot now be remedied is unknown.

The 66-year-old transformed a number of the Whites squad from second-tier players into top-level performers.

But perhaps that was simply unsustainable over the long term, or when faced with the additional challenge of an injury crisis.

United now face the prospect of facing up to a squad that simply isn’t of the requisite quality, independent of the man who produced magic in improving it so much.

If it is true that the club were looking to make a change in the summer anyway then this situation was inevitable.

But the performance at Elland Road appeared to be the clearest message possible that the good times of the Bielsa-era are long gone.

In other Leeds United news, one Aston Villa player mocked Whites fans after the game.