By George Overhill

27th Sep, 2022 | 6:40am

Maxi Rodriguez makes Leeds United pilgrimage to pay tribute to Marcelo Biesla

Maxi Rodriguez made the nearly 7,000 mile trip from his home town in Rosario to pay tribute to Leeds United legend and fellow Newell’s Old Boys figure Marcelo Bielsa this week.

The former Liverpool winger racked up 224 appearances for the Argentinian club, where the former Whites boss began both his playing and his coaching career, across three spells before retiring with them in 2021.

Old Boys are perhaps the only place in the world of football where El Loco is as revered as he is at Elland Road, having been a player, a scout, and then coached the reserve and senior sides before embarking on a storied managerial career that may have ended with the United, where he overhauled a sleeping giant and brought them back to the top before eventually being sacked in February.

The Newell’s Old Boys Twitter account posted on Monday (26 September) a photo of their three-time former player standing in front of the mural for the former boss in Leeds, along with the message: “Newell’s legend Maxi Rodríguez in Headingley today at the Marcelo Bielsa mural”.

Legend

The link between the two clubs is forged entirely via the strength of feeling there is from both for Bielsa, who is not quite the sole reason United are a top flight outfit again, but is not far from it.

That bond was on full display through the Rodriguez post, as it seems unlikely that the ex-Argentina international would have extensive cause to travel to Leeds following his retirement as a player.

Bielsa will likely never be forgotten at either club, and if he doesn’t take up another job in management, as appears increasingly likely after he turned down Santos this week, they will mark the bookends to a career that has had untold influence on world football.

The likes of Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino credit the 67-year-old with informing their outlooks on the games, and for supporters he is a god-like figure.

When he was in charge of the Whites, gone were the days of “Dirty Leeds” as the club became a neutrals’ favourite for the way that he set up his side to go toe to toe with the biggest teams in the country upon their return to the Premier League.

It ran out of steam eventually last season as an injury crisis stretched the tactics to the brink and those that were left became psychologically demoralised by a few too many thrashings.

But despite the direction of travel when he was removed in favour of Jesse Marsch there will remain fans who never wanted to see him go, and that is probably as good a mark as any to show the effect he has had on people in the city.

The same can be said of those in his home town in Argentina, and Rodriguez pitching up in West Yorkshire this week illustrates that.

In other Leeds United news, the club have reached out to their legendary former boss about behind the scenes plans but have not had a response.