Phil Hay: Andrea Radrizzani was flooded with messages for Leeds United to avoid Marcelo Bielsa
Andrea Radrizzani received numerous anxious messages ahead of Marcelo Bielsa’s appointment at Leeds United, according to Phil Hay.
Speaking on the latest episode of The Athletic Football Podcast, The Athletic’s Leeds reporter detailed how there were so many doubters about Bielsa prior to his appointment at Elland Road in 2018.
It is understood that someone from ESPN tipped the move to be disastrous for Leeds while Whites owner Radrizzani was told how big a gamble the move was.
However, according to Hay, director of football Victor Orta stuck his head on the block to show his faith in Bielsa.
“It was funny because when he first started getting wind of it, somebody from ESPN got in touch with me and said, ‘I’ve heard Leeds are looking quite closely at him and are very interested in him’,” said Hay.
“He sort of said it as a bit of a kicker, ‘I could see that being an absolute disaster’. And that kind of related to the fact that Bielsa developed a reputation for being extremely volatile.
“Everybody had this image of a bit of a madman who was difficult to please and could leave a club at a drop of a hat like he did at Marseille and Lazio, where he didn’t even make it through the door.
“There were a lot of people who were messaging Radrizzani when it became clear that Leeds were going to do this to say to him, ‘look, is this the right decision, is this a bit of a risk? I’m not sure you should be doing this’.
“Orta had to say to him, ‘just hold your nerve, if something goes wrong you can sack me if this goes wrong but I will stick my head out and I will take the chance with this because I think it can be sensational’.”
Sensational, he is
If you cast your minds back to the summer of 2017, Orta went a bit crazy in his first transfer window as Leeds’ transfer chief.
The Spaniard bought flop after flop and while there were a couple of gems in his first recruitment drive at Elland Road, many fans were really unhappy with his work.
Thomas Christiansen and Paul Heckingbottom came and went as Leeds finished mid-table in the Championship.
But then Orta showed why Radrizzani had hired him in the first place by getting Bielsa on the line to discuss replacing Heckingbottom in the Elland Road dug out.
The rest is history.
Leeds are now back in the Premier League and are one of the most exciting teams to watch in the whole of Europe.
They have a team brimming with England, Germany and Spain internationals, as well as a host of young stars who can shine in the future.
Leeds are back and Orta’s decision to put his neck on the line for Bielsa is one that has proven vital in the recent history of this great club.
Well done, Victor. Well done, Andrea. And well done, Marcelo.
In other Leeds United news, Daniel James has sent a message online to Elliott.