Mateusz Klich was languishing at Leeds but Marcelo Bielsa’s faith in the midfielder is paying off after breathtaking displays against Liverpool and Fulham
- Mateusz Klich was struggling at Leeds when Marcelo Bielsa took over
- But the manager has helped the midfielder has turned his fortunes around
- Klich has scored in the club’s opening games against Liverpool and Fulham
It was three years ago this week that Mateusz Klich experienced a particularly bad night in Cardiff which seemed to spell the end between him and Leeds United.
He picked the wrong boots, did not try to change them and offered the sum total of nothing in a bruising 3-1 defeat, which left the Leeds head coach Thomas Christiansen reluctant even to look him in the eye. The Pole was sent back to the country he’d arrived from – Holland – on a loan deal with Utrecht which seemed sure to become permanent.
Marcelo Bielsa does not appear to have offered any general advice to Klich when he found him languishing back at Leeds. He simply trusted in his ability to coach him, rather than head straight to the transfer market in the modern way. It took Bielsa less than a season to calculate that Klich thrived beyond the halfway line, rather than behind it, and that he was someone who needed space to play in.
Mateusz Klich has turned around his fortunes at Leeds under Marcelo Bielsa’s guidance
The outcome has been evident in two games of Premier League football during which the 30-year-old has hinted that he may become a hugely significant part of a breathtaking Leeds narrative this season.
To go with the devastating goal he scored at Anfield was the stellar moment of Saturday’s creative display against Fulham. He turned through 360 degrees on the ball to size up his options before bisecting two Fulham defenders to find Patrick Bamford, who calmly put Leeds 3-1 ahead.
Leeds have not finished their business in the transfer market, which extends until October 5. They have firm interest in a few players from around the continent. Bielsa doesn’t suit everyone, which is why his approach to recruitment is slightly scattergun. But with his extraordinary ability to locate qualities that other coaches have missed in players such as Klich, Bamford and Kalvin Phillips, he does not seem too worried.
Bielsa has located qualities other coaches have missed in players such as Klich and Bamford
Fulham are in need of more quality. Their defence switched off alarmingly, with Helder Costa’s two goals particularly generous gifts. He was left free to strike the ball home on both occasions.
But proclamations on Saturday afternoon that they will be relegated do seem extremely premature.
Scott Parker has restored a collectivism and identity that was missing in the grim relegation season of 2018-19 when they got through three managers and believed Ryan Babel would be a saviour.
Parker will not be given the run-around like that. In Harrison Reed and Aleksandar Mitrovic he has two leaders.
Leeds know the significance of the club’s Yorkshire derby with Sheffield United next week
Bielsa’s band of brothers are the ones who will take the eye, though. Klich has been at the club long enough to know all about the significance of next Sunday’s Yorkshire derby at Sheffield United.
He played against them for two years as the two sides chased promotion from the Championship together.
Since then, Bielsa has engendered a monumental self-belief. Klich was a Dutch Cup winner with PEC Zwolle in 2014 – part of a team who thrashed Ajax in the final. Nothing, he says, compares with the emotional intensity of what is now unravelling now.