Rangers boss Steven Gerrard has emerged as a prime contender to replace Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds United, according to reports from Football Insider.
If you’ve seen the Leeds United documentary ‘Take Us Home’ on Amazon Prime, you will have a fair idea of what Bielsa’s appointment has meant for the club, the fans and the city.
Leeds fans feared the worst about whether Bielsa would commit his future at the club after losing in the play-offs (against Derby County) and failing to secure promotion in 2019. In the end, Bielsa decided to stay and next year guided the club to the Premier League for the first time in 16 years.
Bielsa has signed a one-year contract this summer, and there is no suggestion that he would be looking to leave before the end of his tenure. At the same time, no-one knows whether the enigmatic 65-year-old would stick around at the Yorkshire club beyond the end of the season given his previous hesitation to commit for a longer duration.
A source close to Football Insider has told them that Leeds are assessing alternatives in case Bielsa leaves the club at the end of the season, or maybe before that. And, the name that tops their priority list is Steven Gerrard whom Leeds previously tried to sign, without success.
Football Insider made similar claims about Leeds United eyeing Gerrard as a potential Bielsa replacement last year as well, so in that respect, this is not fresh news. However, will Bielsa genuinely leave Leeds? The concern could be that if Leeds struggle throughout the season, and if there isn’t a significant investment in the squad, Bielsa could walk.
Leeds are currently 15th in the Premier League table with eight games played and 10 points on the board. They’re not in serious trouble, but a few bad games will see them in the relegation spots and that will bring on a unique pressure on the club and manager.
Rangers flying under Gerrard
The Ibrox club sit nine points clear at the top of the Scottish Premier League, although Celtic have played two games less. They are unbeaten in all competitions so far and picked up 12 wins out of 14 in the league.
With only three goals conceded and none at home in the league, Gerrard has shown great tactical acumen this season. Built on a strong defensive foundation, this season’s Rangers team have shown ruthlessness going forward, scoring 37 goals in 14 games in the league.
However, where Gerrard has really made a strong impression is in Rangers’ outstanding performances in Europe, with Rangers standing on the brink of qualification to the knockout stages. The 3-3 draw away to Benfica last time out felt like a defeat after Rangers squandered a two-goal advantage – that shows how far the Ibrox outfit has progressed under Gerrard.
Ideal candidate to replace Bielsa?
Gerrard is doing an amazing job at Rangers. The club was in a downward spiral under Pedro Caixinha when Gerrard took over. There have been setbacks on the road but the immense progress the club has made – gradually and steadily – is there for everyone to see.
There is no evidence to suggest that Gerrard can’t have a similar impact at Leeds if he is given a similar backing. His lack of Premier League experience can’t be seen as a negative given the example is already out there with Frank Lampard doing a decent job for Chelsea.
Bielsa is a genius. And a flawed one too. It’s blasphemy to bring Gerrard into the equation given the Liverpudlian is just in his early years of management where Bielsa, the globetrotter, has seen it all. But Gerrard loves to play an attacking brand of football. He is a progressive thinker and has shown great man-management skills.
The way he dealt with a volatile character like Alfredo Morelos and got the best out of him deserves applause. Here is a manager who is good at spotting talent (having learnt the ropes at Liverpool academy), and is someone who is getting better at picking up the right profile of players in the transfer market while operating on a relative shoestring budget (compared to Celtic).
All he needs now is success to prove his potential. Gerrard has always harboured the desire to manage Liverpool, and Leeds could be the perfect stepping stone for him – a club full of ambition under a shrewd owner, with a rich history and loyal fan base.
At some point, Gerrard would definitely be looking to try his luck in England, and the perfect way to bow out next summer would be by winning the SPL.