Bielsa’s fingerprints on everything
For those who may not be Leeds United fans or football enthusiasts, they are well aware by the third episode of Academy Dreams: Leeds United this is Marcelo Bielsa’s club and he’s the boss man in the shadows running the show. Sam Greenwood and Charlie Cresswell deliver fresh insight into what it was like working with the former head coach.
Greenwood’s is especially amusing as he recounts his first taste of first-team training. He said: “About a month in, I got shouted over to do some drills and obviously the drills are complicated.
“I still didn’t understand them properly because coming from Arsenal it was a totally different way of playing football. I was just messing them (drills) up every time with the language barrier and stuff like that.
“We were doing crossing, so you have to get them spot on every time. I’ve put my first ball down to cross it and I’ve miskicked it, put another down and I’ve miskicked that one and he just goes (pointing away) ‘Go!’ back to the [under-]23s.”
Cresswell’s anecdote centres around his central-midfield experiment with the under-23s, which Bielsa orchestrated. It would end in the skipper getting a red card.
The head coach had told the teenager he would be playing in the middle against Leicester City in order to help with the development of his agility. However, Cresswell would end up taking two yellows inside 32 minutes (he forgot about his first when he clipped a counter-attacker’s heels for his second caution).
The topic which would ultimately dominate the under-23 campaign last year comes to the fore in episode three. While it would prove beneficial to have rehabilitating senior names drop into the youth ranks, it would be difficult for Mark Jackson and his side when their regulars were needed in the first team.
In the midst of an 11-match winless league run between late September and mid-January, Jackson would see his best players restricted to halves, 30-minute run-outs or no minutes at all because of Bielsa’s needs. Jackson said: “Sometimes it can disrupt the flow of the team a little bit and if players are only coming on to play a certain amount of minutes it can take them a while to get their rhythm into the game.”
After a loss to Arsenal at Elland Road, Greenwood and Jackson go on to make it clear subs need to be ready to come on and make an impact immediately in these games.
Greenwood’s Arsenal struggles and two-hour commutes
While Joe Gelhardt and Cresswell get some of the focus in the first two parts, the cameras follow Greenwood back to his Seaham roots in County Durham in part three. The forward reveals he would rather drive an hour each way to training at Thorp Arch each day and see his family every night than live closer and see his relatives less.
He also discusses the challenges he found at Arsenal and why Leeds was such an appealing move for him. He said: “It took me a good four months to get used to it, living away from home.
“London compared to a little pit village is like a different world. I missed family and I still struggled with it at the end of my time at Arsenal because I still wasn’t fully used to it.”
You can watch all six episodes of Academy Dreams: Leeds United on Amazon Prime Video now.