Heckingbottom, who lasted only four months in charge at the club, is returning to Elland Road this weekend with his Sheffield United side. The 43-year-old didn’t exactly have the greatest time at the club, only winning 4 of his 16 games in charge back in 2018 as he guided them to 16th place. That summer, Bielsa took charge and everything changed at the club.
A number of the players from the side Heckingbottom took charge of are still at the club now, such as Liam Cooper, Stuart Dallas, Kalvin Phillips and Luke Ayling among others, and speaking in his press conference, Bielsa was keen to praise Heckingbottom for the work he did in setting the team up before him.
He said: “I’ve only heard praise about the time he was here. What I value is that a great portion of the players who are the base of the team were here when he was around.”
However, those words didn’t quite come across as too complimentary to some Leeds fans on social media when they were relayed to them by both the club and journalist Phil Hay, as they felt they came across as a cheeky dig that Bielsa could do a job with the players that Heckingbottom couldn’t:
“Best April fools yet”
Will Bielsa sign an extension with Leeds?
Given their contrasting achievements at the club, you can see how some fans are a bit surprised at the manager’s comments. However, taking Bielsa’s words at face value, it does show the impact that a decent coach can have in turning things around at a club.