Ander Herrera told Graham Hunter’s Big Interview Podcast last year that Athletic Bilbao struggled towards the end of the 2011-12 season because of Marcelo Bielsa – and those comments will be worrying for Leeds fans now.
The Manchester United midfielder was a key part of Bielsa’s side that beat his current team to reach the Europa League final in May 2012 – as well as the Copa Del Rey final against Barcelona.
Still in his early twenties, Spain international Herrera amassed 54 league and cup appearances for Bilbao throughout the 2011-12 campaign. Three months later, he was forced to undergo surgery on his groin.
Speaking to Hunter’s podcast in May 2018, Herrera explained how Bilbao tailed off towards the end of the season – losing both finals and only managing 10th in La Liga.
“We couldn’t run any more. We played I think 65 games that season – 38 in the league and a cup final in Spain and the Europa League final,” Herrera said.
“If you see the stats, Marcelo Bielsa used to play with the same players, 14 maximum. So you can imagine how we finished the season. I am not blaming the manager, because he did amazing for us.
“But the last month we couldn’t even move and that is the reality.”
Herrera’s comments are alarmingly worrying, now. Bielsa’s side have lost four of their last seven league games, and are in danger of missing out on promotion – when it looked so likely during the season.
It seems that it is a trend under Bielsa. Monday evening’s 2-0 defeat to Brentford has left Leeds in the lurch, with automatic promotion now unlikely.
The play-offs will add another three games on to a 50-match campaign. The chances of a beleaguered side gaining promotion via the play-offs – after missing out on automatic promotion – is unlikely.