Leeds United coach Marcelo Bielsa was supposed to be the star attraction of the first game of football to be played at Bankwest Stadium – but the Argentine mastermind may not even make the trip at all.
In keeping with his oddball style, Bielsa could brush the English Championship club's clash with the Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday night so he can return to Leeds to continue overseeing pre-season training sessions involving their newest signings.
Bielsa has sent a 16-player squad to Australia for their two pre-season fixtures, the first coming on Wednesday against Manchester United at Optus Stadium in Perth. But some of their new recruits, including Portuguese international Helder Costa, were not included – and Bielsa himself was not part of the travelling party which landed in WA on Sunday.
Reports from the UK suggest Bielsa is considering making a whistlestop 36-hour journey to Perth to take in the match against Manchester United, one of Leeds' fiercest rivals, before returning to England without even venturing to Australia's eastern seaboard.
"Marcelo wants to work with the lads he has brought in and the lads who came back a bit later," said Leeds skipper Liam Cooper. "They are doing the fitness work they missed out on when we were there. It is normal. We have an experienced group and we just get on with our jobs."
Bielsa's absence would certainly suck some of the star power away from what could have so easily been a mammoth occasion for the Wanderers, who will celebrate their first outing at Sydney's newest stadium.
The A-League club was banking on Leeds being promoted to the Premier League last season but after spending the vast majority of it in first or second spot on the Championship table, the fallen English giants failed to win any of their last four games, fell to third place and were knocked out in the play-offs by Derby County.
Bielsa has a much higher profile than any of the players who have made the trip for Leeds, a club which hasn't featured in England's top flight since 2004. Read More – Source