This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
A pre-season tour is usually seen as a way of building squad harmony, morale and fitness ahead of a new season.
It traditionally involves a trip to a faraway land, in this case Australia, for players young, old and new to get accustomed to each other in a different environment.
When Leeds announced their tour of Australia, a trip in which they’ll face both Manchester United and Western Sydney Wanderers, similar assumptions would have been made.
However, Marcelo Bielsa isn’t a normal character. He may be a fantastic manager, but he doesn’t always do things in a traditional manner.
A pre-season tour to the other side of the world is a relatively new thing in football terms but neither Bielsa or the full team have travelled.
16 members of Leeds’ squad touched down over the weekend after a lengthy flight, but a number of star names were left off the list to have travelled.
It’s an interesting plan from the Argentine coach who has split his squad into two parts. Staying behind in Yorkshire are the likes of Helder Costa, Jack Clarke and Mateusz Klich whilst new arrival Ben White is also not in the tour squad.
Initially, this might have been seen as a bizarre decision, but it could actually be game-changing for Leeds heading into the new season.
Why? Because it may actually give Bielsa a chance to directly focus on embedding his new signings.
On the same day as the Whites take on United on the other side of the world, the players left behind will face rather less glamorous opposition in Tadcaster Albion.
Leeds wouldn’t have been able to play everyone in Australia so this gives a better chance of getting everyone up to speed in terms of match fitness far quicker.
It’s an unorthodox method, but it’s also genius. This will give Bielsa a chance to teach the new signings how Leeds play whilst implementing it in separate matches away from the noisy crowds.
It may also give him a chance to experiment as he did against York when Kemar Roofe and Patrick Bamford both played together.
Although this can be seen as somewhat of a protest against the tour from Leeds’ manager, there is logic to his madness.
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It’s a different model, but one that could ultimately pay off for the new signings and players like Samu Saiz who have been away from the squad.
By staying in England, it can benefit players like Costa who may now be able to adjust to life in Leeds far sooner than he would have if he jetted off to Australia.
Therefore, splitting the squad into two has the potential to be a masterstroke.