Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds produce ‘bonkers’ showing as they push Liverpool close

How fitting Leeds should open their Premier League account with a game almost as bonkers as the manager who led them there.

When he wasn't sitting on his bucket sipping coffee from a paper cup, Marcelo Bielsa was prowling around his technical area throwing scornful looks towards his stars like a headmaster would a misbehaving pupil.

The bellowing of orders in his native Argentinian echoed around Anfield as he slapped his thighs and crouched down on his haunches.

Beilsa made rival Jurgen Klopp look conservative, which is quite an achievement. Had the match not been so breathtaking and brilliant, his performance would have stolen the show.

Neutrals had been desperate to see how the man known as El Loco would perform in the Premier League – and he didn't disappoint. Neither did his team.

Bielsa is so revered in Leeds that a butcher has named some sausages after him.

The 'Bielsa Bangers' consist of chorizo, beef and pork – but if Liverpool thought the top flight newcomers would be meat and drink at Anfield then the reigning champions were mistaken.

Leeds had waited 16 long years to perform on the biggest stage again and were determined to enjoy their return to the big time.

The fact it came at the home of the best team in the land didn't seem to bother them a jot.

Klopp's men were unbeaten in a club record 59 Premier League games at Anfield – a run stretching back to 2017.

This proud record appeared to be under little threat when the home side took the lead inside four minutes when Mo Salah converted from the spot after Robin Koch, making his Leeds debut, handled in the box.

But Leeds were undaunted and equalised not once, but three times in a game that produced seven goals and drama galore.

Jack Harrison's leveller on 22 minutes was a thing of beauty, as he made mugs of England internationals Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez before drilling a low shot past the helpless Alisson in front of the Kop.

Had it been packed to the rafters, even the Liverpool faithful would have appreciated the virtuoso goal.

When Leeds won promotion from the Championship, bullish managing director Angus Kinnear insisted his team would not show too much respect to their rivals and would take on the challenge with relish.

He wasn't kidding. Leeds didn't arrive on Merseyside just to make up the numbers, they wanted to create some of their own and scoring three times and edging possession was a stunning achievement.

Leeds were fearless in the Championship, hunting in packs with a high press and attacking with vigour. They were fluid, intense and mesmerising.

Not much seems to have changed, because someone like Bielsa is not for changing. In the end it was a hat-trick from an inspired Mo Salah that won this game, but it will be Leeds who won the hearts of the neutrals.

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For long spells Bielsa's men gave their hosts a taste of their own medicine, harassing them into losing possession before hitting them on the counter with conviction and speed.

Klopp might disagree, but it was terrific to watch and suggests that if Leeds can stand toe-to-toe trading blows with the champions, lesser sides might find themselves on the canvas in the coming months.

He might be a mystical figure in the eyes of supporters, but this doesn't stop Bielsa from mixing with them when he strolls to training or the supermarket from his modest terrace house in Wetherby.

Like those on Merseyside, the 65-year-old will never walk alone while he continues to sprinkle his mixture of magic and madness on a club that spent so long in the doldrums.

In the space of a few years in the Noughties Leeds went from facing Barcelona to Bury in League One. Supporters presumed their club would be back, but it never happened. Then Bielsa arrived in 2018 and everything changed.

He woke up the sleeping giants – and the rest of the top flight had better look out.

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