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Leeds United fans joked Marcelo Bielsa must have been laying off the Yorkshire puddings since leaving Elland Road after images emerged of the notoriously portly Argentinian looking rather slim.
The 66-year-old has spoken out for the first time since leaving the club back in February as he closes in on a return to management with La Liga outfit Athletic Club – commonly known as Athletic Bilbao – who are set to hold presidential elections this week.
One of the candidates, Inaki Arechabaleta, has promised to appoint Bielsa as head coach if he wins the election. As part of the process prospective managers had to make public presentations to the board – and fans could barely believe their eyes when a skinny-looking Bielsa emerged for his.
"Man been eating all the Yorkshire puddings and pies when he was in Leeds," one fan wrote on Instagram.
"Bielsa looks proper weird without his belly," another tweeted, while a third commented: "No more stress eating now that he's left Leeds haha."
Others were a little more concerned for his health, with one tweeting: "Before you make jokes, think. You never know what the cause of the weight loss is," while another said: "Hope he's OK, looks a little unwell."
During his presentation, Bielsa boasted about the intensity with which his Leeds side played during his three-and-a-half stint in England, insisting the squad's lack of depth meant burnout during his final season in charge was inevitable.
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"I worked four years in my last club, Leeds," Bielsa said. "They sacked me in February because the team had quite a prolonged series of negative results but there are two important things here: one important thing and one very important thing.
"In the 20/21 season we were the team that ran the most in the Premier League and in Europe, in all of the values that are looked at … in all measurements related to intensity we were the team that ran the most.
"These physical performances of the whole season 20/21 were done with 16 players, 95 per cent of the minutes of the season was completed with 16 players. It was the team that used the least number of players."
Bielsa managed Athletic Club between 2011 and 2013, famously knocking Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United out of the Europa League in 2012. The veteran is still highly thought-of in the Basque region and will almost certainly return a hero if he gets the job.
Stints at Marseille, Lazio and Lille followed until Bielsa made the surprising decision to join Championship side Leeds in 2018. He led them to promotion in just his second season in charge, and secured a top-half finish in the Premier League the year after.
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