The exclusive behind-the-scenes story of the Marcelo Bielsa revolution at Leeds United and their first season back in the Premier League after sixteen years of hurt.
When Marcelo Bielsa was appointed head coach of Leeds United in the summer of 2018, the club had just finished 13th in the Championship - their 15th consecutive season outside the top flight - and were defined as much by their excesses and disasters off the pitch as their lack of success on it. Bielsa changed everything.
In guiding Leeds back to the promised land of the Premier League, he has transformed the club into a vastly more dynamic, entertaining and professional outfit, fully endearing himself to the Leeds faithful and capturing the imaginations of football fans around the world. With his unique tactical approach, strict diet and body fat controls and a gruelling training schedule - including his infamous 'murderball' sessions - Bielsa has shaped a gang of Championship misfits and journeymen into a team that plays breathtakingly relentless attacking football and is more than capable of going toe-to-toe with the game's established heavyweights.
In And it was Beautiful, Phil Hay documents the fortunes of Leeds United under Marcelo Bielsa during their return to the Premier League for the 2020/21 season. By weaving in stories of crises from the club's purgatory in the English Football League, he presents a comprehensive and compelling portrait of an enigmatic manager whose values are the antithesis of everything that has previously gone wrong at Leeds during the dark days of Ken Bates, Massimo Cellino and GFH. The book will pull back the curtain on Bielsa's innovative tactical methods, his unconventional yet highly productive relationship with owner Andrea Radrizzani and Director of Football Victor Orta, his intensely loyal backroom team and the extraordinary cultural impact Bielsa has had on the city of Leeds - from murals and songs to cult fanbases in the provinces of Argentina. The result is a unique and beautiful love affair that has made dreams come true.
Phil Hay grew up in Penicuik in Scotland and left to study journalism at the University of Sheffield in 1998. He joined the Press Association as a football writer in 2001 and moved onto the Yorkshire Evening Post in 2004, where he became chief football writer in 2006. He held that post for 13 years before leaving to become The Athletic's Leeds United writer in 2019, where he also hosts The Phil Hay Show weekly podcast. He is a Heart of Midlothian supporter and a football obsessive, which has been the case since he was a young boy. You can find Phil discussing all things Leeds on Twitter: @PhilHay_