Rocco on El Loco


Rob Jones

Marcelo Bielsa vs The Premier League is another imperative read from the prolific pen of Rocco Dean. The author once again captures the core of what it is to feel the passion, pride and purpose of all things Leeds United FC. The book published by Pitch takes us through two seasons of the Elland Road club – which were mostly under the lead of Argentinian icon – Marcelo Bielsa.
The mercurial manager was a legend during his period in control of the Yorkshire club and the highs of getting the fallen giants back into the big time are explored. However, in true Leeds United fashion the tale is also coated with a fair degree of an almost omnipresent dismay that seems to come with the territory. *As I write this review another stab at an escape from the Championship falters with a series of shocking results. Leeds are falling apart, is a song for a reason….sadly!
Rocco captures what it means to be a devoted football fan and it may not necessarily be good for the health, family relationships, work commitments or ultimately on one’s time, energy or money. However, once you have fully bought into the round ball culture – there is no escape as this condition is all encompassing.
The author perfectly describes the pre, during and post-match sensations – whether up or down. For Leeds United fans during the Bielsa era there was a level of commitment to the cause that became unchartered. Marcelo was a deity in his time at ‘The Whites’ and win, draw or lose his reputation as a regal force simply could not be besmirched by his public. From a route out of the Championship after 16 long years of suffering to a ninth-place finish in the Premier League the man dubbed ‘El Loco’ was put on to the pedestal of all pedestals by the Leeds hard core. Even in the tough times when goals were flying in at the wrong end the boss was still idolised by the fans but his employers decided a path to survival had to be taken with another leader. Dean takes us through a first season upper tier elevation to a second campaign fight against relegation and the swap over from the fancied South American to an unfancied American. Bielsa was a cult hero and his replacement in the form of the prince of psychobabble – Jesse Marsch – did not cut the mustard with the masses.
All of the above came during a pandemic period when the fans could not sample the delight of a great campaign. Then their return was met with dismay and despair and a contorted delight with a last day reprieve as Brentford were defeated and LUFC remained as a Premier League force (sadly, if only for another year – and 12 months of the ultimate Leeds chaos and calamity was to follow!).
However, the feelings of the writer as a sentiment of the masses are never better represented than after a major win against Spurs in May 2021. A statement reads: ‘What a collective performance this was, what a unit Marcelo Bielsa has created and what a perfect embodiment of club and place. Through innovation he has restored Leeds to themselves; ferocious, in your face, don’t give a toss, nothing else matters. And above all else really bloody good’.
Thank you, Rocco, for another great read and for also sharing your writing experiences with the RCT children’s non-profit reading and well-being project World of Words i.e.
Rocco has kindly spoken to local youngsters on several occasions and the time he has given up free of charge has helped a juvenile audience understand that loving football can mean playing the game, watching it and also getting an immense amount of joy writing about a passion. World of Words fundraises to assist valleys youth develop their confidence and self esteem and if you can help this worthwhile cause please email
However, please delve into the realms of Rocco because if you are an aficionado of the beautiful game – Mr. Dean perfectly captures the emotions of this state of mind.