What Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa once told David Sullivan gave West Ham 18 unforgettable months that fans will always cherish.
The man in the opposite dugout to David Moyes at the London Stadium for today’s FA Cup clash with Leeds could quite easily have been taking charge of West Ham instead.
Bielsa has been a revelation for Leeds, leading them back into the top flight after their long absence and introducing a style of football that is completely unique across Europe.
When Slaven Bilic was appointed West Ham manager following the departure of Sam Allardyce back in 2015, he was not the only man in the running.
Co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold were torn between the Croatian and then Marseille boss Marcelo Bielsa, as reported by Sky Sports at the time.
Sullivan and Gold elected not to appoint now Leeds boss Bielsa and went with Bilic. The rest, as they say, is history.
What Marcelo Bielsa told David Sullivan gave West Ham 18 unforgettable months
Bielsa ended up at Leeds a couple of years later.
And he led them back to the Premier League where they have entertained implementing the Argentine’s swashbuckling high energy style of play which leads to plenty of goals – at both ends.
But something Bielsa told majority stakeholder Sullivan in that West Ham interview gave Hammers fans 18 unforgettable months.
Because when Sullivan asked Bielsa if there were any players he would want to bring with him to West Ham should he be appointed, the Leeds boss named one. His name was Dimitri Payet.
Sullivan once told The Mail that the unconventional Leeds boss played a huge role in convincing the club to sign Payet.
It shows how close Bielsa came to landing the Hammers hotseat that the club had even discussed potential signings with the Argentine.
Sullivan said: “We were talking to the then Marseille manager Marcelo Bielsa about coming to West Ham and we said: ‘Who is the one player you would bring?’ He said Payet.”
Sullivan explained that at that point Payet was already on West Ham’s radar, but Bielsa’s declaration only served to confirm their view that he was an essential buy.
And so it proved as the French magician inspired West Ham during 18 unforgettable months before going AWOL to force a return to France.
They say time is a great healer, though.
And most rational West Ham fans will surely look back now at Payet’s time with the club with nothing but fond memories bar that gutting departure.
Payet’s goals, assists, skill and inspirational performances made the last season at the club’s beloved Boleyn Ground one to cherish forever.
West Ham fans have the man in the opposite dugout today to thank – in part at least – for that.