In all the chaos that surrounded Leeds United and the end of the 2018/19 campaign it is easy to forget just how wonderful Marcelo Bielsa was for the Elland Road club. The Whites played a slick brand of attacking football with a trimmed squad, which relied heavily on the club’s talented academy.
Leeds finished the season with Kalvin Phillips, Jamie Shackleton, Jack Clarke, Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Pascal Struijk, Robbie Gotts and Mateusz Bogusz all involved in their play-off squad, and that was a regular theme over the year, with Bielsa forced to turn to youngsters to combat a relentless injury list.
One of those academy stars not involved for the Whites over the season was Mallik Wilks, who was involved in a mass exodus 12 months ago, as Bielsa found the young forward a loan spell at Doncaster Rovers.
There, under the guidance of Grant McCann, Wilks introduced himself to the Football League in emphatic style as Doncaster stormed into the League One play-offs.
Of course, Rovers didn’t come out on top in the end of season lottery, nor did they reach Wembley, but the work of McCann earned him a move to Hull City, as the rookie boss embarks on the Championship alone.
However, according to the Yorkshire Post, he wants a reunion with Wilks at the KCOM Stadium, with McCann keen to reunite with the forward who had 28 goal involvements in all competitions in the red and white of Doncaster.
It’s clear why McCann wants to reunite with Wilks, and if his Elland Road chance isn’t coming, the 20-year-old is likely to jump at the chance to work under the 39-year-old once again.
Wilks is a player capable of playing right across the frontline, but McCann found his natural position on the left of a front three, with the youngster cut free and able to express himself in the third-tier.
And, you wouldn’t bet against McCann doing that in the second-tier if Wilks makes a move to Hull. The forward is lightening quick and has an eye for goal, but his slight frame is misleading, he’s also powerful and able to handle the physical side of the game.
With Jack Clarke back at Leeds for another 12 months after completing his Tottenham move, there’s not much need for Wilks at Elland Road, with Bielsa now looking blessed with wide options heading into the business end of pre-season. But the Whites will acknowledge that McCann has gone a long way in moulding Clarke’s replacement in Wilks.
Turning to youth again in the form of Clarke will be something Marcelo Bielsa does in 2019/20, but that hinders Wilks’ chance of making the cut. His departure will divide some after his impressive 12 months, but the player himself will get his head down, and if he’s working under McCann, he’ll be confident of making a splash in the Championship.