Leeds United have appointed former Argentina, Chile and Athletic Bilbao boss Marcelo Bielsa as their new manager and you have to say that’s magnificent.
Whether his Leeds story ends in the Premier League, League One, or sometime next week – and all three look equally plausible at this giddy and exciting moment – it is sure to be entertaining.
This is a manager who has apparently learned to study two matches simultaneously, while his press conferences can run to three or four hours due to his commitment to answering, often in minute detail, every last question asked of him.
Ultimately, Bielsa’s legacy may be the huge influence he has had on others rather than his own success as a coach, but my word this is a bold and exciting appointment for a Championship club.
To get you in the mood for what is about to hit English football, here’s the great man in his own words and those of some pretty high-profile “disciples”…
Bielsa on Bielsa
“A man with new ideas is a madman, until his ideas triumph.”
“I am obsessive about attack. When I watch videos, it’s for attacking, not for defending. My football, in defence, is very simple: we run all the time. I know that it’s easier to defend than create. To run, for example, is a decision of the will. To create you need an indispensable amount of talent.”
“Attacking football is the simplest way to victory and success. In Argentina, we are aware of this, which is why we play open, attacking football.”
“I spent 16 years of my life listening to them: eight to (Cesar Luis) Menotti, a coach who prioritizes inspiration, and eight to (Carlos) Bilardo, a coach who prioritizes functionality. I tried to take the best from each.”
“Football rests on four fundamentals, as outlined by (Oscar) Tabárez: one, defence; two, attack; three, how you move from defence to attack; four, how you move from attack to defense. The issue is trying to make those passages as smooth as possible.”
“The possible is already done. We are doing the impossible.”
“While the opponent has the ball, the whole team presses, always trying to cut off the play as close as possible to the opponent’s goal; when we get it we look to play with dynamism and create the spaces for improvisation.”
“If players weren’t human, I’d never lose.”
Others on Bielsa
“My admiration for Bielsa is immense. I have never met a player who has worked with Bielsa and has spoken badly of him. For me he is the best coach in the world.” Pep Guardiola
“He is like my football father. We are a generation of coaches who were his disciples. How he feels football, the passion he has for football, I think we all took that from him.” Mauricio Pochettino
“Bielsa taught me the most.” Diego Simeone
“At first he seems tough and he may even annoy you with his persistence and don’t-take-no-for-an-answer resilience, but in the end he is a genius.” Fernando Llorente
“For me what Bielsa has done (at Athletic Bilbao) is worthier than what Simeone has. Marcelo made a team out of nothing.” Diego Maradona
“It’s always nice when people compare you to someone you admire. You can even get many years of work out of it. There are 19 teams that want Bielsa, and they can’t all get him so they call someone else. It’s something that works in my favour.” Gerardo Martino
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