Crazy Boss for a Crazy Club. Leeds and Bielsa, a Match Made in Heaven… or Hell – by Rob Atkinson


Marcelo Leeds

Welcome to Leeds United, Marcelo Bielsa

The Marcelo Bielsa era at Leeds United has officially begun, with the man they call “el Loco” – the Madman – holding his inaugural press conference at Elland Road on Monday. Despite a reputation for lengthy press sessions, this was a brisk hour and twenty two minutes, with much of it taken up by the translation process. During that time, we all learned a fair bit about the new United boss. There were questions, answers, a few laughs and no grenades.

One thing that stood out was that, despite his evident dislike of false modesty, Bielsa is not short of humility. He batted back questions about Pep Guardiola regarding him as the best coach in the world, by hanging that accolade firmly around the Manchester City boss’s own neck. The overall picture was of a man who would not be settling for sound bites or stereotypes – a man indeed with his own philosophy and the determination to see that imprinted on his new situation.

When it came to brass tacks, the Argentinean revealed that he thought the Leeds United squad was top-heavy by maybe 15 players, whilst acknowledging that it needed strengthening in four or five areas. Although he stated that there wouldn’t be too many players coming in, and that he saw the youth element at the club as being a potentially useful resource, it still seems likely that there will be some significant player turnover in the near future – with outgoing players making up the bulk of that.

Overall, Bielsa’s debut day went well, and seemed to be well-received, certainly on social media. For this, we must thank the affable and efficient translator, who managed to convey not just the text of Marcelo’s utterances, but also nuance, light and shade. There was even some eye contact from Bielsa, a man notoriously not given to that – and, more remarkably still, the odd smile.

The only potential gaffe came when Bielsa was asked whether he preferred Don Revie or Brian Clough, and delivered a brief homily on his football philosophy, stating “In terms of winning the right way, I prefer to lose rather than cheat or play tricks. I prefer beautiful football rather than over-pragmatic football. Playing well brings you closer to winning things. I don’t think we can claim that playing badly is a way that achieves victory.”

That’s all well and good, but anyone working for the United cause needs to be wary of straying into heresy; sections of the press are all too ready to pounce gleefully on any apparent endorsement of the old myth that Cloughy was all good and the Don all bad. Perhaps a little while spent around LS11 will lead to a reassessment in this particular area. It was a distinctly left-field question, though and, so far, at least, nobody seems to be holding Bielsa’s slightly equivocal response against him.

If anything, this one uncertain moment summed up the abiding sense that here is an appointment that could as easily go extraordinarily wrong as it could sublimely right. In the here and now, nobody can predict which of those two extremes is the more likely – people are just settling for the near certainty that it won’t be anything in between. This union of crazy club with crazy man could indeed be a match made in heaven – or hell.

For the moment, then, it’s full ahead for the good ship Leeds with Captain Bielsa at the helm. May fair winds and calm waters see him safe to the destination we all wish so fervently to reach, there to prosper and maybe find some silver. The mission is clear, the rewards are great. And, while the voyage may be long or short, what we can most definitely predict is that it’s highly unlikely to be boring.

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9 responses to “Crazy Boss for a Crazy Club. Leeds and Bielsa, a Match Made in Heaven… or Hell – by Rob Atkinson

  1. steve Emsley

    Well following Mondays press conference it’s a new era in LUFC long history. Let’s all hope he has the passion for the club I think he has the experience and know how having read up on him. The thousands of fans all around the world all need to stand by this new man and the board and back them come what may, he will get it right but Rome was not built in a day he will need time. I just hope he gets it

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  2. I like the fact that he is talking about 4or5 new signings which is about right for are alleged budget of 20mil we should get some much needed quality which has been well overdue just hope ar sticks to his side of the bargain other wise it will be over before it begun

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  3. Paul Cranswick

    He is certainly correct in his assessment that we have quantity over quality in the squad at the moment. Including the youth element in central midfield we have:
    Forshaw, Vieira, O’Kane, Phillips, Ideguchi, Klich, Murphy, Bouy, Anita, Rey, Shaughnessy (possibly), Nicell, Kamwe, Shackleton, Machuca,
    Not really counting Saiz and Hernandez.

    We may see four or five more joining Gomes and Romario Vieira in leaving the club soon.

    He is clearly a thinker so let’s hope he can think clearly and get those thoughts across to the players.

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  4. Scally Lad

    He’s obviously going to need some time to accurately assess LUFC history, the English game and the Championship, but he seems willing to learn. At least, in him, we don’t have another Hockaday or Heckingbottom.

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  5. Agree 100% with your views

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  6. Reality Cheque

    Yes Rob, I must admit I gulped at his response to the Revie or Clough curve ball question. However, his assessment that 15 of the current squad will not get regular game time under him and we need strengthening in 4 or 5 positions is a bang on assessment shared by my fellow Leeds United supporterfriends and myself. On reflection, the fact that such a knowledgeable and respected football coach thinks we need a 20 player turn around is the biggest indictment of Victor Orta’s scouting team and supposed “detailed 200 page player dossiers” imaginable.

    Bielsa came across as a person who knows what he needs to do and how he will achieve it without any fanfare or blowing smoke up anyone’s ass. Lets just let the man get on with his job, (he’s got about 15 short conversations to have with players no longer in his plans), then a lot of work to improve the remaining group. Welcome to Leeds Marcelo

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  7. He seems to be very straight, which will be a nice change at press conferences.
    Nice weather for extra training sessions.
    Maybe some players will leave of their own accord after a week with the Boss?
    Castrating the whole squad so they can concentrate 100% on football, is a bit extreme but……

    MOT!

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  8. I think the media overstate the whole ‘crazy club’ bit (just another opportunity for them to slag off Leeds ).
    Plenty of clubs have had a high turnover of managers. Forest & Derby for example. Chelsea are one of the most successful clubs of the past 15 years and routinely sack their coaches.
    Sure mad stuff has happened to Leeds since relegation but consider the goings on at Cov, Cardiff, Hull, Blackburn,Charlton etc, etc. The only common thread seems to be not so much the clubs themselves but the ego crazed incompetence of their owners. ‘Crazy clubs’ are becoming the norm not the exception.
    Personally I’m looking forward to a season of quiet efficiency and effortless promotion courtesy of Senor Bielsa. MOT

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