Before joining Leeds, the Argentine coached, amongst others, Argentina, Chile, Bilbao, Lille, Marseille and Lazio (2 days only…lol) with mixed results. His trophy cabinet may be a bit light but he is still considered as one of the most influential coach in the last 20 years. Guardiola and Pochetinno often referred to him as “The best coach in the world – but why is this the case?
A) Deep-dive research
Bielsa is maniac about scouting the opposition. So much so that when in his earlier coaching days and before the internet was widely available, he would ask his players to read at least 3 newspapers about the opposition…He asks his players to devour videos of themselves and the opposition. B.Mendy said that “Bielsa is too good” in letting the players get interested by themselves in watching the videos.
Some will recall the “little scandal” last year where he had some of his people spy on Lampard’s Derby training session. Bielsa later apologized for it. He is obsessed…
B) Thrilling and intensive football
Bielsa is basically the “Guru” of “pressing high up the pitch” football. He requires his players to play intensive football and hence his pre-season is usually very much based on building fitness levels of his players. He likes to play agressive, attacking and fun football that excites the players and the crowd. He also expects his players to suffer for each other and to help each other out on the pitch like a family in real life. At Lille, he had 20 bungalows built in pre-season next to the training grounds so that the players could live there to instil this “family bond” within the team.
C) Developing young players
Bielsa is also recognized for his ability to spot and develop talent. He went to Pochetinno’s parents house at 2AM and asked if he could see their son’s legs. After seeing them, he said that he would like to sign him up at Newell’s Old Boys (one of the biggest club in Argentina) because Poch “looked like he was a footballer”. At Lille, he put some experienced players and captains aside to give the ounger players a chance and same in Marseille.
His trophy cabinet is quite empty but he basically is the Guru of the football approach adopted by Guardiola, Klopp, Pochetinno and has been one of the pioneers for opposition analysis and youth development set-ups. He is very temperamental (left Lazio after 2 days, left Marseille after a year…) and he is definitely obsessed by details, he lives and breathes football. So is Bielsa “The Crazy One” or is he “The torch holder”…The jury is still out it seems but all of them agree that he has influenced modern football to a great extent…
So what is your take on this very interesting coach?