Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Football

5 things you may not know about new Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa.

‘El Loco’ has had a colourful coaching career in Europe and South America.

Former Argentina and Chile coach Marcelo Bielsa has been appointed the new manager of Leeds.

Here, Press Association Sport’s Phil Blanche looks at the career and idiosyncrasies of the man they call ‘El Loco’.

Pitch perfect

Bielsa is known to check pitch measurements before matches. He waits upon deciding on a particular formation until he paces out the pitch. Bielsa’s unorthodox approach also stretches to almost obsessive use of videos – editing and analysing for each player – and allocating separate training times for different parts of his squad, with the defenders, midfielders and strikers working alone.

Pep talk

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is a huge admirer of Marcelo Bielsa. (Martin Rickett/PA)

Bielsa has no shortage of football disciples but perhaps his greatest supporter is Pep Guardiola. The Manchester City manager travelled to Argentina for a meeting with Bielsa in 2006 prior to taking charge of Barcelona. “My admiration for Bielsa is immense,” Guardiola reportedly said. “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.”

Trademark tactics

If Bielsa follows his principles expect Leeds to line up in his trademark 3-3-1-3 formation. It is a system which has flummoxed many an opponent and is based on aggressive pressing of the ball and intelligent positioning both in defence and attack. Bielsa also likes to employ a 4-2-3-1 system and demands a huge work rate, which can sometimes put him at odds with his players.

Lazio U-turn

Marcelo Bielsa makes huge demands on his players. (Nigel French/Empics)

Bielsa spent two days in charge of Lazio in 2016. He was appointed manager of the Serie A club on July 6, but quit just 48 hours later complaining that the club had failed to recruit the players he required. Lazio issued legal action against Bielsa for breach of contract, suing him for 50 million Euros, before the coach resurfaced at French club Lille just over a year later.

French leave

Bielsa’s last job at Lille was a short-lived affair. He signed a two-year contract last summer but was suspended in November with Lille second bottom of Ligue 1. It was reported that Bielsa went on an unauthorised trip to Chile to visit former national team assistant Luis Bonini, who was battling stomach cancer. He was eventually replaced in December by Christophe Galtier.

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph