Marcelo Bielsa has today been announced as the new Leeds United Head Coach. He replaces Paul Heckingbottom, who was sacked after an underwhelming four-month spell.
Leeds Announce Marcelo Bielsa As New Head Coach
Bielsa, known as ‘Loco Bielsa’ (Madman Bielsa), is an icon in Chile, after a four-year spell as national team manager following time in charge of his native Argentina. He gained huge popularity after guiding Chile to the last-16 of the 2010 World Cup. Furthermore, he led his team to impressive qualifying victories against Argentina and Colombia. Bielsa is widely recognised as the leader of a transformation in Chilean football; his departure in 2011 was met with fan protests.
His club career since leaving Chile has been less successful. He initially achieved success at Athletic Bilbao, guiding them to the Europa League final after knocking out Manchester United. His second season was a disappointment, however, with his contract not renewed after a 12th place league finish.
He also endured short stints in Ligue 1 with Marseille and most recently Lille, where he lasted just seven months before being dismissed. Even shorter lasting was his two-day spell at Lazio, where he resigned due to frustration at lack of transfer backing.
This seems to be a consistent theme in Bielsa’s club management. At Lille, he fell out with owner Gerard Lopez over transfer policy and his own lack of control. This could be a concern, given Leeds’ recent history of giving managers a short leash.
Bielsa, regarded as a football fanatic, throws himself behind his work completely. He spends vast amounts of time studying film and expects the same levels of commitment from his players. Pep Guardiola referred to Bielsa as his ‘tactical inspiration’ and the similarities in style are clear. Bielsa favours a high tempo, possession style approach with an emphasis on attacking. He is tactically flexible, often changing formation match-to-match to adapt to the opposition.
After a disappointing 2017/18 season, Leeds were in need of a change to inspire a promotion campaign. Fans will certainly enjoy his passionate touchline presence and he has the pedigree to succeed. The main barrier to his success could well be his own need for control.