Marcelo Bielsa: Who Exactly is Leeds’ New Manager?

Marcelo Bielsa
HULL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 02: Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa during the Sky Bet Championship match between Hull City and Leeds United at KCOM Stadium on October 2, 2018 in Hull, England. (Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images)

Leeds United fans have faced year after year of disappointment since the club’s relegation from the Premier League in 2004. The Whites were both a British and European powerhouse in recent decades, winning the First Division in the 1991/92 season, the FA Cup in 1993 and 1997, and reaching the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League in the 2001/02 campaign. Around this time the Yorkshire side had always been competing for a top-four spot, along with some of today’s greats including Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea. So where did it all go wrong?

Marcelo Bielsa: Who Exactly is Leeds’ New Manager?

Fall of Leeds United

Well, like many other clubs across Britain, Leeds United started to hit some finical bother during the early 2000s. This forced them to sell some of their best players including Rio Ferdinand and Robbie Fowler. Eventually, with financial matters not improving, Leeds United were relegated to English’s second tier – the Championship, following a 19th place finish in the 2003/04 season.

However, this was only the beginning of the clubs’ troubles. Failure to return to the Premier League in the following 13 seasons, a long list of unsuccessful managers, and even spending three seasons in the tier below – League One.

Who is Marcelo Bielsa?

Leeds sacked Paul Heckingbottom as head coach, after a poor and short four months at Elland Road, and it was expected that they would appoint another manager who would fail to impress the United faithful. But that wasn’t the case, and in June 2018, Leeds United appointed exciting Argentinian manager Marcelo Bielsa. But who exactly is he, and why are Leeds fans so excited about this?

Bielsa, nicknamed ‘El Loco’, began his managerial career with Argentinian club Newell’s Old Boys. He won two trophies with them and has since managed numerous clubs in his native Argentina and Spain. From then, he has taken charge of both the Argentina and Chile national team, for a combined nine years, and since 2011, the Argentine has managed the likes of Athletic Bilbao, Marseille, Lazio and Lille.

But if you look at Biesla’s honours as a manager, he hasn’t got much to boast about. In fact, he hasn’t won any sort of silverware in Europe, despite stints with five clubs in the continent, with most being with teams that push for Europa League and sometimes Champions League spots.

What Gives Him the Prestigious Name?

It’s the 63-year-old’s philosophy, and what he offers as a manager, that gives him such a big name and reputation. Some current greats like Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola, who is well renowned himself for his success as a manager, has described Bielsa as one of the best in the world. Marcelo gave Tottenham Hotspur gaffer Maurizio Pochettino his big chance at Newell’s Old Boys, reportedly going into Pochettino’s home when he was 13-years-old to measure his legs while he was sleeping! The Spurs boss describes him as a second father and that this is a great appointment for Leeds.

So why has he not hit the heights expected with the clubs he has been in charge of in Europe? Well, ‘El Loco’ is notoriously known for going to extreme lengths.For example, in 2015 he walked out in August after a year with Marseille after a falling out with the board. A year later, he astonishingly left Lazio after just two days at the club, with his transfer requirements not willing to be met.

Are the Fans Happy?

His reputation of leaving clubs hasn’t stopped Leeds fans getting excited about Marcelo’s arrival. The return to the promised land, the Premier League, is now starting to look not so far away for the club. Before his appointment, he watched every minute of Leeds United from last season, and not long after his first training session, he reportedly made the players pick up litter for three hours. This was so they would appreciate just how much the fans work to watch the team.

So Bielsa’s arrival is very exciting for both Leeds and English football itself. Sitting fourth in the Championship at the moment, just two points from the top, we could be seeing Leeds’ long-anticipated return to England’s top flight.

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