Marcelo Bielsa, the obsessional who makes Leeds dream

Marcelo Bielsa follows the games on a plastic stool which he says puts him at the right height to follow the players, like here in an FA Cup match against Arsenal on January 6, 2020, in London.

Pep Guardiola, the Spanish coach of Manchester City with an astounding track record, worships him: “I have never seen anyone so well prepared as him. “ His compatriot Mauricio Pochettino, the former Tottenham coach, nicknames him “His father in football”. The city of Leeds, whose team he leads are preparing to make, Saturday 12 September against Liverpool, his comeback in the Premier League (the English first division), practically deified him during his lifetime, renaming him to his name a street that leads to Trinity Mall.

In the world of football, Marcelo Bielsa has everything a guru. At 65, the Argentinian provokes everywhere he goes complete devotion – or sometimes absolute rejection. The older ones admire his integrity and his style. The South American technician prefers to work on training players rather than spending millions to buy them. He imposes a frantic pace on his teams so that they practice constant pressing and spin the ball at full speed.

Funny guru. In his black sweatpants, with his cocky, retired old uncle looks, he walks through the pretty little market town of Wetherby in general indifference. As usual, he returned on foot from Leeds United’s training center, located a forty-five minute walk in the countryside of Yorkshire, in the north of England.

An army of assistants and analysts

His destination, like every day: a little Costa cafe, where he has his habits. A kind word to the waitress, the small change paid as a tip and, armed with a café au lait and a chocolate muffin, he is plunged into his papers to study to the obsession his players and those of the teams opponents, whose matches he dissects in five-minute intervals.

He pulls us away from a nice half-lie when approached, claiming he does not speak English – he continues to hold his press conferences in Spanish, but his players say he speaks very reasonable English. And he goes back to his papers, grabbed by the statistics, dissecting the phases of the game.

Read also Football: accused of espionage, Marcelo Bielsa assumes and delivers a lecture

Marcelo Bielsa, whose annual salary of £ 6million (€ 6.7million) goes to pay an army of assistants and analysts, lives in a tiny two-room apartment above a store just outside next to the cafe, goes shopping at the local supermarket and usually ends his days in a charmless Italian restaurant two minutes away.

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