Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Why Marcelo Bielsa Is Winning Off The Pitch As Well As On It At Leeds United

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Ayush Chaurasia
Sports Management Graduate. Wannabe sports manager/writer and researcher. If not found disscussing about sports, will be seen talking about movies or tv shows. Miserable rest of the times.

Marcelo Bielsa has been known as a revolutionary manager, but he never achieved a substantial level of success. History is not going to remember him for his trophies, but for the tactical advancements he brought to the game of football. However, he often has not shared the best of relationships with the club officials and players in the past, and that has been one of the reasons for his downfall in recent times.

The Argentine is quite rigid in his approach and doesn’t want any lackadaisical behaviour from his players or the people he is working with. His stint with Lazio lasted just a few days as he alleged that the club broke specific promises which made him sign for the club. At Lille, he lasted for thirteen games and was sacked. The reason for it? There was unhappiness among the players as when he joined the club, he wanted as many as 11 players (most of them experienced) out of the club and wanted to work more with the youth players.

It is clear that the veteran is not a man of compromise and we saw the taste of that when he took off Kalvin Phillips half an hour into the game against Swansea City. Now a move like that wouldn’t have gone down well with any player and his confidence would have taken a beating.

However, one cannot fault the manager for bringing him off as he was booked early on and failed to make any successful tackles playing in the defensive midfield position. The 22-year-old managed just nine passes during his time on the pitch, and many would have thought that the young midfielder would be dropped in the next few games. However, that wasn’t the case, and the manager started with him at Carrow Road against Norwich. When asked about the decision before the game the gaffer said,”The player makes mistakes and I make mistakes too. We have to be tolerant when people make mistakes.”

It is clear that as long as all the players devote themselves to him, Bielsa is happy to work with them. It was a great gesture to come out and openly state that the manager needs to be tolerant of his players when they make mistakes sometimes. Later after the game against Norwich, he singled out Phillips to praise him for his performance. He was quoted as saying,”The performances of Phillips and Alioski were among the best ones.”

The praises were not only limited to them as he went out of his way to portray the importance of Pablo Hernandez in this current setup. He said, “He is one of the best players in his position I have worked with in my career.” Mind you he has coached the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Dimitri Payet and Maxi Rodriguez in those positions. Bielsa doesn’t seem like a man who would praise someone and not mean it so those are certainly some big words.

He further added,”I think he is the player in our team who has had the biggest influence in our games so far. There is a great lucidity about his play – he always seems to instinctively know what to do for the needs of the team – and he can influence the game at the front, middle and the back.”

All these public praises will resonate well with the players, and it will keep them in the right mood. Bielsa is often known to be a hard taskmaster as he always wants more than hundred per cent of his players even in the training sessions. The players had to work from 9 AM to 7 PM in the preseasons, and even a little bit of drop in intensity would make the manager miffed. Thus, it is good to see the manager going out of his way to recognise the effort put in by the players after good displays.

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