Although he has won comparatively little in his long career – a couple of Argentine league titles and an Olympics gold medal – Marcelo Bielsa, a man known as El Loco (The Crazy) is renowned amongst his fellow professionals as one of the greatest coaches in the world.
Bielsa is known for his dedication, obsession with the opposition, eye for detail and principles – he resigned from the Lazio job after just two days because the promised reinvestment in the squad had failed to materialise.
He is also known for the high demands that he makes on his players. One of the off-quoted reasons why his sides fail to win as much as they should is because they run out of legs over the course of a long season.
However, he has just helped steer Leeds back to the Premier League for the first time in 16 years, earning himself near hero status in certain parts of Yorkshire. An essentially modest man, despite earning a reputed £3 million a year, he lives in a modest flat in the town of Wetherby so he can walk to the Leeds; training ground, and is regularly photographed chatting to locals in coffee shops and supermarkets.
Here are some of the best footballer quotes about Marcelo Bielsa.
Pep Guardiola quotes on Marcelo Bielsa: “My admiration for Marcelo Bielsa is huge because he makes the players much, much better. Still I didn’t meet one guy, a former player from Marcelo Bielsa who speaks no good of him. They are grateful about his influence on their careers in football. He helped me a lot with his advice. Whenever I speak with him, I always feel like he wants to help me. He’s the best coach in the world.”
Alexis Sanchez quotes about Marcelo Bielsa: “I learned a lot from him, and it is because of him that I am who I am. What I remember the most about Bielsa was the mentality that he tries his players to have.”
Mauricio Pochettino: “For me, he’s a person I will always admire. He’s a genius. A person with charisma and a personality very different from us normal coaches, and that’s what makes him special.”
Javi Martinez: “There are days when he doesn’t leave the training ground until the small hours. It is insane”.
Pep Guardiola on Marcelo Bielsa: “To be loved is this biggest title, bigger than the Champions League or Premier League or whatever. To be loved is the most important thing and I think Marcelo has that more than any other manager in the world.”
Johan Cruyff (talking after the 2010 World Cup when Bielsa was in charge of Chile: “Marcelo Bielsa’s Chile played the most attractive football in this World Cup.”
Diego Maradona about Marcelo Bielsa: “For me what Bielsa has done is worthier than what Simeone has. Marcelo made a team out of nothing.”
Fernando Llorente: “At first he seems tough and he may even annoy you with his persistence and don’t take -no-for-an-answer resilience, but in the end, he’s a genius.”
Tim Vickery: “When he took the Argentina job, at the end of his first training session Bielsa handed the players a pencil and a little slip of paper. He wanted them to write down whether they wanted to line up with a back three or a four. He went through all the replies. “Back four, back four, back four… This clearly shows your preference for a line of four. But I’m telling you that from now on we’re going to be playing with a back three. See you tomorrow.” And he won them over, bringing them round to his way of thinking.”
And here are some of Bielsa’s best quotes:
“A man with new ideas is a madman, until his ideas triumph”.
“While the opponent has the ball, the whole team presses, always trying to cut off the play as close as possible to the opponent’s goal; when we get it we look to play with dynamism and create the spaces from improvisation”.
“The possible is already done. We are doing the impossible”.
“I am obsessive about attack. When I watch videos, it’s for attacking, not for defending. My football, by definition, is very simple: we run all the time. I know that it’s easier to defend than create. To run, for example, is a decision of the will. To create you need an indispensable amount of talent”.
On sensationally leaving Lazio:
“My colleagues and I have taken this decision because, after four weeks of work, we did not get any of our seven transfer targets who were explicitly approved in our work plan approved by president Claudio Lotito,”
When joining Leeds:
“Maybe I could just give you a short summary of what an ideal footballer would represent. Mental strength. Sufficient ability on the ball. Being bright and intelligent enough to interpret different styles of play. Strong physicality and brave. A competitive spirit.”
“I know everything I could possibly know as a foreigner could possibly know and could have absorbed about Leeds United and what Leeds United means to supporters in this country.”
On his philosophy:
“I want people to take the game by the scruff of the neck, not be scared to get on the ball and play and spend time in possession of the ball and not spending time trying to win it back
After a win against West Brom in the Championship:
“I came to be part of a programme that has goals, and of course we are aware of the goals wanted by the city and the club. But I also can’t say that my only interest is winning. What also interests me is the way we build to the victory.”
After clinching the EFL Championship
“Of course, the trophy makes me happy, but I’ve worked in football for 30 years and one title doesn’t change a lot, the percentage of trophies I have.
What really makes me happy is the fact I did this project with this group of players across two years.”
Andy is an exiled English football fan living in Cyprus. He loves all sports but football is his abiding passion, and he still has dreams every now and then about scoring the winning goal in a Wembley Cup Final, even though his playing days are long gone. He follows most major leagues, across Europe at least, and has a favoured team in each. When he’s not watching, listening, reading or downloading podcasts about football, he spend his time worrying about his beloved Arsenal.