Paul Heckingbottom was dismissed as Leeds United manager on Friday after failing to make any kind of positive impact in his four months in charge.

While the players have always spoken positively about Heckingbottom as a coach, their fondness for the former Barnsley coach never translated to results on the pitch and in football, that’s the only thing that matters.

Truth be told, Heckingbottom was an odd choice to begin with. After parting ways with Thomas Christiansen, who’d suffered a difficult run of results – heavily contributed to by a bout of injuries and suspensions – Leeds turned to the manager with the poorest record in the league to salvage something from a season that had started extremely well. His arrival was a muted one, met by a mixed reaction from Leeds supporters who’d hoped for someone with a higher profile. That Heckingbottom had no impact on Leeds’ form didn’t really surprise, he’d always felt like an odd punt – and an expensive one, with Leeds forced to buy out his Barnsley contract at a cost of £500k.

His replacement hasn’t yet been confirmed, but an astonishing name has emerged as the frontrunner.

The agent of Marcelo Bielsa, who Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino describe as the “best coach in the world” has confirmed the Argentinian is in talks with the club. Bielsa has managed the Argentinian and Chilean national sides, along with Athletic Bilbao, Marseille and most recently, Lille. He’s also managed at top flight in his home land, winning the first division 3 times. At Bilbao, Bielsa’s side finished runners up in the Copa Del Rey and Europa League, while at international level, Bielsa won Olympic Gold with Argentina.

‘The Madman’ as he’s known in his homeland is famed for his unorthodox formations and for being an obsessive student of the game. Bielsa likes to operate a 3-3-1-3 formation, playing a similarly high-pressing, high-tempo style to what Klopp has introduced at Anfield.

Bielsa watches hours of video on his team and opposition and prepares lengthy videos for his players to study their own game and that of the opposition. That won’t be the only adjustment for the Leeds United squad though, Bielsa has also been known to train the squad separately, at different times and in smaller groups based on field positions. Fernando Llorente, who played under Bielsa at Athletic Bilbao described the experience as initially annoying, with the Madman’s “persistence” understandably tiring, but quickly got on-board with his methods, describing him as “a genius”.

Quite how Bielsa’s methods and experience will translate to the English Championship is difficult to predict, but at a club prone to wild punts when appointing a manager, Bielsa is as high-profile as they’re ever likely to come and one I’m happy to get onboard with.

10 Responses

  1. Yi

    Come on guys! Bielsa is Argentina National Manager with great record and he will take us to premier league if Andrea give him sufficient financial support, he will lead us and we will be invincible MOT!

  2. Shaun

    Seems a bit of a ” live wire” by all accounts. Resigned after a couple of games for one team.
    Would definitely keep the Leeds United circus going..

  3. Irving08

    This is no ordinary coach – someone who broke with family tradition by going into football rather than politics or law, knows his own mind and has an extremely impressive footballing cv. Wonder why a big Spanish or European club (were Marseile big when he was in charge ?) club has never gone for him ? I suspect, he does not suffer fools gladly, which could be the reason. Interesting times in store if he gets the job – but tension too.

    • mrbigwheels

      20 + new players needed then Irving.
      Hopefully with some Brains and a bit of clever brawn.

  4. Chareose

    Worth a go when you weigh up his record and rep against the risk………..

    However we also needed a good summer with transfers both in and out…..where does this leave that ? will we drop attempts to sign Bartley etc ?

    Its a valid question because when you read up about Bielsa you have to question whether there are many players we have other than Saiz or Hernandez that could fit into it ?

  5. Irving 08

    My previous post contained an implicit reservation about Bielsa; further reflection has reinforced this reservation and added others. Not suffering fools can be an attribute, for it suggests a decisive character. But it can also be a defect in as much as it suggests impatience and even abrasiveness. Do we need these characteristics in our next Manager ? I am not sure. One thing we do need is a strong commitment to success. Does someone like Bielsa need this job enough to drive himself and the players to the Premiership ? Will he stick with things when they don’t go quite as he likes ? Has he already ‘been there and done it’ and thus less likely to have the burning ambition to succeed ? Again I am not sure.

  6. xavier

    Bielsa is a perfect match for the Leeds adventure. He needs support in player acquisition to propel Leeds back to the premier league

    • Irving 08

      We are not an adventure. We are a club that desperately needs promotion before the ageing fan base melts away. Bielsa is a coaching fantasist’s indulgence. He will throw his tugs out of the pram if he dies not get what he wants (which he wouldn’t at Leeds because our owner does not have the money). People like Bielsa can be good national managers, but inadequate at club level. Footballers most of all need a sympathetic man that they can work with on a day to day basis. Bielsa is a fanatic who wil burn them out. Can you imagine him putting his arm around a player ? – I can’t. His mugshot says it all, really.


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