Why Barcelona would be a terrible fit for Marcelo Bielsa TSS August 16, 2020 Leeds United 3 Comments ‘Més que un club’ is as true today as it was when Barcelona arranged yellow seats amongst a sea of blue to proudly display their club motto in the middle tiered seating of one of world football’s most iconic stadiums. Translated into English, ‘more than a club’ might sound a little arrogant but in Barcelona’s case, it’s well justified. Unquestionably one of the greatest clubs in world football, Barcelona are a team every player dreams of playing for and every manager would jump at the chance to manage, so when the press start to suggest your club’s manager is on their shortlist, it doesn’t matter what club you support, he’s already dreaming of leading a team out of Camp Nou’s tunnel, into the Spanish sunlight as a sea of 100,000 fans create a vibrant, carnival-like atmosphere. It’s the greatest stage on earth to play football and it’s surrounded by one of the most vibrant and exciting cities you could ever wish to call home. And I should know, I lived there for a couple of years and still think about how lucky I was to have had that experience all the time. I still go back at every opportunity, it’s a city I just can’t get enough of. But there’s one man who will definitely have seen enough. Quique Setién, Barcelona’s current manager and presumably public enemy number one following their Champions League humbling against Bayern Munich. Any defeat for a Barcelona manager comes with criticism from all angles, but 8-2 is a previously unthinkable humiliation there’s simply no coming back from. It shouldn’t happen, not to Barcelona. There’ll be a new manager in place at Camp Nou before the 2020/21 season kicks off, there’s no doubt about that. Setién will be sacrificed to appease the masses and a fresh face will get to live out the dream of managing the Spanish giant. But it won’t be Marcelo Biesla. There’s plenty of reasons it makes sense for Barcelona to approach El Loco, starting with the most obvious – he’s a world class manager who as I write this, hasn’t signed a new contract with Leeds United. He speaks Spanish, improves players, plays exciting football that’ll be easy to sell to the hordes of Barcelona fans and in theory, gives them a great chance of returning to the top of the elite club rankings. Anyone who thinks it’ll actually happen however, simply doesn’t understand his success at Leeds. There’s a reason that despite being heralded as the world’s greatest coach and a genius by some of football’s biggest names, including Pep Guardiola, Bielsa hasn’t been able to emulate his success and it’s nothing to do with opportunity and chance. For Bielsa’s methods to work, a club has to be able to cede control of the football operation at all levels, disregard any style of play they thought was representative of their “brand” and fully embrace Bielsa’s methods. All of which was possible at Leeds United, it’s not at Barcelona. You see, Barcelona is an absolute juggernaut. It’s as much a football factory as it is a club, an enormous operation with thousands of people involved, all of whom simply can’t be directed by one man. In that respect, Leeds was something of a Goldilocks club for Marcelo – big enough that he could achieve success and keep pushing upwards, but not so big that he has to convince dozens of people every time he wants to make the slightest course correction. Barcelona would be an exercise in frustration for someone like Bielsa who’s so obsessed with the finer details and having everything just so. The Leeds United Bielsa took on was a nimble speedboat, capable of hurtling in any direction he pointed it at pace. Barcelona is more of an aircraft carrier positioned pretty much where it’s always been. You can add a few fighter jets and a fresh coat of paint, but try to set it on an entirely new course without convincing dozens of other people first and you might as well be trying to move Camp Nou to Madrid. It’d drive the crazy one, erm… crazy… From the immense training facility where Messi was raised from the age of 13 to become the greatest player in the world, right through to the boardroom in which Josep Maria Bartomeu sits, Barcelona already knows exactly what it is, what it expects to be and what it always will be. To go in and expect to take absolute control of the club, change their entire football philosophy and have everyone else fall into line simply isn’t achievable at Barcelona. There’s dozens of highly influential voices who have to be appeased, starting with the players. Such is the nature of Barcelona’s ownership, it’s as much a battle of politics as it is football. Every football manager’s position is precarious, but If Lionel Messi isn’t happy with regular murderball sessions and voices it publicly, expect fireworks. In theory, the most powerful man at Barcelona is their president Josep Maria Bartomeu, but in reality, he’s an elected leader who has to keep fans, the press and big-name players on-side and the easiest way to do that, tends to be by deflecting blame towards the manager. Some managers play the politics of Barcelona better than their president does, but does that really sound like something Bielsa would enjoy? Barcelona will be hurting right now and the public inquiry will be brutal. They will appoint a new manager in the coming days and will have their pick of the world’s elite when it comes time to make that decision, because they really are ‘more than a club’ but they’ll never be a club able to satisfy and adapt to Marcelo Bielsa’s ways. It’d be an extraordinarily bad fit.