Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa’s position as a near-mythical managerial legend is well known. Some of the best football managers have often praised Bielsa’s tactics and philosophy, suggesting he has inspired them in their own success.
The likes of Mauricio Pochettino, Jorge Sampaoli and, perhaps most significantly, Pep Guardiola are all card-carrying members of the ‘El Loco’ fan club.
Plenty of players also owe a lot to Bielsa, including Bayern Munich star Javi Martinez.
Bielsa turned the playmaking midfielder into a controlling deep-lying central midfielder who can also play at centre-back during their time together at Athletic Bilbao. It was a versatility that attracted Bayern Munich to the Basque star, bringing the 18-cap international to the Allianz Arena in 2012 for a then Bundesliga record £31.6 million (The Telegraph).
A year later, Martinez was joined by Guardiola in Bavaria and the player has discussed Guardiola’s intrigue in the current Leeds United boss with Goal this week.
“When I was training under Pep, he came to me again and again and asked me about my time with Bielsa.
“He wanted to know how Bielsa trained, how he dealt with players – but this respect is mutual.
“Pep admires Bielsa. Bielsa admires Pep.”
There is no doubting just how influential Bielsa has been to many in world football. Comments like this come at a timely moment, as plenty begin to doubt Bielsa’s ability to take Leeds United back to the Premier League.
Leeds United fans will just hope that he can prove his current doubters wrong by securing that elusive promotion back to the top-flight this season.