Marcelo Bielsa Profile
|Born||Jul 21, 1955|
Current manager of Leeds United, Marcelo 'El Loco' Bielsa is revered throughout the world of soccer for his managerial style and is often a reference of inspiration from the world's greatest coaches.
Marcelo Bielsa is an Argentine soccer manager currently in charge of Premier League club Leeds United. Bielsa had an unspectacular career as a player, but is most famous for his managerial career, with his methods influencing many other high-profile coaches.
Bielsa is nicknamed 'El Loco' (the crazy one) and is known for being enigmatic in his mannerisms. However, he is widely respected for his sportsmanship and human values.
He led Leeds United to the 2019/20 Championship title, sealing their promotion to the Premier League for the first time in 16 years.
In charge of the Argentina National Team
After an impressive start to his managerial career, Bielsa was handed the reins of the Argentina national team in 1998.
They were eliminated from the quarter-finals of the 1999 Copa America and lost the final of the 2004 event to Brazil on penalties. In the 2002 World Cup, Argentina were notably poor and were eliminated in the group stages, finishing behind Sweden and England.
"After the elimination, something strange happened in that dressing room," said German Burgos, who was second-choice goalkeeper for Argentina, as per Marca.
"Marcelo, when a competition ends, whether at clubs or national teams, he has a final meeting in the dressing room.
"He always wanted to do a third half, like in rugby, but without soda and food.
"Just after the game with Sweden, he tried to have that meeting with the players, but he couldn't, he wanted to talk and started crying.
"I got up, went to hug him and the fitness coach [Luis Maria] Bonini and I left.
"That's it, the meeting did not take place, we were all so sad, as that was impossible.
"I was able to hug him, I recognised his honesty."
Nevertheless, Argentina did pick up some silverware during Bielsa's time in charge, winning the 2004 Olympics tournament. Subsequently, he resigned and was succeeded by Jose Pekerman.
"I have the influence of several coaches: Bielsa, Eriksson, Basile, they have all left a mark. Bielsa taught me the most," Simeone said of his erstwhile boss.
Marcelo Bielsa and Chile National Team
In 2007, Bielsa was placed in charge of the Chile national team.
Bielsa led Chile to the 2010 FIFA World Cup round of 16 in South Africa, becoming a hugely popular figure in the country along the way. However, he promised to resign if Jorge Segovia was elected president of the Chilean Football Board and did so in February 2011.
Time with Athletic Bilbao
Bielsa has been widely praised for his success while in charge of Athletic Bilbao, who he began coaching in 2011. The 2011/12 season saw the team reach the final of the UEFA Europa League, knocking out Manchester United along the way, and the Copa del Rey final too. They lost those to Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, respectively.
The 2012/13 season was a difficult one and the sale of Javi Martinez to Bayern Munich did not help matters - nor, indeed, did Athletic Bilbao's freezing out of Fernando Llorente over contractual disputes. The team finished 12th in La Liga and Bielsa was not offered a new contract after his expired at the end of the campaign.
Marseille and a brief stint at Lazio
Bielsa took charge of Marseille ahead of the 2014/15 season. After leading the way for much of the Ligue 1 campaign, they ultimately slipped to fourth in the table.
Bielsa was appointed manager of Lazio on July 6, 2016, but left after two days - he said they had already failed to meet their recruitment deadlines despite the transfer window still having eight weeks to run. The club sued for €50million for breach of contract.
Time in Lille
After Lazio, Bielsa moved on to Lille, where he overhauled the squad, replacing experienced players such as Vincent Enyeama and Rio Mavuba with the likes of Nicolas Pepe, Thiago Mendes, Thiago Maia, Kevin Malcuit, Fode Ballo-Toure, Luiz Araujo and Edgar Ie. He was fired in December 2017 after only half a season in charge.
"We have to accept that we made mistakes. We have to say that clearly," Luis Campos, Lille's sporting advisor, said to RMC.
"The first is when the club practically gave the keys to the former coach so that he can build his own sporting project. There came a time when the club decided to give practically all the power to the former coach and in my opinion, even today as the DNCG [French football financial watchdog] said no for the winter window, that moment is going to weigh heavily on the whole season. We're going to pay very dearly for that the whole season long."
Campos also said: "You cannot build a team without having a spine of experienced players to support quality youngsters. For me, that was when the project was broken."
Marching on with Leeds United
Bielsa was appointed as manager of Leeds United ahead of the 2018/19 season and led them to the Championship play-offs, where they were beaten in the semi-finals by Derby County.
Along the way, Bielsa gained some degree of notoriety by admitting to sending a spy to Derby's training ground in a previous league encounter, much to the chagrin of then Derby boss Frank Lampard.
However, Bielsa instructed his players to allow Aston Villa to score a goal unchallenged in another match after his side had scored one which he deemed unfair. This earned Bielsa and Leeds United the 2019 FIFA Fair Play Award.
In 2019/20, Bielsa's Leeds United won the Championship and gained automatic promotion to the Premier League. In their first season back up, they performed admirably, notably picking up four points against Manchester City, a team managed by Pep Guardiola, another of Bielsa's disciples.
Bielsa is reportedly a devout Roman Catholic. He is known for favouring press conferences over exclusive interviews so that everyone has the chance to ask him questions, rather than only individual journalists from powerful publications.
Marcelo Bielsa's net worth
The Daily Star reported that Bielsa was earning £6million a year at Leeds United, which is essentially £3million after tax. He is reportedly the best-paid manager in Leeds United's history.