Loads of Leeds United supporters have been reacting on social media after Gary Neville suggested Whites boss Marcelo Bielsa could face translation issues going forward, and compared the Argentine’s situation at Elland Road to that of his time in charge of Valencia.
Neville was given his first managerial job by Valencia in December 2015, but was fired by the La Liga outfit after less than four months in charge (BBC), having won three of a possible 16 league games, and ten of 28 overall.
Bielsa, on the other hand, has proven to be a hugely popular figure with Leeds United supporters since taking charge of the West Yorkshire side in the summer of 2018 to mount a promotion chase.
But, despite Bielsa’s impressive first season in charge of Leeds, Neville feels the former Argentina, Chile, Athletic Bilbao, Marseille and Lazio head coach will ultimately face the same language barrier that he feels cost him his job in Spain, where he failed to learn the language during his short spell in charge.
“I couldn’t communicate to the players and we talk for a living. Every team talk was 50 minutes because it had to be translated by the person next to me. If you see Bielsa’s interviews, they’re hard to watch too,” the former Premier League and Champions League-winning right-back said on The Last Word With Stan Collymore.
“I had four Spanish lessons a week, I was getting up at six in the morning, they thought I was crazy, to basically do an hour and a half of Spanish. All the team meetings were in Spanish, I insisted, they obviously needed a translator for me but I worked really hard.
“I’m doing this team talk and Alvaro Negredo comes up to me, he says ‘look, there are two things, you just have to do it in Spanish. You can speak football words now, you’ve been here for three months. People admire you for it, it’s brave, but you’ve just got to do it because you’re still speaking in English after three months’.
“He was telling me basically that it wasn’t working and I could feel it, I knew it.”
Most of the Leeds United supporters reacting to Neville’s comments found it hard to find a connection between the former Manchester United defender’s situation and that of Bielsa, with the Whites currently in third place having topped the Championship table for much of August.
Here are a selection of their reactions…
I don’t see this as a dig and highlights even more just what an incredible job he’s doing
— Craig (@cookster636) September 3, 2019
Gary Neville’s Valencia looked like a team that had no coaching philosophy & no player understanding of what they were supposed to be doing. Marcelo Bielsa is such a good coach that his players fully understand “our” style of play & it transcends language #lufc #MOT #Bielsaball
— Marc F (@billywigwam13) September 4, 2019
So, Bielsa almost got us promoted at the first attempt and Neville got fired. Lots of similarities thereAnd why hasn’t Neville tried managing in England instead?
— Mikey P (@MikeyPleeds) September 3, 2019
He says about a manager who’s managed in half a dozen countries, in which they speak three different languages in which time he’s proved time and again to improve their teams, players and support…
— Dean (@DeanoNet) September 3, 2019
Bielsa ball is the universal language every footballer understands
— Mark Ramm (@LufcRammy) September 3, 2019
@GNev2 most of the time you speak a lot of sense but every now & then you have a blip. Comparing your situation to Bielsa’s situation is different. Bielsa understands English & can speak it his just not very confident in doing so. His into his second season no difficulties.
— Adam Ross (@rossi_on) September 3, 2019
Gary Neville should not be mentioned in the same breath as bielsa. The guy can talk a good game and that’s about it.
— manbag (@Ballboy34) September 3, 2019
If he had been half as successful then I would agree
— steve hutchins (@mousethatroard) September 3, 2019
I’ve watched and enjoyed more of Bielsas interviews than any manager we’ve ever had, I’m not sure I’d agree that they are “hard to watch”
— (@JamWhipp) September 3, 2019
Complete and utter hogwash
— Richard Lang (@richardlang05) September 3, 2019
Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more Leeds United notifications!
Yeah, but Bielsa is winning games. Gary couldn’t win Hook-a-Duck at a fairground.
— ManicStreetTeacher (@365DaysofWhine) September 3, 2019