The Championship has welcomed an intriguing character this season with the arrival of Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds United – a man whom is widely acknowledged to have influenced arguably the most meticulous tactician in world football, namely Manchester City’ Pep Guardiola.
Bielsa’s influence does not start and end with Guardiola whom has described Bielsa as his “football father”, as the likes of Mauricio Pochettino, Diego Simeone and Jorge Sampaoli have all cited the Argentine as a major influence on their respective styles.
With prestigious managers across the globe citing Bielsa as an influence, it’s no surprise that the Leeds supporters were excited to welcome him to the club in the summer, and so far their pre-season excitement has been justified by some outstanding performances from the Whites.
Short clips of expansive, free-flowing, possession-based and brave football have done the rounds on social media and forced plenty of football supporters to take note of a growing revolution in Yorkshire.
10 points from 4 fixtures have put Leeds top of the pile ahead of their trip to Carrow Road to face Norwich City on Saturday afternoon, and ahead of the clash Bielsa made an interesting comment during his pre-match press-conference.
In relation to the philosophy which he has brought to the club, Bielsa admitted “the idea to have alternative plans which is considered a virtue, I don’t really share this point of view.”
Essentially Bielsa has declared that he has the utmost faith in his preferred style and he doesn’t deem it necessary to have a plan b option in case the primary strategy fails to deliver positive results.
And Bielsa’s admission perhaps hints at where Guardiola established his own attitude, as he has demonstrated throughout his career so far that he trusts in his philosophy regardless of the situation he finds himself in.
Perhaps the most quintessential example of when the Man City boss has showcased this was during his time at Barcelona.
With the Catalan giants on the brink of a Champions League semi-final exit at Stamford Bridge, Guardiola’s side continued to relentlessly pass the ball around the Chelsea defenders, seeking an opportunity to score a decisive away goal for more than 80 minutes after Michael Essien had put the Blues 1-0 up.
Barcelona struggled to find any clear cut opportunities but yet the philosophy remained the same, even after they went down to 10 men in the 66th minute.
But Guardiola’s faith paid dividends in the 93rd minute as Iniesta picked out the top corner with a technically brilliant strike from the edge of the area, sparking wild celebrations from the players, the fans, Guardiola and the rest of his backroom staff on the touchline.
A moment of genius was needed to clinch the result, but the goal arrived as a consequence of tired Chelsea legs who had been chasing the ball all evening long, and they paid the ultimate price for affording Iniesta too much space to pick his spot in the dying moments of the game.
Although Leeds have not experienced a moment of that magnitude just yet, it’s likely that a similar scenario could emerge this season which, although is frustrating for supporters, is born out of a genuine belief in the formula.
Guardiola has certainly taken plenty of inspiration from Bielsa during his managerial career so far, and his latest admission in the media certainly suggests that his commitment to one strategy and one strategy only derives from the Argentine manager.
Leeds and Man City fans – thoughts? Let us know below!