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5 things to expect from Leeds United and Marcelo Bielsa in the Premier League

Leeds United have won the Championship
Leeds United have won the Championship
Abhinav Anand
ANALYST

Leeds United are back in the Premier League after 16 long years. The Whites have won the Championship under manager Marcelo Bielsa, and the enigmatic manager will now get ready to lead his team at the highest tier in English football.

Much has been made of El Loco's Leeds United side. They have swept away the opposition in the Championship with Bielsa's renowned style of play. However, it will be interesting whether that style translates onto the Premier League.

We look at:

5 things to expect from Leeds United and Marcelo Bielsa in the Premier League


#5 The Marcelo Bielsa-Pep Guardiola showdown

Pep Guadiola has cited Marcelo Bielsa as the greatest manager in the world
Pep Guadiola has cited Marcelo Bielsa as the greatest manager in the world

Pep Guardiola has always been open about his respect for Marcelo Bielsa. The Spaniard regards Bielsa as the greatest manager in the world, and has admitted that much of his playing philosophy stems from the Argentine's coaching manual.

Pep Guardiola travelled nearly 5000 miles in 2006 to visit Bielsa in Argentina. Guardiola had just ended his illustrious playing career, while Bielsa had resigned as the manager of the Argentina national team. Both men used to discuss football for hours, including tactics and theories.

The Manchester City boss, who is regarded by many as the greatest manager of all-time, was effusive in his praise about Leeds United and in particular, Bielsa. Both managers play a high-tempo, press-oriented style of play, with emphasis on passing and possession. While Guardiola has gone on to manage some of the best clubs in the world, Bielsa has had a more modest career.

However, there is no denying the influence of the former Marseille manager on Guardiola. This is not the first time the two will face each other, though. Bielsa's Athletic Bilbao and Guardiola's Barcelona have locked horns previously. The Argentine is yet to win against a Guardiola side.

Pep Guardiola is not the only manager Bielsa has influenced. Former Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino, Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone and Atletico Mineiro manager Jorge Sampaoli have all touted Bielsa as an inspiration.


#4 El Loco- The Madman Bielsa

Marcelo Bielsa has been called "El Loco"
Marcelo Bielsa has been called "El Loco"

One of the more vibrant personalities in the sport, Marcelo Bielsa is also called "El Loco"- the Madman.

Prior to his managerial stint with Leeds United, Bielsa was appointed as the manager of French side Lille. The 65-year old immediately informed 11 long-serving players- including the likes of Vincent Enyeama and Rio Mavuba- that they could start looking for new clubs.

This is just the top of the iceberg. Bielsa joined Italian side Lazio in 2016, only to quit two days later, stating that the club had failed to recruit the players he wanted. In 1992, after his side Newell's Old Boys lost 6-0 to San Lorenzo in the Copa Libertadores, fans protested outside his house. El Loco threatened them with a hand grenade.

While his stint at Leeds United has been relatively quiet, it has still been entertaining. Bielsa admitted to spending a spy to the Derby County playing ground before their match, leaving Derby County manager Frank Lampard bemused. "Spygate", as the incident was termed, resulted in the Argentine giving a detailed analysis of Derby County to journalists to highlight that he had already been well-prepared.

El Loco will certainly add some colour and flavour to what has been a bland Premier League.


#3 The Leeds United-Manchester United rivalry

Leeds United and Manchester United enjoy an intense rivalry
Leeds United and Manchester United enjoy an intense rivalry

Manchester City have been phenomenal. Liverpool just won the Premier League. Leeds United have been promoted. It is not easy to support Manchester United these days.

The Roses rivalry between Leeds United and Manchester United is well-renowned. It has been termed as English football's most intense rivalry, with the early meetings between the two clubs almost always leading to hooliganism among fans.

However, when local boy Alan Smith decided to leave Leeds United after their relegation in 2004 to join Manchester United, Leeds fans were furious. Smith had been a fan favourite at the club, and he was termed "Judas" for his apparent lack of loyalty. Smith would go on to enjoy a good spell with the Red Devils, establishing himself as a cult favourite.

16 years later, Leeds United are back, with Marcelo Bielsa at the helm. El Loco is yet to lose to Manchester United; his Athletic Bilbao side decimated Sir Alex Ferguson's United, twice, in the Europa League round of 16 in 2012. Bilbao beat United 3-2 at Old Trafford, before finishing the job at their home by winning 2-0.

Sir Alex Ferguson was astounded by the Athletic Bilbao team, which featured future Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera. Leeds United fans can certainly dream; Manchester United have not been at their best for some time now.


Also Read: Serie A 2019/20: Top 10 players this season according to ratings

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Edited by Ashwin
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