First, let’s have a look at Marcelo Bielsa’s history.
Known as ‘El Loco’, Marcelo Bielsa is the grandfather of modern football. Many of the best managers in the footballing world have played under Bielsa. The likes of Pep Guardiola, Gerardo Martino, Diego Simeone, Jorge Sampaoli, Marcelo Gallardo and Mauricio Pochettino to name a few. Pep Guardiola managed arguably the greatest side in football with the likes of Lionel Messi and Andreas Iniesta under him at Barcelona, whilst Diego Simeone took his Atletico Madrid side to two Champions League finals and even a La Liga title.
The most recent success story from a Marcelo Bielsa understudy was Mauricio Pochettino, who took Tottenham Hotspur to their first Champions League final. All of these managers reference Bielsa’s style of football as a key influence on their teams’ style of play. Bielsa uses high risk, high reward tactics that can be best described as high intensity attacking, possession football.
Let’s look at Marcelo Bielsa’s style of play. Bielsa’s teams are often based around a 3-3-1-3 formation with clearly defined player roles. His team is broken into two units, the attacking unit and defensive unit but his team attack and defend as one. In the defensive unit the back three is comprised of three ball playing defenders, midfielders or full backs played out of position for their ability to pass or carry out of defence. Whilst the middle three are made up of two wing backs and a central midfielder that operates as the crux of the defensive shape and holding position as an option for the other five “defensive players” to pass to.
For all that Marcelo Bielsa has done for the Championship side, Leeds United still have outstanding quality all over the pitch. One of the most impressive talents to come out of Leeds, Kalvin Phillips, is the talk of the town these days. Kalvin Phillips is the only player in the Championship averaging three+ tackles and two+ key passes per game this season. Along with Phillips, the likes of Ezgjan Alioski and Ben White are highly rated in the Championship. The top man management is evident with a player like Patrick Bamford – who hasn’t really settled down anywhere in his career until joining Bielsa’s setup at Leeds.
Who do you think is the most exciting Championship side?