Marcelo Bielsa’s first pre-match interview as Leeds United boss was utterly bizarre 3 years ago

Marcelo Bielsa’s first pre-match interview as Leeds United boss was utterly bizarre

Long may the Bielsa revolution continue

Marcelo Bielsa has been Leeds United manager for less than two months and he is already providing supporters with moments of pure gold.


The Argentine coach was appointed as manager at Elland Road on June 15, a decision which shocked and delighted in equal measure. There were question marks over whether his style would be suited to the club and its players and if, indeed, he would stay for more than a couple of days, after painfully early departures from both Lille and Lazio recently.

The combination of both Leeds and Bielsa, two of football's most enigmatic, peculiar and unpredictable entities, was always going to be spectacular one way or the other, and the former Argentina coach's first game in charge suggests that it may well have been the canniest of canny decisions by the Leeds hierarchy.

Firstly, on the pitch they were exceptional in their Championship opener against Stoke. Winning 3-1, United were by far the better side throughout against a team believed to be favourites to win the second tier this season.


The players have obviously bought into what Bielsa has brought with him, and carried out his instructions with a beautiful mix of passing and physicality, pragmatism at its best, especially in this league.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, Bielsa gave us the most extraordinarily brilliant moment of the Championship season to date, and one which may well go down as one of the most bizarre interviews in Sky Sports history.

Speaking with the help of a translator, the 63-year-old spoke to Sky Sports prior to his side's victory over the Potters, and it was momentous.


The first question which can be heard on the clip goes as follows: "You'll have learned a lot about your squad over pre-season but will you really find out about them today in a game against the title favourites?"

What follows is the translation, customary when working alongside a translator, and a curt "ahhh, yes" from Bielsa.

Then the Argentinian goes back to speaking to his translator, seemingly deep in conversation over how best to explain his complex footballing mind to the plebeians like us watching at home.

No, actually, he merely said "yes, you're right".


At this stage one would have assumed that the interviewer might have gotten the message before delivering a slightly simpler question to the manager. Nope. This cosmic ballet will go on.

He asked: "Barry Douglas starts today, it's his debut. Patrick Bamford is only on the bench. Were you tempted to start with Patrick Bamford?"

More talking, then Bielsa reveals that "all the players are available", before returning to confer with his translator.

It is at this moment that the utter awkwardness of the situation kicks into gear, with both Bielsa and his translator turning their faces towards each other in the sort of close call that would leave people less secure with their sexuality shaking at the thought of how close their lips came to touching.

"And I chose the best one," was what came at the end of it all.


It would not be a surprise to discover in years to come that Bielsa was a fluent English speaker all along, and that this was merely part of his mystique, designed to disarm his rivals before taking English football by storm, or as a piece of Andy Kaufman-esque performance art designed to make you cover your eyes due to cringe.

For now, let's just enjoy it for what it was: perhaps the greatest interview a manager has ever done.