The Promoted

What to expect from Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa in FPL

FPL managers are set for entertainment when Marcelo Bielsa finally arrives in the top-flight of English football.

The Leeds United manager joins the Premier League heralded as an unprecedented individual, his personality likely to impact your FPL team at some point in the 2020/21 season.

With this piece, we are launching our series of articles on The Promoted, so that the Fantasy community is well-prepared for the latest sides to join FPL.

We are starting with El Loco, as the Leeds boss is affectionately known and, later in the week we will assess the Championship winners’ defensive and attacking underlying statistics to pick out the early contenders for inclusion in our squads.

To help us with our research, we have brought in the expertise of Beren Cross, a journalist for LeedsLive who has covered United extensively during Bielsa’s time at the club.

What is Bielsa’s background?

Bielsa is considered to be one of the most enigmatic characters in world football after three decades of management under his belt, including spells with Argentina and Chile’s national teams, Athletic Bilbao, Marseille, Lazio and Lille.

The Leeds United job is his first in England but the Argentinian is well-known on the world stage, reportedly a huge influence on some of the biggest coaches on the Premier League scene, including one Pep Guardiola.

“My admiration for Marcelo Bielsa is huge. For me, he’s the best coach in the world.” – Pep Guardiola

“He’s one of the best managers in the world. And he’s like my father.” – Mauricio Pochettino

During his time as a football manager, Bielsa has earned a reputation for exceptional levels of attention to detail. Going into every game, he will have mapped out potential solutions to any situation that could ensue on the field.

“If players weren’t human, I’d never lose.” – Marcelo Bielsa

“Playing in a Bielsa side is a bit like being in the military. It’s tactics, tactics, tactics and fitness.” – Mateusz Klich

Nothing encapsulates Bielsa’s attention to detail, or demeanour better than the already notorious incident of Spygate.

Always known as a man dedicated to in-depth analysis of his opponents’ tactics, it was discovered in January 2019, that the Leeds manager had sent coaches to spy on Derby Country’s training sessions ahead of a key Championship clash.

However, instead of denying the allegations, Bielsa admitted spying on Derby, as well as every other opponent Leeds had faced that season.

What followed was an hour-long press conference, which Beren Cross attended, in which Bielsa gave a PowerPoint presentation on how he profiles upcoming opposition. Such is the meticulousness of his research and analysis, the conclusion of this unprecedented press briefing was that Bielsa did not need to spy on other clubs to know how to beat them.

Leeds were then fined £200,000 for their involvement in the scandal but, summing up Bielsa’s character perfectly, he insisted on paying the fee out of his own pocket.

Having Bielsa in the Premier League is sure to add a new level of drama for the neutral fans, but how will it impact FPL? Let’s have a closer look…

What style of football does Bielsa use?

To get an accurate fix on the way Leeds are likely to set-up their stall in the Premier League, we asked Beren Cross what style of football Bielsa likes to use.

It certainly appears that his side will make matches entertaining for fans next season, which could result in goals at both ends of the pitch.

“The nearest tactical style your readers will be able to compare it to is Pep Guardiola’s City set-up. United press high, they mark man-to-man across the pitch, a feature many opposition managers pointed out as being unique in the Championship last season. The Whites are renowned for being the fittest team in the league. Described as machines by some in the way they relentlessly press and harry. Many winners came late in matches while opposition tired and they kept going until the bitter end.” – Beren Cross

Those already trying to get an accurate fix on Leeds’ line-ups for 2019/20, should start with their regularly used formations, especially as they are known for a somewhat changeable shape.

“It’s very fluid, but the simplest description would be a 4-1-4-1 with the wingers and full-backs pushing up to create a 3-3-1-3 at times. It is something he sticks to a lot, but the formation is generally determined by how many strikers the opposition employ. If it’s one striker they go 4-1-4-1 and if it’s two strikers, they go 3-3-1-3.” – Beren Cross

As for whether the personnel within these systems can be relied upon for starts, it seems as though Leeds could come into the Premier League to match the likes of Burnley or Wolves for high number of reliable starters.

As you have already seen, Bielsa’s style of management is unique so the fact that his players are attuned to this will go a long way to helping them start games regularly in the top-flight.

“Leeds are a very settled side. Bielsa only tends to change the team for suspensions and injuries, even during poor runs of form. They are so fit, fatigue is rarely an issue. The aforementioned Bamford would go 10 matches without a goal in the Championship and not be dropped, much to many fans’ dismay. However, Bielsa is loyal and his players run through brick walls for him.” – Beren Cross

How does Bielsa handle the press?

Press conferences form a big part of how Fantasy managers pick their team, so it is always important to assess what role Bielsa will play in that.

Are Leeds going to be a team we can rely on for accurate injury information, or will Bielsa replace Eddie Howe as the Premier League’s non-committal team news pedaller?

“Bielsa is cordial with the press, but he is a private man. He does not grant any one-to-one interviews. He treats every journalist the same and gives them all a chance to ask their questions in press conferences. He is very forthcoming with injury news. There was a period, in his first season, Bielsa would name the starting XI in press conferences, much to supporters’ frustrations. He has grown out of that now, but is very honest about injuries and who is likely to replace outgoing personnel.” – Beren Cross

Keep an eye out for our articles on Leeds’ defence and attack later this week and, for more detail on United for the 2020/21 season, make sure to follow Leeds United Live on Twitter.

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768 Comments Post a Comment
  1. GoodFella93
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 3 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    Early wildcarders: With the new season so close Bielsa will almost certainly start with the exact team that finished last season. New striker in? Bamford still leads the line In GW1.

    Although this Leeds team has dominated the Championship it lacks prolific scorers. Hard to see at this moment who the points will be coming from.

    Pablo Hernandez is our most creative force by far but you can expect him to be the only senior player with a pass to play a bit part role and the only player that will receive special consideration when it comes to output in training.

    Once the full backs settle we should see some good value. Eyes are on Alying at this point. Full backs are heavily involved in Bielsa’s play, with goals and assists as likely from them as our wingers. Leeds starve the opposition of the ball so have had a good defensive record but this will be hard to continue in the premier league as we are always prone to a lack in concentration completely opening us in up - and that will be punished in the prem.

    Jack Harrison is our most creative regular starter. He only managed 5-6 Championship goals though, whilst his involvement and positional play spoke more to a player that should be hitting double fingers. Finishing needs to improve but he could be the budget winger starting every game.

    If Leeds young goalkeeper Meslier manages to keep hold of the number 1 shirt he could be a great option between the sticks. If Kiko stays at Leeds you’d expect him to reclaim the number 1 shirt for the start of the season.

    Kalvin Philips is the specialised CDM in the team. Think Fernandinho. He’s also on free kicks and corners but without much success. Could be a great bench option at the right price.

    Tyler Roberts will be an interesting one. Though hampered by injury, he’s the most premier league looking young player at the club. Deployed at number 10 or occasionally up front he’s got an eye for goal and I’m sure will have a tasty price. However without ever margins to be one of the main stays in the team, he might need time to settle into the starting XI before he can be considered.

    Klich is the most versatile CM, starting every single match for two years under Bielsa until promotion was tied up, then he finally got his rest. Box to box with an eye for goal. “If you watch the game you don’t see Klich, it you watch Klich you see the whole game”. This is the best quote to describe Klich - he’s involved in everything but often he’s linking play. When he does pop up with those goals and assists you’d expect high bps.

    1. Jafooli
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 8 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      Might want to post this on the new article....shame to see so much effort fo to waste....

      1. GoodFella93
        • Fantasy Football Scout Member
        • 3 Years
        1 month, 15 days ago

        Thanks will do. Can correct the typos too

    • 1 Year
    1 month, 15 days ago

    This season I might use my FH and BB in a SGW. DGW's probably will be loads of rotation from most teams.

    TC in a DGW though...

  3. Nimby
    • Fantasy Football Scout Member
    • 2 Years
    1 month, 15 days ago

    Am I alone in thinking KDB won't be as expensive as 12.5? Obviously he was the highest scorer last season but as someone who is more of an assister than a scorer, and not in the penalty area as much as Sterling, Salah, Mane, that he is more likely to start the season at around 11? Either way, it will be tough fitting two of the aforementioned in our sqauds.

    1. Greek Freak
      • 5 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      I think a City player who scored 251 points is practically guaranteed to be 12m+.

    2. Maximus Bonimus Pointimus
      • Fantasy Football Scout Member
      • 10 Years
      1 month, 15 days ago

      Hoping for 12.0 rather than 12.5 - don't think we'll get as lucky as 11.5 unfortunately, you never know though

  4. HurriKane
    • 8 Years
    1 month, 9 days ago

    Looks like Sancho deal is off (Fabrizio Romano/Skysports)

    Greenwood nailed on in my team. 7.5m will be a steal.