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.
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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