Marcelo Bielsa, The Enigma - Part Two

Ligue 1 Conforama > ligue1show

What actually goes on inside Marcelo Bielsa's head? To try to understand, The Ligue 1 Show went to Argentina.

And in the suburbs of Buenos Aires we found Jorge Griffa. For the Lille coach, Griffa is a role model and a mentor and he's somebody who knows Bielsa better than anyone. Griffa said: "We have a strong relationship. He's always been slightly crazy in the way he acts. His friends have always said he's mad. In reality, he's isn't, but he's always found it hard to control his emotions. After certain defeats, I had to lock him in the toilets so that he could calm down a bit. I had to be careful because during those moments we didn't know what he could be capable of doing."


LOSC president Lopez chipped in: "I've rarely seen someone suffer like he does after a defeat. On an emotional level he really takes things to an extreme.

Author Thomas Goubin said: "His bosses at Atlas Guadalajara told me that Marcelo Bielsa would even cry after a defeat."

Bietry said: " "He puts himself through so much. If a player does a training exercise wrong, he suffers more than the player. He asks himself what did he do to make the player get it wrong. Things are complicated inside his head."

Everywhere he goes, Marcelo Bielsa leaves an indelible mark. In Rosario, the Newell's Old Boys stadium is named after him.

A supporter said: "Bielsa is the most beautiful thing that's happened to us." Another added:  "We are all el loco Bielsa here ! he's the best." And a third concurred: "I'm shaking just speaking about him. Bielsa is a religion."

Bielsa is a god to the Newell's fans because he won the title there, but also because his intense personality fascinated and charmed them.  Legend has it that after a defeat the Rosario fans gathered outside his house to protest. Bielsa confronted them with a hand grenade in his hand.

Goubin has heard the tale: "He's certainly an excessive person. His passion for football is excessive and it can lead to extreme behaviour."

At Marseille, Dimitri Payet remembers been sent away on an early holiday after clashing with Bielsa in training: "I was having a bad session but he didn't say anything at all. And then right at the end I managed to do something good and one of his assistants congratulated me. And he just lost it. He said ‘no no, you can't congratulate him after he's messed up in this session'. He lost it and that's when he took that decision."

"He was a nervous person but he didn't really let that show. He succeeded in giving us confidence through his calm demeanour."

Freakish attention to detail

Everybody who knows Bielsa stresses his freakish attention to detail. This summer, Bielsa claims to have watched highlights of 1800 matches. Lopez said: "He shows an attention to detail on an unbelievable level… something I've never seen in anybody else."

Goubin added: "One of his friends told me an anecdote. He went on holiday once with his in-laws. When he got to the hotel he asked for two VCRs and he watched matches of his next opponents for the entire weekend. He got his father-in-law to take notes and my friend assures me Marcelo Bielsa didn't once put his foot on the sand."

Bietry has got to know the coach: "His personality is obsessional. I've seen 5000 coaches in my life but nothing like him. It's not just that he thinks, breathes, sleeps football and all those clichés. Football is in his thoughts day and night."

Goubin added: "He is hugely demanding, with himself and with the club he works for. The slightest hitch can take him over the edge. He's a time bomb waiting to explode that can explode at any moment."

Really El Loco?

Malatrait weighed in: "He has a crazy streak… for me Bielsa is a unique character."

Payet believes Bielsa deserves his famed sobriquet: "El Loco is the nickname that suits him best. He's crazy about football, crazy about beautiful football."

Bietry said: "It's one of the most beautiful and stupid nicknames that exist.

So is El Loco really crazy? We, eventually, asked the man himself. 

Bielsa replied:   "It's an anecdote. I cannot consider myself through the definition of my own nickname. I think I am a normal person. And I don't have a lot more to add."

>> PART 1

>> More from The Ligue 1 Show

>> PREVIEW: Bielsa reunited with Marseille in key clash


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