Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa reveals fears for the beautiful game

Leeds United's head coach Marcelo Bielsa (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)
Leeds United's head coach Marcelo Bielsa (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)
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An impassioned Marcelo Bielsa warned that football’s obsession with results risks destroying the game as he urged “those who have power” to protect it by accepting the need for entertainment.

Drawing comparisons with global environmental issues, Leeds United’s head coach said a “lack of tolerance” with mixed form in pursuit of attractive football was having negative and long-term effects which would be felt by the sport in the future.

The 63-year-old Argentinian – renowned for an engaging style which other elite coaches have sought to study and copy over the past two decades – outlined what he saw as a responsibility to find “the beauty of the game” as he looked ahead to Leeds’ game at West Bromwich Albion tomorrow.

Bielsa is managing in England for the first time this season but his long-held tactics – ideas he has retained since starting his career in management with Newell’s Old Boys in 1990 – have clicked quickly, taking Leeds to the top of the Championship and earning widespread approval.

The former Argentina boss said he is committed to trusting his methods and blamed the “commercialisation” of football for increasing the pressure on head coaches, encouraging them to disregard the merit of entertaining performances in the interests of results.

“When the team doesn’t get what it deserves, sooner or later the fans punish the lack of results,” said Bielsa. “The lack of tolerance regarding the lack of results is stronger than the lack of tolerance when the style is not beautiful. The fans are more willing to wait for the beauty of the game when they have results.

With the commercialisation of football, when clubs are owned by private people, the result is more important than anything. But the most attractive thing in football is the beauty of the game.

Marcelo Bielsa

“With the commercialisation of football, when clubs are owned by private people, the result is more important than anything. But the most attractive thing in football is the beauty of the game. Those who invest in football should be aware and take precautions to keep up the level of the business they bought because when a team plays bad, you’ll have less fans willing to watch the game.

“You have head coaches like (Manchester City’s Pep) Guardiola who unite both things: beauty and results. He plays well and wins, and increases the value of the club where he works and the players he has.”