At 34-years-old, former Spain international Pablo Hernandez is nearer the end of his career than the beginning, but the Leeds United midfielder is still learning from Marcelo Bielsa.
In just over a year working together, Hernandez has come to understand why his boss is so well thought of by Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino.
“Everybody feels Marcelo is a special manager,” said Hernandez, sidelined by a hamstring injury. “He’s a special person.
“Myself and my team-mates feel this every day in the training ground and in the matches. It’s a surprise that he came here.
“Sometimes you think you have experience, you’re an old player and you know everything in football. This isn’t true. At 34 I can still learn new things in football and this is why it is a great experience to work with him.”
Leeds have stuttered in the absence of Hernandez and Adam Forshaw, who has a hip injury. But with Hernandez expected to return soon, and Liam Cooper and Jamie Shackleton back in contention, Forshaw is hopeful his team can put their foot down, as they did this time last year.
“Now is a chance for two or three teams to put a run together,” Forshaw told the Talking Shutt podcast. “We put one together at a similar time last year. If we were to do it now I think it’s a perfect time and it sets a perfect marker out to other clubs.”
Leeds picked up 24 points from a possible 27 from the start of November 2018 until Boxing Day, only to miss promotion in the play-off semi-finals.
Forshaw says he and his team-mates are over the disappointment, and have come back as an improved version.
“A couple of weeks into my holidays I was thinking we’ve missed a great opportunity,” he reflected. “But then in another few weeks you’re back in training and ready to go again.
Sometimes you think you have experience, you’re an old player and you know everything in football. This isn’t true. At 34 I can still learn new things in football and this is why it is a great experience to work with him.
“You just have to put it behind you. We’ve started the season solidly and there’s areas to improve in but I feel like we’re a real heavyweight this season and we have a real shot.
“We don’t set up any differently but we concede fewer chances.
“We’ve deserved a lot more points than we’ve actually got.
“I’m a firm believer that eventually you will get what you deserve in that respect. You can’t continue to batter teams and it not come to fruition.”