Publicly castigated by certain members of the media for sending ‘spies’ to watch opponents’ training sessions, Marcelo Bielsa hit back the only way he knew how: his work.
Sitting various members of the press down for a lengthy surprise ‘conference’ about his way of doing things at Elland Road, the Leeds United manager won over the vast majority of his original detractors, but not everybody.
Interviewed by La Nacion about various topics, including his brother, Rafael Bielsa, Marcelo’s elder sibling and Argentina’s former Minister of Foreign Relations, quickly jumped to his rescue by somewhat criticising Britain as a whole.
He said: “With Spygate, there were condemning voices. Very focused and badly argued. There were also many rational and supporting voices. The rampaging communicative element here was the British double moral. There’s a beautiful book, ‘The Trials of Oscar Wilde’, those that Wilde brought to Douglas, the father of his boyfriend, and those that Douglas, who was the Marquess of Queensberry, brought to Wilde.
“There you see it: a repressed society with criminalised homosexuality where many of the men condemning Wilde were homosexuals. The British double standard, from corporal punishment to the Profumo case, a State secretary with a double life, or the spy theme covered by Le Carré, or that wonderful novel by John Banville, ‘the Untouchable’… There’s a double standard.”
Rafael Bielsa was then asked if what the Leeds manager had done was ‘disloyal’ to all the other teams and managers out there who have never conducted such practices.
His answer was quite something.
He said: “His thing is more pathological than being disloyal. Marcelo only goes to sleep when physical exhaustion sends him there with the knowledge that he’s done everything he can. Do you want to listen to him or do you want to find arguments to condemn him? To say he’s disloyal is easy.
“Think of the fight of a human being against chance. That’s what’s wonderful, magic, quixotic and what turns him into a literary character. He knows that he lost that fight, but he has the extraordinary courage to go for it.
“Question: Churchill, in Westminster, called up the English language and they went against Hitler just after the Blitz where the German planes destroyed the city. Was it wise? No. Was it loyal to the population? No. But he followed a dream. He was disloyal, he was appealing to a sucker punch… but the guy changed history.
“Therefore, like all things that force you to think, it’s difficult to understand Marcelo: a human being trying to defy Newton. And, yes, he’s going to hold a feather up in the air for a while, then he’ll have a stiff neck and it will eventually fall. Of course. But what’s extraordinary is that he tried.”
While Bielsa has had many failures as a manager throughout his lengthy career, the latest coming during his time at Lille where he nearly got the club relegated, the Leeds spell, whenever it ends, probably won’t be added to that list.
The mysterious Argentine manager has easily won over the Elland Road faithful this season, as the club continues to fight for automatic promotion to the Premier League, one point behind second placed Sheffield United after their 1-0 loss at the weekend.
You can criticise Marcelo Bielsa for many things, but his work ethic is certainly not one of them.