A well known pupil of Marcelo Bielsa, Mauricio Pochettino has often talked about his respect for the Leeds United manager, having learned from him many aspects of the philosophy he currently uses at Tottenham.
However, as time goes by, the sport evolves, and it’s fair to say the student has become the master, with the younger of the two in the Champions League while the teacher is fighting for promotion up to the Premier League at Elland Road.
Business is now also a far bigger part of the game compared to when Bielsa was teaching Pochettino how to play football, and in an interview with Enganche Suplemento, the Tottenham manager revealed how he ‘defends himself’ against that.
He said: “You adapt. There’s no use complaining about things being different in the past. What’s useful is to transfer that old spirit to the new generations. We must keep that spirit alive, because it’s part of that history. It’s part of how we grew up and we have an obligation to pass those emotions and feelings on to continue the legacy, even if we know that everything is different today”.
Pochettino was then asked if Bielsa, a well-known romantic with an old school approach, was a ‘refuge’ where that ‘amateur spirit’ still lived on.
He said: “I don’t know. I think he has to coexist with this new era if he wants to be related to in the way he is today. Marcelo has a great speech and it’s true that through him an idea to defend romanticism is generated, which is something that moves us all.
“But it’s clear that both Marcelo and the other romantics must live with this to be able to meet our needs and those of the company, in this case a club, which in the end is what allows you to have your profession, your work and your passion. It’s important to maintain that balance”.
After difficult spells at Marseille and Lille (we won’t count his three day tenure of Lazio), Bielsa has now found a club in Leeds that ticks all his boxes.
The nostalgia and romanticism the Argentine brings to Elland Road is perfect for a club with a long history, one longing to return to where it feels it belongs.
Perhaps that’s why they have been working so well together over the past 14 months or so.