It’s fair to say Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa is a man who divides opinion. You either love the Argentine, or you hate him, there is usually no in between.
Those that love him will happily tell you he’s a genius, with the likes of Pep Guardiola openly admitting he’s a manager who inspired his work.
Then some disagree, believing that Bielsa’s tactics don’t work and pointing to his failures at several clubs as evidence of their point.
Pablo Guiñazú falls into the former category and did not hesitate to praise his former manager in a recent interview with Clarín.
“He teaches you, he teaches you the basics, he explains the reason for things,” he told the newspaper.
“And when you take them to the field, things happen. Then he teaches you to mark, to solve, to cover your back.”
“I was a ‘volante’, but he also taught me how to play as a left centre-back but also as a full back, so I had tools when I had to cover on the side.
“And he teaches you to attack. He fills you with basics, that’s it. And on the field, you say: ‘You’re right.’”
A constant criticism that follows Bielsa is his demanding nature, with the Argentine well known for pushing his sides to the limit.
That sometimes comes back to haunt him, with several of his teams, including Leeds United last year, having run out of energy by the end of the campaign.
Guiñazú admits that it can be tough under Bielsa but has no complaints, going as far as to describe the day-to-day experience as ‘awesome’.
“It’s awesome. For example, when you train, there is no side; the ball does not go outside. There is someone who immediately throws a ball inside. And give it, and go on.
“Speed, speed, we can’t breathe, give, give. And you’re right, teacher. It’s like that; then you end up understanding it.
“The situations he tells you are happening and you, without realising it, begin to execute things that you didn’t do before, that you didn’t even have before.
“At first you do it unconsciously, it crushes you so much that you do it, but over time it is already conscious.
“I thought I knew about the game; I thought I understood football until I met Bielsa. And I realised that I didn’t understand anything, he’s a teacher.”
Given his standing and reputation in the game, Bielsa has been offered big jobs, his most prominent being the Argentina post he held for six years.
Since then the Argentine has preferred to avoid the big names, carving a path around Europe with mixed success.
That path led him to Elland Road last year in a move that surprised everyone, particularly given Leeds United currently find themselves in the Championship.
His first year at the club ultimately ended in failure as Leeds missed out on promotion to the Premier League.
That led to some criticism once again, with people questioning Bielsa’s lack trophies. Not Guiñazú, though, who says that it’s not about success for Bielsa, but improving clubs and players alike.
“It’s not that Marcelo goes and grabs Barcelona or Real Madrid. What do I mean by this? He grabs good teams, but he feels, in my view, that he can improve them, that he can strengthen them,” he adds.
“He tries to fight the biggest clubs. His main task and that he does it perfectly is to empower the players.
“He wants to make you better. You tell me that he does not win titles, but I ask you why are there no players who speak ill of Marcelo? Because he improves you.”