It’s fair to say Marcelo Bielsa isn’t everyone’s cup of tea right now.
Already seen by many as rather eccentric, the Argentine then got caught up in Spygate, sending staff members to watch training sessions of his future opponents.
The Leeds United manager addressed his perceived wrongdoing in a surprise press conference, and then proceeded to give journalists a lengthy seminar to explain why he didn’t actually need to spy on other teams, but did so just to help with his anxiety.
A few eyebrows were raised, but the general consensus following the whole debacle was that Marcelo Bielsa is a very hard working man who is as meticulous as they come when preparing a game.
Over at RMC Sport on the Team Duga show, however, Franck Leboeuf and Christophe Dugarry, two former 1998 World Cup winners with France, made it very clear they aren’t big fans.
“For me he’s shown nothing”
The former of the two, when talking about the manager with co-presenter Jean-Louis Tourre who was referring to an incident with former Marseille captain Steve Mandanda, said: “He’s somebody I don’t like. I don’t like his life philosophy. I don’t like how he manages a group and for me he’s shown nothing.
“To take the lift in the morning with your captain, to not say hello and to not even look at him, there’s a bit of a problem.”
At this point, Dugarry decided to interject to help out his friend, by saying: “It’s the way he treats people, journalists, it’s a bit autistic, isn’t it?”
Jean-Louis Tourre then tries to move the conversation along, bringing up the praise the Leeds manager has received from fellow colleagues such as Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino for how much he inspired them.
However, Franck Leboeuf didn’t see it that way.
He said: “No, no, no, that’s not true, Guardiola just said he spoke with him a bit”.
Dugarry: “They were inspired by certain things, but he isn’t their mentor at all. He’s not their mentor at all. They were also inspired by Mourinho, by all the other managers.”
Sensing this might all be going a bit too far, Jean-Louis Tourre points this out, stating that it’s fair to maybe criticise a few things about the way Bielsa gets results, but to say he never inspired managers and didn’t help players develop was ‘not honest’.
Dugarry then comes flying back in with: “He’s a manager, I’d hope he’d help players progress. He’s not completely stupid, but to say he’s the one who inspired Guardiola or Pochettino, that’s false. That’s completely false. Guardiola and Pochettino have never said that.”
“There’s dozens of them who mock him.”
Following a brief condescending agreement that Marcelo Bielsa managed to bring back the crowds to the Stade Vélodrome when he was at Marseille, the conversation moves on, thanks to Dugarry, about the lack of respect others in the same profession have for the Leeds manager.
He said: “But there’s dozens of them who mock him. Who’s he respected by? Because he’s crazy? Because he’s sat on a cooler? That’s why he’s respected. The number of people who mock him, thinking ‘how can you play like this?’ Who has he inspired?
“Guardiola was inspired by Cruyff. He might have had discussions with Bielsa that got him thinking. He brought some analysis, a debate, that’s it. What’s impressive with Bielsa is that he can stand in front of managers for two hours and give his philosophy, but what has he brought to the game? Cruyff inspired football. What has he created in the game?”
Despite the show needing to continue, Dugarry and Leboeuf then spend the next 20 seconds or so mocking the Leeds manager for Spygate, at which point Jean-Louis Tourre, having been given extra material to prove his point about Guardiola and Pochettino being inspired by Bielsa, tries to give them the proof they were so desperately asking for earlier when they told him it ‘didn’t exist’.
The quote was from the Manchester City manager, who said back in 2017: “It doesn’t matter how many titles he had in his career. We are judged by that, how much success we have, how many titles we have won, but that is much less influential than how he has influenced football and his football players. That is why, for me, he is the best coach in the world.”
Dugarry’s reaction? In a very condescending tone: “Yes, I know, I know exactly what you’re going to tell me. Don’t worry I know them off by heart. Stop, Jean-Louis. Bravo, you’re right, I’m wrong. I’m so sorry. You are completely right. What else do you want me to say? You’re right, since your friends sent it to you from the internet. It’s very good.”
The audio was captured by Twitter user @frdslb30, and the thread can be found below for those who can understand French.
Moment incroyable ce soir dans Team Duga, JL Tourre relance une discussion sur Bielsa avec les membres de la "Dream Team" Franck Leboeuf et Christophe Dugarry
Leboeuf "[Bielsa] c'est quelqu'un que j'aime pas, j'aime pas sa philosophie de vie"
Duga "C'est un autiste un peu !" pic.twitter.com/br8oEHqJ5D
— • (@frdslb30) February 5, 2019