Marcelo Bielsa – Manager Profile

Author: Conor O’Hara  Illustration: Oliver Carter

A Brief Look At: Marcelo Bielsa

As part of our ‘Manager Profile’ series, we first have a look at Marcelo Bielsa and his time (so far) at Leeds United. We will look through his managerial career to date, his achievements, and how he has adopted his style of play in the Championship and Premier League. Check out the videos at the bottom of this article for some fantastic insights into his full history, his visionary status and tactical insight! (If you have a spare hour!)


Name – Marcelo Bielsa 

Nationality – Argentina  

Age – 65 

Managerial History                                                                      

1980 – 1990      Newells Old Boys (Youth coach)                  

1990 – 1992     Newell’s Old Boys                                     

1993 – 1995     Atlas 

1995 – 1996     Club de Futbol America 

1997 – 1998     Velez Sarsfield  

1998                  Espanyol 

1998 – 2004      Argentina  

2007 – 2011      Chile  

2011 – 2013      Athletic Bilbao  

2014 – 2015      Marseille  

2016                  Lazio 

2017                  Lille 

2018 –               Leeds United   

Managerial Honours 


Summer Olympics Gold Medal  –  2004 

Newell’s Old Boys 

Primera Division Argentina (Apertura)  – 1991 

Primera Division Argentina (Clausura)  – 1992 

Velez Sarsfield 

Primera Division Argentina (Clausura)  – 1998  

Leeds United 

EFL Championship  – 2019-2020 

Individual Honours 

IFFHS World’s Best National Coach  –  2001 

South American Coach of the Year  – 2009 

LMA Championship Manager of the Year – 2020 

EFL Championship Manager of the Year  – August 2018, November 2019, July 2020  

FIFA Fair Play Award – 2019 (Shared with Leeds United) 

The Best FIFA Football Coach – 2020 (3rd Place) 


Marcelo Bielsa was relatively unheard of by the masses (but heralded by coaches and elite managers worldwide!) when he swapped the north of France for West-Yorkshire back in 2018, but since then his philosophy and playing style has made for interesting debate amongst pundits and us football fans alike. 

Despite leading the Whites back to the summit of English football at the end of last season, they looked poised to do it even earlier when they were top of the Championship on Christmas Day during the 2018-19 season. However, they missed out on automatic promotion and then subsequently failed in the play-off’s too, losing to Frank Lampard’s Derby County. Many people have put this down to Bielsa overworking his players – this has since been dubbed as the ‘Bielsa burnout’.  

It is no secret that the Argentine put major physical demands on his players more than most managers; when they are out of possession, they constantly press the opposition relentlessly in order to win the ball back as quickly as possible, and once they have won possession back, it’s all about transition, short quick passes in order to stretch the defence and find those passing lanes which will carve opportunities to score. To put it simply, if you cannot run non-stop for 90 minutes, then you will struggle to force you way into a Marco Bielsa team. 

With his current Leeds United side, the 65-year-old, more often than not, opts to go with the 4-1-4-1 formationBielsa likes to drop Kalvin Phillips back so he sits just in front of the back-four, whilst Patrick Bamford is deployed up front by himself, however this is always prone to change depending on the set-up of the opposition, and whether they are in possession or not. When they have the ball, the Argentine likes to adopt his famous 3-3-1-3 formation. This is where Phillips will drop in to centre-half and push the other centre-backs wider, allowing the full-backs to push up to midfield so the likes of Jack Harrison and Raphina can also move up alongside Bamford in order to create a more direct and attacking presence. 

This style of play has certainly bore fruit for his side having scored 40 times in just 24 matches this season, yet their defence is still leaking a lot of goals with 43 goals shipped thus far; only West Brom have conceded more this campaign. Whether you like Leeds or not, there is no denying that they play some of the most entertaining football in the division, and that is all thanks to Bielsa’s desire to play an attractive, high-pressing game, and most importantly, playing without fear of the opposition. 

Bielsea Talking Tactics


  A Brief History of Marcelo Bielsa



Coaching, Football, Manager Profile