Football meets absurdist theatre in Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa's bizarre pre-match interview
Is this actually art?
We weren’t sure what we were letting ourselves in for when Marcelo Bielsa was appointed as Leeds United manager, but we’re already off to an interesting start.
Leeds have had their fair share of curious managerial appointments in the past, including Brian Clough’s infamous 44-day stint, but this always looked like being different.
The Argentine is known as one of the game’s great innovators, displaying his tactical nous during his time in charge of Chile and Athletic Bilbao (among others), but it’s not only on the pitch where he does things differently.
Bielsa famously eschews the traditional place in the dugout, choosing to sit on a cooler instead (or just crouching when there’s no cooler available), while his interview technique is as out-of-the-ordinary as his patented 3-3-1-3 formation.
Leeds United have often been the subject of fun, but often it’s all of their own making, and it’s rarely as endearing as this. It’s tough to predict how their season will go, but it ought to be a fun ride.
Bielsa’s first game in charge of Leeds was shown live on television, and he had a unique way of dealing with the Sky Sports cameras ahead of the 3-1 win.
He is known for never doing one-on-one interviews, though his press conferences can be things of beauty in the eyes of football purists. This, though, was like nothing we’d seen before from a manager.
Bielsa went before the cameras with his interpreter in tow – fair enough, he’s not been in England long and can be forgiven for not being fluent in the language.
However, normally in this scenario, a manager would give his answer to the interpreter, who would relay it to the interviewer. Instead, the interpreter whispered the translation directly to Bielsa so he could answer in the reporter’s native tongue… very succinctly, we might add.
The Leeds boss isn’t the first manager to attract attention for his use of an interpreter, of course, and not even the first Argentine.
Mauricio Pochettino, now in charge of Tottenham, had an interpreter by his side for his first few months in charge of Southampton, to the point that fans began a running joke over him refusing to learn English purely to spite the press.
It seemed to work out okay for him, earning him a move to Spurs, and Bielsa’s unique approach may well continue as long as the results keep coming.
Even as he becomes more fluent in English, if he wants to be able to take his time over his words then who are we to stand in his way?