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Wednesday, July 6, 2022

The “healthy” Bielsa

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Marcelo Bielsa during a game at Leeds last season.Rui Vieira / SWIMMING POOL (EFE)

This week, Jon Rivas said that Marcelo Bielsa’s first response to Athletic’s presidential candidate Iñaki Arechabaleta, who managed to persuade the Argentina coach to return to Bilbao, was a curt ‘let me study it’. Rosario’s life is full of phrases like these: short in origin but ultimately becoming a daunting, often obsessive task that prompted him on this occasion to review last season’s 45 first-team games. Also the 38 from Bilbao Athletic and many others from Basconia, the youth team and of course future rivals. Almost four hundred games in all, to end up with a diagnosis that demonstrates the spirit and honesty of a unique character in the history of football: “The team is playing well, I like them. The best thing for Athletic would be Marcelino’s continuity.”

Months ago, before he was dismissed as Leeds United coach, Bielsa himself told his DAZN colleagues in an interview about the origin of his famous nickname and its connection with excess. Or at least where he believes, because not even there is this Argentine character fully exhaustive Shakespeare. When he began working in the lower divisions of Newell’s, he coincided with Carlos Picerni in the structure set up by Jorge Griffa. “He trained for three ages and I was only one, but my team’s workouts lasted longer than all three of his combined… And then he started telling me I was crazy,” he explains, looking at the floor Interlocutor to whom Bielsa devotes most of his time. As in so many other stories that make up his biography, not even he himself seems able to distinguish between reality and legend.

From his character, his proven performance and his firm commitment to young talents, it can be deduced that Bielsa is above all and above all a creator, almost a craftsman, whose conviction has shaped countless large companies. soccer player. The last of them, current object of desire for some big clubs in the Premier, Kalvin Phillips, speaks of him almost in terms of authorship, as if somehow willing to cede his trademark rights to him. “The day my call-up to the national team was announced, he called me, told me how proud he was of me and gave me a jersey from his time as a player,” says a visibly moved Phillips. “That’s why I gave him the jersey of my debut with the professional.

His critics, who do not stop discrediting him – especially in Argentina and in a similar tone to that against Messi, who knows if against all Rosario in general – keep emphasizing the impact of literature on everything that surrounds Bielsa. And they say it as something derogatory, unable to decipher the football legacy the character always leaves behind. It won’t be a problem if Arechabaleta wins: in Bilbao they know he’s healthy and that’s why they love him like crazy.

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