Leeds soccer coach Bielsa's idiosyncrasies

Phil Blanche

THE CAREER AND IDIOSYNCRASIES OF THE MAN THEY CALL 'EL LOCO':

* Pitch perfect:

Bielsa is known to check pitch measurements before matches. He doesn't decide on a particular formation until he paces out the pitch. Bielsa's unorthodox approach also stretches to almost obsessive use of videos - editing and analysing for each player - and allocating separate training times for different parts of his squad, with the defenders, midfielders and strikers working alone

* Pep talk:

Bielsa has no shortage of football disciples but perhaps his greatest supporter is Pep Guardiola. The Manchester City manager travelled to Argentina for a meeting with Bielsa in 2006 before taking charge of Barcelona. "My admiration for Bielsa is immense," Guardiola reportedly said. "I have never met a player who has worked with Bielsa and has spoken badly of him. For me, he is the best coach in the world"

* Trademark tactics:

Bielsa's principles are based on aggressive pressing of the ball and intelligent positioning both in defence and attack. He has previously employed a 3-3-1-3 formation which has flummoxed opponents, while his 4-2-3-1 system demands a huge work rate, which can sometimes put him at odds with his players

* Lazio U-turn:

Bielsa spent two days in charge of Lazio in 2016. He was appointed manager of the Serie A club on July 6, but quit just 48 hours later, complaining the club had failed to recruit the players he required. Lazio issued legal action against Bielsa for breach of contract, suing him for 50 million euros ($A80 million), before the coach resurfaced just over a year later at French club Lille

* French leave:

Bielsa's last job at Lille was a short-lived affair. He signed a two-year contract last summer but was suspended in November with Lille second bottom of Ligue 1. It was reported Bielsa went on an unauthorised trip to Chile to visit former national team assistant Luis Bonini, who was battling stomach cancer. He was eventually replaced in December by Christophe Galtier.