El Centrocampista

BIELSA TO BARÇA? How El Loco could be the man to follow Guardiola

Barcelona will target current Athletic Bilbao coach Marcelo Bielsa should Pep Guardiola depart the club according to reports that surfaced in Spanish daily AS this week.

Speculation that Guardiola will leave the La Liga champions at the end of the season has been rife, with a move to a club in another league or a year-long sabbatical both seen as options for the 40-year-old. The man himself has told everyone to be “calm” over the contract situation, with Barcelona fans in particular obviously worrying that they will lose one of the most successful managers in recent times.

“People need to be calm,” Guardiola told Barcelona’s official website.

“I know what I’m doing. I know when I have to do it and how it needs to be done.

“It always helps the stability of the club. When I make that decision I will contact the president [Sandro Rosell].”

From this, it seems that the former Barcelona captain is yet to make a decision on his managerial future. However, it is widely believed that he will be staying on for at least another season. With this in mind, Barcelona officials are reportedly making plans for his replacement, and that man is ‘El Loco’.

The fact that Bielsa is seen as a potential successor at the Nou Camp highlights just how well respected the man and his methods are within the game. His eccentric and individual approach to the game is refreshing as well as extremely exciting to watch.

Those at Barcelona will have taken note of the way he led the Chilean national side into the 2010 World Cup.

They attacked – and then attacked even more – no matter who they came up against. The style thrilled all those watching across the world, he got the best out of average players and made the world-class talents shine even more.

Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez – the jewel of that Chile side – was one of the main players to benefit from Bielsa’s quick-pressing, free-flowing, counter-attacking tactics.

Even Guardiola himself has commented on the possibility of Bielsa taking over the reigns should – or when – he leaves.

“I have no doubt he would be a success,” said Guardiola.

“You know the opinion I have about him – his ability is unquestionable.”

An ‘unquestionable ability’ in the eyes of the manager of the current European champions. If Guardiola has any input into who replaces him, then he is sure to be a front runner for the role.

With his ability already confirmed, the question as to whether or not he can handle one of the biggest jobs in football can only be answered through his past roles.

He has led Chile and Argentina to World Cups, an Olympic tournament and the Copa America, and though in terms of trophies it isn’t a mind-blowing return, in terms of legacy and style – there is no doubt.

The stumbling block in all of this, of course, is that he is the manager of Athletic Bilbao. A club of distinct style and legacy themselves, the appointment of ‘El Loco’ was seen as a perfect match when it was announced.

And, although, it has taken some time for the squad to get used to the changes implemented by Bielsa; fans and neutrals can see it coming together.

Also, who says Bielsa will want to leave the club?

This is a club that values incredible loyalty and Bielsa himself will know exactly what he was signing up for when he joined. The 56-year-old has actually spoken publicly about the reported interest from the Catalan giants – typically straightforward in his refusal to feed the speculation.

“Because of my own prudence, I never comment on hypothetical situations,” he told reporters on Monday evening.

“I have just given my answer. There are a lot of things that I would like to do and they will continue to be hypothetical situations and I will avoid talking about them. Aside from which this is not an innocent question that one can just answer freely.”

Who knows what will happen in the future? Bielsa could go on at Athletic Club and claim an all-important trophy, or he could continue to innovate at one of the greatest sides we’ve ever seen in Barceloa.

However, one thing is certain – wherever ‘El Loco’ ends up; his side will continue to entertain football fans across the world.


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