August 8, 2021


Bielsa's Bucket: the awesome power behind a Premier League iconAside from the odd sight the Leeds manager provides, doesn't sitting and squatting like that for so long hurt? (Hannah Jane Parkinson, 8 Aug 2021, The Guardian)

You'll see him prowling the touchlines, the lenses of his glasses dappled with droplets of water, his tactical brain scanning the angles of the pitch, then there it is: the squat.

Marcelo Bielsa is known for various eccentricities - his nickname is El Loco Bielsa, madman Bielsa - but the most visible is surely his habit of eschewing the dugout seats to get down low on his haunches, hands clasped between his knees, in the position of a plumber considering the problem with your washing machine.

The Leeds manager's unusual positioning has become something of a trademark, much loved among dedicated Leeds fans but also football fans in general. It is a big contribution to his cult status in the game.

When did this particular Bielsaism begin? And how, I am desperate to know, does a man who is 66 years old manage to hold such a posture for significant periods of time when my knees would crumble to dust in mere seconds?

Tim Rich, who has written a book on Bielsa (The Quality of Madness has a photograph of Bielsa in full squat on the cover) believes the stance began when Bielsa started managing Marseille in 2014. "Before that he didn't crouch. He simply did what most managers do and stood by the touchlines and often got sent to the stands for losing his temper."

But Marseille's stadium, the Stade Vélodrome, has a very low dugout and Bielsa began to sit on an icebox on the sidelines. "You don't get a very good view sitting in that dugout, and soon Bielsa was on the icebox, rather ostentatiously directing his forces."

There was an unfortunate incident when Bielsa sat down on his icebox without realising his assistant had used it to park a cup of hot coffee. Perhaps it was this trauma that led to Bielsa beginning to crouch as well as perch on something solid.

By the time he arrived at Leeds in 2018, this quirk was well-established. When not giving his best impression of an unsupported Rodin's The Thinker, Bielsa choose to sit on an upturned bucket. The Leeds hierarchy soon created a custom, cushioned bucket complete with club insignia. Replicas of this creation even went on sale in the official club shop - for £80. "Bielsa has made bucket manufacturers in Yorkshire very happy," says Rich.

Posted by at August 8, 2021 12:00 AM