'Certain idols, in certain places, are impossible to imitate' - new Marseille boss Jorge Sampaoli on Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa

Jorge Sampaoli is once again following in the footsteps of his 'reference point' Marcelo Bielsa but says he's not out to imitate the Leeds United head coach.

Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 1:12 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 1:16 pm
CLOSE IDEOLOGY - Jorge Sampaoli talked about Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa as a reference point as he began work as the new Marseille boss this week. Pic: Getty

Sampaoli has been appointed at Ligue 1 Marseille, the club Bielsa managed for the 2014/15 season, having already experienced two of Bielsa's former jobs as head coach of both Chile and Argentina.

The man who managed Leeds to promotion from the Championship to the Premier League remains a popular figure for OM fans, so Sampaoli was inevitably going to face questions about his compatriot this week.

Bielsa is, he says, someone he follows closely. But he's keen to make his own mark.

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"Bielsa is a reference point for many coaches," he said.

"For me he has been. I have followed his teams a lot. I feel very close to his ideology, his way of playing.

"But I'm not going to try to be him or resemble him. I'm going to try in my own way to change things very quickly.

"I believe that certain idols, in certain places, are impossible to imitate. It's a project concerning the here and now. I'm not interested in being remembered; I want to help redress a difficult situation and return joy and hope to the fans. I am totally dedicated to that."

Diego Simeone once said there was 'no comparison' to be made between Bielsa and Sampaoli, both men who had influenced him.

"They have left a mark, but I see no comparison between Bielsa and Sampaoli," he said.

"I see [in Sampaoli] a great coach with very clear ideas but I never like comparisons."

Reports in France suggested Sampaoli consulted with Bielsa on the phone before taking the job.

Speaking to Canal Football Club, Bielsa said Sampaoli, a Copa America winner with Chile who has taken charge of Sevilla, Santos and most recently won the Campeonato Mineiro with Atlético Mineiro, has experience that speaks for itself.

“He is a very well known manager, he was the Argentina manager, for Chile, he has won major titles in South America, he has managed in Europe," said the Leeds boss.

"So no matter what opinion I give, his experience speaks for him.”

Marseille sit eighth in Ligue 1. They suspended previous boss Andre Villas-Boas following disagreements over 'sporting policy.'