An impassioned Marcelo Bielsa warned that football’s obsession with results risked destroying the game as he urged “those who have power” to protect it by accepting the need for entertainment.
Drawing comparisons with global environmental issues, Leeds United’s head coach said a “lack of tolerance” with mixed form in pursuit of attractive football was having negative and long-term effects which would be felt by the sport in future.
The 63-year-old Argentinian - renowned for an engaging style which other elite coaches have sought to study and copy over the past two decades - outlined what he saw as a responsibility to find “the beauty of the game” as he looked ahead to Leeds’ game at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
Bielsa is managing in England for the first time this season but his long-held tactics - ideas he has retained since starting his career in management with Newell’s Old Boys in 1990 - have clicked quickly, taking Leeds to the top of the Championship and earning widespread approval.
The former Argentina boss said he was committed to trusting his methods and blamed the “commercialisation” of football for increasing the pressure on head coaches, encouraging them to disregard the merit of entertaining performances in the interests of results.
“When the team doesn't get what it deserves, sooner or later the fans punish the lack of results,” Bielsa said. “The lack of tolerance regarding the lack of results is stronger that the lack of tolerance when the style is not beautiful. The fans are more willing to wait for the beauty of the game when they have results.
“With the commercialisation of football, when clubs are owned by private people, the result is more important than anything. But the most attractive thing in football is the beauty of the game. Those who invest in football should be aware and take precautions to keep up the level of the business they bought because when a team plays bad, you'll have less fans willing to watch the game.
“You have head coaches like (Manchester City’s Pep) Guardiola who unite both things: beauty and results. He plays well and wins, and increases the value of the club where he works and the players he has.”
In what he admitted was a “disproportionate analogy”, Bielsa said the sport was in danger of suffering significant decline if impatience for success continued to override any interest in the quality of the football on offer.
Leeds’ attacking strategy under Bielsa has seen them dominate possession in every single fixture this season and score more goals in the Championship than every team bar Saturday's opponents, West Brom.
The division is wide open with the top 16 sides separated by 10 points and it has seen just two managerial dismissals so far, Steve Bruce at Aston Villa and Paul Hurst at Ipswich Town.
“I think it’s the responsibility of all to discuss the position of the importance of results above the beauty of the game,” Bielsa said.
“I don't know if the analogy is good - I’m sure it’s not and it’s disproportionate - but the fact that we’re not taking care of the planet, our children will pay the consequences of our acts. With football it will be the same because we are destroying football and in the future we'll see the negative effects.
“Those who have power are responsible for it. The head coaches have power, owners of clubs have power, the media have power and the fans have power. But they don't use it.”