'I don't buy it' - Paul Merson questions Marcelo Bielsa 'genius' tag after sluggish Leeds United start

Paul Merson has questioned whether Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa truly deserves the “genius” tag with which he is often labelled.

Sunday, 10th October 2021, 7:30 am
Marcelo Bielsa, Manager of Leeds United. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

The veteran Argentine is renowned for his relentless brand of attacking football, and counts the likes of Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino among his vocal advocates.

But Leeds have made a sluggish start to their Premier League campaign, taking one win from their opening seven matches, and Merson has questioned whether Bielsa is truly one of the elite coaches in world football.

Writing in a column for the Daily Star, the Sky Sports pundit said: “I’ve never quite understood this ‘genius’ tag which some people attach to Marcelo Bielsa.

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“Don’t get me wrong, I do think he’s good and I totally respect the opinion of a top coach like Pep Guardiola who can’t praise the Leeds boss highly enough.

“But I just don’t get it. Just my opinion but a valid one nonetheless. I don’t buy into it.

“Leeds have hit a brick wall and he needs to change things around. The trouble is, I don’t think he’s got a change in him. Whatever the ‘B’ stands for in Plan B, it’s not Bielsa. He hasn’t got one.

“His teams are full blast from the word go. They are great to watch as a neutral but it’s predictable and now Premier League coaches are wise to it.

“Anyone surprised that Leeds have only won once this season, perhaps shouldn’t be. Teams are changing the way they play them.

“It’s no mean feat getting a side up from the Championship and keeping them in the Premier very comfortably. That is an achievement in itself and one for which Bielsa should take tons of credit.

“When they joined the top flight they were a breath of fresh air. You knew you were going to get a game and they had a superb first season back.

“But they haven’t kicked on and I just can’t see any way they are going to finish in the top six or eight.

“I like Bielsa, but if you ask me to say whether I thought he could ever go anywhere and win anything, the answer would have to be ‘no.’

“Leeds aren’t going to be anywhere near going down despite their poor start. They will be okay.”