'I don't know him' - Jose Mourinho plays down past 'battles' with Marcelo Bielsa as Tottenham Hotspur await Leeds United test

JOSE Mourinho says he is no position to analyse Marcelo Bielsa despite four meetings in La Liga but admits the Leeds United boss is clearly "a very good coach."

By Lee Sobot
Friday, 1st January 2021, 3:17 pm
Updated Friday, 1st January 2021, 3:18 pm

Mourinho and Bielsa will do battle in a first Premier League clash in Saturday's contest in north London as Mourinho's Tottenham Hotspur welcome Bielsa's Leeds for a 12.30pm kick-off.

The two managers have history with Bielsa and Mourinho having faced each other four times during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 La Liga campaigns when Mourinho's Real Madrid played Bielsa's Athletic Bilbao.

Mourinho's side won all four meetings but the Spurs boss said those contests were Real against Bilbao and not Bielsa against Mourinho.

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FIFTH MEETING: Against Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa for Tottenham Hotspur boss Jose Mourinho, above. Photo by Sam Bagnall - AMA/Getty Images.

Bielsa's career and style of play has led to the likes of Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino becoming 'disciples' of United's head coach.

But speaking at his pre-match press conference as quoted by football.london, Mourinho said: "I'm only a disciple of my father and I don't like that situation in football.

"Even younger coaches, even people that worked with me before, I don't like that: 'Oh, they are a disciple of Jose'.

"Everyone is an individual with their own ideas, can be influenced by one or another, but in the end what matters is the individual.

"And I think to speak about Mr Bielsa is for people who know him well. I don't know him well.

"I think he was Athletic Bilbao coach in one of the seasons I was in Real Madrid.

"Now is the first time we're in the Premier League at the same time.

"For sure, he has to be a very good coach but I'm not the person to analyse him because I don't know him even personally.

"I just shook hands a couple of times and that's it."

Asked how to approach contests against Bielsa considering his record of four wins out of four, Mourinho said: "I don't play against Mr Bielsa, never.

"My club played against his club or my team played against his team.

"I don't like that individual situation because that doesn't exist, for sure.

"We analyse our opponents, we did that in relation to Fulham. We did that in relation to Leeds.

"We know where they are very strong and of course we have to try not to let them export their strengths and at the same time we have to try to play our game.

"But I don't like that kind of approach."

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Thank you Laura Collins