Marcelo Bielsa, equipped with his bucket and an unreadable gaze, is rapidly becoming the most recognisable man in Leeds. But who are the staff behind him in the dug-out and which coaches make up the substantial backroom team Bielsa has put together at Elland Road?
Here is an overview of the hierarchy beneath him at Thorp Arch:
Pablo Quiroga - assistant
Quiroga, a fellow Argentinian who was born near Buenos Aires, has been a long-time ally of Bielsa’s in club football. Having worked with him first with Chile’s national team, he was part of Bielsa’s staff at Athletic Bilbao, Marseille and Lille and a guaranteed inclusion in his corp at Leeds United. Now 36, Quiroga started out as a PE teacher and had only minor experience in amateur football before Bielsa first enlisted him as his “virtual blackboard”, to quote one South American journalist. His talent is in video analysis.
Diego Reyes - assistant
Chilean Reyes, 37, is an out-and-out coach and the man who took the initial training sessions at Lille after Bielsa’s appointment as manager. The pair have been together since 2008 when Bielsa drafted him into the fold with Chile and he is arguably Bielsa’s most trusted lieutenant. The story went that an unknown Reyes turned up at the complex where Chile were training and asked for work. Bielsa gave him video clips to edit and their relationship developed quickly to the point where Reyes became part of the Argentinian’s ‘iron circle’ of assistants. He has followed the 63-year-old to every job since.
Diego Flores - assistant
A technical coach who has been on the scene for a considerably shorter time than Quiroga and Reyes. Flores, also 37, linked up with Bielsa for the first time at Marseille after leaving Argentina to study in Ireland. Bielsa kept him in tow when he took the head coach’s position at Lille and brought him to England too.
Carlos Corberan - first team coach/development coach
Very prominent in Bielsa’s technical area throughout the summer and since the start of the season. Corberan, who was recruited to coach Leeds’ Under-23s last season, has been moulded into something of a go-between at Thorp Arch. United say he is “integral to the first-team set-up” - as proven by the fact that he has been present at every game and involved in Bielsa’s training sessions - but will retain “special responsibility for creating a pathway for the Under-23s and Under-18s, and ensuring consistency of football philosophy”. Corberan gained managerial experience in Cyprus and Middle East but is better known in his homeland of Spain for a long stint as Villarreal’s number two. He has the advantage of being able to speak Spanish and English.
Salim Lamrani - translator
Lamrani is not, or was not, a football man by trade. A multilingual university lecturer specialising in Iberian and Latin American Studies, he has written at length about relations between Cuba and the United States and was described in one newspaper as being “one of France’s best connoisseurs on Cuba”.
He appeared alongside Bielsa at Lille, accompanying the Argentinian to every press conference and working as his translator. Lamrani is a lifelong Marseille supporter and took a keen interest in Bielsa’s work during his time as head coach there, writing once how Bielsa had “offered the French championship the most beautiful football of the last 20 years.” The pair met in South America while Lamrani was lecturing and Bielsa invited the Frenchman to join him at Lille where he provided translation for both Bielsa and some of the players.
Bielsa has a certain way with the media, refusing all one-on-one interviews in the belief that no individual writer deserves to hear more from him than any other. He is in the process of learning English but Lamrani, on Bielsa’s first appointment in this country, has had the job of getting his message across, sitting with him at all of his pre-match and post-match press conferences.
Marcos Abad - goalkeeping coach
Drafted in after the appointment of Thomas Christiansen, replacing Darryl Flahavan, and survived the culls of staff which followed the sackings of Christiansen and Paul Heckingbottom. Abad never played professionally but he has a UEFA Pro licence and was goalkeeping coach for Elche and Middlesbrough - on both occasions as part of a team which included Leeds’ director of football Victor Orta - before arriving at Elland Road.
Benoit Delaval - fitness coach
Delaval is a French fitness coach who evidently impressed Bielsa during the Argentinian’s short and torrid spell as Lille’s boss. Delaval’s history with Lille went back much further - 12 years back, to 2006 - and he has been working in professional football throughout his career having studied sports science in Clairefontaine, France’s national football centre. He stayed on at Lille after Bielsa’s dismissal last December but came to Leeds in the summer after Bielsa decided not to enlist his long-standing fitness expert, Gabriel Macaya. According to Delaval’s LinkedIn profile, he earned a UEFA A licence in 2011.
Ruben Crespo - fitness coach
Another fitness coach who came to Leeds from Hull City in June. He was Hull’s head of fitness for 18 months having originally joined the club in 2016. His CV shows prior stints in Thailand and Russia, where he worked for Torpedo Avarmir. He grew up and studied in Spain at universities in La Coruna and Vigo.
Jorge García Valera - analyst
Valera is a Spanish analyst whose last job was at Atletico Madrid. Levante had employed him previously. He is another new addition to the backroom team.