Why Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa is forever indebted to Newell's Old Boys

Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa on Newell's Old Boys.
Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa on Newell's Old Boys.
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Newell’s Old Boys class it as a donation and a very generous one at that. Marcelo Bielsa counts the £3m he is using to fund training facilities for the team he supported, played for and coached as the repayment of a debt; a debt he owes to the “club who formed me.”

A new five-story complex, designed by Biesla’s architect sister Maria Eugenia, is due to open at Newell’s training ground next week and it emerged in Argentina on Monday that Bielsa had personally financed the project with a sum of cash greater than his annual wage as Leeds United head coach.

Newell’s will benefit from vastly improved resources, including video rooms and sleeping quarters for their first-team players, and were aided throughout the process by support from Bielsa and his family.

Bielsa grew up as a Newell’s fan and later turned out as a centre-back for the club but his first coaching job came in Rosario and his success in winning two titles earned him iconic status.

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Speaking today, Bielsa played down his financial contribution, calling it “just a small gesture”, but said the facilities could help Newell’s to reach a higher competitive level.

“From the club who formed me, I received more from Newell’s Old Boys than what I gave to them,” Bielsa said. “I’m actually paying a debt to Newell’s Old Boys rather than making a gift.

“Two things are important: the quality of players and the quality of the preparation they receive. Infrastructure means you can improve the preparation.”

Newells won domestic championships under Bielsa in 1990 and 1992 but last claimed silverware five years ago. As it stands, they are fifth from bottom in Argentina’s Superliga.

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Their new training complex has been dubbed the Jorge Griffa Hotel after the famous Newell’s scout who worked as assistant to Bielsa and help bring success to the club.

“When you have things that build the stability of a club, this makes the club more attractive,” Bielsa said. “When the organisation of a club is efficient, you’ll have football players who want to come. You also have coaches who want to work at the club.

“Anything you can do to raise the standards is very important. The essence of Newell’s Old Boys is important, the people who support the club. The training ground is a very interesting one and they work a lot with young players there. What I did is just a small gesture towards the club.”