James Shield's Sheffield United Column: When a man Pep Guardiola calls '˜The Greatest' heaped praise on Chris Wilder and his team

Coming from someone described by Pep Guardiola as the "best coach in the world", it was some compliment.

Thursday, 29th November 2018, 6:02 pm
Updated Thursday, 29th November 2018, 6:05 pm
Marcelo Bielsa has expressed his admiration for Chris Wilder

But Marcelo Bielsa, a man held in equally high esteem by the likes of Diego Simeone, Marcelo Gallardo and Mauricio Pochettino, believes Chris Wilder's methods are also worthy of further scrutiny.

"I would say the Sheffield United head coach is someone with new ideas and I have seen very few people with these," the Argentine, whose Leeds team visits Bramall Lane this weekend, confessed during his pre-match media conference earlier today. "Head coaches look at colleagues to learn from them and we want to learn new things, not what everyone else is doing.

Marcelo Bielsa brings his Leeds squad to Bramall Lane this weekend

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"Usually when you observe someone, you don't observe what you see everyday, you observe new things.The ideas of our next opponent deserve to be studied."

Responsible for turning Chile into one of the most exciting teams on the planet, leading his own country to Olympic gold and Newell's Old Boys and Velez Sarsfield to Primera Division titles, Bielsa is no starry-eyed novice making his way in the business. Guardiola made a pilgrimage to South America, seeking the 63-year-old's counsel, before taking charge of Barcelona.

Credited with inventing the 3-3-3-1 formation, El Loco, it is fair to say, knows a thing or two about the game.   

So to hear Bielsa talking in such terms about Wilder, expressing admiration for the way United's play, is a badge of honour. Not only for their manager, staff and squad. But also the club as a whole. Proof that, regardless of the result against their Yorkshire rivals, something very special is happening at Bramall Lane.

Chris Wilder has changed the way centre-halves play: David Klein/Sportimage

"I saw things in Sheffield United that I wanted to develop and I couldn't do it,' Bielsa continued. 'I don't know the history of the head coach, but he has done very well."

Although he refused to elaborate, United's over-lapping centre-halves allied with two forward thinking wing backs are likely to have piqued Bielsa's interest. It is something which really should not work. Indeed, according to more conventional thinkers, the idea sounds like bedlam. A complete and utter mess.

But thanks to some assiduous planning on the training ground, the outcome is an attractive brand of football which has enabled United to punch above their weight.

And who knows? When he is next sought out by a bright young talent, Bielsa might pass them a DVD of Wilder's charges and say "Mira eso. That's the way to do things." 

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says Marcelo Bielsa is the best coach in the world: Nick Potts/PA Wire.