Marcelo Bielsa returns to football. The 67-year-old Argentine coach, who is as respected in the world as he is questioned in his country, will lead the Uruguay team. It will be his third national team after the six years that Argentina led (1998-2004) with failure in the 2002 World Cup between them, and the four (2007-2011) that Chile led to lay the foundations of a team that dominated. America years later. The Uruguayan Football Association (AUF) has not made an official announcement, but according to national media reports, the coach is already in Montevideo and will sign his contract next Monday. It will be four million dollars per season with a goal and an end date: the 2026 World Cup.
Bielsa has not directed since being sent off in February 2022 from the bench at Leeds United in England. His adventure in the UK, four years during which he managed to promote the team to the Premier League after 16 seasons in the second tier and ended up leaving abruptly after a series of defeats, is a mirror of a coach who rose to the category of legend for having inalienable principles.
His preference for man-to-man marking, ball possession and attacking play is less well known than his motivational speeches and search for a higher ethic than sporting success. At Leeds, they still remember the 2019 game against Aston Villa, in the middle of the battle for promotion, in which the manager ordered his team to allow themselves to score the equalizer after taking the lead while an opponent player demanded to be seen by doctors. Some of the players from that course also say that a coach once interrupted practices to hand out plastic bags for them to go out and pick up trash from the property.
Looks like Uruguay needs that epic right now. In March, they drew with Japan and beat South Korea in a minimum of two friendlies, but the last picture they left to the world was one of tragedy: on December 2, Uruguay beat Ghana 2-0 in their third World Cup match. It wasn’t enough and they were eliminated in the group stage. Historic Luis Suarez was crying on the substitute bench, defender Jose Maria Gimenez was chasing the camera as he yelled against refereeing, and coach Diego Alonso blamed FIFA for the points he lost in previous matches. Alonso had taken over the team’s head coach a year earlier to fill some huge shoes: Oscar Washington Tabarez, the coach who celebrated a 15-year era with the team, was abruptly fired after a series of defeats that put the rating down. In danger of the World Cup. After the disaster in Qatar and the end of the cycle of a group of players who shone in the past decade, the Confederation of African Football renewed its powers and dispensed with its technical director.
Rumors that the chosen one would be Marcelo Bielsa began circulating almost two months ago. “It is a matter of hours. It is something that is practically defined, but it is a contract that has a complexity”, summed up the new AUF Vice-President, Gaston Tilde, In a radio interview this week. The weeks discussions closed this Thursday after Bielsa agreed to a contract proposal. The Argentine will be the second foreign coach to lead the Uruguay national team, which won the World Cup for the first time in 1930 and repeated the title two decades later, after the short period that Daniel Passarella, also of Argentina, spent between 2000 and 2001. Be a stranger in the next qualifying rounds: he is the seventh Argentine to have He coaches a South American team.
The challenge has the prestige of a coach who has toured the world without leaving indifferent fans like Leeds himself, Newell’s from Rosario, Athletic Bilbao or Olympique de Marseille. In Chile football made him his school. In the city of Rosario they christened a stadium in his honor. In Leeds, fans have renamed the city center lane after a lane of their own. Which is not unusual in Uruguay: the newspaper Country He said on Thursday that Bielsa enjoyed walking the city streets for years, and one day he went to ask for a bath on a local radio station without being recognized. When they realized who the visitor was, they called the service after him. This may be the first tribute to another revival vitality
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