Thursday, October 28

Cube de Bielsa: the amazing power behind a Premier League icon | Marcelo bielsa

You’ll see him prowling the sidelines, his goggle lenses splattered with water droplets, his tactical brain scanning the angles of the field, and there it is: the squat.

Marcelo Bielsa is known for various eccentricities – his nickname is El Loco Bielsa, crazy Bielsa – but the most visible is surely his habit of avoiding the bench seats to squat down, his hands clasped between his knees, in the position of a plumber. considering the problem with your washing machine.

The unusual positioning of the Leeds manager has become something of a trademark, highly regarded among dedicated Leeds fans, but also football fans in general. It is a great contribution to his cult status in the game.

When did this particular bielsaism begin? And how, I’m desperate to know, does a 66-year-old man manage to hold that posture for significant periods of time when my knees crumble to dust in a matter of seconds?

Tim Rich, who has written a book on Bielsa (The quality of madness has a picture of Bielsa squatting on the cover) believes the stance started when Bielsa started coaching Marseille in 2014. “Before he didn’t squat. He just did what most managers do and stayed on the sidelines and was often sent to the stands for losing his temper. “

But the Marseille stadium, the Stade Vélodrome, has a very low bench and Bielsa began to sit in a refrigerator on the sidelines. “You don’t have very good eyesight sitting in that dugout, and soon Bielsa was in the fridge, directing his forces quite ostentatiously.”

There was an unfortunate incident when Bielsa sat on her fridge without her assistant noticing I had used it to park a hot cup of coffee. Perhaps it was this trauma that made Bielsa begin to crouch and perch on something solid.

When he arrived in Leeds in 2018, this quirk was well established. When he doesn’t give his best impression of The Unsupported Rodin Thinker, Bielsa decides to sit on an overturned bucket. The Leeds hierarchy soon created a custom padded cube with the club’s insignia. Replicas of this creation even went on sale in the club’s official store – for £ 80. “Bielsa has made the Yorkshire bucket makers very happy,” says Rich.

Elland Road has a sunken dugout similar to the terrain of Marseille. Rich reminds me that Alex Ferguson had the Old Trafford dugouts rebuilt – the home court was higher than the visitor for a slight managerial advantage. Ole Gunnar Solskjær has gotten used to sitting in the back of that dugout to get a higher view, like Ferguson did before him.

Marcelo Bielsa watches from his favorite vantage point.
Marcelo Bielsa watches from his favorite vantage point. Photograph: Robin Jones / Getty Images

It seems a bit odd, then, that Bielsa makes sure he’s not sitting in a low dugout and then crouches close enough to smell the grass. But there may well be additional motivations.

The Argentine comes from a family of politicians: Rich compares the clan to the Benn dynasty in the United Kingdom, so Bielsa will recognize the power that props and symbols can have, open or not.

A little more prosaically, Bielsa is well known for having long-standing back problems. He walk instead of drive to the club’s Thorp Arch training ground, which is supposed to help. It has been argued that his bending over relieves tension. Rich also notes that Bielsa used to be prone to outbursts and has calmed down since entering the bending era.

However, I am still very impressed that I can handle it physically. I ask Steve Caulfield, a Bromley, London-based personal trainer who has the kind of thighs that can crush watermelons, for his opinion. Caulfield says that lsa, as a former player, likely developed a sense of strength, coordination and conditioning from a young age.

Caulfield says, “It appears that Bielsa has excellent hip flexibility and the low squat relies on the mobility of her hips, knees, back, and ankles.” It agrees with the back pain relief theory. “It may be more comfortable for him than a sitting position on his lower back. There was a lot of unsatisfactory research in the 1960s and 1970s on protecting your back by not bending over or squatting.

“But children can often be found sitting in this position for hours while playing; It comes naturally to us. So Bielsa has obviously ignored that and at 66 still makes it seem quite relaxing. “

A mural of Marcelo Bielsa in the pose of Christ the Redeemer in Leeds.
A mural of Marcelo Bielsa in the pose of Christ the Redeemer in Leeds. Photograph: Peter Powell / EPA

Even though I fall within seconds of scrubbing my bathroom floor, Caulfield says we could all emulate Bielsa’s squat. “Even taking five minutes a day can make sedentary adults improve their flexibility. A good starting point is to lie on your back and drop your knees to the side.

“Over time you can push your knees towards the ground, working on the rotation of your hips. As with all forms of movement, consistency is key. Bielsa has been doing it for years, so it’s still comfortable for her. “

I love the idea of ​​young Leeds fans doing Bielsa squats in the local parks, rather than copying how Patrick Bamford hits the ball at home. To Explain The Popularity Of The Squat: The Leeds Podcaster That Micky P Kerr Recorded And Released a song titled Bucket Man to the tune of Elton John’s Rocket Man, now enthusiastically sung on the terraces. So this The King of Elland Road (“With your cube as your throne”) by fan Paul Wilson. There are at least three Twitter accounts dedicated to the cube.

The twin idiosyncrasies of bucket and squat, then, are confirmed phenomena. They live up to other management hallmarks: Jürgen Klopp’s clear glasses and simian chest pounding or character marks from the past like Alex Ferguson and his penchant for furious chewing gum and Arsène Wenger’s sleeping bag (defunct but Never forgotten).

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All this attention has led to Bielsa being asked about the squat, the posed cube. “It belongs to the folklore found in football,” said a journalist.

“You want me to tell you more than it is,” replied the manager. “It’s just a bucket. I have nothing to add. “But then a pause and a flick of the eyebrows, and he added something.” It’s a comfortable bucket. ”

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