Leeds United: Raphinha rejects suggestions that Marcelo Bielsa is a ‘cold’ coach

Leeds United winger Raphinha has rejected claims that Marcelo Bielsa is a “cold” coach, saying the Argentine is more akin to a “father figure”.

Bielsa, who took over at Leeds in 2018 and guided them back to the Premier League in the 2019/20 season, is known for his tactical prowess and often calculated approach to football, but there is more to the 65-year-old than that, Raphinha said.

“It’s been great to work with Bielsa,” the Brazilian told Four Four Two. “He’s always trying to make things better and improve the standards of everything and everyone, and the only way to do that is through hard work.

“Bielsa is a demanding manager, but that’s normal for top professionals. It’s important to mention his human side, too: He cares for everyone and tries to see how he can help every individual to get better.

“In a big squad, some guys naturally don’t get as much game time as they’d like, and it would be easy for them to feel a little bit down. But then Bielsa comes to talk to them, explains his reasons and keeps everyone motivated.

“Some people don’t appreciate the importance of that, but I do. Sometimes players need this attention and the support of their leader.

“In football, the coach is often a father figure for players. He wants to get the very best out of them but cares as well. It’s not a cold relationship, and that’s definitely the case with Bielsa. It’s easy to work with him.”

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Tenth-placed Leeds earned a shock Premier League win over leaders Manchester City on Saturday, with Stuart Dallas scoring either side of captain Liam Cooper’s sending-off to give Bielsa’s team a 2-1 victory against the odds.

“As an attacker, it’s always great to be as close to the other team’s goal as possible and that’s the case at Leeds,” Raphinha said.

“We try to play football without fear, which is enjoyable. No matter the opponent or score, we want to put the pressure on and be aggressive. That approach helps every player to show their talent.”

“For me, the most beautiful thing in football is seeing both sides play with bravery and to try to win the match. That’s the bright side of football.”

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