By John Miller
Wednesday the 29th of November, 2017
Marcelo Bielsa was once a feted man in world soccer. His qualities were obvious. Spending every waking moment studying ways to give his team an edge, not wasting time on frivolous events. He famously refused to go to the draw in Korea prior to the 2002 world cup, when his Argentina were seeded 2nd in the world, just after Brazil.
Brazil went on the win the World Cup, and Argentina were knocked out in a Group of Death that featured Sweden, England and Nigeria.
LOL, the Poms were good at soccerball back then, and beat the Argies 1-0. David Beckham from a penalty. Ooh that must have stung.
Before the tournament Bielsa declared his team were joint favourites, and mind you this was back in the days before 7 – 1, when Brazil were famous not only for Uma Delicia and girl with benis, but for being Soccer gods.
“I celebrate the fact that we’ve been handed matches that make life worth living,” Bielsa had said when notified he would be playing England in Korea.
When he was coach of Argentina his pool of talent was somewhat deeper than he can expect if he decides to grace the Antipodeans. Up front he had the most expensive striker in history, Hernan Crespo, and his midfield general Juan Sebastian Veron was the subject of the highest fee ever paid by a British club, back in the days before Man United was shite. What a waste of money LOL. No, not you Crespo, the other guy.
“Really, it’s a rich squad,” he admitted. No duh.
Bielsa’s squad didn’t make it as far as Daniel Passarellas, who got his men to the quarter-finals in France in ’98.
Before the World Cup in 2002 the football-soccer media were all raving about the coach’s contribution, and it was universally acknowledged he forged them into a potentially great team. And they were.
This is the guy Australia needs, to get us out of the Micky Mouse tier of football and stepping back up to where we were when Guus was there. Why and how, you ask?
Nobody is expecting Australia to win trophies, but we ought to be expecting them get out of the group stage, and with Ange Poscode OUT and Bielsa likely to come IN, this suddenly looks possible again.
The Dutch-style total football of Louis van Gaal’s Ajax in 1995 is the code that guys like Bielsa live and breath. It is nothing new anymore, and nothing that our team can’t master in the long-run. Meanwhile, if there is a Veron or a Crespo lurking in our squad, then Bielsa is just the kind of guy who will give him a chance to shine.
The long ball will get Australia nowhere in the long run, and I will actually pay good money to see the Socceroos after working hard to win the ball back then attacking at pace and in waves, and playing as much as possible in the opposition half.
Argentina lost only one of their 18 World Cup qualifiers in the lead-up to 2002, going down away to Brazil, winning 13 and drawing four, and scoring 42 goals in the process.
Since 2002 Bielsa has earned a reputation as a guy that can make things happen for a national squad.
He is still a cult hero in Chile, for what he did to whip their national squad back into shape. Since 2011 he has been a middling manager in European football, where lazy disinterested show ponies with no pride at stake have failed to showcase his unique set of managerial talents.
Bielsa is a risk taker, who earned the moniker El Loco for playing with two teenage centre-backs, but he had the last laugh when his Velez Sarsfield side WON THE LEAGUE.
Bielsa is notorious for attention to detail and studious video-watching, and was once called the most attack-minded coach in the world.
El Loco is clearly the man to make Australia go mad for soccer-ball. Lille are probably going to give him the sack today. Bring it on.
Full disclosure: John Miller’s IRL name is Frank Faulkner. I’m an Aussie and when I’m not obsessing about Conservative politics or defending Trump I also enjoy various sports and Christian activities.