Marcelo Bielsa praises 'imaginative' Pep Guardiola ahead of Leeds vs Man City

"I don't know many other coaches who would be deserving of this type of praise. People are of the opinion that his Barcelona team was one of the best teams in the history of football"

Marcelo Bielsa and Pep Guardiola meet in the Premier League for the first time this weekend when Leeds United play Manchester City
Image: Marcelo Bielsa and Pep Guardiola meet in the Premier League for the first time this weekend when Leeds United play Manchester City

Marcelo Bielsa knows he will face a unique managerial opponent when Leeds host Pep Guardiola's Manchester City on Saturday night.

The pair found themselves in opposing La Liga dug-outs several times when Bielsa was in charge of Athletic Bilbao and Guardiola was head coach at Barcelona.

Bielsa, who is 16 years Guardiola's senior, does not regard himself as a mentor or a source of inspiration to the current City boss, a man he feels is set apart from other coaches by his independence and problem-solving ability.

Guardiola will need to tap into that latter quality at Elland Road on Saturday evening following a 5-2 home defeat to Leicester City in his side's most recent Premier League outing.

"I don't feel like a mentor to Guardiola, there is evidence that that is not the case," he said. "If there is a manager who is independent in his ideas, it is Guardiola.

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"It's not just because I say it, it's because his teams play like no other teams.

"He's imaginative, first of all. He's able to instantly create solutions to problems he encounters and he is able to implement the things he proposes.

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"When you praise someone, it is very important to argue why. We see football in an imaginative way and Guardiola imagines football in terms of freedom in how they propose solutions in the game and how they don't need a lot of time to incorporate that.

"I don't know many other coaches who would be deserving of this type of praise. People are of the opinion that his Barcelona team was one of the best teams in the history of football."

Marcelo Bielsa barks out instructions at Elland Road
Image: Bielsa's Leeds are currently seventh in the Premier League table after a strong start to the season

City recovered from their home defeat to Leicester by winning 3-0 at Burnley in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night and will provide a stern test to the newly-promoted Leeds, but Bielsa said: "They are one of the biggest teams in the PL and we will try to play the same way we always do, we wouldn't know how to do it any other way."

When asked if he felt Guardiola could have enjoyed the same level of success Bielsa has at Leeds, he said: "Without a doubt."

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