The man who set the foundations for Chile to become a dominant force in world football should be considered for the Socceroos job according to former colleagues of Marcelo Bielsa who are urging Football Federation to consider his application.
The 62-year-old former Chile, Argentina, Lille and Athletic Bilbao coach is understood to be interested in taking the Socceroos to the 2018 World Cup in Russia and already several intermediaries have reached out to Football Federation .
Any potential appointment remains up to two months away however Bielsa’s former right-hand man with the Chilean national team has thrown his support behind a coach he credits with laying the platform of Chile’s consecutive Copa America titles.
Juan Carlos Berliner spent four years working alongside Bielsa while team manager of the Chilean national team as he forged stars such as Umberto Suazo, Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal and Gary Medel as well as built the framework that later delivered the small country back-to-back Copa America titles. Berliner sees many similarities between and the Chilean team Bielsa took over in 2007 and believes the coach could achieve similar results with the Socceroos.
“He’s different to any coach that I had met before him and I think he did a very great job with not only the Chilean national team, I think he did a very great job in the country and changed the way the country sees football and Chilean expectations about the national team,” Berliner said. “I think it’s a very good name for a country like thinking in the future.”
An obsessive work ethic, meticulous attention to detail, penchant for attacking and possession-based football and a heavy use of video analysis is what sets the Argentinian coach apart from many in world football. He’s built a reputation of a demanding high work rate from his players that’s provided significant results but at times, wore thin quickly at some clubs. He plays risky, attacking football and is famous for his 3-3-1-3 favoured formation that earned him his nickname, “El Loco”.
His style of play is an aggressive, high pressing game that is understood to have heavily influenced ‘s former coach, Ange Postecoglou. However, his training methods are targeted to specifics of match situations, often separating defenders, midfielders and strikers in segregated sessions.
“It’s very different the way Bielsa trains,” Berliner said. “He does short sessions with a group of players training in particular football situations, with groups of forwards, midfielders and including the goalkeeper.”
It’s his heavy reliance of video analysis that makes him unique, according to Berliner. Bielsa compiles and edits footage for every player in a squad and runs through analysis of previous games and instructions for upcoming matches in private one-on-one meetings.
“Bielsa does very intensive pre-game trainings with every player. He has a video for every player not only for the things he has done well but personal analysis with each person before the game,” Berliner said.
A number of agents have put forward Bielsa to Football Federation since the Argentinian coach departed French club Lille. The coach’s playing philosophy and style would not so much as represent a continuation of Postecoglou’s work, but accelerate that under the eyes of the FFA. However, the organisation is still in the early stages of identifying a candidate to replace Postecoglou and if there’s a stumbling block holding back Bielsa’s application, it could potentially be the restrictions in communication given he doesn’t speak English. There are concerns about asking price as well as the ever-present risk of his intense, obsessive character not being well received by n players. However it appears one of world football’s cult-heroes is interested in changing n football’s perception.
“Bielsa always supports challenges … and I think is a challenge for him,” Berliner said. “We were a simple team before Bielsa. After that, we became a strong team in the football world … I think can make a big step in the football world with Bielsa working with them.”