Next Swansea manager: Bizarre but brilliant Bielsa new favourite
Sam Barnard, Assistant Sports Editor | December 14, 2015
Bielsa favourite to land Swans job
After much speculation surrounding the next Swansea City head coach position, following the recent sacking of Garry Monk, Marcelo Bielsa has suddenly emerged as Coral’s even-money favourite from almost nowhere.
The experienced Argentine, who won Gold at the 2004 Olympic Games with his nation and nearly took Marseille to the 2014/15 Ligue 1 title, would be no soft replacement, however. So, Swans fans can certainly expect dramatic changes and strict discipline if the 60-year-old lands the job.
Bielsa is known as an unorthodox person both on and off the pitch, but has carved out a reputation of being a cult hero due to his personality and ability to instantly improve teams using his own stubborn style.
His unusual, but now-famous, signature 3-3-3-1 formation, which he’s used with the likes of Argentina, Chile, Athletic Bilbao and most recently Marseille, is certainly effective but also can be demanding on players.
Do Swansea have players to compliment Bielsa’s style?
So, would Swansea have the right talent to fit into his methods? Captain and centre back Ashley Williams would no doubt be his main man in the middle of the first three, as a sweeper or libero, in similar vein to Roberto Ayala’s role for Argentina under Bielsa.
Wales skipper Williams would likely be supported by Jordi Amat, who arrived at Espanyol as a kid just after Bielsa’s short spell there, and Argentina’s Federico Fernandez.
Full backs Angel Rangel and Kyle Naughton on the right, and Neil Taylor and Franck Tabanou on the left would compete for two places out wide in the second three, though would have to adapt and push further up the field.
If Bielsa is to stick with his tried and tested formation, he may find it a tougher task to pick the man sandwiched in-between the wing backs.
Jonjo Shelvey would most likely land the role, but faces competition from the likes of other central midfielders Ki Sung-Yueng, Jack Cork and Leon Britton.
There would be a reunion for Bielsa with star Swansea attacker Andre Ayew, who was a crucial part of Marseille’s success last season but left on a free transfer. With the Argentine knowing how to get the best out of the Ghana international, he’d no doubt feature him heavily along with fellow South American Jefferson Montero, of Ecuador, on the wings.
Iceland’s Gylfi Sigurdsson would be the player to link the attack in the number 10 position, just behind frontman Bafetimbi Gomis, who shares similarities with other strikers Bielsa has worked with.
The former France forward is not too dissimilar to Andre-Pierre Gignac and Fernando Llorente, who worked with Bielsa at Marseille and Athletic Bilbao before also moving on. Some could argue that Gomis shares traits with now retired Argentina icons Gabriel Batistuta and Hernan Crespo, although lacking as much talent.
With the France international now plying his trade out in Mexico for Tigres, Swansea could be tempted to reunite the 30-year-old with his former boss to help prepare Gignac for the Euro 2016 finals this summer.
After just winning the Liga MX final with his new club and bagging 15 goals during their campaign, Gignac certainly still has a lot to offer in a top European league.
Can Bielsa be a success or failure?
It is not certain that Bielsa will take over, as he was joint-favourite for the West Ham United job back in the summer, before losing out to Slaven Bilic, so the same could happen again.
The likes of Gus Poyet (9/2 be next Swansea boss), Bielsa’s compatriot, Chile successor and known disciple Jorge Sampaoli (9/1) and Roberto Di Matteo (16/1) are still all in the frame.
But, with a charismatic, obsessive and being borderline crazy (according to some) manager in Bielsa, Swansea will be wishing he takes the reins and steers the club away from the drop zone, which they currently sit just above on goal-difference.
Something certainly needs to drastically change at the club, much like Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, and Bielsa is the perfect man to do so after a run of five losses in six Premier League games. The likes of Pep Guardiola have even stated before he is one of the best bosses around.
Swans fans will be hoping that he wouldn’t turn out to be a Felix Magath at Fulham, though, after the German got them relegated despite coming to England similar in age, with a reputation for getting teams to punch above their weight and tough discipline methods.
In other Bielsa news, two of his former clubs, Marseille and Athletic Bilbao, have been drawn against each other in the last 32 of the Europa League, which you can view here.