Why Marcelo Bielsa Would Be the Smart Choice to Replace Benitez at Chelsea

Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterJanuary 29, 2013

MADRID, SPAIN - AUGUST 27:  Head coach Marcelo Bielsa of Athletic Club before the La Liga match between Club Atletico de Madrid and Athletic Club, at Vicente Calderon Stadium on August 27, 2012 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

As much as some fans may have warmed to him, and as much as he longs for it himself, Rafa Benitez has almost no chance of securing the Chelsea manager's job on a long-term basis.

The Spaniard simply can't escape the label of "interim head coach" despite clearly looking out for the best short-term and long-term interests of the club; he's looking at Jack Butland (via Sky Sports), sent Lucas Piazon on loan (via The Daily Mail) and signed Demba Ba in a successful month of business.

Roman Abramovich will conduct his seemingly annual search for a new manager this summer and who better to fill the void than Marcelo Bielsa?

The way the Blues' managerial merry-go-round works, an experienced campaigner who's stubborn and just a little bit crazy is the smart choice.

Fans will draw up their own lists, and on them will be several well-credentialed, young tacticians. World football, due to it's new-found acceptance of young coaches who are thinkers, is teeming with promising coaches.


Manager Age Team
Juergen Klopp 45 Borussia Dortmund
Antonio Conte 43 Juventus
Andrea Stramaccioni 37 Internazionale
Roberto Martinez 39 Wigan Athletic
Vincenzo Montella 38 Fiorentina
Frank de Boer 42 Ajax
Paulo Bento 43 Portugal


But Chelsea have set something of a precedent in their firing of Andre Villas-Boas just eight months into his tenure at Stamford Bridge.

Patience has never been, nor will it ever be, a strong suit of the Russian owner's.

In total, Abramovich paid out £20 million compensation for the hiring and firing of AVB after viciously pursuing his signature. If you're a young manager looking to enhance your career, this is not the boss for you.

Chelsea have, typically speaking, opted for proven managers. Despite their cut-throat style that's been labelled as deplorable by many, the trophy yield is superb. Eight years, eight managers, 12 trophies.

So there we establish the working conditions: demanding owner, volatile business, trophies a must.

Marcelo Bielsa is a wily character who's been around the block. He's no stranger to drama—to some extent he creates it rather than suffers under it—and has experience at the top level.

His work at Athletic Bilbao will very likely come to an end this summer as he becomes the final piece to leave a Leones side that promised so much just 12 months ago, and the very fact that he is still in his position at the San Mames proves he can cope with the most difficult circumstances.

Pep Guardiola—Abramovich's No. 1 target for over a year—is a self-confessed student of Bielsa's, taking a lot from his approach to the game, and in truth the Argentine is as close to tiki-taka as Abramovich will get.

It's well established that Bielsa craves that short passing game, and there are few who know the pressing and passing game better than "El Loco"—his side's domination of Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United last season in the UEFA Europa League gives that theory credence.

Bielsa is the man who can thrive under pressure, make his own decisions and deliver the football Abramovich wants. For the first time in a long time, the Russian may not have to part with vast sums of cash to get the right man for the job.