Danny Mills compares ex-Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa to Arsene Wenger
Danny Mills believes Marcelo Bielsa was ‘naive’ at Leeds and it cost him his job, comparing his stubbornness to the end Arsene Wenger’s tenure at Arsenal.
Bielsa was sacked by Leeds after nine defeats in 12 games with the Whites just two points above the relegation zone, and have brought in American Jesse Marsch as his replacement to help them avoid the drop.
Mills, who was speaking to Genting Casino, believes that while his principles were great in idea, it wasn’t good for the team as a whole that he refused to change it when things weren’t going well and compared it to the Arsenal legend’s tenure.
“Principles are amazing when they work,” he said. “I look at Burnley and Sean Dyche for instance, they have a way of playing and they’re never going to be the most attractive team to watch, but they do what they do, and they’re always in the game.
“They rarely get battered – and they’re not going to change, Sean Dyche is not going to change his principles, and you admire that. But when you’ve got a team like Leeds that play in a unique way, and you’re missing at least three key players within that, to not change – to have that stubbornness about your principles, I think it then starts to border on a little bit naïve at times.
“Arsene Wenger was very similar. For years he was told he needed a goalkeeper, a centre half and a holding midfield player, and after all the success that he had – the more he got told you need to do this, the more he said no I’m not going to do it.
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“I think there’s a little bit of that about Marcelo Bielsa. I admire him for sticking to his principles, but if you’re not winning games, or you’re not close to winning games – 60 goals they’ve conceded this season and West Ham is the only team that they’ve beaten in the top half of the table – if you’re only beating teams in and around you at the bottom, then something is not right.
“Unless you are by far and away better than the opposition in every single player on the pitch, you have to adapt and you have to do something a little bit different. Marcelo Bielsa hasn’t done that. I think now you can see that once they go one or two down, coming back from that is nigh on impossible.”
Bielsa is a legend and his style was the reason why Leeds were able to get back to the Premier League after 17 years away from the top flight.
It was also his positive philosophy and mindset that helped them to a ninth-placed finish in the Premier League in their first season back.
But it’s also more than fair to say that those same philosophies and ideas were a big reason for their struggling this season and Mills is spot on with his comparison.
By refusing to acknowledge that it wasn’t working and just continuing to go with the same thing despite the clear struggles the team were facing, he put himself and the club on the chopping block.
He’ll be fondly remembered at Elland Road and will go down a legend, but the decision to move him on and try a different path in order to secure safety was the right one.
In other Leeds news, ‘Expecting more’ – BBC pundit slams poor form of Leeds ace after defeat v Leicester