Marcelo Bielsa could return to management after being shortlisted for a new role just a month after leaving Leeds United close to the Premier League relegation zone
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The decision by the Whites’ hierarchy ended a near four-year spell with the Yorkshire club and led to an outpouring of emotion from fans, who had grown attached to the Argentine coach after he guided them back into the Premier League.
Bielsa left Leeds just two points above the relegation zone after five defeats in his last six league matches in charge, but they have since rallied under his successor Jesse Marsch. Dramatic victories over Wolves and Norwich City, which were both sealed by injury-time strikes, has seen Leeds pull seven points clear of the drop zone.
With his former side moving on, it now appears that Bielsa could be set for a quick return to management. The 66-year-old manager is on the shortlist to become the new boss of the Bolivian national team.
“We are in contact,” Fernando Costa, president of the Bolivian FA, said in a press conference on Friday. “I’m not going to deny that we are having some line of contact with the manager. We still haven’t talked to him, but we are close to doing so.
“We want to give him all the support. We know that Bolivia has a lot of talent and that going to a World Cup isn’t that far away.”
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Bielsa has previously taken charge of both Chile and Argentina, so is no stranger to South American international management. He managed his home country of Argentina from 1998 to 2004 before leading neighbours Chile from 2007 to 2011.
If he does take the role, Bielsa will have a challenge on his hands with Bolivia. Costa’s mention of the World Cup appears very optimistic, given Bolivia’s current position of ninth place in South American World Cup qualifying. A 3-0 defeat by Colombia on Thursday was Bolivia’s third in succession and leaves them with just four wins from their 17 qualifying games.
While Leeds have moved on without Bielsa by picking up two hugely valuable wins under Marsch, the Argentine manager’s influence will leave on at the club. Rodrigo, who was signed by Bielsa for a club-record fee of £26million from Valencia in the summer, has summed up the mood in the camp in an interview with the Yorkshire Post.
“Marcelo gave great moments for the club, I think everyone appreciated and recognised that he was very important for the last few seasons here but it’s part of football,” he said. “It’s part of our job, these kinds of things happen, I’ve already had to manage these situations in my career a lot of times in Spain and Portugal.
“We just need to look forward, keep positive, try to help like we have with the new manager, try to absorb his new mentality, way of play, style and methodology and I think everyone is happy because he’s working well with his staff and the results are there. That’s very important as well.”