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I’m so excited for English football right now. Whether it’s watching Tottenham dismantle Real Madrid inspired by a group of young fearless Englishmen, or Manchester City playing a brand of football never witnessed before in the Premier League with Raheem Sterling, Kyle Walker and John Stones at the forefront of their play, we are on the verge of seeing our young players being able to compete at the highest level – and in a World Cup year.

In addition, we are the world title holders at under-20 and under-17 level, something we should all be proud of, and we have a rising star in Phil Foden, who not only won player of the Under-17 World Cup but is close to breaking into a star-studded Manchester City squad at an extremely young age.

Watching Tottenham and City – as well as the England Under-17s winning the World Cup with technical, intense, dynamic football – got me thinking about the debt of gratitude we owe to a man whose Lille team are in the relegation zone in Ligue 1 and who has never coached or managed a team in England.
You see, the likes of Harry Kane, Kieran Trippier, Harry Winks, Eric Dier and the outstanding Dele Alli playing creative, high-tempo, successful football under Mauricio Pochettino to beat the European champions took me back to a carbon copy performance in March 2012 when an Athletic Bilbao team full of young players displayed near-perfect football while defeating Manchester United at Old Trafford. For anyone who hasn’t seen that game, it was as close to footballing perfection as you can get and the man in charge of Bilbao was Marcelo Bielsa.
I believe the style of football Pep Guardiola and Pochettino are playing and getting results with, utilising high speed, technical quality and footballing beauty, is the stuff of dreams for fans of their respective clubs and for everyone who loves the game. Not only are they winning and playing outstanding football, we’re seeing the development of young (English) players increase week on week because their footballing philosophies are conducive to the individual tactical, mental and technical improvement of the players they are working with.
When these managers – along with Diego Simeone and many other successful coaches – are asked about the biggest influence on their footballing principles, that same man pops up every time: Marcelo Bielsa.
Known as “El Loco” in his native Argentina, he is obsessed with football, not only with winning but developing a playing style that enables teams to be successful while improving and pushing players to reach levels even they didn’t think they were capable of. If we relate this to Pochettino at Spurs, I honestly believe Kane or Alli wouldn’t be reaching the heights they are now if it wasn’t for the learning environment and philosophy of play Pochettino has devised at their club, with many Womens Mike Gillislee Jersey of the ideas taken from Bielsa.
Furthermore, if we look at the performances of Adam Lallana, Nathaniel Clyne and Luke Shaw Womens Mike Gillislee Jersey at Southampton under him, Pochettino has already had a positive influence on Womens Mike Gillislee Jersey English football. His playing style is of high physical intensity, involving expressive, offensive football with extreme detail based on positional play – deploying his players in optimal positions to Womens Mike Gillislee Jersey firstly hurt teams in possession but also to win possession back as quickly and as close to the opposition’s goal as possible for fast counterattacks. Guardiola’s methodology is very similar and when you hear them speak about their playing identities they are adamant their ideas must be “learned” by players and “taught” by coaches – something that should be obvious but is sadly lacking in football coaching when the process is often overlooked because results are the be-all and end-all.
There’s no better place for Foden to learn his trade than under Guardiola. He is a young player with all of the tools to succeed at the very highest level and has a coach who is well placed to coax the best out of him. Just look at the improvement of Sterling this season in terms of timings of runs, body position when receiving possession and decision making in front of goal. There’s no doubt the improvements have been the result of Guardiola’s coaching.
This modus operandi has stemmed from Bielsa and I’m sure Guardiola and Pochettino would agree he was a key part of their football education and if these young English players keep performing and improving under these principles – thus elevating our national team to new heights – then I for one will be raising a glass in appreciation to “El Loco”.


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