There is “no better pairing” than Marcelo Bielsa and Uruguay, so says Ander Herrera.
Former Argentina, Athletic Bilbao and Leeds United boss Bielsa agreed to become Uruguay coach earlier this week.
The enigmatic Argentine, who was interviewed by Everton but reportedly turned the Premier League club down in January, was sacked by Leeds last year.
Bielsa is still a legend in the eyes of many Leeds fans, but is now back in work on the international scene, having taken charge of Uruguay, whose former coach Diego Alonso resigned following a group-stage exit from the World Cup in Qatar.
Ex-Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Herrera, who is now back at Athletic Bilbao, came through under Bielsa during the latter’s stint in the Basque country between 2011 and 2013.
And he thinks that the combination of Bielsa and Uruguay is perfect.
Herrera told Stats Perform: “He is a coach that will be capable of getting the best from the players and as we say in Spain, he strikes a chord on his speeches.
“He connects with this sentimental aspect that the Uruguayan footballer already has for his country and national team.
“I couldn’t find a better pairing than Uruguay and Marcelo for this moment of the Uruguayan national team.”
Bielsa asume como técnico de la Selección Mayor. #ElEquipoQueNosUne pic.twitter.com/5kLDD2aqsC
— Selección Uruguaya (@Uruguay) May 15, 2023
Herrera loved working under Bielsa, though knows not every player will feel the same.
“He has demonstrated that he is a great coach in clubs and national teams, but I think that is true that the intensity that Marcelo [Bielsa] has, not all the players in a club can absorb it, let’s say,” Herrera added.
“But in my case yes, I did it with pleasure, I live for football, but you have to understand and respect the ones that take this as a profession.
“So maybe for a national team he can be ideal.”
Bielsa is famous for the level of detail he goes into, not only when assessing his opponents, but also his own players.
“He doesn’t do anything for nothing as we say, so if Marcelo has chosen Uruguay’s project he must have studied deeply,” Herrera explained.
“I am convinced that he must have watched the under-15 and the under-16 teams, all the players who could be selected and might be of help for the coming qualifying process for the next World Cup and Copa America.
“I think that with the character of Uruguayan footballers, it is a job that will fit like a hand in a glove for him.”
Herrera, who sees similarities between the Basque attitude and that of Uruguayans, also had words of advice for younger players set to be coached by Bielsa.
“I would advise them to have their ears very open, try to be like a sponge because they will remember this period the rest of their lives,” he said.
“For football lovers, addicts, who understand this profession as a way of life, the experience [with Bielsa] will be useful for them for the rest of their career.
“No doubt that sometimes there will be tough days, there will be days when they will really end up feeling exhausted.
“He [Bielsa] will go into detail, I am sure of this. To each of the Uruguayan players that he will call up he must have seen them 100 times, I am more than convinced.”
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