Jose Mourinho does not believe managers should have “disciples”, insisting that every coach makes their own way in football.
Mourinho’s Tottenham host in-form Leeds United on Saturday, with the Whites’ boss Marcelo Bielsa having gained plenty of plaudits for his side’s play this season.
After managing promotion from the Championship at the second attempt, Bielsa has guided Leeds to 11th place after 16 games.
Leeds have scored 30 goals this season, ranking behind only Liverpool, United and Chelsea, but they have also conceded the same amount – only West Brom have let in more.
After a 6-2 thrashing at Manchester United led to some pundits suggesting Bielsa’s all-out attack tactics needed to be altered, Leeds have won their last two fixtures, grinding out a 1-0 home win against Burnley before dispatching a dismal West Brom 5-0 on the road.
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola and former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino are known admirers of Bielsa, who counts the Argentina, Chile, Athletic Bilbao, Marseille and Lille jobs on his CV.
Asked if he was a fan of Bielsa, Mourinho claimed he does not know the Leeds manager well enough to judge, but dismissed the suggestion a coach should have “disciples”.
“I’m only a disciple of my father. I don’t like that situation in football,” he told a news conference.
“Even younger coaches or people who have worked with me in football. I don’t like that they are “disciples” of Jose.
“Every coach is an individual with his own ideas. They can be influenced by one or another but they are an individual.
“I don’t know [Bielsa] well. I think he was Athletic Bilbao coach in one of the seasons when I was at Real Madrid. Now is the first time we are in the Premier League at the same time.
“For sure he has to be a very good coach, but I’m not the person to analyse him because I don’t know him. I’ve shook hands a couple of times, that’s it.”
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) January 1, 2021
Should Leeds claim a third successive win, they would move level on points with Spurs, while a victory for Mourinho’s team would take them, temporarily at least, into the top four.
A run of four games without a win has seen Tottenham drop off the pace, but Mourinho believes the quality of the Premier League makes this season a much more even playing field.
“You might start bad, or end bad or have a difficult moment in the Christmas period or difficult moment with injuries, it is very difficult to be stable in terms of results,” Mourinho said.
“I believe that we are going to have good periods again. When you go through all the other clubs [playing well], apart from maybe Aston Villa who have kept that stability, one was knocked out of the Champions League, another one drew two matches in a row, another one lost three matches in a row away from home.
“It is difficult for everybody. I keep saying, maybe not everyone agrees with me, that in every club there are good players. In every club there are players that could play for the top clubs.
“I am not speaking about Liverpool and Chelsea, I am speaking about the teams considered with less potential. That is getting fake and fake and fake. I don’t look anymore at the dimension of the club, I don’t look anymore at the table.”
This will be Mourinho’s first-ever meeting with Leeds in all competitions.
He has won all four meetings with Leeds boss Bielsa by an aggregate score of 15-2, doing so in LaLiga with Madrid against Athletic in the 2011-12 and 2012-13 campaigns.
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