They have not yet played each other this season but on 2 January 2021 Tottenham Hotspurs will play Leeds United. Occupying the respective technical areas will be the self proclaimed ” Special One ” Jose Mourinho against ” The Crazy One /El Loco”, Marcelo Biesla. This is a match which any avid follower of the English Premier league will be looking forward with keen interest. When Biesla who was coaching Atletico Bilbao faced Mourinho who was at Real Madrid during their time in La Liga, his record was atrocious. He lost all four games with a goal aggregate of 15 -2. That was some beating. But can things change in the the so called best league in the world?

I must admit that I did not watch any of the La Liga matches when Biesla was on the receiving end of the ruthless Mourinho. For indeed, that is the way to describe the man, he can be ruthless in his approach to the game of football. You hear it in his diction, words such as “kill the opponent ” capture that approach. I will therefore not miss an opportunity to watch the Leeds United versus Tottenham match. It will be an opportunity to witness two coaches who are entrenched in their football ideologies, managers who will not be persuaded to change. I call them football ideologues!

I often have long running discussions with my friend Innocent Mupatsi. He a man who is fully converted to what he calls ” Mourinhoism “, the football gospel as advanced by “The Special One.” I occupy a different football space to him for indeed i am a bit of idealist. I love beautiful football and with teams such as Arsenal especially during the Wenger era and Barcelona i sympathise. At their peak, these teams were proponents of football aesthetics. Football as poetry! But my friend argues, it is the result that matters and everything must be done to get a result.

Innocent Mupatsi subscribes to “Mourinhoism “. At the core of this football ideology is pragmatism, that is the first building block. Mourinho lives by the Machiavelli mantra, ” The end justifies the means !” For him, how he achieves the result should never be a subject of discussion, what he would rather discuss is the result. “I try to win, I am afraid of failure ” he once declared.

I often wonder if Mourinho really enjoys football. Will he accept a good performance even if the result does not favour him? Well, recently he gave the mother of all comments after a defeat by Liverpool in a league match. ” The better team lost ” he said. An analysis of Tottenham performance in that match can give us an understanding of his mindset.

Tottenham Hotspur players worked very hard in that match. They almost executed the Mourinho strategy to perfection. Liverpool eventually found the answers to break the code but they had to dig deep. The match was a Mourinho masterclass, a bit cynical, frustrating to those who think football should be more exciting. Mourinho seemed not to care about the critics coming up with that unforgettable quote. To him , Tottenham were the better team, I guess my friend Innocent also saw it that way too. “The end justifies the means “, that indeed is the Mourinho way. Unfortunately the result did not come on this occasion.

Marcelo Biesla offers a direct contrast to the one offered by ” The Special One.” They call him El Loco for his seemingly helter -skelter approach to football. His commitment to attacking and expansive football which are the hallmarks of his teams will make Mourinho squirm in his seat. He would never buy into that kind of football approach. For Mourinho defensive discipline is key but Biesla seems to have shredded the defensive coaching manual.

Biesla’s Leeds United is renowned for its attacking flair and with better strikers, the team can score many goals. Unfortunately their main striker, Patrick Bramford is not the most ruthless, he is not a ” killer” to borrow from the Mourinho diction. What has also undone Leeds United are the defensive frailties. The team attacks and forgets to do the basics of defence. It is as if they say ” You attack, we attack, you score, we also score !”. Well for the neutrals it is exciting but for the team’s fans, it is not for the faint-hearted. Pragmatism, another Mourinho cornerstone does not seem to exist in the Marcelo Biesla vocabulary.

Yes, I think for Biesla , ” The means justifies the end”. He believes in attacking football and he will not compromise on this belief. Sometimes the results can be humiliating like the recent 6-2 hammering by Manchester United. But will he change his approach? No, the man will fall on his sword.

Indeed , it is a tale of two managers. They occupy different planets on the football map . For this reason, I am looking forward to this 2nd of January match. It will be a clash of the ideologues. One thing is certain, there will be no compromise of style!


  1. Excellent article. Biesla, would have enjoyed it more had he been Dutch. His style of football is a joy to watch. With a few more quality players, Leeds could be a strong force, whereas Mourinho’s approach is way too pragmatic.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.