Everton continue to spiral into the finish of this season and rumors of possible replacements swirl around the team. If Roberto Martinez fails to secure an FA Cup win for the Toffees it's quite possible the team will be weighing new options for manager next season.
The next manager we're going to look at in our prospective manager series is Argentinian Marcelo Bielsa who is currently not managing, but has an interesting history and has well earned the nickname El Loco.
At 60 years old Bielsa has had plenty of experience managing in professional football. He started with his first job managing Newell's Old Boys in 1990 and has managed for many clubs as well as two stays as international manager for Argentina and then Chile.
From 1990 to 1998 Bielsa worked his way through several smaller clubs and was given the Espanyol job, but before starting the job he took the job managing Argentina at the National level. He led the team in the 2002 World Cup, but did not reach the knockout stage. His success came later when Argentina finished second in the 2004 Copa America followed by winning the 2004 Olympic Gold.
No Latin American team had won gold in football since 1928, but that would be the end of his run in Argentina as Bielsa would resign from the job and not take another job for three years. In 2007 he would become the Chilean National team manager and continue his reputation around odd departures from his jobs.
First he was able to qualify for the 2010 World Cup and this time reach the knockout stage where they lost 3-0 to Brasil. That was bad news for Chilean fans as Bielsa said he would leave the job after the World Cup even with fans calls for him to stay. In the end he left due to Jorge Segovia being elected President of the Chilean Football Board which he did not support.
His time after Chile was spent with two teams between 2011 and 2015. First was a stay with Athletic Bilbao where he led the team to a finals in the Europa League after defeating Manchester United, Schalke and Sporting Lisbon. They would lose to Atletico Madrid in the finals and also face a tough loss in the Copa deal Ray Final to Barcelona.
The team struggled in his second season and was not offered a new contract. He would not manage a team in the 2013-2014 season before getting the Olympique de Marseille manager job in May of 2014. He would earn his nickname "El Loco" with Marseille for sure. His first season was met with great success and became a fan favorite, but things began to change near the end.
After the summer break he returned for the final year of his contract and after losing the first game of the Ligue 1 season he resigned due to a conflict with the board due to his management style. His training was considered heavy and players respected him, but complained of excessive work.
Bielsa has a tendency to wear out his welcome or just leave when he' steady, so he only has a season or two to build a club by transfers. In Athletic Bilboa he made his largest signing with Ander Herrera for £5.63 million who is now with Manchester United after leaving Bilbao for £27 million.
His biggest budget came with Olympique de Marsielle when he spent £30 million on seven players with the highest amount being £9 million on Florian Thauvin from LOSC Lille. He left during the next window and probably shouldn't be judged on it.
He's never really had a huge budget on any of his club teams and Everton as it stands now could probably give him the largest amount he's spent yet. His ability to build with the players he has at the squad of National team is what he's best known for and his transfer ability is really still untested at the top levels.
Bielsa is known from his time with Argentina and Chile for his 3-3-3-1 formation, which he also has used in his time at Athletic Bilbao. The formation relies heavily on players able to transition from attacking to defending and then back to attacking again. The formation allows movement of players forward and back to overwhelm the other team especially in the midfield. You can easily go from 7 players defending at the back to 7 attacking the other side.
This is as far from the style of play that Roberto Martinez employs that we could get if we made this hire. Martinez relies on possession and staying to the outside until an opening is created. Unfortunately that isn't working this season and players are often left isolated which is what Bielsa's 3-3-3-1 would obviously avoid.
Bielsa has quite a following of managers who have employed his tactics including Pep Guardiola and several others in the Latin American game. Guardiola has even labeled Bielsa the best manager in the world.
His ability to study film and discuss the intricacies of the game of football is also well recognized. He has been known to have several hour press conferences when asked about tactics or certain aspects of the game. He's also known for his straight talk and once again would be a giant shift from Martinez.
It's tough to say how real the possibility of Bielsa joining Everton is, but one thing is for sure it would be something to talk about for sure. Bielsa is out of work so no issue with current contracts or working out a deal with another club to get him. He also while having a great reputation has managed clubs not quite at the elite levels of their league.
Everton would be an interesting challenge for him being his first job in England and a team currently stuck in the mid to low end of the table. He also would bring a huge shift from anything seen here recently with a system setup to play more direct than anything under David Moyes or Martinez.
If Everton wanted Bielsa I can't imagine he wouldn't be here next season, but I can't imagine the interest is real. I don't think Everton are ready to deal with the issues that Bielsa brings and they would probably prefer a manager that is in it for a longer haul and not ready to burn out in two seasons.
In the end I'm going to say Bielsa doesn't happen, but as someone writing about the club I would love for it to happen. There would be plenty to talk about and a high probability that we get at least one or two seasons of amazing football. I'm even willing to live with the breakup that always comes with Bielsa just for the ability to watch that greatness in a short window.
The bookies though are offering 10/1 odds on El Loco, if you'd like to take a wager.