'Marcelo has inspired a hundred million players' - Guardiola lauds Leeds hero Bielsa

Marcelo Bielsa Leeds United 2019-20
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The Argentine's coaching legacy will endure longer than his major honours, according to the Spaniard, after the Whites sealed a Premier League return

Pep Guardiola has paid a glowing tribute to Marcelo Bielsa after the Leeds United manager secured his side claimed the Championship crown, describing the veteran tactician as a "unique" presence in world football.

The former Chile, Athletic Bilbao and Marseille boss has secured hero status in West Yorkshire after guiding the Whites back to the Premier League, ending a 16-year exile from the top flight of English football a year on from play-off heartbreak in his first season at the helm.

The Championship title represents Bielsa's first domestic honour for over two decades, having last claimed silverware at club level in 1998 with Primera Division club Velez Sarsfield in his home nation.

But the 64-year-old has long been a cult figure and favourite of many coaches, including Guardiola.

The Spaniard has long admired the Argentine, having sought his counsel before he made the move into top-level coaching and has now admitted that he is delighted his old friend will join him in the Premier League next term.

"He has done an exceptional job," he told his pre-match press conference ahead of City's trip to Watford.

"They were exceptional last season and then didn't get promoted. They showed a lot of character to get promoted a year later. We know how difficult it is to win the Championship and get to the Premier League, so congratulations."

Addressing Bielsa's relatively light trophy cabinet - he also has an Olympic Gold Medal from his time in charge of Argentina - Guardiola stressed that he feels the ex-Albiceleste boss' enduring influence upon a generation of players and coaches counts for much more.

"I was not his player, so it is difficult to talk about him. But I know the reference from a hundred million players who were with him," he added.

"I was lucky enough to have the chance to talk to him. He is unique in world football because of the special way he plays. He is an authentic manager. No other manager in the world plays the way he plays.

"He is an incredible person. He is so special. It is my personal opinion but it will be incredible for English football to have him in the Premier League next season."

Marcelo Bielsa Leeds United 2019-20

Guardiola's spells with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and City means he has ample experience when it comes to winning titles.

However, he feels even these considerable heights are dwarfed by what Bielsa has created during his career.

"Winning titles helps to have a job next season but at the end of your life, what you remember is not the titles you have won, what you remember is the memories you have and whether the manager taught you a lot," he said.

"I had a bad night after the Arsenal game but the day after, it is forgotten. If you win a title it is the same. You have the night but the day after, it is forgotten.

"What we remember are the experiences and the memories, the players you have had, the managers you have had. Marcelo is at the top of the list. Absolutely at the top of the list."

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One manager unable to keep hold of his job was Nigel Pearson, who will not lead Watford against City after being relieved of his duties on Sunday.

"Before the lockdown, what Nigel had done was incredible," Guardiola added. "The amount of points and the results they got when they were at the bottom. After that, I don't know what happened.

"I respect the decisions of the club, of course. I wish Nigel all the best, he's an experienced manager in England and has done incredibly well in the past and this period at Watford."