Premier League English

‘I don’t know him’ – Jose Mourinho plays down past ‘battles’ with Marcelo Bielsa

Jose Mourinho has apparently adopted an odd stance, saying he is no position to analyse Marcelo Bielsa despite four meetings in La Liga but admits the Leeds United boss must be clearly “a very good coach.”

Mourinho and Bielsa will lock horns again a fifth time – but their first ever in a first Premier League clash – in Saturday’s contest in north London as Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur welcome Bielsa’s Leeds for a 12.30pm kick-off.

The two managers definitely have history with Bielsa and Mourinho having encountered each other four times during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 La Liga campaigns when Mourinho’s Real Madrid played Bielsa’s Athletic Bilbao with Mourinho’s side winning all four meetings but the Spurs boss categorically said those contests were Real against Bilbao and not Bielsa against Mourinho.

Bielsa’s distinguished career and captivating style of play have led to the likes of Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino becoming ‘disciples’ of United’s head coach.

However, speaking at his pre-match press conference as quoted by, Mourinho said:

“I’m only a disciple of my father and I don’t like that situation in football.

“Even younger coaches, even people that worked with me before, I don’t like that: ‘Oh, they are a disciple of Jose’.

“Everyone is an individual with their own ideas, can be influenced by one or another, but in the end what matters is the individual.

“And I think to speak about Mr Bielsa is for people who know him well. I don’t know him well.

“I think he was Athletic Bilbao coach in one of the seasons I was in Real Madrid.

“Now is the first time we’re 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 even personally.

“I just shook hands a couple of times and that’s it.”

When it was put to him on how to approach contests against Bielsa considering his record of four wins out of four, Mourinho said:

“I don’t play against Mr Bielsa, never.

“My club played against his club or my team played against his team.

“I don’t like that individual situation because that doesn’t exist, for sure.

“We analyse our opponents, we did that in relation to Fulham. We did that in relation to Leeds.

“We know where they are very strong and of course we have to try not to let them export their strengths and at the same time we have to try to play our game.

“But I don’t like that kind of approach.”

Mourinho playing mind games again?