Jurgen Klopp believes Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa is an inspiration to the football world as the veteran coach prepares to make his Premier League bow.
Former Argentina, Chile and Athletic Bilbao boss Bielsa has transformed Leeds’ fortunes since arriving at Elland Road in 2018, leading them to the Championship title last season after falling short in the 2018-19 playoffs.
His famed high-pressing style has earned him admirers across the globe and Klopp certainly counts himself among them ahead of Leeds’ trip to Anfield on the opening Saturday of the new season.
‘I admire him, but I was never close enough to him to really follow up,’ he said. ‘I’ve watched his teams playing and that’s pretty exceptional. The rest I got from newspapers and the rest.
‘We have a different approach. There are similarities but there are big differences as well. I like him, without knowing him, as a proper character. Maybe the hardest working of all of us. I don’t think we can compete with him in that area.’
Klopp chuckled when he recalled the dossier of tactical information Bielsa presented from Leeds’ preparations to host Derby County last year – a move he felt forced into after a member of his staff was caught spying at the Midlands club’s training ground.
‘When I think about the analysis around the Derby game, there was some information about the opponent. We have a lot of information, I’m not sure we have the same amount,’ Klopp recalled. ‘We didn’t see any kind of suspicious people around our training ground this week, so it’s all fine.
‘I’m really looking forward to meeting him. He’s an inspiration for all coaches because what he does, he sticks with it, pushes it through and is successful with it. That makes him really interesting in this business.’
The intensity Leeds are expected to bring to Anfield is something Klopp also wants to see in his own team’s bid for back-to-back Premier League crowns. Just don’t call it a title defence.
He said: ‘Someone told me we have to defend the title. I don’t understand that – maybe I am not smart enough.
‘If there’s a title out there, we obviously showed last year we were able to go for it. We did it the year before as well. It does not mean it will not be this year. We just don’t take these things for granted, but the titles out there, we attack them.
‘That’s how I understand it because we all start from the same position. Nil games, nil points. Now, let’s go for it. That’s how I understood it always. That’s what we did in the last years, so why should we change it now?
‘We didn’t go out of the Champions League [against Atletico Madrid] last season because we won it the year before. We went out because we faced a really good opponent and were unlucky in the game. We will go again, with all we have. That’s the idea.’
Klopp confirmed captain Jordan Henderson is back in training following his knee injury, with a late call to be made on his fitness ahead of the weekend action.
‘It looks rather promising,’ he added.
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