Cowley full of respect for opposite number Bielsa ahead of Yorkshire derby

Nestor Watach

Huddersfield manager Danny Cowley is relishing his first chance to go head-to-head with Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa.

The Terriers boss, who has worked his way up through non-league since working as a PE teacher, says he’s been interested in the Argentinian’s career ever since he was the manager of the Chilean national team a decade ago.

Bielsa took Leeds to third in the Championship last season, achieving their highest league placing and points tally since they were relegated from the Premier League in 2004, but they narrowly missed out on promotion.

They’re mounting another promotion push this season and Huddersfield on Saturday sitting second in the table with a five-point cushion over third.

“We’re very respectful of Marcelo Bielsa and his Leeds United team,” said Cowley on BBC Radio Leeds.

“There are not many people you would class a pioneer in football, but I remember his Chile team playing against England and it was the first time I had ever seen a team play as open and as expansive as his team did.

“They split the centre-halves to the corner flags, dominated possession on the day against a good England team, played across 11 lines and played in a way I’d never seen before.

“From that moment onwards, as someone who loved the game, I always wanted to learn. We have kept a keen eye on what he’s done and how he’s done it.”

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Saturday’s meeting at the John Smith’s Stadium will be the first West Yorkshire Derby between these two clubs in over two years.

The local rivals last met with Garry Monk and David Wagner coming to blows on the touchline after Huddersfield came away with a 2-1 win.

The Terriers achieved promotion that season as Leeds missed out on the play-offs, but they’re back in the second tier after a two-year stint in the Premier League.

“He’s got his Leeds United team playing a really aggressive brand of football with a huge intensity,” Cowley added.

“They run really, really hard for each other, play with purpose and they are going to be a really tough opponent.

“We look forward to that challenge. When you ultimately break Leeds United down, it is about passing and about running.

“They pass and they run forward, it’s about penetration, you can see they work hard on their double movements and their counter-movements and have a real understanding of each other’s space.”