Gary Neville believes Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa could face translation issues going forwards after suggesting his own time at Valencia was ruined by his inability to converse in Spanish.
The Argentine coach has proved a massively popular figure at Elland Road, helping the Whites come within a whisker of promotion last season and making a strong start again this season.
But Neville reckons his own time in Spain was ultimately wrecked by his failure to learn Spanish, with the former Manchester United man soon returning to his role as a pundit with Sky Sports upon his exit at the LaLiga club.
And Neville has compared his translation difficulties in Spain to those that Bielsa faces with the media and his Leeds players over here.
“I couldn’t communicate to the players and we talk for a living. Every team talk was 50 minutes because it had to be translated by the person next to me. If you see Bielsa’s interviews, they’re hard to watch too,” he said on The Last Word With Stan Collymore.
“I had four Spanish lessons a week, I was getting up at six in the morning, they thought I was crazy, to basically do an hour and a half of Spanish. All the team meetings were in Spanish, I insisted, they obviously needed a translator for me but I worked really hard.
“I’m doing this team talk and Alvaro Negredo comes up to me, he says ‘look, there are two things, you just have to do it in Spanish. You can speak football words now, you’ve been here for three months. People admire you for it, it’s brave, but you’ve just got to do it because you’re still speaking in English after three months’.
“He was telling me basically that it wasn’t working and I could feel it, I knew it. The other point was I was on the training pitch trying to make a point to some players, it was about two or three months in.
“I walked onto the pitch, the translator comes with me, and I’m having this conversation and you can imagine what you’re like having this conversation on the training pitch, one and a half minutes is a long time, when the rest of 21 players are waiting around.
“Then someone else came over and asked what I was saying. It was for three or four minutes, it was one of those moments where you think ‘I’ve gone here’, and after that day I lost my confidence on the training field completely.”
Despite the comparison, it’s safe to say that Bielsa has more than endeared himself to both his players and the Leeds supporters, with the club well placed in third place in the Championship this season.
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