Thierry Henry has proclaimed Leeds United as the Premier League side he most enjoys watching – and tries to take tips from Marcelo Bielsa’s side whenever he can catch them play.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side have made an impressive return to life in the Premier League and currently sit 12th after 17 games. Their attacking verve has won plenty of admirers, though they do have quite a leaky defence. Indeed, one pundit has labelled Bielsa and his side ‘average’ in the face of their porous nature.
However, there are strong mitigating circumstances for their leaky defence. Their two summer defensive signings, Robin Koch and Diego Llorente have both faced spells out injured. Koch is out until March after succumbing to a knee problem at Chelsea. His substitute that day, Llorente, has not been seen in a Leeds shirt before or since. However, the Spain international returns to the matchday squad to face Brighton on Saturday.
Leeds’ attacking instincts have certainly struck a chord with Henry. The former Arsenal striker is regarded by many as the Premier League’s greatest-ever import.
Now learning his trade as a manager, Henry is currently in charge at Montreal Impact in MLS.
However, he says he tries to take in Leeds games as often as possible.
In an interview with So Foot, Henry said: “I love to see Leeds play, it’s extraordinary. I also continue to watch Ligue 1, whether it’s Brest, Lens – I’ll watch everything I can.”
The former Monaco coach also praised Bielsa for not forgoing his philosophy. He added: “The game is an alternation: you can’t always play long and you can’t always play short. You have to vary.
“When you look closely, how many teams in history went down because they were playing long balls and how many teams went down because they were trying to build from the back? It is not that clear.
“You can win a championship by playing counter-attack, or by having 80 per cent possession in the opposing half. The same goes the other way. I just wish all philosophies were respected.”
Henry urges Leeds to keep philosophy
Henry insists Leeds quite rightly deserve the attention they are currently receiving.
However, he has urged them to keep their style inspite of recent criticisms.
“The important thing is to keep your philosophy. You can change your system, make it evolve,” Henry added. “But the important thing is it is to be in agreement with its ideals.
“Look what Marcelo Bielsa is doing in the Premier League: he can win 4-0 or lose 4-0, but ultimately everyone is watching Leeds. This is also what I like. But be careful, you will never see me criticise the approach of another coach.”