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"This manager is crazy": Benjamin Mendy remembers his time playing under Marcelo Bielsa

Mendy

Mendy played under the highly-rated Bielsa at Marseille, where the Argentinian manager coached for just over twelve months between 2014 and 2015. 

Bielsa had an immediate impact during his first few months at OM, taking the French club to the top of Ligue 1 at Christmas 2014, but his side finished the season in fourth place after collapsing during the second half at the season.

Both Mendy and Bielsa now find themselves in English football - Mendy is with Premier League champions Manchester City, while Bielsa now coaches promotion-chasing Leeds United in the Championship. 

Bielsa has been the focal point of a controversial 18 months at Elland Road, most notably when he held a press conference to the media outlining his managerial and scouting methods following allegations of spying from Derby County.

When asked about Bielsa’s managerial style, Mendy told the March 2020 issue of FourFourTwo, available now: “Yes, he is so special. The videos! The meetings! 

“For me, when you go to France you need to try to speak French, but he spoke in Spanish all the time – that’s how much he was focused only on the game. He always had a guy with him to translate. 

“For our first match, we had a friendly and some of the staff had been making jokes. He didn’t like them [the jokes].

“So before that game he told them not to bother coming – we got on the coach and it was only the players, Bielsa and the doctor. We all thought, ‘This manager is crazy’. 

“But after that it was OK – he’s a great personality, a fantastic coach, and you had to respect him for what he did.”

According to Mendy, it was not just the coaching staff that were affected by Bielsa’s methods - it was the players too. 

Mendy himself felt the full force of the Argentinian coach’s influence on his players during their working relationship in France.

Mendy added: “Once, I fell asleep in a meeting, and when I woke up I was scared. 

“Later he said to me, ‘If you sleep, it’s good. One day you’re going to open your head and listen. You’re going to be aware of everything.’ 

“I saw, I learned and I asked him questions – it helped me a lot.”

Read the full interview with Benjamin Mendy in the March 2020 issue of FourFourTwo magazine, out in shops and available digitally from Friday February 7 – and available to order now. Our new magazine features the full story of Jose Mourinho's quest for a third Champions League title, an in-depth profile of African Player of the Year Sadio Mané plus more exclusive interviews with Mateo Kovacic, Andres Iniesta, Rio Ferdinand, Peter Reid, Djibril Cisse and many more. We also find out the greatest ever European Cup losers, visit the Indian Ocean club competing in the Coupe de France, and debunk football's greatest myths.