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There are many oddities associated with the notorious Argentine coach, including his persistence with an interpreter.
The idiosyncrasy of Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa is a relatively new experience for many English football fans, but people are familiar with him now.
We know why he sits on a bucket (or stool) during games or why he earned the nickname ‘El Loco’ and we are familiar with the concept of ‘killer ball’.
However, the fact that he continues to use a translator for interviews, despite living and working in England since 2018, is something that makes less sense to people the more he does it.
So why use a translator and can speak some English? objective brings you everything you need to know.
Why does Marcelo Bielsa use a translator in Leeds United interviews?
The desire to communicate clearly and concisely is the main reason why Bielsa uses a translator when conducting interviews.
The Argentine coach conducts all his press conferences, as well as the interviews before and after the game, with the help of a translator to make himself understood.
A translator is also used when Bielsa wishes to communicate intricate details of his tactical demands to his players on the training ground.
“I think it’s easier for him,” Leeds midfielder Adam Forshaw said in a 2019 interview with BBC Radio Five Live.
“If he wants to go into real detail and speak to you correctly, then he keeps it in his own language.”
Marcelo Bielsa and his translator are the perfect double act … 😅
– Match of the day (@BBCMOTD) September 27, 2020
The fact that Bielsa continues to use a translator after several years living in England has been a subject of discussion among some commentators and the technician is aware of the expectations that some have.
While accepting the idea that perhaps you should speak English in England, she says she doesn’t have time to learn properly and emphasizes that her focus is primarily on communicating properly.
“Always, I feel like I should speak English,” Bielsa told reporters in 2019. “Even though I understood a little English and could convey ideas, I never find the time to learn it a little more.”
“When you work in a country, which is not your own country, you are obliged to speak the language of the country.
“You should speak English. I should speak English because it is an obligation because this country gave me work.
“It is the same if you work in France, Germany or the Czech Republic.
“But if you talk about communication, for me, it is not a problem. For managers, speaking less is better. If they are brief when they communicate, much better ”.
Can Marcelo Bielsa speak English?
Yes. Bielsa is not fluent in English, but has some understanding of the language and uses it in informal settings, such as when interacting with her followers.
In a video of a fan meeting shared on social media in the summer of 2020, he can be heard saying, “Thank you, thank you, thank you. I don’t speak English, just ‘thank you.’
Leeds fans with their hero Bielsa 🙌pic.twitter.com/FtUas9WDZI
– Goal (@goal) July 18, 2020
However, Bielsa’s vocabulary is clearly much broader than a simple ‘thank you’ and many suspect that he understands much more than his appearance with a translator might suggest.
According to Leeds striker Patrick Bamford, the Argentine understands a lot and is also an expert speaker, but is aware of making mistakes.
“I think his English is really very good in terms of understanding,” said Bamford, who is a polyglot, in an interview with Astro Supersport in 2020.
“I think he can speak it quite a bit too, but because he’s so respectful, I don’t think he wants to make a mistake in the English language by saying the wrong thing.
“So I guess that’s why he uses the translator all the time.”
In fact, Bielsa’s understanding of the language has been illustrated on several occasions where he has interrupted his translator to correct what he feels is a poor translation of his words.
On other occasions, he has instructed the translator to speak louder and with greater emphasis to convey his meaning.
While this sometimes causes confusion and has generated some odd caption, it does go to show how meticulous Bielsa is with everything, including the particular words he uses.