An intriguing name has entered the running for the Tottenham Hotspur job this week…
According to The Athletic, Spurs have contacted the representatives of Athletic Bilbao manager Marcelino, who has only ever managed in Spain, having taken charge of the likes of Valencia and Villarreal.
It’s claimed that, despite being under contract until 2022, the 55-year-old shouldn’t be too expensive to sign as there are certain clauses within his contract.
The north Londoners have only ever had one Spaniard in charge, that being Juande Ramos, who was brought in from Sevilla in 2007.
A move for the Bilbao boss would be an interesting change of direction from Daniel Levy and the Spurs hierarchy, as there is something very niche about him.
Marcelino is a hugely demanding coach who is obsessive over fitness and his players’ physical condition.
Part of his success at Villarreal was down to exactly this, according to legendary defensive midfielder Bruno Soriano. “There are tests every single day: weight, body mass,” he revealed to ESPN. “There are things that we can’t do. We looked after ourselves anyway, but there’s greater control now.”
His tactical system is also simple, but effective. It’s largely always been a rigid 4-4-2, where rapid transitions in attack can pick apart any opposition – he did beat Barcelona to the Copa del Rey final once.
When applying a high press on the opposition, this quickly changes to a 4-1-3-2 and often forces the ball out wide, where they can then apply further pressure whilst on the counter-attack, it’s often hell for leather with as many as five options bombing on to support.
But it is, of course, his impact in the gym that makes him most unique, and that’s only really been seen in England with the rise of Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds – famed for his ‘murderball‘ sessions, which is claimed to be “about ten times harder than a [Premier League] game.”
“Fitness-wise, because of the hard training we do, I have never been as fit as this, and I’m sure the rest of the lads would say the same,” explained Patrick Bamford, their top goalscorer.
“Intense” and “strict” are two other buzzwords associated with Bielsa’s mantra up at Elland Road, and if Spurs were to move for Marcelino, then they should get used to hearing the same.
At Valencia, the 55-year-old was said to have constructed an overhaul of the club’s dietary system, all because of how crucial physical and stamina are to his tactical system.
The Daily Mail even claimed in 2019 that ‘his style, promoting fast and dynamic football with two strikers and a commitment to attack’ is a reason for previously attracting interest in England.
Once touted as Spain’s next big manager, Marcelino would be an intriguing option for Spurs to consider, fans shouldn’t turn their nose up at him just yet.
A Bielsa-like influence would certainly fire a rocket up this struggling squad, that’s for sure.