Virtually all aspects of Marcelo Bielsa's work at Leeds thus far has been box office, and today's press conference proved no different. Leeds face Norwich at Carrow Road tomorrow, but Bielsa spent a portion of the pre-match presser reflecting on a moment from the midweek draw with Swansea.
When asked about his refusal to revert to a Plan 'B' when behind against Swansea, instead sticking to his principles, Bielsa went off on a mad tangent about a dispute with Hernan Crespo. Via his translator, it took eight minutes to tell.
Speaking of the need to stick by principles in order to earn the trust of his players, Bielsa told the media of a regret he held in relation to Hernan Crespo.
I’m going to tell you a serious mistake I made. The kind of mistake you don't forgive yourself. I was the head coach of a great striker, [Hernan] Crespo.
He was a very generous player. I trained him in two different moments. When he was a young player and then when he was already an experienced player. When he was a young player I told him once that I thought he was a player with maturity, but I was lying to him. I was trying to strengthen his self-esteem. Giving him a skill that I didn’t think he had.
After some time when he got the maturity I told him now you’re really a mature player, not the same player as before. What did he think? He thought: 'How come you told me I wasn’t mature and now you're saying I am? So you lied to me? Because before you told me I was a strong player but you didn’t believe it.'
This is the kind of thing I cannot forgive myself. I’m right not to forgive myself. I tell you this not to just tell you a story.
My goal is to publicly apologise to Crespo because I know I didn’t tell him the truth. It was a lecture forever, I learned that lecture, but it was something I already knew. Because if you lie to your son, in order that your son gets something from this artificial moment of strength, the lie, you will just resolve the problem for that day and that moment.
But you will have actually instead of strengthen him, you will have weakened him in the future. Because you will have convinced him he has a feature he is only going to have for a small amount of time. You have resources that you assimilate forever and this is having maturity. But when you are not mature you can have some resources you will have when you a mature player, but just for short amount of time.
The mistake I made with Hernan Crespo, to get him involved was to tell him he was like this forever and actually that did not work. Because he went even further than I told him before. It’s a nice example because it’s Hernan Crespo. A very good player.
Crespo heard the apology, and issued a lengthy statement on Twitter.
Carta Abierta a Marcelo Bielsa. pic.twitter.com/FL0kYnMBpD
— Hernan Crespo (@Crespo) August 24, 2018
Here are some of the highlights:
Your apology made me rewind 14 years of a pain that I still have inside. That feeling leads me to write this letter. When one speaks, the risk is that the anger will push him to say some unfair words. Even though that does not change what I felt: it was a tremendous disappointment to feel deceived by a leader like you. The sadness was as great as the esteem I had for you....
..... Of course, Marcelo, I accept your apology. I already forgave him a long time ago, I had to forgive him. I'm sorry we did not speak personally, not even by phone. But it's never late. In addition, we both know that you had already realised your "grave error" long before this statement. It was clear the last time we discussed the subject....
...It made me happy to hear this, Marcelo. I send you a hug. Hernan Crespo.