Leeds: Kjetil Knutsen to be the next Bielsa

Leeds United could be set to replicate their appointment of Marcelo Bielsa, should they lean towards one managerial candidate in particular to fill the vacancy at Elland Road…

When was Knutsen linked to Leeds?

Partaking in a Leeds Live Q&A earlier this week, journalist Beren Cross was questioned about the possibility of Kjetil Knutsen making the move to Yorkshire. 

He wrote that the Bodo/Glimt boss would be interested in the position, but as it stood he was not one of the frontrunners on the Premier League club’s shortlist.

However, given the ever-changing situations of the various managers that Leeds have considered as Jesse Marsch’s successor, there remains a strong possibility that Andrea Radrizzani could come back around to secure his signature.

Can Knutsen emulate Bielsa at Leeds?

The shades of Bielsa are there for all to see with Knutsen, both in terms of playing style and squad building.

When the Argentine took over at Leeds in 2018, his first season saw them narrowly miss out on promotion as he slowly bolstered his squad. Then, in the following campaign, he blitzed the Championship as the Whites returned to the Premier League at a canter.

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Bielsa was afforded time to implement his philosophies, which are now well-known, and the club would reap the rewards.

Knutsen endured a similar task with Bodo/Glimt, as his first season in 2019 also saw him finish second before romping to the title a year later in record-breaking fashion.

Can Knutsen emulate Bielsa?





His outfit had been transformed from a relegation-threatened side into a team which won the most points in a season, won the title by the largest margin, lost just one league game all year, scored the most goals and recorded the highest-ever goal difference in the history of the division.

Although time is of the essence, many of the foundations are already in place at Elland Road for Knutsen to implement his philosophy with ease due to the similarities that he and Bielsa share.

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His high-pressing system often sees his teams throw plenty of bodies forward in an effort to strangle the opposition into relinquishing the ball. The team would operate high up the pitch in a style which was befitting of the “kamikaze” label that Bodo/Glimt captain Irick Saltnes bestowed.

Indeed, Chris Sutton used that exact word to describe Bielsa’s system during the Argentine’s tenure at Leeds. His gameplan requires a similarly exhausting amount of work as Knutsen’s, hence one of his training sessions being dubbed “murderball” by Patrick Bamford.

There are marked similarities between the way in which these two managers view how the game should be played, and how to recruit effectively. 

Should the 54-year-old be appointed by the Leeds hierarchy, there will be hope that the foundation left by Bielsa will be strong enough to ensure that the Norwegian could hit the ground running in order to cement the Whites’ top-flight safety.