Steve Bruce has hailed Marcelo Bielsa for his impact on Leeds United as his Newcastle United side prepare for a pivotal Premier League encounter at St James’ Park.
The Whites travel to the North East on Friday night seeking their first top-flight victory of the season, whilst the Magpies are also winless so far, picking up just a point from four matches.
Although the sides are separated by just two places in the league table, Bruce is under far more scrutiny over his future at the club and has faced heavy criticism for their start to 2021/22.
This is arguably a minor blip in Bielsa’s tenure as Leeds boss after guiding them to promotion from the Championship and a ninth-place finish last term.
Victories over Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester City and Manchester City were highlights from a memorable first campaign back in English football’s top tier.
They also got the better of Bruce’s men twice, beating them 5-2 at home, before earning a 2-1 win away in the reverse fixture.
After failing to beat them in both attempts last season, the 60-year-old sees Leeds as a unique challenge and has praised Bielsa for his work on the squad.
“He’s very well regarded, the manager,” Bruce said in his pre-match press conference.
“His team, now, are probably the team that you want to watch. They’re different to everybody else. I’ve got nothing but respect for the guy who’s transformed Leeds.”
Having previously faced Leeds whilst manager at Sheffield Wednesday, Bruce admitted his surprise about the impact Bielsa has had on his squad.
“When I took Sheffield Wednesday there a few years ago now, I witnessed first-hand, if you like, the change at Leeds,” he continued.
“I saw a group of players who had been in and around that league for a long time, no disrespect to them, and the impact of the manager on them. I haven’t seen an impact like that.
“Of course, I’ve seen big managers walk in, like Tuchel, Klopp and Pep at Man City, but I’ve never seen anything at that level, a difference quite like it.”