Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa isn’t known as ‘El Loco’ for nothing.
The Argentine has been a revelation since arriving in English football, guiding Leeds back to the Premier League for the first time in 16 years in his second season at Elland Road.
Bielsa’s coaching career has spanned many decades, with the Leeds boss managing the likes of Athletic Bilbao, Marseille as well as the Argentine national team.
The first club he ever saw success with however was Newell’s Old Boys in Rosario, Argentina, whom he managed in the early 90s winning league titles in 91 and 92.
Bielsa and Newell’s still have a distinct love affair (the club named their stadium after him) but it wasn’t always plain sailing during his time there.
Far from it.
In February 1992, Bielsa’s Newell’s side lost 6-0 to San Lorenzo in the Copa Libertadores in what was seen as a humiliating defeat for the club.
It had been a difficult season for Bielsa as a whole and this defeat in particular he took full responsibility for, however some of the ultras, or the barras bravas as they’re known in Argentina, were not happy.
According to an extract from ‘The quality of madness; A life of Marcelo Bielsa,’ by Tim Smith, around 20 of the notorious barras bravas arrived at his home in Rosario demanding he see them face to face and explain the defeat.
Bielsa did come out. Holding a hand grenade.
‘If you don’t go now,’ he reportedly told them, “I will pull the pin.’ The tactic worked as the crowd dispersed from Bielsa’s door.
In an interview with Kaiser magazine, taken again from Smith’s book, one fan remembers the incident.
‘The madness sparkled in his eyes. Nobody could look at Bielsa only the grenade in his hand. We imagined he would face us with a shotgun, not a grenade.”
It is said that this incident is where the El Loco moniker stems from.