Leeds United defender Pascal Struijk has opened up on life under manager Marcelo Bielsa, the Argentine having earned plenty of admirers for his unique style of football this season.
After 16 years away from the top-flight, the West Yorkshire club finally secured a return to the Premier League last term, Bielsa having revived the club’s fortunes over the previous two years.
Now back in the top tier, Leeds have more than held their own against the best and remain in without a relatively slim shout of securing European football come the end of the season.
While they are getting results, it’s their entertaining approach that has really caught the eye, the newly-promoted side brilliantly inconsistent and with a refreshing, relentless style of play.
With fans and pundits alike intrigued by the enigmatic Bielsa, one man who knows all about his methods is Leeds defender Pascal Struijk, the 21-year-old having emerged as a key player under the former Athletic Bilbao boss this season.
The Argentine manager is renowned for his intense methods, and Struijk has opened up on what life is like under the Leeds boss, admitting that it has taken time to adjust to being asked to play in a variety of positions.
“He’s nothing like I’ve ever seen before,” Struijk told Sky Sports. “There’s so much detail that goes around in his management, in how hard you need to work to play here. Show yourself every day, never give less than 100 per cent. It just shows the intensity we have to go through.
“The murderball every week is very demanding and very, very intense, but I think each one of us has become a lot better than we were three years ago.
“Sometimes training is very specific position-wise. Let’s say wingers, they will just give cross after cross, and I’ll be practising giving a pass from the back as a defender. But it improves you as a player.
“I think I have played left centre-half, right centre-half, as a defensive midfielder… You need to try and adapt. And then, as I said, there is so much detail that goes around in helping me know where to be, how to move, where to ask for the ball, so they make it a little bit easier for me as well.
“The first time I played in midfield, I was quite nervous, and there was just so much going on. So much more than I was used to. But taking that from a midfielder and going back to centre-half, I think I can handle the ball a little bit better because I’m more used to people pressing me now.”