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A method actor in football's theatre of absurd, 'Keep Women out of Croker' and the week's best sportswriting

Enjoy some of our favourite reads from the last week.

1. THIS WASN’T THE way it was supposed to turn out. Certainly not when Bielsa turned up at Leeds in 2018: the team who had got through 12 managers in five years, hiring a coach who had never spent a third season at the same club. Cowley had things the right way round: it’s not so much a case of how Bielsa handles the Premier League as how the Premier League handles Bielsa.

hull-city-v-leeds-united-sky-bet-championship-kcom-stadium Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa. Source: EMPICS Sport

What, exactly, is going to happen when a principled, leftist, no-nonsense ideologue collides with the least principled, most materialistic league on earth? What happens, in short, when you fling this most human of managers into the nonsense machine? Naturally, there’s an element of false opposition to the question. After all, the Premier League is a multiplex, and there are few more box-office managers in the world than Bielsa: a method actor in football’s theatre of the absurd. Whether it’s the frequent sightings of him in the Wetherby branch of Costa, hour-long press conferences where he pours out his tortured soul in front of a sponsored backdrop, or his latest wacky addition to the training ground – A bobsleigh track! A hydroponic farm! Actual ghosts! – you sense Bielsa will go down very well indeed in a league ever-hungry for new narratives and new characters, new themes and new memes.

‘Marcelo Bielsa: a method actor in football’s theatre of the absurd,’ writes Jonathan Liew for The Guardian, ahead of Leeds’ potential top-flight return.

2. It’s hard to think of a part of the coronavirus story— thousands dead, markets plunging, Italy quarantined —that’s less urgent than whiny sportswriters. But these whines are important. Trust me.

The Ringer’s Bryan Curtis explains how the coronavirus could change American sportswriting forever.

Image Cliona Foley penned a lovely tribute after Una O'Connor's (front row, 4th from left) passing. Source: Dublin Camogie.

3. Headlined ‘Keep Women out of Croke Park’ it came from a ‘Cork farmer’ who hoped women would be barred from All-Ireland finals because “to me there is nothing more revolting or unnatural than to see a pleasure-bent woman up in the city for fun and enjoyment, instead of being satisfied with her lot at home.” 

The great news, Kilgallon explained, was that this steaming pile of verbal manure was returned to the Cork farmer, with interest, from many protestors.

Fifty-four years later Croker had plenty of pleasure-seeking women in it last Sunday, lighting up the AIB All-Ireland camogie club finals.

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Cliona Foley on how pioneering women like late camogie legend Una O’Connor changed everything, for the Irish Examiner.

4. On the first Thursday of February 2019, Cristiano Esmerio slept uneasily. He switched on the TV and watched late-night shows. Intermittently, his wife Lais urged him to return to bed. Early next morning, Cristiano’s phone rang. At the other end his brother enquired in a panic, “Where is my nephew?” 

‘Flamengo’s success should not allow the disaster at their youth complex to be whitewashed,’ writes Samindra Kunti for The Blizzard.

5. 

image Source: David Squires/The Guardian.

The Guardian’s cartoonist David Squires looked at British football’s reaction to the coronavirus outbreak earlier this week

6. Locker-room access is not strictly about us, the reporters. It is about you, the readers. We are your extension into the world of professional sports, your conduit for gaining a deeper understanding of the games we enjoy watching so much.

Ken Rosenthal, for The Athletic, on why clubhouse access matters

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