Brentford v Leeds United: There’s no issue with motivation says Marcelo Bielsa

THE reaction of Leeds United’s players following the full-time whistle of Good Friday’s loss at home to Wigan Athletic told you all you needed to know.

By Lee Sobot
Monday, 22nd April 2019, 6:00 am
Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa reacts his side's 2-1 defeat to Wigan Athletic.
Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa reacts his side's 2-1 defeat to Wigan Athletic.

Prior to Friday’s contest, 10 points from United’s final four games would have left Leeds guaranteed to take their place back in the Premier League.

Now, even three more wins might see the Whites falling short.

Not the best thought as Unithead to Griffin Park today where they have not won since August 1950.

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Patrick Bamford shows his frustration after the Wigan match.

But Whites head coach Marcelo Bielsa says there will be absolutely no issue motivating his men for today’s clash with Brentford with the head coach ready to work immediately after Friday’s loss to Wigan.

Time will tell but Friday’s 2-1 defeat to Paul Cook’s side might prove the final nail in the coffin of Leeds United’s automatic promotion bid, unless the Whites and Blades swap positions yet again.

Leeds first let their automatic promotion destiny slip out of their own hands through March’s 1-0 loss at home to the Blades who moved one point clear in second as a result.

One week later, the Whites were back in the top two as the drama of a 3-2 win at home to Millwall coincided with a 3-2 loss for Chris Wilder’s side at home to Bristol City.

Marcelo Bielsa pictured during the Wigan match.

Two weeks on, Leeds again slipped back to third as the effects of a 1-0 loss at Garry Monk’s Birmingham City were compounded by a 1-0 triumph for Sheffield United at Preston.

Just four days later, the see-saw swung once again with the Blades held to a 1-1 draw at Birmingham the day after Leeds had piled on the pressure with a 2-0 win at Preston.

A one point buffer in second place then became a three-point cushion as Sheffield United could only draw 1-1 at home to Millwall last weekend with Leeds seeing off Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 at Elland Road.

Friday’s events – a 2-1 loss at home to 10-man Wigan following a 2-0 success for the Blades against Nottingham Forest – has seen a three-point advantage wiped out, with the Blades moving up to second place coutesy of a goal difference which is six goals better than United’s.

Henrik Dalsgaard was sent off for Brentford against Millwall on Saturday.

No wonder Leeds’ players looked broken at the full-time whistle.

Bar a serious Whites goal glut, wins at Hull City, at home to Ipswich Town and away at Stoke City will now send the Blades up, irrespective of what Leeds do in today’s clash at Brentford, Sunday’s hosting of Aston Villa and the season finale at Ipswich Town.

Bielsa, though, sees absolutely no issue with motivation for today’s clash at bogey ground Griffin Park.

“Do you think that we needed motivation to play today’s game?” said Bielsa in the aftermath of Good Friday’s loss to Wigan.

“You get the motivation from the moment and from what is at stake.

“Of course we were motivated and of course we will have motivation in all of the games that we are going to play.

“We did not lose today’s game because of a lack of motivation. That’s why I don’t want to make an analysis. The elements of the analysis doesn’t condemn us, the result condemns us.

“Because any criticism that you could make, the development of the game, the analysis of the game would have neutralised any criticism. But we lost the game.

“You have games that you just have to win.

“And if you lose the game, explanations are useless.

“I am very sad, but I am full of motivation and I’m ready to work again immediately in these games.”

As far as Leeds at Griffin Park goes, Leeds have now gone nine games without winning there – with six of those ending in defeat.

Twelve points off the play-offs but 15 points above the drop zone, the 15th-placed Bees are about as mid-table as it gets but Thomas Frank’s side showed plenty of fight to take a 1-1 draw at relegation-battling Millwall on Friday despite playing 55 minutes with 10 men after Henrik Dalsgaard’s red card 10 minutes before the break.

Even with a man less, Sergi Canos hit the crossbar, Kamohelo Mokotjo saw a goal ruled out for offside while top-scorer Neal Maupay fired inches wide in the dying stages.

Sizing up today’s clash against the Whites, Frank said: “On the ball, we still need to try and dominate.

“Against Leeds it’ll be different because they’ve got more high pressing and more man marking, so that’s a difficult thing.

“We know that when they’re on the ball they’ll try to dominate us more and be more flexible. I think that game will be a more open game.

“It would be fantastic to play a top game with a top performance and hopefully get the win.

“When we are on it – we drew 1-1 with them at Elland Road earlier this season – we played a top game and deserved to win.

“That’s not a problem to play a top game and a top performance.

“Whether we’ll win or not, we don’t know. That’s the luck.”

Leeds, though, even with a win at Brentford, now need luck on their side elsewhere too.