David Prutton: Leeds United boss Bielsa right to stick to his guns on plan A

WITH most teams in the Championship there has got to be an air of adaptability.

Saturday, 25th August 2018, 7:30 am
Marcelo Bielsa.

But if plan A is strong enough then Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa is well within his rights to stick to it, as he has said he will.

It’s just a case of whether the players can deal with the expectation level of that but it’s made very simple for the players.

It’s a case of ‘this is how we are going to play, this is what I want from you and we are not going to blind you with formation changes or by going from plan A to plan D in one game.’ I guess you can look at the teams that have gone up from the Championship and Huddersfield changed their tactics pretty well.

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But Wolves were that good that they were pretty much settled in the way they wanted to play because they had players that were consistently delivering. Even Neil Warnock at Cardiff, he liked to change the system up every now and again with regards to his teams and his players so there is an air of that working.

But the approach that Marcelo is taking is built on a solid career of doing it a certain way and from what we have seen in the opening weeks of the season, the players know that it works – though any system or any way of playing is always at the mercy of how you find the opposition, how good the opposition are and how quickly the opposition work out how to answer the questions you are posing. And it’s also at the mercy of form and fitness and this is the big question for Leeds and has been for the last couple of years – consistency.

If they can consistently perform plan A then that’s fine but you can only work out how consistent the players are by looking at them over a portion of games. You don’t know anything after two weeks because you could have a great two weeks and a terrible three weeks.

Some would say that Bielsa’s way is rigid and stubborn but others would say it’s a belief in the principles of what you want your team to play like and the proof will be in the pudding as to whether the players can consistently do that. Rotherham posed problems for Leeds last weekend and Swansea were a different proposition.

Kemar Roofe celebrates his goal at Swansea with Gjanni Alioski.

They had a different dynamic after losing possession cheaply against Birmingham.

They seemed to look after it better against Leeds but that’s the Championship in a nutshell – losing possession one week but then snapping out if it and keeping it in the next game.

Bielsa took off Kalvin Phillips after just 28 minutes against Swansea after he’d picked up a booking but I think the more that we have moved on with football, the less that kind of substitution is seen as slap in the face for that player.

As a manager, you have only got 90 minutes to sort this problem out and you could wait until half-time to spare everybody in the crowd looking at that player going ‘it must be his fault.’ But it’s a team sport and everyone there bears responsibility for the result and everyone takes credit in a victory.

There is a lot of talk about Leeds still needing another option at centre-back and I think they have always got to be on the look-out.

Gaetano Berardi has been playing there and Berardi was rash last year with certain situations with the decisions that he made. But on the flip side of that, he might be under a manager now that has shaped him up where Berardi has thought ‘I have got to concentrate here and I cannot be rash as I want to keep my place in the team.’

Of United’s centre-backs, consistently we need to see more from Pontus Jansson with regards to what we saw last season and I feel for Liam Cooper who is facing two or three weeks out with a hamstring injury.

He has started the season really well and now he is out through injury which footballers are at the mercy of through no fault of his own and that’s a shame.

Norwich are next for Leeds with their pink walls in the away dressing room to combat the testosterone levels.

That’s quite interesting and it’s a quirky one. It obviously didn’t work with regards to the West Brom game but then it worked on Wednesday night when they played really well against Preston with Alexander Tettey scoring an absolute worldie that he’s not going to score every week.

But you’ve got to fancy Leeds against Norwich who are a team who can be very inconsistent.

We have seen Norwich’s two best players in James Maddison and Josh Murphy go out the door but we know they have got the threat of Jordan Rhodes who on his day can be a lethal prolific striker.

But Leeds have got to go there and fancy themselves.

Championship on Sky Sports – tonight: Nottingham Forest v Birmingham, Sky Sports Main Event, 5.15pm.