Championship leading Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds United alive and kicking despite heart-stopping nine-goal thriller at Birmingham City
Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds United go into a new year alive and kicking and top of the Championship, despite a heart-stopping nine-goal thriller at Birmingham City.
The Whites went 2-0 up and then all control slipped from their grasp as Birmingham hit back to level, before Leeds hit the front another three times to secure a 5-4 win.
When asked how his heart was after watching his Leeds men concede a fourth then score a fifth in stoppage time, he quipped: "I am alive."
But everything Bielsa knows to be true about his side this season appeared to go out the window in a crazy game.
"All the previous analysis about our team, we saw the opposite in the match," he said.
"We had high efficiency to score and we are a team that needs a lot of chances to score. We didn't have safety in defence. We have conceded goals that normally we would think we're in good condition to avoid."
Failing to manage the match at 2-0 up led to remarkable scenes and as open a game as Leeds might expect to contest this season.
Bielsa wanted more control and admitted the attacking spirit of his side was both their downfall and their saving grace.
"We should have controlled the match better in the first half," he said.
"It was difficult for us. In the first part of the second half the match had no definition, even though we improved in this period.
"After 2-2 the match was strange. It was goal for goal. The spirit of the team when Birmingham pulled it back 4-4, Alioski was playing as a left winger, trying to score to make it 5-3. Every time when Birmingham scored we had energy to go for one more goal.
"After we have to analyse, as we analyse every match, correct what we need to improve, try to see what we did well as well.
"Of course I would like to try to control the match when we are winning and not just control the match to win the match. When the opponent protects itself we play better. But when the opponent needs to score it is difficult for us to control the match."
On an afternoon of shocks, both at St Andrew's and elsewhere in the Championship - West Brom lost 2-0 to Middlesbrough - the first surprise was the presence of Eddie Nketiah in Leeds' starting line-up.
A dead leg suffered by Patrick Bamford gave the Arsenal loanee his first league start for the Whites, during a period of uncertainty over his loan spell.
Although the poaching specialist didn't get on the scoresheet, Bielsa appreciated the way he altered his natural game to fit with Leeds' style.
"I think Eddie made a step forward," said the Argentine.
"He came to Leeds with the objective to play. But he had one more difficulty, that is deserving to play. I think today he did good things individually. Obviously he is a player full of resources. I think that the dynamic of the team forces him to make a lot of effort and he has adapted well to this. We have to say that he is a player who naturally will put all his energy in the offensive play, not defensive play. We are a team who attack between all of us and defend with all of us as well. Nketiah is a specialist. He made a big effort to mix with the team and add to the dynamic of the play."
Bielsa hopes Bamford will be fit to rejoin the squad on Wednesday when they travel to West Brom for a top-two clash.