Leeds United decision at West Ham typified Marcelo Bielsa in timely reminder of Argentine's powers - Tony Dorigo

Leeds United’s victory at West Ham on Sunday was incredible.

By Tony Dorigo
Wednesday, 19th January 2022, 4:45 am

What a fantastic game.

It was a contest that reminded me of so many games of last season in that suddenly we had the energy to go forward but the quality to go with it as well.

We might have given up one or two chances but we looked like we could go down the other end and score even more.

Sign up to our Leeds United newsletter

MASTERSTROKE: From Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa, centre, pictured shouting the instructions in Sunday's 3-2 victory at West Ham United. Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images.

We haven’t had too many of those games this season of that sort of ilk, if any.

But Sunday’s game was absolutely wonderful and, taking everything into consideration, it has to be one of the best results that Marcelo Bielsa has had.

We were going away to a top-four side and having to deal with all of those injuries and what have you.

Then we had two more injuries in the first half and had to bring two young lads on.

To come away with a 3-2 victory like we did was wonderful, euphoric.

That’s now two wins in a row having also won the last game against Burnley and those six points have left it all looking very different ahead of next weekend’s clash against Newcastle United at Elland Road. Can we say Leeds United are back?

We certainly looked more like our old selves, of that there is no doubt. But how we produced that victory with Leo Hjelde and Lewis Bate both making their debuts was remarkable.

The belief or desire certainly never left the boys but we have just found it hard for lots of different reasons.

But against West Ham it just all came together which is even more remarkable because we were in London for goodness sake.

This doesn’t normally happen, Fulham away and that’s about it.

But it was a great result and a reminder of what Marcelo Bielsa can do as we haven’t seen that as often as we did last season.

There’s no doubt in my mind that for any player, whether young, in the middle of their career or at the end of their career, working under Marcelo Bielsa is going to improve you.

You can see that and it would be a great education for any player at any time in their career. He makes players better. Other managers could say we make some players better and maybe not others.

But Marcelo clearly spends a lot of time coaching players and making them the best they can be. That’s what you see.

The style is an interesting one. Even in the second half, we were in the lead but then Lewis Bate came off and Rodrigo came on. Rodrigo is obviously a very attacking player and Lewis Bate was kind of shoring up that midfield.

I wonder what other manager at that stage of the game, in that situation would then put on an attacking player to go up against Declan Rice to turn him the other way?

But suddenly there was Rodrigo getting forward and causing problems, even on the goalline touching the ball as it went in and then getting offside.

It’s a move that not many people would have done and I was just thinking ‘wow, this is not crazy but this is Marcelo Bielsa, this is the difference’ and we hung on and did it. It was a reminder of his powers, absolutely.

Jack Harrison obviously walked away with the match ball after his hat-trick and when I look at Jack I just think he is very much a confidence player.

When he is slowly building his game up, you can see that confidence growing. I think once or twice that was hit and miss this season because we know he has got ability, great ability.

When he is on song he is tremendous and I am delighted for him. The first goal seemed to be more of a relief given his celebration but, after that, I think he started to quite enjoy stuff and that’s what it’s all about.

He has got a smile from ear to ear and I am delighted for him because he is a really honest player and lad, as they all are.

As a unit, as a group, it’s wonderful and you can see the camaraderie they have got.

They feel things badly when they lose but when they pull off something like that they feel great and I think Jack is one of those but there’s a few others that I thought were tremendous as well such as Pascal Struijk with his physicality,

Michail Antonio can manhandle centre-halves at times when you get in too close but not Struijk.

He was up for the physical challenge as well but it’s not just about going against someone physically, it’s about knowing when to do it.

That’s the trick and that’s where Pascal did great as, a couple of times, he nailed him at the right times when he was slightly off balance or whatever.

When Antonio had got good control of the ball he just held him up as best as he could.

It was a really mature performance and showed that we have been missing him tremendously.

The other one who I would mention would be Hjelde who just slotted in there at left-back which was not easy.

I thought the big problem, or certainly one of them, would be Jarrod Bowen but you didn’t hear too much of him.

He was lively at times but Hjelde largely kept him quiet and the young man had another fine game.

Support the YEP and become a subscriber today. You'll enjoy unlimited access to the latest on Leeds United and Leeds Rhinos. With our sports digital subscription, you'll also see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get exclusive content. Click HERE to subscribe.