Former Leeds United man on Adam Forshaw's 'remarkable' feat, Antonio Conte's Spurs and Marcelo Bielsa's future

Former Leeds United defender Tony Dorigo writes exclusively for the Yorkshire Evening Post on the Leicester City game, Adam Forshaw and Marcelo Bielsa's future.

By Tony Dorigo
Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 4:40 am

It says a lot about Adam Forshaw that he managed to come back after two years and play a 90-minute game in the Premier League.

I couldn’t be happier for him. He’s very mature, he’s been at a few clubs and knows what it’s all about, but I remember back to times when I was out of the team with injury - very fortunately only for three to four weeks maximum - and I can’t imagine what it must be like to be out for two years.

What he’s missed in those two years is what he came to Leeds United for, to get the club promoted into the big time. In those two years he should have been right in the middle of it all and he wasn’t. I’m sure it doesn’t matter how positive you are, you feel like a spare part.

Sign up to our Leeds United newsletter

For him to show that kind of form is remarkable, it says a lot about his character. You know he’s a good lad about the place anyway, but don’t forget he came to a Championship side and here he is two years down the line from injury, playing superbly in the Premier League.

The reason it stood out so much is that his performance is what we’ve been crying out for. We haven’t been able to control the midfield as we would like in many a game this season.

Another option to Kalvin Phillips helps the team and helps Kalvin.

What I saw from the team against Leicester was what I saw last season. In the previous games we never really put in a solid 90-minute performance, as we did last season. Against Leicester we did.

BIG IMPACT - Adam Forshaw's first league start for 799 days helped Leeds United to a 1-1 draw with Leicester City and a big improvement in form. Pic: Getty

The games we won were against a poor Watford side on the day and a Norwich team who really are struggling. Leicester, though, are a really good, quality side with good players who can hurt us. We matched them and took the game to them for a complete 90-minute period. It was much more like our old selves and I’m sure much closer to what Marcelo Bielsa wants from the boys.

I think when we don’t have a lot of possession or control of the game then the odd time it comes to Raphinha he has to do something with it and normally does, there is a reliance there. But against Leicester our options were more plentiful in our play. We managed to control midfield more and Forshaw was a huge influence on that. That then brings the movement out wide, in the full-back areas and up front. Jack Harrison’s afternoon was interesting. For the first hour that was probably the best I’ve seen him this season and then after a couple of mistakes you could see him visibly drop his level of performance unfortunately. I don’t know what Daniel James had for his pre-match meal but he needs to have that again, he was lightning, so quick around the pitch, worked extremely hard and made some clever runs. The end product was missing but it gave us more options than just Raphinha.

Now he’s off to play with Brazil, who have also been able to rely on him to produce lately. These international breaks seem to be getting more often and this one hasn’t come at a good time. It’s a little frustrating but there are one or two who will get a boost from being called up to the national sides, like Rodrigo and Diego Llorente. Sometimes you’d like to keep them and wrap them in cotton wool ready for the next game but mentally sometimes it’s quite good to get away.

When they come back, Spurs will present a real challenge, although Antonio Conte likes to spend a long time on the training ground and he won’t be able to do that with all his players during the international break. Maybe it’s not such a bad time to play them, we might catch them slightly unawares but whatever we face from his team we’ll have to deal with it and crack on.

His arrival is part of a huge amount of managerial change in the Premier League, but it’s no big surprise that Bielsa is getting ‘unconditional support’ from Andrea Radrizzani, it’s certainly warranted and merited.

Bielsa, quite clearly, hasn’t got the boys firing completely just yet but he’s been without some very important players. As long as you see things are improving, and against Leicester there was a huge improvement, then we’ll be edging up the table with players still to come back in as well. Other clubs have pulled the trigger and let’s see how that pans out but sticking with Bielsa is exactly right for the club.

The way Marcelo Bielsa coaches the team and the players means that whenever the change comes, however many years that might be down the line, it’s going to be a big one for the players. To get someone like Bielsa will be extremely difficult so the changeover, whichever way you look at it, might not have instant effects anyway. I think the club have always backed him and his story has still got quite a few chapters left.