Marcelo Bielsa desperate for Arsenal's Eddie Nketiah to succeed at Leeds United but will shoulder blame if striker does not
Marcelo Bielsa says he will shoulder the blame if Eddie Nketiah’s loan spell at Leeds United is not a success.
The Whites head coach insists there is no one more desperate to see Nketiah succeed at Elland Road than him.
But Bielsa appeared to suggest that the Arsenal striker is still in the process of earning a starting place up front for Leeds.
The clamour for the 20-year-old to break into Bielsa's team has been there all season, but a midweek hat-trick for England Under 21s added fuel to the fire this week.
Former England forward Darren Bent said this week that Nketiah might have to 'look at going somewhere else' should more game time not present itself.
Bielsa attaches importance to Nketiah's goals for the Young Lions and he has accepted that Leeds United's wastefulness in attack gave the debate credence, but also points out that opinions vary wildly depending on circumstance.
"Nketiah is a player that, at the moment, is not in the starting XI," said Bielsa, ahead of tomorow's home game against Birmingham City.
"But we are not being so efficient. It is natural that one striker, a goalscorer like him is claimed by the people. He scored four goals, maybe he could score five. Obviously people start to talk about if it's Bamford or Eddie.
"But football changes every day. In the last match before Millwall, the public, the supporters recognised Bamford a lot. Maybe it was the first time that the supporters recognised him, as they did in that match. For this reason there is a dynamic that changes every match. I am in charge, I have to try and manage the resources the team has."
Bielsa wants Nketiah to succeed with Leeds United but if he does not, the head coach will accept responsibility.
"For me it is very important that Eddie has a good spell at Leeds.
"If Nketiah doesn't do well here in Leeds, the responsibility is going to be mine. That will be fair because Nketiah is a player full of results and as coach, I have to know how to manage all this skill to improve the team.The person who most wants Nketiah to have success at Leeds is me, but also I value Bamford, I value him a lot."
Not known as a man easily swayed from his methods, Bielsa confirmed that he will only make selection decisions that he believes will have a lasting impact on the team.
But if Nketiah does, in his coach's eyes, earn a starting spot, then he will enjoy Bielsa's full backing: "When someone takes decisions, they have to take decisions that have to last in the team. It is not just in response to the supporters, the public. It is about taking decisions that last in time, at the right moment, when the team needs it.
"After, I back the player who comes into the team. When one player deserves to be in the starting XI, after, I back them to stay in the team. Nketiah is in this process."
Leeds will be without captain Liam Cooper and midfield pair Jamie Shackleton and Adam Forshaw for the visit of the Blues and a game that will mark the club’s centenary.
Bielsa revealed the trio are expected to return to training in the next fortnight.
“Shackleton, Forshaw and Cooper, we’re going to wait a little bit more until next week for them to start training again with the group. I think that of the three injured players, Shackleton is closest to coming back to train. Cooper may be the last one to train with us because his injury was the most significant. I think next week Shackleton will start to train. Cooper one more week.”