Marcelo Bielsa's fair play; the Kalvin Phillips-Adam Forshaw-Mateusz Klich axis and working out the play-offs - Leeds United Talking Points

FLASHPOINT: Leeds United midfielder Mateusz Klich fires the Whites in front. Picture by Tony Johnson.FLASHPOINT: Leeds United midfielder Mateusz Klich fires the Whites in front. Picture by Tony Johnson.
FLASHPOINT: Leeds United midfielder Mateusz Klich fires the Whites in front. Picture by Tony Johnson.
AFTER seeing Leeds United sign off at Elland Road for the regular Championship season, the YEP's Lee Sobot looks at a few key talking points from Sunday's highly eventful 1-1 draw against Aston Villa.

More admirers for Marcelo Bielsa

Life at Elland Road is never dull but the whole incident surrounding Mateusz Klich's 72nd-minute goal and Albert Adomah's walk-in equaliser gifted by Leeds was remarkable, even by the Whites' crazy and eventful standards.

Klich looked to be morally out of order playing on and scoring as Jonathan Kodjia laid on the Elland Road turf injured but Klich insists he never saw the Villa forward and admitted that if he had he wouldn't have raced into the Villa box and scored.

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Fair enough, and at the time, the Villa reaction to his goal was understandable though not pleasant to see, exciting as it was.

But the real winner in all of this was Whites head coach Marcelo Bielsa who was clearly adamant that Villa should be gifted a goal back and ordered his players to allow Adomah to walk in an immediate leveller from kick-off, even if the super-competitive Pontus Jansson clearly found that very hard to digest, understandably really.

Much was made of the Bielsa spygate scandal but United's head coach always insisted he was not breaking any laws and in any case was gaining only a minimal advantage in sending scouts to watch other teams' training sessions.

Here, no rules were broken by Klich scoring - play to the whistle the saying goes - and Klich, Leeds and Bielsa would have been within their rights to merely take the 1-0 lead and run.

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Yet Bielsa knows how important sportsmanship is to the English game and there is no doubt that United's actions would have been frowned upon had their not been compensation, especially with Villa having stopped play for Adam Forshaw to receive treatment when the boot was on the other foot.

Even in the heat of the battle and with his side without a win in three games, Bielsa recognised the importance of doing what was morally correct and for the umpteenth time this season, United's head coach again won many more admirers.

Life back in Leeds and Derby-Villa in way of Premier?

There was a definite sense of trepidation approaching Sunday's clash against Villa, not just in terms of the match itself but moreover with all eyes on United to see how they would react to the complete heartache of missing out on automatic promotion in the play-offs.

Leeds might have won 3-2 at Villa earlier this season but Dean Smith's side arrived following ten straight wins and over that period they were seven points better off than anybody else in the division making them plenty of people's fancies to win the play-offs.

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Yet whilst Villa clearly illustrated they are a strong side, Leeds showed there would be nothing to fear should they face Villa in the end of season lottery with the two sides appearing very evenly matched and with United unlucky not to take all three points.

Finishing again let Leeds down somewhat - a continued problem - but United impressed with their overall performance, returning to something like their free-flowing, energetic and high press best and offering plenty of hope that there will be no lasting side effects of missing out on the autos heading into the play-offs.

To a certain extent, the Whites appear back on track and Leeds now need just a point in Sunday's season finale at already relegated bottom side Ipswich Town to seal third place, regardless of how fourth-placed West Brom fare on the final day at Derby.

But never mind a point, with confidence restored, Leeds should be capable of wining and winning handsomely at Portman Road to set up a semi final against Derby, Middlesbrough or Bristol City with the Rams and Riversiders the more likely.

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Derby are level on points with Boro but have a game in hand and a better goal difference and would therefore effectively seal sixth place if winning at Swansea City on Wednesday evening.

If not, Boro could cash in at Rotherham United on Sunday with Derby at home to West Brom who are still chasing Leeds for third given they have a better goal difference.

Bristol City are four points behind both and with the worst goal difference of the three they simply must win at Millwall tomorrow and at Hull City on Sunday and hope for three slip ups in Derby's two games and Boro's finale which is very unlikely to happen. Surely, for Leeds, it will be Derby or Boro.

Be it the Riversiders or as is most likely the Rams, neither will be easy but Leeds know they would be more than good enough to make it through to a final against either Villa or West Brom at Wembley and the suspicion is that Villa would edge the likely semi final against the Baggies.

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There was a feeling before Sunday's game that the contest could have been a dress rehearsal for the play-off final and that might well end up being the case.

Especially considering the needle and niggle of Sunday's clash, what a final that would be though it's worth remembering that Villa will likely have 25-goal Tammy Abraham back from injury by then and unless Leeds step up their conversion of chances rate, that might prove the difference.

Kalvin Phillips back with a bang but Stuart Dallas out

Marcelo Bielsa had already confirmed in his pre-match press conference that Stuart Dallas would replace the injured Gjanni Alioski at left back and there was a feeling that could be the only change given the Argentinian's habit of often keeping close to if not exactly the same side.

But Phillips was given the nod to return to the side as Tyler Roberts made way, leaving both Adam Forshaw and Mateusz Klich in more advanced positions.

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Roberts did well after coming in the second half for Jack Harrison to once again advertise his claims to start and possibly at Harrison's expense out wide but the Phillips-Forshaw-Klich midfield axis worked a treat with Phillips producing a fine display to keep the talented Jack Grealish fairly quiet.

Something of a late experiment by Bielsa perhaps and one that worked a treat though the Whites head coach can ill afford another injury at left back with Stuart Dallas now also out joining Gjanni Alioski, Barry Douglas and Leif Davis on the sidelines.

Ahead of the play-offs, Gaetano Berardi needs wrapping up in cotton wool.

No Christmas cards for Stuart Attwell

It's pretty impossible to have a summary of Sunday's contest without mentioning referee Attwell who basically had a stinker, being too fussy and awarding countless free-kicks with most of them to Villa.

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It was a case of cards roulette following the melee after Klich's goal in terms of who would get what and Anwar El Ghazi will feel very aggrieved to be sent off with Patrick Bamford making a meal of things with Bamford and Connor Hourihane also handed yellows as part of a game that featured one red and six yellows.

The most mystifying of those was handed to Cooper for an excellent but firm tackle on Grealish and Attwell won't be getting any Christmas cards from those in the home stands at Elland Road.

By then, if they hold their nerve, Leeds will be in the Premier - even in spite of missing out on the autos.