Are Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds United like Neil Warnock's Cardiff City? Yes, claims Brentford boss Dean Smith

Brentford manager Dean Smith on the touchline during a 1-1 draw with Leeds United on Saturday.
Brentford manager Dean Smith on the touchline during a 1-1 draw with Leeds United on Saturday.
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Brentford manager Dean Smith complimented Leeds United’s style after the clubs’ 1-1 draw at Elland Road - by comparing them to Neil Warnock’s Cardiff City.

Smith claimed Leeds’ tactics out of possession were similar to the pressing which helped Cardiff win promotion from the Championship under Warnock last season, saying Marcelo Bielsa’s side showed “traits” matching those of the Welsh club.

Bielsa has rebranded Leeds’ approach since his appointment as head coach in June, committing to a fluent and open style which has repeatedly produced goals from sustained passing moves.

Warnock, who won the eighth promotion of his managerial career with Cardiff in April, is known for a more pragmatic style of play but Smith insisted his first tussle with Bielsa had thrown up similarities.

“It is good because it tests your coaching background, it gets you thinking,” Smith said. “Out of possession they’re very much like Cardiff City last year.

“Cardiff pressed well, they went man-for-man and made it very difficult for you. They (Leeds) are very similar to that. They probably play a bit more and are not as reliant on set-pieces as Cardiff were but they’ve certainly got traits of that when they haven’t got the ball.

“They’re very aggressive, press forward very quickly and we had to be good on the ball. I thought we were.”

An 88th-minute header from Pontus Jansson denied Brentford victory during a game which saw a controversial penalty awarded to Smith’s team midway through the second half and Luke Ayling dismissed for a second bookable offence in injury-time.

Jansson’s finish, coming from a Gjanni Alioski free-kick, was only the fourth goal scored by Leeds from a set piece this season. Bielsa’s side have wracked up the highest number from open play in Championship, alongside West Brom on 18.

Under Smith, Brentford have won much acclaim for their football. The former Walsall boss was linked with the Aston Villa job this week, though Thierry Henry appears to be favourite from the post at Villa Park.

Speaking at the end of Saturday’s game, Smith said: “Marcelo has been a head coach for a lot longer than I have and when you have people like Pep Guardiola talking about you, you’re held in high esteem. That’s why it was so good to test myself and my coaching staff against him.

“I’ve been at this club for a lot longer and he’ll have teething problems with how he wants to play, I suppose. I feel at the moment we’re quite a well-oiled machine. We made four changes and they slipped in seamlessly.”