Leeds United: Preston pose ‘special’ threat despite lowly league status – Bielsa

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Marcelo Bielsa warned Leeds United not to be fooled by Preston’s league position after describing Alex Neil’s struggling side as a “special team”.

Bielsa claimed North End’s slide to 23rd place in the Championship was an unfair reflection of the team who knocked Leeds out of the Carabao Cup’s second round last month. Preston became the first and only club to inflict defeat on Bielsa so far this season after surviving an hour with 10 men to earn a 2-0 win from Elland Road.

Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa.

Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa.

Neil’s squad will be back in Leeds on Tuesday evening but are licking their wounds from an unrewarding start in which they have taken one victory from seven league games and failed to score away from home in the Championship. They are without the suspended Ben Pearson and Ryan Ledson, who remains banned after his dismissal at Elland Road three weeks ago.

“They are a special team,” Bielsa insisted. “Preston’s players have the skills to move the ball but they also have the aggression of teams with less skill.

“It’s a mix between skills and aggression and it’s an attractive mix. They have a position in the table they do not deserve.”

Leeds held on to first place in the division with a 1-1 draw at Millwall on Saturday, a point salvaged by a late equaliser from winger Jack Harrison.

Preston North End manager Alex Neil has already got one over on Leeds this season in the Carabao Cup.

Preston North End manager Alex Neil has already got one over on Leeds this season in the Carabao Cup.

Bielsa’s squad are defending an unbeaten Championship record but have drawn three of their last four matches and United’s head coach said a weekend in which Middlesbrough and Derby County lost and Leeds snatched a result at the New Den should caution against premature talk of promotion at Elland Road.

“We all think that when we make early conclusions, it means we have a lot of knowledge,” he said. “You can’t anticipate the results in football. The day when you can predict the results in football, football won’t be that attractive. Technology is trying to make many efforts and I don’t think we should go this way. Football is famous because of it’s unpredictability.

“It’s not a good habit to stop winning. Our aspiration is to win a game. To win is a necessity. But I always have the feeling of confidence. It doesn’t matter who we play against, I always think we can win. It’s part of the DNA of our profession.”

Asked if his players would be helped by their prominent standing in the league, Bielsa said: “It’s not a pressure but it’s not something that I take as a positive. In each game we have the obligation to win. When you have good performances, people expect things from you.

“I don’t think the position in the table generates pressure or makes things easier for us. We will always have the obligation to win.”