Leeds United patience is required ahead of tough tests but in Marcelo Bielsa we trust - Tony Dorigo

Tony Dorigo writes exclusively for the YEP on Saturday's forthcoming clash at home to West Ham, a winless start to the season, injury issues and the draw at St James' Park.

Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 4:45 am

The difference between one point and three is really rather huge, as the Premier League table always shows.

Look at Wolves, who have lost four out of five games but sit above us on goal difference having won just once.

Leeds United have to start winning.

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OPPORTUNITY MISSED: Rodrigo, left, goalscorer Raphinha, centre, and Patrick Bamford, right, celebrate as Leeds United go ahead at Newcastle United, only to be pegged back to 1-1. Photo by LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP via Getty Images.

We have two big games coming up against West Ham and Watford and make no mistake they will both test us in different ways.

West Ham have a really good squad, with some quality players and their confidence is high, but at home we shouldn’t be fearing anyone.

Not losing that one and beating Watford might be the most realistic way to go but I’m sure the boys will go out to try and win both, as they always do.

They certainly did at Newcastle United, on what was a pretty amazing night.

I didn’t wear a hat, a coat or gloves - the evening was lovely, the pitch perfect and a chicken dinner beforehand was ideal. I was thinking ‘right, here we go.’

But it was an evening of frustration.

The first 20 minutes were superb, wonderful to watch and commentate on, end-to-end stuff and we had so many chances.

As soon as we went 1-0 up the Newcastle crowd started to boil over and that was the time to put the foot on their neck and score that second goal.

We should have done, with so many chances.

They always had Allan Saint-Maximin, a real box of tricks and a danger on the counter-attack, but a second goal would have seen us home.

As it turned out it got more and more difficult, Saint-Maximin scored a very good goal and we didn’t hit the same heights in the second half.

The balance in Saint-Maximin’s play was very good.

He’s an outlet and the more we pressed, the more space he had and Liam Cooper had a job trying to contain him.

It doesn’t matter which way he showed him, he had a trick to get out of that situation.

You’re never going to contain him completely but I think we did it better in the second half.

Joelinton surprised me as well, he kept Stuart Dallas pretty honest all night.

What that game reminded me of was being back in the Championship.

On Friday night we had 65 per cent possession and 22 shots.

In some games in the Championship we saw the same dominance yet we didn’t score the goals.

Back then I would say ‘some day we’ll whip someone by four or five’ but we never really did.

Last season we were still playing that possession-based game but overall our finishing was very good, we didn’t need that many chances.

Friday was a return to needing a lot of chances to score.

At least we’re making those chances, though, so the confidence will flow and suddenly the goals will go in.

It was strange that Newcastle allowed us that dominance, playing three at the back with all of them picking up Bamford and allowing us to run riot in the midfield.

Rodrigo was having a field day, Klich was quietly efficient and Phillips was patrolling and dominating.

They tweaked it in the second half but given the chances we created, the players should take confidence from it.

Rodrigo came with a big price tag, then he was in and out and it was difficult for him to find rhythm but at times last season he was fantastic.

He hasn’t started this season like he finished the last one, but Bielsa trusts his players, he sees them day in, day out on the training ground and has proven so many times that they can come good. Rodrigo could be one of those.

Sometimes when he tries to find his form he plays five or 10 yards deeper than he needs to.

What he really needs to do is find spaces closer to Patrick Bamford. When that happens both can benefit.

Overall, it was a far better performance, even if that elusive first win didn’t arrive.

It’s not getting any easier for Marcelo Bielsa, though.

With players missing and both Luke Ayling and Raphinha coming off, it was always going to be difficult to maintain the same momentum and fluidity.

Who would have thought we would be missing three centre-backs out of four and then Ayling, the fifth choice, would get injured as well? It’s a very difficult situation.

As for how the gaps will be filled - will it be Charlie Cresswell?

Or will Stuart Dallas, who has played just about everywhere else, find himself in yet another new position?

Who knows but Bielsa wanted this small, tight squad and now he has to manoeuvre things around to plug the holes. It’s not an easy job.

Does it worry me? Yes, it does. However, you have to look at the overall situation.

Yes, Bielsa wants a small squad but we can’t have a massive squad anyway, financially.

You cannot suddenly go from the Championship, with the squad we had and the quality we had, to boasting two teams in the Premier League like big clubs.

It’s going to take a good while to get to that point and we’re slowly, slowly building up.

For Bielsa, it takes a lot of time on the training ground and a lot of fitness work to get them up to speed and he finds the young players work out, in the short term, as replacements.

That theory will be tested and we’ll see if it holds or not.

Fortunately we have players who can slot into one or two positions. We’ll need them now.

You can understand the frustrations fans have but we can’t fall into the trap that we saw in evidence at Newcastle, when their supporters turned on the manager.

We’ve only lost to two very good sides who are going to be vying for the title.

I always like to look at the first 10 games as a more reflective view of how we’ve started.

I understand the desire to get wins on the board quickly and the frustrations but ‘in Bielsa we trust’ has never been more important.

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Thank you Laura Collins