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Leeds United: ‘Side before self’ mantra is the way forward says Vieira

Ronaldo Vieira' in action against York City last night.
Ronaldo Vieira' in action against York City last night.
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Ronaldo Vieira plans to employ a “side before self” mantra under Marcelo Bielsa as he waits to see where he fits in the plans of Leeds United’s head coach.

Vieira said he was willing to take up any role in Bielsa’s team after featuring at centre-back on his first pre-season appearance at York City last night.

Marcelo Bielsa.

Marcelo Bielsa.

The 20-year-old slotted into a makeshift back three alongside fellow midfielder Mateusz Klich and left-back Laurens De Bock – three experienced faces in a young Leeds line-up – and saw out 90 minutes of a 1-1 draw.

The majority of Bielsa’s senior players were taken to a friendly at Forest Green Rovers on Tuesday instead and the Argentinian is likely to field a stronger line-up against Southend United on Sunday.

Bielsa is known for using midfielders as defenders as a way of improving his teams’ passing from the back and Kalvin Phillips spoke after Tuesday’s win over Forest Green about Bielsa’s attempts to remould him as a centre-back.

Vieira, who was recently linked with a move to Cardiff City – a rumour denied by Cardiff manager Neil Warnock – is looking for a big season having struggled last term to replicate an impressive first year as a professional at Elland Road.

“The target for me is to do my best and improve under the new manager,” Vieira said. “I want to help the team as much as I can, achieve what we want to achieve this season and maybe get a few goals.

“Everyone wants to be involved but we’re a team, you know? The message for this season is like side before self. I’ll play where he tells me to play and it’s the same with everyone else.

“We’ve been working on some of the midfielders dropping in deeper. It’s to try and play out a little bit better and we’re all trying to adapt to it. I’ll get some feedback from the manager and see what he says.

“Last year I just tried to do my best.

“Sometimes it didn’t come off but that’s how it is as a professional footballer and I’m starting to learn that. You can’t play well every time. It’s impossible.

“On the days when it didn’t come out, you learn from it and get on with it.”

Vieira has been hampered for the past 12 months by tendonitis in one knee, an ongoing issue which the midfielder said he was overcoming through additional fitness work.

He played 32 times last season regardless of the pain but endured a stop-start campaign under former head coaches Thomas Christiansen and Paul Heckingbottom.

“I feel good,” Vieira said. “I’ve been working a lot in the gym with my knee but it’s nothing bad.

“It’s not really bothering me. From working in the gym it’s getting better and better.”

Phillips revealed on Tuesday that Vieira was among the players who had been helping Bielsa break language barriers at Thorp Arch. Bielsa speaks little English but has two Spaniards in his squad, Pablo Hernandez and Samuel Saiz, and brought translator Salim Lamrani with him to Leeds last month.

“Everyone will say about the language barrier but it’s not been a barrier,” Bielsa said. “Everyone understands and we’re trying to apply it all.

“He’s got a translator with him but the translator speaks perfect English so it’s like one person talking. We’re getting all the ideas.

“From what the players are saying, everyone’s enjoying it. There’s a lot of tactical stuff but the tactical stuff can win you games.

“That’s what we need.”