Leeds United v Manchester United: Marcelo Bielsa press conference on team news, Super League, 'Big Six' treatment and Joe Gelhardt

ALL the latest news as Whites head coach Marcelo Bielsa faces the media ahead of Sunday's Premier League clash against arch rivals Manchester United at Elland Road.

Friday, 23rd April 2021, 11:20 am

Leeds are approaching Sunday's 2pm kick-off on a five-game unbeaten run and having followed a 2-1 triumph at champions-elect Manchester City with a 1-1 draw at home to Liverpool.

Bielsa will be speaking to the media at 9.30am and all the latest news will follow here after the press conference's conclusion.

Team news - are Rodrigo and Raphinha available?

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WE'RE BACK: Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa, left, and Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who will lock horns in a first Elland Road league fixture between the two clubs in nearly 18 years. Graphic by Graeme Bandeira.

"With Raphinha we are controlling his evolution on a daily basis and up until now he hasn't recovered sufficiently to be able to train again. And Rodrigo is in the last stages of his recovery but not well enough to feature this weekend."

On Joe Gelhardt - if he gets to play, where do you see him playing, what are his main attributes?

"His natural position is as a centre forward, he's a player who has a great capacity to finish off moves and he is a player who has dribbling skills in the final third and just before the finalisation of the move."

What do you need to do better this time against Man U?

"Every game we go into trying to score and trying to avoid conceding. Of course what happened in that last game, we have it present in our minds. In the measures to try and avoid conceding goals, we have some tactical aspects and after we have to implement the ideas and impose. We have to recognise the characteristics of the opponents' forwards and try to organise our players on the field so that they can pick up the protagonists in the United play. We try to match them up with players from our team who are up to the challenge of neutralizing them."

ESL - what would you like to see happen now?

"Those are decisions that are taken considering a lot of aspects and the majority of the aspects that are considered is out of my reach or capacity to analyse. But I do think it is a good opportunity to look at the problems in football in a global sense and there are things that shouldn't be ignored like the fact that we should reduce the amount of games that are played, improve in the quality of the games that are played and the path to better the quality of the games is to make better the players and for that there needs to be more space for preparation and to lower the fatigue of a player due to the constant games. And another aspect that is fundamental for football to be more even is that there is a higher amount of quality players and how you manage this is with a lot of time and investment in the formation of players. For example, Germany and England who have had projects in this aspect, they have generations of great players coming through which shows that this is possible and for the newer generation to stay linked to football their spectacle has to improve. It's about focusing on these aspects - better players, better prepared and formed better. And to rationalise the revenue that is created by football. And in this sense there is nothing more healthy and the way to do this is to adapt the honory of each participant and to reduce the games and that there is absolute transparency in all the incomings and outgoings within the structure of a club. If you listen to everything I have just said, there is no new idea, I am only repeating what has been talked about which is the problems and the solutions and the message is that I am repeating, I have heard these opinions from somewhere else from people more capable than I am about this. The formation and the preparation of the players improves the spectacle of the game, you can't aspire to earn more by playing less games and the solution can't be that every time there is more teams that compete in the biggest competitions. And for me, the reasoning should be that there should be more teams that are deserving to compete and to participate in these great competitions because you see that there is a sector that is aspiring that only the big clubs should participate in this competition and the opposite of this is that more teams should compete in these competitions. This has two consequences that if this is carried the spectacle will only be for 20 teams and if you are increasing the amount of games that are played in all these competitions which we apparently are then the spectacle is not going to improve. What Germany and England have done is they have thought about what is going to happen in ten years time and they invested money in the grassroots and the formation and preparation of the players and this has given them results. So to sum up - which is a virtue that I don't have - my idea is that the quality of the spectacle improves given space for preparation, avoiding the excess of injuries due to the excess of games that we have because this also has a big cost, not being able to count on the players. You have to have more players thinking that some of the players that you have are not going to be able to participate and to improve the quality of the squad due to the formation of the players."

What would it mean to the fans to beat Man U on Sunday?

"I know perfectly what it means to play in a classic game, it is something that has to have built up for many years to lay in the feelings of the fans and I know the effect that the result will have on the emotion of the people."

How would you describe Man U's style as a team?

"The more simple the football is, the better it is, this principle is supported when the players do what they should do and what they are best doing. And in this sense Manchester United is an example of this. The players do what they know best to do and this permits them to create a style in that the games are simple to decipher but this is a praise because to be able to play simple is very difficult and managing to achieve it is very satisfying."

On the improved defence?

"I think that there has been a growth in maturity of the team in general and the development of players playing every game. Experience means being able to choose the correct decisions in that moment. When a team reaches this state of maturity they make less errors which is the consequence which is most direct and it elevates the production of the team and we have to show this once every week."

On Forshaw

"He picked up a muscular injury in the last game and this will keep him out for an undefined period of time."

On Roberts

"He has played many games in a row. And he has shown that he has the resources to justify his starting position in the team. He has virtues which are very difficult to find in football at the moment. He has all the resources necessary to unbalance defensively and clearly he still has a lot to grow to make his attempts useful or efficient. He has many virtues and he needs to impact in these games in accordance with the virtues that he has but clearly there are not many players with his creative aspect."

On Poveda

"He hasn't had the luck of Tyler where he is able to play many games. For any player to play they have to show they are in better conditions to play than the player who occupies that position or that there are spaces in the team for reasons not to do with performance. In this sense, Poveda hasn't had many opportunities because Raphinha and Harrison have played more and when either of those have been absent, Helder Costa has played more than them but he (Poveda) is a player who has a great capacity to unbalance, He has dribbling skills which are difficult to decipher but like I was saying about Tyler he needs to create these attempts into something that impacts the game. But you have to be able to play to show conclusions and he has had very few minutes, not because he doesn't deserve them. But because I have taken decisions to position him behind Raphinha, Harrison and Costa but in some ways he deserves more minutes due to the qualities that he has."

Giving young players minutes - something you will do towards the end of the season?

"One of the great consequences of this first year in the Premier League is that Meslier, Shackleton, Pascal and Tyler have been able to demonstrate that they deserve to be in a squad of 18 players in the Premier League and when you see the price of a player in a Premier League squad in the upper stages of the league, to have brought through four players we see clearly the importance of these players coming from the Academy for the project for Leeds. It's not about putting players in that are young, it's about playing them because they deserve to play over the players playing more regularly or that they can take advantage of absences by showing that they have the level required."

On the defensive improvements - what is it down to?

"For the structure defensively the whole team is responsible, not just certain players and in the position of centre back which is where we have suffered the most absences there is no player who has done it badly. If there has been an improvement when we defend it is because we have improved as a team."

Call for calm now after ESL protests?

"I always hope that there is calmness and in this case now singling out the players I don't think is adequate and I think that this subject has already been consumed. In football and in a classic game like this there is a grade of excitement that is absolutely enough. And the most clear demand from this episode is to put the focus on the competition."

Should the big six be punished and if so what sanctions?

"I don't think that the path for this solution is for those clubs to be punished, but to convince what is best. And after for them to come up with rules of acceptance in general and make sure that these rules are adhered to. When a rule is broken and this forces a sanction it means that the process before wasn't sufficient and the leadership of the organisations to administer the interests of everybody is to create rules that everyone is able to adhere to because they all accept them. I am of the opinion that punishment is more for authority and shows that the quality of the efficiency of the rules was in question."