Manchester City v Leeds United: Marcelo Bielsa press conference on Pep Guardiola, Jack Harrison and 'top seven' aim

ALL the latest as Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa faces the media ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.

By Lee Sobot
Thursday, 8th April 2021, 3:35 pm

Pep Guardiola's side are 14 points clear at the top of the table but were held to a 1-1 draw in an epic clash at Elland Road back in October and Leeds now sit 11th, level on points with tenth-placed Arsenal.

Bielsa will be speaking to the press at 9am and all the latest news will follow here after the press conference's conclusion.

On Jack Harrison - how big a blow missing him against City due to terms of loan move?

CITY DATE: For Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa. Photo by LINDSEY PARNABY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images.

"We would have hoped to have been able to count on him, especially as his last performances have been good. But we knew about the rule that impeded him from playing."

Any other injuries etc?

"At this moment no."

Brilliant game last time against City - same again?

"Both teams' aims' accentuated an increase in creativity and this created a good spectacle."

On Aguero

"The recognition and evaluation of his performances recognise how important he has been for Manchester City and the Premier League."

The competition for places out wide - a chance for someone with Harrison out?

"Like in all the positions we have more than one option and we are in conditions to resolve this by picking one of those."

Is this the best it has been in terms of competition for places with injuries ending?

"Yes we are happy to be able to have no injuries at this moment in time. Given that three quarters of the season has passed and we are able to count on a full squad is really good."

How much have you evolved since the 1-1 draw?

"Well the team will be subject to a big test against the leaders Manchester City and we will see how the team has evolved, I prefer not to anticipate and wait for the game to evolve."

Good time to play City given their other cup involvements?

"Teams like Manchester City are prepared to play two times a week and play in different competitions. To play in a team like this is not just enough to be good, you have to maintain that level every two or three days."

What level is needed against City? And do you train with that in mind this week?

"This, what you say, we apply this to every single game. And whilst I do understand your hypothesis we always aim for the team to run at its maximum capabilities and we try and do this against every opportunity."

Is there a part of the pitch against City where players have greater responsibility or more difficulty

"I interpret the competition as on all places on the pitch and all of these battles influence what is going to happen throughout."

Alioski played wide left against City - why was that?

"The wingers that make up our squad apart from Harrison - Poveda, Helder Costa and Alioski, they all play this position in a different manner and they have different strengths to show what they can do but we are always looking for the same thing, that they attack, getting in behind and that they defend the necessary amount."

Did you pay City too much respect in the opening stages last time?

"No it wasn't a question of excessive respect for the opponent, nor the consciousness of what we had to resolve. We know that if we are not able to take the ball off City we know the consequences. This only happens if we are not able to achieve it, not through a lack of trying."

How important is it to play in a fearless fashion?

"All the different parts are adequate and they are all adequate if you are able to implement them and prevent the opponent from doing what they want. If a team waits and sits back and doesn't allow their opponent's attack to prosper and hits them on the counter attack and if a team is able to stop the other team from monopolising the ball and also able to attack them that is also good. The most important thing from the path that you take is that you are able to implement it and have success with what you choose. Every team chooses what style they like to impose."

For your team?

"For three years now we have been trying to play in one way. And when you are trying to play in a certain way there are always things to correct and if you change the way you play then you start another process. I always think that you have to improve the way you want to play rather than start something else but there are managers that manage to get their teams to be able to play in different manners at different times. And what I would like is to play in the same way every time though."

Could City get near the quadruple?

"The evaluation of the way Man City play, I do it without consideration of their results. Of course, the style of a team is only appreciated or valued if it allows you to win. This idea of value in something that triumphs has the risk of valuing those who win when they don't deserve to. The results obtained are not always the deserved one. The results that are deserved are not always obtained. If you want to value results it's very simple, very easy. Sometimes the results in our analysis generate recognition or criticism. The same thing happens with what you deserve. Then there is another way, a lot more simple. To value those who win and scar those who lose."

Is it more demanding to play against a Pep side in terms of the running needed?

“The games against teams who have the capacity to have answers or do things that are unexpected make the games full of surprises.

“When I classified Guardiola’s team or style of play as magical, I wasn’t calling him a magician.

“What I was trying to say is that in the process that his team creates so many surprising attacks. Of course, this is supported by the quality of his players but there is a method which asks for this which stimulates what they do and this is the difficult thing to detect. From the outside it looks as though the manager has done something magical.

“What I wanted to say is that from the outside it is impossible to detect how he manages this but I know there’s a code, a method that unites the individualities with what he proposes and this creates a football that is full of surprises and there’s nothing nicer for a spectator than to see something they did not expect. To say the opposite is when you know exactly what is going to happen, eventually what it causes is boredom.”

One win against teams in the top 7 - why is that and how do you change that?

"In principle it is a reality and it's our objective to be able to modify this. There are a lot of teams in a similar position to us who have been able to beat teams in the top positions, that is to say it is possible and we haven't managed to achieve that yet."

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Thank you Laura Collins