Marcelo Bielsa on Leeds United's new Elland Road pitch as CEO rubbishes suggestions head coach was unhappy

Marcelo Bielsa was at a loss to explain why his Leeds United players struggled so much on the newly laid Elland Road pitch last night against Everton.

Thursday, 4th February 2021, 11:43 am
SLIPPY SURFACE - Leeds United's players met the new pitch at Elland Road on frequent occasions last night against Everton, but Marcelo Bielsa says the surface is a big improvement. Pic: PA

The head coach admitted his side appeared to lose their footing more than the visitors after heavy rainfall in the lead up to the game, but insisted the new surface, acquired from Tottenham Hotspur for around £300,000, was a big improvement.

"I only saw my team slip and I didn't see the opponents slip," he said with a wry smile when asked about Leeds' issues with the pitch during the game.

"We're very happy to be able to count on a pitch that is much better than the last games. It's impossible to make a reference to why we slipped."

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Leeds chief executive Angus Kinnear used his programme notes for last night's game against the Toffees to rubbish suggestions that Bielsa had complained to the club's hierarchy about the Elland Road pitch, before the club acted to replace the top layer.

Last summer's truncated pre-season meant the club's planned full reconstruction wasn't possible, so a period of inclement weather and long-standing drainage issues resulted in the pitch cutting up badly and becoming heavy, which slowed passes and affected Bielsa's fast flowing style of play.

The Whites used a window of opportunity between the home game against Brighton on January 16 and last night's clash with the Toffees to lift the top layer and replace it with a hybrid turf system HT Pro that Spurs had been growing.

"Contrary to scurrilous internet rumours, Marcelo is too good a coach to make excuses (even if they were justifiable and did not complain once about the surface," said Kinnear.

"It was only auturgy of head of facilities Mark Broadley to identify and seize the kairos of being able to secure a ready-grown pitch that our friends at Tottenham Hotspur agreed to release to be used at Elland Road.

"While the solution will not negate the need for a full pitch reconstruction in the summer, we are confident that the interm improvement will facilitate the breathtakingly fast, free-flowing football that has become our trademark and reinforces the board's commitment to help the team in every way we can."