Marcelo Bielsa makes Leeds United drop zone admission and fires Watford warning but refutes 'risky' Whites claims

Marcelo Bielsa has been preparing for Saturday’s clash against Watford whilst Leeds United face familiar criticism.

By Lee Sobot
Friday, 1st October 2021, 5:04 pm

Micah Richards summed it up on Match Of The Day following a third defeat of the Premier League season in last weekend’s hosting of West Ham.

“Later on in the game they have got eight players forward, gambling, when sometimes you just have to see out a result,” said the former England right back.

“They are almost shooting themselves in the foot every single time.”

UNWAVERED: Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa, centre, during last weekend's 2-1 defeat to West Ham United at Elland Road. Photo by George Wood/Getty Images.

Richards was referring to Leeds sending players up the park in search of a late winner with the Whites and Hammers drawing 1-1 at Elland Road.

Seconds later, Bielsa’s Whites were staring at another defeat as a Hammers counter attack led to Michail Antonio firing home a 90th-minute winner.

It means Bielsa’s side are now in the Premier League’s relegation zone ahead of this afternoon’s clash against the 12th-placed Hornets.

Yet United’s head coach refutes suggestions that his attacking side are guilty of taking too many risks and provided a detailed analysis of his side’s latest reverse to highlight his point.

“Every time we analyse a game, we do it considering all the aspects,” said Bielsa.

“In this last game, after they (West Ham) drew level we lost a connection between the posterior part of the team and the superior part of the team.

“We had more possession than the opponent and the five players who play in the posterior part of the team, the back four and (Kalvin) Phillips, were able to have the ball a lot more than the same segment of the opponent.

"I am referring to concrete data. But the opposite of what was expected, happened.

“West Ham’s back line touched the ball less but even so their forwards were able to touch the ball more than ours and that confirms what we think was a deficit of the team.

"In the last 25 minutes we were not able to continue doing what we had done in the power of play or in one half and half of half.

“In those 60 minutes it wasn’t that we were clearly superior to the opponent but we were able to implement our game.

“In the last 20 to 25 minutes after they drew level, we lost that capacity so Leeds is now described once again as a team that takes too many risks and for this reason they defend poorly.”

That, though, is a theory that Bielsa disputes.

The Whites boss continued: “If you analyse the origin of how the opponent created their chances, there is only one counter attack, we didn’t lose the ball once in our own half where it caused us danger

“There were a lot of shots from distance which implies that our defenders were not overcome.

“There were some chances through set pieces, there were some chances that came from throw-ins where all the structure was in place and the most important thing from the opponent, they constructed attacks from fixed situations.

“We had more elements to defend than they did to attack so that shows that we were not imprudent.

“In any case, it was difficult for us to neutralise their individualities.

"That doesn’t mean we defended well, but what is clear is that we didn’t defend poorly due to the reasons that are being mentioned that what they say is that we exchange an attack for an attack.

“We attack, of course, but it is not a product of our attacking that we are defending poorly.

“I would say the total opposite, that when we don’t manage to attack is when we defend our worst.

"In the last 25 minutes we attacked with seven players – the two full-backs and the two wingers and the three players in the middle, Dallas, Rodrigo and Klich.

"When that connection declines we defended too close to our own goal and the unbalances that the opponent created, created danger.

“But they created chances through set pieces, throw ins, long distance finishes and the other aspects which are usually the ones that make us worse.

“The counter attacks and the losses of the ball in our own half – they only created one chance through that manner.”

Bielsa felt his side would have been worthy of a draw against the Hammers but the Whites head coach says managers must become accustomed to not getting what they deserve.

What’s not in doubt is that Leeds are still seeking a first victory of the new season but Bielsa is remaining as hopeful for his side as ever.

Asked if he felt United’s first win was imminent or if he was kept awake worrying about it – Bielsa reasoned: “Nor one thing nor the other.

“I sleep normally and I always have the hope that we are able to win every one of our games.

"What we are forced to do every time we play is to deserve to impose ourselves.

“Deserving is not always synonymous with obtaining but it is a lot easier to get what you are looking for when you deserve it than when you don’t.

"But football has that particularity which prizes those who don’t deserve to get them.”

When it comes to prizes, one of the star men on Saturday’s opposing side is in the running to bag the league’s top accolade for September.

A series of impressive displays led to Watford winger Ismaila Sarr being nominated for the Premier League player-of-the-month award.

There is, says Bielsa, also much more to be wary of than just Sarr.

“They are a solid team,” said United’s head coach.

“They are combative with players of experience that fundamentally complicate the development of the play of the opponent and they have forwards who are quick, who can surprise you.

"They give a good complement to the defensive aspect by asking (questions) in behind.”

Bielsa, though, remains committed to his own chosen style of play and says there is no shortage of belief despite six games without a win.

“The players have not lost confidence,” he said.

“There is no need to give something that is already conserved and already there. What we do in every case is to perceive the errors and try and to try and correct them.”

Asked about the importance of finally bagging a first victory of the new season Bielsa reasoned: “It’s always important to win especially when you have gone six games without winning and if you occupy one of the last three positions in the table even more so.

"The other reference is the performances that go in the opposite direction to these negative aspects and it’s the support to come back from this situation.”

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Thank you Laura Collins