Marcelo Bielsa on Leeds United's beating by Manchester United and Robin Koch's performance

Marcelo Bielsa insists Leeds United's 5-1 season opening defeat by Manchester United was not down to individual performances.

Saturday, 14th August 2021, 3:12 pm
DIFFICULT DAY - Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa suffered another defeat by a four-goal deficit at Manchester United. Pic: Tony Johnson

The Whites head coach defended midfielder Robin Koch, who he felt played well despite the man he was marking, Bruno Fernandes, scoring a hat-trick.

Manchester United's biggest threat was too hot for the visitors to handle and routinely gave Koch a difficult time, while Paul Pogba claimed four assists in a dominant midfield performance.

"It was very difficult for us to recover the ball and it was very difficult for us to create any danger," said Bielsa at full-time.

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"It was for a number of reasons, none of them the high press or the individual performance of a player."

Bielsa kept Kalvin Phillips on the bench, the midfielder's late return following his Euros involvement with England truncating his pre-season and giving Koch a start in the central defensive midfield position.

Phillips' absence and Koch's performance were not to blame for the defeat, Bielsa said.

"Phillips is a player who always shines [but] I don't think it's a question of individualities as to why we couldn't play a more balanced game," he said.

"Like I said at the start it was difficult for us to take the ball off them and difficult for us to create. I liked how [Koch] played. I thought he was a dynamic player, he was present, he was willing, committed. He made lots of effort and he had presence throughout the game."

The scoreline and the quick-fire nature of the goals that took the game away from Leeds and turned it into a rout were reminiscent of the 6-2 defeat they suffered on their last visit to Old Trafford.

This time, however, Bielsa felt Manchester United's dominance was not as pronounced, as often as in last season's meeting.

"In the previous game there were moments with a big difference between the two teams, in this game those moments were less," he added.

Leeds suffered no fresh injuries in the contest according to Bielsa.