Marcelo Bielsa on Leeds United's problem at Tottenham Hotspur, Joe Gelhardt and Archie Gray

Marcelo Bielsa tried too many different solutions for Leeds United's second half problem in a 2-1 defeat by Tottenham Hotspur.

Sunday, 21st November 2021, 7:52 pm
Updated Sunday, 21st November 2021, 7:54 pm
FIRST START - Joe Gelhardt started his first Premier League game at Tottenham Hotspur and pleased Marcelo Bielsa with his performance. Pic: Getty

The Whites head coach saw his side dominate Antonio Conte's Spurs in the first half and take a lead through Daniel James, before succumbing to a second half revival from the hosts.

Goals from Pierre-Emile Højbjerg and Sergio Reguilon took the game away from Leeds, who had far less control after the break.

"In the second half it was difficult for us not to be dominated, the differences that we established in the first half in terms of dominance were important but the differences that they established over us in the second half were also important," said Bielsa.

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"The final half of an hour of the game was difficult for us. The game presented a difficulty that I saw clearly. In the first half when they attacked with three and two midfielders we had a lot of presence so they couldn't get the ball to their fowarfs freely, especially over their two defensive midfielders and we lost that in the second half, their two midfielders started to manage the ball better and they improved their forwards because they got the ball to the in better conditions."

When Bielsa became aware of the issue that was giving Spurs more control, he made a number of different attempts to fix it but in the end concluded that despite tinkering on what he felt was too many occasions, the issue remained.

"When I started seeing that problem I tried to solve it in different ways. I started seeing that problem and tried to solve it. We started in the second half with Klich and Forshaw, after I attempted with Phillips and Forshaw, after with Phillips and Tyler. After with Pascal and Tyler and. Finally with Pascal and Dallas. It was far too many movements to solve the problem and in the end we didn't solve this problem. And my task is to see the problem and to solve it and I didn't manage to do it. To have used so many variants isn't good because there wasn't enough minutes for the players to assimilate the positions they moved to."

Bielsa was hit with a double fitness blow before the game, with illness keeping Raphinha out of action and a minor foot problem depriving the Whites of Rodrigo's services.

Their absence was no excuse, Bielsa insisted.

"You can't ignore the importance of those players but the first half showed that we can attempt to dominate the opponent with the players that we have so to justify the performances with the absences, given that we managed to play 60 minutes with the players we had with us balanced or with us a little bit better, it weakens the arguments that the absences is the reason for the result," he said.

Bielsa's injury list presented an opportunity for 19-year-old striker Joe Gelhardt to gain his first Premier League start and what he did in his 87 minutes pleased the boss.

"In the first half and in the first part of the second half we had incidents in the game, as the team declined in the final 30 minutes his performance was also dragged back because the team stopped having hold of the ball," said Bielsa.

"The feeling that the performance left me was that he was the height, the level of the competition, he showed personality, he could adapt to the rhythm of the game, they are things that are important."

The head coach also revealed that 15-year-old Archie Gray, grandson and great nephew of club legends Frank and Eddie, had been considered when putting together the matchday squad. Gray travelled with the team to London but sat in the stands having not made the bench.

"He was an option to be on the substitutes bench but in the end he wasn't picked," said Bielsa