Marcelo Bielsa on reasons for Leeds United's unusual display at Southampton, Raphinha decision and not making changes at half-time

Marcelo Bielsa made no excuse of the injury crisis that left him without six first team players after Leeds United's dismal showing in a 1-0 defeat at Southampton.

Saturday, 16th October 2021, 6:02 pm

The Whites, without Kalvin Phillips, Junior Firpo, Patrick Bamford, Luke Ayling and Robin Koch through injury and Raphinha due to a Brazil appearance on Friday and 15 hours of flight, were dominated in the first half by the Saints.

Leeds mustered just one shot at goal in the first 45 minutes and it came right before the break, whereas Southampton did enough damage to deserve the win Bielsa felt.

The second half was a somewhat tighter affair but the Saints managed to find a winner through Armando Borja.

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NO EXCUSE: From Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa, left, pictured during Saturday's 1-0 defeat against Southampton at St Mary's as Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl, right, looks on. Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images.

"The defeat was fair, it was justified in the first half," said Bielsa.

"Even if they scored in the second half.

"We didn't play well evidently, it was difficult for us to play out and prevent them from being fluid.

"It was difficult for us to recover the ball in the middle of the pitch.

"We didn't prevent their possession from becoming promising attacks.

"Evidently our game didn't look like the one we usually play.

"In the second half, it's not that we played well but in the first half we were overcome and in the second half we couldn't overcome them.

"The differences in the first half were shortened in the second.

"Normally when a team loses energy that is put into evidence as the game develops.

"I did see some differences in potency and power in some parts of the pitch."

Southampton made life difficult for Leeds but the visitors were also guilty of causing themselves problems, choosing the wrong options in possession and turning it over too easily.

Bielsa said the issues the game threw up contrived to make it hard to create danger.

"It was difficult for us to recover the ball in the opponents' half which is an element that helps us, it was difficult for us to recover the ball when the opponent made the first half from their half to our half, which is also a way to find the opponent out of position, which facilitates the attack," he said.

"Their attacks always finished in our box.

"For that reason our play always started from pretty far back.

"We had chances to facilitate our playing out, Tyler and Rodrigo had opportunities to receive the ball but we went wide too much, we didn't manage to get the ball to them from Meslier, Pascal or Klich so the ball always came out wide from our defence and from there it is difficult to make passes to make our attacks simpler.

"This explanation is very theoretical but it's what I saw."

Phillips was kept out by the combination of a calf injury that kept him out of England action in the international break and a hip problem, while Firpo picked up a muscle injury on Thursday.

Bielsa said the absence of six players was not a factor in the performance.

"It's not common that a team loses six players, I can't not admit it," he said.

"But sincerely we started the game with 11 players who participate normally.

"I'm referring to Pascal starting, it's not a new player starting. Shackleton and Tyler the same.

"It's not like we started the game with players who don't start the game usually. I don't link the quality of our game to the absences of players.

"For Raphinha we decided he was going to fly after his game without knowing how many minutes he was going to play on the Friday.

"In the end he played 70 minutes, he flew 15 hours and today at midday he wasn't in condition to take on board not even a part of the game. We didn't risk him.

"It's possible that in circumstances like this injuries can occur.

"In the case of Phillips in the two weeks after the Watford game, he was working on the injury that was bothering him, a muscular problem in his calf, during those days for a while now he's had a problem in his hip.

"Those two joined together, even if he was close to being able to play the game, the conditions weren't the necessary ones for him to play.

"Firpo has a muscular problem on Thursday before the game.

"Of the absent players, the only player who had a muscular problem is Firpo.

"The rest of them, like I said, Ayling with his knee, Phillips and Koch with hips, Bamford's turned ankle and Raphinha due to the accumulation of the games and the flight."

Despite the poor first half, Bielsa elected not to make changes at the break and kept faith with the starting XI, only putting on Adam Forshaw, Joe Gelhardt and Crysencio Summerville in the final 26 minutes.

He felt his team managed to do better in the second half without deserving the result.

"The message [at half-time] was exactly to describe the problems and to propose a way in which we could solve them and I thought I had to insist with the players that started the game," he said.

"In the second half the differences were shortened, it's not that we dominated but we stopped being dominated.

"In one of the few moments we managed an even game, they managed to score.

"I insist without playing well, the differences in the first half deserved the victory of the opponent."

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Thank you Laura Collins