Marcelo Bielsa revealed how he was using a 14-point training routine to sharpen Leeds United’s finishing but insisted he would devote no extra work to that side of their game despite seeing the club slip off the top of the Championship.
Leeds will attempt to regain first place against Hull City on Tuesday night following a frustrating evening at Sheffield Wednesday where chances went begging and Wednesday clung on for an ill-deserved 1-1 draw.
Bielsa’s players converted just one of 25 efforts on goal on Friday, averting a second successive defeat but falling short of the win a dominant display merited and leave themselves on a run of one victory from five games.
Leeds remain in a strong league position, lying second and a point behind West Bromwich Albion, but West Brom’s tally of 25 goals and current run of four wins from five Championship matches has propelled them to the front of the field.
Bielsa said he regularly put his squad through a pre-existing exercise focused entirely on finishing but said he was confident that performances as one-sided as that seen at Hillsborough would pay off over the long term.
“Sometimes you do the right thing and you don't get the result,” Bielsa said. “Sometimes you do the wrong thing and you get the result.
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“But if you don't do the right thing, you can't assume you’ll get the right result in the long term. If you do things right, at the end of the day you’ll get what you deserve.
“We work on finishing but if you’re efficient in training sessions it does not mean you have the guarantee to be efficient during games. As head coaches we work on creating chances to score.
“The leading teams in all competitions usually need three chances to actually score. The leading teams are not always big teams. If you’re very efficient, you can lead the table even if you’re not a big team. If you’re not efficient, even if you’re a big team and create a lot of chances, you might not occupy the rank you deserve. In a nutshell, efficiency is very important in football.”
West Brom are the only Championship side with more goals on their record than Leeds this season and United have opened Bielsa’s first season as head coach with an impressive record of one defeat in 10 league matches.
Bielsa lost first choice centre-forward Kemar Roofe to a calf problem at the start of the month, however, and his team have averaged one goal a game since routing Norwich City 3-0 on August 25.
Asked if he was focusing on finishing in training, Bielsa said: “There’s a routine of exercises that we do for finishing, with 14 different points and 14 different ways to finish an action. We see all the kind of goals we can score in football.
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“It’s a very short exercise and in 10 or 15 minutes we do all the different situations. We have to repeat this exercise many times. With a professional footballer, a good thing is to work on the finishing once each way because at the second or third attempt, he is trained enough and will finish well.
“That’s why we make them shoot just one time. We reproduce what we find in a game because apart from the skill you need, it’s also linked to state of mind, luck and many factors. If you insist on the training of these kinds of actions (more regularly), it’s good and it’s convenient. But I wouldn’t say it improves the finishing.”
Tuesday’s game at Hull will pit Leeds against a club in 21st position and struggling to gain any momentum. Bielsa is likely to field an unchanged line-up for the fifth game running and said he was not inclined to rotate his team on the basis of fatigue.
“When a team regularly wins, nobody is tired,” Bielsa said. “They all want to play.
“When you lose several games, we take into account the performance more than the state of the player. We use rotations more for the performance than if a player is tired or not.
“You could reply to me that when a player is tired, his performance is not very good. But when a player has a good performance, for the next game he never says he’s tired.”