Marcelo Bielsa says Leeds United were better than Nottingham Forest despite defeat and takes the blame again
Marcelo Bielsa has vowed to find new solutions to Leeds United's problems, after a 2-0 defeat by Nottingham Forest.
The Whites have now lost four of their last five Championship games but unlike previous defeats, this one saw them struggle to create their usual spate of clear-cut chances.
Forest hit the front on 31 minutes at a packed City Ground when Sammy Ameobi shot past Kiko Casilla at his near post and although Leeds dominated territory and possession for large spells, they only came close to an equaliser on a couple of occasions, before Lewis Walker's breakaway goal deep in time added on sealed United's fate.
Bielsa could not fault his players' effort and said it touched him to see them putting so much into the game.
He also claimed his side were better than Forest, so once again took responsibility for the result upon himself.
"The team made a big effort," he said
"How the team ran today, all the effort the players did, really touched me tonight.
"We had better players than the opponent, but what we did wasn't enough to avoid another defeat. Trying to give an explanation now is not useful. The resources the team have is enough. We cannot more demand more effort from the players. So clearly it is not player responsibility at this moment, it is necessary to say that the responsibility for this moment of the team is mine because clearly if you have good players and those players give all on the pitch, the conclusions are clear. I have to understand that it is me who has to find the solutions."
Since the turn of the year Leeds have lost to Sheffield Wednesday, Queens Park Rangers, Wigan Athletic and now Forest and have failed to hit the net in each of those games.
Today their offensive output wasn't as relentless as it usually is - they did muster 13 shots but only one was on target - and again, Bielsa took the blame.
"What I see, I make a comparison between the tools the opponents have to beat us and ours to impose, after I think we have more resources than the opponent we faced tonight," he said.
"If you have resources, players, who give a lot of effort and it's not enough, if the opponent finds solutions we are not finding, it is fair to not put the responsibility on the players. I know that this one was not a match of 10 chances missed, it was a very close match where none of either team had a lot of possibilities, what both teams did in attack was quite similar. But of course we needed goals and they scored once before us. If tonight we didn't create the same chances we used to create that makes the situation worse. It is for this reason I feel responsible. But of course I am ready, prepared to give solutions in this moment for Leeds and overcome all the difficulties during all the competition to try to resolve this situation."
When asked if he felt he had to protect his players from external pressure, Bielsa insisted there was no pressure and the expectations put on the team by the club and its fans were fair.
"I protect players if they deserve it," he said.
"Pressure for the players and for myself doesn't exist. We are professionals and we know perfectly what happens when a team is prepared for success doesn't succeed. The supporters and club's expectations about the team are fair, obviously we are not giving the expected answer and the club has resources to demand better answers. The resources the club have is the players and the staff and it is obvious that we expect those demands.
"But I insist on something, it is not that I protect players because protecting players means saying something I don't believe in and I never say what I don't believe in."
One player coming under increasing scrutiny is Bielsa's goalkeeper, Casilla.
The Spaniard has been guilty in recent weeks of more errors leading to goals than in all the games before Cardiff City's mid-December draw at Elland Road.
Bielsa absolved Casilla of blame for the defeat and said it would be unfair to focus on the goalkeeper's performance.
"When you analyse football you cannot analyse football without mistakes," he said.
"If it was a mistake, maybe this provoked the goal, but this mistake doesn't provoke the defeat. When you analyse the defeat, there are more conditions and I insist with one argument, I sincerely think the resources I'm managing are better than the opponents' resources so I am not going to take decisions that focus the responsibility on some players.
"Of course I analyse and I am forced to take decisions but also when you take a decision it has to change in a positive way the reality you want to change. It is necessary to find the problems and not make wrong decisions in the solution you propose. In general, there are solutions the teams need and I'm not getting that yet.
"All what I answer around Casilla in a moment where Casilla has offered answers that weren't enough, it would be unfair if I analysed those kinds of actions. Keepers of course they make mistakes and big top goalkeepers are not top goalkeepers because they don't make mistakes, but for the capacity to correct themselves in bad moments. We have different ways to manage the situation, I think that I cannot condemn in public the situation of Casilla."
Bielsa, who gave a 59-minute press conference on Thursday in which he stated that supporters had lost faith in the team but the team had not lost faith in themselves, reiterated that his faith remains and he'll keep looking for the answers they need.
"Of course I never give up, I'm always fighting, I always believe, I always keep faith and I always find new ways to make the team do better when they play again," he said.