Marcelo Bielsa takes the blame for Leeds United's defeat to Wigan Athletic, addresses fan frustration and absence of Jean-Kevin Augustin

Marcelo Bielsa took the blame for Leeds' 1-0 defeat at home to Wigan Athletic but admitted fans are tired of listening to explanations of why the Whites lose games in this way.

By Graham Smyth
Saturday, 1st February 2020, 6:33 pm
Updated Saturday, 1st February 2020, 6:56 pm

For the umpteenth time, United were completely dominant and created a number of good chances to win but were undone by a set-piece and despite camping out in the Wigan half in the latter stages, couldn't find an equaliser.

Bielsa's press conference had a by-now overly familiar theme.

"I have nothing new to say," he said.

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"Anything I say maybe you could interpret as an excuse, a justification. Two questions that the match leaves, how could we lose this match, it was impossible to lose - not before playing, after playing. The second question is why did we lose a match that we had to win?

"What I do is ask myself what we should have done that we didn't do.

"There are close answers, that we should have scored one of the 15 chances we have. There finishes the analysis."

Top goalscorer Patrick Bamford was again guilty of missing good chances, Jack Harrison hit the post and failed to find the net despite going past David Marshall, and substitute Tyler Roberts saw a shot deflected just wide.

Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa took responsibility for the defeat by Wigan Athletic (Pic: Bruce Rollinson)

Bielsa said his side were unable to make the most of possession in dangerous areas, because the penalty area was packed with defenders.

"After 15 chances, we had another 10 situations where we didn't create danger because we did passes in the box. Those 10 situations where we didn't create danger, inside the six-yard box, there were 15 players," he said.

"So if the player who gives the pass tries to give an accurate pass, it's impossible. So what the player does it cross with strength and trying to find someone to touch the ball. Of course if the answer is that we need a player to unbalance the match, of course it is true as well. But 80 matches passed and we had the same situation here. We never resolved a match with an individual performance."

The Argentine highlighted the stop-start nature of the game, how little the ball was actually in play and his team's lack of players capable of making a difference in a congested area by dribbling past players. At half-time, he found it hard to believe Leeds wouldn't score and equally difficult to believe Wigan would.

"I didn't see a player in a low level," he said.

"How the team attacks, the way the team chose to attack I think was the right one. A team that was calm to attack. Defensively I didn't see a problem as well. Imagine when the pitch is wider, is longer, we attack better. For us the length of the pitch is always 30 metres. The attacking play we propose in 30m has some value. One detail that is important to know - the teams that are forced to play in a space of 30m, normally those teams have players to unbalance a match with a dribble. We don't have those kind of players, just Helder Costa, The rest of how we attack is combination play between two or three players.

"When you know that it is impossible that the goal doesn't arrive, I give some value to keeping the result 1-0, just lose for one goal. What I'm saying is maybe not logical, the team always gave the necessary passes and it was not a team playing in a rush, we play in the way we have to play because it's difficult to think that playing in this way we were not going to score one goal. After the first half I said that to the players, try to remain focused in defence because it's very difficult for them to score. But after, what I imagined didn't happen. It was difficult to think how Wigan were going to score. And it was also difficult to think how we were not going to score. The two opposites of what I thought would happen, happened."

But the head coach empathised with fans who are frustrated and fed up of seeing their team dominate but come away with nothing.

Today's defeat was their fifth in 10 games, during which time they've only won twice. He took full responsibility.

"I try to be in the position of the people who listen to all these arguments, you as journalists and supporters are the recipients of this message," he said.

"I imagine that everyone is tired that it is the same.

"There is nothing that makes me feel more frustrated than not winning a match like this.

"But if was a Leeds supporter, I would say to the manager, explain to me what is happening the same, try to get what we need to happen. There is a big responsibility for me because after 80 matches we have the same problem and we cannot make the problem disappear. It is clear that the responsibility is on me. That happens one time every 10 matches and we have a team in line with what I ask of them, my ideas. That makes me more responsible because it is my fault. If the team doesn't do what I ask, okay maybe it's not 100 per cent my responsibility, but if they do everything I ask it is more the responsibility of mine than the team.

"To finish this confusing analysis we are talking about a team that is second in the table now, it was first before play.

"Because if Leeds, who are top or second in the table have this self criticism and the criticism is deserved, this is what football has that is difficult to understand.

"For this reason when you listen to me very patiently but in reality when I talk with you I am talking with the supporters, supporters should say stop with the explanation and try to make happen what we need to happen."

The absence of newly signed striker Jean-Kevin Augustin from today's match squad was another source of frustration for fans, particularly given the inability of the side to finish their chances.

But Bielsa will only play a player when he's convinced he's ready.

"I take the decision always thinking of the best for the player and for the team. Today I put a substitute on the pitch like a second striker and I thought the contribution of Tyler Roberts was good enough.

"What I think is that the manager has to help the player to make his performance has to be good. I'm always watching, seeing if the player is in good condition to resolve the needs of the team. When a player cannot resolve the needs of the team, after on the pitch it is the player who takes responsibility in front of the supporters. I always try to give minutes to a player until he's in condition to give a good response on the pitch."