Newcastle United v Leeds United - Marcelo Bielsa press conference on sticking to plan A, Pascal Struijk's ban and Rodrigo's value

Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa is facing the media today ahead of Friday night's clash at Newcastle United - and we will bring you all the very latest here.

Thursday, 16th September 2021, 3:49 pm

Both sides are still seeking their first win of the new Premier League season and Leeds will be looking to bounce back from Sunday's 3-0 reverse at home to Liverpool.

The Whites lost Diego Llorente to injury against the Reds as part of a contest in which fellow centre-back Pascal Struijk was shown a straight red card, for which he is now serving a three-game ban.

Another centre back, Robin Koch, has also been out injured with a pelvic issue whilst Adam Forshaw missed the contest due to a calf strain.

Sign up to our Leeds United newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

HEAD TO HEAD: Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce, left, and Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa. Graphic by Graeme Bandeira.

Bielsa will be speaking to the media at 1pm and all of the latest news will follow here after the press conference's conclusion.

Team news - on Llorente and Koch and how will you resolve the defensive issues against Newcastle?

"Of the four centre backs that we have, we are not able to count on Diego, Pascal or Koch but we are in conditions to resolve the issue."

On Pascal Struijk and his three-match ban

"After the game I commented that Pascal didn't have any intention to hurt the opponent. His intentions were different to the injury that was produced and he didn't have bad intentions. That's exactly the same thing that the injured player said."

But should the injury have an influence on the ban?

"Those things are very fine margins in the rules. What I can tell you with security is what I saw in the game, that what happened, it was impossible to anticipate when a player completes a successful recovery of the ball. To say it in another way, the majority of the plays that are similar to this one, don't generate the consequences that this one generated. That's why the injured player admits that there was no bad intention. I understand that those who judge and decide have different arguments to the ones that I have spoken about and to the ones that the injured player has spoken about and their arguments are the ones that decide the outcome and it is good that it's that way. What would be useful would be to receive information or an explanation of how to avoid these casual things from generating an injury. There are footballers who say it and those who saw it from close say there was no bad intention and it was a casualty that just happened. So it would be very useful for all of us that it is explained how to avoid the casual consequences that are circumstantial with no intention, how to avoid them because clearly they are punished. And the excessive use of the strength that in prudence in the decision taken by Pascal, shouldn't be considered to anaylse this action as in this action it wasn't an excessive use or imprudent use. That Pascal acted with exuberance belongs to the game and the consequences of what happened were linked more to it being a casual event rather than his intentions. It wasn't possible to calculate that the attempt that Pascal made to recover the ball would generate the injury that happened. What is clear is that what I have said is different to what those who judge and interpret but we should be guided by the thoughts of those who decide, not of those by me. To hope to receive an explanation perhaps is excessive but it would help to improve the decision making of the players. There is also a very simple exercise - to compare all the identical actions that don't generate the consequences and the amount of similar actions that don't have the same consequence, they are not even punished with a foul, like in this case. After a casual situation like this causes an injury and there's a red card then I accept it but I would like to hear the explanation."

More team news - on Forshaw and Bamford - there was talk this week that Bamford might have a hamstring injury?

"Bamford has no difficulties and Forshaw is finishing the recovery of his injury and from next week he will be available."

You have been critical of yourself - what do you need to improve from a personal point of view?

"I am never critical of my job or my labour without explaining why and I did it in the press conference beforehand. The job of a manager is not measured by the quality of the resources that he has but by those resources obtaining the result that we are looking for. Normally I don't have problem diagnosing the problems that we suffer but knowing what the problems are doesn't mean having a solution for them or solving them. You start using different resources and it is only good how you manage it if the reality changes. I clearly saw that the plan of the opponent in the last game had a superior effect to the one I proposed for the game. We couldn't neutralise their set pieces, not because we ignored the strength of possibly the best two headerers in the Premier league at the moment but because of the way we chose to combat it wasn't effective. It is necessary to improve our game, not to lose the ball in our own half and there are two parts - one that we are not going to use - which is not to put it in play in our own half - that means to send it long. When we have the ball in our own half, we possess it and one path to solve it is to go long and to go for a 50-50 and then you see. We are not going to do this. And the other part what we try on the base of precision and mobility and dynamism, going from defence to attack, keeping the ball. In the first half and in the second half we had about three clear chances at goal, it's not an easy matter to be able to create these types of opportunities against a team like Liverpool but the opponent had plenty more than us and they were more effective. The majority of chances that we received (against us) were from set pieces or losses in our own half or throw ins in our own half that had continuity. So evidently each of the things that I described - and I in particular know that this can have either a positive or negative effect on teams - when known situations have a negative effect it is very clear that it is a manager's fault. I always explain when I make myself responsible for my errors because if you don't explain why you are at fault for the reality of the team, that means taking on the responsibility has no weight."

How much sympathy for Steve Bruce at the moment? He is under intense pressure from his own fans.

"I always feel saddened when this happens to a manager, when his own fans go against him. It is one of the worst feelings that a manager can have."

How can you make your forward players more dangerous?

"I just gave a response of about ten minutes with regards to that subject. Sometimes I am singled out for the length of my responses but I feel obligated to respond once more. The forwards defend and attack from passes they receive. It is very difficult for us to create chances without a succession of passes leading up to it. If we opted for passes that were very long, it would decrease the amount of good balls we receive in attack. That's why we don't do it. But in the look for that fluid playing out from our half to get into the opponents half, we don't manage for that to happen and our attackers also don't receive the ball in this case. The option that is left is that we recover the ball in the opponents' half and that we avoid that they take it off us in our own half. If we recover in the opponents' half then we will have clearer opportunities to attack and if we don't lose it in our own half then we will have clearer options to attack. The opponent managed to take the ball off us in our own half and they prevented our pressure and didn't allow us to recover the ball in their half. That added to the effect of the set pieces and the throw ins inclined the game in Liverpool's favour whilst added to that we played with ten men for 30 minutes. In this scenario that we had we played against one of the best teams in the best league in the world and our pretensions to play a balanced game disappeared."

How big a test is this now at Newcastle?

"So far this season we have played against Manchester United, Liverpool and Everton who are all high up in the table and we played an opponent like Burnley who was also in need of points like us. The difficulty of the next game is not superior to the games that I have just singled out and I can assure you that not in any game in the games that are played in the league will allow for a long period of the competition to find a game without any pressure."

In your time at Leeds have you been part of any discussions with the refereeing body or the FA that have helped instruct you and your players on the laws of the game and officiating and would you welcome some sort of dialogue now?

"I haven't had it. I think the job of the referees is very, very difficult and I think I have to support that task by being understanding to the decisions that they make. Against any doubt that any team has, the organisers of the competition put at our availability, all the tools possible to interpret the faults. So that what I said before is not incoherent, I am going to give an explanation because I have just said ten minutes before that I needed an explanation and now I am saying that I don't. If there is a league that values the nobleness of the player and punishes the speculation it is this league and we saw that the commitment of the player is very well prized. The recovery of Pascal in that ball, despite the fact that we were losing 2-0 was very well prized by the public. The public praises the commitment and like it shouldn't be in any other way they punish those that are timid or warm. So it is important for the public to understand when the rules limit a player making an extreme effort to recover the ball. Pascal made an extreme effort to prevent Salah from scoring a goal prior to the sending off of course so I am sure that the luke warm attempts or not giving yourself in an extreme manner will be demanded from the public towards the players. That is why previously I suggested that it was the decision was explained, who does something that happens casually, why is it punished because perhaps the explanation is the same action, that doesn't have a bad intention. One generates a severe injury and other one doesn't and what determines the injury is something by chance when the difference between the challenge that injures and that doesn't injure is just a casualty. The opposite to the casualty is the intention and when there is no bad intention, what happens by chance. So it would be useful to re affirm the challenges that happen by chance that generate an injury and therefore a sending off or if there is any other explanation that has not been offered. I insist that there is a very accessible response, the imprudence or the excessive force of his strength and this is compared to the argument that I have which is something happening by chance. I reaffirm myself in the position because it is the same thing that the player who received the foul said. But that's not to say that those who judge don't have solid arguments which is why I propose that they explain, not so much for myself, but for the public that finally is the ones that judges us and the players."

How is Pascal?

"It's very easy to clear up that without Pascal on the pitch, that the superiority of Liverpool was evident. The second thing is that there has been appearances in the four/five games played by Elliott - the same appearances as Mount or Foden and those who love football, when a player of that nature is injured, we're saddened. Pascal is a noble person, with good intentions and of course he regrets the injury. But the generosity that Elliot had to describe how things were, it helps to ease the effect on Pascal. The footballers always end up being the most pure thing in football, the players say what they think without speculating. When the injury to Elliott happened, the demands of it was explicit, the inconvenience of playing half an hour with one player less, behind evidently a grave injury to the player, the pressure of the referee had that intention. But the players are a lot less speculative than us and I value a lot that Elliott made Pascal exempt."

How do you avoid the temptation to change the team or tactics, resisting temptation to change the plan?

"If I thought another way of playing would improve the team I wouldn't have any doubts of doing it. The style of the team is in conjunction with what is convenient and if you are able to execute it. There is one great difference in style, what a team does when the goalkeeper has the ball. There are teams that put the ball in play and some that don't and go long. It is legitimate that someone chooses to go long because it reduces the effect of the errors or the chances of making a mistake. But it also reduces the beauty of the game and the possibilities to attack. Every process is legitimate. What I try to do is to improve what we do. What you are proposing is that we change it. To change it would be like to forget all the praise that we received the three years prior. But I understand completely your position. That is the position of someone who doesn't have tolerance to the adversity and they demand us to stop being what we are when it stops having results. But there is another more loyal way to look at it and a lot more consequent. When something is broken or suffers, there are two options. Either you throw it away and change it for another or you look after it and you try to recompose it, put it back together. The same happens in life, there are a lot of people who are consequent and they accept the highs and lows and they protect the essence and there are others that when something doesn't give you immediate results they throw it away and they substitute it for the contrary. There is only four games that have been played, it is a bit premature but when adversity visits you the demands are what you just said, even if in this case it is a little but premature or too quick. That is also human nature."

Thoughts on Rodrigo's displays?

"Rodrigo, from my point of view, even though I substituted him, he played a very positive first half. For a striker it is very difficult to receive the ball from which to create danger and I give a lot of value to those actions from when you receive the ball, creating as much danger as possible. Rodrigo had ten interventions of this type. He was close to creating danger. In none of the actions did he manage to accomplish it but I give a lot of value to his constant looking, that constant looking for actions that will allow us to score a goal. After, you can fail to shine by not finishing the chances or you can fail to shine due to not generating chances. And Rodrigo in the first half of the last game, he created a lot of actions from which you would have imagined us scoring a goal. When he manages to be efficient he is going to be a player that shines a lot in this team."