Why Roy Hodgson expects Leeds United to go the distance this season

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson does not expect Leeds to run out of steam this season.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 7th February 2021, 10:30 pm
Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa. Picture: PA.
Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa. Picture: PA.

The Eagles make the trip up to Elland Road on Monday looking to complete a double over Marcelo Bielsa’s men after an excellent 4-1 home win in November.

Both teams have 29 points and yet the Sky Bet Championship winners have received widespread praise for their all-action style under the Argentinian, scoring 36 goals in 21 Premier League games.

While Bielsa is revered for his unique philosophy, it is believed his teams have a tendency to run out of gas, but Hodgson does not agree with that notion.

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He said: “That was an idea mooted when they were doing so well in their first year in the Championship and they looked like running away with the league and then they had a run of games at the end where it didn’t work out.

“I would have thought the club and Bielsa have sorted that one out by now so I am not expecting that to happen.

“There will always be a drop off at certain points of the season where you get an awful lot of games one after the other and teams pick up injuries.”

Bielsa has found an unexpected home in Yorkshire with his spell at Leeds the longest of his distinguished career in club football.

Asked about the key quality of Palace’s opponent, Hodgson replied: “Most important of all is the athleticism, the amount of running the players are able to do.

“The fact that they never seem to stop running and they have the ability as a result to flood players forward because they seem to be able to flood them back as well - that is without doubt a quality.”

November’s encounter at Selhurst Park on November 7 was Hodgson’s first meeting with the 65-year-old despite the pair being in management for more than 30 years.

The duo exchanged pleasantries ahead of kick-off but the conversation was only short with Bielsa not fluent in English.

A translator has been used by the Leeds head coach every time he has faced the media since he took over in the summer of 2018 and Hodgson used a tale from his own time on foreign shores over why that might be wise.

“The brief conversation we had was in English,” the 73-year-old revealed.

“I have always learned the languages and I have sort of struggled by. At times it has worked against me because people, they haven’t always shown the consideration for the fact you are trying to speak a foreign language and you will get some words wrong.

“One of the classic ones being di and da in Italian, which has different meanings and I used the wrong one and it provoked headlines.

“But I didn’t have the luxury of having a translator or the luxury of the Italian press forgiving me for not speaking their language. They expected me to speak Italian so I spoke it; even if it was pigeon Italian.”

Hodgson and Bielsa are stalwarts of management, but the Englishman’s trophy success has been abroad while he received criticism for his spells in charge of Liverpool and England.

Silverware has eluded the Leeds boss for the majority of his career and yet his style and influence on many coaches has rightly earned him plaudits.

Quizzed on his own appreciation after starting his professional management career in 1976, the Palace manager said: “Yes I have been more than happy with that.

“A large part of my career has been abroad and certainly in those countries I got as much credit as I deserved and I have not been dissatisfied here as well.

“I have no complaints or negative thoughts in that respect. As far as I am concerned it is a job you do to the best of your ability and if a few nice things are said along the way, that’s great.”

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