Marcelo Bielsa called on Leeds United to prove themselves capable of dominating the Championship after a 2-1 victory at Wigan Athletic steered the club back to the top of the table.
Leeds came from behind to win a competitive game for the first time in 41 matches as a second-half error from Wigan goalkeeper Christian Walton handed Bielsa’s side a deserved result success.
Walton’s mistake left Kemar Roofe to walk in his seventh goal of the season, ending Wigan’s unbeaten home record and lifting United into first place on goal difference.
Norwich City became the latest club to lead the division on Saturday after their 4-0 rout of Sheffield Wednesday and first place has changed hands constantly since Leeds finished August at the front of the field.
Bielsa said his squad had shown the quality needed to control a highly-competitive league in the early weeks of the term but admitted significant improvement was necessary if United were to tighten their grip.
“What you're saying indicates that we have many teams at the same level,” Bielsa said, when asked if he hoped Leeds could move clear at the top.
“In order to be first in the Championship we have to create a difference from the other teams and there are few points between the teams. We haven't done that so far.
“We did it at the beginning but we stopped doing it and if we want to reach what you're talking about, we have to show regularity in gaining points.”
Leeds have been a top-six club since the first game of the season but Bielsa classed their trip to Wigan as “a game we have to win” after a run of three wins from 10 previous matches and a 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest in their previous fixture.
Wigan claimed a sixth-minute advantage through a goal from Reece James but United equalised rapidly as Pablo Hernandez struck at the end of their next attack. Bielsa’s side went onto dominate and profited from Walton’s blunder 40 seconds after half-time.
Leeds last earned victory from a losing position on Boxing Day, a 2-1 win away at Burton Albion while Thomas Christiansen was head coach.
“We should avoid conceding the first goal,” Bielsa joked. “That is the conclusion. But the fact that we scored immediately after conceding the first goal neutralised the impact of conceding first.
“We were able to play our football and impose our style and what we can say is we had eight chances to score and we scored two goals, though the second goal is not due to us.
“The win is very important because we have just drawn at home (against Nottingham Forest). It was important for the pace we want to follow.
“There is a statistic which says that if we don't take into account the first game of the Championship, we would be ranked around 10th. We have to change this reality.”