Between The Lines: Marcelo Bielsa on his Ezgjan Alioski/Jack Clarke conundrum

Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa has spoken out about wing duo Ezgjan Alioski and Jack Clarke following the 1-0 win against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Saturday.

Despite his struggle for goals and assists, the Macedonia international once again got the nod in the starting XI for the Yorkshire clash at the weekend, but for the second Championship match in a row he was hauled off at half-time, with Clarke entering the field.

The talented teenager then went on to set up the decisive goal for Pablo Hernandez – albeit in fortuitous circumstances following Blades goalkeeper Dean Henderson’s mistake – to leave his Argentine boss with a selection dilemma when they host Queen Park Rangers at Elland Road on Saturday.

What did Bielsa say?

Speaking after the game against the Blades, via Leeds Live, the 63-year-old said:

“It would be difficult to defend a position where you switch a player after 45 minutes and say he played very well.

“It was not a tactical substitution, it was not a substitution because he got injured.

“The value I give to Alioski is important, it’s still the same. My opinion regarding him is still the same. He will always have influence in the team.”

Meanwhile, on Clarke he said: “Every time he plays he adapts better to the level of demands of the team of Leeds.

“He doesn’t look like a young player and every time he plays he has the capacity to create a difference with the opponent.

“The action of goal is not linked to his best virtues, his best skills, apart from the fact it was an important point during the game. Every time he plays he makes the difference.”

What did his comments on the pair really mean?

While Bielsa is clearly a huge fan of Alioski, his comments certainly suggest that he needs to do more right now if he wants to stay in the team.

The Argentine mentioning the number of games the Macedonian has already played this season more than hints that a period on the substitutes’ bench awaits, but it remains unclear whether he fancies Clarke as a starter as he continues to make a big difference when he doesn’t actually begin the match in the original XI.

His comments lean towards him preferring the 18-year-old as a sub, meaning that a new left winger could be among his January transfer window priorities.

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