Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa is nothing if not phenomenally thorough. The Argentine coach is well-known for his near-obsessive levels of analysis and attention to detail.
His side are incredibly well drilled, their complex movements and patterns of play choreographed and practiced relentlessly. As far as is possible in football, the Whites boss leaves nothing to chance.
However, in Jack Harrison, the manager persists with a player who brings a great deal of unpredictability to the table.
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The 22-year-old Manchester City loanee has often flown somewhat under the radar this season as others have hogged the headlines, and he has only chipped in with three goals and three assists in the league, as per Transfermarkt’s stats. Yet, he has made 28 Championship appearances, 23 of which have come as a member of the starting XI.
At times he has lacked consistency, or looked to be short on confidence. He has regularly failed to produce end product. However, Bielsa has persevered with Harrison because of his work rate, commitment, and ability to bring the best out of others. The former England under-21 international is an intelligent runner. His movements make space for others. On top of that, he always looks to make progressive passes, and he never fails to track back and perform his defensive duties.
What he offers on the pitch isn’t always obvious, and there are certainly flaws in his game. However, as he demonstrated last time out against Reading, he picks up the slack for others in many areas. He also brings a bit of chaos to Bielsa’s order, which makes Leeds even harder to face.
Against the Royals, Harrison got forward well. As per WhoScored’s stats, he produced one key pass, had one shot on target, and successfully completed two dribbles. He also worked tirelessly to make space for the likes of Pablo Hernandez and Patrick Bamford.
The No.22 also did his defensive duties, making three tackles and producing one interception.
However, his ball retention left plenty to be desired. He committed three unsuccessful touches and could only muster a pass accuracy rating of 64% – the worst of any Leeds player. His erratic distribution will frustrate Bielsa, and it is an area in which the attacker must improve, but in some ways it is also a symptom of the high-risk-high-reward approach the player takes which makes him such a wildcard in this Leeds team.