Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa made one huge tactical blunder against Charlton

Championship Picks

This article is part of Football FanCast’s Off the Bench series, which places in-game managerial decisions and squad selections under FFC’s microscope.

Will Leeds ever dominate a game and win again? For now, it seems unlikely.

No matter what Marcelo Bielsa’s side do, they fail to get over the line.

It’s been a similar story in the last two games. Against Derby they registered over 60% of the possession but didn’t come away with maximum points while things were even worse at the Valley on Saturday.

71.6% of the possession was not enough as Macauley Bonne fired home what was an eventual winner.

However, could Bielsa have made things easier for himself? Quite possibly.

Snapshot

Leeds were incredibly underwhelming in the first half as they went into the break at 1-0 down.

Usually they’ve conceded late on so this was a different scenario for the Whites who were needing to come back to cement themselves at the top of the Championship.

With things not going according to plan, the manager opted for a big switch.

He took off Jamie Shackleton and Gjanni Alioski for Adam Forshaw and Eddie Nketiah which allowed the system to change from 4-1-4-1 to 3-5-2. This, however, might have been the wrong change.

Should Harrison be dropped?

Yes

Yes

No

No

Off the bench

Given the decision to switch formations, taking Alioski off was rather baffling as Jack Harrison was forced to play in a more defensive role on the left-hand side.

The 22-year-old has struggled for chance creation this term, providing just three accurate crosses from a possible 37 so his attacking play has been poor. But he’s also not a defender so it was puzzling to see him moved back.

It might be argued that Alioski’s defensive game isn’t up to scratch either but the North Macedonia international has already thrived at left wing-back in his career.

The most recent example came against Stoke earlier in the season. They played with a 3-5-2 formation throughout and secured their most comfortable victory of the season by winning 3-0.

Alioski scored in that encounter playing from a wing-back role but the formation didn’t have the same results at the Valley as he was absent from the second half.

It was a tactical blunder from Bielsa who removed someone capable of having a significant impact in this system and instead moved someone out of position. Perhaps this wasn’t the change that was required given the circumstances.

Leeds failed to come back and secure any points so it was a decision that ultimately came back to bite them.

Harrison has played out of position before and did so upfront in that same game against Stoke. This was not the time to field him in a deeper role, however.