Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa makes big statement with Patrick Bamford change

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.

Patrick Bamford or Eddie Nketiah? In some ways, it’s a tough debate but in others, it’s an easy one.

Although the former offers good work rate and willing hold-up play, there’s no denying that the latter is the better goal scorer and perhaps more liked too. At times this term, it’s been difficult not to be alarmed with some of the criticism Bamford has received.

Since he last found the back of the net seven games ago, Nketiah has scored eight times for club and country.

But in replacing the pair so early on Saturday, Marcelo Bielsa made a big statement, one that proves time could be running out for the former Middlesbrough man to impress.

Snapshot

Leeds’ encounter with Birmingham was a game that was typical of how their season had gone, particularly in the first half.

The Whites dominated possession, amassing 70% of the possession and having eight shots to the visitors’ two throughout the first period.

Once again, Bielsa’s men couldn’t find a way to put the ball in the back of the net despite having all of the play.

Bamford had a solid opportunity to score during the first 45 minutes, placing an effort just wide of the target but it was again another match where he failed to beat the goalkeeper.

Off the bench

The 26-year-old’s chance to put his horrible record to bed was taken away from him at the break as Nketiah came on for the second half.

The youngster registered two shots in his cameo but also failed to score in what was an overall disappointing performance from him.

That being said, Bielsa’s call to replace Bamford told us an awful lot about his current feelings on the striker.

In the past, the Argentine has leapt to his defence, saying he values him, but the fact he was withdrawn so early perhaps indicated that he regretted not playing Nketiah from the off.

Would you be concerned if Nketiah was recalled?

Yes

Yes

No

No

Although the Arsenal loanee’s impact was restricted when he did come on, Bielsa has been under pressure from supporters to start him after his hat-trick for England U21s in midweek.

Nketiah has also voiced his frustrations at not starting yet but being introduced at half time, rather than later in the game as he has been throughout this season, tells you a start may finally be forthcoming.

Bamford’s inability to score again could just find him on the bench when they face Preston on Tuesday. After all, this substitution was a statement that could prove telling in the coming weeks.