When Leeds are in trouble, Marcelo Bielsa is never going to let you get away with it if you’re a player.
Last week, he put his side through the ultimate test – double murderball.
His unrelenting training methods have been a focus of attention throughout his entire stay at Elland Road, but it looked as though their fierce coping methods have paid dividends.
Before their clash with Newcastle, Leeds hadn’t won in 2021. Amazingly, they hadn’t scored either. Therefore, the way in which they beat a demoralised Magpies team on Tuesday evening will settle them down considerably.
Summer signings Rodrigo and Raphinha combined nicely for goal number one and although Miguel Almiron gave United a scare, Jack Harrison’s looping volley in the second half won them the game 2-1.
There were a number of convincing performances and it will have pleased Bielsa that even without Mateusz Klich, they played well. This was just the second time under the Argentine manager that the Poland international didn’t start a league game. It was a big message and one the boss must use now to axe Gjanni Alioski, who reportedly earns £15,000-a-week.
In the build-up to Tuesday’s encounter, FFC discussed the need to drop the North Macedonia defender to the bench. True to form, he disappointed again and was hauled off without having a positive impact on proceedings.
Alioski has always had immense energy going forward but defensively, he has been suspect. The very fact that Bielsa substituted him as soon as he received a yellow card speaks volumes.
The left-back was robbed in a dangerous area towards the start of the second half and thus, was forced to stop a counter-attack. He received a caution for his troubles and then just moments later, was replaced by the aforementioned Klich.
If anything summed up Alioski, it was that. He suffers lapse moments in possession of the ball and surrendered it to the opposition on no fewer than 12 occasions in just 56 minutes at St James’ Park. It was a torrid evening for the full-back who was run ragged by Jacob Murphy.
The Newcastle winger succeeded with 100% of the dribbles he attempted and was also able to fire in five crosses towards the penalty box. Had Alioski been stronger then perhaps Leeds could have negotiated parts of the game in a more efficient manner.
Previously described as a “liability” by Noel Whelan, this performance will have done himself no favours. Although Stuart Dallas offered plenty in midfield during the win, it would be wise if he was moved to left-back instead.
Alioski is continuing to let Bielsa down even when they win.