The Athletic’s Phil Hay has delivered his verdict on Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa and the side’s struggles this season in the Premier League.
The Whites fell to yet another disappointing defeat in the top-flight at the weekend, this time slipping to a 1-0 loss against Southampton, and Hay has now commented on some of the key issues facing the club.
He said: “The bench is incredibly young. With the exception of Forshaw, one Premier League start between them. I can understand why, despite the past three years, that still worries people. You’re looking for proven options and there are very few.
“We’ve asked him about squad depth or written about it so many times. He always has the same answer which is to say that it’s how he wants it and it’s how it’s going to be. It’s worked for him up until now but looking at that bench today, you just couldn’t see where the impact was going to come from. Fully fit there are decent options but it has to be said that this squad is rarely fully fit.
“I don’t think they’re confused. I think people can just see that it hasn’t worked in the same way so far. And because Leeds are so drilled and have such a defined way of playing, when it doesn’t work it’s going to cause concern. Because you know Bielsa will stick to his plan.”
Just as much as the result, the performance is what really would have caused Leeds fans to worry about their team going forward over these next few weeks in the Premier League.
The Whites could only muster three shots on goal in the entire game against Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side, while they also made significantly less tackles and won fewer duels too – an all-round abject display.
As Hay touched upon, strength in depth has been a glaring problem at Elland Road under Bielsa, with the Leeds boss preferring a tight-knit squad with little room for manoeuvre if things go wrong.
The big problem for him, is that anything that could go wrong, has gone wrong for him in these early weeks of the Premier League campaign.
Whether it be injuries, illnesses or the dreaded consequences of the international break, Leeds have been without a number of key first-team players for a good period of time, including the likes of Kalvin Phillips, Raphinha and Patrick Bamford.
By not really strengthening the squad of the summer, and instead choosing to stick to his guns, Bielsa decided to play with fire. And everything that has come since has hardly been surprising. It’s sure to worry Leeds fans.
Meanwhile, Leeds are eyeing this La Liga starlet…