Leeds United’s defensive troubles continued this week as Marcelo Bielsa’s senior outfit were thrashed by yet another one of the Premier League’s top dogs.
A six-goal thrashing by Liverpool sees the Whites’ worrying record extend to 38 goals conceded across their last 12 outings in all competitions, meaning they are leaking 3.2 goals per game.
An alarming figure indeed.
The 30th of November was the last time that the Yorkshiremen kept a clean sheet.
To Bielsa’s credit, he has been without some key figures in this run, mainly club captain Liam Cooper and midfield anchorman Kalvin Phillips. At Anfield, Robin Koch and Diego Llorente were also missing, leaving the Argentinian head coach with just one senior centre-back in Pascal Struijk.
However, there was one name on the bench that could prove to be an interesting solution and one that can save chairman Andrea Radrizzani millions of pounds in upcoming transfer windows.
In the absence of the aforementioned stars, it’s potentially damning on the manager that he did not name Charlie Cresswell in the starting XI as he has proven his worth in what limited game time he’s received.
His one start in the top-flight, a win over West Ham United in January, garnered some high praise indeed. Despite being a towering 6 foot 3, the 19-year-old gem was dubbed a ‘pass-master’ by Football Insider before pundit and ex-Leeds star Noel Whelan waxed lyrical about his ability.
“If some of those first-teamers aren’t performing, he’s waiting in the wings to take the opportunity,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how young he is. He’s shown that he can produce against some of the best in the Premier League.”
Podcaster and presenter Joe Wainman also backed the youngster to become a hit at Elland Road.
“That boy, for me, was unbelievable and I don’t think he should come out of the side. He’s a mainstay now, for me. I thought Cresswell was class, genuinely class,” he claimed after the match.
Perhaps it’s time to hand him that opportunity and in doing so, Bielsa could well unearth the club’s next Rio Ferdinand – one of the Whites’ most talented young centre-backs of yesteryear.
Just like the Manchester United legend, Cresswell is thought to have leadership qualities, as talked up by himself during an interview with the YEP.
“I’m confident, I’m a leader, I like to play and I like to head it! There’s lots of players in the first team that I look up to, the likes of Coops, Bill, they lead by example and that is what I want to try and follow.”
A new central defensive option will be a priority in the summer, regardless of who is in charge and what division Leeds find themselves in but the 19-year-old academy graduate could be a bargain solution to their problems.
If trusted, he could save the Yorkshiremen a lot of money indeed.
AND in other news, Leeds liability’s struggles continue in Liverpool thrashing…