Leeds midfielder Adam Forshaw has been hailed as “the best player on the picth” during the second half, despite seeing his side fall to a 4-2 home defeat to Manchester United.
The Whites endured a mixed afternoon at Elland Road on Sunday in their Premier League clash. They were 2-0 down before half time and a result therefore looked a stretch for the hosts.
However, Brazil international Raphinha came on at half time and changed the game. Indeed, he netted the equaliser after 54 minutes, just a few moments after Rodrigo had made it 2-1.
Nevertheless, Manchester United interim boss Ralf Rangnick hit back with his own influential substitutions.
Midfielder Fred came into the action after 67 minutes and scored after three minutes. What’s more, Anthony Elanga secured the away win late on for the Red Devils.
The result was a tough one to take for Leeds given their second half improvement.
And their desire to scramble their way back into the game came in no small part to the efforts of Forshaw.
Up against Paul Pogba in the first half, he struggled to impose his game against the £89.3m man.
However, in the second period, Bielsa dropped Forshaw back into a No 6 role, deeper in midfield. And his tenacious play helped set the tone for Leeds during a barnstorming opening to the second half.
Woodgate impressed by Forshaw
And according to former Whites favourite Jonathan Woodgate, that positional change for Forshaw was clearly beneficial for Leeds.
“I went to the game and that’s what I was thinking. ‘Are these Leeds players going to put a tackle in?’. I’ll tell you what, they did,” he told BBC Match of the Day 2.
James Milner to snub Leeds United and sign contract extension with Liverpool
James Milner is ready to sign another contract with Liverpool after reports of return to boyhood club
“When they came out in that second half, they didn’t half. Look at the passion and what they want to do. They’re getting close to people, they’re creating chances. The conditions were brilliant for it.
“Look at this Stuart Dallas tackle, look at the fans’ reaction. Forshaw, in. This is what Leeds fans want to see.
“Pogba was really dictating the game. I think Forshaw found it really hard to play against Pogba. But when Forshaw went back into being the number six, he was the best player on the pitch.”
Garth Crooks critical of Raphinha axing
The introduction of Raphinha from the bench also helped Leeds back into the game.
Marcelo Bielsa’s decision to leave the Brazilian on the bench was certainly a controversial one. That said, the Leeds boss did his best to play down the significance of that when questioned.
BBC man Garth Crooks was certainly unimpressed too at seeing Raphinha among the substitutes.
“I have very little time for any manager, especially with limited resources, who leaves their most talented player on the bench against a top-class side and still expects to get something out of the game,” the pundit wrote in a BBC Sport column.
“In the first half, Leeds were like lambs to the slaughter playing Manchester United. How you leave Raphinha on the sidelines against a team like United beggars belief.”