Marcelo Bielsa explained the step-by-step thinking and processes of both he and the Leeds Utd medical team as the Robin Koch concussion row rages on.
Leeds Utd’s Robin Koch suffered a strong blow to the head during the clash with Manchester United on Sunday. The German was struck in the head during a collision with Scott McTominay that saw blood flow freely from above his left eye.
Koch was patched up, bandaged and given the all-clear to soldier on after initially passing their concussion check tests. However, he proved unable to make it to half-time when sitting down on the pitch before being substituted.
Leeds later confirmed they are treating Koch for concussion symptoms in the aftermath. That has brought their decision to let Koch continue into focus given concussion symptoms do not always show straight away.
It has also put the microscope on the current rules regarding concussed players and whether it should be down to the club’s medical team whether a player is given the green light to play on.
Teams are allowed the use of an extra sub if one of their players is substituted due to concussion. However, Leeds opted against invoking that rule in Koch’s case despite it later transpiring he did have a concussion.
The Professional Footballers’ Association took to Twitter to disagree with the decision made by Leeds in letting Koch return to the pitch. Leeds then followed that up with a firm rebuttal.
Now, speaking in his Tuesday press conference, Bielsa launched a lengthy defence of both his and Leeds’ actions regarding the Koch concussion row.
Bielsa breaks Koch concussion timeline down
When it was noted Leeds are now treating Koch for concussion symptoms after Bielsa had initially stated he was subbed due to the bad cut, the manager said (via Leeds Live): “Koch clashes and he gets a cut where blood starts coming out from.
“He continues in the game after the evaluation the doctors had with the blood flowing from his head.
“He continued to play because the only problem was a cut on his head. That was not the case. After five minutes with the player, the medical staff would have substituted him.
“The consequences of the clash was something different to the clash and the blood produced. The first conclusion after being five minutes with the player, was he could continue because he only had a cut and the issue was resolved. That’s why he came off.
“They bandaged him and changed his shirt and shorts. He continues to play. During the time he continued to play he acted perfectly. There was no indicator.
“I looked over the sequences and there was no reason to believe he had limitations. In a moment, the player sits down, the doctors come on and he indicates he has symptoms he did not have when the clash happened.
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“In that moment, as it could not have been any other way, as the symptoms appeared after, we decided a change.
“As you should know, the symptoms are a clash like this take 24 hours to appear. So in the solution we all did what corresponded. Everything within the protocol.
“I was convinced it was just the bleeding from the cut. That was the first conclusion after the examination. When he manifested different symptoms he was substituted.”
Leeds acted “impeccably” – Bielsa
Bielsa continued: “The control the player receives when they get this type of knock, the protocol applied is what generates whether he should be substituted or not. Not every knock generates a sub. If not, the knock James got from Shaw would have also led to a sub.
“As I did not have the reason within reach, that’s why I did not want to make use of the fourth sub. I did not have the certainty the sub was contemplated in deserving it. Initially, it was the cut and not the clash. After it was the clash.
“I stayed with the position with the absurd idea of not abusing the rules. The prevention of the knocks on the players’ heads is very serious. That can generate real dramas.
“Also true you should not dramatise situations that don’t deserve to be interpreted in the way they have been interpreted because if there’s something the medical staff at Leeds have done, and I as an extension of their decisions, it’s to abide strictly with the rules whether by Covid or knocks to the head and more.
“[If] any acted impeccably with health, it’s Leeds.”