Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa offered a short, but wholesome reply when asked to assess the importance of Conor Gallagher to Crystal Palace.
The Whites were keen to bring the Chelsea midfielder to Elland Road this summer. However, we exclusively broke the news that Gallagher had snubbed Leeds in favour of a move to the Eagles. It’s a move that has paid rich dividends for Palace with Gallagher proving an astute signing.
Leeds will get a close-hand look at what they are missing on Tuesday night with Palace travelling to Elland Road.
United need the win to ease their relegation concerns – and they will have to win the midfield battle against the Chelsea loanee.
Asked for his opinion on Gallagher, Bielsa admitted to being impressed.
“A quarter of a season has gone past and he has shown his influence in their game,” Bielsa stated.
The midfielder – recently capped by England – has become the fulcrome of the Palace style implemented by Patrick Vieira this season.
And Bielsa admits he’s impressed by the way the Frenchman has got his message across to his players.
“Obviously the function of a coach is for the team to play as he desires. It’s admirable how deeply he’s been able to install his ideas at Crystal Palace.
Asked if their more expansive approach would suit Leeds, versus the tactics of Roy Hodgson, Bielsa spoke of his concerns.
“Fundamentally I’m more worried about how we adapt than anything the opponent offers,” he said.
“When a team puts the ball at risk it makes you have to sow different things. And when the opponent gives you the ball it’s other situations you have to overcome. That happens constantly throughout the league. Every game those situations don’t change.
“As you well said there’s more profiles which are more notable in different teams. I don’t have any preference and we need to be ready to come up against the different teams and different philosophies.”
Bielsa speaks up for Junior Firpo
One man who has struggled so far for Leeds this season is summer signing Junior Firpo.
Dogged by fitness issues and then Covid, Firpo was given a torrid time on his return to action by Tariq Lamptey on Saturday.
With some fans questioning the merits of his inclusion, Bielsa has been quick to defend the £13m capture from Barcelona.
“Junior is a player that is growing as he puts minutes together, his performances have been improving until he had an interruption due to injury,” Bielsa said.
“Now he’s progressively recovering his best form as it happened like so at the beginning of the season.
“The last game was a difficult game for us down the right sector of the opponent, he suffered a caution early on and that conditions the player with the freedom he has to go and win the ball, and the cooridnation down the left didn’t give him the backup he would usually have.”