Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa has revealed that this week has been one of his toughest at Elland Road.
The Whites put in a mediocre performance last weekend as they were beaten 1-0 by Southampton. Chelsea loanee Armando Broja scored the only goal to give Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men all three points at St Mary’s.
Bielsa clearly missed the attacking influence of Raphinha and Patrick Bamford. The former was missing due to international duty, while the latter is recovering from an ankle problem.
Leeds defended well but could not find an equaliser. The defeat left them with just one win from their first eight matches of the campaign. They had picked up three victories by this stage last season, as well as a hard-earned draw against Manchester City at home.
Bielsa’s press conference began with questions about the mental health of managers in the wake of Steve Bruce’s sacking. The Englishman was let go by Newcastle on Wednesday. He has since revealed how him and his family have been affected by the last two years.
Bielsa said: “The characteristic is perhaps not as stable as it used to be, with regards to psychological health. Whenever that type of help is needed, it’s natural to look for the specialist. There are those who need it or think they need it and there are those who don’t need it or think they don’t need it. It depends on each person.”
Leeds will be looking to turn their fortunes around when they face Wolves on Saturday at 15:00. However, they look set to be without England midfielder Kalvin Phillips.
“Kalvin is healthy, but he hasn’t competed for three weeks,” Bielsa said. “If he played on Saturday it would be far too quick. After three weeks out, it’s necessary for some training. In this stage he has done training sessions for recovery and progressive work with the ball. I think that Saturday would be to bring him back too soon, before he is at his best.”
Bielsa suggested that Raphinha could feature at the weekend, although Bamford will not be available for selection.
“[Luke] Ayling and Bamford will not be here for the next two games,” the manager said. “Raphinha is back, [he] has acclimatised on his return to England. Robin Koch still has at least one month to go.”
Bielsa also revealed that Junior Firpo will be out for the next two matches. He could return for the clash against Norwich on October 31.
Bielsa opens up on ‘difficult’ Leeds spell
Bielsa has revealed that this week has been arguably his hardest since taking over at Leeds. “This was one of the most difficult,” he said. “The complexity of the week prior to the game is dependent on how far away we were in the last game. Like against Southampton, the difference between what we were looking for and what we achieved was very far.
“So obviously for me it was a very sad week. But in a parallel way, when errors are made, I know they could have been avoided if I had managed more efficiently.”
Reporters then quizzed Bielsa on why Leeds’ second season in the top flight hasn’t gone well so far. The Argentine replied: “There are a lot of arguments. I always try to listen to the principal reasons of why this is happening. I have desire to be proved wrong in my diagnostics.
“Because if I find out that I am wrong I have the option to correct and learn from the error. So the principal arguments are that the team is too small, also that there aren’t alternative ways to play. I think the way of playing is generic, it is very difficult to imagine the game in a different type of way. We try to have the ball more than the opponent.
“I’m the main person who wants to know what our errors are. I interpret it, I classify it and I position it with regards to the different ways of receiving danger.”