Leeds United

Leeds United

Premier League • England

Bielsa makes glaring admission over Leeds’ season; hints at broken promises

Rob McCarthy
Marcelo Bielsa raising his hand during a Leeds game

Marcelo Bielsa admits that his decision to stay at Leeds this season has not worked out, while also hinting at broken promises over strengthening his squad.

The Argentine has so far refused to use a crippling injury crisis and Covid as an excuse for his team’s tough first half of the season. Indeed, Bielsa insists that he only signed on for another campaign as he was convinced his team could do better than last term’s impressive ninth-placed finish.

While admitting that his tactics have sometimes been found wanting, Bielsa also appeared to vent his frustration that he could not strengthen his Leeds squad in areas he felt his side needed to.

Bielsa said: “I focus on the performance of the team, and the weaknesses that we have shown were precisely the ones I had worked on to ­elevate us from last season.

“So when I made the ­decision to work here for one more year, it was because I had the conviction that the team could be better.

“That depended on some decisions and developments. I wanted the developments to help the team to grow – but I haven’t achieved it.

“The situations we have had to go through, I wasn’t able to resolve them as I thought I would.”

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Leeds are currently ­embroiled in a relegation fight, having won only three of their first 18 games. They take on fellow strugglers Burnley on Sunday in what is already a big six-pointer.

Bielsa will once again have a depleted squad to pick from for the Clarets clash. However, he may be forced to throw Patrick Bamford back into after his latest injury absence.

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Fixture backlog concerns Bielsa

Leeds have not played since losing 4-1 to Arsenal on December 18 after Covid cut through their squad over the festive period. And Bielsa is not sure how all the postponed games will fit in, without extending the season.

The 66-year-old added: “The reality that we’re facing is not only ours. But I can’t say that a healthy player is in ideal condition to compete. Especially when they haven’t competed for one month or three weeks. You need a ­period to reach that high level.

Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa during their 1-1 draw with Leicester 2021

“But that’s the reality. The teams we are coming up against have similar ­problems.”

The Premier League ­season is currently due to finish by May 22, but Bielsa thinks that is optimistic.

He added: “We know how many games have been suspended up until now. But we don’t know how many games will be suspended in the future.

“I don’t know how the ­authorities are going to manage the situation with the time that they have available.

“Clearly, we can’t think in the middle of a pandemic that the situation is normal.”

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