Leeds United

Leeds United

Premier League • England

Bielsa rues costly Raphinha tactical change that weakened Leeds threat; hits out at Newcastle

Jonny Whitfield
Marcelo Bielsa Leeds v Newcastle January 2022

Marcelo Bielsa insisted that Leeds United had enough chances to beat Newcastle were not clinical enough as they suffered defeat.

The Whites had a flurry of opportunities in an end-to-end first half at Elland Road in Saturday’s Premier League clash. However, they could not find the opener before the Magpies grew into the contest.

Nevertheless, it looked as if Leeds would break the deadlock as Newcastle struggled to keep up with their opponents’ intensity. Indeed, Eddie Howe had to use all his substitutions to cover for injuries.

But remarkably, it was Newcastle who opened the scoring with a Jonjo Shelvey free-kick after 75 minutes.

Leeds piled on the pressure in the final stages of the match but could not find an equaliser. Speaking in his post-match press conference, Bielsa revealed how he tried to get Raphinha – who starred throughout – into the game more.

“We always got to the final third with ease, we could pick the final pass, whether it be from out wide or through the centre, but in the closing of the game we were lacking clarity,” the manager said.

“We lost the capacity to go on the outside. I changed Raphinha and [Jack] Harrison’s sides. I saw all the play was going down the left and Raphinha is our most unbalancing player.

“Apart from there on, the opposite happened. From there on, the ball started going down the right where Raphinha was initially.

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“That prevented us from getting behind on both sides. Until that moment, we had it down the right. With fewer balls available, we had it down the left because Harrison was making contributions.”

Raphinha and Harrison proved a threat throughout and Leeds ended up with four shots on target from 13 attempts.

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Injuries to Newcastle trio Jamaal Lascelles, Paul Dummett and Joelinton did not help Newcastle’s cause.

However, Shelvey’s free-kick – which Illan Meslier helped on its way with an error – won the day for the visitors.

Bielsa rues costly Leeds defeat

Marcelo Bielsa barks orders at his Leeds players during their FA Cup match against West Ham, January 2022

“We had many moments to unbalance the game. We could unbalance them a lot, but we couldn’t convert,” Bielsa added.

“Normally, in the games where you could score and you don’t, some detail unbalances the game against you. I have the sensation that’s what happened.

“Even if in the last 15 minutes we failed to create enough danger, prior to that in the rest of the game we had done enough to be ahead.

For Newcastle, though, it was a crucial three points as they look to avoid relegation from the Premier League.

Bielsa hit out at time-wasting from the visitors, including when Dummett received a yellow card for leaving the pitch too slowly.

“What you signalled out was evident. Those in charge have sufficient tools to prevent it,” Bielsa said.

Leeds return to action after the international break to face Aston Villa away from home.