Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa described the pressure the players are putting themselves under to gain promotion as greater than that put on by the fans, and addressed criticism of Patrick Bamford after the striker scored two goals in a remarkable comeback.
The Whites’ stuttering promotion push looked to have hit another road block after going in at the break two goals down versus Millwall at Elland Road.
A spectacular second-half comeback with a a goal from Pablo Hernandez and brace from Bamford got the Yorkshire club’s league form firmly back on track, however, with the win taking on greater significance after West Brom’s defeat to Cardiff.
Speaking in his post-match interview (via translater Diego Flores) Bielsa said regarding his half-time message: “It’s not what I said which provoked the change. Maybe the match looked like it was strange, but it’s a copy of all our matches (via LeedsLive).
“A lot of chances to make three goals, the opponent goals were similar to what we normally receive.
“In the end of the match it was uncomfortable and not calm, but in both halves we had a lot of chances. We played very well in attack. It is similar to most of our matches.”
Regarding what changed to allow Leeds to gain control after the break, the Argentine said: “More open in the second half. It was easier for us to attack.
“The defensive shape of the opponent, the need to put in that shape a lot of energy to make it work and after minutes of the match we find more spaces.
“When the opponent had to attack because they were losing, after the spaces are even wider.
“So the difference between two halves are related. In the second half it was easier when we were playing in more space.”
Striker Bamford has come in for criticism at times this season due in part to his low conversion rate in front of goal.
With two goals to his name tonight, Bielsa was happy that his frontman, as well as the team could handle the pressure.
“I always make the same comment. I am worried when the striker is not in good condition to score in one match,” said the Whites boss.
“Bamford, in every match, has four or five chances to score.
“The difference is today he scored twice and about the external pressure: it’s a claim from the fans to the players – this is called pressure.
“When the supporters are not satisfied with one player or the team in this moment, but we don’t feel this pressure because the players are self-demanding, it’s superior than the demands of the supporters.”
New signing Ian Poveda was on the substitutes bench but did not make his debut on this occasion.
Asked if he was tempted to throw the youngster into the heat of battle, Bielsa said: “I didn’t make a chance because all our players deserved to stay on the pitch.
“When we were losing I thought of Tyler Roberts, but I didn’t find one player to take off.”