Marcelo Bielsa has hailed Patrick Bamford for enjoying a brilliant season with Leeds in the Premier League – but the United boss says he blames himself for the striker’s recent goal shortage.
Bamford never quite made the grade at Chelsea but has since established himself as a capable Premier League striker with Leeds. This season, he has scored 14 goals from 34 appearances in the top flight. His form has given him an outside chance of making the England squad for Euro 2020.
However, after a stupendous start to the campaign, the goals have slowed up a little for Bamford since the turn of the year. He now has four from his last 19 games, compared to 10 in his first 15.
Leeds host Tottenham in the Premier League on Saturday at Elland Road. The game gives Bamford the chance to measure his talents against one of the best in the world in Harry Kane. Indeed, Bielsa has extremely warm words for the England captain when asked about him.
Asked why Bamford’s goals output had dropped off and asked whether he can learn from Kane, Bielsa insisted the Leeds star is his own man.
“Bamford has qualities like the best strikers in the Premier League,” he said. “But the qualities in football are just the starting point.
“After what is put in place, the capacity to put your qualities in play and a collective play that allows the quality of this player to shine. All of this is linked to the decision and their efficiency.
“It’s to have a disposition at the right moment in the right percentage of the qualities to find it. Bamford is a very, very dedicated professional. He analyses the best scores in the world in detail, in the English league, in the Germany league, in the French league.
“The process to put on all the qualities a player has is what determines the dimensions of a player. There’s players who have very few resources, but put them on show to their maximum and some who have a lot of quality without putting them on show 50 per cent of the time. That proportion, there’s cases with less quality put them more on show than those with more quality and show less of them.”
Bielsa says if anyone is to blame for Bamford’s apparent loss of form, then it is the Leeds boss who takes the blame.
“What I have clear is Bamford has all the resources to be a very special player and not been able to achieve it. Why? I feel more responsible than him.”
Bielsa says Leeds system may hinder Bamford
Bielsa though did have words of comfort for Bamford. He also says that maybe the system Leeds play – and the tireless running – perhaps hinder his abilities.
“Where Bamford is going to reach, I can’t say. What I can say is where he can reach. The support I reference is linked to taking a ball from back to front quickly and create danger quickly. Bamford must participate in the creation of danger, but the team has to produce to finalise. I am responsible the ball creates danger. In that sense I haven’t managed to achieve what I am looking for.
“I was reading Guardiola the other day, aggression to recover the ball is linked to aggression in attack. This concept says if I am luke-warm to recover the ball then I am luke-warm to attack. Or the contrary, aggressive to recover then aggressive to attack. This idea of aggression is an idea that has to be in the hearts of the teams.
“It’s easy to achieve when the effort translates into achievements. This aggression when you convert a lot is accessible to you. When you don’t convert as much it’s difficult to obtain. Of course, to give the team this aggression to attack and defend is very difficult task.
“I am talking about my team, our limitations, the team that runs most, the most intense team. In no way is the intensity the only thing that constitutes aggression.”