Marcelo Bielsa revealed that playing in the memory of Norman Hunter and Trevor Cherry contributed to Leeds’ win over Fulham.
Leeds returned to the top of the Championship by beating their promotion rivals 3-0. Eight points now separate the Whites in first from Brentford in third.
The scoreline did not tell the whole story, as Fulham were the better side in the first half. Nonetheless, Patrick Bamford scored to give Leeds the early advantage – with Ezgjan Alioski and Jack Harrison finishing the job in the second half.
Speaking at his press conference after the game, Bielsa admitted that Leeds struggled to get the ball off Fulham before the break.
“[In the] first half it was difficult to recover the ball in their half,” he said.
“[The] first half was better for them than for us. The second half was better with two centre-backs on the 2 v 1 with the ball.”
Part of Leeds’ improved second half fortunes came from the introduction of Pablo Hernandez as a substitute.
Hernandez created Leeds’ third and final goal with a glorious assist for Jack Harrison. And Bielsa praised the impact of the Spaniard, along with a player who started the game, Tyler Roberts.
“When Pablo came in he co-ordinated well with Tyler,” Bielsa said. “In the other half, when we recovered the ball in the second half we found Pablo.
“Pablo gave long options to our team with accurate passing.”
As Hernandez came on at half-time, goalscorer Bamford went off. And Bielsa explained that the decision was based on the efficiency of the striker’s energy.
“The co-ordination does not depend on one player,” he explained. “Patrick made a big effort in the first half.
“We didn’t press with the organisation. All the energy he put in the first half, he didn’t achieve this in an efficient performance.”
Hernandez was later withdrawn, despite only coming on at the break. However, Bielsa maintained that it was only to make full use of the extra substitutions that are now permitted.
“We had more subs and we thought the 45 minutes was enough for him. The subs we did, we managed this according to the necessity.”
Overall, it was a positive return to Elland Road for Leeds, who were playing at home for the first time since the Championship resumed.
It also gave them a chance to commemorate club legends Norman Hunter and Trevor Cherry, who both passed away in the time between their last match.
And Bielsa said that his team channeled all their emotions into their performance.
“The win was necessary for us. Our feelings we had to consider and it was part of the match of today as well.”