Marcelo Bielsa is ready to put his trust into young Leeds midfielder Jamie Shackleton after explaining what his approach will be in the second leg of their play-off semi-final against Derby.
The 19-year-old Leeds-born star – capable of playing as a right wing-back or in central midfield – was thrust into action at Pride Park on Saturday as a first-half replacement for Adam Forshaw and caught the eye with an impressive display in the centre of the park.
And with Adam Forshaw sidelined for Wednesday’s second leg – a game that top scorer Kemar Roofe also misses – Bielsa has strongly suggested the teenager will get a first start since the FA Cup third-round defeat at QPR on January 6.
But Bielsa clearly trusts the player and explaining why he hasn’t started more, Bielsa explained: “As a right-back we had [Luke] Ayling, [Gaetano] Berardi and [Stuart] Dallas playing. And as a number eight we [Lewis] Baker, [Mateusz] Klich and Forshaw. They are players older than him and they have more experience than him.
“But every time he played, honestly, we saw him. And there’s a detail that is very important to me, which is how a player is accepted by his team-mates. When the players accept a new young player it means that they like to have this player on their side.
“When a young player finds his place in a top team in the natural competition you have for positions, the one who comes in to the team moves someone out of the team.
“That’s why from a team spirit the only way you accept the arrival of a young player is when you make the team better. And for me this happened very clearly with Jamie Shackleton.”
Bielsa has vowed to attack Derby in the second leg at Elland Road, rather than sit back on their 1-0 lead.
Explaining why that’s what his approach will be, he continued: “You could divide coaches in two categories, those who speculate and those who impose their style.
“The percentage of success that is representative that both trends have are very similar.
“It would’t be fair to say one is better than the other. Every head coach does what he feels because the role of the coach is to convince and it’s very difficult to convince ideas you don’t believe in.
“I would have less credibility towards my players if I didn’t express things I believe in but I never express a negative opinion on ideas different from mine. It doesn’t mean other ideas need my approval or not but results show it every weekend in games we see around the world.”
When pressed again if attacking suits Leeds’ style better and whether an early goal would calm any nerves, Bielsa added: “I don’t think it’s about courage or nerves.
“But I always thought that the shortest path to win is to play better. And for me, there is a link between possession and playing better.
“Actually, to be honest, there are many examples of big teams that do the contrary of me. You have head coaches like Diego Simeone who have built extraordinary teams with the exact opposite ideas of mine.
“Same as I couldn’t say I can;t imagine playing better if my team doesn’t have possession but teams like Simeone’s ones make recoveries of the ball an art and to recover the ball you need the opponent to have the ball. It’s not a theoretical matter. It’s not about one idea being superior to another one.
“It has to do with beliefs with the sensitivity of each head coach. I don’t have a decisive belief that when you see a team defending well, I think the fact that seeing this has a value as an expression of football.
“It’s also linked to the culture. I was always impressed by the NBA, the fans when the opponent has the ball, they ask their team to defend. They do it because they recognise it’s a need of the team, to defend, but they also give value and importance to it when it’s well done.
“To come back to Simeone’s team, I saw them defending well in many games and it was pleasing to see how they defended.”
Get the latest personalised Whites products on our new TEAMtalk Leeds United shop!