Marcelo Bielsa admits his decision to withdraw substitute Tyler Roberts just 30 minutes into his introduction left the player feeling hurt – and the Leeds manager has accepted the blame after he admitted to making a mistake.
Wales forward Roberts stepped off the bench as a second-half substitute on Tuesday night during the tight 1-0 win over West Brom that sent the Whites, for 24 hours at least, back to the Championship summit.
But as the visiting Albion put the squeeze on Leeds and forced them back during a tense second half, Bielsa took the unusual decision to withdraw Roberts in the 75th minute – just 30 minutes into his introduction off the bench.
The Leeds gaffer offered an apology to the player after the match, but Bielsa admitted the player was still hurting by the decision when he addressed the issue again in his presser on Thursday.
“He shows a lot of generosity with me but he knows that my decision touched him and even he understood the situation – but I know that this decision hurt him and it is difficult to overcome in a short time,” Bielsa said.
Bielsa admits it’s not the first time he’s done such a thing in his career and still feels remorse for a similar situation 15 years ago.
“I have cleared this concept a long time ago, 15 years ago I took one similar decision and after 15 years the player who I take off of the pitch he is a very good person, he couldn’t assimilate this moment – even after 15 years.”
“What he said in the press is he regret himself in that moment to say nothing to me – to give me a strong message – that means for him it is difficult to accept these kind of decisions.”
Turning thoughts back to Roberts, he added: “What I can explain is that he made a mistake after the first half. I interpret one situation in the game. And that moment did not happen.
“I thought that if we were going to put one player more offensive we were going to be able to adapt to this moment. After the match it was more difficult than I thought and the player had to try to resolve the situation – it is not my high point and after I doesn’t not make the second decision there is going to be a second mistake.
“But if I remove the player, he is going to hurt.”
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