Ian Wright has spoken up in defence of struggling Leeds striker Patrick Bamford as the Whites prepare for a crucial clash against promotion rivals Brentford at Griffin Park.
The blue-touch paper for the huge clash in west London has been lit by Bees boss Thomas Frank, who has warned Marcelo Bielsa’s faltering side that they “could not face a worse opponent” in his in-form Brentford side.
“They play with an extreme intensity, higher than any other team in this division which we can only praise them for [and] everyone knows how much I respect Marcelo Bielsa and what he has done to build up Leeds as a club and as a team but they couldn’t pick a worse place to play Tuesday night.
“I am 100 per cent sure that they fear us going into this game but that is not to say that we are just going to win it. I promise you one thing, we will be absolutely at it and ready to attack.”
But Bielsa’s side, despite losing four of their last five to let their once-dominant grip on the top two erode to just goal difference only, are capable of playing some great football and will be hoping for a reversal of fortune in what many see as a key game in the promotion run-in.
Key to a solid display on Tuesday night will once again be striker Bamford, who has bore the brunt of supporters’ criticisms during their poor run of form thanks, in part, to his own profligacy in front of goal.
But keen Leeds observer Wright has words of encouragement for the Leeds No 9 ahead of the match.
“The pressure he is under with Leeds wanting to come up, it’s massive. The weight of expectation, especially after what happened last season, is massive, but you can only do the same things in training as long as you’re getting chances created for you,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“We’ve seen the amount of chances he’s missed and you just hope he can start converting, but all he can do is get back in the right positions, near post, far post, hit the target and hope you can start converting a few.
“The problem you get is if you’re afraid to get into those positions and miss those chances, if you’re afraid to do that then you’ve got no chance.
“I worked with him at MK Dons. His left foot is brilliant. When you say natural finisher, when we’re in the positions where he could finish, he finished pretty cleanly, but it’s a different thing when you’re in training or in a lower league, when you’re not playing for Leeds, who are desperate to get into the Premier League, it’s a different pressure.
“There’s a cold place you have to go to in the box where you just block everything out.”
Bielsa himself launched a passionate defence of his Leeds side in his press conference to preview the game, insisting his side were still doing all the things right they were when they were on a seven-match winning run prior to Christmas.
“They are good things the players do on the pitch and also mistakes. Before, maybe we didn’t pay consequence for our mistakes in good moments. Now we are paying the consequences. After we used to create chances we scored those chances in good moments. Now we have those chances and don’t score.
“It’s not just about scoring the chances. The positive things they used to do, we were able to transform into good things and now we don’t. The team is not playing worse than before. The team is not running less than before, they are running even more. The team keeps the same confidence as before.”
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