Ian Wright insists claims that Marcelo Bielsa is ‘one dimensional’ are disrespectful to the Leeds coach – and praised three players who shined bright in their goalless draw against Manchester United on Sunday.
The Whites moved up to ninth in the Premier League table – above Arsenal – with the point at Elland Road. Furthermore, they further cemented their reputation for proving a tough test for the Big Six; they have now held Arsenal, Man Utd, Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool to draws on home turf.
Bielsa has been criticised at times this season for Leeds’ attacking style which has left them vulnerable at the back. Despite scoring 50 times in the Premier League, they have also let in 50.
But having kept clean sheets now against Chelsea and Man Utd, they have also limited Liverpool and Man City to just a goal apiece too. It’s quite the progress given the claims that Bielsa was unable to adjust Leeds’ style after their 6-2 hammering at Old Trafford in December.
Assessing their improvement, Ian Wright insists Bielsa and Leeds deserve more respect.
“I think it’s a bit disrespectful saying he’s one-dimensional and that he won’t adapt. Because what we saw today was them adapting,” he told Match of the Day 2.
Wright also highlighted three players for their performances in shutting their Pennines rivals out.
“Kalvin Phillips, Diego Llorente and Pascal Struijk today were fantastic,” he added.
“Absolutely,” he continued, when asked if Leeds tracked the space rather than the men. “They did that today, and they did it very, very well. Man United didn’t have any answers for them, they snuffed them out everywhere.”
Bielsa praise for Phillips
Bielsa also had praise for Phillips, who played the majority of the match in a man-marking role on Bruno Fernandes.
Such is the quality of Phillips that he stifled and frustrated the usually-influential Portuguese playmaker.
Bielsa was asked how difficult it is for Phillips to master his aggression.
He said: “The observation you made is correct.
“To be aggressive and not violent is difficult and Kalvin managed it very well. He was very important.”
On his side’s overall performance, Bielsa added: “It was a very demanding game for us. For the game not to become unbalanced the team made a massive effort.
“This effort allowed the game not to become unbalanced for us. The game for them came more naturally to them. Even if they dominated in the main, we managed the chances on goal similar.
“Even if they did have more of the ball to attack and they had a lot more attacks than we did. I insist I value everything we did so the game would not become unbalanced.”