Marcelo Bielsa’s decision to shun new signing Jean-Kevin Augustin from the Leeds matchday squad on Saturday has been criticised by football pundit Ian Wright.
The Whites announced the capture of the highly-rated French striker from the Bundesliga side last Monday on a loan deal with the option to make the deal permanent at the end of the season. The deal is seen as something of a major coup for the Championship promotion chasers, especially after it emerged that Augustin had in fact snubbed a late approach from Manchester United to make the move to Elland Road.
Augustin had been expected to take his place among the substitutes in Saturday’s clash with Wigan, but was surprisingly omitted from the matchday squad, with the decision coming back to bite Bielsa on the behind as a toothless performance saw them slip to a shock 1-0 home defeat to relegation-haunted Latics.
Bielsa insisted after the game that he felt he didn’t want to rush Augustin into his squad when he wasn’t match fit or up to speed with his tactics, though that decision has been questioned by Leeds fans with the likes of Tottenham (with Steven Bergwijn) and Manchester United (with Bruno Fernandes) both opting to play their new signings just a matter of days after their arrivals.
And the situation was put to Wright during BBC Radio 5Live’s The Monday Night Club – and the former Arsenal man appeared to question the Argentine as well as his refusal to start anyone up front other than Patrick Bamford.
“We’re not talking about a prolific goalscorer [in Bamford] but we’re talking about a really good footballer in sense of a target man, holding it,” Wright said.
“He’s very good in that respect of course, but yes he’s missed chances this season.
“But just going back to Augustin and Bielsa saying he’s not up to top speed – if you’re a striker, what speed do you need to be up to, to come up for ten minutes at the end of the game?
“I don’t think the way Eddie [Nketiah] played suited Bielsa’s style and that’s why he went back. With Eddie as well, he was a substitute and whether he’s up to speed or not he came on changed games, he scored goals in those games.
“The way to get a striker up to speed to start is to get him on the pitch to score goals and then you get him up to speed. I just can’t go with that getting up to speed one, it just seems a ridiculous thing to say.”