Pablo Hernandez has been told he must fix his rift with Marcelo Bielsa – or face going the same way as Pontus Jansson did at Leeds.
Fewer have touched the hearts more than the Spanish magician has during his four years at Leeds. He has been an instrumental figure under Marcelo Bielsa and did as much as any other player to help secure promotion last season.
However, this season, Hernandez, now 35, appears to have struggled. Having been substituted in Leeds’ 4-1 home defeat to Leicester, a petulant Hernandez trudged off the field and was clearly unhappy at being withdrawn.
It was not until Saturday’s defeat at Crystal Palace – when Hernandez was left out of the matchday squad – that talk of a rift began to unfold.
Despite being fit, the veteran Spaniard was left out, with Bielsa explaining his decision afterwards.
“Pablo is fit but not in the squad for today’s game,” Bielsa said.
“I evaluate the players for the upcoming games. He wasn’t picked for this game. I choose the 18 players I think for the game.”
Bielsa named youngster Jack Jenkins in his squad, but he insisted that the 18-year-old was not a direct replacement for Hernandez.
“I didn’t pick Jenkins in place of Pablo,” the manager said. “The response to a question I’ve already had, I reiterate. I pick players I believe are in the best position for the upcoming game.
“I’ve already explained the decision. He was as available as other players.”
Now pundit Noel Whelan thinks the situation smacks of a Jansson repeat. The Swede was controversially sold by Leeds to then-promotion rivals Brentford for £5m. There was a feeling he had gotten ‘too big for his boots’ at Leeds and Bielsa did not like this petulant behaviour.
Discussing the situation with Hernandez to Football Insider, Whelan urged the veteran star to win back his manager’s trust quickly.
“He is a great player and I love him to bits, I really do. But petulance and immaturity like that, when he is a role model to the young lads and fans, is unacceptable,” he said.
“Marcelo Bielsa will not stand for it. We know that from the Pontus Jansson situation.
“There is definitely something there which needs to be sorted out between manager and player. Let’s be clear, we could have done with him on Saturday.
“You cannot do that. You just can’t. It is so petulant on his behalf and as an experienced pro he should know better.
“Something is definitely not right. There is a rift at the moment.
“You’d hope it will get sorted out but you would also like to think that it would have been sorted before Saturday. They have had long enough to sort that problem out.”
Pablo Hernandez apology
Since the match at Selhurst Park, Hernandez has issued an apology via the club’s social media channels.
After appearing to throw away his Armistice Day black armband against Leicester, Hernandez was keen to express his regret. He also was keen to pledge his loyalty to Bielsa and his respect for those who fought in the war.
Writing on Instagram, he wrote: “Apologies for my gesture the other day, it was a reaction that nothing describes my way of being or my way of thinking.
“I have always represented and will represent the values of this club and this fans as they deserve #lestweforget ”