Graham Cummins column: Leeds need some new players in their squad, not a new manager

Graham Cummins column: Leeds need some new players in their squad, not a new manager

Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa gestures on the touchline during the Premier League match at Elland Road, Leeds. 

FOOTBALL is so fickle. 

One minute, players and managers are adored by everyone associated with the game, and the next, pundits and fans can’t write a player or manager off fast enough. 

At the beginning of the season, Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa was the man on everyone’s lips when candidates were being suggested for the Tottenham job, and was even suggested that he would be the ideal replacement for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United. 

However, four months is a long time in football and the Leeds manager seems to be under scrutiny from everyone in the game apart from the only people that really matter - the Leeds owners and supporters.

Some pundits have questioned why Leeds supporters aren’t giving their manager a harder time for the club’s shortcomings this season but I applaud the fans' loyalty to the man that guided the club back to the Premier League. 

Fans are often criticsied for their over expectations of a club but Leeds fans are realistic, they understand that their club have no right to believe that they should be challenging in the top half of the table every year. 

Their club is still outside of the relegation zone and they play an attacking, attractive style of football that supporters want to see.

Yes, there are greater risks playing this way, which is why they can at times be defensively vulnerable, but what other option is there? 

Are Leeds fans going to be happy if they become the next Burnley - a team that plays an unattractive style of football and simply just exists in the league. That's not the identity Leeds’ supporters want associated with their club. 

The way Bielsa has his team playing is progessive and is the way that top successful teams play.

Leeds finished ninth in the Premier League last season after a 16-year absence from the top-flight. Bielsa sides were praised for their aggressive approach and attacking football last season, even against the ‘bigger teams’. 

Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa during the Premier League match at Elland Road, Leeds. ]
Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa during the Premier League match at Elland Road, Leeds. ]

However, with the second worst defensive record in the league - having conceded 36 goals - questions are being asked about Bielsa’s supposedly one dimensional attacking minded approach and that it is naive of the Leeds manager to think that he can consist with this tactic in every game.

Having watched Leeds on numerous occasions this season, the perception that Bielsa doesn’t have a Plan B is a myth for me. 

Against Chelsea, they dropped off and allowed the European Champions more possession of the ball - something that Leeds wouldn’t have done against the ‘bigger teams’ in the past. 

They did drop off against Manchester City as well but such was the level of performance of Pep Guardiola’s side, that Leeds were powerless to stop City. 

I know that still doesn’t excuse the Yorkshire team conceding seven goals in a Premier League game but sometimes, those results happen in football.

Leeds are plagued with injuries at the moment. 

Any team would struggle to try and cope with the number of injuries Leeds have had, especially the injuries to Patrick Bamford, Kalvin Phillips and Liam Cooper who make up the spine of the side. 

Against Arsenal, Leeds’ starting 11 was almost unrecognisable such was the extent of their injury list. 

However, Leeds still tried to play a high press against Arsenal but were found wanting. But that's how teams have been successful against Arsenal in the past. The Gunners are known for their lack of fight when teams make life difficult for them, which is what Leeds tried to do. 

There’s no point standing off Arsenal and allowing them to control the game.

Bielsa is a proud man. Unlike so many other managers, I don’t think he would be one that would stay at a club if he didn’t feel he was the right man for the job. 

It’s rare managers would resign from their position because that would mean them forfeiting their payout but Bielsa seems the type of manager that money is last on his list of priorities.

Too many pundits have been jumping on the anti-Bielsa bandwagon. Where do they expect Leeds to be in the League? 

Who is the alternative to Biesla at Leeds? Do we really want to see Sam Allardyce make a return to football manager, so that we can add another team to the list of sides thats style of play makes football not worth watching. 

What Leeds need to solve their issues are some new players to freshen up a tired squad, not a new manager.

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