This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
I wonder how many more hints it’s going to take for Marcelo Bielsa to realise it’s time for a change?
Writing in his latest article for The Athletic, Phil Hay documents how Leeds are falling incredibly short by a fair distance when it comes to being in the picture for automatic promotion:
“Over the past five seasons, it’s taken an average of 80 goals to lift a club out of the Championship automatically and Leeds’ current haul of 15 equates to just 63 over the 46 games — too few for a top-two finish.”
However, it’s what he mentions later in the article that should be the biggest cause of concern for Leeds United fans:
“Leeds have not been drilled to dig in or park the bus and at 1-0 up in the 93rd minute last season, they were usually found chasing a second goal rather than running out the clock. But with that scoreline late on against West Brom there was a shift; an acceptance that seeing out a tight win against the Championship leaders was more prudent than trying to return fire in a situation where Leeds looked liable to get burned.”
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This is why Leeds find themselves struggling, it’s that lack of trying to go for a killer blow that could be their downfall this season.
Not just in terms of goal difference when they turn 1 nil wins into 2 or 3 nil victories, but also because it prevents teams from coming back and biting then late in games, such as the Derby County fixture a few weeks ago.
They see an opportunity to dominate and they take it. Considering Bielsa has managed abroad, it’s perhaps surprising he hasn’t taken on this notion.
If Leeds really want to be serious in their attempts to get promoted, they need to start kicking things up a gear.
Would Gerrard be a good Bielsa successor?
If that means a change in the style of play so they don’t end up squandering so many chances or buying a striker in January to put those chances away then so be it.
But having set expectations so high in how much he transformed Leeds in his first season, taking them from midtable to the playoffs, Bielsa can’t afford to let people down this campaign as well.
In more ways than one, it’s now or never, particularly if this is his last chance after surprisingly signing a new deal back in May.