Tuesday, January 31, 2023

3 Tactical Changes Bielsa Must Make to Ensure Leeds United Wins All Of Their Remaining Matches

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Pratyay Maitra
A sports enthusiast in his mid-twenties who reads, breathes, as well as dreams (mostly) about football and attempts to share his views with the fanatics by jotting it down. Prefers to learn through extensive interaction, communication and exploration. So don't be in a quandary and SHOOT.

An automatic promotion to the Premier League is no more in Leeds United’s hands after a dreadful defeat against ten-man Wigan Athletic at Elland Road. Their shocking surrender from a one-goal lead raised many questions over the players’ focus, mentality as well as Marcelo Bielsa’s unadaptability despite turning things around in West Yorkshire following his high-profile appointment the last summer.

The fear of falling apart is looming large, and the manager must do everything to secure three successive wins in the remaining fixtures. Sheffield United are favourites to clinch direct promotion on goal difference, and the Whites can only hope for a slip up from the Blades provided they grab the maximum number of points against Brentford, Aston Villa and Ipswich Town.

Bielsa, one of the pioneers of modern-day football, has been rigid with his decision making at times and should bring in a few tactical changes to ensure the results to shake off Friday’s disappointment.

Flexibility With Formation

The iconic Argentine is known for his managerial masterclass and creativity with formations (a 3-3-3-1 or 3-3-1-3 received massive acknowledgements worldwide). But he has been rigid with a 4-1-4-1 since taking charge of Leeds United and has not altered the same despite a dip in form and performance of his men.

He has often fielded players in unusual roles where they are not fit enough to operate from in all honesty. Therefore, a change in pattern might do the trick even if it is among the widely used (as 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1) ones across the globe.

Utilising The Players’ Expertise

Is Kalvin Phillps the right man to operate in the hole in between the backline and midfield four? Or is it the right call to explore Tyler Roberts in midfield but not down the flanks? There might be debates.

Bielsa has exploited Pablo Hernandez on the right wing while the veteran Spaniard would have been more influential as a ‘number 10′ or midfield attacker. He is the nucleus of this Leeds’ side and prefers to orchestrate the game using his exquisite passing, distribution and vision. The gaffer has Adam Forshaw in the squad who is more suited to marshalling the ‘back four’, breaking down opponents’ game and forming counter-attacking moves from the deep. This would have freed up Phillips allowing him to drive from midfield and operate in the advanced areas.

Opting For Alternatives

Mateusz Klich and Jack Harrison had moments of excellence, flair and impact in Leeds’ colours, but the manager seems to be too reliant on the duo even though he could have tried out something different when the things were not working out.

Ezgjan Alioski has been immense in a makeshift left-back role in the absence of the injured Barry Douglas. However, deploying Tyler Roberts on the left flank in place of Harrison would have added more threat and creativity due to their versatility and free-flowing football. Hernandez and Phillips in a central role would be more menacing, and this tactical alteration is indeed worth a shot if the Whites are forced to go through the playoffs upon failure of securing the runners-up spot.
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