Leeds United finished 13th last season, and if anyone had said that they would finish third in Marcelo Bielsa’s first season, they would have taken it without even giving a second thought. However, the circumstances are different now, and the fans, players and manager himself must be hurting as the club was in the automatic promotion spot for the most of the season. However, the wheels came off spectacularly in the last few games.
The Whites cannot afford to sulk, and they need to prepare themselves for the upcoming playoffs. As things stand, they are likely to face Derby County over the two legs. Leeds United fans would dread to go out at the hands of the Rams after the spy gate controversy.
Here are a few things which Bielsa needs to change.
Play Hernandez centrally
It is clear that the experienced Spaniard is the chief orchestrator for his side in the attacking third. He has played most of the season down the right flank but he often plays inside, and Luke Ayling usually provides the width on the pitch.
We believe Hernandez should be handed a central role straightaway as he can get on the ball more that way and thereby he will have more chances of influencing play in the final third. Someone like Tyler Roberts or Kemar Roofe can play down the right.
Dropping Jack Harrison
The Manchester City loanee has been one of the most frustrating players to watch on the pitch. Harrison often goes on lonely runs without putting his head up and apart from work rate, he doesn’t offer much in the final third. There have been numerous occasions when he has been substituted at half time so Bielsa could start Roberts down the left where he looked effective against Villa recently
Trying to mix things up
The problem with Leeds United has been that they have been rigid in their approach throughout the season. Players have got a long rope even if they have underperformed. The formation and tactics have been similar, and there has been no plan B when the going got tough. They haven’t helped their cause by not finishing off moves in the final third.
Maybe Bielsa can try to mix things up in the playoff to surprise his opponent. Now that most of his players are fit, he can probably throw two strikers up front with Roofe and Bamford starting together or playing with Bamford, Roofe, Roberts and Hernandez together. The team selections have been predictable, and the opponent knows what to expect from this Leeds United side. An element of surprise is what is lacking, and maybe Bielsa can look to change personnel or formation in the playoffs.