Leeds United and Marcelo Bielsa keeping faith in ideals is key to settling on winning formula - Stuart Rayner

The questions of Marcelo Bielsa started a while ago.

STICK WITH IT: Leeds United were undone at Old Trafford but must stick with their exciting approach to games. Picture: Michael Regan/PA

Did he think the way his Leeds United team plays was naïve he was asked after the defeat to West Ham United?

“No” was the blunt answer.

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Another defeat, 6-2 at Manchester United, intensified the debate about whether the veteran needs to change his ultra-positive ways.

NERVES: Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa looks on during his team's heavy 6-2 defeat at Old Trafford. Picture: Nick Potts/PA

The answer for all football clubs is they need to find a method and stand by it. Bielsa knows his.

It does not necessarily mean just using one formation and might not even mean sticking to one manager. It does, though, mean clinging to beliefs about how you want your team to play.

The word “identity” is used so much in the modern game it is easy to switch off to it but it is important.

Barnsley have won eight matches out of 13 under Valerien Ismael’s very defined high-tempo style which is unafraid to get the ball quickly to the narrow head of their 3-4-3 formation.

TOUGH TIMES: Chris Wilder has found it difficult to stick to the same systems with his Sheffield United team. Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Huddersfield Town are also out-performing Championship expectations. They appointed Carlos Corberan to supply Bielsaball on a budget and 12th in the Championship is a very good start for a club who sold their star player, Karlan Grant, in the summer and hardly reinvested any of the proceeds into a squad which only scraped survival.

Hull City held their nerve after a disastrous relegation and trusted Grant McCann, whose methods have put them firmly in the League One promotion picture. So are Doncaster Rovers, who have set themselves up to attract and hone the best loan players available at their level.

The clarity is in contrast to Sheffield Wednesday, Bradford City and even to an extent Sheffield United, all facing relegation.

The Owls had a set way of playing under Garry Monk and changed because it was not working. Nine games into Tony Pulis’s rein, we are not completely sure exactly what to. There has been a constant chopping and changing of formations. Even Pulis calls it a team lacking an identity.

FIND A WAY: Manager Tony Pulis has found the going tough at Hillsborough since replacing Garry Monk. Picture: Steve Ellis

Hopefully his first win, against Coventry City on Saturday, is the start of one being formed.

At Bradford’s first league game this season it was clear Stuart McCall was trying to get them to play the Sheffield United way, with overlapping (or more often underlapping) centre-backs, but it needed the perseverance Corberan was showing and did not get it, as McCall came away from it for a while.

It was clear at Grimsby Town on Tuesday caretaker managers Mark Trueman and Conor Sellars have drilled a different way, in a 4-2-3-1, and their players prospered for sticking to it.

Chris Wilder has started every game this season in the 3-5-2 that brought the Blades so much joy last season. The trouble is, they have finished almost every one with something different. Centre-back Chris Basham has been substituted six times to allow a rejig, and pushed into midfield for parts of each of the last three matches.

GOOD GOING: Valerien Ismael manager of Barnsley celebrates a recent win with Herbie Kane Picture: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images.

Bielsa needs some tweaks to tighten things up. Leeds have conceded 30 goals already.

An overhaul is not required.

There have been draws with Manchester City and Arsenal (probably still wondering how they got a point) and wins over Everton and Aston Villa.

As with other newly-promoted sides such as Rotherham United and Harrogate Town, we must look at their season in the context of the step up.

Leeds are a point above an Arsenal side trying a broadly similar approach on a much bigger budget, seven ahead of Fulham and 10 ahead of the other newly-promoted side, West Bromwich Albion.

Bielsa will certainly hold his nerve. Others must too.

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