LEEDS UNITED head coach Marcelo Bielsa has hailed the influence of Pablo Hernandez as his side today look to sign off 2018 with an eighth straight win.
The Elland Road club host Hull City sitting three points clear at the top of the Championship.
Thirty-three-year-old Hernandez has been an integral part of United’s impressive form with his seven goals putting the Spaniard second in the club’s scoring charts behind Kemar Roofe, who has 13.
“Pablo is giving things that we need to build our offensive play,” said Bielsa about Hernandez, who has switched from the right flank to play in a more central role following the recent untimely departure of Samuel Saiz to Getafe on loan.
“He can put the ball in the zones of the pitch where it is easier for us to finish the action and it is a very specific knowledge in football.
“You don’t teach this kind of knowledge. Some players learn how to do that with the experience if they have it naturally.”
He can put the ball in the zones of the pitch where it is easier for us to finish the action and it is a very specific knowledge in football.Marcelo Bielsa on Pablo Hernandez
Hull know all about the threat posed by Hernandez, who netted the only goal in the corresponding fixture last season.
Like a fine wine, the Spanish playmaker is getting better with age. Already he has had direct involvement – either by scoring or providing the telling assist – in more goals this term than in each of his first two campaigns in West Yorkshire.
On Boxing Day Hernandez took his tally of assists into double figures by providing the cross that Roofe converted to seal a dramatic 3-2 victory over Blackburn Rovers.
Only Lionel Messi in the top two tiers of Europe’s big five leagues – England, Spain, Germany, France and Italy – can match such a tally, underlining just how integral a part Hernandez is playing in the push for a top-flight return after 15 years away.