HEAD COACH Marcelo Bielsa last night refused to get carried away by Leeds United’s return to the Championship summit as the season reached the halfway stage.
A stunning fightback saw the Elland Road club come from two goals down at half-time to beat Aston Villa at Villa Park. Kemar Roofe netted a dramatic ‘95th-minute’ winner to ensure Leeds leapfrogged Norwich City at the top of the table.
We still have to play the same amount of games we just played. You know that in football you can’t make provisions or anticipate things.Marcelo Bielsa
Asked about the significance of being top at Christmas, Bielsa said: “We still have to play the same amount of games we just played. You know that in football you can’t make provisions or anticipate things. That is why we will try to win the games one by one when they come.”
After falling behind to first-half goals from Tammy Abraham and former Barnsley midfielder Conor Hourihane, United needed a spark on the restart.
It came via the introduction of teenager Jack Clarke at the interval, the York-born winger netting his maiden goal to start a fightback that gathered further pace when Pontus Jansson headed in an equaliser just after the hour.
“He was very important because he scored the first goal,” said Bielsa when asked about youngster Clarke, who has just eight appearances from the bench to his name in senior football. And he gave enthusiasm to the team. We always felt he had the capacity to make the difference.
“When I started to look at his skills I did not imagine that he could make the difference as he made the difference now.
“As with every young player I think he can improve a lot, but at the same time he has to confirm his level and show what he is capable of.
“We know that the feature of a big player is to maintain the same level of performance.”
Pressed on whether Clarke was ready for his first start, Bielsa added: “He is a young player and we have to manage his time of play. That is my opinion.
“If we build an image which is an exaggerated one of his capacities instead of helping him we will be hurting him.”
United’s sixth straight win came on an afternoon when Barry Douglas had to pull out during the warm-up through illness. This saw Leif Davis, one of six Academy players on the bench, handed his debut.
Patrick Bamford, only just back from a three-month absence through injury, was also missing after landing awkwardly on his knee in training on Saturday. Bielsa says the striker may return against Blackburn Rovers on Boxing Day, as could Douglas and Tyler Roberts.