‘Silly’ window: Is there a problem with Leeds United’s scouting or is Bielsa too fussy? - Sue Smith

You never want to criticise Marcelo Bielsa because of how good a coach he is, but when the transfer window shut on Monday night with no more senior players added to his Leeds United squad, I did have my concerns.

Leeds fans cannot help but love him but there are things that frustrate you about him too.

Teams and players have taken risks in this transfer window – Frank Lampard in going to Everton and some of the signings he has made, Watford shaking things up, Aston Villa signing Philippe Coutinho was a risk for both, and even Arsenal moving on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

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I do not think they will go down but if they were to, Leeds might wish they had too.

Marcelo Bielsa, Leeds United head coach. Picture Bruce Rollinson

They are hoping players come back from injury quickly and stay fit.

When a player is rushed back after injury, playing at the intensity Leeds do, there is always the chance of niggly injuries and you need a squad to allow you to rotate and provide options from the bench.

They needed midfielders even before this window, and while almost all the other clubs at the bottom end of the Premier League have strengthened this month, they have not. I cannot think of a better word for it than silly, when you look at the amount of injuries they have had this season.

Leeds were offered Donny van de Beek and Harry Winks on loan in the window, but turned both down, and last summer it was Chelsea’s Conor Gallagher. There have been offers for other midfielders in recent windows, including Red Bull Salzburg’s Brenden Aaronson this time, but they could not agree on price.

Bielsa’s stance on valuations is all for the good of the club.

You see some clubs paying fortunes for bang average players who do not even fit the way they want to play, wasting money here, there and everywhere. Leeds do not have the finances to go and get a top club’s best player and we have seen what happens when players Bielsa is not totally sold on – as looked to be the case with Eddie Nketiah and Jean-Kevin Augustin – came in and he did not play them much. Joe Gelhardt looks like he can be a player but with only two Premier League starts so far, does not seem to fully have Bielsa’s trust yet.

I admire how Bielsa has his way and he sticks to it.

That is why they have been successful, why they got promoted, why they finished ninth in the Premier League last season and why we love watching them play.

If somebody does not fit into his way in terms of being fit enough, able to play his pressing game and the way he wants to play, there is no chance.

It must be so hard – Patrick Bamford has spoken about how he has nearly been sick on the pitch because he was working so hard – so you have to have a certain mindset as well as the physical attributes.

But there have got to be a couple of players out there ideal for what he wants and in their price range who could have fitted in pretty quickly. Is there a problem with the scouting or is Bielsa too fussy?

One of the things I like most about him is he has not had a complete clearout and brought in a totally new set of players. He inherited the likes of Bamford, Stuart Dallas, Liam Cooper, Luke Ayling, Kalvin Phillips and Mateusz Klich – not Premier League players back then – stuck with them and turned them into the players he wants.

It shows he has the skills to teach those who do not meet all his needs to become the complete Bielsa player.

Gallagher would have been perfect but it appears Leeds did not give him the guarantees Crystal Palace did.

They were probably just being honest but sometimes you have to tell players what they want to hear.

When I left Leeds I spoke to a few clubs and you could tell they had talked to people who knew me because everything they said was exactly what I wanted to hear about how they wanted to play and why they wanted me in the No 10 position but when I signed for Lincoln City instead and watched those teams the next season the reality was totally different.

Leeds fully fit and firing are brilliant and we saw some promising glimpses of it last month but they have been so unlucky with injuries and I just wish they had got a bit more help.