Leeds United are a better team defensively this season because they have learnt from their mistakes, according to Marcelo Bielsa.
Whatever the flaws in the Whites’ game ahead of Saturday’s Championship visit of Blackburn Rovers, their defensive record is outstanding.
Sheffield United and Leicester City are the only other English league teams to have conceded just eight goals at this stage, and they have played 11 matches to Leeds’s 15.
It is a big reason why they are third in the Championship, only behind Preston North End on one goal’s difference.
The team was breached 50 times in last season’s 46-game campaign, and head coach Bielsa believes they have learnt more from that than anything he has told them.
“Mistakes that allow opponents to score help the player to improve,” said the Argentinian. “You can say to one player, ‘Don’t make this mistake,’ but it is less effective than when a player makes a mistake and learns from it because it has a consequence.
“I always hope to prevent a player from making the mistake first but when I see a player make a mistake and how he changes behaviour in the face of the error, I realise it is more important for the learning process of a player than if the manager prevents the mistake.
“We make less mistakes than last season because we have learned from it.
“I could have answered this question just with one word, experience.”
Injuries continue to challenge Leeds at the back.
With Ezgjan Alioksi, who had been at left-back recently, suffering a side strain, Barry Douglas and the versatile Stuart Dallas are obvious alternative, but Bielsa has been impressed by 19-year-old Leif Davis.
“Davis is another option with value,” he commented.
“He is a very good player and I have good options in the future.”
Midfielder Jamie Shackleton has picked up another muscle injury and is unavailable, while Eddie Nketiah’s abdominal problem is being assessed on a weekly basis.
Whether the on-loan striker’s rehabilitation will be at Thorp Arch or with parent club Arsenal is up to him, according to Bielsa.