Marcelo Bielsa has admitted he is struggling to coax consistency out of his injury-hit Leeds United squad.
The Whites were excellent in the first half at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last week, but lost 2-1 after being unable to withstand a comeback from Antonio Conte’s side. On Saturday they were poor throughout at Brighton and Hove Albion, although less so in the second half. Even so, they could have won it with Robert Sanchez twice denying substitute Tyler Roberts in a matter of seconds. As it was, they could be grateful for a 0-0 draw.
Brighton hit the woodwork three times, although once after a cross from an acute angle. With his side one place above the drop zone, Bielsa knows he needs to get more out of his squad.
“When a team performs consistently it’s due to numerous factors – because the players are at a good level physically, tactically, and they’re well mentally,” he commented. “When you manage to mix in proportion creativity and organisation, those are the things I try to get.
“Clearly the function of a coach is for each player to play comfortably and that his mood allows him to have a good physical performance, bringing out all the energy they gain through their preparation, that they have confidence, security to improve their esteem and increase their creative options. That’s my function.
“When it doesn’t happen it’s because I’m not doing it well but football has secrets that sometimes are difficult to solve.”
Despite appearances, Bielsa said Kalvin Phillips’s half-time substitution had not been down to injury, and that his replacement Pascal Stuijk – surprisingly left out of the XI given his recent form – was not fit to play a full 90 minutes.
Leeds are at home to Crystal Palace on Tuesday, and Brentford on Sunday.