LEEDS UNITED head coach Marcelo Bielsa has urged his side to be more clinical in front of goal or risk damaging their promotion bid.
The Elland Road club have occupied the summit of the Championship since the middle of last month and are two points clear of Norwich City.
Third-placed Sheffield United sit a further two points behind to underline why hopes are growing among supporters that this could be their team’s year.
Bielsa, however, has cautioned against such talk after revealing how a lack of a killer instinct is, in his mind, undermining their push for the Premier League.
“Usually I do an exercise to try and verify what would have been the final result if we were as efficient as our opponent,” Bielsa said. “How many chances does the opponent need to actually score a goal? I use this to measure our offensive play. It is a valid exercise.
“In spite of the fact we are top of the league we have the same level of efficiency as the teams who occupy the last five ranks (in the table).
In spite of the fact we are top of the league, we have the same level of efficiency as the teams who occupy the last five ranks (in the table).Leeds United head coach, Marcelo Bielsa
“We have the efficiency of the teams at the bottom of the table, but in spite of that we are top.
“The teams just behind us, the next six or seven, they score a goal with every two or three chances they have. We need five or six chances to score.
“That means we have to be very offensive. It is an obligation for us if we want to win games. That makes it harder to defend. That is why my final conclusion is that if we don’t defend well it is hard for us to win games.”
Sunday’s FA Cup exit at Queens Park Rangers came with a much-changed team as Bielsa looked to rest several key players following the busy festive period, while also dealing with a flurry of injuries.
Nevertheless the 2-1 defeat means United have lost three games in a row under the Argentinian for the first time.
Eight goals have been conceded, too, and Bielsa admits to being worried at how susceptible Leeds have become to conceding from set-pieces.
“It is not a new problem,” he said. “Every week we dedicate a high percentage of time to set-pieces. We have a look at what’s not well done and we try to correct it.
“Of course we try to find the solution to this problem with different players, but our best headers are (Liam) Cooper, (Pontus) Jansson and (Gaetano) Berardi. At one point we stabilised the problem, but as they are not in the team this problem is coming back again.”