Leeds United v Tottenham - Patrick Bamford has qualities like Premier League’s finest, says Marcelo Bielsa

In some ways, Patrick Bamford’s season has reflected Leeds United’s.

Centre-forwards are often reliant on team-mates and the fact the early-season flood of goals from Bamford has become more of a trickle says much about how Leeds have evolved.

The last time they played Tottenham Hotspur, on January 2, it marked the end of a very Leedsy week. On the Tuesday they had been imperious, in winning 5-0 at West Bromwich Albion. On the Saturday they were porous, unable to stop Jose Mourinho’s side winning 3-0.

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The week before Christmas followed a similar narrative – 5-2 victors at home to Newcastle United on Wednesday, beaten 6-2 by Manchester United on Sunday.

Leeds United's Patrick Bamford lobs the Liverpool goalkeeper but hits the bar. Picture: Simon Hulme

Neutrals loved it and the prolific Bamford was emblematic.

With Mourinho replaced, temporarily at least, by former Hull City midfielder Ryan Mason, the Tottenham at Elland Road today will be different but so are Leeds, harder to break down but not as creative.

It is the balancing act managers must constantly perform and even one as revered as Bielsa is still working on.

When Harry Kane put his 10th Premier League goal of the season past Illan Meslier it only caught him up with Bamford but now he is top of the charts with 21, the Leeds man trailing with only 14.

Bielsa, however, has never judged Bamford on goals alone.

“In the last few games we haven’t managed to defend well and attack well at the same time,” argues Bielsa.

“Defending well has taken away a little bit of our presence offensively and his goalscoring form is linked to how many chances he has.”

Bamford is a student of the game who likes to learn from the best centre-forwards and there are few better than England’s ultra-consistent captain Kane.

On sheer ability, Bielsa sees his centre-forward in the same bracket.

“Bamford has qualities like the best strikers in the Premier League but qualities in football are just the starting point,” he stresses.

“After is the player’s capacity to put his qualities into the collective play.

“Bamford is a very, very dedicated professional who analyses the best goalscorers in the world in detail.

“There are players who have very few qualities but put them on show at their maximum and players who have more qualities but only put on them show 50 per cent of the time.

“Bamford has all the skills to be a very important player and I feel more responsible than him that he hasn’t managed to achieve it.”

Getting the best out of his team will allow Bielsa to once more get the best out of Bamford.

“Bamford must participate in the creation of danger but the team has to produce chances to be finished,” he argues.

“I am responsible for the management of the ball creating danger and in that sense I haven’t managed to achieve what I’m looking for.

“The other day I was reading (Manchester City manager Pep) Guardiola said aggression to recover the ball is linked to aggression in attack. It says if I’m lukewarm recovering the ball I’m going to be lukewarm attacking.

“Aggression has to be present in the hearts of the team and it’s a very difficult thing for us to manage. To give the team this aggression they need to attack and defend is a very difficult task and I’m talking about my own team’s limitations despite being the team that runs the most and is the most intense. In no ways is intensity the only element that constitutes aggression.

“In the last game we ran more than any opponent and out of all the games played we were the team that ran the most and with the most intensity and this didn’t translate.”

Translating Leeds’s aggression into consistent winning football will be key to translating Bamford’s talent into the goal returns of early-season. Given how quickly they have evolved since they last faced Spurs, do not bet against it.

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