Leeds United’s Marcelo Bielsa vows to fight to the end of the season

However difficult the circumstances surrounding Leeds United – and they have got tougher still since Tuesday’s 7-0 defeat at Manchester City – coach Marcelo Bielsa is up for the fight if yesterday’s press conference is anything to go by.

It was a spiky affair, with the Argentinian challenging reporters in a way he seldom does. The over-riding message, though, was clear – this is not someone about to quit now the going is getting tough.

Jamie Shackleton and Dan James picked up injuries in the midweek hammering at Eastlands, described by Bielsa as the team’s worst performance under him, and although the expected return of Robin Koch helps slightly, Junior Firpo is also suspended for tomorrow’s Premier League game at home to Arsenal.

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“I’m going to fight until the end of the season without any doubt and I hope nothing happens that doesn’t allow me to do that,” said Bielsa, who has always worked on season-long contracts during three-and-a-half years at Elland Road.

Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa.

Asked if he feared the sack, Biesla replied: “Do you think there’s a coach that is unsackable? Do you think I’m so vain that I don’t think I can be sacked? Do you think that after suffering a 7-0 defeat I can discard the instability?

“Of course the job of a coach is very unstable. I don’t have anything that makes me immune from that.

“After losing 7-0 it is the situation I have to live through. All I can do is fight.

“I face what I have to and I try to act with as much fortitude and strength as possible.

“I would prefer adversity to be something we do not need to face but if it does happen, more than interpreting it as something we can’t save, I try to imagine it as a new challenge harder than the previous ones.”

Reflecting on the club’s joint biggest defeat, Bielsa said: “We are not better than City, but we can compete against them. For that to happen, the first thing we need to do is make them worse than they are.

“To make them worse we needed them to receive the ball uncomfortably in attack but we didn’t get that. We needed our offensive resources to be noticed. We needed to give the ball to our forwards from closer but with the ball going up progressively, we didn’t manage to do that.

“We didn’t manage to weaken their qualities in attack and nor did we manage to show our individual or collective resources.

“After losing a game 7-0, you feel uncomfortable with what you offer. Of course, you feel weakened. It can’t be any other way.”

Liam Cooper, Kalvin Phillips and Patrick Bamford (all hamstring), Rodrigo (heel) and Pascal Struijk (foot) are also injured.

“Shackleton has a problem with his Achilles tendon and James has a problem with his adductor muscles,” confirmed Bielsa.

Defender Koch has not played since the opening weekend of the season, where he filled in Kalvin Phillips’s holding midfield role in a 5-1 defeat at Manchester United.

He returned to training at the weekend after pelvic surgery, followed by illness.

In an ideal world, Bielsa would prefer Koch to get some minutes under his belt for the Under-23s but he admitted last week the process might have to be accelerated because Koch is Leeds’s only fit centre-back. Luke Ayling played there in the last two matches, but might be needed in his normal right-back position with Shackleton and Firpo out.

“It’s not an evaluation we have made just yet,” said Bielsa when asked if Koch was ready to start. “Ayling came back to play as a starter after just 45 minutes with the Under-23s. Koch has accumulated training sessions that are sufficient.”