Marcelo Bielsa's 'alien' methods bearing fruit - even if Leeds United's players don't always realise at the time

Leeds United centre-back Liam Cooper (right) has spoken about coach Marcelo Bielsa's methods
Leeds United centre-back Liam Cooper (right) has spoken about coach Marcelo Bielsa's methods
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Marcelo Bielsa's methods were “a bit alien” to Leeds United's players at first, but now they are coming to grips with them, according to captain Liam Cooper.

Sometimes, says Cooper's central defensive partner Ben White, they do not even realise they are carrying them out.

In terms of goals conceded per game, the Whites have the best defensive record in the English leagues, having only conceded nine goals in 16 matches.

Captain Cooper gives a lot of the credit to Argentinian coach Bielsa.

“We base our game around a man-to-man philosophy and it's paying dividends at the moment, everyone knows that, expected of them,” he told a Q&A with fans shown on LUTV.

“I think it's come on leaps and bounds over the time we've spent together.

“When Marcelo first came in it was a bit alien to us, it was hard to get to grips with but you get more confident with it.

“We know when we've defended well because me and Ben don't have to defend too much.”

The summer sale of Pontus Jansson could have derailed Leeds defensively, but White has made an impressive impact since joining on loan from Brighton and Hove Albion.

“It's definitely different to what I'm used to,” said White. “There's so many things to think about and so many things that you don't know you're doing during the game because of the stuff you've done in the week, you just do it,” he said.

That White, like club-mate Kalvin Phillips, has been linked with a move to Manchester United, is a sign of his progress. Cooper has been particularly impressed.

“He's a joy to play with and an unbelievable player who's going to have a great career in the game,” he said.

With the success Bielsa's methods have brought has come new challenges, according to Cooper.

“Expectations is a massive thing at this club,” he said. “Especially over the last 18 months it's gone to a whole new level.

“We weren't used to it but as a group we've become accustomed to that.

“We also know what we've got to do on the pitch, how we approach it, how we motivate each other. I think the bad experience of last season (losing out in the play-off semi-finals) has been turned into a positive because we're a lot better equipped to deal with those moments, those bad results.