AFTER a week that saw Marcelo Bielsa hailed for his exciting brand of football by Hull City counterpart Nigel Adkins, Leeds United’s head coach insists the players deserve the credit and not him.
The Argentinian has made an instant impact at Elland Road since his appointment in the summer.
Leeds, with 22 points from 11 games, top the second tier on goal difference from fellow White Rose duo Middlesbrough and Sheffield United.
Adkins’s praise for Leeds in the wake of Hull’s 1-0 defeat on Tuesday night – he said Bielsa’s men would take “teams to the cleaners” this term – may not have gone down too well with his own club’s fans.
But the United chief was touched by the sentiments expressed by a rival, adding: “I thank him for what he said and especially when it comes from someone like him who knows the Championship very well.
“This increases the obligation to justify the good words said about us.
“The recipient of these words should not be me, it should be the players. But I accept them and I am grateful.
“When you reject good words you can make people think you are falsely modest. I hate false modesty because you want people to think the opposite of what you are saying.
“I only hope we will deserve the same good words at the end of this Championship because we have many things to prove and to demonstrate. That has not happened so far.”
A big test awaits Leeds tomorrow as sixth-placed Brentford head to West Yorkshire at the end of a week that has seen their manager Dean Smith linked with the vacancy at Aston Villa.
“Teams like Middlesbrough are very strong in the aerial game and with the 50-50 balls,” added Bielsa, when asked about the challenges posed by a competition where teams in the top half of the table are separated by just half a dozen points.
“You are sometimes afraid of them. Then you have teams like Derby County, who have other features linked to a different offensive way of playing.
“There is a style I like a lot, it is Preston’s style and they are in the lower part of the table. But when results become the only argument opinion doesn’t matter any more.
“If you evaluate the results a team produces as an exclusive argument we would not need press conferences any more because we would have no subjects to talk about.
“Preston and Brentford have a similar style with young players and attractive football, but they have different results.”
United must tackle Dean Smith’s Bees without Barry Douglas, the left-back having suffered a hamstring injury in the win at Hull.
A scan has revealed that the damage is not as bad as first feared and the summer signing may be back to face Blackburn Rovers on the resumption of the Championship season after the international break.
Stuart Dallas, who joined Leeds from Brentford in 2015, stands by to deputise as Bielsa is forced into a first change to his starting XI in six outings.
Providing he gets the nod ahead of Tom Pearce it will be a welcome change for the Northern Ireland international whose only start for Leeds this term came in the Carabao Cup exit to Preston North End. His six appearances in the Championship have all come from the bench.
Bielsa added: “In the last few games the first offensive substitution we had was Dallas. He knows how to play deep, he makes very good crosses.
“He makes surprising movements from defensive to offensive positions. He is very skilled.
“I think Dallas is like (Ezgjan) Alioski, but on the right. Alioski’s style is offensive even if he defends very well.
“And the style of Dallas is more defensive even if he attacks very well. Both of them can play on each side.”
Bielsa may also be forced into another change due to Pontus Jansson’s partner being due to give birth.
“I don’t know yet,” said the Leeds chief when asked about the Swedish defender potentially being unavailable. “But human aspects are always more important that the football aspects.
“In the majority of cases like the one you are mentioning the players can combine both cases.”
Leeds will definitely again be without Kemar Roofe, Patrick Bamford, Gaetano Berardi and Pablo Hernandez as the club look to build on taking four points off Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday and Hull in their last two outings.
What Bielsa will not be doing, however, is unnecessarily obsessing about tomorrow’s match.
“Apart from football I don’t know how to do many things,” he added. “My life is summed up by football and family. But to understand it better it is sometimes best to watch a good movie or read a good book.
“It is better to do that than to insist on focusing on football because when you insist you make much effort but you don’t take a step forward. When you observe and watch football in an exaggerated way you don’t improve.
“Obsession is described as a virtue and we identify obsession with work. But when I look obsessively at my work, I know I am close to failure.”
Tigers takeover: Page 28.