Leeds United 2 (Roofe 69, Hernandez 86)
Bristol City 0
The most important thing today was winning the game, another game, like Ipswich and Wigan, that teams like Leeds, if we are serious about a promotion push, have to be winning. And we did win it so it’s almost churlish to pick fault… but I have to say there are some things about Marcelo’s team choices that I just do not even pretend to understand!
In particular I really cannot fathom why he has continued to leave out Samu Sáiz from the starting XI for a fourth consecutive game. I am clearly missing something because for me, every time he comes onto the pitch, we start to look a really decent side while without him we look toothless and unimaginative apart from when Pablo Hernandez is on the ball! At the Hawthorns we had a massive 72% of the possession and yet created virtually nothing until Samu’s arrival and it was looking like a similar scenario today too for an hour or so. Did it surprise any Leeds fan that Samu and Pablo combined to recreate the goal Pablo scored at the Hawthorns; an almost identical copy!
There wasn’t much between these sides for an hour – I’ve heard Lee Johnson’s post-match comments, and while I don’t agree with his statement that his side “were the side who looked like we were going on to win the game until the red card,” I do agree with him when he also said that the game turned at that point. But it wasn’t just the fact they went down to 10 men… it was the arrival on the pitch of that man Samu Sáiz too that ultimately did for them.
I think I know why Samu was dropped; I presume it was his wastefulness with the football, a sin that Bielsa hates above all else. Swapping Forshaw for Samu increased our possession stats to levels even greater than we saw in the early weeks of the season – Forshaw would be well suited to Ronnie Vieira’s old song because… “He never gives the ball away” whereas we know Samu does and hence that further increase in our possession stats. But, to win games, we have to speculate a bit too, we have to find that killer pass, and the only two players we have who are constantly able to deliver such passes are Pablo and Samu. So, sorry Marcelo, but I just don’t understand that one.
This proved to be a great match in which to blood young masters Huffer and Halme – the 18th and 19th players Bielsa has picked in a starting XI so far this season. Huffer did most of the little that was asked of him well, apart from one punch in front of the Kop that had us all shouting “catch the f****r” and a couple of wayward kicks while I thought Halme looked the part – he reminds me of “nice” Daniel Ayala… if ever there was such a thing!
So, on we go to the next game, Tuesday night against Reading and another game that anything less than a win will cause us all to wonder again if we really are strong enough… Help me out here though Marcelo… please start Samu!
Leeds Utd Bristol City
Possession 63% 37%
Shots 20 7
On Target 6 1
Corners 10 8
Fouls 7 9