Loads of Leeds United fans have been reacting on social media, after Marcelo Bielsa claimed there was no link between declining performances and fitness levels at Elland Road last season.
The Whites stormed out of the blocks under the Argentine during his inaugural campaign in West Yorkshire, winning five of our opening eight Championship fixtures during an unbeaten start and going on to end the calendar year atop the table on 51 points after 25 games.
The New Year did not see the club maintain our supreme form in the second-tier, though, as three defeats in five kicked off 2019 on the back foot and we soon found ourselves inside the Play-Off places.
Our campaign would end without automatic promotion having taken 32 points in 21 games after the turn of the year – the ninth-best record – but Bielsa is adamant that our decline was not down to fitness levels decreasing.
“There is a lot of information, but there is no way to link the last part of last season with the physical performance of last season,” Bielsa told reporters on Thursday, via quotes by Leeds Live.
“We cannot link this because I verified it. Now, we are listening again the team in the second half of the season runs less and we are tired. We have information, data that points to the opposite. I have to find the mistakes where they are, not where they’re not.”
Are the concerns over fitness levels fair?
Bielsa’s comments sparked a lot of reactions on social media, with hordes of supporters concerned that the first-team may suffer from mental exhaustion rather than physical fatigue, or at least just as much.
The burden of guiding the Whites back into the Premier League can be a heavy weight for some to carry, with the club last playing top-flight football in 2004 and only twice reaching the Championship Play-Offs since our relegation.
There has not been any new top-tier silverware in our trophy cabinet since 1992, either, with the club clinching the old First Division crown that season following our most-recent successes in the FA Cup in ’72, EFL Cup in ’68, Community Shield in ’92 and our Inter-Cities Fairs Cup honour in ’71.
Here are some of the messages shared as fans reacted to Bielsa’s claim…
The players are not strong enough mentally and not enough quality through the spine to compensate for the mental fragility.
— Indy Bansel (@IndyBansel) January 17, 2020
Whatever the stats say the simple fact is that yet again we start to lose form about Christmas. Is it tiredness, small squad, unavailability of players or plain fear due to the weight of expectation on them? MB might not like the criticism but fans are worried of failure – again.
— Iain Groundwell (@Hauxley1) January 17, 2020
You can see why he’s defensive about it given that it happened at both Marseille and the first season at Bilbao. Interested more in the mental angle though. Think we need some experience in the transfer window
— Nigel Turner (@bunsey73) January 17, 2020
Not the physical. It’s the playing with fear that’s the issue. No leadership on the pitch in the toughest moments. That.
— fitzroybaggers (@fitzroybaggers) January 16, 2020
Was a mental burnout. Aka bottling it.
— Dan (@bwpyramid) January 17, 2020
It wasn’t physical burn out, it was mental. Team did not handle the pressure when it came on
— Mark (@eddiesLeftFoot) January 16, 2020
Yeah they just felt the pressure,and the pressure of millions of fans on them and probably saw twitter with all fans having meltdowns 😂👍🏻
— 💙Russ💛 (@russcausier) January 17, 2020
Maybe not physical burnout but I’d say there was a case to say they seemed mentally fatigued. Not as sharp from the intense training, and there was the same unrest/nerves around the team as they’ve just started to show again now
— James Smethurst (@Jsmeth1) January 16, 2020
Psychological burnout is probably an issue?
— Leedsfan (@Leedsfan75) January 16, 2020
In other Leeds United news, the club are claimed to be mulling over a bid to sign a towering £3million star this month.