Ian Wright has torn into two key Leeds United men, with Marcelo Bielsa’s decisions irking the former Arsenal and England striker while Patrick Bamford’s form in the Championship has failed to make the grade.
Bamford has opened 28 of his 29 second-tier appearances this term from a possible 30, with his only absence coming in December against Birmingham City when the 26-year-old was sidelined with a dead leg.
The Grantham-born hitman is also our leading goalscorer in the second-tier, as well as being a pivotal piece of Bielsa’s jigsaw, having scored 12 goals to date following his game-winning brace against Millwall on January 28.
Bamford failed to stretch his tally further on Saturday as we lost at home to Wigan Athletic, in a match where the £10million ex-Middlesbrough forward missed two big chances to score – the only player to do so for either side.
His ability to squander big chances to score is nothing new, either, as Bamford has missed more than any other player in the Championship this season with 19 and counting as he boasts a goal conversion rating of just 13%, per Sofa Score data.
Wright vividly feels that Bamford ought to produce better numbers in front of goal, having lambasted his efforts in a scathing assessment of the former England U21 international.
“We are not talking about a prolific goalscorer,” Wright told BBC Radio 5 Live. “He’s a really good footballer in the respect of being a target man and holding it up – he’s very good in that respect, of course – but he has missed certain chances that you would have liked to have seen him take this season.”
Will Bamford's misses cost us promotion?
Bamford was not the only one to catch Wright’s wrath, either, as the two-time FA Cup-winning striker also laid into Bielsa for suggesting Jean-Kevin Augustin needed time to get up to speed in West Yorkshire.
Wright added: “Just going back to Augustin and Bielsa saying ‘he’s not up to speed’ – well, if you’re a striker, what speed do you need to be up to if you’re coming off the bench for 10 minutes at the end of a game you need to win?
“The way to get a striker up to speed is to get him on the pitch [and] to score a couple of goals. I just cannot go with that ‘getting him up to speed’. It seems just a ridiculous thing to say.”
Augustin was excluded from the matchday squads against Millwall and Wigan last week following his arrival on loan from RB Leipzig, with Bielsa noting that the Frenchman did not face the Lions as he was yet to train with the first-team at Thorp Arch.
The boss then suggested the 23-year-old needed more time to get into a condition where he could benefit our promotion push, having only started two Ligue 1 fixtures whilst on loan with AS Monaco for the first half of the campaign.
“He just arrived,” Bielsa said after the Wigan game, via quotes by Leeds Live.
“I try to evaluate always how he is integrating with the group, his adapting with our play and style. After I take a decision, always thinking of the best for the player and for the team. Today I put a substitute on the pitch like a second striker. I thought Tyler Roberts’s contribution was good enough.
“What I think is the manager has to help the player to make his performance good on the pitch, so I am always watching, seeing if the player is in good condition to resolve the needs of the team. Because when one player cannot resolve the needs of the team, after on the pitch, it is the player who gets the responsibility in front of the supporters.”
In other Leeds United news, a Whites talent has been ruled out for the next three months through injury.