Former Hull City defender Alex Bruce has urged Marcelo Bielsa to adapt his system at Leeds United, otherwise the Argentine can forget about securing promotion into the Premier League.
Bruce has suggested that the demands that Bielsa places upon his players are too extreme to cope with the strains of competing in the Championship, where fixtures come at you thick and fast with no chance to regain your breath.
Bielsa had never managed in England before joining United in 2018, after which he led the club to our first Championship Play-Off appearance since 2006, though our place came about having fallen away from the automatic places.
We witnessed the same collapse over the festive period this season, having been 11 points clear of third-place on December 10 but found ourselves level with highest-ranked Play-Off contender Fulham on February 8.
Bruce vividly fears the effects of Bielsa’s system, and has all but stated that the boss can forget about securing promotion unless he is willing to adapt.
“When you think of the leagues that he’s been in and managed in, there’s only one Championship,” Bruce told Football Insider. “Physical-wise, you play Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday – it’s relentless, speaking from experience.
Does Bielsa need to adapt his system to the Championship?
“It’s probably the toughest league possible, I found the Championship physically harder than the Premier League because you play two games a week all year. You don’t get any mid-season breaks or anything like that.
“Whether he hasn’t adapted to it, I’m not sure, I’ve never worked with him so I wouldn’t know. However, if you do go into it and you’re not keen to change your ways or change your methods to suit how the Championship is, nine times out of ten you’ll get found out.”
A turn in form, back in our favour, has seen the gap to the Play-Off places re-open recently, but we go into Wednesday night’s clash with Middlesbrough seven points behind league-leaders West Brom and three points clear of third-placed Nottingham Forest.
Whether Bielsa needs to change his style remains to be seen, though, as for all the while claims of ‘Bielsa burnout’ are made, we remain near to the top of the standings.
Former Scotland international Gary McAllister also acquitted Bielsa of fault in our decline over the festive period, and instead suggested that it is the mental fatigue of a promotion campaign that is drawing on the players.
Bielsa needs to focus on ensuring that is not the case over the final 14 games of the campaign if he is to secure a place in the Premier League for next season, as his style of how the game should be played has worked for us more than it has not.
In other Leeds United news, a former Whites star has rued the club’s failure to land a 23y/o in January.