Sometimes as supporters, you don’t realise the extent of a player’s impact on a team’s performance until they’re not there. Many Leeds fans could feel this way about Adam Forshaw.
The central midfield schemer is not one of the club’s star attractions. He’s not going to dribble past five players too often, and he’s not going to hurt teams with his blistering pace. He is, however, vital to Bielsa’s side.
Missing the 28-year-old’s understated presence in the engine room, United don’t quite look the same side. Forshaw keeps things simple but effective. Operating mainly between the two penalty boxes, his positional sense, both defensively and when attacking, is superb, allowing United to pick up ‘second balls’ across the pitch to either relieve pressure or pin teams back.
The former Everton youngster, who has spent the majority of his career at this level with the likes of Brentford and Middlesbrough prior to joining Leeds last year, is tidy in possession, tenacious without out it and capable of the occasional strike from distance.
Bielsa’s side appear to lack that balance when Forshaw is not there (the midfielder is currently nursing an injury) along with his positional nous. They look a little more open to the counter-attack, something Forshaw is very adept at cutting out, either at source or through his strong ball-winning skills.
Forshaw is unlikely to ever get the plaudits of others or the recognition he deserves. However, he is a model of consistency, very much an all-round midfielder and a reliable figure in general.
Very rarely does he put in a less than ‘seven out of ten’ performance, and his teammates have grown to rely on him being in the right place at the right time to do the simple things, the task that needed doing there and then that would benefit the unit as a whole.
Though Forshaw’s performances don’t often grab the headlines and he’s very seldom in the media spotlight, Marcelo Bielsa clearly values the skills his midfielder brings to the side and United supporters on the whole hugely appreciate the simplistic, though unheralded, effect the 28-year-old has on their side.