Can I please start by asking about your injury situation? You’ve obviously been missing some big players recently. Are you likely to have any of [Patrick] Bamford, [Luke] Ayling and Raphinha back this weekend?
Ayling will probably be able to play with the under-23s on Monday as he’s healthy now. [Jamie] Shackleton is also healthy. Raphinha and Rodrigo are also available. The ones who are finishing their period of recovery are [Robin] Koch and Bamford.
From that, it sounds like Raphinha will be the only one you’ll have back for the weekend, but I suppose that’s still a boost to you given what he brings to the team?
I will repeat everything once again: Shackleton is available, Raphinha is available, Rodrigo is available, Ayling is healthy, it’s likely he will play with the under-23s on Monday as a further step to his total recovery. The only two players in the final period of their recovery is Koch and Bamford.
Bamford has an injury in his ankle. It has been a serious injury and the evolution changes. That’s why his definitive recovery is extended. Koch had to go through surgery and the terms of his recovery are what was expected. You cant be absolutely precise and that’s why I always say it’s subject to the evolution of depending on how it goes while they’re recovering.
Things obviously sounding a little bit better on the injury front and given recent performances as well, you must be looking at things quite positively?
There’s two ways to see it. One of them is we are avoiding being in the bottom three. I don’t hide that or try to shy away from it. It’s the reality we have to face and it’s the situation we need to avoid. The results we have obtained up until now are those that position us in the table where we are. After, there’s the performances and what you deserve. The performances in the last period have been improving and what we deserved that allow us to think we should have a few more points. I don’t ignore the reality and I always fight to reverse a negative period.
Kalvin Phillips played very well last week at centre-back. He handled Harry Kane very well. Is that a position you think he can play moving forward for Leeds and potentially for England as well? They normally play three centre-backs.
Our best player in the game against Tottenham [Hotspur], he was our best player in the moments that corresponded with him playing alongside [Liam] Cooper and [Diego] Llorente, following Kane when he dropped deep.
We had talked about thinking who could adapt best to Kane dropping deep and it was Phillips. It’s a method that’s very clear in Tottenham. Kane drops and Kane does the diagonal from the left to the centre [to Heung-min Son].
We resolved that with Phillips and Llorente paired up with those two players and with Cooper waiting as the free man. That worked very well. Nothing that allows a player to shine should result in it being uncomfortable for him.
From my point of view, the best of Phillips, you will find it when he plays in the middle of the pitch. With respect to his position in the national team, it doesn’t correspond for me to have an opinion.
On the team news: Crysencio Summerville wasn’t involved last time out, is he injured or is he available to you this weekend?
I decided for [Liam] McCarron and [Stuart] McKinstry [against Tottenham].
We spoke to Raphinha yesterday, which was a real joy in itself. He talks about how he still tries to play like he did in the varzea games in Brazil. How much of your job is it to remind, not just players like him, but other players, to be able to play as if they were like a child with that freedom of expression?
To be a professional player, an important contribution is to possess a high spirit of amateur. I am referring to what a player develops when they play for nothing, without expecting any recompense apart from the victory.
They are the future of professional footballers, they consolidate the most important parts of that to then become professionals. Raphinha is a clear example of this. He has not lost anything you achieve when you play for fun.
Of course, it’s added to this amateur spirit. He has had added a lot of things the professional game demands. The important thing is the development of those virtues that come from when you’re a child because the ones that come with the professional game are complimentary.
Of course, Raphinha is recognised and he will be so more and more for his capacity to invent responses that are not expected. That’s not a virtue you obtain through professionalism. You have to conserve it, keep it, despite the professionalism.
The Government says it’s looking at an independent regulator for football, it says to preserve the future of the national game. Do you feel an independent regulator is needed to protect football going forward?
I cannot give an opinion because I don’t have sufficient information.
Looking at Brighton [& Hove Albion], how would you sum up the characteristics of their side under Graham Potter?
They are a team that’s flexible in the way they line up and they play players in different positions. They do this very naturally and efficiently.
Can you learn anything from last season’s games, particular the one at The Amex, given that was only in May?
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They are referential, but that’s about it because every game is new.
Looking at the positives from the Spurs game: Joe Gelhardt again showed he can play at that level. Have you been at all surprised by his acclimatisation or did you expect him to slip in?
In some ways, when I put a non-habitual player in the starting XI it’s because I’m convinced he can offer a positive result. It does not surprise me he can compete at this level, but he has worked a lot to gain these opportunities he has been given.
Are you concerned about your position in the table at the moment or do you think the injuries you have had are a mitigating factor?
The injuries are not one of the reasons why we are there and of course it worries me, the position we occupy in the table. I am in charge of a group of footballers to warrant, to deserve to be in a higher position. The club has trusted in me and one of the aspects that shows this confidence is what they pay me to do this job. Of course, these results I am offering are not what’s expected.
I know each game brings fresh challenges, but does the problem you tried to fix at Spurs last weekend occupy much this week? Do you have to prepare for the eventuality another team will try to replicate it and how do you prevent that from happening?
The previous game is always a reference and the next one in the same way. We combine both things and the week has been sufficiently long to correct and to project.
Which parts of your job do you derive most joy and satisfaction from?
My job will provide me satisfaction when we do things on the pitch that are valued. I know clearly when we defend well and I know clearly when we attack well. I also know how to perceive the responses of the assistants to the game to what we generate. To give an example, when the first half finished against Tottenham, I realise the stadium had valued what we had done, whether it be our own fans or those who assisted the game in general. That impulse we did in the first half did not last long enough in the second half.
You will have seen this week Ian Poveda has suffered quite a serious injury with Blackburn. Do you have any words for Ian? Have you spoken to Ian?
We established a contact with him, all of the technical staff, to know about our sadness and how we will be close to him after what’s happened to him. Either way, he’s a young man with a lot of character and that’s going to allow him to recover and come back stronger than before.
Tyler Roberts has played in every single league game for you so far, but he’s started only one and he saw Joe Gelhardt of course start on Sunday. If Tyler was interested in a move away in January and wanted to pursue more opportunities ahead of the World Cup next year would you seriously consider that or would that leave the squad too short, do you believe?
With respect to if we are missing players or if the squad is short or small, I have the impression, we would have to value if the team really needed signings and if the design of the group was badly calculated in function of the injuries that were produced.
When you add players to have a bigger group it decreases the possibilities to come into the first team. When you have more players for the same needs, there is less minutes for the players so I look over the decisions that I make.
When Shackleton has been the alternative to Ayling when he hasn’t been there and when he has played it has been valued. Pascal [Struijk] has been the alternative when [Junior] Firpo and Ayling haven’t been available at left-back and in the last two games, he has shown that he deserved that trust.
When Llorente has been missing, [Charlie] Cresswell and Ayling have given positive responses. Of course, when I make these observations I always measure what the public thought, what you guys thought of their performances, the same when Cooper has been missing and Pascal had to play.
In the last games, [Adam] Forshaw and Pascal have been the alternatives when Phillips hasn’t been there and [they] have been satisfactory. In a need to replace [Mateusz] Klich, Forshaw and [Stuart] Dallas have done this in a good way also.
The patience Rodrigo needed has born fruit and we found in him an offensive midfielder that is solid. In the absence of Bamford, [Daniel] James has continuously given better performances in that position and not to have brought in more players has allowed Gelhardt to express himself.
And the absences of Raphinha and [Jack] Harrison have been covered by Summerville and James and always with the acceptance of the public and the media, so I try to see if we really have to adhere to these demands for signings, or if to keep the same players and to have patience because it allows James to consolidate himself, for Gelhardt to find the space, that Summerville can have the same process as Gelhardt, managing that Forshaw has a constant presence in the team once again, allowing for Rodrigo as a nine or a 10 to show his qualities, being able to allow Ayling to play well as a centre back and Dallas as a left full-back, capitalising on Pascal as an important player and Shackleton.
So I am not the owner of the truth, nor am I immovable in my point of view, but there are messages I need to know how to interpret and for that reason, I evaluate the decisions I made, without this having been just my decision I always give the example of [Illan] Meslier.
That when such a young player came as an alternative for [Kiko] Casilla, who came from Real Madrid, it was also a question mark. So of course there are players with more entity, but it is also true the contributions of Shackleton, Pascal, Cresswell, Forshaw coming back, Summerville, Gelhardt, that if we had a squad with more players, these options that have consolidated the group wouldn’t have been produced.
And of course, not all clubs can incorporate players without limits, and in a club that has bought Rodrigo, that has bought James, that bought Raphinha, that bought Llorente, Firpo, Koch. There are many signings and naturally in the capital that is invested I feel completely I have been given the resources.
I need to put the points of correction where I think they should be so I don’t have positions that are fundamentalist and I don’t abandon in any way, but I am obliged to analyse the messages I receive.
Tyler is also someone who I have accompanied with, with his efforts to get into the team and whilst he continues to have that desire to fight for a place in the team then I will still want him to be here. It is different when a player has the desire to leave. When a player has a desire to leave, there is no point in trying to keep him.
To summarise, the club has put enough human resources at my disposal for the results not to be different. I can’t attribute the position in the table, nor the injuries, nor to a not sufficient amount of players. Obviously what is left is the management of the players that I have and that is where the focus of the attention is and everything I have just said I have said it by giving points and arguments.
Every word Marcelo Bielsa said on injuries, Summerville exclusion, Poveda injury, Roberts future Source link Every word Marcelo Bielsa said on injuries, Summerville exclusion, Poveda injury, Roberts future