Marcelo Bielsa went on an extraordinary 41-minute rant on Thursday explaining why his Leeds side were better than Manchester United last weekend despite being thrashed 6-2.
Question: How will you improve defence without impacting attack?
Bielsa: We have to analyse the last game in a very detailed manner to pick up the correct conclusions from the game. The only conclusion I have heard from the last game is we have to modify our style of play. The questions directed at the players tries to weaken the style of play we have. Suggesting to them whether they would ask me to change my style of play.
Having revised the game, and the real reasons of how we lost this game, they're not taken into account. This is not something new as media platforms, journalists, can only analyse results. Normally, when there is adversity, what you guys do is try to weaken those facing adversity or to ridicule the style of play of a team. I'm referring to the comment Leeds' style of play is attractive, especially to their opponents, but what really happened in the game has nothing to do with what's said in the press.
Some voices have the capacity to analyse beyond the result that offers some interpretation for what happens on the pitch. I don't worry too much about what the press think. I always listen, read and take the best possible message from what's written. What does worry me is what's written influences the public, they decrease the capacity to understand for the public. Also, try to destabilise by suggesting to the players the style needs to be changed.
Of course, this happens when the results allow. It doesn't matter if in the previous game, the opinion was completely different. Of course, the substance to try and reach a conclusion is the amount of goals we have been conceding. The context in the way we receive these goals is not revised.
Question: What is the single improvement you are looking for from your players in being solid?
Bielsa: To respond, I have to take the base of the last game. I can tell you the data we collected from the last game. From a physical aspect, Manchester United played their best game of the season and Leeds were superior in this aspect. In possession, we were superior, which does not signify anything, but within a context it starts taking some value. There was no clear dominance in the game. We were dominated and dominated in a similar manner.
The players who unbalanced from the opponent were 17 Fred and 39 McTominay. It wasn't Rashford or Bruno Fernandes, nor James who participated mainly to defend. With this decision, Man Utd were superior to me in the way I imagined the game because it helped balance the defensive system of Manchester United and I didn't think the key would be with the two central midfielders. If you look at the game in detail the unbalance comes from those two players. Offensive production from both teams was pretty similar.
We created 11 chances at goal, scoring two. Man Utd created eight chances at goal and scored six. They needed 14 chances to score six goals, we needed 13 to score two. The errors Man Utd made in defence were the same to the ones Leeds made. It's probable to be sincere and to be fair the sensation of danger from Man Utd was higher than from Leeds, but what is true is we created danger in a proportional way to Man Utd.
They managed to finish better than we were able to. As another aspect should be highlighted, the duels and disputes. In the duels, disputes and one v ones we were not superior to them. We can read this in two ways, in the physical aspect where we were better than them, you have to evaluate the concentration, explosivity and aggression where we weren't surpassed by a big margin. Also the technical aspect which they were superior to us in certain situations. What you are demanding or claiming is not the dominant factor.
You asked how we attack, but defend better. What you are proposing is abandon ingenuity and allow them to be superior to us. This is not something new because this has always been the idea the media portrays to the public. That the evolution only works if it gives immediate results. Forces us to improve, it never tolerates or accompanies. Leeds were consistent for two years in the Championship. There were few opportunities for the press to demand change as everything was going well. In the Championship whenever there was any turbulence, it was what you wrote.
You must understand the process to compete on an even keel is the same in every league. With respect to my mentioning they needed 14 chances and we needed 13, five of their situations were generated in three minutes, 84th, 85th and 86th minutes, when we ingenerously tried to convert 6-2 to 6-3. I feel it was less humiliating to lose 6-3 or 6-4 rather than 6-2. I will always gamble for the hurt to be a smaller one even if there's a risk of it getting better. This is why I say English football is one of the few altars where it is valued, in the attempt to be better, even if the opponent ended up being superior. Clearly, that stopped being this way. The spectators started thinking this way, which I think will affect English football.
With respect to the 14 chances they had and our 13, football has many casual things. If you look at the penalty Pascal conceded and you look at the intention of the pass in the James goal, effectively the pass from McTominay was being aimed at him or not because it's very easy to say it could have been 10-2 instead of 6-2, but whoever says this ignores what happened on the [?]. To finish this analysis, so it doesn't sound offensive, the frustration and the hurt the defeat has nothing to do with the messages we receive from our surroundings. Especially, if the messages are influenced by what's written in the press, which influences people.
The press has no influence over the team I managed. More than you suggested the style should be abandoned, I don't feel weakened by what you are proposing. It would be stupid on my part because I have all the resources to give my opinion to my players. That's to say the responsibility is mine and nobody else's. What I do signal out is bad interpretation of what happened on Sunday. To finish explaining this, 13 chances to score two goals and 14 chances for them to score six goals: if you look at the way they were scored. Set-pieces, Leeds were superior to Manchester.
We created four chances from set-pieces and scored once, they created three from set-pieces and scored one. In this manner, we can see the evolution of a team. Cooper has lost out the most in the aerial duels in these last 14 games. It's like this because he always defends against the best opposing header. In this game he scored and neutralised Maguire, who's a very a good header of the ball. That's the process I am looking for, to get closer to the best, capitalising on the errors we make to improve without trying to make tracks.
Nobody analyses the amount of blocks created in the set-pieces, which are fouls that are very visible and never whistled. We don't want use and we don't say anything about it, but it's very easy to say how badly they defend set-pieces or how much they've improved which, without observing the process, the improvement comes about. When Cooper wasn't on the field, Maguire missed two chances. Pascal marked him on both these and competed, but couldn't win. Cooper had many chances for him to improve and Pascal still needs them. The desire is to be better than Man Utd immediately.
The throw-ins are another form of creating danger, there was one sole action from them and none from us which created in this resource. Resulted in the second goal of McTominay. The pass Martial gives McTominay is almost impossible. Reading of this move we produced was near perfect. Having said this, Martial was the most influential of their four attackers. The long balls and flick-ons, common in English football, did not cause any danger in this game. There's the three great episodes we have to look at to analyse the game. Those I already mentioned are understood actions in football. Easier to analyse. Situations that produce when a team provokes the error due to the high press. Close to the area of the opponent when they try to build up. Actions at goal produced through close to the team's goal playing out from. This is also written as something naive, to play out from the back.
In this sense, we were better than Man Utd. We provoked four chances through this manner and scored one goal and Man Utd provoked three, scoring once. Two scenarios that distinguished the two teams, their counter-attacking and us trying to build the play to create danger. The counter-attack happens when the team that has the ball loses the ball with many players in the opposing half, with not many players back in their own half. The transition of those who recover the ball is faster than those returning to goal. They had four of these and scored twice. We didn't create any chances by this manner.
I obviously did all of this to feel what I am saying to you is the truth and I am not trying to tell you a lie. There's no action where they have more players than us when counter-attacking. It wasn't like Newcastle when we countered there were more of our players than theirs. It's true, while we had many players in their half, when we returned we were not able to neutralise them. This indicates we attacked with many players and now I am going to explain why we attack with so many players and the fact we could not counter. We were not able to finalise our attacks to avoid counters. In the building of the attacks, that is not a consequence of errors in moving the ball. They created three situations in this manner with one goal. The difference in the game.
I'm being resourced to build out attacks that allow us to create five opportunities at goal through this manner in every game. Demands we have in every game. We don't have one player to resolve the attacks on his own so we need many. This sometimes triggers opponents' counter-attacks. Counter-attacks are triggered when we are attacking. Of course, there's a way you can go about this. Not to take any risks, not to receive any chances, but this has little to do with how attractive football is. The real difference of the game was through our best resource we weren't able to score any goals and they were to take advantage of their best resources, the counter-attack. In this aspect, the two players who defined it were the centre-mids. That was a big error in my part because I never contemplated this. I reacted too late with the changes I made. I hope the explanation was enough to finish this contact.'