For Leeds United supporters, getting used to Marcelo Bielsa’s tactics is still a challenge all these years later. The Argentine is one of the canniest managers in the league, and has become accustomed to trying out something totally outside the norm. However, moving a creative target man in Patrick Bamford back into a midfield role is definitely something that most fans would have seen as extra ambitious – even for a mind like Bielsa’s!
That, though, is what might happen moving forward. In a 3-0 loss to Liverpool, in which Liverpool youngster Harvey Elliott broke his ankle, fans seen Bamford take up some rather intriguing positions. The final half an hour of the game was played out with ten men, after Pacal Struijk was sent off for the tackle that hurt Elliott. Despite winning the ball, the player walked for the severity of the injury if nothing else.
When that happened, it left Leeds having to move things around to try and stem the flow. As one of the best pressing teams in Europe, Liverpool can harass teams into submission with eleven men. With the game likely gone at 2-0 and with ten men, Leeds looked to make a change – and what Bielsa chose was strange.
The tactician took both Tyler Roberts and Bamford and dropped them into a three-man midfield. It left the team more or less without an attacking option, but it did allow for a temporary rally where they stopped Liverpool from overwhelming them.
What did Patrick Bamford say about playing in midfield?
After the game, Bamford spoke bout the challenge of the game, the Struijk tackle that led to the red card. When quizzed about the tackle and what it meant for the game, Bamford told Match of the Day 2 staff: “It was tough to be honest,
“It was one of them where as soon as we got the red card I actually dropped into the midfield three so me and Tyler were playing like two eights really. And then it was like stick with Fabinho and try and get forward when we get the chance and get the ball back but don’t jump too much on to the centre backs because obviously it leaves the midfield free.”
When asked how he found playing in the middle of the pitch, especially with ten men, Bamford added: “That can be frustrating because you are just following a guy around and they have still got the ball comfortably. It was tough. It was hard because I don’t think we gave a really good account of ourselves.
“In the first half when we had 11 men we were a little bit sloppy. We gave the ball away under less pressure than we should have which was frustrating but it made things a little bit difficult.”
For Leeds fans, the hope is that the frustration from this match will allow for the players to re-focus and aim for a first win of the season in the next match.
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