Bielsa explains importance of Leeds returning top; praise for Costa

Marcelo Bielsa admitted it’s not too early to look at the table after Leeds United reclaimed top spot in the Championship with a 4-0 thrashing of Middlesbrough.

Leeds made it five wins in a row thanks to goals from Patrick Bamford and Helder Costa added to a Mateusz Klich brace, seeing them rise back to first in the table.

Bielsa was excited about getting back to the summit, but admitted the story could have been different if Boro had been able to call on a full strength team.

“We defended very well,” he said. “There was a moment in the middle of the first half when Middlesbrough created a lot of chances.

“It’s important, we have to say, they missed eight senior players through injury. They lost an impact. The players they missed are proper players and if they had all their players maybe the match would have been more difficult.

“We recovered the ball fast, but they had two good strikers and those two players didn’t have an impact on the match. Maybe it’s because we recovered the ball quickly and they didn’t have many balls. [Luke] Ayling, [Gaetano] Berardi, [Ben] White’s defence restricted their attackers.

“It’s not a good idea to give an opinion after we won and they lost. I think their players, full-backs, centre-backs, playmakers, too many important players out of the team. To think Middlesbrough we’ve seen today is the real Middlesbrough [is wrong], but we have to say from number 10 and number 30, both teams played similar.

“We scored in the beginning and end of the first half. Sometimes this fact makes easier the development of the match.”

Bielsa was pleased for goalscorers Bamford and Costa – especially with the latter getting his first league goal for the club. And the tactician is delighted he now has depth to work with in attack.

“[Costa] gave a step forward today. He scored. He is developing, but he can show more impact to unbalance the game than he did today. Every week he is improving.

“It’s a long competition. It’s very important we have players who play in different positions, like Pablo [Hernandez], [Stuart] Dallas or [Ezgjan] Alioski. Also important to have two options in each position. Both positions with the same level.

“We are happy Eddie [Nketiah] comes back. Yesterday he played 45 minutes and today he had 20 more minutes. Step by step he will get his fitness level to come back.”

After winning all their matches in November and finishing the month as league leaders, it’s been a good few weeks for the Whites. And Bielsa sees no reason not to celebrate their achievements, even if he still thinks there is work to be done.

“It’s important [to be top again]. It’s a long way forward. We have to give some value to the current position because in a league like this, the future is built match by match.

“The most important is the regularity in every match to make a difference. We cannot talk about regularity if we don’t let the league go more forward.

“One part of the competition where you win five matches always is good, but we also know we won two matches against Luton and Reading very late on, so there are a lot of details we have to analyse. Not just winning, you have to analyse how you win every match.”


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