Leeds United journalist Phil Hay has recently revealed a modification in training that Marcelo Bielsa undertook ahead of the Manchester City game.
On the latest episode of The Phil Hay Show podcast, the panel spoke about numerous issues involving Leeds and their recent 2-1 win over Manchester City.
Hay talked about whether the Whites had trained in a 10v11 scenario before the game and revealed that even though Bielsa denied that in the press conference, the side had actually trained in a different manner.
Are Leeds now evolving as a team?
After the game, Bielsa was asked about whether Leeds had trained for the situation that they found themselves in. The Argentine denied that they had done so.
Hay revealed that some amount of training was done in a different way. Instead of man-marking, they trained on switching markers.
The journalist stated: “I asked him afterwards – how much you spend in training on 10 versus 11. Because in that scenario, you’ve either got a plan and you’ve got a strategy, or you fall to bits and you take a bit of a pasting and he said, ‘nada’ – we never do this, we don’t plan for this, so none of this is down to my influence.
“But from speaking to other people at the club, it was quite clear that last week, they’d worked on scenarios, which, if not precisely 10 versus 11 – so preempting a red card – were certainly designed for a scenario where Leeds were very defensive and were finding possession hard to come by, and were pretty much under the cosh, which is always likely against City and there’s always the possibility that you will get overrun at the Etihad.
“So rather than strict man-marking, which is obviously the system Bielsa likes to employ, they worked on switching markers, which meant that if they were totally defensive, they could avoid overloads, they could avoid getting exposed one-on-one. Basically, teaching them to know who to switch to and how to shift around at the back, so that there were never any concerted gaps to play through.”
TIF Thoughts on Bielsa’s adaptability…
Leeds managed to beat Man City while having an xG of only 0.3 and only 29% of possession. It was only the third time in the Premier League campaign that they generated an xG of less than 0.5, but it was also the first time that they won the game with those numbers (as per FBref).
In the current season, the Whites have had the fourth-most amount of possession per game, standing at 55.6% (as per WhoScored).
It shows that while Leeds can win games using the preferred man-marking approach, they might also be evolving as a unit to be more flexible in their approach and Bielsa’s methods are paying off.