Marcelo Bielsa faced the press ahead of Tuesday's game against Hull City at Thorpe Arch alongside Patrick Bamford. He kicks off by apologising for being late; "I’m very sorry for being so late, but don’t tell the rest of the world".
Team news ahead of Hull
No news. Cooper is out of the group. Phillips comes back, that’s all. He comes back to play. Someone is going to leave the team. I have not decided.
How adaptable were the players to Coopers absence if it was a very late decision?
In the case of Cooper, Ben and Liam have played a lot of matches together. Adaptation not difficult. Ayling, Berardi, Phillips are players used to playing in defence too. I think if we miss Liam there is not a great difficulty to adapt. Same if Berardi or Ayling plays. Eighteen months together. So there are a lot of things we know how to do.
Six matches in three weeks - hopeful they will play this period?
Regarding my own calculation, statistics, in every match we miss four players. For this reason, we have 18 players and four young players with us. So, when you have four, five, six injuries, we can solve it and it’s something that happens all the time. If you see the research about this, the team who makes least changes in the line-up is Leeds. That is possible because there is regular performance, but also because we have fewer injuries.
Why do you think the injury problems are better this year? What has improved?
Maybe I didn’t expressive myself well. We are prepared to have four or five players injured. And another positive fact is our players are used to our style of training, how we charge them and after you have more hours working to prevent injuries.
On Oliver Casey’s debut this weekend
He played just a few minutes to take conclusions. He’s a centre-back who is able to play as a defensive midfielder. He’s a young player looking for space like Davis, Struijk, Hosannah. They are players working with the team for a while, as Clarke, Shackleton were before. They achieve to add to the group.
Only West Brom have stopped Hull scoring this season
It’s a team with good attackers. They like to play in attack, you can see this. All of them manage the ball well. They have a clear style and they are a dynamic team.
Bowen the main threat?
You know how he plays. This season we can see a lot of good attackers in every team. And in most of the teams, not just those at the top. This is a very good player who unbalances the team. And he scores because he has a good shot.
Always we prevent the team how to avoid risk from the opponent when they attack. Our defensive method does not change. What chances is the level of the attacker.
We don’t underestimate inferior opponents so we prepare ourselves for the worst situation. In this case he’s a great attacker but we keep working in the same strategy and keep trying to improve this.
Lessons from last year? Enjoying it more?
If we learnt something we have to show from now. In football, every achievement, you cannot enjoy it. If there is a difference, we still have to show it. It is not the proper time to say we have made a difference yet.
It wouldn’t be good to compare this team to last year’s team. There are problems from last season we are solving, but solutions we found last year we are not finding this season. Last season we scored every four or five chances, now it’s seven or eight. Last year we didn’t have a clean sheet like now, but it’s just analysis, we cannot say a good defence now means a good defence in the future.
We interpret one part of the good competition as we are talking about the whole season. If there is something we have to learn from last season, it’s not important what we do at halfway, more what we do at the end.
I take conclusions about this part of the competition. If I answer the question you are doing, after we don’t know if it’s true in the future and we will stay in a bad position. Answer is to ignore what happened last season, more important at the end of the competition. Every team has a lack of regularity in the competition.
We have to prepare the team to correct this bad role or correct moves. There is something not convenient - thinking we have achieved something before we do.
Do you have a style you relish facing?
Control the game, that is best for us. Avoid them having the ball. Try to avoid they find us with a lack of organisation when they recover the ball.
A lot of managers are impressed by Leeds going man-to-man off the ball
I don’t consider that defending one v one is something good. I think it’s the opposite, not good. But there is something worse than defending one v one - letting opponent have no markers. I would always like our players mark one of them, the closet one and not follow one across the whole pitch.
Now if we cannot make the exchange of mark naturally, I prefer that our opponent doesn’t find free players. What you ask is the most difficult to achieve. We are working for a year and a half to avoid persecution but we have not achieved that. But what we have achieved is out players marking.
McCalmont and Edmondson out on loan next month?
Something we have to take in January. Always we are going to do the best thing for their development. I know why you are asking about Alfie and Ryan because there are a lot of players like them who deserve pressure like that.
For Patrick Bamfords words from the press conference, read the comments >>>
Lean in September - how quickly things change?
Every footballer has a patch of bad form. Working hard come through other side. Stick with it. Give your all without goals. Concentrated on that.
Every footballer has ups and downs. Moulds your way. Youth teams you get a tough skin. Learn to deal with things. Everyone has strong belief. Need it to make it this far.
Simple as rub of the green? Growing as a team?
Last 18 months - where we came from as a squad, spoke a lot last year, pretty much the same team before Marcelo. Turned us into contenders. Learning more each week. Gained players. Lost Pontus and Roofey, gained White. More to come.
Importance of late goals
We’ve had two games in short time where it went terribly last year. Makes a chance to nick those last minute goals. Put a run together. This time last year similar position. Can’t take our foot off the gas. Last year standards put us in better shape to approach these challenges.
Month ago - debating Patrick or Eddie - how much do you push each other?
Always good to have competition. All positions. Does push you on. I know Eddie’s there if I’m not doing my job. Saved my skin this year when I’ve missed chances. Had a great impact on us. Makes an impact when he comes on. If things aren’t going well he’s nice to bring on.
They give me grief in the last few and if they give it they have to take it.
[Going down well - shows doing right thing]
Away fans booing you you’re doing something right. Don’t see myself as a nasty, horrible guy. When you go through a drought there’s other things you can bring. Helping the team by roughing the opposition up or just doing different things.
Bielsa said he's hands off this year - experience of that?
Doesn’t matter how old you get you always learn. He learnt more from us last season. Experienced players - Cooper one of five captains with a strong input. Marcelo understands that and knows when he needs to say something. Not always his place to speak. Trusts us to control it as needed.
Not stepping in when winning?
No, he does. Perfectionist. We’re still making errors. Little things we should be getting right. Always improving us.
I can’t thank him enough. Always cried out for someone to believe in me, put their belief in me. Big statement by signing me. Stuck by me, stood by me this year. Done well when there was stick, I was still offering something else. He understands that, team-mates understand that. Can’t be more grateful.
Hull ended the run last year - big shock?
I thought we would win. Can never do that in football. Every team in this league, nobody running away. So many good teams, each team has its own difficulties. Got to show respect, but also keep confidence without over confidence.
Roughing opposition - a surprise?
I’ve had to develop. Most teams play one striker. On your own you have to do that. May go whole game without a chance, need to put yourself about for the team. Physically stronger. Developed a lot. Come with experience.
How much attention do you pay to scoring charts?
Quite a bit of attention. Every striker wants to be at the top. Mitrovic is catchable, so it’s something I look at, but without getting too far ahead of myself.
Two horse race in the Championship now?
No. You can never say that until the end of the season. So many teams there that you can’t write off. It’s so close it would be unfair to say otherwise.
Interaction with defenders?
Friends with Keogh off the pitch, but on the pitch it doesn’t matter. Even talking to them is simple. Depends on the opposition.
Is there more to come from this Leeds side?
The most complete performance was Boro and apart from that we’ve been really good in patches. Fans were crying out to put a team to the sword and we did that against Boro, but we’re capable of more. Picking up 1-0 wins away from home, you take them all day. Looking back at Huddersfield, we played terribly. We felt it wasn’t one of our great games, but we won. Main thing is getting three points.
Second season - way you're coached has changed?
We’re more used to the way he wants to play. All repetition. Etched in your brain as second nature. Become more apparent. Not getting across the style he wants will become more consistent.
It’s not about the 11 players who play. Majority of people who score, our squad quite small compared to others. Youngsters have their part to play. Casey looked right at home. Put that belief into every single player.
[Personally - because of his pedigree - does it feel better when he believes in you?]
Sometimes you forget how much he’s achieved in the game. Just your manager. Does have a big impact on you. Coached some of the greats over the years. Longer I spend with him the better.