This afternoon Marcelo Bielsa held a somewhat epic press conference, taking an hour to answer only five questions. Including a very detailed update on Jean-Kevin Augustin’s current situation at Leeds United.
Marcelo Bielsa just gave an hour long press conference. He answered five questions.— Graham Smyth (@GrahamSmyth) February 6, 2020
Summing it up in a tweet is beyond me. But supporter doubt came up, JKA playing when and only when MB thinks he's ready featured and Nketiah came up again.
He started out praising JKA’s abilities but quickly (by Bielsa standards) moved on to the player’s fitness levels.
“Augustin is a player who can make a lot of impact. He has a lot of skills. You realise that from how much he cost and the teams he played for. In the last 8 months he played 3 full matches and when this happens, the conclusions about his fitness levels are clear. Would a player with the ability of Augustin arrive to our club if he wasn’t in the situation that he’s in now? A player of his level, with his skills, if he’s playing he could cost £30m or £40m.
“If he arrived here without us paying that money, it’s because he has to resolve a problem - that he wasn’t playing. His fitness performance is very important. I’m confident in Augustin’s ability. I believe he’s a player with great skills. But in football, and even more in a league like the Championship, a player can’t arrive and play without being at an ideal level.”
“If Augustin gets to 70 per cent of his skills, it is enough for him to play here. If he can only use 50 per cent of his skills then it is not enough. It’s very easy to criticise Bamford because he misses chances but he scored 12 times. We shouldn’t under-estimate him.”
Patrick Bamford has the highest xG (19.62) of any Championship player this season but has returned just 12 goals. Of the 28 Championship players to have scored 8+ goals this season, Bamford has the highest negative xG differential (-7.62). #LUFC— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) February 3, 2020
This seems to imply that Marcelo Bielsa currently thinks that JKA is playing at about 50% of his level at the moment, and that will not be enough to see him involved with the first team - even off the bench.
What a complete waste of time that press conference was3 questions answered in 1 hour.Why did they sign JKA at all when they knew he had played so little and he wasnt at the required fitness,hes going to be another Izzy Brown under Bielsa. Bamford and Roberts its gonna be #lufc— Mark Kavanagh (@kavana25) February 6, 2020
Marcelo Bielsa also made clear that despite his goals and overall good performances in the U23 side, Ryan Edmondson’s performances “were never enough to be considered” for the first team. He then played well in training and injured his knee, requiring surgery.
This means that Leeds are likely to go into the trip to Nottingham Forest on Saturday, one of the biggest matches of the season, with no out-and-out striker on the bench following Tyler Roberts conversion to a deeper role by Bielsa.
Yes but surely having a Big Kev at 50% on the bench to bring on if we need a goal is better than having no striker whatsoever!!!! Can you ask Bielsa this @PhilHay_ ?! Why bother bringing on someone we need NOW if they’re not ready in Bielsa’s eyes?!! #lufc— WeAllLoveLeeds (@AllLoveLeeds) February 6, 2020
Even if Patrick Bamford was in the form of his life I would disagree with this decision. I think you have to have options on the bench and since Eddie Nketiah was recalled by Arsenal, Marcelo Bielsa has deliberately made a choice not to have options, first by not putting Edmondson on the bench, and now with JKA.
And the edmondson not doing enough in any of his u23s performances just seen a laugh to me he’s a strikers who’s always in the right place to tap them in exactly what we have missed? Bringing him off the bench wouldn’t of harmed us really would it!!!— Ben Lufc (@lufc_cheetham_b) February 6, 2020
For the defeat to Wigan Athletic he named Jordan Stevens on the bench instead of taking a chance on JKA. If Leeds needed to change things out wide, Pablo Hernandez, Ezgjan Alioski, and Stuart Dallas were all available and could have played on the wing by bringing on a central player such as Jamie Shackleton - the small chance we may have needed JKA to get something from the game outweighs the far smaller chance that Jordan Stevens would have been needed to get something from the game.
Obviously, we should have been able to win that match regardless of this decision.
There is a flipside to the argument obviously (and a man who knows a lot more than me is on the side of it), that playing a player who isn’t ready could be detrimental to the entire side and we know how important the process is to a Bielsa side. If JKA came on with 25 minutes left and pulled a Hamstring and was out for months we would be up in arms and this approach makes that less likely. However, I think this season is do or die, if we don’t do it this year we lose Bielsa/Phillips/White/JKA himself and perhaps one or two more. In my eyes, this is the time to gamble.
"surely he could play last 10-15 mins of Games"— WePlayAllTheWay (@RyanLUFC91) February 6, 2020
"he should be at least on the bench"
Are people forgetting that after one half on Monday Augustin hobbled off?! ♀️
No doubt people would moan about him being picked and now injured if same happened in senior side....#LUFC
No-one (with any brain at least) is suggesting that Bielsa is “the problem” or should be sacked, in fact he is my favourite manager of Leeds in my time as a fan (Revie and Wilko are before my time), but that doesn’t mean that I don’t disagree with the current lack of usage of JKA.
I really hope to see JKA named on the bench on Saturday, but I think it is more likely we will see him at Bootham Crescent in York on Friday night as the U23s take on Derby County.
Would you be throwing JKA into the squad straight away? Do you agree with Bielsa that he needs time? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @ThruItAllLUFC.