Marcelo Bielsa takes responsibility for same old story as Leeds United lose to lowly Wigan again

Marcelo Bielsa took the blame for Leeds United's latest failure at Elland Road as they lost 1-0 to relegation threatened Wigan Athletic and surrendered top spot in the Championship.
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It has become something of a broken record to report that the Whites dominated possession, created numerous clear chances and once again lost to a set piece.

The United head coach admitted it was an all too familiar story for his Leeds team.

He said: "I have nothing new to say.

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Patrick Bamford shows his frustration at one of the many near things for Leeds United against Wigan Athletic. Picture: Bruce RollinsonPatrick Bamford shows his frustration at one of the many near things for Leeds United against Wigan Athletic. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Patrick Bamford shows his frustration at one of the many near things for Leeds United against Wigan Athletic. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

"Anything I say maybe you could interpret as an excuse, a justification. Two questions that the match leaves. How could we lose this match, it was impossible to lose – not before playing, after playing.

“The second question is why did we lose a match that we had to win? What I do is ask myself what we should have done that we didn't do?

"There are close answers, that we should have scored one of the 15 chances we have.

"After 15 chances we had another 10 situations where we didn't create danger. These were clear situations with passes into the box.

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“Those 10 situations where we didn't create danger, inside the six-yard box, there were 15 players. So if the player who gives the pass tries to give an accurate pass, it's impossible. So what the player does it cross with strength and trying to find someone to touch the ball.

“Of course if the answer is that we need a player to unbalance the match, of course it is true as well. But 80 matches passed and we had the same situation here. We never resolved a match with an individual performance."

Bielsa refused to criticse his players, saying: "The way the team chose to the attack was the right one. We were the one team trying to attack. In defence I didn't see a problem.

“For us the length of the pitch is always 30 metres. One detail that is important to know - the teams that are forced to play in a space of 30 metres, normally those teams have players to unbalance a match with a dribble. We don't have those kind of players, just Helder Costa, The rest of how we attack is combination play between two or three players.

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“After the first half I said that to the players, try to remain focused in defence because it's very difficult for them to score. But after, what I imagined didn't happen. It was difficult to think how Wigan were going to score. And it was also difficult to think how we were not going to score. The two opposites of what I thought would happen, happened.

"I try to be in the position of the people who listen to all these arguments, you as journalists and supporters are the recipients of this message. I imagine that everyone is tired that it is the same.

"There is nothing that makes me feel more frustrated than not winning a match like this. But if was a Leeds supporter, I would say to the manager, explain to me what is happening the same, try to get what we need to happen.

“There is a big responsibility for me because after 80 matches we have the same problem and we cannot make the problem disappear. It is clear that the responsibility is on me.

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“If the team doesn't do what I ask, okay maybe it's not 100 per cent my responsibility, but if they do everything I ask it is more the responsibility of mine than the team.”

Bielsa added: "To finish this confusing analysis we are talking about a team that is second in the table now, it was first before play.

"Because if Leeds, who are top or second in the table have this self criticism and the criticism is deserved, this is what football has that is difficult to understand.

"For this reason when you listen to me very patiently but in reality when I talk with you I am talking with the supporters, supporters should say stop with the explanation and try to make happen what we need to happen."

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On why he did include new signing Jean-Kevin Augustin in his squad, Bielsa explained: "He's just arrived. I take the decision always thinking of the best for the player and for the team. I put a substitute on the pitch like a second striker and I thought the contribution of Tyler Roberts was good enough.

"What I think is that the manager has to help the player to make his performance has to be good. I'm always watching, seeing if the player is in good condition to resolve the needs of the team.

“I always try to give minutes to a player until he's in condition to give a good response on the pitch."

After the massive comeback win against Millwall it was set up for Leeds to crack on and put their difficulties since late December behind them, but despite taking charge of the game from early on the pattern for the day was soon set.

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Helder Costa cut in from the right only to see his shot beaten away by visitors' keeper David Marshall then Patrick Bamford got on the end of a low Pablo Hernandez free-kick, but shot over.

Jack Harrison twisted one way then the other on a great run into the area, but although he beat Marshall with his low shot the ball came back off the post.

Six minutes in and United had already had three decent chances without finding the net. On this frustrating afternoon they were not to come any closer than Harrison's effort.

Wigan looked occasionally dangerous on the break and their first shot saw Sam Morsy's shot from distance only parried by home keeper Kiko Casilla.

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But it was soon back to Leeds dominance as Ezgjan Alioski volleyed well over and Bamford went on a good run into the box only to have his shot beaten away by Marshall.

Bamford then missed a golden chance when he met Mateusz Klich's pull back, but miskicked when it looked easier to score from close range. The ball fell to Costa in the area, but he curled his shot just over.

Harrison scuffed a shot from the edge of the box to give Marshall an easy save and the wide man became the next to miss a sitter when he had the goal at his mercy, but failed to make strong contact after meeting Bamford's cross.

Joe Williams hit the side netting with an angled free-kick before Stuart Dallas had a shot well blocked to end the half as it began with the hosts on top only to be frustrated.

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Without producing the scintillating football they had at times in midweek, Leeds stayed on top after the break and managed to miss another big chance when Bamford met Costa's cross from a short corner only to make poor contact with a free header at the far post.

Dallas volleyed another of five corners in quick succession over and Costa got in behind the visitors' defence, but found himself squeezed out as Marshall came up with the ball.

Wouldn't you just know it after all the home corners Wigan won one and scored from it. Williams' near post corner flicked off the head of Hernandez and ended up in the far corner of the net.

Leeds responded with Bamford volleying wide from close range while Morsy's shot from range was well held low down by Casilla at the other end.

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From this point it was Wigan's back nine against the home attack and frustration was clear in the crowd after Bamford failed to put away another chance, seeing a header cleared.

Substitute Tyler Roberts tried his best to change United fortunes, but he saw a shot deflected just wide.

For all the Whites huffed and puffed in the closing stages they failed to create any more clear opportunities and it was all over once Costa fired over deep into injury-time.

Match facts

Wigan Athletic 1

(Hernandez og 60)


Attendance: 35,162

Leeds: Casilla, Ayling, White, Cooper, Dallas, Klich, Costa, Hernandez, Alioski (Roberts 64), Harrison, Bamford.

Wigan: Marshall, Kipre, Dunkley, Naismith, Byrne, Morsy, Evans, Williams, Pearce (Jacobs 84), Massey (Lowe 69), Moore.

Referee: Tony Harrington.