Nigel Martyn has told LeedsUnited.News that he wants Marcelo Bielsa to set his Leeds United side up more defensively at the beginning of matches following Sunday’s 6-2 defeat to bitter rivals Manchester United – and discussed whether Leeds and Victor Orta need to enter the January transfer window to bring a new central defender to the club.
It has been a couple of days since we were hammered by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, and while the pain may still remain for some – the long-term realisation is that Leeds will be hit for five or six at times this season, under Bielsa. But with that, comes the fact that Leeds will score five or six in some matches, last Wednesday’s win over Newcastle, for example.
Three points from those two matches is not the end of the world. Michael Owen argued recently that if Leeds sat back and played more defensively, they would be beaten 4-0 by a team like Liverpool, rather than lose 4-3. Crystal Palace sat back on Saturday, and were beaten 7-0 by the champions. But there is also an argument that being more disciplined, especially to start with, can give Leeds a foothold in the match.
Three minutes in against United and Leeds were 2-0 down, and after 20, it was three. Elland Road legend Martyn told LeedsUnited.News Bielsa needs to adapt to the results and instruct his team to start off more solid, before growing into the game and allowing his preferred tactics to then be implemented when they have a foot-hold in the match.
“It was a horrendous start, two down in three minutes. You’ve got to start slower, the mistake they made was they wanted to play they way they’ve always wanted to play from minute one. There were times when they lost the ball and the entire midfield was out of position. A bit too gung-ho straight away, sit in establish yourself first. But after 2-0 or even 3-0, you’re chasing the game,” Martyn said.
“It was a disastrous day. It’s so easy to sit back and analyse it because you could pull it to bits, but mainly it is because they lost the ball. The one-touch football, as lovely as it is, comes with risks. At the start of games, get 10-15 minutes under your belt before you start playing that way. They won’t change the way they play, and it’s brilliant to watch. But start more solid.”
Following Sunday’s heavy defeat to a side so revered by Leeds fans, it is hard to argue. Another issue from Sunday’s match was an injury sustained by Liam Cooper and while it remains to be seen how long our skipper will be sidelined for, it is a third first-team central defender on the treatment table – along with Robin Koch and Diego Llorente.
So, do Leeds need to enter the January transfer market? The issue Orta has is spending money on another defender will then see the club have four centre-backs on the books. Not only will that cause unrest given four are fighting for two spots – but it would block the pathway for rookies Pascal Struijk, Olly Casey and Charlie Cresswell into the starting line-up.
But a loan move in January could be ideal, as Martyn says: “It depends on the length of these injuries. We’ve got Burnley at home and West Brom away, and you cannot afford to lose those games. The next two are vital. It’s how bad the injuries are, if all three are missing for the next two or three weeks than that becomes a problem.
“Yes there are players that can cover, but are they as good? No,” Martyn continued. “We’re very thin, we might have to get someone on loan. The quality you need, other Premier League clubs might not want to help you out. It will be difficult – it depends on how quickly we can get them back.”
Leeds are next in action on Sunday against Burnley at Elland Road – a side bang in form under Sean Dyche, having beaten Wolves on Monday night. They are also a side that boast former Leeds players in Charlie Taylor and Chris Wood, and a team that pride themselves on being solid, physical and commanding from set-pieces – everything Leeds are not, right now.